"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Learn from yesterday...
After a beat-down like what we witnessed yesterday there is much to say, but perhaps not so many new things to learn. It was a statement game, a confirmation by Brady Hoke, Al Borges, and Greg Mattison that leaves no questions as to their intent nor their identity. No one questioned the talent differential between Michigan and Minnesota as the 20 point line neatly points out. But the difference between being a 20 point home favorite and the utter deconstruction that was yesterday's contest is vast and there is nothing that I saw that would make the final 58-0 score in any way a fluke. Brady and Co. have this team pointed in a direction more right than we fans could have dared hope. The old ways and the new are coming together in what looks to be a very promising new era for Michigan Football.
Live for Today…
Several Michigan players should bask in the glow of their accomplishments:
1. Fitzgerald Touissaint – I don't recall seeing running like that since the A-Train rolled out of town. Great cuts, jab steps, and acceleration showed on the stat sheet with over 100 yards on only 11 carries. The future for Fitz is bright indeed.
2. Vincent Smith – Scoring a TD rushing, receiving, and passing the ball is remarkable. Coupled with Touissaint, Smith gives Michigan a potent 1-2 punch out of the backfield that was desperately needed.
3. Denard Robinson – His feet are a given, but it was nice to see him connecting on the short hitches and seams taylor-made to bring back his confidence. Borges is molding the offense around him and playing more and more to his strengths. 8.9 YPA is quality.
4. Blake Countess – Countess looks like the best Michigan defensive back on the field. He was blanketing receivers all day, breaking up passes, stripping the ball, making sure tackles. Hard to believe he is a true frosh.
5. Michigan's Defense – Pitching a shutout against any opponent is impressive, as is forcing another 2 fumbles. Minnesota barely sniffed Michigan's side of the field, and when they did threaten Michigan came up with the timely turnovers. This unit is gaining swagger and could be pretty good by November.
Also of note: Jeremy Gallon, Mike Shaw, RVB, Junior Hemingway, Kevin Koger, BWC (showing that fire in the belly), Thomas Rawls (nice debut, young man), Devin Gardner (haz moves too), Gibbons (3/3 is 3/3, no matter how long) and basically everyone on the team. Great job guys.
Hope for Tomorrow
My trust and confidence in this coaching staff was already pretty solid going into this game. I actually DVR'd it, a Michigan Big 10 opener, which is not something I would have felt comfortable with at any point in the past that I can remember. Yes, the opponent was obviously overmatched but it was still a Big 10 game, against Big 10 athletes that had a lot to prove to the world. I am a big believer in luck and karma, and a firm believer that watching a game live contributes to both, so this wasn't a decision I made lightly. In the end my trust in Brady and Co., coupled with the lure of great deals on Amish made furniture* at a local auction, made it OK. I still squirmed with discomfort when I ignored my phone going off several times during and after the game. Family and friends were trying to reach me to discuss the game and my first instinct was apprehension bordering on conviction that it was all going horribly wrong.
After watching the game later I can honestly say that such feelings will not again occur while this coaching triumvirate remains intact. I checked the score when I got home, not wanting to make my family deal with my uncertainty, and was of course more than relieved at seeing 58-0. I then watched what I assumed would be a series of ridiculously fortunate events leading to such a ridiculous score. There was none of that though, only near-perfect execution by a team that looked so well coached that my pride as a fan went through the roof. That was a domination that harkened back to watching Bo's teams crush the "little-8" back in the day. This is no coincidence either. The parallels between then and now is a head coach with strength of will and vision for what Michigan Football should be, coupled with the quality of coordinators needed to make that vision a reality.
It is not hard to see the qualities of Bo in Brady Hoke. At first I cringed at his seeming overconfidence, at his seeming overuse of Bo-isms, and wondered if he was trying too hard to win Michigan fans' hearts with his bravado. I don't doubt the man any longer. Brady Hoke has a Bo-like level of expectations for those he leads. He has expectations of effort, execution, and yes "toughness" that no coach since Bo has required from both his players and his staff. Hoke isn't making Michigan great again by being an innovator on either side of the ball; he is acquiring the best available parts, constructing a beast-machine, and driving the thing to eventual domination.
Greg Mattison is Greg Mattison. He is everything he was advertised to be and is turning this defense into a capable unit quicker than anyone could have hoped or expected. His experience since his last stint at Michigan, especially in the NFL, have given Michigan an advantage over the competition. Give the man a few years and he will have Michigan's defense back amongst the best in the country. Mattison will prove to be to Hoke what Gary Moeller was to Bo, only better.
