alternate headline: man does job
There has been a lot of angst on the board over offensive play calling, whether Borges can adjust to the player personnel on hand, the spread vs. power & manball, protecting Denard, his passing skills and ability in the pocket, whether or not a "go-to" running back will emerge, whether the OL is creating lanes, etc., etc., etc.
I think these are legitimate concerns. But I also am reminded of something Hoke said in the pre-season, in so many words: the offense is only 1/3 of the team. The defense and special teams also make a huge difference.
Even with our defensive liabilities, I see this side of the ball becoming a strength.
- Mattison's ability to make adjustments to other teams and shut them down as the game goes on is huge. Against both ND & EMU, it looked bleak in the first quarter. But the defense adjusted, and gave our offense time to perform.
- I haven't parsed the numbers, but I think our defense is way up over the last few years of Michigan teams in causing turnovers. Even with Denard's miscues, we still are way up on turnovers this year, a huge credit to the defense.
- On the DL, the play of Martin has been great, Roh is finally healthy, VanBergen is solid, BWC shows glimpses of promise.
- The secondary has been great, with Troy, Floyd, Avery, Kovacs, and Gordon bending yet not breaking, and stopping most of the home runs.
- With the emergence of Hawthorne and Jake Ryan, alongside Demens, LB play has been solid. And Cam Gordon should be contributing anytime now.
Admittedly, there isn't enough depth. But if the defense stays healthy, I think they're going to be able to play with most of the teams we will face, and even win us a game or two.
Special Teams has been under the radar, but I am very, very encouraged.
- Wile adds something to the mix, and has been solid, if unspectacular.
- Hagerup will return in one more game, and will give us more range on punts.
- Gibbons hasn't missed a field goal yet this year! Ok, this is overstating things, but at least this doesn't appear to be the huge liability of a year ago. Hoke sure doesn't seem concerned. Hitting a field goal last Saturday was a step in the right direction.
- Gallon has done a great job in returns. It was beautiful seeing him return a punt a long way (only to have it called back by an illegal block to the back.)
With the return of Hagerup, we are going to see our opponents pinned deep more often, with a long field ahead of them. Sustaining a drive of more than 80 yards is not easy. If the defense continues to generate turnovers, this will be a great thing.
With the emergence of Gallon, and the ability of our defense to stop the opponent on 3rd and 4th down, we are going to see a short field for Michigan's offense more often this year.
Having a solid defense and good special teams play will make a huge difference in our overall play and record. Even with our offense stepping down a level, it is more than compensated for by our defense and special teams stepping up. As entertaining as it may have been, I don't want to see a repeat of last year's Illinois game, where our only chance of winning was being the last one to score a TD.
In high school, every nine or so weeks a report card would come out. When the report card was good, nothing needed to be said. But when it was bad, some “spin” would occur (student-teacher conflict, tests were unfair, etc.).
It’s time to look at the first quarter of the season report card for Big Ten teams (and other Michigan opponents), now three weeks into the season. The report card will factor in each team’s success (or lack thereof) offensively and defensively, while keeping their win-loss record in mind. I’ll also provide a few games to look at over the next three games for each team.
Illinois – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (3-0)
Total Offense: 410 yards/game; 60th.
Run Offense: 223 yards/game; 22nd. Pass Offense: 187 yards/game; 83rd.
Total Defense: 269 yards/game; 17th.
Run Defense: 63 yards/game; 7th. Pass Defense: 205 yards/game; 59th.
Notes: Jason Ford has been impressive for the Fighting Illini (3.6/carry and 4 TD). Nathan Scheelhaase has raised his completion percentage from 58.7% to 71.7%. Western Michigan and Northwestern should provide a good idea as to the capability of this team.
Wins: Arkansas State (33-15); South Dakota State (56-3); #22 Arizona State (17-14).
Indiana – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (1-2)
Total Offense: 417 yards/game; 55th.
Run Offense: 169 yards/game; 55th. Pass Offense: 247 yards/game; 38th.
Total Defense: 373 yards/game; 73rd.
Run Defense: 177 yards/game; 87th. Pass Defense: 195 yards/game; 48th.
