Inside the Boxscore - Team 133, Game 2

Submitted by ST3 on September 9th, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    I am subdued. I am lethargy, personified. I died the death of 1000 cuts in the form of 71 carries, all of which went for exactly 4.1 yards, except I survived. Arkansas didn’t. Wisconsin didn’t. That’s worth remembering. I’m not sure what more I can add to Ace’s game recap. This game was one giant serving of déjà vu. Replace Air Force with Indiana and a ball control running game with a ball control passing game and we’ve been here before.


Deja Link:

Burst of Impetus

  • Air Force didn’t turn the ball over, but they only went 2 for 5 on fourth down. They missed a field goal, and were stopped on a fake field goal. That’s six points. That’s the margin of victory. Ugh.
  • Denard threw an interception that once again deflected off a receiver’s hands. AF turned that into 7 points.
  • The key sequence of the game to me was the start of the third quarter. Denard ran for a TD to put us up 21-10. We followed that up with a nice kickoff and a derpity return from AF. They were starting at their own 11. If we hold them there, get the ball back and score, game almost over, right? Instead, they ran for 20 and picked up another 10 on a defensive holding call (discussed below). All of a sudden, they’re at midfield. They eventually punched it in after moving 88 yards in 14 plays and we’ve got a ballgame on our hands.


  • That’s not a misprint. That’s this blogger’s way of saying our defense does not have an identity. Last year’s unit was an aggressive, attacking, sometimes reckless, blitzing group, that was lead by trash cans full of dirt Martin, Van Bergen, and Heininger. Additionally, we had Kovacs eliminating the long gains from the Gerg years, and Thomas Gordon creating turnovers, again and again. Kovacs and Gordon are still around, but the turnovers have disappeared. Regression to the mean sucks.
  • What do we have this year? Some experienced, but limited seniors, and some talented, but inexperienced freshman. In addition to tackles, the defensive stats are: FF FR-Yd Intc BrUp Blkd Sack/Yds QH. Look down those columns. Go ahead, I’ll wait. This is what you see. “ . . . .“ Lots and lots of dots. There were two pass breakups by Jake Ryan in the last three defensive plays of the game, and one by Frank Clark. That’s it. That’s to be expected somewhat since Air Force mostly ran the ball, but even the TFLs were limited. We had 7 TFLs for a grand, stinking total of 9 yards. Where is the aggressive, attacking unit of 2011? Yeah, I know Martin and Van Bergen are no longer around, but where are the run blitzes from the safeties and corners? Why weren’t we attacking the edge instead of letting Air Force continually get to the boundary?
  • Seven of the 22 players in the defensive stats are freshmen or redshirt freshmen. I get the feeling Mattison is trying to develop some depth for the conference schedule. Compare this to Air Force, who only had 12 players register a defensive stat. Time of possession is meaningless, but total plays matter. It looks like Air Force was able to play their first string defense for the entire game.

Ermahgerd Dehrnerd

  • Wow, wasn’t Denard’s first TD run exciting (and reminiscent of the 2010 IU game?) Oh, who am I kidding, my power went out for the first quarter and I missed it. It reminded me of last year’s home opener where I missed the fourth quarter, because they didn’t play it. For next year’s home opener, I will be occupying a bunker in an undisclosed location.
  • Denard has 200/200 vision. 200+ yards running and passing. As someone commented after the game, he had 101% of our total offense, because the -11 yards he accrued for the end of game kneel downs go as “TEAM” yards.


  • The home plate umpire in the Tiger-Angel game took a foul ball off the face mask and had to leave the game. That’s a suitable reminder that the men who officiate our games have a difficult job, so I’ll make the annual disclaimer that I don’t really think the refs are zonkeys.
  • The thing that stood out to me was that Air Force got 4 first downs from penalties. We were having enough trouble stopping them, giving them four more first downs with penalties is inexcusable. Two of our defensive penalties were holding calls on Will Campbell. Since that is such a rarely called penalty, I watched those plays several times in slow-motion. On both, the center engages with Campbell, and the guard comes over to double team. This causes Campbell to get pancaked. As he’s falling, he grabs the center’s shoulder pad with one hand, to break his fall. On the first one, the guard hits him low and this should have been called an offensive penalty for a chop block. While both were technically holding, they were no different than almost any other play, and both Air Force runs went to the sideline. Campbell’s holds were half a field away from the action and had zero impact on the play.
  • On Air Force’s first TD, they broke out a play from the CFL playbook, as the flanker (A-back?) stepped back, turned around, and had a running start forward as the ball was snapped. The fact that it happened right in front of the line judge only further boggles my mind. How is that call missed?

