We're up late in late December for a bowl game between two unranked teams. 2013 cannot be over soon enough.
Marawatch knows you like nice things. May 2014 be one of those.
Tips for successful live blogging: "I accept the liveblog chaos mitigation rules, I'm not sure whether they accept me."
|WHAT||Michigan vs Kansas State|
|WHERE||Sun Devil Stadium
|WHEN||10:15 PM Eastern
December 28th, 2013
|THE LINE||Kansas State –5.5|
|WEATHER||Cloudy, 60 dropping to 50, no wind, no rain|
What if they played a bowl game in Arizona that kept moving and changing its name every other year? What if your team was in it? What if it was scheduled to end around 2 AM? I don't know, man. Let's find out.
Run Offense vs Kansas State
Remember Brennan Clay? He is good to have against Kansas State.
With Devin Gardner out, about which more later, this is where Michigan will have to make their hay. The bad news: Michigan's running game. The good news: Kansas State seems like a pretty bad rushing defense. Both of Football Outsiders' advanced stats think they're around 50th overall, which is not good in metrics that try to adjust for schedule strength. The Wildcat rush defense is particularly ugly at around 80th. Neither of these metrics know that NDSU went for 215 yards on 43 carries in the opener, either.
After that, things alternated between bad (177 yards on 40 carries for ULL) to real bad (227 on 47 for Texas) to actually okay (85 on 25 for Oklahoma State, albeit while Okie State was tearing KSU to shreds in the air) to a middling four game stretch before getting annihilated by Oklahoma (301 on 52). They did smother Kansas. Hooray.
Michigan is a rushing offense that could get smothered by anyone, but they have had two decent performances in their last three games and you'd hope that 18 bowl practices would help them figure some things out and get healthy; youth should improve faster than age, and Michigan's featuring almost entirely youth in its rushing core, which features two senior tackles and Fitzgerald Toussaint against, five freshmen (Smith, Green, Butt, Bosch, Kalis) and three sophomores (Glasgow, Kerridge, Williams). The figuring it out thing may be happening, at least to the tune of having something not heart-maulingly awful.
WAIT WHAT MITCH MCGARY WHAT
/rends flesh with hairshirt
Anyway. Kansas State's straight metrics are flattered by the prevalence of spread passing attacks in the Big 12; when they've come up against decent rushing offenses they've been hit hard. Michigan can make a case they've ratcheted themselves up to that level by nearing 200 yards. I have no idea if this is at all in the realm of possibility.
Key Matchup: Seriously, 2013, I hate you.
[Hit THE JUMP for just don't hit the jump]
Get used to this, unfortunately. (Photo: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)
AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH (via U-M Media Relations, emphasis mine):
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Friday, Dec. 27), that sophomore forward Mitch McGary (Chesterton, Ind./Brewster Academy [N.H.]) will be out indefinitely after electing to have a surgery performed on his lower back. There is no timetable for McGary’s return; however, the medical staff expects him to make a full recovery.
"My back problems have been a daily challenge ever since late August," said McGary. "We have worked hard rehabbing the injury and I thought that everything was proceeding in the right direction until the last two weeks. I have consulted with my family, my coaches and our doctors and decided the best option now is to have surgery. This was a difficult decision to make because I want to be out there with my teammates. At the same time, I need to be healthy to give everything I can on the court and help my team."
"We want Mitch to be 100 percent healthy again," said Beilein. "He has worked very hard over the last few months and during his earlier rehab. He was making progress in practice and games; however, lately he began to experience the same pain he had when we held him out of preseason practice this fall. Our first priority is Mitch's overall health even though I am certain he would rather be back on the court right now."
The timing couldn't be much worse with Big Ten season just around the corner. I'm no doctor (paging Heiko...) but I'm guessing Michigan will be lucky if McGary is back at anything close to full strength by postseason play.
UPDATE: More details, more despair:
John Beilein says Mitch McGary's indefinite absence could last entire season. McGary has not undergone surgery. Potentially coming next week
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) December 27, 2013
And the potential silver lining:
Just talked to a couple NBA guys -- both echoed same sentiment with McGary. With back issues and way be plays, could fall out of 1st round.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) December 27, 2013
It appears the best thing that could come out of this is McGary coming back for his junior year; that's not much consolation if this is a lost season for him, as is appears it will be.
Tyler Lockett is a rather frustrating assignment (via)
We're back! I'm here to tell you, after watching Kansas State's 41-31 loss to Oklahoma, that Michigan's upcoming bowl opponent is very bad at defending mobile quarterbacks, which is a great sign for... wait, say that again?
Well, the Sooners pulled away in the second half of this game on the strength of a 200-yard rushing performance from RB Brennan Clay and another 82 yards on the ground from backup quarterback Trevor Knight, who filled in admirably for injured starter Blake Bell and is quite a bit faster than Shane Morris. The Wildcats, on the other hand, couldn't establish anything on the ground, tallying 66 yards on 19 carries (sacks removed) while playing from behind for most of the contest. Is any of this relevant to Michigan? I have no idea! Let's talk about it anyway.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread. It's possible that KSU is closer to a hybrid, as they did show some I-form looks and utilize a fullback even in some shotgun formations, but in this game they were almost exclusively in the gun and utilized plenty of spread concepts.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? This game didn't provide a great look at KSU's run game; when they did, they mixed in a healthy amount of zone read with more traditional power runs, a couple end-arounds, and far less of the misdirection-type stuff Brian pointed out in his early look at the Wildcats—likely due to circumstance more than a change in philosophy.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Grind it out. The home crowd at Kansas State spent much of the game counting down the final ticks of the play clock to help out their quarterbacks; they take their sweet time between plays, and given how Michigan has fared against high-tempo offenses this year that's fine by me.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Bill Snyder has utilized a two-quarterback system for much of the season; like Northwestern's Colter/Siemian duo, the Wildcats feature a pocket passer, Jake Waters, and a run-first threat, Daniel Sams. Waters is more mobile than Siemian and is utilized in the read-option game, though mostly as a means to keep the defense honest—he's not particularly fast or elusive, so I'll give him a 4. Sams, on the other hand, rushed 148 times at 5.2 ypc against just 52 pass attempts; he gets a strong 8, with the caveat that he barely featured in this particular game.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Per Hoke's press conference this morning, Shane Morris will start the Copper Bowl in place of Devin Gardner, whose fourth metatarsal finally fell off after hanging precariously from a piece of torn cloth that was being used to hold together what remained of his last rib. Or, you know. Per people on twitter Gardner broke his foot against OSU, then kept playing. Add to the list of people who should never have to pay for beer within 4 miles of Ann Arbor the rest of his life (once he's eligible to have beers bought for him).
In the recent practice report video are guys talking about Morris; you can take Jehu Chesson:
"He does a good job, you know, reading the defense, you know, getting the ball to us. A lot of people talk about his arm; he has a good arm, great arm, um, uh, [shakes head]. The other people talk about does he throw the ball too hard. You know, with Shane, whenever he's going to be in the game, or when he's in the game or what, he's going to make the right throws at the right time and the right decisions because that's what a Michigan quarterback is expected to do."
…and Taylor Lewan:
"He has the potential to be an extremely good player. [Thing about lefty QB means Lewan is no longer blind side]. I think given the opportunity, and if he stays confident and all those things, he's going to be very successful."
…at their words. Or you can read between lines and use your expertise from watching Lie to Me to discern panicky things from Jehu's microexpressions. Being a negative nancy blogger I shall of course do the latter.
Also in that video the starting linebackers are both practicing, so there's that at least.