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Brian January 2nd, 2013 at 4:14 PM

1/1/2012 – Michigan 28, South Carolina 33 – 8-5, EOS

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AnnArbor.com

Well, it's over.

A confession: before yesterday I had attended one bowl game in my life, that the 2007 Rose Bowl in which Michigan was tied 3-3 with USC at halftime and got their doors blown off in the second half when Pete Carroll told his OC to stop running the ball, period. That was crushing despite the inevitability of the loss once Michigan's severe lack of corner depth was put to the test.

This game was far closer to even—South Carolina was in fact one yard better than M before their final drive, one which almost didn't get off the ground—and yet by the time I exited the stadium I was pretty much over it. This was weird for all sorts of reasons, foremost among them a sense that I would have cared more if I had watched it on TV. As the game reached its frenetic pitch I did reconnect, to my relief. Still, it took a lot to recover from finding out Michigan had been designated Team Coconut Shrimp, or something. There's just not that much difference between four and five losses.

In retrospect this season lost its urgency the moment Denard's elbow banged the Memorial Stadium turf and Michigan's offense died in Lincoln. That game staked the Huskers to a lead they would not relinquish no matter how they tried. Michigan was reduced to playing out the string without Senior Hero at quarterback, without a shot at the Big Ten championship, without the storybook ending every Michigan fan entered the year pining for.

There were moments of vitality when it looked like Nebraska might blow it, but Michigan wasn't playing those games. By the time the bowl rolled around it was exhibition time, with little on the line other than a few spots in a poll that would have Michigan 15th at best. A starting cornerback and the punter confirmed that analysis by violating team rules and being left home.

I went to see Denard for a last time, and ended up squinting to make sure he wasn't Vincent Smith. He ran 23 times, picked up 100 yards, ground out 4.8 yards a carry, and reminded me of that picture of Mike Hart in a Colts uniform Johnny put up in a post, where Hart looked old—erosion old—and like he was doing something as a job. It took about 20 open tabs to find it, but yeah.

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I think Johnny was maybe projecting his own thought processes onto Hart a little when he wrote this…

But he’s more mechanical now; he doesn't smile like he used to, he isn’t as self-indulgent. His cuts aren’t as risky – more just graceful, cautious lunges. He’s a professional now, measured and stoic and less eccentric. He looks stronger, and too focused. It used to just be a playful resentment for the institution, but now he seems like he respects it. It’s like the NFL has tranquilized him.

…because I know that Denard hasn't changed much since he made everyone laugh and caused me to bolt upright when he ran through two Ohio State tackles at the end of the first half of The Game.

It is the end, though, and Denard looks like this

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and I'm a little disoriented. This season was not supposed to end with Peter Pan becoming an accountant.

He was good. He seemed like a plausible NFL running back once he learns how to block. He joins LSU's Jeremy Hill as the only running back not from Wofford's triple option to crack 100 yards against Clowney and company. For him there is still a lot at stake, and yesterday was important. It is a fine career that awaits him.

But I just keep thinking of that throw he made, and what it represented. How those moments where he'd go to the sideline holding his hand built up and finally washed over the levee. If his arm had held up, or Rich Rodriguez had recruited some OL, or Devin Gardner had stayed at quarterback… if.

That's a burden now: what if Denard dot dot dot. Instead of an exclamation point, we end with an ellipses. Unspoken thoughts, trailing off. Re-carving a rock-hard past into something more pleasing. What could have been, etc.

I don't understand why I felt disconnected. I guess it was because this thing I was at was not what I thought it would be, and for once someone managed to keep Denard from obliterating all doubt.

Offense

Well okay. No real complaints about Borges this time around, but it was really odd how South Carolina reacted to the Denard plays at QB, all predictable runs save the attempted screen. They still dropped a safety 20-30 yards deep, sometimes two guys at 15 yards, and while they tended to blitz they did not sell out like Ohio State did in the second half, even after Denard's lame duck of a throw.

