This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis Comment Count

Seth November 12th, 2014 at 12:05 PM

A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridikuhlis.

Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this week's podcast in which we each listed our top five most ridiculous games of the Hoke era. Not only were our bottom three picks entirely different, but between Twitter and the comments at least a dozen games that didn't make the cut were suggested as meriting inclusion, and... it was really hard to argue with a lot of them.

So let's try this again. List and explain your top five, perhaps mention a few dishonorable mentions, and feel free to explain your methodology—I'm intentionally leaving "ridiculous" open to interpretation.


BiSB: I just drew up a quick list of candidates. There are 16 games on that list. I HATE ALL THE THINGS.


Ace: Now remember that the very first game Hoke coached featured two Brandon Herron touchdowns and was called due to a biblical storm before the third quarter ended...

Even the wins, man. Even the wins.


[After the jump: we discuss 60% of the games under Hoke]


Dear Diary for Better or Worse

Dear Diary for Better or Worse Comment Count

Seth December 6th, 2013 at 11:07 AM

One Play. I got really into this piece by Brhino where he went over Michigan football seasons going back to the "Year of Infinite Pain" (i.e. 2005) to point out games where one play may have meant the difference. Interesting way to reassess how we view the seasons. For example this year's team was a couple things going right away from 11-1 and a BCS bid (MSU would have still have won the Bo Division, with BCS eligibility riding on that), and a couple of things going wrong away from 4-8. I chart:


Bicking makes it cligger.

Quibble: I may be stretching "one play" too far, but Football Armageddon had that late hit out of bounds by Crable on 3rd and 15. OSU scored on that drive to go up 10. Who knows if Michigan can drive the ball the same as they did on the next possession. NFL win probability calculator says OSU was 79% to win if Crable doesn't make that hit, and 91% after the call. Fan brain says Michigan would have drove for the victory, beaten essentially the same Florida team they played the following year, and cured cancer.

Trend Lines. If you're into seeing how the rest of the Big Ten progressed on offense as this season did, dnak followed up last week's Michigan chart with some for the rest of the field. MSU is a young offense slowly growing up, Michigan's is one coached by insane people.


Hypothesis: UConn was just a bad game and the coaches over-responded to it, putting themselves behind the 8-ball the rest of the season. I submit as a different model Penn State, which had more than a few personnel shortages but big talent in places and stuck with their scheme all year, seeing noticeable progression but no spikes until the last game.

Goals! The Corsi Charts have been shelved for the moment so MGoBlueline can do those goal analysis things I like much better anyway:


Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…

The OSU weekend's tallies at the link.

Charity. Tomorrow is Adopt-a-Shelter and both sites still could use some volunteers. K.o.k.Law had a tailgate at the house next door to MGoPatio, the cause being to fix up the house of an 11-year-old with a terrible illness.

Weeklies. Turnover Analysis talked about the Countess interception, which had a negative result of half a point. I still would have taken it; I think Furman stood there amazed for a second while OSU's receivers recovered, and if he hadn't he was in the exact right spot to make a key block. Turnover margin has been steadily climbing to the good since UConn, though the offense going into a shell to make that happen might have negated the good that's done. Inside the Box Score. Best and Worst talks about Ben Gedeon. LSA's usual stuff.

Etc. All-B1G team. Wallpaper with hoops schedule.

[Jump to learn an important lesson about swearing.]


Unverified Voracity Isn't Trying To Use Big Words

Unverified Voracity Isn't Trying To Use Big Words Comment Count

Brian December 4th, 2013 at 1:04 PM


Duke: creating future generations of people who will crush the economy for their personal benefit

WELP. Ace will have a fuller postmortem shortly, but the short version of what happened at Duke: Michigan spent the first half playing offense like the football team not against ND or OSU and dug themselves a hole they could not extract themselves from.

Very frustrating that Duke can extend their defense so aggressively and not give up backdoor cuts, of which I don't think Michigan had a single one all night. I don't get it. A few bullets:

  • GRIII is the same guy and has to be seeing his NBA draft stock crumble as teams get a longer look at him and see someone who can stand in the corner and make threes at an acceptable rate and throw down some dunks but do little else, especially as an NBA three.
  • LeVert was pretty much the only guy willing to and capable of driving at a set Duke defense to generate shot opportunities.
  • Michigan's defense was actually all right, but flattered by a poor shooting night for Duke in the first half. Duke didn't put Michigan in too many situations where they switched, which previously led to a lot of confusion and things like LeVert trying to cover a power forward. This happened maybe once or twice.
  • Everyone in the Duke student section looks like the villain from a 1980s teen comedy.
  • Sports! Hate you, sports.

