Opponent Watch: Week 5

Opponent Watch: Week 5

Submitted by Heiko on October 6th, 2011 at 1:46 PM

A few things: 1) I’m not going to change the X’s until Michigan loses. 2) Opponent Watch is moving to Tuesday next week. This is more for me than it is for you. 3) I’ve added a section devoted to tracking past opponents. 4) Michigan is not going to lose.

.

Yes.

.

Fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH Ace.

About Last Saturday:

Minnesota 0, Michigan 58

Jug security.

The Road Ahead:

Northwestern (2-2, 0-1 B1G)

Last game: Northwestern 35, No. 24 Illinois 38 (L)

Recap: Northwestern QB Dan Persa (10/14, 4 TDs) finally returned to action last Saturday against Illinois. It’s hard to tell whether he was suffering lingering effects of his Achilles tendon injury leading up to the game, but Persa had five real carries -- mostly on zone-read keepers -- before he exited the game in the fourth quarter with pain in said Achilles tendon.

Despite having Persa’s arm back for the first time since Iowa last year, Northwestern insisted on sticking with the run. For two and half quarters this strategy was surprisingly effective. Persa’s four TD passes to bring the Wildcats ahead 28-10 were set up by a ground game that churned out nearly 5 ypc for two and a half quarters, which, if you’re not a spoiled Michigan fan, is really quite good. RB Mike Trumpy was the centerpiece of the ground game, gaining 63 yards on 12 carries, which, again, if you’re not a spoiled Michigan fan, is quite good. Unfortunately, he also had to leave the game with a leg injury, and reports are saying he’s lost for the season.

For about 40 minutes, Northwestern’s offense sparkled and shined. Then both Persa and Trumpy got knocked out of the game. By that point they were up by three scores in the third quarter, so it was hard to see how they might blow it.

Their secondary answered the challenge. The Wildcats left Illini receivers open all day and had no answer for WR A.J. Jenkins, who took advantage of some hapless defensive backs to haul in two long touchdowns, bringing his team to within a score. Jenkins’ 28-yard reception during the final minute also helped set up the winning Illinois touchdown.

Here’s Ace’s take for more detail.

Right now they are as frightening as: With a gimpy starting quarterback, an injured starting running back, and a defense that sometimes chooses not to cover people, they strike me as Purdue 2.0. Fear level = 4.

Michigan should worry about: Mental errors on the road. Also, Persa’s arm. There’s a good chance at least one of these things will happen, but both will have to happen simultaneously for a significant amount of time for Northwestern to pull out the win.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: There were a lot of questions during the press conferences about how Michigan will deal with Persa’s dual-threat capabilities, but in reality the threat of him running is far scarier to the his Achilles tendon than for an opposing defense.

When Michigan plays them: If Northwestern wants to be stubborn with their play calling, they will again try to establish the run with a lot of of zone reads. Michigan will be able to cheat and key in on the running backs because it would be stupid for Persa to run more than a handful of times. This will last about a quarter before the Wildcats realize that maybe getting 3 ypc isn’t a winning strategy, at which point they’ll likely air it out against a Wolverines secondary, which, thankfully, finally knows how to cover receivers. The Michigan defense will probably make some mistakes -- they’ll give up a couple bombs or a long run here and there -- and the running backs will have less room to wiggle than in previous weeks, but it’s hard to see this game being more worrisome than a Western Michigan/San Diego State redux, albeit against some bigger dudes and on the road-ish.

Next game: No. 12 Michigan

(more after the jump)

Unverified Voracity On Time Lapse

Unverified Voracity On Time Lapse

Submitted by Brian on October 6th, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Cannibalism is actually an improvement in their level of civilization. Add Eddie George to the long list of current and former Buckeyes bombing the program:

“It appears to me that Bollman is out there, he’s totally exposed,” George said. “It’s his offense to lose, and clearly he has no idea or concept what to do with them at this point.”

Blue Seoul described the MSU-OSU game as "fun to watch if you don't like either of these teams" and that is so true. It's more true for Ohio State, which was blithely running second and long draw plays as Michigan State run blitzed with nine guys in the box. "OY OY OY this worked with Troy Smith OY," Bollman thinks.

Crack journalism. Well done, Free Press, well done:

image

Michigan does not have a women's hockey program.

Podcasting in two doses. One with Northwestern blog Sippin' on Purple on which I'm hard to hear and a second with the Michigan Man Podcast.

Time lapse. The Notre Dame game in time lapse photography:

The numbers. It's week six. FO's advanced stats maintain some preseason projections in them for another week or two, but they are increasingly based on events on the field and whoah:

Rank Team FBS
W-L
FEI Last
Wk
GE GE
Rk
SOS SOS
Rk
FBS
MW
FBS
RMW
1 LSU 4-0 .304 1 .234 12 .097 8 9.6 6.1
2 Alabama 5-0 .303 3 .342 5 .134 19 9.2 5.0
3 Oklahoma 4-0 .298 2 .359 3 .186 40 10.7 7.1
4 Wisconsin 4-0 .247 4 .600 1 .467 95 10.1 6.2
5 Clemson 4-0 .244 5 .162 19 .206 43 9.2 5.9
6 Michigan 5-0 .241 10 .347 4 .341 74 10.3 5.7
7 Stanford 4-0 .227 9 .405 2 .513 103 11.0 7.1
8 Georgia Tech 4-0 .225 15 .340 6 .441 92 9.3 5.5
9 West Virginia 3-1 .215 13 .138 20 .161 28 8.3 5.3
10 Oklahoma State 4-0 .211 6 .227 13 .156 25 9.8 6.3

Moving up four slots after bombing Minnesota probably means the formula does not yet comprehend how terrible the Gophers are—they did hang tight against USC and FEI ignores games against I-AA foes. Also it does not know just how goofy that ND game is.

Still, how are you doing, Stanford? U MAD?

Block MST3K. So this happened at the Hoover Street Rag:

THEME SONG

In the not too distant future, Saturday A.D.
There was a guy named Jordan, not too different from you or me
He worked at Schembechler Institute, just another face in a maize jumpsuit
He did a good job cleaning up the place, but his bosses kinda liked him so they made him play in space

(Curse you GERG!)

We'll send him speedy runners, the best we can find
He'll have to stop, tackle them all as we monitor his mind
Now keep in mind he can't control when the games begin or end
He'll try to keep his sanity with the help of his D-Line friends...

D-LINE ROLL CALL!

Martin! (I'm Captain!)
Heininger! (Left side!)
Van Bergen! (Where've you been?)
Rooooooooooooooooh! (I'm sophomore!)

If you're wondering how he eats and breathes and other science facts
He's got a meal card and it's set on earth so you can really just relax
For Michigan Defense Theater 3000.

Either you have no idea what that is about or you are no longer reading this post.

