Monday, 26 September 2011

Joy Division, Hipsters, Denard Robinson and You

We've been here before, haven't we?  Michigan is 4-0 to start the season and ranked in the top 25.  In 2009 and 2010 the Wolverines started out the same way and people were talking about the former coaching staff finally getting things going in the right direction.  Then the wheels came off.  So this season it seems like instead of excitement, we're getting anxiety.  Questions instead of celebration.  It seems like some people are looking for reasons why it can't or won't last.  And I don't know, they might be right.  But the defense is giving up 12.75 points per game, the best 4 game start since 2003 (yes, even better than that great '06 defense), and while the offense has moved in fits and starts Michigan is still averaging 32 points and 406 yards per game. 

This team isn't going undefeated or even likely to be playing in the inaugural BIG title game at Lucas Oil Stadium.  At some point the defense won't get those crucial turnovers or Denard's lack of passing ability will bite or field goal kicking BLERG will strike.  This isn't a perfect team.  They have flaws and warts and all got bad haircuts on the same day and stubbed their toes getting out bed.  But they are a team.  A family all working toward the same goal, to restore the pride and tradition of Michigan football.  And I for one am just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.  While complaining alot.  And probably writing whiny emo posts after every loss.  So yea, feel free to do that as well.

And now the SDSU game as told through things hipsters like and dislike.

Hipsters like: A totally great band but you've probably never heard of them because they're like, totally obsure but really amazing.

I like: Running Denard Robinson
Denard Robinson may be the greatest running QB ever.  When he has the ball in his hands and he's on the run he can score from anywhere on the field.  He's fast, agile and can just explode through an opening like he knew it was going to be there all along.  He almost seems to be toying with defenders trying to catch him at times.  After last Saturday he has 2,605 yards and 24 TD's on the ground in his career.  He's just incredible and a real joy to watch.  Michigan broke out the speed option (Good call Brian) to great effect.  I hope we see more of it because it can be a devastating run play, especially with a quarterback that can run like Denard.

Hipsters like: Pabst Blue Ribbon (ironically of course)

I like: The rest of the running game
Vincent Smith may have gained more yards in other games but to me this was his best game as a college player.  He was fighting through tackles, picking up tough yards and finding holes.  Smith ended the day with 47 yards and a TD on 9 carries (5.2 YPC) to go along with 3 catches for 44 yards.  He's not an every down back and shouldn't be the main guy getting the ball, but as a situational guy with around 10 touches a game he can be a real threat. 

Fitzgerald Toussaint also had a really nice game with 67 tough yards on 13 carries.  He ran hard and may be developing into the feature back Michigan has been looking for.  If he can stay healthy of course.  X-Ray Men ba dum bum and all that.

Hipsters like: Being pretentious and anything ironic

I like: The defense
This defense might not be a "Michigan" defense.  They might not have a bunch of future NFL stars like the '06 group.  But damn it they make plays when they need to.  Michigan held SDSU star running back Ronnie Hillman to just over 100 yards and forced him to fumble twice.  Craig Roh chipped in with a strip sack in his second nice game in a row.  His most impressive play of the day though came when he threw the TE trying to block him out of the way to meet Hillman in the backfield on a 3rd and short.  They may give up some yards and at some point the turnovers won't come but this is the true definition of bend but don't break defense. Which is a nice change from the the bend then shatter then fall weeping to the floor screaming your rage at an unjust God defense we've seen the last couple years.

Hipsters don't like: Not being pretentious douchebags

I don't like: Passing Denard Robinson
I know I've harped on it in the offensive breakdowns but Denard has been a terrible passer so far this year.  I really don't think it's because of the new system or the throws he's being asked to make either.  He's missing wide open receivers on all types of throws on a regular basis (as Brian at MGoblog would say Tacopants is having a fantastic year).  That's not the system or the type of throws, that's just not being a very good passer.  His mechanics are the real problem.  He overstrides, which causes throws to go high, and doesn't stride toward his target, especially when throwing to his right.  I know it's tough to do when you have very large, very angry men trying to behead you, but he really has to slow down (I know, impossible) and concentrate on his mechanics.

