I did not make this headline up
I'm back for another season. I figure if Brian can write 41,000+ words before a single game is played, the least I can do is give you the link to the boxscore and my casual fan's take on the game. It's been a long off-season. I coached my son's 3rd and 4th grade basketball team to a perfect 16-0 record; it helped having the Trey Burke of 4th graders on my team. My son was more like Jordan Morgan. He set a lot of screens. As a result, I was asked to coach one of the all-star teams. We went 2-7, derailing my dreams of someday replacing John Beilein. I did get to see lovely downtown 29 Palms, including both major intersections, and coach at UCSB's Thunderdome. Then, this summer, true blue Michigan Man, ST2, passed away from cancer. I will be sprinkling in some M-related anecdotes this season in tribute. See the last section as an example. But enough about me and my relations, on to the link.
Burst of Impetus
* The tone was set early on when true freshman, Dymonte Thomas, blocked a punt with his abs and 5th year senior Joe Reynolds scooped it up and ran it in for the first of many TDs. OK, be honest, who had Joe Reynolds in the "first player to score a TD" pool? Anybody? This site has an obsession with "prison abs". A site search turned up 104 hits for the term. In my opinion, punt-block abs >>> prison abs. The funny thing was, after hearing all about Dymonte Thomas during last season, the recruiting season, spring practice, the off-season, and fall camp, I saw #25 jogging off the field after the punt block and thought, "Thomas who?"
Captain Morgan's Crew
* The past couple seasons, I thought that Desmond Morgan wasn't quite there yet. He was missing a little something (experience, size, outright thumping ability?) that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Well, the first impression from this season suggests he's ready to be the Mike, and all that entails. JR III got a lot of hype this off-season, but I'm here to tell you that Desmond Morgan is the man. He led the defense with 7 tackles in limited playing time.
* 24 players recorded a tackle, and three more made the defensive stats section. The defensive stats has columns for solo tackles, assisted tackles and total tackles. It's the next 8 columns that I look through. They are what a basketball coach might call the hustle stats. There were lots of extras this week.
* Eight players recorded nine TFLs, led by Cam Gordon's 2.5 for 11 yards (2 were sacks). Cam also had a pass breakup. Beyer and Ojemudia also got sacks. Last year, Beyer looked like a lineman trying to play linebacker. He looks leaner and quicker this year, in other words, he looks the part. Could he be the breakout player this year on defense?
* Josh Furman had 5 tackles, and I thought he showed his incredible speed on a few plays. Yes, he made some tackles down the field, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he busted the play. It could mean he did his job and covered up for someone else who missed an assignment. Missing Kovacs and Gordon could have spelled DOOM, but I thought Wilson and Furman did OK. It will be good to get Gordon back next week.
Master of Social Work
* During the game, the B1G announcers pointed out that Devin Gardner has already graduated and is now pursuing a Master's of Social Work degree. ST2's greatest educational experience was his time at UofM pursuing his MSW. /ST3 wipes away a tear.
* Gardner started the game by throwing an interception. The one thing I was looking forward to this post-Denard season was fewer INTs. Oh well, better that occurred in game 1 than game 2.
* After that, Gardner returned to doing his Vince Young impression. I saw Young beat us almost single-handedly in the Rose Bowl, and the best compliment I can give a college QB is to compare him to Young.
* Gardner finished 10-15 for 162 yards, with 1 TD passing.
* Devin also ran for 52 yards on 7 carries. His 7.4 YPA bested Denard's 7.2 of last season. They are two completely different types of runners, but both give you the impression that the defense is playing in quicksand. Denard might take three steps to get five yards, to Devin's two steps, but they both cover the 5 yards in the time it takes for the defense to take one step.
* I'm left-handed. Whenever I see a left-handed QB throw a pass, I think, do I look that strange throwing a ball? Morris had a nice start to his M career, going 4 for 6, with the now required INT.
Joe Reynolds, Deep Threat
* Another show of hands, who thought our deep threat this year was going to be Joe Reynolds? He was one of 8 to catch a pass.
* Offensive linemen don't tally stats in the MGoBlue boxscore. They do pave the way for the running attack and hopefully keep the QB clean for the passing game. CMU's defense had 0 QB hurries, and 1 minor 3 yard sack. Bravo, big uglies.
* I tried watching the interior of the line during the game, but that is so hard to do. I'll wait until UFR's to pass judgment, but my initial gut feel says that Glasgow performed better than expected, Kalis played like a freshmen Hutchinson (I don't remember how Hutch played as a freshmen, the point is, Kalis did not play like a senior, All-American linemen, but he held up well) and Miller has some work to do.
* Derrick Green was the leading ballcarrier, thanks to a 30 yard run. He finished with 58 yards on 11 attempts. Touss and Gardner completed the 50/50/50 club, each surpassing 50 yards.
* Overall, we netted 242 yards on 5.1 YPC, and ran for 6 TDs. What does that portend for game 2? Competence, I hope.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet was everywhere. He was returning kicks, returning punts - some well, some not so well - running end arounds, catching passes, and covering punts. I wouldn't be surprised to see him wearing #98 on Saturday. Wasn't Harmon known for doing everything, including kicking PATs? Don't be surprised to see Norfleet replacing Gibbons before the year is out.
I'm an international umpire
* Another thing I did this summer was to umpire at the Junior International Badminton Tournament at the club. We had kids come from 8 foreign countries and they got stuck with me, a complete novice, calling their matches. That's a roundabout way of saying I'm going to try to be more considerate of the umps this year. The operative word there is "try."
* We were called for 7 penalties for 55 yards. It seemed like double for both figures, but that's what you get in a first game, and that's why you don't schedule Alabama for your first game.
* My Dad had a good friend who worked for the Secretary of State's office in Michigan, many years ago. Those are the guys who are in charge of the license plates. So one day, my Dad asks his friend, "how do you guys assign license plate numbers? and oh, by the way, if '100 BLU' hasn't been assigned yet, do you think you can hold that one for me?" Sure enough, a few weeks go by, and Dad gets his new plates in the mail, opens up the envelope, and there is "100 BLU". Dad worked in state government, knew some politicians, and as a result, knew quite a few state trooopers. So he asks one, "is there any law about marking up a state license plate? like, say, for instance, if I were to put a little sticker on the plate?" The State Trooper tells him it's technically illegal, but as long as it's not offensive, he can probably get away with it. So Dad has a "%" sticker printed up, and places it ever so carefully between the 100 and the BLU. And that is your 100%BLU story for the week.
P.S. Next week I promise, less me and more game coverage. But come on, 59-9, right? Allow me a little leeway.