Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Michigan: 5, Michigan State: 1

The score says it all doesn't it?

No it doesn't. Actually what really helps to understand is the difference in shots on goal between the two teams. Michigan had 54 throughout the whole game, fairly well distributed throughout each period. State had 20 for the whole game and five of them were in the last two periods. On top of that as my friend who was sitting next to me throughout that second day at Joe Louis Arena was telling me the score should be 7-1 at least. There were several missed opportunities in which a guy was out of place with a wide open net on one side.

Truth be told, the score should have been at least 7-0 because when you take into account the fact that there were a couple of wide open nets that were missed by the Wolverines, one should also think of Michigan State's goal and how it was scored. The Spartans had a two man advantage when they should have been merely playing on the power play.

The tripping penalty that Carl Hagelin was called for seven minutes into the game was one of the worst missed calls i've ever seen in hockey. He merely lifted his stick up and Brandon Gentile took the most blatant dive this side of Christiano Ronaldo. What really got people riled up was when the replay was shown on the video board at Joe Louis Arena, after the goal was scored and the announcer was announcing who assisted on the goal every Michigan fan in my area was yelling,

All in all the tournament was very good. Michigan showed that they could dominate on offense and on the scoreboard as well. However this weekend should not be seen as a marker of things to come just yet. They did not play the best competition that college hockey has to offer. The real test of this team's metal will be on January 9-10 against Miami, the top team in the CCHA whom they have already been swept by in Oxford. Hopefully for the winged helmets on ice their luck and the results of the two contests will be in their favor next time around.



Friday, December 26, 2008

GLI Preview

North Dakota: No Oshie, no Lamorreux, no Ryan Duncan, no problem for the Sioux right?

Wrong. Without those four major stars in the lineup for the men in Grand Forks, hockey season has been a disappointment by their normal standards. Prior to December the Fighting Sioux had not swept a single series, been swept in the season starting Icebreaker by Boston University and UMass. On top of that they had serious problems with every conference team they had played. Prior to a sweep of St. Cloud St at home December 12-13 they had gotten either one or two points in every series for over a month, including a home loss to Alaska-Anchorage, the perennial bottom feeders of the WCHA.

Unfortunately for the Michigan teams in the Great Lakes Invitational, the Sioux might be finding a way out of that slump. They have won four straight games, two on the road against Harvard, somewhat atoning for their poor performance in Boston at the beginning of the season, in addition to the aforementioned sweep of St. Cloud St. However, neither one of these teams is a true power this season. What is apparent, however is that the Sioux will have some confidence to try and carry them through what is expected to be, two tough games.

With the lack of star power the Fighting Sioux have started to spread the puck around more and get as many players on the score sheet as possible. This seems to have worked because they do not have a single player in the top twenty in scoring in the WCHA, but have still managed to have a record above .500, albeit barely at 9-8-1. Whatever travails North Dakota are facing, however, must seem trivial to what are facing their opponents in the semifinal, the Michigan State Spartans.

Michigan State: The Spartans clearly believed that Jeff Lerg would not fall victim to Kasey Keller syndrome, in the sense that he could win games on his own as a goalie. This has not been the case all year, it was most dramatically demonstrated in their most recent home-and-home series against the Michigan Wolverines, in which they got a goal in the first period and their defense proceeded to drop the soap in the second and third periods giving up six goals and more importantly, failing to support Lerg in anyway.

The Spartans are coming into this game on the lowest of lows, not only did they just get swept by their archrivals, they haven't won a game since Halloween. If they want to prove that they are still a capable team in the CCHA this year the GLI could be the shot in the arm the team is looking for, and even if it isn't, they could use it as added incentive to play like more of a nuisance later on in the schedule.

Overall, the MSU-NoDak game looks like it could be one sided, but probably won't be.

Michigan Tech: The Huskies have had it almost as bad as the Spartans, they have won twice since Halloween, but their problems have been compounded by replacing Rob Nolan at goaltender. Nolan, who put on one of the greatest performances i have ever seen in the GLI last year, has been replaced by Josh Robinson who has had a decent showing especially in the last three games in which he has given up a mere two goals.

The Huskies like the Fighting Sioux might be on their way back up again. This past weekend they swept Northern Michigan in a home and home series in which they gave up a single goal. One problem with that is, Northern Michigan has not been known for scoring goals this season, they have tended to rely more on their defense. Tech knows they will be in for an offensive assault from the Wolverines tomorrow at 3 regardless of the fact that Aaron Palushaj and Matt Rust are playing in the World Junior Championships. They had also better be prepared for a Michigan defense that might be revitalized from the return of Steven Kampfer.

Michigan: Woo hoo, Kampfer's back and blonder than ever. After losing two of their top defensemen, the winged helmets on ice have struggled to find the right combination of blueliners to go with Chris Summers. Scooter Vaughn and Chad Langlais have played admirably in the absence of Kampfer and Mark Mitera, but they have also succumb to fatigue at times due to the lack of depth the injuries have caused. Would they have beaten Miami, Western Michigan, and Wisconsin if one of them had been healthy, maybe, maybe not.

What is true about this team is that they are coming in having won three of their last four, they beat the top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena and swept their bitter in state rival the Spartans three weeks ago. They have had plenty of rest and are looking to justify their place in the pantheon of the gods of college hockey with or without their leading scorer.

Even without Palushaj and Rust, they still have Louie Caporusso, Carl Hagelin, and Travis Turnbull who scored the tournament winner last year in the dramatic double overtime win against Tech. They have Bryan Hogan, a goalie, who may not be the best, but somehow manages to inspire his teammates to score goals for him, something Billy Sauer seems to be incapable of doing in his senior year.

I expect Michigan vs. Michigan Tech to be a good competitive game with the good guys coming out on top.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Shavodrick Beaver didn't just de commit, he recommitted to Tulsa.


Not only this, he did this in a matter of hours. Right after de committing from Michigan, he gave the announcement that he was now committed to Tulsa. Tulsa has a good team, they made the Conference USA championship, but do they have the same kind of calibre and recognition as Michigan, even with the atrocious season that just passed us by. No.

Maybe i'm over reacting to this, but i think this could be a huge problem for the image of Michigan football, that there are things that high school football players need to think twice about when they commit to play for the winged helmets. That maybe the academics are too hard for a good player to come here, or that maybe the coaches might be a little to impersonal with their players and not involved in the players lives. I think that this also may create a perception that players can just back out of a commitment to Michigan without repercussions.

Do i think that Rich Rodriguez is at the root of this problem? Not yet, he's only been the coach for a year, and this is one blog that is not ready to pass hasty judgment against a coach after one season, even one as bad as this past one.

Beaver's backing out does not affect the team as much as some people have said it would. I believed before and i still believe today that Steve Threet will be the starting quarterback next year. Tate Forcier may get some playing time as a backup, but i don't think he will start as a freshman. In all honesty if Threet stays healthy and the offensive line plays better than they did next year they should at least make a bowl game.

The number one thing i DON'T want for Christmas is any more surprises involving Michigan football.

Stay tuned for the GLI preview on friday.



Friday, December 19, 2008


Laval Lucas Perry makes his debut for the Michigan Wolverine basketball team tomorrow at 4:00 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills a few miles south of his hometown of Flint. Unfortunately i will not be there, but i hope that i will be able to find a way to watch, due to the fact that i am home for the holidays at my parents house and they do not have cable.

Still i will be rooting for the Wolverines and be trying to keep up with this historic game as it happens.

On You Say Maize I Say Blue last month i predicted that Laval Lucas Perry and Stu Douglass would be the impact freshmen who would lighten the load of Manny Harris this year. I also said that any expectation higher than a winning record overall and a NIT appearance would be unreasonable. The former may still be correct but as a result of the early season play i feel that i underestimated the Wolverines.

I had heard a lot about Perry when he transferred here, i heard he was the kind of player that fit Beilein's system of shooting threes. Of course at the time i was under the impression that the system relied entirely on shooting three pointers and not any sort of mixing it up with inside shots. This year the Coach's system has began to flesh itself out with the three point shot setting up the inside game. Make a few triples and then pound it inside with the backdoor cut has been Michigan's mantra all season, giving them an astounding 7-2 start and upsets over Duke and UCLA.

The most amazing thing about this is that they did this without the player who was supposed to fit the new system. They also did it without relying on Manny Harris to do everything, and while Manny has done pretty much everything on the court at one point or another, he's gotten plenty of help from his supporting cast, which Perry joins tomorrow.

I hope i get to see the game on TV because this game is on as big a stage as one can find in the state of Michigan. The Palace, the home of the Pistons on a road game against a team that made the tournament four years ago, and have challenged in their conference to make it the past two years. Oakland is not a team to be overlooked, they have a loyal fanbase and they will show up hoping that they will replicate something that happened last year, a win over Oregon at the Palace last year. Michigan has to be on the guard, and keep their new guard from messing up in his first game in front of a bigger crowd than he will play against in normal competition. But then again there are so many ways that this game is not normal.

