if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
It took absolutely zero numbers to know that Denard was very very good against UConn Saturday. We could easily just leave the conversation there, but then I wouldn’t get to use my handy database this week, and really, what fun would that be.
First games are very hard to put into perspective right away. We really have no idea if we played against the future Big East Champions or a mediocre team from a mediocre conference. To solve this, I took two independent approaches. The first was to just strip out the strength of opponent factor and compare it to other performances regardless of opponent. The second way is to add the games from this weekend into the database as if they were a part of last season and use the 2009 adjustment factor.
Not to spoil all the fun but if you don’t want to read on, I’ll make this real easy. Those of you who follow me on twitter already saw that Saturday was the best performance by Michigan quarterback that I have on record, which is almost every game since 2003.
On The Ground: +12 PAN
Without adjusting for competition for anyone, Robinson’s day on the ground was the best rushing game by a Michigan player in my database. It was .01, basically tied with, ahead of Mike Hart’s 2004 game against Illinois when we went for 231 yards on 39 carries.
It was the third best rushing performance of anyone under Rodriguez as a head coach. Only Pat White’s +14 against Pitt in 2005 and Kay-Jay Harris’s +16 against East Carolina in 2004 were better.
It was the third best ground performance by a Big Ten player, the 27th best of any quarterback and the 90th best overall, including many performances against teams much weaker than UConn.
Through The Air: +9 PAN
+9 through the air is a very good day by itself, even without the spectacular +12 on the ground. In fact, the unadjusted +9 is 15th among Michigan passers. Ahead of him are 10 Henne games, 2 Navarre games and Forcier’s first two games of last year.
In his three years under Rodriguez, Pat White had four +9 performances, as did Rasheed Marshall.
Putting it All Together: +21 PAN
Looking at the total performance, Dernard cracks the top 200 performances list that is dominated by heavy passers. When accounting for competition, Denard still comes up 7/11 PAN (7 passing, 11 rushing). Only three BCS conference players had ever done that before Denard on Saturday. Brad Smith and Jake Locker each did it once while Vince Young managed the feat three times.
Getting First Downs
Maybe the most impressive thing about Denard’s day was his ability to get first downs, especially on third down. Excluding the final run out the clock drive, Robinson was good for 12 first downs rushing. Only two QB’s since 2003 have ever topped that and 12 is good for top 50 including running backs.
On third down, Robinson’s seven rushing conversions were the fourth most since 2003. His 11 overall conversions were top 20.
If you took Labor Day off from blog reading, too, and are looking for game column, here it is: Simply the Repairman.
If you are looking for This Week In Schadenfreude, it now lives at SBNation: Ole Miss Finds Out It's A Trap.
Also, the Blogpoll has a facebook fan page you should check out/follow if you're interested in its goings-on.
Due to the holiday UFR may be a bit late this week, but I'm going to try like the dickens to get the offense up by some point tomorrow; this means it might be a little light this afternoon.
Obviously two things:
- Depending on whether or not BHGP likes it, this is either an homage to or straight ripoff of their posts in this vein, down to J Leman's presence. I have tried to make this up to them in the content. Also, the J Leman picture was first brought to the world in those Big Ten team previews I used to do.
- I can't confirm that this is true, if you know what I mean.
INT. CLANDESTINE NORTH CAMPUS GENETICS LAB—MEETING ROOM. 1992
A conference table is surrounded by hooded figures. One throws back the hood, revealing himself to be STEPHEN ROSS, super rich guy. Also seated are JAMES EARL JONES, sith lord, and DOOMED J. SCIENTIST, a scientist.
Yes, yes, disturbing. For the record, I do too. You have created a mindless abomination that can accelerate to full speed in half a second, stop on a dime, and juke like there's no tomorrow. Shoot it in he head.
INT. CLANDESTINE NORTH CAMPUS GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1992.
INT. CLANDESTINE URBANA GENETICS LAB—SUB-BASEMENT B1. 1999.
Another meeting room. BOB ZOOK, Ron Zook's evil but lazy twin, and a DUCK discuss dark matters.
You had better hope this plot works better than your last dozen, Zook. My patience runs thin. My pit of ravenous piranhas grows hungry. We must repay our arch-rivals for the generations who have endured nothing but humiliation!
[Tom Brady tries to remember all of the teams in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, GHOSTLY APPARITIONS of James Earl Jones and LAWRENCE KASDAN materialize nearby…]
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO DESMOND HOWARD'S DISEMBODIED LEGS? WILL BOB ZOOK FACE HIS COMEUPPANCE? WILL TOM BRADY'S BEAUTIFUL FACE BE MANGLED? WILL BLACK HEART GOLD PANTS ORGANIZE A DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK ON MGOBLOG? STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE INTEGRATION AND INFILTRATION. TOMORROW!
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
Performance of the Week:
MI WR Shawn Conway
Last Week: Seaholm came back to beat Andover 35-21. Conway was the star, and I was there, so enjoy the highlights:
(Apologies for the lack of HD and production value in editing - the MGoAccess to equipment is no more. If you want that to return... you know where to find the Beveled Guilt button).
