alternate headline: man does job
Michigan (5-2) vs
Houston Baptist (2-5)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||2 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Michigan -23 (KenPom)|
PBP: Lisa Byington
Analyst: Brooke Weisbrod
Right: Michigan's offensive prowess was downright terrifying the last time these two teams met. [Fuller]
You can breathe a little easier; X-rays on Derrick Walton's ankle, which he turned in nasty-looking fashion against NC State, came back negative. He's going to miss some time with a sprain. How much is uncertain:
"So it's a sprain," Beilein said on his weekly radio show on Wednesday night. "It's a mild sprain."
Shortly thereafter, Beilein added, "He sprained his ankle badly — I don't know what type of grade it would be, but it's sprained and we do not know when he'll be back.
"Hopefully it's not before too long."
Walton's absence shouldn't be an issue against Houston Baptist; it'd hurt if he couldn't give it a go next Tuesday at SMU. Based on Beilein calling it both a "mild" and "badly" sprained ankle in the span of a few minutes, the timeline for a return is unclear. Today, Beilein said they'll "wait and see" if Walton can play tomorrow; my guess is they won't feel the need to push Walton against a very overmatched opponent.
THE LAST TIME
Michigan played Houston Baptist two years ago. If you think the KenPom line—Michigan is favored by 23—is a little extreme, it's nothing compared to the margin from the 2013-14 matchup, which the Wolverines won 107-53 while scoring a nearly unfathomable 1.62 points per possession. Most importantly, Andrew Dakich hit a three:
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
On the roundtable this week:
- Not great gameplan, Bob.
- I compare Ed to a twitter egg because he says "I liked Durkin before I got more data" like twitter eggs do.
- Basketballin': Moritz McGary comin', Duncan Robinson is unconscious, etc.
THE USUAL LINKS
Heiko sings the hits! Remember Heiko? Used to badger Al Borges about bubble screens, was Adam before Adam was Adam. Currently turning in his Punt/Counterpunt column about sixty seconds before I want to post it. Draftageddon chaos agent. That guy. Doctor guy.
Well, if you'd like to see him sing(?), that is now a thing you can do. The med students have this charity, you see:
Every winter, Galens members don red ponchos, grab metal buckets, and take to the streets of greater Ann Arbor to collect monetary donations for the children of Washtenaw County. Held on the first weekend of December since 1927, Tag Days has become an important Ann Arbor tradition and occupies a central role in Galens' mission to support local children's charities. Galens members annually raise tens of thousands of dollars, with 100% of the collected money donated directly to local organizations and charities.
Last year they raised over 75k via various methods including people throwing coins at med students for singing*, and you can do this by THROWING COINS at HEIKO in front of Gratzi from about FOUR O'CLOCK TODAY to MIDNIGHT.
Or you could just donate here if you don't want to throw quarters at Heiko for some reason. Weirdo.
*[This is an assumption, but I'm sure you'll agree it is a good one.]
Things that happened. Ross Fulton breaks down events that transpired on Saturday.
Meyer and Warinner borrowed a page from Utah and Indiana. Both offenses had success outside against Michigan's cover 1-man defense by forcing Wolverine defenders with contain responsibilities to cover receivers while the offense runs outside, and by using spread read principles to outnumber a Michigan defense with a deep safety.
Meyer's staff used a similar strategy. Frequently using two tight ends - with one aligned as a blocking slot receiver - the Buckeyes' success began with power read. On power read the offensive line blocks power, but - rather than kicking out the defensive end - the quarterback reads the end. If he crashes, the quarterback gives on the sweep. If the end stays wide the quarterback runs power following the pulling guard.
With Michigan using a common opponent tactic - slanting towards Ezekiel Elliott to limit tight zone - Ohio State ran outside opposite the slant, providing Elliott a running lane beyond the crashing end.
When Michigan prevented this from happening again it opened up JT Barrett on the inverted veer, because Michigan took a basic and completely predictable approach to dealing with the OSU run game. Michigan changed nothing except occasionally running a 3-3-5. It was incredibly frustrating to see inverted veer gash Michigan over and over again as if the Wolverines had no idea it would be coming. On the above play they have not one but two 100% irrelevant players, as the backside corner and safety aren't blocked but can't do anything about the gain.
Durkin spent the entire year running the same defense predicated on decisively winning DL matchups, and when that was not true his answers were miserably bad. The final drive of regulation for Indiana saw Michigan passively eat run after run without reacting; this game was as if the last 15 years of football had never happened.
