On the ride back from Northwestern, one of my compatriots received an e-mail from TheWolverine.com with the cryptic message that Artis Chambers had played in games this year while he was ineligible. Knowing that this could mean very bad things, we tried for the remainder of the trip to find out what the deal was, to no avail.
Upon returning, I did some research (yes, I spent my Saturday night looking for football information) and found the following:
Artis Chambers played this year while he was deemed academically ineligible. Somehow, Michigan violated the rules by letting him enroll early even though he wasn't cleared to do so. Chambers played on special teams in the Penn State, Notre Dame, Oregon, and App State games, and played defense in mop-up time in the Notre Dame blowout.
Apparently, however, the only game that was threatened (in terms of forfeiture) was the Penn State game. GBW is reporting that it is unlikely UM will be forced to forfeit the game.
More information, as well as postgame analysis of the Northwestern victory, will be coming later.
I am going to Northwestern this afternoon for the game tomorrow. Expect fun updates with lots of pictures and stuff. I will probably make fun of nerds to almost the degree that I do it when I'm in Ann Arbor (zing!).
Kenny Demens moved to "lean." He announces tomorrow (oddly, during the NW game). Removed a few guys committed elsewhere. Moved Brandom Smith and Vaughn Telamaque to leans. Moved J.B. Fitzgerald to committed (has it really been that long since I've done a recruiting post?
If you thought Brandon Graham's performance on Saturday (3 tackles, 1.5 sacks, FF, FR) had Anthony Morelli ready to file an assault charge, you'd only be taking into account what a hardened criminal the Michigan defensive end is.
No, Graham is a cold, hard, ...court date non-attendee? A warrant has been issued for Graham's arrest, though the article linked states that he will likely not be arrested unless pulled over on another traffic charge. It is likely that this issue will be resolved soon, and will be no big deal to the football team.
As I may have implied (or even stated outright, I don't remember) in this space, I am currently interning for the Big Ten Network for a semester. I have also interned in the past for ESPN, and for the past two weeks, I have worked for them again. The quality not only of the product, but also of the working environment between the two companies is night and day.
Working for the Big Ten Network (I've done it once this year, for the Appalachian State game) is not good at all. When I work for them, I'm honestly embarrassed to be associated with such a poorly run organization. The supervisors have no fucking clue what they're doing, and employees doing work that is contracted out don't show up (or, more likely, the BTN forgot to hire some).
ESPN, on the other hand, is run smoothly. Fair enough, they've been around for 20-some odd years, compared to the BTN's 1. However, I could literally step in and do a better job than many of the production-side employees at Big Ten Network than they do. The same could not be said for ESPN. When there is nothing for a runner to do at ESPN, it is because there really is nothing to do. At Big Ten Network, there is work to be done, but the supervisors just have no clue what the hell they're doing.
ESPN is organized and efficient, and the Big Ten Network is, like, shitty.
Unlike Tim, I was at the game on my student ticket sitting standing in section 29, row 23. I have to say the crowd got pretty loud around me, but there were the requisite douchebag Michigan fans.
What really got me was the kid in front of me on third down did the key play thingy without any keys. He was doing all the bad parts of the key play without the small benefit of the noise made from jingling keys.
I decided to once again pocket some change and buy a water bottle on the way to the game. By the second Penn State drive I was nicely hydrated and had the loudest noisemaker $1.19 can buy. I have to say, if the entire student section did this (a la OSU 2005), it could make a difference. I can even give it a stupid name in order for people like it. Third down is no longer a "key play", but rather a "game changing play." Hell, you could probably get a bank to sponsor free water bottles at the gates.
The biggest cheer of the game probably came when Mike Hart limped off the field, and then ran back on after the time out. No matter what Hart does, he energizes the fans. There were fewer than normal people who wanted to throw the ball every single down. People are starting to realize that the best game plan is turning around and giving the ball to Hart.
I got a text message from my buddy (formerlyannonymous) in the third quarter saying "Omg fullback shuffle misdirection" I felt the same way.
Finally, after wins, one of my favorite things to do is read through the open thread on MGoBlog. When you know the story has a happy ending you can smile knowingly at how (justifiably) bi-polar we Michigan fans are. There was one quick back and forth that had me falling out of my chair:
Our space emmporer should start aiming for the corners. Mike74 | 09.22.07 - 4:30 pm | #
There are no corners in space KBlow | 09.22.07 - 4:31 pm | #
It could just be because I'm taking a course on the philosophy of space and time, but I prefer to think Michigan fans are just damn witty.
I worked for ESPN again this weekend, so I didn't get to watch the whole game, but ehre are some things I observed:
Mike Hart is, like, really good at the football.
Brandon Graham is really good as well. I think the lack of his presence in the first couple games really contributed to the defensive struggles.
Morgan Trent has turned into a legit #1 corner (not lockdown, but how many true lockdown guys are there in college?). Now if only there was a good second guy.
The maize out was pathetic again. I don't give a fuck if you started liking Tom Brady after he won the Super Bowl MVP, and went out and bought his Michigan jersey. Your ticket says to wear maize for a reason. That said, the gold-colored shirts that Steve and Barry's sells also look like complete shit.
The crowd noise was pretty good, especially when it counted. As someone who has fairly high standards in that regard, I was pleasantly surprised.
A ton of people left between the end of the second and the end of the third quarters. Almost every single one I saw was a student, 95% female, and 90% sorority girls among those.
Ryan Mallett has more to learn to be a true starter, but he is a pleasure to watch, because it is obvious he is having fun out there, and is excited to be playing.
How many times has a game had four left-footed kick specialists? I'd guess one.
Johnny Sears removed from the eligibility chart, as he has been removed from the team, per Lloyd's Monday press conference. In all honesty, Sears was a pretty bad corner anyway, so if this affects the team, it will be in a positive way, by giving Donovan Warren more playing time. Sears had all the physical tools, but couldn't put the game together mentally, likely because he killed half of his brain cells doing drugs. This video was made in honor of his shitty performance in the App. State game, but now I think it applies in even more contexts.
The number of scholarships for the 2008 recruiting class grows larger once more in this, the year of infinite attrition.
Ryan Mallett looked better than Jimmy Clausen. He made more little mistakes, but also didn't throw into coverage consistently, like Clausen did, and completed a variety of passes.
The only truly downfield pass I recall Clausen completing was the 14-yard slant in the first half, which was really a 5 yard pass with 9 YAC. Almost all of Clausen's yardage came from swing or screen passes. Oh, and he completed a hopeless bomb to Stevie Brown. Mallett, on the other hand, made a variety of throws, both downfield and short. Obviously, a big part of his success was the talent around him compared to Clausen, but he did apear to be the better passer in the game. That said, a little bird told me that Henne will probably be able to go next week. Said bird also told me that Henne's sitting against Notre Dame was more to ensure he'd be healthier to play PSU than because he would have been physically unable to perform against the Irish.
A big part of Michigan's success in this game was based on being able to get to the quarterback, which really hadn't happened in games 1 & 2. While this improvement is encouraging, it was based on multiple factors:
Clausen was poised when throwing screens, not so poised when getting crushed before he had a chance to pass it.
Notre Dame's offensive line is terrible.
Brandon Graham was healthy enough to play the whole game.
Notre Dame runs a pro-style offense.
Factors 1 & 2 won't apply against Penn State. Morelli is a senior, and will be able to make better decisions than Clausen (in theory). It will be interesting to see if the memory (or lack thereof) of the Michigan game last year will haunt him. Penn State also returns 4 offensive linemen, all except left tackle Levi Brown. Notre Dame has yielded many more sacks than PSU through 3 games (9, 6, and 8 for a grand total of 23, compared to PSU's 2, 2, and 1 for a total of 5). Of course, caliber of defense must be taken into account as well, as Michigan is likely to get to the quarterback much better than Buffalo, Notre Dame, or FIU.
The positive factors are 3 & 4. Graham will hopefully stay healthy enough for the rest of the season to be a factor in every remaining game. This will allow Shawn Crable play linebacker, which he can, instead of defensive end, which he cannot. Other players coming back from injury this week included Jonas Mouton, who only played on special teams, though he'll hopefully be able to slot in at WLB before the year is through.
The rest of the defense played better as well. This included good games from Chris Graham (which is probably not a reliable indicator of future performance, because he isn't very good), and Brandent Englemon, who solidified his starting position over Stevie Brown. Brown will improve at the position over the course of the year, and will hopefully be ready for starting action next season. Morgan Trent again had a very good game, showing that he is capable of the improvement that now-allegedly-departed Johnny Sears so failed to show.
This week, I was not in the stadium (worked out in the concourse for ESPN: more on that later), but I have heard from multiple sources, including commenters, that the atmosphere in the stadium was much better. The maize out looked pretty good in the student section on TV (but then, they always do).
If Michigan's woes in the early season are a source of much frustration, at least there is the ever-so-slight consolation that Notre Dame has started 0-2 as well.
This Saturday, the two winningest programs in college football history will battle for their first victory of the year.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that both Michigan and Notre Dame will be starting freshman quarterbacks, the top two recruits in the 2007 class. Charlie Weis named Jimmy Clausen as Notre Dame's starter going into the Penn State game, feeling the Emu gave the Irish the best chance to win, both now and in the future. Michigan's starter will be Ryan Mallett, not by choice, but because starter Chad Henne suffered a leg injury against Oregon.
It will be interesting to see if Weis changes his mind on starters, going with Demetrius Jones after viewing game film on Michigan's pathetic performance against scramblers in the last two contests.
This is a prime opportunity for Michigan to get their first win, since, as poorly as the Wolverines have played, Notre Dame is just bad. Mike Hart is among the confident players wearing Maize-and Blue, as he guaranteed victory against the Irish following the Oregon embarrassment.
Even in the first quarter, when Michigan was winning or the game was at least close, the fan noise was pathetic. The Ducks, used to the mayhem of Autzen, must have been laughing at the poor effort.
Ryan Mallett looked OK in his time in action, about as expected for a true freshman. Hopefully, when he is pressed into starting action next week, he will be able to step up his game, outplay Jimmy Clausen, and beat the Irish.
Pressed into starting action, you ask? Chad Henne suffered a lower leg injury in the second half, and, for he first time in his Michigan career, will not play a game.
The defense again stiffened up in the second half, but they need to come together before that to not let games get out of hand.
The defensive line is adequate but not great, the linebackers are a notch below that, and the secondary, aside from Morgan Trent (pleasant surprise of the year so far), and to a lesser degree the safeties, is pathetic.
The offense is able to move the ball, but too many mistakes, including penalties, prevent them from finishing.
Playing Oregon exposed the lack of creativity in the Michigan coaching staff. The Ducks ran reverses, Statue of Liberty plays, and even a fake statue to QB Draw.
Why the hell was halftime so long? The marching band finished in about 10 minutes, and nothing happened for another 10. A blowout like this game shouldn't have lasted nearly 4 hours.
This actually happened. At least for the rest of this year, the scourge of having lost to a 1-AA team will be hanging over the ehads of Michigan Wolverine players and fans. For players, it may provide the extra motivation they so clearly lacked yesterday. For fans, there is no recourse but to take the abuse from others, and hope to run the table the rest of the way.
Observations on the game:
Chad Henne had his worst day (by far) that I've observed. He was missing deep balls, making bad reads, throwing across his body, etc.
Mike Hart carried the team, despite being out for most of the game. Brandon Minor has yet to learn how to find a hole.
The defensive line was bad. The inside zone handoff was a guaranteed three yards for App St. the entire first half, and was still moderately effective in the second. Brandon Graham was in the doghouse and played limited snaps.
As expected, the secondary sucked. Stevie Brown and Johnny Sears were major liabilities. Morgan Trent was much improved over last year.
The coaching was bad. Sure, Brandon Minor isn't cut out for the zone game unless there is a gaping hole, but you have one of the biggest offensive lines in the country, and you're playing a bunch of guys who don't breach 300 pounds. Just pound the ball all game.
We are back to not being able to stop a mobile quarterback. Scary, considering we're playing Dennis Dixon next week.
The fans were pathetic except during the late 3rd and early 4th quarters.
I was interning for the Big Ten network. It is a poorly run organization at every level. Don't expect it to last longer than a year.
Halfway through, I switch to the royal "we." I'm too depressed to go back and fix it. I hope to god that this year isn't 2005 redux.