Woolfolk comes in. I erroneously left Woolfolk out of the Monday game post talking about the guys who stayed through all this drama, as Rodriguez might say, but in the Michigan blogosphere there is always someone to pick up where you fell short:

And one wonders; why have the Wolverines normally injury prone players been relatively healthy this year while Woolfolk has been injured time and again?  Bad Luck?  Anger an old gypsy woman?  Did the coaches use black magic to keep the guys healthy but the turnover was Woolfolk gets hurt instead?  Did they find some D&D style Rings of Transference to transfer all injuries to Troy as long as everyone was wearing the rings?  Not that I've ever played Dungeons and Dragons or anything.  Like I don't have a level 17 Wizard named Tulmo Falconclaw just sitting around, so don't think that.  I'm just guessing what nerds would say.  FIREBALL!!

It gets even saner from there.

Etc.: Highlights from hockey's season opener. I was not aware that Michigan's first goal was not a lucky bounce but rather a beauty assist from Hyman. Also Hunwick flashes the glove. WAC "instant" replay takes 22 minutes. Cue Special K homer drooling.

Maize Pages belated Minnesota recap. Five hours of Calvin Magee talking about the spread 'n' shred comes three years too late but is still really interesting.

I Think You Mean "Cooler," Sir

I Think You Mean "Cooler," Sir

Submitted by Brian on October 6th, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I would normally throw this in a UV, but this warrants a little shrine all its own. Via the M-Zone, this is the best summation of Ohio State's contribution to the national culture ever recorded in a bathroom and posted to youtube:

I AGREE.

UPDATE: This guy has a series of weird addled thirty-second bathroom-themed raps. And songs about how his life sucks or how he is the sexiest man in the whole wide world.

Unverified Voracity Wants Money For Nothing

Unverified Voracity Wants Money For Nothing

Submitted by Brian on October 4th, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Brilliance is brilliant even if it's not yours. Via the comments of The Only Colors:

2cdhj89[1]

This is not a criticism of Brady Hoke. Brady Hoke went for it on fourth and two. Hoke uber alles.

Fleming many places. The AV Club has launched in Ann Arbor with a few stories, one of them focused on the response to Patrick Fleming's death not only at Michigan but around the marching band world:

A group of representatives from the Ohio State marching band drove from Columbus to Ann Arbor just so they could say a few kind words during Wednesday’s practice. And MSU posted a YouTube recording of their entire band playing “Amazing Grace” as a tribute to Fleming. (The band’s version of the song, by the way, is just the way it should be: proudly, wonderfully loud and brassy.) 

The goodwill doesn’t stop with the Big Ten. If you go to the MMB’s Facebook page, you’ll see condolences from members of seemingly every college marching band in existence. Notably, there are a fair amount from the University of Massachusetts, the roles reversed from when their band director George Parks died last year while his Marching Minutemen were en route to Ann Arbor.

The goodwill doesn’t stop with the Big Ten. If you go to the MMB’s Facebook page, you’ll see condolences from members of seemingly every college marching band in existence. Notably, there are a fair amount from the University of Massachusetts, the roles reversed from when their band director George Parks died last year while his Marching Minutemen were en route to Ann Arbor.

How much money again? Via the magic of FOIA, AnnArbor.com reveals the finances of next year's matchup against Alabama, but they are not specific enough about a critical detail:

In addition to $4.7 million, U-M will receive 200 tickets, two luxury boxes and one field-level suite. The U-M marching band will receive free entry and reserved seating. U-M cheerleaders, dance team and mascots will also receive free entry.

Officials will provide approximately 25,000 tickets for Michigan to sell.

Does Michigan buy those tickets to resell at basically no gain or do they get them for free? The difference there is huge. If it's the former that $4.7 million makes this a negligible financial gain. Michigan made $41.3 million from spectator admissions last year, or about $5.2 million per game. They have to write checks for bodybag games but if bowl trips are any indication the cost to ship the team and the band to Dallas will be at least as much as half-million or so Michigan is hypothetically making if it's just the 4.7 million they're banking. If they're also flogging 2.5 million worth of tickets that's a big bump.

There are also some quotes from Brandon than make this seem awesome because it's like "a regular season bowl experience," by which he means a crappy environment thousands of miles away from either school run by a guy in a blazer. I'd rather play Alabama than San Jose State but Michigan playing in Dallas against a team from Alabama just reinforces how fan-screwing college football has become.

Here's a fantabulous statement that should totally obliterate your opposition to players getting more of what they bring in:

Brandon said the 967-mile trip is a part of U-M athletics’ effort to rebrand itself.

In the past year, U-M has hosted its first night game, purchased and installed a $20 million pair of scoreboards and drastically restructured its athletics marketing arm to include more than a dozen marketing professionals, up from three at the start of 2010.

“Where we were before, I don’t know if we would have considered going off campus to play a game like that,” Brandon said of the Alabama-Michigan game.

Insert Lloyd Carr sneering "money" here. Guy was 150% right about the direction college football was going upon his retirement. Maybe I'm just watching baseball right now, but rebranding the Yankees would get you shot, and deservedly.

(Budget HT: cutter)

BONUS BONUS, and by bonus bonus I mean not bonus not bonus. Michigan just sent out a letter to everyone on the season ticket waiting list telling them "500 bucks or GTFO." The 500 bucks guarantees you nothing except the privilege of waiting for season tickets. The privilege of buying split-season non-guaranteed seats will run you $100.

This may be a good time to revisit next year's home schedule:

Air Force
UMass
Illinois
Michigan State
Northwestern
Iowa

You could scalp half the season for the 100 bucks they're charging you just to be in line for tickets.

Hoover Street Rag on this development:

I've always wanted my own Michigan season tickets, and I was waiting out my opportunity.  I've cobbled together season ticket packages from the Alumni Association, from the Athletic Department's general sale, from friends, from other means.  So I have gone to my share of games, especially over the last five years.  But the reality is simply that I don't have $1000 to spend on six games in 2012, especially if the highlights are Michigan State and Iowa.  I suppose this is the new economic reality of big time college football, the middle class are being squeezed out of a stadium that can hold a medium sized Michigan city; the wealthy, those who can afford to donate to the athletic department, are the lifeblood of the program, the core customers to whom need to be catered, both figuratively and literally.  Season tickets are not about having tickets for all of the games, but rather assuring that you have tickets for Ohio State or Michigan State, depending on the year.  This is not new, but it's going to become more and more common with the ever escalating financial demands on the season ticket holders.  The Athletic Department now faces a stadium for the Ohio State game which may lack an enthusiastic student section because of the post-Thanksgiving date of the game, and may lack the focused pro-Michigan crowd they want due to potential highest bidder ticket sell off by season ticket holders.  Perhaps it doesn't matter to the Athletic Department.  As long as the ticket has been paid for, it doesn't matter who is in the stands.  The partnership with StubHub seems to indicate this line of thinking may have merit.

I wanted to quote a lot less of that just so you'd click through but there's at least twice as much discussion of this. During the season I don't have a lot of time to spend on this but I feel the papercuts incrementing. In the long run finding the exact breaking point at which your mostly-full stadium puts up with your marketing seems like a recipe for long-term decline.

