it's a major award
ryan van bergen
11/26/2011 – Michigan 40, Ohio State 34 – 10-2, 6-2 Big Ten
Odoms via the Detroit News. Koger/Fitzgerald and Denard via Eric Upchurch.
Slightly more than a week ago, people better-prepared than I commemorated the fifth anniversary of Bo's death. I remember where I was, sitting in the room I was renting in a house that would be foreclosed on as Tom Orr, a Buckeye fan whose wife still worked for the TV station Bo did a show for, emailed me the things I didn't want to hear.
I had a thing I'd mostly written the night before about that year's Game, the one I did and still call Football Armageddon. It was an overdramatic thing based on a Sufjan Stevens song about the apocalypse. I wasn't sure about it. As I read it, panicked because I had to say something and what would I say, two things occurred to me. One, that the overdramatic thing was now on point. Two, that the part I hadn't written the night before about my father burning into coal—because it was impossible to—now sat there, obvious.
Ryan Van Bergen was in high school. He'd committed to Lloyd Carr months before. He was going to Michigan, fergodsakes. David Molk had ten thousand zits on his face. He was going to Michigan, too. Neither had the slightest idea.
Four years and two coaches later, the two of them sat in a room. They decided. What they decided was: that was not happening again. They decided they would stay. They loved Michigan, and they weren't going out in a disjointed mess. Their new coach reinstated an old tradition and they became captains unlike any in 40 years. They found their own way. There was no one save Brandon Graham to learn from, and there's only so much Brandon Graham can do.
I'm not really sure how or why but Denard Robinson stayed, too. It's possible Molk threatened to kill him.
In these decisions, in these moments, in these actually-kind-of-idiotic thought processes that led all of these players to stay here for a second or third coach, in a place that too easily booed them when they failed to live up to the expectations set for them, Michigan became Michigan again.
What is Michigan but a succession of players who chose the winged helmet and spent their four or five years in it trying to perform to the level previous players had? And how difficult would that be when your predecessors had either not lived up to that standard or abandoned you? Who was Ryan Van Bergen supposed to look up to?
By the time everyone else came back, Molk and Van Bergen and Martin and Koger and Woolfolk and the rest of the roster had already decided. Amongst themselves, for themselves.
This program needed that to pay off. It needed to stop feeling sorry for itself, being at war with itself, sabotaging itself, stop hopping on the radio to trash this that and the other, stop needing to be trashed on the radio for this that and the other. It needed to finally bury Bo, and move past the strife caused by his absence. Only one thing could do that: beating Ohio.
They did, and now there are legacies.
That picture is David Molk to me. Hugging his quarterback and killing a press conference. Sealing a blitzing linebacker on a second-half stretch. Piloting one of the best rushing attacks in Michigan history.
That picture is Ryan Van Bergen to me. Destroying that Indiana drive after botching the call on the line; leaving OSU with his winged helmet thrust as far in the air as his 6'6" frame would take it.
Amongst the tackiness, that was real. That's what I waited for. One story of redemption from someone who did nothing wrong. I've sneered at the "Michigan Man" concept ever since it became a cudgel to use against the wrong head coach. The idea there was anything particularly special or deathlessly loyal or kind or mature about the program's alumni was ridiculous after the way the last three years played out. But no more.
These are Michigan Men; this is their season.
After the game I loitered at my family's tailgate until the champagne was gone and then walked home. These days I make the walk to and from the game by myself. The people I used to walk with aren't around anymore.
At first this seemed lonely. I remember walking down Packard behind a father and his kid after The Horror. An elderly guy who kind of seemed stoned came out onto his elaborately flowered lawn and asked "they didn't really lose, did they?" The father nodded ruefully; the elderly guy shook his head. I remember getting body-checked into a car after last year's State game. I remember shivering the whole way after Northwestern '08.
On Saturday the sky was slate, the gunmetal November sky that goes with head coaches in shirtsleeves and sleet and the grim reconciliation with the elements via which the Big Ten footprint acknowledges both winter and mortality. Being outside, in Michigan, in late November, is usually a defiant variety of stupidity—a last taste of being outdoors before December closes in and the world becomes a thing briefly tolerated between heated areas. In the Midwest, football is to winter what spit from a condemned man is to a firing squad.
Saturday was also warm, warmer than any Ohio State game in memory. As I walked, alone, past the lurid green turf the field hockey team plays on I watched fathers play with sons. A tailgate across the tracks provided play-by-play as I passed by: a speed option the kid playing quarterback turned into a trick play by going out for a pass after he pitched. He was open; he dropped it; I filed it (CA, 3, RPS +1). The tailgate burst into sympathetic "awwws."
I kind of lost it passing behind the bleachers, just then. I came out the other side, and looked back, and saw two #16s and a #1 running around, catching and throwing, four-foot-five at best. Mottled clouds passed overhead. Two shades of gray were pushed by wind. It seemed to me like the closer, darker ones were giving way to the lighter background.
It felt like spring.
Photoset from Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer:
This is a great shot you might see in next year's season preview:
Molk brought his trident:
WE MUST EAT
Pregame hype video:
Give it to Old Hat Creative. Two consecutive years these have been great. Aaand JBrons provides a panorama:
BRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. 14/17 for 10 YPA, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 170 rushing yards at 6.5 YPC and two more touchdowns… uh… yeah. It was Denard Robinson's day. If he'd played like that week-in, week-out he's in New York and Andrew Luck is asking for his autograph. Alas, it was not to be.
Robinson didn't eat up passing yards with screens or long busted coverages, either. His long on the day was the 28-yarder to Dileo that CJ Barnett jumped. That's a disaster if it's even a little bit off; Denard made an NFL throw into Dileo's outstretched hands. The post TD to Hemingway was a 20-yard dart and the Odoms touchdown was thrown into space so tight I'm not even sure you could call it a "window." It was more like a keyhole.
Hypothesis: do you think Borges did something to Denard's throwing motion? That might explain his progression from inept in the nonconference schedule to decent, if limited, in the Big Ten to assassin against OSU. If Denard can extend that performance across a season… holy pants. The scrambles and draws have opened up for him the past couple weeks because his passing has been enough of a threat to demand attention.
Honorable mentions: Brady Hoke (for reasons discussed below), Al Borges, Fitzgerald Toussaint.
EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.
3: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Ohio State)
2: Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue, Nebraska)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).
Future annoying conversations may be (unsuccessfully) pre-empted by "Ohio State 2011." On the podcast last week we talked about Hoke's natural aggression and how there would be a point in the future when it does not work out, thus spawning a week of extremely annoying conversations. This game is an uzi in the math camp's arsenal.
Hoke went for it on fourth and one on the OSU 40 in the first quarter. Hopkins got it easily and Michigan punched in a touchdown. Ohio State punted on fourth and four from the Michigan 36; Michigan moved the ball to midfield before the disastrous Hagerup non-punt set Ohio State up with the same field position they'd have had if they'd picked up the first down. Later, Fickell kicked on fourth and goal from the Michigan four down six.
I punched all these decisions into Advanced NFL Stat's fourth down calculator; it spat out that Hoke was right and Fickell wrong with a total margin of 3.2 expected points and a total shift in win percentage of 7%*. And their assumptions are based on NFL models where four yards to go is an automatic passing down; taking the game situation into account (it's spread mad college and both quarterbacks are unstoppable on the ground) it seems like much, if not all, of Michigan's final margin of victory came from the decisions the head coaches made.
How much more of a travesty is the Toussaint overturn if it puts Michigan in fourth and goal from the 25 down four? Orders of magnitude. How confident are you that Michigan wins that game without the offense ripping down the field in the fourth quarter? Not at all. Michigan does not win this game without…
*[I know you can't just add WP differences up like that but the differences are small enough that it shouldn't matter.]
Controlled aggression. How would you characterize the first year of the Hoke era if given only two words? I don't think you could do better than sniping a couple Hoke used to describe Denard's game:
"Denard went out there as a quarterback of Michigan and went out there to help his teammates and be accountable to his teammates. He couldn't do it by himself and no one ever does, but I thought he played an aggressive, controlled football game."
Controlled aggression. From Mattison's okie blitzes that get an unblocked guy while dropping seven to Borges going for points in the fourth quarter Saturday to Hoke's decisions to go for it on fourth down to Hoke's ability to not strangle Hagerup (better man than all of us), "controlled aggression" is the story of Michigan's 2011… and its future.
I could not have been more wrong about Hoke. He's not the milquetoast win-by-not-losing sort. He's not even average. He has a gut feel that is on par with every RPG minimaxing engineer out there. Forged by the fires of MAC defenses, Hoke has learned to push when he should and pull back when he should. I would not want to play poker against him.
I know Hoke talks about toughness and physicalness even if the latter isn't really a word, and that's fine and important. It's half of the equation. The other half is putting your guys in position to take advantage of that. Hoke does that. MANBALL: pretty much not pejorative anymore.
Speaking of the Toussaint overturn. So the overturn at the end had the stadium baying for blood. Mike Pereira on that:
Why they even considered overturning this as a touchdown, I’ll never know. There were two definitive replays that the booth had to look at, and in my opinion, one showed that the ball might have been a foot short and the other one looked more like it was a clear touchdown.
This decision seemed to be based on the first angle only. Even that, to me, was not conclusive, because when the video was stopped it was not clear whether the knee was down.
Pereira also tackles the Odoms catch/recatch that got Michigan down to the six, saying it was the right call. Myself, I'm not sure why they reviewed it or why it took so long. I do wonder how you align this logic with the Junior Hemingway 49% touchdown against Iowa:
The fact the ball hit the ground does not make the pass incomplete. It becomes a question of maintaining possession. Odoms’ hands remained on the ball, and though the ball moved a bit, he did not lose possession. In order to reverse this ruling, I think you have to see the ball come out of his hands after it hit the ground.
I think ball hitting ground should be no catch unless you've already made the proverbial football move. That's clear. What we've got now is ambiguous.
And, then after the game, the fans just like, start banging their hands together. Michigan's grenade celebration caught the ire of Zach Boren:
"I lost so much respect for michigan after they won [and] threw the ball in the air acting like it was a grenade.
This is a great rivalry, and to take it to that level of disrespect is just so uncalled for. Act like you have won before [and] treat this rivalry like it should be treated."
Their family would never participate in anything so crass as celebrating amongst their teammates. They are a respectful bunch.
A stoic group of respectful people, those Borens.
[HT on the bolded zinger to MichFan1997.]
To get the bags of urine thrown at you you have to be in Columbus, though. Atmosphere skeptics will not be cowed, but this is high praise from a guy who would know:
The OSU-Michigan game today was the closest thing to a big soccer game I've ever been to. Kept thinking of USA-Mexico in Mexico.
Carey has been to USA-Mexico in Mexico, which… whoah. That is a hell of a comparison to make.
Weekly Borgeswatch. Beat up or not, that was an Ohio State defense that entered the game 16th in total defense and 12th in FEI*. Michigan rolled them. Eliminate the Hagerup disaster, a sack, and the kneeldown and Michigan averaged 6.4 YPC. Denard hit 9.8 YPA. They should have scored 44. They won that game with a functional turnover margin of –2—the Hagerup disaster is a 60-yard loss of field position and the Avery INT was superfluous—and their defense giving up 34. That's fantastic.
Borges's last three weeks have been superlative. It's still frustrating that a couple of poor gameplans cost Michigan against MSU and Iowa but Borges corrected course and lit up defenses ranging from excellent to okay the last three weeks of the season. Before the season I predicted that Michigan's YPC would drop by a yard; with the bowl game to go it's only down about a quarter of that. Passing efficiency has dropped (23rd to 39th) but YPA is actually up a couple tenths of a yard. The interceptions are the major issue, and a decent chunk of those featured wide open receivers the QBs ignored.
Some regression was expected even if Rodriguez stuck around, so the net transition cost on offense kind of seems like… zero. Fumbles have been a huge factor (last year: 29, 14 lost; this year: 17, 6 lost) and I don't think there's a whole lot of coaching in that, but at this point there's no denying Borges has kept the offense humming.
