this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I saw this on Reddit's college football page this morning, and I thought I'd pass it along to the non-redditors. I'm so glad we don't have outside blocking like this. Pay attention to WR #7.
*programming note, got busy during the holidays, sorry if anyone was looking for scouting reports. Things have slowed down now, so expect a Nebraska game wrap next week, or the week after, depending on if I feel like writing anything about the SEC non-championship exhibition game.
Winners find a way to win.
It started as a joke, but now no one can deny the awesome power that is Brady Hoke's magical golden poop. Everything he touches turns into roses. When he walks through a forest, flowers bloom in his wake. Youtube is sadly lacking in good golden poop videos, so a unicorn farting rainbows of destruction was the best I could find. I hope it's not too disturbing.
Our ND friends gave us the wonderfully self-fulfilling cliche' "Winners find a way to win, losers find a way to lose." But we'll just focus on the first half of that, and they can focus on the 2nd half, thank you very much.
Was Brady Hoke lucky that Tressel was caught lying? Maybe. Maybe he pulled a Peter Wiggin and dropped a few well placed emails. Was it luck when we fumbled on the 1 yard line against ND and Denard scooped and scored a walk in? Maybe. Maybe Hoke used his secret telekinesis.
I don't know, I don't care. At this point I'm just happy to be along for the ride.
But how else can you explain what happened?
How does a sure INT on a fake FG where no receivers went into pass patterns end up in the arms of the long snapper for a first down? How does what looks like a TD to 80% of the twitterverse get reversed in OT? How have all the great things that have happened this year happen to one team, in one year? It boggles the mind.
They say you make your own luck. They say that "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." But whether it's luck, or karmic retribution, or a secret plot by an undercover invisible agency from the future, it can't be sustained at this high of a level. So let's just enjoy it while we can.
On to the pics.
Al. Al? ALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!
This week's love-hate relationship status with Al Borges is .... .... Love? That's odd, because during the game there were times when the needle was strongly tilted towards hate. But after a second look at the game film, the final analysis, just like the outcome of the game, is slightly positive.
Much like the Iowa game, the lack of production on offense wasn't really his fault so much as it was a combination of a lack of execution, personnel limitations, and a darn good defense.
Oh sure, there's plenty of things he could have done better and a few stinkers that make you want to pull out your hair... hmmm....nevermind. And I'll get to those in a moment, but overall, we did what we've done all year. And many of the plays should have worked.
I mean, Molk getting injured and having this
happen on two consecutive plays to kill the first drive can't really be blamed on Al. Maybe it would have been better to go under center with the backup playing, but after we've been crying all year for more shotgun, you can understand why he didn't. Luckily Molk came back in, but wasn't at 100% which probably put a dent in our selection of play calls.
And give VT credit. They played a lot of Man-Free forcing Denard to make tough passes to the outside, which frankly, we all know is not his comfort zone.
Yes, the manball mentality is frustrating especially when VT is putting 9 men in the box.
(It's 8 because Denard going backwards is not a threat to run.) But it's there to setup big plays.
With both safeties up like this, the thing you have to do is make them pay for it.
But with two defenders beating their blockers, Denard has pressure right up in his face resulting in this jump pass.
It's not Al's fault that Denard threw to the wrong guy. Roundtree had a step on his man and Jr. was getting interfered with. Despite the interception, you can't argue that it wasn't the right play call.
[ED: More after the jump.]
I’m not a superstitious person, but it’s fun to pretend that there are signs, or that ordinary objects can possess special powers. For example, I often break out the M boxer shorts for big games. Our track record hasn’t been so good in big games recently, so I left the boxer shorts in the dresser drawer for this game. There were two signs that if I were the sort to believe in such things, portended a bright future for the Michigan football team.
First, prior to the game I was listening to my Johnny Cash Pandora station. Out of nowhere, the station started playing “Jambalaya”, by Hank Williams. So what you say? Well, this past weekend I posted a diary comparing M football games to Iron Maiden songs, picking out particularly relevant lyrics. The lyrics to Jambalaya?
Jambalaya, a crawfish pie and a fillet a gumbo…
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou…
The reason this song stood out besides the obvious connection to New Orleans, the Sugar Bowl, and the hope that we’d have big fun at the game, is that my mom would sing this song whenever she cooked Jambalaya. That seems reasonable, except that she wasn’t from the south and never sang any other songs while cooking that I recall. It’s as if something was preparing me from an early age for this year’s Sugar Bowl.
I hope I’ve established the musical connection. Well, the second sign that occurred was the National Anthem being sung by one of the actors from Mad Men (one of my favorite shows) while accompanied by a clarinetist. As a youth, I played the clarinet (until a bizarre badminton accident claimed three of my teeth, but that’s a story for another day.) How often have you seen someone play the National Anthem on the clarinet? For me, the answer was none, until this year’s Sugar Bowl. So as you read through this thoroughly depressing set of stats, remember, that none of these numbers matter except the final score, because this was all preordained. You can’t argue with the signs.
Burst of Impetus
- It’s been awhile since the OSU game, so let me remind you what this section is all about. Basically, it presents the big momentum changing plays of the game. The biggest play was the first 4thand 1 where we stopped VT. Instead of them kicking the FG to go up 9-0, they went for the kill. Martin, Van Bergen and Will Campbell came up with a huge stop. That stopped their momentum.
- Of course, that wouldn’t have meant much if we couldn’t get anything going offensively. When VT got hit with a roughing the punter penalty, it gave us some momentum which allowed the 45 yard TD pass later in the drive.
- At the end of the game, the impetus was swinging back and forth like a tennis ball at Roland Garros (that’s the clay surface where points take forever, as opposed to Wimbledon where it’s one and done.)
Trash Cans Full of Dirt
- I went through the play-by-play link and looked at Virginia Tech’s third and fourth down plays. They converted third downs of 1, 8, 9, 12, 13, and 20 yards. Their average third down conversion was on 3rd and 10.5 yards to go. We stopped them on third down and 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 11, and 20 yards to go. So the average down and distance to go when we stopped them was 3rd and 6.1. That seems just a little backwards. It’s even weirder on fourth down, where we stopped them twice on 4th and one, but they converted 4th and 11.
- So why did VT have more success on longer down and distance plays? I think the rush suffered from Van Bergen’s early injury and the fact that Thomas is one big dude. His ability to see over the rush was key to finding the open receivers. On third or fourth and short, they tried running and we lived up to the “Trash Cans Full of Dirt” nickname earned in game 1 I believe. On one 4th and one, they tried a QB sneak right into the center of Martin, Van Bergen, and Will Campbell. That was the initial burst of impetus that started turning things around for us.
- 20 players show up in the defensive stats, including 4 tackles for Elliott Mealer. I believe those actually belong to Frank Clark, unless Elliott became a special teams monster without me noticing.
- Kovacs lead the team with 11 tackles, followed by Morgan and Martin with 10 apiece. While I like the balance (a DB, an LB, and a DL) I don’t like having three guys with double digit tackles. We couldn’t keep VT off the field, and when we did stop their drive, our offense couldn’t sustain anything, leading to a large discrepancy in total plays: 76 for VT and 52 for UofM.
- We had 8 TFLs, half of those were by Jake Ryan for an insane 36 yards. He mixed up his TFLs quite nicely, one stopped a fake punt, one was for 22 yards, (hey, if a back wants to run backwards for 22 yards, I say let him. Just be sure to tackle him when he turns around) and one was a classic, “Jake Ryan hates ankles as much as Taylor Lewan hates donkeys” QB sack. I’m sure he leads the team in ankle tackles and it’s not even close. The dude must have some strong hands. (Since I talked about signs in the intro, I watched 10 minutes of “16 Candles” over break. Our Jake Ryan has now replaced the Jake Ryan as my favorite Jake Ryan.)
We Haz Special Teams
- I was going to move this section all the way to the top in honor of us out-Beamerballing Beamerball, but Martin and Van Bergen deserve top billing.
- JB Fitzgerald gets credit for a forced fumble on a kickoff that turned into three points. That play was one of many that were key to getting us to overtime.
- Gibbons, a veritable Van Bergen Mini-Me, was good from 24, 37, and 39 yards. My wife is a brunette, so I’m right there with you Brendan.
- After a rough start for Hagerup, Wile came on to do the punting and averaged 43.7 yards. He also drew a roughing the punter penalty that kept a drive alive and lead to 7 points. Wile had a long of 58 yards, which is what I expect from dome punting. I don’t know why, there is no wind in a dome, it just seems like guys are always killing the ball when punting in a dome.
- After the punting section, they list returns and credit Elliott Mealer with a 7 yard interception return. I’m pretty sure this is a typo and this INT belongs to Frank Clark. Perhaps the stats guys were partying a little too hard after the win. I don’t blame them.
- This was one of those rare games where we reverted back to the original meaning of the word filthy. Denard had 13 carries for 13 yards. He was only 9 of 21 passing with one INT, and several other close calls.
- Touss ran 13 times for only 30 yards. What surprised me was that Touss didn’t get a carry until our 7thoffensive play. I thought we would try to establish him early, since he finished the season as a productive third of our offense (1/3 Touss, 1/3 Denard running, 1/3 Denard passing.) Instead, we saw all sorts of long developing plays, mostly run to the outside, that gave VT’s speedy defense time to react. I think the MANBALL, power up the middle stuff would have worked better, but the Molk injury certainly hurt.
- Another thing missing from the game plan were screen passes - a good counter to an aggressive defense. We tried the one to Vincent Smith. Denard bounced the pass and we never went back to it.
Big John R. Studd Referee Section
- My brother called at halftime and I complained about the refs. He said, “what do you expect from Sun Belt refs?” or something to that effect. While he was just kidding, I took him at face value because they didn’t have a clue.
- All I ask for is consistency. Sometimes DBs were allowed to grab jerseys, and sometimes they weren’t. Every time they missed the hands to the face penalty.
- I think they missed two false starts on Gibbons, but whatever.
- The referee was Jay Stricherz. When I googled him, the first hit said, “Good thing Riley didn't have the crew of referee Jay Stricherz, which has regularly dispensed flags like penny candy off parade floats.“ Apparently, I’m not the only one who has a problem with Jay. It looks like they are a Pac 12 crew FWIW.
- Junior Hemingway. That’s all I got for this section.
- To be fair, 8 players did catch passes, including Jareth Glanda.
- We wore yet another new uniform. I’m so over this by now. I will say that the uniforms the VT cheerleaders were wearing were the ugliest things I’ve seen all season.
- 5G Frank Clark was the only hexadecimalist to register, breaking Matt Cavanaugh’s streak. I think they just lumped all the special teams tackles under Elliott Mealer.
- The announcers were Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge. I barely paid attention to them. I was a little surprised that was the first UofM game they did all season.
Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets
- I put VT in the “respected opponent” column, unlike say, an MSU or ohio, but I’ve got to say this about the halftime university commercials: our walking robot could kick their walking robot’s ass. And I’m not just saying that because I know Prof. Grizzle and he’s a class act. Did you see the commercials? Our robot is practically running while their robot is taking these little baby robot steps.
- Writing these diaries in the middle of the week is painful. If I'm going to do this again next season, I demand we get a Friday or Saturday Bowl Game.
- So the main question everyone is asking is, how do you win a game when you get outgained by 193 yards. Well, we had one turnover to their two, and we stopped them twice on fourth down. That’s a +3 in the extended turnover stat. Even if you assign 40 yards (the average net punt) to each of those, we’re still trailing by 73 yards. The answer is, I just don’t know*. And you know what, I don’t care. We’re Sugar Bowl Champions, and that’s all that matters. And now it’s time to have big fun on the bayou…
* I do know, we scored two touchdowns, and they kicked a bunch of field goals. You’ve got to score TDs when you get the chance. Also, they roughed our punter, which continued our drive. That's basically a negative turnover for us. And even though I bashed the refs, we picked up another ~40 net penalty yards.
VT blog, Gobbler Country, put up their Sugar Bowl preview yesterday. Didn't see it posted yet. Anyway, they see having a difficult time with our defensive front 4 (Martin and RVB, in particular) and Denard. They make some good observations about our team and, best of all, they predict a 31-21 Michigan victory.
Edit (4:50 p.m.): NBC Washington (WRC-TV) reporting that the second deceased victim is likely the suspect. Cops at Va. Tech presser won't comment on whether second deceased person is the suspect, but a weapon was found near that victim's body. No other incidents reported on campus, the school's website has said it's OK to "resume normal activities."
Broke around 12:30 p.m.
From Virginia Tech's news twitter feed:
@vtnews: A police officer has been shot. A potential second victim is reported at the Cage lot. Stay indoors. Secure in place.
@vtnews: Suspect described as white male, gray sweat pants, gray hat w/neon green brim, maroon hoodie and backpack. On foot towards McComas. Call 911
@vtnews: Gun shots reported- Coliseum Parking lot. Stay Inside. Secure doors. Emergency personnel responding. Call 911 for help.
Edit: Virginia Tech's website reporting the suspect remains at large (1:26 p.m.)
Also: This article has a photo of the crime scene, which is in the parking lot of Virginia Tech's basketball arena and near their CCRB equivalent (McComas Hall). Basically, this happened in their athletic complex area.
@Reuters FLASH: Two killed in shooting at Virginia Tech -University spokesman
Thought I'd take some time while working nights to see how the Big Ten has done in the Sugar Bowl, historically.
I included Nebraska, Penn State, and Notre Dame, despite not being Big 10 when they played in the bowl (or in ND's case they're still not).
The Big 10 (plus Nebraska, PSU, and ND) is 6-10 all-time in the Sugar Bowl. In their victories, they won by an average of 10 points. Notre Dame (’73, ’92), Nebraska (’85, ’87), and Ohio (’99, ’11 [according to some this game never actually happened]) all have won two apiece.
In their 10 losses, they lost by an average of 15 points. Penn State leads the way with three losses (’72, ’75, ’79) while Ohio (’78, ’98) and Notre Dame (’81, ’07) each have two. Michigan (’84), Nebraska (’67), and Illinois (’02) each have one.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, has played in three Sugar Bowls (’95, ’00, ’05), losing all but one ('95--thanks btjabrone). They lost by an average margin of approximately 2 points a game.
This probably won’t tell us anything, but I was interested to see how our conference has performed thus far, and how VT has fared.
*All data and image taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Bowl