...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
- Vincent Smith was held out due to a hamstring.
- Kenny Demens jumped the route and got the interception because he knew it was coming based on film study and preparation.
- Fitz's job isn't necessarily in danger; Hoke says he just wanted to get the other tailbacks some quality work.
- Hoke made the decision to pick Desmond Morgan for No. 48 before realizing the Grand Rapids connection, but learning of it made it cooler.
File, because I forgot to bring my camera and I forgot to take a picture of Hoke with my phone because I was a little out of it because I wasn't feeling well because I was ... dehydrated. Yeah. Dehydrated.
“It was good to win Homecoming. It’s good to win any time. And really thought complete game-wise, a lot of ways this was the most complete we played. Running the ball with the running backs, Denard obviously had some great runs in there. I thought defensively, after the second series, third series, we started playing Michigan defense. Played well against the run. And then I thought when we did that on first and second down it gave us an opportunity to try and put some pressure on the quarterback and helped the guys do a nice job. Some things in there -- we had some penalties, running the ball early, [penalties] against our defense we weren’t happy with, but overall it’s probably as complete as we’ve played, but it’s not near good enough.”
Both fronts look very solid. Your assessment?
“I think really up front defensively, I didn’t think we were playing with gap integrity and getting of blocks as well as we needed to. They were hitting in there and getting four or five yards, or five or six yards. That wasn’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage. I thought we had some more work to do there. I thought we played better as the game went on. I think at the same time there was a lot of improvement. From an offensive standpoint, as we continue to grow to some degree, I think we’re playing a little better when you look at pad level, I think we’re playing a little better with the speed we want to play with.”
There were a couple critical fourth down stops by your defense when the game was still in doubt. How important were those plays?
“Those were critical, but the one where they went for it on fourth down and our defense stepped up and did a nice job, we got the ball [with] two minutes, and we got nothing. That’s frustrating because we felt coming in the locker room after half time that we left some points on the board. You can’t do that when you play for championships.”
Quinton Washington and Kenny Demens?
“And I’ll tell you. Quinton has improved every game. It’s exciting as a coach when you see a guy who steps out there and gains confidence and plays better, and he’s a big part of our football team, and he’s a wonderful young man. Kenny, I tell you, the interception, he had seen the route. He was prepared. And that’s one thing we’ve done better as a team is the preparation. He knew formationally, he knew route-wise, he knew when they lined up what route was coming so he could jump the route. That’s the maturity that you like to see in your football team. Kenny being a senior, you expect that, but when it works out you’re excited about that.”
Can you assess how Russell Bellomy played, and how important is it to give him some good game experience?
“It always is, you know. Russ, we’re very excited about Russ Bellomy, and have been. He came in there with a lot of confidence. We had the one exchange problem alter in the game, and I think the ball slipped or we didn’t get it up enough, but he’s a guy that we think is a good quarterback. That’s why we recruited him. It was good to get him some work. Obviously meaningful work, but any work is good work.”
At what point do you start thinking about Michigan State?
“I don’t know. I mean I hope the guys enjoy this right now. I don’t know if you ever don’t think about rivalry games. I think that’s always part of what makes us special being Michigan.”
Why did you choose Desmond for the jersey, and did you lay any special expectations for him with Gerald Ford being a president and all that?
“Yeah. And I’ll tell you, it was very easy to choose Desmond because of his character and his integrity, because of how he comes every day in our building, I think in our classroom, in the community. He’s a great kid. It would really -- the grand rapids connection didn’t have a whole lot to do with it until I felt that I was going to do it with Desmond and then it kind of clicked in.”
What was the thought process behind using Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls earlier in the game?
“Um, you know, we just wanted to give them both some more carries. I think competition is always healthy for everybody, so giving those guys out there some time. Vince, we didn’t play him at all becaues he had a little bit of a hamstring, and that’s where Justice got some more reps because of that. Giving Thomas more carries was part of it.”
Is it still Fitz’s job?
When Denard went out, how confident were you that you could win with your defense?
“I’d like to tell you I was very confident. I felt good that our guys on defense, and then the other piece of it I thought our kicking game -- I thought we had kind of challenged that group, challenged ourselves as coaches. Our kicking game had to make improvements and has to continue to. At that part of it, I was comfortable if that’s the way it would have gone.”
Was Denard’s boo boo a hand injury?
“Just a boo boo.”
How relieved were you that it wasn’t that serious?
“Any time any guy gets dinged up with boo boos and stuff, you always worry about it.”
It’s two games in a row that Denard hasn’t thrown an interception. Is that comfort with the game plan or just maturity?
“I think it’s a combination of both. I think he obviously reassessed probably after Notre Dame a little bit. I think we all did. I think game plan-wise, we were bound and determined that we were going to run the football. In the passing game, the play-action part of it, the part of the passing offense that he felt most comfortable with.”
Can you assess Fitz’s play today? Did he get the jumpstart he needed? Second question is how much did you stress not peeking to Michigan State?
“I’ll answer the second question first. I didn’t even talk about it because our guys never even mentioned it, looked at it. I was really surprised, but I felt real confident about every week for us is a championship game no matter what. So they have to prepare for every opponent like a championship game. There was none of that in the locker room or anywhere else. It was Illinois and how we wanted to play and how we wanted to prepare. I thought Fitz ran the ball hard. I thought he got more north and south. Jump starting? I hope. But at the same time, I think there were two runs I didn’t really like, but other than that, I thought he really started getting vertical.”
Is it fair to say he needed a jump start?
