Monday, September 23, 2013

Total, Complete, Humiliating, Unmitigated Disaster....Averted Part Deux

I am frankly appalled, bewildered, confused and in an utter state of denial/anger over what is happening to the Michigan Wolverines at this point.  They are incredibly lucky to be 2-0 the last two weeks against teams that are a combined 1-6.  That alone should be a great reason to panic in Ann Arbor.  I’m not sure where this goes from here, but expectations have fallen and I feel like I’m on a run-away roller coaster ride where the power to the brakes is out, but the chain that pulls you to the top of the first big drop is still working just fine.  Every week, we’re going to get pulled up and there’s no way of knowing when or how the car is going to stop….And we know we simply can’t jump off the ride and ignore what is happening….

There’s a bye this week, and while that can either be a good or a bad thing, I believe this team has a lot of soul searching to do.  And I’m not the only one as e-mail and texts poured in Saturday night and Sunday morning with multiple comments and concerns.  One of the most compelling titled, “Thought Starters” , from the Original Super Fan, I figured was worth putting in here and commenting on as it seems like it should cover just about every concern the average Michigan Slappy and Non-Slappy Fan has at this point.

  1. Gardner is suddenly making D-Rob quality decisions……So is it the QB coaches fault?  Great question.  My initial thoughts on Gardener have come FULL CIRCLE since Central and the domers.  Meaning, where I initially thought Devin could overcome or at least compensate for a weak and inexperienced O-Line, I’m now starting to think that it’s too big of an Achilles Heel for him to manage on his own.  The offensive woes can’t all be put on the QB or the QB coaches, however.  There are certain coaches that need to take a hard look at certain positions and make sure that they are playing the best possible players at those positions, regardless of class rank.  There is a serious problem and while I’m not making excuses for Devin and poor decisions on his part-or the coaches at that position, it can’t all be on him.  He’s forced into making decision he shouldn’t have to make….
    2.  Gardner almost never tucks the ball properly, even after crossing the LOS or on obvious run plays; This WILL LEAD TO DISASTER!  Agreed.  Gardener is NOT D-Rob in that respect and while he can make plays using his feet and mobility, he is not a “run first, pass second” QB.  In fact, sooner or later, Devin will either A.  Drop the ball on a crucial drive  (see first drive after half time with respect to the “Fumble – 6” and you get where this could all go) or B.  Get hit so hard that he’s knocked out of the game or worse (See Driscoll – Gatorland).  That being said, Shane Morris isn’t ready to lead this team….and that is scary in and of itself. 
3.   Gardner is NOT THE ONLY problem on offense.  AGREE EVEN STRONGER!  See answer to number 1.  Everyone in the mainstream media seems to be laying this mess at the feet of Gardener without probing a little further or just watching what’s actually happening on the field.  I counted at least 10 plays where Gardener was rushed or forced out of the pocket early and into a difficult decision of running or getting rid of the ball.  Granted, Michigan ran on 1st down against U-Conn over 90% of the time!  This play mix is not a recipe for success and that falls squarely on the O-Coordinator.  I get that the coaching staff watched U-Conn film and probably saw opportunities where the run could have been established, but clearly the U-Conn staff decided that Michigan would not have the luxury of big gains via the rush on 1st down.  After the first tipped INT, I felt (and texted) that Gardener was getting gun shy.  The short arm INT when Funchess was a step ahead of his defender was clear evidence of that… He needs to re-develop/re-discover his confidence and the only way that’s going to happen is with offensive line protection and open receivers. 

4.   Did you notice that UNCONN defenders HIT while our boys barely tackle?  While I thought that U-Conn was playing well on Defense(And we were making them look better than they were), I thought our Defense in the 1st quarter was playing exceptionally well.  However, I do think that U-Conn made some great adjustments offensively and started to figure our defense out.  I think there are times when all Michigan fans think that every tackle should destroy the enemy, but the defense played admirably and was on the field way too long based on the opponent.  The best defense is a ball controlling offense.  Plain and simple.  And the Defense was what got us back in that game – Thanky You Desmond Morgan. So while I see some open issues on D, they pale in comparison to what has happened to the Offense.   Hitting and tackling not withstanding.

5.   Did you notice that our boys go down upon initial contact by one defender while UCONN players almost never went down immediately!  I am so sick of watching O players of teams I hate gain 5, 10, 15 yards after contact while M guys go down like power windows.  On the rare occasion that they don’t, it seems that the ball ends-up on the ground?????  I say anybody but "Fritz" in the backfield next game.  Keep rotating in other RBs until we find a guy that can gain some YAC without giving up the ball.  Oh, and from a coaching perspective, ANY loose ball should be considered a FUMBLE.  There’s multiple complaints here and I will try to address it all by simply stating that I think everything goes back to a root cause which is the offensive line.  “Fritz” has never shaken off the first tackle, has a tendency to get the “dropsies” and I think if you go back to a couple of years ago, you’ll find that the MMQ made those FT observations along with the statement:  “I miss Mike Hart”.  And while that is a Fritz problem, when there is good (or even decent) blocking, I think Fitz is one of the better open field runners we have.  And the coaching staff has confidence in him.  Plain and simple.  So while Fitz is perhaps part of the concern, it all starts up front. 

6.  An illegal motion penalty after a TO IS A COACHING PROBLEM!  Either that player is just too stupid to be allowed to play or the coaches are not focusing enough on such stuff!  See the answer in number 5.  The Offensive line needs to be the major focus in the bye week and Hoke has eluded to a change on the line and I think he needs to make it rather than wait.  I’ve seen what the upper classmen can do;  I’m ready (I think) to see what the depth chart looks like, even though that’s never a good thing when it comes to either line.  But something needs to be shaken up.

Minnesota is in the Big House in two weeks and they will have already played a B1G game.  Either way, win or lose, they will be coming to the Big House hungry for the Brown Jug and looking at two games worth of film of weaker Michigan opponents defensively taking advantage of an anemic Wolverine offense.  You can do a lot in two weeks, however, and I simply hope that whatever adjustments are made for Michigan, it’s enough.  My expectations have fallen and while I’m not in the Bargaining Phase of Slappy Fan Grief yet and I’m still in the Denial/Anger tweener position (“Deni-anger”???), it’ll only take 1 loss to push me over the edge….So let’s review where some other fan bases are in that spectrum. 

5 Stages of Slappy Fan Grief

  1.  Denial and Isolation – Sparty – ¼ of the fan base.  I was watching the Michigan game in a relatively public location, the St. Pat’s End of Summer Festival Beer Tent, where there was no shortage of Spartys and domers.  In fact, Michigan fans were outnumbered by about 4-1. And I caught the end of the domer-Sparty debacle there.  Sparty fan was so upset with the referees (and I concurred with Sparty, strangely enough) that they forgot that they were still in the game with a shot to win at the end.  “JLS” Dantonio then made, what was later learned, a coaching decision to “switch” out Cook and bring in Maxwell who hadn’t played in two weeks.  We all thought that Cook was injured in the prior series.  But no.  Sorry, Sparty... that’s a “JLS” move if I ever saw one.  A lot of Sparty fans agreed with me…Scary…The domers on the other hand are still solidly up in this phase as they also are somehow an incredibly lucky 2-0 (Spoilers and Sparty) after their Big House loss and believe that every pass interference call was justified.  Some even believe that undefeated from here on out is possible…How wrong they are….Others in the Denial/Isolation:  Hawkeyes – up from Bargaining/Anger due to 3-0 run over mediocre opponents, Suckeyes, Badgers, Bulldogs, Wolverines and others….Later or domer fans after their game will be here next week in droves….and someone from those two will slip down to
  2. ANGER – the other 75% of the Sparty fan base falls here.  But they simply have so much to be angry with, as one fan in the beer tent said, “God…I’m pissed at the refs, Dantonio and the offense.  I don’ have enough rage inside me to yell about everything….”  I get sparty’s anger and actually shared some of that as it seemed like every PI was on a very KEY play for the domers….and there was a couple that I thought that could have easily gone the other way – and normally I love it when Sparty get jobbed by the refs.….Other fans in the anger category that have figured out that they are simply not that good or know they have problems that “coaching” isn’t addressing:  Trojans, BYU, Huskers, some Hokies, domers and a lot of Wolverine fans….but some Wolverines have already slipped into the
  3. Bargaining – phase.  Michigan fans seem to enjoy seeing the worst side of the coin or the glass half empty and thinking that the coaches can’t possibly see what they see as fans and that there is “no way the team can learn and get better.”  With 4 wins, there were fans in the ole’ beer tent that were stating that 8-4 would be an “acceptable outcome” for 2013….Now, to that I have to say, “Wait a minute.”  MAYBE this is just the MMQ “bargaining” with himself, but I believe that there’s a good chance that the Wolverines somehow find a way to right the ship on offense and continue to improve and they are still undefeated at this point.  And while none of the first 4 wins get you to Indy, the B1G Title game is still out there looking for a Wolverine Debut appearance.  But it will need to be won and the road is getting more difficult every week unless the problems are fixed.  Other teams with a large part, if not the majority of their fan base in the Bargaining phase:  Gatorland, Cremesicles, Hoosiers, Sun Devils, some spartys and Va Tech Hokies immediately come to mind…..
  4. Depression – While their team won, Texas Fan has to have the most representatives in this category.  They know that they aren’t that great of a team and while they can be somewhat happy about beating K-State, well, the North Dakota State “Bizon” also beat K-State this year…so that’s not saying much.  Gatorland has some fans in this area as does the aforementioned K-State, but there’s definitely still a broad range of grief levels amongst all these fan bases. 
  5. AcceptanceSurprisingly, even though U-Conn lost, there’s definite hope that came out of the game against Michigan.  And while there aren’t many teams down here yet, it’s all going to start piling up in October.  K-State fan, - objective ones – are already here and hoping to play spoiler for the rest of the season.   Not to mention USF…
Idle Thoughts From Saturday