I'm still a little disappointed that Denard wasn't used more as an attention-grabbing decoy. Despite that Michigan had a solid day on offense that would have verged on excellent if Gardner's accuracy had been better.

Speaking of…

Wither Northwestern/Iowa Devin? With five games under his belt I think we can say that Gardner's accuracy leaves a bit to be desired. The Minnesota game was effective but shaky; he blew through Northwestern and Iowa, and now he's had a couple of games where some bad decisions and awkward throws hurt him against quality defenses.

In this one he hit 18 of 36 for 214 yards, 3 TDs, and an interception. 5.9 YPA is poor. There were throws to make there, and he just missed them. He made up for that with a couple scrambles, I guess.

WR corps 2013: not a problem maybe? Jeremy Gallon may be small in stature, but he is his own imaginary 11-foot-tall friend made of dreams. This is not quite the rocket boots touchdown from the Minnesota game, but I mean come on pretty nice:

Meanwhile, his other touchdown came on a post route on which he got open one-on-one a play after he smoked that same corner crispy on a corner route that Gardner actually threw a split second too early, before Gallon had even made his break. The TD:

Gardner trusts the guy to get open, that's clear.

His 9 catches and 145 yards push him up to 49 and 825 on the year, which is impressive production given that he caught a lot of screens that would normally make achieving a 16.8 YPC impossible and that the quarterbacking for much of the year was erratic.

Gallon's season totals are now in a virtual dead heat with Kenny Bell and Jared Abbrederis for second in the league behind thousand-yard-guy Allen Robinson of Penn State, and he made an array of tough catches without more than a drop or two all season.

As a senior is he a quality #1 option? I think the answer there is clearly yes. Take his production in the Gardner era and extrapolate it across as season and you get 81 catches for 1329 yards—ie, one of the top ten receivers in the country.

I'll be interested to see what his yards per target is if Football Study Hall updates those numbers that showed Junior Hemingway was probably the most underrated player at Michigan in a long time. While Gallon's small stature doesn't hurt him in the UFR catch numbers, the simple fact that he's not 6'4" turns balls that Devin Funchess could nab easily into uncatchable zeroes. I think he'll come out well—last year he was top five in yards per target with a per-catch average of 14.6.

Add in Dileo—an excellent underneath option—with a maturing Funchess and you only need one of Darboh/Chesson to step up to have a solid set of options.

Nope, but pretty much anyway. Denard bludgeoned out 100 yards on 23 carries as basically a tailback, which was quite good against a quality run defense behind an offensive line that couldn't get anyone else an inch. It, however, dropped Denard's season YPC to 7.2, a tenth behind Ty Wheatley's 1992 campaign. If we take out sacks Robinson suffered he would pop back above Wheatley, but that's not how it looks in the record book.

Of course if we're going to start poking around at sacks we might as well take a larger view. This line versus to Michigan's 1992 outfit featuring future longtime pro Steve Everitt, three other All Big Ten linemen (Joe Cocozzo, Rob Doherty, and Doug Skene) plus future first-round NFL draft pick Trezelle Jenkins*? There is no comparison. Four of those guys were drafted, two in the first round. Lewan will go high and I bet Schofield works his way into mid-round consideration, but there's no comparison between the interior lines.

*[Wikipedia indicates that Jenkins now owns a Harold's Chicken Shack in Ferndale. #themoreyouknow]

AN IMPORTANT OPEN LETTER FROM MICHIGAN TAILBACKS TO FUTURE GAME SCHEDULES

Dear future Michigan game schedules,

Please endeavor to exclude South Carolina.

Sincerely,

Michigan running backs but especially Thomas Wilcher and Vincent Smith

[South Carolina lost that '85 game 34-3, FWIW.]

