Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt)
Rankings via the 247 Composite
The Big Ten doesn’t have any elite one-and-done candidates coming in this year; there aren’t any surefire lottery picks among these freshmen. Still, the collective 2014 recruiting class is very deep: seven players in the top 50, 12 in the top 100, 24 in the top 200. Certain teams—particularly Ohio State, Maryland, Indiana, and yes, Michigan—will need immediate impacts from their incoming freshmen, and several transfers (which will be covered after the freshmen) will be counted on for immediate production. Talent in college basketball oscillates dramatically from year to year, as talented players often defect for the NBA at the first available opportunity, small rosters experience a high percentage of yearly turnover, and incoming freshmen are often ready to contribute meaningful minutes. The Big Ten lost a lot of top-notch talent this offseason, but there likely will be some stars in this crop of newcomers.
It’s easy for Thad Matta to get lost in the shuffle amongst the collection of stellar coaches in the Big Ten, but he’s simply phenomenal (even notwithstanding last year’s backslide): few coaches have a comparable coaching tree—the Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens, Arizona’s Sean Miller, and Illinois’s John Groce headline—few can recruit as well as Matta does on a consistent basis, and few coach defense as well as he does. With the departures of Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, and LaQuinton Ross, Matta needed to win some major recruiting battles and unsurprisingly, he finished with the best class in the conference. Because of the influx of promising blue-chip talent (and incoming Temple transfer, Anthony Lee) and the existing nucleus of solid defensive players—Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams all fit nicely into Matta’s tenacious man-to-man scheme—Ohio State is projected by many to finish second in the conference behind Wisconsin. It’s a hard-to-predict team with a high floor and a low ceiling, but they do look pretty great on paper.
D’Angelo Russell is the most well-regarded incoming recruit in the league and he should start next to Scott right away in the backcourt. Like Ross and Deshaun Thomas before him, Russell will likely be tasked with being Ohio State’s primary offensive weapon. Between his excellent shooting ability, all-around scoring potential, and his frame and athleticism, Russell is a prototypical two-guard. He doesn’t have elite, NBA-ready physical tools, but OSU could do a lot worse than turning to Russell in hopes of resuscitating a staid offense that finished 128th nationally last season.
Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate (both former Michigan targets) sort of overlap, but they play with distinctly different styles. KBD and Tate are combo forwards; either can probably play the three or the four—KBD is a skilled and very long stretch-four who can slide to the three; Tate is too small to play the four right now, but his maximum upside probably comes as a ferocious rebounder and inside-out scorer as an undersized four. KBD’s best known for his scoring, Tate’s best known for his rebounding ability, though both can certainly defend. How the Buckeyes sort out the minutes on the wing will be quite interesting: Sam Thompson and Mark Loving deserve major minutes, but KBD and Tate might be too talented to leave on the bench. Dave Bell probably won’t contribute this year with the logjam of players ahead of him.
Click on image to enlarge.
Anthony Lee was a good addition for Ohio State: Big Ten players who had statistically comparable seasons to his final year at Temple were almost all fairly decent rotation guys at the worst. He’ll probably play center for the Buckeyes and he’ll compete with Amir Williams for minutes. In any case, the platoon of Lee / Williams is significantly better than Williams and Trey McDonald. Lee may provide more scoring punch than Williams has so far in his career, but Lee isn’t outstanding in that regard—he takes almost three quarters of his shots at the rim and only finishes at around 50% there (per Nylon Calculus).
[After THE JUMP: Maryland, transfers, and such.]
THE ROAD TO A TERRIBLE BOWL HAS ONE LESS BUMP
Decided to do one more update along these lines...
With that win over Indiana, you will be pleased to know that bowl eligibility has become slightly more likely, at least by the revised Massey numbers that I threw into the matrix this morning.
How much more? Well, consider that – as of right now – our chances to win at least two games now stand at an estimate 26.65%, which is merely the sum of the probabilities of winning all three or any two games. At this same point last week, we were talking about a number which sat around 12% or so, but of course having no result for the Indiana game at that point would make that result naturally lower.
The matrix for the remaining games now looks like this:
Like last week, the blue boxes would be hypothetical wins and in each box, you’ll find the most recent available projection from Massey Ratings. Over in the “PROB” column, the green boxes are the scenarios where we end up bowl eligible and the yellow boxes are where we get sent home with a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, a ton of Turtle Wax and the board game version of the show that we’re now on.
Here’s the rough distribution for any number of remaining wins:
It basically says exactly what you would have thought. That is to say, it says we now stand a realizable chance at being a 5-7 team after having at least put ourselves in a position to be a potential 4-8 team. It’s definitely progress and the picture grows more clear if not more rosy as we slide into this game in Evanston on Saturday.
If we win on Saturday and don’t change any numbers in the matrix for the moment, then bowl eligibility is essentially a 50/50 proposition (well, 52.48% technically), so the numbers rather make the next two games key, but particularly this next one. Why? If we lose to Northwestern and change no other numbers for the sake of providing an estimate, bowl eligibility is a 5.52% chance away then.
I’m going to make this a monthly update, I think. Let me know what I missed, or if you have any more insight that I can add.
October Notes: Darius Morris waived by Portland
Trey Burke (2011-13) | Jazz, Starting PG
- For the first three games of the year, Burke is shooting 34.9% from the field (13.3% on 3-pointers). 1.88 AST/TO ratio, -1.3 NetRtg, and 4.8 PIE.
Jamal Crawford (1999-2000) | Clippers, Backup G
- In the first 2 games of the year, Crawford is shooting 38.5 on field goals (31.3 3P%), and has hit 13/14 free throws. 2.33 AST/TO, 15.8 NetRtg, and 17.2 PIE.
Tim Hardaway Jr. (2010-13) | Knicks, Backup G
- Through 2 games, Hardaway has a NetRtg of -48.1 and PIE of -1.1.
Nik Stauskas (2012-14) | Kings, Backup G
- In 2 games, Stauskas has a -18.3 NetRtg and -4.5 PIE.
Glenn Robinson III (2012-14) | Timberwolves, Backup SF
- Made final roster, but listed as inactive.
Mitch McGary (2012-14) | Thunder, Injured PF
- Out for approximately 3 more weeks with a fractured foot.
Mike Brown (2004-05) | Sharks, RW
- Played in two games so far, only statistic is 7 PIM.
Mike Cammalleri (2000-02) | Devils, LW
- 5 goals, 2 assists, +2, and 8 PIM in 8 games.
Andrew Cogliano (2006-07) | Ducks, C
- 1 goal (SHG), 3 assists, and 4 PIM in 13 games.
Luke Glendening (2009-13) | Red Wings, C
- 1 goal and 6 PIM in 11 games.
Carl Hagelin (2008-11) | Rangers, F
- 2 goals, 1 assist, and 6 PIM in 10 games.
Matt Hunwick (2004-07) | Rangers, D
- 2 assists and 4 PIM in 8 games.
Jack Johnson (2006-07) | Blue Jackets, D
- 5 assists, -9 +/-, and 8 PIM in 11 games.
Jon Merrill (2011-13) | Devils, D
- 1 goal (PPG), 3 assists, and 8 PIM in 11 games.
Al Montoya (2003-05) | Panthers, G
- Given up 1 goal on 38 shots in 2 games.
David Moss (2002-05) | Coyotes, LW
- 1 assist, -6 +/-, and 4 PIM in 6 games.
Eric Nystrom (2002-05) | Predators, LW
- 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 PIM in 11 games.
Max Pacioretty (2008) | Canadiens, LW
- 5 goals, 4 assists, +7 +/-, and 10 PIM in 12 games.
Chris Summers (2007-10) | Coyotes, D
- 1 assist, -2 +/-, and 2 PIM in 5 games.
Jacob Trouba (2013) | Jets, D
- 1 goal, -2 +/-, and 4 PIM in 12 games.
American Hockey League
East Coast Hockey League
Rich Hill (2000-02) | Yankees, LHP
- Pitched in 16 games as a reliever for a total of 5.1 innings. 3.38 ERA, 2.44 WHIP, and 9/6 SO/BB ration.
- Was signed by Yankees on July 17th.
Zach Putnam (2006-08) | White Sox, RHP
- Appeared in 49 relief appearences, 5 wins and 2 losses, with 6 saves. 1.98 (!) ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 46 SO vs. 20 BB, and 2 HRs.
Justin Meram (2009-10) | Columbus Crew, Forward
- Scored a big goal in a playoff game this week.
- Played in 32 games this year (starting 19). Scored 8 goals on 21 SOG, with 4 assists.
- Has 13 goals in 90 games (43 starts) for the Crew in the past 4 years.
Soony Saad (2009-10) | Sporting Kansas City and Lebanese National Team, Forward
- Scored 3 goals with 1 assist in 22 games (9 starts) this year.
- In the last 4 years with Sporting KC, Saad has 8 goals and 6 assists in 58 games (26 starts).
Kofi Opare (2009-12) DC United, Defender
- Traded from LA Galaxy on July 29th.
- Played in 6 games with LA this year, starting 5, but did not play a game with DC.
Let me know what I missed, or if you have any more insight that I can add.
Week 9 Notes: Jordan Kovacs was signed by the Dolphins! Alan Branch picked up by New England.
Tom Brady (1997-99) | Patriots, Starting QB (W 43-21 vs. DEN)
- Very impressive game from Brady: 33/53 for 333 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT. Was sacked once.
- Brady passed John Elway for fifth on the all-time passing yards list, with 51,541. He has also won 42 straight home games vs. AFC teams.
- For the year, Brady is 214/334 for 2,392 yards, 22 TDs with 3 interceptions.
Denard Robinson (2009-12) | @denardx | Jaguars, RB (L 33-23 vs. CIN)
- 3rd straight game as feature back, 3rd straight impressive game. 94 yards rushing on 17 attempts (long of 39), and 1 rushing TD. Also caught a 12-yard pass.
- Has started 3 games this year, has rushed for 423 yards on 85 carries, and has 14 receptions for 57 yards. Robinson has zero fumbles, compared to 3 fumbles on 20 rushing attempts last year.
Jason Avant (2002-05) | Panthers, WR (L 28-10 vs. NO)
- 1 catch for 8 yards.
- In his first year with the Panthers, Avant has made 20 catches on 29 targets for 193 yards, and 1 TD.
Junior Hemingway (2007-11) | @younghemi21 | Chiefs, Backup WR (W 24-10 vs. NYJ)
- 2 catches for 9 yards.
- In 8 games, Hemingway has 10 receptions for 98 yards.
Michael Cox (2008-11) | @mikecox1mill | Giants, KR (MNF vs. IND)
- Returned kicks for 33 yards.
- Has played 3 games, exclusively in kick returning duties.
Patrick Omameh (2009-12) | @patrickomameh | Buccaneers, Starting G (L 22-17 vs. CLE)
- QB was sacked twice.
- Has started all 8 games this year.
Steve Schilling (2007-10) | Seahawks, Backup G (W 30-24 vs. OAK)
- Started, although he was questionable due to knee injury—QB was sacked once.
- In his first year with Seattle, has started 4 straight games.
Alan Branch (2004-07) | Patriots, Backup NT (W 43-21 vs. DEN)
- Played a handful of snaps, no statistics.
- Was picked up by NE on Wednesday, and only got two practices in before the game.
- Had a career year in 2013 with Buffalo, but was cut in fall camp due to failed condiitioning test and getting a DUI.
Tim Jamison (2005-08) | Texans, Backup DE (L 31-21 vs. PHI)
- 2 tackles.
- Has started 1 of 9 games this year. Jamison has recorded 13 tackles, 1 recovered fumble, and half of a sack.
Brandon Graham (2006-09) | @brandongraham55 | Eagles, Backup LB (W 31-21 vs. HOU)
- 2 tackles, 1 sack. Played 13 passing downs and had 5 QB hurries.
- Has not started yet this year, but has 20 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 TFLs, and 3 forced fumbles in 8 games.
Kenny Demens (2009-12) | @kdemens25 | Cardinals, Backup ILB (W 28-17 vs. DAL)
- 1 tackle.
- In 8 games played, Demens has recorded 6 tackles and 2 forced fumble.
Larry Foote (1998-2001) | @larryfoote313 | Cardinals, Starting MLB (W 28-17 vs. DAL)
- 5 tackles.
- Has started all 8 games in his first year with Arizona, recording 41 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 INT so far.
David Harris (2004-06) | Jets, Starting ILB (L 24-10 vs. KC)
- 4 tackles.
- In 9 starts, Harris has recorded 68 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Leon Hall (2003-06) | Bengals, Starting CB (W 33-23 vs. JAX)
- 5 tackles. Was injured on a hit to the head, questionable for next week.
