[Isaiah Hole/247 Sports]
Last night, Michigan’s football team gained a member. FIfteen-year-old Larry Prout Jr. of Howell signed his NLI in front of a packed Schembechler Hall, as his family, friends, the media, and members of the team crowded into the Towsley Museum for a press conference in his honor. Prout was connected with the football program through Team IMPACT, and he developed a bond with John O’Korn and De’Veon Smith over the summer. I can’t do Prout’s story the justice that it deserves; read on to learn about his journey in his own words.
Seth Rosenzweig, Team IMPACT’s Executive Director
“Thank you so much, and thank you for having us. Good evening. I’m very excited to be here as the executive director of Team IMPACT. Team IMPACT, for those who don’t know, is a national social non-profit that focuses on improving the quality of life of children who are facing life-limiting and chronic diseases, and we do this through the power of team by them being officially drafted, like Larry will today, by collegiate athletic teams.
“It’s a really, really big privilege to be here. The program not only has great impact on the kids and their families but also on the college athletes, coaches, and the entire community. It’s really a privilege to do this work. We’ve been around for five years and have matched over 1,000 kids in 46 states [with] 430 universities; 30,000 collegiate athletes have been a part of this, and we’re looking to really grow in scale over the next several years.
“Tonight, obviously, is really not about Team IMPACT, it’s about Larry, and we’re really excited for you to be a part of Team IMPACT as well as the University. I did find a great quote from Coach…I hope it’s from you. You said something like this: ‘I love being part of something that is working toward a greater goal, and there’s no more satisfaction in life than achieving these goals as a team.’ I feel like that really accentuates what this partnership is, and without further adieu I’ll turn it over to Coach Harbaugh.”
[After THE JUMP: Jim Harbaugh and Larry Prout Jr.]
- Jabrill Peppers is going Norfleet-before-a-punt to keep the game entertaining.
- On defense.
- It is still the second quarter.
- Total yards are 311-3.
It only would've been slightly more insulting to Rutgers if Peppers had continued dancing during the play—not that doing so would've affected the outcome.
[Hit THE JUMP for so, so many Peppers GIFs.]
So this happened. This is going to get out of control.
@Thatboylid80 lol don't start with this hammer shit
— David Dawson (@DamanteDawson) October 9, 2016
I'm warning you to brace yourselves for how out of hand this is going to get.
Y'all give bro @Thatboylid80 a name he gone run with it lmao he just yelled downstairs that he's the hammering panda
— David Dawson (@DamanteDawson) October 9, 2016
This is where we got involved.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) October 9, 2016
And then Smoothitron from the top rope:
— Abraham May (@Smoothitron) October 9, 2016
I hope you lashed yourself to the deck before reading this collection of tweets.
A coaching carousel on deck. At the midway point of the season it's looking like this could be an interesting December:
- Les Miles is already gone from LSU.
- Brian Kelly is 2-4 at Notre Dame, is definitely losing to a service academy, and is unlikely to make a bowl.
- Charlie Strong is running out of rope at Texas, now 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Twelve while playing horrendous defense.
- Baylor still needs a long-term coach.
- Oregon is 0-3 in the Pac 12 and may be thinking about pulling the trigger on Mark Helfrich.
- Both LA schools have two conference losses already and sit at 3-3; wholesale collapse from one or the other isn't out of the question.
All of these schools will be pitching Tom Herman, and either all but one or all of them will end up disappointed. Once you get past Herman, up and coming candidates include... uh. Harbaugh acolyte Willie Taggart's turned USF around, PJ Fleck's itching to move up for anyone who's a boat enthusiast, and that's about it. Gonna be some weird guys getting head coaching jobs at major schools this offseason.
The situation in East Lansing. It's not good if you're a Spartan fan, but you're not no matter how much you're scouring the RCMB for hilarity and then emailing me when Google naturally responds by popping up MSU ads on this here site. (You know who you are. You are legion.) So it is good.
Bill Connelly had a deep dive into the decline from a team that was technically invited to the playoff to one that S&P+ currently has at 20% to make a bowl game. I jokingly referenced it in the game column but it deserves some actually attention. The problems in approximate order of severity:
- The OL is a "sieve." This has led to some ugly rushing stats ("85th in Rushing S&P+, 101st in rushing success rate, only 18 rushes of 10-plus yards (119th)") despite having LJ Scott, who I continue to believe is the truth. It is also getting Tyler O'Connor sacked a ton.
- The DL is a nonentity, deep into the triple digits in sack rate and largely responsible for a rushing S&P+ that is just as bad as their offenses's. This was predictable to some extent since MSU took not one but two grad transfers on the DL in an effort to shore up their line after Craig Evans and Montez Sweat got booted.
- It's an old team not likely to have a midseason turnaround as the youth gets their heads on straight.
The numbers figure to get a bunch worse next week, when S&P+ finishes whittling away the preseason projections that still make up a portion of their rankings. Without those projections MSU, currently 60th, would be 84th. Even now S&P+ has Michigan a 25-point favorite(!!!) on the road in East Lansing.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the season?
A couple more things about MSU. Their depth chart this week features an OR between their top three QBs. Also, instagram sleuthing by iSportsDave seems to indicate that Riley Bullough is out for the season. Or possibly another one of their linebackers.
Weekly fancystats love us update. Michigan is now 85%+ to win each game before OSU and an 18-point favorite against Iowa, the toughest remaining game before Football Armageddon II. S&P+ sees that as a dead heat, with OSU getting a slight edge because the Game is in Columbus.
In other S&P superlatives, Michigan is #1 nationally in:
- field position
- opponent success rate (at 19% Michigan is giving up less than half the number of successful plays than an average D-I D)
- points per trip allowed once the opposition gets inside the 40
- rushing defense, rushing success rate, and adjusted line yards
- passing defense, passing success rate, and adjusted sack rate
- standard down D, success rate, and line yards per carry
- passing down D (they're top five in every other passing down category but not #1, shame)
- third down D
- havoc rate
The D is on pace to be historically good.
Ross Fulton on OSU's (relative) struggles against Indiana. OSU still won comfortably, but under 400 yards against a hurry-up team like IU is a sign that the Buckeyes are indeed mortal. Ross Fulton examines why that was so:
The simplest explanation for Ohio State’s passing problems was that J.T. Barrett was off. ... As he admitted after the game, he again refused to take the open underneath routes. For instance, below he does not get the ball to Curtis Samuel out of his break.
He instead tried to force mid-range passes. But such throws were often late and with too much velocity, leading to inaccuracy high and outside. ... The game became reminiscent of other contests where Barrett was off, such as Penn State in 2014 or Michigan State last year, when Barrett missed open deep throws. As Meyer reiterated in his Monday press conference, Ohio State’s offense is based upon running the football and hitting vertical shots off play-action. Without such completions, opponent safeties can play aggressively downhill, resulting in a lower rushing success rate and a less efficient offense.
Things went from bad to worse last year because Barrett was decidedly not off, hitting two heavily contested bombs. Even so, if Michigan can put the game on his passing chops their chance to win goes up a great deal.
Perspective. The Rutgers game continues to generate thinkpieces, like this one from Inside NU:
The Romans at the Battle of Cannae, for example, were outsmarted and then completely destroyed by Hannibal’s Carthaginians. Rome’s armies took a full decade to recover. At the English victory over the French in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the entire French army fell apart and the French king was captured. Significant parts of France would remain under English rule for nearly a century.
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 is worse than any of that. At least the French could claim that they brought an army to Poitiers. At least the Romans can take pride in the fact they had a plan whatsoever, even if it was incredibly dumb. Rutgers could not do anything. It was immobilized through lack of competence. The closest historical comparison is the Battle of Ulm, in which Napoleon was able to capture a huge Austrian army simply through highly skilled movement over the course of three days. And even then, it’s hard to compare. It took Michigan three hours.
Yes, it's a very Northwestern piece. I can't wait for The Only Colors to write one through the lens of the greatest Jerry Springer episodes they've seen or participated in.
NLRB is coming at the NCAA again. With the O'Bannon case now finished with no clear victory either way, but the NCAA did take hit as an antitrust violator. The National Labor Relations Board has now handed down a ruling that refers to football players as employees and bans certain practices:
In an unprecedented foray into college sports, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that Northwestern University must eliminate "unlawful" rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves. The ruling, which referred to players as employees, found that they must be freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.
The new rules apply to the football programs at the 17 private universities that play in the FBS, including schools such as Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor -- but not public universities.
This is not a big thing right now but might open the door to more seismic items.
(HT: Get The Picture.)
Okay so I’ve talked about this before. Maybe more than once. But Ohio State loves this play, so much that its variations account for 3 of the first 4 plays on Curtis Samuel’s Oklahoma highlight reel (and 2 more are counters off it).
Inverted Veer (again)
This play is called “Inverted Veer” or “Power Read.” It was the staple of the Borges-Denard/Devin fusion cuisine era, because it is the mullet of offensive plays: manball business in the front, spread party in the backfield.
Here’s a basic setup:
The offensive line is blocking like power C: block down and pull from the backside, and cave the frontside.
A second after the snap reveals why it’s such a devastating play:
While a good ol’fashioned zone-read might option a backside defender, inverted veer options the playside end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS). That defender is allowed into the backfield and optioned: if he comes up too far, the ball is given to the running back, who accelerates away to the outside—You’ve been EDGED! If the end gets wide to prevent the running back from getting the edge, that opens up room for the quarterback to dive into the gap behind him—You’ve been GASHED!
[Hit THE JUMP for variations, and how Michigan defended this]
Friday, October 7, 2016
#11 Michigan 3, Union 4
PIAZZA GOAL, MICHIGAN
UM 1 Union 0 PPG 08:54 Assists: Slaker
Slaker wins the draw, but it isn’t clean. He has to jostle for position and eventually gets over the other center, and as Lockwood and his defender lift their sticks there’s a lane for Slaker to pass back to Piazza.
Piazza glides for a second while he assesses what’s in front of him, then decides to try for the far-side top corner. Sakellaropoul has a long enough time to see what’s coming and whiffs on the shot.
[After THE JUMP: breakaways, screens, and whiffs]
[Googly Eyes Emoji]
STILL DON'T WATCH THIS
“I’m going to take my five visits, but I just don’t know where,” Harris said. “Let’s say this: My mind isn’t set on Alabama. I’m not 100 percent set on Alabama. I’m trying to see what else is out there for me. I’m using my visits to see. As much attention as I’ve gotten, I feel like I have helped my teammates get some offers, too.”
That is the top-ranked player in the country, CA RB Najee Harris, going on the record about his recruitment for the first time in... months? It feels like months. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle dropped this pertinent bit of news in their ongoing series on Harris that mostly focuses on his life outside the lines:
Next week, when Antioch hosts Liberty, another wrinkle comes into play: Harbaugh, the Michigan head coach, is planning to attend the game, hoping he can persuade Harris to flip his verbal commitment to Alabama and play in Ann Arbor instead.
While 247's Steve Lorenz expects Harris to end up signing with Bama, he continues to believe Michigan is the school with the best chance to change that, and mentions that M's staff in fact thought they either led or were close following Harris's summer unofficial visit.
I'm still skeptical of M's ultimate chances to flip Harris, but going on the record to say his Alabama commitment isn't set in stone is especially noteworthy coming from a recruit who avoids the media and appears to be trying to keep his recruitment as drama-free as possible.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]