By my count, Conway finished with six receptions for 134 yards (22 ypc), including a 60-yard touchdown. He also had one punt return, which he took back 65 yards for a touchdown. Defensively, he had one pass breakup (would have been a 96-yard pick-6 if he had realized it was third down, not fourth) and five tackles.
Now for the scouting report: Conway was by far the best athlete on the field, and the second-tallest guy on either team (Seaholm has one massive offensive lineman). The Maples' quarterback was as bad as advertised, and even his "good" passes downfield were wobblers. For that reason, Conway had three purposes on offense: 1) Catch screens 2) Run fly or post routes for hopeful jump balls 3) Serve as a distraction for the defense, either by alignment or by running deep to open the field underneath.
He was effective in all three roles, and with a good QB situation, he could pile up huge numbers. A lot of the hopeful jump balls came on plays he was behind the defense, but had to slow down or stop to let the ball get to him. He didn't come down with any passes by leaping above defenders, but he didn't really get a chance due to the passing. You can find full game highlights here.
Conway also came in for a round of fluff from the Detroit News this week:
Fahr was up front with the Michigan coaches and told them of the incident at Seaholm. "I did not hold anything from them," he said. "He got caught. I got guardianship of him and I think I can turn him around. I told him if I don't do it, then drop him. They said we believe in you and we are going to trust you."
Conway knows he has a fresh chance in life and vows to take advantage. He is not certain what he wants to study in college, but is leaning toward engineering. His goal is to play in the NFL and make a better life for his family.
The rest of the story centers around his adoption by Seaholm coach Chris Fahr. It's a great story, and I strongly suggest you click through to read the whole thing.
|Shawn Conway 2010|
|North Farmington||W 26-6||4||32||8.00||1||3||137||45.67||1|
This week: The Maples travel to Bloomfield Hills Lahser at 7pm on Friday.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona fell to Harmony, 17-50. Sousa has lost Matt Mendez, who was projected to be one of his top WR targets this season, for the year with an MCL tear. That could limit his stats a bit - especially considering the Lions had 11 drops(!) of Sousa passes on Friday. Our very own TomVH caught up with Sousa to get his stats:
17 of 39 for 256 passing, 2 TDs
15 rushes for 184 yards.
There should be highlights on Youtube sometime this week.
This week: Lake Nona heads to Oak Ridge at 7:30pm on Friday.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's defeated Birmingham Brother Rice 17-14. No mention of Miller in the article (caution though: Prepseer is a huge Brother Rice and Michigan State homer).
This week: St. John's hosts Sandusky at 7 on Saturday at Toledo Rogers High School.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Last week: Traverse City West was pounded by Grandville 42-14. Fisher caught a touchdown pass:
Brett Kenny finished off a nine-play, 70-yard drive in just 1:30 with a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jake Fisher on a well-executed fake hand-off and quick hit over the middle. That knotted things up at 14-14 with 26 ticks left in the opening half.
There are 2009 stats on the TC West website, so hopefully as the season goes on, they'l start having 2010 stats as well.
This week: TC West hosts Essex (Ontario) at 5pm on Friday.
FL OL Tony Posada
This week: Plant hosts Hillsborough on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Chris Rock
Last week: St. Francis DeSales crushed Maumee 41-0. No mention of Rock in the article.
This week: DeSales welcomes New Albany at 7:30 on Friday.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
Last week: Plymouth fell to Howell, 10-18. Beyer forced a fumble in the game, though the game article gives the impression that Howell was focusing on him on the other side of the ball, limiting him from being involved in the offense.
This week: Plymouth faces Wayne on Friday at 7pm.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: St. Pius X was blasted by Sealy, by a score of 6-57. Thanks to reader Michael Scott for pointing me toward a site where I could find scores of Jones's games. Also, thanks to our very own TomVH, I have full stats for both of the last two games. Apparently, St. Pius X threw four interceptions and took a safety, so it was a terrible game for them offensively. Jones had 13 tackles and two forced fumbles.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
This week: St. Pius X plays Episcopal on Friday at 7:30.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Greg Brown, Tylor Trautwein and Co. are doing a great job leading this team. Leading by example, I might add.
No other mentions of Brown, though Whitmer apparently covered him very well on offense.
This week: The Little Giants travel to Tiffin to face Columbian at 7:30 on Friday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Next Week: Cass Tech travels to Denby on Friday at 4pm.
MGoBlog Ballot - Week 2
|1||Boise St. Broncos||4|
|2||Ohio St. Buckeyes||-1|
|3||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|4||TCU Horned Frogs||7|
|12||Florida St. Seminoles||2|
|13||Virginia Tech Hokies||-4|
|17||Oregon St. Beavers||3|
|18||Penn St. Nittany Lions||6|
|20||North Carolina Tar Heels||-3|
|21||Notre Dame Fighting Irish||--|
|Dropouts: Auburn Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, Stanford Cardinal, Washington Huskies, Connecticut Huskies, West Virginia Mountaineers|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
- Yes, Boise #1. They beat a good BCS-conference team in a virtual road game.
