Baby Seals

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2009 at 10:40 AM

10/17/2009 – Michigan 63, Delaware State 6 – 5-2, 1-2 Big Ten

 baby-seal teric-jones-delaware-state

This what everyone wanted after last year's decision to schedule Utah didn't go as planned and Michigan slumped to a 3-9 record: a tomato can's tomato can. Someone to take lunch money or candy from. A baby seal to club, and then club some more, and then club some more until David Cone's lyrical daggers were targeting only a wet, damp smear. This is what we got, a game in which I was pondering at which point in the second quarter I'd stop charting for UFR.* A bye week in all but execution.

Actually, scratch the first several words of that sentence: an execution. It was kind of depressing. In the aftermath, Dr. Saturday took time out of a busy Saturday to glance at the box score, blanch in horror, and write a post about it:

The final ledger against the Wolverines could not have been more grisly: Michigan outgained DSU by more than 500 total yards despite pulling starting quarterback Tate Forcier after the first series, averaging 10 yards every time it snapped the ball while also blocking a punt for a touchdown for good measure. The Wolverines led 49-0 after two quarters and began emptying the bench at halftime to keep the margin below 100. I hope Michigan's belly is full, the Hornets are enjoying their half-million-dollar payday and the MEAC championship doesn't come down to handing a win to NCA&T, because children had to watch this.

Delaware State's fluke inability to reschedule the NC A&T** was long known. The reason DocSat brings it up is the pure grisly horror of the thing: 49-3 at halftime, 727 yards for Michigan at the end of everything. "Grisly" is the right word, and "bodybag game" seems like only a slight exaggeration. Michigan killed DSU's long snapper on their first punt, blocked the next one, and pointedly refused to approach another one all day despite the replacement offering up Scorched Earth-worthy parabolas. Michigan, for its part, did not punt.

I don't blame Rodriguez or Martin or Michigan for lining the game up. One bad I-AA team is like any other; Martin probably did a quick scan for back-to-back national championships, found none, and said "okay." It was just bad luck to get the opposite of Appalachian State. Given the state of the program, which was precarious after last year and needed an auto-win for its open date, and college football, which GIMME MONEY, some unchallenging I-AA team was a good move in the abstract. Outside of the three hours in which the game actually took place, it was the right decision.

Obviously, I blame the NCAA. They're the ones who approved a twelfth game, allowed I-AA wins to count for bowl eligibility every year, and placed no limits on the number of home games you can force your bored fans to sit through. At that point it's race to the bottom. Michigan punched a baby seal until it was unconscious and then brought in its six-year-old brother to continue punching the baby seal because he's got to execute the playbook and every play in it is "punch baby seal," and the reason this was a good idea is the NCAA's decade-long money grab.

I think this can this be fixed, or at least mitigated, though. Rodriguez's preseason assertion that the NCAA should allow an exhibition game looks brilliant today. Michigan's 5-2 after beating up a terrible I-AA team, and in the process they set a hollow record for total offense. Michigan improved 35 places in total offense and 20 in total defense in one game. They've still gotten outgained in every game they've played against teams not in the MAC or MEAC, but they're currently the #25 offense and #64 defense in the country because they picked a really, really bad tomato can instead of one of those half-decent ones you only beat by 40. Everyone outside of accounting and the walk-ons at the end of the roster would have been better off if this game didn't exist.

Rodriguez's plan is a way to make the accountants and everyone else happy. Allow teams to open the season a week earlier against a team of their choice in an exhibition game. Sell exorbitantly priced tickets to season-ticket holders, have your sleepy quasi-spring game, open up an actual bye week during the season, and make sure the corrupt statistics from games against teams starting 22 guys your walk-ons could play straight up don't infect record books and season statistics.

We're already paying exorbitant amounts of money for bloodsport; they least they can do for us is stop pretending these count.

*(Answer: probably when Sheridan comes in, at least as far as serious charting goes. I'll stick around longer to evaluate backups on defense and offer some opinions on Cox and Smith.)

**(Fun fact: North Carolina A&T is where Larry Harrison briefly landed after his tendency to scare young women by enthusiastically manipulating his dangly bits caught up to him. He was forced to leave by Concerned Folk who were evidently not concerned about Larry Harrison's future. And yet Corey Tropp can skate against Steve Kampfer this year.)


  • I don't want to get into another huge band flamewar, but I'm sure it didn't escape anyone's notice that the DSU band was sacrificing pitch control and accuracy for loudness. Personally, as the APPROACHING STORM blatted its way through its pregame and halftime shows, I was appalled. The popular music! How am I supposed to choke down the substandard camembert my idiot brother thought would go with an Australian malbec? (About which, as the children say in their vulgar tongue, LOL.)

    Now, the clown who laughs as he cries inside, that's showmanship.

  • For serious, though: I literally LOLed when the pregnant pause following "and now, the Michigan Marching Band presents…"  was followed by "OPERA!" The earlier complaint about the band's focus on things other than putting on an entertaining show could not have been reinforced better. DSU had a third of the people and vastly less practice time; they were a MEAC band from a school of under 4000. Even I could tell that the notes coming from them weren't quite right.  And yet they got a bigger, more sincere cheer than the MMB. They so enraptured Michael Rothstein that he dedicated an article to the band with statements like "That was when the band took over," and… yeah, I'm with him.

    And it's not like the MMB hasn't done stuff like this in the past: the Ferris Bueller halftime show, the Holy Grail one, and the Titanic one where the band formed a ship and the broke itself on an iceberg were all entertaining and memorable enough for me to remember them years later.

  • The APPROACHING STORM has a a website that is true to the nature of the band, all rickety glory and awesome animated lightning GIF backgrounds. It's on Angelfire!
  • Pardon the blasphemy, but you know who Vincent Smith reminds me of? Mike Hart. Same lack of killer deep speed that prevents the guy in question from being an elite prospect—Noel Devine would have housed two or three of Smith's carries. On the other hand, Smith appears to have Hart's ability to juke guys out of their shorts and hit zone creases with authority, and when it comes time to get tackle Smith delivers a blow impressively for a member of the lollipop guild. He's probably even shiftier than Hart, not quite as liable to drag a pile but set to become an excellent player over the next few years. I still think Mike Shaw is the odds-on favorite to start next year because he has the explosion to take it the distance and the moves to break more than his share, but in this offense the #2 back is almost a starter and Smith should be productive.
  • To repeat a tweet: the second team offensive line from L to R was Barnum, Mealer, Khoury, Ferrara, and Omameh. Is Barnum's presence at left tackle a statement about his ability or the lack of tackles who aren't redshirting at the moment? Probably the latter.
  • Will Campbell fell behind Renaldo Sagesse on the depth chart again after his struggles against Iowa. Was Sagesse dinged for that game? I wouldn't be surprised if he was. It would be pretty weird to elevate a true freshman over a productive backup for a night road game against an undefeated team without extenuating circumstances.
  • Mike Williams was the last member of the starting defense to leave the field. Kovacs was second-to-last. You can read many things into that. My things: backup safeties do not exist, Williams was indeed a major culprit in the Iowa loss, and Vlad Emilien is not getting a dodgy medical redshirt.



October 19th, 2009 at 12:35 PM ^

Brian's comment about Utah falling through was more the idea that we scheduled a relatively name non-BCS, but FBS level school, and they went on to go undefeated and we took a loss in our 12th game. (I believe the Utah football game was tied also to a home and home in basketball, as I believe I see a trip to Salt Lake City on the schedule for the cagers this season.) Also, ESPN's "matchmaker" was involved in the process of getting Utah into Michigan.

Very simply, Michigan needs to accept that they should schedule 7 home games every year and be willing to go on the road to other I-A schools that want home and homes in odd numbered years. The way around it, raise the ticket price to $55 per game for season ticket holders and find a way to get that roughly $227K back in guarantees or in the offsets of not having to pay for a game. Or failing that, keep bringing in FCS schools with awesome bands. Southern, Grambling, Florida A&M, the list goes on.

The FannMan

October 19th, 2009 at 12:44 PM ^

Another positive of what was really a silly game was that there seemed to be a large number of people who were at their first Michigan game. There were people sitting behing me who told everyone that it was their first game. They were really stoked to be there. It is sorta nice that these folks had a chance to come and see the team win even though opportunity and/or scalpping may have prevented it before.

There was also some comedy. A guy sitting near me (who I assume was at his first game in addition to being drunk) made the following comment after a seven yard gain by Michigan "AHH, he just doesn't have any speed!" You guessed it - he was talking about Denard. No, I didn't bother to correct him.


October 19th, 2009 at 1:04 PM ^

So are we as an MGoCommunity ready to admit that punching seals is alright while dolphins is not?

formerlyanonymous for the ethical treatment of all mammals*

*mammals that aren't mgoidiots.


October 19th, 2009 at 1:14 PM ^

Like hooking up with a really drunk marginal-looking girl at 3:00 AM, just because you can.

I made sure to sneak out, then took a shower.


October 19th, 2009 at 2:21 PM ^

we played Homecoming exhibition games (back before Illinois invented Homecoming) against Alumni teams during 1897-99.

Not sure if I like the idea or not.......


October 19th, 2009 at 2:23 PM ^

Was it my imagination or was there a significant reduction in canned music this week? I'm not even sure I heard "Sweet Caroline!" Or was I just so focused on the fact that Jack Kennedy had a chance to get on the field that I blocked out everything else?


October 19th, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

Finding a decent FCS team out of the MEAC would have been a crapshoot under any circumstances.

I think it was good that Michigan selected a a decent team from the Colonial Conference next year: UMass. This year the Minutemen are 4-2 including a 4 pt road loss to KSU and albeit one bad blowout loss to Delaware (they got wings!).

Colonial Conference has traditionally had some good teams the last 6-7 years, with several having been FCS championship caliber: Villanova, New Hampshire (Chip Kelly came from here), UMass, Delaware and Richmond. Play them all.

Actually, if Michigan is going to go through the trouble of scheduling FCS teams at all, or on a more regular basis, then let Bill Martin schedule some of those Thurston Howell III types from the Ivy League (Penn, Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth) into Michigan Stadium on Saturday. There were gridiron exchanges between Michigan and these schools anyway.

Beating up Thurston Howells on national television in front of their "Lovelies" has to be 1,000x better than pulverizing baby seals, right?! Who's with me?


October 19th, 2009 at 6:53 PM ^

I don't think it was total blasphemy comparing Vincent to Mikey. The point in the game that I thought the same thing was when he broke through the second level and got fetched pretty easily. Still, I'll take that any day, and his lateral movement as well as how well he quickly finds and hits the holes in the zone blocking scheme are pretty impressive and kind of Hart reminiscent.


October 19th, 2009 at 6:58 PM ^

My 13 year old son has always wanted to play for Michigan. After watching the blow-out, he now really wants to got to Michigan. Sounds strange but was it a good recruiting tool for the little ones?