Saturday, December 31, 2016

It Tasted More Like The Tang Bowl

I'm going to break this post game into two sections.   First, I will deal with the what we saw and bowl games as a whole, second I will give you a trip report from my Orange Bowl experience. 

Michigan was in trouble during warm-ups when it was clear Peppers was out for the game.  I don't care how good a team you are, if you remove your best player.   It's going to cost you.   It hurt Michigan dearly in this game. 

In the Iowa and OSU losses this year, I questioned if Michigan was the better team and just played poorly.   I can't use that excuse any longer as the Wolverines completely whiffed on the first half of the Orange Bowl.   I wasn't sure what team I was watching, the offense couldn't gain a yard and the defense was giving up big plays left and right.   Dalvin Cook was the best player on the field and he continued to prove it on almost every offensive snap FSU had. 

Florida State was the better team and they are not that good.  The Wolverines offense right now are not good enough to win big games.  The offensive line has a number of issues and with each loss this year Wilton's lack of play making cost them 3 wins.   If Michigan could get one TD in the first half this would have been a different game.   The gift on the one yard line, ended up with Michigan going backwards, with Wilton missing a wide open Chesson for an easy TD.    If Wilton threw another 2 yard slant to Darboh on 3rd and 5, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

The play calling seemed more like Iowa and IU then it did against Ohio State.   I think Jimmy is one of the best college football coaches, but I was not impressed how the Wolverines game planned on offense.   The other decision I didn't like was going for 2 on the first TD.   I know the two point conversion would bring FSU's lead to 3, but I thought it was too early in the second half to do that.   That extra point ended up being a big deal in the final score.

My most positive take-away from the game was that Michigan showed heart in the second half and finally started to play some Michigan Football.    My entire experience yesterday, got me thinking more and more about  Bowl Games and the quality of play.     In the first half, Michigan looked like it didn't want to be there, I don't know if it was poor preparation, over preparation, rust,  or a hang over from the loss of Peppers, but the Wolverines were not the same team coming out of the tunnel. 

Even if Michigan had completed the comeback, I was going to write what poor football I witnessed from both teams.   That 1st quarter seemed to go on forever.    Michigan gave up a couple of big plays on defense all season and they gave up 5 or 6 last night?   What is that about?  Yes, FSU has talent but those plays were blown coverages, poor tackling or both.   FSU on the other had thought it was their job to keep Michigan in the game.   They fumble on the 1 yard line and Deondre Francois throws a pick 6 on the 5 yard line for Michigan's first TD.

I'm also sick over what happened to Jake Butt.  I hear he has an insurance policy, but this injury if it's serious will cost him spots in the NFL draft.    Watching that first half, with Peppers out and then Jake Butt goes down with a serious knee injury, you start to wonder if playing these games is even worth it.    Both teams were clearly rusty and the level of football was pretty poor.  I'm now firmly in the camp to expand the playoffs and get rid of these games.   I loved Bowl Games growing up, but now they just seem these games are for Alumni or Boosters.   I love having 3 games on TV during the holidays, but the level of football after a month off is just not very good.

Here are my take-a-ways for next year:

  • Michigan needs an open QB competition for the starting role,  Wilton needs to be better in big games.  Even when Wilton had time last night, he was not throwing the ball away or throwing the ball accurately.
  • Michigan needs more talent on the offensive line.   The way they preformed against Iowa, OSU and FSU was not good enough.
  • Michigan needs a dynamic playmaker on offense.  Maybe it is Chris Evans.
  • Jimmy should never schedule night games, I don't know if its the long day before a game, but Michigan rarely plays well in Primetime. 
  • I thought #14 Josh Metullus played as best he could replacing Peppers.  (on a side note the stadium announcer continued to say "Drake Harris on the tackle" when mentioning Metullus.  Alex Malzone also made a tackle, which was clearly #10 Devin Bush)
Michigan has plenty to work on before they travel to Dallas to take on the Gators in another non-home game.

Game Day at The Hard Rock Stadium:

I was a bit frustrated at the cost of the tickets for this game.  Being in the lower bowl was going to cost you $250 (even in the end zone).  I think it's crazy to pay $1000 to watch a football game live.   Maybe if its a playoff game or National Championship, but that is crazy for the Orange Bowl.   I saw prices on stubhub and eBay that is was cheaper to attend the playoff games.   I purchased $120 tickets for me and the family and we were in the 3rd deck as high as you can be. 

The stadium is fine, its a football stadium and pretty much what you would expect, they have a lot of different food choices.  Capital One did a nice job with their Fan Fest area before the game, lots of games to play, a live band, etc.    Traffic prior to the game and parking was a bit of an issue.   Our hotel was 22 miles away and it took us over an hour to get to the stadium.  We left the hotel 3 hours before kickoff.   Parking was $40.  They did have a free parking area, quite away from the stadium.

The weather was cold.  Yes, I know there is a difference between Michigan cold and Florida cold, but this was very Florida cold.   We were in the third deck and the wind was whipping right through the upper deck.  It felt like it was in the low 40's with the wind.    With the cold temperatures, Michigan playing like it did for 3 quarters, it was hard to stay, but I'm glad we did.   We got back to the hotel about 12:45AM.

I don't know if I would have felt different if Michigan had won, but that day seemed long, cold, frustrating, and expensive to watch that level of football. 


Voice of Reason said...

Bob thanks for your analysis and I appreciate what you've shared. I for one can say that it was an emotional roller coaster and in spite of the close score I was disappointed in the coaching and how we've played. No doubt we gave our best effort, but I was concerned about our embracing our “deer in the headlights” mindset like we did as visitors in Iowa, and OSU, and unfortunately I was correct. It was clear that Michigan was the visiting team again in Florida and we weren't mentally and emotionally ready.

In spite of FSU's three outstanding players, I wasn't ready to say that they are “better” but I do give their coach credit for their aggressive play (punching Michigan in the mouth) as they started the game and throughout the first half. My concern was that Michigan was slow to get up off of the mat and punch back. Was it talent or character issue for Michigan I am not sure yet but I am a strong believer that a team’s play reflects their coaches and its leadership. So when FSU made those big plays my gut was saying, "Where’s Brown, why don't he make those adjustments now, they’re making him look bad?" And when we saw the O-line get rolled, or the QB trying to shoot pigeons out of the air, and the RB's running backwards, my gut was wondering where are the coaches? I couldn’t also help but wonder on the last kick off to FSU if Michigan really needs a real Special Teams coach. In my opinion, Michigan fell asleep on that play. Your team has just regained the lead and you have less than two minutes left to play, and so you make sure your team is up to finishing well. There is no glory in losing on the last play of the game.

Losing Peppers was indeed a big deal, especially at the last minute. I may be wrong but wasn't he the defensive signal caller to make the checks on the D-side? Maybe that had something to do with why the defense backfield looked like they weren't communicating and out of position so often? However, I would have assumed that there would have been someone else being prepped for when Peppers was on the sideline. I don't know. Plus, I don’t know if I would have put a freshman CB Levert Hill (?) in this game. I am sure he will develop into an outstanding player in the future.

I know that hindsight is always 20/20, but we are fans first. In closing, it's no small thing for a team to win 10 games and to do it two years in a row. However, I would like to assume that the team is moving in an upward direction in spite of losing three of their last four games and that next year we should see some vast improvements like a B1G Championship and a playoff berth. That may be a tall order considering Michigan is losing a number of key seniors this year and maybe Peppers. Nevertheless, we are starting to see Harbaugh's recruits come in and step up and hopefully...prayerfully, Michigan will realize that leap to the next level. IMHO!!!

Jimmy 4 the Natty! said...

Anything from the Najee Harris front? That has been very quiet... Oline and play calling wasn't the best sales pitch last night.

dude1984 said...

Good write up. Speight looked terrible when he had time, which wasn't that often because the O-line was garbage. The over reliance on Smith who is too slow to be effective again teams with speed was frustrating. On D they got away from playing man for a while and weren't as aggressive as expected. I realize things had to change with no Peppers, but they completely went into a shell. When it's all said and done, the missed 2 point conversion was the difference.

Looking ahead to next season there is going to be a lot of turn over. Every position should be open to competition. I expect them to have a lot of growing pains, especially in the secondary, but they have a great coaching staff and a lot of high ceiling athletes, so you never know. They could have more than the 8 wins I'm projecting them to have.

Big35Hurt said...

Well.....I can't help's my thoughts. Michigan's defense, while being strong this year vs a mediocre schedule, cost us all 3 games that we lost. In all 3 games, we were winning with 2 minutes or less to go in the game & the D couldn't get it done when it counted. Then I hear today Don Brown got a 5 year extension. Is he the right man for the job? Yes, I think so, but before we "reward" him, can we at least see how he does when he doesn't have a team full of senior starters?

Losing Peppers last night was a very large difference maker in the game. If he plays, we would have won. End of discussion. I was however pretty damn happy that I didn't have to watch the Peppers Wildcat even once last night. LOL God I HATE that. Peppers could be MUCH more effective playing in the slot or a semi-normal basis. Speaking of Peppers, I really don't think hr should go pro. He is a liability in pass coverage in respect to the pro game. He is just starting to learn how to play around the line of scrimmage. If he's going to be an "in the box safety or hybrid OLB" in the NFL, then he really needs at least 1 more year in college. Hes a great athlete, but in all honesty, hes still a little raw on technique and that's because hes been moved all around for 3 years now.

The Michigan offense is based on the premise that they will be able to line up, maul the opponent, and run the damn ball. I can't tell you how happy I am to see most of our offensive line leaving. This group has never been able to get the job done. I have a feeling that Cole will move back out to Tackle next year and the interior of Ruiz/Bredeson/Onwenu will finally be what we are looking for going forward. Our WR's have not had the athletic ability or speed that's needed to contend with the better teams in the nation. This class of receivers that we are bringing in this year will FINALLY contain some true playmakers. Our RBs should be faster and more athletic too. Smith ran hard, but he had very little vision, and no speed at all. With Walker and Evans we are in pretty good shape moving forward. Higdon is decent too. WE still have a chance for Najee Harris too. That would be HUGE.

Moving forward, our defense will be fine. I have a feeling that Peppers might stay by the way he was talking last night. Time will tell. Hurst/Mone/ & Gary will anchor a solid but not deep DL. McCray will stabilize the LBs and we have some athletic young kids coming on which is a much needed component. I'm sick and tired of having SLOW LB's. It may take a little while, but our secondary is going to be really good. Watson & Clark (hopefully) will be there to stabilize things, and then the kids we've brought in the last 2 recruiting classes are REALLY gonna be good. Long/Hill/A. Thomas are all gonna be studs. By the way, I want to give a SHOUT OUT to Dymonte Thomas. He turned into a pretty damn good and versatile football player. He has improved a TON since his Frosh/Soph years. A TON. Another shout out to Kenny Allen. He's be an unsung hero on this team.

I'm not sold of Speight yet. I am sold that OKorn and Morris shouldn't come back.

Voice of Reason said...

Clemson has just crushed OSU this evening 31-0. I guess that is likely to happen when OSU doesn't have access to the resources to cheat their way into a win. We can argue if Michigan would have beaten Clemson, however, I am convinced that Michigan would have done a lot better than 31-0. I hope the B1G powers that be take note of this because now because of their tolerance for cheating the conference is greatly and overwhelmingly embarrassed.

Plus, one of the Sports Writers gave OSU an excuse saying that because they lost players to the NFL that they are rebuilding. With all of the talent that they've stock pilled over the years, they've reloaded just as Alabama and Clemson has but yet OSU is "rebuilding!" No, Michigan is rebuilding and yet we are arguably in key ways better than OSU and we've done it without cheating...and would have been the better choice between the two for the playoffs IMHO!!!

Thom said...

60 points in last two games the D gives up and Brown gets a raise. What a great country we live in and the fans pay the bills

Scott K said...

Peppers will enter the draft... if there was any question at all, after Jake tore his ACL, those questions are gone. Too much $$ on the line to risk another year in college when you're assured being a 1st round pick. Selfishly, I'd love to see him come back to win the Heisman and a National Championship, there's little to no chance he stays.

The play calling was frustrating as hell..... I'm sick of this running up the middle when there is nothing there, play after play after play. The only time we NEEDED to hammer it up the middle, 1st & goal from the 1...... 80 blasts into the endzone and Smith gets nailed for a 3 yard loss.....FUCK!

Armchair coaching, i understand..... but why the hell don't we open the damn game with 5 and 7 yard slants and outs? Move the damn chains until they back off the line, and then try running the ball?

It's going to be a long 8 months, after losing 3 of 4.

small consolation watching urban his suckeyes get humiliated.