11/14/2015 – Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2OT) – 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten
Other things happened on Saturday.
Florida played South Carolina, for one. As of 11 AM on November 14th Florida is 8-1, already the SEC East champions, and a fringe playoff contender. South Carolina is 3-6 and has already seen Steve Spurrier bolt for the golf course midseason. An ESPN reporter catches up with first-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain for an interview. He asks McElwain if Florida plans on beating South Carolina's head in so that the playoff committee will like them more.
This is a dumb question for a lot of reasons. For one, if Florida wins out the only thing that will keep them out of the playoff is the apocalypse. For two, only one coach is going to respond "oh sure, definitely" when asked he is going to beat a noble opponent until they look like Jared Leto in Fight Club. Unfortunately Spurrier is that man, and he is now a pro-am golfer. For three, Florida just beat Vanderbilt 9-7.
Anyway McElwain gives this reporter an eyebrow cock and laughs out an answer. It's a good answer: "we're not at the point in this program where we can think like that."
Three hours later the Gamecocks fire in two quick touchdowns to pull within 17-14. Florida fends off further scoring from an Ichabod Crane program and rips off a big run while they're trying to kill the clock; 24-14 is the final but a bounce here or there and, well, you know.
Michigan isn't at the point in their program where they can take much of anything for granted. This goes both ways. Suddenly the defense's fiery dominance is very much in question, but as compensation Jake Rudock is accounting for 500 yards of total offense. Jake Rudock is throwing the ball well downfield and it is going swimmingly. Jake Rudock is saying "eff it" and punting it up to Jehu Chesson to get Michigan down to the one. Jake Rudock has sweet nunchucks, and he is no longer hitting himself in the face with them.
Meanwhile, Michigan has finally run out of people to throw at opponents on the defensive line. Michigan has a very good starting 22 but the defense goes about 16 guys deep before a cliff. Michigan has three ILBs and then… uh. They have four CBs and then nah. They have eight… seven… six… five DL, and if there is ever a wrong time to be short-handed on the defensive line it is against high-tempo, crazy-ass Indiana when they have a healthy Jordan Howard.
pictured: anime Jordan Howard
So Kevin Wilson had a plan, or at least half of a plan. The plan: be on the field forever going fast and get Michigan tired out and then get guys who had never played before locked on the field. Sometimes the other half of the plan consisted of watching Michigan score quick touchdowns, but this quickly devolved into a replay of that one Denard-vs-Indiana game. You know, the one where Indiana went on Ishtar-length scoring drives. After those drives Michigan would get the ball back and Denard would immediately run 75 yards. Repeat until dizzy. Continue repeating until vomiting. Implement yet further repeating until unconscious.
Michigan did have a ten play touchdown drive at the beginning of the second quarter, but the rest of their drives before the one-minute drill lasted 4, 3, 2, and 3 plays. Two of those were touchdowns, so hooray for that, but as that was going on this is what Indiana was doing:
- 9 plays, 29 yards
- 11 plays, 53 yards
- 17(!) plays, 71 yards
- 8 plays, 41 yards
- 5 plays, 24 yards
- 7 plays, 61 yards
None of those drives took as long as the Michigan 10 plays drive; Indiana got that 17 play drive off in just 5:22 of clock time.
The pace and inability to get off the field murdered the beat-up Michigan defensive line. Wilson's decision to go for three separate fourth down attempts, two of which succeeded, contributed to the downward spiral of the Michigan defense and directly led to Michigan's punch-drunk second half. On the third, Wilson threw a screen on third and ten with every intention of going for it on the ensuing fourth and short.
Fire Kevin Wilson immediately, please.
Michigan came out the other end of that game, shook up but unscathed. Indiana does this to everyone. OSU was fortunate to not get hit with a pass interference penalty on a thirty-yard heave that would have tied that game. Indiana was driving for the lead halfway through the fourth quarter against MSU. Indiana lost to Rutgers.
Even if I don't think it's going to happen this time, I am now thoroughly used to the mid-game shift from "this is a football game against Indiana" to "this is a METH BENDER against THE CRAZED RACCOON MAFIA." By the end of the first quarter I was holding onto my butts. By the fourth quarter I had chewed a small hole in the earth's crust. Overtime was spent peeking through split fingers.
Michigan eventually held, though, demonstrating why it's better to have a struggling defense than a notional one. And here we are again: for Michigan, exhausted and victorious. For Indiana, heartbroken and half-blind.
