[Upchurch – MGoBlog]
A decade after Ohio State and Michigan met as the top two teams in the country, they faced off again with similarly high stakes – and again, Ohio State emerged victorious in a hard-fought classic. The playoff picture isn’t necessarily any clearer, though Michigan is probably now eliminated.
Onto the week that was:
--- The Game, which featured the two best teams in the conference, lived up to the hype, even though it was a game marred by critical mistakes on both sides. MICHIGAN gave up two regulation touchdowns on interceptions from deep in its own end of the field: one was returned by Malik Hooker for a touchdown, another was taken deep into the red zone and punched in on one play. OHIO STATE missed two field goals in regulation, including one from inside Michigan’s five-yard line (the Wolverines fumbled away a sure scoring possession earlier in the game from near the same spot), and JT Barrett was an ineffective passer all game. Still, the game went to overtime after the Buckeyes marched down the field for a game-tying field goal in the waning moments of regulation. In overtime, Michigan responded to an easy OSU touchdown with a tough completion into the end zone on fourth down; in the second overtime, Michigan settled for a field goal and managed to force Ohio State into fourth-and-one – of course, a controversial spot gave the Buckeyes a first down and they scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play. Wilton Speight was available to play for Michigan and, aside from the critical interceptions (one came on a bad read, another on a play where he was hit when he threw), he was capable and helped compensate for an ineffective UM rushing attack. Ohio State struggled with Michigan’s excellent defensive front and they were unable to get much-needed explosive plays, but the Buckeye defense provided just enough scoring to get the game to overtime.
[More on the week that was after the JUMP]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + SLOT.
PREVIOUSLY: 137 post-spring.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Hurst's burst takes him from off the board (which could be considered worst) to first. Absence more circumstance than talent; Hurst produced in bunches. Tracking towards high NFL draft pick as an explosive interior pass rusher. "Get in my belly" TFL celebration is a winner.
Despite somewhat disappointing year at C a holy lock to be somewhere on the line. Could be anywhere; will be somewhere. Bet here is M will try to keep him at C for continuity and line calls, which he seems to be clearly the best option for. Goal for next year: get stronger, get more push, be more of a factor against 3-4 NTs, get drafted in the middle rounds.
Omar comin', except his name is Rashan and he is not little. Like Hurst, stuck behind future pros in 2016. Still flashed freaky ability; year two should be a breakout year so enormous it shatters windows across the Midwest. #1 overall prospects are in fact guarantees, and Gary showed plenty to indicate he would not be an exception.
Sole returning member of the front seven had some edge issues last year. Tackling in space was an Area For Improvement, as they say. Positives outweighed negatives, though, as McCray was an outstanding blitzer and reliably in the place he was supposed to be. Probably moves to MLB to help mitigate those edge problems.
Route artisan figures to have role explode as he hits upperclass years and he becomes the primary safety blanket. Best game against OSU when Butt was doubled and tripled all game, and he came through with a productive day. Red-zone weapon will dust some guys, a la Dileo. Don't sleep on him as an outside guy, either. He might play both spots as Michigan decides he's one of their best two.
Swing lineman regarded as Cole 2.0 had Cole's freshman season, a bit delayed. Barely lost LT job to Newsome; jetted past the entire roster to start once Newsome went down. Like Cole, Things could have gone better; they could have gone worse. Like Cole, position uncertain but place amongst the starters absolutely not. Like Cole. Like. Cole. LIKE COLE DO YOU GET IT.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
On the cusp of a lock after a 63%, 8.1 YPA, 17-5 TD-INT sophomore year; sometimes-erratic play leaves a tiny crack for Brandon Peters. Emphasis on "tiny." Impressive pocket presence, plus—but not perfect—accuracy, and increasing command of the offense will be tough to compete with. If he improves like Harbaugh quarterbacks always do you're looking at an All Big Ten player. (And an ugly shirt.)
Got more playing time last year than any other secondary backup, and played well. Defense did not miss a beat when he was in for extended periods. Used as a dimeback, mostly, for a four-safety look. Recruiting rep suggests he fits what Brown wants in his safeties—man coverage capable hitters. Old-ass-looking-man game strong. M needs to fill that role w/ Hill to the NFL.
Ebullient pass rusher produced five sacks despite playing time often measured in single-digit snaps. Did most of his damage with a serious edge rush and relentless approach. This had downsides. Tendency towards wild overpursuit needs to get tamped down; additional weight necessary; on track to be Jake Ryan as a WDE.
Still trying to scale hype mountain; unclear how badly he was affected by injury last year. Big time third down stuff against OSU hints at promise, and there's very little behind him that isn't coming in this recruiting class. Could be third best player on line, could be third best lineman in conference. One thing's for sure: Bryan Mone has the meats.
Got meaningful playing time when starters were dinged, making a few plays along the way. Fast and short thumper well suited to the vertical attacking Brown wants from his linebackers. NFL player and coach's son should be ready to hit the ground running as a starter. Brings a much-needed infusion of dreads to the starting lineup. Has no idea how to draw a Wolverine.
#1 kicker in the country, which means he'll either be an Aguayo or go 0/20 before returning to his home planet. 2/3(!!!) on field goals as a senior in HS. Data basically nonexistent outside of camps, where he killed it. Committed to Penn State w/ ridiculous video, which we 1000% approve of.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Main uncertainty here is sixth-year eligibility. If eligible very strong bet to start, as 6'4" corners are a rare treasure. No shame in losing out to future NFLer Channing Stribling last year and was strong in the first three games with Lewis out. Better in run support than Stribling; thought most of the completions on him in 2015 were bad luck. Brings experience that the rest of the back four is largely devoid of.
You know Harbaugh is itching to roll out lines mostly comprised of 350-pound giants; Onwenu figures to be the first to come online. Played well in limited time a year ago, and has a long term future on O per his coach. Still kind of wonder if he's got the mobility to play as a pulling guard, but we'll see. Made of adamantium, or possibly degenerate neutrons. Likes grapes.
Ol' Skillet Hands did not have the breakout season many anticipated thanks in part to injury; with Jake Butt taking up a lot of targets and the second half of most games spent running the ball with huge leads there was not much opportunity. Should be plenty next year as Butt heads to the NFL. Decent blocker; retains monster receiving upside. Must look out behind him.
Quick-twitch athlete emerged into clear #2 behind Smith by season's end. Capable of nasty short-area jukes; doesn't break many tackles; home-run hitter. Receiving upside unexplored last year but will emerge as his career wears on. Will split snaps with Isaac, Higdon, and others in crowded backfield. Should be allowed to wear a helmet that has his hair on it.
Emerged as clear #3 option on the outside thanks in large part to terrific blocking. Had one bad drop and one badass catch to go with some more routine events. Most X-shaped of the 2015 guys and slid in front of Hoke-era recruits immediately upon arrival. As a recruit, touted as a high polished player who could step in relatively quickly.
Existence of mean ol' Josh Metellus has Hudson's spot somewhat in doubt but if you thought this space would bet against Hudson, you have not been paying attention. Blocked two punts in 2016 and had about as much garbage time as Metellus. If Hudson gets beat out here look for him at SAM or nickel.
This slot could easily read "pick a Kaiju." Both Asiasi and Wheatley will be a year stronger, abler, and meaner; one or both should break out into true stars. Asiasi gets the tentative nod here because he got a majority of Kaiju PT and did very well with it, repeatedly blowing LBs and DBs yards away from where they desired to be. Don't mess with his dad. For real.
If I had a Panda / I'd hammer in the morning / I'd hammer in the evening / but only in the endzone. Impact Fullback Khalid Hill specialized in two-for-one edge blocks, one yard touchdown runs, wide open flare routes, spectacular catches, and self-nicknaming that was so amazing people just ran with it.
IN A BATTLE
Peppers's backup last year, and well-liked by the coaches. But how does Furbush replace a safety? Because that's what Peppers is, a safety. Most Don Brown SAM top out at 215, and Furbush is much bigger than that. Wouldn't be surprised to see him move inside, or reprise his backup role behind a Hudson type.
Anyone's guess who the second outside receiver is. Harris gets a tentative nod as he was repeatedly targeted downfield starting at about midseason. His only catch on those bombs was called back thanks to a fairly weak OPI call, but aside from that it was slick, and promising. People forget that he was an uber-hyped recruit with 2000 yards as a high school junior. Nice hamstring. Good hamstring.
Eases ahead of David Long here thanks to late-season playing time; that may be artifact of opportunity to redshirt Long after a midseason injury. Jourdan Lewis 2.0 is the rep, and he had a couple of PBUs that hinted at his ability. Will be seriously pressed by Long and Ambry Thomas. 27 Tickets needs a bow tie, even a sloppy one.
Watson got more PT than any other non-starting corner after the Clark injury, but he'll be pressed hard to keep that spot. Last year this was Peppers; this year it is a conventional third corner. This could be Metellus, as Brown added Kinnel when he needed an extra guy. This is a real classy section of 27 Tickets, you'll agree.
He's a punter, and he's on the roster. So I guess he'll probably punt, unless someone else does. Nordin a possibility, as he is reputed to have a big leg. Picture at left actually of Jordan Glasgow, because I couldn't leave that out. It's Jordan Glasgow wearing a bear shirt. I mean. Cumong.
Unfortunate OL tradition to list a guy who's not even committed as a starter but the OT depth chart looks like tumbleweeds and Wilson is an immediate impact guy. Dude looks like a 30-year old All Pro. JBB is a possibility but after major struggles in pass pro knocked him out of the lineup I'm not feeling that.
Devastating knee injury saw Newsome spend 38 days in the hospital afterwards. Long term prognosis much better than that would imply, but 2017 availability still very much in question. If fully healthy, starts at tackle. Worried chatter about his ability gave way to play that made you wonder what all the bother was about.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE ENOUGH
RB Drake Johnson—Michigan will apply for sixth year, but do they have the room?
RB Ty Isaac—spring hype petered out into decent play.
RB Karan Higdon—Impressed with his quick cuts and low pad level. Will continue to see snaps.
FB Henry Poggi—less dynamic Michigan fullback, and one who had some issues getting his hat on someone last year.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.—developed his blocking late in the year, coin flip whether it was him or Asiasi.
C Patrick Kugler—most likely reconfiguration of line has Kugler drawing in at C and Cole going to a trouble spot.
CB David Long—going to be a very good player and should push to start. Coinflip w/ Hill.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Brandon Peters—first Harbaugh-selected QB on the roster comes with massive expectations.
QB John O'Korn—iffy Indiana outing was a win, at least.
RB Kareem Walker—academic redshirt out of the way and time to start displaying that talent.
RB Kingston Davis—some transfer chatter.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Moe Ways—passed by Crawford and Harris. Getting late early.
TE Sean McKeon—did not redshirt for some reason grumble.
G David Dawson—Doesn't seem like it's happening.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—sixth OL after the Newsome injury so there's probably some chance, but played poorly.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most likely ILB backup given roster.
SAM Josh Uche—Don Brown dude could be chaos generator.
SS Josh Metellus—spent second half of Rutgers game ending dudes.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not really in the race, it seems.
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Zach Gentry—actually played WR for much of last year. Development will be fascinating.
C Jon Runyan Jr.—right bloodlines at least.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—some playing time he seemed iffy in.
SDE Lawrence Marshall—again disappeared when the season rolled around.
SDE Carlo Kemp—played for some damn reason
WDE Ron Johnson—hyped edge rusher could be Winovich's backup.
WDE Reuben Jones—worker popular with teammates.
NT Michael Dwumfour—ideally he's Hurst 2.0, but probably needs another year.
CB Keith Washington—did not find PT last year, will try again.
Black Moves Up Decision Timeline
This is quite notable in conjunction with last week's news that Michigan's impending numbers crunch is likely to cost either Oliver Martin or Tarik Black a spot in the class.
— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) November 28, 2016
Even though Black recently named Alabama as his leader, this looks like Black securing a spot in Michigan's class ahead of Martin. SECCountry's Chris Kirschner explains:
So, what do I make of him saying Alabama is his current leader? I don’t really think much of it right now. I truly believe this may be a case of a prospect talking up Alabama shortly before committing to a different school.
My pick for Black is Michigan because I know the Wolverines covet him more than the Tide currently do. Again, there are three committable offers out at the receiver position: Smith, Ruggs and Collins. If Alabama misses on any of those receivers, that’s when they’ll go to Plan B, which Black currently is.
I fully expect Black to commit to Michigan, even though he says Alabama is his top school.
Wolverine247's Steve Lorenz reports Jedd Fisch will do an in-home visit with Black on Thursday, and he still expects Black to end up in Ann Arbor.
Among the many in-home visits taking place this week, Lorenz mentions a couple notables taking place today: Chris Partridge will check in on top-100 MS LB Willie Gay and Jay Harbaugh will visit with top-50 OT and LSU commit Austin Deculus.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Mike McCray and Chris Wormley
Chris, what was your view of the spot?
“Looked like he was short, but I guess the refs saw something different. We have to play through those types of calls, that type of adversity.”
Through the first three quarters you guys kind of bottled them up. What did they do differently in the fourth quarter?
CW: “We were just playing lights-out the first three and a half quarters. They got some plays and they have good players. They go to Ohio State, they’ve got good players. If we made a few plays at the end the outcome probably would have been different, but I thought we played pretty well for most of the game.”
Chris, do you guys still believe that you’re a playoff team?
“I think so. They’re saying Wisconsin can do that if they win next week and we beat that team. So, there’s probably some things that have to go our way, some people that have to be on our side on the committee or however that works, but we’ve played good football all year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and we’re excited for whatever happens.”
With the regular season ending, how do you guys view these last 12 games and the final result today?
CW: “I think you look back and we had a great run. This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing football, with Mike, the rest of the defense, the offense. I think you look back and you can see what you did poorly, did well, and build off of the things that you did well and take that into the bowl game and prepare for that as best you can.”
MM: “Like Chris said, had a great season throughout the regular season. Didn’t get the outcome that we wanted--to go to the Big Ten championship--but like he said before, you’ve got to get ready for the bowl game and see what we did right throughout the season, see what we did wrong, and improve on it.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
11/26/2016 – Michigan 27, Ohio State 30 (2OT) – 10-2, 7-2 Big Ten
After all that, the thing that sticks with me is something much more prosaic than the various outrages everyone's going on about. It's third and four in the fourth quarter. Ohio State literally triple-covers Jake Butt; Wilton Speight finds Amara Darboh open on a quick slant. The ball is behind Darboh, tough but catchable. Darboh does not catch it. Michigan punts with five minutes and change left on the clock.
Why did that happen?
I don't know. Nobody does, but very few people tasked with writing about a thing will tell you that. Everyone else will reach for any explanation of remote plausibility, from an injured shoulder to CHOKING like a CLOWN FRAUD. Whatever, doesn't matter. Just as long as there's a reason a thing occurred, we can go on with our lives.
I think that happened for no damn reason at all. Yes, if you replaced Speight with Tom Brady that pass was more likely to be accurate. If you replaced him with Tyler O'Connor, less likely. It is still a simple five-yard throw that is amongst the easiest in the quarterback's repertoire. It is within the capabilities of the QB. Speight probably hits 90% of them, especially on a day where he is locked in. The most likely explanation for why he did not hit that one is none at all. The most likely reason Darboh did not catch a tough but catchable pass is none at all.
There are entire fields of study dedicated to the fallibility of the human brain, which refuses to operate cleanly. (I just put a D into the word "entire" as I was typing that sentence out.) These exist mostly because planes crash into each other and space shuttles explode and not because football happens sometimes, which just goes to show that people have strange priorities.
Speaking of the fallibility of the human brain:
— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) November 26, 2016
It is hard to take that sort of thing. Michigan had just gotten a flag on a similar, but less severe, defensive holding incident on the prior Ohio State drive. That ended a Michigan drive that had reached midfield; if called correctly Michigan has first and ten at the Ohio State 40.
Later in the game the same pattern would repeat. Delano Hill was flagged for pass interference on third and 14 when he unnecessarily grabbed the waist of Curtis Samuel before the ball arrived; the exact same thing happened to Grant Perry on a third down conversion attempt and was ignored. Again, that sets Michigan up with a first down, this one on the ten in the second overtime. Again it was preceded by a call so similar against Michigan it beggars belief that a flag did not come out.
That's tough to get over. The spot was close enough and chaotic enough that it falls within the realm of the unknowable. An MGoUser who knows what parallax is and went over available evidence with a fine-toothed comb thinks Barrett made it by literally an inch or two. While I thought the spot was wrong I knew they would not overturn it, because they never overturn spots without some sort of egregious his-knee-was-down-ten-yards-ago kind of thing. In isolation that call is, in the cold light of day two days later, too close to have a definitive resolution. If it was wrong it very well could have been an honest mistake.
It is difficult to interpret either of the above incidents as honest, or a mistake. It's difficult to see a standard-issue Harbaugh blowup get flagged in the Game when we've seen the same thing tolerated all year. It's difficult to believe that Michigan's defensive line hasn't benefited from a holding call since the Illinois game.
This is the point at which newspapery types come in with the You Had Your Opportunities To Win The Game, an asinine criticism since that's literally true of both teams in every close game ever played. You can believe that Michigan had opportunities to win they did not take and simultaneously believe that the officiating gave you less than a 50/50 shot in a 50/50 game.
And then you're putting guys out on the field from the state of Ohio who were previously banned from working The Game because of how it might look? What the fuck are you even doing, Big Ten?
What's that? Counting your money? Right. Well done.
Michigan lost this game. They did so for many reasons.
Their mistakes were punished as ruthlessly as possible. A floating ball goes directly to a defender. A fumbled snap is recovered by the defense. Curtis Samuel escapes a huge loss three times and sets up the fourth down that falls within the margin of error.
They did not take advantage of plays that were there to be made. Speight threw behind Darboh twice; Darboh did not bail him out. Karan Higdon missed a cut on what would have been a huge gain. Smith did not run over a safety prior to the fumble.
They did not get a fair whistle. See above.
All that and it came down to a literal inch. A rivalry classic, and an invitation for a bunch of hooting jackals to hoot some more. As for us on the other side, nothing to do but soldier on in the gray light of morning.
there is another [Bryan Fuller]
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Taco Charlton was the most rampant of Michigan's very rampant defensive line, acquiring two and a half sacks and forcing Barrett to move around several other times.
#2 (tie) Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray shut off the Ohio State edge except on a couple plays where Michigan was successfully out-leveraged pre-snap. It was weird to see neutrals on twitter wondering why anyone would run east-west against The Michigan Defense, but they were, because it didn't work. They picked up 19 tackles between them, two sacks, another TFL, and McCray batted down two passes. McCray also forced a sack when he leapt in the passing lane of a third.
#3 Kenny Allen bombed all but one of his punts; he mastered the Ron Coluzzi hard right turn; he had just one touchback, that on a punt that still had a 40+ yard net; Curtis Samuel had just one quickly snuffed return opportunity; he hit a couple field goals; none of his kickoffs were returnable.
Honorable mention: Channing Stribling broke up the only deep shot on the day; OSU decided they were not going to bother with either him or Jourdan Lewis. The rest of the defensive line was terrific all day; the tackles were very good in pass protection against some tough customers. Peppers had a big KOR, an interception, and was also a major part of the edge being closed down.
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU).
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
It's a goat in a duck costume!
— AJC (@ajc) November 28, 2016
Honorable mention: is that not sufficient
Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Honorable mention: The ensuing play. Speight fumbles the snap; Speight gets hit on the throw and offers up a pick six; Speight throws an INT that is on him; various refereeing malfeasances.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
OSU: The Spot.
[After THE JUMP: ~3000 additional words, 43% of which are swears.]
Khalid Hill, Wilton Speight, Kenny Allen
Wilton, what was the preparation process like for you going into this game?
“Same amount of preparation as any game in terms of football. Just had more recovery stuff to get back for this game.”
At this point, you had them, seemed to be on the ropes, just a couple mistakes--
WS: “Yeah, that’s pretty disappointing. Game of this magnitude, the fight that we’ve put in as a team together since last January after the bowl game, it all came down to this game. The Game. The way it played out, incredible game, but came up short.”
Khalid, describe what you were a part of here today. You had two touchdowns. Just describe what this game was like for you.
“I struggled. Got stopped on the goal line, then Coach called on me again to go do it again. Just shows the trust he has in his players. It’s not about my success, though. We wanted to get it done as a team and fell short. Got to keep our heads up and keep moving.”
A lot of self-inflicted wounds today. What do you guys take out of that and what do you make of it?
WS: “Yeah, I made a couple mistakes in the game. Unfortunate to get my hand hit when I was throwing out of the end zone, which resulted in a pick-six. Then trying to force another ball into too tight of a window. But yeah.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]