Yeah, pretty much. Ross Fulton breaks down what happened in the OSU game on both sides of the ball, noting that OSU often didn't align well and seemed unprepared for some things that Michigan had shown plenty of:

Like Iowa this year or Cal two years ago, Michigan was able to get easy yards by aligning their blocking strength to the boundary and running to the edge. By aligning to the defensive front to the field and failing to adjust, the Buckeyes are outflanked before the snap. For instance, Michigan picked up easy yards by putting their tight end and wing to the boundary and running touch passes to Jeremy Gallon.


In fact, Michigan went so far as to put their tackle to the boundary to run speed option and the Buckeyes still did not adjust. Michigan has previously shown this look (with limited success) this season, but the Buckeyes did not seem to expect it.

I don't know if that's good news or bad news. OSU's defense doesn't seem particularly well-organized (compare throwback/tunnel screens in this game to Michigan's attempt against MSU), which is a good thing in one game per year as long as OSU doesn't make changes. But some of their success being the stuff they'd already put on film that OSU was inexplicably unprepared for is less good than Michigan having a bunch of wizbang.

The proper way to have a vote of confidence. There is exactly one correct way to tell the universe that your embattled head coach isn't going anywhere. It is three sentences of boilerplate in which you strongly endorse the man in charge and say nothing else, because saying anything else is not useful.

For example: "Coach Hoke will be at the University of Michigan next year and for several years after. While this season has been a trying one, Michigan barely had a non-freshman interior offensive lineman on the roster and has to-date retained 51 of 52 recruits in Hoke's first two full classes, providing needed stability after years of turmoil on and off the field. He is the man for the job."

This is short, and crucially does not


Many don't remember that Alabama finished fourth in its division during Nick Saban's fourth year with the Crimson Tide. At present, Alabama seems to be doing pretty well!!

Nick Saban won a national title in his third year.



I imagine the editorial meeting about this spent 15 minutes talking about whether "pretty well" needed two or three exclamation points, with the third getting axed because This Is Michigan and three exclamation points is just not done for anything other than the many and varied accomplishments of the University of Michigan.


Stanford had 4-8, 5-7 and 8-5 records under Jim Harbaugh before reaching its current string of consecutive BCS appearances





The senior class was recruited by Coach Carr and had some terrific talent that had simply been underperforming.

Football is simple, says the BTN commercial.


Seriously, seniors recruited by Lloyd Carr had about 20% to do with that Sugar Bowl season, because his last class was horrendous.


Anyone making efforts to stir up a coaching controversy at Michigan is ill-informed and is likely promoting a personal agenda that is not in the best interest of Michigan Football.

They will be taken to our new Go Blue Gulag in the upper peninsula.


The transformation and improvement of our defense under the leadership of coach Greg Mattison has been outstanding.

This was taken as a sure sign Borges was getting axed when there has been very little indication that would happen from inside the program. This was not mentioned in the editorial meeting because of the exclamation point discussion.

But, hey, why say what you have to say in 100 words when you can take a thousand?

I HAVE JUST THE SOLUTION. From the NYT's repulsive tongue-bath of Jim Delany:

After the Southeastern Conference expanded to include the University of Missouri and after the Atlantic Coast Conference added the University of Notre Dame (the school’s football program remained independent) and the University of Pittsburgh — both schools within the Big Ten’s geographic footprint — Mr. Delany concluded that the Big Ten was in danger of ceding strategic ground. “We felt threatened,” he said.

The solution was clear.

Mr. Delany countered with the invitations to Rutgers, then of the Big East, and Maryland of the A.C.C.


wait youre just going to not do anything

UT San Antonio is out there man

make a move


Speaking of Rutgers…

So much for that theory. I'd ventured that Rutgers might actually become a good program in the Big Ten since New Jersey puts out quite a bit of talent and they would be able to flag down a lot more of it now that they were in a power conference. That prediction was looking pretty good as Rutgers locked down an array of quality local recruits en route to what looked like the best Big Ten recruiting class of the year, non-M-OSU division.

That's now in shambles as Rutgers deals with yet another coach-abuse fallout scandal. Recruits are decommiting in droves after this, which happened a week or two ago:

The incident -- which Jevon Tyree said occurred in April with the Rice fallout still fresh -- happened in front of approximately 10 teammates and a tutor, Jevon Tyree said, and it led to the 19-year-old's escalating ostracization, eventually driving him to quit.

Clarice Tyree called it "an outright bullying episode," and Mark Tyree said the behavior soon "transferred to the other coaches." Jevon Tyree, a redshirt freshman on scholarship, said that after the frightening incident, his standing on the team plummeted, along with practice repetitions and any shot at playing time. He said there were team meetings from which he was excluded.

