The helmet is off Shoelace
It was a tale of two halves. I preferred the second. The first half was all, QB oh no*. The second half was QB OMG. The first half was GERG. The second half was Greg. And now on to the box score, as brought to you by your local MGoBlogging box scorespondent (see what I did there?)
Burst of Impetus
- We lost the turnover battle 3-2, but adding in the 4thdown conversions or lack thereof, it was +1 for UofM.
- The biggest change in momentum came at halftime. Oh, to be a fly on the wall to hear Hoke’s halftime speech. As a boy, on the rare times we were down 10 points, my Father always reassured me that Bo and the rest of the coaches would make the proper adjustments and we would come back in the second half. More often than not, he was right. If this is what it means to return to the MANBALL/Bo coaching philosophy, sign me up. So far this year, we are outscoring our opponents 114-21 in the 2ndhalf.
- In contrast, I think Fitzgerald made the wrong halftime adjustments. Where was Colter in the 2ndhalf? He was killing us early in the game. Speaking of Hoke and Fitzgerald, I wonder what was said after the game. My guess is that Hoke thanked Fitz for not taking the M job. I would have.
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
- Persa was a 72% passer coming into this game (for his career, I think.) I wanted to see if he could match that against Mattison’s Monsters. (How many of you remember McCartney’s Monsters?) Persa started off slow, but really got on a roll in the first half. He ended up going 32 for 44, or 72.7%, so we held him to his average. Hurray for moral victories!
- Following up on my midweek post, NU was only 4 of 11 on third downs.
- The leading tacklers were a couple of linebackers, lead by Demens with 10. That’s pretty impressive considering NU passed the ball 44 times, but they were mostly of the dink and dunk variety.
- After starting slowly in the sack department, we picked up 3 last week and 4 this week, including a decapitation by Kovacs and a Wile E. Coyote style steamrolling by Will Campbell.
- After giving up 297 yards in the first half, the defense settled down (and the offense controlled the clock for major stretches) limiting NU to 438 yards total for the game. A tad higher than my goal of 400 per game, but NU does have a good offense, I think everyone would agree. And they would have been held under 400 if the refs called holding penalties. More on that in the ref section, don’t neg me yet.
- 22 players showed up in the defensive stats. A week after scoring TDs in three different ways, Vincent Smith made 2 tackles. Is there anything this guy cannot do? He is a football player, plain and simple. I almost wonder if the Chargers should take a flyer on him as a possible Sproles replacement. (Don’t neg me Magnus, I’m prone to hyperbole.)
- During the postgame interview, Hoke said the defense, “played with a lot of grit.” Is it possible Brady reads MGoBlog?
- This was a statement game for Denard, and the statement was, if you put 9 in the box to stop our run, I will drop 337 passing yards on your asses.
- Denard also ran for 117 yards on (cover your eyes) 25 carries. Well, at least he was rested from last week.
- When Denard got hurt, one of the B1G announcers said, “The helmet is off Shoelace.” This reminded me of that old cliché, “Elvis has left the building.” My hope is that “The helmet is off Shoelace,” becomes our victory cigar, indicating that the game is salted away and the reserves are in. It’s an odd visual if you think about it, shoelaces wearing helmets.
- Filthy stat of the game: we were 14 for 17 on third down. That’s awesome. We punted once. The only thing stopping this offense was this offense.
Big John R. Studd Referee Section
- I thought the referees were particularly bad this game, but they were bad for both teams. During one NU drive in the first half, the referees got a holding hat trick. On one WR screen, I saw one of the NU wide receivers hold our DB. On the next play, the same thing happened. The hold was so obvious, the Michigan fans could be heard loudly booing the refs. I don’t think that was from NU fans booing a 7 yard gain by their team. At the end of that drive, Derek Rackley from the B1G Network pointed out a hold against Thomas Gordon. That’s three uncalled holds in the same drive; the holding hat trick.
- The non-face mask penalty that wasn’t could have been a pivotal play. When I saw it live, I couldn’t tell if Kovacs just obliterated Persa that spectacularly that the helmet flew off due to the hit, or if he yanked it off. On the replay, it appears Kovacs got just a piece of the mask, but that was when Persa was bent over, making it very hard for the officials to see. I’m glad they didn’t assume there was a penalty just based on the result of the play. You can only call what you see, and if you don’t see the face mask, you can’t call it.
- There were two big booth replays. We won both. Both appeared to be mere inches from going the other way. While I was upset about the flagrant non-holding non-calls, I’m glad we got the two close calls. File this under the “Hoke poops gold nuggets” category.
- Total penalties were 5 for each side, so again, these things even out.
- The refs missed a blatant offsides against Lewan, but I wonder if this is like when a pitcher is throwing a no-no. If there is any chance the fielder missed up, they give him an error to protect the no hitter. Maybe the refs were waiting for something really egregious to end Lewan’s penalty-free season. (He may have a penalty or two this year, but he’s light-years better than last season. Ah, experience.)
- There were some great names among the officials, lead by Jim Krogstad. That’s a guy you can go to war with.
- When Watson caught the first TD pass, I thought he may have trapped it based on his reaction. Maybe he just doesn’t know how to celebrate a TD, but it looked like he thought it was going to be called back. The replay showed he got his hands under the ball and it was a good catch. A little advice for Steve, you can be a little excited next time you score.
- Leading receivers were Hemingway and Gallon with 5 apiece.
- In the first half, Robinson and Roundtree seemed like they were not on the same page. I counted three times DR threw to RR where the ball wasn’t even close. It was a different story in the second half as Roy caught a huge 16 yarder on 3rdand 11, and followed that up with a 57 yard reception. I’m sorry I ever doubted you Roy.
- Devin threw one pass to Jackson for a nice gain. Hey, when you’ve got Jerry Rice with speed on your roster, you’ve got to throw him the rock every now and then.
- I thought the Desmond Howard patch looked really good on the white jersey. I barely noticed it on the home unis.
- Northwestern got 1 miscellaneous yard in the boxscore. I thought that was worth mentioning.
- #7A, Brandin Hawthorne, made a spectacular diving interception and tallied 9 total tackles.
- Last week I introduced the TFNG (tackle for no gain) as an advanced metric I’d like to see added to the boxscore. This week’s stat is YAP (yards after punt.) These are the yards a team gains after the punt hits the ground and continues to roll since the return man failed to catch the ball. NU picked up at least 3 first downs worth of yardage due to YAP.
- Another stat you don’t see is TIB, for tackled in bounds. These are important when you are protecting a lead and need to keep the opponents from getting out of bounds and stopping the clock. Demens had a nice TIB near the end.
- Not sure where to put this, but I didn’t see Lloyd Brady once during the telecast. If you, like me, watched the game on the B1G Network, you likely experienced the same “technical difficulties” as I. Later, in the third quarter, I saw yellow body suit guy. This got me to thinking that maybe the UofM computer scientists that hacked the on-line elections have been up to something. I was an EE at UofM, and always wondered what the CS half of EECS was up to. I now believe that Lloyd Brady is actually a digital creation based on motion-capture technology of the sort used to create Gollum in the LotR movies. It’s the only explanation that makes any sense. Lloyd is just too perfect to be a real person. The reason we saw yellow suit guy and not Lloyd must be due to the “technical difficulties” from the 2ndquarter. I’m on to you CS types.
- I thought the B1G Network announcers were competent. Perhaps we got their A team this week. I even enjoyed the forced back-and-forth banter with Dhani Jones.
Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets
- Wile had three touchbacks after producing only 4 all season. There was no wind to speak of, so I wonder what caused that. All three were to the same endzone IIRC.
- Gibbons missed a 47 yard FG attempt. The boxscore records it as a 37 yard miss, but that must be a typo since the LOS was the NU 30. I think this was just a heat check by Hoke, comparable to when Kobe jacks up a 30 footer when he’s on a hot streak just to see how hot he is. I don’t think we’ll see something over 45 yards again this year, but it’s nice to know Hoke has the confidence in Gibbons to trot him out there for the attempt.
- Devin Gardner got a TD running. I was amazed by NU’s defense on that play. We just ran a dive twice in a row. Did they really believe the MANBALL hype and think we’d try a third time? The obvious counter to the dive is the bootleg. NU did have someone out there and Devin beat him to the corner, so maybe it’s evidence of superior athleticism on Devin’s part, but I’m still surprised NU didn’t have some sort of spy to contain the bootleg before it became a foot race.
- To get a road win, at night, in a hostile environment** (well 2 out of 3) is proof that this team is on the right track.
- The date on the boxscore is Oct. 8, 2011, further proof that this is not 2010. I think we can put that meme to bed.
- No charts this week, but at least I proved in the mid-week post that I have that charting ability if needed.
- For anyone complaining TL:DR, I thought this was a pretty big game, deserving of a few extra bullets.
* “QB oh no” is the exact opposite of the “QB oh noes”, where your QB makes you say “oh no” by throwing balls directly into the opponent’s hands.
** Attendance was only 47,330. Seriously NU, just let us buy you out like in the old days.