11/2/2013 – Michigan 6, Michigan State 29 – 6-2, 2-2 Big Ten
You put a brave face on, but some point your jersey is so dirty and your ribs so inflamed that you have to take a moment as you exit the field to breathe. You suck in, and it fucking hurts. You breathe out, and it fucking hurts. Everything fucking hurts.
You've looked like a coal miner after an explosion for the better part of four quarters and everything you do reminds your over-exerted nerves that in fact they have a job to do even if they really wanted to stop doing it two hours ago, and they raise their hand and say OH BY THE WAY THIS FEELS LIKE DEATH, and at some point you have to obey them. Space is infinite and cold and bereft of hope, and Devin Gardner is in it, waiting to die.
I didn't need a half-dozen people to tell me that they'd talked to people or had met the guy. I knew it. They all said Devin Gardner was a cocky son-of-a-gun and they all had different opinions about whether this boded well or terribly; none of them needed to tell me. All you need to know is Gardner's sense of humor, how he bobs his head during his starting-lineup intro at Michigan Stadium when he says "I'm a Michigan grad."
I know that bob. I was 19, in Canada, ordering "whiskey on the rocks" with that head-bob. I'd never had anything to drink, ever, and the table exploded with laughter. The waitress checked our IDs, saw that we were all 19 year old Americans, and got me some whiskey on the rocks. I am a cocky son-of-a-gun. I know that head bob.
I do not know what it's like to have dozens of 250-to-300-pound people deposit their helmeted heads into my ribs over the course of a few hours. I played Quiz Bowl in high school. It was slightly less demanding, physically. I have a comeback victory story in the Michigan tournament that I could tell you if you wanted to hear about nerd triumph. But that's not important.
What is: Gardner has had that cockiness literally beaten out of him by this football season. It started with the insane interception against Notre Dame and steadily built through interception after interception; Michigan resorted to running him a lot to actually move the offense forward, and he started having moments where you wondered if he'd get up. He laid on the turf after he took one particular shot to the chest against Minnesota, and it was a surprise when he got up and continued playing football. By Penn State his coaches were so afraid of him that they curled up into a ball in overtime.
In this game Pat Narduzzi paid his five dollars to the carnie and whipped linebackers at him until he cracked. Pat Narduzzi is now the proud owner of a St. Bernard-sized Marvin the Martian. Devin Gardner is no longer bobbing his head, because doing so sends shooting pain down his right side. And his left side. And other sides that don't actually exist but still manage to send shooting pain signals to his brain. Cockiness has left the building.
Michigan fans have endured a similar trial, albeit without the helmets impacting us like bullets on kevlar and with the aid of sweet, sweet beer. Over the course of two months Michigan has gone from a program on a rapid upward sweep towards another Ten Year War, Jabrill Peppers in hand, to a shambles much worse than its 6-2 record and seemingly adrift. There's been no whisper of a program that seems as good as Michigan State is right now for seven years, and counting.
The nadir of nadirs was Taylor Lewan turning into Will Gholston, down to the helmet twist on a prone player. That's where this program is right now: talking tough, failing utterly, and taking out their anger on whoever happens to be around.
Anyone still deploying the "little brother" rhetoric should be hit on the head with an oversized mallet and mailed to Waziristan. That was definitive. We're going to need a bigger countdown clock.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Dennis Norfleet was pretty good on punt coverage. But no points are awarded.
Honorable mention: LOL.
Epic Double Point Standings.
2.0: Jeremy Gallon (ND, Indiana)
1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota), Frank Clark(PSU)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. The clock expires to end the game.
Honorable mention: Raymon Taylor's interception gives Michigan a sliver of hope; Michigan completes some passes early, moving the ball-type object some distance-type measures.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.
10/12/2013: Devin Funchess shoots up the middle of the field to catch a 40 yard touchdown, staking Michigan to a ten-point lead they wouldn't relinquish. (Right?)