Four of Rutgers's top recruits have decommited in the aftermath of this going public, including MI QB Tyler Wiegers.

Rutgers is just months removed from firing their basketball coach for flinging basketballs at players' heads and hired an athletic director who had been a coach so hated that most of her last team banded together to release a statement about what a horrible person she was. And no one got the football coaches together and said "hey, let's maybe not call people bitches two inches from their faces." The athletic director in the aftermath:

Look: I don’t know if Hermann is lying. I only know that her response, when I asked her on Saturday morning if she had indeed talked to Mark Tyree, was less than convincing.

This was the answer: “Yeah. Somebody – if it’s not him, who calls me and informs me of it? Otherwise I wouldn’t know about it. So I’m not trying to call – I’m not trying to use big words like the words he’s using, but I’m informed by him, to my knowledge. If it’s not him, who’s calling me?”

People in charge of things are just in charge of them, possibly for no reason. In Rutgers's case, definitely for no reason.

Hockey commits. Michigan picked up a couple of future hockey players over the last few days. Cooper Marody is a '96 forward who is probably a 2015 recruit in his first USHL season; he's got 5-11-16 in 23 games and is second in the USHL for his age cohort in that department. SBN College Hockey notes he's a "blazingly fast skater" at six-foot-even. And I think this commitment is going to stick, you guys.

The other guy is a (probably) 2016 defenseman out of Salisbury Prep named Griffin Luce. Originally from Ontario and on pace to be a first round OHL draft pick, Luce has an interesting back story:

-- Griffin Luce, the son of Florida Panthers (NHL) director of scouting Scott Luce, has decided on Salisbury. The St. Thomas, Ontario native, a top ‘98 defenseman who could be selected in the 1st round of the OHL draft next year, played for the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs this past season. Will be joined at Salisbury by his brother, Harrison Luce, who will be a PG.

The elder Luce played at Colgate, and they obviously know all about Griffin's options, so this is also a commitment that's relatively OHL-proof. Google knows nothing else about Luce, as is often the case for super-young hockey commits, especially defensemen.

Etc.: Charles Pierce on The Game.


Hokepoints Empties the Bubble Drawer

Hokepoints Empties the Bubble Drawer Comment Count

Seth December 3rd, 2013 at 3:34 PM



The best reason I've been able to come up with for how this Michigan team could put up that kind of yardage against Ohio State is that Ohio State's defensive players are—man, how do I say this without being a total jackass homer rival?—more prone to mental errors than your average Big Ten starters.

I hereby dedicate this post In memory of the too-short MGoCareer of Heiko "Bubble Screen" Yang. Who needs doctor money anyway?

Another way to say it: the best and most representative player on that unit is Ryan Shazier, who is basically Jonas Mouton with five years of good coaching. Another way to say it: they're exactly as dumb as they are talented, and that's why a group of 5-stars are just an average defense. I am a total jackass homer rival.

The second-best reason, and the best you can say without coming off like a TJHR, is that which Borges himself apparently gave in the pre-game interview with Musberger: "We emptied the drawer." In other words, they finally ran all of those counters to the things they'd been doing all year.

There will be plenty of time in the months ahead to wonder why it took this long to throw paper, especially when that gamble came up just short (and the last play was a rock that OSU allegedly* RPS'ed) of paying off. For the moment, let's look at one of the "third" things they brought out for this game and what that did for the offense.


* Ohio State's players threw out one of those heartbreaking quotes about being uber-prepared for what was coming, but the play also had Gallon about to break open.

It's hard to argue Funchess isn't an "ideal" slot ninja, isn't it? [Upchurch]

The Bubble Package

Yards per attempt; attempts in parentheses:

Opponent Run Bubble Other Total YPP
MSU 2.0 (1) 8.0 (1)   5.0
Northwestern 5.3 (7) 5.7 (3)   5.4
Iowa 3.0 (5) 1.0 (2)   2.4
Ohio State 4.5 (4) 7.7 (3) 18.0 (1) 7.4
TOTALS 4.2 (17) 5.6 (9) 18.0 (1) 5.2

Michigan does the bubble differently than Rich Rod—he made it an automatic check against the slot defender getting too close to his running game—but both work under the same principle: keep your grubby SAM's hands away from my interior running game!

