“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
Regarding the emailer who asked about Old Michigan Spelling Guy last week, I can confirm that both OMSG and Superfan were in attendance for Homecoming against Indiana. OMSG did the cheers, and Superfan just wielded his cowbell (feel like I should say "of Truth" or something after that).
I didn't know about either of these guys 'til this year; I've normally sat in the southeast corner prior to this year. But I saw Superfan doing these cheers against Western and knew what the emailer was talking about. Where OMSG has been for the other games is beyond me. But since they sat next to each other, Superfan would probably know if asked.
So… he's fine, workin' his magic. On the thing that isn't people shaking keys:
As a sort of answer to the question about the 3rd down student cheer.
I had student tickets from 04-08 and I was at the WMU game also in the student section. I don't really know what to call the cheer, it really just started last year. The band broke out some new (at least I don't remember hearing it before last year) song they play on 3rd downs. As they play it the band director and some of the band sticks their hands out and shakes their hands and fingers, which is why some of the students have picked it up and started doing it along with them. I've noticed that some of the students still pull out the keys and some do the little hand wiggle thing, it's kinda split. I'm not sure what the motivation was for the new song and hand thing, it surprised me a little last year when I saw it the first time. If there was some sort of message to the students last year about doing the new cheer I missed it somehow. As far as I know, the students that started doing it just picked it up from seeing the band do it.
And on "It's Great / To Be / A Michigan Wolverine":
As I’m assuming you’ve heard by now, that cheer has been used by the Marching Band for decades. I was in the MMB starting in 1993 and we used it back then. And we use it as part of our cadence to and from the stadium. Now, you may be correct about when it was picked up by the football team and then the fans. I remember some of the football players picking up on it late in my tenure (93-97) when we’d do a practice performance for them in the fall. Whether it was specifically 1997 or not I don’t know.
Anyway, thought I’d pass that along. The band usually does the “Great to be….” And “Go Michigan, Beat the XXXX” cheer as part of every game’s cadence.
Adam R. Cole
New Items, But Slightly Old
Brian – I'm sure you are no stranger to this complaint - is it just me, or does Pam Ward's announcing just crawl under your skin and annoy the **** out of you? Her ad hoc commentary is so pointless, is, at best, pawned from the media guide, and sounds no different than what you would imagine to hear if you ever decided to watch a college volleyball game or gymnastics tournament. She can't offer any meaningful insight on football strategy. Her announcing actually made me madder and more hostile while watching the "survivorfest" vs. IU last weekend. She does not belong in a football booth. Is there any way we can get ESPN to permanently put her on Northwestern duty (except, of course when we play them)?
I'm with you. It's not that Pam Ward is a woman, it's that she's terrible. The difference between Ward and McDonough, who was terrific in a game just as crazy, was striking. McDonough injected the game with more drama; his "DROPPED!" on Savoy's drop was outstanding, as was the rest of his call. Ward has this crazy ability to suck energy out of a play. On Indiana's 85-yarder, well…
She doesn't start talking about the play until Willis is ten yards downfield, and when she does it's "Wow, big run out for Darius Willis. Willis down the left sideline. Nobody's going to catch him." She can't sound excited. That's why she's on nooners on ESPN2, I guess. It's Michigan's job to make this irrelevant by getting good enough to get out of that timeslot or hammer their opponents to the point where Ward's lack of excitement mirrors the game.
While I've seen most of the team improve compared to last season, I'm mystified by the punt return. I've got know-it-alls around my section yelling for Mathews head after all his fair catching, but could it be this new fangled punt formation that is affecting the statistics? I know Michigan is using the same type of coverage and while I still think Space Emperor is the reason why our punt coverage is good, could it also be the formation?
I don't care much about Mathews calling a lot of fair catches since he's had little opportunity to actually make any returns. The problem has come when Mathews doesn't field punts. He gave up about 50 yards of field position against Eastern Michigan and failed to field one punt against Indiana that should have been easily acquirable.
