From Portage Northern.
In the week leading up to this game, the recognition that I might have to scramble to watch the game started sinking in, for I live in the blue portion of the dreaded ABC Game Map. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I bought ESPN GamePlan and didn't have to worry about missing any Michigan games. Then, ABC and ESPN invented the reverse mirror concept, and I didn't even have to buy GamePlan. And more recently, the Big Ten Network has almost assured me of seeing every UofM game in Los Angeles, which is amazing considering UCLA and USC are rarely on the air out here. An hour before the game, I consulted MGoBlog and looked into this, "streaming" idea. We get Verizon, so I was able to log into ESPN3. Let's just say I prefer ESPN 8, the OCHO. I tried that for 10 minutes, and after a frustrating hodge-podge of HD, LD, and ND (no definition, i.e., the screen would freeze up) I went to ESPN Gameplan and tried to order the single day coverage for $26. Perhaps a million frustrated M fans joined me in clogging up the GamePlan system, because it wouldn't let me purchase the game, so I went back to ESPN3. There has to be a better way. After sitting through a near repeat of the Akron game, I'm glad I didn't spend $26 on that.
NOT HD. <cr>We looked good in game 1, but CMU was missing their QB and top RB. We looked good against ND, but it's looking more and more like that was just an upset, or maybe ND's not that good either. Game 3 and Game 4 were struggles. A third of the way through the season, I think it's fair to start drawing some conclusions. This is a young team that is making the kind of mistakes that young players make. The frustrating (there's that word again) thing for me is that the schedule sets up perfectly for this team to win a lot of games. We play 4 ranked teams, only one of them on the road. And that road game is a veritable home game in the friendly confines of Chicago. But it's clear so far that we're still at least a year away. I could be wrong, the line could gel during the bye week, the turnover problem could magically go away, the wide receivers could learn how to run deep routes, the special teams could learn how to get out of the way of a punt. There's just so much improvement that needs to be made to be competitive with the upper ranks of the Big Ten. But at least we're 4-0, right? Wait, we are 4-0. Someone please tell me we're 4-0. So why does MGoBlue.com have us at 3-1 in the boxscore. I know it sure feels that way. Here's a screen capture of the boxscore before they fix the error:
It is an error, right? Oh Lord did that game give me a hangover, and I didn't even drink anything...
Burst of Impetus
* Time for a bonus link
The story starts with a graph showing a scatter plot of winning percentage versus turnover margin. The line fit roughly goes through 100% and +2, and -100% and -2. In the fourth quarter, Michigan was staring at a -4 turnover margin. Desmond Morgan made a great play, I guess, my internet connection was bouncing back and forth between LD and ND when the play was made. He picked off the pass and returned the ball 29 yards. Michigan converted and grabbed the momentum. If I remember correctly, he played some QB in high school. He showed why on that INT return. Morgan is becoming the leader of that defense.
Captain Morgan's Crew
* First off, an explanation. I know Morgan's not a team captain, yet, but I suspect he will be. I also have been watching Bar Rescue marathons on the Spike network, and so I've seen many, many Captain Morgan's commercials.
* I had titled this section, "Young 98," as an allusion to Vince Young, but after another shaky performance, we're down to just "young 98." It's worth remembering that even though he is a senior, he still has not started a season's worth of games at QB.
* Gardner was 11-23 passing for 97 yards. He tossed two INTs and no TDs.
* Gardner gained 106 yards, YAY, but lost 42, for a net of 64. His first step under pressure is almost always away from the line of scrimmage. That is something we've seen since his early days. He needs a QB coach to break that habit and get him to step up into the pocket, if his O-Line can actually form one for him. (Why am I so grumpy? Oh, yeah, 24-21 vs. UCONN.)
* A week after I suggested they ditch the option play and simplify the system for Gardner, he executed a beautiful option pitch, leading to one of Toussaint's TDs. Yes, the universe has conspired to humble me yet again.
20 Pound Cheeseburgers
* Toussaint was THE running attack from the RB position, with 120 yards on 24 carries. He scored 2 TDs and had a long of 35 yards.
* TEAM's three carries matched the rest of the non-Toussaint/Gardner combined carries.
V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* Nothing to see here, move along.
Norf and Dileo
* Dileo has taken over the punt return duties from Norfleet. America has a sad.
* I was hoping that was because they were going to involve Norfleet more in the offense. He did carry twice for 14 yards.
* I don't know if this team is lacking players, or lacking ways to get their playmakers involved. In the case of Norfleet and Dileo, I fear their talents are being wasted. That said, it's time for my new feature...
ST3's contrarian position of the week
* I think Borges actually called a good game. (/ducks) I think he's 3 for 4 so far this year, with the Akron game being the lone stinker. The problem with the Akron game is that it appeared he couldn't care less what kind of defense they were running. Let's go inside the boxscore on this game and look at the critical third down conversion stat. Michigan was 7 of 17, meanwhile, UCONN was 1 of 11. Let's look at some of the early third downs. On the second drive, we had 3rd and 1, and 3rd and 2. Gardner rushed for the first down on both plays. Later in the drive, on third and 12, Gardner ran again and ended up scoring our first TD. So my point is, Gardner rushing is one of our better (only? well, at least until Touss got untracked) options, and Borges dialed those up on the critical third down. Later in the game, he may have gone to the well once too many times, when we got stopped on 4th and 2, but if Devin had been more aggressive on that run, he would have made it. Then, after the Dileo punt return, with UCONN selling out against the Devin runs, Borges called a very safe pass play to Gallon on 3rd and 4. He had two WRs clear out the area for Gallon, who stopped just past the sticks. We eventually got down to the four, setting up Gibbons for a chip shot FG. Let's not forget that Gardner was 0 for 5 with an INT in the 2nd quarter. Had Borges continued to press the issue, Gardner might not have been able to recover to lead us in the 2nd half. Instead, Borges figured out what run plays were working, got Gardner back into somewhat of a comfort zone, and managed to get us a W in a game where we were -3 in TO margin.
* Is it too harsh of me to suggest that the ST coach might want to get his resume polished up?
* Fortunately for us, it was 4th and 7 when we ran into the kicker, not 4th and 5. The angle that Gedeon took was awful. It took him directly into the path of the punter. Who is teaching that? These ST players are mostly frosh and RS frosh, and probably as BMOC in high school, didn't play a lot of special teams.
* On our punt return fumble, someone has to be screaming, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!" Instead, Jones is trying to block someone and the ball bounces off his leg.
* Dileo's great punt return was brought back because another young kid made a mistake 25 yards from the play.
I'm an international umpire
* Penalties were 5-45 against us, and 6 for 70 against them.
* In addition to all the mistakes made by the younger players, Lewan had a holding penalty wipe out at 35+ yard run.
* For the second week in a row, I have no complaints with the refs. I must be getting soft in my old age.
UCONN'T be serious
* I don't like UConn's stadium. First of all, their turf looks like this:
Secondly, their mid-field logo stretches from one 30 to the other. That's disconcerting for me. I'm used to seeing a team reach the mid-field logo and thinking they've reached mid-field. You know, the 45 yard line. At UCONN, you've still got a long way to go even to get to the 50.
* The attendance 42,704. I'm pretty sure most Texas High School teams draw more than that.
* Yawin Smallwood led UCONN with 13 tackles. Hey Yawin, Ya-lose. But seriously, he played a heck of a game with 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a sack.
* Their nose guard made 6 tackles and had 2 TFLs. Nose guards aren't supposed to make 6 tackles. I'm putting together a mock NFL Draft for next April, and so far, my first round has the 12 nose guards on our schedule.
* Last week I said I was delaying the 100%BLU anecdote until I was in a better mood. I'm beginning to realize, that time may never come, so on with the story. As I was perusing my "Early Fall 2013" copy of Michigan Alumnus magazine (a benefit of my Lifetime Membership to the Alumni Association, a gift from Mom and Dad upon graduating - a car would have been nice, but I'm not complaining) I read that UofM's School of Social Work is ranked #1 nationally. I mentioned earlier this season that Dad graduated with his MSW from UofM and Devin Gardner is currently in the School. The inquisitive reader might ask, what does one do with a degree from the nation's top School of Social Work? Let me share two University of Michigan-related items from Dad's career. 24 years ago (normal disclaimer about the accuracy of my memory applies) the Chinese Government reached out to the State of Michigan for help with their treatment of the mentally ill. The State of Michigan had some brutal budget cuts in the early 80's, forcing the closure of many State-run hospitals. They were somewhat successful in transferring institutionalized patients into less costly, community-based group homes. So the Chinese wanted to learn more about this cost-effective, more humane approach. Dad was working for the State Department of Mental Health at the time. He was tasked with organizing the trip. He reached out to a Professor of Chinese Studies at UofM, and together they planned the trip. They were in China for three weeks, visiting different areas. The professor recommended they visit Tainanmen Square, a very famous location. While they were there, students were protesting the Chinese government. One student got to talking with Dad. The student took off his bandana, gave it to Dad, and asked him to tell their story in America. One week later, the tanks rolled in. So that's my "Dad as Forest Gump" story.
Second story, if you'll indulge me, a few years later, Dad is putting together an educational video about the benefits of community living and group homes for the mentally ill. There are many levels or gradations among the mentally challenged. Some can function quite fine in society as long as they are given the right medication, or looked in on periodically. One such group home was a couple blocks from the Bo building on South Campus. Dad arranged for Chris Burke, the famous actor from the 80's drama, Life Goes On, to appear in the video. Knowing that I was a fan of the show, and was still on campus at that time, Dad called and invited me over to the location where they were filming. I got to meet Chris and his parents, and Dad took this photo (that's me on the right, in the - HORROR - red shirt and gigantic glasses, Brady would be sooo dissappointed in me.)
The B1G went a respectable 7-5 ATS last weekend; while Michigan did not obviously fare as well. Wisconsin is the only team left with a perfect record ATS.
|Michigan||-31.5||59-9 (CMU)||+18.5||-5||41-30 (ND)||+6||-37||28-24 (Akron)||-33|
|Ohio||-34||40-20 (Buff)||-14||-28||42-7 (SDSU)||+7||-13.5||52-34 (@Cal)||+4.5|
|Michigan St||-28||26-13 (WMU)||-15||-21.5||21-6 (USF)||-6.5||-23||55-17 (Young St)||+15|
|Indiana||-25||73-35 (Ind St)||+13||-12.5||35-41 (Navy)||-18.5||-2.5||42-10 (BGSU)||+29.5|
|Illinois||-17||42-34 (So Ill)||-9||+8||45-17 (Cinci)||+36||+10.5||24-34 (Wash)||+0.5|
|Northwestern||-6.5||44-30 (@Cal)||+7.5||-17||48-27 (Syr)||+4||-28||38-17 (WMU)||-7|
|Penn State||-8||23-17 (Syr)||-2||-28||45-7 (EMU)||+10||-4.5||31-34 (UCF)||-7.5|
|Nebraska||-31||37-34 (Wyo)||-28||-28||56-13 (S Miss)||+15||-1.5||21-41 (UCLA)||-21.5|
|Iowa||-3||27-30 (N Ill)||-6||-26||28-14 (Misso St)||-12||-1||27-21 (@Iowa St)||+5|
|Wisconsin||-44||45-0 (UMass)||+1||-45||48-0 (Tenn Tech)||+3||+7||30-32 (@AZ St)||+5|
|Purdue||+10.5||7-42 (Cinci)||-24.5||-17||20-14 (Ind St)||-11||+17||31-24 (ND)||+10|
|Minnesota||-13.5||51-23 (UNLV)||+14.5||-16||44-21 (N Mex St)||+7||-27.5||29-12 (W Ill)||-10.5|
Penn State is the big mover; the line has increased 7 points since the open. Indiana opened as the underdog, but the market has determined that game is a toss-up. We have our first B1G match-up with Purdue @ Wisconsin. Of course with a current spread 23.5 it doesn't really set off fireworks for the start of league play. Can Michigan recover and win by 3 TD's? They may be able to cover that O by themselves.
|Penn State||-14||-21||54||Kent St|
If MCalibur, or anyone else, has the missing O/U I'll update them as they come in.
The weekly six selects #6 from Akron over any Michigan folks this week
1. The Six Factors
|Field Pos||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.4 (48)||49% (42)||213 (31)||8.9 (95)||+6% (44)||2.3 (33)|
|Defense||32.7 (96)||50% (27)||172 (46)||4.0 (58)||-1% (21)||2.3 (16)|
Weekly numbers first, season national rank in ()
That certainly doesn’t look like a win. Mostly thanks to the pick-six, Akron’s field position would have given an average team a nearly touchdown win. Akron handily won the early downs, edging Michigan in early conversions and smoking us in third down distance. Michigan held an edge in adjusted third down performance. Michigan’s 213 bonus yards were a strong number, but coming into the game Akron was awful and the fact that they ended as close as they did to Michigan was a major black mark for the defense.
For the season Michigan finds itself without an elite metric on offense (now that the red zone streak was shattered) and only one bad one. Thanks to some rough early down rushes, Michigan’s typical third down has been nearly 9 yards.
On the defensive side there is more variance. Preventing early conversions, third downs and red zone have all been strong areas of success for the defense. Bonus yards and third down distance haven’t been as strong. They have also faced some challenging field position, almost in the triple digits in terms of their national rank.
(Click the Image to See Full Size Version)
I hope we win this week, like a real Meeshigan win.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every week here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
this week's miniprogram:
As most people here are well aware the University's President Mary Sue Coleman is in the last academic year of her tenure and has announced her intent to retire in July 2014. Back on August 22nd I wrote my first installment of this diary with some fun wild speculation about possible candidates. At this point everything is based on semi-educated guesses and the fact that, as the University officially launches its "Victors for Michigan" campaign towards the goal of raising $5 billion before the University's bicentenial in 2017, they may want someone with previous University ties to seemlessly step into the campaign. Here's the link to the old Diary http://mgoblog.com/diaries/race-replace-mary-sue-coleman-%E2%80%93-odds-university-michigan%E2%80%99s-next-president
So logically candidates like Theresa Sullivan (former M provost, current Chancellor at UVA), Marvin Krislov (former General Counsel during NCAA investigation and Affirmative Action Supreme Court case, now President at Oberlin College) and Nancy Cantor (former Provost at Michigan and current President at Syracuse who is leaving in 2014) make some logical sense. The Regents have hired a search firm and the search is underway. Needless to say that so-called outsiders are certainly possible but the public would never get so much as a whiff of who those might be as those candidates will not want to endanger their current employment. When Mary Sue Coleman was hired away from the University of Iowa, all interviews and meetings were so secretive they did not occur in the State of Michigan.
So again, its all mostly speculation. That said, there are various factions who have championed certain possible candidates. Needless to say all of the aforementioned names have surfaced in certain discussions. One other interesting possibility that has been heard whispered in certain hallways is one Earl Lewis. Here are some links to familiarize yourself http://www.mellon.org/about_foundation/officers/earl-lewis and http://www.mellon.org/news_publications/announcements-1/earl-lewis-elected-next-president-of-the-andrew-w.-mellon-foundation/ . Briefly put, Mr. Lewis was previously the Dean of Rackham School of Graduate Studies at Michigan and a Vice Provost. He left Michigan after 15 years in 2004 to become the Provost (2nd in charge behind the President) at Emory (technically a better ranked/near Ivy League school). In 2012 Mr. Lewis left Emory to become the President of the Andrew Mellon Foundation which is one of the largest educational trusts/benefactors in the country. Mr. Lewis has an impecible academic record, has UofM ties, is fairly young in terms of candidates for this kind of position and could bring connections out the proverbial wazoo considering the people he has dealt with as President of the Mellon Foundation. Lewis would also be the first African-American President at Michigan. He's certainly an intriguing candidate and those who hear the name and credentials have had little argument that he'd make a good choice.
Further, a few more logs have been placed on the fire that perhaps an Obama Cabinet member looking towards their post-government career could be the choice. As many may note Janet Napolitano, the chief of Homeland Security, recently left her post to become Chancellor of the University of California system. Further, as some of you are also aware, Gordon Gee, the President at Ohio State University has announced his pending retirement and there has been talk that certain cabinet members have put out word that they may be interested. So, would Secretary of Education Arne Duncan or even Department of Justice Head Eric Holder or any number of other cabinet members make the jump a year early to set up their post-political life. Again, its safe to assume if rumors are coming out of Columbus that cabinet members are making themselves available, the same is happening here.
Finally, a late personal vote for Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking simply for the recent announcement of Adrian's new program that pays part or all of the student loan payments of any Adrian graduate who makes less than $37,000 a year. http://www.freep.com/article/20130918/NEWS06/309180024/adrian-college-loan-repayment-alma-college-student-loans-debt-college-affordability As we can all attest, the amount of student loan debt that college graduates are accruing plus the diminished number of jobs, and well-paying jobs and ever increasing cost of secondary education are creating an entire generation that is choking under their student loans. Props/Kudos/Raise a Glass to President Docking for stepping up for the students and graduates to try an innovative way of trying to alleviate some of that debt. As the University embarks on the Victors for Michigan fundraising effort, one can only hope a huge chunk of that money will head towards scholarships. While I certainly commend gifts of Stephen Ross and Charlie Munger, right now the students need scholarships a little more than we need new buildings. In that spirit, any of you who are reading this and agree with the latter assertions can help some Michigan undergraduate scholarships and get yourself some Michigan memorabilia at this online auction fundraiser http://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/AuctionHome.action?vhost=mgoauction which is running all fall.
If anything interesting comes to light, Part III of the Diary will rapidly be posted. In the meantime, Go Blue and Give Back.