 -Fargo ND featured on Game Day….
-(I’lll admit now I had to look it up on the map….)
-A little slice of Americana…
-I was surprised when they rattled off the list of people that had appeared on the stage of the downtown Fargo Theater…
-It was kind of impressive.
-Louisville puts up 72….Wow…
-Suckeyes run up 76!  Holy crap…and it was 55-0 at the half…
-QB controversy in Columbus?  Or just a wonderful luxury for Urban Legend?
-One that Urban DOES NOT HAVE on Defense…next week in C-bus will be the test…
-Somebody in Columbus will be an unhappy camper next week…Bucky or Brutus…
-I’m leaning towards brutus here….They’re gonna’ be sad…
-And yeah, for obvious HATE reasons….and a couple of stats that lead me to believe that ohio is a paper tiger right now…
-And Wiscy could be for real….and it’ll be strength on weakness – both ways.
- ohio is a tough place to win….
-Sparty is hanging in there against the domers….
-The reason it’s a great game:  either way, somebody I hate is gonna lose!
-Spoilers against Wiscy….Not so much.
-Wiscy has a lot of tailbacks….I wish Michigan had one solid one….
-Volunteers are hanging tough against Gatorland…
-Utah State sealing Lane Kiffin’s fate….nobody in Coliseum….
-Pass Interference AGAIN?  I mean, I hate Sparty…but come on…
-And it’s a B1G crew?  SERIOUSLY?
-I know that the home team should get a call every now and then…
-Sparty got their shot to tie or win and “JLS” Dantonio blew it….
-If Sparty fan doesn’t hate Dantonio yet, after another couple of shenanigans like that, they soon will.
-What is Michigan doing on offense?
-Come ON Michigan!  Block somebody…
-Oh no…tipped INT’s suck…QB loses some confidence and momentum shifts…
-What is going on?????
-Devin getting gun shy….I hate that….
-Jeez….Look for the BALL ON A PUNT! 
-What is going on?   Why do we look so inept?
-Great….Why not just score FOR THEM DEVIN?
-It’s not all his fault…it’s not all his fault…
-Is this the game that we shouldn’t lose that we lose?  Can it be?
-To a team that hasn’t won a game? 
-GO DEFENSE!  Great one handed INT Desmond!!!
-Player of the game – Desmond Morgan!
-Now score…Okay….
-Great stop!  Score again…Okay….thank you Fitz….and the line.
-It shouldn’t come down to a Figgie against an 0-2 U-Conn…
-Hoke has a lot of work to do.
-And the press he gets for the next two weeks is well deserved.
-The Gophers in the House in 2 weeks.
-I hope a different team shows up or it’s going to be a long B1G season….

The Hot Seat

Jessica Perez of SI swimsuit fame easily won week #3 in the Hot Seat Mascot voting and will be in the finals with Amanda.  That’s 2 finalists out of 4 potentials.  I can’t believe I had never had the next nominee on the ballot, but I scoured through 5 years of mascot nominees (I know!  I couldn’t believe it had been going on that long, either!) and could not locate even a mention of her.  And she dated one of the Detroit Tigers for a while!  Without further ado, Hot Seat Mascot nominee for Week # 4:  Kate Upton!


Hot Seat Rank

  1. Mack Brown:  I have to leave him here because I can’t make anyone else number 1 at this point, but
  2. Lane Kiffin:  is close to number 1 and whoever loses next will have secured the 1 seat for the year. 
  3. Brian Kelly:  Getting lucky against MSU gets you some rants from the domer fan base…but not firing rants…just rants…
  4. Dantonio:  On the other hand…There were some ANGRY spartys in that beer tent…and it wasn’t just the beer talking.  I heard a lot of great arguments as to why the Italian Stallion has to go after the end of this season…SOS…But I still think they’re a little premature…
  5. Ferentz:  Moving down after beating on little sisters of the poor…however, the children of the corn may be lucky to go 1-4 in the next 5 games in the B1G….It’s murderer’s row for them…
  6. Weiss:  Why not?  
  7. Pelini:  He’s safe and the staff is behind him…but fans are restless…
  8. Hoke….Losing that close to U-Conn keeps you on the list for a week…
  9. Beamer – I heard Va-Tech fan over the weekend…they are not happy…
  10. Graham:  Winning close over Wiscy and laying an egg against the Cardinal doesn’t bode well for ASU and the “gun for hire living out of a suitcase“ coach…
FMQ Betting Results:

Wow….what a miserable weekend for the FMQ.  And he was SO CONFIDENT in several of his picks.  I have a feeling he might go into conservative mode this week and only bet what he really believes are locks and don’t be surprised if he doesn’t bet the Michigan game….Hee-hee…yeah, Michigan doesn’t play this week so that’s pretty safe assumption.

Sparty (+7.5) @ domers:  Sparty Covers…but should have won..
Take Sparty and the points for $75
WIN!  Bank $142.50

KSU (+4.5) @ Texas:  Okay…K-State Sucks…
Take KSU and the points for $40
Cremesicles (+17.5) @ Gatorland:  Cremsicles Cover! 
Take Tennessee and the 17.5 for $30
WIN!  Bank $57

Maine @ Northwestern (-28):  Not enough defense Kittens…piss me off again
Take Northwestern and lay the 28 for $60

Akron (+8) at Louisiana Rajun Cajuns:  Covered, but didn’t win…..
Take Akron and the 8 for $30
WIN!  Bank $57

Stanford (-7.5) @ ASU:  Wow…Easy cover…Graham already looking for a new gig…
Take Stanford and lay the 7.5 for $60
WIN!  Bank $114

Michigan (-17.5) @ UConn:  The FMQ may never, ever, EVER bet Michigan again….
Take Michigan and lay the points for $60

Starting BANK:         $913
TOTAL WIN:              $370.50
BANK:                        $1,283.50
Final Note:  While this blog only covers college football, I have to add here that “Breaking Bad” is now down to its final episode next Sunday.  As a fan from the very first show, I’ll be incredibly sorry to see it go…There’s not much on regular TV that I look forward to every week any more.  Walter White has to be one of, if not the most compelling character on TV.  Ever.  I know that’s saying a lot, but frankly, I would love to see a list of characters and we could compare him top to bottom.  I have a feeling if you’re bringing up somebody else, you haven’t seen the Walter White evolution from “Mr. Rogers to Tony Montegna in Scarface” over the 5 seasons “Breaking Bad” has been on.
I’m gonna’ miss it….

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