15. October 2017 · Comments Off on Get in My Belly | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2017

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is a Schembechler-era savant and once again this season he’ll be diligently handing out his postgame helmet stickers after each game. Sap has pored over hours and hours of U-M games over several decades, and in these posts he’s able to tie the present to the past.  I encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Sap on YouTube, or follow Sap on Twitter.

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Easy to single out Karan Higdon for this, but I’m going with the Big Uglies up front – specifically the Interior O-Line. It seemed like most of the successful (running) plays were straight up the middle. And while it’s difficult to single out just one guy, I’ll go with all three interior linemen. We saw some hints of this last week against another basketball school, so it was nice to see that it wasn’t a one-week-wonder.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – For this defense to click, it has to start with pressure up front, and Maurice Hurst seemed to bring it all game. If Fat Bastard (of Austin Powers fame) were to call or describe one of Mo Hurst’s sacks, I’m sure he’d exclaim, “Get In My Belly,” every time #73 took down an opponent and then rubbed his belly. So ya, Mo Hurst gets a helmet sticker. Yeah, baby!!

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Don’t ever think blocking a field goal is easy to do or a non-factor. Maurice Hurst did that against IU and for the longest time it looked like that would be the difference in the game. It ended up not being the case, but still underscores the importance of what Hurst did. “Get In My Belly!!!”

COACHING CHAMPION – Nice to see Assistant Head Coach Tim Drevno channel his inner Bo Schembechler. Back in the day, whenever Michigan lost a game they shouldn’t have, Bo always liked to say that the best way to correct those mistakes that led to the loss was to get back to basics. That meant running the ball, A LOT, and running it between the tackles. There was a reason Bob Ufer used to always say, “Two tight ends and a balanced line” to start his call of a play. That basic formation dictated how the defense was to line up. If the D played straight up, then the O-Line knew their blocking assignments were pretty much the guy across the line of scrimmage. If the D over-shifted to one side of the play, the offense would run the other way. Pretty simple stuff, much like the old acronym: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. When it works, like it did against IU, it looks pretty simple, and effective. When it doesn’t? “Get back to basics – that’s just fundamental!” just like the old ball coach used to say.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – Ok, I’m down with the all white unis on the road, but when the home team wears white pants, can Michigan at least have the option to wear their maize pants? I just didn’t like that look against Indiana. Maybe next week against Penn State this possibility can be explored? Just sayin’… In the meantime, no sticker for you!

 

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Week by Week Champions (O = Offense, D = Defense, T = Special Teams, C = Coaching, U = Uniform, E = Editor’s pick)
Week 1 vs. Florida:  Ty Issac (O), Devin Bush (D), Quinn Nordin (T), Don Brown, Greg Mattison (C), all-maize unis (U), Camaron Cheeseman (E)
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati:  Ty Issac (O), Tyree Kinnel (D), Grant Perry (T), Greg Mattison (C), refined helmet decals (U).
Week 3 vs. Air Force:  N/A (O), Chase Winovich (D), Quinn Nordin & Donovan Peoples-Jones (T), Jim Harbaugh (C), full on maize and blue uniforms (U)
Week 4 vs. Purdue: John O’Korn (O), Devin Bush (D), Brad Robbins (T), Don Brown (C), white-arm-sleeves-on-shins (U)
Week 5 vs. Michigan State: N/A
Week 6 vs. Indiana: Karan Higdon (O), Maurice Hurst (D) and (T), Tim Drevno (C)
Week 7 vs. Penn State:  N/A
Week 8 vs. Rutgers:

14. October 2017 · Comments Off on Harmon vs. Kinnick (1939) | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2017

Harmon picks off Kinnick (1939)

This week’s game hits features a 1939 face off between two of the biggest names in college football history – Michigan’s Tom “Old 98” Harmon and Iowa’s Nile Kinnick.  Harmon dominated this game but Kinnick took home the 1939 Heisman – (98 finished second).

 

Here’s the clip:

TWIMFbH is sponsored by Hillside Terrace of Ann Arbor.  This segment can be heard on the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff and you can listen live on 1050AM in Ann Arbor & on wtka.com around the world.  This segment plays approximately 2 hours before kickoff each week.

You can hear the archive of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.    If you have suggestions for future games hit me on Twitter @MVictors.  Go Blue!

