Jake Ryan, Jack Miller, Devin Gardner
Devin, as an in-state guy and your last shot at these guys, how much does this one mean to you?
DG: “It means a lot to me, but it means a lot to me every year so I’m just excited to get to the game.”
For Devin again, last year it was safe to say you got beat up pretty badly in the MSU game. Is there a mental hurdle that you have to clear yourself to get yourself prepared for this one?
For Jake: they have a pretty decent running game right now. Good wide receivers. How much have you and the defense talked about limiting the big plays [and] not allowing Langford to do what he does?
JR: “Yeah, that’s what our defense needs to do. Stopping the run’s been huge for us this year and we’ve got to keep on doing it. Lippett’s been a good receiver and we’ve got to shut him down.”
Devin, we were talking to coach Nussmeier and he said that he felt you made the biggest strides in understanding defenses this year. Talk about how that’s come about and the benefit of that for you.
DG: “I think it’s been really big for me, just being able to see what I need to see out there and it helps when you know where you want to go with the ball. You have to have an idea where you want to go with the ball, and he brought a lot of different coverages that we didn’t really know about and we didn’t really understand how they were played but we feel like we’re doing a good job of understanding now.”
Has that helped you a lot with pre-snap reads?
DG: “Yeah, definitely.”
[More after THE JUMP]
What’s it like seeing this rivalry from the other side? Obviously you’ve coached at Michigan State. What’s the view when you had never been a part of it before [at Michigan]?
“Well, it’s one of the classic rivalries in all of college football and I’m very excited to get the opportunity to be a part of it and I know our kids are very, very excited about the opportunity.”
When you were at Michigan State what was it like?
“Any time you play in a game, whether it be an in-state rivalry game or a conference rivalry game and some of them are out-of-conference rivalry games, the important thing is the focus on the game itself and you can get caught up and lost in the things that surround the game. Any time you’re on either side it’s about the players preparing. It’s about preparing them the best you possibly can and giving them the opportunity to be in the right situations to play well.”
Any of those games stick out to you from when you were there?
“I think any time you’re a part of these games they all stick out to you. Obviously probably the one that was played right here [Ed.- he’s referring to Braylonfest] was one that goes down as a great, great football game. Really was.”
They obviously play pretty good defense. Without giving away what you want to do, what are the key things that they do that you have to combat?
“Well, I think when you look at them they’re an outstanding defensive football team. They do a really good job of stopping the run and they get guys and they commit to the box and they do a really good job of tackling. They tackle well. You don’t see a lot of missed tackles. And then when you do have a play you see their ability to make an adjustment and take that play away, so I think that the biggest thing about the game is we have to understand the plan very well. We have to understand how they’re going to line up in the different blitzes and things that they’re going to try and approach us with, and then we have to execute.”
In the past Michigan has had a problem with Michigan State bringing linebackers through the A gap. I wonder if there’s a standard way of dealing with that or is that a pre-snap read the quarterback has to make or-
“Well, when you look at their base defense that’s one of their base blitzes that they run against everybody that they play against. One of the things it does [is] it creates obviously pressure on the interior of your line and pressure within the quarterback’s line of vision. A lot of people that run that- I don’t know their exact philosophy but it’s to create problems and pressure in the quarterback’s lap so he doesn’t feel like he has a real pocket to step up into so obviously it’s a blitz that’s part of their base package and something that we’ll prepare for.”
[After THE JUMP: Why were the MSU coaches covered in glass after the ‘04 game and some strategy talk]
News bullets and other items:
Devin Gardner fully participated in practice last night and should be ready to start against MSU
It sounds like Jabrill Peppers may have been a part of that practice
Hoke really likes Michigan State’s offensive balance [Ed.- they’re ~ 40/60 pass/rush]
Hoke’s recipe for road success: “Don’t turn the ball over. Get turnovers.”
Hoke thinks bye weeks are good for healing injuries and not good when coaches tinker with systems too much. He prefers getting back to a team’s identity after self-scouting. He again says the identity they want is as a team that runs the ball.
He likes how they’ve prepared and how hard they’ve worked
They had a good practice
“Number one, thanks for coming. This is an exciting week. The bye week I think was good for us. I think it's a benefit. Get some guys healthy. There's bumps and bruises. We've been at it since August and we are pretty competitive and pretty physical with what we do, so four weeks of camp and seven straight weeks, I think it came at the right time. You're able to rest some guys and I think that's a big part of it, and at the same time you're able to get some guys who are right on the line that you might depending on how you get beat up or bumped along you may have some other guys that have to get in there and represent.