Imagine how good they could have been with bubble screens! [kidding! srs.]
*[Although… I'm getting suspicious of that metric when it has Rutgers #1 in defense and Miami(!!!) #2 in offense. Miami hasn't gone over 20 points since beating Duke; they lost to FSU 23-19 and to BC 24-17. They beat USF 6-3 and are 73rd in total offense, 64th in scoring. There is no combination of circumstances that could make them the #2 offense in the country. FEI is failing sanity tests this year.]
BCS hootenanny. Michigan actually fell a slot in the BCS standings this week thanks to Wisconsin turning Penn State into paste. They're 16th; they need to creep up two spots* to be eligible for hypothetical Sugar Bowl against Houston. One of those is a given since the Big Ten title game loser will fall behind them. The next is likely as long as Georgia loses the SEC title game.
If Georgia doesn't things get dicey. Then you're hoping for Iowa State to beat KSU or Oklahoma State to annihilate Oklahoma to the point where disgusted voters drop them immensely. With KSU a 12 point favorite and Oklahoma State a 3.5 point favorite, neither of those things seem particularly likely. Baylor is also a threat to jump Michigan if they beat Texas—if it's close the computers will likely side with the Big 12 team. Baylor's favored by around 3. MFan_in_Ohio has a complete rooting guide.
The only scenario in which Michigan feels entirely safe is Georgia and Baylor both losing. Anything else and it's going to come down to the margins. Not getting the BCS game would be disappointing, but mostly from a program prestige point of view. The likely opponent would be better in the Citrus: Arkansas, Georgia, or South Carolina. Also, New Orleans vs Orlando is a blowout.
If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the Bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings,
Otherwise it's top 14.]
Fitzkrieg* III. If Brady Hoke gets It, Fitzgerald Toussaint has It. Fitz is averaging 5.8 YPC this year and that's with a majority of his carries coming against Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State. That is tied for the 14th best YPC in a single season (100 carries minimum) since 1949 and the second-best since Biakabutuka's 1995 campaign. (Denard's 2010 beats him out at an incredible 6.6 YPC. Tyrone Wheatley's 1992 season stands alone as the best in Michigan history. Wheatley picked up 1357 yards on 185 carries—eleven more than Toussaint had this year. He averaged 7.3 YPC. Holy pants.)
[active players bolded. also players from the last 15 years.]
Adjust that for schedule strength, and… well, Toussaint is pretty good, especially when Denard Robinson is taking a lot of attention for himself. If Michigan can find a tight end (possible) and adequately replace Huyge (likely) and Molk (er…), an Al Borges with a year of experience dealing with these guys could put up some silly numbers.
Have to keep that line healthy, though.
*[Now spelled right and everything!]
I'm just sayin'. Fitz did bust a long one on I-Form power late, but it didn't exactly go as planned:
That cuts behind something that's supposed to be a downblock. Usually that's doom, though not when you've blasted the DT five yards downfield.
With Denard and Toussaint propelling Michigan to its best running game since the Big Ten was only vaguely competitive, can we assert that running quarterbacks do work in the Big Ten and that the spread is a pretty good system for running the ball? After all was said and done, Michigan beat OSU—put up more points on OSU than they ever had—by running a shotgun centered offense that tore it up with the inverted veer. Kudos to Borges for adjusting; I hope we don't say "that was interesting" and go back to statues for the next decade.
I say recruit 'em all and let Borges sort 'em out. Mobile QBs who don't pan out can turn into Marvin McNutt; I don't think M should turn down Shane Morris but if there's a Devin or a Denard around… man, this stuff really works.
Everyone's spent the last year comparing this offense to RR's last one, and saying there's no dropoff. That's true. Now let's compare it to the Carr offenses featuring oodles of NFL draft picks. Hmmm.
Facepalmin': THE REVERSAL. Facepalm guy after the OSU game:
That's goddamn right.
Epic photobomb. Via the internets, here's Josh Garnett, Jake Long, and Eric Magnuson* plus a Heisman-level photobomber:
The wife saw this picture and said "why does Jake Long look strange" and I said "because he's next to people approximately his size."
*[Hockey fans will appreciate that I almost called him "Kevin." #hardcore]
Where are the safeties? So the disturbing thing about the game was Braxton Miller trashing the secondary. It could have been a lot worse than it was, but Miller's accuracy rating is still in the 50s so he overthrew a bunch of dudes.
No one was exempt: Floyd, Countess, Woolfolk, and Gordon each got burned (Kovacs was mostly used in the box and did not have an opportunity.) Some of that is Michigan showing a consistent one-high and Bollman exploiting that with receivers that, for the first time all year, seemed way more athletic than Michigan's secondary. Other parts were just inexplicable, like whoever the free safety was on the first touchdown sucking up on a covered Posey instead of covering the deep guy. I'll have to check the tape; I'm kind of concerned this is an '06 situation where whoops we have this huge throbbing vulnerability.
Floyd getting suckered on a double move on OSU's last drive was the worst. Have to stay over the top then and make Miller execute his way down the field.
Special K's magnum opus. Piping in "Build Me Up Buttercup" during Ohio State's final drive. Well done, you flatulent twit. Eleven Warriors:
"Sweet Caroline"? "Don’t Stop Believin’"? Nice traditions you’ve got there. I didnt think anything could make the car keys thing less embarrassing. I stand corrected.
Chris Grovich of BSD:
Note how lame the Big House is with Journey blaring? That's you, Penn State gameday experience. A million times over.
Apparently Hunter Lochmann openly admits he's courting casual "families of four from Grand Rapids." Court casual fans and you get casual fans. Michigan's athletic department has no understanding of how to build long-term loyalty. The concept does not occur to them.
I would like to point you to Those Who Stayed, the post-Minnesota game column, again.
The play of the game, or at least one of them, is not recorded in the boxscore in a meaningful way. After Hagerup’s failed 4th down conversion, osu took over at our 31. They got down to our 5 yard line, and had 1st and goal. A couple strong defensive efforts lead to 3rd down.
On the next play, according to Chris Spielman (we were never shown this,) osu tried their TD pass to Stoneburner play, the one that got him TDs on ~ half his receptions this year. Only this time, Kovacs stayed with Stoneburner, and forced Miller to keep it. Jibreel Black (Jibreel Black? Yes, Jibreel Black) kept outside leverage, wrapped up Miller and forced the FG.
At the other end of the field, we did the same thing, only their 3rd string strong safety, Storm Klein, bit on the playfake leaving Koger wide open for the TD. (It may not have been Storm Klein, but for the purposes of this narrative, I’m going with Storm Klein.)
It was Zach Domicone, and it only serves him right for being such a tool on special teams. More than once I saw him attempt to goad Michigan players into personal foul penalties, but no sale.
I am also tweaked for the option fumble when they finally ran it with Odoms in motion, which fair enough. Denard got instant pressure which made the pitch a difficult one and the corner was wide open. Hopefully they get that straightened out eventually. Also we totally need to add the Braxton Miller speed option-whoops-seeya play.
Fitz Toussaint - Denard is light-years more effective with a true home-run threat in the backfield with him. The read option becomes almost impossible to stop if read correctly. Only having 2 negative yards against Ohio in 20 carries is remarkable. It is a crime that the zebras took your TD away, go get 3 next year.
There is narrative about the point that doesn't work with a blockquote but is worth clicking through for. Also more Hagerup hilarity.
[escape pauses gifs]
And MichiganMan2424's cool story bro about meeting Fitzgerald Toussaint's mom on his way home from the game spawns other cool stories on the board.
Media, as in unwashed blog masses. Hoke pointing from Hoke Points and the AP:
MGoVideo provides a Hoke Nyan Cat:
We need one of these with a Denard head and football body, I think.
Michigan fans had hoped for an easy victory over Ohio State. A blowout. A cake walk. But that's not how good stories are told. Even ones written not on the page, but between the lines of a college gridiron. For after 7* consecutive losses, the task was too important. After three years staring into the football abyss, the final push toward the mountain top demanded it be the hardest.
The hero's journey must never be easy.
For future reference, reasonable Joseph Campbell reference == autolink.
Sap's decals. TWB bullets. MVictors bullets plus cookie photo. Maize and Go Blue recap. TTB bullets. MZone autopsy. Holding the Rope gets the word "gyre" in there, one-upping Maize and Blue Nation's "whirlwind." Smiling Kovacs hug leads The Michigan Fanatic. BWS column.
The HSR is all in my head with their theme:
If you're a Michigander, you know that winter is miserable. As much as the first snow fall of the season might be entertaining and even maybe a little bit pretty, while snow days may be a nice respite from the daily grind, the reality is that it's cold, dark, wet, and miserable. You stay inside, you may get seasonal affective disorder, and you wait for spring. You may be so desperate for any sign of spring, you seize false hope, only to see the snow return with a vengeance, the darkness fall. No matter what the calendar says, the end of winter is a feeling and you know it when it happens.
Forever Saturday leads with the Van Bergen photo above:
I was briefly concerned yesterday that I would wake up at some point and realize that it was all just a dream and Michigan had in fact not beaten Ohio State for the first time since shortly after I graduated high school. It's Sunday now. It's really over.
The words: I do not have them. I just keep telling people "Michigan beat Ohio State!" and making weird sounds that apparently are some combination of exhilaration and relief. That's all I can do after that.
The national view comes from Jacobi:
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan beat Ohio State. Wait, let's try that again: MICHIGAN BEAT OHIO STATE. The 10-win season is absolutely nice for the Wolverines, but they've been circling this game on their calendars since time immemorial, and to get a win in this rivalry after eight years of futility is a major, major accomplishment for Brady Hoke and his charges.
LOSER: Michigan's classless fans
Look at them, rushing the field and celebrating after Michigan beats a 6-6 team. Act like you've been there, guys, right? The nerve of it all!
We're kidding, of course, because the cathartic value of a win like that, erasing eight years of misery and futility hard-wired into to Michigan's identity as a football program, would be off the charts even if Ohio State were coming into the game 0-11. But we're still talking about a bowl team here in OSU, and one that gave Michigan all sorts of fits over the course of the game. You have our full blessing on this field-storming, Michigan. And if anyone says otherwise, well, haters gonna hate. Feels nice to have haters again, doesn't it?
Yes. Exactly. Boren butthurt tweets == Tears of Unfathomable Sadness. So sweet.
In the context of the entire season, though, it was an exclamation point on a legitimate return to form. Unlike 2007 and 2008, the Wolverines didn't endure an embarrassing flop against a major underdog. Unlike 2009 and 2010, they didn't blow their fast start with a depressing November fade against the meat of the Big Ten slate. They were never blown out, and after their dramatic comeback to beat Notre Dame in September, none of their subsequent wins were close. Last week's evisceration of Nebraska was Michigan's best game in five years, a complete win over a real opponent, and the first unmistakable line of demarcation between Brady Hoke's first team and Rich Rodriguez's last.
Media, soon to expire variety. Dispatch, you disappoint but do not surprise:
You tools should have the MANBALLS to reverse your cute little counter, but since you don't have the resources to find out anything about OSU's compliance, or lack thereof, it's not a surprise you don't. You suck.
It probably was tougher and crazier than they expected, but when the Wolverines finally beat the Buckeyes 40-34 Saturday and the fans swarmed the field, one thing was clear: It's back on, mercifully and manically.
Reset the clock. Reset the rivalry. After seven straight losses and 2,926 days, Michigan ended the agony against Ohio State and took another big step back to national relevance.
Michigan had just ended an eight-year drought — it was 2,926 days, to be exact, as coach Brady Hoke's sign not-so-subtly reminded his players inside Schembechler Hall — by beating archrival Ohio State. And Michigan's senior class had just ended a perfect home season the way few, if any, of them could've imagined.
So as the students came streaming onto the field to celebrate in Michigan Stadium, and the Wolverines started running off it to do the same in their locker room, a trio of defensive linemen — Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen and Will Heininger — lingered just a bit longer.
Mienke assembles facts about Denard Robinson's day:
Robinson's five touchdowns are the most by a Michigan player in one game against Ohio State.
Robinson is the first Michigan player in the modern era to score at least two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns in back-to-back games, and is the first Big Ten quarterback to accomplish the feat since Iowa's Brad Branks in 2002. He had two of each against Nebraska.
More at the link.
The Daily's Tim Rohan:
Those who stay will redeem themselves.
Ryan Van Bergen stayed.
While his teammates mobbed Courtney Avery, whose interception for the Michigan football team sealed the 40-34 win over Ohio State on Saturday, Van Bergen slowly walked to the sideline, his hands on his head.
He flipped off his helmet, collapsed on the blue bench and wept.
The crowd’s roar was deafening as Jake Ryan pulled Van Bergen close, whispering in his ear. Then Craig Roh did the same. They told Van Bergen how much his leadership meant, how much of an impact he had on them.
Denard Robinson and David Molk
The color is weird on some of these because I forgot to change my camera settings until halfway through.
David, can you talk about the poise of your quarterback and the mindset in the huddle during the game?
Molk: “I mean, he did great. It’s apparent how he’s matured throughout the season, how he’s matured with me watching after him. He did great. As an offense, we did great. We drove down the field. We were always composed. We were always ready for another drive. There was absolutely nothing that was going to stop us today.”
For both of you, can you put in words what this win that was seven years in the making means to you?
Molk: “I mean, seven years really doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that we won today. That’s all that counts. This is a game that I played in. This is a game that we played in today --”
Denard: “Oh yeah.”
Molk: “And this means the world to us.”
Can you talk about the emotion of the last couple minutes when the touchdown got called back and then they had the ball?
Denard: “We just said we had to do it again. We have to try and score again. That’s it.
Molk: “Yeah, and just to relate to what he said. Obviously we’ve been through stuff like this [going] back to Notre Dame and games last year. This is something that we’re used to. We never give up. Doesn’t really matter what happens, we know how to fight through it.”
Denard, your center just said you weren’t going to be denied. It looked like you specifically on a lot of those runs weren’t going to be denied. Was that your mentality there?
Denard: “Yeah. I was out there playing for the seniors. I played my heart out, and the guys did too. That’s what happened.”
This was probably the most efficient performance of your career. What went into that?
Denard: “I was just doing what I had to do -- playing for the seniors and playing for Michigan.”
Molk: “He’s matured as a quarterback and matured as a player. That’s a natural progression when you get more games and more plays. He’s done great.”
Borges has talked about big plays being important to your offense. Can you comment on your ability to be a quick-strike offense?
Molk: “I mean, you always want to score as fast as possible. Depends on the situation, but I mean, hell, if you can get 60 yards or 20 yards whenever you want it -- I think that most of our plays can break like that. It just depends on how they’re blocked. If they’re blocked correctly, they can go.”
Can you talk about what Brady Hoke is trying to infuse in this team and program?
Molk: “He is us, we are him. I love him. I love how he coaches. I love his leadership ability and how he does it. I’d do anything for him.”
Ablauf: “Denard, do you want to answer that?”
Denard: “I guess he wants everybody to be accountable for everything we do. That’s what we do every time, all the time.”
Can you touch on why the running game was so effective today and throughout the season?
Denard: (points to Molk) “Big guys up front. They open holes, and me and Fitz run through the holes.”
Molk: “When you’ve got a guy that fast, he makes plays. Same with Fitz. Those two can hit a hole, and they know where to go, and they know how to read a defense throughout.”
Emotions of last couple minutes, same question as above.
Molk: “When the interception came, it was kind of a, ‘There it is.’ That’s what we needed to turn. That’s the momentum changer we needed to completely lock this game down. The defense stepped up. They did what they had to do when the time came. This was a team win. It wasn’t an offensive victory. This was a team victory against Ohio State.”
Can you touch on the fact that this is the first time in a long time that Michigan has had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season?
Molk: “I mean, it’s great. That’s a credit [to] our schemes as an offense. It’s a credit to Coach Borges. It’s a credit to Coach Hoke. It’s a credit to this guy.” (Puts arm around Denard) “It’s a credit to Fitz and the rest of our backs. It’s a credit to our receivers for blocking. It’s a credit to the offensive line for playing their heart out on every play.”
What does it mean to you as being one of the runners?
Denard: “I’m just glad to be in the offense. I’m glad to be playing with these guys. I want to be nowhere else but with these guys … I’m glad I stayed.”
For a senior class that’s gone through so much, how does it feel to finish the regular season like this?
Molk: “It couldn’t feel any better. Going through what we’ve gone through -- this is my third coach, third offensive coordinator, third O-line coach, third strength coach. It’s been a lot, and it’s been a rollercoaster that for some reason seemed like it would never get good. But you know what, we kept fighting. It’s just like the old saying goes, ‘Those who stay will be champions.’ We all stayed, we all stayed together, we all were one as a senior class, and we made sure our entire group -- our entire team -- stayed with us. That’s why we are where we are now. It feels great.”
Denard, this week you passed Tom Brady in career touchdown passes.
Denard: “I really don’t look at stats. I’m just glad to be a part of the team. Whatever happened that’s good for the team, that’s what I did.”
Where did that postgame celebration thingy come from?
Molk: “I mean, that’s something we’ve done every Friday. We have a little short practice, and at the end of the practice, we do our take-a-knee formation. Take a knee, we all get together, Denard throws the ball up to the ceiling, and once it hits, like a bomb explodes, we all fall.”
Your offensive coordinator took a lot of heat for the short-yardage call against Michigan State. Talk about his guts to come back to that play.
Molk: “I mean, he’s an offensive genius. I love how he calls plays. You could question some of them, but at the same time, they’re absolutely genius when they work. I love what he does.”
Ablauf: “You wanna say anything, Denard?”
Denard: “Same thing.”
Hoke made the senior day activities very personal. Was that somewhat of a surprise?
Molk: “I don’t know if it was necessarily a surprise. Then again, I haven’t seen the past senior day kind of things. That’s who Coach Hoke is. He’s a very personal coach. He’s almost a friend. If I ever came back 20 years from now, the first guy I’d find -- I’d call Coach Hoke. That’s who he is.”
Molk: “Kisses? I don’t let him kiss me.”
Hoke wasted no time building up this rivalry when he got here. Was there anything he said before, during, or after the game today that drove it home to you guys?
Molk: “I mean, I don’t think there wasn’t necessarily anything that he’s said other than preparation that he’s given us over the past 12 weeks for this entire season. It came down to what the seniors put out. I spoke to the team multiple times. Koger spoke to the team multiple times. We all put in our two cents and brought this team tightly together and focused on one goal: beating Ohio.”
How would you describe your feelings after playing your last game here?
Molk: “You know, like I just said with his question, it’s been a long time. We’ve been through a lot of stuff, but then again, in the end, you truly realize what this place means. The power that that block M has on your chest. I love Michigan. There’s no doubt about it. I don’t care what we had to go through. I love this school, I love this university, I love this team, I love my teammates, I love my coaches. This is great. This is what college football is. I’ll never forget it.”
If you reflect on the past year, how much more do you think you’ve thought about Ohio State than in previous years?
Molk: “Probably 1,000 times more. That was the foucs of everything. We said ‘Beat Ohio’ after every team meeting. We said ‘Beat Ohio’ after almost every team breakdown on the field. This is what we wanted, and we wanted to prove it and we did it.”
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen
OSU had more success against you than you probably expected, but can you talk about the defense making that last play at the end and having the game rest on your shoulders?
Van Bergen: “We were kind of, I think, as a defense, embarrassed that we had given up that original touchdown. We mixed up two coverages -- the exact same coverage -- twice. We feel like we let our offense down. Our offense performed spectacularly today. There’s no other word to describe it. They were excellent. Defensively, we’ve been excellent all year. We really wanted to be able to let the offense hand the ball off to us, so to speak, and let us take this game in for them, and we let them down once. We said, as we came over to the bench, ‘It’s not happening again. No way.’ Coach let us dial up a couple different things, let us run a couple stunts inside that were successful, and we came up with a big play.”
Did they do anything to surprise you or were they just a lot better than you thought?
Martin: “They’re a good team. They did a good job executing on their side of it, and they were successful with a few things. Defensively, we wish we wouldn’t have given up some things, but like I said, we made a few adjustments in the fourth quarter, and up front, with our line, running a few stunts and they were successful. We knew it was going to come down, and for it to come down for us defensively was something that we were going to put on our back and make sure we came through for this team.”
You guys have been here for a long time and have been through a lot. What’s your emotion right now?
Martin: “You know, the mix of the excitement of winning, and also this is my last game with this guy, the seniors, and this time, and this stadium -- it’s bittersweet, I guess I could say, but it’s a special place to be.”
Van Bergen: “I’d like to add to that. An amazing amount of pride -- that was one of the best team games we’ve played regardless of the score, regardless of the stats. The offense performed. Underclassmen, seniors, defense performed when they were asked to step up. I think me and Mike as seniors and leaders of this team couldn’t be more proud of all the guys. Every single player.”
How do you feel about finally getting it done against Ohio State on your last shot at them?
Van Bergen: “I think me and Mike would probably agree that we’ve been hoping since we were kids that we would get the opportunity to win a Michigan-Ohio game and it be on our backs. You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque situation as far as coach saying, ‘Ryan, Mike, Craig, and Jake, you guys do what you want up front. We’re going to play a coverage behind you, and hopefully you can get there with four men.’ Allowed us to that. Me and Mike had a pretty big play, I think on second down or something like that. It was amazing. It was the greatest feeling in the world.”
Can you talk about your legacy and what it means to you?
Martin: “You know, we’re just really caught up in this right now. That’s something we worked so hard to get to this point and make sure that we were successful and how much we’ve harped on this game. This was a big game for us and this program. For us to take this step as a team is huge and something we’re never going to forget. These fans and this fanbase will never forget, I think. Whatever happens, happens for the bowl game, and we’ll take that and look at that when the time comes.”
How big was the goal-line stop to force an OSU field goal?
Van Bergen: “I mean, it’s almost like it was a metaphor for our season. We’ll give up some plays, we’ll give up first downs, but you get us in a short yardage situation as a defense and make us feel like we’ve got our backs pinned up against it, we’re successful. We emphasize that. We practice it all the time. It’s been consistent, I think, throughout our season. Third and one, third and two, short yardage, you’re gonna try to run the ball on us? We’ve been good at it. And Jibreel Black -- give him credit, because he made a tremendous play on that boot. That’s probably one of the best plays I’ve ever seen him make. Being very disciplined against a really good athlete.”
Can you talk about your relationship with Coach Hoke as defensive linemen?
Martin: “I’ve grown so close to Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison as well. Coach Hoke, he coaches the nose guards a lot, so we sit in his office and we spend time with each other, watching film, whatever it might be. The guy really cares about this program and these guys, and he’s the most genuine coach that I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with and be coached by. I know Ryan and the rest of the guys on the team will say the same thing. He’s a guy that truly bleeds maize and blue and really cares about these guys. To get [the win] for him and this program and my fellow seniors, that’s what it’s all about.”
What was it like watching two touchdowns get wiped off the board at the end?
Van Bergen: “I swear, we have the most touchdowns called back on review. I don’t even like review anymore. You know, actually looking back at it, yeah I mean, it was disheartening, but at the same time, our defense had already made up its minds that we want this game to come down to being on us. The fact that it added a little pressure to us probably made us excel in that situation a little more. We probably would have been a bit more passive had we scored that touchdown. I think the aggression and the way we went out and came after the quarterback and jumped routes and stuff, I think we did a tremendous job with that.”
What was the mood like around the team on Friday?
Martin: “The most intense focus that this team has had the entire season. We’ve done a great job of preparing through the week, and that’s something that Coach has talked about since day one. We’ve done a great job from Sunday and Monday and all the way up to the game, preparing and doing whatever we can to make sure we’re successful. The guys on this team knew, like Coach says, ‘Whatever your role is, do it with the most intensity and the hardest and the best that you can.’ Each and every guy did that, and that’s what it came down to.”
Van Bergen: “Like Mike said, everybody was extremely intense, extremely focused. I would say we were perfectly at the edge of confident and cocky, meaning we were still on the confident side and we were full of confidence, but no one had underestimated or overlooked Ohio as a team. They’re a tremendous team, their record doesn’t indicate how good of a team they are, and yeah there’s hatred between the rivalries, but you have to respect an opponent. We had a good amount of respect for them -- just enough -- and we balanced that with confidence. You could sense there was a really good vibe going around on the team.”
Can you talk about the coaches allowing you to call your own plays on the defensive line?
Martin: “You know, I really just think it comes down that Coach has a lot of faith in us up front. The senior leadership up front, and for us to be able to communicate and recognize things, it’s on our part of being smart players. Ryan does a great job of recognizing things and echoing it down the line. When we do it together, it’s just something where Coach can give us the green light when it comes to certain situations. He has the faith that we’ll get the job done.”
Van Bergen: “I think our film study’s unparalleled throughout college football. We watch so much film we’re prepared for the play before it happens. I think we all do a great job with that defensively all around.”
You have seen a lot of Denard’s great games. Do you think this is one of the best games if not THE best game he’s ever played at Michigan?
Van Bergen: “I don’t know if I’d say it’s his best game he's ever played at Michigan. He’s had like 500 yards of total offense before. I don’t know what he had today, but you could tell that this game mattered big time to Denard. The way he ran that ball, you have not seen him run that ball the way he did with the style that he did in a while, just because he was getting first downs, moving the sticks, dropping shoulders. I couldn’t be more proud of him and the rest of the underclassmen who, you could tell, were just fighting with every breath they had for the upperclassmen, the seniors.
Martin: “I saw on one play, Denard lowered his shoulder like Ryan said, and I’m looking at Ryan like, ‘Man, look at this guy.’ I’m expecting him to do it, but the intensity he did it with and he had no doubt in his mind he was going to get the hard yards and the first downs and the touchdowns. Ryan’s like, we want to win, the guy wants to win. It’s just that feeling where everyone was pulling their weight and doing what they could do to make sure Michigan won today.”
How badly did Michigan need this win?
Van Bergen: “I want to say that Michigan probably needed this win to solidy what we did this season as a program. I didn’t want to say it before the game because I didn’t want to put the pressure on my teammates and stuff like that, but I think it solidifies what we’ve done this year as a team. This game is more than a win in the column. It’s bigger than that. It encompasses way more and our team feels like we finished the season. I think our team, all our teammates emphasized that. We finished the season and we went out the way we wanted to go out. We went 8-0 at home for the first time, I think, ever. Just amazing. So proud of everyone on the team. The team effort was amazing.”
What’s the last snapshot you take from Michigan Stadium today?
Martin: “I told someone earlier that Ryan and I and Will Heininger went out to the field after, and we just kind of stood out there and soaked it in and look at what this team had done. It’s special and it’s something that we’ll never forget that we did together.”
Van Bergen: “I think my biggest memory ever is going to be talking to Mike postgame -- me and Mike had a conversation. I’m not going to go into it, but just knowing that we accomplished what we accomplished and achieving that goal was huge for a lot of us.”
Kevin Koger and Jordan Kovacs
Can you talk about your touchdown catch as maybe the culminating moment of your career?
Koger: “I’ve always said my dream has always been to catch a touchdown in the Ohio State-Michigan game. I finally did that, so that means a lot to me and my family. It was a great play call. I was fortunate enough to slip inside the end and run to the corner wide open. Denard found me wide open. He could have run it, but I was so wide open I guess he found me.”
Kevin, what were some of things you said to the team as an Ohio guy this week?
Koger: “I mean, it’s different than any game we’ve played all season. It was definitely the most physical game I played in personally -- I can’t speak for everybody else. It was definitely a lot more physical and the mistakes we had earlier in the year, that wasn’t going to cut it. That wouldn’t have won us the game.”
Kevin, what was going through your head after the game was over? Did you think about guys you played with who never beat Ohio State?
Koger: “First and foremost I wanted to just find a teammate to celebrate with, and I found a lot of those. Guys were running around there crazy like a chicken with its head cut off. But just like the Martell Webbs of the world and the Jon Ferraras of the world that didn’t get a chance to beat Ohio State, hopefully they can live through us because we definitely did it for them and the team.”
Jordan, what were you struggling with as a defense today?
Kovacs: “Well we knew that they were going to be a tough offense to stop. Braxton Miller’s a great quarterback. He made some big plays, he’s going to make some plays for them in the future. I think he got loose a couple times, made some big plays, and defensive backs, we probably didn’t do a good enough job of keeping the ball inside and in front. We gave up a couple big plays. We had guys like Kevin on offense to bail us out and make some big plays for us. We’re excited about the win and we’ll take it. It wasn’t the prettiest, but it’ll do.”
Have either of you heard Hoke say the words “Ohio State”?
Koger: “Nope. Nope.”
Kovacs: “Haven’t heard it.”
Did he ever explain why?
Koger: “No. Just an unexplained mystery, I guess.”
Jordan, considering how much the defense struggled in this game, how excited were you to have that final defensive stand at the end, and was it appropriate the final play was intercepted by a defensive back?
Kovacs: “Right. As a defensive player you wouldn’t want it any other way. To be playing Ohio in the Big House, the defense has to make a stop. We had an opportunity to redeem ourselves and Courtney came up with the big play. At that point, I was kind of looking for the flag. I figured there’s got to be one coming. I ran to Courtney and celebrated, and it was an exciting win. It wasn’t pretty, like I said, but we’ll take it.”
Does this game and this season mean Michigan is back?
Kovacs: “We hope so, you know. We are excited with the 10-win season and beating Ohio, but there’s still work left to do. We strive to win Big Ten championships. We didn’t get that done, but we’re going to enjoy this win and we’re going to enjoy the bowl game.”
Koger: “What he said.”
(click the little pics for previous entries)
We're talking about these seniors. And I figure now's as good a time as any to specify exactly what we're thankful for. It's not simply loyalty to an institution: that for its own sake can lead to otherwise good institutions looking the other way when their members do awful things (see: MSU, OSU, PSU, SEC). Except for an extremely abstract and debatable conceptualization of Michigan as a "good guys" program, what our seniors have done by sticking through the "least rewarding Michigan careers in decades" is not a good because of a higher universal cause it served.
Whom it served was themselves (for they did get degrees), their fellow teammates who stayed, and most importantly for our purposes, us. We thank them for this because Michigan football, for reasons we can't quite articulate without sounding at least a little bit foolish, is massively, massively important to us. And while you can debate whether Michigan's football is—relatively or absolutely—a beacon of morality, or whether caring this much about the athletic derring do's of 22-year-olds is a healthy thing, what nobody is debating is that this thing called Michigan could have become something much less than it is today, and that these seniors, these seniors, saved it.
JUNIOR-JUNIOR JUNIOR JR.
Kenneth Earl "Junior" Hemingway had his own personal angry X–hating god. Services were split on him, depending on whether leaping (tremendous) or speed (sub-mendous) was the high school scout's attribute of choice. Part of that disagreement was, as you probably guessed, because of an injury his junior season. At times in his Michigan career Junior was sidelined with a bum shoulder, sometimes mononucleosis, sometimes a pulled hamstring, sometimes a sprained ankle, sometimes a sprained knee, sometimes an "abrasion," and sometimes another bum shoulder. And sometimes…
The mono struck shortly after that tantalizing catch in '08. Hemingway wasn't allowed to go near his teammates, except his roommate Mike Williams, and even then they had to label their videogame controllers so as not to spread the Junior juju. That was Junior's low point, but the resulting medical redshirt did give him this season (he played as a depth guy in '07).
A National Honor Society member and academic achievement winner, as the story goes (I haven't confirmed this but it matches most students' experiences including mine) he earned enough credits before the end of the '08 season to qualify for "junior standing," meaning Junior spent three years (academically, chronologically, redshirt-) as a junior, which I find fascinating. Possessed of remarkable body control, when Hemingway was available he was Michigan's go-to possession receiver who got tons of YAC, some inexplicable, some simply inconceivable:
"Junior always wants to make big plays," [Denard] Robinson said. "I think he's one of the best receivers in the country."
The same year Hemingway arrived, Michigan's offense transitioned to a zone running scheme. While MANBALL likes centers with enough mass to move massive nose tackles out of the hole, the perfect zone center is a guy who's really strong but also really nimble and really smart. A zone center who can get playside of a DT who's lined up playside of him, and seal that guy off—this is called a reach block—has pretty much created an instant 6 yards for the offense. It is also the hardest block for any offensive lineman to make. I learned this in October of 2008, when somebody first said that David Molk is the best offensive player on the team.
I have a thing for short people. My wife is a generous 5'0. Desmond Howard made me a Michigan fan. When Mike Hart graduated I never thought another player could ever displace him as all-time favorite Wolverine. Because football is weird the guy who would was already on the sidelines.
At one point Molk was a 5'6, 175-lb high school freshman. Then he discovered the weight room and it was love at first lift. Whereas most of Michigan's on-hand interior guys were a terrible fit for Rich Rodriguez's spread 'n shred and Barwis's legendary weight room, this hit-loving, high-motor, high-attitude, high-academic, low-elevation lineman was born for it.
In 2008 Molk never missed a single offensive play. The ones where he reached some dude and Brandon Minor went RAGE-ing into the secondary were interspersed with plays where the whittle guy got tossed into the backfield by various Ogbu monsters and inadvertently kicking Sheridan in the dong (3&O). Molk responded by getting stronger, winning the Iron Wolverine Award as the best-conditioned Michigan lineman. By his sophomore year he was a Lombardi and Rimington candidate and Michigan's offense came alive. Then he broke a foot against EMU, Moosman moved to center, and the offense wasn't as good. Molk came back from the foot (and surgery) for the first series against Penn State and Michigan went 70 yards in the opening scoring drive that consisted almost entirely of 7-yard gains. During that drive Molk tore a ligament in his knee, God canceled Christmas, and all things that ever happened again were the bad things.
If you are concerned that Molk's impending graduation means the dong-punching will start again, this is not an unreasonable fear.
Molk did return in '10—said he: "It's been almost eleven months. Somebody is going to pay."—and was a Rimington finalist and First Team All Big Ten, leading the way for Denard Robinson's Heisman candidate year despite more injuries that Molk refused to talk about. The one we knew knocked him out in the 3rd play versus Iowa. That hurt the rest of the year, though you'd never hear that from Molk. Here's a snapshot of Molk from half-time of the Wisconsin game:
David Molk decided to pull himself up, and he wanted his teammates to come up with him. They were slumped in their stalls, ready to concede, when he stood up and marched around the room. "Hey, Michigan! Are we fucking scared? Because we're playing like it! We are all on our fucking heels. ALL OF US!
"We gotta drop our fucking nuts and MAN UP! We are NOT lying down! We are NOT scared! We will fight! We will FIGHT! And we will GET AFTER THEM!
"Everyone STAND UP! Stretch out! I mean it!"
"Get up!" Van Bergen said, and they did.
"We're gonna hit 'em in the fucking face," Molk said, "and they'll cry! They'll bleed! NOW LET'S GO!"
The offence went out and played the best half against the Badgers that Wisconsin saw all year. But the defense played the worst and Michigan lost 45-28.
Then Rodriguez was fired. Despite the accolades Molk's stature and the NFL's style didn't make a jump to the pro's likely. Not that Molk ever thought about it…
"A lot of thigns had to happen to go 3-9—not because of the coach, but because of the transition. Every guy who had a chance to leave, left. That tore our team apart. We lost starters, backups, you name it. There were only half of us left.
"We're a family. I love all you guys. No matter how much shit I give you—I love you. If we don't' stay together, we'll never make it. This program stays together. I don't want to see anyone leaving. If you do, we'll be crappy for three more years.
"I love Coad Rod. He did everything he could. But now it rests on us."
