A half-empty student section, a press box full of beat writers already finishing their game columns, a field littered with walk-ons and freshmen; with eight minutes remaining in the final stanza, Michigan Stadium exhibited all the telltale signs of a blowout. A one-yard touchdown run by Justice Hayes had just given the Wolverines a 63-13 lead, one that stood as the final margin.
After the last two weeks, this was a welcome sight indeed.
Denard Robinson overcame an ugly pick-six to complete 16-of-24 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground to lead the way offensively. Robinson spread the ball around to nine different receivers, led by Drew Dileo's 91 yards on three receptions. The stars from last week, Devins Funchess and Gardner, each recorded a touchdown reception—Gardner's on a stellar effort to tightrope the sideline and dive for the pylon—and the enigmatic Roy Roundtree found paydirt for the first time this season.
It was a rebound performance for Fitzgerald Toussaint, as well, as he gained 85 yards on 15 carries, showing off the agility in tight quarters that made him so effective last season; after finding little room to operate against Air Force, Toussaint reached the edge on his 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter with help from an A.J. Williams block. Vincent Smith added a pair of touchdowns from inside the ten, Thomas Rawls doled out more punishment than he took, Justice Hayes recorded his first career score, and Dennis Norfleet made his offensive debut with a 15-yard jet sweep that surely made Brian one very happy blogger.
Michigan fans were even treated to a Fat Guy Touchdown, courtesy of a Taylor Lewan recovery after Denard fumbled into the end zone. Lewan, for his part, appeared more concerned about his quarterback's error than excited for his own fortune, sheepishly pointing his palms towards the sky when the officials belatedly signaled touchdown.
The defense limited UMass to 259 yards of total offense, though there was still reason for concern. The Minutemen doubled their offensive scoring output from their first two games—six points—and strung together three first downs in a drive for the first time this year. This should not cause PANIC, of course—six points, fergodsakes—but there are still issues to be resolved, especially on the interior of the D-line.
UMass got paid. Michigan got a chance to breathe easy and give their backups plenty of run. Now the team can look ahead to Saturday night's matchup with Notre Dame; for today, they can feel content about handling business as expected. With the baby seal emphatically clubbed, it's time to move on to the real season, not unscathed but with the ultimate goal—a Big Ten championship—still within reach.
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.
By Ken “Sky” Walker 9/15/12
In the past year, you’ve gotten a lot of ink for your commitment to have Michigan play the most entertaining schedule they possibly can. And while this season’s schedule has plenty of marquee games, you’ve failed to address the worst inequity facing season ticker holders. This is the dreaded ‘every other year is great’ syndrome. This is something that has to be addressed.
I’m not the first, nor the last, person to point out this feast or famine pattern in the schedule. Last year was fat city; great excitement, record crowds. The Irish, Huskers and Buckeyes; all were gracing the Big House. This year, all we’ve got is Sparty. Now I’m not pooh-poohing the MSU game. It’s arguably one of the biggest games in recent program history – the Wolverines need a win badly. But one big game does not make a season.
If you doubt the lack of interest in this year’s home schedule, look no further than my column-mate, Counterpunt. Counterpunt has yet to attend a home game—and won't be in the stands today. The runt was all fired up to make a last minute, 1200 mile road trip to Dallas. But negotiating the 2.3 miles from his abode to Michigan Stadium has thus far, proven to be an insurmountable task. And what is it that’s kept my esteemed colleague away? Why it’s soccer! Counterpunt would rather attend a tweenies’ girls’ soccer game than make an appearance at Stadium & Main. Who knew? (I guess he’s technically coaching, but that’s a matter of opinion.)
While this might make Counterpunt a candidate for dad of the year, it’s also somewhat of a commentary on the unattractiveness of what’s being presented. Would it be too big of a sacrifice to offer to play two away games in one of these series, just to even out the schedule? Especially, if giving up home games to accommodate “spread the brand” appearances, is going to be the name of the game in the future.
I’ll admit today’s game will be great for those who like blowouts. Frankly, UMass probably isn’t good enough to be in the MAC at this point. I think the only way Michigan doesn’t score half a hundred, is if Coach Hoke starts substituting early and often. Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to enjoy my doublewide, cushioned seat. It’s costing me enough. Go Blue!
Michigan 54 UMass 10
By Nick RouMel 9/15/12
Nearly two years ago today, after starting the season 2-0 including a stirring win at Notre Dame, Michigan played the tiny, insignificant University of Massachusetts “Minute Men” in the Big House. They barely escaped with a 42-37 win, unable to stop UMass, which gained 439 yards and scored 20 points in the 4th quarter.
I fear a similar result today. And yes, I understand UMass is now 0-2, and that Brian calls them the football equivalent of a baby seal. As if we Wolverines are anything so fearsome, padding across the ice floe with our Nerf club in hand, causing said baby seal only mild curiosity.
Which is why, Punt, instead of sitting with you on your cushy, hemorrhoid-resistant stadium cushion, I am choosing to coach my 11th grade girls’ travel soccer team, the MPSA Crush “Fighting Pumas,” in a tournament in Linden, Michigan. (And these 16 year old young women, who for the most part have drivers’ licenses, would take mighty offense at you calling them “tweenies,” if they cared even one whit about the opinions of the self-described “geezer” Punt.)
(Remember last week, when Punt got all excited when a young woman at work admired his maize and blue bulletin board push pins? Punt is much like the old dog on the front porch, who watches the squirrels cavort not twenty feet from his nose, but too tired to actually do anything about it.)
Except to navigate those 2.3 miles to the Big House, and fancy himself active and energetic, wearing his maize and blue checkered “Sans-A-Belt” pants, sitting on his soft cushion, and lifting his bottom six inches when the “wave” comes his way. Punt is as responsive as the Michigan linebackers, when a couple of Minute Men come lumbering their way, turning their heads in apparent surprise, followed several seconds later by the realization that they must give chase.
You, Punt. Go watch those Wolverines, as they barely escape the inexplicably motivated baby seals. In turn, I will pace the sideline of the soccer pitch, cheering on my Pumas, immune from the criticism of blogs, sportswriters, and snarky pseudo-journalists such as myself.
Hmm, maybe I’m actually the one looking for the soft, cushy Saturday, hiding in Linden from our lumbering linebackers, who will get the job done in the end, when they have to.
Per MassLive's report, Massachusetts got $390,000 to come to Ann Arbor two seasons ago. …
According to MassLive, Michigan is getting somewhat of a deal this season with regard to UMass' guaranteed money price tag -- as the school will receive roughly $800,000 to play the likes of Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Penn State in the future before grabbing a whopping $1.25 million to play Florida in 2016.
That's inflation far outpacing ticket prices. Since the TV money is essentially negligible—split with the conference—that's a motivator to play real teams to keep fan interest up. That increase is probably how the Oregon State and Colorado games got done. Those will cost more—CU got two million for a one-off with OSU—but not enough to offset the actual opponents bump they bring. Yeah, even Colorado. Death to Hail Marys.
Never forget (not that Never Forget.) Or that other one. This one:
In their first two games, the Minutemen have given up 147 yards on 43 carries to UConn (which subsequently went out and put up 35 yards on NC State) and 331 yards on 53 carries to Indiana (which needs no additional wow experience appended). They are really not good at containing rushing defenses. Indiana State gave up just over half as many yards as UMass did to Indiana.
If this is not a full-on baby seal massacre, I am disappoint, Michigan rush offense. Air Force wasn't good, but UMass seems a large step down from the organized and veteran Falcons. Denard should break one or two long ones, Toussaint will crack 100 yards at a healthy YPC rate, and we'll get our first distorted looks at what Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet look like taking handoffs.
Key Matchup: Michigan cleat traction versus the thick layer of slippery gore laid down by the third quarter. Watch out, Dennis Norfleet! That's probably a broken bone you're cutting on!
[Hit THE JUMP for barely concealed contempt for the opponent.]
Frank Clark's recent hearing has no impact on his status.
Sounds like Courtney Avery will be 100% for Saturday.
Blake Countess's surgery has not been schedule yet.
Richard Ash is out this week with a boo boo, but will return next week hopefully.
Brennen Beyer is also out this week.
Barring further injury, no additional freshmen are likely to play.
“It’s an important week for us as a football team as far as how we come out to practice, the improvement we need to make in all areas. We had a good intense practice yesterday. I thought we came out with the right attitude and we have to follow that up again today, obviously. Frank Clark’s situation hasn’t changed. Won’t change. The judicial system obviously, he’s paying for that, and he’s paid a very heavy price with us. He’s a teammate, and he made some bad decisions -- a bad decision that is not what we want. But he is a teammate, and he’s part of our family. So.”
Frank Clark derpy derpy derp.
“I just made a statement on it.”
How have you seen Elliott Mealer settle into his position at center?
“You know, I think Elliott is really settled in, and I think he has a presence about him in there at center. I think the one thing he wants to do a little better job with is maybe some pad level at times and keep finishing on blocks, but I think he’s really been consistent when you look at what we ask that position to do.”
If you had to challenge him on the beard, could you do that?
No status change with Beyer. Knee injury. Will be out for a week.
Courtney Avery missed some plays late in the game due to a back problem.
Richard Ash has a boo boo.
“It’s good to win a football game, obviously. That’s why you go out there and compete. I think when you evaluate and you see where we’re at, we’ve got to improve if we’re going to win the Big Ten Championship. We’ve got to improve at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. You’ve heard before, and that message won’t change. I think we went out with a mission offensively to get Denard very involved running the football. I thought he did a nice job of that. I think we did a nice job in the throwing game. The interception, I think Vince was fighting the umpire a little bit, but also it’s just one of those things that we have to execute that, but from that standpoint defensively, we played 98 plays. Way too much, we have to get off the field obviously, but at the same time those guys hung in there, and they hung in there when they had to at the end of the football game and made some plays. So that part of it is a very positive part of it. I think we adjusted to some things to some things they were doing, which helped in the second half. So all in all was it where we want to be? No. But at the same time, it was a good win to get.”
14 - I’m totally over it!, 41 - Haha over *twitch* what?
I do not remember this happening.
The road ahead:
Air Force (1-0)
Michael Ciaglo, Colarado Springs Gazette
Last game: Idaho State 21, Air Force 49 (W)
Recap: Let’s be honest: I didn’t watch this game. Nobody did. Not even Ace. Poor guy, though. Had to go down to Dallas and sit through the worst three hours of Michigan football since the Gator Bowl, and then had to break down film from a Notre Dame game. You know, my heart really goes out to him. He has a Facebook page. 1,000 likes and I’ll donate him half of my liver; 10,000 and I’ll throw in a kidney, too.
So word on the street is that Air Force bulldozed Idaho State for half a kilometer on the ground. This is completely unsurprising. Triple option teams are designed to put up 300 yards rushing on opponents like Alabama despite having far less talent in the traditional sense. 49-21 is therefore what happens when such a team plays someone that has even less talent than they do -- Idaho State is FCS.
News item: Air Force’s center Michael Husar, Jr. (Dad was a tackle for Michigan from ‘85-‘88) went down with an ACL/MCL tear. He was reputedly their best lineman, so look for their offense to be somewhat less impressive against Michigan. Get well soon, Michael.
This team is as frightening as: A fleet of MiG-15’s; Michigan is a squadron of B-52’s. Michigan will be fine as long as they get to their base before the other guys ever get off the ground. I realize that sounds a little strange, and I’m trying really hard not to say “bomb,” but the analogy works because the MiGs are smaller and have less firepower than the B-52’s, and during the Korean War … you know what screw it. Go read a book. Maybe you’ll learn something. Fear level = 3.
Michigan should worry about: Defense vs. triple option stuff. Close your eyes, cross your arms, and yell “LALALALALALA” if Kenny Demens never takes a step toward the line of scrimmage and as a result gets plowed by their backup center every other play.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: All their linemen are undersized because they’re the Air Force and the Air Force doesn’t make cockpits for fatties.
When they play Michigan: I will be sober. I promise.
also via Mike Rothstein. For whatever reason, pictures of football coaches eating == MONEY
Those dudes look like they know what they're doing in re: making ribs. That's from the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp, which Ace attended and will have a report on later. One of the main themes of the day was "I can't believe this is legal":
Because the Sound Mind, Sound Body event is a charitable camp, college coaches are able to attend and provide instruction to the campers -- something that's outlawed at most public camps throughout the country.
As a result, Borges spent most the of the day giving pointers to Shane Morris. If that's legal, expect one of two things to happen: it's quickly outlawed or similar camps multiply like weeds.
Meanwhile, this seems cute given Michigan's lockdown on state of Michigan prospects whose fathers didn't play at State:
Michigan, especially under Hoke, has developed a reputation of having recruiting success in Ohio over the years. Now, Meyer says, it’s his aim to return the favor.
“I know this area real well," said Meyer, who once coached at nearby Bowling Green State University. "As for Ohio State ... we have some very good players from this area.
“If we have not, we will."
Not ribs. Via Blake Countess, poor Pee Wee and his grim salad of raw-looking broccoli and stuff:
It will all be worth it when you're ragdolling Alabama OL in fall. (Please.)
KYLE MEINKE IS GRIM. The AnnArbor.com reporter got screencapped by the youtubes looking like he's about to heroically tackle a terrorist or Mark Dantonio:
Also that's four minutes of Hoke talking to the media from Maize and Blue News. MGoVideo provides the entirety of Hoke's speech to the assembled campers:
If you don't want to watch the whole thing, the News and AnnArbor.com transcribed some highlights.
Cue the crack Free Press investigatory teams. Michigan has again claimed that unspecified academic performance is good and stuff:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the Wolverines registered the best "academic performance" in their history under first-year coach Brady Hoke last year. He didn't cite specific numbers.
The last time this happened the Free Press hammered at Michigan with FOIA requests until they scuttled the claim. Here's guessing that doesn't happen this time around.
UMass reinforced. You probably already know that Mike Cox transferred home to UMass for his final year. They've also added former touted ND recruits Deion Walker and Hafis Williams, a wideout and a DT. They still shouldn't be a problem now that Michigan has one of those defensive coordinator things.
Longsnapper rabble rabble 'Bama what? If you're still slightly peeved that Michigan expended a precious scholarship slot on a longsnapper this might make you feel better:
According to BamaOnline, Saban did something at last week's special teams camp in Tuscaloosa that he's never done in his 17-year career -- offered a scholarship to a long snapper.
Bakersfield, California prospect Cole Mazza is rated by 247Sports as the nation's top long snapper in the Class of 2013. …
"I snapped really good during the camp and Coach Saban told me in his office that they were going to offer a long snapper within the next two days after a staff meeting," Mazza told BamaOnline. "The next day I called him and he told me he was going to offer me."
I'm confused about how these guys are suddenly valuable enough to warrant scholarship slots, but apparently they are.
Cram the data into your meme. The data doesn't fit? Yes it does.
NFL draft stuff. Michigan recruits feature in the United States Of Hockey's American top ten. Defenseman Jacob Trouba:
Michigan-commit Jacob Trouba is a bruising defenseman who showed what he can do with his big frame at the National Team Development Program. He also proved he can play above his head by his performance at the World Junior Championship. Some are considered Trouba relies on his physicality too much and that there might not be much offensive upside. However, for a physical defenseman, Trouba can skate well and has good agility. His hockey sense has vastly improved, even though he’s still prone to the bad decision now and again.
Sounds more like a Komisarek type than another Merrill-style puck mover.
Forward Boo Nieves:
…a 13-game stint in the USHL confirmed some of the concerns that Nieves struggles with the physical aspects of the game. The thing is, he has some filthy puck skills and a really nice 6-2, 185 frame. Nieves could have calmed concerns in a long USHL playoff run, but he had to return to Kent to finish his schooling so he could get into Michigan for next year. Still, those puck skills allude to some nice potential, but he’s still a likely mid- to late-second round choice.
Michigan's going to need scoring punch from him right away; hopefully he can deliver despite his issues in a short USHL stint.
In other hockey recruiting news, Michigan picked up a 2014 commit from Dexter Dancs, a BCHL kid from the same team that provided Michigan with Brendan Morrison, amongst others. Michigan used to make a habit of grabbing high-scoring forwards out of that league but hasn't taken a BCHL player in a while. College Hockey Prospective got a quote out of his coach that provides some insight into what kind of player Michigan's getting:
“Dexter Dancs is a big, young, raw power forward with an excellent skating stride and an equally as good set of hands and shot,” said Hengen. “Dexter will as easily take the puck hard to the net, set up a play or drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate. Dexter will be another one of many Michigan Wolverines that they will develop to have a chance of playing pro hockey.”
Don't get too excited if Dancs puts up video game numbers next fall, as the BCHL is a notoriously high-scoring league.
Irish secondaries are thin. After recruiting defections and plenty of graduation, Notre Dame's secondary is a major concern this fall. It's one that just got more concern-y after Austin Collinsworth's availability next fall has resolved itself:
Notre Dame junior safety Austin Collinsworth has undergone shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a significant portion of -- if not the entire -- 2012 football season, ND director of football sports information Brian Hardin confirmed Wednesday.
Collinsworth suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during ND’s wrap-up to spring practice, the Blue-Gold Game, on April 21. When the condition didn’t improve with rest, surgery was scheduled. Recovery time is projected to be four to six months.
Collinsworth was probably going to be the nickelback, possibly the starter if Jamoris Slaughter was forced to move to corner.