"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Big Ten referees all own Snuggies
Crimson and Crodcast. I appear on CrimsonCast talking about the game. I'm not very audible early, unfortunately.
FRAN! I ALREADY TOLD YOU THE MORTGAGE RATE WILL ADJUST IN FIVE YEARS HOW HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND
GET OUT OF MY BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK
(Iowa beat Penn State too narrowly for McCaffery's taste.)
Glory grasped. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl champs, man.
It doesn't get any better than this you guys.
Statistical indications. Dylan's hookup with Synergy Sports makes me all jealous and stuff, because he can tell you that Indiana's not real good at defending the pick and roll:
The Hoosiers rank in just the16th percentile nationally while defending pick and roll ball handlers. Michigan happens to have one of the best ball screen offenses in the country including the two best ball screen scorers in the league. …
For comparison, Ohio State – who stifled Michigan’s ball screen offense – surrenders just .56 PPP to screen and roll ball handlers (89th percentile) and .82 PPP to roll men (77th percentile).
There's still something that seems strange with those number since it seems impossible that allowing 0.84 points a possession on anything is, like, bad, but the percentiles are the percentiles. When it comes to the pick and roll, Indiana finds themselves squarely between Northwestern and Penn State:
Not where you want to be. Also note that Michigan's the best team in the league at defending the pick and roll what with their hard hedging.
Anyway, Burke and Stauskas's proficiency with the P&R will hopefully force Indiana to do things they don't want to—like play zone—or lead to lots of that scoring stuff.
Dylan also brings up a salient point from last year: Crean put Christian Watford on Burke, like, a lot. Given the relative success Illinois had at holding Burke's numbers down by switching Nnanna Egwu onto him in the pick and roll we might see something similar, at least until Mitch McGary rebounding against Yogi Ferrell becomes a bit of an issue.
More indications of how this is probably going to go. Barry Alvarez is on record that he would like to see Wisconsin play Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska yearly in the Rhombus of Hate. Add that to the pile of evidence suggesting the Big Ten will tear up the Where Is Wisconsin and Why Is Wisconsin Here divisions for the conference's brief stop at 14 teams.
Speaking of The Big Ten, Too model:
“Based on the last three years I’ve been in this business, you’d be crazy not to think about it," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said. "But it’s hard to model anything because you don’t know what to model. The minute you get yourself convinced that you’re going to go from 14 to 16, for all you know you’re going to 18, and a lot of people think the ultimate landing place is 20. Who knows?"
I guess it's a better ideal than this bit.
Gene Smith's still pushing for ten conference games, BTW.
Frieder: still mad. Bill Frieder's been making the rounds this week and seems to have a little bit of bitterness left over from his matchups at Assembly Hall back in the day:
"The hostility of that crowd and everything else you have to go against at Indiana (is tough)," he said. "You usually won't get good officiating at Indiana, you usually get a bad call or something bad with the administration along the sideline. There's something to do with the shot clock or the clock not starting on time.
"You'll have everything going against you, so you'll have to play extremely well to win the game. ... When you play Indiana at Indiana and they're a top five team, you're going to be the underdog, no matter where you're ranked."
If the second half goes anything like Illinois's against MSU last night I won't stop twitching for weeks.
Etc.: MSU guard Travis Trice apparently fine after nasty hit to head last night. More on the "catfishing" story, which I stopped caring about a lot faster than everyone else. Everyone's in a tizzy about whether in fact the term was used. Indiana-Michigan previews from Inside the Hall and the Crimson Quarry. Also UMHoops.
11/26/2011 – Michigan 40, Ohio State 34 – 10-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Odoms via the Detroit News. Koger/Fitzgerald and Denard via Eric Upchurch.
Slightly more than a week ago, people better-prepared than I commemorated the fifth anniversary of Bo's death. I remember where I was, sitting in the room I was renting in a house that would be foreclosed on as Tom Orr, a Buckeye fan whose wife still worked for the TV station Bo did a show for, emailed me the things I didn't want to hear.
I had a thing I'd mostly written the night before about that year's Game, the one I did and still call Football Armageddon. It was an overdramatic thing based on a Sufjan Stevens song about the apocalypse. I wasn't sure about it. As I read it, panicked because I had to say something and what would I say, two things occurred to me. One, that the overdramatic thing was now on point. Two, that the part I hadn't written the night before about my father burning into coal—because it was impossible to—now sat there, obvious.
Ryan Van Bergen was in high school. He'd committed to Lloyd Carr months before. He was going to Michigan, fergodsakes. David Molk had ten thousand zits on his face. He was going to Michigan, too. Neither had the slightest idea.
Four years and two coaches later, the two of them sat in a room. They decided. What they decided was: that was not happening again. They decided they would stay. They loved Michigan, and they weren't going out in a disjointed mess. Their new coach reinstated an old tradition and they became captains unlike any in 40 years. They found their own way. There was no one save Brandon Graham to learn from, and there's only so much Brandon Graham can do.
I'm not really sure how or why but Denard Robinson stayed, too. It's possible Molk threatened to kill him.
In these decisions, in these moments, in these actually-kind-of-idiotic thought processes that led all of these players to stay here for a second or third coach, in a place that too easily booed them when they failed to live up to the expectations set for them, Michigan became Michigan again.
What is Michigan but a succession of players who chose the winged helmet and spent their four or five years in it trying to perform to the level previous players had? And how difficult would that be when your predecessors had either not lived up to that standard or abandoned you? Who was Ryan Van Bergen supposed to look up to?
By the time everyone else came back, Molk and Van Bergen and Martin and Koger and Woolfolk and the rest of the roster had already decided. Amongst themselves, for themselves.
This program needed that to pay off. It needed to stop feeling sorry for itself, being at war with itself, sabotaging itself, stop hopping on the radio to trash this that and the other, stop needing to be trashed on the radio for this that and the other. It needed to finally bury Bo, and move past the strife caused by his absence. Only one thing could do that: beating Ohio.
They did, and now there are legacies.
That picture is David Molk to me. Hugging his quarterback and killing a press conference. Sealing a blitzing linebacker on a second-half stretch. Piloting one of the best rushing attacks in Michigan history.
That picture is Ryan Van Bergen to me. Destroying that Indiana drive after botching the call on the line; leaving OSU with his winged helmet thrust as far in the air as his 6'6" frame would take it.
Amongst the tackiness, that was real. That's what I waited for. One story of redemption from someone who did nothing wrong. I've sneered at the "Michigan Man" concept ever since it became a cudgel to use against the wrong head coach. The idea there was anything particularly special or deathlessly loyal or kind or mature about the program's alumni was ridiculous after the way the last three years played out. But no more.
These are Michigan Men; this is their season.
After the game I loitered at my family's tailgate until the champagne was gone and then walked home. These days I make the walk to and from the game by myself. The people I used to walk with aren't around anymore.
At first this seemed lonely. I remember walking down Packard behind a father and his kid after The Horror. An elderly guy who kind of seemed stoned came out onto his elaborately flowered lawn and asked "they didn't really lose, did they?" The father nodded ruefully; the elderly guy shook his head. I remember getting body-checked into a car after last year's State game. I remember shivering the whole way after Northwestern '08.
On Saturday the sky was slate, the gunmetal November sky that goes with head coaches in shirtsleeves and sleet and the grim reconciliation with the elements via which the Big Ten footprint acknowledges both winter and mortality. Being outside, in Michigan, in late November, is usually a defiant variety of stupidity—a last taste of being outdoors before December closes in and the world becomes a thing briefly tolerated between heated areas. In the Midwest, football is to winter what spit from a condemned man is to a firing squad.
Saturday was also warm, warmer than any Ohio State game in memory. As I walked, alone, past the lurid green turf the field hockey team plays on I watched fathers play with sons. A tailgate across the tracks provided play-by-play as I passed by: a speed option the kid playing quarterback turned into a trick play by going out for a pass after he pitched. He was open; he dropped it; I filed it (CA, 3, RPS +1). The tailgate burst into sympathetic "awwws."
I kind of lost it passing behind the bleachers, just then. I came out the other side, and looked back, and saw two #16s and a #1 running around, catching and throwing, four-foot-five at best. Mottled clouds passed overhead. Two shades of gray were pushed by wind. It seemed to me like the closer, darker ones were giving way to the lighter background.
It felt like spring.
Photoset from Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer:
This is a great shot you might see in next year's season preview:
Molk brought his trident:
WE MUST EAT
Pregame hype video:
Give it to Old Hat Creative. Two consecutive years these have been great. Aaand JBrons provides a panorama:
BRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. 14/17 for 10 YPA, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 170 rushing yards at 6.5 YPC and two more touchdowns… uh… yeah. It was Denard Robinson's day. If he'd played like that week-in, week-out he's in New York and Andrew Luck is asking for his autograph. Alas, it was not to be.
Robinson didn't eat up passing yards with screens or long busted coverages, either. His long on the day was the 28-yarder to Dileo that CJ Barnett jumped. That's a disaster if it's even a little bit off; Denard made an NFL throw into Dileo's outstretched hands. The post TD to Hemingway was a 20-yard dart and the Odoms touchdown was thrown into space so tight I'm not even sure you could call it a "window." It was more like a keyhole.
Hypothesis: do you think Borges did something to Denard's throwing motion? That might explain his progression from inept in the nonconference schedule to decent, if limited, in the Big Ten to assassin against OSU. If Denard can extend that performance across a season… holy pants. The scrambles and draws have opened up for him the past couple weeks because his passing has been enough of a threat to demand attention.
Honorable mentions: Brady Hoke (for reasons discussed below), Al Borges, Fitzgerald Toussaint.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
3: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State)
2: Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue, Nebraska)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).
Future annoying conversations may be (unsuccessfully) pre-empted by "Ohio State 2011." On the podcast last week we talked about Hoke's natural aggression and how there would be a point in the future when it does not work out, thus spawning a week of extremely annoying conversations. This game is an uzi in the math camp's arsenal.
Hoke went for it on fourth and one on the OSU 40 in the first quarter. Hopkins got it easily and Michigan punched in a touchdown. Ohio State punted on fourth and four from the Michigan 36; Michigan moved the ball to midfield before the disastrous Hagerup non-punt set Ohio State up with the same field position they'd have had if they'd picked up the first down. Later, Fickell kicked on fourth and goal from the Michigan four down six.
I punched all these decisions into Advanced NFL Stat's fourth down calculator; it spat out that Hoke was right and Fickell wrong with a total margin of 3.2 expected points and a total shift in win percentage of 7%*. And their assumptions are based on NFL models where four yards to go is an automatic passing down; taking the game situation into account (it's spread mad college and both quarterbacks are unstoppable on the ground) it seems like much, if not all, of Michigan's final margin of victory came from the decisions the head coaches made.
How much more of a travesty is the Toussaint overturn if it puts Michigan in fourth and goal from the 25 down four? Orders of magnitude. How confident are you that Michigan wins that game without the offense ripping down the field in the fourth quarter? Not at all. Michigan does not win this game without…
*[I know you can't just add WP differences up like that but the differences are small enough that it shouldn't matter.]
