Nice and Easy

I was pissed when we scheduled Delaware State.  Of course I know that these things are beyond our control, and that we did our due diligence to get an FBS opponent, but there's something slightly embarrassing about scheduling a game like this.  It's diffiult to explain to the not-so-football-savvy co-worker, to outline the complexities of the politics and the apprehension of any BCS participating school to give a home game away without getting a return game in the future.  I guess the simple answer is that this, like most things, is about money.  We've already got our big non-conference home-at-home in the Notre Dame series, and it's just not fiscally sound to add another in this era where football covers the cost of the non-revenue (read: chick) sports.  We used to do it.  We used to travel west every few years to face a Pac-10 opponent.  We also used to lose that game pretty much every time, so there's that.

In retrospect however, I think the Delaware State game was spectacular, and a wonderful idea.  Ignoring the once in a millennium chance of the unthinkable happening, I can only find positives in the scheduling of a team that would have been better served playing the night before at Hollway Field...

The bulk of the regular starters got a full week of practice, a full week of learning more of The System, and then got to run a few series before giving way to the second and third team.  Minor got another week to quell his nagging injuries, and Brown and Forcier were able to reorganize their marbles.

New names and faces found their way into the record book, which is good both for experience and for team morale.  Nothing brings a team together more than cheering for their own, for guys that haven't seen the field, and may have never had the chance if it weren't for a game like this.  For lack of a better reference, it's like Rudy, but without the blatant no call on the offsides penalty.

Stat-tastic.  Michigan racked up a program record 727 yards on Saturday.  And while this means little with regards to this team's chances in their remaining 5 Big Ten contests, it is, in fact, historic.  Should we be boasting about racking up 700+ against Delaware State?  No.  But in the annals of Michigan history, Delaware State is not the worst team we have ever taken the field it means something, albeit a little something.  I mean, in 1905 we played Albion and won 70-0.  In 1892 we played the Michigan Athletic club twice in 4 days, outscoring them by a total of 142-0 in an October in which Michigan played 7 games in 21 days.  But the powers that be say that 727 is a record, so it's a record.  Mark it down.  You were there.  Michigan also had 461 yards on the ground, bumping them up to #8 in the nation in rushing.  More importantly for the game promoting talking heads, the yards amassed on Saturday moved Michigan into the #2 slot in total offense in the Big Ten...#1 is Penn State, so, like, take the over.  Michigan is also #9 in the nation in scoring after putting up 63 points.  Michigan hasn't racked up that many since 1992, when they demolished Minnesota 63-13.

The Delaware State game also allowed for some new faces to make their way into the stands.  Average Joe was able to get cheap (or free) tickets and see the Big House, which is a good thing in these economic times, and is good for a growing Michigan fanbase.  Not to mention that we tailgated like the Buckeyes were on the schedule, not the Hornets.  The turnout was ridiculous for a game of this type, and there was enough food to stuff the lot of them, further showing that the gameday experience is much more than what happens on the field.

Saturday was exactly what I hoped it would be, a bye week in uniforms.  But in the end, from many aspects, it was so much more.  Five games remain, and none of them are going to be easy.  This year's Wolverines, as much as we would like them to be defined by their 5-2 record and their marked improvement over last year, will instead be defined by these final five contests.  Will they grow enough to avoid making Freshman mistakes?  Will they play well enough to overcome those mistakes if they happen?  Hell if I know...I'm just happy to be along for the ride.

Oh, and Ohio State lost to Purdue.  Which is funny.  So laugh at them, and I'll see you next week for the Old School tailgate, which is our second theme this season named after the title of a Will Ferrell movie.

When in Hell, You Still Take a Few Pictures's finest journalist James Dickson wrote an article featuring entitled The Road Warriors.  It can be found here.

Pictures (albeit only 17 of them) from the @ MSU tailgate/game are here...

Bear with us this week...short turnaround before heading to Iowa City.The All Time Sagarin ratings for NCAA basketball can be found'll find Michigan basketball two spots BETTER than MSU.  Why?  I have no idea.  Ecstatic?  Yes.  Mr. Sagarin has an open invite to the tailgate.

Go Tigers!


Add we will bring the "Big Sticks"

Mr. Robinson's Michigan Defense 2009
Now that "we" have spoken, and are rallying behind our coach and for our team, it becomes obvious that we must "All be in for Michigan". As much as we might wish and hope, a new tailgate location and our rally cries will not be enough. As we inch closer to the first the first battle here are a few of the fellas that will be backing up the Webmasters spirit with some old fashioned "wood layin". Without further ado, your Game #1 Defensive Primer.

# 55, Senior, Brandon Graham DE

BG returns to anchor the squad from the DE position and will be moved around the field and given opportunities to play upright in one of variety of cleverly named spots in a "hybridish" style. The move by new D.C. Greg Robinson will allow Graham to contribute all over the field as opposed to mainly behind the LOS. Look for Graham to lead the team onto the field and escort the opponents off the field with hard hits while he adds to his 19 career sacks while raising is NFL stock as well. The Detroit Crockett Rocket will build upon his UM legacy by improving on his 2nd team All Big Ten and Bo Schembechler Team MVP performance of 2008. Although he is not the "Spinner" I dream of at 6'2/265, he should have quarterbacks Tim Hiller and Jimmy Clausen's heads' spinning.

# 45, RS Junior, Obi Ezeh LB 

Obi is coming off a quality '08 campaign where he was named All Big Ten HM. For the past two seasons Ezeh has led the team in tackles and will most likely make that streak 3 seasons while anchoring the Wolverines at the MLB position. Obi has been given the distinguished honor of being put on the 2009 Butkus Award watch list and will definitely be a centerpiece to what is shaping up to be one of the best defenses in the Big Ten this season. Look for some increased leadership as opposing running backs will realize that the mouth guard and facemask were necessary in maintaining their facial anatomy when they run into or across the middle against UM and Obi in 2009.

# 3, Senior, Stevie Brown LB

Stevie B. has been one of the most talked about defenders during the offseason as he is making the move from Safety to the Linebacker or second "hybrid" slot under G. Rob. His propensity for huge hits should only increase as he is asked to support the run earlier in the action as well as drop into coverage. With a lack of depth at the LB position and two lock down corners this could prove to be a wise move schematically. I anticipate a big year from #3 in both tackles and interceptions, you should too.

# 68, Sophomore, Mike Martin DT

With the departure of one of UMTailgates favorite players in TT, (until this week that is), we will witness the emergence of MM. Mike Martin already showed moments of brilliance last season as a true freshmen and looks to establish himself as the leagues premiere nose tackle/D-linemen. The Four Star recruit from Detroit Catholic Central seems to be a guy that is going to play at one speed all the time and that is what we will need for success with our thin numbers on the D-Line. So get ready for the Double M chants. (Maybe M squared?)

# 6, Junior, Donovan Warren CB

Donny is a NFL to be cornerback and if you think he 'fell off ' a bit last year, it was undoubtedly due to him being injured. Donovan will re-emerge to eliminate an entire 1/2 of the field and make life alot easier and enjoyable for the aforementioned defenders.  So if its halftime and your saying, where has #6 been?  Thats a good thing!  If some jack-in-the-box QB, ie. Hiller and Clausen to begin with, try to throw at him, we probably will have the ball back.

So there is your quick primer on returning stars the entire depth chart via the Michigan Daily is here

Others to watch for:

#33, Sophomore, Boubacar Cissoko CB:  Should be bang or bust playing opposite a healthy Warren, I vote BANG

#58, RS Sophomore, Brandon Herron LB:  Will he emerge or will true freshmen C. Roh steal time here?  Big ?

#8, RS Junior, Jonas Mouton LB:  Similar situation as Herron, need at least one of two to be real solid

The Sons of Stars:

#29, Junior, Troy Woolfolk S:  Dad was UM All American, can he step in to fill void at safety?

#31, RS Sophomore, Jared Van Slyke S:  Dad was All-Star for Cards and Pirates, son needs to be big hitter w/o bat.

The True Freshmen

#88 Craig Roh OLB:  Pushing for starting spot, projects to be good, real good.

#73 Will Campbell DL:  "Chunky Soup" needs to get refitted to ass whooping shape, will get there eventually!

Well there is our first look at the Defense that will start us towards a championship, whether it is a National Championship, Big Ten Championship, State Championship or County Championship is the big question.  Health and rest by a more productive O will determine this groups legacy!  The talent is there, I expect an OUTSTANDING year from the Wing Tipped Defenders!  Its almost Saturday, Lets Go BLUE!

And Five Things You Should Be Completely Freaked Out About

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 BrownTerrence 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 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!