10/27/2012 – Michigan 9, Nebraska 23 – 5-3, 3-1 Big Ten
Well, it finally happened.
Pundits and opponent fans have been predicting the demise of Denard Robinson ever since he picked up that snap against Western Michigan, but the series of bumps and bruises that frightened Michigan fans every third game had never really cost Michigan anything. In 2010, Tate Forcier came off the bench to lead Michigan to a frenetic victory over Illinois and nearly did the same against Iowa. Last year, Devin Gardner shepherded Michigan through the second half of the Illinois game. When Denard's boo-boos knocked him out for halves instead of plays, Michigan got through just fine.
They were always tempting fate, though, and upped their bet that the football gods' vast malevolence was laser-focused on the Iowa running back situation by moving Devin Gardner to wide receiver in the fall. That seemed like a risk worth taking.
Unfortunately, the containment field is down.
yes, it's true. this man has no elbow.
First it leaked from the Iowa running backs to their offensive line, which suffered two season-ending injuries minutes apart last week. This week, the Big Ten set to murdering football in the morning and afternoon, then this happened to Marcus Lattimore's knee:
By the time Friday night rolled around the ambient malevolence levels in college football were so high that Notre Dame won a marquee matchup to enter the national championship shortlist.
So of course Denard would be knocked out of a potentially fun, definitely important game by falling harmlessly to the turf, thus turning the rest of it into a death-march trudge. AIRBHG is no longer contained. The forces of wheeeee that (mostly) preserved Denard through three years of running at top speed into Manti Te'o have been overrun by the forces of grinding doom football. Now we're all boned. Hail Saban.
And so it came to pass that words never before spoken—words so impossible CFL teams who don't even think it's weird they're all named "Roughriders" cock an eyebrow at their assemblage—came to pass.
Tate Forcier isn't walking through that door.
I don't know, man. I felt ill for most of the second half but it's not like anyone is at fault other than everyone. I mean, if RR doesn't implode or Forcier is a normal person who goes to classes or Michigan doesn't hire Hoke three weeks before signing day, maybe the guy backing up Robinson has a prayer of moving the ball forward. Maybe the wide receiving corps is not so awful that it must include Devin Gardner.
In the aftermath you've got the columns declaring Gardner's move to WR a stupid idea, but I haven't seen anyone reference the column questioning it they wrote before last weekend. It's easy to be a backseat driver after whatever that was. Meanwhile, Gardner is this crappy receiving corps' #2 WR, #1 if you discount Jeremy Gallon's 150-some yards on screens.
Gardner's not good. The alternative is throwing more than four balls in the first half to Jeremy Jackson. They've needed their crappy, crappy receiver who is also a quarterback even if he is dropping a 50-yard pass in most games. Whether Gardner is worth an extra three scores against Nebraska is… debatable. His performances to date suggest he is not.
Michigan was always rolling the dice on Denard's health, and that was the move to make. Didn't work. That's life as a rickety program that's endured two coaching transitions in three years—when you have to go to the bench you get tumbleweeds.
We're now entering the period of time when most program shortcomings can be blamed on Rich Rodriguez's recruiting, which is only a slight transition from the period of time when most program shortcomings could be blamed on Lloyd Carr's recruiting fade and represents very little improvement when the one completely awesome guy at the most important position is removed from the equation. It turns out that Michigan 2012 minus Denard Robinson is pretty much Michigan 2008, and that the only thing saving us from the abyss was Denard staring down a decision to stay or go and not pulling the Mallett.
He stayed, but in the game that probably decided if he would be a champion or not he watched from the sideline because his elbow hit the turf the wrong way. Malevolence is out of control these days.
Injury item. So the thing is this:
It's the same thing that knocked him out briefly against Illinois.
"He's got that nerve (injury), he hits it the wrong way (or) gets hit (and it's hard)," Hoke said. "The difference (today) was he didn't come back in. But, he gets better as the game goes on." …
Asked whether or not he was concerned Robinson wouldn't be available next week, Hoke replied "No." He also said the normal rehabilitation process for this type of injury is mainly rest and time.
He'll probably be fine by Tuesday and start against Gophers. Every time his elbow brushes up against the softest kitten in Minnesota the collective intake of breath will be audible. Sounds fun, and by "fun" I mean "paralyzing."
Frank Clark is also expected to be back next week, which is good because Mario Ojemudia limped off the field Saturday and was spotted in a boot today. He's probably sprained his ankle and won't be available.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Craig Roh. Beastmode sack, generally unblockable, got a number of those stat things for himself instead of everyone else, as he usually does.
Honorable mention. Quinton Washington, Desmond Morgan, Kenny Demens.
Epic Double Point standings.
3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama), Drew Dileo (Michigan State), Craig Roh(Nebraska).
We won time of possession! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Time of possession is a garbage stat.
That said, there is a clear narrative of decline in the defensive performance. Nebraska's first eight drives gained a total of 148 yards. Their last four gained 178. It's not easy going out there after a blizzard of three-and-outs. This would be better measured by plays instead of TOP.
BLAME BLAME BLAME BLAME. Why are we here at QB? LET'S BLAME PEOPLE WOO
- Rodriguez's horrible recruiting at the skill positions: 40%. If Michigan has a decent deep threat at WR, Gardner is playing QB and Michigan may salvage that game. Instead, RR recruited receivers are… 2011: nobody. 2010: Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson. 2009: Je'Ron Stokes. The only one of those guys to see the field is Jackson, and he's essentially a skinny tight end. That 2011 class may not be RR's fault, because there were…
- Unavoidable transition costs: 10%. RR's WR recruiting would look slightly better if Sammy Watkins was included in that group, but once he got fired Watkins was gone.
