Unconfirmed Dennis Norfleet Snapchat thing

Unconfirmed Dennis Norfleet Snapchat thing

Submitted by Gucci Mane on July 23rd, 2015 at 10:30 PM

Dennis Norfleet announced today on snapchat that he tried to get back into Michigan but it was not to be. He said he appreciated his fans, and the people at Michigan. He will be headed down to Alabama to play D2 ball at Tuskegee.

Dennis was on of my favorite players, he will be missed.

[Ed-S: Nothing yet from Norfleet in any other social media, nor from any sources who've had good info up until now. Please post screengrab or something to back this up. Understand: people saying "I read on MGoBlog that..." can make us look really bad, even if it's message board.]

edit: I know Dennis, and I'm friends with him on snapchat, so I saw this first hand. I would put all my mgopoints towards this being the truth ( mgopoints are better than gold).

Norfleet Could Be Reinstated In August

Norfleet Could Be Reinstated In August

Submitted by lilpenny1316 on June 5th, 2015 at 5:29 PM

http://espn.go.com/blog/bigten/post/_/id/119771/dennis-norfleet-could-be-practicing-with-michigan-by-august

Wanted to keep the good vibes from the past two days going.  There's a quote in the article from his H.S. coach about Dennis taking care of business this summer.  The article seems to indicate that this is grade related.  

The most interesting (exciting) part is a quote from Harbaugh in April stating excitement about using him in all three phases of the game.  I thought there was a concern that playing time would be an issue for him.  I hope this quote means P.T. is there for him as long as he makes the grade.

Dennis Norfleet Apologize on Instagram

Dennis Norfleet Apologize on Instagram

Submitted by gmgoblue1205 on May 14th, 2015 at 11:35 PM

Well Dennis Norfleet took to Instagram on Wednesday Morning to apologize for what has happend.

 

I've been crying so much I have no more tears to give I just want to give an apology to all the Michigan fans and the Michigan alumni last but not least my team. We been through it all we all have the same goals that we want to reach but I've been talking to God everything is going to be alright for those who don't know what's going on... Trust me I will be okay things happen for reason #MajQr

From the Student Section Enjoys Lower Blood Pressure

From the Student Section Enjoys Lower Blood Pressure

Submitted by SaddestTailgateEver on October 13th, 2014 at 2:37 PM

For those of you who regularly come here looking for an unhinged diatribe against the powers that be, let me first apologize and recommend a different column. Thankfully, there isn’t really any of that here this week (ok maybe a sentence or two). I’ll preface by saying that I was away at an engineering convention last weekend and missed the second half of the Rutgers game, so perhaps my program ire/ennui wasn’t quite to the levels that many others here had attained. Either way, I found Saturday to be a welcome relief, not only that we won, but also from a general fan experience perspective. And this is compared to last year in particular, where the night game atmosphere mixed with general admission to produce one of the worst fan experiences I’ve had in the Big House (admittedly only until the opening kickoff).

Pregame: From the Football Student Advisory Council

The football student advisory council (or football SAC as some of their members call it) is a new initiative this year to get more student fan input on the program, the games, the department, etc. I have a few friends who are serving on it and so occasionally have the luxury of getting a feel for things yet to come (and occasionally can put that into print). After this week’s meeting, one of them commented that

“Anything and everything is on the table to fix this.”

“Where this means everything,” I replied.

“Yes.”

That includes lower student ticket prices, allowing bringing water into the stadium, etc. So despite the chaos of the last few weeks, it seems that the athletic department is listening. Whether, and how much, they’ll act on it obviously remains to be seen, but it seems reasonable to be at least guardedly optimistic. Hunter Lochmann, the AD’s Chief Marketing Officer observed that he has never seen Brandon like this—that he’s hurt, and that he wants to fix things. Will he be able to? I don’t know. But if *if* he does change course, if he does

