Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wanted: Field Goal Kicker

Jason Gingell was 0-2 on field goal attempts against Northwestern and is now a miserable 3-9 on the season. It may be time to give Bryan Wright or K.C. Lopata a shot at kicking field goals. Gingell was originally named the starter over the strong legged Wright because it was thought that Gingell was more accurate than Wright. I can't imagine Wright being LESS accurate than three of nine. Here is the game-by-game breakdown of Gingell's field goal adventures this season (field goals made in parenthesis):

  • Appalachian State: (22), (42), 43, 37

  • Oregon: 42

  • Notre Dame: (39)

  • Penn State: 29

  • Northwestern: 26, 39
Go Blue!

*NOTE: Photo of Jason Gingell (34) and Zoltan Mesko (41) by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

Henne returns to form, leads Wolverines to victory

The plan was for Chad Henne to play the Wolverines' first offensive series of each half of the Northwestern game. However, sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Northwestern jumped out to a 16-7 halftime lead and the Wolverines' offense was ineffective in the first half other than on the first drive. Thus, Henne was pressed into duty for the entire second half. His knee held up. (I was reminded of the old Bob Ufer line about John Wangler's knee- "The only thing as fragile as Wangler's knee is sending cookies through the mail.") Henne was impressive as he completed 18 of 27 passes for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns while leading Michigan to 21 second half points to key a comeback victory. It was good to have Henne back at the helm. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) by JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Michigan 28 Northwestern 16

Michigan traveled on the road for the first time this season and came away with a victory today over Northwestern in front of 46,604 fans at Ryan Field. Following are the game recap, boxscore, play-by-play chart (.pdf), player participation chart, postgame notes and photos. Much analysis to follow when I get the Wildcats catchy fight song out of my head. Go Blue!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mario Manningham doing the worm as game ends

Ryan Mallett caught some flack for flipping the ball to the referee after he scored his TD in the Penn State game. However, that is nothing compared to the showmanship displayed by Super Mario at the end of the game when MM suddenly busted out The Worm. I wonder what Coach Carr thought of that? Go Blue!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Michigan 14 #10 Penn State 9

Michigan defeated the 10th ranked Nittany Lions for the ninth consecutive game. The Wolverines outdueled Penn State by the score of 14-9 with Mike Hart's 4th quarter touchdown providing the winning margin. Incidentally, Hart's 44 carries today are the second most rushes ever for a Michigan player in a single game. (Note: Chris Perry holds the record with 51 rushing attempts against MSU on 11-1-03). Following are the links to the game recap, boxscore, play-by-play chart (.pdf), player participation chart, postgame notes, photos and quotes. Much analysis to follow when I'm done making my Rose Bowl Game reservations. Go Blue!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Quarterback Carousel: Henne and Mallett

Who will Coach Carr name the starter for the Penn State game? Although Chad Henne is not listed on the two deep depth chart this week, Coach Carr has not ruled out the possibility of inserting him as the starting QB once kickoff arrives on Saturday afternoon. If Henne is not ready to go, the true Freshman Ryan Mallett will start his second consecutive game. So far through three games this season, Henne and Mallett have each played 1 1/2 games. Here are how their statistics look thus far:

  • Henne: 31 comp./60 att., 405 yds., 2 tds., 2 int., 112.7 effic.
  • Mallett: 13 comp./32 att., 139 yds., 3 tds., 1 int., 101.8 effic.

It will be a tough call for Coach Carr on which QB to name as the starter. Chad Henne is hobbled physically but he has more command of the offensive playbook and familiarity with how to read opposing defenses. Mallett would be more limited in the offensive playbook that Offensive Coordinator DeBord would let him operate but Mallett is more physically capable than Henne to lead the Wolverines down the field. In the end, both players may see time behind center on Saturday. Most likely, however, Mallett will be the starting QB against the Nittany Lions. Go Blue!

Note: Photo (left) of Chad Henne (7) by DAVID GURALNICK/The Detroit News

Note 2: Photo (right) of Ryan Mallett (15) and Coach Carr by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

Monday, September 17, 2007

Remembering the last time PSU visited A2

The catch heard 'round the world! Go Blue!

Monday Press Conference- Week Four

At the Monday Press Conference, Coach Carr reviewed the Notre Dame game and previewed the Penn State match-up. Speaking on behalf of the players were Mike Massey, Mike Hart, Terrance Taylor, John Thompson, and Shawn Crable. Following are the Game Notes (.pdf) for the Penn State game this week. Go Blue!


Johnny Sears is no longer on the team

Coach Carr confirmed today that Johnny Sears is no longer on the team. No further explanation was given. This is a rather sudden change in fortune as Sears began the season as the starting cornerback and kick returner. However, he lost both starting jobs after the first game against Appalachian State. Go Blue!

Note: Photo of Johnny Sears (25) from the 2006 Ball State game by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Consult your free Michigan Football Guide

The free Michigan Football Guide returned yesterday (it was absent during the first two games of the season) and so did Michigan's winning ways. Coincidence? Probably. Nevertheless, I was happy to have the free program to consult as there was a myriad of personnel moves yesterday. Some items of interest:

  • After the first quarter, Adam Kraus moved to Center and Justin Boren moved to Left Guard. Boren, a left-hander, and new QB Ryan Mallett were having trouble on the snap exchange including on Michigan's first offensive play. Kraus had played Center previously as he played some games at the position in the 2005 season. No word yet on what the configuration of the line will be next week for Penn State.
  • Kickoff specialist Bryan Wright left the game with an injury and was replaced by K.C. Lopata who saw his first action of the season. Lopata booted four kickoffs for 231 yards averaging 57.8 yards per kick. (Note: Kickoffs are from the 30 yard line this season).
  • Quarterbacks Nick Sheridan and David Cone took the first game snaps of their respective careers but neither player threw a pass.
  • Cornerback Johnny Sears may have a new role: left out. Sears was not on the Michigan sideline for yesterday's game and Coach Carr refused to answer the question when asked whether Sears was still on the team.
  • Freshman WR Toney Clemons made his first career start yesterday. Clemons started in the place of usual starting #3 WR, Greg Mathews, who was presumably being punished for the "kicking incident" that occurred against Oregon.

Go Blue!

Michigan 38 Notre Dame 0

The Wolverines got back on the winning track by crushing the Fighting Irish 38-0 in front of 111,178 fans at The Big House. Following are the game recap, boxscore, play-by-play chart (.pdf), player participation chart, postgame notes, photos, and quotes. Much analysis to follow when I'm done celebrating! Go Blue!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Big House was bested by the White Out last Saturday!

It is a Saturday tradition at Michigan Stadium for the PA Announcer (now Carl Grapentine) to announce the day's attendance figure to the crowd with the introduction along the lines of, "And once again the largest crowd watching college football anywhere in America today." However, on September 8th versus Oregon, Michigan only drew 109,733 to The Big House while Penn State hosted 110,078 at Beaver Stadium for the White Out against Notre Dame. Thus, Carl Grapentine was incorrect this past Saturday. The largest college football crowd was not in A2 last Saturday but rather was down in Happy Valley. Michigan's loss to Appalachian State the week prior hurt attendance for the game against the Ducks and if the Wolverines continue to struggle look for a crowd of UNDER 107,501 against Eastern Michigan. Hopefully it will not come to that. Go Blue!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Press Conference- Week Three

At today's Monday Press Conference, Coach Carr previewed the Notre Dame match-up which Ryan Mallett will be starting for the Wolverines. Speaking on behalf of the players at the press conference were Jake Long, Adrian Arrington and Brandent Englemon. The Game Notes (.pdf) for the Michigan/Notre Dame game have been released. To scout out Notre Dame, check out the 2007 Notre Dame Football Media Guide. Go Blue!


