Lizard Brain Tornado Apocalypse Derp Derp Derp Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2011 at 11:49 AM

10/15/2011 – Michigan 14, Michigan State 28 – 10/15/2011, 6-1, 2-1 Big Ten


right via Melanie Maxwell/

RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-Brian Cook's brain channeling Mike Valenti, 3:07 PM 10/15/2011


The now rapidly developing lizard brain theory of college football coaching states that there is a certain level of pressure above which rationality goes out the window and coaches revert to who they really are. It came to me in a horrible epiphany when Lloyd Carr punted in the 2005 Ohio State game less than a quarter after going for it on his side of the field. Coaches panic, go to their binkies, and then try to convince you otherwise in the post-game.

Different coaches have different levels. Ron Zook reverts to the lizard brain on the opening kickoff of every game. Kirk Ferentz makes it about five minutes in. We don't know about Tressel because he constructed his team such that the lizard brain was right. Les Miles exists on an entirely different axis with taffy on one end and victory on the other. He is the only one who escapes. The lizard brain is unavoidable.

Al Borges's lizard brain kicked in after Vincent Smith ran for two yards on Michigan's first offensive play of the second half. First and ten after that:

  1. Robinson sacked for –9 yards
  2. Smith rush for two yards
  3. Gardner incomplete
  4. Robinson incomplete
  5. Offsides MSU
  6. Gardner rush for four yards
  7. Robinson rush for –1 yard
  8. Robinson slant complete for 34 yard touchdown
  9. Robinson sacked
  10. Robinson rush for –1 yard
  11. Robinson INT

While this doesn't paint a pretty picture for the run game, either, after halftime Michigan passed on 60% of its first downs, got one completion on a short route that turned into a big gain when Roundtree broke a tackle, and did nothing else.

For the game Michigan tried to pass at least 41 times*, averaging 2.8 yards per attempt and giving up a defensive touchdown.

Sorry. Sorry.

Michigan tried to run the ball 26 times and averaged… oh, Jesus… 5.2 yards per carry. Fitzgerald Toussaint got two carries, Denard twelve.

I just realized this is what it's like to be Walter Sobchak.


MARK IT 2.8.
(This is not a threat against anyone's person. Do I look like Will Gholston?)

So, yeah. There is no way to put this without getting an email from some guy concerned about his eleven year old without resorting to Bloom County methods. That was the dumbest goddamned $%&*^-*$#*ing #&!$brained dip*&%$ mother*(%$ing horse_+$# goat-&^%t &%$*y-infested $%^&stick playcalling I have ever &*$ing seen in my life. I see you, Valenti. I get it now. I get it.








Okay, okay… sorry. Sorry. I'm vented.

What we have to deal with now is the cold certainty that the honeymoon is over and our football coaches are football coaches, like they always are, and we cannot assume that everything will be honeydew and game theory from now on. Hoke punted on fourth and short-ish from inside the opponent 40. Borges did that above.

That's okay, really. Given the crapfest we endured on offense I almost can't blame Hoke for the punts. And in many other situations I prefer an offensive coordinator who wants to throw when he's in trouble to one who wants to go into a shell. The Morris/upperclass Gardner offense won't put the Ferrari in neutral until the second half. Recruit like they're recruiting and coach like it seems they can and eventually we'll get to a nice place to be.

In the near term, though, those happy thoughts over the first few weeks about Borges adjusting to Denard evaporated in a flurry of sacks after which you look at the receivers and there are three guys thirty yards downfield with no one between them and the carnage. You can fake it against defenses that can't play, but when it comes down to it the combination of Borges and Denard makes everyone wonder that bad old question about whether he should really play QB. IE: the worst-case scenario from the offseason.

A certain genre of Michigan fan will say this was always who Denard was, but last year he completed 58% of his passes for 9.3 YPA and a 12-9 TD:INT ratio in the Big Ten. Whatever his limitations were they seemed a lot less limiting last year, when Michigan stressed the defense to the edges and exploited the ruthless equation of the spread: a running quarterback means someone's open if you can just find him.

I don't blame Borges for that. You can't up and be someone else at the drop of a hat. If we are again pointing the finger of blame it's aiming at Rich Rodriguez for not deserving a fourth year. I do blame Borges for throwing almost two-thirds of the time when that should be inverted. The incoherent grab-bagginess of the offense is a natural effect of hiring a pro-style guy with a spread offense. Running Denard twelve times in a trash tornado is not.

