spoiler alert: i linked this
The last walkoff goal line stand. Via Wolverine Historian, Illinois 1982:
Health bits. Rudock should play Saturday. Smith's having issues, he will continue to have issues, he has an injury you can play through but always hurts and won't stop hurting until the offseason.
Excellent, responsive, transparent. The athletic department surveyed 4,500 season ticket holders and is releasing that information over the next couple weeks. I love that. It shows the department is listening to fans and allowing us to talk about the data they gathered in public. That is something I've wanted them to do for a long time. So:
Question 4: Did you enjoy the balance of piped-in music and band during the game (not including pregame or halftime)?
• It was a perfect balance (43%)
• Would prefer a lot more band, a lot less piped-in music (20%)
• Would prefer a little more band, a little less piped-in music (28%)
• Would prefer a little more piped-in music, a little less band (6%)
• Would prefer a lot more piped-in music, a lot less band (1%)
• Didn't care (3%)
That's about a 50/50 split between people who think the music is fine and those who want it toned down. (I am obviously in the 20% group.)
I'm disappointed with this answer:
Question 3: How would you rate the overall video board presentation (highlight videos, replays, prompts, information, etc.)?
• Excellent (49%)
• Good (44%)
• Fair (6%)
• Poor (1%)
Alas! Have I not yelled about pore-o-vision sufficiently to move the mass of public opinion?
I'll say this much for Dave Brandon. He didn't land Michigan in a congressional report about how many of the military patriotism events at sport events are bought and paid for. The NFL, of course, is the biggest offender here, but Wisconsin, Indiana, and Purdue are the college programs that managed to show up. In those teams' case they seem to be selling a bunch of game tickets to their local National Guard units, which 1) is not a good use of taxpayer dollars and 2) in the case of Indiana-Purdue football is just not nice to our military reservists.
But mostly it's just NFL teams taking millions of dollars to pretend like they care about anything other than millions of dollars. Which is the best! It is infinite NFL.
Speaking of things we aren't getting paid for. Flyover this weekend:
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) November 5, 2015
The answer is "most deserving." Chris Brown asks what the goal of playoff rankings should be:
What criteria should we use to determine who gets the title?
One answer is that the champion should be the season’s “best team,” possibly defined as the best overall team or the team we think would be favored to beat every other team on a neutral field. Another answer is the “most deserving team,” loosely defined as the team that produced the best overall season. These two things are not always the same. It’s perfectly possible for the best team — i.e., the most formidable — to lose a close game or even two on a bad kick or a fluke play, while another team runs the table by winning close games.
Alabama lost a game to Ole Miss in which they had an avalanche of fluky turnovers and this happen to them:
That doesn't really impact my opinion about how good Alabama is. I think they're better than Ole Miss, probably a lot better. But that is just, like, my opinion, man. Once you start talking about "best" because team X has fancy S&P stats or a bunch of NFL first rounders you lose the reason we even play the damn fluky thing that is football. You play to win the game. Bama didn't win.
Now, in a sport like college football you can't just add up wins and losses and call it a day. Schedules are imbalanced and short. Style points have to come into play because a lot of teams will have similar records. A 58-0 blowout of a team should matter more than a 21-20 win. But once you start looking at the why you start eroding the fundamental reason I should care about, say, a one in a million punt drop disaster.
Moving the game to a Vegas-style "eh, don't care about results" model is not good for the sport and is fundamentally a guess that football keeps proving us wrong about, and thus we should dump why and how from playoff rankings in favor of a deeply researched take on what.
I demand a Drake Johnson television show. He killed it at his press availability oh and also
@DRAKEington So does this mean you can Fus Roh Dah opposing linebackers?
— Helios Eusebio (@MGoPhoenix) November 3, 2015
Skyrim bartering is bad but I'll allow it.
On that one site with all the liars. Hey. So Chatsports just lies about things, all the time, in search of traffic. Don't pay attention to them. This was Georgia QB commit Jacob Eason's dad in the aftermath of another Chatsports fiction piece:
The “story” that came out yesterday about him contacting multiple schools really struck a nerve.
Tony Eason called me on Wednesday morning and he was not happy about it.
“Who the h$#** is Marc F&%*% and where did he get that Bull Sh$%$# story at?”
Marc Furballson is the updated nom de plume of Ace Williams. If you post a chatsports link to the message board we will delete all your points. AND THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO
They won't listen. Mike Freeman on Harbaugh availability:
I asked one general manager about Jim Harbaugh returning to the NFL. His response: "He's going to have at least six teams come after him. He'd be able to have any open job he wants." The GM didn't name the teams, but it's not hard to figure out who some of them will be.