Speaking of long term decline…

Ohio State business. There is more of it and it further tests the idea that there is anything resembling compliance or control within a 200-mile radius of Columbus. I'm wary of exposing myself to more homerderp statements in the aftermath of the NCAA not even bothering to charge failure to monitor, let alone lack of institutional control, in the aftermath of tatgate, but, like, seriously.

Even the intentionally bland ESPN Big Ten blog is beginning to ask WTF:

"These failures are individual failures, failures of individual athletes, obviously a previous coach," Smith said Monday. "It's not a systemic failure of compliance."

There's that line again. Just a few bad apples. Apple cart's fine. Nothing to see here, NCAA. Keep moving along.

"These individual decisions were made to go off the reservation," Smith said. "At the end of the day, it’s not a systems problem."

Remind me to ask Smith where I can find this reservation. Getting paid for not working? Sign me up!

"These were individual decisions by individual people," Smith said. "It's not 30."

It's getting close.

Doctor Saturday on the same issue:

As of today, that list of wayward individuals includes:

• A former head coach who admitted to (and was formally charged with) covering up major NCAA violations by multiple high-profile players for nearly nine months, including the entire 2010 regular season and the 2011 Sugar Bowl, even after said violations became public.

• A starting quarterback who was initially suspended for accepting more than $1,000 in improper benefits, and later forced to leave the team amid reports that he a) Accepted tens of thousands of dollars more in exchange for autographing memorabilia, and b) Had been regularly accepting money from a businessman in his hometown, with whom the head coach kept in frequent contact, for more than two years after they had been specifically warned to cut all financial ties.

• Four other veteran players suspended along with the quarterback for accepting thousands of dollars in improper benefits.

• Two of those same four players suspended further for accepting more improper benefits after having already been suspended for accepting improper benefits.

• Three other players suspended for accepting small cash payments from a booster, apparently via a teammate who had already been suspended for improper benefits.

• A booster formally disassociated from the program for providing said payments.

That's what Ohio State has more or less owned up to, not including the discounted cars and other assorted freebies that have failed to progress beyond the "rumor/allegation" phase. That's what we can realistically say we know.

So... that seems sort of less than controlled, you know? Here's someone who agrees:

The fact that Smith has failed to notice Bobby DiGeronimo, an OSU booster who has apparently been secretly paying OSU athletes for years, or Edward Rife, the architect of the tat-gate scandal, to communicate with its athletes is embarrassing. Even after all that has ensued this offseason with the punishments and sanctions, athletes are still finding ways to get in trouble. For Smith to say OSU doesn't have a problem with their "system," is a joke.

That's Fox Sports's Thayer Eva—Wait… that's Eleven Warriors. What?

Etc.: Not one but two sets of excellent Northwestern wallpaper. The Illinois-Northwestern game in full. Five hours of Calvin Magee explaining the spread n shred three years too late. Shorter Houston Nutt: "a verbal commitment is a sacred bond; a signed letter of intent is for me to poop on."

Yost Built previews the hockey season: defensemen and goalies; forwards.

Opponent Watch: Week 4

Opponent Watch: Week 4

Submitted by Heiko on September 29th, 2011 at 9:36 AM

(Fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH.)

About last Saturday:

San Diego State 7, Michigan 28

This is how you get from “Rolling in the Deep” to “Someone Like You.”

The Road Ahead:

Minnesota (1-3)

Last game: North Dakota State 37, Minnesota 24 (L)

Recap: Minnesota lost to FCS North Dakota State last Saturday in a game where the Gophers were out-everythinged, which made coach Jerry Kill feel a lot of bad for a lot of people.

"Coach outcoached me, their team outplayed us and they deserved to win the game," Gophers coach Jerry Kill said, adding: "I feel bad for our students. I feel bad for the state of Minnesota. I feel bad for our fans, and I feel bad for our kids."

This didn’t make Brian’s This Week In Schadenfreude column probably because any decent human being would find it hard to derive any joy from Minnesota’s pain. They’ve lost to three FCS teams over the last five years. At this point you just feel bad for them.

If you insist on analyzing the game, you’ll see the key stat of the game is two turnovers -- both Gophers quarterbacks threw an interception each, and both interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

But it’s hard to see anything through the acrid smoke from the tire fire that was Michigan’s 2010 defense and is now Minnesota football.

The best part about Michigan playing a team in such pitiful state, however, is watching Hoke come up with reasons for why they’re a respectable opponent.

Reason 1:

Minnesota got beat by North Dakota State, which is as good a football team as -- you don’t want to schedule them, I can promise you that, because they are well coached and they are tough.

So they were beaten by a football team that is a football team. Fair. These things happen sometimes, I guess.

Reason 2:

“I think Marqueis Gray, their quarterback -- and they’re using two quarterbacks. I think he’s averaging right around a hundred [yards] rushing the football.”

And they have a quarterback controversy that involves a guy who can run. That’s probably cause for concern. For them.

Reason 3:

“I haven’t looked much at their defense yet. I know Royster, I think their safety -- what’s his name?” Kim Royston. “He’s a good football player. He sticks out. Linebacker 51 (Gary Tinsley) sticks out.”

He has no idea.

Right now they are as frightening as: Someone choking. A good, hard abdominal thrust might break a couple ribs, but ultimately it’s for their own good. Fear level = 2.

Michigan should worry about: Some average-to-good Big Ten team will inexplicably lose to them.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: It’ll probably be Iowa.

When Michigan plays them: Their coach’s health is a concern, and now Marqueis Gray stubbed his toe … We might finally get to see Devin Gardner play more than two snaps. Knock on wood.

Next game: at No. 19 Michigan

(more after the jump.)

Unverified Voracity Takes Everything Back

Unverified Voracity Takes Everything Back

Submitted by Brian on September 27th, 2011 at 11:40 AM

No, sir, I have no problems with tunnel screens anymore, sir. This is Al Borges's terrifying father:

al-borges-dad

That is a 79-year old in the photo. Gordon Borges is now 84 years old and is thinking about crushing your head like a grape. All criticisms about the offense are withdrawn.

The clans reunite to fight. MVictors runs down the clans' reaction to John Bacon's Three and Out. You may or may not be part of The Rebellion:

“You removed the chart Dooley, so gloves are off!”

This book is right in their wheelhouse.  Bacon points out in painful detail all the obstacles that RichRod faced (and yes, a few he created) along the way.  They cheered each time Bacs mentioned “The Horror” or their homebase, mgoblog.  Would have liked to seen more detail on the internal politics of RR’s handling of (or lack thereof) the defensive coordinators. 

This is a bit of revenge on those responsible for setting the course for the Michigan offense to head back to the Stone Ages and..   [oh, wait a second..they stopped reading this --Bri’Onte Dunn just updated his Facebook page.]

Dammit, Dooley, no he didn't.

If this was a business it would be the kind of business that is not a business for very long. Dan Wetzel ties mega conference realignment into a college football playoff, or lack thereof, and hits home on the absurdity of the bowl system in one tight paragraph:

College football defies all business logic by outsourcing its most profitable product to third-party bowl games. The Bowl Championship Series not only fails to capitalize on the enormous potential of a multi-week tournament, it sucks hundreds of millions of dollars out of college pockets in an effort to preserve the tradition of $700,000 bowl director salaries and the majesty of the TaxSlayer.com Bowl.

