the season has truly begun now
2012 michigan state
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative on—RECORD SCRATCH
By Ken “Sky” Walker
It’s Michigan – Michigan State this week. Time to dust off some of my favorites….
A MSU fan asks a U of M fan, “Doesn’t it suck not having a mascot?
The Michigan man replies “It’s better than having one that wears a dress.”
What do you have when you find 100 Spartan football fans covered up to the neck in sand?
Not enough sand
A Spartan wide receiver, linebacker, and defensive back are together in a car. Who’s driving?
The state trooper
What do you call a former MSU student-athlete who gets into U of M’s School of Medicine?
What did the MSU Spartan fan do when his team won the BCS championship?
Turn off his PlayStation 3
A teacher in East Lansing asks her middle school class how many of them are Spartan fans? The children, wanting to be like their teacher, all raise their hands except for one. The teacher asks him why he decided to be different.
“Because I’m not a Spartan fan” the boy replies. The teacher asks “Then what are you?” “I’m a proud Wolverine fan,” boasts the boy. Perturbed, the teacher asks the boy why he is a Wolverine fan. “Because my mom and dad are Wolverine fans, so I’m one too.” The teacher is now quite irritated. “That’s not a good reason.” “What if your mom and dad were morons, what would you be then?”
The boy pauses, then smiles. “Well….then I’d be a Spartan fan!”
We Wolverine fans have long had “Oh how I hate Ohio State!” as our mantra. In my mind, the Spartans have become public enemy No. 1. Coach Mark Dantonio and his band of thugs have been running roughshod across the conference, unchecked. It’s time to lay down the law and restore the proper order to the Big Ten. Go Blue!
Michigan 27, MSU 13
By Nick RoUMel
What is remarkable about the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry is that two of MSU’s upset victories were the result of documented cheating. Cornerback Eddie Brown has all but admitted that in 1990, he purposely tripped Desmond Howard in the end zone, on a two point conversion attempt that would have won the game. In 2001, “Spartan Bob’s” stopped the clock too early to give MSU one more attempt at a game winning touchdown – a gambit so blatantly dirty that it resulted in an NCAA rule change.
Spartan fans to this day remain unapologetic. As for 1990, they say “even if they’d called interference, there’s no guarantee Michigan would have won.” And in 2001, they simply shrug and say that if Michigan were so good, we should have stopped them again, in the 61st minute.
To be a Spartan fan is to be unrepentant and relentless. If they won, they deserved it. If they won cheating? So what, these things happen. If they lost, they got robbed. Mike Hart’s famous “Little Brother” comment was right on. The Spartans are the quintessential obnoxious little brother, who will neither shut up nor go away, but will hang around their big brother and his friends just for the opportunity to badmouth big brother to his friends.
Stupidly, I once went through a brief period when I thought I should be classy towards opponents. After all, I reasoned, in my Pollyanna-ish delirium, we are all Big Ten brethren. Why, Michigan State is right up the road, and many very nice people – my wife included – graduated from there. I rooted for Michigan State when they played other teams not named Michigan. I was diplomatic. I was complimentary.
But I felt …. dirty. I felt ashamed and hypocritical, re-examined my priorities, and soon went back to guilt-free hating. In that brief period of facile brotherly love, I learned a painful lesson. When you turn the other cheek to your enemies, they slap it just as hard as the first one.
I like Punt’s attitude – never miss an opportunity to make fun of Sparty. But he missed a couple, such as:
“Did you hear MSU’s library burned down? It was a total loss. Both books were destroyed, and one hadn’t even been colored in yet.”
And: “Wolverine fan goes into a bar. He sees a big guy wearing an MSU letter jacket and says ‘I want to tell you a Spartan joke.’ The MSU guy says, ‘Hold on. I’m 6’ tall, 180’ lbs; my one buddy here is even bigger, and our other friend is 6’6”, 300 lbs., and used to play offensive line for the Spartans. Are you sure you want to tell it?’
“The Michigan fan pauses and says, no … The Spartans relax, thinking they’ve intimidated the Wolverine. But the M-Fan explains, ‘Because I don’t want to have to explain it three times.’”
Here’s the biggest joke of all. Michigan State thinks they can win. The Spartans will come into the Big House thinking they can take a 5th consecutive rivalry game. They will grab, cheat, and steal - anything they can do to make up for their deficiencies in talent. But it won’t happen today. Sorry Sparty, your streak ends here. Here’s one game where Punt and I see the same result: a Michigan victory. The only problem is Punt didn’t go far enough. This one isn’t even going to be close:
MICHIGAN 38, MICHIGAN STATE 0
Not the Onion. News headline:
MSU challenges officials to take control of game vs. Michigan
Are you man enough to call another 100 yards in personal fouls on Michigan State, refs?
