I asked coach Harbaugh about the final play in double overtime, the stop-and-go route, and he said that that was something you guys hadn’t repped [that week], wasn’t in the gameplan and wasn’t on the call sheet but was something coach Fisch saw from the box and added. How often does that kind of thing happen where the two coaches work something out that you don’t expect to run but you’ve worked on in the past?
“I don’t know. I’m not sure how often. It probably has been done but I don’t think very often, and I think that the protection was something that we’ve always worked. It was just a slide, you know. Just something very basic, very simple. I think it was just one of those things like if you see it why not take what they’re giving you. That’s just good coaching.”
We talked a little about it [this took place after the presser that ran this morning –A.] but Penn State has two great defensive tackles. What kind of challenge does that present to you when you’ve got a guy to the left who can do damage in the backfield and a guy to the right that can do the same?
“I mean, we’ve gone against them the past few years. Zettel’s a great defensive tackle and the other guy’s fantastic also. I literally always forget his name. I think it’s Hamilton.”
I think you’re right.
“I was gonna say, I’m positive because I went against him last year.”
I looked it up this morning and forgot, but I think you’re right. [Turns out we were wrong. It’s not Hamilton, it’s Johnson. Graham mentioned Hamilton in the media scrum earlier, and after I finished my interview a reporter asked whether Graham was still around; they wanted to tell him he got his presidents mixed up*. –A.]
“He’s also fantastic. He’s a good nose, but if we focus on what we need to improve on and what we need to do with good pads and good hands I think we’ll have a good day.”
What’s the key to that technique-wise? What’s most important when you know you’ve got a guy who can rush the passer as a nose tackle?
“Just not falling asleep on him. You want to make sure you’re always ready to go. A lot of times when you’re playing a nose you don’t expect him to really be able to rush the passer well so you’ll have bad technique or you’ll sort of just be lulled to sleep. He’ll rush the passer badly a few times, just like velcro up to you and then one time he’ll put a move on you, you know what I mean? You just have to make sure you’re ready for everything, and that just comes from studying film and looking at what he likes to do and being ready for it.”
[After THE JUMP: how to do the dead-ball pitch, and full-grown lion vs. bear vs. Houma]
Royce, how much did that pace on Saturday affect you guys, and is it just one of those things where maybe the pace got the better of you for one game?
“Yeah, the pace was pretty bad. We didn’t play to our full ability and we definitely are looking forward to picking it up this week.”
When you looked at it- have you had a chance to look at the film yet?
Beyond the pace, what were some of the issues you guys were having stopping the run?
RJS: “Just getting lined up. You know, everything was going so fast. Just getting lined up and getting the call since they were running a no-huddle offense the whole game. That was a big challenge. And just hitting a guy after so many plays, it takes a toll. Just had to find a way to get the W.”
Graham, coach Harbaugh was talking about how Jake [Rudock] doesn’t flinch and how he turns the page so well whether it’s a great play or a poor play. Talk about the effect that has on a team.
“It’s great to have a quarterback and have somebody who’s the leader of our offense who comes into the play the exact same as he was the play before. He’s not too high, he’s not too low; he’s unflappable. I think that gives us a quiet confidence about ourselves, and whether it was a bad play or a good play we’re ready to keep going.”
Graham, how’s your brother holding up, and what words of advice did you give him after his injury? Tough break there.
“Ryan’s doing fine. Playing a lot of Halo 5. We play a lot together. Maybe you’ll see us online one day if any of you guys play. He’s doing fine, and I just tell him that he had a great season and, you know, we’re taking it week by week. Take it week by week, he had a great season, and he’s going to come back next year stronger and better and ready to play again. You know, fight another day.”
[After THE JUMP: but does the injury affect R. Glasgow’s Halo ability? Also, more G. Glasgow, RJS, and AJ Williams]
Derrick Walton dishing pic.twitter.com/5HEI9LlBx1
— Dustin Johnston (@DJPhotoVideo) November 17, 2015
It's safe to say Michigan sorely missed a healthy Derrick Walton.
After the Wolverines got out to a slow start against Elon, finding themselves in a 15-12 hole midway through the first half, Walton spearheaded an offensive explosion. First he excelled in transition, getting his teammates going with quick runouts and timely passes. Then he found his own shot, kickstarting M's halfcourt offense as they pulled away.
Walton posted a stat line of 24 points (2/3 2P, 6/7 3P), six rebounds, and seven assists, and he created offense in a multitude of ways. If he wasn't springing a fast break, he was spotting up for a corner three, or driving the baseline before kicking it out to a shooter, or pulling up from midrange, or going coast-to-coast for a Euro-step layup. This was the most aggressive he's looked in a Michigan uniform and the results could hardly have been better.
