To make things interesting I decided to post it on here. Its not the greatest poem ever written, so feel free to add any comments you might think of to help me improve it.
On a sunny winter day in Michigan
My team ran under a banner that read Go Blue
Hoping desperately for a win
And deeply enraged by that terrible scarlet hue
And then Mr Sweater Vest took the field
With his quarterback who thinks everyone murders and steals
Claiming that his team would never yield
With the traitor linemen who eats pizza at all five meals
And on some players final Senior Day
Tate and Vincent made a good read
And Graham and the D came to play
But the enemy still took the lead
In the end the Wolverines did not defeat their foe,
But hey, at least they don't have to live in Columbus O-H-I-O
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this, and Go Blue!
That's a pretty good record of good play from All-American kids that didn't end up transferring/quitting or pulling a Benedict Arnold. An especially big haul (9 contributers)in 2003 and 2004 probably directly contributed to the stellar 2006 season.
I'm hoping all the 2009 talent (10 All-Americans) will emerge en force in the 2011 season and we will see an 11-0 spread 'n' shred edition of the Maize&Blue destroy the Buckeyes the next time they come to Ann Arbor...maybe on the way to a National Championship.
AUGUSTA, Ga. – ESPN and The Augusta Sports Council announced today (Monday, Nov. 23) that University of Michigan fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) is one of three finalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter. Mesko is joined as a finalist by Georgia’s Drew Butler and Florida’s Chaz Henry.
Mesko is the second Wolverine to be named a finalist for the award. Hayden Epstein was a finalist during the award’s inaugural season (2000). Mesko was a semifinalist last season. He looks to become the fourth punter in Big Ten history to win the award, joining Wisconsin’s Kevin Stemke (2000), Purdue’s Travis Dorsch (2001) and Ohio State’s B.J. Sanders (2003).
A preseason first-team All-American, Mesko is sixth nationally in punting with a U-M season record 44.5-yard average. He has helped the Wolverines list second nationally in net punting with a 40.9-yard average. Mesko has been extremely proficient in all phases, with 17 punts over 50 yards, 18 fair caught, three touchbacks and 15 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. He has punted 52 times for 2,312 yards, including a 66-yard season-long punt against Western Michigan.
Mesko has already been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy. He was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation, and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors after being selected CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team earlier this month.
The 10th annual award will be announced live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 10. The 2009 winner of the Ray Guy Award will be honored at a banquet by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle in late January 2010.
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.