Then, the general manager said some NFL teams have already reached out to Harbaugh's camp to see if he'd be available once the season ends. Those teams, the GM explained, weren't told just "no." They were basically told "no freaking way."
Harbaugh isn't going anywhere.
Not that you needed to be told that.
I get it. Bruce Feldman on the Minnesota job:
Hearing more & more this week that there is a lot of key support for interim HC Tracy Claeys is keep the #Minnesota job full-time.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 5, 2015
For one, they don't even have an AD right now. Getting a new coach without a permanent AD is going to be very hard unless you have a Harbaugh; Minnesota doesn't. For two, cheap. For three, this is not a job market Minnesota particularly wants to be in, and you can make a long-term decision on Claeys after a year or two since there should be staff continuity.
Heavier now. MVictors went back and found the average weight of Michigan's starters since the beginning. After a plateau to start weights have crept upwards at a near-constant rate for around 100 years:
Things have leveled off a little bit since the 1990s.
Etc.: Rainman previewed. Dylan Larkin is good at hockey /weeps about last season. Exit Frank Beamer, real good dude. Bill Daley remembered. Rutgers blog is doing a 68-coach bracket to determine who their next dude should be and John Baxter makes a play-in game. Spike profiled. Blake O'Neill and a small child. More of a medium child, actually.
Nebraska's athletic director is… working on extension? That's one way to approach things. Things are going down at Georgia. Chaos there helps Michigan with Isaac Nauta and Mecole Hardman. OSU/M tickets next year will be expensive, still under demand.
RIP Ufer. Via Dr. Sap, rembrances of Bob Ufer on Michigan replay, 1981:
Also Harbaugh on Ufer:
"When there was an away game, we'd just gather around the radio and listen to it. Roll around, jump around on the furniture," Harbaugh recalled Monday during his radio show. "And I had a record, too. I had a Bob Ufer record, a vinyl record. John, my brother, had a stereo and I would listen to that almost every night before I went to bed.
"His calls of the game were just so awesome."
Well, yeah. PFF on Jourdan Lewis:
Jourdan Lewis owns the top PFF cornerback grade at +15.9. Opposing quarterbacks have posted a quarterback rating of 36.1 when targeting Lewis. In addition, Lewis has allowed only 18 receptions on 51 targets and leads the nation in passes defensed with twelve (the second place CB has eight). Lewis passed a major test in this last week’s epic game against Connor Cook (+26.1) and the CFF fifth ranked passing offense, Michigan State Spartans (+47.5). Lewis was also just named as a finalist for the 2015 Jim Thorpe award which goes to the top defensive back in the county.
They also have a list of the best-performing wide receivers on their college home page; Lewis's foe in the epic one-on-one battle last Saturday is at the top of the list. MSU is an interesting combination of very good players and very bad ones.
Minnesota incoming. Jerry Kill was just forced to retire, of course, and now Gopher fans are like… uh… what now?
The good news: Tracy Claeys, the new interim head coach, and the coaching staff have been through this before -- sort of. Back in 2013 when Kill stepped aside midseason to deal with his health, Claeys took over as interim head coach and led the Gophers to four straight Big Ten wins. This situation is a bit different, as Claeys is no longer keeping the ship afloat until Kill returns -- Kill is not coming back. So the good news is that I don't expect Claeys to be in over his head. This staff has been together too long to fall apart now, and they're well versed in how to handle adversity.
The bad news: This final stretch of games is brutal. Injuries have ravaged the depth chart. You've got a roster of players who've now lost their head coach. The future of the coaching staff is uncertain. The cloud of a Title IX investigation and the search for an athletic director hang over the university. In what has been a disappointing season, this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is possible that the Gophers will play inspired football the rest of the season to honor their former head coach and pull off enough wins to become bowl eligible. But it is also possible that the Gophers' misfortunes continue with a streak of five more losses to end the season.
Unless Minnesota seriously outperforms expectations they will be facing a choice between promoting an interim on a team that didn't do so hot and trying to find a coach in one of the most competitive hiring markets in the history of college football without an athletic director. Hopefully they've got a Jim Hackett hanging around; more likely what that means is that Claeys is going to get the job even if that doesn't end up seeming like the best idea.
Mike Leach FTW. Leach on time of possession:
One stat a number of coaches have railed against for years is time of possession. Some still point to it, but many don’t anymore. With the rise in tempos, it becomes irrelevant.
“The biggest waste of time is time of possession,” Leach said. “What’s interesting to me is that was the national obsession for decades. Now, it’s viewed more of a waste of time. It probably took 50 years for that to happen.”
It's not quite dead yet. Leach also rails against the NCAA applying sacks against rushing attempts. Preach, Mike Leach. Preach and beat Stanford this weekend to throw the Pac-12 into complete chaos.
The new guy. The news has started using Tony Paul as their everything beat writer—equestrian is coming right up—and part of his gig led him to track down people who know recent 2017 basketball commit Jordan Poole:
“Yeah! If you have a coach who is just like, ‘If you’re open, shoot it,’ why not?” Poole said. “If the coach is telling me to shoot, he does not have to tell me twice.
“That’s what really caught my attention as a player.”
It's a fit.
Here is an 80 yard punt by Blake O'Neill. I clipped this for UFR and then forgot about it and frankly I'm just putting it here so that for next year's season preview when I go all rapture mode on John Baxter I can find it:
This has been "Brian puts something on the internet so he can Google it later." You're welcome.
Etc.: ESPN has comments? Pete Carroll is promoting a rugby-style tackle for all levels of football. Interesting adaptation. DJ Wilson speaks. Jarrod Wilson, pleasantly boring. Derrick Walton back. The Bentley treasure trove opens.
two gentlemen who won't be on the bench much this season [Patrick Barron]
Incoming: the other thing we're excited about. We taped a basketball preview podcast this weekend and Ace and Alex will be rolling out season preview stuff pretty soon. Media day also transpired. MAAR:
"If he can become an excellent defender on this team then there will always be minutes for him," Beilein said.
MAAR also has to settle down and finish when he gets to the rim, which he does a lot of. Hard to see him getting a ton of minutes this year; equally hard seeing him get a redshirt since he has skills that aren't common on the roster.
At 6 feet, 10½ inches, Wagner is learning the four and five positions in Beilein's system. That involves banging on the blocks. It requires physical play. It demands fighting for rebounds and manning up on defense.
As of now, despite Wagner climbing from 211 pounds to 225 since arriving at Michigan, that's difficult to imagine. It might look like one of those dancing inflatable tube men stuffed inside a phone booth.
"He just hasn't shown that physical ability to rebound yet, but he will," Beilein said. "He's really a talented young man. As I'll tell you every time, (when he plays) you'll say, 'Wow, that was awkward,' and he will be awkward. Then a minute later, you'll say, 'Oh my goodness, did he just do that at 6 feet, 10½ inches?'
Wagner sounds like he's headed for a redshirt. Also he lives for Chipotle. And is six feet ten and a half inches tall.
Kenpom updates. Kenpom has updated itself with preseason rankings. Its exact sauce is secret, but the system takes into account recent performance, returning players, and recruiting rankings. The Big Ten:
- 9 Wisconsin
- 13 Indiana
- 17 Michigan
- 18 Michigan State
- 22 Purdue
- 24 Maryland
- 36 Iowa
- 42 Ohio State
- 51 Northwestern
- 61 Illinois
- 66 Minnesota
- 119 Penn State
- 137 Nebraska
- 223 Rutgers
Well done, Rutgers.
None of that is a surprise given the way I've seen the thing work. Wisconsin is being given credit for being very good the past few years; Kenpom looks at the Michigan roster and is like "tell me more." Then it looks at the Big Ten and is all like "dunno": it projects nobody better than 12-6 and has 8 teams within two games of winning the league.
Meanwhile M's nonconference schedule has no middle. They've got four opponents ranging from 23rd to 41st (SMU, Xavier, UConn, NC State) plus a couple TBD opponents who will probably be good in their tournament. Then they have six nonconference opponents Kenpom ranks 240th or worse. Woof.
It's jug week. So you know MVictors is fired up. On the 1903 game:
Speaking of the Armory – We know now that Minnesota equipment man Oscar Munson found Michigan’s water jug inside the Armory a day or 2 after the game, and, we know that Athletic Director L.J. Cooke suspended the jug above his office in the Armory from 1903 to 1909:
Quoting Coach Yost: Before the game a Minnesota man asked him, “Are you going to beat us?” “Well, that’s what we came up here for,” replied Yost. “It will be a great game, and probably a close game. Minnesota has been playing better football than any team in the west this year…if we win this, we win the championship.”
…Tauntings: The Minnesota band entered the field before the game led by a donkey, and, ahem, “the animal wore trousers of Michigan colors.” [They didn’t get those pants from Moe’s.] When the Michigan second team players arrived they were greeted with a rousing chorus of “Poor old Mich” by the Gopher Fans.
The Daily Gopher also has jug miscellanea for your reading pleasure.
