I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
So, just finished the game (I watch on DVR delay because of young kids). My thoughts on what this game showed:
1. Blake Countess is for real. Sure, he got beaten a few times, but he reminds me so much of Donovan Warren. Physical, great instincts. This kid is going to be a lock-down stud CB in a year or two.
2. The "shoud we start DEvin, and not Denard" should be be put to rest (ok, it never should have started). DEnard missed a few passes. He still overthrows some and has a few batted down. On the last drive, however, he looked like a legit QB. He marched us down the field with his arm, making smart solid throws. Even his misses were in places where the CB couldn't have a shot to intercept. I know, his stats suck compared to last year, but he is really starting to look like a pro style QB. Give him another offseason, and I think he is going to be awesome next year. Devin, while talented, is not even close. When he came in, our offense looked terrible. Not a criticism - he has little experience running the offense- but as of now (and likely next year), Denard is miles ahead.
3. Fitz - he really is good. V. Smith is a lovable little guy, but should be used primarily as the 3rd down back. He was stopped on first or second down for little or no gain too many times in the first half.
4. Denard, why you no run? There were several plays where DEnard had tunning lanes, and just hung in the pocket. Now, his pocket presence and overall throwing was great today, in my opinion, but still, when you are the fastest player in cfb and there is nobody for 6-7 yards, tuck and run.
5. The receivers really didnt help Denard out today. WAy too many drops. Sure, some may have not been on perfct throws, but my rule of thumb is that if the ball hits your hands, you should pull it in. Hemmingway, Roundtree and Dilio all dropped passes.
6. The refs - I don';t want to get hung up on this, but this game was terribly called there were at least 2 missed pass interference calls on the last drive, most critically on the last play. Also, sorry, Hemmingway's knee came down in bounds, and we should have had that TD. Whatever, it happens and it sucks, but it still pisses me off. Hoke should have challenged that last play.
7. the Fritz package. I know that many are down on it, but I do think that Hoke Borges and Co. are working on it to break out new stuff against OSU. IF so, I am ok with it. Otherwise, I don't love it. Just not getting much out of it.
OVerall, I like where we are heading. WE lost a close game to a solid team. We will get at least 1 more win, and maybe 2. Good season, with solid improvement, given the cc, new system, etc.
There is an excellent article by the Wall Street Journal investigating why the NFL won't release video showing all 22 players. Some interesting quotes:
If you ask the league to see the footage that was taken from on high to show the entire field and what all 22 players did on every play, the response will be emphatic. "NO ONE gets that," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email. This footage, added fellow league spokesman Greg Aiello, "is regarded at this point as proprietary NFL coaching information."
Proprietary NFL coaching information? I guess being a student of the game isn't a valid passtime anymore. You have to be an NFL coach before you get to study how the game is played by the professionals. Alas there isn't a lot that a humble student of the game can do, as the NFL gets to do what it wants with its proprietary film.
However this is a statement that made me mad as a fan as well as a student of the game:
Charley Casserly, a former general manager who was a member of the NFL's competition committee, says he voted against releasing All-22 footage because he worried that if fans had access, it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio. Casserly believed fans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All 22, without knowing the full story.
Why is avoiding well-researched and evidence-based criticism a valid reason to avoid releasing the tape? Might as well forget the scoreboard as well if the NFL wants to avoid angry fans. That way every coach is a genius! The NFL might as well tell fans to go care about something else. This game you are watching on TV is just a gimmicky made-for-tv special where the strategies don't matter. A former player had this to say:
Lonnie Marts, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, says there are thousands of former NFL players who could easily pick apart play-calling and player performance if they had access to this film. "If you knew the game, you'd know that sometimes there's a lot of bonehead plays and bonehead coaching going on out there," he says.
Sounds like information I would pay dearly for! It is too bad that the NFL won't release it, even for $100 per game:
Earlier this month, the league quietly asked fans, through a survey site, whether they would pay up to $100 to watch an online feed of the All 22....
The NFL says the league wasn't actually serious about releasing the footage. The survey was meant only to gauge fan interest, Aiello says. "There's not a product in development," he says. "This is a long way from becoming a reality, if ever."
The whole article is extremely interesting, I suggest you read it immediately.
It isn't fun to see your team lose. Results are the only thing that matter, in a sense. And yet, from my perspective, we have seen tremendous results. Michigan was in both the MSU and Iowa games. We simply don't have across the board skill on our team right now, and it won't happen overnight. We aren't strong enough, big enough, skilled enough, fast enough, and experienced enough to regularly win games like these. At least we know Michigan isn't going to go 3 - 9 in Hoke's first year. Coaching will allow us to steal some games, but not all.
As painful as it is, I think we need to be patient with Hoke, with Borges, with Mattison, with Denard. There comes a time when paitence no longer cuts it. We are not at that time, not this year, and not next year.
I feel so confident that by 2013, we will see a vastly improved team. Hoke has the support of the AD and the University. He has a crack recruiter in Mattison. We already have the best football recruiting class in many years.
Given today's bed crap, last year's regular season is starting to look more likely. The horrendous defense of last year has become this year's average defense. However, the offense of last year has become inept & confused and failed to score as many points against Iowa as UL-Monroe or Minnesota had earlier. At the end of the year, 7-5 would look like same old, same old 2nd half collapse.
Which team do you hate less? Either way, they've got fantastic athletes and this should be fun to watch. Hopefully we see neither in a bowl game.
Sorry, no extra section this week, as the game didn't really deserve one. It was neither an embarrassing loss nor a heartbreaker...it was just a loss. We were behind all day, and even though we almost made that 3rd TD at the end, we still would have faced the uncertainty of a 2 pt conversion just to put it into overtime. It was a puncher's duel, and we were the one who went home with the extra cut above the eye.
So what happened? We played away, and played like we were playing away. I figure if this were at home, the final score would have been reversed. But it wasn't, so here we are.
1. Countess, Van Bergen and Martin. UFR will tell a more accurate story, but I felt these guys all played their hearts out, and were bright spots in an otherwise disappointing defensive performance.
2. Toussaint’s first half. He ran really well out of the I-form in the first half.
3. Gaining some street cred back towards the end of the game. Didn’t mean much, but it made a sour game taste a little less sour.
4. The offense, which wasn't great, really, but actually outgained Iowa. So I guess that's got to count for something.
1. The defense. We had our plays, but Iowa also had their way with us for most of the game. Ferentz' ultra-conservative MANBALL approach to offensive football partially papered over the fact that this was, in my opinion at least, our worst defensive performance of the year.
2. Denard’s running. I’m loathe to blame him for this, and I suspect some combination of poor blocking and a still-unknown injury are to blame. But he’s not turning on the jets like he used to, and not pivoting like he used to. Could be a psychological issue too—he does seem to be unusually “in” or “out of” the zone.
3. The Devin interludes. More evidence that this worked against Minnesota, but is of limited usefulness otherwise. Again, all the usual disclaimers apply--good kid, going to be a good QB, nice to see him get some reps, etc.--but I'm not seeing great results here. He had a whopping 2 yards total on his 5 carries and 1 pass. Why are we still doing this again?
4. Road errors. The fumble, the drops, etc. Those go the other way, and it's a different ballgame.
1. Not punching it in from the goalline in 4 tries. No way to sugar coat that.