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Thursday, January 05, 2012

MZone Autopsy looks at the flip side of all things Sugar

Another downside of bowl games stretched out across January is that some of us have to jump back into the post-holiday work world and thus can't blog about the games as quickly as hoped.  So, after a slight delay, let's take one more look back at Michigan's Sugar Bowl victory in...

MZone Autopsy: Virginia Tech

*  Yes, it was an ugly game.  And yes, we got a little lucky.  But after several instances of Michigan getting the short end of the bowl karma stick, the Wolverines were due for the bowl gods to finally smile their way.  Phantom Touchdown, anyone?

Charles White's "TD" in the '79 Rose Bowl: Football Optional

* Along those same lines, in short time, nobody will remember how Michigan won only that we won. 

*  Okay, I admit it: I actually felt a little bad for the VT kicker when he missed that last FG in OT.  It was such an amazing story -- 3rd string kicker who'd never before made a FG in a game calmly making kick after kick -- that I hated to see it end that way for the kid.  On the flip side...

* How 'bout Michigan's kicking game?  From the depths of last season when any FG had about as much chance as a fan-pulled-from-the-stands halfcourt shot during a basketball halftime contest...to Brendan "Brunette Girls" Gibbons becoming absolutely money.  On the flip side...

*  Yeah, I know: Keith Stone Gibbons probably shoulda been called for a false start on that final FG for, you know, false starting. 

Keith Stone...or Brendan Gibbons?  You make the call

*I'm not usually one to bitch about play calling but when your All-American center can barely stand on one of his legs, it's probably not best to keep putting your wildly mobile QB under center.  Doesn't it make more sense to run out of the shotgun even more so Denard has a least a little more time in case your hobbled center gets beat?  Just sayin'.

*  Bitch, Part II:  Uh, for the record, that Fitz Toussaint running play on first down didn't work.  Like, ever.  So we might have wanted to get away from it at some point.

*  Is it just me, or throughout the years, does Michigan seem to be the team with the biggest disparity between how they played during the regular season and how they look in a bowl game?  My goodness.  Along those same lines...

*  Our defense gave up so many uncharacteristic 3rd and longs that I almost expected to see members of our defensive coaching staff rubbing stuffed animals on our players.

*  Frank Beamer deserves props for sending home his 2nd string kicker due to a curfew violation.  He'd already left his 1st string kicker back in Blackburg due to B&E charges.  So when his 2nd string kicker came back to the hotel late, how easy would it have been to have him run extra laps in the spring?  Or make him not run out of the tunnel with the team?  Or not let him kick the opening kick-off?  You know, BS "punishment" that Tressel or Dantonio would've doled out (yeah, I know -- Tressel and Dantonio would've had the B&E kicker there saying we "have to let the legal process play its way out" before dealing with it).  Instead, Beamer put the 2nd stringer on a bus -- A BUS -- home and went with a kid who'd never made a FG before.  I was impressed.  On the flip side...

*  Frank Beamer's 4th down "fake" in the 4th quarter was one of the more boneheaded call I've seen in a loooong time.  When everybody I was watching the game with is yelling, "Watch the fake!" as VT lined up to punt -- coming out of a time out -- you know you're not fooling anyone.  Don't understand it, but I'm thankful for it.

*  As for VT's OT TD/Non-TD, put it this way, if that had been Michigan, I'd still be pissed but it probably was the right call.  I think.  However, the question really isn't about whether I think he made/didn't make the catch.  To me, the question is whether or not there was indisputable video evidence to overturn the call that had already been made.  By that measure, I'm not so sure.  I had to watch the damn play several times to conclude that I think the ground aided the catch.  Point is, if the rule states that the replay must show indisputable evidence to overturn the call on the field, then I'm not sure this instance rose to that.

In the same way, I think Michigan got boned in the Iowa game re: the Hemingway TD catch/non-catch at the back of the endzone.  I thought he caught it, but once the initial call on the field was "no catch," it was going to be hard to overturn that based on the rule calling for indisputable evidence.

Don't fuck with Holly Rowe.  And no, that wasn't Angelique Chengelis from the Detroit News on the receiving end as some initially thought.

* The feeling after winning the game was one of the strangest I've ever felt after winning a big game.  After the Ohio State game, it was pure ecstasy.  After the Sugar, it was subdued relief.  On the flip side...

*   The pure joy I did feel was for Brady Hoke and those players.  Brady did something nobody expected this year.  11-2 and a BCS bowl victory?  Are you kidding me?  Yeah, I saw that coming.  And Junior Hemingway's emotion after the game was so pure.  He perfectly summed up everything those kids -- especially the seniors -- went through during their U-M careers.  Nice job to ESPN for cutting away from most of such a moving speech to play it underneath game clips.  You know, because why would we actually want to see it?

*  The oft-repeated stat that this is only the 5th U-M team with 11 wins is a tad misleading in that we now play 12 regular season games.  Put it this way, how many times do you think all those Schembechler teams that went 10-2 in the 70s and 80s would have notched an 11th win, especially if that 12th game was a home contest against WMU/EMU/PICK A CARCASS.

*  When's the last time you've felt this much optimism going into an off-season?  Damn, it feels good!  On the flip side...

* Not to rain on the optimism parade, but Michigan has to have one of the most brutal schedules in the country next year: Open with 'Bama in Dallas; ND, Nebraska and Ohio all on the road; then throw in likely top 10 team MSU at home.  It's gonna be tough but something tells me Brady will have the team up to the challenge.

Go Blue!  And congrats again to team 132 for a hell of a season!


Andrew said...

Great year... I am still getting fired up about it.
I have to admit when Hemingway was getting emotional..i started to...that right there.... is what college football is all about...laying it down for your team, school, coaches..awesome.

Ramona said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this autopsy report, I kind of wondered if there would be one, since Yost, if he is anything like the rest of us, has a boss. (At my job I can't even LOOK at M Zone during the work day or night).
So, thanks, Yost. And in regards to next year, I kind of like it that we have a brutal schedule. The players (and coaches) will learn more, which benefits the program more. Plus, if we win, we have strength of schedule to help in the BCS world. Finally, was the "stutter step" really a false start? NAH.... EVEN IF SO, IT'S KARMA FOR ALL THE GAME-BUSTING BAD CALLS WE HAVE ENDURED!!!!! GO BLUE!

James said...

Great post. My only quibble is that I doubt MSU will be a top 10 team next year with a totally new passing game (QB, top 3 WRs and TE all are leaving).

Mikoyan said...

I didn't watch the whole game but what I did watch was pretty awesome.