"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
After a 63-13 baby seal clubbing, this seems like as good a time as any to explain my lifelong obsession with Michigan football boxscores. When I was a child, my dad had a “connection” within the University of Michigan football program. This connection - for the purposes of this diary we’ll call him “Keith” – would send my dad what I believed to be insider information every year. It started with the pre-season media guide coming sometime in August, and continued with expanded boxscores very similar to what MGoBlue.com now posts. Anyway, back in the 70’s and 80’s the average fan was stuck with the two inches of boxscore info that the newspapers would publish. They consisted of the main stats – first downs, passing yards, rushing yards, and scores, and that was about it. What a boon it was to my 12 year old self to see who the leading tacklers were, who our all-purpose yardage leaders were, and on and on. Of course, I usually had to wait until Wednesday or Thursday to get these, but thanks to modern technology, all these stats are now at our fingertips with a few simple key strokes. Keith would also send us the cumulative game stats and many other interesting items.
The best thing about Keith was that he knew where the entrances were to the locker rooms at all the big 10 stadiums. Every now and then, we would meet up with him after a road game and wander over to the locker room. We’d wait a short while, and then the players would start exiting the locker room, one-by-one. A couple things stand out in my memory. One, those players always wore their navy blue sport coats with ties, and two, they would sign autographs. Of course, it was always easier to get an autograph after a win. One time, we lost to Purdue and the players just looked so down. That image to me captures ABC Sports “agony of defeat” much better than the skier wiping out does. At Minnesota, I got Anthony Carter’s autograph. ANTHONY CARTER!!! And finally, after one Wisconsin game I got Bo Schembechler’s autograph. I could’ve died and gone to heaven, man. What a thrill. So after I get Bo’s autograph, Keith says to me, “Steve, you’ve got to get this guy’s autograph.” Well, he looks like an older guy, possibly a coach, so I follow Keith’s advice and ask for his autograph. It’s Ron Kramer. At the time, I was like, “who’s Ron Kramer?” Yeah, youth is wasted on the young. Thanks, Ron, and thanks Keith. On to the link.
Burst of Impetus
- Seriously? You expected something here?
- For the gamblers, there was one huge play. I can’t overstate this enough. Late in the game, Michigan punted to UMass. UMass fumbled and M recovered, giving us a short field. M punched it in and we covered the spread.
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
- I’m moving this up this week only as a way to introduce the next section’s title. During one random play in the game, two M defenders ended up hitting the UMass ballcarrier at the same time, from opposite sides. The B1G Network announcer called this a “Malachi Crunch.” There’s nothing like B1G announcers breaking out a 36 year old reference to describe a play. For those still in college reading this diary, the “Malachi Crunch” refers to a demolition derby move employed by the Malachi brothers against Pinky Tuscadero, as shown in a three-part 1976 episode of Happy Days. Fonzi risked his life to rescue Pinky. Then, he baited the Malachi Brothers into trying the move on him. He moved his car at the last moment, causing the Brothers to Crunch themselves. I think providing you with this bit of worthless trivia is entirely consistent with my avatar.
- Did you know that Mike Cox went to Michigan? I hope no one was playing a drinking game based on that.
- Our defense has found an identity. They are a bunch of crazed Malachi brothers gang-tackling anything that moves. At least I hope so.
- We held UMass to 3.1 ypc. Some would probably hope for less, but I’ll take it.
- 23 players showed up in the defensive stats, including Paul Gyarmati who got a fumble recovery.
- Hawthorne was our leading tackler with 7. He was all over the field on special teams and late in the game. I don’t think he likes getting pushed to the third team.
- Unfortunately, the next three leading tacklers were all DBs.
- Frank Clark had two pass breakups. It seems like we always play teams that have athletic DE that jump up and break up passes. We finally have one of those guys.
- Joe Bolden got a sack for -24 yards, somewhat reminiscent of the Sugar Bowl. You want to keep going backward? OK, just let me know when you want to get sacked.
- 10 carries for 106 yards and 1 – “you’ve got to be kidding me” – type TD run.
- He was 16 for 24 passing for 291 yards and 3 TDs. Those 16 completions went to 9 different receivers.
- Denard had one poor pass/decision, throwing a pick-six, but better he do that against UMass than ND, ‘cause he rarely does that kind of thing, right?
- I have to give credit to the ref who called UMass for back-to-back chop blocks. First, for calling it twice in a row, and second, because the UMass blocker basically whiffed on the blocks. You know you are bad when you can’t even execute a proper chop block.
- UMass committed 10 penalties for 69 yards. I’m not sure if that includes the 24 yard penalty they got for intentional grounding, because the play-by-play link shows a 24 yard sack for Bolden AND the 24 yard penalty. I suppose I could figure this out, but we won the game by 50 points, know what I mean?
Bunches of Funchess
- After two weeks, I’m convinced. Funchess is the real deal. He was the first of eight Michigan players to score a touchdown.
- Gardner and Roundtree also caught TD passes. Roundtree’s was a bullet from Denard.
- Dileo broke a tackle allowing him to scamper for 66 yards on M’s longest passing play.
- In the first, and hopefully last, ever Magnus Bowl, Toussaint outrushed Mike Cox 85 to 76, closer than most people expected.
- Eight M players appear in the rushing stats, including Norfleet’s first carry and a TD for Taylor Lewan.
- Vincent Smith scored two TDs on his three carries.
- Ron Kramer’s #87 got the Legends Patch treatment. I kept trying to find #87 on the field. I finally gave up at halftime and clicked on MGoBlue.com. Congrats to Brandon Moore for receiving the honor.
- It’s a sad day for hexadecimalists everywhere as no one registered in the boxscore. I thought there would be plenty given how many players got in the game. I find it interesting that they show the defensive players numbers, but not the offensive players. Why is that?
Special Teams Stuff
- M’s average punt was 41.3 yards, but the average net yards per punt was 46 yards. That’s what happens when a couple punts doink off the returner’s helmet and go backwards.
- We kicked off 10 times. That’s always good.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- The attendance was 110,708. Never let it be said that M fans don’t appreciate a good baby seal clubbing.
- First downs – M: 27, UMass: 15.
- Time of possession – M 30:57, UMass 29:03. Whew, that was close.
Outside the Boxscore
- I decided to drop the song of the game bit; however, if I had continued it, it would have been "Dream On," by Aerosmith since they are from Massachusetts and anybody thinking UMass had a chance, well, dream on. I have added this section to address TrippWelborneIdentity’s repeated critique. I’ll reserve this section for cigar smoking dudes, my brother, and whatever else happens to cross my mind, like my damn pipes leaking for the third time in 11 yards. Copper ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, folks.
ND Rivals site with the report:
A source tells Irish Illustrated that Jamoris Slaughter suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Saturday night at MSU.
Notre Dame secondary has been decimated this season if the report is true. They would now have lost 2 starters (Lo Wood) and may have 2 freshmen starting in the secondary next week. Elijah Shumate looked good for them last night, but you never know when inexperience will rear its head.
You can't make this stuff up. Last week Brady Hoke came by our new tailgate location in the Blue Lot at the end of the game and said hello. This week no Brady but in his place Greg Mattison stopped over and spent a couple of minutes taking to our group before walking on.
Like Brady, he was all smiles, charming, funny (joked with my
avatar wife about her being born a Buckeye) and waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity while I fumbled with my IPhone (I kept hitting "Photos" instead of the "Camera" icon) so we could get the picture. And to top it off, while I was talking to Mattison, Dave Brandon walked by!
I think we may have the coolest parking spot in the world.
The Big Ten is utter poop at this point. A national embarrassment for a supposedly "elite" conference.
How can the league use all that money it has to improve its teams? (Legally and ethically of course, we're not the SEC.)
Is there anything that the Big Ten office can do at all to improve things? Sooner or later it will catch up with the league if it becomes irrelevant, and that pile of money will disappear.
- Denard will throw the "d'oh!" pick. It is frustrating to see it, but this isn't going away. It is great consolation to see 67% completions with 12.1 YPA, but "UMass" and all that. Michigan really needs next Saturday to be an outlier here.
- The Devins create a bit of a problem for the opposing defense. Maybe this isn't really a trend yet, but both Devins looked great on their respective TD catches, with Gardner's displaying the athleticism we have heard so much about.
- Toussaint is shifty and will burn you in space. After a slow start to the game, 2011 Fitz showed up and made several defenders look silly. Again, "UMass" and all that, but Michigan will need Toussaint to build on this performance.
- Michigan's Defense is "Bend But Don't Break". UMass couldn't bend it much, but they did have two 60ish yard drives in the first half and another that went for 11 plays in the third quarter. The middle looked soft again, allowing Cox to make some strong runs.
- The Devins - These two have completely changed the outlook for the Michigan passing attack. Now up to 5 combined TDs, I'd put the over/under for these two at 20.
- Roy Roundtree - Breaks through finally with his first TD of 2012. Kudos also to Fitz Toussaint for his first of the year and to Vincent Smith for punching two in from inside the 10.
- Taylor Lewan - Swam 5 yards through bodies to recover a fumble on the goal line for his first career TD. I can't imagine how that play must have looked from his point of view. Congrats also to Justice Hayes for his first career TD.
- Denard - 3 TDs through the air and one long one with his feet. 106 yards rushing keeps him on pace to top Pat White. I love that he doesn't tie his shoes but cringe every time an announcer has to point out how well he cuts in his socks. "D'oh" picks will continue, and must be accepted by fans, but hopefully a lesson was learned about when to reach out at the goal line.
- Will Hagerup - This guy is back and better than ever. I must have re-watched the 70-yard-in-the-air blast off the facemask of befuddled UMass return man 7 times minimum. Punts like that could be game-changers going forward.