B1G, if true
This week's guest is Northwestern blog Lake The Posts, your one-stop shop for Wildcat bloggin. No chit chat this time, just a barrage of questions.
I kind of expected Northwestern to be their usual 6-6, 7-5 selves with a significant upset somewhere along the line. Then you lose to Duke and get housed by Ohio State. So... uh... what happened?
So did NU Nation. [Yikes... N_ Nation is not a good thing to call yourself around these parts. -ed] The Duke game exposed the fact that our much anticipated defense is really not much different than it has been for most of this decade - which is to say - not good. Those in the know here thought this unit was the best since '95 in terms of potential, but they simply haven't produced. Part of the problem has been from very conservative play-calling -- minimal blitzes and pressure packages. The Duke game scared all of us b/c we are very sensitive to "Dark Ages" (pre-95) references. When you are the holder of the all-time DI losing streak (which we STILL are at 34 games) and you play someone who has lost 22 straight the Lou Holtz in all of us gets scared of the karma and many predicted a tight game. The actual game was a result of poor game management - we actually took 3 points off the board in the FIRST half to go for a 4th and 3 and likewise went for TDs instead of the sure FGs in the second half that would have won the game.
The Ohio State game has sent the Purple mafia on a tirade thinking the 2 week stretch has diminished 12 years of respectable play. That is why this week's game is so big for us. Purple pride is on the line.
Were these losses fluky in any sense -- turnovers and rabbits tripping quarterbacks and so forth and so on -- or were they more indicative of systemic problems that will last the season?
No - that is the scary part. Duke beat us from start to finish and made our D look terrible in the process. We looked like a HS team against the Buckeyes. It was worse than the score indicated. The only "fluke" is that Tyrell Sutton, our best player, sat out both games due to an ankle injury and is questionable again this week. The difference between our program and yours is speed and depth. Sutton is the glue to the spread b/c he is the best receiving RB in the conference and there is a huge drop-off to our back-ups. The systemic issues are 1st half terrible play followed by 2nd half respectable play which leads to coaching questions. There are a lot of head scratchers about the validity of our coaching staff right now.
Michigan fans are always a little jumpy against the Wildcats because NU's run-based spread option has been successful in the past. And I'm not sure if you know this, but Michigan is rumored to have some slight issues with that sort of offense this year. Any chance Northwestern puts up 30? Is Bacher much of a runner?
Great question. With Sutton - yes. Without - not a chance. How good he'll be even if he plays is the big question. We are deep at WR, but have no gamebreakers. Our lone true stud (Andrew Brewer) is out for the year (see depth comment above). We truly spread the wealth and ding you to death with 5-7 yard passes. Bacher has shown that he is mobile, not like Juice Williams, but he has had several key runs (3 of 20+ in 4th quarters) when the game was on the line. We like Bacher, but he has been inconsistent - although part of the blame rests with the WRs who have been less than reliable.
It is not the Zak Kustok or Brett Basanez spread by any means. Bacher has only played 8 games and is just starting to develop the flow - that was until the last two weeks. Despite last week's debacle, he is third in the conference in passing. He always seems to make one or two bad decisions a game that lead to INTs. I like him though.
How is the offensive line? Michigan's overrun a couple of meh lines the last couple weeks... can NU avoid this fate?
Good not great. Our center, Trevor Rees, is the anchor, but all bets are off after last week's showing when OSU absolutely crushed us on the line giving Bacher zero time to find receivers. It was downright scary.
Ryan Mallett is likely to start, [Just IMO. -ed] which means Michigan will be running on most plays that don't start with "third" and end with something like "and sixteen". How is NU's young defensive line holding up? How did Beanie Wells do?
Our D-line was supposed to be the crowned jewel of the entire team. It has turned out to be the biggest disappointment. We rarely get penetration and have proven uncapable of not getting scorched in the secondary. We seem to faceguard and yet never know when the ball is arriving - it is a trend that has been with us for years and is infuriating. Beanie Wells ran at will against us. We tend to go "nice stop, nice stop...oops 20 yard run...nice stop nice stop....oops 30 yard pass".
What's the general opinion on Pat Fitzgerald? It seems too early to have anything definitive, but are there some positive indicators?
General opinion is hot seat -- already. I love the guy. His passion is unquestioned and who better to be at the helm than a smart guy who was the heart and soul of the team that turned around the program. Last year, everyone was in shellshock and chalked up a mulligan. Fitz inherited the reigns with 6 weeks til the first game, had a slew of new coaching staff and had the unenviable task of keeping assistants 20 years his elder part of the "team". General consensus is that he needs to get "his" guys in at the assistant spots and most people want to see D-coordinator Greg Colby gone. The players love to play for Fitz, but there is a major learning curve he's going through having jumped from LB coach to head coach. Bielema was groomed, Fitz was bodyslammed. It has been an extremely disappointing year to date, and the true test will be how we play in October. Attendance has been laughable. The MSU and Minnesota games are must wins after this weekend. No confidence in the program right now, but we're all trying to point to something positive. Grasping. Anything. We keep hitting rewind on the 2000 game.
Michigan 41 NU 14.
[Wow. I can't imagine Mallett-led Michigan putting up more than 30 on anyone with a pulse. -ed]
138... is the number of yards Mike Hart should max out at against Northwestern. Is this low for a team that is not particularly good? Perhaps. But there is a reason:
Hart is just 139 yards away from breaking the school's career rushing record.
Hopefully Michigan does not need Hart to exceed this number against the Wildcats -- dude also could use something of a break after 44 carries against Penn State -- and he can break the record at home.
Scotty 2 Hotty. The worm, in digital form:
This should end all debates about whether it was Hart or Manningham.
Michigan == sexxy. First, Essence highlighted Braylon Edwards and Dhani Jones as two of the three most do-able dudes (who are also awesome and charitable people) in the NFL. Now, Leon Hall stars in a Macy's ad campaign for something or another with Robert Palmer-esque chicks:
Hockey TV. The hockey schedule has been updated with television info; a whopping 24 of Michigan's regular season games will be televised on a huge variety of networks: CSTV, the BTN, Comcast Local, Fox Sports Detroit, and a couple of regional sports networks elsewhere: FSN North for the Icebreaker and one Boston U game on "CN8". Oddly, no ESPNU.
Moffatt(!). The commitment of 2010 forward Luke Moffatt was noted here with a WHL disclaimer, but Western College Hockey says that the Moffatts have changed their tune:
Shortly after the article ran, the Moffatt family said that the quotes pertaining to Luke's decision were said on Tuesday, and by Thursday, when he made his decision to commit to Michigan, he had completely made up his mind and was 100% committed to the NCAA route.
