Necessary But Not Sufficient

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2013 at 12:18 PM

10/5/2013 – Michigan 42, Minnesota 13 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten


Eric Upchurch

Jon Falk has a compatriot at Minnesota. He's probably had a dozen over his 40 years as Michigan's equipment manager. Some guy who comes in with the latest Gopher coaching staff, wonders what it's like to hold the jug in his meaty palm, and maybe once gets to shepherd it for a year. Since Falk arrived at Michigan a fresh-faced young thing four years into Bo's career, his opposite number has had this experience three times.

In proof lingo, this means that beating Minnesota—beating up on Minnesota, usually—is a necessary but not sufficient property of Michigan teams that want to do anything with their seasons. Sometimes you can retain the Jug despite not being very good; sometimes you can retain the jug despite being headed for 3-9 because Nick Sheridan has an out-of-body experience. When you're headed for 3-9 you get a little misty about the Jug coming out. When you're not the worst team in Ann Arbor since the 1930s it's a checkbox to fill out.

Michigan did so in perfunctory style, grinding out a second half in which they went from vaguely threatened to bored. Since this came on the heels of narrow escapes against teams that lost 43-3 to Ohio on Saturday and 41-12 to Buffalo last week, it's progress. How much is unknown.


This game settled into a grim fugue state almost from the drop, as Michigan manballed its way into the endzone on a Statement Drive to start the game. Unfortunately, that Statement was "by putting Taylor Lewan next to Michael Schofield we can bull our way down the field against Minnesota." That statement is unlikely to apply to many teams on the schedule. But, hey, progress.

Then Minnesota donned turbans and embarked on the Ishtar Drive. An epic production galaxy-spanning in its dullness that arrived at its destination two hours too late and failed to have the desired impact, it ate up the rest of the quarter. Michigan left it without having attempted a pass.

This was a little dull.

It was the kind of dull that had Space Coyote, the Michigan's blogosphere's resident instant analysis savant, pleading with the masses that the intricacies of a well-blocked power play were just as appealing as, say, watching 175-pound Venric Mark activate his truck stick on an Ohio State safety. I can't imagine there's another Michigan fan in the world more receptive to that argument than yours truly and even I wasn't buying that as the secondary effect of all that manball kicked in: punt, commercial, play, end of quarter, commercial, play play, punt, commercial. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial—the NFL special. As the teams' attempt to blow through this game in record time was thwarted by the networks, being in Michigan Stadium became the worst concert of all time interrupted by bouts of football-related activity.

It was the kind of thing that made you consider what the purpose of your fandom was. Am I only here to see Michigan end a game with a larger number on the scoreboard than Opponent? Is there any valid goal outside of this? Am I a bad fan for wishing something interesting would happen? Do the people on twitter who scorn you for having feelings other than Go Team have a point? What is the point of any of this, and why can't they make the wifi work?

At halftime, the guys in front of me discussed whether they would bolt for Frazer's, and two did. I'm usually a guy who thinks leaving an athletic event before it's decided is a mortal sin, but I kind of envied the guy in the home-made muscle shirt screwing off to a place where he could get a beer and not hear "Build Me Up, Buttercup." At any other time, I would have thought this man's attendance at Michigan Stadium was a necessary property of a fan that he had just shown was not sufficient by leaving a touchdown game at halftime like he was a sorority girl about to blow a .341. On Saturday, I was with him in spirit.

This is a fearful development. I don't want to think like that. I want to be forever ten years old, excited by everything. On Saturday I had a long look down the elevator shaft.


It'll pass like the moment above did. Someone will do something interesting, and there will be something at stake other than a piece of crockery that just means you're not horrible, and sometimes not even that. I had a bad day, I was pissed at Dave Brandon when I discovered I was thirsty but knew I couldn't do anything about it without missing a large chunk of the game I was there to see even if it was narcoleptic, I was emo after the last few weeks of expectation-depressing terror. It'll pass, and the doors will close on the moment where I reached out and felt the slight outlines of a limit to my fandom.



Michigan won by a lot, eventually.


Completely one-sided highlights:


brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3[1]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Has to be Michigan's new favorite worst nightmare at wide receiver: Devin Funchess. Relieved of many blocking duties and deployed on the outside, Funchess displayed fantastic hands on a couple of catches outside of his body, ran routes that got him tons of separation, and went right by a Minnesota cornerback(!) on a straight-up fly route(!) to prove himself Michigan's best deep threat(?). By the end of the game he had newspaper types plumbing the statistical depths for completely invalid comparisons to Jim Mandich, who was a tight end, which Devin Funchess is not.

Honorable mention: No Turnovers, which may be Devin Gardner's temporary name until such point as he turns it over. Schofield and Lewan were mashing as tackle brothers. Blake Countess did have a pick six, albeit one of no importance. James Ross and Desmond Morgan had lots of tackles, usually at the LOS when not facing spread formations.

Epic Double Point Standings.

1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)


I guess? [Upchurch]

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Wow. Are we at a loss here? We might be at a loss here. Countess's interception was after the game was decided, as was the long Funchess fly route thing. Michigan's longest run went for not many yards. I guess we're going with Fitzgerald Toussaint scoring an easy ten-yard touchdown, as it hinted that Michigan may be able to run the ball forward? Yeah, okay.

Honorable mention: Funchess reception, pick one. Countess pick. Black FF.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.

[After THE JUMP: actual game analysis instead of pathetic emo self-pity mooning!]


Judging things: hard. For one, Minnesota. Minnesota just got worked by Iowa. Iowa followed that up by getting outrushed by Michigan State's punter. For two, Minnesota embarked on a ten-minute drive in the second quarter that restricted both teams to four drives in the first half and set Michigan up with a couple of short fields. Michigan had only eight drives all game, which were:

  1. 35-yard MANBALL touchdown drive
  2. Three-and-out.
  3. 42 yard drive starting from their own 1.
  4. 38-yard touchdown drive
  5. 75-yard touchdown drive
  6. 75-yard touchdown drive
  7. Three-and-out
  8. 69-yard touchdown drive

That's five touchdowns on eight drives and a third productive drive to flip field position. That's massively different picture than 348 yards against Minnesota. The offense was efficient.



It's just about how they were efficient. Michigan did seriously de-emphasize their tight ends… but not how I thought they might. I thought they might use Drew Dileo and Dennis Norfleet more, run some more shotgun/pistol stuff, table the full-on manball for a little later, when they had a TE who could shove a child into a ball pit in three tries or less.

Instead Michigan ran a lot of the same stuff they had been running before except they ran out a ton of unbalanced lines with Schofield and Lewan to the same side of the field, flanking the backside guard with AJ Williams. I may have missed a few of these, but IIRC this was 90% run and about 80% run to the Lewan/Schofield side. This worked, insofar as running for 3.2 YPC against a stacked front is working. This virtually eliminated the tight end from relevant blocks, with results like Michigan's grinding drives to open both halves. Hooray.

Is that going to work against anyone other than Minnesota? I have my doubts. Even Minnesota decided that they were going to fling bodies at the Lewan/Schofield side willy-nilly late and started stuffing things up in ugly fashion. Now that it's on film, what's your upside there once teams overplay it? More waggles. Or drop-back passes with AJ Williams pretending he's a tackle.

Call me Mr. Downerpants, but rolling out the unbalanced line offense against any vaguely competent defense is going to be an exercise in getting your face punched in. Short yardage, sure. Anything else, bler.


Via MVictors

ALL HAIL OUR NEW RECEIVING GOD. Elsewhere in minimizing TE blocking, Devin Funchess got a lot of snaps split wide. How did that go? Just fine, thank you.


Funchess's 46 yarder was a plain old fly route on which he just ran by a guy in press coverage; he had two other receptions on which he turned the corner around and got excellent separation. Minnesota's CBs are not good, granted, but he looked like Junior Hemingway plus a half-foot. Let's leave him out there, plz. A rotation between Gallon, Chesson, and Funchess is threatening, and as a bonus it doesn't tip run hrrrrrd like, say, putting Jeremy Jackson in the slot does.

Even corners that can keep up with Funchess—evidently not all of them—are giving up a half-foot, probably eight or nine inches once Funchess's crazy long arms are factored in. If the guy's over the top, just leave it short. If he's behind, throw it a little short. Enormous WR is what he is. Forever and ever amen.

Funchess remains crazy photgenic, BTW:



All hail our new adequate or better guard. Chris Bryant got smoked for a sack. That was bad, but in the UConn game the guy he replaced got beat on three separate pass protections against UConn. That's an upgrade.

In the run game he seemed better, as well, pulling on the first two plays and getting to the appropriate place and not getting dumped in the backfield even once. Hageman had little impact on the game save for a TFL with four minutes left when Michigan was in full run-run-pass mode as they strove to kill the clock.

so… this happened

Meanwhile, Graham Glasgow hardly seemed to miss a beat as the center. Michigan had one procedure penalty, that a false start on Lewan; Michigan fumbled one exchange. No one tore through Glasgow to eat someone despite the extra complication of snapping, and he's just as responsible as the other two interior OL for neutralizing Hageman. So far so good, and unlike large chunks of the results from this game you can maybe take that seriously since Hageman is a guy projected to go in the first couple rounds of the next NFL draft.

Tentative thumbs up to nouveau offensive line. Penn State should be may be a stiffer test.

Chesson comin'. Jehu Chesson was announced on the video boards as the third WR starter (along with Gallon and Dileo) and his targets reflect that. After only a couple looks his way in the first two games, Chesson probably has ten targets in the last three. He had a couple issues against UConn, but he also had a nice catch and run against Akron and adjusted well to an underthrown ball in this game. This is the kind of progression you hope to see: steady progress leading towards a large role by the end of the year.

Gallon overtargeting complaints goin'. Chesson and Funchess emerging should stop teams from sliding coverage over Jeremy Gallon, which Ace spotted in the press box, and allow Gallon to re-emerge as a frequent, productive Gardner target.


