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.