- Darryl Stonum's inability to just do what the court tells him to: 10%. Relevant to previous two bullets: we're desperate for a guy who has three catches for Baylor. Baylor's offense is pretty good, but he can't even get on the field.
- The Process: 20%. Maybe Michigan gets a guy more ready to play if they're not scrambling with three weeks left. Maybe Michigan recruits one dang WR in 2011.
- Hoke not taking a quarterback last year: 10%. Always take one every year. If Michigan has another freshman around maybe he's better than Bellomy.
- Hoke inexplicably passing on Devin Lucien: 10%. Lucien has 10 catches as a sophomore for 6-2 UCLA and their #12 offense. He still wanted to commit to Michigan after the transition, and Michigan said no by saying they wanted him to play DB.
There. It has been blamed. Seriously, though, the Lucien thing drives me nuts.
I'm not there. As soon as Denard went out and it became clear that Bellomy was light years away from readiness I was pretty much like whatever. There's not much you can do when you already can't run without your QB and the guy you put in is overwhelmed and throwing moonballs.
Before that happened, Michigan was moving the ball decently and poised to score to go up 10-7. That's okay I guess—but we're also talking about a team that is 90th in the country in run defense, so…
I saw this: after Nebraska got torn up by Hundley and Miller it seemed clear they went back to the drawing board and were going to play it safe. When Michigan put 4 WRs on the field, Nebraska responded with two high safeties and 5.5 guys in the box. Michigan ran the ball and got five, six, seven yards virtually every time. That's stealing.
I mean, when I was learning about the spread some years back I watched the videos Rodriguez put out about his offense. When he talked about making a run/pass decision based on the safeties, his general rule was one deep safety was a run, cover zero was pass. The idea that someone would maintain two high safeties against his offense never even crossed his mind. Nebraska was doing it, and Michigan didn't force Nebraska out of it. I don't get it, man.
The truly crappy thing is it's going to be four or five years before we have any real read on whether Borges is any good. At this point, year three is going to be Michigan rolling with a true freshman QB—probably, anyway—and four new OL starters—probably, anyway—with what's likely to be a horrible WR corps. Anything other than an awful offense next year is a point in Borges's favor. Hurrah transition.
But Auburn? No. 2004 Auburn had the following guys on that team: QB Jason Campbell (first round pick), RB Ronnie Brown (first round pick), RB Cadillac Williams (first round pick), OL Ben Grubbs (first round pick), OL Marcus McNeill (second round pick), Ben Obomanu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 37 catches in 2011), Devin Aromashodu (seventh round pick, still in league, had 26 catches in 2011), and Courtney Taylor (sixth round pick, now in CFL after 2008 multiple sclerosis(!) diagnosis). When you can call anything and have future NFL players on both ends of the exchange that doesn't say much either.
First Nebraska touchdown: where is that? Nebraska's first touchdown was a route that exploited Michigan's man coverage. An inside receiver ran a little hitch designed to pick the outside guy, the outside guy ran a post to eliminate the safety over the top, and the inside-inside guy used the pick to get open by yards. It didn't really matter if the receiver who ended up targeted was able to get separation naturally; the play got it for him.
Where is that from Michigan? I can't recall a wide open downfield guy that got open strictly by the play design. Gardner's been open some when DBs fall over or suck up on a double move or something; not so much the play bits.
This wasn't actually a problem last year, when Michigan quarterbacks made sport of ignoring the the wide open guys Borges was machining downfield. Is it just Junior Hemingway's absence?
I think they watched film. Congratulations, Nebraska: you are apparently the only Big Ten team to ever watch tape of the Michigan offense and leap on the throwback screen. It's not exactly hard to find, since the first time Michigan goes under center in any game is virtually guaranteed to be the throwback. It's pretty bad when everyone in the room I was watching said "throwback screen" as soon as Michigan lined up in ace.
Q: why is that play consistently run from under center? There doesn't seem to be anything about it that would require it to be.
Bellomy. Well… that wasn't very good. The most disturbing thing was probably one of Bellomy's few completions—a ten yard wheel-ish route run by Kerridge that picked up a first down and took just decades to get where it was going. Accuracy issues and a tendency to scream in horror during plays themselves (@ right by Upchurch) can be fixed with time. The arm strength deficiency probably can't.
That particular throw made me wonder why Michigan recruited the guy at all since it seems like the #1 thing on Borges's radar screen is the ability to laser it in just inside the sideline. Hurrah Process/unavoidable transition costs. Boy, is next year's offense going to be a wow experience or what I tell ya.
Offensive line. I'm not entirely sure how they did since once Bellomy came in it was open season and Michigan settled into a routine that exposed them to the same "eight of them, five of us" problems that Michigan experienced against MSU. Hoke was not impressed.
Ryan got edged. When Michigan gave up some yards it was often on the edge when various Nebraska players broke contain. The most spectacular incident was when Abdullah broke Cam Gordon's ankles…
…but it happened to Ryan a few times. When Nebraska was not bouncing it outside they were getting very little; excellent day from the interior DL and the LBs.