 

/script …after the jump

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11. October 2017 · Comments Off on Carl McKee & the Version 3 Helmet Sticker | Storytime with Dr. Sap · Categories: 2017

A guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

In my never-ending quest to find out all that there is to know about the University of Michigan football helmet stickers, I tracked down the creator of the version 3 helmet sticker, Carl McKee.

If you recall, Bo Schembechler introduced the first Michigan helmet sticker in 1969. It was a crudely shaped, gold colored football. Those lasted through the 1974 season.   In 1975, the second version of the helmet sticker was introduced. This time the shape of the sticker looked more football-like, but the difference was that a snarling wolverine head was added to the decal. These lasted through the 1982 season.In 1983 and 1984, while no stickers were placed on the Michigan headgear, the awards were still tracked on a board/wall inside the Michigan Football locker room.  [see the Uniform Timeline for details]

Sap was mad as a hornet in ’83 and ’84

                                     

That’s when Carl McKee happened to meet Michigan Football equipment manager, Jon Falk. The two struck up a friendship as Carl was a big Michigan football fan and he and Big Jon would occasionally talk and exchange some ideas and thoughts about Michigan Football.

Right around the same time, Carl had a good friend by the name of Thomas Kneff, who was a local artist that liked to draw and paint country scenes and barnyards.  Carl felt the Michigan helmet sticker needed a tweak, so he asked Kneff to re-draw the snarling wolverine head and add some laces to the design to give it more of a football look and feel.

This is one of Kneff’s more famous paintings

Carl then took his helmet sticker artwork to a printing company in Detroit, MI and had them print off a few samples to give to Falk. Big Jon liked the new look so much that he asked Carl if he could print off a few thousand more because Michigan was going to use these new stickers in 1985.

The snarling wolverine head is a little bigger in Carl’s version of the helmet sticker.

The rest is history, sort of.

Carl’s stickers were used by Michigan for about 7 or 8 years, until Falk realized the thin vinyl was getting torn and lacerated from all the hits and collisions the players were enduring over the course of a season. In 1992, Falk went national and had another company use the same laces and snarling wolverine head design Carl came up with and applied it to a thicker mil vinyl that was more durable and would stand up to the rigors of big time college football.  That sticker would last until the end of the 1994 season. In 1995, Lloyd Carr became the Michigan Football Head Coach and he ended the helmet sticker program for a variety of reasons.

But the legend of Carl McKee doesn’t end there.

You see, Carl was, and still is, somewhat of an entrepreneur and he never met an idea he didn’t like. One of his more popular ideas was putting catchy phrases on vinyl sheets so we could all tout how proud we were of our favorite college and college football team.  That’s right, bumper stickers!

Carl made a bunch back in the 80’s and had his teenage sons, Carl III, Bob and John, sell them at all the tailgates around Ann Arbor.  Daughter Anne and brother Michael would literally iron out the crinkly dollar bills each weekend at the McKee household.    Oh ya, Carl also drove the kids to East Lansing and sold green and white versions of his bumper stickers to the Spartan faithful as well!

For four years the McKee children would put their money they earned from selling bumper stickers in the bank to pay for college tuition.   That’s right–Carl and his bumper stickers put his kids through college!

Do any of these look familiar?  Back in the day they sold for $1 each, or 6 for $5:

LOL –> “Ohio State has lost its punch”  #woodyburn

I know I have a few of these in my collection!

Dr. Sap dressed quite appropriately for his visit with Carl McKee.



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07. October 2017 · Comments Off on John “The Human Shrapnel” Maulbetsch | This Week in Michigan Football History · Categories: 2017

This Week in Football edition heads way back to discuss college football Hall of Famer John Maulbetsch:

TWIMFbH is sponsored by Hillside Terrace of Ann Arbor.  This segment can be heard on the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff and you can listen live on 1050AM in Ann Arbor & on wtka.com around the world.  This segment plays approximately 2 hours before kickoff each week.

You can hear the archive of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.    If you have suggestions for future games hit me on Twitter @MVictors.  Go Blue!

 

/script …after the jump

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26. September 2017 · Comments Off on Leach Breaks down 1978 Notre Dame game (WTKA audio) · Categories: 2017

Pregame rituals vary, but I try to listen to as much of the WTKA Key Bank Countdown to Kickoff show as much as I can.   If you missed it this week you missed an epic segment.

Prior to the Purdue game Rick Leach phoned in to comment on the topic of This Week in Michigan Football History.  The topic was the 1978 Michigan-Notre Dame game, aka “The Reunion Game”.

Leach was injured the week of the game and he talks with Sam Webb about how he was injured, where he was during game week, about a visit from Bob Ufer, and then a few details on gameday: before the game, what Bo told him at halftime and a bit about after the game.  It’s outstanding.

Ira was kind to send me the clip so here it is, the first couple minutes is the TWIMFbH piece on the history of the rivalry and a recap of this game, and then Sam goes right into the Q&A with Leach:

Go Blue!

P.S. Speaking of all of this, the weekend WTKA is continuing the tradition of the Ufer Classic, and the game of choice is indeed that 1978 Notre Dame-Michigan game.   Ufer is fired up for this one and it’s a classic.  Make sure you hang in there for the second half!

23. September 2017 · Comments Off on Purdon’t Champions | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2017

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is a Schembechler-era savant and once again this season he’ll be diligently handing out his postgame helmet stickers after each game. Sap has pored over hours and hours of U-M games over several decades, and in these posts he’s able to tie the present to the past.  I encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Sap on YouTube, or follow Sap on Twitter.

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Remember the George Orwell book, 1984?  Well, good thing this is not 1984. If it was, the season would have been over the moment they walked Wilton Speight off the field early in the first half. Thirty-three years ago, when coach Harbaugh was felled by a broken arm against Michigan State there was a significant talent drop-off at the QB spot for Michigan.

[via Detroit Free Press]

You think Bo and Jim have ever forgotten that? Nope. That is why John O’Korn and Brandon Peters are waiting their turn. Did you see that type of performance coming out of #8? I certainly didn’t, but I will tell you this: sometimes when you get thrust into the fray, you don’t have time to think and over-analyze things. When that happens, instincts and muscle-memory kick in and you get what we all saw Saturday out of O’Korn – WoW!

Listen, I get that it was one game, but my gosh, you could have a put a #15 on his jersey and I swear I was watching Jake Rudock once again. There was decisiveness, there was accuracy, but more importantly, there was guts. When teammates, on both sides of the ball, see their QB improvising to keep plays and drives alive, it elevates the performance of everyone else on the team. That’s why you saw Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon and Nate Schoenle do what they did against the Boliermakers. You CANNOT underestimate the importance of QB play and moxie on the gridiron. It was one game, but thankfully, this is not 1984.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPIONDevin Bush did not have all the stats in the world against Purdue, but he was everywhere once again. His energy drives the defense and his motor never seems to stop. Man is he good!

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – His stats may not have been off the charts, but the punting of Brad, don’t call me Monte, Robbins was just the settling influence the punt game needed. I’ll take a 40.6 yard average per punt any game.

COACHING CHAMPIONS – Did I hear that correctly? Purdue was 0-12 in 3rd down conversions for the entire game and gained only 10 yards of offense in the second half? I’ve heard of halftime adjustments, but that is incredible!  Don Brown aka Dr. Blitz is doing a lights out job with this defense, which was the reason I didn’t officially get worried about the outcome of the game until midway through the 3rd quarter. When a defense plays like that, they give the offense and the rest of the team a chance. They keep you in the game until a big play is made. Congrats coach – that was just what this team needed to avoid Purdue calling themselves the Spoilermakers once more.

UNIFORM CHAMPION – Last week I said I (finally) liked the absence of white on the home maize and blue uniforms. Well, I don’t know if the players did this on their own, but I saw a few players, like Kekoa Crawford wear what appeared to be white arm sleeves on their shins. Dang, that was a sweet look with the all-white unis! Thumbs up!

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Dope UGP item of the week:

Week by Week Champions (O = Offense, D = Defense, T = Special Teams, C = Coaching, U = Uniform, E = Editor’s pick)
Week 1 vs. Florida:  Ty Issac (O), Devin Bush (D), Quinn Nordin (T), Don Brown, Greg Mattison (C), all-maize unis (U), Camaron Cheeseman (E)
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati:  Ty Issac (O), Tyree Kinnel (D), Grant Perry (T), Greg Mattison (C), refined helmet decals (U).
Week 3 vs. Air Force:  N/A (O), Chase Winovich (D), Quinn Nordin & Donovan Peoples-Jones (T), Jim Harbaugh (C), full on maize and blue uniforms (U)
Week 4 vs. Purdue: John O’Korn (O), Devin Bush (D), Brad Robbins (T), Don Brown (C), white-arm-sleeves-on-shins (U)

23. September 2017 · 1 comment · Categories: 2017

This week’s game hits an anniversary of “The Reunion Game” – a resumption of the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry after a three decade+ hiatus. Billed as 2 legendary college football schools of course, but also a battle of Joe Montana vs. Rick Leach. Montana was coming off the classic Cotton Bowl win the season before, and Leach was hyped up as one of the nation’s most talented quarterbacks.

This week’s segment starts off with the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry, then hits on the game itself.  Wolverine Historian’s highlights from the game:

One thing that sticks out is Leach’s performance.  Obviously he had a huge game, but just watch the guy control the line of scrimmage.  He has the Irish on their heels with his hard snap count.  God bless his cotton pickin’ heart!

Speaking of Leach, check out this clip via Dr. Sap of The Guts and Glue making critical third down play, and of course Bob Ufer’s call and reaction:

Here’s the clip:

Once again, a huge shout out my man John Kryk of Natural Enemies  — if you have any interest in the history of our beloved sport, you need to read every page of this book.

TWIMFbH is sponsored by Hillside Terrace of Ann Arbor.  This segment can be heard on the Keybank Countdown to Kickoff and you can listen live on 1050AM in Ann Arbor & on wtka.com around the world.  This segment plays approximately 2 hours before kickoff each week.

You can hear the archive of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.    If you have suggestions for future games hit me on Twitter @MVictors.  Go Blue!

 

/script …after the jump

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17. September 2017 · Comments Off on Just Kicking It – Sights and Sounds (Michigan 29, Air Force 13) · Categories: 2017

Well, we’ve seen more inspiring efforts but I get that fans are testy.  The stakes have been raised and along with it the expectations.

As far as the quarterback situation, here’s the deal.  If I were heading on vacation I wouldn’t trust Coach Harbaugh to water my plants and feed my goldfish.  They’d all die.  But I do trust him to handle the quarterback position.   Even if you forget about his track record everywhere else, he’s earned your trust with what he did with Jake Rudock – remember that?  So chill, go feed your pet and let Harbaugh handle the QB.

More importantly it was gorgeous out there Saturday, and here are a few sights and sounds:

Jalen & Jansen:  These guys might make a decent local radio show, no?

 

The Fab Fiver and #77 were honored for their recent induction into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame.  Jalen’s teammate Jimmy King was also on prem supporting his man JR5.  BTW – if they have a creepy-looking-mannequin Hall of Fame but here’s my nomination:

Decals.  Dr. Sap killed it with his helmet stickers this week.

Levert Reverts Back – Here is Caris repping AC with Coach Beilein:

 

Drink each time you hear “Red Zone”   Ahh yes, we’ll be hearing that a lot this week.  Thankfully David Brandon’s plan to sell the rights and rebrand it “The Autozone Red Zone!” fell flat.   Thankfully Quinn Nordin’s leg did not.

On Duty.  AG Bill Schuette is running for governor and was hanging out and talking shop with a few D-list celebs on the sideline before the game.

Flannel guy has a water bottle jammed in his left pocket but he’s also happy to see you.

Saline Car Wash is hiring:  I spotted a stadium sideline usher asking Mrs. Jim Harbaugh for her credential.  I’m not exactly sure what was said but methinks he quickly recognized his mistake and moved on to harassing helping photographers.

EVERITT RULES!  What, this guy doesn’t rule?  He’s asking for your help…

He’s a Key West guy, and Irma left the area in a shambles.  We don’t even know the extent yet.  Here’s his GoFundMe page, he’s gathering money for gift cards for the locals.  I’m in – you should too.

Permission to Buzz the Tower(s)  – We’ve had our share of pregame fly-overs but don’t they take on special meaning when we’re playing Air Force?

Dropping in  – Based on what happened at the BYU game it appears we had the “A” team out there Saturday:

Band, take the field – The band stepping into formation from different perspective than you’ve seen, just perhaps?  Again, this was the 45 year anniversary of the MMB being gender-integrated:

Men, take the field – I love the James Earl Jones hype video that precedes this:

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17. September 2017 · Comments Off on Air Force Triple Option Champions | Dr. Sap’s Decals · Categories: 2017

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is a Schembechler-era savant and once again this season he’ll be diligently handing out his postgame helmet stickers after each game. Sap has pored over hours and hours of U-M games over several decades, and in these posts he’s able to tie the present to the past.  I encourage you to subscribe to Dr. Sap on YouTube, or follow Sap on Twitter or catch Steve rolling around town in the Sap-mobile:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION:  Nothing notable here, but don’t panic, see COACHING CHAMPIONS below..

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION: Chase Winovich seemed to be all over the field on Saturday, especially the Air Force backfield. His intensity and energy seemed to drive him and the rest of the defense to keep pressuring the Fighting Falcons offense all game. While Gary, Hurst and Bush got all the pre-season hype, Winovich’s play is starting to command some attention of his own. Gonna need him to keep it up and do the same come November.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION:  I’m going with Quinn Nordin and Donovan Peoples-Jones, for obvious, and different reasons. First of all, when you kick 5 of 5 field goals and tie a school record for most 3-pointers in a game, you deserve a helmet sticker!
Ok – now for DPJ. Amazing how much more comfortable he looked back there against Air Force this week. Part of it was getting past the first-home-game-in-front-of-your-hometown-friends-and-family-jitters out of the way. As a player, sometimes you want to do so well and so much that you end up what is called “playing outside yourself” and not just letting the game come to you. That’s nerves, that’s excitement, but that’s also coachable. Which gets to my next point about coaching.

A couple of years ago, Lloyd Carr shared with me what he was hit with during his first year as a young Michigan football position coach in 1980. The year before, in 1979, Michigan was the absolute WORST team in the country when it came to Special Teams execution. The Wolverines fumbled trying to receive punts, missed field goals galore, and even had some punts blocked. It was not good. How did Bo handle it? With an enthusiasm unknown to Lloyd Carr. Because Bo felt the special teams were not coached as well as they should have been in 1979, he assigned every coach a position on the 1980 special teams. Much like anything in life, business or sports, if you focus on something and monitor whatever you are concerned about, you will more than likely improve performance. So what happened in 1980? Michigan led the country in several Special Teams categories. The same thing happened this week. Jim Harbaugh obviously put more focus and attention to Special Teams and it showed on Saturday – specifically the punt return team. The talent is there, and now it seems the coaching and focus is as well.

COACHING CHAMPION:  I’m going to talk you all off the ledge and go with the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach, Jim Harbaugh. Am I concerned that the offense has struggled to put up points and score touchdowns once again this season? No. Here‘s why: generally and historically speaking, teams typically have their defenses more developed and ready to go at the start of the season when compared to the offense. Why? I think the answer is twofold:

(1) Defensive play is typically more emotionally based, while the offense has more of a cerebral look and feel to it. Not saying that there is less strategy involved and employed on the defensive side of the ball, it’s just that defenses can hit the ground running a little sooner than the offenses do. Maybe it’s a timing thing with offensive pass routes and blocking. Maybe not.

(2) I can remember Bo and even Lloyd talk about how much of the offense was still needing to be “installed” as the season progressed. I used to hate hearing that, by the way, but I do understand that performance and victories are based and founded on execution. Plays don’t get called by the coaches and/or get successfully executed in games until they are perfected in practice. All you had to do was look at the Cincinnati offense last week and all the passes their QB missed on.

Don’t panic. It is a common coaching strategy to not reveal all your cards so early in the season – especially against teams that you have a schematic and talent advantage over.   Do you really think the Michigan offense used all the plays in their playbook against Air Force? I don’t. Remember how that-sweatervest-coached-team-from-down-south won a national championship when it seemed like they were just barely beating their opponents each week? Remember how awful Connor Cook and the MSU offense looked at the beginning of the 2013 season? Remember how they won the B1G Title that year?

The offense is gonna be just fine – trust me.

UNIFORM CHAMPION:  The lack of white and nothing but maize and blue on the home uniforms is starting to grow on me. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I loved the white socks and white wrist bands the players wore back in the day. That was a cool look back then, but as they say, “That was then and this is now.” Now, the look is ALL maize and blue from head to toe and I gotta admit, the Jordan Brand has nailed the home uniforms – they look solid!\

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Related:

Week by Week Champions (O = Offense, D = Defense, T = Special Teams, C = Coaching, U = Uniform, E = Editor’s pick)
Week 1 vs. Florida:  Ty Issac (O), Devin Bush (D), Quinn Nordin (T), Don Brown, Greg Mattison (C), all-maize unis (U), Camaron Cheeseman (E)
Week 2 vs. Cincinnati:  Ty Issac (O), Tyree Kinnel (D), Grant Perry (T), Greg Mattison (C), refined helmet decals (U).
Week 3 vs. Air Force:  N/A (O), Chase Winovich (D), Quinn Nordin & Donovan Peoples-Jones (T), Jim Harbaugh (C), full on maize and blue uniforms (U)
Week 4 vs. Purdue: