no wonder we hired Hunter Lochmann
|WHAT||Michigan vs Kansas State|
|WHERE||Sun Devil Stadium
|WHEN||10:15 PM Eastern
December 28th, 2013
|THE LINE||Kansas State –5.5|
|WEATHER||Cloudy, 60 dropping to 50, no wind, no rain|
What if they played a bowl game in Arizona that kept moving and changing its name every other year? What if your team was in it? What if it was scheduled to end around 2 AM? I don't know, man. Let's find out.
Run Offense vs Kansas State
Remember Brennan Clay? He is good to have against Kansas State.
With Devin Gardner out, about which more later, this is where Michigan will have to make their hay. The bad news: Michigan's running game. The good news: Kansas State seems like a pretty bad rushing defense. Both of Football Outsiders' advanced stats think they're around 50th overall, which is not good in metrics that try to adjust for schedule strength. The Wildcat rush defense is particularly ugly at around 80th. Neither of these metrics know that NDSU went for 215 yards on 43 carries in the opener, either.
After that, things alternated between bad (177 yards on 40 carries for ULL) to real bad (227 on 47 for Texas) to actually okay (85 on 25 for Oklahoma State, albeit while Okie State was tearing KSU to shreds in the air) to a middling four game stretch before getting annihilated by Oklahoma (301 on 52). They did smother Kansas. Hooray.
Michigan is a rushing offense that could get smothered by anyone, but they have had two decent performances in their last three games and you'd hope that 18 bowl practices would help them figure some things out and get healthy; youth should improve faster than age, and Michigan's featuring almost entirely youth in its rushing core, which features two senior tackles and Fitzgerald Toussaint against, five freshmen (Smith, Green, Butt, Bosch, Kalis) and three sophomores (Glasgow, Kerridge, Williams). The figuring it out thing may be happening, at least to the tune of having something not heart-maulingly awful.
WAIT WHAT MITCH MCGARY WHAT
/rends flesh with hairshirt
Anyway. Kansas State's straight metrics are flattered by the prevalence of spread passing attacks in the Big 12; when they've come up against decent rushing offenses they've been hit hard. Michigan can make a case they've ratcheted themselves up to that level by nearing 200 yards. I have no idea if this is at all in the realm of possibility.
Key Matchup: Seriously, 2013, I hate you.
[Hit THE JUMP for just don't hit the jump]
Get used to this, unfortunately. (Photo: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH (via U-M Media Relations, emphasis mine):
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Friday, Dec. 27), that sophomore forward Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy [N.H.]) will be out indefinitely after electing to have a surgery performed on his lower back. There is no timetable for McGary’s return; however, the medical staff expects him to make a full recovery.
"My back problems have been a daily challenge ever since late August," said McGary. "We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks. I have consulted with my family, my coaches and our doctors and decided the best option now is to have surgery. This was a difficult decision to make because I want to be out there with my teammates. At the same time, I need to be healthy to give everything I can on the court and help my team."
"We want Mitch to be 100 percent healthy again," said Beilein. "He has worked very hard over the last few months and during his earlier rehab. He was making progress in practice and games; however, lately he began to experience the same pain he had when we held him out of preseason practice this fall. Our first priority is Mitch's overall health even though I am certain he would rather be back on the court right now."
The timing couldn't be much worse with Big Ten season just around the corner. I'm no doctor (paging Heiko...) but I'm guessing Michigan will be lucky if McGary is back at anything close to full strength by postseason play.
UPDATE: More details, more despair:
John Beilein says Mitch McGary's indefinite absence could last entire season. McGary has not undergone surgery. Potentially coming next week
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) December 27, 2013
And the potential silver lining:
Just talked to a couple NBA guys -- both echoed same sentiment with McGary. With back issues and way be plays, could fall out of 1st round.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 27, 2013
It appears the best thing that could come out of this is McGary coming back for his junior year; that's not much consolation if this is a lost season for him, as is appears it will be.
Tyler Lockett is a rather frustrating assignment (via)
We're back! I'm here to tell you, after watching Kansas State's 41-31 loss to Oklahoma, that Michigan's upcoming bowl opponent is very bad at defending mobile quarterbacks, which is a great sign for... wait, say that again?
