Hoke for Tomorrow Takes its Medicine (Sparty)

Submitted by Lordfoul on October 16th, 2011 at 6:46 PM



“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” 
Albert Einstein


I've started this post three separate times now and the agony of defeat has left me bereft of words the first two.  This time no fooling around: Rum makes words happen. Rum and bullet points... prose makes pain.


Learn from yesterday...

What can we learn from yesterday?

  • That it is not indicative of how well Michigan will play, nor fare going forward.  Every game remains winnable.
  • That this Michigan team is still composed of personnel that does not match up well with Michigan State, especially when the wind is howling.
  • That strong winds + Kirk Cousins > strong winds + Denard Robinson.
  • That punting to the moon is not necessarily the best idea in a windstorm.
  • That Dantonio is a good coach that hates Michigan more than anything in the whole wide world and is willing to overlook, if not coach his players to play dirty and take cheap shots at anyone in a winged helmet.
  • That sometimes you can just punch a guy in a game and it's all good.  No need to get hasty and eject anyone.
  • That having in-laws that went to MSU, and are smart, respectable people does not seem bad at all until Michigan loses to little brother 4 years in a row and they make sure to call and rub it in even though they would be totally embarrassed if they had actually seen the game and how the representatives of their fine university conducted themselves.
  • That yesterday sucked.


Live for Today…

Only two things to hang my hat on:


1.      Brady Hoke – Despite everything that transpired on the field, our team looked well coached and kept their composure.  There was not a whiff of retaliation and we should all be proud as fans of how classy our team was.  More than anything else so far, the game yesterday showed us that this is Hoke's team, and that Michigan is still in the business of coaching young men to greatness on and off the field.  

2.     Michigan's Seniors – It would have been easy to let emotions take over and start taking cheap shots at the end.  These guys took the high road, kudos to them.  They are the ones that will bring this team back together to finish the season strong.


Hope for Tomorrow


We may look back at that game as strong medicine, a vile tonic that both humbles and gives that fire in the belly that can lead to great things.  There couldn't be a better time for a bye week to regroup.  Then the season begins anew, with a warm-up against Purdue before the real tests begin.  Michigan was never out of the MSU game until that pick-six.  They were right there to tie it up late in the 4th and are again the equal of the Spartans at least.  Two weeks to coach off of that game film will yield dividends for a disciplined group such as this.  Hopefully everyone can stomach the 4th loss to Sparty in a row and keep their faith in our coach.  He will have Michigan a team to take pride in, and he is doing it the right way, the Michigan way.


Go Blue and stay safe.



October 16th, 2011 at 7:03 PM ^

Was looking forward to this post all day. Nice summary and I agree that this team is much better than the final score indicated. Still a lot to play for and a lot of season left.


October 16th, 2011 at 7:51 PM ^

Excellent points. I especially agree with Michigan personnel not matching up well with Michigan State. Our linemen are too small on both sides of the ball. Same goes for Wisconsin (good thing we don't play them), and… dare I say it… Ohio.

Ohio is far more beatable than State was. How often does any team with a fifth year senior QB lose a rivalry game at home? But as Ohio showed yesterday, reports of their demise were premature. And there is no getting around that whatever happens between now and November 26, losing to Ohio this time would be a horrible pill to choke on.

Let's hope it won't come to that! My wish list going forward:

1. Avoid major injuries (Denard, Martin, Lewan, Denard, Demens, T. Gordon, Denard, Kovacs, RVB, Molk… and did I mention Denard?)

2. Borges figures out better gameplans (not too difficult compared to yesterday).

3. Yesterday's debacle causes a renewed sense of determination. Not sure that's possible because this team doesn't seem to lack for drive or motivation.

Go Blue!


October 16th, 2011 at 10:19 PM ^

I completely agree that the school to the south is much more beatable than MSU was, depending on the weather. If it's snowy and cold, I'm not sure how well Denard will fail. And if we know anything, it's that as Denard goes, so goes the offense. Fortunately, that game will be in A2, and I like Hoke's mentality and the team being pumped up to provide an edge intangibles-wise.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:44 PM ^

Some seem to believe that with recruiting, UM will begin to dominate that way it did in early 2000.  I have to disagree.  MD is a good coach and Narduzzi an even better one.  Their defense was not that much bigger than ours and was LESS experienced than ours and still dominated us. Their OL consists of a bunch 2 stars and they ran the ball down our throat. My point is that the style of football played by MSU or Wisconsin can be run effectively without a lot of super stars.  Unless UM begins to recruit like Alabama or LSU, I believe this will remain a very competitive game year in and year out.