Roh beastmode. Also Roh, who took the opportunity presented by Abudullah being assigned to block him to destroy Martinez in a hilarious beastmode sack. If you've ever wondered why tailbacks always cut block guys on pass protection, that's why.
Where is Rawls? I don't know what happened to Toussaint but at this point I'm not even irritated at Vincent Smith carries because it's not like Toussaint is consistently making yards past what the blocking gets him. Meanwhile, Rawls ends up watching, even when Michigan deep into Bellomy panic time and trying to run from under center.
I'm sure there's a reason they don't trust him yet; whatever it is it must be pretty bad. If you're down to running power from the I-form—and Michigan was—you might as well find out if your backup guy can break some tackles.
Defense: stepping towards elite. Nebraska entered the game averaging 512 yards and 42 points a game, leading the league in rushing yardage, pass efficiency, total yardage, and points per game. Michigan held the Cornhuskers to 326 yards and 23 points. Six of those points were field goal drives of two and five yards in length. Without turnovers, that's 17 points.
Relative to the quality of opponent, that's their best performance of the year by far and a major step away from criticisms that Michigan's defense hasn't actually stopped anyone. If the offense doesn't implode with Denard out those numbers are undoubtedly better, probably under 300 yards for the game for the Huskers.
Not relevant but worth it. This happened after Northwestern's win over Iowa:
Bo Cisek, walk-on DT and new internet legend
It speaks for itself except for the fact that guy's wearing #1.
Michigan + Nebraska == refereeing atrocity. The Roundtree catch that was overturned was one of those plays where it's not clear either way because of the goofy fuzzy catch rule and should be left to stand, and then you've got that terrible terrible late hit call and some terrible terrible pass interference calls both ways. This combination of teams is not good for ref sanity.
Cats! So hey like if you follow me on twitter I'm sort of sorry for retweeting like 30 cats into your timeline except not really. People started sending them to me, so clearly there was a need. Here is another cat if you are not satiated.
* As bad as we played, the first downs were close, 20-18 in favor of Nebraska. Of course, 6 of our first downs came from Nebraska penalties.
* Nebraska's 20 1st downs translated to 326 total yards, we managed 188 total yards. At least we were efficient with our first downs. Why get 20 or 30 yards when you only need 10?
* We won the TOP, 31:36 to 28:24. Yippee. We did control the clock early, and I was expecting that to pay off in the fourth quarter when we should have been able to grind down their defense, but then, you know, Denard got hurt.
Edit: I forgot the main silver lining, BELLOMY CAN AUDIBLE!
Yeah, what was with that?
Yeoman scans Massey, comes back with Michigan having a 30% shot at winning the division now. Let's go Spartans.
Blog stuff. Sap's decals hand out nothing to the offense. Nebraska fans are far too enthusiastic about snuffing Bellomy out. TTB. Maize and Go Blue. The M Block considers what happens next year at QB.
Duct tape. It's was held together with duct tape, hope, and rolling dice. And now the questions will come for the coaching staff, although any questions to Greg Mattison will likely consist of "Why can't you guys score too?" But we caught a glimpse of a future we will need to face all too soon, a future without Denard Robinson. That future consisted of three field goals total output on offense.
You watched the second half perhaps with some hope that Spring Game Bellomy would emerge but save for a few late first downs it wasn’t really even close. I swear I caught Jeremy Gallon staring off into space after the RS freshman was calling a pass play early in the second half and remember thinking, “Gallon knows this ain’t happening…”
Also, Denard's jacket was old school split M style now verboten.
Probably got it off Jon Falk's back.
Regular stuff. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. AGGRESSIVE DECISION TO FALL ON HIS ELBOW GENTLY COSTS DENARD ROBINSON. RUSSELL BELLOMY MAY NOT HAVE DONE TOO WELL. ROBINSON'S EXIT REVEALS THAT MICHIGAN IS NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING AND SHOULD PROBABLY JUST DIE. RUSSELL BELLOMY WAS NEVER GETTING PULLED.
Three Bellomy interceptions rushed the defense back onto the field and into quick-change situations. Nebraska started drives in Michigan territory, including one on the four-yard line. There’s a good excuse.
“No,” Kovacs said. “We take pride in that. Our motto is: ‘Spot the ball.’ It doesn’t matter where the ball’s at, just put the ball on the field and we’re going to go play defense and not let them get any yards.”
That's a Rodriguez-era phrase that remains as mysterious today as it was when it was introduced and probably should have gone in the bonfire with GERG's playbooks and stuffed beavers and hair. I guess that's appropriate for the reappearance of the 2008 offense. If someone says "hold the rope" any time soon I'm going to hide under the bed.
Michigan-Nebraska: The Sick Man of Europe
By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a
The red balloons floated upward, little harbingers of doom dotting the night sky. I didn't know what to make of it, but it could not have been anything else but that. Or, maybe they were just balloons.
By HoldTheRope on Oct 29, 7:00a
/hides under bed
Hey, how was your weekend? Oh, right. Same here.
At least this is a Michigan blog and not a Michigan/Tigers one—I think we'd be in full post-Horror kittens mode right now. Except with more Tim McCarver. Pass the cyanide, please.
[The rest of the TOTALLY FUN gifs after THE JUMP.]
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
Whew! That game vs. Sparty was way too close! Glad Blue was finally able to get past State and shut up all those Spartan lovers. Very sweet to hear the dejected tone of the MSU player’s in their postgame comments. I do have one problem with last Saturday’s game however—why was I surrounded by people clad in green & white? I was very disappointed by the large number of folks who opted to sell their tickets, to a rivalry game no less. Come on Michigan fans, is it really only about the money?
You can bet that Maize & Blue will be hard to find in Lincoln tonight. Just from the numbers who showed up in Ann Arbor last year, I’m thinking it will be a solid sea of red. I have to say that at least the Nebraska fans I spoke to were knowledgeable, well behaved, if not downright cordial (of course their team was getting feasted on by the Wolverines—that does tend to lessen one’s spunk). And while I’d love to check out the game day atmosphere in Memorial Stadium, I’m kind of sketchy about a road trip to Lincoln. The last time I deigned to attend a game in the Big Ten hinterlands (that would be Champaign, Ill.) the eau de fertilizer was a bit overpowering.
Nebraska is promoting this game as the first in college football history between conference teams with at least 850 all-time wins. While that is a unique occurrence, I’m more impressed that Nebraska will also be celebrating 50 years of consecutive sellouts. Think about it. Michigan just had their 242nd game with 100,000 fans or more. That’s somewhere between 20 – 24 years, playing 10 – 12 games per season. Fifty years of sellouts? I don’t know if I should be wowed by this or lament the fact there’s no other outlet for Lincoln sports fans other than Nebraska athletics.
The rub in this is that the Wolverines are going into the lion’s den. We’re talking a Columbus type environment. While I think it won’t be anywhere near as nasty, there’s still going to be 87,000-plus fans looking to see their Cornhuskers to avenge last year’s debacle in the Big House. Brady Hoke’s teams have had some trouble in road games during his tenure. It will be quite a feat if Michigan can get this road win, having just had an emotional victory over MSU.
We Michiganders are fortunate to have plenty of outlets for our sporting interests. Top notch ones at that. I’ll have to see if Counterpunt will venture out with me to watch Michigan/Nebraska and the World series. It’s just that tonight, I think we’re going to be drowning our sorrows.
Michigan 20 Nebraska 27
By Nick RoUMel
I remember January 1, 1998 like it was just 15 years ago. Michigan had completed one of the most remarkable seasons in its storied history. It had gone undefeated in glorious fashion, in the process knocking off #7 Colorado, Notre Dame, #15 Iowa, #14 Michigan State, #2 Penn State, #23 Wisconsin, and #4 Ohio State, to complete an undefeated 11-0 and earn a spot in the Rose Bowl. They were the unanimous #1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, in the last season before the BCS came to destroy our way of life.
Michigan’s defense was astonishing, giving up less than 10 points a game, including a total of only 78 points in the entire Big Ten season. (In contrast, in 2010, Rich Rod’s defense allowed 65 points to Illinois in a single game. Yes I know we still won. Shut up and listen to Grandpa.)
The Penn State game in 1997 was our favorite, as Punt will attest. Facing the undefeated Nittany Lions in Happy Valley, we tailgated from 7 AM in a steady drizzle with our insufferable Penn State hosts until crushing their hearts with a 34-8 victory. That same day, Nebraska remained undefeated by engaging in Sparty-like documented cheating to beat Missouri when a downed receiver purposefully kicked the live ball to another receiver for a touchdown to send the game into overtime, which Nebraska eventually won. The Cornhuskers still affectionately refer to that play as the “Fleakicker.”
Confident in our season of destiny, we did not think too much about Nebraska’s lucky victory. Michigan went on to demoralize Ohio State to earn a Rose Bowl berth against the Washington State Cougars, who won a weak Pac 10 that year with the gifted but stupid Ryan Leaf at quarterback. We could all but taste finishing the season as the unanimous #1 pick in the nation.
Back to January 1, 1998. With just 29 seconds to play in the Rose Bowl, Michigan led 21-16 thanks to three long Brian Griese passes, two to Tai Streets, and a Charles Woodson interception in the end zone. It was not a blowout, but it was convincing. A late punt pinned the Cougars on their 7 yard line with just 29 seconds to play.
Two long passes later, Washington State found itself on Michigan’s 16. One of those passes was controversial. The WSU receiver shoved Charles Woodson out of the way before catching the ball. The official reached for his hanky, but for some reason, did not pull it out. As seconds wound down, Leaf spiked the ball for one last play. The whistle blew. In another controversial call, officials said time had run out.
At that point, Michigan fans felt just as much relief as euphoria. We turned to watch the Orange Bowl, where the Peyton Manning led Tennessee Volunteers would face the now #2 Nebraska Cornhuskers. An injured but game Manning had no mobility and was manhandled by the swarming Cornhusker defense. After the game, Nebraska quarterback Scotty Frost was interviewed. In a moving tribute that still makes me sick to recall, Scotty made a shameless plea to voters to choose Nebraska #1 over Michigan. He argued this would be a fitting cap to the career of their retiring coach Tom Osborne, but he could not resist adding a dig against Michigan. As quoted by the Ann Arbor News:
“If you can look yourself in the mirror and say if your job depended on playing either Michigan or Nebraska to keep your job, who would you rather play?" Frost remarked after the game. "You watched the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Michigan won with a controversial play at the end. We took apart the third-ranked team in the country.
"The second point I have is: I can't see how any coach outside the Big Ten or the Pac-10 would vote for Michigan.”