Well, the Sooners pulled away in the second half of this game on the strength of a 200-yard rushing performance from RB Brennan Clay and another 82 yards on the ground from backup quarterback Trevor Knight, who filled in admirably for injured starter Blake Bell and is quite a bit faster than Shane Morris. The Wildcats, on the other hand, couldn't establish anything on the ground, tallying 66 yards on 19 carries (sacks removed) while playing from behind for most of the contest. Is any of this relevant to Michigan? I have no idea! Let's talk about it anyway.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread. It's possible that KSU is closer to a hybrid, as they did show some I-form looks and utilize a fullback even in some shotgun formations, but in this game they were almost exclusively in the gun and utilized plenty of spread concepts.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? This game didn't provide a great look at KSU's run game; when they did, they mixed in a healthy amount of zone read with more traditional power runs, a couple end-arounds, and far less of the misdirection-type stuff Brian pointed out in his early look at the Wildcats—likely due to circumstance more than a change in philosophy.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Grind it out. The home crowd at Kansas State spent much of the game counting down the final ticks of the play clock to help out their quarterbacks; they take their sweet time between plays, and given how Michigan has fared against high-tempo offenses this year that's fine by me.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Bill Snyder has utilized a two-quarterback system for much of the season; like Northwestern's Colter/Siemian duo, the Wildcats feature a pocket passer, Jake Waters, and a run-first threat, Daniel Sams. Waters is more mobile than Siemian and is utilized in the read-option game, though mostly as a means to keep the defense honest—he's not particularly fast or elusive, so I'll give him a 4. Sams, on the other hand, rushed 148 times at 5.2 ypc against just 52 pass attempts; he gets a strong 8, with the caveat that he barely featured in this particular game.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Per Hoke's press conference this morning, Shane Morris will start the Copper Bowl in place of Devin Gardner, whose fourth metatarsal finally fell off after hanging precariously from a piece of torn cloth that was being used to hold together what remained of his last rib. Or, you know. Per people on twitter Gardner broke his foot against OSU, then kept playing. Add to the list of people who should never have to pay for beer within 4 miles of Ann Arbor the rest of his life (once he's eligible to have beers bought for him).
In the recent practice report video are guys talking about Morris; you can take Jehu Chesson:
"He does a good job, you know, reading the defense, you know, getting the ball to us. A lot of people talk about his arm; he has a good arm, great arm, um, uh, [shakes head]. The other people talk about does he throw the ball too hard. You know, with Shane, whenever he's going to be in the game, or when he's in the game or what, he's going to make the right throws at the right time and the right decisions because that's what a Michigan quarterback is expected to do."
…and Taylor Lewan:
"He has the potential to be an extremely good player. [Thing about lefty QB means Lewan is no longer blind side]. I think given the opportunity, and if he stays confident and all those things, he's going to be very successful."
…at their words. Or you can read between lines and use your expertise from watching Lie to Me to discern panicky things from Jehu's microexpressions. Being a negative nancy blogger I shall of course do the latter.
Also in that video the starting linebackers are both practicing, so there's that at least.
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 243 lbs.
Location: Avon Old Farms School (worth noting the mascot is the Winged Beaver) – Avon, CT
Offers: Georgia, Texas Tech, Indiana, NC State, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, Temple, Ohio State
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
When it comes to identifying potential Michigan targets I tend to pay attention to who else is paying attention to a prospect. Depending on position if the Ohio States, Wisconsins, Penn States, Michigan States, and Notre Dames of the world are interested, I’d expect Michigan to show a little bit of interest at some point as well.
2015 TE Chris Clark was offered by the Buckeyes last week and I immediately reached out to him to see if the Michigan coaches have contacted him or if he had any interest in the Wolverines. To my surprise his interest level in Michigan was extremely high, despite it not being mutual from the coaches. In the 2015 class at the tight end spot Michigan figures to be in pretty good shape for Tyrone Wheatley Jr., but backup plans are always necessary.
