[Googly Eyes Emoji]
STILL DON'T WATCH THIS
“I’m going to take my five visits, but I just don’t know where,” Harris said. “Let’s say this: My mind isn’t set on Alabama. I’m not 100 percent set on Alabama. I’m trying to see what else is out there for me. I’m using my visits to see. As much attention as I’ve gotten, I feel like I have helped my teammates get some offers, too.”
That is the top-ranked player in the country, CA RB Najee Harris, going on the record about his recruitment for the first time in... months? It feels like months. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle dropped this pertinent bit of news in their ongoing series on Harris that mostly focuses on his life outside the lines:
Next week, when Antioch hosts Liberty, another wrinkle comes into play: Harbaugh, the Michigan head coach, is planning to attend the game, hoping he can persuade Harris to flip his verbal commitment to Alabama and play in Ann Arbor instead.
While 247's Steve Lorenz expects Harris to end up signing with Bama, he continues to believe Michigan is the school with the best chance to change that, and mentions that M's staff in fact thought they either led or were close following Harris's summer unofficial visit.
I'm still skeptical of M's ultimate chances to flip Harris, but going on the record to say his Alabama commitment isn't set in stone is especially noteworthy coming from a recruit who avoids the media and appears to be trying to keep his recruitment as drama-free as possible.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
10/8/2016 – Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 – 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten
A first down is gained [Patrick Barron]
Like many a mysterious drifter who's spent the past seven years wondering whether to drink whiskey or bleach, I don't really want to linger on the past. But when Michigan plays at Rutgers and a play by play guy desperate to inject any intrigue into a man-versus-printer situation keeps bringing up the 2014 game, it's hard to get away. And when you're already inclined to think about the radical shift in Michigan's fortunes, running across an article titled "Brady Hoke discusses monumental loss" is game over, man. There's nothing for it.
So let's talk about it.
Entering week six in 2016, Michigan was 5-0, favored by 30, coached by Jim Harbaugh and athletically directed by Warde Manuel. Manuel has probably been about as visible as your average athletic director; in the aftermath of Dave Brandon he feels like a ninja with an invisibility cloak since I haven't thought about him much outside of a few interviews and the resumption of the Notre Dame series.
Exiting week six Michigan is a top five team that just beat Rutgers so badly that they're causing existential crises amongst Cable Subscribers fans. The Daily's Jacob Gase caught up with the stragglers in the student section and got a quote for the ages:
“I like these kinds of games where we’re losing by a lot,” Kasia said, “because if we get a touchdown in the last four minutes, everyone is so happy to have anything that it’s really exciting.”
Rutgers only got a touchdown briefly. When the referees took it away it was a sign that the cosmos itself had decided that they were emphasizing the "win with cruelty" bit of Jim Harbaugh's favorite dichotomy. Everything about a blowout so epic it broke records set just before the University of Chicago decided football wasn't for them was expected.
Two years ago Michigan left for Rutgers after a week of incompetence so sheer that there was a well-attended rally on the Diag demanding Dave Brandon's ouster. Shane Morris had just been probably mildly concussed, the coverup was worse than the crime, and Brandon's "my personality is to the best of my ability" media blitz ended with this:
A phalanx of athletic department staffers dragooned into wishing the team well as they departed. Brandon was front and center, naturally.
Upon arriving in Piscataway a person named Gary Nova bombed a secondary featuring Jourdan Lewis and NFL draft pick Blake Countess, a reigning first-team All Big Ten corner, for 404 passing yards. Michigan's featured pass rushers were current NFL stalwarts Jake Ryan and Frank Clark.
Brady Hoke had his cornerbacks coach install a press man system before the 2014 season. The minor flaw with this plan is that the cornerbacks coach was a linebacker who had never coached corners. This is how you lose to Rutgers.
I no longer know how you lose to Rutgers. There was no combination of parlous events that sees this game end up competitive, even vaguely so. The first time Rutgers crossed the first down line their quarterback was immediately crushed by Delano Hill, fumbling back behind the line to gain. The second time Rutgers crossed the first down line, deep into the fourth quarter, a Rutgers fan hugged it out with a Michigan fan. Various people on twitter bemusedly reported that ESPN's live win percentage tracker was stuck on 99.9%. My "harbaugh class" search started garnering hits early in the second quarter.
