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Stadium and Main: "That’s. Why. You’re. Michigan. <i>State</i>."

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.

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