Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ahhhhh, the French.....

Date:  9/13/11 12:00pm
Love this pic.  Day wasn't this cloudy for long.
Opponent:  Eastern Michigan Eagles
Outcome:  W 31-3
Season Record (B1G Record):  3-0 (0-0) 
Attending:  Rachelle Fera-Starnes, Deanna Fera
Weather:  Gorgeous, Sunny Day in the Mid 60s

Pre-Game Meal:  We were running SUPER late (more on this later) so we didn't have time for much of anything other than to call in an order to Maize 'n' Blue Deli.  This week, I had the #5 Grand Daddy's.  This sandwich has a heaping portion of roast beef, mild peppers, provolone, russian dressing, onion, black olives, and a fried egg (keeping the streak alive!).  Maybe because I had to wolf it down, I didn't enjoy it as much as my previous week's sandwiches.  It was a good sandwich, but the massive amount of roast beef was a tad dry and I'm not a huge fan of mild peppers.  We grabbed the sandwiches and walked down toward the stadium.  We took a seat near the Bongo Man on Hoover and literally inhaled our food prior to going into the stadium just before kick off.

#5 - Grand Daddy's.  A solid, not spectacular choice.
Game Recap:  Eastern Michigan took the opening kickoff and ran it down Michigan's throat.  Eastern showed promise early by shifting formations and linemen all over the place on pretty much every play.  Michigan's D tried to adjust, but DE Jibreel Black's forced fumble saved them after getting gashed for runs of 13, 6, 19, and 14.  The fumble was recovered by S Thomas Gordon at the Michigan 35. 

Michigan took over and got a couple of first downs before the drive stalling.  From Eastern's 34, Michigan went for it on 4th and 5, a solid David Romer decision.  Unfortunately, Denard's pass to Hemingway was off target and was intercepted.  Not a great start to what should be a rout.

Eastern took over at their 27.  Using a nice PA pass, a jet sweep, a couple of QB runs, and 4th down conversion, Eastern found themselves in 1st and Goal at the Michigan 7.  After a few runs, Ron English and Co. found themselves at 4th and 1 from the 1.  Eastern tried to run off the right side with Javonti Greene again, but he was denied the end zone on a SUPER athletic play by Jordan Kovacs, who blitzed off the left edge and came around behind the play to grab Greene from the side and pull him back from stretching across the goal line.  Kovacs has by far been the best defensive player on the field for Michigan this year.  All the Marvin Robinson lovers can take back everything they wrote on message boards this summer.  Kovacs is legit and won't be displaced anytime soon.

Following a 3 and out and a terrible punt by Matt Wile, Eastern took the ball back over at Michigan's 24.  Eastern continued to stick to the run, meeting more resistance from UM as yardage wasn't as easy to come by with rushes of 4, 2, 7, 3, 2, and 2.  The drive concluded with a 21 yard FG on the first play of the 2Q.  3-0 Eastern.

The fearful blogger, contemplating his exit
UM went three and out again with two incompletions by Denard, and I left my seat.  Wolfing the Maize and Blue, plus this uninspired offensive performance had turned my stomach.

I emerged from the bathroom to the roars of Michigan Stadium to find out that Thomas Gordon had picked off a double pass attempt and that Al Borges finally decided to ditch the original game plan, unleashing Denard for 52 yards on the first play of the drive.  Denard finally completed his first two passes of the day on the drive.  2 nice throws to Kevin Koger, the second for a 9 yard TD.  The drive covered 97 yards in just under 4 minutes.  THIS was the Michigan offense that is going to be successful this year.  Let's hope Denard can withstand the punishment it's going to put on him.

Eastern and UM exchanged a few punts before UM took over at their own 13 with 5 minutes left in the half.  UM capped the 87-yard drive, all rushing plays, with a Denard Robinson 11-yard touchdown run.  Vincent Smith got his first carry of the day on the drive taking it 38 yards on the second play of the drive on the fake FB dive/HB pitch out play that always looks cool, but not sure I like so much (it is predicated on the play-side DE getting anxious and crashing down, if he doesn't, you're screwed).  Vincent was just getting warmed up.  

Following a horrid, short squib kick with 40 seconds left, eastern quickly rushed the ball up to Michigan's 33 with a few seconds left.  Eastern didn't capitalize on the field position handed to them by the squib and missed the 50 yard FG as time expired.  End of 1st H.  M leads 14-3.  

The halftime show was pretty uninspiring, featuring "music from Michigan".  Song selection included an Eminem song (couldn't make out the tune), Cat Scratch Fever (Nuge), Old Time Rock n Roll (Seger [EFFING PLAYED]), Detroit Rock City, and a couple of Kid Rock's rockabilly tunes.  No dance breaks, no gimp costumes, pretty terrible tune selection.  Definitely the worst show of the season thus far.

Rachelle and Deanna
UM replicated their last drive of the first half, this time going 83 yards, all on the ground, in just over 5 minutes.  Denard did attempt two passes on the drive, one dropped by Toussaint as he heard footsteps on a nicely thrown wheel route.  Fitzgerald Toussaint capped the drive with a 1 yard plunge from the fullback spot, which seems to be a staple of Borges short yardage.  Toussaint had at least 1 TD from this against Western (it may have been 2), and same formation that Hopkins fumbled in against ND.  UM 21-3.  I finally start to relax.

Eastern's next drive started with a sack by Craig Roh, which was pretty much the first time I'd noticed him all year.  After two runs, Eastern punted again to UM.  UM drove the stake into EMU with a 75-yard drive capped by the first appearance of the QB PA/Seam pass to Drew Dileo for a 19-yard touchdown.  I was hoping they didn't get rid of that play.  It's a fantastic counter to LBs and safeties cheating at the first sign of Denard heading toward the line.  I would have preferred they kept it hidden until a bigger moment, but 7 points is cool too.  UM 28-3.  

Eastern ran 9 plays on the following drive, but a holding penalty set them back and they were forced to punt for the 4th time on the day.  Michigan's last meaningful drive lasted 13 plays and ate up 6+ minutes of clock and ended with Michigan's first FG attempt of the year, a 21-yarder that split the uprights by the much-maligned Soph PK Brendan Gibbons.  Gibbons looks much better on PATs and this kick than he did last year.  The ball didn't seem to jump off his foot at all last year, and he seemed headed for transfer or an unceremonious ushering out the door prior to this fall, credit someone for fixing something with him...thus far.  Man, am I knocking on anything remotely wooden right now.  This drive also featured Denard's best throw of the day, a 24-yard rocket to Jeremy Gallon on a post route.  Gallon has shown a lot of promise in the past two games.  It's strange that the 2 receivers I trust most are Grady and Gallon.  While neither have had the glamorous highlight reel catches that Hemingway or Roundtree have produced, they seem to be the guys Denard looks for on 3rd down passes.

Happy to leave with a solid W.
The defensive second unit forced a punt, followed by 3 non-meaningless runs by Michigan as time expired.  The plays were non-meaningless because FR RB Thomas Rawls got his first action of the year, potentially burning his ability to redshirt this year.  With Hopkins solidly in the doghouse following the fumble against ND, UM needs a big back to contribute.  Hopefully, we see more of Rawls if UM does intend to not get a redshirt for him.  I'm already smarting from the burned RS of CB Blake Countess, who is covering kicks.  Back to non-complaints....UM WINS 31-3.

Denard finished the day with 198 yards rushing on 26 carries (about 10 too many), while Vincent Smith had one of his better days as a Wolverine with 118 yards on 9 carries.  I would expect to see a little more of Vincent in the coming weeks.  He's looked to be the most dependable back they have at the moment.  Fitz is definitely shiftier and faster, but there's just something about Vincent that allows him to pick up positive yards on most every carry.

Amateur Analysis:  Although it was a MAC team, was happy to see the defense settle down and figure out Eastern's run it down your throat offense.  Eastern attempted a mere 6 passes on the game, but the running plays came from all angles.  Jet sweeps, the dreaded shotgun counter play, unbalanced lines... you name it, Eastern threw it at UM.  I thought Jibreel Black made a couple of nice plays.  I noticed him not giving up and chasing RBs down the line a couple times, most notably on the fumble he caused.  Hearing Craig Roh's name a couple times was refreshing too, let's hope he can keep it up as we move into the teeth of the schedule.  True FR DE Frank Clark also looked good in his limited action.  Haven't seen the pass rush ability that has been touted about him just yet, but definitely looks like a keeper.  

Play of the Game:  While in reality it only saved 4 points, Jordan Kovacs play at the goal line was pretty special.  Again, this kid is the best performer on this D.  While he's probably not a first teamer, at this rate, I won't be surprised if he makes an all B1G team.

Best Moment:  Not really sure there was one, unless you count me storming out to the concourse following another 3 and out with Michigan down 3-0 in the second quarter.  I believe I texted my buddy Eric threatening suicide during this time.

