Monday, September 26, 2005

Another Stellar Football Weekend

Let's talk about Michigan first.

This season is sapping my excitement for football right out. I can't even bring myself to bitch and holler at the TV during Michigan games anymore because I know how they're all going to turn out. When Henne went John Navarre and sacked himself on the last play of the game, I just laughed (and Johnny did that on the same field the last time we played the Badgers). It was a fitting end.

If it weren't for the hockey coverage and The Fort message board, I'd probably be cancelling my Rivals membership right now, because I just don't give a damn about football recruiting anymore. How many years have we brought in these great classes, only to see it not pan out on the field. Burgess and Crable and Mundy oh my! We're set for the next 4 years. Except that Burgess is only now starting to become a decent linebacker, Charles Drake Mundy hurt his shoulder--not by tackling someone I assume--and it may have actually helped the team, and the only thing Crable has contributed was his absolutely hilarious "WHY WE ONLY GOT FOUR GUYS????" comment during a Michigan Hockey penalty kill. I'm fully confident that we could bring in 15 5 star guys next year and still manage to go 9-3 every year.

If we lose to Michigan State this weekend, as is looking pretty likely, there need to be some answers. That'd be 3 losses in the first 5 games of the season, 2-5 over the last 7 games, and we'd be able to say that we've lost our last game to MSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Iowa, and our bowl game. That's not an elite program. That's not a second tier program.

I love Lloyd Carr to death, but I'm starting to wonder if this shouldn't be the end of an era. I know the man has made back to back Rose Bowls, won back to back Big 10 titles, but holy crap. If it's not the end of Lloyd, it sure as hell better be the end of some of his staff. I know he said before the season that he'd never let anyone tell him what to do in terms of his staff, but something needs to be changed in this program.

We're losing more regularly, we haven't escaped our first road game unscathed since I was a freaking senior in high school, and I've got my degree from U of M now. We're staring 4 out of 5 against Ohio State in the face. We've lost 3 of 4 to ND. We've lost 3 of 4 bowl games. And on top of that, we're a freaking underdog against Michigan State. What dude?

What do these numbers have in common: 31, 34, 28, 45, 30, 28, 38? Those are how many points we've given up in our bowl games since the national championship year. That works out to a 33.4 average. That's not acceptable.

As for the game itself....first off, anyone harping on Michigan going for it on 4th and goal from the 1 and not getting in should punch themselves in the face. I understand some people saying that on the road, you take the points. But I also don't believe for a second that when Henne and co. stayed out on the field that nearly every Wolverine fan out there wasn't applauding the decision, and saying that Lloyd finally got some balls. It didn't work, so be it.

The 9 second field goal...Lloyd said that he wasn't aware that they put time back on the clock. Well if he didn't, then he's dumb. Just dumb. It's a dead ball penalty but you don't think they're going to put time back on the clock? If he thought they weren't putting time back on, then he should've been in the refs' face to get him to put time back on. Not an excuse.

Henne still looks awful. I can't believe how that guy has regressed. Breaston is invisible, and Manningham should be starting. If Breaston is that banged up, maybe he should stop fielding every damn punt that's skipping along the ground before he gets himself killed.

I still love how Max Martin runs. If that kid could just hold on to the damn ball.........We miss Mike Hart bad. I think a healthy Hart will go a long way toward making Henne and the others look better, but there's still no reason that we shouldn't have beaten that joke of a team by 10+ points.

The defense looked pretty good again I thought. It was just at the end of the game when they had been on the field for the whole half that they started to fold. Next week is the big test though. We'll see then if they've actually learned anything in the last 8-9 months. I'm worried.

As for the Packers, I could pretty much just repost my post about last week's game, "The Little Things" because it was the same thing again. I'm going to say this again. The NFL needs to do something about these turnovers that can't be reviewed. The Packers lost 7 points because of it. They ruled Griese's arm was coming forward and blew the play dead (very late I might add) as an incomplete pass. Too bad the replay showed it wasn't even close. That should've been a fumble and touchdown. But they couldn't even get the ball when they reviewed it. Sherman's challenge was upheld and the result was a loss of 7 yards for the Bucs. Yippee. There's just no arguing that something needs to be done about that. If instant replay is supposed to correct huge errors by the refs, then they need to find a way to review down by contact rulings, and plays where they rule the QB's arm was coming forward. 7 points is the difference in that game--and it would be in a lot of NFL games in this era of parity. They can't take plays like that away from teams every week and not expect it to have an impact.

Favre needs to realize that the team he plays for just isn't that good, and instead of trying to carry them to a victory every week, just rein it in a little bit, and not force things. They can't overcome 2 or 3 picks every single week. He needs to stop throwing the ball up for grabs when he doesn't have JWalk there to come down with it. The defense is much better than I thought it would be, but there's nothing you can do when the Bucs run 22 plays in Packers territory out of 25 in the first half.

The guards are horrible. There's just no room for Ahman Green to run. I wonder how much longer they can go with Will Whittacker at RG, especially when their 4th and 5th best offensive linemen are sitting on the bench in Kevin Barry and Scott Wells. Sherman has to be considering the idea of moving Tauscher to RG and putting Barry in at RT. I know they don't want to do that, because it would basically eliminate their U-71 package, but to be honest, it hasn't worked at all this year. I think teams have figured it out a little better, and it's kind of obvious when they run to the side of the 3rd tackle every single time. They don't pass out of that formation, they don't run to the other side in that formation. Yes it helps to have a 6th offensive lineman in there, but when 2 of them are crap and the defense knows where you're going to run, the benefit goes away in a hurry.

Wells looked pretty good at center last year, and they were projecting him as a guard. He's gotta be better than Klemm. Klemm is pretty good as a pass blocker, but that guy can't move and they need someone that can do that for their run plays.

The defense If they can get Jim Bates some talent in this offseason, I'd love to see what he could do. They did a great job on Cadillac until the last drive, and the pass defense didn't do too badly either. They're exactly middle of the pack in YPG, exactly middle of the pack in PPG given up, and middle of the pack against the pass and against the run. And that's with an extreme lack of talent. The only thing missing is takeaways. They've only got 1 in 3 games (though 2 were called back by down by contact and shouldn't have been). But that will come with more playmakers on that side of the ball. They need another pass rusher and they need a playmaker in the secondary. I'm fully convinced at this point that Bates is the answer, and I hope they can keep him around long enough to let him make a true impact.

I can't believe the parallels that are running between Michigan and the Packers. If you told me before the year that GB's defense would be 14-16 in most major categories, and that Michigan's defense would play the way they have, and they'd combine to lose 5 of their first 7 games, I would have been shocked. These were two of the most highly regarded offenses in the country and neither has performed even close to expactations. It's disappointing.

I'm not sure what else can go wrong for the two of those football teams. Losing on a missed PAT after you lose 10 points directly from bad no-calls (an intentional grounding flag was picked up that would've knocked the Bucs out of FG range and forced a punt). Ugh.

One more note: You don't always get to hear this kind of thing in the crowd, and it's one of the reasons that I like timing the Michigan soccer and field hockey games so much. In the monsoon yesterday at the Michigan soccer field, Steve Burns put in Tolo Olowolafe with about 20 minutes left in the game. The ball went in on goal and Olowolafe pulled up. The goalie ended up bobbling the ball, and Burns yelled "Tolo! Play that ball right into his hands, he's bobbling everything!"

With just over a minute left in regulation time, Jake Stacy played the ball into the box, the goalie came diving out to play it and it skipped off his hands. Olo was chasing the ball down and after it came off the goalie's hands he had a wide open net for the winning goal. Big win for the Wolverines to open the Big 10. They lost 5-0 to Northwestern last year in the B10 Tourney and the Wildcats returned pretty much their whole team. Nice win in those conditions, capitalizing on their only shot on goal of the game.

Starting to get excited about hockey. The Wings are looking great in the preseason, and Michigan hockey plays their first exhibition game on Sunday. Nothing like dropping 15 goals on a Canadian team to help you forget this joke of a football season. That game could get really ugly. Toronto lost 15-1 to Lake State last season. I'm looking forward to it.


Packer487 said...

That's cool. If there's anything the world needs it's more scommesse.

Packer487 said...

That's a very good point. The lack of success they've had in goal-to-go-from-inside-the-one situations is alarming. It shouldn't be that hard...where's the Breaston at QB package they ran against OSU 2 years ago (I think)? If he's hurt, give Bass a shot at it.
Where's the QB play action bootleg on the goalline, that works a high percentage of the time?
I'm hoping we'll upset MSU (God that's hard to say....), but I just don't see it right now. Maybe if Hart is back healthy....I do think we're 4-0 if he's 100%...And we'd be a very overrated football team still.