Duncan Robinson also lit it up from beyond the arc, hitting all five of his three-point attempts and adding a transition dunk and a pair of free throws to score 19 points without missing a shot. While his defense still has a ways to go, his shooting ability is an asset that affects more than his own scoring—when he's on the floor it stretches opposing defenses thin.
and then the blood starts pouring pic.twitter.com/MyoK3s3r2l
— Dustin Johnston (@DJPhotoVideo) November 17, 2015
The exploits of Walton and Robinson allowed the Wolverines to weather an underwhelming shooting night from the rest of the team, which was a combined 2/12 from three-point range. Zak Irvin played his first minutes of the season and didn't look comfortable coming off his back injury; he went 0/5 from the field, though he still managed to contribute with three assists. Caris LeVert was quieter than normal, scoring 11 points on 3/8 FGs and 5/6 FTs. Like Irvin, he found other ways to create offense, dishing out seven assists with some nifty work to create open looks in late-clock situations; he also swiped four steals.
The big-picture takeaways from this game will focus on the center position. Mark Donnal got the start but struggled, to put it kindly, on both ends in his 15 minutes on the floor. Ricky Doyle looked like he should be the clear-cut starter with eight bruising points in 13 minutes; three fouls limited his time but he looked far superior to Donnal.
DJ Wilson moonlighted at the five but mostly stuck to the four. Mo Wagner, meanwhile, got in early and played seven eventful minutes, pulling down an offensive board and helping M grab at least one more, then taking a charge before triumphantly exiting with a Novak-esque stream of blood running down his face. Donnal's hold on a rotation spot may be tenuous, especially as the season goes on.
There were signs of the rotation forming on the wings, too. Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Robinson have seemingly distanced themselves from Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, who only saw eight minutes, most of them late, despite Dawkins and Robinson struggling on defense.
While Michigan's team defense wasn't as good as the box score would indicate, they managed to work through some very tight officiating—which seems to be the trend this season—and come up with eight steals, a point of emphasis for them in the early going. With Walton fully operational, the offense came together as soon as the open looks from outside started falling, and the Wolverines didn't look back.
Now Michigan must hope that Irvin gets more comfortable and someone outside of Doyle steps up in the middle, as the first big test of the season looms on Friday when Xavier comes to Crisler.
The scoring run that Jehu’s [Chesson] on here: three receiving touchdowns in three games. Why it’s happening and how much of a weapon he is for you guys.
“Well, I would really say Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, Jake Rudock, Amara Darboh, those four I think are playing as well as anybody in the Big Ten Conference as a group, and all four of those deserve any success or accolades for their performance that they’re achieving because they’ve really earned it all, all four, with their work ethic, with their dedication to being good and their seriousness about winning and winning performance at a very high level. It’s just wonderful, wonderful, and they deserve it because they’ve worked extremely hard for it.”
You said on Saturday that you thought that Jehu kind of looked like an NFL player right now.
Did you think that earlier in the year? What kind of changes went down where you were thinking he could play at the next level?
“Well, it was just the constant improvement in all phases of his game. I think the one thing he is improving at, the final piece, is tracking the deep ball. You watch him run, you watch him catch, you watch him block, cover kicks, the way he plays in all phases and now the deep ball. Tracking that is really coming along well. You see that improving, and I think that’s the final piece that he’s acquiring.”
Thoughts on a second straight road game and the challenge that Penn State presents?
“Uh…I acknowledge that it’s our second straight road game. Fully aware of that.
“Challenge that Penn State presents is a big challenge and our team will be prepared for it this week. Outstanding defense. Offensively, outstanding quarterback, outstanding running back, receivers that are outstanding, so…acknowledge both of those things. Formidable task, and it is a road game.”
Because you’re beat up especially on the defensive line a little bit, do you approach this week-
“We’re not beat up. Nobody’s beat up that I know of.”
Dipping into the depth chart a little bit-
“Do you know something I don’t know? We’ve got a bounce in our step. We’re ready to go.”
[After THE JUMP: “I’m like Abraham: I’m gonna die leaning on my staff. I think that’s the way Abraham said it.”]
Call in: 734-998-1050. Priority to people who haven’t been on with us before.
Listen in: 1050 AM in Ann Arbor or wtka.com
Michigan (1-0) vs.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Monday|
|LINE||Michigan -19 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dan Gutowsky
Analyst: Rich Zvosac
Right: Elon used to be the Fightin' Christians, complete with this mascot, until switching to the Phoenix in 1999. Depending upon your ability to deal with nightmare fuel, this is either fine or terrible. [Photo link]
Michigan's rotation should continue to take form, but the most important thing to watch tonight will hopefully be the return of Zak Irvin from his nagging back injury. Irvin has been practicing and is expected to suit up tonight; if he doesn't it will be an ominous sign, as there's little question Michigan wants him to get into some live game action before Friday's big step up in competition against Xavier.