Now I know this might be a little tl;dr, and I'm normally one of the last people to praise the MSU football team, especially Dantonio, but they've done something pretty amazing this year for members of my extended family.
Earlier this year, my 11 year old cousin was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, an agressive type of brain cancer. She began an agressive series of chemotherapy treatments, that will likely continue until July of next year. Before she began the treatments, she was a very active person, playing on a travel soccer team and various other sports. After she started treatments, her teammtes began making bracelets with her name on them similar to Livestrong bracelets, and now most of her league, friends, and family are wearing them.
So now cut to the first week of the season, when my brother, another cousin, and me are catching MSU's season opener on TV, and we notice a bunch of the MSU players and coaches wearing her bracelets on the sideline and in the game. A few minutes later, they run a bit about the Spartan player who was playing for the first time since surviving cancer, and they cut to a shot before the game of him talking to some people, lo and behold it's my 11 year old cousin with her brothers and parents. Then her parents email out to the family a bit later with the details. Both of them are MSU alumni, and she has been visiting practices and meeting with the coaches and players, who have been giving her advice and support. Here's an excerpt from the email, with names edited out for her privacy:
"Today she visited the MSU football players in their closed practice. The players and coaches were absolutely amazing with [her]. Tomorrow the conditioning coach, Coach Mannie, who is taking her under his wing, is making copies of a biography that we gave them on [her]. He told the team that each of them will have the bio of [her] in their lockers tomorrow (copy of the bio attached). In addition, he told the team that [she] was there to give them her bracelets. He told them that she is watching them play on TV and watching for the bracelets. Thus, he expected all of the team to be wearing their bracelets at this Saturday's game vs Ohio State. At the end of the practice Kurt Cousins lead the team in prayer and prayed first for our family and [her] and of course the team. He is a really amazing guy! Coach Mannie then gave [her] a beautiful necklace and bracelet that his wife picked out for her and a card signed by all the players. He told [her] that he will make sure that she is on the field before every game this season that she is able to attend. When he took [her] in the HUGE weight room where he works with the team, he gave [her] some of the cherry juice that the football players drink for her to try (we have been trying to get her to drink cherry juice and when we went in the weight room there was a sign on the coolers saying "cherry juice is only for the football players"....wow sometimes God just puts those signs in the right places) and he told her when she is done with treatment, he will personally work with her on conditioning. Last but not least he emailed us a bunch of pictures from today before we even made it all the way home. It was yet another special day with the MSU football team for [her]."
Now despite the homerism in my aunt's description, I was blown away by how the team is treating my little cousin, and I guarantee it's helping her (she's normally very shy and reserved, but her doctors have been remarking on her energy and dedication, I imagine meeting with these guys has to help that somewhat). All I know is that this year, aside from October 15, I'm going to be cheering for the Spartans.
The more things change...
Well, that went better than expected. There's plenty of good things to see, but almost all of them come with caveats:
- We shut down a QB with a decent arm who was pretty productive last year
- Denard's running WOOOOO!
- DLine got good pressure
- We're causing lots of turnovers
- Defense looks more sound in general
- We kind of dominated a decent team
- We're 4-0!
- He was missing his NFL caliber WR's
- Denard's passing, eeerrrrr....
- DLine kept losing contain
- We're giving away lots of turnovers
- Every now and then we look like the keystone cops
- Brady Hoke has their playbook, signals, and personell memorized.
- We were 4-0 the last two years...
Next week won't be much of a challenge or informative either. Especially if Marquis Gray is injured or hampered. So the good news is that we look like it's an easy road to bowl elligibility, but whether or not we can beat any decent bigten teams remains to be seen for a couple of weeks.
I don't know if his throwing arm/shoulder is tweeked, or if he's still just struggling with his footwork, but his accuracy is way off from last year. He had a terrible overthrow on the deep ball, the interception that got batted up was due to placing the ball too high when throwing at the TE, and the other interception was due to him missing the zone coverage. He's also staring down the screen receiver and other receivers sometimes.
But hey, HELLLOooooo speed option!
This play works because of two things. Two of their defenders just flat out over-run the play because they're freaking about Denard's speed
And we get great downfield blocks that are sustained. It really is as simple as getting a hat on a hat when you've got dilithium in the backfield. The play is setup so nice that Vincent is celebrating the TD before Denard even passes the line of scrimmage!
Here's the same moment from behind. That's a nice hole.