On the demolishing. Lewan was frank about what happened. Via Andy Staples:

Meanwhile, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges had called a Power run to the left side. Wolverines offensive tackle Taylor Lewan -- whose play against Clowney on Tuesday further solidified his place near the top of the NFL draft if he chooses to turn pro -- noticed something amiss about Clowney's alignment. "The end lined up on me in such a gray area that I had to call a Deuce to the inside," Lewan said. Lewan explained that a Deuce call ties the tackle to the guard, and their responsibilities are the lineman nearest the guard and the backside linebacker. By making the Deuce call, Lewan had untied himself from tight end Mike Kwiatkowski, who had anticipated working in tandem with Lewan on the play. Lewan said Kwiatkowski didn't hear the Deuce call, and video replays make that quite obvious. Kwiatkowski fired off the line at an angle that would have been perfect had he and Lewan been working a combo block. But Lewan was working a combo block with guard Ricky Barnum. Clowney, the owner of one of college football's quickest first steps, shot the gap before Kwiatkowski could realize what happened. "He's got that little slip move," Spurrier said. "When they come at him, they get nothing but air." Smith never had a chance. "That miscommunication," Lewan said. "Those are the plays that can lose games."

Just a miscommunication that got Smith decleated—de-everythinged.

Defense

Terry Richardson, Delonte Holowell—thanks for playing. Disclaimers about young players improving apply.

That said, Michigan was so opposed to putting those guys on the field that even after four verts blew them to pieces several times in the previous three quarters Michigan still stuck with a nickel package featuring Jarrod Wilson at free safety and Gordon/Kovacs moving down over the slots, with the subsequent events we all know and are slightly depressed about.

Don't click play if you are still depressed.

Kovacs should never have been put in that position, covering South Carolina's leading receiver, and Jarrod Wilson seems super super late—he should not have been on the field.

That's not Kovacs's game, everyone knows that's not his game, there's a reason he was a walk-on, and for Michigan to resort to that indicates that the two small guys from Cass Tech basically can't see the field, period. As a true freshman Richardson still has some hope of finding his way as a nickel corner down the road; as a redshirt sophomore, if Holowell can't see the field in that game he's never going to. Since spring practice Michigan lost four corners (Floyd, Countess, Talbott, Carter) and still not a sniff. Bad news.

Also, WTF was with moving Norfleet then? At least give the guy a chance to be a third down back—Michigan is now in the market for one.

JT Floyd: guh. Michigan wins this game if they can go to the Avery nickel package with confidence; they couldn't because JT Floyd got left home for the final game of his career. I hope it was worth it, man.

Kenny Demens coverage: missed. I assume that Bolden can get there in time, but not all of the seam bustage was on safteies/corner folk. For one, I blame no one on that Ace Sanders touchdown that was in by about a millimeter—that'll happen. On the tight end completion I bet that was a linebacker not carrying that guy. It's still pretty great that Michigan went much of the game with true freshmen at LB and performed very well against the run.

Beyer will win the WDE spot next year. The huge South Carolina QB run was Frank Clark ignoring backside responsibility and chasing a tailback without the ball as two other guys tackled him. This is a full year after he was biffing these things against Scheelhaase; to make a mistake that momentous on a basic, basic play is a good indication that he's just not getting there mentally. If he was making big plays to repair his mistakes, maybe that's one thing, but the pass rush he adds is minimal. If he doesn't figure it out, he's going to fall off the two deep quickly with Ojemudia and Charlton pressing from behind.

Miscellaneous Bits

Oblig. game theory bits. Plenty to chew on in this game.

ONE: Fake field goal on which Dileo runs around and stuff for a first down.

The box score has this a 4th and 6 from the 27; in the stadium they had it 4th and 9. Assuming that Everybody Loves Raymond Stadium was wrong, that's a push according to the Advanced NFL Stats calculator. The break even point is 53%; given how Michigan's fake field goals have gone I'd say that's a coin flip. Since M was down 11 at the time, increasing that variance is probably to your advantage.

TWO: Fake punt on which 9.9 yards is basically a first down, man.

This was fourth and four from the Michigan 37.

