I’ve Slept on It: ND/Michigan Thoughts

I’ve returned from my vacation.  I’ve moved from being insanely pissed off about having my heart ripped out by yet another last second Skunkbear TD to only moderately depressed (thank you Texas Rangers for softening that blow, and screw you Dallas Cowboys for re-opening the wound).  I’ve taken the time to get together all my thoughts on how to approach this post because there is a lot to talk about.

I also just did a bunch of work emails and I still can’t sleep, so here we go!

First off, I need to give credit where credit is due. Denard Robinson is a fucking beast (and yes the f-bomb is totally necessary).  I’m not even hugely upset for the most part in how ND defending him.  There were just points where his speed flat out left the defense scrambling to contain him.  The kid is Michigan football right now and there is no doubt about it.  He stepped up and took the game over, kudos to him.

Now time to spew some venom.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: yes, I thought Kelly should’ve kicked the damned field goal and, no, I don’t think it cost us the game, although having the hindsight to see the last play could’ve been a 41 yard game winning FG attempt doesn’t make this any easier to swallow.  Now with my disagreement noted, I do see why Kelly was tempted and eventually did go for it.  It’s a huge gamble and yes, there are logical reasons to try for it, even if I don’t agree with them.

That all being said, Kelly wasn’t on the 1-yard line and we aren’t playing NCAA ’11 and I’m firmly in the camp of “if you can take three points, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TAKE THEM” if anything more than a QB sneak or HB/FB dive over the pile is required to get the TD.  It’s a chance I don’t ever want to take and here is why: there is so much football left to be played.  Yes, I get an 11 point deficit isn’t much better than 14; however, what the hell does even clawing back within 7 matter when you are giving the ball right back to your opponent at the start of the second half?  I could come up with thousands of different scoring combinations for both teams to make several heads spin.  Long story short, you never have a clue what will happen and trying to “pull within a single score” is horribly short-sighted.

Not only that, why in the hell are you doing this with Nate f’n Montana?  I would’ve rather seen an attempt at a run play instead of what we drew up.  But of course, I know we needed to pass, Michigan knew we needed to pass, and even the usher spending more time looking for smuggled in marshmallows in the senior section than watching the game knew we needed to pass.  Maybe with Crist I could somewhat justify it, but trying to pass with Montana in that situation is absurd, especially when the defense is waiting for it.

Time to put the dead horse to sleep, but in the end, you thank your lucky starts you aren’t down by 20 more points after you’ve been sent reeling on both sides of the ball and you try to settle Nate down as best you can during halftime.  Is BK going to magically fix his tunnel vision at the half? No, but putting Nate in an air-mail situation isn’t going to do anything for his confidence either.  Lie to the kid and tell him you took the FG because you feel he can put some drives together and he just proved that to you on the previous drive.

And on the whole “BK didn’t know Crist was coming back” that’s a half-truth.  Crist was warming up with his helmet on and was in Kelly’s ear and in each huddle clearly showing he felt he was ok well before the half was over.  I guarantee the training staff told BK to err on the side of caution and wait for a halftime evaluation. So yes, he wasn’t 100% sure he’d be back in, but I’m sure he had a good feeling that a return was more than probable.  So again, you are taking unneeded risks.

Anyways, dead horse is beyond dead.  Moving on: Reese, why the hell was he in the game? If BK had such a short leash on him to pull him after a couple of series, why even bother?  That’s a one way ticket to send Reese into instant head-case status and have the opposing defense smell massive amounts of desperation from your direction.  Not too mention the idea of a flea-flicker to “eliminate reads” makes no sense and was such a monumentally bad idea, I don’t even have words for it.  Reese didn’t even make a read, he was damn near soiling himself, caught the pitch from Allen and threw to where he thought he remembered the receiver would be and forgot reading the defense is a good idea.

I don’t mean to demean Reese at all here, so don’t get me wrong.  That’s just an awful situation to throw a kid into.  Don’t toss in a damned trick play when the kid will be very understandably jittery.  BK got too cute with it, plain and simple.

Now to the defense.  Yes, they did a decent job in the game, but a couple major brain-farts really screwed them in the long run.  Michigan’s first TD was set up by some sort of zone coverage confusion by either Walls or one of the safeties.  Either way, Walls played the short route and no one had the zone over the top to help and it looked just awful.  Those mental mistakes cannot happen.  The 96 yard run was brutal too–I don’t care who is running the ball, big plays like that is the result of complete breakdowns.

On to Crist.  He came in looking like he could walk on water when he came back in the game then seemingly promptly forgot what he was doing at times.  Granted, some of the incompletions were not his fault, but there were two glaring issues that drove me nuts.  The first is his timing on any timing route: it’s awful and the ball was on our receivers well before their heads ever turned around.  That needs to change pronto.  Same with the air mailing of balls into the endzone.  Crist seems beyond terrified to throw an INT in the endzone, which is good, but not to the point to where damn near every ball thrown into it has a better chance of being caught by a fan than your own man.  Also, there is no shame in throwing a pick on a Hail Mary to end the game–let your receivers try to make a miracle happen.  Finally, remember what I said last week about Crist going into panic mode under pressure? Rewatch his pick if you can stomach it because that was full blown panic mode and beyond a terrible decision (except this time instead of running it like he should have, he threw it…go figure).

And to end the rant, we get to Michael Floyd who is firmly planted my shit-list for the time being.  Yes, I have been in his corner big time since he’s been here, but this game pissed me off.  It wasn’t just the drops, which was very un-Floyd like to begin with, but it was him pulling a Shaq Evans during the Alma Mater.  I’m not sure if NBC had any footage of it (and I doubt it since I saw no mentions on it on Twitter), and I couldn’t get a good enough shot myself on my phone from my seat; however, sure enough, there he stood, helmet on, and started to jog into the tunnel as “Love thee Notre Dame” was sung.  Selfish attitude needs to go dude.  I’m sure you are pissed that you got zero chance to make a play on the ball at game’s end or even possibly at your own crappy performance throughout; however, those actions look completely selfish and have no place on the field.  It looked like he was hanging his QB and team out to dry and that’s just shameful.  I expect far better from him as a supposed leader of this team.

I’m calling it now, if Floyd doesn’t come out against MSU with a different attitude and playing like his life depended on it, I fear for his production the rest of the season.  I might be overreacting, but keep in mind, I’ve had to deal with T.O. before.  I know Floyd is seeing far more double coverage, but he isn’t playing like himself at all as of now and his actions during the Alma Mater have be beyond worried about where his head is at.

I do really hate that most of this post is a giant rant because there are some positives to be had here.  I just hate losing games that I feel we should have won.  Rudolph’s 95 yard TD should have been a shining example on how easy it should’ve been to carve Michigan up, even with limited play time from Crist.  This team is growing and as I said in my preview, the holes we have are now exposed.  They aren’t horrendous and these players will continue to grow.

I’m going to try to do some statistical analysis from the last two games soon and do some emotionless blogging to get another perspective on where we are at.  I won’t promise BGS quality, but I’ll give it a damn good shot.  It’ll be therapeutic after a loss like this.

God, I hate losing to Michigan…