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As you likely expected/dreaded by now, Wyatt Shallman’s Michigan career is over. Degree in hand, Wyatt announced on Twitter this afternoon that he’ll pursue a grad transfer for his final year of eligibility:
Thank you to The University of Michigan pic.twitter.com/gLyYESgZ2y
— Wyatt Shallman (@WyattShallman) January 19, 2017
Injuries held Shallman back from seeing the field for most of his time here. At his first fall practice observers noted Shallman was doing hamstring exercises and a redshirt was all but certain. He took one handoff in the blessedly forgettable App State game, and appeared sparingly on special teams in 2014. Going into 2015 Sam Webb reported a strained calf, and several weeks later Shallman tweeted a photo of himself about to go into surgery. Later that season he took three handoffs late in the Rutgers game, blowing through a couple of tacklers for one thunderous five-yard gain that suddenly reminded us of the player Michigan thought it was getting. But with Michigan’s crowded backfield, Shallman could never seem to break into the running back rotation; if they tried him at fullback it never seemed to stick long enough for the public to get a read.
Off the field, well, we’ve made little secret here that he’s been one of our favorite players since his recruitment—tags on this site include wyatt shallman’s mushroom hair, wyatt shallman’s ferrett, wyatt shallman’s wallaby, and wyatt shallman is metal af. Shallman committed to Michigan early (he was #2 of that 9-commit-a-palooza in February 2012) and was instrumental in helping to build that particularly close 2013 class. If he ever had police show up at his door it was because of a habit of adopting interesting fauna. His playful viking personality was just one of many reasons Michigan fans were excited to see Shallman on the field since his junior year of high school.
That recruiting excitement included three sites (Rivals punted and called him an ATH) ranking him #1 or #2 in the country at his position (fullback), despite that not actually being his position. All rated him 4 stars and around the 6th to 10th player in a strong in-state class, but just about everyone needed a long time to be convinced Shallman wasn’t playing DE, TE, FB, H-back, or whatever. For their part Michigan made it clear he was offered as a running back despite Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith in the class, and each time someone checked in Wyatt was still a back, albeit one who could do lots of other things. Personally I think I finally came over to the idea when Harbaugh arrived, since “multi-purpose, super-athletic, lion-maned, exotic creature-adopting, 260-pound running back” sounded like a thing that should totally happen in a Harbaughffense.
Now we’ll be rooting for someone else to tap that delightful potential. Root strongly—this is a guy who’s been a pleasure to cover over the last four years, and who has done about as much for Michigan as you can from the sidelines.
Going to be a dodgy year on the OL. Steve Lorenz reports that Grant Newsome has a "minimal" chance of playing in 2017. That is not good. If that's the case you just about have to slide Ben Bredeson outside and run with something like Bredeson/Kugler/Cole/Onwenu/Somebody.
You'd think the leader to be Somebody would be redshirt sophomore-to-be Nolan Ulizio. Ulizio didn't look particularly good when he got in this fall; I've heard that he had mono and was down to 260 at one point. He bounced back during the fall but only to 280. He could surge forward once he gets to the right weight.
A bountiful draft. The NFL's website names Michigan the team poised to send the most talent to the NFL draft:
Early rounds: EDGE Taco Charlton, CB Jourdan Lewis, S Jabrill Peppers, DE Chris Wormley
Middle rounds: TE Jake Butt (injury), WR Amara Darboh, OT Erik Magnuson, RB De'Veon Smith
Late rounds: OG Ben Braden, WR Jehu Chesson, LB Ben Gedeon, DT Ryan Glasgow, S Delano Hill, OG Kyle Kalis, CB Channing Stribling, S Dymonte Thomas
I'd be surprised if Braden and Kalis got picked but everyone else has a real shot of going off the board. Charlton appears to be surging up draft boards to the point where debatably silly things are being said about him:
Mel Kiper says on conference call that Michigan's Taco Charlton is the best pass-rushing defensive end in the draft.
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) January 19, 2017
This is a draft with Myles Garrett in it, so that's a thing.
Harbaugh stories. Chase Goodbread collects them from Michigan players at the Shrine game:
"One time, he told us as a kid he got hit by a mail truck and was in a cast, and was still playing football with it. Then they had to rebreak it -- I can't remember if it was his foot or his arm -- because he kept playing on it and made it worse. I mean, who gets hit by a mail truck? It could only be you, coach Harbaugh." - DB Dymonte Thomas
Screaming works? 538 tracks penalties by which sideline they're thrown on and the results are not encouraging if you're the kind of person who believes people are in charge of things for a reason:
This is NFL data and so not directly applicable to college, but you'd think college refs would be even more susceptible to these sorts of things since they're drawn from a wider pool and are probably less capable on average than NFL refs.
So: the defense gets called for "aggressive" penalties ("unnecessary roughness, personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct, and horse-collar tackles" per the article) 30-40% more often when there are people complaining nearby.
Meanwhile the holding graph is very strange since the effect inverses once you approach the goal line. The only mechanism there is revenge(!) as side judges who are now far away from the screaming maniacs exact their price. Maybe it evens out for holding.
