at least it's not just us?
Likely the absolute key to this game, will be our defensive performance on Saturday. I think many have noticed that our defensive performances against power run squads has diminished over the last several years. While I'm not advocating a return of Jim Herrmann as our DC, we must all agree, that against these kinds of teams, Herrmann was very good.
Wisconsin happens to be one of the better power run offenses in the nation these days. Huge OLs, tiny Oline splits and 220-250 backs. They will line up and attempt to smash us in the face on Saturday...no mystery here. As GSimmons and others have documented, Michigan's performance in the ND game against similar schemes left alot to be desired. LBs were slow to fill, or adequately take on lead blocks..often giving up the wrong gap and failing to funnell ball carriers into help. Fundamental stuff against ISO and the power run game. In addition, our DLine doesn't always hold up well against the doulbe teams that often occur with these schemes, allowing OLs to push the LOS and effectively "seal off" LBs from flowing to the ball.
It's essential that WHOMEVER plays at LB this week get the fundamental stuff right. Personally, I'm hoping the staff starts the three best LBs against the run this week, and think it's possible we see Panter more and Mouton less. Mouton will be effective in passing downs against Beckum, but he's not the run supporter that Panter is IMHO. I noticed Johnny Thompson tends to "run around" the ISO lead block in lieu of taking it on and stuffing the lead blocker. All well and good if you can make the play, but Thompson gave up several runs against the Domers this way. Against an offense like this, your LBs have to play unselfishly(unless they are able to take on the block AND make the tackle) and funnell the ball carrier into help.
The make up of the defensive line will be just as interesting. I expect to see more Renaldo Sagesse and less of Will Johnson. Sagesse has the size to hold up to double teams and not be moved off the LOS. Johnson, while very strong, is a good bit lighter and has trouble here, especially when he's tired. Will there be a Jason Kates sighting this week? If we don't see him now, we're likely to never see him. He has the perfect build to hold up inside....6'3" and 320 pounds. He'll be needed, but will he play.
All things considered, it's the front seven that will decide this game. If they can stop the running attack and allow the safeties to play a more passive role, we'll likely keep Wisconsin bottled up fairly well. If the safeties have to get involved, then Beckum becomes more and more dangerous and big plays more likely. Wisconsin's passing game looks average to slightly below average. Evridge isn't particularly accurate. The wideouts look meh to me.
My prediction...we don't get it altogether against Wisky and they have some fun. Hill runs for 95 and the Badgers score around 21 points.
If M Played West Virginia on Saturday
Note – Since Michigan had a bye and West Virginia lost to Colorado on Thursday night, I thought I’d do a running diary for an imaginary game against the two on Saturday with M playing the part of Colorado. M hosts so I don’t have to make up an entry on how the coaching staff was “shot up like a varmint!”
3:25 – We’re here LIVE! at the Wolvrine32 entertainment industrial complex. Diet coke is in place, hastily made shrine to Stephen Threet is in place, the cat is curiously absent. I’m wearing a #3 jersey, which used to be Marlin Jackson when originally purchased, was Kevin Grady for a brief time, and is now Stevie Brown. Hmmm, the Diet Coke is tasting a little flatter after typing that.
3:31 – Did you know that Rich Rodriguez came to coach here from West Virginia? No way! I only needed ABC to tell me that 5 billion times before it sunk in. On a lighter note, the pan shot of the visiting West Virginia crowd had three Rich Rodriguez dolls hanging in effigy. The Vegas over/under on RR dolls having something done to them in effigy was eight, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled.
3:36 – Erin Andrews just asked Bill Stewart what it would be like to coach against his former boss. “I really wish he’d gone to coach Temple, Erin.” Then he gave her a giant bear-hug. Tarnation!
3:43 – Kickoff. Pat McAfee kicks off to Boubacar Cissoko and my spell checker just lit up like a Christmas tree. M ball on the 17.
3:44 – The Carson Butler Memorial False Start Penalty (and my string of profanities) attracts the cat, who looks on Carson with disapproval. How can you false start when even the defense knows Michigan doesn’t hike until after “getting the clap?” Hee-hee, getting the clap.
