this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The not-quite-GED-qualifying-because-the-world-needs-ditch-diggers-too-Danny fan base is up in arms down there, if a bit in disagreement, over one or more of the following: 1) Jim Tressel is the biggest loser to ever be associated with the Scarlett and Gray, 2) JT had better get himself a "real" Offensive Coordinator, (aren't all coaches employed by Ohio State "offensive", by definition?) because "college football has passed him by" and, perhaps most venomously, 3) Tyrelle Pryor will never - EVER - be a "real, big time, QB."
Here's my take on Tressel, Pryor and Saturday's game plan against USC, (since I have a hole in my ass, and its pointed at the ground, I'm entitled to my opinion, too): if it could have been possible for both teams to lose, that's what I would have rooted for. Admit it: you feel the same way. I could be all magnanimous and believe that, "I root for OSU when they're not playing Michigan because they're in the Big 10, too, and it counts."
Bullshit. I come from "Old School" Wolverine Football loving tradition: "I have two favorite teams: Michigan, and whomever is playing Ohio State."
I have to admit, though, I do have respect for Tressel. The man has had UM's number for the better part of a decade. He's not the most imaginative play-caller, mind you, but he's not about "three yards and a cloud of dust", either. He's won a BCSNC, and had won consecutive NC's at Youngstown State prior to his move to Columbus.
So, the limited imagination shown in Saturday's Xs and Os, and the week earlier against Navy, really had me scratching my head. The Buckeyes "D" made USC's offense look ordinary (and even less) for 95% of the game -- and that was with a bevy of new starters. But the OSU offense was beyond offensive.
Then, it hit me: it's Pryor. Lots of folks have commented about how he has got problems with his nerves. I think there's more to it. If it were all about nerves, Tressel would be designing plays that take advantage of his freakish physical abilities and what he does most naturally. Except for a couple of designed runs and roll-outs, though, the offense is plain jane.
I think the limitation is in his gray matter. He's been the starter for nearly a year already, over two seasons. Yet, he's still making simple mistakes, (a delay of game penalty ... IN THE TWO MINUTE DRILL?!? WTF???) Plays are taking to long to develop, he's getting rattled, he's not progressing through his keys and missing the coverages and open man. He may yet progress, a la Vince Young. But right now, he's singing that Zeppelin tune, "Dazed and Confused".
Which brings me back to the Word of the Day, (I'm glad you hung in there with me). In the play "Avenue Q", a character named Gary sings the song, "Schadenfreude". The opening lines are:
Right now you are down and out
And feelin' really crappy.
And when I see how said you are,
It sorta makes me happy.
Ahhhh, better already.
I wanted to find a picture perfect example of that play from our last game, but I didn't have the time, unfortunately (I'm not that quick at this video/picture stuff!). Instead, I'll post some pictures of Koger's TD catch, which shows the basic principles that SmartFootball discussed today, but also accentuates some great play by Tate and Koger.
So, here we are in our new shotgun ace base set with Koger lined up at H-Back, rather than as a TE:
As you can see, ND is either in a 4-3, or a nickle 4-2. I can't tell if the third LB over Koger is indeed a LB, or a Saftey. Doesn't really matter, anyways.
You also see a Safety walking into the box, for a total of 8 defenders in the box. (For clarification, I'm referring to the player on the "I" in "MICHIGAN" in the end zone)
Next, we see Tate receive the snap and read the backside. ND is running a variation of the scrape - so far, we usually have heard about the DE crashing the RB and the LB coming for the QB. Here, ND actually crashes the backside LB, and the DE is coming straight down the line looking for Tate.
Tate makes the read and decides to keep it. [EDIT - GSimmons suggests below that this is merely a play action, and not a read, which basically answers my own question that I possed at the end of this post] Also, notice that Koger is coming back against the grain - all the OL are blocking to their right, and Koger comes out to his left.
The unfortunate thing for this particular play is that the Safety walked into the box, as shown earlier. ND could afford to do that, since they're already back up against the end zone and Tate can't exactly go deep.
As a result, that Safety can (theoretically) easily pick up Koger, as seen below.
However, the Safety freezes and Koger blows past him. Tate has to wait an instance for the throwing lane to open, but he delivers a strike to Koger.
End result = Touchdown.
A remark about the play: This was a great play on both sides. First, ND had the safety in the perfect position. Normally I'd expect that Safety to be deep and Koger to be wide open. Second, the ND LB/DE did a great job of getting after Tate. One of them was responsible for crashing C. Brown (IMO that'd be the LB) but they both hauled ass and would have sacked 80% of all QBs. Third, Tate made a HECK of a throw. I have no idea how he managed to see between those two defenders. Finally, great route by Koger to get away from the Safety.
I have a question about the initial play call, however. Somehow running the zone read into the short side, with 8 in the box seems like an odd call. I wonder if Tate had any intention of handing it off to Carlos. Instead, I suspect this play was a roll-out from the get go, with the hand off used to keep the back side pursuit at bay.
This might have been a good situation to call for a fade instead, if RichRod thinks he has a good match up on the ouside.
Many of us have attended games at the Big House for so long and so often, we probably now take it for granted. Since I live out of state I feel tickets for a few games on this years schedule (EMU, Delaware State) will be difficult to sell since our opponent is not of major interest and there will be a lot of tickets available.
Remember when you first went to the Big House as a kid? It was like no other athletic event you ever attended. Pregame meals as a kid for myself were spent at the Pretzel Bell with my dad and brother and then we would get over to the stadium to hear the band and watch the team run under the banner.
I am sure there are a lot of kids in the Ann Arbor area who have never attended a Michigan game at the Big House and this year I wanted to amend that for at least one young man. As a result I have donated my tickets to the Delaware State game to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Washtenaw County (734-975-0933). I am sure there are many other organizations where a ticket donation can be made to provide someone a little less fortunate with a memorable afternoon at the Big House.
If you have tickets this year that you cannot use or sell, consider donating them to someone in need. If you do, you will be the conquering hero.
Thanks and Go Blue!
Jay Riemersma launches official campaign for HouseWhat is an interesting twist, however, is what is included in his emailthatireceivedidunnohowboopolitics:
By PEG MCNICHOL
The Holland Sentinel
Last update Sep 14, 2009 @ 10:13 AM
Holland, MI - Former pro-football player Jay Riemersma wants U.S. Rep Pete Hoekstra's Washington, D.C., job.
He chose a downtown Holland street corner to announce his plans Monday morning, kicking off a day-long stumping effort in West Michigan.
Hoekstra's 2nd Congressional District job has drawn the interest of several hopefuls, including state Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland; former state representative Bill Huizinga of Zeeland, and Bill Cooper, a Spring Lake businessman.
Riemersma played for the Buffalo Bills and now works for the Family Research Council. He said he will fight against abortion, taxes and big government.
In his announcement Monday, Riemersma all but said "game on" while criticizing Kuipers and Huizinga for their affirmative votes for the Michigan Business Tax.
He promised to sign Americans for Tax Reform pledge Monday afternoon and told the crowd of nearly 100 gathered before him at the corner of Eighth Street and Central in Holland "I will never vote to raise your taxes."
There are a couple of additional important events this week for the campaign. Former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr is visiting the district to campaign for me this Thursday in Holland and Grand Haven. I hope you can make it to one of these important events!Interesting to see Carr throwing in his hat for a former player. Disagree or Agree with the candidate's politics, it's a 'woot' to see another football player trying to follow in the footsteps of All-American Gerald R. Ford and make a place in Washington.
Oh and this quotable from a GR Press article I found while Googling Riemersma made me elohel
"The last thing we need right now is legislative experience," said Riemersma, 36.We beat Notre Dame. Woot.
My wife and I made a planes, trains, and automobile-like trek from Minneapolis (I know, I know, my handle is DCBlue, but we just moved to Minneapolis 5 months ago and I don't want a new, geographicly-correct handle) to Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game. It was pretty horrific, travel-wise. We caught a 10:00 a.m. flight to Chicago, rented an SUV, drove to Oak Park to pick up our tailgating stuff from the couple who we share our 4 season tickets with, and drove to Ann Arbor. Worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.
Some observations from Ann Arbor and the game:
1. It kind of surprises me, but it's easier to get into a decent restaraunt on Saturday night after the game, rather than the Friday before. There was a wait of 1 to 1.5 hours at all the places on Main Street on Friday night (we ended up heading to Red Hawk and got in immediately). On Saturday night, we went to Real Seafood and only had to wait about 10 minutes. Must be that everyone wants to wait in traffic. FWIW, my advice is to consider going out to eat and then getting out of town, if you have time.
2. I've been going to games since the late 80's as a teenager, and have had season tickets for over 15 years. The Notre Dame game ranks up there as one of the biggest emotional roller coasters I've ever seen in person. Not as consistently euphoric as the 1995 Biakabatuka game, as it was clear in 1995 from the beginning that Michigan was going to roll Ohio State. Not as much expectations as the 1997 Ohio State game with a shot at the MNC on the line. Penn State 2005 comes close, but I just didn't think that was as good of game. It ranks right up there on my personal list of best memories at the Stadium.
3. I'm previously on record HATING the idea of RAWK music. That being said, if it is inevitable then there must be a little more thought put into the actual execution of the play list. I mean, sweet Jesus, how hard is it to make sure the actual upbeat parts of the songs are played at the appropriate moments? There were a couple of times where the music started way to late and had to be cut out as the play started. Hint: If the song has an intro that the crowd must wait for before responding, don't use it. I also tend to agree with my wife that the Black Eyed Peas' Tonight's Gonna Be a Good nite would be a nice addition to the play list. Even as a traditionalist, and as much as I hate to admit it, the crowd responded to the music.
4. Not to sound like Charlie Weiss, but from my view in Section 6 (site of the Mathews catch, thank you) it was obvious that Brandon Graham was getting absolutely smothered in holds. I think the pic of the ND lineman covering his entire face says it all. As I recall, nothing was called on that played and ND connected on a first down pass play. I realize holding could probably be called on most plays, but some of the shit that was going on with Graham was borderline felonious.
5. The Stadium was loud. Not sure I'd classify it as "Oh my God, this place is so much louder" but it was noisy. Section 6 is largely a sit on your hands type of section, but I was proud of some of the Blue Hairs who actually were standing and yelling.
6. With #5 being said, I wanted to punch the 50-ish guy behind me who started yelling "down in front" at halftime so he could get a better sightline to watch the band. I refused, and told him, "It's halftime, dude, you can stand." I wanted to tell him that we should have been standing for the entire time.
7. Our seats are right in front of a handicapped seating area in Section 6, making it very unpopular when we stand up. You can maintain a good sightline to the field, even when the rest of the lower section 6 is standing below the reserved handicap area. This bums me out, actually. I'd much rather be standing. That being said, I can only hope that when I'm in my 90's, I at least have the option of being there in a wheelchair, like the guy I spoke with who was wearing an M hat backwards. Looked better than Tony Romo.
8. Most of the crowd stayed and cheered after the game until the team left the student section area and headed to the tunnel. It also got REALLY loud in the concourses after the game, with Go Blue and It's Great to Be A Michigan Wolverine. Good stuff.
9. Boubakar had a really rough day. You know it's rough when you're bailing out immediatley and the receiver's are still getting behind you. All that being said, he still was an aggressive tackler. I wish he would have held onto the pick he dropped (and likely would have scored on). I may be crazy, but I think he'll bounce back. The ND recievers were nightmarishly good.
10. Chad Henne may be a robot, but I'm not sure Tate Forcier is human, either. It's a quality I admire in Michigan quarterbacks.
Watching the program getting slapped around on the field last year cut me to the core and listening to the slapping around going in the media this year has been salt in that cut so I can't think of anything more gratifying than a big win over a big (and ranked rival) in a back and forth game to start to heal that cut.
Far more personally, I heard about the Phil Brabbs thing earlier that day from one of his former teammates. Cancer holds a nasty place in my soul as its taken a bunch of my family members and threatened to take my sister nine years ago when she was a sophomore at Michigan. College kids aren't supposed to worry about that kind of thing and that cut is still very fresh in my head too. Although I don't know Phil Brabbs I felt inspired to post this after reading Brian's comment about Phil Brabb's diagnosis when he mentioned "Vada Murray is horrible enough. Brabbs is younger than I am."
Most of us think about cancer as something that primarily effects people when they're older or after they've been smoking a pack a day for 20 years but I can tell you from having had to sit with my sister in the UofM Comp. Cancer Center and meeting some of the people receiving chemo around her, everyone is at risk. Sure there are things people do to increase their risk, but cancer doesn't discriminate and there were more than enough babies, young kids, and surprisingly enough, plenty of high school and college age kids in there as well. This is a point that Phil, Vada, my sister and many others know all too well. All of those are the reason I helped start the Bernard "Pat" Maloy Scholarship at Michigan to help Michigan undergrads who already had to battle through cancer or who had to deal with a family member fighting off cancer (I apologize for being annoying but once again, if you wish to help out we're holding our online auction of Michigan sports memorabilia at http://www.umich.cmarket.com and we would certainly appreciate your support and you get something cool to put on the wall in the man-room as well). Vada is only slightly older than me with kids who are just older than mine. Vada met up with me this summer to sign items for the the Maloy Scholarship Auction and described how he woke up one morning sore with what he thought was a pull in his side from working out. When he rubbed his hand over it he felt a bump, went to his doctor and was sent forward for a CatScan which revealed his tumor. Even a former professional athlete is susceptible to cancer. Can't imagine. Can't even think of how I would break that one to my kids if I was in Vada's shoes. I should add that Vada is doing VERY well. Way ahead of where patients with his diagnosis typically are at this stage.
So anyway, we get bombarded with messages of this fundraiser and that charity. No one is more worthy than any other. Just don't make the mistake of filing them all in the mental spam-box. Find one that's relevant to you and get off your rear and do something to pitch a hand in. It doesn't even have to be financial. Go donate blood or bone marrow. But the need is great, even in the University community.
On a more personal and much more self-indulgent tangent, the last thought I had when a tear started to well in the corner of my right eye, was the fact that I was present to see it. See, I had to leave the 3OT Michigan/MSU game a few years back because I had organized a charity Halloween event and had to get to it. For the same reason I missed the entire 2005 Michigan vs. Penn State game. Finally, I took my then 3 year old daughter to last year's Michigan vs. Wisconsin game and had to leave after the third quarter because she couldn't sit still any longer. So finally, FINALLY I got to see a classic game with a classic outcome to its conclusion in Michigan Stadium.
Somewhat of a disjointed posting I know. Guess it stands for two points. (1) Amazing what winning a big football game can do for the spirit (2) We're all capable of helping out with something in life to make it better for someone who is suffering. We all know someone whether in person or one of our former football heroes. Now go out and do something about it.