So I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and have concluded that Michigan's biggest tactical error on Saturday night was not leaving Jerryworld ten minutes into the first quarter and wandering around Dallas until they'd had enough random encounters to go up several levels. Once Michigan had unlocked special abilities like Mystic Separation and acquired the Arm Of Elway, they could have returned to the field and resumed playing on a more even basis.
While this would take about three years and pose several logistical difficulties, there can be no debate this would have been a preferable to the solution Michigan's dunderheaded coaches decided on, viz., not running away at top speed apologizing profusely. By not fleeing to practice their skills on, like, bats and stuff, they ended up losing the game.
Worse, they ended up continuing the game, thus forcing a great many people to watch it. At no point did Al Borges deploy the EMP weapon he must have spent the offseason perfecting in lieu of figuring out what Denard Robinson is good at. So the broadcast continued unabated, except apparently in DC where DirecTV was on the fritz. (Wolverines in our nation's capitol: keep yourselves quarantined. You may be all that's left of us once the PTSD kicks in. You must continue to tell others of our sacrifice.)
As mentioned, a better strategy would have been to exit at top speed while splicing K-Pop videos into the feed.
One of 67,200,113 things that would have been preferable to watching football on Saturday night
But hey, I'm just a guy on the internet. Maybe I haven't thought this through. There are multiple strategies for successfully executing a game like Saturday's.
INVENT A TIME MACHINE. The classic. Go back to the point at which this game was agreed upon and describe to the decision-makers what the consequences will be. Unfortunately, in this case the only part of "nationally televised debacle on par with Chernobyl" that will be heard is "nationally televised," and nothing will change.
DRINK! Not working.
DRINK MORE! Nerft veruking erngerghf.
AFTER IT'S OVER, TELL PEOPLE YOU SUCK AND WILL PUT MORE SUGAR IN YOUR SAUCE. I'm not sure what the analog of putting more sugar in your sauce is but it's probably putting more MAN in your BALL down BY THE RIVER. This move was successfully executed by the guy who replaced the guy who only hears "nationally televised" at his old job and may be replicated here once the guy who only hears "nationally televised" has been safely quarantined in a relatively meaningless BS government job like governor.
Sorry, world, that you think we suck. We're going to try not to suck any more, and look, here's some guy who works for us. Very middle America, this guy. Puts garlic on the uniforms. How cool is that?
GO LIMP. Jesse Williams may believe you are rotten and wander off in search of salmon.
GIVE THE BALL TO A 5'8" SLOW GUY OVER AND OVER. Scratch this one.
The weird thing about doing this and being this age is that you feel stuck. I did not know I was doing this when I started doing it and have felt grateful for my continued obsession it as various other people ranging from 30-50 have reported back on their waning interest in Michigan football, previously their alpha and omega. There's nothing sadder than the thing you used to think is amazing.
What I felt on Saturday was an intense jealousy of Orson/Spencer, who had a child a couple years back and is having another one. We're getting there, but not quite yet due to PhD things. It would have been nice to have a child to look at halfway through the second quarter and know with 100% certainty that what I was looking at was just a game that did not really matter.
I know this, or at least knew it. (I do not know this and never knew it even a tiny bit.) Now that the career is the game it is hard to figure out what's a reasonable response from a human, what's my response, and what's my response augmented by the fact that I've doubled down on fandom. All of it seems out whack, and never more so than on Saturday when a guy I've met a half-dozen times now, mostly at NYC Alumni Club events, was there. He's one of those magical guys who somehow makes a career out of writing stuff for Spin and the NYT Magazine and magazines that start "New York" and may or may not have additional bits in their name. He's been pitching an article about me at these organizations. He was taking notes.
At halftime I bellowed "THAT'S BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT RUNNING DENAAAAARD" at the television. I knew that this was probably not wise with a man taking notes in the room, but only after I did it. There it was anyway. I'd already spent the entire first quarter telling myself not to say anything on twitter until the die had truly been cast.
So, I feel stuck, you know? I'm 33 now, the age when Jim McManus had his Age of Miracles and went to the World Series of Poker to write about it for Harper's, married and not disjointed and blessed by the cosmos. It's a hell of a football game to watch that makes you wish this stuff didn't have such a hold on you, but the first time I looked at the clock and boggled at how much time was left was in the first quarter.
It'll pass, I'm sure. It's just a hell of a football game to do that do you, to leave you blank and unthinking until you laugh in a way that frightens even you.
Bullets we need for this post so you can't use them, find others
The takeaway. DENNIS NORFLEET WOOOOOOOOOOO. He looked fast! And returned some kicks a moderate distance! And got lit up by Dee Hart! And Fred Jackson doesn't think he can play!
Some other stuff that's not about Norfleet for some stupid reason follows.
Obligatory uniform opinion. Highlighter yellow emphatically not getting fixed, so the shoulder things combine with the pants to give off a blinding aura. If that was the goal—maybe Alabama won't even be able to look at us!—okay. I'm guessing it's not. Meanwhile, Alabama just wears their uniforms because they're Alabama. Their brand seems to be surviving.
Blown out. I debated just posting the Hoke presser and saying "Hoke's voice is all you need to know about this game."
Obligatory Borges stuff. Guh. The best thing you can say is that once you're down 31-0 you might as well get out of there without getting anyone hurt. When the opponents are saying stuff like this…
“I thought with the running back being out, I thought (Robinson) would’ve got more touches, because he’s a playmaker, he’s a good athlete, good player,” said Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson. “And I don’t know, it was a shock.”
…you totally outsmarted them. And yourself. Mostly yourself. Any hopes you may be harboring that this will all work itself out and Denard's legs will be the primary engine of the offense are looking pretty sickly at the moment. At least we've been here before, and Borges has retreated to plot anew. Usually he comes back with "hey, this guy can run."
The only rationale I can think of that makes any sense is that Borges believed flat-out that Michigan could not run at all and wanted an offense predicated on that. I don't know how much I buy that given Alabama replacing a number of starters and football coaches' general self-belief, but the numbers are clear. From Bill Connolly:
In 2011, Michigan ran the ball 74 percent of the time on standard downs (national average: 60 percent), 40 percent on passing downs (national average: 33 percent). Despite pro-style intentions, the Wolverines catered to Denard Robinson's strengths for the most part and kept things run-heavy, especially when Toussaint caught fire late in the year.
Against Alabama on Saturday, though, the gameplan was quite different. In the first quarter, Michigan ran just five times on 11 standard downs (45 percent) and just once in six passing downs (17 percent). These are Air Raid percentages.
If Robinson has 30 carries against Air Force I'll again descend into the Walter White laugh. (Spoilers, obviously.)
Would have been nice to see what Robinson could have become in an offense that catered to—or even bothered to use—his primary skill. (Everything else would have been terrible, of course.)
Yeah, yeah, Robinson had reads and could have kept the ball blah blah. Planning to get Robinson carries when Alabama's defense decides not to put a guy on him on the read option is not a winning strategy.
Gardner WR stuff. Gardner probably took more snaps at WR than anyone else and looked like a 6'4" version of Darryl Stonum from 2008. He consistently looked over the wrong shoulder on deep stuff and his routes were crap. But he scored a touchdown and could have had a couple more long gainers if he wasn't going up against yet another Alabama cornerback from hell. Gardner didn't get an opportunity to catch that opening slant thanks to that Milliner kid and had a few more potential long completions broken up by the Alabama secondary. Milliner raked one out; a few others never got there.
Roundtree. The first interception was debatably interference as Milliner shoved Roundtree to the ground on his route. Penalty or not, that sequence should make Roundtree's shortcomings as an outside receiver clear. He is not big enough, strong enough, or athletic enough to compete with standout corners. His assets are about as wasted as Denard's, though at least in Roundtree's case it's clear he's on the outside because of a lack of other options.
The ground game. Hard to get a grasp on anything, obviously. Michigan was overwhelmed; Toussaint would not have done much better. Aside from one Vincent Smith run that Alabama lost contain on, Michigan got jack on the ground. I can ask questions all day: why was Rawls going east-west? Why was misdirection hardly attempted? Did Michigan come into the game with more than one running play?
It doesn't really matter.
Bubble screens. They existed, and they got eight yards each, and they were Michigan's best plays that weren't chucking it deep. Gallon looked very good on both; there's no reason not to keep going to it when the defense is giving it to you.
In case of Lewan emergency. Move Schofield to left tackle (where he was pwned on his first play), Omameh to right tackle, and bring in Burzynski at right guard. In case of Lewan emergency, we are dead dead dead dead dead dead.
Defense. Ask again later. I stopped paying close enough attention to tell you anything interesting after the first quarter.
The Countess injury is of course a major blow; with Talbott out the door earlier their CB depth has gone from excellent to shaky before game two. Webb says($) expect Raymon Taylor to pick up the slack. The line was always going to get pounded. Somewhat disconcerting to see a lot of James Ross out there unless Michigan had also just packed it in and was screwing around with getting some experience.
Freshmen. Maize and Blue News has a comprehensive recap. Other than Ross (and NORFLEET) the most prominent freshman contributor was Jarrod Wilson, who stepped in as the free safety in the nickel package as Michigan moved Thomas Gordon down to nickel. Pipkins looked like he got some push on a few plays, too.
We did not see much from Chesson and Darboh, but if Roundtree keeps playing like he is that won't last.
Your winner for dumbest burned redshirt: Royce Jenkins-Stone.
Well, at least this isn't particularly unusual. Various recent Alabama scores:
2011 Citrus Bowl: Alabama 49, MSU 7
2011 Arkansas: 38-14
2011 Florida: 38-10
2011 Tennessee: 37-6
2011 Auburn: 42-14
National title game: 21-0 over LSU, LSU never crosses midfield.
Other than Georgia Southern, no team has put up more than 14 points on Michigan since Cam Newton's Auburn outfit.
Morgan had 8 tackles, but they were all assisted tackles, which epitomizes the game. In all of the one-on-one matchups, we lost. Bama was just more “-er” than us, bigger, stronger, faster, tougher. I avoided watching Bama last season because I hate that “ESS EEE SEE” crap, but there’s no denying how good they are.
I turned off the TV after Bellamy's first career pass attempt/interception and made my way quietly upstairs to bed. The rest of the family (wife, 5yo son, 1yo daughter) had long since decided that a good night's sleep was a better option than watching Michigan get smeared across the turf in Texas. I didn't feel any bitter emotions really, mostly concern for the collective knees of Taylor Lewan, Blake Countess, and Brandon Moore. I guess the Rich Rod years knocked all of the conceited sense of entitlement out of me for real.
Hinton is gloriously reborn and his article is mostly about Alabama, because obviously. The bit on Denard:
That said, Denard Robinson did not look like a quarterback on the verge of turning the corner as a passer. On one level, it's hard to judge a guy who's being consistently hit and hurried by a defense as relentless as Alabama's, which seems to have an answer for everything on almost every play. But Robinson was well below the Mendoza line tonight in terms of completion percentage (11 of 26), and his two interceptions in the first half were about as ugly – and as costly – as they come.
The first he simply put up for grabs, recklessly lobbing a jump ball in the direction of a receiver who had already been shoved off of his feet and out of bounds by Tide corner Dee Milliner, who found himself all alone to gather in the pick; Eddie Lacy scored three plays, extending 'Bama's lead to 21-0. On the second, Robinson stepped up in the pocket and drilled the ball directly into the chest of linebacker C.J. Mosley, who jogged in for an icing score that pushed the lead to 31-0. In both cases, Robinson had no idea what he was seeing when he put the ball in the air, and seemed more interested in getting rid of it under pressure for the sake of getting rid of, whatever the cost on the other end. Michigan fans have seen that before; all indications tonight are that they'll be seeing it again.
In the second quarter, with Michigan trailing 24-0 and backed up inside their 10-yard line, Kirk Herbstreit was talking about Michigan's non-existant running game. The camera panned up to Al Borges in the coordinator's booth. After relaying the upcoming 3rd down play, Borges shook his head in disbelief and rubbed his face. It was the unmistakeable look of someone who had run out of answers, like working your way through a maze and finding only brick walls.
Al Borges deserves some blame, but not much. Michigan wasn't going to be able to run the ball in this game. I predicted that Michigan would rush for fewer than 100 yards; the final tally was 69, despite having one of the most electrifying players in the country at quarterback. Yes, Denard Robinson probably could have run the ball more, especially before he got dinged up. Would it have made much of a difference? Probably not. Where Robinson really could have made a difference was in the passing game. He had lots of open receivers early in the game, but he's just as erratic as ever in the passing game. He kept throwing deep (inaccurately), and completed just 11/26 passes. The offensive line did a decent job of pass blocking, but if Michigan has to rely on Robinson to win the game with his arm, they're going to struggle.