  • back away from the relentless commercialization of the football experience,
  •  lower ticket prices, 
  • fix the “little things” like allowing people to bring water bottles in,
  • work to change the culture from a client-provider model to a more family/community model,
  • back off from allegedly micromanaging aspects of the football program,
  • stop screwing around with seating policies, gimmicks, and promotions,
  • apologize for the way concussion-gate was handled and commit to being more forthcoming, and less legalese-y in the future, and in short
  • work to bring back the fan experience that made the Big House what it was for decades;

then I won’t be crushed if he stays. Do I think he’ll be able to, or even willing? Not yet. But I’m not out for blood, I’m not a mean, vindictive blogger. I’m just a flawed, frustrated human being—as, I imagine, is Dave Brandon. And I’m not above forgiving someone who screwed up majorly, as long as they acknowledge the shortcoming and work to correct it moving forward. I can’t, and won’t, take my name off the petition; but for me this is about the issues, not the person. And if the issues get fixed, then the person can stay.

Pregame: MGoTailgate

I was explaining the above thought process to a friend as we walked to the MGoTailgate, which was a great tailgate experience and well worth the encouraged donation. He asked if I thought that allowing the purchase of beer in the stadium (as had been done for the Winter Classic and soccer match) would go over well with the students. My honest answer was (and remains) “no”. In the absence of fixing the real issues, I think that students would (possibly rightly) view it as pandering, and many would balk at the implication that students will be happy as long as they have enough to drink, actually issues be damned. This line of thinking was reasonably confirmed when I got to the stadium, which brings us to

The Stadium: Night Game Edition

Walking in the first thing I observed was that the event staff seemed to have a different air about them. Rather than getting hassled about the cowbell (which, mea culpa mea culpa, is likely still in the stadium) they seemed to be encouraging it. Further, they seemed genuinely interested in the signed photo I had with me because I had no place to put it prior to the game starting, and at least one was aware of the tailgate and expressed his desire to have been there.

The next thing was easily the most shocking. They were giving out free water bottles to students entering the stadium. Yes. Free. So maybe I can start crossing items off that list above already. Here’s hoping. Many students, however, were less enthused than I. Once in the student section, the pre-game featured (by my count) one “Fire Brandon” cheer and many students criticizing Brandon’s attempts to “buy them off” with “two dollar water” after paying as much as they did for season tickets. So yes, I think that many small steps may be viewed as pandering at least initially. That doesn’t mean that the department should give up on these small steps. There’s just a lot of damage to heal, which will take some time and a continued effort.

I’m reminded of the department’s response to the chaos of the night game last year: they handed out seat tickets when you checked into the stadium so that there wouldn’t be a mad rush to the seats. The problem: they did this for the Akron game, saw it wasn’t necessary (for the Akron game) and abandoned it going forward (where it may have been beneficial). I’m worried that we may repeat that with things like the water, which in isolation was very much appreciated. By itself or one-time-only, however, it won’t do much to fix all the damage that has been done.

Apart from that, the only thing worth mentioning was the occasional drunk student trying to get a “Fire Brandon” cheer started when we had the opportunity to force a safety (no, not that safety), who claimed that his 5 years here (everyone together now “get off my lawn”) made him the expert on the damage Brandon has done. But yeah, Zazu is right—there is one in every family, including the Michigan family. And there’s not a whole lot to be done except perhaps…

[Author’s Note: No, I’m not actually encouraging that. MGoBlog isn’t encouraging that. Nobody is encouraging that.]

Overall, from a fan experience standpoint, this was one of the more enjoyable games I’ve had here (though I have to admit, Norfleet was a huge part of that). Are the underlying problems gone? No. But it’s still a welcome relief to know that I can still go and support the players without enduring something that makes me wonder if it’s worth it. And at this point, that’s really all I ask.

[EDIT:4pm 13 Oct.] In my haste to get this out I overlooked one great occurence. 

Before kickoff we were doing our usual "get the attention of any borderline famous person that happened to walk by" routine. One of these people was Regent Bernstein, who not only acknowledged our yelling at him but stopped to talk to us and was incredibly personable. After a bit of chatting we jokingly said that he should come join us in the student section. He replied "There's plenty of room" so quickly that we didn't immediately get the insinuation that had been made, but yes I do believe that the Regents (or at least Regent Bernstein) get it.

Dave Brandon's Athletic Department Continues to Use Student-Athletes to Save His Job

Dave Brandon's Athletic Department Continues to Use Student-Athletes to Save His Job

Submitted by Jon06 on October 7th, 2014 at 9:36 PM

Facing a boycott of kickoff in protest of Dave Brandon's continued employment, Dave Brandon's Athletic Department puts out an official photo using a quote from Dennis Norfleet to try to stop the boycott. The caption on the Michigan Football Facebook page: "Fleet".

If you are like me in thinking that it is inappropriate for Dave Brandon to use student-athletes in orchestrated PR ploys intended to save his own job, you'll join me in thinking this is inappropriate, too. Boo, Dave. Boo.

Mrs. Jon06: "Is that official?"

Jon06: "Yes."

Mrs. Jon06: "...He should be fired."

ETA: Mr. Yost down below tries to convince me that this is not a new social media strategy. I asked him to provide an example from the Michigan Football Facebook page of any student athlete quote used in a 2014 ad. I mentioned that coaches' quotes had been used. His responses: basketball players from Twitter (not what I asked for), coaches (not what I asked for), and then a Funchess quote that never appeared on the Facebook page (not what I asked for), which (last time I checked) he is pretending was posted there. If anybody knows where he got that Funchess Chobani image, that'd be great to know. [Image was from Twitter. Again irrelevant. Again obfuscation from Mr. Yost who wants you to forget what we were discussing.] In any case I am just writing this here to register that Brandon supporters appear to be engaged in an active misinformation campaign here. Be careful out there, folks.

ETA2: To be fair, I should add here that Mr. Yost seems to think I'm lying by having moved the goalposts on him. I disagree insofar as social media strategies are a lot more specific than he seems to think, but you can see what you think if you read through the stuff below. The Funchess image he keeps reposting is from Twitter, per the above, unlike the FB-sourced image embedded in this here OP. FWIW, I am now inclined to think MGrowOld is right in the "Why the Surge" thread when it comes to at least part of the increased pressure to attend, but I still strongly dislike the AD using SA quotes in official materials in any way that even has the appearance of being an attempt to move the needle on a boycott aimed at DB.

Norfleet is now the all-time leader in kickoff returns

Norfleet is now the all-time leader in kickoff returns

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on October 5th, 2014 at 5:18 PM

With 3 returns yesterday, Dennis Norfleet passes Steve Breaston and is now the career record holder for kickoffs returned at 84.

Here is the top-10 list.

Place

Player

Stat

Career

1.

Dennis Norfleet

84

   2012-

2.

Steve Breaston

81

2002-2006

3.

Anthony Carter

63

1979-1982

4.

Darryl Stonum

62

2008-2011

5.

Martavious Odoms

54

2008-2011

6.

Mercury Hayes

53

1992-1995

7.

Jamie Morris

52

1984-1987

8.

Desmond Howard

45

1988-1991

9.

Ron Johnson

40

1966-1968

10.

Jeremy LeSueur

35

1999-2003

 
With just 16 more yards, Norfleet will become the career record holder for kickoff return yards. He hasn't even played 3 full seasons yet. 
 
He is currently at 1,977 yards while Steve Breaston holds the top spot at 1,993.
 
 
Norfleet is also the career leader in screaming at the football while downing a punt, as of last night.
 
 
 

Best and Worst: Akron

Best and Worst: Akron

Submitted by bronxblue on September 15th, 2013 at 11:36 AM

I know you feel, John…

 

Worst:  Totally Meta

To let you in a bit on how the sausage is made with one of these posts, I usually sit down with my laptop during the game and play around in the liveblog while taking some really cursory notes.  While I’m sure I could figure out how to watch lineplay and defensive adjustments intricately in order to make really astute observations about particular players, there are lots of people here at MGoBlog who do a great job with that level of detail and, frankly, I doubt I’d be able to add much.  No, the Best and Worst is all about a layman’s observations of a game, with (I hope) a bit of humor, some fun long-form ideas, and insufferable references to wrestlers and 90’s television shows. 

Well, usually my notes take on a bit of a narrative as a game progresses; I inevitably start ordering comments into Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Coaching, etc. buckets, so by the end I’ve got my talking points, as they are, laid out.  Given the opponent, I figured they’d be succinct and pretty general; it’s hard to derive too much from a blowout. 

