Indiana: Game and Season Recap

Submitted by Swayze Howell Sheen on September 27th, 2009 at 8:42 AM
So I was at the game and watched the whole miserable thing from the endzone. Not the fun endzone next to the students but the other one where you get stuck when you buy tickets once in a while. Oh well. I guess that is what you get if you don't donate enough CASH MONEY to the University. Let me now give you a game recap for all of you who keep visiting the blog hoping that some actual good content has shown up via Brian or whomever.

This was a bad game. Really bad. Really really bad. Did I say how bad? Quite bad. The defense, you realize, has basically gotten shredded every week since the opener. Can't stop the run, not good against the pass. If they invent some new third thing (e.g., skipping, rolling the ball forward to someone, etc.), this defense would be bad against that too, probably.

GERG, where are you? You and your white-haired glory somehow are not getting our boys into the mindset of a good big-ten defense. It has been SO LONG since we had a good defense! OK OK, 2006 was good, but then somehow that all went to shit in those last two games. I still wake up with nightmares of Crable flying headfirst into Troy Smith to gift them what would become the winning TD. After waking up, I vomit. My wife is getting tired of this, especially now that the kids are grown and don't throw up so much anymore.

The offense didn't look too great either. Tate F., who may become the goddamn clutchiest clutch QB we've ever had (he is that clutchy), didn't look super sharp. Lots of missed targets and lots of scrambling that wasn't super effective. By "wasn't super effective" I mean "sucked because he ran around instead of just throwing the damn ball." Is he hurt, you might ask? Probably. But get used to it. You think this kid is EVER going to get through a season of BIG TEN FOOTBALL without getting hurt, at least somewhat? I'm sorry, when you are 6'1" and weigh 170 lbs, you get hurt when you go to the bathroom, much less on the field of play.

Speaking of which, are those classic urinal troughs all gone now? Who doesn't enjoy taking a leak next to a bunch of old MICHIGAN MEN whose aim has deteriorated to the point where basically they are peeing on your feet? Admit it, you miss it. It was a piece of the charm that is now gone, forever lost to the annals of the time. I am keeping all the old shoes I have worn to games over the years, just so I can remember.

I didn't understand much of the player substitution pattern over this game either. Carlos Brown's hair was on fire and basically scored every time he touched the ball early in the game. The response: put other guys in. It was confusing. Here was CARLOS, ready to have the monster 400-yard GAME OF HIS LIFE and we kept going with other guys. I don't know about you guys, but I think: you go with what works. For me, what was working was that Hungry Howie's pizza they have at the game. So I kept going with it (4 or 5 pieces). For Michigan, it was CARLOS F'IN BROWN. But they didn't go with him, much. After-game stomach cramps tell me there may be another story here: don't go with Hungry Howie's, even if it is "working".

So where are we now, four games into this miracle of a rebirth? Hard to say after that one. Let's recap:
  • Western: Clearly kind of sucks more than people thought. However, they did beat Hofstra.
  • Notre Dame: Squeaks by both Purdue and MSU. Problem is: Purdue and MSU stink. Thus, ND, much like their coach, is not looking too pretty right now.
  • Eastern: Clearly sucks.
  • Indiana: Probably will not win a lot of games in the Big Ten.
So we are 4-0. And I know I shouldn't complain. Maybe we just had an off-game and a hard time getting up for a team that has one something like one time in the BIG HOUSE (which, btw, is MUCH BIGGER now that the skyboxes are being put in. Time for a name change? BIGGER HOUSE sounds better in my humble opinion. But that leaves open the possibility that some other team will quick-and-sneaky build a BIGGEST HOUSE and then what do you do?) Maybe the youth of the team means that we'll have games like this once in a while, and the fact that we got a win is pretty impressive. The kids are still probably getting laid because of that ND game, after all.

But the overall feeling I got at the game yesterday is that we still have a long ways to go. Until some defensive talent finds its way onto this team, winning the BIG TEN and hopes of relevance on the national stage are pretty far away.

Comments

Eyebrowse

September 27th, 2009 at 9:03 AM ^

It really was that ugly...on TV too. Most of the time the defense looked lost. I swear IU ran the same damn play down the sideline over and over again for TDs or, at least, a ridiculous gain.

Halftime adjustments seemed non-existant yesterday. Recievers missed some easy passes that cannot be dropped in the future (that is, if we plan on beating any other B10 teams). Tate seemed lost at times with that magical pocket presence we've come to expect from him (though he did have that electrifying series that culminated in the Jump TD and subsequent 2-point conversion in which I swear Schilling tossed him into the endzone).

Hopefully this becomes the catalyst to really dig in and work their asses off this week. Sparty seems to be in traditional melt-down mode, so there's that. But it will be the first road game for a team that looked none to stuning yesterday.

Here's hoping, Go Blue!

Mulletman Dave

September 27th, 2009 at 7:04 PM ^

I'd like to expand upon a point that was made by the first poster on this article.

IU threw everything at us, from their pistol formation (How many times did Ray Bentley say "pistol"?), to the Wildcat, to the swinging gate.

All they needed to run was "The Annexation of Puerto Rico" (Little Giants) and they would have covered every play under the sun.

Granted MSU is gonna pull out all the stops, but I don't think that Michigan necessarily shows all their cards in games against inferior teams like Indiana. There are still offensive and defensive packages that we haven't seen yet that we WILL see against State.

In addition to expanding the playbook on offense, it should still be a relief that our basic stretch-read play is so effective this year with Brown or Minor.

I just worry that MSU will come out and throw 40+ times to try and pick on Cissoko/Floyd and Kovacs like J Claw tried to do.

EGD

September 27th, 2009 at 9:08 AM ^

With the loss of Tiger Stadium, the Michigan urinal troughs were really the only ones left in action. That is unless you count the single porcelain trough in the men's room at 8-Ball Lounge. I haven't been there in a few years but I can't imagine that place has changed much, so I'm sure their trough is still going strong.

I agree Michigan is not yet to a point where they can seriously contend for the Big Ten title. However, an 8 or 9 win regular season and a decent bowl game are realistic objectives for this team. I suppose if a a team that wins 8 or 9 games and goes to a good bowl still "sucks," as you appear to define it, then you probably won't enjoy this season (or games like yesterday's) very much. Personally, I think the team is doing pretty good.

OSUMC Wolverine

September 27th, 2009 at 9:09 AM ^

We looked terrible at times. Looked like a bunch of high school kids at an all star game. Oh wait, we are young. Still feeling out a new system on both sides of the ball. 4-0 in spite of all of that. The crazy thing is this defense at some point may start to click (Except for Ezeh because, well just wow. I'm alive and well, where am I?). In four games does not a system make, give it time and it will come.

BlueinVA

September 27th, 2009 at 9:33 AM ^

I agree that yesterday was painful to watch, and that there were times when I started to wonder if this was heralding the repeat of last season. I think the ND game, coupled with explosive offense in our other openers, led to some unrealistic expectations for a squad that's still young and learning. We're going to stumble at times, but we need to be patient about it. I think the toughest part here is that no one expected IU to win, and they played a good game that kept our backs to the wall until the end. That we were still able to win speaks volumes about the upside potential here.

I hope we topple Sparty next week, but the doubts that surfaced yesterday will keep me on the edge of my seat.

jblaze

September 27th, 2009 at 9:36 AM ^

4-0 baby! Yeah!

At the beginning of the season, I thought it was possible, but more likely 3-1. However, our team has achieved a 4-0 start, so enjoy it.

Who knows, maybe this bad D will lead to recruits wanting to come to Michigan.

By the way, Tate is 190, not 170. Size also doesn't correlate to injuries. Just look at Teabow or Henne when he was at Michigan.

Ziff72

September 27th, 2009 at 9:45 AM ^

You guys are pretty miserable. We won. Look around the nation 1 game means nothing for the next. Would you rather be Cal or Penn St or Florida St.?? Enjoy the ride.

oakapple

September 27th, 2009 at 9:46 AM ^

You are entirely correct, but the good news is that many of the bad things on offense, appear to be correctable. They have played better than this, and will again.

Michigan is not going to have a great defense this year. Get over it. GERG appears to be doing the best he can with a nearly-empty cupboard. Aside from Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren, what did he have? The defense has stiffened when it needed to, and some of GERG's moves have been inspired: switching Stevie Brown to linebacker, for instance. Just accept that this is a multi-year project, and until then Michigan will need to win by outscoring its opponents. Luckily that has worked so far.

Coming out of this game, the biggest worry is Forcier's durability. Can his body take 8 more weeks of this?

ScottGoBlue

September 27th, 2009 at 10:28 AM ^

I was gonna agree and add something about Stevie Brown. But the I realized that I glossed over the fact that you mentioned him already. I'd really like to delete this post, but that's not an option. So just don't neg me, folks. We're all on the same team.

bad robbie

September 27th, 2009 at 10:41 AM ^

I was about to write off this D and much of my high hopes for the season after sitting through yesterday's game.

Until I came back last night and watched the game off DVR ... there were some bad breakdowns, but much of it looks correctable. There were also some good plays and good signs ... (let's see who comes out on the corner opposite DW next week ...).

They also made 5 red zone stops -- resulting in 4 field goals and one muffed. I give the IU coach a lot of credit for pointing out UM's D in the red zone as their downfall rather than a interception call that didn't go his way.

They're not going to be a great D by any stretch, but I think they can get to "OK".

And if the O is averaging 35 and the punting's good ... we'll be an awful hard team to beat.

WolverBean

September 27th, 2009 at 3:30 PM ^

Holding IU to five field goal attempts and getting another five 3-and-outs when they faced 15 drives is pretty admirable for a defense that's STARTING A WALK-ON at safety. Particularly because, as the announcers mentioned, IU came out with a bunch of formations that they hadn't run yet this year. Indeed, the fact that IU was successful on offense earlier in the game and less successful later indicates that our defense was able to adjust to these new wrinkles. Exception: the triple option play, which we did not defend well at all, and which they scored their last TD on: this appears to be on GERG, as the defensive alignment didn't put a man in a position to take the sweeper. And sure, you can argue that "it's only Indiana." But I think it looks worse than it is because of the bend-but-don't-break approach we're using to help compensate for our lack of depth/talent.

jrt336

September 27th, 2009 at 9:50 AM ^

Let's not forget that ND beat Purdue without Allen and Floyd. Clausen was out most of the game as well. We would've won by 21 if those 3 had been out.

Lordfoul

September 27th, 2009 at 9:56 AM ^

Nice venting post but I think you are taking too much negative from this win. The offense put up 36 points despite not being completely on yesterday, not too shabby. The defense held in the redzone several times and kept the game in reach. All things considered we should be happy after last year to just be at 4-0 and to have an offense that can win shootouts. Lighten up already and enjoy the ride. Rome wasn't built in a day.

DoubleMs

September 27th, 2009 at 10:15 AM ^

This game made me worry more than ever about depth. Moosman, while he is a good guard, is not so good when you put him over the ball... he was sneaky and pulled an offsides call once, but he cost us a big chunk of yardage a few other times due to lack of attentiveness. I'm surprised we didn't put Rocko in and let him make snaps. Where was Cissoko? I didn't see him get injured, but we had JT Floyd in for most of the game... Floyd actually did a respectable job this time, but still... I would have liked to see Rich Rod give some snaps to younger corners. The D line did decently, but there was a noticeable drop-off when Graham, Martin, and Roh weren't on the field. Again, why did Campbell not see snaps, he likes to blow up the one or two plays he is in for for losses.

One of the things that I was most happy about is that Denard looked much more polished today. He made some clutch throws. Tate's bruise is likely a bone bruise, which means he won't be 100% for the rest of the season if he keeps tapping it... just any old bruise wouldn't cause that much pain unless he pinched a nerve as well.

On the other hand, I think Rich Rod was playing this game smartly from a season-long perspective. If someone important got injured, he sat out almost the entire rest of the game, even if it was very minor (except Tate because duh). From a season viewpoint, while this game was important in stating that 'we are Michigan and we are back', it really isn't that important. Indiana shouldn't be a team we bring the big guns out against. I think the playing time that the backups got on defense will be valuable down the road in making the two-deep more robust.

The team did what it had to do to win, and yes it was ugly, and yes I wish it had been a 20 point spread, but I think that, when Floyd looks like a respectable corner a couple of games down the road, we'll look back at Indiana and be like 'wow, maybe that game was more important than we thought'.

Either way, I want Molk to magically have a complete foot again for next weekend. Moosman screwed up at center a few too many times... If we are going to give a backup center snaps, we should be giving a guy snaps that will be here when Molk graduates.

ScottGoBlue

September 27th, 2009 at 10:31 AM ^

Looked like Floyd went in because Cissoko literally can't cover anyone. As we know, he's been getting burned all year. He's fast enough to run with anybody, but too short to do anything about balls thrown his way. I think RR/GERG yanked him to give Floyd a shot. They've got nothing to lose; Floyd literally can't do any worse than Cissoko. I don't have anything against Cissoko. It's just that his height makes him totally ineffective as a CB at this level.

funkywolve

September 27th, 2009 at 11:28 AM ^

While he didn't have the greatest game, making the switch to center isn't the easiest thing. The center is responsible for the line calls. Also, with this offense the QB isn't under center. I'm guessing it's a bit easier for a guy to move to center when he doesn't have to do shotgun snaps every time.

Elno Lewis

September 27th, 2009 at 10:29 AM ^

I don't care how they got it, it is a W. They continue to play good enough to win. That is NOT a bad thing. In every game, our defense has held the opposing team's offense to fewer points. If they didn't do this, we might lose. OK?

I mean, I am not popping my shirt and screaming We're Number 1! But dang, I am not insulting players and whining because every little thing they do is not perfect or even up to my own personal set of standards. The guy in the Miller truck is coming after your brew, btw.

Ipso Facto, we are prima facia 4 and OH with several habeus corpsuses. So, yes, it is great to be a michigan wolverine.

Go Blue!

bronxblue

September 27th, 2009 at 11:08 AM ^

I understand your frustration, but can we all remember that this team has already eclipsed its win total from last year? Sure, the defense has given up chunks of yardage, but considering they played virtually the entire first quarter (take THAT TOP!), and were put in poor field position quite a bit, they still played well. Indiana has a good offense, and it is dynamic enough that it will give all but the best defenses some trouble. This defense still has quite a way to go before it would be considered average, but it played better than the numbers.

As for the competition UM played, who cares. UM beat a ND team when it was healthy, something it hasn't been the last two weeks. WMU is 2-2, and nearly beat Indiana on the road. They are still likely to compete for the MAC crown, and I think EMU will surprise some people this year (nearly beating NW on the road, playing even with UM for a half). Yes, these are not marquee wins against elite competition, but I can only think of 2-3 teams with big-time wins over elite competition this early in the season (USC, BYU, and FSU).

The team is still 4-0, leading the Big 10 in scoring, and on its way to a bowl game. I'll take that any day.

MileHighWolverine

September 27th, 2009 at 2:00 PM ^

for the comment about ND being very different today than when we played them. They showed a graphic during last nights game highlighting the fact that Golden Tate was the only of their four playmakers on the field.....and he did everything last night. Armando Allen (RB), Floyd (Ridiculous WR) and JIMMAH were all out last night - although JIMMAH came in periodically.

ND backups scored 17 unanswered against Purdue. So yeah, our defense isn't dominating, but it is getting the job done when it counts.

Blue Durham

September 27th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

last year.

The transformation from last year's team to a good team will not happen in 1 off season. Barwis and coaching can only do so much.

Based on total points (and points per game), last year was the worst in Michigan history. But this was trending in this direction for 10 years prior.

Prior to Gary Moeller's last year (1994), 214 points (1962, in 9 games, for a 23.8 ppg average) was the most Michigan has ever surrendered. In the last 15 years, Michigan's has given up more than that previous record total 12 times.

Again, last year Michigan gave up the most points in history, but 2nd (279 in 2004, 23.3 ppg) and 3rd (278 in 2007, 21.4 ppg) have also occurred in the last few years. Granted, offensives have been better recently, but not by a factor of 2 from the Bo years.

I think we have had a real glimpse of what the offense can do under Rodriguez, and I am very encouraged, particularly after last year. I am now hoping that we get a couple of good recruiting classes that are a little heavier on the defensive personnel.

funkywolve

September 27th, 2009 at 11:31 AM ^

I think we still need to remember he's a true freshmen. His game against ND was so good I think most of us felt that was the Forcier we were going to see all year. However, as mentioned, he's a true freshmen and is probably going to make plays that leave us scratching our heads sometimes either in amazement of a good play or bewilderment of a bad play.

He's still way better then what we were putting on the field at QB last year.

darkstrk

September 27th, 2009 at 11:46 AM ^

Now, get off my lawn! (Seriously.)

The defense is not playing well. But we know that the talent level is low even before the season started. We have two legitimate players on the DL (Graham and Martin), none at LB, and potentially one at the secondary (Warren). What exactly do you want the coaches to do? They have been trying to hide the weaknesses by dropping back the LB's to help with coverage and prevent big runs, but these LB's are not very good with reading plays and tackling.

The question is: how can we improve the defense? I think we will look a lot better next year as some of these young CB's get better (JT Floyd, Vlad, and Turner). However, I'm not sure we will ever get consistent performance from the LB's in the roster. If I can fault any area of RR's recruiting so far, this is it. But then again, it's been a while since we had a capable LB (David Harris is the last one I can think of).

Braylon 5 Hour…

September 27th, 2009 at 12:08 PM ^

To the comment talking about Cissoko's height...don't we all remember a guy named Leon Hall? You can be Cissoko's height and be a lock down corner...Cissoko is just plain terrible this year. Maybe it's nagging injuries (they certainly can't help his cause), maybe it's just inability to play against big time competition. If Floyd can be OK, throw Cissoko at nickelback and just pray we don't get torched.

My big problem now is that Minor + Brown got 23 carries, while Robinson + Forcier got 21 carries. I know our QBs are weapons running the ball, but we need to have a carry ratio more disproportionate towards our backs, I think. Although, if Robinson continues to show a little passing ability, it may open up some lanes for him to run, even against good teams.

oakapple

September 27th, 2009 at 12:31 PM ^

The running stats for Forcier and Robinson are skewed, because there were several broken plays and sacks that counted as "carries."

Robinson, of course, is always going to have a lot of carries, and that is by design. I entirely agree that once he proves that he can pass, it will open up running lanes for him. That is the whole idea.

nmwolverine

September 27th, 2009 at 12:52 PM ^

When I say we are a team that will win games we shouldn't win, I mean that we are not a good team this year. But we will win a lot anyway. Credit determination, coaching and character, and ingenuity. We are not good. Face it. But there is a reason I predicted 10 wins. See above.

Sextus Empiricus

September 27th, 2009 at 3:48 PM ^

Cissoko makes that tackle.

Didn't RVB shake a block and get a pressure (make that a sack). Way to go RVB.

I truly think the best are playing. Having seen some of the recruits come on behind the walk ons, they are not ready. Rocko may play center, but the truth is Molk is a Rimington quality talent who can't be replaced. Moosman showed some moxie.

I like this season (so much more than last) but I'm praying we can keep the Quinton and Taylor redshirts. They are golden.

It's hard to sell a recruit the defensive opportunity when a 5 star Campbell is being held back (BG needs some balance to shed the double teams)(hat low or hat high still very impressive when he has seen time). Did any of you see Hawkeye Adrian Clayborn block that PSU punt and run it in? Size matters. (Though 283 lbs is not enough to run over Minor). I'm not saying big Will should start, but no playing time??? Shariff is watching.

While I'm at it...PSU linebacker play is awesome.

Really interested in the defensive UFR this week. How did Roh and RVB do?

I appreciate the coaching perspective, and need for improvement but I'm having fun.

Go Blue!

bklein09

September 27th, 2009 at 4:47 PM ^

I think this game might turn out to be a positive in the long run because it served to bring all of us back to earth a little bit. At the beginning of this season, all I was hoping for was a bowl game...7 regular season wins. In order to do that IMO we needed to win our five probable games (wmu, emu, indy, del st, and purdue) and at least 2 of our toss up games (nd, msu, Iowa, illinois, wisky).

Now I know that for a lot of us those expectations skyrocketed after the nd game. I also know that teams like purdue, Iowa, wisky have looked better than expected while teams like osu, psu, and msu have looked a little worse. Regardless of everything that has changed since the first game of the season, however, my original expectations have not changed.

All we have really done is beaten our first three probable win games, and won our first toss up game. (When I say "all we have done" don't take that to mean I am not thrilled with what's happened so far because I am. I just think that all the negativity stemming from yesterdays game is due to raised expectations.) With the schedule we have left, we still need to beat Delaware state and purdue along with one more toss up game just to get the 7 wins I was hoping for at the beginnging of the season.

7 wins would still make me happy, and I think we can get there based on what I have seen from this team. Is there any team on the schedule that Michigan absolutely cannot beat if we play well? Is there any team on the schedule besides maybe Delaware state that we can't lose to if we play like we did yesterday?

The last thing I want to say is that there is the possibility that yesterday was nothing more than a let down game where we were caught looking ahead to msu. It could serve as a wake up call to team because you know that if they had stomped indiana they would have rolled into the 1-3 sparty game with their heads in the clouds.

We all need to just remember how we felt about this team before the season started and take some time to let 4-0 soak in and feel good. Hey it's about to turn to October and we haven't lost yet! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooohhhhh!!!!

jmblue

September 27th, 2009 at 5:05 PM ^

So I was at the game and watched the whole miserable thing from the endzone.

We won a wild game, 36-33, that featured many lead changes and some clutch drives/plays, and you refer to it as a "miserable thing"?

Some of you have to lower your expectations a bit. This is college football. Teams go through crazy swings from week to week. Just try to enjoy the ride.

umchicago

September 27th, 2009 at 6:06 PM ^

hell, if this is a bad game by forcier, i'll take it. to complain about him scrambing around is pure lunacy. the OL isn't very good yet. he's under constant pressure. i can think of at least 3 times he scrambled to avoid sacks then made a first down play. the alternative is to throw the ball away and probably punt. i think he really made only two bad passes all day; a 3rd was intercepted as he was hit while trying to throw it away. he threw a few others away too. i think he's still learning to "pick his spots" to make a play or throw it away. HE'S A FRESHMAN. remember, there were a few more drops today as well which halted drives.

BlueJellow

September 27th, 2009 at 6:31 PM ^

few points that I think should be said after reading the post and replies.
-Cissoko was taken out for an injury.
-Mike Martin wasnt at full strength.
-Minor wasnt at full strength.
-New center AND new tackle.
-Brown ran two 40+ yard sprints in about 5 minutes.
-Not sure if I remember correctly but didnt IU start two drives in the game just outside the redzone?
-Pretty sure we had 4 drives end early in the game due to bad snaps?
-No big deal but IU had 5 scoring drives from the 2nd quarter on and only managed 16 points the touchdown coming from a fluke long gainer.
-This was all with IU pulling out every stop trying to pull the upset. Well executed by them.
-IU actually has more yardage than we do on the year. So they cant be that bad.

Im proud of our defensive play. We managed to put the brakes on those IU dirtbags when they got cocky. Warren used the power of the Forcier to jedi mindtrick the replay official with "This is not the evidence youre looking for". Tate pulled threw a perfect pass to odoms with a broken arm and did a ninja back flip into the endzone. If IU cant beat us on a bad bad day, god help whoever has to play us on a good day.

allHAILthedeat…

September 28th, 2009 at 12:17 PM ^

we currently have with GERG's defense (3-4/4-3 under) is that it relies heavily - wait, let me try that again - HEAVILY on above-average to great Linebacker play to stop the run. Given our current depth/lack thereof at LB and the seeming inability of Ezeh and Mouton to consistently read a run play correctly, I'm not terribly surprised we get gashed on the ground.

The resulting strategy is to drop a safety into the box...which leaves little man Cissoko alone, which means he can get picked on all day (assuming their WR is taller than he is, which is pretty much a given).

Thus, until we either see a) the veteran LB's step it up or b) get some good LB recruits (which obviously won't help us this year) we seem to be between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The upside is we seem to have a beast in Craig Roh and one fairly good LB, Stevie Brown (did I just say that?!?!).