Inside the Box Score - Game 7

Submitted by ST3 on October 16th, 2011 at 2:35 AM

I go inside the boxscore so you don’t have to. It was all dark and scary in there this week. I should probably sleep on this and delete half of these bullets*, but the sooner we put this behind us, the better.


Big John R. Studd Referee Section

I’m moving this section to the beginning this week because I can. It’s also so I can subtly point out a few things that bothered me about this game. (Skip this section if you already got your fill of the Gholston issue.)

  • MSU penalties: 13 for 124 yards.
  • UofM penalties: 5 for 40 yards.
  • 1stdowns from penalties: UofM 6, MSU 0.
  • Gholston picked up two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for a late hit on Denard and for punching Taylor Lewan. The late hit on Denard preceded Gholston grabbing Denard’s helmet and twisting it, in an obvious attempt to injure another player. The sucker punch to Lewan came after Lewan helped Gholston get back up.
  • Either penalty should have been enough to draw a red card (for those unfamiliar with soccer terms, that’s a permanent ticket to the sidelines.) Instead, after the second penalty, Dantonio took him out of the game for all of 1 minute and 1 second of game time. On Gholston’s first play back in the game, he made the tackle. That’s symbolic of the win-at-all-costs attitude of Mark Dantonio.
  • Reading through the post-game press conference comments of our players, I must say that I am impressed with the dignity and class that they demonstrated by taking the high road. I am not that mature. F Dantonio and his win-at-all-costs attitude. His program is degenerating into a minor-league affiliate of the Oakland Raiders. There are no lessons of sportsmanship, integrity, accountability, or respect being learned on the Spartan sideline.
  • After the 2ndGholston penalty, Chris Spielman (more on him later) said, Dantonio represents, “Clean, hard, hitting football.” I nearly threw up in my mouth. I suppose that’s in the same manner that Jim Tressel wins with honesty. Spielman’s problem with the Gholston penalties was that it is “costing your team.” I think it goes way deeper than that, Chris. Gholston was trying to injure another person playing a game. Gholston has behavioral issues that are reminiscent of Roger Clemens at his worst. If you think that I am implying he suffers from ‘roid rage, don’t forget that Tony Mandarich was the original face of steroids in college football. So yeah, I went there.
  • I’m sure Dantonio will respond to this outrageous behavior by suspending Gholston… for the Indiana or Minnesota games.
  • The refs did miss one backwards pass from Cousins, who clearly let go of the ball on state’s 37 and hit his receiver’s hands on the 36. The explanation was really lame, something along the lines of Michigan didn’t recover the football right away. The way I saw it, the ball hit the ground and the Michigan defender bent down and picked it up. What am I missing?
  • Dave Pasch from ESPN pointed out that state should have been called for taunting on their last TD, but I think the refs just got tired of throwing flags against state.

I can honestly say that I am proud of the way my team played. Any sparty fan who tells you the same about their team is either lying or is a Neanderthal juggalo. Was that subtle enough for you?

Burst of Impetus

  • We won the turnover battle, 2-1, but lost the 4thdown conversion battle. We were 2 of 4 on 4thdown, state didn’t go for it on 4thdown.
  • The fourth down stop in the 4thquarter was the burst of impetus play of the game. If Denard sneaks over the left guard (Spielman incorrectly identified the gap over the right guard as being open), we continue the drive and have a chance to tie the game. Instead, we got too cute and State stopped us. This game came down to 3 plays, and yet we lost by 14. It was a lot closer than that. Frustrating.

Trash Cans Full of Dirt

  • Mark Messner is our career leader in TFLs with 64. That’s an average of 16 per season. In his best season he had 24 TFLs. I bring this up because some of our D-linemen are highly thought of on this blog. I generally agree, and I like this current group of players, but the production just has not been Messnerian this year. That is the standard that we must strive for.
  • State had 10 TFLs. We had 5.5. Whoever is doing our defensive stats, how do you not end up with an integer here?
  • Desmond Morgan and Thomas Gordon were each credited with half a TFL for 0 yards. I was just joking about TFNG in a previous ItBS diary. I didn’t expect you guys to actually start crediting them.
  • We list QH’s in the boxscore. I’m guessing that’s for quarterback hurries. Kovacs got one and Van Bergen got two.
  • Our leading tacklers were Gordon, Kovacs, Roh, and Countess, with 8, 6, 6, and 6, respectively. Do you notice what’s missing? Linebackers. Demens was the leading tackler among the linebackers with 5. I noticed this week that Touch the Banner was high on Demens for last week’s performance against NU, but Brian was critical of him in the UFRs. I think this game was the tie-breaker. I don’t think our LBs were productive enough. Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries. State was consistently able to pound the football against us.
  • We got McGloined. I was expecting us to be able to shut down the state running game due to the inexperience along state’s O-line. I was expecting us to shut down PSU last year when they had to start McGloin. Well, we know how that went. I was just amazed at the inability of our front four to get any penetration or push.