Controlled aggression. How would you characterize the first year of the Hoke era if given only two words? I don't think you could do better than sniping a couple Hoke used to describe Denard's game:
"Denard went out there as a quarterback of Michigan and went out there to help his teammates and be accountable to his teammates. He couldn't do it by himself and no one ever does, but I thought he played an aggressive, controlled football game."
Controlled aggression. From Mattison's okie blitzes that get an unblocked guy while dropping seven to Borges going for points in the fourth quarter Saturday to Hoke's decisions to go for it on fourth down to Hoke's ability to not strangle Hagerup (better man than all of us), "controlled aggression" is the story of Michigan's 2011… and its future.
I could not have been more wrong about Hoke. He's not the milquetoast win-by-not-losing sort. He's not even average. He has a gut feel that is on par with every RPG minimaxing engineer out there. Forged by the fires of MAC defenses, Hoke has learned to push when he should and pull back when he should. I would not want to play poker against him.
I know Hoke talks about toughness and physicalness even if the latter isn't really a word, and that's fine and important. It's half of the equation. The other half is putting your guys in position to take advantage of that. Hoke does that. MANBALL: pretty much not pejorative anymore.
Speaking of the Toussaint overturn. So the overturn at the end had the stadium baying for blood. Mike Pereira on that:
Why they even considered overturning this as a touchdown, I’ll never know. There were two definitive replays that the booth had to look at, and in my opinion, one showed that the ball might have been a foot short and the other one looked more like it was a clear touchdown.
This decision seemed to be based on the first angle only. Even that, to me, was not conclusive, because when the video was stopped it was not clear whether the knee was down.
Pereira also tackles the Odoms catch/recatch that got Michigan down to the six, saying it was the right call. Myself, I'm not sure why they reviewed it or why it took so long. I do wonder how you align this logic with the Junior Hemingway 49% touchdown against Iowa:
The fact the ball hit the ground does not make the pass incomplete. It becomes a question of maintaining possession. Odoms’ hands remained on the ball, and though the ball moved a bit, he did not lose possession. In order to reverse this ruling, I think you have to see the ball come out of his hands after it hit the ground.
I think ball hitting ground should be no catch unless you've already made the proverbial football move. That's clear. What we've got now is ambiguous.
And, then after the game, the fans just like, start banging their hands together. Michigan's grenade celebration caught the ire of Zach Boren:
"I lost so much respect for michigan after they won [and] threw the ball in the air acting like it was a grenade.
This is a great rivalry, and to take it to that level of disrespect is just so uncalled for. Act like you have won before [and] treat this rivalry like it should be treated."
Their family would never participate in anything so crass as celebrating amongst their teammates. They are a respectful bunch.
A stoic group of respectful people, those Borens.
[HT on the bolded zinger to MichFan1997.]
To get the bags of urine thrown at you you have to be in Columbus, though. Atmosphere skeptics will not be cowed, but this is high praise from a guy who would know:
The OSU-Michigan game today was the closest thing to a big soccer game I've ever been to. Kept thinking of USA-Mexico in Mexico.
Carey has been to USA-Mexico in Mexico, which… whoah. That is a hell of a comparison to make.
Weekly Borgeswatch. Beat up or not, that was an Ohio State defense that entered the game 16th in total defense and 12th in FEI*. Michigan rolled them. Eliminate the Hagerup disaster, a sack, and the kneeldown and Michigan averaged 6.4 YPC. Denard hit 9.8 YPA. They should have scored 44. They won that game with a functional turnover margin of –2—the Hagerup disaster is a 60-yard loss of field position and the Avery INT was superfluous—and their defense giving up 34. That's fantastic.
Borges's last three weeks have been superlative. It's still frustrating that a couple of poor gameplans cost Michigan against MSU and Iowa but Borges corrected course and lit up defenses ranging from excellent to okay the last three weeks of the season. Before the season I predicted that Michigan's YPC would drop by a yard; with the bowl game to go it's only down about a quarter of that. Passing efficiency has dropped (23rd to 39th) but YPA is actually up a couple tenths of a yard. The interceptions are the major issue, and a decent chunk of those featured wide open receivers the QBs ignored.
Some regression was expected even if Rodriguez stuck around, so the net transition cost on offense kind of seems like… zero. Fumbles have been a huge factor (last year: 29, 14 lost; this year: 17, 6 lost) and I don't think there's a whole lot of coaching in that, but at this point there's no denying Borges has kept the offense humming.
Imagine how good they could have been with bubble screens! [kidding! srs.]
*[Although… I'm getting suspicious of that metric when it has Rutgers #1 in defense and Miami(!!!) #2 in offense. Miami hasn't gone over 20 points since beating Duke; they lost to FSU 23-19 and to BC 24-17. They beat USF 6-3 and are 73rd in total offense, 64th in scoring. There is no combination of circumstances that could make them the #2 offense in the country. FEI is failing sanity tests this year.]
BCS hootenanny. Michigan actually fell a slot in the BCS standings this week thanks to Wisconsin turning Penn State into paste. They're 16th; they need to creep up two spots* to be eligible for hypothetical Sugar Bowl against Houston. One of those is a given since the Big Ten title game loser will fall behind them. The next is likely as long as Georgia loses the SEC title game.
If Georgia doesn't things get dicey. Then you're hoping for Iowa State to beat KSU or Oklahoma State to annihilate Oklahoma to the point where disgusted voters drop them immensely. With KSU a 12 point favorite and Oklahoma State a 3.5 point favorite, neither of those things seem particularly likely. Baylor is also a threat to jump Michigan if they beat Texas—if it's close the computers will likely side with the Big 12 team. Baylor's favored by around 3. MFan_in_Ohio has a complete rooting guide.
The only scenario in which Michigan feels entirely safe is Georgia and Baylor both losing. Anything else and it's going to come down to the margins. Not getting the BCS game would be disappointing, but mostly from a program prestige point of view. The likely opponent would be better in the Citrus: Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina. Also, New Orleans vs Orlando is a blowout.
If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the Bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings,
Otherwise it's top 14.]
Fitzkrieg* III. If Brady Hoke gets It, Fitzgerald Toussaint has It. Fitz is averaging 5.8 YPC this year and that's with a majority of his carries coming against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State. That is tied for the 14th best YPC in a single season (100 carries minimum) since 1949 and the second-best since Biakabutuka's 1995 campaign. (Denard's 2010 beats him out at an incredible 6.6 YPC. Tyrone Wheatley's 1992 season stands alone as the best in Michigan history. Wheatley picked up 1357 yards on 185 carries—eleven more than Toussaint had this year. He averaged 7.3 YPC. Holy pants.)
[active players bolded. also players from the last 15 years.]
Adjust that for schedule strength, and… well, Toussaint is pretty good, especially when Denard Robinson is taking a lot of attention for himself. If Michigan can find a tight end (possible) and adequately replace Huyge (likely) and Molk (er…), an Al Borges with a year of experience dealing with these guys could put up some silly numbers.
Have to keep that line healthy, though.
*[Now spelled right and everything!]
I'm just sayin'. Fitz did bust a long one on I-Form power late, but it didn't exactly go as planned:
That cuts behind something that's supposed to be a downblock. Usually that's doom, though not when you've blasted the DT five yards downfield.
With Denard and Toussaint propelling Michigan to its best running game since the Big Ten was only vaguely competitive, can we assert that running quarterbacks do work in the Big Ten and that the spread is a pretty good system for running the ball? After all was said and done, Michigan beat OSU—put up more points on OSU than they ever had—by running a shotgun centered offense that tore it up with the inverted veer. Kudos to Borges for adjusting; I hope we don't say "that was interesting" and go back to statues for the next decade.
I say recruit 'em all and let Borges sort 'em out. Mobile QBs who don't pan out can turn into Marvin McNutt; I don't think M should turn down Shane Morris but if there's a Devin or a Denard around… man, this stuff really works.
Everyone's spent the last year comparing this offense to RR's last one, and saying there's no dropoff. That's true. Now let's compare it to the Carr offenses featuring oodles of NFL draft picks. Hmmm.
Facepalmin': THE REVERSAL. Facepalm guy after the OSU game:
That's goddamn right.
Epic photobomb. Via the internets, here's Josh Garnett, Jake Long, and Eric Magnuson* plus a Heisman-level photobomber:
The wife saw this picture and said "why does Jake Long look strange" and I said "because he's next to people approximately his size."
*[Hockey fans will appreciate that I almost called him "Kevin." #hardcore]
Where are the safeties? So the disturbing thing about the game was Braxton Miller trashing the secondary. It could have been a lot worse than it was, but Miller's accuracy rating is still in the 50s so he overthrew a bunch of dudes.
No one was exempt: Floyd, Countess, Woolfolk, and Gordon each got burned (Kovacs was mostly used in the box and did not have an opportunity.) Some of that is Michigan showing a consistent one-high and Bollman exploiting that with receivers that, for the first time all year, seemed way more athletic than Michigan's secondary. Other parts were just inexplicable, like whoever the free safety was on the first touchdown sucking up on a covered Posey instead of covering the deep guy. I'll have to check the tape; I'm kind of concerned this is an '06 situation where whoops we have this huge throbbing vulnerability.
Floyd getting suckered on a double move on OSU's last drive was the worst. Have to stay over the top then and make Miller execute his way down the field.
Special K's magnum opus. Piping in "Build Me Up Buttercup" during Ohio State's final drive. Well done, you flatulent twit. Eleven Warriors:
"Sweet Caroline"? "Don’t Stop Believin’"? Nice traditions you’ve got there. I didnt think anything could make the car keys thing less embarrassing. I stand corrected.
Chris Grovich of BSD:
Note how lame the Big House is with Journey blaring? That's you, Penn State gameday experience. A million times over.
Apparently Hunter Lochmann openly admits he's courting casual "families of four from Grand Rapids." Court casual fans and you get casual fans. Michigan's athletic department has no understanding of how to build long-term loyalty. The concept does not occur to them.
I would like to point you to Those Who Stayed, the post-Minnesota game column, again.
The play of the game, or at least one of them, is not recorded in the boxscore in a meaningful way. After Hagerup’s failed 4th down conversion, osu took over at our 31. They got down to our 5 yard line, and had 1st and goal. A couple strong defensive efforts lead to 3rd down.
On the next play, according to Chris Spielman (we were never shown this,) osu tried their TD pass to Stoneburner play, the one that got him TDs on ~ half his receptions this year. Only this time, Kovacs stayed with Stoneburner, and forced Miller to keep it. Jibreel Black (Jibreel Black? Yes, Jibreel Black) kept outside leverage, wrapped up Miller and forced the FG.
At the other end of the field, we did the same thing, only their 3rd string strong safety, Storm Klein, bit on the playfake leaving Koger wide open for the TD. (It may not have been Storm Klein, but for the purposes of this narrative, I’m going with Storm Klein.)