This is a great rivalry and a great rivalry in a lot of ways. Obviously we have three great rivalries – two great rivalries, but the passion on both sides of either green and white or maize and blue, I think that passion you see, you hear, and you feel. We are playing the defending Big Ten champs who deserve that and have played very good football during the year on both sides of the ball. Going out to Eugene is their only loss and that's a difficult place to play. You’re three times zones different and you're also playing in a pretty hostile stadium that can get pretty loud.
I think offensively, I think Michigan State [is] very balanced. I would think knowing Mark [Dantonio] he would feel very good offensively what they're doing from that balance standpoint. I think Connor Cook continues to impress and improve. You look at Langford and how he's improved and Nick Hill I think has emerged too back there in the backfield. Lippett I think has played like the best receiver in this conference I think when you see the big plays in big games that he's made.
Turnover margin; we’re [on] two opposite spectrums. They’re +11, I think we’re -13 and turnover margin in pro football, college football, high school football, Peewee football, whatever football there is out there is a big part of who wins and who loses and we've obviously got to do a better job of creating. The last two weeks we've done a better job of taking care of the football but that's got to continue.
As far as the bye, we got out Tuesday and Wednesday of last week. Had a practice last night which was a Tuesday practice for us and was very good, very physical. It was good to get out there again. Like the timing because that's one thing you always worry about and I thought our timing was sharp. I thought the execution on both sides of the ball was pretty good. We got a long way to go though, so… that's the longest I've ever given you an opening statement. I just hadn't seen you in a long time.”
Is there a downside to a bye week? You hear a lot of talk about upside but I wonder if there’s downside.
“You know, I think they're probably have been. I can try to go back and think over the years as an assistant and then as a head coach. We had a bye one year at Ball State [where] we were playing really good and then we didn't play so good the next time out. One thing that we've always tried to do is the speed that you play with, the efficiency with the sharpness, the quickness and if you can get that… The other part is the communication that your team needs to have. That's the only way I know how to judge it. I was very pleased with what we did last night because we were in full pads and we compete against each other all the time. Obviously you’ve got some things you're working on [for] your opponent but it was more about us competing against each other.”
[After THE JUMP: rivalries, edge, attitude, underdogs, gamblers]
FORMATION NOTES: Another very gun-heavy outing for Michigan, with nothing particularly unusual about the way they lined up. Penn State spent most of the game in a straight 4-3 of various varieties. Late they went to an eagle front for a couple plays:
Note that Miller has guys to both sides of him. That erases any chance Michigan can double on the interior and exposed Miller to a DT he could not deal with physically. Michigan responded to this with a pin and pull that worked on the next play.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: No Magnuson still, so line still Cole/Glasgow/Miller/Kalis/Braden. Jake Butt seems to be getting as much time as he would have without the knee injury by now; Williams still hanging on to quite a bit of PT in Hill's absence.
At RB it was all Hayes/Smith with Green sidelined; WRs were as per usual with a little bit of Canteen.
[After THE JUMP: struggling forward.]
So this happened.
We need a Holtz/Norfleet mashup.
Penn State fans: aim before firing. See, this is a fanbase that's overreacting:
— Toyota Jackson (@PancakeCatapult) October 12, 2014
Year one, sanctions finally biting deeply, coach made Vanderbilt competitive. Let's stone him!
We are fulfilling our responsibilities as an internet website under provision 6 of the Norfleet Atomic Dog Act of 2560. Via Melissa Storch:
We misattributed the source of the Norfleet GIF in One Frame At A Time; this is the original.
INJURIES. Michigan has an implausible number of them. Remember when we thought Hoke was lucky? Funny thing about that. Water finds its level. Gardner was in a boot after the PSU game, but that seems like a precaution more than anything since the guy was on the field. He's got a well-timed bye to rest up before… another bye? Let's go with that.
Speaking of injuries, we have confirmation that Gardner was playing on a broken toe last year:
"Devin's leadership has been outstanding," Hoke said Saturday night. "He played a year ago with a broken toe for half the game (against Ohio State). You know he's got a toughness to him.
Everyone knew this; Michigan insisted on pretending otherwise.
Well played, headline guy? He didn't say the thing that is implied here:
Brady Hoke asked about being at Michigan in 2015, says he's not focused on that
"I'm focused on Heartstone, mostly."
