i like 'em both
The Poseidon Adventure Begins
9/3/2011 – Michigan 34, Western Michigan 10 – 0.75-0
Q: What is awesome about the above photograph?
A: Brady Hoke's Joe Paterno impression. Look, ma, no headset.
On a day that lacked much in the way of emotional import—Brock Mealer did not touch the banner, Denard Robinson did not introduce himself by plunging from the heavens, mostly I felt hot or wet—the thing to do was read too much into the future of Michigan football based on little. We're going on even less than the rest of college football is after their opening-weekend bludgeonings since Mother Nature and inflexible regulation prevented a full game from being played. Things are fuzzy.
They'll remain that way for most of the season. Hell, they'll remain that way until Michigan's OL/DL depth chart crisis passes in two to three years. But I got the things I wanted the most, the things I spent large sections of the offseason hoping for, arguing would be true, or declaring to be the only sane thing a sane person could do.
BRADY HOKE IS NOT RICH RODRIGUEZ IN RE: COORDINATOR MEDDLING
Rodriguez's problem was never his selection of defensive coordinators, it was his refusal to trust them to do their jobs. The thing about Hoke is this: he does. At SDSU he hired Rocky Long to run a 3-3-5; Rocky Long ran a 3-3-5, and it was pretty good, and now he's the head coach. He hired Al Borges to run a passing-oriented West Coast offense; Borges ran a passing-oriented West Coast offense that wasn't quite as good as Michigan's in FEI's eyes but was still top 20. If he "gets" anything it's that he's a former defensive lineman with a narrowly defined set of assets that does not include being a genius of any variety—he's never been a coordinator. So he's hired two guys with very long, very successful resumes to do that stuff for him.
PRO STYLE IS INSANE STYLE
Switching to an actual pro-style offense would be doing exactly what Michigan did last year when it installed the 3-3-5 despite the total unsuitability of its personnel for the scheme.
DON'T FRIGGIN TOUCH ANYTHING OR I'LL CUT YOU
MOAR SHOTGUN PLZ
Check, check, good enough. Michigan was 70% shotgun.
The offseason was spent exploring the a disconnect between Brady Hoke's words and his teams' actions. The fear was that This being Michigan, for God's sake, would change his attitude from "whatever works" to "the expectation is for the position." That latter was the infamous Carr-era slogan that symbolized a stubborn adherence to out-executing the opposition. It led to things like a thousand Mike Hart zone stretches where he made four yards only after dodging guys in the backfield. I really, really did not want to go back to the days when Michigan's running plays could be described as "left" or "right."
Brady Hoke's words said the first play Saturday would be power; Brady Hoke's team ran the QB stretch that was amongst the most frequent playcalls a year ago. As the game progressed it was clear there had been quite a few modifications. It was also clear that there was enough of the Denard offense in there to go to it when Michigan needs to.
This would have been obvious to all if Denard hadn't chucked a QB Oh Noes well behind Drew Dileo on Michigan's final touchdown drive. If that's accurate Dileo scores on a play eerily similar to those of last year and everyone except Craig James is talking about how different the offense isn't.
That's good right now, and better down the road. It's been a long time since Michigan fans could say their head coach hired the best people for the job and let them get on with it.
Non-Bullets Not About Football
Brady Hoke knew this would happen. On the way back to the locker room his team speared themselves some dinner.
Increment the Grimsrud meter. Last year when Michigan decided that terrorists were likely to explode the stadium with sealed, clear bottles of water, everyone complained until David Brandon rolled his eyes and offered the plebes a freebie for the opener because it was hot.
On Saturday it was ninety degrees and you could buy a not-even-cold bottle of water for four bucks, get a complimentary three-ounce dixie cup, or hit up the Absopure stations. At least until they ran out:
Connor Dean, a Michigan student working at one of the Absopure Hydration stations at the stadium, said his station had exhausted nearly its entire 450-gallon supply of water by halftime.
Dean said a hydration station would typically go through about 225 gallons of water for an entire game. “This is crazy for a normal game,” Dean said.
