Five things to take from this: We must recalibrate our expectations

Submitted by Lordfoul on October 4th, 2009 at 8:41 AM
Please realize that I have not yet read any of the discussion here on this board since the game ended.  I have heard some tidbits of what was said in the presser.

By no means is this an unacceptable loss.  If we take away the emotional aspect of getting beat soundly by our little brother two years in a row, this was almost a given.  We were playing a team with decent talent, a potent offense, and a desperate need to win.  Our opponent had to have this one, and they played like it.  But still...

I hate losing to State.  It is humbling in a way that is just too personal.  So much smack has been spoken, just within the family, and over so many years... I will be hearing about this one for a while.  There is nothing to say back this time.  Michigan was thoroughly outplayed and had no right to even be in this game.  The Spartoons managed to drive 130 yards for their first touchdown.  State was killing themselves in true Sparty-NO! fashion, taking killer penalties, gifting Michigan the ball with regularity, and it almost cost them.  Never underestimate the power of the Forcier.

Five Things:
  1. The fake punt.  What the hell was that?  I gather that the decision was made by Zoltan.  There has been no worse conscious decision made in recent Michigan Football history.  Yes, there was a lot of game left to be played, and yes, we held them to a field goal which they probably would have managed after a punt from there anyways.  That was still a move that should never be allowed to happen.  That is why I don't blame Zoltan for that.  I understand giving him the read on punts and taking what openings he sees, and bad reads will happen.  At the same time there should be set-in-stone limits to this, like when we are punting from our own 17.  On fourth and inches.  I put this squarely on the coaches.
  2. I don't know whether to defend GERG or throw him under the bus.  It is even more obvious that he is dealing with a completely inept secondary.  The way I see it he has two options to deal with this: 1) Drop everyone, Safeties, CBs, and LBs, back into coverage and rush only the line or 2) Blitz like crazy.  It seemed to me that getting shredded by Cousins led to GERG trying 1 for most of the game and Cousins killed us with his feet.  1 is the path of no contain.  Our defense had Sparty bottled up (or Sparty was killing themselves with penalties) for 3rd and 7, 3rd and 8, 2nd and 25(!), 3rd and 8 again and we would drop into almost a prevent defense only to get burned by Cousins.  Only late in the game did we start to go to 2 and it made a big difference in our effectiveness. 
  3. We can all be excited that this Michigan team has no quit in it.  No two score lead is never safe against us and that is going to be exciting for the rest of the season because we are certainly going to face many more 4th quarter deficits with this crew on defense.
  4. Two more streaks of note went down in this one IIRC.  The long streak of no 2 years in a row to Sparty, and I believe this was our first overtime loss.  They both felt strange, ya know?  Oh, well - Wipe the slate clean and all that...
  5. Congratulations to Michigan St for getting pumped up for the game and handing our asses to us.  They played very well and deserved the win.
Hats Off:
  • Tate Forcier - Wow.  Can this kid get any more exciting?  It seems like it would get boring always bringing him up for accolades but he is just amazing.  Stay healthy young man.  You could yet be the best we have ever seen in a Michigan uniform.  Super Clutch. 
  • Kovacs -  I am officially behind this guy 100%.  No, he is not a great option at safety.  He has an amazing ability to time blitzes, shed blocks and make tackles though.  I almost could see him as a linebacker if he could put on some muscle.  Just an amazing performance for a walk on.
Don't Let George Clooney Near These Guys (DLGCNTG): 
  • Zoltan - Sorry to say it but Zoltan was not good in this game.  Many short punts and of course the bad read.  I still love the guy though.
  • Woolfolk - This guy may be fast, but he can't tackle at all it seems.  Kovacs is not a good safety, but he is better than Troy. 

Looking Ahead:

This game illustrates further that we should be happy with 7 wins and a bowl game this year.  Iowa isn't unwinnable, but it isn't likely that we take one at night in Kinnick IME.  I think we will probably be at 5-3 after Penn St and looking for 2 wins the rest of the way.  Those wins look like Illinois and Purdon't (nice choke job boilers), with Wisky a possibility as well.  I hope we don't have anything riding on The Game as with nothing to lose, I think we win that one.