Clark passes the eyeball test for a Big Ten tight end at 6’6” and 243 lbs. making him as big as several NFL tight ends already, let alone college starters. Clark was very open and insightful when it came to his interests and plans regarding his recruitment.
On film Clark’s size and strength are apparent but so is his willingness and ability to block, which isn’t always what you see out of high school tight ends. Clark seemed to have a good understanding of his strengths as well as what could be improved upon before and during college.
I believe my strengths are my hands and my ability to get yards after the catch. I am also pretty strong and can get off press coverage and block really well. I would definitely like to work on perfecting my route running. My coaches continue to tell me that route running in college will give me an advantage.
Clark has been compared to Tyler Eifert when he was coming out of high school and that doesn’t appear to be a stretch at all. Clark is actually about the same size that Eifert is right now as a Cincinnati Bengal.
With his offer list growing Clark has decided to take a level-headed approach to choosing a leader or a favorite, which he doesn’t have right now. He did admit to growing up a Boston College fan for pretty obvious reasons.
I loved BC growing up because my dad went there but that won’t have an impact on where I go.
Michigan hasn’t reached out to Clark at this time but he says Michigan is a school he’s always paid attention to when I asked him about the Wolverines.
Of course I’m interested, I mean it’s Michigan! Football is a lifeline for the school and I really like how passionate the fans are. The history of the program is just incredible and seeing The Big House on TV is awesome. Walking out onto that field, man, I bet there is no better feeling. I definitely plan on reaching out to the coaching staff at some point.
Right now he said that Michigan is definitely high up on his least despite not holding an offer. For what it’s worth he had the same sentiment about the Buckeyes who did just offer him.
Clark has started to make a mental checklist of what he needs out of a school and his priorities seem to be in solid order.
My relationship with the coaches is going to be big. Also if they utilize the tight end in the offense. I want to like the campus and the school in general. I have to be able to get a great education and just need to have the feeling that I could call that place home for four years. God forbid I got injured, it has to be a place where I would be happy if I wasn't playing football. My goal is to make it to the NFL but a backup plan would probably be something in the sports world so a school that can help with that is going to be important.
To go along with balanced priorities Clark also prides himself on his work ethic and plans to keep working until he is the best tight end in the country. He calls himself the most competitive person he knows and wants to win at everything he does.
Clark wants to make his decision sometime before his summer camp starts in mid-August so he can just focus on his senior season. That being said the Wolverines may or may not factor in since no offer has been extended at this time. Scholarships are tight for the 2015 class but right now all of the eggs are in the Wheatley Jr. basket when it comes to tight end recruiting. The way Clark talked about Michigan it surprises me that a relationship has not been formed yet especially since he’s not close to being an under-the-radar prospect. He did say he plans on contacting the Michigan coaches and when he does I’ll get another update from him.
CHRISTMAS NOTE: Everyone is off until Friday, except possibly Seth, a general in the War On Christmas. Enjoy the time spent with your family and do everything you can to speed up 2013's untimely demise.
12/21/2013 – Michigan 68 – Stanford 65 – 7-4
No column, just bullets:
I'll take it. With Mitch McGary out and Horford fouling out in six minutes, Michigan was down to Jordan Morgan and Max Bielfeldt for big swathes of this game. Meanwhile, LeVert scores one point on seven shots. I will take a neutral court-ish win over a team that just beat UConn in that situation, even if it's by three points.
We Wisconsin'd 'em. Beilien did the thing again where you get to see him be first season Walter White in the locker room, and the brief snippet they played featured Beilein saying the word "solid" three times in one sentence in re: Michigan's defense. He got that.
He mentioned chests prominently. Michigan used them to annoy a huge Stanford team on a variety of post-up shots that ended up being bad looks because Michigan was committing that foul where you shuffle out, bumping your chest into the shooter as he goes up. Unlike everything Horford did, that never gets called and was not called. Stauskas in particular had a couple of "did I just see that" possessions where a dude got the ball on the low block against him and ended up with a heavily contested fallaway. IIRC he was on a 6'10" guy on those shots.
Stanford ended up shooting pretty well from inside the arc (47%), with their center Nastic going 5 of 6, but again a total of six minutes from Horford and no McGary. Given the circumstances, it was a good effort.
