This would not go over well.
After the injury to Ryan Glasgow Michigan has struggled to stop zone running. Indiana and Penn State tore the defense to shreds on stretch or outside zone, until Penn State decided the thing that got them two huge gains in three attempts wasn't worth using again (please keep James Franklin forever kthx). I drew that up last week and found Michigan was still trying to defend runs by shooting the DL upfield and dominating one-on-one matchups up front, as opposed to soundly preventing guards from releasing onto the linebackers.
With Urban Meyer, one of a few true masters of modern running attacks, doing the planning for the Game, we knew Michigan's defensive coaches would have to pull something out of our butts to stop it. Here's what we found in our butts:
Michigan broke out a 3-3-5 defense with an "even" front. Offensive coaches have different names for fronts but the basics are:
- Under: NT on the center, shaded to strong. DT on a guard. (aka Weak, 50)
- Over: NT on the center, shaded to weak. DT on a guard. (aka Strong)
- Even: DL are lined up over guards, none over the center. (aka Split)
- Okie: Center is covered, guards are not. (aka 30)
- Bear: Center and guards all covered. (aka 46, Eagle, Double Eagle)
These can be split into "Odd" (under/over) and "Even" (Even, Okie, Bear). It is usual for just about any defense to come out in multiple fronts over the course of a game, though Bear and Okie are more rare than the other three.
Anyway that's what that means. By putting guys over the guards it makes it tougher for them to release to the next level. Michigan State used to love their even fronts back when Bullough was their best run defender, and that tells you something about the design of this defense. Tweaking your defense is about making life hard on your better players so things are easier for the rest of your players. "Even" makes life hard on the MLB, since that center is getting a free release unto him.
There's nothing 100% unsound about this defense. Depending on the offense's play, one LB is likely to get a center on him but the other is often a free hitter. If your LB eating the block is good at beating those consistently, or your free hitter is a ninja who sniffs out the play and attacks ferociously, or your unblocked guy is coached to play aggressively against an option you can defeat a basic run play regularly.
[After the JUMP, we totally can't]
Michigan has just five consequential dates on the non-conference schedule (barring a significant upset loss): Xavier, UConn, Texas, North Carolina State, and SMU. With tonight’s win on the road – the first true road contest for the Wolverines this season – Michiganpulls its record to 2-2 in those big non-conference games with a chance to make that a winning record at SMU.
The Wolfpack have largely disappointed so far this season (currently ranked 63 in Kenpom, down from 41 pre-season), but most of their short rotation of players was present for the NCAA tournament upset over one-seed Villanova and Sweet 16 run last season. Beating that without Walton for a half is more than something.
It’s apparent that the team has responded well from its two early losses; the Wolverines controlled the game against Texas and built on that performance with what could theoretically wind up as one of its best road wins of the season in Raleigh against NCSU.
Both teams struggled to find their shot from the field early on; Derrick Walton was important in keeping Michigan’s offense afloat as they settled in. After about the ten-minute mark of the first half, U-M went on to outscore NCSU by a 27-15 margin – 3 three-pointers by Duncan Robinson in quick succession and a few nifty Moritz Wagner buckets keyed one of Michigan’s best offensive stretches of the early season.
An injury to Walton thankfully doesn’t appear to be too serious but Michigan certainly missed his presence in the second half. The Wolverines extended that lead to 15 with 14 minutes remaining, but NCSU was able to finally exert its size advantage inside and chip away at the lead. Nine points from Caleb Martin helped cut that to 50-46 at the under-eight timeout.
Much like in the Texas game, two assists from Caris LeVert on consecutive possessions to set up threes from Robinson and Zak Irvin helped put the lead into a much more comfortable margin. Again, it was LeVert making plays with the ball in his hands down the stretch to preserve a Michigan win.
* * *
In Michigan’s games against quality opponents, tonight’s win over NCSU stands out on the defensive side of the floor. In its first three contests against Xavier, UConn, and Texas, the Wolverines ceded 1.25, 1.14, and 1.16 points per possession. Tonight, it was just 0.96. Part – well, most – of that was due to frigid shooting from the Wolfpack (15-41 on two-point field goal attempts and 4-17 on threes); the only thing keeping them in the game was 16-18 free throw shooting from NCSU players other than BeeJay Anya.
Michigan didn’t turn in one of its best offensive performances. Perhaps if Derrick Walton hadn’t have gotten injured it would have been, but a characteristically “Beilein” offensive profile carried M to a victory anyways. The Wolverines virtually ignored the offensive glass, avoided turning the ball over, and won the game with their field goal percentage.
