Thursday, September 05, 2013

Blogjammin' with mgoblog

In many ways, my pre-game chats with Brian Cook at mgoblog resemble the rivalry-flavored substance that is the Notre Dame-Michigan series. We never talked to each other at all between 1910 and the 80's. Then we had a few strange, furious, and memorable exchanges of point-blank fire under the creepy gaze of Tom Hammond. Then something something Fielding Yost something something the Klan, yadda yadda yadda, three year hiatus. Now we're back together for one penultimate blogjam before the end of the series (or the End of Days, whichever comes first).

Typically we dress up in costumes for these things, but this being such an austere event we merely retired to my drawing room with fine cigars while wearing Victorian era suits and overcoats. Also codpieces.

Part 1 is over at mgoblog. We pick up the conversation talking about Devin Gardner. I've included the lead-in for context.

fightinamish: Okay, so now my turn to hold the questioning stick.

Right, so Devin Gardner. Tell me about him without using the phrases "rose-scented adonis", "harbinger of all happiness in the world to come", or "timeless, wondrous merman". I know, this will be difficult.
You didn't prevent me from comparing him to Vince Young, so he's Vince Young. Except fast! And even more good-looking! And capable of morphing from man to fish in certain situati--right. Hmm. He's an explosive athlete who is too willing to unleash his inner Rex Grossman right now and has fits of inaccuracy. He could be insanely, insanely good; he could be pretty good but way too prone to turnovers. 
One thing about him is his incredible red-zone efficiency. He can throw and scramble and even when he's scrambling he has a knack for flinging balls to receivers who just saw their defenders leave them. Maybe a hidden key. 
And he smells like jasmine.
.... sorry hold please ...
(Editor's Note: I spend a few minutes cleaning baby vomit off of my shirt.)
... okay, back now. all good ... 

Right, so that sounds impressive. I guess the question is will the line be able to give him enough time to make flowers bloom in the stadium with the magic of love? I'm not sure if you've heard, but there are some large, strapping gentlemen on the Irish defensive front who would strongly prefer that not happen. 
And, just between you and me, they are ill-natured. Hungry and ill-natured.
I am aware of these gentlemen, as I was innocently picking flowers around last year at this time when they deprived me of my virtue. I cannot tell you yes or no with certainty, but Michigan's tackles both return and are both rather good at chaperoning. Last year Shembo had some success against Schofield and that will remain an issue, but Notre Dame will have to be careful not to get too eager and vacate lanes, because unlike Denard, Devin is aware that his legs are valid implements even on called passes. Seemed to me like Notre Dame had a number of issues with this against Temple. 
I'm more worried about what Nix might eat in the run game. 
Specifically, I am worried he might eat the run game.
Yes, Nix got bigger in the offseason, which is something I only have the vaguest understanding of. All I know is when I put my wife, son, and cat in a burlap sack, hoist them over my shoulder, and stand on our bathroom scale (you should try this sometime, it's fun), it reads 0.98 Louis Nix Units. He now has an event horizon.

It will be interesting to see if Michigan can run this play successfully.
Our new center is popularly described as "undersized." In context this is adjusted to "possibly nonexistent."
"A rounding error"
Well... that is interesting to me. Is that something you think can be schemed around?
Michigan's best hope is to run the zone stretch and have him dart around that gentlemen and then, like, hope to exist. 
Nix is pretty nimble for a guy his size but planet-sized DTs can only put up with so much running and whatnot. 
If Michigan can stay on the field, get him moving sideline to sideline, maybe they get to his backup. Who is not Nix. This is important.
What's the weather forecast? The temp at kickoff on Saturday was poached testicles degrees, and it looked like it affected Big Lou. I think. I'm not sure, I spent the whole second half talking to my dead great great grandfather.

Finbar McGloin Stouffer. Killed in a duel over flapjack recipes, 1852.
A pleasant mid-70s dipping into the 60s late. He should be a happy black hole.
Maybe you should try tape recording yourself fore one day... 

Okay, so Michigan's defense. What's the gameplan for containing the only quarterback since 2011 to have scored a rushing touchdown in this series? 
I mean, Denard was fine and Devin seems talented, but they're no Tommy Rees on the keeper.
I see what you did there. I think Michigan will start out playing soft, hoping to get to Rees with four guys (prognosis: iffy, but better than last season) and avoid giving up the big play with either Jarrod Wilson or Courtney Avery stepping in for Kovacs. With Notre Dame's kicking game and seeming lack of redzone offense, bend but don't break seems like the way to go, at least early. 
If Notre Dame starts shredding this, Michigan will have to get more aggressive.
That seems acceptable. How's the secondary? If Tommy can keep throwing with the accuracy he had against Temple, then he won't be giving them as much help as he has historically.
Two guys are back from last year: Taylor (he of the interception not thrown by Michigan but rather caught) and Thomas Gordon (who I don't think ND fans have even a vague memory of). Michigan gets back Blake Countess, losing JT Floyd. Frankly that should be a major upgrade. The worries are twofold: Kovacs needs replacing. Wilson was pretty bad in the bowl game, but had a nice opener; Avery is a converted nickel corner who was supposedly going to start before he had his knee scoped. If disaster strikes, it'll likely be there. 
The other point of potential concern is in the nickel, which Michigan will probably be in a ton of. Michigan folds Countess inside and brings in true freshman sleeper Channing Stribling. He's tall, but he's young. 
I'm worried about explosions there as well. 
Just bits of defensive back cartwheeling out of the stadium, framed in the lights.
Can any of them catch a 270 pound tight end from behind?

Think carefully.
Cam Gordon now plays defensive end on passing downs by the way.
And does well with it. So... yeah, that was our safety.
But let's not talk about past coaches. This, at least, we can be united in.
One thing fans of our two programs will always agree on: the desperate need for somebody to invent memory-erasing football roofies.
If Lacuna, Inc. was a real thing there would be a line stretching from Houghton to Detroit, and everybody in it would be holding a folder that said "Greg Robinson."

Erm, ugh. They'd have to open a Robinson-erasing franchise in South Bend too. So should we talk about special teams (grisly and mortifying) or just move to the prediction finale?
Actually I think we should talk special teams because Michigan... might not actually be grisly and mortifying. As long as Dennis Norfleet doesn't fumble.

Editor's Note: I typed norfleet.gif like six thousand more times here. We skip ahead to...

/norfleet.gif forever.

Editor's Note: We've just been notified that is not Norfleet. Fightinamish is currently running around in the backyard sprinklers chanting "Norfleet! Norfleet!" We prefer not to ruin it for him. If you feel the same way, then keep a lid on it, guys.
On the other hand, Notre Dame is playing a kicker at punter and... well, some sort of terror artist at kicker, it seems. 
What happened to that guy? 
He was at 80% for his career!
I... ugh. Tausch's quacker FG attempt was not pretty, but somebody who knows more about the fine arts of kicking did sort of a frame-by-frame on that and showed that it was just a mechanical mistake planting his foot in the wrong place. I think that can get straightened out, although he does need to attempt his next field goal from the ladies' tees with his pants around his ankles.

I don't think the pants thing will help... unless they're Nix's pants. 
It does seem like Michigan has a potentially sizeable advantage here as long as their paleolithic approach to covering punts doesn't burn them. 
You got a returner guy back there?
Aw, hamburgers.
TJ Jones had some sharp-looking returns. I almost thought I was hallucinating again, but my dead great great grandfather said he saw it too.
Well, if Michigan doesn't get great hangtime he'll have two guys 20 yards from him as he tries to undo the world. Hurray. At least Norfleet. 

Oh, great, you've gone and summoned him again.
Editor's Note: [sigh]
Okay. Prediction time.
Right, I was thinking since this game is usually so unpredictable, how about we do something different? We'll make a joint prediction by alternating words one at a time, elegant corpse-style.
A capital idea.
I win the toss and elect to defer. Your text will be in blue, mine in red. Begin:

In 2013, an unheralded short player dances through thirteen defenseless flailing cheerleaders. Blood gurgles from the Temple of Grogshabroth, who announces the cancellation of Earth. Victory for none, blood for all.

Period. Outstanding. I'm taking that straight to Vegas.
I'm just glad the world ends before the series does.
Do we have a Ragnorak escape clause in our contract?
Not if Bill Martin negotiated it. 
Well, sir, I hope your team drowns in a pile of fetid puppy limbs.
And I hope superintelligent ape archaeologists find the skeletons of your team in the queue for the bathrooms of a recently-unearthed Michigan Stadium, their fossilized bladders still full and distended.