That is a real thing now, that bowl name. It boggles the mind that an organization so relentlessly focused on every nickel signs away millions of dollars a year in the name of traditions not even I believe in anymore. College football actually does more than lose potential profit to nerds in yellow blazers, it sets money on fire by allowing bowls to impose ticket guarantees they know will never be fulfilled. The NCAA could do something about this (they okay bowl games) but chooses not to. Why is a mystery.

I disagree with Wetzel when he says extra revenue from a playoff could have forestalled or eliminated the current wackiness. Wins are a zero-sum game, so there is no such thing as enough money. It's all about how much money you have relative to the other guys. As long as Texas is Texas this still happens.

[ed: I meant to post this last week but it slipped through the cracks. Might as well publish it as further confirmation of MANBALL is +EV.]

I like it. Until Brady Hoke gives me reason to believe he is a football coach I am going to pretend he is playing XBox and does not know it and will therefore accidentally make correct decisions other football coaches will not. I will take press conference statements as rock-hard evidence of this fact. So:

You looked a little mad when the team went over to the student section after the Eastern Game. How come? “I wanted to score a touchdown at the end instead of a field goal.”

WOOO TEMPLE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 2015

I like it, too. To emphasize how often coaches get things like this wrong, here's Ramzy on Luke Fickell:

Braxton Miller then rushed for ten yards to get to the Colorado one-yard line. There were six seconds left on the clock and Ohio State had a timeout to spare. The Buckeyes were ahead 17-7, playing at home, dominant in the trenches and had time for one more play from one yard out with the ability to still stop the clock if the attempt was unsuccessful.

Fickell was presented with a classic step-on-their-throats opportunity and chose to kick a field goal, to a chorus of boos. The chorus was correct: One more shot at a touchdown was the right call. The rookie head coach was caught over-thinking yet again, while covering for the position he's trying to earn permanently.

This was not a situation where 'just taking the three points' should have been a delicious, dangling carrot. A fade or a sneak could be easily be run in under five seconds, still leaving time for a field goal with that timeout in Fickell's pocket (a disturbing trend that began in the waning moments of the Miami game). Even if the end zone shot failed, Ohio State still could have stopped the clock and attempted a field goal as time expired.

Five seconds is a little hairy when it comes to getting that second snap but he's probably right if it's from the one. Michigan's game-ending ND fade was run from the 16 and took six seconds. Given OSU's mauling interior line it was likely to be moot anyway.

BTW, Ramzy seems very much opposed to Fickell's retention at the end of the year. I'm torn: OSU elevating an unproven guy who's never really been a coordinator (Fickell was listed as "co-DC" for the past six years but with Jim Heacock around that seems more ceremonial than functional) and makes goofy gameday decisions is an excellent situation, but dumping Fickell after the season helps Michigan's recruiting momentum since presumably it will come with a poor record.

Hat collection. Brady has one.

On a shelf in his office at the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke keeps a display of various baseball caps.

There’s a Pittsburgh Penguins hat, a few White Sox caps, plus a couple from the Detroit Tigers.

“That’s my collection to this point,” said Hoke, Michigan’s head football coach.

He didn’t buy these hats, though. And they weren’t given to him as gifts. Instead, he took them from his players because they broke his rule.

“Those are hats from players that don’t wear Michigan hats in here,” he said.

"Brady Hoke gets it" tag… engaged.

Now kill some of them with fire. The NCAA was sued by the Aloha Bowl when the bowl game tried to sell itself to some people in Seattle only for the NCAA to block them. This happened way back in 2003 and is only getting resolved now. The NCAA won. Money quote:

“We will vigorously defend the NCAA’s efforts to act in the best interest of student-athletes and the collegiate model of sports, as we did in this case,” he added. “The jury found that saying no to the Seattle Bowl was the right thing. We look forward to moving on from this case and continuing to assist the postseason bowl system so it can operate ethically and appropriately.”

Thing the NCAA can do:

The NCAA does not run postseason football bowl games in Division I but licenses them to ensure they meet a variety of requirements to ultimately provide a meaningful experience for student-athletes and institutions. These criteria relate to attendance, conference commitments, revenue and other details. 

Thing the NCAA does not do: prohibit ticket guarantees that transfer money from universities to warm-weather cities with guys in colored blazers. IE: Stop setting student fees on fire.

The arbitrariness of stickers. An old Bo lineman writes MVictors about Michigan's helmet stickers and the extremely precise way in which they were handed out:

It’s funny as an offensive lineman you were never quite sure why you got one.  A good block, a good game, a good play.  It was easy for the specialty folks, touchdowns, TFL, sacks, fumble recovery, interceptions, 100+ yard games, etc.  They never told us specifically why we received  one. You just seemed to get more of them when you won.  I still have my helmet from my freshman year where I earned I think 6 or 7 of them.  I only played on the kick-off return team then and I was never told what I did to receive them.

A real throwback uniform would have to include stickers, but they'd have to wait until Denard graduates unless we fit him with a comically oversized Turd Ferguson helmet.

Etc.: Just Cover on the state of MSU's offensive line, which is shamblicious. Rant about spin on Craig Roh crying story if RR still in charge implied but mercifully omitted. Michigan's last 2012 opponent is UMass, who will be in the MAC by then. Kiffin assistant paid for Seastrunk's airfare on an unofficial visit to Tennessee—wonder how that fallout hits repeat violators UT and USC.

If I had known they were handing out muppets that look like you at BWB for winning the USMAP awards I would have created a voting robot to win.

Opponent Watch: Week 3

Opponent Watch: Week 3

Submitted by Heiko on September 22nd, 2011 at 11:53 AM

(Still tweaking, but I think I’m getting close to a winning formula. Again, fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH.)

About last Saturday:

Eastern Michigan 3, Michigan 31

Yawn.

Ace and I played “Where’s Waldo/Brian?” from the press box.

Found him!

He’s so dreamy when he’s pixelated.

[Ed: I told you there was no one in my section.]

The Road Ahead:

San Diego State (3-0)

Last Game: Washington State 24, San Diego State 42 (W)

Recap: After escaping Army, San Diego State hosted Washington State and waited for the Cougars to lose, which they did. The Aztecs capitalized on three Washington State turnovers in the fourth quarter to turn what seemed like a tenuous lead into an 18-point cushion. San Diego State actually trailed for the entire first half and through most of the third quarter before Aztecs RB Ronnie Hillman converted a third-and-one at the goal line to finally put them ahead 28-24.

The Cougars, devastated by the loss of such a rare lead, imploded.

The play on which it happened should sound familiar. Seven plays into their next drive, the ball slipped out of Washington State QB Marshall Lobbestael’s hand a la Tommy Rees. On the following play for San Diego State, the Cougars defense allowed Hillman to break free for a 64-yard touchdown sprint. Game over. Lobbestael additionally tossed two interceptions to make sure his team fell well short of covering the four-point spread.

