Football Forever

Submitted by Ace on November 10th, 2012 at 4:06 PM


A referee makes an arbitrary approximation of the spot of the football as Kain Colter is brought to the turf. A couple of guys dressed like crossing guards then take out an extremely precise ten-yard chain. The referee, staring at the football like it's the bottom line of an eye chart, determines that the play has resulted in a first down by the smallest of possible margins. For all intents and purposes, the game is over, decided by an educated guess made at breakneck speed.

Football is the worst.

The contest continues, however, and Michigan sells out against the run for a stop. For a moment, it looks like Jeremy Gallon could provide a miracle as he briefly breaks free after fielding a line-drive punt, but he's tackled at the 38.

18 seconds remain. No timeouts remain. Little hope remains.

But then the backup quarterback hucks the football to the impossibly-skinny senior receiver, improbably left in single coverage, and this wisp of a man somehow bats the oblong projectile out of the air and controls the ricochet, an absurd feat of concentration and athleticism that brings 110,000 despondent humans screaming to their feet in elation.

Football is the best.

From that point, victory feels strangely academic given the prior proceedings. Brendan Gibbons, Keith Stone cool, splits the uprights from 26 yards out for the tying field goal. Three plays after Devin Gardner finds Roundtree again to give Michigan first-and-goal on the opening overtime possession, he fakes a give to Fitz Toussaint, breaks contain, and lopes into the end zone unimpeded. Northwestern can only get within two yards of that blasted first-down marker on their subsequent series before Kenny Demens stonewalls Tyris Jones in the hole on fourth down.

The stadium erupts, again hopelessly in love with the greatest game known to man. Michigan 38, Northwestern 31, football forever.



November 10th, 2012 at 9:35 PM ^

For 59 minutes and some-odd seconds, I was frustrated by this game. Then, in less than the final minute, and through several plays in overtime, everything suddenly jelled. Difficult to understand? Absolutely. But I'll take it, no question about that. 

Ron Utah

November 11th, 2012 at 1:06 AM ^

Well written, Ace.

The TEAM had another great showing; you certainly can't point to any one man and say, "that guy won the game for us," or, "that guy really blew it--we would never have gone to overtime if it weren't for his dumb ass."

DG was good enough to win a tough game, but a lot of throws were a little late and had a little too much air under them.  That said, he came up big when he needed to, and I definitely feel a sense of confidence with him under center.  This is Denard's team and I love that, but I am also looking forward to when Devin is the leader.

Fitz was good, but not great, and his productive day was marred by his fumble.  I will say that for the first time in 2012, he looked faster than everone else, which was how he looked for 7 games last year.

The WRs, collectively, were heroes again.  Gallon was a beast and would have had a TD if DG delivers the ball on time on his double-move (BTW, that's two sick double moves in a row for Gallon).  But 'Tree was just as vital to the victory, because OBVIOUS.

The Funchess only had one catch, but what a catch.

The O-line couldn't do much run blocking until we went to the power I heavy formation.  The interior is still soft, and I expect we'll get more pressure up the gut from Iowa and Ohio.  But in pass pro they were mostly okay, and gave DG enough time to complete 16 of 29.

And the defense.  JMFR is beast, but missed some tackles.  Demens made a great stop, but also missed some tackles and we saw lots of Ross (who had a great game) and Bolden against the option.  Morgan was solid too.  The D-Line was similarly inconsistent, and the secondary had what is probably its worst day of the season, surrendering 8.7 ypa in the passing game.  Overall, you can't call allowing 431 yards, 27 first downs, and 31 points a good day, but they did make a few plays when the chips were down, notably getting the ball back and the stop in OT.

THE TEAM won this game, and that's good to see.  That's what we'll need these next two weeks.  And maybe, just maybe if the spirit of Ace's article is true, Nebraska will finally catch a bad break, and The Game will mean everything again.  I'd love to send Denard out with a B1G championship.


EDIT: I wanted to add coaching...I think we did not do a great job here for much of the day. Mattison's D looked ill-prepared against the option and his incessant blitzes weren't hitting home or disrupting the QB, esp. when Siemian was in.  Borges stuck with ineffective run calls too long, IMO.  But Borges called, I thought, a great 4th quarter, and I LOVE the "freeze" play where DG tries to pull someone offside then audibles into something else.  And Mattison's overtime 4th down play was a thing of beauty; Colter had no idea what the heck was going on.


November 11th, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

If its the same play I'm thinking of...the double move route he ran, which I believe was a 40+ yd connection where the safety flowed over to provide double coverage....did anyone notice that the ball bounced off the safety's shoulder pad before Gallon pulled it in?  I rewound the play a number of times and noticed it in slow motion.  That's some concentration...


November 11th, 2012 at 1:37 AM ^

I'm not going to call for a QB switch, because I understand that that you basically can't pull Denard at this point (based on any reason other than injury). HOWEVER, I don't think I'll ever feel as confident in Denard as I've felt with Gardner under center for the last game and a half. He is very composed in the pocket, good at scrambling, and can make throws downfield with relative ease. At this point I expect Gardner to make big throws. I will always have a place for Denard amongst Michigan greats, and he basically carried Michigan through some dark, dark years ... but Gardner has made plays that resemble a style of football that I grew up watching Michigan play (with a little bit of scramble ability on the side). You've been one hell of a bright spot kid.


November 11th, 2012 at 3:10 AM ^

We got outplayed at home (first downs, gameflow, total yards) by NW, and again the offensive line, or scheme, was a mess.  We were damn lucky to win this game and it doesn't feel good to have to say that about a game at home against Northwestern. Disconcerting, and doesn't bode well at all for the Ohio game.  We have a lot of work to do.

But thank god we won.


November 11th, 2012 at 8:28 AM ^

We probably have the worst kickoff return blocking in the country.  I don't know the stats (or even where to find them), but I imagine our average starting field position is behind our own 30 yard line.  That is unacceptable- Norfleet is the fastest, most elusive player on our team.  He just doesn't get the blocks or the coaching to maximize his potential.  Watch his best return of the game (if you can find a video for it):

The kick shanks off to one side of the field.  Norfleet (+2) catches it, runs AWAY from the open space, and TOWARD all of the awful blocks.  Only when he beautifully evades two defenders does he instinctively run away from everybody INTO THE OPEN SPACE FINALLY and picks up 20 more yards.

Why is/(was?) our offense having trouble? Poor blocking technique on kick returns, poor blocking technique in the passing game, and poor blocking technique in the running game.  Watch Oregon for half a minute, you'll see the best blocking team in the country.  (and, of course, they're really really fast.  That's another matter.)

Whoever's in charge of that blocking shit's gotta be fired.


November 11th, 2012 at 10:23 PM ^

If not, you're nobody's boss, so instead of telling people what their job is you need to have a big can of shutthefuckup. And maybe have more then three idiotic posts before you think anyone will listen to you, turd. (May I call you turd? You said you like it)

True Blue Grit

November 11th, 2012 at 8:41 AM ^

Yes our blocking could be better, but it's not all technique.  There's a few other things called effort, physical ability, talent, and experience.  Everyone knows this is not the most talented Michigan offensive line there's ever been - not even close.  That will be corrected with recruiting and time.  As for special teams, keep in mind we do have a true freshman returning kicks.  Is it maybe possible he isn't running toward the right places on the field due to lack of experience?  I'd guess that is is part of the time.  Compared to the RR years, I think our kick returning is better.  

Bottom line, saying things like "whoever's in charge of that blocking shit's gotta be fired" makes you sound like an Ohio fan.  Don't overreact.

snarling wolverine

November 11th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

I agree that our blocking on KR needs to get better (really, it needs to get better just about everywhere) - but Norfleet needs to make more decisive cuts and use his blockers better, too. Too often, he seems to run into the pile and hope a seam will open up at the last minute.  When he goes with his gut and improvises, he's more successful.


November 11th, 2012 at 8:32 AM ^

I can't wait til this OL is gone!!!!! Besides Lewman they are all bums!!!!! Nobody ever gives denard or Fitz credit for running behind an absolute disgrace of a line! Glad they are keeping all the fresh on the bench but I hope they're ready next year!


November 11th, 2012 at 6:48 PM ^

I'll never understand why people leave early when there is still a chance, not matter how remote. After all the miracles we've seen from Michigan in recent years, why would you ever give up hope? For all those folks heading for the exit with 3:30 to go after NW made their first down, how much of an ass do you feel like when you find out the final result?


November 11th, 2012 at 7:11 PM ^

by Brady Hoke following the 4th Q INT.

What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!