- I might be dinging Oklahoma a bit too much. Utah State could out together a Idaho-like run this year, and actually be a decent win by the end of the year. On the other hand, typically high-flying Oklahoma beat them by single digits at home.
- Should I move Texas down a little bit?
- I'm totally fine moving Florida down that much. They didn't crack triple digits in total yardage until well into the second half. And this came at home against a crap Miami (NTM) team.
- I considered leaving Michigan off my ballot so as to not tempt the CK award, but they were one of the few teams to curbstomp BCS-conference competition (and the Huskies were being talked about as a Big East Title contender before Saturday).
- Everything else looks OK to me. Let me know where I've gone horribly wrong.
Following Rich Rodriguez's time with the media yesterday, we also talked to TE Kevin Koger, RB Mike Shaw, LB Obi Ezeh, and DL Ryan Van Bergen.
"I think a couple people were shocked, because not a lot of people picked us to win." He was pleased with the team's performance.
Denard's performance - "I know he was doing what the coaches were coaching him to do." With his speed, if he doesn't need to stop his feet nobody will catch him. When Denard came in last year, teams knew it was a run. Now, they can't expect that. "He did take a lot of hits on Saturday, he did get hurt once."
"If it ain't broke don't fix it." The run worked well on Saturday, no need to worry about chucking the ball downfield more often. Teams have put 8 men in the box to stop the run. They might put more DBs in the box. "You really can't tell until you watch film." When they do that, you'll see more passing.
The big focus for WRs and TEs in offseason was dropped passes. They needed to work on their focus, ad it's paying off.
Everybody wants to make their blocks on every play, so it's not their guy that makes a tackle. Big play ability is always there with Michigan's team speed. Have to make your blocks "that could be the difference, so you never know." Downfield blocking "all comes down to effort. If you want to block, you block. If you don't [want to], you don't."
Kevin could notice a difference in crowd noise with the new boxes. You can hear the echoes off the boxes. "I think 113,000+ had a lot to do with it also."
Kevin traveled but didn't play a couple years ago at Notre Dame. He's ready to experience it for the first time. Players talk about "how loud it was and how tall the grass was."
"It was a good game. Coming out with a packed crowd like that, it was a lot of nerves, but we got through it and had a good showing against UConn."
"So far, so good" for Denard. "You never expect anybody to go out and have the game that he did." When he pulls the ball down, he's as good as a running back. If he stays healthy and everyone keeps blocking for him, it'll be all good. "Anybody can get a big run in this offense. It's so spread out." UConn wasn't ready for Denard's speed. Once teams key on Denard, it'll open up lanes for others. "As of September 4th, it was Denard's show." It's hard to compare Denard's command of the offense from last year. "What the coaches asked him to do, he did well - more than well."
Coaches look for stability and consistency in RBs. Shaw and Smith didn't fumble, etc. in camp, which put them ahead. There was no discussion of who was going to go in "when our numbers were called, we just went in there and did our thing." He's always hard on himself after a game. "I feel that I have a lot of room for improvement," especially in blocking and hitting creases harder.
He's talked to Roundtree, and they watched the play on which he got injured. Roundtree was thrilled to be involved in a big hit - he likes to be in on the action.
The O-line was a huge plus - even more than Denard. They've made big strides over the past couple years. They'll lead to a lot of big plays this year.
As for his academic situation in fall camp: "I am a student-athlete, and to not be eligible is not something I think the University of Michigan would stand for."
It's always a rowdy crowd at ND. Both teams have a lot to prove. "A lot of attention in the national spotlight."
The first three-and-out "that was nice" UConn's hurry-up didn't work out to start the game. "Our coaches got us really prepared for that game."
Fumble recovery - "In the right place at the right time, and kinda had my wits about me.... Kinda reminded me of the Michigan State game last year, when I had a fumble recovery and got smacked in the face."
The D-line was amazing. "A lot of people don't really hear about the efforts those guys put out." Hopes Martin knows that he appreciates the effort.
"I'm my worst critic," but Jonas played awesome. He was getting in the backfield, wreaking havoc, reading his keys, everything gelling well. "I felt comfortable out there too." Everyone makes mistakes - not perfect but a good game.
"Obviously things didn't go the way you wanted or you planned last year," and Obi used that for motivation. "I just want to win." All the seniors want to leave a legacy. There are more important things than last year.
The time of possession helped the defense. "It's fun when you don't have to play like 80-some plays a game." There will be times that Mich doesn't dominate possession, and the D is in good enough shape to handle that.
ND - Big game, big stage. Want to make a statement. "With that all being said, it's still a game, and just like last week you need to prepare, focus in, and practice hard." Everybody has a different version of the spread, so you have to prepare for ND differently. ND has explosive players at their disposal. "Our coaches are gonna come in with a gameplan obviously and we're just gonna focus in and execute to the best of our abilities."
Ryan Van Bergen
Did the team make a statement on opening day? "I think we did a pretty good job. I wouldn't say we had a performance that was perfect." There's a long season to progress, and young guys will come along during the season.
