In a game Michigan controlled from the outset, the John Beilein's Wolverines defeated Patrick Beilein's Le Moyne Dolphins, 74-52, in the exhibition tune-up before the season tips off for real a week from tonight. Caris LeVert led all scorers with 22 points on 17 shots; Duncan Robinson came off the bench for 15, hitting three of his six three-pointers, and Derrick Walton added 13 on seven shot equivalents.
Some scattered thoughts from the game:
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good. There's not too much more to say here except that both looked fully healthy. LeVert's ability to create his own offense outside the arc bailed out some stagnant possessions. Walton is back to his normal self; he had a couple strong takes to the hoop in transition and knocked down a pull-up jumper off a late-clock drive—these were the shots he couldn't get last year because of his injury.
Mark Donnal got the start at center, but he still doesn't look like Michigan's best big man. While Donnal hit three of his five shots, the two misses were layups—not a great sign against a woefully undersized opponent. He affected some shots at the rim but still looked a step slow on defense.
Ricky Doyle only played 12 minutes; I don't think that's a reflection of the pecking order as much as Beilein wanting to see what he has in Donnal and Moe Wagner, who played most of his 11 minutes at the five. Doyle looked much like he did last year, scoring on his lone post-up opportunity and grabbing five boards while allowing a couple other rebound chances to find their way to Le Moyne. Wagner was active but a little lost out there, which doesn't come as a huge surprise; he did look like he could contribute this season in a pinch.
Michigan really missed Zak Irvin, who sat out the game with a back injury that shouldn't affect his availability during the season. With Irvin out of the lineup, Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson played most of the minutes at the four, and their inability to hit the outside shot—a combined 0/6, with Aubrey Dawkins also missing his four attempts from beyond the arc—limited the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan couldn't get much pick-and-roll offense going and mostly scored with one-on-one takes and off-ball movement; not having Irvin to spread the floor constricted some space to operate in the paint.
Chatman's scoring output remains frustrating, especially since he can do other things well; he's a good passer an one of the team's more reliable rebounders. If he can't put the ball in the bucket, though, he'll cede minutes to someone else; he's not strong enough as a perimeter defender to justify getting minutes otherwise.
Wilson is an interesting case. He runs the floor really well—he's a weapon in transition—and he alters shots at the rim, but he doesn't look totally comfortable with his outside shot and he got blown by on the perimeter for a couple layups. He hit a face-up jumper on a post-up and may be better suited for the five, especially if Donnal struggles.
Duncan Robinson is going to pose major problems to opposing defenses. He looked great shooting the ball, as expected, hitting 3/6 triples. Encouragingly, he also hit 3/4 two-pointers, with much of that offense set up by him making nice off-ball cuts. He had an up-and-down game defensively playing primarily the three, but he's going to get a lot of time regardless.
Aubrey Dawkins had an off night on both ends. I'm not concerned at all about his offense—we know he'll be fine on that end. The more concerning stuff came on defense; he got pulled a couple times for Robinson when he ran right into screens and gave up open outside shots. Perimeter defense is a work-in-progress on a team-wide basis; Le Moyne got off 28 three-pointers and many of those were solid looks.
For an exhibition game in which the team was missing a critical starter and trying out a ton of different lineups, this went fine. The offense should function much better with Irvin on the court, Robinson looks as advertised as an offensive weapon, and the two stars who played looked like their old selves tonight.
Before this season, some betting site was looking for someone in Michigan media to take/write-up the under on 7.5 wins, and got me to bite. I figured falling short of 4-3 versus @Utah, BYU, MSU, OSU, @PSU, @Maryland and @Minnesota was foreseeable, since bad things do happen, and whatever deity was in charge of whom they happen to was the George Lucas of gods.
The George Lucas God of Football creates an amazing thing that you will buy into, then turns it on you because he misunderstands what made his original, authentic creation so awesome, and he is immune to being told otherwise.
The George Lucas God is gone, his opus now in the hands of one of its earliest and geekiest fans. You know this geek has been quite successful—like he turned Stanford Trek into a good movie, before turning around the Mission Impossible franchise. You know he was left plenty to work with. You see trailers that confirm this could not suck. When do you believe again?
There's just a 2.1% chance my 7-win prediction comes true. There's a much higher chance this one could be as good as 1969's A New Hope. I still can't get myself to believe, but the numbers are there. There's even a scenario where…
[After the JUMP: a thing Rutgers is good at]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam regales us with his marital advice, which is very good marital advice that everyone should emulate.
- We eventually talk about football. Ed lords it over us that he thought this game would be tight, and I reject him wholeheartedly.
- Rutgers! Not good.
- A little basketball scrimmage talk stuck in at the end there.
THE USUAL LINKS
|WHAT||Rutgers at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||3:30 PM Eastern
November 7th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –24.5|
|PARKING||Limited availability from $20|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, 0% chance of rain, 50s dropping to 40s|
Should have saved grumpy cat for this week.
