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11/11/2018 - 3:17pm Maybe JH was referring to…

Maybe JH was referring to their offensive staff’s Cory Robinson? I think he coaches QBs/receivers.

Then again it was politically a good idea to give Rutgers a little love, and to tell the committee that the game wasn’t as easy as it looked.

11/10/2018 - 9:35pm Does their stadium have…

Does their stadium have awful lighting, or am I imagining that?

Give Rutgers credit. They scored a touchdown. Pretty clearly, our guys weren’t up for this game.

11/10/2018 - 11:29am The Rutgers Problem solves…

The Rutgers Problem solves itself. During the course of this century, New Jersey and its 130 miles of Atlantic Coast will be subsumed under the Atlantic Ocean. Unless people evolve into fish-mutants very rapidly, therefore, there will be no Rutgers because there will be no New Jersey. So there’s nothing to worry about.

Now, whether College Park, Maryland is far enough inland to survive the Great Warming Flood is an open question, but I’m saying there’s a chance.

Great Lakes levels are more difficult to predict, of course, but for now scientists are telling us they are unlikely to put Ann Arbor, Madison, and Minneapolis under water.

I know what you’re all thinking: will the Scioto and Red Cedar rivers overflow and inundate Columbus and East Lansing? Highly doubtful, and I don’t think we need worry over the Huron, either, but if it were to happen (heaven forfend), Michigan sports the best Hydraulic Engineering program in the world, so our school’s continued existence is assured.

I hope this little discussion allows everyone to enjoy the remaining Michigan-Rutgers football games, if not for the quality of the competition, then for their fleeting historical significance. 

Go Blue!

11/09/2018 - 5:32pm In some alternate universe…

In some alternate universe this is a close game. I mean, you’re the Rutgers coach. What the hell do you tell your guys? 

”Coach?”

”Yes, Sitkowski...”

“Look at this, my foot just totally fell off!”

”Your shoe is off, numbskull, your foot is in your pant leg.”

”Oh. Uhm...look, my hand fell off!”

”Sitkowski, you’re trying to get out of playing tomorrow, aren’t you?”

”Well...coach, look... how about you play quarterback tomorrow and get crushed by Winovich, Gary, Uche, and those other guys?”

”Well, I, uh, can’t do that Sitkowski. I’m playing linebacker tomorrow. Because several of our guys actually did shoot their feet to avoid playing.”

11/09/2018 - 11:26am Compared to the last three…

Compared to the last three games, I’m having a hard time getting excited about watching this game, except watching the younger players work could be interesting.

I sure hope the team doesn’t share my lackadaisical attitude.

11/08/2018 - 5:36pm I kinda still want this to…

I kinda still want this to happen.

11/07/2018 - 12:12pm Anyone who thinks that…

Anyone who thinks that conversation makes any difference at all to the outcome in either game is a little bit crazy. 

You’ve got two quarterbacks who are friends comparing notes about a mutual opponent neither of them like. No big deal.  I kinda think OSU wins that game pretty easily based on MSU’s many offensive and defensive issues.

11/04/2018 - 2:24pm I’m trying to decide which…

I’m trying to decide which is more wonderfully delusional; this MSU dude’s suggestion, or the idea that Sparty could beat even this less-steady version of OSU if they felt like it.

11/04/2018 - 9:15am Ah, the sweetness of PSU…

Ah, the sweetness of PSU revenge, and the deliciousness of OSU fans’ defeatism.

This is the best Michigan team we’ve seen in many years, and that makes me really happy.

11/04/2018 - 9:04am I liked his comment about…

I liked his comment about how the atmosphere at the stadium was like the halcyon days.

We’ve had some good teams, but this team is playing at the highest level since at least 2006, maybe longer.

11/03/2018 - 10:17pm This is the most wonderfully…

This is the most wonderfully complete team and coaching staff we’ve had in 15 years. And the great thing is that they’re taking care of business and clearly having fun, too.

It’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine!

11/03/2018 - 10:03pm Awful news about McCaffrey…

Awful news about McCaffrey. I feel badly for him, seems like he has tons of potential.