Well, by the last 4 minutes of the game, my notes spanned 2 pages typed and, if my keyboard was both sentient and possessed the necessary funds to file documents with a court, would be Exhibit A of a battery suit brought against me.  People joke about how typing “OMFG” or “ROFL” negates the emotion you are attempting to convey, like telling someone how funny something is instead of actually laughing.  But part of the reason you use these shorthands, though, is because “nfsakjf528095353u55b25jewrnijrggrehjigh3u04u-421” followed by your dog fleeing the room is hard to convey in words.  So yeah, based on my notes…

 

 

 

Worst:  Goliath has Fans Too

I’m usually not one to complain too much about announcers except if they go full Spielman and openly root for one team over the other, but the announcers were extremely excited about the possibility of Akron beating UM.  And that got me thinking; seemingly everyone loves the David vs. Goliath matchups that end with David victorious.  At first blush, it totally makes sense; David represents the everyman, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds with character, ingenuity, and guile.  To root for David is to root for the human spirit and the impossible dream.  Rooting for Goliath is like rooting for the house in blackjack.

But here’s the thing; being “Goliath” is not free of context, nor is it purely a “you vs. them” dynamic wherein everyone agrees how the story should end.  In other words, Goliath has fans too, and in most cases they don’t view themselves as the bully, the victor, the unstoppable force OR the immovable object.  Goliath is just a guy who is blessed with some physical advantages that he honed with rigorous training and passionate loyalty to a cause.  In the eyes of Goliath, he’s entering into fair combat against another warrior who just happens to be smaller than him and who wields a slingshot.  He’s not Razor Ramon or Vince McMahon, “heels” personified who want nothing more than to ruin the face’s day.  No, He’s not the “bad guy”, unless “being tall and strong” and winning most of the time are dastardly traits.  He is the Big Bad because the only lens used to view him is as the seemingly unattainable or antithesis model, the personification of David’s shortcomings.

So saying you love David vs. Goliath games is really saying you like to see the big guy lose not necessarily because you have a rooting interest in David or against Goliath, but because you don’t want to be reminded that not everyone has David’s problems.  On some level, you hold Goliath’s strengths and accomplishments against him, believing something must be cosmically wrong to explain his winning ways, and that a loss will somehow right this off-kilter universe. 

But that really isn’t fair to either party; Akron is just a bad FBS program trying to find its footing and UM is the winningest program in college football history.  UM has all of those wins because, for most of its existence, it has fielded talented, well-coached teams that beat other ones on the football field.  Akron, not so much, but that isn’t because of something UM did.  And, humorously, the tables are turned in the other “football”: Akron has been one of the best college soccer teams for years now while UM is the “upstart” that scored a major 1-0 upset over the Zips a couple of years ago during an otherwise poor season.

I’d say millions of people partook in today’s game in some way (live, TV, radio, internet, etc.), and a significant number of them are probably fans of UM football.  They wanted to see UM win for any number of reasons, and few if any thought Akron winning would be a “good thing”.  Russians certainly didn’t think losing to the US at the Olympics was a good idea, nor are Phi Slamma Jamma fans clamoring for Lorenzo Charles (RIP) memorial jerseys, and I’m guessing Lloyd Carr isn’t sending Armanti Edwards holiday cards.  Had Akron pulled off the win, it would have been heralded as a huge upset both for the year as well as historically, and people who “like” upsets would have another moment to cheer about.  But for the fans of Goliath, David is just the guy who got lucky, and no amount of culturally-endorsed schadenfreude will change that.

Today’s game ended with Goliath winning, though it was obviously closer than expected.  The narrative is that Akron gave UM all they could handle, and that in a game of inches UM got lucky that Akron came up a bit short.  But it was a game that both teams had a chance to win, and this time Goliath benefitted from a missed opportunity; history hasn’t always been so kind.  I’m certainly not going to complain.

