our defense has no identity
I am subdued. I am lethargy, personified. I died the death of 1000 cuts in the form of 71 carries, all of which went for exactly 4.1 yards, except I survived. Arkansas didn’t. Wisconsin didn’t. That’s worth remembering. I’m not sure what more I can add to Ace’s game recap. This game was one giant serving of déjà vu. Replace Air Force with Indiana and a ball control running game with a ball control passing game and we’ve been here before.
Burst of Impetus
- Air Force didn’t turn the ball over, but they only went 2 for 5 on fourth down. They missed a field goal, and were stopped on a fake field goal. That’s six points. That’s the margin of victory. Ugh.
- Denard threw an interception that once again deflected off a receiver’s hands. AF turned that into 7 points.
- The key sequence of the game to me was the start of the third quarter. Denard ran for a TD to put us up 21-10. We followed that up with a nice kickoff and a derpity return from AF. They were starting at their own 11. If we hold them there, get the ball back and score, game almost over, right? Instead, they ran for 20 and picked up another 10 on a defensive holding call (discussed below). All of a sudden, they’re at midfield. They eventually punched it in after moving 88 yards in 14 plays and we’ve got a ballgame on our hands.
- That’s not a misprint. That’s this blogger’s way of saying our defense does not have an identity. Last year’s unit was an aggressive, attacking, sometimes reckless, blitzing group, that was lead by trash cans full of dirt Martin, Van Bergen, and Heininger. Additionally, we had Kovacs eliminating the long gains from the Gerg years, and Thomas Gordon creating turnovers, again and again. Kovacs and Gordon are still around, but the turnovers have disappeared. Regression to the mean sucks.
- What do we have this year? Some experienced, but limited seniors, and some talented, but inexperienced freshman. In addition to tackles, the defensive stats are: FF FR-Yd Intc BrUp Blkd Sack/Yds QH. Look down those columns. Go ahead, I’ll wait. This is what you see. “ . . . .“ Lots and lots of dots. There were two pass breakups by Jake Ryan in the last three defensive plays of the game, and one by Frank Clark. That’s it. That’s to be expected somewhat since Air Force mostly ran the ball, but even the TFLs were limited. We had 7 TFLs for a grand, stinking total of 9 yards. Where is the aggressive, attacking unit of 2011? Yeah, I know Martin and Van Bergen are no longer around, but where are the run blitzes from the safeties and corners? Why weren’t we attacking the edge instead of letting Air Force continually get to the boundary?
- Seven of the 22 players in the defensive stats are freshmen or redshirt freshmen. I get the feeling Mattison is trying to develop some depth for the conference schedule. Compare this to Air Force, who only had 12 players register a defensive stat. Time of possession is meaningless, but total plays matter. It looks like Air Force was able to play their first string defense for the entire game.
- Wow, wasn’t Denard’s first TD run exciting (and reminiscent of the 2010 IU game?) Oh, who am I kidding, my power went out for the first quarter and I missed it. It reminded me of last year’s home opener where I missed the fourth quarter, because they didn’t play it. For next year’s home opener, I will be occupying a bunker in an undisclosed location.
- Denard has 200/200 vision. 200+ yards running and passing. As someone commented after the game, he had 101% of our total offense, because the -11 yards he accrued for the end of game kneel downs go as “TEAM” yards.
- The home plate umpire in the Tiger-Angel game took a foul ball off the face mask and had to leave the game. That’s a suitable reminder that the men who officiate our games have a difficult job, so I’ll make the annual disclaimer that I don’t really think the refs are zonkeys.
- The thing that stood out to me was that Air Force got 4 first downs from penalties. We were having enough trouble stopping them, giving them four more first downs with penalties is inexcusable. Two of our defensive penalties were holding calls on Will Campbell. Since that is such a rarely called penalty, I watched those plays several times in slow-motion. On both, the center engages with Campbell, and the guard comes over to double team. This causes Campbell to get pancaked. As he’s falling, he grabs the center’s shoulder pad with one hand, to break his fall. On the first one, the guard hits him low and this should have been called an offensive penalty for a chop block. While both were technically holding, they were no different than almost any other play, and both Air Force runs went to the sideline. Campbell’s holds were half a field away from the action and had zero impact on the play.
- On Air Force’s first TD, they broke out a play from the CFL playbook, as the flanker (A-back?) stepped back, turned around, and had a running start forward as the ball was snapped. The fact that it happened right in front of the line judge only further boggles my mind. How is that call missed?
