Sun & Bluesday: Maize Blues

By Johnny Ginter on November 12, 2013 at 11:15a
And the stadium went silent (MGoBlog photo)

Michigan's slide down the firepole of sadness continued last Saturday with a brief stop at Huskertown, which added increased sadness and sped up their descent.

It's the same old story with the Wolverines. Their offensive line is terrible, they have absolutely no running game as a result, and though they do feature some competent wideouts, Devin Gardner is usually too busy being sacked or running for his life to actually get them the ball. The defense is competent in fits and starts, but any team with a decent passing offense can pick them apart completely.

Nebraska handed Michigan an incredibly embarrassing 17-13 loss that highlighted all of these problems, and further emphasized the need for change in the coaching staff at the end of the season. It's a bad look, and frankly while I'm not the type of person who wants Michigan to lose every game they play, it's still more than a little funny/absurd to see just how far Michigan has regressed in such a short amount of time.

Anyway, this week I continue to torture Ace from MGoBlog with inane questions about why his team is so bad right now. Enjoy!

Quarter 1

Nebraska jumped out to a 10 point lead on the strength of two short drives that made it seem like Michigan had no chance whatsoever in the game. Also adding to this feeling was the fact that Michigan had -11 rushing yards already at this point, but they were still driving at the end of the quarter on the back of several nicely executed passing plays. 10-0 Huskers.

Johnny: Let's start with the obvious, which is that Michigan has negative 69 yards of rushing in the past two weeks. I feel like there's only so many ways that I can ask you about the offensive line being bad, but does Borges have to try something radical here like dumping the rushing philosophy wholesale?

Ace: Part of the problem, I believe, is that Borges keeps changing rushing philosophies, not to mention personnel. First it was full-blown POWER MANBALL, then they tried becoming a zone stretch team, then they started incorporating the inverted veer, and now I honestly have no clue what their base run play is supposed to be. So if by "dumping the rushing philosophy" you mean "never running the ball again in 2013"—well, I'd be in support of this. (Devin Gardner's ribs may protest, however.)

Quarter 2

Things not so happy in Ann Arborland.Hot seat?

Of course, the problem with passing the ball over and over is that eventually you have to run it, and this is not Michigan's forte. Still, they got the field goal, which was about as much action as either team could pull off before the end of the half. 10-3 Huskers.

Johnny: Nebraska isn't exactly an offensive powerhouse, but I was impressed with Michigan's ability to hold it together for the most part on defense until the 4th quarter at least. The offense is putting a ton of pressure on those guys.

Ace: That's really been the story of the season for the defense; they're not a lights-out group but they're consistently keeping the team in games in which, at least based on the offense, they really have no business being competitive. For reasons that haven't really been explained properly, Michigan started two new safeties this week, and despite the fact that they were a downgrade compared to Gordon/Wilson the Huskers couldn't really take advantage of it outside of a couple plays.

There's been a fair amount of individual development on that side of the ball (in stark contrast to the offense); the freshmen defensive backs have been decent and are clearly improving, linemen like Willie Henry and Frank Clark have really come along in the past few games, and the front seven as a whole has been quite good—they're even generating a little pressure. There are Michigan fans complaining about Greg Mattison; these people shouldn't be allowed to comment on sports, First Amendment be damned.

Quarter 3

The second half started with a Michigan drive that showed they had fixed all of their problems on offense, forever, as they marched down the field and scored a touchdown to tie the game. Then Gardner was sacked twice on the next Michigan drive and disabused anyone of that idea. Still, it kind of looked like Michigan might just pull this thing off as Nebraska refused to get anything going offensively (the fumble didn't help). 10-10 tie.

Johnny: Honestly I think it's kind of remarkable that Michigan can still sometimes field a functional offense even when their running game is as bad as it is. On the first drive of the second half, all four rushing plays got a total of -2 yards, but you still got the TD.

