Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
1/1/2012 – Michigan 28, South Carolina 33 – 8-5, EOS
Well, it's over.
A confession: before yesterday I had attended one bowl game in my life, that the 2007 Rose Bowl in which Michigan was tied 3-3 with USC at halftime and got their doors blown off in the second half when Pete Carroll told his OC to stop running the ball, period. That was crushing despite the inevitability of the loss once Michigan's severe lack of corner depth was put to the test.
This game was far closer to even—South Carolina was in fact one yard better than M before their final drive, one which almost didn't get off the ground—and yet by the time I exited the stadium I was pretty much over it. This was weird for all sorts of reasons, foremost among them a sense that I would have cared more if I had watched it on TV. As the game reached its frenetic pitch I did reconnect, to my relief. Still, it took a lot to recover from finding out Michigan had been designated Team Coconut Shrimp, or something. There's just not that much difference between four and five losses.
In retrospect this season lost its urgency the moment Denard's elbow banged the Memorial Stadium turf and Michigan's offense died in Lincoln. That game staked the Huskers to a lead they would not relinquish no matter how they tried. Michigan was reduced to playing out the string without Senior Hero at quarterback, without a shot at the Big Ten championship, without the storybook ending every Michigan fan entered the year pining for.
There were moments of vitality when it looked like Nebraska might blow it, but Michigan wasn't playing those games. By the time the bowl rolled around it was exhibition time, with little on the line other than a few spots in a poll that would have Michigan 15th at best. A starting cornerback and the punter confirmed that analysis by violating team rules and being left home.
I went to see Denard for a last time, and ended up squinting to make sure he wasn't Vincent Smith. He ran 23 times, picked up 100 yards, ground out 4.8 yards a carry, and reminded me of that picture of Mike Hart in a Colts uniform Johnny put up in a post, where Hart looked old—erosion old—and like he was doing something as a job. It took about 20 open tabs to find it, but yeah.
I think Johnny was maybe projecting his own thought processes onto Hart a little when he wrote this…
But he’s more mechanical now; he doesn't smile like he used to, he isn’t as self-indulgent. His cuts aren’t as risky – more just graceful, cautious lunges. He’s a professional now, measured and stoic and less eccentric. He looks stronger, and too focused. It used to just be a playful resentment for the institution, but now he seems like he respects it. It’s like the NFL has tranquilized him.
…because I know that Denard hasn't changed much since he made everyone laugh and caused me to bolt upright when he ran through two Ohio State tackles at the end of the first half of The Game.
It is the end, though, and Denard looks like this
and I'm a little disoriented. This season was not supposed to end with Peter Pan becoming an accountant.
He was good. He seemed like a plausible NFL running back once he learns how to block. He joins LSU's Jeremy Hill as the only running back not from Wofford's triple option to crack 100 yards against Clowney and company. For him there is still a lot at stake, and yesterday was important. It is a fine career that awaits him.
But I just keep thinking of that throw he made, and what it represented. How those moments where he'd go to the sideline holding his hand built up and finally washed over the levee. If his arm had held up, or Rich Rodriguez had recruited some OL, or Devin Gardner had stayed at quarterback… if.
That's a burden now: what if Denard dot dot dot. Instead of an exclamation point, we end with an ellipses. Unspoken thoughts, trailing off. Re-carving a rock-hard past into something more pleasing. What could have been, etc.
I don't understand why I felt disconnected. I guess it was because this thing I was at was not what I thought it would be, and for once someone managed to keep Denard from obliterating all doubt.
Well okay. No real complaints about Borges this time around, but it was really odd how South Carolina reacted to the Denard plays at QB, all predictable runs save the attempted screen. They still dropped a safety 20-30 yards deep, sometimes two guys at 15 yards, and while they tended to blitz they did not sell out like Ohio State did in the second half, even after Denard's lame duck of a throw.
I'm still a little disappointed that Denard wasn't used more as an attention-grabbing decoy. Despite that Michigan had a solid day on offense that would have verged on excellent if Gardner's accuracy had been better.
