"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
“Well, obviously it was a hard fought game by both teams. I thought our guys came back in the second half, played better. We’ve got to execute at all positions better. It was hard fought by both teams. Kept sticking around, so it’s a tough one, every time you go onto overtime, but we have to move forward.”
“We had opportunities throughout the game. We had opportunities with missed tackles. We had opportunities to make a play on the ball. We had opportunities to hit a hole better. We had opportunities to finish blocks. There’s no doubt.”
The decision to punt with 45 seconds left in regulation. Did you consider kicking the field goal?
“Yeah, did, but if we could pooch it down there and them starting at the 20 instead of the 34 or 45 or something like that. I liked those odds better … Could we have executed the pooch better? Sure.”
Could you have kicked the field goal?
“Without the delay? Could have. I think Matt would have, probably, because it would have been a long one.”
Any concern with Brendan Gibbons’s consistency?
“Not really. He’s been great. That’s why we kicked it on the last [overtime].”
Taylor Lewan’s injury?
“Yeah, he should be all right.”
Was it a head thing?
“Not really sure.”
It looked like your guys were in position to make plays on that last drive.
“Yeah, well you have to make plays. You have to execute. Would we have liked to rush the passer better? Yes. But at times we did, at times we didn’t.”
Channing Stribling played a lot on the last drive. What was the reason there?
“Well we’d been playing some dime stuff, trying to put another DB on their tight end.”
Fitz had 27 carries for 27 yards. The offensive line shuffling didn’t seem good enough …
“It wasn’t good enough. There’s no question.”
Where do you go from here?
“Well, we’d better take a hard look at it.”
Chris Bryant got replaced late?
“Chris got banged up a little bit. I think Darrell [Funk] also wanted make a move.”
Some losses are harder to come back from than others. Do you have to work harder to keep everyone together?
“Well I think you always have to work hard. Anytime you lose in overtime, if you let it take a toll, it will.”
With the long field goal in overtime, did you consider Matt Wile at all?
“Thought about it, but Brendan, before the game, we talked. We talked to Matt before the game. Both felt good at certain distances, and that was the distance.”
You talked about the resiliency of this team coming out at the half. What do you take from this game?
“Well I think the biggest thing is we had all kinds of opportunities at every position. As coaches we had opportunities, and we all are in this together, and we all have to make sure we’re taking advantage and executing when those opportunities come.”
After Devin’s mistakes, did you change the game plan at all?
“You know what, we didn’t. Honestly. We started the second half with the same game plan that we used in the first half.”
Did you think there was more energy coming out in the second half?
“I thought we had good energy when we came out in the first half. I had no problem with how we prepared all week and everything we’ve done.”
Were the turnovers deflating a bit?
“Well they responded. Came back, responded. Defense got a couple. I think we complemented ourselves pretty good at times in there. Offense and defense and kicking game. There were some really good things. Especially the kickoff return part of it. When the opportunities are there, you have to take advantage of it.”
When did you decide Jake Ryan was going to play? And did you try to keep his plays limited?
“We tried to keep his play count down a little bit. I can’t tell you exactly how many he ended up having, but we really [made the decision] after Thursday’s practice and Friday. He felt good all week.”
The offensive line issues, is it a toughness thing? A confidence thing?
“We’re having a hard time sometimes targeting at times, combo-ing off the blocks. It’d be interesting to see. Magnuson came in from where I was watching in the game, he made a couple really good combination blocks. That was encouraging. But I’ll be honest with you, [you can’t tell] until you really get a good look at it all and you can analyze it.”
Quite understandably, the players were really down and only gave short, rehearsed answers. Their expressions say it all.
Jeremy Gallon drinks Gatorade by the quar- okay yeah now is not the time.
That was the stupidest f***ing football game I've seen in my life. The end.
Our continued gratitude to Shashi Mara of Marawatch, maker of exquisite timepieces for Michigan fans. There are some watches you own that you look at only when you need to know the time. And then there's the watch you occasionally look at to tell the time, and then look at to tell the time again, and then just in case you'd better check the time again...
Shashi's watches are exceptional at telling time. That's why you're staring at yours so much. Really.
Chaos Avoidance: Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you alive. Except on a liveblog cause we're all mates here so read the Chaos Mitigation Post.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Heiko Yang
Things have been getting a little heavy and off topic here. Let’s go back to feelingsball, shall we?