More on Schafer and McGuffie, plus i'll have a GLI preview after Christmas.

ahhhhhhhhh c-ya

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


If Mason can show up for a game at Crisler that would be a fantasy come true.

Unlike so many of my esteemed colleagues i was not at the match up between Michigan and Duke in basketball. I did, however watch the game on TV and i was in shock.

That's the best word i can use for what i saw, shock, beating UCLA was nice, but it didn't prove anything. UCLA might be one of the best teams in the nation and they certainly deserve to be ranked, but anybody can forgive them for an early season slip up or two because they have some relative inexperience in the front court with the departure of Mike Love from last year, i guarantee that if Love had not made the jump for the NBA after last season Michigan loses that game. Also i had just seen Michigan lose to Maryland on the road in a game they clearly had a chance to win. They lost by a mere five points and gave up an obscene number of second chance points due to a lack of poise in the defensive rebounding department. I saw them lose a game they could have won had they played it right.

On top of that i saw them squeak by Savannah State in overtime after trailing by twenty points, but i saw this comeback as a positive sign especially after the Tigers upset Bowling Green on the road.

But the real reason for my shock was that the team Michigan was playing had just manhandled a top ten Purdue team in West Lafayette in front of Gene Keady's disciples. They were disciplined and tough, and they didn't make any mistakes that i could easily detect.

Once the game in Ann Arbor began it became clear that this would be different. Michigan's 1-3-1 defense seemed to be poised at shutting down Duke's three point game. Although it had done that in their first meeting the Blue Devils made up for it by picking apart the maize and blue's relative weakness inside. This time was different because it seemed that for once, Michigan was prepared, they got the rebounds off of Duke's missed three pointers, they were able to keep them from driving to the basket with regularity. They didn't shut down the Blue Devils entirely, but who does that.

This defensive showing was just part of what i saw that shocked me from Michigan. They were using Beilien's three-point oriented offense to use the long shot to set up their inside game. The offense would use the threat of the three pointer and the kick out to drive to the basket on the give and go or the backdoor cut and get the lay up or the dunk. In my opinion this was best illustrated by Manny Harris's airplane jam with less than two minutes in the game.

This game was special for a number of reasons, not the least of which was because the court was rushed. Something that hasn't been done since the Ohio State game last year.

But another reason was because i got to see the smirk wiped off of Kyle (Paul Bettany) Singler.

I love Michigan, in spite of its deceivingly hard class, its problems with football lately and the fact that it's in a state where the economy has been awful since the Carter administration. This game was more reason to be reminded of how great it is to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Go Blue



Monday, December 8, 2008

If you can't play hockey right, go to state.

(clap, clap)

I had heard that the school in East Lansing was having trouble with their hockey team this year, but i had no idea how bad they were until i saw it with my own eyes at Yost on Friday. After getting a goal on weird breakaway, (highlights coming soon) their offense died and gave up several breakaway opportunities in which Michigan was able to shift the puck to the open side of the net away from Lerg and score. Not only did they do that, they seemed to be doing it at will by the end of the game.

A 6-1 win is great for any team, but when that team is Michigan and that win is against Michigan State after struggling to put goals in the net against Wisconsin can be a momentum builder for a team like the Wolverines. The momentum they got eventually carried them as they got three goals in the last two minutes to beat the Spartans at Munn.

Apparently State's team is young, but they won't admit it, my friend from the good guys went to the game on Saturday and remarked to one of the female students of the other school that Michigan was a young team last year too. She responded with a "ghetto head roll" and threatened him with physical harm, my friend, an occasional commenter on this blog told me his brother had to intervene to keep him from getting hurt. I guess not everybody loses graciously, or is willing to accept their own problems with their team.

The winged helmets on ice now look to get that momentum going against Michigan Tech on Saturday December 27 at Joe Louis Arena in the Great Lakes Invitational where they hope to retain the Macinnis Cup for the second year in a row after not winning it for nearly eleven years in a row.

If Michigan's offense is going to improve it will need to be much better than it was against WCHA competition last time it played them (Wisconsin). If they're not expect a defensive struggle with Bryan Hogan in net, something he's not accustomed to yet. More on Hogan later, but first here's my first experimental youtube video.



Friday, November 28, 2008

And now for something happy and positive: Basketball

When i saw Manny Harris and the guys beat UCLA at the Garden last Thursday. When i saw them blow out Norfolk State on Tuesday i felt that this is Michigan basketball back again. This team is in full force and they'll be able to at the very least challenge for an NCAA tournament berth. If they can start executing like they did against Norfolk every game they will be one of the best teams in the country by the end of the season and there will be no reason why they shouldn't go to the tournament. But they have to get past the brunt of their schedule first.

After taking on Savannah State tomorrow in a game they should be able to win. Michigan has to go into College Park to take on the Terrapins. Maryland just beat that school from East Lansing last night and beat them quite convincingly i might add. Not only did they beat the Spartans they beat them at a neutral site arena just like the Wolverines beat the Bruins in New York. This is crucial for Michigan's comeback, if they can beat a team who's in a similar situation of trying to comeback from mediocrity back into national prominence they will be energized going into the Big Ten season no matter how they do against Duke later at home.

While i do realize that it is a long season and that it's hard for things to go right all the time but i have to say that this team has me excited right now. It might be the beginning but it seems like the beginning of a beautiful and inspiring story that makes me feel like a little girl watching one of those Julie Andrews movies from the sixties. I hope it ends as well as it has begun.

I can't get over how happy this makes me feel.



for real this time.

Hockey update

Note: i couldn't think of anything better for a title for this one.

With the exception of the Saturday game against Western, the winged helmets on ice have been having a huge problem. They can't score goals. They've scored two goals combined in three of the last four games against Western Michigan and Miami. This is not only unacceptable it's a travesty for any Michigan hockey team, who pride themselves for their ability to put the puck in the net, maybe there is a lack of senior leadership out there, maybe they are missing Chad Kolarick and Kevin Porter, but they still have great potential goal scoring threats on this team and they're not doing what they're supposed to.

Michigan is taking on Minnesota and Wisconsin this weekend and if they want to beat them they better hope that turkey they had was packed with some kind of scoring magic because boy do they need it now.



Post Thanksgiving mortem

After watching the Michigan football team die in the second half against that school in Columbus. I tried to think of a way to not be negative about Rich Rodriguez's tenure here at the University so far. The most common saying thrown my way has been, all of his previous teams did really bad in their first seasons and they improved exponentially after that, i didn't accept that because this is Michigan and play like that is still unacceptable under any circumstances.

The conclusion i came to was that if the players who stay stick together they will be able to accomplish a better season next year. The biggest thing for this team in the off season is to preach teamwork and the ability to pick up for another's mistake, that means going after fumbles like you've never gone after fumbles before, block like your life depends on it not just your team's success. Together the Wolverines must stand or divided they will fail.

This season had promise in it, when they beat Wisconsin it seemed like everything was going to go right for this team, and the exact opposite happened. Threet got hurt and was never the same, the offensive line lost its sense of purpose and the secondary could not execute for some reason, except in the Minnesota. It seemed like every winged helmets worse nightmare come true and the problem was the team was not together it seemed like everybody out there was trying to take care of number one before busting their butt for the team.

In this case i want to single out two individuals for two very different reasons. Charles Stewart the strong safety has played like an embarrassment to all people named Charles especially Woodson and myself. His failed attempt at getting an interception against Illinois was the turning point in the game and quite possibly in the season because by playing the ball and not the man he allowed the big play to be made and exposed the world to the secondary's great weakness. Then, in the Ohio State he gets into it with one of the coaches for no reason that's been revealed so far. That is not only unacceptable behavior for a Michigan Wolverine it's unacceptable for any college football player to mouth off at a coach on national television especially if you're the one who's been screwing up lately. I'm glad he's graduating and i hope he finds something other than football to work in because he's been an abomination on the field.

Brandon Minor should be saluted for the following postgame quote:

You can’t really blame Rich Rod because everybody on the team did not buy in like they’re supposed to. We have a couple of guys not going hard,” he said. “We’ll correct that most definitely. That ain’t going to happen on my watch as a senior.

This is truly one of the most positive things that could happen to this team all season when Minor acknowledged this. He told the fans, we are taking the brunt of this season on ourselves as well as the responsibility of making it better next year. If there is anybody who should become the next great leader on the Wolverines for next season it's him.

Two things that Rich Rod will have to work on in the off season are:

1.) Teach the offensive line how to run block for your scheme and run these plays over and over again until you can get them to block correctly.

2.) Get the secondary to learn when to go for the interception, how not to get beat and how to break up passes.

Also i've been watching the Pittsburgh Steelers have some success with the type of defense HRG wants to run, their reason:


If Rich Rod wants to be successful on both sides of the ball he will have to load up on recruiting linebackers as well as recruiting running backs and linemen.

P.S.: It's not summer so i have to be able to post on all major sports individually now.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Michigan metaphorical rivalry essays part 2: Ohio State

Remember when i said that i would post a metaphorical essay for each of Michigan's major rivals? Well here's the second edition.

Ohio Stat is like the neighborhood redneck bully. You know the one who lives with his cat lady mom, who tries to beat you at everything because you're the most unique person around. He hates you because you're both smart and good at sports, the latter is the only thing he's good at. He's frustrated with his life so he's taken out his frustration on you the past four years by pounding you.

It's not that you haven't fought back, it's just that the last couple of years he's had some help from his wine cooler drinking friend Mr. Rogers. Who thinks he's helping the kid when he's really just making him more aggressive.

He seems to be taking some kind of rage inducers that help him pound you on the football field, although it's also possible he's making up for 1988-2000.

But there is hope of him not kicking your ass this week, you challenged him to a basketball game which you won. And he was eating his heart out over that, but you and i know that that redneck bully lives for one thing, beating your ass especially on the football field.

P.S. If the state of Michigan looks like a hand then doesn't the state of Ohio look like a pair of tighty whiteys?




I'm still in shock from what happened for a number of reasons.

1.) Michigan finished against a ranked team for the first time in 11 years.

2.) They won without Manny Harris having to score 20 points and give them at least half of their offensive output.

3.) They beat UCLA with a 1-3-1 zone that gave up countless wide open three pointers last year. I know they had been practicing this but i thought that without Ekpe in the post they'd be back to square one on the defensive side of the ball.

Now they play Duke and everybody in the college basketball world is talking about the Michigan upset.

Stay tuned for my obligatory OSU rivalry post.



Friday, November 14, 2008

A season lof AUUUUUUUUHGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH on the ice too.

Football has been having a terribly excruciating season this year and it has put every person who bleeds Maize and Blue this year through a lot of pain.

But what happened today with hockey was just ridiculous. I don't understand how you can out play a team like Western like that and still lose. They had twice as many shots, applied almost constant pressure to Riley Gill throughout the first two periods and yet they only got one goal. On top of that, you really have to convince me that Gill had that good of a game and is that good of a goalie, a lot of time their opportunities were good it's just that either the passes out in front ended up untouched or they shot the puck into traffic and it ran into a guy in the wrong jersey. Granted he came up big when he could, but you can't tell me Michigan's ineptness was not the cause of several fans in the student section angrily screaming obscenities after the game.

I thought hockey was supposed to be a diversion from the crap that has been going on the gridiron this year. But the winged helmets on ice are disappointing too at this point as well, Michigan just had their first home loss to a team that prior to tonight hadn't won a game in conference play. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. You can't go to Michigan and lose a home game to WESTERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On the subject of Billy Sauer i am truly torn, i have to ask, WHAT HAPPENED???????

Last year he was standing on his head to get the Wolverines to the frozen four. Now? He let's in a slap shot in that he apparently doesn't see. I don't get it what is it with him this year. Last year he didn't have many problems and aside from the Notre Dame game in the Frozen Four last year he had an excellent year, and in my opinion was the comeback player of the year, but this is just bizarre and i am swallowing my words as far as Billy Sauer is concerned.

And for those of you naysayers who say that the defense is depleted without Mitera and Kampfer, yes those losses are crucial, but that's no excuse for losing to WESTERN AT HOME!!!!!!!!!!!



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Changing of the Guard part 1

As the winged helmets on ice struggled on the road against Sarah Palin's money at work. I read the score in the game tracker that said that Michigan State lost 3-0 to that school in Columbus. This came as an absolute shock to me because normally the Spartans would take apart a team like the Nuts. But not only did the Bucks beat MSU on the scoreboard, they outshot them 49-21. While outshooting opponents has never been State's mantra, this was still pretty jarring, even with as good a goalie as Jeff Lerg is in goal, Michigan State let the Bucks let loose on him and eventually he let three in. On top of that, the next day OSU completed the sweep with a 3-1 victory in a much more even handed game.

This plus the fact that the Nanooks played Michigan ridiculously close in both games despite the fact that the Wolverines outshot them in both games, cause me to wonder whether there is going to be a changing of the guard in the CCHA. It makes me wonder if the intra state rivalry is going to carry as much weight as it has in the past. With the emergence of Notre Dame in the last two years under Jeff Jackson questions have been raised and a new quadrumvirate has arisen in Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Miami (Ohio). Now with State starting to falter and Michigan having playing under .500 hockey on the road it raises questions about who the State of Michigan's top two college hockey programs are.

Well rest assured dear readers one of them is undoubtedly still Michigan, they just need to adjust to playing on the road better. This year they've been letting the Yost crowd carrying them through the early part of their home schedule. I understand that this has been the way it's been done in the past, but they'd better snap out of it by now because otherwise they're not going to get very far in the season if they can only win half their games on the road. It's a tough conference to play on the road in, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed and soon, and hopefully they will when they face the Lawson Lunatics this upcoming saturday after my dear friend Peter Saul will try to attempt the impossible and get a one camera broadcast of a hockey game this Friday against Western Michigan.



Monday, November 3, 2008

Back to reality (football)

Denial's a bitch and i've been sleeping with her for the last couple of weeks. I honestly thought Michigan was going to beat the Spartans. They didn't seem to have much of a passing game before then, i guess i was wrong. I thought the wolverines might beat Purdue because they were desperate to keep their bowl hopes alive, but i was wrong there too, because i didn't account on the defense not showing up.

To say that this football season has been a disappointment would be a gross understatement, it is an unprecedented (i'll explain later) catastrophe that could (fingers crossed that it won't) have very bad long term consequences for the program i loved as a boy and taught me what it felt like to win in a world where i always felt like i was going to lose.

I grew up with two truly great loves as far as sports were concerned, Detroit Tigers baseball and Michigan football, i loved the Red Wings but there was a lull in that love due to the strike. I never stopped loving Michigan or the Tigers. With all of the turmoil the Tigers went through under Randy Smith as general manager i got used to the feeling of the Tigers being a perennial losing team. The Wolverines however create something different for me, one of the first memories for me as far as football is concerned was the Remy Hamilton game, which i watched at my grandma's house just over a month after my grandfather had died.

For some reason the winged helmets that Michigan had just spoke to me in a way that Notre Dame's plain golden domes didn't. Secondly i liked the sound of a name like Biakabatuka. But they kept winning after that game and Frank Beckman was consistently the voice of both the Tigers on TV and the Wolverines on the radio, so as a kid with aspirations to be an announcer i felt very close to both. And the way i felt about both was understandable, the Wolverines were the rock pillars of winning and consistency and all that was good in the world, the Tigers were the lovable losers whom i knew.

But now that has all changed and it may not get better. What is happening at Michigan, an outsider taking over at head coach and having a losing season right out of the get go, after a good coach steps down, is unprecedented in the 129 years of Michigan football. However i can think of a relevant comparison that makes me shudder to think it might be true, but unfortunately it may be. John Cooper.

Cooper was hired one year after both the death of Woody Hayes and the firing of Earle Bruce. Michigan fans are all familiar with his record of futility against them. On top of that he also was part although he did not start or finish the downfall of academics in the college football program, something Michigan has prided themselves on in the past.

On the latter part i don't think there is too much to be worried about, but on the former, i am deeply troubled. If he doesn't beat Ohio State in a season this bad it would be the greatest failure of a season in the living memory since before Bo came to town.

It's not the problem of the spread not working anymore, the wolverines have the skill players what they don't have is the tools to defend it. Not enough emphasis is put on defense in the current system right now, if HRG had put an emphasis on the defensive backs and getting them to do better in defending against the pass Michigan would not be in this position. If anybody is on the chopping block right now it's either him or defensive backs coach Tony Gibson.

stay tuned for happy days when i write about Michigan hockey.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I guess he wasn't blonde enough

It really must suck to be a starting Michigan defenseman this year. First captain Mark Mitera takes a skate to the knee, now a fellow political science major Steve Kampfer has been allegedly bodyslammed out of the season just in time for the Northern Michigan game. And that's not all, as i'm sure everybody who's read the Daily or MGoblog now knows the alleged assailant was a football walk on (undoubtedly a third or fourth string fullback) and ex-wrestler Mike Milano.

If Milano did assault Kampfer at 2 in the morning on sunday i'm curious to know why. Maybe he was frustrated that Kampfer's team was winning and his wasn't. Maybe they had different political views, or maybe Kampfer just wasn't frickin blonde enough.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Relief from the frozen front at Yost.

One of the greatest goals in Michigan history was scored by Aaron Palushaj this past weekend. I was in the stand watching it instead of looking at it from a media perspective as i could have been but i saw it nonetheless and it was glorious. Taking on three defenders is dangerous in hockey and he got mugged on the way to the goal, so much so that the ref was going to call a penalty before the puck went into the net, by which time he had waved it off. It could be a season changing moment for the winged helmets on ice.

After Fridays game there were undoubtedly a group of bloggers who would be willing to write off Michigan as unable to compete without Mark Mitera in a tougher more physical CCHA compared to years past. However the St. Lawrence Saints came out with the same game plan that NMU came into Yost with last year and got out played at their own game by the maize and blue. Palushaj's goal aside this game was determined in the corners, by the hits who was tough who could endure more of the beating, clearly by the end of the game the answer was overwhelmingly clear. This year's Michigan hockey team is incredibly well conditioned and is ready for a hard hitting season this year.

Goaltending looked good, the team as a whole was imperfect, but perfection is a hard thing to ask for, especially so early in the season. The first line looked good with Hagelin, Rust and Palushaj. It seems clear to me that Carl Hagelin has been lifting some weights this past summer because he was not merely toughing it out in the corners and in front of the net, he was giving it back to the opposing defenders. Watching this team play last weekend makes one wonder if the hockey conditioning coach could work with Barwis on the football team.

The only things in the immediate future that i am regretful of is that Michigan's next two games will not be televised from Marquette, and that WOLV will not be able to present anything to you hockey related until November.

Stay tuned for a preview of Northern Michigan.



Two Agonizing Saturdays, and one trashed apartment

As a lifelong Michigan football fan it is hard to imagine a Wolverine team that has no idea to either defend against the pass in the secondary, nor block for the run on the line.

When one grows up watching Charles Woodson, Marlin Jackson, Cato June, Leon Hall, and Earnest Shazor break up passes, make interceptions and punish recievers trying to get yards after the catch. It is hard to watch this year's team play these last two weeks.

When one grows up watching Steve Hutchinson, Jeff Backus, Jake Long, and Ron Payne create huge holes for Anthony Thomas, Mike Hart and Tshimanga Biakabatuka (i refuse to call him Tim) to pick up yards through. It is hard for one to see running backs as talented as Brandon Minor and Sam McGuffie struggle to get past the line of scrimmage due to missed assignments.

A few weeks ago, no one would talk about these problems because the problem of holding onto the football was too glaring. Turnovers still hurt, and by the lord the amount of turnovers committed early in this first half of the season are appalling enough to cause Bo Schembecler to turn in his grave. However even a back who knows how to hold onto the football as well as McGuffie can't do anything without some room to run with.

I understand the amount of youth at receiver and with the depth the winged helmets have at running back i see no reason to change the run-first strategy Rich Rod has in place, however he has got to work on run blocking. These players didn't do too much run blocking under Carr because he depended more on bigger stronger players to hold off the pass rush. Now the emphasis is more on the faster stronger players who can get out of the blocks like a sprinter and drive defensive linemen into the ground like air under the feet of Usain Bolt. Nobody on the line seems to be capable of doing this and since teamwork is essential on the offensive line more than any other area of the field it is essential that somebody start doing it and doing it now.

Brendan Harrison will be sorely missed after his graduation after this season. Donavan Warren has shown amazing amounts of moxie in his two years here so far and has shown calm under pressure, his absence last Saturday undoubtedly caused the regrettable fall of a record last Saturday. Morgan Trent is fast, he can jump and break up passes, and he still is not a great tackler, i'm not asking for him to be Charles Woodson but at least get a hold of the guy. If Charles Stewart misses another potential interception on a play that results in a touchdown he will be run out of town on a rail.

My rage not only led me to write this cliche ridden piece of crap article it also led me to throw stuff all over my already fairly dirty off campus apartment in the face of exams this week. A loss to Toledo is just plain unacceptable on any level for any era at Michigan, even a transitional one.

In spite of that i am not one of those who believe that Rich Rod should be fired immediately. I think that he should seriously re-evaluate where he recruits for in the future and try to keep his players more disciplined in the future.

Is this season a lost cause, technically no because if Michigan beats Penn State they have a winning record in conference play. However with an abomination of a secondary the wolverines looked like they might be having the wings from their helmets clipped by Joe Pa before he dies, i'm just curious if i'll have the stomach to watch it without snapping.



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BEST SATURDAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If i had gone to bed early enough the previous night to watch the 90s cartoons it could've been better, other than that it went beyond my wildest dreams.

Okay i'll admit it just like everybody else, and i know that every other blogger and their mother's written about it, but the first half offense sucked. More specifically the offensive line sucked, i was personally offended by how badly they were missing their assignments in the zone read allowing the tackles a free hand at the running back. Of course not all of the blame can be placed on the men up front. Steve Threet seemed to not be sure whether to hand off, throw it, try to run away or scream ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!! They're chasing me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Wisconsin defensive line must have been thinking, "'cha those guys are too lazy, we can take 'em." While the Badgers thought the Wolverines were lazy turns out they were just resting. The first scoring drive was done mostly in the air, with a gutsy 4th and 1 call to Kevin Grady, who held onto the ball for five yards. In all honesty the pass Steve Threet threw to Kevin Koger looked like it should have been over his head, Koger made the best catch i've ever seen a true freshman collegiate tight end make in a spread option system. On top of that he knocked the safety down on the play.

After that the winged helmets really started to show how much they could fly, especially Brandon Minor, picking up the first down catch right before darting into the end zone. Thompson's interception was a surprise to everyone in the student section, being on the opposite side of the field i really didn't expect that the Badgers would start throwing the ball like crazy, but they did, and they paid for it.

Threet's run was also a huge surprise to everyone, gutsy move, but let's not give the credit to his feet, but more to his brain. Steve sold the fake to the Badger defense so well that seven men collapsed to the side of the field where Minor was going, Threet breaks a tackle and the safety had to chase him down. If Threet could run the play would've ended in the end zone. Michigan should be glad it didn't, because not only did it give them time to run down some clock it also gave Sam McGuffie the chance to make the world say a refrain that we'll be hearing for some time, wham bam thank you Sam.

The Michigan defensive line played one of the best games i've ever seen. They stopped the run, their pass rush was incredibly potent and didn't allow much time for Allan Evridge to throw the ball. Brandon Graham is a certifiable all-american and i were an NFL scout i would probably try and take a good look at this guy. The secondary improved substantially in their ability to cover a team passing out of desperation.

The secondary will be tested substantially by Illinois dual threat quarterback Juice Williams. A lot of people regard Juice Williams as simply a running quarterback who doesn't pass much, however, that was last year when the Illini had Rashard Mendenhall at tailback and they had a running game so potent, they didn't need to throw the ball that much. I'm not saying that Juice is one of the greatest passers ever, but he can throw the ball downfield and use his weapons as good as any quarterback in the big ten. Juice's abilities on offense are Illinois primary strength, their primary weakness is their defense.

The Fighting Illini defense has given up at least 17 points in every single game they've played in so far. Chase Daniels made them look like fools in the first game of the season against Mizzou. Eastern Illinois managed to score 21 points on them and they're a middle of the road I-AA team and this past weekend lapses in judgment absolutely killed Illinois against Joe Pa.

So, should we expect a Michigan victory, not so fast. They need to figure out a way to stop Juice Williams, which is easier said than done. They need to be able to cover an attack that is pretty similar to what was being run by Utah at the beginning of the season, and they need to stop them from scoring on as many possessions as possible. The latter can be accomplished by the offense not turning the ball over, keeping it on the ground, not missing their blocking assignments and not making any stupid mistakes.

Michigan will need this win to prove that the comeback was not merely a fluke but a statement that the winged helmets are not going anywhere away from the upper echelon of the college football scene. They also need to prove that their helmets are actually going to make them fly.



Saturday, September 20, 2008

And now for something completely different.




IT'S ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, a little overboard with the caps and exclamation points, but still. Season starts in a few weeks, TV schedule comes out next week and WOLV overtime will have interviews that week as well. Not only that, the hockey team releaseda temporary depth chart. With a major shocker.

Now i know that Brian at mgoblog and the house that yost built have probably already talked about this, but Chris Summers moves to forward and Scooter Vaughn is now a starting defenseman. Woo hoo!! Way to go Scoots.

I think moving Summers to forward is a suitable move because he is definitely a much more offensive minded player than a normal defenseman should be. Which is also why i think Scooter is a great choice as a starting defenseman. How many breakaways or two on ones did he break up this past year, by hanging back and reading the forward's stick daring him to shoot the puck right into him? How many times have we seen him go to extreme lengths to get the steal and get the puck out of the zone make the extra stretch, the extra nudge?

I think Scooter Vaughn, while he may not be the most talented or skilled defenseman on the team, he makes up for it with sheer determination, which is all you can ask for out of a player like him.

And just to get you further in the mood.

Blatant rip off, eh Mister Cost?



Friday, September 19, 2008

A cooling off week

Only Michael Phelps could've saved Michigan in that pool in South Bend, that much is certain. The ball was wet, the ref gave a couple of questionable calls to the Irish, and if Rich Rod doesn't go Coach Boone on the guys about fumbles then team will have a lot of problems.

He probably already broke his foot off in Kevin Grady's hind parts in fall two a days, but unfortunately his foot must've come out Grady's hand when he was about to get tackled on that play.

We got a lot of at leasts in that game. At least we now know for certain that Steve Threet is the quarterback and can throw the ball effectively. At least we know Sam McGuffie can handle whatever a defense throws at him and still get positive yards.

Unfortunately this game also raised a lot of questions about the defense, can they stop the physical old school style of smash mouth football or do they just specialize in stopping speed? Is our secondary ANY good at all? And last but certainly not least, what the hell happened to the age old concept of getting pressure on the quarterback? Because it seemed like Jimmah Sunshine had a cruise ship load of time to get his passes off.

Now Michigan faces the Wisconsin Badgers and PJ Hill and Travis Beckum. For the latter i would expect that Rich Rod would keep disgraced Tight End and my fellow Phoenix alum Carson Butler on the team simply for practice. Throw the ball to him in practice a lot, and try to stop him. He's probably more athletic than Beckum, but because of poor decision making and the fact that Rich Rod's system doesn't utilize Tight Ends often he doesn't get much credit. They need to use him in practice because last year neither the maize and blue secondary or linebackers could stop the man.

Wisconsin believes they have an edge in the Big Ten because they do not run the spread. Michigan wants to start winning now to silence their critics.

Stay tuned for a preview of Wolverines vs. Badgers.



Friday, September 12, 2008

Notes going into the Golden Dome

Both teams in the Michigan-Notre Dame game are coming off of close victories against shall we say, less than sterling, competition. Michigan beating MAC east champ Miami (Ohio) by ten with only two really solid drives throughout the game without much of a passing attack. Notre Dame beat San Diego St by eight in a game where they got a little luck and a lot of help from the referees.

One of the things that Notre Dame will have going for them in this game, aside from home field advantage, is the revenge factor. Michigan has outscored the Domers 85-21 in the last two seasons, they are ticked off and hungry for vengeance. Their offensive line, virtually all freshmen last season, now have a year of experience under their belt, and they will undoubtedly want to destroy the Wolverines.

The Maize and Blue on the other hand come into this game with a chip on their shoulder. A loss to Utah by two, a win against Miami by ten. Not impressive to the media or the fans, they have something to prove, and that is, they are better than this they can be a solid winning team with a good offense and a suffocating strangling defense. One of the advantages for the Wolverines this year will be up in the trenches, every one of the starting front four, which made the Domer front five see wings in their sleep a year ago, has returned. Not only that the conditioning program they've dealt with over the summer have made it look like their helmets actually give them wings.

Both teams come in with some changes, Michigan arguably comes in with the bigger one with a new coach and a new offensive system that runs the ball out of a different formation. Notre Dame on the other hand, their biggest change is the amount of hair on Jimmy "sunshine" Clausen's head. A major distraction to be certain for the Irish, his hair should be ample motivation for the Wolverines. Seeing as that he would like a kiss from a defensive tackle, something i'm sure Terrance Taylor, Will Johnson or Mike Martin will be obliged to do. A helmet to helmet kiss that is.

I don't see much to scare me from Notre Dame's passing game, their receivers are decent, but unless they figure out a way to throw the ball to whoever Charlie Stewart or Stevie Brown is covering, i don't see Clausen having a great game. The biggest threat i see on the Notre Dame offensive front is running back Damon Allen, the first opponent whom our defense has faced who can legitimately break tackles. Our defense, which hasn't missed a tackle so far this season, will be severely tested, as the Irish will try to do the old three yards and a cloud of dust attack against a team that's seen the spread set two in a row.

The Domers do not have a spectacular defense but they have experience on their side, not to mention the idea that they want to pound the heck out of Michigan for what happened the past two years. They will try to blitz Michigan every down and force Steven Threet to make quick decisions, his ability to make the zone read will be tested as will our offensive line. My idea, control the ball, avoid turnovers at any cost, run draw plays, maybe even an old school single wing fullback trap. But above all else, DO NOT TURN THE BALL OVER. Let the defense do their job, they're faster than they were a year ago against virtually the same guys they faced last year.

Anybody who says this is going to be an ugly game should remember that ugly is just beauty in disguise.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

It wasn't pretty but we won.

Last week, the Rich Rodriguez era of Michigan football got off on the wrong foot as the maize and blue lost their first game of the season to Utah. Many people wondered if the offense was worth noting, as Utah gave us several drives via penalties and our defense seemed to only shut down the Utes when they were taking their foot off the pedal.

Make no mistake about it, Miami is nowhere near as good a team as Utah, but hey a win is a win, no matter how you play it. Today was a day in which Wisconsin and that school in Columbus both trailed a Conference USA opponent and a MAC team respectively by at least eight points at some point in the game. Michigan however did not trail at any point during the game, and while our defense gave up a couple of big pass plays, we kept Bo's alma mater out of the end zone all afternoon. Our line was particularly impressive with it's speed and ability to put pressure on the quarterback.

Going into the Notre Dame weekend let's look at some of the pros and cons so far.


Defensive line; if Brandon Graham continues to have the season he's having this year so far, he might be a contender for all-American. The best part about that is, while opposing lines are trying to focus on stopping him they might let loose one of his equally capable, yet less heralded teammates.

Steve Threet can run the ball when he needs to. Granted the defensive ends for the Redhawks are nowhere near as fast as the DE's for Utah, Threet really executed the zone read extremely well today. Everybody was surprised by that, most of us came into the season expecting Steve Threet to be like John Navarre at very best, but he's quick, he's made some good decisions and, for right now, he's our man at Quarterback. I don't care what anybody else says, he's our guy right now.

Our O-line this year, is nowhere near as bad as Notre Dame's was last year. While that might not be saying much they are practicing against the same line that molested Jimmy Clausen last year so badly he saw yellow wings in his sleep. While Mark Ortmann's injury is a HUGE loss that can't be understated, due to our lack of depth on the line, at least we can keep the opponents our long enough for a play to develop, sometimes.

The McGuffie sweep works. I'd be surprised if we don't use it more often, Wham bam Sam might not have the reputation of Noel Devine or Steve Slaton yet, but he's getting there.

And last but certainly not least, our defense has not missed any tackles. Last year the biggest problem for our team's defense was letting guys slip through our fingers. Now while we haven't played anybody like Travis Beckum or Beanie Wells just yet, the fact that nobody's pulled out of the polygrip so far has been, in my opinion the most impressive thing about this team so far this year.


The secondary still has problems. Morgan Trent was a projected pre-season all-American this year, but he's shown that he is probably the only player that has trouble making tackles. Donovan Warren has been good, making crushing hits and breaking up key passes, Brendan Harrison broke up a sure touchdown against Miami. But Stevie Brown continues to set a bad example for the secondary by letting sure pick sixes slip through his fingertips.

The return game has not improved. Granted we don't have Steve Breaston, but it would be nice if we had somebody who could get us out of the bad field position Miami had us pinned in all day long.

McGuffie sometimes zigs when he should zag. This is a typical freshman running back mistake, probably every running back, including Barry Sanders, has probably made a mistake like that at some point in his career. I'm not asking McGuffie to be Barry, clearly he isn't, but what i am saying is he needs to learn how to move better when his O-line lets him down. It's clear that he can break tackles and is one tough mo, but he needs to be able to shake and bake with some more consistency if he's to be carrying the mail for this team.

Finally, the passing game. To say it's been lackluster, save a few big plays would be a gross understatement. Sheridan's problem is that he's under throwing too much, Threet's problem is that he's overthrowing too much. Thankfully for us Threet's overthrows have trouble staying on the field so far, so no INT's. We haven't seen very much good execution on the bubble screen which was so dear to the success of West Virginia the last couple of years. But hey, what did you expect, Pat White?

Speaking of which, i think both guys are glad not to be Pat White this weekend, i'm not even sure he'd want to be.



Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh well, it's a new season b/w The battle for Bo (football version)

I tore my Michigan hat to pieces by the end of the third quarter and then demanded that i be photographed holding it "for the state of Michigan." This illustrates how frustrating the first three quarters under Rich Rod were. The fourth was a ray of sunshine amongst dark clouds, but it was very deceptive. We had a one play drive in which Threet threw the bomb to Hemmingway for the score, and the McGuffie touchdown was set up by three penalties. Not only that, we had the ball three times after that, and still couldn't score.

I know that this team is young on offense and that in the second half the defense was impressive, but was that because the Utah receivers had just turned the gas off or because we had finally adjusted to playing bump and run with them in our secondary. I'm not sure, but i hope to god that the adjustment to what the offense gives us strategy that Scott Schafer (a.k.a. HRG) talks to us about doesn't mean first halves where our secondary gives the receivers as much room as they need to catch the ball and run with it.

Now we go into the Miami game, the battle for Bo, the school he went to vs. the school he made famous. The Redhawks program has lost a lot of it's luster since Bo left, they've only won four MAC titles since 1969 despite dominating the conference in the 50s and 60s under Bo, woody and Ara, who each won conference titles. They haven't been as well known as the cradle of coaches in football since, and they would like an instance of revenge on the school that took their last hall of fame coach.

Michigan for their part are frustrated and ready to prove something to every TV pundit and enemy blogger out there. They will want to make a statement saying, "Here we are world entertain us. We're the team they should be playing highlights of on NBC right after Heroes."

The wolverines are going to try to make it look like their helmets actually give them wings tomorrow, because they want a win, not just for themselves, not just for Coach Rod, but for the whole state of Michigan who is counting on something uplifting to happen out there in the Big House.

P.S. maybe Schafer could put the Kensei symbol on all the players bodies to give them super powers, you never know.



Saturday, August 30, 2008

For lo the summer is long and past

And the autumn leaves turn their color.

The men in blue will put on their blue jerseys and their winged helmets for a new coach, enter the stadium in a new way and will try to once again make the University of Michigan the pride of the two peninsulas.

With great success has come great envy from many people and programs. Some respect, others hate, all are green with jealousy (some literally). But when the men in blue take the field and leap up to that banner it will signify the end to one of the toughest times of my life.

I'm not gonna speak for anybody else, but i know i have waited so long for this moment, and if the Wolverines can deliver a win on the turf of the big house it would make me once again proud to be a part of this once great state that has fallen on such hard times and given me so much hell these past three months. It would be a restoration of hope for me in being here.

But enough about me, let's play some football.

Utah's good, but they are beatable, and in my slightly biased opinion every opponent on our schedule, including Ohio State, is beatable. It's not a matter of doing the impossible for this team, or being perfect, it is merely a matter of will to win.



Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When new coaches come in, historically speaking

The first game of a Michigan coach can set the tone for his time here in Ann Arbor. Most coaches start off with a win and then go on to much greater success here.

Who can forget Lloyd Carr's first game against Virginia. After two less than stellar seasons he lead a team to a national championship and then two yrs after that guided the maize and blue to five comeback victories and a win in a BCS bowl game. Although later in his career he would slip as we all know but the fact that he got off to a great start like that made the team known for their ability to stay in games and never give up.

His predecessor Gary Moeller was considerably less lucky, and ended up being on the short end of a 14 point Notre Dame comeback in which The Bus ran over the winged helmets in the fourth quarter. The problem with giving up comebacks to other teams would culminate in that play with Kordell Stewart and Bryant Westbrook that nobody needs to be reminded about.

Bo's first game was against Vanderbilt, a then mediocre southern team which had still not integrated. Ol General Patton led his troops out in his first game and kept the infantry on the field until they had racked up 367 yards rushing as a team, largely behind the legs of their newcomer sophomore running back, and their junior quarterback!!!! Patton's troops would walk out of the Big House with a 42-14 victory that was quickly overshadowed by the embarrassing 40-17 loss we would endure to then fifth ranked Mizzou and two weeks after that when we lost to the Duff beer company of East Lansing in Bo's first intra state classic.

By this point the Michigan fans, who had never heard of Bo before 1969, were starting to grumble considerably, they probably weren't happy when the winged helmets went down 9-7 at halftime to Minnesota in Minneapolis. At halftime of that game the old general called on his troops to save the season that day, and by golly they did scoring 28 points to win the ball game and set the tone for the rest of the season to set up the stage for the funeral of the 1969 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now with this in mind does this mean that if Rich Rod wins his first game will we be great again and triumph over Ohio State at the end of the season and return to the pantheon of the college football gods, or that if we lose we will return to being over hyped and disappointing. Well, first games are always hard to tell, and here in Ann Arbor there seems to be a pattern at Michigan for the coaches and their success on the football field. Which is an easy explanation for why Rich Rod's only the tenth coach here at Meeechigan since 1901. And there's a good chance that he will continue that if he gets a win at Utah on saturday.

The only two Michigan coaches since Yost who have lost their first games were Moeller in 1990 and Bump Elliot in 1959. The last Michigan coach to lose his first Ohio State game was Harry Kipke in 1929, and then won two national championships a few years later. The last Michigan coach to BEAT Michigan State in his first attempt was Bennie Oosterbaan in 1948. That's right Bo, Mo, and Lloyd all got bested by Little Brother in their first attempt one way or another.

But nevermind all of you in the land of the winged helmets, for you should hang onto your maize and blue kilocycles, because it's going to be one interesting ride.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's been a while but I'm BAAAAAAACK

Hello everybody, i've been gone for almost a month now with work and a loss of Internet at my parents house but i'm back and i am ready for the new semester of University of Michigan.

In the upcoming week expect me to say something for a preview of the season and a preview of the Utah game coming up, a game i am going to attend. If i could live blog the game i would but that's not going to happen, so what i'll do is post a post game as well as the set list of songs that i sang on the way over to the game and on my way home, of course this will be ex posto facto.



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lemonade Maker

What we need in Michigan football land is not a snake oil salesman, not a coach who installs a system and swears on the bible that it will never change. No what we need at Michigan is a coach who can take the lemons he is given and make sweet (but not too sugary) lemonade.

The concept of the lemonade maker is about as old as the forward pass in football, it just hasn't been called that. Which means i want a dime everytime anybody says lemonade maker for the rest of my life and once i get off my job, i'm hitting the blogs and checking to see what people are saying.

In my opinion the greatest lemonade maker in the history of college football was Bear Bryant the legendary coach at Alabama. Although many people forget this part, Bryant coached at three different schools prior to taking over the Tide, Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. At Maryland and Kentucky he ran a single wing type offense that was somewhat similar to what Crisler did here in Ann Arbor, however he changed that when he came to Texas.

Although the Southwest conference and Texas football in general was where the idea of throwing the ball out of the single wing really came to national prominence, by the mid 50s things had changed. And the Bear found himself coaching a team that was on probation as a result of some quite vile sins of their previous coach. He made the Aggies run a training camp in 1954 that might make Barwis queasy he made the team train in the desert for the whole summer and denied them water breaks during practice time. Even though that particular team went 1-9 the underclassmen on that team would go onto an undefeated 9-0-1 season in 1956, and the year after that John David Crow the Louisiana skyrocket who established the Aggies as the best running team in the nation, out of a T-formation!

Although Bear was only at A&M for four years, him and Crow helped establish the Southwest as a running conference that even the Big Ten had a hard time matching. Bur when he came to Bamma he took the lemons he was handed and once again made some delicious lemonade. In the 1960s Alabama was quarterback U as they sent Joe Namath and Ken Stabler out into the world of pro football prepared and ready to win super bowls.

In the 70s integration came and only the Bear could have pulled it off in the racist climate in the SEC at the time. He led the first integrated SEC championship team in 1971 out of a wishbone three yards and a cloud of dust offense with four backs (including the quarterback) sharing the running duties equally.

We all know about the success the Bear had over the years by adapting to changes and adding new things to do in new climates. The thing that many other people don't recognize was that Bo was a lemonade maker too, although it is possible he probably squeezed his lemons a bit tighter than the Bear for his system.

We all know that Bo ran a "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense throughout his time in Ann Arbor. What many non historians don't know is that when he came to Michigan he had the best receiving tight end in college football at the time in Jim Mandich on his team, and throughout the 1969 season, especially in the
Ohio State game, Michigan was at their best when they were able to balance out getting the ball to Mandich while balancing that out with their running attack.

After that season for the next ten years Michigan either lacked a quarterback or a receiver was as reliable as Mandich. That all changed under Anthony Carter, although he only averaged four catches a game he still made Bo rethink the forward pass as well as the reverse in order to get the ball to a player he needed to carry the team. Over the course of the 80s Bo proved to be the anti-matter of Woody by instituting a more balanced attack that at times resembled a hybrid of Woody Hayes and Bill Walsh.

Which brings us somewhat back to the present. Michigan has been running the Woody Walsh system since the eighties and while it may be good enough to have a winning record in the Big Ten it is not nearly enough to compete at the same level as the USC's, LSU's and most importantly that school down in Columbus. Rich Rodriguez brings in a system that may be different from things that the maize and blue faithful are used to seeing, but after watching the highlights of the Spring Game as well as watching Glenville State highlights i believe that he can take the defensive minded lemons and make bitter lemonade for the rest of the Big Ten to swallow, and for the offense, i'm not sure yet. Hopefully he won't need to add any more sugar than is necessary, in any case i hope he proves to be as much of a lemonade maker at Michigan as he was at Clemson and West Virginia.



Thursday, July 17, 2008


Today is a sad day for Michigan hockey fans across the world as we say goodbye to the last member of one of the greatest lines in the storied history of Michigan hockey under Red Berenson, Max Pacioretty. He has signed a contract with the Montreal Canadiens for a three year entry level contract, and i would not doubt it if he ended up getting brought up to the big leagues at some point during next season.

In foresight it's obvious why the Habs signed him, they're trying to get duplicate the success that the Red Wings have had with Thomas Holmstrom by signing a guy who specializes in screening the goalie, something he did to perfection here in Ann Arbor. However it is Michigan who is on the very short end of a deal, i highly doubt Coach Berenson was prepared for this and now he has to re-analyze his team for next year's depth chart at forward, and although this team is incredibly deep it hurts to see a dependable star player like Patch leave so early.

Prior to him leaving the first line would have probably been Patch, Carl Hagelin, and either Travis Turnbull or Aaron Palushaj, now you will probably see Turnbull definitely starting as the grinder forward that normally would have been taken up by Patch. The problem however is that although Turnbull has been known to play the grinder well, can he protect Carl Hagelin from getting pummeled every time he gets into the corners, because it seemed that in every game in the NCAA tournament the opposing defensemen would just let the Swede have it. So now either the Swede has to really tough it up and start hitting back against some much bigger defensemen in some cases, or Turnbull or someone else is gonna have to step their corner game up. In any case we will need the swede to show the flashes of greatness that he showed in the postseason everyday this upcoming season.

If Chris Summers is moved up to forward, which i doubt will happen, but is entirely possible, that might help but it would leave an incredibly large gap on the defensive end of the ice. Hopefully Scooter Vaughn can step up into a role if he needs too this year, to truly prove his worth to the NHL scouts, which he apparently was unable to last year.

All in all we are going to need ten of the fabulous twelve freshmen to become super sophomores.



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Michigan metaphorical rivalry essays Part 1: Minnesota

Minnesota in football is like that guy you know in your neighborhood who was in a rock band in the seventies and had some success did a couple of tours with some good bands, but afterwards really burned out, and never seemed to adjust to the new climate in the eighties.

You know a few things about him but in reality, these things just add to the mystery of the man.

He apparently has a home but you don't know where. You see his son playing hockey, but you don't know how much he's associated with old dad. He seems to like the cold but he prefers to stay indoors for a lot of events. And the thing that boggles you the most is that he keeps asking you for "Jugs".

You're not entirely sure whether he has a speech impediment or whether he's just messing with you, either way, you try to avoid him as much as possible. Although generally docile he has taken stuff from you in the past, most notably in 2005. His son is also a hell of basketball player and if he's winning, he'll pour it on you in hockey.

wow that was shorter than i thought.



Thursday, June 26, 2008

programming update 6-26-08

Next time i will get a chance, i will finally get a chance to start my Big Ten rivalry essays in metaphor format. It will read something like this.

Ohio State = Neighborhood redneck bully
Michigan State = your sports rival relative
Penn State = old senile war vet
Minnesota = washed up old rock star
Wisconsin = your alcoholic arm wrestling uncle
Iowa = dangerous schizophrenic
Purdue = cranky guy (not sure if he's young or old)
Northwestern = prissy dude who hates sports
Chicago = prissy dude who hates sports more
Illinois = weird dudes who for the most part don't do much, but do stuff every once in a while
Indiana = basketball player who eschews football
Notre Dame = rich dude with a major superiority complex in regards to you.

P.S. I'm writing these all from the perspective of Michigan.



weekly update 6-26-08

Sorry i haven't posted in a while i've been at work.

The winged helmets on ice just released a new schedule for the 2008-2009 season. As you already know, what i would like to talk about here is what games are likely to be covered by WOLV.

October 10-11 vs. St. Lawrence

This series rests on the same weekend as the Toledo game and will not likely conflict as far as time is concerned with that game. However if the athletic department is interested in getting us to cover the saturday game we may have trouble finding a crew who will be ready that day. If we do, we may have to bend a few rules regarding dress code, to enable our crew to not have to go home and change before the game like we normally do. However it would be a great honor for us to do the opening two games of the regular season, especially if, as rumored, this turns out to be Red Berenson's last season at Michigan.

Thursday October 23 vs. Niagara.

This game is an anomaly because: a.) it's a game on thursday. b.) it's right before Michigan makes a trip to Boston to play BU. I'm not sure what the chances are of CBS college sports coming into to broadcast this game, but something tells me they may not be likely. However stranger things have happened and i'm not going to assume anything at this point. This game should be a great matchup with Niagara facing off against a Porter-less Wolverine team, considering that Porter scored four of Michigan's five goals, it should be a much more interesting game compared to in the NCAA tournament.

October 31-November 1 vs. Ohio State

The only reason why WOLV has a shot at broadcasting this game is because Ohio State is not that good of a hockey team, and not that big of a following compared to ours. I would love nothing more than to broadcast a game like this. However it is highly unlikely because of FSN Detroit's interest in the CCHA and the Big Ten Network's potential interest in doing hockey in the stead of Comcast Local.

Friday November 14 vs. Western Michigan

This will probably go to us because the simple fact is there probably won't be much interest from other networks to do this game, it should be a good game to watch though. Michigan will undoubtedly be the favorite in this game, unfortunately it is highly unlikely that we will get to interview Rich Rodriguez this year because he will probably be preparing the team for the Northwestern game the next day.

Friday January 16 vs. Bowling Green

The reason why you won't see Hockey Night on WOLV TV via Mgoblue for two months is because the college hockey showcase is the last weekend in november, and the last series in before the GLI is a home and home against Michigan State, which will obviously be on television. This is all sandwiched between two series with Miami (Ohio) which will undoubtedly be televised. Bowling Green will come into this game with a lot of questions concerning their offense considering that they lost Dereck Whitmore to graduation this past season. They will however be much tougher defensively which could make this a battle to watch.

February 6-7 vs. Lake Superior State

Given the decline of Laker hockey in the last couple of years i would not be surprised to get one of these games, but not both. It is likely that FSN Detroit will probably broadcast one and we at WOLV will do the other. This will be kind of sentimental for me, because the first hockey broadcast i worked was an overtime loss to Lake St. So for sentimental reasons, i hope the maize and blue redeem themselves against Team Sweden.

February 13-14 vs. Nebraska-Omaha

Yes, this time you'll hear "Charles in Charge the sideline reporter" as the announcer, i guarantee it. If the folks at WOLV don't let me do play-by-play for this one the critics would have won a decisive battle.

I didn't include any road games or games against Miami, Michigan State or Notre Dame, and for good reason, there is no way in heaven or hell that WOLV will do any of those games this season unless some divine miracle happens.

With the end of comcast local it is highly possible that you might see a substantial amount of Hockey Night on WOLV TV presented by Host Communications this upcoming season.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coaching Transitions Part 2: From Bump to Bo.

Although 1969 is considered the turning point for the Michigan football program, and understandably so, there was truly not much of a difference in the playing style from Bump to Bo. The real transition was not for Michigan football in 1969 but for the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.

The transition for Michigan actually happened in 1968 when track and field coach Don Canham was hired as Athletic Director replacing Fritz Crisler after his twenty years of service to the University. If Kipke's weakness had been defending the single wing, then Crisler's weakness was revealed not by him as a coach, but by him as an athletic director in his inability to get consistent TV coverage for games. Although he got started on the right foot by improving the press box to then modern standards and having the first game of that season vs. UCLA broadcast nationally. However after that season he failed to follow up on ways of getting people to watch the games on television, and by the mid 60s the only Michigan game that was consistently televised every year was the Michigan-Michigan State game, and normally that was only carried on local Detroit stations.

This eventually became a major problem in Michigan's ability to recruit great players, and although they were able to have some good teams under Bump Eliot, namely the 1964 team that won the Rose Bowl, they had an extremely hard time competing with Woody and Duffy (from MSU) for recruits because these recruits could see MSU and OSU on TV but they couldn't see U of M and the winged helmets in the big house.

Unfortunately that was only one problem in football recruiting at Michigan, the other was more psychological. Fritz Crisler could be a truly fiery coach at times during his heyday in the 40s, the same could not be said for Bennie Oosterbaan his successor. Although at 6'9" he towered over most of his players, he didn't intimidate them and was generally considered a nice guy. Although this might be a good thing for a job interview it became a liability during the fifties in the Big Ten in a time when increasingly it was the nice guys who finished last. Woody Hayes was hired at that school in Columbus in 1951 and in three years had won a national championship. Michigan State had just joined the Big Ten in 1950 and two years later won their only undisputed national championship in football. Two years later they hired Duffy who would later go onto say, "A tie isn't like kissing your sister, it's worse." And most surprisingly there was the sudden emergence of Iowa under Evy who famously shyed away from his mentor Crisler's offensive oriented approach into a more defensive mindset that sent him and the Hawkeyes to two Rose Bowls in three years during the 50s.

Michigan was in need of a coach with personality when Bennie quit in 1958 after ten years as head coach to become the head of Alumni Relations. Bump Eliot had a mediocre season in 1959 with one extremely important win that insured that he would stick around, a 23-14 victory over Woody and Ohio State in the Big House in film footage here.

Unfortunately this game was not televised, and the Wolverines had a dismal record in rivalry games under Bump going 3-7 against Ohio State and 2-7-1 against Michigan State. When Don Canham came in before the 1968 season things would change, although getting TV coverage for every game would take some time, he did get national coverage of both rivalry games that year. One of these games ended up helping tip the balance of instate recruiting in favor of the Wolverines over the Spartans.

In 1967 we went 4-6 and the average attendance for games at the big house was a pathetic 67,000, the only bright spot we had was a junior running back named Ron Johnson who had just ran for the first 1,000 yard season in school history.

After a loss against Cal to start the season the Wolverines had won three straight but were still unranked going into their matchup with the Spartans in Ann Arbor. The Spartans for their part were undefeated and ranked number 12 in the nation at the time. In this game we showcased the hard powerful running of Ron Johnson who blew through the State defense for 153 yards and a touchdown. That was not one of the three miracles of this game however, the three miracles were:

1.) That it sold out (the Tigers were in the world series at the time and neither football team had a great previous season).

2.) It was nationally televised, the networks could have easily ignored this rivalry which had been so lopsided in favor of Michigan State at the time.

3.) Michigan won.

Michigan would win eight straight before meeting the number two ranked Buckeyes in the infamous 1968 game. If there can be any justification for the pounding that we received in that matchup it is this, Bump's boys had beaten Woody's nuts in 64 and 66 the last two times we had played them in Columbus at the time. For Woody the two point conversion was sending a message to us that the Horseshoe was his turf.

The Ohio State game ended up embarrassing Bump to the point of resignation, contrary to rumors Canham did not fire Bump for being an inconsistent coach, he would later say, "Bump had an 8-2 record my first year as AD, anybody could've lived with that."

This time Canham knew exactly what the football team needed to continue their sudden success, and more importantly fill the stands. They needed a coach with personality along the lines of Woody, Bear, and Joe Pa.

With Woody and Bear firm into their jobs the next best candidate was Joe Pa, whom we actively pursued while he was preparing Penn State for an appearance in the Orange Bowl. The negotiations went nowhere fast. The next person on the list was Evy, many Michigan alum figured the former Michigan player and Iowa coach turned AD felt like he owed something to his alma mater. Evy, who was comfortable in his position with the Hawkeyes at the time, felt no such obligation.

When we finally hired Bo, we were hiring a nobody. He was the coach at Miami(Ohio), who had to have been very upset to see him leave. Not only was he an alumni of the school, he left at a time when the MAC conference had just been guaranteed a spot in a bowl game for the first time (the Citrus Bowl). Miami had finished second in the conference in 68 and was expected to challenge for the title again next year. Without the enigmatic Schembechler at the helm, the Redskins probably felt shorthanded, and for good reason they wouldn't win the conference again until 1973. But their loss was our gain and by that year every Michigan football game was being televised at least locally.

I could go on about what Bo did as a coach and his successes and failures, but i won't because virtually everyone who reads this blog either knows, or can find out for themselves elsewhere in a much more eloquent way than i can put it.

Bump became the associate AD at Michigan in 1969 and received the game ball from the Ohio State game that year from Bo for recruiting all the players who had helped win that game for him. In 1970 Bump took Evy's job as AD at Iowa and after several years of trying, finally hired a great coach in Mr. porno-stache himself, Hayden Fry, who ended the "Big Two and Little Eight" years of the Big Ten by earning a Rose Bowl berth for the Hawks in 1981.

On Bo's style: the type of football that had been played under Bump was quite possibly even more run oriented than Bo's. However seeing that Michigan games weren't on TV under Bump, we all grew up knowing Bo as a running heavy coach. To his credit he did eventually learn how to balance the attack in the late 70s and early 80s, and he knew that the key to have an effective running game was to have a good passing game to keep the opposing team honest.

His first several years we didn't have a good quarterback, but were still able to have success without throwing the ball much. It is quite possible we may see something similar this upcoming season under Rich Rod.



Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coaching Transitions: Part 1; Kipke to Crisler

With Rich Rod being the first Michigan football coach from "outside the family" since Bo, i decided to do a historical recap of the two times since the advent of Fielding Yost that Michigan has gone to a football coach from outside of the family, not including Yost of course. I will try to get as much information in as humanly possible.

If you think that posts about history are boring; bite me. Those who fail to understand the past will not have a good future.

In my opinion the transition from Harry Kipke to Fritz Crisler is more similar to the transition happening now than from Bump to Bo. Because at the time we had lost four straight games to the Buckeyes and we were implementing a new offensive system.

Harry Kipke was a former player under Yost from 1921-23, an All-American halfback who won a national championship his senior season. When he took over the Wolverines in 1929 we had just seen our coach at the time Tad Wieman (another one of Yost's former players) bolt after having a losing season in 1928. After a mediocre first season in which players had trouble adjusting to playing in the Big Ten, Kipke won at least a share of four straight Big Ten titles including national championships in 1932 and 1933.

Kipke's system of play was known as, a punt, a pass, and a prayer. He also apparently coined the phrase, "A great defense is a great offense." On offense his teams were renowned for their ability to throw the ball, this was largely thanks to their large handed quarterback at the time Harry Newman. At the time this was incredibly remarkable, and not just because of the "taboo" of throwing the football, as Bryan of mgoblog has so eloquently put it, about the pre-modern days of college football. The fact was prior to World War II the ball itself was much rounder in diameter than it is today, making it harder to grasp with one hand let alone throw. At the time throwing the ball consistently required not just a large handed quarterback, but it required the receivers to have large hands as well in order to catch it and come down with it.

The two shortcomings of Kipke became apparent after most of 1933 National Championship team graduated. He was unable to recruit anybody who could throw the ball as well as Newman after that, although he did recruit Tom Harmon (more on that later). The second great shortcoming was Kipke's inability to get his teams to defend against the single-wing offense.

Although nowadays the single wing is regarded as an old school running heavy formation in the 1930s single wing was regarded as a "razzle-dazzle" offense in which several programs in the east, including Princeton under Fritz Crisler learned how to have consistent passing attacks who had had undefeated seasons in 1933 and 1935. Interestingly enough, in my opinion, visually it looked a lot like the spread offense, only with four backs instead of four receivers.

The bread and butter play of the single wing was the end-around run. And it was used to perfection by our two main rivals at the time and their enigmatic coaches, Ohio State's Francis Schmidt (who had brought it with him from Texas Christian) and Minnesota's Bernie Bierman. Both of these teams had beaten us four times in a row and it was clear that Michigan needed a change in direction.

When AD Yost hired Crisler, at the time it was one of the biggest coups in the athletic department's history. We had just stolen an established coach from out east from an established program to come to a team that was struggling. What ended up happening was Crisler got a guarantee from Yost that he would take over as AD once Yost retired, a detail that didn't come out into the public till some time later.

Although the team had been really struggling as of late, Crisler saw great potential in three of the then incoming sophomores (freshman were ineligible to play) onto the team, Tom Harmon, Paul Kromer and Forest Evashevski. Harmon and Kromer would become known as the touchdown twins the next season. Of course we all know that Harmon later won the Heisman in 1940. Evashevski (or Evy as he was commonly known) was initially recruited to play center, but was switched to quarterback under Crisler a daring move that paid dividends as he went all-Big Ten as a "blocking back" in the single wing system. Later he would become the coach at Iowa and would eventually be a candidate for Michigan's coaching job in 1969 (stay tuned for part 2 for details.)

Although Michigan wouldn't win the Little Brown Jug under Crisler until 1943 when we finally did take the jug back we didn't relinquish it for ten years straight. The winged helmets (which Crisler himself added for the receivers to be distinguished from defenders on passing plays) had much more success against the Buckeyes under Crisler beating them three times in a row in his first three seasons, two of them shutouts IN COLUMBUS. Crisler's coaching career culminated with a win in the 1948 Rose Bowl in the second year in which the Big Ten was guaranteed a spot. Michigan had gone undefeated that year and finished the regular season ranked number two in a very close vote to Notre Dame. When we beat USC 49-0 in Pasadena, the AP took a then unprecedented postseason poll in which Michigan was overwhelmingly voted number one. The Irish, were not pleased with this outcome and made Crisler's boycott of playing Notre Dame from 1943 consensual until 1978.

Crisler became de-facto AD during World War II with Yost beginning to increasingly feel the affects of old age. He was officially hired as AD in 1948 upon his retirement as head coach and stayed there for twenty years, until Don Canham, who would be a big figure in part two.

And what about Kipke? He became a regent of the University before going into business, eventually becoming an executive with Coca-Cola.