I Got Jingos

Submitted by Brian on 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

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 1:23 PM ^

It's watching the game. I know you want to simply believe numbers and pretend like I just completely forgot the early games last year (because I don't think everything is magical, I must be stupid), but they really don't tell the whole story. Eastern attacked the edges of Michigan's defense, a lot of their numbers was on the linebackers. Western and ND spread us out and gashed Michigan for being undisciplned and getting out of their lanes, not because the D-line wasn't getting a good push. It was a brand new system for these guys last year, they were going to improve more drastically throughout the year.

I knew the guys coming into this year and last year. Michigan still doesn't have a 3-tech that can get a push. Black or Roh both struggle to hold up out there and both are better at 5 tech. Anyone at nose has had the same amount of coaching from these coaches as Mike Martin has (and now more) and they are further behind than Mike Martin. There isn't a push, in fact, they are often getting pushed backwards. It was much more on the LBs at the start of last year and an undisciplined D-line than actual talent.

I'm not saying that Michigan at the start of last year was as good as they were at the end. But there was more talent on that D-line and they showed the potential to be better. You could see it if you watched them play, both in the past and how they were playing then. You don't see that as much this year.

Look, I think this years squad can be alright. But I don't see the talent to be better than last year. Comparing a group that had very little good coaching (according to their words) until last year to a group that has had the same amount of time coaching plus a spring and fall practice isn't fair to last years guys. This group will improve, and there is a lot that is difficult to tell from the first few games, but I see a legit cause for concern that don't simply come out in the numbers. Most teams don't improve as much as last years defense did throughout the course of the year.

If you want to drink the koolaid that's fine. If you want to use numbers that only tell part of the story, that's alright to do as well. I think there is a push and a dominance that O-lines are showing over our D-line that they didn't have last year, despite those numbers, and that's something numbers can't show. That's fine that most will just trash this stance, but ask Brian if he sees a difference. Ask others, there is a difference. You can ignore that and just look at numbers, but football isn't just a game of numbers when we want it to be and a game of other things when it makes Michigan seem better. There are concerns on the D-line

Sten Carlson

September 17th, 2012 at 1:56 PM ^

Coyote,

I see your point, but I also see the point that Purple Stuff is making.

I think you're right, the eye test says that something just ain't right on the DL.  But, if I remember correctly (a Purple Stuff aptly pointed out) I remember thinking the same thing last year about the defense.  However, your point is well taken -- it was mostly LB play, not DL play that was causing concern for Team 132's defense.  Further, I think your point about the fact that the DL this season have MORE time under Mattison & Hoke than the DL from last season, thus indicating that they're less talented.

From what I've seen thus far, starting with the Bama game, is that the DL aren't able to get off their block with any consistency.  It's like as soon as the opposing makes contact, they're basically out of the play.  I was pleased with the penetration that the DL got at time on passing plays versus Bama, but against the run, they seem quite ineffective.  What do we hear in the player and coach pressers?  TECHNIQUE TECHNIQUE TECHNIQUE.  That was the very same thing we heard last year about the LB's.  To me, if you're going to have problems at a position group, it's best to have technique problems as those tend to get better with time and repetitiion.  Further, it seems to be one of those things where a player will have one of those "ah ha!" moments and go from so-so to good seemingly overnight.

But, Purple Stuff has a point too.  The stats aren't horrible, and are skewed by the fact that Michigan's DL played against the Road Graters on Bama's OL, and the gimmick offense of AF.  There are not many DL's that perform well against these two offenses.  Yeah, UMass gained some yards on the ground, but it never looked to me that things were out of control.  By contrast, there were many times last season early last season where it looked like Michigan's defense was going to get steamrolled by inferior opponents.  It wasn't until after the third game of the season that the defense seemed to come into its own.

We're going to know a lot more after Saturday.