It was Zach Domicone, and it only serves him right for being such a tool on special teams. More than once I saw him attempt to goad Michigan players into personal foul penalties, but no sale.
I am also tweaked for the option fumble when they finally ran it with Odoms in motion, which fair enough. Denard got instant pressure which made the pitch a difficult one and the corner was wide open. Hopefully they get that straightened out eventually. Also we totally need to add the Braxton Miller speed option-whoops-seeya play.
Fitz Toussaint - Denard is light-years more effective with a true home-run threat in the backfield with him. The read option becomes almost impossible to stop if read correctly. Only having 2 negative yards against Ohio in 20 carries is remarkable. It is a crime that the zebras took your TD away, go get 3 next year.
There is narrative about the point that doesn't work with a blockquote but is worth clicking through for. Also more Hagerup hilarity.
[escape pauses gifs]
And MichiganMan2424's cool story bro about meeting Fitzgerald Toussaint's mom on his way home from the game spawns other cool stories on the board.
Media, as in unwashed blog masses. Hoke pointing from Hoke Points and the AP:
MGoVideo provides a Hoke Nyan Cat:
We need one of these with a Denard head and football body, I think.
Michigan fans had hoped for an easy victory over Ohio State. A blowout. A cake walk. But that's not how good stories are told. Even ones written not on the page, but between the lines of a college gridiron. For after 7* consecutive losses, the task was too important. After three years staring into the football abyss, the final push toward the mountain top demanded it be the hardest.
The hero's journey must never be easy.
For future reference, reasonable Joseph Campbell reference == autolink.
Sap's decals. TWB bullets. MVictors bullets plus cookie photo. Maize and Go Blue recap. TTB bullets. MZone autopsy. Holding the Rope gets the word "gyre" in there, one-upping Maize and Blue Nation's "whirlwind." Smiling Kovacs hug leads The Michigan Fanatic. BWS column.
The HSR is all in my head with their theme:
If you're a Michigander, you know that winter is miserable. As much as the first snow fall of the season might be entertaining and even maybe a little bit pretty, while snow days may be a nice respite from the daily grind, the reality is that it's cold, dark, wet, and miserable. You stay inside, you may get seasonal affective disorder, and you wait for spring. You may be so desperate for any sign of spring, you seize false hope, only to see the snow return with a vengeance, the darkness fall. No matter what the calendar says, the end of winter is a feeling and you know it when it happens.
Forever Saturday leads with the Van Bergen photo above:
I was briefly concerned yesterday that I would wake up at some point and realize that it was all just a dream and Michigan had in fact not beaten Ohio State for the first time since shortly after I graduated high school. It's Sunday now. It's really over.
The words: I do not have them. I just keep telling people "Michigan beat Ohio State!" and making weird sounds that apparently are some combination of exhilaration and relief. That's all I can do after that.
The national view comes from Jacobi:
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan beat Ohio State. Wait, let's try that again: MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE. The 10-win season is absolutely nice for the Wolverines, but they've been circling this game on their calendars since time immemorial, and to get a win in this rivalry after eight years of futility is a major, major accomplishment for Brady Hoke and his charges.
LOSER: Michigan's classless fans
Look at them, rushing the field and celebrating after Michigan beats a 6-6 team. Act like you've been there, guys, right? The nerve of it all!
We're kidding, of course, because the cathartic value of a win like that, erasing eight years of misery and futility hard-wired into to Michigan's identity as a football program, would be off the charts even if Ohio State were coming into the game 0-11. But we're still talking about a bowl team here in OSU, and one that gave Michigan all sorts of fits over the course of the game. You have our full blessing on this field-storming, Michigan. And if anyone says otherwise, well, haters gonna hate. Feels nice to have haters again, doesn't it?
Yes. Exactly. Boren butthurt tweets == Tears of Unfathomable Sadness. So sweet.
In the context of the entire season, though, it was an exclamation point on a legitimate return to form. Unlike 2007 and 2008, the Wolverines didn't endure an embarrassing flop against a major underdog. Unlike 2009 and 2010, they didn't blow their fast start with a depressing November fade against the meat of the Big Ten slate. They were never blown out, and after their dramatic comeback to beat Notre Dame in September, none of their subsequent wins were close. Last week's evisceration of Nebraska was Michigan's best game in five years, a complete win over a real opponent, and the first unmistakable line of demarcation between Brady Hoke's first team and Rich Rodriguez's last.
Media, soon to expire variety. Dispatch, you disappoint but do not surprise:
You tools should have the MANBALLS to reverse your cute little counter, but since you don't have the resources to find out anything about OSU's compliance, or lack thereof, it's not a surprise you don't. You suck.
It probably was tougher and crazier than they expected, but when the Wolverines finally beat the Buckeyes 40-34 Saturday and the fans swarmed the field, one thing was clear: It's back on, mercifully and manically.
Reset the clock. Reset the rivalry. After seven straight losses and 2,926 days, Michigan ended the agony against Ohio State and took another big step back to national relevance.
Michigan had just ended an eight-year drought — it was 2,926 days, to be exact, as coach Brady Hoke's sign not-so-subtly reminded his players inside Schembechler Hall — by beating archrival Ohio State. And Michigan's senior class had just ended a perfect home season the way few, if any, of them could've imagined.
So as the students came streaming onto the field to celebrate in Michigan Stadium, and the Wolverines started running off it to do the same in their locker room, a trio of defensive linemen — Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger — lingered just a bit longer.
Mienke assembles facts about Denard Robinson's day:
Robinson's five touchdowns are the most by a Michigan player in one game against Ohio State.
Robinson is the first Michigan player in the modern era to score at least two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in back-to-back games, and is the first Big Ten quarterback to accomplish the feat since Iowa's Brad Branks in 2002. He had two of each against Nebraska.
More at the link.
The Daily's Tim Rohan:
Those who stay will redeem themselves.
Ryan Van Bergen stayed.
While his teammates mobbed Courtney Avery, whose interception for the Michigan football team sealed the 40-34 win over Ohio State on Saturday, Van Bergen slowly walked to the sideline, his hands on his head.
He flipped off his helmet, collapsed on the blue bench and wept.
The crowd’s roar was deafening as Jake Ryan pulled Van Bergen close, whispering in his ear. Then Craig Roh did the same. They told Van Bergen how much his leadership meant, how much of an impact he had on them.
Formation notes: there are none. The "formation" column in this week's UFR has set a record for boringness that will never be topped: every single row says "3-3-5 stack." So, yeah… it's a stack.
Substitution notes: Michigan started the game with Craig Roh at defensive end with the Sagesse/Banks platoon on the bench. They brought in Herron to be the SLB. When Herron got hurt they moved Roh back to LB and brought in Bangesse. Kevin Leach got a few drives at spur, and Adam Patterson came in for Martin occasionally. That's it as far as substitutions.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||Jet sweep||Roh||3 + 15 pen|
|Michigan shifts the LBs away from the direction of the sweep because of the trips alignment and does not react quickly enough to the motion to adjust, so it's basically Roh on the edge 2-on-1 vs the left tackle and RB Allen. Roh gets outside the tackle, gives ground when Allen comes to hit him, and fights through the block to get a diving tackle attempt at the sideline that forces Allen out after about four(+1 Roh). Kovacs(-2) comes up well late and picks up a dumb personal foul.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Hitch||Van Bergen||Inc|
|This looks like four verticals to me, with the outside receiver on the trips side sitting down at about the first down marker since he's super open; T. Gordon ran into the #2 WR on his zone drop; can't tell if he got rubbed or if he was just bashing the guy intentionally. Crist fires but RVB(+1) bats it down (pressure +1, cover -1). Martin was coming through the line and threatened to sack; kind of looks like Stewart's got his hand around him but not flagworthy.|
|O47||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Martin||-1|
|WR motions in to act as an H-back and ND runs what seems like a zone without doubling either Martin or Roh. Both of them(+1 each) tear through their blockers, forcing Allen to cut back, where Mouton(+1) has read the disruption in the play and shoots past blockers with no angle on him to tackle for loss.|
|O46||3||11||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Skinny post||Floyd||15|
|Michigan sends five; ND has three guys on deeper routes and one guy curling underneath the coverage. Roh(+0.5) is spinning into Crist's face as he throws and the pass is bullet to Rudolph at the sticks; Floyd(-0.5) is right there but Rudolph has his body between him and the ball and all he can do is tackle. I really question what Mouton's doing here, as he's in a very short zone and starts a delayed contain blitz late; if he drops to around the first down marker this throw isn't open and ND probably has to exit the field. (RPS-1.) I think it's the call, not the player.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Tunnel screen||Van Bergen||2|
|Zone blitz sends all three LBs and drops off the DEs, which puts Van Bergen right in the path of this play; T. Gordon(+1) has also zipped by Rudolph before he can get a block and C. Gordon is coming down to fill the outside lane. Screen has nowhere to go. (RPS+1)|
|M37||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read keeper||Van Bergen||19|
|This is more of the midline stuff Oregon runs where they read an DT or DT-like substance and block the outside guy; RVB(-2) tears off after a zone play that Martin(+1) is going to crush at the line for nothing, opening up a huge hole for Crist. Mouton is doubled and has no chance, and Ezeh(-1) doesn't ever realize Crist has the ball, chasing Allen until it's way too late. This means there's so much room that all CGordon can do is funnel Crist to Kovacs, the last guy.|
|M18||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Corner||Martin/Rogers||Inc|
|Martin(+2) tears through a double, even sort of a triple, team and is in the backfield, forcing Crist to throw as he slips at his feet. Crist's ball is a pop-up that James Rogers(+1) reads and attacks for the PBU (Pressure +2, cover +1)|
|M18||2||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Tunnel screen||Mouton||6|
|Martin drops off to spy as they bring Gordon around the edge; it's a screen. Mouton's the primary linebacker out there; he slips to the ground and then is tackled by an OL; no call. Blatant hold. Martin's leapt over a cut block and Allen decides to head outside, where C. Gordon(+1) fills capably, tackling with help from Rogers. Unfortunate slip and the holding give ND the yards.|
|M12||3||4||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Scramble||Mouton||12 (pen - 0)|
|Zone blitz sends the OLBs and drops Martin and Ezeh, getting Mouton(-1) a free run at Crist (RPS+1), which he whiffs. Roh then comes off his blocker and forces a scrambling Crist back inside, where Mouton can't run him down from behind; neither can NT Martin, understandably. Crist scores but Allen is called for a block in the back for shoving Rogers, though he totally does the "I didn't do it" hand signal afterwards.|
|M12||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Flat||Kovacs||5|
|Guh: drop eight guys into coverage and don't have anyone in the flat; Kovacs has to run out from his spot just outside of Roh, where he manages to tackle Rudolph but not in time. (Cover -1, RPS -1)|
|M7||1||G||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Kovacs||1|
|Banks is blocked down and out of the play as the left side of the line pulls around against Kovacs and Mouton. Kovacs(+2) fends off a block from the RT, sheds to the outside, and tackles. Stewart is literally grabbing Martin's(+0.5) legs as he tries to pursue here, but his nimbleness on what looked like a stunt cut off any backside cut.|
|M5||2||G||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||TE Out||Rogers||6|