Other Fun Nuggets:

Our frenchman's label of choice
  • Non-conference MAC foes are always interesting from a season ticket holder perspective.  You find out who the die hards are by seeing who doesn't sell their tix and attends.  I only recognized 1 of the normal crew in my vicinity.  No Statler and Waldorf, thank god.  Their bitching might have forced my hand this week.  However, the seats in front of us were filled with four young French dudes.  I surmised they were french after they started openly rooting for french-sounding Fitzgerald Toussaint.  I confirmed it when, during halftime, one of them turned around and very suavely asked my WIFE, I repeat MY WIFE and NOT the football fan sitting directly behind him, "uhhh, esscuse meh, uhhh, how much longer will the game last?".  He acted disappointed when told the game would last another hour and a half.  I leaned over a little later and gave Rachelle a Freedom Kiss to let him know I wouldn't stand for his advances.  Eat it, Black Swan Choreographer.  This is AMERICA.
  • The guy below also showed up at the game.  I don't know what to say.  I'm at a loss for words. It's quite possibly the most unironic attempt at humor ever.  I can't believe he wasn't wearing jorts.  Speaking of, there were LOTS of jorts in attendance.  Also seen: mustaches.  
John Rocker in attendance.

Smokey and the Lunatic.

  • The ride from Buffalo was quite an adventure.  We left downtown Buffalo after picking up Deanna around 5:30am.  I decided to go through Canada because I had good luck the week before.  Unfortunately, the week before, I went straight to Novi and then to Genesee County.  I wish I has known about the horrendous construction traffic on the 696.  I couldn't BELIEVE that they had the freeway closed in both directions for about a half a mile to work on an overpass.  There were NO SIGNS to this effect as we exited the 94 for the 696.  No signs as we passed the final exit before the construction.  20 minutes wasted.  To top it off, when we FINALLY got past the construction, I shit you not, we got caught up in a motorcycle funeral procession or something with no less than 6 police cars flanking the procession.  They took up two lanes of the 3 and were going a good 5-10 mph BELOW the speed limit for most of the 10-15 miles we were with them.  I was literally losing my mind as the cops swerved and changed lanes to not allow faster traffic to pass.  I would really like to know what the F was going on.  The procession not only made us even more late, it may or may not have taken a small piece out of the rock solid foundation of my marriage to my wife.
  • The HORDES clamored for it.  Here it is.  Ca$h and Shooter's weekly podcast.  BTW, Caleb Terbush is Purdue's starting QB.  I have no idea who TerHoven is.

Post-Game Meal:  Rachelle LOVED Frita Baditos after the Western Michigan game, so she was chomping at the bit to make a return visit.  It didn't disappoint.  This time I got the Chorizo Frita Loco, which is the chorizo patty with "the works".  The works included muenster cheese, a lime salsa, a tropical slaw, and of course, a fried egg, to go along with the standard french fries.  We also ordered the twice fried garlic plantains which were fantastic.  The plantains were fried perfectly and the garlic, salt, and lightly sweet plantains were a beautifully unique combination.  The best part of my meal though was the fresh lime batido.  A batido is a latin milkshake, made with different fresh, fruity ingredients and sweetened with honey.  It was heaven.  The lime was very sweet with just enough sour, but the cream of the milk offset it perfectly to give you a fantastic lime creamscicle tasting treat.  I'm still wishing I had asked for a shot of rum with it.

Ole Yeller.  2010-2011
RIP:  Ol' Yeller [My yellow hat]  (2010-2011)  While at Frita Baditos, I was forced to put ol' yeller down after an unfortunate scrape with the Frita Baditos toilet.  I went to the bathroom to remove one of my upper layers and set her on top of the toilet tank.  At some point during my shirt removal, I either knocker her off and into the Frita Baditos toilet, or she decided to end it and jumped in herself.  Maybe she was hot.  We'll never know.  I was going to attempt to resuscitate her, but Rachelle insisted I let her go.  Gone too soon.  (Like the savage beast I am, I've moved on quickly and replaced her)
Looking Forward:  While the defense has played better in the last 4-5 quarters, I'm very afraid of San Diego State is capable of this week.  They are a solid pro style offense featuring pro prospects at QB in Ryan Lindley and at RB in Ronnie Hillman.  San Diego State struggled with Army two weeks ago, but that may have been more due to the early east coast start for the Aztecs.  Of course, UM puts them into the same situation this week, so hopefully that will repeat itself.  Beyond the fact that SD State is a solid team at 3-0, they are Coach Hoke's previous stop.  I'm sure they will be fired up to prove their worth one more time to their former Coach.  I'm not sure there are many defenses in the country that will be able to stop Michigan's offensive attack as the season progresses, but Denard's early season struggles passing and finding open receivers is troublesome.  ND and Eastern have both sold out to stop the run and played single coverage all over the secondary.  Look for more of the same from the Aztecs.  In the end, I hope Coach Mattison and the defense make enough adjustments to get enough stops for UM to come out victorious.  


  1. Was not expecting that NFL detour from Cash. Is he a Colts guy or Browns? Did he put some action on that? Of course, the end of the call was great. "Love you, love you ice cream man, love you..."

  2. All Colts, all the time. Big Johnny U fan back in the day.