maratop[1]

Sap is refreshed, recharged and kindly offers you his post-Hoosier decals.  I tossed in the Editor’s edition for good measure:

 

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

AMARA DARBOH – This was the breakout game we’ve all been waiting for from Darboh for the past 2 years. Much like the Detroit Lions needed another wide receiver to complement Megatron, the Michigan passing game needed another option downfield other than Devin Funchess. Especially now, when Devin Gardner’s foot injury is forcing him to do his best Dan Fouts-stay-in-the-pocket-no-matter-what impression, Darboh gives the offense another place to go with the ball other than wherever Funchess is.

 

Hopefully Darboh can use this game to jump start his career and the U-M passing game.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

RYAN GLASGOW – It was obvious that the Michigan defense came to play this game and made sure there was going to be no repeat of last year’s basketball-like score against IU. That all starts up front, and while there were several guys who played lights out by keeping the Hoosiers under 200 yards of total offense, I singled out Glasgow because of his strip and fumble recovery – all in the same play. These guys in the trenches don’t often get the glory, but you had to like what Glasgow did.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

MATT WILE – A missed field goal can be momentum-killing and team deflating – just ask Indiana how they felt when their kicker doinked one off the upright early in the game. You gotta make your kicks when you get the chance and not give your opponent the energy and momentum to get back in the game. That’s why Matt Wile’s field goals, why they may seem mundane and unspectacular, were important against IU.

 

Coaches (and Blue-hairs) will tell you that you have to execute in all three phases of the game. Wile did his part against Indiana on Saturday.

UNIFORM CHAMPION

YELLOW LACES – I appreciate the little things that make the Michigan uniform iconic. We’ve all seen the blue socks before and the Pink colored accessories that appear each November. Me? I was geeked when I saw a few of the guys wearing yellow laces on their cleats:

image

If you are going to deviate from the traditional black shoes with white laces by adding blue and yellow highlights to the Michigan footwear, you might as well coordinate to the max and make sure the laces don’t clash!

 

EDITOR’S CHOICE

JOHN U. BACON – It was great to see Bacs back upstairs in the press box this week and I’ll leave it at that.

 

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This week we go waaaay back, to November 1, 1879, better known to savvy Michigan historians as Game #2.  This was the first game played in the state of Michigan (Detroit) and the first international match-up as our friends from the University of Toronto crossed the border to face your beloved infantile Wolverines.  After that game, we get into the first game on Ann Arbor soil played in 1883.  A gent named Horace Prettyman..

HORACE

..shined in the morning match against a team from the Detroit:

 

 

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM starting at 11:30am.

 

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A wise man once said it is better to look good than to feel good.  In the aftermath of Saturday’s mess and everything else going on you don’t feel good.  So a suggestion: gather up the kids and head down to Contempo Salon and Spa Monday between 4-8pm to support a fundraiser for Chad Carr.  

Get a cut and you’ll look good.  Support this cause and you’ll feel good.  Details:

Cuts for Carr

Go Blue!  #ChadTough

On this day in 1979…still gives me the chills.  Via the great WolverineHistorian:

While it was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy I suppose, I love that in all the madness Ufer recognized that play in the context of Michigan football history when he offers that it will be remembered for another 100 years (’79 of course was the 100th anniversary of the program). We can safely say that’s true of course, looking back 35 years later and it’s probably more to do with Ufer’s call than the play itself.

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More on Bob Ufer

Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis is back this season with his weekly postgame helmet stickers.  Sap would do a backflip if coach Hoke decided to reinstate this tradition that Bo brought to the team in 1969. 

Until that day comes, Sap will bring you his game Champions who will be decorated, albeit virtually, with his helmet stickers.

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

JUSTICE HAYES – You gotta like how Hayes was giving it his all on every snap Saturday. From blocking, to running and even some pass-catching, Hayes made the most of his playing time and was almost Mr. Everything against MSU. A TD from him would have been nice, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

JAKE RYAN – Once again Ryan’s play and intensity set the tone for the Michigan Defense, but he can’t do it all by himself. There were flashes of greatness early on as Ryan and the D did their best to keep the game close, but it’s obvious that they now need to score a few points to bail out the Michigan offense.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

WILL HAGERUP – His long, accurate and dare I say, Aussie Drop-style punts, pinned Michigan State deep early and often enough to give the Michigan offense a chance to get untracked, but I’m not sure that’s gonna happen anytime soon, er, this season.