Wither Northwestern/Iowa Devin? With five games under his belt I think we can say that Gardner's accuracy leaves a bit to be desired. The Minnesota game was effective but shaky; he blew through Northwestern and Iowa, and now he's had a couple of games where some bad decisions and awkward throws hurt him against quality defenses.
In this one he hit 18 of 36 for 214 yards, 3 TDs, and an interception. 5.9 YPA is poor. There were throws to make there, and he just missed them. He made up for that with a couple scrambles, I guess.
WR corps 2013: not a problem maybe? Jeremy Gallon may be small in stature, but he is his own imaginary 11-foot-tall friend made of dreams. This is not quite the rocket boots touchdown from the Minnesota game, but I mean come on pretty nice:
Meanwhile, his other touchdown came on a post route on which he got open one-on-one a play after he smoked that same corner crispy on a corner route that Gardner actually threw a split second too early, before Gallon had even made his break. The TD:
Gardner trusts the guy to get open, that's clear.
His 9 catches and 145 yards push him up to 49 and 825 on the year, which is impressive production given that he caught a lot of screens that would normally make achieving a 16.8 YPC impossible and that the quarterbacking for much of the year was erratic.
Gallon's season totals are now in a virtual dead heat with Kenny Bell and Jared Abbrederis for second in the league behind thousand-yard-guy Allen Robinson of Penn State, and he made an array of tough catches without more than a drop or two all season.
As a senior is he a quality #1 option? I think the answer there is clearly yes. Take his production in the Gardner era and extrapolate it across as season and you get 81 catches for 1329 yards—ie, one of the top ten receivers in the country.
I'll be interested to see what his yards per target is if Football Study Hall updates those numbers that showed Junior Hemingway was probably the most underrated player at Michigan in a long time. While Gallon's small stature doesn't hurt him in the UFR catch numbers, the simple fact that he's not 6'4" turns balls that Devin Funchess could nab easily into uncatchable zeroes. I think he'll come out well—last year he was top five in yards per target with a per-catch average of 14.6.
Add in Dileo—an excellent underneath option—with a maturing Funchess and you only need one of Darboh/Chesson to step up to have a solid set of options.
Nope, but pretty much anyway. Denard bludgeoned out 100 yards on 23 carries as basically a tailback, which was quite good against a quality run defense behind an offensive line that couldn't get anyone else an inch. It, however, dropped Denard's season YPC to 7.2, a tenth behind Ty Wheatley's 1992 campaign. If we take out sacks Robinson suffered he would pop back above Wheatley, but that's not how it looks in the record book.
Of course if we're going to start poking around at sacks we might as well take a larger view. This line versus to Michigan's 1992 outfit featuring future longtime pro Steve Everitt, three other All Big Ten linemen (Joe Cocozzo, Rob Doherty, and Doug Skene) plus future first-round NFL draft pick Trezelle Jenkins*? There is no comparison. Four of those guys were drafted, two in the first round. Lewan will go high and I bet Schofield works his way into mid-round consideration, but there's no comparison between the interior lines.
AN IMPORTANT OPEN LETTER FROM MICHIGAN TAILBACKS TO FUTURE GAME SCHEDULES
Dear future Michigan game schedules,
Please endeavor to exclude South Carolina.
Michigan running backs but especially Thomas Wilcher and Vincent Smith
[South Carolina lost that '85 game 34-3, FWIW.]
On the demolishing. Lewan was frank about what happened. Via Andy Staples:
Meanwhile, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges had called a Power run to the left side. Wolverines offensive tackle Taylor Lewan -- whose play against Clowney on Tuesday further solidified his place near the top of the NFL draft if he chooses to turn pro -- noticed something amiss about Clowney's alignment. "The end lined up on me in such a gray area that I had to call a Deuce to the inside," Lewan said. Lewan explained that a Deuce call ties the tackle to the guard, and their responsibilities are the lineman nearest the guard and the backside linebacker. By making the Deuce call, Lewan had untied himself from tight end Mike Kwiatkowski, who had anticipated working in tandem with Lewan on the play. Lewan said Kwiatkowski didn't hear the Deuce call, and video replays make that quite obvious. Kwiatkowski fired off the line at an angle that would have been perfect had he and Lewan been working a combo block. But Lewan was working a combo block with guard Ricky Barnum. Clowney, the owner of one of college football's quickest first steps, shot the gap before Kwiatkowski could realize what happened. "He's got that little slip move," Spurrier said. "When they come at him, they get nothing but air." Smith never had a chance. "That miscommunication," Lewan said. "Those are the plays that can lose games."
