Hoke for Tomorrow Sees the Better Team Lose

Hoke for Tomorrow Sees the Better Team Lose

Submitted by Lordfoul on September 23rd, 2012 at 9:44 AM


“There is no "I" in team, but there is in win.”
-Michael Jordan
September 22, his 22nd birthday, his final game against the one rival he has owned the torn-out hearts of for 3 years... it must have felt like the stars had aligned.  He came out confident, running the ball with purpose to the sideline for 5 yards (never mind the gimmicky fake reverse).  Then a perfectly thrown pass down the sideline was interfered with (never mind that it wasn't him throwing it).  Run, (incomplete), run... first down. Time to throw it... Dang, punt.  
Oh look what the defense has given us!  Destiny awaits!
Then the rest of the game happened.  I'm sure you all saw it and I don't care to relive it. It went something like this...
Learn from yesterday...
I am not going to be long-winded with this, it is best to forget that game and move on. Bullets then...
  • Michigan was the better team yesterday and if you remove the ridiculous number of turnovers, they kill the Irish.
  • The offensive line looked great all game, giving Denard tons of time and opening up running lanes.  Michigan probably could have ridden the O-line to victory easily. They dominated the much-heralded ND front seven.
  • Borges went gimmicky far too early, IMO.  The Devin Gardner pass was a nice play, but also a harbinger of things to come.  The Vincent Smith HB-pass was far too cute.  Hopefully looking at the film from this game will lead to more confidence and more straight-forward game planning in BIG season.
  • The defense is getting much better up front and controlled the game yesterday. Tackles were spread evenly throughout the team, with the LBs and DTs accounting for a good percentage.  No sacks is disappointing though.
Live for Today…
Several notables:
  • Desmond Morgon and Kenny Demens - They were  everywhere hauling down Irish backs.  Nice to see the veterans (Kovacs too) leading the defense in tackles.
  • Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon - Several key receptions on third down for these two.
  • Elliot Mealer - Looked very good opening holes for the run game.  Props to Schofield as well for superior protection on passing downs.
  • Denard's Feet - Take out the 3 sacks and you get 23 carries for 111 yards, or nearly 5 yards per carry.  
  • Norfleet - Hard running on returns put Michigan in good field position.  Still awaiting the inevitable.
Hope for Tomorrow
The results of this game and a record of 2-2 are not indicative of the abilities of this team, and it would do every Michigan fan good to forget about what has happened and to concentrate instead on what can be accomplished in the BIG.  I rest easier after seeing the O and D-lines gel and play very well.  Denard will bounce back.
The rest of the BIG continues to look shaky, to say the least, and Michigan should be licking their chops against the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and I dare say Michigan St at this point.  Ohio has obvious problems as well, letting UAB run wild on them. Michigan should have distinct talent advantages against Northwestern and Purdue.  
I don't like the matchup on the road against Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers seem like a lesser team somehow than the one Michigan throttled last year in Ann Arbor.
The biggest hope I have going forward lies in the fact that Michigan has Hoke and Mattison, and that I think we are starting to see the defense play as a cohesive unit that should be able to slow down any offense left on the schedule.  
I would still bet on Michigan as the favorite to win the Legends Division and make the BIG championship game.  Who is better?
Sorry Denard. crying

