2010 M Football- 10 things to leave in 2009

As a new year begins there are some things that are best left in the past.

1.  NCAA violations
Seriously, enough of this crap.  It’s bad enough that the NCAA is taking forever to investigate the first batch of allegations made by the Detroit Free Press.  Let’s hope that 2010 is scandal free.
2.  Teams we’re never heard of
Delaware State?  You know things are bad when a program’s band gets more press than the football team.  Unfortunately this one is already shot since Massachusetts and Connecticut are on this season’s schedule.  We’ll have to roll this over for 2011.
3.  Home for the holidays
OK, all the people who thought that it was just horrible that the football team would usually leave before Christmas for their bowl destination have been appeased.  Athletic department staff who haven’t spent Christmas and New Year’s Day with their in-laws for decades have made appearances two years in row now.  It’s time to get the football team, athletic department staff, and alumni traveling again.
4.  Big Ten Expansion
Expansion rears its ugly head again.  Move the season back if you must but ditch the idea of the league championship game.  Multiple divisions with some games against league teams counting and others not are stupid.  Rather than follow in the moronic footsteps of lesser conferences do something innovative to highlight more of the league’s top teams rather than just the top two.  Imagine a Big Ten/Big East challenge after the Big Ten season is over that matches the top the 5 seeds of each conference in neutral sites like Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.  The other conferences would be drooling to have that kind of exposure.
5.  Tate Forcier’s unflappable confidence
I love that Tate Forcier has great confidence.  However I an tired of hearing how losses don’t bother him.  Tate, seriously, they should bother you.  Not crush you- but they should motivate you to work harder.  The robotic quotes seem a little odd.  Show some fire…
6.  Potshots from the Michigan “family”
There a lot of people within the Michigan family who are both for and against Coach Rich Rodriguez.  Unfortunately some of those who support Coach Rodriguez have taken shots at the previous regime.  Coach Rodriguez is responsible for the Michigan football team from here out.  There is no way he would allow a current player to blame his current poor performance on the starter from two season ago.  We need to hold Coach Rodriguez to the same standard.
7.  Being swept by the “states”
The later part of Lloyd’s tenure as head coach Michigan certainly struggled with Ohio State.  But he absolutely owned Penn State and Michigan State.  It’s time for Rich Rodriguez to start new winning streaks against all of the “states.”
8.  Whining that the cupboard was bare
On the day that Coach Rodriguez took over the cupboard was hardly bare.  The first job of a new coach is to re-recruit players currently in the program.  For whatever reason many players decided to leave either by declaring for the NFL draft or transferring.  I have no problem with players leaving and Coach Rodriguez wanting to have his own type of players on the team.  But he had active role in creating the current roster.  For him to imply that the talent wasn’t here when he took over is disingenuous.
9.  Piped in music for every game
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself’ being played against Ohio State or Notre Dame is cool.  When it’s played against the likes of Delaware State or Eastern Michigan it’s a joke.

10.  Michigan Stadium being taken over by opposing fans
The best way to do this is for the team to start putting the smack down on the field.  Opposing fans hate showing up and seeing their team get whooped on the field.  This doesn’t mean for Michigan fans to treating opposing rudely.  Save that idiotic behavior for other schools.  Cheer loudly and let the team take care putting the smack down.

2009 M Football- The year in photos…

Here are a selection of photos from the 2009 football season.

#1

When freshman phenom Tate Forcier suited up for spring practice I wondered if he’d be able to take the pounding of an entire season.  Tate’s progress was accelerated when returning starter Nick Sheridan was injured early in spring practice. From that point on Tate was the focal point at QB for the Wolverines.

#2
LB Obi Ezeh and DB Donovan Warren rest prior to media day.  Donovan would declare for the NFL draft after the season and Obi would lose his starting job.
#3
Players posing for a group shot during media day.  The good feelings would disappear during a disastrous game versus Illinois.
#4
The Wolverine drill.  One of the few times where media gets to see players go all out against each other.
#5
RB Michael Cox showed that he has the speed to be force for the Wolverines next season.
#6
Players rehabbing from injuries.  They insisted on having the photo taken,

$$PAGE$$

#7

The Wolverines take the field undet the coveted M Club banner.  Some traditions never change.