Give some credit to SDSU, they stuffed this play when we ran it again in the 2nd half. But when you've got a guy who can do this:
You can't win just on positioning.
You can have perfect position, and Denard can stil make you look silly.
Lloyd Brady Approves! (drink)
Various Defensive Awesomeness
Mike Martin is awesome. I think all D-Linemen should have a background in Judo or Wrestling or both. On this play he doesn't get to the QB, but he causes a rushed throw with his bull rush.
First, he's quick off the line and gets underneath the pads of the guard and pops him back.
Then he drives him back so hard that the tackle has to come down and help out.
But he's got so much momentum that he's buckled the guards legs and knocks him over.
At that point there's nothing left to do except laugh at your defeated foe and scream bloody murder at the QB. RVB also does a nice job of beating his man on his speed rush.
Kenny Demens is often awesome. On this play Demens demonstrates the textbook definition of "fill the hole and blow up the blocker".
This is your typical power iso play with a FB and a pulling linemen leading the way. Demens recognizes run action and gets on his horse.
RVB does a great job on his slant to fill the hole. This bounces the play outside. Demens reads this too and accelerates to take on the blocker.
Hawthorne is a little slow to react and gets blocked too easily here. But because Demens hits his man so hard, the ballcarrier has to stop his feet and go backwards.
Meanwhile, Jake Ryan has beaten his blocker with a quick step (Dude has a quickstep, this is my meme for Jake Ryan from now on.) and cleans up the play with a TFL. Hawthorne is getting held, but he has to do a better job of reacting and shedding his blocker. This is probably why he got benched for a bit.
Craig Roh is still fighting for more playing time in the DE rotation, but on this play he shows how to shed a blocker using leverage.
Roh is kind of tall and lanky, that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you use it. Here he pushes his blocker sideways and gets him off balance.
Then he just tosses him aside and has eyes on the ball carrier. Results in a TFL and great play.
From the other angle you can see how Roh uses the blocker's arm as a lever and just dismisses him. Hawthorne could learn a thing or two from this.
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows.
In last week's tardy diary, I discovered a new pet peeve. That pet peeve now has a name. It's called FUCKING AROUND WITH ALIGNMENT IN SHORT YARDAGE SITUATIONS. (FAWAISYS)
It's one thing to flop the defensive alignment when it's 1st or 2nd and 10 or even 3rd and 5. No one's in a rush and it doesn't really matter if you give up an easy yard or two. But when it's 3rd and 1 or 4th and 1, you're really pissing me off with chinese firedrill bullshit. It makes you vulnerable to the quicksnap and if you're all worried about where you're supposed to be, you're not thinking about the play, the snap count, or the 600+ pounds of blockers that are coming at you shortly.
It happened all game. And it's not like we're forced to do it. It's just that some d-calls have us locked onto their formation strength.
This is the most egregious example:
This is a three man shift, the two TE's on the left are moving to the right and the FB that was at flanker is moving into an I form. Jake ryan is perfectly at rights to be moving. Nothing wrong yet.
And then the ILB's see it and swap places. Okay, nothing big about keeping the Fritz and Mike responsibilities on Hawthorne and Demens respectively.
But do the DE's really need to flip on this play? Are their responsibilities and talents that different? Why can't RVB just squeeze down and Jirbeel Black flex out a bit? Or is it that Black can't take on two blockers and needs to speed rush from the uncovered end?
So now we got 8 guys moving around and they've got about 1.4 seconds to get their shit sorted out.
Which is made harder when the two DE's collide 0.o And the secondary is completely lost and in no position to support the run.
It's 3rd and Fricken 1!!!
So, let's summarize. It's 3rd and 1, our DE's are hugging each other, our OLB is out of breath from sprinting into position, our DB's are in a cover 2 umbrella, there's about Umpteen million different ways for SDSU to pick up 1 yard without having to touch anyone, and we've got about 0.7 seconds to get lined up on 3rd and fucking 1.
Yes it's true that the offense has to reset for a second after the shift, so you theoretically have time to get setup. But one of these days it's going to bite us for a critical conversion. So far, Brady Hoke's Magical Golden Poop actually got SDSU to false start while we were running around like chickens with their heads chopped off.
- I'm not thrilled with our FB play. #44 doesn't seem to get his pad level low enough or drive through his blocks.
- Hopkins.... HOLD ON TO THE DAMN BALL.
