You're Doing It Wrong



This is what I watched today. For 1 1/2 hours after halftime.

I don't even know how to begin to describe this game or the overall state of Michigan football right now. We're going backwards. We're getting worse. Each loss...is uglier than the loss that preceded it.

Why is this happening? Youth? Inexperience? Coaching? Play calling? Yeah...those are all aspects of it. But basically, we're doing all the basic stuff wrong. We're not blocking well, we're not tackling well, we're not protecting the football. You can't expect to beat someone else, when you're too busy beating yourself. I don't know what Rodriguez and his coaches do in practice all day...but apparently, they don't spend much time working on protecting the football or trying to create turnovers.

Turnover margin since 2004:
2009: -1.11
2008: -0.83
2007: +0.15
2006: +1.08
2005: +0.42
2004: +0.50

Not much else can be said. In close games, or at least when the momentum is on the line, turnovers are a huge boost, or huge a bust. Today, we made a 1-6 Illinois team look like the next Big Ten champion.

From the moment the touchdown was over-turned by the replay official (which was the right call by the way), Michigan looked lost. Juice Williams, not exactly as Juicy as he used to be, took this game over and secured his starting role at Illinois for the rest of his senior season. And down the stretch, we were out-coached and out-played...in all phases of the game.

We gave up.

People keep saying that Rodriguez's system is so great and he's going to do great things here. But I'm just tired of waiting for it. I'm a patient guy...but I'm just tired of losing. I'm tired of seeing players dejected on the sideline and coaches yelling at each other. It's embarrassing.

At this point, where we are now and all that's happened over the last 2 years...I've never been so depressed as a Michigan fan.

I don't even know where we go from here.

Wednesday Night News

Small update for this Wednesday night...

• Rich Rodriguez answers some questions about Boubacar Cissoko's dismissal from the team (via AnnArbor.com)



• On the injury front, Martavious Odoms did not practice Wednesday due to effects of his sprained knee which he suffered last week against Penn State. He is responding well to treatment, and should be back on the practice field tomorrow...and could be on the plane to Champaign this weekend.

• Tate Forcier told trainers he had some discomfort with his shoulder after the Penn State game, but he has been participating fully in all practices this week and will start Saturday.

• Brandon Minor is also day to day with his slowly healing ankle sprain which has hobbled him all season. I personally don't expect to see Minor on the field much, if at all the rest of the way. It was clear last week that this isn't the Brandon Minor we all know and love.

• Junior Hemingway is back and had practiced all week. He should be all set for playing this weekend.

• Carlos Brown will continue returning kickoffs. He had two last weekend with an average return of 23.5 yards. Darryl Stonum will join Brown on kickoffs.
"Everybody knows Darryl’s pretty good back there and they’ll kick away from him," Rodriguez said. "Having an experienced guy like Carlos back there, either one of them can take it for us."
• Illinois will continue their two QB rotation this weekend with senior Juice Williams and freshman Jacob Charest. Zook says he can run the same offense (spread) with either QB in the game. Michigan will not alter their defensive strategy for one QB or another.

• Finally, Michigan won't play Minnesota again for another couple of season, so the Little Brown Jug is safely nestled inside the trophy case at Schembechler Hall. However, if you haven't already done so, check out MVictors' Greg Dooley's rather lengthy and detailed look into the history and lore that surrounds the famous water jug. There's more to the story than you might think.

The Bill Martin Legacy, And What's Next

When Bill Martin took office as athletic director at the University of Michigan on March 6, 2000, he inherited a department in disarray. Tom Goss, who was forced to resign, had left the cupboards bare. The athletic campus facilities was stale and old, the basketball program was getting taken out to lunch by the NCAA, and the department as a whole was bleeding cash.

Most casual Michigan fans don't pay too much attention to the AD. Unless rules get broken or something is not going the way it should, the role of AD publicly is just to be the PR guy, the face of athletics at the university. Sure, he must sign off on projects, approve budgets, but really Bill Martin might have spent more time delegating to his associates and sailing than he did actually turning around the department. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Maybe Martin's most significant role was not just his ability to do his job well, but hiring smart and dedicated people to surround him.

I think Martin's overall legacy will be that he turned around the fiscal nightmare that was Michigan athletics (2.8 million dollar deficit in 1999) and kept the department in the black during the rest of his term. He also was able to put into motion many construction projects that would, in reality, rebuild or renovate all of the more marquee facilities.

In 2002, he issued this statement comparing Michigan's athletic facilities to that at Ohio State:
“They’ve rebuilt their entire athletic campus for the next 100 years, while we’ve ignored ours for the last 20 years.”
That comment stung the regents and the athletic community at Michigan. But it also set into motion the single largest and most expansive renovation campaign this university had ever seen.

Among the many construction projects: A massive Michigan Stadium renovation, new indoor football practice facility, much needed Crisler Arena updates, new basketball practice facility, new baseball and softball complex, new soccer, wresting and tennis facilities, and a academic center for student athletes.

All these updates were completely funded by the athletic department, and never used one cent from the university's general budget. And, he actually was able to turn a profit of 13.8 million in 2003-04. Michigan is one of only 6 schools in the nation which has been able to run the department with a budget surplus for the last 5 consecutive years. An amazing accomplishment considering regular ticket prices for football...the largest source of revenue for the department, have not been drastically increased. Sure, season ticket holders must now purchase a seat license for each seat...but that's not outside of the norm for a major program.

For a lasting legacy, Bill Martin did pretty much everything right during his time at Michigan.

I have to find it interesting though, why, out of hundreds of schools in the country with athletic departments, Michigan is only one of 6 to run a surplus for so long? Could it be that Martin knew he had to save his nickels to pay for this huge update to stadium? As far as I've been told, the new premium seating and luxury boxes are going to pay for the stadium renovations...and that cash will not cycle through the department until the stadium project is paid for...all $225 million of it (and counting).

My guess is, the next AD will not be so conservative with the budget. He won't be able to. Bill Martin was great at rebuilding this department and giving the next AD a solid foundation. In collegiate athletics...just like in pro sports, to be successful, you must outspend the competition.

I'm not suggesting you should pay student athletes...this isn't Ohio State for crying out loud. What I am trying to say is, at Michigan, it's not just Bo's legacy and the spirit of Fielding H. Yost that makes people dish out their hard earned cash to watch Michigan play football 7 or 8 times a year.

It's the athletic department's responsibility to get people interested in Michigan sports. It starts with providing top notch facilities...which Michigan is finally doing. But it continues with hiring the best coaches money can buy. Providing the funding for these students athletes to get a free education. Paying for recruits to visit the campus. Paying for coaches to visit recruits. Getting the football program to away games and bowl games. Employing enormous staffs that handle every detail of what it takes to run a top tier program. That money has to come from somewhere. Those kinds of functions, on a ridiculous scale that most fans don't even realize, are what cost universities and athletic departments millions of dollars a year.