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mallett makes debut: The future is now

Starting QB Chad Henne had to leave the game at halftime due to a lower-leg injury which meant that Freshman sensation Ryan Mallett got to make his debut. Mallett played the entire second half and was 6 for 17 passing for 49 yards with 1 int. and 0 touchdowns. He was sacked twice and fumbled twice (losing one). Michigan did not score any points in the second half but Mallett did display his strong arm as he heaved the ball downfield on a couple of different throws. After the game, Coach Carr indicated that Chad Henne is doubtful for next week's game against Notre Dame. Thus, it is highly likely that Ryan Mallett will be called upon to start. The Mallett-era has officially begun. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Ryan Mallett (15) and Justin Boren (65) by DAVID GURALNICK/Detroit Free Press


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oregon 39 Michigan 7

For the second straight game this season, the Wolverines stumbled badly in front of their home fans. In front of a crowd of 109,733 at The Big House, the Oregon Ducks crushed the Wolverines 39-7. Following are the links for the game recap, boxscore, play-by-play chart (.pdf), player participation chart, postgame notes, photos, and quotes. Much analysis when I come to grips with what is happening. Go Blue!


Friday, September 07, 2007

The road to redemption starts at Stadium & Main

The Wolverines suffered last Saturday what is being termed "the worst loss in college football history". The loss resulted in Michigan suffering an unprecedented precipitous drop out of the Top 25 polls. The Wolverines have fallen (temporarily) off the mountain of college football's elite programs. There is only one route back to the top of the mountain: the road to redemption. The road to redemption is a difficult path and it is an arduous journey. It takes some schools years (e.g., Nebraska) to make the trip. Others get lost on the way (e.g., Notre Dame) and never seem to quite make it back to the top of the college football mountain. Michigan's road back begins tomorrow at Stadium and Main with a game against Oregon. A victory over the Ducks would instill the Wolverines with confidence as they make the steep ascent back up the mountain. However, a loss would be devastating to the Wolverines and might derail all hope of making any meaningful headway on the road to redemption for the remainder of the 2007 season. The trip back to the top of the college football mountain begins tomorrow. Hopefully, the Wolverines can head in the right direction. Go Blue!

Shawn Crable learns to lead, needs to stop making mistakes

Team tri-captain Shawn Crable is learning to lead. What he needs to do, however, is stop making costly mistakes at the end of games. Last November, against Ohio State, Crable was flagged in the Fourth Quarter for a costly personal foul penalty for a late hit on the Buckeyes' QB Troy Smith. Then, this past Saturday versus Appalachian State, Crable missed his blocking assignment and let the Mountaineers' Corey Lynch have a clear path to the kicker on the game ending field goal attempt that was blocked. As a team leader, Crable needs to be a player that the team can count on in the clutch. Crable has not demonstrated that kind of leadership. He could learn a lesson from the team's other two captains (Mike Hart and Jake Long) and lead the team by example in crunch time by rising to the occassion. Crable needs to start making good decisions when the game is on the line before it costs the Wolverines more opportunities to win games. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Shawn Crable (2) by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Chad Henne set to tie career TD passing mark

Chad Henne's touchdown pass to Greg Mathews during the Appalachian State game was Henne's 71st TD pass of his career and moved him into a tie for second place with Elvis Grbac on Michigan's all-time list. Henne's next touchdown throw will move him into a tie with the Wolverines career touchdown passing leader, John Navarre, who threw 72 tds. between 2000-2003. There is a good chance that Henne will at least tie Navarre's all-time mark this Saturday as Henne has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 35 of the 38 games in which he has started at Michigan. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Three game losing streak

Michigan's loss to Appalachian State means that, dating back to last season, the Wolverines have lost three (3) games in a row. Michigan has not lost three games in a row since the end of the 1979 season when it finished the year on a three game losing streak. The loss to Appalachian State also dropped the Wolverines from both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches' Poll. Being outside of the Top 25 is atypcial for Michigan during Coach Carr's tenure. Michigan has appeared in the AP Top 25 for all but seven of Carr’s 150 career games (it was absent for four games in 1998 and three in 2005.) Michigan’s all-time longest consecutive streak in the AP poll occurred during the Coach Elliott/Coach Schembechler-era and was 160 weeks, from Oct. 14, 1968-Sept. 22, 1980. Go Blue!

Alltime Upset...I've never been more upset!

The fallout continues. And when I say fall, I mean fall. As in Michigan fell out of the AP Top 25 after the loss to Appalachian State even though the Wolverines were ranked #5 last week. Austin Murphy of SI does a great write-up about the game in the print edition of Sports Illustrated which can be read online (part one, part two, part three). Go Blue!

