the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
I wasn't too surprised by the loss. For MSU, the game was their whole season. For us, 'twas really just another game. I don't think the young guys really hate MSU (yet). Sure, they want to beat them, but not the deep-down Dantonio-fueled bitterness that is all the rage in East Lansing these days. As Joe Gibbs once said, when asked whether he could still coach given that the game has changed so much: "Human nature hasn't changed, has it?" Motivation is a huge part in any game, so hard to judge, so telling on the field. And MSU had the motivational edge this time. They won't for a while, so they better enjoy it while they can.
Can you believe Tate? Can you seriously fucking believe this guy? 91 yards to go, in the rain, on a day where not much went right (and a lot went wrong), and sure enough he does it again. I could almost feel the collective sphincters of Sparties everywhere tightening throughout the drive, and the whole time I was just enjoying, actually certain he would get it done. Just give him time, and the ball, and dude steps up. He is almost a religion. Obama should ask him to find Bin Laden, he is that good.
"Hey, I'm Joe Gibbs. And fuck you."
"I am Tate, but I still wear socks and shoes"
Where the hell did the run game go? Lost against better big ten schemes? Or lost without Molk? Something is amiss. I think it has more to do with Molk's absence, and in many ways is telling of how close this team is to mediocrity from a personnel standpoint. A few key injuries and down we will plummet. It is OK, or even expected: this is still a rebuilding project. Let's hope the QB makes it, and some of the key defensive guys. There is a narrow margin between 8-4 and 4-8 (as we found out last year).
"Narrow Margin: Can you believe I liked this movie?"
I really hate Dantonio. Is there a bigger douche bag in the Big Ten? The thing I don't get: do Sparty fans really like this guy? He seems like the most boring, sanctimonious, stuck up, full-of-hubris mother-scratcher* this side of the East Coast. How can anyone like him? Seriously, even his wife can barely tolerate him. I heard on good authority that his wife only has slept with him twice; there was no greater relief than hers when she found out that her pending pregnancies were females. The world could not bear another one in this man's mold.
"Hi, I'm Becky Dantonio, and I would have aborted any sons from this man. I also burnt all my blue clothes, as did my daughters."
So here we are, 4-1. I'd say that's a record to be happy with, but more importantly, a team to be proud of. Gritty, tough, all the cliches you'd like to spout, they are here in spades. Not deep, not too talented, but those are both terms suffixed with "yet". We will get there. Rich Rod is not building a big-ten contender; he is building a national powerhouse. We are going to start rolling some teams, probably quite a few by next year. It will be fun to watch.
More importantly, we're going to start rolling Tressel. There's another guy worthy of your vitriol. I think that's going to start earlier, though - as soon as this year. On one side will be a team with few blemishes, the established powerhouse of the Big Ten. On the other side, a team with a few nicks along the way, maybe 3 losses or more, but with everything to prove. If you think that sounds like 1969, you are right. We are coming for you, Buckeye brethren, and your days at the top of the heap are done**.
"Here we come, you sons of bitches."
* a term from Raising Arizona.
** except for the dung heap that is known as Ohio. You will always be king there.
By no means is this an unacceptable loss. If we take away the emotional aspect of getting beat soundly by our little brother two years in a row, this was almost a given. We were playing a team with decent talent, a potent offense, and a desperate need to win. Our opponent had to have this one, and they played like it. But still...
I hate losing to State. It is humbling in a way that is just too personal. So much smack has been spoken, just within the family, and over so many years... I will be hearing about this one for a while. There is nothing to say back this time. Michigan was thoroughly outplayed and had no right to even be in this game. The Spartoons managed to drive 130 yards for their first touchdown. State was killing themselves in true Sparty-NO! fashion, taking killer penalties, gifting Michigan the ball with regularity, and it almost cost them. Never underestimate the power of the Forcier.
