1/31/2008 - Michigan 32, Minnesota 52 - 10-ish minutes left, second half
I am one of those irritating people who makes it a point of pride to never leave a sporting event early. Since I matriculated at Michigan, I'm pretty sure the only time I've left a game early was during this dismal year, when I bolted with a couple minutes left in the Oregon game. And after those two weeks who could blame me? Or anyone? When not facing the imminent danger of perpetrating mass homicide, I endure.
I have seen Walter Cross run for 100 yards long after Donovan McNabb turned Michigan's defense into confused goo. (What remained of the student section gamely chanted "Cross is boss" as the minutes ticked off Michigan's futile grasp at respectability.) I have waited out 6-1 losses to Northern Michigan at Yost. I have sat in the world's worst-designed poncho and watched Michigan tackle a directional Michigan school -- which I don't remember and doesn't matter -- in the brief windows when the wind was not whipping said ill-designed poncho into my face and my newly-cleansed glasses had not been re-coated by the insistent, driving rain.
I have sat through it all, melting-hot September games against MAC foes and frigid, dull things against Northwestern and Purdue. Misery has little power over me.
This year, I've gotten through one of the five Michigan basketball games I've attended.
This latest was perhaps the most depressing sporting event I can remember. Michigan quickly fell behind by double-digits in a half-empty arena. The loudest group of people in the place were a hundred or so Minnesota students who had bizarrely decided to crash Crisler en masse on a Thursday night. At some point during the second half they chanted "our house" over and over; all I could think is "how goddamn far away is Minneapolis? Is it Thursday? What day is this?"
It was indeed Thursday; according to Google Maps, Minneapolis is 648 miles from Ann Arbor, 10 and a half hours by car. Seriously... what the hell? I can understand invasions from East Lansing or Columbus or, I dunno, Toronto or something, but Minneapolis? Don't you have better things to do than spend either 20 hours or hundreds of dollars to see your kinda-crappy basketball team beat up on Michigan's very crappy basketball team? Evidently not.
At halftime they had a 40th anniversary celebration for Crisler. Most of the 1968 team was there to receive the hearty applause that is their due. There was a great spiel about Rudy Tomjanovich, the star of that team and one of the names in the rafters at Crisler. He was not there, and that seemed appropriate. Cazzie Russell was, though, and that was sad.
Russell is one of those elderly gentlemen who radiates dignity and authority in their very mien. The nearest equivalent in my experience has been Red Berenson, who seems to terrify first-round draft picks into committing to Michigan merely by cocking his eyebrow. Russell has that sort of bearing.
So he stood with his bearing, and listened to his accomplishments -- which are many -- and was then told he stood in the House Cazzie Built and that seemed like kind of a cruel thing to tell a nice old man who never did you any harm. The House Cazzie Built is half-empty, overrun by bums from half a continent away, and home to a team likely to set records for futility.
Michigan has not so much as reached the NCAA tournament since 1998, an impressive feat matched by an ever-dwindling list of maybe ten major-conference teams. Being there is an act of masochism. But hey... new lights!
I have four more tickets sitting at a drawer at home; I don't know how many more of them I'll use.
- Speaking of the announcer guy... oh, God. At least 5% of the Crisler misery is because of him. I understand the arena is dead, but importing the PA guy from the Sioux Falls Skyforce isn't going to help things. The pizza giveaways SPONSORED BY DOMINOS!!!, the stupid free-throw shooting competitions, the fake cheer in the announcement whenever anyone makes a basket... none of this crap would fly at either Michigan Stadium or Yost. Michigan's always avoided the WOOOO THIS IS SPORRRRRRTZZZ presentation, except at basketball games.
Attention: this is not the D-league.
note: a few complaints about not being able to see the video. These clips are generated directly from the MGoVideo download of the game and so may be using supersecret awesome compression. I know asking this for a few video clips is lame, but if you download VLC it will play them. VLC plays everything. I'll try to figure out how to make the clips more user-friendly in the future. If you can't play them, please email/comment and indicate what you're trying to play them with.
EMO WEEK PRESENTS
the end of Ron English, Weis-level super genius.
This post's official song of woe:
Wise Up - Aimee Mann
This post's official clarification of "emo" as it applies to these songs: you've already had a tough enough week without me heaping Dashboard Confessional on you; also this would require me to have some knowledge of actual emo bands to do this. I am proud to say that I do not, and must make do with the more depressing recesses of my musical library.
This post's official August Strindberg quote:
Sometimes not seeing things can be a blessing.
Anyway. On with the show:
|O26||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|At the snap Michigan has a man over each receiver, a single deep safety, and two linebackers behind a four-man DL containing Crable, who played all of this game at DE. Terrance Taylor(+1) can't be moved despite a double. The play is fouled and delayed; the linebackers can converge without harrassment.|
|Two outside receivers drive off zone coverage, allowing the third guy on that side to run the slant-pirouette-out combo commonly referred to as a circle route and utilize that open space. (CA, 3, cover -1) Michigan stunts, BTW, and Taylor ends up falling down. If Edwards wanted to take off the entire back side was open. This will be relevant soon.|
|O32||3||4||5-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||68||Slant? (Replay)|
|Ugh. Johnny Sears(-1) turns his hips to the outside as this guy fakes going on a fade route and then cuts it back for a little slant designed to get the first down. Stevie Brown(-5) takes the worst angle in the history of angles, waving at this kid's ankles and turning an eight-yard first down into a touchdown. Welcome to Michigan Safety Hell. (CA, 3, cover -3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 11 min 1st Q. Seriously, what the *!. We've rotated through like five secondary coaches since Marcus Ray left and each one of them has had safeties who were complete bollocks.|
|O16||1||10||5-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||9||QB draw|
|Technically not Incredibly Surprising since it's the first time they've done it. Anyway, two deep safeties and our linebackers are in that half-split that indicates zone coverage. We stunt, opening up a big hole, and Ezeh (-1) is late reacting. Even if he's magically David Harris on this play the end result is likely the same, though: it's one linebacker in a sea of green versus this little nippy QB guy.|
|O25||2||1||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Penalty||-5||False start|
|Will Johnson(+2) defeats his block on a stunt and contains the QB; Crable(+1) comes up to help finish the play. Coverage caused the hestiation, this from Sears(+1). (Cover +1)|
|Can't find anyone. Cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q. Containment + coverage = punt. Savor this drive.|
|O35||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||6||Zone read handoff|