As always, there is a catch:
That sounds like good news for Michigan. Of course, a more cynical person might say that Moffatt's camp felt they lost bargaining power with Kelowna, and "playing the NCAA card" might be a way to gain more leverage. It certainly wouldn't be the first case of that. It should be interesting to watch this situation play out over the next couple of years.
More. Bob Miller took in the captains' practice and reports back:
Max Pacioretty was the player who stood out most in one day's observation. His size/skill combination should be very effective. Quick on his skates despite his size, he showed several nice moves and, ready for this, finished when he had the opportunity. Skates with very solid, balanced form. Quick to spot an opportunity and capitalize on it.
Also says he would not be surprised if Porter/Kolarik, Turnbull/Pacioretty, Rust/Hagelin, and Caporusso/Palushaj were duos that stayed together during the year as the third members rotate through. I'm a little wary of taking Pacioretty, a first round draft pick, and sticking him on a checking line.
Etc.: The Realests guarantee Les Miles is the guy; Band member collapses, is okay, hanging out with Lloyd; UFR-esque things spread to Iowa; Black Shoe Diaries had a nice trip to Ann Arbor, except for the game part; Drew Sharp doesn't even go to press conferences; MVictors has another killer post on Michigan history, this on the Joy Miller scandal of 1909; Braves & Birds rips into Mandel's stupid defense of the media circling the wagons on this Gundy thing.
If this looks goofy, it's because I did it in IE. Firefox and Blogger are acting funny as a combined unit.
|O22||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||-1||Zone Read Handoff|
|Michigan brings up Harrison as a blitzer, shifting Adams in man over the slot receiver. And... wow. Penn State just doesn't block anyone. Will Johnson's allowed into the backfield unmolested, forcing Scott outside. This is not where the play is supposed to go, so John Thompson is unblocked and makes a TFL. This is all on PSU sucking. I guess we can give Johnson a +1.|
|O21||2||11||I-Form Twins||Base 4-3 â€“ Zone||Run||1||FB Dive|
|Oh, Paterno. You suck. Taylor(+1) occupies two blockers like he should, refusing to get moved and allowing Thompson to come up to make an unmolested tackle.|
|O22||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Penalty||-5||False Start|
|Will Johnson(+1) gets the RG on his heels by shoving him almost into an onrushing Crable; Morelli sees the now freed Johnson and starts scrambling up. CGraham(+1) recognizes that he has no one in his zone and starts to close; three Wolverines meet at Morelli. Coverage was good. (Cover +1, Pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 3rd Q.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 5-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-10||Fumble|
|Oh, Morelli. You suck. Also: so does your offensive line. Michigan lines up with three DL and then two linebackers lined up outside the tackles taking an aggressive posture. Both blitz; neither is picked up by the offensive line. Both tackles block down, letting CGraham have an unfettered shot at Morelli. He whiffs(-1), overpursuing foolishly. BGraham, one of the "linebackers" in this set(+1) does not, coming up from behind to sack and strip. (Pressure +1).|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 9 min 4th Q.|
|O28||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel â€“ Man||Run||1||Off tackle|
|It's safe to say that Penn State is not looking to get its right tackle stood up and driven backwards by Shawn Crable, DE (+1). Will Johnson(+1) also drives into the backfield. Crable disconnects and tackles as the linebackers come to help, but this play was dead because of the line and makes me miss Woodley and Branch very much indeed.|
|Adams walks up into a robber zone as John Thompson comes around on a delayed blitz that gets him in unblocked. He hammers Morelli as he throws a duck to Norwood on an out route. Wide open; disappointing because if Morelli has to hesitate for a moment he's sacked for a big loss. (Pressure +1, cover -1, Harrison -1). Believe this is man cover here and this is Harrison's guy.|
|Morelli on a designed rollout that buys him enough time to find Norwood in a gaping hole in Michigan's zone. Can't really fault the pressure here. Again, if Morelli has to hold onto the ball another instant Crable will crush him. (Cover -2). After the reception the ball pops out. I think the replay guys got this right, as Norwood's ass hit the ground before the ball came out, but is this indisputable? It's so close.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel â€“ Rush||Pass||13||Screen|
|Williams as one of the running backs; the triple option formation we saw out of our opening opponents a lot. This is just a run-of-the-mill screen. John Thompson(-1) reacts late, then comes up too hard, getting weakly chopped by an OL and allowing Scott to dart past him. Then Donovan Warren(-1) takes a terrible angle, yielding another five yards.|
|Jamison(-2) eschews his contain responsbility by attempting to come inside a blocker; Brandon Harrison(+1) does a nice job of taking down Williams in the open field. A dangerous situation that Jamison was fortunate didn't go for many more.|
|The pump fake draw we saw plenty of makes its debut. No one actually bites, surprisingly. This goes for good yardage because Will Johnson(-1) attempts to disengage from his guy and puts himself in a terrible position, getting driven downfield when holding the POA probably means third and three. CGraham(-1) also screws up, though he did a nice job dealing with a blocker, by going too far upfield and waving at the legs of Scott.|
|M25||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||-6||Waggle (Sack)|
|BGraham(+1), unblocked, keeps contain and doesn't overrun, forcing Morelli up into Jamison(+1) who just discarded Cadogan like he was an irritating pixie. (Pressure +2)|
|Dropped; Thompson in good position if this was completed. (Cover +1)|
|M31||3||16||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Dig|
|Outstanding coverage from Adams(+2, cover +2) to come over the top and break the pass up.|
|Drive Notes: PUNT!!!!!!!, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q. Well, at least there's one coach out there who hates David Romer more than ours.|
|O34||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel||Run||0||Off tackle|
|I'm not sure what this play design is supposed to be, but when you don't block Chris Graham he can run up and tackle your crappy tailback. This he does. Credit to BGraham(+1) at DE for occupying a double team and nearly splitting it.|
|O34||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Kinlaw decides to cut this back... probably the right idea as the guard was way late getting out to the second level. As he does this, Will Johnson(+2) reads it and slips his guy to make a great shoestring tackle to prevent a potential big gainer. (Harrison did slip the block of Norwood and had a shot at this, but it looked potentially dicey.)|
|We miss most of this play, coming back just as Morelli is about to be swamred by three rushers. He lets an out fly downfield, which is overthrown. Probably good thing it is; Trent(+1) in excellent coverage. (Cover +1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q. Mathews snags the punt at the sideline and makes an excellent twelve yard return out of it.|
|Taylor(+1) occupies a double team without giving ground, allowing Graham to flow up into the hole. He's met by Hahn, but blows through his block and slows the play up enough for Crable to pick up a TFL. (+1 CGraham.)|
