You see often the laments of fans over Michigan loses that shoulda, woulda, coulda been a victory. If only this, or if only that. (Cordell Stewart) (Crable!) (Charles White!) (Sheridan!) (Troy!) (Vince!) (Dixon!) (Edwards!) (Rocket!) Whatever. While such games exact a pain that never seems to dull, those do not hold a candle to the 2008 Capital One Bowl Game. That game, at least to me, is the most wrenching.
Allow me to explain.
Michigan was not supposed to win that game. The Michigan defense had yet to prove it could slow down yet alone stop a spread offense, and the Urban Meyer brand Florida Spread scored over 40 points 9 times that season and 49 points 6 times. Tim Tebow won the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brian and the AP Player of the year. They had Percy Harvin, who when healthy, was supposedly unstoppable. And, this is basically the same team that came back in won the NC the following season, though who they played slips my mind at this time. AND the game was being played in Florida. Many Florida fans live in that state. Indeed, the Gators would go on to have a very good game. 399 yards of offense, 3 td passes, Harvin had over 200 yards of total offense himself, NO TURNOVERS, and aside from their secondary they had a great game.
The Blogosphere was crackling with loss scenarios. Most of them gruesome. Even the Michigan Otherwise Fanatics are casting doubts and sighing the sigh of death. That loss at the end of the season to that team with the really good players is still stinging. Lloyd is leaving. Rich Rod and twenty miles of bad controversy have arrived. (Even though the proverbial dam had yet to burst.) The curse of a billion kittens and swimming fowl hung in the air like the exhaust from a city bus on a hot summer day.
Then finally the teams stepped onto the field. The Gators are talking trash. The Wolverines bark right back. Wow. I truly wasn’t expecting trash talk in the Cap One Bowl, but yeah, its on.
And ON it was. 524 yards of offense, 10 of 15 3rd down conversion, 28 first downs, 373 passing yards, 151 rushing yards, 32:18 time of possession. And…
Adrian Arrington 9 153 2 37
Mario Manningham 5 78 1 24
Carson Butler 1 65 0 65
Greg Mathews 7 62 0 18
Well, that is SPREADING in around.
41 points. Hart’s two fumbles excluded, its more like 55 points. Remove those two interceptions and who knows.
Thanks to the fine work by U of M Historian (with an assist from Wiki) it is possible to travel back in time and see a good portion of the Capital One Bowl. It is a good idea, as well. Stats don’t show one-handed grabs, around the back grabs and in traffic grabs--and a bunch of most excellent other plays.
Worst win ever? Yeah, because I can’t stop wondering the what if’s on this team. Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin and made numerous big plays and big hits! Heck, the D gave up some yards but they were hitting like monsters and making everybody pay. The O gave up four turnovers and never quit--in basically, Florida‘s backyard. Everybody was catching the ball and blocking downfield. Carson Butler went 65 yards! Henne was 25 of 39. Hart was pounding like a sledge hammer on sandstone. The line were blocking like they were defending Mt. Olympus. It was pizza power gone mad! All these things, all this great talent blooming in the last game of the year, and the last game ever for U of M by many of these guys. And not one Big Ten title between them. Oh well, stuff like that happens I guess.
Besides, 4.25 million is a chunk of change to bring home.
The stats within the series:
-3 clutch performances in close games
-Passing TDs: 14
-Passing Yards: 880
-Completions/Attempts: 79/120 (66%)
Henne's worst game in the series was 2006, where he went 11 of 17 for 140 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs in a 31-13 victory. His stats could have been much more impressive had Lloyd Carr not called off the dogs and went to conservative play calling. In example, Carr only called 1 passing play in the final 26 minutes and 22 seconds of game time, with only a total of 4 passing plays called in the final half.
Henne's best game would have to be the 2007 comeback game on the road. Henne braved severe should pain and injury to comeback and make clutch throws to gain 211 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT in the victory.
I posted this on the ESPN board a year and a half ago. A few Spartans argued me tooth and nail over it, but they refused to name anyone who might be better within the series, which is a tacit way of agreeing with me.
Can anyone think of a QB who might have performed better within the series?
P.S. I am still cheering for Henne with the Miami Dolphins.
The wardrobe has been reduced to 16 -- 8 for men, and 8 for women. This week we shall decide the winners of each region. Then it's on to the championship rounds.
Second Round Recap
The men's second round separated the championship-worthy from the "pretty good." Most elections were runaway victories, but a few remained close to the end. In the end, the Big Three sports won out. Among the smaller programs to put up a fight, lacrosse maizes held out to the bitter end, before falling to the maize hoops unis. Out of the eight remaining unis in the men's bracket are four sports: football, baseball, hockey and basketball.
Here's some highlights:
- The icers' dominance looked likely to continue after a blowout over the baseball blues, but then the maize scripts, the '60s throwbacks and the new whites all fell (though one fell to another hockey sweater)
- A couple of in-house fights came down to the wire, one between baseball's whites and grays, and another between hockey's '60s throwbacks and navy block M's (both retired after last season).
- The OP went 4-for-4, meaning you guys knocked out half of the unis I wanted to move on...jerks.
Men's Bracket, Standing Out from the Crowd Region:
These are the unis that are made to show off our stuff, or at least burn out Ohio's eye sockets trying. When one of your colors matches the sun, you don't have to hide it behind blue sky and gray clouds. Sometimes, though, the sport calls for an alternate that's a little more subdued, a little more classy. There is such a thing as too much sunshine.
Last round: The two matchups in the last round couldn't be more different. The icers' maizers, the only sweaters from '08-'09 that will be back again next year, demolished the blue alternates of the baseball boys. Meanwhile, passions flared as the lacrosse team tried to topple the maize hoops unis. While they kept the vote close, in the end the upset bid fell short, and hoops moved on to the regional championship.
Preview: Two of the best maize uniforms ever produced in sports go head to head this week. We'll find out whether the trouble the hoops team had was a case of too much yellow, or just a worthy run from an underrated opponent. They'd better bring their A-game, though, because the maize sweaters have rolled so far. It's the one seed versus the two seed, but I'd give the slight edge to hockey based on playoff performance.
Men's Bracket, Not Everyone Looks Good in Blue Region:
Navy blue, throughout history, has not been a color reserved for the masses. It's a color you have to earn. Those who put on an azure jersey, or sweater, or leotard, become part of a long tradition of excellence. Only after proving yourself worthy of that tradition may you don this hue. Blue says that you stand above the competition, that you are better than others. There are so many great reasons to wear this color, but if you're gonna go blue, you'd better do it right.
Last round: Treating it like just another tuneup game, the football homes trounced soccer's sleek outfits (gaining 91 percent of votes cast). The 2-seed hoops blues had similar success, knocking off the tennis unis (and the last of the small-sport comers) with a resounding 75 percent of votes.
Preview: The MAC season is over for football, as the blue basketball unis have tp be considered one of the best chances to knock off the favorites. After all, Rodriguez's squad wore their classic maize pants, blue jerseys, and iconic helmets to an embarrassing 3-9 last year, while Beilein's hoops team sported their navy kit to a 1st round victory over Clemson and a respectable showing against Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, football's been wearing its current unis for almost a century, while basketball switched theirs up just last year, so the old school factor heavily favors the gridiron. I'm picking football.
Men's Bracket, In My Day We Wore X Region:
Michigan's been playing a full slate of varsity sports for longer than most Division 1 schools have existed. In that time, a lot of outfits have come and gone, though considering all those years, not so many as you might think -- we're "traditional" like that. Some have been brought back. Others never left. And some probably belong back on the shelf.
Last round: The OP's opinions apparently don't matter, since my two favorite hockey sweaters of all time (the maize scripts, and the '60s throwbacks) both went down in close-but-not-that-close elections.
Preview: Football's '05 to '07 aways, the 8 seed in this bracket, have a good shot to head to the Elite 8. But fans seem to adore the big block M on the recently retired navy cager uniforms (the 7 seed). One surprise winner will emerge, but this could be a total pickem.
Men's Bracket, Scientifically Speaking, I'm Actually Wearing Every Color Right Now Region:
White is a dangerous color, but for those who can pull it off ... oh, who am I kidding, as Misopogal can tell you, I really don't know anything about fashion. What I do know is that if you don't wash your white hockey sweater after every use, you'll develop some unintended yellow slashes at the drip-points of your pads (I'm still waiting for a hockey uni to be designed with color slashes where the sweat stains usually form).
Last round: The elections from last week actually tell us little of what to expect from the holdouts in the whites region. Baseball's classic whites went up against essentially the same exact uniform in gray. The 2-seed hoops whites had a bit of a speedbump against the 3-seed hockey whites, but pulled away to win handily enough at the end.
Preview: The basketball whites might not have shown it yet, but now they get the benefit of big sport versus (relatively) small sport. On the other hand, the baseball whites defeated the grays, which knocked off the 1-seed in the first round solely on their own merits. If voters come down to voting on unis regardless of sport, these beauties have a real shot to move on.
I've been a Michigan football fan all my life. I attended my first game at the age of 8, celebrated in the stands after AC pulled out a victory over Indiana in '79, remember when the Rose Bowl MVP went to the entire O line, and still haven't gotten over the loss to the unmentionables in 2006. But I've had my greatest doubts (in the same sense as in the movie with Meryl Streep) as a fan in the past year. And it's not because of the losing. It's an identity crisis.
Until Lloyd Carr retired in 2008, Michigan football had been led by exactly three head coaches in my lifetime. And I'm no spring chicken. These three coaches were undeniably related - not by blood, but by football family. Gary Moeller had spent more than a decade under Bo, and likewise, Lloyd Carr spent more than a decade under Bo and then Mo. It was like nepotism, at its best. When coaches changed, it was seemless - there was no "clearing house", no radical change in style, no player exodus, and certainly no head coach who had to read a book to find out what Michigan football is all about!
When Carr retired, I had my heart set on Les Miles as his successor. Why? Because Les Miles was a Michigan man as I understood it - he'd played for Bo and coached under Bo and Mo. But, Rich Rodriguez was hired, and brought Morgantown to Ann Arbor. For the first time ever, I recognized almost none of the coaches (thank goodness for Fred Jackson...), had to come to grips with a complete change in style (there was no "spread" in those three dusty yards), and watched players who really shouldn't have, leave before their eligibility was expired. Understanding the significance of the Rose Bowl or the Brown jug etc. doesn't and can't come from reading - as RichRod and his staff reportedly did. I suppose Rodriguez understands the urgency of beating the round, hard-headed rival. At least, I assume so since coaches have been fired over that game.
To say it is love fest would be to minimize what Devin Gardner has done this week at the Elite 11. He went in against 11 (that's right it is called the Elite 11, but hosts 12 QB's, but who are we to talk) of the best young signal callers in the country, and when he was done Rivals declared him the best pound for pound QB.
Strewn by the wayside was a "son of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Montana," and two other Michigan recruits. First, Michigan State commit Joe Boisture, who finishing dead last in the rankings, and though they had to remain positive to explain why he was even invited, had potential and development needs mentioned way too much in his daily write-ups. The Second is Robert Bolden who also had a great camp and at the end of one day was ranked 1A and 1B with Devin.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
It appears that all these camps that Devin has been visiting have made an impact and so while he started the week with words like "potential" and "dual-threat QB" he ended the week with quotes like, "We could be looking at a future first-round draft pick in five years" and "the ability to take over a college game by himself using his arm and his legs." Speed and athleticism were still mentioned, but also pro-body, strong arm, laser-like percision, and good touch.
Awards he picked up at the camp show that he is not only fast, "Best Feet," but also a student "Best in Classroom." I am just really impressed on how Devin is growing into an unbelievable QB and believe that he is finally going to get the mention he deserves in the top 100, as a great QB that can also run, and not just a dual-threat. Sit behind Tate for a year and then I think we are going to have one heck of a QB competition in 2011. Greatness is coming for Michigan, it just might be one QB away.
PS. He finally committed to Michigan in my NCAA 10 over Ohio State, so I’ll be able to give you a preview of his performances on the field shortly. If he’s good in NCAA 10 he must be good in real life.?!
Monday, July 27 – BIG TEN FOOTBALL MEDIA DAY
8:00 a.m. The Big Ten’s Greatest Games: 2008 – Wisconsin @ Michigan [F]
10:00 a.m. Top Ten Games of 2007
10:30 a.m. Top Ten Games of 2008
11:00 a.m. Big Ten Football Media Day
7:00 p.m. Big Ten Football Media Day
11:00 p.m. Top Ten Games of 2008
11:30 p.m. Top Ten Games of 2007
Tuesday, July 28
2:00 p.m. Big Ten Football Media Day
6:00 p.m. Campus Programming: Out of the Blue – The Michigan Difference 108
11:00 p.m. The Greatest Seasons: 1989 Basketball
Thursday, July 30
8:30 a.m. Short Stories: Michigan Wolverines
9:00 a.m. Big Ten Football Media Day
5:30 p.m. Campus Programming: Out of the Blue – The Michigan Difference 108
9:00 p.m. Short Stories: Michigan Wolverines
Friday, July 31
8:00 a.m. Campus Programming: Out of the Blue – The Michigan Difference 108
Saturday, August 1 – FOOTBALL REPLAYS: UNDER THE LIGHTS
11:00 a.m. Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon
4:00 p.m. Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon
9:00 p.m. Big Ten Football Kickoff Luncheon
All times Eastern