Last time on Picture Pages, Denard Robinson got Roy Roundtree killed against UConn by being too impatient to throw on a curl-flat combo. This time things will go a bit better.
The setup has Michigan in a four-wide formation with ND in a two-deep shell and a 3-4 defense—this is slightly unusual since ND spent most of the day in a 4-3:
Michigan starts the play with a zone stretch fake, pulling Schilling around to act as the lead blocker Shaw was on the previous play:
Roundtree's come in like he's going to block as Odoms heads upfield:
Roundtree then breaks outside as Walls rubs Odoms, pushing him out of bounds briefly. If this was man coverage Roundtree would be open, but if it's zone it'll be Odoms, or you can also take a look at Grady running well behind the linebackers, all of whom have sucked up to either the zone stretch fake or the threat of Robinson on the edge:
It was right about here, if not earlier, that Denard threw the ball against UConn:
But as you can see from the downfield perspective, that would have been a bad idea since the corner is disconnecting from Odoms and coming upfield. If he had thrown it above, the ball would be about halfway to Roundtree right here:
This probably would have led to another decleating hit. But Denard sees the play developing and waits. A split second later Odoms sits down on a fifteen-yard hitch. He's wide open:
ND's Harrison Smith doesn't know what to do with both Grady and Odoms open in front of him. Robinson zing:
Odoms picks up some YAC…
…and it's 21 yards.
- Most of the same stuff from the last post. Michigan will see a lot of zone. Most of the routes they run will be designed to beat it. Robinson is going to be expected to high-low cover two corners a ton, not least because a hard cover two corner gives the defense much better containment on the edge than a cover three where the corners bail out into deep zones.
- Holy pants wide open receivers again. The Roundtree and Odoms catches were more spectacular and the end result of this play had nothing to do with the linebackers, but Kelvin Grady is screamingly wide open on this play too because Manti Te'o is hurtling towards the line of scrimmage and Calabrese sucked in towards the zone stretch fake. Michigan should have run more play action, though I guess it's hard to criticize what the offense did when it wasn't getting flags in its face.
- Denard is learning stuff. Obviously. I haven't gotten through everything yet and do remember a period in the fourth quarter where he was looking pretty wobbly, but the coaches probably spent a bunch of time this week working on Denard's mistakes and getting his patience right for various plays. So far there haven't been any plays against Notre Dame where I thought "that throw is way too late/early" except one on which Robinson dodged a blitzer and had his timing disrupted.
- Odoms is just fine as an outside receiver. It would be nice if he was a towering colossus of speed but given Robinson's strengths it's better to have a reliable mountain goat and experienced route-runner who can sit down in the right spots and catch the balls zinged to him. It seems clear that going over the top is not one of Robinson's strengths, at least not right now.
This is from the UConn game and has been discussed previously, but here it is in glorious coughing-up-blood Picture-Page-O-Vision. It's pretty simple but I don't think I've spent much, if any time, on the site discussing making reads in the passing game.
It's the start of the third quarter and Michigan is facing second and eleven. UConn comes out in their two-deep look with corners playing off. Unless the Huskies are disguising a coverage this is likely to be two deep, and since opponents are almost forced to play zone against a spread attack featuring one Denard "Shoelace" Robinson, Esq., Michigan has a pretty good idea that UConn is either going to play a standard cover two defense or a cover four "quarters" look.
On the snap Michigan does a half-roll of the pocket, which gets Robinson closer to his intended targets, can delay linebackers uncertain whether it's a run or pass, and opens up lanes for Robinson if his receivers are covered:
At this point it's obviously a cover-two zone with the two deep safeties and the corner sitting about seven yards downfield looking in the backfield. Roundtree breaks well outside of the playside LB, who was held inside by the threat of a run. That guy's not going to prevent him from turning upfield if the ball is accurately thrown.
This is a curl-flat package where the inside receiver runs a very shallow out and the outside receiver heads about ten or fifteen yards downfield, then sits down in what should be the hole between the corner and the safety. The cover-two corner then has to pick whether to sink deep to take away the curl, opening up the flat, or come up on the flat, opening up the curl:
Robinson cocks to throw, but there's a problem:
He's throwing the ball too soon, before the corner has been forced to make a choice. Stonum's not even five yards downfield. The corner is is looking directly at what's going on and can jump up into the route…
…and it's never good when you're catching the ball with your back turned to a blur…
…so Roundtree is daed:
Video of what went down:
- Opponents are going to have to play a lot of zone against Michigan this year. Anyone intent on having base personnel on the field—which both Notre Dame and UConn did the entire game—will be putting linebackers in space against slot receivers if Michigan goes to man, and possibly opening up big plays when those guys read run incorrectly. Also, man coverage against four verticals means a lot of guys are running downfield with their back to Denard. This is not good for a defense.
- Most of Michigan's routes will be zone beaters, then. This may be the source of criticism about Rodriguez's fairly primitive passing packages, but if you've forced the defense into a limited subset of available coverages you can get away with this, as Michigan did all day against UConn and on the final drive against ND, when Michigan ran several variations on curl-flat to march down the field.
- Zone-beating routes endeavor to make one particular zone defender cover two guys. Here it's the outside guy on Stonum and Roundtree. In the snag package Michigan ran all day against UConn it's the playside linebacker and sometimes the playside corner.
- Most of Robinson's reads are simple "if this one guy does this throw it here, otherwise throw it there" things.This is the privilege afforded him by his running ability. Exotic coverages are difficult to get away with unless you're really good. I expect Ohio State to be able to confuse him. Maybe Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State will be able to do this as well, though PSU and Iowa are replacing lots of linebackers and are dedicated to base defense, too, so man coverage will be hard to get away with.
- Here Robinson lacks the patience to let the play develop. If he just waits a second or two it will be clear which option is open.
Later today: Robinson learns from his mistake to Notre Dame's detriment.
With Michigan having dispatched its major nonconference foes, it's time to survey the rest of the league for indications as to how tough their sledding will be as they try to reach one of those bowl things.
First, and just to be whiny:
Vanderbilt: W 23-21
Illinois State: W 37-3
This is probably going to be the suckiest year at Northwestern in a while. They were considerably outgained by Vandy and only won on an egregious call that the Big Ten later apologized for, except they didn't. So of course they're off the schedule.
MTSU: W 24-17
South Dakota: L 38-41
With the Big Ten moving to divisions next year comes the functional end of one of the most-hated traditions in Michigan football: always missing the worst team in the league. Minnesota fans are here after they lost by two scores to South Dakota, completing their collection of humiliating losses from teams in a Dakota:
Tim Brewster isn't getting canned anytime soon.
I'd be fine with it happening today. I have zero faith he's going to turn this around this year because there has been no evidence in his four seasons here that he's capable of doing it. Still, it's not going to happen because as much as the season feels like it's over right now, it's not. Look no further than the Kansas Jayhawks: last week they lost to NDSU (remember how that felt?) 6-3 in what has to be the ugliest football game ever played. Not a great way to start off the Turner Gill Era. Yesterday, the hosted #15 Georgia Tech- AND WON! Talk about a shocker. Talk about a turnaround. It's one example, but it's proof the season isn't over yet. No matter how much you may hate Brewster and mistrust the coaching staff this morning, it's still very possible we turn this around.