  • When Denard was lined up as a split end, he was a step or two behind the other WR. The image of a bubble screen to Denard flashed in my mind. Maybe we’re saving that for the osu game.
  • The best stat we had was that Will Hagerup put four punts inside the 20. Like I said, it’s dark and scary in here.
  • Denard ran the ball 18 times. Very few were of the designed variety. I think he was playing hurt, but he's too classy to use that as an excuse.

San Diego49ers

  • Roundtree had an amazing catch, and a TD. Otherwise, the WRs didn't do too much.

Hexadecimal Points

  • I liked the jerseys. ESPN’s guys pointed out that the uniforms are a part of recruiting 17 year old players. I’m 41 years old, but I often think like a 17 year old. If I was picking a school just on the basis of their uniforms, I’d pick Michigan. State’s “throwbacks” (throw-ups?) reminded me of a snot-rag. Black, green, and bronze? No thanks. I felt bad for state’s fans because they couldn’t do the “go green, go white” cheer because they didn’t want to cheer for us, since we were the only team wearing white.
  • The yellow undershirts said “Victors” on one sleeve and “Valiant” on the other.

Chris Spielman Hates Us

  • Phew, I finally have a subtitle for the announcers section. I know announcers aren’t listed in the boxscore, but since moving to SoCal, I watch the games on TV so they are a part of my experience.
  • Spielman had a premeditated critique of our QB Oh Noes, play. He said numerous times that our O-linemen were 5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Urban corrected him once, saying they were allowed to be 3 yards beyond the line. I don’t know what the rule is exactly, but it was clear to me that the pass was thrown, the ball hit the ground and rolled around a little, Spielman looked up and saw our guys 3-5 yards beyond the line. However, when the ball was thrown, they were still within the three yards, at least according to me and Urban Meyer. Maybe Spielman feels a kinship with Dantonio, or is hurting from the troubles in Columbus, but he just seemed really petty and one-sided during the game. I normally find him to be fair, but not during this game.
  • Urban said he would run Denard on 1st, 2nd, and 3rddowns. I may be wrong, but didn’t he recruit Denard to play WR or DB?
  • With about 6 minutes left in the 2ndquarter, Urban said that Michigan was dominating time of possession with 14 minutes to state’s 6. I was left to wonder what third team was playing and what did they do with their 4 minutes of TOP.

Random, as Yet Unnamed, Bullets

  • We had more first downs that state, 20-16. I was surprised to see that.
  • We were 3 for 15 on third down, which sort of negates that previous bullet. Oh what a difference a week makes.
  • I went through the play-by-play link from the boxscore and counted how many times we had 2ndand 10 or longer. There were 9 times we were 2ndand 10, and 5 more times where we had 2ndand longer than 10. To me, that was the story of the game. We couldn’t get in 2nd or 3rd and short, forcing us to pass and the wind got in our heads. And with all that trash flying around, it was hard to ignore the wind. Really state, I get that you are an agricultural school, but do you have to behave like animals?
  • If you subtract the sacks, we did gain 151 yards to State’s 224. So we weren’t as dominated on the ground as the rushing yard stats make it seem. We just lost a ton of yards on sacks, 69.
  • I think Denard’s 3 INTs last week hurt more this week than they did last week. I know this sounds odd, but we won the game last week. This week, Denard seemed to be missing badly, away from traffic, as if he was overcompensating for last week. He ended up 9-24 passing. All those incompletions prevented us from sustaining drives.

*In diaries, "smack talk is strongly discouraged." Does comparing Gholston to Roger Clemens constitute "smack talk?" 



October 16th, 2011 at 3:23 AM ^

I just wonder if Denard got mad when his head got twisted. I bet when that kid gets mad his dreads light on fire, and they always say he is ELECTRIC, I bet he's real electric when he is furious.



