|WHAT||Michigan vs UConn|
September 21st, 2013
|THE LINE||M -18|
|WEATHER||mid-60s, 0% chance of rain|
"paul pasqualoni young". Yup. That's real. If you don't believe me you're spending an awful lot of time disbelieving things it would be patently silly for anyone to make up.
Run Offense vs UConn
UConn. The very name sends trembles down your spine. After Randy Edsall ascended to Heaven on a pillar of righteousness, the Huskies hired legendary Michigan-killer Paul Pasqualoni, and since they have written their name in blood and glory across the night sky.
In their opening game the Towson Somethings struggled to acquired 201 yards on the ground on 50 carries, a 4.0 average. Starting tailback Terrance West ground out 156 yards on 36 carries as the Huskies bayed and called around him, mocking, ever mocking. The Conn Army's second game was ever more dominating: Maryland acquired a pathetic 231 yards on 40 carries; the Terrapins feared exposing just one tailback to the ruthless fangs and split their carries between CJ Brown (QB, 1991-2013, 16 carries for 122 yards) and Brandon Ross (RB, 1992-2013, 18 carries for 95 yards).
I have to break from the faux terror here because UConn's defense was in fact shockingly good a year ago. Do you remember that they held Teddy Bridgewater to 10 points in regulation and 20 overall in a triple-overtime win over Louisville last year? You probably do not, because who remembers things about random Big East games featuring 5-7 UConn? Bridgewater took 53 attempts to acquire 331 yards but threw two interceptions and got sacked five times. The Louisville ground game acquired 57 yards, quarterbacks excluded. For the year, UConn was seventh nationally in rush defense, second only to Alabama in yards per rush ceded.
Unfortunately for the Huskies, Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore* are off to the NFL, as are corners Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. All of those guys were off the board by the early fourth round. Losing four mid-round NFL draft picks in one go is a body blow for a team with UConn's talent level, and they're currently reeling. Maryland bombed them for 500 yards and FCS Towson almost cracked 400.
Without much penetration or experience on the outside save for Yawid Smallwood, the lone returner from last year's all-NFL linebacking corps (Smallwood is projected as a third round pick like his buddies), Michigan should have opportunities similar to the ones they did against Akron as soon as they figured out what the Zips were doing with their bear fronts. UConn will stem into some three-four looks, but Michigan's seen that already. This has to be a step forward for the line and Toussaint or it's time to stop pushing the panic button and resign ourselves to another zombie apocalypse of TFLs.
Ace thought the interior of the line was solid against the Terps, so this will provide a human-sized challenge for the offensive line after two weeks of baby seals and one featuring two top-end NFL prospects. Move some guys, get some holes, see Toussaint follow them, and spark an ember of hope.
*[Sio is a nickname for… wait for it… "Snorsio." Wow.]
Key Matchup: Fitzgerald Toussaint versus Poor Damn Toussaint Syndrome. Follow your fullback, man. What's the worst that could happen?
Other than that.
Please come out from under the table.
[Hit THE JUMP for lots of caps letters in the cheap thrills section.]
I'm gonna Akron this column today since we're sending the final PDFs of Hail to Hoops and Hockey to the printer. The contents (click to make it readable):
Actually we had to cut the 2nd Bartelstein article today
If you don't know what Henri* is doing in the upper-right corner you didn't follow hockey so much last year. If you did follow hockey last year you probably have strong opinions on goaltending. HTTV contributor MGoBlueline put together a neat diary this week trying out the "quality start" metric they use in baseball for hockey goalies. He gives them out for having a save% better than the DI average, i.e. a start that gave your team a chance to win. My quibble: it's justification of feelings-ball (-puck whatever).
|Racine's year to MGBL: 12 quality starts, 10 non-quality, 5 cheap wins, 2 wasted quality starts. [Paul Sherman, Michigan Daily]|
The problem with any gamesmanship stat is this: have you ever met a goalie who ever liked any goal going by him in any situation ever? It makes sense for pitching because it's possible to surrender a run to get an out, a pitcher's most important currency; for goalies the currency is time. What you're measuring is consistency, which is useful so long as you remember that's what you're measuring (and that we wouldn't be having this conversation if Racine posted any shutouts last year).
While we're being realistic, alum96 wrote a board post that got diary-bumped that compared the recruiting profiles of Michigan's defensive line to those of Ohio State. His metric for guys is the quality of offers—Michigan's were mostly regional while OSU's guys mostly had Alabama offers and plenty more power programs after them.