Regardless, even if we lose to USC next week and NIU the week after AND Northwestern the week after that...we're still mathematically bowl eligible at 1-4.
Gopher bloggers are now declaring 1-11 a "distinct possibility" and asserting the upside to be 3-9. So, yeah, of course they're off the schedule.
To teams on the schedule:
Towson: W 51-17
A win over a I-AA team doesn't mean much, though Towson did just squeak by Coastal Carolina in five(!) overtimes. Chances are Michigan won't have any read on how competitive Indiana is going to be before they head to Bloomington. Their next two games are against Western Kentucky (0-12 last year, lost to Nebraska 49-10 and Kentucky 63-28) and Akron (lost to Syracuse 29-3 and I-Aa Gardner-Webb 38-37).
Stock: even by reason of virtual bye and actual bye.
Western Michigan: W 38-14
Florida Atlantic: W 30-17
Not a ton to learn from the first two games. Western hung tight for a quarter but let the game get away in the second, finishing 160 yards back by the game's end. FWIW, Western was bad last year and will probably be worse this year without Hiller—his replacement looked like Nate Montana.
The FAU game was slightly uncomfortable as the Owls were driving to pull within one score late until Howard Schellenberger exclaimed "suspenders!" and kicked a field goal; total yardage was 367-301. State's offense consisted of big plays including an 80-yard touchdown from Edwin Baker, 42 and 30 yard receptions from Keshawn Martin and BJ Cunningham. If there's something to be concerned about it's a seeming lack of progress in the passing game; Notre Dame will provide much more information along those lines.
Eastern Illinois: W 37-7
Iowa State: W 35-7
Iowa State is certainly awful by virtue of being Iowa State, but Ferentz has struggled against his cross-state rivals so a righteous pounding seems like a step forward even if last year's game was 35-3. Another step forward is a lack of Stanziball, though Iowa State did not provide a major test. Stanzi only had to throw 18 times. Iowa bloggers seem happy, at least.
Stock: up slightly, since the chance they'd have a meh game against Iowa State has gone by the wayside. Considerably more information coming this weekend when they travel to Arizona.
@ Penn State
Youngstown State: W 44-14
Alabama: L 24-3
The eeee Bolden hype after he did not self destruct against penguins (seriously, YSU is the Penguins) was a bit much, and indeed the Penn State offense came to a screeching halt at Alabama. Penn State blew two early opportunities to punch in touchdowns, came away with only three points for the whole game, and finished with just 283 yards of offense. Freshman quarterback in Tuscaloosa against Saban and his merry band of guys good enough to not get cut, but that's a worst-case scenario any way you slice it. Bolden was 13/29 for 144 yards, 5 YPA, and two interceptions.
Perhaps more disturbingly for Penn State, Evan Royster had a Michigan-tailback-esque day against 'Bama, putting up 32 yards on 9 carries. That follows a 11 carry, 40 yard performance against Youngstown State on a day when Penn State averaged just 4.6 YPC against a I-AA opponent, and only managed because Kevin Newsome's ELECTRIC RUNNING went for 21 yards on 3 carries. Initial diagnosis of Penn State OL: ass.
Defensively, it's also not so good. Bama was efficient on the ground and in the air, with Trent Richardson averaging 6.5 YPC and Greg McElroy 9.5 YPA. A lack of corresponding scoring seems attributable to 'Bama stretching out in the luxury of a three-score lead against an opponent with a freshman quarterback.
Stock: down. Right now this looks winnable, though not probable.
Missouri: L 23-13
Southern Illinois: W 35-3
SIU was a pretty good I-AA team a year ago, losing to Marshall by just 3 in their opener and then going undefeated against the rest of their schedule until going down to William & Mary in the I-AA playoffs. Illinois outgained them by almost two to one and clobberated them. So that's okay.
The loss to Mizzou was grim, though. After hopping out to a 13-3 lead it was all Missouri in the second half; the Tigers ended up outgaining Illinois 379-281. Throw in a –3 turnover margin thanks to the exceptional generosity of Nathan Scheelhaase and it's a wonder this didn't get out of hand. Scheelhaase was 9/23 for 81 yards, a TD, and 3 INTs, but did add 76 rushing yards on 16 carries. Denard Robinson thinks that's cute, kid.
Mikel Leshoure looks like a legit Big Ten feature back and Illinois controlled Missouri's ground game pretty well, but initial returns on the post-Juice era are looking a lot like returns on the Juice era, hopefully minus Mike Williams exploding.
Stock: probably even since no one expected much from Illinois; Michigan is probably feeling better given the passing performance against Mizzou.
Notre Dame: L 23-12
Western Illinois: W 31-21
Purdue struggled against Notre Dame and did worse relative to level of competition against Western Illinois. Despite being 1-10 in I-AA last year, WIU was tied at 7-7 late in the second quarter when they went for it on fourth and one by bombing it deep. It was incomplete, Purdue executed a two-minute drill for a touchdown, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled with 13 seconds left in the half, and Purdue was able to pull away… for a while, anyway. Total yardage ended up 406-402, Western Illinois.
In the aftermath, Hammer and Rails says "I haven't seen so much negativity around here since Robbie Hummel went down." Problems unsurprisingly include the OL:
I liked the comment I saw in last night's game wrap pertaining to our line being a sieve. BenJapal responded with, "Calling our offensive line a sieve is to imply that a small amount was being restrained."
He's exactly right. Peters Drey had a pretty bad game. I think there was at least one bad snap, and he somehow managed to commit three penalties on two plays. Nick Mondek is whiffing on blocks left and right at right tackle. I thought he was supposed to be the best guy there! What happened to Trevor Foy and Ryan Prater?
After two games Purdue is averaging a Sheridan-esque 5.1 yards per attempt. Fans now seem to be hoping for 7 or 8 wins, a significant step back from mutterings about being a darkhorse contender in the BIg Ten this year.
Stock: considerably down. Michigan should be a favorite despite being on the road, not something that would have been the case before the season.
UNLV: W 41-21
San Jose State: W 27-14
Wisconsin has been dominant statistically but sloppy in its first two. They put up what might be the most impressive non-UConn box score in the Big Ten by outgaining UNLV 475-217. Ground: 50 carries, 278 yards, 5.6 YPC. Air: 15/20, 197 yards, 9.9 YPA. San Jose State was closer as Wisconsin threw away chances to break away and lost focus late. It's still a start about on par with what was expected.
(PS: bet you're wishing you didn't cancel that Virginia Tech series now, eh?)
Stock: even. Not getting my hopes up here.
@ Ohio State
Marshall: W 45-7
Miami: W 36-24
The Marshall demolition looks a lot better now that the Herd coulda-woulda-shoulda taken down West Virginia for the first time ever, especially since total yardage in that game was pretty close to even. Against OSU the final tally read Basically A Billion-Zero.
The Miami game was deeply strange, with Jacory Harris throwing 4 INTs and Ohio State coverage units giving up two(!) return touchdowns. OSU outgained the 'Canes by about 60 yards, but Terrelle Pryor's 12 of 27 performance has to be worrying.
Stock: even. Very good team with Qs about Pryor is exactly what the deal was before the season.
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. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to make it to any games last week because I was traveling to South Bend. Hopefully I can make that up this week.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona was killed by Oak Ridge, 0-48. Sousa struggled to a 6/13 passing day for just 34 yards, facing heavy pressure all day. He also ran for 31 yards on 7 attempts.
You can check out the highlights from Sousa's first game on Youtube.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
This week: Lake Nona welcomes University on Friday at 7:30. Running back Jarius Pace will make his debut for the Lions, hopefully taking some of the heat of Sousa.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Last Week: Seaholm beat Lahser 35-17.
Junior quarterback John Glazier and senior wideout Shawn Conway, fast developing into one of the most lethal pass-and-catch combos in the state, hooked up for two scores through the air – making it a total of six on the year so far...
Conway, one his way to the University of Michigan next season, caught five balls for 98 yards. Both of his touchdown grabs came in the first half to rally his team back from an early deficit.
Yet another impressive performance from Shawn, even with sketchy quarterbacking. Video highlights from FridayNightHighlights.tv:
|Shawn Conway 2010|
|North Farmington||W 26-6||4||32||8.00||1||3||137||45.67|
This week: The Maples host Detroit Country Day on Thursday night. Pregame fluff.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's pasted Sandusky, 34-7. I couldn't find a game article.
This week: St. John's takes on Toledo St. Francis DeSales Friday at 7.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Plant beat Hillsborough 20-13. Game highlights:
This week: Plant travels to Abilene, Texas on Thursday. Pregame ranking wranglin'.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Last week: Traverse City West beat Essex 42-6, after leading 42-0 at the half. No mention of Fisher in the game article.
This week: TC West plays Cadillac on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Chris Rock
Last week: Pregame fluff revealing the Stallions held their first two opponents to 95 yards each on the ground and through the air. St. Francis DeSales fell to New Albany in a 10-13 overtime decision. Article 2. DeSales' star junior, Ohio State commit Warren Ball, was injured in the game. No mention of Rock in any of the articles.
This week: DeSales hosts Youngstown Cardinal Mooney (who defeated them in the State Championship game last year) on Friday at 7:30.
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: Panther fluff. St. Pius X beat Episcopal 31-17. Jones told Tom he had 6 tackles (3 for loss) and a sack. He sat out the first half, because he twisted his ankle early in the game.
(A slight correction to last week's stats, as I didn't note Jones's 3 TFL against Sealy).
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
This week: St. Pius X hosts Worthing on Friday at 7:30.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last week: Ross was drilled by Tiffin Columbian, 40-21. No mention of Brown in the game article. A scouting report from the win over Toledo Whitmer a couple weeks back:
Greg Brown caught one pass for 42 yards and really wasn't too involved in the offense, as he also took one hand-off that was called back for a false start. Defensively, he was lined up at safety and occasionally at corner. Whitmer doesn't throw a lot, and when they did, they didn't throw at Greg. He was back to return kicks as well, and rather than risk a big play (are you sensing a pattern?) they usually chose to squib the ball about 25 yards to the opposite side of the field. Most of the teams that Ross will see this year will probably treat him the same way, which I guess is a compliment.
Thanks to Mason Lowry of WRSC Radio for the report.
This week: The Little Giants travel to Tiffin to face Columbian at 7:30 on Friday.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech killed Detroit Denby 55-0. No mention of Hollowell.
Next Week: Cass Tech travels to Denby on Friday at 4pm.
I Will Eat Them Up: Remix. Boyz in the Pahokee wanted to parody hype videos. He failed, but in doing so succeeded:
Sit under the Banyan tree and ponder this.
As long as we're pondering the above, yeah… I thought this was slightly premature after UConn but, like, dude:
Yeah… kinda. Offer still stands with the Brock Mealer shirt, by the way: buy a Brock shirt, donate to Brock's continued rehab, get five bucks off another MGoShirt. "onepercent" is your magic word.
Old school. Did you know Bump Elliott was on "What's My Line?" With his brother? Who was Illinois' coach at the time?
Different world when you could have the head coaches of Michigan and (I guess) Illinois on a TV show and people had to guess as to who they were instead of saying "what's the deal with hiring that rube from Southern Miss, eh?" FWIW, Michigan went 6-3 in the 1961 season, defeating 0-9 Illinois 38-6 but losing to both Michigan State and Ohio State by lots. Minnesota was the other loss.
Die, Special K. Straight from Brandon's mouth about pipin' it in:
"I will probably be chastised for telling this story: At a Big 10 AD meeting I proposed an amendment to allow bands to be miked and it was emphatically turned won. I kept pushing it and tried to convince the other AD's that it was about distributing the sound throughout stadiums better and not amplifying the sound on the field. Using my persuasive powers, we eventually got this amendment passed and now we've got the band miked. Now to head off any questions about the recorded music, we are planning on there being less recorded music now that the band can be heard better. "
Adios, Ron. #87 Ron Kramer, the last Michigan player to have his number retired, died on Saturday. Since he played 20 years before I was born I don't have much to say that's not in a press release, but the News's Jerry Green does:
Ron Kramer lugged the wooden brown box into the saloon close to the University of Michigan's campus in Ann Arbor. "Give me two Scotch-and-waters," Kramer told the bartender.
Kramer placed the brown box atop the bar. The guy behind the bar looked at Kramer with deep curiosity. Ron was alone, accompanied only by the box.
"What do you want two for?" the bartender asked Kramer.
"Bennie is kind of dry," answered Kramer.
Yeah: Oosterbaan, ashes of. The Hoover Street Rag has another story in the same vein and Lynn Henning talks to Frank Beckmann, Jerry Hanlon, and Don Dufek about him.
It might be pretty stupid to think that Denard Robinson going 87 yards had anything to do with Kramer, but what the hell, right? Let's do it anyway.
Perspective: there is no perspective. Denard's second week by the Mathlete's numbers:
Another ground game worth 12 PAN [Ed: Points Above Normal, IIRC], just like last week. My database goes back to the 2003 season and during that time there have been a total of 107 games where a player has recorded a PAN of 12 or higher. Of those 107 times, there are 10 players who have done it at least twice (4 have done it three times). The only players to have put up a dozen on the ground twice in one season versus BCS teams, Denard and two others, Jerome Harrison at Washington State vs Stanford and UCLA in 2005 and Chris Barclay at Wake Forest vs Clemson and Maryland in 2003.
So if he does this again in the Big Ten season he will have done something unprecedented over the last seven years in college football. Also, the Mathlete calculates that Michigan's penalties cost them a full touchdown and the kickers are not good, but you didn't need math for that last bit.
Penn State hockey: engage. INCH is reporting that Friday will see an official announcement of Penn State hockey, something that will likely be followed by the CCHA extending a membership offer as soon as whichever official is drafted to make the statement finishes the syllable "ho—". This is win for the CCHA, for the Big Ten Network, and possibly for a Big Ten conference I'd be behind as long as it can be accomplished without seeing any existing programs fold, whether that's by scheduling guarantees from departing clubs or whatever.
This is all very vague still but USCHO reports some grumblin' and mumblin' at a top-secret WCHA meeting:
At a meeting late last week, WCHA coaches discussed the potential of a Big Ten hockey league starting in the near future, and how that would impact their league, sources said. … Sources indicated that the hot topic of speculation at the WCHA meeting was that the 2014-15 season is a potential start date for the Big Ten in hockey.
At this point I doubt anything other than Minnesota blanching can prevent the Big Ten Hockey Death Star from forming. Wisconsin ended the College Hockey Showcase because it explicitly wanted more games against Big Ten opponents; it seems like they'd be willing to jump. Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State aren't attached to the CCHA closely enough for tradition to override dolla dolla bill ya'll. That would be a brutal six-team conference on paper but of late State and Minnesota have struggled to consistently make the NCAA tournament, and Michigan came within a whisker of whiffing for the first time in twenty years. Still, PSU hockey would be in for a rough ride to start.
I don't think the impact on CCHA members would be too hard since a six-team Big Ten leaves at least 14 nonconference dates for conference members to fill and it will make economic sense to spend most of those playing Ferris, Western, Lake State, Northern, et al. Michigan might schedule regular trips to Alaska because those get exempted, as well. The WCHA will be fine; all of those programs are established.
Slow States has the PSU angle.
Defending the inside zone with the 3-3-5. Relevant post by Football Defense on something we figure to see later this year:
Versus the Inside Zone, I want to either avoid double teams (pretty tough in a 3-3-5 Defense) or or split double teams. By slanting our Defensive Line against the Zone blocking, we have the best chance to split those doubles.
As long as we’re still working to split the double, the Offensive Line can’t get off to get to the Linebackers, and this is where I believe we stop the Inside Zone. If you have 3 Linebackers that are able to run free (not including the Outside Linebackers a.k.a. Overhang Safeties here) you should have no trouble stopping the play.
Thus far it's been a lot of power (pulling linemen, not sliding double-teams) but we'll run up against zone teams in the Big Ten schedule, most prominently Illinois. Since Michigan ran a ton of inside zone against UConn I'd hope they're proficient at it.
Etc.: Dhani Jones will return to campus on October 15th to speak to students at the behest of the Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. Union Ballroom, 3:30. I wouldn't ask him about Rodriguez. Denard Robinson tribute tumblr. Scott Wolf has an irrational hatred of the Big Ten. Whirlwind '>pre-UConn Mustache tour.
On Heisman hype: "I don't pay attention to none of that." He doesn't have cable,and doesn't go on websites that talk about it. For entertainment "I like being around my teammates, and around the players." The opinion on him has really changed: "A lot of people doubted me last year... I really don't care what other people think about me."
Staying humble: "My mom raised me to be humble, and always keep your eyes on the prize, and on you go." Can't get a big head. People back home tell Denard he's gotta keep going "It's not the end." What is the prize to aim for? "Try to keep winning for Michigan. Be all-in."
Are teams trying to knock him out? Yeah, but you can't control that. "I guess you've gotta be ready to take blows like that, shots like that." He's a little sore, but you've gotta get through it.Denard is stronger and faster than he was in high school. Can take more of a pounding, reads defenses better. "You get better when you get to the next level because you have great coaching."
Other teams recruiting him said receiver, corner. Michigan's pitch was "you'll be a quarterback unless you want to play something different."
Growing up, he watched "Charles Woodson, you gotta say the great guys who came through Michigan" but watched the great players from the Florida teams. Mostly receivers, RBs, guys with the ball in their hands. He's never talked to him or met Pat White, but it's an honor to be compared to him. "That's somebody that's set records." Denard has watched lots of tape of him. Great runner and passer. "Same thing they listed me at: as an athlete."
"When the offensive linemen are blocking like that and it's god-willing, I can do whatever."
QBs are a happy family. "We're all brothers on this team." Tate, Devin, Jack happy for him after the game. The team is having fun. "Just starving to get better."
The RBs are all-in for Michigan, and nobody's going against each other. "Michael Shaw is a tough, tough dude." He tells Denard to make the read, and if he has to pull the ball, so be it.
Punting - Practiced it a lot, and RR makes a big deal about QBs being able to punt. "I wouldn't like to punt. We don't want to punt any balls."
"Classmates, they don't really say to much. They probably just say 'great game, and just keep doing it.'"
"Both of my parents like smiling. My whole family smiles all the time. It's just something that goes through my family, I guess."
"Denard is probably the best person that could have all this fame." He can handle it, and doesn't seek it out. "He's not gonna get taken by the storm."
RBs - "Our running backs are forming. Denard's been taking a lot of it as we all know. they're going to step up and they're gonna be big."
Ranking doesn't change his view of the season "I don't like the attention that comes with all of it." Would rather see the team stick together. The team came in ranked 80th, now 20th, will change other teams' view of them.
"Everyone's more mature, no one's making mistakes" frorm last year.
OL is doing well, but there are always places to improve. Will find and make those improvements over the course of the season. Playing center in a spread offense is "probably no different than any other center in the country." He starts with the ball, so his screwups look bad. It's nothing he can't handle. "Offensive line play, in my eyes, really doesn't change. I just get to hit people, snap the ball."
On fan perception of Rich Rod: "They hate him when we lose, and they love him when we win."
It was amazing to see guys come together when drives would stall because of mistakes. "It was more come together: 'we know we need a drive.'"
"We don't really look at rankings. We're still playing like we're ranked 80th in the nation." The players all citing the 80th ranking is not a marketing ploy, it was the truth coming in. They're trying to earn everybody's respect back. Anything provides motivation.
Is it tough to get up for a powderpuff? There's no such thing. "We saw that with App State. We underestimated them, and it'll never happen again." Michigan will give their all against every team.
The defense wasn't low about allowing the last ND touchdown. "It happened one play ago, so we have to flush that in order to be ready for the next play." During Michigan's game-winning drive, Banks was just reminding everyone to stay focused and be ready to get back out there.
UConn and ND have great OLs, not taking anything away from them "we can only focus on what we can do."
Doesn't matter what year it is, "The Notre Dame game is the Notre Dame game. Big either way you look at it."
Can't replace Brandon Graham. It's not the player they're filling, it's the position. "I can only play within my limits. I talk to him every day before the game, before practice." Graham is a mentor. "He's a great friend of mine that I'll have for the rest of my life."
Preparing for an FCS team - "just gotta stay humble. Go out and prepare every week like it's the biggest game of the year." Prepare the same way as other games. Didn't see any of JMU's win against Virginia Tech. "I didn't see any of it, so I don't know."
UMass receivers - get scouting books today and learn more about them.
Michael Floyd "I kind of picked of some of his tendencies early from watching film." Prepared well for him. You have to watch as much film as you can for a little advantage over an exceptional opponent.
Denard off the field "He's a great kid. He's only a sophomore, but the kid's a leader." First one to workouts, etc. "Boy's a speedster. When I see him, I just look at it like it's a track meet. He's just gonna cross that goal line and be a champion."
DBs get together as a unit to watch film "I gotta help these young cats out a little bit." Help them use the film system, etc. Cam Gordon- "Cam's a hard worker. Me and Cam worked out together over the summertime." He'll watch the film and get better - he's his own biggest critic.
Comfort level - "I go out and play, just have fun every week. I feel that I've got nothing to lose." Have fun, play with enthusiasm. Always get out there and have fun with it. Saw Woolfolk's injury and any position switch as an opportunity. "I knew when Troy went down, I knew I had to step up my leadership as a senior."
Half the team probably doesn't even know they're ranked.
Denard "He's the best, man. He's a real down-to-earth guy... I can't say enough good things about him, I'm just proud to be on this team with him."
Jonas Mouton - "Man, I love having him on my side." He's a great ommunicator, always gives 110%.
Extremely impressed with James Rogers's play against ND. "He's always had the work ethic," and just needed a bit of game experience.
The goal is always to win for Michigan. Stay focused and keep the hunger.
"It was one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of." Confidence "I definitely believe this is a step in the positive direction." Still a lot of stuff that needs to be patched up. The road victory is something that can be attributed to hard work and preparation.
UMass has a good group of receivers. Work hard to prepare for them.
On his interception: "It was a big weight off my shoulders, just getting that first one. It's aways elusive." The secondary did well, had some good plays. Gave up a couple plays they wish they could have back.
Unfair perception of the secondary - it's just something out there, everyone's inexperienced. "Every week we've just gotta go out there and prove we really belong here."
File photo courtesy of the Michigan Daily
A couple notes from Michigan's Sports Information Department: Redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony LaLota has asked for, and received a transfer release. Michigan's game against Bowling Green in a couple weeks will be a noon contest on either ESPN or ESPN2.
Notre Dame and UMass
Injuries: Mike Jones suffered broken leg, and is doubtful for the remainder of the season. Brandon Herron sprained his ankle, and is day-to-day. JB Fitzgerald, Mark Moundros, Kenny Demens, and Kevin Leach will step up a bit.
"Anybody that says they don't want to be liked is probably lying to you. Everybody wants to be liked" the only thing that matters is how you react to it. Positive press "It's like poison - just don't swallow it." On bandwagoners: "What I'm worried about is things I can control. Am I a different guy now than I was two weeks ago?" People's perception is whateva for him. "There's probably some people who will still be unhappy. No matter what we do. And they'll be unhappy for the rest of their lives."
The team played well enough to win Saturday, it's not a case of being good enough to win despite playing poorly. Would like to have some plays back, "we're still not good enough to play poorly and win... I still would not like to test that out." There were enough good things to say that the team didn't play poorly.
On penalties - "some of them I still question. Nonetheless, we had them." Late hit on Cullen Christian: "I couldn't tell initially." Coaches film revealed it was a close call, but an unnecessary thing for Christian to do.
Nobody really realized that TJ Jones dropped the ball before scoring the TD. Wouldn't have known anyway, with no video boards in ND Stadium. "It's certainly a teaching moment to tell our guys to run down and jump on the ball." Michigan shouldn't have an issue with dropping the ball before the endzone: "We hand the ball to the official. That would never happen to a Michigan guy."
Poise down the stretch on the road - "You learn a lot on the road... When it's a hostile environment and the crowd goes crazy every time they make a play." There were never any Michigan guys who seemed to be afraid when ND made plays. "Hey, let's go out there and play football" was their attitude.
"I didn't see any panic whatsoever on anybody on the sidelines" after ND took the late lead. Face adversity in every game, they'll learn how to deal with it with experience.
No turnovers - "Denard put it on the ground one time" he was holding it loose, and Vincent Smith's hustle bailed him out.
"Two weeks ago, I'm not sure we'd have been favored" against UMass. Rankings didn't matter then, and don't matter now. Shouldn't bother with polls until October.
RR will bring up Virginia Tech losing to James Madison to remind the guys not to overlook anyone. "Thee's already been what 5? 5 or 6 this year?" FCS beating FBS. In FCS level, the good teams are really really good. If you play an average or below average FCS team, the D-1 teams aren't going to have a problem. "We're playing a good one. UMass is one of the good teams in 1-AA."
"You don't have to be listed as a recruiting service 5-star recruit to be a very good college player or even an NFL guy." Parity b/w 1-A and 1-AA - there are more kids that are getting known now. "All the upgraded facilities." Everyone has somthing to sell to recruits, and kids want to go somewhere they'll play. "We sell the biggest stage and greatest education."
"We'll do whatever we've gotta do to win the game." In the UMass game, they'll do what it takes to get the W, even if it means lots of Denard.
"I'm biased. I think we've got a bunch of good guys." Guys who succeed academically, athletically, and people who are just good guys. Some guys might be misunderstood (I assume he's talking about the Chris Henry, Pacman Jones, Demar Dorsey types), but some guys you know as soon as they're on campus, "this is a great guy." Denard was raised right, and has great family support. Loves football, loves playing at Michigan with his teammates.
Denard is continuing to grow and mature in the offense. Playing on the road was an experience that will help for the future. QBs haven't been hit in practice since camp started. They're not going to beat Denard up in practice. More worried about QBs throwing too much in practice.
Should they shield Denard from the attention? They've already talked about that. Everybody wants to talk to him. Good thing for him, family, and program. He's still got a full class load, practice, etc. "We're really gonna limit him. That's probably not going to make a lot of people happy." He's not seeking attention, though everyone likes being talked about in a positive way.
Denard's performance "continuation of the first game." He executed pretty well. He was hyped up to run at start of game, and would have taken a couple decisions back. Having such a young guy tear up opponents is a surprise. QB-centered offense though. "Denard's been taking a lot of threes" like a point guard who can make you pay for sagging off him.
On Denard's 57 carries - "You coach your team, I'll coach mine." [Ed: sounds like a snap back at Brian Kelly. Doesn't seem like there's much love lost there.] Lots of carries, but they do what it takes to win. Have two good backups. Denard getting better on run game reads and keeping his eyes in the right spot. He has great vision to read blocks - something they've been hamering him on since training camp.
"Some running backs, the more carries they get the better they go. Our running backs are fresh (laughs)."
RBs - They ran hard. There weren't missed reads, their lack of success was just due to the way ND was playing them. Opens up more things for the QB. Denard made a couple bad reads in the run game, but for the most part was sharp. "I think our biggest improvement in the runningback is to be involved not in the running, but the other aspects of it." They blocked well, and ran good routes. They can still block better.
Shaw and Smith "They're playing hard, not breaking a lot of big runs year but I like their effort." They understand the offense, are doing the little stuff, helping Denard with communication. "I'd like to get some of those other backs into the flow." Mike Cox, Stephen Hopkins, and Teric Jones might get into the flow. Fitzgerald Toussaint may be healthy enough to go this week.
Stephen Hopkins: "Yeah, every time he carries, he scores." He's a bigger back, but has a lot of 1-back skills. Getting closer to doing a lot of that stuff.
Roundtree's toughness: "He practiced all week." By Thursday he was doing everything, and there were no issues with the doctors. He made some nice plays. Receivers did a good job blocking downfield, but can still improve.
Outside WRs - "[Denard]'s got a lot of confidence with Roy, Martavious, Darryl Stonum." Hoping Hemingway will come back soon. Not a lot of depth out there. Tay and Stonum taking 80-some snaps - too many.
Downfield was blocking better than game one, but still can improve (from wideouts).
RR doesn't care who gets the yard if the team gets 500 rushing. "Would you like to have more balance? Yeah, if they give you that." "Denard wouldn't have whatever he's got rushing if he didn't have some dudes blocking for him up front."
Will Campbell and Quinton Washington couldn't wait for the game to start, and were hoping for a short-yardage situation. They have a few other packages that they're involved in.
