The Penitent Man

Submitted by Brian on November 23rd, 2009 at 11:55 AM

11/21/2009 – Michigan 10, Ohio State 21 – 5-7, 1-7 Big Ten

 tate-forcier-ohio-state-scramble tate-forcier-ohio-state-interception

Well… that could have gone worse.

Unlike last year, it is possible to construct an alternate universe in which Michigan wins the game. This universe contains 80% fewer crippling Forcier errors; not much else is different. Like last week's admission of crippling ennui after game 11, this is progress of a sort. The sort is still "not very fun progress at all," but it's progress.

Better than the slight competitiveness: now it's over and we don't have to watch the team/roadkill grind its jaw away any more. The focus turns to getting some cornerbacks and other assorted defenders, reviewing what happened, and waiting for what will be a telling 2010.

There should be no more stupid rumors that Rodriguez is getting fired. Bill Martin immediately announced that Rodriguez would be the coach in 2010, which like duh. CRACK REPORTERS then attempted to detect weaselly out words in the Martin statement and got a flat denial. There will be no more stomach-churning on-field events or stupid rumors that Forcier and Robinson are transferring. Maybe that latter is optimistic given the flimsy justifications for transfer rumors to date, but since Forcier and, oddly, Vincent Smith, have clearly denied any transfer intentions recently there's little that could convince them to leave other than Devin Gardner showing up in fall—not even spring—and proving himself God. Which isn't likely to happen.

There will be some sort of NCAA announcement that has a 1% chance of crushing Rodriguez, a 10% chance of actually increasing the heat he is under with the people who decide his fate, and an 89% chance of being either nothing or minor enough that it won't make a difference in a year or two when the wins and losses are likely to make the decision.

And then this two-year period of misery and flailing about will be over. Even if you are a tinfoil hat who wants Rodriguez fired yesterday and thinks the team will be just as bad next year, at least that won't be as bad, because the last half of the season will be talking about the next coach. More likely than that is that a non-freshman, non-walk-on quarterback and 16-19 returning starters and some consistency at defensive coordinator and progress everywhere and roster not operating 14 scholarships short see Michigan get off the mat.

The long dark of the offseason is merciful now and steadily builds to a yes or no answer in 2010. Or, more likely, a "maybe" answer leading to a surely definitive 2011. Either way, this unpleasant limbo existence has ended. Patience is a virtue because it is incredibly frustrating and painful, and we don't have to be patient any more.


  • Big post-game news is that Donovan Warren has tentatively announced his return. There is some wiggle in as long as Warren is going to put his name in for an evaluation, but unless that evaluation comes back more positive than he's been told it will he should return for his senior year. That's obviously huge, and may allow Woolfolk or Justin Turner to slide to safety next year.
  • In other corner news, Adrian Witty is qualified($) and will be on campus in January. Nice to see Michigan stick with the kid, and hopefully he can contribute. He was just a two-star but Michigan liked him a lot.
  • You will not believe this but I will say it anyway: Michigan's corner depth chart might be a little crowded next year. Young, but crowded. Both starters return, Justin Turner will get in on the action, and then you have Witty, Avery, and Talbott coming in with potential/probable commits from Cullen Christian and Tony Grimes coming up. That's suddenly five-deep in scholarship players (Floyd and Teric Jones also exist). Some of those guys will get bumped to safety, surely.
  • Many people are talking about the Ohio State fans who showed up en masse. I didn't think it was much worse than 2007, especially not in my immediate proximity. Two years ago there was this pack of Git-r-dones a few rows behind me that would literally say "ain't nothing wrong with that" after every four yard Wells run; this year there were scattered OSU fans but nothing as concentrated and annoying.

    But it was worse, and this has caused a lot of muttering about season ticket holders who gave up their seats. I don't think that's the case thanks to an excellent diary on the situation:

    …the Athletic Department has been "banking" all of the non-renewed season tickets. With those "banked" seats, the Athletic Department plans to be able to do the aforementioned aisleway widening, handrail additions and (hooray) widened seat-numbering, with a minimum of inconvenience and movement to existing season ticket seat holders.  … In the meantime, it means that the Athletic Department has larger numbers of individual and/or package tickets to sell.

    If you had wanted to conduct an experiment at the time of the OSU game, all you had to do was ask to see the tickets of any of those OSU fans; I have every presumption that in most cases, the tickets held by Buckeye fans would surely have been small and white, not the larger color photo-background tickets that go to season ticket holders.

    This problem will be less and less of an issue in the future, as season-ticket assignments within the bowl get settled after renovations are completed.

    … And, for people in Columbus, the Michigan game is the biggest day of the year.  They smelled blood in the water this year, and many of them made the effort, got the tickets, and came north.  Do not for a moment think that ticket brokers missed an opportunity to purchase a package of tickets that included Eastern and Delaware State, simply to get ahold of OSU tickets, and sell them in Columbus.  Those tickets, the package tickets, are quite likely part of the "bank" of tickets that the Athletic Department is holding only until 2010 or 2011, for the completion of the stadium renovations.

