We have shared the story of Vincent Smith’s urban garden project a few times. With a little over a week remaining in their indiegogo campaign to raise money for the project, we are making one last push. They’re still well short of their goal of $30,000, which will expand the garden that is already in place and provide programming for all of 2014.
Thanksgiving is next week, but many of the residents of Pahokee don’t have access to, or can’t afford, healthy food. Smith, along with Martavious Odoms and Brandin Hawthorne, are working to change that. Please consider donating to help this group of Michigan Men improve their hometown.
Posts Tagged ‘Martavious Odoms’
If not for Blake Countess’ pick-six last Saturday, my score prediction would have been dead-on, but I’ll gladly take an extra seven points and a defensive touchdown over getting my prediction exactly right. Now if it had been a Minnesota score to ruin my pick that would be a different story. But Michigan’s 42-13 win over Minnesota was exactly what the Wolverines needed to put the Akron and UConn games behind them.
Now, Michigan gets a chance to make a statement with a big win on the road. Penn State certainly isn’t a powerhouse at this point, but they are better than every team Michigan has faced this season save Notre Dame and the Wolverines’ recent road woes – 10-18 since 2008 – make nothing a sure bet. Is Michigan in danger of its first loss of the season? Let’s take a look at our picks:
Justin: Jake Ryan returns from injury and immediately turns Michigan’s defense into a juggernaut. He leads the Wolverines with 15 tackles, two sacks, and picks off a pass and Michigan cruises to a 42-0 win.
Ok, so that probably won’t happen, but it will be great to see Ryan back on the filed even if only briefly to start getting him re-acclimated to game action before the brutal November schedule hits. He likely won’t play enough to make much of an impact on the game, but if Michigan plays the way it’s capable of playing it shouldn’t need him in this one anyway.
Michigan has more weapons to go around, especially with the move of Devin Funchess to wideout, opening up the field for Devin Gardner. His big game last week will force opposing defenses to respect the downfield passing game in a way they haven’t had to until this point, which means the running game will be more effective. The insertion of Chris Bryant into the lineup last week gave Michigan the ability to run more of a power running game and Indiana had some success running right at Penn State last week when it wasn’t throwing the ball.
Defensively, Michigan will give Hackenberg the short, underneath throws and try to prevent the big plays to Allen Robinson. Look for Greg Mattison to dial up some pressure to force the young quarterback to make quick decisions and ultimately lead to turnovers.
The team that wins the turnover battle will win this game and with the expanded offense Gardner has at his disposal combined with the youth of Hackenberg, I think that will be Michigan.
Michigan 31 – Penn State 20
Chris: Penn State recovers from their loss last week and plays well at home, but it’s not enough.
Michigan 28 – Penn State 21
Josh: Please see yesterday’s Friend vs Foe for my full breakdown.
Michigan 38 – Penn State 17
Sam: With the non-conference season in the rearview mirror and one win already in the books, the Michigan Wolverines take to the road for the second time in their 2013 football campaign. Three weeks and two games ago, Michigan made the trip to East Hartford, Connecticut for a night game against UConn that proved to be much closer than expected. With a record crowd of 42,704 watching at Rentschler Field, Devin Gardner overcame four awful turnovers and a 14-point third quarter deficit to lead the Maize and Blue to a 24-21 nail-biting win.
This Saturday, the visiting Wolverines will once again be playing under the lights (for the third time already this season), but in an environment that figures to be much crazier this time around in Happy Valley against Penn State. With a putrid crowd of nearly 93,000 against Eastern Michigan earlier this year, one of the smallest since 2001, and an all-time record of 110,753 in 2002, Beaver Stadium will be rocking in white-out fashion.
Luckily for Brady Hoke and his Michigan squad, Penn State is struggling through their second year of heavy sanctions to the tune of a 3-2 record. Already with a loss to Central Florida four weeks ago and a 44-24 beatdown suffered at Indiana last week, the once-proud Lions are certainly beatable this year. But if you combine Michigan’s inconsistency, a Bill O’Brien-coached offense at Penn State, and a raucous night crowd, you will find a game that will likely be up for grabs.
Christian Hackenberg, O’Brien’s star freshman quarterback, has been very good at times and sports a 60 percent completion mark and a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio; unfortunately experience is not on his side, and Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will be throwing different looks at Hackenberg all night. Penn State will also have a trio of running backs in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch who have big-play ability and all gain more than four yards per carry, but Michigan has been solid against the run for the better part of the year.
Last week’s insertion of Chris Bryant into the starting lineup at left guard seemed to open up some running lanes for Fitzgerald Toussaint, but even more surprising was a stacked offensive look with Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, and Bryant all lined up to the left of center Graham Glasgow.
If Michigan trots out in that power formation again, expect to see some play action open up deep for quarterback Devin Gardner. On paper, Michigan has been the much better team so far, but these two squads should be battling into the fourth quarter with a critical win on the line. Vegas opened the books favoring Michigan by just one point, and still Michigan is giving less than a field goal to the Nittany Lions with a -2.5-point margin.
Michigan’s confidence should be back, however, after a big win over Minnesota last week, and Penn State is still playing for pride alone. Hackenberg will throw for two touchdowns but will also lose a crucial second half turnover that Michigan will take advantage of on the way to a Wolverine win.
Michigan 31 – Penn State 24
Derick: Michigan will face it’s toughest opposing crowd of the season Saturday after nearly failing the first road test in Connecticut. If Rentschler Field was a tough venue for Team 134 to play in then Beaver Stadium will provide a very rude awakening.
Fortunately for the Wolverines the running game perked up after the shift in the offensive line and stabilized a struggling offense. Devin Gardner looked comfortable running both the play action and bootleg screens with Fitzgerald Toussaint picking up solid gains on first and second down. If he can take care of the football and make the easy passes then the defense should be able to carry the Maize and Blue to victory.
