“He was on the other side of the court, screaming: ‘Good shot, Kev!’” Durant said, shaking his head in delight. “I’m thinking, this guy’s an All-American type of teammate right there.”
|WHAT||Michigan vs Minnesota|
Ann Arbor MI
September 27th, 2014
|THE LINE||M –13|
|TELEVISION||ABC/ESPN reverse mirror|
|TICKETS||From 18 dollars. Soon they will cost as much as the original jug.|
|WEATHER||mid 70s, clear
0% chance of rain
Image via MVictors
Minnesota is probably not real good. They've got quarterback issues up the wazoo, they lost 30-7 to a middling-at-best Big 12 team, they completed one pass last week. They are, in short, a Big Ten team. So I'm sayin' there's a chance.
Run Offense vs Minnesota
Cameron Botticelli exists
With Shane Morris probably starting, about which more later, Michigan figures to lean heavily on its ground game one week after it blorped out just over three yards a carry against an undersized and probably not very good Utah team. Since Michigan doesn't incorporate the quarterback as a runner you have to account for regularly, that means a lot of stacked boxes without recourse to actually-threatening play action and a lot of meh. Michigan had two runs that weren't meh against Utah: one pin and pull zone and a power play that Derrick Green cut back when a Utah DT went blorp himself. It was ugly.
They go up against a Minnesota defense that we have little data on. They crushed SJSU last week; SJSU employs GERG and can be safely discounted as a relevant data point. The week before TCU ripped them for 6.3 yards a carry but on only 27 attempts; Middle Tennessee had a respectable 4.4 yards a pop on 43.
FWIW, last year the Gophers were highly variable leaning towards bad, allowing 4.5 yards a carry overall. Six of their Big Ten opponents went over 180 yards while averaging at least 4.4 yards a carry; the exceptions were Northwestern and of course Michigan. Remember how we were all mildly intrigued by tackle over? Yeah, that was 3.2 YPC, the worst performance against the Gophers last year by any Power 5 school. Only Northwestern was within a yard.
So that's depressing.
This year Michigan seems better, at least most of the time. Minnesota has a reasonable case they will be as well, with three of their defensive linemen returning along with their best linebacker. It did not show against their one competent opponent, and Ace looked at a game where they were playing a team that employs GERG. Yes, on the other side of the ball. It does not matter. So who knows?
Key Matchup: Michigan OL versus slants and stunts from Minnesota. Michigan had a hard time IDing them against Utah and Minnesota brings a similarly smallish but mobile front that will attempt to mess up Michigan's gaps.
[Hit THE JUMP for they fart, and sludge / sludge, and fart / fart fart fart, sludge sludge sludge / the Sludgey And Farty Show!]
About Last Week:
Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor News
I went back.
I don’t know why I went back. The pluie de grâce had so mercifully released us all from any sense of obligation. Despite being the most literal example possible, there would be no talk of “fair-weather fans” after this one. Long after the weather suggested we leave, and even longer after our souls begged us to leave, Carl Grapentine demanded that we leave. Eventually I emerged from the rain at the Blue Tractor. I partook of food and drink with friends. We spoke about it as the most dispiriting game we had ever attended, which is a high (and ever-rising) bar to clear. We listed the things we would rather do than watch any more of that game. We spoke of our kids and our jobs and our lives. We had moved on.
And then we went back.
From even before we slogged up the Stadium stairs until the moment I write this, I have been trying to figure out why. No sane person would do this. I have a home with dry clothes and warm blankets. I have a television that displays other, better football games. I have two dogs that love attention and never turn the ball over. I have a loving wife and a fun little toddler and a brand new baby girl. Game traffic had cleared. The game was over in all but the most technical sense. There was nothing preventing us from escaping to a more comfortable place, both physically and mentally.
But we went back.
Maybe we went back because we thought, deep in some deranged recesses of our waterlogged brains, that Michigan could actually win that football game, or at least that something would happen that we would have been glad to have seen. Maybe it was to support the players. Maybe it was to collect the ultimate Fandom Endurance badge: the kind of ultimate trump card that can be played when speaking of the trials and tribulations of Michigan Mandom. Maybe I am secretly a football hipster (see: the fact that I write about the Big Ten every week). Maybe it was sheer morbid curiosity; surely as Rome burned, some Romans remained on the seven hills overlooking the city and observed in awe the awesome downfall. Maybe I went back because I really, truly love the Big House, and the actuarial tables tell me there are only 400 or 450 home games left before I am no more.
But I think I went back because I wanted there to have been a reason. I went back because I couldn't stand the prospect that I could watch a football at Michigan Stadium and walk away feeling like there hadn't been a reason. But sitting here a week later, I can't tell you why I was there.
We keep coming back. But the reasons are becoming harder to find.
The Road Ahead:
Minnesota (3-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last game: Beat San Jose State, 24-7
Recap: 1 for 8. Seven yards. Zero touchdowns. One interception. Against a GERG defense. And a 17-point win.
As you can tell, from the lede, Minnesota completely abandoned any hint of a running game. Chris Streveler is many things, but he is unlikely that he will wrest the “Unstoppable Throw-God” title from Trevor Siemian any time soon.
Minnesota only passed for the total distance of a pretty makeable putt, but they rushed for 380 yards on 58 carries. David Cobb rushed for 207 yards, and Streveler tacked on 161 yards at 8.9 yards per carry. They mixed in all of the usual dual-threat running game stuff, including traditional zone read, inverted veer, belly, and QB lead/iso.
In theory, they are a really favorable matchup for Michigan. Who wants odds.
This team is as frightening as: A very, very poor man’s 1990’s Nebraska. Fear Level = 0*
Michigan should worry about: Maxxxxxx Williams. He’s averaging 18.3 yards per catch, and has two of Minnesota’s three receiving touchdowns. Michigan’s safeties haven’t been fantastic, and we still haven’t seen all that much from Michigan’s linebackers in coverage, so Maxxxxxx could be a problem.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Maxxxxxx only gets the ball through the air. Which… yeah.
When they play Michigan: WHO WILL START FOR EITHER TEAM? THE INTRIGUE IS SO EXCITING.
Next game: @ Michigan (Minn +12, which, wow?)), 3:30 Saturday, (ABC/ESPN2)
*Fear is for the living.
[AFTER THE JUMP: We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.]
Previously: Minnesota Offense
We're finally heading into conference play, which means this hopefully will be the last film breakdown of a body-bag game, in this case Minnesota's 24-7 steamrolling of San Jose State.
I'm not quite ready to deploy the "I have the sinking feeling this is totally useless" tag, which I waited until last year's Northwestern game to unleash for 2013, but it's getting close.
A pump-fake interception on a botched WR screen!
San Jose State managed 254 yards of offense in 11 possessions on 5.6 yards per pass and 2.1 per rush. They turned it over five times, on three fumbles and two ghastly interceptions. I'm going to attempt to keep this from being a total waste of time by going over the basics of Cover 4, which Minnesota ran a lot of in this game, to the great confusion of SJSU's quarterback.
Personnel: Seth has accounted for the uncertainty at quarterback by turning this into a GIF—click to embiggen and see who we expect will start on Saturday:
Fine, fine, we went with Morris, because that seems to be the gut feeling of those closest to the program today, as well as the common sense choice given Brady Hoke's presser comments (why keep the uncertainty if there isn't going to be a change?). Anyway, I'm sure this won't dominate the comments of a post that otherwise has nothing to do with M's quarterback situation.
Base Set? Against SJSU's multiple attack—which actually resembles Michigan quite a bit in terms of formations utilized—Minnesota had a dedicated nickel set against three wide, which is depicted in Seth's chart, and went to a 4-3 over against two receivers:
Their corners stayed to a dedicated side of the field except when SJSU went with a trips formation; that's the strongside LB between the hashes and a CB hanging out on the boundary next to the DE.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
FORMATION NOTES: A lot of this kind of stuff.
Probably 50/50 between this and gun with more gun coming late as Michigan tried to make it look like they were trying to come back without actually doing so.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Everything as per usual, with the exception of Morris's late insertion and maybe a little more playing time for Jake Butt.
AGAIN APOLOGIES: Audio on the clips is messed up this week.
[After THE JUMP: a portal to another universe where Michigan doesn't suck (I DID IT FOR THE CLIIIIIIIIIICKS)]
BACKUP QB: CERTIFIED GOPHER TOUGH
We're finally heading into conference play, which means this hopefully will be the last film breakdown of a body-bag game, in this case Minnesota's 24-7 steamrolling of San Jose State. With starting QB Mitch Leidner sidelined due to a sprained knee and turf toe, injuries that could very well hold him out of this weekend's game, the Gophers turned to backup Chris Streveler to run the offense—and simply run, as he toted the rock 18 times to just seven pass attempts, of which he completed... one.
I'm not quite ready to deploy the "I have the sinking feeling this is totally useless" tag, which I waited until last year's Northwestern game to unleash for 2013, but it's getting close. The good news: Minnesota's run-heavy-to-the-point-that-run-heavy-doesn't-capture-it offense should play right into the strength of Michigan's defense, especially if Streveler is called upon once again to start.
Personnel. As you'll see in the formation chart, Minnesota almost exclusively ran their offense out of a one-back shotgun set with two tight ends. They still bring the beef—this is the list of their starters from their first four games, from Minnesota's game notes:
Yes, that features one WR who's started all four games, a FB/WR/TE spot, a TE/WR spot, and a dedicated TE spot. Spectacularly Gopher.
Anyway, here's the diagram from Seth, which now features Frank Clark and Jake Ryan getting their proper due as stars [click to embiggen]:
Minnesota's offense lacks experience, and it's even more glaring if you remove Maxxxxxx Williams (questionable, calf, didn't practice
[Ed-Ace: I wrote this up yesterday and there's been an update since. Williams practiced yesterday in a limited capacity, while Leidner has taken "about half" of the reps over the last two days, and Jerry Kill is "cautiously optimistic" he'll be able to play. Kill said he feels better about both players' chances to play compared to how he felt earlier in the week, for what it's worth.]
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Pro-style. Even with the mostly shotgun look, well... see the section above.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Basketball on grass. The vast majority of Minnesota's plays in this game were either inside zone or zone read. They mixed in some power, usually when running from under center or the pistol, and a couple outside zones, but they really could've won this game while running their two base plays.
Hurry it up or grind it out? This is Minnesota. They're in no hurry here.
The Gophers did go up-tempo to great effect on one first-half drive, covering 59 yards in eight plays while taking just 2:41 off the clock—and increasing the tempo as they went down the field—but the drive ultimately failed when running back David Cobb fumbled a first-and-goal carry into the end zone for a touchback. Other than that lone drive, Minnesota took their sweet time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
[What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where we really liked their BBQ sauce, and it turned out their CEO really likes this blog, and we like Joe's recipes, and we all end up with sticky fingers.]
I love a great rib. It doesn't matter if it's pork, lamb, elk, beef or an albino sasquatch rib, I love em all. There is something extra special about eating meat off a stick or bone. Let's face it, it's just more fun. The beef short rib is no different. This meaty "goodness" has it all. It's juicy, it's packed full of flavor and it won't break the bank. What else could you ask for? It's also perfect for game-day due to its shorter cook time. (4-5 hours)
[After the jump: how to achieve your badge of honor]