So here we are, with football coaches instead of magical fairies who can do anything. That sucks. The honeymoon over, life re-asserts itself.

*[I'm not sure how many QB carries were scrambles. I counted the 8-yard Gallon scramble as a pass.]

Non-Bullets of I Wish They Were Real Bullets

Hurray clowniformz! So much for a one-time thing. It's as if they knew they would need to both play and look like Yakety Sax:

That's the third time this year we've had a uniform stunt, this one the ugliest and stupidest of them all*. It's like Dave Brandon took in the majesty that is the Spartan Stadium game experience and said "someday this will be mine." Chengelis's headline on the subject

Spartans, Wolverines compete with fashion statements, too

…is even more evidence that Dave Brandon Gets It less than anyone has ever not Gotten It before.

I had a wow experience. Did you? Everyone looking forward to the analwowing in Dallas next year when we take our freshman defensive tackles and paper-thin offensive line into a game we are absolutely not prepared for? CEOs are psychopaths.

[Bonus: last time we did this was 1976, the very heart of the era when people lost their minds about fashion. We lost then, too.]

*[No, that guy on every message board who could spin Denard Robinson's arm being torn off by William Gholston as a positive for the program, they did not look good. A sane political system would prevent you from voting. You suck. I'm sure you've got a comment all lined up to complain about the complaining. Bring it, I've got an itchy trigger finger today.]

Obligatory personal foul section. Yeah, it was ugly. The truly sad thing was that band of morons getting away with 120 yards in penalties without losing. If we had a sane offensive plan and/or a plan to deal with snap jumping those personal fouls are only 10% enraging—the intent to injure bits—and 90% hilarious Sparty being Sparty. That's where we are as a program right now: we can play the stupidest 85 people ever assembled on one football team and still lose by two touchdowns.

Gholston should obviously be suspended at least two games for the helmet rip—as bad an intent-to-injure play as the Reynolds-Sorgi incident—and the punch, which has been established by the great Jonas Mouton Suspension Fiasco as a one-gamer. There was also a less obvious judo chop that forced Lewan out of the game for a few plays. I bet nothing happens, because that's the way life goes.

This is the second consecutive year a player has been knocked out late after the game is decided by a dirty hit. Look at Dantonio's jaw… you are feeling very sleepy… you cannot put together incidents to see a pattern forming… so much… fake… bible… Spock.

I guess targeting other football players is progress relative to beating up mechanical engineers en masse.

Edge destruction. Early candidates for big negative days in the defense UFR: Roh and Ryan, who were targeted by the MSU offensive coaching staff to good effect. MSU's first TD drive was a series of easy outside runs as those two got destroyed. They improved a bit as the day went on but were clearly a weak spot targeted effectively.

Woolfolk also got pulled after a series or two; he's obviously hurt. Avery was the nickel corner since MSU doesn't spread to run much.

Man, Baker. It kills me whenever I see a really good running back go against Michigan because the mind immediately plugs that guy into rotation at the RB spot post-Minor and groans. Baker is one of those guys, a leg-churning tackle-breaker who would turn a lot of Michigan's two yard runs into five or six or more.

Penetration. They had it. Michigan didn't. Why not?

One part: It's clear all these late-developing passing routes are exposing the Mark Huyge we saw trying and failing to block for Tate Forcier as a sophomore. After a year of being covered up by the spread 'n' shred he's back to allowing sacks on a three man rush.

But the interior line? I saw Molk ole guys. Molk! How is this year four of MSU using a simple parlor trick of slanting under at the snap without two different coaching staffs being able to do anything about it?

Old school punting. Positive of a sort: When asked to coffin-corner punts Will Hagerup does a pretty good job. Haven't seen that in 15 years—you know it's old school when Sap is referencing Harry Kipke when handing out helmet stickers.

Why "of a sort": if you can coffin-corner a punt you probably shouldn't be punting.

The Minnesota plays. Doesn't seem too smart to have run a zillion new things against Minnesota now, does it? Michigan brought out the sprint counter once and it got stuffed—would MSU have been prepared for it if they hadn't seen it against Minnesota? Since Michigan isn't running the QB stretch that motion was a tipoff the counter was coming and an expected counter is a dead counter.


Inside the Box Score points out a huge swing play:

The refs did miss one backwards pass from Cousins, who clearly let go of the ball on state’s 37 and hit his receiver’s hands on the 36. The explanation was really lame, something along the lines of Michigan didn’t recover the football right away. The way I saw it, the ball hit the ground and the Michigan defender bent down and picked it up. What am I missing?

With no one around the ball except Wolverines if that's correctly called that is a potentially game-changing defensive score. This isn't a bad offsides penalty or uncalled false start, it's a touchdown being wiped off the board because the refs blew it dead too early. Very frustrating. I thought they were supposed to let it go if it was too close to be sure about now.

Also there is this:

Our leading tacklers were Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, and Countess, with 8, 6, 6, and 6, respectively. Do you notice what’s missing? Linebackers. Demens was the leading tackler among the linebackers with 5. I noticed this week that Touch the Banner was high on Demens for last week’s performance against NU, but Brian was critical of him in the UFRs. I think this game was the tie-breaker. I don’t think our LBs were productive enough. Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries. State was consistently able to pound the football against us.

How many times did MSU linebackers shoot out to the sideline on plays that looked like they were going to work and hold them down to a few yards, and how many times did Michigan linebackers do that? That's not always on the linebackers—could be on the M OL not getting out or DL not taking on doubles effectively—but given what we saw against Northwestern I'm betting some of the big chunk plays from Baker see linebacker minuses aplenty.

Hoke for Tomorrow is briefer. I would like to interject about this amongst the things learned:

That strong winds + Kirk Cousins > strong winds + Denard Robinson.

Cousins averaged 5 YPA and threw a backwards pass that should have been a disaster. Drops had a lot to do with it but it's possible the wind messed with both WR and QB, which is even more reason that throwing 41 times in the trash tornado was inexplicably dumb.


Media, as in stuff. The official site valiantly found highlight-type-substances in the wreckage:

There are also postgame interviews if you'd like to watch everyone on Michigan's team refusing to answer questions about the personal fouls. Mike DeSimone collects pictures from across the world.

Blogs. Come on, Braves and Birds picture comparison. Come on. The Hoover Street Rag does something long and complicated that I don't understand. Parody of a bad NBC hour-long drama? Mathlete says Michigan underperformed expectations by 28 points, his worst number of the season for all of I-A. Various bullets from MVictors. Touch the Banner also has them.

BWS says something about little brother, which no offense whenever I hear the word "brother" in relation to Michigan State now my eyes glaze over. Holdin' the Rope recaps. MZone as well.

National variety from Doctor Saturday:

On seven trips into MSU territory after the opening possession, Michigan punted on five and turned it over on downs on a sixth.

Series by series, punt by punt, the sense of progress over the first half of the season dissolved into a disheveled mess. The running game stalled. The two-quarterback shuffle failed to gin up any semblance of a steady passing game, or a big play with Robinson lined up as a wide receiver. The pass protection broke down. In almost every aspect, it was Michigan's worst nightmare: At the exact point on the calendar that optimistic starts began to give way to collapse each of the last two years, the Wolverines  looked like a team on the verge of collapse.

Newspapers. Michigan fell to 17th/18th in the polls. I did not find anything else of a newspapery variety that is open in my tabs.


True Blue in CO

October 17th, 2011 at 12:02 PM ^

being allowed by the coaches was a sign they were about to have a bad day. The bye week is needed as much by them to regain focus. We can get back on track if they get on track first.


October 17th, 2011 at 12:51 PM ^

until the last minute.  Obviously the coaches knew they were ghastly, and a study should be done to analyze if the team's collapse was due to play-calling, holes in the O-line, or deflation of the players' confidence as they saw, only minutes before going out on enemy field, that they were going to look like clowns.



Section 1

October 17th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

But I think you are completely wrong.  According to what I have heard it is true that the players did not know about the unis until they came back to the lockerroom after warmups and the jerseys were hanging up in each locker.

I was also there to see the team come out on the field, and it is the most visibly emotionally fired up I have seen them all year.  I don't think they looked like clowns, and they gave no impression of feeling like clowns.  Our first posession went 80 yards for a TD. 


October 17th, 2011 at 12:07 PM ^

I dont really get pining for Rodriguez, who managed to score exactly three points more against this team than Borges did, at home, and without looking it up, I'm guessing with more possessions

I know part of your job here is to blame somebody, and I see how Borges would fall into the crosshairs, but the fact is that right now MSU is better than us, and despite that we still had a chance in this game

MI Expat NY

October 17th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

Here you go:  The status of the team is one where the offensive personnel is spread based and the coaching staff was hired to transition into a pro-set style offense.  There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, therefore blame for the incoherent offense can't be placed on Hoke/Borges or the players.  If you really want to place blame, not that you necessarily should, blame Rodriguez for getting himself fired and not being around to use personnel that fits his system.

I can see an alternate inference from the statement: "man, I wish rodriguez could have not been so damn awful at defensive coaching so that our offense would have looked better."  But that's a far cry from "pining for Rodriguez."  

MI Expat NY

October 17th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

Where is the pining for Rodriguez?  At best you can say it's acknowledging that we have spread personnel and a non-spread coach which has resulted in a muddled offense, for which Brian blames Rodriguez for not deserving a fourth year.  Not exactly pining.  

And you're wrong, this year's game had one more possession to go along with 127 less total yards, and 80 less rushing yards.  Obviously weather had something to do with that.


October 17th, 2011 at 12:47 PM ^

I'm not going to disagree with any of those statements. However, to "pine" for someone implies you wish you had them still. Brian clearly states that Rodriguez didn't earn himself a 4th year, which means that he doesn't wish Rodriguez was still here. If Brian honestly thought that Rodriguez should still be here, he would have framed the statement differently to blame Brandon for firing him rather than the man himself for performing too poorly to reasonably be brought back. 


October 17th, 2011 at 1:02 PM ^

Maybe pining is a strong word, but in the broader context it was the best fit i could come up with

By the same token, he could have said "blame Brandon for not hiring a spread coach" or something to that effect.  I just dont think the practice of judging Borges against a fictional RR offense that can be as great as your mind wants it to be is healthy

And yes, I certainly should have been clearer that I meant "on offense".  It was too late to edit when I realized that that wasnt clear


October 17th, 2011 at 1:39 PM ^

Dude if you dont think that, in  some crazy alternate universe where RR could possibly come back and be OC, that Brian and half the fanbase would jump at that chance, then youre not paying attention.  This comment is the latest in a LONG string of evidence of that.


I dont think its fair to compare Borges to a ghost.


October 17th, 2011 at 2:25 PM ^

No.  I am not going to stop defending our coaches and players that i think are being unfairly attacked and judged (and you can couch it in all the caveats you want, the implication that borges can't run this offense anywhere near as well as rodriguez and that a large part of the loss can be attributed to that "fact" is an attack and IMO an unfair judgment)


October 17th, 2011 at 12:35 PM ^

Our offense last year against MSU looked much better than this year. We returned 10 starters. We would have looked even better this year compared to last year if Rodriguez was coaching the offense.

Now, the wind was a factor, but seriously look at how we scored last  year. We moved the ball. Had a lot more yards and should have had at least 23 points if we don't turn the ball over in the red zone twice.

And this year? Yeah we had 14 points but that took a desperation 4 and goal trick play, Denard breaking a tackle in the backfield with the help of Molk and Roundtree breaking a tackle on a 10 yard pass play.

Not all points are created equal. If you can't see that the offense this year (despite the 14 points) is weaker than the offense last year(despite the 17 points) I don't know what you are watching.


October 17th, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

I'm watching an offense that is tied for 8th in the country in yards per play, that up until this week was 5th in the country in (admittedly somewhat premature) S&P rankings, that despite your attempts to qualify it (i guess turnovers count last year but not this year?) scored exactly three points less than last years, on the road, in a tornado


October 17th, 2011 at 12:31 PM ^





(used to express negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition):You must not do that. It's not far from here.


U.S. Slang . (used jocularly as a postpositive interjection toindicate that a previous statement is untrue): That's a lovelydress. Not!






qualified for or having a claim to reward, assistance, etc.,because of one's actions, qualities, or situation: thedeserving poor; a deserving applicant.


meriting; worthy: a criminal deserving of a lifetimesentence.