Let's not change anything. Iowa is 12-0, which is not something even Kirk Ferentz's family saw coming. Spencer on the power of doing nothing at all:
Iowa football never changed, and needed to badly, at least from the perspective of someone looking at the long decline of the program into a 7-6 stasis interrupted by bumps into 11-2 and drops into 4-8 territory. The Hawkeyes had become an EKG of a drunk man falling into a deep and dreamless sleep. This drunk man was also hypothermic and sleeping under a bridge.
Then in 2015, that drunk man woke up, found a flawlessly tailored suit under a concrete overhang beneath that bridge, downed a bottle of Steel Reserve, and walked into the nearest investment bank and become a confident, beaming tycoon overnight.
Iowa should have changed everything, and didn't. They're undefeated despite doing few things they haven't done for years. You didn't think they could do it, but they did. Iowa, the laziest hard-working team in America, wore the same shirt until it came back into style.
So if DJ Durkin runs that defense against OSU for the next 12 years it might work the 12th time. That's the ticket.
Veni, vici, Harbaugh. Jim Hackett is stepping down as Michigan's athletic director. He never did get the Notre Dame series back, but other than that probably impossible thing he hit 1.000 in a brief tenure as Michigan's athletic director.
Hackett decided he should hire Jim Harbaugh. Also he got Harbaugh. This seems like a rather obvious thing to do. But as we saw with the previous athletic director, sometimes people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason. Hackett, above all, was a solid dude acting sensibly.
I have heard that Hackett was close to exclusively focused on the big-ticket items, which was the right move for him and Michigan. Unfortunately that did mean that the department's Brandon-imparted momentum continued in various ways. The hockey schedule, accepting the worst possible basketball tournament for fans, and lingering Special K issues, particularly at Yost, irked me over the past 12 months. Hackett also paid virtually no attention to non-revenue sports. This is again fine for someone who is trying to get a few big-picture things right, but none of it is great for the long term.
Baumgardner wrote a column with a pithy headline:
Jim Hackett steadied Michigan's ship, but next AD must be able to steer it
Steering the ship. Michigan should be properly chagrined by their decision to pass on the actual athletic directors their department had spawned last time. Anyone other than the four sitting ADs that came from the pre-Brandon department would be an enormous upset. Those gentlemen:
- Warde Manuel, AD, UConn. Previously the AD at Buffalo, where he hired Turner Gill for those two years where Buffalo was not terrible. At UConn hired Kevin Ollie, which was a given after a national title, and Bob Diaco after taking a swing at Pat Narduzzi.
- Jeff Long, AD, Arkansas. Hired Bert out from under Wisconsin, which is pretty impressive. Also hired Bobby Petrino away from the Falcons, which was a good idea until it really really wasn't. Cofopoff chair.
- Brad Bates, AD, Boston College. Is, uh, at Boston College? Before he was at Miami and helped acquire Enrico Blasi and a new arena for the Redhawks. BC Interruption take here if you're inclined.
- Joe Parker, AD, Colorado State. The favorite candidate of many people who worked in the department when he was around. Recommended by most of the Brandon-initiated Michigan Athletic Department Diaspora. Only one year as an AD but has held posts just below that level for a decade.
Former Oregon State AD Bob De Carolis was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and resigned from his post in 2015. While Hackett brought him on as a consultant that probably doesn't indicate he's a serious candidate for the job.
Oh, and Tom Lewand's free! Anybody? Anybody other than Mark Snyder? Nobody? That appears to be nobody signing up for a guy with zero AD experience, but plenty of hiring Jim Caldwell experience. (Other staffers say he's the Lions' coach, and that the Lions are a local professional football franchise with a star-crossed reputation.)
I haven't heard much buzz on the search yet but a few months ago I did get a note that Manuel was probably the favorite.
Linebackers to be coached. Chris Partridge will pick up linebacker duties for the bowl game. This allows him to go on the road in the absence of Durkin, which is a good thing.
Given the way the release is phrased it doesn't seem like he's getting a position coaching slot permanently—or at least that's not the plan right now. Keeping Partridge for another year or two before he does move onward and upward is a good thing, especially with Michigan having most of New Jersey on lock.
Stats to be goggled at. Michigan features twice in a PFF column on crazy stats, and this is the craziest:
Even though [Jake] Rudock has had an underwhelming season, he has one thing going for him. He leads the country in accuracy under pressure at 71.4 percent. That’s especially surprising considering he was ranked 40th last year in the same category at 56.8 percent. It’s not a small sample size either. Only nine quarterbacks have had more snaps under pressure than Rudock.
