2009 UM Football
2009 Notre Dame game is on the Big Ten Network right now.
After the longest wait I have ever experienced between Michigan football games, it's over. Wolverine Nation can breathe a little easier. As they say, the proverbial weight has been lifted. Leaving the stadium, you could feel the tension rise away, as hope set in for the dawn of new era of Michigan Football.
Skeptics believed. The faithful rejoiced. In the midst of the crapstorm that has been circling around the program since the RichRod hire, the Michigan Wolverines managed to prevail. And in doing so, they managed to prove something they have been waiting over a year to prove. Michigan Football will be back, and they will be hungry.
I just recently graduated from U of M and was lucky enough to get a job in Ann Arbor, and able to go to the game to see the team in person today. It was actually kind of funny looking at my facebook status updated from all my friends at Michigan, and in one moment, people were finally excited again. The long winter was over.
The defense looked solid. They were able to tackle (finally) and managed to stop, for the most part, those long plays that plagued us all last year. Upon GERG's hire, he stressed the importance of fundamentals to his game. Tackling. Angles of pursuit. Stevie Brown in a spot that fits him.
Tate looked good. He looked like he had a handle on the offense. He worked through his progressions pretty well, and as another poster said, he took control (I don't remember which post in was in, sorry). He did the things that we had wished Threet or Sheridan could have done in even the faintest glimmer of hope last season. It's amazing what a quarterback suited for the system can do for you. He has a lot of room to grow, and in my opinion, a hell of a lot of upside, but simply having someone meant for the system makes such a big difference. Denard was fast. REALLY fast.
We didn't fumble punts. Enough said.
I say this all with cautious optimism, all be it slightly less than 24 hours ago. I think the most important thing we can take away from today is that we do have a lot of growing to do, we're still a young team, and we are going to have the associated growing pains. But today we also learned to appreciate the small things-- tackling, angles, completing passes, holding on to the ball. These are the things that will win championships--take it from Bo--and it looks like we are headed in the right direction. We will see in a week against the Irish.
Listen guys, I know this week’s been tough. Everyone is counting us out, questioning our heart, our determination, our will to win. The fans and media say this team is a rudderless ship, taking on water and circling the drain. They say we are still looking for our identity, that we are missing some pieces to the puzzle and they doubt we’ll be able to pull together and find our way. They say it’s going to be another rebuilding year, that we’ll stay the doormat while our rivals sip from the cup of glory.
They say I’m on the hot seat, that I’m under fire and that the AD and Boosters ain’t happy about the product I’m putting out on the field. They say the inmates are running the asylum, that I’ve lost control of this team and that there is dissention in the ranks. They wonder if I’ll make it to the end of the season, and I’ll admit that the buck stops with me.
Our rivals are licking their lips and ready to give us the business, and they can’t wait to come into our house and beat the snot out of us. They are looking for revenge and retribution, and they’ve got some bad intentions. They can smell blood in the water, and they are circling in for the kill. They are going for our jugular, gentlemen.
And the media is saying that this team isn’t a family anymore, that we are bunch of individuals and not a cohesive unit. They say we’ve got too many off-the-field distractions, that our heads are not in this game and that we don’t have leadership at the top. They say we’re on the ropes, and ripe for a knockout. They say that this first game is a “Must Win,” that this game will define our season for us. One week until the biggest game our lives.
We are in hell gentlemen.
Now if we go out there, and we half-ass it 'cause we're scared, all we're left with is an excuse; we're always gonna wonder. But if we go out there, and we give it absolutely everything - that's heroic.
We’ve just got to dig deeper, deeper than we’ve ever dug before. We’ve got to find that inner demon, that eye of the tiger. I don’t believe anything they are saying about us out there; the only opinions I care about are from the men in this lockerroom. And what I’ve seen and heard is a team that is tired of getting dirt kicked in its face, is tired of being told that it can’t win, that is doesn’t know how to play the game the right way. I see a team that’s been cornered like a wild animal.
And you want to know what happens when you corner an animal – it comes out fighting for its life. We are fighting for the way we live our lives men, the way Michigan Men play this game. We are fighting for respect, for the right to be considered champions again. We’re on a mission gentlemen, to claw our way back into the light. I don't care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe... I don't know, maybe we'll learn to play this game like men.
That means we need to be willing to give 110% every time we step out onto that field. I’ve seen the blood, sweat, and tears that you guys have given to this program during the offseason. There is no other group of guys I’d rather go into battle with than the men in this room. Because we are going to lose as a team, and we damn sure are going to win as a team.
Football is a game of inches gentlemen, and on this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Because every game this season is going to be a war, and we are going to have to earn everything we get. Nobody is going to hand us a victory; we are going to have to take it from them. This game is four quarters, and don’t take a play off. Nobody believes in us right now; let’s go out there and give them something to believe in.
The first quarter, hit them in the mouth and let them know that they’re playing football. They start talking, you keep quiet and play your game. Play within yourself, but just keep coming. And look out for each other, and if someone makes his mistake, clean it up for him.
Second quarter, turn up the heat. Don’t give them anything easy. They want to run it on you, make them pay. They want to throw it by you, make them pay. They try to stop you, make them pay. I want them to look over on our side of the field and realize that they’re in for the fight of their lives. I want them checking their plane tickets at halftime to see if they can go home sooner.
Third quarter, they’re going to get tired, but you’ll keep coming. You are the best-conditioned team in the country, and your heart is the strongest muscle in your body. You just keep hitting them, you keep scoring, and you’ll see the fear in their eyes.
Fourth quarter, that’s when champions are revealed. You are going to need to take your game to another level, gentlemen, but you have laid the foundation and you know, in your heart of hearts, that you can get there.
Now, this season is going to test you gentlemen. There are going to be times when you want to give up, when you don’t think you can give anything more. But that’s when you have to band together and pick each other, support your brother out there and raise all of your games to places you never dreamt possible.
We’re in the business of winning football games, and business is about to pick up. So let’s go out there and shock the world. Go Blue!
Now before the LITERAL Police blow an aneurysm, I obviously am not using the term literally. (In fact, if must-win is only used when it is mathematically correct, it becomes rather: "Well, Duh!?")
I do not mean we must win or RR will be fired.
I do not mean we must win or the season is doomed.
I do mean it would be really, really, really good to win this one because (in reverse order):
4) A win will make the decibel level of THAT story decrease to almost inaudible levels.
3) This game is included in the win column of everyone's prediction for the season. Winning makes the journey easier instead of harder.
2) This is a young team that has worked very hard and sacrificed. It is imperative they see some tangible results.
1) I am tired of being depressed and pretending to all my non-Michigan friends that last year was no big deal (otherwise I would be telling them to "Shut the F*ck Up!" which, I have found, is not too good for keeping those friends).