This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
For the second straight game, Wilton Speight came on in relief of Jake Rudock at quarterback in the second half.
This time around, though, Rudock wasn't injured as Michigan went toe-to-toe with Minnesota; instead, he took a well-deserved rest after his career day headlined a blowout of Rutgers. Rudock completed 18 of 25 attempts for a career-high 337 yards and two touchdowns, adding a third score with an unlikely scramble to the pylon. Jim Harbaugh called him "tough as a two-dollar steak" for his performance coming off last week's injury.
Rudock looked better than he has at any other point this season, to the benefit of many—ten different Wolverines logged a reception. Michigan exploited a bad Rutgers secondary in a variety of ways. A Sione Houma wheel route set up a post route touchdown to Jehu Chesson; Michigan's second huge gain on a screen led to Rudock's dive to the pylon; a motion swing pass to Jabrill Peppers accounted for the third score; Jake Butt spent much of the day running free up the seam on his way to a career-high 102 receiving yards.
Butt would've had even more if not for a penalty of substituting with an "intent to deceive," a rule that seems to go against the core tenets of football, and it may have been misapplied anyway, as Rutgers simply didn't bother to account for Butt after he left the huddle. In the postgame presser, Jim Harbaugh said he was "offended" by the call.
Creative officiating was about the only way Michigan's offense could be slowed. The Wolverines finished with 487 yards. While the running game took a while to come around, the multiple successful screens were fine in its place until De'Veon Smith got it going in the second half, finishing with 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
The defense bounced back from an iffy performance against Minnesota with a stifling one against Rutgers, ceding 225 yards and only six points that weren't set up by long returns. Janarion Grant accounted for the other ten, breaking a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and setting up an end-of-half field goal with a punt return inside the ten. My only additional comment is both those returns also involved some creative officiating.
The defensive line, led by Chris Wormley (two sacks), dominated like usual, even after Ryan Glasgow exited with a shoulder injury—his status wasn't updated after the game. Royce Jenkins-Stone returned to his normal spot as the starting BUCK and aquitted himself well with a sack and two QB hurries.
Jarrod Wilson, long lauded here for being comfortingly boring, made an exceptionally un-boring play when he got over the top of a pass to Grant and dove for an interception. Jourdan Lewis, whom Chris Laviano inexplicably targeted with frequency, matched and surpassed the school single-season record for pass breakups previously held by Leon Hall and Marlin Jackson; his record-breaking 19th PBU killed a late Rutgers drive.
By that time, little was in doubt except when Harbaugh would call off the dogs. He didn't do so until midway through the fourth quarter with all the scoring—including a rather inexplicable two-point conversion after Smith's touchdown to give M a 43-16 lead—already in the books.
The rote blowout had enough moments of excitement to stay interesting, especially the Peppers touchdown, which looked destined for a TFL until he found an extra gear or three to blow past multiple defenders.
"I knew he was good, but man, he's really good," Harbaugh said of Peppers.
Rutgers is probably saying similar about Michigan after getting hit with arguably their best offensive performance of the year.
By Heiko Yang
Sometimes you get burned.
In medicine, everyone has stories about “that time I missed diagnosis X because I was so sure it was diagnosis Y.” Earlier this year I missed a retroperitoneal bleed because I was utterly convinced that my patient’s back pain was a routine case of muscle spasms from straining to get out of bed (he was not in the best physical shape). I coolly presented my findings as “benign” and “unremarkable” only to watch in horror as the senior resident ran her hand over the subtle but sinister-looking bruise tracking along the patient’s flank.
It was one of the few moments in medical school where quitting seemed like a good idea.
