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Monday, November 21, 2011

MZone Autopsy: Nebraska

I'm still speechless.  Michigan's victory -- nay, bitch slap -- of Nebraska was a thing of football beauty.  A resounding win over a quality opponent.  No flukes.  No miracles.  No question.

It looked like...Michigan, for god's sake!

So before we turn our attention full-time this week to that school in Ohio, we take one final look back to savor the "W" over "N."

MZone Autopsy Report: NEBRASKA

*  Are you getting tired of praising this defense yet?  Me neither.  Nebraska didn't convert a third down until the third quarter.  Sit back for a moment and try to wrap your head around that.  Last year, U-M had the 110th ranked defense in the country (out of 120, in case you're wondering).  Last year, this defense gave up 35.2 points per game, 107th in the country.  This year, Michigan has the #14 ranked defense in all the land and is giving up 15.6 per game, 6th best in the country!

Want a little more perspective?  In its 13 games last year, Michigan gave up 458 points.  Through 11 this season, they've surrendered 172.  In other words, to equal the punchline that was 2010, Michigan would have to give up 144 points -- in EACH of its remaining two games (OSU and the bowl).

Folks, that's not improvement, it's mind boggling.   Because this wasn't some talent-laden group coming back.  It was, well, the 110th ranked unit in the nation.

No more.

*  Contrary to what you may have heard (a lot) by some, this genie-wish-like turnaround on defense has not come at the expense of the offense.  This year, Michigan's scoring offense is ranked 25th, averaging 33.6 points per game.  And last year?  Michigan had -- pause for effect...keep pausing...wait for it...okay, keep reading -- the 25th ranked offense, averaging -- one more pause -- 32.8 points per game.  Yep.  The current coaching staff that some continually keep claiming are shackling or hurting or not properly utilizing Denard have actually, factually done no such thing. 

Oh, and best of all -- Denard is still able to play at full strength and speed here at the end of the season because he's not getting the living snot kicked out of him each and every game. 

Want more here, too?  Okay.  Last year through 13 games, Michigan scored 426 points (which includes the OT Xbox game vs. Illinois).  This year through 11 they're at 370, meaning they have to average a very possible 28 points in each of their final two games to equal the offensive genius we gave up when Brady Hoke and Al Borges came to town.

Now, cut and paste the above and send it to all your friends who, for some reason, are still bitching about the current coaching staff and what they're "doing to Denard."

*  In 2010, Michigan was dead last in kicking, making just 4 of 14 FGs.  This year, they're 9 for 13 with two games to go.

* The most disappointing thing about the previous three seasons besides just about everything was the utter lack of improvement as the season wore on.  Michigan got worse as the weather got colder.  Again, no more.  The team on the field Saturday is not only now, across the board, a good football team but, best of all, they're getting better.  No, they're not a great team.  And they don't belong in the same breath as the top teams.  But this team would have a fighting chance against all but a handful of teams in the country right now.  Even against them, would you really count this team out?

*  If Michigan wins on Saturday, Brady Hoke will have won just as many B1G games in his first season -- 6 -- as Rich Rod won in his three years at the helm.

*  I think the fans -- myself included -- are having a harder time believing in the quick turnaround than the team as evidenced by my reaction to watching the Nebraska game.  Even when U-M was up 21, I -- and the Wolverine fans I watch with -- were still nervous.  Waiting for the other shoe to fall.  It's like fan PTSD after The Dark Years.  Although...

*  That roughing the kicker call against NU was weak.  Very weak.  We were up 14 at the time, had been stopped on our previous two drives, and big mo' was wearing Big Red.  But after the penalty, Michigan drove down and scored to go up 21.  Game over.  Still, it was a horrible call.  I guess somebody felt they owed us for Iowa.  Speaking of which...

*  Denard's roll out TD down near Nebraska's 2 yard line is a play I'd like to have seen on that 4th down against Iowa.  &%$#ing IOWA!

* Loved the fake FG call but would not have been in favor if we'd lined up to simply "go for it" on 4th down, if that makes sense.  When we lined up to kick, I thought it was a smart call.  When we faked, I thought it was genius.



(HT: SG, although he was unsure original creator)


Cross-checked said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Death2Brutus said...

I'm still in shock with what Hoke and company have done in their first year together at Michigan. Beyond the considerable improvement in nearly ever aspect of the game, it's also the way he has done it, without sacrificing character instead instilling responsibility and individual accountability. Thus insuring, not only that they are a better team but more importantly, better men.

Dennis said...

I've been impressed as well. I wondered when you guys lost to Sparty if you might revert to the form of the last few years. Iowa seemed to suggest that was the way it was going to go, but your guys did a nice job the last few weeks. The Nebraska game and our game against Penn State has me thinking not only will you guys finally end your drought, but you might do it by double digits.

Our defense can't put a whole game together. They have moments where they look like an OSU defense and then they have moments where they look like GERG is coaching them. Makes me wonder about the coaching ability of Vrabel, since it seems like the LBs are taking some terrible angles.

Our offense would kill Brian Cook were he a fan.

BTW, Yost, did you see the story about MSU, Michigan and Victoria Secret? This really seems like the kind of story you would be all over.

Baltimorean said...

A lot of the (well deserved) praise of Mattison seems to have come at the cost of criticizing the inherent talent of our players from last year. It appears that the assumption is not only that Greg Mattison is an incredible coordinator, but that he has been able to turn a bunch of scrubs into good players. In fact, I have even seen it mentioned more than once that this was not a talented group of players to begin with.

I have an alternate theory. Isn't it possible that this group was talented all along, that their baseline was talented but they were undone by horrible coaching and now are seeing their full potential with Mattison? All of these players were legitimate recruits, and I hesitate to think that by and large they weren't very good players to begin with until, well... (Gibson -1000, for one).

The point is, I personally think that the players on this defense were always legitimate Michigan players, but they were done in by awful coaching. Mattison has not created a top-20 defense out of MAC talent or even Iowa two-star magic, he has done it with truly good players who just needed the right direction.

Canzior said...

I don't think it was a bad call...perhaps a bad rule..but as I understand it, you cannot make any contact with the plant leg while the kicking leg is in the air. He's considered "defenseless" so it was the right call, and a great job by Hagerup with his acting. It certainly helped loosen the knot that was in my stomach at the time.

GoBlueBob said...

Balt... I agree with you 100%. Mattison has been able to take the raw talent and develop it into what we are seeing now.

Yost.. great job on the analysis of the defensive and offensive statistics between last year and this year.

What I liked about this game was the improvement on special teams. Still not as good as they can be but much improved on kickoff coverage. Still also concerned about missed field goals but it is nice that this is not even being mentioned since there were so many touchdowns this game.

On another note... we met some great Nebraska fans and they all mentioned how great it was to be in the Big Ten and out from under the influence of Texas. Got some phone numbers so we can meet up and tailgate with them next year in Lincoln.

SIC.. sounds like you were at the game Saturday. If I had known you were coming I would have invited you to our tailgate. Over the last couple years we have had Hammm, 616, Andy, T9 and Mikoyan stop by. I think Hammm is trying to score some tix on stub hub for next week.

GoBlueBob said...

SIC... forgot to mention how much I agreed with your comment on the halftime show. This was probably the worst half time show I have seen in 36 years and I watch them all. They announced a sponsor for the show and if I was that fan I would ask for my money back. I know I am being tough on them but as anyone who has read my comments knows, I love the band and cannot understand why they did this kind of show. I know I am an old fart and maybe do not understand what they were trying to do but even the student section was not getting into this show.

Dennis said...

As GoBobBlue said, you missed the halftime "show" in your Autopsy. You finally seem to have got your football team on the right track and your marching band did this?

IMHO, it needed more of the last 30 seconds and less of the first 480.

surrounded in columbus said...

i understand the attempt to have a "theme", and i get them wanting it to be "current". my teens all watch Tosh.O (OK, so do i) & love the Youtube segements.

it's just that it didn't translate very well into a band/music show. the videos followed by a brief song & then back to video? very disjointed and hard to follow. it would have been better just to have 7 minutes of video w/ out the MMB.

hopefully, we'll have more basics this coming week.

Yost said...

Agree and wasn't implying scrubs, Balt. Just meant that these weren't a bunch of 5-star recruits in which talent could overcome, uh, The Dark Years.

Andy said...

Wow. What a game. What a coaching job these guys have done. Amazing.

I agree with @Canizor. It looked weak, but the call was the right one, because of a very clear rule. Any punter with his kick leg up is very vulnerable to serious injury on his plant leg.

Any Nebraska fan that points to that call did not see the whole game.

Yost said...

PS to my above comment:

Dienhart just did his run down of B1G trophy candidates...


...and outside of Coach of the Year, there's not a Michigan guy on there. Point being, this is not a star-laden team. It's good, solid players being coached to their full potential. It's *weeping* a team.

Dennis said...

And yes, I may be to the desperation point of ignoring football and going with at least my band is better than your band. And, thanks to that show, I have a leg to stand on with that argument. :)

I will say the most current song in our performance this weekend was from 1983, so credit goes to you guys for trying something from this millenium. Of course the second half of the show was the first time we've done script Ohio twice in one game. It was done in pregame as well. It was a tribute to long time Marching Band Director Jon Woods who retired after 38 years (10 of those as Assistant Director.) He got to dot the i.

GoBlueBob said...

SIC... once again I totally agree with you on the band trying a current themed show but as I mentioned, the students were not even singing along or getting into it (probably due to the video / band / video stuff as you said). There have been themes in the past that I did not totally understand but the students were cheering and participating (dancing and signing) so I wrote those of as being the old fart again. This week was not like that. Hopefully we will have a great show next week. I heard the tosu band is going to deviate a little at halftime and spell out olieo and have Tressle dot the I. Might be tough for them to do though since it is a five letter word.

The game being after Thanksgiving this year is also messing up the tosu band schedule as they will have less time now to work the kettles at Wal Mart collecting for the Salvation Army. Note previous post "Best Damn Copycats in the Land" dated 11/18/05 under the tosu favorites tab to the left.

Dennis said...

Yeah, five letters might be a challenge. The only other word I know they can march is Shit. Did it during a practice in the 80s as a prank. Had a secret practice to work it out. The S was a bit harder than the O to march through.

It might actually be possible. The e might take a few more people though than the the hump of the h. That was the trick with S and the t. The had a little tail as I recall to make up the difference because it took fewer people.

atypical said...

Yost, if Ohio scores 144 this Saturday, it's on you.

GoBlueBob said...

atypical.... I was going to say that if the defense plays as well as they did this week tosu might not get 144 yards but I do not want that to be on me so I am not going to saying it.

GoBlueBob said...

Dennis.. Are coming to the game on Saturday?

kristy said...

I noticed in last weeks' Sports Illustrated that they picked N to win definitely and said our D was good the week before but that it was basically a fluke...Stick that in your pipe and smoke it SI!!!!! Great job Wolverines!! Looking forward to a great week of taunting the tOSU fans around me because, umm, they are going DOWN!!!

Dennis said...


No. Thanksgiving Day Weekend makes things difficult. I appreciate the teams don't get as rusty, but I really don't like them playing over this weekend.

I will be in A2 for St. Patrick's Day/March Madness, since the older son will be competing at the Whitfield Classic on the campus of the University of Michigan.

Bigasshammm said...

Won't be coming to the game. Tickets are just too expensive.

I tried to talk the wife into coming to MI and tailgating and then finding a bar or just someone with a TV setup outside but no dice.
Maybe in 2 years.

Hoke has to be on the shortlist for National Coach of The Year. He's got the Big Ten CoY locked up for sure. I'd almost go so far as to say Mattison would be a contender with Hoke for Big Coy but Idk if they give it to non head coaches.

Should be a nice change next Saturday I hope if given the opportunity they never take their foot off the accelerator.

Mikoyan said...

When you mentioned that Hammm may come up, I thought I would look for a ticket. Ouch. As much as I would like to see a Michigan-OSU game, there is no way I can justify $120.

Andy, can you do me a favor and look at my EMU pictures on my blog and give me some pointers? please?