The State of the Program

We have officially entered the put up or shut up phase of Brady Hoke’s tenure. This season, which started with so much promise, ended Saturday with more questions than answBoba Fetters. We are left to pick up the pieces of another disappointing 4+ loss campaign, and while the team is largely young (how many times have we heard that the past 5 years???) an offensive line that has been destroyed much of the year, loses its best two players. A receiving corps loses two of its top three receivers. ‎Like his play or not, you lose your top RB in terms of yards in Fitz Touissant.

While I’m not a “call sports radio and demand my coach be fired” kind of guy, I believe in excellence for my Alma mater. Both on and off the field. When Dave Brandon completed his “process”, he hired Brady Hoke, and paraded him in front of the world. Told us how he had the man that would lead Michigan for the foreseeable future. Brady stands up, talks about how he would have walked here, how Michigan is an elite job and an elite program. I mean, this is “Michigan, Fergodsakes.”  And while he is right, that it is a program that has an elite history, this program is as far from being elite as any teams in the B1G not named OSU or MSU. But no season ticket holder will argue that they don’t pay like it’s an elite program. And pricing goes up most every year. Even though most fans won’t see an increase in their ticket pricing this year, the 60% or so of them who first got a PSL this year, will get the full rate in 2014 (double what this year’s was).

Now I love Brady Hoke, mind you. Most anyone would send their sons to play for him, merely because there are few who have the integrity that Brady does (which is becoming rarer in college football).  But outside of the offensive line, few can argue that Rich Rodriguez left the cupboard far more full than when he found it, in spite of his obvious issues. Take away a 2011 season where seemingly everything fell Brady’s way, fans have been left holding the bag.  ‎A schedule where most all of their difficult games are on the road next year doesn’t bode too well. It’s time for the staff AND David Brandon to be held accountable. 8-4 and 7-5 are becoming the norm and not the exception. With annual schedules including the likes of UCONN, Akron and CMU on it, 9 wins should be the floor, not the ceiling most years. Michigan is in jeopardy of losing a generation of fans, which in terms of what’s important to the AD, a generation of future donors. Al Glick and Steve Ross won’t live forever, you know. It’s time to put up or shut up in 2014. And that starts today.

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Nebraska Game Prediction

Anyone not still stinging from last week’s brutal beat down by the Spartans in East Lansing must have been on a coma this week. DGreenEvery fear fans had, other than turning the ball over, was experienced time and time again. We’ve known for several weeks that Michigan had issues on the interior of its offensive line and we all hoped that they would gel. Well the doors got blown off t hat one last week.

All is not lost however, Wolverine faithful. Nobody will argue against the fact that MSU has one of the very best, elite defenses in the nation. And also the toughest one Michigan has faced or will face, the duration of the season. What better to come to town after getting your ass kicked? A team that this year is softer than Kleenex. Who is also missing their best offensive player in QB Taylor Martinez and others on both sides of the ball. Nobody confused them with a tough team when they weren’t banged up all over the place, but even more so now.

Now that hopes of a B1G Championship game appearance are doused and on life support at best, it’s time to get other players some snaps. Shane Morris, Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Ben Braden, Taco Charlton, and several others need reps. All are talented, and many have as good or more potential than those starting in front of them. Fitz Toussaint has done some very good things for U of M, but few will stand up to say they don’t want others to get some snaps. Nows is the time to see what you’ve got, both for the last 4+ games of the season, and beyond.

We will find out whether Michigan has the fortitude to bounce back, and I think they will. In fact in a big way.

Michigan 44, Nebraska 21

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Michigan State Game Prediction

The long wait is finally over, the bye week is done, the anticipation has built, and Michigan prepares to travel to East Lansing for another 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness. The toughest, hardest hitting, slugfest of the year. With Paul Bunyan finally home after earning his associates degree at MSU the previous four years, and a situation where Michigan can’t lose and expect to earn a berth in Indianapolis, all is riding on this one. Jeremy Gallon - UMGoBlue.com

Predicting Michigan football is as about as easy as a couch escaping an East Lansing party without third degree burns. With youth, comes inconsistency.  10 guys do a great job on a play and one misses an assignment and the play fails.

The key to this game outside of the turnover battle is Michigan establishing the run with players other than Devin Gardner. Whether it’s the jet sweep with Dennis Norfleet, or between the tackles with Fitz Toussaint and Derrick Green, Michigan must establish some form of a running game.

MSU likes to load the box and leave their corners on islands. Lining Devin Funchess up outside or in the slot, and making him go up and get passes can make them drop their safeties back to prevent that ND further open an inconsistent run game.