|This is probably where Crist got concussed, as T. Gordon(+1) tears off the corner on this half roll and bashes him just as he throws (pressure +1); Rudolph catches it at around the five and should be stopped there except for Rogers(-1, tackling -1) completely whiffing on the tackle. After a lengthy review it's put at the four inch line.|
|M1||3||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||QB sneak||?||1|
|They get it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q. This wasn't actually as bad as I remembered. Penalty hurt, the coverage was pretty decent, the main issue was the weird zone from Mouton on third and long and RVB crashing down on the keeper.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Martin||1|
|Rees in. Replica of the stretch from the previous drive; Martin(+1) gets playside of the guard and cuts off the B gap, forcing Wood outside. Roh set up outside well but then tried to dive back inside and got plowed back for his trouble; no minus because he did hold the edge long enough for Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) to charge downhill and meet Wood at the LOS. Also the Irish LT has his hands outside Roh's shoulder pads but whateva.|
|O25||2||9||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Flea flicker||Mouton||Int|
|Linebackers do bite, but then get back in their drops. Mouton(+3) does an impressive job to get 15 yards deep, get into the passing lane, and intercept. Martin(+0.5) was flying in, forcing the bad decision. (Cover +2, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-7, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Hitch||?||Inc|
|Leach in at spur. Drop eight and just wait for Martin to get there, which he does, eventually. Rees can't find anything serious (cover +1) beforehand and fires it to a four-yard outlet. The pass is crappy and dropped.|
|O19||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Roh||-6|
|Roh(+3) splits a double team, shooting into the backfield and making a TFL all on his own. Best play of his career to date. Brandon Graham-worthy. Martin(+1) had also torn through the line and was there to help if necessary.|
|O13||3||16||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||TGDCD||Mouton||10|
|[That God Damned Counter Draw.] Pretty much a give-up-and-punt. Michigan is rushing three and drops the linebackers off, which makes for a dodgy moment before Mouton(+0.5) comes up and cracks the OL leading the play, causing Wood to slow and allowing several Wolverines to converge on him short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 6 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Ezeh||0|
|Montana in. Martin(+1) blows the C back, preventing him from releasing and forcing the backside G to run into him, taking out two blockers. This allows an unblocked Ezeh(+1) to read, scrape, and tackle with help from Kovacs and Mouton(+1), who powered through a block to finish the play with Ezeh.|
|O21||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||TE Out||Roh||Inc|
|ND using a slide protection so Roh(+1) comes around the backside right in the throwing lane and leaps to bat down Montana's pass. (Pressure +1.) Likely catch and immediate tackle after six otherwise.|
|O21||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read keeper||Gordon||7|
|Van Bergen(-1) is more disciplined this time but still bites on the handoff after forming up on the QB, paving the way for this gain. CGordon(+1) comes up with an authoritative fill and tackle(+1) to bring this up short.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 3 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Tunnel screen||Herron||Inc|
|Zone blitz gets Herron(+1) in unblocked (RPS+1, pressure +1) as Martin drops off into a zone. Play is a tunnel screen so having Martin there will be useful, but it doesn't matter since Herron bats it down.|
|O26||2||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Run||QB draw||?||10|
|Exact same blitz, so Martin is running away from the big damn hole in the line and Herron is running right past Montana through no fault of his own. Floyd gets away with a quasi block in the back but it's the difference between seven and ten. RPS-1.|
|O36||1||10||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||3|
|Ezeh(+1) is probably blitzing but even so he darts into the gap that opens up as the OL down blocks Martin and Roh, picking off the pulling guard and bashing him into Allen, slowing everything down and filling the hole. Allen cuts behind; Mouton(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) rally to tackle, with Mouton getting held or he might have been able to tackle for no gain.|
|O39||2||7||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Off tackle||Roh||0|
|No pulling, just blocking down the line and using Hughes as a FB to get the edge. Roh(+1) slashes past a blocker and threatens to tackle, forcing Allen further outside than he wants to go, which gives Mouton(+1), who read and scraped(!) immediately, the opportunity to beat his block and keep Allen contained for no gain. ND will do this again later and Mouton will have the hell held out of him.|
|O39||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Drag||?||5|
|No pressure but Montana doesn't want wait and dumps it short (cover +1). Ezeh(-0.5) runs it down but ends up overrunning the tackle(-1), but Mouton(+0.5) is there with a correct angle and he and Martin finish it short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Martin||0|
|Martin(+1) momentarily doubled and pushed back but comes through the double as the G pops out on Ezeh, finding himself in the hole. Herron(+1) fills the cutback lane and an unblocked Mouton(+0.5) can track and tackle.|
|O20||2||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Pass||?||Waggle TE cross||Gordon||17|
|Play action fake does suck Mouton(-1) in, opening up this window but CGordon(+1) reads it and comes up to pound Eifert as he catches the ball (cover +1); kid still manages to haul in a great catch. Credit where due there.|
|O37||1||10||Ace Twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Herron||8|
|I think. Michigan's line again blows this up with Roh(+0.5) absorbing a double and Mouton(+1) immediately scraping through the mess to pop up unblocked in the hole, forcing Wood to improvise. Ezeh comes through a block but can't make a tackle; he does delay but Herron(-1) has been passive and ate a lineman and is blasted out of the play. CGordon(-1) should be able to fill quickly here given all the traffic but is seriously late.|
|O45||2||2||Ace Twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||Ezeh||-3|
|Ezeh(+2) zips right into the slot vacated by the lineman pulling around RVB's guy and makes an excellent tackle(+1) in the backfield.|
|O42||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Improv||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1) disrupts Montana by spinning past the OT and forcing the RB to cut him but not before there's a bunch of players in Montana's feet. I also think Floyd(+1) had the short out covered to that side. Montana scrambles and attempts to find a receiver at the sidelines but CGordon(+1) is there to break it up; pass was OOB anyway. (Cover +2, pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 10 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Dive||Patterson||12|
|Patterson in for Martin for the first time and ND goes right at him, blocking down on him and pulling a G around to hit it up in the crease between RVB and Patterson. Ezeh meets the G at the LOS, funneling the RB back to his help but Mouton(-1) is late arriving and whiffs a diving tackle(-1). Patterson gets a -1 as well for making this hole big enough for Allen to have room behind Ezeh and his blocker.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||11|
|This time Patterson(+1) slants into the intended rushing lane, forcing a cutback. Banks is on the backside and forces Allen upfield, as does Floyd, allowing Mouton(-2) to attack the guy behind the LOS; he whiffs the tackle(-1) and Banks stumbles in an attempt to clean up, turning -2 yards into 10. Kind of play we haven't seen from M backs this year.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Deep hitch||Floyd||Int|
|Pressure is not immediate but not terrible either, as Roh comes free and Montana has to wing it, which he does to Floyd just as the other Floyd(+3) is sinking back from his cover two into Floyd's route, picking off the pass. (Cover +2) Replay.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 14-7, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Rollout TE out||?||9|
|Outside receivers clear the zone guys out and Montana throws underneath to Rudolph; would like T Gordon to react a little quicker but this is taking advantage of the coverage call (cover -1).|
|O38||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Stretch counter||Mouton||8|
|Little chance they'll stop this second and two play so okay, but as M slants to the opposite side of the play ND pulls around a G; I don't think Mouton(-1) reads this quickly enough. He steps up, giving Stewart an angle to block him. This makes Ezeh popping the pulling guard to force the RB back inside help fruitless because Mouton's gone. Kovacs flows from the weakside to tackle. This looks like a stretch from the action if you're reading the RB, but the pulling G should be an easy key for the direction of the play.|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||TE Out||T. Gordon||6|
|The quick out again; with no hard corner or cover two this is pretty easy (cover -1).|
|M48||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone counter||Mouton||1|
|Huh. I think Chris Stewart might tip his pulls. He's rocked really far back here. This is similar to the stretch counter except it looks like an inside zone and then Stewart pulls around as they try to hit it into the backside A gap. This time both linebackers are there to fill, with Ezeh(+1) taking on Stewart and funneling to Mouton(+1), who delivers a thumping tackle(+1).|
|M47||3||3||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Rollout TE out||T. Gordon||Inc|
|Same thing as the first play on the drive; this time TGordon(+1) is coming up hard and will tackle short of the sticks even if complete; this throw is behind Rudolph and dropped. (Cover +1.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Hitch||T. Gordon||7|
|Michigan in three deep, bailing out on the corners. TGordon(-0.5) has this area of the field but chooses to chuck the inside receiver, which delays him in his effort to get outside. (Cover –1.)|
|O27||2||3||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Deep out||Rogers||13|
|Way too easy on the outside as Rogers(-1) bails out into a deep third and turns his hips all the way to run downfield, opening this out up. T. Gordon also did not get enough depth on his drop, IMO. (Cover -1, pressure –1.)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Tunnel screen||Roh||Inc|
|Martin backing out after an initial rush as Roh comes on a delayed blitz outside; this is a tunnel screen that would be completely dead if caught. Fortunately for ND it's not. (RPS+1)|
|O40||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Improv||Rogers||Inc|
|Montana can't find anyone for a long time (cover +1) and Martin(+0.5) eventually comes through the Irish OL, forcing a scramble. Montana throws high to a WR near the sticks; Rogers(+0.5) is close enough to disrupt the pass and cause to to fall incomplete.|
|O40||3||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||QB draw||Mouton||10 (pen -7)|
|Most of these yards are whatever because it's third and ten but Mouton(-1) got cut to the ground and opened up first down yardage; it comes back because Floyd was holding the hell out of Floyd.|
|O33||3||17||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Shovel pass||Mouton||9 + 15 pen|
|A give up and punt that turns into a first down because Mouton(-2) gets flagged for a horsecollar tackle. I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there when he can reach out and grab the guy, but it was dumb since Allen was heading to the sidelines and Kovacs was filling.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Rollout deep hitch||T. Gordon||Inc|
|Montana goes back and can't find anyone, rolling out with a small case of happy feet. He fires one to Floyd; T. Gordon(+0.5) is there and hassles him so that the overthrown ball can't be brought in. Could have done better but was not useless. (Cover +1)|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Scramble||Martin||3|
|ND holding the hell out of everyone, but Michigan guys are fighting through it so the flags stay in the pockets. Very frustrating. Martin(+1) fights through, flushing Montana up in the pocket; Roh should have him for a sack but Montana manages to run through it(tackling -1) and rolls out. No one open(cover +1), he scrambles for a few. (Pressure +1)|
|M40||3||7||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Fly||C. Gordon||37|
|Sagesse, Patterson, and RVB are rushing? come on (pressure -1). Montana chucks up a punt that somehow finds an open receiver at the three. This is on Rogers(-1) who has no one at all in front of him and does not keep dropping with the wide receiver, and Cam Gordon(-3), who abandons his responsibility to split the two receivers. Instead he starts running after Floyd (cover –3).|
|M3||1||G||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Tacopants!||Roh||Inc|
|Zone blitz, NT drops off. Mouton gets a free run as a result, with Roh(+0.5) fighting through a cut and staying on his feet so Montana feels he has two guys coming and must chuck it, which he does? out of the end zone. (RPS +1, pressure +1) Receivers did seem covered.|
|Drive Notes: EOH, 21-7. This really was a gift drive with the horsecollar and Gordon Screwup #1.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Deep hitch||Kovacs||Inc|
|Looks like four verticals to me. Four man rush gets nowhere (pressure -1) and Kovacs(-1) does not get over to cover the hitch on the outside, leaving a window for Crist, albeit a small one. He puts it a little in front of Floyd, making it a tough catch, and it's dropped. (Cover -1, but not that bad.)|
|O47||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Fly||C. Gordon||53|
|Michigan in a two deep so Gordon has half the field on deep passes. 1) I think Rogers(-1) attacks Rudolph's little dink route, opening up a ton of space with just Gordon in it, and 2) Gordon(-5) takes a horrible angle on the pass, possibly misjudging it and thinking it's going to a route in front of him. A proper angle would have seen Gordon crush the receiver on an underthrown pass. (Cover -4)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-14, 12 min 3rd Q. I swear I'm writing these descriptions before Maycock does his analysis.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Edge pitch||Floyd||29|
|This is doomed from the start since Kovacs(RPS -2) is blitzing right from the spot on the field where some contain might be. Mouton(-0.5) gets bashed inside but keeps his feet and moves to recover; as Allen nears the first down marker Ezeh(-1) and Floyd(-1) somehow conspire to miss tackles(-1) on him, then a crappy angle from Gordon(-1) and a missed tackle(-1) looks like it spring Allen to the endzone but Gordon did just barely manage to get him to step out of bounds.|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Improv hitch||Floyd||17|
|Time to survey but no one open (cover +1) and Martin(+0.5) fights through blocks and another seeming hold to flush Crist; could have had a sack maybe without the hold. Crist finds Floyd in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1), who's too far away to even tackle afterwards, and Floyd starts cutting back across the field, breaking a tackle from T. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) and getting inside the 30.|
|M27||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||TGDCD||Mouton||10|
|Come back late but Mouton(-1) looks like he's sucked out of position, Ezeh(-1) too; Kovacs(+0.5) fills quickly and funnels Gray to help.|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Slant||?||11|
|Again with the short drop and the blitzing, but pulling that guy out of the center of the field has opened up a huge, obvious space for Crist to hit Floyd in. (RPS-1, cover -1)|
|M6||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Dive||Roh||-1|
|Pulling around the C and trying to go straight up the middle; M sends the house, with Roh(+0.5) blitzing right into the gap, allowing T. Gordon(+1) to come from the backside and tackle. (RPS+1)|
|M7||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||TE cross||?||Inc|
|Forever to pass as Michigan rushes three and it takes a while for RVB to work free. (Pressure -1). Nowhere to throw, though, and Crist ends up trying a super tough pass at the back of the endzone to Rudolph, extremely well covered by Ezeh(+1) and hit out by Gordon(+0.5, cover +2).|
|M7||3||G||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||TE out||Mouton||Inc|
|Zone blitz sees Martin and Ezeh drop out of the middle and gives Mouton(+0.5) a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1), which forces Crist to throw early and high in an attempt to get Rudolph one on one with Kovacs(+1), who was in good enough position to stab over the top in case the ball was more accurate (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(24), 21-17, 8 min 3rd Q. Biiiiiig stand there after getting gashed all the way down the field, and one on which GERG RPSed ND two or three times.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||TE deep cross||Mouton||Int|
|Three man rush yields a ton of time but nothing downfield (cover +1) and eventually RVB comes free, chasing Crist from the pocket. He rolls and tries to chuck it very deep to Rudolph, but it's on a line and Mouton(+2, cover +1) bats it into the air, where Kovacs(+1) picks it off and returns it. The three man line may be frustrating but it seems to work. Would work better if Roh could play DE.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 21-17, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O4||1||10||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||9|
|Both linebackers are to blame here, IMO, as they have to realize that the down blocks and the pull indicate a power off tackle is coming, but both of them shoot up into the play, with Mouton taking out a lead blocker and Ezeh unable to scrape outside in time because: there's no leverage on the ball. Floyd is in a ton of space and forces the RB inside, where he makes a good open field tackle(+1) with help from a recovering Ezeh. -1 Ezeh, -1 Mouton. Also, Kovacs gets a -1 for getting blasted all the way across the formation.|
|O13||2||1||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Asshat linejudge||12|
|This time Mouton does scrape to the outside, where he gets held like a mofo without a call. I mean, the guy's hands are literally on his back: both of them. I hate these refs. You're supposed to be on our side, idiots. As a result he can't contain and Allen has a big gainer. I'm not minusing anyone here except asshat linejudge(-2).|
|O25||1||10||Ace Twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||3|
|Martin(+0.5) slashes through the line and Ezeh(+0.5) quickly darts into the gap behind the Martin mess and the LB getting out to the second level; unfortunately Allen splits the tackle(-1) from both. Mouton(+1) sheds a block to pound the guy after three yards, though.|
|O28||2||7||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Sack||T. Gordon||-11|
|Sending five gets T. Gordon(+2) a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1) because of what looks like a blown pickup by Allen; Gordon does a great job of not letting Crist dodge him, tossing him to the ground for M's only sack of the year.|
|O17||3||18||Shtogun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Dumpoff||?||13|
|No pressure (-1) on a three man rush, with Roh getting pancaked on an unsuccessful spin, though ND does have two guys for every rusher. Coverage(+1) is good enough to force the dump, and Gray is gang-tackled well short. The thing about Roh's spin is it could totally work if someone was occupying the guard.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 1 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Edge pitch||Banks||5|
|Allen fumbles the pitch and should be nailed for a loss but Banks(-1) overruns the play and lets Allen inside, where Gordon(+0.5) forms up and tackles by getting run over.|
|O29||2||5||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Seam||Kovacs||20|
|Kovacs(-2) sucks up for no apparent reason, opening up tons of room for Rudolph; Mouton(-1) also drops too far inside, closer to Ezeh's zone than he needs be. Rudolph is wide open, picking up big yards despite falling down without being touched. (Cover -3)|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Jet sweep||Banks||0|
|Watch Roh get cut: that's worse than the clip they threw on Dorrestein. No call. Meanwhile, Martin(+1) is again through the line and gets yanked backwards; no call. It doesn't end up mattering because Banks(+1) first holds up to a double and then comes through it, allowing Ezeh(+1) to flow to the ball unimpeded; combined the pair tackles.|
|O49||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||6||Skinny post||?||Inc|
|This is open(cover -1) but Crist throws it well behind Rudolph, apparently expecting him to sit down on a hitch.|
|O49||3||10||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Dig||Kovacs||Inc|
|Blitz picked up as DEs drop into short zones, for what good that does on third and ten. (Pressure -1.) RVB actually gets pretty good depth and might be useful as Crist fires in between three defenders on a dig that will probably get the first; Floyd drops it. Kovacs was pretty close, FWIW. Great throw by Crist on replay with RVB in postion to bat/intercept anything a fraction late.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 9 min 4th Q. This one is more on ND than M.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Corner||Van Bergen||Inc|
|This is overthrown by about ten yards despite being somewhat open because RVB(+1.5) plowed through the RT and hit Crist as he threw, aborting his follow-through. (Pressure +1) It is really hard to hand out appropriate numbers with this quantity of three-man rushes.|
|O14||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||6||?||?||Inc|
|Blitz is picked up but Crist still has to get rid of it; ends up throwing it to no one. I think he's trying to hit Rudolph on a short crossing route or something but Rudolph fell down trying to cut. RVB(+0.5) drove into the pocket and appeared to get a finger on it, too.|
|O14||3||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||TE seam||Inc|
|Three man rush but RVB(+0.5) is driving into the backfield well enough that Crist feels he should throw it; he chucks it to a well covered Rudolph (Mouton +1, cover +1) and overthrows it badly.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O9||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Scramble||Van Bergen||5 (pen -4)|
|RVB(+1) gets upfield and bats at the ball, causing Crist to bring it down; Roh(+1) spins into the middle of everything and could have sack but is held—which they call! Omg. The five yard scramble afterwards is academic (pressure +1)|
|O5||1||15||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Ooops||C. Gordon||95|
|No pressure(-2) and Cam Gordon takes the world's worst angle (-6, cover -5), turning a knockdown into temporary doom.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 3 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted since it is under extreme conditions. Last play clipped, though.|
So was that good or not?
I really don't know. Breaking down Notre Dame's 17 drives:
- 1 uncharted desperation drive on which they got 32 yards of offense and 15 penalty yards.
- 1 depressingly slick Crist-led TD drive
- 1 depressingly slick Crist-led FG drive
- 2 enormous Cam Gordon bust TDs, 1 enormous Cam Gordon bust we got away with
- 7 drives led by incompetent backup QBs that max out around 20 yards and feature two INTs.
- 5 stops of the Crist-led O in the second half when the game was in the balance, including another INT
Breaking down ND's 535 yards:
- 50-ish: given away on end of half drives.
- 200-ish: Cam Gordon
- 280-ish: the sum total of the other 14 possessions.
Before the Rudolph bomb, Crist's second half stats were 5/14 for 121 yards, a TD, and an INT. To me that looks like ten guys doing a really good job and a freshman position switch safety "learning on the job" or "making me think about every safety except Jamar Adams in the last decade of Michigan football." I don't know, let's look at the—
So this one is really weird. Keep in mind that 1) Cam Gordon wsg James Rogers got a total of –16 personally and –12 to cover on the three comically open bombs, 2) Notre Dame had sixteen(!) drives charted, fully double the UConn game, and 3) Michigan picked off three balls.
|Van Bergen||4.5||3||1.5||Unproductive until late; irresponsible on midline zone read.|
|Martin||12||0.5||11.5||Beast mode. Best game of career.|
|Banks||1||1||1||Getting zero production out of this spot.|
|TOTAL||18.5||5.5||13||Should count about half of Roh's production here.|
|Mouton||14.5||12.5||2||Some of the negatives are a little harsh, like the horsecollar. Vastly improved.|
|Roh||11||-||11||Beast mode part II. By far best game of his career.|
|T. Gordon||6.5||1.5||5||Great job on the sack; solid elsewhere.|
|Leach||-||-||0||Some time at spur.|
|Herron||2||1||1||Allowed Roh to play DE until injury, did okay.|
|TOTAL||40.5||19.5||21||Even throwing most of Roh's points to DE this is a very encouraging number.|
|Floyd||5||2.5||2.5||INT and little he could be blamed for.|
|Rogers||1.5||4||-2.5||Missed tackles and somewhat responsible for two of the Gordon bombs.|
|Kovacs||6||6||0||Certainly not a liability.|
|C. Gordon||5||16||-11||You know the story.|
|M. Robinson||-||-||-||DNP on D.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||-||-||Got in a play.|
|TOTAL||17.5||28.5||-11||Even and then Gordon.|
|Pressure||14||9||5||More on this in the three man rush section.|
|Coverage||22||24||-2||Also three man rush.|
First negative day ever, though this hasn't been around that long.