3:49 – Major 3rd down pickup by Threet and Hemingway, 23 yards. Threet and Hemingway sounds like a trendy clothing store. RR is still abusing Butler on the bench, state services might be getting involved soon.
3:52 – TD Michigan! Threet and Hemingway again, 38 yard TD pass. Disturbing lack of rushing on this drive, but I’ll take it. Threet looked like a genuine Div-IA QB on this drive, and didn’t fumble which is key.
3:53 – Barwis ran across the field and stared down Coach Stew into the fetal position. It only took .6 seconds. Ewww, he just wet his Depends, then he found the 4th string cornerback and gave him an uncomfortable to watch man-hug. This game is messing with Coach Stew. Of course, all games mess with Coach Stew.
3:59 – Fumble Starks, recovered by Thompson! Michigan is in business on the WFV 28. RR looks so happy, he’s like Joe Biden being told he actually gets to debate Sarah Palin.
4:03 – TD Mich! 14-0. I’m light-headed from the giddiness. Also, WFV had to call a timeout on the extra point because they had *13* guys on the field. Insert “ha-ha WFV can’t count” joke here. Even RR was a little embarrassed for Coach Stew.
4:05 – Pat White assumes control of the team and pronounces himself player-coach. Uncomfortable-to-watch bear/man hugs all around. He then rushes for 44 yards to the Michigan 9. What happened to him throwing more?
4:15 – Pat White rushes for a TD. 14-7, M. I want to be upset, but I keep picturing someone like him in Michigan’s offense in 2 years, and the little thought bubbles over my head have lots of !!!’s.
4:19 – Know what a West Virginian says before he dies? “Hold my beer and check this out.” (Yes, I used this in another diary but it’s still really funny.)
4:21 – 5:00. Nothing interesting happens. Nothing. Well, except Warren actually calls for a fair catch, McGuffie picks up some yards, some WVF guy named “Tito” gets a couple penalties, and Sheridan came in for a series to throw a pick so ugly it made plants die. Nick Sheridan, I banish you. You are banished. Halftime.
5:01 – <<roll scary music>> “Lloyd Carr never used the spread offense. His entire tenure was really Bo Shembechler’s third term. With Lloyd Carr, you’ll get more ‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’ And I hope you like cronyism.” <<happy music!>> “Rich Rodriguez knows how to run a spread offense, and will bring much needed Change to Ann Arbor! He will restore our image in the college football world, and fix what’s wrong with our program. I’m Rich Rodriguez, and I approved this message.”
5:02 – I nominate the Big Ten network’s creepy coaches recruiting you ad as the creepiest piece of work ever. The more I watch it, the more I get the willies. And creepiest performance ever goes to Joe Paterno’s constipated “come to Penn State!” It’s so over-the-top it’s an otherworldly form of creepy. Just buries the needle on the creep-o-meter. Creepy.
5:13 – <<roll scary music>> “Rich Rodriguez is The One? The one with a risky spread offense, maybe. He has only recruited three 4-star athletes in his brief time as a major college head coach, and had a messy divorce from his last position. Even the WFV governor says he ‘wouldn’t be asked back, ever.” <<happy music!>> “Lloyd Carr has the experience, winning a National Championship and five Big Ten titles! His experience, and plan to put Michigan First, will keep Wolverine football on solid footing throughout the college football world. I’m Lloyd Carr and I hate Jim Brandstatter.”
5:16 – Erin Andrews uncovered RR’s notes on what would lead to Nick Sheridan playing in the 2nd half. They are “Threet dead, Threet decapitated, Threet spontaneously combusts”… and that one was scratched off.
5:18 – Does anyone else find the name “Flomax” funny? If that’s the way all drugs were named, do the math and come up with what “Viagra” should be called.
5:20 – Kickoff. It’s returned to the 20, and the Michigan D gives us a three & out. Looks like the cheat sheet provided to Scott Shafer is working like a charm.
5:25 – We see WFV’s three & out and raise them. Ugh, that was some bad offense. My notes for the drive, with apologies to Dr. Seuss: Stink / stank / stunk / punt. Did WFV adjust to us? Is that even possible for them?