Not that anyone calls holding anymore. This was one of the main takeaways from the Film Room broadcast of the national title game: Alabama scores thanks to an edge block on which a defender is yanked to the ground; someone exclaims that is a hold; the assembled coaches all laugh about the fact that nobody calls holding any more.
Tracing Michigan's ground game issues. De'Veon Smith is performing impressively at the Shrine game practices:
One of the best players at the East-West Shrine this week has been Michigan running back De'Veon, Smith and he had a tremendous practice on Wednesday. ... Both his route and the blocking earned Smith some a lot of praise from the coaching staff. In the team scrimmage, he also broke off a few chunk runs, weaving his way through defenders with quickness, balance, and vision.
Scouting sources told WalterFootball.com that Smith could be the best offensive prospect on the East team, and he has had a tremendous week to help his draft stock.
East Day 3 practice - RB De'Veon Smith (Michigan) had a great day. Very good in pass pro, hands, physical, compact build.#shrinegame
— NFL Draft Blitz (@NFLDraftBlitz) January 18, 2017
It would be nice if Michigan's problems were because of Smith since he's out the door and Michigan has a number of guys who look like viable replacements; I don't think that's the case, and his rising draft stock concurs. Michigan has a major build job on the offensive line to undertake. Related: TTB has a breakdown of the guys who Michigan recruited and their destinies.
I guess this is fine. Football is set to get a slightly early signing period:
The Division I Football Oversight Committee is moving forward with a proposal that would open a 72-hour signing period for high school recruits in December. The timeframe would correspond with the current December signing time for junior college recruits.
But the committee isn’t recommending an early-signing time for recruits in June.
That "early" period is still after everyone's season, so most of the coaching changes will have already transpired. I didn't like the rumored June signing period since it was inane to lock guys in before they could take official visits and before the firing season.
While the June date didn't make it, an artifact of those earlier discussions may have wormed its way through anyway:
As part of the committee’s proposal, rules on official visits for recruits would also be modified. Recruits would be allowed to take official visits from April-June of their junior years, two months earlier than initially proposed.
That's good for Michigan, which will be able to get early-deciding kids on campus more easily now.
Midterm CSB rankings. Michigan-relevant players ranked by the NHL's central scouting board:
- F Josh Norris: #46
- D Luke Martin: #67
...and that's it. Mike Pastujov, who was hyped as a potential first-rounder, is not on the list. The cavalry is not coming next year.
Shooting a gun with no bullets in it. There is a Mississippi state senator who thinks he has a magic wand:
Mississippi Rep. Trey Lamar (R-Senatobia) has proposed a new House Bill that would surely benefit Ole Miss’ current recruiting woes: The National Collegiate Athletic Association Fairness in F.A.C.T Investigation Act of 2017.
Lamar, a former Rebels walk-on running back from the early 2000s, is pushing a bill giving the NCAA one year to complete its investigation once it notifies a school of possible rules violations, according to a report from WCBI News.
NCAA: "Or what?"
TREY LAMAR: "Or I shall name a bill at you a second time!"
This is not how state government works, Trey Lamar. FWIW, various coaches at AFCA project that Ole Miss will find out their fate in 2-3 months, and that it will not be pretty. Or it will, because NCAA.
Etc.: Fired Alabama DL coach Bo Davis talks to AL.com, attempts to spin a tale about how his firing was for one violation of the bump rule, cumong man. Analyst Rick Finotti gets the head job at DIII John Carroll. Dumb, but important. The playoff is good. Willis Ward and the track captaincy. Recruiting rankings are getting better because of Hudl. Yost, 1946.
An annual series that attempts to figure out which of the major recruiting services had the best read on a recruiting class. You get three points for the best, two for second, one for third, with ties adding all those up and splitting it. Note that the higher the rank the more willing I am to make a distinction between takes. #20 is different than #60; #200 is the same as #240.
No significant differences:
- Jeremy Clark. The sites missed on Clark (if he plays well in his sixth year and gets drafted) since they didn't think he could play corner. He was a generic three star to all.
- Allen Gant. Nobody was optimistic here. FWIW, ESPN was the most thunderously pessimistic, ranking him the #150 WR and #72 player in Ohio.
- Jarrod Wilson. Wilson was a mid-four star to everyone; Scout put him #245 but actually had him lower positionally than anyone else. Wilson performed to his rating.
- Matt Godin. Godin got one four-star ranking from 24/7; they rated him the #17 SDE and #11 in the state while folks who offered three stars ranked him #8 and #10 in-state and around 30th as a DT, which has twice as many guys as SDE. Those are more or less the same ranking despite the star difference. He was a quintessential 3/4 star tweener and played exactly like it.
- Ben Braden. Generic three star to the world, and that was about right. Braden was co-Sleeper of the Year along with Chesson. Willie Henry was the best pick; Chesson and Braden were probably #2 and #3 depending on how you feel about Jeremy Clark.
- Jehu Chesson. Also a generic three star to everyone.
- Sione Houma. Fullback. ESPN only gave two stars but actually had him higher positionally than anyone else.
Not Applicable: Kaleb Ringer had microfracture surgery as a freshman and never recovered. He transferred to Ferris State. Sites were more or less in agreement on him in any case.
Note: ESPN only ranked out to 150 this year.
A universal four star despite his diminutive size, Richardson barely played and eventually transferred to Marshall. This was not the finest day for any of the scouting services but ESPN was the wrongest, placing him #68 in the country. 247 (#142), Scout(#183), and Rivals(#224) were more skeptical by degrees but not far enough apart to make a distinction.
1st(T): 24/7, Scout, Rivals
Another universal four-star with not much playing time to his name, Ross flashed big talent but ended up watching for most of his career. While this was a miss by everyone, Scout(#83) and 247(#116) were the highest on him, with Rivals (#172) a hair more skeptical. ESPN wins the prize for leaving him at the bottom of their four-star rankings with an 80.
3rd(T): Scout, 24/7
The third in a series of four star guys who didn't pan out; ESPN(#111) and Scout(#113) were higher on RJS by a wide enough margin to ding them relative to Rivals(#184) and 247(#209).
1st(T): Rivals, 24/7
3rd(T): Scout, ESPN
Played a ton, but never particularly well. Ended up undrafted; Michigan upgraded with new faces after his departure. Should have been a high three star; was instead universally hailed with 247(#58) and Scout(#69) significantly higher on him than Rivals(#111) and ESPN(#142).
1st(T): Rivals, ESPN
3rd(T): 24/7, Scout
Finally someone a recruiting service underrated. Wormley was infamously dissed by Josh Helmholdt for his lack of motor; Rivals gave him a generic three star ranking that stands out as the biggest miss of the cycle. He was their #22 player in Ohio... after being the subject of a heated Michigan-OSU recruiting battle. Okay.
Everyone else offered four stars, with 24/7(#72) much higher on him than Scout (#164) and ESPN (unranked four-star). Wormley turned into a stalwart DE/DT who should be off the draft board by the end of day two. 24/7 was thus bang on.
2nd(T): Scout, ESPN
One of the biggest busts of the class, Strobel was a four-star guy to three services. Despite being radically undersized for DT, Strobel was sent there early in his career, emerging as a redshirt junior after Michigan lost their top two nose tackles. Strobel was overrun and not offered a fifth year.
ESPN was the lone skeptic and they were very skeptical. He was the #29 player in OH and the #61 DE. Scout(#93) missed most badly, with 24/7(#198) and Rivals (unranked four star, albeit in front of Wormley) more or less tied for second.
2nd(T): 24/7, Rivals
Despite a large split in opinion I think I have to punt here. Ojemudia was in the midst of a breakout season as a senior when he went down with an achilles injury in game five, i.e. the very instant it was too late to redshirt. Also he was one of the most insane burned redshirt of the Hoke era, getting spot time in nine games as a 230 pound DE.
So was he a four star and guy just outside the top 200 (ESPN, Scout) or a generic three star (24/7, Rivals)? Yes. Also no.
Nobody thought much of Henry when he committed but Scout offered him a reasonably high ranking (#38 DT); the rest of the services (#59 OH, #97 DT, #54 OH) had him in the "if we gave out two stars any more this guy would have two stars" range.
2nd(T): 24/7, Rivals, ESPN
Pipkins had an ACL injury that hampered his career but was healthy enough to play the year after his injury and three years removed from it at Texas Tech, so his lack of impact was probably more about his ability. Everyone missed here; ESPN (four-star outside the top 150, #16 DT) was significantly more skeptical than the rest. Rivals gave him five stars and ranked him in the top 20; Scout and 24/7 had him just outside the top 50.
2nd(T): 24/7, Scout
Everyone except ESPN was in a tight band from #71 to #82 overall; ESPN had him a four-star and the #27 OT in the country. I was ready to punt on this since Magnuson was kind of at the midpoint but both Seth and Ace were strongly in favor of the latter ranking.
2nd(T): Scout, 24/7, Rivals
Rivals was the only service to offer Bars a fourth star; they ranked him the #32 OT. The next most optimistic service, ESPN, had him #54. Bars never played and transferred away.
1st: 24/7, ESPN, Scout
Played a bunch; like Bolden never played particularly well. Has some chance of getting drafted late. Should not have been a five star; Scout(#35) and Rivals(#22) gave him one. 24/7 was significantly more skeptical (#61) and ESPN more skeptical yet(#132).
3rd(T): Scout, Rivals
Generic three star tight end rankings from three services. Scout offered him a fourth, ranked him as an OT, and placed him #225 overall. While Williams did have his late Harbaugh surge, the skeptics were correct.
1st: 24/7, Rivals, ESPN
Another bad miss by Rivals in the Midwest, as a future second-round pick with obvious eye-popping athleticism got three stars from them. Everyone else offered four, with ESPN the most optimistic. He was just outside their (then) top 150 and the #5 TE.
2nd(T): Scout, 24/7
Another guy with three sites in a tight range, this from #199 to #215. ESPN whiffed badly, ranking Darboh the #82 WR and a three-star. The other sites were bang on.
