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Right in the giblets

It came down to lack of depth.  We don’t have the depth to replace the key injuries and just didn’t have the talent on defense to hang with the big boys.   We were exposed.  But we’ll be back with more guys.  Harbaugh and crew have done a remarkable job this season with what we have.  At kickoff today of the final game of the regular season we were in the B1G and even playoff discussion.   Sights and sounds:

Honoring Legends:  Talking with those involved, sounds like #1000SSS did a great job taking care of the families of the Legends this morning and for the game.  Here’s the Oosterbaan crew including my man Ben McCready (47), godson of the great Bennie O.:

IMG_8232 Bennie and Fam

Again, the Legends program did a great thing by putting these great players in the forefront.  The other bonus was building new relationships with the current families and in certain cases, with the student athletes who got to wear the coveted jerseys.  McCready shared this note he received recently from Capt. Jake Ryan:

“Ben – I just wanted to write and tell you it was an honor to wear the #47 jersey at Michigan. I was excited when Coach Hoke asked me and I wanted to represent Bennie in the best way on and off the field. Thank you for such a wonderful opportunity and Go Blue! – Jake”

It was a delicate thing to do.  Of course Mark Harmon didn’t make it back so I’m not sure how the Harmons feel about the whole thing.  I’m good with the re-retirement and I’m looking forward to the ceremonies for Woodson (and of course Peppers).

Twenty One – Also a nice, brief acknowledgment of Desmond today.   I wonder if they are going to keep the flags outside the stadium?  I doubt it given they have set up permanent displays in one of the concourses:

Flags best

Traditions.  Michigan Marching Band tradition dictates that the drum major must toss his mace over the goal post and catch it.  If he does, Michigan wins.  If not, ugh:

Michigan mace fail

It’s happened before I know, including before the 2007 Appalachian State game THE HORROR (back then I referred to the mace incorrectly as a ‘baton‘) but was corrected later on.

Season Ticket Holders – During the 3rd quarter, they asked the season ticket holders to stand, then remain standing based on longevity (10 years, 25 years, etc.).  Nice touch (and nice marketing!). 26 here.

The King.  Came to see Peppers:

2015-11-28 10.53.45 Elvis

And Peppers was fun to watch:

CU7u2vuUYAEwGh7

#ChadTough – Beyond the retirement of #21 (and the re-retirements), there’s no other Michigan entry in the Uniform Timeline, but props to the folks in Columbus – very cool that the Buckeyes affixed these to their helmets today:

Chad Tough

 

CU7uEWBUAAAD_QH

Mood.  Back to 80:

mood data

Work! Work it Girl!  If you carried a camera into the media entrance, the officers asked you to take a photo to prove the camera wasn’t something evil.  So naturally I pointed the camera at the officer and asked her to give me her best:

cop

Big Nice Nut – For those who didn’t watch on TV, Big Nut and his buddy were in the first row in the south end zone:

stubhub

Dead serious:  I chatted up Mr. Nut and he was genuinely a nice dude.  Sorry.  Either way, damn you Stubhub!

Elsewhere:

Ace:

For the tenth time in eleven years, Ohio State won The Game. The Buckeyes ran at will; Michigan couldn’t trust its run game enough to even use it without ample trickery. While Michigan’s 9-3 record and obvious team-wide improvement stand as a testament to the remarkable work of Jim Harbaugh, today’s game showed just how much ground the program must make up on their chief rival.

MBN:

The Wolverine defense looked utterly confused and all around gassed during the game. There was no answer for the Buckeye’s zone read, and power runs.  Ohio State scored on six consecutive drives, aside from the end of the first half, which put the pressure on the Wolverines offense to make plays.

The Wolverine offense was able to march the football down the field, but had troubles finishing off drives in the redzone. Michigan settled for two field goals in the game while down in the redzone.

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coolWhoa.  What happened?  Based on my straw poll of the press box, most media folk had BYU winning this one.  

So call BYU a good, at least a decent, team.  That was a mercy kill.  Offhand, that was probably the biggest beatdown of good team since, what? 38-0 Vol. I over Notre Dame in 2003?  

Rudock made good decisions with the pigskin.  Smith missed a couple holes but it didn’t matter because he’s a beast.  The defense was relentless and finished tackles.   Special teams were sound.  The playcalling was straight money and clearly the playbook is being cracked open to the later chapters.  Maybe there is magical khaki dust after all.

Assuming we handle Maryland on the road, heading back home to face Northwestern will be fun to watch.

It feels good man.  To the sights and sounds:

DER-EK JEET-AHH.  The Pope could have visited Michigan Stadium today and no one would have noticed:Jeter with Sarah Harbaugh

Above there’s Derek Jeter killing it in his Michigan hoodie, with suite ticket in pocket (does he really need a ticket?  to anything?) with Sarah Harbaugh on the left. 

Any fool who tried to get too close to #2 had to deal with Big Tony, aka The Captain’s Cleaner:

Derek Jeter's security at Michigan

Coach Edwards.  I strolled over to the opposing team suite (it’s on the same wing and floor as the media).  I asked if any former players from the 1984 BYU team were on prem.  A nice older woman told me, “I’m not sure about players, but the coach of that team is here,” and she gestured to an old man sitting against the window.  Sure enough, the man sitting a couple feet from me was legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards.

Coach Edwards was kind enough to pose for the photo below (left), at the time in much better spirits than when the ESPN cameras spotted him upstairs in the second half, flashing a double head palm:

LaVell Edwards Before and After

He led the Cougars in their finest hour, which was the last and only other time these teams met.  Twas the 1984 Holiday Bowl, where QB Robbie Bosco and crew defeated Bo & your beloved Wolverines to capture the national title.  Sap is still bitter about the whole thing but felt better Sunday morning.

Nasty Beasts.  Yes, the defense was nasty but not as much as these two.  Props to #1000SSS for another good choice on these epic game program covers, this time Bennie and Biff, the actual wolverines Yost procured and trotted out at the 1927 Michigan Stadium dedication game:

Biff and Bennie - Michigan Wolverines 

1980 Recognized:  Speaking of legends, the 1980 team was honored for the 35th anniversary of their championship team – and I ran into a few guys including Rich Hewlett and Doug James on the sideline. 

1980

Thanks to their “in” at adidas (none other than quarterback Johnny Wangler who works for the three stripes) they wore some cool gear including these hats:

image 
Left: Bruce Madej’s hat via @UMGoBlog.  Right: Devin Gardner got one and wore it well (via @MVictors):

Not that Ford but not Bad:  A staple on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (U-M JD ‘96) was a guest of the Regents and chilling with the Jeter Posse:

Harold Ford

Lytle.  Also honored today was the late and great Rob Lytle, such a warrior.  If you want to get a sense for the power of this dude, watch a few minutes of the 1976 Ohio State game.  Or just look at his helmet, here on the NCAA ‘06 cover via Dr. Sap:

Rob Lytle - Michigan

 

 

Uniform Notes.  Not much but whilst we’re on the topic:

  • The helmet stickers are getting out of control(!) – the helmets will be Hammersteined by mid-October – but so be it.   Consider that the third (or fourth?) string back is currently bedazzled through 3 games:

Ty Issac Helmet - Michigan

  • Not Uniform Timeline worthy, but Jeter got a 2015 beauty from Coach Harbaugh, naturally the Captain’s #2 and I’m sure Woodson and Hewlett would be ok with that:

Jeter

  • Another look at the Block M thigh pad that some of the players (maybe 1 in 8?) wear:

Block M on Thigh Pad T00nces the shutout inspiring Cougar, wisely trying to escape the gridiron:

IMG_8121

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Jim Harbaugh at Utah 2015

Darn.  It turns out there is no magical khaki lint for #4 to sprinkle around the locker room but you, the most rational and reasonable Michigan fan, was still hoping there was.  Guilty as well.

So look.  It’s going to be tough to win anywhere with a quarterback making that many mistakes.  And by Harbaugh not inserting Morris after the pick six suggests that the competition was never that close.  We’ve got a problem here.  Feel free to jump down to bright sides at this point.

Jake Rudock - Michigan

I think Harbaugh called a good game.  Conservative but the opportunities were there – Rudock just didn’t cash in.  We didn’t try anything tricky beyond maybe tossing into the 2nd level over the middle, but in the middle we’ve apparently got a guy in Butt that could be catching pills from Tom Brady on the off chance Gronk hurts himself by doing something weird.

On the ground, De’Veon Smith’s toughness is so impressive but he just never had the space.  I watched from field level and haven’t seen any replay yet—my questions: is he not hitting the holes, and/or is he not quick enough to get through the holes or were there just not enough holes?  That’s got to get better as well. 

Bright sides. But ahh, there are a few sunny bullets as I type this on my way out of beautiful Salt Lake City:

  • I’m glad we played this game – that was a good team and traveling that far is a tough way to start a season.  But they will be better for it in November.
  • The team seemed tougher than I’ve seen in a while.  Not as much dancing around, jawing and yapping.  (I still miss Norfleet).  Just actually being tougher.  What a concept.
  • Conditioning – I was worried (really worried) that a few guys looked winded early on the game.  But they hung tough and seem to be in excellent shape.
  • The defense did a nice job overall, didn’t they?  
  • The pass protection seemed solid – by and large Rudock’s mistakes weren’t the fault of a line.
  • While the biggest issue is clearly at quarterback, Harbaugh’s got an ultimate set of QB tools – he can fix it.
  • Butt

Jake Butt scores 

Sights and Sounds:

Utah fans – For Rice-Eccles being the size of a thimble (it was as an all-time record crowd of 47,825) the place definitely could get loud.  And just because there are deep Mormon roots and perhaps influences in the area, don’t think they couldn’t be nasty.  F-bombs were hurled at your beloved maize and blue I can assure you.  And I’m not saying that doesn’t happen in Ann Arbor, I’m just sayin’. 

Utah CheerleaderActually I give Ute fans a ‘B+’

Ball gone – And speaking of Utah fans, something I don’t think I’ve seen before.  One M player booted a practice kick over their net and the ball never came back.  The Ute fans just kept it.  The U-M ball boys were noticeably pissed. 

Michigan Football Ball Boys

One asked another, “What about security?”, and the reply was, “What security?”.    Good point.  To my next point.

Security – FWIW there really wasn’t any tangible security at all at the place – that is, beyond the cops around the coaches and the guys keeping people off the field.  I wasn’t the only guy with a credential who walked right in to the underbelly of the building without being checked for anything – credential, bag, what have you.  Perhaps that’s part of being in Salt Lake City. 

Julius Peppers | Michigan

UniformsMore detail here.  I thought the all-whites looked okay, and I like the darker shade of maize.  I’m iffy on the darker shade of blue (it almost looks black to me- perhaps it is a salute to Hoke’s gameday pants).  The Uniform Timeline is updated with the details.  So look for next week – see if you notice how dark the jerseys will be.

Historical Notes – Really not too many.  This was the first major conference road game since 1991 against Boston College (and Desmond Howard erupted, launching the Heisman-winning season).  Speaking of trophies, methinks Jake Butt is the latest Wolverine in the running for the coveted September Heisman?

A few more shots from pregame:

Jim Harbaugh Ann Arbor tie Nice tie!  I wonder where he got it?  See @johnubacon’s Endzone for more on that.  (Speaking of Bacs – he was spotted at the game looking sharp and even signing the occasional autograph for Meechigan fans. Go Bacs, go).

Evernote Camera Roll 20150906 113229

Mrs. #4 (left) –with her buddy who didn’t get the memo on the acceptable shades of nail polish this and any other every week.  We need focus – top to bottom, people.

 

coach Wheat Coach Wheatley expecting the Salt Lake to flood.

need 
We need a Jake Butt version of this in the student section next weekend.  The arms move around, they move around!  Ok maybe it’s just me.

IMG_7642 line spreading out 
Need Bo’s yardstick to check the spacing

IMG_7661 it is a woman
Shopping list?  OK that was wrong. 
Srsly I think it’s very cool to have women refs out there.

A couple shots from the game:

IMG_7698 82 streaks 82 thought bubble: “Hold up assistant coaches, I’m confused.  You want me to GO?  DOWN THE FIELD?  This way?? With this pigskin in my hand and those flying red guys trying to kill me?”

 

Jehn Chesson stiff arm 

IMG_7744 pass blocking again, I thought these guys did a nice job in pass protect

IMG_7923 d smith

See you next Saturday.  By then we should be several percentage points better.

moes

More pregame stuff:

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Bless you Sap for serving up decals after that rough game.  Here you go:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION

DE’VEON SMITH – Now you know why coaches like Bo and Bill Parcells loved to have a strong running game. When you can close out a game, or at least milk the clock, it puts pressure on the opposing team to either use all their timeouts late in the game or drive the length of the field to win. Smith has given the Michigan offense the strength and stability it desperately needs – especially when U-M’s QB is basically playing on one leg.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION

FRANK CLARK – Finally a solid, break-out, statement game from Clark. Dude was the classic guy who came to play right from the opening snap to the final play of the game. I haven’t seen such a strong and steady big play performance from a Michigan defender since some guy wore #2 in 1997.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION

KICK TEAM – I don’t want to sound like an old coach, but don’t EVER take another extra point for granted. If Matt Wile doesn’t convert his PAT, the score would have been 9-9 instead of 10-9, and all Northwestern would have needed was a PAT of their own to win.

 

I know, I know, Wile had one kick blocked, but aside from that, the entire Kick Team played lights out against the Wildcats. From Will Hagerup’s Aussie Drop style punts being downed at the Northwestern one-yard line, to Jehu Chesson recovering a Wildcat muff, the execution of the Michigan Kick Team flipped field position in this contest the entire night. And when playing against an offense that was as scintillating as Northwestern’s was (NOT!), it tilts the field even more in your favor.

UNIFORM CHAMPION

YELLOW SHOES – If I can accept the blue stockings (instead of the traditional maize shoes white socks), y’all can give me the yellow cleats that Blake Countess strutted out on Ryan Field on Saturday night. Talk about sick!?!? I LOVED that look with the white jersey, maize pants and white socks!!

 

If Michigan ever goes back to the Canary Yellow unis, you gotta complete the ensemble with those wicked yellow Countess cleats!

EDITOR’S CHOICE

image

JAKE RYAN –  The position move to middle linebacker was a tough transition for Jake but man, he’s looked solid the past few games and he was an badass out there Saturday.  On the NW sideline Fitz must have seen shades of his old playing days watching #47 out there.  He had one series (that ended with his interception) that is a mini-highlight package all in of itself.  FWIW he didn’t wear his Legends Bennie Oosterbaan patch on the #47 jersey for some reason—I half wondered if he removed it and sewed it on Fitz’s ass during pregame.