...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Finally! No,... FINALLY!!!!!
So that game was closer than it should have been. Raise your hand if you think the replay official had taken Ohio against the spread. A touchdown would have made it a 10 point game with Michigan covering the 9 point spread. But let's bitch about that later.
10-2 with wins against ND and OSU! It's beyond all expectations. If we hadn't laid an egg at Iowa and gotten screwed by the refs that game, we'd be sitting with just one loss, 3 close wins, and 8 curb stompings. You could say that I'm sold on this coaching staff. I had no idea the coordinators and position coaches would be this good. We still have a lot of issues with our WLB and our secondary, but we're light years ahead of where we were last season.
On to the pics!
I have to give him credit for coming out with an aggressive gameplan that put a lot of pressure on Braxton Miller's arm and Posey's ability to get separation. It almost worked. But the punt from the 36 yard line was a pure Zookian moment.
It's 4th and 4, the game is a high scoring affair, you've been moving the ball pretty well with your mobile QB and there's a strong possibility that you'd only be gaining 16 yards with a punt anyway. There's no debate. This was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE decision. Their punter did a good job executing the coffin corner kick, but that still doesn't justify the thought process.
Add that to Fickell's continued clock mismanagement, and I doubt you'll find a single bucknut fan who is sad to see him go (or demoted, or whatever). Not forcing a punt at the end of the first half was not that bad with a one point lead, but wasting 16 seconds for a 3rd down spike on the last drive was just awful. You could even hear Spielman rolling his eyes at that.
F* That guy
Miller is going to be a problem going forward. He fits "Urban Meyer's offense" as Spielman called it during the game (so much for the two weeks of pretense) almost perfectly. He doesn't throw a very accurate ball but *cough*tebow*cough* that doesn't mean he can't be successful in that offense.
It is interesting to note that Miller had 9 TD's and only 3 picks. Yeah, he didn't have many yards or attempts and was under 50% passing, but that's still pretty remarkable for a true freshman. He's been missing his receivers in safe ways and pulling it to run if the coverage doesn't look right. That's pretty good ball security for someone you'd expect to misread coverages due to inexperience.
He started out the game doing what we expected, we just weren't ready for his speed on the first couple of plays. On this 2nd and long, Ryan is blitzing from a walked off OLB spot.
But his path is a little too much to the outside. I know he's thinking about contain, but he's got to aim more directly at Boren and then use his arms to stay off the block.
Instead, he gets pushed outside and the tackle is free to release onto Demens.
Morgan has to do a better job of reading that lineman crossing the LOS and react quicker to Miller. Ryan would adjust later, but this gave them an important early 1st down.
Mattison really sold out on stopping the run and stopping Miller's scrambling. On Kovacs' delayed blitz, you can see we did a much better job of filling the running lanes on the rush. Morgan is playing spy (which was kind of useless...) and the D-line is free to shoot the gaps away from the blitzer.
But Miller is very elusive and showed great leg strength in getting away not only from Kovacs, but also RVB. Fortunately Demens and Martin have followed the play allowing Kovacs a second shot at the sack. Meanwhile, Morgan is .... well I think Ohio watched a lot of film on Morgan and decided to go after him all game.
Martin and RVB were great all day (of course), and they were twisting on most passing downs. This is a pretty good idea when the O-line you're facing is known to have communication problems. On this play RVB is supposed to go around Martin, but Brewster gives Martin a pretty good pop.
That's no problem for the two seniors, RVB just decides to go first and Martin swings around.
The center and guard are so concerned with Mike, they let VanBergen go free for the easy TFL.
Miller picked up 1st downs with his legs all day. The early bombs really messed with our gameplan and gave him more room to run. On this 3rd and long, we've got Kovacs in the box in our crazy lineup with all the guys on the line and different people dropping out. Because of the earlier passing success, three people are dropping into coverage, even though Ohio LOVES to call the QB draw in this situation.
The result is that Morgan got caught with his weight going the wrong direction and Miller galloped over Kovacs for a big gainer.
But I think Mattison just decided he wasn't going to let Boom Herron beat us. I think Herron ended up with less than 40 yards because of plays like this. Here we've got Kovacs coming off the receiver to run blitz.
And again you can see the linemen shooting gaps away from him.
Kovacs gets in there so fast that both Boren and Posey are blocking air. Jordan gets the TFL and the Ohio is stuck in another 3rd and long.