This game was unique in that Michigan didn’t exactly shoot the ball well from three (7-20 as a team), but absolutely eviscerated the NCSU defense for easy two-point looks, mostly around the rim, that led to 61% shooting from two. After the Xavier and UConn games, it seemed as if Michigan was far from asserting its identity in games; it turns out that significantly easier (but still fairly decent) competition was all that U-M needed.
Caris LeVert is playing at an All-American level right now: a combined 34 points + rebounds + assists is a testament to his all around ability. It wasn’t a great scoring night for Caris but he made plenty of impact elsewhere – his vision (as well as Zak Irvin’s) made up for the loss for Michigan’s starting point guard and LeVert’s activity on the defensive glass was a nice adaptation in the wake of Walton’s injury. Late free throws helped inflate his point total, but the performance hit expectations for this season.
Irivin's cold shooting continued (he was 1/7 from three and 2/5 from two), as he, LeVert, Wagner and MAAR combined to go just 2-13 from three. Robinson salvaged the night by hitting five of seven. He is now 20-33 (61%) from three on the season and well on his way to that insane promise of 50%.
As for North Carolina State’s personnel, Caleb Martin and Cat Barber combined for 35 of NC State’s 59 points. Two of their three big men – Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman – combined for just two points. Credit should go to Michigan’s inexperienced bigs for erasing bigger, older counterparts in a matchup that didn’t look great on paper.
It’s clear that Spike’s not completely healthy after two off-season surgeries. He was thrown into the mix when Walton went down against NCSU, but might not be a part of the three guard rotation moving forward. Right now, Michigan’s rotation tentatively looks like:
- GUARDS: Walton, LeVert (Abdur-Rahkman as #3)
- WINGS: 2 of 3 among Irvin, Robinson, Dawkins
- BIGS: Doyle, then Wagner, then Wilson (perhaps only if needed?)
Ricky Doyle was perhaps better defensively than Wagner tonight – Moritz may be the more appealing long-term option and showed some more flashes (including a quick spin from the high-post into a one-dribble dunk that just roasted BeeJay Anya).
Even with a core player out, Michigan was able to escape Raleigh with a win. LeVert stepped up in the second half and Irvin, who still hasn’t been shooting well, managed to create some offense for others regardless. They're a long way from a deep tournament run right now, but they can put away a bubble team on a bad shooting night on the road.
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Ohio State Recap
Gimmicky Top Five: 2016 No-QB X-Factors
A generic top five but one that points towards the future instead of dwelling on the past. QB is excluded as too obvious.
"Inside The Crooked Blue Line" With 247's Steve Lorenz
Fallout from the big recruit weekend. Also Fallout 4. Stick to sports.
Atlantis: why. Rotation: huh. Robinson: gives and gives and gives and takes and takes and takes.
THE USUAL LINKS
Michigan (4-2) at
NC State (4-2)
Raleigh, North Carolina
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||NC State -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Mike Patrick
Analyst: Len Elmore
Right: "Mini mascot and cheerleader" circa 1970s.
After the ACC won the first ten ACC/B1G Challenge titles, the Big Ten has won four of the last six, and the other two were ties. This year, however, KenPom says there's a high likelihood the ACC flips the challenge back in their favor:
I ran a Monte Carlo simulation using the current ratings and not surprisingly, the ACC is a heavy favorite to emerge victorious. There’s a 63% chance the ACC wins at least eight games and just an 18% chance the Big Ten wins at least eight.
There's a better chance of a 7-7 tie (19%) than an outright B1G win. Despite being on the road, Michigan has one of the more winnable games of the challenge, which stands at 1-1 after Wake Forest beat Rutgers and Minnesota took down Clemson yesterday.
From Michigan's perspective, tallying a road non-conference win over a decent opponent could be huge come March. If they can't pull it off tonight, they'll get one more chance when they go to SMU next week, but NC State is their best shot.
This should come as little surprise:
At Beilein's pre-NC State press conference. Beilein says that Wagner will be the second big off the bench right now (behind Doyle).
— Kelly Hall (@kellyhall20) November 30, 2015
After seeing how little Spike Albrecht has played so far this season, this may also be unsurprising, but it sure is disconcerting:
Michigan coach John Beilein said Monday that Albrecht, whose return from offseason surgery on both hips has not progressed as hoped, will no longer practice with the Wolverines, instead opting to use that time for continued rehabilitation.
"If we have a choice right now of two hours of therapy at one of the therapy centers here in Ann Arbor or two of practice, it's going to be two therapy — just to do whatever we can to get him ready," Beilein said.
