"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
I put turnovers in a For Next loop
In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago. In another post, we learned that Brady Hoke forgot about ND’s first night game in 1982 against UofM. I didn’t forget because I was there and have the emotional scars to prove it. I’ve seen too many weird things happen in M/ND games, like winds coming up out of nowhere to push 51 yard field goal attempts from 5’3” guys with the leg strength of my mom over the cross bar. Or kicking off to a guy named Rocket AFTER he’s already burned you for a kick return TD.
So what happened Saturday night? Denard Robinson arguably had his worst game as a UofM QB, contributing to five of UofM’s six turnovers on the night. Earlier in the week, Peyton Manning, who some call the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, threw three interceptions in the first quarter. So far all of the folks out there saying senior quarterbacks should play better, all I can say is stuff happens, even to NFL legends and future hall of famers.
However, there is a silver lining. What I remember most about the 7 interception game, was the inability of UofM to change plan, to try something, anything different. Against ND, all five of the INTs occurred in the first half. Adjustments were made. Things started clicking; however, the revised plan took too much time, and the defense was not able to get off the field thanks to a misplaced sheleighleigh (sp?) that tripped up J.T. Floyd on a critical third down play. And by the way, thanks a lot, random internet poster guy. Next time, wait until after the ND game to tempt the fates*.
* As a coping mechanism, I either have to blame you or accept that Denard is human, and I’m not ready to do that yet.
Burst of Impetus
- In the interest of saving time, I put this code together:
For i = 1 to 6
- Michigan started grinding out some first downs.
- It looked like if Michigan could just get some points on the board, we’d take control of the game.
- Michigan turned the ball over.
- I absorbed a virtual punch to the gut while that internet meme girl screamed, “Why, why, why?” inside my head.
- Believe it or not, I think the tone for the game was set by that first turnover ND made, and our inability to turn that into points. I think Borges and Denard started pressing too much after that. The sad thing is we could have won a ball-control, grind-it-out, low-scoring, slugfest-type game, but Borges gameplanned for needing to get in the 30’s. The ND/Staee game should have taught us that ND is not winning with offense this year.
- ND was held to 94 yards rushing for on 31 attempts for a 3.0 average.
- Only 14 players show up in the defensive stats. ND only ran 50 plays. Apparently, they didn’t want the ball either.
- Kovacs and Morgan were the leading tacklers with 7 apiece.
- Q. Washington played well and got half a tackle for loss for zero yards. If you wonder how that’s possible, join the club. He did get into the backfield a few times, but didn’t wrap up when he did.
- Taylor had an awesome INT that made me flashback to one of those games we won 38-0. Alas, we couldn’t capitalize on it.
- I have to admit ND’s defense is good. They had 5 TFLs and 4 QHs to our 2 and 1.
Ermahgerd, Desmond "Shoestring" Robinson?
- Last week, I wrote, “Denard had one poor pass/decision, throwing a pick-six, but better he do that against UMass than ND, ‘cause he rarely does that kind of thing, right?” Well, at least we avoided the pick-six. I’ll be expecting a first class ticket to Bolivian in the mail.
- According to Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock (more later) our fourth string QB, Desmond “Shoestring” Robinson, got the start. I kept waiting for the “Denard who owns ND” to show up, but we ran out of time in the 2ndhalf.
- On the 24 yard pass play ND had down to our six, their right tackle started early. Had that been called, it potentially wipes out an ND TD.
- I think the refs missed another holding penalty early in the game where an ND lineman tried to remove Roh’s shoulder pads.
- Penalties were even at 5 apiece. I guess that’s the best you can expect when you are playing on the road against G_d.
Bunches of Funchess
- When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
- On the INT thrown in front of Gardner, why is everyone assuming that was Denard’s fault? He is a senior QB and our all time yardage leader. Gardner is a converted QB playing WR in his 4thgame.
- Roundtree horribly mistimed his jump on the end-of-half hail Mary, probably costing us another turnover, but that play was meaningless. I do worry about what that suggests about Roundtree. He’s great on the quick hitters and underneath stuff, but I still don’t see him getting separation on the deep balls. He had 3 catches for 30 yards with a long of 11.
- You can’t stop the Funchess, you can only hope to contain him, and ND did to the tune of 2 catches for only 11 yards.
I Can Hate Donkeys Again?
- We saw glimpses of the 2011 end-of-season running game. We’ll need more of that going forward.
- Subtracting sack yardage, we did fairly well on the ground. Toussaint averaged 4.5 yards on 13 carries, helped by a 31 yard gain.
- We outrushed ND 161-94.
Special Teams Stuff
- Norfleet continues to get the ball and go Norf and Souf. I like how he gets it and goes.
- I think Brian wasted a bunch of electrons on his punting post this week, as neither team returned a punt.
- Gibbons made two and missed one from the hash. I hate kicks from the hash. If I was a coach, I’d never attempt a kick from the hashmark. The angle just screws everything up.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- In the non-points related aspects of the game, we did fairly well, getting more first downs (19-14,) more total yards (299-239,) and doing better on third down (8 of 15 vs. 3 of 9.) Heck, we only punted once. (/ducks)
- Red zone efficiency or lack thereof was also a big factor. We went 2 of 5, they were 2 of 3.
- Time of possession was odd, we dominated the 1stand 3rdquarters with 11+ minutes each, and ND controlled the 2ndand 4thquarters with 9+ minutes.
- Check out the drive chart. We had 7 drives in the first half, but only three in the second.
Outside the Boxscore
- I updated my “most annoying color men” list and put Mike Mayock at the top of the list. Doesn’t he realize he’s covering a game for television, not radio? For 3 and a half hours he wouldn’t shut up. Take a breather, Mike, and let the game speak for itself every now and then. At the end of the half, he castigated Omameh for making a “dumb play” by hitting someone late. The only problem was, replay showed the ND player launching himself from behind Omameh and ND got the 15 yard penalty. Mike’s response, “My bad.” Yeah, you’re right Mike, you are bad. Fortunately, we only have to listen to him once every other year.
- NBC’s studio analyst for the game was Liam McHugh. Here’s how I think the interview went.
NBC Exec: What’s your name?
McHugh: Liam McHugh.
NBC Exec: You’re hired!
Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.