Loved this. Michigan was up one with around eight minutes left. If you can go on a drive, rip four or five minutes off the clock, and even get a field goal you've tipped the scales in your direction massively. If you fail, you are in a bit of a bad spot but a South Carolina score allows you time to respond. As it happened, Michigan got the first down (sort of) and still felt the sting of what failure would have been like—then they responded with a touchdown drive. Love Hoke going for the jugular there.

THREE: Unsportsmanlike conduct on South Carolina's second-to-last TD.

My initial instinct was to take the penalty on the two-point conversion (argh), which would have put that at the 18 and all but forced a one-point attempt. South Carolina didn't get it and subsequently kicked from the 20; Michigan got it out slightly over the 35.

I still think the play there is to take it on the two-point conversion, as you're significantly reducing the chance that is successful. That seems well worth the ten yards Michigan picked up.

FOUR: Spurrier is not Ferentz.

Michigan's ultimate demise came on another four verts play on which the seam came wide open as a Michigan seam defender—in this case Jordan Kovacs—got smoked. That was pure OBC, and won them the game.

The setup: South Carolina's kicker was 11 of 15 on the season but had missed a moderate length field goal and had another blocked. They had a timeout left, it was second and ten from the 32, and the Gamecocks had been pounding the seams all day. Spurrier gets Kovacs lined up over Ace Sanders, ballgame. Tip of the cap. This was a game in which both coaches went for the win.

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THEY S'POSED TO BE NFL

Everyone Hates Raymond Stadium. If you're ever on the fence about going to an Outback Bowl in the future, don't. I imagine the scoreboard situation is going to get repaired in the near future, but until then that stadium has the worst I've ever seen. They're useless. They're tiny, 40% of them are given over to ads during replays, and you can't see anything on them anyway. They're worse—much worse—than the boards Michigan just replaced. It was flabbergasting. I mean, it's an NFL stadium. I hear they're doing fairly well for themselves.

Meanwhile, the stadium itself has an incredibly shallow rise, which means if you're unfortunately positioned in what purports to be a good seat*, you spend large chunks of the game looking around beer vendors or Only Guy In The Section Standing Up Guy. The sidelines are huge; the field is not that far below seat level. The end result is a lot of very bad seats, and not much recourse when you can't figure out what happened immediately.

In addition, the area around the stadium is run-down and amenity-free. There's nothing within walking distance. It is the opposite of stadium districts in Detroit, Denver, Columbus, Minneapolis, Pasadena, etc. Unless it is geographically convenient or your favorite player(s) are entering their last games ever you probably shouldn't go. The guy who makes 800k for running the thing probably deserves it for keeping such a crappy venue high up in the pecking order.

Tampa is everything it's reputed to be, as well. Most Tampa thing: all the police cars advertise their website located at www.tampagov.net.

*[This reminded me of Wrigley, actually. A fan of the blog with access to nice tickets threw us a couple a few years back and I spent literally an entire half-inning looking into the paunch of a beer vendor since Wrigley's rise is minuscule. Vertical stadiums are the best.]

Everyone Hates Adidas. I mean, who could have known that putting light yellow numbers on a white jersey would make it impossible to tell who was who? It's almost as if these uniform stunts aren't well thought out.

I was skeptic in re: guys on message boards proclaiming that Nike was the best and that moving to Adidas was a mistake despite the fact they would give Michigan all of the money. I was wrong.

Two things have finally torn it:

  • This uniformz debacle. Completely impossible to tell who was who. Didn't figure out Demens wasn't playing much, if at all, until second half, and that was because twitter was talking about it. I had no idea which DB got burned on the first touchdown until twitter told me, as well. Idiotic.
  • Hockey third jerseys. You have to see these in person to fully appreciate how awful they look. It's not just the weaselferret. It's not even sort of the weaselferret. It's that they look like they came straight off the rack from the Walmart replica section.