|Oh, the first of many, many, many of these that are infuriatingly successful. Corner blitz cuts off the outside but for some reason both of our DTs are slanting away from the LG-C gap. Johnny Thompson(-1) is hesitant and does not read the hole. And what the hell is Chris Graham(-1) thinking? He's setting up to take on a blocker, then decides that maybe the QB has the ball well after it's clear he does not and takes a couple steps upfield, running himself out of the play. Ugh.|
|O41||2||4||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|Unclear what happens on this play -- sadly, the BTN is just as retarded about showing blonde sideline reporters when the play is going on as other networks -- but by the time we're back to the action there's a significant hole on the right side of the line (it looks like we've stunted again) and the RB is squeezing up into it. It's unclear who slows him up by getting an arm on him, but the delay is enough to hold this short of the first down.|
|O44||3||1||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|They snap it quickly. Will Johnson(-1) slants up hard and collapses, opening up a hole. Our linebackers are tardy and allow blockers to get out on them; no chance we stop them here. A first indication we are totally unprepared on defense|
|O49||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|Four times in a row might be a little much. Terrance Taylor(+1) fouls the intended hole and prevents the RB from attacking anywhere his linemen might have a good angle to block a linebacker. Thompson finishes. No stunt this time.|
|50||2||9||5-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||8||Slip screen|
|Easy pickings as we have only two guys out here covering three wide receiver. Harrison gets blocked but does manage to force it inside, where Thompson can make a tackle downfield.|
|M42||3||1||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Penalty||-5||False start|
|M47||3||6||5-wide shotgun||>3-3-5 nickel||Pass||11||Slant|
|This guy is wide, wide open. Ridiculously so. (Cover -2). Jamar Adams pounds him after the catch but BFD.|
|M36||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read handoff|
|We have an extra guy in the box this time, Jamar Adams. Another stunt just gets a DT out of position and Shawn Crable driven way downfield. The presence of Adams prevents this from becoming a large gain.|
|M32||2||6||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||9||Zone read handoff|
|This is ridiculous. It's time to bring up the extra guy in the box and stuff the run, right? No. six guys and then a tenuous corner but he backs off to pay attention to the wide receiver. As result there's no one to fill when the guy cuts back (Thompson was blocked out of the play, -1) and squirts for a first down. I mean, seriously, let this noodle-armed kid try all the 40 yard bombs he wants, put a safety in the box.|
|M23||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||19||Option reverse|
|Brown gets suckered in and is way out of position, but it's Crable(-2) who gives up contain instantly in a futile pursuit of a quarterback who isn't coming back his way. Senior... senior captain. AAAAAAARGH.|
|M4||1||G||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||-1||Zone read handoff|
|Blitz into it. Yay. They're swarmed under by three unblocked defenders.|
|M5||2||G||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Penalty||-5||False start|
|What the #$%*. Seriously. This guy is sitting at the five yard line and he is open by five yards. There is no excuse for the coverage to be so loose against this team inside the ten yard line. Adams whiffs a tackle (-1, cover -3).|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 13 min 2nd Q. Completely inexcusable all around. Constant stunts when we should be able to run over their I-AA defenders, presnap position that leaves us dead and open to exploitation, complete irresponsibility by our senior captain, and then a coverage of OSU vintage that manages to leave a guy wide open inside the ten yard line.|
|M37||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|Drive starts in Michigan territory after M -1 yard drive, crappy punt coverage, and incredibly weak late hit fifteen-yarder. Chris Graham(+1) reacts to this before the AppSt guy does and makes a tackle somewhat near the LOS, instead of getting blocked five yards downfield.|
|M35||2||8||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||7||Middle screen|
|Graham(-1) fails to read this and since he's not slicing up to stop this as he releases he gets blocked and there's no one to recover.|
|M28||3||1||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read handoff|
|Bit of a cutback here. Crable's useless as a DE against the run, just standing up most of the time, and this hole is between him and a crashing Taylor. Thompson(-1) decides to rush up into a wad of players and then wave his arms at the passing tailback.|
|Coverage(+1) is good and QB can't find anyone. Crable(+1) chases him down after he decides to take off.|
|Pick play. This is again Stevie Brown(-3) completely failing to read the play and getting way out of position. There is no one to help. (Cover -2)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 10 min 2nd Q. Pretty sure this is Brown's last snap.|
|O35||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2 + 15||QB draw|
|Turns into five wide as the RB motions out. Tim Jamison(+1) does a good job of getting some push and filling a hole, tackling him and forcing him back into linebackers. Except for the 15 yard facemask. (-2)|
|M58||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||5||Zone read handoff|
|Hey, you know what's a good way to get Brandon Harrison(-2) to overrun a play? Ask him to do anything at all! Crable slants inside right at the snap ï¿½ stupidity? Run blitz? Dunno. That would be a good way to force the tailback into the waiting arms of Harrison if he ever did anything on a blitz other than run upfield really fast. He manages to recover, but only after turning what should have been a two yard loss into a five yard gain.|
|M43||2||5||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||9||Zone read handoff|
|I mean, you'd think we'd wise up by this point: there is no deep passing game here. But our safeties remain way downfield holding their penises, or, in Stevie Brown's case, trying very hard to grab his penis but falling down and watching it score a touchdown. Anyway: Taylor slant towards the playside, guy comes off him (zone blocking!) to pop Grahaam and the RB finds a seam on the weakside. But by God, we hit these $#ers hard after they pick up 10 yards.|
|M34||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||3||Zone read handoff|
|THEY KEEP RUNNING IT. A I-AA TEAM IS TREATING US LIKE MICHIGAN TREATS MAC TEAMS. WE ARE TOO STUPID TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. This is a virtual replay of the last play, down to the double in the hole, but Thompson(+1) actually does a pretty good job of standing up the blocker and collapsing.|
|M31||2||7||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read keeper|
|Graham(+1) does a good job of reacting to this quickly, filling the hole with authorita and allowing Crable to tackle.|
|Incredibly surprising quarterback draw. I hate Michigan football sometimes. Guess what we do on this play? Stunt our pretty little asses off. There are no linebackers within 10 yards of the guy when he crosses the LOS (really? Really this guy doesn't warrant a spy?) and he gets the easiest 20 yards of his life. Debacle.|
|M8||1||G||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Penalty||-5||False start|
|M13||1||G||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||6||Speed option|
|Hey, I've called this play in NCAA 08. Thompson(-2) idiotically blows up the QB instead of keeping contain. Adams(+1) does well to keep thi
s down to the big gain it is.