What we know about San Diego State is this: the defense has faced two mediocre offenses that are as one-dimensional as these dashes -- Army ran for 90% of their yards, and Washington State passed for 88% of their yards -- and has yielded on average three touchdowns and 400+ yards to each. (Cal Poly doesn’t count.) Rocky Long may have a funky scheme that’ll confuse some offenses, but as Ace points out, that defensive line is leedle. They are the bendiest of bendy defenses kept respectable by opponent turnovers, a significant number of which were just stupid. Yes, they’ve done enough in their previous two games to win. Against Michigan, they will need to do more.

The offense is a solid, well-rounded B+, good enough to attend a four-year college, marry a nice Christian girl, have three kids and a golden retriever named Chelsea, and also score multiple touchdowns against the Wolverines, which, miraculously, is a feat only Notre Dame has achieved so far. Think of the San Diego State offense as a less intimidating but less hilarious Irish offense. With a better quarterback. But worse wide receivers. And a running back who doesn’t fumble. But maybe a smaller offensive line?

Nevermind. Forget I said that.

Right now they are as frightening as: Their overall vibe strikes me as a well-coached Indiana. Fear level = 4.

Michigan should worry about: Containing Hillman. Michigan has enough talent on the defensive line to manage the trenches and keep inside runs to a minimal gain. Irresponsible linebacker play on the edge, however, will lead to 200+ yards for Hillman and a 20+ tackles for Jordan Kovacs. If Kovacs ends up being next week’s Alro Steel Ironman, you’ll know something went terribly, terribly wrong.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Again, the scouting report. Knowing is half the battle.

If Michigan plays them next Saturday: The first quarter will be critical. Michigan will need to avoid falling behind early against a team that’s more talented than Western Michigan and more disciplined than Notre Dame. After the most sobering 31-3 victory ever, the Wolverines offense -- particularly the passing portion (particularly the Denard part of that passing portion) of the offense -- needs confidence that only a lead can provide. Also, the last thing the Wolverines can afford to give San Diego State is momentum, as they’re already playing with the following list of motivations:

  1. You stole our coach.
  2. He left us because he thinks you’re better than us.
  3. You think you’re better than us.
  4. You’re ranked, so everyone else thinks you’re better than us.
  5. He broke up with us via text message.

So. Let’s score some early points, yeah?

Next game: at No. 22 The University of Greener Pastures

(more after the jump)

Unverified Voracity Executes Ref Bump

Unverified Voracity Executes Ref Bump

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2011 at 11:31 AM

The full Hebner. If you've got a Scout account I highly recommend their latest video of Kyle Kalis($). It has many examples of Kalis burying some poor high school kid, sure, but the main attraction is a ref bump worthy of Wrestlemania:

image

At this point in the film I was expecting Luke Fickell to rush in from behind and deliver a low blow, then roll Kalis up for a pin.

In other news, holy crap Kyle Kalis hates people. Molk will be proud.

Will Campbell tackled Thomas Gordon after his INT.

Q: "Did he say anything do you?"
A: "Get off me."

My name is Boris. Michigan let Pryor golf partner and all-around weirdo Dennis Talbott in, but he was calling himself "Tennis Dalbott" and could not be identified:

"I actually spoke to him and told him he would no longer be credentialed," Dave Ablauf, Michigan senior associate athletic director for media and public relations, told ESPN.com. "He came in under a different name than what we were familiar with. Had the name I knew popped up, I wouldn't have credentialed him."

He's been booted, as has the organization he was working with. So… have a free spot on the sideline, do you, Michigan? #callme

Welcome to our pit of shame and despair. Amongst Eleven Warriors' constantly shifting cast of writers is a man named Danny. Danny seems new. Danny seems untouched by trouble, a happy-go-lucky fellow just raring for another bite at life's apple. This is going to last another two months, tops:

In a recent B1G conference power ranking by Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, the Buckeyes are listed at number six in the conference behind Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, and Michigan State.

I expect these numbers to change in OSU's favor by the time B1G play opens up against Michigan State on Oct. 1. Yes, Ohio State had a major meltdown against Miami, but this team will get better if the offense can gain some consistency coming out of this week's game against Colorado.

Rittenberg's rankings are pretty reasonable with the way the Buckeyes have played up to this point, but I expect to see OSU ahead of at least Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State later this season. Ohio State has endured much hardship stemming from last December, but this team is much better than sixth in the conference and time will prove that.

That's right: despite barely cracking 200 yards and only eclipsing 13 passing yards because of two pity throws allowed Braxton Miller at the end of the Miami game, OSU is "at least" better than Illinois, MSU, and Michigan. Danny's not sold on this Wisconsin business, and Nebraska's passing game? Eh… a little shaky.

He may actually be right about Michigan but when The Game is played for that all-important eighth win this guy is going to be a mite peeved, and by "a mite peeved" I mean "catatonic on the floor of a 7-11 in Euclid." At least he's not the guy who thinks a 9-3 projection is "worst case."

The 'freude! You like it this week, too. On Bauserman:

I got 3 lil boys all who can kick his ass and get nothing since they got clean records. honestly I bet someone on campus is going to kick his ass.if I knew where he lived he would take a ass whipping for laughing during that gm and f--- all u lil bitches who got somethin to say on here supporting him

Luke Fickell doesn't understand how time works. He doesn't think you can save timeouts, but he does think that he is going to run off as much time as a team trying to kill the clock:

“We still knew we were going to need two scores. Our thought was if we’re going to need two scores, we’re going to need to have the ability to stop the clock offensively,” Fickell said. “They were running (the clock) out.

“If we look back in hindsight, the very last (third down), maybe it would have saved us 30 seconds in our minds and maybe we could have got a little bit of a breather (for the defense, which) is something that I always look back at. Our thought was, ‘Hey, we’re going to do the best we can to try to make sure we have a couple (of timeouts) to score twice.’ ”

This is a breathtakingly stupid thought. Hire this man, OSU. (HT: DocSat)

ND pregame. We missed an impressively overwritten Tom Rinaldi intro for the Michigan-ND game never got aired because the SEC game went late. Bonus bits include full pregame festivities and Brent Musberger rambling semi-coherently despite no one watching him.

I bet Musberger does this on planes. YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE at a half-ounce packet of peanuts.

Road trips. An Ole Miss fan did the wise thing a couple weeks ago and hit up Ann Arbor instead of watching the Fighting Ackbars go at it one week before they'd feature in Vandy's biggest SEC win in 40 years. Overall gist:

Aside from being an incredibly exciting football game punctuated by a tense, high-flying fourth quarter which featured the Wolverines coming back from a 17-point deficit on the back of Denard Robinson's heroics, this number made the trip itself worth it. 114,804 is the largest attendance number ever recorded in the history of NCAA football. I'm sure that, in time, that record will be broken, but until that happens I will be able to proudly boast that I was a part of the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game. That's cool, dammit.

Bell's is enjoyed. He did us the service of getting a good shot of the U MAD Kelly sign:

IMG_3246_medium[1]

Also, Orson hit up the LSU-Mississippi State game and reports back with what's left of his cowbell-shattered sanity.

You think we're wafer thin? I'll show you wafer thin. Michigan State's offensive line was a sore spot going into the season and has just been poked by Notre Dame to the tune of 27 rushing yards. That ain't good. The injury situation is worse:

A day after Michigan State announced starting right tackle Skyler Burkland will miss the rest of the season following left ankle surgery, Dantonio said starting center Blake Treadwell and backup tackle Jared McGaha will be sidelined with knee sprains.

Both of the latter are questionable for the M-MSU game on the 15th of October; MSU does get center Travis Jackson back this weekend. Dantonio got his customary shot in at Michigan about it, but if I had to pick between OL situations for that game it's a slam dunk for M, which has two solid backups and a complement of experienced starters. Michigan State just flopped a third defensive tackle—one who was seeing playing time!—to offense in less than eight months.

Michigan's situation. With Toussaint and Barnum's apparently healthy returns the injury situation for Michigan is not bad at the moment. Cam Gordon's has been out but is expected to play against SDSU, as is Brandon Herron. Then you've got Woolfolk's array of comically obvious minor injuries and… that's about it. Knock on wood.

Unfortunately shoddy. I was about to be all about Nate Silver's stab in the dark at the relative sizes of college football fanbases because the Big Ten made out like gangbusters and the M-OSU-PSU troika finished 1-2-3, but a little deeper poke into the numbers reveals they fail some basic sanity checks. Braves & Birds:

I love Silver's writing on politics and baseball, but you can tell from his post that he is not a college football fan. If he were, then he would know that he needs to go back to the drawing board when his methodology produces a conclusion that Georgia Tech has 1,664,088 fans, while Georgia has only 1,098,957 fans. Anyone who follows college football in this market …immediately knows that this number is wrong. Georgia sells out every game in a 90,000 seat venue, regardless of opponent. Georgia Tech struggles to fill a 50,000 seat stadium unless the opponent brings fans. Georgia has a fan base that will make massive donations in order to have the right to buy tickets; Georgia Tech has to offer ticket packages to get casual fans in the door.

That highlights a major bias towards 1) metro areas and 2) nerds, and while we joke about Ohio State's fanbase most of the counties in that state do have power. Can't say the same for a lot of places college football is popular.

There's also this:

image

When your data includes a note that it is "highly inaccurate" and your results defy common sense it's back to the salt mines.

A ridiculous picture of Ron English for no reason.

ron-english-ridiculous

Via Philly.com. EMU is at Penn State this weekend.

Etc.: Big East folks are just bombing everything around them. Jim Boeheim more than anyone. On The Banks is in full Kelly mode, except they're seemingly justified because their ham-handed attempt to force Villanova football into the Big East blew it all up. My favorite part is Jack Swarbrick complaining about people doing things that have "very negative consequences" for other schools. Notre Dame has long been known for its teamwork and spirit of share and share alike, which is why they voted down a big rights increase for Big East football.

Jamiemac tries to say nice things about the Big Ten. A couple of cool counter plays Texas ran against UCLA. SEC expansion remains stupid. Craig James media awards are extra spicy this week. Silver featured.

Can't Fight This Organic Superstructure Anymore

Can't Fight This Organic Superstructure Anymore

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2011 at 12:58 PM

9/17/2011 – Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 3 – 3-0

denard-emudenard-praying

AnnArbor.com

The first quarter is a stupid quarter. It eats American cheese still in the wrapper and sits down for reality TV marathons. I suggest that in the future all first quarters will be abolished in favor of other, better quarters, like the second, third, and fourth.

That is the future, though, when Michigan's depth on both lines isn't horrifying and the quarterbacks have returned to their baseline state—enormous, ponderous, NFLerous. Right now we have to endure first quarters and run Denard Robinson 26 times for 198 yards against Eastern Michigan because first quarters are stupid.

They leave us so spooked that Borges sends Denard out to add three carries to his total in a 28-3 game with ten minutes left, and in doing so explodes the idea that this offense is not Denard, Denard, Denard. Next Saturday the real lyrics to Varsity* will be

"Robinson… Robinson. Robinson, oh Robinson /
Robinson Robinson oh Robinson!"

The Saturday after that he will take all 110,000 tickets. By October he will have evolved an organic superstructure that slowly replaces the metal and concrete of Michigan Stadium with rainbow rows and gently whinnying unicorn hand-warmers. 

Is this sustainable? Almost certainly not. Will an exhausted Denard evaporate mid-season as the demands on his existence become too much to even contemplate, let alone bear? Almost definitely.

Does Michigan have a choice? No.

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

We may be reading way too much into these two drives:

DRIVE #2

  • (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for 1 yard to the MICH2 (CUDWORTH, J.;MULUMBA, Andy).
  • (2nd and 9) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.
  • (3rd and 9) Robinson, D. rush for no gain to the MICH2 (WESTERMAN, J.;KASHAMA, K.).

DRIVE #3

  • (1st and 10) Toussaint, F. rush for loss of 1 yard to the MICH20 (CUDWORTH, J.).
  • (2nd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Koger, Kevin.
  • (3rd and 11) Robinson, D. pass incomplete to Roundtree, Roy.

One of those started at the Michigan one and the other was a victim of Denard's early-season inability to throw. But they did not move the ball against Eastern. This blog's prediction that Michigan would manage to exceed Eastern's terrible YPC yielded from under center was nowhere close to true. Combined with a bunch of two-yard runs against Notre Dame the overall effect is to look at a run out of the I-form as a wasted down.

Michigan ditched any semblance of a pro-style offense at that point, whereupon the drives ended like so: TD, three and out, TD, TD, TD, 21-yard field goal. That is what life is supposed to look like against Eastern Michigan, and if we have to wear Denard Robinson into a beaming nub by God that's what we'll do.

Maybe those two drives are flukes. That would be odd since it seems pretty hard to go from five years of primarily zone blocking to primarily power, from an offense that is based on being faster and smarter than an opponent to one based on being bigger and stronger. Remember the theory that stated Michigan's linemen not adding any weight over the offseason was clever gamesmanship? Yeah, not so much: that's just how big they are. That's big for humans, but not beef machines.

Once you add the above into the two-yards-and-cloud-of-despair ND under center runs you've found a dataset nearing significance. It says Shotgun Forever, for the next two years.

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

Borges flipped his script immediately after, and that's great. Long term projections that these coordinators are the best in a long time remain on track. Getting Denard on a similar track is a lot more pressing, unfortunately.

I keep bringing this up in the UFRs but it's worth repeating: this is a regression. Why it's a regression is unknown, but the legions of people declaring Denard a "terrible" passer are reacting to the most recent data only. Before that he was not Chad Henne but he was not awful, either. I mean, sweet hotpants in a pickle bun, I have him for 15 good throws downfield, 2 meh ones, and 2 poor ones against Wisconsin(!) last year. These are throws past the LOS, not screens. Wisconsin! I take these numbers specifically to reduce the noise you get from drops and completion percentage and the numbers say he's not Chad Henne but when you put him in last year's offense he's not that far off.