*Note: Photos on SI cover of 9/10/07: Tony Ding/ICON SMI (Dexter Jackson); Doug Pennsinger/Getty Images (Jay Cutler; lower right)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Depth chart, injury update, and odds & ends

The depth chart for this week's game against Oregon is out and it is a little different than the week one lineup. Of note, Brandent Englemon is now listed as the starting Free Saftey (last week it was Stevie Brown) and freshmen sensation Donovan Warren is listed as the top option at right cornerback. Warren gets the nod over Johnny Sears who started in week one. Alex Mitchell (last season's starting Right Guard) is not listed on this version of the depth chart but still may return from his injury to play in the game against the Ducks this Saturday. At the Monday Press Conference, Coach Carr was asked about the status of Alex Mitchell and Carlos Brown and Coach Carr stated, "I'm hoping that both of them can practice. We'll see particularly tomorrow when we go back into pads and see how they respond. But they are both close. Whether or not they can get ready to play this week, we'll just have to see."

C. Brown was on the sideline in uniform late in the game last Saturday with his hand heavily bandaged. With Hart ailing and Minor having fumbled, I thought it was possible that C. Brown was going to be inserted into the lineup against Appalachian State but it never materialized. Jeremy Ciulla (Right Guard) has been filling in while Mitchell recovers but Ciulla suffered an injury and left last Saturday's game. It must not have been too serious because Ciulla is currently listed on the top of the depth chart at RG for this week's game.

Odds & Ends:
  • Youtube video of Penn State and Ohio State fans, respectively, showing Michigan their love and support when the field goal was blocked. I have reliable reports that MSU fans were doing the same exact thing but I do not have Youtube video of it.
  • Coach Carr confirmed that team tri-captain Shawn Crable's assignment was to block the inside edge rusher (Corey Lynch) on the field goal attempt that ended the game.
  • In the Detroit Free Press coverage in the Sunday paper, it awarded Crable the "game ball" for his outstanding defensive play. The missed assignment on the field goal protection means to me that he did not deserve such an honor. Although he played well, a senior captain needs to make good decisions. His poor choice/missed assignment meant Gingell's kick never had a chance.

Go Blue!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Monday Press Conference- Week Two

At the weekly Monday Press Conference, Coach Carr answered questions to the best of his ability while speaking on behalf of the players were Will Johnson, Jake Long, Adam Kraus, and Chris Graham. Up next for the Wolverines is the University of Oregon Ducks. You can scout them out by reading Oregon's 2007 Football Media Guide (.pdf). Also, do not forget to check out the Game Notes (.pdf) for this week's game put out by the Michigan Athletic Media Relations Department. Go Blue!


Sunday, September 02, 2007

The offense sputtered when it mattered most

Coming into this season there was a lot of hype about the high powered Michigan offense and the senior leader at its controls, namely quarterback Chad Henne. There was even a fair amount of Heisman Trophy buzz surrounding Henne who had started all 37 games (27 wins-10 losses) during his three-year career as a Wolverine. However, yesterday Henne looked more like a rookie quarterback trying to find his way than an experienced signal caller who is contending for All-American honors. Henne was out-of-sync all game and the Wolverines relied almost exclusively on the run late in the contest despite being behind as Henne was so ineffective through the air.

On the day, Henne completed 19 of 37 throws for 233 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. However, that stat line does not tell the whole story. It should be noted that the offense failed to convert two 2-point conversion attempts and it was whistled for four costly penalties (two false starts; an illegal procedure; and a delay of game) in its last six offensive possessions. Although the offense did manage to scrape together fifteen (15) points in the second half, it could and should have scored many more. Following is a closer look at the offense's struggles beginning in the last 1/3rd of the Third Quarter through the end of the game.

Michigan was trailing 31-20 with about 4:30 left in the Third Quarter and possession of the ball on its own 28 yard line. Appalachian State had just missed a 46-yard field goal attempt when the kick hit the upright. Michigan desperately needed a score to cut into the Mountaineers 11 point lead and Henne came out throwing. However, Henne threw three straight incomplete passes and the Wolverines went three-and-out.