Indiana should definitely never stop doing this, but they should stop doing this. Fire Kevin Wilson. Replace him with Gerry DiNardo. Have the same record but lose by 30 points every game. For your heart, Indiana, and mine.
Michigan-centric from Parking God:
This one has some things Indiana did if you can stand the buttrock soundtrack:
hoofin' it [Fuller]
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jake Rudock set an (overtime-aided) Michigan record for touchdown passes, and just about hit 10 YPA on a 46-attempt, 440 yard day, and added in 64 rushing yards for good measure. The interception was unfortunate but other than that he crushed it.
#2 Jehu Chesson was Rudock's favorite target, grabbing a deep in route on the fly and taking it to the house for a 64 yard touchdown. Rudock hit him twice on the touchdown drive that ended regulation, once on the kind of floated ball he's had trouble adjusting to so far in his career. No problems there and none on the subsequent fourth-and-five catch where two different guys blew him up.
#3 Delano Hill couldn't be held responsible for most of the bad things that happened to the defense because he wasn't out there for a lot of it, but after Dymonte Thomas was knocked out he entered to make 10 tackles, 8 of them solo. He made the plays that stopped Indiana in double over time, first blitzing to tackle Howard on second down, then tackling Sudfeld in space on third down, and finally winning man press coverage against a slot guy for the win.
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh and Jake Butt also racked up piles of yards on the receiving end of Rudock passes; Jourdan Lewis just about had two interceptions and was very difficult to beat as per usual; the offensive line couldn't get much push on the ground but they were great in pass protection.
9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
7: Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers, #1 Indiana)
6: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers)
5: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota),
3: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland),
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU), Jehu Chesson(#2 Indiana)
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota), Delano Hill(#3 Indiana).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Last play wins tend to have the last play feature in this section.
Honorable mention: Any number of Jake Rudock passing TDs—six to be specific. A looping pass to Butt gets Michigan into a manageable third down after second and twenty nine.
Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.
Rutgers: Peppers as Denard.
Indiana: Delano Hill seals it with a PBU.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Indiana has nineteen straight runs in the second half, reminding everyone of that RichRod game against Wisconsin, which is the last game I ever expected to be reminded of this week.
Honorable mention: Channing Stribling's very bad tackle attempt leads to a PR TD; Rudock throws an INT at an inopportune moment.
Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
Rutgers: KO return given up.
Indiana: run run run run run run run run run run run run.
[After THE JUMP: if bad Rudock is Ruddock how do you subtract more Ds from his name than one]
Friday, November 13, 2015
Michigan 7, Niagra 3
UM 1 NIA 0 EV 07:05 Connor (4) from Piazza (1) & Nieves (2)
Boo Nieves has the puck behind the net. He reverses course to avoid a defender, but still ends up getting hit. As he’s hit he tries to backhand a centering pass to the netfront skater, but the pass is deflected out to Sam Piazza.
Piazza’s initial shot is into a mass of bodies, but the puck takes a fortunate bounce and slides back to him.
Piazza’s defender is closing in, and he does a really nice job of reading the ice in a split second. He sees Kyle Connor open at the side of the net and a big passing lane through the crease.
Connor is a supremely talented player. (To that point: the pass was a little long, so Connor had to gather while gliding backwards, sapping a lot of what he could put on the shot). The near side of the net is supremely open. This is called goal-by-goal analysis. I think you know what happened.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the goals]
Chaos reigned. Michigan survived.
Indiana did as Indiana does, combining terrible defense with terrifying offense to push the Wolverines to the brink. Jordan Howard ran over, around, and through a shorthanded Michigan defense, gaining 238 yards on 35 carries. With the game in the balance and the ball at the two, however, Kevin Wilson called for a quick pass to Mitchell Paige; Delano Hill swatted the ball away to seal the win.
With Ryan Glasgow's absence disturbingly noticable, the offense and defense switched roles. Michigan couldn't rely on their front seven to slow Howard, while Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld played an efficient, turnover-free game; that was enough to produce 527 yards on 5.7 yards per play.
For the first time this season, however, Michigan could rely on their deep passing game. Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson were brilliant. Rudock set a school record with six passing touchdowns—the previous record was four—and surpassed the career high he set last week with 440 yards on 46 attempts. He also led the way on the ground with 64 yards on seven carries, picking up timely first downs by breaking free of the pocket. Chesson tied the program record by hauling in four of Rudock's touchdowns, including a leaping grab in traffic to knot the score with two seconds left in regulation, and he set personal bests with ten catches for 207 yards.