Though Happy Valley proves a tough test, I think Greg Mattison will have something prepared for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Michigan wins the turnover battle and as a result, improves to 6-0.
Michigan-31 Penn State-24
Katie: So the Wolverines are 5-0 but it doesn’t quite feel that way. After two tough weeks where backups should have seen playing time but instead were left to watch as their teammates played for their B10 Championship lives, a win against Minnesota doesn’t exactly cleanse the palate. It was a good win, but a victory in Happy Valley is a most necessary followup. And considering that the Nittany Lions are 3-2, with a loss last week to the Hoosiers, the outlook is rather good for the Wolverines to continue undefeated.
But the Nittany Lions have been amassing more than a fair share of offensive yards per game, averaging 475. With a starter out for Michigan in Ondre Pipkins, the Wolverines could certainly use someone who is arguably the best player on the defense, Jake Ryan. to return. The counter to racking up so many yards per game however, is how many the Penn State defense is allowing. Against Indiana, the Lions gave up 486 yards and lost 24-44. If Michigan can put Penn on its heels early, with consistent throws and a good running game, they should be able to dig the Lions into a pit they can’t claw out of. The key for the Wolverines will be to do better on 3rd down percentage defensively. If the Nittany Lions aren’t able to rack up a series of long drives, it isn’t likely that their defense will be able to hold Michigan. I’ve got the Wolverines winning this one, even given the hostile crowd they will be playing in front of (fingers crossed that Gardner doesn’t get rattled, or that Morris would be ready at the helm if he is).
Michigan 35 Penn State 21
For more coverage of this week’s game, see: Michigan-Penn State game preview; this week’s edition of Friend vs Foe with Jared Slanina and Bill DiFlippo of the Penn State SB Nation blog Black Shoe Diaries; Monday’s First Look: Penn State, and this week’s Five-Spot Challenge. We also featured a new urban garden campaign by Vincent Smith, Martavious Odoms, and Brandin Hawthorne to expand their Pahokee garden and build one in Denard Robinson’s hometown of Deerfield Beach, Fla. Finally, Alexandra showcased some great maize and blue fashion that you can find in and around Ann Arbor to look great on gameday.
Back in February, you helped fund Vincent Smith’s painting project with the youth of Pahokee, Fla. Prior to that, the Michigan faithful helped fund he and Martavious Odoms’ #Eating project in which they built an urban garden for the town of Pahokee. Now, the duo is back along with fellow former Michigan football player and Pahokee native, Brandin Hawthorne. And this time, another familiar face has joined in: Denard Robinson.
The group along with Team Eating just launched another campaign, this time on Indiegogo, to continue and expand the community gardens program they have already started. This campaign has three goals. First, to expand the Pahokee garden that is already up and running. Second, to add a community garden in Denard’s home town of Deerfield Beach, Fla. And finally, to add a community garden somewhere in Michigan.
Each of the three goals carries a different monetary threshold, so if $30,000 is raised the first goal will be funded, if $80,000 is raised the second will, and if $120,000 all three will be. With indiegogo, the Pahokee crew has 60 days to fund their project as opposed to the 30 days that the previous Kickstarter projects allotted and there are currently 52 days remaining. The other difference between this one and the previous Kickstarter campaigns is that Team Eating will receive all funds donated even if the project does not reach its goal.
You may be asking yourself, ‘I already donated to the previous one, why should I donate to this again?’ or ‘why should I give them my money?’. Well first of all, perhaps you’ve never been to Pahokee. I have. It’s poor, it’s hot, there’s not much around, and there isn’t a whole lot to do. There’s no major grocery store in town. It was once the winter vegetable capital of the world, but now business have closed and unemployment is nearly 30 percent. The per capita income is just over $12,000 and over 30 percent of the population is below the poverty line. Only nine percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree and the crime rate is about double the U.S. average.
Pahokee has been well publicized for its ability to produce football stars. Aside from Smith, Odoms and Hawthrone, several NFL stars have come from the Muck including Anquan Boldin, Fred Taylor, Janoris Jenkins, Pernell McPhee, and Reidel Anthony among others. The fact is football provides a way out, a way to become successful and avoid the pitfalls that abound in the small town that borders Lake Okeechobee.
While Boldin, Jenkins, and McPhee are busy making a living in the NFL, Smith, Odoms, and Hawthorne are dedicating their time to improving the quality of life in their hometown. They are using the garden as an opportunity to provide jobs, job training, and activities for the local youth. They’re using it as a chance to teach elementary grade students about healthy living, nutrition, and teamwork. All the while growing food to provide for the community.
Regardless of your political affiliation, we can all agree that in a time when America’s economy is struggling, people like Smith, Odoms, and Hawthorne are just what we need more of. People willing to invest their time into improving their communities and provide jobs and better education to ensure a better future for the youth.
The fact that the three played football at Michigan, got their degrees, and are putting them to use for the greater good should be reason enough to invest in them. We rooted for them on Saturdays, so why not root for them in life beyond the gridiron as well?
The campaign offers perks for your contributions. For example, a $1 donation gets you an email with photos from the garden; a $12 donation gets you an autographed post card from Smith; a $25 donation gets you an #Eating t-shirt; a $55 donation gets you an #Eating hoodie, and so on.
So why donate? Perhaps it’s an opportunity to teach your kids the value of giving back. Or simply a chance to support some former Michigan athletes that gave it their all for the team you root for and are now giving it their all for their community and the next generation. Or maybe you just want a cool new t-shirt to wear around campus. Whatever the reason, please consider helping them out and together we can be a part of the solution.
First it was former Michigan receiver Martavious Odoms’ #EATING campaign in which he crowd-funded nearly $40,000 from 999 backers in order to plant a community garden in his hometown of Pahokee, Fla. Then, we brought you the story of of former Wolverine running back Vincent Smith’s campaign to fund a painting day of fun for the kids of Pahokee. He successfully raised over $2,700 from 93 backers.
