"That was the finest beating I ever took."
Define the scope of the problem. After the Bama game I texted with my best friend Tres. Tres lives deep in SEC country, where the only conversation anyone ever has about college football is about how the SEC is better at it. So of course big Michigan—the Michigan that tripped up Tebow and outscored Shawn Alexander—getting gutted by the Crimson Tide has made his life oh so pleasant the last two weeks. Tres suggested that game was like when Amsterdam first tries to kill the Butcher. Walking into Bill's great big Dallas party and chucking it long to Devin Gardner while not getting Denard lit up was always doomed to fail, and in such a way that not even a moral victory might be claimed. So was going toe to toe and talent for talent with Saban the Butcher. But it's also that point in the movie when you learn what it takes to beat Bill: recruit your own army and come at him from the front.
Here's Ball State's old head coach talking to his players—among them mgouser IncrediblyBLUE—after "quieting the Big House" and losing…
He told us we needed to build on the positives, that we needed to use the energy we had taken with us to Ann Arbor and move forward to the rest of the season. This my friends, is when Coach Hoke told us that "a moral victory is still a .... loss."
This is how far you need to get, and if you don't get there you lose. Let it be a lesson.
I've almost exhausted the amount of times I can be like "I met this football player once" but there's one last important nugget from when I chatted up MSU LB Chris Norman for an hour at an airport. This is about when they played Alabama in that Citrus Bowl a few years ago. It was a blowout but according to Norman it was the most important game they ever played. Paraphrasing, facing Bama showed them exactly how far they needed to get. Players don't care who was a 3-star and who in the Rivals 100—they get on the field with guys like Dont'a Hightower or Courtney Upshaw and see linebacking done right.
We now know how far Michigan needs to get to win Hoke a championship.
More problem solving after the jump
Collect Available Data. A big part of football done right is tackling technique. Diarist of the week maizedandconfused deserves a medal just for putting this together:
He then goes on to update his tackling study from 2010 to show how much better they got in 2011. Hero points for this one and don't miss it.
If you want to see a microcosm of how Bama beat Michigan, sprint right now to JeepinBen's one-play diagnostic:
What Bama did was "absorb" blockers and control them. Hopkins can't block #1, who forces a give. Omameh and Schofield are stuck double teaming DTs and can't get to the next level. Barnum is beat to the hole. If this was a true read play (I dont' know, and as mentioned, the coached don't like unblocked DLs) Hopkins should be on the 2nd level as well.
When we talk about sucking up two blockers in assessing defensive linemen, this is what we mean.
Qualify the Data. One of the great gifts of the Big Ten realignment is Michigan State is now Michigan's de facto most important game of the season, or is at least until Sparty fades back into mediocrity (best guess: four years from now). However if you were planning on watching the next two Notre Dame games closely to see how that will go Brhino's data since 1988 suggests it won't tell you much. Speaking of Notre Dame, now that they're officially half-ACC, does that mean they're trading us in for a Duke rivalry? I really hope not.
That's all good stuff if you're a football player. But you're a fan, and that means you too have to step up your game. To that end, this is tailgating done right by inthebluelot.
Create a Plan. Until the season began I didn't know which of our regular columnists would be returning. Thankfully when it turned September some of my favorites were right there again. Readership, make these a part of your regular weekly readership:
TURNOVER ANALYSIS by Enjoy Life.
HOKE FOR TOMORROW by Lordfoul
This is an extra weekly game column. While Ace will write up the story on Sundays and Brian will punch out an epic react on Mondays, Lordfoul has carved out his niche in providing a kind of general fan reaction. I like his stuff because he's very adept at narrowing that Saturday's experience into a short thought. This week: "missed opportunities." Last week: "we're not out yet."
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE by ST3
Wot it sez on the tin to start but more than that really. ST3 will pare apart things like Denard's completion rating and craft it into a story from what really went down. Then there's a lot of fan react about refs, announcers, etc. If you read ITBS each week your water cooler Michigan discussions will sound much more informed and you will be the popular Michigan guy in the office everyone wants to talk to. If you skip it and just read the front page you may be even smarter but you won't be invited near the water cooler. (Week 1)
WEEKLY WALLPAPERs by monuMental, jonvalk, et al.