Kelley prepares the players for chaos. Pulaski lives in created chaos - their job is to inoculate their players to its effects and let the other team drown in it. That's what the conventional analysis of Kelley's approach doesn't understand - the Pulaski defense fully EXPECTS that they're going on the field with the opponent inside their territory several times in a game. It's how they play. Your panic is their comfort zone. It's just another day at the office. …
Their guys are mentally tougher than yours because they always play in the fringes of chaos - they're experts in weirdness. You're playing weird just one week. They're veterans of weird outcomes and know that leads with time on the clock either way mean nothing. Just keep playing.
We probably shouldn't hire the guy who never punts. But Kelley is an interesting guy who questions the basic assumptions of football in the same way Beilein did coming up what with his 1-3-1 zone and ALL OF THE SHOOTERS lineups. The burgeoning conventional wisdom that you should strive to shoot threes and layups and nothing else was the moneyball that got Beilein to the top of the ladder and there are guys out there who are doing the same in football now. We just don't know which thing is the thing.
Michigan should be looking for the most interesting plausible mind.
So here's Dan Mullen doing things. Mississippi State has a 6'5" linebacker headed for the early rounds of the NFL draft. How did that happen? Via the Caris LeVert method:
But then, to hear his coach tell it, McKinney’s emergence from obscurity had nothing to with odds, gambling, or catching lightning in a bottle. To Mullen, it’s all in a day’s work. “I don’t look at where they are today. My mind is, ‘Where are they going to be three years from now?’” Mullen told me. “Here’s a 6-foot-3, 210-pound high school quarterback who hasn’t played a lot of linebacker. But you talk to him and you realize he has toughness. And he can run. And you get him in the weight room, and he grows an inch and a half — which you can’t control — and he becomes a 250-pound athletic linebacker who can play at the next level.” …
“I’ll tell a kid sometimes, if he’s not rated very highly [by the recruiting services], ‘Hey, we have you rated higher than that,’” Mullen said. “If he’s got two stars beside his name, that’s even better. Because in my evaluation, he’s not that player.”
Mississippi State has systematically found guys who exceed expectations in the same way John Beilein has, and he's deployed them to maximum effectiveness. There hasn't been anything fluky about Mississippi State's rise, and that's why anyone with a job opening will be blowing up his agent's phone for the next couple months.
The NFL does not exist. That's the approach Michigan should be taking here. When Penn State grabbed Bill O'Brien, Brian Bennett wrote up a piece on guys who had made the NFL-to-college leap. I'm going to cut out everything and just list the names in the article:
- Bill O'Brien
- Charlie Weis
- Ron Turner
- Bill Callahan
- Tim Brewster
- Kirk Ferentz
- Al Groh
- Pat Hill
- Pete Carroll
- Mike Sherman
- Dave Wannstedt
So you've got Carroll, who is in the 99th percentile of hey dude energy, Kirk Ferentz, a guy who went back to the NFL after two years, and fail fail fail fail fail. Oh and Pat Hill, who had a good run at Fresno.
The best coaches in college football are all college guys. The NFL does not exist.
Mullen speculation will be constant. Spencer Hall thinks that there might be a bit of a rift between Mullen and Florida AD Not Dave Brandon:
WE THINK DAN WOULD BE FINE BUT DOESN'T REALLY GET ALONG WITH FOLEY REPORTEDLY DOT COM. It's a nice idea to want Dan Mullen as Florida's head coach, but there are a few problems with this. Like for instance--
--fine, fine, just get the damn checkbook and paperwork. Get it now. YOU GO RUN AND GET THAT DAMN CHECKBOOK RIGHT NOW, FOLEY.
So there's that.
LeVert, profiled. DX scouting report:
If I was a college coach I'd have the "weaknesses" music on cue to blast whenever one of my stars lived up to one.
Furman, ascendant. Remember Josh Furman bolting for Oklahoma State in the offseason? Not really, because he seemed like a meh player? Well:
How’s this for help: Furman, with a fifth sack Saturday, through six games has more sacks than any Cowboy’s produced in a season since 2011. He forced a fumble to go with his pick against Kansas, adding just another solid performance to his building resume that would put him on a short list of contenders for OSU Most Valuable Player at the midway point.
“Yeah, I’d hate to think where we’d be without him,” Spencer said.
He is a "star" linebacker akin to the S/LB hybrids OSU rolls out on the regular; think a senior version of Stevie Brown.
Insert Balotelli WHY ALWAYS ME shirt here. Jon Chait (no polo) on football's concussion/health panic:
he same organization cited by Time found that, over a 30-year period, football is not a uniquely deadly sport for high-school athletes. It is not even the deadliest sport. High-school football has a fatality rate of 0.83 per 100,000 participants. This is actually lower than the rates of boys’ basketball (0.92), lacrosse (1.00), boys’ gymnastics (1.00), and water polo (1.3). There were three heartbreaking deaths of high-school football players last week, each of which attracted wide media coverage the way that tragic low-frequency events often do. But the unusual cluster of unfortunate deaths does not indicate a broader trend any more than the crash of an airliner signals an increasing danger associated with air travel.