Once this contract is up Michigan should flee. They will just take whoever offers them more money; after what Underarmour did with Northwestern this year I am rooting my ass off for those guys. Yeah, Maryland, whatever. That's on the AD. If M screws it up as much as the Terrapins we'll know what the problem is.

SPREAD PUNT.

WE DIDN'T LISTEN

WE DIDN'T LISTEN

Elsewhere

I'll collect game reacts later; this is tough to do in a day now that it's ballooned into a 5000 word monstrosity.

Comments

Shop Smart Sho…

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:42 PM ^

I humbly request that we get a bowl game UFR.  Having that to read might be cathartic for a large number of us.

 

I know it won't happen, but can we please get the OSU UFR as well?  

CincyBlue

January 3rd, 2013 at 9:41 AM ^

I was in the concourse when Brian left his section and heading for the ramp to get out of the stadium.  

The expression on his face looked like he had just gotten the news that his Uncle that nobody really liked had just died but had sent him $50 once for a graduation or something.  He wasn't upset or angry he just really wanted to get out of the stadium and was hoping it wouldn't take 2 hours to get out of the parking lot.  

I have a feeling his face would of had a similar expression on it if we had stopped South Carolina on 4th and 3 on the final drive.  It was the Outback Bowl.

 

  

ish

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

i know mattison ubber alles, but don't you think that if you know you're going to get kovacs on a fast WR that you consider a zone scheme?

stephenrjking

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:58 PM ^

Okay, let's talk about that last play for a minute, because people have been griping about it. 

But the gripe is just classic armchair quaterbacking. "If we had done something different, we would have won." 

What you seem to be describing is a play that rushes three or four guys, then a zone behind them, right? Since you are worried about getting beaten deep, you keep at least a couple of safeties deep, right? You could even call that "prevent defense." 

Which would enrage you if Greg actually called it. 

Let's actually look at the situation: Time is ticking away, SC has time for one or two plays before they kick a field goal. They are in marginal field goal range--kick from there and there is a significant chance they miss, which wins Michigan the game. SC at least wants to gain more yardage so that they can make the field goal easier, if not score a touchdown. 

Soft zone is not going to cut it. A basic zone gives SC all kinds of space to make a catch, basically giving up the yardage necessary to make the field goal a gimme. Zone loses the game.

Michigan was in a position where it could not afford to give up yardage. We're not talking about a field goal for a tie--a made field goal is a loss.

Therefore, Mattison made a bit of a risky call, blitzing and leaving the secondary in man coverage. Michigan needed to force an incompletion or a sack, neither of which were likely with three or four rushers and zone coverage. The blitz gave Michigan its best chance to force a favorable outcome.

They lost instead. If they play zone, SC completes an intermediate pass (likely one of the verticals stopping in the soft spot for 10-15 yards, first down, kill the clock), kicks the field goal, and wins.

I like the call. 

Michigan4Life

January 2nd, 2013 at 6:30 PM ^

which is 4 verticals.  Twice, Michigan got caught with cover 2 and slot WR/TE ran down the seam(middle) splitting the coverage. The last one is fire zone blitz which is not a risky blitz because you're dropping off RDE and bringing in WLB to blitz.  It's a Cover 3 with Kovacs covering the flat.  Kovacs rightly went with the slot WR, but was just plain beat out by him because he lacks the speed to cover him.

mpbear14

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:44 PM ^

That fake punt was the worst call of the year for Hoke.

Obviously you can't point to one single event for why we lost but if you could, that decision would be up there.

mpbear14

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:01 PM ^

Lost the field position battle on the ensuing play.

We had all the momentum. Punt and stuff them. If we were at mid field or in their territory it would make sense, but not on your 37.

There isn't a former player or coach out there that thought that was the right call at the time. Punt it 40 yards out of bounds and go to work.