11/03/2018 - 9:51pm The defensive performance…

The defensive performance was a thing of beauty, merriment and joy. 

Hail!

11/03/2018 - 2:10pm Ohio State. Heheheh.

Ohio State. Heheheh.

11/03/2018 - 12:08pm One of the best parts of…

One of the best parts of game day is reading this stuff! Loved today’s.

Incidentally, I bought two Cutco spatula spreading knives in the 80s from some kid I felt kinda obligated to buy from, and still use them daily. Weird company, but pretty good knives. Kind of like Franklin; weird dude, but pretty good coach.

However, whether headbands, knives, or weirdness are employed won’t matter. A focused Michigan squad fearing no one wins today, 42-14.

11/02/2018 - 6:53pm Sorry, worriers. It won’t…

Sorry, worriers. It won’t matter what color pants they wear on the road, since they’re not on the road. If they were on the road, it wouldn’t matter what color pants they wear, either.

It’s not about the pants. It’s about who’s wearing the pants.

Michigan, 42-14.

 

11/02/2018 - 2:52pm I have a lot of respect for…

I have a lot of respect for what Franklin’s accomplished in the last few years; he’s built a very good program.

But for some reason, when I watch Penn State play, I’m reminded of one of Brady Hoke’s teams. I know that’s weird, and no doubt this Penn State squad has toughness and heart, but there’s just something that feels like the wheels might come off at any point.

That’s probably because McSorley seems to be their entire offense, but even Denard couldn’t win the hard games all by himself at the end when he was in that role for Michigan.

Right now, I believe Michigan’s the better team on both sides of the ball, and barring disastrous luck, I think we’ll feel pretty good by the middle of the third quarter.

10/30/2018 - 10:32am These constant coach press…

These constant coach press conferences all over the country are a waste of time. You either get fluff or non-answers from coaches. There’s never any real news from any of them.

I think Harbaugh enjoys messing with the reporters. The foolish questions are really because what the hell is there to meaningfully ask that doesn’t amount to, “What plays are you going to run in the first offensive series, coach?”

10/27/2018 - 9:18pm Both incompetent and corrupt…

Both incompetent and corrupt.

No surprise he’s got his head up his ass over this.

10/23/2018 - 5:27pm As I’ve said a few times,…

As I’ve said a few times, Harbaugh is building a real, lasting program. You can see it when “next man up” actually seems to work. He’s not only attracting the serious talent that takes to work, he’s developing that talent. He’s bringing in excellent coaches.

Basically, the program is on the rise.

But - and I really hate the guy - the fact is that Dantonio is also a program-builder, is also a good developer of talent, and is a very good in-game play caller. And he’s been doing it for years without the benefit of Michigan’s bigger national reputation. So maybe it’s wishful thinking to believe that now we’re going to see MSU go into a steep decline. I don’t think that’s likely to happen.

Do I think Harbaugh is building a better program? Yes, and Go Blue.

I just think we have to see how MSU’s program plays out over the next few years before we get all dismissive. Right now it’s still anyone’s guess.

 

10/22/2018 - 3:15pm After we were so dominating,…

After we were so dominating, yet we weren’t capitalizing on good field position, and MSU went all hocus-pocus to tie the damn game, I’ll admit I was beginning to question whether the universe was simply a construct designed to make me unhappy for some bad karma I created in a past life.

Not that I believe in karma or anything supernatural. But if MSU had won, I might have started believing in that stuff.

Fortunately alien and gremlin mischief was offset by Michigan’s talent and improved coaching. I did require an alcoholic beverage to calm down when the game ended.

10/21/2018 - 5:10pm I completely missed the fake…

I completely missed the fake. What a time for great execution!

10/21/2018 - 3:04pm I loved the toughness and…

I loved the toughness and swagger the team showed. Reminds me of Harbaugh’s Ohio State prediction back in the day.

Yeah, there’ll be eons worth of material for Sparty’s bulletin board, and so what. 

10/20/2018 - 6:35pm It’s a beautiful day in the…

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

10/20/2018 - 9:39am Best ever. You both rock!

Best ever. You both rock!

10/18/2018 - 7:54pm And there’s also a downside.

And there’s also a downside.

10/18/2018 - 7:39pm I think Michigan gets a…

I think Michigan gets a solid (if not overwhelming) win this Saturday, which for me means that I’ll be less likely to be found be rolling on the floor chewing the carpet or tearing out the remains of my hair during the second quarter.

So as long as we’re going to get a W, I would love to see the resurrection of the Train formation. Not because it accomplishes much. But it’s fun. Assuming it’s still a legal formation.

10/18/2018 - 1:26pm Napoleon is famous for a lot…

Re: MSU and luck...

Napoleon is famous for a lot of reasons, but one of them was saying that he liked generals who were lucky, an acknowledgment that there’s always chaos and unpredictability in a contest.

Certainly there’s the argument that a talented and well-coached team puts themselves in positions to capitalize on opportunity, but the element of random chance certainly exists when dealing with a device shaped like a football that bounces in weird ways and is sometimes difficult to hang onto or throw well. When a team beats the statistical odds by a lot in a dice-roll situation, it’s certainly appropriate to call that team lucky.

10/16/2018 - 2:11pm The cavalry’s come, indeed…

The cavalry’s come, indeed. Folks have been critical of the play-calling the past few years, but clearly the problem wasn’t the offensive thinking, it was that they didn’t have the horses to run the plays Harbaugh likes to see run.

Warriner was a great hire. Patterson was a great get. They finally have what they need to run a more diverse offense, and the result is a more impressive, legit offense.

It’s an understatement to say the team is more balanced this year. They’re also playing with greater confidence each week - anyone can see it. Looking ahead to MSU: Harbaugh now has more firepower than Penn State had on Saturday. There’s a better defense than PSU to compliment the firepower.

As good as MSU’s defensive stats are against the run, they might be skewed by the competition. Consider who they’ve played: Indiana, Central Michigan, Arizona State, and Penn State. Show me a team with a dominating run game in that group, besides possibly/maybe Penn State. Michigan has a better run game than Penn State - over 100 yards more on the ground than Penn State this year.  And Penn State ran for over 200 yards against Sparty, which I think was about double what MSU has allowed on the ground so far.

In other words, show Sparty a diverse offense with a good running attack, and the numbers change. On the other hand, we’ve faced some pretty good run-oriented teams in Maryland and Wisconsin, and our defense has delivered the goods. We’ve also been good against the pass - did I read that we’re #1 in the country in that stat?

So, force a team like MSU to become one-dimensional, pressure Lewerke as we did with Hornibrook, and it could be a long day for Sparty. Their defense isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

I think we have a good shot at running the rest of the table this year. PSU and MSU don’t appear to be as daunting, and OSU is vulnerable, though they have an awesome QB.

10/15/2018 - 6:06pm I was saying to my wife…

I was saying to my wife before the game that I didn’t really know why I cared so much about what a bunch of teenage and twenty-something guys I don’t personally know are doing on a football field.

Maybe it had just been so long since I felt this good about a game against a good opponent. Days like this? They’d been few and far between, and even wins had been a little too close for comfort; a little too revealing of the flaws, a little too revealing of the underdevelopement of the talent our team had recruited.

Then Wisconsin came. A complete game against a good opponent? So this is what it’s like! Yeah, I could live with this feeling again. I could live with it again this Saturday, and the following week, and hell, now I think just maybe...maybe...I dare not utter it for fear of the hex. But, you know.

10/14/2018 - 1:32pm A few observations: Penn…

A few observations: Penn State was overrated this year, and the chinks in their armor were showing early in the season. MSU is who they always are - knife fighters. That works well if a knife or fists are all the other team has. But you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight, and this year Michigan’s gun is loaded on offense and defense.

MSU’s decent QB and one great receiver don’t have enough to overcome the bullets in Michigan’s gun.

Michigan will hang a lot of points on Sparty this year. I think we win convincingly.

10/14/2018 - 10:29am Best feeling after a game in…

Best feeling after a game in quite a few years. We’re seeing this program improve from week to week, and the outcome was no fluke. The D was always going to be high-caliber this year, but I didn’t expect them to completely dominate the best O-line in the B1G. And the big question was always the offense. What an O-line improvement so far! We’re seeing tangible player development in every position group.

While it’s possible to nitpick some of the play calling from both coaching staffs, the fact is that Michigan was not going to lose last night, come what may. Harbaugh is building a Program, and the results are accumulating. Imagine how blown away those recruits had to be with the whole game experience last night!

10/14/2018 - 12:12am Per Winovich, the Revenge…

Per Winovich, the Revenge Tour is on!

The offense was actually - dare I say it - fun to watch! How often has that happened against a top team in recent years?

10/12/2018 - 12:41pm Agree. I was mildly mad at…

Agree. I was mildly mad at the Freep for a while, but that was a long time ago.

The Freep’s sports writers are very good, especially when it comes to Michigan coverage. And Wojo’s brand of humor is pretty lame.

10/11/2018 - 2:39pm Speaking of ancient…

Speaking of ancient analogies...

In Roman gladiatorial contests, two frequent matchups were the Retiarius, the guy with the trident and net, but lightly armored, vs the Secutor, the guy with the face-enclosing helmet, arm armor, short sword (a gladius, of the type the Legions used), and shield.

The Secutor was all about muscling in close, the Retiarius had the advantage of distance with the trident, and that tricky net.

This weekend, we have our Michigan Wolverines (Retiarii) vs Wisconsin Badgers (Secutores).

The Wolverines have a very good mobile quarterback (the trident), and a strong pass defense and other tricks (the net).

The Badgers have a tremendously good O-Line (the armor) and running game (the gladius).

I’m thinking that in this matchup, however, the element of the shield is the weak point of the Badgers’ Secutor, as their defense has given up a lot of yards (though few teams have capitalized so far).

In the case of Michigan, our strong D-Line has been hobbled by injury. Still, Michigan managed to stop a very good running offense last week, albeit without an O-Line as dominating as Wisconsin’s.

If Michigan can slow the Wisconsin running game and force a few 3-and-outs, it could be a long day for the Badgers, assuming Michigan’s offense can put points up. I say this outing the Retiarii win.

10/11/2018 - 12:20pm For Nebraska to get 400 plus…

For Nebraska to get 400 plus yards of offense against their D tells me that our offense has the potential to put up a lot of points, and force Wiscy to play from behind. That puts our defense’s ability to stop the pass and contain explosive plays - we’re pretty good at both - at an advantage.

Sure, they can grind it out, but to win this game, their offense will need to put up points faster than they might be able to. I have a good feeling about this game.

10/09/2018 - 2:07pm My wife suffers from…

My wife suffers from debilitating headaches. It’s not the kind of thing that says, ‘exit plan’.

10/07/2018 - 6:12pm Plenty of folks will be…

Plenty of folks will be unhappy with anything but perfection. Nothing I can say to dispute that.

Nonetheless, I like the long view. Steady progress and player development are worthwhile endeavors. The wins are happening, and will get better. I’m pretty excited about where this team is headed these days.

10/07/2018 - 3:41pm I see your point, but there…

I see your point, but there’s something about Harbaugh’s work here that feels like solid program-building designed for the long haul. I think we need that. This program lost its identity during its wilderness days.

If you look at OSU, or even Wisconsin, they’ve been solid programs with an identity for decades. Each succeeding coach walked into a situation with a very good football program and team to build on.

Harbaugh didn’t have that luxury; our program was on the skids. Yet he managed to put together a couple of strong seasons until last year’s very young team, and even then, had a pretty decent record.

Also, if you look the Big Ten in Bo’s years, it was a pretty bad conference. The only competitive teams for a couple of decades were Michigan and OSU. No wonder we competed every year for the championship. That’s no longer the case, with Wiscy, PSU, and MSU in recent years. It’s become a competitive league. Hell, Northwestern had 10 wins - they’re developing a program. Iowa has developed a program. The traditionally weaker teams are no longer held together with twist ties and chewing gum.

In all but two cases, we’re getting blowout wins this year. The team is looking powerful, and should be at least competitive against the slate that’s coming up next.

People criticize the pro-style offense we run, but the fact is that this year it’s scoring an awful lot of points. And we’re controlling the ball and the tempo of games. So I think it’s a growth thing, and the team is getting better. I’d like to see us win every game by a billion points, but it’s going to be a process.

I’ve said this before, but the search for a miracle worker could easily put us in Nebraska’s situation (of course there are differences!), but they got impatient with their 9-10 win coach, and certainly their program lost its way. It’s instructive.

10/06/2018 - 9:59pm It was a solid win against a…

It was a solid win against a decent team. Weird stuff happens in football, but this game went pretty much as it ought to have. 

I feel better about our chances against the stronger teams on the schedule, especially at home. I don’t want to go too far out on a limb and actually claim to be optimistic (that’d be so un-Michigan) but I’m starting to think we have a pretty good football team.

 

10/05/2018 - 8:38pm Of course I have no idea…

Of course I have no idea what I’m talking about; that’s what makes football so much fun. Therefore, I’m thinking Michigan’s D will come out jacked up after last week’s near-screwup, and pulverize Maryland’s offense, after which Maryland becomes dejected, and Michigan rolls to a 45-7 win. And the 7 come in garbage time.

Maryland’s not exactly murderer’s row, except for what they did to that poor kid with heat stroke.

10/01/2018 - 8:43pm Others here are surely more…

Others here are surely more expert than I am, and one hears a lot of playcalling criticism, but Baumgartner over at the (I know) Freep made some interesting points; one was that the oh-so-expected first down run calls in the 4 TD drives actually averaged 8.8 yards. 8.8 yards makes first downs awfully gettable.

Another was that in the final drive, M ran 11 different plays from 11 different formations. The claim in the article was that the way the plays are drawn up is designed to pressure each defensive player to not make a mistake.

Whoever’s running the offense, be it Pep or JH, does have a method that often works, and that JH obviously believes in. Agree or disagree with the playcalling, it does seem to work when the guys aren’t collecting penalties and dropping balls.

Without 100 yards in penalties, and a botched defensive first quarter, this team would have had a bigger win.

09/30/2018 - 1:07pm Here’s my thinking: NW had…

Here’s my thinking: NW had two weeks to prepare. We had one week. Our skill position guys on offense didn’t even play a full game last week against Nebraska, and Patterson got to sit down after one series in the second half in that game. Maybe a little rusty. Maybe our guys were a little overconfident.

So NW came out all excited, played out of their minds. For a quarter. After that, it was all Michigan.

And we came from 17 points down and won. Team didn’t give up, team won. Clutch plays to finish. That’s one mark of very good coaching.

So I’m really wondering what there is to panic over? Our one loss came to a ND team that just clobbered a highly ranked Stanford team that was projected as a possible playoff team, did so in convincing fashion, and by much more than the one touchdown they beat Michigan by.

If you want to know the downside of an impatient fan base longing for a ‘better’ coach, you need only viddy Nebraska, who fired a guy who won 9-10 games year in and year out, and then got what they got. Even Scott Frost, last year’s genius coach whose mid-major team went undefeated, has been flummoxed, and can’t win a game against historically ‘weaker’ teams. Things aren’t looking good for this year’s B1G run for last year’s genius.

Until the last drive against PSU, I didn’t think OSU looked all that good. And PSU almost lost to App State. Are these two really incredible teams, or are they two good teams, neither one dominant? We don’t actually know yet. 

09/30/2018 - 12:39pm Yes. Exactly.

Yes. Exactly.

09/29/2018 - 10:39pm As of this moment, Notre…

As of this moment, Notre Dame is 24-17 in the 4th Quarter over a very good, highly rated Stanford team, and driving. I’m wondering if Michigan’s really so bad because of a one TD loss to an obviously terrific team?

OSU beat Baylor, but turns out Baylor’s not that hot this year. PSU won a squeaker against App State. 

ND is proving to be a very good football team. OSU and PSU look good against weaker opponents, but I’m not seeing either one of these teams as especially dominant; it’s 14-13 in the 4th Quarter in their game.

Sure, I could be wrong, but there’s still a lot about this season that’s yet to be determined. Michigan came from behind and won today. Beats a loss. Let’s let the string unwind a little bit and see how things go.

 

09/29/2018 - 11:07am This is hilarious stuff,…

This is hilarious stuff, gentlemen! You’re both talented writers.

In one of life’s more ironic twists, however, it’s actually more difficult for a person to become a second-rate celebrity than a first-rate lawyer.

This may explain why there are many more lawyers than celebrities.

09/21/2018 - 12:59pm We have a very small sample…

We have a very small sample size when we look at Nebraska this year, and while I won’t say they haven’t played anyone, let’s just say that the teams they’ve played aren’t going to be playoff teams this season.

To beat Michigan, they certainly have to play better than they’ve played so far. They have a very fine coach. But can they match Michigan’s talent? I don’t think they can at this point; schemes and good coaching are one thing, and maybe they’ll surprise, but Michigan’s loaded with talent, so things will have to go wildly awry, and Nebraska will have to play way over their heads to pull this one out.

Can that happen? Sure. But these guys aren’t on the same level as ND.

If Michigan’s first three games are an indication, it’ll take some time for the defense to settle in. So the first quarter will undoubtedly have me swearing and wishing I was fishing or something, and I really don’t like fishing at all.

Still, I don’t see these guys pulling two scores ahead of us in the first quarter. Michigan gets its shit together in the second quarter, Brown’s defense does its thing, and the second half feels more comfortable. Something like 35-13, Michigan, seems about right.

09/10/2018 - 3:03pm Successful programs develop…

Successful programs develop their strengths for years. Take Wisconsin, for example; for many years, it’s been all about O-Line development. To a lesser degree, that’s also true of Iowa. These programs have developed their strengths with consistent recruiting emphasis, and unless a player is a true star, seniors and 5th year seniors developed along the same lines as previous classes helm the lines. Urban walked into a fantastic situation, so he’s kind of an outlier - OSU was a great team already, and simply undercoached by Fickell.

Michigan had the advantage of that kind of continuity during and following the Bo years, and that all ended with the Exodus following the 2007 season, the RichRod change in program direction, the poorly-led Hoke years, etc. Pre-Bo, the team was up and down for some years, but the 1968 team Bo inherited was a solid contender for the Big Ten title pre-Bo, the horrid loss to OSU notwithstanding.

We look at Harbaugh at times, and ask, he’s in his fourth year, why hasn’t he achieved the same success?

Well, first year, his team was largely inherited. Maybe the fact that Hoke’s classes were highly regarded doesn’t mean that much; maybe the issue isn’t how many stars a player has, it’s how well those players fit into the scheme of the program’s next coach?

JH has been recruiting his guys for about three years (his first year was a very late recruiting start, and mostly they were Hoke’s guys). Like Hoke, he got to start with players the previous regime’s upperclassmen. He made them better. But once those players were gone, he had to develop new ones. Last year, his team was the youngest in D-1 ball. Maybe that tells us something about the dropoff in talent recruited during Hoke’s decline; maybe it tells us that those guys just didn’t fit Harbaugh’s schemes. You tell me, I’m no expert. In any case, I question whether 3 years is really enough time to re-develop a program.

I think with the youngest team in football, maybe last year JH did pretty well to get to 8-5.

I guess what I’m suggesting we consider is that it’s going to take time to develop the program consistency needed to create a world-beater. I realize the fan base is impatient - hell, I’m impatient and was pretty snarky about this team’s progress - but upon further review, maybe a little too impatient.

09/08/2018 - 5:34pm C’mon guys; a blowout in a…

C’mon guys; a blowout in a rivalry game like this is huge for the team.

We’ve only got a couple of months to get ready for Rutgers!

09/07/2018 - 6:36pm Yes, they know what they’re…

Yes, they know what they’re doing! In fact at this very moment they’re trying to get a waiver from the Big Ten and NCAA for my 94 year old mom to take her walker onto the field, so she can play Left Tackle. She has 4 years of eligibility remaining.

Just go ahead and try to pancake a 94 year old woman who has her walker!