Swayze Howell Sheen

October 16th, 2011 at 11:08 PM ^

I think Borges did outcoach someone. Unfortunately, it was himself.

Sometimes I think he is one of those guys who is too smart and overthinks things, insteading of just handing the damn ball off or letting Denard run from shotgun. 



October 16th, 2011 at 11:13 PM ^

It was a tough loss, but strange to admit, unless other losses in the Big Ten where the Wolverines were clearly overmatched, they were very competitive and arguably played well enough that barring a few plays, they could have been the winners. Don't have that sense of unease about a collapse like last year.

I know someone might bring up that old saying, close only matters in horseshoes and hand grenades, but in this case, it matters a lot. The team didn't fold up and stayed active. We'll now see if they bounce back sharp and hard in the Purdue game.


October 17th, 2011 at 8:22 AM ^

but I think one thing that was not positive was our passing game (again).  I hate that every time Denard throws my first thought is 'OH SHIT IT'S GOING TO BE PICKED OFF.'  He could have easily had at least one more interception this game.  

The ESPN announcers during the game kept saying 'WHY ARE YOU TAKING DENARD OFF THE FIELD???' the reasoning that he gives you the best chance to win (data to back that up? No.)  But I'd be interested to see over the course of Denard's career, up to and including Saturday's game, how many times he's turned the ball over (via fumble or INT) and what the expected value of a Denard turnover is.  Anyone up for this?  Caveats for last year's defense come into play on this one.


October 17th, 2011 at 9:15 AM ^

I love this post. Agree with almost everything said.

There are a few things I'd quibble with.

First, I think the wind disproportionately affected Denard & therefore Michigan. Borges has said that it will take a full season for Denard to get his passing down. I think that under the same conditions, with the same personnel, but one more year of coaching under Borges, Denard and Michigan wins this game.

I also think that there are similar issues for the rest of the team. It takes time to fully install your gameplan, for both Mattison and Borges. Our seniors and upperclassman on defense (Martin, VanBergen, Roh, Kovacs, Floyd, Woolfolk) have largely done an excellent job (with the exception of Woolfolk being less than 100% physically.) They should have things pretty well nailed down in a year.

Likewise, on offense, in a year, our OL and receivers will know better what is expected:  how to pull, blocking schemes for particular plays, route running, etc. One big challenge, in my mind, is the running backs. For whatever reason (OL? shiftiness? Strength? Speed?) our running game just isn't what it should be. I don't know whether or not Rawls or Dunn are the answer, but as much as I like Fitz & Smith, it appears they can't carry the team with their running.

All in all, though, I can live with this loss. Which brings me to one other thing: Michigan State played well. Of course, Gholston took cheap shots. But football is a rough game, and you're hopelessly naive and looking through rose colored glasses to think that stuff like this doesn't happen a lot. And I am very skeptical at the idea that Dantonio ordered his team to play dirty and injure Denard. C'mon, give Dantonio and Narduzzi and MSU credit. While it is a very bitter pill for those of you who live in-state (here in Chicago, I passed a mom yesterdeay coaching her 3 year old in a MSU sweater to razz me,) we need to respect what Dantonio has done, and that MSU has played well.

I'm a Michigan fan through and through and have never rooted for Sparty. But still, I'm tired of all the "little brother," stuff, and thuggery stuff, and Dantonio is a crappy coach stuff. He gets it, in a sense, and has done a good job. Give credit where credit is due.

Hoke will use this, and with more of the right personnel, and more coaching, we'll return to prominence.

Deep Under Cover

October 17th, 2011 at 9:37 AM ^

I wish people would drop that shit, its pissing me off.  This stuff does NOT happen all the time, that is just something people who haven't played the game say based on conjecture.  Personal fouls happen, but this went beyond that.

Through my time playing

- I have never seen someone malicisously grab or twist a facemask

- I have never seen a punch get thrown (have seen it on TV, but NOT A COMMON PART OF THE GAME)

- Have never seen multiple blatantly late and violent throw-downs of the quarterback.

- I have never met a coach that would keep a player in after seeing him throw a punch.  There is zero tolerance for behavior like that with any respectable coaching staff

- I have never met a coach that would PRAISE his players rough play after they played a particularly dirty game.

Sorry, but the fact is this shit is NOT part of the game and does NOT occur regularly.  Its bush league horse shit that only a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit would tolerate.  Hallelujah! HOLY SHIT!

Where's the Tylenol?


October 17th, 2011 at 9:58 AM ^

For the record, I believe that:
  • Gholston should be suspended a game.
  • Dantonio/Narduzzi should be warned about dirty play.
  • Dirty play should be called, and the officials dropped the ball in the game.

I can't speak definitively about what is common. I certainly don't think that punching, etc., happens "all the time." But it happens. My son plays on the DL, at a much, much, lower and younger level, and I've already seen rough play and cheap shots.

What I believe, between Hoke, Mattison, and Montgomery, is that there will be payback, and it will be on the field. With what Hoke said in the presser, I believe he subtly threw down the gauntlet to Dantonio. Hoke didn't whine or complain, and he by his comments about football being a tough, men's game, communicated to Dantonio that he is willing to play that game. We'll see how Dantonio responds when it is his players who are beat out and beat up by MIchigan. Either he takes it like a man, or like a cowardly bully, he'll whine and complain in a way that Hoke did not.

Maize and Blue…

October 17th, 2011 at 1:10 PM ^

The blantant face mask on Denard occurred after the initial late hit.  The punch should be game 2.  Throwing an arm bar on a player in an attempt to injure or worse could possibly lead to a game 3, but we are talking about a conference that helped enable Ohio in its cheating.

Rush should also get a game for the BS roughing the passer.  The ball was releashed right in his face.  He came down and then grabbed Denard and threw him to the ground.  Then to see him taking congratulatory high fives on the sideline was disgusting. 


Gorgeous Borges

October 17th, 2011 at 11:25 PM ^

Where is the hope for tomorrow? I'm scared about the future. We've got a top-five recruiting class coming in and a great defensive coordinator, and I guess that's awesome. We will play a conventional, pro-style offense, and we'll have decent pieces for that in a couple years. But how will we ever beat Ohio State? Michigan has lost again and again to teams that it out-recruits; nobody gets less wins with more talent than Michigan, except maybe Notre Dame. How will we ever beat teams that we can't out-recruit the crap out of? Unless the NCAA comes down unrealistically hard on Ohio State, they will start taking back the Kyle Kalis prospects of the world. The state of Ohio has so much more football talent than Michigan does in it, and I think that they will start taking it again soon. We just had a football coach come here who had gone to two BCS bowls, who was one game away from playing in the national championship with far less highly-rated recruits than Michigan had, and he came here and had a losing record. It seems like since I was a freshman, in 2007, Michigan is a place where talent and promise come to die. Michigan has been where national-championship coaches and all-Americans lose to FCS schools, where brilliant offensive minds and Heisman candidates can score no more than seven points against Ohio State, where four-stars and five-stars come in and lose to two-stars and three-stars, and where disappointment is as consistent as hype.

Why would we be hopeful about the future? Do you think that Brady Hoke is significantly more talented than Rich Rod? Do you think that the top-10 recruiting class that Rich Rod brought in in 2008 is significantly more talented than the top-10 recruiting class Brady Hoke is bringing in? No question we have a better defensive coordinator than before, but Al Borges is not as good of a coordinator as Calvin Magee, or else he wouldn't have gotten forced out at Auburn.

Why will things be better in the future? It's not like we haven't gotten good coaching staffs or recruiting classes in the past.


October 17th, 2011 at 10:18 AM ^

One other thought:  It seemed that both Denard and Gardner looked only to the primary receivers as they through into coverage a number of times with no success when it appeared that other receivers were wide open.  Maybe the frantic rush of MSU had something to do with the inability to look off to the secondary receivers, but this seems to be a pattern.


October 17th, 2011 at 10:45 AM ^

But I agree with greenphoenix, where was the running at? It gashed them for our first drive, then we just quit doing it.

I am not a football Xs and Os person at all, but it also seemed to me that the Speed Option would have mitigated a lot fo these blitzes up the middle. It got blown up a couple times, but it seems we gave up on that too.


October 17th, 2011 at 11:44 AM ^

disappointed with offensive coaching. Normally Borges is top notch but tried too many cute things and didnt call plays to get the players in rhythm..

some is on the plays, but a lot on the coaches..dont sit denard ever if hes healthy..decoy him at the very least.

that being said i still hace
100% confidence in the coaches and players and hopefully they learn a lot from this game...this bye week is much needex, i just wish it was before the msu game


October 18th, 2011 at 12:52 PM ^

is on the right track. But we must temper our expecatations. College football supremecy has shifted considerably since the Hayes and Bo era. The power is in the south. 

Consider this. MSU beat us last year handily. They were co big ten champions. Yet in the bowl games against Alabama they were utterly destroyed 48-0. TCU beat the class of the big ten Wisconsin.

The MSU team of this year is weaker and yet they beat us. I would hazard a guess that but for the wind they may have beat us by a larger margin. 

What I am saying is we may never reach the upper tier of college football again. The dynamics have changed. I do not look forward to the next year game against Alabama. It will not be pretty.