Also, Tyler Hoover is supposed to return to the lineup at DT. Not sure how much impact that will have.
Also not the Onion. This is where the rivalry is at the moment:
Michigan prepping for a 'figurative fist fight' in physical tilt vs. Michigan State
More like LITERAL KNIFE FIGHT AMIRITE.
Also also not the Onion. We have a formidable secondary?
Michigan's formidable secondary 'looking to get after it' against MSU
I'm going to go away and hope this is true forever.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THINGS ARE CAUSED. Winner?
Former Michigan star Mike Hart's infamous comment sparked Michigan State's resurgence in series
Worst article is easy. Matt Charboneau's flufftastic puff piece on Gholston, which does the same thing all attempts to defend Gholston do: focus on the meaningless punch that brought a suspension while ignoring the Denard helmet twist and the Lewan arm bar. No one cares about hitting a guy in a helmet with your fist in the heat of whatever. It's unfortunate that the Big Ten focused on that instead of the truly dirty stuff.
He's just misunderstood, you see, and he has kid, so he must be an awesome dude. They don't just hand out kids to anyone. You have to be licensed.
Maybe he just went crazy that one time but if you're going to write an article about it at least have the honesty to detail the things that happened.
Uniformz? A photo of a chrome-tastic MSU helmet is floating around the internets and the rumor is they will be deployed Saturday:
Hopefully Michigan doesn't respond in kind as they did last year, if this is actually a thing that is being worn. I worry that someone somewhere is saying "we have to bridge the chrome gap!" and not being shot.
MSU scouting bits. Highly recommended are Ross Fulton's breakdowns of what Ohio State did against MSU. The MSU defense:
MICHIGAN STATE: LOADED FOR BEAR
As expected, Michigan State adopted an aggressive style that focused upon attacking Ohio State's inside zone read. Michigan State generally operated from their 40 over defense with their Will linebacker walked over the slot receiver.
The Spartan Will linebacker's role was not to cover the slot receiver, however. Instead, he was tasked with accounting for Braxton Miller on the zone read, allowing the defensive end to crash the zone play. In essence, the Spartans ran a constant scrape exchange.
In response, OSU shot their H-back outside the defensive end and hit the edge or used him to block the crashing DE and read the slot-oriented LB, or they used outside runs that used the aggression of that DE to open up the corner. Expect Michigan's inside zone to be a maintenance play that picks up a few yards, allowing other runs to bust for larger gains.
Tremendous also has a breakdown, one that focuses on the defensive tackles—who are not good, thus the Kittredge switch this week. Included are many amazing displays of Spartan DTs put on skates by the OSU OL. I'm with Mr. Larson: block Gholston, option someone else, screw rollouts, especially naked ones.
Fulton's item on the MSU offense vs the OSU defense is a little less relevant because Michigan is mostly a one-high cover three defense and OSU is transitioning to cover four. Hankins did clobberate the MSU run game as a three tech—Will Campbell pad level versus bad guard play come on down?
BONUS: Fulton breaks down what the hell happened to OSU's defense against Indiana.
OH BOY. Hopefully this is Brandon not ruling out anything when someone brings up the idea of a neutral site game in a Q&A and not actually wanting to continue college football's worst trend:
But he did say Wednesday that he remains open to all possibilities for the newly-created void on the Wolverines' schedule beginning in 2015.
Whether it's a home-and-home with a big-name opponent, or another possible neutral site game, similar to this year's Cowboys Classic against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.
"We're looking at both," Brandon said. "The key thing for us is to try and make sure we're playing in a venue that gives our fans access, and economically, provides us the best opportunity that justifies going on the road.
"We put 110 or 112,000 people every game in our venue, it's hard to go play in front of 35,000 people."
Ugh, ugh, ugh. A neutral site game gives fans less access than a home and home because it's a game in the middle of nowhere in a smaller stadium. No more neutral site games—we renovated the stadium for a reason, I assume, and not "so Slippery Rock can play there."
This isn't that hard: see MSU and OSU, currently loading up with quality nonconference home and homes not against opponents with 35k seat stadiums… because those don't exist in BCS conferences. Brandon must wake up at night tossing and turning at the agony of having to go to UConn next year. We get it. We also don't care. No more neutral sites.
Oh, man. Don't listen to them, Dylan Larkin.
While perusing my Twitter feed, I came across this tweet from U.S. NTDP Under-18 Team goalie Thatcher Demko and reply by Michigan commit Evan Allen:
“@thatcher_hockey: Larkin is Screetch” hahahha omg he IS screetch
via Michigan Hockey Net
Kids in high school still know who Screech is?
Mac Bennett stepping up. If Michigan can ever ice their full-strength defensive corps it will be a thing to behold($):
"Our guys liked his poise out there, his ability to handle and move the puck," said Trevor Timmins, Montreal's Director of Amateur Scouting. "He's a gifted skater. That's the one thing that he can rely on to get him to the NHL. He's not a big guy so he's had to add some size and strength, but he's in a great situation at Michigan, with some outstanding coaching, and we're seeing that development there.
"Similarly to Greg Pateryn last season, this season Mac is being leaned on to log a lot of ice time, and to play in all situations - be a leader on the team - and that provides Mac with greater confidence in his ability."
Wojo zings. Wojo zings:
This annual clash has turned into a nasty affair, which can happen when brothers scrap and egos fray. It wouldn't be this way if the Spartans had quietly gone about their business, winning two or three times a decade. But then Mark Dantonio showed up with his deep playbook of scowls, much deeper than his offense's playbook, and started ticking people off.
The Wolverines don't appreciate the Spartans' audacity to physically manhandle them. And the Spartans don't appreciate the Wolverines' continuing attempt to pretend their Ohio-based rival is more important.
Common Michigan State plea: "Heeyyyy, we're right heeeeere! Try to beat us! At least look at us!"
Penn State's "fourth down bravery" may have something to do with the fact they have the worst punting and kicking in the country. The Bylaw Blog advocates athletics majors. The new NHL CBA might be better for college programs than the old one. Still waiting on the massive imbalance in AHL eligibility to get sorted out. Genuinely Sarcastic back from the grave. DIAMOND STONE is visiting this weekend. He's a five-star 2015 basketball post.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Michigan Staee|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||3:30 PM EST
October 20th, 2012
|THE LINE||M –9.5|
|WEATHER||mid-40s, showers early, mostly cloudy but likely dry late|
Run Offense vs Staee
I am unfamiliar with this concept
Here is the game. Michigan State has done an exceptional job of shutting down Michigan's rush offense the past few years, and in retrospect from there things have been academic. Winning this battle means winning the game for Michigan; losing it wipes out a double-digit (but steadily eroding) Vegas advantage and puts things in the tossup category.
So this is MGoBlog and you know the next words that are coming out of the mouth are about the snap count. You are right: JESUS H. KELLY, DON'T LET THEM JUMP THE SNAP. Whether it was super extra preparation or David Molk being an awful poker player or a transition cost born of the coaching switch arriving between Jerel Worthy, sophomore, and Jerel Worthy, junior, I do not know. Nor do I care. Michigan abso-goddamn-lutely has to reduce Michigan State snap-jump advantage levels to those of normal humans. For a lot of reasons, the rest of this preview assumes this—reasons like Elliott Mealer promising things are fixed…
"They did a good job at timing that up and keying us," Mealer said. "We got that under control. It was more a recognition thing -- being able to recognize the defense before you snap the ball -- and it's something that we've been doing ever since that game. I'm not too worried about that."
…—but we will come back to the thing in at the end because obviously.
Setting snap jumping and other MSU over-preparations aside, this is still going to be a slog. I may talk epic crap about Will Gholston but that's only in context: when he's the fourth or fifth best player on your defense—as he is—you're doing pretty all right. Max Bullough is probably the best inside linebacker in the conference; Marcus Rush is a playmaker at DE; Isaiah Lewis will come down and pop you; Denicos Allen is a menace blitzing.
But MSU does miss Worthy on the interior…
NT Anthony Rashad White doesn't get quite the same level of penetration as Worthy, but he's tough to move at 330 pounds and holds the point of attack well enough to allow the linebackers to come in and clean up. If single-blocked, he's a threat to find his way into the backfield for a TFL. Three-tech James Kittredge made a couple nice plays in the backfield, as well, though at 272 lbs. he also got pushed out of the hole on a few occasions.
… and the numbers seem to show it:
Braxton Miller neared six yards a carry against the Spartans with a long of 20—they can be had by a mobile quarterback. Iowa's numbers have to be taken in the context of last weekend's Michigan weather, as well. Four yards a carry is good defense in a sack-adjusted world; maybe less so in context.
Kittredge has just been inserted into the starting lineup, which is not a good sign for MSU this deep into the season, especially when we're talking about a converted OL listed at 272 who transferred from Vandy. Michigan should be able to get push here. When they're running inside, Gholston will not be a problem, and then it's mano-a-mano with second level guys against linebackers. This will be a test for Rawls and Kerridge, as their ability to blast Bullough out of the hole will go a long way towards determining how well Denard isos will work, and how much they can punish MSU over the top once they try to defend them.
As for the Wolverines, they've been pounding away since the interception explosion from the first half of the ND game. Borges has re-added RR's QB iso to the playbook, albeit with a twist, and it has created several long Denard runs the past few games. The veer and the regular old zone read are also a part of the playbook along with a frequently-deployed power sweep; the infamous double A gap blitz is in serious trouble against half of those plays.
Toussaint's had his struggles; Denard has not; Rawls will continue to siphon carries away as long as he's busting guys in the chops and getting YAC. If Michigan State can stop it again, well… they can stop it. Michigan still needs to be who they are.
BONUS BONUS BONUS PROTIPS FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO SHED SCARE QUOTES "DIRTY" REPUTATION:
- Don't try to rip an opponent's head off when they're defenseless on the ground in a pile of players
- Don't try to rip an opponent's arm out of its socket
It is in these ways you can not be regarded as a menace to society.
Key Matchup: Michigan's interior OL versus the State DTs. This has been a massive win for State the last three years; if that continues it's going to be a long day for the offense. Michigan has to get movement on Kittredge and seal off White, and from there things will flow in the rush offense.
[Hit THE JUMP for ROUSHAR LOL MORE LIKE ISHTAR]
This is the kind of post Diarist of the Week was invented for: Ladies and gentlerines, I give you MSU's latest Narduzzi defense, as broken down by colin. If you missed it on the front page yesterday and when Ace linked to it, now is your chance.
The defense he describes is a version of the thing we faced from Ohio State and Virginia Tech last year, a run-sound Cover-4 scheme that is built to beat north-south spread offenses and 4 verts, and weakest against great edge rushers and outside receivers who will always win a 1-on-1 matchup. Short version: Michigan can move the ball by running over an overhyped Gholston, optioning off Marcus Rush, getting a hat on the playside linebacker, and Denard getting by Isaiah Lewis. It's a good defense.
It's also a good institution of higher learning, with a fantastic teaching school, one of the nation's best ag schools, and a packaging program that is not the joke you think that is. In this vein of non-sarcastic appreciation for our worthy in-state rival, turd ferguson offers this panegyric to their football program's unparalleled off-the-field accomplishments since Dantonio arrived:
Spartans are known to generously extend a hand to those in need. They’ve developed a prison-to-work program seen by many as a model for how to reduce to an absolute minimum the time between prison and work. Their athletic director moonlights as a volunteer career counselor and their football coach as a public speaking coach, offering their time even to supposed athletic rivals. When one of their neighbors could use help just stretching his neck, scratching his eye, massaging his arm, or bludgeoning his face, a Spartan is always there to assist.
Defensive Analysis. If you read just one comprehensive, detailed analysis of Michigan State's defense this week, read colin's. If you read two comprehensive, detailed analyses of Michigan State's defense this week, tune into the more personnel-oriented one by death by trident. Things you may have missed: Darqueze Dennard doesn't show on the stats but is the field and probably the better corner than Adams, and the man Ace called the "best linebacker in the conference" hasn't registered a sack, though he's done everything else. Weird he said that because Ace has Mauti and both Wisconsin guys.
Tea Leaves. Eye of the Tiger checks back in at the midline to see which Star Wars episode this season is turning out to be. So far Michigan has fought its most pivotal battle using Ewoks and a game in South Bend featuring plenty of LANDO! so we're definitely not in Eps IV or V. I submit we use the special editions to specify which games are lost:
- Empire Strikes Back, Special Edition: 12-2, win Rose Bowl. Do you remember the part at the beginning when the Wampa ice creature that haunted your childhood nightmares turned out to be a guy in a white bear suit? No you don't. Because Han is frozen in carbonite and could be anywhere in the galaxy and Luke has begun to consider the dark side, and Threepio hasn't said more than "Help, I think I'm melting" in 15 minutes.
- Return of the Jedi: Beat MSU and OSU, blow up Death Star, celebrate with teddy bears, then lose to Admiral Chip Kelly in a licensed fan fiction called Star Wars: The Pasadena Affair.
- Return of the Jedi, Special Edition: Lose Big Ten Championship to Wisconsin. Would be like defeating the Empire, and then having the ghost of Hayden Christianson show up claiming to be your dad.
- A New Hope, Special Edition: Still the epic you remember, but the beginning is now a disaster ruined by Stormtroopers riding dewbacks and a Jawa falling off a Paraceratherium, and ILM family members wandering around in Halloween costumes. Then there's Han shooting first. Along the way there's a point where Borges decides to use the "Han steps on Jabba" scene, and the result is depressingly worse than it should have been.
Advancystats: FEI says 45 points on Illinois just isn't trying hard enough. The defense had a moderate climb but Michigan dropped badly in offense and overall because those stats are now opponent-adjusted. Enjoy Life has some words for the numbers:
That said, WTF!!!
After a 45-0 drubbing of an admittedly weak Illinois team, FEI blasted the overall rating to #47 (from #24 last week) and pummeled the offense efficiency to #63 (from #40 last week). Defense efficiency improved to #27 (from #33 last week).
A Box Score's Gooey Insides: The carnage isn't as gruesome when reduced to statistics, but I still wouldn't recommend letting children under the age of 11 see the Illini's final passing totals.
Etc. Chris of Unborked Logic has brought back Moving Picture Pages. Whoever the mystery person is who gave their idea for this week's Blockhams should have had the socks turn out to be kind of sticky, and then show Denard losing his shoes right and left on TV.
[After LE JUMP, MGoHalloween costumes, free indoor club seats to two lucky readers, and tinfoil Sparty hats are for realz!]
About Last Weekend:
Illinois 0, Michigan 45
Michigan State (4-3 overall, 1-2 B1G)
Last game: Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 2OT (L)
Recap: That this game went into double overtime should have been an NCAA violation. If not the NCAA, then at least the FCC, because gratuitous ugliness is just as indecent as sex and four-letter words.
Ace has the breakdown in his weekly FFFF. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a visual summary:
Sometimes humor is controversial. Thankfully, dinosaurs are not.
The highlight of the game was the botched call at the end of the first half where half the team is running off the field, then running back on, then the offensive line shuffles (because that’s helpful), and then a guy who isn’t even the quarterback attempts to spike the ball as time expires.
The best part of the sequence is that Iowa’s defense is all like, LOL, and celebrates like they’re not down 10-3 with 20 yards of total offense or anything.
Your Quarterback Throws Like Denard*: Andrew Maxwell -- 12/31, 179 yards, 5.8 ypa, 1 INT.
BONUS Your Quarterback Throws Worse Than The Quarterback Who Throws Like Denard: James Vandenberg -- 19/36, 134 yards, 3.7 ypa, 1 INT.
This team is as frightening as: A large rock.
Fear level = 5.
Michigan should worry about: Right now, with Michigan State’s playcalling as imaginative as a law school textbook and with how well Michigan is playing on defense, it’s hard to see the Spartans moving the ball much at all. Although Le’Veon Bell will probably convert a couple short third downs here and there and Maxwell will maybe complete a bomb or two to Keith Mumphery or Aaron Burbridge, the maddening 80-yard, 13-play drives probably won’t happen.
The Wolverines defense has been so good despite not having super duper talent is partially due to their preparation. Like any smart coordinator, Greg Mattison coaches to tendencies. The problem with rivalry games is teams often break tendency (see 2011 Ohio State), especially if what they’ve been doing previously hasn’t been working (see 2011 Ohio State).
I wouldn’t be shocked if Michigan State comes out pretending to be Northwestern. If they're smart about it, they should.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Northwestern scored 21 points against Minnesota by pretending to be Michigan State.
When they play Michigan: If I were Michigan State, this is what I would do (on offense, because defensively they’ll be just fine):
- Stop sucking.
- Use a lot of four-wide, one-back sets and throw screens and quick passes. Pass on first down when Michigan is keying on the run. If anything, this mitigates Michigan State’s offensive line problems. “But Michigan defended the dink and dunk offense so well against Purdue!” That’s because Purdue never had a run game to threaten the middle of the defense. The Spartans, on the other hand, have …
- Le’Veon Bell. Get him going with counters and halfback draws. Illinois early success running against Michigan appeared to result from their offensive line screwing with the Wolverines’ keys. One of their biggest gainers on the ground was a halfback draw when the offensive line showed pass and fooled the linebackers into dropping into coverage.
- Throw deep to Burbridge when he’s one-on-one with Raymon Taylor. I fear this will be a frustrating matchup for Michigan.
- Quarterback draw with Andrew Maxwell. It would be the most epic trolling of all time.
Next game: @ No. 24 Big Brother
*There was an MSU College Gameday sign a couple weeks ago that read: “Braxton Throws Like Denard.” This was supposed to be some sort of insult.