"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
This space has seen epic amounts of bitching about Michigan's failure to check into easy plays that would get some yards and pressure a defense to the edge, but at least once in the Indiana game they did that in a fashion that still kind of baffles me. Michigan's driving to take a 21-7 lead and finds themselves with first and ten on the IU 24.
Michigan comes out in a shotgun with three wide; Indiana goes with the same response they did all day: two deep safeties and a hybrid space LB shaded over the slot.
To everyone on Michigan's offense other than Jeremy Gallon and Devin Gardner, this is going to be an inside zone. Gallon and Gardner are going to run a pop pass hitch, because they are spooky.
So. Presnap, Gardner starts scoping out the boundary corner. A lot of teams will blitz that guy to combat spread looks; Michigan's seen it frequently and hasn't had an answer. This is one, but I'm kind of at a loss to tell you how Michigan read it. Whatever Gardner's reading here is subtle.
He's making some sort of hand motion to Gallon here.
On the snap, Gardner takes a momentary glance back at that corner. This is an instant, and the guy hasn't had the time to indicate he's coming. He's not focused on Gallon, but a glance this quick could miss something there.
Gardner fakes a handoff; line run blocks, with Lewan getting a couple yards downfield eventually.
The CB now commits to his blitz; Gardner pops up and hits the open Gallon for a few yards.
Except Gallon is good, man, and Indiana's safety gets shook, turning seven yards into 17.
Items of Interest
Pop pass FTW. For a team that seems to be allergic to quick presnap reads for its quarterback this is some advanced stuff. If the corner tips his blitz here that's a tendency I can't pick up; Michigan must have seen something in their prep, or Gardner just feels it. I looked at this a dozen times trying to figure out the exact thing that tipped Gardner and still bupkis. There was a time during my odyssey that I thought it was just a called play, but no, that hand motion Gardner makes before the snap (not the one for the snap, the little indicator to Gallon) seems like a one-to-one check.
Either way, this is a response to the corner blitzes that earlier in the year would wreck Michigan's rudimentary spread running game, which is good to see. Point Borges. It's also a short quick throw that gets an athletic guy in space, which pays off with ten extra yards.
Crouching Gallon, Hidden Yards. Man is Gallon good at this method of getting yards after the catch. He's built low to the ground and has a knack for taking a hit when he's bent low, which gets him under the defender and allows him to spin to keep his feet. The middle frame of the triptych above is the Hypothetical Gallon Statue in my mind: he's just dusted a defender and is sneaking his way for YAC.
This is not quite a packaged play. Everyone on the college football internet just thinks whatever Smart Football thinks, so a favorite topic these days are "packaged plays," which are run plays paired with a quick hot read the QB takes if a particular player (usually an OLB) crashes to the run. A lot of these end up looking like those PA spread passes up the seam. These plays feature an offense that runs a run play and a quarterback and WR who are given the option to abort.
Here Michigan aborts a run play, but it appears the call is made presnap, not post-snap. So not quite packaged. A close relative, certainly.
Ht/Wt: 6'2"/185 lbs.
Location: Mona Shores High School – Muskegon, MI
Offers: Western Michigan
As the search for the next quarterback to be offered continues a new name has popped up in Tyree Jackson as he’s been in frequent touch with the coaches and attended the Indiana game on Saturday. He wasn’t able to contain his excitement when I asked him about the atmosphere.
It went really good! I had a great time! The fans were crazy! When I walked through the tunnel they were yelling my name and stuff. It really felt cool. It was awesome. (Laughs)
Tyree obviously enjoyed his arrival and tour of The Big House, but after the game he didn’t get to do much mingling as he had to leave pretty much right away. I asked him how his short visit with the coaches went.
I did get to talk to the coaches but not for very long because I had to leave. They said that they will be in touch with me soon and just for me to keep up what I’ve been doing. Coach Ferrigno might be back to see me. He came to see me once before my Muskegon game.
I didn’t talk with Tyree for long but it wasn’t necessary to get a feel for how much he’s digging Michigan. With his only offer being Western I’m not going to shock anyone by saying Michigan would easily top his list if he were to be offered, but I think that may be the case no matter who comes calling.
You can check out Tyree’s sophomore film below.
