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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Right?

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Michigan won by a lot, eventually.

Highlights

Completely one-sided highlights:

Awards

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)

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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!]

Offense

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.

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Upchurch

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.

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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.

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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:

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Fuller

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.

Defense

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.

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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]

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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.

Miscellaneous

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?

Here

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.

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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.

Also:

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.

Elsewhere

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.

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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.

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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.

Niyo:

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.

Comments

True Blue Grit

October 7th, 2013 at 2:18 PM ^

But I haven't seen (at least in this thread) one person suggesting what they would like to see specifically to make the game experience better.  I've been going to games since the mid 1970's and I've seen much of the evolution of the game experience.  For years, Michigan seemed to be frozen in time with hardly anything changing.  But, I think the last 10 years or so have seen the biggest changes - largely because of the huge spending spree the athletic department has gone on to fund the BCS arms race.  The stakes are higher so prices have gone up and with it expectations of fans and others.  Brandon is trying to make things more entertaining (I believe) to make people think they're getting their money's worth.  Some things work - some not so well.  I'm certainly not a fan of everything that's been done, but I'm not so rooted in the past where I can't accept some changes.  As for the stadium being dead, that's nothing new even for Big Ten opponents.  I saw the same thing 35 years ago and no amount of piped in music or scoreboard exhortations are going to make that big of a difference. 

EnoughAlready

October 7th, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

Workmanlike on offense.  They took care of business.  Any "fan" who criticizes a team or coaches because he, the fan, was not entertained is a lame fan.  Go watch a sit-com instead.  Rich Rods games were Oh So Muy Exciting!!!  And he lost more games than he won.  If you're not entertained, instead of complaining find another team to root for.

Ron Utah

October 7th, 2013 at 1:14 PM ^

While a terrible choice for a song at a football game, it's at least an appropriate title given our team's performance.

The O-Line looked a lot better, but not where it needs to be.  It's a bit alarming that our TE blocking is so bad that we have to move Lewan to TE in order to get yardage out of those sets.  Overall, I'm pleased with the progress, and think it's too bad that Bryant wasn't healthy to start the season.  That said, we have a long way to go if we're going to MANBALL MSU and Ohio.

The D-Line just isn't that good.  We're not getting enough pass rush, and our most consistent pass-rusher (Black) is a liability on inside runs.  It doesn't help that we just lost Pee Wee for the season.  I hope Henry steps-up.

The LBs also concerned me a bit.  It sounds crazy to say that on a day when JR3 and DM combined for 19 tackles and a fumble recovery, but on QB scrambles your LBs need to make plays, and Leidner is no Martinez (or Armstrong), Colter, or Miller (or Guiton).  We must do better against QB runs if we're going to have a chance against Northwestern and Ohio.

The flipside is that something hugely important was accomplished: a receiving threat that isn't 5'8".  Gallon's cloaking device will be usable once again, I believe, because teams won't be able to roll a safety to his side on every passing down with Funchess lined-up wide.  I had no idea how fast Funch was--that fly route was pretty amazing, even with MInnesota disclaimers.

Also, I have to give Fitz some major props.  He went hard to the hole, didn't try to bounce everything, and didn't leave many yards on the field.  The UFR will reveal that he ran well and made the most of his blocking.  The stretch play was almost non-existent, and that is fine given its recently Dyson level of suck (although Green had a nice run in the first drive on the stretch play).

As for the coaching, today's prize goes to Al Borges.  Moving Lewan around and Funchess to the outside was a stroke of genius.  I hope he's got more tricks up his sleeve, because there will be stouter defenses down the road.  He had another great call--one he's used many times--on a DG rollout on 3rd down, but the pass was too high for a wide open Dileo.  I also give the guy credit for not getting completely complacent when we're ahead--the fly route to Funchess was worth the price of admission, and is a shot across the bow of all our future opponents.

Mattison's unit and play-calling was underwhelming, IMO.  Nothing bad, but not enough pressure, too soft, and still playing not to lose.  I will say that I think he's in a tough spot: we don't appear to have many good blitzers and the front four aren't talented enough to make consistent plays.  I'm interested to see how he deals with PSU's creative offense.

All-in-all, Hoke's coach speak is spot on: it's better, but not nearly good enough.

coastal blue

October 7th, 2013 at 1:23 PM ^

Its just not as appealing to attend games anymore. 

Short of a big home game (Ohio, MSU, Notre Dame or one with conference/national implications) why would you? 

You have to pay a exorbitant cover charge to sit in an uncomfortable seat. Once there, you get to see maybe 20 minutes of action over a three hour period. Anything you purchase will be horribly overpriced. You usually have to listen to people around you bitch uncontrollably with no option other than to try and ignore them. There's no flow to the game with all the TV stoppages. Its just not an enjoyable experience. 

