WHAT: A live podcast that is more audio content for your ears.
WHEN: Approximately 5-7 Friday every week during football season. We're thinking it's going to be more like 90 minutes than two hours, but we'll see. Whatever. I do what I want.
WHY: People veritably clamor for more audio content, and MGoRadio is no more for reasons outside of our control. Moving the show to Friday will make it much less of a rehash of the regular podcast: I'll have UFR done by then and Ace will have broken down the opponent in detail.
WHERE: Historic Moe's Sport Shop! Our live MGoRadio at Moe's was a great success and it was a natural fit since it's right downtown. You can stop by and hit up dinner afterwards, or go to Ashley's, that sort of thing.
HOW: We will be streaming live on Youtube, which seems like the best and easiest option for multiplatform. A downloadable podcast version will go up shortly after the completion for people who want to listen on their way to the game on Saturday morning.
Welcome back. After spending most of last week riding the struggle bus through blunder country, we return this week to examine the meat of Michigan’s schedule. The opponents in the back half of the season are of a much higher quality and level of consistency. Let’s take a look.
Wait… but you JUST said…
Hey, I know how this looks but IT WILL GET BETTER.
Yeah that’s what you said last week and now you’re leading with Illinois and we’re supposed to OOOH and AHHH like you just made the six of spades jump out of a rabbit’s ass and juggle flaming chainsaws
Look, I don’t make the schedule. Now do you want to hear about Illinois or not.
Does anyone ever want to hear about Illinois?
What if we throw in some suddenly-relevant Tim Beckman memories?
As you were.
Last year: 5-7 (2-6 B1G)
Recap: We won’t talk much about the football, because I promised Bolded Alter-Ego above that we wouldn’t dwell on this stuff. Sufficed to say that it was bad.
The Illini managed to make a competent-adjacent hire when by bringing in Lovie Smith. Smith isn’t quite the exciting new name, but he is an alum [EDIT - apprently he is not an alum. I just made that up] who might ignite a sense of “care somewhat” among the Illini fanbase. I have doubts about his ability to translate his game to the college level, but he’s a solid, reliable coach, and honestly, how much worse can it get?
When last we saw them: Michigan beat Illinois 45-0 in 2012, which still didn’t fully wash the taste of RichRod’s defenses surrendering 45, 38, and 65 points to the Illini in three consecutive years. Still, even with that, Michigan has won 41 of 47 against Illinois dating back to the beginning of the Bump Era.
Crootin’: Somewhat unsurprisingly, the situation recounted above was not conducive to an elite recruiting class. Illinois landed 25 commits, but only two were composite top-1000 (yes, that is the correct number of zeros), and none were in the top 700. Arguably their best recruit was Dele Harding, who you may remember as the guy who committed to Michigan because Dave Brandon got fired. 2016 rank: #71; 5-year ranking: #60
This team is as frightening as: A guy named “Lovie.” Fear Level = 3.5
Michigan should worry about: Dawuane Smoot continues the Illinois tradition of the Outstanding Defensive Players On Bad Illini Defenses, picking up the torch from the likes of Whitney Mercilus and Corey Liuget. Smoot is a natural pass-rusher, and possibly the best defensive end in the conference. Michigan’s left tackle situation is in flux. This could be problematic.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Poor Damn Mikey Dudek tore another ACL. Keep that man away from fork lifts. Also the defense loses everyone and probably will be bad. And Michigan gets a bye week leading into this game.
When they play Michigan: Illinois has a defensive tackle named “Chunky Clements.” I just thought you should know that.
Promised Beckman Memories:
First game: vs. Murray State, 3:30 p.m., BTN.
[AFTER THE JUMP. No I’m cereal this time, we’re getting to the good teams]
[aaron_bills20021, who should have way more than 17 followers on Flickr.]
The starters are back. Things discussed this week:
- Chris Evans as offensive Peppers
- Ben Bredenson at left tackle: Sam's camp circuit scouting suggests it could go okay.
- Will intangible Peppers intangibles be felt on defense?
- Brian Cook wages his battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons
- Herbie's wrong: 2016 is the year, 2017 is...
- Brian loves Mason Cole at center, Sam pumps the brakes
- Breakout players: Jabrill TFLs, De'Veon Smith, Darboh, Dymonte.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
Segment 2 is here.
THE USUAL LINKS
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with hair wings the color of goldish yellow, kind of like corn, or maize, or maybe the 14th most populous city in Texas if that makes sense. (She also had a phase where she dyed it neon. A lot of people bitched about what color this was, actually).
Anyway, one day she went for a walk in the forest. Pretty soon, she came upon the house where lived three bears. She knocked and, when no one answered, she walked right in.
Earlier this week I went over what a reach block is. There's actually a play where they're trying to reach block all three relevant linemen. It's called a zone stretch, also known as outside zone. And no, it doesn't actually rely on everyone getting reached; in fact all sorts of things are expected to go wrong, with guys getting help and offensive players coached to react to defensive reactions.
Those links cover what the offense does, but how should the defense play it? Indiana ran a lot of zone stretch against Michigan in 2015 and on one in particular I thought we got a nice example of the actions and reactions that go into these plays.
Zone blocking asks the OL to get the best block they can based on what the defense does, and as you might have guessed a reach block is the best block you can pull off. On a stretch play the OL will ID the defender they need to get playside of by how the D aligns, and the way they play the block is determined by how the guy getting block reacts. The RB then picks whatever hole materializes.
There are three different reach attempts going on here:
- The LT (Jason Spriggs) will reach/cut Godin (top)
- The LG (Jacob Bailey) will try to reach Willie Henry (middle) with a minor assist from the C (Jake Reed) as he releases.
- The RG (Dan Feeney) and RT will try to scoop Chris Wormley.
A scoop is a combination block where the OL lined up outside blocks the defensive player until the guy doing the reaching can get in position. Once they've got another guy around, the outside man releases to block someone else. Teams that run a lot of zone will get good at combo-ing with each other, and it's rare that any reach block is purely the work of one man. Even in our last example Braden lent Mason Cole an arm.
[After THE JUMP, too soft, too hard, and just right]
Is he [Rashan Gary] working on the same side as you?
“He mostly works with Worm at the Anchor side. I usually keep it to the End unless I go—I switch back and forth sometimes. Right now he’s working hard. He’s getting into film with us. He’s never scared of putting in extra work, also. He has that mindset where he wants to be good and he’s frustrated when he’s not dominating. I love seeing that out of the kid because it shows me that he wants to be great, just like I want to be great.”
What about you? How are you doing? Don Brown singled you out as one of the guys that was doing well.
“You know, it’s my senior year so—my goal is always to be the best of where I’m at, and my father always taught me never be second best to anybody. My goal’s always to be the best defensive end in the country right now, so that’s why I go out every practice and try to prove it. So far Coach Brown’s been loving it and hopefully every coach will. Like I said, I just go out there every day and practice with that mindset and hope it carries over to everybody else.”
How different is this defense with Don Brown as the coordinator, especially for the defensive line.
“We love him. We play hard for him. I think the whole defense does. He gets four of us on the field at the same time with the 4-3 defense and lets us attack, lets us play hard, lets us play aggressive and as a D-line that’s one thing you want to be able to do is play aggressive. Don’t have to worry about anything else, just out there and play and play hard, attack and make plays, and he allows us to do that.”
What’s the biggest difference for you? Is it just more knowledge and experience or are you stronger, faster, quicker?
“A little bit of all—I lost a little bit of weight, got my speed back. Got stronger in the offseason. Watched a lot of film of NFL guys. Got smarter. Met with a lot of coaches over the offseason. It’s just been a season I know I had to step up and I’ve done a pretty good job in practice doing that and being a leader on the defensive side of the ball, especially defensive line.”
Did you drop weight because you knew you were going to be on that edge and rushing again?
“Yeah, it was one of those things I got to talk to our coaches about and it’s something I really didn’t do myself. Met with Coach Mattison and Coach Brown, then I met with Coach Tolbert. Then we figured out what was that weight that was kind of in the middle—not too light, not too heavy, and it was perfect.”
What are you running now? What are your speed times?
“That I don’t know. I never was really—I was always one of the fast guys. Got a little faster.”
[More after THE JUMP]
Previously: Big Ten West
Good riddance. [Bryan Fuller]
We're still taking a look at the strongest and weakest units of each Big Ten squad, this time focusing on the East division. These are still in order of Bill Connelly's power rankings. You'll like this order.
Good News: [looks at defensive line depth chart] [cackles for several minutes]
Bad News: I know we all believe Ben Bredeson is going to be quite good, but I'd be lying if I said the news that a true freshman might start at left tackle doesn't give me the willies.
Good News: Linebacker, as usual, should be a strength, even if Ed Davis's dubious claim for a sixth year—we'll know for sure soon—doesn't go through. Riley Bullough isn't quite in that top tier of Big Ten MLBs, but he's close, and I think Jon Reschke is a quality player on the strong side. Sophomore Andrew Dowell is a player I really liked coming out of high school; he's stepping into the "STAR" spacebacker role after flashing promise as a freshman. Pulling some NCAA voodoo to get Davis another year could take this group from good to great.
Bad News: There are some major question marks (and ORs) on the depth chart on both lines, but for me the main area of concern is still the passing game. Tyler O'Connor has won the starting QB job; unless he improves dramatically from his (admittely limited) time of the field last year, there will be a noteworthy dropoff from Connor Cook. The bigger issue, though, might be the receiving corps. Cook's binky, Aaron Burbridge, is also off to the NFL, as is MacGarrett Kings Jr., leaving slot RJ Shelton as the only returning wideout with more than two catches last year. Experience is very important at both receiver and quarterback; State doesn't have much at either.
[Hit THE JUMP]