Same drive look as provided for the offense. Because it was weird:

  1. Three and out finished by a fumble.
  2. Epic 16 play, 75-yard touchdown march.
  3. 23 yards, punt.
  4. Three and out.
  5. 9 play, 55 yard FG drive.
  6. 11 play, 51 yard FG drive.
  7. 19 yards, punt.
  8. 29 yards, pick six

That's… fine. The norse saga that was the second drive was very, very frustrating and equally perception-distorting; I still get the vibe that this defense is a lot like Mattison's previous two outfits: good and only good, because they have no real stars. The good news is that Michigan gets Jake Ryan back soon, and he should provide a jolt.


this is a sack yo [Bryan Fuller]

Pass rush check in. It wasn't great but again I think Michigan got shorted in the stats. Jibreel Black clearly forced a fumble behind the LOS to end Minnesota's first drive but did not get credit for a sack in the stats. Brennen Beyer was similarly shorted in the opener on a sack/strip. I just looked this up: unless things have changed since 2011 (page 4), a FF on the QB in the backfield is a sack. Is Michigan's official scorer screwing this up? This is twice now.

Anyway: mediocre at best, again. Two sacks on 21 attempts, both of them flush-and-chases after a moderate amount of time in the pocket. It's okay, I guess? Michigan again laid back and blitzed sparingly, contributing to that. It is what it is at this point. At least Jake Ryan is returning soon.

10107693483_f559b14885_z[1]Man, that looked bad. No official word yet but with Ondre Pipkins coming off the field without putting any weight on his left leg and the general reaction, I'd be surprised if he wasn't done for the year with an ACL tear or something similar. It looked bad.

That's the worst possible timing, as if this had happened in the last game Pipkins would be eligible for a medical redshirt; now he's (seemingly) just lost a season of eligibility and has to rehab his knee while attempting to maintain, if not up, his level of fitness. That's tough if you're Blake Countess, tougher still if you're a 320 pound nose tackle.

Nose tackle is a bad spot to take a hit because of the one-and-a-half starter thing. Michigan may be able to get away with Washington for the majority of the time since they'll lift him in the nickel; Richard Ash and maybe Willie Henry will absorb what snaps Washington can't handle.

[UPDATE: Hoke confirms that Pipkins tore his ACL and is done for the year.]

[Image: Upchurch]



Very conservative. The above is photographic proof that Minnesota did indeed throw it at a wide receiver on a pass that was not the slightly terrifying time Countess got beat over the top and Leidner left it way short. Jibreel Black looks like he's about to help tackle, so that's probably four yards downfield. Minnesota played offense a lot like Michigan: terrified of shooting itself in the face.

Minnesota came in trying to shorten the game, and did so. Michigan conspired to help them by playing soft. It ended up fine, but there were a lot of nervous moments until Michigan pulled away in the second half. It was frustrating to watch, as it didn't seem like Minnesota had any prayer of exploiting hypothetical Michigan blitzes on the regular.

Game theory thing: you're playing into the underdog's hands by playing bend but don't break, as they can shorten the game in a manner similar to Minnesota's. Then if you make a mistake you're in a dogfight instead of slightly annoyed. Unlike UConn, Minnesota was configured to do this sort of thing. If blitzing is EV neutral you should do it, and in this one it seemed unlikely that it could be anything but EV+ going up against a freshman who's not much of a thrower.


Wile seems fixed. Three punts for an average of 52 yards each following five for 42 yards each against UConn. Hopefully the shanks are behind him.

Gibbons irrelevancy parade ho. He's had two attempts the last three weeks: a missed 45-yarder against Akron and the chip shot to take the lead against UConn. 4/5 on the season, and while he'll get some extra opportunities against better defenses it is a tribute to Gardner's red zone skills that he's a bit player at best.

Dileo: what took so long? Drew Dileo may not be the fastest guy in the world but he came in as a guy who was supposedly a punt return specialist, watched Jeremy Gallon make a lot of bad decisions and not return the ball very far very much, and then had a similar experience with Dennis Norfleet. (Norfleet at least looked like a real threat when he got his hands on a returnable punt.)

Dileo has moonlighted as the returner throughout his career but it seems like it took errors from other guys over three years to take and give him the full-time punt return job. He's made two tough catches on line drives that he's returned and has not fumbled or made a bad decision yet. Punt it to Dileo.

Picture Special K trolling. I'm still not sure what it is about "Blurred Lines" that makes it more of a target of feminist ire than every other song in its genre, but if it gets people noticing that a decent chunk of Special K's playlist is about bonin', okay. Daily:

The song was played three times Saturday during Michigan’s 42-13 win over Minnesota. Twice, the song cut out after the lyrics “Everybody get up,” but the third time the song played over the speakers at the Big House, it reached the chorus. This is a chorus that repeats the words, “I know you want it,” over and over again by an artist who clearly knows exactly what all women want by saying, “Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you/ He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that.”

Last year, Special K played "Whistle," which in addition to being stupid is obviously about blowjobs in a way that causes 13-year-olds to titter. I'm personally more offended by "Build Me Up, Buttercup" but I've given up on the idea Michigan Stadium will be anything other than a place I grit my teeth and tolerate so I can watch Michigan play football; that's not going away. Can we at least agree that songs with overt sexual content are not appropriate for a football game?


