- 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]
[Ed-Seth: We have the great pleasure of employing the services and serving utensils of the original barbecuing bloggerati Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ to write recipes for our most delicious sponsor, Stubb's BBQ sauce. It doesn’t come in plastic bottles. It is not ketchup. Nine of ten doctors say “daaaaaamn”.]
Since moving down here to Texas, I have discovered a few things:
- I do not look good in a cowboy hat.
- How much I miss a great game of pond hockey
- The GREATNESS of beef cheeks.
Yes, I said beef cheeks. Trust me, you will fall in love with these the first time you make them. This is my go-to when making barbacoa, which is a basically a form of cooking meat until it’s fall-apart tender. Traditionally meats are cooked slowly over an open fire or in a hole in the ground that has been covered in large leaves. Since I do not have either of these at my standard tailgate. I decided to go with my smoker.
- Beef Cheeks
Stubbs Beef Rub
Tortillas (Corn or Flour)
Beer or Coffee and beef broth
[Hit the JUMP if you dare but remember you are not supposed to eat your monitor.]
About Last Week:
Penn State ran so much stuff that ALMOST worked.
The Road Ahead:
Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last week: Won at Michigan State, 30-6
Recap: This game wasn’t quite as lopsided as the score would indicate. The two teams finished roughly equal in terms of total yards and yards per play, and neither team could run the ball. Seven of Wisconsin’s points came off a 66-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The big difference in this game was the quarterbacks. Wisconsin got a sufficient level of quarterback play. Michigan State didn’t. That was the ballgame.
That’s not to say that Alex Hornibrook was fantastic. He was okay-to-good. He threw for 195 yards at 7.5 yards per attempt with a pick (albeit on a last-play-of-the-half Hail Mary type object), a lost fumble, and a 1-yard touchdown pass. He has a rather notable lack of arm strength; on the last play of the first half, Wisconsin had the ball on the MSU 37, and Hornibrook didn’t get the ball anywhere near the end zone. He struggled at other times to push the ball downfield with velocity.
That said, he managed the game well, hit the open receivers, put some balls into tight windows, and generally avoided mistakes. He looks much more comfortable than the guy he replaced, Bart Houston. Is it because Hornibrook has a better last name? Maybe. Probably.
This team is as frightening as: Bald Bull. A real opponent, but this ain’t Tyson. Fear Level = 8
Michigan should worry about: Michigan struggled up front with a 3-4 defenses in the UCF and Colorado games.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Wisconsin scored plenty in the Akron game. In their other three games, they have scored six offensive touchdowns. Those drives averaged a start on the opponent’s 47 yard line. It is unlikely they can string long drives together against Michigan’s defense. And Wisconsin ALSO ranks towards the bottom in the country in offensive explosiveness (#114, per Bill C)
When they play Michigan: Michigan wins.
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Michigan -10.5)
[AFTER THE JUMP: The path looks clearer, with one terrifying exception]