October 16th, 2011 at 3:45 AM ^

I'm willing to go there. We punted far too many times inside the MSU 40 yard line. Even with all of the execution errors, MSU made enough mistakes for this to be a close game until that 4th and 1 that resulted in a huge sack. Bubble screens were missing. Devin was not a good change of pace decision. Other than a few diamonds, the play calling seemed pretty mundane. 


October 16th, 2011 at 9:20 AM ^

Yeah, I think Hoke left his balls back in Ann Arbor because UM punted numerous times when I thought they were going to go for it. Brian has been very complimentary of Hoke's aggressiveness on 4th down so far this year but I suspect he will ream Hoke a new one for his Carr/Ferentz/JoePa-like decisions on 4th down in this game.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:56 AM ^

The PA pass on 4th and inches was not exactly a Carr/Joe Pa/Ferentz decision.  There, a little old-school Lloydball might have done the job.

As for some of the other plays, I don't know.  The windy weather clearly affected both coaches' decision-making.  Both teams regarded the direction going into the wind as practically a lost cause and tried to pin the opponent as deep back there as possible. 


October 16th, 2011 at 9:49 AM ^

I agree about the punting.  I read that Michigan punted 6 times inside the MSU 46.  Hagerup had four punts inside the 20 (great day) but that doesn't address the big picture.

In my mind, Michigan was not using 3rd down to set up a potential 4th down.  I don't have an exact situation in mind but it seems to me that when it's 3rd and 8 across midfield, you need to be looking at 4th down options.  Denard would throw (yet another) incomplete pass 15-20 yards downfield and then they'd punt.  Why not go for a more controlled 6-7 yard pass and set up a potential 4th down opportunity?  Michigan should be (with one notable exception) very dangerous on 4th and short.  Forcing the ball downfield with Denard's passing is basically conceding the series.

Indiana Blue

October 16th, 2011 at 10:07 AM ^

I don't think you can just say it's poor coaching unless it led to a poor result.  I haven't looked it up but I know one of those pooch punts led to Michigan getting the ball back and a Roundtree TD.  I thought another also led to the Michigan drive that ended with the infamous 4th and 6 inches play.  That drive would have tied the game at 21.

Yeah those pooch punts came from the msu side of the field, but the shortest down and distance was a 4th and 4 (some were nearly 4th and 10).  

Go Blue! 


October 16th, 2011 at 11:22 AM ^

4th and 10 is sort of my point.  The reason that they were 4th and 10 is because they were throwing the ball downfield on 3rd down.  It's pretty evident by now (or at least it should be) that it's not a high percentage play if Denard throws the ball more than 10-12 yards downfield.  Why not throw a more controlled 6-7 yard pass and set up 4th and short instead of 4th and long and being forced to punt?

The lack of a downfield threat is what killed Michigan yesterday.  It will continue to haunt them against any team with above average push from the D-Line or coverage in the secondary.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:52 PM ^

Regarding the play calling. The winds were swirling like crazy and all of our pass patterns were 19 yeards down field. There should have been way more double screens, and quick slants ... mixed in with a lot of runs.

I remember the delay of game call in the 1st quarter where we were in the power I -- that play was going to work .... our rb was out there with only 1 guy between him and the end zone before the whistle was blown. Then ... we never used that play again


October 16th, 2011 at 3:53 AM ^

+1 for Messnerian. Messner, Hammerstein and the '85 defense are the stardard. In my mind, that team would blow out the '97 team, beat da '85 Bears and hold their own against 11 giant Ditkas.


October 16th, 2011 at 6:35 AM ^

is a fantastic football player.  I love to watch him.  He will probably be the most exciting player we will ever watch.  But he is too inconsistent with his passing.  That is why Dantonio can just play him for the run, and blitz him all day long. 


October 16th, 2011 at 9:55 PM ^

Denard is not going to be a qb in the NFL .. no way no how ... but, he will be playing on Sunday's. We should start using him in the role he will be playing in at the next level. He needs to be lined up all over the field on offense ... he will be much more dangerous.


October 16th, 2011 at 7:28 AM ^

I’m not sure how anyone can be proud of how we played.  We can be proud of how we conducted ourselves, but our play was less than stellar in almost every facet of the game.

In regards to MSU’s conduct, what do you expect from a team that goes into a dorm and attacks a bunch of students.  MSU recruits and plays a bunch of undisciplined thugs.  They always have and they likely always will…



October 16th, 2011 at 8:15 AM ^

Are those penalties a sign of the importance of this game to MSU players and their hatered for UM? I am not trying to condon Golston's behavior, but is such an aggressive approach a sign that MSU players wanted this win more than UM players? 


October 16th, 2011 at 8:39 AM ^

"I bring this up because some of our D-linemen are highly thought of on this blog. I generally agree, and I like this current group of players..."


"I was just amazed at the inability of our front four to get any penetration or push."

I've said it before: our DL is mediocre or average, because our DLs are mediocre or average. When we play bad teams, they do well, but when we play good or better teams, they are a non-factor. For the life of me I can't understand why Ryan Van Bergen is thought so highly of as a defensive lineman. His career stats are very similar to Grant Bowman's, and Bowman was just a workmanlike DL. Heininger and Brink don't bring anything notable beyond work ethic, Roh has been a disappointment, and WC is an enigma. In short, we have no difference-makers, who force the opposing offense to alter their game plans.

All I heard and read this past week was how our DL was going to dominate and bitch-slap the motley crew of replacements that MSU had on the OL. The reality was basically the opposite; MSU's inexperienced stumblebums on the OL basically rendered our DL impotent.

Your comparison to Messner is apt. He was a difference-maker during his entire career.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:23 AM ^

Van Bergen has put up better stats this season than Mike Martin, so why was Martin not included in your list of overrated players? Martin and Roh have been the two biggest disappointments for me thus far this season on the defense when comparing what I was hoping/expecting from them versus their actual performance.


October 16th, 2011 at 1:00 PM ^

The position he plays is less conducive to accumulating stats than RVB's, but I agree with you that he has been far from the dominating force we were hoping he'd be. I'm not giving any of the DLs a pass. They're all true Michigan men who do things the right way, but none of them are difference-makers.


October 16th, 2011 at 1:54 PM ^

My comment about Messner was a result of ESPN showing that Mike Martin has 1.5 TFL this season. For cumulative stats, see:

There was a lot of talk in the preseason that Mike was going to be moved around on the line to make things difficult for opposing lines. I think he's our best lineman, but he's not getting the TFLs. He could be getting double-teamed, but I'm sure Messner and Brandon Graham got double-teamed too.  I don't like to be critical of players by name, since they are giving their all for the team, and I'm watching the game from my couch.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:01 AM ^

Lewan tried to scratch out Gholston's eyes prior to the punch, but obviously two wrongs don't make a right.  Gholston showed his true colors the rest of the game, he seems like a head case.  Better off without him, although at the time I was sad he chose sparty.

Regarding the game... we lost it in the trenches, and unlike ND where we were also beat in the trenches, we could not pull off a comeback.  I am disappointed that we have so many Sr's on each Line yet still can not hang with the lines of the better teams we play.  If this continues against Iowa, Cornhuskers and Ohio... could be trouble.  I still see improvement over last yr 's squad however.


October 16th, 2011 at 9:46 AM ^

MSU fans should be happy with the way the team played, maybe not the actions of certain individuals but as a team MSU played quite well.  

Yeah gholston should have absolutely been thrown out of the game for the punch, the bigten will suspend him just as they did with Mouton a few years ago.  If you can't control yourself there is no place for you on the field.  At the same time, anyone who thinks lewan is an angel is severly misguided

Nearly 1/3 of UM's 1st downs came on penalties, with a total of 124 total yards from them.  The defense can no longer tackle apparently, but when they did actually attempt to wrap up the ball carrier funbled the ball.  Maybe they should work on that this week.

MSU had 8 players earn some piece of a sack for 7 total, with 11 total TFLs.  UM lost this game before they got off the bus


October 16th, 2011 at 10:03 AM ^

Baker gashed us all day long. His longest run was only 25 yards, yet he gained 167 yards on 26 carries.

That's the stat of the day. Baker had a Mike Hart-like performance - no really long runs, but consistent good pickups. Even in obvious running situations, we struggled to stop them when we didn't have our Bear package out there (and against a patchwork OL, that really shouldn't have been necessary). At the end of the first half, everyone in the stadium knew Sparty would run the ball, going into the wind from its own 5-yard line. They picked up the first down on two plays.

