Both views. I hope our linemen grow up in the next year. Heikos point makes one wonder if a couple of our head coaches should really be losing their jobs this off season.
Punt-Counterpunt: Ohio State 2013
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
by Nick RoUMel
Let me just say this about that. Brian’s article “Fickle” of 11/26 was the greatest article of all time.
I read “Fickle.” I nodded with manifest resolve, and knew right then that I had given up on this game. It was that simple. Unlike Brian, I felt no guilt and sold my tickets. Do you know how clean Stub Hub is? Enter the bar code and PayPal give you the money. No muss, no fuss, and crazed OSU fans with Buckeye necklaces will be sitting in section 39, row 80, seats 5-7, singing Hang On Sloopy.
Should I do that, and deprive the Wolverines of that buzz? No. Dammit.
I acknowledge I was too cynical. I needed to talk to a Wolverine. So I caught up with Brandon Williams (DB, ’99-’02, with a pro career through 2008). Brandon is now involved in philanthropic work and is connecting former players and fans through social media, www.gobluetan.com. As always, he was engaging, thoughtful, and positive.
Let’s go back to that buzz. In 2001—Jim “The Little Penguin” Tressel’s first year— Brandon was on Lloyd Carr’s Wolverines. He told me there is nothing like it, entering the Big House, sounding like everyone in the stadium is talking at once—a buzz, a roar. Even at warm-ups, normally 60-70,000 meandering in, for Ohio State there were 100,000 strong cheering like crazy.
Michigan fell short in that 2001 game, 310 days after The Little Penguin’s vow at the OSU/Michigan basketball game that the fans would be “proud” of their Buckeyes in Ann Arbor. But according to Brandon, Coach Carr turned that timeline against Tressel. He created a secretly recorded film showing the Wolverines preparing for battle: day 250, in the weight room; day 144, in a team meeting; hard at work at practice; day 79.
During this preparation, Michigan would not see red. There was a rule, that no one could wear green or red during the football season. Brandon told me, if the Jimmy John’s delivery guy came to the weight room during the season, the players would chase him out—deliveries had to be made to the trainer’s room.
Best of all, in one pre-game practice, as the sun was setting, the team looked at the sky. It was red in the west, blue in the east. Larry Foote exclaimed "there’s more blue than red!" You may think that’s a little corny but Brandon told me, “The whole practice just blew up. Carr loved it.”
He added, “Coach Carr never said anything bad about Tressel. But the buildup for that game was the best ever. We didn’t fully understand how huge it was. Chris Perry told us, the Michigan–Ohio State game is being televised live in Times Square, from start to finish.”
He spoke about the rivalry. “When the game started, the emotions were high, it was a little dirty. But then things settled down. It was hard hitting.
“There’s nothing like it. I’ve played in NFL playoff games, Monday Night Football. But there’s nothing like a Michigan-Ohio State game.
“You have to understand. You’re not just playing for you. You’re playing for all the guys who have played before you. They watch, they come back, and they care. I watch the game every week and ten guys are texting back and forth, calling back and forth. You’re playing for all of us.
“That rivalry, it’s always there. You can play on the same pro team with an Ohio State guy, and you have a working relationship, but come April, you’re betting on the game, and you still hate their school.”
I asked Brandon, given the challenges Michigan has faced this year, what would he tell the fans?
“Relax! A few years ago we had three wins, you know? So relax. I don’t want Coach Hoke to leave. We hear [the internet criticism], and move on. But we don’t forget it.”
Hearken, Wolverine fans. It’s been a tough year. But as Mr. Williams tells me, you throw the records out the window this week. It’s young men playing for pride. And yes, they make me feel guilty for selling my tickets.
I get it, Brandon. I feel Brian’s frustration, but I am a Michigan fan. I see red this week, but I am behind these boys 100%. If you don’t get pissed at being a 17 point dog at home to these stupid evil Buckeyes, then there isn’t a blue bone in your body. It is indeed great to be a Michigan Wolverine.
MICHIGAN 28, OSU 26
by Heiko Yang
I turned on the Arkansas-LSU game last night just in time to see LSU’s center go down with an injury. His replacement was a guy whose name sounded awfully familiar: Ethan Pocic, a true freshman five-star offensive lineman from Illinois who had Michigan high on his list before Michigan said they were done recruiting linemen. Except at that point Michigan wasn’t really done recruiting linemen, so I think a lot of people were peeved that they let him get away. But that’s beside the point.
I watched the next series of plays with an eye on Pocic, wanting to see how a highly touted true freshman interior lineman would perform at a program like LSU, whose offensive line play and coaching isn’t a complete tire fire like we think it is at Michigan.
