First, let me say that I really appreciate Devin Gardner and all that he does for Michigan football and the community. He seems like a great, hard-working guy. On the field he gives his all and has almost single-handidly carried Michigan in big games (ND 2013, OSU 2013, etc)
This year his on-the-field performance has been bad. It is even more alarming when you see that he is a fifth-year senior with lots of starting experience. In fact, I think he is having the single worst season for any returning starter senior QB in Michigan history.
So, what gives?
I notice he isn't running the ball nearly as much as last year. There seem to be almost no designed runs and he is carrying the ball HALF as much as last year. In his previous years he ran nearly as much as he threw (around 75% or higher). Now it is half as much as he throws and bothe sets of numbers are down.
It could be injury, design or both casuing the change, but could this be the main reason for his PASSING struggles? Does he need to keep defenses honest with his feet (ala Denard)?
Does he need the threat of his legs to open up the passing game? You would think that focusing on passing more would make him better. It hasn't.
The offensive line pass blocking and run game seem to have improved a bit from last year. A similar move up by Gardner would have resulted in a "mediocre" offense and a more satisfying season.
BUT, his passing performance seems to have gotten much worse the less he is asked to carry the ball.
Should we blame it on Dave Brandon?
I personally love noon games (especially against teams from the central time zone, or west). I do wonder if Dave Brandon had any influence in this (likely if he desired to leverage game start times he could have).
Under Brady Hoke, we are 11-3 in games starting at noon. In 2011 both our losses came during games starting at 3:30 or later, and we tallied 6 wins. In 2012 we did not lose a noon kick-off, going 3-0. In 2013, the lone outlier during the Hoke era, we went 1-2, with one loss @Iowa (ugh, that game) and against OSU the next week. This year we are 1-0 at noon (AppState).
I skipped over the RR years to look back into the later half of the Carr era. In 2007, the Horror, @WIS, and OSU all started at noon. In 2006 we were undefeated in games that started at or before 12:30. In the six years before that, we only lost 4 times in, well, I'm sure I could go on.
I understand the reasons behind late games (the added dollars spent in the community are hard to argue with), but it seems we should be playing earlier more often.
I am going to remain unfashionable around here and talk about actual football. I am seeing a lot of angst about this Maryland game - maybe due to the 6-3 record I suppose. Yes we are mediocre as all hell, but taking a closer look at Maryland so are they. Looking at their advanced stats they are basically Rutgers level with a slightly better defense. And we get it at home.
I was curious how their QB (CJ Brown) stacks up so I did a run down of the QBs we have played in Big 10 + Golson, and threw in Tommy Armstrong. Indiana had a pylon out there so didn't bother. CJ Brown is not a good QB. In the words of Lloyd Bentsen "I knew Gary Nova, Gary Nova was a friend of mine. Brown, you're no Gary Nova."
While difficult to believe, Gary Nova is most likely the 3rd best QB in the Big 10. As shockingly, one can make a case Hackenberg is among the worst. Here they are sorted by adjusted QBR.
Brown is a less accurate version of Siemian - who torched Ray Taylor but still. The only QB who threw for less yards per attempt is Siemian. Brown's 54% completion rate is only better than Mitch Leidner and Tommy Armstrong. (by a whole %) And those guys at least attempt to throw the ball farther (nearly 2 yards per attempt). He gets sacked a boatload of times. So it's a guy who throws a lot of short passes, in an inaccurate fashion while getting hit all day. This is not a guy who is going to throw over our safeties like Nova could.
Speaking of Leidner, Minnesota at least has Cobb, a very good RB. Maryland's leading rusher? CJ Brown and his 380 yards. About 100 more than Leidner. (Cobb has 1200 for perspective) So Brown is the whole show; their leading RB has about 50 more yards than Drake Johnson on the year.
Further, of Brown's 1477 paltry yards, Stefon Diggs and his nearly 700 looks like will be sidelined. And an angry MSU is going to Maryland this weekend to tenderize them for us.
3 wins in a row baby? If our salty offense can chuck up 17-20 pts it sure looks possible. Doesn't mean much in the big picture but no reason to be fearful of these Terps.
Tangent: look at poor Hackenberg. His stats (aside from yardage) all trail Devin. That's what 35 sacks and countless pressures will do to you. Will be interesting to see if he recovers mentally in 2015.
Anyone know about this?
It's from Don Canham's book From the Inside...
People have come to expect 100,000-plus crowds for every Michigan home football game, and the NCAA record is 106,867 for a game against Ohio State in 1993. But, unofficially, more than 110,000 spectators packed Michigan Stadium for a game against Purdueduring the heyday of Schembechler's teams. How's that? It's another funny story, although it wasn't particularly so at the time and there's no way we can take credit for that "record" turnout.
It was a situation brought about by a miscalculation concerning which game was going to be free-admission Boy Scout Day. Prior to sellout years we had 10,000 to 20,000 empty seats in the stadium and we'd pick a day to give free tickets to various scouting groups. Historically, Northwestern had the smallest draw, but two years earlier, Purdue had been the opponent on Boy Scout Day. With that in mind, they had printed the complimentary tickets for the Purdue, not the Northwestern, game.
By this time Schembechler's teams were in the habit of having outstanding seasons and the crowds were growing, with some sellouts. Purdue had a new coach, it was Jim Young, former member of Bo's staff. The Boilermakers were becoming a formidable rival. On game day it was bright and sunny and as I pulled up to the stadium I saw long lines of people trying to buy tickets. We had a tremendous gate sale, maybe the best ever.
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were pouring into the stadium. I didn't think much about it until I got to the press box and looked down. The scouts had arrived early with their sandwiches and Coke and apples, and they were seated in the seats we'd sold to paying customers. Some of the Boy Scouts wouldn't move and as I walked in one guy, who must have had a few belts, yelled out at me, "Canham, get these little bastards out of our seats!' Some others had a few choice words for me and my promotions. Immediately I realized what had happened and went off to find Bob Flora, who was in charge of building and grounds. I found him in Gate 2 and said, "Bob, get some people and take these Boy Scouts and spread them out through the stadium or seat them in the aisles. Just be creative."
It eventually worked out beautifully. Most people moved over to make room and some of the Cub Scouts sat on people's laps. They can look back now and say they attended the football game with the largest crowd in the history of the pro or college football. Of course, if the fire marshal had walked in he would have closed us down. We were so oversold it was comical.
EDIT: better look
Wisconsin and Nebraska announced the creation of a "rivalry" trophy today.
I had to look at this for a moment to realize what it was. Pretty dumb, trophies for these manufactured rivalries are.
Here were 20 rejected names for this trophy (/s)
- The Freedom Cup
- The Freedom Treasure
- The Freedom Door Prize
- The Freedom's Just Another Word for 'Nothing Left to Lose' Trophy
- Jim Delany's Hot 'N Zesty Freedom BBQ Sauce
- The Freedom '90 (I Won't Let You Down) Cup
- Frito-Lay Bag O' Freedom Fun Twists (King Size)
- Free Wi-fi
- Several Cans of Dr. Pepper
- The Justice Trophy
- The Liberty Trophy
- The Statue of Liberty
- Marcus Liberty
- Bucket of Corn Meal
- The Big Ten West Division Participation Medal
- The Easiest Hardest Divisional Game in College Football Championship Banner
- This Shovel
- The Don't Worry the Loser Still Gets to Play Iowa Cup
- [The Freedom Trophy] (placeholder until an actual name is chosen)
More examples of trophies for manufactured rivalries include the likes of the "Heros Trophy" (Iowa vs Nebraska)
The Governor's Victory Bell (created for PSU-Minnesota, which Minnesota broke last year)
And the ugliest and most WTF-causing creations in the history of trophies: the Land Grant Trophy featuring MSU and PSU