Albrecht is still available to play "spot minutes"; he's clearly well short of 100% and has already ceded a lot of his playing time to Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
It's time to update MGoBlog to the latest version of Drupal. I'm looking for a Drupal developer who is familiar with MGoBlog to create a version of the site in Drupal 8. This is a contract job; if you're interested there would also be an ongoing maintenance aspect as we tweak the site and add bells and whistles.
Requirements are somewhat flexible since Drupal 8 and its contrib constellation are still in flux, but an outline:
- implement a modern responsive theme for the site that we already have mocked up
- implement a Drupal 8 version of the XML RPC module that allows Windows Live Writer to work in 6
- implement as much of the current site functionality as possible given the state of contrib (userpoints not working will be a major issue, for one), adding as contrib fills in
- make sure performance is at least as good and hopefully better than the existing site
- migrate content, taxonomy, diaries, and users, in some form. I am completely happy to leave previous content behind in static pages as long as the URLs remain the same and you can still get to them in some form from the tag pages.
Budget is "I don't know, I've never budgeted something like this." I am expecting something in the five digit range. You will know better than I what is feasible if you're a good candidate. Timeframe is 3-6 months, but is flexible since we are aiming at a moving target. Email me at [email protected] if you're interested.
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 + H-back.
THIS IS THE PRE-BOWL DEBUT OF TEAM 137. Amongst recruits only committed prospects are eligible for the list. We currently believe no one is 51+% to go to the draft early, FWIW, but Lewis, Butt, and Henry are possibilities.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. CB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, So.* [Last time: 1]
Began the year as a one-man screen destroyer and ended it as the top option at a half-dozen spots. M may work him in as a RB more; still assume his primary duties will be on defense, where a little bit of development in coverage will make him a scary all-purpose demon. Adding a half dozen touchdowns of all varieties could propel him to NYC.
2. CB Jourdan Lewis, Sr. [Last time: 2]
All-American set the single-season Michigan PBU record because opponents kept targeting him despite that being a very, very bad idea. Titanic matchup against future NFLers Cook and Burbridge will be remembered by both sides for a long time. Headed for first round of draft; projected to be too small to do so for the next 12 months.
3. LT Mason Cole, Jr. [Last time: 3]
Developed into an A- run blocker and B pass blocker in year two as Michigan's left tackle. Some deficiencies against the top tier pass rushers and will never by NFL prototype. Could move to C if Grant Newsome is as quick a learner as Cole was; 0.0% chance anything save injury pushes him from lineup.
4. FLEX Jake Butt, Sr. [Last time: 6]
Inexplicably not a Mackey finalist despite athleticism, catching radius, and absolutely fantastic hands. Blocking just okay but far from a liability. Seriously how did this guy not win the Mackey? What are you even doing, Mackey? Are you playing Fallout 4 and randomly selecting guys your slacker brother suggests? Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
5. NT Ryan Glasgow, Sr.* [Last time: 13]
Won Order Of St. Kovacs as a sophomore and then turned into a slightly poor man's Mike Martin as a junior before he was hewn down by a shoulder injury. Violent player who added serious pass rush, linchpin of Michigan's rush defense for much of the year, great endurance, if you call him a "former walk-on" he will and should rip your head off.
6. SDE Chris Wormley, Sr* [Last time: 20]
Mega-jumbo defensive end wreckt all tight ends who tried to block him. A key part of Michigan's stunt game and reasonably capable of getting to the QB himself, Wormley matured into an all-around force. Can also play three-tech. As a senior you'd like to see him bring a little bit more organic pass rush to his game but other than that holes are hard to find.
7. 3TECH Willie Henry, Sr.* [Last time: 14]
Bust-out season actually kind of lost in the wash of everyone else's bust-out season on the DL. Pretty much lived up to massive hype from rag-dolling freshman year. Cut a bit too much on stretch plays, occasional inconsistency, but turned potential to production. NFL is listening.
8. WR Jehu Chesson, Sr.* [Last time: 17]
Open deep all year and finally got on the same page with Rudock late for season-ending surge. Fast. Murderous blocker. Jet sweep maestro. Fast. Polite. Fast. Went from Stonum-ish to Breaston-sih to Manningham-ish over course of season. Huge year beckons if QB situation right.
9. WR Amara Darboh, Sr* [Last time: 10]
Nearly lived up to Avant-esque reputation with series of bonkers catches and chain-moving underneath YAC. Hands maybe a tiny bit iffy. Like Chesson, a quality blocker and a WR screen target thanks to his burly tackle-breaking ability. Got more separation than previous years but not really a burner. Very solid option nonetheless.
