spoiler alert: i linked this
No bags. Bags. None of them Saturday. Don't bring bags of any variety to the stadium. You can't bring them in.
Site note! A couple tweaks: annoyed with the folk who would just post diaries because they didn't have the requisite 20 points, I removed the minimum points required to post a board thread. Q: should I have gone the other way? I can do that.
The other tweak: lightbox links that won't take you off the page now have dotted underlines so they're differentiated from regular old links.
The starting lineups. Multiple people have asked what's with the lack of starting lineup announcements, so I asked Bruce Madej. The response:
Really, it came down to timing. The idea to develop more on an exciting atmosphere prior to the game works around keeping things upbeat, quick and exciting. We only have a little over three minutes to accomplish what we are trying to do. The starting lineups were long and drawn out. Hope this helps.
I'm not exactly sure how that helps. With the starting lineups there was cheering and shouting "who cares" and now there's nothing. I've got a follow-up in.
The starting lineups part II. David Moosman was expected to start in David Molk's place if he was healthy and he is:
David Moosman is back practicing after missing last week's win over Eastern Michigan with a shoulder injury, and Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez said he'll start at center in Saturday's Big Ten opener.
“He had a good practice" Tuesday, Rodriguez said. "He’ll be ready to go."
Moosman will be replaced by John Ferrara, who played against Eastern, or by moving Huyge inside and starting Perry Dorrestein at RT. Carlos Brown is still the starter at RB as Minor tries to get over his high ankle sprain before serious opponents pop up on the schedule, and Mike Williams' ankle went from "tweaked" to "sprained"; he was in a red jersey yesterday. He might miss the Indiana game if they're being cautious.
Hurray now we have to deal with this all year. Cheap Shotty the Boiler Lineman got his one game suspension. As you might imagine, Danny Hope is displeased:
“Well, really he [Rodriguez] should worry about his own team,” Hope said Sunday. “I didn’t think Zach Reckman’s play at the end of the game was all that vicious. ... I’m sure it’s going to be brought up and we’ll address it. I don’t think he should have gone in there and jumped on that guy at the end of the play, but maybe he was hoping the ball would come loose. He was just trying to give us a chance to win.”
That last part is just as laughable as Rodriguez's assertion that Mouton was attempting to free himself. And, of course, Rodriguez is worried about his own team.
Should this guy be suspended? No. But now the Big Ten is in the position of trying to make the Mouton suspension not seem like a one-off idiotic decision based on the complaining of the Great White Fail. I'd actually prefer the hypocrisy to the new "policy."
Scoop and score? Robbie Czarnik's cousin Austin was a Michigan State hockey commit until just recently:
I had heard a rumor this past June that NTDP forward Austin Czarnik had de-committed from Michigan State, and checking the NTDP's roster today, he's now listed as uncommitted, so that would seem to confirm that.
Czarnik's stock's shot up in the past year—he was the U17's leading scorer—and decided that casting his lot with the CCHA's 11th-place team and Rick Comley (who just got a contract extension!) was unwise. Now that he's back on the market, you figure that Michigan and his brother look like an attractive option. A catch: Czarnik will skate with the U18s this year, but he's only in the 11th grade. He'll have to head to the USHL for a year before heading to college, which makes him a 2011 prospect. This means he would only overlap with his cousin for one year, and that's assuming Robbie stays all four years. (Pretty good assumption at this point, but still.) OTOH, it also means that Michigan would have plenty of room for him.
Czarnik has been drafted by an OHL team but at 5'8" and 150 pounds he's not likely to be the sort of super-hot NHL commodity for which the CHL actually makes sense. Also he probably wouldn't decommit from Michigan State, he'd just sign with the OHL team.
Elsewhere in hockey land, Lake State's coach had some interesting comments in the aftermath of the Big Ten's decision to reject Alabama-Huntsville:
Roque pointed to both the situation with Bowling Green [which almost folded] and “pressure by the Big Ten Conference” to have Big Ten member teams from the CCHA and WCHA face off more during the season. “If anything, I think our league schedule is going to change here in the next year or two as far as a few less league games to allow those schools to play each other more,” Roque said.
