jonvalk. he knows it's not at home now.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one. Something like… Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
The “bye week” has become a regular part of the college football season for some time now. But taking a weekend off from following the Wolverines each fall can be discombobulating. Watching West Virginia and Baylor play “basketball on grass” last week was big fun, though I suspect even some of the players didn't know they were actually participating in a football game. But it was far better than that snoozefest held in East Lansing. I thought this was an opportunity to ‘scout’ Michigan’s rivals, but I soon realized my malice toward both these schools meant blowing this game off was the way to go.
How about those Detroit Tigers! The Wolverines' break gave me a chance to pay attention to the playoff race. I find division title celebrations hilarious. Every other pro sport eschews celebrating before the championship series, but not baseball. These boys just love to party! Players are wearing goggles before they get off the field! I guess you can’t blame them. Surviving 160+ games just to make the playoffs—you’d be ready to bust a move too. Why baseball insists on playing its most important games in October is a mystery. End the season in August for goodness sake! The ‘fall classic’ just isn’t cool—it’s frigging cold!
The worst part of the bye week is the uncertainty of what the next game will bring. While players are probably grateful for a chance to rest and heal, we fans are left to wonder. Will the defense continue to improve? Can Michigan establish a running game? Why won’t offensive coordinator Al Borgess stop trying to make Denard into something he’s not, namely a pocket passer? And does anyone else find the hands off approach of Brady Hoke’s in game coaching to be disconcerting? Cheer leading and slapping a butt or two is ok, but could you join a strategy huddle every once and a while?
As far as this afternoon’s game goes, I’ve got a feeling the state of Indiana is not going to be good to the Wolverines this year. Michigan doesn’t seem to be playing to what their strength is – putting Denard in a position to improvise when he needs to. Prove to me that this knot in my stomach is due to some bad clams and not a season going awry.
Michigan 27 Purdue 30
By Nick RouMel
Counterpunt lives an exciting and dangerous life. Just last night, driving down a rural road in the rain, I turned off my headlights to see how long I could stand driving that way. This lasted for thrilling seconds.
It reminded me of a scene from my favorite movie of all time, “Annie Hall.” The always-scary Christopher Walken plays Diane Keaton’s (Annie’s) brother, Duane. At one point he confesses the following to Woody Allen’s character, Alvy:
“I tell you this as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving... on the road at night... I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.”
Alvy replies, “Right. Well, I have to—I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth.”
A couple of scenes later, circumstances require that Duane drives Alvy to the airport. At night, of course. The camera cuts from the oncoming headlights, to Duane’s serenely anticipatory expression, to Alvy’s terrified face. The moment is delicious.
The beauty about scenes like this is the tension, between the safe thing should happen, and the scary thing that might happen. Like, oh, say, Michigan in 1996, the year before its national championship season, cruising along ranked 9th in the country, playing at unranked Purdue… and losing, 9-3. And a virtual repeat in 2000, sitting at #6, going to unranked Purdue… and this time, losing 32-31 (I was there. Drew Brees led the improbable comeback against Drew Henson.)
The point here is that we believe Michigan should win, but our pesky memories keep bringing up the ghosts of upsets past. Ghosts that scare Punt, for example, into bailing on our beloved Wolverines.
Fear not, Punt. We will manage to dodge the headlights. (This time.)
MICHIGAN 28, PURDUE 13
ND replacements open up.
Hi Brian, I don't know if you've caught up with this yet but the ACC is going to an 8 game conference schedule in football from the present 9 games. This will create immediate schedule openings for ACC teams. The article below from the Atlanta paper discusses the impact on GA Tech and of ND coming into the ACC. Tech and Notre Dame will be permanent partners for home and home series in basketball. I wouldn't want UM to play GA Tech in football, with their Air Force/Navy type offense but there are a ton of other possibilities for us now within the ACC.
This puts Florida State and Clemson more on the table—and I should mention that FSU did have an Oklahoma series in addition to their annual Florida series recently, so they are not entirely averse to a second quality opponent. FSU will have to make sure they don't get Notre Dame in one of those years before anything firms up, but there are five years Michigan is looking for a sexy opponent. At least two of those years FSU will have an opening.
I'd bank on at least one ACC entering the picture in the 2016-2020 window, since two-thirds of a game every year has just opened up.
BONUS INSIDERY THING: This is not on the same level as the Alabama game prediction, which I was certain of, but I've heard from a decent source that Arkansas may be a team that pops up on the schedule in the near future. Jeff Long is a Michigan guy—thus the basketball series we've just completed—and only has TCU in 2016 as a quality opponent in the time frame Michigan will be looking for partners.
Arkansas is not on the level of a Notre Dame but as part of a schedule in which Michigan has two real opponents they're a good choice.