10/19/2013: Thomas Gordon picks off an Indiana pass to end the Hoosiers' last drive that could have taken the lead.
11/2/2013: Clock expires.
[After THE JUMP: brimstone.]
The pile. Brady Hoke has coached 34 games at Michigan. 27 of these have been against opponents from major conferences or Notre Dame. In eight of these games, Michigan has failed to acquire 300 yards of offense. The list:
- 2011 Michigan State: L 28-14
- 2012 Sugar Bowl: W 23-20 (OT)
- 2012 Alabama: L 41-14
- 2012 Notre Dame: L 13-6
- 2012 Nebraska: L 23-9
- 2012 Ohio State: L 26-21
- 2013 UConn: W 28-24
- 2013 MSU: L 29-6
I would like to add the 2011 Iowa game, in which Michigan had 166 yards of offense before they ended up down two scores in the fourth and went hurry up shotgun passing, to the pile. That makes it an even third of games against real opponents (or UConn) in which Michigan has been utterly incompetent in. The disturbing thing is that they are not getting less frequent as the years progress. There were 3 in 2011, four in 2012, and three and counting in 2013, one of which was against UConn.
Everyone has a plan until they get disemboweled and look down at their entrails burning. As for what the gameplan: yeah, that is what they had to attempt. Toussaint got eight carries, and that was about the right number of carries. Michigan tried to go deep to Chesson, Funchess, and Gallon because that was what they had to do to move the ball.
Good prepared teams beat Borges. That one drive where Michigan State snuffed out a throwback screen, was all over all-hitches, and ate an inverted veer alive was ballgame before it was officially ballgame. Michigan had a bye week and Narduzzi/Dantonio still ate Borges's lunch. The throwback screen was especially illuminating, as Toussaint's fake block attempt was read all the way by three(!!!) Michigan State defenders, forcing Gardner to start running around as he does.
The sack of Gardner after the Taylor interception was a perfect example. It's second and fifteen, and this is what Michigan does:
note Bullough screaming up the pocket in the dead center without a blocker
Play action on which Gardner turns his back to everybody and Bullough rips up the pocket unblocked, leaving Toussaint one on one with the guy in no position to deal with him. Glasgow and Bosch both get owned on other blocks so when Gardner evades the first two attempts to tackle him he still gets sacked. Yes, OL disaster is disastrous; this was reminiscent of watching T'eo in last year's ND game on a similar budding disaster on play action. MSU had this dead to rights presnap, probably because Funchess on the LOS is a big flag waving "pass" and, oh, right, it's second and fifteen.
This continues a pattern: Michigan puts something nonsensical on tape one week against a weak defense, finds success with it, and then runs the same thing at a more competent outfit, which destroys it. Minnesota tackle over turned into PSU tackle over. Indiana twins play action that is never going to be a run turns into the above frame. MSU had a few issues, and then adjusted, and it was over.
It looked like Michigan State was the team that had a bye.
Offensive line debacles. Well, it's a tire fire. I provide this valuable analysis to you, person who cannot see with his own eyes that it is a tire fire. Everyone wants to fire Funk, and I guess okay you can want that and it's not insane. It's not happening, though. I bet you a dollar. You are left to hope that next year there will be more guys ready and some of them get a lot better at football.
Keep in mind that Funk is not only working with mostly freshmen and has two walk-ons competing seriously, or at least did until Burzynski tore his ACL, but has had to deal with GERG-RR level whiplash. Michigan wanted to run the stretch this year after not running the stretch at all the last two years, and then they wasted three weeks of practice screwing around with tackle over, and they're still doing that. Michigan's blitz pickups were completely broken in this game. While that may be because most of the guys making the pickups are young, flipping guys from one position to the other and constantly moving them not only week to week but during the damn game seems like a recipe for disaster no matter who the OL coach is. Erik Magnuson is a redshirt freshman already moved midseason to guard, and now sometimes he's a tackle with another tackle next to him, and well no shit sometimes those guys forget where they are.
We always hear about how unit chemistry is such a big deal with OL. Would Michigan's actions be any different if they were deliberately trying to destroy it?
I will admit that part of this comes from seeing Funk at a coaches clinic and being impressed by his level of detail, ability to answer questions cogently, and distinct lack of exasperated swearing. That latter separates him from every other offensive line coach in history. I feel that he is not bad at his job for squishy reasons.
Toussaint can't block. I mean no offense to Vincent Smith when I say this, but I didn't expect that I'd be missing him deeply halfway through this year. I am, because Smith was a great pass blocker and Toussaint is at least below average and probably terrible. Derrick Green still doesn't know what he's doing in that department either and apparently no one else on the team is worth trying as a third down back, so we're stuck with Toussaint. MSU attacked that over and over, finding success.
NOBODY CAN BLOCK. NOBODY
Funchess still developing, still intimidating. He did not come down with a couple of balls that were something less than flat drops but were catches you want him to make; he came down with a couple others and wasn't targeted enough because Gardner was busy dodging missiles in the pocket. When he was targeted, he looked pretty good, especially on the post above that Gardner just missed. He sold a fade route to Waynes, chucked him outside once he'd started to turn upfield, and got a good couple yards of separation on what would have been a pretty badass play if Gardner just could have gotten it there.
I would like it if Michigan stopped pretending he was a tight end at all, though.
no comment on bubble screen. At this point talking about it is counterproductive. It is there sometimes and not there other times. It is a way to get yards that is pretty easy. I like easy yards. Any yards, really.
Par for the course. You thought "ballgame" when Michigan acquired –21 yards in the aftermath of the Raymon Taylor interception, and the defense apparently had similar thoughts.
10 DRIVES BEFORE –21 YARDS AFTER INT: 237 yards, INT, TD, 3 FG drives, one 26 yards, one fluky fullback throwback thing.
2 DRIVES AFTER INT: 56 yard TD drive, 97 yard TD drive.
That was a textbook "defense crumbles late in the face of utter offensive ineptitude" game. Five of those ten drives faced started at about midfield, and Michigan gave up three points on them. The opening field goal drive was one fluke cross-field throw to a fullback and then a three-and-out. MSU is a bad offense that is no longer a horrible offense; Michigan has a B defense. That's about what you would expect.
The late collapse sucks, sure, but I was expecting it. When you get in one of these games where the offense is totally incompetent but the defense is holding you in it, the moment where the offense blows the last best chance to get back in it is often followed by the defense giving up the ghost.
Fullback throwback. I don't even know man. I've never seen anything like that, OSU twitter blew up with jokes about how a Bollman offense is always at its best when it's pulling butt out of its butt, and the announcers were equally flabbergasted. It's just one of those things that can happen to anyone when the opposing quarterback is flushed to the left and decides to throw it—without even looking first—back to a fullback who cut a defensive end and then leaked out into the flat. Brilliant because it worked; a total fluke.
Crossing routes. Man does MSU love them some crossing routes short of the sticks on third down. This would cause me to set my hair on fire, except MSU fans probably enjoy punting at this point. That puts the defense on the field again. I remember that 1997 feeling.
This was the result of rushing three: MSU dropping passes. [Fuller]
Rushing three on third and long. Like everyone else, this was my main complaint. I don't actually mind it so much when Michigan shows pressure and then backs out, but when they go nickel and don't even threaten with the linebackers and then rush three guys who all get doubled, argh argh argh. MSU whiffed on a couple of big plays; that has nothing to do with how Michigan executed.
At least Mattison adjusted, sending a variety of zone blitzes at Cook later, which he didn't do too well with. The general lack of mean okie blitzes and passivity of this year's defense is pretty odd given that they do pretty well when they load up on opponents. Is it just not having Kovacs around anymore? Are we imagining it? I don't know.
Jourdan Lewis curse watch. Connor Cook can't hit the broadside of a barn until a third and fifteen conversion that happens to be an NFL throw against a guy Jourdan Lewis is in the back pocket of. Apologize to the gypsy, Jourdan. I know it's not rational; just do it.
Lewis did have the recovery speed to get in on that fade to Fowler that ended up incomplete after getting burned, at least.
I think he will be good once he APOLOGIZES TO THE GYPSY PLEASE.
(Stribling didn't appear to get any snaps, it was all Lewis.)
Raymon Taylor are you actually good watch. Well… I don't know man. On the one hand, another interception that was pretty badass. That's huge. On the other, led the team in tackles with 12, which is always a sign they're picking on you as a cornerback. I lean towards Taylor being pretty good when not getting tempoed.
Henry had a good day, probably. Judgment always reserved for linemen, but Henry kept popping up in spots after beating down-blocks and seemed to make a real impact. He has been coming on this year; next year he's probably your starting three-tech and an upgrade on Black on the ground. Pass rush is still pending.
The solution to the Jake Ryan thing. Michigan said screw it and played Brennen Beyer at SDE much of the day.
This, too, seemed to work out okay. MSU got two long runs, one on a reverse, the other that 40 yarder that effectively ended the game. Neither of those seemed to be Beyer's issue. Before the late collapse MSU was trundling along at two yards a carry.
As a feminist. I've always wanted to start as sentence "as a feminist." As a feminist, I find "little sister" chants disappointing. Tut tut. Tut tut tut tut. Also Blurred Lines enrages me. I am done being a feminist now. I find Blurred Lines annoying for having hashtags in the video again.
FIRE EVERYTHING, says the internet. Judging from boards around the internet, the aftermath of this game has started fire coach X talk in earnest. That is not happening. There's about a 90% chance this staff stays intact going into next year, for many reasons. Some of them are good—transition costs suck, wouldn't Jake Fisher be nice to have, recruiting is going very well, especially on the OL—and some are not so good, but it's not happening so it's pointless to talk about.
Next year is an obvious improve-or-die season, and it features road games against MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame. Uh.
Best And Worst has bests, apparently, but I think we'll go with a worst here.
Worst: Downs and Distances
Here are some downs and distances from this game:
3rd and 20
4th and 21
3rd and 18
4th and 24
2nd and 30
3rd and 29
4th and 48
3rd and 24
They had three drives of more than 50 yards, two of which ended in FGs and the third in Gardner’s interception. For every other drive combined, UM ended with –7(!!!)yards of total offense. That’s right; with two weeks of preparation and countless promises to adapt, UM produced the worst offensive performance any of us will probably ever see out of the Wolverines. They punted or turned the ball over on downs with 4 or fewer plays 8 times this game. After Raymon Taylor’s interception of Cook late in the 3rd quarter, UM’s subsequent drive resulted in –21 yards of offense and, according to ESPN’s official boxscore, was the end of the game despite there being a whole quarter to go. And honestly, I don’t think that was a misprint.
Inside The Boxscore is a doozy, obviously:
Burst of Impetus
* For Michigan, there was one glimmer of hope. With Michigan trailing by 10 late in the 3rd quarter, Raymon Taylor intercepted a pass and returned it 17 yards to State's 41. The boxscore lists this as the "H41." This could refer to the "Home" team, but I'm going to call it the "hated one's" 41. This was our best starting field position by 24 yards. It's hard to score against the nation's top ranked defense or thereabouts, when you are always facing a long field. Five of our 13 positions started inside our 20, and all but one started from no better than our 35. Why is this important? Well, if you throw a 58 yard bomb to Chesson, you'd like to think that a TD might result, but not if you're starting well inside your own half of the field. After Taylor's INT, the next three plays went for -5, -9, and -7 yards. Impetus bursted.
I will throw up game reactions later in a UV. It will not surprise you to hear that I have not ventured other places on the internet much yet.