Peppers at 10, which seems low.
1994, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. Each of these was a bitter pill to take, ruining an afternoon and often more. But I don't recall a loss in which Michigan brought less to the game and came away with real reason for optimism. Yes, I realize how awful it is to look at a loss to the Ohio State University and sift amongst the rubble for a moral victory, but that is a realistic approach when your only conference win is against a team better known for basketball, lead by a bubble gum-throwing coach.
So, may I present some thoughts from grim Saturday and the hind-sighted look at the season:
- Against an admittedly Tressell-led team, the previously pourous defense allowed two offensive touchdowns. I recognize that the Sweatervest had faith in his defense and with good reason, but the Wolverine defense made Pryor look like an athlete attempting to play QB. We, as fans,
-Vincent Smith is going to be a great back in this offense.
-Roy Roundtree seems to have good hands and awareness, if not breakaway speed.
-I, you, and all the good people who love the light side of the force are REALLY going to miss Brandon Graham. 14 defensive points allowed. Nearly turned back the Buckeyes from the goal-line singlehandedly. Was absolutely unblockable all year.
-& the Space Emperor.
- Obviously the five turnovers. That's unacceptable in any game, even with a freshman QB. But remember, the 2-1 TD to INT ratio for the remainder of the year was the anomaly. We knew going into the season that starting a freshman QB would lead to big errors. For much of the year, we were lucky. Against Notre Dame, it did not hurt us, and it enabled the team to tie up Michigan State. The daring decisions didn't come back to bite us. But the bad game yesterday notwithstanding, there was obvious improvement from the beginning of the season to the end.
- The secondary severely limited any ability to blitz. This makes me think about the third and goal, in which the Michigan defense allowed a screen pass for a TD. Before the play, I was hoping for a three man rush or a two man rush with a two man spy, forcing Pryor to throw in to a limited field with coverage. Obviously, that's not what was called, and that provided the touchdown that eventually sealed itl
-The offensive line did little to open up holes in the Buckeye defensive front. However, I don't recall a game since Tim Biakabutuka in which the Michigan O-line ran roughshod over the Buckeyes. If you watch the National Championship game in 1997, the future All-Pros on that line struggled to move the Buckeyes. This is nothing really new. (Correction, the 2003 game was also an exception, Chris Perry rushed for 154 yards against one of the best rush defenses. But I believe that was the first game in 10 years in which Michigan truly owned the run game.)
I spent Sunday evening watching the Eagles and Bears with an Ohio State alum who is working on a PhD from Drexel (i.e., not a "Git-R-Dun" type). His take from the game was essentially, "if you keep Forcier from throwing the ball without discernment, that team will be good." He also didn't realize that Molk, our starting center was injured since PSU.
Excuses are not good. But realism is not only looking at the negatives, but also assessing the reasons why those negatives took place. When the Boston Celtics lost in the playoffs this past June, it was not "an excuse" to recognize the fact that Kevin Garnett was not on the court. If you attempt to assess your place as a team, you must take all factors into account. First, the starting center on this Wolverines team has not played since a few plays in the Penn State game. Centers don't get acclaim, just as DT's such as Ndomakon Suh don't win the Heisman Trophy. But when they aren't playing, they make a big difference. I think it's fair to say with Molk present, the Offensive Line is able to open up holes better, and probably pass protect better down the stretch of the schedule. Second, the best running back on the team did not play in the Ohio State game. Brandon Minor's injury kept him out of the game. We all wanted to see Minor Rage one last time, one more time at home, but the football fates are cruel in ways we could only have dreamt about five years ago.
I hope this game gave you renewed hope for the big picture in the way that I received it. The game of ball is glorious. The Wolverines will begin to have stability in the defensive coaches for the first time in nearly five years. The Michigan team will return a starting quarterback for the first time since 2007. This is an off-season in which the team needs its fans. Stay true, those who stay true will watch champions.
Zoltan Mesko--Sadly, the Space Emperor will rule another galaxy.
