with new footage of Tate from the first 2 games and add to it after each game. This way the legend shall grow each week!
Scattered ND Notes
Weis' halftime speech
He told his guys their mistakes were the only reason they had not already put the game away. That is not a 100% unreasonable assessment of the first half, but...functionally stupid. You hear that, you think, "it's true, we're a lot better. We'll pull away easily once the penalties stop." What Notre Dame needed to hear was something to keep the fire there. Something like "we're only up 3--this is their stadium and to leave with with a win we will have to wrench it from them with the fight of our lives." ND could not have looked more listless on our opening 3rd quarter drives. There was no fire; it was like they did think the game was easily in hand, and the scoreboard would inevitably catch up to reflect the superior play. Instead things changed in the 3rd quarter. We started to outplay them.
What an underrated kid. And to begin with an aside, one of my favorite Mgoblog diaries ever was the one a few weeks back where someone broke down the joy of watching Odoms block out in front of a long run in the game at Minnesota. Great insight, great story, so true. It made me appreciate his Denard block that much more the following week...Well if you watch the Stonum kick return TD you will see that for the second straight week our longest big play run was sprung by a monster block from tiny Martavious. There was a guy in Stonum’s lane. Odoms--the other returner back deep--kept his eyes fixed, timed his break perfectly, and hurled his whole body into him. He was frozen in place. Stonum was past them both, made the one cut he needed, and ran free. Great block, good fundamentals, huge heart. Is he not Wermers' type of crowd? Who would not want to play next to a guy with that kind of enthusiasm and selfless guts. He is a less featured player this year, but you don't see him Clemonsing on us, and I don't expect he ever will. He doesn't block like a guy that would mope. I love that kid.
He also made two huge catches in the final drive. Forgotten now, he made a ridiculous grab with a man draped all over his back on a critical 3rd down. [EDIT: multiple posters have already pointed out the same stuff for Odoms--apparently he is not forgotten; good for our fans].
Nice to see him have a great game at Michigan. He made a huge catch down the sideline when it was 0-0, and provided the perfect bookend with the decisive TD. That dig route was a thing of glory. Route running matters. So does a QB with accuracy and timing. That play looked easier than it was.
Ouch. Honest appraisal demands at least one negative observation. I don’t want to be mean, so I will not go into details, but wow. If you ranked all Big 10 linebackers on a two factor scoring system of (1) decisiveness and (2) ability to not get washed out of an interior run play...he would not torch the competition. If you want a microcosm of Ezeh's performance, locate him on the final ND touchdown run. Suffice to say that is not where you want to find your inside LB on a power running play.
Cissoko (& rest of D)
On the more-maligned Cissoko: I have more sympathy for him. He was playing NFL talent, injured, in one of his first career starts. Yes he was beat several times. But he continued to stay fierce and confident even when the action on the field made this seem mildly irrational. That is a good thing...On the rest of the defense I have no major comments. The pass rush was poor, but the holding was ubiquitous. The pass yards were high, but the receivers were other-wordly. I thought Warren was excellent. I am not going to fault him for standing in the same vicinity when Floyd finally landed after catching a ball 10 feet up in the air...I am glad Stevie Brown once again made a big play. I am almost starting to feel guilty for blaming him for everything that when wrong in my life in 2008...and who was that safety?? I am glad that at least he knew he was on the team, so he knew to show up beforehand and put on a jersey and everything.
Charlie's decision to pass
I do not like Weis. His next-day whining is just the latest example of everything wrong about him--not a winner, not a leader, self-indulgent, doesn't think ahead, name drops Tom Brady when his name should be kept holy and sacred, etc. I do not like the guy. But I don’t think the late-game passes were as dumb as everyone now says (with the benefit of hindsight and their spectacular failure). In that moment, with ND having a chance to win the game with a first down or two, and our secondary having been abused the way it had...are you really telling me you weren’t praying for 1 yard runs up the gut? That you weren’t terrified when Clausen launched one deep? The stadium held its breath, and not in a 'something great's about to happen' kind of way. It was a 'dear god no' kind of anticipatory silence. You want to make plays that make your opponents feel that way.
Based on the way that game was going, I do not blame Weis for wanting to try to win with the ball, rather punting away and pinning his hopes on stopping a pretty-good offense using 4 downs with nothing to lose. I would want my coach to do the same. As for the type of pass, Brian makes a great point, it may not have been wise. But the other way to look at the lobbed fly pattern is that while calling any pass was aggressive, calling that particular one was relatively conservative. There was no time in the pocket, no risk of a sack/fumble. High likelihood of a catch or interference call. On that first pass Warren just made an outstanding play. On the second, Evans just wasn’t looking for the ball. If Floyd was was still in that 3rd down pass may have sealed the game. And just like that Weis is a genius--blah blah blah, say the pundits, he didn't sit back, he played to win, trusted his guys, etc. You see my point. Throwing was not stupid strategy in my opinion. Although I think a play-action pass to Rudolph would have been a surefire death nail. Thank god he didn’t call one.
There is not much for me to add. We all saw the same things. What a joy to watch someone who can (1) see our open guys and (2) get them the ball. What a strange sensation to watch a QB in a winged helmet drop back, see the pocket collapse, see him sprint for his life, and be envisioning anything other than impending doom. By the final drive, the blitz was breaking through our line and I was having what must have been the same internal reaction as Tate--no big deal, is somebody open downfield? I have watched several QBs that could scamper away from a pass rush and keep scanning downfield. I’ve never had the pleasure of cheering for one. It is great.
As terrific as Tate was, Minor and Graham remain our proverbial Peters. Upon those rocks we will build our football team. Graham, unfortunately, was swallowed up by the jersey seizing spiderweb of ND behemoths all day--tough labor for him. Minor, though, was able to break through. No one thinks he was 100% healthy. But who could tell he wasn’t when he had the ball on Saturday? He started each half with powerful, assertive runs that exploded into the ND backfield. He got us rolling, gave us confidence. Gave us a lead at the start of each half. Matthews got to celebrate the game winner. Stonum got conference accolades. Tate has enjoyed a season’s worth of press adoration the last 48 hours. Minor did his work quietly, particularly in light of all of the wildness that came after he made his strongest contributions. But he was huge. Passing picked up in the second half after our running game finally began to look threatening at its beginning. Minor did that. Great game from a big-hearted player.
I won't lie--I really like the guys on this team.
Thanks for the link. Hawthorne looks like a beast but then I realized he's next to Odoms and Smith.
the irony and tragedy with hopefully a good ending for 3 pahokee kids at UM
Great diary. I haven't been this exciting about a season in a long time. One tough season sure changes your perspective.
For a while now, I've been thinking that Weis' arrogance is his defining characteristic, and you can see it in action. It works well in recruiting, where you've got these naive, wide-eyed high school kids looking up to this mountain of a man (pun intented) leading a program rich in tradition, and they sign up.
But then they've got to play for him for four years, and that arrogance just isn't inspiring. The theme of his halftime speech is about what I'd have guessed. There's just no way that makes anybody play better. I kind of wonder how many of his players really like him? I mean, how hard is it to imagine him being carried off the field like Carr after his final game? Even putting aside the obvious logistical issues of mass and force.
It will be fun to watch their season play out.
Agreed with a lot off that - particularly the Odoms point and the Weis-passing point (though I do also agree that the routes were poorly chosen).
And agreed - hard not to like Mathews/Graham/Minor as the experienced guys that have seen some of the lower points in UM history, pared with all this new blood that's taking the team in a new direction. Hope they can keep this rolling, but regardless, really proud of this squad.
Great work Sir
Nice mention of Stevie Brown important contribution
Something to add about Weis' decision-making on ND's last drive. I agree that going for the first down in the air was probably the right decision, although I still would have gone run run pass, so that one timeout would be wasted. If they get the first down on the long pass, only about 20 seconds run off, then U-M still has two timeouts, so if they end up punting, U-M still has the ball with a minute or so left and a chance to drive.
On the third down pass, that was a great play call and a great throw...just a bad route. On the replay, the receiver went about 13 yards before starting his out cut, and Jimmah was expecting him to start his cut at the sticks. So the ball got there as the receiver was just starting to cut.
It's hard to argue with the play calling of a coach that put up 34 points on our defense. Weis is a good offensive coordinator; he's just terrible as a head coach. After the things he has said at halftime and postgame, the message his players will come away with is "We were better, we just got screwed by the refs." That's not the lesson you want your players learning. I'll bet ND loses at least one more game that it "should" win this year, maybe next Saturday. Those Big Ten refs again...
Thanks much. Love your analysis of Odoms & Cissoko. Spot on regarding Charlie Tuna's playcalling on the last ND drive. Also Concerned about Obi.
Would love to hear your thoughts on: Koger, Roh, OL. Think Koger is a stud, Roh not far behind. Have some concerns about the OL.
I think Koger is the most physically gifted guy on our team. He is huge but moves with effortless grace. Amazing hands. Actually blocks well, even as a skill-oriented true-sophomore TE. I think we should involve him any way we can; I'm sure we will.
