Looking Back at Week 4: Indiana

To say that Michigan looked bad in this game can be a bit of an overstatement. We did score 36 points. But we also made just about as many mistakes as you can make, and still somehow win the game. This can be attributed to the defense's ability to hold Indiana to 5 field goals in their 6 trips into the red zone. For all of the missed tackles and poor pass coverage, we still got the job done when it counted.

What I Liked:
The running game is easily the strongest feature we have on offense. Carlos Brown, who as it turned out had a minor injury midway through the first half, thus why he did not see the ball until later in the 4th quarter, played typically well. Brandon Minor had flashes of what makes him so dangerous, but you could tell he was slightly hindered by his nagging ankle injury. His burst on his TD run though was impressive.

The O-line showed some good and some bad. They blocked well against a very good Indiana front 7. The tackles had their hands full with IU very talented defensive ends. IU was able to put some pressure on Tate and Denard at times. But on zone running plays, the line did much better. Moosman needs much more work with his snaps. At times I thought it might have been the QBs not handling the ball well enough, but this is a problem that is unique to this game, and not the previous three...so the blame ,I think, falls on the make-shift center.

As far as the QB play is concerned, that can go hand in hand with the O-line play. At times, it was good. Other times, it was terrible. Both QB's look lost and frustrated at points in the game. Tate was not used to getting pressured like he did. His INT and intentional grounding call were simply just products of inexperience.

But we cannot ignore the fact that Forcier is a bad-ass when it comes to being in complete control of this offense. With a less than 5 minutes to go in the game and trailing...who doesn't think this kid is not totally comfortable...even with a bum shoulder. I don't know what this kid is made of, but clearly, he's the perfect fit for this offense.

I would like to see the ball spread around a little bit more to our receivers in space. Junior Hemingway showed us that he can handle more than 1 catch per game. Guys like Greg Matthews and LaTerryal Savoy and Darryl Stonum are play-makers.

On defense, we definitely bent, but rarely did we break. Indiana camped out in our red zone...but we were able to hold them to field goals much of the time. Unfortunately, that's about as much as I can say about the defense that was good.


What I Didn't Like:
On that note, the defense was pretty abysmal all day long. Not only did we not really know how to stop IU's passing/running game, but we had enough trouble just getting the plays in on time and getting the front 7 to get set before the snap. I swear it looked like Michigan was lost out there. I know guys like Brandon Graham and Obi Ezeh are supposed to be the leaders of this defense, but it sure doesn't feel like it. I get zero emotion from watching the Michigan D.

The secondary had fits all day. Cissoko was indeed pulled in the first half. For an IU receiver to just run straight up the field and not even make a move, and Cissoko is still confused and unable to cover him shows just how not capable he really is. And that's not a good thing for this very young and inexperienced secondary.

With youth comes mistakes. I really like our QBs, but its tough to remember sometimes that they're only 19 year old kids. Tate showed both what makes him great, and what makes him a liability this weekend. Clearly, he needs to work on his timing in the pocket. He needs to know at what point he should either take off running, or simply throw the ball out of bounds. And, if worse comes to worse, just take the sack and live to play another down. That's characteristic of a younf QB who is trying to do too much at once. He'll get better.

The snapping problem that we saw can be attributed to a couple key factors. First of all, it was wet out. The ball was slippery. Secondly, the snaps that never got more than 4 inches off the ground were snaps that Moosman tried to catch a defensive player in the neutral zone. As a former center, this is something that is both very advantageous if you can do it right, and also very risky. You're snapping the ball early, so neither the QB nor the rest of the offense is going to be ready for the play to begin. Moosman got it right once, but the second time not so much...although I thought it was pretty close.


Overall:
Hey, a win is a win. We can sit here all day and agonize over mistakes, or we can look back and hopefully learn from them and not make the same mistakes again. I think this game was a bit of a surprise for Michigan. Indiana played extremely well. And considering all the mistakes Michigan made, I can't believe we still won. But for the first time since 2006, we're 4-0!

For MSU, I expect to see Moosman back at center. I also expect Mike Williams back at safety.

This whole Tate Forcier injury has me really confused though. On Saturday, at the end of the game is looked like he was in agonizing pain on the sideline. But then he comes back in and throws, a seemingly effortless pass to Martavious Odoms for the game winner. After the game he was walking with his arm at his side. He was high-fiving and shaking hands with his left, non-throwing hand. Reports all day Sunday were saying that he would be out of practice all week and that he didn't look good for the Sparty game...

And then at the Monday presser, Rodriguez comes out and says that he'll be practicing this week and that he'll be fine for Saturday. Huh?! Really? Something seems strange here. My prediction is that Forcier is not as hurt as he showed on Saturday...and this is all an effort to play games with little brother.

Is This a Bad Sign?



4 days until we play little brother and the state is covered in green. Mother nature trying to send a message?

All In For Rich Rod



Some very dedicated Michigan fans/alums have put forward their time and money to create a full-page ad that is running on page 3 of today's Detroit News sports section. PDF link here. This group is trying to start an effort to create further support for Rich Rodriguez and his staff. In case you haven't noticed, things haven't been all unicorns and rainbows for Rodriguez since coming to Michigan in 2008. The focus here is to show the Michigan coaching staff that there are plenty of people out there that support the program and the direction it is headed.

From their website:
In an attempt to communicate to Coach Rodriguez and his coaching staff that the Wolverine Nation is excited to have them in Ann Arbor, a collection of loyal University of Michigan football fans joined together to raise money to put a “Show of Support” message in an upcoming issue of the Detroit News. To date we have collected enough to pay for a full-page color ad and we are exploring the cost of additional newspaper ads as well as billboards in and around Ann Arbor.
I hope that my post here shows that I also fully support this effort. And no, I have not seen any of these "private donations" that were used to create the ad. A co-worker of mine made me aware of this group and the ad that ran today.

Timing?

Well, I don't want to divulge anything that I'm not completely sure about, but don't be surprised to see something controversial posted within the next few days about Rodriguez on the pages of one local Detroit newspaper. Again, I don't have anything definitive, but I have a feeling the placement of this ad in today's Detroit News is being provoked by something about to come.

Forcier Status

According to Rich Rodriguez at today's Monday presser, Tate Forcier suffered a bruised shoulder in Saturday's win against Indiana. But he will be in action against Sparty this weekend.

This could be a smoke screen to try and downplay the fact that he's maybe a little more hurt than we all think he is. There were rumors and speculation that he was very questionable, even maybe a no-go for MSU, but for now, the word is he'll play.

Update:
Just in case you're wondering if there has been any Forcier for Heisman hype...look no further.

Michigan's Rankings: Week 4

Week 4:

Poll
Current Week
Previous Week
AP Poll
22
23
Coaches Poll
20
22
BCS Poll
N/A
N/A
Harris Poll
N/A
N/A
ESPN.com Power Poll
20
19
ESPNU Fan Poll
20
19
CBSSports.com Top 120
19
20
CBSSports.com Blog Poll
?*
19

*CBS Blog Poll has not been updated yet.

The Cardiac Kids


Photo: Angela Cesere, AnnArbor.com

It's pretty clear now that at some point this season, this football squad is going to give this Michigan blogger a heart attack.

Just some quick thoughts about today's game...

• Tate Forcier was born to have the ball in his hands when Michigan is down with under 3 minutes on the clock. Where did this kid come from? Is he really just 19 years old?! We get him for 3 more years after this?!

• The interception by Donovan Warren was pretty close and could have gone either way. To me, on the replay, it seemed like Warren had the ball tucked in his hands while the Indiana receiver was trying to wrestle it away. A very close call that just didn't have enough video evidence to overturn the call on the field.

• Michigan defense is either worse than we thought, or Indiana's offense is suddenly a juggernaut.

• We must stop the mistakes. Too many missed tackles. Too many turnovers. Too many penalties. These kinds of things will happen to a young squad. We need to get better at keeping them from happening.

• Forcier was really favoring his right arm late in the game. But he also threw the TD to Martavious Odoms, and was also in the game in the victory formation at the end...so we'll see if we hear anything about any injury on Monday.

But hey, for all the mistakes we made and for all the blown calls by the refs, we still won the game, and there's something to be said for that. Forcier is amazing. They can praise Pryor and Tebow all they want. We have Tate and Denard...and that's exactly how I like it!

4-0!

Go Blue!

Week 4 Injury Report

University of Michigan Football Injury Report
For the Indiana Game (Sept. 26)

Out
David Molk (foot)

Doubtful (25% chance of playing)
Mike Williams (ankle)

Probable (75% chance of playing)
Tim McAvoy (knee)
David Moosman (shoulder)

Big Ten Bloggers Weekly Pick'em: Week 4

So things have been going pretty good for the boys in blue so far this year...and the same can be said for us here at MBN, at least so far in the Big Ten Bloggers weekly pick'em league. We're tied for 1st with fellow Michigan blog Michigan Sports Center and Buck Bravo from The Daily Gopher. We've done well picking how the Big Ten would do against out-of-conference foes (it wasn't that hard). Now's 'bout the time we completely de-rail into the regular season where we guess just about half of every Big Ten game wrong.

Props to BTB Gopher Nation over at The Daily Gopher for putting this all together for another year. Hey, wait a sec...they're in first place!?! Shenanigans!

Week 4 Games (MBN picks in bold):

Illinois @ tOSU
We like tOSU in this one strictly because I think their defense will be able to contain Juice Williams. Illinois has had success at the toilet bowl over the years, but I just don't have the confidence to pick them in this one.

• Minnesota @ Northwestern
NU get the nod in this game. Minnesota comes off a huge emotional loss against Cal. NU came close to beating Syracuse...I don't know how that plays into this game, but NU is at home so they get the pick. Scientific, eh?

• Michigan State @ Wisconsin
Before the season started, I predicted that little brah would go 1-3 in September...so they must lose this game.

• Indiana @ Michigan
Duh.

• Iowa @ Penn State
Revenge alert! Probably the game of the week in the Big Ten. This will be a good game. But I'm leaning towards Penn State right now. Happy Valley at night in front of a national audience...I have to go with JoPa.

• Notre Dame @ Purdue
I don't want to do it, but Purdue's defense is so bad, I must.


Standings as of Week 3 are below. Non-conference games are worth 1 point. Conference games are worth 3. Bowl games are worth 5.

Standings
Pts
1
Buck Bravo
27
1
Maize and Blue Nation
27
1
Michigan Sports Center
27
4
Sparty MSU
26
4
Happy Hour Valley
26
4
Maize N Brew
26
4
Gopher Nation
26
4
Lake the Posts
26
9
Gopher Football Blog
25
9
Nittany White Out
25
9
The Buckeye Blog
25
9
Bucky's 5th Qtr
25
9
Crimson Quary
25
14
Hail to the Orange
24
14
Zombie Nation
24
16
Boiled Sports
23
16
Hammer and Rails
23
16
Black Shoes Diaries (RUTS)
23
16
OSU Silver Bullet
23
20
Eleven Warriors
22
20
Buckeye Battle Cry
22
22
The Nittany Line
20
23
The Only Colors
17

Hitler Finds Out That USC Beat Ohio State

What is Pass Interference?

