Sunday, November 27, 2011

That's defining a legacy

I was briefly concerned yesterday that I would wake up at some point and realize that it was all just a dream and Michigan had in fact not beaten Ohio State for the first time since shortly after I graduated high school. It's Sunday now. It's really over.

The words: I do not have them. I just keep telling people "Michigan beat Ohio State!" and making weird sounds that apparently are some combination of exhilaration and relief. That's all I can do after that.

I went from nervous to concerned to psyched to ecstatic to frustrated to ANGAR to nervous to scared to excited to WOOO to NOOO to horrified to horribly horrified to relieved to exhilarated to ... ummm ... whatever I am now. I don't even know what to feel. Michigan beat Ohio State. It's over. There's no more streak. There's no more crap. The stupid fanboi Columbus Dispatch counter is gone (I won't even link to the page because it's so stupid). It's so, like, satisfying. But that doesn't seem sufficient.

I looked for a picture yesterday that told the story better. I found a few:

. . . . .

One of the revelations from Three and Out was that Lloyd Carr held a team meeting the day after the end of the '07 season and offered to sign transfer papers on the spot for anybody who wanted to leave rather than play for RichRod (the degree to which he advised leaving depends on which player you believe). A lot of guys took him up on that, and the abyss of '08 was directly related. That team was never gonna be good but didn't have to be "10 new offensive starters and multiple starting walk-ons" awful.

Brian Cook at MGoBlog wrote this at the end of the '08 debacle (he also busted it out after the Minnesota game this year for a post that says a lot of what I'm saying right now):

Some of you will stay. And you will go insane. You will work, and you will work, and we will build something here from nothing. Because, make no mistake, this is nothing. You will build something out of this. If you're a senior next year and you teach some freshman something, you will build something. If you're a freshman and you refuse to quit on your stupid decision, you will build something.

What you build will be yours. Few in the great history of his university have had that opportunity. Everything came based on what came before. They were part of a great chain, now broken.

Those of you who stay will forge a new one, starting today. When we are done we will fix the last link to the broken chain, and break the first link, and tell those who come after us to live up to it.

It took three years. The guys who stuck it out put up with more crap than the previous 130 classes combined and, before this year, had absolutely nothing to show for it except a bunch of devastating losses, a lot of you-don't-want-that-record records, (allegedly) one pathetically pointless bowl game and another coaching change. Everything memorable was memorable only in a pitiful way. That hardly even qualifies as a legacy.

These seniors were given nothing (nothing good, anyway) and earned everything. There is something to live up to only because of them.

Damn straight. That's defining a legacy.

David Molk and Mike Martin and Junior Hemingway ...

... and Kevin Koger ...

... and Ryan Van Bergen ...

... earned that. Those who stayed will be are champions.

I don't wanna forget the last three years. I stuck it out and suffered (not the same way they did) and watched this team go from nothing to something to this thing. Some people didn't; they gave up their emotional investment and will never understand what I'm feeling right now. I don't wanna forget the last seven years either. The "appreciate success blah blah failure blah blah" quote comes to mind.

It didn't used to be like this; this is sweeter. I'm gonna enjoy it.
. . . . .

My other all-over-the-place thoughts on the game will be consolidated here. First ... I mean ... whoa. That was most definitely not what I expected, which you probably know if you read my post from Friday night.

Ohio's offense went from "lol look how much they suck" to "irresistible force" against a defense that came into the game in the top 15 in the country in yardage and the top 10 in scoring. Braxton Miller did become Troy Smith circa 2004 -- until the final drive, anyway. The idea of him running the Urban Meyer offense concerns me a bit. The idea of him running the 2-minute offense ... not so much. Letting 40 seconds run off the clock on two plays that gained a total of four yards and then spiking it on third down worked out great for Michigan but not so great for Ohio.

The big difference between yesterday's Braxton Miller and the rest-of-the-season version of Braxton Miller: hitting the big stuff. Ohio's passing game has been completely dormant due to the quarterbacks' consistent inability to complete anything longer than five yards. The plays are there but never made; watching Miller is actually a lot like watching freshman Denard, who had hilariously wide-open receivers all over the place but was about 50-50 to throw it to those guys or members of the opposing secondary.

As for Michigan's defense, the secondary was not good. They probably had "run run run run run" beaten into their heads all week since that's the only thing Ohio has been able to do all year, but yikes. This ...

... is bad. This ...

... is also bad. And this ...

... is worse given the situation. Clean pair of shorts, plz.

Thomas Gordon blew his zone on the first touchdown, got yanked, watched Troy Woolfolk do the same thing on the second touchdown, then went back in the game to do some more sucking on a couple other bombs, including the last one. I would be concerned about the free safety spot if Michigan had given up more than one 50-plus-yard play all year. As it is, I'm not really sure what to make of that stuff.

The idea of Greg Mattison getting outcoached by Jim Bollman is patently ridiculous and therefore must be disputed. My assumption is that the gameplan was pretty similar to the one against Nebraska: put eight in the box, stop the run with some consistency and hope the arm-punting QB is too incompetent to produce anything downfield. It worked to some extent -- Boom Herron had 15 carries for a whopping 37 yards -- but Miller's light-bulb moment came at a rather inconvenient time and was aided by the aforementioned atrocious safety play. Michigan's typical third-down okie package also was less than ideal against a team that'll run quarterback draw on third-and-anything. I yelled draw-related profanities more than once.

Clearly, Michigan isn't Alabama in terms of talent. Not even Greg Mattison's awesomeness can always overcome the horrifying mistakes made by three freshman starters and a couple other former MAC-level recruits in the back seven. The assessment and going-forward expectations (in the short term) will have to be lowered just a tad.

Still, the Michigan defense just played its worst game of the year and will still end the regular season at ninth in scoring defense (!) and 16th in total defense. The slight drop from last week can't be criticized in any way given the absurdity of those numbers in general.

On the flip side, Al Borges FTW. Michigan put up 444 total yards and 40 points (although two of those were on a safety) against an elite defense despite not having a truly short field all game. UM averaged 9.8 yards a pass, 5.5 yards a carry and 6.63 yards a play. Think about that: almost 7 yards a play! That's easy to do against Minnesota but not as easy against Ohio and Jim Heacock.

There weren't a ton of new looks in general. What worked was the heavy implementation of the veer, which produced this ...

... and this ...

... and this:

There was also a lot of jet-sweep motion and a true counter draw, both of which were pretty useful in terms of getting guys out of position:

Fitz Toussaint finished with his typical 20 carries for 120 yards and now has over 1,000 yards this year despite not becoming the starter until five weeks ago. Crazy.

And Denard ... just wow. In this case, the numbers tell the story: 26 carries for 170 yards (the third-highest rushing-yardage total in the history of The Game) and two touchdowns and a ridiculous passing line of 14 for 17 for 167 yards with three TDs and no picks. He personally accounted for all five of Michigan's touchdowns. He threw as many touchdown passes as incompletions. He did this on a huge third-and-11 ...

... and he did this to set up what should've been the winning touchdown (more on that momentarily):

It was the best game of his career. He was pretty ridiculous in the 2010 Notre Dame game (502 total yards lol), but given the level of competition and his scoring production, this one was better and obviously bigger. He could've had six freakin' touchdowns.

Speaking of which, the late-game officiating was pretty crappy. I'm not entirely sure how the replay booth could look at the two angles provided on Toussaint's should-have-been touchdown, neither of which was right on the goal line, and say, "that is indisputably a foot short of the line" (which is where the ball was spotted).

Whaaa? If Toussaint was down, he was down with the ball at the 1-inch line, and I don't think it was indisputable since I'm disputing it right now. Denard scored on the next play only to have it called back on a hold and a personal foul that made what should have been a touchdown a 43-yard field-goal attempt. The kick was good but not very soothing since OSU still just needed a touchdown to win a game that had already seen 74 points scored.

Thank God for Courtney Avery. Gratuitous video:


So .... Michigan is 10-2. Unless Georgia beats LSU and initiates an SEC takeover of the BCS, Michigan is probably headed to the Sugar Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl is also possible but less likely since the Sugar would get the first at-large pick to replace the SEC champ (LSU) and Michigan is probably a better draw in New Orleans than Stanford. This is mind-boggling and awesome and eeeeeeeeeeee.

There is literally nothing more I could've asked of Brady Hoke this year. Whatever I said in criticism of his track record has to be thrown out the window and replaced by what I've seen the last four months. That's his track record at Michigan; it's impressive. BRADY HOKE GETS IT:

One more time: Michigan 40, Ohio State 34.


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