    This is definitely what happened: brokers snapped up the publicly available tickets and when game time rolled around the double-digit favorites are naturally more inclined to pay the premium to get into the stadium. There were some traitorous bastards who need to be hung by their figgins, but most of it was just Michigan fans not buying available tickets. Which means everyone complaining about how the stadium looked on TV has scarlet and gray on their hands.

  • Vincent Smith is your tentative 2010 starter after averaging 4 YPC on eight carries to Michael Shaw's 1 on 7. Smith also had three catches and Michigan's only touchdown on a sweet juke after Forcier scrambled himself into and out of trouble and threw back across his body…

  • …which was awesome but it's pretty easy to draw a straight line from that to Forcier's endzone interception, which was a slow-motion "nooooooooooooooo" moment if I've ever experienced one. The instant Forcier looked to the left side of the field I felt a disturbance in the force, and my main concern was that the guy not score a defensive touchdown.

  • Forcier in toto: is it crazy for me to suggest that I thought that was sort of an encouraging game? Five turnovers are horrendous and he made some terrible throws into coverage but he also made a number of outstanding plays; if he has the usual leap from freshman to sophomore and cuts down on the errors there's so much playmaking potential there that he could be crazy outstanding. There is also the possibility that he never calms down and he just makes killer mistakes, but most guys get a lot better as they age, especially folks who played crappy high school ball, as Forcier did.

  • Why the hell doesn't Michigan have That God Damned Counter Draw in its arsenal? Michigan is now a shotgun team that uses a metric ton of rolling pockets and in my experience TGDCD is 80% touchdown, 20% fail. Ohio State didn't even mean to call it and they scored on it.

  • Anyone talking about "class" re: Mike Shaw's pre-game run-in with some Ohio State player should probably look on his own rhetoric about how hating Michigan because some crazy dead bastard hated Michigan is part of his soul, man, and consider the logical twists and turns taken to arrive at the conclusion that bumping into mortal enemy and then woofing represents a character flaw.

  • Every time Terrelle Pryor morphed from arm-punter into terrifying tank on the edge, I thought to myself "Jim Tressel is an idiot." He isn't. He is self-evidently a fantastic football coach. He has gotten six straight wins over Michigan—though it's not like Michigan's made it hard the last three tries. But virtually every criticism leveled at Tressel about his neolithic Pryor offense is true. OSU's scoring offense is the zone read, and Tressel didn't even bother hauling it out except on like two drives, one of which was the quick first-half touchdown. The risky scoring offense is running your tank of a QB on the edge, and instead Tressel spent large chunks of the game in the I neutralizing Pryor's legs. What a waste.


MVictors was on the field and got some shots, including one of Brandon Graham walking for senior day. Senior day side note: much better logistically this year than before, with the seniors walking under the banner. Previously they had them along one endzone, which was weird.

Mike DeSimone has pictures from the day. Maize n Blue Nation has flyover video.



November 23rd, 2009 at 3:28 PM ^

Oregon struggled against Purdue and Utah before exploding against Cal. Stanford employed 52 rushes / 20 pass attack to hand Oregon their only conference loss 51-42. Oregon can be beaten, if you can keep scoring TDs.

When Jim Tressel watches that film of Oregon at BSU he'll see an ineffective Oregon OL, an out of shape RB (Blount) and several drops by Oregon WRs. Those are no longer issues.


November 23rd, 2009 at 8:19 PM ^

against the puberty version of our offense.

Great, interesting matchup from a CFB fan point of view.

I'm not sure who I want to win. I'll just watch and see which team earns my alligence through cunning and effort as the game goes on.

Sgt. Wolverine

November 23rd, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

This is a very minor piece of the OP, but: as a member of the Worse Balance Through CP Club, I'm overjoyed to know they're adding handrails; they're long, long, LONG overdue. I'm physically better off than the vast majority of my Cripple Nation comrades, but those steps are a challenge for me if I don't have a shoulder to hold onto.

Actual game-related question: it didn't really matter much, but was the roughing the passer call on the arrrrgh 22-man blitz screen pass touchdown a reasonable call? I caught only one replay of it, but it looked like another one of those overzealous qb protection calls.


November 23rd, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

I like the running backs we have next year. Vincent Smith is really quick and also is super tough. Michael Shaw is extremely talented I don't really know why he hasn't got it going yet though, that's why Vincent will be probably be the number one guy next year.


November 23rd, 2009 at 4:02 PM ^

One of the exciting moments for me on Saturday was a side line shot that led to me saying out loud "Jesus, who's that freak bear in the 76 jersey." Needless to say, I am very bullish on the future of Quinton Washington.


November 23rd, 2009 at 6:19 PM ^

QW = 325 pound freak bear. And our O-line needs more freak bears. It would be nice to just blow the DL straight backwards every once in a while, wouldn't it? Our current nimble nifties have to rely on reach blocks and cut blocks way too often, if you ask me.


November 23rd, 2009 at 4:45 PM ^

1). In the car somewhere on Pontiac Trail, I posited "Brandon Graham has four words for you: 'Ain't goin' out like that'." (It was quickly noted that this was five words, but the point remained.) True to my belief, Brandon Graham did everything in his power to get out of that game with a win. There's something magical and sad about that, like a wizard crying. He did everything he could do and it still just wasn't enough. (BTW, 9 sacks on 43 solo tackles for the season, good enough for a 20.9% of his solo tackles were sacks.)

2). Brandon Graham was expected, but Stevie Brown, man, a major hat tip to him for following in the Brandon Graham mode. I just remember several plays in the first half where I was quite please with his speed, force, and overall effort. So Stevie Brown, you will be missed, and I think this is a lot more than many of us expected to say about Mr. Brown when last season ended.

Bonus Note: Zoltan Mesko, 43.0 net average yards per punt against OSU, total for the season, 44.5 net average yards per punt for the season, a 1.5 net average improvement from 2008 and now a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, yet amazingly, only eighth in the country in average net yards per punt. Godspeed you! Space Emperor.


November 23rd, 2009 at 7:10 PM ^

of the coolest things I've ever seen. I think I'll remember that for a long time to come. I was sitting in the SW corner of the end zone surrounded by a lot of OSU fans and was pretty surprised at how quickly the O-H-I-O bs started. I mean, after that what's really the point of doing the M-I-C-H-I-G-A-N chant. Is it really that hard to watch what the OSU cheerleaders are doing and make sure something that doesn't happen like that? I truly hope thats something they try and prevent from happening in the future. This was my first time sitting outside of the student section and even though everyone in my section was standing it was pretty disappointing that there weren't many cheers that engage the rest of the stadium.


November 23rd, 2009 at 8:37 PM ^

Brian...just wanted to say it's encouraging to see I'm not alone with the optimism and reality you blogged...felt the same way Saturday and I've been attending UM games since the AC I've seen it all...I hope Rich Rodriguez can survive the current witch hunt that is probably spearheaded by loathsome Sparty fans and the Detroit freep turds. The team though only 5-7 and dissapointing, has come a LOONG way...TO ME LLLLLOYD cashed out on this program and as Rick Leach keeps reminding me, what kind of M MAN leaves his successor out to dry like that? Rich will get it done, I think coach Robinson needs another season or two with ACTUAL talent instead of the empty cupboards left behind. Coach Rod hinted at the last three or four years of recruiting puting them a bit behind. I HOPE Tate shows maturing over the winter and works his butt off to right the OSU gift he wraped and handed over...he's a freshman afterall and will learn from it. He's a sensational talent at making something of nothing and too often we forget he's a year removed from's huge and he will grow into that role as the leadership part is already there...ask his teammates. Likewise I'm so tired of the need to seek RR'S head on a platter...amazing how 'misplaced' or 'lost' workout forms are somehow more heinous than Mr. and Mrs. Bush having a million dollar condo on the beach at USC and the blind eye being turned on it...somehow we will be punished while other programs get passed over like the plague...I'm not supporting a skirting of the rules, just a consistency in punishing programs and equity in consequence vs. 'CRIME'...I'M ALL IN and look forward to will get better. Anxious to see Gardner play this weekend and will give reports following the Inkster state championship game this friday...I've seen the likes of Big Ben, Orlando Pace, and Charles Woodson from the opposite sidelines in my coaching days...I've seen what 'next level' players are all about...


November 26th, 2009 at 3:39 AM ^

If anyone comes back to this comment thread, I'd like them to weigh in on something for me.

I just spent about an hour arguing with a girl who's still at Michigan about why it's NOT a good idea to sell your ticket to an opposing fan, much less an Ohio State fan. (She's a casual sports fan, btw.)

I basically tried to convince her of how much we all LOVE Michigan, and HATE Ohio State (I referenced my past at the Hospital, growing up being a fan, loving Michigan even more once I got on campus, etc), but she still didn't think all the fandom and loyalty towards one's school outweighed making a quick buck because the team's losing, because "we're all poor college students." I don't care how poor you are, you don't sell out to the opposition, I know I surely didn't as a student.

Now, I know in my infinite fandom I am in the right here, as I'm sure all MGoBloggers will happily agree: you don't sell your tickets, and you surely don't sell them to Ohio State fans.

But this girl simply would not listen to my pleas of "integrity" and "loyalty to Michigan."

I don't understand how people can think like that; if anything, keep your ticket and go to the game to support your University!



November 26th, 2009 at 10:47 AM ^

Ask her if she'd sell her poon for a buck. Because now that we've determined what she is, we're just negotiating on a price.

More seriously, there are lots of things being poor can cause us to do that we don't do. And you wouldn't sell out your brother or sister, why sell out your brother in arms?

Unless we truly have gotten to the point where everyone robs, everyone murders....

(as you can probably tell I've had this "discussion" too with a female student I found out sold her an OSU fan, her cold dark heart. I plan on showing her the pic of the guy from OSU who had an M coed blowing Buckeye mascot guy, just so she knows what the guy she sold the ticket to probably thinks of her).