Saturday, October 1, 2011

Michigan 58, Minnesota 0


Verb: Beat (someone) repeatedly with a bludgeon or other heavy object

I bet Minnesota fans are yearning for Glen Mason.  I know Minnesota wasn't exactly a juggernaut under their former coach, but at least a winning season was within reach.  Today was downright embarrassing for the Gophers.  They managed only 177 yards to Michigan's 580, of which 363 came on the ground.  It's not just that they were overmatched physically - it's that they didn't look like they wanted to play.

Vincent Smith yay.  Smith had a day that would make LaDainian Tomlinson jealous.  Smith carried the ball 5 times for 27 yards and 1 touchdown, caught 1 pass for 28 yards and a touchdown, and threw a halfback pass to Drew Dileo for a 17-yard touchdown.  The touchdown reception looked like the exact same play on which Smith scored against Notre Dame a few weeks ago.

Trick plays galore.  I think Al Borges ate a box of sparklers for breakfast this morning, because he was farting out fireworks.  Backup quarterback Devin Gardner took some snaps early in an effort to confuse the defense, which worked in a way, because he turned what looked like a triple pass into a gain of about five yards.  In the first quarter, with Gardner at quarterback and Denard Robinson at a wing position, Gardner pitched to Robinson who ran right, then threw back to Gardner on the left, and Gardner wanted to hit a wide receiver (Junior Hemingway?) streaking downfield.  But the receiver was well covered and Gardner just tucked it and ran.  Eat your heart out, Eastern Michigan.  Meanwhile, the halfback pass and other option plays with both Gardner and Robinson in the game made me think Brady Hoke has been sneaking into Chris Petersen's bedroom and reading his diary.

Blake Countess is the next Leon Hall.  Yep, I said it.  Minnesota doesn't have the greatest talent in the world, but Countess has looked pretty darn good for two weeks in a row.  Courtney Avery had a nice 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but Avery has been getting beaten more regularly than any of Michigan's other corners this year.  He's still not bad, but it looks like Countess will grab a starting spot sooner rather than later.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, please stay healthy.  Toussaint seems to have gained some confidence since the 2011 opener.  He's running more decisively and doing a better job of running with a purpose.  He had 11 carries for 108 yards, including his customary single-back dive over the top for a goal line touchdown.  What's the over/under on how many times he scores on that play this year?

FIRE JERRY KILL.  He grabbed a kid's facemask.  This madman must be stopped!

Shoelace, Jr.  Devin Gardner made some very Denard-esque plays, topped off by losing his shoe on one scramble.  Only two of his five throws were completed, but one was a downright drop by Roy Roundtree and another was a catchable ball that Jeremy Gallon probably should have had; the fifth should have been an interception, but Minnesota's defensive back wanted his belly button to get its first career pick.  I found it hilarious that the BTN's color analyst said he made "a great play on the ball"; if making a great play on the ball means jumping for a pass that hits you in the chest, then I used to coach some superstar middle schoolers.

William Campbell killed a guy with a trident.  Campbell literally ran over the center on one play and also crushed quarterback Max Shortell into the ground.  The switch is getting closer and closer to being flipped . . .

Biggest blowout in series history.  Michigan won this game with the biggest margin of victory in series history, beating the 1993 episode that saw the Wolverines beat the Gophers by a score of 58-7.


  1. An observation -- NOT a judgment -- Gardner already looks more poised, more composed as a passer. But compared to Robinson running, he looks slow. (Yes, that's just reaffirming how explosive Robinson is as a runner.) It'll be fascinating to see how that new formation (reverse wishbone?) plays out in the future, what possibilities it opens up.

  2. Lol I had to laugh when I saw the image at the top. This win did my heart good.

  3. First, Devin didn't lose his shoe unless he kicked it 3 feet in front of him. Devin ran over the show meaning it belonged to either the WR or CB in front of him.

    Two, I was laughed at by some fans (and backed by others) for also saying Countess=Hall on the Mgoblog liveblog.

    I really think the trick plays are mostly to play with MSU and other opponents. I'm not saying we won't see it again, it'll be limited. But it sure will eat up practice time up in EL.

  4. @ KB 6:55 p.m.

    No, Devin lost his shoe at one point. Denard even took off his headset and was ready to come back in because Devin couldn't get shoe back on immediately. Several plays later Jeremy Jackson lost his shoe, too.

  5. Denard was much more accurate today (YES!), and Gardner gave future defensive coordinators something to account for when game planning. On the other side of the ball, BWC and countess looked impressive as the defense pitched a shutout. Minnesota's program is in the toilet right now, obviously, but there were a lot of really encouraging signs from the game.

  6. Thanks for the Glen Mason comment.

    I thought that Mason was a helluva coach and did a helluva job for Minnesota by developing a style of play that he could recruit kids who would actually come to Minnesota to play.

    Nobody blocked like Minnesota under Mason which caused everybody who played em nothing but problems.

    Minnesota deserves the butt whipping they've been getting for stupidly firing a guy who was the real deal.

  7. Wow, I'm surprised people are praising Gardner's passing skills here. He looked pretty raw to me. Not that he won't be a good player, but let's just say this offense isn't suddenly going to be turned into a pro-style scheme when Denard graduates.

    Agree with everything Thunder wrote. Good win and we're some real good signs from Countess, Campbell, Ryan and some of the other young talent. Plus, it was good to see Roh make a few plays again - he seems to have turned the corner.

    I do find a facemask-grab to show a lack of basic respect for a player. I'd be disappointed if Hoke ever did that.

    Now it's on to the real part of the schedule: conference play, on the road, colder weather rolling in, power/pro-form teams.

  8. Discussion point: Is it good or bad that Al Borges pulled out a ton of razzle dazzle? Good in that we can practice it against other teams, but bad in that other teams have now seen these plays when we didn't exactly need to use them.

    I personally think this bag of tricks is deeper than it appears to be, so I don't think the well has exactly run dry...

  9. For the last three years my wife has constantly heard me asking what was left in the bag of tricks for conference play. This weekend we did not get the opportunity to watch together and she called me.immediately after the game and asked if that was what I have been asking for. I had a grin from ear to ear as I emphatically answered YES!

    I was really skeptical that Al would make our offense more productive, but I believe he has. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win a game rather than obsessing over a style of play. I am even more pleased that our small increase in defensive production has so far turned out to be way more than a small increase. Our team actually appears to know how to play fundamental football. They are still young in areas and make mistakes, but not one right after another.

    The next two weeks are going to be exciting to see our team tested outside of the Big House. Bring on the beginning of something great. GO BLUE!

  10. I think the whole point of showing razzle is to play off the preparation by the other team. For example, when we line up in the 2 QB formation, the MSU D will practically jump out of its skin to deploy whatever MD devises to stop it. That's when X-Box Al drops a wrinkle on them. I think you're more likely to exploit an overpursuing D like State with new wrinkles than new plays.

  11. Agree with M-Dan,

    It's not like the plays they've shown are one-dimensional. Even the Smith screen they've used twice now - if it's going to keep LBs paying attention to him - that opens up running lanes for Denard. The diamond formation with 2 QBs - you can run play action off that or just a straight hand-off to Denard...OR OR OR. These plays aren't just gimmicks like some of the old school 'trick plays' like the flea flicker.

    Plus, if the other coaches waste time teaching how to defend this stuff, they'll have more trouble on our standard stuff.

    Have to like what Borges is doing so far.