The Climb: Part XI: No Flags

The Climb: Part XI: No Flags

Submitted by Dr. Sap on November 20th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

[Ed-Seth: This being the 20th anniversary of the 1997 National Championship, Michigan historian Dr. Sap is taking us game-by-game through it. Previously: Those Who Stayed (Colorado); The Hit (Baylor); The Stop (Notre Dame); The Captain’s Down(Indiana); Vengeance (Northwestern), Gut Check (Iowa), Six Picks (Michigan State), The Trap (Minnesota), Judgment (Penn State), The Crucible (Wisconsin)]


01 LEAD bhl_bl007586_full_5999_4790__0_native

[Robert Kalmbach, via UM Bentley Library]

November 22, 1997: #1 Michigan 20, #4 Ohio State 14

  • also #2 FSU 29, #10 Florida 32 who remembers when we were huge Gator fans?
  • also also not that it should matter but just in case “undefeated” Nebraska tries to stake a bogus claim to a championship that shoulde be Michigan’s and Michigan’s only, a struggle vs unranked team ought to take care of that, and lo and behold: #3 Nebraska 27, Colorado 24

Materials: Box Score. Cumulative stats. Articles. WH Highlights, Part II, Entire broadcast by j bakkar, or if you want to watch this with friends we’ll have it on at the MGoBlog Tailgate before The Game on Saturday.


Back in 1997, there was no B1G Conference Championship Game. That meant THE GAME between Michigan and Ohio State was going to be for all the marbles – sort of.

It was #1 UM (10-0) going against #4 OSU (10-1). It was essentially for the Rose Bowl, with a slight twist. If Michigan won, they would be the outright Big Ten champs and go to the Rose Bowl. If Michigan lost and Penn State defeated Wisconsin and Michigan State -- there would be a three-way tie for the Big Ten title (with OSU & PSU) -- Michigan would still go to the Rose Bowl under the Big Ten tie-breaker rule, unless Ohio State was ranked #1 or #2 in either major poll, in which case the Rose Bowl would be obligated to take OSU.

Got all that?

[Hit THE JUMP to go back to that cold terrifying morning]

Neck Sharpies: The Anti-State Screen That Nearly Worked

Neck Sharpies: The Anti-State Screen That Nearly Worked

Submitted by Seth on June 24th, 2016 at 9:33 AM

In the Kindle Edition of HTTV for this year (oh by the way that exists) I added a sidebar/article on Michigan State's defense and different ways to attack it. With Quarters coming back into vogue to combat the spread, and Quarters teams getting super-aggressive against the run, offenses have been pulling the old Spurrier trips-and-triangle stuff to attack it. But Quarters is not new, and there are some other good answers out there for an overzealous defense from the two-back offenses that dominated the '80s and '90s.

Here's an oldie but a goodie, the Tunnel (or Jailbreak) Screen to a running back:

A-Train motioned out to the flat, essentially becoming a receiver. Chris Floyd stayed in as an Ace back, then he drifted out the other way to draw people away from where Thomas is going. DeBord caught the Buckeyes in one of TENUTA!!!!'s crazy blitzes that overloaded the backside. The running backs flying out horizontally pulled the linebackers out of the middle. Then Thomas cut back in, and by the time the outside guys can react to that there's an A-Train a-comin' with a lead blocker. It's a race between him and the flat defender for ALL the yards. Flat guy won.


(And Tuman got away with a hold).

This play never went away; they run tunnel screens out of spreads all the time with receivers coming in. Whereas bubble screens attack the defense in the space outside, tunnel screens get the defense moving hard one way to defend the edge, then pass it to a good athlete coming the opposite direction. Like a cutback run, if the screen target can accelerate downfield before the defenders can reverse momentum and converge, it could be a huge gain.

DeBord brought that out in '97 because OSU was blitzing guys off the edge. In 2011 vs MSU Borges (unsuccessfully since he didn't have the personnel) tried to make it a hot read to Vincent Smith. It's particularly good to run against a defense that's getting upfield too aggressively and dropping other guys back, since it attacks the space between them. As you might have guessed, if you catch the linebackers blitzing too that space could be huge, which is why this is fun to run on passing downs.

* [Moore was technically a free safety in '97 but the way OSU played twins this game was to have the CBs follow their receivers and leave Moore the strong side overhang DB.]

[After the jump: Harbaugh's version]

This Week's Obsession: Good Times With "Phew!"

This Week's Obsession: Good Times With "Phew!"

Submitted by Seth on June 10th, 2016 at 2:45 PM

The Question:

via Jane:

The Responses:

Adam: Michigan started the 1997 game against Ohio State—you know, the one with a shot at the Rose Bowl and national championship game on the line--with three three-and-outs; a five-play, zero-yard drive; and an eight-play drive that ended in yet another punt. Deep in the second quarter, Michigan was facing 3rd and 12 from their own 47 when Brian Griese hit Charles Woodson on a square-in for 37 yards.

Chris Floyd picked up 15 on the next play to put Michigan at the one-yard line, and Anthony Thomas punched it in one play later for Michigan's only offensive touchdown of The Game. That third-down conversion was one of two Michigan had in a game that came down to the last three minutes; I shudder to think what would happen if Woodson doesn't catch that ball.

[After the JUMP: more things that didn't go bad]

MGoExclusive: One-on-One with Charles Woodson

MGoExclusive: One-on-One with Charles Woodson

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on May 12th, 2016 at 10:05 AM



Don't tell the SEC, but Charles Woodson has been on something of a satellite camp tour of his own lately, crossing the country to meet fans and talk wine. Woodson's the proprietor of Charles Woodson Wines, and he and director of operations Rick Ruiz have been holding events where fans get a chance to taste some of the company's offerings (like the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list) and purchase autographed bottles of said wine. Woodson and Ruiz were in Ann Arbor for an event at the new Plum Market near North Campus yesterday, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Woodson for a few minutes to talk about some of his memories of Michigan.

If you're beating yourself up because you missed the event yesterday you should stop, but you're going to need to cancel your plans for this afternoon: Charles will be at the Plum Market in West Bloomfield (6565 Orchard Lake Rd.) from 4-6PM; there's no tasting event today, but you can purchase a bottle of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, get it autographed by Woodson at no additional cost, and ask that burning question you've had since '97.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Michigan?

"My favorite memories? I don't know. I mean, of course it all revolves around football, you know. [laughs] But really it was, let's say memories of dorm rooms all of us stayed in, because most of us were in West Quad or South Quad. So it was just the times that we all spent together in the dorms. We were all kind of close knit, especially your class. The times we spent together in our rooms, whether we were partying or whatever it was, it was always great."

The [annual West Quad v. South Quad] snowball fight?

"Snowball fight, mmhmm. And then of course the games. My first time running out in '95, running onto the field and kind of losing my breath that first game because I had been in the Big House before but never as a player, and all of a sudden I'm a player and it's like 'oh, wow.' Kind of the magnitude of it hit me. Then of course the Ohio State game with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, winning that game, the punt return, and the rose in the mouth. I'd say that's five things right there."

In that game, did you allow that receiver a free inside release to bait Stanley Jackson into throwing an interception in the endzone?

"Well, it wasn't deliberate to let him inside, but it was deliberate to undercut him because it was in the endzone and you're always taught, you know, in the endzone the guy's not running a deep route- there's nowhere to go. So you undercut the route and the quarterback threw it right to me, so it worked out."

Did you have a favorite defensive play call or coverage that you guys ran when you were in college?

"No, I didn't. I mean, it was pretty simple what we did. Either I was in man-to-man or it was Cover 3 for the most part. But I played on the wide side of the field most of the time so no, I didn't have a favorite call."

Was there any receiver you had a bigger rivalry with in college than David Boston?

"Uh, no. Yeah, he was the biggest. He was the one that talked the most noise, you know, on that team. He was their star receiver and of course me being on defense, it was kind of a natural thing. So yeah, he would have been my biggest competition."

How did you get into wine and winemaking?

"So I spent a lot time in Napa Valley as a result of being picked there. The Oakland Raiders' training camp was in Napa Valley, and so as a result of being there three and a half-four weeks every training camp I used to spend a lot of time in the Valley at different restaurants just kind of watching people interact with wine, and I became very interested in it. I decided a few years after that that I would get into it."

This Week's Obsession: The Best Game

This Week's Obsession: The Best Game

Submitted by Ace on July 11th, 2014 at 2:14 PM

The question this week is a simple one. Of the Michigan games you've attended, which one is your favorite, and what makes it stand out so much?


Seth: I've got so many Michigan memories with my dad that I can't separate (or I'm just not ready to think about) them, but even if I could it would still be the one when I started going without him that sticks out: The '98 Penn State game.

It was a chilly, kind of overcast, sweatshirty Michigan fall afternoon and I was a first-year flying solo. My freshman year came right after the national championship and the "Halo" stadium expansion, and that meant fewer student seats available with way too much demand. The freshmen were at the bottom of that list, thus I wound up with the option of getting only a "half-pack" or no tickets. Since I went to all the games with my dad and his friends anyway, what did it matter? So it wasn't until the PSU game, when my dad wasn't going, and Steve Kyritz offered me his ticket, that I got to see my first game from the student section. Since I'd been informed not sitting in your seat was SOP in that mass of human bodies, I wound up squeezed and standing sideways on a bench in the 30-somethings.

And it was a hell of a game to do that. That PSU team was very good (they came in ranked #9) and the last time we'd faced them was Judgment Day/Party at Bollinger's House. Michigan was still floundering in the #20s because of the two losses to open the season.

What made the day was each time Penn State got near us they'd get blown back by three sections of 18- to 21-year old raging psychotics possessed of toilet paper rolls and marshmallows. The Nits didn't arrive until later in the 1st quarter, and Michigan blocked a FG. They came down again and Michigan stood them up on the goal line three times before PSU let time expire in the quarter to get the hell away from us (they didn't get in on 4th down either). In the 4th quarter Penn State kept getting pinned deep against us, and the linemen couldn't hear the calls, meaning we were treated to a TFL fest. Michigan won 27-0 and by Mondaywas back in the top 15.

Michigan with my dad was this paced thing we enjoyed like a baseball game while he and his best friend worked through their complicated lives. His standard cheer was a clap-clap-fistpump. PSU '98 was the first time I experienced the Big House as a visceral thing I did with my whole body. I still sat with my dad at least a game a year, but when it came time to sign up for '99 student tickets I was one of the first in line.

The Mathlete: I don't think that was the real ticket, I didn't see the official game sponsor noted anywhere.

[Hit THE JUMP for the obvious answer, a far less obvious answer, and one that falls somewhere in the middle.]