So… last year's offense. Borges's next step is trying out the snag, all-hitch, and curl/flat routes that Denard had gotten comfortable with last year to see if his persistent inaccuracy is purely mechanical or an artifact of nerves that come with unfamiliarity with the offense. (Also, can we get bubble screen action up in here?)

If he's not the relentlessly accurate guy it seemed in the first half of last year, neither is he the guy who can't seem to complete anything this year. There is a ridiculously good offense lurking somewhere in Michigan's personnel. It's up to Borges to find it. Declaring the offensive line average and blaming Denard Robinson is faintly ridiculous. They managed to muddle through with those anchors last year.

Michigan wins games down the road by making Denard the focus and exploiting how opponents react to that.

drew-dileo-emu

If it doesn't work, okay. It's all you've got, for a given, incredibly sexy version of "all you've got." 

*[Do not be fooled by the words on the video board. The only words in "Varsity" are "oh" and "Varsity." Try it.]

Non-Bullets of First Quarter Hatred

Edge issues. I'm not enormously concerned about the defense because most of the issues seemed to have one very obvious cause: freshman DE/SLB types losing the edge on jet sweeps. Jake Ryan in particular was exploited to the point where they threw Brennen Beyer on the field, who we've seen have major edge issues. I'd rather have one obvious coaching point to work on than a wholesale breakdown. Michigan seemed to adjust in-game and showed better edge contain before the day was over.

Prog-ress?

BONUS: Frank Clark had one of the day's most impressive plays on a late jet sweep where he set up in a good spot, baited the WR inside, popped outside his blocker, and forced the guy back into pursuit. Mental +2 there.

Changes. Thomas Gordon got an entire game as a deep safety and made a spectacular interception; in his stead the nickelback was Raymon Taylor. Taylor's main contribution was picking up a personal foul on EMU's long drive that got stuffed at the one; after that Michigan realized EMU was about as likely to throw as they were and took him off the field. The non Black/Roh DE spot was a jumble of Clark, Beyer, and Ryan.

Q: was the Gordon move a permanent thing or a reflection of EMU's non-spread offense? I'm hoping it's the former. I've been high on him since early last year and the coverage on his INT was another tick in a positive direction.

Annual exposure to Vincent Smith zealots. Man, I'm all like… yeah. No offense to Vincent Smith's quality day against the Eagles, but it's still Toussaint. There is a common theme in the long Smith runs against Eastern: the ability for grandma shotgunning a beer to run about that far.

vincent-smith-emu

He's a great guy to have on your team and he's going to be a major part of the offense because he's a B+ in many aspects and an A+ at blitz pickups, but Toussaint is faster, more agile, and has at least equal vision.

Meanwhile, Rawls looked exactly like Kevin Grady on two short runs. First impressions there are meh. This is surprising to people named Fred Jackson but not many others.

Redshirt status. A game against Eastern that manages to get a couple of garbage time drives in gives us some hints as to who's getting a redshirt and who isn't:

  • BURNED: Wile, Taylor, Countess, Morgan, Beyer, Clark, Rawls
  • STILL REDSHIRTED: Carter, Hollowell, Brown, Heitzman, Miller, Rock, Poole, Bryant, Bellomy, Hayes

Pick a random day three weeks into any football season and you'll probably find me railing against inexplicably burned redshirts, but I don't have an issues with the guys above getting in the game. All the guys on defense save Countess could develop into starters as early as this year, and Rawls is another option at a tailback spot that needs them.

Recruiting numbers. It's three weeks into the season and we haven't seen Mike Cox even get his ceremonial long run against crappy competition. Terrance Robinson made a brief cameo at the end of the EMU game. Neither should be expecting fifth years at this point; if they don't receive them Michigan will be at the 26 number they've been projecting for a while. That's if they don't lose anyone between now and Signing Day, which is possible but unlikely. With four stars knocking down the door I can see this class getting to 28.

The main issue getting there won't be the scholarship limit but the cap on enrolled signees. That's 25, but you can dodge it by enrolling kids early. Michigan has just one EE committed right now. That's not something they can change since early enrollees acquire the status by taking a lot of summer school. I haven't heard that anyone Michigan is pursuing is planning on an early enrollment, so they might end up with a couple empty slots on Signing Day.

The early enrollee exception is OSU commit-type substance Bri'onte Dunn. The rumblings on him have oscillated between 100% OSU and 100% undecided, and of late it's pushed more towards the latter. He took a visit to Penn State last weekend and declared himself "confused," and after that Miami game it looks like he'll have a very brief window to get acquainted with whoever OSU's new coach is before he's on campus somewhere. Dunn is a touted player at a major position of need who Michigan would yank away from OSU; he would also allow them to take a 27th player. He's kind of important.

Here

StephenRKass asks if defense and special teams are "becoming a positive." D is wait until later. Special teams do seem better but they aren't championship level yet. Kickoffs both ways are terrible, punt coverage has been weak, and I'd like to see the kickers hit an actual field goal instead of a glorified extra point before I stop panicking about them. Once Hagerup gets back the punting and Jeremy Gallon's sudden ability to field and return punts probably make it average.

ST3 goes inside the box score, and Lordfoul provides his weekly Einstein quote recap.

Elsewhere

Media: I should have been linking these all along, but Mike DeSimone's database is always key. Mikoyan shot from the sidelines. He's got pregame, in-game and postgame posts plus a bonus shot of an MGoBlue barn.

Hype video:

Fergodsakes.

There is also a torrent of saner size up.

Newspaper stuff: SDSU's Rocky Long says Hoke has "huge advantage" since he was just SDSU's coach. AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke points out the squib guh:

The Wolverines' special teams, at times, looked ugly in the 31-3 rout. Michigan's squib kick with 39 seconds left in the first half is a perfect example. The stratagem can work sometimes, but this was not one of them.

The call was especially egregious against a team such as the Eagles, who passed just six times the whole game. Could they have traversed a long field in such a short time?

Likely not.

But the squib gave the Eagles the ball at their own 47-yard line, and they needed just four plays — all runs — to get into position for a 50-yard field goal. That's just too easy.

Squibs are way over-used. Unless there are fewer than 20 seconds left in a half they're a bad idea, but coaches tend to prioritize risk aversion over expected value.

Meinke also suggests Vincent Smith is not the right guy for kick returns due to his lack of speed. I agree with that, too. If Shaw is third-string-ish on the tailback depth chart wouldn't this be a spot for him?

Rothstein says Smith makes a case to start. Minnesota is a noon BTN game, which is cool by me: I actually get to watch some college football this year.

Blog stuff: BWS has his frown on:

After a 7/18, 95 yard (5.3 YPA) day against a MAC bottom dweller, it's difficult to see Denard Robinson as a sustainable option at quarterback in Borges' offense. It may sound reactionary, but after another game riddled with poor decisions (chucking the ball into double coverage) and spotty accuracy, and against competition that shouldn't be able to compete with Michigan's athletes, it's clear that Denard's struggles in the passing game last year, his uninspiring spring game, and his poor passing performances against Notre Dame and Western Michigan are no flukes. He locks onto receivers, struggles with his accuracy, and frequently makes near backbreaking decisions.