Notes: Demarlo Blecher has been one of the few bright spots for Indiana (13.6/catch and 1 TD). Ted Bolser (2 catches) has had virtually no involvement in an offense with lacks a leader at QB. Indiana could very well not win another game this season. With that said, games against North Texas and Illinois should provide a better measure of the ceiling for Indiana.
Wins: South Carolina State (38-21).
Losses: vs. Ball State (20-27); Virginia (31-34).
Iowa – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 411 yards/game; 59th.
Run Offense: 127 yards/game; 82nd. Pass Offense: 284 yards/game; 22nd.
Total Defense: 397 yards/game; 88th.
Run Defense: 157 yards/game; 76th. Pass Defense: 240 yards/game; 82nd.
Notes: Iowa could/should be 1-2. Iowa’s defense and run offense have been disappointments thus far. A loss to cellar-dweller/rival Iowa State was surprising. Hawkeyes rallied back against a poor Pittsburgh pass defense to get the win. James Vandenberg (869 yards; 8.51/pass and 7 TD) and Marvin McNutt (17.4/catch and 2 TD) have led the way for the Iowa offense. Louisiana-Monroe (Kolton Browning is a solid Sun Belt QB who will test the Iowa secondary) and Northwestern should provide a good measure as to Iowa’s team this year.
Wins: Tennessee Tech (34-7); Pittsburgh (31-27).
Losses: @ Iowa State (41-44 OT).
Michigan – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (3-0)
Total Offense: 461.5 yards/game; 24th.
Run Offense: 245 yards/game; 13th. Pass Offense: 177 yards/game; 87th.
Total Defense: 374.5 yards/game; 76th.
Run Defense: 202.5 yards/game; 103rd. Pass Defense: 172 yards/game; 26th.
Notes: Denard Robinson’s arm has not been impressive (49.1% completion percentage with 6 TD and 4 INT). Can you believe Roy Roundtree has only 29 yards receiving to date? The run game, however, has been very good; Vincent Smith (132 yards 11/carry), Denard Robinson (352 yards 7/carry and 2 TD), and Fitz Toussaint (126 yards 5.7/carry and 3 TD) have led the way.
Wins: Western Michigan (34-10); Notre Dame (35-31); Eastern Michigan (31-3). San Diego State and Northwestern will provide insight into Michigan’s potential, before the showdown in East Lansing.
Michigan State – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 396 yards/game; 67th.
Run Offense: 125 yards/game; 83rd. Pass Offense: 270 yards/game; 26th.
Total Defense: 192 yards/game; 4th.
Run Defense: 88 yards/game; 28th. Pass Defense: 104 yards/game; 3rd.
Notes: If I was a Spartan fan, the Notre Dame game would be concerning to me. Cousins threw 53(!) times and the Spartan run game was limited to 23 carries for a total of 29 yards (1.3/carry) with a long of 8 yards. Dion Sims (7 catches for 65 yards and 2 TD), BJ Cunningham (26 catches for 361 yards and 1 TD), and Le’Veon Bell (30 carries for 136 yards and 3 TD) have been the bright spots on offense. Games at Ohio at home to Michigan will determine if this team is a contender or merely feasts on inferior competition.
Wins: Youngstown State (28-6); Florida Atlantic (44-0).
Losses: @ Notre Dame (13-31).
Minnesota – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (1-2)
Total Offense: 373 yards/game; 78th.
Run Offense: 175 yards/game; 48th. Pass Offense: 197 yards/game; 77th.
Total Defense: 399 yards/game; 90th.
Run Defense: 93 yards/game; 31st. Pass Defense: 305 yards/game; 112th.
Notes: Minnesota kept the USC game closer than expected, but followed that up with a loss at home to the Aggies (Minnesota was a 21 point favorite). The Gophers are clearly a program in transition and are 2-3 years away from being competitive. Marqueis Gray (468 yards passing and 328 yards rushing; 3 TD, but 2 INT) and Da’Jon McKnight (16 catches for 221 yards and 1 TD) have been the stars on the offensive side. Games at Michigan and at Purdue will provide a gauge as to the upside of this team.
Wins: Miami (NTM) (29-23).
Losses: @ USC (17-19); New Mexico State (21-28).
Nebraska – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (3-0)
Total Offense: 422 yards/game; 51st.
Run Offense: 252 yards/game; 11th. Pass Offense: 169 yards/game; 92nd.
Total Defense: 364 yards/game; 67th.
Run Defense: 132 yards/game; 61st. Pass Defense: 232 yards/game; 78th.
Notes: Yes, the Huskers have averaged 46.5 against two FBS bowl opponents. But let’s talk about the defense. Robbie Rouse (Fresno State) gashed the blackshirts for 169 yards on the ground; Chris Polk (Washington) ran for 130 yards last week. The run defense has not been great; Wisconsin is two Saturdays away – at Camp Randall. Taylor Martinez is completing under 50% of his passes, but his feet (384 yards and 6 TD) and Rex Burkhead (250 yards and 5 TD) have led the offense. Games at Wyoming and at Wisconsin, before Lincoln matchup with Coach Pelini’s alma mater, will determine whether the Nebraska run defense has improved. Wyoming has two decent running backs in Ghaali Muhammad (160 yards 10.0/carry and 1 TD) and Brandon Miller (160 yards 7.6/carry and 1 TD).
Wins: Chattanooga (40-7); Fresno State (42-29); and Washington (51-38).
Northwestern – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 390 yards/game; 71st.
Run Offense: 220 yards/game; 24th. Pass Offense: 169 yards/game; 93rd.
Total Defense: 394 yards/game; 87th.
Run Defense: 205 yards/game; 105th. Pass Defense: 188 yards/game; 39th.
Notes: Take this with a grain of salt; Dan Persa has been hurt. Kain Colter (65% completion percentage and 237 yards rushing with 4 TD) has done a good job of getting Jeremy Ebert (162 yards 16.2/catch and 2 TD) and Mike Trumpy (119 yards 5.2/carry and 1 TD) the ball. The Wildcats gave up 381 yards on the ground to Army’s triple option offense last week, but limited Boston College to 104 yards on the ground in week 1. Neither game is indicative of Northwestern’s team as a whole. Games against the 22nd and 13th run offenses, Illinois and Michigan, respectively, will give a better idea of Northwestern’s potential.
Wins: @ Boston College (24-17); Eastern Illinois (42-21)
Losses: @ Army (14-21)
Ohio – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 342 yards/game; 86th.
Run Offense: 170 yards/game; 53rd. Pass Offense: 172 yards/game; 91st.
Total Defense: 263 yards/game; 14th.
Run Defense: 107 yards/game; 37th. Pass Defense: 156 yards/game; 17th.
Notes: Who knew how much Terrelle Pryor hurt the Bucks? QB decision-making/play-calling from Ohio has been awful. Jake Stoneburner, TE, has 93 yards and 4 TD. Joe Bauserman’s completion percentage has been bad (50%), but has 4 TD passes. Eric Page (Toledo) had 145 yards receiving and 2 TD against Ohio. Lamar Miller (184 yards 7.1/carry) and the Canes made viewers wonder whether a Hurricane Warning prevented Ohio from even making it to the game. Believe it or not, Colorado can present problems for the Buckeyes with All-PAC-12 WR Paul Richardson (360 yards 20/catch and 4 TD), but Ohio should win. The schedule only gets tougher with Michigan State visiting and a visit to Lincoln.
Wins: Akron (42-0); Toledo (27-22).
Losses: @ Miami (YTM) (6-24).
Penn State – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 306 yards/game; 103rd.
Run Offense: 148 yards/game; 66th. Pass Offense: 158 yards/game; 100th.
Total Defense: 242 yards/game; 9th.
Run Defense: 111 yards/game; 42nd. Pass Defense: 130 yards/game; 7th.
Notes: Will Joe Paterno and/or Jay Paterno, for the sake of Nittany Lion Nation, please decide on a QB? Lucky for Penn State, they have workhorse Silas Redd (255 yards 5.1/carry and 4 TD) and Derek Moye (220 yards 15.7/catch) leading the way offensively. The only key game of the next three is Iowa, given the trouble Penn State has had with Iowa (Hawkeyes have won the last 3 meetings). For the sake of ending the QB competition, either the games against Eastern Michigan or Indiana may be relevant, too.
