After The Gold Rush
threw 36 passes and only completed 12 of them. There is nothing discreet about how this team loses. There is no drama or climax; there would be something thrilling in that, at least. This is like rubbing sandpaper on your scalp until you hit brain. There is nothing but snow, and rain, and a numbing, overwhelming, and undeniably hopeless decay of something I once loved, and still do, but much less intensely. Michigan
It’s like trying to love a wife who lost her leg in a train accident, or got third degree burns on her face from a grease fire, and now she smokes cigarettes and drinks cheap whiskey from a sleeve of leftover paper cups you bought for some barbecue about a year back. This is not the same woman, and you know it’s not. You see things in her that you remember, things that used to make you happy. But now more than anything they make you sad, because you realize most of the time they don’t exist.
Steve Threet and Nick Sheridan have alternated everywhere between dreadful and fleetingly adequate. Sam McGuffie was hailed as some kind of messiah, but we found out his moves are nothing but extravagant head jerks; that he pass blocks with less enthusiasm than most people mow their lawns with; and that his spin moves seem tentative and halfhearted, like they’re more out of fear than deception. On Saturday he decided he wasn’t going to play, because he said he was too hurt.
Donovan Warren and Morgan Trent look over their shoulders after every incompletion to make sure there’s no penalty flag, then shake their head at the wide receiver as if they had anything to do with the incompletion in the first place. At this point, that's probably all they have.
The players I know appear inconsistently and without warning; increasingly neurotic and damaged.
Brandon Minor runs furiously and at times unnecessarily aggressive, as if he’s spent two years struggling with depression and regret, and he’s trying to make up for lost time all at once. He tries to laugh every now and then, but then his eyes dart anxiously to the side, like he’s waiting for someone to tell him he doesn’t have to pretend that everything’s going to turn out alright.
Back in the middle of February all I knew about Justin Feagin was that he either ran impatiently or was just incredibly decisive, I wasn’t sure which, and he had essentially said, “Terrelle Pryor, I am not afraid of you” before he even got to college. He sat in a chair after the
game, his hair matted erratically on one side, like he’d fallen asleep in the backseat of car with his head resting against a balled up t-shirt. He blinked slowly and spoke without hesitation. Sometimes he picked the wrong word and found a different one in the middle of his sentence once he realized it, but he was excessively calm, and already seemed accustomed to the whole idea of people wanting to talk to him. Minnesota
In high school, Justin told Rodriguez he wanted to play early in his career, but it wasn’t the same robotic insistence most freshmen have. We knew he wasn’t lying when he suggested he burn a year of eligibility just to play sparingly in
’s final four games. On a team going nowhere, after he’d declared that he could compete with the best high school player in the country, he volunteered to play special teams. Michigan
“I can’t really explain it for the fans that are listening,” he said on Signing Day. “I just play football, and I’m good at it.” It wasn’t a prepared quip; it was the only way he knew how to describe himself after a career of defying or ignoring reputations. If Mike thrived because he had been eternally doubted, Justin did so because he lived in a world oblivious to expectations and pressure. I wanted him to be Michigan's quarterback for the next three years, and at that position, he ran seven times for 49 yards against
. Afterwards, Rodriguez confirmed that his permanent position would be receiver. Minnesota
These days, the coach's once-hypnotic charisma feels hollow and trite. At press conferences he seems embarrassed, like he’s still a little detached from it all and doesn’t have to cry with, or for a team he just met. Maybe it seems like he’s fighting for them when he’s being irascible and short-tempered, but this team is a reflection of who he is as a coach. He’s defending himself as much as he’s defending them.
For the seniors, he can only say, over and over again, that they deserve a hug. He did say that. At first I thought he was only using that line in press conferences, because it seemed affectionate enough, and a horde of obsequious reporters might pretend it had a vague humor to it. I was wrong. I saw a video of the locker room after the
game, and he said that to their faces. Minnesota
Terrance never beat
, played for three different defensive coordinators, and vomited and bled for Rich Rodriguez after he considered giving it all up. He’s spent the better part of his adult life outnumbered two to one, and as a defensive tackle gets maybe three chances a game to remind everyone that he’s even there. He’s six feet tall and squatted 680 pounds in high school. A hug? I’d tell him to keep it. Ohio State
This was once Michigan:
They used to exist.