I Got Jingos Comment Count

Brian September 17th, 2012 at 10:59 AM

9/15/2012 – Michigan 63, UMass 13 – 2-1

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Eric Upchurch

I don't have anything incisive to say about Saturday's events. Even if I did it would be equivalent to taking a scalpel to a pig you dropped out of a hot air balloon: the scene speaks for itself, and you're not going to come out of it with ham.

I'm with this guy:

I started poking around previous events like this to figure out what you're supposed to say when the predictable thing that doesn't mean anything happens, finding this after the 2010 Bowling Green game:

It's been a long time since this has happened, but in the aftermath of a 721-yard outburst against a I-A opponent there's no grand emotional narrative arc to relate. Last year there was a sense of relief after the Western game; the Eastern game was a reminder that sometimes Michigan plays teams obviously worse than they are and beats the pants off them and isn't that nice but sometimes the quarterback goes down and that's not nice at all. The Bowling Green game was that minus a loss to a 3-9 MAC team the year prior—i.e., a pleasant nothing in which crappy special teams play was just an opportunity to rack up more yards on offense.

A couple years further removed from actual losses to these sorts of teams, or even vaguely competitive games and you can't even offer that paragraph. That game… existed.

Things happened, but the only ones you can derive anything slightly meaningful from are scattered opponent-independent events and those in which the domination was not dominating enough for your sense of optimism. Like the defensive line. You know, the one I tweeted my despondency about in the midst of giving up six points. Denard, who made everyone a little leery when he missed on any pass. Yeah, Michigan won by 50 but the only things that meant anything were a tiny bit bad because they implied you might be unhappy at a future date.

This is what happens when you play a UMass and you're still jumpy from the bad old days. Let's always be bored and have little to say, forever and ever, amen.

Photos

The Observer/MGoBlog cooperative had not one but two(!) guys on the sideline on Saturday. Regular man Eric Upchurch:

And new guy Bryan Fuller:

A bonus NOTE for anyone out there blogging: the MGoBlog flickr page now has tags and everything, so if you're looking for a Creative-Commons-licensed photo of player X, that's the place to find it. Just hit us with a link if you use one.

Highlights

This is all offense:

There's a shorter but more diverse MGoBlue version.

Bullets That Didn't Slip On Quite Enough Gore

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_3Brady Hoke not-that-epic double point of the week. Well… nearly 400 yards of total offense and another dump truck of articles wondering if this is something that will hold up in the big bad(?) Big Ten means it's Denard again, doesn't it?

Honorable mention: Fitzgerald Toussaint, Will Hagerup, Frank Clark, probably some OL.

EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS:

2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1: Jeremy Gallon (retroactively awarded for Alabama game)

Chasing Jim Mandich. Devin Funchess adds 34 yards and now needs 1355 to pass Jim Mandich. At his current pace he needs 29 games to do so.

The irrational worry that you all have too. Defensive tackles are killing us. Or will be killing us, at least. Possibly. QUALIFIERS. You get the idea.

Roh makes some plays here and there and will fill a hole, force a bounce, etc. Clark is making some plays, yes against not great competition, but that's something to hang a hat on maybe. The DTs? Yeesh.

It didn't help that Michigan ran a pass-defense crew out there with Roh and Black your two DTs with Clark/Ojemudia and SLB du jour at DE. That was their nickel setup and when Michigan ran it on standard downs the line let guys through. Usually for three or four or five yards, but we're talking about a team that has issues gaining one on most downs. Washington and Campbell weren't in much, were never in together, and Pipkins didn't make an appearance until garbage time. Ash was totally absent.

What do you make of that? Just practicing for what seems a very pass-reliant Notre Dame attack? Willfully giving up some rushing yardage just to get the linebackers reacting to QB draws and runs and whatnot? Or doom?

You can make a case for the former. Michigan started screwing around with their kickoffs to see if they could come up with anything better than Wile belting it eight yards into the endzone (verdict: no), and was probably just working on things they wanted to work on once the score got out of hand.

