“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
10/11/2010 – Michigan 17, Michigan State 34 – 5-1, 1-1 Big Ten
This just popped into my head in the same way a chorus of angels singing hosannas delivered calculus to Newton: they were probably Juggalos.
There were two of them, and they were walking south down the train tracks just east of the stadium as Michigan State bled the final minutes off the clock. I was in the midst of a stream of mostly Michigan folk who'd had enough—my breaking point was the running into the kicker penalty—moving east with the intent of hitting State Street and parts beyond after following the pathway between the field hockey stadium and football's practice field.
I don't remember much in the way of Juggalo-identifying characteristics except the hats. They were those oversized baseball caps with an enormous, off-center Old English D surrounded by graphic frippery I'm pretty sure designers call "grunge." They were carefully placed on the head, maybe 15 degrees from straight. This has been scientifically determined to be the angle that communicates maximum defiance.
The hats, man. These were the hat equivalent of chrome skulls, because apparently the best way to destroy your credit rating is to buy a bunch of chrome skulls. Maybe this is an urban legend but it's too good not to be true: men in a tall building somewhere have determined that credit card purchases of chrome skulls are inevitably followed by default, and will cease lending money to people who make them. If defiant hat angles left a paper trail these guys wouldn't have been able to get a loan in Zimbabwe.
The rest of it was just a way of confirming the hats. These were guys who had thought to themselves "wait, how do fuckin' magnets work?" They may have been blazed out of their minds at the time but no one can tell the difference any more. The reader will be utterly unsurprised to find out that as these guys approached the intersection with the Michigan fans one of them shouted "who's the little brother now?"
You. Still you. Always you.
Someone in front of me who was either a really pissed off 6'5" guy with a beard or the living manifestation of my id got into it with them. I get why. I mean, you're an adult with a family and a dishwasher. You've never thrown a rock at Tila Tequila. And these guys—who almost certainly didn't even go to the game because they couldn't afford it given the hats, the time and the direction they're walking*—start talking shit to you.
After the path to State Street intersects the tracks it jogs right to give the football field room. So there is this stream of slowly-moving Michigan fans including me and id guy separated from the Juggalos by just a few feet and a fence. For what was probably only a minute but seemed like forever, then, I'm listening to the back and forth between these guys. It's the usual—id guy is repeatedly asked where he went to school until he defiantly points in the direction of campus and says "here," then says his major is "FINANCIAL MATHEMATICS!!!" when pressed.
That was Saturday: financial mathematicians screaming at Juggalos, and the Juggalos winning. The State meathead directly behind me literally said "bitch! fuck you!" whenever MSU tackled Denard Robinson for less than five yards. On Friday, Tim came back to his apartment to find a trail of blood leading to a passed-out State meathead who'd broken in. The same guys who clumsily spray-painted a bedsheet in 2008 to declare their glorious victory over the worst Michigan team in 50 years reprised their genius. As I walked home every glassy-eyed Stiffler that passed me upped the amplitude of my anger/depression cocktail. Jesus, they were everywhere. They came to Ann Arbor cocky and stupid and left cocky and stupid. Enduring it was brutal. In their eyes, that was probably the point.
That's why Mike Hart's comment cut to the quick so much that three years later it's still the first, last, and only thing on the Juggalo mind. If coaching doesn't work out, Hart should start a consulting agency that visits bitter people on their deathbeds and devises things to say that just stick, nagging, sitting on your shoulder and telling you that's really not okay.
As for the current Michigan program, they took a grim step back against Stiffler U and are now poised on the edge of the same cliff no one knew they were falling from until the Illinois game last year. It is really hard to step back and say "it's just one game" after that travesty at Michigan Stadium, both inside and out, but long experience has taught me that gritting your teeth and just getting on with it is better than screaming the name of your major to the world at large.
*(The tracks are mostly fenced and anyone walking down them at that point is coming from well north of the stadium.)
And FUCK ROBINSON because it was more than him, Michigan State BEAT THE SHIT out of Michigan across the board, offense, defense, special teams, YOU NAME IT. WE BEAT THE YELLOW BELLY ASS UP AND DOWN THE FIELD.
I feel bad for the MSU fans I know, all fine people who don't own SHAGGY 2 DOPE jerseys, and the guys at The Only Colors but Christ, man. Normal-ish MSU fans were outnumbered ten to one.
Forgotten kindness. I meant to mention this in the aftermath of the Notre Dame game but it slipped my mind until the events of the weekend made me wish I was on the road in South Bend instead of at home against Michigan State: ND fans really are the nicest in the country. There are always Those Guys. In South Bend we had one in the row in front of us a few seats over who kept looking back at us and doing the usual dumbass fan taunting routine. The ND fans around us made fun of him for it. ND spawns the kind of pathology that makes ND Nation the most unintentionally entertaining message board on the internet but the vast majority of the fanbase are just nice people sad about their team.
With Weis gone, I'm not rooting against them in an active way until they're threatening for BCS bowls.
Also something I've forgotten to mention a lot. Drum major David Hines, Jr., probably has the best pregame back bend I've ever seen, and since I remember when the drum majors went from taking off the hat only for big games to doing it all the time, that's probably an all-time record.
This was always going to happen. People complaining about the defense, and there are many: WTF, are you surprised? Are you? Did you sit down at the beginning of the season and look over the post-Woolfolk secondary depth chart and think to yourself "boy, this looks like an average unit we've got right here?" This was already always going to happen last year, when the Decimated Defense Diaries and a simple count of available upperclassmen would have revealed that there was a giant gaping dropoff from the legitimate first-stringers Michigan had at maybe 8 or 9 positions to the second string. Then Donovan Warren, Justin Turner, and Troy Woolfolk departed Michigan's thinnest position. This was entirely predictable:
Plugging the enormous hole at safety would be great, but even if you make the reasonable assumption that Gordon/Kovacs/Robinson is going to be way better than Williams/Kovacs, the massive downgrade at corner means you're probably just treading water. Treading horrible, polluted, razor-blade-filled, despair-laden water.
The defense is off from hopeful expectations in that post but the reason is obvious. The depth chart is what it is.
The doom. I never thought Denard Robinson's problem throwing the ball would be a refusal to take off and run after the timer in the head expires. On all three interceptions he should have just run after he sat in the pocket for two or three beats. The second one was just death—pump-fake, hesitation, slant on the goal line? Guh. I think we all expected Denard would have some issues throwing the ball but three huge mistakes in one game is fatal unless you're going up against a team making those mistakes back at you. Michigan gained 263 yards in a half and had ten points from it.
The frustration. The game's killer sequence occurred when Jordan Kovacs tackled an MSU TE three yards short on third and ten only for MSU to catch a break on a false start. On the ensuing third and fifteen Michigan couldn't tackle Keshawn Martin after he caught like a five-yard hitch and they converted. The ensuing touchdown drive was the distance that put Michigan in desperation mode. That's a ferret-puncher right there. Makes you want to go find a ferret, and punch it.
Also you can add many drops, a hopeless MSU pass getting deflected to a receiver, and another missed field goal.
Punt? I know you're down seventeen and it looks grim but a comeback isn't totally out of the realm of possibility… until you punt with like seven minutes on the clock. Apparently Rodriguez owned up to that as a mistake afterwards.
Long runs. I'm going to have a lot of fun figuring out the basic off-tackle runs that Michigan State hit for touchdowns. I'm just hoping Ezeh was not involved so that someone else can come in for the tsking. I do know that on the second one the right side of the line was Patterson and JB Fitzgerald at DE, which got run directly at and did about as well as you would expect. That one's probably on the DL at least somewhat. I'm sure Cam is at fault, too, because I said I like him and he would be important and that he was really good at filling on run plays. This is how the world works.
Cam also had an opportunity to undercut a receiver and intercept a long pass that he did not take; I believe that drive was the one on which MSU ended up in third and thirty-two, so it didn't end up mattering much.
The usual Vincent Smith complaining and counter-complaining and etc. You probably don't want Smith ever getting another third and one carry whether you're on Team Smith or Team Whoever Else. I couldn't believe Michigan 1) went with another inside zone to a back who almost never gets one yard after contact, let alone yards, and 2) didn't get it. Hopkins may have fumbling problems but at some point Michigan's fail on third and one is just as damaging.
Also, the difference between Smith and Shaw was painfully apparent and relevant on a run during one of Michigan's early drives when he broke into the open field with nothing between him and the endzone and got tackled by a linebacker coming from the inside. Shaw probably scores there; Michigan got a field goal on that drive IIRC.
Unfortunately I agree. I would absolutely love the "it's just one game" meme to be true but my gut and head say no on that. One other thing I didn't see discussed post-game (it may have been but I stayed away from some posts)--did we do anything different formation or play wise on offense Saturday? If not, a great "why" would be the proper question.
"We can't overestimate the value of computers: yes they are great for playing games and forwarding funny emails, but real business is done on paper. Write that down."
Dantonio lives for the Michigan game, so he always has a trick play or some new formation saved up for us. We had....what exactly?
We don't have to obsess over MSU all year long, but there's something to be said for having something that will specifically work against your opponents in the Big Game. Tressel would switch things up back in the days before he knew he could just sit on the ball and still win by double digits.
This has been one of my big criticisms of RR. He never trots anything out for the "big games." So many times over the past season and a half (I gave up on 2008), I thought, "ok, big game, RR knows its all on the line, I bet he is going to have some awesome new schemes," and I have been completely disappointed. Its almost as if we do even LESS new stuff in the big games. This makes me sad.
That's not quite true. The pass play to Martell Webb in the flat was completely new - and we scored a TD on it. Just because it wasn't a trick play doesn't mean it wasn't a new wrinkle. I don't have too many issues with the offensive gameplan.
And in last year's OSU game, we debuted a pistol formation on offense and the 3-3-5 on defense. It's pretty rare to bust out one new formation, much less two. Maybe you have to be a more sophisticated fan to catch these things, but believe me, he's broken out his share of new things.
Dantonio did roll the dice with that "run to the left and go untouched for 40 yards and a TD" but I think his expertise really came through on the "run to the right, then cut it back slightly and go untouched for 60 yards and a TD."
Players and execution are the things that make coaches look smart for the most part. I also think it is hard to dial up a trick play when you are behind in the game (which we were for most of the day).
Like reverse flea-flickers that put the game away. It can be different sets or formations that you run continuously, that stymie the other team.
But point taken. If you can't handle the up to gut run maybe your coaching problems are more on the basics. (Though if you can't handle anything on defense, you better be pulling out all the stops on offense...because you're going to need everything you can get).
At least according to the TV guys, both picks in the end zone were just bad throws rather than bad reads (i.e. he had the guy open by a step but threw it behind him). Add in the missed opportunity to hit Stonum in the end zone early and you have the difference between a down to the wire finish and the beatdown we saw.
I think the plan was fine, we just failed to take advantage of the opportunities our guys created and with the defense the way it is we don't have that kind of margin for error against a good team.
I don't really have much of a point I guess, but this beats typing "UGH" like 50 times. Hopefully if we get the same opportunities against teams like Iowa, Wisconsin, and OSU our guys can take advantage.
Wow, poor brandanomano -- J. Random Idiot gets caved in the first five minutes of the Indiana recap going live, and brandanomano is the unfortunate soul who happened to post right before he did. For the record, nobody (that I know of) hates brandanomano.
The original troll post was something along the lines of "I TOLD YOU ALL RODRIGUEZ WILL NEVER WIN! ADMIT IT!" etc etc. Definitely worthy of the vitriol. But it sure does look odd when the comments end up looking like a drive-by.
I actually hate you and do not wish you well in anything at all ever because of an internet post.
The arrogance and ignorance dripping from this post makes me angry enough that I actually feel compelled to take out some of that emotion by writing a reply instead of merely negging you. I am not your friend. In fact, none of us are your friends. "We" didn't all know it and frankly I really hope "we" won't get through this because I want to have no association with you. I hate you. I do not wish you well. I know enough about you from this post to decide that.
Yes. Oh yes. Saturday was not pleasant, but at the end of the day, they are who they are. I know which team I would rather have as mine. There are not enough interceptions in the world to change my feelings on the matter.
Candace: No... That why they make smart word box for tell monkey hard brain-hurty things.
Phineas: Removing prepositions makes it more condescending.
A large part of me wishes Mike Hart never would have said that, but Brian's right, there's a reason they get SO pissed about it. Think of the feeling you have (or used to have) when UM beat OSU. Say in 2000. You're pumped, that was sweet, feels good, that's the way it should be. You don't, however, feel like this really proves something to someone about you or validates you. It's just a good solid win against a rival that feels good. Until Sparty can beat UM without getting so jizzed up about it and needing to shove it in every face they can and bitching about needing to be appreciated and validated, they're still little brother. I don't see that changing anytime soon.
FWIW had a meeting with a 50-something MSU fan this morning and he loved the new additions and was happy we were not playing better because the crowd was so loud it was hurting his ears. Crowd never gets that loud @ MSU according to him.
There is a massive shortage of ferrets in Ann Arbor right now
Let's face it, trotting out that same defense and expecting a different result is the definition of stupidity. Are the guys playing hard? Yep. Are the coaches getting them in the right spots? No.
When Rogers went out and Cullen Christian came in, I sat with my Sparty friends and told them, "Treadwell is going to throw at him right now." So, does GERG give Christian some help over the top? Nope, not that I could see. Christian gets scorched, and we continue to devolve into a team that cannot make a sound decision even when it is obvious.
I, too, have fallen prey to the "start all over" talk. RR needs to right the ship and quickly if a debacle similar to last season is to be avoided. If he cannot pull it off, adios. Many a coach would love to have Denard, so let's take our chances and move along.
"I am delighted to have you play football. I believe in rough, manly sports."
- Theodore Roosevelt
The play that CC got toasted on was an all out blitz with man to man coverage. Many on this site (including me) have been pleading for more blitzing. This is what can happen. Quite frankly, however, I'd rather get burned being aggressive with our rush, then sitting back in a soft zone, giving the QB all day and getting shredded. Can't remember if that was the play I'm thinking about, but one one long pass, either Martin or Roh had a kill shot opportunity on Cousins and then inexplicably hesitated allowing him to get the throw off.
Cam also had an opportunity to undercut a receiver and intercept a long pass that he did not take;
This also could have been a kill shot to the WR. Hard hitting safeties literally wait their entire career for a chance to make a hit like this one could have been. I'm only half joking when I say that had Gordon gone for the hit, an ambulance would have been on the field.
I'm glad he let up. JT Floyd would have been destroyed if he had made that hit. Knowing the general bloodymindedness of the universe, the MSU WR would have popped right up while our only good corner would have been down for the count.
I'm glad he let up. JT Floyd would have been destroyed if he had made that hit.
I thought all three would have been carried off if he tried his, "not gonna tackle you with my arms, but I'll throw my shoulder into you" trademark style hit. With experience, he knows that Floyd will make the tackle if he misses, so he makes a play on the ball and makes the pick. Experience takes time, unfortunately, but that was a sure pick with a trainload of momentum on your side for a great return.
At least we didn't lose two defensemen on that play.
I never thought Denard Robinson's problem throwing the ball would be a refusal to take off and run after the timer in the head expires. On all three interceptions he should have just run after he sat in the pocket for two or three beats.
Troof. He was noticeably tight, trying to not make a mistake. Just do what you do best DR. Run!
"If you shoot me, you're liable to lose a lot of those humanitarian awards."
I don't know if he was hesitating, or was told to hold out for his reads because they didn't want him getting smashed. But MSU is one of those games where it's balls to the wall, and you go all out, and run, and if there's an injury, so be it, because you were trying to win the game, and those are the games that matter, and you need to use your best weapon to it's full extent. Whether we need that many carries once U-Conn is in control, or games like that is another story. But I would have liked to see Denard taking off with the ball more, particularly on the pass plays that weren't there this last weekend.
It looked to me like MSU did a good job of shooting their inside linebackers up the middle on a slight delay. Many times it looked like Denard wanted to step up into the pocket and/or run but by that time a guy was coming right at him and he had to stop his feet. They had a pretty good gameplan for containing him (though "contained" he still put up over 300 yards in total). I think getting away from the running game (with the backs) was a bigger problem than Denard's reluctance to run (once we got away from that it seemed like they just keyed on Denard exclusively the rest of the game).
This was only Denard's 6th game as a starter. He needs to learn to be patient and not try to force things. Run, yes if there is a crease, but for God's sake just THROW THE BALL AWAY if nothing is there and go on to the next play. He will learn. A year from now or hopefully sooner he will not be making these mistakes.
The Defense wasn't really much worse than could reasonably be expected. Take away 2 of 3 INTs and we have the close high scoring game everyone was expecting.
mobile QBs always seem to take more sacks/force more throws into coverage than less-mobile QBs ... because they have the tools to escape some situations, they usually end up misusing the tools as well.
I do agree that this was mostly inexperience. Robinson just hasn't had enough trouble plays to recognize a bad situation and chuck the ball into Ypsilanti. Even next year (and hopefully 2012), there will still be occasional plays where he does something we wouldn't prefer because he's trying to make something happen ... and I think it'll be because there will be occasional plays where he tries to make something happen and WOOP.
Training the young man to not run every time he is snapped the ball has been quite an accomplishment to overcome with his natural ability to find a seam and torch people. I don't know if they'll ever convince someone with his mindset to ever just throw one away.
I think he was used to throwing at slower defenders, and got burned a few times. Practicing against our own D since spring and playing the non-conference schedule we did, he just isn't up to Big Ten Speed yet on his throws. Like everyone has said - the right reads, just a tad hesitant. He'll bounce back and be fine.
Couldn't agree more about the fans. ND fans were completely awesome when I made the trip to South Bend. MSU fans on the other hand, made my from the stadium to home an absolute misery. I figured ditching out after the punt would allow me to miss the mess, but instead I came across two or three houses full of them talking crap and also encoutered about 50 leaving BWW at the same time. Needless to say it was not a fun walk back.
I was in the band ~10 years ago, and ND was the only place we ever travelled to that actually clapped for us on the way out. Not one or two people here and there; just about everyone from the stadium all the way to the busses. Usually I was just happy not to get beer thrown on me at away games; getting applause was just surreal.