JUST JUMP ALREADY … (after the jump)
UPDATE: Dangit. I forgot to pump this: the Blood Battle is going on RIGHT NOW. Defeat OSU, get cookies.
RIP Bo. Five years ago today.
Black and Blue. Hey, kids. That documentary about Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and Georgia Tech is being screened for free at the Ford Presidential Library at 7 on Friday. If you're not going to the hockey game, hit it up. I am, so I can't, but if anyone does end up going a review in the diaries would be nice.
I let do… wat? Demar Dorsey features in the Detroit News saying things that are unexpected:
The passion for such a goal runs so deep in Dorsey that he claims he would try out for the team as a walk-on if a scholarship isn't available.
"If I can get into the school, I know I'll find a way to make the team," he said. "Nobody knows how bad I want it." … "I'm in the same state!" Dorsey said. "Why would you miss out on your best shot in the state? C'mon, Brady Hoke!"
You'd think the cynical crap he got from the local media would have turned him off on the entire state, but I guess not. Guy has goals. Unfortunately, with Michigan's class near-full, its APR hovering in a dangerous zone, the coach who recruited him gone, and Dorsey still carrying academic question marks from his high school career, a reunion is exceedingly unlikely.
Too bad. I'd love to see certain local folks twist themselves into pretzels trying to contrast this version of Dorsey with the one that proved Rich Rodriguez was Mark Dantonio.
UPDATE II: Apparently Dorsey is a 2013 prospect, so it's somewhat less of a longshot. Still a longshot.
The bump. Ace mentioned this in the morning but it's worth repeating: Scout's latest rankings see three Michigan commits (Joe Bolden, Tom Strobel, and AJ Williams) rise significantly with only one (Kaleb Ringer) dropping. Conspiracy theories about Michigan commits dropping all the time should be shelved this year.
BONUS eeee recruiting accounting: Michigan currently has thirteen commits in the Scout 300—actually all in the top 250—and virtually everyone they're still pursuing is also amongst that number. It seems like the only way they won't end up with 17 is if they strike out on two of their three high-end WR targets and have to pick up a decent three star instead.
Marvin Robinson's lawyer: better than Jerry Sandusky's. The Robinson POV on his court thing:
Mason said Robinson already has an Xbox. In fact, he has two, Mason said. The student who reported the theft is an acquaintance of Robinson's, and Robinson has been in his room on "various occasions," Mason said. They trade Xboxes, he said. Mason, a U-M graduate, said it's not uncommon for a student to go into another student's room.
"I lived in Michigan dorms and I used to walk into my room and find people sitting there, watching TV," he said.
Robinson is going to cooperate with university police and Washtenaw County prosecutors, Mason said, adding that Robinson has no criminal record.
"He goes to class," he said. "He goes to study hall. He goes to practice. And he goes to church every Sunday with his mom and dad."
His hearing has been delayed until January. No idea if that's an accurate picture of the situation but I'm guessing Robinson is still on the team when this is resolved.
In 2062, this will be an article about Toledo. Apparently beating Michigan in 1962 was a big deal:
Bob Devaney earned his first signature victory on that sunny September afternoon in 1962, upsetting the Wolverines 25-13 in what was supposed to be, according to the Detroit Free Press, an “opening-day breather” for the home team.
The rest is history.
Michigan went 2-7 in 1962.
Van Bergen FTW. A bit more on Van Bergen's stunt stunt last weekend, and the study that generates it, from the Daily:
Every Tuesday, the coaches hand out the scouting reports. Van Bergen usually finds the tendencies and play consistencies watching film on his own. Sometimes he’s right, and sometimes Montgomery has to straighten him out. The answers are always in the binder. In practice, the scout team gives the defense simulations of what they’ll see in the game.
“It goes from there to the game,” Montgomery said. “ ‘Hey Coach, this holds up. Every time they do this, it’s accurate.’ Then they start to believe.” …
Van Bergen knew Iowa was going to sneak its quarterback when it hurried up to the line on a fourth-and-1 two weeks ago — he and Martin snuffed it out.
The past three weeks in particular, Montgomery said, Van Bergen has been well versed in the opponent’s “meat and potatoes” (Hoke’s term for tendencies and key plays).
No wonder they’ve been his best three weeks of the season — 13 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
He knew what play Purdue was going to run in the shadow of its own endzone, based on a tip — alignment, personnel, formation or all the above. He told Martin, who then ripped through the line for a safety because he knew what was coming.
Unless he has a long NFL career (not entirely out of the question), Van Bergen is going to be defensive line Mike Hart as soon as he graduates—the guy everyone follows in his coaching career, hoping he returns.
I was listening to the BSD podcast this week for various reasons mostly having nothing to do with football, but I did get a football tidbit when they had Ramzy from Eleven Warriors on. He mentioned that you can pick out OSU passing plays because their n00b receivers only look at their wristbands when it's a pass. That'll probably get hammered out by the time the Game rolls around; given the widespread antipathy for Bollman OSU will probably be tipping things in ways not so easily addressable.
More Van Bergen. I like Ryan Van Bergen.
"The year my class came here was after the 1 versus 2 Ohio (State) game and Michigan went to the Rose Bowl," Van Bergen said, referring to the 2006 season. "That was my expectation — we're going to play Ohio to go to the Rose Bowl every year I'm here. I was going to have coach (Lloyd) Carr for my whole time here, and it was going to be great.
"The amount of adversity that has been encountered by this senior class, especially the fifth-year guys, I'd be hard-pressed to find another group that has survived and now thrives in that situation. I don't know how much people even realize how dedicated these guys were."
"I guessed three times it was going to be a pass just by their formation, and I was right all three times. So I was like, 'You know what? Eff this, I'm doing it.' Mike went with me. He jumped in and it was successful."
(Angelique bowdlerized "eff this" to "forget this"; Heiko reports that it was "Eff" but not the full Molk.)
What’s Nebraska’s greatest position strength? Greatest weakness?
It’s not really a matter of position strength as it is a matter of depth and experience. It’s kind of a catch 22 for NU right now. NU’s best defensive player is a linebacker, Lavonte David. And, Will Compton has steadily improved. So, its a strength, right? The problem is they are very weak/thin at linebacker after those two. The same could be said for the secondary. Alfonzo Dennard is a stud, and they all feed off of him. At times, they play well. At others, they are very suspect. It’s the same story at running back – a strength because Burkhead is stud, potential weakness because it’s only freshman behind him. When he got nicked up against Northwestern, it hurt the offense a lot.
As far as a a true strength for NU, I can’t overstate how much quality special teams play has helped the Huskers so far this year. Brett Maher’s punting was important last week. He’s done a great job as a kicker this year too. The NU return game has been strong too. That’s the stuff that quietly helps win games.
Tight ends: pro-style requirements. Today in "quoting everything Chris Brown writes" we focus on tight ends. You may remember an emailer questioning Michigan's decision to take Pharaoh Brown as a tight end because defensive ends seem more valuable. I wrote then:
I get the vibe that tight end is going to be a big deal with Borges. If we're headed to a collection-of-plays Boise-style offense, having a diverse set of tight ends is a key component. Having a 6'6" guy who can run some is a major help in your effort to whiplash the defense from huge power running sets to spread passing attacks. What do you do when the opposition has a guy who can block a defensive end but can't be covered by a linebacker? Brown may be that guy.
Now Brown tackles the transformation of the Patriots offense from a full-spread passing attack back to something approximating NFL norms:
[In response to Rex Ryan blitzing his spread to death] Belichick went out and drafted [tight ends] Gronkowski and Hernandez.
Hernandez is more of a pure receiver, and his chief advantage is as a substitution/personnel problem: If he's in the game, you don't know if he'll line up as a tight end or if he'll split wide so that Welker can play the slot, forcing you to decide whether to put your cornerback on Welker or Hernandez, potentially creating advantages in both the run and passing game. But Gronkowski is a true triple-threat from the tight-end spot: He can block, he can go out for passes, and he can even block and then go out for delayed passes. Multiple defenders have to keep their eyes on him. And against such a threat, Ryan can't sell out with the multifarious blitzes overloaded to one side or the other, simply in an all-out effort to get Tom Brady. The presence of the tight ends—where will they line up, what will they do—dictates terms back to Rex Ryan, who would much rather cut loose and go on carrying his father's torch as the destroyer of pretty-boy quarterbacks.
Having Brown, Devin Funchess, and AJ Williams* in one class isn't overkill if a two-TE set is going to be the closest thing to a base offense Michigan has, and if you can split out a 6'6" dude like Brown that makes the whiplashing even whiplashier. There are a lot of things to get excited about in this recruiting class but the diverse, athletic set of tight ends they acquired is high on my list.
*[I know a lot of people are talking up Williams as a tackle. I think that's a possible endpoint for him but if that move ends up happening it won't be soon. Michigan will need him to play as a freshman.]
Etc.: Extensively reported NYT piece on Penn State makes McQueary look a little better, everyone else look worse. The NCAA left its SharePoint site open to the public for a while. Can't go two weeks in the Michigan blogosphere without someone posting some latin. BWS picture pages the Ryan/Kovacs speed option destruction.
Formation notes: They did the usual 4-3 under stuff and went to a nickel package against spread sets. On passing downs the seven-guys-on-the-line okie package was a frequent deployment; on short yardage we saw the return of the Beyer/Ryan 4-4 under.
Then they did some weird stuff. If this looks a bit like a 3-3-5, yeah, sort of :
That's clearly a pass defense D with the ends lined up outside of the tackles and both the spur/bandit-type dudes on the strong side of the formation, ready to drop into man coverage.
This is another exotic pass defense featuring nose tackle Mike Jones (serious) and DT Craig Roh (also serious):
Illinois ran at this; Jones and Roh actually forced the play behind them into tacklers; pile fell forward for five.
Personnel notes: Secondary was Floyd/Countess/Kovacs the whole way and mostly Woolfolk but Gordon did pop up from time to time; I'm pretty sure Woolfolk left permanently on the Scheelhaase touchdown since he seemed to aggravate one of his many available injuries. Avery was the nickelback; when Floyd cramped up briefly he moved outside onto Jenkins and Gordon came in at nickel.
Demens and Morgan went the whole way at LB; Ryan played most of the game but gave way to Beyer a little.
The line was mostly the usual RVB/Heininger/Martin/Roh setup with cameos from Black, Clark, and Campbell. Brink got some plays at the tail end.
