and... i like them? I think I like them.
1/13/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 0 – 13-8-4, 7-6-4 CCHA Gongshow
1/15/2011 – Michigan 4, Ohio State 1 – 14-8-4, 8-6-4 CCHA Gongshow*
[sitebulletin: I'm going to be in a car driving for most of the day, unfortunately. I thought I would be able to avoid doing this during the posting day but it turns out I have to get back to town earlier than I thought I would. Apologies. Basketball game column can be ably summarized by searching for "temper tantrum" on youtube.]
*[This is not an endorsement of the CCHA's advertiser. But seriously folks, "CCHA Gongshow" is impossible to pass up now that I know they did it to themselves a year after they unsuccessfully attempted to keep their conference from imploding. We have a new leader in the Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment-memorial most craven naming-rights sellout competition.]
head up. you are feeling totally copacetic, man
I'm not saying that Jon Merrill's suspension was a deviously ingenious experiment designed to turn a large group of people into connoisseurs of the little nuances of defensive play. The only reason I'm not is because I can't think of a motive.
Because even if that connoisseurship is a side effect, it is real. In the second period yesterday, Merrill made a clearing attempt, got it blocked, got bashed by a forechecker, and then whipped a hard pass to Alex Guptill's tape in a situation where 90% of college defensemen start breathing into a paper bag or bawling for their mom. Billy Jaffe, one of the the uncommonly useful color guys for Sunday's game, exclaimed "that's the move!" afterwards, and I was like "YES THAT IS THE MOVE." Later they put up a replay of a pass that never got out of the defensive zone.
The thing that Merrill gives Michigan is breathing room. Sure, he's piling up assists at a PPG pace and whipped a breathtaking breakaway pass to Phil Di Giuseppe on Sunday. These are nice things. They are intermittent, though. What's constant is how a game feels when Merrill's on the ice: calm, spacious, steady. Smooth like Billy Dee Williams with his Colt .45.
Jon Merrill is the Billy Dee Williams of hockey. Forecheck hard and Merrill will take the hit with his head up and make the move. Back off and Merrill is capable of going tape to tape in small windows over long distances. Instantly Michigan switches from reacting to a forecheck to forcing the opponent to react to it.
I'm not an expert on hockey. I came to the game when I was ten and haven't put in the UFRing required to get me to the extremely-informed-amateur level I am with football. In hockey, that feel is all I've got. It's done a 180 since Michigan picked itself up after the Alaska series thanks first to the emergence of the Guptill-Wohlberg-Brown line as a true #1 scoring unit and now Merrill's return turning the second (first?) pairing from a third unit trying to cope into a major strength.
On Sunday, Michigan felt elite for the first time this season. They outshot a 14-4-3 team significantly, dominated time on attack, and hardly gave up an even strength scoring chance, let alone a goal. Moffatt and Treais flashed dirty dangles and walked in on Cal Heeter. Heeter got chased halfway through the game.
It was a throwback to times when Michigan won hockey games without requiring nuanced views as to why this might have happened. (See: last year.) They won because they bruised every inch of two different goalies and, with limited exceptions, spent the whole game in the offensive end doing fun things.
This isn't all Merrill—half of Michigan's 6-0-2 run has come with Merrill observing or playing at the WJC—but with him around it seems more plausible that Michigan's recent run is a sustainable one. The GLI was a near thing. Michigan was dominated by BC but snuck a late goal against the run of play, then played dead in the third; they scraped the MSU game in overtime thanks to a goal with under a minute left.
That felt like finding a shiny penny on the street. This weekend Michigan gave up zero even-strength goals en route to sweeping the #2 team in the country. With Merrill around it's possible they've invested in a mint.
Calm, Easy Breathing Bullets
About that #1 line. Yowza. I can't recall a big guy who's come in with a mid-round NHL draft pedigree who's performed at the level Guptill has. Max Pacioretty was a first-rounder, Aaron Palushaj a second-rounder, and both of those guys were only sort of big. Other mid-round power forward types seem drafted on the principle that they won't shrink even if they don't display any NHL level skills.
Not so Guptill. His goal in the first period Sunday was a pure snipe into the upper right corner of the net from a somewhat awkward angle, and his ability to dump and chase into the corner is actually effective because he's got the speed and board play to set up possession in the opponent's zone. Then the rest of the line cycles.
Meanwhile, Brown has suddenly leapt forward to consistent productivity after a couple years of flashes but not much else. This does not appear to be the line carrying him—remember that he spent big chunks of his first two years with Caporusso or Hagelin as his center. He's making nice passes and the availability of pucks in the area where his size matters gives him the opportunity to sweep in (admittedly soft) goals like he opened the scoring with last year.
Wohlberg remains Wohlberg: good shooter, fast guy, decent stickhandler. His goal Sunday was soft but showed off his assets pretty well. As a whole they seem to have an identity they lacked apart. They drive the net, dump unless it's obvious they shouldn't dump, cycle, and score.
Power play. It technically didn't score since Michigan's second on Friday was deposited a couple seconds after the penalty expired, but the spirit of the law declares it did. They have looked intermittently better since the holiday break gave them an opportunity to rejigger what they were doing. They were good against State in the GLI final, pretty awful against LSSU, and back to threatening against OSU.
Over the weekend they were moving the puck and getting shots on net that were not getting blocked above the faceoff circles. I'll take it. Eventually they'll get some puck luck.
Sinelli. Through the mist of hazy Sparks complaints I can see why Sinelli has taken a regular shift over not only Sparks but Rohrkemper, as he's a decently speedy guy who makes effort plays on the regular.
CCHA Gongshow. The league remains an incredibly tight sack of cats. By points Michigan surged into third with its weekend sweep; on winning percentage they are still fifth behind OSU, WMU, ND, and FSU. Notre Dame is third in winning percentage and sixth on points because they have two games in hand on everyone in front of them.
The 9th place team, Northern, is one game below .500 in conference and would easily make the tournament if the season ended today. It is a weird year.
BONUS: Michigan's goal differential is now the best in the league at +14. They've scored five more goals than their nearest competitor, OSU, and not even the relentlessly excellent defense of… wait for it… Western Michigan can get them past M. They're +13. Yes, I just said excellent defense and Western Michigan in the same sentence. No, I don't know why they held on to Jim Culhane for a decade. FWIW, OSU would still be tops in the league if they hadn't given up two empty-netters on Friday.
Pairwise. This is faintly ridiculous: after we spent most of the first half kissing our tourney streak goodbye, Michigan is now on the cusp of a one seed. They rank 5th. I can't give you the nitty gritty details because my favorite Pairwise site hasn't updated for yesterday's game yet. CHN's has and has Michigan fifth. This is not a fluke based on TUC or COP records that are liable to change with the win: Michigan's RPI is also fifth.
It's also not something liable to persist unless Michigan keeps winning. Michigan's flown up from out of the tourney to nearly a one seed in three weekends. They can drop back down just as fast.
There are still seven-ish CCHA teams in the tourney with MSU, Miami, and Denver tying for 15th. More realistically it would be six.
Have fun storming the castle. This looks less daunting what with the winning and all, but yeesh the final five weekends:
- @ Notre Dame
- @ MSU, MSU @ JLA
- @ BGSU
BGSU is not good; everyone else will be fighting tooth and nail for tourney positioning or a bid, period. ND is the toughest team statistically, FWIW. They have a +5 GD in conference; MSU is +4, Miami +1, and NMU –2. Sack of cats, I tell you.
Anything I can do you can do dumber. It's hard to see in this shot but lord, OSU's jerseys were goofy:
The zillion oversized Buckeye leaves were reminiscent of Ghost of Bo's legendary parody(?) football unis. Clean, simple lines are preferable. Even Michigan's jerseys could use a little cleaning up. OSU's were reminiscent of…
…yeah, you know it.
Official site recap has pictures and whatnot. Michigan Hockey Net describes the game as a "clinic." A few AP photos. Daily article quotes Wohlberg sounding somewhat badly translated from the Japanese:
“You saw after they scored their first goal, it was a big uprising for them. Then when we go out and we score two real quick, it’s a big push for us, and I think it emptied their spirits.”
It's cool, guys. We're just in our teal phase.
Ty Cobb; Al Kaline and Harvey Kuenn; Magglio Ordonez
Gordie Howe; Steve Yzerman; Henrik Zetterberg
Bill Laimbeer; Allan Houston and Grant Hill; Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups
Tom Harmon; Jim Mandich; Tom Brady
UPDATE: someone said the "fair comparison" is the changes in Michigan's away uniforms over the years, as if 1) the Notre Dame game was not at home, 2) Michigan changed their away unis three times in a season, four if you count helmet numbers, back in the day 3) and looking stupid is acceptable as long as it's a road game. Here are the incredible changes in the last 40 years.
1971 MSU program; Jim Harbaugh; Mike Hart
Dave Brandon; Dave Brandon; Dave Brandon
Site note. Had some issues getting and converting the game this week—my UFR process is byzantine—so UFR will be delayed until Thursday/Friday. It's a bye week, be chill.
Reminder. This is what Michigan wore on Saturday:
I hadn't seen a good shot of the sleeves, which miraculously manage to make the whole ensemble seem even dumber-looking. If you run across a picture from this game in five years you are going to laugh at the clown uniforms like people laugh at that one year a bunch of teams wore stormtrooper shoulders.
The MZone points at a prescient slippery slope prediction and says get used to it. Michigan's the first team to get their Arena League on twice in one year—even the pro combat victims only have to put up with it once.
How does this happen again? There will be a fuller discussion in the UFR of this, but it is absolutely maddening to see MSU time those double-A-gap blitzes with Molk's head going down and never get a check or read in their face. Molk on this:
"They did jump our snap count," Molk said. "They knew us, they knew how we played and how our plays were going to start."
Michigan State's Trenton Robinson originally told The Wolverine on Saturday his team could anticipate Molk's snaps because he bobbed his head down, then back up before he hiked the ball. …
Molk said Michigan recognized this during the game, but could not adjust because of the crowd at Spartan Stadium.
"Making an adjustment came down to our ability to communicate, and with the crowd noise, it sort of covered that," he said. "It puts us into a tough situation, and something we have to react to, and we weren't ready to react. They got us, no doubt."