10. K Kenny Allen, Sr.* [Last time: NR]
Early-season kicker worries dissipated as Allen went 14/18 on the year with one miss due to a bad snap and a second that got blown across the face of the uprights by a sudden gust of wind. Didn't hit anything particularly long, but had a bunch of touchbacks when he wanted to have touchbacks. Another year of reliability beckons.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
11. WDE Taco Charlton, Jr. [Last time: 23]
Charlton flashed potential with 5.5 sacks in limited time a year ago and took over the WDE/buck spot late in the year. With everyone else at that spot graduating, Charlton looks like the easy choice. Could lose PT to Marshall or Rueben Jones, both of whom are closer to the LB/DE hybrid the spot is ideally suited for, but should be potential 10-sack guy.
12. ILB Ben Gedeon, Sr. [Last time: NR]
The only returning LB with non-garbage time defensive snaps to his name and starting MLB by default. "Default" is never a good thing to hear in a depth chart discussion but Gedeon has been serviceable to date and should at least continue producing at that level. Inability to wrest more PT from Bolden does worry.
13. FS Dymonte Thomas, Sr. [Last time: NR]
Lightning bolt finally figured out the direction he should be zipping halfway through the season, displacing Hill after some bumps. Encouraging play after ascension to starter status relieves post-Wilson worries. Competition here is… uh. Tyree Kinnel, and then a bit of a chasm. A crevasse, maybe.
14. SS Delano Hill, Sr. [Last time: 21]
Started season as starter before aforementioned hiccups. Still saw plenty of PT after nominal benching and did better. Severe case of Greg Oden disease means he will look exactly the same age—42—for the next 50 years. Must tackle people when behind them, that's a protip.
15. G Ben Braden, Sr.* [Last time: 26]
People were leery when the tackle-shaped Braden was tried at guard again, and then downright alarmed after Utah's DL put him in the backfield for 60 minutes. Soon after Braden settled down and became M's most consistent lineman behind the two lock starters. Lunging massively reduced. Seemed to know what to do more than others.
16. T Erik Magnuson, Sr*. [Last time: 18]
Middling season as a tackle. Okay at run blocking but occasionally frustrating, especially on the second level. Pass protection generally good but, like Cole, struggled to cope with top-shelf rushers. Not going to be All Big Ten next year; difficult to see anyone supplanting him.
17. G Kyle Kalis, Sr* [Last time: 7]
Sounds like Klingon, plays like… uh… a notoriously confused Star Trek race. Maybe those Darmok guys? Physically powerful and prone to mistakes, Kalis was up and down and up and down. IDed what he was supposed to do too late too often. Probably destined to frustrating what-if player. But if it all comes together clicky clicky etc.
18. FB/H-back Henry Poggi, Jr* [Last time: NR]
2015 headshot of the year winner. Lebowski fan. Frequently retweets people saying he looks like an anthropomorphic thumb. Had slightly confused transition to FB/H-back but demonstrated ability to move people as year went on. Not much of a runner yet and will cede snaps to someone (Shallman?) who is. Sometimes there's a man.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
19. QB John O'Korn, Jr* [Last time: NR]
Houston transfer was platonic opposite of Jake Rudock: huge arm, aggressive, kinda nuts. 3000 yard freshman year devolved into Hackenberg-like frustration and benching. Touted as superior to Rudock in workouts, and for half of 2015 that was very plausible. Competitors are all freshmen or Borges recruits. In Harbaugh We Trust.
20. CB Jeremy Clark, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Skepticism was rife when Richard Sherman-sized safety transitioned to corner but results were rather good. Clark mirrored a ton of routes, had the speed to run deep, and was mostly beaten when his coverage ran afoul of local occult feng shui. Did get burned in zone against MSU, but that's mentality, not ability. Could break out into star. Stribling lurks.
21. TE Khalid Hill, Jr.* [Last time: NR]
Isaiah Hole fan should be first in line to cover the surprisingly painful loss of AJ Williams. PT increased as year went along; reputed to have superior hands for the position; squat but heavy (270), which should help him get under DL who are still bigger than him. Competition for TE snaps will be fierce.
22. OT Grant Newsome, So. [Last time: NR]
Burned redshirt after LTT's dismissal and looked the part of a sun-eclipsing, rush-obliterating NFL left tackle in the mold of Long or Lewan. Even wore 77 to speed those comparisons. Long way from looking like it to being it. Major X-factor for season as sudden emergence into good LT frees up Cole to put out most pressing fire elsewhere.