|M7||2||G||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|No hole on the frontside thanks to a good job from the DTs. Can't help but think this is a TD, though, if this guy cuts it to the backside. He doesn't.|
|I hate Michigan football. We're still stunting!|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, 2 min 2nd Q. Abomination.|
|Brandent Englemon(+2) reads this and comes up to stop it in the backfield.|
|One of two times in this game that Edwards just wings a ball directly to a Michigan defensive back. Trent(+1) is the recipient of an easy interception. Isn't this an indication we should have been daring this guy to throw? I guess that assumes that we would occasionally have a defensive back within ten yards of his intended receiver. Withdrawn.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 17-28, 14 min 3rd Q.|
|O24||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||8||Zone read handoff|
|Crable(-1) runs himself right out of the play. Both DTs hold their ground but do little else. Ezeh(-1) is hesitant and gets blocked downfield; Graham is keeping contain on the other side. Completely ridiculous. The last eleven plays: nine runs, a screen, and a horrible interception. Clearly we are not getting the job done with six guys in the box. Where is Adams?|
|TV misses this play entirely.|
|I will note that the last two times AppSt was in this formation, they ran ISQD. This time: ISQD. What. The. Hell. Ezeh is on the line, covering another OL. Graham... I don't know where the hell Graham is going but it's away from the quarterback. Gaping holes. I mean, seriously, I beg you to watch this play and the other two ISQD. We're the stupidest team on the planet.|
|O46||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||13||Slip screen|
|Same zone-read-fake to slip screen they ran earlier. This should be held down to a four yard gain but the runnerguy splits Graham(-1) and Harrison(-1) for a big gainer.|
|M41||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||-2||Slip screen|
|Exact same playcall but this one to the other side of the field. AppSt coach-man, you are now the owner of our women and I know whenever you call ISQD it goes for like a million yards, but NOT THIS TIME!!! Trent(+1) blows by the block attempt and buries this in the backfield. Morgan Trent isn't out of San Diego. Is anyone on the team out of San Diego?|
|M43||2||12||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2||Speed option|
|I'll give Harrison(+1) this: he contains the option better than Thompson did. With nowhere to pitch and Tim Jamison(+2) blowing a guy into his path, he aborts and cuts back. He gets a couple before Jamison hunts him down. Crable(-1) should have had him in the backfield but overran it.|
|M41||3||10||5-wide shotgun||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||27||Flag|
|Chris Graham has proven himself a pretty shitty football player, but you have to feel sorry for him when he's tasked with covering a wide receiver lined up yards and yards outside of im. Michigan sends four guys around the outside and leaves Will Johnson as a spy; the blitz gets there but it doesn't really matter because of the world's most obvious read. I'm all for this playcall as long as the guy in question is not Chris Graham but a cornerback. WTF. Do we have a dime package? The replay shows this idea in all its aborted fetus glory.|
|M14||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read handoff|
|No stunting this time, and no holes. Will Johnson(+1) pushes through and makes a tackle for a small gain.|
|M13||2||9||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||1||Zone read keeper|
|Crable crashes in and forces the QB to pull it out, but does enough of a job delaying him so that he can't make much. Graham(+1) keeps contain, forcing him back up into Ezeh for minimal gain.|
|M12||3||8||5-wide shotgun||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||Inc||Slant|
|Six guys cross the LOS; Edwards finds a completely wide open guy; he drops a sure touchdown. (Cover -3) How did this guy get so wide open? Adams(-2) and Sears(-2) both covered the same guy!!!|
|Drive Notes: FG(29), 20-31, 8 min 3rd Q.|
|M28||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||2||Zone read handoff|
|This is where the defense starts to turn effective until the game-losing drive. No stunt; Line remains tight; no holes. Jamison(+1) does the most work; both DTs absorb double teams and do not flinch.|
|Will Johnson(+1) discards his blocker as the ISQD approaches and grabs Edwards' leg; this slows him long enough for Thompson to get there and hold the gain down. Still: without this very good play from our DT, this goes for a first down.|
|No stunts; four receivers to the top side of the screen. Edwards' first read is covered (cover +1), and Jamison(+1) and Crable(+1) come in and sack him before any others can present themselves.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG (45), 20-31, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Linebackers now reacting more quickly. RB runs right up his OL's back. Graham(+1) had held up well to the block attempt. No stunting.|
|O16||2||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||15||Zone read handoff|
|Something we haven't seen before: pulling linemen. Both RG and RT pull around the center as both Dts get sealed immediately. Graham(-1) runs himself too far outside and puts himself in line to get smashed by the pulling guard. There's a major hole right up the middle. Again: where is the extra guy in the box? Look at this play selecton! The only downfield passes on third and long since forever ago!|
|O31||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Will Johnson(+1) and Terrance Taylor(+1) win the battle inside; no room.|
|One blitzer, no stunts, and no pocket. Freaked out, Edwards starts to scramble; Crable(+2) disconnects and punches the ball loose. Thompson recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 20-31, 2 min 3rd Q.|
|Behind the receiver; he makes a nice catch. Graham hits him soon after. (Cover -1).|
|O32||2||4||???||Nickel||Run||-1||Zone read handoff|
|...probably. I don't remember and TV doesn't show this play. Crable +1?|
|AppSt catches M off guard and gets a guy wide, wide open as the D isn't set. Edwards chucks it behind him. (Cover -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 26-31, 14 min 4th Q.|
|O41||1||10||3-wide shotgun||Nickel||Run||0||Zone read handoff|
|Adams drawn up for an extra guy in the box. They bring a WR in motion like they're going to run a speed option here but go with the same old standby. Taylor(+1) discards his blocker and makes a tackle at the LOS.|
|Thrown horribly wide. Missed route? Many of these receivers are young; the QB is a sophomore.|
|Receiver bracketed. (Cover +2) Edwards can't fit it in the tiny hole available.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 26-31, 11 min 4th Q.|
|O33||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||2||Slip screen|
|Same play they ran earler; would go for five or six but the player slips to the turf.|
|Coverage(+1) is good; Jamison forces Edwards up and Taylor(+1) and Crable(+1) converge.|
|Six guys cross the LOS and this time no one is wide, wide open. Unblocked Crable(+1) keeps contain and sacks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 26-31, 4 min 4th Q.|
|Another horribly misthrown ball directly to a Michigan defender. Englemon(+1) this time.|
|Drive Notes: Int, 32-31, 4 min 4th Q.|
|Corner blitz from Harrison is picked up; I believe they snapped this quickly to catch us off guard and it worked. Terrance Taylor(-2) is tasked as a spy on Edwards but ends up way too far off the line, sitting in nowheresville as a big hole develops. Insanely, he even steps well away from the obvious lane for Edwards to run up into. Thus enormous yards.|
|O44||1||10||4-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||-4||Double pass|
|Motions into five wide; supposed to be a trick play double throw here but the first throw is wobbly and by the time it's hauled in the receiver is swarmed under by Michigan defenders. He manages to gain a few yards and hold this loss down. +1 Ezeh, I guess, for reacting quickly.|
|O40||2||14||5-wide shotgun||Nickel||Pass||20||Short out|
|Two blitzers and this is just a short dumpoff that should be six yards except Jamar Adams(-2) overruns the play and slips to the turf. Result: 20 yards.|
|M40||1||10||5-wide shotgun||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||7||Slant|
|Again blitzing; again no short coverage. Ezeh(-1) misses a tackle; Johnson manages to clean up from behind.|
|This has to be some sort of sick joke. Again the blitz and again it's no use because there's no coverage(-2). Everyone is playing soft as if a touchdown is a bad thing at this point. More on this later.|
|Coverage is good for a moment; Edwards rolls out to avoid Jamison, and as he nears the sideline finds a guy abandoned by Ezeh(-2) for the dagger.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 34-32, 30 sec 4th Q. Oh, if only I could be surprised by this.|
How many profanities did you delete/change into $#! in this?
Three hundred fifty-two.
How did Michigan give up 34 points to a I-AA team?
Sheer wanton stupidity, lack of preparation, and an inability to adjust until it was too late. By late in the game it became clear that Edwards, while a fast little bugger, was as much of a danger to his own team as he was to Michigan when he sat back in the pocket and threw. This should be no surprise: he is a fast lit
tle bugger, a true sophomore, at a I-AA school. When Michigan deigned to have a man within ten yards of his intended target, he was often inaccurate and sometimes disastrously so. His only downfield (defined as 10+ yards) completions all day were the flag when Chris Graham was put in an impossible position and the final improvised dagger. Everything else was short.
And yet Michigan played a scaredy-cat zone with two-deep coverage most of the day when AppSt was grinding ahead with the same damn zone read handoff, which they ran 21 times. Twenty-one! They took what Michigan gave them. While the players bear a large portion of the blame here, the coaching preparation for this game was nonexistent. Even the "we were preparing for Oregon" excuse doesn't fly: Oregon runs nearly the same damn offense. I guarantee they line up in five wides and have Dennis Dixon run an ISQD three or four times. Defending a spread option draw or a zone read is absolutely basic. Appalachian State did not fool Michigan into a ton of broken coverages and missed assignments (though Michigan provided many of those on its own), it mostly just lined up and ran the same play over and over until Michigan proved it could stop it. Eventually, when the stunting stopped, the defense started chopping these down. By then they had given up four first half touchdowns.
Ron English no longer seems fit to coach a Pop Warner team. I mean, those guys can run the same play over and over again, too.
And the players?
Obviously Stevie Brown was not ready for prime time. He should call Sam Bernstein and get a lawsuit going against the Michigan Stadium turf -- he's proably got severe whiplash from two separate slip and fall accidents. Heck, Berstein's kid is already suing about the stadium edifice itself, why not go for the whole enchilada? Anyway, if you slapped a "21" on Brown, no one would be able to tell the difference between him and Ryan Mundy.
Johnny Sears was also culpable on the first Appalachian State touchdown, getting beaten by yards and giving up the inside in a snap. He wasn't even in a position to slow his opponent down on a five yard slant. The preseason hype on him is officially Grady Brooks.
Both were replaced. Brown got yanked after giving up his second touchdown in favor of Brandent Engelmon; Donovan Warren came in for Sears.
The other major culprits were the linebackers, all of whom were terrible. This is potentially forgivable for Ezeh, a freshman in his first game, but any hopes that Chris Graham doesn't suck go out the window. Johnny Thompson also had a bad day; Michigan's refusal to take David Harris off the field for even a moment last year now seems clear, as does the recruitment of Austin Panter.
Did anyone not soil themselves?
I don't know what to make of the defensive line. They sacked Edwards four times and harassed him frequently otherwise. Their performance against the run left something to be desired, though. art of that wasn't their fault, as they were often asked to stunt themselves out of position when an ISQD was coming, but there was a clear step down from last year. (Obviously.) I am unclear if the DTs or Jamison were responsible for any of the issues in the video above. It looks to me like both DTs took double teams on every play and mostly held up. Quick-reacting linebackers could have filled the holes in the line and held the gains down considerably, but I invite anyone with more experience/knowledge on the field to offer up their own opinions.
Also, Morgan Trent didn't do anything bad.
Where was Brandon Graham?
Graham had a lingering ankle issue that limited his time. He did come on periodically in the second half.
The emblem of stupidity, Crable had a good day with a bunch of tackles and a FF and a sack and a half but also was culpable on a number of plays, most egregiously the field goal of doom, upon which he blocked an outside guy instead of an inside guy... but I'm not entirely sure that's his fault. I'll expound on this more later.
What about this: "Everyone is playing soft as if a touchdown is a bad thing at this point. More on this later."
Ah, yes, Michigan's fundamental inability to understand game theory. It wasn't quite as bad as the Appalachian State coach nearly immortalizing himself with one of the all-time great blunders in college football history by kicking his winning field goal on first down with 30 seconds left, but it was pretty bad. On that play in question, the opponent is on the 33 yard line facing a second and three. There is approximately a minute left. In order, you fear:
- A moderate-length first down that puts them in chip-shot range
- A first down of any sort that puts them in makable FG range with the potential for another 10 or 13 yards
- The remote possibility this Edwards kid can bomb something down the field for a long touchdown.
Michigan blitzes six and then sets up a gentle umbrella zone that has no one anywhere near the simple out that gets AppSt the short first down and sets them up for the dagger. Michigan did a similar thing on the 20-yarder on second and fourteen, blitzing a ton of players but making it irrelevant because of soft coverage behind it. If Edwards has to hold the ball one second longer on either of those plays, he is buried under winged helmets. But combining a noodle-armed QB with a blitz and then "coverage" nowhere near the receiver in question is idiotic.*
*(Note that this is a great strategy on third or fourth down and long, when the picket-fence zone plus blitz usually results in a dumpoff that ends up short of the sticks. Using it on second down is dumb.)
Will shred us. Our linebackers are clueless, we're going to spend the entire game in a nickel against four and five receiver sets, and the Ducks' talent level is vastly higher than Appalachian State's. Only errors from Dixon will keep us from playing Purdue 2006 opposite them; thankfully Dixon is the kind of guy who makes tons of errors. I figure the preparation levels will be better, but I also don't buy that Michigan can not be prepared to defend 21 instances of a basic running play. The defense sucks.
EMO WEEK PRESENTS
This post's whiny music selection:
I Know It's Over, The Smiths
and this post's August Strindberg quote:
Happiness consumes itself like a flame. It cannot burn for ever, it must go out, and the presentiment of its end destroys it at its very peak.
|Appalachian State has eight in the box, and not even a soft eight: three linebackers and five DL. We get a fullback shuffle (yay! It's back!) and then our traditional zone left. Good blocking from everyone up front but the App St middle linebacker manages to get off the zone block (Kraus has disengaged from a successful interior zone) and grab Hart as he passes. OL grades out OK here.|
|I've come to hate this playcall a little bit because it's yet another instance of something that's totally predictable. Anyway: Manningham manges to slip past the first guy, who attacked arrington, but Schilling fails to cut his guy and he comes out to help recover, holding the gain down. (CA, 3)|
|M42||3||2||Weak I-Tight||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Replay of the first play, basically: successfully executed Boren-Kraus zone block. This time Hart cuts back for the first.|
|M46||1||10||I-Form||Pass||16||Massey||PA TE Out|
|PA draw fake suckers the linebacker in coverage on Massey; they collide and Massey shucks him. Henne has time and finds him wide open for a nice gain. (CA, 3) Jesus... they're so intent on the run game that Massey is amazingly wide open.|
|FB takes a shuffle step right before the snap, this to the weakside of the formation. I know this play works, but Jesus. Let's just tell them we're going to run to the weakside? No matter. For some reason the App St DT on the playside is really late reacting, allowing the Boren-Ciulla zone block to blow him way off the ball. Ciulla peels onto a linebacker and Moundros has no one to block at all. Pure pwnage from Boren here. Hart passed him eight yards downfield.|
|Hole is between Long and Massey, again Moundros is decoration.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0 M, 12 min 1st Q. This is how this is supposed to go: these 230 pound "defensive linemen" get obliterated. I wonder what happens later. I can't wait to find out! The thrill of discovery!|
|Henne does his check-w-fingers thing, getting AppSt to reveal a strongside run blitz. So Michigan goes to the weakside, again shuffling the fullback that way. Clever. This time the playside DT is quick off the ball and gets to Kraus before he can get doubled. No problem, this is a zone play, Kraus just pilots him upfield. But also quick was the weakside DT, possibly because the FB shuffle tipped him off on the playside, who evades Ciulla's cut block (-1 Ciulla) and fills the hole. Hart's attempted cutback is swarmed under.|
|The panacea! Originally a five-wide look but Hart motions into the backfield to pass block. Henne gets some pressure from the outside, stepping up and hitting Mathews on a crossing route. (CA, 3)|
|Somebody completely busts a blitz pickup... probably Boren. There are six guys at the line, one for each of the OL plus a guy hanging to the outside over Hart. The linebacker, lined up over Boren, blitzes as the DE drops off into coverage, but Boren sets up to block this DT. End result: three Michigan OL are blocking one DT, Hart correctly picks up the linebacker coming right up the middle of the field, and the backside linebacker is totally free. (PR, Boren -2) BONUS! Illegal formation on Michigan, declined.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 9 min. Let's have a race. Inexcusable mental breakdowns: 2. Michigan failing because they're totally predictable: 1.|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|Kraus(-2) gets driven yards into the backfield. Unbelievable.|
|Both Minor and Hart are in the backfield; Hart motions out. Why? Henne takes a straight drop and then tosses a screen to Minor. It's well set up, though I wonder why Minor attempts to seek out the tackler at the end of the run instead of cut behind a blocker for more yards. Vision questions? (CA, 3) Nice block from Kraus(+1).|
|Manningham gets a step or two on his guy and is open for a potential touchdown; Henne underthrows it and allows the DB to make a play on the ball. (IN, 1)|
|O42||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Mathews||PA Waggle|
|AppSt blitzes right into this; Henne throws it away. (PR, 0)|
|The 15-yard out that Henne can throw that makes him an NFL prospect if you ignore the other issues of today. A max-pro set with seven blockers held in; Arrington gets open and Henne lays it in there. (DO, 3)|
|Infuriating call: eight in the box, corners in Herrmann-soft coverage, and we just run it right at them. Totally unblocked linebacker submarines Hart.|
ed; DT just manages to get a hand on Hart and trip him a bit; he maintains his balance but is in no position to put a move on the safety.
|Excellent protection. Manningham sits in front of the corner and hauls it in. (CA, 3)|
|Run right into a blitz and gets blown up. Their rock, our scissors.|
|Touchdown. Easy. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7 M, 3 min 1st Q. IMBs: 2, FBTTP: 4|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Run||4||Hart||Zone left|
|Unclear why this play doesn't work; think it's because the DT to the playside successfully holds near the POA and gets Hart to cut back. He dodges one tackler and makes a few yards by himself.|
|Again with the Hart as fullback and then Incredibly Surprising Motion. This time the AppSt corner is lined up nose-to-nose with Manningham; Michigan goes at him. One hideously uncalled pass interference call later, third down. (IN? CA? I don't even want to chart this. 0, anyway.)|
|AppSt rushes seven(!!!) guys and Henne freaks out. If he steps to his left a little bit he's got Jake Long blocking some dude and Hart picking up a guy coming through the middle. Instead he rolls out to the right, into one of the blitzers, and has to take a long orbital path before dumping the ball OOB. Textbook example of the pocket awareness criticism. Still: seven guys. (TA, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-14, 12 min 2nd Q. Mmm, three and out versus Appalachian State. IMB: 3, FBTTP: 5.|
|Now starts the odd lack of Hart. This is sort of a zone play â€“ double on a DT with a linebacker peel â€“ but is definitely going nowhere but straight up the middle the whole way. Said double team works well; Moundros does okay and Minor goes N-S.|
|FB-shuffle weakside == run weakside. It looks like there should be a hole at first but things get jammed up. Minor hurdles a fallen Kraus and manages to lurch forward for the first.|
|Instead of seeing the first portion of this play we glance lovingly at Mike DeBord. It turns out to be a Manningham screen; he slips a guy and makes first down yardage. (CA, 3)|
|A dart. (DO, 2). Massey gets popped right afterwards.|
|FB-shuffle to side play goes to. This time the double comes from Long and Massey; Moundros buries a blitzer and Minor has an alley. Extraordinarily quick-filling safety comes up and holds this down, otherwise this is a first down easy.|
|Eight in the box. Odd. FB lines up on the weakside then sort of shuffles strongside. This is supposed to be some sort of counter based on the vectors of the FB and Minor... or I don't know what it is. It is incoherent, though. The blocking's all messed up and there's an unblocked guy right where Minor chooses to go. I can't even begin to sort out what the intent was here.|
|Corner does not bite on the pump or Manningham's route and makes this a very difficult ball to throw. Henne again a little short, allowing the corner to deflect it. (IN, 1)|
|O35||4||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Arrington||Deep out|
|AppSt again rushes seven; Henne just chucks it past Arrington. How about a slant or something? Do all of our pass routes have to take eighteen years? AppSt knows that we have no hot reads. They blitz with impunity. (harsh, but IN, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 14-21 AppSt, 6 min 2nd Q. IMB: still 3, FBTTP: still 4.|
|M33||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||2||Massey||TE out|
|A checkdown. (CA, 3). I tend to get less exercised about this than most. Sometimes you have to check down.|
|Easy throw and catch. (CA, 3). Coverage in prevent-y mode.|
|Same play. (CA, 3)|
|Pump fake does not get the DB to bite as they go a little deeper here with a similar route. Henne throws it slightly behind, allowing the DB to get a hand on it. (Marginally CA, 1)|
|O40||3||1||Ace 3-wide||Run||5||Minor||Zone right|
|Arrington comes in, acting as something of a second TE to the strongside. Boren-Ciulla block is very good and creates a hole for Minor to get the first.|
|A little high but catchable; Mathews goes up and gets it. (CA, 2).|
|All out blitz into this draw. No chance.|
|Mathews does appear to be pretty good, at least. (CA,3 )|
|No one open, I guess. (TA) Could have dumped down to Minor for a first down, maybe a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: FG(22), 17-28, halftime. In a glimpse of the disaster to come, the FG team lines up with only ten guys. IMB: 3, FBTTP: 5.|
|O39||1 >||10||I-Form||Run||11||Minor||Zone left|
|We actually run away from the strength of the formation after motioning the TE, catching their linebackers shifted away from the playside. This is very close to being no gain as Ciulla's guy hops over(-1 Ciulla) him when he goes for the chop block, but he can't quite get to Minor. Schilling and Boren (+1 each) both get second level blocks on linebackers, Minor cuts up smartly when the hole reveals itself, and it's ten yards.|
|Eighth guy in the box. Massey(-1) is stalemated a couple yards behind the LOS, which forces Minor to decide whether to take it inside or outside of him. Dunno what inside held, but probably not much. Outside doesn't, either, as Minor stiffarms a linebacker to get a couple yards.|
|Henne gets a blitzer, and though this is a screen he's completely unblocked and flies up the field. Still, rifling it 100 miles an hour at your tailback two feet in front of you is not good policy. It clangs off Minor's shoulder blades and ricochets into the air, but manages to get to the turf. (IN, 2)|
|Hits him right in the hands; dropped. Probable first down otherwise, definitely close enough to go. (CA, 3)|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 20-28, 13 min 3rd Q. Execution errors. IMB: 5, FBTTP: 5.|
|M11||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Pass||1||Moundros||FB flat|
|We call a TO before this play. Which is the first one of the drive. And then, the play itself... I have no idea why a fullback flat route is a good idea here. App St has eight in the box. The linebackers are rolled up tight to the LOS. All three of them step forward on the snap â€“ despite no play action fake! -- and massey plows into one of them, then Henne throws it to Mark Moundros at the sidelines for a yard. So, in conclusion: seven of the App St defenders have just opted out of pass coverage and there is going to be no pass rush. Solution: one yard fullback flat. I captured this play just so you could all see it in its glory. It is wondrous. (CA, 2)|
|M12||2||9||Ace 3-wide||Pass||6||Manningham||Slip screen|
|App St all over this; Manningham reverses his field and manages to turn this into six. Why have we not thrown downfield yet on either drive this half?|
|Lots of time; Henne finds his second read. (CA, 3).|
|M26||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||6||Minor||Zone left|
|Ciulla (+1) blows his guy way off the ball; Schilling (-1) falls at his feet uselessly. Moundros does okay on a filling linebacker as the gap to the backside opens up. Unblocked DE closes and gets enough of Minor to slow his progress. Minor does a good job of fighting for YAC.|
|M32||2||4||Ace 3-wide||Run||0||Minor||Zone left|
|Fumbles; never really got the handoff. One note... the App St linebackers are ridiculously overshifted to the strong side of the formation. We run there anyway. Henne clearly frustrated.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 20-31, 7 min 3rd Q. IMB: 6, FBTTP 5.|
|Has him; overthrows him. (IN, 0)|
|M28||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Pass||Inc||Massey||TE out|
|Henne forced to step up in the pocket as Ciulla(-1) is beaten but not enough for his man to come in and sack him. Henne's grabbed, steps up, starts running, and finds an open guy in Massey; throw is behind him. (IN, 1)|
|Pretty good coverage by this linebacker but there's a spot for Henne if he can hit it; he can't. Marginally CA... but (IN, 1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-31, 4 min 3rd Q. IMB: 6, FBTTP: 5.|
|Open; accurate; dropped. (CA, 3)|
|Same play. (CA, 3)|
|App St run blitzing hard to strong side, expecting a stretch. Instead it goes right up the middle. Kraus(+2) completely crushes his guy, just obliterates him. Moundros gets enough of a blitzer and Minor does a fine job of picking his way through traffic for the first down.|
|Straight eight in the box. Massey gets out on a guy; long has his guy under control; a charging linebacker comes up and meets Moundros. I'm not a huge fan of him yet. He submarines guys but rarely buries them. Again here he does this; Hart cuts back behind him. One chasing guy has been cut well by Schilling but another is still up. Hart does as well as he can, making two and then doing his Hart thing for a final three.|
|Hole this time shows between Schilling and Ciulla. At this point the Michigan line is really just mashing these guys. Schilling blows his man six yards downfield and by the time this play ends there's just a wad of players at the four with Hart sticking out one end.|
|This is just Hart being Hart. A guy gets playside of a guard and has him, but does not have him.|
|Hart offset; pass all the way. Henne fumbles the snap.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (PAT failed), 26-31, EO 3rd. IMB: 8, FBTTP: 5. Pulling away.|
|Drive starts way in AppSt territory after bad punt and 15 yard facemask. Eight in the box; FB shuffle strong side; zone left. Front side is pretty jammed up here but1) Ciulla (+1) flat kills his guy and 2) we actually block the backside DE with Schilling; is this intended to go backside?|
|This time a FB shuffle to the weakside, where we run. Moundros gets a good pop on a LB right up the middle, where Hart follows, leaping a defender who's getting cut.|
|O20||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Penalty||-5||Kraus||False Start|
|Only the second time we run the waggle all game and it's the second time they blitz right into it. Are we tipping this? I dunno. Anyway, Henne gets chased and then throws the most inexcusable interception of his career. Throw it away. Awful. (BR, 0)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 26-31, 12 min 3rd. IMB: 10, FBTTP: 6. I count the interception as both.|
|M24||1||10||I-Form Weak||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|No shuffle; we run FB side. Kraus(-1) gets beaten by a second level defender, who hits Hart a couple yards behind the LOS. Hart powers through the tackle attempt and that of another player for five yards that should have been a loss.|
|Weakside run. Intended POA is jammed with players; Hart manages to cut behind an awkwardly positioned Ciulla (actually facing away from the guy he's quasi-blocking). Schilling (+1) shoves a guy from behind, blocking off pursuit and eliminating both that guy and another trying to get to the ball; result is Hart in the secondary.|
|FB shuffle weakside. AppSt DE cuts up past Long and Kraus; Moundros has to take him in the backfield. He does, but the guy gets set up outside and prevents Minor from breaking contain. He cuts up into an unblocked linebacker. Ciulla is injured on this play; Ortmann enters and Schilling slides in to guard.|
|Boren(-1) gets beaten by the DT; Hart has to deal with him in the backfield. He gets around him and manages to burrow for a few.|
|Excellent protection; Mathews is covered very well on the cross but not well enough. (CA, 3)|
|FB shuffle weakside again; we run there. Hole is up the middle â€“ eight in the box â€“ and is pretty decent. Moundros' guy gets up off the block and makes contact three yards downfield; Hart drags him for three more. I don't like the way Moundros just sort of throws himself in the general direction of his targets.|
|Arrington lines up off the LOS.|
|Henne throws to a covered Mathews and has to force it in a tiny spot. Even if this is a catch it's for all of three yards. With time and only four rushers, he has to find someone else. (BR, 1)|
|Fine given the result, I guess.|
|Tries to fit this in a tiny spot between two guys. Massey is bumped before the ball gets there; this is interference as by the time the ball gets to Massey he's been spun 90 degrees. Mostly I'm focusing on a wide open slant for Arrington. (CA, 1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 26-31, 7 min 4th Q. IMB: 12, FBTTP: 6. This one's over.|
|M46||1||10||I-Form Twins||Run||54||Hart||Zone left|
|Kraus(+1) gets his guy sealed to the inside by himself, leaving Moundros and Long to block two Mountanieers, which they do. There's a gaping hole. Hart does the rest.|
|O3||Conv||3||Ace 3-wide||Run||1||Minor||Zone right|
|Minor slips; not that it matters much since this was getting overrun from the start.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown (PAT failed), 32-31, 4 min 4th Q.|
|O43||1||10||I-Form Strong||Run||6||Minor||Zone left|
|Kraus and Massey and Long create a solid crease for Minor, who runs through an arm tackle for a solid gain.|
|O37||2||4||I-Form Strong||Run||6||Hart||Zone left|
|Same play. Michigan gashing their line; Boren with a key block.|
|O30||1||10||I-Form Strong||Run||0||Hart||Zone left|
|Ortmann is given a tough assignment: block the DT inside of him. Instead he escorts him to Hart. Kraus has been beaten by the DT to his side; these two converge in the backfield and swallow this play.|
|O30||2||10||I-Form Weak||Run||5||Hart||Zone left|
|Massey lined up on the other side now. This is a stalemate on the frontside. Moundros comes in and plows a guy that Schilling is blocking, which takes out a linebacker in the wash, and opens up a hole on the backside for Hart to scoot into.|
|Completely inexcusable! You lead by one with 2:17 left and have two timeouts. Use one. There is no reason not to take a timeout here, and guess who can call them? Coaches. Inexcusable.|
|An uninspiring result, but there are only three receivers in the pattern and no indication of the availability of the others is made. There are good reasons to make this throw instead of chucking something questionable â€“ keep the clock running, get in better FG position, put yourself in a more makable first down. (CA, 3)|
|="8">Drive Notes: Blocked FG, 32-31, 2 min 4th Q. IMB +1.|
|Overthrows Mathews on a semi-open flag. (IN, 1)|
|Lofts up a punt Manningham runs under. (CA, 2)|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG, 32-34, EOG.|
13 Inexcusable Mental Breakdowns, 6 Failures Because They're Predictable. And the worst, the absolute worst, was the delay of game right at the end. Mindboggling. Not one player or coach thought that calling a timeout there would be a good idea. Without that penalty, the weak four-yard Mathews route turns that into fourth and one. Michigan likely goes for it, plows over AppSt for a first down, and escapes.
I know. Be strong.
Yeah. Brief check on Michigan's drives and why they failed:
- Boren protection screwup leads to third and short sack.
- False start, uncalled PI on Manningham, Henne freaks out as App St blitzes seven.
- App St blitzes seven on fourth and five; we have no hot read.
- Field goal. They blitz into a draw on first down; on third down Henne throws it away. Could have tried Hart if he wanted.
- Field goal. Henne rifles a screen into Minor's shoulderpads on second down; on third down a slant is dropped by Mathews.
- Three straight inaccurate passes by Henne.
- Henne throws awful interception on first and fifteen.
- Illegal procedure, decent Hart run, throw to a covered Mathews for what would have been three yards, scramble, potential PI on a deep Massey post that could have been an open Arrington slant.
- Hart touchdown.
- Blocked FG as we attempt to run out the clock.
- Blocked FG after prayer.
There are four touchdowns and the two blocked FG drives weren't really anyone's fault. Other culprits are Justin Boren(1), Greg Mathews(1), and then some combination of Debord/Loeffler/Henne on six drives. I don't really blame Henne for either of the blitz-seven instances because the play design had no answer for that. When you have three receivers, all of whom are running long routes, you're screwed. But the rest of it is on his shoulders. He completed 50% of his passes and averaged 6.2 YPA against Appalachian State, and he didn't even get that much pressure.
Awful. Michigan tried one non-waggle play action pass all day against a team with eight guys in the box constantly; on a few plays the linebackers actually started moving towards the line of scrimmage on a pass play without the assistance of a playfake. Massey should have been wide open on seams all day, but this was never explored but once. The one time Massey did get targeted after play action he was immensely wide open and Michigan gained almost 20 yards. But who needs play action against Appalachian State? Whoops.
Also, whenever Michigan shuffled the fullback they ran to that side. Without exception. And whenever Junior Hemingway was in the game, they ran. Without exception. If every Michigan fan can tell you certain things obviously tip Michigan's plays, what are the chances opposing coaches don't know this? Zero. Everyone knows what Michigan is going to do. This is something we've heard every time a bowl opponent is asked about us for the past half-decade and probably longer. It's an arrogant waste of expectation because you expect that you won't need to fool the other team. It's like playing poker without ever bluffing.
Given Appalachian State's blitz directly into Henne both times we tried a waggle and irresponsible seven-man blitzes that worked, it's safe to say that Michigan's predictability goes beyond the really blindingly obvious crap we've been observing for years and into the realm of deep exploitability.
(Legend for this one.)Way too many INs, but many of those were bombs that were just off. One of the BRs should be worth like six points, though, as it was the horrible interception that killed a Michigan drive.
A lot of items in the "1" category, which is a ball that would be a circus catch if hauled in. That's not good.
What, if anything, can we take from this game that is positive?
Michigan did perform as expected in the run game, grinding Appalachian State for 246 yards at 6.2 per despite continually facing eight guys in the box. Guys were getting blown off the ball consistently and it was only on occasion anyone could step forth and attempt to deal with it. And this was with Michigan virtually ignoring play action and tipping the direction of their runs half the time. Aside from one bust on the first drive, Boren did very well. Schilling was also decent. It remains to be seen whether this means anything against a I-A rush defense, but given Oregon's performance against Houston last week it also remains to be seen whether Oregon actually has one. And that goes for Notre Dame, too.
