and scores 2 to 3 touchdowns in this game against Michigan.
Errr, forget it. STFU self. You're out of YOUR element.
|WHAT||Michigan vs UConn|
September 21st, 2013
|THE LINE||M -18|
|WEATHER||mid-60s, 0% chance of rain|
"paul pasqualoni young". Yup. That's real. If you don't believe me you're spending an awful lot of time disbelieving things it would be patently silly for anyone to make up.
UConn. The very name sends trembles down your spine. After Randy Edsall ascended to Heaven on a pillar of righteousness, the Huskies hired legendary Michigan-killer Paul Pasqualoni, and since they have written their name in blood and glory across the night sky.
In their opening game the Towson Somethings struggled to acquired 201 yards on the ground on 50 carries, a 4.0 average. Starting tailback Terrance West ground out 156 yards on 36 carries as the Huskies bayed and called around him, mocking, ever mocking. The Conn Army's second game was ever more dominating: Maryland acquired a pathetic 231 yards on 40 carries; the Terrapins feared exposing just one tailback to the ruthless fangs and split their carries between CJ Brown (QB, 1991-2013, 16 carries for 122 yards) and Brandon Ross (RB, 1992-2013, 18 carries for 95 yards).
I have to break from the faux terror here because UConn's defense was in fact shockingly good a year ago. Do you remember that they held Teddy Bridgewater to 10 points in regulation and 20 overall in a triple-overtime win over Louisville last year? You probably do not, because who remembers things about random Big East games featuring 5-7 UConn? Bridgewater took 53 attempts to acquire 331 yards but threw two interceptions and got sacked five times. The Louisville ground game acquired 57 yards, quarterbacks excluded. For the year, UConn was seventh nationally in rush defense, second only to Alabama in yards per rush ceded.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore* are off to the NFL, as are corners Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. All of those guys were off the board by the early fourth round. Losing four mid-round NFL draft picks in one go is a body blow for a team with UConn's talent level, and they're currently reeling. Maryland bombed them for 500 yards and FCS Towson almost cracked 400.
Without much penetration or experience on the outside save for Yawid Smallwood, the lone returner from last year's all-NFL linebacking corps (Smallwood is projected as a third round pick like his buddies), Michigan should have opportunities similar to the ones they did against Akron as soon as they figured out what the Zips were doing with their bear fronts. UConn will stem into some three-four looks, but Michigan's seen that already. This has to be a step forward for the line and Toussaint or it's time to stop pushing the panic button and resign ourselves to another zombie apocalypse of TFLs.
Ace thought the interior of the line was solid against the Terps, so this will provide a human-sized challenge for the offensive line after two weeks of baby seals and one featuring two top-end NFL prospects. Move some guys, get some holes, see Toussaint follow them, and spark an ember of hope.
*[Sio is a nickname for… wait for it… "Snorsio." Wow.]
Key Matchup: Fitzgerald Toussaint versus Poor Damn Toussaint Syndrome. Follow your fullback, man. What's the worst that could happen?
Other than that.
Please come out from under the table.
[Hit THE JUMP for lots of caps letters in the cheap thrills section.]
This has actually been worse than the run defense—a lot worse. Ace noted that UConn left their safeties in a two-deep shell for the whole Maryland game in an effort to not give up big plays. This did not so much work, as Maryland's QB hit 10 YPA despite completing just over half his passes. Five different Maryland receivers had catches of more than 20 yards and—sigh—Stephon Diggs averaged 22 on five catches. Towson hit 9.6 YPA itself, with three receivers going over 20 yards. If Gardner's not Bad Gardner he should rip these guys open.
UConn sounds like a lower-rent version of what Michigan's been doing this year, playing a lot of soft zones and combining that with zero pass rush. Ace:
The pass rush was pretty much non-existent. In fact, it was non-existent: UConn didn't record a sack and weren't credited with a single QB hurry on Maryland's 28 pass attempts. They haven't sacked the quarterback once this season. Again, their other game was against Towson.
The loss of Williams (11.5 sacks last year) and Moore (8) is brutal here, as an excellent pass rush was a major part of last year's success. Also, two third-round NFL cornerbacks.
With UConn patently not trusting the replacements at either of these spots and laying back, this will be a day for underneath stuff to Funchess, Butt, and Dileo. Gallon will of course be targeted plenty. With Michigan projected to keep Gardner clean all day this will be about Gardner seeing the right coverages and hitting his guys in rhythm. He should be able to do that easily.
Key Matchup: Devin Gardner versus NO DEVIN STOP DEVIN OH MY OH oh. Oh. Oh man.
Towson's uniform numbers are all fancylike
Surprise! Michigan is playing another shotgun passing spread. That's four for four this nonconference schedule. Unlike Notre Dame, though, where shotgun passing seems like a choice, here the Huskies offense seems to be throwing it because that's their only option. UConn… is not good at running. I give up on the faux terror. There can be no faux terror in the face of these numbers.
Even if you cut out QB Chandler Whitmer's eight carries for –36 yards, UConn did not get over the three yards per carry hump against the Terps, coming in at 2.8 yards a pop. Primary back Lyle McCombs did somewhat better against Towson, acquiring 4.5 yards a pop on 17 attempts—that's still just 76 for the game. Last year the Huskies finished 117th in rushing, averaging 2.5 yards a carry.
I know we're trying to bow down to little brothers after last weekend, but… yeah. UConn is going to run their tailback 15-20 times, not block it very well, get one carry for 20-30 yards, and try to convert second or third and long quite a bit.
With Michigan presumably in a nickel package most of the day, the most interesting thing to watch will be how the defensive tackles hold up to double teams. They'll be available with Michigan laying back (probably), UConn likes inside zone, and Michigan's seen their line creased too often to be comfortable. This will be the final audition before Big Ten play for Wormley, Glasgow, Henry, and Godin. Will one guy emerge into a starter-type player?
Key Matchup: D'awwww I just said it. Black and Rotating Three Tech Buddy against inside zone double teams.
hey man don't blame me blame GIS
Whitmer is a pocket passer all the way. He got two on-purpose carries against Maryland that went six yards; he threw 46 times. Shift scrambles and sacks to where they belong and UConn called 52 passes against 27 runs. Expect another 50-throw performance from an opposing quarterback. Sorry, nose tackles. Maybe against Minnesota.
The throwing things about will give Michigan some opportunities to acquire turnovers. Whitmer is like Michigan's pick-happy QBs of recent vintage… but slow! Ace tackled Whitmer's performance against the Terps in some detail in FFFF:
Whitmer has a terrible habit of making late throws to the outside, which is how he tossed one of his interceptions, and a couple more of those could've been picks as well. He makes poor decisions under pressure, which is especially troublesome since the offensive line is allowing five(!) sacks per game, 121st in the country. This has caused him to develop a bad case of happy feet; he took a safety when he sensed that his right tackle was going to get beat off the edge, ran back into the end zone—allowing the DE to lose the RT easily—and threw an obvious intentional grounding. The snap originated at the 9-yard line. He was under center. This is... not good.
On the plus side, Whitmer showed solid downfield accuracy when given time in the pocket, especially attacking zone defenses. Most of UConn's passing game is short stuff, however, because it's hard to trust Whitmer not to make horrible decisions when throwing downfield as his protection breaks down, which happens often.
As a sophomore last year he completed 58% for 7.4 a pop with 9 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in just 208 attempts. For perspective, he throws picks at double the rate Tommy Rees does. He's got three in his first three games this year. Yes, Devin Gardner regards that as amateur hour, visiting Spartan fans. Thanks for reminding us.
That offensive line is another issue for the Huskies, as it both forces a lot of throws and lets people through at an alarming rate. This is the last stand for The Right To Rush Four. If Michigan can't get through these guys, it's time to have a candlelight vigil for Jake Ryan's knee and put Da'Shawn Hand in a time machine.
UConn's WRs are of the large leaping variety; returning starter Geremy Davis led the team with a respectable 44 catches for 613; he's a 6'3" guy Draft Insider calls a "terrific possession receiver" who gives you little in the way of speed or quickness. He's their top NFL prospect outside of Smallwood. Junior Shakim Phillips busted a 75-yard touchdown against Maryland and with 15 catches after just two games he's on pace to have a thousand-yard season. He was an Army All-American who had big offers but chose Boston College and washed out there. He could be emerging into that talent level late.
That's about it as far as targets go. Phillips and Davis have 25 of 35 catches that have not gone to tailbacks for short gains.
Key Matchup: Clark/Ojemudia/Black vs For The Love Of God Please Get Some Non-Stunt, Non-Blitz Pass Rush. Please.
This will be of no consequence. If Michigan punts, hopefully they do not shank it and actually cover it. Maybe Dennis Norfleet breaks one, if he catches the damn ball.
EPIC IMPORTANCE. IF YOU DO NOT SPEND THE NEXT 24 HOURS PINING FOR PUNTS OF AT LEAST 40 YARDS ALL PUNTS WILL GO BACKWARDS AND ALL FIELD GOALS WILL BE FLUNG INTO YOUR GRANDMA'S EYE. KICKOFFS WILL EXPLODE DIRECTLY INTO YOUR HEART AND YOUR LAST LIVING THOUGHT WILL BE "I DESERVED THIS."
Key Matchup: CATCH THE DAMN BALL KICK THE DAMN BALL STRAIGHT YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS OR STILL ON THE FIELD AFTER 20 YARDS
(Appendix: UConn kicker Chad Christen is reliable inside of 40 yards, where he's 15/17 in his career, but he was just 2/7 outside of 40 last year. Think Gibbons except with shorter range. Meanwhile, Cole Wagner's got a pretty miserable 37.5 average. Only one of his fifteen punts has been returned at all, though, and that for four yards.
UConn hasn't done anything in the return game this year, but with Michigan's punting and coverage that might not matter. Overall advantage Michigan as long as Wile is putting the ball in the field of play.)
this cat stars in a boring video of it watching UConn basketball
Cackle with knowing glee if...
Fear/Paranoia Level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for WHAT THE SHIT WAS THAT, +1 for OH GOD IT BURNS, +1 for I REMEMBER IT ALL, +1 for EVEN THE PARTS THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, +1 for ESPECIALLY THE PARTS THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN)
Desperate need to win level: 100 (Baseline 5; +500 for WHEN WE LOST THE HORROR MY FUTURE WIFE SHOWED ME MAGNOLIA AND I QUIT JUST BEFORE THE FROGS AND WENT TO BED SURE THAT THERE WAS NOTHING IN THE WORLD AT ALL, –405 for I MAY BE SLIGHTLY OVERREACTING)
Loss will cause me to... sigh expansively over a glass of expensive cognac because my God did I expect this. Did I expect this.
Win will cause me to... collapse in a heaving mass of nerves and praise any available deity for sparing me.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Michigan is not as bad as they showed last week, and if Devin Gardner can keep his turnovers down to one there won't be enough resistance on UConn's part to keep Michigan out of the endzone much.
On defense there will be some irritating drives as UConn smallballs its way downfield, like every opponent has this year. That's the nature of the passing spread: it's pretty good between the 20s even if you're physically overmatched. UConn will move the ball erratically, putting together a couple of good drives that score and a couple more that peter out.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
and scores 2 to 3 touchdowns in this game against Michigan.
Errr, forget it. STFU self. You're out of YOUR element.
The stakes here are even higher than normal. In all the bars, in all the gin joints, in all the world...at least in the eastern US, they will be watching this game. If we lose this could be The Horror of Horrors due to the national TV. I think in games like maybe I should short Michigan and at least get a financial payout if the awfulness occurs.
Brian's so spooked he's predicting a conventional score. NOW I'm afraid.
You beat me to this point.
Which is awfully tempting.
Which is actually the score I guessed for the t-shirt giveaway.
UCONN must pay for what Akron put us through.
Michigan 45 - UCONN 6
What's with the normal score prediction?
he meant 36-12
Nah, it can be Michigan with 35 but UConn will have 11. One of the numbers is usually nearly phycically unattainable.
Or my personal favorite:
edit: also, TD, FG, safety
Did Brian just predict a normal score? I am so confused.
Edit: ...and late.
I demand to know who is paying for this one: "they have written their name in blood and glory across the night sky . . ."
I said last week that if we didn't shutout Akron, I'd be pissed. I was pissed after the game, but winning is winning. I also predicted 65-3. "Samsonite...I was WAY off!"
I think UConn will get their asses handed to them in this game; thinking M wins by five touchdowns.
one is the loneliest number.
it's not going to stop, 'til you rise up.
will lead the team to a decisive victory...the defense will still be meh, and hopefulyl Frank Clark finally gets a sack on a play where it is needed for a boost before Michigan steam-rolls UConn
I've always thought that Syracuse overreached by firing him. He had a good record by that school's standards - or what I think their standards should be, I suppose.
As for predictions:
We will be treated to UConn's fight song "Connecticut, oh Connecitcut, what a fine suburb you are!"
UConn men's and women's basketball will be mentioned 106 times by the announcers.
There will be a one-point safety, and the laughing face of David Lynch will appear on the scoreboard.
The people of Connecticut will largely ignore the game, preferring to spend their leisurely evening laying by the fire reading Hawthorne.
Shaw was from Massachusetts, of course, but the quote somehow seemed Connecticut-y.
Follow your damn fullback.
If Fitz doesn't gain 100 yards, is this the last time that we will see the "Fitz gains 100 yards" prediction/
to be terrified of tomorrow's game? Was last week a fluke or not? I need to know.
I'm terrified. I bet on Michigan against the spread but I teased it down 7 points. If they can't beat UConn by 11 it'll be a long year.
I have no idea what to expect. Is this a game where the coaches double down on what we've been doing or do they see it as a last chance to tinker, both game-plan and personnel? Do we come out pissed off and kicking ass, or does the combination of pressure to show Akron was a fluke and an night time away game cause more big mistakes? Will we find out decisively if we are the Legends favorites like after ND or a fatally flawed team like after Akron, or will we be left with more question marks on how good we really are following a meh performance?
I just can't seem to figure out Toussaint this year. He seems like he's just cut/juke happy, like he's doing it by default for no reason. I've been rewatching the first 3 games and on a number of play action passes where he's in he'll cut and juke right around the blitzing linebacker he's supposed to block. Can't explain him doing that and missing so many wide open holds any other way.
I liken it to the "yips" in golf. He's got the "hit-the-hole" yip, if you will.
+1 in lieu of actual +1
The real question is: can one sue oneself for IIED? If one can, then you might just have a case counsellor!
But, should you represent yourself in such suit?
But, should you represent yourself in such suit?
1) It depends on the suit - blue or charcoal gray; and
2) Whether either of EmoLawyer or GothAttorney is available.
all the starters are out for most of the second half. Thirty-four to 14; we miss an extra point or something.
Turnovers will be televised that's for sure. Regionally though so check your map.
Michigan 51 husk 10
I watched josh nesbitt do that against fsu in 2009. its not for the faint of heart.
on the if we lose part. Almost losing to Akron has really helped me out. Losing to uCONN will almost feel normal after last week. Sure I will be upset, but I won't be angry. Sure my liver will hate me, but my couch will remain underneath my bottom, sulking like the man sitting upon thee. Un-burned though.
After this past week the team is focused and on point. 38-10 with a lot of Shane Morris in the 4th quarter.
We are going to take it to them
does something magical happen when I get to 50 Points???
You win a free trip to Novaya Zemlya.*
*Award does not include shipping and handling fees
Your future wife thought what you needed after The Horror was Magnolia....and you still married her??
Is Gets It not trademarked yet?
There's definitely PTSD in this preview.
I was the only one to predict at least two touchdowns for Akron.
At least another touchdown or two from the Zips.
Oh, & Michigan will cream Uconn.
I'd like to say UM 35-13, but feel that UM by 23-17 may be the underwhelming score. okay, I'll go with 35-13, which still isn't that great
If we win by 22 at night on the road, that's not bad. I would not complain about that.
The team should bounce back this week. I don't think they will have the same attitude about a cupcake they had last week. They will be pretending this game is just as important as the OSU game.
Given all of this, I say Michigan in a blowout. 44-17.
29-15. And yes, BlueDragon, there's a truckload of PTSD in this prediction.
Teleprompter: "I'm Paul Pasqualoni?"
UConn will wish they could have swapped weeks with Akron. This will be the "don't ever fucking do that again" game.