there would have to be some to wash away
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News bullets and other items:
The team’s goal is to win the Big Ten, but you probably knew that already
The starting quarterback will be determined tomorrow
Some of the criteria for who will start: efficiency, competing, challenging, completions in practice, and leadership
Don’t expect the quarterbacks to platoon
The problems on offense are not the same as last year, as this is a new system
Read the whole thing if you’re into Brady Hoke’s made-up words
“Number one, thanks for coming out. [We] start Big Ten play this week and that's something that we've always fixed on is the Big Ten championship. I think getting started is important. It's a new opportunity. As far as last week we did some good things and didn't do some things as well as we need to and those are things that from a coaching standpoint we always need to do a better job in our coaching of it and in our execution that we need to have. There's some positives and we want to repeat those positives to the guys. Yesterday we did a good job staff-wise in the clarity of the mistakes and fixing those mistakes and [I] like that. Like how they came to work. Like how our team has competed and challenged every time they go out. Like how they've done a nice job with the leadership within the program and how they have gone about the work and I've said that before. Questions?"
Brady, you’ve talked about the leadership that you believe exists in your team. Has that leadership group given you any feedback on how to improve the results of the offense this season?
“No. I don't think that's what they're all about. I think they're all about is how the attitude of the team is and their attitude has been great. I think the way they've gone about and treated each other has been great and we just need to keep that up and keep working hard.”
Brady, you guys reviewed the tape. Do you guys know who your quarterback is today?
“No. We will make a decision tomorrow.”
What did you guys do yesterday? Did you split reps or…
“We'll make a decision tomorrow.”
After watching film how did Devin look and how did Shane look?
“Well, I think they both had some really good things and then they did some things not so good. I think if you're looking for was there one guy who played better than the other no, I don't think so. I think they both know what they need to do better and they will, and I think they both competed and made some good decisions also.”
Brady, not necessarily just about the quarterback but partly about that: 2-2 start and the offense has looked not good. How do you stay the course? How do you not make some major shuffling right now?
“Well, I'm not saying we’re not, right? Tuesday we'll make some decisions. Or we'll let you know the decisions, let's put it that way.”
I mean, could it be beyond quarterback and [include] other personnel?
“I think you look at everybody. You look internally and then you look at everybody and see what combination of whoever in that starting 11 give you the best chance to win. Maybe it's a different personnel group. Maybe it's more two tight ends, three tight ends. You know, as Jake [Butt] gets healthier he'll be more a part of the offense but we'll see how that goes.”
[After THE JUMP: special teams issues, offensive issues, quarterback issues, other issue-y issues]
Brady, just to hop on that a little bit have you had any type of discussion with Darrell Funk and Doug Nussmeier as far as the offensive line? Are you guys really looking hard at that as far as changing personnel, making changes?
“No, not there. Have I had discussions with all of them? Yeah, that's what we do all Sunday until about 11 o'clock last night.”
But nothing specific, [like] ‘We need to swap this guy for this guy’?
What are the criteria you’re using for the QB decision?
“Efficiency. That's part of it. We talk, and you've heard it way too many times and you're going to keep hearing it, about competing and challenging. Who comes out of the week with the best practices and who gives us the best chance to go in and win the football game.”
Specifically, are you charting the number of yards in practice or completions or…
“Well, it's more completions and then there's the leadership end of it to. Who commands the offense and they both have done a really good job all year with that. I don't expect any of that to change from that standpoint.”
Is a platoon a possibility?
“I think we'd rather not. That's not been in our discussions.”
Coach, in terms of punting Will’s obviously hit the ball a lot better than he has maybe in recent days. Has anything been identified there in terms of his mechanics, and the second part of that is are there safeguards from the sidelines? I know you’ve got a couple of guys on the field counting the number of guys out there on the punt but are there safeguards from the sidelines in case they miss?
“Yeah, let's take that first because that's on me. The miscommunication or whatever happened there, that's got to be on me and do we need to count? Yes. We need to count and we need to count on the field and off the field so yes. Will has struggled a little bit. He's a better punter than what he has shown. He had two snaps that he had to go down for. He had one pooch kick that was perfect that Jehu downed at the 2 yard line but we've got to do a better job placement of the ball and we've got to do a better job with our hang time.”
Brady, your team is 10-for-10 in the red zone but didn’t get a chance to make it to the red zone against Utah and Notre Dame…
“Right. That's a problem.”
Where is the breakdown? What do you have to do to rectify that?
“Well, I think we never had a rhythm. We come out with 12 plays, have a great drive, defense does it's job, we kick a field goal, we get points. Come out the next drive and on first and 10 we get a holding that makes it first and 20. Later in the game we have a procedure penalty, okay? I think we had eight negative plays total. Four of them were sacks, two of them were penalties, and two of them were tackles for loss on runs and anytime you get a negative like that, that's not – you get yourself out of the sticks a little bit. We were 9 of 19 on third downs. Look at third and 12-plus, we are not near as good as we are third and 6 to 8 so not hurting yourself and having a rhythm in your offense that you need to continue with and those are things that we work on, they’re working on, they’re mindful of and they’re competing with it every day.”
What do you do to establish rhythm?
“You get first downs. You move the chains. You don't take penalties. You don't have turnovers.”
Brady, I don’t know if you every get a chance to step back and look at the big picture of things because you’re so focused on the here-and-now, but from the outside it certainly appears like the program is in a bit of a crisis state right now at 2-2. Do you feel that at all and does that affect some decisions you make now?
“No. It won't affect the course that we want to go. I can tell you that. This whole getting into coaching and coaching for those 115 kids and the mentorship and the things we want to do to help kids, that's where it starts. The frustration level people may have, don't think those kids have the same frustration. Don't think that's part of it. But what they do have is they have a great believe in each other. They have a great belief in the program. They come out and compete and challenge each other every day and this will be a good football team.”
Do you personally feel like it’s at a bit of a crisis state?
Did you think you’d be further along in your fifth year- in your fourth year, sorry, than where your program is?
“Well, I don't know. I never judge anything like that. Who thought we'd go to the Sugar Bowl in the first year? Did you?”
“No. And the point is we’re building a program with a great foundation and that's important from the academic side to the athletic side. That is important, the foundation that we have. We’re a little older on defense, right? We've got some older guys who have played a lot of football. On offense we've got one scholarship senior starting on the offense, and if he wasn’t the starter then we’d have two guys, two juniors and everybody else is a redshirt freshman or a sophomore.”
In the eight losses in the last twelve games, in seven of those losses you guys have trailed at halftime by like a combined fifty-some odd points. Is there anything that you’ve kind of noted or seen in terms of being able to start faster or jump out to better first half performances?
“Yeah, you always want to start fast. They started fast Saturday. Did they put it in the end zone? No. Did we put it in the end zone? No, we didn’t and obviously that’s the goal. Rachel brought up the red zone. Agree 100%. We’re good in the red zone, but we’ve got to get there.”
Coach, talk about the run defense through four games and how confident you are that’s going to be able to slow Minnesota. That’s one of their strengths.
“Yeah, that is a great strength for them and that’s going to be a heck of a challenge. I think from the run defense side of it [we] gave up 2.2 yards per rush the other day, 168 yards total in the last three football games, which hasn’t been done since 2006. I think the physicalness, you know, Willie Henry makes a great play on a pass play but he makes five other great plays just taking on blocks and being somebody that’s hard to move out of there and Ryan Glasgow the same. I think the front seven’s been playing well. I think the two linebackers are very active. I think Jake [Ryan] has a knack for making football plays and it’s called instinct and so the front seven’s been good. I thought Jourdan Lewis and Blake Countess- talk about two guys who tackled guys and that’s what you want from corners, especially on five-yard stops. Get them on the ground [and] play the next play.”
The tempo of the offense has been comparatively slower. Is that where you want it to be, and do you have a set number of plays that you go into a game thinking this is how many plays we want?
“No, we don’t do that. We’re not, as you know, trying to get 80 plays or 90 plays. That’s not us. We want efficiency in what we’re doing. We want to move the sticks. Time of possession is way overrated to some degree, okay? To some degree, but our biggest problem right now is that we need to take care of the football. You talk about rhythm, you talk about those kind of things, penalties and not taking care of the football, that will throw your rhythm off as an offense.”
Brady, you said earlier this will be a good football team. Why do you say that?
“Because I know how hard they work and what they do every day. I know that they believe.”
And when will this be a good football team?
“Saturday. I think we need it to be a good football team [Saturday}, don’t you?
I would assume, yeah.
Brady, you talked on Saturday night about the little things adding up and the pattern of all those little things developing. Do you have to change the way you address those little things to try to avoid that-
“I don’t know what you mean by developing. We out-yardaged Utah and all that kind of stuff. They didn’t have any running [game]. I think there are little things every week. It could be one guy not targeting the defensive end well enough. That’s a little thing that we’ve got to do a better job of. Either us from a coaching standpoint or a techniques and fundamentals standpoint.”
So I guess the question was do you change the way that you coach those things or you address those things, the small problems?
“Yeah, I think you’re always coaching the technique and fundamentals. I don’t think it’s ever- no one’s ever played a perfect game with those techniques and fundamentals. I think you always continue to stress those things, emphasize those things so I think we’re doing that.”
As the noise about the future of the program and the state of the program heightens outside the locker room, how do you keep players from getting too much pressure from that or from hearing that kind of noise?
“Well, obviously with social media and everything else, and bloggers and things like that it’s out there, but it’s what you choose in what you believe. And we’ve got great belief in our locker room.”
What do you think the mentality of Devin Gardner’s going to be like? The whole season you’ve said it’s his team, now it’s apparently up for grabs. How is he going to handle that?
“He’s a leader, and leadership is hard at times but he’ll handle it like a leader does, whatever happens. He’s as resilient as any young man you could be around because of what people put out there.”
Brady, there’s a lot to improve but as far as can you guys at least hang your hat on knowing that the defense is stopping the run well? The defense has shown some promise there. Is that something at least you guys can have positive takeaways-
“Yeah, but it’s not good enough. You know, if they don’t score they can’t win. I learned that a long time ago, so we’ve got to play better defense so they don’t score.”
Does it make you more comfortable at least knowing you can rely on your defense to an extent?
“I don’t know if you every have a comfort. I’m very optimistic and positive about both sides of the ball.”
Wondering how involved you are in the offense maybe before Utah and if you’re getting more involved now after some struggles.
“I meet with Doug twice a week. We go over the plan. I’ll be with him at 10:30 tonight for an hour talking about what we want to do and how we want to do it. I’ll do the same thing later in the week. Once on Tuesday, once on Wednesday and on Thursday. So I’m going to be doing the same thing I’ve been doing. He’s a heck of a football coach. He’s a damn good football coach.”
Brady, Doug has come in the last couple of weeks saying that Shane has had very good practices. Do you feel comfortable where he is? He’s only started one game, obviously the bowl game. Do you feel comfortable with where he is?
“I think Shane had a real good fall camp and I think it’s continued. When I sit up here and say there’s competition, there truly has been competition the whole time and yeah, do we feel comfortable? Do we feel confident? No question about it.”
Would there be any consideration for Doug moving up to the press box or do you like him on the field?
“I like him on the field. I think the way he coaches and the hands-onness that he has- he gets good information. If he didn’t get good information up there from the guys who are on there I’d probably say, ‘Hey Doug, you need to get up there so you can see it.’ But I think with what he has done- [it] has been really positive to the growth of this program.”
In terms of Devin’s struggles, when you go through the tape do you see more mechanical problems? Do you see more decision-making problems?
“It’s all not him, number one. There was tipped balls in both games, the last two, that- one from a defensive perspective, one from an offensive perspective. Maybe if we get two hands on it it’s not tipped. There’s different things. There’s different things. Guys getting pushed back into him a little bit. Not very often, but it’s happened, so the ball doesn’t come off right. Has he made perfect decisions? No, and he wants to, and he will.
At any point with some of the struggles do you feel like he’s trying to do too much? That’s been the conversation with him for a long time.
“I think it’s much better. I really do. I think that part of it is better.”
Can you talk about how the guys in the back are making checks and how well they’re doing in the absence of Jarrod Wilson?
“I think you would have to believe that based on the last two weeks they’re doing a nice job. I think based off of watching the tape and looking at grades and seeing their efficiency, very happy with how Blake has gone about his business. Jourdan, obviously. Jeremy Clark’s made some plays and having Delano is important and hopefully Jarrod sometime, we’ll see.”
[Inaudible, but I think it was about communication in the secondary]
“Yeah, I don’t think we had any issues back there. I know we didn’t have any issues.”
In your mind are the issues on offense the same as they were, say, last November or are they different, and is that frustrating if they are the same?
“They’re not the same at all. They’re not the same for the simple fact that it’s a new system. Everything’s a little bit new to it but I don’t see it being the same.”
Is it a fundamental issue? You’ve mentioned play-killers, holding-
“I didn’t mention play-killers.”
Well, I mean, if a guy holds and a drive gets knocked off kilter-
“I think we’re third in the country or seventh in the country in penalties. In a good way.”
So you like the discipline?
“Yeah, I think we’ve been pretty good. Sometimes you’re going to hold a guy, and you could probably call a hold on every play.”
this is a very solid beard here [Bryan Fuller]
Makin' everyone jealous of Ace! Talking about how this team is so much less than the sum of its yards, and trying to move on.
Gardner's worst day probably ever, Funchess getting spooked, OL play bad, sad tempo ghost of Ann Arbor.
Actually pretty great!
We are trying to get Jamie to think Indianapolis. He's coming around!
"Across 110th Street"
"Decoration Day," Jason Isbell (off his live album FWIW)
"Black Diamond Express To Hell Pt. I," Rev AW Nix (off "Goodbye, Babylon")
"Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes," Modest Mouse
THE USUAL LINKS
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
Commit Updates: Look, Ma. No Tee.
2015 Michigan commit Andrew David connected on a 58-yard field goal over the weekend, breaking the school record for Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington in doing so. I'm told that's quite a long way for a high schooler to kick a football accurately, let alone from off the ground instead of a tee. I'm sure there won't be any jokes about trying to sneak this kid onto the team this week. Nope. None at all.
Steve Lorenz has your free wrapup of the rest of Michigan's commits in action over the weekend. Some highlights:
- Alex Malzone finished 13-for-20 for 201 yards and three TDs in a dramatic 28-21 Brother Rice win over Warren De La Salle (Shane Morris' former school). Dave and I were at Wayne State for the game, and I'll have a full breakdown of the tape tomorrow.
- Chris Clark finally began his senior season and did so in style with 14 catches for 165 yards and a TD. Highlights from the game are on his Hudl page.
- Darian Roseboro had seven tackles as a defensive lineman. Oh, and 186 yards and four TDs as a jumbo running back. Sadly, no highlights of this yet.
After dispatching De La Salle on Friday, Malzone attended Saturday's game along with fellow commits Brian Cole, Jon Runyan Jr., and Mike Weber, and according to TomVH he's "confident" that group—and the other commits—will stick with Michigan. At least one anonymous uncommitted target, on the other hand, is reevaluating his stance on the Wolverines after Saturday's debacle ($):
One prospect who has been hearing from Michigan said the season has impacted how he feels about the Wolverines. He has had second thoughts about his interest, not just because of the wins and losses, but because of what he has seen on the field.
Of note: Tom mentioned specifically that 2015 five-star WDE Keisean Lucier-South and 2016 four-star OT Ben Bredeson haven't changed their opinion of U-M, though KLS attached a disconcerting "yet" to his statement.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on a pair of 2015 targets, Brian Cole's early enrollment plans, yet another school interested in flipping Chris Clark, and more.]
2015 Updates: Jalen Bates, Asmar Bilal
The prospect who's been considered Michigan's backup plan should they miss out on Lucier-South, three-star LA DE Jalen Bates, is announcing his decision on Friday, per Scout's BJ Thompson ($):
"Yes sir, my plan is to announce my decision Friday for homecoming," Bates stated. "We get out of school early for the homecoming parade around 1pm. After the parade, I plan to make my announcement in our high school gym with the final school's hats, ESPN style. I will have three hats for sure, maybe another; Arizona State, Mississippi State and [Louisiana-Lafayette]."
Gonna go out on a limb and assume he's not going to Michigan.
The Wolverines will have a little more time, on the other hand, to convince four-star OLB Asmar Bilal to choose Michigan over Notre Dame, per Scout's Anna Hickey ($):
"Yeah, I've been thinking about that Stanford vs. Notre Dame game," Bilal said. "I'm just going to see if I'm available. I just really want to go out to both colleges and see a game for each. I'm still looking for that (Michigan) game I'll attend."
For Bilal, who once considered making a decision before the start of his senior year, now deems it necessary to experience each college in person one more time.
"I won't make a decision until I've seem them both (again)," Bilal said.
Optimism here mostly resides on the Notre Dame end of things, as you'd probably expect.
Brian Cole received his Under Armour All-American jersey last week, and it gave The Wolverine's Brandon Brown a chance to talk with Cole's father about the four-star athlete's decision to enroll early at Michigan ($):
"It's exciting, it's a good opportunity for him and it was all his decision," Cole Sr. explained. "I told him, 'You only go to high school once, you really have to be sure because you can't get that time back.' We made sure that he was sure first of all.
"As long as he was fine with it and he was willing to give up the other part of his senior year, we supported him and said, 'We are with you, we'll support whatever you want to do.' His mom and I checked with him a lot to make sure it was what he really wanted to do, but it was a personal decision for him."
Sounds like he's firm in his commitment. Meanwhile, we'll see about Chris Clark, who hasn't made any plans after mentioning the possibility of taking an official visit to another school a few weeks back; he's now receiving overtures from Notre Dame, per Lorenz ($).
Michigan is one of four schools that have stood out to 2016 four-star OT Clark Yarborough for making him "an early priority," per 247's Ryan Bartow ($). Yarborough visited Ann Arbor twice over the summer and plans to return for the Penn State game.
Well, that was the fun part. At least ESPN tried to give Willie Henry double points for the FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN*, which should definitely be a real thing.
*widespread internet meme for any TD by a guy over ~250 pounds, so please don't rip me limb from limb, Mr. Henry, sir.
[After THE JUMP, the state of the program in GIF form, essentially.]
No honorable mentions, ranked list, or voting this week, because I really wanted to enjoy something about my Sunday. (Thank you, Lions, of all things.) Click the stills to open each GIF in a lightbox.
I'M SINCERELY SORRY, RYAN GLASGOW, THAT THIS SO EFFECTIVELY ENCAPSULATES THE STATE OF THE PROGRAM, AS YOU ARE QUITE GOOD AND SO IS THE DEFENSE
But, yeah, a nose tackle trying and failing to tackle a guy in space because he's lost both his shoes is pretty much the living metaphor for Michigan trying and failing to beat good teams while hamstrung with a coach who doesn't seem to understand the concept of putting his players in a position to succeed. The only reason this isn't 100% perfect is because it's happening to the defense instead of the offense.
EVERYTHING IS FINE
Yes, granted, it's nice to see a little fire on the sideline these days. The above is still not indicative of a football program heading in the right direction.
EVERYTHING IS A METAPHOR
DO YOU GET IT WE'RE SAD AND THERE'S RAIN AND YEAH YOU PROBABLY GET IT.
THE BALL WAS SNAPPED WITHIN ONE MINUTE OF THIS MINOR FIELD SURGERY BUT WE'RE DEFINITELY LOOKING OUT FOR THE PLAYERS' BEST INTERESTS, EVERYONE
GREAT BAND PRACTICE, THOUGH
"The acoustics have really improved tonight! Thanks, Dave!"
Bonus ghostly facepalm that ESPN infuriatingly faded away from in a fashion that made it impossible to GIF:
Yeah, I think I'm done here.
9/20/2014 – Michigan 10, Utah 26 – 2-2
[GIF via Ace]
We have a grainy screenshot that symbolizes the demise of the Carr era. It's a zone stretch against Ohio State on which every Buckeye has slashed through the Michigan line.
Michigan would trundle to fewer than 100 yards of total offense. Chad Henne's shoulder was separated and he was still the best available option because the only other was a freshman version of Ryan Mallett who fumbled 20% of the under-center snaps he took and got in screaming matches on the sideline. That's because the quarterbacks recruited after Chad Henne were Jason Forcier and David Cone.
By the time that Ohio State game rolled around Michigan had desperately talked Alex Mitchell out of retirement so they could start him. In that context that shot is barely surprising. And then Carr went out and beat Tim Tebow, because nobody got off the mat like Lloyd Carr.
We have just received the grainy screenshot that will symbolize the demise of the Hoke era.
As you've no doubt screamed into a pillow about already, there are ten men on the field as Utah returns a punt for a touchdown. I'm not sure that even matters since two of them are within 30 yards of the guy when he catches the ball.
This site has been complaining about the punting since Hoke's hire, and it has cost Michigan dearly in two losses—Ace Sanders also returned a punt for a touchdown in South Carolina's last-gasp Outback win—and seen Michigan dawdle at the bottom of punt return yards ceded the last two years.
Worse than the yards given up has been Brady Hoke's approach when challenged about it. Never has he given a justification that's even remotely plausible. Once he said he wasn't comfortable with it. At the time I said this was a crappy answer, and it remains a crappy answer:
MGoFollowup: What’s your opinion of the spread punt formation vs. the traditional punt formation?
“Uh, we don’t use it.”
MGoFollowup: Is there a rationale for that?
“I think, you know … I’m more comfortable with what we use. That’s the rationale.”
When pressed a couple weeks ago he said "I don't want to talk about it."
As we get more data about Brady Hoke's tenure that seems less like an isolated crappy answer than the whole damn thing. Anybody with a spreadsheet and an ability to tell up from down could have put compelling evidence of the spread punt's efficacy in front of Hoke's face. Maybe they did.
It wouldn't have mattered. Brady Hoke isn't defending it, so you can't argue back. "We don't do it because we don't do it" is an unassailable position. It is not a rationale.
So it goes. Michigan has settled into a pattern of doing nonsense things, from everything on offense last year to the punting to their continuing, shocking inability to go faster than a waddle. That stat from last week about how Michigan was faster than only Army amongst D-I teams is astounding. Michigan had spent an entire half down three scores, and their tempo was still nationally worst. These things all come from the head coach.
When Michigan goes down by ten, it's over. Lloyd Carr isn't walking through that door. You want to talk leadership and toughness? Leadership turns a mob into an army. And Michigan is no army.
The worst thing is I don't really feel that bad. My main problem at the moment is the fact that I have to write this column, and then somehow eight more, and analyze a team that is unlikely to go anywhere and talk about a coach who is 95% dead man walking. I bet you can't wait for "Yup, Almost Certainly Still Fired: Episode VI". Here is the otter.
HENRI THE OTTER OF ENNUI: this does not break the record for earliest appearance
I fired off some hot takes in the stands, as did large numbers of the people around me, but once I was out of the stadium it was like "okay, now I can go do something else."
I even watched football after! A Michigan loss is supposed to be a weekend-ruining event that makes the idea of watching more football an impossibility. Now it's not a big deal, possibly because I don't recognize whatever Michigan is doing as football. I cannot be reminded of Michigan when turning on Clemson-FSU because Clemson and FSU aren't playing sludgefart.
I know this isn't an aging and maturing thing because 1) obviously and 2) I almost died just a few months ago when Kentucky hit that three-pointer. There's just nothing there to care about. So you show up, and you shrug, and you get annoyed, and then you go home. Sometimes you get wet. Meh.
It was appropriate that Hoke's downfall came amidst a biblical deluge. The Hoke era started with one against Western Michigan. The game was over when the lightning came, but I stayed. A bunch of students did, too, roaring and chanting. When the game was over the stadium was still half-full.
There was no thought of that Saturday. Everyone except the players' parents, Utah fans, and the clinically insane cleared out as soon as the stoppage was announced. Maybe half of them had already exited before the lightning hit.
When Michigan returned to play in front of the obligated and deranged, it looked like the future had finally been created.
Take the cosmic hint.
When Can We Fire This Guy Section
There is still a small (very small) chance that Michigan pulls its collective head from its collective rear and gets to 9-3, at which point a transition is probably not happening. Anything short of that and it's goodbye. Hoke is at the point where you extend or fire him and you can't extend a guy who went 8-4 in the worst Big Ten ever, presumably went 0-3 against major rivals, had at least two humiliating blowouts starring coaching incompetence.
But please don't bring up a midseason canning. Those are reserved for severe breakdowns of authority. Most importantly, firing Hoke now erases any chance there's a new athletic director by the time Michigan embarks on a coaching search.
John Beilein Being Good At Coaching Points Of The Week.
#1 Jourdan Lewis had an outstanding game, chasing things down that other people screwed up and hunting Utah wide receivers like they were weakened alpacas.
#2 Willie Henry scored Michigan's only touchdown and was part of a forceful Michigan defensive line.
#3 Devin Funchess powered through an obvious injury to bring in a number of spectacular catches and would have had an even more impactful game if Gardner was not having one of the worst games of his career.
Honorable mention: Ryan Glasgow, Frank Clark, Brennen Beyer.
Epic Double Point Standings.
7: Devin Funchess (#1, APP, #1 ND, #3 UT)
5: Jourdan Lewis (#2 MIA, #1 UT)
4: Willie Henry(#2 ND, #2 UT)
3: Derrick Green(#1 MIA)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP)
1: Ryan Glasgow (#3, ND), Brennen Beyer(#3 MIA)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)
Trey Burke Against Kansas Of The Week.
For the single individual best moment.
FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN
mr henry this is an internet meme it's not my fault please don't destroy me [Fuller]
For all the good it did. ESPN briefly gave Michigan 12 points they were so astounded, which should be the FAT GUY TD rule.
Honorable mention: Nope!
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.
MIA: Derrick Green scores a goal line touchdown without being so much as touched.
Utah: Willie Henry FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
Worst. Event. Ever. This Week.
Miami takes back a punt 66 yards after Michigan obliges with a line drive punt and two gunners. Oh, and they only put ten guys on the field.
Honorable mention: Interceptions. Fumbles. Hellacious rain. Everything.
AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.
ND: Countess nowhere to be found on fourth and three.
Miami: You did what to Funchess now when?
Utah: lol ask Brady about punt formations again
[After the JUMP: woo! naw just kiddin'.]
Thing you'll remember not very fondly about the Hoke Era #1: Quarterback handling. Denard Robinson regressed. Devin Gardner appears to be regressing. Their random guess at a quarterback their first year turned out to be a bad idea, and then they skipped a quarterback the next year. Shane Morris is still just a sophomore but early returns are alarming, and he's not a redshirt freshman because of the baffling decision to not take a QB the year before him.
The most important position on the field was fobbed off to a guy with a negative track record, who proceeded to do what his track record always said he would.
Thing you'll remember not very fondly about the Hoke Era #2: "trying" to come back into a game by huddling with ten minutes left. Michigan literally huddled with ten minutes left down 16 points, twice in a row. On plays where they did not huddle, Morris was still snapping the ball with 8 or 10 seconds on the playclock. Tempo has always been a disaster under Hoke, and always will be. This goes well beyond run of the mill dinosaur ball into Ferentz-level clock atrocity.
But they can sneak it now. Wave your tiny flags.
Thing you'll remember not very fondly about the Hoke Era #3: the f-ing punting. But I already addressed that and this is the offense section.
Thing you'll remember not very fondly about the Hoke Era #4: allergy to sense. Michigan kept checking whether Denard Robinson was a pro-style quarterback, found out the answer was still GOD NO WHY EVEN ASK THIS, and then resumed grudgingly deploying him on the ground for ludicrous efficiency. Presented with even the vaguest semblance of a pro-style guy they have just about completely excised the idea of a quarterback run. When they have Devin Gardner.
juuuuuust a bit outside [Fuller]
No defense this time. Gardner was terrible. This throw to Funchess got criticized because he was "triple covered" but the play was there to be made; Funchess caught a ball way behind him only to see a defensive back a couple yards out of position rake it out. That was typical. Gardner missed, and kept missing, and continued to miss.
Sometimes he made bad decisions, like on the interception that sealed his benching. Mostly was just missing his guys. I know that some folks on twitter and Spielman took shots at Funchess on the slant interception that he tried to grab with one hand, but even if you think his effort there was substandard the fact remains that a slant was well outside of the comfortable catching radius of the biggest wide receiver in the country. A slant. That is a simple throw to put on the guy's numbers and it was botched.
Ace and Nick Baumgardner have both suggested that he was so short and wobbly with his throws that they wouldn't be surprised if Gardner was hurt in some way. I'll have to take a look myself. In the absence of evidence that will not be forthcoming the obvious conclusion is that Gardner just sucked. I don't know man. You expect people to progress, and they certainly do on the defensive line. Other places not so much. The Peter Principle is real.
Not the answer. Shane Morris came in and looked like a true sophomore who missed his senior year of high school and spent his freshman year getting anti-coaching. He is not the answer right now; he's going to have to be next year but one of the reasons we have been downplaying the idea that Morris would replace Gardner is that he is even more turnover-prone. He's your only backup QB who's even vaguely viable this year. Good planning.
Offensive line: a step back. This game felt a lot different than the Notre Dame game, where holes were there to be had. In this one it seemed like there was a winged helmet chasing a Ute back to the backs or QB, and that when Michigan was getting pounded at the line it was because there wasn't anything there.
WELP. They had one bad drive to start the second half and were otherwise somewhere between great and very good, again holding an opponent under 300 yards only to end up on the wrong side of a blowout.
You could argue that the defensive performance in the Notre Dame game was deceptive because the game got out of hand by halftime; that is not an argument you can apply here. The defense gave up a net 12 points, and three of those came on a 14-yard drive. That is an outstanding performance.
Hello Mr. Lewis. Jourdan Lewis had a breakout game, tracking down the Utah screen that was the large bulk of their first-half production and single-handedly saving four points. He was over the top of all attempted fade routes even though he was going up against a couple of good wideouts, and he had a couple of pass breakups. It was a statement outing. He should be a starter until that proves to be a mirage, if in fact it ever does.
Glasgow jammin' things up real good [Fuller]
Ryan Glasgow's probably just good. Utah returned their lead back, QB, and three OL from a high-quality rushing offense that averaged 5 yards an attempt last year; Michigan held them to 3.3 even after you remove sacks. This is a team effort of course but it all starts with the nose tackle and there is a reason Glasgow is fending off all challengers.
Safety issues. Michigan's sole touchdown ceded came on a mesh route on which no one was particularly close to Utah's best receiver. That felt like a safety issue with the corners bailing deep, and Michigan was down to Jeremy Clark and Dymonte Thomas at that point—the only scholarship safeties on the roster. Thomas has supposedly been erratic in practice and I wonder if forcing him into action was the cause of some of those problems.
But yes also factor that in to the defensive performance: Michigan is down their best safety while giving up 12 net points.
Ross reclaims his job. Have to wonder what the coaching staff saw in Royce Jenkins-Stone that caused them to make a switch at the SAM spot; RJS blew a couple plays against Miami in his first extended playing time and Ross made a couple against Utah.
They were a little fortunate. Michigan got RPSed hard on the above wheel route that featured Mario Ojemudia making a valiant but futile attempt to cover a 30-yard wheel route. The ball would zip through the receivers' hands. That'll happen.
SIDE NOTE: check the attendance in the upper section above. There's another three sections to the left of your picture that were similarly empty.
Worst-est: This is Michigan Football
For Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, this is the perfect embodiment of football. No, not the losses, but that's secondary. To both of them, this brand of Michigan football is a perverse homage to a bygone era in football when men were men and you won because of grit and heart and having institutional advantages over smaller programs due to years of recruiting tactics, demographics, and inertia. It's stupid punting formations, always huddling without any sense of urgency, the 100k attendance record, and wringing every last possible dollar out of a fanbase that for decades was all too happy to do so if you stroked its ego and won 8 or more games a year. The Michigan that we all see on the field isn't what most of us want, but it's what the hive mind in Schembechler Hall thinks is good for business in Ann Arbor, and so nobody with the power to change it wants to right the boat. And that's a f'ing tragedy, because the lights are going out and Jack ain't coming to put UM on a door until the rescue party arrives.
Michigan isn't what it was, and "what it was" was never how a certain subset of the fanbase, including apparently this administration, remembers it. I know it is blasphemy to question the "fabled" history of UM football, but since the 1940s Michigan has been the definition of a high-level "plugger", the type of team that won games by showing up and beating the teams they should and losing to the teams they should by following a simple script. And yet as the game kept changing, Michigan remained its anachronistic self, buffered somewhat by this conference's stupidity-sealed bubble that talks about competing nationally while the University of Kentucky out-recruits everyone not named Michigan, OSU, or Nebraska and hiring every mediocre MAC coach with a pulse while the rest of college football laughs and points.
Inside The Box Score relates things a nine year old said during the game:
"That doesn't help at all."
* Referring to Nussmeier's decision to run the ball on 2nd and 22. The play gained zero yards. BRING BACK BORGES! (/ducks for cover.)
"Another huddle? Really?"
* Seriously, my son actually said that. I don't think he reads MGoBlog, and I hadn't said anything about tempo or huddling. So if a 9-year old can watch Utah succeeding with pace, watch Michigan plodding along, and gets exasperated at the huddling, why can't Brady figure this out?
jhackney has a column as well:
Tonight, The Utes brought a thorough spiritual cleansing to Ann Arbor in unusual style.
Instead of arid air or peep stones, They brought a torrential downpour that cleaned out the already depopulated Big House and a long moment of clarity for Michigan, its coaches, and fans. Shortly after Hoke and Mattison got done arguing over who executed getting off the field least, the team was in the locker room for over an hour to sit there and realized that they were down 16 points to a vastly mediocre team.
Need a pick-me-up?
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 22, 2014
HSR on the Mandate of Heaven:
I think it's very hard to see positives in a loss when you're soaking wet. It's even harder when you misplace your keys for 45 minutes in the Liberty Square parking structure*. But, at some point, when in the cold and the wet, you realize that the team you love is in a treadmill of despair and ineptitude, and what's worse, you don't see a way out.
The graphic above is a simplified version of the dynastic cycle as understood in ancient China. When you teach World History, you become very familiar with imperial decline. Football empires are not that different. You change a few words in that graphic, and well, it's very clear that it can apply to college football programs as well.
Devin Funchess – There is an old Canadian Hockey saying about getting or giving a “Hotel Dieu Pass” to or from one of your teammates. That means your inaccurate pass caused one of your teammates to get laid out and lit up, to the point where they have to be taken off on a stretcher and taken to the local hospital. (Hotel Dieu is a common Canadian Hospital name.)
What that pass did, aside from Funchess taking a wicked shot, was jack up Utah even more. When you get a freebie to lay out one of the stars from the other team, you have just incited the feeding-frenzy to begin. So while it was just one incomplete pass, it was MUCH more than that. It was Utah’s cue to come after Michigan for more. I commend Funchess for staying in the game and making two huge catches after that hit. Devin Gardner, you owe Funchess a dinner, and an apology.
Compare and contrast Nebraska enthusiasm to Michigan.
— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) September 21, 2014
Kickoff at Michigan:
Those are not students above the concourse, those are the ex-student tickets that Brandon is trying to sell for any price.
The saddest thing on Saturday wasn’t anything that happened on the field. It was the Michigan sideline. I didn’t mind Hoke and Mattison going at it. I was glad to see them both fired up. But the players on the sideline all looked like they just wanted to go home. They looked like they’d quit. Then the rain came and 100,000-ish quit. In the end, some say the band played their full postgame show in an empty stadium, but nobody knows for sure.
It wasn’t that long ago that the chance of getting struck by lightning while watching Michigan football seemed, well, fair enough. Lately, it isn’t worth the risk.
Are injuries a problem? I feel like injuries are a problem. I know every team goes through injuries, but it seems that Michigan's star player(s) get hurt every year. Devin Funchess got hurt in the second game and was still limping around in this one with an ankle injury that may linger for a while. Starting tight end Jake Butt is playing less than the ideal number of snaps because of his ACL recovery. Jabrill Peppers got hurt in week one, missed the Notre Dame game, and seemed to disappear for a stretch this game. Starting cornerback Raymon Taylor got hurt against the Fighting Irish and has yet to return. Both guys who were presumed to start at safety - Jarrod Wilson and Delano Hill - have missed extended time due to injuries. "Starting" linebacker Desmond Morgan has missed the last couple games, too. I would not say that the Wolverines have been devastated by injuries, but they aren't at full speed, either.
There stood Brady Hoke, his arms folded and nearly 10 yards away from defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. They both looked away as if they were high school students who wanted nothing to do with each other.
The Michigan head coach had pulled Mattison back before he yelled, “get off the f-----g field” and the pair argued with each other.
He called it a “discussion,” but that’s probably not what having dinner looks like.
Numbers: Michigan now 4-8 in last 12 games, outscored by 50 points in first half of 8 losses