12. November 2016 · 1 comment · Categories: 2016

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For tonight’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we went way back, 118 years to 1898.   It was on this day 118 years ago that your beloved Wolverines faced Illinois in a game played at the Detroit Athletic Club. Heavy rains rendered the playing field a complete mess, but that didn’t stop Michigan from getting the job in the 12-6 victory.  Here’s more:

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

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07. November 2016 · Comments Off on Another Fritz Fixer-Upper (1938) | This Week In Michigan Football History · Categories: 2016

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For Saturday’s This Week in Michigan Football History we headed back 78 years to 1938, the year Fritz Crisler made his coaching debut in Ann Arbor.  Fritz was brought in to do a fixer-upper, as the Harry Kipke-era left the program in a shambles:

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

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06. November 2016 · Comments Off on Almost Point-A-Minute | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2016

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Here are the Decal Champions for week 10 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – After coming off an emotional win against your in-state rival, this game with Maryland had all the makings of a trap game if Michigan was looking ahead to Iowa on the road next week. So how did the Wolverines respond?  They pulled an Arby’s and went Five for 5 on their first half possessions and ended any speculation about an emotional let-down or an eye on the Hawkeyes.  Bob Ufer used to say, “Victory has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan.” While there is plenty of credit to be spread around for this win, I will start with Wilton Speight.  My gosh does he look in command!  He is making all the throws and even channeled a little Ricky Leach by running/jumping for a touchdown:

speight-jumpmanArtwork: @candor_for_sale (inspired by E. Upchurch photo)

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – I thought Ben Gedeon matched up well against the Terrapins in the run game and made some big stops to end a couple of Maryland drives.  That appears to be his strong suit so hopefully #42 can start to settle in and continue to do that for the balance of the year.  The Michigan Defense is going to need him down the stretch.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Once again, Kenny Allen was solid in everything he did. Nice to have him back to his old, reliable self. Upsets typically happen because the favored teams make mistakes that allow the underdogs to stay in the game and make a big play. Those plays typically happen in the kicking game, but #91 is rock-solid right now and not allowing that to happen.

COACHING CHAMPION – Think back to all those times we all criticized the previous Michigan coaching staffs for being too predictable on offense. Whether it was personnel, or down and distance, it seemed liked we ALL knew what play was going to be run when say, Carl Tabb came into the game (running play), or whoever. As I watched the Wolverine offense execute on Saturday, I was amazed at how creative, and different each play and drive was. When you thought they would run on 3rd or 4th & short, the Michigan offensive coaches threw the ball. They totally kept Maryland of guard and, save the one pass play to Jabrill Peppers on 4th down, they were almost perfect on Saturday. I get it – Maryland is still a basketball school – but the Maize and Blue did not play down to their competition – another trait of the Michigan offense that the coaches have instilled on them.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – Last week he wore #95 and this week he wore #10. What number will Juwann Bushell-Beatty wear next week? At this rate, he is on track set the record for most numbers worn by a Wolverine in a career (3) in just one season.

HONORARY CAPTAIN – Gotta give it up to my man, Rick Leach. It was great to see the Guts and Glue of the Maize and Blue back on Canham’s Carpet, er, Hackett’s Rug on Saturday! Nice to see some of the older players who re-built the Michigan Football Program during the Schembechler Years get recognized. Don’t take what these guys did for granted – they were warriors and paid the price to build a foundation of excellence that we all enjoy to this day. Also nice to see ESPN show Leach’s TD run against Duke in 1977. You know – the one where 13-year old Jimmy Harbaugh jumps on #7’s back in the endzone.
leach-harbs

I wonder where they got that clip???  :)

 

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6: Jabrill Peppers (O), (D), (ST), Entire Staff (C), White socks (Uni)
Week 7: Khalid Hill (O), Rashan Gary (D), Khaleke Hudson (ST), Coach Tyrone Wheatley (C), blue socks (Uni)
Week 8: Amarah Darboh and Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Jim Harbaugh (C), white Jumpman Towels (Uni)
Week 9: Wilton Speight (O), Ben Gedeon (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Offensive coaches (C), Juwann Bushell-Beatty and his roaming jersey # (Uni), Ricky Leach

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02. November 2016 · Comments Off on The QB Wristband Playsheet | Storytime with Dr. Sap · Categories: 2016

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Ed. Who knows the Bo era better than Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis?  NOOOOBBBOODY.  Here’s another great story from Sap:

The first three games of the 1985 season brought about some major changes to the Michigan football uniform, some thirty years ago.