|Same pump fake draw. I'm not sure WTF Taylor(-1) is doing on this play, but he just stands up at the LOS. Meanwhile, Johnson(-1) gets turned inside and there's major gap. We were blitzing away from the play, leaving only Thompson as a linebacker, and it would have been tough to stop this play even without the gaping and the meinlaven.|
|Jamison as a standup DE. Morgan Trent(-1) gets beaten a little bit on this route, then does not get his head around on a very poorly thrown ball. There's a play on it if he does. Result: first down. (Cover -2)|
|Thompson(-1) bites hard on a play action fake and I don't know WTF Harrison(-1) thinks he's doing but the result is a wide open TE seam... that Morelli completely ignores. Should have been moot as Johnson(+1) beats his man and is flagrantly held without a call; this flushes Morelli, who scrambles for a minor gain. (Pressure +1, cover -2)|
|Thompson(-1) slow to recognize this despite it being the third time they've run it. No plays from anyone along the line; Johnson single blocked and eliminated.|
|M41||3||1||I-Form Big||Base 4-3||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Kinlaw manages to squeeze this out as he's forced outside but Adams can't quite get an angle to stop him before the marker.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form||Base 4-3||Pass||23||PA Seam|
|Overshifted; Morelli gives a play action fake and has a ton of time. Quarless wide open twenty yards downfield. (Cover -2, pressure -2). Thompson(-1), CGraham(-1).|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Base 4-3||Pass||2||Screen|
|Execution of this is all screwed up, but a point for Taylor(+1) for reading this and turning back, forcing one of Kinlaw's blockers to peel off and allowing Thompson to come in without harassment.|
|M14||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||3||Zone Read Handoff|
|Uh... don't know what Scott's thinking but he has a wide open lane he decides against taking â€“ I guess CGraham was filling unblocked -- in favor of leaping over a ton of bodies for a few yards.|
|M11||3||5||Shotgun 5-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Slant|
|Warren(-1) beaten. (Cover -1) Morelli throws it to Tacopants.|
|Drive Notes: FG (28), 7-3, 9 min 2nd Q.|
|Much better gap integrity from the DTs this time. They close it down, but can't come off to do anything except hold this to a moderate gain.|
|Little stop route on a half rollout. Trent(+1) tackles immediately. Decent enough.|
|Highly questionable playcall, no? They roll Morelli out a bit again; he ignores a guy open on a little stop route for the first down in favor of winging a ball -- without setting his feet -- to a guy Harrison's somewhat close to. It bounces off the turf.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2 min 2nd Q.|
|O18||1||10||I-Form Twins||Undershifted 4-3||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|Michigan all over this. Crable(+2) defeats a block from the TE and slices into the backfield for a stop. Good job by Graham in the middle. (+1 BGraham)|
|O16||2||12||I-Form Twins||Undershifted 4-3||Pass||Inc||PA Flag|
|Morelli getstime, though Johnson gets to him as he throws the ball. This is out to Quarless, who makes a miracle catch two yards OOB. Ball obviously overthrown but Morelli had little option here, as Warren(+1) was in great coverage and the window was tiny here. (Cover +1)|
|O16||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel â€“ Rush||Pass||Inc||Post|
|Very delayed corner blitz from Warren is ill timed; he compounds this by falling down as he reaches Moelli. This does cause Morelli to get rid of the ball to Norwood over the middle. Englemon and Adams converge, knocking the ball loose. (Cover +1, Englemon +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|A short little out against Warren, who is playing way off. (cover -1)|
|O25||2||4||Ace 3-Wide||Undershifted 4-3||Run||3||Zone left|
|At least we're not the only one stupidly running into stacked lines. We overload this, they run at it anyway. Jamison is totally unblocked and since Taylor(+1) is clogging the middle Scott has nowhere to go. Jamo(-1) whiffs on the tackle and turns a should-be one yard loss into a two-yard gain.|
|O28||3||1||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel â€“ Rush||Run||19||Off guard|
|Now this I don't understand in the slightest. It's third and one, we're playing Penn State and Anthony Morelli, and we play a straight nickel with soft coverage behind it. This is a down to crowd the line. Instead we have our rush DL w/ Crable a DE and BGraham a DT. Inexplicable. They run right at Crable and BGraham, as there's a crease between the two. CGraham(-1) gets blocked too easily and there's a major hole up the middle. Awful.|
|O47||1||10||I-Form||Base 4-3 <|
|Pass||11||PA FB flat|
|Penn State's band plays the White Stripes. You are not allowed to do that, tools. CGraham(-1) bites on the playfake and lets Hahn get wide open.|
|M42||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Base 4-3||Pass||11||PA Wheel|
|A fake handoff, then a fake end around. Morelli has all day (pressure -2), eventually finding the end-around guy on a wheel route after the deep stuff is covered. CGraham(-1) again with terrible coverage. (Cover -1)|
|M31||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Undershifted 4-3||Run||0||Dive|
|BGraham(+2) defeats a block, gets free, and tackles this for no gain.|
|All day for Morelli; Butler wide open in zone coverage. We have no one anywhere near the middle of the field. (Pressure -2, cover -2). This drive has been too easy for PSU. This appears to be man coverage that Warren(-2) blows badly.|
|Hahn decides to head outside, blocking no one. Jamison doesn't have contain responsibility since there's a weakside blitz; he flows down the line and nails Scott. This hit shouldn't really force a fumble, so no points for Jamison. Okay... +1. Trent recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-3, 6 min 3rd Q. Fumble, IMO, is legit on replay.|
|M35||1||10||I-Form||Base 4-3||Pass||Inc||PA FB flat|
|CGraham(+1) does a good job here of convincing Morelli to go to the shorter route, then closing on it. Ball is poorly thrown and allows him to make a play; would have gone for like two otherwise. Probably an error on Morelli's part, as if he gave his WR another moment he would likely have broken open. Maybe not; safety could have been in good position. Don't know. (Cover +1).|
|Pump fake draw. BGraham(+1) comes through to foul this; CGraham finishes it off, unblocked. A primary reason he is: Warren blitzes off the corner, diverting Hahn. Our rock, their scissors.|
|M37||3||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||11||TE Out|
|Harrison blitzes. Quarless runs a little out route here coupled with a skinny post from the outside reciever; Michigan is in three-deep. So Warren's backpedaling off the snap and Graham is covering the guy on the post, leaving Quarless time to turn the ball upfield. Would like better reaction from Warren or Graham here but really this is just an excellent call againts likely cover three that is designed to pick up part of it for a go-for-it on fourth down. Actually, on further review Graham gets a -1 because the ball had been in the air a long, long time before he realized it.|
|M26||4||1||I-Form Big||Undershifted 4-3||Run||1||Off tackle|
|This is an atrocious, atrocious spot. Michigan has him stopped short, his forward progress done. Englemon and Adams have him, and then some PSU OL come in and shove the pile forward three seconds after the play is over. This should be a turnover.|
|M24||1||10||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel||Pass||15 (pen)||TE Seam|
|Man zero from Michigan with two blitzers who do not get there (pressure -2). Adams is all alone with Quarless, gets beat(-1, cover -1) and interferes.|
|CGraham(+1) stands up a pulling guard in the hole, jamming it up and forcing Kinlaw into a mess of bodies.|
|M7||2||G||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel||Pass||5||PA Stop|
|Williams comes slightly open as two PSU receivers cross; Thompson is there to haul him down before he can get into the endzone. Neither credit nor blame here; a small window and a good job by Morelli to get it in there with good timing.|
|M2||3||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||-10 (pen)||Pitch sweep|
|Holding on PSU. Adams(+1) makes an excellent play on the edge here. Trent also did well.|
|M12||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Dig|
|Trent(+1) in excellent coverage(+1). Ball thrown short of the endzone anyway.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 7-6, EO3rd. This is a no-brainer here to take the penalty, IMO. This is one shot at a TD from the 12 plus a field goal versus one shot at a TD from the 2. Given the situation in the game, this is the correct decision.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel||Pass||Inc||PA Flag|
|Crable(+1) beats the tackle around the edge, forcing Morelli to scrabmle and hurl a ball he's basically throwing away to the sidelines. (Pressure +2, cover +1). Trent(+1) in good position.|
|O20||2||10||Ace 3-Wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||6||Draw|
|Obvious pass rush configuration here; they run a draw as we blitz our way into a big hole. Jamar Adams comes up to make a decent open field tackle, holding the gain down. The stunting we were doing put us in trouble from the start.|
|O26||3||4||Ace 3-Wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||13||Cross|
|Yuck. We end up with John Thompson chasing Derrick Williams; this does not work out. Again with the fruitless stunting; only rushing four guys there should be better coverage here. (Cover -1)|
|Warren playing way off Williams, so this is an easy pitch and catch. (Cover -1)|
|Corner blitz from Warren. BGraham(-1) stunts here and gets way too far outside; Englemon(-1)does a very poor job in space once he gets to the second level; CGraham(-1) meekly accepts blocking. Minuses for all!|
|Will Johnson(+2) absorbs a double team and splits it, stopping this for a minimal gain.|
|M14||2||9||Ace 3-Wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Seam|
|Crable(+1) leaps a cut block and forces Morelli to throw into traffic; Adams(+1) breaks it up. (Cover +1, pressure +1)|
|M14||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||Inc||TE Out|
|Taylor(+1) comes through the line immediatley, presuring Morelli; he does a decent job of buying a second or two and Thompson loses Quarless. Morelli can't get set and flings out a looper to him; Quarless drops it as two DBs coverge on him would have been fourth down and go-for-it distance if this is complete. (Pressure +2, cover -1).|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 6 min 4th Q.|
|Crable spends this drive as a standup DT. Crable(+1) crahses into two guys, freeing Brandon Graham on a stunt; Morelli rolls out and wings it into the crowd. (Pressure +2)|
|BGraham(+2) obliterates the OT on this play and is on Morelli immediately. Jamison(+1) was also coming free. Another throwaway. (Pressure +2)|
|Better time; still not great. Will Johnson(+1) comes through, forcing a throw to Norwood that's high; Adams(+1) breaks it up. (Pressure +1, cover +1)|
|M13||4||10||Ace 3-Wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Inc||Desperation Heave|
|Better time again; Crable makes a nice second effort to come free. Morelli hurls it deep to a double covered guy; Adams(+1) breaks it up. (Cover +1.)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 14-9, EOG.|
No touchdowns? We're back!
NSFMF. For the first time ever, UFR has an opposing counterpart on a rival blog. RUTS went through the Penn State offense like a six year old rushing Notre Dame's quarterback. The general results are mostly "arrrgh we suck"; for a primer check the Appalachian State UFR.
There are some items of agreement, like on the first play...
RUTS: Michigan rushes five against our five. I'll give you one guess what happens. The DT's pinch to the inside, and the PSU tackles dutifully follow. That leaves TWO unblocked blitzers, one from each side, as our five OL block three Michigan DL.
MGoBlog: Oh, Morelli. You suck. Also: so does your offensive line. Michigan lines up with three DL and then two linebackers lined up outside the tackles taking an aggressive posture. Both blitz; neither is picked up by the offensive line. Both tackles block down, letting CGraham have an unfettered shot at Morelli.
... but overall I think he's a bit harsh to Morelli, who made a lot of questionable throws but had reasons for some of them. That ill-fated screen on first and goal is one such instance. It gets charted "IN" when the problem was not so much with Morelli as with the rest of the team. Michigan did force Penn State into some of its cruddy offense.
But, well... not all of it. I remember thinking "oh, that's six points" on the little third down slant Warren got owned on, but Morelli airmailed it like whoah. He missed wide open receivers several times, scrambled himself into trouble frequently, and generally was Anthony Morelli all day. Against a better quarterback the results will not be nearly so pretty. It remains to be seen whether there is a better quarterback on the schedule, but IMO the jury remains very much out on the defense.
|Jamison||3||3||0||Least effective DL by a longshot.|
|Johnson||9||2||7||Major cause of most stuffs; also showed a decent pass rush. Caveat: interior OL for Penn State not very good.|
|Taylor||5||1||4||Probably thinking "hallelujah, someone who will run straight at me."|
|Crable||6||-||6||Made a couple plays in the run game.|
|B. Graham||9||1||8||Might be the best player on the D by a mile. Still waiting.|
|Thompson||-||4||-4||Didn't do anything when blocked; left a number of guys open.|
|C. Graham||4||8||-4||Well, at least he's doing some stuff right.|
|Trent||4||1||3||Quietly pretty solid this year.|
|Warren||1||4||-3||Needs to work on his tackling.|
|Adams||6||1||5||No screwups and many PBUs.|
|Englemon||1||1||1||Typical for him.|
|"Pressure"||16||8||8||A large portion of the plus column came on PSU last "drive"; note the vast discrepancy between the totals here (24) versus Notre Dame (only 8); ND hardly had a pass play on which they went downfield. And they still got sacked eight times.|
|"Coverage"||13||18||-5||Morelli did not exploit a few wide open receivers, so this was more like a 0 to +3 the way it played out. Still, we did not cover them as well as the stats might suggest.|
Excellent day from the DTs, but remember they were going up against a couple of very questionable guards. BGraham was also very good; the same Cadogan-inspired caveat applies to him. Jamison wasn't great but many of the plays he made were not credited highly because of Penn State incompetence; he did do okay.
Linebackers? Are poo! If Morelli had the common sense to look for his kickass tight end (seriously, that one handed catch OOB from Quarless was sweet) more frequently he could have gone for a hundred yards. Thompson did nothing unless he was permitted a free path to the ball; Graham alternated okay to good plays with really bad coverage. If Jonas Mouton isn't seeing any time at all, he must either be badly in
jured or just bad. Or maybe not. Lord knows this coaching staff often hangs onto their veterans for dear life even if they're obviously very bad.
Warren had a tough day in the secondary, but Trent has quietly emerged into a solid player. I can't remember one issue with his coverage yet save the Todd Howard special in the second quarter, which is irritating but forgivable. And Jamar Adams had the day only a hesitant, open-receiver-allergic quarterback can give a safety.
Adams, Will Johnson, and Brandon Graham. Graham has been very impressive against dubious competition so far. He'll have another two game warmup period before facing Purdue and their potentially very good offensive line. But he may be the best player on the defense already. Johnson was extremely disruptive against both pass and run; Adams broke up everything.
The linebackers and Warren.
What does it mean for Northwestern?
Well, this game does not mean terribly much for that game, but given the Wildcats' performance to date I don't think there will be huge issues. CJ Bacher is not Dennis Dixon, though he's decently mobile, and Michigan seems to have figured out that whole simple zone read handoff thing, albeit two games too late, especially against bleah offensive lines; Northwestern has one of these. If things go seriously wrong, and there is a chance of that, it's time to give up hope for the unit and pray that Henne comes back like 2006 Henne and, uh, we get a new theory of offense.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Do NOT taunt the CK Award. It is truly wroth this year. Last week's winner, Journorock, chose to spit in the face of Angry Iowa Receiver Hating God upon receiving the award, titling a post "Why Brian is full of shit: Journo Rock and the CK Award" and highlighting the times previous when he won the award...
Winner, CK Award, Week One, 2005
The next game:
Alabama 26, Middle Tennessee 7
Winner, CK Award, Week Two, 2006
The next game:
Alabama 13, Vanderbilt 10
So there. Bitches.
...as if a three-point win over Vanderbilt isn't thorough proof of the fell power of the CK Award. (Not even the CKA can compel a victory or close game against Middle Tennessee... the only thing that can do that is Louisville's secondary (ZING!)). Anyway, the result:
Do not taunt the CK Award. It will fucking kill you.
Anyway... not much movement in the poll. LSU remains number one and picks up a few extra votes for solidly handling South Carolina; Penn State plummets, as does 'Bama; South Carolina isn't punished too hard for dropping a game at LSU, Georgia-- wait.
Is Georgia seriously above South Carolina? A brief resume recap:
- One meaningless I-AA hammering each.
- Blowout win for Georgia over bleah Okie State team that would lose to Troy; two touchdown victory over ULM for SoCar. Advantage Georgia.
- OT win over 'Bama for Georgia. Regulation win over frickin' Georgia for SoCar. Both on the road. Advantage SoCar.
- Loss to frickin' SoCar at home for Georgia; loss at #1 LSU for SoCar. Advantage SoCar.
Perhaps you're thinking "but what about the projection!", but in this case we have very little to project. There was a head-to-head matchup that South Carolina won, and they didn't even do it via fluke. And yet. And yet. Ooooh... it's time for...
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
First, an apology to The Hoosier Report, the lone pollster who hung on to Miami; the Canes did indeed cane the life out of A&M. Wackness retroactively retracted. Now onto the business of this Georgia thing.
Our biggest offender is Bruins Nation, which ranks the Dawgs a stunning eighth and shoves South Carolina down at #21. I mean... why bother even playing the games? Frank McGrath leaps UGA up to #10 and leaves South Carolina #19, also shoving 'Bama down to #21. Falcon Nation drops SC just two, to #11, but bumps UGA up to #10. RazorBloggers bumps UGA five and slides SC five, ending up with UGA #11 and SC #17. PittBlather never even bothered to put SC above UGA in the first place. Now they're #12 and #19. MountainLair: #13 and #20, respectively. 44::Orange: #13 and #19. Losers With Socks has UGA #14 and SC #15, something that could be repaired by switching the two and leaving the rest of the ballot completely alone. Corn Nation has UGA #14 and SC #21, Dump Dorrell #14 and #18. The Sports Frog also has an infuriating side-by-side with UGA #14 and SC #15. Dan Shanoff leaps UGA up to #15 and drops SC down to #22. The list goes on. You get the point.
Anyway, you all suck. I am ashamed of all of you and want you to think very hard about what you've done. Go sit in the corner. You suck. Other minor notes:
- Double Extra Point must have missed Thursday: Texas A&M #16.
- Similarly, 50-Yard Lion slides Texas Tech up four after their loss to Okie State, who I would remind you just took the pipe against the Troy Trojans of Troy (We're From Troy!)., up one slot.
A final reminder: anyone who put UGA above the OBC sucks. You suck.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold. has been wrested from the hands of the resume-rankers as the difference between resume ranking and projection ranking slims; our victor comes from the opposite end of the political spectrum, as it were: Falcon Nation, a consistent winner of the Mr. Stubborn award who is very chill about having these "events" things affect his ballot. So he has things like Penn State #9, down only two, UGA #10, up two, South Carolina #11, down two, etc.
Mr. Numb Existence is poll n00b and Clemson blog Danny Ford is God with an impressive <1 average differential in a time of significant uncertainty. Welcome. (Ballot.)
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award hardly has to try this week: Michigan State blogger The Enlightened Spartan isn't bothered that they appear to be the only team in DI capable of giving up an 80 yard Notre Dame touchdown drive. He ranks State #14; this week the Spartans take on Wisconsin, whereupon their sketchy run defense will be exposed and t
heir battlements stormed by the Badger D.
During the season, the Straight Bangin' Award is often the property of blogs covering a highly-ranked team coming off a dispiriting loss. It's no surprise, then, that PSU blogs finish 1-2 here; Run Up The Score takes the prize for totally omitting PSU.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic Depressive goes to Badger Sports... probably because said blog totally forgot to include Florida. You know, Florida? Winners of the last like billion national championships in everything? Quarterbacked by an Ewok? Etc? This is why you should always post your draft ballots, so people can say things like "hey, idiot, where's Florida?"
Gopher Nation wins Mr. Stubborn. A remarkably placid ballot that had most teams right around where they go on the poll this week, this is more an anticipation of future events than anything else. This is another UGA-SC offender, though: #18 and #20. You suck.
When dinosaurs ruled the earth.
A set of clips just showed up on youtube that ask for their own post. Before...
... during ...
... and after ...
... the 1997 Penn State "Judgment Day" game that catapulted Michigan to #1, an eventual national championship, and inspired ESPN to name various college football weekends all sorts of dumb things like "Separation Saturday."
Remember that I don't look at previous ballots in an effort to reduce poll inertia, so some of the up-down stuff may not make complete sense. I much prefer arguments that don't consider the previous poll to be some sort of holy gospel: it was last week's guess and this is this week's guess, which may or may not be accurate.
Points of issue:
- UCLA? Yeah. I mocked Orson for including them last week but I watched their game against Washington and they were fairly impressive even without their starting quarterback. Chalk the Utah thing up to Dorrell being Dorrell.
- Oregon still has no D. They might not need one, though.
- Do not fuck with the CK award. GT took the pipe and so did Alabama. Just don't do it.
Comments and such will be considered; I have been adjusting my ballots this year but haven't had time to post the revised editions.
Posting is light today since I have to UFR the entire game now so it can go up tomorrow.
I've yet to figure out exactly what to do with Alan Weymouth's contribution... this week it goes here. Editorial comments interspersed.
An outstanding performance by our defense. I mentioned that my biggest concern was our secondary and I must say, they answered the bell this last week. Our tackling was crisp (Morgan Trent might be the best tackler on the whole team) and coverage in general seemed very good. I was quite surprised that PSU didn't go after Warren more. You can bet your bottom dollar that Saint Sweater Vest will.
[Run Up The Score saw a lot of inaccurate Morelli balls and bad reads in his version of UFR; I have the game now but haven't started looking at it. Will be interesting to compare. I do think that maybe we shouldn't be getting too enthused yet... Morelli is not good at the football. -ed]
The game ball though, goes to the defensive line. He might not show up in the stats, but Will Johnson had an outstanding game. He was able to put pressure on Morelli up the middle and cause alot of problems for Penn State up front. We all saw how good Brandon Graham can be this week as well, but I can also see why the coaching staff rends it's clothing over the guy as he blew a couple of assignments that resulted in long PSU runs...the 19 yarder by Austin Scott, and I also believe he messed up on the long run in the fourth quarter. He was playing DT on the long Scott run, and "pinched down". It doesn't appear to me, that this is what was called, as it left a large gap that could not be filled by the LBs. On the 38 yarder in the fourth, Warren blitzes from his CB spot, and has outside contain...I think BG was supposed to take the inside gap, and if he does this is a 2 yard loss instead of a 38 yard near TD.
LB play was pretty darn good..and I take my hat off to Thompson and C.Graham this week. Again, the DL is making things, much, much easier for these two. My only beef here is, they didn't recognize those draws early enough to shut them down near the LOS. Getting hurt on those once or twice is understandable, but you need to adjust quickly. Same thing with screens. If our LB corp can recognize the screen developing, and get that shut down, we'll be able to let the front four loose a little more. Part of the reason we saw a decrease in the pass rush, was our inability to get these two plays shut down..so, the staff reined in the front four a little to help.
[What I don't understand is why the WLB would even start chasing here. I know there's this eleven-hats-to-ball mentality, but your first responsibility has to be to the misdirection, right? Michigan in general and Chris Graham in particular have always been vulnerable to plays that exploit our linebacker's tendencies to go scurrying off at the slightest hint the play is going to one side of the field. See: That Goddamned Counter Draw. Once you verify that the ball is gone, go, but there seems to be little value in biting on a long handoff pump fake. -ed]
I know you had problems with the way our offense went about it's business last week, but I didn't. The run game was working..and though it was boring to watch, it was very effective. Mallett's limited knowledge of the playbook kept the staff from revealing some of what they could do until late in the game. Penn State's defense was very good, very fast and well coached. They will adjust to what hurts them, so as a OC, I think holding some of that stuff back a little, allowed it to be used in the fourth quarter when it was needed. They let loose the reins a bit at the end of the second quarter, and Mallett threw a frosh like pick that cost us a FG attempt.
The strategy at the end of the game was solid as well. I too think they might have allowed him to throw on first or second down, rather than force him into a third and long situation, but with the run game going decently I can't argue too much here. Toward the end, they played some man though, and any pass we attempted would have been either a slant with some risk of a pick-6 involved, or a longer throw that was less likely to be completed.
I would have punted also. The defense was playing well. They had Penn State backed up and without a T.O. Sure there was enough time to get the ball down the field, but given Morelli's performance and knowing that running the football was nearly completely out of the question, the staff knew it could turn loose our DLs and get pressure. For once, playing percentage football was the right thing to do.
I watched only a little of the OSU/NW game. If Henne is back (the real Henne, and not that impostor who appeared in the first two games) we shouldn't have much problem with the Cats. Our biggest enemy will be us. This team SHOULD understand that you have to prepare for every opponent..but will it? It's a classic letdown game opportunity for a staff and a team that is prone to just that. The goal here should be to have this game put away early and let Hart rest. Carr needs to allow Henne to throw the ball, even if it means we score an embarrassing number of points..I just don't know if Carr will do it.
[I believe Mallett will probably play this weekend. -ed]
I'm not too worried about the injuries at RG. I thought McAvoy looked very good for a guy who got thrown into the middle of a big game. Nowhere near as physical as Mitchell, but he agile and was able to get out on the LBs better than Mitchell or Ciulla. He got pushed around a little, but showed some tenacity, and the ability to lower his pads and hang in there. Once he gets some experience, I think he might not give the job back...we'll see. Schilling got some high praise from Carr this week, but I'm not sure why. Technique wise, we was good. He's got excellent agility for a OT, but he's not strong enough or physical enough IMHO. He's just a pup though and he'll get better. I thought he struggled a bit in this game, and basically forced Michigan to run toward Long. Some credit needs to go to PSU though.
[Weymouth ends here. On with other folks. -ed]
Considering Ball State's almost upset against Nebraska yesterday and at the big house last season, like it or not, you have to consider Brady Hoke for the Head Coaching search for Michigan, no? It shows he has the creativity and coaching ability to go against higher talents and out-coach the opposition.I would love to see a feature on him just like you had one for Jeff Tedford.
Thanks and keep up the great work.
Uh... wow. Though Brady Hoke has done more at Ball State than, say, Mike Debord did at Central, a Hoke hire would be the absolute worst-case scenario. Hoke was a defensive line coach for a half-dozen years in the late 90s and early... uh... 00s hired to be Ball State's coach primarily because he's an alum. At Ball State he's 15-31 in his fourth season and hasn't won much of anything. His biggest accomplishments are close losses to Michigan (a game that was out of hand despite a fluky safety and a pick six until Johnny Sears made his thrilling debut) and Nebraska. If we are going with a MAC coach, it should be Brian Kelly... even if he's not in the MAC anymore. Central before (under DeBord) == awful. Central under Kelly == MAC champions. Central post-Kelly == awful. Since there is a clearly more attractive candidate in his genre ("back-up plans who would obviously come"), Hoke is not a serious candidate.
Hey man, whats going on. You obviously know your michigan football, but I have a question
that I am dying to get answered. I have been to games up in A2, and have been to some buckeye games, I have seen both mich fans and osu fans wearing them. I am looking for a hat, it is like a hat an old irish golfer would wear. A newsie/ flat cap/ gatsby hat with a fuzzy yellow ball on top, and says "go blue". I have searched all over the internet and have found nothing. So I am on last ditch effort attempts to find one. If you know anybody that has one, or you know where I can get one, it would be much appreciated. Thanks.
Uh... I dunno. Can anyone help this guy out?
I was wondering, have you ever heard a version of The Victors and thought "hey! that was awesome." ? Obviously the Michigan Marching Band does a great job, and I love the song that plays in the background of those warm-and-fuzzy-feeling Michigan hospital commercials. Which is your favorite? Do you have any unique/cool versions? I love that song, but its so hard to find new styles of it online or through iTunes. (I mean, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir apparently recorded it, but thats about it for selection.)
If you could help me find The Best Victors Ever, that would be much appreciated!
I have no alternate versions of the Victors save the "Hoover Street Rag" thing they play post-victory, which happens to be on the MMB CD I own. This is also a "can any commenters help" situation. Can you?
Update 9/24: Added scholarship available due to Sears dismissal; now up to 19. Added FL S Karnell Hatcher, removed WA DE Kavario Middleton (dropped us), AZ CB Marc Anthony (Cal), KS LB Arthur Brown (dropped us), NJ S Will Hill (UF), PA QB Terrelle Pryor (dropped us). Linked to articles on NC CB Spencer Adams, TN CB JT Floyd, PA KR/WR Cameron Saddler.
Editorial Opinion: Slow week. Hatcher visited for ND and seemed to have a good time, so I added him. Personally I think it's doubtful he comes north but a visit means business.
The major news of the week: AZ CB Marc Anthony committing to Cal. That hurts. Anthony had declared Michigan his leader after camp and was looking like Michigan's best bet for a high-profile corner in the class to pair with Cissoko. Attention now focuses more heavily on Adams and Floyd. Adams just took an official visit:
"It went really well," he said. "I met with some of the coaches and the academic adviser. The game was great. It's the biggest crowd I've ever seen. It was a great atmosphere. I could see myself having a good time and playing there."
Clemson is also mentioned as a school of serious interest.
Floyd, meanwhile, remains the world's softest Tennessee commit, and with Phil Fulmer seemingly on the way out that can't be good for UT's chances. Status:
He has scheduled an official visit to Michigan for November 16th when the Wolverines host Ohio State. Floyd said he's very interested in Michigan. "They are near the top," he said. He also will set officials to Tennessee, Maryland and NC State.
PA WR/RB/KR Cameron Saddler is very good at what he does...
Saddler, a senior, returned two kickoffs for touchdowns Friday against Norwin to give him seven for his career. He had five last year.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career is nine, set by Trevor Mote of Kingman, Ariz., from 1994-96.
...and opening up his recruitment...
A running back/defensive back/kick returner, Saddler has rethought his college decision and is now considering "probably 10 schools."
He had previously narrowed his choices to West Virginia, Michigan, Virginia and Syracuse.
"The coaching situations at some of those schools were getting a little scary," Saddler said. "I didn't want to be down to schools with shaky coaching situations."
Hopefully Michigan can get Saddler and Hale in for an official visit sometime in the near future; the package deal that once seemed so likely has faded as an option with Michigan's opening struggles.
PA WR Jonathan Baldwin on said struggles:
Aliquippa receiver Jonathan Baldwin has Michigan on his final list of six colleges. When asked if Michigan's start might affect his thoughts on the Wolverines, Baldwin simply said, "Ehh."
Uh... okay. I won't even try to parse that.
The three huge five star guys who went off the board were real longshots; Middleton apparently wants to play TE in college. We are obviously full up there.
Note: Banner above is the fine work of Fred Simmons. Given the ill fate of Baxter Allen's banner and the overarching awesomeness of Mike Hart, a change felt warranted. Thus ends the rotating bannerage. Blog: stabilized.
Presser News. Audio at The Wolverine. News: no Mitchell, Ciulla doubtful, MacAvoy likely to start. Savoy, temporarily off the team, has returned after his acquittal.
Corso's where it's at. If, by some chance, Hart runs for like 2000 yards and Michigan wins a bunch of games and Mike Hart wins the Heisman...
...it started with Corso and we should adopt him. (Is this going to happen? No.)
Carr embedded. Now on the tubes: Carr's Penn State postgame.
Schrodinger's awesome recruit. Do I overuse that metaphor? Maybe. But it's very apt in this case. Michigan has picked up a hockey verbal from Luke Moffat, a class of 2010 forward who is the slam-dunk #1 player in his class and very likely to be a top NHL draft pick. This guy is a Jack Johnson-level recruit. But NSFMF!
"I've just not made up my mind," says Moffatt, "the NCAA route is very exciting, but I'm going to take my time before making a decision."
And to Moffatt's credit, he admits that the school he commits to (that being Michigan), will know the situation right up front.
"Yes, they will know the drill, that it will be a commitment pending my decision to play either college or in the WHL. This will make things easier for me though. It will either be Kelowna, or (Michigan)."
So this is a quasi-commit. Moffat will be with the USNTDP this fall and may or may not show up in 2010 with an evil gleam in his eye. Here's an article from the Phoenix Coyotes' site (Moffat is originally from Phoenix, though he's playing for Detroit Honeybaked at the moment.)
No cheeseburgers in space! Varsity Blue highlighted this from the open thread comments:
Our space emmporer should start aiming for the corners.
Mike74 | 09.22.07 - 4:30 pm | #
There are no corners in space
KBlow | 09.22.07 - 4:31 pm | #
Awesome. Personally, I think our gunners should start doing something useful; Zoltan has been great.
This is the part where I pull at my tie in agitated fashion. Like that Billy Idol video. You know the one. Apparently, the open thread also contained some "helloooooo nurse" comments regarding the new, non soccer-mom-y uniforms in general and this upstanding young woman in particular:
Autumn Thunder compares this with last year's outfits; it's as lopsided as your typical Notre Dame game. A comment on that post says these might not be permanent:
Unfortunately, I've been informed that the unis we saw the last two weeks are "just for maize outs" ... perhaps given positive feedback, the thinking will change on this? Somebody e-mail the athletic dept / whomever runs the cheerleading program...
I maintain no opinion on this. You are all treating objects like women, man.
Uh... what? I can't find this on MLive to confirm this, but MVictors reports that Jim Carty reports thusly:
Let's say Michigan beats Penn State, Penn State beats Ohio State, and Ohio State beats Michigan. All three teams end up with one conference loss. In that scenario, the Lions win a tie-breaker over Michigan and Ohio State because those teams played I-AA opponents. That's right, playing a I-AA team can eliminate you from the Rose Bowl. It's a little-discussed Big Ten rule instituted prior to the 2006 season.
