Let’s Talk About Michigan Football

BY:DALTON

I’m ready to talk about Michigan football after giving it almost 10 days to marinate about what happened in Columbus. It was ugly, it was disappointing, it was embarrassing, and it wasn’t fun. It officially killed everything that Michigan football wants to be. They are no longer my father’s Michigan. National Title aspirations can never be the hope again. This loss officially confirmed that we are now the Wisconsin or Iowa of the B1G Ten East. We should aim for a B1G Championship appearance and the Rose Bowl. From here on out it would be foolish to have a “CFP or Bust” mentality as long as the last game of the year is against Ohio State. Some of my fellow Michigan fans will disagree with me. I want to be with them. I want to think there is a chance every season to make some national noise simply because “We are Michigan Football, 11 time National Champions”. Well, the last title came in the 90’s and since the turn of the century Michigan has only beaten Ohio State three (3) times. If they couldn’t beat them this year, I honestly don’t know what it would take to beat them. Ohio State has our number. Harbaugh isn’t great against rivals. Those are just facts. Cant argue with them. As for what happened a couple Saturdays ago, there is plenty of blame to go around.

Obviously the defense was the most shocking part of the failed venture into The Horseshoe. I saw plenty of scenarios where Michigan could lose the game, but the defense having the worst performance in Michigan Football history was not one of them. Giving up 62 points seemed impossible the way the Michigan defense had played under Brown the last 2 seasons. To me, it all started with the defensive line. That has been the strong point and calling card of the Michigan defense. When Gary, Winovich, and the rest of the crew were neutralized at the line of scrimmage, the rest of the team was exposed. Especially corner back Brandon Watson. If he played horribly, that would have been an upgrade over the performance that was turned in. The linebackers were constantly being burnt on running back wheel routes and, as mentioned in the preview by me, the secondary just simply wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the OSU wide outs. I thought that the secondary would be able to hold their own because I thought that Michigan had a superior advantage in the trenches. I was wrong, the defense was torched, and my hope for the future was lost.

The offense was not blameless. Despite putting up 39 points, the offense failed every time they were needed. Deep into the 3rd quarter it was an 8-point game and the defense had come up with multiple stops. An offensive score there potentially changes the story of the game. Gentry is the first player that comes to mind when thinking of the offensive ineptitude. He dropped a sure fire touchdown and a few big first down opportunities. Higdon was exposed for not being fast, Evans was exposed as not being strong (even though he would have given the running game the best chance that day, in my opinion), the offensive line was porous, and Shea proved to many that he is not ready for the NFL. The players under performed, but that wasn’t my biggest issue with the offense.

Now we are on to the coaching staff. Don Brown failed to adjust his game plan for what seemed like the first time in his tenure as DC. But, despite having a historically horrific day, I give him a pass. Not a pass for the game, but a pass for the future. I truly believe he will make the right adjustments going forward and wont be caught like he was that fateful Saturday ever again. Jim Harbaugh and the offensive coaching staff is a completely different story. Let me get this out there now, I do NOT want Michigan and Jim Harbaugh to separate paths. I think Jim is the best possible guy for the situation. That being said, RUN AN OFFENSE THAT IS NEWER THAN 1984. The game plan for this years’ game was absolutely pathetic. We continued to try and pound the rock, run play action, and huddle up despite being down two scores in the 4th quarter. The correct game plan against Ohio State’s defense was to go down field, something we never attempted to do, and to use speed, another thing we never attempted to do. Why were there no plays designed to get the ball into the hands of Tarik Black? Maryland scored 52 points basically running jet sweeps and Hail Marys and we didn’t attempt one of those. The ground and pound offense works against the Purdues and Marylands of the B1G Ten. Not against Ohio. Why was the game plan for the biggest game in the last 12 years of Michigan football the exact same as when Michigan won the National Title in 1948?  No creativity and inside the box thinking lead to another ass-whooping at the hands of Ohio State. I don’t know why, but I honestly thought that Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton (Maryland, please hire him) would look at what had worked against OSU all year and done something remotely similar to that. Don’t try to tell me that Michigan doesn’t have the athletes to do it. Don’t lie to yourself and think that Michigan doesn’t have the players to do it but Purdue and Maryland do. I understand the game plan of clock control, wearing them down, and having that pay dividends in the 4th quarter. But, when you find yourself in the middle of a shoot out, set down your hammer, pick up a gun, and give it hell. The one exciting drive Michigan had in the second half led to their only score that really mattered. The worst part about it is that the two games against OSU previous, I thought the coaching staff did an excellent job at game planning and that they just didn’t have the players to execute on offense. This year though, I’m not even sure if the coaching staff put together a game plan.

