Peppers at 10, which seems low.
11/30/2014 – Michigan 28, OSU 42 – 5-7, 3-5 Big Ten
In one of last year's season preview posts I wondered if Michigan was going to end up on the wrong side of the war after Hoke's hire. I got piles of crap for this take from people waving Stanford anecdotes around. I think a lot of people read "pro style can't work" when what I'm saying is "it's clearly less likely to." I'm not going to turn my nose up at Jim Harbaugh no matter what he wants to run. Wing-T? Yes, sir.
Anyway: the crux of that argument was that if you think running a spread makes your defense soft when you have to play Wisconsin, the corollary to that is that if you're not preparing for spread elements daily you will struggle when you go up against them. For the most part this held true during the Hoke era (if I say "tempo" you will dive under a couch), and never more so than against OSU.
Statistically, Michigan has had a defense somewhere between good and terrific under Greg Mattison. Ohio State looks at that and says naw:
- 2011: 34 points, 376 yards, about two feet from another 70 yards and game-winning points.
- 2012: 26 points, 396 yards. A decent performance, year one of Meyer.
- 2013: 42 points, 526 yards. An obliteration.
- 2014: 42 points, 416 yards. Seven of those points are via a defensive TD.
These were all slow games featuring a lot of running and a lot of Michigan dawdling. This year's version of The Game had just nine OSU possessions, which is the practical minimum. Anything played at a Pac 12 pace would have been ugly.
Michigan had a vaguely acceptable performance once in four years, and two of those games featured freshman OSU quarterbacks who weren't even supposed to be the starter preseason. Hell, this game featured an eighty yard drive led by the third string QB.
The whole "Big Boy Football" thing is all the more galling since OSU has consistently ground Michigan into paste without bothering to throw the ball much. OSU QBs have thrown an average of 20.5 passes against Michigan in the Hoke era, and I'd guess about a half of those were screens and easy stuff in the flat. With most of the rest downfield bombs, OSU's offense avoids turnovers while simultaneously being lethally efficient. If the spread does get your QBs hurt more often—something that's been hard to confirm with numbers—that's not something that has affected Ohio State. Cardale Jones came in and sealed the game.
OSU is running twice as much as they're passing against Michigan and averaging 6.1 yards a carry. These are Rodriguez-at-WVU type stats, the kind that blew me away when I was looking at his track record after his hire.
The funny thing about the Danielsons of the world is that they're old school RUN THE DANG BALL types, but they manage to sidestep the fact that forcing the defense to account for a running quarterback is the best way to run the ball. I can think of no better way to make this point than a chart from back in 2008 that compared Michigan's YPC in year one of Rodriguez to the previous seven years of Lloyd Carr:
Threet and Sheridan and no linemen and they still ended up above average. Michigan would easily top 2006 from 2009 to 2012. Lloyd Carr could talk about running the ball. His teams couldn't do it, at least not well.
I want to run the ball. I want to run an offense that doesn't ask the QB to make complicated reads, but rather asks him to make a decision about one guy. Hoke was a mistake for a thousand reasons, but prime amongst them was his "we're gonna run power" crap after he'd never been able to do that anywhere else.
Michigan spent the 2011 game running the inverted veer wrong and they still put up 40; that this had no impact on his approach speaks volumes about Hoke's lack of quality as a coach. Bo made the shift to a modern passing offense when he had to. Saban is grudgingly moving in that direction: I was watching the Iron Bowl on Saturday and Herbstreit made multiple references to how Alabama was now a no-huddle team. They found themselves down multiple scores in the second half and ripped off five straight TDs in short order.
The game moves; move with it or die. Michigan chose hidebound traditionalism on the field and whiz-bang idiot modernism in the pageantry. The former is a natural reaction after you get burned. The latter is a natural consequence of hiring a pizza marketer.
But can we learn? I would like to learn. Rich Rodriguez blew it here, and he learned. He dumped his defensive staff, got Jeff Casteel back, and is headed to the Pac-12 championship game with a freshman QB after having beaten Oregon in back-to-back years. This is our opportunity to do something right this time.
Unfortunately, Michigan's current coaching staff is going on recruiting visits today when they should be taking a day with a bottle of scotch before polishing up the old resume. I have no idea what they're supposed to say on these visits.
RECRUIT: Aren't you guys getting fired?
COACH: Almost certainly.
RECRUIT: So why are you here?
COACH: I'm like a corpse still twitching. Held in this hellish no-place, I pine for my soul's release and reincarnation as the offensive coordinator at a D-II school.
COACH: You said it.
Florida knows what's going on; Tulsa knows what's going on; Illinois knows what's going on. Michigan doesn't. Comparisons to Nebraska are invalid. Michigan's not 9-3, and no one is going to be blindsided by Hoke getting axed.
Poke the Russia Today outlet in the Michigan e-sphere and you'll hear that it's about Doing Right By The Staff and that it's about Keeping The Pressure Off Harbaugh; neither of these explanations make any sense. That coach doesn't want to be on that visit. He wants to be looking for another job. Harbaugh speculation does not start with, or even focus on, Michigan in NFL circles.
I can't see a reason to drag it out, but here we are, dragging it out. The guy in charge may be competent but he has no track record. We're stuck here hoping this guy is actually qualified and that things turn out for the best. Maybe it will. Forgive me if I have a tendency to look on everything this department does as a mistake.
That's' going to be a tough habit to break, but here's a suggestion: act like a collection of people instead of a committee for once and acknowledge that there's no good way for this to go down. The first major Brandon warning sign was when he infamously took two days of meetings to fire Rich Rodriguez when that was a fait accompli.
[After THE JUMP: offensive line ups and downs, clock lol, etc.]
Funchess - Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog
Canteen - Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog
For the second straight year, a plucky Michigan squad that had no business hanging with a powerful Ohio State outfit did just that.
Unlike last year, however, the Wolverines couldn't stay in it until the bitter end. Despite the best efforts of Devin Gardner, Devin Funchess, Drake Johnson, and the defense, Ohio State pulled away late. The backbreaker came on a fourth-and-one touchdown run from midfield by Buckeye running back Ezekiel Elliott, who burst through the left side of the line and sprinted 44 yards untouched to the end zone, giving OSU a 35-21 lead. Any hopes beyond that were dashed when Joey Bosa stripped Gardner and Darron Lee returned the fumble 33 yards for the final Buckeye score.
The Wolverines played much better than expected, especially considering the disastrous start to this game, an ugly Gardner pick that led to a swift six-play touchdown drive for the home team. Michigan struck back; a long completion from Gardner to Funchess beget a touchdown pass to Jake Butt when the Buckeyes blew a coverage.
Michigan took the lead on a Drake Johnson scoring plunge, but OSU returned the favor mere seconds before the half on a JT Barrett scramble; the rivals headed into the half knotted at 14, to the surprise of all but the most paranoid (and, for the second straight year, prescient) Buckeye backers.
The teams traded rushing touchdowns early in the second half before the game's most lasting and terrible moment occurred. Barrett was folded back by a couple M defenders and suffered what appeared to be a severe ankle injury; he exited on a cart after receiving words and gestures of support from both sides, including a touching moment between him and Gardner.
Cardale Jones replaced Barrett, and while he wasn't as effective, he didn't have to be after Elliott's scoring dash. Michigan added a final, highlight-worthy score on a pass from Gardner to a toe-tapping Freddy Canteen, but it was too little, too late.
That sums up today for Brady Hoke, as well. Even if Michigan had managed to pull this out, it's hard to imagine he would've been retained for making a late-December bowl game; with the loss, his fate appears sealed. His final season goes into the record books at 5-7, with M going 3-5 in the Big Ten for the second straight year.
Fire up FlightTracker. The Harbaugh vigil now begins in earnest.
By Heiko "4 AD" Yang
FIVE BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN BETWEEN NOON AND 3:30 TODAY:
1. Michigan has a negative play that results in positive yardage. Sometimes you have to go back in order to actually move forw–
/punches own dong.
Ow. Ohio State has this guy named Joey Bosa. He’s really good, we all know this. Probably at some point in the game he’s going to blow by Michigan’s freshman left tackle and cause someone in the Michigan backfield to explode into a million pieces. The play will be flagged for unnecessary roughness, and Michigan will gain 15 yards on the penalty and double their total offensive output for the half. It will be a pyrrhic victory.
2. Urban Meyer outsmarts himself. Calls time-out during Michigan’s two-minute drill; instructs punt returners to signal fair catch; double-covers Funchess in the red zone; huddles.
3. Ohio State’s efforts to enhance their CoFoPoff considerations are in vain. There are no style points to be gained when you end your regular season against a team that got blanked by the team that lost at home in overtime to the team that got torched 48-7 by the team that lost to the team that gave up 581 rush yards to the team that lost to the team that lost the M00N game. I have no idea where I ended up going with this. Did Michigan and Northwestern each appear in this twice? Yes. Yes they did.
4. One unsportsmanlike penalty is awarded. Mike Slive, for taunting.
5. Brady Hoke wears a headset. It’s plugged into his phone, and it’s playing Hall and Oates.
- “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” – While releasing depth chart.
- “I Can’t Go For that” – 4th-and-1 on the OSU 30.
- “Did It In A Minute” – Getting the offense to the line of scrimmage.
- “Possession Obsession” – See previous.
- “Maneater” – Joey Bosa sack/TFL.
- “So Close” – 21-point deficit.
- “I’ll Be Around” – December.
Michigan 13 Ohio State 21
by Nick RoUMel
One competitor comes into this contest with a 5-6 record, especially struggling as the season has worn on. The other, after a rocky start, has turned it up a notch – really getting into the groove in the last month.
On paper it seems no contest. But as the cliché goes, where there is a fierce rivalry, anything can happen.
We are not talking about Michigan-Ohio State. This is about Punt-Counterpunt.
The heart of this column, in the decades it has run, has been about the accuracy of prediction. Whether Dave “Original Punt” DeVarti, Jeff “Original Counterpunt” Gourdji, Ken “Sky/Punt Classic” Walker, Heiko “4 AD/New Punt,” or yours truly, we do strive to nail the outcome and final score.