Wins: Indiana State (41-7); @ Temple (14-10).
Losses: Alabama (27-11).
Purdue – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 471 yards/game; 22nd.
Run Offense: 258 yards/game; 9th. Pass Offense: 212 yards/game; 64th.
Total Defense: 321 yards/game; 43rd.
Run Defense: 109 yards/game; 40th. Pass Defense: 212 yards/game; 63rd.
Notes: Purdue could very well be 1-2, coming back late to beat Middle Tennessee. Caleb TerBush (63% completion 546 yards and 3 TD) has done well filling in for Rob Henry and Robert Marve. But with Marve back, there may be a QB competition in West Lafayette. But the Purdue offense has been led by the tandem of Ralph Bolden (223 yards 5.7/carry and 2 TD) and Akeem Shavers (186 yards 6.4/carry and 3 TD). Games against Notre Dame and at Penn State should give a better idea of whether or not this is a bowl team.
Wins: Middle Tennessee (27-24); SE Missouri State (59-0).
Losses: @ Rice (22-24).
Wisconsin – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (3-0)
Total Offense: 505 yards/game; 14th.
Run Offense: 238 yards/game; 17th. Pass Offense: 267 yards/game; 27th.
Total Defense: 271 yards/game; 18th.
Run Defense: 77 yards/game; 18th. Pass Defense: 193 yards/game; 44th.
Notes: Hard to find any flaws with the Badgers. But giving up 17 to UNLV seemed worrisome, that is, until Hawaii (-18) lost to UNLV last week (40-20). QB transfer Russell Wilson (791 passing and 8 passing TD; 110 rushing and 1 TD) has played pitch-and-catch with Nick Toon (198 yards 14.1/catch and 3 TD) and Jacob Pedersen (164 yards 16.4/catch and 4 TD). The combination of Montee Ball (272 yards 5.7/carry and 7 TD) and James C. White has been lethal (208 yards 5.8/carry and 2 TD). Circle the game against Nebraska as being a key game. It’s one of the few roadblocks to an undefeated regular season. Circle the Indiana game, too - only for the purposes of seeing if Wisconsin can score more than 83 this year.
Wins: UNLV (51-17); Oregon State (49-7); vs. Northern Illinois (49-7).
Eastern Michigan – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 358 yards/game; 83rd.
Run Offense: 289 yards/game; 6th. Pass Offense: 68 yards/game; 118th.
Total Defense: 298 yards/game; 29th.
Run Defense: 153 yards/game; 75th. Pass Defense: 145 yards/game; 11th.
Notes: Eastern has been the epitome of winning the games they should and losing the game they should lose. Eastern Michigan held Michigan to 95 yards passing, granted it was largely due to Denard Robinson’s inaccuracy. As good as the pass defense was, the run defense game up 376 yards and 2 TD. Alex Gillett has not been good, completing less than 50% of his passes with 3 TD and 2 INT. However, Javonti Greene (346 yards 6.1/carry and 1 TD), Dominique Sherrer (231 yards 7.7/carry and 2 TD) and Alex Gillett (211 yards 6.6/carry and 1 TD) have paced an impressive Eagle run offense. Penn State and Silas Redd should shred the Eagles’ defense, but Akron will provide a better indication as to whether Coach Ron English can add to his win total this year.
Wins: Howard (41-9); Alabama State (14-7).
Losses: @ Michigan (3-31).
Notre Dame – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (1-2)
Total Offense: 432 yards/game; 37th.
Run Offense: 143 yards/game; 70th. Pass Offense: 289 yards/game; 20th.
Total Defense: 354 yards/game; 58th.
Run Defense: 89 yards/game; 30th. Pass Defense: 265 yards/game; 97th.
Notes: Trying to say something positive about the Irish pass defense . . . um, they aren’t Turnover Tommy Rees (772 yards 69.7% 6 TD and 5 INT)? In fact, if you count the INT as completed passes, Rees has a 74% completion percentage . . . to someone. Michael Floyd (397 yards 12.8/catch and 2 TD), TJ Jones (126 yards 10.5/catch and 2 TD), Theo Riddick (101 yards 10.1/catch and 2 TD), and Cierre Wood (299 yards 5.0/carry and 4 TD) have made up for Rees’ misgivings. But as long as Gary Gray and Robert Blanton are on the field, the Irish have a shot at losing, despite the offensive talent and Manti Te’o. After giving up 108 yards on the ground to Denard Robinson and 338 yards through the air, Pittsburgh and Air Force are the key games. Pittsburgh Coach Todd Graham won at Notre Dame last year, having coached Tulsa. Air Force triple option offense will give the Irish defense fits, just look at the Navy v. Notre Dame games in recent years.
Wins: #15 Michigan State (31-13).
Losses: South Florida (20-23); Michigan (31-35).
San Diego State – Projected Record: (3-0); Actual Record: (3-0)
Total Offense: 428 yards/game; 42nd.
Run Offense: 220 yards/game; 24th. Pass Offense: 207 yards/game; 71st.
Total Defense: 383 yards/game; 80th.
Run Defense: 197 yards/game; 98th. Pass Defense: 186 yards/game; 38th.
Notes: Army offense shredded the Aztec run defense to the tune of 403 yards! Triple option aside, the Aztec run defense has done a pretty decent job (held Washington State to 82 rushing yards, less sacks). RB Ronnie Hillman (497 yards 6.5/carry and 8 TD(!)) rushed for 191 yards against Washington State and 117 against Army.
Wins: Cal Poly (49-21); @ Army (23-20); Washington State (42-24). Besides Hillman, Ryan Lindley (622 yards 53.7% and 7 TD), Colin Lockett (254 yards 21.2/catch and 2 TD) and Dylan Denso (140 yards 15.6/catch and 2 TD) have paced the Aztec offense. San Diego State enters a dangerous stretch, playing at Michigan, home to #20 TCU and at Air Force. Each presents its own unique problems, namely, the Aztec former coach, a dominant defense, and a triple option offense, respectively.
Western Michigan – Projected Record: (2-1); Actual Record: (2-1)
Total Offense: 420.5 yards/game; 53rd.
Run Offense: 150 yards/game; 63rd. Pass Offense: 231 yards/game; 43rd.
Total Defense: 273.5 yards/game; 19th.
Run Defense: 136 yards/game; 64th. Pass Defense: 137.5 yards/game; 8th.
Notes: Western Michigan was impressive in its win over Central Michigan, in the Battle for the Victory Cannon. Having the 8th ranked pass defense is a bit misleading, as the Michigan game did not even make it through three quarters. Alex Carder (681 yards 72.1% and 5 TD), Jordan White (363 yards 12.5/catch and 2 TD), and Robert Arnheim (109 yards 10.9/catch and 1 TD) have led the Bronco offense. The Broncos have a chance to make a statement in their next two games: @ #24 Illinois and @ Connecticut. Splitting the next two games puts the Broncos in a position to win at least 8, if not, 9 games, this year.
Wins: Nicholls State (38-7); Central Michigan (44-14).
Losses: @ Michigan (10-34).
Though Michigan picked up preferred walk-on Kenny Allen and Notre Dame landed blue-chip 2013 OL Steven Elmer, neither of those commitments factor into these rankings. There were no other commitments in the Big Ten, so my job is rather easy this week. ESPN.com was down when I went to post this, so I'm foregoing any individual rankings updates until next week. Action since last rankings:
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte (Minnesota), Darius Stroud (Indiana), Steffon Martin and Devin Smith (Purdue) are exluded from their respective team averages.