Wha? Michigan and Michigan State already play a game each against Wisconsin and Minnesota every year; adding more—which would be 100% for the Big Ten Network, I imagine—would bring the number of games up enough to start contemplating a quasi-official Big Ten Championship.
And there are a bunch of photos of incoming recruits Chris Brown, Kevin Lynch, and AJ Treais at HockeyPhotography.com. Aaaand and WCH's CCHA season preview pegs Michigan second. Notre Dame is picked to repeat; State picked ninth.
Etc.: Men's soccer now 7-1 heading into the Big Ten schedule. Game went from 1-1 at halftime to 5-1 at 62 minutes.
Okay. Picture Pages has shown you three different counterpunches to the scrape exchange over the first couple weeks of the season. There's throwing a wide open bubble screen. There's shooting a blocker into the backside of the play and galloping through the gaping hole that results. And there's peeling that same blocker around the back to pick off the scraper and get the quarterback into acres of space in which Tate Forcier should run straight upfield until murdered by a safety no matter how many people disagree with me in the comments. Michigan broke out the second of those several times against Eastern, picking up a bunch of first downs and one ninety-yard touchdown.
So why bother doing this stupid thing that just results in various big plays in your face? Well… because it's better than the alternative. Meet the alternative, presented to you by Ron English:
Okay: Michigan is in a trips set on their second drive of the day. English sets up in soft coverage and plays his linebackers off the line of scrimmage. Michigan will run the most basic play in their arsenal: the zone read.
Here's the exchange point. (Sorry about the crappy quality; I was working with an SD torrent at this point.) Two points: 1) with trips to one side of the field and soft coverage, the bubble is open here. Two: Forcier gets to honest-to-God read the backside DE. He is maintaining outside contain, so he hands it off.
Eastern's defensive line has slanted hard to the frontside of the play and Ferrara has gotten blown back a couple yards. Brown has nowhere to go and must cut up. But he can.
Because of the heavy slant, which was required to cut off the frontside of the play, there's plenty of room between the defensive end and his compatriots on the line. Because of the bubble threat, the weakside linebacker has been held outside. EMU basically destroyed the play but because of the design and EMU's lack of aggression they still don't stop it.
Eastern Michigan defended this about as well as they could here, forcing Brown behind every offensive lineman and into the unblocked backside of the play. It still gained five yards. This is really hard to prevent if you let the backside end get read and he's not a superfreak. Thus, the scrape.
Alltime updates can be found in the 2010 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Your Breathless Seantrel Henderson Update Returns!
It's been a while since I've talked about the recruitment of MN OL Seantrel Henderson (Photo by the Pioneer Press) in Wednesday Recruitin', so this should be a pretty serious update, especially considering that he's one of the most-discussed recruits in recent memory. First, we head to ESPN and Steve Wiltfong:
"The choice will ultimately be up to Seantrel, but we're trying our best to make sure he gets the best experience," said Sean Henderson, Seantrel's father.
Not that I'm going to accuse any parental tampering here, but this quote is fairly ironic, considering Seantrel started the recruiting process saying "I'm not interested in Notre Dame." The instant his father took over the media correspondence, Notre Dame was suddenly among his favorites, and they're now receiving an official visit. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'. Also of note from the article:
Besides the schools he's taking official visits to [ed.: ND, USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Florida] and Minnesota, the five-star Henderson is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa and Wisconsin.
That's still a top-10 list, and there's a lot of time before Signing Day, when he plans to decide. All teams still have a somewhat-legit chance at landing the guy.
Local fluff on Seantrel. For what it's worth, he still plans to try both football and basketball at his school of choice. The emergence of Michigan's basketball program can only help the Wolverines in that regard.
Tim Brewster took to a helicopter to impress local recruits, including Henderson (photo from MNdaily.com). In an article on the same topic, his high school coach implies that there may be some (slight) academic concerns with Seantrel:
"He'll always take care of the football part of it," Scanlan said. "I just hope he gets his homework done and that he is getting everything taken care of when he comes back on Monday. That's the part that might be a concern. Because there are so many distractions; he's really focused on football. Let's just make sure that school takes care of itself, too."
