fair point that
Due to time constraints and the fact that broken records sound even worse the second time around, I promise this post will be considerably abbreviated compared to earlier entries. To offset what I can only imagine will be a massive downgrade in creativity and humor, I will employ the time-honored and totally not schmaltzy “theme” for this week’s synopsis. I leave it to the reader to determine just what that through line is.
Worst: Ruff Offense
Let me set the stage for you: In a flurry to end the 3rd quarter, UM finished off an epic 75-yard drive with Toussaint’s 35-yard TD run, cutting UConn’s lead to 21-14 (!). The defense then weathered a couple of early completions to force UConn into a long FG attempt, which they missed. So UM took over, down 7 with the ball and driving to start the 4th quarter. A personal foul call on UConn set the Wolverines up on the 31 yard line, and it looked like the team was finally starting to find its “white people dancing at a wedding”-level rhythm offensively.*
On the first play, Al Borges looked into the BAD (Burn Another Down) part of the playbook and called a Fitz run that I can only imagine ended with him running into 1 or more offensive linemen’s posteriors 3 yards in the backfield and scampering forward for no gain. (Yes, this is foreshadowing). On second down, UConn’s totally unstoppable 4-man rush got pressure up the middle and flushed Gardner to the right side, where he held onto the ball while the 14-year-old controlling him kept pressing the stiff-arm and spin buttons instead of throwing the ball away, resulting in a 3rd and 17. The next play, at this point either a designed run or a de-facto run considering both the pressure Gardner was under and his clear discomfort in throwing the ball deep, resulting in a 15-yard pickup and 4 and 2 at the UConn 23.
Down 7 and with no promise that the offense would be that close to scoring again, Brady Hoke left the offense out there. As people noted in the liveblog, if UM isn’t able to get two measly yards against UConn, then so be it. After a Husky TO to think it over (I’m sure the conversation went along the lines of “easily dispatch of the offensive lineman in front of you and tackle the guy with the ball, fine gentlemen” because that seemed to be all UConn defenders needed to know on this night and apparently every conversation in my head is sponsored by Foppish Dandys), the playcall was the most obvious QB keeper possible, which still nearly worked except Devin fumbled the ball near the first-down marker and recovered about a foot and a half short. Turnover on downs, cats went running, beers were spilled, various furniture was kicked, etc.
If there was a better microcosm of UM’s offense the past couple of weeks, I’d like to see it. Against Notre Dame, I compared UM’s attack to a stacked Madden offense and wondered if it was the best/most dynamic of the last 15 years. In the last two games, against two of the worst defenses statistically in the FBS, UM has had 25 meaningful drives and recorded 7 TDs versus 9 TOs, including 2 that were returned for TDs by the opposition. It is an offense in free-fall, unable to really do anything particularly well outside of letting Devin run for his life or test Jeremy Gallon’s ability to enter inner orbit by throwing at the garden gnome standing on top of his helmet. I’ll get into more detail about the various faces of the offense below, but this display was actually more disheartening than against Akron simply because the last game felt like it could be chalked up to under-preparedness and/or lackadaisical play; a week later it sure seemed like UM was trying to get yardage and UConn would have none of it.
* Full disclosure: I’m a pretty stereotypical white guy, and my wedding (despite having a pretty kick-ass hora in this Gentile’s opinion), would have probably been a decent backdrop for a Dave Chappelle bit.
Worst: Stop digging!
Remember when Devin Gardner was spinning away from trouble and scampering for first downs, throwing bullets while under pressure, or calmly throwing the ball out of bounds when, heaven forbid, he was flushed from the pocket? Yeah, those were the days…of early September.
Last year, one of the things this blog and others raved about Devin was his field vision and willingness to keep looking downfield, trying to make a play with either his arm or his legs, unafraid to throw the ball out of bounds Now, every time he feels pressure (read: virtually every time he steps back to pass), he’s spinning around aimlessly or immediately tucking the ball and taking a loss even when he is a decent subway ride from the pocket. On the last drive of the 1st quarter, Gardner took a 16-yard loss scrambling around the field, never once seemingly contemplating throwing the ball away. Though he had thrown an INT on the last drive, it was this play that seemed the far more onerous one, portending a remarkably frustrating outing for a player that was seemingly exceeding the massive hype he had coming into the season. He went from being the best QB in the conference not backing up Braxton Miller to leading the nation in INTs (and I presume TOs though I don’t have that stat in front of me), and being one of the top 30 scoring players in the conference based on points scored for the other team.
Most of those turnovers are the result of simply trying to do too much: throwing across his body while being chased, trying to thread a ball through 3 defenders, lobbing bombs that come up short or are off the mark, failing to protect the ball because he is trying to twist, juke, or stretch for a couple more yards. And all this adds up to ever-deeper holes that UM has to ever-more-desperately try to climb out of. Down 3 late to Akron after seemingly having the game in hand entering the 4th quarter mushroomed into being down 14 to UConn midway into the 3rd quarter. While this phenomenon is certainly not solely due to Gardner’s play, he remains the focal point of a sputtering unit that must return to at least competent form if this team stands any chance in this division, let alone against some high-profile bowl opponent in the future.
Best: Just Roll with It
So for the first time all season, someone other than Gardner broke 100 yards rushing AND 5 ypc. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, as Fitz had 12 of his 14 runs go for 3 yards or less, including a couple of times where he received the ball effectively off Miller’s ass as he was driven yards into the backfield. It remains very feast-and-famine with him lugging the ball, with about 30% of his 120 yards coming on the long TD run to halve the deficit in the 3rd quarter. Though the team as a whole failed to break 4 yards per carry, some of that can be attributed to some ill-timed runs by Gardner that resulted in lost yardage or minimal gain. And yes, I recognize just how poor the UConn defense was coming into the game; I woke up this morning muttering “Towson” and cursing the liveblog for reminding me of it, though it should be noted that the Tigers are 4-0 and have been obliterating teams so far this season.
For better or for worse, though, this is probably the best fans can hope for this outfit during the conference slate: a depressing number of minimal gains punctuated by some massive runs from Gardner as well as Fitz when he is able to make the first 2 or 3 guys miss. It will obviously be imperative for the line and TEs to cut down on holding penalties and other self-inflicted wounds, and someone needs to send whatever football-related methodone is required to wean Borges off his addiction to inside “power” runs, but I thought Fitz ran better in that second half (81 yards and 2 TDs with only 1 negative run and a couple rushes for no gain), and combined with Gardner’s mobility (provided he HOLDS ONTO THE DAMN BALL!) could provide a reasonably approximation to the rushing attack from 2011.
I do expect that some of the freshmen will see more time after the bye week, but I find it telling that Smith only played on special teams and Green didn’t touch the ball once all game. Minny’s highly-ranked, if lightly-tested, rushing defense should be a decent barometer as to whether this was a return of sorts for the running game or baseless optimism.
Worst: Now It’s Just Embarrassing
And you thought it couldn’t get worst than last week against Akron for this offensive line? Well, look what just happened, strawperson who watches UM football and thinks things can’t get any worse. UM’s line got served* by a unit that came into the game without a sack and 6 TFL’s (they record 3 and 10, respectively, against the Wolverines), and added 3 more QB hits. And beyond the obvious stats, there were numerous times when 3 and 4-man rushes were either driving Gardner from the pocket or forcing Fitz to bounce to the outside on runs. It was a dominating performance the likes of which people expected from Notre Dame’s NFL-stacked line, not the ramshackle one in Storrs.
While I want to believe that there will be changes made to the line during the bye week, what troubles me is that outside of Bryant at guard, I’m not sure who one can reasonably expect to step in and be an upgrade over the players already logging the reps. I mean, the guys out there won whatever amounted to “competitions” for these spots going into the season; to expect someone to come out of the woodworks (beyond major position shifts) seems like a pipedream. There should be some natural improvements just through familiarity and experience, especially at RG with Kallis, but it will fall on Borges and Funk to figure out a workable solution with the pieces they have on the field, a solution significantly better than the product that’s be trotted out there so far.
