How last week shoud have ended.
So: do we panic? Where is the 2014 season now on a scale of imminent raptor* attack?
- "What species is this?" "It's a velocirapator." "You bred raptors?"
- "They were testing the fences for weaknesses, systematically. They remember."
- This jello is shaking. Hey is that a shadow?
- Oh it's just Samuel L. Jackson's arm. Wait, why isn't it attached...
- "Clever girl"
I really don't want to overreact to one game, especially a Michigan-Notre Dame game, as I think we've all learned that series is about as predictive as a dart-throwing monkey. Plus, this game had an especially bizarre box score—Michigan outgained Notre Dame! In a 31-0 loss! The run defense kicked ass! So I'm defaulting to a three because, yes, there are serious concerns—not finding a way to score on a defense that had multiple coverage busts against Rice, for instance—but the schedule remains manageable and it's not like the Big Ten as a whole impressed last weekend.
The big concern, to me, is that this team couldn't do two of the things they spent much of the offseason talking about: breaking the huddle on offense with enough time to properly survey the defense and successfully playing press man in the secondary. The good news: these are things than can improve, especially for a still-young team that's learning new schemes on both sides of the ball. The bad news: man, did I expect both areas to look a lot better than that.
Plus, there were those positive signs. The offensive line looks... not terrible? Let's go with not terrible. The defensive front seven appears to be quite good. If Matt Wile can keep his plant foot planted and Michigan jumps on that muffed punt—HEY A SPREAD PUNT WOULD BE NICE I'M SURE YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS HERE BEFORE—that game could play out very differently. We're not staring a velociraptor in the eyes. Not yet, at least.
This could be a one-game anomaly, because Michigan/ND, above all else, is freakin' weird. This could be a sign of very bad things to come if the secondary doesn't shore the man coverage and Gardner continues to look that skittish. This is me throwing up my hands and saying I don't know why the jello is shaking so much.
[after the jump, must go faster]
Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, Dennis Norfleet
Could you guys talk about the receivers as a group beyond Devin Funchess and what you guys feel like you can give to this team?
Dennis Norfleet: “We’ve become one. Everybody expects everything from one another. We do things as a group so when one makes a play we all make a play. That’s how coach Heck[linski]’s got us and that’s how we’re going to remain throughout the year.”
Dennis, what’s your perception on how people perceive you? Is it as a big play guy, someone who can score at a moment’s notice or are you much more than an explosive player? What else can you bring to the table other than that lightning quickness?
DN: “My role on the team…I know that I’m a guy that can bring spark and that makes everybody happy so I’m just being the teammate that can get everybody going [and] to bring fire. That’s what I do. So if I can continue on doing that to get everybody to be happy and to let them know that the game can go our way at any time then that’s what I can do.”
Frank or Jake, you guys seemed to find more success stopping the run as opposed to getting to the pass. Is that just something that Golson might have been doing differently or that you guys were more prepared for with the run?
Jake Ryan: “That’s just something that we’ve got to work on, the pass game, more. Creating havoc for the quarterback. The run game we played pretty well but we’ve also got to focus on the pass game. Getting more blitzes in and getting more guys to the quarterback is really going to create a different atmosphere for him and create havoc for him.”
[More after THE JUMP]
This has been in the rumble stages for a month or so now, but this is the first mention from an actual reporter in the wild:
— Anwar Richardson (@AnwarRichardson) September 9, 2014
They are "working on dates" that are a decade out, so don't book your plane tickets yet. If this comes to fruition it would be the first games Brandon has booked in the aftermath of Notre Dame's cancellation of the series that come close to the wow factor ND provides.
Jon Daniel Runyan
I missed this last week, but it's a must-read; MaxPreps' Joseph Santoliquito wrote an excellent feature on Jon Daniel Runyan (you may know him as Jon Runyan Jr.) becoming his own man on and off the field:
"Playing football is something I liked, but something that I didn't really love until the last few years I'd say," Jon Daniel admitted. "I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm not my father. That's motivated me. I know who I am. Growing up, I did want to play football because my dad played. It's nothing my parents pushed me to do. It's something I wanted to do. I think it's why I put more pressure on myself than my parents do. I want to be the best. The goal one day is to play in the NFL. To do that, my father always tells me, you have to put everything into it."
Football is not all Jon Daniel plunges added effort into. He maintains a 3.0 GPA at Prep, one of the most academically demanding schools in the Philadelphia area. He's done it through hard work, diligence and with dyslexia, which his father also has.
In his formative years, Jon Daniel had comprehension challenges; auditory processing challenges. In grade school, teachers wanted to place limits on him, telling the Runyans that Jon Daniel couldn't handle a high academic environment.
Jon and Loretta ended that.
You're highly encouraged to read the whole thing.
As for commit updates from last weekend, Brandon Brown has you covered with a free roundup at The Wolverine. Standouts included Alex Malzone, who completed 7/9 passes for 119 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in a blowout win that was called at halftime due to lightning, and Mike Weber, who had a rather efficient 90 yards and a score on just two carries in a comfortable win for Cass Tech.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and several top 2016 prospects.]
“Well, let’s get right to it. Obviously disappointed that we didn’t win the football game and disappointed that we didn’t do a couple of things better on defense and we’ve got to work about correcting those right now. Our players came in with a great attitude and we as coaches I think have a great attitude and that’s one bump in the road that we have to get over and go to the next one.”
I’m sure there are a few things on your list but is not forcing turnovers to this point pretty high up there?
“Yeah. The thing about that football game, and I felt it on the sidelines- I don’t know if ever you played against a good opponent where you held them to fifty-some yards rushing, and usually those stats can be misled, but not when a team rushes thirty times or twenty-some times for fifty yards. That part of it you said, ‘Hey, we’re fine here.’ The thing that we didn’t do that we have to is the same thing we didn’t do in the first game: we’ve got to play better red zone defense. That’s really hurt us. We have to, when we get down in the red zone, and all it takes when you get down in the red zone is one bad play and that’s gotten us. I think in the red zone we went to third down one time, they scored. Next time it was fourth down. That makes a whole difference in a ball game.
“The other thing is we’ve got to get turnovers. That’s hurting our team and that was a big emphasis for us. And I think the other thing that we didn’t live up to what I expected us to was third downs. The stats, they’re misleading again. What were they? Eight- or seven-for-fifteen? They hit some really crucial third downs in the first half and, you know, third down is third down. You get it, you get it. And there’s a couple [where] the guy’s feet…just perfect throw, perfect catch. But that doesn’t matter. You have to stop them on third down to be a great defense. Those are three places that we have to get better and for us as a team our defense needs to do that and we didn’t.”
How much, if any, concern about pass rush is neutered by the fact that they were getting the ball out so quickly?
“Yeah, I thought our pass rush- watching the tape we had some guys that were doing some pretty darn good things and the ball was coming out really quick which is, again, I’ll say that that’s concerning because that’s like last year. I felt we’d have a little tighter coverage to be able to stop that when the pressure got close and he threw some in there. Again, we’ve got to keep working on it. I thought our pass rush, I thought our guys came after him pretty good and worked really hard up front to try and get to him. We didn’t get sacks. We didn’t get as many sacks. That quarterback probably played the best game of his life. He played good. He’s a good player, you know. I give that to him and that’s one of the reasons for the outcome was.”
[After THE JUMP: Greg Mattison explains what he should have done differently and why he thinks the defense doesn’t need a wake-up call]
SPORTS. TALK. RADIO. A somewhat agitated man called into WTKA after the game Saturday night. That guy can get bent with his engineering cracks. If the football team was as good as solar car we'd all have burned out dopamine receptors.
It could be worse! It could be equally as bad. Let's check in with our friends at Texas.
The eloquent Scipio Tex on a hamblasting at the hands of BYU:
Anyone coming into this game expecting a solid or even reasonably functional offense was delusional, but cold reality stings even when you know there's a blizzard outside and you're dressed only in a garter belt and a ball gag leaping from a 3rd story window into a snow bank...
Metaphorically been there, bro. And literally, but let's focus on the metaphorically please.
Meanwhile in MS paint penises. We made Shamepaint, a couple times. This is the one I can put on the blog:
So we're still better than my friend Kit.
