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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quick! To the time machine! Oh, the above picture would have been awesome four years ago. Now it's just like "hey, creepily tan Skeletor likes Michigan."

Jebus. WolverineHistorian is banging these out about as fast as I can link them. Here's 2002 Michigan State (the 49-3 game that was the deathblow to the Bobby Williams era):

...and 1977 Ohio State:

...and the most ridiculous catch of Jason Avant's career:

...and the immortal Buffalo Stampede game:

Obiiiiiiii. Little news from Carr's Monday press conference save the release of a depth chart that still features Obi Ezeh as the starting middle linebacker despite John Thompson's apparent return to health. Minor, rumored to be out for the year, is also on the depth chart.

What happened to Wisconsin? Hell if I know, but SMQB highlights one of the more bizarre occurrences in this year rife with them:

Whatever the circumstances, 438 yards and 38 points to Penn State is an embarrassment for a team that still considered itself a darkhorse mythical championship contender as late as two weeks ago. The Badgers' run defense over the last three weeks:

Carries Yards Yds./Carry
Michigan State 32 281 8.8
Javon Ringer 10 140 14.0
Illinois 39 310 8.0
Rashard Mendenhall 19 160 8.4
Penn State 44 230 5.2
Rodney Kinlaw 23 115 5.0

So the performance against Penn State was actually something of an improvement.

Great galloping Gilloolys. And this from a team that returned five of their excellent 2006 front seven, plus a defensive-minded coach with a terrific track record. There is no rational explanation for the crapfest that has been the Wisconsin run defense over the past few weeks.

One other item: Bret Bielema punted from the PSU 36 this weekend... with 18 seconds left in the half. What the hell is Penn State going to do with the ball at their own 36 and 12-15 seconds left? Other than kneel and flee to the locker room? Bielema, thy name is meathead.

Hart4Heisman, as advertised during the Purdue game, is up and going.

Elsewhere, the proprietor of the Joe Cribbs Car Wash, a displaced Auburn fan, took in the Purdue game. Relevant section of the JCCW's Arkansas review:
I spent the first part of last Saturday at the Big House watching Michigan blast hapless Purdue, and one of the things you can't help but notice is just how much Wolverine fans care about Mike Hart. Whether it's the endless stream of "20" jerseys, Hart t-shirts, the cries of joy when he spun off the back of a defender and scored on what appeared to be a lost play, the cries of anguish when he left the game with a limp and appeared on the JumboTron grimacing as his ankle got the once-over.

It occurred to me that perhaps not since the outpouring of admiration and respect Auburn fans offered Campbell, Cadillac and Ronnie, and Borges in 2004 have we cared about our players or coaches in anything approaching the kind of fashion you see here in Ann Arbor regarding Hart. I know as an SEC fan I'm supposed to never admit envying anything about a Big 10 program under any circumstances, but yeah, I was jealous.
I just bought a Hart jersey. I think football jerseys look ridiculous on non-football players, but... well... yeah.

Aftermath. Miles didn't get the opportunity to shake Rich Brooks' hand after the Kentucky loss, so he sought him out the next day:
"I thought out guys played their butts off,” Miles said. “If I thought there were tired or showed lack of effort, or if in any way there was a hangover, I would have told you, O.K. I don’t believe that. I believe that we played our tails off. Kentucky played awfully well. And we need to improve. There are pieces of our team that we need to get better at. If we can do that, we’ll be right in the hunt. I like my team, I’m proud of my team. We finished second today.”
Much more Michigan-y than those intemperate offseason comments.

(A note on that third OT strategy: yes, he called rock. Obviously the first down call was fine, as it gained six yards. Second down... eh. Third down I think it's acceptable in that situation because you know you have two downs for the first. Fourth down... well. Given Flynn's performance thus far in that game -- awful -- and the fact you were playing Kentucky and rolling over them, I think it's eminently defensible.

No one playcall is right or wrong. Things have a certain percentage chance of working; they work or they do not. It's like poker: only a long sequence of decisions can be critiqued. Some things are obviously unwise and can be criticized -- running stretch plays on third and short, attempting to bluff a bad player -- but it makes no sense to criticize borderline stuff in a vacuum. (Also, we don't know how much influence Miles actually had on that playcall. He's obviously content to let his coordinators coordinate; that may have been Crowton's decision.)

The thing that excited about the Florida game was the aggressiveness on fourth down that clearly demonstrated that Miles had an excellent grasp of game theory and won the Florida game. Calling a run or a pass on fourth and two is a nitpick, especially given the relative vectors of the LSU pass and run offenses. Noting that Miles understands something most coaches do not and that bodes well for his future school is not.

The way Miles coached against Florida was obviously right, but the end of the Kentucky game was not obviously wrong. Sometimes you lose. As long as coaching malpractice does not factor in it's best to look at the whole picture. The way the Kentucky game went down doesn't change my opinion except incrementally.)

Circle gets the square. Michigan put in an excellent performance in the Icebreaker, beating BC and losing narrowly to Minnesota. Western College Hockey has thoughts, as does Yost Built. Both are fairly sanguine about Bill Sauer's performance, which... like... what? His save percentage was awful both nights, he allowed guys to set up camp in the crease without so much as a pokecheck, and he foolishly strayed off the near post, screening himself and allowing an easy short-side goal to a Minnesota player. I spent most of the game between wincing and livid, cursing the gods of mono.

The rest of it? Highly encouraging. We're about to find out that Kevin Porter was almost entirely a creation of TJ Hensick but Michigan hasn't played as intelligently as this in a long time. Youth and enough depth to mak the threat of a benching very real will keep everyone on their toes, working hard.

One brief analogy: 2006 Michigan State Spartan hockey :: 2006 St Louis Cardinals.

Etc.: Michigan Monday at the OZone; Jalen has a billboard.