9/3/2016 – Michigan 63, Hawaii 3 – 1-0
this elevator goes all the way up buddy [Bryan Fuller]
I wonder if Michael Jordan has an internal insincerity meter for crowd reactions he gets. It's 50/50. Jordan is the kind of transcendent athlete who could legitimately go through life thinking that 100,000 nearly random people would burst into rapture at his mere presence. But to get to that level you have to be completely unstinting in your self-evaluations. To be Michael Jordan you cannot have anything but an infinitely precise vision of yourself in your head.
Anyone who went to North Carolina and was once pictured four feet tall next to Joe Dumars on a Sports Illustrated cover cannot have many misconceptions about the general feeling of southeast Michigan towards his person. So I wonder if Michael Jordan got thrown up on the big screen at Michigan Stadium and heard what the reaction was and thought to himself "I don't know what these people are one thousand percent rabid about, but it ain't me."
Because that happened. Michigan put Michael Jordan on the big board and people went nuts and if Michael Jeffery Jordan was any part of that you'd have to get down to the third derivative, where damn near everything is in the +c. Happy to have you and all that, but if you're not down with being an emblem for a bunch of other stuff we cannot help you. Emblem you are.
Same thing with all the Jumpman stuff a few weeks ago. Part of that may be genuine excitement that a different company is making tubes with holes for your arms, but most of it is because it's a place to put your enthusiasm. It is a tangible thing you can do
I mean, the students showed up on time.
Let us consider the situation. It is noon. Michigan is playing Hawaii, a 42-point underdog. The sun is unfettered in the sky, at maximum hangover-beatdown wattage. It is Welcome Week. And despite being the same age as Will Smith's kids, the students are in their section at kickoff.
Anywhere you look you'll find evidence that Michigan fans are amped for this season, including this here blog that predicted 12-0 like an idiot and sold out of its season preview magazine. I don't think anything can top assembling nearly 30,000 students in 2016. As a reminder, this is what MSU's stadium looked like at halftime of a Big Ten game last year:
MSU fans. They gone. pic.twitter.com/X8c8Fh9e9i
— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) October 3, 2015
Harbaugh's got a shot at canonization now, after The Miracle Of The Full Student Section At Noon During Welcome Week 2016.
The team did their best to keep the party going. Even Wilton Speight's interception gave the defense another three plays on which to establish that Hawaii was going nowhere, and tack on stats when Michigan got the ball back. Like when you're running punts back to the one in NCAA football so you can make your absurd numbers even more absurd.
Michigan did not punt, scored seven touchdowns on offense, and would have won this game by two scores if none of those counted. It took Hawaii 25 minutes to get a first down and about that long to scrape above zero yards of offense. Jabrill Peppers jumped over a guy for fun. The only time anyone booed was when Hawaii broke the shutout with an audacious 55-yard field goal.
There wasn't anything they could do against Hawaii that would change opinions positively; they held serve.
This allowed the crowd to continue losing their mind for flyovers and Charles Woodson and Lamarr Woodley and Jim Hackett, who got the biggest cheer of anyone they introduced because he did one thing very well. Never in the history of interim athletic directors has one been greeted so rapturously.
And even that was kind of cheering at something because it's there, not for something. The yelling in Michigan Stadium was about things yet to happen. It's on the way.
HIGHLIGHTS & SUCH
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Mike McCray led the way with 3.5 TFLs, two of them sacks, and a total of nine tackles. His impact is even a little understated by those numbers, as he also picked up a holding call on a play that still ended with the QB buried under a pile.
#2(tie) Delano Hill and Jabrill Peppers. Hill had a pick six, a nice PBU on a deep ball, and a TFL on which he displayed his trademark open-field tackling. Peppers had two TFLs, a sack, and an absurd punt return ending in a hurdle of a dude damn near standing up. I also think he was shorted a TFL on the first play of the game, as that went (very slightly) backward.
#3(tie) Chris Evans and Mason Cole. Evans cracked 100 yards on just 8 carries. Cole helped spring a big chunk of those with a lovely reach block and looked like a very good center indeed.
Honorable mention: Eddie McDooom; Ben Gedeon; Ryan Glasgow; all persons living and dead.
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Jabrill Peppers (T2, Hawaii).
0.5: Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii), Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
No I don't care that this was called back.
Any GIF requests? As always, noting the time is helpful if possible. This one's covered. pic.twitter.com/xGiOubHLJ4
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) September 4, 2016
Honorable mention: Evans bursts down the sideline; Evans bursts up the middle; various blitzes on which the only response was HALP; pick six; other pick six; Carl Grapentine pronouncing "McDoom"; Grant Perry's sinuous corner route; Michigan introducing Jim Hackett to thunderous approval as someone else plots a corporate Facebook page response.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Another Bryan Mone injury of some severity is the worst both for him and Michigan's DT depth.
Honorable mention: Wilton Speight momentarily panics everyone with a pick on his first snap; that one drive when Stribling was getting the business a bit; jerko Hawaii kicker ruins the shutout with a 55-yard FG.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
[After THE JUMP: and introducing Chris Evans]
Wilton Speight and Mike McCray
WIlton, obviously things didn’t start off the way they were supposed to with the interception. Was there anything in particular that Harbaugh said that made you snap into it or was it just instincts?
“Yeah, obviously wasn’t the start I was imagining, but I was kind of rolling to our sideline anyway and my momentum just kind of carried me right into Coach and he just grabbed me and hugged me and was kind of laughing and was like, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get it next drive. Don’t sweat about that.’ And I was able to do that.”
How much did it help you to have the balance that you did in terms of a running game and some receivers and tight ends?
“Yeah, so anytime the quarterback has a run threat it helps them a lot, it helps the passing game a lot. To have that balance and then have guys like Jehu and Amara and Jake Butt, Moe Ways, Drake Harris--the list could go on and on, just weapons after weapons--makes my job a lot easier.”
Mike, we heard so much about Don Brown’s defense and blitzing. You personally had a great game and the defense overall did so well, especially in the first half. What was it like to get out there in a new scheme and show what you guys could do on the greatest stage?
“It felt really good. We talked about it all week just going out there and showing everybody what we’re about. We had a great defense last year and we want to be better than we were last year. I thought we made a good statement coming out.”
Wilton, can you take us through the process of you getting acclimated? You’re comfortable in the system but the gameday environment and taking it step by step and putting it together, what was that like?
“I knew the gameplan front and back, and once I saw my first completion to Jehu on that slant I felt completely settled in and kind of like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I was able to get comfortable and just fire some shots in the pocket.”
Was there a particular player that you felt like kind of boosted you?
“They were all really helpful. Jake Butt was in my ear a lot; De’Veon last night and this morning. But yeah, everyone was real cool.”
Coach said ‘We’ll get them back and everything will be okay’ and you started at the two-yard line. Talk about the momentum that you guys got on that drive and how you finished it off.
“Starting that deep, it’s just an opportunity to march down the whole field and that was what we were able to do. I was able to complete a few passes, the offensive line was able to hold all their blocks really well, and the running game was outstanding. To be able to march down the field 98 yards and fire a shot in to Grant [Perry] in the corner of the end zone was a good feeling.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
[Ed-S: Probably going to bump this feature all year unless I forget to.]
Well, that’s one way to start a season.
Best: Roman Reign’d In
In my preseason preview, I cautioned that this column’s length is going to be much more dependent on the quality of the game compared to earlier seasons; life finds a way of limiting the number of hours you can dedicate matching animated gifs to a sporting event involving kids dangerously close to half your age or more.
While the acquitted themselves admirably against Cal to start the year, the Rainbow Warriors were basically what everyone thought they were. Hawaii has a senior QB with a career completion percentage a shade under 50%, a 19:24 TD:INT ratio, and no real mobility. They don’t really have much of a running game if the defense has any ability to hold up even momentarily at the point of attack, and if the guy throwing the ball doesn’t have good numbers, you gotta believe the guys trying to catch those balls aren’t particularly good either. Their defense last year was nestled between North Texas and Oregon St. in FEI, and that was with a couple of guys on the defensive line who were either injured or kicked off the team for this game. I balked at the 44-point spread for the sole reason that I assumed Hawaii would pick up a couple of meaningless points at the end of a blowout to “only” lose by 40.
That’s what would have happened under Carr. It’s what would have happened under Hoke. It wouldn’t have happened under RR simply because the defense would have given up some points along the way. It was about winning with “class”, about beating an inferior opponent soundly but not excessively. You showed up for the body bag games because you had to be part of the equation, the vengeful god smiting the peasants giving you tribute. That’s how Michigan did it for years, and it seemed to work out pretty well.
But Harbaugh ain’t wired like that. Now, he’s not a Steve Spurrier at Florida or an Urban Meyer at OSU, who took any opportunity to run the score up even if it meant going for 2 on your first two scores of the game. But as was his mantra at Stanford, he wants his teams with win with character, but also with cruelty. Harbaugh will put in his backups when appropriate and won’t necessarily “pick” on an opponent, but as we saw in the Citrus Bowl in which Jake Rudock was throwing bombs well into the 4th quarter of that game, he isn’t going to shrink his playbook or go on “cruise control”. He isn’t wired that way, to relent or show mercy in the patronizing way some other coaches do, and he (rightly) assumes that as long as there is time on the clock you play football.
[hit THE JUMP for complaining that a 98-yard touchdown drive should have gone better and stuff]
News bullets and other important items
- Jourdan Lewis, Ben Braden, and Mo Hurst were Harbaugh’s decision to hold out. Lewis and Hurst should be back next week. De’Veon Smith got bruised and should also be back next week.
- Taco Charlton has an ankle injury and Bryan Mone needed an MRI Saturday night.
- When all is said and done, 17-20 freshmen should see the field this year.
- Harbaugh wasn’t worried about the first-play interception because his measure of a QB is how they respond on the following drive.
- Harbaugh said they’re just scratching the surface of what Chris Evans can do. Expect to see him catching the ball out of the backfield and lining up as a receiver soon.
- There’s still a competition for the backup QB spot (and probably every spot, really) because of course there is.
- Harbaugh effusively praised the defense (he said they didn’t make a stance or alignment mistake through three quarters) and the secondary in particular.
[Getting the mics passed out is taking a minute]
“I can just give you my first answer. The first thing that strikes me is—it hit me about Thursday [or] Friday [that] our coaches had worked this group of players as hard as you possibly can, and our players worked themselves as hard as they possibly could, and it just hit me Thursday [or] Friday that it’s time to just let them go show what they can do. I thought we’d be good, and it was. I thought our team played really well.”
Wilton talked about how your reassurance after that first play—what it meant to him. You’ve been through that a lot of times, that kind of thing. Talk about your approach there.
“Well, really my approach was I wanted to see what he did on the next series. It’s very difficult for a quarterback to throw an interception on a series and then come back and lead a touchdown drive the following series. It’s something I’ve always been fascinated in watching quarterbacks, and the really good ones can do that. They don’t think about, ‘I’m not gonna make another bad mistake.’ I mean, that’s what some do, but good ones don’t. I was just excited for that opportunity, to see what he was going to do on the next drive.
“And then to see him start the next drive on the two-yard line. I mean, that’s as much adversity as you can have for a quarterback starting a series, starting a drive: having thrown an interception on the previous drive—and the very first throw of the game—and then to find yourself on the two-yard line. But he responded in tremendous fashion to lead a touchdown drive, make big third-down conversion throws, to make as good a corner throw to Grant Perry as can be made. It can’t be thrown any better. The slant he threw coming off the goal line cannot be thrown any better.
“Had total command and I think it speaks volumes and bodes really well for our team and bodes really well for his career as a quarterback to have done that, to have come back off an interception and then very next drive go on a 98-yard touchdown drive. Now he knows he can do it, and now we’ll expect him to do it. So, it was good for our team. Good for his career.”
Mike McCray’s overcome a lot and we saw him all over the field today. Talk about what that meant and how good he was out there today.
“I feel like our inside backers are very athletic and can run and get to the sideline and still play very physical inside the box, take on blockers, take on guards, take on backs. I think it’s a step up in terms of athleticism when you look at Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon and Devin Bush.
“There’s a lot of guys, a lot of guys that have personally overcome a lot that were out there and did well today. Michael Hirsch is another. Several. Several guys.”
[After THE JUMP: Imagine how excited Harbaugh was when Michael Jordan coincidently delivered one of his favorite messages to the team]
Chris Evans broke the hundred-yard mark in his debut. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
It's hard to exceed expectations when facing a 41-point underdog.
Michigan exceeded expectations.
The defense was as salty as advertised, holding Hawaii without a first down until under five minutes remained in the first half; it took until the beginning of that drive for the Rainbow Warriors to get positive yardage. Even with the absence of Jourdan Lewis and Maurice Hurst, who sat out the game due to minor injuries, losing Taco Charlton to an apparent ankle injury early, and rotating in seemingly every warm body on the bench, the defense held Hawaii to 232 total yards and a 55-yard field goal that barely cleared the crossbar. That same Hawaii offense put up 482 yards on Cal last week. Cal's defense is bad, yes. Michigan's did nothing to dispel the notion they'll be elite today.
The offense began the game in ominous fashion when Wilton Speight tossed a pick on his first play as the starting quarterback. To say he bounced back is an understatement; he finished 10-for-13 for 145 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers (Grant Perry, Jake Butt, and Amara Darboh).
"[Jim Harbaugh] just grabbed me, hugged me, and was kinda laughing," Speight said about the aftermath of his ill-fated opening throw. "[He] was like, 'don't worry, we'll get it next drive, don't even sweat about that,' and I was able to do that."
"He responded in tremendous fashion," said Harbaugh, who added the touchdown throw to Perry on the next drive "could not have been thrown any better."
Four quarterbacks played. Eleven players recorded rush attempts. Eleven caught at least one pass.
Of all of them, a true freshman stood out above the rest. Running back Chris Evans rushed for 112 yards and two scores, including a 43-yard burst right up the gut, on only eight carries. He's very much a running back, and he looks at the very least to have locked up the #3 spot on the depth chart behind DeVeon Smith and Ty Isaac.
"I knew Chris Evans is special. What you saw today is what we've been seeing all month," said Harbaugh. "He's a special player and I expect big things going forward."
Delano Hill had one of M's two pick-sixes. [Fuller]
Delano Hill and Channing Stribling weren't content to let the offense do all the scoring. Both recorded pick-sixes, Hill's on a 27-yard return, Stribling's covering 51 yards mere moments after his would-be interception was negated by a late hit on the quarterback. Ball don't lie.
Stribling's score gave Michigan a 49-0 lead with 10:51 left in the third quarter. The rest of the game was essentially an exhibition for the recruiting class of 2016. Receiver Eddie McDoom elicited a few wonderful "McDOOOOOOM" chants from the crowd, taking two end-arounds for 34 yards and gaining another first down with a nifty eight-yard catch over the middle. Michigan's run offense perked up when Ben Bredeson entered the game at left guard. Michael Onwenu played on both the offensive and defensive line; he made his biggest mark at guard, looking every bit as strong as you'd expect from a human neutron star. The list of freshmen to see the field is too long for this recap.
Harbaugh said that the injury that held Lewis out today is "healed," and it was his decision to hold Lewis out today; same goes for Hurst and guard Ben Braden, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Patrick Kugler. All three would've played if the opponent had warranted it. DeVeon Smith's rib injury is apparently minor. We'll have to wait and see on Charlton and Bryan Mone; Harbaugh said Mone will undergo an MRI tonight, though he didn't specify where.
If Michigan managed to escape without significant injury—we'll have to wait and see—then it's hard to imagine the opener going much better. The offense averaged 8.7 yards per play with great balance (10.3 yards per pass, 7.8 per rush), hardly slowing down after the starters took a seat. The defense almost literally didn't cede anything until backups were a major part of the rotation, and they scored two more touchdowns than Hawaii.
No sweat, as they say.
Bob kindly wrote us our very own liveblog software. It’s still in beta so a lot of features are not quite ready yet. Like the proton torpedoes don’t even arrive ‘till Tuesday.
The yellow/ orange bar is your mana.
Sending messages costs mana.
Messages cost more, the more active chat is.
The red dudes on the side bar are lives remaining.
If you break the Board Rules, you lose a life. Lose three lives and you have to insert a quarter into your monitor. No no keep trying it, it’ll go in. As always, the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is The Law. The Preview is here.
Enter the liveblog here: kibitz.io/#/hawaii (will open in new window. Sorry no embed yet. Tuesday.)