Just a miscommunication that got Smith decleated—de-everythinged.
Terry Richardson, Delonte Holowell—thanks for playing. Disclaimers about young players improving apply.
That said, Michigan was so opposed to putting those guys on the field that even after four verts blew them to pieces several times in the previous three quarters Michigan still stuck with a nickel package featuring Jarrod Wilson at free safety and Gordon/Kovacs moving down over the slots, with the subsequent events we all know and are slightly depressed about.
Don't click play if you are still depressed.
Kovacs should never have been put in that position, covering South Carolina's leading receiver, and Jarrod Wilson seems super super late—he should not have been on the field.
That's not Kovacs's game, everyone knows that's not his game, there's a reason he was a walk-on, and for Michigan to resort to that indicates that the two small guys from Cass Tech basically can't see the field, period. As a true freshman Richardson still has some hope of finding his way as a nickel corner down the road; as a redshirt sophomore, if Holowell can't see the field in that game he's never going to. Since spring practice Michigan lost four corners (Floyd, Countess, Talbott, Carter) and still not a sniff. Bad news.
Also, WTF was with moving Norfleet then? At least give the guy a chance to be a third down back—Michigan is now in the market for one.
JT Floyd: guh. Michigan wins this game if they can go to the Avery nickel package with confidence; they couldn't because JT Floyd got left home for the final game of his career. I hope it was worth it, man.
Kenny Demens coverage: missed. I assume that Bolden can get there in time, but not all of the seam bustage was on safteies/corner folk. For one, I blame no one on that Ace Sanders touchdown that was in by about a millimeter—that'll happen. On the tight end completion I bet that was a linebacker not carrying that guy. It's still pretty great that Michigan went much of the game with true freshmen at LB and performed very well against the run.
Beyer will win the WDE spot next year. The huge South Carolina QB run was Frank Clark ignoring backside responsibility and chasing a tailback without the ball as two other guys tackled him. This is a full year after he was biffing these things against Scheelhaase; to make a mistake that momentous on a basic, basic play is a good indication that he's just not getting there mentally. If he was making big plays to repair his mistakes, maybe that's one thing, but the pass rush he adds is minimal. If he doesn't figure it out, he's going to fall off the two deep quickly with Ojemudia and Charlton pressing from behind.
Oblig. game theory bits. Plenty to chew on in this game.
ONE: Fake field goal on which Dileo runs around and stuff for a first down.
The box score has this a 4th and 6 from the 27; in the stadium they had it 4th and 9. Assuming that Everybody Loves Raymond Stadium was wrong, that's a push according to the Advanced NFL Stats calculator. The break even point is 53%; given how Michigan's fake field goals have gone I'd say that's a coin flip. Since M was down 11 at the time, increasing that variance is probably to your advantage.
TWO: Fake punt on which 9.9 yards is basically a first down, man.
This was fourth and four from the Michigan 37.
Loved this. Michigan was up one with around eight minutes left. If you can go on a drive, rip four or five minutes off the clock, and even get a field goal you've tipped the scales in your direction massively. If you fail, you are in a bit of a bad spot but a South Carolina score allows you time to respond. As it happened, Michigan got the first down (sort of) and still felt the sting of what failure would have been like—then they responded with a touchdown drive. Love Hoke going for the jugular there.
THREE: Unsportsmanlike conduct on South Carolina's second-to-last TD.
My initial instinct was to take the penalty on the two-point conversion (argh), which would have put that at the 18 and all but forced a one-point attempt. South Carolina didn't get it and subsequently kicked from the 20; Michigan got it out slightly over the 35.
I still think the play there is to take it on the two-point conversion, as you're significantly reducing the chance that is successful. That seems well worth the ten yards Michigan picked up.
FOUR: Spurrier is not Ferentz.
Michigan's ultimate demise came on another four verts play on which the seam came wide open as a Michigan seam defender—in this case Jordan Kovacs—got smoked. That was pure OBC, and won them the game.
The setup: South Carolina's kicker was 11 of 15 on the season but had missed a moderate length field goal and had another blocked. They had a timeout left, it was second and ten from the 32, and the Gamecocks had been pounding the seams all day. Spurrier gets Kovacs lined up over Ace Sanders, ballgame. Tip of the cap. This was a game in which both coaches went for the win.
THEY S'POSED TO BE NFL
Everyone Hates Raymond Stadium. If you're ever on the fence about going to an Outback Bowl in the future, don't. I imagine the scoreboard situation is going to get repaired in the near future, but until then that stadium has the worst I've ever seen. They're useless. They're tiny, 40% of them are given over to ads during replays, and you can't see anything on them anyway. They're worse—much worse—than the boards Michigan just replaced. It was flabbergasting. I mean, it's an NFL stadium. I hear they're doing fairly well for themselves.
Meanwhile, the stadium itself has an incredibly shallow rise, which means if you're unfortunately positioned in what purports to be a good seat*, you spend large chunks of the game looking around beer vendors or Only Guy In The Section Standing Up Guy. The sidelines are huge; the field is not that far below seat level. The end result is a lot of very bad seats, and not much recourse when you can't figure out what happened immediately.
In addition, the area around the stadium is run-down and amenity-free. There's nothing within walking distance. It is the opposite of stadium districts in Detroit, Denver, Columbus, Minneapolis, Pasadena, etc. Unless it is geographically convenient or your favorite player(s) are entering their last games ever you probably shouldn't go. The guy who makes 800k for running the thing probably deserves it for keeping such a crappy venue high up in the pecking order.
Tampa is everything it's reputed to be, as well. Most Tampa thing: all the police cars advertise their website located at www.tampagov.net.
*[This reminded me of Wrigley, actually. A fan of the blog with access to nice tickets threw us a couple a few years back and I spent literally an entire half-inning looking into the paunch of a beer vendor since Wrigley's rise is minuscule. Vertical stadiums are the best.]
Everyone Hates Adidas. I mean, who could have known that putting light yellow numbers on a white jersey would make it impossible to tell who was who? It's almost as if these uniform stunts aren't well thought out.
I was skeptic in re: guys on message boards proclaiming that Nike was the best and that moving to Adidas was a mistake despite the fact they would give Michigan all of the money. I was wrong.
Two things have finally torn it:
- This uniformz debacle. Completely impossible to tell who was who. Didn't figure out Demens wasn't playing much, if at all, until second half, and that was because twitter was talking about it. I had no idea which DB got burned on the first touchdown until twitter told me, as well. Idiotic.
- Hockey third jerseys. You have to see these in person to fully appreciate how awful they look. It's not just the weaselferret. It's not even sort of the weaselferret. It's that they look like they came straight off the rack from the Walmart replica section.
Once this contract is up Michigan should flee. They will just take whoever offers them more money; after what Underarmour did with Northwestern this year I am rooting my ass off for those guys. Yeah, Maryland, whatever. That's on the AD. If M screws it up as much as the Terrapins we'll know what the problem is.
WE DIDN'T LISTEN
WE DIDN'T LISTEN
I'll collect game reacts later; this is tough to do in a day now that it's ballooned into a 5000 word monstrosity.
24 minutes of Denard Robinson's finest work, courtesy of WolverineHistorian:
It's been an honor and a pleasure.
Running a route. That is the takeaway from the Outback Bowl practice video: a ball thrown downfield to Denard Robinson, who is playing wide receiver.
Hopefully that did not six takes to get right.
Also they took the uniform mannequin to the Outback Steakhouse on Ann Arbor-Saline, because he was getting sick of staring out the window of Schembechler Hall. Good to see him get some air.
The matte finish is a first for the U-M headgear. Back in the 70s and 80s there was no gloss finish on the Michigan helmets. Much like their coach, there was no flashiness to them – they were maize and blue and that was that. You’d be surprised at how basic and crude those old helmets look compared to the newer ones of today. From 1977:
If you wanted the old ones to look shiny, you would have to rub some car wax on them!
The yellows on the new jersey definitely do not match the helmet, which is a very Sparty thing to do.
Tom From AA rounded up reactions on Facebook and found that most people bothering to insert a comment are opposed:
I went through and tallied 665 of the comments. That's not all of them, but after a while the percentages stayed the same, so I'm saying this is a SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND representation of the FB page's population. It took far too long to go through 650+ so I decided not to keep going through the now 3000 comments. Like I said, the percentages started holding pretty strong around n=300, so should be representative. I ignored trolls and unrelated posts.
Like 102 15.3% Dislike 378 56.8% Helmets: Yes! Uniforms: No! 154 23.1% Meh 13 1.9% Helmets: No! Uniforms: Yes! 18 2.7%
I had other categories as well, such as "Sarcasm" and "slappy." The former of which generally disliked the jerseys, the later of which said "anything Blue wears is good" so I did not include them in the "Like" category.
People in favor seem—how to put this gently—brain damaged.
Representative "Like" Comment
SWAGG! Matt finish to the helmets!! And the jersey is to fly!
You have brain damage and/or are 14, sir. Some responders in the comments here note that incensed people are much more likely to leave a comment than people mildly in favor, and that's true. Whenever a Picture Pages post has 100 comments around here, 80% of them will be complaints. So take it with a grain of salt. Except don't because if you do like the jerseys your brain is probably melting as we speak.
Hmm. Not that it's a surprise, but Taylor Lewan doesn't sound like a guy who's planning on a return:
Even though the Wolverines face replacing a good portion of the offensive line next season, Lewan said he's confident things will work out.
"I don't think Michigan will have a big problem with the offensive line next year," he said.
Maybe that's reading between the lines too finely. No one thinks he'll be back, though.
In other NFL news, Illinois's Akeem Spence declares. Michigan wasn't going to play them next year anyway.
It's gotta go somewhere. The coffers overflow, and the latest beneficiaries:
Clemson’s assistants — at a combined total of more than $4.2 million, including outside income — are the highest-paid group among the 102 public schools for which USA TODAY Sports could obtain 2012 pay information for at least eight of the nine assistants generally allowed by NCAA rules. There are 124 FBS schools.
LSU’s assistants also are collecting more than $4 million. Seven other schools have assistants totaling more than $3 million in compensation: Texas, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and Oklahoma State.
Last year, six schools had $3 million assistant-coaching staffs. In 2009, there was one: Tennessee’s, at $3.3 million.
I'm surprised Michigan isn't on that list with both coordinators now pushing into the upper six figures.
The pictured coaches are Chad Morris, Clemson's $1.3 million offensive coordinator and… I'm not sure but some guy at USC. This is a very silly graphic.
[HT: Get The Picture.]
A good hire? After some confusion it does appear that Wisconsin's new coach is Gary Andersen, lately of Utah State. Andersen doesn't have massively more experience than the latest fliers the conference has taken on MAC coaches, but in four years he turned Utah State from a national doormat into an 11-2 outfit that lost its two games to Wisconsin by two and BYU by three. They took out a BCS team in Utah and annihilated Toledo for a bowl win. The last two years of Idaho Potato bowls were the first winning seasons in the I-A history of the program. That's a pretty solid resume.
The reaction of his players on twitter is also a good sign—various takes on "The only man I want to play for." You never know, but it seems like this has a decent chance of working out as long as the offensive transition isn't too harsh. Utah State is a spread 'n' shred type outfit.
Despite that, tentative thumbs up for a Big Ten hire. Strange days.
Last night in Big Ten hoops sponsored by Barbasol. Close shaves abounded. Both Michigan State and Ohio State were dead even with BGSU and Winthrop for about 30 minutes before pulling away late, and Nebraska managed to turn a 15 point lead against Jacksonville State with seven minutes left into a tight contest. Close shave, (terrible parts of) America (and Nebraska)!
Here's an MSU fan freakout from the first 30 minutes of last night's game against BGSU. I don't think it should impact how you interpret MSU in the league, unfortunately. By the end, Kenpom was eerily close on the score (it was a road game). It feels better to leap out to that ten point lead early and play most of the game comfortably ahead, but all the possessions are worth the same.
Transition efficiency. Dylan gets some stats from Synergy sports and notes a massive improvement in Michigan's transition offense:
According to statistics from Synergy Sports, Michigan is scoring 1.31 points per transition possession – a dramatic improvement from the 1.09 points per possession that the Wolverines netted on transition possessions last season. That number ranks in the 96th percentile nationally and compares favorably to the rest of the conference.
Team % of Poss. in Transition Points Per Transition Poss. Minnesota 15.3% 1.35 Michigan 17.2% 1.31 Ohio State 18.2% 1.30 Indiana 20.4% 1.19 Wisconsin 7.0% 1.16 Purdue 11.3% 1.15 Illinois 13.0% 1.01 Michigan State 20.2% 0.98 Iowa 16.6% 0.96 Penn State 13.1% 0.94 Nebraska 8.1% 0.94 Northwestern 8.8% 0.82
Source: Synergy Sports
Good things happen when Michigan pushes the ball in transition. Obviously there are more easy opportunities in transition (the Wolverines average .96 PPP in half court sets – a very good figure in its own right) but the Wolverines have maximized their transition effectiveness.
Northwestern's transition offense is much worse than their half-court sets, which is kind of amazing. Meanwhile, Michigan's boost this year does not appear to be about schedule strength—most teams haven't played a schedule as good as Michigan's.
Dylan credits Burke and that's obviously a big part of it. Another is the fact that if you lose Stauskas in transition he will put a three on your face. In your face. Speaking of, I found this:
And now I wonder why it took so long to happen.
Etc.: Missouri safety gets the boot for having a small amount of pot, but really I just want to note that his name is "Ka'ra," which sounds like an ancient Egyptian god from a Saturday morning cartoon. Horford's painful looking injury is a dislocated kneecap, which is a very good thing since he should be able to return in a few weeks. Derrick Walton is doing good things. Quinton Washington profiled by his hometown newspaper.
"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
- The team will focus on fundamentals in practice over the next week or so.
- Team will leave for Tampa on the 23rd.
- The NFL discussion with Taylor Lewan will continue after the bowl.
- Devin Gardner had an ankle issue after the OSU game (was spotted walking around in a boot). Otherwise no new boo boos.
“You know, we’re obviously thrilled to be heaing to the Outback Bowl our fifth time. The bowl itself, the organization, the volunteers, they’ve always been gracious hosts. The city of Tampa and Clearwater do a tremendous job of embracing the bowl, making it a great event for both teams. It’s an opportunity to play a very good football team in South Carolina. 10-2, Coach Spurrier is one of the iconic coaches in this country. Laid a great foundation and has done a great job at South Carolina, really did a great job at Florida when he was the head ball coach down there. So it’s going to be a great football game, one that we’re excited to be a part of against a great opponent.”
How much do you know at this point about South Carolina?
“I know they have a really good front from a defensive perspective. I think they gave up 17 points a game. Very athletic. Lost at Florida and at LSU, so their two losses were on the road against two very good football teams. I think offensively the quarterback has done a nice job. I think the coach is a hard guy to please at that position. Lattimore won’t play obviously, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of the great football players in the country, but from that standpoint, you just start breaking them down.”
Your brother coached with Steve Spurrier. Were you able to get to know him and form a relationship as a result?
“You know, a little bit. Not a huge one, but Jon was there, my brother was there three years, Steve’s last three, as his defensive coordinator. Steve and his wife are really nice people. They treated my brother well. Him and Jon talk back and forth, but it’ll be a fun football game to be a part of.”
How much will the time off help Denard recover and do more than he was doing at the end of the regular season?
“Well, I think we hope for all of them -- they go through the grind. It’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit. We’ll start practicing at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday. They’ll do some lifting and running this week. But to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them all.”
Any injuries resulting from the OSU game?
“No. Not really. Devin had a little bit of an ankle, but he’ll be fine by the time we get started on Friday.”
How do you improve your ability to run the ball and limiting turnovers for this game?
“Well I think we always work hard on running the football. That’s not going to change. We always preach and teach the mindset of running the football and finishing at the line of scrimmage and backs finishing on safeties and the ninth man or eighth man that people want to get in the box. But I think you just keep plowing through it going forward, and your demands and your expectations have to be met.”
How much emphasis will be put on developing younger players?
“Yeah, we’ll start going Friday, Saturday this weekend, and then Friday, Saturday next weekend. We have finals coming up and all those kinds of things, so those will be more of just the fundamentals and the basics, kind of getting back to it for everyone. We’ll use a lot of that time to help develop the young guys. And then as we go through the bowl practices, we’ll devote some time to those young guys and what we want to get accomplished.”
When do you leave for Tampa? And what’s your philosophy on working your players too hard vs. not enough?
“That’s always the fine line, to be honest with you. We’re going to leave on the 23rd and practice when we get down there, kind of get acclimated to where we’ll be and all those things, which I don’t completely know yet. Mike Vollmer and Bob Lopez are down there now securing the sites, but we’ll go down the 23rd. Most game planning should be all done by the time we leave, so that’s always a positive. We’ll kind of judge where we’re at from health, from the mindset of where we are and what we’ll do.”
Why has Hopkins left the team?
“You’d have to ask him. I know we already discussed it.”
When did he let you know?
“He let me know.”
The Big Ten has struggled against the SEC. Do you feel like you’re playing for the conference?
“I think you always are. I think you’re playing for Michigan and your seniors first, but we’re proud to be in the Big Ten. Why we wouldn’t want to represent and have that be part of our focus, it’d be really bad for us not to feel that way about the Big Ten.”
What do you want to see from Devin?
“Continued growth as a quarterback. His development is just like some of those guys, you know, Willie Henry’s growth -- only it’s a little different because he’s a quarterback. Willie Henry’s a nose tackle or a three-technique. So Willie’s not touching the ball a whole lot, right? So I think his continued growth to playing in big football games and environments not in Michigan Stadium.”
How has playing a tough schedule prepared you for the level of talent you’ll face in the bowl game?
“I think there’s always a benefit. When you play good football teams, and whether you win or lose, you learn how you have to play. You learn that you have to do a better job taking care of the football. You have to run the football better. You have to get the ball back for your offense at the end of the game to give them the opportunity to score. Those are all the things you take out of the last game that we didn’t do.”
How important is it to win this bowl game?
“I think as we would look at it, for our seniors, that ninth win -- you always want 10 when you’re here. It’s kind of an expectation. But sending them out in a real positive fashion and I think you build some momentum going into winter conditioning.”
Is it harder to vote in the coaches’ poll knowing that your choices are made public?
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s -- you know, I think you vote your conscience. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
Why did you have Michigan 15th?
“Becaue I think we’re a good team. You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
You met with Taylor this last week?
Any words of wisdom?
“You know that I don’t have a whole lot of words of wisdom, but we’ll talk after the bowl game. We’ll do our due diligence and trying to get him as much information as we can.”
When do you expect to hear back from the advisory committee?
“I don’t know.”
What kind of a test will it be for him to go up against Jadaveon Clowney?
“Well I haven’t talked to him since we found out who we were playing. But if you’re truly a competitor, I think it would be a tremendous, fun opportunity.”
What are the tangible rewards of playing a tough schedule? Seems like teams aren’t really rewarded for it.
“Well I don’t think you are, but I think for us and this program and the future of the program, I think it’s a real positive. Playing in a kickoff classic in Arlington, everything that goes along with it and how you prepare, it’s kind of a big stage. So I think that all helps.”
Is there anyone you’ve coached or coached against that you can compare to Jadaveon Clowney?
“Mm mm. He’s pretty good.”
What’s your feeling about Te’O and the Heisman? Brian Kelly said if Te’O doesn’t win it, why not just make it an offensive award?
“I think if I were Brian Kelly, I’d say the same thing. You know, my thoughts on it? I think everyone’s going to have an opinion, every voter’s going to have an opinion on does he do enough? But no one really knows what he does for that team. I think he’s worthy of it. But I don’t know if Johnny Manziel’s not worthy of it. And I don’t know if it’s just Johnny Manziel. I don’t even know who’s up for it. But Te’O, being a defensive guy, I’m kind of in his corner.”
Thoughts on the MAC getting their first BCS bowl?
“I think it’s great for that league. The MAC’s a great league.”
Why did you invite Hagerup to camp even though he was suspended for four games? He said it meant a lot to him.
“Well I thought it was important for him to be around his teammates. There were some mistakes that were made that we’ve all made -- some of you maybe haven’t -- but it’s nice for a kid to be around his teammates.”
ahhhhhh berlerve ir can fler (Upchurch)
Michigan sits at the end of the regular season with a lot better idea of what they'll do without Denard Robinson than they did before he got injured at Nebraska. This is what they call a silver lining. Yeah, the Cornspiracy is playing a 7-5 team they already beat to go to the Rose Bowl, but what are they doing at quarterback next year?
It seems they are still playing Taylor Martinez. Screw them!
Anyway, Michigan's offense before and after the Gardner injury was vastly different, so let's take a look at some rough outlines.
Gardner played games against Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, and Ohio State. These were the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th defenses in the Big Ten in terms of yardage. In terms of pass efficiency D they were 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 10th. (Oddly, Minnesota is the top team in both those categories.) This is a slightly worse sample than a random one, but if we're projecting overall stats to next year that's fair-ish since Michigan will play three non-BCS teams in their four nonconference games. It's ballpark, but the ballpark should be in the ballpark.
Obviously this is all very rough. We're projecting season to date, so aiming for 12 games.
Hypothetical Individual Stats
171 completions on 270 attempts, 63% completions, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 3015 yards, 11.1 YPA(!). This would place him first in the Big Ten in passer efficiency by a mile and would in fact be #1 nationally. That's not happening, but if he can be in the top 20 that would be awesome.
Also he would have 105 rushes for 231 yards, which is depressed by sack yardage and Michigan avoiding called runs with him since the alternative seemed to be Jack Kennedy.
- Gallon: 66 catches for 1098 yards(!)
- Roundtree: 45 catches for 1134 yards(!)
- Drew Dileo: remains criminally underused
- Devin Funchess: 9 catches for 132 yards. Hmm, bad.
That seems swell. Except…
- Fitzgerald Toussaint: 34 carries for 191 yards, 5.6 YPC
- Thomas Rawls: 32 carries for 68 yards, 2.1 YPC.
- Vincent Smith: 8 carries for 21 yards, 2.6 YPC
- TOTAL: 3.8 YPC.
Denard is of course the wildcard, as he averaged 8.2 yards a carry in conference and 7.6(!) overall, which is the best YPC season at Michigan since at least 1949 (minimum 100 carries). I mean:
I left sacks on both QBs in, FWIW. Not that it matters. Denard averaged 9.3 YPC on 23 carries against Iowa and OSU but we don't really need to extrapolate with him, we have all the data. He was four yards per carry better than any other option available. Stupid elbow.
Hypothetical Team Stats
These are difficult to parse out because of the Denard complication. But, yeah, #1 in passer efficiency. In yards, an even 400, which would be 64th. Rush offense slides to 148 a game, which puts them below Michigan state, well into the 70s. Pass offense goes from 95th to 49th.
Michigan going so slow all the time hurts them in these raw stats, of course. The efficiency is extremely promising as long as they can run block at all. Which, maybe?