I hope Tuesday's post didn't relax you too much, just as I hope this one doesn't have you tossing and turning all weekend...
1) Catching Balls That Are Kicked: And no, I'm not referring those that are kicked illegally, a la Nebraska - Missouri 1997. I'm talking about last year, when the defense had a rare stop, forcing a punt. You were so excited to get the ball back, hoping against all odds that the offense was going to finally put together a drive. Unfortunately, it seemed that the rare defensive stop often had it's effectiveness nullified by a muffed punt. Sometimes we'd fall on it, sometimes the other team would. Sometimes we'd catch it, and then fumble it when an unblocked gunner would lay the returner out. Kickoff returns, and we had a lot of them, weren't any better. Word from this year's "fall" practice has not been good.
Michigan's punt returners are having problems catching (or judging) the ball. During the morning punt period, with no oncoming cover team, return men Carlos Brown, Terrence Robinson and Martavious Odomsdropped three consecutive catchable balls. Mathews finally broke the streak with an easy snag on a line drive punt near the sideline.
Lots of drops. I hope that somebody very sure handed ends up back there. We should be willing to give up homerun ability for someone that looks the ball into their two hands. In other words, I won't be upset if Steve Schilling is back there returning kicks, as long as his big mits envelop the pigskin. There's so many big play guys on the offense, that we can't afford to take it out of their hands.
2) Kicking Balls Through A Goalpost: I don't know what it is about Michigan and kicking. I only know that I haven't been comfortable with field goal kicking in 15 years. There were always rumors that we don't give scholarships to kickers, or we don't recruit them hard. I don't know why. Two of last year's defeats were 3-points or less. Oh, and remember App State? (sorry). But the new regime is here now, and they recruited the #8 kicker in the class of 2009 in Brendan Gibbons. The problem is,according to this article, Gibbons hasn't pulled away from a 5th year walk on that hasn't been on the field since 2006. Now, some would read that and think that we've got two good kickers battling it out tit-for-tat from 52-yards out. I'm just not one of those people. I envision them shanking 30-yarders with regularity, which I can only pray is not the case in 9 short days.
3) The KFC Double Down Sandwich: It seems that the mainstream fast food nation is starting to become as creative as the crazy bastards at This Is Why Your Fat. The Double Down is bacon, two kinds of cheese, and a mystery sauce...between two pieces of fried chicken. That's right, no bun...just chicken.
Thats it? That is the sandwich? Thats not worth five dollars. <takes a bite> Oh oh my God. That is the best thing ever. I don'y know what Colonels Sauce is, but it is like a party in my mouth. This is completely worth the five dollars. Unfortunately I'm going to end up weighing 700 lbs after this, but it is simply amazing.
What you should worry about is that this, if successful, really opens up a whole new genre of "sandwich." Next will be bacon and cheese and sauce between bacon and cheese, or two quarter pound patties with bacon and cheese and sauce wrapped in smoked brisket with sausage gravy and au jus dipping sauce. But hey...no carbs.
4) Depth: I'll make this simple. If anybody on that D-Line goes down, I'll see you back at the tailgate. OK, maybe that's extreme, but we're extremely light on that side of the ball. So cross your fingers with every official's time out.
5) Mark Dantonio: If you listen to the media, you'd think this guy had MSU on the cusp of multiple Big Ten championships, that he's out recruiting us, and that he's really building something in East Lansing. The truth is, Michigan State hasn't sniffed a conference title in 22 years, has not signed anybody that we want, and only finds Dantonio to be the second coming because their previous coaches were complete retards. It's lose-lose for Sparty anyway. If Dantonio ever manages to get double digit wins in East Lansing, he'd just leave and get a real college coaching job. But in the world of college football, perception is reality, and that's why this guy worries me. I don't want a Sparty coach to have decent press conferences and say the right things (despite picking fights with Mike Hart). I want him to slap himself in the face, go for the two-point conversion in the first quarter, and mismanage 21-point leads. But most of all, I don't want little brother to ever...EVER...beat us in consecutive seasons.
9 days. Tailgate dry run this weekend!