Inside the Box Score - Season in Review

Inside the Box Score - Season in Review

Submitted by ST3 on December 30th, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    It’s that time of year, when season in review posts are flying fast and furious. Inside the Box Score is not immune to this seasonal ailment. However, I hope you’ll find my take somewhat novel.* For those that are expecting a post full of numbers, let me warn you that I’m taking a musical approach to this diary. I had an idea that seemed silly at the time, yet as I delved deeper into that idea, the story kept building until I realized I had to write this. Without further ado, I present to you, the 2011 Michigan Football Season in Review, accompanied by an Iron Maiden soundtrack.

    "Why Iron Maiden?", you might ask. From the beginning of the Hoke era, Brandon said that he wanted a defensive coach. For me, when I think of Michigan Defense, I think of the ’97 National Championship winning defense of Glenn Steele, Charles Woodson, Sam Sword, Rob Swett, and Ian Gold. Jarrett Irons graduated the year before, but I usually add him to that list. (And now I can add to that list, defensive line coach Brady Hoke.) Steele, Sword, Swett, Irons. Those are some heavy metal names. When I think of heavy metal, I think of Iron Maiden.

    As if I needed another sign to write this review, this week’s unverified voracity contained this gem:

"(We have) two other seniors up front that are going to play their last college game and their last game for Michigan," Hoke said. "Sometimes, you’ve got to be an iron man."

Iron man, or Iron Maiden? I’ll let you decide after reading.

[*Yes, the concept is heavily borrowed from Bill Simmons, but he rarely writes about college football. I don’t think you need to be familiar with Iron Maiden to read this, all you need is to be a Michigan football fanatic and/or frequent reader of this blog.]

Wasted Years

I close my eyes, and think of home,

Another city goes by, in the night,

Ain’t it funny how it is, you never miss it til it’s gone away,

And my heart is lying there and will be til my dying day

 

Make your stand,

And realize you’re living in the golden years.

    As the 2010 season concluded, Rich Rodriguez was fired, leaving many to wonder if the past three years had been wasted years. That’s an obvious connection to this song’s title, but the first set of lyrics quoted above make me think of Brady Hoke, and the years he spent in between his stints as Michigan assistant coach and head coach. They were obviously not wasted years, as they gave Brady the experience he needed to lead this team. I wonder how many times between 2002 and 2011 he closed his eyes and thought of home, the Big House. A similar refrain could be said regarding Greg Mattison. The second set of lyrics is reminiscent of the common refrain among Mattison’s troops. Give me a place to make my stand. Could this be the start of another golden era of M football?

Meta: Aces High

There goes the siren that warns of the air raid…

Got to get up for the coming attack

Prior to the start of the season, TomVH and Tim left for possibly greener (financially speaking) pastures. Ace and Heiko joined the Blog staff to give us weekly previews and recruiting reports.

 {Insert picture of Heiko here when he gets one. Heiko, Y U No Haz Avatar?}

The Clairvoyant

Is this a dream or is it now

Is this a vision of normality I see before my eyes

I wonder why I wonder how

That it seems the power’s getting stronger every day

I am The Knowledge … yes? Sadly, no, but every season starts with a preview. I didn’t post any predictions on the blog, but this is from an email I sent my brother August 25, 2011.

    "I'm going to predict Iowa wins (or MSU or Northwestern or Neb) leaving us at 7-1 in B1G, 10-2 overall, because an 11-1 season is too optimistic, even for me. We get beat by Wis in the championship game, 10-3. D has improved, but not enough to stuff the badgers ground game. We get beat in a BCS bowl we have no reason being in. I'll be happy with 10-4."

The Knowledge I am not, but I did predict a 10 win regular season. Yes. Now on to the season in review.

Rainmaker

WMU 34-10

You tell me we can start the rain.
You tell me that we all can change.
You tell me we can find something to wash the tears.

    A torrential downpour interrupted the game a couple times, and finally resulted in the game being canceled just prior to the end of the third quarter. The rain symbolized the washing away of the past, a recent past of tears of infinite sadness. A soaking wet Brady Hoke had a rather inauspicious start to his M head coaching career. But a win is a win.

2 Minutes to Midnight, Fear of the Dark

ND 35-31

The golden goose is on the loose

 

When the light begins to change

I sometimes feel a little strange

A little anxious when it’s dark

    In a game that lasted until midnight, the last 2 minutes of the UTL game saw the teams score 3 times, twice by Michigan and once by Notre Dame. Michael Floyd lead the Irish with 13 receptions for 159 yards. The golden goose was on the loose in the M secondary. However, Denard Robinson bested Floyd and the Irish, throwing for 338 yards and 4 TDs. One wonders what all the anxiety was about, as a great time was had by all, all those waving maize pom-poms, that is.

Stranger in a Strange Land

EMU 31-3

My spirit wanders endlessly

Until the day will dawn and friends from home

Discover why

Hear me calling, rescue me

Set me free, set me free

Lost in this place, and leave no trace

    The lyrics describe Mike Hart and his time at EMU. It is thought that once Fred Jackson retires, Michigan will hear Mike’s call and rescue him from that place, Ypsilanti.

    I know I am risking the wrath of the board by calling Mike Hart a stranger (we can all agree Ypsilanti is a strange land, no?) but it is done with tongue firmly in cheek. It references this pre-game quote from Coach Hart:

    "This is who I am. I am Eastern Michigan. I coach at Eastern Michigan. I want Eastern Michigan to win every game. I don't cheer for Michigan ever anymore. I watch the game and I watch as a coach trying to see what they're going to do."

Run to the Hills

SDSU 28-7

Run to the hills – run for your lives

    In a game that was supposed to feature Ronnie Hillman, Denard stole the show with 200 yards rushing. He ran for his life from the attacking 3-3-5 defense of SDSU, that wasn’t as frightening as we were lead to believe. As a team, UofM gained 320 yards on the ground, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Hillman did gain over 100 yards, but fumbled twice. The second fumble was forced some 30 yards downfield by a hustling Ryan Van Bergen and recovered by Jake Ryan.

Bring Your Daughter … to the Slaughter

Minnesota 58-0

Honey it's getting close to midnight
And all the myths are still in town

    The title of the song says it all. Minnesota never had a chance after Marqueis Gray failed to suit up. The quoted lyrics could be used for the UTL game, referring to the Notre Dame myths/ghosts from seasons’ past.

Satellite 15 … The Final Frontier

NU 42-24

I try to call the Earth’s command

Desperation in my voice

I’m drifting off course now

With very little choice

    Denard had a miserable first half (multiple ints,) got back on course in 2ndhalf. In a battle of two strong engineering schools, the winner was Space, Bitches, Space.

The Evil That Men Do

MSU 14-28

Living on a razors edge

You know, you know

The evil that men do lives on and on…

    In a game of controlled aggression, Gholston clearly went over the edge, twisting Denard’s helmet and punching Lewan. Gholston’s evil lives on and on, alas, his punishment lasted all of 1:13 before he was reinserted in the lineup. The evil that sparty did went on and on, to the tune of 13 penalties for 124 yards.

Running Free

PU 36-14

I’m running free yeah, I’m running free

I’m running free yeah, I’m running free

    After being limited to 2 carries against MSU, this was the game that Fitzgerald Toussaint broke through. He had 20 carries for 170 yards and 2 TDs. A blow-out win over a competent Purdue team suggested that M had put sparty behind us and were ready for the final four games.

{Bonus Purdue game song: El Dorado, which includes the lyrics, “So come over here now, I got a vision for you, It’s my personal snake oil, it’s just something I do,” because you know why.}

Twilight Zone

Iowa 16-24

Ohh, can’t you see me?

Ohh, can’t you see me?

    Oh can’t you see my knee is down in bounds, I have possession of the ball? Oh can’t you see I’m being interfered with, multiple times? A game where poor play-calling and even poorer work by the zebras cost UofM a road victory.

Iron Maiden

Ill 31-14

Oh well, wherever, wherever you are,

Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far.

    Replace “Iron Maiden” with “Mike Martin” and that song perfectly describes our fine defensive tackle. He lead the team with 9 tackles in a game in which Illinois didn’t enter Michigan territory until 1:45 was left in the third quarter.

The Trooper

Neb 45-17

And as we race towards the human wall

The screams of pain as my comrades fall

We hurdle bodies that lay on the ground

    Those lyrics scream “Special Teams” to me. This game caused me to include a section in the weekly diary focused on special teams. Terrance Robinson and Floyd Simmons each forced fumbles on Nebraska kick returns. Michigan also successfully executed a fake field goal and blocked a Nebraska punt.  

The Number of the Beast

OSU 40-34

Woe to you oh Earth and Sea

For the Devil sends the beast with wrath

Because he knows the time is short

 

I needed time to think to get the memories from my mind

What did I see?

Could I believe?

That what I saw that night was real and not just fantasy

    We beat Ohio by six, to make them 6-6 on the year. Sorry, had to get that 6-6-6 joke out of the way. The memory that was haunting me was the Earle Bruce fedora game. OSU came into the Big House a decided underdog in Bruce’s last game after getting fired. They played inspired football and shocked Michigan football fans everywhere. They tried their best to repeat that feat for Luke Fickell, but after Martavious Odoms gave Michigan the lead with a 20 yard TD catch in the third quarter, Michigan never gave the lead back.

    After so many frustrating defeats to the buckeyes and that ridiculous clock, we had finally slain the beast. Instead of jumping for joy after the win, I stared at the TV and tried to make sense of what had just happened. And then I just smiled, and the pain melted away.

Paschendale

In a foreign field he lay

lonely soldier unknown grave

on his dying words he prays

tell the world of Paschendale

    Paschendale is my favorite Iron Maiden song so I had to work it in somehow. It recounts an epic battle of World War I. I’m not going to compare Team 132 to soldiers from WWI, but this season has been remarkable and this team’s story is worth telling, again and again.