I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Nice video highlighting Jeremy Gallon's development and relationship with Coach Heck.
There's also another new video, with some firsts and career stats updates for Denard, Hemingway, and others.
Original Picture Pages here. Analysis courtesy Brian, as usual. Now the slo-mo works but I'm back to non-lower-case lower case letters. Whatever.
Setup: Borges is setting up 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situations. On the play prior to this one, Michigan sent Hemingway, Roundtree, and Grady to varying depths along the left sideline. The corner stepped up to take away Hemingway (running the middle depth of the three routes), but Roundtree beat the safety to the outside for a big gain. This play is designed to get one man open no matter which way the corner plays.
Wha'hoppon: Gallon is split left, Denard in the slot right, and Hemingway split right. Pre-snap, Junior motions in, and the defensive reaction reveals zone. On the snap, Gallon runs, well, I'm not sure - it might be a streak, or a fly, or a post, or a post-corner (#7). One safety steps up into a robber zone and the other forms a Cover-3 with the corners. Gallon's corner runs with him and the safety comes over. Hemingway runs what starts out as a deep in, I think (#6?), but continues it all the way across the field, getting free of the robber and being wide open in the spot vacated by the corner. The LBs are occupied by the threat of the end-around first, then a potential Denard wheel route second, which prevents them from dropping into the passing lane. Gardner finishes both fakes, has a quick lunch, tweets "no1 w/in 10yds of me lol wide open" and proceeds to throw into double coverage towards Gallon. Armpunt.
Full YouTubage at http://youtu.be/9gADYsUMVN8.
“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.
Some things shouldn’t be written about. They deserve far more than words could ever accomplish, regardless of how eloquent those words are or the sophistication of their arrangement. Then there are things that exceed even that. Things that make you want go, “screw it, I have to at least try and write something. If I don’t my brain is going to explode. Also, if I write about it, maybe I can make sure it’s true and actually happened. I don’t ever remember writing something down in a dream.”
That’s how last night is for me. I need to do write about it and hope that I can do it 100th of the justice it deserves, so that maybe one day I can look back and remember just the amount and consistency of the emotions I felt. This will probably be disorganized and random; a kind of mind drain that doesn’t care how it all comes out, as long as it comes out. I just need to get as much down as possible, hoping these thoughts don’t escape me before I can write them down. On with the show.
The day itself deserves its own diary, but that’s for another time or another person. Suffice it to say, Ann Arbor was flooded with excitement, from the first moments of College Gameday to the opening of The Big House’s gates, the city glowed. Walking up Hoover towards the woman about to be taken to her first night time ball and showed off for all of the nation to see, the sun silhouetted the crowds as it set over Main Street.
Fast forward to the pregame, and the excitement was reaching a fever pitch. When Desmond got Legended (kind of like being knighted), it made you wish there was something you could do besides cheer, that there was some other way to honor a great player and great man. Yelling at the top of your lungs just wasn’t enough. A few months ago when the whole “I should have my number retired” (not a direct quote) stuff was going around, I was a little disappointed. I knew Desmond loved him some Desmond, but I also knew he was a team player who loved our great university, and I felt disheartened that he would ask for such a thing. Yesterday, as he did his best Lou Gehrig impression during his speech, all was forgiven. He was a man truly grateful, acknowledging how blessed he was for every opportunity the team and, perhaps more importantly, university, gave him. A very rough paraphrase from what I remember is:
Every experience I had at this university, from the Diag to Schembechler to (5 or 6 more campus locations) has made...me....the man....I am....today.
His pearly whites glowed as he couldn’t hold back tears of joy and gratitude. What a fantastic start.
Then, in remembrance of the horrific tragedies from a decade ago, the whole crowd joined in a chorus of God Bless America. I’m pretty sure the band was playing the song on heartstrings, or cutting up onions, or releasing a massive dust cloud into the stands. A beautiful moment for a terrible tragedy.
When the game started, my biggest fears seemed to be coming true. Throughout this week, when asked about my predictions, I always cited a nervous feeling that ND would go up a couple scores while Borges tried to get a feel for the gameplan and our offense tried to settle in. That’s exactly what happened. The pom-pom I held had its handle slowly reduced in size as I slowly bent it and broke off pieces in frustration. Some girl behind me kept yelling “Oh no! He’s going to throw again,” every time Denard dropped back. I wanted to yell at her or just show her some highlights from our 2008 offense, but refrained. In truth there were times where I felt similarly, the dreadlocked, dilithium-powered powder keg of a big play looked very human at times. This did not feel like 2010 ND. All was not right.