Hoke for Tomorrow Still Believes

Hoke for Tomorrow Still Believes

Submitted by Lordfoul on September 2nd, 2012 at 10:43 AM




“It's lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”
-Muhammad Ali
I turned off the TV after Bellamy's first career pass attempt/interception and made my way quietly upstairs to bed.  The rest of the family (wife, 5yo son, 1yo daughter) had long since decided that a good night's sleep was a better option than watching Michigan get smeared across the turf in Texas.  I didn't feel any bitter emotions really, mostly concern for the collective knees of Taylor Lewan, Blake Countess, and Brandon Moore.  I guess the Rich Rod years knocked all of the conceited sense of entitlement out of me for real.
When I woke up this morning the results of last night's game weren't the first thing on my mind either - something that truly surprised me.  A loss like that used to leave me sick to my stomach for several days at least.  My first recollection of the game was of rewinding and replaying the seeming destruction of Lewan's right knee, and of my concern for both what it might mean for his career and for Michigan's season.  The degree to which Michigan had been curb-stomped really didn't register.  There is a lot of football yet to be played after all, and Michigan will not face another team of that caliber.
Learn from yesterday...
Losing the game was, I'm sure, totally expected by most Michigan fans.  Losing in that fashion was humbling though, and served to show us how far Michigan must improve to get back among the elite teams in the country.  The hard truth is that if these two teams met 100 times, Michigan no doubt loses 95 of them (maybe a bit better with a healthy Countess).  It isn't just that Alabama has superior talent though, the matchup of their strengths vs Michigan's weaknesses could hardly have been worse.  Overall, Michigan probably has a better showing against most any team in the Top 10.
Michigan never folded though.  The defense kept at it despite being completely out-manned along the front, and made some impressive plays even late in the game. Vincent (Devin) Smith kept running hard against steep odds, finally tip-toeing down the sideline for at least one impressive run for a first down.  And Denard... he was tougher than we could have ever hoped for.  He sacrificed his body after a bad pick* and played the next series with Herbie trying to convince us that something was seriously wrong with his shoulder.  He did obvious bad things to his lower back trying in vain to stretch for a first down, then came back on the field again.  Denard is going to really hurt this morning, but no one can question his toughness.
*Is it legal BTW for a defensive back to throw a receiver out of bounds like that?
Live for Today…
Even though the game was a brutal beat-down, there are some moments to celebrate:
  • Campbell - The big guy looked decent, even quick on his sack.  He will look even better against the rest of the schedule.
  • Gallon - The little guy had a big game, going for over 100 yards receiving and would have had more had Tacopants not been mirroring his routes.
  • Gardner - More than at any point before, I think we saw his athleticism in this game.  Cleaner routes would have opened him up for several more receptions; the tools are clearly there.  
  • Norfleet - This guy will be special on kick returns.  Seemed to almost always on the verge of breaking it with his speed.  
  • Denard - Again, the dude never quit.  He only completed 11 of 26 passes, but looked more fundamentally sound than last year IMO.  It made me sad to see him not smiling.
Hope for Tomorrow
Michigan was overmatched, period.  They went and played the best and were shown where they stand.  This game does not erase the faith I have in this staff and this team though.  Brady Hoke never lost his cool despite the embarrassing results of the game. He will have this team back up and playing well next week, guaranteed.  At least the Air Force squad should look tiny in comparison, and if Countess is being out it shouldn't be as big of a problem against the triple-option.
And even if the injuries prove serious, Michigan can still win the BIG Championship. Don't give up on these guys because they aren't going to give up on themselves.
Update:  The loss of Countess for the season is a big blow, but at least Michigan has capable backups.  Avery looked bad against Bama, but so did just about everybody else. We have seen Avery look capable in the past at least, and maybe he and T.Rich can push one another.  Luckily the BIG is not exactly deep at receiver this year.
Hoping for a full recovery for Blake and a very deep and experienced CB position in 2013.

Hoke for Tomorrow Feels the Sun Shine In

Hoke for Tomorrow Feels the Sun Shine In

Submitted by Lordfoul on November 20th, 2011 at 9:49 AM


“I can see clearly now the rain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way.  Gone are the dark clouds that had me down.  It's gonna be a bright bright  bright bright sun shiny day!” 
Johnny Nash


Learn from yesterday...


First off I would like to give a shout-out to Nebraska fans everywhere, and sincerely say Welcome to the Big Ten.  I had family members at the game yesterday, and between their accounts and what I have read in this space I would hope that Michigan Fans can hope to achieve the level of class that Nebraska fans epitomize.


This gravy is like a drug.


At some point in the third quarter I lost my mind and started calling every Michigan fan I know.  It was like pinching myself repeatedly to make sure what I was experiencing was, in fact, real, and not just a defensive construct created by my brain to cope with the last few years.  That game was epic and wonderful and tremendous even, but best of all it appeared to be part of a sustainable trend.  This team is going to continue to rise, and it will be rising on the backs of the best coaching staff we have had in decades.


If Mattison can take this group of misfit athletes and create a fearsome defense, one can only imagine what he will do with the kind of talent Michigan is recruiting now. Michigan is 6th overall in scoring defense.  They are showing sound fundamentals when tackling, wrapping up, forcing fumbles, all while shutting down one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country.  Somebody, quick, pinch me again.


Borges deserves some praise here too.  He still really, really wants this team to dominate from under center, this is clear.  During yesterday's game though, whenever I watched Michigan get stuffed on first down from I-Form or Ace sets and muttered "Moar shotgun plz", the next play would be something from shotgun and would get Michigan's drive back on track more often than not.  Borges probably could have gotten a win at Iowa, maybe even against Sparty, if he had gone with more shotgun earlier in the season.  It is hard to blame the guy for going with what he knows though, and has the most faith in, when the chips are down.  It appears that his faith is now in shotgun.


Last, but certainly not least, we have Brady Hoke.  This guy has been the exact right fit from Day 1 on the job.  Former players and coaches love him.  His values are beyond reproach (seemingly at least, JoPa taught us all that you never can tell for sure).  He is humble, doesn't pretend he knows it all, and surrounds himself with a staff that ensures success.  He recruits astonishingly well.  He has restored Michigan to the level fans are used to, and for that this fan at least is grateful.



Live for Today…


Several players/coaches should take particular pride in their accomplishments yesterday:

  1. Greg Mattison - The Michigan defense and coverage squads on special teams put on a tackling clinic.  All three fumbles were the very definition of forced - putting a hat on the ball or punching it out.  The containment was good all day, holding a potent Nebraska running game in check without having to dedicate safeties to do it.  The zone blitzing is perhaps most impressive.  I had fun trying to figure out who was going to rush and who was going to drop.  I was always at least half-wrong.
  2. Fitz Toussaint - Fitz is making lateral moves that I just haven't seen from any Michigan back in recent memory.  Mike Hart had the shiftiness, but lacked the size, acceleration and top-end speed that Toussaint has.  Fitz is going to blow up the Big Ten next year - book it.
  3. Denard Robinson - The best game in a long time for our leader and best.  Denard looked completely in control of the offense.  He was patient, waiting for plays to develop before zinging a TD pass to Gallon or cutting behind his blockers for a TD on the ground.  Best of all, Denard finally hit a receiver perfectly on an endzone bomb.  He made some more questionable reads on the read option, but overall it was a great performance.
  4. Ryan Van Bergen - Only two tackles but one a sack and both were for a loss.  RVB also recovered a fumble and was generally a disruptive force in the trenches.  We are going to miss this guy.
  5. Brady Hoke - What I forgot to mention above it that Brady Hoke has huge brass balls.  The difference between scoring 3 vs 7 points didn't seem like much to me at the time; either way it would be a 3 score lead.  The deflating effect it had on Nebraska though, when that fake FG succeeded, I mean - to some extent that was where Michigan put the game away.  Similarly though, if the play had not succeeded, it could have been a shot in the arm for Nebraska and the outcome might have been much different.  I don't think I could have made that call in Hoke's shoes.

Also of note:  Kovacs!!!, Martavious Odoms adds another TD, Will Campbell no longer looks lost, Linebackers - We Haz Them, Mike Martin is Mike Martin and is Awesome


Hope for Tomorrow


So now we have our 9 wins, a number that should serve to satisfy the expectations of all but the most insane Michigan fans.  All of my recent experiences re: The Game force me to keep my feelings guarded.  Putting too much emphasis on the outcome of the next tilt does the rest of this season a grave injustice.  This is something I understand on a cognative level.


But in my heart I know that this is Michigan's time to shine.  The point at which they turn the corner and never look back.  The Ohio team Michigan faces is deeply flawed. This Michigan team is close to being among the best I have ever seen.  Revenge, legitimacy, pride... so much is on the line that it is impossible to be satisfied.  Michigan must protect their house - and show the world that good can indeed triumph over evil.  


Let's finish this.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Go Blue and stay safe!