- Has 39 tackles and 1 interception in 8 starts.
Charles Woodson (1995-97) | Raiders, Starting FS (L 30-24 vs. SEA)
- 5 tackles.
- Has 50 tackles and 2 interceptions in 8 games.
Stevie Brown (2006-09) | @steviebrown27 | Giants, Backup FS (MNF vs IND)
- Brown tore his ACL and missed the 2013 season, and has started 3 games this year. He has amassed 13 tackles in 7 games.
Taylor Lewan (2009-13) | @taylorlewan77 | Titans, Starting T (Bye Week)
- Started third consecutive game.
Mike Martin (2008-11) | @gomikemartin | Titans, Backup DE (Bye Week)
- Started two games this year, with 10 tackles.
Ryan Mundy (2003-06) | @rmundy29 | Bears, Starting SS (Bye Week)
- Has recorded 43 tackles and 1 pick-six interception in his first 8 games with the bears.
Did Not Play
Chad Henne (2004-07) | @chad_henne | Jaguars. Backup QB
- Did not play. There are calls for him to get playing time due to Bortles’ turnover issues.
- Started 3 games to begin the year. 42/78 for 492 with 3 TDs and 1 interception and 1 fumble. Has apparently lost starting job to rookie Blake Bortles.
David Molk (2007-11) | Eagles, Backup C
- Had started past 4 games, due to starter injury.
Michael Schofield (2009-13) | @schoblue75 | Broncos, Backup T
- Has yet to play. Is marked as inactive.
Jonathan Goodwin (1999-2001) | Saints, Injured C
- Missed his first game since 11/24/2008.
Cameron Gordon (2009-13) | Patriots, Injured LB
- On injured reserve.
Jake Long (2004-07) | Rams, Injured T
- Tore his ACL last week for the second time. Out for the year.
- Has been a starter since he entered the league 7 years ago.
LaMarr Woodley (2003-06) | @lamarrwoodley | Raiders, Injured DE
- Placed on season-ending IR with torn bicep.
- 4 tackles in 5 games.
Will Campbell (2009-12) | @idonttweet73 | Bills, Practice G
Jordan Kovacs (2009-13) | @jkovacs32 | Dolphins, SS
- Was just picked up by the Dolphins (again) to take over for an injured player. Played in 9 games last year for the Dolphins.
Some assumptions this post makes:
Brady Hoke will no longer be the head coach of Michigan Football in the next few weeks and months.
Jim or John Harbaugh would be willing to come coach at our school.
The methodology of this website is sound. Overall website link: www.playoffstatus.com
I'm fairly confident we're going to see regime change although I do agree we should really go after a homerun hire that has a really high probabilty of working out otherwise if we hire somebody who is not a slam dunk and does not engender excitement we could be in for some rocky road and not of the yummy variety.
Anyway, I found this site which frequently updates season scenarios for different teams within the NFL and for other sports. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a methodology so this should be taken with a huge grain of salt. However, right now Jim Harbaugh is 4-4 in the NFC West (good for one game better than the last place Rams) and John Harbaugh is 5-4 in the AFC North which is half a game better than the 5-3(!) last place Cleveand Browns(!!!!). Also, Both teams have already lost to two divisional rivals already, the Cardinals and Steelers respectively, although the Ravens split so no tie breaker for the Steelers to my knowledge which is limited when it comes to the NFL and it's mysterious processes.
Finally, the percentages: according to this model the 49ers have a 70% chance of missing the playoffs at this point most likely because the Cardinals so far look like a lock to win the division going away; meanwhile the other Harbaugh and his Ravens have a slightly better 67% chance of missing the playoffs. Primarily the reason for such a high percentage for John Harbaugh is his team is in one of the toughest divisons in the NFL since every team is above .500, parity uber alles. That AFC North playoff picture looks a lot more fluid since all the teams are so tight and it may only be resolved in late December.
Same Charts from the Site:
NFC West Playoff Standings
|Record||Divisional Winners||Wildcard||No Playoffs|
AFC North Playoff Standings
|Record||Divisional Winners||Wildcard||No Playoffs|
Bottom Line: Thus far we're looking in good shape that both Harbaughs miss their post season meaning we could try to make them our head coach sometime around December 28 7:30 - 8:00 PM EST, roughly. This is of course fluid and both are really good coaches and it's only the halfway point so they could turn this around, but luckily for us they are in some tough divisions which could make these coaches available sooner than we originally thought. In conclusion let's go Cardinals and Seahawks in the NFC West and Steelers, Bengals, and Browns in the AFC North.
This is going to be an abbreviated Best and Worst. First off, I've just survived a weekend of family celebrating both my wife's and my daughter's birthdays, so I finished watching the DVR of the game about an hour ago. Plus, I'm dying right now of a sinus headache, the type that makes you wonder just how bad the longer-term damage would be to drill a teeny-weeny hole in your skull to release the pressure. Plus, it's IU, Michigan is 4-5, and they just fired Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke is pretty much doomed to follow. What happened on the field isn't really important.
Best: Michigan Won! And, Like, By A Lot of Points!! More Than the Spread!!!
By my own back-of-an-envelope calculations, this is the first time Michigan has done that to a Power 5 team since the Truman administration. That's the Marshall Plan for ya!
The game was never really in doubt when it became clear Indiana wasn't going to throw the ball forward, and with a 17-0 lead going into the half it was kinda, what's the word, "relaxing" to be watching a Michigan football game. For future reference, I want to feel this way again sooner rather than later.
Worst: The Part Where I Kinda Defend Dave Brandon
So yeah, something else happened in conjunction with this game.
The big news at the end of the week was David Brandon's resignation/peaceful surrender/It's not me, it's you as athletic director at the University of Michigan. Obviously, this comes as a shock to everyone.
What was a bit surprising was the speediness in which the change was made; while I doubt the two are related, within a week of MGoBlog's release of Dave Brandon's Live Journal-esque email screeds, the pizza baron was out of office and early reports have them looking hard at Jim Phillips at Northwestern amongst other targets, which seems to be a departure of sorts from the "Michigan Man" ties that drove previous searches and comprised the initial "wish lists" for Brandon's replacement. This is good for the University and, frankly, for Brandon; I certainly don't want to work at a place where a large number of people actively despise me, and I'm sure he'll rest easy on his pile of money, with many beautiful ladies.
But as (apparently) one of the resident contrarians/apologists for Dave Brandon as AD, I don't take much joy in his firing. He needed to go because he failed the most basic tenet of being an athletic directory, the same rule that offensive linemen are told: keep your name out of the newspapers. If you are doing your job well, nobody should be talking about you until the end of the year when you collecting your team awards and QBs are talking about how they owe you a steak dinner and a nice watch after the Pro Bowl.
Dave Brandon the man became a PR circus, mishandling so many public elements of his job that it almost felt like he was doing it on purpose. He kept trumpeting "dynamic pricing" of tickets while outright lying about attendance figures, he helped whittle away Michigan's voluminous waitlist by driving away large swaths of diehards with seat "donations" and screwy point systems, he messed around with gameday traditions and neutered the band in favor of Special K rocking the Big House with some of your favorite Deja Vu jams, and always, ALWAYS doubled down on bad decisions with condescension and general assholeness. In particular, his handling of the football team and it struggles, highlighted this year by Morris's concussion fiasco and the rally, destroyed whatever residual goodwill he still had with most fans.
Still, what continues to bother me about the discussion surrounding his firing is the pervasive argument that Brandon's tenure was not beneficial to Michigan athletics in general, which I'm not sure is (a) true, (b) measurable, and (c) relevant to his firing. As I stated earlier, Brandon had to go because he kept screwing up publicly and the cash cow was hemorrhaging support and money.
Measuring Brandon's tenure as it relates to other sports is difficult because so many factors are legitimately beyond his control and/or difficult to quantify. Brian tweeted the following:
BTN discussing how awesome Brandon's done with other sports. Top 5 Directors Cup finishes, 1999-2009: 10. Since: 1. — mgoblog (@mgoblog) October 31, 2014
The argument being made was that before Brandon arrived, Michigan was an elite athletic institution across a variety of sports; it wasn't just a "football factory" that failed to live up the dual ideals of amateurism and Title IX equality. Yet once his MBA-fueled policies took hold and he started to replace the institutional memory of the athletic department, the other non-revenue sports were marginalized and suffered.
First off, I question the premise that the Directors Cup is a good barometer of an athletic department's overall health and well-being. When Stanford is riding a John Wooden-esque 19-straight titles because they are really good at golf and water polo while sports like basketball, hockey, and wrestling are ignored, you have to wonder a bit about the system's efficacy.
So I went through and compiled a list of Michigan's finishes in the final standings since 1999, with the highest-scoring sport included.
|2009||5||M. Golf/W. Water Polo|
|2010||25||W. Water Polo|
So what I see is a school that was pretty good at Women's Rowing and Softball in the early 2000's, consistently finishing in the top 10 with one outlier in 2006. Then the year he took over, the school suffered through a pretty terrible run at the selected sports (a dip highly unlikely to have been affected by Brandon's nascent hiring), and has since trended upwards, reaching #4 despite their national championships in Men's swimming & diving and gymnastics not counting in the final tally. Rankings aren't complete for 2014, so there might be some softening. Still, if you read the chart it sure looks like Brandon stepped into a leaky ship and helped plug the holes, though not being deeply knowledgeable of the various other sports at UM, I can't say for sure.
And on an interesting sidenote, here is a breakdown of the national championships Michigan has claimed over the same span, broken up by BD (Before Brandon) and AD (After Brandon)
Number of National Championships from 1999-2009: 3
M Gymnastics: 1999
Field Hockey: 2001
Number of National Championships from 2010-2014: 4
M. Gymnastics: 2010, 2013, 2014
M. Swimming and Diving: 2013
My point isn't to make an argument that Brandon should have been retained because the gymnastics team suddenly got better, only to argue that Dave Brandon's official job was to be the Athletic Director for the ENTIRE University, and on paper it looks like he wasn't doing a half-bad job. The basketball team had just suffered through a 15-17 season after a promising return to the tournament in 2009-2010, and there were rumbling that Brandon might need to remove Beilein and go select one of "his" guys. Yet he stuck with a guy he inherited from the last administration, helped to improve facilities, and now Michigan is one of the most consistent basketball programs in the country. Conversely, the hockey team has gone into a talespin recently under Red, and yet it doesn't appear Brandon put much pressure on Berenson to turn the ship around or ship out.
Maybe with Brandon gone we'll hear from the other programs about his tenure from their perspective; my guess is that most will say he was fine to work with, gave them the resources they needed to be successful, and mostly stayed out of the way. We keep hearing condemnations from "friends of John Bacon" that Michigan's financials were in shambles and Brandon should be fired for that, and yet the Michigan brand is, by virtually any metric, still one of the most marketable and profitable out there, doubly impressive because of the state's meager economic assistance and the poor performance of the football team in years past. Making money is a major part of an AD's responsibility, and the guy who takes over for Brandon is probably continue a number of his policies, though probably with less fanfare. It isn't breaking news that college sports are "big business", and anyone expecting the next AD to be a radical departure from this core outlook is probably going to be disappointed.
So I guess my point is that Dave Brandon had to be fired because he had a number of very public flameouts, and when people are marching on your boss's lawn calling for your head it's time to pack up the framed footballs and retire to your floating island or wherever guys like Brandon hang out. But I don't know if he was a bad athletic director in totality, and the fact that doesn't matter in the final calculus of his firing shouldn't invalidate the positives he did at UM.
Best: The Gooch
Back to football, Indiana has a freshmen linebacker on their team called Greg Gooch. He didn't seem to chart, but I couldn't help seeing his name without remembering one of my favorite part-time characters on Scrubs.
Worst: The Offense is Still Broken
Yes, Michigan just put up 404 yards on Indiana, and recorded both their first 200-yard passing game of the year (!) and first 100-yard rusher game in the B1G since the last time UM played IU (!!), but man is it hard to get excited. For one thing, Indiana has a turrible defense that gives up huge plays to everyone, yet Michigan's longest play was a 34-yard strike to Darboh that featured Gardner having to bypass the rush, step into a lane, stutter-step about a million times, and still have to throw a tight throw to Amara as he finally shook off the IU defensive back. It was a good play and helped get Michigan in position for an opening score, but Jeremy Gallon had 369 yards receiving on his own last year against effectively the same IU defense, including multiple 50+ yard receptions. It remains an offense bereft of "playmakers", which I know is absolutely the most cliche thing to say but is kinda true.
If you look the offensive drive efficiency for NFL offenses, you see that the best teams score quickly and with (relatively) few plays. It makes sense intuitively, as dinking-and-dunking your way down the field requires your offense to execute multiple times successfully, which as anyone with a basic understanding of probability knows that success rates tend to go down the more times you tempt fate. Looking at Michigan's first couple of meaningful drives, you see these long 8+ play drives that are littered with short gains and the occasional long-ish run or completion but nothing really explosive. It worked because it was Indiana and Drake Johnson had a career game (more on that later), but when your longest plays of the year so far are 62-yard and 61-yard runs by Green and Smith against App. St. to start the season, and your future 1st-round WR has a season long of 43 yards on an ill-timed bomb that probably should have been picked off by the PSU safety, you can't read TOO deep into a semi-breakout day. Last year's offense was way more boom-or-bust, but this year's "consistent muck" probably wasn't what everyone hoped for when Michigan made a change at offensive coordinator.
Meh: Gardner, Again
Just copy-paste one of my sections about Gardner from any diary this year. Nothing has changed. He's broken, not in a way that can't be fixed, but in a way that nobody at Michigan, in the next 4 games, is going to come close to accomplishing. Sadly, he'd be the perfect QB for an Urban Meyer or a Chip Kelly offense, a guy who can outrun most defenders and throw the ball effectively enough to keep them honest. He's a sunk cost, a broken wagon wheel dipped in dysentery on the Oregon Trail of 2014 Michigan football.
Best(?): Disney's The Drake Johnson Story
First off, that was a legit good performance by Johnson, even with the opponent factored in. He looked confident, made decisive cuts, broke some tackles, and had a couple of bursts that reminded people he was a pretty accomplished hurdler at Pioneer. Once De'Veon Smith left the game with an injury, Johnson stepped in and turned a close-ish game into a blowout, and as noted before had the first 100-yard performance against a conference opponent in about a year. Plus, being a hometown kid performing so well on Homecoming, after such a tumultuous week, is a great story and one he'll probably remember forever.
That said, I have no expectation that he (or this team) will be able to reproduce this running effort against anyone else on the schedule save (maybe) Northwestern, but even that might be generous. It has literally been years since Michigan had anything approximating a consistent running game, and that was mostly because of the threat of Denard in the backfield. With Gardner still nursing an injured ankle and the coaches consciously not asking him to do much on the ground, this 184 yards feels like the end of a movie that probably won't have any more sequels this year.
Best: The Mendoza Line
This is the second team Michigan held a team under 200 yards of total offense (the other Miami [NTM]), and 75 of those came on IU's 2nd-to-last drive of the game. I know IU is starting 18th-string freshmen and Buffy sidekick Zander Diamont, who has thrown something like 23 passes for 35 yards in his career, but holding superback Tevin Coleman to a shade over 100 yards even with those garbage carries is impressive. Yes, everyone knew that IU had exactly two good players on offense - Coleman and Wynn - and so the defense was able to shift its formations to shutting down those two players, but it is still pretty impressive that the defense was actually able to execute as well as it did.
It's hard to tell if the unit is "good" or not, since they alternately kick offenses off the field quickly and give up 80+ yard TD drives to end halves, and the offense has been so disjointed and anemic against most teams on the schedule that they tend to give up yardage and points out of exhaustion as much as poor playmaking. Even the fact that the offense is one of the slowest in the country (thus reducing the total number of plays per game for both teams) hasn't been a blessing, since 3-and-outs that take 30 seconds or 3-and-outs that take 1 1/2/ minutes aren't functionally different.
I don't expect them to replicate a game like this against anyone left on the schedule, but looking at Maryland and NW I see the possibility for the defense to make a bit of a stand these next couple of weeks before OSU, well, you've all seen Oz. At best, it's going to be one of the lighter death scenes in Oz.
Again with all "this is Indiana" caveats applying, the defense still had 12 TFLs, including 2 sacks and another QB hit, spearheaded by Jake Ryan absolutely abusing IU's offensive line for 2.5 TFLs and 10 solo tackles all around. It still feels like a bit of a waste with him in the middle, but it was nice to see him has such a disruptive effect in the game.
It was also the second week in a row that Michigan got a bit of luck in the fumble recovery game, this time Mone recovering Coleman's second stumble-fumble of the first half that Michigan capitalized on for an early 10-point lead. It's a bit too little, too late, but after having major "luck" issues with fumbles and loose balls the past couple of years, it is nice to see the pendulum turn a bit toward the good guys.
Worst: The Muggles
Straight off, I didn't know what a Muggle was until this tweet came out. Despite being a guy who follows professional wrestling, I find stuff like Game of Thrones and Harry Potter slogs to read and just, I don't know, boring. By all means enjoy what you like, but I've always found it hilarious that a Board post about Wrestlemania is littered with people calling it dumb and fake and yet there are heated discussions about characters in a show based on a series of books about dragons and mythical wolves.
Anyway, apparently Elliott Mealer called the University of Michigan students who called for Dave Brandon's firing muggles, which followed up earlier comments from other former players that took issue with (I presume) their impression that people were a bit too excited about a guy they knew getting fired, and that the peanut gallery basically won out over the people who had played for the teams, including the current players. He later deleted the tweet, but because this is the internet a not insignificant number of people returned fire at Mealer, while other agreed with him for a variety of reasons (bad precedence, issues of accountability, etc.).
I don't agree with Mealer's specific rationale, as the "you didn't play, so how do you know" argument is factually weak and intellectually lazy. I don't need to have played lacrosse to know Dave Brandon wasn't very popular at UM and the lines against him were calcified, just like it doesn't take a parent to know this probably was a bad idea.
Still, he has his right to an opinion, just like anyone else.
But I have a bigger issue with the counter-argument that without "the muggles" paying tickets/attending games, there wouldn't be a need for guys like Mealer. First off, most schools don't "make money" on college sports; Michigan is one of the few with an athletic department that generates a profit and is self-sustaining; the vast majority of departments rely on public and private funding to keep everything running. And yet, there are over 125 FBS teams, and even more D1 athletic departments. Unless we take the argument to its logical extreme that nobody, anywhere would watch college sports, fans' contributions don't cover the cost of an athletic department. If it did, we wouldn't have basically any sports other than basketball, football, and baseball in the south and hockey in the northeast and Minnesota, and even that might be a stretch.
Secondly, the "I pay your salary" tone devalues a human's opinion and makes it akin to rank entertainment for the crowd's pleasure. You see it with the arguments against paying players a stipend beyond their scholarships, this idea that they should be happy they have received what they did and stop complaining because most everyone else paid his/her way at Michigan. Now, I'm not sure about the financial situation for others, but I paid part of my way through Michigan but had assistance from family; I definitely couldn't have afforded it without my loving benefactors (read: parents). I've since paid for two graduated degrees via a combination of loans, scholarships, and part-time work, but 18-year-old BronxBlue had some help, and based on my peers at UM I wasn't the outlier. And even if you did pay your whole way, I don't see how that should be held against other people who, for various reasons, are deemed worthy of additional assistance because of some extraordinary ability. We give scholarships to budding math geniuses, and yet in my years of work in various university licensing offices the vast majority of these individuals didn't generate enough money to cover their funding. It isn't their fault; in theory university's are designed to mold the future generations, and that can come from a multitude of actions.
Nobody is "right" in this situation; it's just a bunch of opinions about something that is history. Yes, mob rule isn't usually the best option for making important decisions, but in this case it was pretty clear that Brandon's continued employment was untenable, and the issue was not if but when. At the same time, men and women who work with Dave Brandon, who interact with him on a daily basis, may hold a different opinion of him compared to those who know him only from blog posts and email exchanges, some of whom certainly aren't blameless about the tone of the discussions. The old saying is you can't get 10 people to decide on the toppings for a pizza, so expecting everyone to agree about something so dramatic as the firing of a prominent member of the Michigan athletic department is nigh impossible.
Still, it continues to bother me how quickly the discussion turns from a difference of opinion to attacks on people's character or station in life, and I had (foolishly) hoped that the bulk of Michigan fans would have let it go.
They lost at Iowa 48 to 7, gaining a total of 180 yards of offense. Justin Jackson averaged more yards a run (4.0) than Trevor Siemian did throwing it (3.8), which I hear isn't a good thing. Hopefully Michigan can do roughly the same and get the back to .500 before the big showdown (sigh) with Maryland to decide bowl eligibility and let me book my ticket to the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium! Metro North, here I come!