I'm going to take a stab at a new feature here, something I'm calling "A Girl Scouts". I thought about calling it THE Girl Scouts, but worried about the little green gnomes suing me for infringement or some such nonsense. Plus, while I am no shrinking violet, I thought utilizing a determiner in reference to myself would be beyond the pale and just plain narcissistic. However, I am not so humble as to believe that I don't have something useful and prescient to say about upcoming games. SO. When I consider Saturday's game I believe that Michigan's success will hinge on 3 factors. 1) QB Play, 2) The Run Game, 3) The Fourth Quarter.
Exhibit A---Brian Hoyer. Ok, no kidding, check out the guy's myspace page He spells the name of his school's mascot with an "E". No, really. A 6'3", 215 lb. senior from Ohio, Hoyer has a 49% completion rate this season with a QB rating of 117.09. He has 6 aerial TDs and 4 air mails to the other team. And, he's been sacked 6 times. Here's my point: sack him, rush him, pressure him, bother molest and otherwise annoy him to no end and he will fold. He averages 2 rushes a game and basically rushes the other way: -14 against Florida Atlantic, -7 against Iowa, -15 for Northwestern and Ohio State each. The guy isn't going anywhere. Blitz him. Defend the screen pass. You heard it here first Shafer.
Exhibit B ---Steven Threet. Couldn't find a myspace or facebook page for this 6'6" 230 lb. youngin' from Adrian, MI. Stevie has a 52% completion rate with 6 TDs, 3 INTs and 8 sacks. He put up 89 yards on the ground against Wisconsin and racked up 50 in Happy Valley. I call for more off tackle-misdirection rushing plays for him. They will result in big gains. Mark my words. Overall he has a QB rating of 107.81. Ugly, I know, but while he was in the game against PSU he completed 69.2% of his passes. Throw quick up and outs and bubble screens to get a flow going, then stretch the field up top to Matthews. And throw the crossing route in the soft spot of the zone. I'm telling you, that's gonna be the honey hole. BUT: I've said it, Andy's said it and I'm gonna say it again without a solid game from Threet we are done. cooked. hapless. sans rudder. adios. Pray for healing of Threet's olecranon and/or ulnar nerve. Nay---have his mommy kiss his oww-y elbow all week long.
THE RUN GAME:
Ok, stop the eye-rolling because of course Javon Ringer is the key here. The guy is a beast and a true double threat....14 rushing TDs this year so far, and an average of 6.3 yards per reception...but those big numbers came against the likes of Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame, Indiana, and Northwestern. The Buckeyes held him to 67 yards rushing and no TDs. Iowa kept him under a C-note, and Cal allowed only 81 yards for Javon on the ground. But, not so fast Sparty: Our defense has held opponents to an average of 3.3 yards/rush and 120.9 rushing yards per game. Javon, meet the linebackers. We've got to stop him on the line and defend the screen. And the best fun fact about Javon Ringer???? He's NEVER fumbled. Never, ever while a Sparty. Javon, meet the law of averages! Cough it up buddy!!!! Noo-NAN!!! uuuhhhDROPIT! I'm calling for one crucial fumble by Javon. How beautiful for him to drop the rock and cost his team the game. Yes, when Sparty is concerned I am a spiteful sadist. So sue me.
THE FOURTH QUARTER:
First, we gotta play the whole damn game. It's deja-freakin'-Lloydball-vu-all-over-again. We've given up 57 points in the 4th quarter and have only scored 45 on our side. Not sure why the secret weapon hasn't really kicked in this season....but Sparty needs to fear the chocolate cow. I don't think that it's conditioning like it has been in the past. You don't see kids looking gassed or holding their knees. No-I think it's a concentration issue. And, honestly, a coaching issue. After the half, the coaches aren't making (any?) the right adjustments and then the wheels come right on off the bus. We've scored a measly 7 points in the third Q and given up a lop-sided 28 to the enemy. Ok, that sucks. So maybe my key to the game should really be about coming out strong in the 3rd which will then carry over mentally to the 4th???? Either way---play the whole damned game!! The only problem beyond anyone's control is mid-terms. All students had Monday and Tuesday off from school for "fall study days". Either, school will get in the way of game prep or being done with mid-terms will allow complete concentration on the game.... Coin-toss there. Either way....stay in the game dudes, K?
Overall, I think that we can win this game, but it's going to take concentration, commitment, and execution. And, as I told Andy--if even ONE of my points comes to fruition over the course of the game, I will be IMPOSSIBLE to blog with!!!! :-)