[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
There's a lot to like above: Roh and Martin both turned in the best days of their careers, and Martin's performance is even more impressive since he spent all day as a nose against two or three blockers. This is what happened every time ND tried to single up either guy:
NFW, man. I mean, watch Martin just tear through guys:
He's made a personal leap from good to great. Roh, meanwhile, is a different player:
Meanwhile, Ezeh and Mouton both climbed above zero; I can't recall the last time that happened. The coverage has not been terrible except when it's really terrible; ND QBs were checking down all day. Eight man coverages, sure, but even with time ND was not picking it apart except when Gordon was letting them.
I hate three-man rushes. They make me want to die. GERG loves them. WTF?
I tried to parse this out but my numbers don't make sense after I did this so a rougher breakdown below.
Six man rush:
- Two snaps, no completions.
Five man rush:
- Four snaps.
- Thomas Gordon sack.
- 53-yard Cam Gordon screwup bomb.
Four man rush:
- 13 snaps.
- One INT, two scrambles.
- Nothing deep.
Three man rush:
- 23 snaps.
- Two INT, one scramble
- 95-yard Cam Gordon screwup
- 37-yard Cam Gordon screwup
- 68 other yards on 21 snaps.
I think that's off a bit but it is close. So… Michigan didn't exactly crumble in the three-man rush. They got two interceptions out of it, one of them the Crist one, and I only have them down for eight non-screen completions.
The theory behind this appears to be the same theory that saw a lot of three-man rushes last year: our defense is pretty crappy but we have this beast on the DL so he can probably get through anyway and then the QB has nowhere to go. Last year that was Brandon Graham; this year it was going to be a combo of Martin and Roh until Herron got hurt and Roh had to move back to LB. And as you can see by the numbers above, it pretty much worked. Do you put the blame for the bombs on the rush or Cam Gordon? Probably some of both.
GERG Robinson linebacker fairy dust update?
Looking even better after a fairly strong week one. The linebackers still got lost some but not egregiously so and usually bounced back the next time Kelly tried the same play. Ezeh had a relatively quiet day for a middle linebacker and finished slightly positive; Mouton had an uber-Mouton day with a ton of positives and a ton of negatives that also finished slightly positive. This is massive progress from last year even if you don't count Thomas Gordon putting in a Brown-like number, the most active day Brandon Herron's had, and Craig Roh blowing up.
The linebackers have come farther in two weeks under GERG than they did in two years under Hopson. I mean… you're kind of worried about losing Mouton next year, right? Exactly. NFL guys are noticing, too:
Jonas Mouton/LB/Michigan: The Wolverines are off to a fast start at 2-0 and Mouton has been the teams's top defender in both games. He led the unit with 13 tackles in the exciting win over Notre Dame besides intercepting a pass early in the game, which Michigan converted into a touchdown. Mouton is an explosive linebacker who effortlessly moves sideline-to-sideline. He added 15 pounds of muscle this season yet did not lose a step of speed.
The GERG Fairy Dust Theory looks like a winner so far.
So… free safety is doom again?
I don't know. By this time last year I was ready to see Boubacar Cissoko exiled to the punt team permanently, but Gordon at least brings something to the table. He's filled run lanes well for the most part and brings the wood when he tackles; he seem athletic enough to cope at free safety. But four major gaffes in two weeks is concerning.
There is reason he will improve, and quickly. He's just a redshirt freshman and spent his first semester at WR. Michigan's offense is almost allergic to deep balls, so he may not have much experience with balls going over his head. His learning curve can be quick and meaningful. On the other hand, he's actually got to make that improvement, something we've seen every Michigan safety since Marcus Ray emphatically not do. With the second and third string options gone the last remaining backup safety is two-star true freshman Ray Vinopal: we are likely stuck with Gordon. I have no idea whether he'll improve enough to be un-noticeable.
Michigan got called for clips on plays that Notre Dame did not get called for clips. They bear-hugged Martin and RVB all day. Kelvin Grady got a call for missing a cut block. The officiating was so slanted that Notre Dame fans aren't even complaining. Attention Big Ten refs: we're Michigan. You're supposed to be on our side.
Mike Martin and Craig Roh, with a high five to JT Floyd and Thomas Gordon.
Cam Gordon is the blazingly obvious one, but once Michigan had to pull Roh off the line they got nothing out of that DE spot except a decent play on a run by Banks. Getting a 1-1-0 out of a DE spot in a half of play is very subpar. Those guys cannot get to the QB at all. RVB also had a mediocre day, but did come on late.
What does it mean for UMass and beyond?
Overall, I'm actually encouraged. Michigan basically shut down an incompetent quarterback with a lot of skill position talent in the first half; this should be good enough in a lot of games this year. The QB might not be as terrible but the skill players won't be as good. When Crist was in, the defense was a solid B+ except for the Cam Gordon errors. When he was not handing ND points they scored ten points on seven drives and picked up an interception.
They seem better than last year. More than that, they seem better than we thought they'd be going into the season. Mouton is outperforming expectations. Ezeh is. Roh is. JT Floyd is. Kovacs is fine. Martin is living up to BEAST MODE expectations. The only disappointments are the DEs and Cam Gordon. I'll take that.
If they stay healthy—they are beyond paper thin—and Gordon can reduce his gaffe rate to an acceptable level they can be totally mediocre. Look for a permanent move to DE for Roh against spread teams if Herron comes back, which will make that line hard to block.
9/11/2010 – Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24 – 2-0
The Daily's Sam Wolson.
Sometimes even the corner of the endzone is a perfect vantage point to see something, and we were right on line to see Dayne Crist heave up what looked like a punt in the general direction of a covered Kyle Rudolph. We saw Cam Gordon take the wrong angle, backtrack desperately to take a futile swat at the ball, and twist his body around as quickly as possible to chase Rudolph. From there it's a dull haze as Notre Dame stadium erupted. The public address announcer, normally as staid and even-handed as Carl Grapentine, finished relating the details by exclaiming something about the rainbow Providence had directed to appear above the stadium at that exact moment.
Michigan fans are no strangers to this sort of thing. Ask anyone who's been around the block a couple times about Notre Dame Stadium and you'll get a recounting of injustices cosmic and otherwise perpetrated on not only Michigan but the idea of free will. Find them in a quiet moment in the dead of winter and get a couple drinks in them and you might hear a rigidly controlled statement about how the things that happen to Michigan's football team in South Bend make the speaker just… I don't know… unsure about certain things. Doesn't matter if they're religious or not. If they are, it's the existence of a just and loving God. If they aren't, it's the absence of a wrathful one. Either way the intensity with which your conversation partner is focusing on the rim of his glass will be unsettling.
The last time I went was 2002. Michigan fumbled four times, committed ten penalties, missed a 32-yard field goal, gave up a safety on a Courtney Morgan holding call, saw a Carlyle Holiday fumble at the two ruled a touchdown, and lost when Navarre's first pass on Michigan's last-ditch drive was batted directly to a Notre Dame defender. Michigan lost 25-23; in their previous two outings Notre Dame hadn't scored an offensive touchdown. I wrote two things about it in the aftermath:
- An Every Three Weekly article titled "John Navarre Blamed For Offense, Defense, Kicking Game, Iraq, 9/11, Everything Else."
- The other half of the infamous article exchange with Blue Gray Sky, in which a small child utterly defeats me by saying "good game, mister" as I attempt to trudge my way home.
The thesis statement of the latter:
To a Michigan fan, every Irish loss over the past ten years has been due to an unfortunate confluence of unlikely events: fumbles, ridiculous refereeing, blocked punts, hilarious deflected passes, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not (though it is): that’s what it feels like. It feels like Michigan has nothing to gain and everything to lose, and everything gets lost on a biannual basis.
When Kyle Rudolph crossed the goal line the thing I thought was not an unprintable string of expletives. It was "of course."
Before the season a reporter from the Hartford Courant called me up for a story he was doing on the UConn game, probably because he saw me as a way to tap into the zeitgeist of the Michigan fan. As these things usually go, he only used one sentence from a fifteen minute conversation. This left out what seemed to me like the most interesting bit of the conversation, where he asked what I thought Michigan football stood for, what made it special and unique.
I had no answer to this. I said "that sounds like a question a Notre Dame fan would love to answer"—which caused the reporter to laugh a little more heartily than objectivity would approve of—and then launched into a narrative that won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's been around here a while. The post titles say it all, really: "Empire of the Fallen." "You Were Killed By A Bear And I Am Sad."
I told the guy that my inability to answer that question any more was kind of the point. The thing that was is dead, having expired from natural causes after a long illness. The thing that replaced it wasn't really anything except incompetent.
Basic understanding of the Michigan zeitgeist is understanding that now there is no answer to the question. Advanced understanding adds that until the Horror there was no program in the country with a more confident answer to it, and puts the two together to find a large number of sad pandas.
And then with 40 seconds left Denard Robinson stared down a blitzing, unblocked Manti Te'o and fired a dart to Roy Roundtree for fifteen yards on third and anything but a field goal attempt. Michigan had done its best to gaffe its way out of it like this uniquely frustrating rivalry demands, but after that it was academic. You try to stop Denard Robinson from going two yards, or seventy-two, or eighty-seven.
The rainbow was not Providence, except insofar as Denard Robinson might be it. It was the Shoelace bat signal, or rather one of many Shoelace bat signals: Flagpoles. Trees. Corned beef sandwiches. Damn near anything. Once summoned not even the vast historical juju of Notre Dame Stadium can do anything about him.
So this thing you dared not hope for starts to coalesce just from the things that happen on the field, and then yesterday morning I was struck by a sense of profound gratefulness when I watched the MGoBlue video of Denard's postgame presser:
I love how he smiles all the time and wears his heart on his sleeve and goes "AHHHH" when someone mentions Roundtree blocking for him and seems about as amazed as everyone else as what he's doing. I love how he drops to one knee after he scores in a way that seems genuine in a way I couldn't comprehend until I saw it. I love that if you ask him he'll sign your forehead. I was going to let my skepticism overwhelm, to wait until it was obvious that 2010 was not going to be 2009, but I lasted two games. I'm in the tank again.
That feeling Johnny identified in 2008 when it became clear that neither we nor Michigan had any idea what it was any more is obliterated. I've got an answer for the Courant now: Michigan is receivers blocking like tiny mountain goats 40 yards downfield because it matters, because if you set Denard free he'll go "AHHHH" at you afterwards. He'll smile and it will seem like the sun is poking through dark clouds, scattering colors in a circle all around you.
BULLETS ARE NO LONGER BULLETS
They're annoying. Now bold section titles. More room. Easier blockquoting. Win.
The unsung hero: Shavodrick Beaver, the backup at Tulsa. Does anyone else remember the sick feeling in your stomach when you found out that Michigan had lost a desperately-needed QB recruit to Tulsa? Funny old world, isn't it?
Denard is like a video game, but to Google it's NBA Jam:
HT to reader Apoorva Bansal.
Crist return. We were only getting the usual scattered texts that actually got through but by halftime it was clear that Crist had some sort of head injury that prevented him from seeing out of one eye. I laughed at my friend's concern that Crist might come back in the second half, reasoning that a head injury severe enough to keep someone out of a half of football is severe enough to keep someone out of a game of football. But lo, Crist rose after this:
Q. What play was it that you got dinged up on and what happened?
DAYNE CRIST: Just running the ball, just took a hit kind of on the side of the helmet. I had trouble seeing out of my right eye after that. Tried to get back into focus. …
Q. Was it your vision?
DAYNE CRIST: Just kind of dazed a little bit and couldn't really see out of my right eye. But that was really it.
How would you feel if Michigan's coach had done that after everything we've heard about concussions the past couple years? Apparently they "did the tests" on the sideline and determined he didn't have one, but it's hard to be comfortable with that decision when it's a debate about in what particular way Crist's brain was messed up.
Ref argh. There have been a lot of complaints about Michigan's many penalties and the lack of ND holding calls—especially after Mike Martin described Chris Stewart getting a "warning"—that I can't comment on yet since I haven't seen the tape, but we saw this live since our endzone was the one it happened in:
What is it with Notre Dame getting free touchdowns on a balls they fumble at the one? No one from Michigan jumped on it, unfortunately, or a review would have been uncomfortable for the home crowd. What happens if a player fumbles into the endzone and it just sits there forever? Does anyone know what the result would have been? You can't claim an inadvertent whistle ended the play until after the ball is out. Commenters seem to think it would have been ND's ball at the one.
Tailback argh. Thirty yards rushing is not so good for all your tailbacks, though as we'll see below Fred Jackson thinks Notre Dame made a bizarre decision to put it all on Denard's shoulders. I'll reserve judgment until I see the tape since the corner of the endzone isn't a great vantage point to draw conclusions, but with a couple of less challenging games coming up it seems like its time to pull the other three kids out of mothballs and see what they can do. Tousssaint's Mike Hart and Chris Perry except fast, after all. That sounds okay.
Flagpole argh. One thing that did not factor into my decision as to which tickets I'd use and which I'd give to my friends: whether or not the flag would be 1) in my LOS and 2) at half-mast. It was kind of hard to see stuff inside the 20 on the far side of the field; people twenty rows higher were probably steamed about Al Qaeda in a way they'd never thought possible.
Denard implosion argh. In the aftermath of another OMG Robinson day the questions about his durability continue. I think they're slightly overblown since Robinson takes way fewer hits from the pocket than most quarterbacks, and hits in the pocket to a stationary target are always the most dangerous. Even so they're not entirely so, which means Robinson should see a reduced workload over at least the next two weeks and hopefully three as Michigan tries to find some confidence in the backup quarterbacks and find a tailback. If it comes down to it, though, you have to put the ball in his hands when it's do or die.
The truly terrifying thing about Denard Robinson is how often he was one downfield block from being gone like he was on the 87-yarder. These blocks got missed way too often, but I guess it's a lot harder to make them when you don't have any idea where the runner is going to be.
Game theory stuff. I agree vigorously with this message board thread about how the Rudolph touchdown was a blessing in disguise since any Notre Dame touchdown drive of actual length would have pulled so much time off the clock its hard to see Robinson leading a drive to win. He can execute a three-minute drill now (obviously), but with one and a half minutes I keep going back to those seams to Roundtree in the third quarter. The first was thrown directly at a linebacker when lofting it was a touchdown; the second was lofted and would have been a touchdown except it was considerably overthrown.
Giving up a 95-yard touchdown is obviously bad, but I think the play once Rudolph is behind the secondary and around the 35 is to let him score. Michigan didn't do this intentionally, but they did prevent the same sort of agonizing touchdown drive they gave up against Wisconsin and Ohio State in 2005, where they soft-shell their way down the field and allow the opponent the opportunity to score for the win with vanishingly little time left.
While we're on the topic, Kelly's decision to go for it from the three at the end of the first half has come in for rampant bashing by Notre Dame fans because it didn't work out but to me it seems like one of those decisions that's so close there's no right or wrong answer. We happen to have a huge database of one-shot plays from the three because that's where two-point conversions are attempted from. The expected value of a field goal from there is basically 3 points. The expected value of going for it is 45% of 7, or 3.15 points… if you assume an average defense and offense. Michigan does not have an average defense but Notre Dame's offense while directed by a third-string walk-on is probably even further below average, so in terms of pure points expected I'm betting Kelly gave up a little when he went for it. On the other hand, when you're down 14 points and you might not get many opportunities to score because you're down to the third-string walk-on you take variance where you can; you should be willing to give up some expectation for it. My gut feeling was that I was unhappy with the decision to go, which means it's probably the right call.
Yardage bit. This has been noted elsewhere, but what a bizarre game. Over 1000 yards of total offense but a winning score of just 28 and 18 punts. In a game where yardage was dead even Michigan was +3 in turnover margin and barely won. This happened because they lost about 40 yards of field position on punt exchanges, missed two field goals, got away with giving up the bomb at the end of the first half, shot themselves not in the foot but the head with penalties, and intentionally gave away 50 yards on Notre Dame's final drive.
So… yeah, Michigan functionally outgained ND by 50 since they weren't trying to stop those first two passes to Floyd, which makes the second week they did that against a BCS opponent. That didn't happen until the Purdue game last year.
Defense? Caveats about the backups in the first half apply but the defense managed to hang in there. Cam Gordon is going to come in for some huge minuses in UFR, but the rest of the defense can't be blamed for 200, maybe 250 (Jones phantom TD, Rudolph TD, long pass @ end of first half, final drive) of ND's 500 yards. Given the number of drives in this game holding ND to 24 points is an accomplishment. After Crist came out of the locker room and led ND right down the field twice I thought we were doomed, but the D got a stop after first and goal and then got five straight stops after. Say what you want about rushing three but I'm pretty sure all three picks were thrown into a three-man rush when the QB could not find anyone open. I'll be adding a "players rushed" tracker to UFR to see if the thing everyone hates actually hurt M.
Field goal argh silver lining. Rodriguez may be forced to do mathematically correct things on fourth and three from the 25.
AnnArbor.com slideshow. Genuinely Sarcastic column makes a good point about Cam Gordon and a box safety spot: ideally that's where he'd be. Doctor Saturday says "at some point you begin to run out of perspective, and adjectives." HSR took video of postgame celebrations. Wolverine Historian has a three-part set of highlights up. USA-Algeria-style bar explosion video from NYC's Professor Thom's. MVictors bullets. The Daily ranks the greatest individual performances in Michigan history, slotting Denard #4 behind three guys who killed Ohio State singlehandedly.
MGoReader scores tickets at face when ND opens up wheelchair seating to the public, sits next to Brock Mealer, and gets told this story:
He told me and a couple of nearby patrons a story about Denard: last week, before the game, he asked our QB if he ever thought about cutting off his dreads in case someone tried to pull him down (a la Polamu). Denard's response?
"If they ever catch me, they can have 'em."
Amongst the great many articles using the above picture and declaring Robinson to be hotter than the surface of Mercury but deploying the same stats and quotes as all the others is Mike Rothstein's from AnnArbor.com, which quotes to Fred Jackson about all those carries:
Notre Dame (1-1) offered no choice. With the defensive fronts the Irish presented, it was Robinson’s ball to carry over and over again….
“A lot of times, his reads tell him to give the ball to the running backs,” Jackson said. “But this game, they were forcing him to run it. They were probably trying to beat him up. But he’s too quick to beat up.”
That's an… interesting decision on the part of the Notre Dame coaches there.
I missed a few of Ryan Terpstra's postgame videos. Here's Jordan Kovacs:
Note. In case anyone hadn't noticed, the restrictions implemented Saturday were lifted yesterday, so things should be back to normal. I think it worked out pretty well; there were a number of threads that got deleted but overall things here were way less dumb than elsewhere, thanks in large part to turning off the ability for people to sign up to vent. That system will return in the aftermath of future HEAD ASPLODE type events.
There have been complaints about censorship, to which I say nuts. Example of a pulled thread:
F--- my life.
If football can't fill the void in my life, i'm just going to have to turn to booze and sluts.
This is noise, and things on the internet get ruined when the signal to noise ratio gets too low. The MGoBlog trend is ever-increasing levels of restriction as the blog grows to keep the ratio relatively high, and that won't change.
Also BONUS. I've turned on the ability for folks to use Windows Live Writer to put up diary posts. For now it's restricted to 500+ point folk; once I know it's up and running without incident anyone will be able to use it if you like. Complicated instructions will allow you to access much more convenient picture uploads and tagging and whatnot. It's just a better editor in all ways. (protip: the main column is 560 pixels wide.)
Mac/Linux people will have to pound sand. Sorry.
Fun fun fun until daddy's head explodes, leaving chunks spread across the county. So… was yesterday's appearance on WTKA fun or what? Yes, it was fun or what. If you'd like a hear a man attempting to hang on to the last shreds of his sanity, there are podcasts:
Sorry I can't embed them; WTKA's site is a little less than modern.
If you just want to get to the part where smoke comes out my ears, MVictors has helpfully clipped it out. Now I'm going to go put my head in a bucket of ice. Maybe I'll steam some broccoli at the same time.
Elsewhere in last weekend, This Week In Schadenfreude sticks Michigan—and yours truly!—above the fold. Peek into the terror that is my inbox.
Mary Sue got your back. President Coleman with the long-term vote of confidence:
"I don't think it's fair to coaches to bring them in and say, 'We're going to give you three years,'" she said in an interview on Friday, citing a recent example. "When [former men's basketball coach] Tommy Amaker came in, we stuck with him for six years. It just wasn't going to work; it wasn't the right fit. But it wasn't a rushed decision."
Note that the statement specifically implies not just next year but the year after for Rodriguez. Short of a major violation from the Freep jihad—which I will reiterate is not the expected outcome from anyone on the Michigan side of things—Rodriguez will get to 2011, at which point it's up to him.
Why the suck? We're living in an era of college football hyperbole thanks to the 12th game and bowl games now counting as official stats, but not retroactively. Every good multi-year starter is now breaking or threatening this record or that. There's no better example of this than Juice Williams approaching the top five in all time Big Ten passing yards. All these records mean nothing.