Molk - "He and Steve Schilling are the two emotional leaders up front." Patrick Omameh - "He played better. And he'd be the first one to tell you the first game wasn't his best performance." He still has room to improve. The OL as a whole graded out "OK, it wasn't great. I thought Notre Dame's line got after us pretty good."
Defense good minus big plays - "you have to count the big plays in there." The D still held Notre Dame to six three-and-outs. There were lots of possessions though. They can play better, and missed more tackles than the first week (ND's players and technique issues in tackling were responsible for that). The three interceptions were huge.
Cam Gordon just made two bad plays. Just a technique thing where he misjudged the angles. "He'll be fine."
James Rogers - Really consistent. "He's seen the field, I've been really pleased with his play so far."
Kicking battle still open. Broekhuizen kicked the last extra point. Doesn't know today who will start on Sturday.
Hagerup will punt a lot better than he did on Saturday - just not on his game. "I didn't ask him" if it was technique or nerves "I just said 'can you kick a little better?'" Meram - hasn't been over as much with his soccer responsibilities.
Expecting 30-some guys to show up for walkon tryouts "I think there's gonna be a lot of kickers." "Maybe there's another Kovacs in there. Gosh, would that be great?"
UM Transplant Center - "I know what they do and the lives that they save." Had a staffer at WVU need a transplant to save his life. "I'm an organ donor. It's easy to do on your driver's license." Wolverine-Buckeye challenge to sign up people for organ donor registry. 108k people waiting for a transplant "The entire Big House."
This weekend, believe it or not, seemed to be almost as big of a boost for Michigan in the recruiting department as the first. Denard Robinson is becoming a household name, and turning the heads of high school players all over. This update will be a little different than most, as I'll provide some reactions and quotes from various Michigan recruits.
6'2", 185 lbs.
Mauk is a 2012 prospect from Ohio who has taken in both of Michigan's games so far this season, the first as a Michigan recruit and the second as a guest of Notre Dame. Maty has an interesting recruitment ahead of him as his brother Ben played at Cincinnati for Brian Kelly, but the majority of his family are Michigan fans. MaukL
I like the coaches at both schools, and I talk to both of them quite a bit. My family has liked Michigan since we were kids, and my offensive line coach (Tony Osbun) actually played at Michigan, too.
Mauk's parents and Osbun were in attendance at the UConn game, and everyone came away impressed with the victory. Maty reported that he ran a 4.5 forty during his last attempt, and now has over 900 yards passing and 9 touchdowns in two games.
[Michigan's] offense was clicking a little bit more in the Notre Dame game. I'd feel good in either offense, because we run a five wide spread now, and if we're not passing then I'm the one that runs the ball. Winning for Michigan is a good thing, I'm just going to keep building relationships.
Mauk said he probably won't make his decision early on, and wants to see who ends up being interested in him. Since he can't get a written offer until August, it probably doesn't matter anyway. He's very interested in Michigan, and for him to see two wins in a row in person is a good thing.
6'4", 230 lbs.
Red Bank, New Jersey
Michigan wants a tight end in this class by have whiffed on a number so far. Tabb is very interested in Michigan. I would even go as far as saying M is in his top two right now. He originally wanted to make his decision before the season started, but that got pushed back and it looks like it will be pushed back again:
I'll have all my official visits set up in the next few days. My mom wants them set up, so I need to get that done. Michigan will get one of the officials though.
North Carolina is the other school Tabb is very interested in. If they bring the hammer on UNC, and Michigan's self-imposed sanctions aren't significantly increased, advantage Michigan.
Other Reactions and Notes:
Deion Barnes - The defensive end from PA has Michigan in his top five and has been very impressed with Michigan so far.
Denard Robinson had 500 total yards, that dude's a beast. I need to take a look at how the defensive ends did though.
He was excited, but still wanted to see how the defensive line looked in the wins. Remember, I said before that the coaches told him to wait until the end of the season to take his official visit. I don't know why, it could be so they know where they stand with Zettel.
AJ Jordan - The Trotwood wide receiver was at the UConn game and watched the Notre Dame game on TV. He was also very impressed with the offense. It can only help that he's been watching friend and former teammate Roy Roundtree make plays.
They looked good. I'm not sure when I'm going to get back up there, but I know I'm going to Wisconsin on September 18th. We'll see how that goes so I can compare.
Again I've said this before but I think Wisconsin has the slight lead right now. I think Michigan is closing the gap, but this visit next week to Wisconsin could swing the pendulum in either direction.
- Darian Cooper - He didn't get a chance to watch the game because his team had a game themselves. He did see highlights though, and heard about the stats. He had a similar reaction to most of the others, and was impressed. Cooper has a lot of interest in Michigan, but like many other is watching from afar to see what happens this season. Remember he's become good friends with current Michigan commit Delonte Hollowell, and will be staying with him this winter. If by winter time Michigan is having a winning season, expect the interest level to rise dramatically for Cooper.
Anthony Zettel - He's stated before that he will wait until the end of the season to make his decision, largely stemming from the rumors about job security for Rich Rod and his staff. The wins have not gone unnoticed for Anthony.
I watched the whole [Notre Dame] game on TV, it was pretty cool. I was supposed to go to Iowa this weekend, but I couldn't make it. The winning is helping Michigan a bit, but it's still pretty close. It's Michigan, Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan State right now.
Anthony is playing everything close to the vest right now, but I have a feeling the winning is helping a lot more than "a bit." He's not sure if he's rescheduling the Iowa visit, but he "thinks so." He will however be at Michigan in a couple weeks, most likely for the MSU game.
- Vincent Valentine - A 6-foot-3, 300-pound 2012 defensive tackle from Illinois who holds a Michigan verbal offer says he is definitely interested in Michigan. Valentine also said he's going to try to make it up for a game this season, but he's unsure of which one. Vincent will have plenty of offers to choose from, and plans to take his time.
- Nacho Garcia - First, this. Nacho, who's real name is Abraham, is a 2012 offensive tackle prospect from Florida. Recently featured in an Andy Staple's article for Sports Illustrated, Garcia says he has early interest in Michigan. Nacho is a whopping 6-foot-6, and 339-pounds entering his junior season. He won't rush into anything, but said that everyone knows who Jake Long is, and he knows that Michigan always has a great offensive line. Just a name, and a great one at that, to keep an eye on.
These were some of the recruits I spoke with about their reaction to Michigan's performance. Others weren't as noteworthy, or didn't have as much to say, but trust me they're all watching.
9/11/2010 – Michigan 28, Notre Dame 24 – 2-0
The Daily's Sam Wolson.
Sometimes even the corner of the endzone is a perfect vantage point to see something, and we were right on line to see Dayne Crist heave up what looked like a punt in the general direction of a covered Kyle Rudolph. We saw Cam Gordon take the wrong angle, backtrack desperately to take a futile swat at the ball, and twist his body around as quickly as possible to chase Rudolph. From there it's a dull haze as Notre Dame stadium erupted. The public address announcer, normally as staid and even-handed as Carl Grapentine, finished relating the details by exclaiming something about the rainbow Providence had directed to appear above the stadium at that exact moment.
