"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
It has already been three weeks of college football season and I have the self mutilation scars tallying every time I thought a game was lost or became frustrated with the Pitbull Dr. Pepper commercials. After spending an afternoon staring at my scars, I realized this habit must stop or else I will be sucking up all the good blood at the hospital for selfish reasons. This past weekend was supposed to be a “healing weekend.” It turned out to be just as frustrating as the past two.
The Eastern Michigan University football team has been compared to a punching bag or even an ugly mannequin used for those loners down in their basements to beat up on after losing their six hour quest of Dungeons and Dragons to install confidence for the next life wasting night full of pizza, funny dice, and no estrogen save in their man breasts from too much pizza and coddling at a young age. I debated whether to even watch this game or to take natural medicine and travel fast as I could to the Medieval Festival in Holly to take in the wonderful colors, music, belly dancing, and a turkey leg the size of Mattison’s head. I decided that in order to keep a weekly diary going it would be in my best interest to stay and watch. I expected an avalanche of offense and a punishment of defense from the get go by our beloved Michigan Wolverines. I soon found myself trying to remember how to tie a slipknot and finding a tall enough place by halftime.
The offense started out anemic and the defense played as if they were on the winning side of the game Tag and trying not to get tagged back. For a while I thought this was some cruel hoax of a uniform swith in the locker rooms so that Mike Hart would be able to coach the Michigan Wolverines incognito. Eastern Michigan manhandled Michigan as their offense stampeded down the field on at least three straight occasions but only coming away with three points from the whole ordeal. Thank the all knowing Spaghetti Monster that this was an inept team that didn’t know how to handle momentum against quality opponents and made buffoons out of themselves on national television. If this were any BIG opponent, our ass would have been grass, and they would have turned it over to the authorities. The Michigan offense was just as putrid as Gorgeous Borges still looks for an offensive strategy besides Denard Left, Denard Right, Denard Center, and Denard Please Fucking Save Us. He still hasn’t found it. MANBAWW FOOTBAWW. Sure Vincent Smith got over 100 yards on various attempts, but again, this is Eastern Michigan School of the Fighting Stuffed Animals. Denards’s throwing seemed to regress as he sailed passes to Tacopants and to Lloyd Brady tailgating outside the stadium.
At halftime I decided it was a bit hyperbolic to hang myself this early in the season. I should save that for Michigan State or Nebraska. I don’t want to waste my finale on a team that my old University President from Pennsylvania who wore plaid sports jackets stepped in for in the past to serve as Emergency President at Eastern. No way. Plaid sports jackets will not be the end of me. I knew Michigan would pull this out from the beginning, but the way in which they started the game was discouraging. Mattison and Gorgeous Borges better take note that an imitation Division III team pushed them around for one whole quarter.
After halftime, Michigan had a fire lit under their ass and the lighter fluid to ignite it was the usual brand, Denard Robinson. The defense also stepped up their game to begin to look respectable, but the rushing attack by the fighting EMU’s still plagued them. Denard galloped his way on his feet, which I am convinced are small unicorns blessed by the Pope. (How else would he always make the Irish look like chumps?) As the scoreboard raced higher for Michigan after unanswered touchdowns quicker than Tyrone Biggums racing higher after stealing a car radio, I still felt a level of disappointment. If Michigan were an ice cream shop going head to head with Baskin-Robbins for the Internationally known Lactose Award for Variety, they would lose 37-1.
Last year Michigan leaned heavily on Denard until he docked in at the end of the season with more bumps, bruises, and injuries than Whitney Hill after a good night out with Bobby. Not only was Denard beat-up by the end of the season, everyone figured out the game plan of a hobbled legged QB trying desperately to save his team from losing and his coach from trying out for Glee. The end result was a predictive offense with a defense that would have won Last Comic Standing and an embarrassing end to the season by being drubbed by Mississippi State 52-14.
The FEAR is afoot again. Whether it is Gorgeous Borges’ fault that he hasn’t tried to implement more offensive strategies using Denard’s threat to open up other plays besides a quick slant and a zone read, or because we are not there offensively with the talent up front and around someone like Denard can be debated until the cows come back to tsio’s many sororities. The defense has improved slightly, but is nowhere near a level accustomed to Michigan’s past or a level that can sustain a season in the Big Ten 2.0. The FEAR is creeping up my leg and beginning to look like a rabid warthog with pieces of kitten flesh dripping from its tusks. The game against Eastern Michigan may have been rewarding in it brought us another win and national ranking, but it also served as a curse in possible false hopes and a déjà vu that is beginning to resemble a Greek tragedy rendition of Groundhog Day. Then again, I’ve been known to worry too much.
But it's not just you... it's the same with a ton of people who have been forced to be associated with Michigan football over the past three years. From where I stand in the stadium, I can hear about 5 or 6 screams of "F---!" every time an opposing running back gains 3 yards. It is the same even when an opposing QB completes a quick-slant in man coverage or a quick bubble screen in zone.
I hate to say this, but that's the game... No defense or offense, professional or amateur, can play 100% perfect and that is the reality of the matter. Not even LSU's vaunted defense can stop every single rush attempt by another team or any quick pass when it is checked into. It should be understood that we played almost 100% vanilla defense on EMU and ran mostly 4 or 5 man rushes (ask Misopogon) despite the fact that we knew they were going to almost exclusively run the ball.
Eastern Michigan is by no means an imitation division III team, keep in mind, and they might be fielding their best team in the past 20 years. Western Michigan has been drawn up to challenge Illinois and they may even pull off the upset. Notre Dame put down Michigan State so much so that they had to start showing mercy on them (3 consecutive QB draws from a 1st and 10 on the Michigan State 30 yard line simply to see if their kicker can hit a field goal). The final score of that game could have easily been 45-13.. even WITH 3 terrible turnovers by ND.
San Diego State is no pushover and is on the same level, talent wise, as a good MAC team such as Western or Toledo. They will be a close match to our team and have a good chance of pulling off the upset.
But, the keys to our slow starts can be corrected, and they should be this week, hopefully. Things such as: showing blitz early in the snap count, unintentionally forcing checks that ND and WMU killed us on, dropped balls by WRs/RBs that throw off Denard's rhythm, running low percentage offensive plays on the first possesion (Borges, I'm looking at you), refusing to run I-form power to free up the pass/Denard (they ran it a grand total of TWO times the whole EMU game... both were failures due to Tight Ends not executing properly), playing soft zones when our DBs are infinitely better at man coverage, etc. etc.
Let's try to be optimistic and support our team as they continue to improve! Remember, at this time last year, we gave up 35 points to an FCS team.
We have looked like a team in transition, who are learning, but not ready for prime time. If we win more games than last year, it'll be because we are lucky we are not playing Wisconsin (and maybe Penn State), the Buckeyes may hopefully be in disarray over their own foot shooting, and MSU has line issues. The coaches, and the players are all saying we are not playing good enough yet. Yes they are working hard, but the product on the field is not looking like it will make it all the way there this year.
Yes, the defense shows signs of middle of the pack life, but the offense shows real regression. Special teams - still unknown. We looked shaky, weak and inaccurate against Western and Eastern. If anything, the past two years have taught us to look more closely at these non-conference games.
So, I am with Hackney - worried that the wheels are about to come off.
By the way - I say this from the viewpoint that I think we have a great set of coordinators and staff, and a great set of kids, but we are fully hampered by a defense and special teams that are recovering from worst ever territory, and an offense in transition.
Oh come'om now, there's nothing wrong with a little...
"Lloyd Ball" to appease the cheese & wine crowd in the first quarter. That being said, you may want to stay away from the ledge until the Northwestern game. I don't believe they'll mess around on the opening series of the first road game.
Man Ball, Spread Ball, Denard Ball, Lloyd Ball, and hello Red Ball...we have balls campers...we have balls!
As for the defense, well it's bend-don't-break-blitz-because-we-need-it-all-day-everyday until we find a few more playmakers. Good read Hacknacious! Nice title.
Michigan is 3-0. That is all they can do. It is way too early to be fearmongering like this. Have they looked great? No. Did you really think they would? I sure hope not. They have done enough to win and winning covers a multitude of sins. We will see what happens when the Big Ten season starts and then we will be able to get a much better read on this team.
Borgess is coming to the realization that Denard's feet give us the best chance to win. Mattison is a stud D cordinator and if anyone can bring Michigan back to having a dominant defense it is him. That doesn't happen overnight though.
Given time I think Michigan will have a very strong defense that will be its calling card, and an offense that scores enough to win the Big Ten. Sort of like we did when we had Bo/Moeller/Llyod. However, all this panick doesn't help the cause.