23. SLOT Grant Perry, So. [Last time: NR]
Freshman thrust into the fray in opener, whereupon he was responsible for two INTs and relegated to spot duty for the rest of the season. Role naturally limited in Harbauffense; did get a bunch of snaps late as M abandoned running the ball. Solid blocker on screens and promises to be a consistent underneath option once he learns what he's doing.
IN A BATTLE
24. RB De'Veon Smith, Jr.* [Last time: 25]
Run at left emblematic of season, as he missed his hole but ran over half of BYU to score anyway. Erratic vision, slow, impossible to tackle, fantastic blocker—Smith is a guy who helps you win football games but maybe not as a feature back. Will be pushed by anyone on the roster, including Peppers, and hopefully #1 RB Kareem Walker.
25. ILB Noah Furbush, So* [Last time: NR]
Linebacker-shaped human with eligibility who saw the field last year so here he is. Had a number of excellent special teams plays. Still needs a pile of weight—listed at a WR-ish 217 on the roster, and looks like it next to Gedeon. Could easily be supplanted by incoming freshman. HEY, POTENTIALLY INCOMING ILB FRESHMEN, READ THIS SECTION.
26. SAM Jared Wangler, So* [Last time: NR]
Marginalized spot in Michigan's defense last year projects to remain so this year, but Michigan does need a guy to go up against manball outfits since they will play Wisconsin and Iowa in 2016. Wangler is a linebacker-shaped human, so here he is. One-time PSU commit, so that's a good sign. Son of John, of course.
27. P TBA, ??? [Last time: NR]
Baxter reputedly in search for an Aussie to be named later. After watching Blake O'Neill delicately feather every punt inside the five I'm down with that as long as this one is clear on what to do if he drops the ball. Kenny Allen, who was a punter before he was kicker, is also an option and is likely to be the fallback plan.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Zach Gentry—rumors of move to TE way overblown. M will take extended look.
QB Wilton Speight—threw winning TD against Minnesota but didn't look like a guy who had a shot at displacing O'Korn. Could transfer.
RB Ty Isaac—doghouse for fumbling and then doghouse for extracurriculars.
RB Drake Johnson—had a moment there, and then it passed. Also dinged up. Could take fifth year elsewhere.
RB Karan Higdon—quick little guy had one nice carry and got swarmed a lot at LOS.
WR Moe Ways—Darboh analogue had a few catches, should be eased into more PT with an eye towards 2017.
WR Drake Harris—temporarily healthy, did little, still really skinny, got hurt again.
TE Ian Bunting—Ol' Skillet Hands saw PT drop as season progressed, but just one year removed from being HS WR so not a surprise.
TE Ty Wheatley Jr.—jumbo TE took redshirt, will try to be AJ-Williams-but-fast.
C Patrick Kugler—will be a redshirt junior; given performance this year could displace starter. Magnuson, Cole flexibility means that if he's best five he plays.
G David Dawson—stuck behind middling Gs a year ago, will get a shot.
NT Bryan Mone—massive space eater missed 2015 with eventually disastrous results
3T Maurice Hurst—fantastic player for most of the year, bad against stretches.
SDE Matt Godin—solid PT early, overwhelmed by doubles late, move him to DE plz.
WDE Reuben Jones—first Harbaugh pickup coming off redshirt.
SAM Allen Gant—exists, so on the two deep at LB.
WLB Mike McCray—mysterious health issue dog him. Exists, so on the two deep at LB.
ILB Chase Winovich—is not a LB, technically, but FFS move him back already.
CB Channing Stribling—maybe 30% of the snaps last year; middling performance.
CB Brandon Watson—saw some nickel snaps when M was trying to save Peppers a bit.
S Tyree Kinnel—burned redshirt indicates he'll compete for the job.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not going to compete physically w/ O'Korn or Gentry but could develop into a Rudock type down the road.
QB Brandon Peters—true freshman will enter with a boatload of hype
QB Shane Morris—will he be on the roster?
FB Wyatt Shallman—now is the time to try his blocking out. Constantly hurt.
WR DaMario Jones—scattered snaps a year ago, got passed by guys younger than him.
WDE Lawrence Marshall—ghost after enormous pile of spring hype.
SDE Shelton Johnson—probably has to cool his heels and put on more weight.
CB Keith Washington—Breaston-esque HS QB competing at CB, coming off redshirt.
CB Freddy Canteen—moved from WR. It could happen?
S Brian Cole—midseason move to S will require at least a year of apprenticeship.