Nagelvoort rides to the rescue
Due to some recording snafus I ended up catching only the final two periods of Friday's game and the third period Saturday, along with the overtimes. Also, the feed FCS picked up looked like an internet stream and it was really hard to figure out who anyone other than Kevin Lohan was even though the announcers tried their damndest to keep us informed. (Seriously, they were great.) I didn't actually see any goals until the Motte winner on Saturday, though I saw replays of some of them. Not enough to write a column, but here are various bullets:
That was probably a good UNH team. The Wildcats were 20-12-7 last year, 13-8-6 in Hockey East, reaching the second round of the NCAA tournament. They lost a couple of their better forwards but returned the vast bulk of their scoring—10 of their top 12—and both goalies. They opened with a solid win over Clarkson in the Icebreaker and then lost 3-2 to Minnesota. By the end of the year that's going to be another quality scalp for Pairwise purposes. Michigan's done a lot of work in just two weeks here.
So far so good for Nagelvoort. Man, when Racine went down with what was obviously a groin issue that I'd be lasts a month or maybe longer (he's definitely out this weekend, and not practicing), dark thoughts flitted through my head. Nagelvoort comes out, my former goalie buddy remarks on how enormous his pads are, and he proceeds to shut UNH out through a rampant third period in which they outshoot Michigan 14-2, with one of those stops an impressive recovery on a penalty shot.
The next night he holds UNH to two goals through an entire game and overtime. Four games in Michigan's save percentage is .937 as a team and Nagelvoort is at .949. Massive sample size disclaimers are of course warranted. It's still the best possible start you could have hoped for minus the Racine injury. Hopefully it keeps up.
Power play: extant. Michigan's 6 of their first 16, a 38% strike rate, and that feels like a sustainable thing since Michigan's been going up against good teams and has been setting up in the zone for extended periods of time. The puck movement is night and day from last year, when their single idea was "get the puck to Trouba." It's too early for me to tell you much else—I get my mind around hockey things slowly.
Recovery. Michigan scrambled their lines for the first time this year after they got pinned in their zone for disturbingly long stretches of the third period on Friday night. They ended up getting outshot nearly 2 to 1 and that was a fair reflection of the play on the ice, if aided by buckets of penalties—UNH had eight power plays. The next night the script flipped and Michigan was better in the last 25 minutes.
Buddies. Michigan's line scramble affected almost everyone but did leave two forward pairs joined: Copp/DeBlois and Motte/Compher. I expect those pairings are untouchable with the success the former has had since its formation at midseason last year—Copp also leads the team in points with 6—and the success the latter's had since their NTDP days. Motte and Compher have already connected on a number of plays that show great understanding of each other and seem like they're more than the sum of their parts when they're on the ice together.
The defense is about what we expected. Bennett is far more aggressive with his puck rushes, Clare's slow speed of thought on the ice gets Michigan trapped in their own zone too often, and Serville continues to make scary mistakes. The freshmen have been a pleasant surprise, especially Lohan, who I figured would mostly ride the bench but has been in the way of a lot of scoring plays. Judgments here are still extremely tentative—ask me again after the upcoming four-game homestand.
Michigan's going to need to get some more playmaking from these guys. Successful passes to set up rushes have been lacking. Four games in the defensemen have four points between them, all of them assists, three of them Clare's.
Nieves stands out. Nieves had the proverbial jump over the weekend; on Friday his line was the primary one generating chances in the final two periods. The shuffle put him with Guptill and Hyman and while they didn't score the line got Guptill seven shots. That is a good guy to get shots; Nieves seems to be emerging. Di Giuseppe, too, seems to be more active this year.
Reader and graphic designer Brian Downing shows off his skills with the above, which I wish I was aware of before attempting my own "Al Borges is trolling us all" GIF:
Brian's (NTB's) is obviously superior; both of these are exempted from voting this week since they're edited. There's still plenty to choose from after the jump, mostly featuring Indiana not playing defense and various reactions to the on-field insanity. It's a good crop, so...
I would watch a halftime show that was a you-got-served style drumoff between bands. Yes sir.
It's almost like this was not well thought out. Michigan's three million dollar billboard is an eyesore the city would like to turn off.
Ann Arbor officials are planning to ask the University of Michigan to decommission its new digital billboard outside the Big House.
City Council Member Christopher Taylor, D-3rd Ward, and other council members argue the large marquee on East Stadium Boulevard is too big, too bright and too distracting to drivers with its continually changing messages.
You may be wondering why the city is bringing this up after the thing was installed, they were obviously not consulted and don't have to be. Whateva, the U does what it wants:
The university does not have to follow the city's local ordinances or obey council requests. Nonetheless, the council members behind the resolution are hoping the university will hear the community's concerns and respond.
"It just doesn't seem very appropriate," Higgins said of the billboard. "We talked about the size (as part of the city's sign ordinance), and that just so far exceeded any size that we thought was really feasible within the city limits."
Does anyone ask anyone else about anything before just doing it anymore? If I show up at Michigan Stadium next year and it's upside down, will anyone have a rationale, or at least a document indicating that there was a 15 minute discussion about the pros and cons of such an undertaking? (PRO: rain can't get in so easily. CON: have to invent anti-gravity to play football.)
Well, that was inevitable. Miami gets three scholarships docked for the next three years. No bowl ban, various other minor penalties. After the NCAA screwed up that investigation harder than Nevin Shapiro screwed his ponzi investors, this was always going to be a wrist-slap compromise that wouldn't send Miami to the appeal/sue route, and lo, it is so. QED: the NCAA put together a record-shattering 102-page document to mildly annoy a program they savage as being basically without compliance in the report.
It's worth noting that Miami self-imposed two years of bowl ban, which cost them a berth in last year's ACC Championship game, and a bunch of players were suspended. It did cost them something.
Obligatory: the NCAA is stupid and their rules are unenforceable and pointless and most of those rules should be put in a blender for the benefit of players, society, common sense, and most importantly Michigan, which has an alumni base with gobs of dough and a department that actually has, you know, compliance activities going on.
Ann Arbor Skyline. Finally, the mysterious name of Ann Arbor's newest high school is explained:
Stauskas and Caris LeVert sharing the backcourt is not "out of the realm of possibility," per Jordan.
If this actually comes to fruition, holy pants that is a huge lineup: LeVert, Stauskas, Robinson, McGary, Morgan/Horford, or stick Irvin somewhere in there. No one under 6'6". It'll be a sideshow with Walton and Spike around, but what a sideshow.
In general, the coaches sounded excited about LeVert in particular, who's up to 185 and apparently showing enough point guard skill to warrant some run at that spot. He is the kind of guy—young, skinny, still growing—who can be a totally different player in year two.
Same as it ever was. Hockey got some pretty horrible officiating in New Hampshire over the weekend, no call worse than a Derek DeBlois stick-lift that was somehow judged a penalty shot. Berenson on that:
A man may dress like a cowboy and smell like a cowboy but he can't ride a horse.
The Big Ten ain't fixing the gibbering pack of maroons that's available to ref games.
Exit. Farewell to Burgeoning Wolverine Star, which hangs up its spurs. Chris of BWS acquired a reputation as something of a downer, but… uh… on many counts he turned out to be right. (See: offensive line.) His play breakdowns were consistently worth arguing about. He'll be missed.
Entrance. If the previous news leaves you feeling sad, here is Fergodsakes, which is ramping up their coverage entertainingly:
Young (Michigan Alum) David Alan Grier?
Pictured: Michigan Offense, rediscovered
First off, this reference to Spielberg's "Hook" (1991), a landmark achievement in Giant Crocodile cinema technology, was not at all random, and will be of use later in this piece.
A possible future. A leaked PDF that was accurate enough to forecast a Michigan/UCLA series in 2022 and 2023 also indicates Michigan may be playing a neutral-site game against Florida in 2017. Neutral probably means Atlanta, which wouldn't be neutral but would at least be easy to get to. If Will Muschamp doesn't kill Orson by then that would be fun.
Other games it may reveal: UCF in 2016, pushing back a Ball State game, Air Force in 2017—ack option football—and SMU in 2018, all home games.
I subscribe to your newspaper. I subscribe it up. Jeff Goodman toured six of the top programs in America a few days back, hitting Kansas, MSU, Indiana, Oklahoma State, Louisville, and another school I can't figure out from the italicized preview bit. The most impressive guy Goodman saw?
