Last Days Of Disco Comment Count

Brian September 10th, 2012 at 12:11 PM

9/8/2012 – Michigan 31, Air Force 25 – 1-1



It's been a long time since the first game of Michigan's football season wasn't at home. It was 1998. Michigan headed to South Bend to get annihilated by Autry Denson and the option in the opening game of their title defense. The box score lo these many years later is horrific:

                      Michigan  Notre Dame 
First downs                  24          19 
Rushed-yards             38-150      55-280 
Passing yards               322          96 
Sacked-yards lost          3-29         0-0 
Return yards                  6          14 
Passes                  28-44-0      4-10-1 
Punts                    2-31.0      2-44.0 
Penalties-yards            4-30        5-32 
Time of possession        29:46       30:14 

Michigan led 13-9 before four straight ND touchdowns turned it into a laugher. Michigan got blown out despite outgaining the opponent by 100 yards and allowing the opposition to complete all of four passes. They fumbled all of the balls. They stopped none of the options. That game was 36-13 before Michigan tacked on a cosmetic touchdown at the end.

This was the Michigan-ND rivalry in the 90s. If all you know about it is 38-0, "oh, wide open," and Michigan ripping Irish hearts out in the last 30 seconds, you are fortunate. I know better because I was in college then.

The next week I sat, despondent, in the student section as a group of resilient (and probably drunk) guys in front of me chanted "Cross is Boss" in the waning minutes of Michigan making a blowout loss to Donovan McNabb and Syracuse look pretty on the scoreboard. Donovan McNabb was in college once. I said it was a long time ago.

Walter Cross went over 100 yards that day, all of it racked up long after the game had been decided. Syracuse, too, had murdered us with the option.


Saturday started strangely blank. I wrote this thing two years ago about the opening of football season that I already kind of wrote back when far fewer people were reading this blog and have to force myself not to write again every Friday before Michigan starts playing football again:

I can say that most of the time I like that I find football important. It gives life a rhythm. I think my favorite part happens on the first day of the new year, when I file into the stadium an hour early. It's still mostly empty then. You can spread out in the sun. In my mental picture of this my seats are high up in the corner so I can take in the whole vast breadth of the stadium. Perched there, looking down and across, the future stretches out across the horizon. Anything seems possible, and the wait is over.

I hadn't felt a lack of possibilities since 1998, when Michigan was not going to repeat as national champions even before Donovan McNabb showed up. I went in at the usual time and sat in the usual spot and felt… not that. It turns out getting hammered 41-14 in your opening game restricts dreams of future glories quite a bit. It's like having New Year's Day on the eighth, a week after you found out you're not getting a promotion. You found this out because your boss stapled it to a bobcat he mailed to you. The stitches still itch.

So when the band rolled out, it was weird. I did the thing with the clapping and the raising of the fist. The voice in the head that has been going ermagerd fortbaw ermagerddddd the last 13 years was not there. Alabama had taken it, ripped its pigtails out, stomped on it, and returned it to me. They said "what?" confrontationally. They asked if I was going 7958871928_ab4580a5a5_z[1]to do anything about it. I said "no, sir." It sat in the corner, petting itself, maybe whispering ermagerd fortbaw, maybe not. It was hard to make out.

Two plays later, Denard Robinson ripped through the line, cut directly towards me, and was one on one with a safety with an angle. An angle and no chance in hell. Turbo was engaged, and Denard shot into space with the same breathtaking speed he showed after fumbling a his first snap against Western Michigan.

ermagerd ermagerd ermagerddddddd

On the first play of the second half, Denard ran 50 yards in one shoe, making a cut on his sock.



sydn3[1]Cross (@ right via MDS) was a freshman that year. He must have thought a hundred yards in his second college game was a hell of a start. Must have thought he would be watching other guys take the meaningless carries pretty soon. But Cross never cracked a hundred yards again. He'd only match the ten carries he had against the Orangemen three more times. Once a year Michigan would blow the doors off the worst team in the Big Ten; Cross would dust himself off to pick up 40 or 50 yards as the stadium emptied and walk-ons made their moms proud.

I liked him, though. I remembered Cross Is Boss whenever he'd hit the field, and how those deranged guys in front of me were taking whatever they could from the game in front of them. If the only thing it offered was an opportunity to ironically root for some guy to rack up more meaningless yards than had ever been gained by a guy in a winged helmet, that's what they were going to do. I was still sitting on those seats as Michigan fell to 0-2, but I was less despondent. Cross was boss. If those guys could be okay with life, I could maybe be too.