The athletic department got lucky as hell that the skies opened up shortly afterwards. Even as it was the number of people conking out because of the heat overwhelmed Huron Valley Ambulance:
With temperatures on the field reportedly reaching 120 degrees, the heat overwhelmed fans at Michigan Stadium. Huron Valley Ambulance says the high number of heat-related cases it handled caused it to call for backup from the Ann Arbor Fire Department.
HVA officials said a count of the number of fans who've been treated for heat-related concerns would not be available until later Saturday, and they were too busy to provide even an estimate.
"It's extremely busy at Michigan Stadium,'' said Terry Pappas, communications supervisor for HVA. "We have multiple heat-related incidents and the Ann Arbor Fire Department is helping.''
If it's really about safety, the Absopure stations should be handing out 25-ounce bottles of water that cost ten cents instead of providing little cups you have to wait for and can't get back to your seats effectively. The athletic department's horseshit doublespeak about safety and convenience increased those issues so they could hawk some extra bottles of water. They're using 9/11 as cover. That's appalling.
Apparently posting We Are ND was the right idea for the wrong reasons. We have officially Freekbass'd ourselves, as the Dog Groomers' song was played three times to amaze and delight people who would rather hear these guys…
we are… DOG GROOMERS
we will… SHAVE YOUR DOG'S HAIR INTO A PLEASING SHAPE
also we have a band!
…than the Michigan Marching Band.
We're worse. While they've got a rapping hobbit, We Are ND was an internet-only phenomenon quickly clarified as a student project. It aired once at some banquet or something. We're playing music from The Best of Hot Topic in the stadium. This is the inevitable result when middle-aged middle-managers from Middle America try to be cool: massive failure.
What was so bad about a guy in the band beating out a steady rhythm as the crowd chants "Let's Go Blue"? Why does "This is Michigan, for God's sake" apply to running power off-tackle but not keeping the stadium atmosphere intact? Is there someone in the athletic department who really wishes he was running a regional arena in Charlotte, NC, with an ECHL team and regular WWE visits? Why does the guy on the left still look like an accountant? Who is the guy on the right kidding? Is the bald guy in the middle just photobombing this shot? I fear these questions are unanswerable.
In the spirit of ND Nation banning "Michigan sucks" posts, I will end taunting ND about We Are ND until piped in music is excised from the stadium. We are We Are ND.
Meanwhile, our band is metal. Western's band said "screw this" and showed up in white T-shirts and shorts so they wouldn't die. Ten of them still had to be treated for heat issues. Michigan's band roared out of the tunnel in full dark-blue regalia; while we don't have casualty numbers for them the mere fact that none of them died before completing the anthem is metal. One firehorse for the band.
Analogy to mandatory minimum sentencing goes here. The NCAA's CYA guideline about lightning strikes was the reason Michigan couldn't finish (or all but finish) yesterday's game. The sun had already come out by the time the teams finished getting off the field for the first delay, and that was the reason there was more than a few minutes left on the clock when the seriously dangerous storm rolled in.
Anyone looking at the weather radar could tell you that by the time they delayed the game it was perfectly safe, but lawsuit avoidance rules everything around me, and thus we get a silly abbreviated game that makes the value proposition of a 70 dollar ticket to watch Western Michigan play even dodgier. Boo.
Argh. So last year I'd get to my seat and tweet personnel stuff I noticed in warmups. This year I did the same and just got a bunch of replies that can be summarized as "duh." This is because the U announced suspensions/unavailability an hour before the game. Next time it would be nice if M could do that earlier or not at all. kthxbye.
Non-Bullets About Football
Depth chart/practice rumor updates. The offense was as expected. Brandon Moore got some time as the second TE, which is good.
On defense, Frank Clark had gotten hyped up this fall but it was Brennen Beyer who got a ton of time as a rush end. His main contribution was opening a few cutback lanes for Western. Also infrequently seen: Brink and Heininger. I'm guessing that's an artifact of playing a passing spread… but we'll see a passing spread next week. I'm hoping the massive substitutions were because of the weather and that RVB/Martin/Roh will get way more time against ND. Herron was a surprise starter at WLB and Avery started opposite Woolfolk.