Michigan's Glenn Robinson III was the most impressive player of anyone I saw on the trip. GR3 will see more time at his natural position, small forward, this season. The 6-7 Robinson has added weight and become more athletic.
The questions regarding the son of the "Big Dog" were about his perimeter shot and ability to put the ball on the floor. Robinson buried deep jumper after deep jumper and appears far more comfortable at the 3-spot in John Beilein's offense. It's still yet to be determined whether this aspect of his skill set will translate in games, but it's a good sign with Robinson more assertive on the offensive end. If he can gain a consistent jumper to go with his athleticism, he'll almost certainly be a lottery pick.
That would be excellent. Robinson attended the same camps McGary did over the summer; the buzz from them was that McGary was a beast and Robinson tended to fade into the background, as he is wont to do. I've been expecting an incremental leap in GRIII's game with Stauskas and McGary picking up more of the usage slack left by Burke as a result. Any indicator that Little Big Dog is going to eat is an encouraging sign.
On pace. Jeremy Gallon was the fourth-leading receiver in the Big Ten last year with 829 yards. Through seven games this year he's already exceeded that total with 831. To break Braylon Edwards's single-season receiving record of 1330 yards Gallon needs to average 84 yards a game—well within reach, especially if Michigan retains the pass-orientation they showed against Indiana.
Booker not looking too good. Devin Booker took a visit to Missouri over the weekend, and this is maybe not so good:
Booker visited both Kentucky and Michigan State on the weekend of Sept. 6-9 and went to Michigan on Oct. 5. He arrived back in Mississippi Sunday after the first of consecutive trips to Columbia, Mo., with plans to return to this weekend when his father, Melvin, is honored along with the rest of Missouri's 1994 Big 8 championship team.
Etc.: Pahokee eating update. Also an update from Maize and Go Blue. Ups and downs of Brady Hoke. This happened forever ago, but my gawd James Murphy. The Ducks are the reason John Gibson never showed up at Michigan. OH SF Javon Bess, a plan B for Michigan as they wait on Booker and Blackmon, commits to MSU. Here is the weird halftime show.
Going up early 'cause we're going on WTKA this morning to yap about HTTV Hoops/Hockey from 9-10 with Sam Webb and several of our authors.
What have I done? My brains are going into my feet!
Brady Hoke said his team was prepared for Indiana's ludicrous speed offense, in other words: "Buckle this." Following the science fiction movie at Michigan Stadium last Saturday, the old hypothesis is again making its rounds: teams that don't play up-tempo tend to not be as prepared for teams that do, leading to an uncharacteristically negative defensive performance.
Fortunately there are data here (thank you once again cfbstats.com). They say Indiana is indeed the fastest ship in galaxy.
To get a tempo stat I just divided time of possession (in seconds) by total offensive plays. Games against FCS opponents are removed entirely. The Big Ten by Tempo (all FBS in Google Doc):
It's not perfect since you can't pull out the seconds actually spent in a play, or the actual seconds during clock stoppages because of out of bounds or incomplete passes or first downs, but in the aggregate I think it does the job.* Michigan, as you supposed, is pretty low: 105th, and in the 26th percentile at 28.3 seconds per play. Nothing before or since on Michigan's schedule is like Indiana; for objects in the mirror: CMU is 97th, Notre Dame is 85th, Akron is 58th, UConn 55th.
* Anomaly: thanks to all the stoppages Penn State's offense vs. Michigan charted as fast as Indiana's. That's why I didn't use game-by-game stats, since those sorts of things average out and betray the offense's truer intentions.
High tempo does not equate or really even correlate that strongly with Yards per Play. Observe chart:
Click embiggens (updated)
Cal's offense functions at warp speed but its output isn't any better than Florida's ambles through the swamp. Wisconsin and Alabama both manage to move even slower than we do, and FSU is hardly faster, yet those are elite scoring machines. The linear tilt might be tempo teams winning a few more plays here and there, or it could simply mean the spread guys who run many of the great offenses today are just accidental carriers of up-tempo alleles (like how blue eyes followed the path of Vikings, but didn't necessarily provide any advantage).
The question, however, is not what tempo can do for you, but whether teams on the right side of the chart are more susceptible to those on the left. [Jump to see]