It gives me the willies, though. Especially Pipkins being exiled to the bench for so long. That implies he's further from the field than everyone wants him to be. Or that diabolical Hoke machinations are waiting for the ND game to spring the Great and Powerful Pipkins on unsuspecting Irish. That's the ticket.

7990023998_17dba3c643_z[1]Clark, at least. I know we've gotten just one and a half games from both Clark [@ right by Upchurch] and Beyer. Clark has had the full game versus UMass, Beyer the full game versus Alabama. This is not a strong basis for comparison.

Just eyeballing it, though, gives a clear edge to Clark. He is Making Plays™. Beyer didn't seem to be. Clark was by far the superior option against Air Force and was the most active DL on Saturday. He's making spectacular bat-downs of opponent passes something of a trademark. I like trademarks that aren't "I don't do anything much."

He and Ryan will have to get a ton of pass rush to keep heat off Michigan's secondary. Michigan really, really needs him to be a playmaker. He's the only guy who is consistently getting into the backfield even against the UMasses of the world.

FWIW, it looked like Ojemudia was doing a bunch of freshman things when he got in there. He'd overrun a play with a bad angle and let Cox cut back, giving up a big chunk, or he'd miss a tackle, etc. He's Clark last year.

7991699812_6844f6d5fb_b[1]Funchess. The touchdown was just Funchess being wide open and could have been scored by anyone on the roster, including guys out for the year with injuries. That third-down conversion was maybe something to hold on to despite it being Funchess's first catch of under 21 yards. [@ right by Fuller]

On that play Denard moved around a bit and fired a hard, low ball at the sticks. That was either a crappy throw or a great pass to keep it away from defenders; either way it was a tough, tough ball to dig out, especially when you're 6'5". Funchess had no problem. Give him hands to go with that frame and he doesn't have to add much weight—if any—to be a crippling matchup. If you've got a two-TE set out there the defense is either going nickel and giving Funchess someone he won't have much issue blocking or conceding the LB matchup that is never going to go well.

The wide receiver corps in general: hurray? Other than some of the guys being little buggers who are easy to overthrow, I think Denard's targets are way less of a concern than we thought they'd be at the beginning of the season. Funchess is a big part of that. Also coming through: Devin Gardner, who is looking downright comfortable three weeks in, and Drew Dileo, who may not be much to look at—he gets called the "white receiver" by his teammates, except he doesn't—but will snag that bullet you put too far in front of or behind him no problem.

Dileo's big reception was reminiscent of the key late crossing route he snagged against Ohio State, and twice this year he's kept his feet after tough catches for big hunks of YAC. He's a nice option to have.

Strength of competition disclaimers apply, but would you swap Michigan's WR/TEs for Notre Dame's? Maybe, but it's debatable. The Irish are running out versions of Jeremy Jackson (John Goodman) and Drew Dileo (the Toma kid), and Michigan's running out a guy who hopes to be Tyler Eifert (but fast!). How about Michigan State's receivers? No way. Ohio State's? Ask again later. I'll take that for a group that was supposed to be a weak point of the team.

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Fuller

One downer event here was Jerald Robinson not catching a 40-some yard TD pass that was in his hands. Before that he complicated matters by doing a 360 with the ball in the air—never good. If he'd just located the thing properly he could have used his body to separate from the DB and possibly have prevented the rake-out that occurred.

Oh, wait, right, the other thing.

Also a downer. The pick-six. Here's an endzone view:

That's a bad throw to a guy who was kind of open, but Jeremy Jackson being slow contributed a lot, too. He makes that post cut threat. The safety hardly reacts, then he jumps the out when Jackson rounds it off to the outside. That INT reminded me of Countess jumping a Jackson route in the spring game. Without any fear of being beat deep, that was easy pickings. Here you've got a UMass corner in straight man to man against a guy who threatens to go up the middle of the field by himself and still no separation.