The Borges Bubble game debuted against Michigan State as a bubble screen(!) that got a remarkable-for-that-day eight yards, followed by a fake bubble (out of the shotgun) to inside zone that got unfortunately blown up by a double-a gap blitz. It really came out in the Northwestern game: ten plays for  5.4 YPP. Of those, three were the bubble screen, four were a fake to an inside zone, and three to an iso. Once it was on film, Iowa adapted but Michigan ran the same (basically) two things they had against the Wildcats. The result was 2.4 YPP on seven tries: 2 bubbles and 5 inside zones.

They run it out of different formations, usually with two tight ends opposite the bubble twins (20/27 plays I have charted were from the Ace twins twin TE or I-form twins). They do run other stuff from these formations but twins (two receivers to one side) with Gallon on the line and Funchess in the slot is a good sign the bubble game is in play.

It's a good fit for this team since it: A) de-emphasizes interior blocking by holding the SAM outside and letting his OL play 5-on-5; B) Utilizes the surprising multi-threats of Gallon (as a blocker) and Funchess (as a slot receiver), and C) Lets them get Derrick Green running downhill.


I don't have Iowa video but I can show you how they adapted. The first time Michigan ran it they threatened blitz with the SAM:


Then had that guy back out and attack Funchess. The idea was to lure Michigan into a screen if this was a check, and then blow it all to hell. Like I said, it's on tape. Fortunately Michigan doesn't run checks; they called run:


Iowa got to play their base defense against that basic zone run, and the result was 5-ish yards. That is rock on rock: it's blockers versus the blocked until safeties arrive, however the SAM was kept away from the running game by the threat of Funchess. The thing is, up to then Michigan only had a rock and a scissors, so Iowa could spend all day in this defense, ceding 3-5 yards when Michigan ran it, and blowing up the bubble constraint.

Here's what this looked like when OSU defended it:

Same playcall as Iowa except since they knew it wasn't a check they didn't bother with fake SAM ("Star" in Buckeye terminology) blitz—just lined him up against Funchess. A screen is dead.

But watch Joey Bosa (#97 on the bottom of OSU's line) get way too upfield and try to knock down the screen pass that isn't coming, thus taking himself completely out of the play. He's matched against Lewan instead of Butt, though, so Michigan was probably going to get something out of that block anyway; you still don't want to make it so easy.

The middle linebacker (#14 Curtis Grant) compounded matters by Obi Ezeh-ing his way to the hole, which gave Kerridge enough time to arrive and pop in an advantageous position. Finally, the safety (#3 Corey "City in Pennsylvania" Brown) took a long time to read the play, backing out a few steps before setting up at the 1st down line. He might have been run through if the other safety (#4 C.J. Barnett) hadn't made his way over, got depth with a neat little athletic step, and helped stop it.

So rock on rock nets a big hole and big yards, because Ohio State's defenders are something-something box of rocks. But they're not the only talent-deficient guys on the field. Michigan's OL screwed up rock on the third bubble package play of the game:

That's inside zone. With the Star taken out by the bubble fake, everyone is blocked except the safety coming down (#3 Corey "a Jewish suburb west of Pittsburgh" Brown). And he was set up outside so if Mags and Glasgow can hold their downfield blocks this could bust huge. However Glasgow and Kalis didn't do a very good job on their exchange—or else the DT (#63 Michael Bennett) just did a great job fighting through it—and the Buckeye DT ends the play with a mouthful. Bennett was bent back when Glasgow released so my inclination here is to point at Kalis and call it ten-man football.

In the Iowa play I wish I had video of, that DE threw off Butt, and the middle linebacker, despite drawing Lewan, managed to attack quick enough to cut off escape until everyone else arrived, which didn't take long since Iowa's safeties were playing with their ears back. However Green's momentum vs the size of those guys got an extra two yards. Here his 240 lbs. are irrelevant against a wall like Bennett.

[After the jump: other things you can make your fist into]


MGoPodcast 5.12: Almost

MGoPodcast 5.12: Almost



Sorry this is late; there was a ton to talk about and this checks in at almost 1:40.


Where did that come from? How can this team be the other team? Points for that throwback screen. Devin Gardner, man. Jeremy Gallon, wizard.


Pounded. Personnel issues. A discussion of whether Mattison is underperforming against the spread in which I think both Ace and myself disagree with ourselves.


Big ass fight, decisions, and a section from 57 to 1:03 in which we (read: I) discuss meta blog stuff that I am irritated by. You will note that the tone of voice is more exasperation than "meltdown." Norfleet is fun.


The Big Ten game of the week: the Iron Bowl. Fire Bo Pelini and Tim Beckman (and hire Pat Narduzzi please). Talking about OSU versus Auburn: do you take the team that hasn't really beaten anyone worth beating or the one that had to pull multiple games out of its butt and left one in there? This is why the BCS is stupid.


"Across 110th Street."
"Raised By Wolves," Voxtrot
"She Was A Hotel Detective," They Might Be Giants. (This is not a good song, but it is funny to envision a giant John Flansburgh interrupting weddings, funerals, football games, and county fairs by singing this at incredible volume.)
"Maladjusted," Morrissey (Oblig.)
"I'm Going To Town," Robert Earl Keen

The usual links:

I Can Reach It This Time

I Can Reach It This Time Comment Count

Brian December 2nd, 2013 at 12:21 PM

12/1/2013 – Michigan 41, Ohio State 42 – 7-5, 3-5 Big Ten


Bryan Fuller

About a dozen people asked me during and after the game about how they should feel, and all I had and have is a shrug. I don't know, man. I know this is the part of the blog where I come up with The Big Feel (uh… working title) about what happened on Saturday, and I'm as jumbled as anyone else.

How are you supposed to feel after coming up one play short against an undefeated Ohio State team that was favored by three scores? How about when that makes you two of the last 13 against the Great Satan? How are you supposed to feel after watching whatever that was on offense since the Notre Dame game* turn in the second-most yards Ohio State has ceded in 123 years? After watching the mostly valiant defense turn into the Indiana outfit that necessitated the footnote in the previous sentence?

Football's ridiculous. There's that. We can all agree on that after the football gods cooked up the worst possible torture imaginable for Harvey Updyke, who is 100% at fault for the way the Iron Bowl ended. That is the only thing that actually makes sense about football, a 109-yard field goal return to beat the #1 team in the country. Football is ridiculous.

For me this is a giant ball of frustration. Sometimes you come out on the wrong end of a classic and that sucks but it's still pretty much okay because of the context of the game and the fact that you got to experience it. The 2005 Rose Bowl is the best example in Michigan's recent history. This aspired to that status, but was doomed from the start because of one question.




People will say things about rivalries and sure, I believe that after watching Michigan State play Michigan for the past half-decade. There is no amount of rivalry that bridges this gap:

IOWA, 7 BIG TEN GAMES AGAINST NOT MICHIGAN: 4.9 yards per play allowed, in a pack just about tied for second in the conference behind MSU.

IOWA VS MICHIGAN: 158 yards ceded at 2.8 per play.

NEBRASKA, 7 BIG TEN GAMES AGAINST NOT MICHIGAN: 4.8 yards per play allowed, also in the pack. (Yes. Nebraska's defense was actually kind of good in Big Ten play.)

NEBRASKA VS MICHIGAN: 175 yards ceded at 2.8 per play.

OHIO STATE, 7 BIG TEN GAMES AGAINST NOT MICHIGAN: 5.0 yards per play allowed, third member of pack**.

OHIO STATE VS MICHIGAN: 603 yards ceded at 7.4 per play.

One of these things is not like the others. It's the one that doesn't make you want to listen to Pearl Jam like you're 15 and a girl just laughed at you. If Michigan does anything like what they did in this game against Nebraska, Iowa, and Penn State, they're 10-1 and shaking their fist at Michigan State's defense as the reason this game won't result in a rematch. In that context, a battle of top ten teams that goes down to the wire inside the wire, sure, classic away aw shucks it only hurts when I think about it, it's on. Which BCS bowl are we going to?

After the nine games between Notre Dame and Ohio State, that's a bit fanciful.

When Dave Brandon's not making ludicrous comparisons to Nick Saban and throwing Mike Martin, Denard Robinson, and Martavious Odoms under the bus, he's pointing out that Michigan is just two… three… four plays away from being Super Awesome Team. Anyone with eyes can see that they are three rather improbable ones away from being 4-8. Michigan was a yard away from losing to Akron, needed Desmond Morgan's best Woodson impression to beat UConn, and executed the only successful fire-drill field goal in the history of football to get to overtime against Northwestern. Fate has been kind and cruel in equal parts this year. This is a 7-5 team that finished with a losing record in conference because it deserved to.

That sucks. Putting on the fireworks against Ohio State to end the season is better than taking a steel-toed boot for three hours, but you watch them run play action that curls Jeremy Gallon back to Gardner off of that bubble-iso look and the mind argues with itself about whether it should say "hooray" and wave a little flag or "did you not want to win the Iowa game?" and wave a pitchfork.

You wonder how much earlier this progress could have come if Michigan had settled on a few simple things to start the season instead of trying to run everything that had ever been drawn up on a napkin. Or how much time they set on fire by running that gimmicky tackle over stuff that was dead as soon as it was put on film. How is it that these pieces can be assembled to put up 41 points against ND and OSU and zero (approximately) against the rest of the schedule?

Actually winning the game comes with a big old bucket of redemption. Coming that close and coming up short… well, ask Devin Gardner.


I mean.

“I threw an interception to lose the game,” Gardner said, his voice low and barely audible. “There’s not much else I can say.”

This is a person who just completed 70% of his passes for 450 yards and in the press conference after he's like me on the benches after the game, keeping my head down and trying not to hear the Ohio State fans around me. Hurting. In his case, both physically and mentally. All I've got on the former part is a sore wrist from bowling, but man did I feel that other bit at the same time he did.

This is a moral victory. It stops a large chunk of the bleeding, likely solidifies the recruiting class, and gives Hoke more stable footing going forward. And he's going to be here. It is much better than getting your head stomped.

But the thing about moral victories is that they aren't, you know, victories.

*[Indiana just gave up nearly 500 yards passing to Danny Etling. Indiana is rookie mode, and is set aside.]

**[Wisconsin at 4.8 without a Michigan game is the fourth member; Michigan is next in a tier by itself at 5.4, but then again it didn't get to play its offense; FWIW, Penn State's defense was meh at 5.7 and Michigan got 4.7 per play.]


brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_31[2]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. At one point late in the game, Gardner scrambled out of the pocket, found himself alone with a defensive back, and faked a throw to absolutely no one. This got him a first down and what looked like a sprained ankle. He managed to limp back to the huddle, whereupon I felt Michigan should just run the ball because their QB needed some time to not be dead. They threw it; Gallon was wide open on a corner route; Gardner missed it badly. Because he was dead.

When not dead, he turned in a superlative performance despite being pretty much dead. Devin Gardner is tough. Yes.

Honorable mention: Gallon and Funchess are pretty good you guys. The offensive line had a pretty good day not just by their standards but by the standards of average-ish D-I teams everywhere.

Epic Double Point Standings.

2.0: Jeremy Gallon (ND, Indiana), Devin Gardner(ND, OSU)
1.0: Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota), Frank Clark(PSU), Matt Wile (Nebraska), James Ross (Northwestern)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. In a game that was more about holding serve than field position, Michigan somehow stripping Carlos Hyde as he GRRAAAHHHHed his way towards another first down was even more important than a turnover usually is. That got Michigan back on level terms after being down a break, as it were, and provided the frenetic finish.

Honorable mention: Gallon screen goes for 84, announces that Michigan is not going to roll over dead. De'Veon Smith rumbles for 38 yards, looking like he did as a high schooler what with dudes bouncing off of him and such. That thing with Gardner pump-faking at air. Fight!

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.
10/12/2013: Devin Funchess shoots up the middle of the field to catch a 40 yard touchdown, staking Michigan to a ten-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. (Right?)
10/19/2013: Thomas Gordon picks off an Indiana pass to end the Hoosiers' last drive that could have taken the lead.
11/2/2013: Clock expires.
11/9/2013: Nebraska muffs a punt through no action of Michigan's.
11/16/2013: Michigan executes a clock-running last-second field goal to get the game to OT.
11/23/2013: 404 file not found

imageNEW! MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK. At the fine suggestion of a reader, this goes to the worst, most ANGAR-inducing thing in the game. Because double birds will live forever.

Your inaugural Epic Double Bird: Devin Gardner's "fumble" that was reviewed and confirmed after about three seconds when he looks clearly, obviously down.

[AFTER THE JUMP: Throw it up at the tall guy, FIGHT, defensive implosion, further double-birding at the replay official.]


Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41 Comment Count

Ace November 30th, 2013 at 4:24 PM

The lasting image of this game will be Devin Gardner, injured, spent, and devastated, flat on his back after his pass on the potential game-winning two-point conversion found Buckeye instead of Wolverine.

It's a shame, really, as Gardner gave one of great performances in the history of The Game today, leading a Michigan offensive explosion beyond anybody's wildest predictions. Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 34 yards and another score (above, Upchurch), and did all this despite clearly playing at less than 100%. The trio of running backs combined for 137 yards and another score on 24 carries; Al Borges, the offensive line, and the skill position players all had their best performances in over a month—603 total yards against the 13th-ranked defense in the country.

After Gardner lobbed a two-yard jump ball to Devin Funchess to make the score 42-41, Brady Hoke asked his seniors if they wanted to go for two and the win; Taylor Lewan said after the game that, to a man, the answer was yes. In a game that calls for cliché, they left it all on the field.

Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

The Buckeyes did too, of course. The Michigan defense simply couldn't find a way to stop Braxton Miller (153 yards and three rushing TDs) and Carlos Hyde (226 yards and a score on 27 carries) on the ground; when OSU went to the air, they didn't hit often—Miller finished just 6/15 on the day—but when they did it went big, as Miller's six completions went for 133 yards and two more touchdowns. Missing safety Jarrod Wilson and weakside LB James Ross, not to mention focusing heavily on stopping the run, the defense repeatedly allowed big plays over the middle. By the time the Buckeyes got the ball with five minutes left and the game knotted at 35, the defense looked gassed and played like it, ceding a one-yard scoring plunge by Hyde to cap a six-play, 65-yard drive that featured exclusively runs.

Gardner was masterful in the two-minute drill, finding Funchess, then Drew Dileo twice, then Joe Reynolds, Justice Hayes, and Toussaint to move the Wolverines 82 yards before netting the final two and six points on the lob to Funchess. Michigan tried to free up a receiver on a rub route on the two-point conversion; the Buckeyes had it covered, though, and Gardner's hopeful throw landed in the arms of Tyvis Powell.

Michigan didn't just give Ohio State a fight—quite literally, in a couple instances (above, Fuller)—they played their part in an instant classic. Devin Gardner might've ended the game on his back; I'll remember all the times he got up before that, and what he did while he was standing, above all else.


Adorable Puppies Liveblog

Adorable Puppies Liveblog Comment Count

Seth November 30th, 2013 at 11:20 AM


Let's talk about how cute my dog is. Look at those floppy ears. And how long that tail is for him! And that little button nose! Also Michigan is playing Ohio State today.

The Sponsor: Only 7-5. Only! Admit it: you expect a certain level of quality that is very difficult to achieve, and you are disappointed at less. Where did you get this sense of what constitutes excellence anyway?

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Oh, right. That.

Puppy jokes aside, you're here because this still has meaning to you. Wear it on your sleeve, and just on the edge of it too.

The Chaos: Before you enter, please calibrate your expectations appropriately.


Punt-Counterpunt: Ohio State 2013

Punt-Counterpunt: Ohio State 2013 Comment Count

Brian November 30th, 2013 at 9:42 AM


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 Nick RoUMel

Let me just say this about that. Brian’s article “Fickle” of 11/26 was the greatest article of all time.

I read “Fickle.” I nodded with manifest resolve, and knew right then that I had given up on this game. It was that simple. Unlike Brian, I felt no guilt and sold my tickets. Do you know how clean Stub Hub is? Enter the bar code and PayPal give you the money. No muss, no fuss, and crazed OSU fans with Buckeye necklaces will be sitting in section 39, row 80, seats 5-7, singing Hang On Sloopy.

Should I do that, and deprive the Wolverines of that buzz? No. Dammit.

I acknowledge I was too cynical. I needed to talk to a Wolverine. So I caught up with Brandon Williams (DB, ’99-’02, with a pro career through 2008). Brandon is now involved in philanthropic work and is connecting former players and fans through social media, As always, he was engaging, thoughtful, and positive.

Let’s go back to that buzz. In 2001—Jim “The Little Penguin” Tressel’s first year— Brandon was on Lloyd Carr’s Wolverines. He told me there is nothing like it, entering the Big House, sounding like everyone in the stadium is talking at once—a buzz, a roar. Even at warm-ups, normally 60-70,000 meandering in, for Ohio State there were 100,000 strong cheering like crazy.

Michigan fell short in that 2001 game, 310 days after The Little Penguin’s vow at the OSU/Michigan basketball game that the fans would be “proud” of their Buckeyes in Ann Arbor. But according to Brandon, Coach Carr turned that timeline against Tressel. He created a secretly recorded film showing the Wolverines preparing for battle: day 250, in the weight room; day 144, in a team meeting; hard at work at practice; day 79.

During this preparation, Michigan would not see red. There was a rule, that no one could wear green or red during the football season. Brandon told me, if the Jimmy John’s delivery guy came to the weight room during the season, the players would chase him out—deliveries had to be made to the trainer’s room.

Best of all, in one pre-game practice, as the sun was setting, the team looked at the sky. It was red in the west, blue in the east. Larry Foote exclaimed "there’s more blue than red!" You may think that’s a little corny but Brandon told me, “The whole practice just blew up. Carr loved it.”

He added, “Coach Carr never said anything bad about Tressel. But the buildup for that game was the best ever. We didn’t fully understand how huge it was. Chris Perry told us, the Michigan–Ohio State game is being televised live in Times Square, from start to finish.”

He spoke about the rivalry. “When the game started, the emotions were high, it was a little dirty. But then things settled down. It was hard hitting.

