It's more likely than not this will go in. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Before Michigan takes on Purdue in their first huge test of conference play, I took a few questions on the season thus far and the outlook going forward. Let's start with a fun one.
— NOSDOOM (@MGoFour) January 6, 2016
Not at all unreasonable! Michigan is essentially at the midpoint of the season—they've played 15 of their 31 regular-season games—and Robinson is shooting 57% on over six three-point attempts per game. That alone is a good sample to go on and feel optimistic.
It's also reasonable based on the eye test. Robinson gets his share of great looks created by the LeVert/Irvin/Walton trio, which knows by now that finding Robinson open on the perimeter is the most optimal shot to generate on a given possession. Mark Donnal's emergence as a pick-and-roll threat is creating more open looks for Robinson as the spot-up option in a three-man game; even if that's not sustainable against better teams, it can only help his output compared to the beginning of the year, when M had little P&R game to speak of.
Most importantly, we already know Robinson is an incredible shooter. He hit 46% of his threes as a freshman at Williams while being the focal point of the offense. He spent his redshirt year shattering Nik Stauskas' practice records. He's got a textbook, repeatable stroke, leaving him less prone to the streakiness of a guy like Zak Irvin.
For Robinson to drop to 50% on the year, he'd have to cool off considerably. If we assume he finishes the season with 200 three-point attempts (he's at 91 right now), he'd have to shoot 44%—a 13-point dropoff from his current average—just to sink to 50%. While his shooting may take a hit due to the increased level of competition, I don't think the effect will be nearly that drastic. This is a special player.
[Hit THE JUMP for a breakdown of M's win probability against top-tier teams, parallels between this squad and the 2011-12 team, a guess at the next breakout performance, and more.]
How does a mediocre running team do this:
…to one of the best run defenses in the country? Let's discuss.
Entering this game Florida was fifth in rush D to S&P+, giving up just 4.4 YPC with sacks removed, which means they turned their opponents' running games into basically Florida's freshman-infested running game. In our diagram for Ace's FFFF we gave 7/11 defensive starters a "dangerman" star, and three(!) got the shield that's reserved for the top players at their position in the country. Among them was end Jonathan Bullard, perhaps the best run-defending player in the nation, and strong safety Marcus Maye.
And yet Michigan, whose running game was barely better than Florida's this year, ran on that: 225 yards on 46 carries. Brian mentioned in the game column that a lot of this came from a reinvigorated De'Veon Smith, and from my rewatch I bet you the UFR will bear that out. There was also a little RPS, some great plays by individual offensive linemen (Mason Cole and Graham Glasgow had very good games), and some Harbaugh games.
Part I: Florida throws paper
The run above, which came mid-way through the 2nd quarter, must be taken in context. Smith by this point was already well up in +'s running Michigan's base stuff, and Rudock was well on his way to an excellent day.
Florida's pass defense is just as good as their run D, and in passing downs they're lethal. So it's worth it to them to try some surprising/a little unsound things on 1st and 2nd down to keep Michigan's offense behind schedule, and bring up those long situations. Against Michigan in particular it appeared Florida's gameplan was to take away inside runs, trusting the Wolverine backs not to find any holes that left elsewhere.
Let's first go back to an earlier thing Florida did that should have earned a TFL:
This is the one where the broadcast crew infamously put up the ND and OSU scores mid-play. What Florida called (I think) is below:
It's an under but the 5-tech is actually in a 7-tech.
Michigan tried to run "Power" into this, pulling Kalis, blocking down on the DL and using the fullback as lead blocker. Florida is ready, as the NT shoots up the back of Glasgow before Braden can get an angle on him; Braden blocks air, and Kalis runs into the nose in the middle of his pull:
Smith did a very good job to dance around that NT, then to bounce outside the unblocked MLB whom Kalis was heading toward, turning minus two yards into four.
The lesson: Florida was messing with Michigan's power running attack by sending rushers into the A gaps, leaving the 'B' gaps open, but only as a funnel directly to the linebackers. Yes, you'd like Braden to get a better block. Yes, that was a great play by the NT to get into the path of Kalis. But this was Florida's plan against Michigan's base thing, and they got the base thing. RPS'd.
[After the jump we RPS right back]
Attrition incoming. Harbaugh minced no words in the press conference after the Citrus Bowl:
Harbaugh said 10-11 guys won't be back but "for the rest of the guys, like De'Veon and me, onward"
— Mark Snyder (@Mark__Snyder) January 1, 2016
Michigan no doubt has a very good idea of who those guys are already and is recruiting to match. Rivals has a rundown of the general situation that lists a number of names, most of them obvious.
Potential fifth years who have not seen the field much are not likely to return. That's a group that includes Terry Richardson, Blake Bars, Tom Strobel and maybe Allen Gant. Drake Johnson was a maybe due to playing time, something I'd also heard, but now looks set to come back. Matt Godin is mentioned as a possibility, but that seems far-fetched since he saw a ton of snaps this year. He's not a great fit as a DT, but move him to a plugger DE spot and he can be useful taking on tight ends on the like.
Rivals also suggests that a current offensive line starter might move on, which sounds absolutely ridiculous. Even if a guy might get beat out that guy would almost certainly be your #6, and asking that guy to transfer is not something any program is likely to do. File that under "motivational ploy" or "drunken telephone".
Aside from the fifth year guys, space will come from a couple places. One are Michigan's specialists. We currently count them against the cap but their situation is probably more fluid than that since I assume a couple of them are on "you get the first available slot in fall" kind of deals. Those slots are near-certain to open up by fall; I don't know if Michigan has to account for them on Signing Day.
Then there are plain old transfers. Derrick Green disappeared in the second half of the season and didn't make the bowl trip; I have heard that he is very likely to transfer. You have to figure that players passed by freshmen are going to be inclined to look around. There are few WR/DB types that applies to, and then at least one quarterback is going to look at the guys around him and say NOOOPE. It sounds like Harbaugh is already aware of who those guys are.
Ty Isaac doesn't seem like one of them. With virtually zero playing time after a couple of mid-year fumbles Isaac would be a guy to keep an eye on even though he's already lost a year of eligibility by departing USC. But Isaac says he's going to stay and scrap:
"I didn't play as well as I needed to, and I obviously had some things come up," Isaac said last week in Orlando. "But I still feel the same way. Anything the coaches want me to do I'll do, and I want to do.
"It didn't go my way, but the team overall's had a successful year and I'm happy to be a part of that."
I'd heard that he was very prominent in practices late, but that clearly did not translate into enough trust to put him on the field. He'll work on rebuilding that this offseason.
Early entries. It's departure season, as the deadline to declare for the NFL draft is the 15th. Michigan seems to be getting everyone other than maybe Willie Henry back; others have not been so fortunate:
- Penn State: QB Christian Hackenberg and DT Austin Johnson have declared. Neither is much of a surprise.
- Indiana: RB Jordan Howard declared, and Michigan fans quietly high-fived. So did DT Darius Latham, who was their most talented defender.
- Nebraska: DT Maliek Collins declared. Michigan doesn't play Nebraska next year.
- Maryland: DE Yannick Ngakoue declared.
- Rutgers: LB Steve Longa is gone, but Seth will still draft him anyway next year.
- Ohio State: DE Joey Bosa, RB Ezekiel Elliott, S Tyvis Powell, QB Cardale Jones, WR Michael Thomas, CB Eli Apple and LB Darron Lee have all declared. S Vonn Bell is widely expected to go as well.
Iowa is getting CB Desmond King back, so that's good for them. Everyone else of note is out.
Ratings! I don't care about ratings. A lot of people seem very mad that the playoff semifinals dropped a third of their viewership after moving to New Year's Eve. I don't care that much about other people setting money on fire, but yeah it was bad:
Per Sports Business Journal's Jon Ourand, overnight numbers for the Oklahoma-Clemson Orange Bowl and Alabama-Michigan State Cotton Bowl were 9.7 and 9.9, respectively (about 15.6 million viewers for the Orange Bowl and about 18.6 million for the Cotton, per Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch).
Last year's Rose and Sugar semis got 15.5 and 15.3 (about 28 million viewers apiece, per The Washington Post).
That's more than a third fewer viewers for the sport's biggest games of the year.
Two games that didn't exactly come down to the wire—MSU-Alabama was particularly uncompetitive—didn't help. The idea that college football would change the country's New Year's Eve paradigm was massive hubris, but this is an organization that kept Bill Hancock as their main mouthpiece even after they'd decided everything that came out of his mouth for a decade was complete bollocks. Hubris should be expected.
Let's see what Bill Hancock has to say now, I bet it's reasonable and logic—
"That decline, frankly, is not much of a surprise and it's modest."
Hancock's business card reads "will lie but seem respectable for money."
Wisconsin down one Dave Aranda. LSU hires him away for a reported 1.3 million a year. That is bad for Wisconsin, which seems to be clearly handicapped by their administration at this point. Gary Andersen fled to one of the worst jobs in the Pac-12 rather than stick around; Bo Ryan retired midseason to spite people who would not give the job to his primary assistant; they lose their DC and Barry Alvarez cries poverty afterward.
I'm sure they'll maintain competitiveness but it feels like their golden age is coming to an end here.
Mone ready to go. Bryan Mone tells Scout he's completely recovered from his injury and raring to go:
"I used (the injury) as motivation to be honest with you," Mone said. "Just motivation. Watching the guys practice and play got me excited to work out and not only that but in the classroom, too... I feel pretty good body-wise. I was at 330 when I got hurt, I'm at 309 now. My expectations are just to get better with my technique football-wise."
He also says "everybody is coming back," which predated reports about Willie Henry exploring his options but is still an enouraging sign for how he thinks that decision will go.
Partridge on departing. DJ Durkin made a run at Chris Partridge after he was hired at Maryland, but Partridge decided to stay. It sounds like that's not a short-term decision:
“My future is whatever Jim Harbaugh thinks my future is,” said Partridge, with his mother, Bonnie, and father, Rick, nearby. “My number will be called and I know that, and for now I’m trying to be the best in the country in whatever role my team needs me, whatever I’m asked to do. My loyalty is with Jim Harbaugh — who I consider the best coach in the country — and my heart is with the University of Michigan. I’m just part of a team trying to do my part to help us win Big Ten and national championships.”
Partridge coached linebackers in the bowl game and is probably in line for a full assistant spot in the relatively near future, possibly when Mattison retires.
Etc.: Get The Picture on the epidemic of QB transfers. Harbaugh gonna Harbaugh. Citrus Bowl widely watched despite blowout. Holdin' The Rope on said blowout. Things that predict future shooting performance. Jake Rudock on his final year. The evolution of Michigan football.
Fitz Toussaint will start for the Steelers in the playoffs. /throws dart at Fred Jackson picture
1 hour 26 minutes
De'Veon Smith as Ricky Vaughn, I be like dang Jake Rudock, three amigos 2016, offensive line maybe kinda shaky on the ground but pass protection was superb.
Not particularly tested due to the opposition. Peppers necessity on D next year, linebacker collar-pull, Henry and Wormley beast mode.
Pumping the brakes a tad on Mark Donnal, but hooray that anyway. Rotation emergence, shooting of the three, all of the three.
INSIDE THE CROOKED BLUE LINE WITH STEVE LORENZ
'Crootin talk featuring Rashan Gary, Dylan Crawford, Lavert Hill, Chase Allen, and many others. Also darts. In fact like the first five minutes of this segment are somehow about darts.
"Across 110th Street"
"Hail Hail," Shovels & Rope
"The Man Comes Around," Johnny Cash
"Little Acorns," The White Stripes
THE USUAL LINKS
Jim Harbaugh saved his best for last.
After a Florida defender committed an obvious facemask on Amara Darboh, Harbaugh sprinted down the sideline screaming for a call, gesticulating the whole way.
You may note a brave player—by the arm sleeve, I believe it's Jabrill Peppers—tried to get Harbaugh's attention when he reached the offical. Harbaugh, too deep into rage mode to notice, proceeded to scream "HEY, THEN CALL IT. YOU CALLED IT? YOU CALLED IT? WELL, OKAY."
Sealing this as my favorite Harbaugh GIF of the year is the scoreboard chyron showing that a flag was down the whole time.
[Hit THE JUMP for Dad Rudock, Jehu Chesson, heel clicks, and much more.]
Hello. Every year we prune the seniors and bump everybody up a year to maintain our overview of the Michigan roster. It lives under the "Useful Stuff" tab and is a wiki page editable by anyone with 500 points. Note that early-enrollee commits have already been moved into the "freshmen" column since they're on campus with the exception of Brandon Peters, who will arrive as soon as he's done with the Army game.
Ed-S: Now with mouseovers! Hold your mouse over each name to get the latest height, weight, and player he most would resemble if he totally pans out.* Click takes you to his recruiting profile, or if that's not available his Hello: post.
MICHIGAN FOOTBALL DEPTH BY CLASS 2016
|QB (6)||W. Speight*|
|RB (10)||K. Davis
|WR (7)||A. Mitchell|
|Slot (4)||D. Jones|
|C (2)||J. Runyan Jr*|
|DT (5)||J. Elliott||B. Pallante*|
|NT (3)||M. Hurst Jr.*||R. Glasgow*|
|SDE (3)||R. Weaver||S.Johnson*||C. Wormley*|
|WDE (4)||C. Kemp|
|SLB (1)||A. Gant*|
|ILB (9)||R. Jones*
D. Bush Jr.
|FS (3)||J. Metellus||B. Cole*||D. Thomas|
|P/K/LS (3)||A. David*||S. Sypniewski*||K. Allen*#|
|Total (69 +23)||23||10||17||16||26|
projected starters in bold, returning starters in italics.
Walk-Ons Or Scholarship Players: Ryan Glasgow is assumed to be on scholarship, as are all three specialists. That latter may be incorrect.
Recruits: 16 plus attrition
1/1 – updated for 2016
Like "YMRMFSPA" in this site's recruiting profiles, it doesn't say Kaleb Ringer is Sam Sword or even that we think he's a future Sam Sword, just that if he were to reach the outer bounds of reasonable expectation a senior starting Ringer may resemble Sword. For most the original recruiting YMRMFSPA is listed, though I've updated many of the upperclassmen to reflect renewed expectations.