I did not make this headline up
This GIS went much better than expected.
This feature on Wilton Speight has perhaps the least informative headline ever; that's okay, though, because it comes from The Goochland Gazette, and [keels over laughing].
Okay, pull yourself together, post rapturous blockquote:
Standing in a huddle on the sideline with his teammates just before kickoff, he towers over his running backs and offensive line by a good five inches. He gestures confidently, like a conductor fully in charge of an orchestra, wholly in tune with and in charge of his surroundings.
The next thing that strikes your attention is that beautiful spiral. Tight and wind-resistance, he hums the pigskin all over the yard, from sideline-to-sideline, completing every route in the playbook - hitches, curls, posts, outs, you name it — with uniform ease. Comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger are a given, not only because of his 6’6, 230 pound frame, but also due to his surprisingly nimble feet and his innate ability to prolong plays and spin productive downs out of would-be sacks.
CA ATH JuJu Smith was always considered a longshot to end up at Michigan, even though he'd previously scheduled an official visit for the Ohio State game. After very positive visits to Notre Dame, Ohio State, and new contender Oregon, Smith dropped the Wolverines from his list, citing their less-than-stellar performance:
JuJu Smith said he thinks Michigan is a great school, but not a fit for him. Cancelled his visit said losses caused them to drop on his list
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) November 5, 2013
Before PANIC sets in, please note that this is relatively unusual; yes, of course winning helps recruiting, but normally a team's win/loss record affects the next class more than the current one (in this case, Michigan isn't doing itself any favors for 2015). If you click through to Tom's tweet, you'll note that he responds to someone stating that Da'Shawn Hand may feel the same way with a straightforward "No, I don't think that." Along those same lines...
There is no way that I would change my mind over 1 loss, the future is bright! Go blue 〽
— Drake Harris (@drizzygetbusy01) November 5, 2013
Now, does Michigan's demoralizing loss to State potentially affect 2015 in-state recruits like Mike Weber, Josh Alabi, and Brian Cole? Absolutely. To Michigan kids who've now seen MSU take five of the last six games, the Spartans are now the state's top football program—and the most stable one. That doesn't mean they won't consider U-M—the flip side to this is a recruit sees plenty of opportunity to help bring a traditionally strong program back to the top—but at the same time, it obviously doesn't help.
Hand's Final Visit
Da'Shawn Hand's final official visit comes on Saturday when he watches 4-4 Florida take on Vanderbilt; while the Gators were once considered a potential dark horse, a season even uglier than Michigan's has robbed them of any momentum, especially with coach Will Muschamp squarely on the hot seat (while a team's record doesn't have a huge effect on most recruits, the coach recruiting them potentially not having a job next year usually does). Rivals's Mike Farrell, who's the recruiting reporter in closest regular contact with Hand, says in his latest column that he thinks Michigan holds a slight edge over Alabama ($). It's hard to see Florida jumping into the mix with Hand's announcement coming a week from today.
The M Block's Eric Rutter pens a lengthy, quote-filled feature on 2014 commit Chase Winovich, covering his season, playing both ways this year, his friendship with fellow Pennsylvanian Sterling Jenkins (both plan to visit for the OSU game), and his feelings on Hand and Malik McDowell:
Chase then went on to share his thoughts on how Michigan will close the 2014 class, focusing specifically on defensive line prospects Malik McDowell and DaShawn Hand. "I have a gut feeling that Malik McDowell will go to Michigan. I'm not to sold on [DaShawn] Hand yet, but people seem pretty, pretty, really, really confident that they know their stuff and say he's headed to Michigan. So I'm going to trust them and say, yeah, I hope he's going to Michigan. But like I said, I definitely have that gut feeling on Malik McDowell." This would put the finishing touches on a strong class that ranks among the best in the country for 2014.
Winovich is apparently taking his recruiting guru cues from Sam Webb.
If you've got a 247 subscription, Clint Brewster looks at five candidates to be Michigan's next 2015 commit ($).
247 released their Crystal Ball rankings; I'm currently ranked #40 (out of 194, so... I'll take it!) for 2014 and, thanks to Michigan's early efforts, am all the way up at #16 for the class of 2015.
About last week:
Everything the light touches is our kingdom. But the light only touches Ann Arbor.
Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 B1G)
Last game: Nebraska 27, Northwestern 24 (W)
Recap: Had the Michigan game gone just a liiiiiittle differently, this would have been a frustrating result. Nebraska would have been Michigan's biggest remaining hurdle to a
Leaders Victors Legends Bo (NNTB) Division crown, and pulling one out of their ass like this would have been rather disappointing. Instead, the world just sucks and everything is terrible, so what the hell, FAT GUY HAIL MARY.
Nebraska outgained Northwestern 472-326, but turned the ball over four times and found themselves down 3 when the above hilarity happened. They actually faced a 4th and 15 at their own 24 with under a minute left, and Ameer Abdullah took a dump-off and broke about 4 tackles to gain 16 yards.
Despite the victory, Nebraska’s quarterback situation is a bit of a crap shoot. Taylor Martinez has a strained everything, and didn’t play in this one. Excluding the Fat Guy Hail Mary, Tommy Anderson Jr. and Ron Kellogg III combined for 21/41 for 228 yards (5.6 YPA), one touchdown, and four INTs. Armstrong is more mobile (he gained 69 yards on 17 carries), but his arm was rather Acme Rocket-like; among his three turnovers, he threw one of the worst picks you’ll ever see with about two and a half minutes left deep in its own territory with the game tied.
All things considered, the offense was still very productive, but it’s hard to say if the turnovers can be extricated from that productivity given the quarterback situation. Martinez is reportedly out for the Michigan game, though, which is a significant advantage for Michigan; Nebraska is going to have to tip its hand based on which QB is under center. If Armstrong is out there, I think you’ll see Jake Ryan out there on the assumption that Nebraska will be going run-heavy, whereas if Kellogg is out there Michigan will almost certainly be in a nickel.
This team is as frightening as: Oh hell everything is frightening now, even if it isn’t objectively frightening. Fear Level = 6
Michigan should worry about: Ameer Abdullah. He’s is already over 1100 yards on the season (or about negative-23 Michigan/MSU games worth), and is averaging 7.1 yards per tote. He's a home run threat who can also be an effective every-down back. With Martinez out last week, Abdullah got 27 touches, and there’s no reason to believe that number will decrease this week.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nebraska’s Defensive FEI is 50th in the country… which is actually two spots BETTER than their Offensive FEI. They’ve put up some video game stats, but mostly against terrible defenses. They have played three defenses that are currently ranked in the top 93 in Defensive FEI (#23 UCLA, #30 Northwestern and #46 Minnesota), and have only averaged under 24 points per game in those three matchups. By comparison, they averaged 47 ppg against the #94, #95, #103, and #106 defenses and an FCS opponent. Michigan is statistically the best defense Nebraska will have faced this year.
When they play Michigan: Hurray for home games. Home games are good games. Home games don’t make me throw things.
Next game: @ Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: Poor Damn Northwestern]
- Drew Dileo and Keith Heitzman will be back Saturday. Brennen Beyer will start at SDE.
- AJ Williams will "be in the lineup."
- De'Veon Smith's demotion was to send a message. Still has a chance to earn his way back into the depth chart.
“Had a good practice yesterday. We expect it with the way this group has been. Most Tuesdays have been very good. It was good. The energy was good. The enthusiasm for the game of football was good. And in terms of preparation we got a lot done.”
Devin’s status physically? Has his leadership been tested?
“Oh I think all the leadership is always tested when you have adversity. He did a great job yesterday. Sore? Yeah. But every guy in the game of football across America who’s playing is going to be sore. He went out and attacked the day.”
Were there any lessons for him from last week?
“I think there’s always lessons. For him, maybe there’s some fundamental lessons when you look at technique that he can take home and learn from. I think leadership-wise I think there’s always those things we can build on ... I would think he keeps growing as a quarterback. That’s part of it. Being in those pressurized situations, made some awfully good throws. Obviously the Nascar series at the end of the game, late, showed a lot. He got them up even though he got him – he kept moving.”
FORMATION NOTES: On passing downs Michigan sometimes went with this 3-3-5-ish look with the line in a wide three-man front and the SAM hanging out next to one of the ends;
They also went with a weird wide even line against Ace, once:
M rolled down Gordon in their under early:
And occasionally split their nickel package, leaving just one LB. I called this 5-1.
Oh and on the final drive MSU pulled out an unbalanced formation with two inline TEs to the same side of the line.
Deliberately trolling Borges's unbalanced lines? Probably not, but I hope so.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Taylor, Countess, and Gordon went the whole way. When Michigan went to a nickel it was always Jourdan Lewis; Michigan also brought in Avery from time to time to spot Wilson, with iffy success.
Linebacker was the usual, except Brennen Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving SAM mostly Ryan with Cam Gordon backing; the three-man ILB rotation was still in place. Gedeon was sent to the bench again.
On the line Michigan did some weird stuff. Black(!) played nose tackle to open the game and would end up there periodically. Henry flipped between nose and three-tech; when it was Washington and Henry Michigan seemed to regard them as interchangeable. Clark went almost the whole way at WDE; very little Ojemudia. At SDE it was Beyer and some Wormley; no or very little Heitzman. Glasgow made a cameo or two.
[After THE JUMP: I mean, what did you expect?]
Basically the coaches have put guys who couldn't possibly succeed in a position to fail even harder. [Fuller]
Hey, UFRs are coming out today and tomorrow, but we can get most of the sad clown out now. Sad clowns: Brian, Bryan, Brett, Brandon, Brace, and Brseth. What I asked:
The worst part of it is…
Coach Brown: Man, what a loaded question. I think the worst part of it is, that we don’t know what the worst part of it is. Right now Michigan is 6-2 with a loss to Penn State that I don’t think they should have. The Michigan State loss was painful, but expected. That being said, there seems to be a list of issues that are present each week, with a few new ones popping up occasionally too.
Early on Devin was the interception king, while last week he played like he was so scared to turn the ball over that it might as well have been glued to his hand.
The offensive line has been different so many times I don’t even know who is playing what position anymore. Even the All-American left tackle has been moved around. The youth is inexperienced but talented, but so far has been pretty lack luster. Derrick Green is averaging around 3 ypc. Dymonte Thomas was thought to be all-world but he can’t get on the field. Channing Stribling has been there, but not quite. Kyle Bosch unfortunately has had to play. Shane Morris trips over yard lines. Jake Butt is being asked to do a TON. Jourdan Lewis shows signs of being the next Raymon Taylor. Brian, is he good or aren’t we sure yet?
|Does the inverted veer have a counter in this offense? Does the coaches know what a counter is? [Upchurch]|
Granted a lot of stuff sucked against Michigan State and those memories are at the forefront right now, but a lot of these things have shown up in every game this season. Inconsistent line play and positioning, ball security issues with Devin, no running game whatsoever, game-plans that seem to be constructed as the coaches walk onto the field.
I’m not even going to try and address the coaching issues that seem to be unidentifiable, but are definitely present. Is it Hoke’s leadership? Is it Borges’s predictability and lack of creativity? Is it Funk not knowing what to do with young linemen? Is it Mallory purposely teaching DB’s not to look back for the ball? Is it Mattison being too NFL-like that he won’t blitz when a blitz seems to be an obvious choice?
I know these guys have been football brains for many, many more years that I have been and on a level I can’t even comprehend, but at some point shouldn’t those brains be able to get things get fixed? I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the war room to see and hear what the coaches talk about. They have to know these concerns right? And if so, where are the adjustments or the explanations for why things are happening the way that they are.
Michigan is 6-2 and could potentially go 9-3, while 8-4 is probably more likely, with 6-6 being….dammit, a very real possibility. There is a laundry list of issues with some being more glaring than others. Some things are controllable and some things are not. This team can’t get older and more experienced overnight.
I don’t have fool-proof answers and I don’t know exactly why these issues seem to be unaddressed, but one thing is clear, Team 134 isn’t that good. Facts are facts. What happens this year and next will be telling for the future of the entire staff and the direction of Michigan football.
[Jump. Or small hop if your ribs are still healing. Try not to step on the dead dove.]
“All right, on to Nebraska. You know, last ball game, it was a tough loss for us obviously. It’s time to move on. I thought for a lot of that ball game our kids competed, played very hard. Obviously there’s things we had to do better. Can’t give a score up before halftime like we did. But watching the tape, I thought our guys fought very hard. It wasn’t good enough.”
Brady expressed concerned on pass defense. What needs to improve?
“We have to be tighter. We have to compete more. There’s a difference between being in the right place as a secondary guy and competing. The bottom line is everybody on that field has a job to do and has an alignment and has a responsibility. And then you’re either successful or not successful based on what happens in your area. It’s like a five-technique defensive end. You can play the C-gap, and if you open that C-gap up too much, then it’s going to make it harder on somebody else. I’m not saying the secondary is the reason. Everybody has something that they have to get better at. One of the things that we have to get better, and it always goes with pass rush and getting to the quarterback, is tightening our coverage up and contesting throws a little better.”