I noticed something similar in the Air Force game when a heavily-pressured Denard fired one out to Jackson on third and long. Jackson had a shot to make the catch and could not, but wouldn't have gotten the first down anyway. Dileo was running the same route on the opposite side of the screen and had enough separation for some nice YAC. The smaller guys are harder to hit but they get away from opponents a lot more easily.

(Yeah, Denard has a couple other guys open here. He's also got an unblocked guy in his face and a player in man to man who should be able to get separation. It's not the decision but a combination of the throw and the route that are problems. I'm guessing Denard is repeating what Borges says here:

"It was a good read, just a bad throw," Robinson said.

)

The bu—LAZER screen. Michigan threw a couple of them. They gained nice yardage, because they always do. Borges has renamed it the LAZER(!) screen—the Z, I feel, is implied—and will hopefully swallow his pride long enough to test it out against Notre Dame. The Irish got smoked on all manner of WR screens against Purdue and it was only Zeke Motta making a great play that held down MSU's attempt.

MSU does not have a Gallon, and with Slaughter out Motta is either going to be in center field or Notre Dame will be rolling with a redshirt freshman who played WR last year as the last line of defense. Here's hoping the new nomenclature allows Borges to go after ND's inexperienced CBs and their tackling early and often.

TURNOVERS! Ain't got none. Problem? Eh. Most of Michigan's first two games were spent defending all of the runs, and the third did not feature many defensive plays at all. Opponents have fumbled seven times, but Michigan's only recovered two. One was Hagerup beaning the returner in the head, the other the meaningless one at the end of the half. Michigan has recovered two of seven fumbles on D and both of their offensive fumbles. So, like … about half.

Oh, that's too small of a sample size, you say? I hate you so much.

The real turnover concern. If Michigan can't get pressure on the QB, they will suffer a decline in fumbles and ill-advised passes generated, and without Mike Martin and RVB that seems a virtual certainty unless Clark busts out enormously. Save us, Mattison zone blitz machine.

 

Atmospherics

Cooper Barton. …probably shouldn't have gotten a bigger cheer than Ron Kramer. Priorities, people. Now we're just waiting for him to release a song on Youtube ("Michigannnn, Michigannnnn, gotta get down on Michigannnnnnnn") they'll play every game.

But he is cute!

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Maize and Blue Nation

Seriously. That is a cute five year old. Someone cast him as a gnome in something. Preferably something in which gnomes make no sense, like the next Fast and the Furious movie.

But at least there's a hole. Second straight week we were mercifully without "In The Big House." I'd crumble to my knees in thankfulness if there wasn't a small child in front of me who would kick me in the face as a result.

Heiko? This is not professional. BUT IT IS AWESOME

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(This is not actually Heiko. Obviously.)

7991670392_ef69906f5e_z[1]Kramer jersey. Giving it to Moore [@ right by Fuller] clears up a lot of things: they're just going to hand them out to people, they're not going to make sure they're stars, and anyone can get them. I'm not even sure they'll make sure they're around every year now, but I'd guess once the jersey is vacated someone will hop on it. I'd bet Butt or Hill is wearing #87 next year.

I do wish those patches were a little less busy. Last name, years present, those things better, no border. /boom runway'd.

There are other players. Michigan's still struggling to make their video boards not useless hunks of metal that annoy you with any advertisements they think they can get away with. To date this has been a struggle, but they took a big step forward last week by telling the goof running the replays to zoom out so you could see more than the texture of the ball. I have no idea when they made this change because I didn't even bother to look at the replay board until the second half, so well have they trained me to believe that there is nothing of use on it.

Speaking of…

There is no middle ground between nothing and everything. Spartan Stadium put their meat on the table with scoreboards BIGGER and MORE POWERFUL than Michigan Stadium's. Reviews:

You Know What Would Look Really Sweet On The Scoreboards??

