Posted on: November 11, 2010 12:30 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Michigan has one of the worst defenses in the country this season. A unit that has been depleted over the last few years thanks to transfers and injuries finds itself ranked 114th in the country in total defense, and 104th in scoring defense. Which wouldn't be so terrible if there were 400 teams in the FBS, but there are only 120.
So, naturally, the last thing Michigan needs right now is another injury on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that's exactly what they have. Linebacker and leading tackler Jonas Mouton pulled a chest muscle during Michigan's crazy triple-overtime victory over Illinois last weekend, and now his status for Michigan's game against Purdue this Saturday is in doubt.
"We'll see how he progresses as it relates to Saturday," Rich Rodriguez told The Detroit News. "I don't think there's structural damage, but there's muscular issues that are causing some pain, and it's kind of a day-to-day thing. He's a tough guy, and if he can play and is cleared by the trainers, he'll be ready to go."
Obviously, Michigan can't really afford to lose anybody on defense these days, let alone its leading tackler. If Mouton can't go on Saturday, Rodriguez said he'll be replaced by co-captain Mark Moundros at weak-side linebacker.
Moundros was a fullback last season.
The Wolverines may want to put up 60 again.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 10:34 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This being Veteran's Day, it's worth noting that one of the highlights of this year's service academy football schedules is the Nov. 20 meeting between Army and Notre Dame in New York, the first-ever college football game at the new Yankee Stadium. With the game now just nine days away, it was time this week to give the stadium its gridiron makeover, and we'd say the new look looks mighty fine on it :
For video of the process that produced the above, click here . As fascinating as the venue promises to be, however, it won't even be the only traditional baseball stadium hosting college football that day. Also playing that day are Northwestern and Illinois , and they'll be meeting at Wirgley Field. How does Wrigley look like with its football lines in place? Like so :
Neither game promises to match up ranked teams or have much bearing on any conference or BCS races. But with settings this unique, we'll be tuning in all the same.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 5:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Sometimes, a news story isn't so much a news story as mere confirmation. For instance, after Penn State sophomore walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin tore apart visiting Michigan in a 41-31 win in relief of nominal starter Robert Bolden , and then led the Nittany Lions out of a 21-0 hole with 35 straight points to beat Northwestern after two series with Bolden went nowhere, it would take an extremely stubborn coach not to decide that McGloin had earned the starting position.
And Joe Paterno didn't win 400 games by being stubborn , not that Bolden is out of the picture just yet:
Paterno said he had intended to reinsert Bolden [against Northwesten], but McGloin got hot and finished with 225 passing yards and four touchdowns. McGloin has thrown for seven scores the last three games, with one pick.By this stage, though, there might not be many Nittany Lion fans who'd agree. McGloin is sporting a 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio compared to Bolden's 5-to-7, is averaging .7 more yards per pass attempt (7.9 to 7.2), and has a passer rating some 34 points higher (154.83 to 120.16). McGloin has had the benefit of facing three less-than-killer defenses in Minnesota , Michigan, and Northwestern, but there's also not much arguing with a three-game win streak or the kind of listlessness the offense displayed under Bolden in losses to Iowa and Illinois .
Of course, it won't take long to determine if McGloin is a product of his opponents or not; this week's Nittany Lion opponent is Ohio State , the No. 3 defense in the country, and the Lions will be on the road in Columbus. If McGloin can play well enough to keep Bolden on the bench in those kinds of circumstances, it'll be worth asking if we'll see the true freshman again this season ... and if a player who began the season as a third-string afterthought is JoePa's official Quarterback of the Future.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 2:33 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It just wouldn't be a normal week in the college football world if we didn't have to wonder what the status of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was for the coming weekend. Robinson had to leave Michigan's video game triple-overtime victory over Illinois during the third quarter on Saturday, and experienced concussion-like symptoms. Robinson had a headache and was dizzy, so Michigan trainers felt it best to keep him out of the rest of the game, and Tate Forcier filled in admirably to lead the Wolverines to a victory.
But what about this Saturday's game against Purdue?
Well, Rich Rodriguez did his best to avoid the word concussion during his news conference on Monday, but did say that Robinson should be "good to go" after going through tests on Sunday.
"All's good," Rodriguez said. "There are no issues."
Which means that Robinson is likely going to start against Purdue on Saturday, break off a big run, take a hit, and then have to leave the game. Then next Monday or Tuesday we'll be writing the same post here again about Robinson's status for the game against Ohio State. So I guess we'll see you then!
Posted on: November 7, 2010 2:32 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 2:58 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
1. Michigan doesn't do "boring." The game of the week, beyond any doubt, was Michigan's 67-65 squeaker over Illinois. The game featured 132 points scored, 1237 yards from scrimmage, 58 first downs, and 60:00 total time of possession. Okay, so the last one is normal.
Down the stretch, Michigan was led by Tate Forcier under center, as Denard Robinson was knocked out of a game once again. Forcier effectively reprised his role of "4th quarter dynamo" from 2009, proving yet again the rare value of an experienced backup quarterback. Forcier is clearly not Denard, but the fact remains that Forcier is good enough that he should be spelling Robinson periodically throughout Michigan's game regardless of Robinson's health. Michigan has two starting-quality quarterbacks, and as Robinson's accumulation of minor injuries demonstrates, they clearly need to use them! It's just up to Rich Rodriguez to use both on his own terms, rather than waiting for Robinson to get knocked out of the game first.
Thus, the only game that Michigan has participated in that didn't result in at least 50 total points was its season-opening 30-10 win over Connecticut; since then, whenever Michigan takes the gridiron, the points fly; on average, a Michigan game features almost 73 points per game. In fact, after today's circus act, Michigan leads the Big Ten in both points per game and points allowed per game. Is it "good football"? Lord, no. Is it exciting? Of course. If that's the role Michigan is destined to play under Rich Rodriguez, it's certainly a step down for the Wolverines, but it's not necessarily worse for the conference as a whole.
2. The road is awful hard. It don't take no guff. No. 9 Wisconsin went on the road to Purdue and trailed until the second half. No. 16 Iowa went to Indiana and needed a horrific dropped touchdown on 4th down (more on this later) to escape with an 18-13 win. Northwestern blew a 21-0 lead at Happy Valley, Minnesota got smacked by Michigan State, and Illinois couldn't win in Ann Arbor even after scoring 65 points.
All of which is to say, winning on the road in the Big Ten is still really difficult. It's something to keep in mind when prognosticating the Rose Bowl berth endgame. Regardless of how good the four teams at the top of the conference are, odds are that at least one (and probably more) will go down on the road yet this season, and we shouldn't be surprised when it happens.
3. Nothing's really changed at the top. Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Iowa all won, and we're still waiting on a score from Ohio State and Brigham Young East (we assume that's what BYE stands for). The tiebreakers remain exactly the same, then, with the only difference being that there is now one fewer game for the first three teams mentioned to lose. With a finite -- and indeed, extremely limited -- amount of games to play, the passage of one week without a dropoff from the top four is in and of itself important, even if the stipulations and situations themselves don't change. Perhaps this isn't something to "have learned," per se , but for the top of the conference, the maintenance of the status quo is still meaningful.
4. Penn State's offense might actually exist. When Northwestern went up 21-0 on a sensational Drake Dunsmore* touchdown late in the first half, it would have been perfectly logical to assume that the Penn State offensive attack, led by former walk-on Matt McGloin, didn't have much of a shot to make up the deficit. After all, it would have tied the largest deficit a Joe Paterno-coached Penn State team had ever made up in his previous 399 victories, and that's a lot of victories.
But of course, Penn State did exactly that, scoring the final 35 points of the game to win 35-21. McGloin poured in four touchdown passes, but the real heroes were on PSU's oft-maligned offensive line; the front five paved enough holes to let both Evan Royster and Silas Redd top 100 rushing yards on the day, and McGloin's 225 passing yards simply wouldn't have happened if he had faced the pressure that regular starter Rob Bolden has become used to in this, his freshman season. Imagine that: when given time and space to operate, a previous all-conference honoree once again looked like an all-conference player, and a walk-on quarterback was able to execute to the best of his ability.
5. One quiet moment for Damario Belcher. We mentioned this play in passing earlier, but it's worth mentioning in more detail; with less than 30 seconds on the clock and the Hoosiers facing a 4th and 10 at the Iowa 18, Indiana QB Ben Chappell found wideout Damario Belcher open in the middle of the end zone. Belcher, already the team's leading receiver on the game with seven catches for 50 yards, made an athletic move to catch the ball with nobody on him and got both hands on it, leading most in the stadium to assume Indiana had scored the putative winning touchdown.
Alas, as an eagle-eyed referee (and several optimistic Iowa players) noticed, Belcher bobbled the pass and never controlled it before the ball hit the ground and rolled away ineffectually, making the play nothing more than a drive-killing incomplete pass. Indiana challenged, but it was an easy confirmation for replay officials; it clearly was not a catch. Iowa knelt on the ball, and just like that, Indiana lost on a play Belcher makes probably 90-95% of the time.
Again, this isn't strictly something to learn, but it's something important to remember: Belcher's a human being, and he doesn't need anybody to remind him that he screwed the game-winning play up. There's likely nobody in the world -- like, at all -- who feels worse about the loss than he does. So to anybody who finds it necessary to complain that Belcher "sucks" or is "stupid" or "needs to get his damn head in the game" or whatever arbitrary derogatory remark they think applies to Belcher, one piece of advice: save it. Just don't add to the crapfest that guy's season already became, and strike a note for civility instead. Granted, Indiana football fans aren't generally known to be nasty or otherwise unreasonable to begin with or anything, but still: let's all keep our heads screwed on about this game and this 20-year-old kid playing it.
*Did you know: Drake Dunsmore is a second-generation college football player. His father is Pat Dunsmore, a star tight end who was drafted in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears in 1983 and played two seasons with the team. And where did Pat Dunsmore go to school? Yep: Drake University.
Tags: Ben Chappell, Big Ten, Chicago Bears, Damario Belcher, Denard Robinson, Drake, Drake Dunsmore, Drake Dunsmore Catch, Drake Dunsmore Video, Evan Royster, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Joe Paterno, Joe Paterno 400 Wins, Matt McGloin, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pat Dunsmore, Penn State, Purdue, Rich Rodriguez, Silas Redd, Tate Forcier, What I Learned, Wisconsin
Posted on: November 6, 2010 4:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At one point, it looked like Michigan had it in the bag, up 38-31 with the ball and driving deep into Illinois territory. Then it looked like they had no chance, down 45-38 with time for only one drive and Tate Forcier in for the injured Denard Robinson , out with either a head r hand injury (again).
But Forcier converted that drive into a critical last-minute touchdown, and Michigan survived three overtimes to win today's nominee for Big Ten game of the year 67-65 when Nathan Scheelhaase couldn't get a two-point conversion passoff. The game featured all kinds of superlatives and records, but maybe the most impressive is that Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree is now the school's single-game record holder for receiving yardage, having hauled in 9 catches for 246 yards. Even considering the addition of three extra frames, the amount of offense is staggering: 676 total yards for the Wolverines, 561 for the Illini. And the game provided some nice redemption for Forcier, the one-time golden boy who lost his job to Robinson in the offseason and began his outing today by setting up an Illini score with an unforced fumble.
But the biggest winner of all is Rich Rodriguez , who has his team bowl-eligible for the first time in his three seasons and could even push to seven wins with a victory over injury-riddled Purdue . As powerful as the Michigan offense looks, it seems unlikely the usually-stolid Michigan administration will rfire him after a bowl season over simply asking him to make defensive staffing changes. RichRod had never been in more trouble after last week's defensive meltdown against Penn State , but he might never have been safer than he is after this week's victory.
That's crazy, but it's also week-to-week business as usual in the college football business.
Posted on: November 6, 2010 1:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The Michigan -Illinois halftime score is already eye-popping enough: tied at 31-31 in Ann Arbor with 30 minutes still to play.
But the box score might be even more mind-boggling: the two teams have combined for the aforementioned 62 points, 706 yards (394 for Michigan, 312 for the Illini), 26 first downs, and five touchdowns of 33 yards or longer. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson has completed just 7 passes but for 262 yards, an average of 37 yards per completion. Illinois has run the ball 28 times already but for 185 yards, an average of better than 7 yards a carry. Craziest of all: Michigan has accomplished all of this while turning the ball over three times, Illinois while punting twice (the only punts of the game), losing a fumble, and settling for two early field goals in the red zone. The score could be higher .
Perhaps the biggest lesson to take from the game is how good the Wolverines could be if they had a defense with even the faintest pulse; the Illini entered the game ranked 15th in the country in total defense and have been totally shredded. But the other side of that coin, of course, is that Ron Zook 's team also came in ranked 85th in the country in total offense, and have barely been slowed down. Rich Rodriguez may be a certified offensive genius by now, but at this rate he'll be a certified defensive dunce ... if he's not already.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 8:45 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 8:51 pm
Posted by College Football Blog staff
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Baylor would ride a huge performance by Robert Griffin to upset Texas OH WAIT JERRY HINNEN NAILED THAT. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever. As you can tell.
Missouri finds itself in some trouble during the second half of their game against Texas Tech. It seems Tommy Tuberville finally has things working on both offense and defense as the Red Raiders hold a 10-6 lead midway through the third quarter. It's Missouri ball when Blaine Gabbert finally has the Missouri offense moving for the first time all day. Then, facing a first and 10 at the Tech 17-yard line, a blitzing linebacker comes free on Gabbert's blindside and levels him. Gabbert coughs up the ball, it's scooped up by the Raiders, and taken back for a touchdown. Gabbert gets happy feet for the rest of the game, short-arms every pass at his receivers' feet, and Mizzou never recovers. Texas Tech goes on to win 20-13. -- Tom Fornelli
Hawaii, feeling unusually frisky after beating Army and thumping Fresno State and Utah State all on the mainland, comes out for their game at Boise State wearing black leather Mad Max-inspired "(Road) Warriors" uniforms, complete with body armor and small spikes on their helmets. As a result, their pregame haka comes across as even more threatening and unnerving than usual, and the rattled Broncos wind up mostly standing around and watching as Bryant Moniz and Greg Salas connect for four first-half touchdowns and a 28-10 (Road) Warrior lead. Unfortunately, at halftime the officials convene and after a close perusal of the rulebook, declare Hawaii's uniforms totally illegal. The (Road) Warriors are told to either change uniforms or forfeit the game. They opt to simply go without uniforms, taking the field in pads, shirts, shorts, and cleats. The Broncos, unfortunately (for them), are nearly as unnerved by this as the Mad Max look, and fall behind 42-13 before a furious rally falls short, 42-41, handing Boise their first loss on the blue turf since, somewhat ironically, the last year Mel Gibson was considered cool. -- Jerry Hinnen
Well That's Just Absurd
Illinois storms into the Big House and Ron Zook continues his Zooker Redemption Tour with a 45-10 shellacking of the Michigan Wolverines. A wearied Rich Rodriguez answers a few questions at his post-game news conference before a familiar face stands up to ask a question. Why, it's Michigan athletic director David Brandon! Much to the annoyance of the collected media personnel, Brandon lobs a softball by asking Rodriguez to comment on his recent exoneration by the NCAA, which RichRod dutifully answers with the usual vague but positive coachspeak. At that point, Brandon responds that he doesn't actually care about the report, and that Rodriguez is fired, effective as of five minutes ago. RichRod exhales for the first time in three years. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is installed as interim head coach, but only so Brandon can have the pleasure of firing a coach and his successor in the same day; Robinson's tenure at Michigan ends seconds after it begins. Brandon then announces Jim Harbaugh as the next Michigan football head coach ... which comes as a total surprise to Harbaugh, who must then face the awkward task of declining the offer on account of his Stanford team's season not being even close to over. USC coach Lane Kiffin volunteers for the job instead, surprising nobody, and promises at his hiring the next day to "stay in North Arbor for years. That's what the 'N' in 'N. Arbor' means, right? North?" Michigan fans strain to avoid crying in public. -- Adam Jacobi
Tags: Army, Big 12, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbet, Boise State, Bryant Moniz, David Brandon, Fresno State, Greg Robinson, Greg Salas, Hawaii, Illinois, Insane Predictions, Jim Harbaugh, Lane Kiffin, Mad Max, Mel Gibson, Michigan, Missouri, Pac-10, Road Warriors, Ron Zook, Stanford, Texas Tech, Timely References, Tommy Tuberville, USC, utah State, WAC