I received a bunch of tweets predicting Carvin Johnson would not score well in UFR, and then he was replaced by Marvin Robinson. Will be interesting to see if that works out.
So weird in so many ways. The game would have been short even if it was long, if you know what I mean. There were all of two drives in the first quarter and Brandon Herron robbed Michigan's offense of two opportunities. As a result the offense only had five and a half drives to work with. They scored 3.5 touchdowns and went three and out twice.
Short term prognosis: grimmer? Less grim? We'll have to see what the UFR looks like but Western went up and down the field against Michigan in a manner reminiscent of everyone against last year's D… and scored ten points. Michigan forced two turnovers with QB pressure and held the best quarterback in the state to 5.9 YPA.
Hack out the Kovacs sacks and WMU averaged 4.9 YPC, which is not good when you're playing a MAC team with two fresh JUCO transfer backups at guard. Also hoping that's a result of the heavy rotation.
The offense had those three and outs, and because of the weird nature of the game that was enough for their output to seem somewhat worrying. They did give the impression they were about to blow the doors off when the game got called, having just blown down the field in three plays and moved the ball into the Western half of the field when the game was called.
Pressure existed. When Mattison figured out rushing four wasn't getting home he turned things around by blitzing like mad. One series late in the first half saw him go cover zero three straight times. On each play a Michigan player would tear up the middle unblocked, forcing Carder to chuck it off his back foot. JT Floyd made a play on the first; the second two were hypothetically open but Carder couldn't get it right because he was busy eating someone's facemask.
Hurray lack of GERG.
Running backs. Toussaint's getting good reviews everywhere and it'll be no different here. To me his most exciting moment was an eight-yard run late when he was cutting behind the backside tackle. He momentarily looked like he'd head inside of Lewan, sucking the linebacker inside, then burst back behind him to pick up good yardage. That was a "whoah, he can do that?" moment reminiscent of his high school film.
My only complaint is that on his long run he tried to truck the safety instead of angling away from him and probably cost himself 10 more yards. That mentality is helpful when he's running up the middle, maybe.
Kovacs preview 2012 preview. There is a 100% chance this is one of the images used for Kovacs next year:
Things I miss. A couple tactical decisions that seem suboptimal:
- The spread punt. I thought it was remarkably effective at holding down return yardage because it gave you six gunners instead of two. When Michigan punted, if the returner got past the first two guys he had 15 yards before the next wave showed up. The only disadvantage is the near-impossibility of faking from it.
- No huddle offense. I liked the concept of tempo as something you were capable of shifting on a regular basis, and it seemed like a good idea to remove the burden of calling audibles from the quarterback.
This is not an endorsement of Rich Rodriguez. Hoke uber alles.
COUCHDATE! Alex Carder, pictured above, just turned the ball over three times and averaged a terrible 5.9 YPA—more than a yard less than the national average—against last year's #108 defense. What do you think this means, Graham Couch?
This weekend — considering the performances of Carder, Denard Robinson and Kirk Cousins — in everyone's eyes, it should be a viable argument, even if not a certain one.
… Even though I truly believe Carder is the best college QB in the state, this column was an interesting social experiment alone, though it wasn't intended to be. … the argument against Carder by so many who had barely heard of him — and the manner in which they argued — was absurd.
It was an interesting social experiment: can a beat writer actually get criticized for being an embarrassing homer by a fan of the team he's covering? Survey says:
As a Western alum living 2k miles away, I really wish the Broncos had a better beat writer.
Sorry GC but I hate your style and you come off as a whiny, rambling, non-objective homer. I can appreciate the passion you have for defending our boys but just put the shovel down because you're digging a deeper hole for yourself. Just stick to the facts and give us information about our teams. You lose all credibility and professionalism as soon as you try to sell the reader your opinions.
Circle gets the square. /gameshow'd
AnnArbor.com surveys the changes at the golf course and find people are happier this year but still a little peeved that there had to be any changes at all.
MVictors and John Kryk find previous times when Michigan games have ended before full time. They're mostly from the days when you could accidentally play a 23-minute third quarter before anyone noticed. Greg also explores whether or not Brandon Herron's interception return TD was the longest in Michigan history or if Tom Harmon has him beat.
