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Monday, September 30, 2013


Time to announce our September 2013 "chUMp of the month" award. First a quick look back at the August winners, and then we hand out Dishonorable Mention awards for this month.

The "chUMps of the month" for August 2013 were those two flame-throwing Michigan wrestlers. They were handed Probation last month for their antics following the Louisville victory in early April. (And by "antics", we mean "domestic terrorism".) Justin Dozier and Rosario Bruno were suspended from the UM Wrestling team more than a month later, when charges were announced in the case. No reports of their sentences can be found anywhere on the world-wide-web. Except here, of course.

The September 2013 "chUMp of the month" Dishonorable Mention category features three whiners this week. The whiners are:

  • Denard Robinson, for calling MSU his "little brother", after he finished 1-3 against his #3 rival, scoring two touchdowns while throwing five picks in four games, along with just over three yards per rush.
  • Desmond Howard, for living in the past when he also ranked MSU #3 on the rivals list, despite his alma mater's better record against Notre Dame the last five years.
  • Jalen Rose, for advocating that amateur sports become professional, perhaps to justify his former status as an amateur/professional in "college". The former crack-house visitor needlessly took a shot at MSU, proving that he is a chUMp acting like a "Michigan Man". Rose graduated from the University of Maryland in 2005.

It has certainly been a busy month for chUMp NatiOn! Any of those dishonorable chUMps would have qualified for the grand honor in some other month of the year. But September 2013 has featured a veritable "chUMps gone wild" feel all month long. Hard to believe there is one nominee who exemplified true chUMpdom more than those listed above, but there is such a nominee.

The September, 2013 chUMp of the month is:


As everybody knows, the University of Michigan Athletic Director hired a skywriting airplane service to paint the sky with messages, including the infamous "Go Blue" near Spartan Stadium, on September 14th about an hour before the MSU game was set to begin. What a first-rate chUMp.

Brandon used public money to pay for the stunt, regardless of the university accounting claims. The entire athletic department is part of a public institution, so the whole operation is public. This was a public expense, made in public by a public official.

Message to David Brandon: "Hey Dave, wouldn't it have been easier to just go ahead and order that prescription of Viagra to accomplish your goals? Just a thought."

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MSU FOOTBALL FRONT-BURNER: One-On-One with ATownAndDown. Burn the Bridges?

Today, we go one-on-one with ATownAndDown. You will find his views insightful and thought provoking. You can read A-Town's comments on M-Live here.

Many Spartan fans seem to want radical, "burn the bridge" type changes. Have you seen any fan-base ideas that have real merit? What message would you like to get across to Spartan Nation about the current "state of State"?

The time to panic is now. Jump ship. Turn in your Spartan Nation card at the door on the way out.... Ok now that the lemmings are gone lets get down to brass tax. The MSU Football Program is not in as bad of shape as some would like to think. The offense, while not overwhelming, had moments that looked fine. Langford moved the ball fine and Brian Kelly admitted that MSU was moving the ball on the ground against his team. Cook made some youthful mistakes but has shown that he is a different QB than he was even 2 weeks ago. There were rumblings that the defense wasn't as good as some thought and had to see what it looked like against a talented team like ND. Are you sold yet?

My biggest issue is the coaching. Brian Kelly said that down the stretch he preferred to have MSU's offense on the field because he thought the MSU defense could turn a ND mistake into a score while he knew that MSU offense would get impatient and make a mistake causing the drive to stall. That is coaching decisions. Play calling and personnel decisions were poor. The most obvious was pulling Cook for the last series which he appeared confused about after being told it was due to his accuracy (he was 11 for 17 in the second half). Langford carried the ball 3 times for 11 yards and had a reception for 12 yards. Then he disappeared until the second half when he ran the ball 11 times for 60 yards. We opened the second half with arguably the best drive of the season that stumbled when we decided to run a weak wildcat play (no option for the backside of the play and basically was a direct snap off-tackle run). We still had the ND defense of kilter to open the next drive but ran an end around. This was a great play call because the defense was crashing hard to slow the run but then Shelton (a true freshman mind you) stopped and threw up a prayer because it wasn't just an end around there was a pass called. Interception and the rest is history.

The coaches need to get out of the way of these players. Stop trying to get overly cute with things. Stop trying to run the offense like you are trying to score 40+ points a game. Let your guys run the game plan and let them play. Tell Cook to push things and when he makes mistakes pat him on the butt and send him back out there. Not every pass has to be perfect. Tell Langford that he doesn't need to be physical after he bursts through the line. Put the ball in your WR's hands so they can run with it. And someone please throw the ball 20+ yards down the field.

What do you think is at the source of Dantonio's apparent inability to push the right buttons and pull the right levers in 2012 and 2013 vs. previous years, some with less talent? (Optional: What might be going on that we can't see?)

I think Coach D got spoiled with the 2011 team. 2007 and 2008 were just tough nosed football. Conservative play calling that all centered on running the ball. 2009 and even into 2010, it was very similar. Pound the run and set up the play action pass. In 2011 though the run was not as effective early in the season and MSU won a lot of games on the arm of Kirk Cousins. So they rolled with it and Cousins carried the team a long way in those contests. 2012 the offensive line was banged up and when we tried to get back to those basics the run blocking and the protection was not there. This year it seems like his decision making is stuck in 2012. Its like he has forgotten about the bread and butter that has brought MSU some pretty nice success. Impose your will and let the rest flow from that.

With a possibly even weaker than projected Big Ten Conference at hand on the schedule, how is the Spartans 2013 conference hopes for success shaping up now compared to what you thought when camp broke?

MSU is part of that perception that the B1G is weaker than expected so let's not get ahead of ourselves thinking that things got easier. I think the B1G is still staking up about the same as it was when camp broke. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota are games we have to win. Northwestern, U of M and Nebraska are going to be tough outs but are winnable. NW and Nebraska are teams that need to score points to win (they are not going to be able to institute a similar game plan to what ND did). And Gardener, while talented, has shown that he can be mistake prone which could lead to short fields and/or defensive scores which help out a below average offense. Also, those games a later in the season and if Cook continues to improve who knows, maybe the offense becomes competent.

I think that this Iowa game will be a solid report card on how things are going to play out. You have had 3 games to experiment. You had a test in ND. Now you have a week off to reassess and work on things. Iowa, while not world beaters, is still a team that we will be able to see where we stand after making those changes. If it plays out similar to Iowa last year (even if we win this time around) then I don't put much stock in MSU competing for the B1G.

Any thoughts on the need to play Damion Terry at quarterback or are we burned out on that issue?

This issue plays into my question to the [other contributors and readers on this site]. I have heard some rumblings that some of the bigger donors to the program are becoming disenfranchised with what they have seen from the program over the past season and 4 games. The impression I got from what I heard was they are not happy with the feeling of mediocrity. If Dantonio goes 7-6 again, 2014 might become a make or break year for a guy that seemed invincible 2 years ago. Donor money is important to a program (and was the reason RichRod didn't get his 4th year at U of M).

[A-Town's question - reply using the comments button] Could it be possible that Dantonio's coaching decisions and not winning these close games could put him on the hot seat?

[ATownAndDown's Answer]
In my opinion, Coach D has to win this year. That means pulling out all the stops. Whether that is playing Terry, Delton Williams, Holmes, Madaris, Arnett or whoever on offense, he has to get it done. I don't care if these guys know only a handful of plays, if they can come in for those handful of plays and improve this team that is enough. Last year we lost 5 games by 13 total points. If playing those guys this year means that we score even 3 more points per game, is that 2-3 more wins than last year. What if they add more? AB came in last year and improved the offense. Cook came in during the bowl game and helped win that contest. We saw in 2009, freshman Caper and Baker carried the running game down the stretch. These guys are not perfect and might never be close enough to every be the perfect player. But if they can come in and do a few things better than we have now, lets do it. Going into this season I thought MSU's offense would be improved over last year's team and that would allows us to compete for the B1G. At this point I don't know if there is enough to count on the offense developing organically. Maybe one of these guys can be a spark the offense to find something more.


So readers and contributors, what about A-Town's question above?

Click the comments link.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The Mainstream Michigan Media Machine (M-4) is working overtime in top gear to convince everybody that there are no problems with Michigan Football. This, despite two belly-flops in a row against low-end opposition.

Meanwhile, that same M-4 has Michigan State in the middle of the griddle, turning the heat up as high as possible in order to grill the Spartans for doing exactly what they were predicted to do.

Most people had MSU 3-1 after four games, and they are literally 3-1 after four games. How does this story draw so much attention? The Irish opened as seven-point favorites, and by game time, they were picked to win by four points. They won by four points. Where is the news angle? In Journalism, this is known as a "Dog Bites Man" story, and as such, is not particularly newsworthy.

But the Michigan Football team was a huge surprise to everyone the past two weeks, picked to win by three to five touchdowns in each game, yet struggling to mount fourth-quarter comebacks each time to win by a field-goal. One of those games featured a last-second goal-line-stand to preserve a hollow victory. In Journalism, this is known as a "Man Bites Dog" story, and generally would be the front-page story.

But the M-4 has issued numerous excuses for the Wolverines, complete with encouraging predictions for the rest of the season. They didn't play their game, they're young, the quarterback is inexperienced, the opponent was fired-up, everybody has an off-day, the ball bounces funny, and maybe sometimes chickens really do have lips. Whatever. Free pass for the yellow-pants.

Despite the details of how the Spartans got to 3-1, they remain on track for all but the most optimistic of pre-season predictions. Indeed, it may be more newsworthy that they took over with a chance to win at the end of the game than the fact that they lost.

But the Michigan Football fiasco goes largely unexamined. How could a Top 20 team with Top 10 recruiting classes make such a mess of themselves for two consecutive weeks? Why doesn't the M-4 invade Shempbuckler Hall demanding answers? Where is the ongoing series of critical reviews of the Wolverines? Why isn't Donut Boy on the "hot seat"? How come the assistants wearing blue aren't up for public evaluation and critique?

This is the same-old, same-old, same-old story. The M-4 works full-time to make Michigan look good while at the same time making Michigan State look bad. We urge you not to believe it, as there is no "Michigan Difference" beyond this consistently favorable treatment in the mainstream media.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

VIDEO: Not Worried About THIS Offense

Championships are won, in part, when fans are not watching - but you can watch here.

Also, "BRING IT": Read SpartanMan82's post season MSU vs UM analysis here: Complete Basketball Microscope

MSU Basketball Advertisement - Players in football gear  (Embedding disabled - link will take you to Youtube)

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Friday, September 20, 2013

VIDEO: Defensive Phenom Shilique Calhoun, Hall of Famer Bullough, Spartan Marching Band, Game Day Experience...

Spartan Football All Access is the best video production of Spartan Football available. The latest addition is entertaining and major TV programming quality. Set the video on full screen and watch TV for a while...

Segment one: Rising defensive star Shilique Calhoun interview and 2013 highlights - his sacks, turnovers and touchdowns
7:22 mark: Henry Bullough - Spartan Hall of Fame inductee, history, tradition, family, skill, highlights, interview.
10:31 mark: MSU Marching Band. The history, facts, old films, half time show segments laid over interviews, relationship with football team, game day experience.
14:23 mark: Inside access to game day experience - team march to stadium, band street march, student section, Youngstown State game highlights, sideline activity and more.

Also appearing: DC Pat Narduzzi,  DL Coach Ron Burton, Spartan Ring of Famer Gene Washington, Mark Dantonio, Connor Cook, Max and Riley Bullough.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

MSU FOOTBALL FRONT-BURNER: Slingshots or Bazookas in Future for Spartans' Offense?

~ Front-Burner Has Moved to Wednesdays ~
~ Contributors responded to questions prior to the Tuesday press conference ~

The MSU Offense gained more than 500 yards against YSU. What does that say about the rest of the season?

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
The MSU offense had a great game against YSU. The competition was not the greatest defense of all time but given the state of MSU's offense it might be the just what the doctor ordered. We have seen the offense struggle in the first 2 games. This showed how good the offense could be if its hitting on all cylinders which is something many people were doubting. Go back to all the articles you read leading up to game day. How many had comments or prognostications that MSU would score even 40 points? Not many and MSU was almost to 40 points at half time. So for all of us (and those other people) that are sitting here saying, "Its just YSU. Whats the big deal?" The big deal is this offense woke up and did what almost everyone was saying wouldn't happen.

As far as the rest of the year, do I expect 500 yards and 50+ points? Hardly. That performance was what MSU's offense was supposed to do to YSU. It is a sign that maybe we jumped off the wagon a little early. ND will test MSU's offense so we will get to see where we are in hurry here. But no one should get too terribly discouraged if we don't see 30 points against ND either. ND has a better defense then Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota. And have you seen how awesome Nebraska and NW defenses have looked this year (they are combining to allow 450 yards and 27 points on average). I am not saying that any of these teams is on par with YSU but none are sporting the "Steel Curtain". Even an average offense will move the ball on them, so can MSU's offense even get to average? I think that seems obtainable.

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
The Week Three performance validates the probability of at least an 8-win season, and supports the possibility of 9/10 wins. Since 90% of all pre-season predictions for MSU were between eight wins and ten wins, this game told us nothing we didn't already "know" before the season began. However, it largely negates the worst-case-scenarios that were starting to take over after the first two games.

In effect, we're back to "square one". MSU is 3-0, as we knew we would be, and we have a chance to win in South Bend as an Underdog, which is where we expected to be.

One performance aspect that can't be negated by the lower-quality opponent were several great catches by receivers. Most other performance factors could be explained away largely by the FCS team.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
CAVEAT: While we are all pleased by the production of the offense, it is but a single positive result following 2 less than stellar performances. That makes it an indicator without a trendline. In otherwords, was it an anomaly, a fluke, a ton of good luck? Or does it foretell better days ahead. Too soon to tell. Still 3-0 is nothing to complain about.

As I wrote in "MSU FOOTBALL FRONT BURNER - A PLAN OR REACTIONARY TRAIN WRECK?" it appeared that those kids were just trying too hard, which always leads to overthinking everything. Thinking too much inhibits playing well. In the YSU game, the receivers especially seemed more relaxed and were having a bit more fun. If this indicator proves that they have turned the corner then we shall be in for a very fun season.

The YSU game also revealed there is still a lot of work to be done on offense, defense, and special teams especially coverage and returns. Overall, I beleive we can all stop holding our breaths, but the collective sigh of relief can only come after a win in South Bend.

Should we be feeling sorry for Andrew Maxwell and/or Damion Terry?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
No. No player is ever "entitled" to start or even play. While there is a general feeling that any of the 4 quarterbacks would have done well with the receivers producing as they did in the YSU game, Cook earned that start. The offensive scheme was more open and that was pleasing to see.

I believe return2glory covered this best in "REAR-VIEW MIRROR: Dantonio Calls Audible and Improvises in Quarterback Decision". No one should feel sorry for either. Neither failed to receive an equal shot at earning the start.

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
Perhaps on a personal level, but not on a "professional" level. Maxwell had plenty of time in the program to prepare for last year, then got to start 14 consecutive games. His record was 8-6 and his numbers were disappointing. His receivers dropped a lot of balls, but somehow with Connor Cook at quarterback, they made several great catches. I personally feel bad for Maxwell, as it seems he didn't do anything wrong in our program except that he wasn't good enough. On the other hand, don't rule him out, as the two guys ahead of him both will be hit hard a lot on keepers, and Maxwell may still have a storybook ending to his senior season.

For Terry, he has his whole career ahead of him, and he's gotten a lot of attention. He was given more opportunity than most true-freshman quarterbacks to this point. I shed no tears for Damion Terry.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
I do not feel sorry for Damion Terry for not getting his shot. Terry is a superb talent but he didn't enroll early and he is barely 45 days into actually getting college coaching. We hear about O'Connor and Cook still not having a complete grasp of the offense after months in the system. Terry playing should have been a last ditch, backyard offense prayer and not an actual plan unless he was able to pull some amazing pickup on the offense.

I do feel bad for Maxwell in this whole thing. Maxwell all through Spring and Fall camp held on to the job. In the WMU he was the best passer and was the most impacted by WR drops. Despite this, Coach D decided to run Cook and O'Connor against USF, which made sense to see if there was actually something there or if we should just run with Maxwell. Well things went terribly wrong to the point that Maxwell with no game prep was used as some kind of safety blanket. Despite having to turn to Maxwell like that Coach D went with Cook and Terry for prep and it appears that Maxwell (short of a new twist to this season) is done. Basically the job was his and he lost it without getting a shot despite his competitors getting second and third chances. What would Maxwell have looked like against YSU? Better? Worse? Identical? We will never know.

What should Coach Dantonio do in South Bend if the Offense led by Connor Cook looks the same as it did in the first two games of the season?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Good question. I wish I knew what Coach Dantonio has planned for that contingency, but I am certain it has been thought of and he knows what he will "audible" should it come to that.

The last thing he should do is an act of desperation. Putting Terry in for the ND game would be just that. Terry had one good scrimmage but his inexperience, his lack of full knowledge of the offense and the play book, big time pressure, all of it conspire against him and playing him even for a series or two burns his redshirt.

One scenario of dozens is that the defense and special teams are doing the job but Cook and/or the receivers fall back into the dysfunctional performance we have seen in the first two games. That being the case, put in Maxwell. Maxwell is steady and experienced and does not make mistakes. Use that to gain field position advantage so the "Duzzi Dawgs" can be unleashed and possibly score.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
Coach D should hit the run early and often against ND. The strength of their defense is their line but I would lean hard on that strength and try and break it. If that DLine weakens or tires, not only does that force the back 7 to play differently but that will slow the pass rush. In the last two contests against ND, they have sacked MSU 6 times and hurried the QB 15 times! Our OLine has gotten torched two years running now. If the offense struggles its because we got away from the run and went to a predictable passing offense that allows that ND strength to pin its ears back and just cause chaos. At that point, might has well start calling hail mary's.

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
That depends on what's not working. But in general, if the game-plan goes belly-up, it's time to make changes, be they in play-calling or personnel. If nothing is working with Cook for five or more possessions, bring in a different quarterback.

At this point, I see O'Connor as the first backup to Cook, in the sense that they can both carry out the same game-plan with their similar skill-sets. So if Cook gets knocked into next week on a given play, I'm looking for O'Connor to jump in and keep the game-plan moving. But if it's just not working with Cook, we should have a "Game-Plan-B" for Maxwell to implement.

I still believe that Maxwell should be the holder on kicks, not as punishment, but as a true threat to pass on a fake. Seems like his presence as holder would shut down the possibility of a strong rush that could block a kick.

How is the November 2 game against Michigan shaping up in your mind after three games by both teams?

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
I still think both U-of-M and MSU have questions that remain unanswered. Gardner has looked really good at times but has also made some bone-head plays. The U-of-M defense has also been susceptible. But they are still very tough and while they had a bit of a let down last week, they are going to be a tough win in a month and a half. If they were to play today, I would say it would come down to MSU capitalizing on U of M mistakes. If the offense can't do that then the scales are tipped in U of M's favor. If they can, then U of M will have its work cut out for it. MSU's offense isn't great but if you give them extra attempts I think they can capitalize.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
UM took a step back versus Akron and reveals many vulnerabilities. Will Hoke get the team from Ann Arbor Charm School patched up and ready? Probably. YSU only revealed the potential of the MSU Offense but exposed a couple of achilles' heels on defense and special teams. Can Dantonio patch those up and be ready? Probably.

