Over the last eight years, Michigan fans have been trained to expect the worst.
Let it be noted that at 2:04 this afternoon, with a half of football left to play, Brian told me to post muppets when the game ended.
To call this a dominant outing undersells Michigan's performance. The Wolverines outgained BYU 448-105. The Cougars eked past the century mark only on their last drive of the game; that represented their only drive that didn't end in a punt.
While the defense shut down BYU, the offense found their footing, scoring all 31 points in the first half on five consecutive drives. Amara Darboh did a spectacular Odell Beckham Jr. impression, then Jim Harbaugh dialed up a double fake screen to free up Khalid Hill up the seam to set up a three-yard touchdown scramble by Jake Rudock. Michigan went up 14-0 on a methodical 10-play, 90-yard drive capped by a short touchdown pass to Darboh.
The next scoring drive went a little quicker thanks to De'Veon Smith, who burrowed into a pile, popped out the other side, then threw a BYU defensive back to the ground in the open field for a 60-yard touchdown.
"I don't know what he did," said Rudock of Smith's run. "But whatever he did, I was hype and happy for him."
Smith finished with 125 yards on 16 carries before exiting early with an ankle injury. He said after the game he expects to play next week. Rudock had his best game as a Wolverine, going 14-for-25 for 194 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.
Another Rudock touchdown scramble, this one from 17 yards out, and a 40-yard Kenny Allen field goal capped off the scoring.
Meanwhile, the defense made BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum's life miserable. Mangum threw for only 55 yards on 28 attempts; his longest completion came on BYU's first drive when a should-be pick took a fortuitous bounce off Channing Stribling's hands. The cornerbacks played lockdown coverage when Mangum had time to throw, which was rare—Michigan recorded three sacks and had Mangum on the run all day. By the end of the game, he was bailing out of perfectly clean pockets.
BYU's top running back, Adam Hine, broke one carry outside for 29 yards and managed only four on his seven other carries. The Cougars finished with 2.1 yards per play. This may stand as Michigan's most impressive defensive performance since the vaunted 2006 unit, even when accounting for the freshman at quarterback.
It's okay to be encouraged. While BYU had more than their fair share of luck through three games, nobody—not even ninth-ranked UCLA—made them look remotely this inept. The same team that put up 405 yards on the Bruins last week only managed a hundred today because Michigan's backups couldn't run out the clock.
"I had a couple occasions to look up and go 'this is good,'" said Harbaugh.
He was far from alone in that regard.
Michigan total yards: 448
BYU total yards: 105
Yes, this calls for muppets.
And you can't have one without the other...
Game recap will be up as soon as I comprehend what I just saw.
By Heiko Yang
Interesting matchup today.
Michigan’s head coach coached in a Super Bowl; BYU’s head coach sounds like he was named at a Super Bowl. Michigan’s quarterback can’t throw farther than 10 yards downfield; BYU’s quarterback throws Hail Marys like he’s excited about the Pope visiting. BYU likes to hit people in the balls; Michigan … Michigan understands that ball security is important.
Balls aside, the Wolverines really need to win, especially from a philosophical standpoint. The trajectory of each team over the last few games makes for a very Aesopian scenario: one team that’s been diligently chipping away at a giant rock is pitted against a team that’s just flinging dynamite in every direction. (Just to clarify, the rock in this case represents winning, not Penn State. (More specifically, turning the rock into something impressive like the Statue of David represents winning, because why would you want to chip away at winning? (You want to chip away the obstacles to winning, so maybe the rock itself in its raw form represents a conglomeration of obstacles (maybe the rock is Penn State after all.))))
The moral of the story should be something along the lines of “slow, steady, and safe wins the race and is also better than sorry.”
Except I’m kind of worried by this whole dynamite analogy now. It only works in Michigan’s favor if we’re talking about the long term. If the goal here is to turn Penn State into the Statue of David (just go with it), it really is much safer to use a chisel since David has some delicate features (balls) that could get destroyed by dynamite. Plus you might injure yourself and whoever else happens to be in the vicinity. In BYU’s case that already happened to Nebraska and Boise – UCLA almost fell victim – and now Michigan is the next victim at risk, even though this entire time it has been busy chiseling and minding its own business and protecting its balls.
Michigan will hopefully end the season with a winning record more closely resembling David than the pile of rubble and limbs BYU will end up with, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll survive its encounter with BYU without harm.
Anyway, the moral of the story here is “don’t play with explosives.” Also don’t get carried away with analogies.
BYU 19, Michigan 17.
by Nick RoUMel
My dad always referred to the BYU football team as the “clean livers.” The school has been long famous for their LDS (Mormon) church-centered honor code that requires “chaste and virtuous life,” clean language, and abstention from all manner of substances includes drugs, alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. Coca-Cola is supposedly permitted, but not sold on campus. Easy to see why they are the #1 “stone cold sober” campus 14 years running by the Princeton Review.
Perhaps the ban on premarital sex has led to a marriage rate five times the national average (more than half of students are married by graduation). Or maybe that has something to do with promotion of a family culture, as well as the greater maturity of students. Nearly all male undergraduates undertake a two-year mission trip before graduation. Then they marry somebody like Marie Osmond.
When you Google “Marie Osmond cheesecake images”…
You actually get images of her cheesecake recipe. Now that’s wholesome.
One of these man-child undergraduates is BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, a 22 year “freshman” who is fresh off a missionary trip to Chile. He graduated from high school in Idaho in 2012, and was ranked the third best pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals. I suspect he tossed a few footballs around with the natives during his mission, because he’s flung the rock pretty well in wins against Nebraska and Boise State, and during the narrow loss at UCLA. This is a school that’s produced quarterbacks like Steve Young, Ty Detmer and Jim McMahon, and Mangum is in the same mold - an excellent passer who’s also dangerously mobile – who can do it all without caffeine.
It surprises me that Michigan is favored. Mangum will be the best quarterback they’ve faced all year, and can only be contained, not stopped. It will be no surprise that Coach Harbaugh will try to keep the ball out of his hands with a conservative, run-oriented offense, and hope that Mr. Rudock and company reduce turnovers.
Fans may remember 1984, when BYU finished the regular season as the only undefeated D-1 team, but as a WAC team back then, were contractually obligated to play in the Holiday Bowl. While teams detracted their soft schedule and right to the title, nobody wanted to play them except for a mediocre 6-5 Michigan team. The Wolverines led in the fourth quarter but the Cougars’ defense stiffened, allowing injured QB Robbie Bosco to lead the offense to two scores for a 24-17 victory.
Pollsters reluctantly voted BYU #1 in the nation, but critics still denounced them. The next year they beat Boston College (#4 in 1984) and trounced a Washington team that many thought should have been atop the polls the previous year instead of BYU, by a score of 31-3.
The Cougars have maintained their excellence. They have more victories in the last 40 years than Michigan. The first four games of their schedule this year are as challenging as anyone’s. The oddsmakers’ logic to favor Michigan is puzzling, and must give great weight to the home field advantage.
Heiko has picked a narrow BYU victory. I cannot bring myself to disagree. My hope for Michigan this year under our new coach was that we would be competitive in every game, improve over the season, and position ourselves to return to the top level of college football within a few years. I don’t think we are quite there yet.
The “clean livers” prevail, but you won’t see images like this back in Provo:
Sorry, but when you Google “Mormon couch burning images,” you actually get this.
BYU 28, MICHIGAN 21
Listen, you loblollies. That song is called "Temptation." It is the "one" of "you can't have one without the other". When Michigan's defense forces a fourth down, the Michigan Marching Band will play this song, because our fancy endzone is just there on the other side of our defense, and they will not get the ball there. Temptation.
When they play this you may sway your arms to motion the ball going to the other side. You may make a Wolverine Claw. You may sing the lyrics if you know them. If you don't know them you may make up lyrics:
You drove, to your 39.
Your blocking was fine
your passes not really.
You now, should punt away.
Ignore what they say
4th and 1 is "punt" clearly.
You may not call it the "You Suck cheer!" Just stop saying "You Suck" at the end of it. MMB's tradition is clever. If you don't get the joke just pretend like you do. There are rules. Speaking of rules:
I love Four Plays. I've told you how much I love Four Plays. I love Four Plays.
Contemporary offenses have added one final modern wrinkle to counter the slow-developing nature of these toss sweeps: the crack block. By aligning two blockers to the outside and having them crack-back to seal the playside linebacker and defensive end, the sweep hits much more quickly and gives the pulling linemen favorable blocking matchups—usually against defensive backs. And while the outside blockers—usually tight ends and wide receivers—are usually much smaller than the opponents they are tasked with blocking, this size disadvantage is compensated for by “leverage”—that is, favorable angles for the offensive players to make those blocks.
The question after last week regarding Michigan's offense was what is Michigan going to do when the opponent is stacking the middle and we're NOT content to run into that anyway because UNLV is bad at football. This is exactly the sort of thing I would guess is coming. And we've seen some motions to set this up already, although with Chesson the crack-man, not Darboh.
Will it work? I'm not counting on it unless the defense is heavily cheating inside. Michigan's receivers have missed blocks, Mason Cole is not good in open space yet, and Sione Houma is not the blocker Kerridge is. Any one of those blocks going badly will end this play in the backfield.
That's my only disagreement. I love Four Plays.
[After the jump, punts flyin, Rutgers cryin', Mud Bowl dyin', bloggers fryin', ]
|WHAT||BYU at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 26th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –6.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid 70s
0% chance of rain
BYU is simultaneously this year's luckiest and most cursed team. They've won two games on Hail Marys (or close enough, anyway). They've lost their starting QB, NT, RB, and TE—and the former two are the best players on the team.
What's left over isn't nearly as intimidating as BYU looked in the middle of summer, but neither are the Cougars suddenly bad. Last week they baffled Josh Rosen into three picks and a horrible day as they nearly upset UCLA; to be in position to win against Nebraska and Boise State with Hail Marys you have to be rather close.
Run Offense vs BYU
Tuiloma's health is in doubt
Much depends on the health of monster BYU nose tackle Travis Tuiloma, who was knocked out of the Nebraska game with a knee injury and expected to miss 4-6 weeks. There have been rumblings about a return, and rumblings that such chatter was hopeful at best. The latest as of press time is "dunno." Most of the optimism seems to have come from Tuiloma himself on twitter. All else has been vague save for this potentially revealing slip-up from one of his DL teammates on Tuesday:
Peck talked as if nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) won't play, and said the Cougars "will definitely miss Travis" in a game like this.
Tuiloma is a future pro and BYU has both coped and suffered without him. Nebraska's ground game went from nonexistent to extant once he left, and while the Cougars shut Boise State down they just got ripped for just under 300 yards at 7.8(!) yards a pop by UCLA.
Bronco Mendenhall was not pleased in the aftermath:
"Yeah, obviously everyone knows there has been a big issue with tackling. In coach Mendenhall's words, he calls this week a bloodbath. That is kind of what practice was," Peck said. "Wrapping up and bringing the scout team guys to the ground — not just wrapping up. And so there is an emphasis on tackling, and hopefully we will be able to get better at it this week."
BYU's 3-4 is one of those ever-morphing, slant-heavy, pretty-much-a-3-3-5 setups. They will seek to offset a size discrepancy by putting surprising guys in surprising gaps and hope to get to Michigan's tailbacks before they build up a head of steam. Tuiloma makes that job so much easier because he is virtually impossible to deal with one on one; without him they're much more susceptible to getting gashed when teams deal with their blitzes.
How BYU will react to Michigan's offense is a mystery. They've only faced spread teams to date, and they are decidedly small overall. Both starting OLBs are 230; they don't have an ILB who cracks 235; without Tuiloma they don't have a 300-pounder on the line. That's a bit of a problem when you are running a straight-up 3-4.
That sounds inviting for De'Veon Smith. If Smith can get past the first wave of defenders these are gentlemen who bounced off much smaller UCLA backs last week and project to do the same when Smith contacts them. Michigan has been repping and repping and repping against nine and even ten man fronts the last week, gradually showing more and more of the weird stuff Harbaugh mixes into bust big plays against stacked boxes. This will be a test, as BYU is well short of Utah in the front seven but well past Michigan's other two opponents.
KEY MATCHUP: Michigan Pullers and Tailbacks versus Wacky Slant Blitzes. Michigan's had opportunities to bust long plays against defenses that are sending guys all over; to date they have not quite gotten there. Either the tailback isn't seeing it or one block is getting messed up; if Michigan hits it right they should get motion on various guys on the front.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE GUN SHOW, OR GNU SHOW. WHATEVER.]
Hello Chaos, My Dear Friend
Even though September football is typically little more than an amuse bouche for most teams – save for the Gigantic Huge Critical Games between well-regarded opponents from different conferences – we were given a memorable night of football last Saturday, a stark departure from the mostly inconsequential games of the season’s first two weeks.
Week Three gave us a little clarity. The most important result was Ole Miss’s improbable road upset of mighty Alabama – after two weeks of feasting on cupcakes, the Rebels rode that sugar high to a big win, and threw Bama’s national title hopes into early peril. That the Tide somehow gave away five turnovers, conceded one of the most ludicrous touchdown passes you’ll ever see, and still had the ball with a chance to win probably speaks well to how good the Tide are – but they still lost and Ole Miss is now the presumed favorite in the SEC West.
Along with Alabama, who was projected by many to make the playoff, USC suffered a home loss early in conference play to disabuse the notion that everything is going fine under Steve Sarkisian. Stanford put up 41 points on the Trojans after looking completely inept on offense in Week One against Northwestern. Is USC just terrible? Did Stanford tell us that they’re secretly good? Is Northwestern a burgeoning powerhouse? We still don’t know much of anything other than that USC likely didn’t deserve their lofty preseason ranking and that Stanford could make the Pac-12 North very interesting.
Elsewhere: Iowa hit a 57-yard field goal to beat Pitt, Texas missed a PAT that would have capped a 21-point fourth quarter comeback (and lost to Cal by one), Texas Tech took the fight to Arkansas and talked some shit afterwards, Toledo beat another Power Five team (Iowa State), Colorado beat Colorado State in overtime because of a blocked field goal attempt, and BYU’s magic ran out as they lost to UCLA by one point. All of those games happened in one TV window. College football is ridiculous.
[After the jump, more on the CFB world]