Jack Miller, Devin Gardner, Jake Ryan
Devin, we ask you every week but do you feel like you’re getting closer to 100%? It looks like every time you take a big hit it aggravates it a little bit. Is that just part of the game?
DG: “Yeah, sometimes but I fell like I’m getting healthier and healthier. I’m just doing everything I can to contribute as much as possible.”
Talk about your ability to read defenses. Have you made progress in Nussmeier’s system would you say?
DG: “Yeah, I think so.”
In what sense?
DG: “All of it. Making reads and getting us in the right plays, things like that.”
Devin, is it frustrating at all because there’s times where it seems like you want to put your foot down and run but it doesn’t seem like it’s there?
DG: “Yeah, it’s always frustrating because of the type of player I am and what I’m usually able to do but you’ve got to find a way.”
How limited would you say you are feet-wise with your ability to run?
DG: “I’m getting better. I mean, I’ll see on Saturday.”
How much is that changing what’s called for you, because you can have audibles and you can make decisions but is it your decision that you’re maybe not going to push it in terms of getting out and scrambling or is it Nussmeier’s?
DG: “This past week I didn’t have to scramble much so luckily I didn’t need to.”
On that 10-yard run it looked like that was one you tried to take off on…
DG: “Yeah, I probably would have scored [last year] but I got the first down and that’s what the team needed and it kept the chains moving, so that’s the most important part.”
[More after THE JUMP]
When you’re grading film on Devin Gardner how much do the near-misses, the picks that maybe should have been, factor into that and how much do you talk about that?
“A lot. I mean, that’s always part of the evaluation. You want results but you’ve got to be process-oriented when you play the position. We’ve got to be on the right side of the field and have our eyes in the right place and our feet and timing and all that factors in, so any time we look at a pass play we look at all the factors that play into it whether it was a successful or not-successful play and why.”
Do you feel like you got away with a couple on Saturday?
“Well, I think there was a couple that I’m sure they felt like they should have had and obviously we look at it as well. Why were we there? Was it timing wrong or on the wrong side of the field, did we made a poor decision? The biggest thing is that goes back to communication and we talk all the time in our room [that] you’ve got to be open in communication because if I don’t know what he’s seeing then I can’t help him, so you’ve got to tell me what you see, what happened, what played out in your mind so now we can paint the real picture of what happened and get it corrected.”
How much extra does game performance count in terms of evaluation as opposed to practice? I’m thinking particularly in this instance of Drake Johnson.
“Well, I think obviously any time you play a game the goal is to play well and the best players in games are the guys you want to play. Now, that being said we evaluate practice every day. Guys challenge and compete and usually it’s very rare that you have a player that does not practice well that plays well.”
Does what he did give him maybe an extra look in terms of more snaps going forward?
“Well, I think that when you talk about Drake and what he accomplished it goes back to everything we talked about in the development of players and it’s kind of similar, it is very similar- I look back at where Derrick Green was at. We talked about right before he went down he had two very good weeks of practice and really kind of started to develop, and you look at Drake, once Derrick got injured the last two weeks he had two outstanding weeks of practice. Had the opportunity this week, did some great things, and [we’re] really excited about what he brings.”
To piggyback on what you were talking about earlier, how did Devin grade out? How would you evaluate him in that game?
“Devin did some really good things and he did some things we need to correct. Obviously 22/29, completed some balls, did some good things, two touchdowns, obviously the one interception we’d like to have back and there were a couple other decisions but he did some good things and he did some things that we corrected.”
[After THE JUMP: Talking about Drake, Darboh, and the Devins]
Basketball approaches. Save us, basketball.
Schlissel speaks. Mark Schlissel sat down with the Daily to talk about the future of the athletic department. Schlissel has mastered the executive's ability to talk without sending people running for the 72-point font, but there were some interesting bits in there. It seems like the timing here caught everyone off guard:
“I would imagine that we’ll begin the process of organizing a search in the coming weeks,” Schlissel said. “I can tell you with certainty I haven’t talked to anybody at all — no matter what you read in the media — about whether they’re interested in a permanent position here.”
It seems like the decision-making process was winding towards that mid-November date when things got accelerated. Not sure I like the overtones of "begin the process of organizing a search in the coming weeks." That sounds like an extended timeline, and Michigan has some pressing priorities.
Schlissel flat out admitted that the names being floated in the media are people he's "never heard of before," which again shows his refreshing ability to say "I don't know" but I hope doesn't extend to the Michigan guys—at this point you'd hope he had a handle on the Long/Manuel/Bates group. He also said the usual bit about how they're not going to focus exclusively on Michigan guys.
In a second article, Schlissel cited Brandon's resignation as a reason he couldn't say much about exactly what went down but did offer this:
"One thing I will say is I expect everybody who works at this public university to treat the public with respect,” Schlissel said. “That’s a sort of condition of working at this university.
“Everybody should be respectful to the public we serve.”
That's the general outline; I'll round up the AD chatter in a separate post.
A bit of a difference. Nebraska folk are looking at their schedule and that of various Big 12 teams and noticing that one is not like the other:
Let’s pretend that Nebraska stayed in the Big 12 and West Virginia never received an invitation. Let’s give NU the Mountaineers’ 2014 home conference schedule. Ready?
I don’t have enough exclamation points at my disposal for that list. I get pumped just thinking about it. That’s a schedule from paradise, full of teams with speed and skill (OK, not so much Kansas). Or maybe it just seems that way based on Nebraska’s rice-cake diet this fall. Ready? Are you sure?
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Look at those two schedules. Look at 'em! The latter looks like an old catcher's mitt. It must be a sick joke, right?
This really hits home when you look at the basketball schedules: single-plays everywhere, even less balance than previously. Bleah. If the league was as responsive to legit criticisms as individual schools were, Delany would get run out of town on the same rail Brandon's on. But he's got that insulation.
Chaos in Bloomington. The last time things got so wild in central Indiana, Lucy left the barn door open and one of the cows got stuck in a police car. In the immediate aftermath of a freshman hitting one of his own teammates with a car, while intoxicated, Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson have been hit with four-game drug suspensions. That brings the number of IU players involved in drug-and-alcohol-related incidents up to 6.
And guess which newspaper just hired the human molotov cocktail that is Gregg Doyel?
Firing Crean for his team's fifth alcohol-related incident in a year could be expensive.He has a $12 million buyout this year unless he's fired "for cause." Would nearly 40 percent of his roster -- five of 13 scholarship players -- being cited for alcohol-related offenses count as "for cause"? A judge might have to decide, if it gets that far. But if a fifth IU player is cited, then that's where it should go. Because the coach overseeing that program, I don't care how much I like the guy, would have to go.
Yep. The Indy Star. Dan Dakich, meanwhile, went off on his radio show:
"Gregg Doyel was dead on. Indiana players, you're getting ready to get your coach fired... I love Indiana basketball down to my core. It's who I am. But not this crap...
"When did you fans become so soft, become so accepting of mediocrity, promotion and crap?"
Sounds kind of like a blogger there.
It's funny because we suck. If we did not suck it would be somewhat less funny.
Something like injury information. Gardner is not right and it's obvious; he limped around to finish the Penn State game and is still hobbled:
After a play broke down in the second half against Indiana, Michigan's fifth-year senior quarterback tucked the ball near the 50-yard line and took off.
His mind said go, but his sore ankle wouldn't let him. He ended up rushing for a first down, but it was obvious things have changed.
"(A year ago) I probably would've scored," Gardner smiled Monday. "But I got the first down, that's what the team needed, it kept the chains moving."
Let's just put that on the pile then. Soon we will ski down Mount Devin Gardner Problems.
Please? The Hoover Street Rag points out that fixing the current schedule imbalance in the Big Ten East is not a difficult thing as long as 1) MSU is also amenable to that change and 2) IU doesn't care:
Since Indiana is in the East, both Michigan and Michigan State play them every season. Fortutiously, Indiana played MSU at home and Michigan on the road this year. Therefore, all you have to do is flip the Indiana game from a home game to an away game and flip MSU from an away game to a home game. Everyone still ends up with the same number of home and away games, and the bottleneck is cleared.
Current 2016 Schedule
UM at MSU, at OSU, vs IU
MSU vs UM, vs OSU, at IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU vs MSU, at UM, at OSU
Proposed 2016 Schedule
UM vs MSU, at OSU, at IU
MSU at UM, vs OSU, vs IU
OSU at MSU, vs UM, vs IU
IU at MSU, vs UM, at OSU
Seems like all three programs in the MSU/OSU/M troika would prefer to have one at home and one on the road for balance and ticket sales reasons.
Alert! Alarm! The word from Boston:
If I ran Boston College, I'd be worried about losing AD Brad Bates to Michigan
— Dan Shaughnessy (@Dan_Shaughnessy) November 4, 2014
Never! Mind! The word from Boston:
This is a big bowl of awkward.
Tommy Amaker is set to coach No. 12 seed Harvard against No. 5 seed Cincinnati in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday, and when the Crimson lose their next game, Amaker is gone. He’s Jacoby Ellsbury gone. Harvard’s loss will be Boston College’s gain.
BC hired Ohio coach Jim Christian instead. On the bright side for Shaughnessy, Jacoby Ellsbury was never found again.
Number one. Would you like a lot of quotes about Jim Hackett? Angelique has them for you:
"Number one, he's nice," Gilmour said. "Number two, thoughtful. Number three, clearly deep. … He is a thoughtful and organized person. And he may be the interim (athletic director) but he won't be a caretaker. He will be moving the athletic department ahead."
The Schiano rehabilitation project begins now. A long Pete Thamel piece on Peter Kings site finds Greg Schiano looking up at nothing in particular while exposing his teeth for reasons he doesn't understand.
I know that feeling of panic whenever someone points a camera at you and says "look like a human being," bro.
Anyway, Schiano makes breakfast, he is enamored with Urban Meyer's juice, he sings songs about chores to Red Hot Chili Peppers songs, he won't be an enormous Brandon to NFL scouts anymore, etc. Schiano's image was run through the woodchipper over his two years in Tampa and he's trying to be… well… that guy above instead of the guy who has his players go after people on a victory formation play.
(Also, what is that diagram? Is he demonstrating Notre Dame's last touchdown in 2011? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?)
Stuffing the Passer is now an animated comic strip, because of course it is.
News bullets and other items:
Hoke wouldn’t take any questions about Dave Brandon; he said he’d address that on Monday
Hoke seemed pleased with the defense with the exception of two drives. He said the defense lost their intensity on Indiana’s last drive.
Hoke attributed Drake Johnson’s success in part to getting increased reps with the second unit after Derrick Green’s injury
Jake Butt will rejoin the team for the Northwestern game
Devin Gardner is slowly recovering from his ankle injury, though Hoke said it limits the designed runs they can use
Hoke chose to kill the clock at the end of the first half because they had just thrown an interception and didn’t want to put the defense in a bad position, and they were getting the ball to start the second half
“It was good to see the kids, as hard as they’ve worked – I see that weekly. Some of you believe that, some of you don't but what I can tell you it they work their tails off every time we go to practice. They work their tails off as a group. They really are accountable to each other and that's important and that's the way they came out and played. Obviously we got some good performances from some guys that haven't played as much but part of that is due because, talking about Drake [Johnson] probably as much as anybody, he's got a lot of second reps now since Derrick [Green] went out. So I think when you look at it from that side of that we've always thought he was talented but he took advantage of an opportunity and did a heckuva job.”
I was going to talk about Johnson and Darboh. They had 122 and 170 yards, respectively. Can you talk about Darboh and his receiving today?
“Yeah, you know, Amara played a little bit as it as a freshman, a true freshman, and then sat out all last year but I think the confidence, and again, for both of them being in a system for the first time and then learning a little bit of a different system– they both are very talented, we believe. They both work extremely hard and it's nice to see those kind of kids when they get rewarded because of the hard work and what they do and Amara, you know we have Devin [Funchess] on one side and Amara on the other, it maybe opens up some things a little better.”
[After THE JUMP: evaluating the defense, what’s left to play for, and a couple of comments from players]
The pride of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
It's a new day. Sort of.
There was plenty to celebrate in the first Michigan game of the post-Brandon era. The Wolverines thoroughly dominated Indiana, more than doubling their total yardage and earning the team's first double-digit win since the Miami game.
Devin Gardner set a season high in passing yardage. Amara Darboh posted the best day of his career. So did Ann Arbor native Drake Johnson, who rushed for 122 yards and two scores in his first extended action at running back. The defense shut down the nation's leading rusher, IU's Tevin Coleman, and even forced a pair of turnovers.
There was plenty of bad that was familiar, too. Gardner tossed an ugly interception and narrowly avoided a pick-six when the game was still competitive. Brady Hoke bungled basic clock management at the end of the first half, robbing Michigan of a chance to score before the break. The Wolverines punted from the Indiana 43 on a fourth-and-short. And, of course, the entire game came with the caveat of facing an IU squad with a miserable defense and a depleted depth chart at quarterback.
Oh, and the announced attendance of 103,111 was met with a mixture of laughter and boos; perhaps the program sold that many tickets, but on a chilly afternoon in Ann Arbor, there certainly weren't that many seats filled.
On this day, though, the good should be the focus. With Jake Butt suspended for the game for a violation of team rules, reserve tight end Keith Heitzman was able to record his first career touchdown on an improvised shovel pass from Gardner (pictured above).
Injury also created opportunity in the backfield. With Derrick Green out for the season and De'Veon Smith in and out of the game with a dinged up ankle, Johnson got 16 carries—14 of them in the second half—and he salted away the game, playing kitty-corner from where he starred in high school at both football and track. Johnson, who'd seen mostly special teams duty in his time at Michigan, showed off that track-star speed by breaking multiple runs into the Indiana secondary.
Darboh broke the century mark on nine receptions, scoring from 12 yards on a hard-thrown post from Gardner to give Michgian a 17-0 lead that would stand as the halftime score. He and Devin Funchess combined to reel in 16 of Gardner's 22 completions; no other Wolverine had more than one.
The defense dominated an Indiana offense sorely missing injured quarterback Nate Sudfeld. They got some help from IU coach Kevin Wilson, as well. Wilson benched Tevin Coleman after he put the ball on the turf twice, losing the second on a recovery by freshman Bryan Mone. Indiana couldn't generate any offense without Coleman, who'd finish with a season-low 108 yards—must be nice—on 27 carries; his mark of four yards per carry was well below his season average of 8.8.
The Hoosiers also insisted on running much of their offense from the Wildcat, which Michigan had dead to rights for most of the game. Jake Ryan recorded 2.5 TFLs among his team-high 11 tackles; fellow linebacker Joe Bolden had two TFLs of his own as M repeatedly shot gaps into the IU backfield. Any hopes Indiana had of getting back into the game were dashed when Ryan Glasgow sacked IU QB Zander Diamont, stripped the ball, and came up with the recovery in the third quarter; Johnson got the corner for his first touchdown on the ensuing drive.
The final yardage read Michigan 404, Indiana 191.
Hoke refused to address questions about Dave Brandon's resignation in the aftermath of the game, and that felt right. Today was about the team on the field, and while the opponent wasn't a strong one, they were able to ignore this week's distractions and take care of business. That alone was an impressive feat.
10/25/2014 – Michigan 11, Michigan State 35 – 3-5, 1-3 Big Ten
Mark Dantonio is a crazy mofo. This is his great power: he can be offended at anything, forever. Mark Dantonio free-solos Mount Outrage every year. Michigan tried their damndest to not give him anything he could latch onto this time around, repeating the same praise over and over again until even the perpetually bored media noticed that this week's pablum was even more insipid than the usual business.
Then they put a thing in a field.
Fueling Dantonio's never-ending rage at the concept of Michigan is unwise but probably irrelevant. If hate moved spaceships Dantonio would be scowling at little green men circling Alpha Centauri instead of East Lansing. Dantonio is still pissed off at something Mike Hart said seven years ago; a dumb stunt with a railroad spike is a power mushroom when you're already big and skrong.
On the other hand, apologizing after is a pretty good summation of where both programs are. Michigan got the pounding everyone expected and then said "sorry for spoiling for field sir" as they slinked back home. Scott Farkus threw a snowball in our face and we apologized to him for being in the way.
Putting a thing in a field and then woofing about it isn't poor sportsmanship. We should know what poor sportsmanship is: punchin' people. Trying to hurt people. This series has seen plenty of that of late, on both sides. No one apologized after.
Apparently the standard for self-abasement has plummeted, though. So we get another statement. The latest in a never-ending series of PR gaffes. The chance anyone brings the spike thing up after the first round of LOL Michigan articles is zero, unless Michigan brings it up again. They of course do because Michigan refuses to learn Don Canham's first maxim—don't make a one-day story into a two-day story.
Thus more public emasculation for Brady Hoke. Dave Brandon seems to be deliberately trying to make his football coach look like the nation's most clueless goober. By the Maryland game he'll be wearing a beanie and a KICK ME sign. The crowning glory will be an Ohio Stadium weeping piteously at his imminent departure; Hoke will be dressed in nothing but a barrel and suspenders. The press conference afterwards will take place over a dunk tank.
I dunno man, I know this is some feelingsball right here but I can't help but think this is a big part of the problem. Hoke's response to the bullies asking him why he keeps hitting himself is "it's all in the statement." The team responds like their head coach. The man refuses to defend himself, either from his incompetent athletic director or his rivals laughing at him. The team gets plowed by the hint of adversity. Fight is almost totally absent.
When someone gets mad at your spike stunt, the correct answer is F--- YO COUCH. That is Dantonio's answer to everything. Would you like some baklava, Mark? F--- YO COUCH.
Michigan likes to talk about being a Big Boy. Before last year's Ohio State game Brandon said Michigan is "going back to hard-nosed, big-boy football." Whenever a journalist asks Hoke about the internet hordes clamoring for his head he says "it's a big-boy business."
You know who doesn't talk about being a big boy? Big boys*. People who talk about being a Big Boy wear short pants and ask their moms for a quarter so they can buy candy. Big boys don't look at yet another plate of crap and eat it with a sigh of disgust. At some point, big boys stand up for their dignity.
I don't see anything like that. I see the same mealy-mouthed coachspeak week after week, the same covering for his inept boss. Of course Dave Brandon's watching film with him.
Maybe that makes him a "great guy," as per the last possible defense of Hoke. I don't see it. He may be a nice guy; "great" at least requires you to have as much backbone as Ralphie in A Christmas Story.
*[Except Big Boi, who is contractually obligated to say his name several times per minute as per the Rappist Identification Act Of 1985.]
[After THE JUMP: not much, honestly.]