Have a safe week everyone.  Go Blue!  Beat those Hawkeyes!



October 4th, 2009 at 8:47 AM ^

I had never raised my expectations in the first place. We could have easily been 2-2 going into the MSU game with a home loss to Indiana on our resume. There's a lot of variance in wins and losses. It would be foolish to base ones expectations on record alone.


October 4th, 2009 at 8:54 AM ^

"There's a lot of variance in wins and losses."

There certainly is this year. I have to admit though that 9 wins seemed very doable after the ND win but now 7 wins seems like a very successful campaign.


October 4th, 2009 at 11:57 AM ^

After ND I believe you posted something along the lines of "is it conceivable that we could be in the MNC game?" Now you say 7 wins is "very successful." Why should there be that variance? IMO nothing much has changed to warrant it. Most of us here predicted something around 7 or 8 wins, and that's where things look like they are headed. Before the season we thought the offense would be vastly improved. Check. The defense would be a problem. Check. The only unforeseen element was that I think it's fair to say Tate has succeeded beyond expectations of most. That gives is the hope that we can be in any game, which is a huge improvement over last year. But otherwise, to paraphrase Dennis Green, "we are who we thought we were." So far.


October 4th, 2009 at 5:24 PM ^

'After ND I believe you posted something along the lines of "is it conceivable that we could be in the MNC game?"'

I never posted that. I did post a forum topic about not being considered in response to an ESPN article claiming that Penn St was the only team that had a shot. There were many B10 teams then (after week two) that were undefeated and therefore still had a chance, no matter how slim.

I thought that 6-7 wins looked good before the season. After Notre Dame I thought 9 wins was doable, but I never thought that 7 wins and a bowl game would be anything less than "very successful."

9 wins could still be had if our defense steps up their game and that, IME, will come from blitzing a whole lot more.


October 4th, 2009 at 9:04 AM ^

First off, Woolfolk had a hurt shoulder, which may explain his problems tackling. Of course, I still expect him to be condemned as yet another player who should be forced to give back his scholarship in the mold of Cissoko.

Second off, if Mesko is given the option, and Rich Rod is seen before the fake punt saying "No fake, you kick you kick you kick" into his headset, how in the blue hell do you blame Rich Rod? If it worked, you'd have given Mesko the credit. And if a player didn't rush off the weakside, it'd have worked.

So, in sum, let's all shut up about yesterday, it's done and turning it in an existential exercise is useless.

Prepare for Iowa. GO BLUE.


October 4th, 2009 at 10:18 AM ^

High all year long. He did it against ND, EMU, and IU. That is what is frustrating about that..

Hit the kid low and drive him to the ground..bad shoulder or not your the last line of defense and you do not try to hit a guy 25lbs bigger than you high. You get him down on a soggy field at an angle and you never know if the kick would be made or not....


October 4th, 2009 at 5:28 PM ^

Do we really have to be happy with the play of every player all the time? Does every Michigan Football player have an excuse every time they play poorly? Woolfolk has been something short of a liability leading up to this game and was pretty bad in this one. I realize that there is really no usable depth behind him and that he will be playing a lot. I hope that he will improve.


October 4th, 2009 at 9:09 AM ^

after the State game as 2-2 going into it. We played horribly for 3 1/2 quarters and still tied the darn thing up. I looked over to my wife and said.." I'd go for 2 and the win right now". We had State reeling and we really had nothing to lose....except the game! In hindsight that really didn't matter though.


October 4th, 2009 at 10:50 AM ^

Mathematically, it would have been the correct move to go for two after our first TD that put us down by eight. It would have been incorrect to go for two after the second TD that put us down by one, though.


October 4th, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

I don't know why anyone would neg me when I am absolutely, 100% correct. I mean I do know why. It's because they're not good at math. But I don't understand why someone would neg me just because they don't understand wtf I'm talking about. Please don't neg me just because you don't understand probability.


October 4th, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

I did not neg you. I'm genuinely curious to know what your logic is here. After the first TD, the PAT allowed us to cut it to seven. How was going for two the better play? (Keep in mind that teams convert only about 40% of the time on 2-point attempts, while PATs are in the neighborhood of 95% successful.)


October 4th, 2009 at 12:47 PM ^

I apologize for assuming you negged me.

