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Stadium and Main: September 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

Minnesota game linkfest

General info:

#6 Michigan (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) @ Minnesota (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten)
Game Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern
Game Location: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
Television Coverage: Nationwide on ESPN. HD broadcast in 720p on ESPNHD.
Local Ann Arbor Area Radio Coverage: WOMC-FM (104.3), CKLW-AM (800), WTKA-AM (1050)
Radio Coverage for those attending (yes, inside the Metrodome): 103.1 FM (part of a new road game radio deal)
Satellite Radio Coverage: Sirius Satellite Radio – Channel 123 (Michigan announcers)
Other Radio Affiliates: Click here
Line: The line started out at Michigan by 6.5 and moved to Michigan by 8.5 within the first day. Up to Michigan by 9.5 on Wednesday, and has stayed near there.

Related stuff: ”Game Notes,” including Depth Chart (PDF) Press conference quotes: Lloyd Carr; Players Manningham Repeats as Big Ten Player of the Week

Detroit News: Michigan: Keys to the game

Detroit News: U-M stays mum on revenge factor

Detroit News: Arrington quietly becoming a factor

Detroit News: Manningham likes TDs better than attention

Detroit News: Jamison finally gets aggressive

Detroit Free Press: Jug carries weight for U-M’s Carr

Detroit Free Press: Branch is big trouble for U-M’s opponents

Detroit Free Press: Multiple choice test

Michigan Daily: 'M' should breeze past Gophers

Michigan Daily: Varsity thirsty for Brown Jug

Michigan Daily: Major issues (Drum Major DRAMA (not really football, but whatever))

Michigan Daily: Blue tackle big on speed, power (more on Branch)

Ann Arbor News: Equipment manager back where he belongs Minnesota Message Board Minnesota Message Board

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Are things going too smoothly?

Over the past few days, I think I’ve seen too much. Too much “this is a National Championship Defense.” Too much “the OSU game could be a ‘Game of the Century’ scenario.” Too many mind-boggling stats. I think we need to tone it down – just a bit.

I’m not sure where I'm at, mentally (insert Nick is insane joke here). I’m definitely not ready to call this a “title run,” or even a “potential title run.” And I’m sure that plenty of others are equally hesitant. Dave says “you may almost begin to believe.” Brian says “Lucy, I am ready to kick the football.”

But one thing is different for me this year – I’m not very nervous. I’m not dreading anything, which is saying something (for me). When we were tied with Wisconsin in the 3rd Quarter, I wasn’t nervous. When the Defense is on the field, I’m not nervous. When I think about the next few games, I’m not nervous (OK, maybe except for the night game at PSU). Maybe it’s because Mike Hart is healthy, or because Jim Herrmann is nowhere to be seen on the sidelines. Maybe it’s because Mario can go deep whenever he wants, and we appear to be trying to get it to him. Or maybe it’s because the pressure isn’t on us... yet. I’m just not that concerned, and I hope the team isn’t, either. If they continue to play aggressively, we can make some noise. If you see anything that reminds you of the bad parts of 2005 (and there were quite a few), start to worry. Until then, let’s just relax and take it one game at a time.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Detroit is Hockeytown Tigers Town

Pinch me.

The Detroit Tigers are in the MLB Playoffs .

A handful of friends asked throughout the summer, "why haven’t you posted anything about the Tigers?" Simply put, I didn’t want to jinx them. I’m very superstitious, and I’ve seen too many collapses down the stretch in baseball. In fact, while the Tigers definitely deserve a playoff spot, and could finish with the #1 seed in the AL, they were pushed hard by both the Twins and the White Sox. But they made it, and I’ll take it – even if they end up with the Wild Card and lose in the first round.

What a huge season this was, not only for the team, but for the city of Detroit. After playoff disappointments from the Pistons and Red Wings, and the hilarity that is the Detroit Lions, the Tigers gave us something great this season. I’m no baseball expert, so I’ll leave the analysis to others. In fact, I know so little about baseball that the only reason I knew Verlander was a dawg is because my "neighbor" at work used to date him. He’s from Goochland, VA. Goochland?!

Anyway, this one’s for Matt S., Jake, Dieterface, Craig Boez, and everybody else that was a fan before 2006. Just like the ND game a few weeks back, stuff like this doesn’t happen every day. Enjoy it. TIGERS!!... PLAYOFFS!!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

"That’s. Why. You’re. Michigan. State."

What a classic quote by ESPN Gameday host Chris Fowler, when he said he had "five words to describe" the unbelievable Spartan flop against Notre Dame. I know this is a Michigan blog, but that game was too funny to not mention. Now we’ve gotta endure yet another Notre Dame "Return to Glory" – they’re back, people!! Gimme a break.

I must admit that I’m pretty mad that State lost. First, because this is similar to 1997 – where State could have set up a HUGE game against Michigan, but lost to Northwestern(?!) the week before. Having both teams undefeated is a rarity, and would have been nice. Second, because this loss does not make MSU more vulnerable – it makes them more dangerous. They went into shut-down mode on Offense after gaining a 3-score lead, and it cost them. If they get any sort of lead on us, they won’t make that mistake again. Also, State traditionally doesn’t play well when the pressure is on. If they came in undefeated, they would be tighter than we’ve seen them in a while. But now, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I don’t like it.

Now on to our game against Wisconsin:

- Henne appears to really trust Manningham – almost to a fault in this game. Manningham’s first TD could have been intercepted if the CB turned around and made a play on the ball. And Henne’s second INT was just a bad read. Manningham is very good, but he’s not a Braylon “jump ball” kind of guy. That being said, I’m totally fine with Henne throwing it up there when Mario is covered. We have to go deep multiple times per game if we want to have a good/great season. INTs are the price we will pay.

- 3rd Down is clearly a problem. It might not be as bad against weaker Defenses, but it might be worse against teams like Iowa and OSU. It seems like we have a great deal of trouble pass-protecting when teams know we will pass. This year, we’ve already seen a handful of Henne sacks and Henne runs out of bounds for 2 yards on 3rd and long. This was a more obvious issue against a Wisconsin team with a decent DL and LB corps. And on 3rd and short, the power runs up the middle (with Grady or Hart) just aren't cutting it on a consistent basis. I'm slightly concerned.

- The “leg twist” by the Wisconsin tackler on Breaston was ridiculous. I find it odd that we probably won’t hear about it again. We heard about the “choke job” (no, not Michigan State style) that the Ohio State LB gave to a Badger QB in 2003 for weeks. Granted, that player had to leave the game whereas Breaston seems fine. But how many season-ending injuries are the result of a choke… in the history of football? Zero? One? How many torn/strained ACLs and MCLs do we hear about every year? 519? My point is that while the choke was abhorrent, pretzeling somebody’s leg is probably the most dangerous/cruel/cheap thing you can do on the football field. To make matters worse, people at the game said that the guy got up and celebrated after he saw Breaston in pain, and then made hand motions to the Wisconsin sideline to the effect of “he’s out.” That player needs to be punished, and I’m not talking about running extra laps after practice or something dumb.

- Kickoff coverage has been much better the past 2 weeks. True Freshman Steve Brown (#30, if you’re wondering) has been exceptional. On punt returns, it was nice to see Breaston make some moves.

- More missed tackles in this game than the first three. We had a few plays sniffed out, but missed the initial hit. That needs to be an aberration, or else we might as well bring Herrmann back.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wisconsin game linkfest

For those going, remember to wear maize.

General info:

Wisconsin (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) @ #6 Michigan (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Game Time: 12:00 Noon Eastern
Weather forecast - High of 73, 50% chance of showers during the game.
Television Coverage: Nationwide on ESPN. HD broadcast in 720p on ESPNHD.
Local Ann Arbor Area Radio Coverage: WOMC-FM (104.3), CKLW-AM (800), WTKA-AM (1050)
Satellite Radio Coverage: Sirius Satellite Radio – Channels 158 (Michigan announcers)
Other Radio Affiliates: Click here
Line: The line started out at Michigan by 14.5 and has moved to Michigan by 13.5, on most books

Related stuff: ”Game Notes,” including Depth Chart (PDF) Manningham, Burgess Receive Big Ten Weekly Awards Press conference quotes: Players ; Lloyd Carr

Detroit News: New position suits Trent fine

Detroit News: Move to fullback good for Oluigbo

Michigan Daily: Through thick and thin (Leon Hall’s story)