But there's one area of hyperbole that's not hyperbole at all: we are really living through an era of the worst calls in college football history. Before the advent of replay, bad calls were just bad calls and were relatively understandable since they were irreversible split-second decisions. Now, though, replay officials can commit the cardinal sin of screwing up an obviously correct call. Here's a touchdown from the Indiana-Iowa game:
This was ruled a touchdown on the field and overturned by the replay official. It is in the building when it comes to worst calls ever made because some guy saw indisputable evidence—watch the field turf change color as the IU receiver's foot rakes over it—of a touchdown and called it not a touchdown. (It's not very far in the building since I can think of two more egregious ones off the top of my head: Brandon Minor's pylon-aided touchdown against Michigan State last year and the onside kick Oregon was awarded despite never even recovering the ball.)
So, a question: why are confused goats allowed to run these things? Honestly. There is no other explanation for this stuff. A few years ago refs correctly called Antonio Bass down against Iowa and the replay official overturned it despite clear evidence that the reason the ball came out was Bass's elbow hitting the ground. They failed to overturn that ridiculous Domata Peko touchdown. On the Indiana call above it is so obvious that the PBP guy immediately says "oh he dragged that right foot" as the spray of fieldturf pellets goes up. Most replay calls are that obvious on a first viewing, and yet they take five minutes and there's a reasonable chance the guy in the booth can't see what's completely obvious to everyone watching the game.
I don't know what the fix is, but I think a major problem is that replay officials are often referees who have been put out to pasture. Therefore they are crazy and old. Putting crazy old people in charge leads to things like Florida State's defense. It is not a good idea.
You grow like a weed. Hope burgeons for your #15 Michigan Wolverine basketball team (who wants some FREE PPPPPIZZAAA) for a variety of reasons, mostly Manny Harris and Deshawn Sims. Big Ten Geeks has put together a great study that provides another reason for optimism:
The big, overarching conclusion is this: a player shows the most improvement between his freshman and sophomore seasons than he does any other offseason. In fact, the freshman offseason improvement is, on average, greater than the improvement between a player's sophomore season and his senior season.
Here's the o-rating chart:
How this applies to the Big Ten this year:
Schwing. Indiana is a runaway winner here but their goal is to go from one of the worst teams in a major conference to one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. Amongst actual contenders no team should see its players improve more than Michigan and the only team that's even somewhat close is Minnesota. The bounce Michigan gets should be significant.
I'll add in my default caution: past performance is a better predictor of future results than past results. Michigan's past performance lags behind their past results—they finished the year #50 in the Pomeroy rankings instead of the 40th-ish their tourney seeding suggested or the 32nd-ish their second-round status suggested. That's the baseline from which I'm measuring improvement, and from that perspective I've thought projecting a leap into the top 15 was optimistic. 25? Sure. 15? Probably not. The above chart is convincing enough to close some of that gap, IME.
You rang? There are three main questions going into the season. One: can Manny Harris reduce appearances of Evil Manny to a couple here and there? Two: will one of the wing players step up to be a true three-point gunner with an eFG percentage Salim Stoudemire would be proud of? And three: will we get anything from a big lumbering gumpy white guy?
BLGWG #1 is Zack Gibson, who can't shoot threes like he thinks he can and doesn't do much offensively but has erratic moments of OMGIBSON ownage. College bigs like him often take some time to get it together and find themselves blossoming into useful, even good players their senior year. Examples from recent Michigan vintage include Graham Brown and Chris Young. And late last year Gibson was a huge factor on defense, making a lot of plays that no one else on the roster can make for reasons of being 6'5" tops. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a quasi-breakout year that no one except Michigan fans notice.
BLGWG #2 is Ben Cronin, who Mike Rothstein hyped up a few days ago on AnnArbor.com:
“My legs are in the best shape they’ve been in in a long time,” Cronin said. “I’m sure it’s going to turn over on the court where I guarantee I’m going to be a little more explosive than I’ve ever been. And my endurance is going to be better because of the track, so I’m really excited about where I’m at.”
Cronin is what Beilein looks for in a big man. He’s intelligent. He has good passing skills, something demonstrated during Saturday’s open practice when he found cutting players from the high post.
He’s also demonstrated the ability to shoot three-pointers - something Beilein’s most well-known big man, former West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle, was known for.
There's no way Cronin is an effective or frequent three-point shooter and the conditioning/hip issues are probably going to limit him to 10-15 minutes a game—Beilein says Cronin "doesn't have his bounce back" in the article. But in his cameo last year before the injury redshirt he showed some skills to go with his hugeness. If he can spell Gibson effectively Michigan will be able to roll out a decently sized lineup against the big thumpers of the world, which would do wonders for Michigan's atrocious 2PT FG defense.
No. This guy attempts to defend Deadspin for the Phillips Incident, stating that the rumors weren't "unsourced" based on Daulerio's round of contrition interviews in which he repeatedly stated that they weren't just publishing random emails. I don't know if I believe that; given the way it was framed it was clear Daulerio didn't care either way, really.
And let's remember what the "news" is here: Deadspin has successfully ferreted out the very newsworthy information that one ESPN vice president is in a relationship with another ESPN vice president. Armed with this knowledge, we will defeat cancer and Marcelo Balboa. Daulerio's wandered around giving interview after interview in which he acknowledges he had a hissy fit, which he apparently thinks will earn him credit, before claiming that there was a noble purpose—exposing ESPN's inconsistent enforcement of sexual harassment rules—behind everything. The evidence marshaled for this consists of the following items:
- An ESPN radio host sexually harassed someone and was suspended for it.
- ESPN VP 1 is dating non-related ESPN VP 2.
Daulerio's attempts to explain his actions after the fact are feeble post-hoc justifications for a mean-spirited, purposeless expose on the private life of a non-public figure.
Etc.: I'm not sure why, but EDSBS has a photoshop of Gruden-as-M-coach on a post about Steve Kragthorpe. I noted that I didn't understand the blocking scheme on a particular run play that Penn State ran last week; Smart Football says it's a zone variant called the "pin and pull"
Somewhat less than timely, but still good. Michigan softball player Bree Evans, who suffered a scary injury at the beginning of the month, is out of the hospital. She's been out for a good long while…
Evans was released from the hospital two weeks ago, according to Michigan sports information director Leah Howard. Howard declined to comment on details of Evans’ injury.
…but better to know late than never, I guess.
Well, let's be explicit about it. Deshawn Sims and Mann Harris talking to Fox Sports's Jeff Goodman for a Beilein fluff bit before the season:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - DeShawn Sims had just finished up his freshman season at Michigan when he heard the news that John Beilein had been hired to replace Tommy Amaker. At the time, Manny Harris was the Wolverines' top signee, and the word quickly swirled that he would explore other options.
"People were saying Beilein's system was for white boys," Sims said.
"I heard he didn't even like players that dunk," added the athletic Harris.
Elsewhere in basketball, perhaps the most newsworthy thing to come out of Big Ten Media Day was Illinois coach Bruce Weber suggesting that the Big Ten will "probably" move to a full round robin "down the road." I got so excited about it that I retweeted it, so, yes, I am enthusiastic about the hypothetical change. It just makes sense, and now with the Big Ten Network it makes financial sense—in conversations I've had with them they have a strong preference for intraconference matchups.
And here's a Tim Hardaway Jr fluffy bit from ESPN, courtesy reader Woodson2Heisman:
Michigan checks in at #15 in both preseason polls, but this is slightly terrifying:
Junior guard Manny Harris - an All-Big Ten team selection Thursday - has battled pulled hamstrings since the start of practice and Beilein, himself a victim of the consistently tight hammys, has been extra cautious. …
“Now that it’s happened, it’s got to be a season-long therapy thing,” Beilein said. “We can’t let down. He’s always been tight in his hamstrings. I have tight hamstrings so I know what it’s like. It can lead to back problems.
“Stretching is not my favorite thing to do, it’s not his. Therapy isn’t, but he has to do it. “
Ugh. Season-long nagging injury for the unquestioned star of the team. This is not so good.
Because you're still on a Quest for Toronto. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, the fantastic Syracuse blog, asks "why isn't anyone talking about Scott Shafer?" Insert snark here. But then TNIAAM drops some year-to-year numbers that are a little bothersome since Michigan and Syracuse have essentially swapped defensive coordinators:
Syracuse Defense Rankings 2008 vs 2009 (through seven games)
|Statistic||2008 Defense||2009 Defense|
|Tackles For Loss||106th||49th|
|Opp. 3rd Down Conv.||117th||38th|
That's across-the-board improvement except in pass defense. So, okay, there's a lot of noise in these numbers and they'll probably fall with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh the next two games on the schedule. And Syracuse apparently returned a lot of people on defense, including all the good players. But it's at least an indication that Scott Shafer isn't a total git who lucked his way into the Michigan job and blew it all by himself.
On the other hand: the last time I offered a small complaint about Robinson, one of the guys from The Only Colors who does their version of UFR emailed me about a post he'd put up highlighting Robinson's halftime adjustments. That's pretty noisy, too, but in the offseason we'll take a thorough look at the two defenses.
Early signing. Don't know why this came up just now but Rodriguez is in favor of a couple changes to recruiting. One is an early signing day that this site has advocated before:
“I would be in favor of having an early signing day around the third week in December, when the junior-college signing date is, and then have another signing date like we do now on the first Wednesday in February," Rodriguez said on Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference.
The other item he's mentioned is the past is allowing schools to offer official visits over the summer, something that makes sense for schools fairly distant from talent sources in Florida.
Adios, Ufer. Bob Ufer died this week in 1981, and a guy emailed me to let me know he'd been putting up some Ufer retrospective videos on the tubes:
I haven't spent a lot of time scouring youtube to confirm this, but I bet Michigan dominates it, what with Wolverine Historian and this poster ("Ghosts of Michigan") and now a zillion individual plays from UFR.
CONSPIRACY These are the items I was talking about Monday when I mentioned a number of questionable calls that went against Michigan. The illegal formation is on the right tackle here:
There was also the too-many-men call on the Robinson interception, or lack thereof:
You can see the ball has already been snapped.
Rodriguez is not happy about this stuff, nor is he happy about the ridiculous Schilling holding call—the second time in two Big Ten games that Schillling's crushed a guy and gotten a hold for his troubles. RR:
"Some of them I understand, when you twist and turn a guy, whatever," Rodriguez said. "But if you've got your hands inside in great position, you're drive blocking a guy and he falls down, because, one, he loses his balance or something, I don't think it should be called holding.
"There is more of a gray area, and there's more frustration, I think, in seeing some of the calls."
No doubt some Penn State fan will run back to his message board going "lol we won 35-10" so let's just be clear: this did not have an impact on the outcome of the game.
While I'm at it, here's Holly Rowe, Hoth Edition:
Etc.: College presidents complaining about how coaches' salaries are excessive. Adrian Witty is still planning to enroll in January. Beilein's top priority for AD is a guy who will renovate Crisler for serious. A package of reforms designed to make the money trail from shady college coaches to shady AAU coaches more illegal has passed in its entirety.