5:26 – After a brief discussion with Cat32, we decide we want more Martavious Odoms. Something good almost always comes from him touching the ball. Oh, and we want less fumbles and more Friskies. (Cat32 has a bit of a weight problem.)
5:32 – WFV counters with a four & out. A nice run to start by Noel Divine, but the beer truck was pulled over on the interstate by Officer Ezeh.
5:35 – Erin Andrews interviews the president of West Virginia wandering the stands looking for another nice old man to give millions of dollars too. (Want another eerie parallel for Bobby Williams and Coach Stew? Bobby Williams beat The Old Ball Coach himself in a bowl game, just like Coach Stew beat Bob Stoops. Kind of an oddball highlight of career / lowlight of career situation revisited, eh?)
5:40 – John McCain declared that our offense is fundamentally sound, right before Molk’s fanny tried to take the handoff.
5:48 – White rushes for 39 yards and a TD. Tied up. This sucks worse than losing to a really fat arrogant guy and a QB with girlie hair. OK, not really. Also, Pat White looks like the Tasmanian Devil Tornado when he runs. I really want someone like him now please.
5:50 – Somehow the WFV fans snuck a couch into the Big House and set it on fire. In a touching display, the RR dolls are being thrown into the fire. When I think West Virginia, I think rafting, and then drinking. But after that I think class.
5:55 – 6:37 – Nothing happens again. I mean, really really nothing. No turnovers, nothing interesting of any kind. It’s like watching the Ohio State offense. (McGuffie was used extensively here, and has 160 yards rushing on the day. That snuck up on me. He’s been solid in this game when called upon.)
6:42 – Coach Stew mangles the clock, then he wastes about 30 seconds debating with himself how to continue destroying the clock, then he brings in Donovan McNabb as a consultant on clock management and 2-minute drills, Donovan vomits, then he hires Bob Davie to run things. Strangely none of this works well and WFV doesn't score at the end of the game.
6:49 – We’re headed to overtime! Someone told Coach Stew he still has a chance to win, and he looks happy. Kinda like he just made a poopie. With what I just witnessed from our offense, I don’t feel good about OT. Then again, M is undefeated in OT…
6:53 – WFV forgets how to pass, rushing exclusively down to the Michigan 4 yard line. They attempt a field goal, essentially an extra point, and MISS!! The lack of uncomfortable to watch bear/man hugging for kicker McAfee is staggering right now in it’s breadth and epic nature. I mean, NOBODY is doing any hugging of any kind.
6:58 – Put in field goal position by the rules, we rush a couple times and kick a field goal. Ballgame! Incompetence is defeated! Lopata is a mini-god! Sad Mountaineer fans are rushing to their dial-up internet connections! Michigan has a better record than WFV! Dogs and cats, living together, mass hysteria!!
7:00 – I realize that this game didn’t really happen, and that I didn’t feature Cat32 nearly enough. Sigh. But on the bright side, Michigan State just beat the stuffing out of Notre Dame.
I’ve been a big fan of College Football most of my life. Over that long time I’ve always wondered why big cities like Chicago and New York have no quality teams to represent them in today’s modern game. I’ve been to Chicago many times and I’m always amazed at what a great city it is. It’s a beautiful, fun and happening place. The same goes for New York. You have two of the biggest and best cities in the world, but no College Football. Why? I would think that recruiting to those places would be a breeze.
With Chicago, sure, they have Northwestern, but you can’t exactly say that they have much College Football history outside of the Rose Bowl’s they went to in the 1990’s. Plus, if you’ve ever visited NW, it’s not even in Chicago. Technically it’s quite a bit north of downtown, in Evanston, Illinois. I will say this for NW: they have a beautiful campus right on the shores of Lake Michigan. It's fantastic. I imagine that if they didn’t have such stringent rules for acceptance their football program could be very good.
There is also the University of Chicago, which, as many of you probably know, used to be a huge rival of U of M, but eventually they decided to focus their school more toward academic excellence rather than gridiron excellence. Boring.
As for New York, believe it or not they have some history to point to in the world of College Football that might surprise you.