Now, a third former Michigan football player from the small Florida town is running a Kickstarter campaign of his own. Former linebacker Brandin Hawthorne is asking for $75,000 to make a documentary about Michigan football and the “great tradition of tailgating in Ann Arbor.”
From his Kickstarter page, Hawthorne writes:
“Being a student athlete at a major university we never get to enjoy the festivities that all our fans celebrate, from things like welcome week and tailgating on Saturdays, to all of our different homecoming events and just hanging with the fans and enjoying the moment.
“We have been busy with our community art and garden projects down in Florida and we wanted to take the fall to also connect with our Michigan community. Football is what brings us together, so we decided to make a video that we can share with everyone. We have heard about what goes on during the weekends and how much fun it is and now its time to explore what makes you all the best fans in the world.”
While Odoms’ and Smith’s projects were focused on the well-being of the residents of Pahokee, Hawthorne’s focuses on you, the fans of Michigan football.
It includes Hawthorne and Smith visiting tailgating spots around the stadium checking out your recipes and barbecuing skills, exploring your personal Michigan football gameday traditions, holding a costume contest looking for the biggest fan, and seeking out and feature “the best” tailgate in Ann Arbor.
As with all Kickstarter campaigns, prizes are awarded for donating certain amounts. This one is a bit more personal and interactive than most, with a $45 donation earning a trampoline dodgeball with Hawthorne and Smith, a $50 donation getting a kayak/canoe trip with the two, a $65 donation earning a day of paintball with them, and higher donations earning personalized voicemails or the chance to partner with Hawthorne or Smith on the kayak/canoe trip. Smaller donations receive t-shirts, water bottles, autographed post cards, or copies of the DVD.
With only 25 days remaining in the campaign, they need a lot of help getting it funded, so take a few minutes to help out some former Wolverines.
He’s as good as advertised
Last Friday night I had the chance to go see the nation’s top receiver, and one of Michigan’s top remaining targets, LaQuon Treadwell, play in person. His Crete Monee Warriors played previously unbeaten Glenbard South and came away with a dominating 45-7 win. Treadwell racked up 181 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches through three quarters of play. With such a big lead, he didn’t play the fourth.
Treadwell’s team is loaded with talent, most notably linebacker Nyles Morgan, fellow receiver Lance Lenoir, and defensive back Jaylen Dunlap, but it was ever apparent that the offensive game plan could have simply been to throw it to Treadwell on every single play. And it would be just as effective. But in a team sport on a squad with other Division 1 prospects, they have to spread the wealth.
For a high school senior, he has perfect size, good hands, and enough shiftiness to turn a crossing route into a 75-yard touchdown. I was skeptical prior to the game. After all, how good can this kid be? But I was impressed. I guess that’s why the kid has offers from nearly every school in the country. Florida receivers coach Bush Hamdan (far right in photo) was on hand and Oklahoma State will be there this week. Treadwell visited Ole Miss on Saturday and would be a huge pick up if Brady Hoke is able to land him.
Treadwell also plays safety and kicker for the Warriors. At safety, he seemed to shy away from contact, and the one time he tried to make a big hit, he whiffed on the receiver who then ran untouched for an 84-yard touchdown. But that doesn’t take away from Treadwell’s receiving skills as he’s clearly a receiver first and foremost.
His teammate, Morgan, may have been the most impressive player on the field that night. He has offers from Michigan State, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Illinois, and Purdue, with interest from several others, including Michigan and Alabama. He’s currently just a junior, so he’ll be one to watch next season. He visited MSU last weekend. Please don’t end up there.
I’ve been meaning to pump the #Eating fundraiser for some time now, but it kept slipping my mind. Now that I’ve remembered, it has already reached its goal. But that doesn’t have to stop you from donating to this great cause.
If you’re not aware of it yet, it’s a project by former Michigan receiver Martavious Odoms. He’s trying to start a community garden in his hometown of Pahokee, Florida to “create jobs and provide job training, as well as provide positive activities for the youth.”
If you don’t know much about Pahokee, it’s a relatively poor town in south Florida with higher than average crime rates, but has produced an astonishing number of big time athletes. Unemployment rates are currently around nine percent and the percentage of college graduates is very low as well. Regardless of political affiliation, this is a cause to get behind since it involves one of our very own Wolverines serving and giving back to his community.
While the goal has already been met, there’s nothing that says Hope for Pahokee doesn’t need more. If you’re leery about where the funds will go, you can read about it on the Kickstarter page. Hope for Pahokee is using Urban Greenworks of Miami, which has successfully installed five urban gardens in Miami, to facilitate the project.
We’ve talked previously about the Legends jerseys that will be awarded this season and our view on them. I, like many others, thought Craig Roh was the logical choice to get Ron Kramer’s No. 87, but it was awarded to senior tight end Brandon Moore on Saturday afternoon. The previous week, Bennie Oosterbaan’s No. 47 was awarded to sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan. This clears up a couple of things. First, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an upperclassman. Secondly, with Moore, it doesn’t have to be a star or a player who has made major contributions on the field.
It appears that the jerseys will be sought after by the players who get the distinction of wearing a jersey that commemorates a Michigan football legend and a special locker in the locker room. That means Desmond Howard’s No. 21, which was worn by Junior Hemingway last season and Roy Roundtree this year will likely be given to someone else next year, as will Kramer’s 87 that Moore will done for the remainder of 2012.
The next question is, who will be awarded Gerald Ford’s No. 48 and the Wistert brothers’ No. 11? Since it appears that each of them will, in fact, be awarded, my vote for 48 now goes to senior center Elliott Mealer. Unfortunately, unless Michigan can get the rules changed, which is highly unlikely, it has to go to a quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back, or linebacker. So how about Desmond Morgan? Like Ryan, he’s a young starting linebacker and plays the type of hard-nosed defense that would make ford, the former center, proud.
