Its afternoon in the homeroom and they're about to let you go.
And the locker slam on the plan you had tonight.
You’ve been messing around with a boyfriend maybe better left alone.
There's a wise guy that you know could put you right.
Michigan football, we seemed prepared. The hype was there. The players, the Team. If we made such outlandishly long strides during Brady Hoke’s first season, the bounds and leaps we must have taken since the Sugar Bowl could encompass the house that Jerry built. Michigan football is back to the glory it experienced last in the late 90’s. Of course, everyone knew that if Alabama played their best game, they would be very difficult to beat. Just like the seniors guys in high school, the good-looking, football players, they could prey upon sophomore girls with flashy smiles and high-fives. We would be left to clean up the scraps and handle the left-overs.
The game started and the defense took the field. Lacy rush for 2 yards. Defense looked fast. Flying to the ball. Bama incomplete pass. The defense was there anyway. Third down. Good push on defense, two Wolverines, including Jake Ryan, force the throw to…not sure if that’s intentional grounding, but lord knows we get some no-calls our way sometimes. Bama lines up to punt. At this point, I knew we were going to win.
When Bama got the ball back, I was feeling good. So far, our defensive line, the thing I was most concerned about, was seeming to get a pretty strong push against one of the best offensive lines in the nation. Then, Alabama marched down the field, gaining 38 yards on the ground and 23 through the air. The only play during this drive that Alabama didn’t move forward was a false start. The locked slammed. Alabama was the wise guy, and I knew that he was going to put me right. My mind was racing. Maybe we shouldn’t have scheduled a neutral site game against Bama. How come we aren’t playing directional Michigan. Where is Miami(NTM)? We are playing with the big boys now, and we are in for some ...Adult Education.
In the lot the boy that's idling by doesn’t' rev your heart.
Cause it's only lonely spots he shares with you.
And the long halls and the gray walls are gonna split apart.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
Another three and out for Michigan. Bama gets the ball. Countess goes home. A man opens our locker door again, only to slam it back shut. Bama gets the ball back. Courtney Avery slips. 51 yard TD for Bama. It’s only the first quarter, the game is clearly not over, but as I stand in this parking lot and watch the chances slip away. The single barrel knob creek goes back on the shelf. The Jack Daniel’s comes out. We are on a path right now, and it is dark, and colorless. My buddy calls, one who asked if “I really thought that Michigan has a chance to beat Alabama.” He reminds me “its only the first game.” We had nothing to lose, remember. Nobody (except Mayweather and the rest of the Michigan faithful) thought we had any chance of beating Bama. We were going to show them wrong, it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. Believe it or not, however, the season moves on. It is Monday* already, and that means there are only five days of practice before we get a chance to put some of these pieces back where they belong.
The student body’s got a bad reputation.
What they need is adult education.
Back to school it's a bad situation.
But what you want is an adult education.
Michigan fans, you know, their the worst. Arrogant. Self-entitlement. Haven’t been good for years and still act like nobody can stop us. Similar to becoming an upperclassmen. We own this campus, right? We own it by right, and because the school song says so. “Leaders and the best.” We’ve paid our dues. The Rich Rod years, the under-performing talent from Carr’s final years. Michigan is back, FERGODSAKES. Who can match the style and character of the Wolverines. Certainly, as we get our faces stomped on by a team that is clearly better than us, I held my head high, mostly thanks to the Jack Daniel’s that seemed to be leaving my glass faster than I could refill it. I knew we weren’t going to win, I just refused to believe my own knowledge.
Bama continued to score, and have our way with us on both sides of the ball. Every time Denard threw the ball, I closed my eyes and cringed a bit. I have faith in Denard, I have faith in him winning games that it seems that Michigan has no right in winning. The magic wasn’t there. It was disappointing, especially because of the national spotlight.
The teacher don't know about how to deal with the student body.
And the underclassmen are flashing hot and cool.
All your girlfriends care about the watch you wear and they're talking about it.
Believe it or not there's life after high school.
The Uniforms. I have come to realize that under the current regime (Dave Brandon), the uniforms will be messed with. I know, I know, tradition, blah blah blah. I get it. Don’t change what’s not broken. I have played football in several different uniforms. Never once while I was playing did I think “hmm, this piping on my sleeve is really hampering my ability to compete at a top level.”
By now, it was half-time, and my head was throbbing. All the adrenaline I had started the game with had been slammed up in that locker at the start of the game. I just wanted it to be over. I wanted Bama to stop running the ball. It was painful to watch. The coaches, I could tell that they thought we were ready. They thought they had the plan, they thought they knew. A quote from Mattison popped in to my head. “When you’re pressuring, if a guy like Denard is taking off, it makes it look like it’s not a very good defense sometimes, but you can’t gear everything towards stopping Denard. That’s what we on defense have to always talk about. We have to get ready for the season. We can’t worry about what he’s doing to us.” Does this mean our defense isn’t ready?. Boy is it frustrating.
They're calling it a preparation.
You’re waiting for a separation.
You’re nothing but another odd number,
Memories that you wont remember.
So you got a little education.
And a lot of dedication.
But you want a little night school.
Maybe some of it will rub off on you.
The boys are busy in the mirrors.
Trying to imitate their heroes.
You make it with a false surrender.
More memories you wont remember.
The senior with the junior missus
I wonder what the junior wishes.
That she could graduate to adult.
That she could graduate to adult kisses.
This game, it was a measuring stick for us. As I said before, of course I thought we were going to win. Or show up. Or compete well even after the game was over. It is just so incredibly frustrating that we didn’t play our best game. I don’t know if we would have won. I don’t know if we would have been able to keep it close. But at least, if we had showed up and not had our locker slammed shut, we would have had a chance to use the measuring stick and see where we were at. I won’t remember, at the end of the season, how the Alabama gouged use for an average of 5.5 yards per carry. Yeah, we learned a bit about where we stand next to, potentially the best team this year. But just like when I was in high school, I refuse to believe what I learned, only that we aren’t there yet.
At the end of the night, I was moderately toasted. The glass I was drinking my Jack Daniel’s from had been replaced by the bottle itself. I stared at myself in the mirror, knowing now what my identity was but still refusing to believe it. False surrender, that is what I am showing. I will tell my friends, of course we were going to lose to Bama, they are good at football, very good. But it’s lies. I didn’t think we could lose. I knew we were going to win. The world was going to be shocked. Michigan stamped its foot down last year, as if to remind the country that they are still relevant. Alabama serves as a healthy reminder that we are rebuilding, not rebuilt.
I would like to relate a story to you from 2006. Ball Sate, coached by Brady Hoke, came to the big house. Michigan was currently undefeated. The Cardinals managed to barely lose to Michigan, causing one of Mike Hart's only fumbles of ever (it was counted as a safety, not a fumble). There was a facebook group started called "We made the Big House go quiet." (Facebook was still cool then, yo.) Nate Davis's final desperation heave fell incomplete, and we went home with a loss, and the spirits were high. We would go on to finish that season 5-7, winning both games after we played Michigan. However, Monday morning, Coach Hoke adressed the team. He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season. This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."
I understand that playing Alabama, there was no moral victory. I am proud of the way our players continued to try, long after the game was over. Dennis Norfleet, Devin Gardner, there are certainly positives we can take from this. Jordan Kovacs said it best though.
We can't let Alabama beat us twice
Am I really going to do this again, this season? Yeah, I guess I am. I have very little personal insight to bring to the table when it comes to Alabama. One of my best friends from my Rackham days is from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. In the “Greatest County Names” contest, there is Tallapoosa County, and there is everyone else. It’s near Wetumpka, Alabama, in case you were wondering. I also love “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, I have always wondered about these lyrics in the song: “Now Watergate does not bother me, Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth.” What the hell does that even mean? Why doesn’t a President of the United States resigning in disgrace bother him? And better yet, what is the relationship between Alabama and Watergate? I was a toddler when Watergate went down, so if anybody has any idea what that’s all about, please let me know. Hey, it’s better than rehashing the game. Coincidentally, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” also beat Kid Rock’s Michigan-based ode to “Sweet Home Alabama,” titled, “All Summer Long,” by a final score of 41-14.
You don’t want to go there. Seriously, trust me, you don’t want to go there. Wouldn’t you rather I link you to Morrissey’s complete catalogue, pictures of tire fires, or nuclear bombs going off? No, you want the link. OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Burst of Impetus
- I’m starting fresh this season with section titles, but this one is too good not to hold over. It’s for momentum changing plays.
- Things started great for UofM, holding Bama to 1 yard in their first series. However, Bama got off a great punt and flipped the field. We did manage to eak out a first down and seemed to have some momentum, even considering the slightly off slant patterns. Then we got hit with the 15 yarder on Lewan, when off-setting penalties should have been called. It all went downhill after that.
- I also thought we were in trouble this week when I heard Brady gave out 7 scholarships to walk-ons. I’m sure they are worthy, and I’m happy for them, but that kind of thing just does not happen at Bama. We are still a little thin on the depth chart, and when some players get suspended and some get injured early in the game, the talent gap starts to widen. It will improve, but we’re not there yet.
Sometimes, poop is just poop
- This better not be a recurring section, but in my season prediction email to my brother, I suggested that some regression to the mean was to be expected. I even made the blasphemous statement that we might find out that Brady Hoke’s poop is not made of gold. Well, on almost all of the 50-50 plays, they went Bama’s way. For example:
- Gallon caught a 71 yard pass when he needed 71.1 yards. (Flashbacks to Illinois, STOP IT PLEASE!!!)
- On 4thand 3, Denard seemingly stretched for the first down, only to have replay overrule the play because his elbow went down before the sticks.
- Early in the game, Rawls was facemasked while Lewan took someone’s helmet off. Guess who got the penalty?
- Bama downed a punt at the 1 foot line. It seemed like several players had a chance to bring the ball into the endzone with them, but the ball someone managed to stay at the one. This lead to the pick-six. Poop.
- The one time Bama turned the ball over, it was at the end of the half and we couldn’t benefit from it. Poop. Lousy, stinky, poop.
- This is the all-encompassing section on the defense. I think “Kehrvacks” sounds funnier than “Dehrnerd,” and they are both captains, so Jordan gets the ermahgerd treatment.
- If you look hard enough, there were a few good things. We held Lacy to 3.9 YPC and Hart to 2.1. But this points to the talent advantage Bama has. When option 1 and 3 aren’t working, go with option 2. Yeldon had 11 carries for 111 yards.
- We had 3 sacks and 9 TFLs, but the TFLs were all of the 1 and 2 yard variety. We didn’t really get any penetration. Two of the TFLs were from Brink late in the game. I’m wondering if maybe he sees more time in the future, particularly against less beefy teams. If there is any second guessing by Mattison this week, I suspect it will be the decision to try to match size with Bama. Perhaps a quicker line might have been able to sneak through, but I doubt it. Bama’s O-Line is NFL ready.
- McCarron was only 11 for 21, and we forced several throwaways. What happened to intentional grounding? Is that not a penalty anymore? I thought chucking the ball into the stands was a penalty. No? OK, let’s just move on.
- We held Bama to only 431 yards. They may be the best offense we face all year. If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy.
- The bad news was that 3 of our top 4 tacklers were DBs. Demens only had 3 tackles. I’m worried about the UFR, but that’s to be expected after giving up 41 points (and yes, the defense was only responsible for 34.)
- Morgan had 8 tackles, but they were all assisted tackles, which epitomizes the game. In all of the one-on-one matchups, we lost. Bama was just more “-er” than us, bigger, stronger, faster, tougher. I avoided watching Bama last season because I hate that “ESS EEE SEE” crap, but there’s no denying how good they are.
- 25 guys registered at least one tackle. Some of that was blow-out time stuff, but it seemed like Mattison was searching for something that would work.
- You had to see this title coming a mile away, right? Hopefully, we get rid of the “?” next week.
- Denard ran 10 times for 27 net yards. He ran for a TD. Going into the game, one of the stats I saw more than once was how many runs Denard has had of 10 yards or longer in the past two seasons. His long this game was 9 yards. I don’t blame Borges for keeping the carries down. Without Fitz, Bama was free to tee off on Denard. I think it was more important to keep him relatively healthy than run him 25 times and leave him a bloody pulp at the end in a futile attempt to keep it close.
- Denard was 11 for 26 passing with 2 INTs. One of the INTs was the official’s fault for not calling pass interference, or Roundtree’s fault for letting himself be treated like a ragdoll.
- Denard threw for 200 yards, helped greatly by a 71 yard bomb to Gallon. It looked like Bama was giving up the long ball, but Denard and Devin are not in sync yet. Give it time, this duo will be all right by season’s end.
- The local news had a story about how there was a rare zonkey at the LA county fair this week. That’s a combination of a zebra and a jackass, I mean, a donkey. I can’t think of a more fitting description of the officiating.
- I was a little surprised to see that we were called for more penalties, and for significantly more yards. UM: 8-99, Bama: 7-55. The game reminded me of the 2000 Orange Bowl game we played against them when they set a record with 18 penalties for 132 yards, only the officials didn’t use their flags this game.
- I know Bama has 3 pre-season all-Americans on their O-line, but that doesn’t mean they can hold with impunity. I’m sure Blue Seoul will have some examples, but that’s not the reason we lost.
Passing Game Stuff
- Gallon looks to be the guy, at least until Devin and Denard get more comfortable.
- Roundtree caught two passes late. He better step up, or else I’m going to question that 21 patch he has. Maybe he’s still <100% after the surgery. I hope that’s the reason, because we can’t rely on a 5’ 8” #1 receiver and a converted QB to be the only options.
- More Dileo please. He only caught one ball, but wasn’t targeted that often.
- Kwiatkowski caught one pass for 6 yards. DAMN YOU RODRIGUEZ! I want moar tight ends!!!
- I was going to skip this section as well this year, but Jareth Glanda registered a tackle as #5D. After his Sugar Bowl heroics, any time I can send the love his way, you know I will.
- James Ross shows up in the boxscore as “Ross III, James.” ST3 approves. I wonder if he ever gets mail addressed to him as James Ross Iii?
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
- I was going to wait until we got to the meat of the BIG 10 Network portion of the schedule for this, but “Devin Smith?” Pound for pound, he’s the toughest guy who doesn’t exist on our roster.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- Hagerup did get off some boomers, but our average Net Yards per punt was only 35.3, 16 yards less than our average punt distance. Bama, on the other hand, netted 46.2 yards on a 47 yard average. That’s coverage.
- While Norfleet looked good, the average kick return was only 22.1 yards. When a touchback takes you out to the 25, I’m not so impressed by 22 yards. It was clearly better than last season.
- Wile: 3 kickoffs, 3 touchbacks. Dude has a leg.
- Time of possession is meaningless. We had the ball for 28:34 to their 31:26. We also had 56 offensive plays to their 63. It seemed like a lot worse than that.
I'm a little curious about the starting RB situation. If Rawls was the starter, why did Smith get (seemingly) 80% of the carries? Was it a diversion for the Alabama D's prep work? (BTW, I hold Smith in high regard; he is tough!)
Also, it was a little surprising that Roundtree was targeted very little. I spit a mouthful of water out unintentionally after the DG TD; my wife said, "Well at least that play finally worked!" Oh, it sure did!
I feel that Michigan played a strong game against an excellent team that will dominate its conference (and division this time?). They did not give up; they nearly outplayed Bama in the second half & they scored more points than LSU did!
OL/DL strength; guess which team walked away with the pair of sacks!
All in all, It's Still Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine!
After reading so many Michigan fans' opinions about what the Wolverines have to accomplish to win this game, I am interested in hearing what your predictions are for the final score. Also, what will be the most notable aspects of the game as you imagine looking back on it?
Michigan 26, Alabama 24
Norfleet and/or Hayes makes significant contribution(s). Saban's face turns a shade of red never before identified.
The key I will be looking for early on is how Craig Roh holds up against the double-team from the tackle and tight end. If he can hold his ground, we can handle their running game all right. If not, we are going to be in inside-zone/outside-zone hell to the strong side all night.
Prediction: I believe Roh will do all right, giving us a chance in this game.
I know most people are probably itching for some more content on Michigan's team but I was on RollTide.com to see if they had any sort of video/preview of their team - just so I know what we are going to be dealing with.
From the Offensive and Defensive previews - I get a sense that most of their players realize that Alabama doesn't rebuild just reloads, which could be taken as overconfidence but is also just flat out scary. Their equivalent of Doug Karsch has a thick southern accent and says "defaynce" not "defense". Pretty good information though, after watching these you'll at least recognize some opposing player names while watching the game.
I also found it interesting that ESPN Gameday and Kirk Herbstreit shot a 30 second spot for RollTide.com specifically to tell Alabama fans to show up for Gameday. It had details of the time, place (specific lot @ Cowboys Stadium) and to "show Michigan fans how Alabama fans support their team". I like to think it reflects how easily influenced some fanbases are over others. =)