During the game? They've done this the last three years! For Michigan to have no answer to the instant A-gap blitz into the fourth quarter is a massive, inexplicable coaching failure. Not once did Michigan block that, not once did they bring Molk's head up to reveal the blitz and then check into another play. There was no one in the center of the field for a dozen snaps and Michigan didn't use this at all.
Upside: At least this blows up the halftime adjustments meme. Downside: it's been replaced with the "Michigan State was tougher" meme, which even Molk is repeating. I guess that's the effect of an offseason in which every other word out of Hoke's mouth was "toughness." I'm not seeing it. I'm seeing MSU outcoach Michigan for the fourth straight year. It's not toughness when no one has an angle to block the same linebacker five times.
Boo-boo, line edition. Via a pouty-looking WCBN sports director hanging out in Sweden:
Taylor Lewan limping around campus with a giant boot on his left foot/ankle. Looks uncomfortable.
Somewhere on the coaching film there is evidence Gholston swept the leg. Of this there can be no doubt.
Obligatory Gholston-Dantonio statement. Anyone who's surprised that MSU is ham-fistedly taking a page from the Gene Smith playbook by declaring Saturday's events an "isolated incident" in an attempt to keep a starter on the field hasn't been paying attention. Dantonio's established a pattern. Ending a kid's hockey career with a sucker punch doesn't get you kicked off the team, every year there's a posse of 20 guys getting together to beat up some engineers, etc. etc. etc. This is the way he wants his program. End of story.
Bielema don't care. I've been annoyed with the program's public reaction to the above, possibly because it seems like they're lying through their teeth for better PR. This doesn't make me right, it just makes me annoyed. In contrast, Bret Bielema is a guy who gets his digs in:
"We'll do our talking with our pads and we'll do it between the whistles."
This is the only guy in the league who was able to call Tressel the asshat he was instead of going with that tragic hero/tragedy business that Carr and Dantonio did or refusing comment like everyone else. He also runs up scores like there's no tomorrow—it's clear he's something of an asshat himself, but these days I'll take any public figure who says what he thinks instead of what someone says he should think because it looks prettier in the paper.
Ain't hearing you about a deranged prosecutor. In the aftermath of the personal-foul-fest over the weeked the WSJ assembled their number-crunching team and came up with a list of the dirtiest rivalries in college football as measured by personal fouls of a late/unnecessary hit variety. A number are expected. One in particular is not:
|RIVALRY||PER GAME||BIGGER OFFENDER|
|Duke-North Carolina||5.2||N. Carolina 69%|
|UCLA-Southern California||4.8||UCLA 54%|
|N. Mexico-N.Mexico St.||4.6||N. Mexico 65%|
|Michigan-Michigan St.||4.0||Michigan St 80%|
|C. Michigan-W. Michigan||3.8||Western 58%|
|Brigham Young-Utah||3.6||Utah 61%|
|NC State-North Carolina||3.4||N. Carolina 59%|
All of those are competitive series save North Carolina bludgeoning Duke annually. Maybe they're just mean dudes at UNC—they're the only team to show up twice.
Of course, this pretends the personal foul stuff is a two way street, which it isn't in certain cases. On a per team basis your winners are:
- UNC (vs Duke)
So… yeah, UNC hates Duke a lot. Either that or it's impossible to not get personal fouls for unnecessary roughness when you've got a lot of illegally acquired future NFL players and they've got eleven mewling kittens.
The fresh take NOTline*. Magazine writer Chris Jones came up with a fresh take that really adds to the sporting zeitgeist: you shouldn't say "we" when you are identifying the team you root for because you are not on the team. Awesome, dude. Thanks. For your troubles SBN's Andrew Sharp effectively compares you to Whitney.
Sharp has ten reasons a fan might break out the we but doesn't hit the reason I do it periodically: it is a convenient linguistic trick. If I am discussing the Michigan-Michigan State game and wish to refer to the teams by words shorter to read and type, I can either continually re-introduce the team names and briefly refer to whichever one is the most recent antecedent as "they." That's potentially annoying and confusing. The other option is to dump them entirely in favor of "we" and "they," which clearly indicate who is who while preventing constant repetition of already established facts—that we are indeed talking about Michigan and Michigan State.
It would take a fun-hating mutant whose super power is pedantry to object to this, which is why someone who works for a newspaper or magazine writes this column every three months.
Trouba: pretty good. Hockey 2012 D commit Jacob Trouba is good, first round good. As of late he's pushing his way into the top half of the first round:
Defenseman Jacob Trouba (U-18 U.S. national team development program): He is most likely to land in the top 10 picks and could crack the top five if he keeps progressing. He's 6-1 and 170 pounds, and he can skate well, fire the puck with authority and show a physical presence.
Boo Nieves, LW, Kent HS
Nieves has rocketed up the charts after showing off his stuff with USA at the Ivan Hlinka on top of several favorable viewings last season. Nieves is a skilled, offensively productive center who has the potential to grow into his body. He has great hands and displays a real high level of skill. He also has better then average skating, utilizing a smooth stride that provides him with a top gear when required.
He's still not in ISS's top 30.
Comment truth. Let me pull this out from the depths of the game column comment thread:
With our personnel, I think most people would want Rodriguez running the offense. They would just want him to stay far, far away from the defense.