The last time Michigan played Penn State, most of us were sorting through some complicated feelings about whether we wanted to keep or fire Rich Rod. According to John U. Bacon’s Three and Out, the loss in Happy Valley sealed Dave Brandon’s decision, but I don’t think the outcome of the game cleared anything up for many of us. On the one hand, 423 yards and 31 points against Linebacker U! On the other hand … we made Matt McGloin look like Tom Brady. Granted, McGloin ended up being pretty good, but we didn’t know that yet. All we saw was this:
In the soul-searching (binge drinking) that followed, many of us wondered how the Michigan defense would ever dig itself out of this mess. Keeping Rich Rod’s staff wouldn’t guarantee defensive improvement, but firing him would mean several more years of coaching change awfulness that we thought we were finally putting behind us. Neither solution appeared to be a quick or satisfactory fix. Without any idea we were only a year away from being 11-2 and a BCS bowl win, it sucked to be a Michigan Wolverine.
Looking back, I wonder how Penn State fans felt after that game. Cathartic for beating Michigan three years in a row? Probably. Pity for Michigan, a once-proud program that had descended into turmoil and mediocrity? Maybe. Were they immensely thankful for the stability of their own program? I don’t know. When your coach has more all-time wins than many teams do, it’s not something to really think about. Without any idea they were only a season away from suffering the worst scandal in college football history, I bet it felt great to be a Penn State Nittany Lion.
Three years later, here we are again. Michigan vs. Penn State in Beaver Stadium. This time Penn State is spiraling downward while Michigan is (hopefully) on the uptick. The line favors the Wolverines by single digits, but anyone I’ve talked to thinks Michigan should and will win by multiple scores. I tend to agree. As much as we criticize Al Borges for lack of imagination in the run game, the unbalanced lines and heavy packages Michigan ran with impunity against Minnesota were just a preface to more elaborate and nefarious schemes to come. To stay competitive, the undersized, inexperienced backups that the Nittany Lions are running with these days on defense will have to do what we hoped Michigan’s defense would do back in 2010: Overachieve. Just this one time. For the love of God. On the other side of the ball, Michigan suddenly finds itself being more linebackery than Linebacker U, and I’m not even sure it needs Jake Ryan back for that to be the case.
This feels great, doesn’t it? To focus on the plays, not the people calling them. To worry about crowd noise, not media noise. To scrutinize where the quarterback is throwing the ball, not where the program is heading. It’s a familiar feeling now, but once upon a time we believed this to be a foreign luxury.
If Michigan does indeed win by a large margin, we can feel cathartic for ending a three-game losing streak, and we can feel pity for a once-proud Penn State team that is descending into mediocrity. Most importantly though, we should take a step back and appreciate the stability of our program, the foundation for winning that is so easy to get used to and thus so easy to take for granted. After what both teams have been through the last few years, I think we’ve all learned this lesson the hard way.
Michigan 41, Penn State 31
By Nick RoUMel
Hey, kids! See if you can identify the nine all-time Michigan at Penn State football games from a snippet of a news article. Name the year, the score, and the coach’s nickname. Answers at the end of this column!
(a) In what is simply known as "The Snow Bowl," a surprise 18-inch snowfall three days before the game made it necessary to use hundreds of paid volunteers to clear the field. But with snow piles all around them, 80,000 freezing fans watched holder Joe Nastasi score a two-yard touchdown off a fake field goal with 2:40 left to secure the Lions' second of three consecutive victories over the Wolverines.
(b) Michigan's defense can help give any opponent a confidence-boost - even one led by a former walk-on making his first career start.
(c) The scene was ripe: it was the 1,000th game in Penn State football history, played before the largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, against the titan of a new conference, Michigan of the Big Ten, on a beautiful autumn afternoon. But there was no pleasure in Happy Valley. Penn State spoiled too many opportunities of its own and never could stop Tyrone Wheatley, the Michigan tailback, who rushed for 192 yards on 32 carries. The Michigan defense contributed a four-down goal-line stand in the second half that denied Penn State the 6 inches it needed.
(d) The loss marks the first time that Penn State has ever been shut out at home under Joe Paterno and the 0-4 start is the worst ever in the 115-year history of the program.
(e) Rondell Biggs flew in off the edge for one of Michigan’s seven sacks, then flexed his biceps to celebrate his mighty deed. The Wolverines’ defense provided plenty of muscle, Adrian Arrington and Mike Hart each scored a touchdown and Michigan stayed unbeaten with a win on Saturday night.
(f) Michigan still has Penn State's number, and that adds up to another late-season collapse for the Nittany Lions. Tom Brady's 11-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Knight with 1:46 left gave the No. 16 Wolverines a victory over No. 6 Penn State on Saturday, their third straight over the Lions.
(g) Michigan came in a 23 1/2-point underdog. Never before had the Wolverines been so lightly regarded by odds makers. Behind the running of Evan Royster and a few momentum-shifting plays by the defense and special teams, the Nittany Lions withstood the Wolverines' early flurry and snapped a nine-game losing streak to their Big Ten rivals.
(h) By the time fourth-ranked Michigan's 34-8 rout of No. 2 Penn State ended Saturday afternoon, Beaver Stadium was nearly deserted. Most of the school-record crowd of 97,498 had fled the world's largest Erector set for the warmth of their cars. But a wet, wild throng of Michigan fans in the northeast corner of the grandstand screamed and waved at their conquering heroes. "I'm just so proud," senior tailback Chris Howard said. "Defense, offense--we played the best game of our lives. We had to come out and make a statement. We made it."
(i) The undefeated Wolverines came in as 3 point favorites against a Penn State squad with a high-flying offense but a suspect defense; yet the Nittany Lions stymied the visitors on this overcast October afternoon. Devin Gardner threw a pair of interceptions and coughed up a fumble as Michigan was driving for the go-ahead score, while Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg found Allen Robinson for 2 touchdown passes, while running for another in the third quarter, that gave the home town team a lead it would never relinquish.
(a) 1995, W 27-17, Llo
(b) 2010, L 41-31, R. Ro
(c) 1993, W 21-13, Mo
(d) 2001, W 20-0, Llo
(e) 2006, W 17-10 Llo
(f) 1999, W 31-27 Llo
(g) 2008, L 46-17, R. Ro
(h) 1997, W 38-8, Llo
(i) 2013, L 21-19, B. Ho
[ED: That is a PENN STATE 21, MICHIGAN 19 from esteemed Counterpunt.]
Best part of the pic: Devin c-walking across the goalline? Minnesota defender flailing? or Minnesota coaches looking on hopelessly? (Fuller)
1. The Six Factors
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
Minnesota scored 13 off of field position of 17 and Michigan scored 42 off of field position of 23. Take out the pick six and field position was even to go along with early conversions. Michigan had an edge in bonus yards but struggled in both setting up third downs and converting them. None of the six factors swung heavily to Michigan. The field position helped but didn’t make a big difference.
This is another data point to say that the Akron second half was a fluke on the defense’s part. Michigan is just pushing the bend but don’t break style big time this year. Another game with almost no bonus yards allowed, when you don’t give up big plays, the opponent keeps facing more times against the chains. Michigan has been decent at forcing third downs and not allowing a lot of short distances and they have actually been pretty bad at third down itself, but the quantity of downs they are forcing opponents into by not giving up big plays is driving their success. Sure sometimes a team is going to converting 10 third downs and take up a whole half on a drive, but most of the time things are going to flame out. Not giving up big plays on defense is going to be all that Michigan needs to be in position to win for most of the games on their schedule.
2. Individual Performances
Opponent adjustments now in effect
Devin Gardner +13.6 EV+, +37% WPA 6th best QB of the week
Fitzgerald Toussaint +1.6, +13%, 46th best RB of the week
Mitch Leidner +7.5, +17%, 26th best QB of the week
Devin Funchess +14.7, +24%, 5th best receiver of the week
A solid performance from Gardner that will almost certainly be downgraded over the course of the season as Minnesota’s adjustment begins to reflect a tougher slate.
While Toussaint’s numbers certainly aren’t amazing, if he can consistently perform at this level it should be adequate to maximize opportunities in the passing game.
Last week was loaded for pass catchers as the Funchess to WR experiment was 5th best of the week but was one of the top 15 of the season. Funchess joins Jeremy Gallon versus Notre Dame to give Michigan 2 of the top receiving games of the season. Only Mike Evans against Alabama put up as high of a score as Funchess on 7 or fewer catches.
3. Game Chart
6. +4.0% – Leidner incomplete on 3rd and 5 midway through the second quarter
5.+5.3% – Toussaint scores from 8 yards out to open the scoring
4. +5.8% – Gardner to Funchess for 21 yards setting up 1st and Goal at the 2
3. –8.1% – Minnesota gets their sole TD of the day on 3rd and 7
2. +8.6% – Michigan forces a fumble on Minnesota’s opening possession
1. +10.8% - Gardner hits Funchess for a TD on 3rd and 14 to give Michigan the lead going into halftime
Not very swingy, that game. The first two plays had a bit of a big play feel to them but man did that game lack drama or excitement. I kept double checking the numbers for #6 because it didn’t feel like a top swing play and then I realized that would have been about #25 in some games earlier in the season. Lack of big plays + lack of turnovers + lack of second half drama = boring swing plays.
4. Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
NC State and the ghost of Tom O’Brien punted on 4th and 1 from the Wake Forest 35 yard line. The Wolfpack got their Romer Karma as the punt went for a touchback and Wake Forest went on to win. Most weeks, this would be enough to win dumb punt of the week but this week has a honoree.
Southern Miss which hasn’t won in what seems like years and at least 3 coaches, faced a 4th and 7 at the hapless FIU 40 yard line. There were less than 6 minutes down and the Golden Eagles trailed by 1. What do you have to lose at this point? You have lost a million games in a row, go for the freaking win. Southern Miss was something like a touchdown favorite despite being awful. Don’t be scared, go for the win.
Southern Miss coach to be fired is your dumb punter of the week. Special bye week honors go to Gary Andersen of Wisconsin, for punting to Ohio State down two scores late. The best case scenario happened and Wisconsin had the whole field to drive for a touchdown to force overtime with a minute left and no timeouts. You might think that sounds dire, but the Badgers own late game time management and their fans saw no fear, mostly just the bottom of the beer from the bar they bolted to after the punt.
5. State of the stats
The Six Factors are now available for all 125 FBS teams. I’ll do my best to update these on Sundays so you can check out where other teams fall in different categories.
Other notes from around college football:
- Devin Gardner is currently ranked #18 among all quarterbacks with an EV+ (opponent adjusted) of 7.1. Currently Bryce Petty of Baylor and Aaron Murray are the two players ahead of the +14 mark.
- Jeremy Gallon is at 6.4 value added for the season, putting him at #30 in the country.
- Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin and his insane YPA are leading the nation among running backs with a 5.9 EV+, nearly a full point above any other back.
- Devin Gardner is currently the most valuable player in the Big Ten, if you replaced Gardner plays with the expected value from all non-Gardner plays, it would have cost Michigan nearly 60 points so far this season. On the flip side, Fitzgerald Toussaint’s plays have been an overall drag on the offense, replacing his carries with average plays would add 24 points to Michigan’s total. Only Duke Johnson of Miami has been a bigger loss to his offense as a running back.
- Baylor’s offense has been absurd. Their opponent adjusted offensive EV is +23.7, over 6.5 points ahead of second place Texas A&M nearly double third place Miami. They also have not had a single play charted in the second half. Last week against West Virginia they put 327 bonus yards, in the first half. That’s as many yards past the line of scrimmage in one half than 15 teams are averaging for a game.
- On the flip side, Missouri held Vanderbilt to just 6 bonus yards in the first half while building a 23 point lead.
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Mich O||26.8 (60)||53% (37)||154 (43)||7.3 (102)||0% (59)||6.0 (15)|
|PSU D||30.7 (107)||44% (14)||129 (50)||6.7 (41)||-8% (17)||4.3 (26)|
|Exp Score||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Mich D||28.4 (83)||46% (23)||94 (15)||6.6 (44)||+14% (120)||3.9 (17)|
|PSU O||25.2 (80)||49% (79)||137 (62)||7.9 (112)||-3% (78)||5.0 (68)|
I’m a little nervous about this one. Some people are blowing off Penn State as a team that got blown out by Indiana, but I see them as a team that almost beat UCF, a team that killed a dangerous Akron team.
As for the numbers, when Michigan has the ball it should be a fairly even matchup. Michigan’s biggest opportunities might come from big plays as Penn State has been a very good third down defense and putting together long drives should be a challenge.
When Penn State has the ball, Michigan should have a solid advantage. Much has been made of Penn State’s third down woes but that is more a story of being bad at early downs than bad at third down. Michigan has been great at not giving up bonus yards and if they can continue that trend, Penn State will have a very tough time putting together drives. Freshman QB Christian Hackenberg is –1.6 EV+ on the year and ranked 132nd out of 169 quarterbacks on the season. As noted everywhere, if you stop Allen Robinson (#15 ranked WR, #2 in Big Ten) you stop the Penn State offense.
The Penn State defense keeps the game close, but I see this a game that goes back and forth between a 1 and 2 score Michigan lead, never put away, but never that much in doubt.
Michigan 24 Penn State 20