Q: should we start voting on these or something? I'd be happy to post the winner each week. Or maybe I'll just pick. Pick: jonvalk:
Windows users: have monuMental's 2012 schedule in your rotation.
GAME DAY WEATHER by mgoweather
Our in-house meteorologist will tell you what to wear and what to expect for tailgating through post-gaming. I'll ask if we can maybe get an earlier forecast since by 10:30 a.m. on game day it's probably too late.
PROGRAMS by Lanyard Program
Get yerr programs heaaayah! They look like this:
Executera. The Knowledge: challenge, not worried. Pro tip: always check with me before betting your child's chance for a happy and fulfilling life on the outcome of a Michigan game, and check with Tres before marrying into the SEC. Or just don't do those things at all. It's weeks like this that we can all think back on all the cute little baby seals we've clubbed (thanks EGD). I love that most on the list are Big Ten opponents. Don't miss the comments where helpful users uncovered the '81 game vs. Illinois etc. Since Mike Cox is in town somebody oughtta post Delaware State in there.
Best of the Board
SHOUTOUT TO MY HOMIES
Things that Birmingham can take credit for: Seth, C-Webb, Jordan Barpal, good Thai food
Dilla Dude had an idea to ask who's the best athlete from your hometown and 200-odd people obliged. These "tell me about yourself" threads are mostly filled with folks who post their cool thing but don't really read the others. My suggestion is read the others because there's a lot of stories nobody but locals know.
WHO GETS TO WEAR RON KRAMER'S SWEATER?
The next Legends number is 87 and the debate shall rage for another 24 hours until we find out exactly where they're going to put it. The big oaf (Mich career vid) was the NFL's original receiving star at the position, but the reason every football player for three generations knew his name is he's the guy whose block your coach is circling when he's showing you reel-to-reel footage of Vince Lombardi sweeps.*
It could be Roh but then why change a four-year starter's number with at most a dozen games left.
I liked the idea of four years of the Funchise in a low number (19) that I mostly associate with Ronald Bellamy and it seems a bit early to slap a legends jersey on him for four years after one good game against future aerospace engineers. I mean love the hype but if it's unfounded you've got a backup sitting in a special wood-paneled locker through 2015, and until he learns to block you have a Massaquoi dressed like the statue blocking tight ends put in their lockers. This bothers me way less than it should. Anyway go vote.
* The ones going left are Kramer; the ones going right are #86 Boyd Dowler. If your coach didn't show you Vince Lombardi sweeps on the R2R this is why you and the rest of the kids these days don't know how to block. Go feel bad about this.**
** Disclaimer: I know this because my brother played strongside guard in high school. I played guitar.
RUNNINGEST QUARTERBACK EVER
Oh yes, it's on.
THE ONGOING LIST OF PEOPLE HEIKO SHOULD HAVE DRAFTED BEFORE TAKING A 2ND QUARTERBACK
It's the rare moment you see Blazefire being serious but he makes this one count by noting the Big Ten players you never heard of who've popped out in the first two games. Indiana QB Tre Roberson is out for the season with a broken leg but before that happened he was torching UMass, meaning Denard should have an easy time of it and Heiko will draft him next year instead of an offensive lineman.
ENHANCED VIEWING IS BACK
It's Upon Further Review: The Ultimate Experience, by WolverineBlue, who now has a dedicated site (www.michiganufr.com) where he still posts the enhanced UFR viewing before I can copyedit the originals.
ETC. As part of our long overdue retaliation for the Stamp Act, one of the leading candidates for Worst Journalist on Earth has been shipped off to British tabloids. In celebration, those I convicted last month for spreading his spurious pamphlets shall be released from the stockades. Let us all adjourn to the opera and rejoice!
Your Moment of Zen: