The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: Although Michigan finished second in the Big Ten to Iowa, their victory over Ohio State earned them a top-notch bowl bid; the fifth-ranked Wolverines would face off against the sixth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, who'd climbed as high as #2 in the polls before falling to Oklahoma in their regular season finale.
The Wolverines were looking for their tenth win of the season. Bo Schembechler also wanted to improve his 2-10 bowl record. He'd have to do it in his first matchup against Tom Osborne.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
It’s back, ladies and gentlemen. It’s that time. The time that seems impossibly far away when the snows melt in spring. The time on which you try not to let yourself dwell through the summer months, lest it somehow prevent the pot from boiling. You can say it out loud now, without fear that your family or coworkers will think you insane. It’s football season. Say it out loud. "Football season." It’s okay. No one will judge.
As part of the tradition here at MGoBlog, we provide a weekly update on Michigan’s opponents. For very complicated reasons that would take far too long to explain, we call this feature “Opponent Watch.” Most will not be 3800 words, but we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
About Last Year:
Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can't move
Awake but cannot open my eyes...
The Road Ahead:
Last year: 9-4 (5-4 PAC 12), won Las Vegas Bowl over Colorado State
Recap: The Utes had a pretty solid 2015. They put up wins over UCLA, USC, and Stanford, and had Oregon on the ropes early before Kaelin Clay pulled an all-time you see, what had happened was and Utah fell 51-27. Three of their four losses were to then-Top-15 teams (Arizona State, Oregon, and Arizona).
When last we saw them: Utah allegedly made a trip to Ann Arbor as recently as last season. Obtaining eye-witness evidence of this fact is difficult, and those who claimed to have witness it cannot explain significant portions of their experiences. However, from what we can gather from those in attendance it was, quote, “not great, Bob.”
This team is as frightening as: Getting a new car, but the first time you drive it is in downtown rush hour traffic. You’re pretty sure the car is gonna be awesome, but you would have liked to take it for a spin in some easier conditions until you get used to it. Also the car is clinically insane. Fear Level = 8
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has struggled offensively in all three games they’ve played against Utah. In two of those games they scored a combined total of two touchdowns, one of which was a Willie Henry 7-yard interception return. Their most productive offensive game from a scoring standpoint was the one that NICK SHERIDAN started… against the Utah team that beat Alabama to finish undefeated and #2 in the country. Football is stupid and makes no freaking sense. Yay football.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan already played part of a game against Utah in front of more Utah fans than Michigan fans, so there will be a certain comfort level there.
When they play Michigan: If Michigan loses, Utah will be only the second team Michigan has played more than three times (among teams Michigan has played at least once since the Kennedy Assassination) against whom they have a losing record. The only other team? USC.
First game: HARBAUGH COMIN’ UP ON A THURSDAY
[AFTER THE JUMP: 11 more opponents to watch. Wait, is that why they call it…]
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting." The third is "you vote on who you think assembled the best team." The fourth is "This is actually our Big Ten preview."
THAT WHICH HAS COME BEFORE
Previously on Draftageddon:
- Adam takes a guy with a ~33% chance to start first overall! Joey Bosa lasts until pick 3! Seth is generally sensible! For him that counts as Heiko-ing, I think!
- Brian takes back to back QBs! Several additional Ohio State players go off the board! 24-12!
- Ace takes Braxton Miller as a QB and then shrugs expansively when he ends up a terrifying H-back!
- Seth takes a one-down pass rush specialist! Brian takes a kicker! These are both totally defensible selections! Big Tennnnnnnn!
- A run on Michigan players! Maybe people will stop hating this!
- Large kickers! Also bad safeties. Fin.
In order to ensure a bountiful harvest and that all further injuries and transfers will affect only Northwestern Wildcats, every year we sacrifice a little bit of what makes us human to discuss what just occurred, and try to summarize all of Draftageddon into a single, informative around-the-Big Ten preview.
We'll defend our teams and let you vote on them later; this is the informative part. I sent out a mini-questionnaire to all the selectors and got back the following:
1. So many Spartans (15) and Buckeyes (19). Skip the justifiable ones and tell us which were the most overrated?
Seth: Josh Perry==Joe Bolden, and I'm skeptical of any 1st round grades for their secondary because their DL was so good we rarely got to see Powell or Bell even have the opportunity to biff a coverage. That goes double for MSU: Cox is barely holding down a job, and was behind Hicks, who was so iffy last year they had to play Lippett both ways. Neither Williamson nor Nicholson could hold off the other last year. Kodi Kieler is just okay, though at that point Ace was picking from bad OT options.
Adam: Eli Apple and Raekwon McMillan, whom Ace and I took in the ninth round, respectively. I think both guys will have successful seasons, but those are two guys who played a significant amount in 2014 but have yet to start a full year. Looking at others at the same positions, there were guys with proven track records who went later that you could make an argument for flipping with Apple and McMillan (Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Desmond Morgan come to mind). There is, however, a price to upside.
Ace: I think Taylor Decker (with Jack Conklin on the board) and Adolphus Washington (a host of quality DTs) went earlier than they should've, even though both are fine players. Demetrious Cox was one of the more questionable picks in the whole draft. I'll cop to overrating Josh Perry—I wanted Ed Davis, overcompensated in the aftermath of him going off the board, and... actually, I guess that kinda worked out.
Brian: Will Gholston.
[After the jump: why we drafted more Wolverines than Spartans]
THING NOTES: Illinois, you will be shocked to learn, is not good at the football. Rudock was under siege before and after this game; in this one he occasionally got a rusher after a beat or two but was otherwise unmolested. His receivers also got open some, which is a notable change. This is the version of Rudock that Michigan will see if the other parts of the offense go as well as possible.
CHRONOLOGY NOTES: This was before the Wisconsin and Nebraska games, after Maryland and Illinois.
[After THE JUMP: Mike Dudek vs Everybody]
Your impressions of Jake Rudock?
“Yeah! All those quarterbacks are doing a great job. This is day 21 of practice. I guess it’s 10 days until our first game, and all of them are competing and doing a great job.”
With him taking the majority of the reps Saturday is that an indication that he is the No. 1 guy?
“No, there’s no decision that’s been made.”
How close are you to having five linemen that you’re settled on?
“We’re not. You know, every group is competing and we want that because it brings the best out of everybody. So we’ll just keep tinkering around and putting guys in there in and out, and when the time comes we’ll make that decision.”
When do you want to have it by?
“I don’t know yet. I don’t know that yet. Like I said, we’re 10 days out from game time, so when the time comes we’ll make that decision.”
Can you sense that build up? You’re going to be on a plane a week from tomorrow. Can you start sensing the excitement?
“Yeah, you do. You do. It’s always fun to go play somebody else because you’ve been playing against each other. It’s one day at a time right now but you do sense it, yeah.”
Looking at your receivers you have an interesting mix. You have a bunch of young guys who’ve not played at all and some veterans as well. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your receiving corps?
“I think they’ve got very good speed, they’ve got good hands, they catch really well, they’re disciplined in their routes. A lot of positive things. A lot of guys making a lot of catches. Blocking really well.”
[After THE JUMP: A (very) rough timeline for announcing the starting QB]
What's the status of Bryan? Can you comment on Bryan Mone at all?
“Yeah, Bryan is a great kid and a great player for us. We really like him.”
If he’s not able to play how does that affect how you use Hurst? Do you use him more at the nose tackle spot?
“A great thing about our team right now, when you go through camp, is that we’re building depth at all positions. That's what this time of year is for is find where we’re strongest at and where our depth is and so I think across the board you've done a good job of that. We've developed some guys and we've got depth at all positions.”
So how do you expect to use Hurst then?
“Mo Hurst? Mo is definitely part of that depth up front and he can play all the spots too. Really he can play inside [or] outside, so he's a guy we’re counting on. He'll play a lot for us.”
What were some of the positives that you took away from Saturday as far as the defensive line is concerned?
“I think it was good. I think the biggest thing is probably that was the first time we were out with crowd noise and it was good seeing them communicate on their own. You know, coaches, we like to– either you're standing out and you cheat a little bit, you're yelling and you're kind of helping the guys out because you're into it, and we weren't able to do that. That was the first time they were out there on the field on their own, no one out there helping them make checks, and they really communicated well and for the most part were assignment-sound.”
What's the most interesting thing you’ve learned about your secondary in these last 2 1/2 weeks?
“The best part is we’ve been finding out the competitors, because there's good competition back there and we've put them in a bunch of spots where they’ve got to show up. And they know its competition. We've moved guys around a little bit and so I think it's been great. You find out the guys who really thrive in that type of environment.”
What do you like most about your defensive front?
“I think just their work-type mentality: blue-collar. We've brought it every day. This has been a tough camp, and they've responded every day. I mean, they've been locked in in meetings and done well on the field. There've been a few instances where I could say it wasn't that type of mentality, but really when you look at the whole grand scheme of camp they really brought it. They've done great.”
[After THE JUMP: I ask about the secondary and someone asks about Freddy Canteen. Also Jabrill, because there’s always a question about Jabrill]