I'm guessing Hoke and Gibbons like brunettes after reading this quote:
“Every time we were like struggling in kicking, coach tells me to think about girls on a beach or brunette girls,” Gibbons said. “So that’s what we did. Made the kick.”
I can only hope that Hoke was watching Major League 2 when he came up with this. But hey, whatever works.
Jake Taylor: Rube, you look at Playboy all the time, don't you?
Rube Baker: I don't just look at it. I read the articles.
Jake Taylor: Sure you do.
Rube Baker: I do. I especially like it when they mention the girls' interests, like Betsy loves surfing.
Jake Taylor: You even memorize them?
Rube Baker: Yep. I guess I do.
Jake Taylor: Bingo.
Reading the blog leaves me with the impression that a good many people have the lingering doubt that I did last night: Michigan won, that much is clear, but did they deserve to win? They were badly out-gained. They needed Tech to rough their punter. They needed a number of close calls, including the Coale play, to go their way. They needed a kicker to miss an easy field goal. They needed Drew Dileo to execute the ol' pass-the-ball-off-the-other-team-to-the-long-snapper play. It was a wild chain of events.
I don't see the game like I did last night, though. Michigan did what it probably wouldn't have in the last couple of years - Michigan hung in. The defense in particular took punch after punch to the mouth but kept the team in the game. A lot of units would have wilted under that pressure, but not Michigan's 132nd defense. And that - with a bit of offense and some good special teams - was enough.
Sometimes a team doesn't win convincingly. Sometimes you're Micky Ward and you get your ass kicked for ten rounds before you knock the other guy out. Sometimes you hang in just enough for luck to go your way. Is Michigan obviously better than Tech? No, but you don't get a Sugar Bowl trophy for style points. You get a Sugar Bowl trophy for out-scoring the other team, and there is a harsh and brilliant simplicity to that.
We don't need to ask whether Michigan deserved to win. They did win - and they didn't cheat or (presumably) play ineligible players. That's enough. That's sports. To mix my movie quotes, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you, and deserve's got nothing to do with it.
I am thinking it's gonna be tremendous.
As I like to do after most Michigan games, the following are my observations, made for the purpose of prompting discussion on the various topics. Discuss . . .
1. The Molk injury killed our offense. Obviously, the snap issues during our first possession were a problem and Molk, being the leader that he is, found a way to play through it. The fact that he was able to play most of the game was really impressive. It was obvious, though, from the outset that whatever his foot injury was, it REALLY impacted his play, and his ability to move laterally. Much of our difficulty running the ball was attributable to pressure coming up the middle. Note: This is NOT offered as a criticism of Molk, who played through enough pain that many NFL players would have simply sat out.
2. Our running game. I think that the Molk injury, discussed above, was the biggest factor. Almost any running back, with the exception of the most elite (think Barry Sanders, D. McFadden or Peterson) will only have success if their line is giving them holes to run through. Clearly Fitz is not in that elite categoty AT THIS STAGE IN HIS CAREER. That said, there were several plays where his quick lateral cuts and his short bursts allowed him to gain 2-3 yards, rather than losing a yard. I still have a ton of faith in Fitz, especially with another offseason of weight training and practice. I see him having another 1000+ yard season.
3. Denard. It is odd to say this but Denard was a non-factor. Aside from 1-2 runs, his legs were largely taken out of the game by VT bottling him up (see point #1). AS for his throwing, again, he didn't necessarily play that poorly poorly (although we did see a return to his bad habits of locking in on a receiver, regardless of coverage, his back foot throws, his lofted jump balls and his overall poor decision making), but he also didn't play that well. Oddly, Denard was just a guy today. (silver lining: If he put up something like 32-35, 425 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT, 120 russhing yards, 1 rush TD, the OMG-Denard-is-going-pro hype might have built to a point where he would have considered it. PLainly, Denard still has a lot of work to do).
4. Our defense. I am split on my view of our defense. Negative: We continue to struggle against taller wide receivers. We also tackled poorly and allowed a mobile, but slow and lumbering, QB to gash us for a bunch of yards on the ground. Also, 3rd and 20?!?!?! We gave up way too many 3rd and longs. On the positive side, hot damn, our red zone defense is just great, as is our overall scoring D.
5. Coaching. Brady Hoke really is an aggressive coach. He loves to fake the FG, and does so at the right times. Also, on the last play of the first half, my wife said that we should kick the FG and I pretty much told her that she knows nothing about football (although she probably knows more than all but the most avid fans). Damn you Coach Hoke for making me look like a moron by kicking the FG 2 seconds later, but bless you for making the right call, as those points were critical.
Overall, we did not play well, but we found a way to win. I do not like so many fans saying that "VaTech gave us the game by fumbling, missing FGs, throwing picks, etc." VaTech didn't do those things in isolation - they did those things largely as a result of our defense and special teams. Also, we gifted VaTech a few picks, as well. So, while we didn;t play our best, this was a great win for Michigan, that should carry us to a top 10 pre-season ranking.
Will Hagerup's first punt went for 26 yards, second for 24. He finished the season with a paltry 36 yard average, down a full seven yards from last year.
After that Matt Wile came in and averaged 44 yards in 3 punts. His season average (accumulated during Hagerup's four-game suspension plus this game) was 41 yards per punt. Our emergency backup punter was better than our returning starter.
So what's wrong with Hagerup? Mechanics? Injury? Or has something gotten into his head?
First off, I really like Al as our OC and hope he stays a while. He seems to be an open minded guy that looks outside the program for input and I only hope he watches VT's offense a bit more than our own when he reviews film. I felt like we were playing Northwestern, actually with good athletes, and it was death by slot receiver. Maybe Coale is simply the real deal, however, I have to think that we have enough talent (and bodies) to get a similar contribution from that position. Coale had 8 catches for 117, but it felt like 18, the guy was everywhere. While I may be a bit biased since I like more incorporation of a slot receiver into the game plan since those guys can be so good in space, it just seems that we have to have some untapped production on this team. Maybe we will see more next year as the rest of the playbook is implemented.