It will not surprise me in the following year or two, once the new AD gets into office, to see the budget for Michigan sports...football especially, swell into Ohio State or Texas territory. Those two schools lead the way in athletic spending...both well over 100 million dollars a year. Michigan currently spends 85 million dollars to fund it's athletics. Both Texas and Ohio State's budgets have skyrocketed over the past two years...while Michigan's has remained relatively stable. As I said before, like pro sports...to compete on the highest level, you better be prepared to spend like crazy.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, I don't know for sure what will happen when Bill Martin steps down. I'm not naive enough to think all you have to do is throw money at the wall and you will get wins in return. Both Texas, Ohio State and many other schools have had tremendous success on the football field for many other reasons besides just financial freedom.

But as the overall economy improves, and budgets swell even further out of control, it will be very interesting to see what the next AD does with his checkbook.

Boubacar Cissoko No Longer On the Team

Since the MSU game, CB Boubacar Cissoko had been suspended from playing with the team. According to reports, he violated team rules, and there was also academic reason's for his suspension. It has been reported now that Cissoko has been removed from the roster permanently.

I'd like to say that he'll be missed, but I'm not so sure. He began the season as the starter at CB opposite Donovan Warren. But struggles at that position, and ultimately being replaced by JT Floyd and then again by safety Troy Woolfolk signaled a definite problem. His play on the field won't be missed, but it's sad to see a young man squander a great opportunity like that.

The NCAA Is Interested

On Monday, the NCAA let the University of Michigan know that it would like to lend a hand in the investigation of alleged rule breaking in the number of hours allotted for practice by student athletes as reported last August by the Detroit Free Press.

ESPN story.

We here at MBN think that this could eventually end one of three ways.

1) The NCAA calls the university, asks a couple questions. Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin have a conference call...and this whole circus dies a silent death months from now after it's no longer an issue.

2) The NCAA does it's little song and dance, raises the level of suspicion in order to quell any sort of similar activity that is may occurring on every another college campus. No real ruling or penalty is handed down, and Michigan just has to deal with a little PR blemish.

3) The NCAA does a major investigation and unearths some huge amazing plot to cover up a pandemic rule tampering of epic proportions and they're left with no other course of action than to impose serious sanctions on the football program.

Either way, the Detroit Free Press...more specifically Michael Rosenberg, gets to continue sharpening his ax while his employer loses readership and credibility faster than ever.

Molk Done for Season

Just a few news bits for this Monday afternoon. Via the Monday presser:

• C David Molk is out for the season due to injury. He will have surgery to repair a torn right ACL. This was a non-contact injury suffered when he planted his right foot. It had nothing to do with his broken foot earlier in the season. Just a matter of bad luck. David Moosman will continue at the center spot.

• Next weekend's game against Purdue at home will start at noon and will air on the Big Ten Network.

• Players on the injury watch list are Brandon Minor with a foot/ankle issue that has plagued him all season. Martavious Odoms has a swollen knee. Junior Hemingway left the game with a bruised knee after Donovan Warren was pushed into him as he was waiting to catch a punt last weekend.

• Although Donovan Warren seemed to be limping around the field all day, but still in the game making plays, there is no word on anything that could be wrong with him. I assume all is fine.

Don't Panic



Alright Michigan fans, let's just calm down a little bit.

I know expectations for this team skyrocketed after starting off the season 4-0. Even though we struggled to get past a mediocre at best Indiana team, people suddenly thought Michigan was going to go undefeated and contend for a national title.

Remember, we were 3-9 last year. Realistic pre-season expectations for this season had Michigan going 6-6. OR a best case-scenario of probably 8-4 if all goes well. I personally thought we'd land nearer to the 8-4 mark myself...and I still think we can do it.

When you're as bad as we were last season, you are expected to lose pretty much any game that we would have normally won by 1-2 touchdowns in a previous year. This year, we're beating all of those cupcakes handily. And we're also beating teams like Notre Dame. The close losses to Sparty and more importantly Iowa on the road are indications that Michigan is showing measured improvement over a year ago.

Let's be honest. Penn State kicked our butts last weekend. They won the game by being more physical on the line. 5th year senior Darryl Clark showed his experience and the Penn State linebackers and defensive line controlled the #1 offense in the Big Ten from the 2nd possession on. The good news is, Michigan will not play another team as good as Penn State the rest of the season.

I think deep down that this loss will only spark Michigan to turn it up a notch this weekend in Champaign. Call me an optimist, but I know Michigan is better than the 10 points we put on the board last weekend. The key from here on out is trying to just improve this team one game at a time. We're not really playing for a Big Ten title anymore. All we can do from here is just work on the little things.

Going 4-0 to start the year really helped get the heat off of Rodriguez. Going 1-3 since (0-3 against FBS opponents) has put some of that heat back on. But I think it's too early for the haters to be coming out. Rodriguez has shown that this team can score some points. But when faced against a better opponent, we still have some work to do. And really, the only difference between this season and last season is the QB spot. The rest of the offense, personnel-wise, is the same. We're just another year into the spread-option system.

We're #2 in the Big Ten in total offense with 404 yards per game average. Last year, we were last with 290 yards per game.

Defense needs to improve. And with Greg Robinson at the DC spot, it will. It just takes time. We're giving up 367 yards per game. Last season, under Scott Shafer, we gave up on average 366 yards per game. I would argue that our linebackers have been pretty awful. Aside from Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren, this defense is not at all where they need to be at this point in the season. We're thin at every position. And when you're thin at a position where the starter is not all that great, that's a problem. But hopefully youth with give way to experience down the road.

So, long story short...from here all we can hope for is that we look better each week. We will make a bowl game, which in the end is about all Michigan fans should have hoped for this year. Anything above 7-5 should be considered a huge step in the right direction for this team. Personally, I'd be thrilled with 6-6 as long as the 6th win came on the last game of the season. Right now, that's all I am wishing for.

Penn State Defense Controls Game From Beginning

This game was the battle of the lines. Specifically, the offensive lines. I could not have been more wrong in my prediction (about Michigan) in this game. I thought Michigan would come out and play inspired football. And in a way we did, driving 70 yards on the first drive to take the 7-0 lead. But that's when the game took a terrible turn - our defense took the field.

We had no answer for Darryl Clark and the Nittany Lion offense. He picked us apart all day throwing for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns. You could blame Michigan's defensive backfield, but they were just over matched. Penn State's o-line was the story of the game, giving Clark all day to throw and find the open man. Royster was able to capitalize on the great play of his offensive line, running 20 times for 100 yards.

Offensively for Michigan, it was also the line that was the story of the day. Losing David Molk to injury again early in the game was a huge blow that Michigan was not able to recover from. Penn State's defense, at least in this game, was every bit as good as they were billed to be. Minor, Brown, Forcier, Robinson...all were completely smothered in this game.

We were nowhere close to the 37 point per game average that Michigan fans were hoping to see today. We showed just how young our QBs are. Forcier was consistently forced into making bad throws. Denard Robinson, who showed that he has no business on the football field right now, turned the ball over twice...once through the air on a very bad read, and once on the ground as he was hit going down.

If there is any bright spot going away from this game, is that Michigan will not have to face a defensive front 7 as talented as this the rest of the season. I gotta hand it to Penn State and their defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. They are a great unit. And if Clark and his o-line can keep playing like they did today, (and get a little help from Iowa along the way) they could take the Big Ten title this year, because no one left on their schedule can put points up against their defense.

For Michigan, we must regroup and head to Champaign to take on a struggling Illinois team. We will have to see who's banged up on Monday. But from my living room, I could see a few guys who were hurt in this game. Tate's shoulder is still a question mark. Minor's ankle is definitely slowing him down. Molk might be out. Odoms and Hemingway got a little banged up today as well. On defense, Donovan Warren was limping quite a bit, but I think he should be ok...hopefully.

We'll see. Much more to come about this game.

Michigan - Penn State Preview

MAIZE OUT!

If you're going to the game, wear your maize shirt over your sweatshirt. If it might rain, take 3 dollars to Target and buy a yellow poncho. Seriously people...let's make this maize out thing real!

I don't usually dive into a full-fledged preview of up-coming games. But this week feels like it's worthy of a really good look at the matchups and what I think will be the outcome this Saturday afternoon.

Penn State has lost their last 5 games in Ann Arbor dating back to 1996. Last season, they snapped their 9-game losing streak to Michigan with a 46-17 win in Happy Valley. While Michigan led at halftime 17-7 after an impressive 1st half of pounding the football with RB Brandon Minor. The 2nd half proved to be too much as Penn State rolled offensively while Michigan never got their running game back on track.

This year's game looks to be much closer as Michigan's much improved offense tries to put a dent in the talented Nittany Lion defense.

First, let's look at the biggest matchup of the day:

Michigan Offense vs. PSU Defense
No question, Penn State has a very good defense this season. They rank 5th overall in total defense nationally. They given up an average of 238.86 yards per game through 7 games. Actually, they lead the Big Ten in the following defensive categories: Scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass defense and tackles for loss.

Players to watch for are LB Josh Hull who leads the Nittany Lions in tackles this season with 69. Also, LB Sean Lee who's only seen action in 4 games this year due to injury, but is expected to be on the field this weekend. DT Jared Odrick and DE Jack Crawford will keep the OL very busy. Both have spent quite a bit of time in the offensive backfield this season making life miserable for the 6 fluff opponents Penn State has seen so far this year.

The key to this game offensively for Michigan is to do exactly what we did last year in the first half. Establish a running game between the tackles (or outside the tackles for that matter). Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown are both supposed to be healthy and ready to go this weekend. And we will need them. Game like this are why these guys are here. We're going to need their size and strength to put some pressure on PSU's front 7.

If we can establish a decent running game, and only if, then we will be able to pass the ball downfield with some success. If we remain one-dimensional throughout the game, then we will have a serious problem moving the ball. Penn State is too good for us to allow them to load up on the pass.

Michigan Defense vs. Penn State Offense:
Here's where things get a little more interesting. Penn State has a couple play makers with QB Darryl Clark and RB Evan Royster. They're not as experienced as they were last year in WR or OL, so that could be an area where Michigan could afford to take some risks. I expect to see a lot of blitzing by Greg Robinson...a lot.

I'm not sold on Darryl Clark's arm right now. Through the first 4 games of the season, he was mediocre at best. Against Iowa he tossed 3 INTs and only 1 TD. Through the last 3 games, he's been much more of a running QB where his stats have greatly improved than over the first 4.

Royster's stats on the ground have also shown improvement since the Iowa loss. Although his TD count is low for a starting RB, his yards per game have been much more solid.

On defense, Michigan must contain Clark and make him try and beat us with his arm. Both Michigan and Penn State know the winner of this game is the one that controls the line of scrimmage.

I'm kinda-sorta more confident that Michigan's secondary is in the best shape it has been all season now that we're healthy and Troy Woolfolk is starting at CB opposite Donovan Warren. I'm a little weary of our safety situation...but hopefully those guys (Williams and Kovacs) will step it up this week. But if the secondary is the unit that breaks down this weekend, it will be because the front 7 didn't do their job.

Intangibles:
Michigan owns Penn State. Okay, yeah we lost pretty badly at their house last year. But if this year has taught us anything, is that last year was soooo last year.

I'm not sure anyone really knows anything about Penn State other than in their one true test...at home at night, they lost to Iowa by 11. When we traveled to Iowa City two weeks later to play under the lights, we only lost by 2. Does it mean anything? Maybe not. You can't really compare teams that way...but that's all we really have to go by with this Penn State team. In their 6 wins, they beat Akron, Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Eastern Illinois and Minnesota. Not exactly easy to tell if all these grand assumptions about how awesome Penn State is are fairly accurate or not.

Fun With Stats:
We're 5-0 at home. We average 42.6 points per game at the Big House. We average 30.5 points per game against winning teams. Penn State averages 20.3. Oddly, we average 24 points per game in our 2 losses. Penn State averages just 10 in their one loss.


So...Who Will Win?
I'm going to be so bold in saying that not only do I think Michigan will win, but by how many touchdowns? Am I being a complete homer with that statement? Yes. But I don't really ever say that when I'm previewing a game, especially a game of this magnitude.

I really just feel very confident about this Michigan team right now. I could feel their confidence after the game last week. In the tunnel after the game last week, you could hear players chanting "Beat Penn State!" They're humble, but confident. They feel like they've got a lot to prove to people. This game is another step in moving on from 2008. Penn State handled us last year. In our last 5 games of this season, 4 of them are against teams that beat us last year. Three of those games take place in the Big House.

Redemption is at hand. This Michigan team is hungry. Each player is ready for this game. They don't play for themselves, they play for the guy next to them. Penn State better bring their best game, because Michigan is ready. Forget what you read about Minor or Brown or Molk on the injury report. Those things are meaningless. Nothing will keep those three off the field this weekend.

This is Michigan's game to lose. No one is going to take it from us.

This just in: Terrelle Pryor Sucks at Playing Quarterback

Hit: Adam Rittenberg
Quotes.
Pryor's HS coach:
"They need Terrelle to run more," former Jeannette (Pa.) High School coach Ray Reitz said. "They've put the reins on him and they need to let him go free. When I watch Terrelle play right now, I see a robot."

"All I know is they promised him that they would teach him a pro-style system with both a shotgun and under center," Reitz said. "Jim Tressel is a great coach and he's been running his offense successfully for 30 years. But I'd like to see some zone-read plays where with one mistake [by the defense], he can be gone. With some zone-read plays, they wouldn't be able to take away all the outside runs because he'd be a threat to go between the tackles."

"There is no question that Rich Rodriguez's offense, for example, would be more apt to suit Terrelle's skills," Reitz said. "But Ohio State sold him on the idea that they would prepare him for the NFL and that they don't run 'zone-read' in the NFL. Jim Tressel is a great coach. But I can tell you there is more to Terrelle Pryor than what we've been seeing."
Damn. That's some words right there. Nothing like twisting the knife after you stab every tOSU fan right in the heart.

tOSU teammate DeVier Posey:
"From his first pass, [people said] he's really not that good. But I really feel that's kind of hard for a guy like that, you know what I mean? There's only one Tim Tebow in this world and I don't really know what people want from [Pryor]," Posey said. "He's going to get better. He really can't do much worse."

"I feel like he's going to get better, he's going to be a great player. It's going to happen in time," Posey said, explaining he believes Pryor is further along than Ohio State Heisman winner Troy Smith or ex-Texas QB Vince Young were at the same stage. "And I just feel like if people are patient, and he's patient [he'll be great]. ... He's not going to be great tomorrow. But if he works on it, eventually in a year or two, or even maybe by the end of this year, he'll be a great player."
Sounds to me that Mr. Incredible has some ways to go before he's proven to be the great one that every tOSU fan has crowned him as since the minute he stepped foot on campus.

It sounds funny, but maybe Pryor picking tOSU is a blessing for the Michigan program. Right now, there's no question I'd rather have the Forcier/Robinson combo than putting all of our eggs into the Pryor basket.

I don't blame tOSU fans for being so quick to hype him up. If Pryor picks Michigan last year instead of tOSU, I'm sure I would have been just as quick to do so. But the simple fact is, he didn't pick Michigan. He picked our biggest rival. And that gives me the license to laugh and make fun of every INT he throws.

So, in light of being just shy of a complete bust, Pryor sat down with LeBron James when he was in town last night for a pre-season game in Columbus against the Boston Celtic.

LeBron:
"[I'm] trying to mentor him and get him through 'life in the spotlight,' which I've been through,"

"Being that No. 1 guy, how do you adjust to it and how do you get through it and still perform at a high level?" James said. "Sometimes it can be very difficult on [a young athlete]. I'm trying to be that guy who can really help him get through a lot of situations which he's never seen before but now he's seeing and understanding."
Even Shaq (Shaq!?) for crying out loud weighed in on the woes of Pryor's sucky sophomore season.

Shaq:
"I just want to tell the quarterback to keep his head up. I saw that they're getting on him the last two games. Keep your head up, young man, and try to get this football team back on track."
Give me a break.

We've been on efforting with the Vatican to get the Pope's words of encouragement for the embattled poor little QB. We'll keep you informed as to the latest developments.


Golden Boy speaks:

Terrelle actually spoke to media (see: answered lob-ball questions) after practice yesterday and addressed his former coach and all the allegations surrounding him and his lack of ability to thrive in the tOSU offense:

Q&A With Zombie Nation

We're crossing enemy lines this week with a Q&A session with Penn State blogger Mike from Zombie Nation. We decided to do this one home-and-home style with both of us fielding each others questions about this week's match up in Ann Arbor.

Read my responses to ZN's questions here.

Here's Mike's answers to my completely off the cuff questions. Enjoy!

MBN: Now that Penn State broke their 9 game losing streak against Michigan last season, are fans any more confident heading into this year's contest?

ZN: Fans? Probably. Me? No way. Penn State has played Michigan too many times "expecting" to win. I've fallen into that trap (read: 2005) before, and was punished in the most painful fashion. Even last season's 46-17 blowout in Beaver Stadium, Michigan went up 17-7, and had every white-clad fan crapping his pants. I wanted to throw up, then throw it at the TV screen. The Wolverines this season are a better team. They have every shot to beat Penn State, so no Lions fan should feel confident, never mind more confident than last season. Michigan finds ways to beat Penn State. Whether its by just being the better football team, or lucking out on a few plays (read: 2002, 2005), Penn State should never go into a game versus Michigan with a cocky attitude.


MBN: Penn State fans are notorious for their awesome "white outs" where every fan in the stadium wears white. How do you feel about Michigan's so-called "maize outs"?

ZN: I've seen one before (see photo) in person, and it didn't seem all that special. Now, I'm sure when the whole stadium does it, it's more impressive. Stadium crowds have been wearing team colors for decades, like Nebraska's Sea of Red. But there's something about 110,000 people wearing white. I don't believe any college football stadium did anything like that before. But hey, what most fans don't realize is that Penn State actually tried other gimmicks like the whiteout before. There was the pathetic "Code Blue" in 2004. Ever hear of it? Of course not, because it face-planted harder than Ohio State playing an SEC team in the BCS title game.





MBN: Penn State and Michigan lead the Big Ten in total offense respectively. Do you see this game being a high scoring shootout, or more of a conservative final score?

ZN: Ever hear of defense? Penn State and Michigan might be close on offense -- UM actually leads in PPG, 37-29 -- but it's not even in the same ball park defensively. Penn State is giving up 124.4 fewer yards, and 13.2 fewer points per game than UM. On top of all that, Michigan has surrendered 11 more touchdowns on defense than Penn State (5). So, to answer your question, no this will not be a shootout by any means. If anything, I expect this game to end up with 34 or so points on the board between the two teams. Now, that's not to say it will be 20-14. Penn State might end up doing what most think, and win this one somewhat comfortably. But I'm not counting on any kind of score like last season. If you want to see the difference in this game, watch how both defenses handle the opposing offenses. Whichever team can stop the other, there's your winner.

MBN: Penn State has really only been tested once this year with a tough opponent (Iowa), and lost. Do you feel that Penn State fans have a real gauge on just how good this team is and how well they can perform under pressure?

ZN: The only thing we know about Penn State is that it can beat teams it's supposed to beat. When Iowa came into Beaver Stadium, the Hawkeyes were unranked. Now, they sit at 7-0 and in the top-10. Michigan lost by two in Kinnick Stadium. Take away that pick-six by Donovan Warren, and it's a nine-point loss. Take away Iowa's blocked punt score and safety against Penn State, and the Hawks win by only two. That was the Nittany Lions' only close game this season, as all the other wins came by 18 or more points. I wouldn't say Penn State is a great team. I'm hesitant to say they're even very good at this point. I think the Nittany Lions are peaking, but we'll see if last week was it, or if there's more mountain to climb. This trip to Michigan Stadium is pretty much a turning point for Penn State. Win like they should, and I'll call the Lions a very good team. Lose, and this is just another decent team going to a mid-level bowl.

Michigan AD Bill Martin To Retire Next Year

Copy/Pasted from MGoBlue.com:

Oct. 21, 2009


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan Director of Athletics Bill Martin has announced that he will retire from his position on Sept. 4, 2010. Martin made the date official this morning (Wednesday, Oct. 21), sending a letter to U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, and then informed the athletic department staff at an all-staff meeting at Cliff Keen Arena.

Martin took over the reins as Director of Athletics officially on Aug. 1, 2000. On March 6 of the same year, he was named interim athletic director by then President Lee Bollinger, replacing Tom Goss. At that time, he was initially given a five-year appointment and announced that his first-year salary was to be donated back to the Michigan Athletic Department.

Martin was the recipient of the 2008 Bobby Dodd Athletic Director Award in recognition of his support and the development of programs that promote student-athlete welfare, helping them become well-rounded students and citizens. In April 2005, he received the United States Olympic Committee General Douglas MacArthur Award, the organization's highest award, honoring his leadership as acting president of the USOC (Feb. 2003-June 2004). He also received the 2005 Humanitarian Award from the Jewish Federation of Washtenaw County, its highest honor, and was named the 2000 Ann Arbor News Citizen of the Year for his service and contributions to the community.

An avid sailor, Martin served as president of the United States Sailing Association, the national governing body of the sport, from 1988-91. In 2003, he was awarded the Nathaniel G. Heereshoff Trophy for outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the United States.

Martin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1962 from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, and a graduate degree in economics from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, in 1963. He received his Master's in Business Administration from Michigan in 1965. Martin was a member of the board of directors of Wittenberg from 1994-2007. He and his wife, Sally, reside in Ann Arbor and have two sons, Seth and Michael. They have one grandson, William Declan, and welcomed granddaughters Cate and Reese this past summer.



Official statement from UM President Mary Sue Coleman:
This morning, Bill Martin sent me a letter announcing his intention to retire on September 4, 2010. For nearly a decade, Bill has shown truly outstanding leadership as Athletic Director at the University of Michigan. He has not only done a superb job of attracting top coaches for the full range of Michigan sports, but he has also assembled an excellent management team to oversee all aspects of athletics operations. At the same time, he has firmly established Athletics as a financially strong and self-supporting department while guiding the renovation and expansion of most of our major sports facilities.

Bill is a great partner, and it has been a joy to work with him. Although he has been interested in retiring for some time now, I am pleased that I was able to convince him to stay with us long enough to ensure that the renovation of our football stadium would be successful and on time. That end is now in clear sight. He has agreed to remain as Athletic Director until his successor is on board, at which point he will serve as a special advisor to me until retiring from the University in September.

I will personally oversee the search for the next Athletic Director with the help of a small advisory group. We expect this process will take a number of months. With this advance notice, we have the opportunity to make a thoughtful and deliberate choice and to manage a smooth transition.

Bill Martin's letter to Coleman (PDF file).

Our take:
We here at MBN would like to congratulate Martin on his success as Michigan's AD. We wish him well in his retirement.

Who Coleman decides to go with as the next AD will be very interesting. I have a feeling, Lloyd Carr's name is on a short list somewhere. Of course this decision will take a while...and will only be discussed behind heavily guarded closed doors.

Monday Night News

Just a few topics of interest this late Monday evening.

• As expected, center David Molk has been cleared to practice this week and is likely to at least be in uniform this weekend for Penn State.

• RB Brandon Minor will also likely be fine for Penn State. His status for Delaware State last weekend was a game-time scratch. Just a precautionary measure.

• Same can be said for QB Tate Forcier. At the post-game presser, Rodriguez told the media that if needed, Tate could have been good to go for the whole game.

• RB Carlos Brown was day-to-day with lingering effects of his concussion which he sustained in practice a couple weeks ago. Word is, he will be ready to go for Penn State.

• Interesting story: Delaware State had to concede a loss to fellow conference foe North Carolina A&T in order to play Michigan last weekend. Originally, NC A&T was their scheduled opponent for last weekend. But the prospect of funding their entire athletic department for the next 2 years was just too good to pass up...so they had to actually take a loss in order to play Michigan. So, technically...Delaware State lost twice last weekend. But...don't tell them that, they're counting it as a win. (Thanks to Michigan Sports Center for the link)

• Former WR James Rogers has been moved to cornerback. This is for two reasons. 1) Boubacar Cissoko messed up big time and will probably not be back in a Michigan uniform anytime soon. 2) JT Turner is going to red-shirt this season.

• This was posted on mgoblog, and then on Spawn of MZone...and now by me. This is just too good not to post. What do you get when a pissed off tOSU redneck wants to fight Terrelle Pryor, and he just happens to figure out how to turn on the video camera? Enjoy.



• And this last story is just from my experience from last week when I had a press pass to the game. After the game ended, I was down on the field taking a couple shots of Denard getting interviewed by the Big Ten Network. As I made my way up the entrance to the tunnel, I realized I was walking right in front of QB David Cone. Well, as you know, Cone had a pretty nice game. So a lot of the fans were cheering his name pretty loud as he entered the tunnel to head up to the locker room. As I glanced back to see the 6-7 QB walking behind me, I could see that he was trying so hard not to grin...but wasn't able to play it cool as the huge smile lit up his face. It was a great moment for the backup QB. One that I'm glad I got to witness.

Looking Back at Week 7 - Delaware State

Well, this game turned out as 'bout as good as it could have.

• We blew away an inferior opponent.
• We only had one turnover.
• We never punted or had to kick a field goal.
• We broke the Michigan all-time offensive yardage record for a single game
• We had no injuries
• We didn't have to use players who were nursing injuries
• We got to play every player in uniform who's not going to red-shirt.

All in all, a nice outing for the Michigan squad. You could argue that a game is not as good as a bye-week, but in this case...coming off of two straight tough losses, a big win like this exactly what the doctor ordered.

When I saw this game pop up on the schedule last year, I had my doubts...the loss to Appy State was still fresh in my memory. I was really hoping this could have remained a bye-week. But looking back at how it turned out, and doing so from my comfy chair in the press box, I can see how games like this will soon become the norm for programs like Michigan.

It really boils down to the timing of playing schools like Delaware State. Ideally, you get them early in the schedule so you can build confidence and get an easy win early. But for this young Michigan team, playing this game right smack dab in the middle of the schedule is actually the best thing we could have had happen.

I won't go much more into specifics of what this game means on a psychological level for the Michigan players. No need. This was a confidence builder...a glorified scrimmage...and nothing more.

Props to Delaware State for showing up and earning their $550,000 check. You paid for it by taking a royal beat down. The nice thing is, your athletic department can now go out and get you some uniforms that fit, and can have your names on the back of.

For Michigan, we get to throw another win up into the W-L column. We paid for it, so let's enjoy it. For your enjoyment, here's some nice inflated stats from the scrimmage:

• Total Offensive Yards: 727
• First Downs: 34
• Net Yards Rushing: 461
• Yards per Rush: 8.5
• Average Gain per Play: 10.1
• Punts: 0
• Kickoffs: 10
• Opponent 3rd Down Conversions: 1 for 15

Very nice. You won't see stats like that again for a long, long time.

You looked good Michigan. Now impress me by doing it again this weekend.

Video Clips From Saturday

Usually, we link to other people's video clips on this site. But last Saturday I was able to take some videos of my own when I was on the field for the Delaware State game. I took many videos, but these are the two that turned out the best. Enjoy!

First, we have Michigan players coming out to warm up. I was standing pretty much right under the goal posts in the north endzone. Perfect place to see everything that's going on during pre-game.


Michigan Warm-Ups from Maize & Blue Nation on Vimeo.

I tried as hard as I could to get up into the tunnel to see the band/players run out onto the field, but I got over there late and had to stand just outside the tunnel. No problem. It was just as impressive either way. This video starts late because I had to flip my camera into "video" mode after just taking a picture. I didn't expect the team to run out onto the field so fast...I was hoping they'd hang in the tunnel for a minute. Oh well.


Michigan Takes the Field from Maize & Blue Nation on Vimeo.

Amazing day. Go Blue! Beat Penn State!

My Day Inside Michigan Football

When I started this blog in 2007, I had no idea where it would take me. One of the last places I thought I would end up would have been in the Michigan press box for a game. I mean, I'm just a fan who happends to run a blog. I'm not affiliated with a professional news organization.

When I first wrote to the athletic department in the summer of 08, inquiring about the possibility of a media pass, I really didn't know the response I would receive. On one hand bloggers are basically just glorified fans who have devoted the time and energy to write to a website on a regular basis. One the other hand, more and more people are reading blogs these days. And while newspapers are dropping like flies, blogs are popping up just as fast.

The letter I received back from the media relations office was pretty interesting. The athletic department is fully aware of the blogs out there that cover Michigan football, and they're starting to notice and pay attention to the unique voice that bloggers bring to the table. And the best thing of all is, they're embracing it.

I wasn't able to cover a game from the press box last season. But this year, Bruce Madej and Dave Ablauf, who run the media relations office for the athletic department, saw it fit to grant me a media pass to cover last weekend's Delaware State game.

The day was awesome. Aside from a huge 63-6 whooping over a totally inferior opponent, the whole day felt like a blur. I tried to experience as much as I could in the time I had there. There's really no way to just describe my first foray into the media world for a major college football event. So that's why I brought along my camera.

Instead of just posting all the pics here, I've created a slideshow. The caption of each photo will describe what's going on. You can also view the slideshow in full-resolution as well as full screen via this link.



All I can say is that this was an amazing experience. I've been to a couple dozen Michigan games, but this is my first time on the other side of the ropes. It was an experience I will never forget.

Many thanks to Bruce Madej and Dave Ablauf from the media relations office for giving me this experience. I hope that it won't be my last, but either way, I enjoyed it as much as possible.

Week 7 Injury Report

OUT
  • C David Molk, foot
  • CB Zac Johnson, shoulder
PROBABLE (75 percent chance of playing)
  • QB Tate Forcier, concussion
  • RB Carlos Brown, concussion

Rick Leach Has Something To Say

Thursday morning, former Michigan QB Rick Leach called into WTKA's morning talk show "Michigan Insider" (audio link) to discuss a little something that's been on his mind. He had nothing but praise for Rodriguez and the current direction of the football squad. But he decided to went a little frustration towards former Michigan head ball coach Lloyd Carr and some other issues on his mind.

Long story short, Carr was in attendance at Iowa last weekend, and was spotted in the press box being entertained by various Iowa athletic dept. staff in a university suite.

Leach had this to say about Lloyd's appearance at Iowa (via Freep):
“I saw an article that said Lloyd Carr was at the game in Iowa. No. 1, whose ticket did he go on? Whose private box was he sitting in, and whose university staff was in the box with him?

“As far as I’m concerned, as a former player that loves this program, I love our head coach, I love what they’re trying to do — our ex-coach flipped a huge middle finger right in our current coach’s face.”
A little harsh? Maybe. I can see how this may rub some former ballers the wrong way. But I can also see how this could be just a simple act of Big Ten diplomacy by the fairly straight-forward Lloyd Carr. I mean, when I think of Lloyd, backstabber is not really the idea that comes to mind. He is an assistant athletic director. I would not be surprised nor upset to know Lloyd has a few friends at Iowa with whom he would like to share some time with. I mean, hey....Lloyd's a likable guy!


Source: EDSBS.com

However, missing from the Freep article, not surprisingly, is the other part of Leach's comments on WTKA about a possible leak inside the Michigan athletic department. There has been some bad press about Rodriguez this year, going back to practice-gate in late August, and now with the news about Michigan's football team having a highest ever overall GPA for a Michigan team, as reported by Rodriguez...and then quickly retracted after heat came from the Detroit Free Press about the voracity of the coaches claims. Leach thinks there's someone inside the department that may be feeding the press insider info...and possibly doing so with ill-intent.

This is not the first I have heard of this issue. But, like before, I have nothing definitive to support any claims, so I will keep this to myself until more substantial evidence comes to light. But having a Michigan QB legend call into a radio show with a rather large chip on his shoulder lends some credibility to this issue.

This is probably not the last time we'll discuss this topic here.

My Social Media Experiment

As mentioned yesterday, I have been given a media pass to cover this weekend's game against Delaware State. This is an awesome opportunity that I plan on enjoying as much as possible, because who knows if I will ever be able to do this again.

So, in an effort to share the experience as much as I can, I will be Twittering and Facebooking like crazy. Are those even real words? I don't care. I'll be doing it anyway.

How can you share in this with me, just follow me on Twitter and Facebook...and then check in with me on gameday to see all the action. Is this total shameless self-promotion? Of course. But I like to think of it more as a social media experiment.

Usually my Twitter feed and Facebook page just echo what is posted here on my blog. But this Saturday, I will be posting via social media exclusively. I plan on uploading photos I take to my Facebook page, and throughout the game posting my status via Twitter.

So why not just post to my blog like usual during the game? Because I don't plan on taking a laptop. I'll just have my smart phone and a digital camera that shoots photos and video. It's a risk to not have a laptop...especially since the life of this site relies on a computer with a WIFI connection. But my plan is to be as mobile as I can, and posting status updates and photos as they happen

It should be a fun day...so why not join in and share in the excitement? Follow us today!

Former Wolverines Shine on MNF


Photo: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention at least something about the unbelievable game played last night on Monday Night Football. We're not usually big fans of pro football here at MBN, but when a former winged-helmet goes on the league and has a huge game on Monday night, we must take notice.

Henne was 20/26 for 241 yards and 2 TDs. And more importantly, no INTs. His passer rating was a very nice 130.4.

I actually watched much of the game...which is a first for me on a Monday night. And for good reason...there were former Wolverines all over the field. For the New York football Jets, we had newcomer and former Cleveland Brown Braylon Edwards. Braylon had 5 catched for 64 yards and a TD. He almost had two TDs, but he was ruled down at the one yard-line. So it was a nice outing for Edwards as well.

Also on the field for the J-E-T-S, LB David Harris finished with 7 tackles, and kicker Jay Feely knocked in two field goals.

For the Dolphins, starting along-side Henne, was former All-American OL Jake Long. Long did not allow a sack in the game, and kept the left side of the line secure for Henne...just like in the old'n days!

New Big Ten Bowl Deal Announced Today

Later today, the Big Ten will announce a new agreement for its post-season bowls. Via ESPN's Adam Rittenberg. They are as follows:

• #1 - Rose Bowl (vs Pac-10)
• #2 - Capital One Bowl (vs SEC)
• #3 - Outback Bowl (vs SEC)
• #4 - Gator Bowl (vs SEC*)
• #5 - Insight Bowl (vs Big 12)
• #6 - Texas Bowl (vs Big 12)
• #7 - Cotton Bowl** (vs Big 12/C-USA)
• #8 - Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (vs MAC)

So, this gives the Big Ten, which has struggled lately in bowl games, another bowl game. This agreement is expected to last until 2014. It was take effect next year, and will not impact bowl games for this season.

It should also be noted that if the Big Ten #1 team is accepted into the BCS Championship game, or  the #2 team receives a BCS at-large bid, that the Big Ten could, conceivably, have 9 teams playing in bowl games as long as we have 9 teams with at least a .500 record. In the national championship scenario, it isn't certain that the #2 team would automatically receive a bid to play in the Rose Bowl, so a Big Ten team in the national title game might not alter the rest of the bowl lineups.

Howeva!

If the #1 team goes to the Rose Bowl, and the #2 team receives an at-large bid to another BCS game, then the rest of the Big Ten teams would be bumped up a notch. So, for example, the #3 Big Ten squad would end up in the Capital One Bowl.

*- ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reported that this game would be played against an ACC opponent. Later, it was corrected to an SEC matchup.

**- The Cotton Bowl is where this game will be played, and is not necessarily the name of the bowl game itself. This game would feature a match up against either a Big 12 team or Conference USA.

The #4 and #5 bowls (Gator and Insight) will alternate each year between the 4th and 5th position.

All In for Delaware State

So, ok. We lost to Iowa. It was a tough one. We made some pretty lousy mistakes, but in many ways, we looked remarkably better than we did a week before at MSU. We ran the ball better...without Carlos Brown I might add. We defended the run better. We defended the pass better. We moved the ball when we weren't turning it over. All in all, I have to say that I am somewhat pleased with what I saw Saturday night. I also think many many teams would not have fared as well as we did in that hostile environment.

But I was also disappointed with some things I saw. Namely, 5 turnovers.

There's no excuse. You just can't turn the ball over like that without losing the game. Iowa is just too good for that.

So moving forward, all we can do is learn from those mistakes and beat the crap out of Delaware State.

Here's some of the headlines heading out of the Iowa game:

• Tate Forcier sustained what is being called a "minor" concussion on his last play of the Iowa game. But if anyone saw 60 Minutes last night, there really ain't such a thing as a minor blow to the brain. This is tough news for any Michigan fan to hear. We all remember how much Sam McGuffie was roughed up last year...we need to take better care of our QBs.

Tate will start this week, but expect to see a lot of Denard Robinson. And maybe...just maybe, a hint of Sheridan sprinkled in.

• OL David Molk is expected to still be out this week, which means Moosman will continue to start at center. The OL really gelled last week as Michigan re-established its running game.

• No word from Rodriguez about the status of Carlos Brown. It is likely that any player which so much as a hang-nail this week will be given the opportunity to rest and rehab any nagging injuries. Expect to see lots of Brandon Minor who is getting closer and closer to 100%, Kevin Grady, Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith.

• Defensively, Boubacar Cissoko is still on the bad list with Rodriguez. He has been demoted to the scout team in practice...and is suspended from games until he "does what we knows he has to do", according to Rodriguez. Word is, his suspension is largely academic related.

• Supreme ruler of space, Zoltan Mesko is your special teams player of the week this week. Mesko boomed 5 punts for a total of 269 yards (53.8 yard average).

• In the secondary, it looks like Woolfolk will stay at corner after a pretty good outing at Iowa. He was tested a few times, although not as much as Warren, but both did pretty well. Kovacs is now the strong safety, which puts Williams at free safety...and Stevie Brown as the roving outside linebacker/safety.

More news as this week unfolds. Hopefully the shoulder and concussion of Tate Forcier heal quickly and he's not too banged up to come out this weekend and redeem himself against a helpless Div. 1-AA opponent.

You could make the argument that Michigan will be looking ahead to Penn State next weekend (3:30PM kickoff on ABC), but I don't think they will. Losing two in a row will give this squad some much needed focus. It's time to get everyone back on the same page and playing good football again.

AND...this week is extra special because MBN has been granted a press pass for the game this weekend! Yep, this Saturday I'll be down on the sidelines and up in the press box in the Big House. It's yet another step for bloggers everywhere towards gaining some level of respectability among the mainstream media. Sure, we're not professionals, I do other things for a living...but more and more people are coming to blogs for a different perspective of what the conventional media will give them.

I really won't have a whole lot of "insider" info to post other than what I will see and experience on gameday, so the real fun stuff won't be coming until probably late Saturday/Sunday. But expect a ton of info about the experience of being a media member for a day and a lot of pictures/video to go along with it.

Many, many thanks to Bruce Madej and his staff at the media relations office for this opportunity.

Go Blue!

5 Turnovers and We Only Lost by 2?

A few very premature thoughts about tonight's loss to Iowa.

• Obviously, you can't turn the ball over 5 times against a team like Iowa on the road and expect to win. I give the defense all the credit in this game for keeping Iowa to only 30 points. We kept putting the defense in terrible situations with offensive and special team's turnovers, and for the most part, they responded well.

• The goal-line stand was awesome.

• Brandon Minor is a stud running the ball. Why Rodriguez didn't go to him more tonight is a question I am eager to hear the answer to. Our o-line was dominating Iowa's defensive front. Holes were there and Minor, when they gave him the ball, ran with a toughness that this offense desperately needs.

• On that note...Why, when your senior running back is having a great game and your line is run blocking well, does Rodriguez feel the need to put game-changing plays into the hands of a freshman QB who's clearly rattled on the road. Our 3rd to last drive of the game with something like 7 or 8 minutes left, Tate was running plays like we were in desperation mode.

• Our secondary is looking better with Woolfolk at corner than with Cissoko or Floyd. He and Warren were tested a few times in this game and both looked up to the task.

• Run defense was outstanding in the first half, and pretty good in the second.

• I really liked Greg Robinson's game plan of putting 8 or 9 guys in the box on 1st and 2nd downs. That seemed to get good pressure on Iowa.

• And of course, I have to question putting Denard Robinson for the last drive of the game. He did a great job giving Michigan the spark they needed to make it a close game. But you have to go with your tested and proven clutch QB in a close game like that with very little time left on the clock.

Tate did it against Notre Dame, Indiana, and Michigan State. Sure, he was not having the best game, but you give him that chance when all he has done is prove to you that he was born for situations like this.

Much more to come on this one.

What to Know for Week 6

Quick notes on this really wet and ugly Friday. My apologies as this has been a particularly busy week...so allow me to dump all of the news on you in one post.

• Tomorrow's game versus Iowa will air live at 8PM EST on ABC. This will be Michigan's 2nd nationally televised game of the season. Week 2 against ND was the first. The TV audience should be huge, but Michigan-Iowa is competing up against Florida-LSU which will air at the same time on CBS.

• Weather forecasts are saying there might be a chance of rain in the afternoon, but by gametime, things should be dry. But it's going to be chilly. Forecast for 8PM is looking like partly cloudy and around 40 degrees. Winds around 5-10 mph. Via accuweather.com.

• Brandon Minor practiced fully this week and should be a go for tomorrow night.

• Carlos Brown had limited (or none) reps due to a concussion suffered in practice this week. He was not on the injury report, so I expect him to be in uniform, although Minor and Shaw will probably see the bulk of the carries as Michigan really tries to establish a ground game.

• David Molk is still on the injury list this week. Word is he is progressing well with his broken foot, and should see his way back onto the field hopefully for Penn State two weeks from now. For now, David Moosman is still filling in at center.

• The revolving door of cornerbacks opposite Donovan Warren seems to be in full motion as now Troy Woolfolk is getting some practice time at his old position at the corner. Taking Troy's spot at safety is Mike Williams and former walk-on turned defensive stud Jordan Kovacs.

• And finally, for now...in case you missed the broadcast of Inside Michigan Football, the wonder that is Hulu has you covered. You can also catch many other Big Ten coaches shows via the popular video streaming site.

Like a Freight Train, Man!

Thanks to MVictors (and also Spawn and mgoblog) for posting maybe the best highlight of the Michigan State game.



"Choo choo...choo choo baby!"

Watch ESPN's E:60 Tonight

A special story on Michigan lineman Elliot Mealer will air tonight on E:60, the 60 Minutes-like program on ESPN. E:60 will air at 7PM EST.


Looking Back at Week 5: Michigan State

For 3 1/2 quarters on Saturday, Michigan State had the answer for Michigan's explosive offense...keep them off the field as much as possible. Well, that might not have been their ultimate intention, but Michigan's inability to stop any sort of 3rd down situation in the first half made the time of possession one of the key elements why our offense was never able to get into a rhythm.

MSU had the ball for close to 40 minutes. Michigan had the ball about half of that.

You could say that Michigan's youth was exposed...but I disagree. You could also say that Michigan was not ready for their first road test in a hostile environment, but I disagree. MSU had 8 penalties for 94 yards...while Michigan just had 2 for 15. Early on, Michigan's defense had every opportunity to stop MSU's offense...but just couldn't. Sparty's second drive of the game started at the Michigan State 20 yard line. It took them just 6 plays that didn't have a penalty...and lasted 10:02.

In the first quarter, Michigan ran 6 plays for a total of 0 yards.

And while I think that Zoltan's choice to try and run for the 1 yard on the fake punt was not necessarily a terrible decision...Michigan made way more costly mistakes throughout the day than the failed fake punt. That only cost us 3 points. Michigan's awful tackling cost us way more.

But I will not hesitate to give credit where credit is due...and that goes to Michigan State. They played an inspired game. Clearly, their players just wanted it more...at least for 3 1/2 quarters. Dantonio sucks at pretty much everything, but one thing he can do is prepare his players for this game. Sure, he'll get dismantled by Illinois this weekend...but a win against UofM in East Lansing is enough to keep the heretics happy until basketball season starts.

I would be re-missed if I didn't mention something about Tate Forcier leading Michigan 92 yards down the field in a driving rain storm with no timeouts to tie the game with 2 seconds left. This is the stuff legends are made of. For all of the freshman mistakes he made on Saturday, he more than made up for in the second 1/2 of the 4th quarter.

You can not imagine a tougher situation for a freshman QB. He's in a very hostile stadium. Its pouring rain. No timeouts. And you have 2:53 to drive 92 yards to tie the game with a touchdown. At the end of the drive, he was spent. He got lucky when he lobbed a pass into the end zone that fell harmlessly to the ground. But his pass to Roy Roundtree in the back of the end zone was a thing of beauty.

Overtime was just not in the cards for Michigan. We had the momentum, but our luck ran out with the rain drops in the 4th quarter. As soon as the sun came out in overtime, Michigan flopped.

Again, all the credit goes to Sparty in this one. Tate led Michigan back to at least make it interesting, and when things looked their bleakest midway through the 4th quarter, that's about all we could ask for. I myself has pretty much given up on this game at that point...but Michigan battled back and showed us what makes this squad so special.

Sure, we made a ton of mistakes...on both sides of the ball. But in the end, this Michigan squad made me proud with their effort and unwillingness to give up. Lessons from the game will serve us well in Iowa City this weekend...and the rest of the season.

Week 5 Injury Report

University of Michigan Football Injury Report

For the Michigan State Game (Saturday, Oct. 3)

Out

Zac Johnson (shoulder)

David Molk (foot)

Probable (75% chance of playing)

Mike Williams (ankle)

Um...no Tate Forcier on this list? Looks like Mike Hart ain't the only one who likes to mess with little brother's head.

4 weeks into the season and this is what our injury list looks like? I'll take it. Sure, guys might be a little dinged up...such as Forcier. And we do know that Brandon Minor is playing with half a foot right now...but still. This is good.

Sparty YouTube Fun

Mark Dantonio discusses how proud he is of his current 1-3 record, and takes shot at Michigan's 2008 record:


Mike Hart calls Michigan State "Little Brother" after beating them in 2007:


Mark Dantonio's historic presser after losing to Michigan in 2007:


And this one's just for fun because we miss the crazy little guy:

3 Steps to Victory, A Recipe for Beating MSU

I'm going to keep this simple. I think Michigan can beat little brother this weekend if we simply do three things:

• Win the turnover battle
• Tackle better
• No defensive penalties

If we do those things, there is no way Sparty can beat us. The only team on the field this weekend that can keep us from winning is Michigan. We almost lost to Indiana because of self-destruction. We killed ourselves by giving up massive yardage in bad penalties and missed tackles.

Our offense is going to score huge amounts of points against a very weak MSU defense. They have never seen a Michigan offense like this. Just as long as our defense can keep the mistakes to a minimum, that's all its going to take to win this game. I hope that it doesn't turn out to be a shootout like the Indiana game did. And I think part of that might have been lack of focus by the players because of this looming in-state rivalry the following week. I mean, lets face it, who gets pumped to play Indiana anyway?

And that's it. It's that simple. Tate's arm is going to be fine...that concern seems to have been put to rest after news that he participated in full practice this week. And even if he's only say...80%, we still have Denard who will literally run circles around the MSU defense while Tate gets breather on the bench. Our offense will roll with either QB at the helm.

I think Rodriguez will have these guys pumped for their first road test of the season. There could be a drive or two in the beginning of the game where our young guys look a little tense...that's to be expected. So I think it will come down to guys like Minor, Brown and Matthews to help calm the nerves of our young QB and receivers. Like I said, our biggest opponent this weekend is ourselves.

I want nothing more than to see the famous SOS (Same Old Sparty) this weekend. However, usually their season tanks after Michigan beats them. Looks like they're just getting a little head start this year.

Here's to 1-4 little brah! And most importantly, 5-0!

Cheers! And GO BLUE!