"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Once upon a team there was a football team. This team had just finished a disappointing season, when it didn't do as well as its fans and coaches expected. But it started the year fresh with a series of fairly easy games at home, which it win. Then it managed to win a couple big ones against serious teams.
Along the way, though, this team had to play a tough team on the road, one with a veteran quarterback and impressive defense. They lost, 37-6.
Around that time there was another foootball team, which had high hopes for the season. This one bulled through the first four teams on its shedule and looked pretty darn good, until it played the first team in our story, that is. On the road. They lost 34-24.
The thing is, though, that despite these disappointing--and emphatic--losses, both of these teams went on to finish 11-1 and share the conference title. Both went to BCS bowl games.
The moral of this story isn't to say we'll finish 11-1 or are a perfect analogue to 2010 MSU or Wisconsin, but rather to show how one loss--however crushing it seems at the time--isn't the end of the world. A win over Purdue at home and another at Iowa and we're back on track to a expectations-beating season.
For the record, neither of those teams is as good as MSU. Let's keep all this in perspective before assuming we're melting down a la 2009/2010, okay? It's still way too early for that.
I understand it's probably too soon for everyone to be done grieving and think rationally, but this loss was not unexpected and does not suddenly change what is likely to be our best season since 2006.
We are 6-1. Despite undergoing a coaching change and new schemes on both sides of the ball, we beat ND for the third straight year and for the fifth time in six years. We also avoided getting tripped up by solid if not great WMU and SDSU teams and we won our first conference road game at night against a dangerous NW team. I still believe that NW will trip up one of the other top teams in the conference before this season is over. They do it every year.
Notwithstanding our unexpectedly strong 6-0 start, we were not going to go undefeated this year. Nearly all of our toughest games fall in the second half of our season and we were almost certain to lose some of those games. We lost our seventh game of the season and it just happened to be to Sparty for a fourth year in a row. So what? Prior to the start of the season, I wrote down my predictions and I had us going 8-4 and with a loss to MSU. FWIW, Vegas also had us as an underdog against MSU despite our undefeated start. MSU was 5-1 with their only loss being on the road to a very good ND team. Yes, this game hurts more than most because it is Sparty, but MSU is a very good team and the loss only counts as one in the record books. If we weren't good enough to go undefeated, we had to drop our first game to someone. It should be no surprise that it was in a road game to one of the better teams in the conference.
We have a bye next weekend and then a home game against Purdue, one of the weaker teams in the conference, after that. Assuming we win that game (which we should because we are the better team), we will be 7-1 going into the last four games of the season. All four teams are tough but beatable and two of those games will be in The Big House. If we can split those four games and win two, we will be 9-3 and will likely finish no worse than second in our division. If we can pull off three wins or if Sparty stumbles down the stretch, we still can even win our division and go to the BTCG. We also are on track to have a top five-ish ranked recruiting class with a heavy emphasis on the trenches and defense. Not bad for a transition year with a new coaching staff.
Nothwithstanding the score of the game yesterday, which is irrelevant now, you should now have a better understanding of why you have chosen or should choose to play for UM.
Yes, we got beat yesterday by a better team (at the moment) but what counts in the end is the total classLESSness you witnessed on the green side of the ball vs. the total CLASS of how the MEN in maize and blue handled it all. Not one whiny, bitchy kid was out there complaining about the low class play of MSU. MSU is good but how you handle success and the way they go about it is the real measure of a MAN. I'm not talking about some petty back and forth banter about "little brother", etc. but a complete and utter lack of class. Character is not built by the final score but by ACTIONS. Actions expose who you are. The BOYS from E. Lansing were exposed.
And the worst part of this all is that it is a reflection of their head honcho, the coach. One inicident can be wiped under the rug as an outlier, but several in one game is revealing. Mr Dantonio has a deep rooted hatred of UM which has nothing to do with the UM/MSU rivalry but from his long time devotion to the Buckeyes and the vest. If Mr. Dantonio received a call from tOSU to coach while taking a dump, he wouldn't take the time to wipe his ass before heading out the door.
I'm the first to admit we got beat by a better team and even out coached, but, in the scheme of life I'm PROUD TO BE A WOLVERINE and proud of those MEN that represent THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. They will be the champions in life.
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations
It's obvious to me that the staff knew that MSU could not be run on. Their plan was to pass most of they day. I think this was a good plan.
However, there were two items that thwarted this plan:
The stiff 40mph wind all day.
The inability to protect the passer.
I didn't expect the OL to fold like a cheap lawn chair. But they did. Thankfully, we don't see a DL like this until perhaps a bowl game.
I go inside the boxscore so you don’t have to. It was all dark and scary in there this week. I should probably sleep on this and delete half of these bullets*, but the sooner we put this behind us, the better.
Big John R. Studd Referee Section
I’m moving this section to the beginning this week because I can. It’s also so I can subtly point out a few things that bothered me about this game. (Skip this section if you already got your fill of the Gholston issue.)
- MSU penalties: 13 for 124 yards.
- UofM penalties: 5 for 40 yards.
- 1stdowns from penalties: UofM 6, MSU 0.
- Gholston picked up two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for a late hit on Denard and for punching Taylor Lewan. The late hit on Denard preceded Gholston grabbing Denard’s helmet and twisting it, in an obvious attempt to injure another player. The sucker punch to Lewan came after Lewan helped Gholston get back up.
- Either penalty should have been enough to draw a red card (for those unfamiliar with soccer terms, that’s a permanent ticket to the sidelines.) Instead, after the second penalty, Dantonio took him out of the game for all of 1 minute and 1 second of game time. On Gholston’s first play back in the game, he made the tackle. That’s symbolic of the win-at-all-costs attitude of Mark Dantonio.
- Reading through the post-game press conference comments of our players, I must say that I am impressed with the dignity and class that they demonstrated by taking the high road. I am not that mature. F Dantonio and his win-at-all-costs attitude. His program is degenerating into a minor-league affiliate of the Oakland Raiders. There are no lessons of sportsmanship, integrity, accountability, or respect being learned on the Spartan sideline.
- After the 2ndGholston penalty, Chris Spielman (more on him later) said, Dantonio represents, “Clean, hard, hitting football.” I nearly threw up in my mouth. I suppose that’s in the same manner that Jim Tressel wins with honesty. Spielman’s problem with the Gholston penalties was that it is “costing your team.” I think it goes way deeper than that, Chris. Gholston was trying to injure another person playing a game. Gholston has behavioral issues that are reminiscent of Roger Clemens at his worst. If you think that I am implying he suffers from ‘roid rage, don’t forget that Tony Mandarich was the original face of steroids in college football. So yeah, I went there.
- I’m sure Dantonio will respond to this outrageous behavior by suspending Gholston… for the Indiana or Minnesota games.
- The refs did miss one backwards pass from Cousins, who clearly let go of the ball on state’s 37 and hit his receiver’s hands on the 36. The explanation was really lame, something along the lines of Michigan didn’t recover the football right away. The way I saw it, the ball hit the ground and the Michigan defender bent down and picked it up. What am I missing?
- Dave Pasch from ESPN pointed out that state should have been called for taunting on their last TD, but I think the refs just got tired of throwing flags against state.
I can honestly say that I am proud of the way my team played. Any sparty fan who tells you the same about their team is either lying or is a Neanderthal juggalo. Was that subtle enough for you?
Burst of Impetus
- We won the turnover battle, 2-1, but lost the 4thdown conversion battle. We were 2 of 4 on 4thdown, state didn’t go for it on 4thdown.
- The fourth down stop in the 4thquarter was the burst of impetus play of the game. If Denard sneaks over the left guard (Spielman incorrectly identified the gap over the right guard as being open), we continue the drive and have a chance to tie the game. Instead, we got too cute and State stopped us. This game came down to 3 plays, and yet we lost by 14. It was a lot closer than that. Frustrating.
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
- Mark Messner is our career leader in TFLs with 64. That’s an average of 16 per season. In his best season he had 24 TFLs. I bring this up because some of our D-linemen are highly thought of on this blog. I generally agree, and I like this current group of players, but the production just has not been Messnerian this year. That is the standard that we must strive for.
- State had 10 TFLs. We had 5.5. Whoever is doing our defensive stats, how do you not end up with an integer here?
- Desmond Morgan and Thomas Gordon were each credited with half a TFL for 0 yards. I was just joking about TFNG in a previous ItBS diary. I didn’t expect you guys to actually start crediting them.
- We list QH’s in the boxscore. I’m guessing that’s for quarterback hurries. Kovacs got one and Van Bergen got two.
- Our leading tacklers were Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, and Countess, with 8, 6, 6, and 6, respectively. Do you notice what’s missing? Linebackers. Demens was the leading tackler among the linebackers with 5. I noticed this week that Touch the Banner was high on Demens for last week’s performance against NU, but Brian was critical of him in the UFRs. I think this game was the tie-breaker. I don’t think our LBs were productive enough. Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries. State was consistently able to pound the football against us.
- We got McGloined. I was expecting us to be able to shut down the state running game due to the inexperience along state’s O-line. I was expecting us to shut down PSU last year when they had to start McGloin. Well, we know how that went. I was just amazed at the inability of our front four to get any penetration or push.
- When Denard was lined up as a split end, he was a step or two behind the other WR. The image of a bubble screen to Denard flashed in my mind. Maybe we’re saving that for the osu game.
- The best stat we had was that Will Hagerup put four punts inside the 20. Like I said, it’s dark and scary in here.
- Denard ran the ball 18 times. Very few were of the designed variety. I think he was playing hurt, but he's too classy to use that as an excuse.
- Roundtree had an amazing catch, and a TD. Otherwise, the WRs didn't do too much.
- I liked the jerseys. ESPN’s guys pointed out that the uniforms are a part of recruiting 17 year old players. I’m 41 years old, but I often think like a 17 year old. If I was picking a school just on the basis of their uniforms, I’d pick Michigan. State’s “throwbacks” (throw-ups?) reminded me of a snot-rag. Black, green, and bronze? No thanks. I felt bad for state’s fans because they couldn’t do the “go green, go white” cheer because they didn’t want to cheer for us, since we were the only team wearing white.
- The yellow undershirts said “Victors” on one sleeve and “Valiant” on the other.
Chris Spielman Hates Us
- Phew, I finally have a subtitle for the announcers section. I know announcers aren’t listed in the boxscore, but since moving to SoCal, I watch the games on TV so they are a part of my experience.
- Spielman had a premeditated critique of our QB Oh Noes, play. He said numerous times that our O-linemen were 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Urban corrected him once, saying they were allowed to be 3 yards beyond the line. I don’t know what the rule is exactly, but it was clear to me that the pass was thrown, the ball hit the ground and rolled around a little, Spielman looked up and saw our guys 3-5 yards beyond the line. However, when the ball was thrown, they were still within the three yards, at least according to me and Urban Meyer. Maybe Spielman feels a kinship with Dantonio, or is hurting from the troubles in Columbus, but he just seemed really petty and one-sided during the game. I normally find him to be fair, but not during this game.
- Urban said he would run Denard on 1st, 2nd, and 3rddowns. I may be wrong, but didn’t he recruit Denard to play WR or DB?
- With about 6 minutes left in the 2ndquarter, Urban said that Michigan was dominating time of possession with 14 minutes to state’s 6. I was left to wonder what third team was playing and what did they do with their 4 minutes of TOP.
Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets
- We had more first downs that state, 20-16. I was surprised to see that.
- We were 3 for 15 on third down, which sort of negates that previous bullet. Oh what a difference a week makes.
- I went through the play-by-play link from the boxscore and counted how many times we had 2ndand 10 or longer. There were 9 times we were 2ndand 10, and 5 more times where we had 2ndand longer than 10. To me, that was the story of the game. We couldn’t get in 2nd or 3rd and short, forcing us to pass and the wind got in our heads. And with all that trash flying around, it was hard to ignore the wind. Really state, I get that you are an agricultural school, but do you have to behave like animals?
- If you subtract the sacks, we did gain 151 yards to State’s 224. So we weren’t as dominated on the ground as the rushing yard stats make it seem. We just lost a ton of yards on sacks, 69.
- I think Denard’s 3 INTs last week hurt more this week than they did last week. I know this sounds odd, but we won the game last week. This week, Denard seemed to be missing badly, away from traffic, as if he was overcompensating for last week. He ended up 9-24 passing. All those incompletions prevented us from sustaining drives.
*In diaries, "smack talk is strongly discouraged." Does comparing Gholston to Roger Clemens constitute "smack talk?"
Glad to see him finally back. It is also ironic because he was one of the two players who wore the white pants during Spring and Fall practice. He made one tackle on the kickoff following our first score. (YAY KICKOFF COVERAGE!) He only played on special teams though, while Jake Ryan was the only SLB listed as playing. Has Jake Ryan solidified a starting spot with his play? Is Cam Gordon being slowly brought into game situations due to the amount of time he was out? My guess is a little bit of both, but I hope to see him on the field soon, maybe next weekend...against the boilermak../tore acl?