chance of bowl: 13.6%
[DATELINE: THE BURNED OUT HULK THAT USED TO BE ANN ARBOR.]
CONNECTION SHAKY. MASS PANIC AND RIOTS. WHOLE FOODS RAIDED. SINGLE ENDIVE LEAF ALL THAT REMAINS. ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT BUNKERED IN WHAT IS LITERALLY FORT SCHEMBECHLER NOW. TAKING POTSHOTS AT PASSERS-BY THEY CLAIM ARE ZOMBIES. SOME ARE. SOME.
SEND DVDS OF 1997 SEASON. ALSO WATER.
IF… IF I DON'T MAKE IT TELL CHARLES WOODSON I LOVE HIM.
I kid you not, GIS for "looting" and this guy in an off-brand Michigan jersey shows up
Let me know when I should start panicking. I am ready at your command.
Okay this is where I'm at. I've got a go bag ready. Passports, about 10k in cash, various fake mustaches and sunglasses. I'm up do date on all my vaccines. Are you up to date on your vaccines? I can be in Laos in 15 hours, never to be seen again. Rumors of the white tiger of the jungle will flourish. I will become known only in song and legend.
BUT: note that I am not already in Laos. I am sticking around to see what this season has in store, because weird things happen against Notre Dame and—and bear with me here—this game actually felt much less bad than some hammerings from last year. There are some obvious problems at cornerback and Gardner has to play better but when things went wrong it was mostly one thing going wrong, not eight. So it might get fixed. There is no reason to demand a coaching change right now. Let the season play out and see what happens. If Michigan does catch fire in the crappy Big Ten this game will be a footnote.
Meanwhile, there's no reason to assume a coaching change is coming unless you're literally 75% of my inbox…
A true Michigan Man keeps his promises about the Austro-Hungarian Empire circa July 1914.
You may recall that I said I would never write to you about Michigan football again after the BW3 Bowl and my comparison of Michigan football to the Austro-Hungarian Empire circa July 1914. Since the last part is still true, I won’t make this long. But your entry today about coaching prospects caused me to think about my second school (the Syracuse Orange).
Here are a LOT of assumptions, but (a) assuming the tire fire rages, (b) Hoke is fired, (c) none of the few big names worth watching (i.e., Miles, the Harbros) is/are available, and (d) Syracuse goes 8-5 or better again this year with a mid to late-December victory, what about a guy like Scott Schafer? He’s in his mid-40s. He runs an attacking style defense. He’s from the Midwest. He favors an up-tempo offense. He has to coach against Clemson, FSU, Louisville (and ND this year). He picked up the pieces after Doug Marrone ran off to the NFL with half of his coaching staff last year.
Might he be someone to watch? I know the experience as Rich Rod’s DC did not work out. But given his success running the defense at SU (particularly following GROB), that seems like it was more an issue of Rodriguez trying to make him run a defense he didn’t want to run. He left with grace and took the blame that may not have been 100% his.
Just a thought – I’m grasping at straws . . .
Syr. Law ‘88
I don't think Shafer has a track record to get excited about. He did improve the Syracuse defense upon his arrival but he hit a ceiling pretty quick. FEI rankings for his defenses at 'Cuse:
2013: 65th (as head coach)
In FEI there are a lot of schedule adjustments so 39th isn't nearly as good as it is in straight yardage rankings. Meanwhile he'd have two years of head coaching experience, the first a 7-6 season, and the second an 8-5 one. I liked Shafer and know for a fact he got a raw deal from Rodriguez's defensive assistants, and then Rodriguez himself. But even if you don't hold that against him his resume is thin.
He is a guy to track, since he is a poachable head coach not in the MAC. That he's worth tracking is a good summation of the available talent this year.
[After The JUMP: I REGRET TO INFORM YOU YOU WILL NOT STOP DRINKING.]
How last week shoud have ended.
So: do we panic? Where is the 2014 season now on a scale of imminent raptor* attack?
- "What species is this?" "It's a velocirapator." "You bred raptors?"
- "They were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically. They remember."
- This jello is shaking. Hey is that a shadow?
- Oh it's just Samuel L. Jackson's arm. Wait, why isn't it attached...
- "Clever girl"
I really don't want to overreact to one game, especially a Michigan-Notre Dame game, as I think we've all learned that series is about as predictive as a dart-throwing monkey. Plus, this game had an especially bizarre box score—Michigan outgained Notre Dame! In a 31-0 loss! The run defense kicked ass! So I'm defaulting to a three because, yes, there are serious concerns—not finding a way to score on a defense that had multiple coverage busts against Rice, for instance—but the schedule remains manageable and it's not like the Big Ten as a whole impressed last weekend.
The big concern, to me, is that this team couldn't do two of the things they spent much of the offseason talking about: breaking the huddle on offense with enough time to properly survey the defense and successfully playing press man in the secondary. The good news: these are things than can improve, especially for a still-young team that's learning new schemes on both sides of the ball. The bad news: man, did I expect both areas to look a lot better than that.
Plus, there were those positive signs. The offensive line looks... not terrible? Let's go with not terrible. The defensive front seven appears to be quite good. If Matt Wile can keep his plant foot planted and Michigan jumps on that muffed punt—HEY A SPREAD PUNT WOULD BE NICE I'M SURE YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS HERE BEFORE—that game could play out very differently. We're not staring a velociraptor in the eyes. Not yet, at least.
This could be a one-game anomaly, because Michigan/ND, above all else, is freakin' weird. This could be a sign of very bad things to come if the secondary doesn't shore the man coverage and Gardner continues to look that skittish. This is me throwing up my hands and saying I don't know why the jello is shaking so much.