Parking note sponsored by Park 'n' Party, which is your fancy same-place-all-the-time tailgate headquarters. They tell me they're now expanding into catering and equipment so they can accommodate all levels of commitment. They also say that if you wait you will not get parking and then you will
wander the earth doomed for all time have to explain this to your spouse. Seriously, they sold out for MSU and OSU is on the way.
Rutgers isn't good at football. Nor are they good at cloak and dagger attempts to raise a player's grades, keeping that player and several others from committing a series of robberies, recruiting, basketball, public relations, and most other things.
Playing Rutgers is an opportunity to reflect on the pure hypocrisy of not paying the players when people like Jim Delany have done everything in their power to make slightly more money, which generally goes to Jim Delany and people like him.
Run Offense vs Rutgers
Steve Longa is a prime tacklist for Rutgers
Michigan has really struggled in this department thanks to a confluence of factors. With literally no downfield passing game, safeties sit just behind the linebackers. In their first year in a new system—and for a few people a new position—Michigan commits too many mental errors in blocking for efficiency. The tailbacks get only what is blocked and sometimes a good deal less than that.
Add it up and it is very bleah when a wide receiver isn't loping downfield virtually uncontested. Surprisingly, that's happened enough that Michigan has shiny number in the fancy stats—26th. That makes little sense when all of their peripheral factors are average at best, but here we are. One thing they have going for them: they've actually played a lot of good to very good rush defenses.
Rutgers is not that. In Rutgers they find the most pliant rushing defense they've run across since UNLV. The Cable Subscribers lost star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton for the year, and the floodgates opened:
- Penn State: 41 rushes, 330 yards
- Michigan State: 37 rushes, 122 yards
- Indiana: 34 rushes, 163 yards
- Ohio State: 49 rushes, 281 yards
- Wisconsin: 38 rushes, 209 yards
With the exception of Michigan State's rickety OL all teams not named Norfolk State and Kansas have sandblasted the Rutgers rush D, which is 108th in S&P+.
Rutgers is seriously undersized, with only one guy approaching 300 pounds on the DL. With three freshmen starting in the secondary when a rush gets to them they blow it a lot. Rutgers does a ton of slanting and shifting and blitzing in an effort to conceal their inability to stand up to the opposition, and that is reasonably effective—they stuff a lot of plays. Linebacker Quentin Gause has 9 TFLs; guy Seth always drafts in Draftageddon Steve Longa has 4. It's just what happens once the opposition gets past the first wave that alarms.
Michigan figures to let 'er rip on Drake Johnson this week after he got yards while the other guys did not, but De'Veon Smith and others will also feature. With Rutgers one of those aggressive gap-shooting defenses expect a return of the misdirection and trapping that were largely shelved against Minnesota's read and react unit.
This probably won't be great because Michigan's problems are frequently opponent invariant, but so are Rutgers's. Michigan should bust some 15-20 yarders and have an encouragingly productive day.
KEY MATCHUP: DRAKE JOHNSON versus LET'S SEE IF DRAKE JOHNSON IS THE FEATURE BACK
[Hit THE JUMP for WHEN YOUR SECONDARY GETS ARRESTED YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME]
The last walkoff goal line stand. Via Wolverine Historian, Illinois 1982:
Health bits. Rudock should play Saturday. Smith's having issues, he will continue to have issues, he has an injury you can play through but always hurts and won't stop hurting until the offseason.
Excellent, responsive, transparent. The athletic department surveyed 4,500 season ticket holders and is releasing that information over the next couple weeks. I love that. It shows the department is listening to fans and allowing us to talk about the data they gathered in public. That is something I've wanted them to do for a long time. So:
Question 4: Did you enjoy the balance of piped-in music and band during the game (not including pregame or halftime)?
• It was a perfect balance (43%)
• Would prefer a lot more band, a lot less piped-in music (20%)
• Would prefer a little more band, a little less piped-in music (28%)
• Would prefer a little more piped-in music, a little less band (6%)
• Would prefer a lot more piped-in music, a lot less band (1%)
• Didn't care (3%)
That's about a 50/50 split between people who think the music is fine and those who want it toned down. (I am obviously in the 20% group.)
I'm disappointed with this answer:
Question 3: How would you rate the overall video board presentation (highlight videos, replays, prompts, information, etc.)?
• Excellent (49%)
• Good (44%)
• Fair (6%)
• Poor (1%)
Alas! Have I not yelled about pore-o-vision sufficiently to move the mass of public opinion?
I'll say this much for Dave Brandon. He didn't land Michigan in a congressional report about how many of the military patriotism events at sport events are bought and paid for. The NFL, of course, is the biggest offender here, but Wisconsin, Indiana, and Purdue are the college programs that managed to show up. In those teams' case they seem to be selling a bunch of game tickets to their local National Guard units, which 1) is not a good use of taxpayer dollars and 2) in the case of Indiana-Purdue football is just not nice to our military reservists.
But mostly it's just NFL teams taking millions of dollars to pretend like they care about anything other than millions of dollars. Which is the best! It is infinite NFL.