The dirty little secret is this: This game was the cost of doing business, by deciding for a full scale switch from the head coach - who didn't earn himself a 4th year based on results, everyone settle down - on down, rather than just going after the massive problem that was the defensive coordinator and staff. Now, in the long term it was probably the right decision, but in the short term, we have set ourselves up for frustration. …
[discussion of last year's game vs this year's game with focus on field position and yardage]
So reality is this: Because Rodriguez was defensively incapable, he lost his job. In turn, Hoke was hired and he brought in Mattison, a guy who has proven - along with having a more experienced secondary - to be one of the best hires in college football. He also brought in Borges, who isn't the proper fit for our offensive talent. It's not his fault and as has been stated, won't be a problem in 2 years time. But this year, we're going to have to suffer through another flawed season, which to me is incredibly frustrating given that a spot in the Big Ten title game is there for the taking.
That is exactly where I'm at. We had to deep-six Rodriguez and the coaching hire appears to be working out about as well as anyone could have hoped, but burning Denard's career in an offense he's not suited for is killing me. Shades of gray exist.
Etc.: Basketball ranked 20th by Rivals. Smart Football on combining quick passes with runs and screens—this is like extending the zone read concept to linebackers downfield. Michigan Monday in case anyone thinks the Sparty == Dirty meme is restricted to homers. Lake the Posts also jumps in with outrage(!).
10/15/2011 – Michigan 14, Michigan State 28 – 10/15/2011, 6-1, 2-1 Big Ten
right via Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com
WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THROWING 30 YARDS DOWNFIELD IN A CYCLONE
YOU'RE ASKING DENARD ROBINSON TO BE JOE MONTANA IN A TRASH TORNADO
YOU'RE COMING OUT FIVE WIDE
RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Brian Cook's brain channeling Mike Valenti, 3:07 PM 10/15/2011
The now rapidly developing lizard brain theory of college football coaching states that there is a certain level of pressure above which rationality goes out the window and coaches revert to who they really are. It came to me in a horrible epiphany when Lloyd Carr punted in the 2005 Ohio State game less than a quarter after going for it on his side of the field. Coaches panic, go to their binkies, and then try to convince you otherwise in the post-game.
Different coaches have different levels. Ron Zook reverts to the lizard brain on the opening kickoff of every game. Kirk Ferentz makes it about five minutes in. We don't know about Tressel because he constructed his team such that the lizard brain was right. Les Miles exists on an entirely different axis with taffy on one end and victory on the other. He is the only one who escapes. The lizard brain is unavoidable.
Al Borges's lizard brain kicked in after Vincent Smith ran for two yards on Michigan's first offensive play of the second half. First and ten after that:
Robinson sacked for –9 yards
Smith rush for two yards
Gardner rush for four yards
Robinson rush for –1 yard
Robinson slant complete for 34 yard touchdown
Robinson rush for –1 yard
While this doesn't paint a pretty picture for the run game, either, after halftime Michigan passed on 60% of its first downs, got one completion on a short route that turned into a big gain when Roundtree broke a tackle, and did nothing else.
For the game Michigan tried to pass at least 41 times*, averaging 2.8 yards per attempt and giving up a defensive touchdown.
TWO POINT EIGHT YARDS
RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!
Michigan tried to run the ball 26 times and averaged… oh, Jesus… 5.2 yards per carry. Fitzgerald Toussaint got two carries, Denard twelve.
I just realized this is what it's like to be Walter Sobchak.
MARK IT 2.8.
(This is not a threat against anyone's person. Do I look like Will Gholston?)
So, yeah. There is no way to put this without getting an email from some guy concerned about his eleven year old without resorting to Bloom County methods. That was the dumbest goddamned $%&*^-*$#*ing #&!$brained dip*&%$ mother*(%$ing horse_+$# goat-&^%t &%$*y-infested $%^&stick playcalling I have ever &*$ing seen in my life. I see you, Valenti. I get it now. I get it.
ON FOURTH AND ONE AL BORGES HAD THE QUARTERBACK, WHO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS RUNNING QUARTERBACK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, TURN HIS BACK TO THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AS IF EVERY DEFENSE EVER CONCEIVED AGAINST THE GUY DOESN'T HAVE EDGE CONTAIN OF HIM AS THEIR FIRST THREE PRIORITIES
ON FOURTH AND ONE AL BORGES HAD THE QUARTERBACK, WHO IS THE MOST DANGEROUS RUNNING QUARTERBACK IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, TURN HIS BACK TO THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AS IF EVERY DEFENSE EVER CONCEIVED AGAINST THE GUY DOESN'T HAVE EDGE CONTAIN OF HIM AS THEIR FIRST THREE PRIORITIES
Okay, okay… sorry. Sorry. I'm vented.
What we have to deal with now is the cold certainty that the honeymoon is over and our football coaches are football coaches, like they always are, and we cannot assume that everything will be honeydew and game theory from now on. Hoke punted on fourth and short-ish from inside the opponent 40. Borges did that above.
That's okay, really. Given the crapfest we endured on offense I almost can't blame Hoke for the punts. And in many other situations I prefer an offensive coordinator who wants to throw when he's in trouble to one who wants to go into a shell. The Morris/upperclass Gardner offense won't put the Ferrari in neutral until the second half. Recruit like they're recruiting and coach like it seems they can and eventually we'll get to a nice place to be.
In the near term, though, those happy thoughts over the first few weeks about Borges adjusting to Denard evaporated in a flurry of sacks after which you look at the receivers and there are three guys thirty yards downfield with no one between them and the carnage. You can fake it against defenses that can't play, but when it comes down to it the combination of Borges and Denard makes everyone wonder that bad old question about whether he should really play QB. IE: the worst-case scenario from the offseason.
A certain genre of Michigan fan will say this was always who Denard was, but last year he completed 58% of his passes for 9.3 YPA and a 12-9 TD:INT ratio in the Big Ten. Whatever his limitations were they seemed a lot less limiting last year, when Michigan stressed the defense to the edges and exploited the ruthless equation of the spread: a running quarterback means someone's open if you can just find him.
I don't blame Borges for that. You can't up and be someone else at the drop of a hat. If we are again pointing the finger of blame it's aiming at Rich Rodriguez for not deserving a fourth year. I do blame Borges for throwing almost two-thirds of the time when that should be inverted. The incoherent grab-bagginess of the offense is a natural effect of hiring a pro-style guy with a spread offense. Running Denard twelve times in a trash tornado is not.
So here we are, with football coaches instead of magical fairies who can do anything. That sucks. The honeymoon over, life re-asserts itself.
*[I'm not sure how many QB carries were scrambles. I counted the 8-yard Gallon scramble as a pass.]
Non-Bullets of I Wish They Were Real Bullets
Hurray clowniformz! So much for a one-time thing. It's as if they knew they would need to both play and look like Yakety Sax:
That's the third time this year we've had a uniform stunt, this one the ugliest and stupidest of them all*. It's like Dave Brandon took in the majesty that is the Spartan Stadium game experience and said "someday this will be mine." Chengelis's headline on the subject…
Spartans, Wolverines compete with fashion statements, too
…is even more evidence that Dave Brandon Gets It less than anyone has ever not Gotten It before.
I had a wow experience. Did you? Everyone looking forward to the analwowing in Dallas next year when we take our freshman defensive tackles and paper-thin offensive line into a game we are absolutely not prepared for? CEOs are psychopaths.
[Bonus: last time we did this was 1976, the very heart of the era when people lost their minds about fashion. We lost then, too.]
*[No, that guy on every message board who could spin Denard Robinson's arm being torn off by William Gholston as a positive for the program, they did not look good. A sane political system would prevent you from voting. You suck. I'm sure you've got a comment all lined up to complain about the complaining. Bring it, I've got an itchy trigger finger today.]
Obligatory personal foul section. Yeah, it was ugly. The truly sad thing was that band of morons getting away with 120 yards in penalties without losing. If we had a sane offensive plan and/or a plan to deal with snap jumping those personal fouls are only 10% enraging—the intent to injure bits—and 90% hilarious Sparty being Sparty. That's where we are as a program right now: we can play the stupidest 85 people ever assembled on one football team and still lose by two touchdowns.
Gholston should obviously be suspended at least two games for the helmet rip—as bad an intent-to-injure play as the Reynolds-Sorgi incident—and the punch, which has been established by the great Jonas Mouton Suspension Fiasco as a one-gamer. There was also a less obvious judo chop that forced Lewan out of the game for a few plays. I bet nothing happens, because that's the way life goes.
This is the second consecutive year a player has been knocked out late after the game is decided by a dirty hit. Look at Dantonio's jaw… you are feeling very sleepy… you cannot put together incidents to see a pattern forming… so much… fake… bible… Spock.
I guess targeting other football players is progress relative to beating up mechanical engineers en masse.
Edge destruction. Early candidates for big negative days in the defense UFR: Roh and Ryan, who were targeted by the MSU offensive coaching staff to good effect. MSU's first TD drive was a series of easy outside runs as those two got destroyed. They improved a bit as the day went on but were clearly a weak spot targeted effectively.
Woolfolk also got pulled after a series or two; he's obviously hurt. Avery was the nickel corner since MSU doesn't spread to run much.
Man, Baker. It kills me whenever I see a really good running back go against Michigan because the mind immediately plugs that guy into rotation at the RB spot post-Minor and groans. Baker is one of those guys, a leg-churning tackle-breaker who would turn a lot of Michigan's two yard runs into five or six or more.
Penetration. They had it. Michigan didn't. Why not?
One part: It's clear all these late-developing passing routes are exposing the Mark Huyge we saw trying and failing to block for Tate Forcier as a sophomore. After a year of being covered up by the spread 'n' shred he's back to allowing sacks on a three man rush.
But the interior line? I saw Molk ole guys. Molk! How is this year four of MSU using a simple parlor trick of slanting under at the snap without two different coaching staffs being able to do anything about it?
Old school punting. Positive of a sort: When asked to coffin-corner punts Will Hagerup does a pretty good job. Haven't seen that in 15 years—you know it's old school when Sap is referencing Harry Kipke when handing out helmet stickers.
Why "of a sort": if you can coffin-corner a punt you probably shouldn't be punting.
The Minnesota plays. Doesn't seem too smart to have run a zillion new things against Minnesota now, does it? Michigan brought out the sprint counter once and it got stuffed—would MSU have been prepared for it if they hadn't seen it against Minnesota? Since Michigan isn't running the QB stretch that motion was a tipoff the counter was coming and an expected counter is a dead counter.