On Michigan's next offensive series, Henne threw an incomplete pass on first down but completed an eight-yard pass to Adrian Arrington on second down. After that, the Wolverines kept the ball on the ground as Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord called four (4) running plays in a row which culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Mike Hart. However, the Wolverines botched the two-point conversion attempt as a result of a poor exchange on the snap from center.

On Michigan's first possession of the Fourth Quarter and with the Wolverines still trailing 31-26, Mike Hart carried the ball for 7 yards on each of the first two plays of the drive. However, Michigan's momentum was stalled by a False Start penalty on Center Justin Boren. On the very next play, Henne was pressured and he rolled to his right where he threw an ill advised pass that was intercepted.

On Michigan's next drive, the Wolverines kept the ball on the ground despite the fact that it was still trailing by 5 points and the clock was winding down. The Wolverines ran four straight times before Henne threw a 6-yard pass to Greg Mathews. The drive was then slowed by an illegal procedure penalty. After one more running play the Wolverines incurred another False Start penalty. Now stuck in 2nd-and-14 on the opponent's 42, Henne threw an incomplete pass. On third down, Henne could not find an open receiver and lumbered for 9 yards but was five yards short of a first down. Michigan went for it on fourth down but Henne's pass to TE Mike Massey was incomplete and the Wolverines turned the ball over on downs. At this point, Henne was 2 for 8 passing for 14 yards over the course of Michigan's previous four possessions. Hardly, clutch play with Michigan trying to mount a comeback.

Michigan got the ball back with just under five minutes remaining in the game and with it still trailing by the score of 31-26. The Wolverines had excellent field position as it had the ball on its own 46 yard line. On the first play of the drive, Hart took the handoff and made an incredible, darting 54-yard touchdown run to give the Wolverines the lead. For the second time, however, the Wolverines failed on its two-point conversion attempt.

The offense returned to the field quickly as the Michigan defense came up with an interception on the first play of Appalachian State's next offensive series. Michigan's offense resumed possession on the Mountaineers' 43 yard line with just under 4:30 to go in the game. It was the offense's job to pick up a couple of first downs and ice the game as the Wolverines had a 32-31 lead. After rushing the ball four times (which included picking up a first down), the Wolverines were flagged for delay of game on 3rd-and-five. This made the play a 3rd-and-11 and Henne's pass to Greg Mathews only went for five yards. On fourth down from the 26 yard line with 1:37 remaining, Coach Carr elected to attempt the field goal to stretch the lead to four points. The kick, however, was blocked and the Wolverines tenuous lead remained at one.

The Wolverines got the ball back for the final time of the day with :26 remaining and trailing by two points as the Mountaineers had kicked a go-ahead field goal. After throwing an incompletion on first down, Henne completed a desperation bomb to Mario Manningham for 48 yards which put Michigan in position to attempt the fateful kick to end the game. The rest, as they say, is history.

In reviewing the last seven offensive possessions (punt after 3 & out; turn over on downs; interception; two touchdowns with two failed 2-pt. conversion attempts; and two missed field goals), Michigan's "high powered" offense performed miserably against Division I-FCS competition. In particular, it is evident from reviewing the above that the coaches had to gameplan away from relying on Henne as he was underperforming so badly in this game. Despite being behind the coaches relied extremely heavily on the run even though they had the #1 receiving tandem in the country (Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington) at their disposal. Hopefully, Henne can shake this performance off and return to form. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Chad Henne (7) by JOHN T. GREILICK/The Detroit News

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Appalachian State vs Michigan 2007 - Blocked Field Goal

Video of the last play of the game (the blocked field goal) immediately followed by Sideline Reporter Charissa Thompson's interview with Mountaineer Head Coach Jerry Moore.

On the blocked field goal, watch how the inside edge rusher (Corey Lynch) gets by the Michigan blocker (team tri-captain Shawn Crable) untouched. The kick never had a chance. Crable was supposed to block Lynch and force the outside edge rusher to go around the long way which would have (hopefully) given the kicker Gingell enough time to get the kick off. It was poor execution on Michigan's part and it cost them a chance to win the game. Go Blue!

Michigan vs Appalachian State 2007

Here is a good video recap of the game from the Big Ten Network. Go Blue!

Def. Coordinator's Ron English's "Donut Defense": Nothing in the middle

Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards looked like Vince Young (Univ. of Texas) circa 2005. Through the air, Edwards was 17/23, 227 yds., 3 tds., and 2 interceptions. On the ground, Edwards shredded the defense for an additional 62 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. Michigan did not have an answer for Edwards' scrambling which continually kept drives alive. Edwards seemed particularly devastating on third down conversions. The Mountaineers converted 7 of 13 third down plays which included two first-half touchdowns. On the Mountaineers first score of the day, Edwards connected with Dexter Jackson who was slashing through the middle on third and four and Jackson streaked into the end zone for a 68 yard touchdown (pictured above). In the second quarter, on third and goal from the six, Edwards found a hole in the middle of the Michigan defense and sprinted into the end zone to put the Mountaineers up 28-14. Additionally, the Mountaineers' scored a touchdown earlier in the second quarter on a second down play when Edwards hit Hans Batichon on a slant pattern through the, you guessed it, wide open middle of the field for a 9-yard touchdown play that was Appalachian State's second touchdown of the afternoon.

Defensive Coordinator Ron English had no answer for Appalachian State's spread offense. The Mountaineers exploited the "hole" in the middle of the Michigan defense throughout the game. The Wolverines "donut defense" was ineffective including on the Mountaineers final offensive drive of the game when Michigan was unable to get a stop and Appalachian State drove to the 5 yard line setting up a field goal with :30 seconds remaining. The 24-yard pass from Edwards to WR CoCo Hillary that put the ball on the 5 yard line and set up the game winning field goal was another play that exploited the void in the middle of Michigan's defense. Head Coach Lloyd Carr and Defensive Coordinator Ron English are going to have put their heads together and figure out how to fill the middle of Michigan's "donut defense" so that the Oregon Ducks will not be able to exploit openings in the middle of the field as the Mountaineers did this week. Otherwise, next week could also be ugly. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of Dexter Jackson (2) slashing through the middle of the field with the Michigan defense in his wake on his way to the end zone on a 68-yard TD play by JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Michigan's disappointing loss ends '07 National Championship title run

Michigan's run for the 2007 National Title ended before it got started as the Wolverines dropped their first game of the season in a stunning loss to two-time defending Division I-FCS (Football Championship Subdivsion f/k/a I-AA) champion Appalachian State. It is the first time that a Division I-AA team has ever beaten a ranked Division I-A team since the inception of subdivisions in Division I in 1978. Michigan was ranked #5 coming into this game but may drop completely out of the Top 25 rankings as a result of this loss.

Although there was a lot of pre-season hype touting that the Michigan offense was going to be high powered in 2007, the Wolverines struggled to move the ball at key junctures of the game. In particular, Senior quarterback Chad Henne (19/37, 233 yds., 1 int., 1 td.) appeared to be out-of-sync for much of the game. Henne often lacked touch on his passes as he was either under- or overthrowing his receivers all too often. Unfortunately, the Wolverines did not have any viable alternatives to which to turn as Henne's back-ups (Mallett and Cone) have never taken a snap during a college game. Ultimately, the Wolverines relied on the ground game (read: Mike Hart) to get them back into the game. Despite battling an injury suffered early in the game, Hart carried the ball 23 times for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Michigan defense was unable to secure the win for the Wolverines as the Mountaineers took possession of the ball with 1:22 remaining and the Wolverines leading 32-31. Appalachian State drove the length of the field (down to the Michigan 5 yard line) and then kicked the go-ahead field goal with :30 seconds remaining in the game. The inability of the defense to make a stop on the last drive to preserve the win was reminiscent of the problems that plagued the 2005 defense that ultimately led to then-defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann's departure.

After the game, Head Coach Lloyd Carr said the following, "Give Appalachian State credit. I thought they did a great job. I felt that we were not a well prepared football team. That is my job and I take full responsibility for that. We played much better defense in the second half but penalties killed us in this game. They stopped too many drives. In the second half we turned the football over twice and we had penalties that put us into bad down-and-distance situations. We had a bad snap on a two-point conversion. We didn't execute. We simply made too many mistakes and had too many missed opportunities. Now we have to fight back and we have to deal with some adversity to find out what we are made of."