- The fake punt. What the hell was that? I gather that the decision was made by Zoltan. There has been no worse conscious decision made in recent Michigan Football history. Yes, there was a lot of game left to be played, and yes, we held them to a field goal which they probably would have managed after a punt from there anyways. That was still a move that should never be allowed to happen. That is why I don't blame Zoltan for that. I understand giving him the read on punts and taking what openings he sees, and bad reads will happen. At the same time there should be set-in-stone limits to this, like when we are punting from our own 17. On fourth and inches. I put this squarely on the coaches.
- I don't know whether to defend GERG or throw him under the bus. It is even more obvious that he is dealing with a completely inept secondary. The way I see it he has two options to deal with this: 1) Drop everyone, Safeties, CBs, and LBs, back into coverage and rush only the line or 2) Blitz like crazy. It seemed to me that getting shredded by Cousins led to GERG trying 1 for most of the game and Cousins killed us with his feet. 1 is the path of no contain. Our defense had Sparty bottled up (or Sparty was killing themselves with penalties) for 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8, 2nd and 25(!), 3rd and 8 again and we would drop into almost a prevent defense only to get burned by Cousins. Only late in the game did we start to go to 2 and it made a big difference in our effectiveness.
- We can all be excited that this Michigan team has no quit in it. No two score lead is never safe against us and that is going to be exciting for the rest of the season because we are certainly going to face many more 4th quarter deficits with this crew on defense.
- Two more streaks of note went down in this one IIRC. The long streak of no 2 years in a row to Sparty, and I believe this was our first overtime loss. They both felt strange, ya know? Oh, well - Wipe the slate clean and all that...
- Congratulations to Michigan St for getting pumped up for the game and handing our asses to us. They played very well and deserved the win.
- Tate Forcier - Wow. Can this kid get any more exciting? It seems like it would get boring always bringing him up for accolades but he is just amazing. Stay healthy young man. You could yet be the best we have ever seen in a Michigan uniform. Super Clutch.
- Kovacs - I am officially behind this guy 100%. No, he is not a great option at safety. He has an amazing ability to time blitzes, shed blocks and make tackles though. I almost could see him as a linebacker if he could put on some muscle. Just an amazing performance for a walk on.
- Zoltan - Sorry to say it but Zoltan was not good in this game. Many short punts and of course the bad read. I still love the guy though.
- Woolfolk - This guy may be fast, but he can't tackle at all it seems. Kovacs is not a good safety, but he is better than Troy.
This game illustrates further that we should be happy with 7 wins and a bowl game this year. Iowa isn't unwinnable, but it isn't likely that we take one at night in Kinnick IME. I think we will probably be at 5-3 after Penn St and looking for 2 wins the rest of the way. Those wins look like Illinois and Purdon't (nice choke job boilers), with Wisky a possibility as well. I hope we don't have anything riding on The Game as with nothing to lose, I think we win that one.
Have a safe week everyone. Go Blue! Beat those Hawkeyes!
1. It is hard to convey how close the game wasn't. I take my hat off to Dantonio and Co. for their game plan. State absolutely dominated this game. Their 130 yard drive was an impressive display of consistency notwithstanding their efforts to self-destruct. Other than a relatively ineffective running game (I'm excluding QB scrambles), MSU played extremely well on both sides of the ball. The only thing I would pretty furious about if I was a State fan was Dantonio's decision to sub in Nichols at different points in otherwise successful drives. He was far less effective than Cousins. I have seen reporting on ESPN that Cousins was banged up, and that may explain the 4th quarter, but there were several moments in the first half where Nichols came in and absolutely killed an otherwise solid drive.
2. Paradoxically, I was pretty thrilled with the defense. Obviously, the defense gave up a lot of yards today. But today is the day when I became a true Greg Robinson believer. Our defense is seriously lacking in athletic talent. But it seemed that GERG was using the linebackers to help out in coverage in a way that help band-aid our secondary's woes. In addition, JT Floyd looked not horrible today. There was an obvious cost to the way they deployed the linebackers -- no back up containment when the defensive line broke down in the middle. But at the end of the first half, I looked up at the scoreboard and said "Hat's off to Greg Robinson." He had a great gameplan that worked well. And, as per usual, he made great adjustments in the second half. I thought the defense delivered today in every way it is reasonable to expect.