 

 

 

Worst:  It’s a Win? (as said in the voice of Ron Burgundy)

Yeah, I’m not going to be one of those people who says it would have been a better “learning experience” if they had lost; I’m a results-based grader so a win is always better than a loss.  That said, this is up there with narrowly beating Indiana and Illinois under RR and a turrible 10-7 win against 5-6 Utah in 2002 (a game I attended and apparently blocked from my memory until now).  And unlike those games where you could at least point to one element of the performance being a positive, it isn’t really hypoerbole or “ESPN talking head”-ole to say UM was beat in all three phases of the game.

Best:  It’s a Win

But it’s a victory for UM, and 3-0 is 3-0.  Just ask MSU, whose offense finally eclipsed the defense is scoring 3 games into the season.  Teams have bad games, and for all of the hell the players are likely to have rain down on them by the coaching staff this week, it would be immensely worse if Saturday’s game had ended with an “L” on the schedule.  This game probably ratchets down the expectations a notch if you saw UM as a top-5 outfit, but otherwise it was a close shave for a team with top-15 talent.  Given the number of massive upsets this year, it could have been far worse.

I know the Internet is the ultimate echo chamber for cynicism, and this blog’s particular composition only accentuates that property, but just like was a need to pump the brakes a bit after the ND game, this game doesn’t not necessarily mean you need to stock your panic room quite yet.

Best:  I don’t want…your life!

One of the more underrated moments in Varsity Blues is the “hungover” game played by the West Canaan Coyotes after Mox, Tweeder, Billy Bob, Wendell, and Lance spent a night at the Landing Strip Gentleman’s Club*.  Hungover and clearly off their game, they lose in embarrassing fashion and Bud Kilmer turns to threatening Mox about his scholarship to Brown if he doesn’t shape up and fall in line.

In no way am I insinuating that UM’s play against Akron was caused by every starter heading off to Deja Vu in Ypsi Thursday night, but it clearly looked like a team that was out of sorts from the outset.  UM did force a 3-and-out on Akron’s first drive and followed it up with the long TD by Funchess, but for most of that first half the offense looked lost and the defense held tough but couldn’t generate much of a pass rush.  And once the 2nd half began and Akron made some adjustments offensively, the defense struggled to keep them off the field.  Plus, Gibbons missed his first kick since Purdue and Matt Wile shanked a couple of punts, resulting in an average of 33 yards per kick despite “booming” one 54 yards.  As a couple of people noted (including Ace), if it was against any other team but Akron, UM probably would have been run off the field.  But still, just a disorienting performance. 

Of course, Notre Dame also had a pretty off performance against Purdue, so who knows where everyone was last night.

* I know this is saying a great deal in a movie where James Van Der Beek is a Texas QB, literally every play is either a bone-shattering tackle or a 50-yard TD (seriously, watch the clip and you’ll see 4-5 NFL Blitz-style flying tackles), and a HS team is allowed to basically coach itself once Jon Voight leaves at halftime – you’ll notice no assistant coaches take over or are even on the screen, but the most unbelievable part of that movie is a HS health teacher moonlighting as a stripper in a city of, oh, 10,000 people in Texas and NOBODY notices until some HS kids see her act.  I mean, that club looked packed on (I’m guessing) a weekday night, and early on the movie establishes that Miss Davis must be making decent money from her dancing in order to afford a Mustang convertible, so it is clearly a popular place.  Yet her double life remains a mystery both before and after this night.  Simply unbelievable.

Worst:  Tell me lies, Tell me sweet little lies

UM averaged 5.5 ypc* and 8.3 ypa** while holding the Zips to 3.6 ypc*** and 6.3 ypa**** which look good on paper, but as the astute reader might have picked up, those little *’s aren’t just looking for a party to crash; they are massive caveats.  First the rushing: Gardner averaged 10.3 ypc on his 103 yards, showcasing the game-breaking speed that can turn a collapsing pocket into a 36 yard TD.  Fitz recorded 71 more yards on 19 carries, but didn’t crack 4 ypc against the #80 rushing defense in the country.  And while I initially thought he was the recipient of some bad luck out there due to penalties on runs, the only one apparently was a holding penalty by Gallon on a 3-yarder.  Of his 19 carries, 7 were for losses and 8 were for minimal gain (though one was the TD).  He recorded 65 yards on 4 other carries, and added a nice 27 yard reception to goose the numbers up a bit.  On most runs he was engulfed in the backfield or had trouble locating holes either because they weren’t there or a momentary hesitation closed them too quickly.   I’ll get into my feelings about the line play later, but this was not a banner day for a guy who has played reasonably well this year given the obvious issues in front of him.

