So here we are... 5-0 and heading on the road against a scrappy Northwestern team possibly led by a
former heisman hopeful heisman hopeful quarterback, Dan Persa. After everyone's comments from last week on the Eastern Michigan wallpaper, I wanted to do another animal parody for the Northwestern wallpaper. My original thought was to make use of these in some way:
but I realized that Northwestern shouldn't be mocked like Eastern Michigan (who's more like an infant step-cousin than a "little brother"), lest the football gods smite us for our hubris. Instead, I let myself be influenced by my feminine side and took my inspiration from the musical Cats. Instead of dancers for pupils, though, I went for... DENARD!!!
I figured, unlike the Eastern Michigan wallpaper, this wallpaper makes Northwestern look cool, which will make me feel more satisfied when we beat them!
EDIT: I fixed the widescreen link and changed the game info to "Game 6" instead of "Game 5"... I think I was just psyched about the 5-0 when I made it!
Brady Hoke has coached five games at Michigan. Let’s see where Hoke’s games stand in relation to the last few years. I want to use the idea of score dominance to group these last few seasons together and get an idea of dominant performances. I am defining score dominance as the percent of final score, or margin of victory in shutouts. Rodriguez finished three seasons here, and in the interest of historical perspective I will also include Carr’s last three seasons. Counting Hoke’s five games there have been exactly 80 games played since the start of the 2005 season.
UM’s record in that span is 47-33, where Rodriguez is responsible for two thirds of the losses. The worst five games were the 2011 Gator Bowl, 2007 Ohio, 2010 Ohio, 2007 Oregon, and the ultra-horrible 2008 Ohio game where UM managed to gain just .143 of the total score - going down 42-7 in Columbus. The five best games in terms of score dominance are Eastern in 2005 and Notre Dame in 2007 (both shutouts,) the 2006 Indiana game, 2009 Delaware State, and the third shutout in 80 games, 2011 Minnesota. Brady Hoke is responsible for only 6.25% of the last 80 games, yet contributed one third of the shutouts and the most lopsided win. Can that possibly mean anything?
I think so. I do not think it would be reasonable to use Hoke’s record at UM and extrapolate that he will never lose a game. Yet the fact is four of his five games make up four of the 13 most lopsided victories of the recent past. Carr contributed 16% of his games to the top 13 routs, and RR contributed 8% of his contests to the blowout total. A reasonable expectation is that Hoke will have a blowout pace between those two numbers – we will say 12%. He is currently operating at 80%. He is beating expectations almost by a factor of 7.
I am not going to try and predict a win total here, small sample size and all. I do believe that Hoke has this team overachieving in a very big way. I also believe that if that keeps up, and so far there is no indication that it can’t, we are going to see some very special things this year.
Burst of Impetus
* This is the section where I discuss turnovers and other momentum changing plays. There was one burst of impetus in this game. Minnesota kicked off to start the game. That's it. They were never in it. I bet that "adjusted winning percentage" diary shows us pegged at 100% for the duration.
* For those that care, the turnovers were Mich: 0, Minn: 2. It's always nice to win the turnover battle, even if the team you are playing would be in danger of being relegated FROM the MAC. Notice, I wrote "from" and not "to". I think Minnesota would have trouble competing in the MAC this year and would be relegated to some FCS conference. I understand their starting QB was out, but they didn't do anything right all day.
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
* Craig Roh had a nice tackle early in the game for no gain. Later in the game, he had a tackle for a loss of 1 yard. The difference between these two tackles? One yard. He also gets credit in the box score for the latter, but not the former. When the box score starts including advanced defensive statistical metrics, I'd like to see them have TFNGs, for tackle for no gain. They are almost as important as the TFL, and way more important than the TWDF (tackle way down field.)
* The leading tacklers were Roh, Demens, and Countess with 5 each. That is such a wonderful sentence to write. The defense was only on the field for 47 plays. That's what happens when you hold a team to 0 for 11 on 3rd down conversions.
* 25 players showed up in the defensive stats section. Black, Van Bergen, and Ryan each recorded a sack. That's one less than we had so far this season. I know we played a couple run teams, but I like when the pressure leads to sacks as well as hurried throws.
Hexadecimal Points (HT: Number 7)
* Our helmets have wings! They also have numbers! If RR was still the coach, I shudder to think of the resulting outrage. It would certainly bring down the interwebz. I'm going to give Brady a pass on this because apparently the players asked for it, and it's their team.