So, yeah, Michigan's definitively not elite. The defense got torn up by a triple option team, and the offense got stoned against Alabama, and I guess I'll be okay with that, because if some dudes in 1998 can carve some fandom out of Walter Cross, how can you not be excited about Denard Robinson's final games in Michigan Stadium?

Fortbaw. Let's get it.


Via mgovideo:

Eric's photoset:

Things That Still Aren't Bullets

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_3BRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. Denard, obviously. More total yardage than your team gets is an auto-win.

Honorable mention: Funchess, Gardner, Joe Bolden, James Ross, Jake Ryan(?).


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

Welcome, freshmen. Not really. Hey, remember when this was finally the year when Michigan didn't rely on freshmen all over the place? Yeah… nyet. Michigan rolled out not one but two true freshman ILBs (James Ross and Joe Bolden) on Air Force's penultimate drive—the last one they actually used their offense on. Hoke would later say Bolden played so much because Colerain, his high school, ran the option, but even so… man.

Meanwhile, Ondre Pipkins, Mario Ojemudia, and Keith Heitzman (a redshirt freshman) saw plenty of time on the defensive line and Jarrod Wilson was the guy who came in when Michigan went to nickel. You make shake your fist at Rodriguez's last couple of recruiting classes now.

It wasn't that bad on offense, where the only freshmen to get a lot of playing time were AJ Williams and Devin Funchess. The former is like okay, we'll deal, and the latter was going to play early on damn near any team in the country.

Speaking of…


not having shoes is the coolest now (Upchurch)

FUNCHESS. I try not to get all I told you so because I have occasionally not been right about things—like those three solid years when I thought Rodriguez was going to work out—but dang I told you so. Not that this is any great scouting feat on my part. Pretty much everyone who went to that open practice and saw a 6'5" guy with freaky long arms getting sent deep on wheel routes thought "holy crap" to himself and wrote about it on the internet.

I'm not sure if it was wheel one, wheel two, or not-a-waggle deep bomb that was the turning point, but by the time it was over Funchess had 106 yards receiving and was the first guy out of everyone's mouths in the postgame. It doesn't take a keen eye to think that guy has potential.

In Funchess we saw the beginnings of Michigan's Swiss Army Offense. They lined him up as an H-back and sent him on a wheel against a linebacker, who had no chance because he was too slow. They sent him deep against a safety, who had no chance because he was too small. That's the stuff Borges has spent years doing instead of figuring out how to tweak a read option, and in Funchess we saw the future.

Also the present.

image_thumb91[1]…and introducing Chasing Jim Mandich. Is this too early? No. For one, I'd rather put up pictures of Bo and Mandich 20 times than, like, four. For two, it's the internet. This is how we do. Suck it, guy on twitter who told me to calm down and that it was just one game. WOO!

Jim Mandich is Michigan's all-time tight end receiving yardage leader with 1494 yards. After posting Michigan's first 100-yard receiving day by a tight end since Jerame Tuman did it in 1997, Devin Funchess has 106 yards receiving and needs 1389 to pass Mandich. At his current pace he needs just over 26 more games to do so.

That was the best thing, now the worst thing. Fitzgerald Toussaint: eight carries, seven yards. Commence offensive line panic. Do not hold any in reserve. If you end up in a cornfield wearing nothing but a traffic cone holding a sign that says "AIR FORCE DEFENSIVE LINEMEN ARE 260 POUNDS," this is about right, give or take a jockstrap.

I don't know, man. Live I didn't see anything Toussaint could have done except collapse in a pile of bodies. When Carl Grapentine forgot to turn off his mic and told the stadium "they can't do anything with that" after Michigan set another down on fire by running from under center, he was only telling everyone in the stadium what they were already thinking. Most of those plays went right, we're already nervous about Schofield… conclusion… yeah.

NORFLEET. hey drew dileo what's up you're all catching this ball wrong yoinkkkkkkk now I'm going to run over here bad idea getting tackled bouncing back not getting tackled running back over here different way different direction funnnnnnnnn I am the NORFLEEET zip that was like two guys oops here's like three guys awwwwww now I'm on the ground oh drew dileo you look sad let me apologize I am the NORFLEET this kind of thing just happens sometimes go with the flowwwwwwwwwwww

Denard accuracy. Seemed pretty good, right? The interception was zinged too hard—I'll give him a pass on the "high" bit because Vincent Smith—and the third down Gardner catch-that-wasn't was short. But those are MAs in UFR jargon, and if you put college football in your head all Saturday you'll see plenty of quarterbacks make similar errors. The only throws into coverage were a couple at the end of the half when you may as well force it.