The coaches complied, leapfrogging Nebraska over Michigan for the #1 final spot in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan managed the #1 vote of the writers (AP). Watching that on the news the next day almost made me spit out my Pina Colada, under the California palm trees.
I have not forgiven Nebraska since. Nor Tennessee for that matter, nor Peyton Manning, nor Missouri, nor the sentimental coaches who screwed Michigan to give Tom Osborne a parting gift. Not to mention perpetual tackhead Ryan Leaf, and the official who swallowed his whistle when Woodson got shoved.
In fact, Counterpunt is feeling unforgiving these days to just about everyone, including Punt - who dares to pick Nebraska to beat Michigan today. Why, Punt? Did Scotty Frost get to you too?
MICHIGAN 22 – NEBRASKA 16
[Bonus pick: Tigers 3, Giants 2 – Valverde gets the save].
Predictorama. Everyone predicts Nebraska-Michigan:
- Athlon: M 31-27: "This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines." [NO PRESSURE GREG]
- BWS: Martinez will complete more deep, downfield throws in this game than Michigan has allowed all season, but none of them go for touchdowns; they're heaves to wide receivers who can out-leap and out-muscle Michigan's corners. However, Michigan holds Nebraska to near 150 yards rushing. It's boom-or-bust for Nebraska's offense. Michigan finally gets a good kick/punt return. Nebraska rallies late but Michigan clutches to the win. Michigan 27 - Nebraska 24
- Maize and Brew: Ultimately I think both offenses find some success running the ball, but there are a lot of stalled drives that go 40-50 yards and end in that awkward no-mans-land between "why are you punting" and "why didn't you punt". How the teams approach these situations and who has the most luck on X-and-short will ultimately decide the game. When it comes to this, I like Michigan's odds. Michigan 30 - Nebraska 27
- Holdin' the Rope features Who Are You And Why Do You Care?: Prediction based on everything but football: Nebraska 21 - Michigan 17.
- M&GB: While Nebraska will score some points, Michigan’s offense should be able to move the ball with relative ease. The offensive line will get enough push against an overmatched front seven and pave the way for a big day on the ground. The ‘Huskers have done a good job this season of matching up with opposing receivers, so look for another big day from tight end Devin Funchess as well when Denard does need to pass. Michigan 42 – Nebraska 24. [ed: yow]
The MZone also has their Know Your Foe series featuring Nebraska mascots past:
I'm surprised the entire state isn't a raving insomniac mess after that business and Li'l Red.
All of us are Purdue. Don't ask me to explain.
I award Jerry Kill the Award for Most Walrus-Looking.
in the communnnity
hmmm. Post idea.
Ryan profile. Via Mike Rothstein comes an extended look at Ryan the Barbarian. In retrospect, this was obvious:
Jake noticed that several kids had stuffed animals they had won in an arcade game in the lobby. He put his arm up the drop portal -- the one the toys usually popped out of -- in an attempt to circumvent the system and grab a stuffed animal.
"The guy had to use the butter from the popcorn machine, rub all over his hands, way up there, to get it out," Susan said. "He was stuck up there for a while."
And thus began Michigan's unique strategy of scouting claw machines across the Midwest, offering anyone with their arm stuck up one.
Hyman profile. This from the Daily:
On the way back from Boston, with Boston University the clear leader in the clubhouse, the Hymans detoured to Ann Arbor for a stop.
It would be their last.
Zach and Spencer sat across from Red Berenson in the coach’s office, while Berenson laid out why they should be Wolverines. It didn’t take long.
“Ten minutes into Michigan, we had completely forgotten about every other school,” Spencer said. “It was over. Zach and I were sitting in the (Ross Academic Center) and we looked at each other and it was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going to Michigan.’ ”
Big test tonight for that surging fourth line.
Check on the blocking. Press conference regurgitating here but let's bring that out from behind a jump to confirm that, yeah, Joe Kerridge is in the process of Wally Pipping one Stephen Hopkins:
“I think Joe’s had a pretty daggone good stretch here," coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday. "He’s practiced well. You look at the iso’s and some of the things that he’s doing in practice, and then when he gets out there on the field. That’s a big part of it.”
Hopkins became the starting fullback midway through last season when then-starter John McColgan suffered an injury. He started every game at fullback until sustaining the hamstring injury before the UMass game in Week 3.
Now, it appears he's out of a job.
Brandon Moore isn't playing much after returning from injury either, but I don't think many people are surprised about that.
See no evil no longer works. The NCAA is set to adopt the long-in-the-making penalty revamp that will finally make head coaches responsible for their assistants breaking NCAA rules:
"It's a tougher penalty structure, there's no doubt about it," Southern California athletic director Pat Haden said in an interview conducted prior to USA TODAYSports' acquisition of the document. "The point is, for head coaches -- and this goes for any sport -- you have this responsibility. You need to be constantly vigilant and you need to be constantly coaching your coaches about how important it is to play by the rules." …
Head coaches can avoid penalties for violations committed by their staff if they can document vigilance about potential red flags. For example, the document states that a head coach should ask about how unofficial visits are paid for and advises head coaches to ask their assistants if they suspect a third party or handler is involved in the recruitment.
The rules are supposed to go into effect Tuesday; hopefully they'll have some impact. Always tough to tell.
Puck drop tonight. The CCHA's parting gift to Michigan starts this weekend as what might be the conference series of the year will see the Saturday game bereft since it's on at the same time Nebraska-Michigan is. The athletic department is selling half-price tickets to both games this weekend, which says something about where Yost attendance is when you can't even sell out a 7:35 Friday game against Miami.
Whether Yost is present or not, they'll drop the puck. MHN on the Redhawks:
Miami is led offensively by a strong group of underclassmen. Five of their top six scorers are a freshman and sophomores. Sophomores Blake Coleman (4-1-5 in 4gp), Austin Czarnik (2-3-5 in 4gp), and freshman Riley Barber (3-2-5 in 4gp) are all tied for the team scoring lead.
Like the Wolverines, the RedHawks welcome a pair of freshmen in the crease who have split playing time. Freshman Jay Williams is 2-0-0 with a 1.94 GAA and .915 save percentage. Fellow classmate Ryan McKay is 1-0-1 with a 0.48 GAA and .984 save percentage.
After two weekends in which the play on the ice was dominating against lower-level competition this is an acid test. Racine will get the start for M.
BONUS: The only word we'd had on Michigan's nonconference scheduling after the move to the Big Ten was something Red tossed off about having little desire to continue "so-called rivalries" against Miami and Notre Dame, which was disappointing. Red seems to have reversed his opinion somewhat, though:
Berenson said on Inside Michigan Hockey this week that Miami is interested in scheduling non-conference games after the CCHA disbands.
I'm guessing scheduling ND is out of the question after they ended the football series in the most dickish way possible.
I'm nervous that Michigan's going to run out 14 games against Bentley next year. Any indication they're not is welcome.
Meanwhile, here's my contractually obligated reminder that the Michigan schools and a guest—probably Bowling Green—should ditch the GLI for a State of Michigan Championship that would be awesome. The trophy could be a mitten the size of a man the winning captain has to put on. Yeah.
Squash. It was known at the time that Rick Pitino was theees close to becoming Michigan's basketball coach a while back when the Amaker hire was made, and good Lord what—
“The day that I committed to Louisville, I signed an agreement to be the next head coach of Michigan and I was fired up to be the coach at Michigan," Pitino said. "The athletic director at the time, who’s no longer there (Bill Martin), was playing squash and my wife came up, she just didn’t want me to go to the west coast, UNLV, and be away from the children. She agreed, okay let’s go to Michigan."
She eventually convinced him to change his mind, and due to one of Martin's squash matches, Pitino informed Michigan of his decision via voicemail.
"I tried to call the A.D. at Michigan between 12 and 1," he recalled. "I had a false name. I would give him a fake name and he would call me back. I couldn’t get a hold of him because he was playing squash. The secretary said he demands that he doesn’t get interrupted unless it’s an emergency and if you want you can leave a voicemail.
"I left a voicemail and went to Louisville and I’m really happy I did."
What qualifies as an emergency to Athletic Director Bill Martin?
- 50% off sale at Squash Unlimited
- Opportunity to hire nice man who wears turtlenecks but has no coaching acumen
- Molasses explosion
- 30% off sale at Squash Unlimited
- Member of immediate family diagnosed with rickets or beri-beri, ONLY rickets or beri-beri don't come to me with any of this scurvy business eat an orange for crissakes
- 1975 America's Cup highlights VHS arrives via Pony Express
- Champagne reaches 56.7 degrees
- Anything at all not related to the most important part of his job
People in charge of things are just in charge of them. There is not necessarily a reason.
Lewan draft stock. Doing okay you guys:
Michigan's Taylor Lewan matched the physical challenge presented by hated in-state rival Michigan State and their 6-6, 278 pound defensive end William Gholston. … Just as Lewan did in 2011, the Michigan left tackle controlled Gholston, demonstrating enough lateral agility and balance in his kick-slide to maintain the edge and the great length and strength to lock up his opponent. Gholston lacks the explosive burst to give Lewan a stiff challenge in pass protection but the Spartans also sent smaller, quicker pass rushers against Lewan, including linebackers on the blitz. Having only played on the offensive line since his senior season of high school, Lewan demonstrated the improvement in pass protection scouts are hoping to see from him to warrant the frequent comparisons he's gained to former Wolverine star Jake Long.
Lewan has specifically improved in his patience as a pass blocker, recognizing spin movies and sliding laterally rather than lunging. As he has throughout much of his career, Lewan was also consistently able to knock defenders off the ball in the running game. Despite his height, the 6-7, 310 pound Lewan played with good pad level, winning the battle of leverage against Gholston and other MSU defenders.
Let's hope he stays anyway.
Etc.: Quinton Washington picture pages WSG Campbell, Roh, and Floyd. John Beilein will live forever. John Beilein says things to media members. Downing, Motte, and Compher feature in USHL prospects article. How do improve NCAA rule enforcement: outsource it. How Northwestern busted the 80 yard Venric Mark TD. Denard Robinson's mechanics. Injuries hit Horford (apparently minor) and McGary (minor, still recovering).
|WHAT||Michigan vs Nebraska|
8:00 PM EST
October 27th, 2012
|THE LINE||Nebraska -2|
|WEATHER||cloudy, dry, around 40|
Is that corn in your pocket or… oh, I see. It's corn.
Run Offense vs Nebraska
COME TO NEBRASHHHHKA STATTE
Last week Michigan kept its head above water against an excellent run defense on the strength of two big gains. One of them came when MSU's crappy defensive tackle got creased on a run blitz. The other was a quarterback draw late when Michigan State backed off, uncharacteristically, and paid for it. With those two runs, Michigan crested 5 YPC against a top ten—maybe top five—defense. Without them, they barely exceeded 3 YPC.
Is that good? Bad? Ah hell I don't know. Denard is Denard and will rip off big gains if you keep feeding him the ball, and Toussaint's big run is the kind of thing that happens to super aggressive defenses when they get creased (and a walk-on WR gets his block on). In the end, 5 YPC is fair. Nard gonna Nard.
The good news is that Nebraska's defense is emphatically not Michigan State's.
Except when it is sometimes I guess? Nebraska blew it badly on one 80-yard Venric Mark touchdown. Other than that, Northwestern muddled along at about the same rate Wisconsin did. In half of Nebraska's games against BCS competition, they're Michigan State. In half, they're roadkill.
If there's a pattern you can draw from four games, it's spread 'n' shreds leaving tread marks all over the Cornhusker D. UCLA QB Brett Hundley is a run threat (9 carries for 66 yards) and opened Jonathan Franklin up for a 216-yard blitz. Braxton Miller almost cracked 200 himself and opened it up for Carlos Hyde to hit 140. Though not included in the table above, even winless Southern Miss saw quarterback Anthony Alford hit 84 yards on 15 carries… before getting pulled because he was also 1 of 5 for six yards. The Eagles hit 4.6 YPC on the day.
In a bizarre move, Northwestern all but abandoned the Kain Colter running game in favor of having Trevor Sieman throw 35 times, so they fit more in the Wisconsin mold than UCLA/OSU:
Nebraska made it very clear that they'd sit back in man free all game, and the Wildcats tried to beat them over the top time and again even though the Husker corners were locking down the Northwestern wideouts and quarterback Trevor Siemian lacked accuracy on his deep ball. The Wildcats threw 37 times and ran 38 times despite (1) playing against an awful run defense, and (2) holding a lead for most of the game.
WTFitz. Nebraska did hold Colter down on his few carries, FWIW.
Will Nebraska be able to do the same to Denard? Well… I'm doubtful. Ace saw Nebraska blitz twice in the first half and lay back in a bend-but-don't-break shell, likely because the shell-shocked Huskers were going back to basics after the OSU debacle. Nebraska's safeties, like Michigan State's, are active hitters in the run game, though, so if they're lining up nine yards off the LOS and coming down hard in an effort to replicate MSU's gameplan, trouble may ensue.
Emphasis on "may"—MSU's aggressiveness was effective instead of disastrous because Denicos Allen and Max Bullough are fast as hell and the MSU safeties are pretty good, as well. Nebraska only avoided a couple of long Denard Robinson touchdowns last year because Lavonte David played the same role as the MSU linebackers did last week: guy who makes shoestring tackle just as you're standing up to yell "GOOOOOOOOO." Lavonte David's not around anymore, and the Nebraska LB corps misses his athleticism. They're not bad—except when they are of course—but if a gap gets vacated or the sideline is tested they are less likely to be able to mitigate that damage with a super fast tackling machine. Stafford is a boom or bust SS, too, and could at any time wander off in the wrong direction as Denard screams upfield.
Key Matchup: Denard's ankles versus opponent's outstretched arms. There are going to be two or three moments in the game where Denard is setting sail for the endzone. Where you at, Will Compton? Are you Lavonte David walking through that door?
[Hit THE JUMP for WHAT THEY CAN SCORE THAT AIN'T RAIGHT]
Given the weak home schedule this year, I planned on creating a new feature on the site to detail my exploits in obtaining seats for every home game (by methods available to the hoi polloi) without ever paying a forced donation. Rule was I had to get two people into each game and sitting next to each other. Then I didn't bother for awhile because it would've been a lot of dividing by zero. To wit:
Air Force: I couldn't attend so I sent a correspondent, who then accepted a free ticket from somebody.
UMass: Offered one guy near the northeast entrance $10 each for his tickets and another guy interjected with two free ones.
Illinois: Family friend offered me a pair of his earlier in the week, then the day of the game both my designated game buddy (Misopogal) and the couple who owned the tickets decided it wasn't worth sitting in a rainstorm for this edition of Illinois, so I rolled solo with 4 tickets. I traded one to a student for his student ticket and 5 bucks 'cause the kid needed to get his buddy in, and sold the other two extras for $10 each outside the Stadium-Main entrance. I think I gave the student ticket away. Total: –$25.00
MSU: Bought two Row 11s from our new affiliate on Friday for $129 each plus $14 to have them FedEx'ed overnight (cheapest seat on Stubhub was $20 higher at the time even before their fees). Corner, but our endzone got most of the action.
Remaining home games are Iowa and Northwestern, and I'm at net $111. Guys, I think this is working.
DON'T MISS THESE:
The Thing About Purdue. In other useful though tardy things, the blogger formerly known as Blue Seoul (now ttifiblog) brought back the formerly weekly Game Wrap With Pics post for Purdue. Don't remember what that looks like? Like this:
…but bigger and legible and there's lots of them. Brian front-paged but those who went to see discovered some bad html. Now fixed; dig in. And welcome back, Diarist of the Week.
Denard Watch. As he climbs toward the big career marks, let's look back on some of the milestones already passed along this trail of hobbled safeties, heaving linebackers, flying shoes, sanctified endzones, flappitty laces, askew helmets, smile-curved mouthguards, and soaring dreads. Courtesy of jeepinben.
