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Monday, September 24, 2007

Saturday Recap & Random Thoughts

Let's start with the Maize and Blue, shall we?

After where we were two weeks ago, I'm going to attempt to keep that new found hope and excitement for the season from bursting out of my chest like the creature in ALIEN.

With that said, in no particular order:

* Some pointed out in the comments section of the postgame open thread how Michigan kept running (seemingly) only to the left, especially in the second half. This wasn't lousy play calling (contrary to the shouts in the stadium and living rooms across America), this was out of necessity. Right guard Alex Mitchell left with a knee injury in the second quarter and his replacement, Jeremy Ciulla, was also injured on the same series leaving third stringer Tim McAvoy to start the second half. Even worse, Mitchell and Ciulla were in street clothes at that point.

This is a major loss. Hopefully the injuries aren't serious. Even still...

* We have to disguise things more. There was one play in particular, I believe in the fourth quarter, when the fullback started doing that "shuffle" to the right before the ball was snapped and the entire Penn State defensive line shifted that way because they knew that's exactly where we were going to run the play. Consequently, we were stopped for little or no gain.

Brian on MGoBlog rails on this all the time and it's gotten almost silly now, it's so obvious.

* What on earth can be said about Mike Hart that wasn't said on every newscast and highlight show after the game? The kid is simply amazing. Everybody in the stadium - including the entire Penn State team - knew he was going to get the ball all damn day and - even worse - which side of the line it was going to go to after the injuries mentioned above. And yet he still found a way to carry this team as he always seems to day. Wow.

Watching SportsCenter, Lee Corso had him atop his early Heisman list. While September is never the time to be talking such things, if you're drawing up lists like that, even for just for debate purposes, he has to be top three on everybody's list. Has to.

* Is it just me, or is College Football Final the greatest show on earth after a big win such as this? I swear, I can't get enough highlights, recaps and analysis tonight. Maybe I'm simply making up for the first two weekends when I turned the TV off in disgust after the Michigan games and didn't watch a damn thing after the rest of the night.

* Mallet did exactly what he was supposed to do - not lose the game. Yes, he made some mistakes but, my goodness, that's to be expected at this stage in his career. Best of all about this kid, rather than wilt under pressure, he seems to relish the challenge. That's huge.

* Props to Ron English and the defense. Like the rest of the team, he and they could have quit after being ass-raped the first two games. But they have come back and looked stellar. Yes, I know one of those games was against Notre Dame (man, it's almost weird to type that) and a vanilla Penn State offense (it's standard to type that) but they hung tough when they were needed and made the big stops. On the flip side...

* After seeing what teams - and more importantly, what schemes - have beaten Michigan the last couple of years, how on earth does a team come out and just run such a basic offense against us. Hey, as a Michigan fan with a "W" in the win column today, I'm thrilled but it's a head scratcher. Obviously a team can't junk their entire offense in a week and install the spread, or suddenly make a slow-footed pocket passer Vince Young, but Penn State showed no imagination. It's like they had no idea what sort of plays/gameplans we have trouble with.

And if the QB can't do that (as PSU's couldn't) then directly snap the ball to Derrick Williams or one of your other fleet-footed stars the way Arkansas does with McFadden. Michigan can match up and play with any team in the country that plays "old school" or smashmouth football. So to line up do that hoping to simply do it better, to me, is silly when the blueprint for success has been out there some time now.

As Detroit News sports writer Bob Wojnowski said better than I ever could in his excellent column today, "The Nittany Lions might be the last Big Ten team that still tries to beat the Wolverines at their own game, nothing fancy."

Again, I'm not bitching. I wish all teams would do that.

* The crowd. I thought the crowd was good...for a Michigan crowd. On Penn State's first drive, they were so loud, the announcers commented on the noise. However, on the next drive, it wasn't even close to where it was that first possession. The nearest it came to that opening level again was in the 4th quarter when Penn State was attempting to rally. But not every down. Only on the third downs and not with any real consistency.

And therein lies the difference between a "loud" Michigan crowd and the 'Shoe, Penn State, Oregon, etc.: Sustained noise. If you've never been to one of those places to watch Michigan play, it's not just loud for the first series and then for obvious "key" third downs in the third and fourth quarter of a close game, it's deafening on a 2nd down at the end of the 1st and a 1st down early in the 3rd. In other words, it's loud when the other team has the ball, period.

