alternate title: YOU ARE OLD AND WILL DIE VERY SOON
coming to a slot seam matchup near you?
I'm a tiny bit skeptical here since the source right now is recruit Iman Marshall (and Freddy Canteen if Canteen isn't just reacting to that) and Michigan's coaches other than Mattison haven't seen Peppers take a snap, but it's out there:
@JabrillPeppers moving to safety is good, can scrape the field left to right .. And is 2nd to none at it, peppy pep
— OneSeven (@FreddCanteen_) January 21, 2015
Michigan does return Countess and Lewis at corner, plus Channing Stribling, Terry Richardson, and Brandon Watson. If they find a third guy there's enough depth there to make the move. Meanwhile Michigan never settled on a safety opposite Jarrod Wilson last year, rotating through Delano Hill, Jeremy Clark, and Dymonte Thomas with middling success.
"But why?", you ask?
We have seen a lot of defenses move to a quarters system of varying aggressiveness as a response to the spread, and depending on how good and deep your safeties are that's either gone really well (Michigan State two years ago) or gotten you blazed down the slot whenever you run up against a good offense (Michigan State last year). OSU is also playing quarters for the most part, and when they're not they're putting a lot of pressure on a single high safety.
This trend comes from the NFL, where passing offenses were more advanced and you could unearth a freak of nature more often at safety. Chris Brown on quarters:
At first glance, Cover 4 looks like an anti-pass “prevent” formation, with four secondary defenders playing deep. But therein lies its magic. The four defenders are actually playing a matchup zone concept, in which the safety reads the tight end or inside receiver. If an offensive player lined up inside releases on a short pass route or doesn’t release into the route, the safety can help double-team the outside receiver. If the inside receiver breaks straight downfield, it becomes more like man coverage. This variance keeps quarterbacks guessing and prevents defenses from being exploited by common pass plays like four verticals, which killed eight-man fronts. The real key to Cover 4, however, is that against the run both safeties become rush defenders (remember, the outside cornerbacks play deep). This allows defenses to play nine men in the box against the run — a hat-tip to the 46’s overwhelming force.
The problem college teams often face is what happens when that man coverage from a vertical receiver comes from the offense's best WR against your third-best cover guy: the touchdowns linked above.
In a spread-oriented world, a safety has to be a corner and a linebacker at the same time. This is very hard, and modern offenses are targeting them more than anyone else for their big plays. After decades in which cornerbacks were the glamor players in any given secondary, the way many teams are playing and the shortcomings against slot receivers exposed this year demands a new, crazy athlete safety, even at the college level.
That's Peppers. If Michigan is set on quarters coverage, he's a guy who can sit over that "slot" receiver and not give up a major athleticism mismatch.
UPDATE: Peppers seems to confirm on the twitters.
Caris LeVert is out for the year. Several players were sick. Zak Irvin sat most of the first half with foul trouble. Derrick Walton didn't hit a shot until the game's waning minutes.
Sean Lonergan and Andrew Dakich played—at the same time. Aubrey Dawkins led the team in made field goals—with four. The Wolverines were 8/26 from beyond the arc—and 9/23 inside of it.
Michigan beat Rutgers on the road.
It wasn't aesthetically pleasing. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. It was... kinda fun?
The plucky underdog role suits this team, unburdened from expectations. The missteps are much more understandable, while stuff like "WALK-ON LAYUP OUT OF NOWHERE" provides genuine joy. The offense remained disjointed and relatively ineffective, but there's hope to be found in Aubrey Dawkins scoring an efficient 11 points, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman finishing a couple strong drives to the rim, Max Bielfeldt—Max Bielfeldt!—posting 8 and 8. While M didn't shoot the ball well from the outside, they generated a lot of good looks, and the defense—albeit Rutgers-aided tonight—continued to be pleasantly decent.
Losing the lead in the second half felt expected, not disastrous. Then Spike Albrecht scooped in a running layup, Walton drilled back-to-back triples, and Bielfeldt extended the lead with a three moments after he pulled down an offensive rebound. Walton and Irvin iced the game at the line, and just like that, Michigan is 5-2 in the Big Ten.
It's probably not going to last. Wisconsin comes to town on Saturday, and they're easily the best team in the conference. Then again, they lost to Rutgers last week. For tonight, let's celebrate the weird guys, in all their weird glory.
needs updating: "MILK: never heard of it"
I couldn't find the rocket fuel. Add it to the pile:
"This one time I was a kid, we didn't have any milk for cereal," says Jay Harbaugh, 25. "He put Gatorade in the cereal instead of milk. It was the weirdest thing I ever saw.
"I didn't try it. For good reason. That's not where Gatorade goes."
Later that day he poured a Red Bull on his pizza, with powdered sugar donuts for dessert. IF YOU GET MY DRIFT
DO YOU GET IT? I have to explain everything.
ANYWAY. It's not the worst idea in the world.
409? 45. When you absolutely need something burned to the ground, you could do a lot worse than calling on Keith Olbermann:
It'll never happen, but if Michigan hockey all wore "45" stickers on their helmets the next time they played Penn State I'd be real happy. 45? The number of counts Sandusky was convicted on.
Snipe. Michael Hurley is some dude in Boston who's confused why Michigan fans are high-fiving him online today. You do the Lord's Work, Mr. Hurley:
“There are well-founded whispers in the NFL that the underlings who supply towels in the visiting locker room sometimes run back to the home locker room to share what they heard.”
This is stupid. This is lazy. This is irresponsible “journalism” from Sports Illustrated. This should not be published, period.
“The Patriots supposedly stopped videotaping opponents’ defensive signals when they got caught in 2007, but opponents wonder if they are still stealing them.”
I wonder every single day if I’m going to get hit by a comet and wiped off the face of the earth. It does not mean it’s going to come true. “Reporting” on what opponents wonder is pathetic.
That is an on-point fisk of a pile of not-even-Googled Michael Rosenberg assertions about the Patriots in the wake of slightly-less-inflated-ball-gate. Someone send him an "I Oblierated Michael Rosenberg On The Internet And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt" shirt.
“Maybe some of this is overstated.”
A pattern arises.
JOBS (one of which some of you might be qualified for). A number of jobs have been posted on Michigan's site with which they do that federally-mandated thing, and they're interesting in terms of program direction even if you're not trying to fit in one of the gaps—a number of these are probably already decided upon anyway.
One might not be. There's a "recruiting coordinator" spot that is heavy on the twitter/vine/swipe-right-to-commit end of things:
- Create Highlight Tapes that are used on Unofficial and Official Visits
- Create Highlights of Michigan Football that are used for social media
- Create Highlights from Prospects game tape for the coaches to evaluate.
- Handle the logistics for Video Presentation at the Stadium with prospects.
- Create and Coordinate Michigan Vine Video Account
Good to see that they're going to be more out there on the social medias than Hoke was—not that Hoke was particularly hampered by not doing this until his offense died in a hole.
(Note that Chris Singletary's title is "director of player personnel" and that a bunch of these responsibilities are not currently taken care of. Singletary's staying and this spot likely reports to him.)
There's also an "offensive football analyst" spot that sounds a lot like the video coordinator stuff I know they're already doing with extra snitchin':
7) Monitor team curfew during preseason training camp.
8) Lifestyle monitoring of student-athletes. Monitor off-campus student-athlete housing.
And a "player development" spot which also seems like it will report to Singletary and help him do more.
And even though they didn't get Shannon Turley there's no question that's what Harbaugh wants his S&C program to look like. Michigan's posted a "performance manager" post that sounds like it's at the full Turley/Chip Kelly level of sophistication…
1. Clinical application and administration of comprehensive performance analytics and lifetime wellness services for student-athletes as assigned.
2. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to assess training loads, neuromuscular fatigue, athlete readiness, and other performance factors.
3. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to develop protocols to monitor and enhance rest, recovery, and regeneration, and athlete readiness.
Say goodbye, kids:
- Ability to work long hours, including early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays, overtime, non-traditional work hours, extended periods of time without days off, travel, and be on-call as a regular part of the position;
They also posted a "performance nutrition" spot two weeks ago. It sounds like they're fleshing out the support staff—IIRC Harbaugh often makes requests for extra resources in these departments.