[after the jump, must go faster]
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Dennis Norfleet
Could you guys talk about the receivers as a group beyond Devin Funchess and what you guys feel like you can give to this team?
Dennis Norfleet: “We’ve become one. Everybody expects everything from one another. We do things as a group so when one makes a play we all make a play. That’s how coach Heck[linski]’s got us and that’s how we’re going to remain throughout the year.”
Dennis, what’s your perception on how people perceive you? Is it as a big play guy, someone who can score at a moment’s notice or are you much more than an explosive player? What else can you bring to the table other than that lightning quickness?
DN: “My role on the team…I know that I’m a guy that can bring spark and that makes everybody happy so I’m just being the teammate that can get everybody going [and] to bring fire. That’s what I do. So if I can continue on doing that to get everybody to be happy and to let them know that the game can go our way at any time then that’s what I can do.”
Frank or Jake, you guys seemed to find more success stopping the run as opposed to getting to the pass. Is that just something that Golson might have been doing differently or that you guys were more prepared for with the run?
Jake Ryan: “That’s just something that we’ve got to work on, the pass game, more. Creating havoc for the quarterback. The run game we played pretty well but we’ve also got to focus on the pass game. Getting more blitzes in and getting more guys to the quarterback is really going to create a different atmosphere for him and create havoc for him.”
[More after THE JUMP]
This has been in the rumble stages for a month or so now, but this is the first mention from an actual reporter in the wild:
— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) September 9, 2014
They are "working on dates" that are a decade out, so don't book your plane tickets yet. If this comes to fruition it would be the first games Brandon has booked in the aftermath of Notre Dame's cancellation of the series that come close to the wow factor ND provides.
Jon Daniel Runyan
I missed this last week, but it's a must-read; MaxPreps' Joseph Santoliquito wrote an excellent feature on Jon Daniel Runyan (you may know him as Jon Runyan Jr.) becoming his own man on and off the field:
"Playing football is something I liked, but something that I didn't really love until the last few years I'd say," Jon Daniel admitted. "I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm not my father. That's motivated me. I know who I am. Growing up, I did want to play football because my dad played. It's nothing my parents pushed me to do. It's something I wanted to do. I think it's why I put more pressure on myself than my parents do. I want to be the best. The goal one day is to play in the NFL. To do that, my father always tells me, you have to put everything into it."
Football is not all Jon Daniel plunges added effort into. He maintains a 3.0 GPA at Prep, one of the most academically demanding schools in the Philadelphia area. He's done it through hard work, diligence and with dyslexia, which his father also has.
In his formative years, Jon Daniel had comprehension challenges; auditory processing challenges. In grade school, teachers wanted to place limits on him, telling the Runyans that Jon Daniel couldn't handle a high academic environment.
Jon and Loretta ended that.
You're highly encouraged to read the whole thing.
As for commit updates from last weekend, Brandon Brown has you covered with a free roundup at The Wolverine. Standouts included Alex Malzone, who completed 7/9 passes for 119 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in a blowout win that was called at halftime due to lightning, and Mike Weber, who had a rather efficient 90 yards and a score on just two carries in a comfortable win for Cass Tech.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and several top 2016 prospects.]
“Well, let’s get right to it. Obviously disappointed that we didn’t win the football game and disappointed that we didn’t do a couple of things better on defense and we’ve got to work about correcting those right now. Our players came in with a great attitude and we as coaches I think have a great attitude and that’s one bump in the road that we have to get over and go to the next one.”
I’m sure there are a few things on your list but is not forcing turnovers to this point pretty high up there?
“Yeah. The thing about that football game, and I felt it on the sidelines- I don’t know if ever you played against a good opponent where you held them to fifty-some yards rushing, and usually those stats can be misled, but not when a team rushes thirty times or twenty-some times for fifty yards. That part of it you said, ‘Hey, we’re fine here.’ The thing that we didn’t do that we have to is the same thing we didn’t do in the first game: we’ve got to play better red zone defense. That’s really hurt us. We have to, when we get down in the red zone, and all it takes when you get down in the red zone is one bad play and that’s gotten us. I think in the red zone we went to third down one time, they scored. Next time it was fourth down. That makes a whole difference in a ball game.
“The other thing is we’ve got to get turnovers. That’s hurting our team and that was a big emphasis for us. And I think the other thing that we didn’t live up to what I expected us to was third downs. The stats, they’re misleading again. What were they? Eight- or seven-for-fifteen? They hit some really crucial third downs in the first half and, you know, third down is third down. You get it, you get it. And there’s a couple [where] the guy’s feet…just perfect throw, perfect catch. But that doesn’t matter. You have to stop them on third down to be a great defense. Those are three places that we have to get better and for us as a team our defense needs to do that and we didn’t.”
How much, if any, concern about pass rush is neutered by the fact that they were getting the ball out so quickly?
“Yeah, I thought our pass rush- watching the tape we had some guys that were doing some pretty darn good things and the ball was coming out really quick which is, again, I’ll say that that’s concerning because that’s like last year. I felt we’d have a little tighter coverage to be able to stop that when the pressure got close and he threw some in there. Again, we’ve got to keep working on it. I thought our pass rush, I thought our guys came after him pretty good and worked really hard up front to try and get to him. We didn’t get sacks. We didn’t get as many sacks. That quarterback probably played the best game of his life. He played good. He’s a good player, you know. I give that to him and that’s one of the reasons for the outcome was.”
[After THE JUMP: Greg Mattison explains what he should have done differently and why he thinks the defense doesn’t need a wake-up call]