Many years ago, I played the part of Tiny Tim in my grade school's production of "A Christmas Carol." My only line was to announce that Scrooge had provided the Christmas goose for supper. The class decided that we should have a prop for the goose, to make my part look more authentic. One of my classmates volunteered his rubber chicken. Having some dimensionality, we thought that would be better than a cardboard cutout of a goose. Fast forward to the night of the play. I enter stage right, say my line, and hold up the rubber chicken. The audience burst out laughing; I dare say, that's the biggest laugh I've ever gotten. I learned a very important lesson that night. Rubber chickens are funny.
Burst of Impetus
* For a game that finished with an 11 point margin of victory, and where Michigan had a 14 point lead for a large portion, the momentum seemed to go back and forth quite a bit. One could say that the deflected passes were huge. Like that old adage goes, "live by the deflected pass in the endzone, die by the deflected pass in the endzone." What? There's no old adage like that? Well, there should be. Anyway, each side benefitted from one of those, so I'm not choosing that as our burst of impetus. My burst of impetus award goes to Fitzgerald Toussaint, as I will explain below.
* Honorable mention goes to the 4th and 4 play late in the game, when 3 or 4 of our guys jumped offsides, only ND didn't snap the ball. We got back onside, blitzed and forced a hurried throw. Incomplete. Impetus back squarely with Michigan. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, or something like that. ND had the opportunity to get a cheap 1st down. They weren't ready for it. Luck of the Irish? Not last night.
Captain Morgan's Crew
* ND only punted twice, after their first and second drives of the game. Perhaps that is why there is some grumbling about the defense. We did turn them over a couple times, stopped them on 4th down twice, and forced them to go for three FGs. Still, I like seeing the other team punt more than twice.
* As should be expected in a game where the other team threw the ball so much, our two leading tacklers were DBs. Taylor had 11 and Gordon had 7. Countess and Wilson round out the list with 4 of our 6 leading tacklers coming from the defensive backfield. I was impressed by our DB's tackling. I don't track these things, but there seemed to be very few broken tackles.
* We had 4 TFLs, 1 sack, and only one QB hurry. The four man line just wasn't getting to Rees. Neither was the blitz, the few times Mattison used it.
* In case you were wondering, Funchess did not get credit for a BrUp on the last play before half.
Ermahgardner, Young 98, Master of Social Work
* Devin is racking up nicknames as he begins his assault on the Michigan record books. At first I was against him being given #98, but now I realize he's the only guy who could wear it. Tom Harmon is known as Ol' 98. That makes Devin the Young 98. (P.S. the 100%BLU license plate was firmly attached to an Olds 98.)
* Additionally, Michigan created College Football. Innovation is in our blood. If we want our guys to wear bumblebee stripes, or M's instead of numbers, or our QB to wear #98, so be it. We're Michigan, FERGODSAKES!
* Gardner was our leading rusher with 82 NET yards, and he ran for 1 TD. He was also mistakenly called Denard half a dozen times. Hey, I get that, but he's making a name for himself pretty quickly.
* Gardner was also 21 for 33 passing for 294 yards. Phenomenal. (We won't mention the one brain-fart, considering it was his 7th game starting, not bad.)
V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* A few weeks ago, there was a post about incoming freshmen and "that guy." I think it was in an Unverified Voracity. Anyway, the point was, Michigan is a huge university, but there is going to be one guy you see everywhere, who will make you think the university isn't all that big. For me, that guy was V. Sinha. My gameday experience wasn't complete until I saw V. Sinha sporting his personalized, #21, "V. SINHA" jersey. I went to school during the Desmond Howard era, so I'm pretty sure V. Sinha's jersey was a tribute to Desmond. If this blog had existed back then, V. Sinha would have been the equivalent of Lloyd Brady or Facepalm Guy. Why do I bring this up now? Well, Brian, Ace, Seth, BronxBlue and all our favorite bloggers are going to have takes on this game, and in the hopes of not being overly repetitive, I'm providing my personal experience. My brother went to the game last night. Of all the things he could have taken a picture of and sent me (flyovers, Beyonce, Eminem, #98, the laser show, etc.) the one thing he sent was this photo of V. Sinha. Now like any great photo of a legendary creature (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch) the picture is a little blurry, but it's proof that V. Sinha is still cheering on the maize and blue.
* Gallon caught 8 balls for 184 yards and 3 TDs, and successfully deployed his cloaking device.
* Critically underutilized WR, Drew Dileo caught 3 for 18 yards, and had the other receiving TD. Kudos to Borges for calling that play on 2nd down. If ND holds us to a FG, it's still a one-score game. Instead, I imagine Borges going over his playsheet, thinking, hey, it's been awhile since we threw one to critically underutilized WR Drew Dileo. Let's do that. TD. Ballgame. I go to sleep happy.
* Is Jake Butt the TE with the frying pan-sized hands? I can't remember from all the recruiting profiles I've been reading. Anywhere, there were two balls that he could have caught that would have made us all breathe easier. On one, he drifted back instead of coming forward and highpointing the ball, allowing the ND DB to sneak in and break up the pass. Force that DB to go through you, Jake, and make the official throw his flag. He's a frosh. He'll learn.
20 Pound Cheeseburgers
* I somehow managed to forget to include this in last week's diary, when Derrick Green was listed at 220 pounds, but Glen Mason said he looked like he was a cheeseburger shy of 240 pounds. My apologies for the oversight, chalk it up to a first game mistake.
* Touss led the RBs with 22 carries for 71 yards. I was hoping for competence from the rushing game this week, and 166 yards, 4.3 YPC, and 11 first downs certainly qualifies. That's actually better than I expected. By forcing ND to respect the rushing game, Michigan was able to isolate WRs (Gallon) one-on-one and exploit the ND secondary. But it all started with some tough, tough running from Touss.
* Gallon, Norfleet, Green, and TEAM all carried just once. Green may be a *****, but it's clear he hasn't earned the trust of the coaching staff yet. If Touss hadn't been able to make it back from that gruesome injury, there goes the running game. Without the running game, ND attacks Gardner (ESPN had a split showing his ATT/COMP with and without ND blitzing, and the numbers against the blitz were less than stellar.) Fitz' ability to crank out 3-4 yards at a time made those 2nd and 3rd down throws that much simpler. Let's not forget that he was running behind three interior linemen with a grand total of 3 collegiate starts as of game time. That was a workmanlike performance. That was a man's performance. Every ounce of sweat and pain he endured during the off-season was like storing up impetus in a jar, to be deployed against ND.
* Once again, the linemen had no stats.
* Notre Dame did get 3 QB hurries and 1 sack. Frankly, against that D-Line, that's a victory for us.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet had 1 punt return for 0 yards, and three kick returns for 78 yards. He ran the ball once, and caught one pass. Borges and Hoke were keeping this game in Gardner, Gallon and Fitz' hands. Norfleet will get his chances later this season.
I'm an international umpire
* There were a few questionable calls and non-calls during the game. Mid-way through the 3rd quarter, Brent Musberger mentioned that it was an all-ACC crew. After that, everything made sense. I kid, I kid.
* It was a relatively penalty-free game. Michigan was called for 6 penalties to Notre Dame's 2, until 2 late pass interference calls went against ND, making it 6-4. Notre Dame's penalties were arguably more damaging to them as we garnered 3 first downs by penalty to their zero.
* I have to disagree with Ace on the pass interferences. The ND player clearly shoved Gallon out of bounds, stepped in front of the pass and would have had an interception if he held onto the ball. He clearly gained an advantage by making contact beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage. Funchess' jersey was nearly torn off on the 2nd interference call. The only controversial part of those calls is that plays similar to them weren't called earlier in the game. Twice, I quoted Musberger as saying the ND DB was, "All over the intended receiver," but no call was made.
* Kalis got his first, off-setting, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After reading so much about his nasty streak, it was nice to see him get that first one out of the way. ESPN did not show the play, so we may never know how he earned that.
Fantasy Announcer Team
* Like Eminem, I was born in Southfield, Michigan. Makes me wonder what was in the water back then. Unlike Eminem, Brent Musburger would never be on my Fantasy Announcer Team. I love how he left Herbie off his team. That whole segment was so bizarre. As Eminem said, "I'm really uncomfortable now." Weren't we all. Best to just move on...
* I find it interesting that both of Michigan State's games so far have been delayed by weather. Had this happened, oh say, 10,000 years ago, the natives would have rightly decided that the land was cursed, burned everything in site, and moved on to appease the gods. And that's how I believe the couch-burning tradition got started in East Lansing.
* Shout-out to Seth's Robots.
* We had 25 first downs to their 23, but were more balanced with 11 rushing and 11 passing.
* Total offensive plays was split 50/50 with 72 plays for each team. We tallied an extra 50 yards on offense. We also took an extra 8 minutes and 8 seconds to run our plays. MANBALL UBER ALLES!
Dad was a pretty prominent member of our Parish. He was a lector and sang in the choir. So whenever we played Notre Dame, he was sure to get confronted by a Golden Domer after Mass. "Hey, ST2, are you really rooting against the Irish this week?" His response was simple and educational, "The University of Michigan was founded by a Catholic Priest and a Protestant Minister*, and UofM has more Catholic Alumni than Notre Dame." He left those Irish fans wondering why they weren't rooting for Michigan.
I'm pretty sure Dad would not have been pleased with Special K playing the chicken dance after the game. His response would most likely be something like, "We're Michigan, we don't mock our opposition. How boorish." And then when nobody was looking, he'd chuckle, because chickens are funny.
*Yes, the University of Michigan was leading the ecumenical movement decades before it became popular.
I'm back for another season. I figure if Brian can write 41,000+ words before a single game is played, the least I can do is give you the link to the boxscore and my casual fan's take on the game. It's been a long off-season. I coached my son's 3rd and 4th grade basketball team to a perfect 16-0 record; it helped having the Trey Burke of 4th graders on my team. My son was more like Jordan Morgan. He set a lot of screens. As a result, I was asked to coach one of the all-star teams. We went 2-7, derailing my dreams of someday replacing John Beilein. I did get to see lovely downtown 29 Palms, including both major intersections, and coach at UCSB's Thunderdome. Then, this summer, true blue Michigan Man, ST2, passed away from cancer. I will be sprinkling in some M-related anecdotes this season in tribute. See the last section as an example. But enough about me and my relations, on to the link.
Burst of Impetus
* The tone was set early on when true freshman, Dymonte Thomas, blocked a punt with his abs and 5th year senior Joe Reynolds scooped it up and ran it in for the first of many TDs. OK, be honest, who had Joe Reynolds in the "first player to score a TD" pool? Anybody? This site has an obsession with "prison abs". A site search turned up 104 hits for the term. In my opinion, punt-block abs >>> prison abs. The funny thing was, after hearing all about Dymonte Thomas during last season, the recruiting season, spring practice, the off-season, and fall camp, I saw #25 jogging off the field after the punt block and thought, "Thomas who?"
Captain Morgan's Crew
* The past couple seasons, I thought that Desmond Morgan wasn't quite there yet. He was missing a little something (experience, size, outright thumping ability?) that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Well, the first impression from this season suggests he's ready to be the Mike, and all that entails. JR III got a lot of hype this off-season, but I'm here to tell you that Desmond Morgan is the man. He led the defense with 7 tackles in limited playing time.
* 24 players recorded a tackle, and three more made the defensive stats section. The defensive stats has columns for solo tackles, assisted tackles and total tackles. It's the next 8 columns that I look through. They are what a basketball coach might call the hustle stats. There were lots of extras this week.
* Eight players recorded nine TFLs, led by Cam Gordon's 2.5 for 11 yards (2 were sacks). Cam also had a pass breakup. Beyer and Ojemudia also got sacks. Last year, Beyer looked like a lineman trying to play linebacker. He looks leaner and quicker this year, in other words, he looks the part. Could he be the breakout player this year on defense?
* Josh Furman had 5 tackles, and I thought he showed his incredible speed on a few plays. Yes, he made some tackles down the field, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he busted the play. It could mean he did his job and covered up for someone else who missed an assignment. Missing Kovacs and Gordon could have spelled DOOM, but I thought Wilson and Furman did OK. It will be good to get Gordon back next week.
Master of Social Work
* During the game, the B1G announcers pointed out that Devin Gardner has already graduated and is now pursuing a Master's of Social Work degree. ST2's greatest educational experience was his time at UofM pursuing his MSW. /ST3 wipes away a tear.
* Gardner started the game by throwing an interception. The one thing I was looking forward to this post-Denard season was fewer INTs. Oh well, better that occurred in game 1 than game 2.
* After that, Gardner returned to doing his Vince Young impression. I saw Young beat us almost single-handedly in the Rose Bowl, and the best compliment I can give a college QB is to compare him to Young.
* Gardner finished 10-15 for 162 yards, with 1 TD passing.
* Devin also ran for 52 yards on 7 carries. His 7.4 YPA bested Denard's 7.2 of last season. They are two completely different types of runners, but both give you the impression that the defense is playing in quicksand. Denard might take three steps to get five yards, to Devin's two steps, but they both cover the 5 yards in the time it takes for the defense to take one step.
* I'm left-handed. Whenever I see a left-handed QB throw a pass, I think, do I look that strange throwing a ball? Morris had a nice start to his M career, going 4 for 6, with the now required INT.
Joe Reynolds, Deep Threat
* Another show of hands, who thought our deep threat this year was going to be Joe Reynolds? He was one of 8 to catch a pass.
* Offensive linemen don't tally stats in the MGoBlue boxscore. They do pave the way for the running attack and hopefully keep the QB clean for the passing game. CMU's defense had 0 QB hurries, and 1 minor 3 yard sack. Bravo, big uglies.
* I tried watching the interior of the line during the game, but that is so hard to do. I'll wait until UFR's to pass judgment, but my initial gut feel says that Glasgow performed better than expected, Kalis played like a freshmen Hutchinson (I don't remember how Hutch played as a freshmen, the point is, Kalis did not play like a senior, All-American linemen, but he held up well) and Miller has some work to do.
* Derrick Green was the leading ballcarrier, thanks to a 30 yard run. He finished with 58 yards on 11 attempts. Touss and Gardner completed the 50/50/50 club, each surpassing 50 yards.
* Overall, we netted 242 yards on 5.1 YPC, and ran for 6 TDs. What does that portend for game 2? Competence, I hope.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet was everywhere. He was returning kicks, returning punts - some well, some not so well - running end arounds, catching passes, and covering punts. I wouldn't be surprised to see him wearing #98 on Saturday. Wasn't Harmon known for doing everything, including kicking PATs? Don't be surprised to see Norfleet replacing Gibbons before the year is out.
I'm an international umpire
* Another thing I did this summer was to umpire at the Junior International Badminton Tournament at the club. We had kids come from 8 foreign countries and they got stuck with me, a complete novice, calling their matches. That's a roundabout way of saying I'm going to try to be more considerate of the umps this year. The operative word there is "try."
* We were called for 7 penalties for 55 yards. It seemed like double for both figures, but that's what you get in a first game, and that's why you don't schedule Alabama for your first game.
* My Dad had a good friend who worked for the Secretary of State's office in Michigan, many years ago. Those are the guys who are in charge of the license plates. So one day, my Dad asks his friend, "how do you guys assign license plate numbers? and oh, by the way, if '100 BLU' hasn't been assigned yet, do you think you can hold that one for me?" Sure enough, a few weeks go by, and Dad gets his new plates in the mail, opens up the envelope, and there is "100 BLU". Dad worked in state government, knew some politicians, and as a result, knew quite a few state trooopers. So he asks one, "is there any law about marking up a state license plate? like, say, for instance, if I were to put a little sticker on the plate?" The State Trooper tells him it's technically illegal, but as long as it's not offensive, he can probably get away with it. So Dad has a "%" sticker printed up, and places it ever so carefully between the 100 and the BLU. And that is your 100%BLU story for the week.
P.S. Next week I promise, less me and more game coverage. But come on, 59-9, right? Allow me a little leeway.