Hey, now I remember why I liked you. Been a huge struggle for Morgan for about half a season now but he really pulled Michigan's ass out of the fire, fronting posts for turnovers, boxing out (though he only had five rebounds himself that very large Stanford team was limited to 18% OREB), and following up his obligatory ARRRGH Y U NO FINISH moment by rebounding his missed bunny and putting it back in. He also put on his Mitch McGary hat on a couple of outlet passes that led to hockey assists. Without Morgan making a consistently positive impact, this is another loss and man things look grim.
Other sectors not often heard from. Michigan was miserable from outside the arc with the exception of Zak Irvin, who went 4 of 8 to prevent the rest of the team's 4 of 23 mark from tanking the season. This pops his season average up to 41%, which will shock you if you missed the Coppin State and Houston Baptist games.
Irvin is Just A Shooter. He's got a miniscule TO rate of 8, an even more miniscule FT rate of 7, and has taken about 70% of his shots from behind the line. But when he starts doing more things than shooting threes, people will not say he's Not Just A Shooter, because he's a black guy.
JUST SAY IT. Raftery teased all game and finally got out a "not just a shooter" near the end of the first half; announcers seem to have glommed onto the fact that the internet gently mocks them for saying Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter every time he adds to his enormous pile of free throws. They are trying not to say it.
Just say it, man. We like it when you say it, because it signifies Stauskas has just thrown down a dunk or somesuch other thing.
Speaking of Stauskas's growing pile of free throws. He had 87 all last year. He's going to blow through that in a couple games now as he's already got 71. The leap in his game is reflected in the statistics, in which he's made a Burke-like freshman to sophomore transition. His usage is up from 16 to 23; his assists have more than doubled while his TO rate slips, he's drawing almost six fouls a game, his FT rate has doubled, and his shooting is right on par with last season save a dip in FT% despite the increased usage.
Things will cool off as Michigan exits the bit of their season where Houston Baptist lets you sit in the corner by yourself and repeat your YouTube videos for a live studio audience, sure. Stauskas's emergence into the guy is undeniable. It was a palpable relief that Stanford wasn't going nuts overplaying him on the perimeter a la Duke.
Unfair expectations theater. Every missed Stauskas free throw engenders a tiny conniption fit from me, because I expect him to be Chauncey Billups at the line and he is not. Meanwhile if Mitch McGary hits a free throw I throw a tiny parade for him. (Tiny Mitch McGary parade: buy it for your small child today.) Good news: I have not had a tiny conniption fit for three games, in which Stauskas is 19/19 at the line, including the clutch pair at the end of this game to make the last-ditch Stanford three merely an alarming thing instead of an OH NO BACKBOARDS situation.
Neutral court-ish. Virtual home court again for Michigan. I mind these neutral court things less in basketball where you have a lot more games to play with and a lot fewer people you're trying to pack in. Also, there are a lot of Michigan fans in New York. This makes it unlike, oh, say, Dallas. It does suck that the nonconference home schedule was Arizona and hot garbage but Michigan probably thought they were getting a home game in the B10/ACC challenge and then got screwed.
I'm still boggled at the economics of playing a tournament like the Puerto Rico one, though, where you're playing all your games in a virtually empty arena. I guess Puerto Rico really wants to convince you that they have a gym in which the floor is always wet no matter what you do. Mission accomplished, land of enchantment.
Glenn. Hello. Second straight game in which Robinson has been very efficient, not only at throwing down monster alley-oops but at creating his own shot. Robinson had 17 and probably should have had a couple more as he went 4/8 from the line. If maintained this development bodes well, as it takes pressure off of the point guards even further.
Go team. (Other team.) FSU just picked up a good win against previously undefeated UMass. Their losses are in OT to Michigan, by one point to Florida, and by ten to Minnesota; Kenpom has them going 20-10 and 11-7 in the ACC, which would make them a win you'd see noted as a nice one when it comes time to parse resumes. Stanford has the look of a bubble team, but hopefully they get some thing straightened out and outperform expectations. There is almost no chance of that since Stanford is comparatively ancient as a team.