No. 11 also falls into the same number classification under NCAA guidelines, so my vote goes to Devin Funchess. Would the coaching staff give it to a freshman? Would they give it to another tight end? I’d say at this point it’s probably unlikely, but given the potential star ability of Funchess, it would be great to see. If not, how about sophomore quarterback Russell Bellomy? He’s likely to be the starting quarterback next season and according to Sports Illustrated, the best player to ever wear No. 11 in the NFL was Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin. But watching the Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald pull down touchdown passes in No. 11, I can’t help but think how great it would look on Funchess before he makes a name for himself in 19.
At the beginning of the season, new head coach Brady Hoke took a page out of Lloyd Carr’s book to set the tone for the season. When Hoke was an assistant at Michigan, Carr gave the 1997 team pickaxes during the national championship season to symbolize climbing a mountain, based on the book “Into Thin Air.” This year, Hoke themed the season after SEAL Team 6, which brought down and eliminated Osama Bin Laden at the beginning of May. The correlation was teamwork and unity. Each and every member of the team was in this together.
Prior to the Nebraska game a week ago, Hoke had a group of Navy SEALs speak to the team and provide inspiration. The team was given actual tridents that the SEALs wear. On Saturday, Team 132 stepped off the team bus wearing the tridents around their neck and proceded to fight for 60 minutes to achieve the supreme mission it set out for when the season began: beat Ohio.
The seven-year plague the Buckeyes strolled into Ann Arbor with had not been lost on maize and blue faithful across the country and even though the season was a bust for OSU, everyone knew they would put up a fight in college football’s greatest rivalry. No one, however, expected what was about to ensue.
Ohio State took the ball to start the game and came out passing. An offense that hadn’t thrown the ball more than 18 times in a single game all season and slumbered through the first 11 games looked like a force to be reckoned with, whipping the ball around the field.
It was clear from the outset that the tendencies broken by OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman were not expected by Hoke and Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison. On the Buckeyes’ first possession, freshman quarterback Braxton Miller found a wide open Corey Brown for a 54-yard touchdown to stun the Big House crowd. On the play, safety Thomas Gordon broke on the inside receiver, DeVier Posey, and no one followed Brown.
In the second quarter, Miller broke loose and ran for a 19-yard touchdown, and on the ‘Bucks next possession Miller connected with Posey for a 43-yard touchdown – the second long touchdown pass of the game against a Michigan defense that hadn’t given up big plays all season.
Miller played a great game for a true freshman in his first Ohio State-Michigan game, but missed a number of wide open receivers that could have sealed Michigan’s fate. And that was the difference in this game. While Miller played well and took advantage of Michigan’s defensive mistakes but couldn’t make the big plays when needed, Denard Robinson silenced his critics with the best game of his career.
Robinson threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Most impressive is that he had as many touchdowns as incompletions. He connected on 14 of 17 passes and looked in complete control of the offense all game. Aside from a second quarter fumble that gave Ohio the ball at the Michigan 31 and resulted in an OSU touchdown, Robinson turned in the type of performance that has made legends out of the rivalry over the years.
He became just the fourth Michigan quarterback to throw for three touchdowns against Ohio State – the first since Drew Henson in 2000 – and his 170 rushing yards were the third-highest total for a Michigan rusher in The Game, behind only Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 in 1995 and Jamie Morris’ 210 in ’86.
But while Robinson accounted for all of Michigan’s touchdowns and the majority of the total yards, he didn’t do it all alone. Fitz Toussaint rushed for 120 yards on 20 carries – his third straight 100-yard game – and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Robinson and Toussaint became the first Michigan duo to record 1,000-yard seasons since Gordon Bell (1,388) and Rob Lytle (1,030) did it in 1975.
In addition to Robinson’s and Toussaint’s performances, the receiving corps player perhaps its best game of the season. Each receiver was sharp and held onto all of the catchable balls. Whether it was Junior Hemingway coming back to catch Michigan’s first touchdown or Martavious Odoms catching a bullet in traffic and weaving through five defenders into the end zone or Drew Dileo hauling in a 28-yarder on Michigan’s final drive, they all came to play.
Defensively, while the 34 points allowed were the most given up all season, credit has to be given to the unit that tightened up in the second half, allowing just 10 points, and made the stop to seal the win. Michigan sacked Miller four times and freshman linebacker Desmond Morgan led the team with 10 tackles. On the outside, freshman cornerback Blake Countess made a great leaping pass break-up in the first quarter on what would have been a long gain, and Courtney Avery picked Miller off to end the game.
Credit is also due to placekicker Brendan Gibbons who made just 1-of-5 field goals last season, but stepped up with a clutch 43-yard field goal with two minutes remaining to force the Buckeyes to have to drive the length of the field and score a touchdown instead of a field goal.
Twenty three seniors played their final game in the Big House and they exemplify what a Michigan Man is all about. While many of their former teammates left when the going got tough or decided to jump ship early, these 23 men stuck it out through three different head coaches, multiple coordinators and different schemes. It wasn’t easy, but each and every one of them will tell you it was worth it.
When Denard took the final knee and the clock hit zero, the team unity that was built over the last few months on the principles of the Navy SEALs was on display for all to see. Just as the team does at the end of practice every Friday, the ball was thrown up in the air, and when it landed, the entire team fell to the ground, as if a bomb had gone off. It was a fitting display of a Michigan band of brothers playing for each other and overcoming adversity. And just like SEAL Team 6 ended Bin Laden’s reign of corruption in the middle east and dumped his body out to sea, Michigan’s Team 132 put an end to Ohio’s seven-year reign in a sea of maize and blue.