On to the full data, after the jump.
|#1 Michigan - 22 Commits|
No change for the Wolverines.
|#2 Notre Dame - 14 Commits|
No change for the Irish, except
the crushing of their souls the crushing of Sparty's soul and snapping up Elmer for 2013.
|#3 Penn State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Nittany Lions.
|#4 Ohio State - 12 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#5 Michigan State - 14 Commits|
No change for the Spartans.
|#6 Wisconsin - 10 Commits|
No change for the Badgers.
|#7 Indiana - 18 Commits|
No change for the Hoosiers.
|#8 Northwestern - 16 Commits|
No change for the Wildcats.
|#9 Iowa - 10 Commits|
No change for the Hawkeyes.
|#10 Minnesota - 20 Commits|
No change for the Gophers.
|#11 Purdue - 16 Commits|
No change for the Boilermakers.
|#12 Nebraska - 6 Commits|
Still no change for the Huskers. This remains ridiculous.
|#13 Illinois - 8 Commits|
No change for the Illini.
Thus endeth the most boring recruiting rankings update of all time.
Info on how I score the CPR rankings is available here.
When I was a young boy my mother sat me down and said, "Son, one day you will grow up to write a moderately valued diary on a sports blog with a small but passionate user base."
I was a child of the 80's, so the term 'blog' was completely foreign to me. I dismissed this idea as a residual effect of too much acid and 'Earth, Wind, and Fire'. My mom was involved heavily in the 'counter-culture' movement of her era.
Twenty-some years later, as I sit here pondering whether my mom was clarevoyant or had just stumbled into some really good acid, I ask for your help. I want to write the best damned moderately valued diary that I can. I need to live up to my mother's expectations. Being that this is only my third week doing this, I am very open to suggestions. If you guys have any, let me know, as I will try to incorporate them as best I can.
Not much movement towards the front and the rear of the line, as both the top 3 and bottom 4 conferences remain the same. The middle saw big drops by the PAC 12 (5-4) and CUSA (5-3, with wins over only WAC and FBS teams). It also saw two conferences make decent gains as the ACC (6-2) and the MWC (5-2) both climbed multiple spots.
The BIG 12 continues to dominate the OOC schedule, going 9-1 this week to accumulate a 23-3 record. This record is even more impressive if you take into account the fact that they have played the fewest FBS cupcakes (6) of any BCS conference and have the most wins (also 6) against other BCS schools.
The SEC is trying to keep pace, but going 4-2 this week ensured that the BIG 12 gained ground on all other conferences. The two horse race for the innagural Cy-Hawk Trophy Memorial Award (CHTMA) has officially turned into a one point five horse race.
The Cy-Hawk Trophy Memorial Award, given to the Top Conference in the FCS.
CPR - Week 3
|Conf.||Wk 1||Wk 2||Wk 3||Season||CPR||+ / -|
The Bakers Dozen
Propelled by strong wins over Auburn, Ohio State, and Kansas; the ACC jumped 3 spots and nestled into number 6 in our CPR rankings. FSU showed flashes against Oklahoma, but came up short. The soon to be NKOTB both lost this week, as Iowa defeated Pitt and USC made short work of Syracuse.
The BIG 10 remained stagnant for the second week in a row, as a strong win by Illinois was offset by losses to two alleged conference contenders in OSU and MSU. Other teams, such as Penn State and Iowa sputtered but came through. The BIG 10 is starting to look like a microcosm of the NCAA conference picture as a whole; with a couple of solid players at the top, an extremely large middle class, and teams like Minnesota and Indiana fighting for food stamps.
The BIG 12 still looks tough, even after they packed up a little bit of snow and pushed it down the mountain, creating a snowball effect that will change the landscape of college football as we know it. As noted at the top, their 23-2 record is as impressive as it looks from the outside. The BIG 12 will have to fail miserably during the bowl season if any other conference intends on capturing the coveted CHTMA this season.
WVU continues to will the Big East to mediocrity. Without the 'eers, the Big East would have had nothing to hang their straw hats on. UCONN lost a close game to Iowa State and Pitt "Sparty nooooooo'd" away a win to Iowa. Many toothless babies were conceived in the cornfields of Iowa on Saturday. Yes, I am aware that all babies are born toothless. Except, of course, for Michigan babies, which are all born with a mouth full of teeth and grow up to be Michigan Men.
CUSA didn't really give themselves a chance to shine this week, as their only marquee game pitted Tulsa against Okie State. The rest of their OOC schedule consisted of teams that the average college football fan has probably never heard of.