Kugler and some guys we're looking at. Everyone's looking for the next 2013 recruit with consensus 4 stars to start moving up boards, and Patrick Kugler's one of those dues. A couple of helpful readers got a scouting report on his recent game, plus those of three prospects.
[JUMP: Weeklies, Best of the Board, Waving things in front of Brian]
About Last Weekend:
Michigan State 10, Michigan 12
Apologies -- Spartyfreude is a little blurry. In any case, what are these people looking at? Oh I know. Anything but the scoreboard.
"You're good looking, and I'm good looking. We should be good looking together."
What TheOnlyColors and MaizeNBrew should do if they haven't done so already.
The Road Ahead:
Nebraska (5-2 overall, 2-1 B1G)
Last game: Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28 (W)
Recap: When a team plays Northwestern, no deficit is too great to overcome. This is a fundamental law of football. With his team down 12 points in the fourth quarter, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (27/39, 342 yards, 3 TD) led the Huskers offense on two 80-yard touchdown drives to eke out a win. The Wildcats had an opportunity near the end to regain the lead but, as they are wont to do, they missed a long field goal.
For Michigan, this wasn’t the ideal outcome. While Northwestern had a nice streak going and remains one of the B1G’s two bowl-eligible teams, it would have been preferable to contend at home with a hypothetical one-conference-loss Northwestern team for the division rather than go to Lincoln to play a critical tie-breaker (sort of) game against a one-conference-loss Nebraska. If Michigan loses this weekend it no longer controls its own destiny. But you knew that.
So let’s focus on why the Huskers were down 12 to the Wildcats in the first place. For one, they didn’t have much rhythm on offense until Martinez went pass-happy against Northwestern’s defense, which plays a 4-3-Gibson scheme. The run game never broke anything big with the longest run being 15 yards. Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah both got nearly 20 carries a piece and averaged 4.5 ypc, though the Wildcats have a decent run defense, so that’s not a total surprise.
Defensively they did a good job against most aspects of Northwestern’s attack – they kept Trevor Siemian (15/35, 116 yards, 2 TD) to 3.3 ypa and almost limited the Wildcats otherwise effective run game to less than three yards per carry … had it not been for one spectacular bust that allowed an 80-yard TD run by Venric Mark (16 carries, 118 yards, 1 TD) from a triple-option handoff up the middle. That the Blackshirts linebackers busted an assignment is an understatement.
As a final note, Nebraska turned the ball over three times over the course of the game. They fumbled twice (the one at the end was maybe meaningless) on offense and had one epic puntmuffin, which led immediately to a Northwestern touchdown.
Huskers fans prefer to downplay these mistakes, particularly the ones on special teams, when projecting how their team will do against upcoming opponents. Against Michigan, though, they won't be able to afford to play sloppy no matter how many yards they end up racking up on offense.
This team is as frightening as: The Detroit Tigers. Brilliant when in a groove but somewhat subject to horrifying derailment. Fear level = 6 +/-2.
Michigan should worry about: Limiting mistakes on the road at night. I think Brady Hoke and Al Borges have that down at the infuriating expense of offensive play calls that adjust intelligently to defensive scheme. This means that Michigan is just going to have to wait for the opponent to make mistakes on defense. I’m actually kind of okay with that in this case, because …
Michigan can sleep soundly about: I do not believe in Nebraska’s defense. Their most impressive performance to date has been against nobody. Serious. They’ve failed to hold any of their BCS opponents under 27 points. Maybe they did well against Wisconsin by holding Montee Ball to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, but that was when the Badgers were going through an offensive crisis that resulted in the defenestration of their offensive line coach.
Maybe the Huskers have an okay secondary and a couple playmakers in the front seven, but that does not an Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine-busting defense make.
When they play Michigan: Michigan will try to win on the ground; Nebraska will try to win through the air. The Huskers have at least four viable receiving options in their receivers and tight ends, and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary to stick to their assignments, particularly if Raymon Taylor isn’t 100%. Plus, Michigan is overdue for giving up a big WTF play or two on defense. On the bright side, if the Huskers can’t do it, no one left on the schedule save Ohio State will be able to.
Next game: vs. No. 22 Michigan.
Formation notes: MSU's defense is very simple, with few substitutions or wacky formations. They spent most of the game in a 4-3 even with linebackers shaded to the slot. Like so:
Shotgun 2TE twins for M
They would go into an okie package with two deep safeties on passing downs:
Shotgun 3-wide for M
When Michigan split their WRs this was the preferred look:
Also shotgun 3-wide
MSU screwed their corners down into press man and walked their safeties up to about nine yards deep, ready to roar downhill at any run action. You won't get any bubble complaints from me in this game—it wasn't there.
This is "Ace Triple Stack" as a reminder:
Yes, throwback screen obvs.
Substitution notes: Few surprises here. Line all starters; TE rotation about as it has been. No RBs other than Toussaint and Smith made appearances; Gardner was not announced as a starter and got a lot fewer snaps than he has previously. Speculation is he's carrying some sort of injury. Joe Reynolds got his first snaps in a heated situation—all were runs. More about that later.
[……IS BEHIND THE JUMP! There are lot of embeds this week and I've gotten some complaints that UFRs bog people's browsers down—hmmm wonder why—so taking most of the junk off the front page should help in that regard.]