Michigan Daily: Varsity hopes to avoid slip-up against Badgers

Michigan Daily: Secondary support

Detroit Free Press: U-M, Ohio State back in control

Detroit Free Press: Carr warns Wolverines against letdown

Detroit Free Press: LB Burgess blossoming

Detroit Free Press: Blazing fast U-M corner learning on the job (more on Trent)

Ann Arbor News: Trent at home in the spotlight (even more Trent!)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Michigan likely to run between the Tackles Wisconsin Message Board Wisconsin Message Board

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This will never get old

Even more Notre Dame game stuff. Sure, it will have to stop some time before Saturday, but not yet!

Jake says “Lloydball plus risks” is what it’s all about. ESPN’s Page 2 says “R.I.P. Weis’ sanctity.” And even though you’ve probably seen this already, I’ll paste it before it scrolls off into message board oblivion:
Notre Dame Propelled Into BCS Contention

With a commanding loss to now sixth-ranked Michigan on Saturday, Notre Dame has asserted itself as a front runner for another coveted at-large berth in a BCS bowl.

“As we demonstrated last year, nothing impresses the BCS computers and bowl selection committees like losses to top 10 teams,” pointed out an exuberant Charlie Weis on Sunday. “It is early in the season yet, but we are putting ourselves in an excellent position to control our own destiny.”

Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl bid last year was fueled by a close loss to top-ranked USC as well as a second loss to 5-6 Michigan State. Does Coach Weis believe that a second loss is needed this year as well to secure a top bowl?

“Absolutely,” asserted the coach, “Last year, even with the two losses, some said we didn’t deserve the bid. We have felt from the outset that if we could simply upgrade our two losses to only top-10 teams, we would be a shoo-in for the BCS again.”

Fighting Irish faithful already have November 25th circled on their calendar as the best opportunity for a loss to a top team, as Notre Dame will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC to close the regular season.

“You never want to look past any teams,” admitted quarterback Brady Quinn, “But when I look at the way the schedule is playing out, I get goosebumps. If Michigan and USC both simply win out, we could end the season with losses to two top five teams. We don’t want to jinx ourselves, but we are all thinking national championship. If one loss to a highly ranked team qualified us for the Fiesta Bowl last year, we are incredibly excited to see where two top-five losses will take us.”

Some critics have questioned Weis’s strategy for losing big games, pointing out how other successful coaches have won championships by actually winning games. But Weis laughs it off.

“That’s just not my style. Anyone can win the games. But only a program with the stature of Notre Dame can rise in the polls and in the opinions of pundits by losing with the kind of flair and style that we bring. That is my goal and will continue to be as long as I am head coach.”
Sad thing is, this is probably what will happen. A loss to Michigan at the beginning of the year, a loss to USC at the end, and a BCS Bowl. Let's hope they are the ones that get stuck playing TCU.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Looking back, ahead

Michigan’s 2006 schedule can probably be described, chronologically, as follows:
2 warm-up games against opponents that are better then their records indicate
(Vanderbilt, Central Michigan)
3 games where “we” want to get revenge on “them”
(@ Notre Dame, Wisconsin, @ Minnesota)
3 games where “they” want to get revenge on “us”
(MSU, @ PSU, Iowa)
3 games against really bad teams
(Northwestern, Ball State, @ Indiana)
1 “The Game”
(@ Ohio State)
The win against Notre Dame becomes bigger and bigger, in hindsight. Preseason pessimists, including myself, were all “too many tough road games,” “no chance at ND,” blah, blah, blah. Well, one down, two to go. At Ohio State will be insane, and at PSU will be a huge challenge (even if PSU is down this year). At Minnesota is very winnable, and a distant third “road test” to the OSU and PSU games.

So it is clear that the 5-game stretch that we are about to hit will make or break the season. Nothing profound in that statement – just saying that if we go 3-2, we’re back to “Lllloyd” and all of that crap. One thing I find comforting is that we have 3 of the 5 at home, and one of the road games is ours for the taking. I’m not thinking “National Title or bust,” I’m thinking “BCS game.” In years when we have a roster loaded with talented upperclassmen, a BCS game has to be the minimum goal. Especially considering that (1) the BCS has added a 5th Bowl, starting this year, and (2) the Big Ten doesn’t have to play a Conference Championship Game, and has gotten 2 teams into the BCS multiple times.

