20. November 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: 2016

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Here are the Decal Champions for game 11 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPIONS – As a senior, you always want to go out with a bang and leave it all on the field. De’Veon Smith once again gave his all, left no doubt and left nothing on the field Saturday. A career best 158 yards and two TD’s was the perfect ending for Michigan’s battering-ram of a runner. Never one to take the easy route or run out of bounds, Smith once again showed that he has a nose for the endzone. His two scores were classic Smith runs and a great way to punctuate your last game at The Big House.

I also wanted to call out Ben Bredeson for his play Saturday. He seemed to always be getting to the second level on his blocks and paving the way for Smith and his scores in the second half. I thought #74 was the best O-lineman out there and reminded me of another #74 – Mike Husar. He was another stalwart from 30 years ago who was a critical cog in those great O-lines that blocked for coach Harbaugh when he was a QB at Michigan.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPIONS – I’m not sure that I have ever seen a more talented group of Michigan defensive backs than this year’s unit. Every guy has great cover skills, can close and pursue, but more importantly, can wrap up and tackle. There have been some great Wolverine Secondaries in the past that may have featured one or two studs, but top to bottom this year’s group makes each opposing QB throw a perfect ball every time and against every DB. Usually there will be one or two guys that an opponent can pick on and go after, but not with this team. They ALL are lights out. Because they create so many incompletions, maybe we should call them the Legion of INC?  J

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Once again, Kenny Allen was solid in everything he did. He put up two field goals but just as importantly, he pinned IU deep on at least four occasions with his punts. His non-returnable touchbacks also help set the Michigan defense up with good field position and is just another example of how important the kicking game is.

COACHING CHAMPION – I touched on it above, but you gotta credit Mike Zordich & Brian Smith for the job they have done with this Wolverine Secondary. They are a confident, aggressive and talented group that has been shutting down opponent’s passing attacks all year long. Last week they shut down Iowa’s passing game and Saturday they did the same against the Hoosiers. Spread Offenses can make any defense look bad by putting everyone on an island, but not this group – they have no fear! Let’s hope they can shut down those hairless nuts from Columbus next week!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – For all of you who complained that there were too many decals on the helmets last year, I noticed that not one player’s helmet is “full” of stickers this year.

via mgoblue.com

via mgoblue.com

Maybe it’s because they are a tad smaller in size this year? Maybe it’s because they are oriented and positioned properly this year? Or maybe no stickers were awarded last week after the Iowa game? Not sure, but I do like the look, and will see if I can find out what the real story is.

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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
Week 10: N/A
Week 11: De’Veon Smith & Bed Bredeson (O), M defensive backs (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Mike Zordich & Brian Smith (C), volume of helmet stickers (Uni)

decals-week-11

[Ed. Bumped up – I wrote this on MVictors just after I heard Bo passed away 10 years ago on November 17, 2006]
NOVEMBER 17 – What an empty feeling here at noon on the Friday before the biggest game that may ever be played against Ohio State and Michigan. I just heard on WTKA 1050 am that we lost the man that single handedly restored Michigan Football to its rightful place.

I had the pleasure to be in school for Bo’s final season. He is and was the heart and soul of Michigan football, and his legacy will reign in Ann Arbor forever.

I actually heard Bo live on WTKA this morning giving his thoughts on the game…he sounded a little rough. I remember thinking ‘Wow, Bo is getting old’. I understand he was in his car on the way to the taping. He collapsed at the TV station minutes later.

For whatever reason, coincidence I assume, perhaps it was stressful on him, he collapsed again during the taping of his TV show. This is pretty shocking, and the timing of this is really crazy, and this turned this into a really sad days for college football.

For those of you outside the football program. Yes, Bo Schembechler was still an active part of the team and the program. Look no further than this week’s Sports Illustrated:

The Football Complex..is named Schembechler Hall, where 77-year-old Bo keeps an office and occasionally pokes his head into metting rooms.

So where does this leave the game? Well, the game will be played. Michigan will play their asses off. Carr won’t give a rah-rah ‘Do it for Bo’ speech, he might remind them about the legacy that Bo leaves, and have them remember why they chose to be part of this program, and perhaps Carr will ask them to remember the time each of them had with Coach Bo. The players will understand and they will play like champions, win or lose.

A favorite memory of mine? When Bo was part of the Tigers organization and everyone was bitter at Bo and blamed him for firing legendary radio man Ernie Harwell (which Bo denied to his death that this was his doing). One of my roommates defended Bo and instead turned the attention on Harwell, of whom he called “An Old Coot”. Rogie, this was an instant classic.

Another great memory and he’ll leave this forever: When he first started at Michigan, players were quitting the team in droves, complaining about the workouts Bo put them through, Schembechler made a promise. He hung a sign in the locker room that read Those Who Stay Will be Champions.” After one game this year I saw an ex-player with a hat that simply read “We Stayed”. I love it.

Here’s an encounter I had with the legend not too long ago, inspiring this post:
Seeing Bo Schembechler

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!

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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Iowa vs. Michigan 1900
Of the Michigan football fans that give a damn about the history of the program, these are typically broken into two groups: those that cherish the program as they know it during their lifetime or thereabouts, often starting with the Bo era in 1969.  And then there’s those who go deep, usually back to Yost’s first season in Ann Arbor in 1901.  You’ll notice there are only a few pre-Yost posts on these pages.

Looking at Iowa, one thing that’s kind of curious is that despite their long history of playing Michigan (starting in 1900) and their involvement in our league (they joined the Western Conference in that same year), we’re really not stacked with a bevy of major moments in history that would yield a rivalry with the Hawkeyes, although there are certainly important ties between our programs.

Take Forest Evashevski, the coach that delivered Iowa’s only recognized national championship in 1958 (a postseason vote by the writers after the 8-1-1 Hawkeyes delivered a dominating performance in their bowl), who played for Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines.  Evashevski is remembered by many as the man who helped lead Tom Harmon to the Heisman Trophy in 1940 as a “devastating blocker” per his college football Hall of Fame profile.

Today our rivalry with Iowa ranks somewhere buried beneath Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Penn State and even Wisconsin in that strata that probably includes teams like Illinois and maybe lately, Northwestern.

Reaching back to the game that started it all in 1900 I found some interesting stuff.   This was of course the season before Yost stepped foot on campus and just as with the ‘68 team that Bump Elliott delivered to Bo, the cupboard wasn’t exactly bare.   In fact ‘00 captain Neil Snow was an All-American on Yost’s 1901 team that outscored opponents 555-0.

The 1900 campaign started off with six straight wins heading into the first meeting with the team from Iowa.  The game was played at Bennett Park, the early home of the Detroit Tigers at the famed corner of Michigan and Trumbull, the future home of Tiger Stadium.

Iowa won the game 28-5 and I’m just going to let you partake in a little turn-of-the-twentieth century beauty put down in print by a writer at the Detroit Free Press:

The visitors were a most gentlemanly set of young giants, though anything but gentle when in action. They showed magnificent education and training from the tips of their long scalp locks to the soles of their perniciously active feet. Their brains worked like greased lightning set to clock-work. They were shrewder than a strategy board and could mobilize in less time than is employed in an owl’s wink. When they charged it was like a bunch of wing-footed elephants, and when they tackled one of the enemy it was like the embrace of a grizzly. They could kick harder than a gray mule with years of experience, and with the accuracy of a globe-sight rifle.

Get a bunch of rooms, old time Freep dude.

And when the Iowa team returned to Iowa City, well, they found good times along with a small bit of crime and some damage:

The things that happened…that night are written in the books. When our train reached Iowa City…, every person in town was there. A farmer was just driving in with a load of shelled corn. The boys confiscated it and filled their pockets and hats with it. [Ed. Corn was a hot commodity in Iowa?]

We were thrown up on a Tally Ho that was pulled by students with a rope a block long. There was a bonfire on the field. The boys pulled President MacLean and faculty out of their buggies and carried them in a dance around the fire. The president’s hair was singed.

The fire’s heat was so intense that plate glass windows cracked and for a time, it looked as if the flames were threatening an entire block of the business district.

Then they ran to the field and painted the opponent’s locker room pink.

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penn

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!

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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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

week-9-helmets

[Ed.  Originally posted in 2010, a repost for the anniversary of this important day in Meechigan football history.  And if you love Kryk, and I know you do, get STAGG vs. YOST now!]

1910 Headlines 

Guest post by JOHN KRYK of Natural Enemies – (Follow John Kryk on Twitter)

On Friday, Nov. 4, 1910, Michigan authorities cancelled the showdown football game scheduled for the next day between the Wolverines and the University of Notre Dame on old Ferry Field, now site of UM’s track and field oval.  In a nutshell, the Wolverines contended that at least two Fighting Irish players were ineligible under the rules of the game contract, and when Notre Dame refused to sit them out, Michigan pulled the plug on the contest, and, as it turned out, on the series for the next 32 years.

As I wrote in the two incarnations of my book Natural Enemies, just who was right and who was wrong is difficult to ascertain, because the status of the disputed players rested on the vague and variant eligibility rules of the day. That each side devised interpretations to suit its position, then steadfastly defended that position, should come as no surprise. Nor should the explosions that followed.

Michigan had literally taught the game of football to Notre Dame, in November 1887. For the next 21 years, the teams played off and on, with  Michigan always winning. Small-fry colleges in the Midwest, such as Notre Dame at the time, were always desperate to get a spot on the football schedule of a Midwestern giant such as Michigan, and when they failed it could devastate them. But as I first wrote in Natural Enemies in 1994 (13 years before Mike Hart popularized the analogy):

In Michigan’s eyes, Notre Dame was just the pesky kid brother who refuses to understand he can’t always hang out with the big boys. And when kid brother goes off whining to the other small fry on the block, well, big brother couldn’t care less. But kid brother was determined to prove he belonged. Indeed, for the next two decades, Notre Dame aspired to be everything that mighty Michigan already was in athletics.

In 1909 Notre Dame finally defeated Michigan in its ninth attempt, 11-3 at Ann Arbor. It was the only blight on an otherwise landmark year for Yost and his Wolverines, who knocked off defending national champion Penn in Philadelphia, and Conference champion Minnesota in Minneapolis. The loss rankled Yost and his team, because Michigan was observing the new Conference rules that barred freshmen and limited player eligibility to three years, while Notre Dame was still wantonly playing freshmen and four-year men. More »

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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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