I've seen some complaints about Denard not seeing open guys. I'll check for that as far as is possible given the tape, but if the costs of the Borges transition are an inability to make tiny run game adjustments the payoff tentatively appears to be an ability to put the ball where Denard wants it to be, most of the time.

It helps when you're throwing to Funchess and Gardner, too. The Funchess touchdown was short, but given the target that's what you want to do. As long as that guy is jumping for the ball it doesn't matter that you made him slow up, because he's winning that battle every time.

Crazy enough to work? Air Force's combination of triple option with Oregon's tempo and a pro-style-esque formation blizzard was fun to watch in the same way Nebraska's double pitch was last year… except it was far less fun because instead of one seemingly indefensible play it was dozens of probably defensible ones that weren't.

Q: think that could work at a major college level? Georgia Tech is doing it in the ACC, yes, but I think the option + jet tempo combo would be absolute hell to play against if the guys getting the ball were Denards and Norfleets instead of 5'7" academy guys. It was kind of hell to play against even against guys who are going pro in blowing things up. You're getting gashed, you have to substitute to keep guys fresh, you are freaking out and guaranteed to let some guy run free for a 70-yard score…


worst waldo. Upchurch

…unless he bobbles the ball and falls over.

Maybe it wouldn't work against Alabama but pair that Air Force offense, personnel and all, with a quality defense and you're winning nine games in the Big Ten. Falcon total offense against BCS-ish foes the last three years:

  • 2012 Michigan: 417
  • 2011 ND: 565
  • 2011 TCU: 416
  • 2010 Oklahoma: 458
  • 2010 TCU: 231
  • 2010 Utah: 411
  • 2010 GT: 287 (in a 14-7 win)

So unless you also run a flexbone triple option or are the 13-0 2010 TCU team that finished first in total and scoring defense and won the Rose Bowl by holding Wisconsin to 19 points (on 385 yards, FWIW), Air Force is going up and down the field on you.

You'd need a lot of breathing room to get that up and going, granted. Troy Calhoun just tweaked the thing Fisher DeBerry had been doing for decades. Implementing it from scratch would be painful at first, but if you're an Illinois or Minnesota or Rutgers or Cal, it might be worth a shot. I'd loathe it if Minnesota gradually became Air Force++ and Michigan had to deal with it annually. Therefore someone should try it.

Calhoun's just 46. If someone can pry him away from his alma mater, I promise to praise that coaching hire up and down. He even releases his Coaches' Poll ballot weekly.

Does that make you feel better? Those ND/TCU/Oklahoma numbers are just like ours. ND finished last year 30th in total D, 18th FEI. TCU was 32nd, 42nd FEI (schedule issues). Oklahoma was 53rd, but a shocking 4th(!) in FEI.

FEI has Air Force's offense 33rd and 32nd in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Last year's mark was better than Georgia, VT, Michigan State, Iowa, Auburn, and Florida State. With guys who are going pro in going Mach 3. This just happens when you sign Air Force up, even when you don't do it the week after playing Alabama.

"No, not really" -you. I hear you. All the rotation and getting zero out of the defensive line and freshmen and etc. What if I bring up last year's game #2 against Eastern Michigan?


We had all of those happen on Saturday. Nowadays "non-Martin" DTs are all of them, so expand that slice of the pie. The coaches worked some things out. They've got a virtual bye next week against UMass, so they'll have two weeks to prep for Notre Dame—this time State takes the bullet and we get the rebound.

I'm hoping we see some progress against the Irish, who couldn't run at all against Purdue and got Everett Golson sacked five times. Yeah, no Cierre Wood, but Purdue's rush defense was appalling last year.

It doesn't look good but hold out a couple weeks before hitting the panic button.