Offensive pass interference according to the NCAA 2009-10 Rule Book:
Illegal Contact and Pass Interference
ARTICLE 8.
b. Offensive pass interference by a Team A player beyond the neutral zone during a legal forward pass play in which a forward pass crosses the neutral zone is contact that interferes with a Team B eligible player. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents. It is not offensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-VI, VII, XIII, XVIII and XIX):
1. When, after the snap, a Team A ineligible player immediately charges and contacts an opponent at a point not more than one yard beyond the neutral zone and does not continue the contact more than three yards beyond the neutral zone.
2.    When two or more eligible players are making a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch or bat the pass. Eligible players of either team have equal rights to the ball (A.R. 7-3-8-XII).
3.    When the pass is in flight and two or more eligible players are in the area where they might receive or intercept the pass and an offensive player in that area impedes an opponent, and the pass is not catchable.
Defensive pass interference according to the NCAA 2009-10 Rule Book:
Illegal Contact and Pass Interference
ARTICLE 8.
c. Defensive pass interference is contact beyond the neutral zone by a Team B player whose intent to impede an eligible opponent is obvious and it could prevent the opponent the opportunity of receiving a catchable forward pass. When in question, a legal forward pass is catchable. Defensive pass interference occurs only after a legal forward pass is thrown. It is not defensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-I, IV, V, IX-XI, XIV and XV):
1.    When, after the snap, opposing players immediately charge and establish contact with opponents at a point that is within one yard beyond the neutral zone.
2.    When two or more eligible players are making a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch or bat the pass. Eligible players of either team have equal rights to the ball (A.R. 7-3-8-XII).
3.    When a Team B player legally contacts an opponent before the pass is thrown (A.R. 7-3-8-XIII).
4. When a Team A potential kicker, from scrimmage kick formation, simulates a scrimmage kick by throwing the ball high and deep, and contact by a Team B player occurs.
Okay, this stems from the play that occurred just last week with 7:53 to go in the first quarter. EMU had the ball first and 10 from the Michigan 44 yard line. Schmitt passed down field to #8 Johnny Sears (who was booted from Michigan's 2007 squad). Sears was being covered, quite well I might add, by #33 Boubacar Cissoko.

As the pass left the hand of Schmitt, both the Sears and Cissoko were jockeying for position. It was clear that Cissoko had the inside advantage on Sears as the ball was under thrown. As the pass neared the two players, Cissoko leaned in to try and intercept the pass. As he did so, Sears jumped on the back of Cissoko and thwarted any attempt at the INT.

For demonstration purposes, I've taken my digital camera and shot the recorded game from my DVR. It's very guerrilla technology, I know. But it's the best I can do on short notice. There's no video of just this play anywhere else on the internet...so we had to improvise. Enjoy.



Clearly, even the BTN announcers could call this from a mile away. I was in row 84 of section 40 and me and everyone around us knew this flag was on Sears. The boo's that rang down from 107,000 people was maybe the loudest the stadium was all day. That was just a first of many less than agreeable calls made the officials.

But this begs the question: Was this honest to goodness defensive pass interference? And the answer is, of course...NO! If Cissoko didn't have inside leverage, and if he was trying to play Sears and not the ball...which basically means Cissoko would have had have been turned around looking at Sears and not the ball, then maybe this call would have made sense.

But clearly Cissoko was going for the ball. His body was blocking Sears from getting inside position, but that's not against the rules. It's not Cissoko's fault the pass was thrown too far to the inside.

This is textbook corner coverage. This is also a very bad call by the side-judge, Mike Cannon. It gave EMU 15 yards of valuable field position, and led to a 43-yard field goal that tied the game at 3, thus giving EMU the shallow confidence that they might be able to hang with us for 60 minutes.

David Molk Out 4-6 Weeks

We mentioned it earlier today, center David Molk is out for 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Rodriguez addressed it today in his Monday morning presser. Molk is most certainly considered the leader of the Michigan O-line, and one of the most experienced linemen we have.

Filling in for him will be David Moosman (who is coming back this week from a shoulder injury) and backup lineman Rocko Khoury. Of course it is great to have Moosman back, but losing Molk for any amount of time is going to be a blow for this high-powered offense.

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I've been meaning to do a bit of shameless self-promotion. It's pretty clear that this whole social networking thing is here to stay...at least for now. So if you're feeling bold and adventurous, click on over to our MBN Facebook page and also our Twitter page. It's a great way to stay up to date with all of our posts and updates. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed. This will allow you to read all of out post right in the comfort of your very own RSS reader.

Michigan's Rankings

Something we here at MBN would like to feature, because now we can, is how Michigan's rankings are looking among the media, coaches and fans. Being ranked is fun...let's make sure we keep it this way.

Week 3:

Poll
Current Week
Previous Week
AP Poll
23
25
Coaches Poll
22
NR
BCS Poll
N/A
N/A
ESPN.com Power Poll
19
22
ESPNU Fan Poll
19
22
CBSSports.com Top 120
20
22
CBSSports.com Blog Poll
?*
25

*CBS Blog Poll has not been updated yet.

Looking Back at Week 3: Eastern Michigan

It can be argued that Michigan played pretty well in this game. It can also be argued that Michigan struggled in this game. It was really the tale of two halves. In the first half, we saw Michigan struggle to pull away early from an Eastern Michigan squad that ran the ball up the middle with relative ease. In the second half, Michigan was able to capitalize on some very nice field position and keep EMU off the scoreboard.

It should be noted that Michigan has outscored their opponents 21-0 in third quarters this season. Against EMU, the biggest halftime adjustment was in the run defense. Chalk it up to the Michigan D not being prepared to actually have to play in this game...that can be attributed to this being the typical "trap" game. Tough to get guys excited to play against EMU a week after beating Notre Dame in dramatic fashion...and that's probably why the first half of this game was a little closer than most would have liked.


What I Liked:
I really like the play of the offensive line. They made holes all day for Brown, Minor, Shaw, Robinson & Smith. Carlos Brown easily had the play of the day with his 90-yard TD scamper. Not to be outdone was Denard Robinson's two very nice TD runs. Both of which came at a time when Michigan needed to put some breathing room between them and the Ealges. That also gave UM a chance to get some backups in there to see some game time.

Tate Forcier played adequately. Nothing great. He showed a little bit of indecision on some of scrambles. EMU blitzed well and created some confusion when Tate would try and keep the ball on some of his option-reads. His throws were decent. No TDs, but he did connect some nice throws. It was a huge moment of terror when he went down in the 2nd half. You could literally hear the air taken right out of the lungs of Michigan fans when Tate was laying on the field in pain. It's pretty clear now that he probably got the air knocked out of him...and might have also bruised some ribs in the process. He got hit very hard.

But all in all, the offense rocked on Saturday. They scored quickly on big plays. EMU actually dominated time of possession with over 40 minutes...a testament to Michigan's efficiency of scoring.


What I Didn't Like:
Well, in this sort of game, you have to understand what the circumstances are and manage you expectations. To think that we were going to win 70-0 would be a little ridiculous. But, we should have been able to control the line of scrimmage better in the first half. EMU ran the ball pretty well, getting sometimes 6-8 yards per carry. They had a lot of 3rd and shorts. And they were successful in keeping our high-powered offense off the field as much as possible. They sustained long drives...something ND also did with regularity.

On offense, it would have been nice to be able to show off the passing game a little more, but with our running game doing so well, I can see why we didn't pass too much.

Overall the game was a success. We showed that we don't have to rely solely on the pass or QB. We were able to get some backups in the game. Having Sheridan on the sidelines the entire 2nd half shows that he is probably not going to see the field much at all the rest of the season. LB Jonas Mouton, served his 1-game suspension for allegedly hitting a ND player last week. He'll be back this weekend. Junior Hemingway returned from his injury in week 1 and looked good.

The biggest loss for us this week is center David Molk. He will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.

Defensively, yes...we should all be concerned. I think we have bigger issues than just Mouton not being in the game. We have defensive line issues. We are young and small. Teams in the Big Ten like to run...and right now, we're less than great at stopping the run. Greg Robinson will have his hands full as the schedule plays out and if we can't stay healthy up front.

Something that I didn't think would be a possibility 3 weeks ago is that Michigan may find itself in some big offensive shootouts with some opponents this year. Suddenly, we have the confidence and the ability to score points. In three games this year we've scored 31, 38 and 45 points respectively. Last season we went 23, 16 and 17 in our first three games.

And, we're 3-0 for the first time since 2006! And that's something worth feeling good about. Big game this week as we start Big Ten play against a surprisingly undefeated Indiana squad when they come calling for homecoming.

The Big House: After Hours

Found this over on mgoblog. U-M professor and football columnist for Michigan Today John U. Bacon dives into all the gory details about what goes on inside the Big House when there's no game going on. It's a very good read.

Did you know there's a 50-yard line club?

Yeah, it means exactly what you think it does. Hey-oh! Up top.

Photo credit: Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services

Week 3 Injury Report

Now that the staff releases weekly injury reports, we no longer have to guess which players will be on the field on Saturday. Now granted, these reports are going to tell us pretty much what we already know, but still, it's nice to have an official report.

Out:
Tim McAvoy (Knee)
David Moosman (Shoulder)

Propable (75% change of playing):
Junior Hemingway (Ankle)

Michigan Memorbilia Auction for a Good Cause

Yesterday, I received an email from Noel Cimmino, Co-Chair of the Bernard Maloy Cancer Scholarship at UofM. The Scholarship is in honor of a professor at Michigan, Barnard "Pat" Maloy, who passed away in 2001 of esophageal cancer. The Scholarship is awarded to Michigan undergrads who either have cancer themselves or who have direct family members who have or are battling cancer.

To fund the scholarship, the founders are holding an online auction of various Michigan football (and other local sports) memorabilia. You can see all of the auctioned items and find out all you need to know about the scholarship and it's honoree, Pat Maloy, on their website. So far, they have raised close to $15,000. But we all know a Michigan education costs a little more than that...so there's still work to be done. They have some very nice items which you can bid on, including a Charles Woodson signed football, Mike Hart signed mini-helmet, a Michigan "Those Who Stay Will Be Champions" banner with various autographs, Michigan vs. tOSU tickets, etc. So head on over and start bidding.

Notes for Week 3

Heading into week three, Michigan stands at a very impressive 2-0. Ranked #25 in the AP poll, and #26 in the coaches...Michigan has surely been a bit of surprise the rest of the college football world...and to some of it's own fan base. Here's a look at what's making headlines around the program this week.

• This week's game will air live on the Big Ten Network at noon. In the booth will be Wayne Larrivee (play-by-play) & Chris Martin (analyst). Charissa Thompson will handle sideline reporting.

• WR Junior Hemingway, who sat out the Notre Dame game, will likely play this week as he has been practicing in with limited contact this week.

• OL David Moosman will likely sit out the next couple games with a shoulder injury sustained against the Irish.

• Nice article by Andy Staples on SI.com about Michigan walk-on freshman safety Jordan Kovacs.

• Rich Rodriguez called into the Dan Patrick Show yesterday to discuss Notre Dame and the NCAA investigation.

• Michigan has a shiny new website just for it's football program. See it here. MGoBlue dot com also has a new look and feel to it...see it here.

• The Indiana contest on September 26th will air live on ESPN or ESPN2.

• And finally, there's been some noise on the internet about the alleged "punch" by Jonas Mouton on a Notre Dame player after a play last weekend. When asked about it in an interview, Rodriguez was not aware of any punches thrown by Mouton. So no punishment from the coaches will be handed down. As far as I can see, Mouton did something. It hard to see in the video...whatever he did, he did it fast. But there is something there. Have a look...



Thanks to Michigan Sports Center for the video link.

Getting More Attention

Much of how you can tell if you're once powerful program is on the mend, at least in the eye of the mass media, is if they do feature articles about your team's players mid-week leading up to a less-than-exciting game against a completely inferior MAC school. Well, that seems to be what is happening. Let's take a look.

ESPN.com:
Article about Brandon Minor
Story about Michigan back in top 25...and ND out

CNN/SI:
Tate Forcier on the cover of SI (Link from MVictors)
Story about Forcier vs. Pryor
Story about Michigan back in top 25

Bleacher Report:
Tate is the new face of Michigan football


Also, just for fun, The Detroit News takes a look at EMU head coach Ron English's trip back into the Big House just two years removed from being our defensive coordinator. We here at MBN really liked English when he was coaching here, and of course we wish him all the luck in the world at EMU...just not this weekend.

English:
"The Big House is a special place and anytime you can coach in that stadium it's special, and I don't care what side you're on," English said. "It's one of the top venues in the country. Our team has to make sure they don't get caught up in the pageantry of it all. There are issues, like 'will the guys focus' or 'will they be distracted.'

"Michigan's a different animal. There's one way to go in the stadium and one way out and there's a sea of people. The environment will be different (than when I was there). It will be louder with the boxes (new suites)."

September 16, 2006

...was a big day. Not only because it was my wedding day, but also because this happened...

Part 1:


Part 2:


Go Blue!

Looking Back at Week 2 - Notre Dame

Photo Credit: AnnArbor.com

Part of the fun of being gone for a few days is playing catch-up the week after a big win. I know it's been 4 days since Michigan's amazing game against Notre Dame, but it just wouldn't be complete without a semi-decent look back at the game that was.

Hey...and btw...we're ranked! #25 in the AP poll and almost ranked (#26) in the coaches poll! We're also #22 in ESPN.com's power rankings and #22 in the ESPNU fan poll.

What I liked:
Holy Touchdown Jesus I liked almost everything. Our aggressiveness, our resilience, our ability to make a play when it counted the most, the maturity of our young players. Watching the recording of the game and already knowing the outcome did not keep me from being tense. Like I said, while the actual game was being played, I was busy sending on my best friends into holy matrimony...and of course getting score updated from the grooms brother on his cell phone. Every time I would get an update and the score would be different, I couldn't help but think this game must be one of the most epic in the series so far. And after watching, I was right.

Super-amazing-freshman, Tate Forcier, looked like a small and mobile Chad Henne. He's the perfect balance between what we're used to in a mature signal caller, and the ability that we've been asking for since watching guys like Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Troy Smith, Juice Williams and Dennis Dixon scramble around us like our defense is etched in stone. He moves like he's been playing this game...this actual Notre Dame game, for the past 4 years. He did things on Saturday that no one can teach you. No coach can teach you to duck under a 250-pound linebacker in the middle of the air like he's just hanging there waiting for you to make him look like a fool for jumping so high.

I'd like to say that Denard Robinson still has a poke at maybe playing QB this year, but I have my doubts. If Forcier can stay out of the way of blitzing LBs and free safeties, and not get his head blown off, he might not be allowed to leave the field until he hangs a 3 TD lead on the opponent going into the 4th quarter.

Brandon Minor is a beast and no single defensive player will be able to bring him down by themselves. He ran with a purpose on Saturday. Every time he broke through the line, he took off like we have never seen him do before. He found a second gear over the summer, and he unleashed it...finally, last weekend.

Our receivers played well. They caught the passes they were supposed to. They blocked well down field. With Stonum dinged up during the game, and Junior Hemingway out, our depth at the WR position paid dividends. The line also played extraordinary well against a good and experienced Notre Dame from 7.

Defensively, we had some trouble against a very good and experienced offense from Notre Dame. After watching the game, its clear to me that Michigan might have just faced their toughest offensive opponent this year. We all hate him, but Jimmy Clausen is a very competent passer with a host of talented receivers to throw to. Also, Armondo Allen Jr. is every bit as explosive as a guy like Brandon Minor or maybe even Beanie Wells.

We're small up front, and we're thin almost everywhere. We were severely overmatched on the line of scrimmage. But still, ND was hit with multiple holding calls all day. Our smaller size and speed was almost an asset as the game wore on...just as it did against Western.

Donovan Warren & Stevie Brown played particularly well.

What I Didn't Like:
Well, without getting nit-picky...the only thing that stood out to me was the ability for ND to get big plays, especially through the air. I had a feeling that they would try and establish a strong running game, but the all of the penalties, and of course Weis's affinity for the pass...ND put the ball in the air quite a bit. Clausen went 25/42 for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns. A little better than I thought he'd do.

On offense, we also had some penalties. But nothing that got us into too much trouble. When Denard Robinson came into the game, it was obvious to the entire stadium that he would just take off running. Now, this might not be such a bad thing, the kids got skills, but the predictability of it really eliminates the positives.

Overall:
The game was a huge success for a team made up of almost all freshman and sophomores. Michigan surprised us all with a great win in week 1, but what they were able to do last weekend was nothing short of stunning. I was thinking in the pre-season that a big week 1 victory would maybe propel Michigan to a huge upset of ND...and turns out I surprised even myself by being right. Whatever Rodriguez and his staff are doing to convince these young men that they have what it takes to beat any opponent...it's working. This Michigan team believes in itself...and the fans believe in them.

And that's something we haven't been able to say with any confidence since 2006.

 
Photo credit: AnnArbor.com

Wake Up the Echoes

Photo Source: AnnArbor.com 

I'm not one for eloquent writing...actually, more the opposite. But what I saw on Saturday...actually on Sunday night because I was out of town all weekend for a wedding, was nothing short of simply amazing.

News sites, television, blogs...everyone has been going crazy about how awesome it was to beat Notre Dame. And this site will be no different. But instead of just diving right into how we won and what I think was good/bad, let me just say that if Western Michigan was a good win for Michigan...this win was a landmark. It clearly defines the rest of this season. It defines why Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez. Why he stood in front of the bright lights in the press room on August 30th and let each and every one of us know just how he felt about Michigan football.

The Notre Dame rivalry is a very unique one for Michigan. We have so many great rivals. Obviously tOSU, but also little brother in East Lansing, the Gophers in Minnesota with the oldest trophy in college football, relative newcomers in Penn State...hell you could even make an argument for some non-conference foes such as often Rose Bowl contender USC. But Notre Dame is important. Not just because we stand 1st and 2nd in all-time winning percentage, but because our histories are so similar. We have the legendary coaches, the great players, the multiple championships that college football fans everywhere argue are outdated and meaningless.

But when Michigan and Notre Dame step on the field together, it means something. It means that when you get a game like the one in Ann Arbor on September 12, 2009...that all is right with the world. It is as if this rivalry is meant only to keep the college football Gods happy. Somewhere Fielding Yost and Knute Rockne and all of the ghosts of these two strong and proud programs are engaged in this battle that plays out on the fields each and every fall.

The history, the bands, the fans, the cheerleaders...all of the tradition that is everywhere you look...everything that the teams and coaches do on this day means something. Nothing is done without purpose. It is only done because that's the way these things have been done in this rivalry since its first game in 1887. In the beginning, Michigan won the first 8 meetings against the Irish. In 1909...one hundred years ago...Notre Dame won it's first game against us.

In 1887, Notre Dame began it's football program. It called upon Michigan's players to come to South Bend and teach the game to them. In the early days, Michigan and Notre Dame were not rivals. For the first few seasons, Notre Dame's football program operated under the guidance of The University of Michigan.

There were a couple hiatuses in the rivalry, but it has been going strong for the past 31 years. If you think back over that time, can you honestly say that this year's contest does not belong among those great games? Most moaned and whined when Michigan and Notre Dame signed their 20-year contract extension in 2007, which was to end in 2012...now will continue to 2031. Sure, some of those games will be less than exciting...but if we sprinkle in a few like the one from last weekend, then this blogger will sing the praises of the respective athletic directors.

Coming up, we'll take a closer look at the game and what I liked, and didn't like. Here's a preview: I liked a lot, and didn't like very little.

MIA

My apologies to anyone and everyone who reads and visits this site with any regularity, but these past few days, I've been far too busy with real life to have any time left over to devote to this humble site. With the Irish coming to town, I had great plans to post like a madman this week about all things related to how much Notre Dame sucks,h ow fat Charlie Weis is, how off-sides Rudy was. But this is just not in the cards.

I am also going to be leaving first thing tomorrow morning for a wedding two states away...so I will be without blog for the entire weekend. Hopefully in my absence, our boys will take care of business this weekend and treat little Jimmy Clausen the same as we did Brady Quinn in 2006 . I trust this game will be a dandy, and anyone lucky enough to be in attendance should at the very least yell and scream their ass off on Saturday.

Hopefully my real life will loosen up enough for me to be able to devote some more time to this little hobby of mine. Until then, this is how it will be for now. Thanks for reading. Go Blue!

Another Reason to Hate Terrelle Pryor


Photo courtesy of AP/Jay LePrete

If you look closely, the black stickers under his eyes read "Mika" which is a tribute to his sister, and "Vick" a tribute to the former Atlanta Falcons QB who was incarcerated for 18 months for his ties to a dog fighting ring. Article via ESPN.com.

"I always looked up to Mike Vick and I always will, because I still think he is one of the best quarterbacks," Pryor said. "I love Mike Vick."

"I know what happened with him and, I mean, I don't want to talk much," Pryor said. "I'm just going to be very short and sweet with it but I just feel he made his mistake and I think he just needs more support."

"Not everybody is the perfect person in the world," Pryor said of Vick. "Everyone does -- kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me. I just feel that people need to give him a chance."

Um....ooooook. Everyone does? Last time I checked, no one I know has ever killed/murdered someone, stolen from me or, you know, electrocuted a dog for fun.

Vick just signed a 2-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles this year that could end up paying him 6.8 million dollars including up to 3 million dollars in incentives. I don't think Vick needs any more support from anyone.

Looking Back at Week 1 - WMU

First of all, let me say that looking back, I really enjoyed watching Michigan have their way with an over-matched opponent for the first time in Rodriguez era. When it was happening though, it was almost surreal. Watching Forcier pass the ball with precision for 3 touchdowns and seeing D-Rob slash his way through the defense on that ridiculous TD run was almost too good to be true. It actually took me a while after the game to really digest what just happened.

Saturday's game was exactly what Michigan needed. It took all of the controversy talk in the media and flushed it down the toilet. Just as I suspected last week, once football starts, all of that off-season crap ends. It just so happened that Michigan gave us a much bigger and more decisive victory than most would have expected.

What I Liked:
Well, mostly everything. Offensively, much improved QB play was the result of a lot of preparation and having a couple guys who are better at running the system, and can obviously ignore the pressure of a national TV audience and 109,019 fans and play well beyond their years. Tate Forcier is the future of the Michigan QB position. He's got the arm, the legs and the poise to be a 4 year starter. Denard Robinson also showed why he has impressed coaches so much in his 3 1/2 weeks on campus. No question his TD run in the first quarter was something of brilliance. I haven't been that impressed with a QB since Ryan Mallett was throwing rockets to WRs in the 2007 spring game. Denard's got the legs and the speed. Tate has the arm and the poise. Somehow, Rodriguez needs to find a way to strike a balance and keep these guys both on the field as much as possible.

The line looked pretty good as well. Aside from some opening game mistakes (holding penalties), they looked solid. They're smaller, but stronger, faster and more experienced. Obviously, keeping all the starters and backups from a year ago goes a long way in helping two freshman QBs. And playing a MAC caliber defense helps a lot too.

A product of good line play, the backs looked good also. Michael Shaw and Carlos Brown led the way in Brandon Minor's absence. And while Denard Robinson led the way in terms of rushing yards, our backs had a pretty good day as well.

Defensively, well...what can I say. WMU is no slouch on offense. They were actually a pretty good test for this defense. We looked a whole lot faster in almost every position. Linebackers were flying all around the field. And if this is just a taste of what's to come from Brandon Graham, then we're in for a treat this year. He made some pretty good plays on the QB early on in the game. No question, that poor excuse for a blocker that WMU put on him at right tackle was not going to stop Graham from getting into the backfield. Him and Obi Ezeh are the standouts up front. What happens to Michigan's defense if these guys get dinged up though is a major concern. We're not bad at LB, but we're thin on the line.

What I Didn't Like:
In the first half, nothing.

Second half though, we got sloppy. We seemed to be laying back. And this might have been by design. Greg Robinson might have let off the gas a little bit in terms of applying pressure to the QB. Also, we did bring in more 2nd stringers as well. Either way, we did let Hiller connect on some relatively open WRs. Granted, we did slouch into a prevent defense in the 2nd half. But in the first half, Michigan threw some looks at Hiller that he really didn't know what to do with. His first and second options were covered pretty well, so he'd have to check off to a slot or TE underneath. They had no running game to speak of at all.

But also in the second half, things got a little sloppy with Donovan Warren. I chalk this up to maybe some weak calls and a bit of frustration from the standout junior corner. He was lights out for much of the game. A couple sloppy interference calls that could have probably been no-calls...but either way, he's going to have to shore that up before the Irish come to town.

Also, as much as I'm sure he's a great kid and a wonderful human being, Nick Sheridan just is not cut out to run this offense. He may have the best grasp of the playbook, but that doesn't mean he's the guy who should be out there running it. That showed this week when he came in the 3rd quarter and reminded all of us how much 2008 sucked.

Overall:
Like I said, this is a big win for Michigan. It puts us on the right path and holds off the naysayers for at least another week. It's the start we were all hoping for, but didn't think would be possible. 2008 has clouded our memories of what it was like to see Michigan be decisive in a victory. Hopefully, this is a glimpse of a successful 2009 campaign.

A Louder Big House

According to initial reports, the Big House sounded noticeably louder for the opener against WMU than games in the past.
“I think it’s a lot louder and it echoes more,” said Michigan alum Allison Spratley, 24. “And I’ve heard that the sound on the field is a lot louder, so it bothers the other team some more.”

“The reverberation from the student section over on the south end of the stadium makes a huge difference,” added longtime Michigan fan Mike Marcotte, 35. “I don’t know if the crowd is in it just because we’re winning but the sound is a lot different. It’s a lot different than last year.”
Not sure how much louder it sounds myself...I will make my in-person season debut two weeks from today when Michigan hosts EMU. Hopefully an even louder crowd will show up next week when we host Notre Dame. But it's nice to read reports already that the Big House is indeed louder with the new structures in place.

May The Forcier Be With You

1-0 baby! A winning record!

A great win for Michigan. That's all that can be said about today. Michigan needed a win to get the critics off their backs and thats what they did. Forcier looked poised beyond his years, Denard looked explosive, Sheridan looked...well, like Sheridan. But the defense looked amazing. It's clear that Greg Robinson's schemes worked well against what many called a good WMU team.

More on this big win soon. It's time to party.

Photo: Ann Arbor.com

The Detroit Free Press Ain't Got Nothin' On...

Michigan's Week 1 Depth Chart

This is the official depth chart released on mgoblue.com. Players are listed in order of depth.

Offense:

QB
5 Tate Forcier
or 
8 Nick Sheridan
or 
16 Denard Robinson

SB
4 Brandon Minor
23 Carlos Brown
or 
2 Vincent Smith
20 Michael Shaw

FB
44 Mark Moundros
24 Kevin Grady

X
13 Greg Mathews
22 Darryl Stonum
6 Je'Ron Stokes

LT
71 Mark Ortmann
79 Perry Dorrestein

LG
52 Stephen Shilling
57 Elliot Mealer
or
56 Ricky Barnum

C
50 David Molk
63 Rocko Khoury

RG
60 David Moosman
74 Jogn Ferrara

RT
72 Mark Huyge
65 Patrick Omameh

TE
86 Kevin Koger
or
80 Martell Webb
88 Brandon Moore

Y
9 Martavious Odoms
18 Kelvin Grady
7 Terrance Robinson
or
12 Roy Roundtree

Z
21 Junior Hemingway
82 LaTerryal Savoy
18 James Rogers

Defense:
DE
55 Brandon Graham
39 Will Heininger
99 Adam Patterson

DT
53 Ryan Van Bergen
92 Greg Banks

NT
68 Mike Martin
95 Ronaldo Sagesse
73 William Campbell

OLB
58 Brandon Herron
88 Craig Roh
81 Steve Watson

MLB
45 Obi Ezeh
42 J.B. Fitzgerald
25 Kenny Demens

WLB
8 Jonas Mouton
52 Kevin Leach
4 Brandon Smith

SLB
3 Stevie Brown
27 Mike Jones
23 Floyd Simmons

LCB
6 Donovan Warren
2 J.T. Turner
or
14 Teric Jones

SS
29 Troy Woolfolk
31 Jared Van Slyke
22 Jordan Kovacs

FS
40 Mike Williams
5 Vladimir Emilien

RCB
33 Boubacar Cissoko
12 J.T. Floyd

2009 Michigan Football: How, Where and When

Sometimes it may be a bit confusing for some good folks to know how, where and when to catch all of the games this season. There are many ways to tune into a game this fall. TV, interwebs, terrestrial radio, satellite radio, in person, etc...

With only 5 days until the opening game, you might be asking yourself...How can I, average Joe-blow fan watch, hear and experience all of the game this fall?

Easy. This is the MBN guide to...2009 Michigan Football: How, Where and When.

As always, Michigan football is one of the biggest draws for any television/radio outlet each and every week. No question, almost anywhere in the country, you'll be able to get all of the game action live...and in English too!

If there is ever a question of the schedule for 2009, all you have to do is come right back here and check the schedule we have posted under the big maize block M in the light gray sidebar (or you could check the schedule at MGoBlue.com). We will be constantly updating this with times/TV updates as they become available. Sometimes TV channels and times are not known until about week in advance of each kickoff. But we promise to update our schedule as information gets out.

TV:
This will change week-to-week based on who we're playing. For week 1 against WMU and week 2 against the Irish, ABC has decided to pick up the game. Both games air at 3:30PM. This weekend's game is a regional network broadcast. So those fans living in the geographical footprint of each school (upper mid-west), will see the game on ABC. The rest of the country will see this game via ESPN2. While this is still ABC's airwaves, ESPN is actually the company handling the broadcast (ABC owns ESPN).

Odds are most games will be broadcast via ABC/ESPN/ESPN2. For those lesser games not aired on the Disney family of networks (Disney owns ABC), The Big Ten Network will handle the broadcast. Pretty much everyone in the country gets BTN now...and in HD.


TERRESTRIAL RADIO:
Locally here in metro Detroit and much of southeast Michigan,  terrestrial radio is probably the easiest way to listen to Michigan football. FM 104.3 WOMC will broadcast each and every game this fall. The usual broadcast duo of play-by-play announcer Frank Beckmann and color commentator Jim Brandstatter will handle the call from the booth. Doug Karsch will provide on-the-field analysis.

WOMC in Detroit and AM 800 CKLW out of Windsor achor what is known as The Michigan Sports Network. This is a network of AM & FM stations that broadcast Michigan football games in the fall. This network includes the following affiliates for 2009:

1. AlmaWQBX-FM104.9
2. AlpenaWKJZ-FM94.9
3. Ann ArborWTKA-AM1050
4. Battle CreekWBXX-FM104.9
5. Battle CreekWBCK-AM930
6. Benton HarborWSJM-AM1400
7. Big RapidsWBRN-AM1460
8. CadillacWATT-AM1240
9. CharlevoixWMKT-AM1270
10. CheboyganWCBY-AM1240
11. DetroitWOMC-FM104.3
12. EscanabaWDBC-AM680
13. FlintWTRX-AM1330
14. GaylordWMJZ-FM101.5
15. Grand HavenWGHN-AM1370
16. Grand RapidsWOOD-AM1300
17. JacksonWKHM-AM970
18. KalamazooWKZO-AM590
19. KalamazooWQLR-AM1660
20. LansingWQTX-FM92.1
21. LudingtonWKZC-AM94.9
22. Marine CityWHLX-AM1590
23. MarquetteWIAN-AM1240
24. MuskegonWLCS-FM98.3
25. NewberryWNBY-FM96.7
26. NilesWNIL-AM1290
27. Petoskey    WMKT-FM92.1
28. Port HuronWHLS-AM1450
29. SaginawWSGW-AM790
30. Sault Ste. MarieWKNW-AM1400
31. South HavenWCSY-AM940
32. TawasWQLB-FM103.3
33. Toledo, OhioWLQR-AM1470
34. Toledo, OhioWTOD-AM1560
35. Traverse CityWTCM-AM580
36. Windsor, Ontario/Detroit    CKLW-AM800
37. Chicago, Ill.WVON-AM1690
38. Little Rock, Ark.KASR-FM92.7


This is the largest and most listened-to college sports network in the midwest. Many of these stations (including WOMC) have websites which you can stream their live radio broadcast. This is a great way to listen to Michigan football in case you happen to be out of town or stuck at the office on a beautiful autumn Saturday.


SATELLITE RADIO
For those of you who happen to have satellite radio either in your car, or via a mobile device...you're in luck. Michigan football will be broadcast on spacewaves as well.

This weekend's game against WMU will beem live on SIRIUS channel 121.

Channels seem to change most weeks. Odds are SIRIUS will handle most, if not all of Michigan's home games. But, as we all know, SIRIUS and XM have merged. So how they handle which hosts which games is still a mystery to me.

WEB:
Michigan football will be streamed on the internet (audio only of course) @ MGoBlue.com free of charge. All you need is Windows Media Player and an internet connection. This broadcast is the same as what you would hear on the radio...Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, and Doug Karsch.

For game 1, Michigan has already setup the link for their graphical stat tracker application that runs right inside your browser. This can be handy to keep track of player stats as the game is being played.

The good folks over at ESPN also have a stat tracker. That link is not available yet.

Also...

Every once in a while, ESPN will cover a game via a service called ESPN360. This is a relatively new service ESPN offers which allows users to watch a game on their computers, streamed live. Since you're streaming live video, a broadband connection is required. This is free to anyone who's internet provider is on this list. Or, anyone who's computer is located on a college campus or any military base in the US. This service is also portable, so if you get this service at home, just log in to your ESPN account and stream from wherever you are.