The reaction is pretty natural, I think. Misdiagnosis happens, but at a tertiary center like Michigan, a lot of times Y is some weird life-threatening thing while X is garden variety, so you just feel a little silly and move on. But when it’s the other way around, especially if you don’t catch your mistake and something horrible happens to your patient*, you feel like you no longer deserve to be a doctor. The negative reinforcement is so powerful that there’s even an acronym for it – IGBO, or “I Got Burned Once” – because it’s actually kind of a healthcare problem. Costs increase and routine problems become more complicated by doctors who recommend unnecessary tests and interventions because they have PTSD from the last time they missed the rare but scary diagnosis. You better believe I’m going to think “retroperitoneal bleed” every time a patient on a blood thinner complains of back pain, and it’ll be a conscious effort to resist the urge to scan every one of them.
Last week Michigan’s defense got burned. Minnesota got lucky and hit a few big plays in the first half, which put the Wolverines on their heels for the rest of the game and gave the Gophers the opportunity to hit even more big plays. The way everything played out made it a little easier to appreciate the overused adage about the secondary having a “short memory.” They have the unenviable position of being almost always culpable for the big 20+ yard gainers, and letting those mistakes influence how they play the next down usually just leads to more mistakes. The signs and symptoms of IGBO were rampant throughout the secondary. It felt like they were still reliving the last big play on every snap.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that Michigan’s secondary is relatively inexperienced. Half of the major contributors – Hill, Thomas, and Clark – are new. I’m optimistic about this. With more and more experience, they’ll learn to spend less time dwelling on their mistakes as they eventually adopt the cool poise of seasoned veterans. In the short term, however, the fact that Michigan won should help eliminate the hangover from last week’s poor performance and hasten the return to form this week. Instead of the 3rd-and-17 conversion or Channing Stribling’s bust on the double move, the last big plays they remember from this game should be the goal-line stand and then racing to the opposite sideline to reclaim the jug.
Oh, and they’re playing Rutgers. That should help, too.
Rutgers 3, Michigan 31
*Don’t worry, that patient ended up doing okay. It’s a good thing they don’t let medical students make any real decisions.
By Nick RoUMel
IGBO. Just “once,” Heiko?
I’m not sure how I feel about a profession whose practitioners will admit to only one mistake. We lawyers screw up all the time, whether it’s missing a shortened statute of limitations buried deep in the fine print of an employment application from 20 years ago, or bungling strategy on the verge of victory that’s the legal equivalent of Minnesota’s final 19 seconds last Saturday.
On the other hand, we lawyers wrote the U.S. Constitution while doctors were still curing people with leeches. (But when you look at how people still argue about what the Constitution means over 220 years later, maybe we screwed that up too.)
One mistake we can all agree on: Rutgers does not belong in the Big Ten. It still baffles me why the conference honchos thought it was a good idea to expand the conference in this fashion. Rutgers? Nebraska? Maryland? I’m sure the addition of these three red-clad teams also relates to one of our founding fathers - or in the vernacular, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”
Today one of those outliers engages in noble battle with a team from Michigan, the heartland of the conference. On paper this is a mismatch. The favorites, despite some heart stopping moments, have are a strong team that has exceeded a lot of expectations. The underdog is already on the verge of a losing season and is playing today with an air of desperation.
However, we do know they can move the ball and score points; it’s their defense that’s a question mark. One advantage they have is that the favorite may be overlooking them. It’s the worst kind of trap game.
I feel pretty strongly about the upset. And frankly, nothing will make me happier:
BIG RED 33, MICHIGAN …. STATE 28
Whoops, did I make a mistake? Well at least no one got hurt!
Let’s try again. The good guys win, but not so convincingly:
MICHIGAN 28, SCARLET KNIGHTS 20
In a game Michigan controlled from the outset, the John Beilein's Wolverines defeated Patrick Beilein's Le Moyne Dolphins, 74-52, in the exhibition tune-up before the season tips off for real a week from tonight. Caris LeVert led all scorers with 22 points on 17 shots; Duncan Robinson came off the bench for 15, hitting three of his six three-pointers, and Derrick Walton added 13 on seven shot equivalents.
Some scattered thoughts from the game:
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good. There's not too much more to say here except that both looked fully healthy. LeVert's ability to create his own offense outside the arc bailed out some stagnant possessions. Walton is back to his normal self; he had a couple strong takes to the hoop in transition and knocked down a pull-up jumper off a late-clock drive—these were the shots he couldn't get last year because of his injury.
Mark Donnal got the start at center, but he still doesn't look like Michigan's best big man. While Donnal hit three of his five shots, the two misses were layups—not a great sign against a woefully undersized opponent. He affected some shots at the rim but still looked a step slow on defense.
Ricky Doyle only played 12 minutes; I don't think that's a reflection of the pecking order as much as Beilein wanting to see what he has in Donnal and Moe Wagner, who played most of his 11 minutes at the five. Doyle looked much like he did last year, scoring on his lone post-up opportunity and grabbing five boards while allowing a couple other rebound chances to find their way to Le Moyne. Wagner was active but a little lost out there, which doesn't come as a huge surprise; he did look like he could contribute this season in a pinch.
Michigan really missed Zak Irvin, who sat out the game with a back injury that shouldn't affect his availability during the season. With Irvin out of the lineup, Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson played most of the minutes at the four, and their inability to hit the outside shot—a combined 0/6, with Aubrey Dawkins also missing his four attempts from beyond the arc—limited the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan couldn't get much pick-and-roll offense going and mostly scored with one-on-one takes and off-ball movement; not having Irvin to spread the floor constricted some space to operate in the paint.
Chatman's scoring output remains frustrating, especially since he can do other things well; he's a good passer an one of the team's more reliable rebounders. If he can't put the ball in the bucket, though, he'll cede minutes to someone else; he's not strong enough as a perimeter defender to justify getting minutes otherwise.
Wilson is an interesting case. He runs the floor really well—he's a weapon in transition—and he alters shots at the rim, but he doesn't look totally comfortable with his outside shot and he got blown by on the perimeter for a couple layups. He hit a face-up jumper on a post-up and may be better suited for the five, especially if Donnal struggles.
Duncan Robinson is going to pose major problems to opposing defenses. He looked great shooting the ball, as expected, hitting 3/6 triples. Encouragingly, he also hit 3/4 two-pointers, with much of that offense set up by him making nice off-ball cuts. He had an up-and-down game defensively playing primarily the three, but he's going to get a lot of time regardless.
Aubrey Dawkins had an off night on both ends. I'm not concerned at all about his offense—we know he'll be fine on that end. The more concerning stuff came on defense; he got pulled a couple times for Robinson when he ran right into screens and gave up open outside shots. Perimeter defense is a work-in-progress on a team-wide basis; Le Moyne got off 28 three-pointers and many of those were solid looks.
For an exhibition game in which the team was missing a critical starter and trying out a ton of different lineups, this went fine. The offense should function much better with Irvin on the court, Robinson looks as advertised as an offensive weapon, and the two stars who played looked like their old selves tonight.
Before this season, some betting site was looking for someone in Michigan media to take/write-up the under on 7.5 wins, and got me to bite. I figured falling short of 4-3 versus @Utah, BYU, MSU, OSU, @PSU, @Maryland and @Minnesota was foreseeable, since bad things do happen, and whatever deity was in charge of whom they happen to was the George Lucas of gods.
The George Lucas God of Football creates an amazing thing that you will buy into, then turns it on you because he misunderstands what made his original, authentic creation so awesome, and he is immune to being told otherwise.
The George Lucas God is gone, his opus now in the hands of one of its earliest and geekiest fans. You know this geek has been quite successful—like he turned Stanford Trek into a good movie, before turning around the Mission Impossible franchise. You know he was left plenty to work with. You see trailers that confirm this could not suck. When do you believe again?
There's just a 2.1% chance my 7-win prediction comes true. There's a much higher chance this one could be as good as 1969's A New Hope. I still can't get myself to believe, but the numbers are there. There's even a scenario where…
[After the JUMP: a thing Rutgers is good at]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam regales us with his marital advice, which is very good marital advice that everyone should emulate.
- We eventually talk about football. Ed lords it over us that he thought this game would be tight, and I reject him wholeheartedly.
- Rutgers! Not good.
- A little basketball scrimmage talk stuck in at the end there.
THE USUAL LINKS
|WHAT||Rutgers at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||3:30 PM Eastern
November 7th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –24.5|
|PARKING||Limited availability from $20|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, 0% chance of rain, 50s dropping to 40s|
Should have saved grumpy cat for this week.
Parking note sponsored by Park 'n' Party, which is your fancy same-place-all-the-time tailgate headquarters. They tell me they're now expanding into catering and equipment so they can accommodate all levels of commitment. They also say that if you wait you will not get parking and then you will
wander the earth doomed for all time have to explain this to your spouse. Seriously, they sold out for MSU and OSU is on the way.
Rutgers isn't good at football. Nor are they good at cloak and dagger attempts to raise a player's grades, keeping that player and several others from committing a series of robberies, recruiting, basketball, public relations, and most other things.
Playing Rutgers is an opportunity to reflect on the pure hypocrisy of not paying the players when people like Jim Delany have done everything in their power to make slightly more money, which generally goes to Jim Delany and people like him.
Run Offense vs Rutgers
Steve Longa is a prime tacklist for Rutgers
Michigan has really struggled in this department thanks to a confluence of factors. With literally no downfield passing game, safeties sit just behind the linebackers. In their first year in a new system—and for a few people a new position—Michigan commits too many mental errors in blocking for efficiency. The tailbacks get only what is blocked and sometimes a good deal less than that.
Add it up and it is very bleah when a wide receiver isn't loping downfield virtually uncontested. Surprisingly, that's happened enough that Michigan has shiny number in the fancy stats—26th. That makes little sense when all of their peripheral factors are average at best, but here we are. One thing they have going for them: they've actually played a lot of good to very good rush defenses.
Rutgers is not that. In Rutgers they find the most pliant rushing defense they've run across since UNLV. The Cable Subscribers lost star defensive tackle Darius Hamilton for the year, and the floodgates opened:
- Penn State: 41 rushes, 330 yards
- Michigan State: 37 rushes, 122 yards
- Indiana: 34 rushes, 163 yards
- Ohio State: 49 rushes, 281 yards
- Wisconsin: 38 rushes, 209 yards
With the exception of Michigan State's rickety OL all teams not named Norfolk State and Kansas have sandblasted the Rutgers rush D, which is 108th in S&P+.
Rutgers is seriously undersized, with only one guy approaching 300 pounds on the DL. With three freshmen starting in the secondary when a rush gets to them they blow it a lot. Rutgers does a ton of slanting and shifting and blitzing in an effort to conceal their inability to stand up to the opposition, and that is reasonably effective—they stuff a lot of plays. Linebacker Quentin Gause has 9 TFLs; guy Seth always drafts in Draftageddon Steve Longa has 4. It's just what happens once the opposition gets past the first wave that alarms.
Michigan figures to let 'er rip on Drake Johnson this week after he got yards while the other guys did not, but De'Veon Smith and others will also feature. With Rutgers one of those aggressive gap-shooting defenses expect a return of the misdirection and trapping that were largely shelved against Minnesota's read and react unit.
This probably won't be great because Michigan's problems are frequently opponent invariant, but so are Rutgers's. Michigan should bust some 15-20 yarders and have an encouragingly productive day.
KEY MATCHUP: DRAKE JOHNSON versus LET'S SEE IF DRAKE JOHNSON IS THE FEATURE BACK
[Hit THE JUMP for WHEN YOUR SECONDARY GETS ARRESTED YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A BAD TIME]