"I probably thought that in spring ball, probably first or second week" that Denard had really come along as a passer. He's accurate, which he struggled with last year. Completing passes will open up the run for him.
DL Coach Bruce Tall tries to rotate guys in and out along the line, to give the starters a rest. Even with the defense out there a long time, they can have depth and stay fresh. Mike Barwis has done a fantastic job with conditioning. Everybody on DL is leaps ahead of last year - which means a lot because they were in great shape last year too.
Position change "My role hasn't changed that much. It's a little bit nicer that I don't have to worry about a double team every play." BG gave him a lot of help.
He's "absolutely" happy to see somebody else have to chase Denard around.
Pressure on the QB. "Obviously I don't think we recorded a sack. We did a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing some bad throws." UConn went heavy protect a lot of times, but they're hungry to get some sacks.
Obi - "He just really resilient. He's gonna come back just as hard if not harder if he makes a mistake." Always a leader. He and jonas both motivated. Rubs off on the rest of the d.
Secondary - "I they played well." Don't have a veteran back there who's a bigtime leader. Those guys played well, weren't deer-in-headlights. Bounced back if they gave up any big plays.
Note: some of this is pretty elderly due to the season preview extravaganza last week.
Hey… like… does anyone have ND tickets they want to sell to their favorite blogger? Email me if so.
ND Week. Here we go.
Funny. The Funny or Die guys are Michigan alums, you know. They've got a movie premiering at the Michigan Theater October 8th. They also have a Ralph Williams shirt:
Zero. The Fulmer Cup has closed, and Michigan's score checks in at zero. Woo! This follows their one point from last year (Boubacar Cissoko's disorderly conduct charge) and their two from '08 (Darryl Stonum's DUI), and just goes to show what a program of renegades Rodriguez is building around these parts.
The Cup only runs in the offseason and therefore missed Justin Feagin's Bogus Journey, but since Michigan State would have put up 40 points from the Posse Roundup & Engineer/Woman Beatdown, a Fulmer Cup that ran year-round would have been awesome.
Georgia is your champion, by the way, finally breaking through with their innovative system of suspended licenses.
That ain't right. Barking Carnival points out this breakdown of the ESPNU 150:
That can't be right. BC points out USA Today's helpful database on NFL draft picks and says California—home of the most NFL draft picks since '88—gets disrespected, but doesn't go into the numbers. I added and divided and came up with this:
|Region||NFL Picks||NFL %||ex(150)||Actual 150|
Everywhere except Texas gets dissed by a wildly unbalanced ESPN ranking system. Maybe not by as much as that suggests since population's been slowly moving out of the Midwest, but that only explains one small slice of the lack of balance. The South does have the most talent, but not to the extent suggested by ESPN.
Raise them well.
In which insulting letters are sent to Jon Voigt. The final edition of Six Zero's series of profiles on mgo-denizens covers yrs truly. Marvel at the pratfall in which the blog's genesis can be found! Relive the acquisition of the press pass! Discover my favorite food! Explore the ways in which my life is like Kathy Griffins! No, not plastic surgery! Find out in what fashion Jon Voigt is insulted! Be relieved at this bit if you're one of those people who frets I might go work for ESPN!
I really hope MGoBlog is my job for life as long as we start going to bowls on the regular in the near future. Insufficient emphasis. I desperately want MGoBlog to be my job until I retire. I've rarely been so attuned with a fictional character as when Sterling Cooper was trying to get Don Draper to sign a contract, and when he actually signed it and was immediately slapped in the face with it I felt it was cosmically justified. So... yeah. It will take a lot to do something else.
Etc.: This is probably the oldest thing but it was awesome if you haven't seen it: Bobmurph deploys xtranormal in the service of truth re: Big Ten Divisions. Nick Saban on talent: "I don't know where we're stockpiling all this stuff at, but we've got room for lots more." Jesus.
- Roy Roundtree and Carvin Johnson are doubtful for Notre Dame
- Second-team FS/holder Jared Van Slyke (a walkon) is out for the year.
- Junior Hemingway is expected back.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint may or may not play against ND.
After the game, Rodriguez got to spend time with Brock's family, and before, he saw the end of Brock's walk.
Managing from execution standpoint first thing you want. Can run the ball and get first downs, not as necessary to throw downfield for big plays. Can block downfield better. Consistency in blocking need to improve the most. Guys were in the right place, but didn't sustain blocks, or didn't get downfield. Didn't get downfield as well as we're capable. On D - just lost contain a couple times. Special teams were very average. KOR and KO units were below average.
Worked so hard on the passing game because they knew UConn was going to bring safeties down to help against the run. "Watching the film, we played hard, we played well at at times, and we took care of the football offensively." Can still execute a lot better on O. Not having big plays on offense gave the defense rest with long drives, but Rodriguez would prefer to execute well enough to get the big plays.
On Denard: "He graded out relatively high. He made a few mistakes, which you would expect in his first game as a starter." Made a couple negative-yardage plays. You rarely see a first-time starter command the game like he did.
Shaw and Smith: "They ran better than they blocked." Usually they're better blockers. Wish they could get back the negative-yardage plays. The other backs need to prove themselves better in practice to play.
Pretty much satisfied with the offensive line play. Liked the effort. No "high grades" on the OL - partially because it's tougher to grade out well with Coach Frey. "A couple guys didn't play nearly as well as we thought they would," both at the point of attack and on the second level, but they were solid as a group.
The defense had a few plays they'd like to have back. "We got what we thought we'd get." ND will be a bigger challenge than UConn. Tackled pretty well, only a few missed assignments.
Muffed punts - "This year is this year, last year is last year." It was Gallon's first game action, and it came on a windy day with a tough punt. "He'll be fine. I have no concerns whatsoever." Not worried about kickers' performances in the wind. Drew Dileo mishandled the missed extra point.
Roy Roundtree is listed as doubtful with internal bruising, they'll re-check him later in the week. Carvin Johnson is "very doubtful" with a sprained knee. Junior Hemingway should be able to go, but they won't know until later this week.
Still concerned with youth of team. Guys will get beat up. The outside people have been saying whatever "You go in our building, it's been a little bit different the whole time."
Denard - "He's a pretty humble guy anyway. I'll talk to him about staying humble. I think that's in his nature anyway." Just one bad day away from being a goat. Positive press is like poison - it's OK as long as you don't swallow it. He needs to trust timing and progression before he takes off. He has been getting better at that, and did very well Saturday.
Denard was sharp - "My concern coming in was the wind more than anything else." Biggest thing was where his eyes were going to be. If their eyes are in the right place, they'll make the right decision. "He's smart enough to figure out that hey, you're just one bad play away from everybody saying 'you can't do this' or 'you can't do that'." Guys know it's a big stage.
"You could sense earlier on that [Denard] is a guy who, not only does he have the physical abilities, but he has the type of mental makeup you'd like to have at the position." It all comes with learning. Denard and Tate will still have some mistakes, have growing to do, but they have bright futures. "I'm always concerned with our players' concerns. That's what coaches do." It's a team game, not an individual game. TV may try to sensationalize something.
Is Rodriguez concerned about Tate? "Why? Is there a reason to? Oh." Coach wasn't making a big issue out of it - TV was. It's no surprise that he's disappointed to not play. "I want all my players to be happy all the time. Inevitably, 110 of them probably won't be. If we win, you expect most of them to be happy or fake it. I don't blame guys for being unhappy if they don't play. That's human nature." RR will talk to the QBs, "There shouldn't be any problems... If he crosses the line as far as being a team player, we'll worry about that."
Devin - "We think that Devin has proven that he's ready to play." He's at the point where he'll help win games this year.
Probably could have repped more OL in the game. Players have to give the staff confidence that they'll be able to execute.
Obi - "Yeah, I thought he played pretty well. I really did." Jonas Mouton and Mark Moundros played well, too.
Young DBs have been getting a lot of reps, they have to "grow up in a hurry." They'll have great futures, just need to get them ready. Pleased with play of Floyd and Rogers. "JT's continued his performance. We think he's been pretty good all camp." Team is thin in secondary, esp. losing Carvin Johnson. Put the next guy in and see what happens. Thomas Gordon played well, Floyd Simmons will get some play "We have a lot of confidence in Floyd."
Competition at PK is still ongoing.
Brian Kelly's scheme - "There's a lot of similarities. Studying them and studying us, every spread has a little different emphasis at certain times." RR's spread is a bit more run nowadays. Cincy pass, now at ND looks like he'll mix it up a bit. They'll study last year's ND film for personnel, but coaching staff is new so have to see what those guys did at previous stops. Both teams will run a bit of stuff that they didn't last week. Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph are big weapons, but they have talented RBs and QB as well. Have to tackle well in space against ND. "If we can't get 'em on the ground, and we can't cover 'em..."
ND 3-4 look, sometimes 4-man front. "Everybody's multiple defensively. nobody runs one front and run coverage anymore." They brought some pressure, but mostly worked to contain Purdue's players last week.
RR has only played Kelly one time. Played at Cincy in 2007. Dews worked with Kelly for a year at Central, so there's some familiarity there. He's had great success. They have a lot of talent. They recruit nationally, even if they haven't been pleased with the record the past few years.
ND - "I'm sure their players and our players understand it's a rivalry." This is the first rivalry game each season. A section of West Mich is always asking about ND. New coach, lots of excitement.
At ND Stadium "They are very passionate about football. Every seat will be taken. Theyr'e into the game. It's a very intimate setting." Always seems to be raining when RR goes there "The grass is high - because of the rain, I guess." Younger players - "We've got to get them to grow up in a hurry." Have to learn to keep your poise, and have a sense of maturity on the road. 25 or 26 guys on the travel squad for their first road trip.
Noise is biggest challenge "We'll crank it up this week, and try to get our skill guys offensively to get used to the crowd noise." Very crisp against UConn, doesn't expect any against ND.
Keys to winning: 1) take care of the football. Lost the game with that last time at ND. 2) Understand you'll face adversity - they'll make plays. 3) Don't give up big plays, because they have big play talent. 4) Make big plays offensively ourselves.
It helps to have Division-1 experience when you start coaching at a bigtime institution. "It's invaluable coaching at the small-school level." You have to worry about all the details of running the program. Have to learn very quickly from a recruiting and teaching standpoint. "Sometimes you have to get creative." Try new things, which will be innovative at the higher levels. Rodriguez and Kelly are both familiar with that.
The game was obviously a success, and that has resonated through with the recruits in attendance. Here's a look at how this past weekend's visits went, and some reactions to the game from recruits. There's not many quotes from the first three, because I only spoke with them briefly, and Avery Walls is still in Ann Arbor.
5'8, 190 lbs.
We'll just start off with the update you've been anticipating. Demetrius Hart decided not to commit this weekend. He came up with his uncle, teammates Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix and Nick Patti, as well as Tom Shaw (his trainer).
I will tell you that I thought this would be the weekend he would end his recruitment. I know this was a very good visit for him, and there's still no reason to believe that anything has changed as far as where he ranks Michigan (which is number one).
I don't have any deep meaningful quotes from him, but I did talk to him briefly. He's graduating early, so he has to make his decision soon. I wouldn't be surprised if he took a few more visits to other schools, and came back up to Ann Arbor for the MSU or Iowa game. Disappointing that nothing happened this weekend, but definitely a positive weekend for Michigan with his recruitment as a whole. Just stay patient.
6'2, 190 lbs.
I spoke with Ha'Sean before the visit took place. He told me that he didn't want the visit publicized too much, and if it got out there that he was coming he might not go. As we all know it was reported everywhere that he would be in Ann Arbor, and he still came. Maybe he doesn't browse the interwebs, I'm not sure.
Anyhow, speaking with a few people about him makes me feel like he's pretty solid with Alabama. That's not to say that it would be impossible to sway him, it would just take quite a bit to do that. If Demetrius makes another trip up to Michigan and Ha'Sean were to come with him, there would be reason for excitement. I've been told that there may be some teammates (possibly former as well) trying to persuade him to go north. We'll just have to wait to see how it plays out.
5'11, 185 lbs.
Avery's visit will last until today (Monday), so we'll have to wait a little bit for an update on the visit. I wouldn't expect a commitment from him, but if the visit blows him away it's not out of the question. I have a feeling that Michigan is in the driver's seat. This is his third trip to Ann Arbor.
This time he brought his brother with him to have him see what he's been talking about. He will continue to take his planned official visits to Oregon on October 2nd, and Cal on October 9th. He wants to make sure he's found the right fit and I think taking those official visits is important to him. Again, be patient. Michigan is a good spot.
- AJ Jordan - 2011 wide receiver from Trotwood, Ohio was in attendance. He thought very highly of the game and atmosphere, and will eventually take an official visit in Ann Arbor. Wisconsin is barely in the lead right now, and this visit has helped to close that gap.
- Danny O'Brien & Matt Godin - 2012 defensive tackles and best friends! They both had an amazing time at the game. Danny said, "(Mike) Martin is a beast. The defense looked good. Me and Matt both had a great time, it was an awesome game." They both REALLY like Michigan, but it's still early. O'Brien already has offers from Tennessee and Michigan.
- Nick Patti - 2012 quarterback from Dr. Phillips in Orlando, Florida. This was Patti's second time up to AA, and it was a good one. "It was great for me, I loved it. It's hard not to like it there," he said. Tom Shaw (who trains Nick, Demetrius, Ha'Sean, Karlos Williams, etc.) accompanied Nick on the visit, and also had a favorable view. "Tom (Shaw) said he thinks it's a fantastic opportunity if it's presented to me."
- Anthony Zettel - Anthony always enjoys himself at Michigan, and this game was much of the same. I've said this before, but Anthony is now waiting until the end of the season to make his decision. He's waiting to see how Michigan's season turns out, and if there ends up being a coaching controversy. This win is one step closer to landing him.
- The general feeling among the recruits was that this was a great win, and it was an exciting game. The crowd played a big factor too as some recruits said it was so loud they couldn't hear the person next to them at some points. Denard is not only a fan favorite, but a recruit favorite as well. His performance stood out to everybody, and had all the recruits talking about how exciting he is to watch.
9/4/2010 – Michigan 30, UConn 10 – 1-0
First there were those two years of almost unrelenting misery. Then there was this offseason, the third consecutive in which seemingly every week saw another stomach-churning burst of negative publicity for things that don't matter very much individually but aggregate like nanorobots gone awry. Then there was all that sitting in the stadium as described on Saturday, envisioning different ways the future could play out, giving each a letter grade and having no grasp of which were likelier than others. Then there was Keith Jackson and a ribbon-cutting and a flyover and fireworks (Amurrica!). Then there was this:
There was a brief moment where I discreetly wiped my eyes and hoped no one was looking, and then there was another flyover.
By the coin toss I was bobbing up and down on an imaginary pogo stick, trying to do anything with the energy that threatened to shut my brain off. I was hyped up, yo. The only thing I can remember like it was Football Armageddon. It's probably for the best that I didn't have anything handy to headbutt.
I had no idea what was going to happen, but there were grades for all of it.
A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++. Would watch again.
What was it like for Auburn fans the first time they saw Bo Jackson? For Georgia fans when they saw Herschel Walker? Was it like that?
I can't recall anything similar in the Michigan canon. Braylon had 80 yards against Washington, Hart 124 against San Diego State. Breaston touched the ball eight times. Manningham did once. I'm too young to remember Wheatley's debut. Defensive players are too infrequently involved, and their jobs too arcane, to have the same obvious impact. Receivers, too—even a stellar debut will see the guy touch the ball maybe ten times. It's an accomplishment for quarterbacks when their first starts don't end in flaming disaster.
It's only at running back that you can unearth some guy three standard deviations above the norm at various forms of moving, put him on the field, and give everyone the epiphany of awesome.
But even the debut of one of those Godzilla running backs doesn't compare because Denard Robinson had a Godzilla tailback debut and was one late fourth down conversion away from setting a Michigan Stadium record for completion percentage. Last year he was so clueless he couldn't run the offense, so transparently not a quarterback he went 14 of 31 with four interceptions on the season and played wide receiver against Ohio State.
So I think this might be literally true: Denard Robinson's performance against UConn was the greatest leap from one game to the next in Michigan history. Possibly college football history. He went from a guy who could not run the offense or throw the ball to one of the greatest statistical achievements* in the history of the program.
Nothing, not even the ludicrous fever dreams on message boards that rivals fans point at and laugh, could keep pace. Expectation was left in the dust by the end of the first quarter. The reasonable best case scenario fell away on the first drive of the second half when Robinson whipped a ball over the middle for sixteen yards on third and eleven. The possibility this was all a dream gave it up on Michigan's final drive when Robinson rolled out and lofted a touch pass to Kevin Koger. Not even fever dreams have that kind of audacity.
By the end, all that was left was reality, as unrecognizable as it is. Rival fans are reduced to stammering "buh-buh-but he'll get injured" in the hopes that will happen before Robinson gets a crack at their defense; 7-5 seems… eh… doable. After last year everyone's fighting to keep their hopes in check; this is proving very difficult indeed.
I kept biting myself in the second quarter, just to check about the fever dream bit. You build all this up in your mind before the season, think about the way things can go, say "Anything can happen, and the wait is over," and then find out you didn't really believe it. This was not part of the anything after all the months leading up to the pogo stick moment a minute before kickoff.
Because at some point around five minutes left, the energy drained out of the stadium. When Edsall called a timeout to get the ball back it was irritating and people booed. With a minute and a half left, I thought about the cold and what I should eat. I was bored, and thanks to that now I can't stand how far away next Saturday is.
*(313 against Ohio State still wins, I think, but it's hard to come up with anything else.)
PREBULLET SECTION OF REASSURANCE! Repeat after me: this was not last year's Notre Dame game.
- UConn is likely better than that Notre Dame team; they beat them last year and returned sixteen starters from that 8-5 team that was so close to a major breakthrough, which is why everyone was calling them a sleeper until the point they were no longer that.
- Michigan won that game with ten seconds left after Charlie Weis called a first-down bomb needing just one first down to kill the clock.
- They got a free, highly irreproducible touchdown from Darryl Stonum.
- They were outgained by 60 yards in that ND game; total yardage Saturday was 473-343, with 42 of UConn's yards on their pointless final drive.
A quick list of downers:
- The Gibbons/Dileo pairing had serious issues. The missed XP was definitely on Dileo and the missed FG seemed like a bad snap, too. Van Slyke's return may actually be more important than you might otherwise expect.
- Burned redshirts have driven me crazy forever and a couple the tossed ones this year boggle the mind: Ray Vinopal played on special teams and Dileo held, though that one may have been forced. I'm not going to throw a hissy about Gardner since when Mike Forcier is saying they "knew there would be disciplinary action" it sounds like Rodriguez was faced with an unpleasant choice between doing the logical thing for your program and enforcing squad discipline, but if Michigan goes into 2014 without a redshirt senior Gardner that will be a major missed opportunity.
- I was irritated they played Will Campbell on special teams because he could redshirt if he's not even second team at NT. This is bad for multiple reasons.
- UConn's quick snap on fourth and goal was a little grrr aarrgh.
- Zero sacks (though Roh should have been given one on a Frazer rollout). Michigan didn't get much pressure from the front three. They did manage to get there with some blitzes but I don't recall anyone beating a UConn lineman straight up. (Roh avoided a cut block from an RB.)
And now that we're done with that:
- One penalty! Three fumbles is more of a downer, but add it up and that was a clean performance.
- Offensive production was considerably understated (and defensive production overstated) by how short the game was in terms of possession. Michigan had eight real drives. I'm not sure what the overall NCAA number is but it must be pretty close to the 11.3 the Big 12 put up last year. If Michigan had 11.3 drives they'd be expected to put up 42 points, which is a lot of points. Yes.