Show? Show. W00t.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form twins||4-3 over||Penalty||N/A||False start||--||-5|
|O15||1||15||I-Form twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA scramble||Woolfolk||1|
|Iso fake draws heavy attention but Scheelhaase only has two options in the route and they must both be covered(+2). I find that hard to believe but I'm guessing Woolfolk(+2) jumped the corner route behind Countess and convinced Scheelhaase to scramble. Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) misses a tackle that would have been a sack, giving up three or four yards.|
|O16||2||14||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||5||Hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|M shows a blitz from Morgan on the outside. Illinois checks, Michigan still runs it. It's picked up. All short routes; Scheelhaase goes to Jenkins on a five yard out that Floyd(+2, cover +2) breaks up. Prelude to ownage.|
|O16||3||14||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Throwaway||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1, pressure +2) dives inside on a stunt that gets the Illinois OL. He gets held a little and ends up falling just short of the QB's feet (I might be done typing Scheelhaase); Martin(+0.5) runs after to contain, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O14||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Triple option keeper||Van Bergen||3|
|Kovacs rolls down for an eighth guy. M gets lucky here. RVB(+1) stays on QB throughout the play; Ryan(-2) dives inside the slot receiver and gives up the corner. He's got to have the pitchman here. This should be a pitch for a big gain. Instead QB tries to beat RVB one on one and can't do it. Still a decent gain because M had destroyed the dive, which fine.|
|O17||2||7||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||Long handoff||Countess||6|
|Countess(-1, tackling -1) comes up a little hard and to the inside and ends up getting stiffarmed as Jenkins breaks to the outside. He does manage to delay Jenkins long enough for Ryan(+0.5), flowing hard from the inside, to tackle before the sticks.|
|O23||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Iso||Martin||-1|
|Beyer/Ryan package. Heininger(+1) drives his OL a couple yards into the backfield. Martin(+2) takes a pop from the center and still does the same to the backside G, putting him on his knees at the LOS and forcing a cutback. This screws up the blocking angles and forces Ford back into Ryan(+1, tackling +1), who came down to the LOS on the snap and took a good angle into the backfield; RVB(+1) beat a block and comes into help prevent any YAC. RPS +1 for the slant forcing the play back into an unblocked player.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 2back trips||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Triple option dive||Heininger||0|
|Covered slot receiver. Michigan aligns differently than normal with DTs over the guards and Illinois runs a triple option. QB hands off since DE is on him and Countess is hanging on the pitch. Dive goes nowhere thanks to Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) blasting single blocks back; Roh(+0.5) comes in from the side to finish Pollard after he confirms the give was made.|
|O23||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Drag||Roh||Inc|
|Roh and Black your DEs. Kovacs rolls down. Straight dropback. Illinois looking for the drag; Roh(+1, pressure +1) beats the tackle to the outside and is held; no call. This along with Black(+0.5) falling at the QB's feet causes some shuffling and a back-foot throw that ends up going wide of Jenkins. Completion likely if accurate but Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) seemed to have this locked down for a not so big gain.|
|O23||3||10||Ace 3-wide||Okie||Run||N/A||Down G||Van Bergen||5|
|Scheelhaase checks from a shotgun formation to an inside run out of ace. They're trying to run at the middle of the line as Morgan drops out into a zone; Martin(+1) fights inside a pulling guard—mismatch—and RVB(+1) comes off a block when the second guy moves downfield. Those two combine to tackle for a meh gain.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA curl||Woolfolk||7|
|Beyer in. Illinois runs PA. Play develops with no LBs underneath the Jenkins comeback; QB fires it to him. Immediate tackle from Woolfolk(+0.5, tackling +1) and Countess(+0.5). Coverage push, pressure -1.|
|O27||2||3||I-Form||4-3 under||Penalty||--||False start||--||-5|
|O22||2||8||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||5||Hitch||Floyd||14|
|Kovacs rolls to a slot receiver as M shows one high. Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat on a ten-yard hitch and can't tackle on the catch. He has to set up and gives up a few more in the name of being safe.|
|O36||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Stop and go||Floyd||Inc|
|RB motions out into the slot. Michigan sends Beyer off the edge, dropping Roh; stoned. (Pressure -2) QB has all day to pump and then chuck deep. He ends up throwing it away because Floyd(+2, cover +2) was over the top of a double move to the point where throwing it was stupid.|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Ryan||0|
|Ryan(+2) momentarily dives down but recovers impressively to force Scheelhaase outside, outside, outside. Floyd(+1) beats a Jenkins block to slow him, whereupon Ryan tackles from behind.|
|Okie package gets the Illinois OL to bust (pressure +2, RPS +2). Martin(+0.5) gets a free run. Scheelhaase actually gets a pass off and completes it but it's off and takes the WR off his feet. Demens(+1) was there to tackle if necessary.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O5||1||10||I-Form Big||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Iso||Heininger||7|
|Not entirely sure what the problem is here. Both DTs only take single blocks; Martin fights through his to almost kill this in the hole but can't quite. Morgan takes on the FB basically at the LOS and does funnel to the inside but Demens is getting blocked out of the play since the DTs have not absorbed an extra guy between them. I think this is on Heininger(-1) as the playside DT he's not absorbing a double and doesn't even get an arm-tackle attempt. You would like Morgan(-0.5) to get this closer to the LOS and Demens(-0.5) to not get sealed away totally but they both have tough jobs. RB into the secondary, where Kovacs(+3, tackling +2) puts his helmet on the ball and gets Michigan a turnover.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 5 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA Hitch||Countess||Inc|
|Scheelhaase clearly late on a lot of these by now but Countess(+2, cover +2) is still there for a quality PBU on a pass that could have been intercepted.|
|O32||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||3||Drag||Countess||Inc|
|This may be batted but there's no replay so can't be sure. Demens(-1, cover -1) does get way out of position on another WR's route, dragging well into Morgan's zone. Countess(-1, cover -1) appears to make the same error he did against Iowa, and if Jenkins catches this it's a first down and maybe a bunch more. Jenkins has to delay because the umpire gets in the way; incomplete. Lucky.|
|Okie set gets Ryan(+1) and Demens(+1) roaring at the QB with one guy to block them (pressure +3, RPS +3); Van Bergen(+1) comes off a block to help sack when Scheelhaase understandably bugs out. QB overwhelmed by three guys on a four man rush == +3.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Morgan||7|
|Good time on a four man rush (pressure -1). QB has time to survey and fire to a TE for about nine; Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) puts him down immediately. Given situation coverage fine.|
|O28||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Yakety snap||--||-14|
|O14||3||17||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Down G||Van Bergen||1|
|RVB(+1) shoots inside a downblock and gets enough penetration to force Ford well upfield; Roh is out there on the bounce but gets shoved past the play. Still, that took a long time. Martin flows down the line and forces Ford behind; Avery(+0.5, tackling +1) makes a nice low tackle that takes Ford to the ground immediately. Fumble is ruled but overturned, which costs Michigan seven important seconds. Irritating.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EOH.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA out||Kovacs||12|
|Kovacs(-1) hesitates on the play action and only belatedly shoots out on his zone; with the outside WR going deep Countess has other responsibilities. Out open, easy pitch and catch (cover -1, pressure -1)|
|O32||1||10||Pistol twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Martin||11|
|Reading RVB; he stays responsible and the handoff is made. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his block and Heininger(-1) gets penetration too far upfield, so Illinois gets a crease without doubling any DL. This means LBs are getting thumped; Morgan(-1) is the guy on the playside gap and he starts moving to the LOS before actually stalling and taking a step back before being engulfed. RB into the secondary. Demens(-0.5) also caught a block.|
|O43||1||10||Ace twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Down G||Campbell||2|
|QB checks into an ace from the same pistol set they just ran. Campbell(+1) takes the guy downblocking him and ends up driving him into the backfield, forcing Pollard away from blocking; the playside G is pulling around outside but Pollard isn't going out there. Live I thought this was a missed cut; on tape it's clear this would be a ++ move from the back to cut up and then immediately back out. So Morgan(+2, tackling +2) gets credit for powering through his blocker and decleating Pollard.|
|O45||2||8||Pistol 3-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Speed option||Kovacs||-4|
|Ryan(+2) reads the option action and tears ass for the QB, leveling him just as he pitches. FB makes a mistake, peeling back on Ryan in a hopeless chase, and this opens up Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) to do the thing he does by taking a good angle at speed; Pollard cuts inside and gets TFLed. Martin(+1) had blown through blocking and was there to help if necessary, which is crazy impressive.|
|O41||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie||Pass||4||Sack||Van Bergen||-12|
|RVB(+2) splits two blockers confused by the okie package; Clark(+1) gets a good drive on a tight end to prevent any lane to move upfield, and Ryan jumps on the QB's back for very large sack. This was a six-man protection on which the QB had zero chance to even look at read one. Pressure +3, RPS +3.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 3rd Q. Riley O'Toole gets the next Illinois drive.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace twin TE||4-3 over||Pass||6||PA TE Flat||Morgan||7|
|Roh ends up free on the edge and gets some decent pressure; this means a TE has released behind him and O'Toole hits him for a decent gain; Morgan(+0.5) reads it pretty well and escorts the guy OOB to prevent a significant one.|
|O32||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||RB flat||Martin||Inc|
|Martin(+2, pressure +2) beats two blockers and roars up the middle of the pocket, forcing a terrible throw Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in a better spot to catch than the RB flaring out.|
|O32||3||3||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||Quick out||Floyd||Inc|
|Quick throw does not allow time for pressure; Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there with a play on a well thrown ball (but not a great one); Toole's ball is too far outside and not caught.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||Martin||12 (Pen-10)|
|Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) pressure(+1) Scheelhaase, forcing a scramble up into the pocket that picks up some yards but probably would have been a sack but for Martin(+1 again) drawing a holding call. Demens(-1) gave up the outside here and turned this from a few into a hypothetical first down.|
|O15||1||20||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||Martin||8|
|Here Martin(-1) gets shoved out his lane without actually getting to the QB; Black(-0.5) gets shoved way upfield, albeit by a double (pressure -1); Scheelhaase can find no one (cover +1) and runs for a good gain. This time Demens is blocked out of the play.|
|O23||2||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Dime even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Jones||5|
|Mike Jones lined up as the NT. Yeah, I know. Roh the DT. Yeah. Daring Illinois to run; they run. Jones(+1) actually drives the center back(!), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who slanted inside and gets a tackle attempt. He's getting blocked and the attempt is run through; it gives Michigan time to rally to the ball and hold the play down. RPS -1? I don't even know. I guess not.|
|Scheelhaase looking for an out Avery(+1, cover +1) has covered well enough to dissuade; Countess the other guy over there on the deeper route. Zone blitz is coming through now to the outside with Demens(+1) beating a block; Ryan(-1, pressure -1) is out of his lane and allows Scheelhaase to run straight upfield. Martin and Morgan are there to catch him after about five but the pile manages to surge forward just over the line. Impressive power by Scheelhaase.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Plenty of time (pressure -1); Illinos goes four verts and everyone is covered(+3); Floyd(+1) is step for step with Jenkins and would have a play on the ball if it was accurate. It's not.|
|O35||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Avery||14|
|Plenty of time (pressure -2) without Martin in the game; Avery(+0.5) is actually in pretty good coverage here, forcing a throw high and to the sideline that is executed. Made it tough.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Back shoulder fade||Floyd||Inc|
|Too much time (pressure -1), though the pocket isn't as clean on this outing. Floyd is in press and they test him deep; he is step for step. He can't quite adjust to the back-shoulder fade but this is still a +1, cover +1 because it required a DO and tough catch to complete. This is basically unstoppable if you can execute it. Illinois thinks they do but on replay it turns out they do not—Jenkins juggled it.|
|O49||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie||Pass||6||Slant||Floyd||Inc (Pen+8)|
|Michigan sends six and is getting there but not in time to prevent a throw here. Floyd(-1, cover -1) picks up a legit PI call for arriving too early but I don't mind this. Much better than arriving late and you don't always get this call on you.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie||Pass||6||TE out||Morgan||11|
|Late blitz from a very deep Kovacs; Morgan(-1) gets a chuck on a dragging WR but does let him past into open space since this is raw man coverage. Scheelhaase hits the guy and he can turn up for some YAC. Pressure -1, cover -1. Morgan does make a good tackle(+1).|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Martin||0|
|Kovacs rolled up for a seventh guy in the box. Martin(+1) surges through the line and forces it outside. Roh(+0.5) forces it further outside by getting inside and diving at Ford's legs; Kovacs(+0.5) is out there containing. Ford turns it up directly into a scraping, tackling(+1) Demens.|
|M32||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack?||Pass||7||Slant||Avery||Inc|
|This is kind of stack-y but not really with two pass-rush aligned DEs, three guys in man on the WRs, and both overhang safety types to the same side of the field. M sends every damn body. QB is about to eat Kovacs(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5, pressure +2) as he chucks. He's got a WR on a slant in front of Avery(+1, cover +1), who's tackling on the catch and making life difficult. He may rake the ball out. We can only say may because the WR runs into another Illini WR and goes down as if he'd taken a shot from Reggie Nelson.|
|M32||3||10||Shotgun empty||3-2-6 dime||Pass||5||Tunnel screen||Morgan||19|
|Michigan gets RPSed here with five guys blitzing and no one thinking to peel back. Line is Campbell, Demens, and Roh... so... yeah. Morgan(-1, cover -1) doesn't read the WR screen quickly at all and gets easily blocked; Floyd(-1) is getting blocked but shouldn't let the WR outside like he does. Big gain. RPS -2.|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Clark||13|
|Clark(-3) forms up, then decides Ford has the ball after Scheelhaase pulls it. This opens up the corner; DBs are in man and not in any position to help. Woolfolk(-1) may be able to tackle before the endzone but pulls up gimpy and can't make it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, EO3Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Comeback||Floyd||Inc|
|Scheelhaase has this open for a first down and just misses it. Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten. Pressure was getting there.|
|O38||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Penalty||--||Offsides||Martin||5|
|O43||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Martin||3|
|Martin(+2) drives his guy so far into the backfield that he impacts the runner three yards behind the LOS; this delay allows Black(+0.5) to flow down and tackle after keeping contain on Scheelhaase. Wish the LBs did a little more here.|
|O46||3||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Black||8|
|Black(-3) does the same thing Clark did on the last play, diving down on the back after the mesh point. Juice Williams ninja ballfake reprise.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Morgan||2|
|Belly play where the backside DT is getting doubled off the ball. RVB(+0.5) does an okay job holding up; Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) react quickly enough to remove creases. Martin(+0.5) flows down the line to tackle after his second blocker releases into Morgan.|
|M44||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Drag||Roh||4|
|DT stunt gets Martin(+0.5) in thanks to RVB(+0.5) threatening to dart past the G. Roh(+1) beats the tackle straight up and Scheelhaase is about to get destroyed(pressure+2) and has to let it go. He's got a quick drag from his TE that Demens(+1, cover +1) is there for an instant tackle on.|
|Kovacs late blitz; he is moving right into Scheelhaase's face as he throws but may get blocked. Pressure push. Floyd(+4, cover +3) is breaking on the ball as the WR cuts his route off and picks the ball off; he is one avoided Scheelhaase tackle from a pick six. Monster play.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 17-7, 10 min 4th Q. M scores and Illinois gets it back with 10 minutes left down three scores, which informs Michigan's defensive style. I'll keep it in mind as I chart Comeback Ishtar.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||Waggle scramble||Roh||9|
|Roh(+0.5) cuts off the corner but gets pushed past the play. QB can't find anyone (cover +1) as he rolls up and scrambles; Demens(-0.5) is not reacting very well and ends up running into a guy trying to block Martin as Scheelhaase cuts behind. RVB tackles from behind.|
|O29||2||1||Shotgun 2TE twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||Improv comeback||Heininger||12|
|Heininger(+1, pressure +1) beats an OT around the corner(!) and is held; no call. This does flush Scheelhaase up; Ryan tries to disconnect from his guy and is held as well, so Scheelhaase can fire to a Jenkins comeback for the first. Instant tackle. Cover -1. Refs -2.|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 2TE twins||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Morgan||3|
|Morgan is over the slot; w/ Roh tucked inside the TE there basically is no backside DE. Scheelhaase pulls as Morgan(+1) comes down on the run. Morgan jukes the TE coming out on him, sliding past the block and forcing the QB to cut up into Demens(+1, tackling +1), who puts him on the turf in space.|
|O44||2||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Floyd||6|
|Illinois lets 27 seconds run off the clock after the play. RT falls; Roh gets a free run. Martin(+1) and RVB(+1) have again stunted and get in Scheelhaase's face (pressure +2). He has to throw hot. That's to the RB leaking out of the backfield. He catches it; Floyd(+0.5) and Morgan tackle(+1) the guy short of the sticks in bounds.|
|50||3||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Iso||Campbell||0|
|Cambpell(+3) in at the nose. He drives the center back and does not give ground when the FB impacts the block. RB cuts back and he sheds, making impact in the backfield. Heininger(+2) beats a blocker as well and is there to help; Roh(+0.5) is getting his body in the way as well. Dang third and one. Dang Campbell.|
|50||4||1||Goal line||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Demens||1|
|Roh gets sent inside by the TE as M's interior line prepares for something in there; Illinois is going outside the tackle. Not a big problem and he does have awareness to spin back outside. Beyer(+0.5) takes on a kickout block in a pretty good place; Morgan(+1) gets the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside. Demens(+0.5) scrapes over and makes contact with Ford in the hole but can't get square to him and Ford just manages to fall forward. Even when they make it it's not easy.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Floyd||1|
|Happy feet; no immediate pressure for the line but Scheelhaase goes to the RB dumppoff; Floyd(+1, tackling +1, cover +1) is there on the catch to tackle in bounds for a meh gain.|
|M48||2||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Throwaway||Kovacs||Inc|
|Scheelhaase fires OOB; seems he didn't have an immediately open guy and I think he does not trust his OL to go to the next read. Kovacs(+1, cover +1) over the top as this s again Floyd vs Jenkins. Another cover +1 for good stuff everywhere else.|
|M48||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie||Pass||4||Improv comeback||Martin||12|
|Martin(-1) gets a free run but for the peeling back, who chops him to the ground. This lets Scheelhaase outside the pocket, where he can wait and zip it to Jenkins in a lot of space (cover -1, pressure -2).|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dig||Gordon||Inc|
|Backups on the DL give Scheelhaase a lot of time (pressure -2); he steps into a deep in to his tight end that Gordon(+2, cover +2) breaks on and nails on the catch. I think this is complete but it's ruled to not be so; in any case this is a safety making life as hard as possible for a WR.|
|M36||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie||Pass||4||Improv comeback||Van Bergen||Inc|
|Okie business gets RVB(+1, pressure/RPS +1) through the line, whereupon he jerks back as if held; no call. Scheelhaase has to scramble and gets the corner; Roh is coming hard and he has to throw. It's back across his body to Jenkins with Floyd coming hard but not quite there to make a play; ball is too far out in front and eventually dropped. Floyd cramps up and has to come off briefly.|
|M36||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Sack||Roh||-16|
|Four man rush annihilates, with Roh(+2, pressure +4) roaring around the corner as Clark(+2) does the same and a stunt gets RVB(+1) up the middle; with nowhere to go Scheelhaase tries to back out and is engulfed.|
|O48||4||26||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Post||Clark?||32|
|Scheelhaase has time and steps through the line, which is bad because it makes this into fourth and 16 instead of fourth and 26 (pressure -3). RVB(-2) and Clark(-2) get way outside. Martin does too but he is stunting and supposed to. Would like Mattison to have a guy close to the LOS on a delayed blitz to prevent this; no dice. Scheelhaase steps up and rifles it to Jenkins in front of Kovacs(cover -2); this is really all about letting Scheelhaase through the line and not pressuring him at all.|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||TE Drag||Demens||5|
|Michigan in man so this is a tough cover with a sort of pick route taking Demens a little off an ideal path. He still gets in position to force this OOB after an okay gain. Cover push, Demens +0.5.|
|M15||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Morgan?||11|
|Scheelhaase keeps and sees Clark has kept contain this time; he screwed up. So he just runs the RB's play. This works so well I think M should put it in the playbook. Michigan defends the RB fantastically but this pulls RVB out of the middle of the field as he tackles his assignment. Morgan(-1) takes on a block and doesn't shed it; he's really the only guy with a shot at holding this down and can't do it. Scheelhaase into the secondary, where Kovacs forces him into a good tackle from Countess(+0.5, tackling +1). RPS -1?|
|M4||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||N/A||3|
|Going backside and with no scrape it is really hard to hold this down without giving up contain on the QB. Clark keeps contain and then comes down, making a good play to tackle as the guy passes the LOS but this can't prevent him from picking up three. I won't RPS this but I kind of want to.|
|M1||2||G||Ace 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB sneak||Martin||1|
|They don't get it. RVB(+1) and Martin(+1) are basically the whole play. Illinois does get a yard, but they needed slightly more than one.|
|M1||3||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||N/A||1|
|They get it.|
|Drive Notes: Pyrrhic touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 4th Q. Oh, all right, I'll do the last one because it's fun.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Sack||Van Bergen||-8|
|M stunt gets Martin(+1) and RVB(+2) through (pressure +3) and RVB gets there first. Two guys block air and one tries to block Martin.|
|O12||2||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||TE out||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets driving pressure that forces Scheelhaase out of the pocket; Scheelhaase has a TE breaking open but has to float it because underneath coverage(+1) is there and overshoots.|
|O12||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||5||Scramble||Martin||1|
|Avery comes from the corner; Martin(+1, pressure +1) shoves a tackle into him and then bursts upfield. Scheelhaase can scramble out because of some dudes falling and stuff, but cannot find anyone open(cover +1); Avery comes back to tackle. Would be a sack but the guy manages to fall over the line.|
|Drive Notes: Punt. 31-14, EOG|
So who do we pick up next?
We have Woodson. Now we need to go back to medieval Europe or ancient Greece to pick up babes and/or Socrates.
Wouldn't it be better to go get other people who can play football?
Do we need any?
I don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself when there's a three play series on which:
- Morgan decleats the RB in such a way as to get Craig James hootin'.
- Ryan decleats the QB on a speed option in such a way as to get the stadium going "ohhhhhhhh I hope he's not dead."
- Later on that same play Kovacs makes a textbook tackle in space.
- Ryan Van Bergen roars up the middle of the pocket and jumps on Scheelhaase's back like he expects to round up cattle on the sideline.
It almost can't be real. By the time the punter hit the field I was afraid I would wake up to someone rubbing a beaver in my face.
No… no… NONONONO… It was all a dream… no… no… I want to go back
So we're totally getting ahead of ourselves, right?
We have to be. I mean, last week's performance was exactly acceptable and we were happy with this. We are not the '86 Bears. We must not get hopes up. Illinois couldn't score on Purdue until there were 10 minutes left.
Hopes are totally up.
I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. I can only point you towards the most insane, ridiculous, beaver-pelt-laden congregation of numbers I may have purveyed in the history of doing this. I present
|Van Bergen||14.5||2||12.5||To be fair, two points in garbage time. HAHAHAHA|
|Roh||9||-||9||Oh… oh wow.|
|Heininger||5||2||3||Didn't get in on the sack explosion largely because he's lifted in the nickel.|
|Clark||3||3||0||Zone read WTF was kind of magnificent. More later.|
|Black||1||3.5||-2.5||Other guy to WTF a zone read.|
|Campbell||4||-||4||Time to get excited about him again until next week.|
|TOTAL||55.5||13.5||42||That is nuts.|
|Morgan||5.5||4.5||1||Step forward from last week; still freshman.|
|Demens||7.5||3.5||4||Second consecutive solid game. Pretty good in coverage.|
|Ryan||6.5||3.5||3||Showed the guys above how to do it on the zone read.|
|Jones||1||-||1||Charts as a DT. HAHAAHAH|
|TOTAL||21||12.5||8.5||I'll take it from two freshmen and a junior.|
|Floyd||14.5||3||11.5||You think the DL is nuts, Floyd thinks. I'll show you nuts.|
|Avery||3||-||3||Good day. Quality option as a third guy.|
|Woolfolk||2.5||1||1.5||Floyd made him not entirely necessary. May still be hurt.|
|Kovacs||7||1||6||Forced fumble, good tackling, is Kovacs.|
|T. Gordon||2.5||-||2.5||Thumping hit forced technical incompletion.|
|Countess||3||2||1||Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.|
|Pressure||31||18||13||Stunts and okie annihilated OL.|
|Tackling||13||2||87%||I can't even remember a broken tackle.|
So… yeah. There is something seriously wrong with the Illinois offense. There has to be, because you can't do the above without the offense helping you out quite a bit. I think Scheelhaase is perpetually late on his throws, and that they're tipping their passes, and that their offensive line is a total sieve. All that makes their offense really, really bad.
Even so… good gravy. Michigan had two DL at Brandon Graham levels of performance and a third not far off. I can't remember any cornerback ever hitting double digits before, and I can't remember a near 75% coverage day. I'm usually happy when coverage is a push. On Saturday, this is what they did to four verts:
There's a dude behind the one slot guy that you think might be open. He is not open. No one is open.
That is easily the best performance since 2006.
