I realize I left out the defensive stats, not because they weren't good or important, I just got frustrated trying to get so many photos in this diary, and I can't figure out the carriage return feature on this editor. It's amazing I was able to get the game stream. For large portions of the game, I was watching it with the "Press ESC to exit full screen mode" message on the screen. We had 8 TFLs, EIGHT!!!! and FOUR SACKS!!! and as I mentioned, UCONN was only 1 for 11 on third down. All HAIL the defense...
Inside the Boxscore - Team 134, Game 4
In the week leading up to this game, the recognition that I might have to scramble to watch the game started sinking in, for I live in the blue portion of the dreaded ABC Game Map. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I bought ESPN GamePlan and didn't have to worry about missing any Michigan games. Then, ABC and ESPN invented the reverse mirror concept, and I didn't even have to buy GamePlan. And more recently, the Big Ten Network has almost assured me of seeing every UofM game in Los Angeles, which is amazing considering UCLA and USC are rarely on the air out here. An hour before the game, I consulted MGoBlog and looked into this, "streaming" idea. We get Verizon, so I was able to log into ESPN3. Let's just say I prefer ESPN 8, the OCHO. I tried that for 10 minutes, and after a frustrating hodge-podge of HD, LD, and ND (no definition, i.e., the screen would freeze up) I went to ESPN Gameplan and tried to order the single day coverage for $26. Perhaps a million frustrated M fans joined me in clogging up the GamePlan system, because it wouldn't let me purchase the game, so I went back to ESPN3. There has to be a better way. After sitting through a near repeat of the Akron game, I'm glad I didn't spend $26 on that.
NOT HD. <cr>We looked good in game 1, but CMU was missing their QB and top RB. We looked good against ND, but it's looking more and more like that was just an upset, or maybe ND's not that good either. Game 3 and Game 4 were struggles. A third of the way through the season, I think it's fair to start drawing some conclusions. This is a young team that is making the kind of mistakes that young players make. The frustrating (there's that word again) thing for me is that the schedule sets up perfectly for this team to win a lot of games. We play 4 ranked teams, only one of them on the road. And that road game is a veritable home game in the friendly confines of Chicago. But it's clear so far that we're still at least a year away. I could be wrong, the line could gel during the bye week, the turnover problem could magically go away, the wide receivers could learn how to run deep routes, the special teams could learn how to get out of the way of a punt. There's just so much improvement that needs to be made to be competitive with the upper ranks of the Big Ten. But at least we're 4-0, right? Wait, we are 4-0. Someone please tell me we're 4-0. So why does MGoBlue.com have us at 3-1 in the boxscore. I know it sure feels that way. Here's a screen capture of the boxscore before they fix the error:
It is an error, right? Oh Lord did that game give me a hangover, and I didn't even drink anything...
Burst of Impetus
* Time for a bonus link
The story starts with a graph showing a scatter plot of winning percentage versus turnover margin. The line fit roughly goes through 100% and +2, and -100% and -2. In the fourth quarter, Michigan was staring at a -4 turnover margin. Desmond Morgan made a great play, I guess, my internet connection was bouncing back and forth between LD and ND when the play was made. He picked off the pass and returned the ball 29 yards. Michigan converted and grabbed the momentum. If I remember correctly, he played some QB in high school. He showed why on that INT return. Morgan is becoming the leader of that defense.
Captain Morgan's Crew
* First off, an explanation. I know Morgan's not a team captain, yet, but I suspect he will be. I also have been watching Bar Rescue marathons on the Spike network, and so I've seen many, many Captain Morgan's commercials.
* I had titled this section, "Young 98," as an allusion to Vince Young, but after another shaky performance, we're down to just "young 98." It's worth remembering that even though he is a senior, he still has not started a season's worth of games at QB.
* Gardner was 11-23 passing for 97 yards. He tossed two INTs and no TDs.
* Gardner gained 106 yards, YAY, but lost 42, for a net of 64. His first step under pressure is almost always away from the line of scrimmage. That is something we've seen since his early days. He needs a QB coach to break that habit and get him to step up into the pocket, if his O-Line can actually form one for him. (Why am I so grumpy? Oh, yeah, 24-21 vs. UCONN.)