I read a writeup on this awhile ago. Of course the link is dead now. Anyway, here are the numbers:

43.5% college success rate for two point attempts
93.8% college success rate for extra points

Assume 50-50 chance of winning in OT.

Go for two on the first TD:

43.5% success * 93.8% success on extra point after second TD= 40.8% win in regulation.
43.5%success * 6.2% miss extra point after 2nd TD * 50% chance to win OT = 1.3% win in OT
56.5% fail on first 2 point try * 43.5% success on 2nd try * 50% to win OT = 12.3% win in OT

54.4% of the time Michigan goes for two after first TD, Michigan wins.

Kick extra point after first TD:
93.8% success * 93.8 success on 2nd kick * 50% chance to win OT = 44.0% of the time Michigan wins
6.2% fail on XP after first TD * 43.5% success on 2 pt try after 2nd TD * 50% chance to win in OT = 1.3% of the time Michigan wins in OT.

45.3% of the time Michigan attempts an extra point after the first TD, Michigan wins.

Go for two after the second TD, down by one point:

43.5% success rate. Michigan wins 43.5% of the time. This is the worst option of the three.

You should always go for two down by eight points late in the game when you think there will only one more opportunity to score.

sorry about the formatting

for some reason I can't get to the preview page

Kilgore Trout

October 4th, 2009 at 11:36 PM ^

And I may be wrong here, but I think this argument is fundamentally flawed. I don't think you can add all of the percentages together to get the total chance of success in each scenario like it looks like you've done. Each series of events (success / success / fail and so forth) is an independent set of events, and their probabilities stand alone. So I look at your numbers and say that the highest percentage of winning happens with kick / kick / OT which comes out to a 44.0% chance of winning. Correct me if I'm wrong... (lord knows someone will!)

I think I might be wrong and you might be right. I can't wrap my head around this now. Fail by me either way.

So I did what every math problem requires (to me at least), I made a spreadsheet, and cbus is correct. Unconventional and kind of nonsensical to me, but the numbers don't lie. I can't imagine what an ESPN analyst would say if UM lined up for two after Stonum's TD.


October 4th, 2009 at 8:38 PM ^

The point system was set up to thwart trolls and keep this forum from digressing into the kind of personal stuff that goes on with most other board. To this end it has been largely successful, except there is a large cadre of M fans here that spend an inordinate amount of time posting and voting each other up every time they post, thus amassing huge point totals.

Why? so they can then spend their time negging any and everything in their path out of some displaced sense of self-importance.

They have lost sight of the fact that the points were to keep opposing fans, trolls and a-holes out, not to be divisive and confrontational amongst our own fan base.

Watch, this will get negged, you can bet on it.


October 5th, 2009 at 2:45 AM ^

I have just been reading this board for a while and watching it happen. All the time. As in, seeing diary posts about it, and seeing in the comments where someone new to the board breaks a rule...not a trolling rule mind you...and not one that is in any way offending to UM or the people on this board..and yes, they are suddenly bombed with negative votes. Welcome to a group of your fellow M fans?

I just think it is not cool and not the best way to treat people that are fans of the same team. You know, being on the same side, right?

To me it makes the boards a lot like Mlive or ESPN, which is what I thought we were trying to avoid.


October 6th, 2009 at 4:58 PM ^

I have been diving in some good locales (galapagos, cuba, bahamas/long island), but always looking for new ones.

BTW - you can see what I mean about the negs, this is a fine example. The point Natzis neg everything, no matter what, especially now that I have commented on them here and on one other thread.

The FannMan

October 4th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

Typically, I think the roqd team should go for two and home team go into OT. However, Tate was totally gassed and standing in a rain storm. He had put everything out there to score. You could see it on TV. I don't know that you could have hurried him into another play at that point. And you needed him to run the play. (Note, I am not being critical of Tate - he is human after all.)

Maybe if we had a TO to let everybody rest for a minute. We didn't and kicking was the right call.


October 4th, 2009 at 1:02 PM ^

I felt the same way. What the hell not? We didn't do much for 3.5 quarters yet we came back and ripped the collective-heart out of Spartola. Why not take a big bite out of the still-beating heart, go for 2, and get out of Dodge with our "drive by" victory?

Of course, that's easy for me to say. How pissed off would everyone be at RR if he DID try for 2 and fail?


October 4th, 2009 at 9:17 AM ^

Losing to State and realizing all the flak we're gonna have to take for another year made me reevaulate my expectations from this team. Yes I know its a work in progress, but I checked RR's record at WVU:

2001=3-8 (Been there, done that, lets move on)
2002=9-4 (Still possible)
2005=11-1 (Pat White and Steve Slaton arrive)

Two things I'd like to draw from this pseudochart:
1)RR's record did not change much from yr 2 to yr 3 or even yr 4 for that matter when all the players were supposed to be RR recruits.
2)RR's record looked UM-2006 esque for the next 3 years when Slaton and White arrived.

Now TATE IS LEGEND and Denard is faster than White (according to RR), but what about Slaton? Next year, we lose RAGE and Brown and I haven't really seen Shaw or Cox in action.


Steve in PA

October 4th, 2009 at 9:52 AM ^

We knew we weren't going undefeated. Yes this one sucked, but it wasn't like losing to App State. I see at as a coaching moment for RR. Now the team knows what it is like to come up just short and maybe we won't take the 1st half off next week.

As a couch coach, I also would have gone for 2. We were the underdog, had momentum, and could have put the game away right then or lost which is what happened anyway. Regardless, this team has proven they have no quit.


October 4th, 2009 at 12:11 PM ^

Are you saying that given the 40 minutes they were on the field and given some critical stops that they played ok? I would support that, but on the other side you have to admit IMO that there was some truly awful tackling, and IMO they out toughed us on the line for the majority of the game. Add in poor LB play, 417 yards against and poor third down play and I think that spells bad defensive performance. Now should people be so upset? Subjective, but probably not. Even given all the above we surrendered 20 points, which should be enough for our offense to overcome.


October 4th, 2009 at 1:20 PM ^

In reference to the should people be upset?

Emotionally? Yes and a little no. It's not fun to see your team get pushed around in the trenches and be beat on 3rd and long often. It's not fun to see Cousins make plays with his feet. OTOH, limiting State's scoring is actually pretty impressive though. Our red zone D seems to be fairly effective.

Rationally? Not so much. While you cite compelling reasons on the surface, I would ask this: What did you expect to happen?

Empirically what would lead you to believe that we wouldn't give up 400+ yards to MSU? They have a good offense. They have been putting up yards this year and we've been giving yards up. Many people were expecting a shoot out of sorts before the game.

Yes, the 3rd down play and some of the tackling was frustrating. But we have known the D was thin on depth since before the season started. We had awful tackling last year and have some of the same players. I actually think our tackling is better relative to last year. This defense is growing and will get better. How much better? I don't know, but I do know that you will see the problems you outlined to some degree the rest of the year. As others have said, we're 4-1. That's pretty good all things considered.

Finally, we also saw last week v. IU that we had problems that weren't just limited to ND's prevalence of future NFL skill players. Now with MSU in the books, the pattern is pretty evident.


October 4th, 2009 at 5:42 PM ^

This reads as a pretty good defense of GERG considering what he is working with. I really think that Michigan can turn it around on D if we start blitzing more the whole game. This should lead to more possessions and higher variance and therefore more wins for Michigan.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:50 PM ^

we held State well below their per play average. That's big for a defense that has had the problems you mention. The linebacker issues (tackling and "out-toughed" are basically LBs not filling) were masked thanks to good DB and DL play. Floyd was acceptable, Kovacs was useful, Woolfolk was okay despite injury and the players we've come to expect to rock rocked.


October 4th, 2009 at 1:45 PM ^

Assuming it's correct that they had roughly 150 yards on their first touchdown drive thanks to the penalties, MSU had about a third of its total yardage on their first drive. At that point they did look unstoppable.

Aside from that, though, and the touchdown in overtime, I agree that the defense looked okay. Relatively speaking.


October 4th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

If I had one feeling of major disappointment after the game was over it was for the O-line. I really thought they had a bad game. If someone had told me before the game that the Spartans were only going to score 20 points at home in regulation, I would have said Michigan would win by 2 TD's.