"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Ah, the bye week. Sometimes it interrupts the flow of an exciting football season. And sometimes it mercifully ends the eye-bleeding and cow-rubbing for seven extra merciful days. But either way, the bye week is not simply a void on the calendar. No, no. You are not so lucky. The bye week is the Britta filter of your social life. It catches all of the stuff you’ve been avoiding or putting off. It is your March 31st.
So today, we preview some of your most likely opponents for the weekend. Odds are, you'll be facing at least one or two of these this weekend, so you may as well be prepared.
About Last Week:
Football. Which was somehow worse than this week’s opponents.
The Road Ahead:
Recap: A familiar rival. You have taken on this opponent in bits and pieces over previous weekends, but you didn’t get out there until 11:00 and then you came back in for a drink and the noon games had kicked off and then the Michigan game was on at 3:30 and then DAMN too dark to get back out there. Unfortunately, this has left you in a precarious state in which you still need to rake about 80% of the leaves, and you should probably mow the thing before winter, and your dream of turning that weedy dirt patch in the corner of the yard into, you know, grass, has hopelessly stalled for the second straight season.
This opponent is as frightening as: A standard MAC opponent. It probably won’t be pretty, and you may be left with the impression that you are half-assing it, but you can usually get enough done such as not to embarrass yourself too badly in front of your neighbors. Fear Level = 4
You should worry about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you don’t score early in this one, there’s a decent chance nature will run out the clock.
You can sleep soundly about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you fall behind in this one, who the hell cares it’ll be covered in snow and you won’t have to worry about it until like April. Polar Vortex FTW.
Current Line: Lawn -3
Pile of Papers on the Little Table
Recap: It started innocently enough. There was the renewal notice for Cat Fancy and the coupon for the restaurant you never visit but might visit some time because you have a coupon. So you put them on that little table in the corner of the kitchen or on the desk in the den so you could take care of them later. And now, four months later, the pile has become The Pile. You know there are some medical bills in there, and something sticking out of the pile (like three inches from the top) says “Second Notice.” The pile is a combination of the vital stuff you can’t lose and stuff you probably should have thrown away months ago. Somewhere in there is your passport, your Social Security card, and a spare checkbook. The pile is starting to lean precariously.
The preferred offensive strategy is to isolate the various elements and attack them piecemeal. Sort the pile into three separate groups: stuff you need to do right now, stuff you can throw away, and stuff that can wait but you probably shouldn’t throw away. Put that last subset in a nice neat pile, and put it somewhere where you will remember to take care of it soon. Like the little table in the corner of the kitchen.
This team is as frightening as: Michigan State. You know going in that you are going to face some matchup problems that you can’t solve. At some point, you have to acknowledge that defeat is inevitable, and that your opponent’s superiority is unlikely to lessen any time soon. Fear Level = 8
You should worry about: Seriously, one of these days they are going to shut off one of your services for non-payment. It might be your electricity. It might be Cat Fancy.
You can sleep soundly about: If it ever comes down to it, you know EXACTLY where all of your important stuff is. Is there anything so wrong with having all of your important papers in one place?
Current Line: Pile -7 (and the O/U of remaining pile height at the end of the weekend: 4 inches)
[AFTER THE JUMP – More stuff that is more fun than watching football]
News bullets and other items:
Hoke expects Devin Gardner to start against MSU, with Shane Morris now healthy enough to be his backup
Hoke identified zone coverage, the run game, and creating big plays as areas for improvement over the final five games of the season
Kyle Bosch will re-join the team in January after taking a leave of absence for personal reasons
Willie Henry could have played against Penn State if it was necessary
Hoke alluded to being past the point of making a decision regarding Desmond Morgan redshirting and was evasive when asked if he’d miss the rest of the season
The coaches go over negative highlights from around college football each week in team meetings
If you’re wondering why there were no MGoQuestions it’s because they were all about MSU, and I decided to save them for Monday since Hoke said the coaches are only in the preliminary stages of gameplanning
“Number one, thanks for coming out today. It was good to get a win. Obviously winning's an important aspect of what you do when you compete. The atmosphere, I think, in Michigan Stadium was unbelievable and I know our kids, the energy, they feed off that and it was through the whole game. It was loud when it needed to be loud [from] our students and our fans so we really appreciate that.
“Yesterday we had a shortened practice. We'll go a little longer today. Just fundamentals and techniques being the main emphasis. A little bit on our next opponent, Michigan State, but a lot of fundamental work because we've got some young guys who want to continue to grow and continue to get them as many reps as we can, and then you've got some older guys who've played a lot of football in seven games [over] seven weeks so you want to get them some rest when you can but at the same time try and get some of the early game planning stuff. And with byes, to get physically healthy is an important part of it as much as you can; you're never going to be all the way. And then we've got a great rivalry game with Michigan State.
‘So the other thing we’ll use the bye week for is recruiting. The other part of it will be for us to– for us as a staff to do some self scout with where you're at and what you've done so far and where you might want to change some details up and I think that's one thing Michigan State did – not Michigan State, Penn State, the other night when you look at some of the down and distance and formation things in the first half from an offensive standpoint. They had the bye week and I think they went in seeing that they needed to change up a little bit and I think they did that.”
Do you expect Devin [Gardner] to start at Michigan State?
“Yeah, I would. I think having Shane back and healthy also is a big part of it and as much as we are going to talk about injuries yeah, we expect Devin to be there.”
You've touched on this in the past, but what would you say is the biggest area of improvement in Devin since you've known him?
“I'd say as much as anything I think [it’s] his leadership. I think nowadays kids, not a lot of them have that natural leadership. And a lot of that is, and this is an opinion, I haven't studied this but they play so much AAU now. It used to be you go in a backyard or churchyard and you’d say [to] 10 guys, ‘Okay you're the captain of this team and you’re [the captain] of this,’ then pick. Now we have adults making decisions that I don't believe kids get to make and it doesn't help them grow and so that's just part of what I think. So it's a little tougher at times to help kids grow in that department.”
[After THE JUMP: more details on stuff summarized in the bullets]
- Joey Burzynski is out with a torn ACL. Drew Dileo should be fine.
- Amara Darboh is out of his boot.
- Offensive line is still subject to change.
- Team will take Tuesday off and resume practice Thursday and Friday.
- Offensive game plan vs Indiana was to use a lot of double moves to take advantage of Indiana's corners' tendency to jump routes.
- Defensive game plan was to not get frustrated.
“It was great to win the football game the other night. Obviously we don’t like winning games when we give up that many points. We have to do a better job defensively in some areas. Offensively, obviously, it was a great offensive performance. I think playing itself, going into the game to take advantage of some of the things that Indiana did defensively, some of the double moves, the play-action game out of the two-back and 12 personnel sets were really good. And it helped that we were able to run the football. I think the guards that played did a nice job. Was it perfect? No. But I think all three of them did a nice job. The unfortunate thing is Joey [Burzynski], we’ll probably lose for the year with an ACL. You look at your depth and you look at the last five games you’re going into, you need everybody. We’re fortunate Chris Bryant is still a guy that will compete, and Kyle Kalis is a guy who can compete. That helps you a little bit but you feel bad for Joey because he’s worked so hard to get to this point.”
- Jake Ryan! Won't be back for Big Ten opener. Maybe by Penn State. "Mid-october" is the target.
- The only way Graham Glasgow gets moved to center is if there's a capable guard to replace him.
“Good practice today. Back to basics, I think that’s what most of us do during bye weeks, especially the first couple days. Fundamentals, being sound with technique, revisiting technique is always important. I think we did that. We had great intensity. The focus was very good.”
Are there guys that are going to rest this week?
“No. I mean, everybody’s participating, some at different levels than others. Taylor doesn’t need to be out there 30 plays in a practice -- I’ll just use him as an example. You’ll do some of that, but everybody’s doing work.”
For Taylor, has this season been an improvement for him?
“I think he’s playing pretty well. I think he’s been very good as a leader. I think he’s been good fundamentally and technique. I think he’s been pretty good.”
Has he been playing hurt?
“No, I don’t think so.”
MGo: Not much. How are you?
MGo: How’s kindergarten?
“Kindergarten is wonderful. Every day is just a new experience. It’s awesome.”
Think you’re going to pass?
“I already passed.”
Word of the day?
“I don’t know. I didn’t get one. I’ve been kind of -- no I didn’t get one. I’ll get you one next week.”
Not an easy loss to sit on for two weeks. Did you work on rebuilding Denard’s confidence over the bye?
“Yeah. I think to a degree. I don’t think his confidence is waning too much, though. The biggest thing about that situation is getting back to some of the basics of reading the defense and making good decisions and things like that. I think that’s really the biggest factor. A couple footwork issues that hadn’t shown up until that game too much. … The good thing about two weeks is you get a chance to really evaluate everything you’re doing, and that’s what we’ve kind of done is look at how we’ve played, you know, on the road particularly because we haven’t played well on the road, but overall just see what the structure of the offense is and get back to sending a message and knowing that we’ve got to play better in those scenarios.”
Is there a common thread with the road games and offensive inefficiency?
“I don’t know. Not any more than any place else I’ve been, I guess. It’s harder to play on the road. It’s always an issue, but you can’t always use that as an excuse because good teams win on the road. I mean the biggest issue, we had some breakdowns, but we just can’t turn the ball over. That’s the biggest -- you hear it every week and it sounds like coach speak but it’s so true. When you turn the ball over as many times we turned the ball over you have no chance. We were fortunate it was as close as it was.”
News bullets and other important items:
- Bye weeks. They are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal.
- Aside from the guys who are out for the year, everyone except maybe Brandon Moore and maybe Marvin Robinson should be back for Purdue.
- Also except for Nathan Brink.
“You know, the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it’s not a good bye week -- I don’t think you really know that until you go through it. I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week. I would hope we have that, the productivity, anytime the bye week was, but I think we got to really re-evaluate where we’re at and what we want to do. I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches. I think that’s always a big part of it. Different things in the aspects that you’re involved with, from the kicking, the defense, the offense. You always look at self-scouting, see where you’re at, what you might want to do different or what you like, what you’re doing.
"I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, and those things that go along with it. I think the other part, which was big, was the guys who are traveling who are freshmen have not been home since June 25th. We have a lot of those guys from the state, got a lot of those guys within driving distance from Ohio and Chicago. It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncles, whoever -- I thought that was positive. And then from the academic side also I think it’s always a help.
"So we’ll find out obviously Saturday. We’ve got a tremendous challenge because I think Purdue’s playing as well as anybody in our league right now. Three and one. Went to South Bend and played a hard-fought tough game, had a chance to win the game. So we got our work cut out for us.”