Also, Alabama couldn't run on WKU. LA LA LA NOT LISTENING

Marmot, city. I've heard from a number of people that Air Force mistimed a lot of their plays and ended up having Arena-style guys running at the line of scrimmage before several plays. Here's TTB:

The officials were terrible. Terrible. Air Force's first touchdown should have been called back for illegal procedure.  Quarterback Connor Dietz tossed to A-back Cody Getz, who beat everyone to the edge.  In the meantime, the wing started moving forward  prior to the snap like he was in the CFL and chopped down safety Jordan Kovacs, who was responsible for the pitch.  Without that forward momentum, Kovacs - Michigan's best open-field tackler - very well could have stopped Getz before the goal line.  Later in the game, Air Force converted on a key third down when both the quarterback and the running back - who were in a shotgun formation - started moving to their right before the ball was snapped . . . and a slot receiver was already in motion.  So three  guys were moving prior to the snap, and the play was allowed to stand.  Those were obvious, blatant non-calls and each one could have had a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

It was hard to tell if that was the case from my vantage point, but the refs did miss a really blatant illegal motion on an AF third and long conversion late. They had a guy moving, and the tailback took off before the snap, and no one noticed. I know they're military, but this is not 'Nam. There are rules.

Adventures in Special K. One: no "In The Big House." That is also two through six hundred. NO POP EVIL~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~!!!!!!!atatatat.percentsign.asterisk.

Given how much they ran that into the ground last year, that's either a sign of that thing's merciful departure from our world or Special K's greatest ever troll. I wouldn't put it past him, the scourge.

Instead, Special K put on that Flo Rida song that is not at all about blowjobs, wink wink nudge nudge:

Is that the kind of thing we want to be exposing the youth to? The guy is seen using a Windows phone in that video.

Injuries. Brennen Beyer has a "knee strain" according to Hoke, which means he has anything from a fairy tickling his patella to a Turkmeni flaming crater where his knee used to be. Other than that, Michigan didn't get it too hard from all the cut blocks. Ash's issue seems like a one-week thing, and no one else is publicly injured.

Helmet numbers. I don't miss them.

Paging 2011 Jeremy Gallon. 2010 Jeremy Gallon has started returning punts again. Please report to the maize and blue courtesy phone.

Number stuff. The first Kovacs bullet has been dodged, and I think if they were going to give him someone else's number they would have done it right away. They probably aren't changing a senior captain's number in their second or third opportunity to do so. So, hurrah. Ryan's as good a choice as any, but I was hoping they'd put it on a receiver since Oosterbaan was famous for catching Bennie Friedman's passes and 47 is a distinctive number for a wideout.

Ron Kramer's 87 is next. Hopefully that ends up on a tight end. I'm rooting for Not Funchess because 19 is not a number I have strong associations with yet.


Inside The Box Score:

Air Force didn’t turn the ball over, but they only went 2 for 5 on fourth down. They missed a field goal, and were stopped on a fake field goal. That’s six points. That’s the margin of victory. Ugh.

Hoke For Tomorrow:

Michigan missed chances to get off the field, giving up frustrating first downs on third and medium-to-long time and again.  Brady Hoke missed a great chance at points to end the first half with some terrible clock management, ending up with a TO in his pocket. With Michigan up 14-3, Vincent Smith missed a chance to extend Michigan's drive and possibly their lead by tipping an accurate third-down pass from Denard up for an easy interception; Air Force would score a TD and keep it close for the rest of the game.


Photos and such. Galleries from Maize and Blue Nation


Media with the main and the stream and the Theo. Funchess named freshman of the week, Denard offensive player of the week by Big Ten. Denard Robinson had more total offense than Michigan did. Michigan up to 17th in the AP. Devin Gardner's still a quarterback in his mind. Give it four more games. Also the media refuses to call people by their last names. That's what they're for! They're names!


Michigan struggled early against Western Michigan and especially Notre Dame, and wasn't exactly pretty against Eastern Michigan. But it improved.

It shut down San Diego State the following week, then shut out Minnesota the one after that, and the Wolverines were in business.

The key to that success was simply getting better every week, especially on the defensive line, and Hoke sees the same thing happening this year.

"I would say there's a uniqueness to the offense, and the schemes -- but at the same time, we're a work in progress," Hoke said. "Quinton Washington is getting better every time he plays. Ondre Pipkins is getting better every time he plays. Keith Heitzman ... Mario Ojemudia ... Frank Clark, having him back.

"We're a work in progress."

Meinke also gives Toussaint a D+, which come on man that guy could have been Barry Sanders and gotten 15 yards on those attempts. BOO THIS MAN. Also, this may be a typo or it may be that DENNIS NORFLEET IS TOO FAST FOR VERBS

Dennis Norfleet is who we that he was



So there's your answer, Michigan fans.