The victory, and what is likely to follow in the coming days with the expected hiring of Urban Meyer to become Ohio’s next head coach, restore the vigor to the rivalry that has been in hibernation the past few years. Miller looks to be the real deal for OSU and Robinson will be a senior next season. With Hoke’s reinforced significance on beating Ohio, Mattison’s defensive genius, the youth that has stepped up on Michigan’s defense, and the emergence of Toussaint as a feature back, it’s exciting to look forward to the coming years of Michigan football and beating Ohio yet again.
Until the teams meet 364 days from now in Columbus, Michigan has the upper hand and the bragging rights, and Ohio State will have to figure out a way to win without access to free cars, under the table cash, and free tattoos.
Coming into the season Nebraska was one of the early favorites to win the B1G Ten Legends division. Coming into this weekend’s game Nebraska was still in the running for the top spot in the Legends division and a chance to play in the first ever B1G Ten Championship game. Michigan was having none of it as the Wolverines thumped the Cornhuskers 45-17 en route to their ninth win of the season.
Michigan was in control pretty much from its second series on, although Nebraska made it interesting for a few minutes in the second quarter. But the Wolverine offense and defense played what I thought was their best game overall this year.
Michigan couldn’t get anything going on its first series, going 3-and-out, but Nebraska did the exact same on its first series. On the first play of Michigan’s next drive we saw something we got accustomed to last season, but haven’t seen all that much of this year: a Denard keeper for a big gain. After that, a screen pass and a short run, both by Toussaint gave Michigan another first down. After a short keeper and an incomplete pass, Michigan was faced with 3rd-and-9, but Denard hit Roy Roundtree for a gain of 46 yards. A personal foul penalty moved Michigan inside the 3-yard line, and on 2nd-and-goal Denard faked it to Stephen Hopkins, rolled left, and hit Jeremy Gallon across the middle of the end zone for six points.
Nebraska looked like it was going to get rolling after a first down option keeper by Taylor Martinez went for 11 yards, however, Michigan had other thoughts. Mike Martin stuffed Rex Burkhead, and Kenny Demens had a pass break up on third down to get Michigan the ball back after a punt.
Michigan took over in great field position at its 45-yard line. A play-action found no one open so Denard took off and gained 15. Two straight carries by Toussaint gained 14 yards and set up a Denard keeper for about seven. Denard was almost picked off on a pass attempt to Kelvin Grady and was then sacked for a loss of 13 on 3rd-and-8. Fortunately, Michigan was still within field goal range and Brendan Gibbons nailed through a 42-yarder to put Michigan on top 10-0.
But Nebraska wasn’t ready to lay down and die. On the third play of its next drive, Martinez hit a wide open receiver down the field, who broke a couple tackles then walked into the end zone from 54 yards out. 10-7 Michigan.
Michigan turned the ball over on its next possession as Denard’s pass on a second down was tipped and picked off. Nebraska looked like it was going to squander its opportunity as Jordan Kovacs stuffed Burkhead in the backfield for a loss of five. Faced with a 4th-and-14 Nebraska booted a 51-yarder in to tie the game at 10.
Michigan took over on its own 26 and ran Toussaint a couple times for a first down. A couple plays later, a third down pass to Hemingway kept the drive alive, and then a Denard keeper for eight kept the drive going once again on a third down. A play later, Toussaint broke free for 16 yards, and two plays after that, Denard visited the end zone on a QB keeper up the middle to put Michigan back ahead.
After two straight first down plays Michigan’s defense stepped up, first stuffing Martinez on a keeper for a loss of seven, then Jake Ryan tripped up Martinez as he tried to scramble. Michigan returned the favor and went three-and-out as Denard came up just shy of the marker on third down. Nebraska also went three-and-out and then Michigan ran the clock out to end the half.
Nebraska got the ball to start the second half – or so they thought. Return man Kenny Bell fumbled the ball and Courtney Avery was there to fall on it. Michigan made the most of the turnover, as its has done a lot this season, punching it in for six points a few plays later. The drive was aided by a pass interference that was a bit questionable, but who are we to argue with professional referees? Denard scored his second rushing touchdown of the game and Michigan took a 24-10 lead.
Michigan’s defense held again as Mike Martin stopped Martinez on a 3rd-and-short to force the punt. Punter Brett Maher bobbled the snap and Josh Furman took advantage of the situation, blocking the punt. The ‘Huskers recovered but couldn’t get it past the marker, giving Michigan possession at midfield.
Toussaint took the first two plays and went for 11 and 10 yards, respectively. After the 10-yarder he was hit out of bounds and the officials tacked on another 15 yards to set Michigan up inside the red zone. Denard was stuffed on 3rd-and-1 and Hoke sent the field gaol unit out. However, holder Drew Dileo took the snap and carried the ball down to the 1, setting up first and goal. Toussaint walked in for another Michigan touchdown to blow the game open at 31-10.
After Nebraska went 3-and-out, the punt pinned Michigan back at its own 4-yard line, where the Wolverines proceeded to go 3-and-out as well. Nebraska benefited from the field position game and took over at the Michigan 31. After a Martinez first down through the air, Nebraska ran the same play three straight times – a pitch right to Burkhead. On the third try the ‘Huskers picked up a first down. It was their first third down conversion of the day, with just over a minute and a half to go in the third quarter.
On 2nd-and-goal Martinez handed the ball to Burkhead on an option read but Burkhead pitched it to Ameer Abdullah who took it in for six. That made the score 31-17 Michigan, but there was plenty of time remaining for Nebraska to come back.
In what may have been the most critical play of the game, Michigan received a gift. After being stuffed on third down, Michigan lined up for the punt. Just as the ball left Will Hagerup’s foot, a ‘Husker defender came in and ever so slightly nipped his non-kicking foot as it was off the ground. The officials conferred and ruled it roughing the kicker, and first down Meeeeshigan!
The Wolverines made the most of the gift as Toussaint made some nifty moves on first down for a gain of 13, and then after a snap infraction by Molk, he broke a couple tackles for a gain of 8. On 3rd-and-short, Denard hit Martavious Odoms for the first down, then two plays later for a 38-yard touchdown on a deep pass. 38-17 Michigan.
Nebraska gifted Michigan another fumble on the kickoff return and J.B. Fitzgerald recovered on the ‘Husker 22-yard line. Michigan couldn’t get anything going and was forced into a 4th-and-long field goal attempt from 42 yards out, but Gibbons missed it wide right.
The defense held strong on its next series. Jake Ryan sacked Martinez on second down, and then forced a Martinez fumble on third down, which was recovered by Ryan Van Bergen.
Toussaint capped the scoring as he broke several tackles and broke free for 31-yard touchdown run on Michigan’s first play. 45-17 Michigan.
Nebraska is not a top five team, or maybe not even a top 10 team, but after a complete dominance by Michigan on both sides of the ball, the Wolverines proved they are for real. If there are still doubters about this Michigan team out there, and I know there are, then this performance should have them taking down their ‘fraud flags’ because these Wolverines are not just good, they’re really good. For the first time since 2006 I actually feel good heading in to Ohio week. Heck, I feel better than good, I’m expecting a Michigan win!
Six days after Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced he was firing embattled head coach Rich Rodriguez, the speculation, flight-tracking, and rumor-mongering was put to rest with the announcement of the hiring of Brady Hoke as the 19th head coach in Michigan football history. But while the waiting ended, questions abound as to whether this was the right move.
After proclaiming in last Wednesday’s press conference that he would seek out a “Michigan Man,” Brandon met with Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles, both former Wolverine players under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. Harbaugh was considered the top choice for most Wolverine faithful, and when he accepted the head job with the San Francisco 49ers, Brandon seemingly turned to Miles. While Miles’ ethics were called into question by many Michigan fans, most accepted him as a logical choice to replace Rodriguez given his success at LSU.
We went to bed Monday night expecting Miles to become Michigan’s new head man on Tuesday. However, early Tuesday afternoon, Miles was taken out of consideration when LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva stated, “Les has led this program to many great successes on the field and his players represent LSU well off the field. We look forward to many great years of LSU football under his leadership.”
It didn’t take long before Hoke was named head coach and Michigan fans are left with more questions than answers. Brandon insists Hoke was the guy from the beginning and that Harbaugh and Miles were never even offered the job, but if that’s the case, then Brandon has a lot at stake in the coming years.
Don’t get me wrong; beginning with Hoke’s introductory press conference on Wednesday, I’ll fully back the new coach and root for him to become Michigan’s next Bo. If he can turn the program around, he will certainly become a legend in Ann Arbor. But that doesn’t mean I think it was the right move for the short term or the long term.
For starters, I think Brandon jumped the gun and caved into the pressure in his first year as Michigan’s AD. Of course he will mask it by saying that leaders have to be willing to make tough decisions even when unpopular, but in reality, the pressure from the media and boosters was too much, forcing Brandon’s hand at least a year early.
Rodriguez had improved each season, from 3-9 to 5-7 to 7-6 and a New Years Day bowl game. Granted, the bowl wound up being the worst bowl loss in Michigan history and the three-year stretch is the worst percentage-wise in in Michigan history, but that’s as much a reflection on the original decision to hire him as it is about his ability to coach. Fans, boosters, and alumni were screaming for change when Lloyd Carr retired and then-AD Bill Martin hired just what they wanted. However, it was going to take time, which apparently was never agreed to by those requesting the change. The year-over-year improvement at least warranted a fourth year, given the number of returning starters and the vast amount of youth on the defensive side of the ball. At the very worst, if Rodriguez failed to improve in year four, Hoke would still be available and Brandon could make the decision much earlier in the process than Jan. 11 so as to not hurt the incoming recruiting class.
This is nothing against Hoke as a man or as a coach. He represents everything a Michigan football coach should: a passion for Michigan football, previous coaching experience at Michigan, a history of success, hard-nosed recruiting, and unquestioned ethics. I grew up with his niece and nephew, proud that I had a connection to a Michigan coach during the glory years of the late 90s. I like the guy and think he will succeed at Michigan…eventually.
Unfortunately, I think this decision means another two or three years before we can expect to challenge for Big Ten titles. The past three years have been spent recruiting for the spread offense. Recruiting Denard Robinsons instead of Tom Bradys, Martavious Odoms instead of Braylon Edwards, Vincent Smiths instead of Tyrone Wheatleys, and Patrick Omamehs instead of Jake Longs. In short, Hoke will have to fit Rodriguez’s guys into a completely different system than what they were recruited for and have practiced in the past three years, which is exactly the issue that landed Rodriguez on the unemployment line after just three seasons.
Brandon said one of the pieces of criteria for the new coach is the ability to adapt his system. The biggest question Hoke will face early on is whether he can adapt his traditional pro-style offense to fit the skills of Robinson, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. If Robinson chooses to remain in Ann Arbor, this move could ultimately help his NFL potential by making him a more complete quarterback. Perhaps Hoke will bring back former UM quarterbacks coach Scott Loeffler who developed John Navarre and Chad Henne, and in his most recent gig, Tim Tebow at Florida.
Regardless, it’s hard to imagine hiring Hoke as being an upgrade from keeping Rodriguez for a fourth year. Will 2011 yield better results with Hoke? It’s doubtful.
Next season’s Wolverines are going to be a good team no matter who is coaching, with 10 starters returning on each side of the ball and the addition of senior cornerback Troy Woolfolk who missed the entire year with an injury. The schedule sets up nicely with Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State all at home and Penn State and Wisconsin off the schedule. A fourth year in Rodriguez’s system and a second-year starter in Robinson would have surely improved on its 33 points per game. And the defense would have been better with the return of Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd, who missed the final five games, and simply because as the nation’s 110th-ranked total defense, there’s virtually nowhere to go but up.
A serious run at the Big Ten title was not out of the question for next season under Rodriguez, and with several top recruits including Demetrius Hart, who had committed to Rodriguez (and has since committed to Alabama) in the fold, the program was destined for success. It just didn’t happen quickly enough for an impatient and arrogant fan base.
Now, here we are with the irony of all ironies, with the same fans and boosters who were clamoring for change because nine wins a season wasn’t good enough now calling for a mulligan. The school was embarrassed the past week with a national coaching search which, at least on the outside, looked like a joke, because of a decision that leaves Brandon in a tough spot if the transition this time around turns out similar three-year results as the one he just ended. I don’t think we’ve become Notre Dame yet, but if that happens, we’re well on our way.
All that said, I hope Hoke proves to be the best possible option for Michigan football and goes out and wins the Big Ten championship in 2011 and restores a sense of pride and the air of ‘the Victors’ to Ann Arbor. He certainly knows Michigan traditions, the importance of beating Michigan State and Ohio State, and how to win in the Big Ten. While I can’t fault Rodriguez for lacking those attributes, it’s one area in which Hoke is an improvement. And who knows, maybe it means more than we think. Welcome back, Coach.
Bowl season used to be one day to look forward to while ringing in the new year with friends, family, and if you’re fortunate, watching your favorite team play an opponent it doesn’t typically play in a warm and sunny spot you wish you were in. These days, we don’t even get a break in between the last game of the regular season and a watered down slate of games you really don’t care to watch but watch anyway because your only other viewing options are Glee or reruns of House.
And so it is that we’ve finally arrived at that one day of the year where college football takes precedence over everything else and we Michigan fans get to watch a game we’ve been looking forward to since that brutal game on November 27.
Tomorrow’s matchup with No. 21 Mississippi State takes on added significance after Michigan’s two-year absence from post-season play and the fate of Head Coach Rich Rodriguez hanging in the balance.
Michigan always plays well against SEC teams (20-5-1 all-time and 7-3 in bowl games), but as we’ve learned the past three seasons, this isn’t the Michigan of old anymore.
That could spell doom for Rodriguez, but I don’t think the outcome of Saturday’s game will factor into his fate, and that’s the last thing I’ll say about the coaching situation.
Perhaps the most important factor for Michigan is the health of Denard Robinson who, by all accounts, is as healthy as he has been all season. He struggled late in the season when he was banged up and didn’t seem to have the same burst he displayed early in the season. But Saturday he’ll be healthy and playing in the warm and sunny weather of his home state of Florida.
Mississippi State is an interesting study. It’s a team that hung tough with Auburn and Arkansas, but didn’t really beat anybody good all season and barely survived 4-8 UAB. In other words, its season is reminiscent of Michigan’s.
The strength of the Bulldogs is the defense, led by linebacker Chris White, an all-SEC first team defender who gets the task of trying to slow down Robinson.
In week two, White and the Bulldog defense held Heisman winner Cam Newton to his worst performance of the season. Auburn won 17-14, but Newton completed just 11-of-19 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 70 yards (3.9 yards per carry).
Head Coach Dan Mullen hopes to replicate that performance against Michigan on Saturday, but what give me hope is that performance was a long time ago. In the last five games, MSU’s defense gave up an average of 26.4 points per game. That’s good news for Michigan since the Bulldog offense doesn’t exactly light up the scoreboards, ranking in the middle of the pack nationally in points scored.
Offensively, the Bulldogs’ best player is tackle Derek Sherrod, a second-team All-American who figures to be a first round draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He has helped pave the way for the nation’s 16th-best rush offense, but his line has also allowed 22 sacks. An interesting matchup to watch will be Michigan’s defensive line against Sherrod and company. Can Mike Martin, Ryan Van Bergen, and Craig Roh pressure quarterback Chris Relf or get into the backfield to disrupt the run game? If so, it will help Michigan’s young and oft-maligned secondary.
Mississippi State’s pass offense is it’s weakness, ranking 91st in the nation with just 178.6 yards per game. Much of that has to do with the strength of its running game, but Relf ranks 52nd nationally in pass efficiency, just behind Indiana’s Ben Chappell.
Expect the Bulldogs to pound the ball on the ground and try to keep Michigan’s offense off the field, much like Wisconsin did, except out of a spread similar to Illinois’ (and Michigan’s for that matter). That could play into Michigan’s hands since the defense goes up against a similar style offense in practice every day.
According to Rodriguez, Michigan should get junior receiver Martavious Odoms back from a foot injury that has sidelined him since the Michigan State game. If he really is healthy enough to play at full speed, that will help Michigan both in the run and pass game. Odoms is the most experienced wideout on the team,with sure hands, and despite his small frame, is a great blocking receiver to set up Robinson’s runs.
Also healthy is Michigan’s best offensive lineman, center David Molk who missed time in the last few games with a foot injury. His presence will help combat White and MSU linemen Pernell McPhee, Josh Boyd, and Fletcher Cox.
The strength of the Bulldog rush defense and weakness of its pass defense leads me to believe Michigan will look to pass a little more than usual. Rodriguez loves to run to open up the pass, but a couple shots downfield early on could open up the running lanes for Robinson and backs Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith and keep the safeties from creeping up. In the last five games, MSU gave up 257 yards per game through the air, which is almost exactly what Michigan’s secondary has allowed this season.