I guess "underwhelming" is a thing you could say about Rudock's 2015 if you are not a Michigan fan. If you are a Michigan fan he's the guy holding onto your hand as you reach for the Holy Grail in a crevasse. Also, his first half was indeed very underwhelming. His finish not so much.
Related: I thought Michigan's pass protection was more or less good this year, what's the deal with all the pressures?
Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan) is having the best pass-rushing season by a defensive tackle in the last two years.
Wormley is the definition of a pass rushing specialist. On every one of the 269 plays that he has lined up as a defensive tackle the opposing offense has passed the ball. On every pass play, Wormley has rushed the passer. … Wormley currently leads the country in PFF’s signature stat, pressure percentage (PRP) at 12.3. … The senior from Ohio has improved tremendously from last season. His current grade of +35.8 is over 25 points higher than is 2014 grade. He has graded positively in every game except last week’s game against Ohio State where he struggled with his run defense.
When I saw that I thought to myself "he's a defensive end, not a DT," but they cover that in the paragraph on him.
I think the way PFF is crediting rushes here is generous to Wormley. He benefited from the pile of stunts Michigan ran—without question the best thing Durkin did this year is base his pass rush on constant stunting—and in UFR I've started splitting credit between the guy who drives the lane open and guy who loops around for the glory. Wormley did have a major breakout season, don't get me wrong, but Michigan's ability to pressure was a team thing in which all three DT/DE types contributed about equally.
Etc.: NC State highlights. Holdin' The Rope on the game. Texas key plays. UT take on that game. Walton's issue a "slight ankle sprain"; exhale. Kansas still has a student athletics fee. Love Moritz McGary. The Big Ten has a big rights package coming up.
Looking at a 0% win expectancy might not cause you to slam your laptop shut in frustration if you’re thinking of it purely in terms of wins and losses, where a win would be 100% and a loss would be 0%. Unfortunately for all of us, that’s not how this stat works. You might want to pick your coffee cup up off your desk before you read Bill Connelly’s definition:
It is intended to say "Given your success rates, big plays, field position components, turnovers, etc., you could have expected to win this game X% of the time."
Before you put your mug back down, Michigan only had a win expectancy under 50% once, and that came against Minnesota. Also, their predicted win expectancy heading into The Game was 61%. The only silver lining is that this could be the game that killed the Dumb and Dumber “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” meme. No, Lloyd, there was not. There was literally no chance in a game that S&P+ projected Michigan to win by almost five points.
[After THE JUMP: Mathlete’s Four Factors, some depressing numbers, and some colorful charts to distract from said depressing numbers]
Durkin Leaves, Partridge Stays
Recruits care more about the man in the middle. [Fuller]
While Michigan lost a strong recruiter when DJ Durkin accepted the head job at Maryland, it doesn't appear his departure is going to have a significant impact on the program's recruiting, at least in the short term. The latest Wolverine pledge, Jordan Elliott*, summed up the general feeling among the commits:
This don't change a thing
— ChadTough〽️ (@XCV____) December 2, 2015
The reaction from uncommitted targets depends on the prospect; for the most part, their ties are more to the program—Jim Harbaugh's program—or their primary recruiter. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan posted reactions from several prospects that included four-star TX DE Levi Onwuzurike saying that it wouldn't affect him as long as Greg Mattison stayed on staff ($). Five-star CA OLB Caleb Kelly said it affects his recruitment, but he's been considered a long-shot at best for a while now. This is worth watching, though:
Los Angeles Loyola 2016 cornerback David Long Jr.
"That would be huge [to lose him], but if [Stanford defensive coordinator Lance] Anderson replaces him it would work perfectly, but that's in a perfect world."
Despite being a Stanford commit, Long seemed more likely to end up at Michigan. We'll see what comes of his imminent in-home visit; hopefully that clears up any concern.
Meanwhile, 247's Steve Wiltfong reported today that director of player personnel Chris Partridge will not follow Durkin to Maryland, which was rumored to be a strong possibility—Sam Webb added Partridge is in line for an "increased role" with the program. While Michigan's recruiting in New Jersey has reached the point where Partridge isn't essential to their ability to land that state's top talent—more NJ recruits mention Jabrill Peppers than Partridge these days—it's still a a significant plus to have his connections there.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]