Mike Lantry, 1972
I'm an alum ('82' Engineering) living near Lancaster PA, and traveled to State College for the game Saturday. After the witnessing the predictable 2nd half debacle, we met back at the car for some post game tailgating. I was surprised to learn from my PSU loving friends that the Michigan bench players were taunting the PSU fans during the surprising first surge. If anyone else witnessed this, I would like to hear from you. I would hope the players would have had the sense to avoid smack talking given the season it has been, in all its glory, and UM coaches would put a stop to behavior not becoming a Michigan player.
In any event, Saturday was a great time, even in defeat (although the 35 degree temp in the morning was a little chiller than expected). State College is a great place to go for a game, especially the tailgating atmosphere, and the PSU fans are friendly hosts. They even didn't get too pissed when I donned my "Who's Your Daddy" yellow T-shirt, with the scores of the last 9 games posted proudly on the back. I am not sure I would dare to display a shirt like that in Columbus for fear of being flogged by the classy OSU fans.
Since I’m locked in a protracted game of scrabble thought I’d bore you with my thoughts in between turns. Any post I make this year should be prefaced with the fact that Brian Kelly was my first choice and Les my second. My formerly jaded POV should be considered with that in mind (btw I support RR but also don't think it's wrong to have some doubts). With that out of the way…
- We’re exciting again. Not to be confused with train wreck exciting either. The last time I remember being so excited about watching UM football was the Drew Henson days. When Lloyd was coach I would often say I’d trade a win or two for a new coach that brought excitement to the Big House. Well it’s here and I can honestly say that my POV hasn’t changed. Even Kasparov would be hard-pressed to predict our play-calling this year.
- Quotes like these following the PSU game:
"I'm not discouraged," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I'm going to keep fighting."
"I had fun out there," linebacker John Thompson said.
"We'll get it done," lineman David Moosman said.
- RR is looking more and more like our mascot. He’s deceptively witty, belligerent and ferocious just like a Wolverine. This bodes well for us. All great coaches bear a resemblance to their school mascot. Every single one of them. Take for example Coach K – a very successful little blue devil. John Chaney, the wise old Temple Owl was no slouch in his day either. Just to name a few. This development might even outweigh the Addidas curse as far as irrelevant superstitions go.
- Looks like our meeting with Sparty is coinciding nicely with their annual death spiral.
- Brandon Minor finally getting carries and teasing us with what might have been.
- Nick Sheridan getting snaps again and teasing us with what might have been.
- Sam McGuffie fumbling on the kick off return. Fumblitis on this scale is mental and probably has little to do with mechanics. What has our ball carriers freaked out? Let’s hope it’s not the image of RR looking like he’s going to explode if they make a mistake. RR’s scowl is here to stay, let’s hope the fumbles are not.
- Terrelle Pryor coming of age.
- The Lions and today's comeback bid. I mean, if you’re gonna end up 0-16 might as well do it in grand fashion right? Relative nail biters like this just won’t do.
- N. Illinois beating Toledo 38-7. So I guess N. Illinois must be feeling as good as Wofford and Georgia Southern did last year when they upended Appy State following the original photo opp at the Big House. Since a wiki entry does not exist for the Toledo debacle (like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Appalachian_State_vs._Michigan_football_game) can we assume the Appy St loss was more monumental?
- This quote:
"It was obviously not a very good game today," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "Inability to tackle, turnovers, and we lost a very good opportunity to make an impact on this country."
Thank heaven we don’t have a coach who would say something like this. Les might have said something like this. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.
The Michigan team we saw in yesterday’s Penn State game characterizes the entire 2008 Michigan season into 60 minutes. Michigan played like “world-beaters” through the first 17 minutes of the game, sputtered on the ensuing first half drives, and allowed an “oh by-the way” score at the end of the half that lead to the landslide victory for the Nittany Lions by giving up 32 points in the second half and being held scoreless. Even as I sat at half with a 3 point Michigan lead, I was still very anxious and uneasy. I felt that if the slightest thing goes wrong in the second half of the game this could quickly go to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hurry. I didn’t expect that we would win the game. However, with the way that we played in the first half it is just difficult to understand why there is such a disparity between the first quarter’s Michigan offense and that of the rest of the game. This is most definitely due in large part to our inexperienced young players and their inconsistency but it also has to be attributed to teams’ adjusting to our offensive scheme. In the Utah, Illinois, Miami (OH), and Penn State games the offense looked very proficient early and after adjustments were made we were unable to establish anything in the form of offense for the most part. What is the reason for this disparity? Are teams’ adjustments so devastating to whatwe are trying to do that we are completely stifled? In all my years of watching football, I have never seen a team look so efficient like they can beat any team in the country and the next minute look incapable of gaining a yard or tackling anyone.
However, I felt encouraged by the effort that the boys gave in the first half and it seems as though some issues may have been solved this week in practice and progress is being made. In particular, it looks as though Brandon Minor will be seeing more time for the remainder of the season and deservedly so. Sam and Brandon being complements of each other will be a joy to watch in the future.
Remember. We are still Michigan. These are still Michigan men. There has never been a period in Michigan football history in which the saying “Those who stay will be champions,” applies so well. Go Blue.
It's Sunday morning, and I'm well rested after getting home from yesterday's game in almost record time. As I may have alluded to before, I'm a Michigan man in Pennsylvania, and live only about two hours from, well, yesterday.
Yesterday was very strange, in that it was almost like two separate experiences, one a polar opposite of the other. It was like my Saturday was split into two hemispheres of good and evil.
I awoke at was on the road yesterday morning by 9 am, taking in the unmatched beauty of the Pennsylvania countryside in mid-October. I've seen Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and even New York's foliage, but I truly think nothing compares to the fall leaves of the Keystone state, and this week is pretty much prime.
So I get to State College well before noon and it was fantastic. Meeting with friends, all PSU diehards, we first hit the downtown scene before heading out to the tailgate. The air was cold but the sun was bright and warm on your face, and even the UM gear I was wearing didn't seem to ruffle many feathers. And for those that did, a quick 'good luck' was all I gave them back, except for one really rude frat boy who I then got to admit he was 11 years old the last time PSU won against us. That was fun.
So the afternoon's just a great, GREAT gameday experience, and yet I'm still a little frantic because I still don't have a ticket. So we make our way closer to Beaver Stadium and I start waving a finger-- several 'entrepeneurs' find me quickly, and upon eyeing the UM hoody, offer me prices to the tune of $150, $180, etc. Nice. So I borrow a PSU shirt and the prices are immediately down to $100, $110. But still I'm looking for something better. And then, out of nowhere, I see three maize-n-blue clad wise men hanging out on the corner across from the Bryce Jordan Center. Turns out they took a bus trip over from AA and have an extra ticket. Even though I'm still wearing the 'State' shirt, they offer it to me AT FACE!! I immediately rip off the shirt and give the guy a Yuengling Lager-- in fact after the transaction we end up talking UM shop for about 20 minutes. I even brought up MGoBlog. So if any of you three are reading, THANK YOU so much!! You literally made my afternoon.
With that being said, fast forward to gametime, and I make my way to my seat. After fully expecting to find a seat somewhere deep in the middle of the "WhiteOut" surrounded by Nit fans, there I am shoulder to shoulder with fellow Michigan Men. Together we stand and watch pensively as our boys funnel out of the tunnel. Life is good.
The game begins... and we can't ask for a better beginning. Bad snaps for PSU, and a fumble. Threet running, for consistent POSITIVE yardage. Minor's playing like a madman, and Stonum's holding onto the ball. Even the defense seems to be enjoying themselves out there. WHO ARE THESE GUYS???
Before we know what hit us, it's the 2nd quarter and we're up by 10??? And you can feel the fear hanging over the stadium like a big fiery Hindenberg. The "GO! BLUE!' chant from our visiting section seems to be hacking into the surrounding sections like a machete into the jungle. And the boys are MAKING US PROUD. By halftime Penn State surges against us, and squeaks in a score. But at the half, instead of down by 23.5, we're up by 3. My day, at this point, is STELLAR. I remember asking to the new best friend next to me, 'which team is going to show up for the 2nd?' But still, we're very impressed and proud of the team... and my day at this point could never have been better.
So then, what happened?? Well, about ten minutes later, you ALL KNOW what happened.
DEEP DEEP DEEP in enemy territory, just below the crater of white-clad drunken Paternoville students, Nick Sheridan strides onto the field.
And the clock struck midnight, and our carriage turned into a pumpkin. It was night and day, and every single soul in that stadium knew it. 39 unanswered points. By the time 110,000 happy people in Happy Valley started singing "Living on a Prayer," I remember thinking that this was a totally different Saturday than the one that started out from my warm bed.
Long story short-- it was very clear to me that the team has no confidence in Sheridan. The line seemed confused, Odoms doesn't know where the ball is going, Stonum's glue-like hands can't catch a thing, and-- last but not least-- there is NO ROOM for Minor, McGuffie, or anyone to run because there's absolutely NO passing threat.
I'm sure there's more to say-- but from where I was sitting-- Sheridan is like the grim reaper for our team. When he shows up, BAD, bad things are going to happen. But, still, for 30 minutes I saw what our boys are capable of, and it gives me hope. We'll be back.
As long as the #8 becomes firmly connected with a headset. Sorry Nick.
Unfortunately I just had to endure something painful, however, this is a new unrecogonizable pain. My pain comes from hearing fellow "followers", fellow "wolverines", fellow, and I use this lightly, "FANS". I was recently at a NYC UM bar and heard nothing but disdain for the UM program. Nothing but hatred for the hiring of RR. I've come to the conclusion that there are two types of people following UM football right now:
This is only from a couple quarters of the Purdue game and what I remember from Illinois. Didn't get a chance to watch that much this week.
- They will run out of a lot of different formations. They run the power I, regular I form with double tights, and some spread formations. They also like a tight bunch formation which allows them to motion Derrick Williams into the back field. Out of the power I, they like to run some inside zone lead which was very effective against Purdue. They also like to run some play-action out of that formation. Out of their spread formations, they will run some zone read option, QB draws, and will throw the ball.
- The offensive line looks pretty good. Purdue had some success slanting on them. They were able to get some penetration on run plays. However, the o-line looks like a good combination of Wisconsin and Illinois. They are as athletic as Illinois, and are looking to bury people like Wisconsin. This area will be a real challenge.
- Darryl Clark is pretty good. He can run and throw, and is tough to bring down. However, he does lose some accuracy when getting pressured and is forced to stay inside the pocket. We really need to get after him and hit him all day.
- Royster is a also very good. He is big and fast and does not usually go down after first contact. We have to be fundamentally sound in our tackling on Royster. This worries me as we have not been a great tackling team all year.
- As for the receivers, they are trying to get the ball to Derrick Williams. If he is lined up as the tailback, he is getting the ball. However, they also like to line him up as the third back in the power I and use him as a lead blocker. From the tight bunch formation, they like to motion him into the back field and fake an end around and run a dive, or hand the ball off to thim. They like to run some three step, and off their play actions, they like to flood one side of the field. Against Illinois, they ran a play action with williams and sent Williams down the sideline for a big play. We have to know where Williams is every play, and if we can, hit him right off the line of scrimmage. He is very difficult to cover one on one. If we can disrupt some of their routes by being physical off the line, and get pressure on Clark, we can slow down their passing game.
- They base out of a 4-3 and run a 4-2 nickel against spread formations. They start out of a two shell, and rarely leave a receiver uncovered. They blitz a fair amount, but not every down. When they do blitz, they like to bring their outside linebacker through C gap and bring down the opposite safety playing man or 3 behind the blitz. In the Purdue game, they ran Cover 4 vs. trips. They may run this coverage against us to help on the run and short passes. This can be beat by running a post by the #1 receiver and getting behind the safety. It could be a big play if we run it and hit it.
- The D-line is pretty good. The DE's like to get upfield. Purdue was able to just ride them out of some of their zone running plays. They DT's do not get driven back easily and stand up well to double teams. This is going to be a very difficult match up for our o-line.
- The linebackers are very good against the run. #43 Josh Hall? finds the ball quickly and tackles well. Purdue was only successful running the ball when they got a lineman on this guy at the second level. We have not been good at doing that this year, so this is not a good matchup for us. However, the linebackers are not great in their zone drops. They bite hard on play action and do not find receivers in their zones well. Purdue was able to move the ball with short option routes where the reciever just sits in between linebackers. They hit these quick for 6-7 yard gains. If Purdue could have put some points on the board, that game could have been interesting. Unfortunately, we have not executed these types of routes very well this year.
- The secondary is also pretty good. They didn't seem to run a lot of man coveage, but were able to stay with Pudue's receivers pretty well when they did. Purdue's tight end was able to run by #7 Scirrato on one play, so a big play down the seam may there. They looked good in coverage, but none of them looked like great tacklers. They came up on some of Pudue's short passes out of control, and one little side step sent the DB running by the guy. Our recievers are going to have to break some tackles and get yards after contact to move the chains.
Purdue was able to keep that game close by holding ball and getting first downs on short routes between linebackers. If they hit on a couple missed field goals, that game is more interesting in the second half. If we can get first downs consistently on offense and hold the ball, then we can keep ourselves in it. Unfortunately, we have not consistently done this all year. Our D-line can match up with their O-line, but can our LB's make plays behind them? Our O-line does not match up well against their D-line and line backers so can we hit some three step passes and break some tackles? If we can do those things, I think we can stay in the game. Hopefully, it doesn't get ugly.