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Monday, November 07, 2011

MZone Autopsy: Dissecting the Iowa Game

That was just plain ugly.  Sadly, we have to take a look again in this week's edition of the MZone Autopsy.


1.  Michigan didn't deserve to win.  Sad but true.  Iowa played their best game of the year while Michigan played its worst.  I'll even go so far as to say worse than MSU because this wasn't shouldn't have been a good enough team to cause U-M such problems, while the Spartans are.  As mentioned in our anti-healing healing pictures, this was a complete team loss: Denard's bad fumble, the INT into a sea of black at the end of the first half, a missed XP, dropped passes, questionable coaching, and on and on and on.  Yes, it was indeed a team effort of suck.  Having said that...

2.  There were some pretty bad you gotta be kidding me ass-awful calls in the game, two of the worst on Michigan's final possession.  Sadly, while I do think Junior Hemingway caught the TD pass on second and goal, once it was initially called incomplete on the field, I think it was hard to say it was "indisputable" and thus overturn it.  Had it initially been ruled a TD, it probably would've stood.

And the last play of the game...WTF?!  How was that NOT flagged for PI?  As HSR said, "there have been efforts on Dancing with the Stars with less contact."

Yes, that's probably the worst end-of-game-in-the-endzone-non-PI call against Michigan since MSU in 1990 (go to the 7 minute mark, watch, get pissed again like it still matters).

And I'm not even bringing up things like, oh, the long PI flag that was thrown against Iowa...then picked up. 

I know, Don't put the game in the refs' hands and you don't have to worry about this stuff.  True.  And even if we'd scored there at the end, Michigan still had to get a 2-point conversion just to get to OT.  True.  But still... &^%@!

3.  Immediately after the game, Michigan fans took to the Interwebs, blogs, boards and Twitter to trash (or snark) the U-M coaches, mostly Al Borges and the offensive play calling.  Even I was "that guy."  In talking to my former MZone co-hort, Benny, in the aftermath, I was bitching about how easily U-M marched down the field its final two drives out of the shotgun.  I gave Benny the most cliched, uninformed fan lament; one you've probably heard or will hear a lot this week: "Why didn't we do that the entire game?"

Benny's reply: "Because they weren't in the same defense they'd been in all game."  His point was that the reason Michigan had an easier time on its last two drives was because Iowa was in a looser D.  Up two scores with under 10 minutes left, they just didn't want to give up the big play.

Yeah, maybe.

But can I at least bitch that -- especially on the last play --  Denard should've been rolling out for a play that gave the most electrifying runner on the field a run/pass option rather than calling something in which he had to thread the needle?

In defense of the coaches, I will say that you can't blame the play calling for the missed XP, Denard laying the football on the turf, or throwing into double coverage at the end of the first half, or receivers dropping balls right in the numbers, etc. etc.  You take away those glaring mistakes and, with the same game plan, we probably don't need an end-of-the-game miracle or have to worry about shitty calls. 

SIDE NOTE:  In looking for the clips above, I stumbled upon some dude bitching in the comments of an M/Iowa video about how Borges and his crew have ruined one of the best offenses in cfb.  He then went on to state that if RR were still around, we wouldn't have this problem. 

Yeah, life would be all lollipops and gummy bears. 

Remember: he's a Buckeye!
4.  Chris Spielman must love how many anxious U-M fans he's created with his incessant complaining each time Devin Gardner enters the game.  But when DR is on the field with DG, I don't think it's "taking Denard out of the game" but rather (hopefully?) giving opposing defense new headaches and more worries.  Each time Denard goes in motion, he's probably being accounted for in a way that's disproportionate to somebody else.  In theory, it's not a bad plan.  Especially since, as you may have noticed, Denard has kind of struggled as a passer this season (even when his receivers aren't dropping balls like they greased up with cooking oil).  Unfortunately, I'm not sure Devin is progressing like anybody would have hoped. 

Is it "ruining" Denard's rhythm by inserting Devin each game?  Honestly, I don't think DG is playing that much for it to be a problem.  Plus, with Denard's propensity to get injured, U-M needs a back-up who can step in and play.  Who hasn't just taken a couple knees during mop up duty.  I think it's more of an execution problem.

5.  Michigan is making progress and is a better team than last year.  Before the season, I said to Benny that I thought Michigan would finish the regular season around 7-5, but be much closer to 9-3.  This was in contrast to last year in which Michigan was 7-5 but, in my opinion, closer to 3-9.  Put it this way, in both of Michigan's losses, the Wolverines had a chance well into the 4th quarter (and right until the last play against Iowa).  Last year, when Michigan lost, they lost. You didn't have to worry about the refs or the calls at game's end because it was long over by then.

So I still believe we're headed in the right direction.  However, 7-5 would now leave a bad taste in my mouth.  I need a) a road win next week against Illinois and b) a victory over either Nebraska or OSU.  Yes, I'd like wins against both, but I don't see that happening.  Which isn't a slam because...

6.  What did you expect?  While it's good to be disappointed after every loss -- expectations in A2 should always make that the case -- did anybody really think U-M was ready to contend for the B1G title this season?   While I always hoped for that, I certainly didn't realistically expect it.  But we are making progress.  Keep the faith, as hard as last Saturday was (and it certainly sucked balls).


wingedhelmet said...

Here it is Monday and I am still in a lousy mood regarding Saturday's flashback to the days before Hoke arrived to remind us "this is Michigan for God's sake." Some people just haven't gotten the word yet. Opposing players for instance used to think no way we win "it is Michigan for God's sake."

ESRRAG*, opposing players and coaches have new found confidence and belief that Michigan is beatable.

A friend and football coach at both the college and professional level called me Saturday evening to offer congratulations on the conversion of a great college QB into a lousy drop back college QB by the Michigan coaching staff. All of his knowledge and experience aside, I believe he is wrong.

While DR has looked lousy at times this year, and yes I notice that he seems tentative, afraid to run even when presented with the hole in front of him, he is still physically able and capable of running the offense effectively. I make four observations regarding DR and the Hoke/Borges system;

1. Hoke kept his word that while committed to more of a pro style offense he would modify it to make use of DR's skills. It would be hard to argue that he hasn't done that, based on the number of designed QB runs and the read options. I believe that DR in an effort to be a team player and coachable resists the instinct to keep the ball and run.

2. DR is still on the field and available for Nebraska and o-Lie-o (the one in Columbus not Crappy Valley) and an 8 or 9 win season. By this time last year he was in and out of the lineup with injuries from the weekly beat down.

3. I remember Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner is no Tate Forcier, at least not yet. For all his issues TF was a player that could come in and lead the O without missing a beat. Perhaps ESRRAG the cupboard has been a little empty.

4. It is tough to see during the action and emotion of the game, but the banged up O-line struggled and when the running game is shut down and you force DR into 2nd and 3rd and long thereby becoming dependent on the pass, the defense clamps down on an average receiving corp, takes advantage of a beat up O Line and its 3 and out.

So at 7-2, the losses being contested games into the 4th quarter and in attempt to avoid the "what if we never get over the RRAG experiment" worries, I am content to believe and acknowledge that this Michigan team is much closer to your father's Buick than it is to the Chevy Volt of the RRAG era.


PS: @Yost - Thanks for not providing any healing pics as I really didn't want to feel better on Sunday.

*Ever Since Rich Rod and Gerg

DrCatie said...

Funny, the message boards are blowing up with Sparty fans saying that they can't wait for Michigan fans to whine and complain. Not one Michigan fan has been on those boards doing that. I think we are much harder on our selves (our team) than anyone else. This is Michigan for God's Sake and we should win every F7&*%ing game. Rarely do we put the blame anywhere else (this time it is warranted to mention the refs, they were most definately home grown in Iowa) But the fact of the matter is that we put ourselves in that position that winning depended on the refs.

Seriously, If someone told you this past summer that with a new coach and a new regime that after 9 games we would be 7-2......would you be upset? Nope. Not after what we have been through in the past 4 years.

Anyway.....That. And.....I am enjoying the fact that we beat Iowa 58-0 when Sparty barely got by them.....hee hee.

VictoryForMSU said...


I think you are referring to Minnesota. The same Minnesota team that beat Iowa last week.

Referees aren't locally grown; B1G refs are B1G refs. They may do a PSU/OSU or Iowa/Neb game. Geography doesn't matter.

Anyway, I do think that last catch was a touchdown and was pretty shocked when they didn't overturn it. I hate seeing games that end up being decided by the referees (including the MSU/Wiskey game despite the outcome).


The healing pics are usually one of the lone brightspots on early Monday mornings. Do you really need to punish the fans for the mistakes of a few?

DrCatie said...

oops, yes indeed, my mistake I did mean Minny, slip up I guess wishing we had beat iowa. Thanks for correcting me.

Dennis said...

Michigan and OSU should expect to win every game and their fans should be upset when the team fails to perform and loses to a team to which they should not lose. Yes, you have games like Michigan at OSU in 2006 where one team is going to have to lose, but more often than not, the reason you, or we lose, is our team doesn't put their best effort in the game.

Is it unreasonable? Perhaps. But this expectation is what makes us great and seperates us from the Iowa's, Michigan State's and even Wisconsin's. For them, a Big Ten championship every 6 or 8 years is nice, as is the occaisional BCS game and an appearence in a BCS championship game is a once in a lifetime thing. Our goals are different. Our goals are BCS title games. Anything shy of that is a dissapointment. The Big Ten title, or at least a share (prior to conference championship game), is expected.

Does that make us arrogant and entitled fans? Pretty much. It caused you guys to try to get a schematic advantage for three years to return to dominance. It caused us to, at best, turn a blind eye to shady boosters and players who should have known better. I don't want the Bucks win dirty, there is no honor or joy in that. Most of the last 10 years were great but the accomplishments are tarnished because of what happened.

I can only imagine how bad the last few years have been for you guys. Yes, it was fun for a while from this side, especially the RR loyalist who just felt one more year would get things going. But, otherwise it got old for me. I've always been in the camp that I like to see you run the table or are at least ready to win the B1G and lose to us. Goodness knows you got to do that enough times in the 90s. The other games are just pereration for the one regular season game that matters.

Maybe I should have saved this post for a few weeks, but I just wanted to say if this was my team, I would be mad at the team, the refs and probably God. You should have beaten Iowa and you are completely right to be completely disgusted. I felt this way after Purdue a couple years back and Wisconsin last year. I felt this way after Nebraska this year. If we and a lot of our fans didn't feel this way, we would just shrug and look to see when Basketball starts. But you, my worthy foe, are better than that.

phil said...

Thank you to all of you who asked if I was OK after the Iowa game. I know I lost it and went on a rant and I can assure you it won't happen again. Thanks for your understanding. But when I think of that touchdown call and the replay.....and......and....NO F*CKING WAY!! THAT IS THE BIGGEST F*CKING B*LLCR*P I HAVE EVER SEEN IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL. THOSE F*CKING REFS &%^*%^!!!@#@$%^%^$%^$%&ae%$@#@#%etyr%&@#^%! AND $%@#&%*^($@%#@$%^q F*CKING CRAP BULLSH*T AND I TELL YOU #$^$^@#@$^&y%^*^* CRAP!!!! SCREWED!!!!!! DAMN REFS %@%@#^&#%^&!!!

VictoryForMSU said...

The best solution is to leave no doubt. Then the refs can't screw it up.

surrounded in columbus said...

well, in one thread we get sage advice from a tsio fan about how to deal w/ losing & unreasonable expectations. now we get advice about how to win from a Sparty.

what's next? advice on the ethics of reporting child abuse from the PSU crowd?

Dennis said...

I was saying your expectations were resonable and that is what makes you and us better than most other teams. Once you start accepting loses you are no better than Purdue.

surrounded in columbus said...

to be clear, the comment i referenced was "Good god! Get it togather you lost deal with it" (tsio's fan spelling, not mine) by another poster in another thread.

on the other hand, i'm sure i didn't like what you wrote either, so feel free to feel chastised anyway.

VictoryForMSU said...

So I didn't see the missed extra point, but I watched some of the LSU-BAMA game and found myself wondering, "Why do some top tier schools struggle with having decent field goal kickers?". UM kickers have obviously had problems in recent years, and Bama definitely has huge issues. A lot of less promiment programs typically have great kickers. Why the difference?

Ramona said...

Oh, SIC, it must truly suck to be a Penn St fan about now. Just unbelieveable..

Mikoyan said...

This is going to sound cynical or something, but I think many of the marginal teams have good kickers because those kickers get real game experience. Whereas on the better teams, they sit on the sidelines and come out for extra points. Rarely are they called on to do the improbable kicks. It is no accident that the Lions in their bad years had the best punter and place kicker in the league.

surrounded in columbus said...

i have had at least a half of dozen tsio fans tell me in the last 24 hours: "hey! at least we're not Penn State!"

so, i guess that makes cars & cash somehow "ok"?

go figure

Ramona said...

Cynical maybe - but accurate!

SIC and everyone: I did some reading on the whole PSU thing last night, at least, as much as I could stomach without getting sick and that whole program needs to be dismantled, everyone fired, kicked out of the conference and rebuilt from the ground up.