That's over I guess. Penn State's sanctions are over as arbitrarily and suddenly as they were imposed. Suddenly free to go to the Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State fans reacted like college students do when given the slightest pretext:
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) September 9, 2014
The previous day's Collegian was exactly the same except the headline read ONE DOLLAR TACOS.
So that may explain that. Derrick Green got a lot more carries than De'Veon Smith despite not being at all effective with them. Here is a potential reason why:
@AceAnbender DeVeon Smith is limping pretty bad around campus. No boot or brace, but he's walking like a baby deer.
— Nick McLaren (@xDQ44) September 8, 2014
Here is a list of potential SMU hires I am linking for no particular reason. Michigan's going to have more access than SMU if they need to make a coaching change at the end of the season, but Harbaugh Hail Marys aside the landscape isn't going to look too different than this list of eight candidates to replace June Jones after his sudden resignation. It's heavy on offensive coordinators, with those of Ohio State, Clemson, Baylor, and Oklahoma on the list along with some washed up dudes. (Butch Davis! Rick Neuheisel!) Michigan has a bunch of midlevel head coaches they can grab… it's just that there aren't any.
If you think that's excessively grim, look around the college football landscape for an established, pluckable head coach with a track record that makes you warm and fuzzy. I don't see one. Texas grabbed the best idea out there when they hired Charlie Strong to repair the damage letting Mack Brown hang on way too long caused. Washington picked off Chris Petersen. Penn State got James Franklin. There's nobody at a midlevel BCS program who's an obvious next big thing a la Meyer or Sumlin.
Unless you think Michigan can swoop in on a Texas A&M or Oklahoma State—extremely doubtful—there are virtually no available coaches who finished in the top 25 last year except George O'Leary (hooray!) and Todd Graham (because Todd Graham is always available). David Cutcliffe is 59; Art Briles is 58 (and not leaving).
The best bet outside the HHM may be Craig Bohl, who led NDSU to three consecutive national titles and various upsets of nearby I-A teams. Dual problems: he just got hired by Wyoming and he's 56.
Maybe someone will cut a hot swath of death through some conference or another, but legit A-level hires have track records of performing over expectations over a number of years. With Petersen, Strong, and Franklin off the board the pickings are slim. They get even slimmer if you insist on a coach who runs a program that looks like 1990s Michigan, because fewer and fewer programs do that.
Hail Harbaugh full of grace and all that, then. Or ripping off ten straight wins and going to the Rose Bowl. Either one. Preferably the latter. It could happen!
AT LEAST WE COULD PROBABLY UNFOLD SOME FRIGGIN SHEETS OF CLOTH.
— Tyler Koppes (@TBooty_88) September 7, 2014
Actually, I wonder about that after the Great Card Stunt of 2012, which was not exactly North Korea quality. We are a goatish people, we Michigan fans: hard to lead, prone to irritating bleating, capable of grudgingly eating anything put in front of our face.
This week in People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them. Nothing about what Ray Rice did changed in the last couple days, but once people actually saw him knocking out his wife all of a sudden Rice is gone from the league. NFL officials are either 1) worse than TMZ at getting video, 2) lied to everyone about having saw it, or 3) saw it and thought two games was okay.
This is a comprehensive failure by an idiot. He's an idiot who makes 45 million dollars a year, and he's an idiot because he thinks this makes him untouchable. See Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder, etc. People in charge of things are not necessarily deserving of such a position and their judgments should be questioned, because no one inside these organizations is successfully doing so.
Meanwhile, elite sportswriters are hand-picked PR organs.
Par for the course. Obligatory hot take on the Hoke quote du jour:
'If they're truly fans, they'll believe in these kids ... If they're not, they won't'
See MGoBlog article "Fickle" on this.
It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.
You are a true fan if you want the team to win a lot. Believing is optional, and right now kind of dumb.
Etc.: Shut up, Jim Delany, it is most definitely not premature to judge the Big Ten. Michigan Monday, hooray. Miami (Not That Miami) is not good. M is a 31.5 point favorite and YOU JUST HAD TO PICK THAT LINE, VEGAS, SERIOUSLY?