Best And Worst:

Well, listening to this game on ESPN2 was about as much fun as listening to Michael Cole do anything during a match.  By my rough calculations, the announcers droned on about Devin Gardner’s “poor” accuracy for 8.5 quarters of the game, and complained about a 30-yard completion to Gallon because it was behind him. Of course, later in the day the ESPN ticker pointed out that Gardner has the second-best QBR line of the day (94.2), and that included QBs who played against Temple, Georgia State, and Colorado. I know announcers want to add drama to events that organically lack it, and Gardner clearly had some issue throwing the ball at times.  But you could have left the door and some commentors from RCMB and Bucknuts could have taken a turn on the mic without people noticing a difference in quality. I suspect ESPN doesn’t care one bit, but when UM fans are clamoring for Spielman (who is fantastic) and Mason or Herbstreit (less so), you know you’re having troubles in the booth.


Inside The Box Score:

Four Fried Chickens and a Coke
* The four returning linemen joined with newcomer, Chris Bryant, to provide an effective rushing attack. Michigan only fumbled one snap, something that we were all worried about, and gave up only one sack. It was really nice not watching our center get pushed back five yards on nearly every play.
* Besides the 9 yard sack, our o-line only gave up 4 yards worth of TFL's to Minnesota.

And some dry white toast please
* Wile was back to normal, providing all the excitement of dry white toast. He averaged 51.7 yards on three punts, that netted an average of 45.7 yards.


I hate Illinois Nazis
* If you're going to make a Blues Brothers-inspired T-Shirt about one of our longstanding rivals, how is this NOT the shirt?

This is a fair point.


Blog folks. Dooley is of course jug-nuts (jug-nuts!). All of the jug nuts. Jurrg nurts. He is also trying to make "Butt Funch" happen.


More photos from Maize and Blue Nation.

Touch the Banner:

Devin Funchess is the next Braylon Edwards. Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess exploded for 7 catches, 151 yards, and 1 touchdown on Saturday. The coaching staff made the decision to split Funchess out wide for most of the game, rather than using him as a true tight end - which makes some sense because Funchess is a poor blocker.

That's the most enthusiastic Magnus has ever been about anything.

Maize and Blue Nation:

POINT AFTER: The interference non-call
Late in the second quarter, Michigan had a 3rd and 8 where Gardner threw one over the middle for Funchess and he was clearly interfered with and no call was made. That was complete horse radish.

I'm not sure if this is why, but I'm pretty sure that ball took a slight deflection as it passed a linebacker further upfield.

Sap's Decals:

MATT WILE (PUNTER) – I’m giving this to Wile (as a punter and not as a kickoff artist) based on the fact he not only boomed one punt 55 yards, but it ended up being downed at the 1-foot line:

3 punt downing

By flipping the field on the Gophers, UM benefitted from the field position and ended up scoring on the ensuing possession. He also had another punt that was fair caught just inside the Gopher 20-yard line.

The Gopher perspective:

this week I am embarrassed

but last week I was humiliated, so I guess it is an improvement.

Maize and Brew. Hoover Street Rag. Holding The Rope.

Northwestern won Gameday.


Penn State reacts to getting Hoosier-pantsed.

News folks. Player interviews from Maize and Blue News. Lewan:

Lewan on the run game:

“I feel like we found a groove today,” Lewan said. “Every first down we were gaining yards except for one or two. That’s the goal — keep moving the line of scrimmage, keep getting those yards and eventually one of those will pop. Fitz is a great running back. He’s got to get an opportunity to show it. Fitz needs to have at least 100 yards every game in my opinion, he deserves this. He works so hard.”

He does have a point that the consistency has something to say for itself, in the same way that it's worth running instead of passing even though YPA is generally a lot higher than YPC.

No turnovers. No turnovers. Funchess talkin'. More Funchess talkin'. Stock report. I'm not quite sure if it's a resurgent offensive line just yet, but this is an excellent story:

As Gardner tells it, during the week, the line “told me they weren’t going to let me get hit. So I like that.”

Fifth-year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan disputed that, saying he would never pledge something he couldn’t deliver. (“If they bring too many guys, if they bring 11 guys and we have six protecting, I’m not going to be like, ‘OK Devin, good luck!’ ” Lewan said.)

"Can't block" is kind of a big criticism for a TE. Not so much a WR.


Fundamentally, Minnesota isn’t a dramatic step up in terms of competition. But that hardly mattered Saturday, because this was about building confidence as much as it was building an identity,

“We want to run the ball,” coach Brady Hoke said. “And we wanted to send that message.”

And inasmuch as the two go hand-in-hand, Saturday’s message should be well-received.

Baumgardner. Gotta stop the run.



October 7th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

But to me Seven Nation Army only seems to work when it's dark out. If not the night games, at least the late afternoon dreary days of Fall games. It somehow seems jarring when they play it in the noon sunlight. And while I don't mind it near as much as some, playing it right at the beinging of the first drive of the game for the opposition just doesn't fit.

It's not the music but the timing of some of this stuff. You're right on about Buttercup. In a blow out where everyone has a long break to kind of enjoy the beating it would be fine. In between important plays not so much.

And I'll give the band credit for trying something new. It didn't really work, the instructions were horrible, and it seemed just a scam to get people on their text lists.  And the video board woes continue with the lyrics.  But it was different, if not a success. Probably not a bad idea for a Homecoming halftime that you're not just going to play all the traditional stuff (so much of which gets played pre-game now). But the execution needed some work.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:05 PM ^

Interesting point about 7NA. Never thought about that but it sort of makes sense. Still, there aren't that many songs that everyone knows how to chant like that.