    Some f---ing statistics. 5,412 square feet of scoreboard and you can't put any kind of statistics up at any point??? I literally never saw any stats at all the entire night. Hell, with our anemic offense, you only would have needed about 10 square feet for our stats. I'm glad to see that Huntington, Pepsi, GMC, Fly Lansing, and every other f---ing company in this damn state is sponsoring us, but I feel like it wouldn't be too much to ask to set aside some room on the ribbon to put stats up. There were points that the sponsor area on the scoreboard just had the MSU logo or some little design. I don't know why you can't put some stats up at that point. …
    That just really annoyed me and I'm just in a bad mood. Might already be a thread on this. Didn't look. Don't care.
    /rant

The only thing preventing Dave Brandon from doing this is the threat of outright revolt in the fanbase. That's something he's directly stated multiple times in the pass. He's already fitting advertising in anywhere he can. The poles outside the sections went from vaguely-plausible-here-is-our-Stubhub-partnership ads to flat-out Consumer's Power, Whichever Bank is the Sponsor Now things.

It's a slippery slope and any relaxation in the posture will result in the kind of stuff described in the blockquoute above. Remain strong, my people.

Hype videos. They're missing something this year. I really liked the last couple years with the people saying the things; now there are no people saying the things. Probably too late this year, but for 2013 how about something based around the famous Yost quote the HSR deploys on its sidebar?

"But do let me reiterate the spirit of Michigan. It is based upon a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways; an enthusiasm that makes it second nature for Michigan men to spread the gospel of their university to the world's distant outposts; a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours."

--Fielding H. Yost upon his retirement as Michigan's athletic director in 1942.

Maybe you need to tighten it up a little, sure.

Throw that in the mix with last year's "Team, Championships, Heismans" thing and Bo's The Team The Team The Team speech and you've got a nice rotation.

Here

Inside the Boxscore resolves a mystery anyone watching at home experienced:

During one random play in the game, two M defenders ended up hitting the UMass ballcarrier at the same time, from opposite sides. The B1G Network announcer called this a “Malachi Crunch.” There’s nothing like B1G announcers breaking out a 36 year old reference to describe a play. For those still in college reading this diary, the “Malachi Crunch” refers to a demolition derby move employed by the Malachi brothers against Pinky Tuscadero, as shown in a three-part 1976 episode of Happy Days. Fonzi risked his life to rescue Pinky. Then, he baited the Malachi Brothers into trying the move on him. He moved his car at the last moment, causing the Brothers to Crunch themselves. I think providing you with this bit of worthless trivia is entirely consistent with my avatar.

Hawthorne(!) was our leading tackler.

Hoke For Tomorrow:

Will Hagerup - This guy is back and better than ever.  I must have re-watched the 70-yard-in-the-air blast off the facemask of befuddled UMass return man 7 times minimum.  Punts like that could be game-changers going forward.

Elsewhere

Media things and things. Things and stuff from Baumgardner. Meinke notes that Michigan should have Morgan, Beyer and Hopkins back for ND. Meinke on Robinson's assault on the Michigan record book:

Robinson threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns Saturday during No. 17 Michigan's 63-10 win over Massachusetts, passing both Brady and Harbaugh on the school's all-time list to move into fifth place overall.

In addition, he's now just 91 total yards shy of passing Henne and becoming Michigan's all-time leader in career total offense.

"To be honest with you," Robinson said after the game. "The only thing I think about is winning, and coming out and being accountable for my team.

Robinson has now thrown for 5,630 yards in his four-year career, and is 208 shy of Todd Collins for fourth all-time. He's also racked up 9,210 total yards with both his feet and his arm, just 91 shy of Henne's all-time mark.

The Daily on Cooper's day out. Vincent Goodwill at the news has a novel take on things: Denard is too important. Meinke is like "how does Michigan use Denard less" and I'm like "isn't it clear that's never happening by now?"

The Daily on the band.

Blog stuff and stuff. Hinton finds an excellent picture of a terrified umpire:

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I have no idea where this comes from

Hinton's survey of the CFB landscape is heavy on the Big Ten. We're not good!

