At Indiana, the Tailgate and Pictures Were Nearly as Bad as the Performance

IMG_0302.JPG

When All is Said and Done, More is Said Than Done

Sorry I'm going to break you down before we can build this back up.

The Spartan's game winning drive included controversial penaties, game clock fraud, and possibly the most terrible no-call on a holding penalty ever on a play that shouldn't have even occurred. In the end, the Michigan players walked off the field disgusted, cheated, and unsatisfied. Lloyd Carr on Michigan Replay said he expects a call from the Big Ten apologizing for the disgrace.  The horrible thing about it is that it should have never been that close. The Wolverines were out-rushed and basically out-played by their weaker neighbor. TJ Duckett ran for over 200 yards on a defense let up an average of 54 yards for the first 7 games of the season.  - 2001 UMTailgate.com

They wanted it more.  Our young team wasn't rattled by the crowd or foreign field.  They were rattled by a team that knew what this game meant.  A team that was visibly more into this rivalry, and whose passion seemed to grow with every snap.  I could see it.  They celebrated every tackle like it was a touchdown.  Someday, hopefully next year, these young players and this new coach will really understand what this rivalry means...not to us, but to State.  And if we don't drum up some semblance of OUR backs being against the wall to counteract THEIR backs which are ALWAYS up against a wall, it will be tough to compete no matter how much better we are than them position by position. - 2009 UMTailgate.com

That's right, Harbaugh will be here soon enough, wasting talent and flirting with chicks 30 years his junior at Rick's, marching the Wolverines back to high expectations and results that fall below those expectations. - 2010 UMTailgate.com

We were in it to the end, which is to say that Sparty was Sparty enough to keep us in it.  Unfortunately, Sparty was also Wolverine enough, or tough enough, to expose what we are....still mired in a few years of small and fast recruiting, small and fast player development.  We're built for slants and tricks and reads after the snap, but not for fights or wars in the trenches, and little brother proved to be too much on this day.  - 2011 UMTailgate.com

This is a disaster, and this is not a hiccup, it's our reality.  Four games remain.  None look like wins.  The offensive line is not improving, and it's worse than we ever could have imagined.  The season saver at the end of the year with the Buckeyes is so out of the realm of possibility at this point, that I can't even muster the courage to preach the underdog role I loved so much in '95 and '96.  -  2013 UMTailgate.com

State-ment Time

giphy.gif

Ah, the bye week.  Watching football, evaluating others without the pressure of trying to know and understand the future of your own team, hey maybe even attending the wedding of a friend considerate enough to get hitched when Michigan isn't playing.  For us the fans, the break is full of questions and with a new quarterback an increasingly uncertain future.  Getting meaning from any game so far has been difficult.  Anyone outside of Ann Arbor will tell you that Florida sucked and their "whole team" was suspended, Cincinnati and Air Force were garbage that we let hang around, and Purdue is Purdue (despite being a resurgent juggernaut until about 6:30PM on the 23rd when Michigan took the lead).

harbaugh-divejpg-6c8263e07390d89c.jpg

For Michigan, the break is early but opportune.  What Harbaugh calls "improvement week" will need to yield significant benefits in the form of offensive line cohesion and new quarterback to receiver timing...not that ides of August through the first quarter of the Purdue game yielded anything better from the incumbent QB.

I watched some Sparty on Saturday.  Lewerke has some efficiency to him.  For some reason I can't come to grips with our defensive backfield being good, so this scares me.  Purdue was supposed to be the test, and we passed, but I'm not sold, which is more based on the reverse Pavlovian beating I've taken in that category since the 90's than anything else.  It should be noted the game was ugly in that Big Ten way.  I feel this Saturday could be similarly ugly.  The gurus over at mytopsportsbooks.com are touting spreads that started at 2 TDs but are clearly moving in the Spartan direction and are down to 10 in most places.  That's what rivalries do I guess.  Is this a rivalry?  Regardless, ten points can carry some serious weight in a slugfest.

375797.jpg

Sparty seems to be improved, I mean, they have already matched the number of total wins (3) and Big Ten wins (1) from 2016.  Improvement from the previous year was inevitable.  The bottom is the bottom.  But can they compete with the big boys?  Transitively, they are in the conversation as PSU needed a miracle to knock off Iowa, but I don't know if Sparty is ready for the speed and aggressiveness they are about to endure.    

As always, this game will be decided by turnovers and who runs the ball better.  The first is a crapshoot and the latter, while not a super strength from an offensive standpoint, I cannot imagine Sparty getting any significant yards on the ground.  Trust in Don Brown.  Swarm to the ball.  Beat Michigan State.

You're Kind of a Dick, Pete

pt-5students-spirit.jpg

A third of the way through the season was enough.  A semi-regular scheduled B1G cupcake showed signs of life under a new regime, and presented a unique opportunity to play in a somewhat big time game on the road.  It was time to show something.  And that statement applied to several facets of the game.  Wilton needed to show he could handle some pressure and make some throws, the line needed to show it could hold off the pass rush and/or make a couple of holes to assist in establishing a run game, and the coaching staff needed to show they had the ability to call plays that recognize our weaknesses.  So here we are all giddy to finally show the world that we are not the team that left Cincinnati and Air Force with varying degrees of second-half hope, and that we were ready to roll with the patented scripted first drive on the road in a hostile (in a Disney kind of way) environment and we....

4 plays, 11 yards PUNT,  3 plays, 7-yards PUNT, 3-plays, -6 yards LOSE YOUR QUARTERBACK and PUNT

Dick

Dick

Uninspiring, frustrating, and absolutely familiar.  I couldn't help but think to myself (when I wasn't wondering if I'd make it through the sweat lodge of an afternoon we endured) that I'd already been to this game 3 times.  It's uncomfortable.  No matter what you think is on the horizon in the form of adjustments, you have to wonder why we don't have a gameplan that is serviceable for the first half kickoff.

So John O'Korn strolls in on his big white horse and as we cross over into the 2nd quarter he leads one of those Michigan drives of yesteryear.  13 plays, 6+ minutes of eye test butter.  Dude is seeing the field better.  He's making throws on the run.  He's side stepping the rush like Wilton used to, and using the tight end like Griese used to...while Pep and Drevno called plays like DeBord used to!  Wait, scratch that last one.  The "gotta be Wilton's fault" portion of fanbase starts breaking their arms patting themselves on the back, not even paying attention as Purdue goes the length of the field in less than two minutes to tie it up.

The word of mouth version of the historical record of this game will contend that John O'Korn was a marvel of efficiency and went on to, from this point, lead Michigan on a 21-3 run to finish the game, saving the offense and righting the Michigan Football ship.  Which, kinda.

HOWEVA...

The first half for Michigan ended with INTERCEPTION, PUNT, PUNT.  The second half started with PUNT, FUMBLE.  For those 5 possessions, Michigan's offense looked as middling as ever.  And to be fair to his predecessor, it should be noted that O'Korn had bad passes (wide open Grant Perry), mis-reads, and took sacks.

DifficultImperturbableAustraliancattledog-small.gif

Purdue had the lead in this game until 2:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter.  That's two full quarters of shiny new savior quarterback with just 1 touchdown to show for it.  And that's against a defense that, while having at the helm the coordinator most likely to scare you into pooping your pants, will firmly reside at the lower rung of defenses we will face this season.  What I'm saying is, offensively, things are not great, things are not fixed, and if you think Dickbag McGoo is bringing Little Brother in here in two weeks to lay down under the lights, you've got another thing coming.  That asshat will throw the Iowa game to get the extra prep in for us.  He's got nothing to lose.

OK, OK, allow me to join the Michigan optimist set for a set for just a moment.  The 4th quarter did get those warm fuzzies percolating.  Three consecutive touchdown drives that checked all the boxes (running, passing, clock ticking) put a pretty bow on a game that was 100% won by a defense that decided not to allow yards in the 2nd half.  The defense has gasoline and a flamethrower, but there's no question O'Korn was a spark.  We seemed to respond better to his play, and had better execution of what seemed to be a simpler offense geared for the backup.  WE FOUND THE TIGHT ENDS.  Evans's hole hitting timing was on a couple times.  And don't forget about the extra fuel provided by what could only be classified as "Purdue is a bunch of dicks." 

Dick #2

Dick #2

Dick #3

Dick #3

Mid-week mouthiness, multiple ejections for dangerous hits, and apparently making Boilers in no way qualifies you for making Air Conditioners, as the visitor locker room was so steamy the boys spent halftime on the team bus.  That's some middle-school facility shit fellas.  What are you doing with your share of the bowl game money that you get even though you haven't been to one in 5 years?  Is it drum care?  How much drum does a college football team need?

In the end Saturday became an on-paper triumph.  Michigan covers the 10.5 point spread to appease the poll and power rankings geeks, and has a bye week to work on the O'Korn offensive packages in what Coach is calling "improvement week" before hosting Sparty in a UTL affair.  

Time to prepare your livers folks.  Go Blue!

Game page with pics, etc, is here.