Baby Seals Comment Count

Brian 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 11:01 AM ^

Sure, we all know that bringing in Georgia or LSU wasn't going to happen, and considering the state of the team that's probably a good thing. However, we did not have to stoop to D1AA. New Mexico did not play on Saturday. They're 0-6 with a coach in legal hot water, so they would not have been a dangerous opponent. I can't believe they would have demanded a return date, either.

So: did Sailboat Bill contact them? If not, why not? And if a game were offered to them and they declined, why?

OMG Shirtless

October 19th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

Did New Mexico already have a full slate of 12 games on its schedule? Just because they had the bye week doesn't mean that they can automatically agree to play us without having to break a contract with another school or get permission to play a 13th game. (Which I thought was only allowed if Hawaii was on the schedule, I'm probably wrong though)


October 19th, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

the obvious here. Bye week does not = NMST needed a 12th game. 1-AA is here to stay until the NCAA changes some of the rules that Brian and the Boards have pointed out the last couple of days. Michigan, like most major programs, isn't going to give up the opportunity for an 8th home game (or 7th in years they play ND away). The pool of candidates for that game in 1-A is low, particularly given that every other program is trying to do the same thing M's doing, i.e., get a decent team in that isn't going to require a return visit. Most years, that math will leaves you with pickings among 1-AA. It's not stooping. It's reality, unfortunately.


October 19th, 2009 at 11:02 AM ^

Do we know why Brandin Hawthorne did not see the field on Saturday? I thought he had played in earlier games.

Also, great line from Orson, RE: Unsportsmanlike Celebration penalties:

"The one irritating us most: another inane taunting penalty in the first half, moving SEC officiating further away from the application of rules from a handbook, and more towards the spontaneous review of interpretive dance."


October 19th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

What I took from Williams and Kovacs being the last starters taken out for me felt like more of "let's let them get more reps because one is brand new at FS and the other is a slow white man and they need all the experience they can get, DSU or not".

I could be wrong, but I'd rather believe that one.


October 19th, 2009 at 11:18 AM ^

I was a little surprised to see him out there. Had he played enough to burn his redshirt already?? Does he play on special teams each week and I haven't noticed?? I can't see him playing much barring a rash of WR injuries so it seemed like a rather poor decision.


October 19th, 2009 at 11:24 AM ^

When you're coming off of 3-9, and your schedule has no bye week, and your roster is mostly freshmen and sophomores, and the rules allow you to count it towards bowl eligibility, this is the game you need.

Doug Karsch had a good point over at The Wolverine. The pollsters won't give you much credit for playing any I-AA squad, so you might as well schedule one that sucks, rather than one that might make it close, or heaven forbid, actually beat you.

Next year's non-conference slate is more like what I would want to see going forward: Notre Dame, a lower-tier BCS foe (UConn), a MAC school (Bowling Green), and an upper-tier I-AA squad (UMass). But to get UConn, Martin had to agree to a return game, and there aren't going to be many of those. I don't know how many BCS schools will do a one-and-done in Ann Arbor. Maybe some WAC, CUSA, or MWC schools would.

Hemlock Philosopher

October 19th, 2009 at 12:55 PM ^

Why don't we do something like this: schedule more than likely wins on the road in areas where we need/ want visibility from the recruiting perspective? Go to Houston and play Rice; go to Florida and play FAMU (in a pro stadium); go to NYC and play Army, etc. It seems to me that teams like ND and Texas are already taking this tactic.


October 19th, 2009 at 11:27 AM ^

Brian, great points all around, but a +1 for the Scorched Earth reference. I thought I was one of the few people who wasted most of my free time in high school playing that game and claiming I was attempting to learn physics.

matty blue

October 19th, 2009 at 11:28 AM ^

the impaler did play in the fourth, got knocked on his ass by an o-lineman late in a play. if there was any chance of a dodgy medical redshirt it's probably gone now, right?

or are you saying something else?


October 19th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

There was also one called "Gorillas" I think, where you are a gorilla on top of a city skyline, fighting another gorilla with exploding bananas. Pretty much the same game... but with apes. MSDOS FTW


October 19th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

Gorillas was awesome. I played that and some birds eye view "racing" game with 4 different polygonal "cars"... I think they were supposed to be like hovercraft in space or something. Great games.

Sgt. Wolverine

October 19th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

I spent hours and hours playing Tank Wars. Scorched Earth never held the same appeal -- it tried too hard to be too fancy.

I really, really want somebody to make Tank Wars into an iPhone/iPod app. Very rarely do I pay for apps, but I'd pay for a good faithful Tank Wars app.


October 19th, 2009 at 11:34 AM ^

That band's webpage is like a timewarp back to when the Internet was all full of primordial glory, a pristine wilderness yet to be made into something useful. Too cool... great find.

The baby seal clubbing is a good analogy. I "entertained" my friends the night after the game with a video of a male lion performing infanticide on the cubs of a newly acquired pride (I won't embed it here... if you are sick and/or curious enough, it's on this website) as a fitting metaphor.

I wonder which Lion King song would go better with that first vid... "The Circle of Life" or "I Just Can't Wait to be King"

Though, Brian, I again take issue with one of your statements. This game was good for more than just the accountants and the walk-ons... it was good for me! I loved every minute of it. I look forward to the day when we beat teams by such margins on a regular basis (albeit by keeping our starters in), inshallah.

People seem to forget that epic beat-downs against hopelessly outmatched teams are part of Michigan's tradition. Somewhere, Yost is smiling.

Sgt. Wolverine

October 19th, 2009 at 11:35 AM ^

I thought you were kidding when you said the APPROACHING STORM's website was on Angelfire. I thought you meant its animated giftastic design made it look like an old site on Angelfire. I thought Angelfire died years ago. It's still around.

MC Hammer

October 19th, 2009 at 11:36 AM ^

"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,'"

One of the better lines from Mr. Cook in recent memory.

Crime Reporter

October 19th, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

I enjoyed this game, as it gave the team much needed rest amid a schedule without a bye week, and above all, it gave my nerves a break. It was nice to see all those walk-ons get meaningful PT, as they work just as hard as the scholarship players.

I have to agree with Brian about V. Smith. He does lack that breakaway speed, but the guy is a physical, shifty runner for his size, like Hart. Cox looked pretty good as well, although his numbers were padded by the long run.

S.G. Rice

October 19th, 2009 at 11:47 AM ^


Seriously. After watching the Wolverine Historian video featuring two Coner completions, I can say that he MUST make the UFR. Two DO++++++++ passes.

st barth

October 19th, 2009 at 12:16 PM ^

12th game is just dumb. it feels like the kind of cheap thing that bud selig would do if he were commissioner of college football. playing second division cupcakes just for the extra cash is a serious waste of even the fans time & money. what the hell, why not play a high school or semi-pro team for that matter? i'm sure those players would love the chance to play in the big house too.

having said that, it would have been interesting if we played delaware state last year. it might have been a bit more competitive...but who knows how this things will turn out when they are scheduled so far in advance.


October 19th, 2009 at 12:21 PM ^

So Brian, if you aren't enamored with Barnum, who do you expect the starters to be on the O-line.

Schilling and Molk obviously.

Then Huyge and Dorrestein could both play tackle (Dorrestein left Huyge right?). Do you think its Ferrara or someone else at right guard?

If Huyge stays at right guard, who are the tackles? Dorrestein? Omameh? Taylor Lewan?

I know its a long way away, just curious what you thought based on the bullet?


October 19th, 2009 at 1:10 PM ^

Everyone in the world thinks Barnum is a guard, so I think throwing him out there at LT was just a way to get him some reps. I don't think he'll be a tackle next year.

Projected starting lineup:
LT: Lewan/Omameh/Schofield deathmatch winner.
LG: Schilling
C: Molk
RG: Huyge
RT: Dorrestein


October 19th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

Not saying you are wrong, but I think we need a new word to encapsulate the internet's propensity to put the new exciting guy in as starter whenever a position battle is discussed. Dorrestein has been the first player off the bench this year when injuries have occurred. He will be a 5th yr senior next year, but you have the redshirt frosh who was undersized and has only played the position for 2 years ahead of him. I hope you are right, because he will be the next Jake Long, but the gambler in me tells me I'd bet against it.

Don't get sucked in by the "insiders" Omamaeh!!!!!!!!!!


October 19th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

I could've plugged in Ferrara at RG instead of Barnum no sweat, but I really don't want to think that Dorrestein will be our starting LT because he simply has not been very good thus far, and the thought of him being the LT starter makes me cringe a little.

Bielfeldt's Calves

October 19th, 2009 at 12:22 PM ^

The question "who does V Smith look like?" came up in the live blog during the game. Comparisons went to Devine and Sproles. I, too, posted a Sproles comparison, but my initial thought was Hart. But as I started to type it I thought it insane to post that so I didn't.

Guess I'm glad to see I'm not totally insane. Thanks Brian.