Inside the Boxscore - Team 134, Game 2

Submitted by ST3 on September 8th, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Many years ago, I played the part of Tiny Tim in my grade school's production of "A Christmas Carol." My only line was to announce that Scrooge had provided the Christmas goose for supper. The class decided that we should have a prop for the goose, to make my part look more authentic. One of my classmates volunteered his rubber chicken. Having some dimensionality, we thought that would be better than a cardboard cutout of a goose. Fast forward to the night of the play. I enter stage right, say my line, and hold up the rubber chicken. The audience burst out laughing; I dare say, that's the biggest laugh I've ever gotten. I learned a very important lesson that night. Rubber chickens are funny.

Burst of Impetus
* For a game that finished with an 11 point margin of victory, and where Michigan had a 14 point lead for a large portion, the momentum seemed to go back and forth quite a bit. One could say that the deflected passes were huge. Like that old adage goes, "live by the deflected pass in the endzone, die by the deflected pass in the endzone." What? There's no old adage like that? Well, there should be. Anyway, each side benefitted from one of those, so I'm not choosing that as our burst of impetus. My burst of impetus award goes to Fitzgerald Toussaint, as I will explain below.
* Honorable mention goes to the 4th and 4 play late in the game, when 3 or 4 of our guys jumped offsides, only ND didn't snap the ball. We got back onside, blitzed and forced a hurried throw. Incomplete. Impetus back squarely with Michigan. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, or something like that. ND had the opportunity to get a cheap 1st down. They weren't ready for it. Luck of the Irish? Not last night.

Captain Morgan's Crew
* ND only punted twice, after their first and second drives of the game. Perhaps that is why there is some grumbling about the defense. We did turn them over a couple times, stopped them on 4th down twice, and forced them to go for three FGs. Still, I like seeing the other team punt more than twice.
* As should be expected in a game where the other team threw the ball so much, our two leading tacklers were DBs. Taylor had 11 and Gordon had 7. Countess and Wilson round out the list with 4 of our 6 leading tacklers coming from the defensive backfield. I was impressed by our DB's tackling. I don't track these things, but there seemed to be very few broken tackles.
* We had 4 TFLs, 1 sack, and only one QB hurry. The four man line just wasn't getting to Rees. Neither was the blitz, the few times Mattison used it.
* In case you were wondering, Funchess did not get credit for a BrUp on the last play before half.

Ermahgardner, Young 98, Master of Social Work
* Devin is racking up nicknames as he begins his assault on the Michigan record books. At first I was against him being given #98, but now I realize he's the only guy who could wear it. Tom Harmon is known as Ol' 98. That makes Devin the Young 98. (P.S. the 100%BLU license plate was firmly attached to an Olds 98.)
* Additionally, Michigan created College Football. Innovation is in our blood. If we want our guys to wear bumblebee stripes, or M's instead of numbers, or our QB to wear #98, so be it. We're Michigan, FERGODSAKES!
* Gardner was our leading rusher with 82 NET yards, and he ran for 1 TD. He was also mistakenly called Denard half a dozen times. Hey, I get that, but he's making a name for himself pretty quickly.
* Gardner was also 21 for 33 passing for 294 yards. Phenomenal. (We won't mention the one brain-fart, considering it was his 7th game starting, not bad.)

V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* A few weeks ago, there was a post about incoming freshmen and "that guy." I think it was in an Unverified Voracity. Anyway, the point was, Michigan is a huge university, but there is going to be one guy you see everywhere, who will make you think the university isn't all that big. For me, that guy was V. Sinha. My gameday experience wasn't complete until I saw V. Sinha sporting his personalized, #21, "V. SINHA" jersey. I went to school during the Desmond Howard era, so I'm pretty sure V. Sinha's jersey was a tribute to Desmond. If this blog had existed back then, V. Sinha would have been the equivalent of Lloyd Brady or Facepalm Guy. Why do I bring this up now? Well, Brian, Ace, Seth, BronxBlue and all our favorite bloggers are going to have takes on this game, and in the hopes of not being overly repetitive, I'm providing my personal experience. My brother went to the game last night. Of all the things he could have taken a picture of and sent me (flyovers, Beyonce, Eminem, #98, the laser show, etc.) the one thing he sent was  this photo of V. Sinha. Now like any great photo of a legendary creature (Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, Sasquatch) the picture is a little blurry, but it's proof that V. Sinha is still cheering on the maize and blue.


* Gallon caught 8 balls for 184 yards and 3 TDs, and successfully deployed his cloaking device.
* Critically underutilized WR, Drew Dileo caught 3 for 18 yards, and had the other receiving TD. Kudos to Borges for calling that play on 2nd down. If ND holds us to a FG, it's still a one-score game. Instead, I imagine Borges going over his playsheet, thinking, hey, it's been awhile since we threw one to critically underutilized WR Drew Dileo. Let's do that. TD. Ballgame. I go to sleep happy.
* Is Jake Butt the TE with the frying pan-sized hands? I can't remember from all the recruiting profiles I've been reading. Anywhere, there were two balls that he could have caught that would have made us all breathe easier. On one, he drifted back instead of coming forward and highpointing the ball, allowing the ND DB to sneak in and break up the pass. Force that DB to go through you, Jake, and make the official throw his flag. He's a frosh. He'll learn. 

20 Pound Cheeseburgers
* I somehow managed to forget to include this in last week's diary, when Derrick Green was listed at 220 pounds, but Glen Mason said he looked like he was a cheeseburger shy of 240 pounds. My apologies for the oversight, chalk it up to a first game mistake.
* Touss led the RBs with 22 carries for 71 yards. I was hoping for competence from the rushing game this week, and 166 yards, 4.3 YPC, and 11 first downs certainly qualifies. That's actually better than I expected. By forcing ND to respect the rushing game, Michigan was able to isolate WRs (Gallon) one-on-one and exploit the ND secondary. But it all started with some tough, tough running from Touss.
* Gallon, Norfleet, Green, and TEAM all carried just once. Green may be a *****, but it's clear he hasn't earned the trust of the coaching staff yet. If Touss hadn't been able to make it back from that gruesome injury, there goes the running game. Without the running game, ND attacks Gardner (ESPN had a split showing his ATT/COMP with and without ND blitzing, and the numbers against the blitz were less than stellar.) Fitz' ability to crank out 3-4 yards at a time made those 2nd and 3rd down throws that much simpler. Let's not forget that he was running behind three interior linemen with a grand total of 3 collegiate starts as of game time. That was a workmanlike performance. That was a man's performance. Every ounce of sweat and pain he endured during the off-season was like storing up impetus in a jar, to be deployed against ND.

* Once again, the linemen had no stats.
* Notre Dame did get 3 QB hurries and 1 sack. Frankly, against that D-Line, that's a victory for us.

Norf and Souf
* Norfleet had 1 punt return for 0 yards, and three kick returns for 78 yards. He ran the ball once, and caught one pass. Borges and Hoke were keeping this game in Gardner, Gallon and Fitz' hands. Norfleet will get his chances later this season.

I'm an international umpire
* There were a few questionable calls and non-calls during the game. Mid-way through the 3rd quarter, Brent Musberger mentioned that it was an all-ACC crew. After that, everything made sense. I kid, I kid.
* It was a relatively penalty-free game. Michigan was called for 6 penalties to Notre Dame's 2, until 2 late pass interference calls went against ND, making it 6-4. Notre Dame's penalties were arguably more damaging to them as we garnered 3 first downs by penalty to their zero.
* I have to disagree with Ace on the pass interferences. The ND player clearly shoved Gallon out of bounds, stepped in front of the pass and would have had an interception if he held onto the ball. He clearly gained an advantage by making contact beyond five yards from the line of scrimmage. Funchess' jersey was nearly torn off on the 2nd interference call. The only controversial part of those calls is that plays similar to them weren't called earlier in the game. Twice, I quoted Musberger as saying the ND DB was, "All over the intended receiver," but no call was made.
* Kalis got his first, off-setting, unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After reading so much about his nasty streak, it was nice to see him get that first one out of the way. ESPN did not show the play, so we may never know how he earned that.

Fantasy Announcer Team
* Like Eminem, I was born in Southfield, Michigan. Makes me wonder what was in the water back then. Unlike Eminem, Brent Musburger would never be on my Fantasy Announcer Team. I love how he left Herbie off his team. That whole segment was so bizarre. As Eminem said, "I'm really uncomfortable now." Weren't we all. Best to just move on...

Fig Things
* I find it interesting that both of Michigan State's games so far have been delayed by weather. Had this happened, oh say, 10,000 years ago, the natives would have rightly decided that the land was cursed, burned everything in site, and moved on to appease the gods. And that's how I believe the couch-burning tradition got started in East Lansing.
* Shout-out to Seth's Robots.
* We had 25 first downs to their 23, but were more balanced with 11 rushing and 11 passing.
* Total offensive plays was split 50/50 with 72 plays for each team. We tallied an extra 50 yards on offense. We also took an extra 8 minutes and 8 seconds to run our plays. MANBALL UBER ALLES!