The University of Chicago
Chicago had great teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During that time they won 7 Big Ten Championships (What? Huh?), including a Mythical National Championship in 1905. Nicknamed the “Monster’s of the Midway” this school was quite a powerhouse. It’s hard to imagine in today’s game, but if Chicago had maintained its top-flight program perhaps it never would have been “The Big Two and the Little Eight”, instead it would have been the Big 3. Also, Ron Zook’s own brand of custom made snake oil would be useless, as many top recruits in the city of Chicago would pledge to the “Maroons of Chicago” instead of The Illini. Also also, Little Brother would never have been admitted into the Big Ten, and Bo never would have called their Athletic Director a “Son of a Bitch” back in 1973 when Michigan got screwed out of the Rose Bowl. Think about it.
However, in 1939 U of C decided to de-emphasis athletics and cut their football program. They didn’t reinstate it for 30 years! Now a day's they play football in Division III (or whatever the H they call it now). I’m left wondering what the Big Ten (11) would look like today if Chicago kept their program together. Perhaps the Big Ten would have had 12 teams instead of 11 and there could be a Conference Championship and there would be great rivalries amongst NW, Illinois and Chicago. Also, we wouldn’t have to hear about how great Notre Dame is (Notre Dame is not great) and how the Big Ten so wants them to join but they are too sweet to do so. Notre Dame’s acceptance into the Big Ten wouldn’t even be brought up.
New York University
Another factoid about NYU’s football program that many of you will find interesting is that a NYU game was the site of the first protest against the “gentleman’s agreement”. No, not that “gentleman’s agreement”. Apparently in the 40’s, before Rich Rod’s snake oil was invented, the “gentleman’s agreement” was meant to keep blacks off the football field. Nice gentleman’s agreement. So that’s what Tiller was talking about, what a dick. Hey Tiller, the game has passed you by, by about 60 years, that is.
What’s Up With That?
We can all agree that a trip to New York or Chicago guarantees a kick-ass time. There’s no question there. So, why isn’t there more of a College Football presence in these great towns? I’ll offer some half-ass made up reasons:
- There’s just no room, man, it’s tight up in here. In today’s College Football there is an “Arms Race” going on. Whoops, that link was wrong. That link, along with “tight” is just not right. Or maybe it is. Anyway, I meant this arms race. Michigan is spending $226 MILLION on the Michigan Stadium renovation. That’s a boat load. Before U of M started this grand project, those dastardly Bucknuts to the south went on their own spending spree, flopping down a tiny little $187 MILLION of their own (or, coming from car dealerships?) to fix up that shithole they call “Ohio Stadium”. (FYI – if you look up at their rotunda, you will notice yellow flowers with a blue background…hey OOOO apparently the outcome of the dedication game went in Michigan’s favor so those Bucknuts painted it like that. You got to love it that you’re most bitter rival has your team’s colors on their stadium. Love it.) Anyway, OBVS Chicago and New York just don’t have any space. How are you to compete in this arms race (sorry) if you can’t build a gargantuan stadium of your own? It’s just not feasible.
- Academia. It appears, after my vast, vast, vast (VAST) research that U of C and NYU simply decided that their schools would focus like a laser beam on academics. As you know, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for FOOTBALL. While this strategery has worked for U of C, since they rank #8 in this study, it appears that NYU kind of screwed themselves, because they are only ranked #33, behind U of M! Like, WTF NYU? If you’re going to give up on the sweet sweet sweetness that is College Football, don’t be so lame academically, mmmkay?
- MICHIGAN FOOTBAW REWLLZZZZ F YEEEEEEEEE!
- This article, in the Atlanta Journal-Constitutional, written by an old, old, old ass man named FURMAN BISHER (yes, he has the same name as some old, old, old ass school in South Carolina). He offers no reason for these things. He simple lists example after example of big city football going helter-skelter, willy-nilly and PUTT-PUTT!
- That's it. I cannot logically find a reason for these happenings, beyond the college administrations obsessive reach for academic focus. Without the burdon of supporting a gigantic athletic program, U of C and NYU can focus on what their true purpose is: to better our world through education and innovation. Oh, right, I suppose someone should keep an eye on that stuff.
There have been some discussions on this and other blogs lately regarding whether or not Rich Rodriguez has signed too many small, speedy, three-star athletes. I've been thinking about this lately and had a few thoughts. I think this topic has softened some since we just signed two stud defensive ends, but outdated as it may be I'll post it anyway.
- First of all, the change in offensive philosophy requires a collection of athletes that weren't already on the roster. Therefore we need to stock the cupboards and signing a bunch of them in these first two classes is important.
- I think too much has been made of the class size, which is becoming apparent. Originally we all thought the class would be 17-18 players. Now we're seeing that the available scholarships have grown. With a couple of more unexpected departures before next season the total number will be around 22-24. Therefore it is easier to afford a few spots reserved for the smurf-like track stars.
- There is no way the coaching staff is going to turn away 5-star recruits if they come knocking on their door. Even without resorting to Saban-like tactics they'll find room in the recruiting class.
- Not too long go a discussion was sparked on www.umhoops.com about whether the basketball team should sign mid-level recruits or save scholarships for the hope of future high-level recruits. My feelings on that subject are the same as with the football team - you don't "save" scholarships for the hope of the 5-star recruit the next year. There will always be spots available in the next class. You fill the scholarships you have available, you keep the depth chart full, and you take a gamble on the occassional underrated prospect.
I don't have any problem with the recruits that have been signed so far. I am wondering how the situation is going to shake out at running back with McGuffie and Shaw seeming to have it locked up for four years. I'm also wondering whether how the staff will approach recruiting the following year when they've establish more of a presence and have the ability to recruit the five-star variety early in the process - will they actively pursue that or will they settle for system guys that are less heralded?
While watching a pretty entertaining, albeit frustrating game between Colorado and West Virginia (Colorado pulled the upset, 17-14 in OT), I saw a hilarious Lowe's Coaching Award commercial that drew a lot of thought.
As I understand it, Lowe's has a regional coach of the year award that they give out to, uhh, regional coaches that do well. Lloyd Carr won one of these trophies during his last year here at Michigan. I think Mangino from Kansas won the national coach of the year award from Lowe's. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
The tagline for this commercial was something along the lines of "this award goes out to the coaches that show character, integrity and strive for excellence on and off the field." I thought it was utterly hilarious that some of the coaches featured in the montage were the following:
Gee, can we think of any three coaches who deserve this coaching award any LESS than these three? (Obviously, yes is the answer, but we can save that for another time, a.k.a. the end of this post).
Weis absolutely berates his players when they don't do something well and then takes all the credit in the world when they do. It's as if he takes credit for them being fast, beacuse obviously, he's had experience with that in his life. Maybe at a buffet or something. I remember during the ND - SDSU game, they went to the sideline reporter after Tate missed a TD pass that was overthrown by The Emu and she said that Weis was quoted as saying "Tate, that's a great example of how you not running the correct route costs us points." If you watch the replay, Tate cuts and heads out to the corner of the endzone, causing his man to fall and he's open, but Emu overthrows him by a little bit. He had a shot and laid out for the ball, but it wasn't good enough for Weis. I hate defending Notre Dame in any way, shape or form, but that's horrible, especially to a young kid and then having it called out on national TV. I wish Tate had some more drops against us.
Saban? That's obvious, too. We can start with the recruiting hijinks that he has made and somehow he got his huge clas to fit into NCAA guidelines by pretty much giving people the boot and helping them along, so to speak. Also, he has no sense of discipline, like removing someone's suspension IN THE MIDDLE OF A GAME BEACUSE THEY WERE LOSING. I get a lot of joy that they STILL lost to Lousiana-Monroe last year. At home. Also, let's not forgot his penchant of leaving teams, i.e. Michigan State, LSU, the Miami Dolphins. How long will it take for him to leave Alabama? I'd say, oh, within three or four years or so. For Auburn.
As for Paterno, I can see why they used him in the commercial. He's a venerable old guy and finds a soft spot in your heart. A very small part, but nonetheless, he's in there. However, he's had SO much turmoil this offseason and even during the season with players getting in trouble with the law. Evans, who should be terrorizing quarterbacks right now is suspended until duly noted for some chronic problems. He's slowly losing control of his program, but I believe he's earned the right to go out on his own.
