Sun & Bluesday: Kelly Green

By Johnny Ginter on September 10, 2013 at 11:15a
51 Comments
Devin Gardner came up big for Michigan against Notre Dame (Photo: MGoBlog)

The Notre Dame/Michigan rivalry has given us a litany of exciting, dramatic, and straight up hilarious moments throughout the 2000s, and personally I'm sad to see it go. Its death is a result of Notre Dame grumpily kind of choosing a conference, which means I guess we can all look forward to Catholic convicts versus secular convicts on a regular basis from now on.

I will admit that I was unabashedly rooting for Michigan in this one, and frankly expected them to pull it out against an Irish team that I feel is headed for an 8-5 season.

Two things went into my support for the Wolverines in this one: first, I'm not one of those people who want to see an 0-11 UM team every year. Aside from making the rivalry horrifically boring, it'd become devoid of all meaning. I mean, we've dealt with some super lame ass OSU/UM games before, but at least it meant something.

Second, this is one instance where Michigan is easily the lesser of two evils. Without even getting into the incredibly disgusting and sad details of the Lizzy Seeberg case, Brian Kelly also got a kid killed because he was too cool to make the decision that Tressel did in a heartbeat.

So, you know. Screw those guys. I'm glad Michigan stomped all over 'em. Let's talk to Ace from MGoBlog about it.

Quarter 1

Michigan looked dominant initially, exploiting some really bad zone defense and racing to a 10-0 lead. Gardner was crafty and I assume had some decent numbers which I would relay to you but ESPN's Gamecast decided to just completely crap all over itself. Notre Dame wasn't getting anything done on the ground against the Michigan d-line, as Frank Clark invaded the Irish backfield (their "home," if you will).

Then Brian Kelly realized that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and started attacking the Michigan corners en route to Rees completing a pass that was apparently ordained by God to be a touchdown. 10-7 Wolverines at the end of the quarter.

Johnny: That zone defense, man. She giveth, and she taketh away.

Ace: Notre Dame's zone defense certainly gaveth, that's for sure. The middle of their defense is a disaster without Manti Te'o and Michigan took advantage. On the other side of the ball, I'm not sure why Notre Dame didn't go to the run a lot more often, actually;  the Irish pretty much had their way with runs up the middle, but they only gave the ball to their backs 18 times all game. I feel confident in saying that Al Borges put together a better offensive gameplan than Brian Kelly, and that's not something I ever expected to see; this was probably Borges's best game as Michigan's OC.

u_mad.gifDeal with it, Captain Little Man Syndrome (MGoBlog Photo)

Quarter 2

Notre Dame quickly came back with a field goal, but Michigan again marched downfield for a touchdown. Neither team seemed interested in defending the edges of the field, until Tommy Rees evolved into his final form, that of a QB who throws untimely INTs that lead directly to opponent touchdowns. 27-13 bad guys over also bad guys.

Johnny: Welp, how does it feel to know exactly how Rees was gonna turn out on Saturday?

Ace: Rees has developed into a pretty impressive passer, especially when he sees a blitz coming, so Michigan's gameplan was to rush four, play zones that wouldn't let Notre Dame's big play guys get over the top, and wait for Rees to Rees it. I pointed this out early on in the game and my mentions were blowing up with frustrated Michigan fans wondering why Mattison wouldn't turn up the heat—and then Rees finally did what he does, failing to see Blake Countess in an underneath zone and throwing it right to him. Bless you, Tommy Rees.

Johnny: What's funny is this was more or less the Jim Heacock philosophy for years and years as far as passing defense goes, and Ohio State fans are still PO'ed about it (despite, you know, producing some of the best defenses of the 2000s). DAMN YOU NICKEELLLLL!!

Quarter 3

I blacked out after this happened. Notre Dame scored. Then Michigan did. 34-20.

Johnny: Is Devin Gardner actually a future Jeremy Gallon that traveled back in time to play football with his past self?

Ace: As far as I can tell, they share a brain, so that seems as viable a theory as any—I guess future Gallon hits a very late growth spurt. It was remarkable to watch the connection between those two. Gardner sometimes gets himself in trouble by locking onto Gallon; it's pretty hard to blame him for doing so when Gallon catches everything thrown his way, especially since no other outside receiver has proven to be a threat at anything besides downfield blocking.

Johnny: The B1G has a decent amount of marquee corners, isn't it just a matter of time before Gallon hits a wall against a team set up to defend against him?

