this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Everyone knows Hoke is gone and I think the troops will rally and keep it within three TDs.
I'm all in for Michigan (and the points)! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?!
Now who's with me?!
edit: per some requests, here are some prior spreads:
2011 UM -8.5 result UM 40 OSU 34
2012 OSU -4 result OSU 26 UM 21
2013 OSU -17 result OSU 42 UM 41
2014 OSU opens at -20 to -19.5, I expect it to go to 17 ish again.
I don't recall his name being mentioned. Has done wonders at Wisconsin. Is young. Seems like a smart tough guy. Also, wisc has a very good recent history in coaching hires. So if no Harbaugh, why not a guy like this?
At the start of the game, BTN reminded us that Brady Hoke's career record at the University of Michigan as head coach was 31-18. That means that Saturday's game against Maryland was his fiftieth game as coach. 50 is a nice round number. It makes it easy for us to compute winning percentages. 32 wins puts you at 64%. 31 wins puts you at 62%. Both are above average. Neither is very impressive, especially considering the advantages that come from coaching at the University of Michigan - budget, staffing, scheduling, facilities, recruiting, tradition, one of the better home field advantages, and an ability to attract competent assistant coaches. Considering all those advantages, 62% is failing. A monotonically downward trajectory is failing, but you all know that.
No, I mention the 50 games because on a selfish, personal note (and yeah, I know that's redundant) I have to mention that this is my fiftieth Inside the Boxscore Diary. I haven't counted them all, or done a very good job archiving them on the Blog, but I don't remember missing one - unlike a certain proprietor who sometimes feels that UFRs are optional. Believe me, they are not optional to the faithful west coast reader, who refreshes MGoBlog every few minutes on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, counting on that informative, insightful content to get him through the lunch hour. I do understand skipping the occasional UFR, because as I have learned over the past four years, and this year moreso than the rest, this team can be very hard to write about. I only write one diary a week during football season. I can't imagine having to write about this team, or better put, this coaching staff, on a daily basis. But take heart, dear readers, for we have surely witnessed the penultimate game in Brady Hoke's Michigan coaching career. Normally, the word "penultimate" sounds way cooler than it's actual meaning - the second to last - but in this case, the meaning matches the feeling.
Apparently, I've watched a lot of television, so much so, that I picked up the nickname, "TV Child" somewhere along the way. There's a hallowed tradition among television programs that when a series reaches a milestone event - the 100th episode or the 200th episode - the writers are allowed to take a break and instead of putting out new content, they assemble a "best of" or a highlights episode. Welcome to my personal "best of" edition of Inside the Boxscore.
Boxscore Link: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/112214aaa.html
Play-by-Play Link: http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/mich/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2014-1...
Burst of Impetus
* Bursted impetus is more like it. There can only be one play here, the punt return for a touchdown that wasn't. I'm conditioned by years of watching football to check the screen for that little yellow "FLAG" indicator they place under the score when there is a penalty. So when Norfleet broke through the initial line of defenders, and then burst past the last man making it to the endzone, I didn't celebrate. I paused a second. I watched him get mobbed by his teammates. I exhaled, and then I celebrated. I paused the screen, rewound it, and called my wife downstairs because even though she doesn't care much for football, she likes seeing those types of plays. And then we watched it again and still there was no penalty. And then it appeared. My heart sunk, but I told myself that maybe it was just an excess celebration penalty. I think we'd all understand that. But no, they called a Michigan player for a block in the back penalty that surely looked much more like a touch in the back that didn't change the defender's impetus in the slightest. In a game where the refs seemingly let a lot slide (like Maryland lining up offsides and holding and hitting Funchess' elbow moments before the football arrived on fourth down) in an attempt to limit the eye carnage and shorten the game, they threw a flag and wiped out the one brief moment of joy we had all day. I'm tempted to say all season, but I don't want to be accused of hyperbole.
* It was senior day. Speaking of my wife, I had to explain to her that it was the senior's last home football game, and not just another futile attempt to fill the stadium. Everyone over 65 gets in free! Thankfully, we're not there yet. Hats off to the seniors, who did get to experience the Sugar Bowl victory. Things better turn around or this year's juniors will have a lousy senior day next season.
* Thank you to BTN's Eric Collins who got into the spirit of my clips show (how'd he know I was going to do this?) by recycling his "Malachi Crunch" comment.
* Joe Bolden and Jake Ryan led Michigan in tackles with 14 apiece. Ryan contributed 1 QH. While it's nice seeing your starting linebackers lead the team in tackles instead of your safeties, 14 is a lot of tackles and speaks to Michigan's inability to get Maryland off the field, particularly in the 4th quarter.
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
* This section was a season 1 staple featuring Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. Matt Godin and Taco Charlton each had one of Michigan's two sacks on the day.
* Michigan's rush defense had been playing better of late, but reverted to mid-season, David Cobb runs right over you for 182 yards, level of performance, only this time, we got gashed by C. J. Brown, a fellow who was leading Maryland with something just over 300 yards on the season coming into game 11. I just don't know anymore.
* Devin Gardner was our 2nd leading rusher on the day with 82 yards on 14 carries. He also ran for Michigan's only TD on the day. His running will be needed next week if we hope to score and avoid being totally embarrassed. Ohio State is not going to be happy after the egg they laid against Indiana. Perhaps they were looking ahead to next week's game. Perhaps Michigan is looking ahead to the end of the season after next week's game. How else to explain our fourth quarter?
* Gardner was 13 for 24 passing with numerous drops and poorly thrown balls, and the requisite interception.
* Michigan averaged 6.5 yards per rushing attempt and 4.4 yards per passing attempt. I understand that passing is supposed to be more of a boom-or-bust type situation. You either get a big play down the field, or the ball falls incomplete. The reason why one passes the ball and deals with the drive-hindering incomplete passes, is that usually, on average, you gain more passing than you do rushing. When I was a kid, I learned that a 0.300 batting average, 30 home runs, and 100 RBIs are marks to strive for. I'm still new to the advanced stats in football, but 7 yards per attempt seems like a number you should shoot for when passing. 4.4 yards per attempt, from a fifth year senior quarterback? That brings us back to the, "is Gardner broken" discussion. He certainly ran the ball better, but he still didn't throw the ball downfield. The coaching staff will allow him to throw the long out to the sideline for a few yards, but they won't call plays to throw the ball down the center of the field. One poster has posited a belief that Gardner was hurt during the Notre Dame game. I tend to believe this because I watched him play QB last year and the year before. I don't remember his flutter balls from this season showing up last season. I don't remember him being wildly inaccurate and having major timing issues last season. The YPA stat backs this up. So he is either hurt or the coaching staff is so afraid of him throwing interceptions down the middle of the field where there are more defenders and this is more likely to occur, that they have abandoned a major feature of their beloved MANBALL philosophy. MANBALL works best when you are averaging 6.5 yards per rushing attempt like we were yesterday, so you suck in the safeties and then play action pass over their heads. That's what made Anthony Carter famous. That's what earned Braylon Edwards the #1 jersey. Michigan has thrown one deep ball all year (hyperbole alert, but not by much) - the TD to Funchess against Penn State, and even that fell in front of the safety. Have we thrown a ball over a safeties head all season? I can't remember one. And that's how you get held to 16 points against a middling Maryland team while averaging 6.5 yards per attempt rushing.
* There was a time when Michigan could run the ball effectively. In Fitzgerald Toussaint's sophomore year, he ran for more than 1000 yards. Then he got hurt, and then last year happened. This season started off slow, but the running game appears to be effective, if not exactly filthy.
* In the game of musical chairs that is our backfield, it was Drake Johnson's turn again, as he ran for 94 yards on 14 carries. Justice Hayes was also quite effective gaining 6 yards per carry. Last week's star runner, De'Veon Smith, was the only one held under 5.9 yards per carry.
San Diego 49ers
* I noted very early in the third quarter when BTN showed Funchess had 30 yards receiving on 5 catches. He finished the game with 30 yards receiving on 5 catches.
* Funchess looks as out of place on the field as would a San Diego 49er. Is he a small tight end or a large wide receiver? I don't know. I do know that dominant, #1 wearing wide receivers should be averaging over 6 yards per completion. He sits in short underneath zones and catches passes you would throw to a tight end, but too often lets a smaller DB knock the ball away. He doesn't box out the defender like a big tight end would and he doesn't stretch the field like a fast wide receiver would.
* Jake Butt caught four passes for 28 yards. He had a long of 17, meaning his other three catches went for 11 yards. Running the ball at 6.5 yards an attempt makes more sense than that.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet is listed once under the "All Returns" section of the boxscore. They did not get him involved in the running or passing game. I suppose that's because he's just getting back from injury, but it would have been nice to have another play maker available on offense.
* Norfleet returned two punts for 17 yards, three kickoffs for 74 yards, and basically won the game for us until a ref decided that that was the one play all game that needed to be called by the book.
* How do you lose when you outgain your opponent 398 yards to 312 yards? The answer is simple. Not-so-special teams (and turnovers, and failing on fourth down twice.)
* Maryland's fourth FG attempt is not in the boxscore because Jourdan Lewis roughed the kicker. On the very next play, Jourdan Lewis failed to keep contain and Maryland scooted in for a touchdown.
* Michigan's high point on the day, a 52 yard fake punt, was more than offset by a touch in the back penalty that resulted in Michigan losing 70 yards of field position, oh, and a game-deciding touchdown.
I'm an International Umpire / Big John R. Studd Referee Section
* Yeah, I never did find a good section heading for this, but I've covered these guys enough for one game.
* No hexadecimal uniforms in the boxscore, yet again. Brady Hoke gets criticized for lacking organizational skills, but I tell you this, he figured out how to give out numbers so that the boxscore didn't need to revert to hexadecimal numbers. So there's that.
* Actually, I didn't get into the M00N meme, and I'm glad that Michigan scored early to save us from the M00M meme, but Maryland countered with a FG, setting up a potential M3M3 meme, or would that be a M33M meme? See, when writers try to add things to the clips show they usually fail in spectacular fashion. Like on Seinfeld, for 99 episodes it's a TV show about four people living in New York, but for some reason during the highlights show, Jerry's allowed to break the fourth wall and talk directly to the viewer. Let's just move on.
* Maryland's second leading tacklers were Nixon and Goree.
Hey, you know the rule, no politics.
It's Brian's bolded alter-ego. Thanks for stopping by our special highlights diary. Yes, I know the rules, but it's Maryland, and that's practically the nation's capitol. Can't we make an exception this one time?
OK, I'll just post this snarky photo instead:
I hope you had as much fun traveling down memory lane as I have. But you know what the problem with the TV highlights show is? There's nothing new. That feeling that we've been here, done that, leaves us feeling disappointed that we wasted our time watching something we've already seen. After this, the penultimate game of the Brady Hoke era, I can't think of a more fitting epitaph.
Two weeks to go and it is getting interesting out there. I will say thus far I am liking what the committee seems to be doing which is rewarding the # of quality wins BUT giving small penalties if you look like dog crap in most of those wins (FSU).
There were not a lot of key results this week as the SEC teams played their 4th non conf game this week ahead of some key rivalry games, the Big 10 is mostly moot, the ACC is a 1 team conference, and the Pac 12 essentially had 1 key game. Ole Miss who was depanted by Big Bert was the only major loss in the top 10.
UCLA did have a big win over USC to create an outside chance at the playoffs if they can win next week and knock off Oregon in the Pac 12 championship game. Wiscy-OSU seem on a collision course although Jerry Kill will bring his rough and tumble team into Madison and not make it easy. Baylor goes for style points vs KSU in 2 weeks to try to get that 4th spot over Miss State... who themselves faces what seems to be a broken Ole Miss this week. FSU has a tricky game vs FL and Bama v Auburn.
Question of the week - will Baylor and OSU flip flop?
- (1) Bama 10-1
- (2) Oregon 10-1
- (3) FSU 11-0
- (4) Miss State 10-1
- (5) TCU 9-1
- (6) OSU 10-1
- (7) Baylor 9-1
- (9) UCLA 9-2
- (10) Georgia 9-2
- (11) Staee 9-2
- (13) Arizona State 9-2
- (12) KSU 8-2
- (15) Arizona 9-2
- (14) Auburn 8-3
- (16) Wiscy 9-2
- (8) Ole Miss 8-3
- (20) Missouri 9-2
- (18) Georgia Tech 9-2
- (21) Oklahoma 8-3
- (22) Clemson 8-3
- (24) Louisville 8-3
- (25) Minnesota 8-3
- (17) Utah 7-4
- (19) USC 7-4
- (NR) Colorado State 10-1
- (26) UM 5-6
Miss State will be going for style points vs Ole Miss to lock in #4 but in the Big 12 Baylor has 1 last chance for style points vs KSU in 2 weeks to try to move ahead of Miss State a week from Saturday. TCU is out of quality wins to be had.
If all goes to form the only 2 other teams who still have outside shots would be Georgia and UCLA if they win their championship games over teams #1 and #2 although they'd be 2 loss teams. (Georgia requires Missouri to lose to Arkansas to even have a chance to be in the game). It *would* be interesting if somehow Georgia beats #1 Bama in the SEC championship game or UCLA* beats #2 Oregon (or both happened) - in theory the committee should be rewarding conference champions so you'd think that would vault either or both of those teams into a playoff spot. Over a Mississippi State or over the odd man out of TCU and Baylor.
*Pac 12 South has three 2 loss teams in 1st place, two of which (AZ ASU) play each other next week. UCLA has Stanford, so there will be a tiebreaker if UCLA wins as two teams will be tied with 2 losses. UCLA has beaten both AZ and ASU.
The plan was not for Hackett to be in this position long-term.
Well, that has changed folks. Per source, Michigan’s board of regents met recently and Hackett told the board that he has not found a person or persons that he would recommend the board consider for the permanent athletic director post. Accordingly, he advised the Regents that he would be the one making the decision on Hoke’s future following the season. The Regents per source, recognizing the potential issue this could present when trying to hire a new head coach, asked Hackett if this meant he was prepared to stay on “at least two years” in order to provide stability when, potentially, attempting to hire a new face of Michigan football. Hackett told the Regents he was prepared to do so.
I contemplated not even writing this edition of the diary. Next week’s game is going to have way more meaning in terms of the end of a season, of a coaching staff, maybe of an era in Michigan football. This was just one of many infuriating games played by Michigan in recent years, and distinguishing it from, say, Iowa or Nebraska last year is mostly in the eye of beholder.
Worst: Of Pigs and Lipstick
Ever since Michigan beat PSU and then started winning consecutive games for the first time this season (sigh), there was a growing contingent of Michigan fans who started to argue that if Brady Hoke finished the season “strong” (typically with a win at OSU, though a close loss in the same vein as last year might suffice), culminating in a bowl win on or before Christmas, his services should be retained as head coach for next year.
The reasoning seemed to be three-fold: (1) there was no promise that Michigan would snag a top-flight replacement for Hoke (especially if a Harbaugh wasn’t in play), so why perform a lateral move (2) knowing very little about Hackett and Schlissel except that the former is a “Brandon guy” and the latter isn’t much for sports, did it make sense to entrust them with such a major decision on a compressed timeframe, and (3) 7/8 wins (including an upset of a major rival) were seen as some progress by the team and the staff, especially given the dearth of seniors on the team, and recruiting might pick up again with some certainty about the staff returning. I might be missing some other tertiary arguments, but the gist seemed to be that unless Michigan could get a slam-dunk replacement, it didn’t make sense to go through another rebuilding with an imperfect selection.
But the core of this argument was premised on the idea that Michigan would be showing meaningful improvement, and that’s the rub with this recent upswing: the team has played, and the staff has coached, just as shoddily as it had during the losses, only that the opposition somehow found ways to play even worse. Earlier this year, Devin Funchess said that wins and losses are just a “statistic”, in a way restating the maxim that if you perform consistently and steadily improve, the wins will follow in the long term, even if in the short term you might lose a game or two due to the vagaries of life and the sport. Well, the thing is that telling the difference between “bad luck” and “poor coaching” may be somewhat subjective, but if you keep having to divine the difference that is probably telling you something about the team.
Yes, there have been meager signs (mostly on defense, but also with the offensive line) that this program was playing better, especially given the fact that Indiana has since nearly upset PSU and held tough against OSU on the road, while Northwestern upset Notre Dame and then demolished Purdue to, improbably, set up for next week’s intra-state battle with the Illini as a battle of two teams playing for their bowl-game lives. They weren’t dominating wins, but if you squinted you could see something faintly resembling progress and improvement, and maybe with a new QB and some healthy running backs next year Michigan might be on its way “back”.
But all along, this team kept displaying the same numerous flaws that absolutely, positively shouldn’t be happening 50 games into a coach’s tenure. The offense remains painfully predictable, to the point that pointing this out is equally reflexive. The defense, while certainly the stronger unit during Hoke’s tenure, continues to play at a B+ level, seemingly never figuring out how to handle anything approaching tempo or a mobile QB. Barring a Biakabutuka-esque performance against OSU, Michigan won’t have a running back break 600 yards total on the season, and for the second year in a row won’t have one even sniff 1,000 yards total. Hell, Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman are going to significantly outrush this team as a whole, and that’s after dropping 292 yards rushing on Maryland in this game. Devin Gardner went from pre-season All Big-10-ish player to a guy who’ll probably not throw for 10 TDs on the season, and one of the best runs of the year was a 52-yard run by a FB on a fake punt. Timeouts continue to be called or saved without any regard for reality, and the team long ago ran out of feet to shoot with dumb penalties, incorrect number of players on the field, and turnovers. Oh my gawd the turnovers, King.
This game had all of those failings on display live and in technicolor, so even if Michigan had somehow pulled off the win and gotten bowl eligible, there’s nothing resembling real, sustainable progress by this staff and how that has translated to the team. A couple of ugly wins and the renewed potential for the team to scratch out bowl eligibility might have spackled over these cracks slightly, but this program remains a fundamentally flawed organization with a staff that seems unable to implement an holistic philosophy, or really any set of standards, necessary to win consistently. That 11-2 season always felt like an aberration, but even moreso after watching this program devolve for the past 3 seasons. It’s been an ugly downfall, and with this loss I have to think the end is near.
Best: Keeping ‘Em Clean
Another week, another strong performance by the offensive line. As noted above, Michigan put up 292 yards against Maryland on only 45 caries, which works out to a nice 6.5 ypc. Of course, 52 of those yards came on Kerridge’s run in the first quarter, but even excising that you are still looking at 5.5 ypc. Furthermore, TFLs were held to a minimum (6 total), with only 2 sacks allowed and Gardner seemingly being given ample running lanes to escape the pocket if necessary. Gardner had his best game this season by far running the ball, averaging nearly 6 yards a carry and breaking out a couple of nice stutter-steps on Michigan’s lone TD drive. Pass blocking held up, and though Gardner’s numbers were, again, pretty abysmal, they were not due to excessive pressure or a shrinking pocket. So that’s nice, I guess.
The line is far from perfect, but it has displayed the type of gradual improvement you expect from young players getting accustomed to each other. It lacks the certifiable NFL-quality stars we saw last year with Lewan and Schofield, but everyone should be back next year and there is solid depth behind them, so the next coaching staff will have more pieces to work with than Hoke had when he took over.
What is a bit sad is that had Gardner had this level of protection last year, I’m not sure the broken shell of a man we’ve seen this year exists. He’d still make some bad decisions, but you can see him flinch and lose focus when the pocket even gets compressed slightly, and that seemingly is due in part to being under constant duress last year behind whatever that was in front of him in 2013. Al Borges seemingly did him few favors these past couple of years in terms of coaching and development, but as we’ve seen this year at Penn State, any QB working under the constant threat of helmetical annihilation is going to play poorly. It also gives me small hope that next year, Morris and the cadre of running backs will perform reasonably well when not matched up against the MSU’s of the world.
Best: Going Out With a Bang
If this was Brady Hoke’s last home game as a Michigan head coach, he at least pulled out all the stops in trying to win it. The fake punt was a great call, particularly given the fact Michigan was going for it on the previous 4th-and-1 before Smith’s false-start penalty drove them back 5 yards. This being 2014 and Michigan being what they are, they settled for a FG attempt that was then blocked but ricocheted in, but at least it was an early attempt to “manufacture” points in a game that turned out to be a slog.
I also thought Michigan’s decision to go for it on the two other 4th-down plays were the right calls, particularly the 4th-and-6 in the third quarter that might have warranted a penalty call. And I suspect that had Michigan not given up an 11-yard sack on 3rd down from Maryland’s 5 yard line, they probably would have gone for the TD at that juncture as well. At his best, Brady Hoke has always been a bit of a gambler, though he’s seemingly been less so this season. Though it didn’t turn out to matter, it was at least refreshing to see him go back to those ways in this game.
Worst: Not Every Atomic Dog Has His Day
All season it felt like Dennis Norfleet was one block, one crease away from taking a punt back for a score. So there Michigan was, having recently taken the lead on Gardner’s nifty rushing TD and forced Maryland to punt. The ball seemingly bounced harmlessly in front of Norfleet, and he seemed content to let the Terrapins down it. Then, with a little shimmy, he picked the ball up on the bounce, jetted past a couple of flat-footed defenders, and shot past the punter for a TD and some much-needed breathing room. It would be the play that broke Maryland’s back and help secure Michigan’s win.
But of course, that isn’t the fairy-tale ending to this game because this is 2014 and Michigan football has apparently done a Freaky Friday-style switch with mid-2000 MSU. No, instead Michigan gets called for a dubious block-in-the-back penalty (seriously, it was basically a one-handed semi-shove on a guy barely on the screen), and gets booted off the field on 4th down. Maryland then ties the game on the next drive and goes on to win.
Norfleet will be a senior next year and (hopefully) will have a moment to shine, but this reversal was backbreaking in more ways than one.
Worst: When There Isn’t Anything Else to Say
Man, I want to have a fresh take on Devin Gardner, but I’m not sure there is one anymore. He barely threw for 100 yards, completed a shade over 50% of his throws, threw a tipped INT, and either threw just ahead/behind his receivers a half-dozen times or hit them right in the numbers just to see the ball get dropped. It was a sad Senior Day but also a bit fitting given the year he’s had thus far. It just stuns me that this Devin Gardner’s first home game as a starter was highlighted by this sequence:
And his final game in Ann Arbor didn't feature a completion longer than 23 yards, which practically qualifies as airing it out in this offense. Let’s just move on.
Worst: Catch the Damn Ball
What started off as basically Iowa last year has become a bit of an epidemic, especially recently with Devin Funchess. There were absolutely a couple of balls that were too far ahead/behind him to be considered catchable, but for the umpteenth game this year Funchess dropped a couple of very catchable balls that could have extended drives or bailed out his QB. I won’t recount every instance because, well, I still have a shred of humanity I’m trying to hold onto and I’m not inclined to rag on college kids too much, but suffice it to say that there were balls a purported first-rounder should have caught, and coupled with the anemic play-calling (we need to stop expecting the coaches to try to exploit any size advantages they may have with Funchess because if they aren’t going to throw a f*cking jump ball over a 5’ 7” guy, it ain’t going to happen ever), it’s been the opposite of the breakout year people expected.
The rest of the WRs continue to be uninspiring, with Canteen dropping a TD and nobody getting separation against one of the many “meh” secondaries in the conference. I’m sure there will be improvement next year, but you got me stumped from where given what we’ve seen this year.
I wish I could divine something greater here, but it was another okay performance that started off great but then faltered as the game progressed. Michigan largely held Maryland in check in the first half, with a trio of FGs to show for their efforts, including one a short field following Gardner’s INT. But in the second half, C. J. Brown just kept running the ball and Michigan consistently gave up the edge, and when Michigan tried to compensate he found receivers wide open for first downs. Michigan seemed to have no counter to the most predictable playcalls in the world, and yet they were a questionable spot on a 3rd down and a busted coverage by Raymon Taylor away from keeping the game tied at the end.
Bolden and Ryan were everywhere, and even without Clark in the lineup Michigan was able to get some pressure on Brown and slow down the running game for long stretches of the first half. Maryland didn’t try to throw the ball much until late in the game, but Lewis seemed to be in decent coverage most of the night and Taylor had that one bust on a fake WR screen but nothing else that felt egregious. Lewis’s big snafu was the running-into-the-kicker penalty that led to Maryland’s game-tying TD. Now, I’m not sure if the coaches told Lewis to go for the block or he called that on his own, but the risk-reward for blocking a chip-shot FG attempt by one of the best kickers in the country seemed pretty high against, and it turned as 4-point Michigan lead into a tied game. But given all of the bad decisions this year, it’s hard for me to drag up much more bile.
It’s a solid unit with inconsistent performances, coached by knowledgeable guys who seem unable to deal with a mobile QB or anyone who doesn’t respect the sanctity of the play clock. Again, the next staff will find a lot of talent in the cupboard; hopefully they’ll get more out of it.
Worst: Rivalry Week
Being a Michigan fan means I’ll be rooting for them to beat OSU, but as a human being who watches football, I don’t really see a way this isn’t doesn’t get ugly. OSU isn’t a great team, and I think they’re much closer to the squad that struggled against PSU, Minny, and IU in recent weeks than the one that obliterated MSU a couple of weeks ago. But they absolutely have the type of offense that can carve up Michigan, and no performance this year gives me any hope that Gardner and co. will be able to recreate last year’s fireworks. It’ll be close for a bit because it’s a rivalry game, but it will be a miracle if Michigan can escape Columbus with a win.
I will say, and not that the team should or would care, but I kinda hope the seemingly-annual pre-game fight at midfield doesn’t happen this year. The last team this 5-6 squad needs is a meaningless “tough guy” stomping on the midfield logo or whatever usually sets this stuff off. I’m sure it will happen, but when you’ve only beaten OSU 3 times since Y2K, it might be time to try something new.