Monday, September 25, 2006

Bielema's first loss - Michigan 27, Wisconsin 13

Well, let's sum up: nobody expected the Badgers to win, and they didn't. True story.

Here are my observations from the game:

* Apparently Ron Lee's opinion is that the Badgers' defensive backs have not yet developed. No explicit order of "don't throw at Ikegwuonu" was given, and Henne was able to pick the best matchup all afternoon. Ikegwuonu, Rogers, Langford ... all of them were picked on during the first corner alone.

* The checkdown pass to Hill that went for a touchdown was just brilliant. All the linebackers flow to Travis Beckum on that play, leaving absolutely nobody there to cover Hill when he sneaks out into the flat. That play was mostly Stocco's smarts, but also made possible by Michigan's otherwise stifling defense chasing down the wrong man.

* Speaking of Stocco, I was impressed with him all day long. He made smart throws and only really got into trouble when his line let him down. Hats off to John for coming off a lackluster performance and growing stronger.

* The one play that was pretty dumb by Stocco was the intentional grounding in the first quarter. On that play, though, for some reason Joe Thomas decided he needed to help Andy Kemp double-team Rondell Biggs, leaving Prescott Burgess literally untouched and sprinting directly at Stocco's head. Not the best play of the day.

* Speaking of Kemp, I'm declaring him and his compatriot Eric Vandenheuvel the liabilities of the offensive line. Every big play that Michigan had in the UW backfield is accompanied by one of those two, arms flailing, chasing a guy in a blue jersey. In my notes, Kemp appears alongside the intentional grounding play, a TFL by Branch on Hill, and a fourth-quarter sack of Stocco by Branch. Vandenheuvel's sins include allowing Woodley to fly by him and smoke Stocco and being almost wholly responsible for the near-interception that Stocco threw at Burgess when he was hurried. These guys appear to block well for about a second or two and then immediately get run around, knocked down, to run through.

* For all the flak that Breaston has taken for not being a big enough star, he's still a damn good player. I'm not speaking here of the punt returns. What stands out for me is the first quarter play when UM runs a reverse, UW reads it perfectly, and Breaston STILL ends up gaining four yards. That's something special.

* It was good to see UW stuff the Wolverines on 4th and 1 at the 19. What, did they expect to score 47 again this week? Why wouldn't you kick the field goal at that point?

* The officiating did not change the outcome of the game, but it was horrendous. The refs picked up three flags: one when they thought there might have been twelve men on the field (there weren't), one on a punt return by Breaston (where Crable committed an obvious block in the back), and one after the failed onside kick attempt (seriously, refs: learn the rules). The one I really don't understand is the second one. How do you see a block in the back, throw a flag, and then convince yourself that you might not have seen that and pick it up? Trust your judgment!

* Does Chad Henne stop thinking on third down? UM's conversion rate was horrendous, and a lot of it had to do with Chad either holding on to balls way too long and getting taken down, or throwing them far away even when his receivers had all day to get open.

* Bret Bielema should hire someone as a special teams coach. Seriously, you're going to rush ten guys and not have anyone back there to receive the punt? Who does that?

* Zach Hampton dropped that punt because he had to. He was in the jurisdiction of Zoltan, the Space Emperor, who issued an intergalactic edict that Hampton needed to obey. Otherwise he would've been ejected from some sort of orbiting capsule to die in the silent vacuum of space.

* A memo, too, to Zach Hampton: don't retaliate. Just don't. Yeah, he was being very obviously held and didn't get a call during a third-quarter punt play, but Steve Breaston just called for a fair catch. Don't retaliate and give the Wolverines 15 yards when you hold Breaston without a return!

* Two questions: why can Breaston only catch the ball when it comes off an opposing player's foot? And why does Chris Spielman think that Michigan's quarterback is named "Chad Henry?"

* I hate, hate, hate invoking "Jekyll and Hyde" imagery, so let's go with ninjas instead. In that way, Allen Langford is the ultimate paradox. On the one hand, he's always intercepting passes thrown by Chad Henne, but on the other hand, he's always getting burned by Mario Manningham on long touchdown passes. Allen Langford is a mammal.

* What the heck was up with the clock management in the third quarter? Why do you ever need to take a timeout on 4th and 11 at your own 12 yard line? Isn't that the ultimate punting situation?

* Michigan's #2 defense is their #2 defense for a very good reason.

* And finally, James Kamoku needs to be suspended. What he did to Steve Breaston -- tweaking his leg to try to injure his knee after the play was over -- was ugly, and stupid, and caught on national TV. Intent to injure is just as bad as actually creating the injury, and Wisconsin has plenty of firsthand experience with being on the receiving end of that garbage.

But, and here's the kicker: we don't know what's going to happen with Kamoku. Here's what Bret Bielema said today:

"I don't think there was any particular thing directed at Breaston," Bielema said Tuesday during the Big Ten Conference coaches' teleconference. "He had had a very successful day and our coverage unit had had some struggles. Everything boiled up at that minute.

"I've seen what everybody has seen on film. I addressed it with James and I'm going to handle those things internally."

When asked if Kamoku would play Saturday at Indiana, Bielema reiterated: "I'm handling those things internally."

Wrong, coach. You're the new guy on the block so you make an example out of someone who makes an obviously dirty play. End of story. Kamoku needs to be out against Indiana. Even if he is, though, the opportunity to show the conference the type of disciplinarian you are has gone out the window.

I didn't like the reinstatement of Cooper right before the season started. I didn't like the fact that I saw Hodge in the game on Saturday. I don't like the fact anything less than singling out and making an example of Kamoku was the course of action taken in this instance. But what I really, really don't like is the pattern that's emerging. That pattern, so far, indicates that Bret Bielema wants to win football games -- and he's not particularly interested in how that happens or the character of his athletes. Any positive vibe I had from the dismissal of Booker Stanley has dissipated.

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Lichty said...

Wrong, coach. You're the new guy on the block so you make an example out of someone who makes an obviously dirty play. End of story. Kamoku needs to be out against Indiana. Even if he is, though, the opportunity to show the conference the type of disciplinarian you are has gone out the window.

Yeah, unfortunately he is looking at Tressel as a role model instead of Barry. However, even Tressel might consider benching a special teamer -- just not a starter.

BaggyPantsDevil said...

Couple of comments from a Michigan perspective.

I thought John Stocco did an admirable job, just take a peak at the Brady Quinn meltdown to see what Michigan’s pass rush can do to a quarterback. Stocco threw for decent yardage and a touchdown and NO interceptions. Michigan’s defensive line is the best I’ve ever seen for any team. I’m absolutely giddy about the. Don’t be to tough on your guys for not doing spectacular against them.

Steve Breaston is a fantastic yards after carry guy. Personally, I don’t get too worked up about the dropped balls because he’s contributed plenty on punt returns. He had 315 all purpose yards in the Rose Bowl against Texas, no Breaston and Michigan isn’t in that game. Last year, his kickoff return to midfield mad Manningham’s last second touchdown possible.

As for Michigan’s awful third down conversion rate, I think Wisconsin just has a pretty good secondary.

Appreciate the support on the James Kamoku leg twisting. That’s not Wisconsin, that’s Miami. Personally, since Breaston’s been injury prone, is of slight build, and can be frustratingly elusive I sometimes wonder if opposing players intentionally try to hurt him. Sometimes, punt coverage gunners just hammer him. That my also partly explain the dropped passes.

And, saw the shot of Barry Alvarez visiting the Michigan sideline, cool guy, I’ve always dug him.

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Jim Philips said...

per head service was on that game. Also I didn't expect that Badgers won the game and I hope that they can keep it up.