at least it's not just us?
MSU Pretape Thoughts
Er... first order of business is to note that because I'm an idiot, I forgot to tape the MSU game, so "Upon Further Review" is tenous at the moment. I hope to either A) get a DVD from someone in the AA/Ypsi area or B) relocate it to SB or IBFC this week. If you can provide A, please email me ASAP. When arrangements are made, you'll know.
- I don't mean to harsh the buzz, but the only thing that stopped Michigan State was Michigan State. Their occasional deadly screwups cost them them the game.
- That said, we frequently got very good coverage from the secondary which forced Stanton to scramble around fruitlessly and either take a sack, throw the ball away, or scramble for a couple yards (instead of 15). It was either that or someone mindbogglingly wide open.
- We did do a good job containing Stanton's running but it was at the expense of several other things, I think. David Harris was spying most of the game--he came up whenever Stanton escaped contain, whether it was via a designed rollout or not.
- The defensive line was almost totally neutralized by Michigan State's offensive line, though some of their passivity seems like it was intentional. Much like what we saw in the OSU game, Michigan tends to respond to mobile quarterbacks by making sure they don't get any running lanes at the expense of getting to them quickly, though the fact that we actually sacked Stanton a couple times puts us way, way ahead of the curve. It's possible that the MSU OL is one of the best in the country.
- If there was going to be a game where our safeties fell apart, it was probably going to be this one, but the only play that got past them wasn't really their fault (the flanker screen with a blitz called). I'll say it: "blah blah blah lose Ernest Shazor == worse" has been definitively proven to be false. Shazor's excessive aggression increased the variance of the D immensely and is not missed.
- Tim Jamison played only sparingly but the first down he played was more than impressive. He came in, blew his man three or four yards off the ball, and then made a 4-yard TFL. He made a similar play against EMU. Concerns about him holding up against the run may be overblown.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Henne. One awful decision on the interception and a little bit of inaccuracy but nothing like that which we saw against Wisconsin. Instead, we get 60+ completion percentage and three touchdowns. I remember thinking at halftime that I thought Henne would make one mistake too many and that would result in our loss, and thinking that I was a total jerkface for thinking that after the interception. But he did not.
- Welcome to 2005, Mr. Hart. We missed you OMG SOOOO BAD.
- Can someone get the #1 jersey to Manningham stat? It's clear that he has no idea where to line up half the time but that will fix itself with experience. It is also clear that not putting #1 on him is thoroughly dumb.
- Despite Hart's 218 yards, our running game sucks. Other than the 113 yards on the two long carries, Hart picked up 105 yards on 34 carries. That's just over 3.0 yards a carry. That's also terrible. I've advocated the idea of "line yards" in the past and hold to that philosophy now: the yards that Hart made due to his awesome and the incompetence of the MSU LBs and safeties don't impact the fact that our offensive line was almost completely stymied by their defensive line. This happened against Wisconsin as well.
- Yeah, but that last drive in regulation was pretty badass, no?
- The playcalling at the end of the first half was inexcusable. First the timeout before fourth down when the clock should have been allowed to wind. Then the run on first down with no timeouts followed by a spike with 19 seconds left on the clock when Michigan had more than enough time to throw into the endzone twice. Awful disorganization at its finest.
- Conversely, the final drive of regulation was masterful. It's a shame Rivas missed the field goal because otherwise that grinding, fourth-and-one-happy "we're tougher than you" drive would have gone down in Michigan lore. Twice Carr was faced with fourth and one and twice he made the correct decision to pound it into the line. The second time he--perhaps wiser for his experience in the Rose Bowl--passed up a makeable field goal. In the end, he had bled the clock from almost 7 minutes to 50 seconds, forced Michigan State to use all its timeouts, and had set his kicker up with a 27 yard field goal that would have likely won the game.
- The utter incompetence of the review guy in this game forced Carr to use a timeout to get the first half Barringer interception-fumble correctly called, but it was wisely spent. If that call doesn't get overturned Michigan loses.
- Speaking of the utter incompetence of the review guy, the Henne "fumble" was an outrageously bad call made even more outrageously bad by the fact that the incompetent review guy let it stand. Henne's hand had been moving forward for decades before the ball came out. If Michigan had lost the game, it would have taken its place next to the Desmond trip and the Clockgate game in the pantheon of worst calls in Michigan history.
- Note the difference between the review guy versus Wisconsin, who made three reviews very quickly and got each call right, and this review guy versus Michigan State, who took forever to get one obviously wrong call reversed and then took forever to let one obviously wrong call stand.