Speaking of things we aren't getting paid for. Flyover this weekend:
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) November 5, 2015
The answer is "most deserving." Chris Brown asks what the goal of playoff rankings should be:
What criteria should we use to determine who gets the title?
One answer is that the champion should be the season’s “best team,” possibly defined as the best overall team or the team we think would be favored to beat every other team on a neutral field. Another answer is the “most deserving team,” loosely defined as the team that produced the best overall season. These two things are not always the same. It’s perfectly possible for the best team — i.e., the most formidable — to lose a close game or even two on a bad kick or a fluke play, while another team runs the table by winning close games.
Alabama lost a game to Ole Miss in which they had an avalanche of fluky turnovers and this happen to them:
That doesn't really impact my opinion about how good Alabama is. I think they're better than Ole Miss, probably a lot better. But that is just, like, my opinion, man. Once you start talking about "best" because team X has fancy S&P stats or a bunch of NFL first rounders you lose the reason we even play the damn fluky thing that is football. You play to win the game. Bama didn't win.
Now, in a sport like college football you can't just add up wins and losses and call it a day. Schedules are imbalanced and short. Style points have to come into play because a lot of teams will have similar records. A 58-0 blowout of a team should matter more than a 21-20 win. But once you start looking at the why you start eroding the fundamental reason I should care about, say, a one in a million punt drop disaster.
Moving the game to a Vegas-style "eh, don't care about results" model is not good for the sport and is fundamentally a guess that football keeps proving us wrong about, and thus we should dump why and how from playoff rankings in favor of a deeply researched take on what.
I demand a Drake Johnson television show. He killed it at his press availability oh and also
@DRAKEington So does this mean you can Fus Roh Dah opposing linebackers?
— Helios Eusebio (@MGoPhoenix) November 3, 2015
Skyrim bartering is bad but I'll allow it.
On that one site with all the liars. Hey. So Chatsports just lies about things, all the time, in search of traffic. Don't pay attention to them. This was Georgia QB commit Jacob Eason's dad in the aftermath of another Chatsports fiction piece:
The “story” that came out yesterday about him contacting multiple schools really struck a nerve.
Tony Eason called me on Wednesday morning and he was not happy about it.
“Who the h$#** is Marc F&%*% and where did he get that Bull Sh$%$# story at?”
Marc Furballson is the updated nom de plume of Ace Williams. If you post a chatsports link to the message board we will delete all your points. AND THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO
They won't listen. Mike Freeman on Harbaugh availability:
I asked one general manager about Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL. His response: "He's going to have at least six teams come after him. He'd be able to have any open job he wants." The GM didn't name the teams, but it's not hard to figure out who some of them will be.
Then, the general manager said some NFL teams have already reached out to Harbaugh's camp to see if he'd be available once the season ends. Those teams, the GM explained, weren't told just "no." They were basically told "no freaking way."
Harbaugh isn't going anywhere.
Not that you needed to be told that.
I get it. Bruce Feldman on the Minnesota job:
Hearing more & more this week that there is a lot of key support for interim HC Tracy Claeys is keep the #Minnesota job full-time.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 5, 2015
For one, they don't even have an AD right now. Getting a new coach without a permanent AD is going to be very hard unless you have a Harbaugh; Minnesota doesn't. For two, cheap. For three, this is not a job market Minnesota particularly wants to be in, and you can make a long-term decision on Claeys after a year or two since there should be staff continuity.
Heavier now. MVictors went back and found the average weight of Michigan's starters since the beginning. After a plateau to start weights have crept upwards at a near-constant rate for around 100 years:
Things have leveled off a little bit since the 1990s.
Etc.: Rainman previewed. Dylan Larkin is good at hockey /weeps about last season. Exit Frank Beamer, real good dude. Bill Daley remembered. Rutgers blog is doing a 68-coach bracket to determine who their next dude should be and John Baxter makes a play-in game. Spike profiled. Blake O'Neill and a small child. More of a medium child, actually.
Nebraska's athletic director is… working on extension? That's one way to approach things. Things are going down at Georgia. Chaos there helps Michigan with Isaac Nauta and Mecole Hardman. OSU/M tickets next year will be expensive, still under demand.
Previously: Rutgers Offense
Derrick Green ran for 6.2 YPC against a better Rutgers defense in 2014. [Adam Glanzman/MGoBlog]
While Rutgers' offense will have the team's most important absence if Leonte Carroo can't suit up Saturday, the defense has also been weakened by injury and general Rutgersing. NFL-quality DT Darius Hamilton, already playing out of position at the nose on an undersized line, is out for the year with a lower-body injury. The entire starting secondary turned over due to graduation and significant legal issues.
An undermanned Rutgers defense is about as good as you'd expect; they rank 114th or worse in three of Bill Connelly's four factors on that side of the ball. Wisconsin tore them up for 6.5 yards per play and 48 points despite an iffy performance from Joel Stave.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Three returning starters are concentrated in the front seven.
Base Set? 4-3 under for the most part, though they'll also play an over front. On passing downs they often go to an aggressive six- or seven-man front:
They tend to blitz out of that look.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]