Monday, October 8, 2007

On lost teams, first games, and cajones of steel

-I couldn't help wondering as we left the game if we are going to get the two more wins we need to be bowl eligible. We looked sloppy and unfocused for a second straight game. Special teams breakdowns, missed tackles on defense, missed blocking assignments, fumbled snaps. This might be as undisciplined a team as Lloyd Carr has had. I really wonder if Lloyd Carr and the coaching staff has lost this team. That would certainly would explain the uninspired play and the numerous discipline problems (Manningham and Minor suspended for this game, Sears kicked off the team, the Fulmer Cup standings). On some level, the players may know that Carr is nearing the end of his career, and with the goal of getting back to last year's mountaintop gone, they have begun to drift a little in practice and during games. One can only hope that the combination of some senior leadership, the return of some injured starters and a string of challenging games ahead (minus Minnesota) can get them back on track.
-I felt a little better about our game next week when I watched some of the OSU-Purdue game. OSU is the best team in the league, but I expected they'd put up a little more of a fight. Purdue showed little if any running game, and Curtis Painter didn't show much mobility. Purdue runs a spread, but it's not the kind of spread that has hurt us. We have struggled against the spread option attack and in particular the zone read, where the QB and RB come together at the snap and the QB reads the defense and decided to either keep the ball or leave it in the RB's hands. I'm not saying Purdue won't move the ball on us, but I'm not as worried about an Oregon like beat-down.
-Wow, what a game down in Baton Rouge. Les Miles has cajones of steel. 5 for 5 on fourth down calls. He totally out coached the boy genius Urban Meyer. LSU, who had half an offense without any receivers who could catch the ball (Early can't return to soon), and who had real trouble slowing down the Florida offense early in the game, won the game on guts and the iron will of Mr. Miles. "What the mind can conceive..." and all that. The more I see of Les, the more I begin to like the idea that he might be our next coach.
-In fact how's this for a dream scenario: Lloyd announces his retirement right before the OSU game. The team goes out and knocks off the #2 Buckeyes and costs them a return trip to the National Championship, setting up a championship game between the top two candidates for the M job, Tedford and Miles.
-Seriously, Trojans.
-Florida at #14?!? Did any of these coaches watch the game in Baton Rouge? The Gators put up more of a fight than either South Carolina or Virginia Tech, both of whom are ranked ahead of them. Couple that with the fact that Tennessee, who they beat by three dozen earlier in the year just clobbered a ranked opponent by 21, and the Gators should be no lower than 10th. In fact, switching USC and UF might be just about right. I wonder if the Blogpoll will get it right.
-Notre Dame finally won a game, and nobody noticed.
-I bet there are SEC fans everywhere laughing their behinds off at the idea that Ron Zook could win a Big Ten championship. With games left against Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa, and Ball State, they are looking at a potential 9 or 10 game season. Of course, given Mr. Zook's history, every surprising win is followed by an equally surprising loss and a couple of embarrassing off-campus incidents.
-Thanks to the BTN (F you Comcast), I have seen all of five minutes of MSU football this year (normally I see bits of pieces of just about every game), so I couldn't give you any elaborate thoughts on their loss to Northwestern, but everything I read after the fact makes it look like the more things change the more they stay the same in EL. Look for one more shocking win (please let it be in Columbus), and at least one more heart-wrenching loss.
-There were two good things about our game. The first was Mike Hart setting the record for most rushing yards by a Michigan back, and the almost two minute standing ovation he got when they announced it. As I've said before, highlights alone do not give you a full measure of what he has meant to this program in his four years. Without him, they easily could be under .500 in the last three years. We will miss him something fierce next year.
-This was the other good thing:

My five year old son attended his first game at Michigan Stadium. Yes he was more interested in the ice cream he got, playing with the binoculars, and making paper airplanes than the game, but he sang the fight song, gave us a hug and a high five when Michigan scored, and was constantly looking for "Mike" in every play (he heard us cheering for Mike Hart). All in all, a good first game. I look forward to many more.