Michigan’s defense is better than it has portrayed the past two games, and has a chance to assert itself against an equally puzzling offense. Slowing the run game, which will reduce the Spartan’s play action passing is another key.

In the end, I don’t see MSU scoring more than 20 points offensively, unless they’re set up with short fields by their defense. Can Michigan move the ball effectively and take their shots when given? Michigan will score just enough, and take care of the ball equally as well as MSU, and squeak out a win,

Michigan 21 MSU 20

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Indiana Game Prediction

The anger and pain has finally begun to subside somewhat after last week’s mistake-fest game in Happy Valley, where we watched many of the fears and play of the previous 3 games finally come to end in a loss. Fans hoped and wondered if the ship could be righted and head in the right direction. I think now at the midway point of the season, we know what team 134 is. Will it continue to improve? Probably. Will it get to where fans hope it will, with a downhill rushing attack, play action passing, and the days of the pro style 5 and 7 step drops? More than likely the answer is no. Sadly the inexperienced middle of the offensive line, depth decimated from many reasons including a lack of focus on it in the previous regime, will ultimately be the biggest road block in the progression back to that style of football. When you score 6 points in 4 overtimes against a defense that is porous at best, the realization sinks in.

On the defensive side, lack of a consistent pass rush has been discouraging. They show flashes and it’s entirely possible that as Jake Ryan gets back to being an every down player that it may get the added boost it needs to handle the much more difficult last half of the season. With trips to MSU and Iowa, and home tests with Nebraska and Ohio left, and frankly Indiana and Illinois are no gimmes with the inconsistent play, getting to 8-9 wins is no certainty. That said, improvement along the offensive line and ball protection can turn things around to a certain degree.

I’m expect to see a flat first quarter, one where Indiana takes a lead with its explosive offense, and the hangover from Penn State is still there. Michigan will be ready to play and after adjustments, slows them down. The Hoosiers will score 30+ in my opinion, as Kevin Wilson has done a great job recruiting, but it’s much tougher to pull top notch defensive players to Indiana. Michigan will fight back and will run the ball better than in weeks past. Don’t get too excited if and when they do. It’s got much stiffer tests ahead, and all will not be "fixed". A long ways to go, more improvement will be needed, and the bye week before MSU will be important to heal up for 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness. 

Michigan 44, Indiana 34

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Big Ten Players of the Week

Following Big Ten football games on Oct. 12, the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week and freshman of the week in the Big Ten were announced this morning. Below are this week’s honorees:

Offensive Player of the Week

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State

Jr., RB, Wayne, Mich./John Glenn

· Accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving, in Michigan State’s 42-28 victory over Indiana

· Recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game, totaling 109 yards on 23 carries, scoring on runs of two, five and 32 yards

· Scored on an 11-yard screen pass in the second quarter, adding to his career-best 120 all-purpose yardage in the game

· Wins his first Offensive Player of the Week accolade

· Last Michigan State Offensive Player of the Week: Le’Veon Bell (Nov. 26, 2012)

Defensive Player of the Week

C.J. Olaniyan, Penn State

Jr., DE, Warren, Mich./Warren Mott

· Recorded eight tackles, including a career best 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in Penn State’s quadruple-overtime win over nationally ranked Michigan

· Forced his first career fumble on a second-quarter sack, one of three Michigan turnovers

· Was part of the Penn State defensive effort that accounted for 11 tackles for loss and held the Wolverines to two field goals in four overtime periods

· Claims his first Defensive Player of the Week honor

· Last Penn State Defensive Player of the Week: Jordan Hill (Nov. 26, 2012)

Special Teams Player of the Week

Mike Sadler, Michigan State

Jr., P, Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern

· Posted a Big Ten record for all games of 59.3 yards per punt, totaling 237 yards on four attempts in Michigan State’s win over Indiana

· Recorded a season-long 69-yarder in the fourth quarter, while also booting punts of 44, 56 and 68 yards

· Placed one kick inside the 20, pinning Indiana at its own 10-yard line

· Wins his third Special Teams Player of the Week honor overall and first this season

· Last Michigan State Special Teams Player of the Week: Mike Sadler (Nov. 5, 2012)

Freshman of the Week

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

QB, Palmyra, Va./Fork Union Military Academy

· Threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for the game-tying score with 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against nationally ranked Michigan

· Guided Penn State on an 80-yard touchdown drive with no timeouts and 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, completing three passes for 79 yards and scoring on a one-yard run to force overtime

· Posted his third 300-yard passing game, leaving him three games shy of the program career record

· Wins his third Freshman of the Week accolade

· Last Penn State Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg (Sept. 16, 2013)

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