Monday, September 29, 2014


In the fourth quarter, I mostly had my head buried in my phone between plays. I saw Morris get hit and come up limping, clearly in pain. I saw Morris get hit again after skying one over Funchess and come up limping worse. I saw Morris get hit AGAIN and lie on the turf, then come up on one leg. I didn't see him wobble, because my face was buried in my phone, tweeting:

I couldn't imagine anything less than Devin Gardner being physically unable to walk would keep a one-legged Shane Morris on the field. After seeing the video of Morris unable to see straight or stand on his own, to begin walking off, than waving himself back onto the field, I'm appalled.

Nothing about it makes sense. Morris had been ineffective all game, winging passes wide of his receivers and side-arming his throws. His leg was clearly injured, so why on Earth would you keep him out there? And nobody was telling the coaches or medical staff that something was not OK with Morris? Incredible.

To say that Morris wanted to stay out there and fight is simply gross and disgusting. Football players are conditioned to always want to stay in the game, to get one more play, to be a "warrior". Take yourself out the game and get a repuation for being soft. It's on the coaches and the medical staff to see that a player is struggling and pull him. To put that obligation on some kid whose scholarship depends on your evaluation of him as a player, when he knows how you and your staff venerate your own version of "toughness", is outrageous and wrong.

Honestly, from a football standpoint I couldn't believe that Gardner wasn't the quarterback when Michigan got the ball for the first time in the fourth quarter. Michigan's one sequence with any offensive success was Morris handing off to Smith; other than that, they couldn't sustain anything. Gardner might not have been the answer, but why leave in a rookie to get shelled like that?

Bottom line: Gardner should have relieved the ineffective Shane Morris. Gardner should have relieved the Shane Morris with a leg injury. To leave a possibly concussed Morris in the game rather than go to Gardner is inexcusable. And to send Morris back out, even to hand off, is horrifying. Fire everyone.

While the offense withered, the defense mostly stood their ground. The only disappointing drive was the one immediately following the Wolverines' first touchdown. Giving up that lead took the wind out of everyone's sails. But they fought on.

It wasn't until deep into the third quarter when they gave up the ghost. After consecutive Minnesota drives starting inside the Michigan 40 on which the Gophers only scored 3 points, a Morris pass was tipped and returned for a pick six. On the next Michigan drive, Morris was sacked at his own 30 and fumbled, which was of course recovered by Minnesota.

Minnesota scored a touchdown in five plays to make it 27-7.

The Gophers went into a shell for the rest of the game, throwing only two more passes, both of which were to Maxx Williams. When handed starting field position on the Michigan 45, the Gophers turned it into a field goal. At the end of the game, they chose to take a knee at the Michigan 16 rather than run up the score. That's Minnesota Nice: We could have stomped you even worse, but we're gentlemen.

In the end, I left with a little over four minutes left on the clock, right after Michigan sent in the punt team on 4th and 10 from their own 5. I understand that, if you fail, you're gift-wrapping a touchdown for Minnesota. But surrendering possession there is conceding the game. And if the coaches don't care to win the game, or even protect their players, I'm not obligated to stick around. Instead, I beat the traffic, got home at a reasonable hour, and had dinner with my wife, which was the best part of the day.

Homecoming is on November 1, against Indiana. I was planning to make that the other game I'll attend this year. Now I'm not sure. It's a $15 fee; assuming that all of the money goes to the band alumni association, I'm OK with it. But I'm reluctant to have another dollar of mine go to this athletic department. I'm not planning on ordering any hockey tickets or basketball tickets in the near future. And I haven't paid for a football ticket since 2006. I don't see myself breaking that trend any time soon.

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