The man that has the potential to put Michigan in National Championship contention as soon as next season is Al Borges however. All reports on the man were positive when he came in with Hoke, but all reports also sold Borges far short of reality. If we can take anything from the first 5 games of 2011, it is that Al Borges is in no way married to any system. Instead Borges is both humble and extremely intelligent. He has taken this offensive personnel, with all of their considerable talents, and used the soft part of the schedule to tinker and learn. He looked at what worked last year and used it to beat a good Notre Dame team. He used his knowledge of SDSU and Rocky Long to make that contest look easy. He played with the parts he has and got to know their strengths and weaknesses and displayed much of what he has learned against Minnisota. My first reaction to seeing such elaborate trickeration was he should be "keeping it in the bag" to be used when needed. As the game evolved, and the offense rolled out new wrinkles seemingly every drive (for the first half at least), my thoughts changed to how on Earth was the next opponent supposed to game-plan for this? Al Borges may make this offense look like a modern version of the Mad Magicians by year's end, and it will be in a genuinely humble effort to do what it takes to win each game.
I realize this is a lot to take from a single game against an overmatched opponent, and that these words could look ridiculous in a month's time. I don't care. I'm calling it now: Michigan is back and better than ever. They may not (probably don't) have the pieces to run the table this season, but if this staff stays together it won't be long before Michigan rises to the top.
*Seriously the only uniquely nice part about having to live in south-central PA.
Go Blue and stay safe.
Michigan has played exactly one good team, and the victory was one of the most improbable in the last one hundred years.
Minnesota is terrible. TERRIBLE. Their first year head coach has been crippled by seizures for nearly a month and they make Michigan's "Bare Cupboard" from 2008 look like a cornucopia. They were possibly worse than Bowling Green was last year in terms of talent and definitely in terms of the team's stability and experience.
We won't know if this team is any good until they play Michigan State. So enjoy the ride, but wait and see.
While I understand what you are saying, I do think you should concede that this team is at least "any good". I don't expect great things from this year's team necessarily (though it wouldn't suprise me if they make the Big 10 Championship Game). I do see great things for the future from this coaching staff.
I should have said "how good they are" instead of "any good". They are, IMO, as good as last year's team at least, and that's saying a lot given a whole new coaching staff. My tone was off.
Michigan has played exactly one good team, and the victory was one of the most improbable in the last one hundred years.
How many "good" teams are out there, by your definition? Western Michigan just beat UConn on the road and nearly beat Illinois on the road last week. They may well win the MAC championship. SDSU is 3-1, with the one loss to Michigan. They're a solid contender for the Mountain West title. For those to be our #2 and #3 opponents to date is not bad. Not many schools have played many tough opponents to this point in the season. Altogether, our opponents are 13-6 in games not involving Michigan. Toss out the Gophers and it's 12-3.
Northwestern may not be better than WMU/SDSU. Neither, for that matter, may Illinois, given how they struggled with WMU. Purdue is probably worse. OSU faces a major problem at the QB position, while Nebraska, MSU, and Iowa have all displayed some serious weaknesses. There aren't that many great teams out there.
SDSU is basically at MAC level talent. I never understood why anyone thought that game was going to be close. Western is a great team, but it's a MAC team, with MAC talent. The defeat of Uconn is identified as a shocking loss for that team, and it should be.
The real tests of Michigan's capabilities will come when it starts to face teams with comparable talent, and that means Michigan State.
Just wanted to compliment your most excellent use of the word 'cornucopia.'
As to the post, well, you may have overstated the obvious, but why be a party pooper when the fun's just getting started?
Okay okay okay! Sorry guys. I like to party too
I'm also sold on Hoke and his staff, especially when you also throw in their recruiting. For this season, I'm cautiously optimistic. The next two weeks on the road will tell us a lot. If they come back home with two wins, I'll be hooked up to an IV of Kool-Aid.
If they come back home with two road wins, I'm busting through the side of my house Kool-Aid Man style.
on the assessment of the trick plays Borges callled. The first trick play (the Smith touchdown pass?) I was thinking to myself how weird it was to be calling something like that, already up pretty good against a team that very obviously was horrible. Then we he kept throwing in new thing after new thing, I gradually changed my thoughts from "What is he thinking?" to, "I would really hate to be trying to gameplan against this, if I was Northwestern". There's a million things to defend already and I would bet Borges has quite a bit more in the bag, things that look similar, but play out differently. In a perfect world, my guess would be that he's hoping to be good enough to beat Northwestern without anything too too elaborate and all that work is going towards Michigan State, giving them a lot to look at. They practice against those plays for two weeks, think they know what is going to happen and then all of a sudden, Borges throws them something else. That might be very fun.
And to think I was laughed at by at least one poster last week when I suggested DG & DR in the backfield together-brilliant!
We have made strides on the defensive side of the ball in a half-season that we weren't able to make in 3 years under RR. If we want to win games, they are going to have to continue forcing turnovers and not letting up crippling long TDs.
Why you say? Because our offense will struggle. We have come a long way from the beginning of the season, but we have not faced anything close to an elite defense to this point (for reference ND is 31st in total ypg). We will see how effective this offense is when we roll into EL where we will face the current #1 defense in terms of ypg.
That said, if the stars align, I think it is possible to run the table until the Big10 championship. However I do think we will need a bit of luck; e.g. Cousins throwing to Taco Pants.
I never understood why Carr and Rodriguez never put Taco Pants on Defense, you just can't teach height like that
While Minnesota may be a pretty crappy team (OK...ARE a crappy team), so not a great measuring stick, what comes through is that this team continues to improve and the coaches are using the players and their systems to maximum advantage.
Hats off to Borges. He dug deep into the playbook to give future opponents new things to worry about as the B1G season opens. He also kept the players on their toes and mentally engaged by doing this. It would be easy for the team to think they just had to show up and Minnesota would roll over. Keeping a team motivated against weaker competition is not easy as has been demonstrated many times in Michigan's past.
For the first time in years, you see growth in the defense and the players from game to game. No doubt, this defensive coaching staff is a major upgrade from the previous regime.
Yesterday's game was like a vintage Minnesota beat down from my days as a student when Bo raged on the sidelines. It had a familiar feel to it. The goal was to keep the goose egg up on the Minnesota side of the scoreboard. They did it. They didn't play sloppy and turn the ball over. Only 3 penalties. These guys look like they believe they should be at the top of the B1G and are working hard every day to get there.
Northwestern will be a good challenge for them this week. Glad I have tickets. The last Michigan - NU night game I attended was very entertaining and this one should be, too. The weather man can hold the rain though, please.
FYI, the phrase is “tailor made,” implying that it’s been designed to fit, like tailored clothes. Not Taylor Made.
Good catch. Golf on the brain I guess. ;~)
the 2 QB set was the perfect example. The first time, they ran the obvious lay (Denard run out of that on an option). Second time, they run with Denard again but do the throw back pass. Third time they run a perfect naked bootleg out of it. So now if you're a D-coord from another team, you can't jsut look for the formation and then try to follow Denard. That will get you killed if you lose contain on Devin.
Thing is, this wasn't even a "trick play"... it was basically a triple option Navy/Air Force style set where the wing back was also a throwing threat. If Borges adds some other wrinkles like a TE seam route off play action, or put Denard in motion with Devin running an option, that's a set that will make "play cover-2 and hope they run right at you" DC's like at Iowa crap their pants.
UFR and TWIS will be great this week. The Ohio loss has already quenched my desire for Buckeye tears (this week anyway - I'll be thirsty again by Monday).
I thought the same thing about showing the two QBs. He's making MSU waste their time game planning for this - and they still won't be able to stop it. Too many possibilities with that set.
sounded like Bo speaking. The voice aside, the comment, the tone and even the inflection could have been Bo. It jumped out and caught my attention enough that I listened to the response a second time.
I don't know that it's going to take him a few years to turn this defense into the defense that strikes fear and trembling into every OC's heart. Mabye one or two. I have been happily astounded by the progress I've seen already--fundamentals are back!
This is me being all Hokeful.
Minny is a horrible team. Beating them 58-0 tells us nothing about Michigan's ceiling. But it does tell us something about Michigan's floor.
This is the kind of team where Bo and Lloyd would take care of business. No letting them hang around.
Michigan is at least back to the level of beating the teams we should. I think we have seen the last Toledo game, or the games of us making Indiana look like this year's surprise team. That is the next step in our progression back to the elite.
As I told Brian, my man crush vote has been cast. To a kid named Blake, no less.
This was the first time since Lloyd's last game against Florida that I really had no complaints (ok - our kick coverage was still poor). Yes - Minny will likely be the worst team we play. However - we are getting better each week, and that is what matters most. Hoke has pushed all the right buttons so far. Mattison is making play-makers on D. Borges is a great play caller to date. The future looks bright - I have not said that for a long time.
Is what I am seeing. We have better players who aren't missing assignments and they are getting to WR's and ball carriers a lot quicker. Thus more hands and hits on the ball. More turnovers and a lot less big plays. This defense is leaps and bounds better than the last two or three years. Tough part of schedule coming up but if we get past NW and MSU then consider this defense very good. Should finish in top 25 in overall in NCAA.
Good work Perm.
Good work Perm.