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Monday, November 05, 2012

MZone Autopsy: Minnesota 2012

Haven't done one of these in awhile but had some free time over the weekend to partake in a little AP blogging.  So, before we turn our attention to Northwestern, let's take one last look back at Minnesota.

Repeat After Me: There is NO QB CONTROVERSY

After Devin Gardner's amazing game (minus the 1st quarter), I joked on Twitter that the easiest way to identify a so-called "Walmart Wolverine" on sports talk radio this week will be the guy calling in asking if there's a QB controversy now in A2.

There is not.

Devin was outstanding (minus the 1st quarter).  He was outstanding by any measure, but more so since he hadn't gotten any meaningful game reps at quarter back since... Illinois 2011?  But as soon as he's 100% again, Denard is Michigan's QB this season.  Period.

However, Michigan fans can rejoice in the fact that the Maize and Blue have a more-than-capable back-up should the need arise, and the race for the starting job in 2013 is over just got real interesting.  From a potential weakness post-Denard it could be a strengh.  Go figure.

Most of all, I'm just happy for Gardner.  He was a top-rated QB coming out of high school and came to Michigan to play QB.  He didn't want to move to wide receiver, but he did it because it's what the team needed.  So to see him get his chance and seize it has to make Wolverine fans everywhere happy for him personally.

Back to the Future

Yes, I know he got a ton of reps in practice to prepare to start Saturday, but still...

Anybody else wish we could get in Doc Brown's Delorean and go back to the Nebraska game, Michigan down 7-3 when Denard got hurt with the Wolverines having the ball 1st and goal at the Nebraska 7 yard line?

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.


In the Captain Obvious Comment department, the defense was again outstanding.  While much of the focus has understandably been on Devin's great performance (minus the 1st quarter), it's easy to forget that on Minnesota's first couple of drives, the Gophers' starting field position was right around the 50.  Everything was going wrong and, had the D not held strong early, Michigan could have easily found itself in a much deeper - can't resit - "Gopher hole" than 7-0 before the offense came to life.

Michigan is now 7th nationally in total defense and 1st - yes, 1st! - in pass defense.

Michigan is...I Dunno

Nine weeks into the 2012 season, as crazy as this sounds, I'm still a bit mystified as to how good this team really is.  Michigan's three losses are to teams with a combined 25-2 record, including two of the top four teams in the BCS standings (with Nebraska 16th).  And yet, in two of those losses, Michigan had a fantastic chance to win.  If Denard doesn't have, arguably, his worst game ever against ND and if Denard doesn't get hurt and/or Devin replaces him when he does vs Nebraska, Michigan could realistically be 8-1 and ranked solidly in the top 10.  Then again...

Of U-M's six wins, the only teams they've beaten with a winning record are 5-4 Air Force and 5-4 Minnesota.  While to be elite Michigan must beat elite teams, on the good news front, Michigan is once again beating the teams it's supposed to be.  

There's a Reason He's the Coach at Minnesota

You know how married people can start to look like each other?  Well, it just might be true for coaches and their team mascots.  Because my friends and I noticed a striking resemblance as we watched the Michigan-Minnesota game over the weekend.  You make the call:

Michigan-Minnesota Twitter Recap

First it was just one tweet.  Then two.  Three.  Each from trusted sources.  Then it began to spread like wildfire: Denard was out, Gardner was starting at QB.
I called my friend to tell him.

"How do you know that?" asked my Luddite buddy, who was probably about to listen to the game on his bitchi' dual 8-track-slash-cassette Hi Fi Kenwood stereo.

"The same way everybody learns breaking news these days - Twitter."

From the informative to the funny, having Twitter by your side during a Michigan game makes it feel like you're watching it at bar packed with Wolverine fans - even if you're alone on your coach.  Plus, how else are you going to catch the bitching and whining from MSU players after they gack away another game?

Here are some of our favorite tweets from the weekend's Michigan/Minnesota game (with a little MSU and ND game stuff as well).  Some funny, some informative.  Some ours, some others.

From folks we follow:


After Gardner's first Xbox-worthy TD throw to Dileo:
Just like Al drew it up. 

First half offense = despair + Gardner running around w Benny Hill soundtrack, but in a good way. 
Anyone who sits on an aisle in Michigan Stadium should stage a hunger strike if anyone threatens to introduce beer.

Brad @MaizeBlueNation

First Minn offensive TD against Michigan in 6 years. 

After the MSU loss:
Those are Michigan fans booing from Ann Arbor. Not Sparty fans at the game.


It took a while, but they’ve gone full gopher. 

When it looked like ND would lose after an endzone INT with 3:59 left and down 8 points:
Damn you, NBC, and your complete lack of sad fan crowd shots.


After Devin Gardner's first Xbox-worthy TD pass to Drew Delio:
That's basically a look at every play back in the neighborhood when the older kid is playing QB 
borrowed Gallon's cloaking device MT : ...can someone..explain how Minnesota utterly lost Dileo?  
Mike Hart's "Little Brother" comment turns five today! It's old enough to go to Kindergarten! 
Guys, I love Denard, but don't let him carry the Jug if he's having trouble gripping things, OK?
In this week's spirit of bipartisan outpourings with one's own enlightened self-interest at heart: Good luck to our Spartan friends today.

And, today is a VERY special day - as it is Coach Hoke's BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday, Coach! Best wishes for a great year ahead! #GoBlue

@The BBC

From our Buckeye friends after Michigan started out a little, uh, slow in the first quarter:
Well, Michigan loses Denard for the game, but doesn't miss a beat on offense.

After MSU lost and the controversial PI call at the end:
The Refs have won the Legends Division!


And in case you missed our 140 character nuggets yesterday, here are a few faves from yours truly here at The MZone:
Al Borges following UM's first TD in 148 minutes: "NOBODY shuts down an Al Borges offense for 149 minutes!"

Okay, who cut Denard's dreads and had him wear #12 today? How Lane Kiffin of Hoke

How to tell if you're listening to a Walmart Wolverine on sports talk radio next wk: "You think there's a quarterback controversy for U-M?"

Well played #WalmartWolverine RT "I just think Devin's the better choice. Play Denard at RB since Fitz can't get anything going."

And as we settled in to watch the MSU/Nebraska game:

Haven't tweeted since Michigan game. My body's been convulsing too much at realization I have to root for MSU.

And during the painful final "Sparty, NO!" moments (whilst flipping between ND/Pitt):

I'm getting a full dose right now of why it sucks to be an MSU fan

I think I'm gonna vomit. Okay, now to turn on ND game and watch Irish pull 4 leaf clover out of its ass, too 

Pitt, Pitt, Pitt. You could be the MSU of the Big East.

Such a little brother move, Sparty: Had the party all planned and you screwed it up. Mom was right: you were adopted. 

Top chant right now in parking lot outside Spartan Stadium: "At least we didn't help Michigan! YEAH!"

Man, I would hate to be Mark Dantonio's face right now

After rooting for Sparty and having that happen, hell, **I** feel like burning a couch #NowIUnderstand

Remember INT returned for a TD that woulda put MSU up 17 in the 4th & iced it...but was called back for personal foul? That IS Sparty

Also #1 in fan lament: "Damn, if only Devin played vs Neb!" RT UM now #7 nationally in total defense, &, wow, #1 in pass defense
Finally, a few from our MZone readers:

Delusional Fan
Can Gardner just throw to himself? #Denarded 

Riley Martin
Hoke wearing a headset???? Shits getting serious! 
Mayans... “: Two TDs? In one quarter?! Hold on, looking outside for locusts...” 


Dennis said...

Congrats on the win. Hopefully it won't come down to the backups but it appears we are on more even footing than after last week.

I'll go with the dangerous assumption your coaches knew what they were doing last week against Nebraska. Amazing the difference a week of practice makes.

We had some of the same stupid comments from our fans when Miller got hurt and Guiton came in to lead us past Purdue. They were saying he should start against Penn State. Great kid, good backup, was under utilized by the previous staff (not sure where the blame goes, may not have had his act together from what I heard) but unless Miller is hurt, no way he should start.

surrounded in columbus said...

i like the twitter "recap" sometimes it's hard to follow them in order during the game.

and yeah, as "good" a Gardner looked, he didn't look THAT good so as to create a controversy.

Mikoyan said...

I'll go on record as saying I like Denard. I hope that he gets well and comes back because honestly, he's Michigan's best chance. Next year will be interesting though.

Yost said...

And just think if NCAA allows Devin to have redshirt from his freshman year -- he'd have next year and one more.

Crock said...

We were travling from Detroit to Phoenix on Saturday (after our failed world Series trip)..can you believe we couldn't find anywhere at DTW with the Big Ten Network?
I agree with following on twitter during a game...I love the added dimension - feels like watching with other fans

Dave said...


If RR didn't stupidly burn his redshirt then yes Devin would have two more years.

I am ready to throw the towel in on Denard. He can't hit the broad side of a barn and he gets hurt all the time and his runs are less spectacular every year (because other teams know he can't throw and stack up against the run). Are you telling me that there are any games this year that he "won" for us? We have won against garbage teams and lost to good teams. I think Denard is a great kid but there is a reason that no other team gave him an offer to play QB.

Let Devin play the rest of the year practicing for next year so we can red shirt Morris. Make Denard a slot receiver/running back. Devin can spread the field which will open up routes for Denard.

Ramona said...

Coming to this discussion a little late, but still wanted to say, enjoyed the PM by Yost and the comments following.

Devin and Denard could really be an interesting combined threat.