Passing Game Stuff
- Funchess gets my brother’s stamp of approval. Mine too, but I will not compare him to Antonio Gates to avoid getting negged by Magnus. (My first ever neg was from Magnus for comparing Cam Gordon to Ronnie Lott. You never forget your first time. When I screw up, I really screw up.) Funchess caught four balls for 106 yards and 1 TD. I’m sure you’ve seen the Jerame Tuman comparison by now.
- Gardner looked more like a WR, probably because he wasn’t being defended by Milliner, but also because his routes were more precise and shorter. There was none of that looking over both shoulders stuff from a week ago. He caught 5 balls for 63 yards with a long of 20 and a TD.
- Jeremy Jackson looked like a nice big target to me. Roundtree still doesn’t look 100%. When you can’t get separation from an Air Force DB, something’s wrong.
- Michigan wore traditional jerseys with maize block Ms on their socks. I liked it.
- Air Force apparently only recruits guys named “Freedom” and “Service.” I think all the odd numbered guys had “Service” and all the even numbered guys had “Freedom.” I hope that didn’t give Brandon any ideas. (Leaders/Legends? No, don’t go there, please, no.)
- Royce Jenkins-Stone is our 2ndhexadecimalist of the year, showing up as 5B.
- Jake Ryan wore the #47 Bennie Oosterbaan jersey. My brother requested that I research Oosterbaan and provide some interesting connection between Jake and Bennie. I reminded him I’m not getting paid for this. I do remember J.P. Oosterbaan, but I’m afraid Bennie was before my time.
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
- The announcers were Bob Wischusen and Danny Kanell. Like I said, I missed the 1stquarter due to the power outage, and spent the 2ndquarter talking to my brother, which was weird because he DVR’d the game and was 20 minutes behind me, so I couldn’t tell him how great Funchess was doing.
- After the game, Danny Kanell said something about Michigan fans being anxious about the game “if you just read the boxscore.” As your resident boxscorologist, it is my job to assuage your anxiety. Sorry, I got nothin’ for you this week.
- I got a light blue screen of death with 2+ minutes left in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, they got the game back on in time for us to see Jake Ryan take over. I know we’re supposed to avoid politics on the blog, but I watched major portions of both conventions and I don’t recall hearing one speaker discuss our nation’s most pressing issue – that being technical difficulties disrupting college football games.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- Did someone forget to tell Fitz Toussaint that his suspension was over? Maybe we didn’t miss him that much against Alabama.
- Total plays: M 56, AF 90. Total first downs: M: 19, AF: 26.
- Look at the 2010 Indiana boxscore, total first downs: M: 15, IU: 35. Ace, things aren't that bad.
- Air Force gained 417 yards. Last week, Alabama got 431 yards of total offense. I said I would be happy if we held the rest of our opponents under this total. I lied.
- Our opponent’s bullets are real bullets. I wish all those guys nice, long careers in peace time.
- Toward the end of last season, I made the audacious claim that “we haz special teams.” Norfleet and Wile are doing well, and Gibbons made a field goal. The net yards per punt was only 31.3 yards. Part of that is a reflection of where we were punting from, but we also lost 20 yards of gross yardage due to a touchback.
- Air Force’s average yards per punt was 53.5 yards, with a net of 53.0. What happened to Gallon’s ~10 yards per return average? It’s still early in the season, but punt coverage and punt returns need some work.
- Last week, I discussed “Sweet Home Alabama.” Earlier this year, I reviewed last season with Iron Maiden songs. This blog celebrates with Muppets and drowns sorrows with Morrissey. So I’m going to try adding this section to the diary. Last week, my Johnny Cash Pandora station played, “Sunshine on my Shoulder,” by John Denver. Growing up, my family had John Denver sings with the Muppets on 8-track tape. We wore that thing out. Denver is in Colorado, Air Force is in Colorado, and the home opener was just around the corner. This line from the song took me back to those home openers I used to enjoy so much with Dad, in Section 11, Row 74, seats 5 and 6: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” It seemed like every home opener was sunny and warm, and the day ended with half my face sunburned and a victory, because Bo always won those home openers. The next line is, “Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.” What made me cry was the cigar smoke from the guys in Row 73, seats 5 and 6. Sometimes, déjà vu’s not such a bad thing.