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?
As I comb through all the msm stories about today's game, the majority of them seem to be about respect. Michigan State wants respect. And they seem to want our respect. They want us to acknowledge them and the game we play against them every year. They wanted to make a statement today with their physical play because, dang, why doesn't anyone respect us??
The funny thing is, they don't seem to care about the rest of the Big Ten. They're sick and tired of not getting our respect. So now they've won four years in a row, and STILL, this respect thing. Why is winning not enough? Why the huge need to make a a big, physical, over-the-top statement that may or may not hospitalize our players? Why is winning not enough?
Respect will not come this way, Michigan State. Respect is earned, and never forced. I have never respected anyone who tried to force it on me, and neither have you. Maybe we're different than most, but Michigan fans respect sportsmanship. Competitiveness with good will. Winning and losing with grace. And we respect the rules, we really do.
So if it's our respect you want, try some of those things. It just might work next time.
So some may think this is sour grapes after a humiliating loss, but I think this is the mountain top for the MSU progam as the recruiting landscape has, and continues to change dramatically back to a more recognizable view for Michigan fans.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program as is often said. In the last several years there has been much made of the recruiting preferences of the last staff, and how they were not successful with recruting the region mostly because they chose not to be. Enter Hoke and staff and his primary recruiting base being the Midwest again. Of our 23 commits right now 18 are from Michigan or Ohio with atleast one more one the way . . . Mr. Dunn. State in past years usually had to settle for the second and often times third best after both OSU and Michigan got the best of the area. This reality led to traditional wins for us, and unbriddled inferiority for our little squirt kid-brother down the hall.
IMO there are multiple guys on MSU's roster that would be elsewhere if we would have gone directly from Carr to Hoke or something similar. Granted this year is a bumper crop year for talent in Ohio and Michigan but do you really think that we would have dipped into Harrison High to grab Funchess, and Ojemudia if we still had RR an the helm? I wanna say RJS somewhere in his recruitment talked about the fact that if RR had still been coach there was no way we would have pulled the Detroit 3 in Stone, Ross, and Richardson. 15 total kids of our 23 had MSU offers and chose us. You can spin that any way you want if you are a Spartan fan, but deep down you know the business thats comin' your way.
A perfect case study ready over diagnosis is the recruitment of Sevon Pittman. He would have been part of the class at OSU save their monetary misappropriations and such. He then moves to trying to commit to Michigan, but alas we are full having taken what we want. He then moves on to his final choice MSU. As we speak the 5-star DT Washington kid from Cinncy area has or will Officially visit MSU. Why you ask, because of the same reason Pittman will sport the green and white . . . and gold and black and green . . . man those were ugly!!
Of the 18 commits from Mich/Ohio how many do you think had MSU offers as well? 14 of those 18 also held MSU offers if Scout is correct, 14!! Lets look at MSU and their 14 commits to date. All are 3 star to Scout accept 2, Pittman and Burbridge who are 4 star recruits. Pittman was talked about earlier, and Burbridge woulda, coulda, shoulda been a part of our class if not for issues with grades. Even saying that, there are still certain people who work at WTKA, write for the DET news and Scout that think there is still an outside chance he still comes to Mich, I did say outside now as did Sam Webb.
Having said all this, MSU has reached the top of their little mountain and I for one think it starts to go down from here. Cousins is the best true QB to come through there in 10 years so him leaving is a big deal. They will still be OK-good because Dantonio isnt a horrible coach. They do a good job with what they have. What they have though is the key, and I think that all changes this year.
IMO, the deciding factor in today's game was the Defensive Line of MSU. MSU typically controlled the line of scrimmage when we had the ball.
MSU has one of the better Dlines that we will see all year, however, quite a few teams left on our schedule also have good Dlines - if not as good as MSUs.
What can we do to mitigate a good Dline?
More shotgun, more option, more protection int backfield?
Today was obviously painful, but it’s important on days like this to take a step back and look at the state of the program. The future is bright. After sweating out bowl eligibility the past two years (and not making it in 2009), Michigan is already there. Mattison has taken one of the worst defenses in the country and turned it into a respectable unit in seven games. Borges had his troubles today but has generally shown a broad knowledge of offensive football and a large amount of flexibility. Coach Hoke has already shown himself to be a great bearer of the combination of toughness and class that makes Michigan what it is. More, the staff already has one top-notch recruiting class of verbal commits and a head start on 2013 in the person of Shane Morris.
The team is obviously a year or more away from being the Michigan of old, but that’s okay. Remember that Bo’s 1969 team didn’t dominate. It took Bo some time to get the Wolverines to their rightful place. The current staff will have to have a couple of years of recruiting to fill in the defense and offense with the kind of players that will fit the current systems. Once they do – and there’s every reason to think that they will – Michigan will be back. Remember that SDSU Coach Rocky Long said that it’s not if but when Coach Hoke will win a national championship at Michigan.
If you’re not convinced that it’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine right now, think about Michigan State: Their fans just emerged from their garbage-strewn stadium, having watched their team make a mockery of themselves, and they’re on cloud nine about a season that isn’t going any farther than a bad loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. MSU supporters are thrilled about at a team that would make Michigan fans embarrassed. MSU gained a victory today, but the arc of college football history bends back toward Michigan as of right now. MSU will not be able to compete with the realities that I mentioned above.
In summation of this somewhat jumbled collection of thoughts: Michigan has a top coaching staff, great recruits are on the way, and the Michigan emphasis on winning the right way endures. Today was just one small stumble on the long road to Michigan football being Michigan football again. In the grand scheme of things, even today is a great day.