* In the same vein as my complaints about Varsity Blues movie logic issues, how did the the officials of the dancing competition at the end of You Got Served allow two teams team up, plus add about 10 new members, prior to the finals? Perhaps they were blinded by Steve Harvey’s teeth.
Meh: Air Dud
I’m breaking out the rare “Meh” when it comes to the receivers this game. Gardner was a mess, completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing 2 INTs. He locked onto Gallon a couple of times, one leading to the first INT, and was bouncing or sailing balls to open receivers throughout the game. At first blush I thought the receivers and ends were having trouble getting open, but on a couple of those tuck-and-runs in the second half it looked like Gardner ran through his progressions in about half a second and, either because of real or perceived pressure, just took off and ran the ball. This unit remains distressingly shallow in consistent playmakers (basically Gallon and that’s it), but there is only so much they can do when the defense is able to get pressure and stop the run without giving up coverage. As Chris Spielman (*shudder*) accurately pointed out, UConn didn’t respect UM’s running game and, thus, stayed back in coverage and really limited what UM’s offense could do throwing the ball. Given the fact that the Huskies were breaking in basically a whole new secondary, this was an opportunity for the receivers to reestablish some consistency we saw earlier in the season, and opportunity that they (get ready for the pun) dropped.
Best: Release the Chess-hound!
I do want to point out that Jehu Chesson again showed flashes of the playmaker this team desperately needs to complement Gallon and Dileo. I know he over-ran the ball on Gardner’s second INT and under-ran a probably TD after he beat the UConn coverage by a step in the 4th quarter, but on both plays you saw the speed people raved about. Both misplays seem to be due as much to inexperience as anything else, as freshmen coming from programs where QB play was sub-optimal are want to struggle with ball tracking in the air. Still, I expect him to continue to make strides in the passing game as the season progresses.
Also, he absolutely trucked UConn punt returners on two plays, including forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Huskies in that first half. He’s clearly not afraid of contact and, more importantly, is big enough to actually do something about it. Given the continuing struggles of the TEs to block in the running game, this physicality needs to continue.
Best: Here they come!
Only because of the offensive line’s continued struggles has the defensive line’s woes been (slightly) overlooked, but in this game they finally were able to generate both a consistent pass rush as well as a stout-ish run defense. UConn averaged under 2 ypc and under 5 ypa if you ignore the 26-yard completion on 4th-and-30 to end the game, and UM recorded 4 sacks to go along with 4 additional TFLs. Frank Clark recorded 2 of those sacks to go along with 5 tackles total, and Jibreel continued his solid season by recording half a sack to go along with 6 tackles and consistently getting penetration inside. Black will never be your prototypical tackle, and he probably won’t be able to hold up against bruising lines dedicated to running the ball (i.e. Minny in two weeks), but the “poor man’s Brandon Graham” analogies don’t seem off.
The secondary remains a work in progress, but it held up reasonably well. They were bailed out a bit by Geremy Davis’s overturned TD catch in the end zone, but (I believe) that was followed up by the punting fiasco that led to UConn’s last score. The LB’s in coverage remain troubling (I know, except for that one really GOOD thing I detail below), and guys seemed to find a way to get open up the seams way more frequently than UM’s guys do.
It wasn’t a dominant performance by any means, but it was a positive sign after not being able to generate anything resembling a defense in the second half last week against Akron. UConn barely broke 200 yards in total offense, only one drive longer than 40 yards, and 14 of those 21 points were either on the offense or special teams. Let’s hope this is a return of the Swag.
Best: Air Bud II: Morgan’s Electric Boogaloo
“Woodsonian” is both a strong and made-up word, but Morgan’s game-changing INT was a thing of beauty and really seemed to energize the team. I know there are different schools of thought regarding momentum, and I’m generally not a believer in any long-term effect, but I do think that it can exist within a small context, such as a single game or even just a half. UM looked horrible for most of the game offensively, and UConn had just stuffed Gardner’s 4-down conversion attempt. The defense had been on the field for large swaths of the game, and any score by UConn probably would have meant the game. So when Morgan skied for that pick and returned it to the 12, UM had new life. On the next play, Fitz took the ball outside and scored the tying TD. From that point on, UConn recorded 1 first down and 26 total yards on 2 drives, basically all those yards coming on a meaningless completion on 4th down. He didn’t “save” the season by any stretch, but it was the play of the game.
Worst: No More Norfleeting?
I’m definitely keeping my head on a swivel watching out for the banhammer on this one, but I’m starting to think the potential of Norfleet may never live up to the actual product on the field. He has seemingly lost the faith of the coaching staff on punt returns after muffing a couple in the past weeks, and while he remains a kickoff threat he’s rarely used in the offense except on obvious running plays and (maybe) a couple of passing routes when the team goes empty backfield. He remains very fast but has a season long of 15 yards as a receiver and one 38-yard run against CMU. He also has a penchant for getting tripped up on contact, and while that isn’t unexpected for such a small guy, it also doesn’t warrant much in the way of additional playing time.
Worst: Hold Onto the Damn Ball!
I noted this already, but UM lost the turnover battle 5 to 1, and while the Jones kicking the ball on punt coverage was just poor luck (it seemed like either a lack of communication or awareness that led to him being so close), the other 4 TOs were absolutely in the flow of the offense. Cut that number in half and I think UM wins this comfortably; they’ve been “lucky” the past couple of weeks that the opponents haven’t been able to really capitalize. I’m not saying Hoke needs to break out the duct tape, but the ball needs to stop hitting the ground or landing in other teams’ hands.
On the positive side, Wile booted 5 punts for an average of 42 yards, and Uconn nearly returned the punt turnover favor on Chesson’s big hit. So after last week’s Shankapalooza, it was nice to see UM even out the field position battle. Plus, Gibbons hit another FG, adding his name to another record.
Worst: Seriously, State of Connecticut?
I commented on the liveblog that apparently the University of Connecticut paid for the new seats they added to the stadium by diverting pay from groundskeeping, because that field was horrible. I’ve seen moderately-sized HSes with better turf, and it clearly affected both teams throughout the game. Coupled with the fact that the stadium is across from a Cabela’s and is 30 miles(!!) away from the main campus, and you can see why everyone except Connecticut’s AD was pushing for the game to be played at a bigger, better stadium. I get not every school will have the type of tradition and facilities as UM, but this is (in theory) the major state school in one of the richest states in the US; they should be able to provide a better gameday experience.
Best: Bye Week! Let’s All Get Excited!
Next week being a bye means I can finally get back to working…I mean doing work around the house…I mean spending more time with BronxBlueWife…I mean playing GTA V. Yeah, that sounds right.
In the week leading up to this game, the recognition that I might have to scramble to watch the game started sinking in, for I live in the blue portion of the dreaded ABC Game Map. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I bought ESPN GamePlan and didn't have to worry about missing any Michigan games. Then, ABC and ESPN invented the reverse mirror concept, and I didn't even have to buy GamePlan. And more recently, the Big Ten Network has almost assured me of seeing every UofM game in Los Angeles, which is amazing considering UCLA and USC are rarely on the air out here. An hour before the game, I consulted MGoBlog and looked into this, "streaming" idea. We get Verizon, so I was able to log into ESPN3. Let's just say I prefer ESPN 8, the OCHO. I tried that for 10 minutes, and after a frustrating hodge-podge of HD, LD, and ND (no definition, i.e., the screen would freeze up) I went to ESPN Gameplan and tried to order the single day coverage for $26. Perhaps a million frustrated M fans joined me in clogging up the GamePlan system, because it wouldn't let me purchase the game, so I went back to ESPN3. There has to be a better way. After sitting through a near repeat of the Akron game, I'm glad I didn't spend $26 on that.
