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Monday, October 17, 2011

MZone Autopy: Dissecting the Michigan State game

We present a potential new feature: The MZone Autopsy, in which we reveal what we learned after dissecting Michigan's previous game.  Unfortunately, the corpse on the table today is U-M's following the beating (both literally and figuratively) the Wolverines received from MSU.

So put on your surgical masks and some rubber gloves then gather around the table. This isn't going to be pretty.

NOTE:  If you forgot to bring your rubber gloves, simply use two of the 864,000 plastic bags that were blowing around Spartan Stadium on Saturday.


1.  Michigan got beat.  Period.  State was the better team on Saturday.  Period.  Yes, we were still in it in the 4th quarter and had a chance, but that doesn't change the fact that the better team won the game.   Period. 

2.  Were these Big 10 ref trainees working the game?  Again, that's not to blame them for the loss (see #1), but WTF?!  Some of the worst calls/non-calls:
-- The dropped lateral that would have resulted in a Michigan recovery, but instead ended up leading to an MSU TD
-- Taunting Denard during the INT return for a TD
-- The new "prison yard rules" we were playing by.  Because it seemed like only a shanking was going to get somebody booted from the game.  Hell, William Gholston twisted Denard's facemask AND punched Lewan yet was still in the game.  There was less dirty play in The Longest Yard (the original one, not the crappy remake).  

3.  I actually think I dislike Mark Dantonio more than Tressel when he was a around.  Because the mentality that it's okay to play like thugs starts at the top as evidenced by Dantonio saying this in our latest MZone video...

A "cleanly played" game.  Really?  Holy shit, I'd hate to see what he considered dirty.

MSU had five 15 yard personal foul penalties for their BS.  But, according to MSU DC Pat Narduzzi:

"That's what we try to do," Narduzzi said after Michigan State's 28-14 win against Michigan. "Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness. I'm just happy it didn't get called on every snap."

Yeah, I know Hoke didn't call them out about it.  That's just class.  Don't confuse it with fact.

I wonder if Dantonio is going to call Gholston a "tragic hero" if when he gets suspended by the B1G for his douchebaggery?  

4.  O-line?  We don't need no stinkin' O-line!  The weakest link on the field -- even more so than Denard's passing -- was Michigan's offensive line.  Simply put, they got destroyed.  Blown up, sir!  Yes, I know Denard had a horrible passing season day, but when you have .0003 seconds to throw, you'd be hard pressed to hit a moving target, too.

5.  Despite Chris Spielman being a complete tool during the broadcast trying to stir up trouble, a) there is no QB controversy and b) I didn't have a problem with bringing Devin in on a number of plays.  It's just something different teams have to prepare for.  Did he make some bad plays, like going over the LOS on the "TD" pass?  Sure.  But so did the entire team.  I don't think Hoke/Borges were creating problems using him, I think they were trying to find solutions to an offense that simply wasn't working.  A weak passing game was even worse with the wind.  I think it was reasonable to attempt to find something -- anything -- that would work. 

6.  Some Michigan fans need to channel The Dude and relax (or I need to set my Twitter feed to Asshat Blocker).  Frankly, I'm stunned by how quickly some fans jumped ship (if they were even on board to begin with).  Trashing Hoke after his first loss?  Comparing Borges to Gerg after one bad game?  Seriously?  In case those folks missed it, "Offensively inclined" Michigan scored 17 points vs. MSU last year -- a staggering 3 points more than Saturday. 

7.   As somebody said in (I think) the comments section and continuing the above (in what could really be labeled as 6B), is anybody really surprised?  By that I mean, did anybody think we were going to go 12-0 and contend for the B1G/National Title?  This was the 108 ranked defense in the country last year.  I think by all measures they've radically improved, and not simply because "they have a year more experience."  And the offense, as potent as it is/can be, struggled mightily against the better teams.  So while we can and should expect improvement, just because Hoke seemed to have, as Brian said, a horseshoe up his ass, we can't and shouldn't expect miracles.

If someone would have told you that we'd be 8-4 this year, but show improvement across the board while building a solid foundation for the future, I think most sane fans would have taken it.  I still think that's where we're headed.

8.  I have no problem with the 4th and 1 bootleg call...now kinda.  I was pissed at the time like, probably, many/most of you.  "Why didn't he just sneak it?!?!?"  But while performing this autopsy, I've changed my tune a bit.  We're all pissed because it didn't work.  Because MSU lucked out and had exactly the correct call at precisely the right time to counter it.  That's football.  Put it this way, you know "The Catch"?  The 4th and short Grbac-to-Desmond TD vs. Notre Dame that we all have probably seen 700 times (and still get chills watching)?  Well, if that pass is about 6 inches further out, we're still bitching about why Moeller didn't run a safe play and just pick up the first down.

When one of these gutsy calls work, it's a highlight for generations to come.  When it doesn't work, you're an idiot.  That's football.

But if only he he'd snuck it!...

9.  Please stop with the "special" jerseys/uniforms/whatever.  Michigan has now played two of its three biggest rivals -- ND and MSU -- and in both games, neither they nor Michigan looked like themselves or Michigan.  These Pro Combat/Legacy/Throwback/My Shoe Company Needs to Sell Shit looks are getting out of hand. 

10.  Seriously, what the f*ck was up with the plastic bags in Spartan Stadium?  It was like the landscape from MAD MAX blew across the field for the entire game.  Pick up your trash, East Lansing.


Reed said...

The worst thing about the missed lateral? They did the same damn thing on MSU's first snap of the game. Backward pass went over the receiver's head and out to bounds. Refs called it incomplete then, too. Boners!

VictoryForMSU said...

I liked the way that UM handled the post game comments - very classy. The Gholston head twist was unacceptable. Anything else in the game that is called dirty is just naive and is a result of playing football in a emotion-charged game.

Dennis said...

Oh, where to begin.

I really expected a slew of healing pics. Michigan lost. The Tigers lost the ALCS. Detroit lost to the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh showed what a true Michigan Man is. Rough sports weekend for you guys up in the Mitten State. At least Michigan State... oh wait. Never mind.

Seriously, I did have the same thoughts about all the stuff blowing on the field. I always thought you were joking when you said East Lansing was a dump.

I was going to ask what you thought of the broadcast crew. I don't think Spielman was stirring the pot because he is a Buckeye. I think there are legitimate concerns about Denard's ability to throw the ball. Now, it might be fresh in his mind because we can't throw the ball either (1-4 for an entire game?), but I think his and Urban's comments were mostly fair. We've had a history of no quarterbacks, I mean two quarterbacks, and even though coaches have said it was planned, no one down here really buys it when our coaches say it.

Horrible officiating, Gholston should have been tossed.

MSU really does seem to have a good front seven. They made your o-line look almost as bad as ours when we played them.

The last few years have been hard on you guys with great starts and horrible finishes to your seasons, so I'm not suprised there are a loud group of folks who are going "Here we go again." And I'm sure some of them are former RichRod supporters who think his offensive scheme just needed a little more time.

It is the same things folks down here are going to need to realize, it is going to take a little time to get things fixed. I think your problems are worse than ours, at least at this point, but both are correctable. I know that sounds funny given you guys have a better record, but I think the RichRod years and his recruiting style are going to be something that only time can fix. The question for Ohio State is, how much damage will we suffer in recruiting and the quality of player we have until we get our house in order.

Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

MSU dude, I am thankful at least you agree that Gholston's head twist was unacceptable. Seriously though, Gholston flat out punching some guy in the face after a play isn't dirty? Did Lewan punch him back? Nope. He walked away. Did our team or coach whine about any of this? (and you know damn well there was plenty more of it that didn't get caught on tape) Nope. That is because we have class and if losing that means winning. No thank you.

Stay Classy East Lansing......Stay classy.

rinmia77 said...

I'm on board with everything you wrote except #8. This isn't Grbac as the QB, it's Denard. There is someone on the D with their eyes on him at all times, regardless whether he runs a playaction or not. The chances of that play ever working on a down where the D has 9 in the box is <1%. Truly awful awful call. Hoke even admitted that we were outcoached...and that wasn't just coach-speak, it was his main point of the press conference.

But you're 100% right not to be too critical of Hoke. Last year the game would have been 42-14 at that moment and it wouldn't have mattered that we picked up the first down.

And I find the lack of healing pics...disturbing.

MMQ said...

Where's my healing photo?


carl tabb said...

Agreed MSU is the better team. Howeva, we could have been in a perfect position to steal one had they not called that awful whatever-you-want-to-call-it on 4th and 1. Truly, unbelievably horrible play call.
Like rnmia77 stated, calling that play with Grbac, (or Henne, Brady- insert any other former UM QB with a competent O line) and it's somewhat understandable. As the game was going and Denard and our O -line were performing it was a mind blowingly stupid call.
Agreed that if it had worked though, I'd be singing its praises.

616goblue said...


After what I had to deal with in Spartan Stadium, not to mention the pre-game tailgating where more than the wind blew, I would expect some healing taking place in this here corner of the Michigan football blogosphere.

Ryan said...


the thing that bugged me about spielman was he was never happy. if denard was taken out, he'd say "i don't undertand why you take denard out." and if denard was in and made a bad pass he'd say, "i don't know what's wrong with denard." did he ask what was wrong with cousins after throwing a lateral a mile over his receivers head?

he did the same thing last year when he constantly made wise cracks about our poor kicking game. he's just a tool.

Mikoyan said...

I think it sucks that this makes 4 in a row but I had a nasty feeling going into this game that Michigan may not pull it out. I don't think they are quite where we want them to be yet but they are close. I'm not ready to put the rope around Hoke's neck though because it's tough to be a new coach. If someone would have told me that Michigan would be 6 and 1 at this point, I would have thought they were on crack.

Anyways, it isn't all doom and gloom on my end as my Hurons pulled off the win in Mt. Pleasant.

VictoryForMSU said...

Lewan and Gholston were competing with each other all game. Obviously punching someone in football is unacceptable at any level and Gholston deserved the penalty.

At the same time, if I was grabbed by my jersey and thrown to the ground as I tried to spin around a defender, then had the same person try to shove my head into the ground, then slip his hand in my facemask, I might be upset too. Is it an excuse for his actions? No. Understandable reaction? Maybe. Is that a classy UM play? Hah. I have no problems with Gholston and Lewan battling all game. Like I said, the neck twist against DRob was unacceptable and he should be suspended for it.

Late hits are kind of a mixed bag. When you are playing against a mobile QB it is always necessary to finish plays and secure the tackle. Some hits were definitely late, but watch ANY game and see how often it would be possible for the defender to pull back yet he doesn't. It is part of the game. The UM players and coaches know and understand it so they didn't cry about it.

Carr and even RR were class acts, Hoke seems to be a class act, DRob is a class act. Certain other UM players and fans? Laughable, just like at any other school.

todd said...


Yost said...

Gholston a) twisted a defenseless player's facemask while he was at the bottom of a pile. b) he punched a guy in the face.

He should have been kicked out of the game.

But keep trying to defend it.

VictoryForMSU said...

He should be suspended.

I enjoy reading most of the articles, Yost. Keep up the good work.

Yost said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading, Vic. I'm just REALLY grumpy today in the wake.

Victoria said...

I'm totally with you on #6. I am so sick of the bandwagon and fairweather fans. Like the people calling for Devin to be put in at the Northwestern game. We just got a new coach. A first year coach hasnt beat MSU in a long time. There's going to be some (or many) growing pains.

If you can't support the team when we lose, then we sure as hell don't want you when we're winning. Please go elsewhere.

Dennis said...


I was doing some stuff around the house and then had to pick my older son up from gymnastics (God, how I hate his 11:30-3:00 Saturday practices)so I was not listening as closely as you guys. What I did hear was both Spielman (and Meyer) both point out, at times, what was wrong with Denard, which was his footwork was consistently bad and that caused his passes to not have a good delivery.

However, someone, somewhere pointed out that Denard was 9-24, with 1 TD and 1 INT for 123 yards and Cousins was only 13-24 with 2 TDs 0 INTs and 120 yards. Unfortunately that one INT was a huge difference in the game. Neither one was lighting it up and given the weather that is to be expected.

I think some of it is the announcers go into a game with memes that either get shattered or reinforced by the way the game goes. I think you will get this all season if Denard doesn't light it up. Part of this is because with the coaching change the conevention wisdom was Denard was not going to fit into the offense they want to run. When he doesn't have the numbers to match last year's people are going to ask what is wrong.

Assuming he starts next year, the announcers will be going with the "Can Braxton Miller pass the ball?" until he consitently does it.

I don't think it is just Spielman, but it may be a matter of perspective on my part. I did not hear his comments last year on your kicking. From what I have heard from him, he calls it as he sees it. He will call OSU on its faults just as quick as will Michigan, Penn State or anyone else.

Rob Pollard said...

"If someone would have told you that we'd be 8-4 this year, but show improvement across the board while building a solid foundation for the future"

Really? What is this "across the board" you are talking about?

Basically, we're "better" this year b/c our defense went from a D minus (if not lower) to maybe a B minus. That's the improvement. It was the proverbial low-hanging fruit.

The offense has regressed a bit (particurlarly if you consider by all rights we should be better this year, w/ experience all over the O returning) and the special teams has stayed about the same (i.e., punting is still good, FG kicking is still non-existent, and in the return game we still basically do nothing much and always let the ball bounce for too many yards on punts; we are perhaps muffing/fumbling less)

I understand why the offense isn't as good - changing coordinators is always tough. But that doesn't excuse Borges' cluelessness on Saturday where he tried to turn Denard/Devin into Tom Brady.

Hopefully, in time, "across the board" can happen but we're really going to finish 8-4 (or 9-3) this year b/c of a weak schedule, an improved defense (e.g., no Wisconsin), and a sprinkling of Denard magic (see ND game, 2nd half NU).

Bigasshammm said...

It's sad we could never see RRs offense with this defense. Oh the possibilities.

RR will make somebody a great OC someday. Hope he never is a head coach again though.

surrounded in columbus said...

if we've learned anything over the last 5 to 7 years, it should be to remain patient. we've had seasons w/ fast starts & disappointing endings (2006, 2009, & 2010), slow starts and good finishes (2007), and bad starts and bad finishes (2005 & 2008).

at 6-1, we are long way from finished, and long way from decided. w/ Purdue, Iowa, and Illinois coming after the bye, we could easily be 8-2/9-1 going into the last home stand. we could also be 7-3.

as Bill Parcells said (and it's the truest thing about football i've ever heard), you are what your record is. if this team ends up w/ 9 or 10 wins? that's a pretty good year.

and if it ends up w/ only 6 or 7? not so much.

but let's wait & see how it wraps up before we jump off any cliffs.

Andy said...

The Gholston incidents are well documented. I expect Dantonio to do nothing and pray the B10 conference steps in and suspends WG or at least one game (I think they sat Buckeye LB Robert Reynolds for two games after he tried to rip Wisconsin's Jim Sorgi's esophagus out in a pile).

The play that I think was the worst was the WWF body slam that took Denard out of the game. The MSU defensive coordinator joked about their penalties after the game. A first down and 15 yards is a small price to pay for getting the most dangerous offensive threat in the league out of the game.

Yost, the one thing I think you missed during this autopsy was the ease in which the Sparty defense was timing our snaps and jail-breaking the play. The same thing happened under RR, but I knew that staff was too stupid and stubborn to make an adjustment. On saturday, Many of the o-line busts were a result of a MSU player running to the line like a CFL wide receiver and being at full speed before we could make a move.

Denard & Devin make the same hand motion to signal to Molk to snap the ball. I'm no football genius, but it seems like a simple enough thing to fix, but all day long it happened.

Yost said...

Really good point, Andy. Which also makes perfect sense in a Hoke quote to the Freep I retweeted last week in which he said they didn't simulate crowd noise during practice b/c it didn't interfere with their snap count.

Yeah, also didn't interfere with MSU reading it, either.

Mikoyan said...

Can you take a look at my blog and look at the pics I've been taking at the EMU games and tell me what you think? I mostly like what I've got so far but I'd like to get better.

Thank you.

Dennis said...

Andy and Yost,

MSU was doing the same thing to us, with timing the snap counts. I never could figure out why we didn't change things. At least misery loves company.

With MSU playing Wisky this weekend I'm wondering if Gholston would hire himself out for a contract on Russell Wilson? This is where booster's should step up. Pay bounties to players of other teams to take out players of future opponents. It's brilliant. If the transaction gets caught none of your own players get in trouble. Now where did I put Bobby DiGeronimo's phone number... :)

Caring Hands Glass Art, Fine Jewelry and Gemstones said...

You all probably noticed after sparty guy picked up Denard and body slammed him to the ground, he was called on it and they showed him on the sidelines, first with the expression of "what, whaa?" Then he turns into his team mates and high fives them. Denard has a back injury now.......no doubt from that play.

I think it is harder to take this loss, knowing that this:

"That's what we try to do," Narduzzi said after Michigan State's 28-14 win against Michigan. "Sixty minutes of unnecessary roughness. I'm just happy it didn't get called on every snap."

Losing to MSU sucks (particularly for our seniors) and I am not saying that they didn't out play us or we didn't get out coached. It is dirty ball and lead by a dirty coach that makes it harder to swallow.

Ramona said...

EXCELLENT dissection and the comments are also enjoyable. Looking forward to this being a new weekly feature.

Wish I could give credit, an earlier poster pointed out that as an educational institution, UM made decisions that forever altered the course of the football program in the 1950s and that people do not attend school here for the football program. We like to win of course but it's not realistic to expect 12-0 seasons when college football has basically become "corporate". Oversigning, cheating, bribes, Tresslegate..we are not ever going there and in light of that, I am OK with 8-4!