Denard Robinson still is Denard Robinson. And so are the Wolverines.

On days like this, that'll be enough. Just barely enough, maybe, but Robinson, with a little help from his friends, did manage to beat Air Force, 31-25, before a crowd of 112,522 in the home opener at Michigan Stadium.

A week after getting thumped by top-ranked Alabama (then No. 2), the Wolverines needed a late fourth-quarter stop Saturday to avert an even bigger disaster. And they needed every bit of Robinson's dual-threat ability, as the senior quarterback actually managed to account for 101 percent of Michigan's offense.

Holy crap:

With 208 passing yards, Robinson is now just 12 yards behind ex-Michigan great Tom Brady for sixth on the school's all-time passing yardage list. Brady had 5,351 career passing yards as a Wolverine.

Brady only started two years, but even so…

Larry Lage gets in another holy crap:

He had his fourth game with at least 200 yards rushing and trails only Mike Hart's school record by one. His 426 yards of total offense ranked fifth in school history, trailing four of his own performances.

Blogz! The flyover:

MVictors has some bullets:

The two Devins:  Added to the postgame press conference hall of shame was the fiascoThe Devins around the media trying to figure out how to address individual questions to Devin Gardner or Devin Funchess,  as the Two Devins were trotted out to meet the press at the same time. The Wolverine’s Michael Spath asked the first question and intentionally addressed the question to “Devin” as a joke, but that didn’t help matters.   More than a few times the players had to ask for clarification as to whom the question was addressed and it got silly.  “The old one,” was offered up at one point to clear up the confusion, making Gardner, who was trying to be a bit stoic, crack up. Props to WTKA’s Steve Clarke who directed the final question to “Number nineteen”. I was going to direct mine to “number square root of 144”.

No one asked why they love bucket hats. Get with the program, media. Get with the program, Heiko.

MVictors also has helmet stickers Hoover Street Rag:

Air Force looked exactly like I would want to see a group of my nation's future military leaders look like as a football team, disciplined, focused, moving quickly, attacking the enemy's weaknesses, and fighting to the last man. They gave Michigan all they could handle and earned the respect and admiration of hopefully every Michigan fan. I had joked earlier in the week that "It's hard playing against Air Force because you can't boo freedom*", but I stand by it. Air Force, along with Army and Navy, are America's teams. Every one of those players made the choice to not only become an officer by going the Academy route. Every one of them has taken on the additional responsibility of being a football player at the Division I level, above and beyond what is asked of them. It was the same reason that I found it so hard to be angry when Air Force beat Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Hockey Tournament in 2009. The cadets did an outstanding job and I am proud of their service to our country.

I agree with all of that save the "hard to get angry after the 2009 Air Force hockey game."

Holdin' the Rope surveys the Big Ten. Surprise! It's not good. Other game takes from Holdin' the Rope again, Tremendous, BWS, Maize and Brew, and Maize and Blue Nation.



September 10th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

Syracuse was the first and only game I ever went to till recently.....still haven't been to a game with a truly meaningfuel win. Went to Wisconsin in 2010 and was gun shy last year of putting myself thru that again. Going to msu this year...I think I'm jinxing that game by going


September 10th, 2012 at 9:58 PM ^

I was in the student section for that game as an undergrad. I played high school football with a good reciever on that Syracuse team. I feel like I vaguely remember the "Cross is Boss" chant but its murky. I remember my high school teammate was in the end zone after a Syracuse touchdown, when someone in the student section threw a water bottle at the Syracuse players that he caught with one hand and then he gave the student section the finger. The only times I've ever had mixed feelings watching Michigan football is when my former high school teammates played against us. Happened again against Minnesota a few years later.

/cool story, bro :)



September 10th, 2012 at 12:25 PM ^

The last two seasons, my GP South Blue Devils have been absolutely raped out of the playoffs (I'm not complaining, simply making the playoffs has been a struggle for them the last, oh, twenty years or so) by Farmington Hills Harrison and Detroit MLK.  I watched this game and I was like, oh, no wonder.


September 10th, 2012 at 12:27 PM ^

scramble when no one is open.  There are instances that on pass plays a lane opens up for him to take off, but he rarely takes advantage of them.

Also, when was the last time we ran a screen.  Either Borges hates the play, or Denard is just not good at it.  


September 10th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

It could be really tough for Denard as a shorter QB. He already struggles throwing the ball through windows/over DL so if the DL are released as the OL goes to block for a screen... yeah.

That said, we did run some bubbles against Bama and Borges hasn't pulled the "Ridiculously Amazing Vincent Smith Throwback Screen" out of the arsenal yet, or the tunnel screen that he liked from last year.

Pass protection was pretty good (I think, we'll see with UFR), so there wasn't much of a need to run draws or screens or the things you do to slow down a rush.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

My guess on the screen (if you mean RB screen) is that it probably wouldn't be too effective against teams that prep for Denard. Teams don't generally try to rush several defenders inside on Denard because they don't want him to roll out and beat them on the corners. The whole reason a screen is effective is you draw the defense in, then dump the ball out. Most teams will have guys staying home to blow that play up.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

The common opinion is that our offensive line does a great job of pass protecting, but the reality is that most defenses don't rush Denard because the quickest way to get juked and lose contain is to come running at him. Most of the time, most defenses just contain him with their linebackers and defensive line, which is why Denard gets so much time to throw. Only by running Denard out of the pocket and then throwing back to Smith, have we gotten a screen to work really well.


September 10th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

Teams seem to use a lot of run blitz to slow Denard down.  Wouldn't those be susciptible to screens to RB or even WR?

I am not sure if Denard's height is the problem. Most QBs cannot see over OL.  Wisconsin's Wilson is about the same height as Denard and UW ran a lot of screens last year.

Blue boy johnson

September 10th, 2012 at 12:29 PM ^

Right on. Denard is reason enough to keep excited about the rest of the season. A couple of other reasons for me to be excited;

See how OL unfolds. Wouldn't be surprised to see Schofield head back to guard and either a freshman or Omameh move to tackle.

Defense: with all the freshman and sophomores playing it will be fun to watch them mature before our very eyes.

Special teams: Watching Mr. Norfleet.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:58 PM ^

I've never played/coached so someone else can answer, but it seems to me that our RG (Omameh) can't pull and our RT (Schofield) can't be the point of attack on POWER plays. Can Omameh swap to LG so that we can pull Barnum and have Lewan lead the way? Or is that too hard? Omameh is a 3-4 year starter at RG, so I don't know that he should move. Is this an instance where we should run more Iso rather than power so that we don't have pulling guards?

/honest questions...


September 10th, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

Omameh does fine when he has to pull.  He struggled earlylast season and he's not great, but I don't think he's a weakness there.  Schofield is the bigger question mark to me, but right now this OL's best asset is its mobility (outside of Mealer).


September 10th, 2012 at 2:17 PM ^

So you think that power left could work, but running behind Schofield is the bigger problem? I know early last year we almost exclusively pulled to the right due to Omameh's struggles with it. I thought I saw him get beat to the hole when he was trying to pull but who knows, I remember him improving last year for sure.

Blue in Seattle

September 10th, 2012 at 3:07 PM ^

Does Brian want it to go to a Senior or to a Freshmen?  I wish he would just say he's against the whole thing.  The reason against Kovacs taking it was that 32 is "established".  Not the reason against D-Funch taking it is he hasn't had a chance to establish 19?!?

I'm not sure how the other WR's got #1, but I'm willing to guess it wasn't as a redshirt freshman.  It's of course well documented that Braylon didn't get it until after he wore 80 for a year.  

I'll have to chase down the quotes in Big John's book, "If these Walls could talk" but from there he has two stories about jersey numbers.  From the Bo times, Jon gave freshmen whatever numbers were left, and if they asked for a special number they were told, "that number is your number wear it."  And the only exception to that was when Bo once spoke to John about Anthony Carter and said, "Give him #1, he's going to be special"

So now we have a coach who looks at these numbers are rewards and an honor, who isn't going to force a number on anyone, overall the athletic department talks to the families before making it a "legends" jersey, and this it a problem?

And I find this quote from Kovacs pretty interesting, as it's likely that the team does not feel the same as Brian,


Jordan, can you talk about the choice of giving Jake Ryan the No. 47 jersey?

Kovacs: “Yeah. Obviously he’s a great ball player. He had a pretty good game today. I told him, ‘I want to wear it next week.’ Maybe that’s his secret. But he’s a great ball player, made some big plays for us today, and he does it every week. Great choice.”

emphasis mine, link


September 10th, 2012 at 12:40 PM ^

Love that thing about the opening of the football season.  Glad you re-printed, and it should accompany every new season in some way.

And let's remember, the team was rebounding off that awful Alabama loss, against a tempo-plussed triple option.  I agree with everyone who says we know nothing until ND.


September 10th, 2012 at 2:05 PM ^

I'm not sure how often it happens anymore but, back in my day (in the 90s), there were at least 2-3 instances per season of the refs failing to turn off their mics or turning them on accidentally resulting in hilarity.  One sticks on in my mind:  "I don't know.  I can't see anything!"  Probably not what you want to hear from a referee.  Good times.


September 10th, 2012 at 12:44 PM ^

Michigan is not an elite team this year. We're not going to win the MNC without some help, and in a down year in the B1G, a Rose Bowl berth would be great.

That doesn't mean the season is a wash or we should not care. I'm still going to be watching every game and hoping that we destroy everyone. Oh, and that Denard wins the Heisman.

Also, how are you not propogating your chosen nickname for The Funchise?


September 10th, 2012 at 2:16 PM ^

We're not going to win the MNC without some help

Let's be honest, we're not going to win the MNC period....and that's OK. As flawed a team as Michigan looks to be right now, they have an excellent chance to take the Legends Division and take down whatever Leaders Division team appearing in Ohio's place in the B1G Championship.

I have to say, thinking about the negative psychological impact that a rebuilding Michigan program winning a Big 10 title and going to a 2nd consecutive BCS bowl game would have on Dantonio and Spartan Nation makes me smile just a bit. Of course, I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch....


September 10th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

I can't put the lack of rushing (other than Denard) on Fitz or the line.  It's more on Borges', IMO, playcalling.  Handing off to Fitz on obvious running downs while the defense is run blitzing doesn't help his cause.  I was hoping to see him actually get a couple carries in a row to get him going.  You can't tell me if they would have called 2 or 3 running plays in a row, our line wouldn't have been able to get any push.  If they couldn't, then we're in for a long season.


September 10th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

I think if you look back at the live blog, you will notice a point in time where I (relatively hammered at the time mind you) absolutely went berserk at the officials for the no call on the 3rd down conversion. Unfortunately, with this live-blog software, re-reading the live blog is tough, but I would love to see what I said if anyone has the time to pull it up.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:27 PM ^

slot/H-back had a running start at Kovacs at the snap, dove at his feet, and allowed the RB to get the corner and score.

BONUS - Did anyone else notice what appeared to be some horrendous positive spots for the offenses during the game?  I only noticed one in M's favor but at least 4-5 early in the game giving AF first downs etc.  Of course I could just be "bias" (<<== I know...that's the joke!)


September 10th, 2012 at 12:46 PM ^

-Why would we not try getting Funchess on an Alabama linebacker and see if we could bust him for a long play.   I know all about play situations blah, blah, blah, but did Funchess even go out on a route against Alabama?    Arrgh!


-Agree with laying off Toussiant.  Seen a lot of WTF Fitz?!?!..... I say watch Barry Sanders circa 1995.   Barry had no room to run either but Barry was not human.  Fitz is great but he is human.


-I know Brian hates his RAWK music in the stadium, but did anyone else hear the ND game?   They fire up OZZY on seemingly every 3rd down play.  Not sure if they have done this for a while, but it sure sounds weird watching ND field with OZZY music. 


-This has nothing to do with the post but I still can't get over what an idiot Bill Obrien is for Penn St.   You have time on the clock and a senior QB and you run 5 yards backwards to set up your walk on kicker who is 1-4 on the day, had an xp blocked and it's starting to rain?    Just incredible.   I felt bad for that kid. To the Louisiana-Monroe coach I say the exact opposite.   On the road against Arkansas with a chance to win the game he went for it on 4th down instead of letting his horrible kicker try and tie it in OT.   Win or lose that was the right call and he was rewarded. 


September 10th, 2012 at 12:49 PM ^

I'm very interested to see how Barnum, Mealer, and Omameh grade out. Offensive lines obviously take a while to gel, and Molk was really good, but if we struggle to get a push against UMass, the coaches might have to look at juggling things around inside. Schofield seemed pretty good at guard last year, he could move inside if the coaches felt they could insert Kalis at tackle. It's unclear whether Barnum can actually snap or if Mealer is the only option other than Miller. Kalis could be tried in place of either guard. I think it's still wait and see, but not being able to move Air Force's d-line seems like a flashing danger siren. 


September 10th, 2012 at 1:06 PM ^

I'd bet they're going to come out OK.  I said this in another thread, but the blocking on Denard's runs was fairly outstanding.  He could have broken a few more the distance if one guy hadn't missed an assignment or held his block a little longer.  So a lot of almosts, in addition to the great blocking that allowed 200+ yds.

And even on Toussaint's runs I think it's going to be that same type of thing generally - one guy missed this play, another missed that.  Of course spinkled in there you're going to have a few just awful plays where a few guys get run back.  Maybe some RPS too?  DT's shooting gaps where a pulling lineman vacated would be another guess. 

But what the hell do I know

Tight and Shiny

September 10th, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

I share Brian's man-love for Dennis Norfleet. The kid is going to be exciting to watch for the next 4 years.

I think he should get consideration for the #1 uniform and it should honor Anthony Carter. I'm old enough to have seen AC play and he was an electrifying kick returner as well as WR.

The criteria for the number shouldn't have anything to do with position, but the players ability to be "exciting". I can't define it, but know it when I see it and Norfleet has it.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:37 PM ^

And maybe this paragraph serves the same purpose, but Brian was right on in his Norfleet excitement.  I think it's safe to say after two games it's not a mirage.It'd be great with experience if he could do punts too, if the difference isn't too great for him. Because that's going to probably be a more valuable skill going forward.

And to think how many people weren't very excited with his signing day addition, lamenting the guys we didn't get. (Brian obviously wasn't one of them. He was the conductor on the Norfleet hype train.)


September 10th, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

I was a freshman in 98 and my first game as a student was that ND game.  All the freshmen were in Crisler watching together and it was brutal.  I thought about that game a lot last week.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:02 PM ^

I'm surprised that this column didn't discuss some of the mind-numbingly awful coaching decisions that were made during the game, like the incredibly stupid clock management at the end of the first half.  Lizard brain football all over again.  It drove me nuts.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:10 PM ^

Brian linked to someone that beat him to the punch on Lizard Brain footbaw so he probably edited out of his post.   You are 100% correct though.  Complete derp,derp at the end of the half.  I think we'll avoid TWIS at least so many other bad coaching decisions and bad losses.

Mattison has been pretty Gerg esque on 3rd downs this year as well.    We have been RPS'd on screens and draws repeatedly the 1st 2 games.   How we weren't ready for a couple of those qb draws after being gashed in the 1st half is beyond me.  I like Mattison but he's been a step behind the 1st 2 weeks.  


September 10th, 2012 at 1:34 PM ^

Right. It is Greg Mattison's fault that we have no upperclassmen defensive tackles or linebackers on the roster who can play. Perhaps you and Hannibal should let this quote from Brian sink in:



"Meanwhile, Ondre Pipkins, Mario Ojemudia, and Keith Heitzman (a redshirt freshman) saw plenty of time on the defensive line and Jarrod Wilson was the guy who came in when Michigan went to nickel. You make shake your fist at Rodriguez's last couple recruiting classes now" 


September 10th, 2012 at 2:35 PM ^

There was nothing wrong with the execution in the blitzes Mattison called on seemingly every 3rd-and-long vs. Bama that I could see.  And it did seem peculiar that we appeared to be expecting a drop back 15-yard dig or corner route from AF when that simply wasn't ever going to happen on 3rd and long, because it's AF.

Visions of GERG's blitz vs. Tresselball on 3rd and long in our redzone when the 2009 Ohio game was still stunningly competitive.  Pryor floats a screen over the top.  Insert dagger.


September 10th, 2012 at 1:09 PM ^

I agree with you Brian that this year we are not elite and would not deserve to be in this year's hypothetical four team playoff at this point. It is fun to think where we could be in a few years but it is also good to appreciate the present reality. Even if it doesn't translate to the same number of wins and losses as last season it will be extremely encouraging to see the team learn and improve week by week and game to game.

Hardware Sushi

September 10th, 2012 at 1:14 PM ^

Because everyone seems pretty negative after the first few weeks, I was sort of expecting a negative column here. This was funny, smart and accurate. Good work.

Also, Kovaks got taken out on the last AF TD because the tight end 'in motion' was doing the CFL/Arena-style forward motion to cut him down, leaving Ryan 2 on 1. I'm not normally upset about refs but this was blatant non-judgment call stuff. Really bad.