This was a blowout so comprehensive it went from boring to notable. And, yes, since two years ago this week I was posting The Kids In The Hall "Each Day We Work" sketch with the "there is no time off until I am crushed by the black hand" line and generally mooning about, it's worth noting that this is not that and that these are the rewards of finally getting some people in charge of things for a reason.
there is no time off until Rutgers scores [Barron]
Michigan's cornerbacks coach is now a guy who played safety in the NFL for a decade, their athletic director has athletically directed at two other schools prior to this stop, and Jim Harbaugh is the head coach. Reasons veritably abound.
College programs can be steady for decades at a time as long as the core remains, and then lurch wildly about when that thing no longer suffices. See post-Bear 'Bama, the current situation at Texas,—which is playing out exactly like Lloyd Carr/RichRod—the last 20 years of Notre Dame football, etc. Michigan is no different. (Ohio State was incredibly lucky that when Jim Tressel got himself fired, Urban Meyer just happened to be waiting around.)
Today is a fine time to reflect on the bad old days, as we stand amidst a fine red mist that used to be the Rutgers football program, and appreciate that they got fixed. "Each day we work" has a different meaning now. So too does having an average weekend. It means the other team averages 18 inches a play.
More at MGoVideo.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 (tie) Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon, and Chris Wormley were first amongst equals on defense. Charlton had two insta-sacks. Gedeon ran over a running back for a sack of his own and had a Don Brown special TFL on which he crushed a guy five yards in the backfield. Wormley continues to crush all tight ends and had a sack that should not be possible.
#2 Jabrill Peppers did some defense things. He also should have had a punt return touchdown. He did have a 63-yard run on a broken play and two very easy wildcat touchdowns, one of which was supposed to be a throw.
#3 Devin Asiasi popped out on a cursory rewatch as an absolutely mauling blocker; virtually very big run Evans had was facilitated by Asiasi blowing one or two dudes out.
Honorable mention: everybody!
7: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Peppers takes off for the huge run that opened the floodgates.
Honorable mention: Everything that happened after the first seven minutes.
Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
A bonkers Jabrill Peppers punt return is called back for an extremely dubious block in the back penalty. I mean, for real. They never give a number because in their great shame they forget everything including the name, but the only thing that seems even slightly plausible is Delano Hill putting one hand (one hand!) on a punt returner who falls over in sheer awe of Peppers:
The only appropriate statement in that situation is "sorry sorry I'm trying to delete it."
Honorable mention: N/A.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
[After THE JUMP: winning with cruelty]
As with yesterday’s Harbaugh presser, the lovely people in Rutgers’ Athletic Communications department provided us with transcribed highlights of the players’ press conference for your perusal.
Michigan linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers
On his performance: “Whenever you get the balls in your hands you just wanted to make something positive happen. Today God had his hand on me today on some of those plays. I just have to give it up to the blocking and the coaching scheme. They set the guys up in positions to excel so we just went out there and handled business today.
On his reaction of the score at the end of the game: “Just wow. I’ve never been part of a victory this massive. But you still have to handle it with class and just keep improving for the next week. You can’t stay on your high horse. Our game against Rutgers is over so we just have to prepare during our bye week for the game after that.”
On Juwann Bushell-Beatty and his performance: “I was really happy for him. I know that he’s battle a lot of injuries and some weight problems. I’ve been playing with him since high school so I’ve seen him grow into who he is today. For him to start in front of the home crowd; I know he went down early but he got back up and was able to finish out the game. I was really excited for him.”
On what keep them going even after going up big: “You know, there are no backups. Every time you’re out there you’re expected to play like you’re a starter. We don’t look at the scoreboard. We just want to impose our will as fast and long as we can. I think the younger guys are starting to adapt to that. It’s up to us the veterans to set up that foundation. I think they’re starting to buy in and trust the coaches. We tell them that you have to play like you want to win the game until you win the game. This is college football and crazy things happen. It’s just our mindset.”
[After THE JUMP: Gedeon, Evans, Magnuson, Hill]
1 hour 6 minutes, somehow
You too might look like this against Rutgers! [Patrick Barron]
A big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and company have been on board here from almost the beginning. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes. Check out the new Bo Store on Main.
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starts at 1:00
starts at 13:23
Lol Peppers. Darius Hamilton almost absent from the box score=win. Speight’s inaccuracy was worrisome, probably weather-related. Upset that Rutgers didn’t have the dignity to defend draws. Bredeson started; Braden resumed his job shortly thereafter. Chris Evans started breaking tackles. A lot of OL rotation showed contingency plans. Mad about putting the way-out fullback trap on film.
Special Teams and Game Theory
starts at 27:24
What the chart says. What Jabrill Peppers’s Mom and MGoBlog have in common. Mr. Kelly’s Irish + hurricane game = comedy gold. Don’t pitch it to nobody on the 2 yard line.
Talking Big Ten with Jamie Mac
starts at 36:14
Rock fight: Leidner and Beathard both looked like less than 1st round quarterbacks. Iowa is still very much Iowa. Is Penn State decent (when not playing Michigan) and Franklin isn’t punting on 4th and 4 from inside the 35, and stuff? Ohio State looks mortal in bad weather; Indiana’s defense is probably…okay? Is that a real sentence? Ter-ry! Ter-ry! Ter-ry! Chase Crouch might be accidentally a better QB option for Illinois.
- “Cruel”—St. Vincent
- “Character”—Van Hunt
- “Don’t Be Cruel”—Cheap Trick
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
Our friends in Rutgers’ Athletic Communications department were kind enough to send out a transcript of the highlights from Jim Harbaugh’s postgame presser (in the middle of the night, no less), so even though I wasn’t at the game you still have some Sunday content to consume.
On the play of Jabrill Peppers and Chris Evans: “We put some plays in for (Peppers) last week where he was operating as a quarterback and then more this week, because he’s just so darn good at it. That was really the turning part of the game, I thought was his long run. The first downs were coming hard. It was looked like it was going to be one of those nights. His speed was dramatically different than everyone else on the field. Chris Evans, he showed early he was going to be tough to bring down. He was lightning fast and quick tonight. To me, that’s what broke the game open was Jabrill’s and Chris’ play. Chris said something really interesting in practice. He didn’t say it to me, he said it to my dad and Al Glick. He later told me that, quote from Chris Evans, ‘it’s a sin to be good, when you are sent to be great.’ That was really profound. He was really dynamite tonight.”
On limiting Rutgers’ first downs: “I don’t know how many three and outs it was. I know there were only two first downs and not until late in the game. We were playing on half the field all night. The guys up front had a great game. There was constant pressure. The team has been tremendous. Didn’t allow a third down conversion all night defensively. There’s been incredible play on third down. (Defensive Coordinator) Don Brown is an amazing coach. I know I’ve been saying that a lot. It’s obvious to everyone, to our team, to our whole defensive staff.
On the intensity of the backups: “As a coach, the two weeks you worry about are the week going into a bye week. We call it an improvement week, but still that week you are going in and the week you are coming off that bye week. Our players were as focused as I’ve seen them. To your point, when the two’s got in there, they were playing with the same kind of motivation, the same kind of fire. They wanted to show what they can do. A lot of freshmen were playing in this ball game and playing well. There wasn’t any real sign of drop off when our two’s were in the there. Our two’s were in the entire second half, except for a series on offense and a series on defense.
[After THE JUMP: the darndest thing Harbaugh’s ever seen]
[Photo: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
Rutgers punted 16 times tonight, surpassing the 1938 University of Chicago team for the second-most by a Michigan opponent in a single game.*
The University of Chicago abolished their football program in 1939.
Win with cruelty.
*Ohio State, with 21, is the record-holder thanks to the ludicrous 1950 Snow Bowl.