“There’s nothing like it. I’ve played in NFL playoff games, Monday Night Football. But there’s nothing like a Michigan-Ohio State game.

“You have to understand. You’re not just playing for you. You’re playing for all the guys who have played before you. They watch, they come back, and they care. I watch the game every week and ten guys are texting back and forth, calling back and forth. You’re playing for all of us.

“That rivalry, it’s always there. You can play on the same pro team with an Ohio State guy, and you have a working relationship, but come April, you’re betting on the game, and you still hate their school.”

I asked Brandon, given the challenges Michigan has faced this year, what would he tell the fans?

“Relax! A few years ago we had three wins, you know? So relax. I don’t want Coach Hoke to leave. We hear [the internet criticism], and move on. But we don’t forget it.”

Hearken, Wolverine fans. It’s been a tough year. But as Mr. Williams tells me, you throw the records out the window this week. It’s young men playing for pride. And yes, they make me feel guilty for selling my tickets.

I get it, Brandon. I feel Brian’s frustration, but I am a Michigan fan. I see red this week, but I am behind these boys 100%. If you don’t get pissed at being a 17 point dog at home to these stupid evil Buckeyes, then there isn’t a blue bone in your body. It is indeed great to be a Michigan Wolverine.



by Heiko Yang

I turned on the Arkansas-LSU game last night just in time to see LSU’s center go down with an injury. His replacement was a guy whose name sounded awfully familiar: Ethan Pocic, a true freshman five-star offensive lineman from Illinois who had Michigan high on his list before Michigan said they were done recruiting linemen. Except at that point Michigan wasn’t really done recruiting linemen, so I think a lot of people were peeved that they let him get away. But that’s beside the point.

I watched the next series of plays with an eye on Pocic, wanting to see how a highly touted true freshman interior lineman would perform at a program like LSU, whose offensive line play and coaching isn’t a complete tire fire like we think it is at Michigan.

Pocic got blown up almost immediately. His inexperience cost LSU their running game (RB Jeremy Hill, who had been averaging nearly 10 yards a carry got stuffed repeatedly), pass protection (I think Pocic got smoked for the sack that knocked starting QB Zach Mettenberger out of the game), and another offensive lineman (Hill got tackled near the line of scrimmage and rolled onto the leg of the right tackle). There were a bunch of false starts, too. One guy was all it took to unravel the entire offense. It was a miracle that LSU was able to pull out the win.

As a Michigan fan, all I could think the entire time was, “It’s not his fault!” Offensive linemen are like a fine scotch: if you bring them out before they’re ready, it’s going to burn real bad. Michigan fans have known this since September. Michigan’s coaches have known this since they got to Ann Arbor. That’s why Brady Hoke has been hoarding offensive linemen the last couple recruiting cycles because he saw the roster in 2011 and his reaction was probably something to the effect of “Winter is coming.” And we need scotch.

Well, winter is here, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it but wait it out. It’s worth considering making changes to schemes and the coaching staff, but nothing will make the offensive linemen grow up faster.

Michigan and Ohio State will play The Game today with the Wolverines a multiple-score home underdog (the odds are so lopsided I think there was a prop bet somewhere pitting Michigan's total rush yards against Ohio State's margin of victory). A lot of the stadium will be red, and I won’t even be mad. While the Wolverines have needed some pretty spectacular heroicism just to avoid being 4-7, the Buckeyes have steadily ridden their run game to a 23-, soon to be 24-game winning streak. Honestly, it will take some sort of miracle for Michigan to stay competitive in this game, let alone win.

And I guess that’s really the one nice thing about good, veteran offensive lines: they make miracles unnecessary.



Dear Diary and Borgesian Strategy Part II

Dear Diary and Borgesian Strategy Part II Comment Count

Seth November 29th, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Selfie: Go save Christmas again.



Kids! Gandalf the Maize's follow-up on which factors seem to be the most predictive of offensive line play compared the r-squareds of 19 things, from o-line experience as a whole, to their recruiting stars, to the left tackle individually, depth, QB talent, how much the team goes long, etc., and found the ONLY factor with relatively high significance is…





Interior. Offensive. Line. Experience!

Let's get a DotW to the wizard, and tell Funk to put some years on his charges, RIGHT NOW.

Ron Utah followed up by showing the relative age of Michigan's whole roster versus teams of significance.

Part II by dnak438 on Michigan's offensive regression this week went back and added 2011-12 to the study of YPP versus opponents, tracking it by dividing Michigan's yards per play each game versus the average that team gave up. The results are charts that really show the history of Al Borges's various offensive strategies:


Here's the progression:

[after the jump]