In Game #3 against Maryland, the helmet manufacturer “BIKE” no longer appeared on the front of the Wolverine helmets.  “MICHIGAN” was now stickered on the front nosebumper of the maize and blue’s headgear.

nosebumper

Game #2 at South Carolina brought a smile to my face, as the helmet stickers/decals returned to the Michigan helmets after a plain-and-boring-helmet-looking two year absence in 1983 & 1984.

While these changes were somewhat cosmetic, the most impactful and most important change happened in Game #1 against Notre Dame.  The wristbands changed for the quarterbacks.  No, this wasn’t a cosmetic or color change, it was much more than that.  The wristbands had the offensive plays listed on them.  Not only did the quarterbacks wear the wristband playsheets, Cam Cameron, the Michigan Receivers Coach, did as well.  (see pics below)

michigan-playsheet-wristbands

No longer would they be used to dab sweat or look cool – the QB wristbands were now a strategic weapon in the Michigan Football arsenal.

Think that is overstating their significance and impact on the Michigan offense?  Well, in 1983 and 1984 the Michigan offense averaged just over 130 yards passing per game.  In 1985, that number jumped to 176.3 yards – the second highest average in Michigan football history at the time which was only topped by the 1947 Mad Magicians with 178.8 yards passing per game.

Worn on their non-throwing wrist, the playsheet would contain play numbers and play nomenclature.  They would contain all the passing and running plays that the team had practiced for their upcoming opponent that week.  Invariably, that would mean there were anywhere from 50 to 250 plays on that little wristband.

When I asked Coach Jerry Hanlon where they got the idea to use the wristband playsheet he didn’t recall it as being a big deal.  “We probably stole it from another school,” he joked to me.  “You talk with all these other coaches about things – what has been working, what hasn’t been working – so that’s probably where the idea came from.”

First used in the NFL in 1965 by Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts and as early as 1961 in the college ranks at Alabama with Bear Bryant, the QB Wristband Playsheet had been around for a while – just not at Michigan.

In the 1970’s, Bo would talk on the phone with Hanlon who was upstairs in the press box.  After asking, “What do you want, Jerry?” Bo sent in the plays with offensive guards that rotated in and out of the game.  It looked and sounded like this:

In the 1980’s, rotating wide receivers became the method of communication.  The clip below can be summed up thusly, “Oh geez, Mo, let me handle this!  AC, you tell Wangs to throw you the damn ball!  Now THAT is how you do it, Gary!”

After a few delay of game penalties in critical situations, a change needed to be made.

While Hanlon, who coached the Michigan QBs in 1985, didn’t remember all the details surrounding its introduction, he did recall that its primary purpose was to speed up the playcalling in some situations.

“It was easier to call or signal play number “12” as opposed to “Z53 DRAG T X1,” Hanlon told me.

The “Z53” and the “DRAG T” were passing terms and that’s why and when things became a mouthful. More receivers meant more terminology. “Passing plays were more complex in nomenclature than running plays,” said Hanlon.  Clearly the Hanlon loved him some good old-fashioned option football.

Running play terminology was more simplistic and straightforward. For instance, “Rip Dark 26” was a favorite of Bo and Jerry’s in the 1970’s.  Rip Dark was the formation and 26 was the hole and direction or side the play was to be run. Plays that ran to the left side of the offensive line had odd numbers attached to them while the mirror-image or “flip” of the play would have an even numbered designation. The complement or flip to Rip Dark 26 to the right, was Rip Dark 25 to the left.

This methodology certainly followed the KISS Rule: Keep it simple, stupid.

In 1985, the Wolverines and quarterback Jim Harbaugh would end up having a hugely successful year.  While they didn’t win the Big Ten Title, the maize and blue finished the season ranked #2 in the country in the final polls – the highest ever for a Schembechler-coached team – and Harbaugh was the nation’s most efficient passer – the first Michigan QB to do so.

Just to prove that the wristband playsheets weren’t a one-year-wonder, the 1986 Wolverines won the Big Ten Title, Harbaugh was the nation’s 2nd most efficient passer.  Today, almost every team at every level of football uses some variant of the QB wristband.

But what about the jump in passing stats from 1984 to 1985? Wasn’t that all attributed to the wristband playsheet?

“The most important thing is the ARM of the quarterback and not what’s ON the arm of the quarterback,” Coach Hanlon reminded me.

Of course it is!

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P.S. Speaking of Bo, my fellers at The Bo Store continue to kill it:

bo-hat

 

30. October 2016 · 9 comments · Categories: 2016

I assume thanks to my fondness for the Little Brown Jug, a few folks pinged me after the game about the Paul Bunyan Trophy.  To be clear: this trophy sucks.

falk-paul

Historically speaking, Michigan never wanted this to be a trophy game or for that thing to be the trophy.  Of course given circumstances where there is a trophy when you win, we’d just assume win and take the trophy. If nothing else you keep it out of the opponent’s hands so it won’t sit in their football building and get a Santa hat around Christmas time.

There is no sideline swap of the trophy.  There is no running across the field to take it back.  It stays in the locker room.  Spartan players like to bring it on the field – that’s fine – but that’s not what we do.

001bunyanoutside

Take a few photos with it after the game?  Fine.   But when you are done, put it on the truck.  When it gets back to Ann Arbor I just assume we keep doing what we’ve always done – tuck that thing away in Schembechler Hall until next fall:

raiders5

Update:  More historical context on this mgoblog thread, including:

The following year in 1954, the trophy was left on the field for half an hour after Michigan defeated the Spartans 33–7. “We’ll find a place for the trophy,” Crisler told The Michigan Daily after game. The Paul Bunyan Trophy was stored in the Michigan Stadium locker room in one of the equipment closets.
Despite winning in 1954 and 1955, Michigan did not engrave their scores onto the neglected trophy. When the Spartans won in 1956, they engraved the Wolverine victories onto the trophy.
And, yep:
elliott

 

 

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30. October 2016 · Comments Off on Table Turning, Sticker Earning | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2016

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Here are the Decal Champions for week eight by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

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George Perles used to say, “all games count one.” Not this one and not for the reason you might think. Not only did Michigan put another nail in the Spartan coffin, they made it real difficult if not unlikely for the Spartans to become bowl eligible.   This would also mean MSU will not have those 15 bowl practices which are critical for player development and evaluation.  Sucks to be Sparty!

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – If your receiver has a career day and makes crazy-tough, one-handed catches then that means your quarterback is making some crazy-clutch throws. Amara Darboh and Wilton Speight are starting to be like The Hawaiian War Chant and Temptation – you can’t have one without the other. If Michigan is going to be playing in January, #82 and #3 need to keep it up.
pep-montage

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Gotta go with two guys: Jourdan Lewis & Jabrill Peppers. Lewis, because he single-handedly stopped two drives – one with an INT and one with a fourth down tackle at the UM goalline. Peppers, because of what he did all over the field and particularly the fourth down sack late in the game. Of course the 2-point conversion “Oh he has trouble with the pitch” play was the perfect exclamation point put on by the perfect guy to do it! PERFECT!!!!!

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – When your kicker makes all three of his field goals, has a solid day punting, and booms almost every kickoff into the endzone, your opponent has to go a long way to score. Credit Kenny Allen for having a solid game. Michigan was solid in all three phases of the game. That is Championship-esque.

COACHING CHAMPION – This game was a Jim Harbaugh special. Hotly contested. Paint-swapping in the trenches. A true test of a player’s, a team’s and coach’s will. That’s why I think most of the game was played between the tackles. Both coaches wanted to impose their will on each other and that was fine with coach Harbaugh. He had his team ready. They weren’t too jacked up nor were they too tight at the start of the game.

bakery

Amazing how far this team has come and changed in just over a season and a half. One word – Harbaugh. Last year he taught the team how to win. This year he is teaching them how to be tough and never was this more emphatically demonstrated than each time an MSU player was helped off the field. Remember when that happened to Michigan and Devin Gardner a few years ago in East Lansing? Times have changed. Tables have turned. Consider the Sparty chip knocked off their collective shoulders. Ain’t no big thang!!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – I like the white Jumpman Towel the team is wearing on the road. Curious as to why Michigan has only been using white towels, I found out that the NCAA only allows white or pink. Leave it to the NCAA to restrict and legislate something as simple as a towel.

butt-towel

The coolest towel ever worn by a Wolverine? Easy. The one Rick Leach wore in the 1978 Rose Bowl:

leach-towl

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6: Jabrill Peppers (O), (D), (ST), Entire Staff (C), White socks (Uni)
Week 7: Khalid Hill (O), Rashan Gary (D), Khaleke Hudson (ST), Coach Tyrone Wheatley (C), blue socks (Uni)
Week 8: Amarah Darboh and Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Jim Harbaugh (C), white Jumpman Towels (Uni)

28. October 2016 · 1 comment · Categories: 2016

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chicago

For this #BeatState edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we go back 112 years to 1904, a season that featured arguably the greatest Wolverine squad of all time.  Dig it:

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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23. October 2016 · Comments Off on Sights and Sounds | Homecoming Train (Michigan 41, Illinois 8) · Categories: 2016

A few sights and sounds from Saturday’s colossal beating:

  • Relentless.  Up 41-8 Harbaugh challenged the spot.  I love it.  It was a reminder that no matter what the circumstances, our focus will remain sharp, the gas pedal will be pressed down.  The team came out stale in the second half and I wonder if Harbaugh did this to reminde everyone that this never stops – there are no moments to relax – and this is how it will always be.  Even up 41-8 in the 4th.
  • Speight Watchers. While it’s tough to draw meaningful conclusions against that caliber of opponent, Speight looked much better.  He was more relaxed in the pocket and the he dialed in his accuracy during the bye week.  Next week will say a lot because despite the sink hole that’s opened on the banks of the Red Cedar, he (and many others) will be under a lot of pressure next week.
  • Harbs’ Specs.  Harbaugh explained his new glasses in the postgame presser.  No way he came up with this dynamic trio off the cuff:

And then the glasses is that a Woody Hayes nod?

[laughs]

“It is, actually. There’s really three people. Got my eyes checked out a couple weeks ago and they said I needed to go to glasses full time, so as of Tuesday I’m now a full-time glasses person. This style in particular is a tip of the cap, a nod, to Woody Hayes, to Michael Douglas in the movie ‘Falling Down,’ and also a tip of the cap to Malcolm X. In honor of those three men.”

  • HR King on prem. Hands down you have to give Harbaugh an A+ this season on honorary captains.  A torrid pace ain’t it?  Here’s a great shot of Hammerin’ Hank (via @mgoblue):

hank-aaron

  • Yostian Pace – My man @JohnKryk notes that we’re on a splendid scoring pace.  Through 7 games Fielding Yost’s 1901 team scored 340 points.  Harbaugh’s have put up 341.  Counting the Rose Bowl, the 1901 crew put up 550 and completely shut out their opponents.
  • The Bo Store.  Item of the week, back half mesh lid  /flame /flame /flame

bo-hat

  • Mudbowl:  Props to the SAE gents for keeping the Mudbowl rolling in high style, a Meechigan tradition that dates back to the 1930s (H/T Geoff Voss for the photo):

mudbowl

• The Wolverines improved to 64-29-2 in the all-time series against Illinois and 33-11-1 in home contests against the Fighting Illini. Michigan also improved to 90-28-2 on homecoming and has won 18 of its last 22 homecoming games.

• Michigan is now 7-0 for the first time since 2006 and just the fourth time in 40 years (1986, 1997, 2006, 2016).

qb-socks-suck


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23. October 2016 · Comments Off on Hammering it Home | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2016

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Here are the Decal Champions for Week Seven by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – When it gets close to the goal line, you gotta love Khalid “The Hammer” Hill. Michigan hasn’t had a battering-ram of a back since…Leroy Hoard? It’s got to be an awesome feeling for a coach & a team to know that when you get close, The Hammer is going to seal the deal. Red zone efficiency is an important metric and when you can punch it in from in close, you pretty much punch out your opponent.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – I’m starting to get the impression that Rashan Gary is adjusting to the speed and strength of the college game. Believe me, it IS a step up from high school, even if you are as big and strong and quick as #3. He’s starting to make his presence known and felt and that is impressive midway through his freshman year.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Khaleke Hudson and his blocked punt was the kiss of death for the Illini. Why? Because 90% of the time, the team that blocks a punt, wins the game. It’s demoralizing for one team and jacks up the other. And when a team like Michigan gets jacked up, look out! It becomes infectious and permeates to other groups of the team. And when that happens, it’s all downhill from there for the opponent.

COACHING CHAMPION – For the second game, Michigan has used a ton of runningbacks and I think Coach Tyrone Wheatley needs to get some love for the job he has done with the guys carrying the rock. Having depth is one thing, but having quality depth that seems to have a different group contributing each week is another. TW is coaching these guys up and it shows. Whether it’s #4, #12, #22, #32 or even #5, these guys can carry the load when called upon.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – As long as the white socks are worn on the road, I’m down with the blue socks at home.

socks

The look is growing on me and I think it looks sharp with the home unis.

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2016mvictors-helmet-week8

Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)
Week 5: Wilton Speight & Amara Darboh (O), Channing Stribling (D), Jourdan Lewis (ST), Jay Harbaugh (C), Jumpman do-rag (Uni)
Week 6: Jabrill Peppers (O), (D), (ST), Entire Staff (C), White socks (Uni)
Week 7: Khalid Hill (O), Rashan Gary (D), Khaleke Hudson (ST), Coach Tyrone Wheatley (C), blue socks (Uni)

21. October 2016 · Comments Off on Can You Dig It??? (1927) | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2016

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For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History takes us back to the special year of 1927 – the season the Big House was first open for business.  Can you dig it?  Yost could and did!

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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script after the jump:

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