Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-6-12: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-6-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on November 6th, 2012 at 3:04 PM

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Hey coach, how ya doin’?

“Better than last week, that’s for sure. It was good to get a win on the road. Glad that game is over with. Now it’s time to get these guys back at home and g et our seniors one of the last two times back in that stadium and play defense like we’re suppsoed to play.”

Can you talk about the early defensive effort in the game, particularly in light of having a new starter at quarterback?

“Yeah, I mean we understand the situation that we were in in that ball game, and we talked about it. That if you’re going to be a championship defense, then you have to do whatever you have to do to not let people score. It doesn’t matter how many times, what happens, turnovers-wise, where they get the football, then you have to stop them or you have to get the football back. And that takes everybody playing hard, everybody running to the football, and the biggest thing is you can’t give them big plays. You cannot allow in that situation someone to get a cheap one, and that’s what our guys preached. I was proud of them. Again, you hear us say this, we aren’t close yet, but they did do some good things. They did a really good job in the red zone. They did a really good job by the goal line, and that’s one of our big things is ‘Give me a place to stand, don’t let them in until they’re in,’ and we did that, but they shouldn’t have gotten there. That’s the thing we looked at. When we had a short field, we played pretty good at times, but when we had the long field, we let them get down there to make it a short field. We’ve got to get that corrected and we have to get that changed.”

Hokepoints: Michigan's Running Game, A Diagnosis

Hokepoints: Michigan's Running Game, A Diagnosis

Submitted by Seth on November 6th, 2012 at 5:55 AM

Runninggame

The dorm room has a shrine to Fred Jackson they call "Like Borobudur but more majestic"

Seth, doctor of blogging, is acting residential advisor for South-of-South Quad Residence Hall, Floor 1. Having heard reports that the occupant of Rm. 219, registered as "Michigan's Running Game" has 'not been himself' lately, the good doctor attempts to ascertain the source of his charge's recent morosity. He knocks on the door…

So, hey Michigan's Running Game.

Hey.

Alright if I come in?

Sure.

You've been kinda quiet this semester.

Yeah.

… Look, I haven't known you to be the kind of dude to go into a shell. Not since you broke up with DeBord, anyway. Um, you okay there man?

… [sigh].

What's wrong?

Oh you know, things.

Year Rush YPC* Rush S&P+ Rk
2010 6.05 137.3 2
2011 6.19 141.7 4
2012 5.77 120.8 23

* (Called running plays when Denard is QB, no short situations. 2012 stats are through Nebraska because this is from my UFR database and Brian hasn't UFR'ed Minnesota yet. S&P+ is a Fremeau EDIT: Bill Connelly (they're all football outsiders) stat that measures success based on down, field position, and strength of opponent. Higher is better. FWIW these stats have been screwy this year but I think rushing yardage is the part that's actually working.)

That's…that's not so bad man, 5.77 YPC is pretty respectable.

Yeah but I'm supposed to be much better than 'pretty respectable.'

Cause Denard and Toussaint and most of the line back?

That and I'm MICHIGAN fergodsakes. Plus I think a lot of that 5.77 is Denard shooting off long runs against Air Force and Purdue. Here's a table so you know what I mean.

tableofruns

I see. Wait, what the hell is that?

A table of all the runs charted in that stat. So like that gray peak is the 2010 offense getting lots of 4-yard runs, and the yellow peak is the 2011 offense getting stopped for just 2 yards a lot. And the lines at the bottom are polynomial trend lines.

Poly—? Dammit man, I'm a doctor, not a physicist.

See how the yellow and gray lines follow the same trend but the blue one doesn't? The 2012 offense is ripping off big runs more often, but not getting those 5- to 12-yard runs with the same regularity.

I understand. I'll see if I can find what's going on. You mind if I ask some questions?

Sure.

[After THE JUMP: Is it for want of play calling, tougher competition, or Molk?]

Monday Presser Transcript 11-5-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 11-5-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 5th, 2012 at 5:56 PM

Bullets:

  • Denard is improving slowly.
  • Russell Bellomy is suffering from Things and Stuff. Probably. Hoke wouldn't comment. Whatever it is should not be season-ending, however.
  • Mario Ojemudia's status is up in the air because he has a Boo Boo.
  • Jeremy Gallon is taking it easy with his ankle issue, but should be good to go on Saturday.
  • The coaches have talked about bringing in Jack Miller or Joey Burzynski to address some of the interior offensive line issues. 

-------------------------

Presser

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Opening remarks:

“We all set? I was obviously pleased with the win on the road. Every week is a championship game, and we look at it that way, so going to Minneapolis and winning was important. Did we play our best? No. I don’t think we did. Kicking game and a lot of areas we have to do a better job -- kicking, covering, punting. We had two dumb penalties, the blocks in the back that obviously moves the ball back, puts you in a worse position. Defensively [I] thought we kept ourselves in the game and at the same time, we need to do a better job against the run. Didn’t think we did as well a job against the rush, but that being said, it kept us in the game offensively. We talked afterwards. I thought Devin did a nice job managing the offense. Thought he made some plays, extended some plays, and did a great job in that area. On the one pick, it was one that he’d like back, we’d all like back, but I think he learned from it. Took care of the football and did a nice job.

“This week we play a very good football team in Northwestern. Well coached, and I have a lot of respect for Pat. How he coaches and how his team plays. They have some threats, you know, offensively. Venric Mark is an extremely shifty, quick runner. Does a tremendous job. I think they’re blocking well up front. Defensively, overall as a team they’re plus six in turnover margin, which is a very good number, so from the defensive side, they’ve done a good job. They’ve only thrown three interceptions on the year. That’s with both quarterbacks in -- Colter and Siemian. So they’re doing a nice job managing that part of it. And Tyler Scott on the defensive side is a guy who’s very active. Leads the Big Ten in sacks and forced fumbles. We have our work cut out for us.”

And On Third Down, He Rose Again

And On Third Down, He Rose Again

Submitted by Brian on November 5th, 2012 at 12:19 PM

11/3/2012 – Michigan 35, Minnesota 13 – 6-3, 4-1 Big Ten

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Erin Kirkland/Daily

The only press box I've ever been in is Eastern Michigan's, and I was there to watch Devin Gardner play. He was at Inkster; Inkster was in the Big Day Prep Showdown. We even live-blogged it. The cadre of grizzled preps guys sat a few seats down. Their silverback called Gardner "high school superman" and Paul taped him from the sideline.

In an eerie prefiguring of Denard Robinson's career, Gardner had a ridiculously high percentage of Inkster's yards and made everyone feel ill when he got knocked out of the game. Inkster was on a grinding fourth quarter drive with Inkster down two. They had no kicker, so on fourth and seven from the eight they went for it. Gardner did a Vince Young impression down to the one and did not get up.

image

The backup came in to guide Inkster to minus three yards on the next three plays. Gardner was reinserted for fourth and the game. He rolled out into heavy resistance, drew coverage to him, and threw a weird mechanics-free jump pass that scored the go-ahead touchdown. His teammates celebrated; he laid under a defender. Defender removed, Gardner got up like a glacier tired of gouging lakes out of mountains. Weary. A thousand years weary.

image

In the press box, the preps silverback spake thusly: "and on fourth down, he rose again."

[UPDATE: Damn my memory. This was actually a Tim tweet. Sorry I didn't remember it right and work you in all fancy-like, Tim.]

--------------------------------

With Gardner on the sideline, Pioneer went 68 yards in 49 seconds to win. At halftime, the Free Press had launched their Rodriguez jihad, sucking any attention his Lazarus comeback may have generated out the airlock.

That's just how being Devin Gardner has gone. He arrived with an armload of hype and fell prey to an avalanche of it wearing dreads. He didn't even get to preserve his redshirt year thanks to Tate Forcier's inability to keep on the sunny side of life and Denard going out in about 2/3rds of Michigan's games. He moved to receiver, but called himself a quarterback. He saw the Nebrasaka game up close and personal. What was he thinking then about where he had ended up?

-------------------------------

Things happen and you feel certain ways about them and you can only figure out why you felt the things you felt in the moment later, after. From distance I think my extremely complicated yesssnononononoyessss response to Gardner's rolling out stopping neh neh neh no lets turn around and run the other way touchdown heave was comprised of these three things:

  1. Seeing that Dileo had broken open by twenty yards.
  2. Remembering Devin's high school superman act.
  3. Remembering what happened when he tried to matriculate that upwards. Yeah, it's the MSU yakety sax clip. I didn't need to tell you this.

It was third and seventeen and Michigan hadn't been able to move the ball a lick against Minnesota, so that colored my expectations as well.

Mostly I expected that something hilariously bad would occur and I would tweet out gallows humor while scouting out Goldy for some Ohio Bobcat action. This expectation got much better when Gardner cleared the containment and broke to the backside of the play. It got worse again when Devin chucked it without setting his feet, and then it was a touchdown and I'm just like…

oh. That was madcap. That's not happening again but at least we're seven points closer to not losing this game. I wonder how we will get any more? I think we should try the triple reverse throwback bomb to Lewan. Works every time when the universe has turned into a cartoon.

Michigan went with "fade route to 5'8" receiver in jet boots." Close enough. No one adjusts to the laws of physics going all looney tunes like the Michigan Wolverines.

Yeah, Minnesota is just a high school team with a nice stadium that disguised their pass defense in the wreckage of 2012 Big Ten quarterbacking. Yeah, everyone is getting way ahead of themselves praising Gardner when his performance seemed split about 50/50 between yakety sax (but good!) and receivers bailing Gardner out on balls they have no business catching. Yeah, Gardner's mechanics still look bizarre. The main takeaway from that game was uh-oh, Ohio State. Sure.

I don't think Devin Gardner cares after years of being a two-snap sideshow. That ridiculous heave was the first hint that he might be able to hack it next year, and that's a huge relief for everyone. It took three years and third and seventeen, but Devin Gardner got up and recaptured some of that old magic.

Media

Gallery from the Daily. Detnews game story and gallery. Here's another for the Hoke pointin' files:

(caption)  Michigan head coach Brady Hoke shouts some instructions to his players in the second half.   *** After trailing 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, in which they gained just 9 yards, The Michigan Wolverines, led by backup quarterback Devin Gardner, came roaring back to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 35-13 to retain the Little Brown Jug. The victory at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis improved the Wolverines' record to 6-3 (4-1 Big Ten). Photos taken on Saturday, November 3, 2012.  ( John T. Greilick / Detroit News )

John T. Greilick/Detnews

Photos from MVictors. This is epic:

2KindaNiceCopy_thumb[1]

 Obligatory jug shots from same:

3JugOut_thumb[1]

Highlights again:

Hoke postgame; players postgame.

Bullets

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumbBrady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week.

A close race this week. I did tweet "JMFR" after that and meant it. Nine tackles, five solo, three TFLs, various other things that don't show up on the scoreboard but let other people make plays. However, Jake Ryan got edged again and I'm pretty sure he was the guy who let Minnesota's tight end get so wide open on their touchdown.

So… Wide Receivers As A Unit, come on down! Drew Dileo: I'm not even laughing at the inevitable Wes Welker comparisons. Jeremy Gallon: separate like a boss, leap like a man with rocket boots. Roy Roundtree: Devin Gardner TARP. If those three guys don't collectively play out of their minds the narrative about Gardner is quite a bit different today.

Honorable Mention. Devin Gardner, about whom more in a bit, Jake Ryan(beastmode on several plays), Jordan Kovacs (damn you fluck), Desmond Morgan (when he hits you on third and short stops happen).

Epic Double Point Standings.

3: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska).
0.3: Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota)

Brady Hoke epic double troll of the week. This is just magnificent:

Coach Brady Hoke said after the game Gardner now is entrenched as Michigan's backup quarterback while Bellomy deals with an undisclosed injury, although he was guarded about what exactly is ailing the redshirt freshman.

"Russell's situation is a little different," Hoke said. "Not one I want to discuss."

Asked to clarify whether the issue is injury related, Hoke said "Most likely. Yes. A boo boo."

There's an art installation about the nature of truth and reality in Hoke press conferences. UMAA, get on that.

BONUS TROLL THAT MAKES IT DOUBLE: When Michigan announced that Denard Robinson wouldn't play after Hoke said he "will start," they described Denard's injury like so:

The Michigan Athletic Department delivered the sobering news minutes before kickoff: senior quarterback Denard Robinson would not start against Minnesota due to an “undisclosed injury.”

Hoke is "very optimistic" he'll be back next week. Amazing thing: that was the first game Denard has ever missed with injury.

Obligatory Gardnertake. Obviously he'll be the backup QB the remainder of the year what with Denard being even more fragile than normal and Russell Bellomy being both injured and the primary author of the second half of the Nebraska game. And he's finally done something other than worry everyone about his future not living up to what people were hoping it would be. This is major progress.

I still find myself way on the conservative end of reaction to Gardner's performance. Some other blog takes to set the table:

"After a frightening start, Gardner was amazing.  I’m amazed that he can spend basically one week preparing for this game and do that.  Yes, I realize it was The Gophers and like everyone else I’m prone to oversteer after a win, but that was remarkable.  So that is the 5 star guy that everyone was salivating over out of high school."

-MVictors

Also at MVictors, Steve Sapardanis:

WOW!!! His performance evoked three words from me: Poise, Confidence and WOW!!

SMQB:

Robinson didn't play at all, and converted receiver Devin Gardner made him look utterly expendable. Lining up at quarterback for the first time this season, Gardner was 12-of-18 for 245 yards – he had three completions covering at least 45 – and two touchdowns, good for a sky-high pass efficiency rating of 206.6.

Meinke's headline-writin' guy:

Devin Gardner's stellar performance leads Michigan to rout

This may be an effect from sitting in the stadium instead of catching it on TV: Gardner had plenty of wide open dudes, and his throws were erratic. On the one hand, there was the picture-perfect bomb to Gallon; on the other, Dileo and Roundtree bailed Gardner out hardcore on the touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. The Dileo catch was a circus catch all the way, one that could have been made much easier.

2TreezyLook1[1]2YouKNowit[1]

Roundtree == Gardner TARP. MVictors

Meanwhile Roundtree broke open by yards and would have had an easy touchdown if Gardner had gotten the ball to the endzone on the opposite hash. As it was he had to circus Michigan out of an interception. I'm torn on pressured completions to Jerald Robinson and Roundtree that were wobblers but did pick up big chunks.

Gardner does have a much better sense of when to run around like a lunatic than Denard. His High School Superman mode picked up the Dileo touchdown and a critical third down conversion on Michigan's second touchdown drive. He's still having trouble adjusting to what he can get away with in college, as his second attempt to reprise his MSU 2012 Yakety Sax (except good(!)) ended in a crazy whip-around throwaway that is easy to see resulting in something worse than a harmless ball out of bounds.

Compounding everything is the complication that Minnesota is Minnesota, and Minnesota, despite being Minnesota, was the top pass efficiency defense in the league entering the game. I tend to give more credence to the Minnesota bit of that given Ace's FFFF of Jared Abbrederis hand-wavingly wide open and seeing plenty of that in person Saturday. Gardner had doorwalls, not windows.

Okay, yeah. Michigan called maybe one or two runs for Gardner, which was frustrating but

The passing game wasn’t difficult to acclimate to, Gardner said, but recognizing new protections and familiarizing himself with the ground game took some time. He called offensive coordinator Al Borges’ gameplan a “safe” one, due to the extreme lack of depth at quarterback.

“They couldn’t run the quarterback,” Gardner said. “I’m comfortable with doing that, but there was no way we could have done that, it just wouldn’t have been smart.”

…okay yeah I'm with you.

Running game, turrible. Michigan got a short-yardage romp from Fitzgerald Toussaint in garbage time to make the final numbers look okay. Extracting the final two drives (four Thomas Rawls runs for 6 yards and four Toussaint runs for 50), suck out sacks (three for 23), and Michigan's run game did this:

  • 30 carries for 122 yards.

That is a hair over four yards a carry, and suuuuuucks. Even if you add in the garbage time they only get up to 4.7 YPC, which is almost two yards worse than Minnesota's best performance to date in the Big Ten.

Kids, it's sackcloth and ashes time. I had a little fit in the stands when Michigan ran an iso on one of their first couple drives and it went for three yards because it was Rawls running into an unblocked linebacker instead of Toussaint running into an unblocked linebacker and getting two yards. Things got marginally better from there, but only marginally. Michigan's long run other than the Toussaint TD was a Gardner scramble. Their next two were 1) a Gallon end-around that didn't require much blocking, and 2) the Rawls counter pitch that required none. I'm guessing that when I do the UFR the offensive line won't come out much better than they did against Nebraska.

That's mystifying after they did pretty well against a rampant ND defense and throttled a couple bad Big Ten teams. Minnesota and Nebraska aren't much better than Purdue and Illinois on defense. Michigan crushed the latter two, and essentially got crushed by the former two. Denard's absence has a lot to do with that; it's still depressing to think of Michigan's rushing offense as the worst in the Big Ten minus #16.

Hagerup dup. Will Hagerup, please report to the garage for a tuneup: three punts for an average of 29 yards each. Yorp.

Minnesota trip report section. The Gophers' new stadium is nice, as you would expect. Unlike Northwestern—the Big Ten stadium of comparable size I've been to—even the far reaches in the corner are pretty good seats, and the video board is far superior to Michigan's. I looked it up on the wikipedia: their main board is 5184 square feet to M's 3,991 and has a higher resolution. Michigan's down to 14th on their list of biggest screen things; kind of feels like the boards installed just a couple years ago are already dated.

I was on the aisle. I spent most of the game looking around people going up or down, because 1) they serve beer and 2) Minnesota fans in our section made Michigan students look like ruthless drill instructors with their punctuality. I guess it was an 11 AM local start. Even so my strategy as a Minnesota fan would be to show up for the part of the game where you're competitive and exit early if and when that ceases to be true. At least they were nice. I didn't see a single negative interaction between Michigan and Minnesota fans.

The chintz factor was pretty high, largely because the announcer would prompt everyone with "THAT'S ANOTHER GOLDEN GOPHER…" and then a variable number of fans would say "FIRST DOWN." The PA guy's mood shifted wildly with the fortunes of the game, too. By the end of it he was almost surly. The Minnesota marching band is 350 strong and the only thing I remember them playing was the Mortal Kombat theme sometime in the third.

Logistically, the stadium is in a good spot. We tailgated at the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, which was a ten minute bus ride from the stadium on a private university road. That last bit is key: no traffic. After the game I went to a sportsbar to watch an epic Sparty No moment with various folk; another set of companions went right back to the car. The bus line: about ten minutes and then you're out of all traffic.

Oh so Sparty. Oh, Sparty. You sonsabitches. First you have to run out to a two-score lead and then salt the game away before getting their world-class Sparty No(!) moment in on a personal foul on a pick six—one of like six you sonsabitches took after being on your best fairy godmother behavior against Michigan because really you're just misunderstood—and then getting outright screwed in a fashion that I couldn't even enjoy because you needed to win that game.

And then. And then after the game you took a shot at Denard for no damn reason:

"He's faster than Denard, even though he thinks he's faster than (Usain) Bolt," Narduzzi said. "He's flat-out fast. He's a good football player."

And then players hopped on Twitter to claim they had not lost but one game this year:

A60g2IVCAAEC-FZ[1]

The post-MSU-win column truly could not have been anything but what it was. So Sparty.

It took exactly two weeks to go from "where's the threat" to Same Old Spartans. Well, okay. I actually hope you sonsabitches make a bowl game because thanks to the ineligible teams you'll get sucked into a NYD thing against an SEC team and lose by 600.

BONUS BONUS BONUS

Kid's got a future with Vince McMahon if the football thing doesn't work out.

All that said. I'm with MGoGadfly KJ on the validity of that penalty.

The player is trailing the play, looking at what's going on. He's Kenny Bell—he's fast. There is a possibility the play cuts back to where he's relevant, and Adams doesn't hit him in the head, he just shoulders him to the ground. It's not dirty or excessively violent. It's the equivalent of the PF Michigan got last week for hitting Martinez late—overprotective busybody stuff done in the name of PR. Unlike last week, it swung the game.

AND I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO LIKE IT ARRRGH

Fake field goal thing. Minnesota folk were livid at it but after seeing it on replay I think Kill almost got us.

Kill had something up his sleeve and used it, getting his quarterback wide open on the sideline with no one covering him. If he'd run downfield and the guy had thrown downfield, touchdown. Bizarrely, despite setting this up and getting a quick snap in the throw was on the LOS and Michigan could recover because they were not rushing seriously. It didn't seem like it was a screwup by the guy throwing the ball, either: Nelson just sat on the LOS instead of running downfield.

I don't get that bit, but the idea worked. The execution/play design was busted.

Side note: if you're wondering how that happened after the rules were changed such that anyone checking into the game has to do so between the numbers: Nelson was already on the field and just stayed on as the rest of the offense jogged off. I'm not sure why you'd put Nelson out there instead of a receiver in that case, another strange thing about that play.

So… yeah, everything that happened after the snap was weird and bad. The gamble itself I can get behind when your kicker is .500 on the season.

A plea for pass interference sanity. I'll probably expand this into a larger post after the season but Saturday really crystallized how much I hate the pass interference rule as currently implemented. I actually thought this when Michigan got the benefit of it on the long incompletion to Roundtree on which the DB had excellent position and Roundtree kind of flung himself all over the dude's back.

IMO, if the DB is over the top of the WR, he's earned the right to slow down and prevent the guy from getting to the ball. If he's behind him and the ball is crappy and underthrown that is the offense not executing. You should only be able to commit pass interference with your arms or by actually hitting a guy. You have a right to your momentum, and to exist. Grabbing, holding, blowing a guy up before the ball gets there—all of these are legitimate calls. Running over a guy because he suddenly stops because the QB left the ball 10 yards short is not. I'm really tired of plays on which the offense is bailed out when a terribly-thrown ball turns into 15 yards.

Defensive backs are corporeal beings! Let's treat them like that! I'm founding the We're Made Of Matter Too League.

LOLWUT. I'm with Heiko:

Michigan by 13.5 over Northwestern? That's higher than the opening line for Michigan vs. Minnesota.

Home/away yeah but Northwestern is competitive against teams not named Purdue. This does make me feel so much better about that game. PREVIEW PREVIEW: Not picking the spread this time, probably.

Oh, right, defense. The defense held Minnesota to 13 points and under 300 yards—though if pass interference penalties were credited as offensive yards they would have gone over—and other than some Jake Ryan chatter above this 4000-ish word post has nothing to say about it, because that's just what happens. Being seventh in yardage defense just happens. Hail Mattison.

Here

Inside The Boxscore:

It's Michigan versus Minnesota week, at Minnesota, which means one thing. A University of Michigan quarterback is going to have a career day. In 2008, Nick Sheridan was 18 of 30 for 203 yards and a 127.8 QB rating. In 2006, Chad Henne was 17 of 24 for 284 yards, 3 TDs, and a QB rating of 211.5. That may not have been his best performance, but I don't ever remember seeing a QB rating greater than 200. In 2003, John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards and 2 TDs. During my college years, we put up these scoring numbers at Minnesota: 49, 52, 58, and 44 ('89, '91, '93, '96.)

I guess what I'm saying is, we shouldn't have been surprised by what transpired yesterday, but after that first quarter, I'm betting that I'm not the only one that was shocked by the next three quarters. After 9 consecutive TD-less quarters, we scored 5 in the next 3.

Elsewhere

Blog folk. MVictors also made the trip, where he took in the game from the resplendent comfort of the press box. He was also not impressed by Gopher timeliness, and reminded me that I was also astounded by how into the Kiss Cam everyone was.

Sap's Decals:

QUINTON WASHINGTON – To me it seemed like every time a Golden Gopher ball carrier got up from a run up the middle, Big Q was at the bottom of the pile. There may have been some questions about the strength of UM D-Line, but Washington is starting to clog up the middle, making it tough sledding for opponents to run on Michigan this year.

HSR:

I think one of the hardest things college football fans have to reconcile is the ephemeral nature of players.  When you consider depth charts, redshirting, and the like, we may get about three years with them at most, four if we're really lucky.  We get to know them, we come to appreciate them for what they can do, and then, like that, as quickly as they came, they are gone, leaving only memories, and occasionally questions of what might have been.

BWS:

Gardner looked like a Jim Tressel-led Terrelle Pryor: an athletic, tall quarterback being forced to play under center and make plays only when he's asked to while allowing the defense to carry the load. In this game, Gardner was able to do so, but this was against a Minnesota team that allowed 44 points to New Hampshire and 28 to Western Michigan and Purdue. Does Gardner's obvious improvement actually resemble a sustainable winning offense? That's debatable.

Tremendous bullets. Ditto TTB bullets. Maize and Blue Nation bulletsMaize and Go Blue recap. They're SEOing Drew Dileo's name into post URLs at SBN! (Don't bother with the "RESURGENT POWER RUNNING GAME?!?!?" comment if you hit up that article, as they have been taken care of.) Gopher takes from Fringe Bowl Team and Daily Gopher. I agree with TDG on Phillip Nelson—guy was extremely impressive. Holding the Rope column.

There is a flowering of "no QB controversy" posts, BTW: Maize and Go Blue has one, and the MZone leads with:

Repeat After Me: There is NO QB CONTROVERSY

After Devin Gardner's amazing game (minus the 1st quarter), I joked on Twitter that the easiest way to identify a so-called "Walmart Wolverine" on sports talk radio this week will be the guy calling in asking if there's a QB controversy now in A2.

There is not.

Devin was outstanding (minus the 1st quarter).  He was outstanding by any measure, but more so since he hadn't gotten any meaningful game reps at quarter back since... Illinois 2011?  But as soon as he's 100% again, Denard is Michigan's QB this season.  Period.

Also yes so hard

goldy_kill[1]

Paid folk (and the Daily). Come on Baumgardner diviiiiiide and take into account connnnntext before you praise RB production. Numbers from same.  Michigan had its first consecutive 90-yard TD drives ever, which… like… wow.

Helfand:

When Michigan has needed to scramble this year, it has turned to Gardner.

Gardner was never really given a fair shake. He came in as a five-star recruit marooned behind a once-in-a-generation talent. Next year, he’ll have to compete with another hyped recruit, Shane Morris, who better fits Michigan’s pro-style system.

This year, he was asked to move to receiver, though it’s unclear whether he had a choice. The extent of his protest was to say he still considers himself a quarterback.

On Saturday, Michigan thrust him into uncharted territory: a wide receiver given one week to prepare for quarterback. There was little run game to bail him out, and even with Robinson, Michigan hadn’t scored a touchdown in two games. Gardner had taken reps at quarterback in his first two years, but he had to learn new protections and run packages in days.

“I was pretty nervous coming in to know how I would handle that,” Gardner said. “But I feel like I handled it pretty well.”

Meinke:

It looked as though Gardner, a junior who moved to receiver following two seasons as Robinson's backup, was back at home -- and he said that's exactly how he felt.

"I play quarterback," he said, "so I feel good."

Is it possible Gardner is a better quarterback, now that he doesn't play quarterback?

Absolutely.

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

Submitted by Ace on November 5th, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Jeremy Gallon continues to find new ways to confound defenses. First, it was the cloaking device, which made its spectacular debut against Notre Dame last year. Now, he's moved on to rocket shoes:

Dubious legality? Admittedly, yes. Fantastic results? Oh, indeed.

[The rest of the Minnesota game in gifs is after THE JUMP. WARNING: Jake Ryan nightmare fuel ahead.]

Punt-Counterpunt: Minnesota 2012

Punt-Counterpunt: Minnesota 2012

Submitted by Brian on November 3rd, 2012 at 1:15 AM

full costume[1]

adventure gal

Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.

Putting this up now, because I'll forget in the morning.

Ken_thumb7_thumb1PUNT

By Ken “Sky” Walker
11/3/2012

Thus far, Michigan’s 2012 football season has gone just about to form. All the games they won at home against their better opponents last year have turned into road losses this season. And while the losses have all been different in nature - overmatched by Alabama; a giveaway at South Bend and the loss of a key player versus the Cornhuskers – there is one underlying factor that can’t be overlooked. The Wolverines just don’t have enough players of high caliber on offense.

This was an offense that averaged more than 30 points a game in 2012. The loss of any one player, even one as dynamic as Denard Robinson, shouldn’t totally derail your ability to move the ball. Yet without Shoelace, the Michigan offense is a train wreck. Nobody is stepping up. The offensive line can’t block; the running backs don’t run effectively and quarterback play has been spotty. Other than Drew Dileo in the MSU game, when was the last time a Wolverine receiver made a big play that mattered? Bottom line is the Michigan offense can’t score consistently and has a lack of playmakers and depth at every position.

Once again the defense has been very good, keeping Michigan in games were the offense has stumbled. The loss of a starting cornerback in the first game has not proven fatal, mainly due the efforts of the guys up front. Going into this season, I think most people felt Michigan’s defensive line play would be a concern. In fact, the defensive line play has improved during the course of the season. Obviously, Coach Mattison’s ability to get his players to perform at a high level shouldn’t ever be underestimated.

What does this mean for the game versus Minnesota? It more than likely it won’t make much difference. While the Gophers have a record identical to the Wolverines, their competition has not been nearly as tough. They do have an up and coming quarterback and a good record at home. These are the best things they have going for them. The defense has been porous – the Michigan hockey crowd chant of “Sieve! Sieve! Sieve!” would be an accurate description of their play.

The Michigan defense should be able to put enough pressure on the Gopher’s young QB and stifle their offensive. If Denard plays with any effectiveness, this should be relatively easy pickings. But Michigan fans shouldn’t be blind to the fact that the Wolverines are a flawed and fragile team. It’s just a pinched nerve away from total disaster.

Michigan 30 - Minnesota 20

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COUNTERPUNT

By Nick RoUMel
11/3/12

Since we are deep within election season, I’m going to take a break this week, and turn my column over to the people who write the ads for those statewide ballot proposals. These folks will tell us the truth, just like they do on TV. Word up:

Proposal 1 – If Michigan doesn’t win this week, Governor Snyder will appoint an emergency manager to run the team. This person will be empowered to fire coaches, change the starting lineup, juggle the offensive and defensive formations, and make the players wear butt-ugly uniforms that look like a combination between a bumblebee and a prison inmate. But it’s not all bad. If things turn around, the emergency manager might allow us to bring water bottles into the stadium.

Proposal 2 – This proposal will allow the players to bargain collectively and form unions. Players will be grouped into classifications such as “offensive tackle” and “assistant clipboard carrier.” Playing time will be determined by seniority. Accordingly, the quarterback this week will be Andy Mignery.

Proposal 3 – Requires Al Borges to call at least 25% of his plays using alternative energy sources, such as the backup tight end, or a single wing formation. This will reduce our dependence on depletable energy sources such as Denard Robinson.

Proposal 4 – Provides for background checks for players. Reportedly will eliminate the Michigan State football program.

Proposal 5 – Would amend Michigan’s playbook to require a 2/3 majority vote of fans in attendance before running two consecutive off-tackle plays.

Proposal 6 – Lets the people decide – not politicians – whether the Stadium Bridge will ever be finished.

But what about this week’s game – who’s going to win?

Demand a recount, folks, it’s going to be an upset:

MINNESOTA 20, MICHIGAN 16

Unverified Voracity Quicklike

Unverified Voracity Quicklike

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I've got to get on a plane shortly so shortly the links will go.

OOP.

Brief thoughts on the first exhibition:

  • Albrecht is an extremely wise pickup; if he can hit threes and break the press and get M's offense in motion he'll be at least a solid backup for four years. Michigan needed some stability at that PG spot and he looks like he'll provide it.
  • Stauskas is going to be a lights out three point shooter and he has enough other game to contribute to the rest of the offense; D needs work.
  • McGary's FTs will probably be fine, his stroke looks good. Hopefully that leg injury clears up and he gets that extra 10% athleticism that made him a huge prospect after his AAU season.
  • GRIII is Branden Dawson-ish with more shooting and less rebounding but probably not much less rebounding.
  • Hardaway played a much more complete game than we're used to seeing. Thumbs up.

Predictorama.

  • Know Your Foe from the MZone says "must resist making little Brown Jugs" joke at picture of hot woman in brown bikini, predicts 28-10.
  • Who Are You And Why Do We Care exists, predicts on non-football factors, does so 38-13.
  • Maize and Go Blue goes with 37-10.
  • Maize and Blue Nation says 27-2, which I should have thought of.
  • The Daily Gopher can't even find a jug picture where it's being held by a Minnesota player—RVB is the man—and goes with 31-13.
  • I'm In Love With A Fringe Bowl Team has a mathematical model that says 33-23 and a non-gambler guy who picks Michigan to cover: "I would have loved to start this post recalling the last time the Gophers beat Michigan in Minnesota, but I don't remember it at all. This is mostly because it was five years before my birth."

Kovacs is a truthful dude. Post-Nebraska:

"A lot of it is the games we played," Kovacs said. "Air Force didn't necessarily throw the ball on us a lot, and Alabama didn't have to.

"There's some open receivers last game that (quarterback Taylor) Martinez didn't see. There were a couple blitzes we ran, and we had a guy running down the middle of the field wide open. Can't let that happen. We've been fortunate they haven't hit 'em yet."

So that means the secondary is playing at a high level, but maybe not its highest level?

"I don't know," Kovacs said. "I think we're playing all right. I think last game we didn't play well enough at all, specifically the defensive backs."

"I really don't groom that much," Gibbons said, smiling.

Now he's going to bleed on you, Baumgardner. Or more likely whoever wrote this headline:

Michigan's Nik Stauskas and Matt Vogrich could finally give John Beilein a consistent deep threat in Ann Arbor

Zack Novak shot 41% from three last year, and whenever he gets back from wrecking Belgium he's going to be ANGAR. Elsewhere, Spike Albrecht is called "mini Steve Nash," which is definitely not getting ahead of ourselves and headline guy is definitely going to put a "got" in between the first two words of this one after a loss at some point this year:

Youth served: Michigan's talented freshmen five show ability, poise in college debut

Falk on Jug. Not like that.

Whatever that might mean.

Seriously, they can do this? Whenver M plays at Northern I think the exact same thing Yost Built does:

Unlike SOME SCHOOLS THAT I KNOW OF, Northern offers streaming video of their games for $7. You can also buy a season pass for $75, and if you're reading this blog, don't have season tickets, and claim that you wouldn't fork out that much for a Michigan version of the same thing, I will call you a damn liar. It's 2012 and this is Michigan fergodsakes. We shouldn't have less access to video of games than Northern Michigan fans. Just saying.

I've watched three or four games at NMU the past few years, and M hockey fans outside of the local area can't get one.

Meanwhile, MHN highlights the scheduling thing we'll hear all season:

LAST TRIP TO MARQUETTE?
The Mining Journal’s Matt Wellens talked to NMU coach Walt Kyle about scheduling the Wolverines in the future.  Kyle is open to the idea, however it must be on “fair terms.”  By that he means a basic home-and-home series where the Wolverines would travel to NMU one year and NMU would return the favor the next year.  He is not open to two-for-ones and payout deals.

Honestly, good for NMU.

Etc.: Stuffing the Passer. Michigan expects lack of goalie ejections at Northern Michigan. Yost Built previews NMU. NCAA dooms Midwest regional to 20 people in stands for 13th year of 14 by giving it to Cincinnati, which has one program (Miami) within a four hour drive. Leitch should totally ditch the Knicks. Catching up with Hunwick.

Preview: Minnesota 2012

Preview: Minnesota 2012

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Previously here: Ace FFFF!

image_thumb[1]Essentials

WHAT Michigan vs Minnesota
WHERE Gopher Stadium
Minneapolis, MN
WHEN 12:00 PM Eastern
November 3rd, 2012
THE LINE Michigan –11.5
TELEVISION BTN
WEATHER partly cloudy, dry, around 40

in the community
in the community
in the community
in the community

Run Offense vs Minnesota

hageman-cuse[1]

ra'shede hageman is the best defensive lineman in the history of the big ten, it's just the guys around him who are completely terrible at all things

After years in which it seemed any offense helmed by Denard Robinson would be pretty all right in this category, Michigan is suddenly thrown into a state of higgledy-piggledy by Denard's elbow injury and mass confusion on the part of any Michigan player tasked with obstructing the progress of an opponent. Will Denard be healthy? Was there a mass hallucination induced by helium poisoning last week? If Denard's not healthy will Michigan just say "screw it" and roll with Devin Gardner?

I know the answers to all these questions with unerring certainty but refuse to tell you. You should have been nicer to cats as a child.

The good news is that Minnesota's defense remains as porous as it has invariably been since Glen Mason got the boot for not making the Gophers respectable enough. Behold their Big Ten schedule:

Opponent Att Yds TD YPC
Iowa 24 185 2 7.7
Northwestern 33 210 3 6.4
Wisconsin 52 357 5 6.9
Purdue 31 201 0 6.5

Nebraska at least had some blips of competence in there. Minnesota has none whatsoever, except I guess very dead walrus that is Purdue football at the moment probably racked up a lot of those yards after they'd fallen behind 44-7. Even so, in four tries against Big Ten competition they haven't even come close to getting their opponents under six yards a carry. If Michigan can't run the ball on these guys, Denard or no, it's sackcloth and ashes time.

We may see a revival of the old-timey plain old zone read in this game. The inverted veer is a great play that tends to give the QB the ball. The old-time zone read is at this point a well-defended play that tends to give the RB the ball. Michigan's desires are clear .

The nice thing about the zone read with Denard is that even if you're not running the guy you're still using him since the defense has to account for him. A low chance of a Denard keep is still something you have to respect. Unfortunately, Michigan hasn't been running the true zone read in a long time. For whatever reason they prefer to block the backside end and then do something else with the threat of the QB running—often nothing.

In this game, helping the run offense along with the threat of Denard on the outside is a good idea, and if they cheat then you can use one of your roll-the-dice Denard carries on the guy in a lot of space. Most of these don't even have to be reads. Just run the ball, but use Denard's legs to block someone. It's more reliable than asking your OL to, amirite?

Key Matchup: Michigan blockers attempting to block the correct people versus Minnesota defenders managing to stay between the white lines most of the time. I'm betting on the former.

[Hit THE JUMP for freshman, come out to play]