Inside the Box Score points out a huge swing play:
The refs did miss one backwards pass from Cousins, who clearly let go of the ball on state’s 37 and hit his receiver’s hands on the 36. The explanation was really lame, something along the lines of Michigan didn’t recover the football right away. The way I saw it, the ball hit the ground and the Michigan defender bent down and picked it up. What am I missing?
With no one around the ball except Wolverines if that's correctly called that is a potentially game-changing defensive score. This isn't a bad offsides penalty or uncalled false start, it's a touchdown being wiped off the board because the refs blew it dead too early. Very frustrating. I thought they were supposed to let it go if it was too close to be sure about now.
Also there is this:
Our leading tacklers were Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, and Countess, with 8, 6, 6, and 6, respectively. Do you notice what’s missing? Linebackers. Demens was the leading tackler among the linebackers with 5. I noticed this week that Touch the Banner was high on Demens for last week’s performance against NU, but Brian was critical of him in the UFRs. I think this game was the tie-breaker. I don’t think our LBs were productive enough. Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries. State was consistently able to pound the football against us.
How many times did MSU linebackers shoot out to the sideline on plays that looked like they were going to work and hold them down to a few yards, and how many times did Michigan linebackers do that? That's not always on the linebackers—could be on the M OL not getting out or DL not taking on doubles effectively—but given what we saw against Northwestern I'm betting some of the big chunk plays from Baker see linebacker minuses aplenty.
Hoke for Tomorrow is briefer. I would like to interject about this amongst the things learned:
That strong winds + Kirk Cousins > strong winds + Denard Robinson.
Cousins averaged 5 YPA and threw a backwards pass that should have been a disaster. Drops had a lot to do with it but it's possible the wind messed with both WR and QB, which is even more reason that throwing 41 times in the trash tornado was inexplicably dumb.
Media, as in stuff. The official site valiantly found highlight-type-substances in the wreckage:
Blogs. Come on, Braves and Birds picture comparison. Come on. The Hoover Street Rag does something long and complicated that I don't understand. Parody of a bad NBC hour-long drama? Mathlete says Michigan underperformed expectations by 28 points, his worst number of the season for all of I-A. Various bullets from MVictors. Touch the Banner also has them.
National variety from Doctor Saturday:
On seven trips into MSU territory after the opening possession, Michigan punted on five and turned it over on downs on a sixth.
Series by series, punt by punt, the sense of progress over the first half of the season dissolved into a disheveled mess. The running game stalled. The two-quarterback shuffle failed to gin up any semblance of a steady passing game, or a big play with Robinson lined up as a wide receiver. The pass protection broke down. In almost every aspect, it was Michigan's worst nightmare: At the exact point on the calendar that optimistic starts began to give way to collapse each of the last two years, the Wolverines looked like a team on the verge of collapse.
Newspapers. Michigan fell to 17th/18th in the polls. I did not find anything else of a newspapery variety that is open in my tabs.
Derp. The Shredder grabbed a great shot of Tommy Rees's "oh shiiiiii—" moment in the fourth quarter on Saturday:
That's not supposed to be there.
Let's play the 'Freude. ND features above the fold in TWIS for the second straight week. If you clicked through on twitter you've already seen this but you probably want to see it again:
I cried like an asshole.......
by guilfordnd (2011-09-11 00:32:33)
......for `15 minutes in the bathroom. and i[''m still drunk. I wanted to be as positive as I could the entire game until the pass. I crumpled up after that and cried and cried like I lost a good friend or some s--- after that pass. Tonight I let the small bluegill and two other panfish that were in my aquirium into the creek down the street. I figured I can't have anymore pussies in my man cave. I will catch some fish that will be a f---ing asshole ( like a bass) where every time I feed it it will dominate, and then s--- out the remains. call me wierd but I got nothing left. I don't know what else to do. I look forward to the fall but the gets harder and harder each year.
But wait, there's more: just after I posted it I hit up my Big Ten feeds and came across We Never Graduate's running diary of the game. The choicest bit:
10:32 TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNNNNN IIIIRRRRRRIIIIISSSSSHHHHHH! TJ JONES ON THE CROSSING PATTERN! THE IRISH HAVE TAKEN COMPLETE CONTROL OF THIS GAME. Let’s see if ‘Nard Dog can pass them back.
Wait, let me think about that…HAHAHAHAHAHA.
The whole glorious brain-melting thing is worth your time.
Kirk Spartans, meet Branden Georgia. MSU's marketing violence uniforms have been revealed and yes they're all like LOL USF. It's hard to get exercised about this kind of thing at MSU, which changes its uniforms every few years, but I hope this is just a model thing and not a reprise of the Georgia uniforms:
I doubt it, though. That nameplate is very dark. Kirk Spartans is going to throw to BJ Spartans unless Dan Spartans can't block, and Edwin Spartans is probably going to run for a 60-yard touchdown.
Look, Nike: I give up. You're going to give people uniformz and they're often going to be playing Michigan when they wear them. Whatever. But can we at least keep the names on the jerseys? I like having names on jerseys so I can figure out what's going on better. They are a public good. Penn State is the only school that doesn't raise my ire about not having them.