1st(T): Rivals, Scout, 24/7
Sigh. Norfleet made a terrible decision to sign up for a Brady Hoke/Al Borges joint that had less than zero use for a tiny running back, but it must be stated that he should not have been a four star. ESPN was the lone service to dump Norfleet way down their list (#80 RB, #26 MI); the other three sites had him a solid four star from #163 to #236. And they probably would have been right if Norfleet had gone to Kansas State or something.
2nd(T): Scout, Rivals, 24/7
Your 2012 Recruiting Class Rankings Winner is...
ESPN. By a landslide.
- ESPN: 30 points
- 24/7: 24 points
- Rivals: 18 points
- Scout: 17.5 points
It sucks for Michigan that they won largely because they thought a bunch of guys were overrated relative to the rest of the services; on the other hand, ESPN says Michigan has a terrific class this year. So we've got that going for us.
24/7 won the 2011 class, which had fewer points up for grabs since so many of those gentlemen were in the generic three-star void. Your two-year totals:
- ESPN: 39.5
- 24/7: 36.5
- Rivals: 25
- Scout: 24.5
Ron Bellamy Day. From WH. Part II is here.
Remember that one time an otherwise obscure/disappointing player was a superstar for a day?
Full game is on the youtubes.
Smoothitron: I went through his game log not that long ago praying that wasn't his career high, and it's not, but it's close.
The pinnacle stretch of Spike's career was tragically unfun.
[Do NOT hit THE JUMP if you prefer to fondly remember erstwhile highly hyped Michigan scatbacks]
Seth: My first thought was Justin Fargas versus Northwestern/A Very Angry Poseidon
[UM Bentley Library]
But 3.9 YPC is pretty standard for a Carr running back. A week later opponents had figured out that Michigan always runs and outside pitch with Fargas, and the A-Train Era resumed.
So I’m calling dibs on Bellamy versus MSU.
David: You guys, Brandon Herron.
- Tackles: 8, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
- Solos: 3, twice (last vs. Connecticut, Sept. 4, 2010)
- Asst: 7, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
- TFLs: 0.5, twice (last vs. Penn State, Oct. 24, 2009)
- Sacks: None
- Int.: 1, vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 3, 2011)
- FR: 1, twice (last vs. Western Michigan, Sept. 3, 2011)
He literally was not recorded for another tackle for the rest of the season yet assisted on seven and had his only solo tackle of the year. The big plays were the pick- and fumble-sixes. Michigan was also down 7-0 with the Broncos driving for a two-score lead when Herron picked a deflected pass and rumbled down the sideline to tie the game. Later in the third quarter, after Alex Carder (who now plays for the Guangzhou Power of the China Arena Football League!!!!!) was Kovacs'd by a safety blitz, Herron picked up the remains and scampered 29 yards to give Michigan a 27-10 lead.
Ace: So for some reason there's all-22 film of the Brandon Herron game:
Brian: I remember that, and having to explain that the guy who scored two defensive touchdowns actually hadn't played very well. He was replaced the next week. That's a record that'll never be broken.
Ace: Incidentally, that was the first game I ever covered for mgo. That lightning probably saved dozens of fans from heat stroke, too. Thanks, Dave Brandon!
Brian: This is not relevant but I'm putting it here anyway.
Ace: It’s never not relevant, to be honest.
Seth: If I remember correctly the real WLB unicorn of 2011 was Brandin Hawthorne, who was a knife-ish weapon X in UTL1, then replaced by a true freshman Desmond Morgan a few games after. His UFR career:
|2011||Notre Dame||Hawthorne||6.5||4||2.5||Alternated nice plays, coverage, with slow reads.|
|2011||Eastern Michigan||Hawthorne||5||11||-6||Slow reads really got him.|
|2011||San Diego State||Hawthorne||4.5||6.5||-2||Half of minuses came on final drive, fwiw, but he did bust a coverage there.|
|2011||Minnesota||Hawthorne||3.5||2||1.5||Not giving his PT back.|
|2011||Northwestern||Hawthorne||4.5||4||0.5||One big error on dive; good in coverage.|
|2011||Michigan State||Hawthorne||2||4.5||-2.5||Unable to use his speed effectively, pulled.|
|2011||Purdue||Hawthorne||-||-||-||Only garbage time.|
|2011||Ohio State||Hawthorne||-||-||-||Garbage time.|
|2012||Massachusetts||Hawthorne||1||2||-1||Nevermind the Hawthorne PT thing.|
Brian: How about Alain Kashama?
BiSB: vs. Florida?
Brian: Kashama was a hyped Canadian import who didn't know how to play football, and then he was everywhere in an Outback win against UF. He covered a fumble, he forced one, he had two TFLs, and then he went back into his ice palace.
Somehow I'd forgotten that Kashama had another year after that, and he had two sacks against OSU the next year in that Navarre-Perry win. But I was hype about him after that bowl game.
Ace: Anyone want to guess the career-best single-game scoring output between CJ Lee and David Merritt? Bonus points for who it came against.
Brian: I'm baffled.
Ace: 11 points, CJ Lee, in… the Blake Griffin Murders Everybody Game.
Brian: Makes sense. That was also the Anthony Wright unicorn game.
Ace: Two unicorn games in a loss makes sense given that matchup.
Brian: We should be careful talking about Wright. You know he's got vines of him dunking in eighth grade locked and loaded for just such an occasion. I wish I had the foresight to tape me nailing some quiz bowl questions.
Brian: I know he started for a full season but I still feel like Tate Forcier deserves a shout here for the 67-65 Illinois game.
Ace: 2009 Notre Dame makes it hard for him to have a unicorn game. Matt Millen would’ve awarded him the Heisman then and there had it been on hand.
Brian: Whatever man, it's my goal to get Tate Forcier in as many TWOs as possible. Next up: "most inadvisable statements to the media".
Ace: Speaking of QB performances that don’t quite qualify, I wanted to say Scott Dreisbach against Virginia, but apparently being seven years old at the time allowed me to forget about the two picks and pedestrian 7.2 YPA.
Brian: I'll accept that, actually, because it was a unicorn half. I distinctly remember a middle-aged Virginia fan turning around at halftime to tell us that Michigan was not coming back with that freshman under center. Nobody disagreed.
Ace: His full season as a starter mostly bore that out. And now, thanks to the Bentley database, I want to find the 72-yard rushing touchdown he had in the 1996 Illinois game.
Next-longest career run: 19 yards. Sorry, I realize I’ve lost the plot.
Brian: Excellent camerawork there to get the thousand yard stares from Illinois defenders who have just been defenestrated. I did thoroughly enjoy Keith Jackson saying “he’s got the speed” with increased conviction as he realized there were no more safeties.
Ace: Since there was an entire blog dedicated to his underachievements and I remember this game fondly: Ronald Bellamy had 124 yards and two TDs in the 2002 evisceration of MSU.
Seth: I already dibs’d.
Though I forgot he had an almost equally good game (8 catches, 1 TD) against Ohio State.
Brian: No dibs in TWO! Except Tate Forcier, who is mine.
Ace: Alright there, Neal McBeal.
Brian: Is that a rappist?
I expected more from you, Brian.
Brian: OH NO
Brian: shame, immense shame. I feel like Whale Olbermann is talking directly to me.
BiSB: "You will forgive me if I chortle no longer" would be a great site banner tag.
Seth: Fine, then I'm switching mine to Tyrece “The RECE” Butler, 2002 Washington. This has some background: When he was recruited Tyrece’s mom sent the Daily an OMG Shirtless poster of him. Being impish commie Daily-ites, we of course put the poster on the inside of the editorial board room door. This door was always open unless we were in session so 99% of those who came through the Student Publications Building never saw it, but to us inside, The RECE was our mascot, spirit animal, and all-powerful pectoral deity.
On the field, other than a tantalizing 77-yard (non-TD) first career catch in 2001, Butler never cracked 45 yards or 4 catches again in his career. Except that one day:
Six catches for 85 yards, and fell on Braylon’s “fumble” on 4th and 2 on the last drive to help earn Brabbs his shot at redemption.
Ace: I know the Fargas game was mentioned and dismissed because of the low YPC but man, he was running in a monsoon.
Brian: And he was so perfectly useless in all other games
Ace: I remember they kept cutting to shots of literal waterfalls going down the stadium steps. Breaking his leg against Wisconsin didn’t help. Unfortunately remember that one pretty well, too.
BiSB: Speaking of epic monsoon performances, Sam McGuffie had 178 yards from scrimmage against Notre Dame in 2008
Brian: I still remember looking up some yards per target data, sorting by catch rate, and seeing McGuffie with 40/40 catches as a Rice slot receiver
BiSB: It's a shame he was so murderable.
Ugh. McGuffie's second-best yards-from-scrimmage performance was... Toledo.
Ace: This may be why he’s now on the national bobsled team.
Brian: In retrospect he should not have worn the paper-mache helmets. Seemed like a good idea at the time?
Ace: I’m not sure I recall anyone else getting ragdolled so frequently.
BiSB: We'll always have the mixtape.
Ace: Noel Devine II.
[update: WE HERE AT MGOBLOG DOT COM ARE PROFOUNDLY EMBARASSSED FOR HAVING FORGOTTEN TO MENTION THE NICK SHERIDAN GAME. THIS WAS AN INEXCUSABLE OVERSIGHT. MEA CULPA.]
Friday, January 13, 2017
#9 Minnesota 5, Michigan 2
Minn 0 Mich 1 EV 08:57 Assists: Allen & Winborg
The puck’s dumped in, and though that’s usually not a great way to generate offense it works here because Allen’s essentially dumping it to the corner to himself. Getting rid of the puck allows him to use his forward momentum against the back-skating, mid-turn defender without worrying about the puck being knocked away.
Winborg, who’s in the faceoff circle in the screencap above, gets into excellent position behind the net. He’s there to set a pick as Minnesota switches defenders, with the one in the bottom of the faceoff circle in the above screencap the man who’s picked off. Allen has the space behind the two to poke the puck ahead, skate through, and retrieve it.
Allen gets the puck and has a huge passing lane with which to work. Schierhorn’s got to whip his head from tracking behind the net to the side of the net to the high slot too quickly for him to do much about a shot attempt.
Minnesota’s forwards all collapse on net and watch behind the net, which allows Shuart a perfect and completely undefended chance. He puts the puck high on Schierhorn, who can do no more than flinch.
Minn 1 Mich 1 EV 14:19 Assists: Sheehy
Shuart’s having himself a heck of a first few minutes by the time this happens; he’s already scored and now breaks into the zone and almost gets the shot he wants on net, but he ends up pulling it wide. He gets a second-chance attempt, but Schierhorn stops it.
Somehow that stop turns into the world’s longest and most conveniently-placed rebound, coming off Shierhorn’s pads and right onto Sheehy’s stick. It’s mind-boggling how well positioned the puck is; if Sheehy wasn’t cutting in like the direction he is then there’s a good chance Winborg takes picks it up. This is Michigan 2016-17 winter sports, though, so there’s no way that was gonna happen.
Sheehy passes up to Pitlick, and from there it’s just a footrace between Pitlick and Keving Lohan.
Pitlick wins. He squeezes the puck in short-side on what’s a pseudo-breakaway given the non-role the defenseman played. From what I’ve seen of Lohan this season, his positioning is good when given time and he seems to have good on-ice awareness, but his lack of speed has burned him over and over. Not a huge surprise that he was scratched for Saturday’s game.
Minn 2 Mich 1 EV 16:29 Assists: Collins & Bristedt
Calderone gets the puck at the edge of the neutral zone and, seeing the defender directly in front of him, decides that the best move he has is to spin and backhand a pass to Dancs, who’s going to have plenty of room to skate if the pass is on target. If. It’s not, though. It turns into a neutral-zone turnover, and now Michigan has three skaters (one who’s out of the frame below but whom you can see in the GIF) who have to turn hard to get back in on the play as it goes the other direction.
Bristedt takes the stretch pass on the wing and doesn’t really have a great option. He does, however, have great edges. He has two defenders (circled below, of course) converging. He shakes the first one (edge of the faceoff circle) by slamming on the brakes.
Bristedt pulls the puck in just as Dancs arrives, which causes Dancs to miss his poke check. Bristedt now has the puck in front of Dancs’ back, which gives him an easy pass to the defenseman just inside the blue line.
Collins sees traffic in front of the net and slaps it on net hoping for a deflection. He gets one. Novak’s defended for a second, and then he’s not. Cecconi lifts Novak’s stick way up, and as Novak takes a step toward the middle of the crease his stick falls back to the ice. He lets it lag behind and it works perfectly. The puck hits the blade and ricochets up and over Nagelvoort, who has absolutely no chance on this puck.
Minn 3 Mich 1 EV 19:58 Assists: Collins & Bristedt
Bristedt carries down the wing and is faced with something of a wall formed by Luke Martin and Dancs. He tries to sneak the puck through but has it blocked by Martin, who throws it back toward the blue line.
The problem is that it goes right to Collins, and with Dancs following Bristedt low there’s no one up high to pressure the defenseman. Collins takes his time and shoots. Might as well, since there are a ton of bodies in front of the net to bank it off of, a pretty bad chance Nagelvoort can see the puck, and a now-unchecked guy in the crease.
Collins’ shot gets through and is stopped, but the rebound goes to Nagelvoort’s right. That’s where the unchecked skater is. Let’s discuss him for a second. He’s right in front of Lohan. As the puck’s moving back to the blue line, Lohan’s even pointing out where help is needed on the weakside. Yet there’s this guy who’s right in front of him who takes a step behind him and it’s like object permanence ceases to exist. He just totally forgets about Szmatula and instead watches the puck move from wing to point. I know what I said above about his on-ice awareness, which is why this is even more baffling.
I feel bad for Nagelvoort here. No chance. Not. A. Chance.
Minn 3 Mich 2 SH 06:58 Assists: None
Shuart’s got the puck tied up in the corner. There’s not a good angle of this outside of the GIF, so for the sake of avoiding duplication here’s a nice closeup of the puck being tied up in the corner.
Minnesota wins the battle, but the puck’s been tied up long enough that Michigan can roll the dice a little and have extra attackers pressure despite being down a man. Warren reads the pass well, getting a jump on it and picking it off Bristedt.
Bristedt is trying desperately to backhand a pass anywhere when Warren extends and picks off the puck. The turnover is so egregious that Warren essentially has to do nothing more than push the puck in once it’s on his blade. That’s a great read and pressure from him.
Minn 4 Mich 2 EV 18:01 Assists: Pitlick & Kloos
Minnesota breaks out of their zone and carries through the neutral zone unimpeded. The good news is that two Michigan skaters converge as Kloos enters the zone. Warren even knocks the puck away. This is going well!
The puck slides to the corner, where Cecconi carries Kloos. He’s bracing for the hit from Cecconi and can do no more than fling the puck behind the net. Meanwhile, Sheehy (circled below) is gliding through the zone with no one even remotely close to him. Warren’s hanging out on the boards just…I don’t know, hanging out. This is bad!
Pitlick gets behind the net without much in the way of obstruction; Pastujov gives a tap or two once he sees that there’s a guy cutting in and behind him, but he’d have to crush Pitlick (not something you expect from a winger) to prevent what happens next.
Sheehy gets two tries from directly in front of Nagelvoort. Meanwhile, Warren glides through toward the slot and just stares at what’s happening. Martin’s in front of the net but has the balance standing to the side so as not to screen Nagelvoort with getting into the shooting lane. That’s not to say Martin gets a free pass; he jumped to his right when he saw the pass behind the net not realizing that Pastujov was there, so he’s trying to make up ground on Sheehy from the drop. Two tries. Essentially unchecked. Unreal.
Minn 5 Mich 2 PPG 11:25 Assists: Bischoff & Novak
It’s a 5-on-3 kill for Michigan, so we pick up with Minnesota moving the puck around up high. No surprise there. Michigan’s content to allow those D-to-D passes so long as they can clog up the shooting lanes, and they’ve been doing a good job of that.
Bischoff passes back to Sheehy, who then starts skating to the middle of the ice. That’s where things get dicey. Sheehy executes exactly what he sets out to do: get between the two nearest Michigan defenders and use the netfront screen to take away any chance Nagelvoort might have at stopping the shot. Sheehy lifts the puck and hits the corner. I don’t know what to do but shrug. At least the guy in front of the net was being defended.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
#9 Minnesota 4, Michigan 2
Minn 1 Mich 0 PPG 19:57 Assists: Bristedt & Johnson
Michigan has cleared the puck from their zone, forcing Schierhorn to gather and the skaters to regroup in Minnesota’s end of the ice. On the breakout attempt, the puck is hemmed in momentarily along the wall. There are two skaters providing support; Bristedt must decide whether he thinks he can somehow drop the puck back or whether he can force it ahead to the skater near center ice without creating a turnover.
What he does is, frankly, really smart. Bristedt sees Cutler Martin approaching and braces for the coming hit. Knowing this hit is coming also means understanding that Martin’s stick is going to come off the ice, which presents an opportunity to backhand the puck under the aforementioned raised stick to Lettieri.
There is nothing exceptional about this alignment. Lettieri’s defended well and just decides to put the puck on net and see what happens rather than try to skate in further and risk it being swatted away.
This is one that Lavigne has to be kicking himself over. It seems that Lavigne doesn’t expect the puck to be shot to the inside of the defender, and as it catches him by surprise he isn’t able to butterfly fast enough to shut the five hole. You can see the wide split in the screen cap below.
Minn 2 Mich 0 EV 19:17 Assists: Zuhlsdorf & Novak
This whole sequence is bizarre. Michigan’s spending forever in their defensive zone because they can’t buy a clear if they want, and the puck eventually is rimmed around to Lavigne’s left. From there it’s passed to the front of the net, where the prime scoring opportunity is squashed by Cecconi. Novak seems to just be trying to get his stick back on the ice when he chips the puck right to Zuhlsdorf.
Zuhlsdorf has a prime scoring opportunity: to the goaltender’s right off a scrum with no defender turned to face the puck. He completely fans on it and has to skate behind the net to regain possession. He then skates it out to the other side.
Zuhlsdorf passes to Collins, who’s ready for a one-timer. If he hadn’t been, you can see Sheehy to the far left of the frame also begging for a pass, in his case one that would have to be threaded through the crease. Still worth noting since this is a 5v5 opportunity.
Collins gets enough under the shot to lift it to the far-side top corner; it’s a blistering shot, so fast that you can see in the screen cap below that Collins is through his shooting motion as Lavigne’s in the middle stages of reacting.
Minn 3 Mich 0 PS 00:39
Michigan gets the puck stripped trying to enter their offensive zone. The puck bounces out to around center ice, with Lettieri the last guy in the zone and therefore the first to jump on the puck. Kile tries to get back and bearhugs and hooks Lettieri to prevent the clean breakaway.
The result is a Lettieri penalty shot. He skates in and doesn’t do much in the way of stickwork, but one doesn’t have to when their shot is this accurate. He picks a spot—far-side top corner—and hits it. Like, could-split-a-hair hits it.
Lavigne’s glove isn’t up and I drew a double arrow on there because the puck’s on its way out of the net.
Minn 3 Mich 1 EV 08:34 Assists: Warren
Schierhorn goes to play the puck behind his net and fumbles it. He regains control and flings it up the boards, but by this time Warren has sealed himself against the boards and intercepts the puck.
Warren takes a step forward but is met immediately by a defender. Merl was skating from low to high and continues to do so, positioning himself near the boards for a pass from Warren.
Merl one-times it. I haven’t found a conclusive replay angle; the puck either hits the inside of Schierhorn’s leg as he’s sweeping his leg pad back in or just beats him five-hole straight up.
Minn 3 Mich 2 EV 14:22 Assists: De Jong & Cecconi
Michigan wins the draw and the puck goes directly back to Cecconi. He sees a shooting lane and wastes no time taking the shot. It gets through, but Schierhorn stops it.
Not without a rebound, though. The puck bounces out to the area above the faceoff circle to De Jong’s left. He closes on it and gains possession.
De Jong’s already opened up his hips on his slap shot as he reaches the puck, quickly getting the puck to the front of the net. Allen cuts to the front off the draw and he’s rewarded for keeping his stick down and to the side. The puck is redirected, leaving Schierhorn with no chance at it.
Minn 4 Mich 2 EN 19:37 Assists: Bristedt & Kloos
Minnesota wins the draw and, though it takes a diving player to knock the puck ahead, gains possession.
With only one Michigan skater back, a pass that sets up a trip through the middle of the neutral zone is as dangerous as it gets. That’s what happens here, as a Michigan defender closes just as the puck’s passed laterally to Lettieri.
At this point he just has to hope that he can lift the puck enough to avoid it being blocked, and he does that without issue.
Barron got an awesome shot of the outcome.
I don’t know. I don’t think I have anything new to add. I know that’s an admission I probably shouldn’t make but everything that stood out about this series is something I’ve said before. The penalty kill is actually pretty good, at least in terms of challenging puck movement. The goaltending is better than it has been in years. Every skater—it’s not just defensemen—looks lost when attempting to defend at even strength. The offense never really gets going because of the general difficulty passing and lack of speed. Every weekend is like an Apple press conference. Hey, we took this thing that’s basically the same but this time it doesn’t have a headphone jack! And the pictures aren’t perceptibly sharper but trust us, that lens is not the same as the one that’s on the phone you have in your pocket right now. Oh, we made the lens bigger and moved it a little so you’ll have to buy a new case even though the shell and the lens and screen and even the chip that’s purportedly faster all seem exactly like the last one you had. Here we are, back at the well series after series, waiting to see what miniscule detail is different this time around.
If there’s a bit of hope for change on offense it’s that Cooper Marody seems to have shaken most of the rust off and rounded into the form expected of him this season. He had four shot attempts on Friday (one off the team lead) and a team-high six on Saturday. Those attempts were all at even strength, which is all the more important for a team that’s struggled to generate anything when not up a man. Getting Will Lockwood and his 0.72 points per game back could help a bit, especially considering all three goaltenders ability to steal a game.
Any real change has to start with Michigan not taking penalties; to my eye they do a good job getting in lanes and pressuring up high but still gave up 26 PP shot attempts Friday. The Daily’s Orion Sang wrote a great feature about the state of the team and how they seem to be playing in search of a launch-pad series. The coming Michigan State series will tell a great deal; if Michigan is again woefully out-attempted by a team whose Corsi For % is a middling 49.2%, there’s vanishingly little hope that anything more than another camera adjustment or headphone jack adjustment will happen this season.
I recommend reading David’s Friday and Saturday gamers in concert with this, as he’s got you covered in terms of addition period-by-period context. Then, even though you probably already read it, you should take in Brian’s column on the coaching situation and what happens when someone is the program.
mfw the evil Kohl Center vibes kick in [Patrick Barron]
Entering the contest, Michigan’s defense had been on a dreadful run of form, but the Wolverines played an ugly half of basketball to trail 26-21 at the break; Michigan’s offense was completely out of sorts outside of some nice play from Zak Irvin, but they managed to hold Wisconsin well under a point per possession as a Badger offense seemingly too committed to pounding the ball inside didn’t move the ball well. It was the best half of defense Michigan had played in some time.
An extended 17-2 stretch (which was fueled by some great effort defensively) gave Michigan a 38-30 lead in the second half, but a sequence of early fouls put Wisconsin in the bonus early and the Badgers were able to assert themselves on the offensive end – their run to take the lead was keyed by an offensive rebound on a missed free throw that led to a three.
Michigan’s defense gave up 42 points in the second half, though a decent amount of those points came as the Wolverines intentionally fouled to extend the game. Bronson Koenig had some big threes for the Badgers after the game was tied at 49 with five minutes left; Duncan Robinson – who contributed some offensively – left him wide open off an elevator screen on one, and Derrick Waltonwas juked into leaving him open in the corner on another. Moritz Wagner, who dealt with foul trouble in the second half, and the Michigan offense couldn’t respond. DJ Wilson also was limited by fouls and held scoreless after a red-hot start to Big Ten play.
All of the quintessential Kohl Center elements were present: some brick-heavy low-scoring basketball in the first half, some dubious whistles (that resulted in a few make-up calls for Michigan, to be fair) in the second, and an inexorable Wisconsin run late to seize the game and put it out of reach by hitting enough of their free throws – a pair of Nigel Hayes misses notwithstanding – down the stretch.
Michigan’s defense looked much better, despite the talented Badger big man combo of Ethan Happ and Hayes, but ultimately they gave up 1.09 PPP – and their offense wasn’t quite efficient enough to get the win (the Wolverines were just 12-30 from inside the arc). The loss drops them to 2-4 in Big Ten play, though if they can replicate their success on the defensive side of the floor, a turnaround could be in the offing. At the very least, they need to beat an Illinois team – that recently routed them – on Saturday, as they're quickly running out of time.