The first two weeks must have been sweet for the MAC. They were 13-10, posting a few noteworthy wins along with some respectable efforts against big named schools (shoutout to Toledo!). Apparently, at some point this week, student athletes throughout the midwest woke up and realized that they played in the MAC. Consequently, the MAC posted a 1-8 record this week, with only Ohio (NTO) saving face.
The Mountain West climbed an impressive 3 spots in this weeks CPR, due to a 5-2 record which brought them to 12-6 on the season. They are currently the only non-qualifier that is ahead of a BCS conference, surpassing the Big East, ACC, and PAC 12. Their five wins all came against other FBS schools, including one against Washington State and the PAC 12.
I'm waiting to have one of those head asploding moments when some clueless ESPN drone suggests that the PAC 12 can rival the SEC for the best conference in the nation. I know it will happen. The PAC 12 has had the worst season among BCS conferences. Their 19-10 record is padded by 7 wins against FCS schools and 5 more against the worst conference (WAC) in the FBS. They are 4-6 against other BCS schools.
Here's a philisophical head scratcher... Can the SEC form a team SO TALENTED that another SEC team cannot beat them? Trick question, because when the SEC plays with itself, everyone wins. Right, Gary? As it turns out, NCAA rules state that there HAS to be a team that loses. Condolences to Tennessee and the state of Mississippi, as your teams were all losers this week. Speaking of losers, Auburn... lol.
God it gets boring breaking down the crappy conferences.
The WAC finished 0-4 against FBS opponents, cementing their place in the basement of the FBS and reminding me that I was supposed to be cleaning the basement while my wife is away getting groceries, and am instead creating a drawn out review of the week that was in college football.
Notre Dame finally played well enough to overcome themselves. If they stop turning the ball over, Lou Holtz may actually be proven right a few times this year. The service acadamies split their games against Northwestern (W) and SC (L). BYU got pounded by Utah, 54-10. BYU officials are checking into whether taking it that hard constitutes punishment for breaking the school's "no sex" policy.
Progress! The FCS got another win this week, as the Sycamores of Indiana State were triumphant over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. It wasn't even close, either, as Indiana State compiled a 44-16 win. This brings their three week record to 3-71. For those keeping score at home, that win percentage is 4% higher than the 2008 Detroit Lions.
Inside the box score - Game 2, was bumped to Diary Status and front-paged linked twice last week, so I think I'm OK with making this a regular feature. [Ed-M: Yes! Yes you are!] I know that the folks just like having a handy link for the box score, so let's get that out of the way first, and then we'll follow with my commentary:
The BIG story coming into this game was Eastern Michigan averaging 331 yards per game rushing, and how could our rebuilding defense match up with that? During the first quarter, I was starting to believe that Mike Hart was the second coming of Fred Jackson. After that, our defense calmed down, and I found out that Mike is actually an offensive quality control coach. So how did we do against the greatest rushing attack in Ypsilanti? The EMU Fighting Emus tallied 10 rushing first downs, 207 yards rushing, and 4.5 yards per carry. 67 yards came from the 4th best QB in the state of Michigan, Alex Gillette. I was impressed with his running, but EMU could never get the passing game going. I'm a little worried about what this says about our chances against Scheelhaase. Could we be looking at another shootout?
Time to get inside the box score:
* First downs: UofM 24, EMU 12. Now that's more like it.
* Average yards per rush: UofM 7.5, EMU 4.5. That's a healthy serving of MANBALL right there.
* Net yards per punt: EMU 40.2, UofM 29.7. Mr. Hagerup, we eagerly await your return. Please obey your curfew and get your homework done. Thank you.
* Net yards per Kickoff: EMU 51, UofM 38. Giving up a first down's worth of field position with every special teams play is not special.
* Vincent Smith had 118 yards rushing. If there is a baby seal nearby, you can bet that Vincent has a club ready. He's looking better and better.
* Denard was 7-18 passing. Let's hope that was just a result of the injured arm they referenced on the B1G Network telecast. I'm not seeing 70%. I'll take 60%. <50% has me worried.
* FG attempts: UofM 1 for 1! I realize it was just 21 yards, but let's let the young man get his confidence up a little before throwing him out there for a game-winning 50 yarder into the wind.