    Dad was a pretty prominent member of our Parish. He was a lector and sang in the choir. So whenever we played Notre Dame, he was sure to get confronted by a Golden Domer after Mass. "Hey, ST2, are you really rooting against the Irish this week?" His response was simple and educational, "The University of Michigan was founded by a Catholic Priest and a Protestant Minister*, and UofM has more Catholic Alumni than Notre Dame." He left those Irish fans wondering why they weren't rooting for Michigan.
    I'm pretty sure Dad would not have been pleased with Special K playing the chicken dance after the game. His response would most likely be something like, "We're Michigan, we don't mock our opposition. How boorish." And then when nobody was looking, he'd chuckle, because chickens are funny.

*Yes, the University of Michigan was leading the ecumenical movement decades before it became popular.




September 8th, 2013 at 7:03 PM ^

looking forward to reading them throughout the season.  And I agree, Ace wasn't seeing clearly on those PI - they were clearly penalties (no homerism intended!)


September 8th, 2013 at 8:16 PM ^

And I also agree with your position on the PI calls, both legitimate, after further review. The first one, which was deemed most questionable, was a good call. And it was called because the Irish db pushed off twice with both hands and then jumped the lofted throw. So, his action gave him the chance to make a play on the ball by pushing Gallon away. The official had a great angle to make it and didn't hesitate, because he waited to see whether the ball was actually caught on the apparent interception. ESPN really didn't do a good job in covering that crtical call, speculating on it rather than actually looking at it to see why it was made. . 

The second interference flag was actually just Mathias Zarley holding Funchess jersey the duration of the play. He didn't let go until the play ended. So, that one was easy for the back judge to call. The only thing that made those calls seem iffy was whether they would be called in that situation. That was the gamble ND defenders made and lost. 

One of the biggest plays of the game, was Toussaint's 22-yard run in the fourth quarter, and then followed by his swing pass catch and run down the sideline after slipping out of the backfield. That opportunity had been there all night when ND blitzed. And Toussaint, without a blocking assignment, swung out as a safety release in the flat. I had noticed that he had been available in a couple other situations like that. 

Michigan's defense wasn't dominant, it was adequate. It got some push on the rush when there were intermediate and longer pass plays, but none when there were quick routes. Plus Mattison responding to Rees' ability to read coverage and audible off safety alignment, decided bringing just four and keeping seven back in coverage was often a better way of preventing big plays. Plus,ND passed the ball 51 times. Dline and secondary were rotated more often than the linebackers it seemed to me. 

True freshmen got a lot less PT in this game than a week ago. As you noted, Green got one carry and never returned after Calabrese knifed in and took him down for a loss. 

Injuries: There was one play in the second half where three Wolverines appeared injured with a play or two, including Gallon, Funchess and Lewan. All returned without apparent problem, though Funchess seemed the most gimpy. AJ Williams hurt his knee in the first half, came off, returned for a play, and then was removed, not playing the rest of the night with Butt taking his place. The freshman tight end made several catches in traffic, but could have made more, as you pointed out. Funchess made a great one-hand grab on a quick pass over the middle, but was not as big a weapon as ND's tight end, who was very effective in the second half, catching a Rees TD pass. 

Also, while Gibbons just looks like a highly poised and totally confident kicker for Michigan, ND's field goal kicker was just as good, and hardly the liability he was suggested to be. I thought the Irish won the kicking game. 

Finally, this was a very hard hitting contest. You could hear football being played in spite of the boisterous crowd. The atmosphere seemed reminiscent of the game two years ago. 


September 8th, 2013 at 9:12 PM ^

From the stands across the field i didnt see the interference on the first one but it is clear as day on tv. If i were a domer i would be wondering why ND didnt run more. Over 50 pass attempts is strange given their effectiveness. Maybe the mix is exactly right given the defenses, but i would have ben tempted to run it anyway.


September 9th, 2013 at 12:26 AM ^

If any Irish fan ever brings up those two pass interference calls, I'll remind them about the two fantom holding penalties which stalled two Michigan drives. Seemed like the refs made sure everything was equal by the end of the game.


September 9th, 2013 at 8:44 AM ^

Just me ... or did our ACC officiating crew miss an obvious hold by the ND lineman on QWash on their first TD; the one where the pass was deflected. QWash get behind his man and has an open lane to Rees. ND dude grabs his jersey from the rear, eventually releases him because everyone in the world can see that it's holding. Everyone except the officials, that is. I'm not sure Rees gets the pass off but for that hold. I mention this grievence because: (A) there were holding calls against us (e.g., Miller) that seemed entirely non-existent, and (B) I'm tired of ND fans crying about 4th quarter pass interference call. Thoughts?