[Happy Thanksgiving! We know that three hours ago we said we hoped one article was enough to chew on, but what fits the spirit of the day more than a second serving? Here’s one more to tide you over until tomorrow.]
Thoughts on this defensive football team you’re about to play?
“Very good defensive football team. Up front, very talented, use their hands very well, great initial quickness. Linebackers can run sideline to sideline. Very gifted at the corner spot. Think they play very good man coverage. The safeties—Mr. Hooker is a very good football player. Very, very talented football team. Very talented defense.”
Seemed like Indiana was having some success getting a little bit of pressure on John [O’Korn] in the last game. What was the factor that was causing that?
“Indiana does a nice job. Indiana going into that game was a big-time pressure team. They had a lot of different looks of what they did. Fundamentally, some of it was in terms of just us moving our feet, keeping our head out of there, covering guys up, IDing things. We’ve got to do a better job with that, and I’ve got to do a better job coaching it.”
How did John progress, in your mind, from the start of that game to the end?
“I think he did an outstanding job. Made a play when there was a play to be made. He managed the game very well. He took the timeouts when he needed to. He established that drive with 9:42 left in the fourth quarter. We took it down, made them use their last time out, gave the ball back with I believe :50 on the clock. John did an outstanding job.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the inevitable Speight questions]
[Happy Thanksgiving! We’re on holiday. Hope this is enough to chew on]:
I’m guessing you don’t need to be told what we’re up against. The spread offense liberated running games from under center, and with it came all the fun stuff like little athletes juking people in space, big ones running deep downfield in man coverage, and all sorts of defenders standing around wishing someone—anyone—would at least try to block him. Each early adopter added a wrinkle: tempo, bubble screens, wide splits, quick folds, receiver route trees, lazy verts, and run-pass-options. Urban Meyer’s innovation was to assimilate all of it into the Earl Bruce power offenses he grew up in.
At Ohio State Meyer found he could tap Big Ten resources and fall back on SEC attitudes to convince athletes from all over America to bring their biological distinctiveness to its least charming truck stop. There they are assigned mundane designations like “Corey Brown” or “James Clark” and adapted to serve wherever it’s most efficient—usually as a diversion from running up the gut.
They are the Borg; resistance is futile, unless it rains.
Personnel: A star-studded diagram:
click to lightbox it bigger, open in new window for even greater largosity
Everybody was a top 250 recruit except the kicker, a backup tight end, and the best interior lineman in the conference. They have a Heisman candidate, and it’s not the starting quarterback who was a Heisman candidate at the beginning of the year. We’ll talk about the backfield in dangermen and the OL in the overview.
If you’re new to Meyer offenses, one slot WR position is just called the “H” now that “Percy Harvin’s position” is a dated reference. It’s a running back/slot receiver hybrid that does whatever the latest guy is good at. Curtis Samuel is the current guy. Last year he stole half of Braxton Miller’s playing time. He’s kind of a big deal.
They have a stable of 4- and 5-star receivers who are worth discussing here. Noah Brown is the Darboh but they have to create Chesson in the aggregate. Parris Campbell is the nearest approximation and though he doesn’t “start” he’s getting the starter snaps since Secret Weapon™ Corey Smith has had his hand in a cast all year. Smith’s role and nominal starts go to Terry McLaurin, who’s a throwback to the Odoms/Gallon Rodriguez-era mountain goats, right down to a listed height of two inches greater than plausibility. Backup H Dontre Wilson is a Norfleet. Those five guys will be in for two-thirds of the snaps; the remainder is split evenly between the next four: slot receiver KJ Hill is a good route runner. James Clark is an athletic deep threat who wasn’t connecting. Other extant cardio-pulmonary systems who’d have 1500 yards in the MAC are Johnnie Dixon and Austin Mack. OSU will rotate them heavily and send them sprinting downfield until your cornerbacks’ lungs burst from their chests—actual throws come less than once per drive.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid: Spread, which for lack of blocking TEs and superb blocker Ezekiel Elliott is back to being an actual spread:
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A 60-40 mix in favor of manball. They use a lot of zone on their QB and zone read runs, but Inverted Veer/Power Read is still their base play.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Hurry up and wait. On third downs they usually will take their time getting set up and snap it with three to six seconds left. Otherwise the snap came with the clock between 16 and 25.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): 8, effectively 9. We’ve always struggled to nail Barrett to a number on this scale because he’s a good runner but not Gardner-level. What he lacks for in whoop he makes up with vision, patience, and leaving all of his bad decisions for off the field. Against Michigan State I charted JT a perfect 19/19 on zone reads. That didn’t include the RPOs, which he also, on review, chose correctly every time. There’s a serious there, there, which is a big deal for an offense that has to stay ahead of the sticks.
[After the JUMP: inside the mind of the Collective]
just 20 minutes
- Lloyd Carr’s life advice for Sam and Craig
- Hi Craig since you’re the only one who reads these bullets you and I should talk about City of Thieves sometime.
- Receivers creating huge holes. Bredeson had a decent game.
- Poor #19.