Then Hemingway said, “pardon me, sir, but I have a ball to catch and a touchdown to score. It would be easier if you weren’t in the way, but instead I’ll have to jump through Michigan Stadium’s non-existant roof.” Adrenaline spike. 114,000 strong came alive again, individual maize plastic strings tied together rocking in unison to a chorus of The Victors.
Halftime was weird. There were people in costumes from a horror movie covered in flashing lights, some of which worked, some of which didn’t. I sat down and tried to relax, hoping my pounding headache would subside, because it every time I yelled on a defensive series, it got worse. A long day of drinking things that, while they contain water, make it their job to deprive your body of every drop of it apparently does awful things to the front part of your brain and makes it feel like it’s trying to escape out your forehead. Who knew? Yelling apparently doesn’t help, but dammit, I had a job to do. And that job was to be fan number 114 thousand-something who believed that an extra yell from me would make Tommy Rees stop correctly checking out of plays when reading blitzes or make Michael Floyd want to just sit down and take a break for a minute. Jesus Tapdancing Christ, Michael Floyd. But, I digress.
Normally I’m very good at remembering the exact sequence of plays and all major events in a football game, but I think I blew a couple fuses. The next thing I really remember was Jeremy Gallon pretending he was in fact, a gallon rather than a pint. We were clapping, screaming, jumping up and down on a surface small and slippery; the biggest 5 foot nothing player you’ll ever see had given us hope. Also, Jeremy Gallon, I know you’re not reading this, but I owe you an apology. Whenever ND punted I did my best Smalls from The Sandlot impression when he sticks his glove in the air and Benny the Jet bats a fly ball right into it. “Please catch it, please catch it,” I would implore in your direction. I’m done with that. That was last year. You’re a different player, and you showed an incredible amount of heart. No more finger crossing from me. Apology to imaginary reader over.
Somewhere in the fourth quarter, during a TV timeout, I remember turning to my alum friend who was in town visiting, telling him to break out his cowbell again. He of course kept it after he graduated, its large dent still there from when I shoved him over in last year’s Illinois game in celebration. He picked up his drumstick, striped in alternate maize and blue tape and rapped out a “Go Blue.” He went through the appropriate number of verses, but I wanted more. “GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN!” I yelled, doing my best Dan LeBetard impression. The mood was right and I watched as people around me nodded emphatically when he struck it up again; they wanted more too.
Writing this is a lot more difficult than I anticipated - my thoughts are just so scattered. In truth, I’m not even going to touch the breakdown of Roundtree’s Braylon impression or Vincent Smith going HAM or any of that. What I will say now is that the next time anyone ever tells you that the Big House is a “wine and cheese” crowd, tell them to kindly shut the hell up. When Seven Nation Army came on, that place absolutely erupted. I’ve been to my fair share of college football games, including big time SEC matchups, and while I won’t say it was louder last night, I will say I don’t remember anywhere else being louder. I had goosebumps on my goosebumps. Anyone in a 10 foot radius of me got repeatedly throttled or hugged or high fived throughout every glorious or disheartening or breathtaking moment, and nobody cared. Why? Because they were all doing the same thing. Controlled, glorious, fantastic chaos. Want to say something negative about our crowd? How many stadiums stay brimming with tens of thousands for what, an hour after the game?
As I walked home, I just kept thinking about how people years from now will still talk about the 2011 Notre Dame game the way that talk about the most legendary of moments. The walk home could’ve been for 5 miles, for all I cared. I floated back. As I hydrated at my apartment to go celebrate fully, someone across the street was playing House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” On loop. For at least a half hour. And the only reason someone would’ve called the cops to complain was if they turned it off. I’ll never watch a Wisconsin game the same after that.
Trying to end this feels like trying to wrap up that game, which is an impossible task. It’s futile. Describe colors to someone who can’t see. Read every book ever written. Capture a unicorn. All pale in comparison to the difficulty I’m finding trying to write this. I guess there’s really only one thing to say. It’s great. To be. A Mich-i-gan Wol-ve-rine.