Its just sickening to see such an amazing season thrown away. 10-2 with a New Years 6 bowl is a great season any other year. But when you go in to the last game of the season against your bitter rival, with not only a B1G Ten Championship on the line, but also a College Football Playoff berth on the line, a NY6 bowl is a pretty shitty consolation prize. Now, I do want Michigan to beat Florida in the Peach Bowl. I would never want them to lose a game. It is just going to be tough to feel excited for it.

What is a Rivalry?

By: DALTON

As we all know, the University of Michigan Wolverines will take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State University on Saturday at high noon. According to my close personal friends Merriam and Webster, a rivalry is “the act of rivaling: the state of being a rival: COMPETITION”. But is Michigan still a rival? Let’s break it down:

The Wolverines are certainly rivals in “the act of rivaling”. Any time the Buckeyes win anything of meaning (games, recruiting, internal investigations) it is like a small knife stabbing all Wolverines in the heart. Michigan wants to beat OSU in every single thing that involves 100 yards and a leather ball. So, rivaling is an act that Michigan not only does, they excel in it.

Part two of the definition, “the state of being a rival”. Everything that was said in the paragraph above can be said for Ohio State. They hate us, we hate them. Hell, the entire state of Ohio tries to get rid of the letter “M” for an entire week. I’m willing to put ownership of this lowly frequented blog down that if you ask 100 Ohio State fans who their biggest rival is, 99 of them will say the University of Michigan. To question if Michigan is in the state of being Ohio State’s rival would almost be as dumb as shortening your alphabet to 25 letters for almost 2% of the year.

Competition. If you’ve read to this point and expected me to argue that Michigan had won games that they haven’t, you can probably close out the window. I know the statistics. Michigan has won two of the last seventeen contests against Ohio State. Even Ohio State fans are smart enough to tell you that isn’t very good. An unacceptable amount of wins that Michigan fans have no choice but to accept. It is our reality. We have been flat out dominated by Ohio State and the likes of Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. Sometimes the good guy doesn’t always win. When push comes to shove, Michigan hasn’t been a rival in terms of competition. It doesn’t matter how close the games have been, who the quarterbacks have been, or where the spots on the field were; Michigan lost.

While meeting two out of the three prongs for being a rival, Michigan misses out on the most important one. But, a rivalry isn’t decided by what’s written in the history books. It’s not what arbitrary electronic numbers are shown on a scoreboard one Saturday a year. It is in the hearts and minds of a fan base. When a stunningly gorgeous baby boy is born at 3:13 am in Saginaw, Mi and raised in Standish to despise anything related to Columbus, Ohio, that is a rivalry. When an Ohio State graduate delivers his last pizza of the night, backs his ’91 Civic into a parked car, and then decides not to leave his information because that Lamborghini has a Michigan license plate, that is a rivalry.

Now, we come to the year 2018 of our Lord. The B1G East title, a spot in the B1G Championship game, and a shot at the College Football Playoffs lay in the balance on Saturday afternoon. While the competition aspect of the rivalry has been dead for 10 years or so, it doesn’t matter on November 24th. This is the biggest game in Michigan’s history since the same teams met in 2006. Not only is all the aforementioned on the line, but this is also a legacy game for Jim Harbaugh. There is absolutely no reason Michigan should lose this year when looking at this game on paper. Michigan has a clear advantage at every position except wide receiver and, maybe, quarterback. But, as I said before, this game isn’t played on paper. At the end of the day, this is THE Game. Both teams will be fired up and should need no extra motivation outside of the game and what’s at stake.

This game is everything for Michigan fans. Well, it is everything for me at least. If Michigan ends up losing this game, I may never be able to care about anything ever again. I will be broken mentally and, quite possibly, physically. I have already seen my passion for sports wane down over the past couple of years. Whether it be getting a job, having more important things to worry about, or simply just getting older, I just don’t get as excited as I do for sports anymore. Yes, I still get juiced up while watching the games. Wins are still sweet and defeat is still bitter, but not like it used to be. Until this season, this season of Michigan football has restoked a competitive fire inside me for events that I’m not even competing in. If Michigan loses, I may never be able to recover. I’m sure there are some sick bastards out there who would love nothing more than to see me and millions of other Maize & Blue fans have their collective hearts ripped out. While I understand the hatred of Harbaugh because he is bombastic, unabashed, and honest, I just can’t simply wrap my head around not wanting Michigan to win unless you’re an OSU fan. Some people would rather see a coach who enables and silently endorses repeated domestic abuse to come out on top again. They would rather see someone who actively harbors murderers on their team win this game. They would rather see someone who fakes health scares in order to draw sympathy when his teams are playing poorly win the B1G East again.

 

Pause a second for me to get off my high horse…

 

BUT, I have a message for the Ohio State University and all who cheer for them or Michigan’s downfall. This year is a new year. For Michigan to start a dynasty over the B1G East, if not now, when? The time is high for Michigan and Jim Harbaugh to do what he was brought in do. Dominate. A victory Saturday may not only usher in a new era of Michigan reign, but it may also end the coaching career of the conveniently-forgetting Urban Meyer. His time is up. The bell tolls for thee, Urban. To quote the great Buhdist monk Bodhidharma, “Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn’t exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty, committing evil isn’t wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such conception.”. When karma catches up to Urban, he must address it by name. Karma has a name on November 24th, its name is Michigan.

PREDICTION: Michigan 28- Ohio State 17

(These 1000+ words would be pointless if I didnt predict Michigan to win)

 

 

Friday Football Preview

By: DALTON

Ohio State @ Michigan State, Noon, FOX: This is my biggest upset alert for any team ranked in the top 25. Michigan State is getting healthier and at home. Now, the Buckeyes are still going to be the favorite but this is clearly Urban’s worst team at Ohio State. They struggled with a trash Nebraska team. If Dantionio actually wants to put together an offensive game plan, then the Spartans should be in it right to the end. When an underdog hangs around in a game, they usually can find a way to pull off the upset, especially at home. OSU’s season is over at about 3:30 pm. PREDICTION: OSU 21- MSU 24

 

Michigan @ Rutgers, 3:30 PM, BTN: The fact that the line on this game is only Michigan -39 is all the motivation this years Wolverines should need. The only thinking on this game I have to do is will Rutgers have more yards than Michigan has points? PREDICTION: UM 62- RU 0

 

Lions @ Bears, 1:00 PM, FOX: With the Lions looking like absolute garbage against a good pass rush last week in Minnesota, they dont inspire much hope going into Chicago going against an even better pass rush. Now T.J. Lang is officially out so I dislike their chances of stopping Khalil Mack even more. Slay was also announced as OUT for Sunday so the defense is going to be down one of their top play makers. The good news for the Lions? The Bears offense can be stopped. The bad news? They have to stop the running game. The Lions can win this game if they can contain and force Trubisky to throw. That and a little bit of protection for Stafford should make for an interesting Sunday. But, dont get your hopes up folks. The Bears defense will be the best one the Lions face this year outside the Rams. Lions fans should just hope that Stafford makes it out of Chicago with the ability to walk. PREDICTION: DET 13- CHI 24

Friday Football Preview

BY:DALTON

Michigan State Bye: Usually I hate when a bye week comes early in a teams season. But, after a Utah State scare during week one and an upset loss in the late desert to Arizona State, this bye couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the Spartans. As a Michigan fan, it kills me to say this, but I still think MSU has a good team this year. I can’t explain the slow start this year, but Lewerke is a good quarterback and Dantonio is a good coach so this ship isn’t sunk. They have a lot of figuring out to do on the defensive side of the ball and I expect them to get it done before their tilt against Indiana.

 

SMU Mustangs @ Michigan Wolverines: This is a pretty straightforward preview. As long as the Wolverines don’t choke on their own spit, they should easily role the ‘Stangs. In every facet of the game, Michigan is considered better. Now, an upset is always possible so please don’t screenshot this article and paste it all over social media. PREDICTION: UM 42- SMU 7

 

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers: The Lions STINK out loud. The defense is porous and the offense is non-existent, not a great combo. The 49ers are a solid squad despite a loss to the Vikings last week. Garrapolo didn’t have a great performance against Minnesota but the defense he plays this week will be a lot easier to toss against so the Jimmy G hype train will get right back on track. Lions can win this game is if they somehow hold San Francisco to 21 points or less. Sadly, that won’t happen. Despite me being in attendance, Lions still lose. PREDICTION: SF 28- DET 17

Michigan or God?

BY: DALTON

Lord Almighty, its here at last! After a painstakingly long offseason of twists and turns, the fruits of our fandom labor are about to be harvested. Whether those passion pomegranates are sweet or sour will be known by 7:30 pm EST. On the road, versus a higher ranked opponent, week one is not a must-win football game by any means. What tonight is, to borrow a term from my Catholic brethren,  is a chance at perception salvation. Last football season, the Maize and Blue had the dullest, most unimaginative, and frustrating offense ever put onto a football field. It didn’t help that the Wolverines were forced to game plan with John O’Korn under center, but the coaching staff didn’t do themselves any favors, either. So, in a very un-Catholic move, Jim Harbaugh saw a glaring problem and replaced those in charge. A whole new offensive staff has moved into Schembechler Hall and, come tonight, will be under the spotlight of anxious fans. Nobody is worried about the defense. Don Brown has proven every year that he can coach his unit to be one of the best in the country. This season they return 10 starters, the most Brown has had return during his tenure at Michigan. Obviously, replacing Mo Hurst is going to be the biggest personnel challenge this season and should not be overlooked. Hell, Hurst was possibly the best interior defensive lineman to ever wear the winged helmet. But, I think its safe to say that if this year’s defense isn’t ranked in the top five nationally, something went horribly wrong.

Tonight’s game is more than just a game. I would love a Michigan victory, make no qualms about it. But, if they lose tonight it will be the way in which they lose that will determine how we should feel about this season. So no matter the result, Michigan football needs to move on to step “I” of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System. Inspire hope. If the Wolverines come out and Shae Patterson is 70% of what the beat writers have said he is, the offense looks balanced and competent, and the defense is as stingy as a rusted out hinge and still somehow lose, I’ll be alright. I won’t be happy that they lost, but my hope for this season will not be left on the field in South Bend. Harbaugh and Company just need to show me that something has changed since the end of last season. Show me progress, show me some creativity, show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, show me there is a reason to believe!

Now, we come to the headline question of the article. When the Michigan Wolverines take the field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend tonight, who’s side will I ultimately be on? Michigan, the school I grew up loving, went to, paid tuition to, and graduated from? Or, Notre Dame, the school with the foremost connection to eternal salvation? It’s not an easy decision, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer because my soul rests in the balance. I will say though, that come January, I’d rather be staying up late on a Monday night than waking up early on a Sunday morning.