Were any of the halftime songs in the sing along popular tunes from the band that were a part of gamedays past? That's the only theory I could think of that makes sense. They were mostly not tunes I'd expect in a sing a long.

"Don't Stop Believin' " and "Livin' on a Prayer" were very commonly played by the band in the mid 2000s. Livin' on a Prayer in particular was prominently featured in Braylonfest, so it brought back good memories (and had great participation in the sing a long).

But how the heck do you expect people to sing a long to "Radioactive" or "Low Places" apart from the chorus?

Unless I'm forgetting something, I thought Buttercup and Shout were deployed pretty appropriately this game. And Sweet Caroline was only used in halftime. Not a terrible outing by Special K.

One thing I do miss is that it seems like "Let's Go Blue" (aka Big Cheer from the Big House) is deployed much less than it used to be. That's a shame, since, apart from The Victors, its the tune I most associate with the marching band, perhaps even more so than Temptation. Speaking of which, who would have thought a Perry Como song would turn into an iconic "intimidation" tune for a college football game? Traditions are fun, especially when they're weird.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:59 PM ^

I don't know what else I'd play.  There was a lot of talk when they first started about finding something new and make it Michigan's, but they didn't listen.  Maybe noon on a hot sunny day is not when you're going to fire up the crowd in a nothing game with music.

Living on a Prayer was a really popular campus song for awhile there AFTER it's initial release in a retro sort of way, and would be sung in bars and stuff on campus as well as the band playing it. (Much like Bon Jovi went from the pretty boy hair band to getting credit as just being rockers after never getting sidetracked like every other band of the era). So I have no problem with it. But you made me remember a good point.....they played commonly used Don't Stop Believin' and then skipped the part about born and raised in South Detroit. Accuracy issues aside, that's ALWAYS the part that gets the biggest sing along in the'd think you'd want to include it in a sing-a-long.

The others just seemed like an attempt to cover every demographic base in the stadium.  Let's have the country song for the fans from downriver.  Let's have "Radioactive" because it's new and something the students will like. New York New York for the old folks. Sweet Caroline for the soccer mom's. I don't think they actually appealed to any of those groups, but that's why they seemed to use them.

Buttercup was fine, and it's a fine song. It's more a fun one than a fire me up one, so it was fine on Saturday. (They also need to save Shout for a longer break so it can build because they start it, then immediately to everyone get softer, then game play is starting by the time everyone gets louder). If anything the more inappropriate timing was the wave when the score wasn't that spread out.

And I noticed in the last few games that it didn't seem like they were playing Let's Go Blue nearly as much as they have. Used to be I thought it was probably pretty obnoxious for opposing fans as often as they played it...which I was ok with.  Seems like now that it's a part of the opening they don't use it in game as much. Because I keep expecting after every 4th down they need to play the Hawaiian War Chant.


October 7th, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

YES. They skipped "Born and raised in [Windsor]", but played the chorus like 6 times. Big WTF moment.

You've mentioned the heat/humidity more than once. I live in Phoenix now and was dying from the relentless stickiness, so I'm right there with you. But hey, at least we didn't get the thunderstorm we were supposed to, right?

Worst part of the game for me was that I lost a cool Payne Stewart style Michigan cap I had just bought from the golf course pro shop, and I can't find it anywhere online.


October 7th, 2013 at 7:17 PM ^

What corner/section were you in? I'm in the southwest/18, so glad we didn't disappoint.

And while I was serious about CMU being what seemed like a long afternoon, I didn't think it was THAT bad last Saturday. The evening called for the AC to be back on even if I didn't, but the day even had the sun come out so I can't complain.

My comment on that was basically if we're going to complain about every little thing, the weather wasn't 100% perfect, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.


October 7th, 2013 at 10:37 PM ^

Yeah that's how I took your comment about the humidity. It wasn't too bad sitting down, but it wasn't something you wanted to move around a lot in. But, as you said, if we're going to complain we might as well be thorough.

I was in section 14, row 21. That's the southwest corner - I guess you were in the southeast corner? I was with the engineering homecoming, which bought a big block of tickets in that section. I usually don't like sitting in the corners or the end zone, but I was happy with these. We got to see a fair amount of action up close, including Fitz's double fist pump TD and the terrible no call when Funchess about got his jersey yanked off.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

Brian, watch the Blurred Lines music video and you'll see topless models dancing around. That's the reason for them being more upset than thinly-veiled sexual innuendos.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

For the Epic Double Fist-Pump,  how about the TD right before halftime?  That was a pretty big play: 3rd and 14 in a tie game, and was a nice throw and catch.

Also, honestly man, when you cover Michigan sports for a living it's hard to play the sympathy card.  I'm sure it gets repetitive at times but really, that's true of every job in existence.  



October 7th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

41 of my 46 years.  I've never been so dissatisfied with the stadium experience.  M Stadium was dead.  The $50/entrance Pioneer tailgate was dead.  Tickets ranged from free to $5 outside the stadium at gametime (we're undefeated, it's homecoming, it's a B1G opponent).  A bottle of coke is $5 and a bottle of water $4.50 (after taking the $70 loss on your ticket thx).  The 5 minute media timeouts separated by 0:45 of clock time at the end of the first quarter.  The stupid piped-in music choices (including the stupider halftime "sing along").  The stupiderer video attempts to generate artificial excitment while anything that may have spawned real excitement was completely crushed by all the above.  What was once something truly special damn-near every home week now requires crazy on-field drama for mere decency.  Fuck Dave Brandon.


October 7th, 2013 at 7:29 PM ^

Yup. The Rich Rod years have taught us to react with great skepticism to any sort of struggles against a perceived inferior opponent even while winning the first few games. It's going to be very hard to get past that because the feeling of invincibility is gone.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

No positives? The alumni band and cheerleaders doing their annual cool stuff on the sidelines? Honoring the impressive number of champions from the previous year wasn't cool? Since when has a Big Ten opponent guaranteed that the stadium be super pumped about it? I thought for Minnesota the crowd was fine. As to the concession prices I'm not sure where you've been going that's had better prices than that. Media timeouts and band halftime performances aren't under the control of the athletic director either.

Complaints about atmosphere during less than big (the three rivals) home games have been going on forever. Don't pretend this is a new problem we are now facing.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

because we're on the same side.  My beef is the the manner in which all that has become bad seemed coordinated and amplified.  Honoring all those past and current champions was great. In fact, besides a nice performance from Funchess, it was the only highlight(s) of the day.   If the Akron game was played during a thunderstorm in the 3rd year of the RR era and we lost, I'd understand a shitty atmosphere.  Saturday was shameful; and shameful for no reason. 


October 7th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

I was there and I just don't get the degree of scorn this is getting. The TV timeouts are a moot point because Michigan has zero control over that. It felt worse probably because the Minnesota drive caused them to get behind on the number of breaks they'd usually have at that point in the game. So that's not a valid complaint to me. The piped in music can be annoying but I still hear the marching band a good percentage of the time so I can let it go.  The alumni cheerleaders and band were entertaining.

Maybe I'm too focused on the football game to get annoyed at these things but if the weather is fine and the band is audible when the play I don't have any complaints about atmosphere.


October 7th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

Random 2nd quarter music doesn't really bother me that much. And if you parents out there think your kids are learning the blurred lines lyrics from Michigan Stadium then I think you're probably missing a lot of other things as well.

Overall when the guy with the wires stands out of the 30 yard line, that's my biggest frustation with watching games in the Stadium.


October 7th, 2013 at 2:43 PM ^

They kind of had to do that.  There are supposed to be 8 TV timeouts a half, including the break between quarters.  They try to make the quarter break the 5th of the 8, so there are fewer timeouts in the second & fourth quarters than in the first & third.

The first timeout was not taken at the change of possession at 13:30 after Minnesota's 3-and-fumble, because they try not to take timeouts in the first 3 minutes of a half.  So the first timeout was at 10:36, after Michigan's punt.

As a result, the second timeout could not be taken until the last minute of the first quarter, at 0:52 to go right after Minnesota's touchdown.

Since they were so far behind, they took the third timeout right after Michigan's kickoff return at about 0:45.

The fourth timeout came at the quarter break (so they were still 1 timeout behind, because they want the quarter break to be the 5th timeout).

So when Michigan punted at 14:08 of the second quarter, they took the 5th timeout and were all caught up at that point--there were 3 more timeouts to be taken in the last 14 minutes of the half.

So the result of the Minnesota 9:44 drive was that they took 4 timeouts as only 1:44 came off of the clock during a Michigan 3-and-out.  It was excruciating when it was happening, but it was extraordinary because of the extraordinary drive Michigan gave up.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

Literally nothing about what you wrote is different than what existed in the mid 2000's except things cost more, which I don't like but is true everywhere and prices went up before dave brandon, so really its just that you've been convinced that the athletic director, who has made nothing but great hires, brought in a ton of money, been at the helm for incredibly successful non revenue sports (part of his job to support) is terrible because he is continually exploring new ways to bring in money or make the experience better.  Just because you've convinced yourself that 30 years ago everything was the best it could ever be doesn't mean new fans agree with that and bringing in new fans is crucial to the survival of Michigan.  


October 7th, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

And I'm not saying I agree with everything the guy has done, or that the experience is better, I'm just saying he has been a good overall athletic director and the vitriol on this blog towards him is absurd. The biggest change on the atmosphere is probably the increase in ticket prices, which I hate but is a thing every  ad at every school since college football became a revenue generating sport has done so I'm not going to say Dave Brandon is evil because of it.


October 7th, 2013 at 2:07 PM ^

Because change is inevitable.  It doesn't mean we need to look to Ford Field or Mud Hens stadium (if that's what it's called) to figure out where we're going.    We're gonna have TV timeouts.  I get it.  Is Seven Nation Army really the best "The Michigan Difference" can do to fill the time?  Brandon has made good hires and I appreciate it, but he is also presiding over a  steady decline in the gameday experience.  That experience and TV revenue drive all else.  He needs to do better.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

I'm not saying that I like all the changes, or even any of them.  But for all this nostalgic thinking about the past, Michigan fans have spent most of the modern era for being "the quitest 100k you'll ever hear" a "wine and cheese crowd" and just generally not imtimidating in any way.  I don't have a problem with trying to change things up that might get the crowd more into parts of the game that they otherwise wouldn't be,  Are they doing it the right way? probably not, but leaving as is wasn't as great an option as many people want to believe.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:57 PM ^

Although it is still a fairly geriatric group between the 30s.  Got louder with the boxes.  Like I said above, change was inevitable.  I just believe that we have the resources, talent, and confidence to do it much, much better.  A couple paying full price for the full game day experience would likely have shelled $250 on Saturday ($160 for tix, $50 for parking, $20 of snacks and sodas in the stadium, and $20 (????) for food and drinks at their tailgate.  A couple could also have spent $100 ... (3 bucks to park in a deck downtown, $10 to get in the stadium, $40 for a couple beers and lunch in town, and $50 for the same after the game.  Given the atmosphere Saturday, the $100 option is a hell of a lot better and everyone knows it.  But the department depends on the $250 option and had better start justifying it.


October 7th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

I have to agree with all of this.  The terrible at game atmosphere is one of the many reasons why I hate the NBA and I fear that terrible atmosphere has creeped into Michigan stadium.  Simple, timeless traditions are what made college football great and its marketing dips like Dave Brandon that are killing the things that made college football great.


October 7th, 2013 at 3:15 PM ^

What simple, timeless traditions did we not execute? We had all the alumni cheerleaders / twirlers who were their usual entertaining selves (+1000 to sword guy during Hawaiian War Chant). We had the lame locomotive chant that is tolerable because it's led by an 80 year old man clearly having the time of his life. The traditional 1st quarter drum break was great, and even in the opposite end zone sounded decent on the speakers. They marched out all of our numerous former champions under the banner, which was cool. There was the jug. We did most of the wave though we never reversed it. We did the "I can't turn you loose" dance about 2 too many times.

The media timeouts were basically the same thing back in the mid 2000s when I was there and are a necessary evil (the alternative is only having half the games televised). The only difference is that that time is now filled with a generic mix of stadium RAWK instead of mostly silence with the vague hint of the unamped marching band playing very musically and balanced over 100 yards away, interspersed with brief interludes of some irritating sorority chick on her cell phone trying to get her buddies to see her and some amped up dude yelling about someone needing to STEP UP! Yeah, 7NA is overdone but it's not like removing it vastly improves the experience.

All in all it was pretty good for a mostly noncompetitive Minny game.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

You're actually encouraged by that defensive drive chart?  Minnesota had essentially seven real posessions that allowed them to run their offense and they got about 250 yards, 16 first downs, and 13 points on those posessions.   Minny's two field goals were both the result of coming up short on 3rd and long after taking an unforced 5 yard penalty (and both FGs were kicked on 4th and 5).  In other words, we didn't legitimately stop them.  The one three-and-out in the middle of the game came when the Gophers got stuck at their own one yard line, a situation that hardly ever leads to anything but a three-and-out (and they still almost got the first down).  They blew us off the ball consistenly on short yardage and we could never stop the QB run because we had four rushers and then seven guys dropping back into the parking lot on every passing play.  And we got extremely lucky when the QB underthrew his wide open guy for what should have been an easy long touchdown.   Minnesota is a team with bottom of the barrel athletes and a redshirt freshman leading the team in his first start.  They got completely shut down by Iowa last week (and Iowa just gave up 400 yards to a terrible MSU offense).  Mattison got his ass handed to him repeatedly until he finally brought some pressure in the 4th quarter. Overall, a pretty shitty performance disguised by:

1.  Poor caliber of competition

2.  Minnesota repeatedly getting stuck with bad field position, thanks to our special teams, offense, and zero turnovers

3.  A shortened game where each team only got about 8 or 9 chances to run their actual offense.

4.  Unforced 5 yard penalties by Minnesota that led to field goal attempts on 4th and 5. 

5.  A terrible throw by Minnesota's QB to a wide open guy for what should have been an easy TD. 


October 7th, 2013 at 2:14 PM ^

The idea that Michigan never stopped Minnesota because they kicked FGs on 4th and 5 and had committed 5 yard penalties previously is totally ridiculous. It is completely non-sensical and negative.

One of the problems with playing a terrible team is often no amount of smothering seems sufficient.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

It's not ridiculous.  People are talking about how great our defense was in the second half because we held Minnesota to two field goals.  That fact has to take into account that Minnesota gained 8 yards on a 2nd and 13 that would have gained a first down without the penalty.  Instead of 1st and 10, they had 3rd and 5, and then they threw an incompletion. 

On the other field goal, a delay of game turned a 3rd and 6 into a 3rd and 11.  The 3rd and 11 pretty much takes away the QB run which was burning us left and right and it makes it a lot harder to get to 4th and 1 or 4th and 2, which are obvious "go" downs.  And our short yardage defense was tissue paper. 

Is it guaranteed that Minnesota would have scored a TD without those penalties?  No, I guess it's not.  But you shouldn't have to ask that question though against a team like Minnesota (who was playing a redshirt freshman in his first start).  If you are even just an average Big Ten defense, you might have to concede the space between the 20s against a team like Oregon.  But a team like Minnesota, you kick the shit out of them. 


October 7th, 2013 at 5:06 PM ^

Once it is 2nd and 13, you can't go back and make it 2nd and 8 retroactively. That doesn't make sense. It is nonsensical. It was 2nd and 13 not 2nd and 8 and both teams called plays to reflect that reality.

Teams commit penalties. That is part of the theory behind bend but don't break. That teams commit penalties and make mistakes.

Your argument is nonsensical and completely made up just so you can complain.




October 7th, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

I think the counter argument is, all those things happen through the course of a normal football game and aren't "disguising" poor defense. There's this unrealistic expectation that defenses are supposed to never have guys open, let alone allow completions, stop every run play 2 yards behind the LOS and dirty the QB's jersey on every pass play. That's just not how it works unless you're talking about very elite defense going against outmatched opponents. A good defense going against an equally skilled offense will give up yards and points and plays. On the flip side, it's normal for quarterbacks to throw inaccurate passes or flat out not see guys, and for guys to false start a couple times, etc. At the end of the day, we allowed 13 points with respectable yards per play. Are there deficiencies? Yeah, sure, but I just can't see the panic inducing performance that he sees no matter how I cherry pick it.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

That's the thing about Mattison, though; he doesn't care what it looks like (and I'm not channeling him -- he's said as much in his pressers).  If Minnesota happily killed their drives with penalties & bad throws or special teams does his work for him, he's not going to dial up his specially crafted blitzes just to grind his heel into his opponent's face.  That might make you feel better but it'd be very short-sighted.

Borges and Mattison won't openly say as much, but they like to stick to their base plays as long as they feel the game is under control.  It's frustrating to watch and can result in some ugly stats but they're undefeated at home for a reason.

I mean, Michigan won by almost 30 points.  Maybe they could've pushed that to a 40-point margin if they played all their cards but then what would've been the point?  Give Ohio all the game tape they need?


October 7th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

Isn't part of the point to a bend-don't-break defense is that it's *really hard* for offenses to string together a lot of plays without going full Rees at some point? Especially college offenses, since the limited practice hours with developing players makes it hard to eliminate all the rough edges. Complaining about how Minnesota killed drives with unforced errors kinda misses the point of the defense.


October 7th, 2013 at 4:14 PM ^

Eh -- I guess so.  But it's a strategy that doesnt work against most teams, because it relies on them making relatively easy to avoid mistakes.  It also requires them to not have any big play athletes who can make plays in the secondary.  Minnesota's apparent dearth of speed is a perfect example of how the shitty caliber of competition disguises a shitty defensive performance.  Not to mention, it shortens the game and forces your offense to start with crappy field position.  In other words, it means that you score fewer points too.  

Against Minnesota you shouldn't be in position where you are conceding the space in between the 20s on every drive.  You should be able to grind a team like that into paste.  We have now seen this defense struggle to get off the field against Akron and MInnesota.  How that scales up to great offensive teams like Northwestern and OSU remains to be seen, but the results so far are not encouraging at all. 


October 7th, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

Actually it does work against most teams. Not making relatively easy to avoid mistakes on any single play is easy, stringing together double-digit plays without them is hard, at least for college offenses. And part of having two-deep safeties is keeping big-play athletes to minimal damage on their big plays. Unfortunately this defense doesn't have the athletes to just grind teams into a paste just yet (it's in the pipeline, but hasn't fully developed yet), but in the mean time they're still doing an effective job by not giving up any big plays and forcing teams to execute the entire way down the field. Executing the entire way down the field is hard.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:12 PM ^

I guess we know why the board has become overloaded with negativity and complaints recently - that attitude is set by the site owner.

Your team plays 13 times a year and you find a way to write an entire intro about how it was dull and not good enough in a homecoming game that ended in a 29 piont win.  Come on man.

I'm also confused by "Am I a bad fan for wishing something interesting would happen?"  ...You complain about anything that can be categorized as a "wow experience".  After UTL2 Ira asked you what you thought of the stadium environment that night and you just said "I'd rather talk about the game"


October 7th, 2013 at 1:15 PM ^

It's specifically that sequence he mentions that we at home got to flip to (insert game here) during, but he had to sit through where there was probably what, 18 minutes of commercials and 8 plays from the Minnesota TD to early in the second quarter.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

But it's ante hoc propter hoc. Because Brian is negative today posters were negative 2-3 weeks ago?

I presume that when Brian wanted something interesting to happen he was talking about on the football field, not Beyonce appearing on the video boards. That would make his comment on WTKA philosophically consistent, at least.

You can interpret people's words on the assumption that they are intelligent and thoughtful, you know. It's kinda crazy to interpret them as if the person is stupid and then complain about them.


October 7th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

Yes, I would rather talk about a 41-30 win over Notre Dame featuring a superlative Devin Gardner performance than some flashy bracelets, and yes, I do feel mopey about what the game experience has become. I'm not alone judging by this comment thread. 


October 7th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

not you. If you don't like it, you can read something else. Is this really that hard?

You're going to counter, I suppose, by saying that Brian is being hypocritical. I'd say not. The Notre Dame game was a magnificent game and he had a limited amount of time on the radio to talk so he wanted to talk about the game. The Minny game was a bit blah (that was my experience also watching it on TV) and Brian has as much space as wants on his blog to talk about stuff, so he talked about that.

Have you written an e-mail with complaints to Dave Brandon? I have, and let me tell you, I wish I hadn't. It wasn't a pleasant experience at all and I came off thinking much worse of our esteemed athletic director. Brian Townsend, on the other hand, wrote a very kind response.