Why go to a game against Minnesota when I can go to the bar with my friends and watch Michigan while enjoying a beverage and keep tabs on the other, actual interesting games going on around the country? Or watch it at a tailgate while playing bags, beer pong, horseshoes, etc. with people I actually like? Or watch it in the comfort of my own home on the big screen? 

It can be a special thing to be at a game like UTL in 2011 or MSU last year. But if there's nothing really on the line, its inevitable that people aren't going to show up to put up with all the negative aspects of live viewing. 

dcmaizeandblue

October 7th, 2013 at 1:35 PM ^

I can't even begin to explain why going to Michigan Stadium is so special and I guess that's the problem. If you don't get it you just don't.

How has anything you're complaining about become a new development? If there is a dip in the stadium experience (and I felt Saturday was no different than mid-tier games of the last 10 years) it is attitudes like yours that are to blame.

coastal blue

October 7th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

Perhaps its that the options outside of actually attending the game have become better than the experience themselves?

Don't get me wrong, you can't beat being in the stadium during the big moments of a big game or the tension from start to finish of a game like Michigan/OSU 2006. But you can beat the incredibly mediocre experience of seeing Michigan play Minnesota in 2013. 

jg2112

October 7th, 2013 at 3:28 PM ^

I think a lot of the attitude surrounding how you view the experience is how often you go.

I went to Michigan - Iowa last year. Honestly a bad game, against a bad opponent. An easy victory with little to mention except Fitz's leg and Senior Day.

But it was my son's first game at Michigan Stadium so it was special. We live in Minnesota so we don't get to more than 1-2 home games a year.

If I was going every week, seeing Akron, Iowa or Minnesota would not be as attractive, and I think that's a pretty understandable position.

WestMichiganMan

October 7th, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

They played the beat for "Wait (The Whisper Song)" by the Ying Yang Twins. All that ran through my head was "Oh God, please don't play the words, please don't play the words"

mGrowOld

October 7th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

This is hilarious.  We are 5-0 heading to Penn State.  5-0.   You cant win any more than that and unlike fucking diving, there are no "degree of difficulty" or style points awarded for artistic merit.  I simply do not understand people being unhappy with the results thus far this year as the team has won every game on the schedule which is what we allegedly all wanted to have happen.  And now our best player on defense is about to come back from injury which should improve that side of the ball signficantly.  But instead of being happy about being 5-0 we complain about cokes and music and long drives and all the other stuff that means very little (to me anyways) when you're winning.  Bitch about those other really important issues when we're losing and I get it - but not now.

God help us all if we don't go undefeated this year.  I think the sky will actually fall.

wolverine1987

October 7th, 2013 at 1:37 PM ^

Not one of them is walking around saying everything is great, we are 5-0. They are looking ahead to the tougher teams coming, and saying "we have to improve or we will be in trouble." PRECISELY what all the so called debbie downers some of you are mad at are saying. Football fandom is not simply about watching the scoreboard (well it can be, but why?), it is about looking deeper and trying to analyze how well your team is actually playing, and how that might translate to the future.

mGrowOld

October 7th, 2013 at 1:57 PM ^

I politely disagree.  I will bet you any amount you want that the coaches could care less about the music that was played, the concession stand experience and if the game was considered "entertaining" enough for the fans.  They would be focused on game play and game play only and if that was the nature of the complaints, both in the OP and the comments, you'd be correct.

But go back and look at how much time and bitching has been done about things that have nothing to do with the game or the play of the team.  That is largely what I'm taking issue with.

Needs

October 7th, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

The game columns, though, have always been Brian's account of how he experienced the game and the gameday experience as a whole. The picture pages, UFRs, etc., are more focused on breaking down what happened and attempting to assign some type of quantitative evaluation to the action on the field. The game columns don't try to portray the ideal or only way to have experienced the game, they're not an attempt to understand the team as a coach would, they're just his own attempts to make sense of his experiences with the game writ large. They're essays, not studies.

M-Wolverine

October 7th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

You're not really going to do anything that will help us win or lose.

And while it's more than watching the scoreboard, a big part of it is being happy when your team wins (and yes, unhappy when they lose). That part is really seemingly getting lost by fandom, and anything less than the total destruction and humiliation of your opponent is anywhere from "ho hum" to "horrible."

MGoLogan

October 7th, 2013 at 2:40 PM ^

I think the coaches are very happy to be 5-0.  Coaches will always be happy with a win, no matter the circumstances.  There is no such thing as a "good loss" or "bad win" in a coaches eye.  As I mentioned in another thread, some Michigan fans seem to believe our team is the only one that has issues.  I have read several comments about Michigan having no chance against the likes of OSU, Northwestern, MSU, and Nebraska if we don't improve, as if those teams have no flaws themselves.  Michigan is a good but not great team in a terrible conference.  If you don't think a good but not great team can win every game in this conference, I would refer you to 2012 OSU.

dnak438

October 7th, 2013 at 3:50 PM ^

that Michigan has "five team goals." TEAM goals. Winning is only one of those. So M won, "that's the good part" (his words). The other goals:

2. Turnover battle: "Embarrassing." (his words)

3. Kicking game: not good (my paraphrase)

4. Offensively: too many missed assignments, etc. (my paraphrase)

5. Defensively: too many big plays, etc. "That can't happen." (his words)

It's not a question of effort or individual performance. The team won but did not meet the five TEAM goals, which are not judged on effort, but on performance.

 

MGoLogan

October 7th, 2013 at 4:03 PM ^

Probably was worded poorly, but what I was trying to say is that in my experience working with coaches of all levels, I have never met a coach that was mad his team won.  Performance is judged on wins and losses and this year Michigan has 5 wins and no losses.  Michigan clearly has flaws but so does every other team in the Big Ten.

markusr2007

October 7th, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Jesus, Brandon, lose that godamn DJ will you?  He thinks he's good, but he's not.

Just mic up the damn band and be done with it.  Or if you can't do that, then mic up my grandma's 1978 phonograph with Cavender on a 33 and run it. Jeezus.

 

Reader71

October 7th, 2013 at 1:29 PM ^

I'm now totally sold on Glasgow. I was worried about him at center because he's so tall for the position and this makes it a lot harder to snap-and-block simultaneously. But he looked good, and against an NFL-worthy DT at times. Sold.

Also, MOAR TUPAC.

dragonchild

October 7th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

Minnesota milking the clock in the second quarter is not a bad thing.  I think they were counting on Michigan to turn it over a couple times since that's been the expectation these days.  Frustrating to watch, but if there's one thing I've learned to respect about Mattison on top of all the other awesome things he does, it's his game patience.  Everyone in the stadium could be screaming and panicking when he's actually going all Sun Tzu on the opponent.  Rarely have I seen his gameplans completely backfire and he seems to know just how much his players can handle.

That said the playcalling wasn't aggressive on either side (Borges or Mattison), largely because it didn't need to be, and it didn't need to be because the unbalanced line did the job.  The O-line established itself in the first drive and Minnesota sure wasn't going to throw their way out of trouble, so even with the score close at halftime there was no reason to showcase that run-pass option reverse halfback flea flicker or whatever they're saving for when they really need it.  3.2ypc is fine if much of that is because you're burning clock by throwing a freshman at a stacked line.

Funchess doesn't need to be dominant; he just needs to take pressure off Gallon.  His abilities are better for that than enhancing the run game.

Losing Pipkins doesn't cripple our defense.  It's just really, really, really shitty.

Relax, Lewan.  DG said that because the press was trying to bait him into throwing Miller under the bus.  Instead of correcting him, you should pancake the damned reporter that asked the mean-spirited question.  And then sit on him.

jamiemac

October 7th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

Hey Brian. We've noticed the downturn w/ concessions too. They've been running out of stuff all year: pop, water, dogs, change. You name it. Just get your eating and drinking in during the tailgates.....speaking of which........maybe you need to tailgate more?   I know the game was boring, but the day and evening was not.......come on over and hang with us!!

charblue.

October 7th, 2013 at 1:40 PM ^

winning. Can't do anything about the ESPN guys. You get what you get. If you watch these games to figure out what Michigan is trying to do even when they play over-matched teams and they succeed, what you discover is a team trying to shed its learners permit for a regular license. 

They still got some road testing to do before they qualify. 

The pace of play was awful. And the broadcast did seem like an NFL contest, nothing but commercials. Curiously the epic Minnesota drive which seemed like a winter solstice was perhaps the longest stretch of the game of continuous action. 

Looking at the highlights, though, let's take stock in what this game revealed going forward: Michigan wanted to boost the run game, give Green more looks, establish the Oline and show opposing defenses more looks, while taking the automatic double team of Gallon away by establishing either Chesson and Funchess. 

Hello Michigan's Megatron. It's fun to throw to a big guy downfield when seemingly looking inaccurate in your targeting is aimed at two things: putting the ball in a spot which makes you less vulnerable to pickoff and more likely for your guy to get it, even if he has to reach behind a bit. 

People are complaining about time and score, especially in the first half. Michigan ran 52 plays on offense, total. Fifty two. I bet Indiana ran 40 in the first half against Penn State. 

That number is incredible given the fact Michigan scored 42 points, however, they came by them. And here we are complaining about the music in between commercials. Well, you had a bad DJ, and we got stuck with a broken record about an inconsequential or misunderstood issue. 