* A week after I suggested they ditch the option play and simplify the system for Gardner, he executed a beautiful option pitch, leading to one of Toussaint's TDs. Yes, the universe has conspired to humble me yet again.
20 Pound Cheeseburgers
* Toussaint was THE running attack from the RB position, with 120 yards on 24 carries. He scored 2 TDs and had a long of 35 yards.
* TEAM's three carries matched the rest of the non-Toussaint/Gardner combined carries.
V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* Nothing to see here, move along.
Norf and Dileo
* Dileo has taken over the punt return duties from Norfleet. America has a sad.
* I was hoping that was because they were going to involve Norfleet more in the offense. He did carry twice for 14 yards.
* I don't know if this team is lacking players, or lacking ways to get their playmakers involved. In the case of Norfleet and Dileo, I fear their talents are being wasted. That said, it's time for my new feature...
ST3's contrarian position of the week
* I think Borges actually called a good game. (/ducks) I think he's 3 for 4 so far this year, with the Akron game being the lone stinker. The problem with the Akron game is that it appeared he couldn't care less what kind of defense they were running. Let's go inside the boxscore on this game and look at the critical third down conversion stat. Michigan was 7 of 17, meanwhile, UCONN was 1 of 11. Let's look at some of the early third downs. On the second drive, we had 3rd and 1, and 3rd and 2. Gardner rushed for the first down on both plays. Later in the drive, on third and 12, Gardner ran again and ended up scoring our first TD. So my point is, Gardner rushing is one of our better (only? well, at least until Touss got untracked) options, and Borges dialed those up on the critical third down. Later in the game, he may have gone to the well once too many times, when we got stopped on 4th and 2, but if Devin had been more aggressive on that run, he would have made it. Then, after the Dileo punt return, with UCONN selling out against the Devin runs, Borges called a very safe pass play to Gallon on 3rd and 4. He had two WRs clear out the area for Gallon, who stopped just past the sticks. We eventually got down to the four, setting up Gibbons for a chip shot FG. Let's not forget that Gardner was 0 for 5 with an INT in the 2nd quarter. Had Borges continued to press the issue, Gardner might not have been able to recover to lead us in the 2nd half. Instead, Borges figured out what run plays were working, got Gardner back into somewhat of a comfort zone, and managed to get us a W in a game where we were -3 in TO margin.
* Is it too harsh of me to suggest that the ST coach might want to get his resume polished up?
* Fortunately for us, it was 4th and 7 when we ran into the kicker, not 4th and 5. The angle that Gedeon took was awful. It took him directly into the path of the punter. Who is teaching that? These ST players are mostly frosh and RS frosh, and probably as BMOC in high school, didn't play a lot of special teams.
* On our punt return fumble, someone has to be screaming, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!" Instead, Jones is trying to block someone and the ball bounces off his leg.
* Dileo's great punt return was brought back because another young kid made a mistake 25 yards from the play.
I'm an international umpire
* Penalties were 5-45 against us, and 6 for 70 against them.
* In addition to all the mistakes made by the younger players, Lewan had a holding penalty wipe out at 35+ yard run.
* For the second week in a row, I have no complaints with the refs. I must be getting soft in my old age.
UCONN'T be serious
* I don't like UConn's stadium. First of all, their turf looks like this:
Secondly, their mid-field logo stretches from one 30 to the other. That's disconcerting for me. I'm used to seeing a team reach the mid-field logo and thinking they've reached mid-field. You know, the 45 yard line. At UCONN, you've still got a long way to go even to get to the 50.
* The attendance 42,704. I'm pretty sure most Texas High School teams draw more than that.
* Yawin Smallwood led UCONN with 13 tackles. Hey Yawin, Ya-lose. But seriously, he played a heck of a game with 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a sack.
* Their nose guard made 6 tackles and had 2 TFLs. Nose guards aren't supposed to make 6 tackles. I'm putting together a mock NFL Draft for next April, and so far, my first round has the 12 nose guards on our schedule.
* Last week I said I was delaying the 100%BLU anecdote until I was in a better mood. I'm beginning to realize, that time may never come, so on with the story. As I was perusing my "Early Fall 2013" copy of Michigan Alumnus magazine (a benefit of my Lifetime Membership to the Alumni Association, a gift from Mom and Dad upon graduating - a car would have been nice, but I'm not complaining) I read that UofM's School of Social Work is ranked #1 nationally. I mentioned earlier this season that Dad graduated with his MSW from UofM and Devin Gardner is currently in the School. The inquisitive reader might ask, what does one do with a degree from the nation's top School of Social Work? Let me share two University of Michigan-related items from Dad's career. 24 years ago (normal disclaimer about the accuracy of my memory applies) the Chinese Government reached out to the State of Michigan for help with their treatment of the mentally ill. The State of Michigan had some brutal budget cuts in the early 80's, forcing the closure of many State-run hospitals. They were somewhat successful in transferring institutionalized patients into less costly, community-based group homes. So the Chinese wanted to learn more about this cost-effective, more humane approach. Dad was working for the State Department of Mental Health at the time. He was tasked with organizing the trip. He reached out to a Professor of Chinese Studies at UofM, and together they planned the trip. They were in China for three weeks, visiting different areas. The professor recommended they visit Tainanmen Square, a very famous location. While they were there, students were protesting the Chinese government. One student got to talking with Dad. The student took off his bandana, gave it to Dad, and asked him to tell their story in America. One week later, the tanks rolled in. So that's my "Dad as Forest Gump" story.
Second story, if you'll indulge me, a few years later, Dad is putting together an educational video about the benefits of community living and group homes for the mentally ill. There are many levels or gradations among the mentally challenged. Some can function quite fine in society as long as they are given the right medication, or looked in on periodically. One such group home was a couple blocks from the Bo building on South Campus. Dad arranged for Chris Burke, the famous actor from the 80's drama, Life Goes On, to appear in the video. Knowing that I was a fan of the show, and was still on campus at that time, Dad called and invited me over to the location where they were filming. I got to meet Chris and his parents, and Dad took this photo (that's me on the right, in the - HORROR - red shirt and gigantic glasses, Brady would be sooo dissappointed in me.)
Well, UConn I think had 10 TFLs...
I think it's time to just accept the fact that we have a mediocre defense and a bad offense and we won't improve for a long time. I would be surprised if we even got 1 sack against Minnesota's offensive line who was making the SJSU defensive line look like a HS team this past Saturday.
If we had both a mediocre defense and a bad offense, we wouldn't be 4-0. Our D held Central and UConn to about 200 yards apiece, and our O, as sloppy as it's been the last two weeks, is still averaging 38 ppg. The 41 we scored on ND is looking better and better as time passes. We have played two bad games offensively, and one bad game defensively (really, it was more one bad half), but that doesn't mean we can't ever play well.
renaming this piece, "Outside the Boxscore"?
There are 3 things to know about this team:
They're tied with Kansas State at 112th in turnover margin.
They're 118th in tackles for loss allowed. (That's bad.)
I've gotten a comment like that before. It's a difficult balancing act for me, trying to provide some insight based on numbers in a boxscore, while trying to give you some reason to read beyond the boxscore link. Obviously, this week was weighted more towards the personal side than the game. Last year I had an Outside the Boxscore section at the end of the diary, for folks who don't care about my experiences. The 100%BLU section is taking on that role this year. I suppose I could have split the stories into two diaries and spent more time on the game, but I think the two work better together.
I keep hearing how this is a young team, and we need to give Funk, etc., a couple more years. Our depth may be young, but let's look at the starters.
Tackles (Lewan and Schofeld) are seniors. LG is a redshirt sophomore; C is true sophomore; RG is redshirt freshman.
Tailback is a senior.
(WIth this line and tailback, under Borges and Funk, we are 118th in the country in tackles for loss on offense.)
Our QB is redshirt junior (I assume that the medical redshirt is official). Our top two receivers (Gallon, Dileo) are seniors. Jackson is a senior.
I don't think anyone here is panicking about the D because we have excellent coaches on that side of the ball and haven't had dismal numbers or performance, like we have on the O. But even there, the two Gordons, Black, and Washington are seniors.
In short, this is not the young team that people seem to think it is.
We're pretty young on the OL. Indiana is the only other Big Ten team with three starters on the OL who are RS-sophomores or younger. It should be noted, however, that they gave up zero sacks and zero QB hurries to an SEC team yesterday.
Which leads me to my larger point: there is no excuse for how abyssmal our OL right now. Not youth. Not motivation. Not nothing.
There are over a dozen lineman on the Michigan roster. Put three in there who won't get mauled by Akron. I'm sure they're there.
All of our tight ends are young as well--first or second-year players. And they, like the interior OL, are struggling with their blocking.
In short, this is not the young team that people seem to think it is.
When 61 of the 85 scholarship players on the team are either freshmen or sophomores in eligibility, you have a young team. Yes, we have some upperclass leaders - every team does - but having only 24 total players who are juniors or seniors is not normal.
Beyond being young, the more important stat is how few starts the interior guys have gotten. Miller and Glasgow had some garbage time (I assume) last year, and Kalis didn't play a down. Fitz is also coming back from season ending injury and a 1/2 season of second guessing bad line play (which is happening again). You also have to include the TEs when you talk about run blocking. We have a true frosh and two true sophomores there too, one of which (Funchess) doesn't look like he was ever asked to block in HS. The running game is also a weakest link scenario so good play by the tackles and fullback get washed out if other guys are letting people into the backfield and blowing up plays.
Just attending practice only gets you so far. Then experience is everything. Playing against your own team in practice can never be as intense as a real game, especially for something as physically exhausting as football. Then there is the quantity of inexperienced players that can start to have an exponential effect. A team can have a successful play if one person makes a mistake. But two or three mistakes? And then that blown play limits the options for the next play in the series. This is why the coaching types more frequently defend the coaches against the execution. In video games it sounds like players just have physical talents that vary but 100% execution is assumed, thus failure is only caused by "the scheme".
So count up all the games started by the listed startersand backups, compare that to other teams, and then tell me Michigan is not "young".
I have heard the "we are a young team" for the last couple years but it feels we are not growing. I dunno what the answers are right now but thank god our defense is here to bail us out
There are at least three factors I see holding Michigan back. Youth is only part of the problem.
- Michigan is young on the inside of the offensive line. I think that we need to get back to having 3 offensive linemen recruited yearly. The line recruiting by Rodriguez really hurt Michigan. Regarding youth, there may occasionally be four year starters at any position, including offensive line. But this should be the exception.
- Experience. It isn't just youth, it is how many games our starters have under their belt. Gardner is good, but it takes time, especially for quarterbacks.
- Skill level. I hate to say it, but we just haven't had the skill level across the board in recruiting. I think comparing Ohio to Michigan on the defensive line illustrates the skill disparity. Guys like Peppers, Hand, Harris, and Harris are bringing the skill level up, but we're just not there yet.
When the bulk of our starters are upper classmen, when there is plenty of experience at every position, and when the overall skill level comes up a bit more, we'll see Michigan in a much different position. This will happen more starting next year. After that, we should be more in a position of reloading every year.
Funny thing about our OL is that they gave up three quarterback hurries and eight TFL to Akron. Akron had zero quarterback hurries against James Madison and Louisiana-Lafayette combined. I think it's safe to say that there are five out of the 19 offensive linemen on our team who could replicate the effort of James Madison and Louisiana-Lafayette. I think it's safe to say that a grab bag of any five Rivals 250 OL true freshmen could replicate the effort of those schools. Probably even a grab bag of the 2014 Rivals 250 OL could.
That's a per game average over an entire season. Don't really think it's that applicable to a single game. If you finish with a -24 TO margin, what would you expect to happen? That graph has a team with a -6 TO margin finishing with 10 wins.
http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?S=204&F=4511&T=11845393&P=1 This one is on a per game basis, which is what I was looking for, but it's for the NFL. It shows that going from -4 to -3 doubles your chances of winning from 3 to 6% on the road, or 6 to 12% at home. Either way, you usually don't win when you give up the ball that much more than your opponents.
Im glad you at least acknowledge running Gardner on that 4th down may have been the right choice considering he should have converted it. I'm tired of hearing "everyone knew Gardner was going to run it". That's because it was the right call. I guess you could have called for the pass in that situation but they saved that for later in the game when it mattered more. I agree Borges in 3/4. Although he may be making the wrong calls Sunday-Friday instead.
I was having problems with the ESPN3 feed as well. It seemed to lock up at the most inopportune times. I saw the UConn "TD" but not the ruling that reversed the call (I think UConn got hosed on that one). When I finally got the link up and running again, I saw the TD that counted. It took me a few minutes to realize what had happened. I thought they had counted the first TD and there was a turnover on the ensuing kickoff and UConn had scored again.
That's code for "our interior OL is young". With the exception of Kalis, they weren't highly rated prospects either.
If you want to know why the OL is struggling, look back three years at recruiting. If you want to get depressed, look at our recruiting classes from 2010-2012 and look for the interior linemen. It's pretty much Kalis and gloom/doom.
That suggests that we will likely continue in this state into next year unless Bryant gets healthy, Glasgow demonstrates that he's better than recruiting rankings would suggest, Kugler takes an unlikely step forward, etc. The optimistic side is that could actually happen - Glasgow has graded out well in the UFR and coaches grades, and Kugler has had access to exceptional family knowledge about how to play OL. The pessimistic side is that it usually doesn't - choose your view.
The good news is that if you look at our 2013 recruiting class, we pulled in a massive amount of OL talent. We can reasonably expect that class to start gaining experience in 2014 and giving us consistency in 2015 - perhaps even stardom for some.
I actually do agree with the assertion that it is a "young team" in terms of experience. Yes, Lewan and Schoeffield are seniors, but the rest of that line has extremely limited experience playing on the field regardless of their age. And while Fitz is a senior and Gardner a junior, he's started a total of 9 games in the four years he's been on campus and had to undergo the transition as much as Denard. It is also only 4 games into the season, and it is not unreasonable to expect some maturation and improved play along the line as they become more comfortable. I still think Miller and Glasgow are undersized and ill-equipped for the offense Borges wants to run, but that can be gameplanned around a bit.
I would like to add that the holding call on Lewan was of the most phantom variety, at least on the replay I saw.
I bought the entire ESPN Gameplan season (really just for this game), but I couldn't watch the game in real-time so I had to DVR'd it. Then when I sat down to play it, a message window comes on the screen and says "Buy now for $26?" No matter what I pushed, that message window wouldn't go away. So I had to watch the whole game with a big black message window eating up the lower half of the screen.
I try to stay somewhat positive so I'll say this. I thought Borges adjusted to the reality of Devin's struggles and called a fine game. Question his QB development skills if you want (and that might be fair), but I honestly like him as a game caller for the most part. I feel as if we always have someone open on 3rd and medium if our QBs are accurate.
Where the youth also really shows up is on special teams. I don't remember now whether it was the kick or the punt coverage that Hoke said has six freshman on it. SIX FRESHMEN. That's why we're seeing dumb penalties away from the ball, and balls bouncing off players' feet, and to a lesser extent it's probably part of the reason the return teams have not looked sharp in general. It's not just the offensive line where the youth is evident.
Though while we're on the topic, we should recognize Chesson's excellent play on the punt coverage team this week. Hopefully he can keep that up!
Gardner was credited with one (1) tackle. I believe he touched the DB down after his first INT. (I realize there is no need to touch a player down in college, but that's what it looked like to me).
I've been living in LA for 5 years now and the best investment I made when moving out here was buying a slingbox and placing it at my parents house in Royal Oak. Since my dad is always watching UM/State/Red Wings/Tigers/etc.. games anyways, I get them all for free now. The stream quality is so nice that about half the time I forget its streaming and try to change the channel with my cable remote.
I am working on three group homes for adults with Downs Syndrome, and my daughter is planning to operate group homes for persons with dementia. They seem like a great solution but no one wants them "in their back yard".