1. Denard has more rushing yards AND more passing yards than Cam Newton did against Mississippi State
2. Michigan’s defense turns in one of its best performances of the season
3. Roy Roundtree eclipses 1,000 yards for the season
Overall, I think the game rests solely in the hands of Robinson. If the Robinson of the first half of the season shows up, Michigan will be in good shape. If the Robinson of the second half shows up, it will be a long day. The absence of Tate Forcier, who was ruled academically ineligible yesterday makes the health of Robinson of utmost importance. Freshman Devin Gardner, who was the first QB off the bench in the season opener against UConn, would be the backup, but it would mean burning his medical redshirt that Rodriguez hopes will keep him two years behind Robinson and Forcier.
As long as Robinson doesn’t get banged up, I think Michigan will be able to score around 30 points, which should be enough to beat the Bulldogs. And then the real waiting begins.
Michigan 31 – Mississippi State 27
Eleven games into the season, I’ve either gotten this Michigan team figured out or I’ve become so desensitized to losses that it’s what I’ve come to expect against teams not from the Mid-American Conference or the state of Indiana.
All three of my predictions came true on Saturday, and while they weren’t too far out on a limb, they were right on, and save for a late touchdown by Wisconsin, the final score would have been exactly right too.
I don’t want to be right on those predictions, so it’s not exactly something I’m proud about. I’d much rather be completely wrong and Michigan win, but unfortunately, that’s where we are right now.
While defensive progress appeared to have been made last week in a 27-16 win over Purdue, window dressing is all it really was. Purdue was essentially playing with its second-team offense and the game was played in poor weather conditions, making good offense the exception rather than the norm.
So when Wisconsin came to town with its steamroller offense, everybody knew what the Badgers’ offensive strategy would be: run, run, run, and sprinkle in a pass here and there. Quarterback Scott Tolzien completed 14-of-15 passes for 201 yards, all of one of those passes coming in the first half when Wisconsin jumped out to a 24-0 lead.
From there on, Wisconsin ran the ball on 33 out of 34 plays in the second half, and Michigan was helpless to stop it as the Badgers rolled up 357 rushing yards.
The loss dropped Michigan to 7-4 on the season, 3-4 in the Big Ten, and set up a chance to play spoiler, and salvage the season, this Saturday in Columbus. I won’t go as far as to say this is the most important game in Rich Rodriguez’s three-year tenure at Michigan, since I think he’s returning next season no matter the outcome, but if Michigan wins it would certainly be his biggest win during that time.
Ohio State sits in a three-way tie for first with Wisconsin and Michigan State. Wisconsin beat Ohio State 31-18 on Oct. 17, and Ohio State doesn’t play Michigan State this season, so if Ohio State beats Michigan, it will claim a share of the Big Ten title and likely receive a BCS bowl game since it’s ranked higher than Michigan State in the BCS standings.
A Michigan win would keep Ohio State from reaching its sixth straight Big Ten title and a sixth straight BCS bowl. It would also give Rodriguez his first win over a ranked team since 2008 when Michigan beat No. 9 Wisconsin. That Wisconsin team was vastly overrated at the time and finished the season with a 7-6 record, so beating Ohio State on Saturday would easily top that one.
But most importantly, it would end Michigan’s six game losing streak to the Buckeyes, the longest in the rivalry since the 1920s. After dominating the 90s, Michigan has seemingly forgotten how to beat Ohio State since Jim Tressel took over. Ohio state fans love to point out that it has been two thousand and something days since Michigan has beaten Ohio State. Beat Ohio State on Saturday and Rodriguez will regain much of the Michigan fan base heading into the bowl game.
Ohio State is by far the better team this season and will be heavily favored, but just ask the 1993, ’95, and ’96 Buckeye teams if the better team always wins. The beauty of the rivalry is that you can throw out the records. Let Buckeye week begin!
Hats off to Denard Robinson for breaking Beau Morgan’s record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. His 121 rushing yards against Wisconsin also made him the first 1,500 yard rusher and passer in NCAA history, not to mention the first player to have 1,500 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing in a single season.
The sophomore in his first season as a starter has been electrifying for Michigan this season and gives the Wolverines a lot of hope for the next two years.
He’s now 403 yards short of the all-college football quarterback rushing record, which was set by Chris Sharpe of Div. III’s Springfield (Mass.) College. He would have to average 202 yards per game to break that record, which is a tall task considering Ohio State’s rush defense which ranks third in the nation.
Injuries are hitting Michigan hard in the last few games of the season. Already having lost starting receiver Martavious Odoms and cornerback J.T. Floyd, and nose tackle Mike Martin and center David Molk having missed all or parts of the past few games, Michigan suffered another blow on Saturday. Receiver Darryl Stonum was inured returning a kick late in the game and running back Vincent Smith and defensive end Craig Roh each suffered what appeared to be concussions.
Stonum ranks second on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards with 493. He also has four touchdowns. Smith is the leading running back 571 yards and five touchdowns. Roh has been more effective as a defensive end since moving there from linebacker.
All three of those guys will be needed this Saturday if Michigan has any shot to win. Hopefully Stonum is healthy enough to keep returning kicks, because at this point, he’s light years better than Jeremy Gallon, who has been Michigan’s returner most of the season.
After the game, Stonum tweeted, “hopefully I’m ok (I think I am) but its gonna take a whole lot to keep me out of this next game.”
Roy Roundtree’s 114 yards against Wisconsin put him within striking distance of becoming Michigan’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Mario Manningham in 2007. For the season, he has 839 yards, just 37 behind Northwestern’s Jeremy Ebert for the Big Ten lead. With two games remaining, at Ohio State on Saturday and a bowl game, Roundtree needs to average 80.5 receiving yards to eclipse 1,000.
He would join the ranks of Manningham, Jason Avant (2005), Braylon Edwards (2002, ’03, ’04), Marquis Walker (2001), and David Terrell (2000) as the only Michigan receivers to reach 1,000 yards since 2000.
|Roy Roundtree vs. Jeremy Ebert