From Mandel's College Football Overtime:
Two years later, however, English is soon to be back on a lot of prominent athletic directors' radars. He has Eastern Michigan (5-3) off to its best start since 1995. On Saturday, Eastern beat Western Michigan, 14-10, which coupled with a win the week before over Central Michigan gave the Eagles the Michigan MAC Trophy (yes, this really exists).
I'm glad to see English (and Hart) have some success at Eastern. I hope he stays there for a few years; it's no fun when EMU is a strong candidate to be dropped to FCS. I'd actually love for Michigan to play a "road" game there every once in a while (guarenteed sellout, lots of money for Eastern, easy commute for M fans), but we know DB would never allow that now.
I didn't have internet for the past week, so I'm getting to this diary pretty late. Almost everything that occurred to me has already been said. But here's a few things that stood out and could use repeating if you have already heard it.
This is why you don't teach players to only play strongside or only play weakside.
A single shift into an unbalanced line made 6 of our guys change position. I feel like this calls for some joke about Chinese fire drills, but it's too easy. If the motion man hadn't taken the jet sweep and actually realigned on the other side, I wonder if those 6 guys would have been thinking about flopping back. Ugh... ...
Our defense is still young and has a lot to learn. We're a year or two (or three) away from being able to shut down serious opponents.
Vincent looked good, I still worry about his durability. There are some indications that ND's D-line and scheme are legitimately good against the run. So this might not be as bad as we fear. My hopes are still on Fitz to be the main workhorse until someone younger distinguishes himself. Looks like we'll be RB by committee for the rest of this year.
What about Denard?
Good thing: Denard is still awesome running the ball against weaker competition
Bad thing: We were forced to run Denard against a middling' MAC team
Good thing: Denard is getting better at getting out of bounds without taking a big hit
Bad thing: Several times he ran into a NT, DT sandwich
Good thing: The return of QB dive TROLOLOLOLO!!!! (Brian "QB draw-OH NOES!" is a great name, but it's not a draw fake, it's a dive fake.)
Bad thing: Bubble screens still MIA
MSU @ ND notes
- The game was closer than the score reflected. MSU failed a fake FG and got intercepted in the redzone, ND had a kickoff return TD. ND still wins handedly, but probably only by one score or 10 points instead of 18.
- MSU's O-line has big problems. This is not news to anyone. But I think it's showing up in some of their playcalling.
For example, they used this weird formation
And then they pitched the ball around the short side TE/Guard. It's like they don't trust their interior linemen, so they might as well try to run away from the muck. (sometimes with a pulling lineman)
There's a reason why people don't normally line up like this. It's not usually effective.
- Wood's first TD was not a TD.
First of all, there was a blatant holding at the point of attack,
And he was down at the 1 yard line anyway.
- Bawk! Bawk! Dantonio.
It's 4th and 17 at midfield, down two touchdowns with 4 and half minutes left in the game. And he decided to PUNT. C'mon, after last (last) week, we know that 4 minutes against ND is time enough for at least 6 touchdowns.
- Nick Hill on Kick Returns
He looked good at finding the hole and they had some designed returns to break off to one side of the wedge. This dishearteningly matches up with one of our weaknesses.
- It's all about stopping Cunningham
They still have the triplets at RB. But with the issues they have with the O-line, Cunningham becomes the key to stopping MSU.
- Cousins is still a good QB, but I feel like we can trick him into a couple of INT's.
He likes to throw the crossing routes to the WR. And in the hurry-up, they seemed to favor square-ins and slants. ND stepped in front for a couple of picks and tips. Cousins is very good at throwing the checkdown and hitting late leakers from the backfield. And all the backs seemed to be good at making them selves available after scraping past the rushers.
MSU likes to call a fair number of screens and draws, but these are hard to do well for inexperienced linemen.
It has already been three weeks of college football season and I have the self mutilation scars tallying every time I thought a game was lost or became frustrated with the Pitbull Dr. Pepper commercials. After spending an afternoon staring at my scars, I realized this habit must stop or else I will be sucking up all the good blood at the hospital for selfish reasons. This past weekend was supposed to be a “healing weekend.” It turned out to be just as frustrating as the past two.
The Eastern Michigan University football team has been compared to a punching bag or even an ugly mannequin used for those loners down in their basements to beat up on after losing their six hour quest of Dungeons and Dragons to install confidence for the next life wasting night full of pizza, funny dice, and no estrogen save in their man breasts from too much pizza and coddling at a young age. I debated whether to even watch this game or to take natural medicine and travel fast as I could to the Medieval Festival in Holly to take in the wonderful colors, music, belly dancing, and a turkey leg the size of Mattison’s head. I decided that in order to keep a weekly diary going it would be in my best interest to stay and watch. I expected an avalanche of offense and a punishment of defense from the get go by our beloved Michigan Wolverines. I soon found myself trying to remember how to tie a slipknot and finding a tall enough place by halftime.
The offense started out anemic and the defense played as if they were on the winning side of the game Tag and trying not to get tagged back. For a while I thought this was some cruel hoax of a uniform swith in the locker rooms so that Mike Hart would be able to coach the Michigan Wolverines incognito. Eastern Michigan manhandled Michigan as their offense stampeded down the field on at least three straight occasions but only coming away with three points from the whole ordeal. Thank the all knowing Spaghetti Monster that this was an inept team that didn’t know how to handle momentum against quality opponents and made buffoons out of themselves on national television. If this were any BIG opponent, our ass would have been grass, and they would have turned it over to the authorities. The Michigan offense was just as putrid as Gorgeous Borges still looks for an offensive strategy besides Denard Left, Denard Right, Denard Center, and Denard Please Fucking Save Us. He still hasn’t found it. MANBAWW FOOTBAWW. Sure Vincent Smith got over 100 yards on various attempts, but again, this is Eastern Michigan School of the Fighting Stuffed Animals. Denards’s throwing seemed to regress as he sailed passes to Tacopants and to Lloyd Brady tailgating outside the stadium.
At halftime I decided it was a bit hyperbolic to hang myself this early in the season. I should save that for Michigan State or Nebraska. I don’t want to waste my finale on a team that my old University President from Pennsylvania who wore plaid sports jackets stepped in for in the past to serve as Emergency President at Eastern. No way. Plaid sports jackets will not be the end of me. I knew Michigan would pull this out from the beginning, but the way in which they started the game was discouraging. Mattison and Gorgeous Borges better take note that an imitation Division III team pushed them around for one whole quarter.
After halftime, Michigan had a fire lit under their ass and the lighter fluid to ignite it was the usual brand, Denard Robinson. The defense also stepped up their game to begin to look respectable, but the rushing attack by the fighting EMU’s still plagued them. Denard galloped his way on his feet, which I am convinced are small unicorns blessed by the Pope. (How else would he always make the Irish look like chumps?) As the scoreboard raced higher for Michigan after unanswered touchdowns quicker than Tyrone Biggums racing higher after stealing a car radio, I still felt a level of disappointment. If Michigan were an ice cream shop going head to head with Baskin-Robbins for the Internationally known Lactose Award for Variety, they would lose 37-1.
Last year Michigan leaned heavily on Denard until he docked in at the end of the season with more bumps, bruises, and injuries than Whitney Hill after a good night out with Bobby. Not only was Denard beat-up by the end of the season, everyone figured out the game plan of a hobbled legged QB trying desperately to save his team from losing and his coach from trying out for Glee. The end result was a predictive offense with a defense that would have won Last Comic Standing and an embarrassing end to the season by being drubbed by Mississippi State 52-14.
The FEAR is afoot again. Whether it is Gorgeous Borges’ fault that he hasn’t tried to implement more offensive strategies using Denard’s threat to open up other plays besides a quick slant and a zone read, or because we are not there offensively with the talent up front and around someone like Denard can be debated until the cows come back to tsio’s many sororities. The defense has improved slightly, but is nowhere near a level accustomed to Michigan’s past or a level that can sustain a season in the Big Ten 2.0. The FEAR is creeping up my leg and beginning to look like a rabid warthog with pieces of kitten flesh dripping from its tusks. The game against Eastern Michigan may have been rewarding in it brought us another win and national ranking, but it also served as a curse in possible false hopes and a déjà vu that is beginning to resemble a Greek tragedy rendition of Groundhog Day. Then again, I’ve been known to worry too much.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
The final score indicated a beat down as would be expected when Michigan plays Eastern, but I wonder if I am alone in feeling that yesterday's game exposed more flaws with this Michigan team than it addressed. What did we learn, after all?
- Michigan's defense is going to have trouble against the run all year. Seriously, giving up over 200 yards rushing to EMU despite being significantly ahead the entire second half is bad news. This defense would be looking much worse except for some timely turnovers, and while the turnover numbers are encouraging we shouldn't overlook that last year's team was also sitting 3-0 with a significant edge in turnover margin (10/4 this year vs. 6/2 last year).
- Michigan's offense is still mostly Denard, Denard, Denard and a healthy Mr. Robinson is still far more offense than most defenses can handle. Denard does seem to be more solidly built than last year and may hold up better for a while, but he definitely took a beating yesterday, much of which seemed unnecessary. The good news is that Borges seems to understand which side his bread is buttered on, and didn't try to go to mostly under center until the game was in hand. The bad news is summed up by that last drive by Denard, where it seemed like Hoke/Borges are so desperate to see Denard progress as a drop-back QB that they eschewed a great opportunity to get Gardner some meaningful snaps.
- Michigan needs Hagerup back. Wile's kicks aren't a ton shorter in distance, but their hang time is non-existent and every one is a threat to be returned for big yardage. It is leading to Michigan fighting uphill in the field-position battle every game. A kickoff into the endzone would be nice too, but doesn't seem to be in the cards unless the wind big at our backs.
- Michigan is much better in the Red-Zone it would seem. This may be because of the turnover margin not yet flipping like it did last year, but with 10 TDs and 1 FG out of 11 trips into the Red-Zone (1 actually from the 21, close enough), this year's team seems vastly improved in this area. Of course we must consider the strength of competition here.
Live for Today…
Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:
1. Denard Robinson – Honestly asked to do far too much, Denard answered as only he can carrying the team with nearly 300 yards of total offense including ~200 yards rushing on 26 carries. He took far too many shots from EMU's defense and is going to be feeling some discomfort this week. It was ominous when the commentators noted that Denard was limited by arm-pain in practice last week. If Michigan is going to a decent bowl game this season, they are going to need Denard playing near 100%.
2. Vincent Smith – Really showed off the shiftiness that was missing last year, along with some great speed. 118 yards on 9 carries = awesome. The fact that Smith had no TDs validates the yards even more, as none were of the seeya variety.
3. Michigan Defense – The run defense was awful, see above. But Michigan did limit EMU to only 3 points and won the TOP for the first time in a long time. The most encouraging part of this year's defense is that they seem to get better as the game progresses. This is probably Mattison.
4. Jeremy Gallon – I just love that this guy is finally putting his stamp on the program. So far he seems like Odoms with better speed.
5. Drew Dileo – First TD in a Michigan uniform. Congratulations young man.
Also of note was the play of Jake Ryan, Mike Martin, and Craig Roh. Also Heninger seemed to redeem himself somewhat.
Hope for Tomorrow
Bask in 3-0 for now, because this team is looking to be on much the same course as last season so far. I think that our reliance on Denard Robinson will actually help us next week against SDSU, because our offense will not look like what Rocky Long remembers a Borges offense looking like. Then again, our run defense might get gutted by Ronnie Hillman. SDSU will put a scare into us at least.
Our biggest hope for the whole season may actually be Borges's willingness to adapt to Denard's strengths as well as Mattison's willingness to use naked aggression to mask our defense's glaring flaws. Like last year, this team is going to sink or swim based on their ability to outscore opponents. The opponents seem less daunting however, and we have better coaches. I am reasonably anticipating 8-9 wins still as long as the most key players stay healthy. If we can keep the TO margin on the happy side, perhaps this team can develop into a dark horse division championship contender.
Go Blue and stay safe.
After finally making it back to Arlington,Tx from that epic game at the Big House, I realized it was time to move on to the next week's game (even though my heart and mind continue to relive that wonderful night.) I wasn't planning on doing more wallpaper as I hate mediocrity and feel like the feeble attempts I make are just not worth it. Of course this week I doubt monuMental will sweep in and save us like he did for UTL since he has much more important things to do than worry about Eastern Michigan.
My 11 year, the homer that he is, swears that his daddy's wallpaper was better anyways (I do not see eye to eye with him on this) and wants me to pick up where monuMental left off until the game against MSU. I thought of a couple things to do for the week's look before I got frustrated with the attempts and decided to just pass on it. Then the 5 year old comes along. That's the one with those deep blue eyes and dimples that have already landed him a new car and credit card at such an early age. He looks at me and says, "dad Michigan did not give up when they were losing to the flower team (that's four leaf clovers to normal people.) How could I resist?
So the process looked something like the following. I thought about using an oversized birdcage to put Eastern's mascot, Swoop, in. I couldn't create the right look in the limited time so I moved on to more of a cell-block look. This would give the idea of a jail bird or just an oversized bird cage. This is kind of where that ended up at...
It just didn't really seem to have the pop I wanted and seemed cheesy. This is about the time my 5 year old convinced me not to give up but try something else.
I then thought more about a real eagle since I didn't have a great shot of Swoop and didn't have enough time to re-create him. Of course Swoop is a bald eagle which is probably one of my favorite animals. When I started to consider placing such a great bird in a cell or cage it caused some inner tension. Blast those people in Ypsilanti for having such a fine species as their rallying point in sports. Against the inner turmoil, I went ahead and considered some options. I took the bald eagle and placed him in a cell. Some writing on the wall and the right lighting allowed me to find a concept I liked. Now it is extremely raw and not the shadowing I really wanted. When I really step back and take a look it seems like I threw it together. Oh wait, I did.
I may try to tweak it some more but since the weekend is just around the corner I thought I would throw up the concept on this fine MGoBoard and take the beating and criticism like a man. Hope I don't embarrass the photoshop family too much. Even if I do, at least I have an 11 and 5 year old that goes to school and says "my dad can photoshop better than your dad." Yeah they get beat up a lot.
Nice little write up. Good luck to Mike!