NOT HD. <cr>We looked good in game 1, but CMU was missing their QB and top RB. We looked good against ND, but it's looking more and more like that was just an upset, or maybe ND's not that good either. Game 3 and Game 4 were struggles. A third of the way through the season, I think it's fair to start drawing some conclusions. This is a young team that is making the kind of mistakes that young players make. The frustrating (there's that word again) thing for me is that the schedule sets up perfectly for this team to win a lot of games. We play 4 ranked teams, only one of them on the road. And that road game is a veritable home game in the friendly confines of Chicago. But it's clear so far that we're still at least a year away. I could be wrong, the line could gel during the bye week, the turnover problem could magically go away, the wide receivers could learn how to run deep routes, the special teams could learn how to get out of the way of a punt. There's just so much improvement that needs to be made to be competitive with the upper ranks of the Big Ten. But at least we're 4-0, right? Wait, we are 4-0. Someone please tell me we're 4-0. So why does MGoBlue.com have us at 3-1 in the boxscore. I know it sure feels that way. Here's a screen capture of the boxscore before they fix the error:
It is an error, right? Oh Lord did that game give me a hangover, and I didn't even drink anything...
Burst of Impetus
* Time for a bonus link
The story starts with a graph showing a scatter plot of winning percentage versus turnover margin. The line fit roughly goes through 100% and +2, and -100% and -2. In the fourth quarter, Michigan was staring at a -4 turnover margin. Desmond Morgan made a great play, I guess, my internet connection was bouncing back and forth between LD and ND when the play was made. He picked off the pass and returned the ball 29 yards. Michigan converted and grabbed the momentum. If I remember correctly, he played some QB in high school. He showed why on that INT return. Morgan is becoming the leader of that defense.
Captain Morgan's Crew
* First off, an explanation. I know Morgan's not a team captain, yet, but I suspect he will be. I also have been watching Bar Rescue marathons on the Spike network, and so I've seen many, many Captain Morgan's commercials.
* I had titled this section, "Young 98," as an allusion to Vince Young, but after another shaky performance, we're down to just "young 98." It's worth remembering that even though he is a senior, he still has not started a season's worth of games at QB.
* Gardner was 11-23 passing for 97 yards. He tossed two INTs and no TDs.
* Gardner gained 106 yards, YAY, but lost 42, for a net of 64. His first step under pressure is almost always away from the line of scrimmage. That is something we've seen since his early days. He needs a QB coach to break that habit and get him to step up into the pocket, if his O-Line can actually form one for him. (Why am I so grumpy? Oh, yeah, 24-21 vs. UCONN.)
* A week after I suggested they ditch the option play and simplify the system for Gardner, he executed a beautiful option pitch, leading to one of Toussaint's TDs. Yes, the universe has conspired to humble me yet again.
20 Pound Cheeseburgers
* Toussaint was THE running attack from the RB position, with 120 yards on 24 carries. He scored 2 TDs and had a long of 35 yards.
* TEAM's three carries matched the rest of the non-Toussaint/Gardner combined carries.
V. Sinha Legends Jersey
* Nothing to see here, move along.
Norf and Dileo
* Dileo has taken over the punt return duties from Norfleet. America has a sad.
* I was hoping that was because they were going to involve Norfleet more in the offense. He did carry twice for 14 yards.
* I don't know if this team is lacking players, or lacking ways to get their playmakers involved. In the case of Norfleet and Dileo, I fear their talents are being wasted. That said, it's time for my new feature...
ST3's contrarian position of the week
* I think Borges actually called a good game. (/ducks) I think he's 3 for 4 so far this year, with the Akron game being the lone stinker. The problem with the Akron game is that it appeared he couldn't care less what kind of defense they were running. Let's go inside the boxscore on this game and look at the critical third down conversion stat. Michigan was 7 of 17, meanwhile, UCONN was 1 of 11. Let's look at some of the early third downs. On the second drive, we had 3rd and 1, and 3rd and 2. Gardner rushed for the first down on both plays. Later in the drive, on third and 12, Gardner ran again and ended up scoring our first TD. So my point is, Gardner rushing is one of our better (only? well, at least until Touss got untracked) options, and Borges dialed those up on the critical third down. Later in the game, he may have gone to the well once too many times, when we got stopped on 4th and 2, but if Devin had been more aggressive on that run, he would have made it. Then, after the Dileo punt return, with UCONN selling out against the Devin runs, Borges called a very safe pass play to Gallon on 3rd and 4. He had two WRs clear out the area for Gallon, who stopped just past the sticks. We eventually got down to the four, setting up Gibbons for a chip shot FG. Let's not forget that Gardner was 0 for 5 with an INT in the 2nd quarter. Had Borges continued to press the issue, Gardner might not have been able to recover to lead us in the 2nd half. Instead, Borges figured out what run plays were working, got Gardner back into somewhat of a comfort zone, and managed to get us a W in a game where we were -3 in TO margin.
* Is it too harsh of me to suggest that the ST coach might want to get his resume polished up?
* Fortunately for us, it was 4th and 7 when we ran into the kicker, not 4th and 5. The angle that Gedeon took was awful. It took him directly into the path of the punter. Who is teaching that? These ST players are mostly frosh and RS frosh, and probably as BMOC in high school, didn't play a lot of special teams.
* On our punt return fumble, someone has to be screaming, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!" Instead, Jones is trying to block someone and the ball bounces off his leg.
* Dileo's great punt return was brought back because another young kid made a mistake 25 yards from the play.
I'm an international umpire
* Penalties were 5-45 against us, and 6 for 70 against them.
* In addition to all the mistakes made by the younger players, Lewan had a holding penalty wipe out at 35+ yard run.
* For the second week in a row, I have no complaints with the refs. I must be getting soft in my old age.
UCONN'T be serious
* I don't like UConn's stadium. First of all, their turf looks like this:
Secondly, their mid-field logo stretches from one 30 to the other. That's disconcerting for me. I'm used to seeing a team reach the mid-field logo and thinking they've reached mid-field. You know, the 45 yard line. At UCONN, you've still got a long way to go even to get to the 50.
* The attendance 42,704. I'm pretty sure most Texas High School teams draw more than that.
* Yawin Smallwood led UCONN with 13 tackles. Hey Yawin, Ya-lose. But seriously, he played a heck of a game with 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, a pass breakup, and a sack.
* Their nose guard made 6 tackles and had 2 TFLs. Nose guards aren't supposed to make 6 tackles. I'm putting together a mock NFL Draft for next April, and so far, my first round has the 12 nose guards on our schedule.
* Last week I said I was delaying the 100%BLU anecdote until I was in a better mood. I'm beginning to realize, that time may never come, so on with the story. As I was perusing my "Early Fall 2013" copy of Michigan Alumnus magazine (a benefit of my Lifetime Membership to the Alumni Association, a gift from Mom and Dad upon graduating - a car would have been nice, but I'm not complaining) I read that UofM's School of Social Work is ranked #1 nationally. I mentioned earlier this season that Dad graduated with his MSW from UofM and Devin Gardner is currently in the School. The inquisitive reader might ask, what does one do with a degree from the nation's top School of Social Work? Let me share two University of Michigan-related items from Dad's career. 24 years ago (normal disclaimer about the accuracy of my memory applies) the Chinese Government reached out to the State of Michigan for help with their treatment of the mentally ill. The State of Michigan had some brutal budget cuts in the early 80's, forcing the closure of many State-run hospitals. They were somewhat successful in transferring institutionalized patients into less costly, community-based group homes. So the Chinese wanted to learn more about this cost-effective, more humane approach. Dad was working for the State Department of Mental Health at the time. He was tasked with organizing the trip. He reached out to a Professor of Chinese Studies at UofM, and together they planned the trip. They were in China for three weeks, visiting different areas. The professor recommended they visit Tainanmen Square, a very famous location. While they were there, students were protesting the Chinese government. One student got to talking with Dad. The student took off his bandana, gave it to Dad, and asked him to tell their story in America. One week later, the tanks rolled in. So that's my "Dad as Forest Gump" story.
Second story, if you'll indulge me, a few years later, Dad is putting together an educational video about the benefits of community living and group homes for the mentally ill. There are many levels or gradations among the mentally challenged. Some can function quite fine in society as long as they are given the right medication, or looked in on periodically. One such group home was a couple blocks from the Bo building on South Campus. Dad arranged for Chris Burke, the famous actor from the 80's drama, Life Goes On, to appear in the video. Knowing that I was a fan of the show, and was still on campus at that time, Dad called and invited me over to the location where they were filming. I got to meet Chris and his parents, and Dad took this photo (that's me on the right, in the - HORROR - red shirt and gigantic glasses, Brady would be sooo dissappointed in me.)
The B1G went a respectable 7-5 ATS last weekend; while Michigan did not obviously fare as well. Wisconsin is the only team left with a perfect record ATS.
|Michigan||-31.5||59-9 (CMU)||+18.5||-5||41-30 (ND)||+6||-37||28-24 (Akron)||-33|
|Ohio||-34||40-20 (Buff)||-14||-28||42-7 (SDSU)||+7||-13.5||52-34 (@Cal)||+4.5|
|Michigan St||-28||26-13 (WMU)||-15||-21.5||21-6 (USF)||-6.5||-23||55-17 (Young St)||+15|
|Indiana||-25||73-35 (Ind St)||+13||-12.5||35-41 (Navy)||-18.5||-2.5||42-10 (BGSU)||+29.5|
|Illinois||-17||42-34 (So Ill)||-9||+8||45-17 (Cinci)||+36||+10.5||24-34 (Wash)||+0.5|
|Northwestern||-6.5||44-30 (@Cal)||+7.5||-17||48-27 (Syr)||+4||-28||38-17 (WMU)||-7|
|Penn State||-8||23-17 (Syr)||-2||-28||45-7 (EMU)||+10||-4.5||31-34 (UCF)||-7.5|
|Nebraska||-31||37-34 (Wyo)||-28||-28||56-13 (S Miss)||+15||-1.5||21-41 (UCLA)||-21.5|
|Iowa||-3||27-30 (N Ill)||-6||-26||28-14 (Misso St)||-12||-1||27-21 (@Iowa St)||+5|
|Wisconsin||-44||45-0 (UMass)||+1||-45||48-0 (Tenn Tech)||+3||+7||30-32 (@AZ St)||+5|
|Purdue||+10.5||7-42 (Cinci)||-24.5||-17||20-14 (Ind St)||-11||+17||31-24 (ND)||+10|
|Minnesota||-13.5||51-23 (UNLV)||+14.5||-16||44-21 (N Mex St)||+7||-27.5||29-12 (W Ill)||-10.5|
Penn State is the big mover; the line has increased 7 points since the open. Indiana opened as the underdog, but the market has determined that game is a toss-up. We have our first B1G match-up with Purdue @ Wisconsin. Of course with a current spread 23.5 it doesn't really set off fireworks for the start of league play. Can Michigan recover and win by 3 TD's? They may be able to cover that O by themselves.
|Penn State||-14||-21||54||Kent St|
If MCalibur, or anyone else, has the missing O/U I'll update them as they come in.
The weekly six selects #6 from Akron over any Michigan folks this week
1. The Six Factors
|Field Pos||Early Conv||Bonus Yds||Avg 3rd Dist||Adj 3rd Conv||Red Zone|
|Offense||26.4 (48)||49% (42)||213 (31)||8.9 (95)||+6% (44)||2.3 (33)|
|Defense||32.7 (96)||50% (27)||172 (46)||4.0 (58)||-1% (21)||2.3 (16)|
Weekly numbers first, season national rank in ()
That certainly doesn’t look like a win. Mostly thanks to the pick-six, Akron’s field position would have given an average team a nearly touchdown win. Akron handily won the early downs, edging Michigan in early conversions and smoking us in third down distance. Michigan held an edge in adjusted third down performance. Michigan’s 213 bonus yards were a strong number, but coming into the game Akron was awful and the fact that they ended as close as they did to Michigan was a major black mark for the defense.
For the season Michigan finds itself without an elite metric on offense (now that the red zone streak was shattered) and only one bad one. Thanks to some rough early down rushes, Michigan’s typical third down has been nearly 9 yards.
On the defensive side there is more variance. Preventing early conversions, third downs and red zone have all been strong areas of success for the defense. Bonus yards and third down distance haven’t been as strong. They have also faced some challenging field position, almost in the triple digits in terms of their national rank.
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I hope we win this week, like a real Meeshigan win.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every week here at MGoBlog and on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out the Friday Fun, my weekly single panel comic based on trending Michigan events, available on Twitter and the home page every Friday.
this week's miniprogram: