"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
“All right, let me ask [you] a question. Who started writing the article before the game was over?”
[Multiple hands are raised.]
“Yeah. Exactly ... I should have picked you out.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot that we didn’t do well, but we did do well when you win the football game. I thought it was two teams that played hard. I have so much respect for Pat and how he runs his program and how his guys come to work every day and how they come to play. We knew it would be a dog fight. We missed way too many tackles. You’ve got to give Kain Colter some of that respect, because he made us miss him. We have to do a better job there. I think offensively, moving the ball pretty consistently. Still need to rush for more yards from the backfield, which means we still have to continue to improve up front. How we’re blocking the line of scrimmage. We missed a couple cuts, but Devin did a tremendous job really managing everything, staying into the game, extending some things, and then his athleticism obviously helped in some of the first downs -- we were seven of 10. That’s all I have to say.”
Is that the kind of game where you just say you find a way to win and build off that?
“Well, yeah. There was a lot to build from and a lot to learn from. Our seniors play their last game at Michigan Stadium next week. That’s significant and if we want to send them out the right way, we have to play better. That always starts with the coaching side of it. That has to be paramount for us.”
Can you talk about the concentration on Roundtree’s catch and then Demens’s tackles to win the game in overtime?
“Yeah, and Roy really I think on a couple balls had really great focus and great intensity in what he was doing. The last tackle there, I think number one I like the call that Greg made because it was one where we may have talked them into running the football because of some of the space inside. And then Kenny just did a nice job of really working inside out to the ball, where maybe a little earlier we were maybe getting too far ahead of it.”
How much do you believe that your team’s experience in tight games in the past helped today?
“Yeah … I think that’s a great question. I think when you look at them on the sideline and you communicate with them and talk to them, never a doubt that they weren’t going to win the football game in my opinion. I think all that helps. I think experiencing anything in life helps you get through it the next time. I think the same thing [applies] in the game of football.”
What did Devin improve between game 1 and game 2?
“I don’t know if I could do that right now. I think he managed the game well. I thought he had two throws that probably weren’t the best throws. Did a nice job getting rid of the ball in the end zone. He made some good decisions.”
How differently do you run your offense with Devin in there? What strengths do you try to use?
“I think the biggest thing is there’s a little more two-back. There’s a little more vertical run, there’s a little more power play to some degree, lead play, iso … From that standpoint, there’s still the zone read and all those things from the gun, too.”
What were they doing on third down to have so much success, and how did you come up with stops late in the game?
“Yeah. What were they doing? I think they converted and they were a little more accurate in some of their throws on their seven routes -- smash routes. We needed to do a little better job in the seam part of our defense when they were throwing it. And I think he scrambled at times, and either we missed a tackle, which we did a couple times on a scramble, or we didn’t force the ball enough as far as when you talk about your lanes and compressing the pocket from the outside to the inside.”
Resolve of your team?
“These kids have been great. It didn’t surprise me. It really didn’t surprise me that -- there were 18 seconds left when they punted the ball or something like that. Dan Ferrigno did a nice job all week because they would rugby punt if you want to call it that -- it wasn’t a full on rugby -- but lining up Gallon where he lined him up, because that’s where, if you charted a year of punts, that’s where they were going if they rugby punted, and it was perfect. It got us great field position and got us the throw.”
Take us through Devin’s pass to Roundtree. Was that his first read? Second read? What was he looking at?
“Well I really can’t describe it at all for you, but we knew we had to get to a certain point on the field. We knew from the 35, 38 in is where we wanted to kick the field goal, tie it up. And it just so happened that the post part of the route, the combination was where we needed to hit it, and Devin threw it well, and Roy made a football play.”
If Devin somehow could not have continued in the game, would Denard have played?
“Maybe. He was dressed, right?”
What has Roy done to step up?
“I think Roy’s been like that. Roy’s always been focused. Prepares well and gets himself ready for a game.”
Have you seen a change in him the past two weeks?
“No, not really.”
You said you missed a lot of tackles, but from a schematic standpoint, how were you trying to stop Northwestern?
“Well scheme-wise was really good. I thought Greg and the defensive staff -- you’ll go back and look and [say], ‘Maybe I should have run this more,’ or whatever it might be, but I thought scheme-wise, especially some of the things we were doing -- I’m not going to explain them, obviously -- it was very effective. It kind of got them into one formation. When you can get someone into one formation or two formations, then you don’t have all the other problems.”
Just to follow up on Denard --
“Day to day.”
He didn’t do much in warmups.
“Day to day.”
If you were in our shoes, wouldn’t you have started writing the story before the game ended?
“No. Because of those kids. No way. My wife just asked me that on the way in. ‘Did you know you were going to win?’ I said 'yes.'”
They had a lot of success running outside --
“Perimeter of the defense. Need to play better on the perimeter of the defense. Need to get off blocks better.”
Were you surprised they went away from that late?
“No, because I think he got beat up a little bit there for a minute. Siemian’s a very good quarterback, but he’s not the same quarterback. Then when he came back, they went to their bread and butter on the fourth down play. Tried to go option again.”
Talk about how hard Fitz ran and what the offensive line needs to do to help him?
“We have to finish on blocks better combination-wise, to answer the second part first because that one I can remember. I really thought they were getting some movement. Probably not as much as we would like, because it never is, and I did think he ran extremely hard. You could hear football on the field.”
Would you say this win keeps your Big Ten title hopes alive?
“Well. We can’t worry about what other people do. We have to worry about what we do. We got Iowa.”
When Denard is healthy enough to come back, what do you do with the quarterback situation?
“I think that’s something we’ll figure out.”
Faith in Brendan Gibbons to make that kick and the job Drew Dileo did to pick that ball off the ground?
“Well, that combination’s a pretty good combination. You know, they work so much together because we kick every day, but they’re two -- and don’t tell Gibbons I ever said this -- two football players.”
Devin was in a lot of pressure situations. What did you see out of him in terms of commanding the huddle?
“Well he’s realy done a nice job and always has. I thought the way he’s gone about his business, the maturity and the growth has been, I guess, expected.”
A referee makes an arbitrary approximation of the spot of the football as Kain Colter is brought to the turf. A couple of guys dressed like crossing guards then take out an extremely precise ten-yard chain. The referee, staring at the football like it's the bottom line of an eye chart, determines that the play has resulted in a first down by the smallest of possible margins. For all intents and purposes, the game is over, decided by an educated guess made at breakneck speed.
Football is the worst.
The contest continues, however, and Michigan sells out against the run for a stop. For a moment, it looks like Jeremy Gallon could provide a miracle as he briefly breaks free after fielding a line-drive punt, but he's tackled at the 38.
18 seconds remain. No timeouts remain. Little hope remains.
But then the backup quarterback hucks the football to the impossibly-skinny senior receiver, improbably left in single coverage, and this wisp of a man somehow bats the oblong projectile out of the air and controls the ricochet, an absurd feat of concentration and athleticism that brings 110,000 despondent humans screaming to their feet in elation.
Football is the best.
From that point, victory feels strangely academic given the prior proceedings. Brendan Gibbons, Keith Stone cool, splits the uprights from 26 yards out for the tying field goal. Three plays after Devin Gardner finds Roundtree again to give Michigan first-and-goal on the opening overtime possession, he fakes a give to Fitz Toussaint, breaks contain, and lopes into the end zone unimpeded. Northwestern can only get within two yards of that blasted first-down marker on their subsequent series before Kenny Demens stonewalls Tyris Jones in the hole on fourth down.
The stadium erupts, again hopelessly in love with the greatest game known to man. Michigan 38, Northwestern 31, football forever.
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 one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
In days gone by, Northwestern vs. Michigan was akin to David vs. Goliath. But unlike the biblical contest, David always ended up as road kill. Mighty Michigan would score 50 – 70 points easily. Cheerleaders did so many backflips off the stadium wall, they’d be throwing up by the end of the game (the wall was lower then). A good portion of the crowd did so too, having consumed amazing quantities of cheap wine. But nothing beat lugging a quarter barrel tapper up Hoover and being rewarded for your efforts with admission to the stadium. (Yes boys and girls, it’s true!). Ah, those were the days…
More often than not, the Wildcats were the homecoming opponents. Like Christians being served to the lions for the pleasure of all the ‘old blues’. The perennial purple patsy, Northwestern never got – nor deserved - any respect. “Why are they in our league?” and “We need to find a replacement for them!” were frequently-heard utterances. But things changed, as they are bound to do, and the boys from Evanston started getting just a modicum of respect.
Current Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was part of that, playing on a ranked team that beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, a mind blowing occurrence if there ever was one. And then they did it again the next year in Evanston. Any mystique held by Michigan was at an end. I don’t think Michigan football has ever been the same since. There are those that claim the Wildcat victories those years were a result of a former Michigan coach joining the Northwestern staff and giving them all of the Wolverines’ plays. True or not, I can’t fault Northwestern for taking advantage, but I can sure blame Michigan for not anticipating this and tweaking their game plan a bit.
You can bet that the Wildcats aren’t going to be intimidated by playing in the Big House. This team plays in front of home crowds that are routinely outnumbered by the opposing team’s fans (That’s got to hurt). The fact that the Wolverines are only a 9½ point favorite at home, tells you the odds makers aren’t real confident in Michigan’s ability to handle Northwestern with any ease. They’re coming off a bye week, so they’ve had time to prepare for both of Michigan’s likely QB starters. Their own Kain Colter is also a dual-threat and a more accurate passer than either of Michigan’s quarterbacks.
The Wildcats are trying to win back-to-back games in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1934 & '36. They are the ranked team in today’s contest, yet they are the underdog. It seems to be a perfect setup for them to make Michigan’s already underwhelming season, one for the dumpster.
Michigan 20 Northwestern 23
By Nick RoUMel
How do the 24th ranked Wildcats feel about playing Michigan? 1000-yard rusher Venric Mark was quoted on Northwestern’s official website, "I'm excited but I'm not overly excited right now." Which led me to wonder, what does it mean to be overly excited?
Urban Dictionary defines “over excitement” as “being too excited about a minuscule idea, activity or item. Example: “Hey! Look at this new video game I got! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WOW OH MY GOD THAT'S AMAZING. HOLY COW. CAN I TOUCH IT?”
Symptoms of over-excitement, according to www.calmdownmind.com, include being overly talkative, fidgety, and impatient. For a football player, this might involve overrunning a tackle, biting on a fake, or—like Maurice Gholston—attempting to twist Denard Robinson’s head off like a bottle cap.
In Punt’s case, over-excitement is betrayed when he bolts upright from his La-Z-Boy, sloshing his Long Island Iced Tea, and swearing at the TV over a Michigan one-yard loss or an opponent’s first down. (Punt also tends to get over-excited when he’s driving, and other drivers change lanes too quickly or fail to signal. But I digress.)
Without proper self-discipline, a superior team like Northwestern might betray over-excitement by celebrating a victory over a lesser opponent, such as Michigan. In Venric’s case, I suppose he does not want to be overly excited about such a small achievement. He may consider that a “miniscule activity” not worth celebrating.
The author of the URL cited above, the calm and contemplative “Sen,” believes over-excitement can be overcome only by a long and time-consuming process of discipline and self-awareness. However, I would suggest that Venric Mark may find freedom from over-excitement in another, swifter fashion …
… when Michigan kicks his purple-clad ass halfway across Lake Michigan.
MICHIGAN 31, NORTHWESTERN 17
UFR coming fiveish. Sorry for the delay.
Bo + DKR + Keith Jackson. Self-recommending, from before the 2005 Rose Bowl:
The Trouba hit. Here it is:
Keep your head up. I guess that's a point of emphasis and stuff, but a few years ago that's just a bad spot to put yourself in.
Michigan takes on State this weekend; Yost Built previews. Rutledge gets the start tonight; Trouba and Serville return to the lineup.
Predictorama. Blogs say things!
- Who Are You And Why Do We Care predicts Michigan 31-17 in unnecessarily tiny font. Fouad agrees, as does The Big House Blog.
- The MZone goes with 31-24, Michigan.
- TTB says 38-20, Michigan.
- Maize and Go Blue says 28-17, Michigan.
- Northwestern's Scout guy says 31-23, Michigan.
- BWS goes with 20-17, M.
- Maize and Brew says 20-18, which is like a score I would predict.
- Maize and Blue Nation goes with 32-13.
- Tremendous goes 30-23.
- Three of four SOP folk predict a Michigan win with one holdout who always picks Northwestern to win and one guy talking soccer.
Talkin' Wildcats. I do the Q&A thing at Lake The Posts…
LTP: Finish this sentence. Northwestern wins on Saturday if they prevent __________ from ___________
MGB: Michigan’s linebackers from flowing to the ball. Given the pass offense NW has–Nebraska is NU this year, remember–if Northwestern is going to put up enough points to win it’ll have to be on the ground, and Michigan’s linebackers are flowing clean thanks to a bunch of Mattison slants. Get to them and you’ve got a chance.
…and Sippin' On Purple:
Northwestern is "ranked". Michigan "isn't." Should they be? Do you like the fact that you played two still-undefeated teams in non-con play?
Mgo: No. No Big Ten teams should be ranked, and in fact anyone who votes for a Big Ten team should be put under house arrest. Indiana may go to the Big Ten championship game. QED.
I like playing ND. Check that: love playing ND. I hate those guys. I love going to Notre Dame Stadium, and am immensely depressed the series is coming to an end so ND can play Stanford for some reason. And Purdue! Come on man. They're good this year, but that series is a bedrock of my Michigan fandom.
Playing Alabama in Dallas sounded like a good idea when it was scheduled. By the time the game rolled around it was clear that it was not.
Denard in the NFL. Rotoworld takes an interesting look at the kind of things Denard might be able to do in the NFL:
When I watch Robinson run (and the way Michigan uses him), I can't help but think his best role would be to start out as a returner and as a situational running back. He's listed at just 6'0/197 pounds, but has a thickly built lower body. The Michigan offense has taught him to make the same types of reads NFL runningbacks are taught. He's totaled over 200 carries the last two seasons, and he was the entire foundation of their run game in 2010 - totaling 256 attempts for 1702 yards (6.6 YPC) and 14 touchdowns. He has a tendency to get upright, but he's a tough and patient inside runner who reads and sets his blocks up well, hits cutback lanes with authority, and has the speed to do damage in space. …
Highlighted in green, the playside linebacker moves Michigan's tight end into the backfield. The strong safety has filled hard off the edge, and the two inside linebackers are scraping hard playside. Instead of allowing the defense to string the play out, Robinson takes advantage of Alabama's pursuit, planting his outside foot, re-directing, and hitting the crease swiftly.
Denard gets skinny through the trash in the cutback lane. He leans and squares his shoulders through the tackle, which allows him to pick up an additional three yards.
Much more at the link.
More Ferns. Tom Rinaldi is just warming up for this guy:
They're not moving it. Dave Brandon will not let the whole playing at Rentschler Field thing die:
"We continue to have discussions with UConn to see if there isn't a better plan," Brandon told a small group of reporters Friday shortly after speaking at the Michigan Sport Business Conference at the Ross School of Business. "Anything's possible.
"It's totally in their control. We're trying to provide them with as much persuasion as we can, in the form of financial benefits for them to move that game to a bigger stadium."
This is not happening. The Connecticut legislature put a bunch of money into that stadium and it is now losing more money than projected; they will freak out if the Michigan game, a guaranteed sellout, is moved.
Michigan is paying BYU and Colorado 1.3 million to come out, BTW. The gap between that and 900k, 1 million dollar snackycakes is incredibly small.
Wait what? I missed this when it happened, but apparently the Orange Bowl is now going to be a potential destination for Big Ten teams that miss out on the Rose:
The Orange Bowl matchup in the new playoff era has been finalized multiple sources told CBSSports.com on Wednesday.
The ACC champion will play the highest-ranked team among Notre Dame and available teams from the SEC and Big Ten beginning after the 2014 season.
This is a problem for the Pac-12 and Big 12, who want access to more than one big bowl but the problem…
"TV doesn't want it," said one official intimately involved in the process.
Etc.: Jeopardy does CFB names. Lloyd Brady profiled by ESPN. "Deal with it Jesus" is amazing. Stubhub wins over season tickets this game; by end of year it will be a better deal, I imagine. A report from an alternate universe. Slippery Rock preview. Delany talks big about Big Ten scheduling, but which he means Ohio State scheduling. And MSU, I guess. Dump these divisions already.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Northwestern|
Ann Arbor, MI
12:00 PM Eastern
November 10th, 2012
|THE LINE||Michigan –9.5|
|WEATHER||dry, partly cloudy, around 60|
Yeah, that line swung hard from a –13 open. Denard uncertainty, or just bettors all looking at that and going "ah yup Northwestern," as was Michigan fans' instinct? Probably both for a four point move.
Run Offense vs Northwestern
So… after last week I don't even know man. Here's Northwestern's Big Ten performance to date:
I've gotten a vibe of sunny optimism from Northwestern fans about the run defense with their blogs and our Q&As and whatnot; the numbers don't really show it until the Iowa game. Penn State yeah but I think they only did okay there. Zach Zwinak put up 122 yards on 18 carries, 4.3 per; Matt McGloin had seven carries, two of which I've slashed out as sacks; the other five just about have to be scrambles. But even so they're only around 4, 4.5.
Meanwhile, a Denard-less Michigan just put up 4.0 YPC against awful awful Minnesota, garbage time excluded, and 4.7 garbage time inclusive. Without Denard the run offense's limitations are ruthlessly exposed. So it depends on the availability of the man who is Denard, about which we know nothing. Michigan is flirting with offensive line changes…
To prepare for Northwestern, Hoke has emphasized physicality in practices this week. On Wednesday, Hoke recycled a phrase he hasn’t used in quite some time. He said he could “hear” football, a term he favors when his lineman are hitting up to his standards.
Still, Hoke said he wouldn’t make a decision on Burzynski or Miller until after Thursday’s practice.
“Those guys have gotten some reps with the ones some, but we’ll see,” Hoke said. “I can’t tell you until we finish, and we don’t really finish until Thursday, where everybody’s at from a mental standpoint.”
…ten games into the season. That is not good. Barnum, Mealer, and Omameh—Omameh to a lesser extent—have all taken turns getting run plays blown up, and the tight end play has been erratic at best. Kwiatkowski has been pretty good; the other two guys have not been. The running backs have not been generating yards themselves.
Everything is a disaster and Denard is averaging 7.2 YPC without even bothering to adjust for sacks. Gardner could paper over some of that with his legs, but Michigan wisely avoided deploying them much since getting Gardner dinged would mean walk-on Jack Kennedy enters. That is not likely to be good eats.
So… yeah. At this point Michigan isn't likely to find the secret, so it's about the quarterback getting a numerical advantage and running the veer—Michigan's single consistently successful run play—and only Denard can do that because if Denard is not in the game Michigan cannot risk getting their QB injured. Predict that.
As for the Wildcats, they are functional. They crushed their crappy nonconference opponents (Syracuse, Vandy, BC) on the ground and have hung in against the non-Indiana(!) sections of the schedule. I'd normally dismiss crushing Iowa's run game after AIRBHG blew everything up, including two Hawkeye OL starters, but… yeah, can't. Because of the blocking.
Key Matchup: Michigan Interior OL versus Block Somebody. Right? I mean, right.
[Hit THE JUMP for more BIG TENNNN offense]