I will start my final diary of this season by thanking Dave Brandon for another "Wow" moment. He really went retro with the throwback uniforms, to a time before jerseys had numbers. Wait, there were numbers on those uniforms? One of the first things you learn when you start preparing powerpoint charts is don't use a yellow font color on a white background. (Another thing is make your fonts large enough for your audience to see them - and yes, this is a reference to the mini-numbers on the front of the UTL jerseys.)I would have thought that a marketing genius would know that. Maybe if they had made the blue border a little wider, the number would have stood out, or at least been visible. I think the problem was getting into business with Adidas in the first place. My wife bought me a couple pair of sweatpants for Christmas, because it gets cold at the Badminton Club in January. They were made by Adidas and the tags called them, "Weekender Pants." I tried on a pair and had a strange urge to move to Florida and start playing shuffleboard. In keeping with the SitCom theme of the season, I'll share a quote from Seinfeld regarding sweatpants, "You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.'" That sums up Adidas and our "wow" jerseys.
Burst of Impetus
* I didn't take notes during the game, so I was sitting here trying to remember what big plays Michigan made to grab the momentum. Then it hit me, we didn't make any. All the big plays were made by South Carolina. Ojemudia did force a fumble, but that was about it. Wile's 52 yard field goal was a nice shot in the arm and set us up for a dramatic fourth quarter. Our longest run was 19 yards and our longest reception was 26 yards. Meanwhile, both USC QBs had passes greater than 50 yards and one had a 64 yard run.
* Subtract the three long plays and our defense held SC to 236 yards on 50 plays. (Subtract the punt return and our Special Teams were pretty good as well.)
* Quoting me after game 1, "We held Bama to only 431 yards. They may be the best offense we face all year. If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy." USC gained 426 yards. Am I happy? No, because we lost the game.
* We had been playing with fire all season against shaky B1G QBs. We saw what competent QBs can do against 2nd string CBs, and even then, we almost pulled it out. One more bobble on the Sanders TD and that comes back and then who knows?
* So the question is, why did we give up the big plays when we had been so good at avoiding those all season? Was it really the poor B1G QBs? Or was it the loss of JT Floyd?
* Gordon led us in tackles with 6. Ryan was next with 4. The defense was not on the field very much and the stats reflect that.
* We did manage 7 TFLs on USC's 53 plays. I'll take more of that next season.
* Demens only had 1 tackle. Campbell had 0 (did he play?) and Floyd didn't play. That's three of our five defensive leaders contributing one tackle total.
* Denard carried 23 times for 100 yards. He threw once incomplete. It was nice of USC to respect his passing ability (except for the 2nd failed 2pt conversion attempt.) Did they even bother to scout us? He also caught one pass for 7 yards.
* I don't really read Bill Simmons or Grantland anymore. But one of his "things" is the Ewing Theory. In brief, it states that teams can surprise you by winning AFTER the major star leaves the team. Think of Tennessee winning the National Championship with Tee Martin after Manning graduated. Secretly, in a tiny portion of my brain, way back where my repressed memories lie, I'm hoping that Denard is the next Ewing Theory example and Gardner leads us to the promised land next season.
* Let's hope Gardner develops some chemistry with another receiver besides Gallon. Might I suggest Funchess? Half of Gardner's 18 completions went to Gallon.
Bunches of Funchess
* Gallon had 9 receptions for 145 yards and 2 TDs. He would have been the player of the game had Michigan made a stop on USC's final drive.
And Justice for Rawls
* I noticed one of SC's O-linemen had a tattoo that read, "Justice IV All." Justice Hayes ran twice for 3 yards. Rawls didn't carry the ball.
Norf and Souf
* Norfleet returned one kick for 32 yards and made a tackle. I like his enthusiasm, but I'm worried one of these days he's going to get hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. One of the bigger questions of this off-season is going to be what they do with him, position-wise. Vincent Smith needs to be replaced.
* OK, I do have a section devoted to the referees, so I guess I have to comment on our 9.99 yard first down. There are only three possible explanations. One, the chain is 10 yards, so the ball only needs to get to the end of the chain, not the linky thing on the yard-marker. Two, the official thought the yard marker was leaning out of the way and if it had been upright, it would have touched the ball. (I'm really straining as a Michigan homer to justify that call.) Three, it was a glitch in the Matrix. Did you all check the back of your necks for the data ports like I did after that play? Slight tangent, if the Matrix had been made today, I think they would be able to replace all those huge connectors with one fiber optic cable up your nose, or possibly a wireless link. Man, how technology has evolved over the years.
* I really couldn't understand the refs, and then it hit me, half of the group had bet on Michigan to cover the spread, and half had bet on USC to win outright, so they compromised and worked it out so that SC could win by 5. What else could explain the head referee COVERING HIS MOUTH while he discussed a play with the other refs. I felt like I was watching the WWE. What are you hiding?
* We had 24 first downs to their 17, and 38 minutes TOP to their 22. This was like the Indiana game a few years ago, except we were Indiana. We were grinding it out, 10 yards at a time. The problem with that is you need to be perfect. Any little holding penalty or hands-to-the-face penalty stops your drive.
* Time of possession was 10+ minutes for Michigan in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarters, but only 6:31 in the 4th quarter. Instead of tiring out their defense, I guess our offense got tired.
* Net yards rushing, M: 141, SC: 85. That usually correlates with a victory, but being -1 in TO margin and giving up the punt return TD negates that advantage.
* Clowney had 4 tackles, two TFLs, and the hit that SportsCenter is showing on a continuous loop. It must suck being an O-linemen. You stop a guy for 81 plays, have a miscommunication on the 82nd, and the D-linemen ends up on all the highlight shows and gets picked first overall in the draft next year. I'm sure Lewan and Clowney will meet again at the next level. Those are two outstanding football players. I wanted Muppets, but all I got was Bozo the Clowney.
Thanks to everybody who clicked on my Diary this season, even if it was just to get a handy link to the boxscore. Happy New Year, MGoFriends.