Greg Mathews looks like he's comfortable with Henne; Massey also was involved in the offense a lot.
What does it mean for Oregon?
We should be able to score points on them given their initial performance against Houston -- and that was no fluke given last year's crumble and the many problems they had in the offseason -- pending Henne's accuracy returning. He had Manningham four or five times and never hit him until the second to last play of the game. You can't always expect bombs to find their targets, but Henne proved more accurate than that last year.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
We, Michigan fans, surrender. A nuclear bomb by the name of Appalachian State has been dropped on us, and we surrender. You can have our emperor. He's a dickhead anyway.
We shall no longer fight you on grounds of program prestige or general awesomeness or tribal affinities. Your team is better. Even if it's Duke. Because your team, even if it's Duke, does not specifically aim to harm you. And even if it did there is only so much damage Duke or Northwestern or even Wisconsin football can do to someone's psyche, because losing is pretty much okay sometimes. And even at the big programs where losing is not okay there is often recompense, like beating your most important rival or winning a bowl game. And even when you aren't doing that shit, at least you're not doing this:
- Losing to Washington without yielding an offensive touchdown because you give up a field-goal-block touchdown and a deflected pick-six on back to back plays.
- Losing to Oregon because you give up a punt return touchdown and punt block touchdown in the same game.
- Losing to Iowa two weeks later because your grad assistant special teams coach debuts that crazy spread punting thing that was all in vogue without, apparently, bothering to fucking practice it first. Then Michigan failed to notice the first couple punts were nearly blocked and got not one but two of the later punts actually blocked.
- Losing to USC in the Rose Bowl. Not that this is news.
- Singlehandedly turning Troy Smith from a POS QB who couldn't put together 100 passing yards if you spotted him 50 into the destroyer of worlds.
- Blowing a 10 point lead and letting Texas march down the field for a winning field goal in the Rose Bowl.
- Blowing a fourth quarter lead against Wisconsin by playing passive and letting the Badgers roll down the field at a leisurely pace, scoring just in time to give Michigan no chance to recover.
- Yielding 61 yard run against fucking Minnesota because your genius defensive coordinator set up an insane blitz that had one line of defense from a simple off-tackle run: a linebacker who never plays defensive end lined up as a strongside DE against Matt Spaeth (MATT SPAETH!).
- Blowing a nine-point lead against Ohio State in five minutes.
- The Alamo Bowl.
- Attempting to cover Anthony Gonzalez with Chris Graham.
- Losing to USC in the Rose Bowl. Not that this is news.
- Aaaaand then:
Let the record show that Lloyd Carr never learns, and that you are right. We suck. We promise not to hope or expect anything except misery until someone named Tedford or Rodriguez or Schiano is coaching the team and to regard all good events as mere preludes to a fall. We are a defeated people. Give us your treaty. We will sign it.
Sorry. This will only happen once. (Unless you have cookies turned off.)
What do you do when your football team opens its season with the most infamous upset in college football history? You cry like a little girl. So, yeah: it's Emo Week on MGoBlog. Self pity abounds. Enjoy it, you worthless sacks of crap.
Comments were broken this morning but are fixed now. Lo siento.
- Top 9 games in Michigan history: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
- Deadspin-style regional previews: West | Northeast | East | Midwest
One of the unfortunate parts of college hockey fandom is that I have virtually no knowledge of anyone outside our league since it's impossible to get either CSTV or ESPNU on cable. So I can't tell you all that much about the Fighting Sioux except that Ryan Duncan shouldn't get the Hobey over Hensick. One thing I think may be in our favor: North Dakota's Toews-Oshie-Duncan line -- popularly referred to as "the DOT line" even though calling it the "TOD" line opens up all sorts of Flanders jokes, I mean seriously North Dakota let's get on the ball here -- is close to the be-all and end-all of their scoring. The Flanderses all score more than a PPG, but one other forward does more than 0.6 -- Brad Miller with 10-13-23 -- and he's an outlier. NoDak's fifth forward has 15 points on the season.
I'm generally not hockey-savvy enough to pick up on matchup issues, but this one will be glaring: watch who we put on the ice against the Flanderses. Since we have last change we have the luxury of putting Jack on the ice whenever Christianity threatens. Unfortunately, if the rest of the year is any indication this also means sending Matt Hunwick and his turnover machine onto the ice. If I was Red Berenson I'd break my pairings and send Mitera and Jack out there versus the DOT line, though both have played RD this year. I'm sure Jack can handle LD. This would be the world's most perfect situation to have Dwight Helminen around, too, but alas there is no equivalent shutdown center available. It'll be fascinating to see whether or not Red matches Hensick up against them or not. I think I'd rather see another line blend to get Cogs on the ice with Porter and Rohlfs, who are our most defensively responsible forwards. Cogs' backchecking is far superior to Hensick's just because he's Helminen fast and I don't want to see any Flanderses on an odd-man rush. I kind of doubt we'll see these changes, but there it is: my strategic plan for tomorrow. Shut down the Flanderses, try to get Kolarik and Hensick to hook up for a couple goals, and get the hell out of dodge.
And thus... hope. The cycle begins anew. Unlike last year's identical matchup, in which every reasonable Michigan fan expected a brief burst of pain and then a soothing white light, Michigan has a reasonable chance of beating North Dakota tomorrow. It's a shame that this team has played whack-a-mole with its fans' hopes, losing to Bowling Green or Lake State or Ohio State just when they seemed to be rounding the corner and pushing towards the Michigan hockey of old where no team would have prompted an insane burst of profanity just because Michigan had drawn them in the regional.
In my effort to make all Michigan sporting events as melodramatic as possible, I pondered some sort of hockey post about this team that was alternately titled "Hope Exists Only To Be Crushed" or "Hope Is A Thing That Flutters" as my manic-depressive fandom swung wildly from one pole to the other. A goalpost or two fewer against Notre Dame and we're in Rochester or Grand Rapids against some ECAC teams or Maine or something and hope is fluttering its ass to St. Louis to make hotel reservations right now. But just as our heads started poking its way out into the neon sunshine of the arcade, down came the hammer. And it's Denver and the absolute best team in the country and then a hotly debatable second and, uh, Air Force, and hope is a distant country with extremely strict entry visas and customs guys with submachine guns and a dictatorial type with a limp and a cigar and a 300,000 person rally, all of them screaming "Death to Michigan" with inflamed fervor. What a shame it seems that the JMFJ era and the TMFJ era will end with their respective figgins on gibbets a mile high, sending out a warning for any CCHA teams who dare venture west of Chicago.
But if TJ can just stickhandle through a couple guys and JMFJ can make the Flanderses ghosts and Sauer can just hold it together... so I'll watch. With a brick posed over a butterfly, I'll watch. Hockey's weird.