M-Wolverine

September 17th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

Because I don't know what HE was saying last year. Maybe he was one of the guys saying "hey, we got the win, and this looks like a team that will develop and win a BCS bowl."  But most people were freaking out around this time last year. It was all Denard on offense, Eastern ran all over us (The one thing I do question SC on...that Eastern "attacked the corners and LBers, which, what did Air Force do? I think we stuffed the FB up the middle mostly)....and after ND we had a historically exciting win, and people were bitching up a storm. Not on Wednesday after UFR and cooled analysis had taken place...but Saturday night! Sunday!  Even in the game recap. 

Now maybe this team is headed to a lack luster performance on the line all season long. It's certainly possible.  But anyone saying "yeah, but I knew last year it was different" was definitely out on an island, because people thought we were pretty awful, frankly, up to the Nebraska game. Because even with a Northwestern win, MSU and Iowa got people all critical again, and I don't think Illinois pulled them out of that funk.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 5:13 PM ^

I'm not saying that the D-line was great the whole season last year. There were some issues that caused some concern. But those issues seemed more correctable and the talent seemed a bit higher. It was also, as I stated previously, their first year in the system.

I want to make it clear that I don't think this years D-line is DOOM! I just don't think they have the skill set this season to be one of the best groups in the nation 2/3 of the way through like last years group did. The numbers may be comparable at this point but I don't see the ceiling being as high because I see fundamental problems in this years bunch that won't allow them to reach such a high level. They can be good enough, and they can even good, I think coaching and game experience will help them continue to improve, just not to the degree that made last years bunch so special. I think there is legit cause for worry, and you can't just point to last year and say "see, we will be great" because that's not how it works. I guess it's my eye test, and I could be wrong (I've been wrong many a time before), and a lot of others could be wrong too, but that's how I see it at this point.

Magnus

September 17th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

There are two guys (Washington, Campbell) starting this season who were sitting on the bench behind Will Heininger (Will Heininger!) last year, a guy who started for a full season and managed 23 tackles and 1 sack.

If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about the interior of the defensive line, then I'm not sure you can be convinced otherwise.

PurpleStuff

September 17th, 2012 at 2:35 PM ^

This year Campbell has already made 12 tackles and recorded 1 sack (more than halfway to Will H.'s production from all last season).  Washington has added another 8 tackles.  They've also only gotten 3 (of a possible 6) starts between them and have rotated in and out a lot as the coaching staff looks for more situational matchups (neither played much against UMass's spread).

Both of these guys have moved back and forth between offense and defense and neither has gotten extensive game action up to this point.  They are also both big bodied guys who were blue-chip recruits and have been on campus a while.  They have talent and expecting them to improve with experience is a fairly safe bet in my view.

Throw in Ash and Pipkins (two other young, high ceiling guys seeing action for the first time) and you have a lot of options in the middle and the ability to rest guys.  Add in a much improved edge rush with Clark and Ryan really hitting their stride and I think this group is going to be very good and very deep very soon.

aiglick

September 17th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

It's a great debate you and Coyote are having. I do think quantitative and qualitative data are both valid.

I'm just glad it seems the team has the right attitude in terms of putting in the work to get better week in and week out to potentially do some very special things this season.

We are not Alabama yet but we seem to be heading on the right trajectory. It's still early but we will get a very valuable data point this Saturday which I will be proudly attending with a Chicago contingent of Wolverine faithful.

Magnus

September 18th, 2012 at 12:44 AM ^

I'm not saying they're inferior to Heininger.  I'm simply saying that if they were so good, they wouldn't have been sitting behind him.  Mike Martin was a beast, and Will Heininger was just a guy.  Unfortunately, Campbell and Washington both seem to be somewhere between their predecessors and no single guy on the DL is a "very good" player.  So as a whole, they're just mediocre.

Magnus

September 17th, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

Michigan started off slowly last year, but we knew that Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen were good.  This year we don't know that Quinton Washington and William Campbell are good; in fact, past evidence suggests they're not going to be particularly successful.

I see what you're saying and they still have time to improve, but I think we're facing a serious downgrade on the defensive line this season.  I hope I'm wrong.

PurpleStuff

September 17th, 2012 at 2:49 PM ^

I think the big difference is, like you say, perception.  It didn't matter what RVB and Martin did early on (not much), it was known/assumed they were good players who had played a ton of football.  This year the overwhelming attitude was "these guys suck" despite their raw ability and high recruiting rankings.  For whatever reason (presumably not standing next to them) people look at BWC, Washington, Ash, and Pipkins and assume that even with three guys coaching them simultaneously we won't be able to find two pretty good players or at least a solid rotation.  To me that seems nutty.  The constant coachspeak about being better up front doesn't help the perception as people just assume everybody's fucking up constantly and the coaches are super pissed about the situation. 

On a different note, that same benefit of the doubt hasn't yet been extended to guys like Ryan and Clark who most people fail to realize (yourself excluded) are two fantastic players who are going to have monster years.  With a deeper LB group that didn't lose anyone to graduation and a solid secondary this should be a better defense than last year going forward.

ca_prophet

September 17th, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

"With a deeper LB group that didn't lose anyone to graduation and a solid secondary this should be a better defense than last year going forward."

The problem with this is that only elite NFL LBs can make plays when eating O-lineman on 4 out of five plays.  Simply put, with what we've shown so far this year and what, say, MSU's shown, they would be nuts to do much other than run power plays right up the middle until we show we can stop it.  Decent-to-good LBs might be able to prevent most of those plays from breaking big, but they won't stop the plays before 3-5 yards.

That's a recipe for a couple of soul-killing 20-plays drives that keep our offense - the best part of our team - off the field for an entire quarter.

As Magnus notes, at this point last year, we knew we had some talent, particularly on the line, and a coach with a good reputation.  Now we think we've got a great coach and considerable talent+upside, but mostly in the back 7, and we're hoping Mattison can work his magic to build an effective D.

We'll find out more against ND; they moved the ball on a top-notch MSU defense.  If we can't force ND to put the ball in the air, it really won't matter how good our back seven is.

 

 

mikel796

September 17th, 2012 at 12:52 PM ^

Brian said something about averting your eyes....but I had to look.  Did anyone else notice the price on that ticket?  $50?  Wow.  I hope they don't keep going up at that rate....

profitgoblue

September 17th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

There was a discussion on this in a previous post several days ago and several people implied that Borges wanted to distinguish himself from Rodriguez last year.  Not sure if I agree with it either but it sure seemed like the "blazer" would have worked on several occasions last year . . . what other explanation is there for not running it?

Ziff72

September 17th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

I can't believe Brian is not bitching about running that jet sweep variation.   Michigan has had at least a 20 yr old tradition with  each coach of running some type of trick or new play against the worst teams on the schedule to then come out in the big game and run vanilla.   I hate it and it makes no sense.  

Someone will point out that it is setting something else up for the next game.   I like the theory but it has never happened in 20 years.

Somebody else will say that it will force the other teams to prep for it.   Football coaches are lizards and don't sleep so it will take 15 minutes of film study to know how to stop it.  Also, don't we waste the same amount of practice time running the play?

Arrrgghh!!  HATE.   IT.

 

 

 

Magnus

September 17th, 2012 at 1:43 PM ^

In my experience, kids running trick plays learn to run them very quickly because it's something "different" and "exciting."  I doubt it takes very long at all to install a halfback pass, a double pass, etc. at Michigan.

El Jeffe

September 17th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

I think the bubble vs. laZZZer screen feud can be solved simply by calling it a blazer screen. And not the gold kind worn by men who run third-tier bowl games. A blazer is something or someone that blazes, yo! And not, like, smokes weed either. Blazes like as in, "is blazing fast."

On second thought, maybe it requires too much explanation to be cool.

profitgoblue

September 17th, 2012 at 1:42 PM ^

On of my favorite statements of all time on a message board comes from the above Sparty fan:

"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"

That's gold.  Its a new meme:  NotSIAP, DLDK.

Hannibal.

September 17th, 2012 at 1:53 PM ^

Our first three games have been more indicative on defense than people are giving them credit for, and that means that people are setting themselves up for big time disappointment.  Mike Cox had more yards in the first quarter than he had combined against UConn and Indiana.  We didn't stop UMass  They stopped themselves with 9 penalties on offense.  This is a team that had barely 300 total yards combined after playing UConn and Indiana.  Our defensive line got absolutely no pressure on UMass's QB, despite their offensive line being abysmal.  We have three sacks so far this year and no INTs.  There is more then enough data right now to conclude that this defense is beyond terrible.

Sten Carlson

September 17th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

Hannibal,

There is more then enough data right now to conclude that this defense is beyond terrible.

I don't see it this way because we, as Michigan fans, know what a "beyond terrible" defense actually looks like, unfortunately. It looks like a team that couldn't stop anyone from racking up season high yard totals -- do you remember the last time Michigan played UMass?

Every play in a game and practice is an opportunity for the players to get better, and for the coaches to coach the players up. Further, every play gives the coaches a chance to see what the players can and cannot do. The difficulty in playing a team like Bama first is that the staff really wasn't sure what would come out when the team took the field. They've now seen three games, and should now have a good idea of what they need to do, schematically, to emphasize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

I didn't notice Mattison giving the DL any help against the UMass running game -- probably because it wasn't really a threat. UMass ran the ball 36 times for 112 yards for an average of 3.1 yards, no TD's. Yes, Cox had 76 yards and averaged 4.9 yards, but it's wasn't like UMass ran all over Michigan's defense. Contrast that with 42 rushes for 232 yards and an average of 5.2 against Bama, and 71 for 291 yards for an average of 4.1 yards and 3 TD's, and the UMass game doesn't look that bad.

Obviously, I realize that UMass is a MAC team, and a bad one at that. But, I think people are freaking out as if UMass was gashing the defense, and they weren't.

Hannibal.

September 17th, 2012 at 3:02 PM ^

The last time that we played UMass, they were a much better team on offense, and they didn't kill all of their own drives with penalties and terrible QB play. 

Even the 2010 team held UConn to 10 points because the Huskies couldn't capitalize on opportunities.  Speaking of UConn, they held UMass to fewer yards in their entire game than we gave up in the first quarter.

Before this game, everyone was predicting another "Baby Seal U", because UMass has a "Baby Seal U" caliber offense.  Remember when everyone predicted that if UConn and Indiana could shut them down on offense, that UMass probably wouldn't get a first down against us?  Our defense got outplayed by Baby Seal U at the line of scrimmage,  but we "held" them to six points because of a missed field goal, turnovers that limited UMass's posessions, and nine penalties committed by the UMass offense. 

snarling wolverine

September 17th, 2012 at 3:23 PM ^

UMass had one missed field goal, and one turnover late in the fourth quarter.  If you want to argue that it wasn't as satisfying a defensive performance as it could have been, OK, but you're going way too far with this.  We won by 50.  In a game that lopsided, you can't realistically expect your guys to play with top-notch intensity on every down.

 

 

Elmer

September 17th, 2012 at 2:00 PM ^

On Denard's interception, was that also a lousy play design?  The offensive line goes to the left and Denard has two unblocked guys staring him in the face?  If he had a little more time he could have hit one of the other receivers who were open.

Space Coyote

September 17th, 2012 at 4:22 PM ^

But that is very seldom actual play design. There was more likely a bad call by the offensive line and/or Denard to set up the pass pro than something inherently wrong with the play design to set up that sort of situation. Maybe they thought it was going to be picked up by RBs (again, I don't remember the complete situation of the play, so I don't know), but that sounds like a bad call or not recognizing the threat from the defense and where the shift should go.

tvaduva

September 17th, 2012 at 2:18 PM ^

Great spot on that costumed man. We've got a good variety of specators wears interesting costumes at the games (chicken suits, Star Wars,etc.). It's fun to look around during the dead times, since the video boards and such aren't always helpful.

snarling wolverine

September 17th, 2012 at 3:20 PM ^

Speaking of Spartan Stadium, that ribbon-board thing (which runs along the entire wall below the scoreboards) is awful.  It's way, way too bright and really distracting.  I do not want to see something like that in Michigan Stadium.

k1400

September 18th, 2012 at 12:15 AM ^

".... 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."

Now that right there is funny, I don't care who you are.