Ace: Yes, and semi-infuriatingly, it was because the passing plays called by Borges on that drive were really well-designed and well-timed. He got Toussaint into lots of space with a slip screen for a big gain, called a little pop-pass to Jake Butt that perfectly countered a heavy blitz, and the touchdown came on a flat-curl-corner route combination that got Funchess wide open, which takes some doing, especially in the red zone. Of course, we didn't see stuff like this again for the rest of the game, because Al Borges. (He called two screens all game, IIRC, and both were wildly successful. Meanwhile, the one-back play-action get-Devin-murdered play is still a staple of the gameplan. The term "AAAAARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH" comes to mind.)

Quarter 4

Michigan took the lead on a 40 yard Gibbons field goal, which if you think about it was really kind of cruel, seeing as how it set up a game winning Nebraska touchdown drive. Said touchdown drive ate up six minutes of clock with eight minutes left in the game, and Michigan's two minute drill is surprisingly not as good as you might think.  17-13 Huskers.

Johnny: That final Nebraska drive was about the most inevitable thing to have ever happened ever. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years.

Ace: I was promised happiness in addition to tears and would like to talk to a manager, please.


Johnny: Michigan is now officially "bad." It's weird, you make jokes about a team being the worst good squad in the country and the like, but usually that's fairly tongue in cheek and said team goes on to rebound as the weeks go on. Instead, Michigan has gotten exponentially worse (especially on offense) in the past several weeks, and it isn't any less baffling than it was last week.

I wrote on Twitter to Ace that Minnesota is legitimately a better team now than Michigan is, despite Michigan being the living tar out of the Gophers just over a month ago. That unironic statement is now more or less fact, and makes me yearn for a universe that is calm and orderly instead of whatever fresh hell we live in that makes us question every single thing from week to week.

Oh well. Northwestern is up next for the Wolverines, and even though two trainwrecks should make for interesting football knowing my luck it will end up 13-5 with both teams playing for field position the entirety of the second half.

Ace: Not only am I unable to argue your point about Minnesota, but I found out that Northwestern is favored by 2.5 points and wasn't remotely surprised. Yes, that Northwestern, the one with as many Big Ten wins this year as Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.

If this isn't rock bottom, I'm really afraid to look down. While I'm not even close to being on the "FIRE HOKE/EVERYBODY" bandwagon, it's time to consider a serious staff shakeup on the offensive side, and what's most disappointing about all this is that I highly doubt one occurs.

On second thought, rock bottom will be on November 30th when the Big House is 60% Ohio State fans. Ready the "THANK YOU, AL BORGES" banner that I'm sure you guys have already made.


Comments Show All Comments

ATT2121's picture

What a beautiful day. Sun is shining and Michigan still sucks!


"It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it's close."
Jesse Owens

JLBNYC's picture

On second thought, rock bottom will be on November 30th when the Big House is 60% Ohio State fans. Ready the "THANK YOU, AL BORGES" banner that I'm sure you guys have already made.

Bank on that one!

Doc's picture

What really needs to make an appearance is the poster of Lewan complaining of his Shitigain Failures.  That would be priceless, and funny.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

fear_the_nut70's picture

I already have tickets and can't wait.  I was there two years ago and can't get the image of them storming the field to beat what would eventually be a 6-7 OSU team.  I can't wait to get that taste out of my mouth. 

MassiveAttack's picture

Somehow I never heard about this.  They seriously stormed the field after beating a 6 and 5 team (at the time)?  I guess getting 1 out of 10 is reason to celebrate!  Cue the copy/paste of the _ichigan all-time records.

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

fear_the_nut70's picture

Yeah they did.  And if memory serves me correctly, there was something on the scoreboard to the effect of: Number of days since OSU last beat the Wolverines...0.  This is another example of nerd trash talk (e.g. calling us Ohio) in that they obviously didn't appreciate the difference in the programs that stat carefully documented.