Coach Carr went on to say, "As coaches and players we all have to search and take a look at ourselves, understanding that this is a disappointment. Not only in losing, but to play the way we did, is an even greater disappointment. When you have disappointment you can lay down and feel sorry for yourself, but in our case this schedule is about to get tougher. We will see how we respond."

Michigan fans agree that the loss is a disappointment. It is a bitter pill to swallow because all the hopes and dreams that fans had for a National Championship in 2007 are now up in smoke. (DP at MATW even had 2007 National Championship T-Shirts printed). Worse yet, Michigan is being ridiculed as a national laughingstock for becoming the first ranked team to ever lose to a Division I-AA team. Fans will circle the wagons, so to speak, and ultimately regroup but this loss hurts. It will go down in Michigan Football history as one of the most disappointing losses of all-time. Michigan fans do not like to be embarrassed and today they were served a big dose of humiliation. The fans will want to hold someone responsible and Coach Carr has said that the responsibility for the team not being ready rests with him. As he is considered a lame duck anyway, people will not hesitate to lambaste Coach Carr. This could get ugly quickly. This might be a long season unless the Wolverines can straighten out some of these deficiencies and beat Oregon next week. If not, fans will be calling for Coach Carr to hang it up. Last week people were talking National Championship. Now they are talking 6-6. What a difference a game makes. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo of a dejected Terrance Taylor (67) and Will Johnson (97) by MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press


Appalachian State 34 Michigan 32

In an auspicious debut for Michigan playing against a Division I-AA level opponent, the Wolverines dropped their season opener to the Appalachian State Mountaineers in front of 109,218 stunned fans in Ann Arbor. Here is the game recap, boxscore, play-by-play chart (.pdf), player participation chart, postgame notes, photos, and quotes. Much analysis to follow when I stop crying. Go Blue!

*Note: Photo by JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press


Offensive balance

Do not be fooled by the fact that Michigan's depth chart for the Appalachian State game lists three starting wide receivers and no fullback. Michigan is not going to be airing the ball out this Saturday against the Mountaineers. Rather, much like the first two games of the 2006 season, the Wolverines will be content to play conservatively and not "show much" especially if it is able to establish an early lead. This is especially true as Michigan has a big-time opponent in the Oregon Ducks coming into town next week and there is no reason to show the offensive sets against a lesser opponent in the first week. At least that is the conventional wisdom to which Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord subscribes.

In 2006, the Wolverines were very balanced offensively in terms of yardage. Last season Michigan rushed for 2,282 yards and passed for 2,538 yards. However, in terms of number of plays the Wolverines ran the ball 535 times while it passed 331 times. ALLEGEDLY, Coach DeBord wants to even out the number of play calls a little this year.

Michigan is very methodical about how it approaches its game plan. As noted above, it passed the ball 331 times last year in 13 games. That means the Wolverines averaged just over 25 passes (25.4) per game. That is, not coincidentally, exactly the number of passes that Coach DeBord scripted for the offense to throw in a game. Of course, some games the offense had to throw a little more and in some games it threw a little less depending on the dictates of the game (score, time, down and distance) but the offense was designed last season to throw 25 passes per game. QB Chad Henne exceeded twenty-five (25) passes in a game only four times last season (out of 13 games). Two of the games it occurred were the final two contests of the year (against OSU and USC) when Michigan got behind and had to start airing the ball out.

It will be interesting to see if Coach DeBord's game plan calls for thirty (30) passes per game in 2007 as Michigan has a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback and a strong wide receiving corps while not having a true starting fullback. Nevertheless, do not expect more than 20-25 passes against Appalachian State. The offense will not open up until week two against Oregon. Nevertheless, look for Michigan to score a touchdown on its first possession against Appalachian State. The Wolverines scored touchdowns on its first possesion in eight games last season (rushing tds: Vanderbilt, CMU, Ball State, & OSU; passing tds. from Henne to Arrington: Minnesota, MSU, Iowa, & Indiana). Go Blue!