Back from the Bye Week Break
Want another example of the U of M “marketing” team doing a great job? How about the commemorative t-shirt for this weekend’s game against Wisconsin – the 500th in Michigan Stadium history. The game is a Maize Out, and the t-shirt is white. Way to go!
Weis Year 3 vs. Rodriguez Year 1
This has nothing to do with the ND game, but it’s somewhat related. What’s very frustrating for me is that Charlie Weis went 3-9 in his third year, and there was virtually no talk of firing him. But I guarantee you that if Rodriguez misses a bowl game this season, his first year, you will hear a LOT more talk about how he’s not the right guy for the job, etc. Never mind the fact that we don’t have a proper QB for his system yet – the most important part of Michigan’s team from here on out. Additionally, Rodriguez is working with about 5 of “his own” recruits. In his 3rd year, Weis was working with, what, 50(?) of his own recruits (two full recruiting classes, plus a few guys he pulled in after Willingham was fired). Pretty much all of his offensive players in year 3 fit his offensive system (pro style). And if you want to say that Weis struggled because his 3rd-year team was loaded with inexperienced players... umm, have you looked at Michigan’s roster lately? The entire THREE-deep on offense has just one senior (TE Mike Massey), and we’re starting freshmen at QB, RB, OL, and WR!
I’m already annoyed at the media because I can see this coming from a mile away. Rich Rodriguez is a very good coach. We need to give him time, and we need to stop any crap from the media before it starts.
Know the Horse-Collar Rule: Some Horse-Collar Tackles are OK (seriously)
I looked this up because the “horse-collar” penalty that Michigan was called for on one of ND’s interception returns was a horrible call. And, yes, it was called (although NBC didn’t mention it very clearly and the replay was shown while the ref was making the call). The Michigan player (David Molk, I believe) grabbed the ND player’s collar area and pulled down/back for a split second, but the ND player remained on his feet and his momentum carried him forward. He lost his balance after the Michigan player had released him, and eventually fell down to his right without being touched at the time. Does that sound like it fits within the description of the penalty (Rule 9-1-2-p)?:
“All players are prohibited from grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey, and immediately pulling the runner down. This does not apply to a runner who is inside the tackle box or to a quarterback who is in the pocket.” (emphasis mine)There are two things to note here: (1) “Immediately pulling the runner down” definitely didn’t happen in the Michigan-ND game. Under any definition of the word, that wasn’t an “immediate” tackle by the Michigan player. And, for future reference, (2) The horse-collar tackle prohibition “does not apply to a runner who is inside the tackle box or to a quarterback who is in the pocket.” There is going to be a lot of confusion on this rule (there already is), because a QB will get sacked via a horse-collar tackle and either (a) the refs will call it a penalty, which it shouldn’t be, or (b) fans will riot because the penalty wasn’t called. Additionally, I think Michigan fans need to know this rule because I bet we’ll see a lot of horse-collar tackles within the tackle box in the future. McGuffie will take a handoff on a zone stretch play and get pulled down from behind by a crashing DE. Fans will want a penalty, but if he’s within the tackle box there shouldn’t be one.
Also note a further clarification by the NCAA that will probably be incorrectly called in the coming years: "If the ball carrier is grabbed by the shoulder or jersey and just ridden to the ground over a couple of yards, that's not going to be a foul." This jibes with the “immediate” standard that is listed in the rule, but I just see too much room for differing interpretations of this rule. Another annoying thing from that article: "We'll err on the side of safety. We'll defend the official who may be a little more strict, because that's a major point of emphasis." The whole “point of emphasis” thing is illogical on its face. So some rules are more important than others? The NCAA is starting to sound like the Notre Dame announcers on NBC, who stated that intentional grounding didn’t need to be called on Jimmy Clausen because he threw the ball “near” the line of scrimmage (the rule, as you know, is that the ball must at least reach the line of scrimmage). Every rule is important and every rule should be applied uniformly.
Looking at Wisconsin
The Badgers have a handful of nagging injuries, it seems. RB P.J. Hill has a leg bruise. TE Travis Beckum had a hamstring issue for the first few weeks of the season – those can linger. WLB Jonathan Casillas had a knee injury but played in Wisconsin’s last game (at Fresno State). CB Aaron Henry is recovering from a knee injury and might make the decision to play or redshirt this Saturday. Is it evil of me to hope that all of these guys play a lot but are very limited in their production/mobility? Maybe they’ll “tough it out” because it’s Michigan and they haven’t won in the Big House during their careers, but in doing so they might take valuable snaps away from healthy, productive players (like TE Garrett Graham, who has been Wisconsin’s leading receiving threat).
Here's a good take, from mgoblog’s diaries, on what to expect and what we need to do to win. Enjoy the game, and Go Blue!