Hope I never see that play again from our 37.

gbdub

January 2nd, 2013 at 6:49 PM ^

Disagree with the call all you want, but it hardly cost us the game. The next play hurt, sure, but that shouldn't affect your opinion of whether the fake was a good call. Failing to block Clowney could have just as easily occurred if we called that play on the preceding first down. The FUMBLE hurt our chances in the game. The fake punt helped them.

And at any rate, WE TOOK THE LEAD ON OUR NEXT POSSESSION. It emphatically did not cost us the game. We suffered effectively the worst case scenario of the fake and were still in fantastic position to win with 20 seconds on the clock. A stop on either of SCs last two possessions wins us the game. That's a pretty damn good scenario against a top 10 team.

Lost the field position battle? Lolwut? There was no field position battle. The next three possessions resulted in scores and kickoffs. SC got theirs yesterday almost entirely on big plays. This was not a grind it out every inch matters game by any stretch. You're thinking of the last three quarters of the Rose Bowl.

Blue in Yarmouth

January 3rd, 2013 at 10:43 AM ^

but I disagree with reasoning here. It seems (and I may be wrong) that you are saying that since something worked it was a good idea and that isn't always the case. I think often times things work out fine dispite a poor decision. I mean, when I was young and stupid I decided to drive homne drunk one night when I could hardly see. I don't think anyone would argue that was a good decision, but it worked out. I guess what I am saying is just because something works doesn't mean you should have tried it. The end doesn't always justify the means. 

gbdub

January 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 AM ^

You're right of course. The wisdom of going for it can be debated reasonably. I think the stats are probably close enough to even there that it was a gutsy but justifiable call, keeping in mind the clock situation and the fact that SC's big play offense made field position less critical than number of possessions in this game.

However, my gripe is with the implication that the call "cost us the game". It clearly did not.

And, just as the success of the play does not automatically make it wise, neither does its failure make it unwise. Mpbear takes the fallacy one step further and tries to claim that the failure of the play after the play in question somehow proves the play in question was unwise.

stephenrjking

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:47 PM ^

I hated the jerseys, despite the sharp block M on the blue sleeves. The Maize numbers were as awful as they possibly could be.

The helmets were surprisingly sharp and I won't mind if they stick around as an alternate option, preferably for road games only.

Detached from the rest of the now-typical B1G New Year's Day Debacle, I didn't mind this game much--South Carolina was a top-tier SEC team this season that could be in the BCS championship game this year if not for a melt-down in Gainesville, with lots of the kind of talent we want Michigan to have, and staked to a big early lead on two big plays. And Michigan led until the last minute and played them even. A win would make me feel better about the season, with four losses instead of five, but at least we know we have a decent team that played a number of top-ten teams that were just a bit better.

Reminds me of 1/1/05, when we nearly beat Vince Young. I hope 2013 goes better than 2005 did.

DonAZ

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:58 PM ^

"I didn't mind this game much--South Carolina was a top-tier SEC team this season"

The SEC east overall was a much better division than in the recent past -- SC, Georgia and Florida all proved their mettle.

I have a friend who's a big Florida fan, and regularly dishes the SEC-superiority line to me at every opportunity.  Late in the game against SC he texted: "Michigan is acquitting themselves very well in this game."

For those who don't have direct contact with SEC bigots, that's a huge admission

TheInfamousOne

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

I have to agree with you about the jerseys.   I was watching the game from home and even John Gruden made some comments on television that he was having a hard time seeing the numbers on the Michigan players.  From that stand point, failure.

I was okay with the matted finished helmets, it's better than the Christmas tree ornament look that Little Bro brought to A2 in October.

After this loss and they way it ended, I'm a bit more angry with JT Floyyed now.  Or should I be mad at Brady from not turing into Jim Tressel and playing him anyway.

I'm up in the air about that one.

mmp

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:51 PM ^

The following is from a daily article on the Adidas contract:

 

 

"Beyond financial matters, Winters said the agreement with Adidas grants the department more individual attention and control over the deal's operations.

Athletic Director Bill Martin said the look of teams' attire - especially Michigan football uniforms - will change little or not at all. He said Adidas will allow the University input in designing sideline outfits for the team's coach and staff - a change from the same outfits Nike supplies every collegiate team it sponsors.

***

Stipulated in the agreement, Winters said, is the University's right to renew a contract with Adidas maintaining the same conditions, annual adjustment for cost-of-living estimates and a "favored-nation" clause, which allows the University to demand any terms that Adidas offers another university."

 

I don't think we will be changing the agreement when it expires (8 year deal signed in July 2007 I think).  I would agree with Brian the UA has done some great things, but unless people stop buying these new abominations, the atleteic department will still only see $$ with every new "special" jersey

 

maizenbluedevil

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:38 PM ^

I've read this "individual attention" and "unique design" thing before and it's utter bullshit.

Adidas makes our stuff according to the same templates it does its other schools.  This even extends to the football uniforms, note how our Sugar Bowl jerseys last year are the exact same template as Adidas uses for Wisconsin and Nebraska.  (Only a difference in the font of the numbers.)  

profitgoblue

January 3rd, 2013 at 10:29 AM ^

This may be blasphemy, but I'm not watching this game.  I was traveling all of New Years Day and had to DVR it.  Now that I know the score, saw the last play and how terrible the jerseys looked, I'm not going to ruin my start to 2013 by watching the game.  That is not Denard's final game in a Michigan uniform.  That game was two months ago.  This was Denards last game for Michigan and it pains me not to watch him but I can't bear seeing him in that monstrosity of a jersey.  (Big word, but I mean every bit of it.)  Huge, huge Brandon fail.  Say what you want about all the guy has done, but his approval of gimmic uniformz has hurt, not helped the brand.

 

snarling wolverine

January 2nd, 2013 at 4:53 PM ^

Re: spread punt formation, maybe I'm wrong, but didn't we actually use it yesterday?

In any event, was I the only one screaming for a block in the back on SCar on that punt return?  It looked like one to me.

stephenrjking

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:01 PM ^

You're wrong. Michigan punted from a normal formation.

Now, Brian is slightly overstating things--there are some good teams that use "normal" punt formations--but I wish the coaches were comfortable with a punt set that does indeed better utilize the rules and space on the field.

I think Hoke has bad memories from 2003, when Michigan tried to switch to spread-punt in midseason and it was a total disaster. Special teams cost Michigan both the Oregon and Iowa games that year.

Lionsfan

January 2nd, 2013 at 7:56 PM ^

I may be mistaken, but I thought in 2003 we tried out the rugby style of punting, which blew things for us. And as far as Brady having nightmares over it, he was a first year HC at Ball State that year, I'm sure he paid attention to UM, but I doubt he paid too much attention to our season or our losses

J.

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

My entire section was screaming about it, so you weren't the only one who thought that.  Then again, I tend to assume that every kick will always have a block in the back, so I may have started seeing imaginary penalties.

To someone who watched on TV, three questions (see: Brian's comments on the scoreboards):

1 - Did Devin Gardner's helmet come off because he was grabbed by the facemask?

2 - Was the touchdown that "stood" actually inbounds?

3 - Ditto, the 3rd and 10 completion that was "confirmed" on the last drive?

BTW, the fake punt was awesome.  Not only was it a great call, whether it worked or not, but it was the entire time the whole stadium cheered -- SC fans, because they could tell that it was obviously short, and Michigan fans, once enough guys yelled "he's pointing that way!" and we realized that the official had somehow blown the measurement.

snarling wolverine

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

I watched on TV.  I can't recall the specifics of play #1 you mentioned.

Play  #2 looked pretty iffy to me (I personally thought he didn't have possession inbounds) - I thought the replay guy took the easy way out and let it "stand".  

Play #3 was a legit catch.  The officials took way too long to start the clock after the review was over, though, and I couldn't believe it when they put time back on.

 

stephenrjking

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:29 PM ^

Watching on tv all three were legitimate calls. Gardner was trying to duck under an arm tackle, and his head pushing past a forearm caused the helmet to fly off.

The end zone catch was juggled but then controlled with both feet still in bounds; if the shoe had been on the other foot, and our player had made such a catch and then had it called incomplete, the board would melt down with indignation. Think Iowa last year.

The only way it's not a catch is if the ball slips in Ace's hands after he hits the ground, and there is no evidence of that at all, video or otherwise. No way the replay can overturn that.

Smash Lampjaw

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:11 PM ^

I was very frustrated that they never showed the right foot inbounds, much less possession and the foot inbounds. There must be such a view, because of the linked video. I can't stop it at the right instant to see it, however. Someone out there must have some HD skills for us. Maybe Brian has seen the one millimeter. Absent evidence to the contrary, I am free to ascribe to a make-up call conspiracy theory.

reshp1

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:25 PM ^

1. Did not see a facemask, looked like it just jarred loose

2. This one was questionable for me, one of those where the call on the field was going to stand either way. Unfortunately it was called a touchdown. Sanders was clearly bobbling the ball, but it was a matter of judgement whether he resecured it before stepping out. It was damn close.

3. That was a catch. The guy caught the ball and landed on his ass. A Michigan player then dove on him and knocked the ball free. He was correctly ruled down prior to the ball coming loose.

J.

January 2nd, 2013 at 6:14 PM ^

I feel much better about the game result knowing that my screaming at the officials was, in fact, unwarranted.  :-)  I'm used to watching the video, figuring out the correct call, and then trying to calm the people around me when it's correct.  Without the benefit of replays, it was intensely frustrating seeing the game unwind as it did.

A sincere thank-you to everybody who responded.

stephenrjking

January 2nd, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

I've been on the other side of this. I felt reasonably un-awful in the MSU students section in 2001 after the game ended. I never watched the clock, knew Michigan had squandered opportunities to win, and figured the better team won.

Then I got home and found out there was one play too many.

DonAZ

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:02 PM ^

The dot-dot-dot formulation is brilliant ... it exactly captures this season.  What might have been or could have been.

I am optimistic in the mid-to-long term prospects of Michigan under Hoke. 

I just want Borges to stay on his meds that keeps him away from "Second Half OSU" Borges.

South Carolina Borges was encouraging.

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

Well, well, well...so Frank Clark has truly become Prescott Burgess re-deux. Hmmm, situational pass rusher next year or move him down?

Blue in Seattle

January 2nd, 2013 at 6:04 PM ^

Ojemudia was in the game, and had at least one good play, either a TFL or at least a short yargdage stop, can't remember if it was the QB scrambling or the RB.  The other two sacks I think came from having Jibreel Black on the field.  So the questions in spring are really, who replaces Roh, cause I'm not sure if he ever came out in rotation.  Will Jibreel bulk up further to be the 3 tech 1st string replacing Will Campbell?  I think 1-tech becomes a battle for starter between QWash and PeeWee, but they are the two deep there.

Too many good freshmen around for upper classman to be making freshman mistakes.

 

go16blue

January 2nd, 2013 at 5:09 PM ^

Great writing, hit the nail on the head for why I don't feel as bad as I did for pretty much every other loss this year, it was already a disappointing season and this game had very little actually on the line. Add in the fact that we played damn well despite that and there's really not that much to be mad about.

I'm wondering what you thought of our interior blocking on offense, Brian. For the first time I can remember this year we were able to line up in the I formation and run it up the gut for real yardage, against a truly great South Carolina run defense. I didn't see any of the missed assignments that plagued us throughout the year, and we routinely opened up holes for our RBs. It wasn't a dominant performance, but against a defense like that I think it was a great one. Is that a result of SC having a weak gameplan? Did Denard being the RB help for some reason? Just luck? Or is it maybe actual improvement that we can get excited about?

Hopefully we'll see in a bowl game UFR, right? right?