landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
1. The Run Offense, especially Denard in the first half. Fitz and Smith both showed some good moves as well. It wasn't all good though...we stunk in the 3rd quarter and Hopkins, really, shouldn't be considered a serious option at this point.
2. The Run Defense. We stuffed a great running attack today, and the D-Line was fantastic...this is a huge improvement over last year.
3. The Freshmen. Morgan, Ryan and Countess all impressed me, Countess more than anyone. These are real players who are going to be major stars for years to come.
1. The Pass Offense. Tacopants is still the 12th Man. While blame for that falls largely on Denard--who is consistently overthrowing our receivers--I also have a problem with the playcalling. If your QB isn't throwing accurately, why not add more high percentage pass plays? More screens (including bubble screens), hitches, curls, waggles, checkdowns and drags would be good. Sure, these aren't plays aren't big yard getters, but what we need right now is more completions for positive yardage. If we rely on our running game to get us out of every mess, we'll end up with the same problems we had last year against Big 10 defenses. This is what I hoped to get from Borges, and still hope to get. But I'm starting to lose confidence that it will happen...
2. The Pass Defense. While still better than last year, we're just not good covering the middle of the field. About a dozen times, Lindley had guys open, and either threw a bad pass or had his receivers botch an easy catch. Unnerving.
1. Consistency on Offense. We still can't play 4 consistent quarters on offense. This is a problem that goes back to 2009, and has not--apparently--been solved by the new coaching staff. If we don't find a way to move the ball for an entire game, we're going to have problems in conference play.
Anybody else feel that Al should have Denard throw the ball a lot in the second half? Three touchdown lead. Get him more looks in the passing game. Take the lumps if they come, but I would love to see him get comfortable enough to fall back into the rhythm he had last year. I haven't checked, but I'd assume he has 100-150 more rushing yards than passing yards at this point of the season...
EDIT: OK relax everyone. The main concern was that playing 7NA 5 times in a quarter is a bit excessive. Although I'd like to see piped-in music removed completely, I also understand why its popular. If Hoke and the players like it, obviously thats what matters most... but I have a feeling the emotional response to the song will be less significant with more frequent use.
I know there are more important things going on right now, but I would like to gauge interest on this board about starting a petition regarding the use of piped in music. Although getting rid of it entirely is probably not a realistic goal at this point, I would like to write a letter to the appropriate parties in order to limit its use. The 1st quarter just ended, and I heard Seven Nation Army play about 5 times already. How would you guys feel about a petition promoting the following:
- Emphasis on the MMB over piped-in music
- Songs like "Seven Nation Army" should only be played ONCE throughout the game if at all. (I have to admit at the ND game, I didn't mind a well-placed White Stripes or Lose Yourself when used sparringly.)
- Following the tradition of Michigan football and the game day experience
I didn't have internet for the past week, so I'm getting to this diary pretty late. Almost everything that occurred to me has already been said. But here's a few things that stood out and could use repeating if you have already heard it.
This is why you don't teach players to only play strongside or only play weakside.
A single shift into an unbalanced line made 6 of our guys change position. I feel like this calls for some joke about Chinese fire drills, but it's too easy. If the motion man hadn't taken the jet sweep and actually realigned on the other side, I wonder if those 6 guys would have been thinking about flopping back. Ugh... ...
Our defense is still young and has a lot to learn. We're a year or two (or three) away from being able to shut down serious opponents.
Vincent looked good, I still worry about his durability. There are some indications that ND's D-line and scheme are legitimately good against the run. So this might not be as bad as we fear. My hopes are still on Fitz to be the main workhorse until someone younger distinguishes himself. Looks like we'll be RB by committee for the rest of this year.
What about Denard?
Good thing: Denard is still awesome running the ball against weaker competition
Bad thing: We were forced to run Denard against a middling' MAC team
Good thing: Denard is getting better at getting out of bounds without taking a big hit
Bad thing: Several times he ran into a NT, DT sandwich
Good thing: The return of QB dive TROLOLOLOLO!!!! (Brian "QB draw-OH NOES!" is a great name, but it's not a draw fake, it's a dive fake.)
Bad thing: Bubble screens still MIA
MSU @ ND notes
- The game was closer than the score reflected. MSU failed a fake FG and got intercepted in the redzone, ND had a kickoff return TD. ND still wins handedly, but probably only by one score or 10 points instead of 18.
- MSU's O-line has big problems. This is not news to anyone. But I think it's showing up in some of their playcalling.
For example, they used this weird formation
And then they pitched the ball around the short side TE/Guard. It's like they don't trust their interior linemen, so they might as well try to run away from the muck. (sometimes with a pulling lineman)
There's a reason why people don't normally line up like this. It's not usually effective.
- Wood's first TD was not a TD.
First of all, there was a blatant holding at the point of attack,
And he was down at the 1 yard line anyway.
- Bawk! Bawk! Dantonio.
It's 4th and 17 at midfield, down two touchdowns with 4 and half minutes left in the game. And he decided to PUNT. C'mon, after last (last) week, we know that 4 minutes against ND is time enough for at least 6 touchdowns.
- Nick Hill on Kick Returns
He looked good at finding the hole and they had some designed returns to break off to one side of the wedge. This dishearteningly matches up with one of our weaknesses.
- It's all about stopping Cunningham
They still have the triplets at RB. But with the issues they have with the O-line, Cunningham becomes the key to stopping MSU.
- Cousins is still a good QB, but I feel like we can trick him into a couple of INT's.
He likes to throw the crossing routes to the WR. And in the hurry-up, they seemed to favor square-ins and slants. ND stepped in front for a couple of picks and tips. Cousins is very good at throwing the checkdown and hitting late leakers from the backfield. And all the backs seemed to be good at making them selves available after scraping past the rushers.
MSU likes to call a fair number of screens and draws, but these are hard to do well for inexperienced linemen.
No open thread yet, so here's your thread for anybody watching College Gameday on ESPNU already (or ESPN in 6 minutes).
Mark May just picked Michigan as the team most likely to lose because Hoke told his players he left by text so "it would be fitting for them to pull the upset".
Holtth picked USC as the ranked team most likely to lose.
A noon game means early-rising for tailgaters! Give yourself a couple extra minutes heading out the door as there will be quite a lot of fog around. In some areas it could be pretty dense, so be careful driving! Temperatures will be around the 50 degree mark and you'll definitely see fog until the sunrises at 7:22am. Once we start getting some sun, the fog will begin to burn off and we'll start warming up. We'll be up to the mid 50s by 10am, and continue to see that thermometer rise during the day. A good amount of clouds will hang around, and I wouldn't rule out a light shower. Southeast winds are between 5-10mph, so you'll feel a light breeze on your skin, leaves will rustle around.
By noon we'll have a little more of that sun peeking through the clouds and have warmed up to the low 60s. Wind's still coming out of the southeast at around 5mph, just a gentle breeze. Still seeing a good amount of cloud cover, and there is a slight chance of a sprinkle.
Halftime won't bring us much warmer air, still sitting in the low 60s. Clouds are mixed with sun. Some models are keeping us dry, others are beginning to roll in some showers around this time. With pop-up showers' exact location being unpredictable 12 hours out, and considering there's a chance of rain the entire day tomorrow, I wouldn't rule out getting a light shower.
We'll reach the high for the day late in the afternoon/early evening hours, hitting the upper 60s. We're also going to see the winds shift from the southeast to come out of the east, staying calm until after midnight, when they'll slowly increase for a windy Sunday. Those clouds that have been hanging around all day? Yep, sticking around for the evening hours too. Our chance of rain does diminish however, so if you're walking from one place to another tonight you should be fine. By 8pm temps will be down to 60, and keep dropping to the low 50s by closing time.
Enjoy the game, and Go Blue!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for NBC/ABC in Traverse City, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!