- WTF is this? Does SDSU have some new cheerleader wannabe's?
- Who does this band director think he's fooling?
1 Drum Major
12 Alto Saxophones
12 Tenor Saxophones
4 Bass Trombones
6 Snare Drums
4 Bass Drums
AND NONE OF THEM ARE LOOKING AT YOU!
[Ed: MGoWife got this in the inbox and forwarded it along to me for obvious reasons. A good cause and a good way to get your recipes in the lore of Michigan tailgating.]
Hi, everyone --
Just received this email from Alpha House, which helps the homeless in Washtenaw County, and thought some of you might like to submit recipes to them.
" ... we would love to include you in a tailgate project to raise money to support Alpha House, a local shelter for homeless children and families in Washtenaw County (www.alphahouse-ihn.org). Over the next three weeks we will be collecting your favorite tailgate recipes, memories, and photos to be published in a cookbook celebrating the long tradition of Michigan tailgating.
Please consider sharing your favorite recipes, the history of your tailgate and/or any tailgate photos. Any and all recipes from appetizers to bbq to dessert are welcome and desired. We will compile the recipes, stories, and photos into a beautiful (and delicious) tribute to UM tailgating. If you would like to share with us please email recipes (you can use the attached
form or another format that works for you), pictures and/or tailgate remembrances to Helen Starman (email@example.com) or Kelly Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have any questions at all please feel free to email or call Helen or Kelly (734.822.0220).
A shelter in East Lansing very similar to Alpha House has had a lot of success with a similar project the last two football seasons. We of course expect to show them who reigns supreme in all football matters in the state of Michigan.
Intern, IHN @ Alpha House
MSW Candidate, 2012
University of Michigan School of Social Work
So we close the books on the 2010 season and get ready for 2011, leaving behind the weirdest season many of us have ever seen for any sports team ever. With just a few days away from the season opener against the university of ontario, I thought I would give my take on the 2011 team and how the roster is shaping up so far. (To avoid confusion, Everyone listed on the offensive line chart as “Wing” is because they are all listed as left wings and I don't know where they will end up)
Departures (Rating 1-5 based on impact of loss)
Carl Hagelin (F) 2010 stats: GP-44, G-18, A-31, Pts-49, PPG Average-1.1, PIM-39, +21
Obviously losing the captain hurts. He was a balanced scorer, a great defensive player, maybe the fastest player in college hockey and the heart of the team. Impact of loss 5/5
Matt Rust (F) 2010 stats: GP-44, G-5, A-21, Pts-26, PPG Average-0.59, PIM-41, +14
Losing the captain hurts and so does losing the alternate captain. Rust was a tough gritty player who played above average defense and was a presence in front of the net. I was tempted to rank his loss impact lower because of penalty minutes and posting a career low in goals, but he was a great player and an even better teammate. Impact of loss 5/5
Louie caporusso (F) 2010 stats: GP-41, G-11, A-20, PTS-31, PPG Average-0.76, PIM-22, +17
One of my favorite players on the team, also one of the most dynamic and frustrating players we might ever see when he wasn't busy being the love expert. Louie put up good numbers and could skate really, really fast, but always left fans wondering when he was going to wake up and actually start scoring. If it didn't take him a quarter of the season to find the scoring touch every year he could have put up numbers like chad kolarik or kevin porter, instead 60 point seasons became 40 point seasons. Impact of loss 4/5
Chad langlais (D) 2010 stats: GP-44, G-2, A-15, PTS-17, PPG Average-0.39, PIM-24, +16
A mainstay on the blueline for four years langlais started every game of his career for the wolverines and was a solid defensive player and an assist machine. His offensive production can be replaced but his duribility and leadership can not. Impact of loss 3/5
Brandon burlon (D) GP-38, G-5, A-13, PTS-18, PPG Average-0.47, PIM-28, +14
Solid defensive player who provided a spark on offense but spent a little to much time in the box. His departure is softened with the return of jon merrill, and his stats are almost identical to moffie with more penalty minutes. Impact of loss 2/5
Scooter vaughn (F) 2010 stats: GP-44, G-14, A-10, PTS-24, PPG Average-0.55, PIM-45, +15
Not a player who was expected to do anything except kill penalties, but getting 20+ points from unknown players is a trend red has become know for and I don't expect it to stop now. Impact of loss 2/5
Ben winnett (F) 2010 stats: GP-40, G-5, A-7, PTS-12, PPG Average-0.30, PIM-24, +5
Ben never achieved the success at the collegiate level that he had playing junior hockey but came through for us when we needed it most, scoring the first goal against north dakota and the first goal agaisnt UMD. Impact of loss 1/5
The rest of the departures include fallon, llewllyn, and hogan who's loss will not impact the team. I would like to give hogan a 1 but injuries kept him from finishing a promising career.
Chris Brown JR, (LW) 2010 stats: GP-42, G-9, A-14, PTS-23, PPG Average-0.55, PIM-59, +16
Solid player who can put up better numbers if he stays out of the box, needs to step up and take a bigger role this season. Spent time with the US national team during the GLI last year.
David Wohlberg SR (c) 2010 stats: GP-37, G-15, A-6, PTS-21, PPG Average-0.57, PIM-42, +3
Offensively a good player but the +3 is a little worrying. If he can cut penalties down 30 points is not out of the question. Named second team All-CCHA
Luke Glendening SR (RW) 2010 stats: GP-44, G-8, A-10, PTS-18, PPG Average-0.41, PIM-26, +15
Named captain for the 2011 season, solid offensive player who walked on to the team. May be the player who steps up and provides leadership left by the departed hagelin and rust.
Luke Moffit SO (LW) 2010 stats: GP-36, G-5, A-8, PTS-13, PPG Average-0.36, PIMS-12, +7
Good season for a freshman, defensively needs some work. Needs to step up production or else one of the many freshman left wings will take his place.
Kevin Lynch JR (c) GP-44, G-11, A-5, PTS-16, PPG Average-0.36, PIMS-36, +3
As of right now the only center listed on the roster (unless im missing something). Very talented offensively but the +3 indicates defense is a question mark. Since lynch may be the only viable option at center besides wohlberg, staying out of the box is key for this offense and 36 penalty minutes is to much.
AJ Treais JR (RW) 2010 stats: GP-42, G-9, A-13, PTS-22, PPG Average-0.52, PIM-12, +4
Another solid offensive player who improved from freshman to sophomore year, but the growing trend with the offensive players so far is the low +/- number. With a young group of forwards this team is going to need to lean on defense and the upperclassman need to step up.
Alex Guptill FR (Wing)
Drafted 77th overall by the dallas stars. He finished his 09 season with 64 points, but slipped in the following years finishing the 2011 season with 25 points and a -13 rating which can be attributed to playing with a poor team. The high draft pick shows that scouts still think that he is a promising player who can contribute at the next level, which is great for us.
Derek Deblois SO, (C?) 2010 stats: GP-27, G-1, A-6, PTS-7, PPG Average-0.26, PIMS-20, +8
Getting this far down the roster it starts to get a little murky. Deblois is one of many wingers listed on the roster, but since the incoming freshman are higher rated recruits and no true centers are left I would imagine he would shift to the middle. As for his talents his scoring output is pretty low but the +/- is surprisingly higher than expected. The problem for derek is the penalties which is the same for every player on last years team, and what made me and every other fan bang our heads against the wall. (Seriously seven penalties vs ferris?)
Lindsay Sparks JR (Wing) 2010 stats: GP-17, G-4, A-2, PTS-6, PPG Average-0.35, PIM-8, +4
The great unknown for the 2011 season. Lindsay sparks wowed us with his great speed and offensive skills, and than wowed the coaching staff with his terrible defense and rode the bench. I would assume he gets the nod over one of the billion freshman left wings, but if he is going to keep this spot he needs to work hard or ride the bench with rohrkempher (Who could start the season in sparks spot, I don't know).
Zach Hyman FR (Wing)
Incoming freshman who comes in with some hype, drafted 123rd overall and considered a steal for for michigans 2011 class. Should contribute early on this line, but since the first two lines seem to be solid he would have to light the lamp for any chance to move up this season.
Travis Lynch FR (C?)
Another incoming player who is listed as a left wing. Just like deblois I would expect him to move over for a high ranked freshman (unless im just completely wrong), but if lynch give us a good 40 seconds on the ice a shift and get off it's a win.
Jeff rorhkempher FR (Wing) 2010 stats: GP-13, G-3, A-0, PTS-3, PPG Average-0.23, PIMS-2, +4
Not too bad for a walk-on freshman last season, took over after the the defensive nightmare that was lindsay sparks. Should provide stability for the 4th line and might qualify for the annual travis turnbull memorial breakout player of the year, but not likely.
Jon Merrill SO, 2010 stats: GP-42, G-7, A-18, PTS-25, PPG Average-0.60, PIM-16, +11
The second coming of jack johnson without the penalties, always in the right place and rarely gets caught out of position. Should be one of the nations top blueliners, named Pre-season CCHA first team defensman.
Greg pateryn SR, 2010 stats: GP-40, G-3, A-14, PTS-17, PPG Average- 0.43, PIM-28, +15
Solid player with decent offensive output, will have to hold off lee moffie for 1st line spot.
Lee Moffie JR, 2010 stats: GP-32, G-8, A-9, PTS-17, PPG Average-0.53, PIMS-16, +9
Solid offensive player who is lacking on the defensive side, needs to cut down on mistakes to make a push for 1st pair.
Mac bennett JR, 2010 stats: GP-32, G-2, A-10, PTS-12, PPG Average- 0.38, PIMS-21, +12
I think mac gets the nod for 2nd pair to start off, but I see him more as a mark hugye type player. His offense is nothing special and his +/- equaling the exact same number of points he scored indicates his defense isn't either. I see him starting off on the second pair until brennan serville is ready for a bigger role.
Kevin clare SO, 2010 stats: GP-18, G-0, A-2, PPG Average-0.11, PIM-6, +12
Straight to the point kevin clare's offense is terrible, the only player who registered less points on the roster last year was hunwick by 1. That being said a player who finishes with a +12 and never scores is either really good at defense or is on the ice when the 1st line forwards score. Either way the 3rd pair is his home, in part because of his limited skill and the players above him.
Brennan serville FR, 2010 stats: None
The 78th overall pick in the NHL draft, serville comes in highly ranked and should move up fast. Third pair is only temporary for him, and could potentially move up to first pair next year if he develops.
Shawn hunwick RS SR 2010 stats: GP-35, W-22, L-9, T-4, SH-4, GAA-2.21, SV%-.925
Thank god he got another year from the NCAA, otherwise this teams season outlook would look very bad. Good numbers thought the season but what you can't see from the stat sheet was how good he was in big games. For example: the north dakota fighting souix had the best offense in D-1 hockey, their top scorers finished the season with 511 points and we shut them out. I expected a regression last year but it never came, he always preformed, and this season he needs to do the same because with hogan departing he is the only goalie left except walk-on adam janecyk. Red pulled the kirk ferentz by turning a tiny white walk on into one of the leagues top players, but I hope this season he doesn't have to try again.
I decided I don't hate myself enough to listen to Chris Martin and Eric Collins talk for six hours, so I deleted the audio and continued my tradition of using "comically ill-suited" music. In this case, we have the music from the second level of Donkey Kong 64 called Angry Aztecs and the (probably too dramatic) theme and end credit music from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That said, you should probably have the volume turned down unless you're trying to watch film like Greg Robinson.
I'm not going to give a conference-by-conference breakdown this week, as I am pressed for time. A few notes:
-What is worse than having a team in your conference lose to an FCS school? Being the Mountain West this week, who fell four spots due to two crushing FCS losses. The Big Ten also lost a spot due to Minnesota's apparent lack of skillz. Once Jerry Kill has led a long an fulfilling life, I can revisit this loss and say that Minnesota has taken on the character of their coach. Their entire game against NDSU looked like one prolonged seizure. But I won't make that joke now, as it would be crude and inappropriate.
-The Denard WHHHHATTT of the week finds the Pac-12 gaining a spot in our standing after going 0-1 in this weeks OOC schedule. This is more due to the collapse of the Mountain West and the ACC than it is about a silver lining for the Pac-12.
-The Big 12 has all but wrapped up the Cy-Hawk Trophy Memorial Award this year after posting a perfect 3-0 record in Week 4 which included wins against Miami and two other FBS schools.
-Half of the Big Ten's 12 OOC losses stem from Indiana and Minnesota. Michigan is one of four teams to hand the conference a perfect 4-0 OOC record. Of those four, Michigan gained the most points for the Big Ten, scoring 1.966 non-adjusted points. Wisconsin was second (1.690), Nebraska third (1.540), and Illinois fourth (1.383). A large part of that is due to Michigan not playing an FCS school this year. In a follow up diary, I intend to go into more depth about the state of the Big Ten after OOC play. Look for that at some point in the next couple of days.
CPR - Week 4
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