Event Reminder: We have a tailgate tomorrow morning at 1300 S. MAIN Street to raise money for Marlin Jackson’s Fight for Life Foundation.
When I describe this organization I start by asking if you’ve seen the
third fourth (HT comments) season of The Wire—the one where you get a heartbreakingly realistic picture of what happens to poor, inner city kids. Well my wife the child therapist who works with exactly those kinds of kids for a living looked at Marlin’s programs when we first started doing stuff with him, and was blown away by how it was designed for exactly what they need. If it wasn’t started by a two-time All-American for Michigan it would still be one of the best bang-for-buck charities I’ve ever seen. Marlin lived what these kids go through, and he used his Michigan education to do something about it.
Tailgater Concierge gave us the space and will have satellite TVs set up to watch the noon games, and will be grilling hot dogs and serving. Wolverine State Brewing generously donated three half-barrels of their best beer. And Eat Well Embrace Life is providing a ton of hummus and chips and pop. We’ll also have a raffle, and you can ask Ace about Harambe.
Penn State came down-down-down as it dawned on more and more fans that it was going to be a slaughter. Cheapest I found was a guy walking from Main Street past Crisler offering $30 each for two seats next to him. That’s a good baseline for Indiana and Maryland, which are still hanging out in the $50s.
[Hit THE JUMP for how Michigan’s best ticket this year is worth face]
Another game, another batch of data lost to garbage time. That’s certainly not a complaint, but it does explain why there wasn’t a ton of movement in the advanced stats. Michigan hit Bill Connelly’s criteria for garbage time with 46 seconds left in the first half, as Karan Higdon’s two-yard touchdown run put Michigan up 28. From there, the lead never shrunk to the point where there was any real threat of exiting garbage time.
The traditional stats paint a picture that matches what we observed: Michigan dominated in almost every area. You can run down the stat sheet and blindly point and likely find a stat Michigan handily won. First downs? Michigan more than doubled Penn State, 25 to 12. Rushing first downs? Michigan had a 14-3 edge. Yards per play? Michigan fell just short of doubling up Penn State with 6.1 to their 3.5. Rushing yards? Michigan’s 326-70 advantage was one of their biggest statistical wins of the day. That stat obviously needs to be contextualized a bit; Michigan still blew Penn State away when looking at average yards per rush, of which Michigan averaged 6.7 to Penn State’s 2.5. That Penn State stayed fairly balanced (28 rushes and 27 passes) and walked away with the aforementioned average yards per rush and 4.5 yards per pass is quite the accomplishment for the defense.
The stats in the preceding paragraph got me thinking about Michigan’s rush defense, and after looking through the numbers it deserves the spotlight this week. The traditional stats help set the table: Michigan has allowed 64 and 70 rushing yards over the last two games. Looking at things a little closer, Michigan has held opponents back in a variety of ways and situations; Bill Connelly’s advanced stats profile reflects that, and some of the non-Bill Connelly total win predictions and win-out percentages seem to have taken notice as well.
[After THE JUMP: Five Factors, counting the ways Michigan’s rush defense has been exceptional, and looking ahead to Wisconsin]
- Player reevaluations: Speight as poor man’s Ben Roethlisberger? Higdon runs behind his pads. Ed congratulates Harbaugh on his correct 4th down decision-making. Hard to take a lot seriously because they were facing No Linebackers U.
- Jim Harbaugh as Frank Caliendo: Not only is Harbaugh’s heart in the right place, he can also do an excellent Darth Vader.
- MSU-Wisconsin things: Short game. Was a 10-6 game but for the turnovers. O’Connor is not good. Wisconsin’s kicker being out forced them to use correct game theory. Hornibrook found the weak spot in State’s defense, which is Demetrius Cox, and played that all day.
- Badger Offense: The offense lacks speed and playmakers. Hornibrook doesn’t have a good arm but he’s got better vision than Bart Houston. Clement doesn’t look like himself at all. Same might be said for the Wisconsin running game.
- Badger Defense: Best defense Michigan has played by far. They have a 340-pound nose, all of the linebackers are stars. Blitz out of the 3-4 very effectively. Michigan can win this game with special teams and defense.
- One more loss for ol’ Notre Dame: their defense is putrid, corners to blame! Could not run, can’t stop the pass—there’s trouble when Kizer will leave for the draft. South Bend could have a 5-7 year. Firing Van Gorder won’t change that gear. This stuff’s all just par for course for the losers of Notre Dame!
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Previously: Wisconsin Offense
we've got a Watt situation here
As I discussed yesterday, Wisconsin's offensive output in their blowout of MSU could be a mirage. The defense, on the other hand—well, here's the drive chart up to the point UW took a 30-6 lead:
Even when facing the 77th-ranked offense by S&P+, that is dominance—and while Wisconsin could cede more yardage on State's garbage-time drives, they picked off two more passes and didn't allow any points.
Wisconsin's linebackers will be one of the best position groups Michigan faces all year, and the defense as a whole looks very good. This is a huge test, especially for the offensive line and Wilton Speight.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
[EDIT: This has been updated to reflect the status of Vince Biegel, UW's star OLB who's been ruled out indefinitely with a foot injury. The guess here is UW slides starting ILB Jack Cichy outside and starts ILB Leon Jacobs, who looked the best of the backup linebackers against MSU. ILB Ryan Connelly and OLB Zack Baun are also candidates to step into the starting lineup; UW rotates a fair amount at ILB anyway.]
Yes, those are shields on both outside linebackers; we've changed the criteria slightly since NFL draft stuff isn't really relevant to these posts, which will please Ryan Glasgow fans—and who isn't one?—when we update these next week.
If anything, we were a little conservative handing out stars this week. TJ Edwards was one of the better ILBs in the Big Ten last year, but he looked just a hair behind the other three in on-field impact; there's a strong argument to be made that all four UW LBs deserve stars. I was also impressed with Sojourn Shelton, but had to mostly punt on the secondary since Idiot BTN Director was back in full force:
What's happening downfield? Hell if I know.
Base Set? 3-4. When going to nickel, UW will lift the nose tackle as most 3-4 teams do.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
SPONSOR NOTES: I feel I should start talking about the other clothing items that are completely optional when you get a mortgage from Matt. Bowler hats, because who wears those anymore? T-shirts expounding bands you're embarrassed you ever liked—I bet Seth's got some Barenaked Ladies shirts he doesn't wear around the house that he can get a loan while not wearing.
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Not too much other than some extra empty stuff. This was "quad tight bunch." In my world a bunch is three guys and I'll tell you if it's not.
This was "ace empty TE hide":
Newsome is in the slot with Butt your nominal left tackle. This is obviously a stunt to get Butt open, and it worked.
PERSONNEL NOTES: The OL battle seems settled, as Braden got every snap with the first team. Early Bredeson playing time probably injury-related. Speight obviously went the whole way.
Despite the profusion of RBs getting carries, Smith still got about 60% of the snaps, with Higdon, Isaac, and Evans splitting the rest about equally. Darboh and Butt were the most frequently deployed receiver types; Chesson got exactly half the 80 snaps before the second string came in. (Remember that he missed a chunk of the game after he got dinged up on Higdon's first run.) Asiasi got 36, as Bunting went out with an injury early. Grant Perry got 25 snaps; Crawford 16, McDoom 8.
[After THE JUMP: cruelty.]
[Ed-Seth: Yes, basketball season is approaching. We'll jump early though]
Jim Harbaugh’s brother-in-law [SBNation]
After Indiana dropped two of three games (all against mediocre competition) in the Maui Invitational and were blown out in the ACC – Big Ten challenge by Duke, there was understandable unease among the Hoosier faithful; things took an even worse turn when their second-leading scorer, James Blackmon, Jr., was lost to a season-ending injury right before conference play. Because Tom Crean’s still at the helm of that particular ship, people started complaining about him again.
[More on the Hoosiers after the JUMP]