GoBlue91's picture

Oh, it's always reason to celebrate - I'm sure there will be Buckeyes who will be glad about beating 6 and 5 Michigan, if (when?) we end up there.
To be fair, the advantage in the Game had flipped before, and back then, it felt like the advantage was flipping again.  
A few years later, it's pretty apparent that Meyer is a better coach and recruiter than Tressel, you guys are on track to being a pretty regular top ten team, and the best we can really hope for with Hoke is that he'll make some end of year adjustments.   I haven't given up hope of things improving over the next few years, but it's an awful long shot at this point.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I'm not sure Hoke gets a "few more years" to improve things. 

fear_the_nut70's picture

GoBlue, thanks for a pretty honest (and probably painful) post.  Sometimes it's hard to be objective when it comes to a team you care that much for.
As for beating a 6-5 UM team, not to sound disrespectful, but for many Buckeye fans the satisfaction will mostly come from finishing an undefeated season (if that happens, not counting anything yet) and locking up an invitation to the BCS title game (or another Rose Bowl invitation).  Sorry, just being honest.

Seattle Linga's picture

A National radio honk said in 2011 that if ttun doesn't beat tOSU in 2011 it may be a long time before they do, i think primarily b/c he knew UFM was on his way. That comment alone is proving to be right so far. Keep the train rolling Urban

razrback16's picture

Yep. They had a ridiculous over-the-top celebration on the field after the game. Denard was out there throwing an "imaginary grenade"  that everyone "fell down" for afterward while players were trying to shake  hands and show sportsmanship. Zach Boren told the media afterward that he lost a lot of respect for Michigan due to the way they acted after that game. They had lost 7 in a row and finally got a win (barely) over the worst Ohio State team since 1897 that had to have had the most incompetent coaching staff I've ever seen here at the time. It was very embarrassing for Michigan. Can you guys imagine if we'd rushed the field in 2008 after beating Michigan's 3-9 team (the worst in Michigan history?)? Crazy.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

it almost isn't fun to gloat when aacc is this bad. urbs & co might hand meatchicken their worst loss ever at the big house in a few short weeks!!! lol

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

IBleedSandG's picture

Per wikipedia, ttun's worst home loss ever was a 40-0 loss to Minnesota in 1935. I'm pretty confident we can drop 40 on them, but a shutout would be tough.


stcburn's picture

Loving every minute of it!

WC Buckeye's picture

My heart is warmed by the sun, and the Wolverine tears are delicious.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

dlb72osu's picture

And there are 4 and 5 star recruits that just can't wait to get into this monkey house. What kind of kool-ade is the Big Donut 'Hand'ing out?
Please check your potential at the door, guys.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

- Invictus

Ralph Waldo Enarson's picture

Uh, opportunities for playing time I guess? Honestly, I have no idea.

Doc's picture

I am firmly in the camp of wanting AACC to lose every single game.  This is some of the most fun a human being can have.  I'm hoping Urban and co. melt their side of the scoreboard in A2.  Thanks for the lulz on Tuesdays Johnny.  Keep 'em coming.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

doodah_man's picture

The Freshman - Clark Kellogg (Matthew Broderick) : [narrating] There's a kind of freedom in being completely screwed... because you know things can't get any worse.
OH....but they can...

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

fear_the_nut70's picture

Michigan is trying to stick it to an undefeated Ohio State team just like they used to do.  Of course, back in the day their strategy was a bit different--field a good team and actually beat us on the football field.

BucksfanXC's picture

I hate years where they suck. It's lose-lose. They either beat us and crush our season and say, "Season saved since we beat Ohio" or we beat them and it's a hollow victory cuz they say, "Congrats, you just beat the worst UofM team since, well I guess 2008"

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Rockhbuck's picture

Nice read. In the stadium and throughout most of life, I f'ing hate them. Hate everything about them.
BUT, I do like when we have guests come and interview with the 11W staff, even TSUN guys. Thanks to Ace for coming over to talk football. 

geoffrsc's picture

Michigan's slide down the firepole of sadness


MassiveAttack's picture

Great quote!
I've given a few dozen single mothers gratuity for doing that on stage. lol

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Ace is pretty cool for taking time to comment each week, especially when scUM sucks like a "Tim the Toolman" retro-fit vacuum cleaner.
The implosion is awesome! Thank you, Flounder...

danmas's picture

Ace was hilarious today.  -- Mr. Schadenfreude

raki's picture

I hope we put 100 on them.... what a day that would be.

Buckeye1004's picture

Life is Good!   More Buckeye fans then ttun fans in the big house???   Is that possible?  I sure would like to see that! 
Go Buckeyes!

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Agreed that Ace definitely is a good sport.  Hopefully in the seasons to come Johnny won't ever have to return the favor, with Urban at the helm I think not.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

IBleedSandG's picture

On second thought, rock bottom will be on November 30th when the Big House is 60% Ohio State fans. Ready the "THANK YOU, AL BORGES" banner that I'm sure you guys have already made.

^Classic. Good stuff, guys.


Arizona_Buckeye's picture

What I'd LOVE to see in AA on Nov. 30th along with the 60% plus Scarlet and Gray colored stadium:  A big ass poster of Kyle Kalis riding the bench with a 'How is TSUN working out for you now?!?!?!' meme!
I would absolutely fall off my barstool!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

fear_the_nut70's picture

What I'd LOVE to see in AA on Nov. 30th along with the 60% plus Scarlet and Gray colored stadium:  A big ass poster of Kyle  Kylie Kalis riding the bench with a 'How is TSUN working out for you now?!?!?!' meme!
I corrected it for you.  You are welcome.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The correct spelling of this traitor's name is inconsequential but thanks for the effort!  At least I got his last name correct!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

fear_the_nut70's picture

All jokes aside, could you imagine how the kid's career trajectory (and life) might have changed if Ed Warriner was his position coach?  Instead he rides the pines despite playing for a school with arguably the worst OL in CFB AND in the eyes of many in his home state will always be seen as a traitor.  And of course, there is the matter of he could have been playing for a team that has won their last 21 straight instead of a program that is becoming a national punchline. Obviously he would never publicly admit this, but this has to be a decision he regrets each morning when he rolls out of bed.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Absolutely!!!  I'm sure it will REALLY hit home on Nov. 30th when his class has a record of 0 - 2 against OSU!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

HA! Be careful. If you do that, Kalis might challenge you to a fight.
Funny that he doesn't seem to display much of that fighting spirit on the field.  

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

HA - the only blood on the field is from the splinters in his ass riding the bench and Lewan's head from getting stepped on by defenders on their way to crushing Devon!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

zbd's picture

Another reader giving props for reading about the m team and Brady Choke having a bad season.  Wonderful.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

This season's "The Game" could be a perfect storm for TTUN.  However, I am Mr. Old School and I know it sounds like a cliche, but often you can throw out the stats (W - L record, talent disparity) for this game.  Three more regular season games to go, hopefully an exciting ride for all of us fans going into the B1G Championship and beyond.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Ethos's picture

too early for thank you posters yet Ace.  If we win this year, then next year, if Hoke is still around, and we are winning, you'll see it.  I would bet on it.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

fear_the_nut70's picture

Now that's some good comedy.

IBleedSandG's picture

At least the drunk guy was honest. If my team's offense was as putrid as ttun, I'd be getting hammered as well.


harleymanjax's picture

Meanwhile, the one-back play-action get-Devin-murdered play is still a staple of the gameplan. The term "AAAAARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH" comes to mind.)


"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Seattle Linga's picture

Thanks for posting Harley

Johnny Ginter's picture

really want to thank ace for continuing to do this, writing hundreds of words for a rival team's site about how your team keeps blowing it can't be that fun to do, but the dude is all class and a pro.

also those wanting a reciprocal post from me on mgoblog miiigggghhhttt get their wish in a few weeks

Hovenaut's picture

Worlds colliding......M Go look out!

MN Buckeye's picture

Good stuff, Johnny! Ace has been great this year, and I appreciate respectful and honest banter between two rival team writers.