Some are praising our defensive performance, but aside from not giving up huge plays, I can't say it had a great day.  Its job was pretty straightforward: get MSU into passing situations, where the wind was wreaking havoc.  I don't think MSU ever threw a pass on first down.  We knew what was coming and still were gashed.


October 16th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

we got dominated.  Their OLine and Dlines were both better than urs and we didn't tackle well.  Our play calling was suspect and as stupid as this sounds they wanted it more than we did.

Taking Denard out for Gardner when both are healthy is stupid against a good team.  As was said on the broadcast MSU knew it was a pass when Gardner came in.   You don't take your best weapon and fastest guy off the field as a 'change of pace'.  Borges called a bad game yesterday and MSU was ready for anything we threw at them.

I watched at least four games yesterday and hours of highlights of other games and what  I consistently see from other teams that I don't see from us is that long pass plays that are successful require fast receivers that can create a gap from the defender, ours don't or can't do that.  Despite RR's desire for speed, we don't have any burners at WR.  That means Denard has to be even more accurate than your average QB.  The only long pass plays we win are jump balls and that is a 50-50 proposition.  Not a good bet.

DR is not a good passer we all see this, but he is suffering at it more than he should because our recievers are not getting open.  Also, I think Denard is a little shell-shocked and doesn't want to get hit anymore, he is not running like he did last season.  He had many more big gainers last year.  I think he doesn't want to get hit anymore and I don't blame him.

Indiana Blue

October 16th, 2011 at 10:30 AM ^

and it does get lost in the result, but the msu drives in the 4th quarter amounted to:

3 plays - punt

1play - fumble

3 plays - punt

then came the INT ... and they ran out the clock with 6 plays.  A lot of posters said the defense was weak, but when crunch time came they played good enough for U of M to win.

Go Blue!


October 16th, 2011 at 11:05 AM ^

Well, the D had the big advantage there of the wind being in MSU's face, which mitigates things a bit.  In the third quarter they looked pretty bad.  Also, I can't quite give them a pass for allowing MSU to run out the clock when it was patently obvious that every play was going to be a run to Baker.


October 16th, 2011 at 10:30 AM ^

Spielman does seem to poke jabs at some of the Michigan plays but I truly think he is looking a playing the game perfect and if that includes a jab here and there he is happy.
<br>I wonder how many of the penalties here from the OL holding? Maybe that caused some of the lack luster DL play.
<br>Urban did recruit Denard as a QB but they already had Tebow and Newton so he may not have been QB at UF for a while if at all.


October 16th, 2011 at 12:23 PM ^

Otherwise known as MANBALL to some around here. I agree with you and others who've questioned the thinking behind this call. Maybe on third down you can take the chance; you've still got fourth down to sustain the drive. But on a day when the wind is playing havoc with a thrown ball, on top of your QB having difficulty completing any kind of pass, relying on him throwing the ball in perhaps the most critical, do-or-die moment in the game was beyond foolish. We didn't need a touchdown right then—we needed inches.


October 16th, 2011 at 1:53 PM ^

Their lines outplayed our lines.  Their O-line got the linebackers, too.  2nd/3rd and long is no place to be on a windy day.  Denard/Devin were pressured when they had to throw.  They both made bad decisions at times with the pressure.  We don't have a dominant D lineman, so our D line has to play well as a group.  Someone has to suceed to help the others.  Nobody really did.

What came out of this game is a lot of motivation for next year.  They punched us in the mouth and we didn't come back with an equal blow.  They took some cheap shots and we did the right thing by not retaliating in kind.  They were more physical.  Brady has preached the need to be physical to win in the Big Ten.  They don't need a countdown clock now.  They just need to remember what happened today and vow to respond next year.  MSU clearly does not respect us.  Respect has to be earned from the bully.  Match the blow and give them more of their own medicine without the dirty stuff.  Brady gets it and I think the players do too based on their postgame comments.


October 17th, 2011 at 10:52 AM ^

We did punt a lot on State's end of the field, but the problem was that it was always 4th and long. If it's 4th and less than 5 yards from inside the 40 I see Hoke going for most of those. But they were all 4th and long. And also, Hagerup was pinning them back quite well, so maybe that played into Hoke's thinking as well.


October 17th, 2011 at 12:48 PM ^

"The sucker punch to Lewan came after Lewan helped Gholston get back up."

Um... no. I'm a huge Michigan homer but you would seriously have to be delusional to believe that. Gholston is a dirty player, but the evidence for that is good enough without distorting the circumstances.