For 2014, the upstart at the top of this column has failed miserably. After cruising through the early season with four straight outcome predictions, Heiko barely managed to call the winner of the Indiana game correctly. Perhaps it was the concussion he suffered playing softball that affected him, but despite his incredible brains, winning personality, and medical school success, Heiko would be lucky to pick the winner in a game of solitaire.
Enter Counterpunt, the reincarnation of Nostradamus. Yes, I started 2-3; and both of us failed to see the cluster**** that was Minnesota. But where Heiko has since reeled, I have picked four straight, almost nailing each score. Season records:
|Rutgers||24-26||34-10||*no prediction||*Brandon protest|
|MSU||11-35||21-17||*17-31||*Punt Classic’s guest column; Heiko smoking crack|
|RECORD||5-6||5-6||*6-3||*C-Punt not taking credit for guest column|
On one point both Punt and I will agree: this has been a very difficult season to entertain our readers. A perfect storm of calamities has made this perhaps the most awful season in Michigan football history –not necessarily by record, but for reasons well known to our readers that need not be recounted. Suffice to say it’s hard to be funny when your loved one is lying in a hospital bed, in critical condition, writhing in painful agony, with only the faint hope of a miracle cure.
No miracles today, I’m afraid. But we’ll see you next year, with sharpened pencils and renewed optimism. May the best prognosticator win, and one more thing:
Forever and always, Go Blue.
Ohio State 35, Michigan 6
|WHAT||Michigan vs Ohio State|
November 29th, 2014
|THE LINE||OSU –20.5|
|WEATHER||mid 40s, slight chance of rain, 10 mph wind|
Uh, Ohio State is going to win the division and probably the league. They have put hurtings on everyone they've faced after the VT game except Penn State, when JT Barrett was overwhelmed by a legit-elite D, and Indiana, when they got all of the bad luck they might have deployed against M out of their system. And then they put up four straight touchdowns to run away with that game anyway.
Run Offense vs Ohio State
it would be nice if Tevin Coleman walked through that door
After much of a season charitably described as "rough," this facet of Michigan's offense has edged towards extant recently. P5 opponents, with reasonable performances highlighted:
|@ Notre Dame||35||100||2.86||0|
|@ 10 Michigan St.||26||61||2.35||1|
Fake punt last week removed
Unfortunately this looks a lot like Michigan finding bad competition more frequently than serious improvement. The four highlighted games are against the #14, 11, 9, and 5 rush defenses in the league, and Northwestern—the only above-average unit there—is being propped up by games against Purdue and their ilk. Michigan's 4.2 YPC was better only than Penn State, Purdue, and oddly Minnesota amongst Wildcat B10+ND opponents.
Michigan's recent performances may or may not be real improvement.
It does feel like the offensive line has been getting more cohesive over the last few games. Michigan bashed in the Maryland front in a way M fans haven't seen since David Molk was scowling in the middle of the line; a large part of the Drake Johnson hype is because his carries have been behind the improving line (and against bad defenses).
OSU comes in with a weird statistical profile. Ignore the opener against Navy (63 carries for 370) yards and you've still got wildly varying performances. Penn State got 16 yards total; MSU and Minnesota both ground out around five yards a carry. Last week Tevin Coleman had a 200-yard game featuring two enormously long touchdowns and 3.4 YPC otherwise.
This makes sense if your model of the OSU defense is a ton of talent that's rather confused. The OSU DL has lived up to the hype, for the most part, this year; the back seven has been rotating through linebackers trying to find either 1) a veteran who can play or 2) a freshman who knows what he's doing. They have not been very successful at either.
Junior Josh Perry is the closest thing to a stalwart at LB. He's the Buckeyes' leading tackler; #2 and #3 are the starting safeties—this is generally not a good sign. Two of the next three linebackers on the list are freshmen, with Darron Lee outpacing the highly touted Raekwon McMillan so far; the other is perpetual OSU fan whipping boy Curtis Grant. OSU fans are pretty much right about this; Grant has not had anywhere near the impact he was supposed to out of high school and has continued to play by default. The LB corps is middling at best. They make a lot of TFLs; they fail to show up in the right place too often.
The same cannot be said for the defensive line, which features four guys with at least 6 TFL. Joey Bosa leads the way with 18(!), 11.5(!) of which are sacks. NT Michael Bennett is on his way to a high position in the next NFL draft; Adolphus Washington is now a DT after beating Taylor Lewan as a freshman for one of the only sacks Lewan gave up at Michigan; Steve Miller has been an able plugger with the absence of the suspended Noah Spence. Occasionally they'll get out of a lane; this is going to be a much stiffer test for M than they've had recently.
Meanwhile, OSU safeties have been trying to emulate MSU's with dubious success; they've backed off of late. OSU is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to long scrimmage plays of all varieties; their cover 4 has evolved into a less aggressive version over the season.
Key Matchup: The interior line versus Bennett and Washington. M will have to run away from or chip-double Bosa much of the day; the interior line will not have such luxuries. They might be up for it… but probably not.
[Hit THE JUMP for bad news everybody.]
There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.
As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.
That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.
The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.
Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.
[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]