Passing Game Stuff

  • Funchess gets my brother’s stamp of approval. Mine too, but I will not compare him to Antonio Gates to avoid getting negged by Magnus. (My first ever neg was from Magnus for comparing Cam Gordon to Ronnie Lott. You never forget your first time. When I screw up, I really screw up.) Funchess caught four balls for 106 yards and 1 TD. I’m sure you’ve seen the Jerame Tuman comparison by now.
  • Gardner looked more like a WR, probably because he wasn’t being defended by Milliner, but also because his routes were more precise and shorter. There was none of that looking over both shoulders stuff from a week ago. He caught 5 balls for 63 yards with a long of 20 and a TD.
  • Jeremy Jackson looked like a nice big target to me. Roundtree still doesn’t look 100%. When you can’t get separation from an Air Force DB, something’s wrong.

Hexadecimal Points

  • Michigan wore traditional jerseys with maize block Ms on their socks. I liked it.
  • Air Force apparently only recruits guys named “Freedom” and “Service.” I think all the odd numbered guys had “Service” and all the even numbered guys had “Freedom.” I hope that didn’t give Brandon any ideas. (Leaders/Legends? No, don’t go there, please, no.)
  • Royce Jenkins-Stone is our 2ndhexadecimalist of the year, showing up as 5B.
  • Jake Ryan wore the #47 Bennie Oosterbaan jersey. My brother requested that I research Oosterbaan and provide some interesting connection between Jake and Bennie. I reminded him I’m not getting paid for this. I do remember J.P. Oosterbaan, but I’m afraid Bennie was before my time.

Announcers’ Derpity Derp

  • The announcers were Bob Wischusen and Danny Kanell. Like I said, I missed the 1stquarter due to the power outage, and spent the 2ndquarter talking to my brother, which was weird because he DVR’d the game and was 20 minutes behind me, so I couldn’t tell him how great Funchess was doing.
  • After the game, Danny Kanell said something about Michigan fans being anxious about the game “if you just read the boxscore.” As your resident boxscorologist, it is my job to assuage your anxiety. Sorry, I got nothin’ for you this week.
  • I got a light blue screen of death with 2+ minutes left in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, they got the game back on in time for us to see Jake Ryan take over. I know we’re supposed to avoid politics on the blog, but I watched major portions of both conventions and I don’t recall hearing one speaker discuss our nation’s most pressing issue – that being technical difficulties disrupting college football games.

I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex

  • Did someone forget to tell Fitz Toussaint that his suspension was over? Maybe we didn’t miss him that much against Alabama.
  • Total plays: M 56, AF 90. Total first downs: M: 19, AF: 26.
  • Look at the 2010 Indiana boxscore, total first downs: M: 15, IU: 35. Ace, things aren't that bad.
  • Air Force gained 417 yards. Last week, Alabama got 431 yards of total offense. I said I would be happy if we held the rest of our opponents under this total. I lied.
  • Our opponent’s bullets are real bullets. I wish all those guys nice, long careers in peace time.

Norfleet, Wile

  • Toward the end of last season, I made the audacious claim that “we haz special teams.” Norfleet and Wile are doing well, and Gibbons made a field goal. The net yards per punt was only 31.3 yards. Part of that is a reflection of where we were punting from, but we also lost 20 yards of gross yardage due to a touchback.
  • Air Force’s average yards per punt was 53.5 yards, with a net of 53.0. What happened to Gallon’s ~10 yards per return average? It’s still early in the season, but punt coverage and punt returns need some work.

Game Soundtrack

  • Last week, I discussed “Sweet Home Alabama.” Earlier this year, I reviewed last season with Iron Maiden songs. This blog celebrates with Muppets and drowns sorrows with Morrissey. So I’m going to try adding this section to the diary. Last week, my Johnny Cash Pandora station played, “Sunshine on my Shoulder,” by John Denver. Growing up, my family had John Denver sings with the Muppets on 8-track tape. We wore that thing out. Denver is in Colorado, Air Force is in Colorado, and the home opener was just around the corner. This line from the song took me back to those home openers I used to enjoy so much with Dad, in Section 11, Row 74, seats 5 and 6: “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” It seemed like every home opener was sunny and warm, and the day ended with half my face sunburned and a victory, because Bo always won those home openers. The next line is, “Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.” What made me cry was the cigar smoke from the guys in Row 73, seats 5 and 6. Sometimes, déjà vu’s not such a bad thing.


snarling wolverine

September 9th, 2012 at 1:53 AM ^

I thought the key sequence was a little earlier: we're up 14-3 with the ball, late in the second quarter, when Denard's pass bounces off Smith's fingertips and is picked off in our territory.  Our offense seemed to be finding its rhythm right when that happened, and may well have scored a dagger TD without that turnover.  Instead, AFA took advantage of the good field position to score a confidence-producing TD, and we were in for a ballgame.

BTW, it wasn't in the box score (I assume), but my favorite moment of the day was when Carl Grapentine forgot to turn off his PA microphone and said, at one point after Toussaint was stuffed, something like "Boy, he isn't getting anything today."  That got a lot of chuckles from the crowd.



September 9th, 2012 at 1:55 AM ^

It's from last season. One of the Big Ten network announcers compared Martin and Van Bergen to trash cans full of dirt. I thought it was a terrible analogy because Martin was actually really quick. I think the point is that the D-Line was hard to move. This year's D-Line seems to be giving up plenty of real estate.


September 9th, 2012 at 3:39 AM ^

The AFA's offense is based on keeping the defense off balance.  By forcing the defense to account for the fullback, quarterback, and wing backs on each and every play, the defense must simplify different aspects of their scheme (make coverages more simple, having only one check for motion, etc.).  Trying to do too much against the triple option is what gets a defense into trouble.  That is why you always hear the great announcer cliche "they must play assignment football".  This is a great and stupid saying.  It is great because this is what makes a defense great.  When everyone does what they need to do on a given play, the offense should not be able to find too many weak points to attack.  It is stupid because this is what a defense does every game and I find it hard to believe that Mattison is stressing assignment football against the triple option and not with other offenses that they will see (especially with such a young defense).  The triple option offense preaches ball security and getting positive yards.  Turnovers give the other team more chances to score and being a run heavy team (even one that plays at a fast tempo) attempts to limit the amount of plays the opposing team gets one way or another.  By getting positive yards it creates more options for the offense (like getting that big pass play or getting the chance to go for it on fourth down a bunch of times).  For this reason it should be expected that there would be more blanks in the defensive stat sheet.  TFL's are hard to come by when there are quick dive plays and off tackle plays coming at you.  Additionally with option plays on the edge, that allows the offense to make you guess wrong, TFL's are more of a luxury than the norm.  Turnovers are hard to come by when you play a team that is experienced in a system, focuses on ball security and as a defensive player are playing the game a step slower because you don't know where the ball is and are having to make sure that you have the pitch or the qb or the fb depending on the a variety of factors.  This is why triple options teams want to get positive yards, so they can keep the defense guessing.  At the end of the game when the defense knew that the AFA had to open things up, you could finally see the d-line and defense as a whole move faster and be more aggressive.  This is why teams like the AFA need to keep it close.  I was hoping that the defense could get some stops early because I knew that the offense would put up points.  If this occurred and the AFA was forced to open things up ealier on in the game, I would predict that you would have seen many more of those defensive columns filled up.  The defense would have been able to exploit the weakness of the AFA attack by putting them in more situations when they knew that they were going to have to pass the ball.


September 9th, 2012 at 8:45 AM ^

We definitely do need some leaders to emerge on this team.  As much as I miss the skills and abilities of players like Molk, Martin, and RVB, their leadership skills seem to have left the biggest hole.  Team 133 does not yet have an identity the way team 132 did.  It's still early in the season yet, so I am still hopeful.


September 9th, 2012 at 10:09 AM ^

We have had plenty of rough starts in the past that have turned into pretty good seasons (88, 98, and 07 started 0-2 and ended 9-2-1, 10-3 and 9-4). 

We have a cupcake next week so we will be 2-1 after game 3 which is where most of us thought we would be at.  Our opponents have had their struggles as well.  ND just got by Purdue and Nebraska lost at UCLA.  State may or may not be good, I think it is too early to tell.  Ohio struggled somewhat against UCF.  Our potential opponent in the B1G championship game lost to Oregon State. 

No need to panic.  The team has issues but our young talent should get better at a fast clip. 


September 9th, 2012 at 1:55 PM ^

I should probably rename the diary, Beyond the Boxscore, but that name is already taken. If you are a saber-based baseball stat-head, you should check out


September 9th, 2012 at 11:08 AM ^

Denard's interception deflected off of Vincent Smith's hands because Denard threw an 8' ball to a 5'6" running back.  We don't win that game without Denard, but he still completed just 56% of his passes and threw a pick.  He now has 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on the year...which is worse than his 20/15 rate last season.  At this rate, he'll have 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions by the end of the regular season.


September 9th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

I only remember 1 potential Ryan pick off hand... and Ryan was in a fully extended dive, ball hitting off top of fingers.  With Smith, he didn't even fully extend his arms, and the ball hit him near his palms.  It's unimportant at this point, I just remember being angry because the ball was catchable to me (from the perspective of me watching from my couch).


September 9th, 2012 at 5:37 PM ^

Exactly.  Ryan made a nice play to deflect that ball, and that's about all he could do.  The pass to Smith was too high and behind Smith.  He jumped and it deflected off his fingertips.  That's on the QB, not the RB.

If anyone doesn't believe me, it's at 46:46 of this video:!

Blue boy johnson

September 9th, 2012 at 9:29 PM ^

You are wrong. The pass was not "behind Smith" and wasn't "8 feet in the air". Go to 47:10 of the video and see the end zone shot of the interception. It is a play Smith has to make.

From what I could tell, the ball was closer to 6' feet of the ground when it reached Smith, definitely less than 7, and no where near 8'. Smith didn't even have his short arms fully extended when he botched the throw.


September 9th, 2012 at 2:15 PM ^

crazy extrapolations for $1,000, Alex!

In all seriousness, Denard is always going to have that "oh no" pass in any given game. You seem to be implying that he's regressing with his passing, and I don't think that's true. He's made some pretty nice throws so far, but he's obviously still not completely gotten rid of his bad habits. Smith had a chance to catch the ball, despite his short stature.

 I think his biggest issue right now is passing situations with blitzes. Borges is going to have to figure out how to get Denard to handle those situations better...he freaks out too much and throws passes that have no chance of being caught. 


September 9th, 2012 at 11:14 PM ^

How much playing does one have to get in order to be disqualified from a redshirt?  Can you still get a redshirt if for example you only play on special teams?  Here's what I'm thinking...are we really giving up a whole year of eligability for RJS just so he can play special teams (assuming playing special teams disqualifies you from a redshirt)?


September 10th, 2012 at 11:12 AM ^

I thought there were several plays where there was a player in forward motion when the ball was snapped, the most egregious being the TD.  Even if it was only one play, HOW does that get missed??? 

I forgot to TiVo the game, but i watched the replay of the TD several times on a FanVision and AF very much seemed to have a guy moving forward,


September 10th, 2012 at 9:39 PM ^

Average of the five is the 31 yard line.

The first one was Gallon's return.  He probably should have let it go out of bounds.  Norfleet returned the second one about 6 yards deep in the end zone, but given the time on the clock, I can't fault him for rolling the dice for a better return.


3:44 1 5:01 MICH 27
1:20 2 1:20 MICH 18
15:00 3 0:24 MICH 42
9:50 3 3:32 MICH 35
12:01 4 4:03 MICH 34