By November 2nd, we should know just how good (or bad) both teams are but at this moment in time, the Polaroid shows both teams are going to be very good and the game should be one ot the top games of the season. If things progress as we hope, it may even become another "Game of the Century."
Let's hope the Spartan rushing attack continues to make strides. The team that wins the ground game usually wins.

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
It's looking pretty even-steven at this point. They clubbed CMU at home and we whipped YSU at home. They stunk against Akron, almost losing, and we were boring and unimpressive in easy wins (with close scores) against our other two cupcakes.

If our starting QB is knocked out before or during that game, I believe we have good players to take over. If their starting QB is knocked out before or during that game, I believe UM is toast.

Their rushing attack is ninth in the B1G while our defense is first in the nation. I invite them to BRING IT ON. They can hire as many planes as they want, but the actual game is played on the field. 500 glazed donuts won't help them in Spartan Stadium.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

REAR-VIEW MIRROR: Dantonio Calls Audible and Improvises in Quarterback Decision

We've had the entire off-season to watch our MSU Football program re-invent itself with a plan to consistently reach championship level. We've seen the Spring Game, we've heard about the quarterback competition in August, and we've watched three actual games worth of "quarterback controversy". In this piece, I give my interpretation and explanation of what has happened thus far.

Preparing and Reacting
When a coaching staff prepares for a game, they create a game-plan. Ideally, things unfold in a way that allows them to follow the plan with some adjustments here and there and they walk away with a victory. They can review the tape and find plenty of things on which to work and improve for the following game. If the game has adversity or misfortune during the game, the staff may need to ditch the game-plan and react to a new reality. Sometimes a game situation, even a single play, can cause a game to "snowball out of control".

In a similar way, Mark Dantonio put together a season-plan for his team and more specifically the quarterback position within the offense before the season started. What we witnessed is not what the head coach and staff had originally planned to happen. When we pass judgement on what we see, we do so with the benefit of seeing how things already played out, including variables brought by the opposing team. It's easy for us, as fans, to ditch a game plan we know little about and contributed nothing towards creating..

The Promises
Mark Dantonio promised thorough evaluations and changes where needed after MSU's offense failed to produce positive results in 2012. Exit Dan Roushar enter the Dave Warner - Jim Bollman combination and several position-coach reassignments.

Dantonio promised competition at the QB position in the spring. Fans hoped it would not just be for show and motivation, but a true competition. Dantonio delivered with a lot of live practices and scrimmages for all of the quarterbacks. Maxwell held on to his job.

Dantonio promised more QB competition in August camp. More reps with the 1s and 2s for all the quarterbacks and more live contact followed. None of the challengers could do quite enough to unseat Maxwell. Most fans accepted the outcome of the competition, although some were disappointed.

Dantonio delivered. He did what he said he would do. Again, Andrew Maxwell passed the test. Receivers had improved. The offensive line looked like a strength. Confidence in the running backs was building. The big concern seemed to be at the tight-end position.

The Plan
Heading into game week, Dantonio had another promise to keep. He was not going to leave the Spartans without an experienced quarterback in 2014 the way his did in 2012 by failing to play Andrew Maxwell in 2011. He looked at the hand he was dealt and figured he'd approach the first three games with a somewhat softer pre-season feel, intending to spread playing time to at least two of the three non-Maxwells.

Dantonio would never verbalize things this way, but it's likely the thought process was something like this:
"Maxwell is the starter. He racks up yards and points in game one and everyone gains confidence. Cook comes in to audition for the assumed #2 role. O'Connor gets his fair shake due to his mobility. All three play if things go right in that game. Ditto for game two with the possible exception of an O'Connor/Cook flip-flop based on their performance the previous week. Damion Terry learns by watching. We believe our best chance to win is with Andrew Maxwell, but we want to be sure and will use the first two games to confirm our decision and to provide valuable experience for all the number two and three quarterbacks. If Andrew stumbles and one of the other guys lights it up and backs it up in practice, we are comfortable making a change, but we don't anticipate that happening. We tighten up loose ends and get experience to whoever needs it in game three as we get set for the meat of the schedule and Notre Dame the following week. We use the bye week to make necessary adjustments, heal up and begin our march to compete for a division championship with our 5th year starter at quarterback and a capable, now experienced back-up."

Dantonio kept his off-season promises and executed an aggressive off-season plan. Much like calling a play in the huddle and assessing the defensive alignment as he approaches the line of scrimmage, Mark Dantonio had to call an audible prior to the snap (he saw the overall ineffectiveness of the offense regardless of who was in at quarterback in the first game). Even though he may have have checked into the right play (going with Cook/O'Connor in game two), assignments were missed (receivers, O-line, no TEs) and bad play calling. It was like a "broken play" in football. He had to improvise (going with Cook/Terry in practice - holding out Maxwell while everyone else learned/competed) to create a positive outcome - or at least avoid a game changing mistake (playing Terry and burning his red-shirt or going with the safe bet of Maxwell which would have created a real issue if he didn't come through - both are still available if needed).

The way the quarterback decision unfolded may have looked like a "quarterback circus" and may have appeared to be a management debacle by Dantonio, but in reality it was an audible into the correct play, then an improvisation on a broken play. While we all tend to consider only a few primary factors when viewing a game or strategic decisions, the head coach has an entire eco-system to consider. There are personalities, micro-messaging, long-term and short-term effects, and a staff of coaches among other issues to calculate. He also has to play out the down-side risk scenarios more seriously than the fan base usually considers. That is why most coaches are naturally risk-adverse.

Most Fans are thrill-seekers. We get to evaluate decisions from a rear-view mirror perspective, while a head coach is making decisions before the scenarios unfold and while circumstances are fluid and quickly changing. It's like a baseball manager bringing in a relief pitcher when the starter was cruising along except for those last two batters who just reached base. The relief pitcher comes in and gives up a double. Fans call in to the local radio stations complaining about the manager making the pitching change as if they know that if the starter had the opportunity, he would have got the next hitter out. In reality, he might have given up a home run, but the caller never considers that possibility. In a way, Dantonio ended up executing his plan. It just didn't look the way he had planned nor did it produce the result he expected. He was forced to adjust on the fly even while being accused of being stubborn.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
In the case of how Dantonio handled the quarterback situation, many think Dantonio caused the problem or at least exacerbated it. They say, "he should have picked one guy and stuck with him" or just "prepared Damion Terry from the beginning so he would have gotten more reps and enough experience by now" or "ditched Andrew Maxwell from the beginning". I think all those approaches are easy to say from where we sit, but they would have violated some basic principles and promises (covered earlier), jeopardized the development of viable plan B options, or would have led us to the same place we ended up anyways. In fact, he actually did pick "one guy" before game one. Receivers couldn't catch passes - easy ones or tough catches, the O-line couldn't protect the quarterback and the TEs were non existent. He picked "one guy" for game two. Some fans just didn't see it that way. He stuck with that guy after game two and confirmed his decision by making sure Terry shouldn't get in the mix after another week of evaluation.

When looking at the quarterback derby as a called play, then an audible, then innovating after the play broke down, Mark Dantonio did just fine making a play with an offense that doesn't have star power. The way Dantonio handled the circumstances was not pretty from a public relations standpoint, but I believe he very well may have prevented the situation from snowballing out of control. He played his cards the best you could expect with the hand he was dealt - especially when considering that he couldn't see all the cards on the table beforehand that we can see now.

The Big Question
I just have to wonder about caliber of this offensive coaching staff at this point. MSU had issues all last year and during the bowl game after the extra practices. The problems persisted into the 2013 season no matter who was playing quarterback. Could Dantonio and MSU have attracted a high-end offensive mind in the off season? Dantonio valued continuity and the security that comes with it more than ingenuity and the risk that comes with it. Yet, there is still a lot of adjusting taking place for the players and staff - The QB coach is now calling plays as co-OC. The RB coach is now coaching QBs, the new co-OC Jim Bollman handles TEs and we are not sure what else he really does. Also Mark Staten was the TE coach before taking over the OL when Roushar became the OC in 2011.

Can this staff evaluate, recruit, develop, coach and game-plan at a championship level? Could it be that Dantonio made a mistake in assembling this staff as he lost Dan Enos, Don Treadwell and Dan Roushar (who was the O-line coach before his trial run at OC). We have to wait and see. If the offense regresses to 2012 form for most of 2013, BIG changes will be needed. If we see a 2012 re-run, will Dantonio say goodbye to his long-time friends on that side of the ball to bring in a high powered staff to get the most out of Damion Terry? Would Narduzzi staying at MSU or leaving influence that decision? All of these issues will be solved if the Spartans can produce on offense and get back to the Big Ten Championship game in 2013.


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Monday, September 16, 2013


Dear chUMps,

Just wanted to give you a shout out and see how you were feeling after your big home win against Akron on Saturday. Man, that was a first-class blowout, you guys really showed your dominance.

I saw you paid some dudes to skywrite a message over the stadium before the game. But you got the wrong stadium! Your game was being played in Ann Arbor, while coincidentally, we had a game coming up when your planes starting blowing smoke. Silly chUMps, nice idea, but you missed!

Hey, what was all the trash you were talking about the past two weeks? Something about our team not winning very "convincingly" against "inferior opponents"? What was that again?

It is sort of funny that blue-sky message was being written just as your team was getting it's lips Zipped in front of all your fans. Great win, awesome, like I said, your team looks totally unstoppable. Especially if you can avoid playing M.A.C. teams or even those from the lower division. (Seem to recall you had some difficulty with an FCS team in the past.)

Looks like your quarterback may have missed out on the September Heisman, too bad for him. I know how much he was counting on getting it, sort of like a birthright as a UM QB, right? But at least he is still President of the United States, at least in his own mind.

Maybe your players shouldn't have shoveled down all those donuts right before the game. Oh well, Coach Hoke told them to do it, didn't he? He sure loves his donuts! (How does he keep his figure?)

At least you can be proud that your football team is still on NCAA Probation. Not many teams can make that claim. That's part of the "Michigan Difference". The entire Hoke Era has been marked by Probation and plenty of donuts.

So anyway, I guess if your team scores only 28 points on Akron, that's a lot like scoring 26 on Western Michigan or maybe 21 on South Florida. And I guess that giving up 24 to Akron is like allowing 17 to Youngstown State. Maybe your team and my team aren't as "different" as you've all been saying the past two weeks.

In fact, maybe you all ought to just shut up and realize you're no better than Akron, on any given day. Just like everybody else. You're "normal", not "special". Just like everybody else.

So Zip your lips and we'll see you on November 2nd. Bring your planes along if you want to, it seemed to work fine for us on Saturday in Spartan Stadium.  See you then!

Most Sincerely Not Yours,


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Thursday, September 12, 2013


The Michigan Football program marked a key historical milestone recently, as it passed one-thousand days on NCAA Probation. That's a Grand number, half a ton worth of days. (Or, as Ed Martin would say, "One, Large".)

Probation has been good for Michigan Football. They win more games now, sell more merchandise, and recruit better since turning themselves in and getting punished for cheating. The life and times of UM football has certainly improved since the official spanking.

They have played 33 games since getting on Probation, and their record since then is 23-10. That compares very favorably to the 14-19 record compiled in the 33 games played before being granted "probation status". Michigan has done well wearing the orange jumpsuit, they seem comfortable with their own punishment.

Speaking of Probation, that's just what those two U-of-M Wrestlers got in court last week, on charges of manufacturing explosives. Molotov Cocktails, to be precise. Pretty soft treatment for a couple of miscreants who literally set fire to their own neighborhood when Louisville won the national basketball championship in April. (An excerpt from the court web site is below, along with a link to the web site.)

So when the football probation finally ends for Michigan, the wrestlers probation will still be in full swing. Combined with the men's basketball probation from last decade, the University of Michigan will continue to have a major sports program or active scholarship athletes on probation since virtually the turn of the century.


9/03/1313-794 FHP v Dozier, Justin DeanOrder of Probation
DateCase #People vs DefendantJudge's Order
9/03/1313-795 FHP v Bruno, Rosario RobertOrder of Probation

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Each Tuesday we discuss Spartan Football. 
{These questions were posed to our contributors prior to today's press conference.}

Question #1
People are criticizing Dantonio's approach to the quarterback "competition" or "decision". The offense isn't working, but other approaches could have produced even more controversy. What is your opinion on his approach to this point? Is it time for a new approach?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Yes and no. The quarterback competition is not succeeding and it is taking on a risk of not allowing the offense to come together. The quarterback position is not the problem, never was. The dysfunctional offense came from a failure of the team, not an individual.

The new approach is the old approach. Pick one of those kids and go with it. Get back to smash-mouth football. Don't worry about making big plays, worry about making first downs. A 5 yard pass is the same amount of progress down the field as a 5 yard run. Get those going and the big plays will come on their own.

We have not reached the point where a last great act of desperation is needed. What a lot of those critical people are calling for amounts to nothing less. I trust the coaching staff to make sure that the "cure is worse than the disease" does NOT happen.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
I am not a fan of the way Coach D has approached the quarterback situation. I had zero issues up until the season started. I liked them going live and the constant competition. But there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the QB shuffle we are seeing. I thought we would see Maxwell, Cook and O'Connor in the first two games and then we would see the race take shape through those games and then YSU would be test run of what we are running with. Coach D might very well have treated those first two games as preseason games where he wanted to see different guys in different situations. I can't make heads or tails of it but I guess I am not supposed to. It very well could be that he is looking for something and hasn't seen any of the guys show it yet too. If there is no semblance of an actual plan/rotation against YSU, then I fear for how ugly it could get against ND.

Question #2
Would you characterize MSU's difficulties moving the football a "quarterback problem" or an "offense problem"?

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
The MSU problems are completely the entire offense and not just the QB's. And it starts with the guys up in the booth. Our game plan looks non-existent. Spartan football has been premised on running the ball and setting up the pass. We struggle in games where we can't get defenses to look run first. One of last year's biggest issues was defenses were focused on the run but our OLine couldn't protect well enough for the play-action pass to work. This year we have come out throwing the ball. Against USF our RB's averaged almost 6 YPC but they only carried the ball 6 times in the first half. The RB's, while not overwhelming, have been solid. We would have freaked out if Bell did not get his carries last year but this year not only are the RB's not getting the carries they should but we are not trying to establish the run early. This could be another sign that the coaches are treating these first games as scrimmages and not tipping their hand on what ND can expect. On the other hand, they could be flailing and hoping to see something work. Either way, the play calling needs to get organized, QB have to get the right plays in and make the right reads, RB's have to keep up their production when they get their shots, and WR's have to catch the ball and make plays with the ball in their hands.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Neither and both. The quarterback is part of the offense and the offense is not scoring points. But in reality it is a team problem. The offense should not lean on the defense. The offense should not lean on special teams. The offense should carry its wieght and not grow dependent on anything but itself. Unfortunately, the offense is headed towards an addiction to watching the defense score the winning points.

The offense and special teams have been winning the field position battle in a big way. This has put the defense in the position where they can be more aggressive and make those big plays (and score defensive TDs). This is a positive worth noting.

The coaches need to adapt their play calling to keep drives alive. On 3rd & 5, calling a buttonhook route 2 yards short of the marker does not acknowledge that receivers are not up to getting those extra 2 yards, yet. Call a pattern that lets the receiver catch the ball for a first down before he tries to get extra yards. First 2 drives in the WMU game stalled for just exactly that play call.

The real problem is not the quarterback or the talent and experience of the receivers or the tight end and running back transitions. The problem is not physical at all. It is psychological. They are putting too much pressure on themselves, a lot of it self-imposed by the kids themselves, and they are just thinking too much. There is no evidence of kidding around or joking on the sidelines. They need to have some kind of comic relief. Maybe the solution is just simply to have someone spend the last couple of minutes before they hit the tunnel telling a joke. Get them to laugh and relax a bit. Those receivers can catch the ball. They can get separation. They can make big plays. But they are trying to "prove" something and they have put too much pressure on themselves and are over-thinking every move. That is handicapping them. They need to just go out and have fun playing ball.

Rather than bearing down even more, they simply need to lighten up. To quote Denicos Allen: "Why not go out there and keep having fun?" Coaches and players. Fans, too.

A lot of this comes from not knowing how to deal with such lofty expectations that back-to-back 11-win seasons created. If this were a Bobby Williams or a John L. Smith team, would we, the fans, have such angst? 7-6 would have been a good season back in 2006.

Question #3
What primary program and/or season considerations do you hope Dantonio values most with regard to handling the quarterbacks in the final "tune-up" game before South Bend and the B1G?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
I hope Coach Dantonio has a plan to successfully transition a new QB into 2014. I hope this season, not just the tune-up game is geared towards that. It is conceivable that we have to sacrifice this season for the sake of the next 3 or 4 (future) seasons and if that is the case, so be it.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
It is my hope that Coach D values winning games now. I am all about planning for MSU's future but putting Terry out on the field because "it will be good for MSU's future" or not playing Maxwell "because he isn't a long term solution" is laughable to me. As bad as the first 2 games have looked, we are still undefeated. I don't care who is under center as long as they give us the best chance to win football games. If you start playing for next year that means you have given up on this year. I will never get on board with giving up on this season. Given the schedule and the equality of talent in the division, things can happen even if you lose a game. Winning is the most important stat of all.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Assessing Terry O'Cookwell at QB: Spartans First Team in History With Losing Record While Still Undefeated

While we sit here with our favorite team at 2-0, it almost feels like 0-2. In fact, this reality is about as bad as any script that you could have drawn up for the Spartans minus injuries, losses and defensive woes. While MSU's quarterback combination of  O'Cookwell has been a recipe for disaster, leaving any one quarterback in for an entire game or half would likely have left Spartan fans with that same, "I ate something bad" feeling.

After Dantonio announced that Andrew Maxwell would start at quarterback heading into the season, an M-Live reader, jaytheshocker prophetically shared this with other readers, "... Instead of being excited about the upcoming season, I'm rather frustrated. Although it's not a surprise that Max is being named starter, I'm still expecting the same song n' dance we watched last year. I look forward to the world of check downs and inept offense." I just couldn't see it being any worse than last year and could not accept that improvements in other areas would not improve quarterback play - regardless of who was named quarterback. I tried to console him with my view that Maxwell was not THE problem in 2012.

So was I wrong about Maxwell? I don't think so. I think I was wrong about EVERYTHING ELSE. Have we really seen any of the QBs really run the team? No - nor should we. None of them have shown they can do it effectively. Instead, we have only seen what O'Cookwell can do and it's leaving us all hungry for something different.

Here are my previous posts about Andrew Maxwell:
While MSU does not have an RG III or Andrew Luck, I think Dantonio's approach with the off-season QB competition and 2013 "rotation" has proven that Andrew Maxwell is not the problem with the offense. There is a reason he keeps trotting Maxwell out on the field. He happens to be the best all around quarterback TODAY. The problem is that all the quarterbacks who have played so far have more problems with this offense than opposing defenses have handling our offense. It's an offensive problem more than quarterback problem. That does not mean that the quarterbacks are THE problem. At times they merely contribute to the deeper underlying problem.

Heading into the season, I projected that reduced injuries, improved schemes, pass-run balance, experience and variety of other factors would lead to a better overall system. If that were true, combined with an older/wiser Maxwell and an injury free spring for him (unlike 2012) and having to earn the job (unlike 2012) and there would have to be some improvement for him and the offense. I spelled it out in both the posts and received much support in the view and actually picked up many fans repeating the concepts on M-Live and other media sites.

Most of us expected the receivers to produce better. I don't mean just catching "catch-able" balls. I mean making plays. Making those great catches that extend drives - that get the first down or that "second & short" which makes a play-action deadly. I mean creating separation down field so whoever is in at QB does not need time to check down to option 2, 3, and 4, causing a 2-yard throw on third and 8. I mean running a 5-yard route at five yards, not 3 yards, and yes, catching the ball. All good offenses get that type of play from their receivers. I was wrong about the receivers - so far. Then, there is the list of all the complaints about the scheme and other issues. Would Maxwell or any of the other quarterbacks function better if the rest were not so dysfunctional? Yes. But, it's their job to make good with what they have and O'Cookwell has failed. Dantonio has kept his word by giving them all a fair shot (consider camp and practices too).

So what is Dantonio to do now?
He knows. He has determined that Maxwell is the best quarterback, but the offense clearly does not work with Maxwell or O'Cookwell in there. He needs to add a new ingredient. He needs to add an element that does not exist in the current offense. He needs to add Damion Terry in heavy doses vs. Youngstown State.

The upside:
  • If DT truly does possess physical skills that other quarterbacks do not have, this offense clearly needs the help. 
  • If DT truly has "IT" as some have suggested, this offense needs as much of "IT" as is available.
  • It prepares Terry for 2014.
  • You have a low-mistake back-up in Maxwell (unless you take SpartanMan82's route of letting Maxwell be the holder on field goals the rest of his career).
The downside:
  • If the upside is just not true or Terry is just not ready, it could exacerbate the problems the offense is having by adding crucial mistakes the Spartans have avoided for the most part so far. 
  • If the upside is true, but the offense is so screwed up that even with the addition of Terry's strength's the offense remain anemic, it could spell disaster for the cohesiveness of an otherwise mentally tough team.
  • The way I understand the red-shirt rule, Terry would lose his ability to red-shirt, setting up a real log-jam at the QB position next year if he is the assumed starter. It could could lead to a disastrous (yet doubtful) transfer of both Cook and O'Connor. Likely, one will transfer if Terry is the assumed starter.
It is time. It doesn't mean it will work.


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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Offense Sputters, Defense Shines, and a Mark Dantonio Conspiracy Theory:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again “I’ll take a bad win over a good loss any day of the week.” Well, Saturday was bad, but not atrocious. Let’s recap MSU’s win over WMU 26-13. 

The offense sputtered for much of the game, with 297 total yards, 1 touchdown, 2 FGs, and a lost fumble. Maxwell seemed to complete his throws but was unable to move the ball consistently, while Cook was able to move the ball but couldn't complete his throws. Cook also was able to create some decent offensive runs with an interesting read-option look. Between the two of them, we have one decent QB. They combine for 17-37 for 116 passing yards. But the guys under-center weren't entirely to blame, RBs Langford & (Riley) Bullough looked good at times but still appeared like first-year backs. It still boggles my mind that WR's coach Terrence Samuel still has a job (let alone deserved a pay raise this year). Despite the so-called improvements in camp, Spartan WRs had six dropped passes, including some really glaringly bad ones. All in all the offense should play better this week against a USF defense that gave up 51 points to McNeese State last week. 

What more can you say about a defense that surrendered just 11 total rushing yards, causes 4 turnovers and scores two TDs? The highly touted defense created havoc all night for the Broncos who eeked out a meager 4-for-20 on 3rd down conversions. As a Spartan fan (and former DB), I can honestly say that Kurtis Drummond’s interception was “Woodson-esque” from 1997. I'm okay with making that comparison because that 1997 defense made plays and won games for that team. This Spartan defense could be close to that level of intensity. And speaking of intensity, was I the only Spartan fan that was reminded of Batman’s nemesis Bane when looking at Shilique Calhoun’s fumble recovery for a touchdown? Modeled after the NY (football) Giants’ Jason Tuck, Calhoun picked up the Marcus Rush forced fumble for a 16 yard score. After Friday night's game, he was quoted as saying, "“When I step on the field, I’m a different type of guy... And I feel like that facemask is kind of like my alter ego.” The Spartan defense also had five sacks and 22 QB hits. Look for more of the same this week. 

If you think Mark Dantonio has been a little hush-hush on the QB controversy, that might be the biggest understatement of the year. But here's my Dantonio conspiracy theory: 

MSU opens the season with three weak non-conference foes before playing #14 Notre Dame in Week Four. The Spartans don't play another ranked opponent until Week Nine against U-M. Last year, the Spartans got owned by the Irish, who sniffed out their schemes all game long. Dantonio, while admittedly not being impressed with the talent on the field has a starter in mind right now. I truly believe Dantonio wants to choose a starter and stick with them. But MSU needs this Notre Dame game and is willing to cause some obfuscation in the earlier weeks if it creates scouting havoc for the Irish, who not only lost their defensive field general Manti T'eo and a few other defense starters, but also their 2 top RBs (Riddick & Wood) and leading receiver (Eifert).

Here's Dantonio (at 0:17) doing his Bill Belichick routine.

Go Green!
Dan Stepanian-Bennett

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This week's FRONT-BURNER Questions:
Heading into 2013, we generally emphasized the positives on this site, but on Friday night, we saw what the doubters predicted play-out almost exactly to their script.
After Game One:
  • What was most disturbing?
  • Where is the silver lining?
  • How have you adjusted your expectations of specific aspects of the 2013 team, scheme, staff or general results?

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
The most disturbing thing about that game was to see our receivers dropping so many passes. It was especially bad to see a senior drop three. I thought the receivers would have come together as a group and resolve to not let that happen again. Fowler should be benched for his three drops and Burbridge should be benched for his key drop and needless personal foul. And by "benched", I don't mean "demoted to second string"; I mean they should both sit and watch the entire game from the bench.

The silver lining is that one of our quarterbacks must have done better than anybody seems to think right now. The five to seven drops should be added back to either Maxwell or Cook to re-calculate their stats. If the drops were evenly divided, both guys were a little better than reported. If most or all of the drops came on passes from only one of those two guys, then that guy had a great game.

I'm holding off on any revised expectations until we can see a couple of more games. We should know much more after this weekend, and even more after three games. The road trip to South Bend will be a major checkpoint on the rest of the season. We all just have to remain calm until we get more information.

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
The most disturbing thing I saw was the offense. It was not what we have come to expect from an MSU offense. If you asked me what a Mark Dantonio offense would look like, I would have said it would need a QB that can complete at least 60-65% of his passes because we are going to pound the ball with a physical running game and when we pass it has to be with a high efficiency. But instead of coming out and pounding the rock, we opened with 10 passes in our first 15 plays. We threw the football more times in the first 3 quarters than we ran the ball. The worst thing about it was the run game was working. Taking away the 2 kneel downs, MSU averaged over 4.6 yards per carry (that is a better average than all but 3 games last year). Was this the coaches wanting the show off what the passing game could do and it backfired? Was this Warner and Bollman venturing off on their own and getting away from what MSU football has been? Was it just coincidence because of the situations we were in? I guess we will see going forward but I think that pushing the running game can only help the passing game.

The silver lining for me is our defense. The defense is still amazing. The defensive line was aggressive and got tons of pressure on the WMU QB and set up big mistakes. Narduzzi looks to be on top of his game being able to coach up a defense despite not having a lot of film on what they were going to see. His halftime adjustments were superb also. And the best part of all is things didn't go perfect, so Narduzzi is going to have a laundry list of things these guys are going to have to work on going forward. This defense will keep us in every game.

My expectations for this team have not changed. The game was not a pretty win but it was a win. I will take 14 ugly wins over a pretty looking team that loses everyday of the week. The defense will keep us in games and the offense will make adjustments. You look across college football and there are a great number of top ranked teams that have to make similar adjustments. Is anyone out there worried about Bama's shot at making a run for a National Championship because their offense barely managed 200 total yards and didn't break 100 yards rushing? What about Texas A&M giving up 31 points to Rice? Does the fact that Buffalo had the 100th ranked scoring team last year and put up 20 on OSU despite not getting anything in garbage time? Maybe you are worried about how Miss St. was the 53rd ranked defense last year and Oklahoma State managed all of 21 points against them this weekend? MSU has work to do. There is no doubt about it but there is plenty of time to get there. I think its too early to push the panic button and give up on this year. We are still undefeated and looking good at winning means nothing.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow S76 on M-Live)
What was most disturbing? 2 things:
  • A repetition of last season's dropped passes.
  • A repetition of last season's 3rd down play calling that had the receiver stop 2 yards short of the 1st down marker. Those buttonhook patterns put the receiver's back to the defender. Can't get yards after catch if you don't know what the "space" is.
Where is the silver lining? Langford and, more generally, the rushing game will establish itself. A schematic error was identified in the power play, for example, and with that corrected we should see more yards on the ground. That was a specific example, but across the board, especially with reps with all the o-line starters all healthy, there will be more than satisfactory improvement.

Cook can run. Maxwell can pass. The QB contest is not over, but let Maxwell have receivers that catch the ball and he is throwing at 70%. Give him some better plays and the yards will go up. And, Maxwell showed us he could scramble and gain yardage. I would like to see Cook transitioned into a Keith Nichol type role - wildcat/receiver. He would definitely add to the offense being in there, just not as a pocket passer.

Our punter is a stud. We had 300+ "hidden" yards from field position and punting was the big reason.

How have you adjusted your expectations of specific aspects of the 2013 team, scheme, staff or general results? I still believe the Spartans will have a successful season. A winning season where they do contend for the conference title. The number of problems seen this season are actually fewer than last year - so far, and it is probable that we will see improvements on those as the season progresses. Somehow I can't help but think that the receivers are putting too much pressure on themselves, that they should go out and "have fun" rather than working to make things happen. If they loosen up a tad and they will play better. They may be trying too hard to prove something.

What has changed the most is my expectations of how the fans will support this team. Even last year's 7-6 season was far better than what we went through with Smith, Williams, and Waters just to name a few. The fans seem to be taking their cues from chUMps and THAT is quite disappointing. Spartans Stand Together and we should be on a higher plane than the Ann Arbor Charm School.

We should be looking at possible solutions to problems rather that being so earger to deal out punishment to those who make mistakes. "If we ___ then we can accomplish ___" is a much better approach than crying for a different QB or for firing a coach or benching a player.

[The FRONT-BURNER will post on Tuesdays
for the remainder of the Football Season.]

Off topic - I just wanted to share the pregame street march video of the MSU Marching Band. Students line up for the game early because their section is general admission. They never get a chance to see this! On another note, the student section was hilarious at the game. As the rains came they began to cheer. As the it turned to a downpour, they roared in defiance as if to say, "Bring it on!". Then when the lightening struck and the players and fans were running for cover and the rains turned torrential, the student did what their shirts proclaimed, SPARTANS STAND TOGETHER and they were as loud as I've ever heard them. Everyone was leaving - NOT THEM! NOT ONE! They were jumping and dancing. It was worth standing in the rain just to watch and listen to them. Great job! I thought an orgy might break out. Someone said to me, "I bet some of the students wish the student section t-shirts were white this year." 

Here is the best street marching band in the land: (Oops - video not working right. Will re-post when we ger 'er fixed.)

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The Michigan Football team remains on NCAA Probation as they prepare to play Notre Dame this weekend. The penalties were announced in November 2010.

Most people don't realize it, but the sanctions are in effect until this November, three years after they were announced. The school had self-imposed a two-year Probation, but the NCAA added another year to the probation period.

Many of you reading this will not believe it, as the Mainstream Media has this fact shoved under the same rug where they always put the bad news about UM. Therefore, we provide multiple links (below) so that you can feel confident speaking with others about this FACT.

Brady Hoke has never been Head Coach of a Michigan team that was not on Probation. He is sort of like the "Football Warden" in Ann Arbor. (He was only hired after UM was spurned by Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles.)

When reading the links below, check the date of the article and look for the effective date of the Probation penalty. You will see that it does not expire until November 2013, right after they play Michigan State in Spartan Stadium.

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