Pocic got blown up almost immediately. His inexperience cost LSU their running game (RB Jeremy Hill, who had been averaging nearly 10 yards a carry got stuffed repeatedly), pass protection (I think Pocic got smoked for the sack that knocked starting QB Zach Mettenberger out of the game), and another offensive lineman (Hill got tackled near the line of scrimmage and rolled onto the leg of the right tackle). There were a bunch of false starts, too. One guy was all it took to unravel the entire offense. It was a miracle that LSU was able to pull out the win.
As a Michigan fan, all I could think the entire time was, “It’s not his fault!” Offensive linemen are like a fine scotch: if you bring them out before they’re ready, it’s going to burn real bad. Michigan fans have known this since September. Michigan’s coaches have known this since they got to Ann Arbor. That’s why Brady Hoke has been hoarding offensive linemen the last couple recruiting cycles because he saw the roster in 2011 and his reaction was probably something to the effect of “Winter is coming.” And we need scotch.
Well, winter is here, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it but wait it out. It’s worth considering making changes to schemes and the coaching staff, but nothing will make the offensive linemen grow up faster.
Michigan and Ohio State will play The Game today with the Wolverines a multiple-score home underdog (the odds are so lopsided I think there was a prop bet somewhere pitting Michigan's total rush yards against Ohio State's margin of victory). A lot of the stadium will be red, and I won’t even be mad. While the Wolverines have needed some pretty spectacular heroicism just to avoid being 4-7, the Buckeyes have steadily ridden their run game to a 23-, soon to be 24-game winning streak. Honestly, it will take some sort of miracle for Michigan to stay competitive in this game, let alone win.
And I guess that’s really the one nice thing about good, veteran offensive lines: they make miracles unnecessary.
OHIO STATE 40, MICHIGAN 17
Someone like Hecklinski can call a game. Someone has to OC the bowl.
Wow, version 3.0! You're on a roll lately. I've noticed your sentiments are all over the board, too. I can't even tell what you're arguing anymore. Supporting the coaches, calling for heads, optimistic, pessimistic. I'm almost there, too!
I am in PA. I am fixing my 2nd post-Thanksgiving turkey. I have to stop at Lowes to get more Chirstmas lights after the game. I really really really want to be wearing my Michigan sweatshirt at Lowes as I come across some sad Ohio fans giving them the Moonlight Graham wink knowing we pulled off one of the biggest wins ever.
If BC isn't beyond honest discussion, might you relate your anecdote about the Arkansas-LSU game to him?
I watched the game and thought I was watching Michigan's OL. A silver lining in all of this, Michigan will have a stable full of offensive linemen with game experience for next season.
Somewhere in there is a team that started the year in the top 20, beat Notre Dame handily, and had many experts in the early season predicting a win over OSU. That team wasn't what we thought it was, but if these kids can somehow regain half of the confidence and swagger that they had in August, we might have a chance (...to beat the spread?).
We have athletes; they have athletes; all of them were highly ranked coming out of high school. Each side is made up of 18- to 23-year-old kids. Now, mind you, their kids have been coached much better and have the mentality of winners. But, you never know when you throw 22 guys out there!
Remember Purdue-OSU 2012!
Gentleman & Ladies of MGO Land, Let us dismiss the Negative thinking for this Game today. May we all think Positive thoughts and change the Energy flow on the field of Battle. May our boys execute and play with Speed and Agility! May DG have Dead On Accuracy and the O-Line perform like Hadrian's WALL! Let the Arrogance and the Overconfidence effect be the DEMISE of the Opposing team!
EXPECT TO WIN!
CHANGE THE FLOW OF ENERGY!!
it was '95 but possibly '96...?? when we had zero chance and Woodson was a Freshman? I'm really not good at dates, but I do remember when Woodson was a freshman and we had no chance...I am so hoping this is one of those years.
Great Punt-Counter. Great discussion without getting snarky. So appreciate this.
Interesting about Ethan Pocic -the 5 star freshman lineman and his poor performance in the LSU-Arkansas game. It makes one pause to consider that there might be some hope down the road-maybe the coaches are right, we gotta be patient. It also means that we are in for at least one more hard to stomach season next year before we can expect to beat the Iowas and PSUs of the BgTn and actually play competitively with Sparty and Bucky. Goals that were thrown out early in the season about being BgTn champs ect were PR hyperbole at best. I am not happy with the OC and think we would be better off with someone else, but I believe thats not going to happen and that this coaching staff will remain intact for another 2 years probably. Anyway, like all blue bones I will suffer through todays game still rooting for them to... win or look respectable and not get embarassed?!. GO BLUE!!
thanks guys. Sometimes a dose of non-bayesian modeling is needed to maintain the balance.
How beat up Gardner must be. Won't be surprised if Morris has to play some snaps and can't imagine that being too pretty.