Furthermore, did you see all the crowd shots of during important moments in the game? Yes, some folks were screaming their heads off. But you could literally count just as many in each of those shots not even clapping. Just watching like they were at the theater. Pretty bizarre.

After the game, I was talking to a good friend leaving the stadium who commented on how good the crowd was. When I said that I indeed thought it was pretty good for "for a Michigan crowd," he not only disagreed but seemed to take it as a personal insult. Like he was the designated crowd noisemaker guy and I was blaming him. But like most who, for some reason, bristle at this lack of noise observation, my friend has never been to a road game to see Michigan play in one of the tough venues against a good team. So don't shoot the messenger. Because if you've never been, that's a different kind of loud.

* Anybody else catch Russell Crowe on the GameDay pre-game show in the morning in which he said something like he'd "fight to the death" for Lloyd Carr if he was his coach? Pretty damn cool.

Ed. Note: Anybody have the clip and know how to get it up on YouTube?

* Oh, I'm sure the haters who were hoping he'd get fired after Appy State or Oregon won't say it but Carr deserves props for keeping this team together and not quitting. It seemed the entire college football world - not just U-M fans - were breathing down his neck yet somehow (I'm not sure how) the man didn't panic. Unfortunately, that calmness is one of the things those that have never liked Carr use to blast him with, calling it a lack of fire or "grumpiness." But such a steady hand has been crucial to getting Michigan back to the place where every Michigan fan wakes up today thinking, "Holy shit, we have a shot at the Big 10 title." And who would have thought that two weeks ago?

* Along those same lines, look around the country at some other teams that were highly ranked then suffer heartbreaking and/or bad defeats early in year. Watch how many fight back and knock off Top 10 teams as opposed to those that go in the tank. Say what you will about Carr, English and the 2007 Wolverines, but they never, ever gave up when the entire cfb world really expected them to.

* Interesting to note that Adrian Arrington has really become the go-to receiver this year as opposed to Mario Manningham. That's not a knock on Mario, just an observation. And when either a) Henne comes back and/or b) the coaches feel confident enough with Mallet, if we start airing it out to go with Hart's skills, this offense could still be the one everybody thought it would be when the season started.

Also, Greg Matthews continues to impress.

* The kicking problems could still cost us one more game (assuming the rest of the team continues to improve and isn't the problem). I have no confidence from any place on the field with this unit. None. Zip. Zero. 24 yards or 44 yards, it's all the same to me.

* Anybody else think Hart didn't get in on his TD and was surprised there wasn't a review/challenge? I personally didn't think he made it. In fact, you saw him motion for the kicking team to "hurry up" as he ran off the field because, I think, he was also unsure.

* As noted by many, those Penn State/Joe Pa masks worn by some Nittany Lion fans are creepy as all hell. They could be the new killer mask in the next HALLOWEEN sequel.

* Didn't realize Mallet was 16 of 29.


JukeBox said...

that's a lot of thoughts.

Write something funny about the Waves that the student section tried to kill (and failed), please?

at least we're loud this time, I think the last chants: We own penn state can actually be heard on TV. but I'm not sure. if u listen closely on the TV there's actually noise =).

U didn't put it in the random thoughts. But I still did my key play thing, it's tradition and it's not going anywhere. But I made a lot more noise along with it , by shouting and jumping up and down on the metal bleachers. I don't think I am big enough to make the stadium shake but it's an attempt. (hint: Charlie Weis can probably do it)

Yost said...


Had meant to add a crowd noise bullet point but had to run out. Just put it up.

And question for you: you say you did the key play thing because it's tradition, but what exactly do you as someone who does it think that tradition is for? Usually when someone continues to carry on a tradition, there's a purpose or meaning behind it. At Clemson, they touch Howard's Rock as they take the field for luck. There's a reason there.

So why do you do it? What "tradition" are you carrying on? In all seriousness. What is it supposed to accomplish/why is it done? Do M fans think the other team or the announcers look out, see fans shaking their keys and think to themselves, "Oh look! It's an important or 'key' play and the students are shaking their keys, get it?

And it's not like it's unique to Michigan or only done by us, so it's not a "Michigan tradition." Thus, why continue.

See, in my opinion, the team running out of the tunnel under the M GO BLUE sign is tradition (started in 1962) whereas the key thing is something that was started to be "clever" godknowshowmany years ago and it simply lives on for reasons I bet most people don't even know.

whetstonebuck said...

Random thoughts, eh?

You swear less when you're happy. That's nice. However, the “ass-raped” expletive has got to go. I’m tired of the Deliverance banjo clip running through my head every time that phrase is used. I’ve gone blind poking out my mind’s eye with a stick.

The fact that PSU didn't change anything and thought they could win reveals that JoePa needs to go...now. I know, I know. That's not going to happen, but it just had to be said.

Do you actually think the rest of the Big 10 is going to come at you like Penn St.? If that happens I'm going to start watching the eastern skyline.

Wow. I've never seen such a huge fan-base turn around. Good thing you all didn't go through with the Ox Bow incident regarding Lloyd. Is anyone else amused that his legend is growing after two wins over Weis and JoePa...this year. Someone check which universe we're in at the moment.

The Russell Crowe quote was too cheesy. Gag! The only thing that could have made it worse is if he delivered it while wearing the Gladiator costume. I feel nauseous.

Those weren’t JoePa masks--those were his kids! I’m sure an apology is forthcoming from such a classy outfit as Michigan.

I think your “keys as tradition” argument is humorous considering the style of football Lloyd and Co. is running. There’s your deep thought of the day.

Congratulations on your victory. Joy is contagious. This makes the conference race much more exciting.

steve g said...

Agreed on the noise at OSU. I had seats in the endzone, not the actual Horseshoe in 2004 and I couldn't even think.

Sean Yuille said...

On the topic of the crowd, I am understanding more and more why it never seems to be as loud as other venues. For the entire first half we had two or three people maybe in their 50's or early 60's shouting for people to sit down. There was a group of 3 people standing the whole game, and of course the person I was with got into it and said something, causing an arguement, but guess what he said, "Down in front isn't a cheer." Thank you M Zone, because it truly isn't a cheer, if you want to watch a football game sitting down then stay home. It's getting ridiculous with some of these people. Thankfully we won.

ChicagoWolverine said...

wouldn't the key thing make more sense on a key offensive 3rd down? quiet down the crowd so the offense can execute? (assuming it's loud rest of game)

About crowd noise in general. I wasn't at the game this week, but was last week. I was with 5 other friends, all of us now old and busted. We were yelling and screaming our heads off. I was told repeatedly to go sit in the student section and to sit down and shut up so they could enjoy the game. I pleaded with fans... your team is 0-2, they need our support, we help fire them up -- but rather they continue to sit on their cushions and get pissed at me for standing. i was able to rally a few fans and as one guy in front of us said as he left at the end: "thank you, best fans I've ever sat next to"

JukeBox said...

Well I am guessing that someone thought doing "key plays" will actually intimidate and make the opponents make mistakes on their 3rd downs and 4th downs? it's to tell them, "if you don't make this play, u're hosed, your coach is hosed, and your team is hosed. ", so when they get nervous they give up big plays and stuff.

Why bother getting rid of what the students have been doing for so many years, as long as they make noise along with the key play. I think if they keep posting "key play" on the screen it actually works, not a whole lot, but I think it does, a bit.

yup, we might not be the only ones doing key plays, but we've been doing it for quite some time, have we not? Just like the wave, it's been around, hence it's kind of like a good luck charm, and it doesn't feel right if we just stop doing it.

maybe we should invent something new now. instead of doing key plays. we should bring our cameras to night games (if we are going to host night games, ever) and turn on flash so that during the games there will be sudden unified flashes all over the place. That might actually distract the opponents. We'll get our own unique "tradition".

It's sad if we can't do anything to call a tradition. coz students can't touch the blue banner.

surrounded in columbus said...

okay, just to prove we're not all band wagon riders, i'll throw in a gripe or two. sitting under the tent at Frasers after App St, friends & i discussed "nightmare" scenarios for the rest of the season. #1 on the list? going 11-1 or 10-2 after the loss.

why? because it shows we have a great team that thru poor coaching/prep/etc managed to toss away a shot at #1 (like 2003). we're still a long way from that, but come thanksgiving we're all talking about the rose bowl @10-2, we all need to take a breath & realize that losing to a I-AA team is humiliating no matter what else happens.

also, as much fun as yesterday's game was, it only proves the game has passed Joe Pa by more than it has Lloyd. one direct snap/one option/one trick play and everyone's calling for Lloyd's head this a.m. you can bet the house that Tiller/Dantonio/Zook/Swizter, i mean Sweater Boy are all going to look at game film and at least add wrinkles.

Lloyd deserves a lot of credit for stuffing the guts back into this squad. but he still has the blame for the first two "L's". and if he thinks we can run the table w/ Hart carrying to the left 40 times a game, we'll all be pissed come november.

so, am i happy? elated. am i hopeful? absolutely. do i think Lloyd still needs to go at the end of the season absent being struck by bolt from the blue and having a change of attitude? unfortunately, yes.

Katie said...

The student section rocks and you all bring so much to the atmosphere of the stadium. Keep on doing what you are doing, there is not a thing wrong with it! I emailed yost about this and didn't want to get all up in this right now, but seriously folks, you are preaching to the choir here. There is a certain culture in the stadium (bue hair, tea and crumpets crowd) who have been coming to games on season passes since the stone ages.......it is their culture and they are not about to change it. So this is not something that is going to change overnight, but can gradually change with those of us in the stands standing up, screaming our lungs out (while being looked at like we have 2 heads) and doing our part. It is just annoying though to hear the same frickin crap week after week. Be HAPPY that the crowd was louder than normal, be HAPPY that we stood and cheered on 3rd downs, (although my section seemed to stand for nearly every play that our defense was on the field.......start looking at the glass as being half full rather than half empty. Ok, off my soap box. Sorry, lest we forget....YOU FUCKING WON!!!!! GO BLUE!

Itamicbomb said...

"Anybody else think Hart didn't get in on his TD and was surprised there wasn't a review/challenge? I personally didn't think he made it. In fact, you saw him motion for the kicking team to "hurry up" as he ran off the field because, I think, he was also unsure."

-Once they showed the replay on the big screen, JoePa and the OC were going apeshit on the sidelines, but I have no idea why they didn't challenge before the kick. Ultimately, though, I don't think it had any impact - does anyone question Hart's ability to get into the endzone from 6 inches away and two downs?

ThaQuietStorm said...

Does anyone else think our cheerleaders look 100% hotter in what they've worn for the past two weeks (tight yellow sweater and blue skirt) than what they usually wear (white unis)?

I'd like to start a movement to make the yellow and blue outfits permanent. Who is with me?

Mary said...

On the topic of crowd noise, I might mention what I've personally known for a long time, and something the commentators were also pointing out. The shape of the big house itself does NOT promote a loud atmosphere. As a former member of the MMB, I'll let you know that it is VERY difficult to be a loud BAND in there because of that shape. You have to play 10X louder than in practice to get the same effect.

I do know firsthand the issues with the older alumni (they were CONSTANTLY telling the BAND to sit down when we were placedd on the other side of the stadium)...though I have no idea how to fix that....

Jeremy said...

I disagree. I was at the PSU game last year expecting my brain to explode. It was pretty damn loud for the first quarter, but as soon as they were losing, it was quiet for the rest of the game until they scored the late td to make it 17-10. They certainly disappeared and did NOT "sustain the noise."

Bo said...

1. qstorm, amen to the new cheerleader outfits...
2. fan noise is definitely up this year and will only improve with the addition of the east and west end structures next year
3. we're ranked #34 in the coaches poll! (with plenty of opportunities for improvement coming up)

Bo said...

and #30 in the AP poll...

JukeBox said...

when we're ranked we usually get upset pretty easily. I rather we run under the radar and still win the B10. It'd be easier on the players as well.


Well when we're down 32-7 halftime against Oregon, the whole stadium was soooo quiet.

another thing to point out is that I am kind of surprised to see PSU fans being able to chant "P S U" clearly across the field to the students section before the game started. It's amazing to see how clear it was. We should do better next game.

Nashville Wolverine said...

I live in Nashville, TN (although originally from Holland, MI) and have tix to the Purdue game in a few weeks. I can't get up to the Big House nearly as much as I'd like to anymore, but I'll be damned if I'm going to sit down the whole time and/or jingle keys. You can expect a lot of noise from this fan because I'm not driving all the way up there to stay in my seat and be quiet.