This is true so far and made up for by Denard's other talents. We are almost an old-school option offense that needs to stay in front of the chains. He's real mad about burning Rawls's redshirt, though. I'm all like whatever: Rawls may be needed this year since Hopkins is full of doghouse and the starters are fragile. And I'm betting that by the time Rawls would have been a fifth year senior there's someone better on the roster anyway.

Holding the Rope:

Is it just me or does our offense look like the one that that one friend--the friend that everybody has--always runs against you in Madden/NCAA...you know the friend. He's usually the guy who says things like "watch these 4 verts bro" before throwing a bomb on first, second, and third down (he also goes for it on fourth down regardless of field position). Another hallmark of this friend's offensive strategy is a running game that involves picking a team with a fast quarterback and running outside every time that he doesn't throw deep (which is every pass).

TTB provides awards, is amongst the legions saying "26 carries for Denard against EMU?" Maize Pages updates just as I post.

UPDATE: So I wondered which 80s-era estrogen rock band was responsible for the title reference and googled it. The result: REO Speedwagon. REO Speedwagon's mindblowing video for the thing, which has almost as many ridiculous haircuts as profiles of me do and obviates the need to actually do LSD:

Good Lord. I'm just going to float off into the sky now.

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Opponent Watch: Week 2

Submitted by Heiko on September 15th, 2011 at 4:37 PM

(Last week there was some confusion about opponent fear levels. Let me explain my scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = This team will have a winning record; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH. Also, I’ve made some minor tweaks, but again, I welcome your suggestions for how I can make this more informative. Disclaimer still applies -- these analyses carry little weight until we’re through with the cupcakes or N=3.)

[ED: Yo. Heiko accidentally overwrote last week's opponent watch, so the first 45 comments are from that post last week. Do not be confused. Or do, I guess, but that's on you.]

About last Saturday:

Notre Dame

Last game: Notre Dame 31, UM 35

Question: Where were you when Roy Roundtree caught Denard Robinson’s pass to allow Michigan to beat Notre Dame with two seconds left on the clock?

Right there.

I was cheering so hard I forgot to take pictures, and when I finally did, this is all I got:

 

And it was awesome.

The Road Ahead:

Eastern Michigan (2-0 (! ? .))

Last game: Alabama State 7, EMU 14 (W)

Recap: Let’s start out nice and easy with a backhanded compliment. Brady Hoke:

How do you make sure EMU is not a letdown game? “I can tell you one thing -- Eastern’s 2-0. They haven’t been 2-0 since 1989.”

So … Eastern Michigan managed to schedule a pair of FCS teams to begin their season and not lose to them. Bravo. You know what happened during week one, right? They crushed a bad, bad Howard team 41-9. Last Saturday they played against Alabama State, which according to MGoUser mikoyan, is not that bad. There is some merit in that assessment:

“I'm not sure Alabama State is a worse team than Eastern, they blew out their opening week opponent 41-9.  If I recall, they are a fairly good 1AA team.”

I fact-checked to confirm that, indeed, a team coming off a 41-9 week one victory had squared off against another team coming off a 41-9 week one victory. #Destiny. #LoveIt.

#SoTellUsWhatHappened!

You should stop holding your breath is what happened. It was unwatchable/I didn’t watch any of it.

The teams matched each other closely for first downs -- the Hornets accrued 18 and Eastern Michigan had 20 -- but each averaged only about 1.5 first downs per drive. (I know, I know, that sounds like … Michigan against Notre Dame!) The Eagles won by relying heavily on their ground game, which was good for 336 yards, because their passing was atrocious (which is the negative descriptor of the week). Eastern QB Alex Gillett put up a 2011-Notre-Dame-Denard-like completion percentage (7 for 19, 1 TD, 1 INT) without the 2011-Notre-Dame-Denard-like yards (61). Gillett actually gained more yards running (74) than passing, which officially makes him the Little Sister of the Poor Man’s 2011-Notre-Dame Denard. Wow, that’s two rivalry references in one.

Their defense did manage to convince Alabama State to run backwards for -13 yards on 30 attempts. Woo.

Right now they are as frightening as: The common cold. At worst it’s an inconvenience, and a week later, nobody ever remembers you were sick. 1. A canker sore. You worry about it only if you think it might be Herpes. It’s not. 1.

Michigan should worry about: It’s possible (but not probable) that Mike Hart may have some kind of fifth-year/grad/transfer eligibility left. Hart’s comments about not cheering for Michigan. Aww. =(

Michigan should sleep soundly about: The highway that separates Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Those three-game Putterz vouchers never expire.

If Michigan had played them last Saturday: Dave Brandon would have argued that the game was in hand before the game even started. At least GameDay would have been covering two teams with winning records.

Next game: That Team A Couple Miles West On Washtenaw.

San Diego State (2-0)

Last game: San Diego State 23, Army 20 (W)

Recap: San Diego State has now beaten all three service academies within the last year, which is more than Notre Dame can say for itself.

This game was close. Though Aztec RB Ronnie Hillman had another 100+ rushing performance, Army outrushed San Diego State 403-146. How did Army not win? Their passing was crappy (not that the Black Knights’ triple-option offense ever passes), and they turned the ball over three times, plus a forced fumble that was almost a fourth turnover on the last drive (they turned it over on downs on the next play regardless). The Aztecs had zero turnovers:

"Yards don't win games," Army coach Rich Ellerson said. "Turnovers is what correlates to the final score."

I know, says Brian Kelly. I know. =’(

San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley was 8 for 18 with 146 yards and a TD. He wasn’t as good as last week, but he got the job done. More importantly though, Lindley seems to be courting a favorite wide receiver from the depths of the depth chart. His name is Colin Lockett, he’s a sophomore, and he didn’t even make it onto Tim’s 2011 Opponent Preview, but he did catch five passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, so Michigan should keep an eye on him.

The obligatory defensive report: they gave up three more rushing touchdowns. Man, defense is so boring to write about.

Right now they are as frightening as: The ex-fiancé of a girl that you dated before they were together to whom you are now married. Yeah, you were there first -- and he totally understands -- but you accidentally mailed him an invitation to your baby shower. Oops. 4. The ex-fiancé says he’s doing well, doesn’t miss your wife at all, and even got re-engaged … to your wife’s former defensive coordinator. Fear level remains at 4.

Michigan should worry about: Lingering toughness and accountability from San Diego State’s Hoke era. In all seriousness, shoring up that run defense against Hillman.

Michigan should sleep soundly about: The best scouting report EVER. They don’t have much of a run defense, either.

If Michigan had played them last Saturday: Ryan Lindley, meet Jordan Kovacs. Kovacs, Lindley. I would love to see a noon game with the lights on.

Next game: Washington State

(more after the jump)