Midterm CSBs out. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau provides an official-ish draft ranking around this time of year, and this one features a particularly prominent set of Michigan-affiliated players. (A reminder: the CSB separates Euro and North American skaters, so multiply a player's ranking by about 1.3 to get an approximate draft position.) They are:
- #6 Zach Werenski, D, already enrolled
- #14 Kyle Connor, F, Youngstown (USHL)
- #34 Brendan Warren, F, USA U18 (USHL)
- #70 Joe Cecconi, D, Muskegon (USHL)
- #176 Nick Boka, D, USA U18 (USHL)
That's two likely first round picks, a second-rounder, a mid-round guy, and a guy who might go late. Goalie Hayden Lavigne and forward Connor Murphy are the only incoming players not ranked. Murphy was ranked last year whilst tearing up Ontario Junior B, but after a move to the USHL's Chicago Steel sees him with a 10-10-20 line in 33 games he's dropped off the radar—as 5'9" kids who aren't murdering the competition tend to do.
FWIW, if Michigan doesn't add anyone before the summer that might be an indication they expect to return just about everyone they are able to next year. The three incoming F and two outgoing D match Michigan's departures (At F: Hyman, Lynch, Sinelli; on D: Serville, Chiasson) precisely.
Michigan is carrying a longer roster than they usually do, but right now I don't think anyone is going to be in a spot where their NHL team would be encouraging a quick signing. Maybe Larkin, if Larkin wasn't a draftee of the very patient Red Wings. Maybe Werenski if he gets picked by an exceptionally jumpy team.
But it's Michigan hockey so don't believe they're there until three weeks into the season.
UPDATE: I didn't look at recruits scheduled to come in for 2016, so I missed #63 Cooper Marody and #192 Sam Miletic, both USHL forwards.
Jedd Fisch background. He's completely out of nowhere:
While most of the members of Harbaugh's staff have an immediate connection to the head coach, Fisch doesn't.
He met Harbaugh for the first time when he got off the plane in Ann Arbor. However, he does have a long-standing coaching relationship with Vic Fangio, Harbaugh's defensive coordinator for four years with the San Francisco 49ers and one year with Stanford.
Fisch does have a knack for getting good jobs, and Harbaugh's hiring history is impeccable. Hopefully that's a bright young mind in a bad situation kind of thing instead of Kiffin 2.0; I'm guessing it's the former until evidence says otherwise.
While we're on the topic, here's MGoVideo has some Jedd Fisch miked up stuff, including a moment where he yells at Denard. Not, like, Rodriguez-yells. He's much more laid back. So are coked-up hyenas. Why am I talking about this?
Etc.: Soccer alum Justin Meram got a start for Iraq at the Asian Championships. Nine caps and counting. You'll never guess where Pat Forde slots Michigan on his list of winners and losers in the coaching carousel. (If you are deliberately obtuse.)
When it rains, it pours (Upchurch / MGoBlog)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Table of Contents:
Week III Results
Post-Week III Standings
Team of the Week: Iowa
Player of the Week: D’Angelo Russell
Stat of the Week: Youth and Success
Various B1G Thoughts
Michigan’s Week That Was
IT’S TIME TO PANIC
Week IV Schedule
Some Personal News
1. Week III Results
There weren’t any true upsets this week, as the conference race is starting to take shape. Indiana staved off a challenge from Penn State and notched a nice road win against Illinois (without Rayvonte Rice); Illinois defeated Northwestern in Evanston, Purdue had a miraculous sequence at the end of regulation to win against PSU in Happy Valley, and Iowa failed to choke away a game against rival Minnesota in the Barn – those were the only road wins, none of which could really be considered upsets.
Maryland and Ohio State each had impressive home blowouts, over Michigan St. and Michigan, respectively. Other than that, there wasn’t much of note in terms of on-court results – everything more or less went as expected, to a large extent.
2. Post-Week III Big Ten Standings
Even though Maryland has one more win than Wisconsin (due to scheduling), the Badgers are still the class of the conference from an efficiency standpoint, even though they haven’t faced any legitimate challengers yet. The Terps are a weird team – they have the 9th-best offensive efficiency and best defensive efficiency in conference play.
From there, the race is still indistinct. Iowa finally shook off their late-game demons after squandering a lead at Minnesota, only to win on a late Jarrod Uthoff jumper, and held off Ohio State at home; Indiana still has a negative efficiency margin, remarkably – that blowout loss in East Lansing has overshadowed an otherwise decent start to Big Ten play; Michigan State’s schedule will start to get easier from here on out; Michigan is assuredly out of the race after Caris LeVert’s injury.
One other thing: Poor Damn Minnesota. They have a very disappointing 1-5 record, but the Gophers are only four points worse than their opponents over 100 possessions. I’m not sure if I’m crazy for thinking this, but I don’t think it’s over for them quite yet.
Click on image to enlarge. Data’s starting to fill in a little bit.
3. Team of the Week: Iowa
The moment when Iowa purged its late-game demons (source)
Though Maryland is currently atop the standings and Wisconsin – the clear frontrunner for the conference title – has an excellent efficiency margin, it might be time to seriously consider Iowa as a potential challenger. They’ve rightfully received plenty of attention for their chronic propensity to blow leads in the second half; they’re still one of the better teams in the country, when they’re at their best.
Minnesota erased a 17-point second-half deficit and took a two possession lead late in the game, only for some unfortunate missed front-ends and clutch baskets from Jarrod Uthoff to enable Iowa to steal the game late. It’s hard to assess whether Iowa’s late-game struggles over the past two seasons are an inherent problem – the analytically-inclined would be more likely to ascribe simple bad luck as the root cause, but at a certain point, it’s harder to explain away. Regardless, the win over Minnesota is a nice sign. Iowa’s still not exactly a team that exudes reliability, but a 4-1 start is undoubtedly positive.
After this week, they’ve swept Ohio State – remarkably, the Buckeyes are now two games out of first place after three weeks of conference play. Iowa’s win this past weekend showed off their capabilities when they’re playing particularly well: they attacked the basket well and got to the free throw line a lot (and converted there); they forced the Buckeyes into an uncharacteristic 16-42 (38%) from two-point range; they managed to overcome a herculean performance for D’Angelo Russell and a mini-run early in the second half that could have led to another backbreaking comeback against the Hawkeyes.
It’s still a little tough to trust Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have generally been playing good basketball this season – an insane barrage of threes from Michigan State notwithstanding. The Hawkeyes might be a step below Maryland and Wisconsin, but they should receive plenty of attention – they might be the best team behind those two.
Previously – Maryland (Week I), Rutgers (Week II)
[HIT THE JUMP for the rest of the article / lamentations on our bad luck]
Michigan (11-7, 4-2 B1G) at
Rutgers (10-9, 2-4)
Louis Brown Athletic Center,
Piscataway, New Jersey
|WHEN||6:30 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Rutgers -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Joe Davis
Analyst: Dan Bonner
Right: Look up Rutgers mascot images, get free nightmares for life. (Source)
The injury situation went from limiting to dire in a hurry, with the worst of it being Caris LeVert's season-ending foot fracture suffered on the final play of Saturday's Northwestern game.
It doesn't end there. Spike Albrecht and Ricky Doyle are both questionable due to illness; after Albrecht missed the whole game and Doyle the second half on Saturday, neither practiced Sunday. The same bug has limited Zak Irvin, though he's been able to play and practice through it. Kameron Chatman is questionable due to swelling in his knee.
Even the scout team has been hit hard. DJ Wilson still isn't cleared for full-court practice, so he's not (yet) a candidate to have his redshirt lifted. Transfer Duncan Robinson, who isn't even eligible to play, has sat out the last few weeks with a sprained ankle. Things got so bad this week that David Merritt, the former walk-on point guard, suited up for practice alongside coaches and team managers. No, he doesn't have any more eligibility.
If the questionable players can't go, Michigan will have a very short bench. The presumed starting lineup would be Walton-MAAR-Irvin-Dawkins-Donnal, leaving Max Bielfeldt as the only scholarship player off the bench. Walk-on Sean Lonergan practiced with the first team Monday in anticipation of getting serious minutes.
Not losing to Rutgers would be nice.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||4||Myles Mack||Sr.||5'10, 175||90||24||Kinda|
|Scoring and assist leader is RU's only player with ORtg above 100.|
|G||2||Bishop Daniels||Jr.||6'3, 185||43||26||Kinda|
|Not very efficient but draws a lot of fouls. Very turnover-prone.|
|F||10||Junior Etou||So.||6'7, 230||76||16||Kinda|
|Team's best defensive rebounder. Iffy shooter.|
|F||11||Kadeem Jack||Sr.||6'9, 235||70||27||Yes|
|43% on twos and 29% on threes, so naturally takes a crapton of shots.|
|C||35||Greg Lewis||Jr.||6'9, 245||63||15||Very|
|Good rim protector, mediocre rebounder and finisher.|
|G||6||Mike Williams||Fr.||6'2, 190||60||19||Yes|
|Spot-up shooter who can't knock down shots (23% 3P).|
|F||22||DJ Foreman||Fr.||6'8, 230||35||16||Not really|
|Inconsistent finisher draws lots of fouls but has hit just 7/25 FTs.|
|C||40||Shaquille Doorson||Fr.||6'11, 275||23||12||Very|
|Low usage, solid off. rebounder and shot-blocker, TO- and foul-prone.|
Rutgers had a rough go in nonconference play, losing to #180 St. Peter's and #174 St. Francis at home and failing to come within 17 points of the three top-100 squads they faced. They started off the Big Ten schedule by losing at home to Northwestern, edged Penn State by four at home, got blown out at Nebraska, and then... beat Wisconsin. Yes, the Badgers were without Frank Kaminsky, but that's still deeply bizarre.
The Scarlet Knights have followed up their signature win with road losses to Maryland and Minnesota, the latter giving the Gophers their first conference win.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
HEY. With searchapalooza over and LeVert out and hockey at least in contention for a bid this year, let's talk about hockey some more.
THE SITUATION. Michigan has put itself in decent shape after a streak in which it's won nine of ten games. Now 13-7, Michigan is 17th in RPI and the Pairwise. To have a chance they'll have to be at least 15th and to feel secure they'd have to hit 12. How many wins that would take is hard to judge. They barely moved after the Minnesota sweep, shot up to 14th with one game over OSU, and now have slid back down to 17 solely because of other teams' activities. It is volatile out there.
A REMINDER. The new jazzed-up RPI is pretty much all that matters. Changes a few years ago have made it very difficult for the Pairwise to deviate from RPI at all:
- there are only three categories
- one is RPI
- one is head to head and a lot of teams don't play each other
- RPI is also the tiebreaker
As a result you have to lose the other two categories to lose a comparison you would otherwise win. That requires losing both head to head and common opponents. This happens very, very infrequently.
THE GOOD NEWS. Michigan's put themselves in a situation where they are more likely to move up rapidly than down. There are four teams behind them within a single point; there are seven ahead of them.
Also, Michigan's heavily away-and-neutral schedule is horrible for fans but good for RPI. One of the tweaks they made a few years back was to weight road wins and home losses at 1.2 and home wins and road losses at 0.8. This is an affront to mathematics—a road win is worth 50% more than home win in a sport with a long-term home win percentage around 55%—and it's hurting Michigan right now since they've played a lot of unfairly devalued home games and not a lot of unfairly valued road games.
Michigan has been trudging through quicksand here despite win after win; the combination of the two above factors means that if they keep the winning up they should get some traction soon.
THE BAD NEWS. The Big Ten is so bad—if the season ended today they would be a one-bid conference like Atlantic Hockey—that Michigan is going to have to win a lot of games to feel anywhere near safe when conference play is over.
Only Minnesota and Penn State have any shot at an at-large, and since to make good on that shot they're going to have to beat the other teams with a shot it looks like the only way the Big Ten gets more than one team in is for one team to run away with the regular season title and then lose in the crapshoot tourney.
The Big Ten is not quite working out like people feared.
THE WISCONSIN NEWS. Michigan's opponent this weekend is shockingly bad. The Badgers have seven NHL draft picks and went 24-11-2 last year; they are currently 2-13-3. They've been outscored 2 to 1 on the season; they have one guy with a positive plus-minus. That is bad.
I would not be surprised if by the end of the year Wisconsin is so bad that even wins over them would lower Michigan's RPI. RPI fixed that a while back by dropping games like that out of the equation entirely (Michigan's wins against American International are already in that category), but even so that means Michigan can't do much other than but go backwards this weekend. A sweep doesn't help much, if at all; anything else provides an anchor in which Wisconsin's schedule becomes a sucking hole in Michigan's SOS.
Irritatingly, Wisconsin is already a problem for Michigan: They took three points from Ferris in a weekend series, beat Michigan Tech one night after losing 8-1, and tied Minnesota last weekend. Each of those non-wins seriously hurts those teams, and by extension Michigan.
The moral of the story: don't expect much.
ROOTING GUIDE. Hold your nose and root for Minnesota the rest of the way. RPI includes a quality win bonus for teams in the top 20 and Michigan has two wins over the Gophers. Also root for Tech and UMass-Lowell, for the same reasons.
Root for Wisconsin to end the season with two wins, because if they are bad enough to get dropped from RPI entirely at the end of the seasons that means they'll have transferred some schedule strength to the rest of the conference, and root for the bubble to collapse.