3. It took us awhile to adjust to our inability to run. State's linebackers did a great job on the run game and were clearly part of a comprehensive scheme to shut down the read option. It was impressive. RichRod adjusted well in my view, and began passing, but we were seriously hampered by drops in the first half. Koger drops a ball -- I think "Hey, he's a tight end and having those guys running full speed down the field is tough." Kelvin Grady, though, is starting to get on my nerves. From where I sit, that guy drops more than he catches. With the substantial improvement of Martavious Odoms, I'd like to see more Number 9 and less Kel. Grady.
4. I am concerned about playcalling. Complaining about play calling is obviously an age-old Michigan meme. I have been listening to people bitch about Bo's playcalling since I was eight years old. However, I feel like our playcalling today had a "let's try this; ok, let's try this" feel to it. I didn't feel like we had a philosophy that was behind our playcalling. I think the best evidence of this is when they stuck Denard Robinson in in the 3rd Quarter with Michigan's ball at the 20. We very much needed to get untracked and drive the ball at that point. We really hadn't all day. I love Denard and see the upside, but he's not the type to engineer a lengthy drive, especially because he's still learning much of the playbook. I had a distinct feel that Rodriguez was grasping at straws and was kind of hoping Denard might do something amazing and bail us out. That's obviously not a ridiculous hope, but MSU's defense is far from overwhelming, and there was real reason to think each time we got the ball that we were about to get untracked. The Denard series was a mistake.
At this point, we have to discuss the fake punt. There was a part of me that was getting concerned enough that I thought about just lining up and going for it. Then my brain said "Yeah, right. Even if it works, you still have 80 yards to go. Cost-benefit doesn't work out." And then I watched in confusion as Zoltan started running and thought "Why are we rugby punting?" And then I thought "Holy God, we just faked a punt on our 15 yard line." I love RichRod. I do. But it is absolutely inexcusable to make this call in a close game. It demonstrated a frustration and lack of discipline on his part that he simply cannot afford to have. I viewed that playcall as an example of a head coach panicking simply because his normally magic touch wasn't working.
In general, for three quarters, I genuinely felt like we had no flow to our play call. Each drive felt like everything had to go right in order for the drive to succeed -- you felt like there was no margin. Dropped ball? Dead drive. Sack? Dead drive. All the while, State was the complete opposite. No matter how bad their third and longs were (and God Almighty did they convert more third and longs than I have ever seen), you sensed that they had a chance to convert. I felt like we lacked that type of resilience.
5. God I love this team. All of the foregoing being said, I saw the heart of a lion out there today. I absolutely LOVE the fact that with RichRod at the controls, this team is literally never out of a game. With limited exceptions over the years, Michigan simply is not a team that does well coming from behind. We have been built as a horse that gets the lead and then holds it. This team is different. These guys are punchers. With four minutes to go, I honestly felt like we had a chance. Obviously, a lot of things came together to make it happen, but I would have NEVER thought we were still in this game under Bo/Mo/Lo.
6. The State of Our Union is Strong. Look at where these two programs are. MSU has three years under Dantonio. From where I sit, they look like a sailboat that is going in circles. I predict they end the season .500 or with a losing record. By contrast, in our second season under RichRod, our record is up, our recruiting is up, and you are really starting to see the possibilities.
It sucks losing to Sparty. I get that. But we absolutely stole two games already this season. We have two walks on playing defense. Our quarterback is a freshman. Our line is only OK at best, and that was before transfers. If we were going to lose today, this was a good way to lose. I am not deterred.
-1999 W @ Syracuse 18-13
A win but lowest point total of the season.
-2000 L @ UCLA 20-23
-2001 L @ Washington 18-24
Lowest point total of regular season.