Miller ran the speed option a lot the last few games and that continued against us. On this touchdown, he cuts against the grain and makes Roh miss in space. Spielman was babbling about how great a play call this was and how it was a counter speed option.
I call bullshit. They definitely do have a counter speed option, but this play wasn't it. You can tell because Roh is unblocked. On the designed counter, the tackle engages the end and tries to seal him inside or kick him outside.
This looks more like improvisation by Miller. I think they just tell Posey to block on the backside like he means it on every play. They got a TD here simply on Miller's talent, not on any blocking scheme. You can see he takes a hard jabstep upfield that fools Roh just enough so that he can get outside.
After that he makes an amazing jumpcut and his momentum carries him into the endzone.
THIS is the counter speed option, except it's a playaction pass. The tip off that it's a pass is that Miller turns away from the LOS instead of going nose towards it.
It's a well designed play that turns into a rollout to the right. They've got three layers with a deep corner, the intermediate cross, and Stonebrunner is going to release into the flat. If the Defense over pursues the rollout, there's even a throwback available to Herron.
But Stonebrunner doesn't hold his block long enough or Miller doesn't get enough depth and Roh is right up in his face.
A more experienced QB might have tried to hit #11 who is open, but like I said before, Miller has been very safe with the ball. Morgan does a good job of knowing who he's playing against and comes up expecting the run instead of uselessly trailing the TE.
He was wide open though. And Denard made a similar play that turned a sack into a short gain. Maybe Miller will be making those plays in the years ahead. Guh.
I'm just glad we'll have Mattison. Because when push came to shove and we needed a stop on the goal-line in the 4th quarter, Mattison basically declared that Miller wasn't going to run the ball in. And credit Kovacs for picking up the TE on playaction so that Miller didn't have an easy throw.
F* this guy too
With only one game of film to watch, our DB's were not prepared for Posey's talent.
But after a couple of short passes to him, they were very concerned about his presence. A little too concerned.
If Gordon hadn't screwed the pooch on this, the ball was not well thrown and he could have given Brown a harder time catching it since Miller threw it to the wrong shoulder and brown had to turn around to find it.
I'm going to give our DB's a tiny little bit of slack in saying they haven't faced anyone with Posey's skill except for Michael Floyd. And they had a lot of safety help against Floyd that they didnt' get for this game. Posey is as close to Mario Mannigham that I've seen on an oposing team. He does a great job of getting on the DB's toes and making them turn their hips. But still...
Even though this is a triple move, (headfake outside, cut inside, cut outside)...
You can't let a guy get that wide open. Lucky for us this duck was overthrown.
If you're going to put 8 men in the box and play man up against the WR, then freaking play man up. Troy has Posey one on one, but because he's lined up so far back, there's no chance for him to make a play on anything but a fly.
This deep cross was not a fly.
And it didn't help that Posey turned Troy around with an outside fake. Amazingly, Miller hit him in stride (no it wasn't a tight spiral).
Posey did it to all three of our DB's (Kovacs was essentially a LB this game). On the last drive he turns around Floyd. J.T. was thinking about getting an interception, and we almost paid dearly for it.
We were about a yard and a half from being down by a point. There would have still been 1:30+ left on the clock, but I was pretty happy to see this ball hit the ground. Our offense was pretty good, and Denard was pretty accurate, but no offense to Gibbons, I'm glad we didn't have to drive for a winning field goal.
[hit the jump for the remainder]
Fitzgerald Toussaint thinks this is the most accurate toy ever for starting your children early on a promising career path.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
Common sense tells us that facing a team coming off of a bye week should be a disadvantage. Give a good coach 2 weeks to prepare for a game and they will have their team refreshed and focused, ready to take advantage of what their next opponent gives them. Mark Dantonio had the Spartans ready to exploit Michigan's flaws and that preparedness (plus a bit of dirty play) allowed Michigan State to dominate us. Brady Hoke used Michigan's bye week to effectively put the loss to Little Brother in the rearview and had the Wolverines ready to put Purdue away in style. When Miles faced Saban after each had a bye week the result was one of the most epic battles I have ever seen. This is what good coaching can do with a bye week advantage.
Ron Zook is a bad coach, this is known. It is remarkable how bad he is though, when looking at his record after bye weeks. Over the past 4 seasons (2008-2011) Illinois has had 6(!) bye weeks, with two in both 2009 and 2010. Their record following these bye weeks? 0-6:
2008: Lost to Penn St 38-24
2009: Lost to OSU 30-0, Lost to Cincinnati 49-36
2010: Lost to OSU 24-13, Lost to Fresno St 25-23
2011: Lost to Michigan (woot!) 31-14
That is epic fail. Ron Zook should be fired.
It was a very satisfying win for Michigan however. Yes, the lack of redzone efficiency kept the game interesting for far too long. This just magnified how much better this defense is than anything we could have reasonably expected. The zone blitzing destroyed Illinois. The run defense was smothering. Even the prevent defense worked almost to perfection, with Illinois needing almost 7 minutes to score when they were down 3 scores with 10 minutes to go. They kept plays in front of them, tackled in-bounds, and strangled the game. Giving up the 4th-26 was painful, but by that point it was forgivable. Greg Mattison has done better than anyone could have expected.
Live for Today…
Several players/coaches should take particular pride in their accomplishments yesterday:
- Greg Mattison - Seriously, can we get this guy a raise? I know he already makes a lot of dough, but he has earned it and then some. This defense makes such incredible leaps forward with each game... just remarkable.
- Fitz Toussaint - Got his swagger back right out of the gate. Get this guy a tear-away jersey and he would have had 250 yards. It makes so much more seem possible when a top running back steps forward.
- Devin Gardner - Looked much less lost out there. Clutch TD throw on 3rd and long really put the game away. Still needs work, but perhaps the future is looking up for DG.
- JT Floyd - Beautiful anticipation on the interception that kept Illinois from making a comeback. Played well against Jenkins, really taking away the Illini's best weapon for most of the game.
- Jeremy Gallon - Great job on punt returns. Really helped Michigan flip the field position in their favor.
Also of note: Martavious Odoms nice TD grab, Denard Robinson 2 TD runs, RVB 2.5 sacks, Desmond Morgan blowing up fools, Mike Martin is Mike Martin
Hope for Tomorrow
Michigan comes back home to wrap up the season sitting at 8-2. The rest is gravy. Every Michigan fan should be pretty happy with how the team is progressing. I have not felt this confident about the future since 2006 at least. Nebraska will be a tough test in a week, but I think Michigan will be competitive in that contest. Ohio just lost to Purdue and is a team that Michigan should beat. It is the biggest rivalry in all of sport though, so anything can happen. Regardless of how the last two games go though, this team has made this fan happy and excited about seasons to come. It is great to be a Michigan Wolverine.
Go Blue and stay safe!
My main point is Denard will significantly improve in this system when we have a consistent RB. Fitz is the answer here. Smith is a help here too. Saturday Hopkins played his way out of the rotation hopefully. Mike Shaw had 2 carries for -3 yards. We converted 5 third downs rushing vs. 10 third downs passing.
Denard had 16 carries on Saturday. Let’s give Fitz a few games with 15-20 carries, Smith-5 carries or passes, and Denard 15. If other teams stack the box like ND did, we will continue to hit the deep ball with #21, #10, and #12.
Any M fan that’s crying for Gardner over Denard needs to rewatch the final 2 minutes of the game and shut their yapper (Matt Foley can motivate them to do this). These are the same idiots who wanted young Mallett in over upperclassman Henne vs. App State-ignorance blames the QB rather than the complexity that is the team.
The only thing I want to compare this year to the last three is our record on the field and the number of recruits we’re gaining w O-state offers. As of now we’re 2-0 with a top ten recruiting class. #28, #2, and the OL will step up and help #16 as he leads this team to 9-10 wins with both his legs and arm like he did on Saturday.
In an otherwise uneventful article in the Freep, not linked here, Fred Jackson goes all Fred Jackson on Fitz Toussaint:
How talented is Toussaint?
"Michael Hart ability with speed," Jackson said, comparing Toussaint to U-M's all-time leading rusher. "The kind of guy that can do Michael's cuts, he can sit down, sink his hips and explode by making steps. He's faster than Mike and a very, very tough guy, like Mike was. He's very similar to Mike. He's not the type of inside runner Mike was -- but he's going to get there."
While Fred is known for a slight tendency toward hyperbole, this is good to hear and consistent with Former Wolv's statement that Fitz was a clear #1 before his latest injury