* I would love to see 7A on Hawthorne's helmet. That's how he's listed in the defensive stats. M. Cavanaugh also shows up as 2H.
San Diego 49ers
* Our wide receivers have stats this week. Whoo-hoo! Hemingway had 5 catches and Gallon had 4.
* When Chris Martin of B1G Network fame tried to describe Denard, he said the best way to categorize him was "filthy." We finally got the game in which Denard's carries were limited. He rushed only 6 times for 51 yards. He made us all breathe a little more easily by going 15-19 through the air. (That sound you just heard was the rest of the B1G cursing.)
* Vincent Smith was also filthy, with a TD running, receiving, and throwing. He was named the Hardest Working Player," by the B1G Network. (For some reason, this reminds me of the old "Taco Bell Unsung Player Award" they used to have during Pistons broadcasts. It rotated between Rodman and Salley, until they were both Sung Players.) In my opinion, the hardest working man was Michael Schofield. Due to our lack of depth along the O-Line, he played the whole way. I think he must have had 20 more snaps than anyone else. That is a hard working player. I thought that the way we controlled the ball, we must have run 100 plays like Indiana did to us last year. Nope, only 73. Lots of runs keeps the clock moving. Still, yeoman work by Schofield. (Yeoman, that's a good thing, right?)
Still not a whole lot going on this week, though Notre Dame inches closer to Michigan by grabbing near-consensus four-star running back William Mahone. Action since last rankings:
9-27-11: Indiana picks up Jacarri Alexander. Minnesota picks up Tyren Hills.
9-30-11: Notre Dame picks up William Mahone.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg||Avg Avg^|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte (Minnesota), Darius Stroud and Jacarri Alexander (Indiana), and Steffon Martin and Devin Smith (Purdue) are excluded from their respective team averages.
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (aka the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
On to the full data, after the jump.
|#1 Michigan - 22 Commits|
No change for the Wolverines.
|#2 Notre Dame - 16 Commits|
The Irish add running back William Mahone, who chose Notre Dame over Penn State, Michigan State, and Pitt.
|#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, which includes a continued state of denial that Se'Von Pittman is a serious flight risk to Ohio State.
|#6 Wisconsin - 10 Commits|
No change for the Badgers. Reggie Mitchell and Arthur Goldberg both get three-star ratings from 24/7.
|#7 Indiana - 19 Commits|
The Hoosiers add JuCo linebacker Jacarri Alexander. Dante Blackmon picks up three stars from ESPN and two stars from 24/7.
|#8 Northwestern - 16 Commits|
No change for the Wildcats.
|#9 Iowa - 10 Commits|
No change for the Hawkeyes.
|#10 Minnesota - 21 Commits|
The Gophers land unrated cornerback Tyren Hills, who will probably be starting next season if Saturday's game was any indication.
|#11 Purdue - 17 Commits|
The Boilermakers don't add any commits. Danny Anthrop gets a two-star rating fron ESPN.
|#12 Nebraska - 7 Commits|
The Huskers, after adding their first commit in a month and a half last week, go back to doing nothing.
|#13 Illinois - 9 Commits|
No change for the Illini.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
After a beat-down like what we witnessed yesterday there is much to say, but perhaps not so many new things to learn. It was a statement game, a confirmation by Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Greg Mattison that leaves no questions as to their intent nor their identity. No one questioned the talent differential between Michigan and Minnesota as the 20 point line neatly points out. But the difference between being a 20 point home favorite and the utter deconstruction that was yesterday's contest is vast and there is nothing that I saw that would make the final 58-0 score in any way a fluke. Brady and Co. have this team pointed in a direction more right than we fans could have dared hope. The old ways and the new are coming together in what looks to be a very promising new era for Michigan Football.
Live for Today…
Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:
1. Fitzgerald Touissaint – I don't recall seeing running like that since the A-Train rolled out of town. Great cuts, jab steps, and acceleration showed on the stat sheet with over 100 yards on only 11 carries. The future for Fitz is bright indeed.
2. Vincent Smith – Scoring a TD rushing, receiving, and passing the ball is remarkable. Coupled with Touissaint, Smith gives Michigan a potent 1-2 punch out of the backfield that was desperately needed.
3. Denard Robinson – His feet are a given, but it was nice to see him connecting on the short hitches and seams taylor-made to bring back his confidence. Borges is molding the offense around him and playing more and more to his strengths. 8.9 YPA is quality.
4. Blake Countess – Countess looks like the best Michigan defensive back on the field. He was blanketing receivers all day, breaking up passes, stripping the ball, making sure tackles. Hard to believe he is a true frosh.
5. Michigan's Defense – Pitching a shutout against any opponent is impressive, as is forcing another 2 fumbles. Minnesota barely sniffed Michigan's side of the field, and when they did threaten Michigan came up with the timely turnovers. This unit is gaining swagger and could be pretty good by November.
Also of note: Jeremy Gallon, Mike Shaw, RVB, Junior Hemingway, Kevin Koger, BWC (showing that fire in the belly), Thomas Rawls (nice debut, young man), Devin Gardner (haz moves too), Gibbons (3/3 is 3/3, no matter how long) and basically everyone on the team. Great job guys.
Hope for Tomorrow
My trust and confidence in this coaching staff was already pretty solid going into this game. I actually DVR'd it, a Michigan Big 10 opener, which is not something I would have felt comfortable with at any point in the past that I can remember. Yes, the opponent was obviously overmatched but it was still a Big 10 game, against Big 10 athletes that had a lot to prove to the world. I am a big believer in luck and karma, and a firm believer that watching a game live contributes to both, so this wasn't a decision I made lightly. In the end my trust in Brady and Co., coupled with the lure of great deals on Amish made furniture* at a local auction, made it OK. I still squirmed with discomfort when I ignored my phone going off several times during and after the game. Family and friends were trying to reach me to discuss the game and my first instinct was apprehension bordering on conviction that it was all going horribly wrong.
After watching the game later I can honestly say that such feelings will not again occur while this coaching triumvirate remains intact. I checked the score when I got home, not wanting to make my family deal with my uncertainty, and was of course more than relieved at seeing 58-0. I then watched what I assumed would be a series of ridiculously fortunate events leading to such a ridiculous score. There was none of that though, only near-perfect execution by a team that looked so well coached that my pride as a fan went through the roof. That was a domination that harkened back to watching Bo's teams crush the "little-8" back in the day. This is no coincidence either. The parallels between then and now is a head coach with strength of will and vision for what Michigan Football should be, coupled with the quality of coordinators needed to make that vision a reality.
It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke. At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado. I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads. He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff. Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.
Greg Mattison is Greg Mattison. He is everything he was advertised to be and is turning this defense into a capable unit quicker than anyone could have hoped or expected. His experience since his last stint at Michigan, especially in the NFL, have given Michigan an advantage over the competition. Give the man a few years and he will have Michigan's defense back amongst the best in the country. Mattison will prove to be to Hoke what Gary Moeller was to Bo, only better.
The man that has the potential to put Michigan in National Championship contention as soon as next season is Al Borges however. All reports on the man were positive when he came in with Hoke, but all reports also sold Borges far short of reality. If we can take anything from the first 5 games of 2011, it is that Al Borges is in no way married to any system. Instead Borges is both humble and extremely intelligent. He has taken this offensive personnel, with all of their considerable talents, and used the soft part of the schedule to tinker and learn. He looked at what worked last year and used it to beat a good Notre Dame team. He used his knowledge of SDSU and Rocky Long to make that contest look easy. He played with the parts he has and got to know their strengths and weaknesses and displayed much of what he has learned against Minnisota. My first reaction to seeing such elaborate trickeration was he should be "keeping it in the bag" to be used when needed. As the game evolved, and the offense rolled out new wrinkles seemingly every drive (for the first half at least), my thoughts changed to how on Earth was the next opponent supposed to game-plan for this? Al Borges may make this offense look like a modern version of the Mad Magicians by year's end, and it will be in a genuinely humble effort to do what it takes to win each game.
I realize this is a lot to take from a single game against an overmatched opponent, and that these words could look ridiculous in a month's time. I don't care. I'm calling it now: Michigan is back and better than ever. They may not (probably don't) have the pieces to run the table this season, but if this staff stays together it won't be long before Michigan rises to the top.
*Seriously the only uniquely nice part about having to live in south-central PA.
Go Blue and stay safe.
720p MP4 Torrent (4.97 GB):