Outside of Northwestern's 3-0 run in the Smartypants Series, Big Ten teams are 1-8 against their peer group, before accounting for other marks of shame like Minnesota's overtime escape from UNLV, Wisconsin's ongoing struggles with the likes of Northern Iowa and Utah State (see below) and Penn State's loss to Ohio U. of Ohio. Even the apparent bellwether, Ohio State – setting aside the fact that the apparent bellwether is coming off a 6-7 record in 2011 and is ineligible for the conference championship under a first-year coach –legitimately struggled Saturday to put away Cal at home. That still stands along with Michigan State's win over Boise State as the most valuable non-conference skins on Jim Delany's wall, and unless Michigan delivers another dagger to Notre Dame's fragile psyche next week in South Bend, it will have to hold up until the bowl season. Who's looking forward to that?

The prize for winning the conference now appears to be an execution at the hands of Oregon, USC, or Stanford in Pasadena.

MVictors is calling Brandon "#1000SSS" for some reason:

Old 98?:  Speaking of Legends and #1000SSS…while Tom Harmon is listed on the game tickets to be honored October 20th before the Michigan State game there has been no announcement of any formal plan to honor the 1940 Heisman Trophy winner.   My understanding is that it’s not dead yet and U-M is still trying to talk to the family.  Stay tuned. 

My ask: if we don’t honor Harmon, how about honoring Willis Ward on that day, the 78th anniversary of the fateful Georgia Tech game?

(P.S. do you remember the last time Harmon was featured on a Michigan football ticket?  Avert your eyes!).

Touch The Banner:

Oh by the way, f*** you guys. UMass running back Michael Cox, who played for Michigan from 2008-2011, had a pretty solid game for the Minutemen.  He ended with 18 carries for 76 yards (4.2 yards per carry) behind a bad offensive line with not much of an aerial attack.  There were a couple plays where he ran east-and-west when there was no hole, losing a chunk of yards.  But he had some impressive runs against a Michigan defense that should have been able to clamp down on the running game.  I never really thought Cox was a superstar, but I did think that he deserved a shot to play when the aforementioned Smith was being used as a feature back.  The knocks on him were always fumbling (he never fumbled at Michigan, though there was a botched exchange in this game), learning the playbook (I didn't see any missed assignments in this game), and running east-west too much (perhaps a fair criticism).

Everyone knew that was coming. I don't necessarily disagree, but the guy just reverses field all the time, and this has to drive coaches nuts.

Photos from Maize and Blue Nation. Here's Cox saying hi postgame:

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UMGoBlue also has a gallery.

HSR:

Ordinary is underrated.  Seriously.  Christianity calls any of its non holiday seasons "Ordinary Time" after all.  But, if we have learned nothing else from our social media revolution, it's that there is a certain beauty and joy in the every day, in the expected, in the run of the mill. That is, as Ann Howard Creel put it, the Magic of Ordinary Days.

Other recaps from Maize and Go Blue and Holding the Rope, plus M&GB taking a quick look at ND.

Comments

readyourguard

September 17th, 2012 at 11:26 AM ^

I very much enjoyed reading this.  Nice post-game, Monday morning content. 

The pick 6 was a horrible throw by Denard.  An out route can never, ever be thrown inside. Never, ever, ever.  Throw it towards the sidelines, to a spot only the WR can get it.  Did I mention that an out route should never be thrown inside?

I'm less concerned with the D Line than I am with Avery and Taylor.  Taylor seems to be playing off by about 8 yards (probably so he doesn't get beat deep and shake his confidence) and Avery just isn't physical enough. 

 

Erik_in_Dayton

September 17th, 2012 at 11:35 AM ^

The defense just doesn' t put any pressure on an offense in any way.  They don't stuff the run.  They don't play tight coverage.  They don't rush the passer.  They may well improve, but it's hard for me right now to see Michigan in anything other than shootouts (at best) against ND, OSU, and Nebraska.  The MSU game could be a very ugly match-up of strength on strength and weakness on weakness. 

FreddieMercuryHayes

September 17th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

So just because Ojemudia is a highly touted prospect, it means a 230 lb true freshman shouldn't ever get crushed by a RS JR 6-7 302 starting RT just because he plays for UMass?    Because our small true freshman got crushed, it pretty much single handedly gave up an 8 yard run to Cox.  I agree that our DL has be underwhelming, but just because someone plays for UMass does not mean all size and/or experience differences should just be disregarded.

Magnus

September 17th, 2012 at 1:19 PM ^

First of all, Ojemudia didn't start.  The starters were Jake Ryan, Jibreel Black, Craig Roh, and Frank Clark, with Gordon, Heitzman, Campbell, Washington, Brink, and Ojemudia mixing in.

Second, I'm not suggesting that Ojemudia should dominate an experienced, large offensive tackle.  All I'm saying is that "What's there to be proud of when running against Michigan's DL?" ignores the fact that UMass's offensive line is terrible.

Cox produced at Michigan, but the knock was that he didn't play against good opponents.  Now he had a decent day behind a bad offensive line against a superior opponent, and people are trying to find ways to dismiss it for a different reason.

GOBLUE4EVR

September 17th, 2012 at 1:33 PM ^

issue with cox while he was at michigan is that he didn't put the time in to learn the RR's offence or the play book and thats why he didn't play unless it was garbage time. the first time i heard this was in 2010 and then i heard it again on saturday from a former michigan athlete (not football) that hung out with the football players. 

both people who told me this also said that he was by far the best RB on the team and if he would have just put time in to learn everything he would have played.

Brhino

September 17th, 2012 at 11:37 AM ^

Just you watch... Cooper Barton is going to grow up to be a 5-star interior linebacker, and all of a sudden parading him around the stadium during a time out is going to be the smartest thing Dave Brandon's ever done.

GunnersApe

September 17th, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

Positives were UM showed nothing to ND while playing a scrimmage verse Brian Kelly's former OC in UMASS's head coach. We got a great serving of vanilla football and I'm happy.

Magnus

September 17th, 2012 at 11:46 AM ^

Brian, just be glad Cox didn't get to 100 yards.  I promised a huge diary post if he did, but alas, he fell short.  Instead, I just wrote one paragraph on my own site.

However, I will be making T-shirts soon.

ST3

September 17th, 2012 at 11:58 AM ^

Combine the Jingo's with what Brian wrote in the preview column

Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday: A rain of pulled pork falls from the sky. Walk-ons are deployed. The weather is lovely.

And I have to wonder what kind of strange diet he's been on.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 12:21 PM ^

I mean, I know, you take for granted the fact that he put up huge numbers. But the pick six was really bad; the fumble at the goal line was really bad (and the pitch was wide open as usual these days). The fact that it was like a good high school team vs a good Big Ten team allows Denard to get those numbers. But who would get it instead? I dunno, Northfleet for getting a huge hype train rolling on one end around? Smith for a badass spin move? Funchess for being really tall and lanky? DG for tip toeing the sideline? Dileo for being the real Dileo? Roundtree for still living? I dunno man, I just don't know. It seemed like everyone had their mistakes, which is a shame against the compitition.

I may even say "F it, let's give it to Ross." Dude is shot out of a canon doing his best Ta'o impression. I don't really know if he had a great game, I had to watch it on a crappy internet stream, but it seems almost redundant and forced to give it to someone [Denard] who also had two really, really bad plays. It also seems like asking too much. I just don't know man, I just don't know. I say Hoke double point goes to the future, 'cause once things get comfortable, that's what fans really want to see. Oh, and Bellomy for still being alive today with our backup OTs.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

I wasn't personally attacking the kid and wasn't in anyway making fun of a terrible situation that he is facing. I didn't spell his name correctly and said "to hell with Notre Dame", which is not really distasteful like you are making my comment seem. You have completely turned my comment into something it's not

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 12:19 PM ^

I said it when Michigan was looking heavily at 3 DTs/NTs, but Day was my favorite of the bunch then. I think Pipkins will be really good, and he may still be the best of the bunch (time will tell), but Sheldon Day for ND is already tough to hold down. He would have dominated at the 3-tech and potentially even spot duty on the Nose for Michigan already. The guy has quick hands and a first step, very similar to Mike Martin. It's too early and the opponent is kind to begin worrying at all about Pipkins, but watch out for Day this Saturday. Kid can play.

BigBlue86

September 17th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

continue to confuse me. Not only is the person in charge of the game info such as down and yards-to-go wrong nearly every time, but the lack of stats until garbage time isn't helpful. At least twice my brother noticed the video board stat guy thought Umass was going the opposite direction and ticked off the yardage in the wrong direction. 

Surely they can create an overlay-style system that puts one long transparent band across the bottom of the screen displaying down and yards plus stats. Then use the bottom mini video display for player stats (correct me if I'm wrong but it currently only shows Player X's name and class and hometown), and other game stats. That Sparty ranter has a good point, and in our case, that mini screen underneath the board can be better used instead of putting "DEFENSE" and "MARCHING-BAND" on it.

Yostal

September 17th, 2012 at 12:24 PM ^

Obviously we're going to co-sign on Brian's idea for next year's Hype Video.

Also, I believe MVictors is using #1000SSS for the entire Athletic Department (address 1000 South State Street, which I also believe is or was the name of Dave Brandon's blog.)

PurpleStuff

September 17th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

Last year at this time, after facing an 8-5 ND team, and two directional Michigan schools (all at home), the defense was giving up 4.8 ypc.  The defensive line had made 4 TFL (one each for the four starters), one sack (Roh), and broken up 1 pass.  Ryan/Beyer had added 2 TFL from the SLB position (both from Ryan).

This year after facing the best team in the country on a neutral site as well as AFA and UMass at home, the defense is giving up 4.3 ypc.  Six different linemen have combined for 8.5 TFL, the line has posted 1.5 sacks and broken up 4 passes as well.  Ryan/Gordon have added another 3 TFL and 2 more PBU.  Ryan is also credited with hitting the opposing QB twice, a stat we had failed to register at all at this point a season ago.

I know we like to instantly mythologize any past success while hand-wringing in the present, but this defensive front is playing better and making a lot more plays than last year's was at this time, and they have done it against superior competition.  I think they've got a pretty good shot to keep ND under 500 yards of offense (something last year's squad failed to do) and walk away with a 4th straight victory over the Irish.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 12:30 PM ^

And that's fine. Stats and numbers are nice. Computer polls can be good sometimes. But there is a lot here to put on the eye test, and last year, even though the yardage seemed worse, and the numbers seem similar against possibly weaker compitition, they appeared much, much closer to becoming a good bunch. It was their first year in the system after all, and had the talent to at least get a push, hold a block, etc that this year, with the eye test, is further behind.

Again, stats paint a picture, but not the whole pictures. It's nice to help settle some fans down a bit, but I think watching the two you see a group that is much closer to becoming a very good D-line in last year's squad compared to this years. Not saying they will be awful this year, but I am not seeing a way that they are better.

PurpleStuff

September 17th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

Please tell me what you saw when Alex Carder was marching up and down the field against us and his only pressure came when we blitzed Kovacs, when EMU was running it down our throat consistently despite zero passing game threat, and when ND was racking up 6.0 ypc and scoring at will any time they didn't turn the ball over, all while no linemen were making positive plays of any kind that convinced you that that group would be good.

The fact is you knew the names of the guys coming into the season and this year you didn't.  You also remember last year's group being awesome because they went 11-2 and played pretty well on defense a few times later in the year.  If you can point to some fantastic shit they were going early last year that just wasn't resulting in any actual good defense I'll be extremely surprised.