Next year's defense will certainly miss Brandon Graham. He's the only legitimate All-American (and all-Big Ten player--with the possible exception of Donovan Warren--for that matter) on the defense. No single player will be able to fill his shoes, but we hope that multiple players will step up to replace his production. Mike Martin will hopefully continue to develop into the First-Round draft pick/All-American that we all hope he can become. He really seemed to break through at the end of the season to my view. Ryan Van Bergen should continue to get bigger, faster and stronger. He may be asked to move over to Graham's position. This could be made possible by the continued development of Will Campbell. I think that he began making strides at the end of the season, even if they were only in flashes. Segasse should also still be around. Maybe he will make an impact in his senior season. With hard work, this can continue to be the strength of the defense.
Warren was quoted by (name redacted due to general evil) saying:
Just coming back in the off-season and just working hard. Trying to get this nasty feeling out of our mouths. Don't want to have this feeling next year.
If we assume Warren stays on next season (the only player that could leave), the secondary can only get better (young safeties and corners can gain experience). Woolfolk should be able to hold down a corner opposite Warren or one of the younger guys (Turner, Witty, Floyd?) should be able to step in. Perhaps one of these guys will move to Safety. Hopefully, with some coaching stability, the young guys will learn the defensive scheme and be able to execute it. Maybe some blue chip recruits will step up and contribute right away. Next season, this unit will mature and be better than this season.
Stevie Brown is the only linebacker who is graduating. While he was the best linebacker on the field, I think that it goes without saying that the linebackers left much to be desired. At worst, Brown should be replaced by Jordan Kovacs, who seems like he could also be well suited to a role where he plays the run, especially if he bulked up a bit (without getting any slower). Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton will be back, and these two players were often replaced by Kevin Leach and (especially at the end of the season) JB Fitzgerald. Hopefully the proverb, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another," will prove to work in this linebacking corps. In order for this defense to make a marked improvement, this must be the most improved defensive unit.
With strong defensive development, solid and consistent coaching, and mental discipline, the "Tackling" metric should always find a strong positive number, and the RPS metric should die a swift death (because the defense doesn't need to attempt to "guess right" in order to stop plays). This defense will find that it can stop other teams and make it's way into the top quarter of the Big Ten statistical categories.
There is lots of good news at the QB spot. Tate won't be a freshman anymore. He will learn from many of his freshman mistakes, and improve. Oh, and he can get healthy over the off season! Hopefully tybert is right when he says, "I'm hoping to here RichRod say sometime next year: 'last year, Tate would have thrown it here (sic) and not waited for a another second or two, and that's why we got the winning TD today.'" Denard is going to get more comfortable throwing the ball in the pocket. Also, as he gets more comfortable in the offense, Coach Rod may find that he can use him in some "gadget" ways. I'd love to see him next to Tate in a "single wing" sort of setup in the backfield. Perhaps, he will even be back there with another potential QB -- Devin Gardner. I hear he's good...
The offensive line should be strong. Molk will be back and healthy. Schilling should be back. Omameh began to contribute at the end of the season. There will be seniors who can contribute. Also, there will be lots of competition from some redshirt freshmen and sophomores. I'm no expert, but I think that this will be a good situation, and the line should be able to crease defenses and protect the QB.
The running backs are, perhaps, the youngest and weakest group. But Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith found plenty of playing time due to the injuries to Brown and Minor. Also, there are plenty of athletes backing up these tailbacks in Cox and some incoming freshmen (White, Hopkins, Drake). With some consistency and some good health, this could still be a very strong unit.
The receivers will lose Greg Matthews. And he will be missed. However, Hemmingway and Stonum should be able to make their mark from the outside next season. Roundtree really impressed me late in the season. I believe that he turned into Michigan's most reliable receiver. Odoms should be healthy and use his speed to make plays in the middle. Koger can hopefully become more consistent and attack the middle of the field. Also, there are plenty of exciting players that look to find the field from this season's and last season's recruiting class.
This offense showed flashes of brilliance between fits of exasperation due to poor execution and freshman mistakes. With some improved execution and maturation, next season, this offense could return to the "point-a-minute" squads of yesteryear.
What made this season so difficult was the exciting start, especially beating Notre Dame. It turns out, Notre Dame is a 6-6 team searching for a legitimate bowl game to get drubbed in. (I'm assuming that Stanford destroys Notre Dame on Saturday. I don't think that this is a stretch.) We became irrationally exuberant and had Rose Bowl aspirations. Our young players need to spend this season growing both physically and mentally. The coaches need to take some hard looks at themselves and come up with some answers for what happenned against Illinois and Purdue. (I don't think that the coaches had the team mentally ready to play those games.) Everyone has work to do for the next nine months, and if they get it done, this team can be exciting next season.
The following are all just my personal opinions on certain pre- and post-game practices witnessed around Ann Arbor on the day of The Game this year.
Boren Listens to Creed:
(five saturn-punting zoltans out of five) I know you guys are on here. The awesome of your house continues.
You Honk, We Embarrass Our English Program (click for larger)
We played this game on East William, with legendary results. One of the reasons our parties were the shit, as opposed to, say, a handful of dudes standing outside, one half-falling into the street, was that we actually got the tense right. Starting a "U Honk; We Drink" site makes you part of a long-standing and great Michigan tradition. But this sign doesn't say that. It says "You Honk, We Drank". Fail. Take it from a UHWD veteran: make the sign before you start the game. Also: a keg works better than Natty Light or Beast. Your hearts are in the right places, but the execution is sorely lacking fellas. I'm expecting big strides next year. For now, you get one Saturn-punting Zoltan.
(Side note: how long was that girl dancing on the porch across the street from you guys? -- you can see the neighbors staring at her on the right side of the photo above. I kept getting punched by Misopogal, staring straight ahead for awhile, then looking back and she was still up there...)
Your song options are the following: something that is purely Michigan, or two things that are pop songs everyone knows the words to. You get to text your decision. How the fuck did we get "Sweet Caroline" instead of "The Hawaiian War Chant?" I'm fine with texting-based marketing campaigns by the Athletic Department, but c'mon, people, rig the vote and give us the War Chant. And then play "Temptation" because you can't have one without the other.
Seven Nation Army
Every sports venue now plays this. Ohio State fans got all excited when we piped it in. This was after their band had played the song like eight times already. I've come over: piped in music at the Big House when the Michigan Marching Band makes as much sense as having Creed playing from the loudspeakers during a Phish concert.
"Pryor Has Swine Flu"
Michigan is known for having really clever t-shirts, e.g. "Zoltan: Space Emperor (of Space)," "Charlie Weiss Tried to Eat Me," (suggestion: child-size t-shirt that says "Jim Tressel Tried to Touch Me.") But I don't get this: Swine Flu isn't funny. I had Swine Flu a couple of weeks ago. People die from Swine Flu. But that has nothing to do with this t-shirt. Because really, what does Pryor and Swine Flu have in common? Do people stay away from Pryor for fear of getting Pryor diseases or something? I don't get it. If there's something more interesting about this t-shirt than a 2nd grade non sequitur insult, please inform me.
Well, I’d hoped that we wouldn’t have to do the in-season awards for another month or so, but unfortunately the season is now over. I also considered waiting on this, just to give everyone time to get over the emotions of the season, but I figured doing this now might help everyone move on.
Here’s how the nominations are going to work. We’re going to use MGoPoints and comments. It’s the best way I could think of. Please submit nominations in a comment below. Users will vote for the nominations by upvoting the comment, or if they can’t vote then reply to the comment and agree with it. Please do not downvote any nominations, as that will skew the results.
I will leave this open for a few days, until the activity has obviously died down, then I will count the votes/positive responses to come up with 2-4 finalists for each category. Then the nominees will be listed so that everyone can vote on them.
As these are just nominations, feel free to vote for more than 1.
For nominations in categories that are post related, please link to the post being nominated.
Here are the categories:
Best Diary (Analysis)
Best Diary (Humorous)
Best Diary/Post (recurring)
Best Post (Analysis)
Best Post (Humorous and/or OT)
Best Poster (as in user providing the consistently best posts)
Best Commenter (user providing the consistently best comments)
Comeback Poster of the Year (someone who got neg-banged but has since redeemed himself)
Best Troll (Rival fan who posts quality comments)
Best Graphic Art (MS Paint, T-shirt mockups, photoshop work, etc)
Best divergent conversation (when the comments get way OT of the original post)
Best Use of Google to Find Stupid Movie Quote, GIF or Snark to respond to idiot post
Most Memorable Quote by Poster
UPDATE 11/24: Brian suggested on Monday's Unverified Voracity that we get a Paypal account so you can donate directly. We do accept $$$, but for legalese reasons we much prefer in-kind donations, i.e., buy a gift.
An easy way to do this:
Buy it from Amazon.com
(if you use the link above you will give Brian credit for it),
and have it shipped to:
Mitch Albom Christmas Party
c/o Salvation Army/Booth Services
Detroit, MI 48208
E-mail us the tracking info if you can.
Make sure it is unwrapped.
If you or your organization just want to give an online donation and be done with it, donate to S.A.Y. Detroit: https://drmm.org/donate1.htm
This qualify as a 501(c)3 organization for tax receipts.
It's Mitch's organization, which we can access directly for this event.
Also: Your best e-mail contact for any questions is to e-mail [email protected]. You will get Nancy Welber Barr, who was V.I.'s president, and is organizing the Booth Shelter Party (the one Mitch will be at). You can e-mail me, too, if you like.
Hi, I'm Misopogon.
This is not one such diary. Rather it is attempt to trade in my good will and MGoPoints, such as they are, for some srsly help with a community service project now and up to the morning of Saturday, Dec. 5.
What U Talkin Bout?
The event is called "Adopt-a-Shelter."
This is a community service thing that I do every year to bring some holiday cheer to homeless kids. It used to be a signature event of Volunteer Impact.
Mitch Albom's Time to Help organization runs one of the shelters. He will be there, operating as a kind of Master of Ceremonies. Misopogal will be there, operating as a kind of Master of the Arts&Crafts and Cookie Decoration operation. I will be there, operating as "oooohhhh are you [Misopogal]'s BOY-FRIEND?"
We basically go to several homeless shelters in Detroit and give the kids there a Christmas party, complete with Santa, face-painting, pizza and cake, activities, and -- here's the operative part -- gifts.
Ah, a Point Emerges...
The gifts are all donations from Not-Living-In-a-Homeless-Shelter Metro-Detroiters and businesses. They're small gifts -- like $15 things.
They are new and unwrapped
The way it works is the parents go "shopping" for their kids' gifts while we keep the tykes distracted with face painting, and pizza, and dancing, and a short, jolly, obese, bearded elf in a red suit.
You also can just donate like $15 bucks, and that'll go directly into the big Toys R Us run. If you wanna do that, get it in to Julie Kroflich (248) 478-5168 before Nov. 30.
What Kind of Gifts?
Well, first of all, things that are NOT guns, swords, violent comic books, etc. No perfume, cologne, body sprays or mouthwash, or anything else containing alcohol of any sort. No nail files or any other sharp items. Nothing with stickers.
Second, they have to be new, still in the packaging.
If you have any used strollers in good condition, they would be most welcome for the new moms who often don't have the resources to buy a stroller and must constantly hold their babies. Strollers are in addition to needing gifts to stock the "store."
Michigan apparel is totally cool. You will probably make some kid blue for life.
If you've got a gift, contact Julie Kroflich -- (248) 478-5168.
As for suggestions, this being MGoBlog and all, I think that might best be shown in a ..
|Infant/Toddler||Child (4-12 Years)||Teen||Parent|
|Sleepers||Sweat suits||Sweat suits||Sweat suits|
|$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes||$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes||Coats|
|Board games||Board games||$15 Gift certificates for Payless shoes|
|Stuffed animals||Radio walkman||Resume paper and envelopes|
|Activity books||Jewelry kits||Radio walkman|
Update 11/25: Age Spread of Current Residents:
I got numbers on the ages of the kids who will be at the shelter, so you can decide for yourself what target to hit:
So lots and lots of toddlers and infants. Very short on boys +10 (which sucks because we just got a lot of cool t-shirts). Teenage girl gifts are in short supply.
Okay, What Do I Do With It?
Contact Julie Kroflich -- (248) 478-5168.
OR -- you can bring it down yourself to the:
Booth Evangeline Shelter
Detroit, MI 48208
Walk in and say it's for the "Adopt-a-Shelter" party on Dec. 5.
Is That All?
We also could use stuff donations: This is like, say, if you own a pizza joint and can donate pizza for 200 people, or orange juice/donuts/bagels for 200 people. Or cream cheese.
One year we had a Saturn Dealership give us 50 empty popcorn boxes (don't ask), and they were awesome. Another year we had paper crowns from a certain restaurant chain that kids decorated. You know what schlock you got.
We have the forms if you want tax receipts for the donations.
Or if you're a videographer, and could record and edit to create like a 3-5 minute video. Chances are it would be put on Mitch's Albom's website.
Volunteers: The Genesis II House (the not Mitch Albom one) still needs like four more solid volunteers. The Booth Evangeline Shelter could use more still I think. I will update as I get more info.
The gifts are what we need most right now.
Happy Holidays, and Go Blue!
Well now that we got the nagging question of whether we'll play in Detroit, Tempe, San Antonio, or DC out of the way (damn freshman being freshman-y), let's look objectively, without sorrow at the BCS&Big Ten bowl pictures...
First the BCS
Well I think this weekend cleared a lot up. What we know:
1) Fla/Ala winner and Tex are in the nat'l championship game as long as Tex keeps winning. Even a loss by Fla or Ala before the SEC championship game really won't matter as much as the SEC championship game is now essentially a play-in game for the nat'l title slot as either the #1 or #2 seed.
2) Provided TCU keeps winning, 3 of the 4 at-large slots are locked up. Fla/Ala loser, TCU, and a 2nd Big Ten team between Iowa and Penn St. Big East is likely only going to get one team (except for a scenario I'll outline in a second) and that will be the winner of Pitt/Cincy.
3) If Texas slips, it will become a voter free-for-all as to who gets the #2 slot in the title game. Right now, while TCU is ahead of Cincy in the BCS standings and human polls, a big time showing by Cincy against Pitt may be enough to vault Cincy ahead of TCU in human polls and the computer margin narrows to the point where Cincy goes ahead. But I also believe that we are staring right down the barrel of a TCU in the nat'l title game with one Nebraska upset of Texas.
So with that here's the predictions (special citation to Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com whose interview on Rivals radio on Friday reinforced some of my ideas) Reminder, only the Top 14 in BCS standings are eligible for selection as an at-large, and only two teams from a conference can be selected:
BCS Nat'l Championship: Fla v. Texas
Rose: tOSU v. Oregon (all but locked in)
Fiesta: Ok St v. TCU
Sugar: Alabama v. Penn St
Orange: Ga Tech v. Cincy
So here's how the selections went for me:
- Fla beats Ala to get the title slot.
- Texas beats Neb to get the title slot.