True, and that's a big part of why Michigan is hard after the top DL recruits in the country right now. If you take away the Heininger Certainty Principle Michigan's DL looks really thin; since pass rush is more of a talent thing it should be no surprise that the deficiency in recruiting stars is most apparent there. But then Ohio State's line is just ludicrously stacked right now—Michigan doesn't need to get 8 guys Saban wanted badly to get to good.
[Jump for the Weeklies, Best of the Board and some badly needed zen]
Sponsor note. You may have noticed HAIL2VICTORS recent diary detailing his Sports Power Weekend for the Notre Dame game. I ran into that dude at Angelo's early that day and he didn't mention he was on an SPW trip, but he was yet to be impressed with the fact that Jared tracked down tickets, a field-level Big House tour, and—the capper—hotel rooms actually in Ann Arbor. I get emails about this. They are piteous emails that I can do nothing about.
If you would like to exchange money for the goods and services of a no-hassle trip to see Michigan do the opposite of whatever they did last weekend, you can grab a bus from NYC or DC to Penn State (UConn's sold out) or grab packages for home games against Nebraska and Ohio State or road games at Northwestern and Iowa. No Stubhub wrangling or sleeping on a piece of cardboard that doesn't even offer a continental breakfast. Also if you're the guy who gets stuck driving, buses are so clutch.
It got over the goal, but there's still cool stuff to acquire. Two hours left.
SKYWRITINGGATEGATE. I am a hopelessly naïve cherub, so I assumed that the "GO BLUE" that people saw over Spartan Stadium hours before MSU curbstomped Youngstown State and Michigan had a near-death experience against Akron was the work of a not-very-creative alum or a rogue skywriting company agent taking matters into his own hands. Alas:
Suzanne Asbury-Oliver, who runs Oregon Aero SkyDancer skywriting with her husband Steve, told MLive the Wolverines' athletic department hired her business to put Michigan slogans into the air above Ann Arbor then East Lansing on Saturday.
The department denies this, stating that locations all over SE Michigan were targeted. I asked twitter and no one saw anything outside of Ann Arbor that hasn't been used by a Spartan alum to make M look stupid while raising money for cancer.
This continues a pattern of behavior from the department where they do something inadvisable and then go into damage control mode. Just in the last couple months we've seen noodle, seat cushion, and field goal net gates. They seem to be sticking by their guns after overselling the student section by 50%, but that's a math problem with one answer so they kind of have to. That, too, looks like a panic move (even if I agree with the principle behind it) since Michigan announced their ticket policy a month before the season, after they'd sold 4,500 tickets under false pretenses.
So either the athletic department knows exactly what it's doing or they have no idea what they're doing. Which of these possibilities is worse is an exercise left to the reader.
A LIST OF THINGS THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MAYBE WORTH YOUR TIME TO SKYWRITE OVER SPARTAN STADIUM.
- GO STAEE
- WE WANT TERRY
- FIRE IZZO
- WHERE ARE MY PANTS
- HOW DO I LAND
- TREY BURKE STEAL DOT JPG
The worst part about all of this is how boring it is. "GO BLUE" is weak troll game. The only people the athletic department is good at trolling are Michigan fans.
A quainter time. Remember when coverage maps were important? When you play an AAC team on the road at night they become so again. Yellow is saved, blue is watching on ESPN3:
Nebraska, you're in the Big Ten now.
Transfers to make more sense, possibly. After a crapton of bad publicity as some coaches punitively limit their transfers' options, the NCAA finally seems to be moving towards a more reasonable system:
"It would be a situation where a kid would provide notice that he's transferring and wants to talk to these five schools, for example," Kevin Lennon, the NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, told ESPN.com. "Schools can't say, we're giving you permission but not to these five schools. It's in the student's control more."
I still think it's reasonable to prevent a kid from transferring to another school in the same conference; other than that, fire away. Coach K suggests to do away with all transfer waivers, because something something something.
I like Mitch McGary.
Hockey schedule. There are a lot of Michigan hockey games on television this year, 28 games to be specific. Excellent for most purposes, but I'm a little concerned that there are four 6:30 home games on Friday and the vast bulk of the rest of them are at 7 PM. A decade ago Michigan standardized its games at 7:35 PM to help attendance. This isn't going to help.
On the other hand, Wisconsin has just 11 games televised this year. Pick your poison.
Etc.: Here is a gent who's been to 504 straight games, dating back to 1971. We'll update basketball recruiting during the bye week, but for now here's UMHoops running down where things stand. Todd McShay ranks Gardner a third-day NFL draft prospect. Hurray? Meanwhile, SI's guy lists Taylor Lewan as a faller because M struggled with Akron, something he had zero to do with.
The weekly six selects #6 from Akron over any Michigan folks this week
1. The Six Factors
|Field Pos||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.4 (48)||49% (42)||213 (31)||8.9 (95)||+6% (44)||2.3 (33)|
|Defense||32.7 (96)||50% (27)||172 (46)||4.0 (58)||-1% (21)||2.3 (16)|
Weekly numbers first, season national rank in ()
That certainly doesn’t look like a win. Mostly thanks to the pick-six, Akron’s field position would have given an average team a nearly touchdown win. Akron handily won the early downs, edging Michigan in early conversions and smoking us in third down distance. Michigan held an edge in adjusted third down performance. Michigan’s 213 bonus yards were a strong number, but coming into the game Akron was awful and the fact that they ended as close as they did to Michigan was a major black mark for the defense.
For the season Michigan finds itself without an elite metric on offense (now that the red zone streak was shattered) and only one bad one. Thanks to some rough early down rushes, Michigan’s typical third down has been nearly 9 yards.
On the defensive side there is more variance. Preventing early conversions, third downs and red zone have all been strong areas of success for the defense. Bonus yards and third down distance haven’t been as strong. They have also faced some challenging field position, almost in the triple digits in terms of their national rank.
FORMATION NOTES: Nothing weird. This one has pinched DTs, but they only did this once. This was in the first quarter, so you can see the three linebackers on the field:
In the second half they ditched a linebacker in favor of nickel packages (and probably tipped a stunt):
This is what I mean when I say pistol diamond: four guys in the backfield, hanging out and stuff.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was almost entirely Wilson/Gordon/Taylor/Countess with the nickelback usually Jourdan Lewis and occasionally Delonte Hollowell. I don't think I saw Stribling except on special teams.
At LB, it was the usual Bolden/Ross/Morgan rotation. Bolden had some issues and late it was just Ross/Morgan. SAM mostly didn't exist, but Beyer got the vast majority of those snaps if you include the nickel DE looks.
On the line, much rotation.Clark and Ojemudia rotated with a little bit of Charlton. Black was almost omnipresent. Wormley, Godin, and Heitzman all got significant amounts of playing time; Glasgow was marginalized in this game to make way for Willie Henry. The nose tackles played a bit but they were largely lifted in the nickel.
[After THE JUMP: it's fine, it's fine, it's fine… erp.]
Hand Changes Plans
Da'Shawn Hand has altered his visit plans after his scheduled visit to Florida conflicted with taking the SAT; as a result, he'll now visit Alabama on October 26th, when they play Tennessee, and Florida on November 9th, when they host Vanderbilt. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell thinks this is another good sign for Michigan, and a particularly bad one for Alabama, which won't get to host Hand for their marquee game against LSU ($):
Now Alabama has lost the advantage of selling Hand on the Tide during what would certainly be a huge home game with "College GameDay" in attendance. The Gators now get the last chance to impress Hand. The question is this: Can Florida dazzle him enough in one weekend on a first impression just days before his announcement and overcome all the work Michigan has done with two great visits since the spring?
Considering how deliberately and thoughtfully Hand has handled the process, it'd surprise me if he picked Florida after one visit occurring just five days before he makes his announcement, especially since he had a spectacular official visit experience at Michigan.
Ken Burns Effect In Full, Er, Effect
A lengthy video on Jabrill Peppers featuring interviews with Peppers, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, their coach at Paramus Catholic, and lots of close-up shots panning across faces in slow motion (also, Jabrill Peppers highlights, which never stop being fun):
Per MLive's Josh Slagter, Peppers rushed for 116 yards and an 80-yard touchdown, hauled in a TD reception, and recorded five tackles and an interception last week, then discussed how he deals with calls from other schools:
"I've made it abundantly clear I'm a Michigan Man," Peppers told MSGVarsity.com recently. "I've been recruiting some of the top talent throughout the country for Michigan. I'm just trying to explain to people what I felt, and why I committed."
You can stop calling him now, everybody else.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting on the East Lake duo, the latest on Brian Cole, and much more.]