Pic note for Buckeye fans: I see your non sequitur and raise it to allegory.
Are all my troubles here to stay?
Paul McCartney woke up one morning with 90 percent of Yesterday playing in his head. He sat down at a piano, worked out the chords and the melody, and before lunch had created one of the seminal musical achievements of his generation. Then he started tinkering with it. And tinkering. And tinkering.
As told in Yesterday's revisitation by the Beatles on Ukulele project:
Just about everyone around Paul became sick and tired of Yesterday before it was finished. While he was finessing it on the set of “Hard Days Night”, director Richard Lester got so bored of McCartney’s endless fussing that he lost his temper and told Paul to “finish the bloody thing or I’ll have the piano removed from the set.”
It's been 1,035 days since Rich Rodriguez joined the Michigan football program. It's been considerably longer since that morning in 1989 or 1990 when he awoke with an epiphany:
"If they have to defend the QB, I can run from the spread,"
... scribbled some lines on a play sheet, and by lunch had created his generation's seminal football achievement. Then he tinkered.
Like Lester, the Michigan faithful are getting antsy for a finished product. We've seen the spread 'n shred run by Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan, Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. We've gotten used to it, so much so that imperfections, e.g. sophomore quarterbacks throwing interceptions while being chased by Adrian Clayborn, stand out. But this thing is happening. It just tagged the 4th best defense in the nation for 522 yards.
I'm sure every section has their "Unacceptable" person. Section 37's is a shrill lady who yells "You're pissing me off!" whenever something pisses her off. Things that pissed her off yesterday:
Taylor Lewan false starts.
Not converting on 3rd and 16 in the redzone, then missing the field goal
Steve Schilling false starts while standing next to Taylor Lewan
Iowa converting on 3rd and 16 from about the same spot on a give-up-and-kick HB draw
Iowa converting on 3rd and long
Denard throwing up an interceptable duck
Forcier throwing up an interceptable duck
Missing field goals (in general)
Vincent Smith fumbling
Kickoffs going out of bounds at the 3 yard line (this she blamed on RR for not teaching his kickers the rules)
Lots of other stuff that was Rich Rod's fault.
Later in the evening I found myself on a grimy, uncomfortable couch in the backyard of my sister's boyfriend's place in Commerce, filled with far more rum & apple cider than the human digestive system was ever designed for, and trapped between my sister's friend and Misopogal, while they attempted to fill the space I was clearly occupying with natter about earrings and piercings.
So I sent out drunk texts: about Kenny Demens's apparent middle linebacker competence, and 522 yards, and making coaches prepare for both Forcier and Denard, and improbability drives. (Side note: sending the same drunktext to multiple friends is not advised, unless you are prepared to have six text conversations at once about the same topic.)
I'm still not sure how to take these last two games, Diary. Right about the same time in 1990, when the now-ratty couch was probably some respectable couple's living room, MTV was voting Paul's opus the greatest pop song in history, and Rich Rodriguez was scribbling the first zone-read play, Michigan under Year One of Moeller had also just lost two home games to Michigan State and Iowa in quick succession, falling to 3-3 (1-2). That team ultimately won out and finished No. 7 in the AP poll. It also had Tripp Welborne.
Do I long for yesterday? I remember when, not too long ago, we were Iowa, sitting the safeties back, betting on Woodley et al. to force the offense into mistakes, getting a two-score lead, then shifting to a zone-left neutral while "that spread team" created a far-too-interesting 4th quarter. Then we won (except when we didn't).
But I woke this morning with as much hope as hangover. Sure this looks like last year (I just made Brian's naughty list): the comeback over Notre Dame, the slaying of MACrifices, the defensive-exposing Big Ten opener against Indiana, and losing to MSU and Iowa after three quarters of getting dominated followed by a just-short comeback, right down to the excuse of the Heisman candidate QB's bum shoulder.
The difference: when Denard gets hurt, there's Tate behind him. We didn't put up 522 yards against the No. 4 defense in the country because we have Denard, nor because we have Tate, but because we have both of them. The genius of the Beatles wasn't in John Lennon or Paul McCartney, but in Lennon & McCartney.
So I don't want yesterday. I want collaboration. Start each game with Denard, and after a few series, assess. If he's gashing them for big yards so that the opponent has to bring their safeties into the box to open up the "freakout" plays, Robinson stays in. If, like with Iowa and MSU, they're generally keeping Denard to 3- to 5-yard runs without sacrificing coverage, in comes Tate, our "improbability drive," who will either score spectacularly or flame out spectacularly -- hey, if we're losing, changing the game dynamic is a good thing. If, by luck/Forcier-Moxie, we even it back up, back goes Denard and long QB-Iso drives that may or may not flame out around the opponent's 25 -- like Lloyd ball except it gets 5.5 yards per carry and doesn't turn the ball over.
This is only if Denard's passing struggles against good defenses continues. If he regains his accuracy from the Notre Dame game, then on with the Dread Show.
Some things can't improve. Jordan Kovacs isn't going to get fast enough to pick off that Rick-Six, nor is James Rogers ever going to be able to recover from a stop-and-go in time to cover the back of the end zone.
But Gordon will probably learn how to tackle, and I wasn't imagining that MLB competence. Our defense, while missing its best player, was making 2 out of 3 plays, which is a big improvement from the 1 in 3 earlier this year. Next year the sophomore offense will be a junior offense, and the freshman defense will be a sophomore defense. Take away a third of the mistakes in Yesterday and we make big.
Like you, I'm impatient to witness the final cut of Rich Rod's supposed masterpiece at the end of Help! But I wasn't impatient when I was sitting on that couch. I was messed up and thinking crazy thoughts like "How can a coach plan for both Tate and Denard?" -- and a collaboration that might produce the football equivalent of Rubber Soul and Revolver before these two guys graduate....and how that stuff was way cooler than Yesterday. This isn't the end of the line; this is a 4-loss team, like the ones that pissed Section 37 Lady off in 1996, except the four losses will be because of youth and talent deficiency instead of complacency. This is a young, mistake-prone team who can't kick field goals, but whose best days are still ahead of them.
Those are just my thoughts this week. Here's some much more reasonable ones...
After yesterday's game, bronxblue went ahead and provided a little perspective, telling his story in the only way such a tale could be told: Bruce Willis Movie Posters.
User mi93 created a diary called -- stop me if you've heard this before -- "Dear Diary," where things like the following are said:
What matters is this – this is your team, to encourage, to cheer, and to support. These are young men who appear to be representing the university with far greater class than some of us. And this team deserves our passion for them to succeed, without our inflated expectations for what we think they should be.
The sentiment is a good reminder for...uh...mostly people who don't read MGoBlog. As for the name, our lawyers have been in contact with mi93; we want the pants!
Wowzers - mistersuits totally nailed it (FTR I said 38-28 too -- and for those of you familiar with BHGP regulars, is Bellanca like their version of me, or a contrarian dufflepud chief..uh...like me?), and everyone was so close that the most inaccurate prognosticator was the guy from the future. Nobody said nuffin' about 522 yards and an extended Tate Experience, but when you know the final score of Saturday's game on Friday morning, you gotta leave some surprise for the viewers.
For pinpointing the final score, and because his weekly work deserves some recognition, I'm naming mistersuits your Eric Crouch Memorial Career-Reward for Another Good Season Diarist of the Week (FTR I would have given that one to Randel El).
Michigan at the Midway
After six games, MGoDiarists took the opportunity to assess Michigan's season at its half-way point (not counting bowls...natch).
Let's start with that by shorts, which is actually an Interactive Mid-Season Recap. Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP, Best play, "Clutch-est" play, Best freshman, Unsung hero, Biggest disappointment, and Best moment all have nominations. He updates as he goes.
Regular diary hero The Mathlete put Michigan's first six matches into his PAN and fried up a little season projection:
As he notes in the diary, this is a full game and a half behind where we were after Indiana, largely because MSU was supposed to be close and wasn't, but also because Michigan's remaining opponents improved their competence at the same time. In case "written by The Mathlete" wasn't enough, I reiterate: go read.
Communist Football again updated his Denard records book after MSU, though I'm sure the Iowa numbers have put some dampness on the projections.
Our favorite background artist monuMental is back in business after his legal snafu got sorted out a bit -- you saw his latest on the main page late last week.
The this week in pillowfights column of stubob continued with a short week (and I spiced it up a bit for fun).
Some other M sports got mentions. The first to highlight is the bumped-from-the-boards collection of cagers notes from mgoblue.com junky MGoShoe, which started as a note about there being no midnight basketball this year, and turned into a press conf. recap with all sorts of good stuff, including the news that Evan (gonna try to spell this from memory here) [Smotcrycz]...dammit, it's Smotrycz. S-M-O-T-R-Y-C-Z. I'm gonna get that right eventually. Golden something goes to whoever can come up with the best mnenomic to remember it.
Meanwhile, if you think it's time to start paying attention to the volleyball squad, then 1) you're absolutely correct, since they're awesome this year, and 2) Tom from AA has you covered.
Lourdfoul learned some things about this year's team after the Michigan State game, such as:
Denard Robinson is not an Ice-in-his-veins gunslinger. His throws have great zip and are largely accurate, especially so when the throw is shortish or his target is stationary. Against Indiana (and the rest of the schedule so far) his receivers have been so open that a slightly inaccurate ball wasn't noticeable. Against Michigan St the receivers were covered much better, and the picks in the end zone were the result.
Other Lordfoul lessons: Obi Ezeh is to blame, Kovacs is not, Cullen Christian should be moved to...linebacker?!? I stopped reading there and moved on to fisk in the comments (then didn't fisk). But others did, and the discussion is enlightening with regards to what happened this week.
User schmakj wants to head off any "West Virginians are X" memes among the Michigan fanbase, because: Fielding Yost. I mention it only to let other diarists know what is my absolute maximum tolerance for diary topics. This has some redeeming discussions on the ties between West Virginia and the Michigan football program, which as FYI are enough to keep in on the board. As to whether a state's contribution to Michigan football can redeem it for general douchebaggery, here's the place that gave us Bo, Desmond, and Woodson:
HeismanPose has up his post-Iowa Sunday Morning Stats, (e.g. Michigan is 3rd in total offense, 17th in scoring), which you should memorize every week.
Also in statistics, Enjoy Life gives us our weekly update on turnovers and special teams, where in just two short weeks, the 2010 season has gone from from YES! to HELP! and has a Chart? chart that perpetuates the hateful "2010 = 2009" meme:
Last week's came after I posted Dear Diary, but it's here, and basically says that turnovers are going to play a huge role in Michigan's fortunes this year (after one week: uh huh). The upside: if Michigan manages to get in and out of Happy Valley without crapping any beds, and everyones' dongs survive Illinois, we can get off that track. Until this happens, however, I advise an extra pair of sheets and Everlast undergarmentry.
Not THIS dong!