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Last week was busy, so I’ll wrap in the results from the past two weeks into one column. Hard to believe that many teams have already played half their games, but time flies when you’re having fun.
In the last two weeks:
Florida pulled off a signature home upset win over Ole Miss – not only did the Gators notch a win over a top 5 opponent, it was a commanding victory devoid of much suspense: UF led 25-0 at halftime and the rest of the game was effectively garbage time.
They also managed to avoid a letdown the next week on the road against Missouri and now hold a two-game lead over the rest of the SEC East. Unfortunately their starting quarterback was suspended for a year by the NCAA and they have to go to Death Valley to face LSU this weekend.
Meanwhile Georgia, the pre-season favorite in the SEC East, has had a disappointing past two weeks: the Dawgs welcomed Alabama to Athens for the first time since the now-infamous blackout game and, once again, were overly gracious hosts as the Tide dominated in a 38-10 win.
Alabama notched a generally non-descript win over Arkansas – even after the win over Tennessee, the Razorbacks have four losses already with trips to Ole Miss and LSU coming in November, it’s hard to see a path to a better season than last, which isn’t ideal in what was supposed to be a breakout year.
Georgia followed their big loss to Bama with a trip to Tennessee (who were coming off a tough loss to Arkansas themselves) and the Vols flipped the script – instead of suffering a brutal comeback defeat, UT responded to an early deficit and won due to their best offensive performance this season – Josh Dobbs, Tennessee’s QB, was seriously unleashed in the running game for the first time.
In a game that sort of flew under the national radar two weeks ago, Texas A&M defeated Mississippi State to remain undefeated – the Aggies are surprisingly 3-0 in conference play (the only other undefeated SEC West team is LSU) and the John Chavis hire looks like one of the best off-season coaching moves in the league this past spring.
Steve Spurrier retired – truly one of college football’s most iconic coaches. We’re gonna miss him.
[Hit the JUMP for more on the CFB landscape]
If you're looking for the MSU preview, scroll down or click here.
After Speaking with my Parents and Coaches, I am blessed to say, I have committed to The University of Michigan pic.twitter.com/nZa5jQELtD
— Kurt Taylor (@KurtTaylorRB2) October 16, 2015
Three-star 2017 Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor is the first commitment of what should be a busy recruiting weekend for Michigan. Taylor named the Wolverines as his leader when they offered him in August, had a great trip for the BYU game, and didn't need to wait until the Michigan State game to announce his commitment on his latest campus visit.
Taylor is the third Michigan commit in the 2017 class, joining tight end Carter Dunaway and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.
We're overstuffed with content today, so for now I'll post Taylor's rankings and highlights. A full Hello post will go up on Sunday.
|3* RB||3*, #19 RB||NR RB||
3*, 88, #24 RB,
3*, #35 RB,
All the sites save ESPN have Taylor ranked as a three-star, though he's within sniffing distance of four-star territory on 247 and Rivals.
Mid-season junior highlights:
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
I Love Four Plays. It's always a treat when EGD writes up a "Four Plays" diary. This is the thing where he takes two things Michigan does on offense and two things the opponent does, and shows how the matchups will go. One of M's bag of tricks is worth getting into a bit:
When Harbaugh debuted this particular fullback run against BYU, the H-back (Poggi) lined up right behind the right guard (Kalis); at the snap, Kalis went straight for the WLB and Poggi stepped up to kick out the DT. And wouldn’t you know it—here comes the left guard to lead the ballcarrier through the hole and hit the MLB, just like Power O. I kind of struggled with what to call this play; I might have done better just calling it “Inside Power.”
He gave the advantage to MSU here because State's DL is pretty powerful. I've watched a lot of their games this year and have an idea that Harbaugh's going to run something a bit different than this to take advantage of the hyperaggressiveness of State's NT, Malik McDowell. The DT is Joel Heath and he has a tendency to get sealed, but he's also huge, i.e. too much for Poggi to kick out. Rather I bet you Michigan traps their balls off. Poggi can give him a quick shove then go by, getting Heath feeling pretty good about their Michigan scouting for that half second before he eats Braden's trap. Poggi can help seal the SAM or find a safety, and we're in business.
[After the jump: where the weak are weak]
You’re excused if you had to rub your eyes and check the scoreboard to see if it really happened. Joe Kerridge is no stranger to big plays, but having them come on offense instead of special teams is novel. That’s not a condemnation of his talent, but rather a reminder that before this season these things just did not happen. Harbaugh called it heartwarming to see a fullback so productive; I call it fun. This offense may not be in the upper echelon yet, but it hasn’t taken that to befuddle opponents weekly. Northwestern stacked the box; the deep safety was eight yards off the line of scrimmage, and Kerridge busted through the line and ran past the edge defender- to the inside, no less!- before that guy even thought about the possibility of a fullback roaring past him.
The annular path of the day necessarily led back to more fun, with the game ending on the “defense” chant Brian already touched on. He talked about the pin-pricks on your scalp and the willful repression of suddenly building tears; you could feel that chant in your bones. It was the first time I’ve felt a true sense of unity with 110,000+ people in I don’t even know how long. Up in the press box we’re supposed to be isolated from that; the goal is to create a working environment, and while the free wi-fi and lack of line for the bathroom is great, the sacrifice is being able to get a good feel for the stadium environment. Not so at that moment. The chant clawed its way up the massive glass panels and poured in through the few open windows, the little rectangular ports of entry for external emotion. It enveloped us quickly and quietly, and in that moment I knew that even if things go south at some point this year we’ll have an emotional anchor to fall back on, our first real “remember when…” moment of the Harbaugh era.
Right now, though, there are no indicators that things are going to head south. Bill Connelly’s statistical profile projects Michigan as the winner of every remaining game. The offense, to borrow a favorite term of Jim Harbaugh’s, is ascending. The defense is ranked first nationally in S&P+. Some of the stats from both last week and cumulatively are, frankly, drool worthy. Statistics, like the press box, are designed to fuel orderly and controlled analysis. At least, that’s how they work in theory. Last Saturday was a different story.
[After THE JUMP: I’m running out of ways to hedge on this defense]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor. I'm late today so I'm just going to tell you that Matt's a good guy and did my loan and Seth's loan and everything was easy and professional. We are associating our name with his and that is something we are very comfortable with.
FORMATION NOTES: There was… nothing weird? Apparently not. Michigan did run different formations than they had much of the year, with a lot more ace sets and early-down gun. M was split about evenly between I-form of some type, ace, and shotgun.
Here is an offset I for some reason.
This has been your federally mandated pre-jump picture.
Oh, FWIW: this was NW's defense the whole day. 4-3 under for the most part with two rolled-up cover 4 safeties. The linebacker type guy to the bottom of the screen is actually a corner; NW has shifted the LBs to the field and are running an over on this snap.
PERSONNEL NOTES: OL and QB per usual the whole way. Kerridge returned at FB, getting most of the time in front of Houma. RB was a profusion of different guys. Smith early, then Higdon, Green, and a little bit of Isaac and Johnson. Those guys missed time for different reasons.
WR rotation was about as per usual except with more three-wide formations we saw significant amounts of Grant Perry for the first time since the opener. At this point it's clear the rotation this year is Darboh, Chesson, Ways, Harris, Canteen, and Perry. Canteen missed this game for an undisclosed reasons. (If Michigan is going six deep with three freshmen and no seniors, the writing is on the wall for guys not currently playing.)
[After THE JUMP: I drop bows on 'em? Ohhhhhhh probably short for elbows. Now I understand rapism.]
Previously: Michigan State Offense
Cackle with knowing glee if...
Let's cut to the chase: after watching MSU's defense allow six yards per play against Rutgers, my optimism hasn't abated.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
MSU's defense is as injury-riddled as their offense. Standout SAM Ed Davis is out for the year with a knee injury; safety RJ Williamson is out for the majority of the season; both starting corners are injured—if Darian Hicks can't go, which seems likely, Jermaine Edmonson will replace him and the backups will be true freshmen.
Base Set? 4-3 over. MSU will stay in their base for most of the game; it's rare for them to even bring on a nickel, which is fortunate for them given their personnel issues.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]