It appared Michigan might coast to a comfortable, if not particularly convincing, victory as the Hoosiers traded field goals for Wolverine touchdowns in the first half. Rudock hit Chesson over the top for a 34-yard score on a free play to open the scoring; Michigan would hold leads of 14-6 and 21-9 after Chesson's subsequent first-half TDs before Howard finally broke through for a seven-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half. Even then, Michigan responded, marching 71 yards to the Indiana four before settling for a Kenny Allen field goal as time expired.
Perhaps there was some comfort in a 24-16 lead, but any such feelings were gone almost as soon as the second half began; after knocking Michigan back 15 yards, Indiana closed to within a point on a 51-yard punt return touchdown by Paige, who strung his return out to the right before knifing through a tackle and finding the sideline. After Scott Sypniewski's snap hit the turf, causing a Kenny Allen field goal attempt to fall well short, IU closed the quarter with a Griffin Oakes field goal and an interception of Rudock on one of his few wayward throws.
The tables fully turned in the fourth quarter, when Michigan could muster only a field goal after a 15-play drive and the Hoosiers hit back with a 24-yard Howard TD and subsequent two-point conversion. With 2:52 left, Michigan had to drive 66 yards to avoid an upset that would all but eliminate them from division title contention.
Rudock didn't shy away from the moment, moving the offense down the field in a hurry with two completions to Jake Butt and a 41-yard bomb that Chesson came back for and caught at the two. After some harrowing moments as the Wolverines moved backwards, Chesson high-pointed Rudock's toss to bring Michigan within a point, and Blake O'Neill handled another sketchy snap just well enough for Allen to slip the tying extra point inside the left upright.
Howard continued his dominance in the first overtime, gaining 18 of Indiana's 25 yards and punching in the go-ahead touchdown. It took Michigan all of three plays to not only tie the game, but take the lead; first Rudock hit Butt on a post on the second play of M's first overtime possession, then found Amara Darboh uncovered on the first snap of the second overtime for an easy touchdown.
Three Howard runs quickly set IU up with a third-and-goal from the five, and it seemed certain they would bash ahead once or twice more and extend the game. Instead, Hill stopped Sudfeld short on a zone read keeper, and after Indiana showed pass prior to the next snap, Harbaugh called timeout to set up the final play. Paige motioned across the formation and Sudfeld hit him in rhythm, but Hill's blanket coverage won out.
Michigan survived the chaos and remains alive in the Big Ten race; they can control their own destiny if they beat Penn State and Ohio State takes cares of Michigan State next weekend. After an up-and-down first half of the year, the offense is hitting its stride, albeit with help from the generous Rutgers and Indiana defenses they've faced the last two weeks.
Glasgow's injury looms large, however. Jim Harbaugh announced after the game that the pectoral injury suffered last week will keep Michigan's D-line linchpin out for the season. Michigan faces a pair of top-notch running backs the next to close the regular season in Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, to say nothing of the other weapons on Ohio State's offense. The line, the unquestioned strength of the team until this week, now has to stiffen up if the Wolverines want a shot at that ever-elusive Big Ten title.
I don't know what Heiko is talking about either –ed
By Heiko Yang
Having Indiana on the schedule is a lot like having the Goosebumps books on your third-grade teacher’s bookshelf. They’re frequently entertaining and occasionally good for a cheap scare, but you’re pretty sure there’s nothing there that would cause any kind of lasting damage.
True to form, all season long Indiana has played out the recurring plot where they threaten to upset good teams late in the fourth quarter only to blow it by abruptly returning to ineptitude. It’s like that time Goku and Vegeta fuse to beat the evil dragon but then run out of time just as they’re about to deal the final kamehameha.
Against Michigan, though, I have a bad feeling. I guess I usually have a bad feeling about Michigan games, but I’ve been feeling pretty leery about this particular game for some time. I don’t know why Vegas has such a lopsided line favoring Michigan by almost two touchdowns. On the road this season Michigan hasn’t scored more than four touchdowns total. Meanwhile, Indiana has been averaging just a point shy of that in each their losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa. My feelingsball take is I don’t expect Michigan to run away with this one unless something bizarre happens. Speaking of, I’m going to go ahead and say that neither their 29-7 loss to Penn State nor their 55-52 loss to Rutgers makes any sense to me, but then again I didn’t watch either of those games because I don’t hate myself.
But what about Michigan’s shut-down secondary vs Indiana’s pass offense? Or Harbaugh’s fancy manball offense vs their flimsy front?
These matchup advantages don’t seem to make much of a difference as often as we hope, especially against competent coaches, which I think Indiana has. Underdogs can benefit from known mismatches, too. Similar to the way the Indiana basketball team knew two years ago to put a point guard on Nik Stauskas, there are ways the Hoosiers football staff can game plan around Michigan’s strengths to force the Wolverines into making difficult compromises in their own game plan.
I’m also not giving Indiana enough credit here. They’ve got offensive playmakers Michigan certainly has to account for, and their spread attack is more sophisticated than anything the Wolverines D has seen all season. Additionally, their defensive weaknesses don’t seem quite on a Rutgers level of incompetence (although they did lose to Rutgers, because football is complicated).
Michigan will probably struggle out of the gate, and an empty possession on offense paired with a quick strike from Indiana would be doom for a team that relies on maintaining early momentum. The Wolverines will need a lot of luck to avoid falling into this kind of hole; I just don’t know if they’ll find that in Bloomington.
Michigan 27, Indiana 30
By Nick RoUMel
Heiko has tried mightily. Giddy from reading Goosebumps, he has nearly convinced himself that today’s contest will actually resemble a football game. I suspect there were fits of giggles as he wrote his column, solemnly analyzing the matchup as if there were something to worry about.
There is not. Not ever. Michigan is 54-9 lifetime against Indiana. They have not lost in 28 years, when they fell to an 8-4 Hoosier squad that also crushed #9 Ohio State and featured the durable and dangerous Anthony Thompson at tailback. Since then it has been all Michigan. I mean, even RichRod and B-Ho beat Indiana, although the 2009 game saw the Hoosiers score the most points they ever had against a Michigan team, 33. That record stood until 2010, when the stalwart RichRod defense gave up 35, a record that would be unbroken until the very next time Indiana played Michigan, in 2013, when B-Ho’s disciplined D held them to 47 points and a mere 572 yards of offense.
It is actually quite telling that other than the 1987 game - the only one Indiana has won in the last 48 years - their most memorable battle was the 1979 homecoming contest in Ann Arbor, when they were coached by Lee Corso who had the audacity to believe he could play toe to toe with the Wolverines. That he did, until the final play of the game, when Johnny Wangler hit Anthony Carter on a 45 yard touchdown pass that had Bob Ufer going ape-s*** crazy in the broadcast booth. The clip is de rigueur every time Michigan plays Indiana:
(Did you know that the horn Ufer beeped so happily was actually from General Patton’s World War II jeep? A fact I did not know until writing this column.)
Does anyone really think that these 2015, Harbaugh-led Wolverines are going to let Indiana even come close to sniffing victory, like a skanky perfume sample in the middle of a magazine is supposed to make you fantasize about a date with somebody like Vera Farmiga?
I think not. Outside of a few random Nate Sudfeld passes, Indiana will be lucky to sniff its own armpit. Their evening is going to be about as fulfilling as Tom Waits taking himself out on a date, as he describes so forlornly in “Better Off Without A Wife:”
Yes Wolverine fans, hit the easy button. This one’s in the bag.
MICHIGAN 56, INDIANA 10
Aubrey Dawkins: still bouncy
In the regular-season opener, Michigan made easy work of D-II Northern Michigan, taking a ten-point lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open in the second half. Since a traditional recap would still read "blowout" and not much else, I'll go with another list of observations.
While the competition remained easy, we learned a little more about the likely rotation in this one. Michigan started the same group as they did against Le Moyne: Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Mark Donnal. While Donnal got the start, however, he played fewer minutes (10) than Ricky Doyle (15), and DJ Wilson saw his first live action at the five.
To keep it simple, Donnal looked like Donnal, Doyle looked like Doyle, and Wilson looked viable in the middle—arguably more comfortable there than at the four, where he also saw extensive minutes. Wilson's athleticism made it easy for him to hedge on screens and get back on his man, he's got a rudimentary but functional post game, and he passed well from the top of the—he tallied three assists and only a foul on Dawkins at the hoop prevented a fourth.
If tonight was any indication, I think Wilson has a great shot at being the backup five before too long.
Moritz Wagner will not redshirt this year. He checked in with around six minutes to play. He looks to be behind Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson in the pecking order at center, but this is clearly a move being made with an eye on the end of the season. While Wagner looked lost at times out there and struggled with his post defense, his potential was apparent—his length contributed to a tip-in for his first career points and a late three-point attempt barely rimmed out. He probably won't play much early in the season, but I wouldn't be shocked if he developed into a contributor for the stretch run.
Aubrey Dawkins bounced back from an underwhelming game against Le Moyne with an impressive, efficient outing: 15 points on 6/7 shots, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and three dunks, including the insane tip-slam at the top of this post and this alley-oop finish from Walton:
Not only did Dawkins hit 2/3 triples and use his cutting ability to create easy points like he did as a freshman, he also showed off a new wrinkle, hitting a one-handed floater off the dribble at the free-throw line in the first half. He's still a work-in-progress on defense, especially when it comes to fighting through screens, but there's no questioning his ability on the other end.
Duncan Robinson, meanwhile, came back to earth, missing his only shot attempt—which Dawkins would finish with authority—and getting pulled in the second half for missing defensive assignments. He played both the three and the four and was active on the glass, but he'll need to get better with his rotations or he'll max out at the 15 minutes he got tonight.
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good! LeVert had the superior game tonight, posting a stat line of 18-4-5 on 7/12 shooting with two steals. The offense mostly ran through him when he was on the floor; he had three consecutive assists during one second-half stretch, and he seems to be looking for the dish a little more.
While Walton had a quiet game statistically—four points on four shots, one assist, one steal—he was the primary driver of Michigan's 14 transition points; when he's on the floor, the Wolverines are looking to run, and with their athleticism on the wings (and at center when Wilson is there) that's a good plan. Walton had some hockey assists that don't show up in the box score. I'd like to see him be more assertive in halfcourt sets but with LeVert taking on a big role as a passer/ballhandler that's a minor gripe.
- Chatman looked more comfortable out there. His six points on seven shots isn't great, but he had two layups off sharp backdoor cuts, pulled down four boards, and used his length to affect passing lanes against an undersized NMU squad.
- Spike is a little limited but that didn't stop him from jumping passing lanes—scoring a reverse layup off one steal—and passing out three dimes. He got to the hoop more than you'd expect, too, though that probably has a lot to do with the competition.
- Rahkman still has a place in the rotation. He played 14 minutes, knocked down a corner three, and had a nice lefty finish on a hard drive to the hoop. While his shot is still coming along (2/5 FG), he remains one of the best on the team at attacking the rim.
Previously: Hoops Preview Podcast, MGoRadio 1.6 (wsg John Gasaway), Point Guards (Walton, Spike), Wings Part I (LeVert, Dawkins, Irvin), Wings Part II (MAAR, Chatman, Robinson, Wagner), Bigs (Doyle, Donnal, Wilson), Hoopsageddon.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN PREVIEW
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Northern Michigan|
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Friday|
|LINE||No line (100% WP on KenPom)|
BTN Plus (online stream only, $)
BTN will replay it at 11:30 pm Sunday
Right: Willy the Wildcat could use some time at Camp Sanderson. (via)
Before getting to this season's story, there's a game tonight that should look quite a bit like last week's exhibition. Like Le Moyne, Northern Michigan is a D-II team, and not a particularly good one at that—the Wildcats went 9-19 last season and were picked dead last by some margin in the preseason GLIAC coaches poll.
The Wildcats boast a couple solid outside shooters in guards Jordan Perez and Marcus Hall, but the lineup shouldn't pose much of a threat to Michigan. NMU has one player on the roster taller than 6'7", and he's a 6'10", 200-pound freshman. KenPom gives Michigan a 100% win probability.
On the Wolverines side of things, Zak Irvin will sit out this game because of his back injury; John Beilein said yesterday that while he's healthy he's not back in game shape. Spike Albrecht is still limited from his offseason hip surgeries and will play only spot minutes. The main focus of Michigan fans will be how the rotation shapes up:
- Will Kam Chatman or DJ Wilson look like the superior option at the four?
- Is Mark Donnal really the starting center or is this just like last year?
- Will Moritz Wagner get time, therefore burning his redshirt? Or will Wilson see some time at the five?
- How will MAAR find his way onto the court with Duncan Robinson providing such a quality scoring option off the bench?
Those questions won't all be answered in full tonight, but we should have more of an idea of how this team will look.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE STORY, which is really a health update with a hopefully-not-awkward tie-in to this year's basketball team.]