Monday, September 25, 2006

Spartan Guard Duty

I don't have time for a full post right now, but here's a fun photo for you all.

Props to my buddy Nick for passing this gem along:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Notre Dame/Too Much Complaining/New Commit

I've got ten minutes before I have to leave for the women's soccer game, so it's time to finally try and get in some comments about Notre Dame:

Obviously it's already been stated what a huge win this was for our program. To go down to South Bend and win--let alone as convincingly as they did--was bigger than Charlie Weis.

To me, the best part of the game was that last drive--before we ran back the fumble--when the defense just got after Quinn. In the past, they would have sat back, ND probably would've scored to cut it to 12, and though we probably still would have won, it would've been a little more nerve-racking than it needed to be. English let them pin their ears back, and Quinn paid the price.

The one big downer in the game was the drive right before halftime. The bend-don't-break returned and the Irish had plenty of time to drive down the field and score. Hopefully a lesson was learned and we don't see that again. They hadn't moved the ball on us the entire day to that point, no reason to make things easy on them by sitting back.

But if that's the biggest complaint I can come up with, you know we did good. Henne shook off a bad first throw to have one of the best games of his career, and with every ball that fell into Manningham's hands, you know Lloyd was over there saying "Got you, biiiitch!" to everyone who was freaking about us not throwing the ball down the field in the first two games.

I have to comment about the Notre Dame fans. In no place that I've been have I had the pleasure of attending a game with such a classy group of people. Sure there were one or two obnoxious people who were on the drunk side, but by and large their fanbase was nothing but class. Seriously, the meanest thing that anyone said to us the entire day was, "I love that helmet grill! Too bad it's for the wrong team!" At one point I turned to my dad and was wishing that someone would come along and say "F--- Michigan" just because I'm so used to it. It was almost weird how nice people were. The ushers would shake your hand on the way in and say "Welcome to Notre Dame", people were coming up to us after the game saying congratulations and drive home safely.

Perfect example of how cool they were down there, and how far out of our comfort zone were were based on past road game experiences (::cough:: Columbus ::cough::): My roommate snapped a photo. The usher came by and was like "Give me your camera". He hesitated, and was about to ask "What for?" before the guy continued "And I'll take a picture of your whole group." Another person in our group later said that he was about to grab my roommate's arm and be like, "NO DON'T GIVE IT TO HIM!". I guess South Bend isn't down with Franklin Counnnnnnty.

Other observations:
-Their student section puts ours to absolute shame. Not that I think we have a bad student section by any means. But theirs is just awesome. And if you need an example of why I say that, no one left the game early. By the end of the game, it was still as full as it was at the start. And not a sole left until after the band had played their postgame show. It was impressive.

-Plenty of mgoshirts walking around. The "Returning to Glory Since 1993" one never ceases to crack me up.

-Lastly, they may call Notre Dame Stadium the Little Big House, but we've got an edge in one very important way: All stadiums should be required to have bathrooms like Michigan Stadium's. A wall, a pipe shooting water down it, and a drain. That's all you need. Pick a spot on the wall and let it fly. Huge line? I'm in and out in 4 minutes. Notre Dame had a trough (which still gets bonus points because those are still faster than the usual urinal) for 6 people, 1 urinal, and 3 stalls in our section's restroom. It took forever. Give me a wall I can piss on anyday. Best. System. Ever.

On to other action around the country:
-Louisville appears to have inherited The Year of Infinite Pain from Michigan. How do you lose both of your Heisman candidates in a 3 week span? Ugh. Luckily the Big East suuuucks.

-Temple is the worst team ever. How do you lose 62-0 back to back weeks? That has to be a first.

-Oklahoma: STFU. Seriously. You lost. Yes it sucks. Yes you probably got jobbed. Are you the only team in history to have a game influenced by bad officiating? Uhhh no. Should the President of the university get involved and ask to have the game stricken from the record books? NO. Should you be threatening to cancel a game against Washington unless the conference changes their officiating procedure? NO.

At some point you just end up looking like whining little bitches. Don't give up 34 points next time and bad calls won't matter. Even most Michigan fans who complained about the 2001 screw-job in East Lansing at least acknowledged that Michigan screwed up enough in that game that it shouldn't have come to the point that Sparty Bob could blatantly cheat.

-USC: OMG Corso gave away your secret code. Like any coach worth a damn couldn't catch that one on film. It's not like he gave away the frequency of the QB's headset or anything.

Finally, Michigan hockey got a new commit, and they're getting younnnnger! This one is a 91 birthday. He was 9 when I graduated high school. That scares me. He's supposed to be gross. He's definitely big. He's committed to the NTDP after next year, which means he is good. And now he's playing with Kenny Ryan, so hopefully they'll strike up a friendship. Hopefully more on Chris Brown later, but I gotta go watch some soccer.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Predicting The Chase

Very quickly as I'm about to head out to my hockey game, but here is my ranking of the ten drivers chasing the Nextel Cup:

The Favorites:
1. Matt Kenseth-Pains me to say it, but he's the favorite to take this thing home. He was on fire during the "Race to the Chase" and he erased Jimmy Johnson's huge points lead.

2. Kevin Harvick-If Kenseth isn't the hottest driver in the series, then Harvick probably is. I debated long and hard about putting him #1, but that'd be kind of a homer move, since he's my favorite driver. He's going to make a nice run at taking home both the Nextel Cup and Busch series championships. He'd have to go Maurice Clarett to not take home the Busch title at this point.

3. Tony Stew......oh wait. HARRRRRRRRRRRRR!

3. Jimmy Johnson-He hasn't been worth two craps for the last two months, but you have to wonder if the 48 team hasn't been taking it a little easy, knowing that they were solidly into the Chase. He's come so close to winning his first title, this could be the year if he can get back to how he was driving at the start of the series.

The Second Tier:
4. Kyle Busch-He's kind of a dark horse to win the whole thing, but he's been strong from about the midway point of the elapsed season on. I don't think he's got the head on his shoulders yet to pull it off, but he could make some noise.

5. Jeff Gordon-This team is hard to figure out. They're like the little girl with the curl. When they're good, they're very good, but when they're bad (like last week) they're horrid. That said, it's hard to count out a guy that's won that many titles and that many races.

Not This Year:
6. Kasey Kahne-Drove his ass off to make the Chase, and at one point this year was WAY up there in points (3rd I think). If one guy in the bottom five on my list could win the title, Kahne could. He's pretty strong on a lot of the tracks in the Chase as well.

7. Dale Earnhardt Junior-He drives me nuts, and I really don't think he's consistent enough to win the title, but if he got some luck to go his way, he might make a run at it. I'd be surprised though. Having a restrictor plate race in the Chase should help him. Though one DNF can kill your title hopes and it wouldn't shock me a bit if Junior is the first guy to drop out of contention.

8. Denny Hamlin-Too young, not good enough on the non-flat-tracks to make a serious run.

Gotta Win a Race First:
9. Jeff Burton-They've run well all year and I was happy to see him make the Chase, but they haven't finished races, and in a format like this, you have to finish races.

10. Mark Martin-It'd be a nice send off for a great guy (even though my girlfriend hates him--I think she's the only person in the world), but it's not going to happen. I'd be amazed if someone could win the title without winning a race. He runs consistently, but not high enough in the standings (only 5 or 6 top fives this year and no wins). Probably won't DNF, but he's not going to run well enough to win the title.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Disappointing? Sure.

I don't have many comments about the Michigan/CMU game. I had to work the Michigan volleyball game that afternoon and due to the weather delay I only saw up until halftime. I still don't get the panic though. Yes, I too would have liked to have seen Henne throw the ball once in awhile. A downfield pass or two might have been helpful. But at the same time, they've literally shown Notre Dame nothing. The preseason is over. We took care of the teams that we needed to beat, and now it's time to play for keeps.

The good news is that Mike Hart is healthy coming into this game, which is huge. Due to the fact that we threw the ball about 6 times last week, the new zone blocking scheme has gotten plenty of reps in game conditions. I don't see any reason that we shouldn't be able to run the ball on Notre Dame and keep AJ Hawk's brother-in-law off the field (That right there is the kind of knowledge that you can only get from The Blog That Yost Built. I bet you had no idea that Brady Quinn's sister was married to AJ Hawk).

It also needs to be mentioned that as bad as Michigan's defense was last year, we only gave up 17 points and 140 passing yards to the Irish. I'd take that kind of effort against Quinn again this year. Especially if we can get Shawn "WHY WE ONLY GOT FOUR GUYS" Crable or Woodley into the backfield to lay the wood to him a few times.

It's going to be interesting, that's for sure. I'm very excited to be going to the game, but at the same time, I'm going to be missing a lot of good football games on tv. I can't believe the slate for this weekend. Here's to a great big Meeeechigan victory, and the Cardinals giving Miami a little payback.

To the other football game of this past weekend:
Losing 26-0 to the Bears is not the way I wanted to start the season. After the game, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach repeatedly and then told me that Jack Johnson went pro. But after a week of reflection, I really don't feel all that bad about the game anymore.

The Packers were clearly overmatched coming into the game. The Bears are a legit NFC Contender and the Packers were breaking in a rookie head coach, three new starters on an offensive line that's learning a new blocking scheme, a fullback making his first start, a rookie WR, and six new starters on defense under a new defensive coordinator. Not to mention a new kicker and punter.

But overall, Favre played ok. He protected the ball well until the game was out of reach and he started winging it. The two INTs are nothing to be concerned about (especially since one of them wouldn't have happened had a blatant pass interference call been flagged).

The best sign was that Ahman Green ran the ball pretty well. He had some burst, he showed the ability to make one cut and hit the hole (which Gado couldn't seem to figure out, hence the trade today...which was still a surprise to me). If he can be back full strength, he could be the key to turning that offense around.

The offensive line hurt them. Every time the Packers would start to put a drive together, there would be an untimely hold or sack allowed. Moll screwed up on the 4th and inches and cost them a first down (though Green actually got it on the play before). But when you have rookie guards, things like that are going to happen. What was really shocking was how bad Clifton and Tauscher played though. Can't have that.

Despite the 26 points allowed, the defense was actually pretty darn good. 7 was on a punt return and 3 was gifted to the Bears via a Noah Herron fumbled kickoff. That means that despite being on the field for 20 minutes or so in the first half, and being put in bad field position, the defense essentially allowed just 16 points. And the touchdown was just a blown coverage by a safety that's just coming off an injury and hasn't gotten many reps. Kampman was active, Barnett and Hawk were getting to the ball. The one downer was Brady Poppinga "covering" the tight end the way Brandon Williams used to not cover wide receivers. Ugh.

The Bears are one of the toughest teams they'll face all year. It sucks to get hit in the junk like that right out of the gate, but as long as they learn from it and improve because of it, they'll be ok. I expected some lumps early on, but I think around the midway point of this season they'll start to become a pretty good football team. Especially if Green can run like he did Sunday.

As for Koren Robinson: Character risk, no doubt. But I imagine that it's a fairly risk-free contract for the Packers. If he screws up again, he's gone. That simple. And as long as he's not suspended or in jail, they get a Pro Bowl return man, and a WR with potential, who is clearly better than Robert Ferguson or Ruvell Martin. Add in Morency and they drastically upgraded their special teams this week. No more Noah Herron fumbles.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the absurd contract that Rick DiPietro was given by the New York Islanders. What dude? Even ignoring the fact that he hasn't proven to be anything special and that if he gets hurt this year and has to call it quits, the Islanders are facing $5 million in dead money on their cap for the next decade and a half, the contract still makes no sense. Why would you give anyone that kind of deal, especially when the money is guaranteed? I wouldn't give Alexander freaking Ovechkin a 15 year deal at this point, simply because too much can happen.

What if he proves to be nothing more than an average goalie? You're locked into him until you draft a player who at this time is three years old. That contract makes him more untradable than Charles Rogers was.

You would think that the Islanders of all teams would know not to sign a player for that long of a term after that ridiculous contract they gave Alexei Yashin (which has worked out really well by the way).

There's no possible way to justify it. Sure he could turn out to be the best goalie in the league, and then you've got him at a bargain price. But chances are that by the end of the contract, he's not going to be great. What goalies have been stars at the age of 40? Hasek. Roy was close. Belfour was very good the year before the lockout as a 38 year old. But that's pretty much your list in recent history.

Even if you think the guy is an absolute stud, why not a 7 or 8 year contract? You'd still lock him in through his prime. He's more tradable toward the end of the contract if you decide to go in a different direction. And if he gets hurt, you're only screwed for half as many years.

Apart from finding a way to top "We fired our GM and hired our backup goalie" as the most screwed up sports headline of the summer, there's no other justification for this deal. It's franchise-crippling at worst, and reckless & irresponsible at absolute best.

Friday, September 08, 2006

CMU: What I Would Like to See

A quick take on what I would like to see tomorrow:

-Henne to be more accurate, though I still don't think he was as bad last week as people seemed to think.
-The offensive line to give him more time to throw. They'll face a good test against Dan Bazuin and it would be nice to see them come out on top in that one.
-Execution by the offense, so that we can put this thing away and build some depth by getting guys some PT.
-More of the same out of the defense. Another effort like last week's and I will be VERY happy.
-Steve Breaston fair catching a punt so he doesn't get smoked every time.
-Our STs to actually lay a hand on the gunners.
-The replay officials to actually do their job properly. If I can tell live action that a call is wrong, there's no reason that a) It shouldn't be replayed and b) That they should still manage to get the call wrong.
-This goes along with building depth, but I really want to get a good look at Minor and Brown.
-The tight ends to actually catch the ball.
-A nice big Meeeechigan victory along the lines of 45-10.
-And following the game, I'd like to see a nice turnout at Crisler Arena to watch the volleyball game. If you haven't been to one, I promise you'll love it. Those games are awesome (the scenery ain't bad either--Note: If anyone in the department is reading this, I'm completely talking about the beauty of Crisler and Keen Arena here) and they're giving away some pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Thoughts on Opening Weekend

I don’t watch video of football games. Especially non-conference games against bad teams. So many others out there (Think mgoblog, IBFC, The Wolverine, and a slew of others) break things down much better than I could ever hope to, so I stick with watching the game live and forming my thoughts based on what I saw real time.

That said, here are one man’s thoughts on the opener against Vandy:

I don’t get why so many people seemed to be flipping out. The boards seemed to be upset, the fans were booing (at least at halftime) and today, my boss (who cares enough about Michigan football that he was one of the ones at the Michigan Fantasy Camp a few weeks back) said that he thinks we’re “In for a long season” based on what he saw. I don’t agree. I saw almost everything I wanted to see out of that team.

The defense was outstanding. If this is what Ron English is going to bring to the table every week, then frankly it’s not going to be too long before the NFL comes a-calling again (Caveat: It was Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler was nowhere to be found). They were aggressive, he seems to be all about taking Crable’s strengths and utilizing them as much as possible. The linemen were getting after it, against what is apparently a very strong offensive line. Apart from one blown coverage on a gimmick play, the defense gave up almost nothing the entire day. It was wonderful to see.

The offense was shaky at times. Henne missed some throws for sure, he pulled the ball down too much for a guy that’s not all that fast, the receivers dropped far too many passes, and the offensive line probably didn’t protect Henne as well as they would have liked.

But all that said: If Manningham’s catch/fumble isn’t overturned (another wonderful call by the replay official by the way…how can you get the benefit of replay and still f--- up more than you get it right?), if Massey makes that catch on the wheel route down the sideline (which he needs to make, even if it was slightly overthrown) and if Breaston catches that ball that hit him between the 1 and the 5 on the slant, you’re talking probably at least 14 more points on the board. Suddenly it’s a 41-7 final and everyone feels 10 times better about things.

Looking at the way teams like FSU, Miami, and Notre Dame faired on offense this weekend, maybe we should be complaining just a wee bit less, no? Hart showed he’s back 100%, the two freshmen RBs looked awesome, Grady looked faster (and he was down on that fumble, I swear to God). The tight ends (all of them) need to be better about catching the ball, but it seemed like they were getting open (again, against Vandy).

I gotta say, I came out of that game feeling pretty darn good about Michigan’s chances this season. I still don’t think Notre Dame or OSU is nearly as good as everyone thinks that they are (though it’s tough getting both of them on the road, and adding Penn State to the mix as well).

I think the new timing rules are absolutely asinine. If you punt and the ball goes out of bounds, exactly why is the clock restarting before the snap? It makes no sense! I saw Florida State take 3 delay of game penalties in the first half last night (Maybe the first quarter?) because of clock issues. I don’t get the logic on that one at all. And it seems that the coaches universally hate this rule. It has the feeling of being around for one year and then going the way of Fox’s Glow-Puck.

Other random thoughts:
-Again, I still don’t get how the replay official in the booth can look at it, and still obviously get the call wrong 50% of the time. There was “indisputable video evidence” to overturn Manningham’s catch? Really? I’ll dispute that one til I’m blue in the face!

-Grady’s fumble: They showed the replay ON TV at least 2 times before the ball was snapped again. How do they not think that one is close enough to look at? They’re reviewing every play right?

-It sucks hard core about Michael Bush going down. I was really looking forward to watching the Brohm and Bush show this year. And looking forward to my #2 team The Ville (I’m from there, my mom went there, I’m allowed to root for em without it being sports bigamy…I’d never root for them over Michigan) stopping that West Virginia hype. On the bright side, the backup running backs looked very good, and Brohm looks like he’s fully recovered from that knee injury. It’s too bad to see a kid get hurt when he decided to stay in school even though he was a 1st round lock. That doesn’t happen nearly often enough, and when these guys see something like that happen to Bush, I can’t imagine it’s going to help get kids to stay in school.

-Colorado. Wow bad.

-I had to laugh when I saw "T-Good" with the big #5-2 on the field for Miami last night. That will never cease to be funny to me.

-Florida State and Miami need to agree to not play each other opening weekend anymore. These games are just awful displays of offense. I like good defense as much as the next guy (and both those teams obviously have great ones) but maybe they could play a little later when both teams are in mid-season form. Last night’s game was better than last year’s but still…it put the ugh in ugly.

-Tiger Woods is just incredible to watch. I don't think that in my lifetime there's been an athlete that is that far in a class by himself. Michael Jordan would be closest, but there were still guys like Magic and Bird who you could at least put in the conversation. Nobody is close to Woods. It's amazing to see someone be on their game that often, no matter how much pressure is there. 21 of his last 24 rounds (give or take) have been in the 60s? Who does that?

-RIP Steve Irwin. I know it’s probably not the most shocking thing in the world that something happened to him, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. He seemed like a really great guy, and it’s nice to see someone with that much enthusiasm for their work, and for helping kids learn.