As for that 8.3 ypa, that is .7 ypa below Akron’s 114th-ranked pass defense, and came with a 53% completion perctange and 3 INTs, including a horrible screen-ish pass that was returned for a TD.  Nobody other than Gallon caught more than 2 passes, and while Funchess had a nice day on paper with a TD and 65 yards on his two catches, one was a 48-yard TD run that was aided by some poor angles and tackling by Akron, a theme they continued on Chesson’s only catch (and first of his career) on the day, a 33-yard TD where he was pinballed toward the endzone by an Akron defender.  Criminally underused Drew Dileo was held without a catch, so hopefully this week Brian will be able to release that particular Kraken.

The defense did marginally better, holding Akron to about their season average rushing and about a yard less passing, but those numbers were put up against UCF and the zombified remains of the 4th President of the United States, er, eponymously-named FCS James Madison University.  And Akron had 4 drives longer than 45 yards, including two 11-play drives that ended with a TD and the final drive, as well as a 5-play drive that ended with Wilson’s INT in the endzone.  UM could not get Akron off the field in the 4th, including giving up a number of long completions and “they only need 5 yards for the first down, let’s give the slot receiver a 10-yard cushion” plays. 

So yeah, statistics should be trusted only as far as they can be thrown, which against UM’s defense today is apparently both quite far and with minimal coverage. 

Okay, okay, that’s a little mean.  But it was pretty bad out there.

Worst:  Push it!

So you know how earlier I mentioned that statistics sometimes lie?  Well, a big reason why UM’s running game struggled was the continued inability of the offensive line to consistently block for anyone.  Against Akron, Fitz had 15 carries that resulted in either lost yardage or minimal gains, and a significant number of them were because one or more Akron defenders were in the backfield rather quickly.  It remains a team that is strong on the edges (though both Lewan and Schofield missed a couple of blocks) and “maturing” or “weak” (depending on your viewpoint) in the middle.  Akron didn’t seem like it was doing anything special defensively, yet they always seemed to have the number’s advantage at the point of attack.  And while they only recorded a single sack, Gardner was harassed most of the day by the line without excessive use of blitzes or disguised coverages.  I’m not expecting major changes on the line next week, but this is a team that can’t consistently get 4-5 yards a pop on the ground without the QB getting involved, and that is not a sustainable situation during the conference season unless Devin remains healthy throughout, which would be a minor miracle.

As for the defensive line, to say the “Right to Rush 4” mantra needs to be redefined would be an understatement.  A unit with a decent amount of hype heading into the season failed to register a sack on 49 attempts, though the defense was credited with 8 QB hits.  Still, it took an all-out blitz to get pressure on the QB to end the game (reminiscent of the Points-a-Palooza some years back), and when your undersized tackle (Black) is your most consistent pass rusher against a MAC team, that isn’t good news.  I guess the jury is still out on Frank Clark, but at this point the judge expects to hear a verdict by the end of lunch.  It certainly didn’t help that Mattison seemed reticent about using more than 4 linemen to get pressure, and as a couple of people noted in the Liveblog the stunting was glaringly obvious, but again you shouldn’t have to overly gameplan for a team coming off a 1-11 season. 

Best:  Times are Changing

Now, I know I just spent a couple of sections dumping on Akron and minimizing their influence on today, but they deserve quite a bit of credit for playing UM to a standstill.  Maybe 25-30 years teams like Akron are just happy to be playing in the Big House and are overwhelmed by the moment, but in today’s college football ecosystem everybody believes his team can beat anyone else.  For even with Akron’s fallow history, it is still an FBS team with D1 players on it, and given the exposure and resources available to virtually all such programs nobody should be surprised they didn’t just wilt as soon as The Victors played.  Terry Bowden may have looked like he ate his daddy Bobby before the game, but he’s still got a career record of 142-75-2 (including 47-17-1 while at Auburn), and certainly knows how to beat teams like UM.  They played solid, largely mistake-free football and took advantage of UM’s miscues.  They played like a major college football team, and this game should be yet another reminder that “MACrifices” isn’t a reality in today’s football landscape.

Best:  Tackling, and the Lack Thereof (part deux)

Last week I mentioned how refreshing it was seeing the other team (in that case, ND) miss some crucial tackles while UM largely wrapped up quickly.  Well, count both Funchess’s and Chesson’s TDs as beneficiaries of some dodgy tackling by the Zips.  By comparison, UM typically tackled guys at contact, though Jourdan Lewis had a pretty bad “tackle” of Pohl as he rushed for a first down late in the game.  There were also the coverage issues with the corners and linebackers, especially in the middle of the field where D’Orazio was seemingly open all day.  This definitely felt like a gameplan limitation, at least initially, but it was troubling that late in the game receivers were able to get open in the secondary with players trailing them by 2-3 yards. 

Worst:  Hitting Reset

Last week I waxed poetically about Gardner being a modern-day unstoppable video game QB, UM’s answer to Michael Vick circa Madden 2004.  He was like UTG Trevor Siemian crossed with a mongoose, and it was glorious.  Like Vick in the game, it just felt unfair to have him on your team, and to talk about him in front of your vanquished opponent is to welcome scorn and possibly some shoving.

Well, against Akron people saw the other side of the videogame analogy: when the computer “cheats” and everything that could possibly go wrong does.  Suddenly, your all-world QB can’t complete a pass except to the other team, your RB can’t get a yard beyond the line of scrimmage, you are getting called for penalties on any positive play, and even digital Texas’s GERG thinks you are playing too soft defensively.  By the time a defensive end houses an interception off a screen pass, you’re diving for the reset button while cursing Alan Turing and his stupid face. 

Of course, in real life that’s just the third quarter of the game, and you still have to watch and hope that somehow, someway your team figures it all out enough to pull out a victory.  Against Akron, Gardner and the offense did just enough in the end for the win, and on a seemingly snakebitten game they can lick their wounds and give it another shot.

Best:  Even YMRMFSPA had Bad Games

So the Vince Young analogies have been trotted out for Devin since his game against Northwestern, and with his improvisational skills, strong arm, and galloping strides it is hard not to see a bit of the college star in him.  Unfortunately, Gardner also showed the same characteristics that drove Texas fans crazy early on in Young’s career, with 4 turnovers, including a TaINT, and some happy feet that resulted in missed receptions and poor throws.  If you check out Young’s gamelog from his first full season, you’ll see the same tantalizing mix of promise and growing pains: 5 TDs against no turnovers against Texas Tech following 8/23 for 86 yards against Oklahoma and 3/9 with 2INTs against Missouri.  After those games, people we calling for Chance Mock to play at QB, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell it’s because he didn’t do anything to make people forget about Young.  People in A2 forget this because of the game Young had against the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, but Young finished with a 12:11 ratio on the season and had some tough performances even in wins.  The next year he emerged as a breakthrough player and led Texas to the title. 

I’m not saying Gardner is going to do that, but this game was a reminder of how fickle and infuriating the maturation process can be at times, and that the same player can have a stinker like today AND a performance against ND without there being anything wrong with him.  I suspect he’ll play better next week, but regardless of his performance it won’t change this past game or how the future plays out.  Every game is another data point, and sometimes you don’t realize there are outliers until time and distance it provides have given you some perception.  Gardner wasn’t a Heisman winner after last week and he’s not a bum after this one, but instead a work in progress like the rest of the team.

Worst:  Feelingball

I’m wheeling out my extra-tall soapbox now, so if you don’t want to hear my complain about fandom in general and UM followers in particular, feel free to skip to the next section.

What has always driven me crazy about the fandom in sports is the moralizing and dime-store psychoanalysis people place on players’ motivations.  A team plays well and people lionize the “heart” shown by the winners while questioning that of the loser.  Every down and distance becomes a Greek tragedy played out with a pigskin, and we want to equate higher meaning with 3rd-down conversions and missed blocks.  But that’s the thing – it’s just a game, and teams win and lose, players play well or poorly, for reasons that have nothing to do with their moral fiber or ability to “lead” men.

Both during and after the game, there was a contingent of fans who tried to make the game a referendum on these players.  They questioned the leadership displayed by Taylor Lewan apparently not getting the line “up” to block, as if Kalis, Miller, and Glasgow would have held their blocks if only they had cared more.  Gardner threw INTs not because he made a bad read or had a bit of bad luck, but because he wasn’t a leader out there and his receivers didn’t have confidence in him.  And in the postgame, when both Lewan and Gardner said they promised a better effort next week, people on the blog questioned their motives and suggested they had “heard this before” and UM still lost, proving that fans shouldn’t operate heavy machinery following a game because their blindness will undoubtedly cause accidents.

Sports were oftentimes used as stand-ins for battle both in real life as well as in narrative devices; we speak of “warriors of the gridiron” and its bond with iconography of good vs. evil and right vs. wrong is hard to ignore.  But in the end, sport is just a game, with winners and losers according to the rules of the contest.  To try to derive some greater meaning from it, to look deep into a man’s soul on a 3-yard run at the end of the game and hope to identify his humanity, is a foolish exercise.  I know people will continue to act this way long after I’m cold and in the ground, but I still hope that one day sports will be treated as the athletic contests they are, not the day of reckoning some yearn for them to embody.

Best:  Quick Hits

A couple of points that aren’t really worth their own sections:

  • I thought the secondary played okay, though the middle of the field was open seemingly for days at a time.  They also seemed to line up yards off receivers that didn’t seem able to really beat them in a race.  And to Akron’s credit, a couple of long receptions were the result of good throws; the one where I believe Taylor was beaten down the sideline in the 4th quarter by Smith was a great throw as much as any failure by the coverage.  That said, surprised Lewis got the nod over Stribling out there, especially given the size differences.
  • Al Borges called a decent enough game in my opinion, though he seemed afraid of running the veer too much early on even though Akron had no answer.  The inability of the line to run block certainly didn’t help; when UM needed yards late in the game they ran directly behind Lewan, which was obviously a positive but not great news for your inside running game.
  • I remain puzzled that Hoke did not go for it at 4-and-1 on UM’s 45 early on in the 4th quarter.  The numbers say putning is the right call, but one yard with Gardner in the gun seems quite doable.  I’m not a big fan of “momentum”, but getting a yard there gives UM a fresh set of downs and doesn’t put the ball on the foot of your admittedly-skittish punter who proceeded to shank the ball anyway.  Plus, I believe this was right after Akron nearly blocked the last punt.
  • Norfleet appears to have lost return privileges at least on punts, with Dileo back there in the second half.  That feels about right; I know Norfleet has shown great potential, but he continues to make the routine catches scary and still doesn’t seem to have a great sense of how to handle returns.  And with Dileo back there, it allowed the BTN announcers to talk about how he can run in space.  Because if there is one element of Dileo’s game we can ALL agree on, it is his blazing speed in space.

Best:  Release the Hounds

    The good news is that the UConn Huskies are an absolute tire-fire and UM should be rather motivated heading into the Cabella’s parking lot er Husky Stadium next week.  I hope for everyone’s sake it is a short game and next week’s recap is “Best:  Everything.”

Rivals: Norfleet expected to return to offense

Rivals: Norfleet expected to return to offense

Submitted by MH20 on February 20th, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Sounds like our favorite scatback is headed back to offense.  From a Rivals spring preview article found here ($), I give you the money quote:

 

"He's supposedly going back to offense," Blackwell [ed: Norfleet's 7-on-7 coach] said. "They will use him in the slot and in the return game, and some as a running back. Coach [Greg] Mattison is saying he can still use him on defense and is making an argument to keep him there, but Dennis' passion is for the offense. That's where he wants to play, and from talking to Dennis it appears that's where he's going to play.

 

The rest of the article basically describes why Norfleet went to defense in the first place (potential for PT in the bowl game) and that offense is his true passion (duh).  It also highlights his need to beef up his blocking and grasp of the playbook in order to see the field more.

Brian is going to cry tears of joy.