Shooting Blue returns with a long gameday review. Pop Evil "could only be worse" if the lead singer clubbed seals while Godwinning himself. Maize and Go Blue hit up Oklahoma this weekend and returns with a trip report.
Column type things: Wojo references the "numbingly familiar" defense. Get Rid of the Seaward is enjoy its first Michigan season in a while with normal LDH levels, which means cancer remission. Denard on Toussaint. Maize And Go Blue recaps the game. Holdin' the Rope:
As the rain fell and Brady Hoke patrolled the field as if he'd been around for a while already, as if it was undeniably his field and his program and not one that had just been handed to him only 8 months ago, it was hard not to come away with certain vague feelings of goodness, that something that was more good than bad had just transpired, a feeling of warmth that may or may not be ephemeral. The Era of Good Feelings continues. James Monroe's got nothing on Brady Hoke.
Aaaaaand the Hoover Street Rag "writes under the influence of muscle relaxers and pain killers."
More bullets can be found at TTB…
Apparently it doesn't matter who coaches the special teams, whether it's an offensive or defensive guy, etc. Some Michigan fans hated that defensive backs coach Tony Gibson was in charge of special teams because he was one of only four defensive coaches under Rodriguez. Now an offensive guy (tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno) is coaching special teams, and they're still bad. Kick returner Kelvin Grady doesn't look like anything special and made a bad decision to leave the endzone. Brendan Gibbons had a low extra point attempt blocked. Western Michigan averaged 31 yards per kickoff return and consistently had excellent field position.
and The Wolverine Blog.
And if you're looking for a few bullets on Michigan State, A Beautiful Day For Football provides. Sounds like that OL is going to be a problem. Also Minnesota and Northwestern had meaningful outings—Heiko will debut a weekly thing covering opponents tomorrow.
The best part, and by best I mean worst, was that they announced the game had been cancelled over the satdium loud speaker. Which could only be heard in the satdium. Which had been emptied. I was under the luxury box structure outside of gate 6 trying to figure out how long my wife would wait to see if the game was going to be continued. We heard them announce something, but couldn't hear what it was.
During the really important announcement that no one could hear, I asked an usher if I could go and listen and was told that I couldn't go back in. (He was doing his job and not letting anyone back in.) The obvious problem was that no one could hear what was going on. A few moments later, the cops were yelling at us to leave. (Again, doing their jobs.)
I actually found a guy in a tie with an "I work here" kinda of pass around his neck. I pointed out the obvious problem. He kind of winced and nodded with an "Oh crap! You're right that doesn't make any sense" expression on his face. So yeah, not really well thought out.
The water was ridiculous too. We stopped at a gas station and got some Gaterade to drink on the way in. (Hydrate without paying $4 for a bottle of water.) My wife still had some left when we got the stadium. She was loudly told "You have to finish that outside!" by three or four different ushers before she could even get to the trash can to throw her almost empty bottle away. It was absurd. Actually, that was the worst part.
Why not have the country's largest lightning rod?
I think its a little disingenious to ding Carr for being inflexible when RichRod went 100% spread 100% of the time no matter who was out there. RichRod even said something like (I am paraphrasing) "I can only coach what I know..."
Regardless, its great to see the coaches making adjustments based on player personell and game conditions. This def is not going to be able to line up one on one with teams and be successful. But the scheming, adjustments (see blitz packages in second half) seem to me to be a lot better.
Oh yeah, +1000 for more band. -1000 for athletic dept on water.
He had one player on offense that had seen any significant playing time. Why would you wait a year to install the offense you were brought in for? Hoke on the other hand has a ton of returning starters and it would be foolish to totally abandon an offense that so dynamic last year.
here...the 2008 offense would have been poor in any style of play.
Just make the criticism using quotes you understand. "The expectation is for the position" has nothing to do with running the system even if it doesn't suit your talent (Lloyd was a bit more flexible than Rich was in that regard, if not as creative). It has everything to do with not whining if a player goes down, and the back-up being expected to do as good a job as the starter if he comes in, no excuses. Saying a player can only play one way no matter his talents has nothing to do with it. See: Woodson, Charles.
Did anyone else catch Mike Martin's Facebook fan page tossing up a picture of Pop Evil "celebrating the win... 'Go Blue!' style!," complete with their Jack Sparrow-meets-Marilyn Manson garb and a tray full of blue jello shots with imitation block M's inside?
I want to go back a month into a universe where this band wasn't a part of our collective universe.
Check the film...we did run some no huddle. It wasn't constant, or even majority, but used as a change up.
And completely agree that if they hadn't wasted time with the first delay, the game would have basically been done and everyone safer.
Still drives me crazy that UM finds the need to pipe in music during the football game, and I don't even think it is middle-management cool. It probably resulted from a survey conducted by some "cool researchers" who asked some MSU kids what they thought about music in their stadium, and extrapolated from there.
As for the defense, the numbers weren't pretty but as we saw over the weekend, sometimes a decent defense can still be worked over by a decent offense when it is the first action they've seen in months. I mean, TCU's defense isn't great this year, but they gave up 50 points to Baylor, and teams like MSU and Auburn gave up far more yards than expected even given the losses on defense they experienced. I don't expect the defense to be better than the 70-80's nationally, but I'm also not going to worry too much yet about a single performance.
The offense looked good. The limited number of drives makes it hard to figure out how effective the offense will over the long term, but at the same time I'll take two defensive touchdowns every game.
Things I know...
1. The first delay was NOT because of lightning, it was a decision made by the referees and NOT the university/stadium officials due to lightning. The WMU coach was bitching at the officials as soon as WMU was on offense and the rain picked up...consider this to be a part of their decision.
Keep in mind that IF it was due to lightning, players would have to remain off the field for 40 minutes after the last sign of lightning within a 6 mile radius. The players weren't even off the field for 40 minutes total.
2. The western band was in tshirt and shorts because 4 of their band members were treated for heat exhaustion before even entering the stadium. This was on the walk over and while walking down the tunnel. After this happened, the WMU band officials made the decision for the band to change out of their uniforms and into tshirts and gym shorts.
Where are you getting this 40 minutes business from? I've been unable to find a page with the official NCAA rule on this, but all the news reports--plus the TV and radio announcers at the WMU game--say/said that the rule is 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.
I'm assuming you were at the game. On TV, right before the first suspension in play, they showed the referee talking to someone on the sidelines, who presumably told him that lightning had been detected and that play had to be suspended.
Even if the cups of water were enough, THEY RAN OUT BEFORE HALFTIME. And no one is expecting Brandon to pour drink down our throat and peel grapes; but he doesn't allow you to bring in water, so he's shirting the liability of being self-efficient to the Athletic Department. People will stop "bitching" when you can bring you own water like you used to be able to. Take your head out of your ass.
People used to be allowed to bring in unopened water bottles. This was changed, the justifications for the change were (1) the fact that water was provided for free from drinking fountains around the concourse (a lie); (2) free cups of water would be available "at each concession stand" (another lie).
Bruce Madej, when asked about the new policy, stated that "We want everyone to be hydrated while they are at the game. There will be lots of water available." This is at least one lie, and possibly two.
We've been replying to someone who's been deleted....
It's called a faucet idiot. It doesn't shut off. They ran out of cups. But somehow still had lots of $4 bottles of water to sell. Didn't "misplan" those. If you're dumb enough to get bent over by the Athletic Department and say "thank you sir, may I have another" without complaint, be my guest and drop 'Em. But don't blame others for being far smarter than you.
I, too, read that Couch article. It was as poorly reasoned of an article as I have seen. The sad thing is quite a few MAC fans think UM " got lucky" with the Herron INT. That such INT's occur on fairly regular basis and that what we saw Herron do(I.e: track the ball) is taught by coaches everywhere is lost on them. It was luck and nothing else. Inferiority complexes' can be a bitch.
That picture really is the coolest ever. A very General-like pace--maybe similar to a rookie Ohio-born Michigan coach from 1969