* 23 players showed up in the defensive stats, lead by another linebacker. With all of the running EMU did, that's to be expected, but doesn't that feel great to see 2 weeks in a row?
And finally in our official's names section of the post,
* The linesman was "R. Studd." I wonder if he's related to Big John.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
The final score indicated a beat down as would be expected when Michigan plays Eastern, but I wonder if I am alone in feeling that yesterday's game exposed more flaws with this Michigan team than it addressed. What did we learn, after all?
- Michigan's defense is going to have trouble against the run all year. Seriously, giving up over 200 yards rushing to EMU despite being significantly ahead the entire second half is bad news. This defense would be looking much worse except for some timely turnovers, and while the turnover numbers are encouraging we shouldn't overlook that last year's team was also sitting 3-0 with a significant edge in turnover margin (10/4 this year vs. 6/2 last year).
- Michigan's offense is still mostly Denard, Denard, Denard and a healthy Mr. Robinson is still far more offense than most defenses can handle. Denard does seem to be more solidly built than last year and may hold up better for a while, but he definitely took a beating yesterday, much of which seemed unnecessary. The good news is that Borges seems to understand which side his bread is buttered on, and didn't try to go to mostly under center until the game was in hand. The bad news is summed up by that last drive by Denard, where it seemed like Hoke/Borges are so desperate to see Denard progress as a drop-back QB that they eschewed a great opportunity to get Gardner some meaningful snaps.
- Michigan needs Hagerup back. Wile's kicks aren't a ton shorter in distance, but their hang time is non-existent and every one is a threat to be returned for big yardage. It is leading to Michigan fighting uphill in the field-position battle every game. A kickoff into the endzone would be nice too, but doesn't seem to be in the cards unless the wind big at our backs.
- Michigan is much better in the Red-Zone it would seem. This may be because of the turnover margin not yet flipping like it did last year, but with 10 TDs and 1 FG out of 11 trips into the Red-Zone (1 actually from the 21, close enough), this year's team seems vastly improved in this area. Of course we must consider the strength of competition here.
Live for Today…
Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:
1. Denard Robinson – Honestly asked to do far too much, Denard answered as only he can carrying the team with nearly 300 yards of total offense including ~200 yards rushing on 26 carries. He took far too many shots from EMU's defense and is going to be feeling some discomfort this week. It was ominous when the commentators noted that Denard was limited by arm-pain in practice last week. If Michigan is going to a decent bowl game this season, they are going to need Denard playing near 100%.
2. Vincent Smith – Really showed off the shiftiness that was missing last year, along with some great speed. 118 yards on 9 carries = awesome. The fact that Smith had no TDs validates the yards even more, as none were of the seeya variety.
3. Michigan Defense – The run defense was awful, see above. But Michigan did limit EMU to only 3 points and won the TOP for the first time in a long time. The most encouraging part of this year's defense is that they seem to get better as the game progresses. This is probably Mattison.
4. Jeremy Gallon – I just love that this guy is finally putting his stamp on the program. So far he seems like Odoms with better speed.
5. Drew Dileo – First TD in a Michigan uniform. Congratulations young man.
Also of note was the play of Jake Ryan, Mike Martin, and Craig Roh. Also Heninger seemed to redeem himself somewhat.
Hope for Tomorrow
Bask in 3-0 for now, because this team is looking to be on much the same course as last season so far. I think that our reliance on Denard Robinson will actually help us next week against SDSU, because our offense will not look like what Rocky Long remembers a Borges offense looking like. Then again, our run defense might get gutted by Ronnie Hillman. SDSU will put a scare into us at least.
Our biggest hope for the whole season may actually be Borges's willingness to adapt to Denard's strengths as well as Mattison's willingness to use naked aggression to mask our defense's glaring flaws. Like last year, this team is going to sink or swim based on their ability to outscore opponents. The opponents seem less daunting however, and we have better coaches. I am reasonably anticipating 8-9 wins still as long as the most key players stay healthy. If we can keep the TO margin on the happy side, perhaps this team can develop into a dark horse division championship contender.
Go Blue and stay safe.