Keep on eye on that, though it doesn't sound like he's in danger of not qualifying.
Seantrel is writing a weekly diary for the Pioneer Press, and I hope this is just an unfortunate coincidence in paragraph structure:
I heard this week from Ohio State, USC, Michigan and Oklahoma. It is tough sometimes to tell a school you aren't really interested...
Considering it's the Wolverines among a group of his top schools, I don't think that's intended to imply that he's uninterested in any of those programs.
Doug Lesmerises gives fluff from Seantrel's official visit, including a couple relevant quotes:
"Mostly I want to know about academics," Henderson says. "I want to learn about that if I'm going to be staying here for three years or whenever, and I want to know the people I'm surrounded by. I didn't know Ohio State was like, the biggest school. I didn't know they were so high on the academics and they give a lot of help to athletes."
Obligatory laughing at each part of the last sentence for entirely different reasons. For the record, Seantrel enjoyed his visit to Columbus, though there was nothing really said other than standard post-visit quotes (aside from his dad thinking Oklahoma is still in the Big 8, of course).
And, after that huge information dump, I'll editorialize for minute. Henderson (unlike many prospects) realizes that it's talent, and not school choice, that will get him to the NFL. Sure, he can pick up better coaching at some places than others, but if he's an NFL player, he's an NFL player, regardless of where he goes. Because of that understanding, the two biggest factors in his recruitment are expected to be education (check) and ability to win a championship while he's in school.
There's been a lot of murky insider-y talk about Michigan being one of Seantrel's favorite schools, but he's uncertain over whether he'd be able to win a championship in Ann Arbor. The fast start to the season really helps in that regard, especially beating one of his other contenders, in Notre Dame. If the Wolverines keep winning, they can really help themselves with a number of prospects, Henderson not least among them.
Your Quarterbacking Overlord Fears No Man
There has been some internet hand-wringing about what will happen to the commitment status of MI QB Devin Gardner with Tate Forcier having such a good stellar season. However, there's nothing to worry about. Devin thinks Tate looks very good, and he's not worried about competing against a possibly-entrenched starter. He'll compete to earn playing time, and if he doesn't get any of those minutes, he'll accept a redshirt.
Because it's Clear they're Needed...
...Michigan is still pursuing a number of linebackers. The main options:
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan has been a soft commit to Duke for quite some time, and his visit to Michigan seemed to have softened it even further. Since his interest in the Blue Devils has been waning, he made it official, decommitting from Duke. That's a good sign for Michigan, especially considering how much he enjoyed his time in Ann Arbor. He's taking another one sometime this winter, so if Michigan wants him, they appear to have as good a shot as any.
MD LB Josh Furman had long been planning to announce a decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl in December, but now it seems like a decision may be coming sooner ($, info in header). He was also in attendance for the Michigan-Notre Dame Game, which again is probably a good thing, considering it came shortly after heading to Ann Arbor.
MD LB Troy Gloster is a third realistic option, and he has had the Wolverines near the top of his list for quite some time now. Now it appears as though they're in a top 2 with West Virginia, and a decision might be coming before the end of his high school season ($, info in header). If such a decision does indeed happen, Michigan would at least know where it stands in it linebacker hunt.
If Michigan is unable to land any of those three linebackers, there are a couple prospects slightly lower on the recruiting board that they still have a chance at landing. One such player is OH LB Jewone Snow, son of Michigan great Garland Rivers (and nephew of Michigan State's Percy and Eric Snow). He'll observe the in-state battle on October 3rd, which may help him decide which team he likes more. Of course, one reason I'm personally enamored with Snow is his connection to 2011 OH DE Steve Miller, one of the top prospects in the Buckeye State.
In the Trenches
Though they'd fallen off his radar, the Wolverines have put themselves back on it for NC DE/DT Gabe King. Still, his coach has a lot of connections out west (his two favorites are Oregon and Cal), and he's now moving to Oregon, so don't expect MIchigan to seriously contend for him(King photo by Roy Philpott for the Detroit News).
MN DT Beau Allen was receptive when Michigan finally came after him, but it appears as though they may have been too late. He has a top four, with a couple schools trailing behind, and Michigan is nowhere to be found.
Anyways, you've mentioned several times that you have season tix—do you also attend all road games? I suppose Sparty is probably a given, but have you traveled to, say, Kinnick or Camp Randall? My goal is to visit all the B10 stadiums (been to 5 so far - MSU, PU, PSU, NW & UM obvs), and I was wondering if you had a favorite road venue or notable road game that sticks out to you (07 MSU for me). This season I'll be going to State for the 2nd time as well as Illinois Memorial for the first time.
Once again, many thanks for the excellence of the blog.
P.S. Autodesk sucks. I hate them.
P.P.S. M-Den is full of win.
I don't go to all the road games but I usually hit 1-3 per year depending on how the team is doing and where the road games are. I've been to Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, and Northwestern, with a first trip to Iowa on the docket this year. (I'm also going to Madison, but in February for an outdoor hockey game.) To your questions: Northwestern is my favorite road venue, if only because it's a road venue in little but name and it's situated next to Lake Michigan and there's always some place to crash because if you went to Michigan and don't know anyone who lives in Chicago you probably lived in Baits all four years and never left your room. Also no one attempts to throttle you. I'm annoyed when NU isn't on the schedule.
Favorite game: also '07 MSU for multiple reasons. There was, of course, the lead up to the game with Dantonio and "moment of silence" and "we won two games today" and Mike Hart etc etc etc. I ended up in the Michigan student section, which was a jolt after a few years away from that scene in one of the real blue-hair sections of Michigan Stadium. And two minutes before the opening kickoff an idiot state fan chewing on an unlit cigar accused me of sitting in his seat. I wasn't, but the State fan insisted to the point where he got the ushers, who were all prepared to do some bootin' until they saw I was actually in my seat. It turned out that the guy had the seat next to mine. He eventually swapped with some Michigan students who were three rows below us. It was weird.
Anyway, all that meant I was pretty fired up. And then the way the game turned, with Michigan jumping out to a significant halftime lead and State coming back to lead by 3 and then 10 and then someone whacking Chad Henne's shoddy Southeast Asian motherboard in just the right spot, followed by robot Henne enacting a mini version of Braylonfest… well, it was extremely satisfying afterwards.
PS: Hey, Autodesk provided yrs truly with the nest egg via which the blog's first couple of years as a job—in the same way Walmart greeter is a job—were tolerable. Also I still have some stock of theirs. So go Autodesk.
PPS: Yes, now that you mention it, the M-Den is full of win. Also when you do not mention it.
I noticed during the game and again in your UFR that Will Campbell got zero playing time against ND. This was especially evident in the 2nd half when it seemed that the dline was rotating new guys in on every play with WC not one of them. I also recall he only played in scrub time against Western. With a dline sorely lacking depth, is Campbell in the doghouse? Is he not as good as we thought? Or is this more a case of a freshman just being behind veterans on the depth chart. For a dline sorely lacking depth, it seems hard to believe a highly recruited player cant crack this rotation, even as a freshman.
Thanks, and Go Blue!
(This email was sent before the EMU game, but remains relevant now because Campbell saw a couple of goal line plays and little else.) Dude: I don't know. I'm seriously bothered by the prevalence of walk-ons in the two-deep and the lack of mega-recruits. Justin Turner didn't see the field at all against Eastern—even Teric Jones did—and now looks like a certain redshirt. Demens, Fitzgerald, and Smith are all apparently behind walk-on Kevin Leach at linebacker. And erstwhile spring starter Vlad Emilien is behind Kovacs and possibly Van Slyke at safety.
At least Campbell has an excuse that's a bit better than those guys: Renaldo Sagesse is about the only legitimate depth player on the entire defense and has turned in a fair number of plays in limited time spelling Mike Martin. He's getting about the same amount of time you'd expect a third-string freshman to get, no matter how hyped.
I'd like to see Michigan try running Martin and Sagesse out there at the same time, like everyone else; if that happens with some consistency against big beef machine teams then Campbell will see more extensive time.
During Rich Rod's first summer, we were looking forward to bringing in Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver at QB. Both guys were relatively unpolished but with high upside. Not the type of guys that you would be comfortable with to start as freshmen to say the least. Do you think that RR anticipated a rocky first year and the need to win early in year two, and possibly directed Michigan's recruiting more toward QBs able to come in and play right away? Would you even go so far to say that Michigan may have cooled on Newsome and Beaver at the chance they land Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. Regardless, as a trade, we got the better end of the deal.
I have no idea what happened with Michigan's quarterback recruiting but have heard from a couple reliable sources that Kevin Newsome's commitment was always as solid as paper tissue and that was one reason Michigan continued to pursue Tate Forcier heavily despite having two guys nominally in the fold. (The other reason: duh.) I mentioned this at the time and will restate it now: while Kevin Newsome seemed to have excellent upside he was not a great fit for what Michigan needed this year. They needed Tate Forcier, a guy who'd been relentlessly drilled to be a quarterback from the womb and would be polished (and foolhardy) enough to step into the starting lineup fresh out of high school. Newsome, who's looked inept so far in spring and limited garbage time, was not that guy. Was that motivation to get rid of Newsome? Probably not. I think Michigan would have taken three quarterbacks last year if they could have latched onto that many.
Beaver I don't know about. He was a well-regarded recruit who supposedly picked up an offer from Texas to play wide receiver, so you'd think Michigan would try to hold onto him even if they were gaga about Denard Robinson (which, again: duh), too. I don't think either decommit was a Jordan Barnes sort.
I have a question re: the defensive alignments. In the Notre Dame Defensive UFR, you commented a couple of times on the fact that Michigan's pre-snap alignments made no sense. Who's responsibility is it for the way the defense aligns? The coaches obviously put in the personnel package as far as a 4-3-4, 4-2-5, but they cannot know until the offense lines up what type of look they are going to get. Does a player (I'm assuming it'd be Obi since he's the MLB and they are traditionally the "quarterback of the offense") set up the defense or do the players look to the sideline for direction from their coaches? Thanks in advance.
The only presnap alignments that I found bizarre were the ones in which Obi Ezeh aligned at safety depth a few times on obvious passing downs. That was indeed strange. The only thing I can figure is that it was a version of the Tampa two defense that's popular in the NFL. Tampa two allows you to bracket both outside receivers without giving up the deep middle—an excellent idea against Notre Dame's terrors on the outside, but maybe not so much when ND also has a great pass-receiving tight end. And when Michigan did line up in their weird Ezeh-as-safety formation, ND hit Kyle Rudolph on a simple slant that went for big yardage.
I've seen Michigan roll out the same formation once so far against EMU, so it might be something we see occasionally down the road. I've yet to determine what the point of it is.
No Q Just A
On to some emails that are more helpful than anything else.
Just wanted to add some more evidence re: your post on the noise level at the new stadium. Yes, it is absolutely, positively louder. Carl Grapentine, long-time voice of the MMB and now the PA guy, too, wrote me this after the game this weekend:
It was as loud as I've ever heard it at Michigan Stadium. Those two new massive structures on either side of the field are like giant resonators.
Keep in mind this is Carl's 40th year doing games from the press box; that's a pretty significant body of work from which to make that statement. Didn't want to post this in the public comments, though.
I have the same beef with the MMB as you; I was in section 13 at the WMU game and we could hardly hear the band. Thought it might just be the placement, but think your analysis is right. Needs more horns, less winds.
BTW, love the blog; it's part of my daily must-reads.
UM class of '87
Johnathan Chapman-Rienstra (JCR)
FWIW. More fuel for the luxury box fire.
No A Just Q
Questions I can't answer:
I was at the Eastern/UM game Saturday and noticed the student section doing a chant where they extend their arms at the opposing team and wiggle their fingers... sort of like they're "jinxing" them. It sounds like the students are saying, "boo" or "ooh." At first I thought it was the "key play" chant where they shake their keys, but there were no keys in their hands. Can you enlighten me?
Um… I have no idea what this email refers to. Any help?
I'm pretty sure your tickets aren't near mine. I sit in section 19, row 76.
As long as I've been in these seats, and my old seats in section 17, fifteen years or so, there's been an old guy with a knit cap that sits near the very front of (I think) section 18. After every Michigan TD, he would go down to the front row, stand up, face the crowd, and get the crowd involved in a cheer where he (and the fans) would spell out M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N with his arms.
After sitting through every minute (!) of every home game, AND the ND game at ND last year, I did not make it to the ND game this year. (I know, I know...) However, I was at Western and Eastern. And Old Michigan Spelling Guy (i don't know anything better to call him) wasn't at EITHER game. My wife and I are very concerned.
The guy I call "Superfan" (wears the cape, helmet pattern do-rag, glasses, plays cowbell, gets on TV at a lot of away games) also sits near the front and has taken over the M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N spelling. I love "Superfan" and his mad-crazy cowbell skills, but it isn't the same for the M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N. And beyond just football games, I really do care about Old Michigan Spelling Guy.
Do you know, or can you ask your vast readership if anyone knows, the fate of Old Michigan Spelling Guy? Hopefully, he's just evangelizing in another part of the stadium.
I am nowhere near this guy but I have seen him from across the stadium and envied those sections for being near a guy doing the Michigan locomotive cheer because some old guy demanded they do it. Anyone have an answer for this emailer?
[Editor's Note: Mad Men spoilers below. Abort now if you care even a little bit. UPDATE: you'll be safe if you skip the blockquote.]
9/21/2009 – Michigan 45, Eastern Michigan 17 – 3-0
I'd never heard 100,000 people moan before. I've heard gasps and anger and worry and fretting and relief. I've heard an involuntary yelp of hope after Drew Stanton went down in the game that would be Braylonfest. I've heard way more than my share of discontent grumbling. I know all the tiny permutations of discontent grumbling, actually. I could write a PhD thesis on discontent stadium grumbles.
I had not heard a unified, angst-ridden moan until Saturday when Tate Forcier got blasted as he threw the ball away and rolled around on the Michigan Stadium turf like he'd just been stabbed. I sort of felt like I'd been stabbed, too, and I went "uhhhnnn." So did everyone else as we simultaneously contemplated the Sheridans of yesteryear. But before we could open up the flak jacket and find the secret, Forcier popped up and Rodriguez stuck him in to hand off a few times, thus saving everyone an extra hour or two of painful contemplation. The most interesting thing to happen in the Eastern Michigan game expired without impact.
It's quite a comedown to go from the Notre Dame game to this game in just about every way. Emotional involvement and excitement are obvious to anyone who saw the two teams listed as opponents. Hidden to folk who just saw the final score, but not the halftime one, was a reminder that the program remains, yes, under construction and that we should all be enjoying the competence instead of spinning out hopes for New Year's Day.
The main problem: Eastern Michigan ran the ball decently, and it wasn't on one long run on which Michigan can blame a random safety. EMU's long for the day was a 24-yarder by the quarterback and the dual-headed tailback pounded out 113 yards on 32 carries. That's 3.5 a pop and would have been totally acceptable if Michigan had flipped their first and second halves. (In the second half, Eastern put up 98 yards and no points on seven drives.) They didn't. Michigan gave up an 11-play, 79 yard touchdown drive and a 6-play, 36 yard touchdown drive, and did it mostly by running right at the side of the line not containing Mike Martin and Brandon Graham. For the day, Michigan was slightly better than Army and evidently terrible Northwestern defensively, which bodes unwell for the sky-high hopes you know you're secretly harboring. Search your heart. You know it to be true.
The evidence was clear enough on a selected few defensive snaps in the second half. With Mike Williams nursing a slight ankle injury on the sideline and Brandon Graham taking a breather, Michigan's purported first-team defense had three walk-ons playing. I can't remember a single non-fullback walk-on other than Nick Sheridan in recent Michigan history who saw playing time as extensive as three separate players have already gotten this year, and everyone remembers how Sheridan's experiment went. If Michigan is going to win games in the Big Ten, they're going to have to score a lot of points. They'll probably do this, but at the end of the year the stats are going to look more like one of those good-ish Northwestern teams from the late 90s, all shiny offensive stats and horrible defensive ones and entertaining games that give you no impression the team in question can hang with college football's elite.
And all of this is fine, of course. If Michigan's offense follows through on its first three weeks and the defense holds it together well enough to suggest competence in 2010, Michigan fans will and should be delighted. I'm not exactly breaking new ground by suggesting this team is not at the talent level you'd normally expect a Michigan team to be at, and I'm probably not surprising anyone by cautioning for patience. But I feel it has to be said after Orson Swindle and I had a conversation like this:
(11:23:10 PM) Orson: I cannot emphasize how improved by a random act of violent gore an episode of Mad Men was.. Paul being splattered with blood should happen every episode
(11:24:58 PM) Orson: "I live in Montclair." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD
(11:25:28 PM) Orson: "I went to Princeton." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD
(11:25:53 PM) Brian I prefer Harry, actually. "I cheated on my wife and actually regret it." /SPLATTERED WITH BLOOD. I also loved how the English guys immediately treated him as a horse that had to be put down.
(11:26:52 PM) Orson: "Oh no, he's done." "Quite right. No foot. Dead to us."
(11:27:04 PM) Brian "never play golf again"!!!
[Several more minutes of Mad Men discussion segues into this]
Orson: BTW, let me congratulate you on having a player sucker punch an ND player in the gut I'm serious. That is nothing but a great sign for your program.
(11:39:46 PM) Brian: It was the chin, actually. And we even got a totally unprecedented "you're going to be Miami" suspension out of it.
(11:40:57 PM) Orson: You are starting to get an idea of the vast power of the dark side.
[This continues for a while until:]
Orson: For once, I enjoy watching Michigan thanks to them. I think you're going to beat the f-- out of Ohio State this year.
You know me: I immediately attempted to convince Orson—who is awesome but prone to wild prognostications based on things the thinks are going to be fun—otherwise. It didn't take. "Whoah," I said, and then overreacted as you can see above.
Right now, Michigan is an Easter egg dropped out of a window during an engineering competition. It's small. It's moving extremely fast. It's brightly colored and looks like it contains a good time. It is heading inexorably for something large and uncompromising, and all it has to protect it is a rickety structure slapped together last night out of Busch Light cans, foam, and an unidentifiable oozing substance someone found next to the refrigerator. It's probably not going to make it, but for the moment it's time to enjoy the wind.
- Wooo complete Michigan wave cycle!
- Man, I do not like the fact that Michigan has scholarship players who aren't true freshmen at DE and LB but chooses to play walk-ons over them. No offense to those guys, but they were walk-ons for a reason. Unless they are spectacularly advanced thinkers at the game, their ceiling is low and Michigan's defense has little upside as the season goes along. Brandon Smith can be excused since he was a safety until fall camp, but how do Kenny Demens and JB Fitzgerald not see the field in front of Leach? That's a bad sign for both their futures. Ditto Adam Patterson, who looks set to go down as one of the all-time pure talent recruiting busts. Even a huge disappointment like Kevin Grady has gotten regular playing time every year.
- I do think I have an idea why Fitzgerald wasnt seeing the field: when he did he did not play well. I'll have to check the tape but IIRC one of Eastern's TDs was on his head. I really, really hope someone emerges from the linebacker morass this year. Right now it's terrifying.
- Losing Molk is bad but it's way less bad than it was last year. Michigan has three or four options to bring into the lineup at RG—sounds like Moosman will slide over to C. Who were Michigan's options last year? Tim McAvoy?
- Man, the backup tailbacks looked good. Remember this run?
Michael Shaw has got to start wearing crazy tight oily jerseys, because he juked that Eastern safety out of his jock and deserved a spectacular touchdown run on this play; he didn't get it because that grab you saw actually held up. Shaw looked like Carlos Brown 2.0 in some ways and the opposite of Carlos Brown in others. The difference: Brown always looks like he's perfectly balanced and then falls over; Shaw always looks like he's about to fall over but stays up.
Meanwhile, Vincent Smith's lone run featured an impressive juke of the backside defensive end and a first down thanks to a heads-up block from Denard Robinson, and Mike Cox got it YGM style on a weaving run on which he displayed his own impressive balance. With Fitzgerald Toussaint, Austin White and Stephen Hopkins on the way, the tailback spot will be just fine next year.
- Meanwhile, how the hell did Carlos Brown end up getting tackled by this?
Great game and all but sometimes the things that cause Carlos Brown to fall over are mystifying.
- Students: it's impolite to start up chants when someone's hurt. "Tate Forcier" was fine, but there was a "Go… Blue" chant at some point when an Eastern guy was down. Poor form.
Yet another in this site's series "counters to the scrape exchange."
This one doesn't take a whole lot of explanation. Michigan's in its H-back set and Notre Dame in the nickel it used all day. It's first and ten on Michigan's field-goal drive right before halftime:
Michigan's going to run something I called a "QB counter"; it, I believe, is not a read but a called QB run. Just like the dive play we saw yesterday, the TE (in this case Martell Webb) is going to pull across the formation and look for a block. LT Mark Ortmann, the topmost offensive lineman, is going to downblock on the weakside defensive tackle. But you'll do fine on this play if you just watch #80. He's the whole play.
Here we have a moment right before the key part of the play. Forcier has pulled the ball out of Minor's belly and Webb is approaching the point at which he's supposed to block the defensive end.
So Webb reaches the DE and… uh… runs right by him.
Here note two things. One: Ortmann has not done a great job with the DT, who has apparently read the play or was stunting or something and has shot into the backfield. This held the defensive end up. Normally on a scrape he'd be hauling ass after Minor, but since he got delayed he's right there and sees Forcier with the ball. Two: Webb ignored that guy and is heading right for the scraper. Tate has to deal with the DE.
Next, the moment of truth:
One: Forcier has beaten the defensive end despite the screwup/stunt by Notre Dame. This is MAKING PLAYS, and something it's doubtful either Threet or Sheridan could have pulled off. Two: Webb has blocked the scraper. Crushed him.
look at all that space
nooooooooo cut it up cut it up
- This is another scrape counter. This one didn't go very well for whatever reason and it still should have been 8-10 yards because Michigan has blocked the one guy tasked with the quarterback.
- Assuming your guy with the quarterback isn't going to get blocked can be dangerous for the defense. The scrape read presumes that your guy tasked with the QB isn't going to get lit up by a tight end, and it's hard to see any way to read what's going on to help out. The only player who can be of assistance is the backside DE, and that pulling tight end can do so many different things—block the scraper, block you and spring Brandon Minor up the middle, head out into the flat, pass block—that you're really picking your poison.
- I don't think it matters what side the guy gets blocked on… usually. Here Webb gets outside of the scraper and that's key because of the defensive end's presence, but if that guy's not there it makes no difference because Tate will be jetting up into massive space on either side of the block.
- Rodriguez's offseason planning was hugely focused on the TE. This was something we talked about in UFR, but it's worth repeating. There was a lot of hype about Michigan's tight ends and that hype has been more than met. A TE is on the field 90% of the time and has been a huge key in Michigan's ground game. Rodriguez has adapted to the scrape exchange and his counter is the tight end. At this point I'm actually a little concerned Michigan doesn't have a tight end in the recruiting class.
- Tate needs to realize he's no longer way more athletic than everyone on the field. He's done this three or four time in his first two games. It worked against Western, but not so much here.
This ended up being three yards, but it should have been ten, and holy God what if Denard Robinson was out there in that kind of space?
UPDATE: forgot the youtube-o-vision: