And Justice for Rawls
It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.) I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.
Burst of Impetus
* We stopped Minnesota early on a 4th and 1, but promptly turned the ball over on an INT, so net impetus = 0.
* Michigan started the 2nd quarter trailing Minnesota 7-0, with the ball at our own 9 yard line, due to less than special special teams. Rawls got the ball for 4 of the next 5 plays, and we pushed the ball out to our 34. However, the drive was about to stall as we faced 3rd and 17 from the Minnesota 45. Gardner was chased out of the pocket, did some Gardner things, and found Dileo WIDE open in the end zone. Boom, 7-7. The team collectively took a deep breath, regained their confidence, and controlled the impetus for the rest of the game.
* Minnesota had a chance to get right back in the game in the 3rd quarter, but decided to run a fake FG on 4th and 16. It would have been a great call on 4th and 1 or 2, or even 5, but 4th and 16?
* 22 Michigan defenders recorded a defensive stat, lead by linebackers Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan with 10 and 9 tackles, respectively.
* Our one sack was from a patented Jordan Kovacs heat-seaking-missile style blitz that also forced a fumble. Unfortunately, that was the only pressure on Minnesota's QB, as Michigan registered 0 QHs.
* Michigan recorded 7 TFLs, led by Ryan with 3. He returned to super-human status this week.
* Floyd had 2 pass breakups and Morgan had 1.
* Minnesota was held to only 275 yards total offense. However, they managed to eek out 21 first downs from those meager yards.
Ermahgerd Dehrvern ERMAHGERDNER
* Gardner threw an early INT, but then settled down. That's what experience will do for you.
* He finished 12 of 18 for 234 yards and two TDs passing.
* Gardner also ran 10 times for 21 yards and a TD, but subtracting sacks he was 7 for 44, for a healthy 6.3 YPC. He also showed an ability, time and again, to make the first tackler miss.
* For anyone who thinks height is overrated in a QB, the Devin/Denard case study should be exhibit A. I got the sense that Devin's height allowed him to see open receivers better, particularly on the bomb to Dileo.
Bunches of Funchess
* Michigan receivers had long catches of 47, 45, 47, and 22 yards. It was that kind of day.
* Jeremy Gallon caught four balls for 72 yards and a TD. Chris Martin of the B1G Network continuously criticized Gallon for being inconsistent this season. Has anyone in the MGoUniverse felt like that? Where did that comment even come from? I wouldn't make a big deal of it, if he only said it once, but he must've come back to that three more times during the telecast. Did someone tell Martin that Gallon was a pre-season All-American, or something? I just don't get it. I'll take Jeremy Gallon on my team any day.
And Justice for Rawls
* Is Thomas Rawls our new #1 running back? Except for Toussaint's last run, I'd have to say yes. Rawls had three more carries than Fitz, and they were about even in yards until Fitz' last run. Granted, I'm just a casual fan watching from home, but I see Rawls break tackles, move the pile, and fall forward for extra yards. I see Fitz getting brought down by the first defender he faces.
* Fitz, Rawls, and Gardner all ran for TDs.
Norf and Souf
* Ugh, where do we begin. Our net yards per kickoff was 33.8. Their net was 43.7. Our net punt was 29.3 yards. Their net was 41.3. So every time we had an exchange of punts or kickoffs, they gained the equivalent of a first down.
* Even Norfleet comes in for a little blame this week, as he brought one kickoff out of the endzone that he should have downed. We had a penalty on the play and started the drive at our 9. When you are starting a new QB in the 9th week of the season and he's been practicing at WR all year, I want to give him every chance for success. Starting from the 25 instead of the 9 could have been a big advantage. However, it didn't matter this week as we had scoring drives of 91, 90, 86, 79, and 50 yards.
* Jerry Kill did not appear to agree with a pass interference penalty against his gophers. I hope the lip readers at home weren't easily offended. I tend to think that shoving a WR with both hands in the chest, and then grabbing an arm to prevent the receiver from reaching for the ball is pass interference, but maybe that's just me. The refs may have felt bad for Jerry, because they appeared to give the gophers three make up call PI penalties on a drive later in the game.
* Memo to the B1G Network: No more Chris Martin, please. And by the way, a 45 yard TD pass does not count as a Red zone score. You actually have to be in the red zone for that to occur.
* Minnesota had some great names, lead by Martez Shabazz and their kicker, J. Wettstein. Sorry Minnesota, no little brown jug for you, but at least you have a wet stein. Lincoln Plsek caught a pass, now he just needs to buy a vowel. And Cam Botticelli made three tackles. Somewhere, Elaine Benis is asking why I'm writing about her shoes. (I know that's a stretch, but I had to continue the sitcom theme we've been exploring this year.)
* How about a little game theory from ItBS. Why did Minnesota spike the ball with 16 seconds and two timeouts left in the first half? They proceeded to throw two incomplete passes and miss a 55 yard FG with 2 timeouts still in their pocket. Also, I'd normally agree with Kill going for it on 4th and 1 early from our 40, but under the circumstances, I think you punt the ball and keep the pressure on Gardner.
Outside the Boxscore
* I spent a lot of time last year discussing our myriad uniform combinations - throwbacks, shoulder stripes, pink accents, helmet numbers, etc. Fortunately, I haven't had to go there this year. But I did notice something on the base of the Minnesota players' helmets. It says "Ski-U-Mah." Being the inquisitive sort, I started looking into the origin of this. It dates way back to the old tongue of the Sioux nation. Apparently, Ski-U-Mah is Sioux for "Man without jug."
900. 68-32-5. 113,833. 12-0. 40-3.
Those are the most important numbers this weekend, and only one of them showed up in the boxscore. 900, of course, is the total number of wins that the University of Michigan football teams 1 through 133 have accumulated. That's against only 312 losses and 36 ties. Michigan State, by comparison, has 629 wins. That's more than I thought, but still, cue Nelson Muntz:
68-32-5 is our record against MSU. My dad is always ready to answer two questions. One, "how many days are there to kickoff?" and, two, "What is Michigan's record against MSU?" That's a helpful way to survive living in East Lansing. It's nice to see that 67 change to a 68. Let's not wait that long to make it 69.
113,833 was the attendance for the game. It was the third most attended game in Michigan history, which makes it the most attended game in MSU history. 12-0 is now Brady Hoke's record as head coach at Michigan Stadium. He's given us a few scares over the past season and a half, but so far, he remains perfect.
40-3 is the record of the team that gained the most yards rushing in this game, in the last 43 games. For some reason, the TV-types have chosen to look at the past 43 games which coincides with the number of games I've been alive for. Maybe that's why I'm a defense-loving, MANBALL enthusiast. OK, you've been patient enough. Here's your link.
Burst of Impetus
* Holy impetus, Batman, where do I begin? After two conference cakewalks, we had to battle down to the last 0:05 seconds. However, I didn't get the feeling that either team ever got much momentum going. The defenses were just too strong.
* That said, there were several plays where momentum COULD have been seized, for example, if we had recovered either of State's fourth quarter fumbles, I thought we could have put them away. If Toussaint or Robinson's long runs had gone to the house, we might have broken them. Instead, we had to settle for FGs.
* State's fake punt was a huge play, but they lost the game, didn't they, so I guess it wasn't that big. Suck it, Dantonio.
* Defensively, the Kovacs interception was big, but the biggest play of the game was 3rd and goal, when State ran to the wide side of the field and our defense knocked Bell out of bounds short of the goal line. Last year, they scored TDs twice (I believe) on similar plays. Not this year.
* Le'Veon Bell was held to 68 yards on 26 carries, for a 2.6 YPC average.
* I remember in Ron Dayne's Heisman season, when he gained 1800+ yards and was in total beast mode all season, we held him to 88 yards. Le'Veon Bell isn't Ron Dayne, but he is one powerful runner, and the Michigan Defense shut him down.
* 19 players registered a defensive stat, lead by Desmond Morgan with 11 tackles. Keep that up, and we're going to forget all about Gerald WhatsHisName...
* Ryan was second with 10 tackles. I'm thrilled that sparties around sparty nation - basically East Lansing and parts of Bath, Pewamo and Westphalia - are dreading that they have to face Morgan and Ryan for two more years.
* Ryan got the lone sack on the day and forced one of State's two fumbles.
* Dernard carried 20 times for 96 yards, for a 4.8 YPC average, helped out immensely by his 44 yard run. I know we want Denard to stay healthy, but in the 4th quarter against state, I want every yard we can get. The plays following his long run backfired and we were left with no choice but to punt.
* Denard didn't quite get to 50% passing, but he did just enough for us to win, and avoided the costly turnover. (The one INT was at the end of the half, and basically meaningless.)
* The TEAM had one incomplete pass. I don't remember the TEAM throwing that pass.
Bunches of Funchess
* Dileo was the star of the day with 4 catches for 92 yards.
* Fitz caught 3 passes for 2 yards. Ugh. The last one he should have let fall to the turf. Instead, the clock kept running and we had to burn our last timeout.
* Funchess only caught one pass and wasn't a big part of the offense. That was basically true for all the younger guys. Brady and Borges put this game in their veterans hands, and they came through.
And Justice for Rawls
* Last week, I asked for suggestions for this section title. I was thinking of going with a Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis inspired name, and call it FitzJustice Smith-Rawls. I emailed that to my brother and he responed with "And Justice for Rawls." It seems fitting, considering how much time we wasted playing air guitar to that album.
* The section title would have worked a lot better last week, when Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls actually got some carries, but at least between this and Bunches of Funchess, I've got two sections covered for a few years.
* Fitz chipped in 52 yards, most coming on a 38 yard run. I had nightmares last night of Fitz getting the ball 6 yards behind the LOS, and immediately facing two spartan defenders.
* Vincent Smith had one huge 12 yard gain late in the game, where Borges went against tendency and actually ran someone other than Fitz or Denard.
Norf and Souf
* Punts were 7-290 for State, and 7-295 for us. They did have a slightly longer net, FWIW. Each team only returned one punt.
* Norfleet had one KR for 21 yards.
* Over the years, it seems the one advantage State has consistently had over us was in the kicking game. This goes way back to Morten Andersen. But this time, we hit the long FG, we made all our attempts, and they missed an easy one.
* We had Witvoet's crew for the game. After calling a penalty on State, he let Hawthorne have it. I'm not sure what Brandin did, but I'm just glad he didn't draw an unsportmanlike penalty call.
* The officials let it be known early that they weren't going to stand for any shenanigans this year, calling Lewan for a somewhat touchy late hit. I wish they would have sent a message by calling a penalty on the team responsible for all the shenanigans last year, but they kept things under control, so no complaints.
* Penalty yards were roughly even, 50 for them, 55 against us.
* I thought they let the defensive backs play aggressively, which I'm fine with, but that seems to benefit State's defensive approach more than ours.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
* First downs were even, 16-16. Each team had 7 rushing, 8 passing and 1 by penalty. Yeah, it was that close.
* Even though the rushing first downs were even, because of the two long runs, We outgained them on the ground 163-112, and as a result, won the game. History don't lie.
* Turnovers were even (Boy, do I feel like I'm repeating myself) at 1 apiece, but their's was much more costly.
* Third down conversions were almost the same, as they were 6 of 17 (~1/3) and we were 5 of 15 (exactly 1/3.)
Outside the Boxscore
* A win is a win, and this was a particularly huge one, but I'm a little concerned about the mental errors late in the game. Roundtree had a false start penalty, Fitz caught that pass with 19 seconds left, the punt defense let a gaping hole open for state's punter, and the guys had a penalty for excessive celebration at the end. I'm sure Brady will address these and other points this week. The Legends Division is there for the taking, but we've got to cut out the mistakes.
* With about 8 1/2 minutes left in the game, I saw Lloyd Brady for the first time this season. Lloyd, where have you been? At that point, I knew we were going to win, because even AIRBHG isn't mean enough to make Lloyd Brady sad. That would be like kicking a cat or something.
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
* Glen Mason claimed that Dantonio called a timeout to remind his defenders not to "rough the holder." After thinking about it for second, I figured he was probably correct, because you can never be sure about who sparties are going to rough.
* Can they just replace Glen Mason with J Leman, is that possible?