Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sugar Bowl Post Game

Do you remember that feeling in school when you left a test and thought you just aced it and found out the next day you got like a C?  Or just the opposite, you left feeling like you did terrible and actually got a good grade?  I had that feeling watching the Sugar Bowl in the Super Dome on Tuesday night. 

At first, I didn't think anything was going to go right for the Wolverines:
  • The best center in the nation is not on the field for the first series and had hurt his ankle/foot during warm ups.
  • Va Tech's 3rd/4th string kicker is making everything he looks at and resembles a NFL kicker.
  • The Michigan defense can't get off the field on 3rd and long (can someone explain to me how Michigan plays better on 3rd and 2 then 3rd and 22?)
  • Junior Hemingway quits on a deep pass from Denard which causes an interception
  • We can't seem to move the ball on the ground against this fast defense that was expecting it
  • Hagerup is punting the ball 30 yards inside!
  • Va Tech's punter/WR only has to be a WR
That was pretty much just the first quarter.  All signs pointed to long night for the Wolverines.

Then Denard throws a 50/50 ball up to #21 and he caught it and took a stroll into the end zone.   The Hokies then fumbled the kick off and we have a ball game. 

I am not going to re-cap what happened because I am pretty sure every Michigan fan on the planet watched the game.  So here are my first Cheers and Jeers for the new year.

  • The Michigan fan base for supporting the Wolverines in New Orleans.  What a great showing and support during the game.
  • Ryan Van Burgen and David Molk for playing hurt in their final game in the winged helmets.
  • Junior Hemingway for making some nice grabs and keeping us in the game.
  • The Michigan defense for only letting in one touchdown
  • Team 132 for never quiting on the team or during this game
  • Brandon Gibbons who a year ago couldn't kick the ball into the ocean from the beach, was rock solid all game and most of the year.
  • The Seniors - Those that stay will be Champions!  First time Michigan beat OSU and won a bowl game since 2000.
  • Bud Foster took Big Al Borges lunch money and took the rest of his wallet for good measure.  Al couldn't find anything to stop the Hokies pass rush and speed.  (Better get to work on Bama right now)
  • Hokies Speed on Defense:  Michigan's WR's could not get any separation and they were keying on Denard and the run all day. 
  • Denard clearly gets rattled when he is rushed and there are other fast players on the field.   To his credit, I didn't see many if any open routes.  Luckily he had about six 50/50 balls go in Michigan's favor (complete or not picked).
  • 3rd and Long.  Michigan has to have better safety play next year.   Both Woolfolk and Gordon struggled.  Many times the Michigan defense had the routes covered but the safety didn't break on the coverage quick enough. 
  • I have big concerns on the D-line next year.  Michigan didn't pressure the QB like I had hoped, the only time he got into trouble was when he scrambled.  Big Will played ok. 

The Big House Blog Sugar Bowl MVP was:  Jordan Kovas.   It might have been hard to see on TV but Kovas was making touchdown saving tackles all over the field.  Many times he was the last guy between David Wilson and the end zone.  Wilson also hit Kovas pretty hard a number of times.   If it wasn't for the play of Jordan, Michigan might have been down 14 points in the first half.   He registered 6 solo tackles and 11 overall to lead the team.

The turning point in the game was the Hokies fake punt/rugby style punt in the 4th quarter.   If they were going to go for it on 4th down they should have lined up their power run game, rather then trotting out their WR/Punter to try whatever he was trying to do after a time out.   I also like to thank Frank Beamer for running the ball when Michigan couldn't cover their wide receivers.

If you look at the stats with out the final score you might think Michigan lost by probably at least 10 points.   For example:  Michigan had 56 rushing yards total and only 128 passing.  Michigan had the ball for over 23 minutes in time of possession, Va Tech had it for nearly 37 minutes.   During the second half alone, Michigan was at 9:37 to Tech's 20:23.   Some Michigan fans will say Michigan won this game ugly and I agree with them.  What I would say back is, we have lost about 5-6 games the past 3 years that we should have won.  It was time for payback and it felt damn good being on the other side for a change.    Go Blue! 

BTW: I was close to the OT non-catch in the end zone.  It wasn't a catch and I couldn't believe they called it a TD on the field.   The ball moves when it hits the ground and his body hits out of bounds before his feet hit the field.

The Big Ten had a tough bowl season, but the last team to play finished on a high point!


Rob said...

Thanks for your dedication to this blog every day. As an alum that has relocated 1000 miles away, I look forward to reading ti daily and it allows me to try and stay more connected. Keep up the great work!

- R

Bob said...

Thanks Rob!

Voice of Reason said...

Thanks for the report. There is a saying, "Great teams win the ugly games that good teams find a way to lose." This is not to say that Michigan is a great team yet, but just maybe they have that mindset now.

We know that a year ago, Michigan would have lost this game the same way they lost to Mississippi State last year. When we saw how Michigan played against ND and how they hung in there, we could see that mentally and emotionally this Michigan team was growing.

When Michigan played MSU, they were out manned, and out muscled but they were still in the game until the end and lost on their own mistakes. Then they lost to an Iowa team they should have won on what some consider a bad call, but they still didn't turn the corner until the Illinois game (IMO).

They played very well against a very good (not great) Nebraska team that spanked MSU, and they kept their focus and beat an OSU team that was at full strength with a frosh QB that now had a full season of experience under his belt by the time they played Michigan. In fact, most of the Michigan faithful were aiming to finally beat OSU, "next year."

Were we really surprised to see that after this game Michigan still have some issues to address?
Let us keep in mind that this was the same team in the beginning of the year that we were hoping would win at least seven games. No one thought we would beat ND, Nebraska, OSU, or SDSU. Some questioned if we would beat Illinois and Iowa.

If Michigan played VT at the beginning of the year, no one would have counted this as a win. VT has been solid all year long and came into this bowl game with eleven wins already. They were big, fast and more experienced than Michigan but Michigan won the game. Yes, this is the "same team," we had doubts about and would have settled for an "average" defensive and special teams performance. Now we're in the Sugar Bowl against a strong BCS team and we're concerned that we haven't performed like LSU or Alabama would have? Do we have such short memories?

Michigan has a lot to be proud of "this year." We've accomplished more than any of us dreamed of. Hoke and staff had aimed for the Big Ten title but ended up with a BCS Sugar Bowl title instead was that so bad? They've taken an arguably above average team and gotten excellent results 11-2. Yes, it will take a season or two before Michigan will be at full strength but we know it's coming. Go Blue!!!

uncle ron said...

I agree with Rob, Big Bob, I can't wait to read your postings each day and I get real nervous when you post late. I like your Factual posting instead of some of this other Stuff thats on the net. Thanks again and Happy New Years to and yours....Go Blue!!!

As usual "Voice" your right on buddy!!!

John said...

Great to know that you were at both the 2011 and 2012 bowl games and could report the good, bad and ugly first hand.
As an example, after viewing a replay of the OT nontouchdown both TV announcers and thought it would be confirmed a TD.
However, you could see it was not a catch.
That is excellent reporting!

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