“Eh, I don’t know. You gotta explain jump start. Is that when your battery dies and you -- ”
“Well we didn’t do that with him. But I just think, and I said this before -- it’s not always the back. There’s 10 other guys other there. If Denard doesn’t carry out fakes very well, then that’s not going to be effective. And I just saw that as a piece of coaching and how you put an offense together.”
You always preach relentless effort. Can you talk about Jake Ryan missing the quarterback, hitting the ground, and then coming back to force the fumble?
“You know, Greg and the defensive staff do a tremendous job when you talk about effort and the toughness that you need to play football at Michigan with, and defense at Michigan with. And the pride that, number one, the self-pride that Jake has and how this is a football player. It’s more of a Michigan pride than team pride and a defensive pride -- that’s not why he got off the ground and forced a fumble, but that’s part of who he is and who we want to represent.”
We do need a tight end. If Ohio State's offering Jake Stoneburner a grad-year transfer to Michigan…
Hello old 48. Michigan will un-retire Gerald Ford's #48 and make him a legend jersey type thing guy. Unfortunately, these days centers are not allowed to wear #48, so it'll be some defensive guy. They'll hand it out this fall:
"We're honoring Desmond Howard now every year with one of our players (senior receiver Roy Roundtree) who really deserves it," Hoke told the station. "We're going to do the same with Gerald Ford's jersey here this year."
If I can make a request (I cannot) could this not be Jordan Kovacs? Or, like, anyone who has established themselves as a guy with a particular number? Kovacs is 32. Roundtree is 12, except he'll be 21 this fall, and that will negatively affect how he's remembered because he won't be consistently one thing. This may be a crazy argument. It is my argument, though, so I say I'd rather have Kovacs keep 32 and have everybody who wears it after him remind me that once we had a really good walk-on safety.
The legends patch thing is good for honoring past legends but switching numbers up makes it hard to create new ones. I hope they start using them as recruiting incentives instead of flipping seniors to new numbers every year. Also the patch should be subtler.
Somewhere, Kevin Sampson sobs quietly onto his Scrooge McDuck pile of flip phones. The NCAA's increasingly anachronistic texting ban is no more…
"R U interested in our school? Our facilities are gr8!"
A text message reading along those lines might appear on cellphone screens of basketball recruits starting Friday, after a new NCAA rule takes effect allowing college coaches to send unlimited text messages to players who have completed their sophomore year of high school.
Coaches also will be able to make unlimited calls to those recruits under the new legislation.
…if you are a men's basketball recruit. Also, coaches can call players whenever they want… if you are a men's basketball recruit. Basketball's trying to chop out pages of annoying rules minutiae so they can focus on the comically oversized bags with dollar signs on them that many players tote from class to class.
Whitmer's coach is quoted in the above article worrying about an avalanche of phone calls his kids will have to field, so let me reissue a suggestion: the NCAA should allow recruits to have a nonbinding commitment to a school that prevents them from taking officials and coaches other than the one they've committed to from contacting them. Even without that, that's a good decision I hope they generalize to more sports.
Seems like a great way to mix up the speed option look Michigan ran a lot of last year without forcing Denard to make a pitch decision. Malzahn and Dana Holgorsen are running it a lot… it could be a decent idea. A diagram:
It even works without tight ends, which we don't have.
Moving the goalposts. Pat Forde has a silly column using the Stony Brook college world series story as an argument for a bighuge playoff. A four team playoff wouldn't have any "Cinderellas" in it despite including Boise State and TCU when they were at their apex because…
But a four-team deal certainly presents no opportunity to the Stony Brooks of college football. The champions of the Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Western Athletic Conference (should it survive) never will make that cut. The Mountain West and even the Big East would be long shots.
Football, greedy and decentralized, doesn't care.
Meanwhile, the rest of college sports give the little guys a chance to do it on the field. It gives life to the overachiever stories that are a large part of what makes sports compelling.
…those teams are now in BCS conferences if you consider the new-look Big East a BCS conference, which you probably shouldn't. A four team playoff does occasionally let in the champions of those leagues, should those champions actually seem like a worthy contender. If it's a "long shot," Forde notes earlier in his own column that the last time a Stony Brook-type interloper made the CWS it was 1986, when the regionals were literally regional. Hypothetical Four Team Playoff has a better record of including outlying provinces than the college world series. Just because TCU isn't a have-not anymore doesn't mean they weren't when they rose to prominence, and the minnow drought in the CWS is an argument in favor of a more streamlined field.
I will say this: if you are going to do the thing where everyone gets a chance no matter how likely it is they get their heads beaten in, Forde's system is a good one. It's a twelve-team field with 11 champions—more likely 10 since the WAC is dead—and one or two autobids. Byes, homefield, etc. The only objections you could level would be Think Of The Children arguments about missed class and too much football that evidently don't apply at any other level of the sport.
Dennis Dodd made this same argument. In short: since Boise State and TCU are now in power conferences, no one outside a power conference can be relevant. Mmmm self-defeating argument.
Etc.: North Carolina troubles are even more troubling now that a totally fake class has been exposed. Could this be the straw that finally causes the NCAA to annihilate someone? Probably not.
Nike is still trying to make gray not gray. Chris Wormely interviewed, says he's 6'5", 270, and be a five tech unless he outgrows it and ends up at the three. I don't think there's anything new in this ESPN article about Michigan trying to line up a Pac-12 opponent in somewhere in the 2014-2016 range. Penn State's leadership is… not leadership. Jerry Sandusky's lawyer is… not good at lawyering.