- Ohio State gave up big yards to pro-style offenses—a look inside those numbers.
- Durkin vs Brown in the great test.
- McCray and Peppers deployment.
- Containing Barrett, who turns 3 yard losses into gains.
- Which Stooge is Ed?
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Not great. pic.twitter.com/DzuujyGixt
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) November 23, 2016
Sometimes it's not your day.
Zak Irvin had the worst performance of his career, fouling out with five points on 2-for-13 shooting and eight turnovers. The rest of the team followed suit. Michigan shot 19.2% from the field and 7.7% from beyond the arc, and no, those are not typos. They had two assists and 16 turnovers. Derrick Walton hit both of Michigan's three-pointers; they were separated by 32:10 of game time.
Sindarius Thornwell was everywhere for South Carolina, posting 21 points, ten boards, three assists, and three blocks. Michigan's defense otherwise held firm, holding USC below a point per possession, but there was little to be done on that end to overcome M's shooting woes.
While a game this ugly tends to leave a lasting impression, this is one best worth forgetting. Michigan may not be quite as good as they looked last week; they are certainly not as bad as they looked today.
MGoQuestion: This is one of the faster teams you’ll play this year. How do you counter that tempo defensively?
“Do you mean tempo meaning speed between plays or do you mean the team speed?”
MGoClarification: Speed between plays.
“Um, again, we’ve been seeing it on a week-to-week basis. Several teams we play run the spread or some kind of form of the spread. Ohio State does a little bit more with the power game, but, you know, you just gotta go ahead and get your calls in, get your guys lined up, and make sure you’re ready to go.
“To be quite honest, I think Indiana’s really fast. I mean, I felt that the other night, and I thought for the most part, expect for three snaps, we got our feet in the ground, all 11 ready to go. Feel good about to this point our preparation against spread offenses. We minimized our last spread outfit to 64 yards rushing, which is an important stat, especially when they’re in the 200s coming in. Felt like—feel like we’re in a good spot getting ready to go for this week.”
How tough is it specifically to deal with JT Barrett?
“He’s a good player. Does a good job. You’re gonna have to challenge your entire unit to stop him because when you’ve got an athlete at quarterback, you’ve got to chase an athlete with a bunch of athletes, so that becomes an important piece of this thing. You can’t just rely on the front four. You have to involve everybody in the process, whether it’s run fits or finding ways to be creative in rushing the passer on throw scenarios.”
[After THE JUMP: never, ever tease Don Brown about playing press man]
#15 Michigan (4-0) at
#57 South Carolina (4-0)
Colonial Life Arena
Columbia, South Carolina
|WHEN||5 pm ET, Wednesday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kevin Fitzgerald
Analyst: Brooke Weisbrod
Right: South Carolina coach and well-adjusted human Frank Martin. [AP photo; original caption is amazing]
This section is blissfully lacking in major items to note right now. DJ Wilson is now the starting four and given the early returns that's not changing for the foreseeable future. Duncan Robinson is now an off-the-bench gunner. Moe Wagner and Mark Donnal have settled into an even split at center with Jon Teske getting spot minutes. Xavier Simpson and Ibi Watson are still settling into the rotation. That about covers it.
Michigan first true road game comes at South Carolina, a top-60 team on KenPom headed by former Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who should be good for a sideline freakout or three.
The Gamecocks are led by 6'5" senior wing Sindarius Thornwell, who's posting 21 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Thornwell is using a whopping 30% of South Carolina's possessions when he's on the floor and scoring with probably unsustainable efficiency: the career 32% three-point shooter is 10-for-21 from beyond the arc through four games. He's also putting up rebounding and block rates well above his career norms.
Point guard Duane Notice is a good outside shooter and surprisingly weak finisher for a burly 225-pounder. While he has 17 assists this season, he's turned the ball over three times in all four games, an issue South Carolina has struggled with as a team so far this season. Sophomore wing PJ Dozier is another Gamecock posting both high assist and turnover rates; he's 7-for-15 on threes this season after shooting only 23% on them as a freshman.
South Carolina has solid size up front. 6'9" power forward Chris Silva is seventh nationally in offensive rebound rate, grabbing 25% of opponent misses on defense, and 11th in the country in block rate while finishing well around the basket and drawing a lot of fouls. Fouls are Silva's Achilles heel right now; he's committing 8.4 per 40 minutes, and as a result he's only cracked 20 minutes played once this season. Estonian freshman center Maik Kotsar gets offensive rebounds and blocks and otherwise plays a minor role, but he's finished really well in limited chances, going 13-for-16 from the field. A 3-for-8 mark at the free-throw line indicates his skills may still be early in the development process. He's backed up by another raw freshman, Senegalese seven-footer Khadim Gueye.
Martin utilizes his bench quite a bit. 6'4" senior sixth man Justin McKie has played over half the team's minutes. He's a poor outside shooter who'd made up for it so far by going 10-for-14 inside the arc. Backup point Hassani Gravett is a JuCo transfer who's struggled with this year's transition to D-I; he's got seven turnovers and eight assists in 19 minutes per game.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]