#8
Brandon Graham was a beast on defense.
#9
Craig Roh was a pleasant surprise on defense.  Just a little bit of holding…
#10
When Denard Robinson was in the game there was always the potential for an electryfying run.  Whenever he broke free it would cause complete mayhem for opposing defenses.
#11
Freshman QB Tate Forcier was a force of nature during the Wolverines’ 4-0 start.
#12
The Wolverines last second victory and endzone celebration.  Photo taken with an iPhone.

$$PAGE$$

#13
DB Donavan Warren seals the victory over Indiana with a great interception.
#14
The Wolverines put a gang tackle on the Eagles.  We didn’t see enough of this…
#15
RB Brandon Minor was a beast when healthy…
#16
The only way for teams to contain Brandon Graham was to double team him…and hold.
#17
RB Brandon Minor bulls through the Penn State defense.
#18
Next season the renovation of Michigan Stadion will be complete and the press box will be history…

Michigan Football 2009: Forcier, Stonum, Mathews, and Minor-M 38 ND 34

By Andy Andersen

In what was one of the most exciting games in the modern Wolverine/Irish football series, Forcier, Stonum, Mathews and Minor played major roles in a 38-34 victory. Michigan finally prevailed at least partly and maybe mostly due to the outstanding performances of the quartet mentioned in the title above.  Other games in the series have been close and featured outstanding performances, but this one was exciting alpha to omega, featuring two outstandingly productive offenses, and defenses with just enough stops at critical junctures to keep it close, to keep it interesting, to keep it winnable.

It is hard to say the Wolverine defense was outstanding, although at the end of the game they stopped ND enough to enable victory before and after the Tate/Mathews pass/catch that put the Wolverines up for good. An outstanding Stevie Brown hit put the ball on the turf, and when recovered, gave M?s offense good field position to begin one scoring drive.  The defense played hard and never quit, but yielding a total of 590 yards meant it had some problems.

Even so, the eighteenth ranked Irish are a talented, and experienced team.  Their  improving QB Jimmy Clausen and outstanding receivers had M’s CBs for lunch, racking up 336-yards passing, and 3 TDs, but M?s CBs had enough break ups to win.  With an effort and production like ND?s, one wouldn?t expect to lose.  ND receivers Floyd and Tate are extraordinary.  Their lines are huge. Notre Dame rushed for 154-yards missing Aldridge, their best back.  But all that turned out to be a losing combination, as the Wolverines were capable of putting on an offensive show of their own.

09-02umnd-077

Tate Forcier and the offense countered with outstanding poise and ability in only his second game wearing the winged helmet. He was 23 of 33 for 240 yards and 2 TDs, and rushed 13 times for 70-yards, and a 31-yard dash up the middle for a TD to kept the Wolverines in the game on fourth and three.  He made some mistakes, but always recovered (even after an untimely drive killing fumble and an interception), and played with more poise than can be realistically expected of a skinny freshman.  He simply produced all that was needed to defeat a talented Notre Dame contingent when it was needed.  The kid is a winner.  He is going to get nothing but better with experience.

Tate took the majority of the snaps at OQ, but Denard Robinson contributed with a few runs.  He has to throw the ball now and then so they do not crowd him all the time on his runs.  Once they had Denard in the gun and Tate split left but the play failed.  Tate also had a very decent quick kick that did not fail and was very effective. His quick kick traveled 50-yards and gave Michigan critically needed field position.

09-02umnd-051

Darryl Stonum ran a kick off back 94-yards for a TD in the first quarter, and  he collared Tate?s pooch punt at about the ND 3-yard line.  I had no idea he was that fast.  The run back gave the Blue a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, and ratcheted up the crowd enthusiasm to deafening peaks.  He also had several key catches, left the game dinged, but not before he had caught 4 for 54-yards.

Greg Matthews did not gain much yardage corralling many punts, but dropped none, and had an outstanding leaping pass reception.  He collared 5 passes for 68-yards and caught one TD, with a long reception of 40-yards.  He managed the winning TD with seconds left on a 5-yard Forcier pass.  I remember about 11 seconds on the clock when the play ended, later that was reduced to 9 seconds as ND took the subsequent snap.

At a critical juncture, a wide open Greg did not look for a Tate pass when he was in route, but appeared to be looking to block. The interception happened at a critical junction, ending a drive late in the game. Fortunately for both Greg and us, he snagged the game winner later.  Vindicated!

That Brandon Minor is Michigan’s most effective running back when healthy was demonstrated Saturday.  He had 16 carries for 106-yards, a TD with a run of 32-yards.

They would not have won without his runs.

While the above players made the most visible contributions to whacking ND, this is still a team sport, and the rest of the team presented great effort, too, did not fall apart under pressure, and also showed great team unity.

THE SCORING:

1st quarter:

Brandon Minor opened the scoring on a two yard run, after  a 79-yard drive featuring a 40-yard Mathews reception.  Olesnavage hit all the afternoon?s EPs and it was M 7, ND 0.

ND answered with a FG.  M 7, ND 3 and it seemed Michigan was going to prevail easily.
After all ND’s opening game drive, while impressive had stalled, and they missed that FG.  Now ND could only respond with a made FG, and Darryl Stonum rocketed up the middle for 94 yards.  Old mo was ours.  Hey, this was fun.  M 14, ND 3.

2nd quarter

ND began to move the ball at will, dominated the statistics, and soon registered  2 TDs to take a 17 to 14 lead.  It seemed they would prevail. There were dominating offensively and would not be stopped.   They then hit a FG to make it ND 20 M 14, and it was looking like last year was coming back.

M finished the scoring for the half, on as Olesnavage hit a FG for 39-yards.  The half ended M 17, ND 20.

Many felt we would see just how good Rodriguez was in answering the  question as to whether they could adjust at the half and hang in there?  Or, overwhelmed, would they quit.

3rd quarter

And indeed they did hang in there, producing a nice drive but failing to score, fumbling, stalling and missing on an Olesnavage FG attempt once again.
Jonas Mouton recovered a fumble caused by Stevie Brown and M’s offense was quickly in business again.  Tate produced a 5 play, 26-yard drive and a TD on a three-yard pass to Koger.  M 24, ND 20.

4th quarter

Tate Forcier expanded M’s lead to 11 again on a 31-yard run up the middle to cap a 6-play, 64-yard drive.  A beautiful run, and the crowd went nuts. M 31, ND 20.

The euphoria didn?t last long as ND produced a pair of scoring dives, with ND hitting a pass, (the 2-point conversion failed) and then scored a TD on a run (two point conversion good).  Now it is getting more desperate all the time.  No more lead.  And it was getting  late in the game with M 31, ND 34.

But no nerves Forcier went to work as this team produced a stunning victory against a ranked opponent, marching on a nine play 58-yard TD drive that was outstanding in its effectiveness.  Tate?s 5-yard completion to Greg Mathews for what proved to be the winning score brought a joyous pandemonium to the crowd the likes of which has seldom been seen.  M 38, ND 34.

09-02umnd-070

ND used up the 9 seconds remaining and M had prevailed.  The pass to Mathews was preceeded by an 18-yard strike to LaTerryal Savoy that put them on the 5.  Another vindication as Savoy earlier in the drive has one bounce of his chest in the end zone.

This was an outstanding victory over an experienced and talented ND team with a great passing game.  The scene in the old stadium was electric and loud all game, the weather beautiful, Michigan well coached (I’ll leave the dissection of Charlie to the Golden Domers), and the weather perfect.  What more could you expect for your 65 dollars?  This game has to be among the top M/ND games ever played for continuous excitement
Although I talk to some, mainly old-timers, that don’t like the stadium renovations they have improved the beauty and comfort of the venue.  May I say again that it is LOUDER!

It is beginning to seem that Michigan is developing well and may end up being a force in the Big Ten by the end of the season, if things fall their way.  But before that we have Eastern Michigan.  Can you appreciate how badly Coach English wants to down the Wolverines?  They played well against Northwestern.  Toledo and Appalachian State taught there is no such thing as a gimmee.  One more win will match last year?s total wins.

The one Notre Dame fan I talked to after the game said he was from Pittsburg, and blasted Rich Rodriguez, saying he wouldn?t work out at Michigan.  I reminded him that it seemed today that he was working out very well indeed.  End of conversation.

Do you think Michigan State fans woke up today with a Chip on their shoulder?   And how many Bucks got a headache that won?t quit this morning?  Ah, the pleasures of schadenfreude.

This was a great weekend of Michigan Football!

Go Blue!