I find this impossible to believe, since this would be a huge change in the tiebreaker process that would basically preclude any Big Ten team that takes itself seriously from scheduling a I-AA opponent. The tiebreaker procedures haven't been updated since 2001 according to the Big Ten's website... anyone know details on this?
Update: article here. Still find this somewhat hard to believe.
Oy vey. Braves & Birds takes on the Lloydball win we just ground out:
Thus, Michigan got away with running almost exclusively on downs other than second and third and long. (Excluding its drive that started with 90 seconds to go in the first half and its kneel-down at the end of the game, Michigan had 34 first and tens in the game and threw on exactly eight of them. How Carr and Debord think it's a good idea to "protect" a true freshman quarterback by forcing him to throw mostly on obvious passing downs is beyond me.) Michigan also got away with forgoing the chance to kill the game off on its final offensive possession, mainly because Anthony Morelli is not a good quarterback and Penn State's offense is fairly easily defended.
I co-sign and will provide a fuller opinion in UFR.
Etc: Stadium and Main on the game; Adams is co-defensive player of the week. Dan Wetzel trashes the Big Ten and says Miles would be stupid to leave... didn't he write this exact article like two weeks ago?
9/22/2007 - Michigan 14, Penn State 9 - 2-2, 1-0 Big Ten
Adrift on a sea of bodies, legs gone, head yanked back, enemies all around and pawing, Mike Hart stretches for the inch he needs and gets it. When Hart is gone and I am old and my mind flips through the rolodex of players past, this will be the image that lingers. It's his career writ microscopic. He takes his natural ability, and stretches it to its breaking point, and Michigan has a season again.
Somehow Mike Hart still feels like a secret. In some extremely obvious ways he is not: one of Michigan's vaunted triplets going into this season, he is widely acclaimed as the best back in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. Anyone claiming the "no respect" card for Hart is going to have to make a strong case indeed. Everyone knows he is good. Maybe even great. But they don't know.
No one who doesn't live and die with Michigan's program can really know. He came off the bench, this freshman from upstate New York the size of a flea, against San Diego State and helped Michigan avert an Appalachian State disaster, and since then he has been the linchpin of Michigan's offense. A few games later Abdul Hodge stripped him as he dragged three Hawkeyes from the ten yard line to the four; this was the last time he lost a fumble. In that time we've watched Max Martin and Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown and Kevin Grady cough up seemingly every other carry they get, but Hart has not fumbled. Sometime this week or next he will become Michigan's all-time leading rusher. When he breaks into the secondary his arm starts pirouetting, orbiting around as he seeks his balance to cut behind an overaggressive safety. Last year against Notre Dame he ripped off a 21-yard run in the closing minutes, dove to the ground as he neared the sidelines, and made the run-the-clock hand signal as he got up. Sometimes four defenders claw at his body and end up yards from where they should be. He runs out to block when Michigan only has ten guys on an extra point attempt. He cheats at cards. His high school graduating class was like a dozen people, six of them women and three of them Canadians, and Hart dragged them to multiple state championships. Whenever he's not on the field I am alarmed at what might happen.
So you can watch him intermittently, whenever your team plays Michigan or when you're flicking through the game on a crowded Saturday afternoon, and not really comprehend what he is to the program. Set aside the rushes, the yards, the relentless pounding he took while battling some sort of flu or strep illness. Sometime midway through the second half he limped off, battered, then reversed course and told Minor to get off the field. It was third down and too far to run. As Mallett dropped back to pass, Dan Connor, Penn State's all-everything linebacker, blitzed right up the middle. Hart, eight inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter, clocked him. Ran right up into him and stopped him dead in his tracks. The blitz picked up, Mallett converted the third down. Hart would stretch for the winning points a few plays later.
Mike Hart does not care. He does not care that he is the size of Toad and runs about as fast as Richard Nixon, who is dead. He does not care that Michigan ruined everything the first two games of the season as he rode a bike on the sideline. He does not care that some people think he should shut up. He does not care that his legs are on someone else's legs and there is no possible way he can worm the ball to the goal line. It takes someone like this to pull you back from despair and ennui, to turn emo week into something other than emo year.
Mike Hart does not care what came before.
Bullets that, if Keith Jackson had done the game, would no doubt have been dubbed "hoss" several thousand times:
- Count me in with the people upset about the offensive playcalling. I do not think it was a coincidence that Michigan came out of its shell when PSU put up its second field goal; it was a pure "scoring offense" situation and one that demonstrated the effectiveness of, you know, throwing on first down every once in a while.
- The thing to be most upset about: a give-up-and-punt on third and long that gave Penn State one last opportunity. There's really not much difference between 2:10 and 1:34 in that situation for the offense. With no timeouts they must pick up big chunks of yards either way. If it goes well they won't have issues with time. If it doesn't, time won't matter because it'll all be incompletions anyway. Giving up the chance for a game-killing first down was frighteningly reminiscent of the Year of Infinite Pain.
- Mallett was 8-20 in the first half and 8-9 in the second. The third down conversion on the final drive to Mathews was a play about four people on the planet could have made. Henne's still better, but if you assume Mallett has a standard progression curve... holy crap.
- That said, man... throw it to wide open Arrington in the endzone plz.
- Yay missed 29-yard field goal!
- Brandon Graham appears to be the best player on the defense, possibly by a wide margin. Five sacks in basically two games of starting, even against those two offensive lines, is an impressive accomplishment.
- Very disappointed to see Penn State's defensive line get so much push against our OL. Don't know if that was just guys getting beat or us tipping our plays or what; will be a focal point in UFR.
- Hey... we 1) ran opposite the shuffle, 2) passed off the shuffle, and 3) threw with Clemons in the game. Did any of these plays work? No, aside from one third-down conversion.
- No deep balls all game. Odd. If they were really in three-deep the whole game we should have been hammering them underneath. This is a major problem I have with our offensive design: we don't punish people from loading the box and playing soft behind it. Those easy completions to Manningham at the start of the first touchdown drive are there all the time.
- I erroneously termed some of Appalachian State's QB draws "Incredibly Surprising." This is an incorrect application of my own nomenclature: a true ISQD is one in which a running back or wide receiver lines up alone in the backfield and takes off, like Junior Hemingway did against Penn State. I hate ISQDs. They are stupid.
- If we ever, ever punted from the 31 my head would explode. JoePa remains even more ossified than Michigan is, and that's the primary reason we've owned them for the past 9 games. If you line up and come right at us, you die. Many teams have figured this out, but JoePa is old and only interested in pudding and Betty Grable.
- UFR will be Wed-Thurs this week if all goes well... I forgot to tape it and the MGoVideo guy's kid changed the channel. So tape is delayed but coming.