-2002 L @ND 23-25
96 Rushing yards. -2003 L @ Oregon L 27-31
Scored late TD by Breaston to make it look closer than it was. One of the TD's was scored on a blocked FG
-3 Rushing yards on the day!!!!!!
-2004 L @ ND 20-28
56 Rushing yards.
-2005 L @ Wiscy 20-23
Only scored 13 points until late in the 4th. Scored on long flea-flicker to Manningham.
Look it happens, if you can remember these games the offense was terrible. And half of these games were played by WAY more experienced players. The only exception was Henne in 04. Were there some questionable play calls? Maybe. But remember watching these games in the past and banging your head against a wall?
1. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Stop Michigan State Early.
-On State's first drive, they had 4 penalties for 50 yards. Their drive was 80 yards. That's 130 yards total of offense they had to create. Anytime a team gets a personnel foul 15 yard penalty, it normally KILLS the drive. There are two reasons why it didn't here: Both times it was AFTER the play, so it merely set MSU back, rather than 2nd and 25, it was 1st and 10 from 15 yards back. Second, Michigan failed to make MSU pay for the chop block penalty that set them at 2nd and 25. Instead, they allowed Cousins to scramble and practically erase the penalty. More on that later. Through out the entire first half, Michigan's defense did not stop State on 3rd down until late in their drives, if at all.
2. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Contain
-A couple plays come to mind: namely every time Cousins scrambled out of the pocket, he picked up at least 10 yards because our defense lost contain and could not close in fast enough. We got KILLED by this the whole game. Give props to Cousins for seeing that massive hole to run through, because it was his for the taking. Our defense just could not stop him at all. And let's not mention that end-around where Michigan had the play resolved and just had to make the tackle, but somehow managed to allow Martin to run around the entire defense and turn a 3-4 yard loss into an 18 yard gain.
3. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Turnovers
-MSU presented plenty of opportunities for the Wolverine's to get a turnover by having I believe three or four fumbles during the game, only one of which was recovered. Granted one bounced literally into the arms of MSU's Grant as he was getting up from a block, but the others were recoverable. We were able to force the turnovers but we just couldn't recover them.
4. The Inability of Michigan's Defense to Get Pressure And Disrupt The Pocket
-This goes hand-in-hand with number 2. Giving Cousins and Nichol over 5 seconds to throw and not coming up with a sack is ridiculous. Giving them over 5 seconds to throw and then letting them scramble for 15 yards is just inexcusable. Our defensive front got beat all day long. Yea you can say they showed poise on the early goalline stand, or the Brandon Graham I'll-Knock-You-Into-Next-Year-When-I-Don't-Get-Blocked tackle on MSU's Winston, but overall they didn't show up.
Okay, enough gripe about the defense, we know they sucked coming into this game, but how about the offense with Tate the Great?
5. The Inability of Michigan's Receivers to Catch a Pass
-Seriously, how many dropped balls did we have in the first half? Like a billion? Ok, only about 4 or so, but still. It seemed like our receivers just could not hang onto the ball or make a catch all game long. Tate would scramble around and make the throw only to have it fall through someone's hands, or be caught and then jarred loose. Give credit again to MSU for delivering big hits on a couple of those, but some had the receiver wide open and they just dropped it.
6. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Adjust to MSU's Defensive Front
-When you continuously try to run the ball up the middle the whole game, and continuously get stuffed, how does that make a good game plan? Carlos Brown thrives on speed and being able to blow by people, not run up the middle and pound it out; that's Minor's job. Michigan needed to find ways to get Carlos outside in space, rather than have him try to get yards by going forward up the middle.
7. The Inability of Michigan's Offense to Convert Turnovers
-Biggest case, the opening series. Got a great turnover early and a touchdown would have been icing on the cake to start the game. Instead, the most Michigan can muster is a net 5 yard loss and tack up the field goal. Had Michigan scored there, the entire game is different. Then again later in the 3rd quarter, a clutch interception takes away three points, and what does Michigan do? Makes the most confusing play call of all-time.
8. The Worst Play Call of All-Time
-4th and inches, deep in their own territory, Michigan opts to kick it...except not. Instead, Zoltan tries to run from 8 yards deep to get to the first. Normally on fake punts it goes to one of the guys setting up the block, not the punter. And if it does go to the punter, it's normally a pass, because he's so far deep. In that scenario if Michigan truly wanted to go for it, give the ball to Brandon Minor, or have Tate get under center and push. Either way, that play could have changed the game had Michigan's defense not miraculously held MSU to a field goal.
9. Michigan Did Not Want It
-If you watched the game, you could see the hunger and desire in the eyes of the players of MSU. They wanted this win. This win could turn around their season and give them a shot at a Big Ten Title run. This win would define the rest of their season. For Michigan, it seemed the players were content with starting 4-0 (and then 4-1) and the passion was not there as it was for MSU. Granted, it was in East Lansing, but that does not excuse the fact that Michigan's effort was severely lacking compared to MSU the entire game. I don't know if players weren't focused or what, but they just didn't seem as into it as MSU.
10. Tate Can't Do Everything Himself
-Out of the Michigan players, this is the one kid that did want it. His two fourth quarter drives proved it. He wanted to win, and he wanted it badly. He did everything in his power to guide his team to victory, but in the end it wasn't enough. He can't carry the whole team by himself; he needs support from the other players. Tate will be great, of that there is no doubt, as it already has been proven. But every great player has a great supporting cast, and others now need to step up.
Michigan did not win this game, because they had no business being in this game. Those last fourth quarter drives were unearned and Michigan did not deserve to be in overtime with Michigan State. The result is what it should have been, a loss for Michigan. The Wolverine's took their early successes as an excuse to look past MSU, especially given MSU's 3-1 start. But now Michigan needs to regroup and refocus for next week, and continue to take the season one game at a time.
This was a tough loss to handle, especially after tying the game and going into overtime. But next week's game is going to be harder. Iowa brings a defense that is 3rd in the Big Ten behind Penn State (#1) and Ohio State (#2). They won't need to outscore the Wolverine's if their defense does their job, and their offense should be fine against Michigan's porous defense. Michigan needs to step up and find other role players on both sides of the ball that can make plays. This is the spot of college football, and on any given Saturday, any team can win.
1. The UM secondary - this group has been giving up big plays all season, oftentimes playing far off receivers. Is this because of the scheme Greg Robinson has been using, or is this because he lacks trust in the ability of the defensive backs to defense the long pass? Other than the Warren interception, this group has been more reactive than proactive. They rarely get a good enough read on the QB to step into a passing lane to make a play; instead, they wait for the catch to be made and then react. I can't help but notice that other teams do a better job of this. My guess is this is part inexperience, part scheme. We'll see how they respond to the MSU passing game today, but if the defense is truly progressing each and every week, we should see a few more plays being made.
2. The UM Defensive Line - While solid at times, this unit has had much difficulty putting pressure on the QB. A few more sacks could go a long way for the defense. The other issue has been with the rush defense. Half of the time they stop the running back for little to no gain, the other half they seem to get gashed by a big run. While the MSU run game has struggled, this is the second chance to go against a Big Ten offensive line. If the MSU run game has success, I don't think this bodes well for future games this year. If they put in a solid performance, it's a step in the right direction. No doubt that the problem with the D-Line is, in part related to the first.
3. Freshman on the Road - This is the first true test for the youngsters we have on offense and defense. While Tate has shown poise under pressure, you have to wonder how the rest of the group will respond. Denard is likely to have issues if he decides to pass. The defensive backs are likely to find themselves lost at times. Nevertheless, it's probably better to have MSU for the first road game than a better team like Iowa.
What will we see today - time will tell. WIn or lose, it's still fun to watch this team play and we should sit back and enjoy the maturation of the team.