McGary McGary McGary. Mitch McGary has checked in with an update on his recruitment with two encouraging parts. Part the first:
First up was Michigan. It went really well. I had a ball there. The fans just showed me so much love at the football game. Everyone talks about Michigan being a football school, but when I sat in the student section everyone just started chanting “Mitch Mc-Ga-ry” and started clapping. They definitely know their basketball at Michigan, that’s for sure. …
I would say that the part that stood out most about the visit was the fans and just how much love they showed me. I really wasn’t expecting all of that. People talk about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, but that’s how it was at Michigan too. Those fans showed me the most love of the three visits.
Excellent work, Max.
Part the second:
I still want to go to Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, but I’m not sure that I’ll get to those schools just yet. I’d like to get there, but we’ll just have to see.
Don't get me wrong, McGary said nice things about his trips to Tobacco Road and is keeping things close to the vest, but I've incremented my "this is happening" meter another inch. If he's not sure about visiting his other three finalists and Sam Webb's gut feeling is that Michigan, Maryland, and Florida were the leaders… well, the process of deduction to get from those facts to a happy place isn't complicated.
Now it's just about holding off Duke and North Carolina. No problem, right?
Also in the small world of the SYF Players AAU team, UMHoops interviews Glenn Robinson III. Optimistic spin: since he was three months premature he's three months younger than he actually is and can be expected to improve more than a baby born at the proper time. That's the ticket.
Joe Paterno was only twelve. Michigan gameday, 1938:
That's not a joke, by the way. Joe Paterno is old enough to remember this.
Etc.: Brooks has a hot tip on OSU violations! This one is totally backed with legitimate sources and is not pulled directly out of a rectum that is already inside three other rectums! The Big 12 is "done." Iowa's roster is hurting due to attrition—they may be less intimidating than we thought it would be this year. Ohio State did virtually nothing on standard downs against Toledo. Can they move the ball against Miami?
That is MGoUser11's artist's impression of OSU "legacy*" jerseys and it is spectacular. Must be nice to have Halloween taken care of for the rest of your college career.
*[grumble grumble abuse of the language by marketers grumble.]
A momentous event. Ohio State's situation, already pushing known boundaries of realness, just broke through into uncharted territory with the return of Michigan ur-blogger iBlog for Cookies. Roused from a nearly two-year absence, Vijay lays out the case for trouble:
the OSU fan belief that the school's compliance department is top notch is non-starter at this point. We have found out that they weren't monitoring athlete's vehicles, that they never really investigated Terrelle Pryor's loaner cars, that they never looked into Aaron Kniffin's relationships with players, that they never acted on information about Dennis Talbott, et al. …
The second line of defense, that this is all about Jim Tressel and 5 players, is also a non-starter, as this now appears to involve the compliance office and at least one assistant coach (one of the people who was notified directly about NCAA violations involving Talbott in 2009).
A third line of defense, or deflection, is the belief of some Ohio State fans that no program could withstand the scrutiny they have been subjected to without such problems surfacing. But a widely believed to be extremely corrupt Southern Cal program was subjected to just such scrutiny, and 3 major violations were found (2 involving Reggie Bush, one involving basketball player OJ Mayo). Michigan faced a hostile local media that first spent months investigating the academics of our football program (and found no academic fraud, no eligibility problems and no NCAA violations), and then our practice habits. Combined with the scrutiny of the NCAA, they turned up evidence of practices that ran 15 minutes over and of Quality Control assistant coaches exceeding their allowed job descriptions.
No scandals. No players suspended. No coaches forced to resign. No covers of Sports Illustrated.
There is plenty more; IBFC's strength was always laying out the facts in pursuit of a conclusion inescapable by the end of the post.
yeah, this is happening for free
Oh and that Talbott thing. So when it came about that Pryor was playing golf with the memorabilia dude I was kind of like "bah, who cares," but out of that story comes this image:
As gifts go, walking into your young son's birthday party in Columbus, Ohio, with the star quarterback of the Ohio State football team and a linebacker is the stuff of dreams. Getting that quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, at the birthday party two years in a row with a teammate seems almost incomprehensible.
Yet there was Pryor in successive December parties with different teammates for Dennis J. Talbott's son -- sights that left even partygoers wondering about what they were seeing.
"We all thought it was crazy," said one 2010 partygoer who spoke to ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on the condition of anonymity. "It was a Saturday night, and I remember sitting there watching them watch the SEC championship game [on TV]."
Terrelle Pryor. At a kid's birthday party. With some guy who drives around in a car with a "TPRYOR" license plate. Eating cake. Playing pin the tail on the donkey. Signing stuff. Listening to the Wiggles.
That in and of itself is iron-clad proof Talbott (not either of those Talbotts) was paying Pryor. Terrelle Pryor does not go to children's birthday parties for free. If anything, the 40k cited by ESPN is low. Terrelle Pryor wearing a festive hat is only happening for low six digits. That's the price—children's birthday parties are awful.
The rest of that OTL story is the usual tale of a creepy middle-aged guy who couldn't stay enrolled at OSU with massive tax debt ingratiating himself with Ohio State football players thanks to nothing more than a sizeable quantity of derring-do (according to him) and fat stacks of cash (according to everyone else). This one has some added flair: Talbott once told the Plain Dealer he'd spent five years in the minors as pitching prospect, and a business rival actually fired this quote off:
"I have been waiting 20 years for somebody to get him," Godwin said of Talbott. "I am a born-again Christian and wish no ill will. I just want him to stop hurting people."
As IBFC alludes to above, the way it makes OSU's situation worse is it adds another data point to the pile of Buckeye compliance aintgiveadamn and implicates another OSU coach, the unnamed assistant who concerned golf club employees talked to about Pryor's free rounds. If you want the whole picture I'll again refer you to IBFC but it's even harder to see OSU not getting the hammer after the latest bit.
This isn't even hard for reporters. They are heading down to Columbus and people are falling out of helicopters screaming about NCAA violations. They must feel like a guy who sits down at a poker table with a 20 grand minimum buy-in and finds the rest of the table arguing about whether a flush beats a straight. When the Free Press launched the Jihad they had to resort to misrepresenting stuff freshmen said and anonymous quotes from people who had no idea what the rules were, and follow-up stories were nonexistent. This is a feeding frenzy.
[RANDOM AWESOME COMMENT ON PLAIN DEALER STORY:
blah, blah, blah. If the rules are so utterly ridiculous and are ignored by almost everyone, then when you investigate any successful organization you will find minor errors. YOu act like Tressel is the devil or something. He was not actively endorsing this type of activity but you want to feed him to the wolves just the same. How do you follow him around a golf course even if you do know who he is playing with is an evil type? He does have to coach all the other kids plus teach classes, run practices, and I am sure many other things. I am sure he would have been awake 24/7 he would have dealt with it. Just stop making a hard working, successful American out to be something that is not warranted.
Jersey take. I retweeted some guy who mentioned that Adidas's stripe fetish made it awfully convenient that Michigan deployed "legacy" jerseys that looked nothing like anything anyone has ever worn at M but did have stripes out the wazoo. (Also stripey: the Big Chill jersey, but at least that had a breathtakingly ugly historical precedent.) Another guy said "give it a rest," so maybe this is a played out topic. The other option is the guy doesn't know how twitter works—who's following who, buddy?
In any case, the HSR has a structurally ambivalent take. The thing that worries me:
Pro: It's just one game.
Con: Unless the jerseys sell like crazy, in which case it becomes another jersey next year, and so on and so forth. I wonder if in 2012, it will be a retro Schembechler era white jersey for the game at Notre Dame or the game against Alabama.
Pro: Wait, that would be cool.
Con: Yeah, that's the problem. You let your guard down on one thing, and the next thing you know, maize jerseys.
Why would this stop? Ohio State is doing this pro combat thing every year now, and always for the Michigan game. We've taken the first step down a slippery clownslope. "It's not that bad" is the first move towards Idiocracy Stadium.
If only people made rational decisions. The Bylaw Blog suggests the Big Ten get even more militantly anti-oversigning in their own conference so they can tell recruits they won't get cut:
This disconnect between theory and practice is better legislated at the conference level. Far from ensuring the SEC maintains a competitive advantage, it offers a chance for conferences to create their own competitive advantages. While some may call it negative recruiting, there’s nothing morally wrong or impermissible about informing prospects and their parents/guardians that one conference offers more protections to student-athletes than another.
If that idea gained traction, it could turn around the race to the bottom. Imagine if conferences got creative:
- A rule that allowed for an appeal to the conference office when a scholarship is cancelled or not renewed.
- A rule requiring conference schools to renew scholarships within the first week of school, almost creating two-year scholarships.
- A rule limiting the ability of conference schools to refuse permission to contact other schools under certain conditions
If every change is quickly reduced to a national rule, there is no way for conferences to differentiate themselves.
Well, for one, competitive advantage is just one part of why oversigning is annoying/outrageous. Turning the Big Ten into the land of the ironclad offer may help swing a recruit here and there but it doesn't do much to prevent "nefarious" things from happening. For two, for every hockey player who picks college there are four third-round-or-worse draft picks plying their trade in the OHL, unlikely to make the NHL or access the nebulous scholarship packages offered therein (approximately a quarter of OHL players actually use any portion of those packages). Kids and families striving for the brass ring often don't make contingency plans because It Can't Happen To Them. The impact of the policies above would be minimal on the recruiting trail.
Stonum. Stonum got sentenced for his second DUI. He's won:
- two years probation
- a one-year suspended sentence
- mandatory enrollment in a "strict sobriety program"
- a condescending but justified lecture from the judge
The suspended license violation he picked up is dropped if he completes the sobriety program, which includes daily breathalyzer tests. I'd guess that if Stonum doesn't follow every letter of the court decree (he spent three days in jail last summer for not doing so) he's gone; if he does manage to not slip up before fall the ball will be in Hoke's court. He and Michael Floyd can have a chagrin-off.
Etc.: UMHoops scouts Michigan's elite camp. Red at one of those alumni things. Brian Kelly can coach a bit. I have no idea if this SBB post means anything but it's long and may mean OSU is lying about something else, or just that Brooks is confused, or that Ohio State can't figure out what's going on in their own department. Via Eleven Warriors, yes that's a sweatervest on a crucifix. Way to go, cooler poopers.