a terrible blight on our fine country
Guys came out and looked strong with the numbers they put on the scoreboard in the first half. Anything that comes to your mind that you can turn to and say, ‘Hey, here's some things we definitely need to work on’ now that the game’s done? Second-half performance seemed to be a little off compared to the first from what I could see.
“I was pleased with the way our team played. They did what we asked them to do, and that was take care of business. Started fast. That was a key for us in the game. We wanted to improve in that area, and we got our hands on the ball defensively. Our secondary players were breaking on the football, intercepting the football, and that happened on the first possession. UNLV put us in good field position.
“Our offense took the ball down, drove, and put a touchdown on the board with the pass from Jake Rudock to De’Veon Smith. So, a lot of good areas. It felt like we improved today as a team and got the win and yes, there will definitely be things to improve from, get better at, and coach, so all those things are positives.”
After last week why do you think the run game with De’Veon struggled a little bit, and how important is it that you can go to someone like Ty [Isaac] and spark that with a different back?
“That was a fantastic run by Ty Isaac. We didn't block it right, and…it was not blocked the way we drew it up. Missed a block. I thought it was going to be a tackle for a loss, and Ty did a real good job somwhow. He swerved, he avoided, he made a tackle miss, avoided another and was off to the races. It was the darndest thing I've seen in a long, long time but very good for us. Ended up being 90 yards on the drive and a 70-some-yard carry by Ty Isaac. That was good. I thought…
“It was a swirling wind. We struggled a little bit to pinpoint some passes. We had some guys open but didn't hit them. But, again, played pretty well. Pretty good, fundamental, solid football, penalty free– not completely penalty free, couple costly ones. But overall, yeah, I was pleased with the way the team played.”
What were your impressions of Jake Rudock today? He threw a pick. How concerned are you with five picks in three games?
“His job is to win football games, and as I said it wasn't an ideal day to throw. There was a swirling wind quite a bit the whole day. But yeah, thought he did a good job. Managed the game well and for the most part the offense was moving darn near every time we got the ball. And, as I said, there's things to get better at and improve from and coach, so a week of doing that.”
[After THE JUMP: “‘Satisfied’ is not a word I’m ever going to use. It’s never a word I’m going to associate with football.”]
That's pretty much how that should go.
The biggest drama of the afternoon was whether Michigan would give Sione Houma the ball again after his first career touchdown was overturned on review. They did, and Houma plunged one yard to give Michigan a 28-0 lead.
The second-biggest drama was whether the defense would hold onto the shutout. After allowing only 111 yards on 42 plays through three quarters, they relented in the fourth, ceding a touchdown pass to Devonte Boyd after a slip-up in coverage set up UNLV deep in M territory.
Channing Stribling remained in phase and nabbed an early pick. De'Veon Smith started off the scoring with a walk-in receiving touchdown in the flat. Jabrill Peppers had a tantalizing, twisting 24-yard punt return. Jehu Chesson took a sweep and ran untouched for a 36-yard touchdown as Amara Darboh nearly blocked his man into the end zone. Ty Isaac burst 76 yards down the same sideline for another.
That about covers the important stuff.
Also important, of course, is Jake Rudock's performance at quarterback. He underwhelmed again this week, throwing his fifth interception of the season—as many as he had in all of 2014—and finishing with 123 yards on 22 attempts. When asked to assess his quarterback's performance, however, Jim Harbaugh seemed unconcerned.
"His job is to win football games. It wasn't an ideal day to throw, there was a swirling wind the whole day. I thought he did a good job. He managed the game well," Harbaugh said. "There's things to get better at, to improve from, and coach, so it'll be another week of doing that."
"Satisfied is a word I'm never going to use. I don't associate it with football," Harbaugh added later. "I've never been satisfied. But yeah, I'm happy."
After a routine 21-point win that could've easily been by a much bigger margin, it's probably best to follow the head man's example here. Michigan has issues to work on, that much is apparent; they're also taking care of business, and that too must be acknowledged.
By Heiko Yang
For a home opener against an overmatched opponent, last week went pretty well. The first half provided some intrigue and drama before the second half turned into a gratuitous murder scene.
Michigan did to Oregon State what Michigan is supposed to do as a two-touchdown favorite, and the experience felt like the kind of repetitive bludgeoning that’s only supposed to happen when Lloyd Carr was head coach.
Everything was great, except when we screwed up the wave.
(If you’re asking “what wave?” you are most likely personally responsible for screwing it up.)
The first time I saw the wave in the Big House was in 2009 against Delaware State. The score was obscene, and David Cone was taking snaps at quarterback. Seeing 100,000 people sustain a roiling swell that sped up and slowed down before splitting itself in two was an incredibly beautiful experience. Even the Hornets pep band – and I’m pretty sure a few of their players as well – joined in.
Since then the opportunities to do the wave have been rare, and not all of them have been under ideal circumstances. We almost got burned badly during the UMass game in 2010 when we started the wave with a score of 28-17. We were barely paying attention when UMass shredded our defense for a touchdown, which resulted in a feeling of oh-my-god-what-have-we-done that gripped the stadium for the rest of the fourth quarter.
Many of us have grown cautious with the wave, especially in context of the dismal record the program has suffered. As fans, doing the wave was our way of pulling the starters: thanks for playing, we are no longer interested in this game, and many of us plan to file out soon to avoid traffic. We’ve since resorted to other ways of getting the message across.
I’m not sure if our failed attempt at the wave last week was because we’re out of practice or just leery of fourth-quarter meltdowns. It’s also possible that the long-time season ticket holders who knew to expect a wave coming out of the student section have been replaced by people who feel like their seats would be better if the students weren’t so loud. In one way or another I’m sure this is all Dave Brandon’s fault.
Either way, my heart broke watching that thing die repeatedly in section 24. It was embarrassing and a blemish – a reminder of how bad things have been for so long – on an otherwise perfect home opener and homecoming for Jim Harbaugh. I’d rather not see it happen again this week, so let’s just keep this one close and avoid the opportunity for failure altogether, shall we?
UNLV 10, Michigan 17.
COUNTERPUNT - UNLV
by Nick RoUMel
This is what I have to say about Punt’s column:
Having fulfilled my obligation to engage in spirited woofing with the young upstart on the top of this page, I now turn to the Runnin’ Rebs.
Contrary to certain belief, they do not have a football team. Las Vegas last experienced (back of the house) gridiron success when the New York Jets shocked the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
If you do not believe my assertion that they do not have a football team, check out the below photo from the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels football team landing page. I kid you not. What’s with the mimes in German war helmets? The can-can dancer with the feathered plumes? THE COPS? Why is the one cop carrying the football? “We’re going to take this in for evidence, son. Your coach knows why.”
This is not “The Team, the Team, the Team.” This is the cast of Naked Gun meets Amarcord. This is a squad that boasts alumni currently playing “pro football” for teams such as the BC Lions, the Spokane Shock, the Sacramento Mountain Lions, and the Wichita Wild. Retired players include former defensive end Suge Knight and TV commercial star Ickey “Shuffle” Woods. (Though we will give them their props for Randall Cunningham.)
Suge in urban chic. Randall the Runnin’ Reb.
This is a mismatch. This is the 70’s. Bo is in the house and is going to run up the middle until the Rebs cash in their chips. The fans will brave the rain and cheer enthusiastically. They will do the wave, and competently so, I might add.
MICHIGAN 38, UNLV 3
Weekend Visitors: Two Big-Time Officials
As you'd expect, UNLV isn't a huge visit weekend for Michigan, but they are hosting a couple big-time official visitors. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan has the full list of visitors ($). The highlights:
- Five-star CA OLB Caleb Kelly will take his first official visit this weekend. Oklahoma seems to have a commanding lead for him but Michigan still has an outside shot; this visit is obviously of paramount importance.
- Four-star FL DT Keyshon Camp, a USC commit, is also taking an official visit. He's an intriguing backup plan if Michigan whiffs on Rashan Gary; he's already shown he's willing to commit to a school far from home and he's from the same high school as freshman Reuben Jones.
- 2017 four-star Oak Park OL JaRaymond Hall is tentatively set to make it for an unofficial. M appears to be in the driver's seat for him. His 2018 OL teammate Marquan McCall, who is in a similar situation, should also be in Ann Arbor.
- 2017 four-star CA TE Jimmy Jaggers—JIMMY JAGGERS—has flown in for an unofficial. 247's Steve Lorenz thinks Michigan could position themselves at the forefront of his recruitment with a good visit this weekend ($).
A commitment this weekend would be a surprise.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
MSU Notches First Major Result
Win over Oregon is the next step for Michigan State
Michigan State 31, Oregon 28.
Even though Michigan State has gone 24-3 in the past two seasons with two major bowl wins (Rose in ‘13, Cotton in ‘14), the Spartans have been absent from the national title discussion for the most part – in both 2013 and 2014, they lost games in September. In the era of the playoff, last season’s loss to Oregon didn’t preclude MSU from national contention, but the loss to Ohio State effectively ended the title hopes for the 2014 team; in 2013, starting the season unranked might have been the biggest demerit for State – their loss to Notre Dame made it impossible to finish in the top two.
This wonderful home-and-home between Oregon and Michigan State may wind up providing definitive results for teams central to the playoff discussion in December: Oregon tripped up against Arizona at home last season but won the conference easily; Michigan State has a far more formidable roadblock than any faced by UO last year – a road contest against Ohio State. Ultimately, that game will be the game for State, but they’re one for two in relevant results: aside from road games at Michigan and Nebraska, Michigan State’s ferocious lines will give the team a large margin for error in most games. As for that Ohio State game (scheduled for November 21st), it’s hard to avoid envisioning the stakes if both teams are still undefeated at that point – maybe the biggest regular season game of the season anywhere.
[After the jump, much more on the CFB world, including a preview of tomorrow’s games]
|WHAT||UNLV at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 19th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan -34|
|WEATHER||mid-60s, AM rain ceasing around gametime, 15 mph winds|
The Rebels, or at least UNLV beat writers, are entering this game with a modest goals:
Depth will be an issue all year and that makes getting out of this third game healthy arguably more important than the scoreboard. …
The good news is Decker’s injury isn’t as severe as expected. The better news will be if that’s still true Saturday afternoon.
All right then. Michigan's disappointed as huge favorites before, but UNLV enters this game battered and expecting little.
The recipe for a nerve-wracking game or colossal upset starts with a quarterback who can play out of his mind and a run defense that can prevent Michigan from rolling over them. UNLV's starting QB is questionable and their run defense is hilariously undersized. A Hoke rushing offense could probably barf this up; it would be a surprise if Harbaugh's could even in week three of his career as Michigan's head coach.
Run Offense vs UNLV
FAKA ME?! FAKAUHO!
UNLV has not had a promising start in this department. Northern Illinois rushed for 185 yards at 4.4 a pop; UCLA went for 273 at 5.8. It doesn't take much digging to figure out why this might not be going that well:
UNLV's defensive line features one returning starter, two 230 pound guys—one of whom plays a lot of DT(!) at 6'6"(!!)—and a dude whose last name sounds like Joe Pesci yelling at you. Only the latter has the requisite size (and RBF) for the major level of competition. Baldwin hops around a lot and they'll often show a 3-3-5 look, but that still leaves you with a 230 pound guy on a 3-man front. Ain't no way around it: they're tiny. They will spend the entire game trying to slant, stunt, and confuse their way into the backfield, because if Michigan latches on to them they're going for the proverbial "ride."
Meanwhile we have no idea who UNLV's third linebacker might be since they never left nickel against the Bruins, instead preferring 165-pound freshman Darius Mouton (who I don't think is related to Jonas, FWIW) even on short yardage.
This adds up to not very good. Ace:
So... this is basically Oregon State but even smaller and less talented. UCLA ran for 5.8 yards per carry on a bunch of stuff that looked like this:
The defensive line got no push, the linebackers were unathletic and often caught up in the wash, and the play usually got to the secondary before initial contact was made. UCLA was able to do this while spreading out UNLV; Michigan should have even more success loading up and going right at them—they don't look like they can hold up against a big, run-heavy team.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the run defense?
UNLV has responded to personnel deficiencies by dialing up a ton of blitzes. These leave their secondary somewhat exposed, but that would seem to be the recipe against Michigan as well. M has not displayed much deep ball ability yet, and for the Rebs it's get busy blitzin' or get busy dyin'.
Michigan's half of this is very promising for a certain level of competition. UNLV fits neatly in this box. UNLV may huddle in a corner of this box hoping nobody picks it out. Alas, poor UNLV: De'Veon Smith is coming for your life force.
Michigan will want to build on a mauling game against Oregon State by correctly identifying all the games UNLV wants to play and blasting them into the stratosphere. This won't be much of a physical test; it promises to be an interesting mental one.
KEY MATCHUP: The Front X versus Targeting Correctly. M did a great job in the last game. This one provides an opportunity to build.
[Hit THE JUMP for VARIOUS ADDITIONAL SMALL PERSONS, AT LEAST IN THE CONTEXT OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL.]