Everybody seems to be reevaluating their expectations, and I’m all for that. I’m just not gonna jump on the National Title bandwagon yet. I’ve been burned before, particularly in 1999 and 2003. At least we don’t have to go to Oregon this weekend.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thoughts on Week 3 of CFB

What a great weekend it was...

- Some more Notre Dame notes, as these things just keep popping into my head. Wasn’t it sweet how the announcers were talking about Jerome Bettis coming back to campus for the first time in forever, and showing the highlights of the ND Pep Rally at the beginning of the game… and then at the end, they were all like “there just really wasn’t much buzz about this game like there was last week.” No guys… there was buzz, but Michigan was the Buzzkill (classic MTV show!!).

- And don't miss this stuff: LL(!) and some idiots.

- The Big 12 is horrible. Horrible. Nebraska is probably improved, but didn’t look that great in a loss at USC. Oklahoma kinda got the shaft from the refs, but it was a major choke job at Oregon (hmmm… why does that sound familiar?). Texas could be the worst Top 10 team ever. They showed me nothing against Ohio State, and have remained high in the polls due to (1) preseason ranking, and (2) a bevy of losses by other preseason Top 15 teams. Meanwhile, Texas A&M needed a goal line stand to beat... Army. Colorado has lost 7 straight. And thanks for nothing, Texas Tech – losers against TCU, who will probably run the table and end up playing Michigan in a BCS bowl. Great.

- Consider this nightmare scenario: Notre Dame wins out, and Michigan wins out but loses its last game at Ohio State. Ohio State plays Notre Dame for the BCS Championship. Despite the whoopin’. Fair? Well, ND would have what would probably be an impressive win at USC. But ND’s schedule isn’t that tough, and Michigan obliterated them in South Bend. This is just another case of “it matters when you lose.” Sure, we would have already had our “shot” at Ohio State, but would ND deserve one in that situation, or should we get another one? Don’t think I’m crazy here – a similar situation happened in 1996, when Florida got a second shot at #1 FSU, and made the most of it to win the National Title.

- Best 0-3 team in the country? Vandy!! They weren’t that bad against us, and they could have (and possibly should have) beaten Alabama on the road and Arkansas at home. I’m rooting for them the rest of the year, no doubt.

- If the Big 12 is horrible, the ACC is merely terrible. Western Michigan beat Virginia. Southern Miss over N.C. State. Both of those turds are now 1-2, after other bad losses in previous weeks. Miami just isn’t Miami anymore, after getting destroyed by Louisville. And you thought Michigan fans were tough on Lloyd? A fan had to be restrained after the game, when he ran after the Miami A.D. to demand Larry Coker’s head on a platter. The best part is that this was a road game, so it was probably a rich alumnus – not some drunk guy in a Dwyane Wade jersey.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Notre Dame game - Reliving the beauty

There is a God.  And He hates Notre Dame.
I'm still pretty much speechless. But I don't have to speak, I just have to type. Some thoughts on the game:

- Burgess pick-six! Finally, we get a bounce that goes our way in South Bend. More bounces came later, but this made me think "this could be our day... maybe."

- Henne's INT. Talk about deflation. I really thought we were doomed. I'm not sure what happened here. Lloyd said post-game that ND had a different Defense than they were expecting on that play. Henne appeared to be consulting with Manningham on the sidelines after the pick. Was it Mario's fault? In hindsight, who cares? 47-21!!!

- ND had zero (as in ZERO) first downs in the 1st and 3rd Quarters. Seriously? Sure tackling (finally!) helped make that possible. Quite a few short gains by the Irish that were stopped 2 or 3 yards in front of the sticks thanks to some quality fundamentals. It's a game of inches, as they say.

- ND got the benefit of a few bad calls. A 3rd Quarter swing pass to Darius Walker was a lateral, but the ref ruled it incomplete. And don't even get me started about the crap calls that led to ND's third and final touchdown. Somewhat related - It was hilarious to hear the ND crowd boo and whine for calls. Quite a sense of entitlement, no?

- Henne ripped it up. Did you see him stand in the pocket and take that one hit? I don't even care that the pass was incomplete, I'm just glad he manned up. TONS of credit to Henne for not freaking out after the INT. 3 perfect TDs to Manningham, and a handful of great 3rd down throws.

- So many others that deserve praise, but I'm too excited/drained to think straight about it: Crable, Hart, the DL, the punters, kick coverage, and on and on...

Games like this come along once in a blue moon, so enjoy it. After the debacle that was 2005, I think it's fair to say that we deserve it, and the players and coaches definitely do.

BTW, we're up to #6 in both polls. Oh, and check out Lloyd taking a bath (not literally).

As I type this, it is 3:33 a.m.

We destroyed Notre Dame. That was awesome. We are Michigan. Memo to all of College Football: We are MICHIGAN.

Finally.... we are Michigan.

Hail to the Victors! Go Blue!!!!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Notre Dame game linkfest

General info:

#11 / #13 Michigan (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) @ #2 / #3 Notre Dame (2-0)
Game Time: 3:30 p.m. Eastern
Weather forecast - Approaching 80 degrees, Sunny
Television Coverage: Nationwide on NBC. HD broadcast in 1080i on NBC HD.
Local Ann Arbor Area Radio Coverage: WOMC-FM (104.3), CKLW-AM (800), WTKA-AM (1050)
Satellite Radio Coverage: Sirius Satellite Radio – Channels 143 (Michigan announcers) and 155 (ND announcers)
Other Radio Affiliates: Click here
Line: The line started out at Notre Dame by 8, moved to ND by 5.5, and is currently (Thursday afternoon) at ND by 6 or 6.5 (depending on the book). There has been quite a bit of movement “towards” Michigan. Also note that many bet-tracker sites show that most people betting on the game are taking Notre Dame. This means that the “average Joe” is putting a few bucks on Notre Dame, but the big-money “experts” are putting lots of money on Michigan, causing the line to shift towards Michigan. This was especially true on Wednesday, when the line went to ND by 5.5. Of course, this means absolutely nothing, but I found it interesting.

Related stuff:

On Friday, ESPN Classic will show some Michigan victories (for once) – 1991 Michigan vs. ND, 10:00 a.m. Eastern (one hour, condensed highlights); 1999 Michigan vs. ND, 5:00 p.m. Eastern (two hours, condensed game) Wolverines look to make a statement against the Irish ”Game Notes,” including Depth Chart (PDF)

Detroit News: Handling the hard road (Great read on Leon Hall)

Detroit News: Ugly streaks (re: Road openers and Notre Dame)

Detroit News: Hart wants to dominate the Irish

Detroit News: Irish game is larger than life

Detroit Free Press: U-M doesn’t downplay Irish

Detroit Free Press: Teammates pick up blitz of criticism for QB Henne

Detroit Free Press: Punter to kick it, stick it to Irish (Ross Ryan article)

Detroit Free Press: U-M center Bihl plans to trade pads for overalls

Chicago Tribune: Leaner? Fitter? Of course (Michigan’s off-season training) ND Message Board ND Message Board

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thoughts on the ND game

Disorganized, disheveled, and disturbing, as usual...

- Is Michigan gonna take the ball first if it wins the toss? For the first time in what seems like forever, Michigan won the toss last week against CMU and elected to take the ball first. The vast majority of the time, Michigan will defer until the 2nd Half, and take the ball then. Will Lloyd want the first chance to score against ND? Might be a good idea, seeing that if ND goes up 7-0, our mentality will change (like it or not). If we go up 7-0, our mentality will also change (in a good way).

- How much will we throw deep and/or over the middle? I fear that we will be able to run the ball on ND, and therefore we won’t try anything too fancy in the passing game. Against a team with suspect CBs, it would be crazy to not run Breaston and Manningham deep a few times. On a related note, let me ask you this – When was the last time you saw Henne stand in the pocket, know that the rush is coming, step into a pass, get drilled, and complete the pass? Ever? If so, I missed it. Henne is too jittery back there. At the first sign of trouble, he’s running. Most times it is unsuccessful, but every once in a while he can get us 6 yards or so. Regardless, I don’t like it. “Insiders” and “experts” have criticized Henne for checking down to his other receivers, not giving his primary WRs enough time to get open, and having poor mechanics. I’m surprised that more people don’t question his pocket presence, because I think this could be the root of many of his other problems. Henne needs to man up, take a step up, make the tough throw, and get us a first down on 3rd and 12 when ND is blitzing. If he can’t, our chances of victory decrease exponentially, in my opinion.

- Can the right side of our OL hold up? Jake Long and Adam Kraus are solid on the left. Rueben Riley and Alex Mitchell kinda aren’t on the right. This has been discussed by others ad nauseam, and (surprise!) is making me nauseas. I have nightmares of Riley getting smoked by quality ND DE Victor Abiamari, leaving Henne as a sitting duck. And I’ve already discussed how I think Henne handles a rush...

- Will our DL continue to get a good push without consistent blitzes? Woodley and Biggs have been really good. Alan Branch has been quiet, but he gets double-teamed a bit. Terrance Taylor got a big push up the middle a few times last week and blew up some running plays – a pleasant surprise. If they can keep it up, we’ve got a shot of holding ND in the 20’s. Reasons for optimism: ND has given up 5 total sacks in its first 2 games, so we’ll probably get a few. Also, ND starts True Freshman Sam Young at one of the Tackle spots. He’s very talented, but I’ll take Woodley, Biggs, or Jamison in that match-up.

- How will our DBs hold up? Virtually untested against Vanderbilt due to consistent DL pressure, and pretty pedestrian against Central Michigan, they’ll have to step it up against taller, faster, and simply better WRs this weekend. There can’t be any miscommunication in this game – Quinn and the WRs will eat that up.

- Will we run any trick plays? I remember getting a chuckle out of some random post this summer that just said “Michigan’s installing a fake punt for ND game.” I laugh, but the same thing happened prior to the opening game in 2004, and “random poster” was right (“Henne will start at QB Saturday. Gutz injured.”). So, hey, I’ve got my fingers crossed. We might as well try something – and I’m not just talking about the obligatory Reverse to Breaston.

Monday, September 11, 2006

To: Lloyd Carr and Ron English

From: Nick

Re: Notre Dame’s Red Zone and 3rd Down Offense

Notre Dame will run these 3 plays. These are plays that have consistently burned other teams in the past, including Michigan. Why? I’m not sure. They’re not that innovative or complicated, but they are well-executed. You are paid six or seven figures to understand why these plays work, and figure out how to stop them. If you can stop these 3 plays consistently, especially on 3rd down and in the Red Zone (when these specific plays are most often called), you can win the game. If you can’t, you can’t.

1 – The Quarterback draw

Michigan has been burned by the QB draw plenty of times in the past, and was beaten by it against Central Michigan due to shoddy tackling. Notre Dame must know this. Seeing that ND isn’t afraid to use this play (they scored a TD against Georgia Tech by running it at the end of the 1st Half, with no timeouts left), I expect them to try it against us. Any time you see 4 or 5 WRs around the Goal Line, expect a QB draw.

2 – The “quick play-action pass over the middle to Jeff Samardzija”

I watch a good portion of most ND games, and I can’t remember one where I haven’t seen this play. QB Brady Quinn will quickly fake a handoff, take a short drop, and fire or lob a pass (depending on the LBs’ positioning) to WR Jeff Samardzija, who is in the back of the endzone. It worked against PSU last week, and I expect to see it this week. It’s hard to defend because it happens so fast. The LBs need to be aware – when Samardzija lines up close to the linemen in the slot, or even as a Tight End, this play is coming.

3 – The “fake quick pass draw play”

Another play that worked well against PSU. Fake a “Breaston lateral pass” out to a WR (often Samardzija), and then quickly hand off to the RB for a draw up the middle. I’m not sure what the blocking scheme is on this play, since, again, it happens very quickly. But as I mentioned above, you get paid the big bucks to diagnose and defend against this stuff, so get there.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's Notre Dame week

This is a HUGE game. The national perception is that ND is on the rise, and Michigan is on the decline. One game might not change that, but it can do a heck of a lot. And while I might expect a loss to ND, I can't accept one. Too many people seem to be thinking that a loss here is OK. Seriously. Seriously? Since when did we become Bowling Green (or Duke, or Michigan State (cheap shot))? There are no moral victories for us. I know, I know... Lllloyd sux, Weis is a geeenius, and Zbikowski has a mohawk so he's better this year. But, come on. We're MICHIGAN. Can we act like it for one game. Just one? Lloyd?... God?... Ganesh?...

Stuff you might have missed if you had to go to a wedding or whatever:

The Big Ten didn't have a great weekend, but the ACC is kinda looking like poop. Akron over N.C. State. Virginia barely beats Wyoming in Overtime (thanks to a missed Extra Point). Florida State almost lost to Troy. Troy was up 17-10 more than halfway through the 4th. And in related news, the writers take the victory this week in the back-and-forth battle for "which pollsters are dumber - writers or coaches?" FSU stays at #9 in the AP.

Ohio State looked pretty darn good, particularly on Offense, but talk about boring! For a #1 vs. #2 game, that didn't live up to the hype.

Iowa's Drew Tate didn't play, and they struggled without him. I watched both Overtimes, and it was hilarious to see Syracuse choke 7 straight times(!!) at the goal line.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Central Michigan game linkfest

For those going, wanting to go, watching, or listening:

Central Michigan (0-1, 0-0 MAC) @ #10 / #13 Michigan (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Game Time: 12:00 Noon, Eastern
Television Coverage: ESPN-Plus (Channel 7 in Detroit, other random/spotty coverage listed here), ESPN Gameplan (PPV TV and PPV Online), MASN, YES, Altitude, Comcast SportsNet West.
Note: No HD broadcast on any channel.
Need tickets? Buy them here.
Weather Forecast: Chance of rain/storms – High in the low 70s.
Local Radio Coverage: WOMC-FM (104.3), CKLW-AM (800), WTKA-AM (1050)
Satellite Radio Coverage: Sirius Satellite Radio – Channel 146 (different than last week)
Other Radio Affiliates: Click here
Line: Michigan by 28
Michigan Stadium Parking and Traffic Info
Michigan Stadium Map/Guide
Michigan Stadium – Prohibited Items
Michigan’s ID Policy for those with Student Tickets

Read up on stuff: Michigan vs. Central Michigan “Game Notes,” including Depth Chart (PDF)

Michigan Daily: Chippewas enter Big House for intrastate battle

Detroit News: Defensive End Biggs making his own hype

Detroit News: Crable gets the message

Detroit News: Carr balances running backs

Detroit Free Press: CMU braces for Big House

Detroit Free Press: (more on Biggs) U-M defender doesn’t fit the wild stereotype

Detroit Free Press: Zone blocking a hit with Michigan LeFevour emerged at quarterback in CMU loss Central Michigan’s busiest message board

Thursday, September 07, 2006

For whom to root?

OSU or Texas? This has been a popular message board topic this week, and I’m still unsure of my answer. Do “we” want some more respect for the Big Ten, even if it potentially results in an OSU National Championship? Do “we” care that much about Michigan’s Strength of Schedule, even if Michigan probably isn’t making a BCS Title run this year?

Part of my reluctance to root for OSU is a result of the 2002 season. I rooted for them against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, being all “go Big Ten” and whatnot, and I will never be able to forgive myself. The whole “Mo C rulez! Tressel is God! I made a poster of the Pass Interference call!” fiasco that resulted, and still continues to this day, was the definition of pain. Since OSU hadn’t really done much against Michigan in recent years, and since OSU hadn’t really won anything of significance in my lifetime, I didn’t realize the ridiculousness that is “typical OSU fan.” To see them deify Maurice Clarett and then turn their backs on him is a decent representation of their mindset. The ends justify the means. Just win, baby! I wouldn’t expect much from people that are enamored with a coach that a certain law school professor of mine (who presided over this beauty from Sweater Vest’s days in Division 1-AA) described to me as “very smart, very dirty.” Now, I’m not gonna pretend that every college program is perfect. Any time you get 100 college guys together, somebody’s gonna get drunk. But I’ll put OSU’s rap sheet under Tressel up against any other team. Looks like they beat Miami off of the field, too, huh?

So can I root for a team that I have always disliked but have grown to despise over the past few years? I don’t think so. Some might say it is sour grapes (Michigan is just 1-4 against Tressel’s OSU teams), and I’ll admit that it might be easier to root for OSU if Michigan was continuing its Cooper-era dominance. But after seeing some class from Texas fans after a heartbreaking 2005 Rose Bowl game, could I possibly align my interests with fans that act like this?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mike Wallace wants Lloyd gone?

When asked about Keith Jackson’s retirement, he said:
"I can't believe the S.O.B. is quitting. It doesn't make any sense, Keith hanging up his microphone. Come on, he's just a boy. I haven't completely retired, so where does he get off?

Seriously, how will my Wolverines, champions of the West, play if Keith Jackson isn't there to tell us about it? He transported me back to Ann Arbor like nobody else could. He is college football for me.

It should be [Michigan coach] Lloyd Carr who retires. Lloyd Carr, who when it's third down and we have 25 yards to a first down, fairly consistently calls a run into the line."

Mike Wallace, a longtime reporter for CBS' "60 Minutes," is a 1939 Michigan grad — and proud of it.
Who knew? My favorite part is that instead of saying “when it's 3rd and 25,” he says “when it's third down and we have 25 yards to a first down.” Makes it sounds all proper and British, which is sweet.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My jumbled reaction to the weekend

Michigan-related thoughts:

The Defense looked good, but I don't think we can take too much away from this game. Vandy's QB played like an idiot - not throwing the ball away led to at least 2 sacks. But I was happy to see the D-Line get some pressure, whether they were helped by some QB mistakes or not.

My friend Jake said that the DBs probably deserve a grade of incomplete, and I agree. Too much pressure from the DL and a few drops from Vandy receivers meant little work for the DBs. Charles Stewart was the culprit on the Vandy trick play TD. He was overly aggresive and left his man when he saw the lateral. His mistake likely cost him his starting position on this week's depth chart, but I'm sure he'll still play a lot.

Henne looked a bit off, and the WRs and TEs had too many drops. Not attempting enough downfield passes surely didn't help. We are probably "saving" stuff for the Notre Dame game... but what good has that done us in the past? I say throw some post routes in there and get Henne some practice on the deep throws.

I have only watched the game tape once, but the OL looked average. Typical first game stuff. Pass protection broke down at times, sometimes due to the TE missing an assignment. I think zone blocking is good for a player like Hart (duh), but it's going to take some time to "perfect." At least RG Alex Mitchell got to the "second level" and blocked an LB on Kevin Grady's opening drive TD run. So, there's hope.

Special teams: Rivas makes a career-long, gets a makeable kick blocked, and an extra-point tipped. Not surprising. Zoltan Mesko had one nice punt, but got the benefit of the bounce on another one. Ross Ryan had one touchback, but didn't get nearly enough hang time on his returnable kicks. Kick coverage could be a problem as a result, which I wasn't expecting after last year (despite the lower kicking tees). Breaston needs to wake up.

Overall, this was similar to what I expected. We won't know much until the Notre Dame game.

Thoughts on other games/teams:

Notre Dame looked beatable, which means that Michigan won't beat them. Against Georgia Tech, ND took the lead after a questionable personal foul call on a 3rd down play (which didn't produce a 1st down). Otherwise, a tie (and overtime) would have been likely.

Miami-FSU looked like an exact replica of last year's game. Maybe having that game to open the season isn't such a great thing, because both OLs looked horrible. Most coaches say that the Defense is usually ahead of the Offense early on, and it showed. For the National Title race, fans of all teams should be happy that Miami lost, because although their Offense is mediocre, their Defense is pretty darn good and their schedule is pretty darn weak from here on out (especially now that Louisville RB Michael Bush is done for the season).

Maybe the ACC isn't all that: Virginia loses to Pitt, North Carolina loses to Rutgers. Conversely, maybe the Big East is all that. Or not.

Speaking of poop: Montana State 19, Colorado 10. Rod Gilmore picked them to win the Big 12 North. And now we know why nobody listens to Rod Gilmore.

Speaking of bad picks: Kirk Herbstreit picked Miami in the BCS Title Game. Lee Corso picked Cal. Corso's logic? Cal doesn't have to play in a Conference Championship Game (and thus he picked West Virginia as their opponent). Way to think that one through, bro.

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