Chait also follows up with a response to a guy who is a crusader against barbarism.
It might be more maize? Usual disclaimers about photo coloring apply but MVictors caught a reshoot of Devin Funchess on the program cover that strongly implies that Michigan has moved away from the highlighter yellow this year:
Since cover shots for the game programs of the players were shot before the season, they had to re-shoot Funchess in the #1 jersey:
1. Notice Funchess has the 2014 helmet with the block M nosebumper.
2. Notice the striking difference in maize tone in the wings that was cited earlier this season between the 2014 and 2013 helmets.
And while we’re on the topic of game programs…again—I wish they’d get creative here—do somethingbeyond just players standing there posing!
Those are likely to be in controlled conditions so I think it's for real. Small mercies.
The mood from an outsider's view. Excellent Michigan blog with bizarre color scheme Eleven Warriors had a correspondent take in the threatening-cow-rubbing affair on Saturday. The pulse:
Michigan is not broken, nor is it going anywhere at any point in the near future. Though the current caretakers aren't living up to the high standards heaped upon them, the likelihood of the program as a whole sliding toward eternal mediocrity is unlikely. With hundreds of thousands of living alumni, the tradition of "Michigan" is bigger than any one person.
I'm considering a piece about the "lack of local fan support," per Gameday, and the finger-wagging about how Michigan fans need to get behind the program. We're behind it; we're just thinking about more than the next few game.
Rick Pitino says Louisville is at a disadvantage recruiting because they're an Adidas school. SBN CEO Jim Bankoff talking media stuff is worth a read. Nerds are being adopted by hockey. Defense every snap.
Michigan's run by a guy who only sees the next spreadsheet.
News bullets and other items:
- Ondre Pipkins was dealing with “something” and should be back soon
- Willie Henry was dressed but didn’t play; he’s injured
- Hoke said any of the dressed QBs could have played, but read between the lines re: Morris and being injured
- Devin Gardner had a boot on his left foot after the game but said he’d be ready to go against Michigan State
- We talk about injuries a lot for not talking about injuries
- Penn State broke away from their tendencies in the first half. Hoke praised Mattison and the defensive staff for adjusting before the second half.
- Hoke again praised Matt Wile’s kicking and Devin Gardner’s leadership
“It was- obviously it’s always good to win. We’ve had some tough times and tough weeks but the resiliency of our football team, the resiliency how they go about every day in practice and the hard work that they put in paid off. It wasn’t pretty at time but I don’t know if anything’s pretty all the time and what they did, though, is they played together, they stuck together.
“We had some guys who were banged up obviously, and that’s just part of football. If you’re not banged up then you’re really not playing, but we’ve got guys who are tough. We’ve got guys who understand what it is to play as a team and play for each other and play for Michigan, and I’m excited about for them as much as anything [that] they stuck together.
“Also, the environment, the crowd; there’s no place better in this country when you have a game like this than Michigan Stadium. I can tell you our kids, they feel it. They feel it when those people are there cheering for them, and those students that were there, the former players coming back and supporting those kids; you don’t get that at a lot of institutions or maybe any institutions like you do at Michigan. Very excited for our kids. We’re going to enjoy it and then we’ll get back to work next week on Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Could you talk about the play of the defense in the second half, and then the winning plays at the end there?
“You know, I think a couple things: Penn State had a week off and as most teams do, you have a week off [and] you start looking at tendencies. You start looking at things that maybe have patterns to [them]. The first half they broke some tendencies that they had, so I think Greg and the staff defensively did a great job at half time. I think our kids had a will, and they willed themselves to keep going and it was pressure on the quarterback with a four man, three man rush that really worked out pretty well and maximum coverage. And part of that is that he has to hold the ball a little longer, and we got off the field on third downs which in the first half we really didn’t as much.”
We all saw Devin [Gardner] pacing the sidelines and grimacing and looking like he wasn’t going to get back in. Talk about him coming back in the game and what he showed you and what he gave you.
“Well, Devin’s leadership has been outstanding, and he played a game a year ago with a broken toe for half the game so you know he’s a got a toughness to him. He is turning in, through his maturation process and everything else, into a tremendous leader. He was cheering the defense on when they were out there and he just wants to compete and play and the trainers said, ‘Yeah, he can go.’”
[More after THE JUMP]