Seriously - why couldn't Lowe's used the coaches that won the damn award? Carr? Grobe? Mangino? Either they're not big enough names or they just wanted to go with the big name coach. Specifically, THREE coaches who represent the clear cut opposite of what that trophy represents.
As for who DOESN'T deserve this trophy?
Bobby Petrino : sort of a Saban clone.
Greg Robinson : how long until Kiffin coaches the Orange?
Phll Fulmer : because EVERYONE (except maybe UCLA fans) hates him
Thanks for reading.
Just to give you some background, I played football through college. It was div 3, but we had a lot of success, and I learned a lot about the game. I played wide receiver so I mostly know technique and route combinations. I don't know as much as a full time coach, but I'll give some of my insights after watching the game again. Maybe somebody will find it interesting.
- I think the illegal chop block was a bad call on our first drive. Coach Rod said this in his presser, and he was right. Right after the snap, Molk went for the cut. Mooseman did not engage the DT, the DT just put one hand on Mooseman's shoulder. It really should not have been called.
- I watched Matthew's TD catch about 30 times on my DVR and was lucky enough to pause it right before he hit the ground. His hand was under the ball, and it was a catch. It was hard to see on the replay though. I'm still not surprised the call wasn't reversed.
- On ND's long TD, Graham may have sacked Clausen if he wasn't getting bear hugged by the TE. It was pretty obvious holding. I'm not sure how anybody misses a call like that.
- On ND's other long pass play, Warren got smoked at the line. Tate didn't even give him much of a move, but it put Warren on his heels and allowed him to go open on the slant. He still caught up to him and slowed him down. Brown should have made an easy tackle.
- I didn't think the LB's were very good. I'm not sure what they were reading, but they bit on several ND counter plays. They also allowed the lead blocker to get into their body and push them back. They need to work on keeping the correct shoulder free and shedding those blocks. Ezeh also has a bad habit of dropping his head and lunging at tackles. The could be bad news against a back like PJ Hill.
- I thought the DL actually played pretty well. They got a pretty consistent push. When Johnson or Taylor got doubled, they held their ground and freed up the linebackers. Jamison threw their tackles around like a rag doll. Van Bergen and Mike Martin are going to be outstanding players for the next couple years.
- The passing game seems to consist of fader routes, bubble screens, slant bubble combos, and routes to sell four vertical. On the 4th and 6 after the fake punt, Stonum ran a route where he sold the vertical seem and stopped. It was like comeback, but to the inside. I think Matthews was on the other side and ran the same route. Butler ran a TE delay sit route. All three of these guys were open, but Threet threw the fade to Odoms. He thrwos it to anybody else, and its a first down.
- On Threet's fumble, Stonum put a nice move on the press corner and was running downfield wide open. The safety was rolling to the middle of the field to take the place of the safety rolling down. This was the touchdown Rod was talking about at the presser. It looked like Threet was rotating the ball to find the laces and just dropped it. This could have been a huge play.
- Our receivers do not do a very good job of staying vertical on fade routes. If you stay vertical, the qb puts the ball over your outside shoulder. It is very hard to defend this way. Our receivers seem to fade to the sideline during the route leaving almost no room for a pass. Maybe they are coaching it differently than what I know, but it looks much harder to complete.
- On Sheridan's first interception, he probably sould have thrown the slant to Matthews. He was open, and I would think the slant would be his first read. Butler also should have got his head around and caught the ball.
- On Sheridan's second interception, Babb did not run his seam pattern enough to the inside. If he takes his pattern closer to the hash or inside the hash, the corner cannot come over and make that interception. It was also a bad pass, but I don't think the route was run correctly.
- On our zone running plays, the O-line does a pretty terrible jobs on their cut blocks. Severa times, it was back side DT's running down the play from behind and making a tackle. They are lunging on the these blocks instead of getting their head across and driving their shoulder pads through the defender's legs.
Overall, I think we look pretty good going forward. The O-Line play was much better, but still needs to improve for Big Ten play. The LB's also need to improve. Of course thats just my opinion, I could be wrong.