Ace: It's certainly possible if he doesn't start getting more help; I'm sure you noticed that he came up a little gimpy in the fourth, though he fought through that to draw a critical pass interference call. Devin Funchess hasn't produced as expected and the other outside receivers haven't emerged at all; the other starter, Jehu Chesson, hasn't been targeted through two games. That has to change or opponents are going to roll their coverage over Gallon and dare Gardner to throw elsewhere.

Quarter 4

Everything seemed to be cruising toward a relatively easy Michigan win, when Gardner became the agent of chaos that we all know and love. Instead of taking a sack that would've resulted in a safety, Gardner hucked a ball up for grabs and it gently settled into the arms of a Notre Dame defender for an Irish TD.

The Irish added a field goal, and with roughly five minutes left, Gardner threw another INT but was bailed out by a questionable interference call. This led to a backbreaker touchdown to Drew Dileo (after another questionable interference call), and Tommy Rees Tommy Rees'd at the end of the game. Final: 41-30 Michigan.

Johnny: This will probably get lost in all the Gardner talk, but the offensive line play was definitely key in this win.

Drew Dileo iced the game on this score with a little over four minutes remaining.
Dileo ices it (MGoBlog Photo).

Ace: I'm not sure I'd say that. Gardner spent plenty of time trying to escape pressure and the line couldn't open up much in the running game. I actually thought Fitz Toussaint had a very good game, the problem was he rarely had a hole to run through; there's a reason Michigan only gave two carries to other backs. Luckily, Michigan won't face a defensive line that good again unless they somehow find a way into the national title game. This game exposed the line as just okay; the tackles are great in pass protection but they're a little small and inexperienced on the interior—I think Michigan won't be able to rely as much as they'd like on the interior line in either the run or pass game.

Johnny: Okay, you're gonna hate this, but I keep getting flashbacks to how Penn State fans defended Evan Royster when you talk about Fitz. I just feel like the dude had an amazing half season in 2011 and it's been diminishing returns ever since then. His leg exploding into confetti probably didn't help matters either.

Ace: Man, I do hate that; I also understand the sentiment. Last year was such a lost year even before Ftiz's leg exploded—it's tough to overstate how awful the run-blocking was—that it's really tough to tell how much of 2011 was real and how much was Denard opening things up for him. He's had a run in each game that's been NFL-quality, set up blocks and then explode stuff—he doesn't look like he's lost a step; he's also missed some openings and the stats aren't pretty. I believe he's been better than the numbers indicate. I'm also unsure if Michigan has viable other options with Derrick Green looking like he ate himself out of a very real chance to start, so I may just be trying to talk myself into that belief due to lack of palatable alternatives.

Overview

Johnny: This is undeniably a great win for Michigan, but some amazing individual performances will mask some underlying problems with what they put on the field. Gardner, for instance, looked brilliant at times, passing for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns and leading all rushers for the game. On the other hand he also made some really terrible decisions that could've cost his team dearly.

Jeremy Gallon was also terrific, with three touchdown catches and 184 receiving yards overall but no other Michigan WR had more than 20 yards receiving or a catch of longer than 10 yards. Toussaint did have a 31 yard reception but his 3.2 yards per carry average won't impress many. Aside from Gardner, Michigan had almost no real threat in the rushing game.

With that said, despite giving up 23 points the defense continued to look solid, especially the defensive line. Tommy Rees was able to exploit a soft zone by throwing to the sidelines (and the middle of the field), but his 314 yards came on 51 attempts. Overall Michigan looked good on Saturday and though they have some holes in their offense, right now Gardner, warts and all, is more than enough to make up for them.

Ace: I'll take Devin Gardner gifting a very good opponent one touchdown (as horribly painful as that was to experience live) if he's going to average nearly nine yards per attempt—and that figure is deflated because two jet sweeps in which he pitched the ball forward were counted as passes, and those didn't get very far—and rush for 90 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries when Notre Dame's lone sack is removed. Like you said, he masks a lot of the offense's warts, especially in the run game—the zone read from the pistol was Michigan's most effective run play on Saturday, and his ability to escape the pocket and improvise usually results in good gains. His habit of completely losing his mind for a play or two each game may cost this team a win at some point; the positives still far outweigh the negatives. If he can eliminate those mistakes—a big if, obviously—he's the best possible quarterback for what Borges wants to do with this offense with his ability to throw accurate deep passes and improvise when necessary.