UNIFORM CHAMPION

MAIZE & BLUE GLOVES – I thought they looked good with the road white jerseys as opposed to the grey colored gloves that some of the other players wore, like Freddy Canteen. Maybe if #17 had been wearing the maize & blue gloves he wouldn’t have dropped that pass late in the game down by the MSU goal line?

BOB UFER FAN AWARD MichiganManMMQ:  Like you and me, he’s got no where else to go:

 

 

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maratop[1]Recently stock market talking heads like CNBC’s Jim Cramer have expended a lot of calories talking about finding the “bottom”, meaning the point where the collective nastiness out there (Ebola, ISIS, etc.) has punished stock prices and it’s safe for investors to jump back in.   Said another way, it’s the point where things stop getting worse and start getting better.  He even made a list:

bottom

If you felt great when we (yes I said we) scored a touchdown against Michigan State, congrats, you’ve reached a personal bottom.  For this football program I’d like to think that Saturday was the bottom but I don’t think we’re there yet.  There’s a list but I can’t bear to write it down.  A few suggestions for you: 1. Season over 2. New coach named  3. Signing day  4. Rival fans stop feeling sorry for you.  5…

Arena:  A couple notes for you:

* Spear-gate Who gives a crap
* #ChadTough – This was nice – well done MMB and MSUMB:

image

 

Mood UpdateThe Mood Index, the metric trying to gauge how great it is to be a Michigan Wolverine.  It’s not:mood

Uniform Update:  Nothing timeline worthy, but you have a couple guys (at least early on) wearing the white Team 135 undershirts with the State of Michigan logo (with block M on Ann Arbor) on the sleeve.  And you had the maize and blue gloves with the white uniforms – they stood out:

gloves

 

Historical Games Notes:  Primarily via #1000SSS:

• Senior kicker Matt Wile connected on a season-long 48-yard field goal in the second quarter. Wile is tied for third on U-M’s single-season list of 40+-yard field goals made with five, tying Remy Hamilton (1996), J.D. Carlson (1989) and Brendan Gibbons (2013).

Matt Wile is tied for sixth on Michigan’s all-time career list of 40+-yard field goals made with eight, tying Bob Bergeron (1981-84) and Hayden Epstein (1998-2001).

 

 

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This week we head back to 1975 when Lee Corso and the Hoosiers came to town.  Of historical significance in 1975:

  • This game was the last time Michigan Stadium had an announced attendance of fewer than 100,000 (93,857).  So as Craig Barker suggests, should we blame Lee Corso?
  • 1975 was the first season the B1G allowed teams to go to bowl games other than the Rose Bowl.  And Michigan was invited to play the Oklahoma Sooners in the 1976 Orange Bowl.  (And at that Orange Bowl, the Michigan Marching Band unleashed the epic JAWS formation!).

Here’s the clip:

This was a tough year to pick – of historical note on this day in U-M football lore:

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here…And don’t forget to catch it live Saturday on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM starting at 11:30am.

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[Ed. You know I’m a huge fan of Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis & he’s featured here each postgame with Dr. Sap’s Decals.  You might know that his detailed knowledge of uniform tweaks since the Bo era helped spearhead the Uniform Timeline.    Bottom line – the Sap mind blended with the Sap archives is a Wangler-to-Carter-esque combination.    Here’s another great Bo-era story from the mind of Sap.] 

Guest Post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

After Bo Schembechler left U-M to become the president of the Detroit Tigers he met Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley.  Finley liked to dabble in the unique as he was the inventor of the high visibility yellow baseball as well as the green and gold tunics the A’s wore in the ‘70s.

The two talked about Finley’s new football invention – the reverse dimple football.  Its enhanced grip was supposed to improve the accuracy of throws and increase the distance it was kicked. [more on the patent here.]

The grip enhancement looked much like a golf ball’s surface and the leather looked something like this:

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Bo was intrigued and told Finley to go see U-M equipment manager Jon Falk in Ann Arbor…and that’s exactly what he did in the spring of 1990.  The two hit it off and Falk agreed to try the new ball that Rawlings now dubbed the “Double Grip Football” with the 1990 Wolverines.

Everybody liked it.  The quarterbacks liked the grip and felt more accurate throwing it.  The receivers liked the tackiness and the kickers felt it sailed longer when booted. 

Falk wanted to use the new pigskin against  Notre Dame to start the 1990 season, but had to wait and use their existing ball, the Wilson 1001 AFCRT, until the new Rawlings ball was
accredited by the NCAA Rules Committee.  That didn’t happen until late October, which meant the Purdue contest on November 3rd, 1990 was the first time the Reverse Dimple Rawlings Double Grip Football was used in an NCAA game.  Michigan won 38-13 in West Lafayette that afternoon.

While U-M was the only school to use the ball during the regular season, it was used in several bowl games later that year.  Air Force defeated Ohio State in the 1990 Liberty Bowl while using the Double Grip football.  Washington would use it for the first time against Iowa in the 1991 Rose Bowl and trounced the Hawkeyes.

Of course we all know what Michigan did in the 1991 Gator Bowl.  Over 700 yards of total offense in a 35-3 beat down of Ole Miss was enough to convince everyone watching that the Rawlings Double Grip Football was no one-hit-wonder.

In the second game of the 1991 season, the Double Grip got even more publicity and exposure thanks to Desmond Howard and Elvis Grbac.
That diving catch in the endzone made by Howard against Notre Dame?

clip_image004That’s right. It was made with the Rawlings Double Grip Football.

While Grbac would become the first Michigan QB to be the nation’s most efficient passer, Howard would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that year.  Rawlings took notice and even issued a Press Release in December of 1991 saying its new ball resulted in greater accuracy, a higher percentage of completed passes, longer passes, a better grip in cold or wet weather and was the best ball for quarterbacks with small hands.

clip_image005”Howard caught 19 touchdown passes while Michigan quarterback Elvis Grbac led the nation in passing efficiency and 24 TD passes–all with the Rawlings ‘Double Grip’ ball,” it read.

Here is Howard striking another pose – this time with the Rawlings ball on the cover of Beckett football card monthly:

desmond howard beckett

But much like the old saying goes, what goes up, must come down.   And in 1992, that’s exactly what happened.

Grbac would go on and become the nation’s most efficient passer again, this time without Howard’s heroics. Michigan would win their 5th consecutive Big Ten Championship but would finish with an awkward 8-0-3 regular season record.  Three ties were strange enough, but the one tie that took all the air out of the Rawlings Double Grip ball was the Illinois game on November 14th, 1992.

The weather conditions were typical for Ann Arbor in November: 32 degrees, 65% humidity and a 10-15 mph wind blowing from the southwest. It had snowed the night before and would do so occasionally throughout the game.  There was some concern about how the ball would hold up as this would be the coldest weather it would be used in.  Even in their wildest dreams, #3 Michigan could not have expected a nightmare like this.

When it was all said and done, the 22-22 tie knocked U-M out of the national championship race and the turnover stats line read like a horror show:

  • Fumbles – 10 (12, if you include two bobbled kickoffs)
  • Fumbles Lost – 4
  • Dropped Passes – 4
  • Interceptions – 2 (1 off a muffed reception)
  • 1 botched PAT snap/hold that was bobbled by the holder (Jay Riemersma)
  • 1 kick that hit the upright (no good)

And it was not like this 1992 U-M squad was a turnover machine – quite the opposite.  In the previous 9 games, Michigan had fumbled only 15 times and lost 7 of them.  Illinois, which used the traditional pebble grain Wilson 1001 AFCRT ball, had just 1 fumble (which they recovered) and 1 interception (from a dropped pass) along with 1 missed PAT kick.  It was a damning stat line for the Double Grip and one that caused Falk to take a closer look at the ball Michigan would be using going forward.

He studied the game tape and he told me that he noticed the ball became hard when the temperature dropped. The leather lost its tackiness and it became slick and difficult to handle.  While Rawlings claimed the ball would provide better grip in cold weather, it appeared as though that might not have been the case.

With the weather the following week in Columbus expected to be in the mid-50s, Falk gave the Rawlings ball one last chance against Ohio State.  Even though Michigan would not fumble the while using Double Grip against OSU, Falk officially pulled the plug on it after the game.

The guy who gave Finley’s invention the green light a few years earlier, was now putting the kibosh on it and gave Coach Gary Moeller the cold, hard facts.

“I told Mo that we had to change it up for the Rose Bowl against Washington,”  Falk said.  He said, ‘Ya. Let’s do it.’”

Michigan would switch back to the Wilson 1001 for the 1993 Rose Bowl and would use it until Rich Rodriguez took over in 2008.  RichRod preferred the narrower Wilson 1005 for his spread offenses. It is the ball Michigan continues to use to this day.

 

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