Erratic, maybe, but I saw a lot of accurate-enough passes that would have been complete if not for Dee Milliner and other members of the Alabama secondary.
The time to be all introspective and "what it means to be a fan" isn't after getting our asses handed to us by Oversigning U. I'm a fan, and expected us to win. After the first 3 and out, I was hyped. After we got a first down, I was sure we were going to prove everyone wrong. Then, Blake goes down, they score, score some more, Jesus, there's 8 minutes left in the first quarter, Vincent is running up the middle, oh it's 31 - 0.
I'm 46. Two years ago, during 5-7, as a Rodriguez fan, I spent most of the year yelling at the TV with Dad. I walked out on a couple games. Til that point, my friends has always said I was the most positive fan they knew. I'd live and breathe for Saturdays, but I'd never let them get me down for more than a couple hours. For some reason, that 5-7 just brought out all the negative, and dwelling, and I didn't like it.
So since then, I'm back to letting it slide off. Saturday, once I realized folks were right, and we just weren't up to the level of Bama (where I live, BTW, which means this week at work will be FUN), I just sat back and watched the game without letting it get to me. I'd say we should run Rawls up the middle instead of Vincent, and where's Hayes (can we try something different?) and for God's sake, RUN DENARD! But I wasn't yelling, and I wasn't pissed. It was what it was. We're midstream changing the makeup of the team back to pro from spread. Nick Saban is an asshole who doesn't give a shit about the kids on his team, he'll chew them up and spit them out if they don't meet his level of excellence, doesn't care if he leaves them high and dry with nowhere to go. If he can get away with signing 25 a year, he'll keep winning championships until he drops dead. We can't match that. Saban was a failure in the NFL. This is all he has. Win at all costs.
But if we keep signing folks like we are, we'll be close in a couple years. We'll be in those playoffs. We'll be able to play Bama as close as anyone. I think we'll beat them every now and then. It'll be great.
There's just no reason now to be upset about losing to that NFL-lite machine. Have a drink. Let it wash away.
Robinson is never going to set the field on fire with his passing, but Hinton's statement about the interception when Roundtree was shoved out of bounds being the fault of Robinson has to be one of the most ignorant statements about football I've seen in a long time. The ball was either already in the air or at the worst, Robinson had already started his passing motion when Roundtree was knocked down. Yes, it was an interception, but that one is not on Robinson, so if anyone wants to make claims about DR's passing prowess, this was not the play to use.
20+ times against both Nebraska and OSU last year. Those were certainly defenses that weren't Indiana and Northwestern. I am not saying he should of carried it nearly that much against Bama, but at some point this season he will have to carry it 15+ times in order to win a couple of games, just like last year. If the goal is to win the Big Ten, Denard's legs are going to have to be used extensively moving forward. Not that 15+ carries is needed every game, but there is no way this team wins the Big Ten if you limit him to 10 or so every game.
...it could represent something much greater/worse if:
1. The team cannot get it together, learn from this experience, and play some great football the rest of the season.
2. This is a continuing indication of Hoke's ability to prepare for big games with better teams. I find this particularly alarming because I don't think he has done very well in this category. I don't expect to win every game, but I do expect to put together a competitive gameplan and not get embarrassed. The only game thus far I think he has done well is Nebraska. I could be wrong though.
Overall, this is the type of situation that will test a coaches intangible abilities that all great to lengendary coaches need. How Hoke reacts and prepares going forward will, for me, define whether Hoke is truly a great coach and the right man for this job.
I don't agree with Hinton's assessment of the first interception. When a go is called, you don't wait for the receiver to clear the corner. It's a timed play. You drop back, throw to a spot, and let the receiver run under the ball. The fact he was shoved out of bounds while the ball was in the air is another issue I have with the play, but whatever.
the playcalling in that Iowa absolutely deserved the negative response. I really don't see how the playcalling could be justified in that particular game. It was basically i-formation handoffs for much of the game, and it was obvious to anybody who watched the team last year that i-formation was not a strength.
The playcalling in the game against MSU last year was a little more debatable, but at the end of the day I don't think Borges adjusted very welll in that ballgame and gave up on the run too soon.
terrible, but I didn't think it was his best effort either. I agree that Denard couldn't carry it 20+ times against this defense, but 2 carries at halftime is somewhat extreme the other direction. Also as Brian alluded to I would of liked to see some misdirection type plays attempted or even trick plays for that matter, to see if you could use Bama's quickness to the ball to your advantage.
With that said, the margin was so large that better playcalling wouldn't of made much difference, at least in terms of having a chance to win. That is the difference between this game and the Iowa and MSU games, better playcalling in those games might of changed those outcomes. The o-line and d-line just did not hold up well enough at the end of the day, and playcalling would not of changed that. Like I said though, I don't think it was Borges' best playcalling day.
Yes, the play calling was HORRIBLE! Whoever thought running our smallest RB up the middle against one of the largest D-lines in college football was a good idea should be biffed in the head & called a dumbass. Unless your greasing him up like a pig & hoping he slips through, it's not going to work. Now, don't get me wrong, I love V.Smith courage & ability to not give up, But that was the wrong gameplan from the start. When it failed 3-4 times you would have thought they would have gotten the message. Not our coaching staff, nope...let's run the same play...OVER and OVER...and OVER.
What the hell you guys? I saw that game too. Yes, it was BRUTAL, but it isn't the end of the damn season. Take a shower, put on a clean shirt and smile. We've got Air Force in five days. Bounce back and get a little momentum. Buck up campers!
This is one of the only things related to the game that has made me laugh out loud. First of all, kids do help you keep things in perspective but only just barely. Ask any child of a true fan. I knew not to talk to my parents after losses when I was little. My mom was heartbroken. Second, my 11 month old linebacker in training also head butted me shortly before kick off and I'm pretty sure I (mercifully) blacked out for the first quarter.
“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.”
You're assuming this had to be a home game. We could've scheduled another MACrifice at Michigan Stadium and made much more than we did in Texas. Instead, as Brian has already stated, we traveled a long way, for almost no profit, to get our head kicked in on national TV by a better team that augments their talent pool with questionable recruiting ethics. Bottom line, this was a stupid fucking game for Brandon to schedule.
"...what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
I am sorry you had to watch the whole game Brian. I understand it is your job, but still it had to be brutal. I did not watch one second. I met up with some friends, drank beer, and played cards. I just could not see wasting my time watching a game that was not going to end well. I do not know why any Michigan fan was excited for this game. Alabama is basically an NFL team and Michigan is just not even close to that right now. The crappy recruiting under RR is really showing right now. What I am really curious about is how this team will react? Under RR they seemed to get tight and play worse after getting punched in the mouth. I hope Hoke can keep them loose and focused. I still think it will be tough for Michigan to win 8 games this year. At this point the only game I care about is Sparty. Fergodsakes, beat those damn bastards and shut these State fans up. The bandwagon State fans are becoming unbearable.
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
you're a terrible fan? I mean seriously, not even watching a single snap, regardless of what you thought of the team's chances is somewhat ridiculous. Also would you and others stop with this doom and gloom stuff after one game, against an opponent who is sigficantly better than any of Michigan's remaining opponents. The Big Ten is still winnable(provided that injures don't start piling up), to sit there and say 8 wins is the ceiling is an overreaction to one game. Of course this team will have to play better than they did against Bama, but I expect the players and coaches to rebound/learn from this game. I would be sigficantly more concerned if they played their best game against Alabama and still lost handily, but that clearly wasn't their best effort on Saturday. The impact of Fitz being back by itself, should make a sigficant difference moving forward.
I think the issue here is that the RR years conditioned some people to expect the worst. I think part of that is still left over. Obviously this team is not as talented across the board as it will be in future and the depth isn't there at certain positions, but this coaching staff showed the ability last year to maximize what they have at their disposal and in some cases go even further than that.
Good point about the RR years. Some of that feeling is still left over for sure. As always this proves that posting when drunk is not a good idea. I am not a terrible fan, I have had season tickets since 1995 and attended every home game of the RR era.
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
The Spartans struggled, at home, against a Boise State team that returned 5 starters to it's roster...TOTAL Worrying about our chances against MSU because we came up extremely lacking against the defending national champions is being a bit over-dramatic.
"...what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?"
Brian - hate to tell you this but having a kid doesn't lessen the pain any. Yeah - youv'e got the distraction element but not much else. Maybe another shoulder to cry on. Actually it can get tougher. My kids went from cute to mocking to now having a freshman at UM calling me and asking what the hell just happened in Arlington and how should she deal with depression (drink, wait - don't drink says the dad).