still not over it in South Bend
For all of the questions along the OL this fall, things could be considerably worse.
242 YPG and 6.3 YPC.
I'll take it.
Michigan rushing attack is currently ranked in the Top 25, and incidently tied with Oregon and in good company with some other notable offenses in college football:
Preface: are things like they used to be?
Game day in Ann Arbor is an experience steeped in tradition. Nevertheless, the stadium experience, and with it the student section experience, has necessarily evolved, even just within my 6+ years in the NW corner. So to kick things off, here are some rapid fire questions/answers:
Flasks? Yup, though I will add that, at least in the lower sections, most students appear to have gotten less tolerant of drinking and drunkenness from other students. If you’re being positive and happy drunk, great we love you. If you’re incessantly bitching about the team, complaining about the players, generally being negative and happen to stumble into me, I’m getting event staff. And I wouldn’t be the only one.
Marshmallows? Uhh honestly I haven’t seen this in any season I’ve been there…
Beach balls? Have seen them recently, didn’t today.
Cow bell? Depressingly not yet this season. Other students reading this: we must fix this if nothing else
Travelling band? Nope (and I don’t think they have for a year or so but I’m not sure). Definitely remember being entertained by that in years past
International student experience: Very little experience here. I can say that in my section down in the row A area there aren’t very many (if any) international students. For the CMU game last year there were a small handful nearly first in line in the student queue, though from talking to them they were under the impression that the game started when the queue opened….
Engaged? Yes, mostly. It’s hard to compare to past years given that the Row A experience is a little different than that in Row 96… But the students are certainly no less engaged than any other segment (and for better or worse they booed the punt decision just as much as everyone else)
The clock finally wound down to all zeroes in what was a rather strange game at the Big House. We cheered as the team ran over to the stands and then back down the tunnel., the small handful of us that remained down by the railing packing up while trying to ascertain from the stadium police what on earth the rope sectioning off the field from the sidelines was for. Apparently it is for preventing a field rush. This year. Against Miami. With a chem lecture’s worth of people left in the stands. Ok. We turned to the people behind us,
“Have a great weekend.”
“See you next week.”
There, that right there is in a nutshell the problem that we had last year in the student section. We hear every week “how great it is to be part of something that is the team,” but the team is something considerably more than just the 11 young men in winged helmets on the field at any time. It is more than the full roster, the coaches, trainers, student managers and everyone else who could by any definition conceivably purport to be affiliated with the program. Or at least it was supposed to be. The team is supposed to be something that unites every single person wearing their maize and blue in that stadium, or watching it on TV, or listening on the radio, or running around with their fingers shoved in their ears until they could watch the game they’d
taped TiVo’d later. The team is the group of people in the stadium around you, who over the course of 6–8 games you got to know—those people who were as much a part of your game day experience as the people you chose to sit by. And last season the athletic department forgot that.
Given what we’ve heard or been able to read between the lines about much of what went wrong last season: lack of upperclassmen leadership, lack of cohesion on the line, or the many other instances of lacking “the team”, it seems only fitting that that disconnect spread deep into the fanbase. Instead of creating an element of the team, general admission pitted students against each other for the best seats in the stadium. The result was often ugly: students trying to sneak in late to get better seats, students yelling at each other, anger and hostility, lack of team.
This year things seem different. Is everything hunky dory in the student section? No. You still get the occasional person drunk to the point of falling on you, trying to usurp your seat, and degrading the fan experience for everyone around you. Fortunately event staff can deal with that pretty readily (especially if this person is in the wrong seat—as is often the case because, listen man, reading is drunk when I’m this challenging). But in spite of that, the cohesive, friendly, spirit seems to be back; at least in the superfan rows.
Unfortunately there’s been some lingering damage. As we all are aware with the recent struggles on the line, poor decisions from the past can linger for far into the future. During GA, the bottom of the student section was ill-prepared to correctly do the wave, or, for that matter, nearly any cheer. I naively thought that bringing seniors and grad students back down to the bottom would fix the problem. As today’s rather unfortunate attempts to start the wave while only up by a touchdown, and the subsequent inability to start the wave in the waning minutes of the 3rd quarter once we were up by 14, demonstrated, that isn’t quite the case. This year’s seniors haven’t had a decent wave experience or even good wave leadership in two years. Last time it went well they were in row 60; they had no part in starting it.
We can bring that experience back. It’ll take some effort and some creativity. We’ll have to re-teach them. It’s doable. It’ll be challenging, but for the fan experience, it needs to be done.
Seating Policy in Review—Take 2
So honestly, after last weekend, I expected to be writing about how we’d tailed off quite a bit from last week, how students had filtered in, but outside of student fans weren’t there before kickoff. Well by and large that wasn’t the case. While many, many seats stayed empty throughout the stadium, the student section filled in by and large on time, and to no worse a percentage than the stadium as a whole. 102,824 will make *every* section look empty. For what it’s worth, the new policy does seem to motivate students to show up on time, even after a dispiriting loss, even against an overmatched opponent. What the policy doesn’t do is motivate students to come in the first place, and to stay to the bitter end.
The first of those lies entirely on the athletic department. When our attendance is dropping to levels not seen since 1995, and student ticket sales dropped to less than ¾ of last year’s, it’s time to look long and hard about the experience we are providing for the students. Asking students who often have little if any income, many of whom are taking on thousands of dollars in debt, to pay increasingly outrageous prices for a lackluster home schedule is unsurprisingly going to result in a small, less effective student section. Not to mention less engaged alumni down the road. From those I’ve talked to who are on the new Football Student Advisory Council, it seems like the athletic department is now listening. Sometimes slow to act, but listening. Vendors selling $2 bottles of water in the student section: fantastic idea. Allowing people to again bring in unopened bottles of water or empty reusable bottles would be significantly better, and obviously the ticket prices are the big one, but it’s a start.
The second point is on us. It’s a culture thing and it’s sad to say that it’s changed as much as it has. I remember riding the bus as a freshman reading a Daily article (I didn’t know any better back then) that was discussing at length the tradition of students staying until the bitter end. No matter what happened on the field, no matter how bleak things looked, those who stayed, well you know. And those in my year really seemed to live that. Our first season was the fan crucible of 2008. We were rewarded with the Wisconsin comeback. We had our resolve tested with the rain, snow, sleet, and locusts for the Northwestern game. We were kicked in the metaphorical nards rivalry game after rivalry game. But after 2008 we were committed. We watched the team slowly crawl back to some modicum of relevance and it felt like our commitment and loyalty had paid off. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for those who started in years after us. The seniors today weren’t on campus for RichRod. They didn’t experience that. They’ve had the opposite experience. They came in as freshmen and we won a BCS bowl. Since then we’ve underwhelmed. I have to imagine that, paired with that underwhelming performance, past classes (mine included) failed to adequately instill in the younger students the same rabid fandom that kept me at the 2008 Northwestern game to the end, and brought me from row 96 to row 14 in freezing rain despite numb everything. We were absolutely convinced in 2011 that the pain was over, our fandom had been vindicated. Michigan was back. We told the younger students about staying at games and cheering Michigan on to greatness. It appears that we may have missed the operative clause: “no matter what”. That too is changeable. It’ll be a slow process of growth back into “the team” but it’s doable.
Bringing back the student experience is not an overnight thing; we need to give them something to believe in. And with a team that has met its share of struggles and with an athletic department that seems more interested in the bottom line than the student experience, for all too many it’s hard to find that. Nevertheless change is possible. In my freshman year I attended my first UM BB game. They gave us free transportation, tickets, pancakes and a t-shirt just to get us to show up. They did what was necessary to get students there despite the underwhelming performance of the team. Since then we’ve been conference champions twice, have gone to the national championship game, and have won 6 of the last 9 against once dominant MSU (who had won 18 of the 21 games prior to the most recent 9). That basketball team got back to greatness because everyone was committed to doing what was necessary to bring it back. If the football team does make it back it will be because of the same reasons. If we want the student fan experience to come back to greatness, we of course need commitment from the students, but most critically we need the athletic department to let go of the processes that aren’t working, to stop focusing on things that should never have been the goal, and to do what is necessary to ensure that Michigan fans are not only part of the largest crowd watching a football game, but that that crowd has the best experience of any crowd anywhere in America, throughout the season.
So I am currently in Texas and a friend of mine was coming to TCU to watch the Minnesota game. Seeing as I had not seen him in a while and he had an extra family ticket I decided to go.
We sat near where Goldy the Gopher was set up and I thought he was a complete distraction to the game, THANK GOD we do not have a mascot. Almost every 5 minutes there was someone coming up to talk to/get pictures with him. During plays he was messing with the cameramen to entertain the crowd. For the first time that I have really been near a mascot during a game I feel like he made the gameday experience worse.
Hopefully Dave never tries to get the mascot thing started.
2014.09.13 - Miami Ohio at Michigan - http://goo.gl/s92l59
*New! Every snap video. Defense will be added later.
Every Snap [Offense] - http://goo.gl/dfKUvB
password to download .torrent file - 'goblue'
Other NCAA games will be added to OP later on during the week.
ps - upcoming post coming mid-week, looking for people to cut up every snap video for msu and ohio state games throughout the season. original broadcast files/tools will be provided. Really easy, just somewhat tedious. Takes about an hour per game.
I'm not going to lie, there's some strange goings-on in Boxscore land. Last week, Michigan outgained Notre Dame and nearly had as many first downs, yet was blown out on the scoreboard. This week, Michigan was statistically superior to Miami (NTM), yet, midway through the third quarter, I'm sure more than a few Michigan fans were having flashbacks to Akron. Miami's coach nearly had an aneurysm when they just barely missed a long pass. He believed they were in the game. Had that connected, well, it didn't so no need to go there. But that's not all. On MGoBlog's recap, Ace delved into the boxscore. Great read, but that's my thing, man. J/K. Brady Hoke even brought up some stats in his press conference. Numbers are flying everywhere. Today, I tried to find the boxscore on MGoBlue.com and notice they've moved it, reformatted it, and stuck a Chick-fil-A add right in the middle of it. Hey, MGoblue.com, haven't you heard, Chick-fil-A's not open on Sundays.
You may have noticed I changed the title. That's because I'm insanely busy this weekend, and I don't feel like diving into a Michigan-Not that Miami boxscore. I don't care how many Eagles fly overhead, this is just not a "Wow" event. It did get me to thinking back to simpler times. In the 70's and 80's, when Michigan had a stinker on the schedule and there was a threat to the 100,000 streak, we had something called "Band Day." High School bands from all over the tri-county area would be brought in to fill up the endzone seats. I'm talking about bands from Livonia, Novi, Romulus, and even from as far away as Troy. Prior to the game, all those bands would fill up the field and play one or two songs, and then march back to their seats. I always enjoyed the colorful pageantry that was Band Day. I say, if you are going to stick us with non-wow-events like Michigan vs. Not that Miami and there are ~10,000 empty seats, at least bring back Band Day!
Boxscore link: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/091314aaa.html
Burst of Impetus
* The saddest part of this game is that Norfleet's kick return to start the game wasn't sufficient to firmly plant the impetus on our side. Numerous turnovers made this a game for 2 1/2 quarters.
* I think there was a sequence of plays where we may have turned the corner on this running game and left 2013 in the rear-view mirror. With 7:24 to go in the 2nd, Michigan was tied 10-10 with Not that Miami. A pass to Darboh brought the ball to Miami's 40 yard line. After that, Gardner was sacked for a 7 yard loss. I was thinking, "seriously?" My hope is that what happened next is the harbinger of good things to come.
- Green, Derrick rush for 27 yards...
- Green, Derrick rush for 11 yards...
- Green, Derrick rush for 8 yards...
- Green, Derrick rush for 1 yard to the MU0, TOUCHDOWN
Run game established, at least against the Miami's of the world.
* Gardner was 13 for 20 for 184 yards and 2 TDs. He seemed to do well in the absence of Funchess. This could be good in the long run if he's able to build chemistry with Darboh, Chesson, and Butt.
* Jake Ryan had 6 tackles and 2 QHs and may be starting to get a feel for this MIKE thing.
1 and 2
* One week after I questioned what the coaches were seeing in practice to give Derrick Green the nod over De'Veon Smith, Green showed all of us. His vision was much better than last week, and I don't think this is a question of the opponent. The hole is there, and he either hits it or he doesn't. Against Notre Dame, he didn't. Against Miami, he did, over and over again to the tune of 137 yards on 22 carries. My guess is, Green was much more relaxed going against Miami, knowing that they are vastly inferior to Michigan. This allowed him to play with more confidence and his performance improved as a result.
* Smith looked a little slow to me, perhaps he's got a boo-boo. He had a couple negative carries on slow developing east/west type runs. I'd much rather they pound him inside and put him in attack mode. He recovered from a slow start to tally 44 yards on 9 carries for a healthy 4.9 YPC.
* Miami did not score 24 points. They only scored 10 because we gave them a short field due to turnovers.
* Joe Bolden led Michigan with 7 tackles, and he had one nice pass breakup.
* The defense is still not filling the boxscore in the dot categories, but we did get 5 QH's, 1 FF, 1 INTC, 2 BrUps, and 1 sack.
* Miami was held to 1 rushing first down and only 33 net yards rushing. I sense a trend developing...
* Miami only recorded 3 TFLs all game long; the two wide runs with Smith and the sack, for a total of 10 yards. I so hope this is no longer a thing worth discussing as we move forward.
* What look was Miami going for with their helmets? I can't decide if it was warmed-over vomit, or electrified vomit.
* We need Butt. A healthy Butt adds another dimension to our offense.
* Christian Kock punted 8 times for 301 yards. You know how when you apply for a personalized license plate and the DMV has someone review your request to make sure there's nothing offensive about it? Maybe we should do the same thing with peoples' names.
* M. Wamulumba recorded 1 tackle for Miami. Didn't Kid Rock sing a song about him? The lyrics went something like this, "Bawitdaba da diggy diggy Wamulumba da bang da bang." I think the Pewamo-Westphalia High School band played it at Band Day in '92.
Here it is, as promised. Complete with the outstanding final drive of the first half
Link for mobile viewers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRzsmyg2N3c