As for the defense, I'm concerned that the line didn't look good against the run and couldn't generate a sack until Notre Dame's last drive, when they were able to pin their ears back knowing the Irish wouldn't run. Michigan still has an uncanny ability to keep opponents from getting big plays, another Mattison staple, and that's allowed them to field very good statistical defenses the last two years despite lacking any semblance of a pass rush. I'm hoping Jake Ryan changes that when he returns in October, and luckily Michigan has a pretty easy upcoming stretch to work out a lot of the kinks.

51 Comments

Comments

DJ Byrnes's picture

1) That's a pretty cool picture of Gardner up top. 2) I agree with the sentiments about Notre Dame. I was openly cheering for Michigan to put a mudhole in their ass. 3) I hope Brandon buys out Michigan's trip to South Bend next year. 

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

DJ Byrnes's picture

Oh and 4) How can you deny the people a GIF of the highlight of the game?

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

LeftCoastBuck's picture

Man, I could watch this one all day...must have learned it from Denard

"To crush the Wolverines, to see them driven from their stadium, and to hear the lamentation of their fans" Conan the Barbarian (paraphrased) on "what is best in life."

sfgoody's picture

On the other hand I opened up the site, saw that pic and started freaking out thinking little blue had taken over 11W!!  haha

sfgoods

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I was openly cheering for Michigan to put a mudhole in their ass.

I thought we were cheering for an asteroid.
Even feeling the way I do about Notre Dame couldn't make me cheer for M*chigan.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Haybucks's picture

What's the Dileo?  This guy has played for scUM for decades under other pseudonyms. I'm more concerned about him than 128 ounces or the landscaper.  We'll have to stop this Highlander come November.

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

M Man's picture

Exactly.
Some of Drew Dileo's other names in the past: Jack Clancy; Dick Wakefield; John Kolesar; Blair White; Justin Abdelkader; Dane Sanzenbacher.  Drew Dileo is 66 years old and has scored 1,185 touchdowns in the Big Ten, under all of his aliases.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

John Kolesar should be sent to prison and fed bread & water.

M Man's picture

I get such joy out of hearing that.  Westlake, Ohio's finest.

BTBuckeye's picture

Michigan State may be their little brother...but we're their boss!!!!

hit_the_couch's picture

Not sold on um right now. Pitt looked pretty good against ND too.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

FitzBuck's picture

"Won't face another elite d line the rest of the year unless they play in the national title game".....there is so much wrong with this statement I don't know where to begin.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Jack Fu's picture

How so? I don't remember where Phil Steele had them in his unit rankings, but Nix and Tuitt and two of the best defensive linemen in the country. CFN has Nix as the 4th-best DT in the nation and Tuitt the 2nd-best DE. Their D-line is legit.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Based on last season, ND has an elite DL on paper (as JackFu reminds us) and maybe even an elite DL on the field.
So far, though, ND's defense overall doesn't seem to be playing like it's benefiting from an elite DL. Against Temple, ND gave up 25 FDs and a respectable 134 yds rushing (4.6 yds/carry). Against Michigan's rebuilt OL (which is anchored inside by the big but clumsy "there will be blood on the field" Kyle Kallis), they gave another 25 FDs and 4.3 yds/carry (see any patterns here?). In those two games combined, ND's defense - thanks to its elite DL - has managed 2.0 total sacks. 
Maybe Michigan won't play any (other) elite DLs until the Outback Bowl, but I suspect they'll have their hands full @PSU, @MSU, @NW, and against Ohio State.

njclebuckeye5's picture

I agree with Johnny that I prefer beating a good to great scUM team. Adds value and excitement.  Plus, I'd rather see the smug smile wiped off their faces than see ttun come into the game half-defeated already. 
That Eminem interview was pure gold.

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

fanatibuck's picture

I don't get it. Are you guys truly Buckeye fans? Woody must be turning in his grave!

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

njclebuckeye5's picture

I don't root for ttun, or get any enjoyment seeing them "win a game for the big ten" or anything. I'd just rather have the best rivalry in sports and the last game of the regular season be an event. I understand the other viewpoint, but I just couldn't enjoy The Game as much if scUM came in 0-11(realistically 7-4 or 6-6) every year. I would LOVE watching their season unfold like that, but then I couldn't get up for our matchup as much. I hated the Lloyd Carr teams more than the Rich Rod teams. I guess I just enjoy having games like '06 sometimes. 

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

Poison nuts's picture

I won't dare speak for Woody, but I imagine he gained more pleasure from beating a UM team with something to lose than a deflated team playing for the sake of playing. I also do get that regardless of the records, it always means something to both teams.
My take on the rivalry is the same as Johnny's & I've come to realize that line of thought is the minority here, but it is frustrating when fellow fans take that thinking as being sub-par Buckeye fans. I consider myself a huge OSU fan, probably a little too into it...My wish to see OSU beat a good UM team doesn't mean I don't love Ohio State football - it just means I like it when there is more riding on The Game & a win for OSU deflates them more completely.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

CowCat's picture

Of course we love beating them no matter what.  It's just that much sweeter when we can crush their delusions of grandeur.  That's what they did to us under Cooper. 

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

LeftCoastBuck's picture

As a Catholic, and the father of two girls, I think that the Notre Dame response to the Lizzy Seeburg case was absolutely reprehensible. I will never be able to respect the administration and coaching staff of that school ever again.
As far as the scUM/ND game went...well, I didn't walk away impressed by the performance of either team. I thought ND lost the game more that scUM won it because of bad tackling, poor communication and the simple fact that Rees is nowhere near as good a QB as Gholston. 
So let the scUMmers start patting themselves on the back. ND wasn't the team they were last year which wasn't really that good either

"To crush the Wolverines, to see them driven from their stadium, and to hear the lamentation of their fans" Conan the Barbarian (paraphrased) on "what is best in life."

fanatibuck's picture

Can I have an AMEN!!!

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

Earle's picture

I cannot root for Michigan.  My head may tell me that it is best for them to be undefeated coming into The Game, but put me in front of a TV with UM playing, and my second favorite team instantly becomes whoever their opponent is.  Mine is a visceral hate that transcends any intellectual assent to the fact that a "good" Michigan is good for the rivalry and good for Ohio State.

Italics are for emphasis.

73buckeye's picture

Here's an up vote for you sir. Couldn't have said it better myself.

ernie

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I'm with you Earle.  I was all prepared to root for TTUN to win Saturday but the emotional pull for them to lose was so strong I had to abandon my strategy immediately.  It was such an odd situation because I hate ND too.  I sort of wound of rooting for both teams to embarrass themselves - I sort of got what I wanted, but I still didn't feel good about it.

fanatibuck's picture

Thankyou 9-3 Earl. Woody says HALLELUJAH!!!!

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Lately, I can relate to your feelings.
For most of my life, I almost always unabashedly rooted for every Big Ten team in every non-conf game.
More recently, though, if Michigan is not playing an SEC school, and they are ahead on the scoreboard, I find myself rooting for the other team to come back in the game. That happened Saturday.
Now that I think about it, I attribute this shift to a few factors:

  1. I pay much more attention to recruiting now. Not only do I think more about threats to Ohio State's territorial advantages, I knew to dislike Kyle Kallis even before he ever stepped foot on the field for Michigan. In the past, I would have had no idea who this brand new starter Kallis was, so it wouldn't have pissed me off to see his name flash across my t.v. screen.
  2. Allegations of negative recruiting associated with Tatgate.
  3. The national perception that the Big Ten sucks is pretty well established and now I'm sort of at peace with it. Because of all the video-game sports media garbage that came out of eSECpn et al during Tatgate and aftermath, I started tuning out what the talking heads are saying about Ohio State/Big Ten, which frees up my latent Michigan/Wisconsin hate to express itself.
  4. Urbz. If Ohio State goes 25-0, they'll be in the NCG. A bunch of little babies will bitch & moan about it, but it won't make a difference.
ArTbkward's picture

In the age of media outrage- some faux, some not- how did Brian Kelly keep his job after that poor videographer was killed?   I know that isn't what this post is about but seriously?  Gee "retires" after making Catholic jokes yet someone dies and that isn't enough to oust the guy responsible?

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...
(Also, I'm not a dude)

cinserious's picture

I'm of the belief that there is no such thing as a super lame ass OSU/UM game. Even the beatdowns Tressel put on ScUm over and over had alot of meaning to me. It was paybacks for the 90's, it was a chance to get a coach or two fired, it was shutting up Mike Hart's fat mouth, it was getting much closer to catching up to the all time W/L record (in my lifetime).

Life's daily struggle is choosing between saying F--ck-it, or soldiering on with your responsibilities.  

fanatibuck's picture

Now this is the type of Buckeye I love. You restored Woody's spirit in this thread. scUM can fall off the side of a cliff for all I care. Cooper's infamous 2-10-1 record through the 90's is enough to motivate me to wish they go 2-11 every season and that is being kind!

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

pjtobin's picture

Replace jack with our new Australian punter and this gif is golden!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

fanatibuck's picture

I am confused. I thought this was an oasis for Buckeye Nation and not a temporary escape for closet Rodents.

THE URBANATOR AND HIS BOYS' JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN; 26-0 IS COMING BABY!!

GrayDay's picture

Great article, enjoy back and forth with writers who really know their teams (SO much better than national commentators).  As hard as it can be to pull for UM, we and they need each other to be great.  Especially this year.  Not impossible for some other team to go undefeated (like ND last year) and get picked over us against an SEC champion for the title game.  We need UM, Wisky, Northwestern and PSU to be good, and at least one of them to be really good.  UM is getting there.

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I think a rewording is in order such as "While I will never root for or condone rooting for scUM, I hope Notre Dame gets their butts kicked."
Other then that, I agree Notre Dame is looking at an 8-5 year, I never remotely liked them so oh so sad about that.
I am not buying into the whole scUM as the best team in the BIG hype. I think they are perhaps in a three way tie for #2 with Wisky, and the Fitzcats, however I think they have the athletes to be really tough the end of the year. I will say they have as good a shot as anybody to win their division.

cajunbuckeye's picture

If a great Michigan team is good for the Buckeyes, does that mean herpes is good for your sex life?

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Run_Fido_Run's picture

No, I think the idea is that you don't want the other playa's in your local favorite "pick up bar" to have herpes, because that might come back to bite you, too.

elitesmithie's picture

If UM were to go 4-8 there isn't much difference (In National Perception) between our schedule and Louisville. We need them to be good if we intend to go to the title game.

PF_Flyers22's picture

This. 100%. We've won two games and lost a spot in the rankings each week. The teams we beat need to keep wining it we want a shot at that NC.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I was hoping the final score would be 4-2.  Both teams muck it up badly.  Wouldn't even matter which team won, really.

Class of 2010.

Ethos's picture

Jeremy Gallon, meet Bradley Roby.  He will be your baby sitter for the next 60 minutes.  You can just sit down here on this patch of grass, cause there isn't anything coming over here son.

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

LeftCoastBuck's picture

Nice +1
"Fitz Croissant, meet Ryan Shazier. He will be your babysitter for the next 60 minutes as long as you sit on the grass and don't touch the football. If you do, he will put you in the hospital. Your call."

"To crush the Wolverines, to see them driven from their stadium, and to hear the lamentation of their fans" Conan the Barbarian (paraphrased) on "what is best in life."

RBuck's picture

 Luckily, Michigan won't face a defensive line that good again unless they somehow find a way into the national title game.

 
I have to not so respectfully disagree.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

gutterwaste's picture

I'm sure this has been previously addressed, so I apologize in advance, but why was their  quarterback wearing #98?  

LeftCoastBuck's picture

in honor of Tom Harmon, Heisman Trophy winner and scUM diety

"To crush the Wolverines, to see them driven from their stadium, and to hear the lamentation of their fans" Conan the Barbarian (paraphrased) on "what is best in life."

Geraffi's picture

I hate seeing pictures of Michigan players on my beloved 11W. But great job anyway, Johnny. 
I agree, ND is an 8-5 team this year, so I'm not terribly impressed with this win. 
Also, I'm offended by Aces comment that they won't see another D line that good until the NCG. First of all, they will see a better D line when the Buckeyes come in to town, and secondly, they won't be headed to the NCG. 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i will admit that i grinned an evil grin when i read ace's d-line comment. i mean, he's technically correct, but, well, you know...

either way i have no desire to correct or disabuse him of that perception

Alexander DeLarge's picture

The Irish added a field goal, and with roughly five minutes left, Gardner threw another INT but was bailed out by a questionable interference call. This led to a backbreaker touchdown to Drew Dileo (after another questionable interference call)
Is this meant to satirize a biased fan's perspective? I hope so because it reads pretty childishly otherwise.
 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i love that you take exception to that but not the frank clark home invasion joke

pjtobin's picture

Thanks for the recap. I didn't watch the game. I did want SCum to look "good". Just so when we beat them it makes us look better in the polls. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad.