"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Now that we’re in November, I finally feel like it’s time to start talking about the CFP – yes, the committee released its rankings last night and yes, they’re predictably valueless, name-brand garbage. Ranking teams based on what they’ve done so far is asinine: the Big 12 still hasn’t played any of its marquee games (a savvy bit of scheduling, at least in terms of valuable late-season exposure, consider Baylor’s three-game stretch of Oklahoma, @ Oklahoma State, and @ TCU in a three week span) and judging teams off an incomplete resume means nothing, especially when each individual result is so crucial.
We should be looking at things differently; the rigidity of traditional rankings doesn’t make sense – it should be a question of “which team will have deserved it?” At this point, it’s impossible to know. Consider some of the games this weekend:
Florida State @ Clemson. Both of these teams have dominated the ACC in the recent past – this Atlantic division contest feels like the de facto ACC Championship game and undefeated Clemson’s toughest remaining test.
TCU @ Oklahoma State. Neither team has lost, though both have looked plenty suspect on the defensive side of the ball; it’s easily the toughest opponent either team has faced thus far and should provide some clarity atop the Big 12 regardless of who wins.
LSU @ Alabama. The most-anticipated SEC contest of the year pits LSU – still undefeated and boasting a complete-looking squad – and Alabama, who would effectively be eliminated from CFP contention with a loss.
It’s not that ranking Alabama fourth overall is nonsensical (I mean, it is nonsensical,* but it doesn’t really matter) – of course, the Tide will have made a compelling case for a bid if they eventually win the SEC. They haven’t done so yet. Necessarily, one of LSU and Alabama will be taking a big hit to its evolving body of work this weekend: if Bama holds serve at home and defeats Leonard Fournette and company (far from a given, seeing as how they’ve lost a home game to a less-than-elite Ole Miss team already), we could be looking at two one-loss SEC West teams at the end of the year; if LSU wins, they’ll be in prime position to run the table the rest of the way… unless they lose to Ole Miss, who still just has one loss in conference play and holds an invaluable tiebreaker over Alabama.
The race for the division title in the SEC West could still go in so many different directions and it’s important to consider that while projecting the playoff race. The committee’s willful choice not to look ahead makes the rankings disingenuous; I get that they’re not in the business of predicting games (and, by extension, not in the business of predicting the playoff) and any discussion of the top four right now – or, even better, “if the season ended today” – pointedly forgets that there’s still much, much more football to be played. There won’t be six undefeated teams between the Big Ten and the Big 12, like there is now. Imagining a reality in which there are is stupid.
*Alabama’s best wins are against Tennessee (4-4, #17 in F/+), Wisconsin (7-2, #23), and Texas A&M (6-2, #26). Georgia (5-3, #45) was ranked eighth in the AP poll when Alabama went into Athens and routed the Bulldogs; we now know that UGA is pretty trash… does the committee think they’re good? Do they think Tennessee’s good? Do they remember that Alabama lost to Ole Miss (7-2, #15)? I mean, a weekly rankings TV show is a shameless ratings grab but still. STILL.
[After the JUMP: actual analysis(!)]
Over the past two games the passing numbers for the opposing quarterbacks were obviously a lot higher. Is there something that you can pinpoint on that to change?
“Well, the Michigan State game you’re facing a really good quarterback. They made a lot of plays and we made a lot of plays ourselves in that game, but you’ve got to give credit to the quarterback over there.
“Last week, I’m not taking anything away from Minnesota [but] we just laid an egg defensively, especially in the secondary. We just played poorly. That contributes to a lot of the passing yards this past week.”
Do you attribute that to rust from a bye week or…?
“You know, we’ve all tried to figure it out. Nobody knows but we’re fighting through it and certainly we’ve talked about it, we’ve addressed it, and we are working on getting better starting yesterday in practice.”
Anything you saw specifically on some of the breakdowns that led to long pass plays?
“I just, again, think our guys in the backend didn’t play as aggressively as they have in the past; weren’t going after footballs, had bad eye control, and just losing their guys. Did not play well.”
Connor Cook is ancient history at this point, but was he one of the better quarterbacks you’ve seen this year?
“Oh yeah. He’s a real good quarterback. I mean, he puts the ball places where it’s hard for other guys to catch. He’s good. A lot of credit to him. He’s gonna be- you’ll be watching him on Sundays for sure.”
[After THE JUMP: The wings on the helmet will tell on you if you lose eye control]
With such a surehanded Jug grip, Falk thinks Jabrill would make an excellent assistant equipment manager.
Mr. Peppers do pretty much anything better than the people who usually do that thing. We've been told he can play corner, nickel, safety, linebacker, returner, holder, kicker, punter, receiver, running back, quarterback, and do your taxes. I have no doubts he could write this blog better.
Peppers can't be everywhere, but Michigan did use the bye week to put him into the offense in interesting ways. So I thought I'd show all of them. Happy Peppers fun time everybody!
PLAY 1: Empty End-Around
Personnel: Peppers + QB, 2 WRs, 2 TEs (looks like Ace)
Peppers is a: Z receiver
Formation weirdness: Peppers lines up as a receiver and Butt is a flex TE to the same side as the Y-TE, A.J. Williams, who also is split off a good yard from the edge. This will come in hand. The result is an empty 4-wide look; safeties back off.
The play: End around. Peppers starts his motion just before the snap so the defense has barely reacted to it. Mason Cole pulls, other two uncovered OL release, and Kalis and Braden have to reach their guys.
How it worked out: The split of Williams comes into play here as the playside end is shooting that gap and gets caved [A.J. Williams heart bubbles!]. Braden and Kalis both got playside of their guys for just enough to delay while Peppers bursts past. All the 2nd level defenders except the MLB are expecting pass and don't react until Peppers has already turned the corner. They get blocked really far downfield. However Glasgow couldn't get a good angle on the SS, who gets a tackle in space after the 1st down.
[Hit the JUMP for two more of these]
Walker Decommits From Ohio State
Five-star NJ RB Kareem Walker had maintained his commitment to Ohio State even in the wake of a reportedly great official visit to Michigan a few weeks back. That is no longer the case.
I've decided to decommit pic.twitter.com/T6HZ77p4Bg
— AlightyReem (@_KareemWalker) November 4, 2015
According to TomVH, it's "not likely" Walker will take a visit back to Ohio State. This puts Michigan squarely in the driver's seat in Walker's recruitment, and the Crystal Ball picks are coming in heavy for the Wolverines, including from Guys In The Know like Lorenz and Wiltfong ($). Even though Walker plans to take more visits, this shouldn't take too long to play out; he plans to enroll early at the school of his choice.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Via the mothership:
And the relevant bits from the release:
The terms of Beilein's extension call for him to earn a base salary of $400,000 with additional compensation of $1,470,000 per year for TV, radio, internet, shoe/apparel sponsorships, consulting, promotion and other services. In separate deferred payments, Beilein will receive an additional $1.5 million annually through the University's Supplemental Defined Contributions Retirement Plan.
The contract also provides opportunities for supplemental pay based on a range of performance measures from winning the Big Ten regular-season title and tournament championships as well as selection to and victories in the NCAA Tournament.
The perception already was that he was here through retirement—Michigan would be insane to let him go—but it was time to do this again because his last contract, signed in 2013, would have expired when this year's freshmen are seniors. When this one runs out he'll be 68.
A sign of things to come?
In Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Jon Horford, Michigan had the good fortune of rolling with a deep and productive group of big men for a couple years. Last year's trio of Ricky Doyle, Mark Donnal, and Max Bielfeldt lacked the experience, skill, and physicality of that group, and there was a noticeable effect on Michigan's performance at both ends of the court.
While Bielfeldt was allowed to move on to a big-desperate Indiana squad for his graduate year, Doyle and Donnal should be better players as sophomores, and DJ Wilson provides hope that Michigan will get more from its bench up front this season. If there's a hole in this lineup, it's at center, but Doyle displayed enough potential last year that this position can quickly turn into a strength if a viable backup emerges.
Measurables: 6'9", 250
Base Stats: 18.2 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 61/0/59 2P/3P/FT%, 3.2 RPG, 12 blocks
Key Advanced Metrics: 17.9% usage, 117.4 ORating, 10.4 OReb%, 11.9 DReb%, 55.5 FT Rate, 2.6 block %
If you listened to the season preview podcast or the recent hoops-centric MGoRadio, you know the writers of this blog are very excited about Doyle. A series of unforeseen events—Mitch McGary's suspension and subsequent departure, Jon Horford's transfer, Mark Donnal looking overwhelmed—caused him to go from unheralded recruit to starting center for a Big Ten title hopeful, and while Michigan's season didn't go as planned, Doyle rose to the challenge better than anyone could've expected.
[Hit THE JUMP.]