Word. Guy may not be the fastest player in the world but has he been beaten deep once this year? Not really. Michael Floyd got a 30-yard fade on him but even on that play he was there making life difficult and I +1ed him. He's had problems in run support… okay. He just spent a day breaking up a ton of short stuff, never getting threatened deep…
…and putting the cherry on top:
Even when Jenkins did get something on him it was often tough:
That guy is right on the sideline, which contributes to the overturn when he juggles it. If that's what Floyd's giving up, okay. I'll take that and a PI on which you broke for the ball too early.
These posts have started off cautious, moved towards "I know you won't believe this but…," and are now at a crossroads. People: JT Floyd is a legitimately good Big Ten corner. If he maintains this level of performance the last two weeks he should get consideration for All Big Ten.
TONY GIBSON MINUS ALL OF THE POINTS
Minus all of the points.
Are we at Alan MFin' Branch levels on third and one yet or what?
Not quite, but sort of yes. Alan MFin' Branch levels:
You can see 6'6", 330 of angry New Mexican hauling the tail end of that graph down like a black hole in spacetime. That's Alan Branch. 33 percent! On third and one! Six of eighteen! SIX OF EIGHTEEN!
Seth did the legwork for this year on Tuesday and came up with 44%, which isn't quite Michigan 2006. It is, however, insanely good. What's more, when he chopped out the MAC opponents from this year the numbers were six of… nineteen.
If you look at a third and one as an opportunity to boot the opponent off the field Michigan is literally doubling an average success rate and doing better than that against the meat of the schedule. The entire front seven shares in this accomplishment, as does Mattison, but IME the main guy in this success is Mike Martin.
The guy is the center of most of these plays. He gets doubled and he still gets penetration; the tailback cuts back and meets unblocked dudes.
I mean… we're talking about comparing this defense to 2006—the very best part of the 2006 defense—and saying "not quite as good except against real competition." My jaw has made it halfway to the Orb of Zot. Big Ten Wonk has authorized use of the word "stunned." THIS IS SURPRISING.
Remember last year when sometimes we'd line up with a three man line on third and one? And not even blitz anyone? HAHAHAHA
Aren't you a little harsh on those zone reads that got outside?
No. I mean, seriously:
This is cool. We've got this.
That's a nothing play—maybe a loss—turned into a touchdown because Clark's not looking at the ball, which is literally right in front of his face. This is how it is done:
Run at the guy with the ball.
That okie package was lethal, wasn't it?
Check BWS for a breakdown of the different blitzes run from it. Chris identified six, seemingly all of which ended with Scheelhaase running for his life or losing it. Por ejemplo:
Now that Michigan is keeping a deep safety on these things and not offering free touchdowns—Mattison learned that lesson in one try—they are increasingly difficult to deal with as new players and stunts get added to them. It's almost like Scot Shafer was on to something.
This is the week we get excited about Campbell again, isn't it?
Yeah. Check that Morgan decleater and see who forces the cutback into death: Campbell. On a late third and one that Michigan stuffed it was Campbell, not Martin, who blew the play up:
Get push, take on a fullback, shed and tackle… that's a good play right there. Illinois OL caveats apply; we'll probably be back to fretting next week.
What went wrong on the fourth down play?
The main problem was the fact that it turned into fourth and 18, not fourth and 26, when the line split like the Red Sea and allowed Scheelhaase to run up in the pocket:
With another ten yards to close the distance Kovacs probably gets there. I'd like to see a delayed blitzer in there to prevent that from happening.
Have any random notes for Borges he will roll his eyes at?
This botched decision by Scheelhaase worked out well:
Man, I think we should do that. We should run a fake inside zone that Robinson ostentatiously keeps on with the intent of pausing and then running up in the same hole the tailback is hitting. The ol' fake inside the fake.
Everybody. Especially Martin, Van Bergen, and Floyd.
WTF, get out of here with your goats.
What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?
I think we're in for a bit of a letdown; Nebraska's wacky option system does a lot of stuff that Michigan has not seen before—last week they turned the inverted veer into a speed option and I was like "oh that is so cool"—that attacks Michigan's still-youthful edges. I can see Nebraska effectively attacking the outside and making the Martin/Heininger/RVB axis a smaller factor than it's been the past couple games. Also that just can't happen again. My heart has already burst out of its little box; if Michigan holds Nebraska to 30 yards rushing it will emerge from my chest.
That said, it's suddenly hard to envision Nebraska having much success in the air even if Taylor Martinez is on a relative tear. They'll probably pick some stuff up on play action and the like, but Nebraska's had a hard time moving the ball against… quality defenses… like Michigan has. /faints
Anyway: 270 yards against MSU and victory only because they did to the MSU offense what Michigan did to that of Illinois, 331 against Penn State, 335 against Wisconsin. They did put up some points and yards in the frenetic final quarter against OSU; other than that it has been tough sledding.
As for the future… man. Woolfolk and Gordon seem like a push, so if Michigan can find some defensive linemen they are set for next year. Come on, Campbell.
This is very important. Fitz Tous is a much weirder name than Gerald Saint.
An image. This was on the internet, but not widely enough. Undoubtedly from this year's Big Ten Media Days, the family portrait:
I'm just posting this for Pelini.
WHAT ABOUT MY SOUL
Where have you been all my life. I can't believe this guy has been doing this for three years and no one has found him before MGoVideo stumbled across him this weekend:
A check of his account reveals he's done this exact same thing dozens of times over the past three years for things as insignificant as victories over Hillsdale. There is no corresponding "BOO" for losses, unfortunately.
NoPa. Whoever wins the league this year won't have to pick up their trophy with tongs:
Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno's name has been removed from the Big Ten's football championship trophy, league commissioner Jim Delany said Monday.
“We believe that it would be inappropriate to keep Joe Paterno’s name on the trophy at this time,” Delany said. “The trophy and its namesake are intended to be celebratory and aspirational, not controversial. We believe that it’s important to keep the focus on the players and the teams that will be competing in the inaugural championship game.”
They're going with just "Stagg." Now all we have to do is tie the division names into a horrible crime and we're set nomenclature-wise. Paterno is kind of a leader and legend all wrapped into one, isn't he?
Legal argh. Marvin Robinson's concussion turns out to be one that causes bad decisions:
Robinson, 20, was arraigned last week on a charge of second degree home invasion and released on a promise to appear. He is accused of breaking into a locked dorm room at 10 p.m. Sept. 29 and stealing the game.
After getting some time early in the year Robinson mysteriously disappeared; now we know why. There's a lot of speculation about this being the end of MRob by mysterious insiders; I find that odd. Unless he's had previous incidents this seems like a first strike type event. Previous Michigan players in the same level of trouble have been able to return after doing penance.
"(They) gave me some freedom to call some stunts up front that coaches wouldn’t typically do, but they trust that I’m smart enough to make the right calls," Van Bergen said. "We didn’t actually get the green light, we just started doing it. Take a risk. Why not?
"It worked the first two or three times, and the coaches were just like, ‘Call ‘em when you feel like calling ‘em.’"
Remember a couple years ago when Indiana ripped off an 85-yard touchdown because RVB missed a check? That doesn't so much happen anymore. Seniors. I like them. We should try to have more of them. You, Desmond Morgan: be a senior with four years of eligibility starting now.
A note on Denard fumbly bits. While it's frustrating to endure a game in which Denard fumbles turn two drives in field goal range to dust, the team's overall trend is still highly positive:
|Year: 2011||Thru: 11/12/11|
The noise you hear is Rich Rodriguez screaming "oh, of course this happens the year after I get fired." Denard coughed it up twice against Illinois and had the elaborate-sack-escape fumble against Iowa; the other two lost fumbles were from Smith and Hopkins against SDSU. Robinson's had 330 events this year; losing three fumbles on them isn't that bad.
Last year Michigan lost 14(!) as a team. The improvement here has been significant enough to more than combat the increase in interceptions.
Complicated bits. Smart Football's Grantland work seems specifically targeted at things we've been discussing about Michigan's offensive transition. There a post about how Jim Harbaugh has dumped sight reading from the 49ers offense and thereby aided them in their transformation from chumps to 7-1. At first they were like this:
And then they would change to this when they got a blitz:
But now they're like this:
They always have hot routes built into the play. Michigan has gone the other direction. Unfortunately you're thinking of Vincent Smith not running a slant against Michigan State right now, but I can't do anything about that. Chris Brown's take on this adaptation:
It's my personal view, but I think NFL teams rely too much on sight adjustments. There are two reasons for this: First, these plays were far more straightforward a decade or two ago than they are now, and second, coaches who spend nearly all their waking hours thinking about football tend to forget that it's not how many X's and O's they know but what they can teach their players. To the first point, sight adjustments are old — at least 50 years old, if not more. But they arose before zone blitzes became popular. Against a blitz with man-to-man coverage in the secondary, sight adjustments made perfect sense. They were extensions of backyard football — throw a quick one to the fast guy and let him run with the ball before the blitz overwhelms the offensive line.
Now it's not so simple. With the rise of the zone blitz, the fact that three defenders might rush from one side tells the offense almost nothing about where the coverage will be. This is why, when zone blitzes first became prominent, you saw quarterbacks throwing awful passes directly to defenders who weren't even close to receivers. This is not to say that sight adjustments are impossible in today's environment, but they require an almost telepathic relationship between quarterback, receiver, and even the offensive line.
Borges and Hoke have been grumbling about wide receivers being hidden issues in the passing game for chunks of the year and I think this is what they're talking about. In the spring game Gardner missed Gallon three times when Gallon pulled up short and Gardner threw long or vice versa; the Smith interception happened; Denard has often been under pressure without anywhere to go with the ball because everyone's 30 yards downfield. That seems nuts so my assumption is when that happens it's because the receivers have not read the play correctly.
While this should get better next year when Gallon, Roundtree, and Stonum all have a year of experience under their belts I'm a little leery of Michigan using sight reads extensively—and they seem like an all-or-nothing proposition like being a triple option or Air Raid team. You're either 100% committed to it or you suck. I'll figure out more about this over the offseason—I've signed up for some clinics featuring Michigan's coordinators that will hopefully shed some light on what Michigan's trying to do.
BONUS relevance: Brown also breaks down one of Oregon's long runs against Stanford with a focus on the alignment of the line and how Oregon forces you to respect the bubble. I'll probably tackle that in greater detail in a picture pages.
Yost attendance problem mitigation. If you have tickets, need tickets, need a rideshare, or require any other thing that will get you to Yost there is a Children of Yost facebook page that can help you with these matters. I don't think their services extend to calling you up at 7:15 and screaming "PUT DOWN THE MW3 AND LEAVE THE HOUSE NOW," unfortunately.
More Trouba. Via NHL.com:
"He has offense skills and he really does defend well," Gregory said. "You can just tell by how he plays in all areas of the ice that he's a big kid who skates really well. He loves to jump into the play and has confidence because he knows his skating can get him back, so he rarely gets caught out of position. He's going to be someone people are going to talk about; we've known about him for a couple years and he's not disappointing early on this year, either."…
"He skates exceptionally well and likes to rush up the ice with the puck and with good speed," he said. "He's very confident, has great agility, is strong physically and is always alert. He's done a good job in 1-on-1 situations against opposing forwards and contained his man very well."
(HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
This week in going for it. Advanced NFL Stats has a go-or-not 4th down calculator, but I think it's broken. When I punch in the situation from the weekend, it says 100% of 92 is 93. As a result it says M should have kicked.
I think it means the decision to go was correct since it says you have a 70% chance of success and your WP goes from 92 to 93 if you get it right. Expected points are massively in favor of going, FWIW: 4.5 to 2.4.
The mid 90s summed up. Midnight Maize brings us this shirt, which should be the student T this year and for all time:
That is wicked off the hook but inexplicably managed to escape its ebay auction unsold.
Etc.: Toussaint interviewed by TIM DOYLE OMG. Says "I'm just a big fan of fashion." Toussaint, not Doyle. Dreaded Judgment gets on the "third down == awesome" bandwagon. MGoFootball Illinois bullets arrived too late for yesterday's game post.
Iowa fans think Michigan State got fainting disease last Saturday, which I point out mostly to marvel at the idea anyone would have to slow the Hawkeyes' tempo down. I guess they were down a billion.