MUSTACHE TRICKS (UNCLASSIFIED)
Do you think that Danny Hope is being vague on the status of Marve and Bolden just to keep Michigan off-balanced in game preparation? I doubt that we will see either player, but having to game plan for both a predominately pocket passer and a more mobile quarterback eats up a lot of practice time and film time. If Bolden and Marve were to be in the game, that back field if both healthy would be an athletic one which could give our defense issues.
Did I answer this question just because it came with a subject of "Mustache tricks (UNCLASSIFIED)"? That's classified.
I wouldn't put anything past coaches in their never-ending quests to gamesmanship themselves an extra yard or two, but I'm not sure about your policework there. TerBush is the athletic QB, Marve the more effective passer. Bolden is either available or not. Purdue's offense isn't going to shift that drastically based on the QB—routes will be the same, they're still going to be operating from the shotgun, etc.
In general, football coaches' manic attempts to get every edge possible are ridiculous. That stuff going down in Los Angeles is doing more damage to either LA program than the miniscule advantage provided by pretty much but not quite knowing the injury situation going into the game. It's especially grating when the same guys are like "scheme is overrated." You know what's overrated? Insane North Korea secrecy.
Can we go fast?
I'm a huge spread guy and I noticed that not once under Hoke has Michigan pushed tempo on offense unless late in halves or games. Can you explain this?
There's a cost to that. Tempoing a defense requires everyone to be on the same page, restricts the package of plays you can use, and requires you to move to a different system of play-signaling.
I think it's a cost worth paying. One of the big takeaways from the Mott open practices is how often guys are not doing anything. That would drive me crazy as a coach, and does drive Chip Kelly crazy, so he set about cramming as much stuff in as possible during practice and then thinking about it after. The results have been pretty good.
Michigan doesn't, at least not right now. I get it. They've got a lot of stuff they're trying to cram into Denard and the OL without putting that extra weight on his shoulders. They haven't taken Tempo 301's prereqs.
Pretty much, buddy.
Do you or do you not support sending Denard on a safety blitz when Ohio State has a 3rd and 9 on the Michigan 40 with 3 minutes to play in a tie game-seems like a near guarantee that he would missile himself into Braxton Miller's spine, forcing a fumble which could then be returned by laquon treadwell who is visiting and has run on to the field in uncontrollable excitement.
If this happens I will donate my entire income for the 2013 fiscal year to Vincent Smith's estate.
I'd rather have Denard throw a poisoned flan at the guy, but I guess your plan could work too.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Purdue|
West Lafayette, IN
4 pm Eastern, October
|THE LINE||M -3|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, around 50, no chance of rain|
Note the 4 PM start time. A little strange, that one.
Run Offense vs Purdue
remember this guy?
Michigan is going to test out the new Lloydmanbearpigball offense they rolled out in the second half against Notre Dame in harsh conditions… maybe. Despite having Kawaan Short and Bruce Gaston last year, Michigan exploded for 339(!) rushing yards on 53 carries. Fitz Toussaint's 59-yard back-breaker was the highlight but even outside that, Toussaint had 111 yards on 19 carries. In the UFR I marveled at how terrible Purdue's defensive ends and how slow their linebackers were, cautioning anyone from giddiness:
You say long-term. Isn't this a post-bye week ability to insert more of the actual offense effective immediately?
Maybe, but I have my doubts about how well it will work against teams stouter than Purdue. I know the Boilers coped vaguely well with Illinois and Penn State. I just have no idea how they managed that. Purdue's run defense suuuuuuuuuuuucks.
They have two main issues: the defensive end who is not senior Gerald Gooden and their outside linebackers. Gooden was all right holding the edge, so Michigan ran away from him most of the day. This is because Purdue's other DE is terrible whether it's the starter or the backup. That guy got sealed all day:
That is Michigan's first play from scrimmage. Koger seals the playside DE and that's about it. When that guy isn't stringing the play to the sideline or taking out another blocker your pitch is 75% of the way to success. On this play the MLB taking a dumb angle upfield of the Koger block is the rest of it.
A year later they're 23rd in rushing defense and ceded just 97 yards on 29 carries to Notre Dame, the only BCS team they've played to date. Ace took a look at that game instead of FFFFing a nonexistent UMass game and came back impressed with Short:
Purdue exacerbated Notre Dame's interior rushing woes by selling out against the run, forcing Golson to beat them with his arm. Kawaan Short played an All-American-caliber game, holding his ground against double teams and blowing up plays whenever he faced a single blocker. He recorded four tackles and two sacks, both coming when he made a lone Irish interior lineman look silly with a quick move off the line. PROTIP: Do not block Kawaan Short with one person.
After Michigan had a similar outing against ND's rushing offense the viability of the Irish OL is in question… but so is the viability of Michigan's OL. They had a tough time with Nix and Tuitt and will be getting a couple of players of that caliber in their face Saturday.
The question for Purdue is: what about everyone surrounding those stars at DT? Ryan Russell was a huge problem last year as a redshirt freshman; this year he's got 4.5 TFLs and two sacks. Improvement or mirage?
The same goes for Will Lucas, currently Purdue's leading tackler as a true junior. He was the MLB mentioned above. He's entering his second year as a full time starter and should be expected to improve a great deal. When Michigan flees from Short—and they will flee from Short if Mike Kwiatkowski's inflated UFR number from the ND game is any indication—will the ends hold up and the linebackers show up? Not so much last year.
Key Matchup: Kwiatkowski, Funchess, Williams, and the tackles sealing those ends inside. That was deadly for the Boilers last year.
[Hit THE JUMP for tiny corners, standard Purdue offense.]
It was the bye week, and in the diaries of MGoBlog this means a Saturday dedicated to our 5-star spouses. For those not yet initiated into the sublime pleasures of matrimony, 707oxford has some advice:
As the games come to a close, start drinking (if you haven't already, which of course you have). Libation of choice should be something that makes you happy, or better yet occasionally leads to adventure and/or trouble. The night is young - go out, stay out, and don’t come back until the next morning after a sunrise breakfast at some greasy diner before sleeping through the NFL games and easing into next week.
On the boards, the peeps all shared their plans in Erik_in_Dayton's thread, while jamiemac crusaded against the practice. My solution: marry a gal who likes adventures and going to SEC games, is always down for a Coney (LAFAYETTE!) at 3 a.m., and will explain to her best friend that a 3:30 game means I have to miss the rehearsal dinner "because he has to work." Best wife ever? Well let's check the box score, where badminton-hating ST3's wife…has made him play badminton, which he now doesn't hate so much anymore (srsly that's what the diary is about).
Bronxblue decided to use the time to take stock of the year so far. I would love it—LOVE IT—if after covering a 45-point spread against a hapless MACrifice Jake Ryan stood on the 50, chucked his helmet in the direction of David Brandon, and did the Maximus:
Apparently new M coach Erik Bakich was more productive with his free time, increasing baseball's total 2013 recruits to a dozen. Raoul knows how to embed podcats, and has the skinny on two skinny middle infielders and a guy named Drew Lugbauer who's 6'3-190, which please oh please let this be a sign of paunch because fat college catchers make the best catchers.
Fox sat out the first series on defense, when he came back he looked like a new man. On offense he was got a free release to the second level and got his first pancake block on a LB leading to a big run. He got his second pancake when he pulled and absolutely leveled the DE, leading to another big run.
The report is up and down, and more focused on his defense at DT/NT in a mixed front system that seemed to be using him as a stay-at-home plugger. Like Lewan and Jake Long, the latter of whom he has drawn a comparison to, Fox came to OL late, so a trail of donkeys is not quite in the expectations yet.
[THE_KNOWLEDGE loses both his predictive and his plenary powers, and perfunctory prognostications for Purdue after THE JUMP]
The Road Ahead:
Last game: Marshall 41, Purdue 51 (W)
Recap: Purdue’s defense gave up 534 yards and 41 points to a middling C-USA team, but this was okay because Purdue had a 42-14 lead going into halftime and ended up with four takeaways on the day due to the fast and loose nature of Marshall’s offense. The Boilermakers were never really in danger of losing, but for argument’s sake let’s go with the storyline that QB Caleb Terbush’s brilliant performance (27/37, 294 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT) saved the day. Who needs Robert Marve when you have Drew Brees under center. Yeah.
(As Ace noted in his FFFF yesterday, most of these were screen passes, so really, credit goes to the skill guys).
Purdue didn’t do much on the ground, where they averaged a little under 3 ypc. Most of their offense was generated by screens and quick passes. If lingering concern still exists about Michigan’s defensive front, it shouldn’t matter much against Purdue. Most of the action will go outside.
Defensively the Boilermakers got papercutted to death. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato (45/68, 439 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) … well you can just read his stats to see how that went. Unfortunately Michigan has eschewed the dink-and-dunk offense for a Big Boy NFL vertical passing game, so it’s unlikely that Denard will have as much production through the air compared with Cato. But for the amount of hype Purdue CB Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen have generated over the offseason, that kind of a ho-hum day (although they each did record a pick-six) seems reasonable to believe that there is room to get guys open against them. Again, different offenses, different game plan, but there is room for optimism.
This team is as frightening as: Notre Dame lite. Fear level = 5.
Michigan should worry about: This is the team Michigan will likely need to beat twice in order to reach the Rose Bowl.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: If Michigan can beat them on the road, they can beat them on a neutral site, eh?
When they play Michigan: The same sorts of matchups and opportunities exist against Purdue that existed against Notre Dame: a stout defensive front with key weaknesses behind them and a mediocre offense led by solid but uninspiring quarterback play. Michigan should succeed with a more conservative game plan on offense that emphasizes the ground game (just don’t run at Kawann Short) and easy reads for Denard. Michigan’s defense should take care of the rest.
Next game: vs. Snake Oil Emporium.