Fielding the punt seems about all you can do these days. As you noted, the spread punt formation now sends six players downfield immediately, severely reducing the ability of opponents to get good returns. A brief trip to the spreadsheet to compare 2000's stats with 2008's indicates there's some meat to this theory: In 2000, 46% of punts were returned with team averaging 10.1 yards each. By last year, the spread of the spread punt formation had seen punt return percentage drop to 39% and return average drop a full yard to 9.1. Since there are still a bunch of teams running old-school formations, those numbers underestimate the increased efficiency of the spread punt formation at least somewhat. Anecdotally, I think the difference is considerable.
As returns drop, "catch the damn ball" becomes an increasingly important part of being a good punt returner. Mathews has done that, except when he hasn't, and I'm fine with him back there.
Side note: I'm sick of fair catches. I'd like to see the NCAA institute the NFL rule; in the NFL you can have an illegal man downfield on a punt. I assume that rule is the only thing preventing the widespread adoption of the spread punt in the NFL; the numbers prove its efficacy.
"It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" wasn't used until 1984. The MMB heard Auburn use it in the 1984 Sugar Bowl ("It's great to be an Auburn Tiger), used it in secret there (since it was Auburn's cheer we could only use it with no one else around), and then used it in public starting in the Fall of 1984.
It's Hucklebee deep and Davis close and Leach under center...
Pam Ward is seriously god-awful. Everyone I know complains about her. I was talking with my dad about the Indiana game and mentioned how much I hated Pam Ward, and his response was "You too? Your mother and I can not stand her voice at all."
It was written and introduced by Boerma at the beginning of last year (08 season). The hand motion was introduced by the band and the student section slowly started following suit.
Though no one said so, I would guess this is part of a move away from the GD3DKPT, especially since I haven't noticed the KEY PLAY!!! thing on the scoreboards this year, and I have seen the cheerleaders with signs that say "MAKE NOISE", or something to that effect.
It's because she's terrible AND because she's a woman. I have no problem with women anywhere on the sidelines or as anchors ala Wendy Nix. And I have no problem with women anywhere--my current boss is a woman and is by far the best boss I've ever had. Anywhere but announcing a football game in the booth. Yes Ward is incompetent. But I don't want to hear a competent woman announcing a football game either. The tone, emotion and context of a great football game is inherently masculine in its energy and character. And while it's a sure thing that there are women out there who could do a good job, hearing a feminine voice describe the action pulls you out of the game and contrasts unfavorably with the action on the field, IMHO.
"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."
Anyone remember the Cal-MSU game about about 7 or 8 years ago when Cal pulled a trick play that involved Kyle Boller catching a pass from a receiver? Well you may not remember the play, but I'm sure you can remember Pam Ward's description of the play, which instantly became a staple sound clip of talk radio shows throughout the metro Detroit area:
"HE'S THROWING THE BALL BACK TO BOLLER!!!"
(/voice cracks like whoa)
Ever since then Ward has been refused to get too excited about any play no matter how improbable. I assume this was a direct order from her superiors after the widespread mocking of her call of the Boller play (which I think was one of her first games announcing.)
In great contrast to Pam Ward's dull call on that long Indiana run, I can vividly remember the great Keith Jackson's call of Tony Boles' 92 yard run against Indiana 20 years ago. Jackson had just finished describing how Indiana's defensive plan had been to take away Michigan's passing game and outside running. Boles hit the hole, and it was clear no one would catch him. He was barely 10 yards from the line of scrimmage when Jackson bellowed with that great drawl he had, "...and so much for that philosophy!". That was all he needed to say, but it was so perfectly delivered for the moment. There's no hope Pam Ward will ever be able to convey with her limited voice and insight what the great ones like Jackson could.
this weekend wasn't any better. I think the play-by-play was Wayne Larrivee. Both he and Chris Martin consistently called Troy Woolfolk, "Willfork" throughout the entire game. Larrivee also made a point to mention how great it was that Winston got a second chance to play from Dantonio.
Let's be honest here, if Pam Ward started getting super-excited over a play it would sound like a million nails on a million chalkboards. Part of the reason she's not a good announcer is that her voice is just terrible.