Michigan fans are no strangers to this sort of thing. Ask anyone who's been around the block a couple times about Notre Dame Stadium and you'll get a recounting of injustices cosmic and otherwise perpetrated on not only Michigan but the idea of free will. Find them in a quiet moment in the dead of winter and get a couple drinks in them and you might hear a rigidly controlled statement about how the things that happen to Michigan's football team in South Bend make the speaker just… I don't know… unsure about certain things. Doesn't matter if they're religious or not. If they are, it's the existence of a just and loving God. If they aren't, it's the absence of a wrathful one. Either way the intensity with which your conversation partner is focusing on the rim of his glass will be unsettling.
The last time I went was 2002. Michigan fumbled four times, committed ten penalties, missed a 32-yard field goal, gave up a safety on a Courtney Morgan holding call, saw a Carlyle Holiday fumble at the two ruled a touchdown, and lost when Navarre's first pass on Michigan's last-ditch drive was batted directly to a Notre Dame defender. Michigan lost 25-23; in their previous two outings Notre Dame hadn't scored an offensive touchdown. I wrote two things about it in the aftermath:
- An Every Three Weekly article titled "John Navarre Blamed For Offense, Defense, Kicking Game, Iraq, 9/11, Everything Else."
- The other half of the infamous article exchange with Blue Gray Sky, in which a small child utterly defeats me by saying "good game, mister" as I attempt to trudge my way home.
The thesis statement of the latter:
To a Michigan fan, every Irish loss over the past ten years has been due to an unfortunate confluence of unlikely events: fumbles, ridiculous refereeing, blocked punts, hilarious deflected passes, etc. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not (though it is): that’s what it feels like. It feels like Michigan has nothing to gain and everything to lose, and everything gets lost on a biannual basis.
When Kyle Rudolph crossed the goal line the thing I thought was not an unprintable string of expletives. It was "of course."
Before the season a reporter from the Hartford Courant called me up for a story he was doing on the UConn game, probably because he saw me as a way to tap into the zeitgeist of the Michigan fan. As these things usually go, he only used one sentence from a fifteen minute conversation. This left out what seemed to me like the most interesting bit of the conversation, where he asked what I thought Michigan football stood for, what made it special and unique.
I had no answer to this. I said "that sounds like a question a Notre Dame fan would love to answer"—which caused the reporter to laugh a little more heartily than objectivity would approve of—and then launched into a narrative that won't be unfamiliar to anyone who's been around here a while. The post titles say it all, really: "Empire of the Fallen." "You Were Killed By A Bear And I Am Sad."
I told the guy that my inability to answer that question any more was kind of the point. The thing that was is dead, having expired from natural causes after a long illness. The thing that replaced it wasn't really anything except incompetent.
Basic understanding of the Michigan zeitgeist is understanding that now there is no answer to the question. Advanced understanding adds that until the Horror there was no program in the country with a more confident answer to it, and puts the two together to find a large number of sad pandas.
And then with 40 seconds left Denard Robinson stared down a blitzing, unblocked Manti Te'o and fired a dart to Roy Roundtree for fifteen yards on third and anything but a field goal attempt. Michigan had done its best to gaffe its way out of it like this uniquely frustrating rivalry demands, but after that it was academic. You try to stop Denard Robinson from going two yards, or seventy-two, or eighty-seven.
The rainbow was not Providence, except insofar as Denard Robinson might be it. It was the Shoelace bat signal, or rather one of many Shoelace bat signals: Flagpoles. Trees. Corned beef sandwiches. Damn near anything. Once summoned not even the vast historical juju of Notre Dame Stadium can do anything about him.
So this thing you dared not hope for starts to coalesce just from the things that happen on the field, and then yesterday morning I was struck by a sense of profound gratefulness when I watched the MGoBlue video of Denard's postgame presser:
I love how he smiles all the time and wears his heart on his sleeve and goes "AHHHH" when someone mentions Roundtree blocking for him and seems about as amazed as everyone else as what he's doing. I love how he drops to one knee after he scores in a way that seems genuine in a way I couldn't comprehend until I saw it. I love that if you ask him he'll sign your forehead. I was going to let my skepticism overwhelm, to wait until it was obvious that 2010 was not going to be 2009, but I lasted two games. I'm in the tank again.
That feeling Johnny identified in 2008 when it became clear that neither we nor Michigan had any idea what it was any more is obliterated. I've got an answer for the Courant now: Michigan is receivers blocking like tiny mountain goats 40 yards downfield because it matters, because if you set Denard free he'll go "AHHHH" at you afterwards. He'll smile and it will seem like the sun is poking through dark clouds, scattering colors in a circle all around you.
BULLETS ARE NO LONGER BULLETS
They're annoying. Now bold section titles. More room. Easier blockquoting. Win.
The unsung hero: Shavodrick Beaver, the backup at Tulsa. Does anyone else remember the sick feeling in your stomach when you found out that Michigan had lost a desperately-needed QB recruit to Tulsa? Funny old world, isn't it?
Denard is like a video game, but to Google it's NBA Jam:
HT to reader Apoorva Bansal.
Crist return. We were only getting the usual scattered texts that actually got through but by halftime it was clear that Crist had some sort of head injury that prevented him from seeing out of one eye. I laughed at my friend's concern that Crist might come back in the second half, reasoning that a head injury severe enough to keep someone out of a half of football is severe enough to keep someone out of a game of football. But lo, Crist rose after this:
Q. What play was it that you got dinged up on and what happened?
DAYNE CRIST: Just running the ball, just took a hit kind of on the side of the helmet. I had trouble seeing out of my right eye after that. Tried to get back into focus. …
Q. Was it your vision?
DAYNE CRIST: Just kind of dazed a little bit and couldn't really see out of my right eye. But that was really it.
How would you feel if Michigan's coach had done that after everything we've heard about concussions the past couple years? Apparently they "did the tests" on the sideline and determined he didn't have one, but it's hard to be comfortable with that decision when it's a debate about in what particular way Crist's brain was messed up.
Ref argh. There have been a lot of complaints about Michigan's many penalties and the lack of ND holding calls—especially after Mike Martin described Chris Stewart getting a "warning"—that I can't comment on yet since I haven't seen the tape, but we saw this live since our endzone was the one it happened in:
What is it with Notre Dame getting free touchdowns on a balls they fumble at the one? No one from Michigan jumped on it, unfortunately, or a review would have been uncomfortable for the home crowd. What happens if a player fumbles into the endzone and it just sits there forever? Does anyone know what the result would have been? You can't claim an inadvertent whistle ended the play until after the ball is out. Commenters seem to think it would have been ND's ball at the one.
Tailback argh. Thirty yards rushing is not so good for all your tailbacks, though as we'll see below Fred Jackson thinks Notre Dame made a bizarre decision to put it all on Denard's shoulders. I'll reserve judgment until I see the tape since the corner of the endzone isn't a great vantage point to draw conclusions, but with a couple of less challenging games coming up it seems like its time to pull the other three kids out of mothballs and see what they can do. Tousssaint's Mike Hart and Chris Perry except fast, after all. That sounds okay.
Flagpole argh. One thing that did not factor into my decision as to which tickets I'd use and which I'd give to my friends: whether or not the flag would be 1) in my LOS and 2) at half-mast. It was kind of hard to see stuff inside the 20 on the far side of the field; people twenty rows higher were probably steamed about Al Qaeda in a way they'd never thought possible.
Denard implosion argh. In the aftermath of another OMG Robinson day the questions about his durability continue. I think they're slightly overblown since Robinson takes way fewer hits from the pocket than most quarterbacks, and hits in the pocket to a stationary target are always the most dangerous. Even so they're not entirely so, which means Robinson should see a reduced workload over at least the next two weeks and hopefully three as Michigan tries to find some confidence in the backup quarterbacks and find a tailback. If it comes down to it, though, you have to put the ball in his hands when it's do or die.
The truly terrifying thing about Denard Robinson is how often he was one downfield block from being gone like he was on the 87-yarder. These blocks got missed way too often, but I guess it's a lot harder to make them when you don't have any idea where the runner is going to be.
Game theory stuff. I agree vigorously with this message board thread about how the Rudolph touchdown was a blessing in disguise since any Notre Dame touchdown drive of actual length would have pulled so much time off the clock its hard to see Robinson leading a drive to win. He can execute a three-minute drill now (obviously), but with one and a half minutes I keep going back to those seams to Roundtree in the third quarter. The first was thrown directly at a linebacker when lofting it was a touchdown; the second was lofted and would have been a touchdown except it was considerably overthrown.
Giving up a 95-yard touchdown is obviously bad, but I think the play once Rudolph is behind the secondary and around the 35 is to let him score. Michigan didn't do this intentionally, but they did prevent the same sort of agonizing touchdown drive they gave up against Wisconsin and Ohio State in 2005, where they soft-shell their way down the field and allow the opponent the opportunity to score for the win with vanishingly little time left.
While we're on the topic, Kelly's decision to go for it from the three at the end of the first half has come in for rampant bashing by Notre Dame fans because it didn't work out but to me it seems like one of those decisions that's so close there's no right or wrong answer. We happen to have a huge database of one-shot plays from the three because that's where two-point conversions are attempted from. The expected value of a field goal from there is basically 3 points. The expected value of going for it is 45% of 7, or 3.15 points… if you assume an average defense and offense. Michigan does not have an average defense but Notre Dame's offense while directed by a third-string walk-on is probably even further below average, so in terms of pure points expected I'm betting Kelly gave up a little when he went for it. On the other hand, when you're down 14 points and you might not get many opportunities to score because you're down to the third-string walk-on you take variance where you can; you should be willing to give up some expectation for it. My gut feeling was that I was unhappy with the decision to go, which means it's probably the right call.
Yardage bit. This has been noted elsewhere, but what a bizarre game. Over 1000 yards of total offense but a winning score of just 28 and 18 punts. In a game where yardage was dead even Michigan was +3 in turnover margin and barely won. This happened because they lost about 40 yards of field position on punt exchanges, missed two field goals, got away with giving up the bomb at the end of the first half, shot themselves not in the foot but the head with penalties, and intentionally gave away 50 yards on Notre Dame's final drive.
So… yeah, Michigan functionally outgained ND by 50 since they weren't trying to stop those first two passes to Floyd, which makes the second week they did that against a BCS opponent. That didn't happen until the Purdue game last year.
Defense? Caveats about the backups in the first half apply but the defense managed to hang in there. Cam Gordon is going to come in for some huge minuses in UFR, but the rest of the defense can't be blamed for 200, maybe 250 (Jones phantom TD, Rudolph TD, long pass @ end of first half, final drive) of ND's 500 yards. Given the number of drives in this game holding ND to 24 points is an accomplishment. After Crist came out of the locker room and led ND right down the field twice I thought we were doomed, but the D got a stop after first and goal and then got five straight stops after. Say what you want about rushing three but I'm pretty sure all three picks were thrown into a three-man rush when the QB could not find anyone open. I'll be adding a "players rushed" tracker to UFR to see if the thing everyone hates actually hurt M.
Field goal argh silver lining. Rodriguez may be forced to do mathematically correct things on fourth and three from the 25.
AnnArbor.com slideshow. Genuinely Sarcastic column makes a good point about Cam Gordon and a box safety spot: ideally that's where he'd be. Doctor Saturday says "at some point you begin to run out of perspective, and adjectives." HSR took video of postgame celebrations. Wolverine Historian has a three-part set of highlights up. USA-Algeria-style bar explosion video from NYC's Professor Thom's. MVictors bullets. The Daily ranks the greatest individual performances in Michigan history, slotting Denard #4 behind three guys who killed Ohio State singlehandedly.
MGoReader scores tickets at face when ND opens up wheelchair seating to the public, sits next to Brock Mealer, and gets told this story:
He told me and a couple of nearby patrons a story about Denard: last week, before the game, he asked our QB if he ever thought about cutting off his dreads in case someone tried to pull him down (a la Polamu). Denard's response?
"If they ever catch me, they can have 'em."
Amongst the great many articles using the above picture and declaring Robinson to be hotter than the surface of Mercury but deploying the same stats and quotes as all the others is Mike Rothstein's from AnnArbor.com, which quotes to Fred Jackson about all those carries:
Notre Dame (1-1) offered no choice. With the defensive fronts the Irish presented, it was Robinson’s ball to carry over and over again….
“A lot of times, his reads tell him to give the ball to the running backs,” Jackson said. “But this game, they were forcing him to run it. They were probably trying to beat him up. But he’s too quick to beat up.”
That's an… interesting decision on the part of the Notre Dame coaches there.
I missed a few of Ryan Terpstra's postgame videos. Here's Jordan Kovacs:
MGoBlog Ballot - Week 3
|1||Ohio St. Buckeyes||1|
|2||Alabama Crimson Tide||1|
|5||Boise St. Broncos||-4|
|6||TCU Horned Frogs||-2|
|17||South Carolina Gamecocks||--|
|20||West Virginia Mountaineers||3|
|22||Penn St. Nittany Lions||-4|
|23||Florida St. Seminoles||-8|
|25||Michigan St. Spartans||--|
|Dropouts: Virginia Tech Hokies, Oregon St. Beavers, North Carolina Tar Heels, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Pittsburgh Panthers, Clemson Tigers|
SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »
A few notes:
- I composed the ballot without looking at last week's offering, so some of the deltas may not make sense. Pay less attention to them this early in the year.
- That said, I'm uncomfortable with Michigan that high (obviously), but... who should be above them? They're one of the very few teams in the nation to take down two BCS-level programs, and they pounded one of them. Who deserves to be ahead of them?
- Boise State suffers from Virginia Tech's embarrassment. Such is the way of college football. The Broncos have a chance to move up if they can beat Oregon State next week, but that will probably be their zenith, barring unforeseen developments.
Also near the top of the poll, I'm willing to give Oklahoma the benefit of the doubt from week 1 after their performance on Saturday. There's also a chance that Utah State will end the season near the top of the
Mountain WestWAC, so the result may not be as bad as it seems.
- Florida has struggled in the first couple weeks, but they've still come away with two wins, both by convincing scores, and one of them against an up-and-coming BCS program.
- I don't like West Virginia moving up after their nailbiter against an apparently-bad Marshall team (or is Ohio State just really good?). Still, the teams behind them all got nuked in high-profilematchups against top teams.
- The last couple spots in the poll are reserved for a pair of teams that have taken care of business by getting wins against poor teams, but doing so unimpressively.
I haven't had a chance to watch many games other than Michigan-Notre Dame thanks to my travel to and from South Bend, but my opinion may change on a couple of teams as I roll through the DVR.