And, guess what, you buried the lede. For the first time as a Michigan starter, Gardner didn't throw a pick. Now, that might be worth an epic double point, fist pump or whatever. Build me up buttercup. 

archrival

October 7th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

Speaking as someone living on the west coast with no opportunity to attend a Michigan game, short of the rare Rose Bowl appearance, this game recap is way too negative. I would love the chance to attend a boring Michigan home game. Although, for me, no Michigan game is boring, ever. I don't care if they're losing in a 52-14 beat down in the Gator Bowl, losing at home to Toledo or beating Delaware by a 1000 points. I love football, period. I also love Michigan football. So to suggest you would want to leave during the game is preposterous. 

I just took my daughter to her first football game this past Friday, this was played in 30 mph winds and there was probably 100 yards of total offense in the first half and a 0-0 score. This was my local high school that I have no vested interest in, but I would have stayed had my daughter not fallen asleep.

Perhaps I'm crazy, but I enjoy watching any kind of football and I wouldn't complain about a 29 point victory, ever.

 

Wendyk5

October 7th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

This makes me sad that I might have a better experience watching Michigan play at Ryan Field than at the Big House. I try to get to a game once a year, so I'm mostly happy when I go, though I do despise the piped in music, not for the sake of preserving tradition but because the music sucks. When I was a student, the band would send out travelling satellites to fill the void. Piped in music seemed unnecessary.

 

Plus - and I was just talking to my brother about this, and he was also a student in the 80's - even with all the "This is Michigan" talk, it still doesn't feel like this is Michigan yet. The sense of dominance is still lacking, and you don't go into every game, or most every game, feeling like we're going to dominate. And it's hard to know when you can legitimately expect that. After a coach's fourth year? Fifth year?  Perhaps what's missing at the Big House is the collective expectation not just that we're going to win, but that we're going to dominate. 

dcmaizeandblue

October 7th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

I'll save you the worry. Ryan Field is the size of a high school stadium with all the ads and annoyances of a Pro stadium. I've been to both and Ryan Field is not even worth a mention when comparing Michigan Stadium.

The band still sends out small groups. The band is mic'd and very audible when they play. The complaining going on here is as exaggerated as I've seen in a good while (probably 3 weeks or so!).

M-Wolverine

October 7th, 2013 at 2:40 PM ^

In the 80's the scholarship limit was higher so Michigan and OSU could hoard talent, teams like Wisconsin and Northwestern were the equivalent of CMU, and there was no Nebraska or Penn State in the conference to balance things out.  It went from being able to expect to win a title every other year to maybe every 3rd year post Penn State to now if we do it once every four years we're doing pretty well.  Doesn't mean we couldn't put a good team together than wins 2 in a row or 3 of 5 or something. Just that to go back to dominating everyone but OSU every year isn't happening unless the Big Ten continues to decline and no one else bounces back.

Space Coyote

October 7th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

Michigan ran it a bunch against South Carolina with success too. It won't be able to be successful at this basic of a level consistently, but it's not going away either.

Ron Utah

October 7th, 2013 at 1:49 PM ^

Do you remember if they used a TE as the backside OT on those plays?  The fun thing about the current alignment is that the defense doesn't know what's happening until we actually line up; AJ Williams could be playing TE, or could be playing LT.  This keeps the defense from putting a "big" package on the field.

Pray For Mojo

October 7th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

Anyone else really like the all-white Minnesota look?  Not every team can pull it off, but I thought they were pretty sharp.  (And the added bonus of minimizing the mustard yellow).

Zone Left

October 7th, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

On game theory.

Michigan probably viewed itself as substantially better than Minnesota. Therefore, they should generally want to minimize the effect of variance overall. On defense, that means forcing Minnesota to execute all the way downfield under the assumption that their new starting QB can't do that over the course of a game. On offense, that means running a ton of plays under the assumption Minnesota can't stop you over time. Tons of blitzing creates risks along with potential rewards that might not be worthwhile against bad teams.

That's one for two on my scoresheet. I'd like to see Michigan pick up the pace on offense against bad teams to get as many drives as possible. If they want to grind the OSU game into a plodding affair with the hope of winning the turnover battle, fine. Against Minnesota and UConn, Michigan should be running a lot of plays to get up quickly and then work on what they want to work on.

Brian

October 7th, 2013 at 2:17 PM ^

There are two levels here: play and drive levels. You're right that the play level variance in this one was low, but with only eight drives I think the overall game variance was higher. It's like a basketball team stalling when they're an underdog. 

This is admittedly handwaving.

Zone Left

October 7th, 2013 at 3:19 PM ^

Right, we're agreeing here. The overall game variance was high and play variance was low. Michigan couldn't make Minnesota snap the ball any faster when they were on offense, but Michigan could have sped things up much more when they were on offense to push the number of drives up--reducing the overall game variance. I wish they would have done the latter, while accepting that Minnesota was going to do the former no matter what.