- I hate time of possession. It is a unicorn stat. But people might talk about it a lot this year since Michigan had two drives in this game that ate up more than half a quarter. And given their situation that ability might prove useful: how awesome was it that Michigan got the ball back with nine minutes left and essentially ended the game? How much more awesome would it have been if they were up just seven points?
- Running back concern is overstated. Their YPC was hurt considerably by the final drive, during which they plowed into the line to run clock time and again. Also, Shaw in particular seemed like he had to cut behind a defensive lineman slanting right into the play every time he got a handoff. I thought managing to avoid this guy and get positive yardage consistently was an accomplishment. That say something in UConn's scheme or the play of the line has to be addressed, though.
- It was odd that Hopkins never got in but as the game wore on it became clear that UConn couldn't hold a QB lead draw under five yards, let alone one. I do hope he gets unearthed in the future since those carries are usually low upside and if we're going to spare Robinson some hits it shouldn't be on first and ten. Or, you know, third and fifteen.
- Speaking of, it was a really weird experience for Michigan to run a QB draw in that down and distance and not have that moment of hate during it. My immediate reaction was "yeah, that seems like a decent idea." This was early, though, and it had not yet been established that Denard was capable of going 9 of 22, let alone 19 of 22.
- I have never seen two guys running wide open in as much space as Stonum and Robinson did on the late Robinson-to-Robinson connection. There was one safety trying to figure out which guy to cover and literally no one else for twenty yards. RPS +3, baby. That's the kind of thing that happens in these offenses when the quarterback is such a threat on the ground. When Pat White threw deep, most of the time he was doing so to wide open guys. It's like when Debord ran a waggle for big yardage, except the base offense's run game picks up like six yards a play.
- Speaking of: welcome to Michigan, Terrance Robinson. May you dream shake someone in the near future. (Conversely: surprising lack of Grady, no?)
- After Roundtree went out, there were a few plays on which the skill position guys were Terrance Robinson, Odoms, Grady, Smith, and Stonum. It looked like the Lollipop Guild had run out there, featuring Stonum as Dorothy.
- Mouton's getting good reviews and certainly seemed to be playing well. He brought the lumber on a couple tackles. I wonder if UConn's burst of run competence was Carvin Johnson-injury related?
- The reports on band amplification have varied so wildly that the effectiveness of it must vary significantly based on your location. From section 44 it sounded pretty bad, with a clear delay between the actual band and the speakers; I couldn't hear anything except the drums on the amplification. At least Special K was prevented from doing anything except playing "Don't Stop Believin'" after the first quarter.
Unfortunately, I think that might be an artifact of the jam-packed dedication festivities. There's no time for that old time rock 'n' roll when you're running down the top five plays in Michigan Stadium history (which by the way: no Wangler to Carter? WTF, internet?), introducing a bunch of program icons and Greg Mathews, and so forth and so on. Unless they continue to fill those gaps with stuff, Lose Yourself threatens a return. They should just pick a top five list every week: top five catches. Top five runs. Interceptions, fumbles, comebacks, etc.
- Also: Slippery Rock scores return. I credit Brandon.
AnnArbor.com photo gallery. Ring of terror. Denard as QB EAGLES. The HSR takes a look at some stats. MVictors has some extra stadium details and bullet points on the goings-on, plus an outstanding SNL reference:
My Q&A session would have gone something like this:
Me: “Do you remember when…umm, Denard ran up and down the field a bunch of times?”
Rich Rod: “Yes.”
Me: “That was so cool.”
The B-25 Mitchell bomber that flew over Michigan Stadium Saturday as a part of the rededication ceremonies was a similar model to the one flown over Tokyo by the Doolittle Raiders. The Doolittle Raid was an audacious plan by an unconventional man who felt a strong sense that, in the wake of Pearl Harbor, America had to do something to strike at the heart of the Empire of Japan, so what better than to design a crazy, shouldn't work on paper, never been tested plan that would break the Japanese of their long-held belief of invincibility, and boost American morale...
If it worked.
Braves and Birds is thrilled he's not the only one anymore. Denard is apparently a P-38 Lightning.
Every offensive snap? Every offensive snap:
In UConn's only chance to showcase itself against a name-brand non-Big East opponent this year, the Huskies looked more like one of Michigan's typical September MAC cupcake opponents.
The good: UConn will never have to play against Denard Robinson again, and thank God for that. A few weeks ago I drew the ire of Michigan fans by saying I felt the Huskies had more talent than the Wolverines. Clearly, I was wrong. After yesterday, I'd say that on-balance, for every position but quarterback, the teams are pretty equal, maybe with Michigan grabbing a slight edge. But holy hell what a difference that quarterback makes. Video I had seen of Robinson didn't even come close to doing justice to the monster that he was yesterday. I don't care if UConn always struggles against mobile QBs, Robinson is something special.
The good: Michigan fans and Michigan Stadium. I can't say enough good things about the Michigan fans I met in Ann Arbor yesterday. They were a fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable bunch that created an incredibly welcoming and fun atmosphere. Inside the stadium I think the contingent of Husky fans acquitted themselves nicely, but they were completely overwhelmed by the size and passion of the Wolverine crowd. A fantastic experience all around.