I like Roh a lot. Throwing a true-frosh speed DE into the starting lineup is a lot to ask, but he has not been manhandled and already is giving blockers fits with his pass rush. I like his motor and his spin move is excellent. Against ND he could not come clean but actually "drew" some penalties by giving them more than they could handle without holding. If I remember correctly the quasi-controversial holding call on Young (that brought back the Rudolph catch) was on a play where Roh rushed from the outside on the left, made a spin move to the inside, and Young grabbed his shirt right outside the pads and whipped him to the ground. Can't do that. Clearly he felt he needed to. Good for Roh to give a pro prospect trouble so early out the gate. I think with a few years experience and strengthening he goes from good to scary.
I need to look more carefully at the OL to offer anything of value. I did notice a few nice second-level blocks by Molk and Schilling. I am interested to see if the coaches explore using Huyge-Dorrestein now on the right side after their success at the end of the game. Though I still like Moosman.
I don't think RR has ever had someone like Koger. Having a good TE with hands and blocking ability is a very difficult thing to find, but opens things up even more for the WR's & RB's.
Roh is incredible. What a find.
OL we'll just have to see.
what he said
Agreed with nearly everything said. I just rewatched the Odoms block, and he knocked the Notre Dame guy flat on his stomach.
Especially after reading the Michigan Daily article, Martavious has solidified his place as my favorite Wolverine.
For those who might know. Some are complimenting RR and McGee for the creative playcalling resulting in all the points. But, how often did Tate roll away from pressure and appear to hit a receiver well into the play. In other words, were these completions planned plays, or just the result of Tate's scrambling, vision and accuracy. Or both. I can't tell on TV if these are patterns or complete improvisation. Even if improvisation, the receivers are being well schooled in getting open, which is coaching.
I'd like to add Stonum to the list. I really think that he started to get his head right and play strong for the first time in his college career. Obviously, there is the TD return which was decisive running on a return that was timed just right. (Aside: I haven't seen a M returner dash straight up the field like that since Stevie B. It was just nice to see. I am sure that too many returners try to get cute when they should just cut upfield and gain another 5 yards--or more if they break a tackle or two!) But Stonum had a few big catches (4 catches for 54 yards). He nearly matched Matthews' efficiency (13.5 ypc vs. 13.6 for Matthews). Hopefully, he is healthy and can keep catching the ball for Michigan.
Savoy came in at crunch time and made 2 big catches. (And almost 3...for the win!) I wonder why he doesn't see the field more. (Ok, maybe it is because he's behind Matthews, Hemmingway, Stonum...etc.)
It is fun to be able to spread all sort of credit all around!
Boubacar was getting torched all day....why didn't he go after him on that last deep pass. Doesnt that make more sense than going after Warren? Carry on.
That is a great point. Particularly if you're going to throw a jump ball, given that a) Cissoko is much shorter and b) was defending the ND sideline, where the screams for pass interference would have been much more effective.
has become one of my favorite players after I did the diary this summer defending him against people criticizing him for being a bad wide receiver last year. I think after two games he's still on pace to get around 40 catches, he's toned down the fumbling, and he's made serious contributions through blocking and effort, which has been noted here.
All in all, a fantastic player to watch. It's great we'll get him for 2 and 10/13 (?) more years.
"Suffice to say that is not where you want to find your inside LB on a power running play." Hilarious. I saw that play and wept. Obi had a rough, rough day.
BTW, the link to the older post on Martavious:
Yes, self-serving :)
Speaking of Minor, his block on the last play was crucial.
I'm glad I'm not to only one to see that. As much as I love his running, blocking like that--something Mike Hart also excelled at--makes me love him even more.
I will echo what everyone else has said, great diary. Also, in hindsight I don't think that the pass play calls by Weis were that horrible of an idea. I think we all remember Carr and his "play not to lose" ways. I remember a Michigan at Purdue game I went to in I think 2000. Drew Henson was the QB and Michigan stormed out to a big lead at half time. Of course with the big lead Carr went ultra conservative with the offense in the second half. Of course Purdue came back and was within 2 points(I think). Michigan only needed ONE first down to run out the clock and win the game. I turned to my friend I was at the game with and told him that Michigan would run twice for about one yard each time, throw an incomplete pass on third down, punt the ball, and lose the game. This was over course what happened. So I can see why Weis might want to stay aggressive. That being said, I don't like Weis and all he is good at is bitching about things that didn't go his way.
they are who we thought they were
But how can you have 2 proverbial Peters???
...at the end, but I think a lot of that comes from the frustration of failure. You are right about play action to Rudolph--that would have been higher percentage than the play to Evans, not because the latter didn't result in a wide open receiver, but because the receiver was inexperienced.
You definitely have some outstanding talent on the field, and it will be interesting to see if RR follows up his premier losing season with a 9-3 or thereabouts, as he did at WVU.