(Is Denard Robinson a hipster QB?  Like ironically great?  He's a guy that people said wouldn't be able to play QB at the college level that has become a great QB but is actually not a very good QB because he can't really throw, and that's the primary job of a QB right?  But in the spread and in our offense in it's current form that isn't the primary job of the QB so he actually is a great QB.  Is that ironic?  I don't really get irony.)

Hipsters don't like: things that aren't ironic

I don't like: The kicking game
Seriously, Matt Wile can't be worse than Gibbons right?  Right?  Just say yes and ease my fevered brow.

Hipsters don't like: Nickleback

I don't like: Nickleback
I mean seriously, it's Nickleback.


And now for something not at all different, players and other things told in mostly Indie Rock bands (yes, I listen to Rilo Kiley and Handsome Furs and the Decemberists.  Yes most of the music I listen to would be considered hipster music.  I just try not to be such an arrogant ass about it).

Denard Robinson - Joy Division:  Pioneers of the post punk movement in the late 1970's, Joy division changed the face of music at the time along with bands like Echo and the Bunnymen and the Cure.  Inspired by punk music, Joy Divison still had the aggressive bass lines, but slowed down the punk sound giving them a less chaotic, cleaner sound.  Ian Curtis' lyrics were brilliant (although depressing and as it turned out somewhat prescient) and he was captivating on a live stage.  But the band had one fatal flaw.  Curtis suffered from grand mal seizures which embarrassed him and led to (or perhaps exacerbated his already existing) depression.  Curtis took his own life on 18 may, 1980.

Now I will never say that Denard Robinson is depressed.  I'm not sure he could be.  But he has changed the game.  He is that same rare talent that makes you sit up and take notice and say "this is something I've never seen before."  He captivates you, he makes you want to watch.  He has that quick running style, but as Magnus/Thunder at Touch the Banner has pointed out, he does seem to be slower.  But he's more under control.  He's not that chaotic Denard from his freshman season or the end of last season.  He knows what he wants to do and where he wants to go. 

But like Ian Curtis he can be unsure of himself.  And this may be the fatal flaw.  His passing is not great.  He seems unsure at times.  And it probably will kill Michigan at some point.  And like members of Joy Division following Curtis' death, we'll probably all say we should have seen it coming.

If you don't know Joy Divison make sure to start with the songs Shadowplay and Transmission.

The defense - Sleigh Bells:  Sleigh Bells might not be the most talented group out there. They probably have as many duds as hits but when they get it right it can be amazing.  They came out with heavy guitar and stream of consciousness lyrics that make no sense half the time but still seem to work somehow.  Signed by Sri Lankan/British singer songwriter, rapper and record producer M.I.A to her N.E.E.T Recording label, you should get the idea of what they sound like.  Noise pop or noise rock, whatever you want to call them, Sleigh Bells can make you want to just shut everything off or make you never want it to end.

Similiarly our defense might not have a ton of (upperclass) talent.  Although there does seem to be some great underclassmen like Jake Ryan, Jibreel Black, Blake Countess, Brandin Hawthorne etc. coming up.  When things aren't going well, they really aren't going well.  But when they are, watch out.  They seem to create something right when you think they can't.  And they only seem to be getting better.  Sometimes the scheme seems like a particular play call doesn't make any sense.  And yet they're making it work, and even thriving.  This could be a group to watch out for over the rest of the seasons.

If you want to check out Sleigh Bells try Tell 'em and Riot Rythm.

The offense - MF Doom: If you like underground or "Indie" hip hop then MF Doom should be on your list.  Complex, brilliant, daring, but also somewhat schizophrenic and a little crazy, you have to listen to MF Doom even if you sometimes wonder what the hell he's doing.  Musically he's diverse, alternately slowing down and speeding up, often in the same song and even same verse.  Some of his stuff is complete trash and you wonder why he even put it out there.  But sometimes even that works.  And when it's good it's great.

I'd call our offense a little schizophrenic.  It doesn't seem to be sure quite what it wants to be.  A spread or pro style?  And further, We have good receivers, but a QB that can't get them the ball.  We have decent running backs, but a QB who's a better runner than all of them combined.  It's complex, it's diverse (formation wise anyway), sometimes it bogs down and gets in it's own way and it makes you crazy.  But when it's going, it can be unstoppable.

For more MF Doom check out Doomsday and the Mask

To find out more about hipsters and how you can help stop this creeping menace (or if you're a hipster to find out why people don't much care for you) please visit your local

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