- Rose gets Big Ten Champ (tOSU) & Pac-10 champ (assumed Oregon, but could be Oregon St if they win next week); Orange gets ACC champ (Ga Tech)
- Sugar gets first at-large selection to replace Florida and they take slam dunk Alabama
- Fiesta gets next selection to replace Texas. While they could take TCU, I think they'll actually take a 2-loss Big 12 Ok St
- Now we go to the actual "at-large order", and this year its Orange, Fiesta, Sugar. Orange gets first pick and they take undefeated Cincinnati out of the Big East
- Fiesta is next, and they get either TCU (who has to be picked) or an attractive 2nd Big Ten team. I'm going to guess this time they'll take TCU who being from nearer Texas and the populous Dallas/FtWorth area will be a better travel option.
- Sugar gets the remainder, and they take Penn St for a salavating Alabama v. JoePa matchup that will be the 2nd best TV game of the BCS series. Sorry Iowa, but PennSt travels better and has better cache in terms of TV ratings.
- Pitt with an upset of Cincy will get the Big East bid, but a loss probably means they knock themselves out of an at large bid unless both TCU and Boise lose, making a potential Fiesta Bowl of Pitt and Penn St a possibility
- A Texas loss will throw the whole system into chaos. Neb would get the Fiesta Bowl bid leaving Texas as an at-large selection to the Sugar or Orange. My guess would be that the Orange would prefer Tex over Cincy/TCU leftover (whoever doesn't get the title game birth), but the Sugar would love them some Alabama-Texas action. That would mean then that Ok St wuld get knocked out BCS contention (2-team conference rule) leaving Penn St to glide into either Fiesta against Neb or Orange against Ga Tech.
- Clemson is still alive but they have to beat Ga Tech, and in that case, just swap out GT with Clemson in the predictions.
So with that settled, let's go to the Big Ten.
It's pretty much settled that the Big Ten will get a 2nd BCS team this year (either Penn St or Iowa-- my money's on Penn St as a better TV draw and hence more attractive). Big Ten also only has 7 teams bowl eligible, and with 2 BCS teams, will be left out of one bowl game.
Hence, the predictions:
BCS At-LArge: Penn St
Capitol One Bowl (BT2): Iowa
Outback (BT3): Wisconsin
ChampsSports (BT4): Northwestern
Alamo (BT5): Mich St
Insight (BT6): Minnesota
Pizza Pizza (BT7): no qualifiers
About the only shenanigans here would be the Alamo&Insight swapping teams and really it's not going to make much of a difference. Not too much controversy either... NW / Wiscy is a pick 'em from resume standpoints, but Wiscy travels much much better so the Outback is an easy pick for them.
The biggest intrigue for Big Ten bowls, is actually regarding a non-Big 10 team. A 6-6 ND would get shut out of all their bowl tie-ins leaving them to search for a bowl game. The open games in terms of conferences not having enough teams to fill slots are:
- Pizza Pizza Bowl (BT, Detroit)
- Eagle Bank Bowl (ACC, Wash DC)
- Humanitarian Bowl (MWC, Boise)
- GMAC (ACC, Mobile)
Humanitarian Bowl probably is going to want a Western team just for travel reasons (6-6 Kansas if they win this weekend?), and barring that are going to have to fight tooth/nail for another Eastern time zone team to come out that way (hello MAC!). GMAC may be out if Duke beats Wake Forest and qualifies at 6-6 (this may be sketchy-- would a 6 win team with a conference tie-in get in over a 7-win at-large team? I don't know the rules on that). Pizza Pizza and Eagle Bank seem to be the likely choices for a 6-6 ND. The wrinkle is that a 6-win team can't go if there are 7 win teams available, so according to Mandel at si.com (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/stewart_mandel/11/23/bowl.projections/index.html) , Mid Tenn St and No Ill have seven, a Bowl Green win would get them to 7 wins, and if a third Sun Belt team qualifies (LA-Lafayette or LA-Monroe) with 7-wins, ND may not go bowling AT ALL.
Wow, what would be worse, us not going bowling after a 4-0 start roster limitations noted, or 5-Star Charlie's OMG AWESOME recruiting classes not going bowling at all in year 5??