The next guy, probably/maybe. For no particular reason I spent a chunk of this weekend looking for John O'Korn clips out. Weird experience, that. A game against Rice from his freshman year demonstrates his promise:
There is some dumb freshman stuff in there; there are also a half-dozen throws to make you go "whoah." Against BYU the next year he was middling at best, though his receivers went out of their way to avoid catching the ball, and then against UCF he was in full Hackenberg mode, turfing about every other screen and getting benched for the duration of the season.
O'Korn is about as far away from Rudock as you can get without leaving the "pro style quarterback" designation: a wild, big-armed gunslinger. There's a lot for Harbaugh to work with there; there's also a long way to go. O'Korn's been rooming with Rudock in an apparent effort to get him more towards the middle of the continuum:
Mastrole said O'Korn is benefiting from living with Rudock, a student of the game and devoted to watching film.
"I'm glad the two of them are rooming together," Mastrole told The Detroit News recently. "John has off-the-charts physical intangibles, and he's a very smart kid. He's going to pick up things and he's observing Jake." …
"He had some turmoil last year but now he's sitting (this season) and learning a lot," Mastrole said. "Jake has been a good fit for him."
I think the word you were looking for there is "tangibles," but I could care less.
That Miami is open. One of the most fascinating jobs in college football is now available for a special someone. That person will have to be a special someone indeed, as Stephen Godfrey and Bud Elliott detail:
Godfrey: I don't know Florida like you do, but I've talked to enough people in the industry to understand the unique problem in Coral Gables. The one thing Luke said that stuck with me the most is how Miami wants to sell "SWAG" on a t-shirt and then recruit and behave in the exact opposite manner. You can't do both.
Bud: You need someone who can relate to the culture at Miami. Golden's "unity overcomes the adversity" slogans were so lame. That is not how these kids are coached when they start in little league. You need someone who relates, who can inspire them. But the administration seems to prefer more of the milquetoast Golden type.
Godfrey: And in 2015, you can't expect the famous Howard Schnellenberger strategy of fencing off "The State of Miami" to compensate for the lack of money and support. Kids in Dade County are uploading highlight clips to Instagram when they're in middle school. Digital film is the biggest change to the recruiting landscape in the last decade, diminishing the local colleges' advantage of identifying prospects before out-of-town schools can. This new hire must be someone for whom local players want to play.
Al Golden, a Penn State alum whose biggest success came at Temple, was as bad a cultural fit as Rich Rodriguez was at Michigan. And Miami is one of the few programs in the country where that "fit" thing looms even larger than it does in Ann Arbor.
This is why Butch Jones, a 63-year-old who hasn't coached since 2010 because he was run out of town by the NCAA, is currently the internet polling favorite at the SB Nation Miami blog. Culture is super-important (and fans on the internet are crazy).
As a result of that and Miami's notorious lack of funding you can probably dump most of the most attractive names on Bruce Feldman's comprehensive list of candidates. (One that includes Jedd Fisch, FWIW.) Tom Herman and Justin Fuente don't have local connections and are going to be pursued by schools with bigger pocketbooks. Dana Holgorsen ($2.3 million already) is probably out of reach monetarily, or will be after his agent gets to work.
But Rich Rodriguez is making just 1.5 million at Arizona, has a ton of South Florida experience in recruiting, and runs a spread offense that would help differentiate Miami from the other two in-state P5 programs. It would be a roll of the dice for both player and program, but… I mean, Deerfield Beach is less than an hour from Miami proper.
Or they could just hire the Rock.
Bye week, remember. UFRs are delayed as I take the annual breather from the grind. These might be a little later than usual (Thurs/Friday in non-Hoke-doom-spiral years), but it's on its way.
Henry was fierce Saturday [Eric Upchurch]
The difference. PFF grades the game:
–In a direct contrast to the Spartans’ signal caller, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock (-3.0) struggled once again. He brought his grade down to -20.9 on the year, and didn’t look great even when he was completing passes. On 3rd-and-9 with 5:42 left in the third quarter, he underthrew wide receiver Amara Darboh on a go route, turning a potential touchdown into a play where the receiver had to save the reception.
Ouch. Another PFF article notes that they have Rudock the 7th-worst quarterback nationally in their grading system.
The Michigan defense has been on another level this year, with standouts on the defensive line in Chris Wormley (+25.3) and Maurice Hurst (+25.8), at linebacker in Desmond Morgan (+17.0) and at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis (+16.7). Before the loss to Michigan State they had posted three straight shutouts and yet, with Jake Rudock’s (-20.9) struggles at quarterback, they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff picture. Our seventh-lowest graded player at the system, he has graded positively just once all year.
I don't think he's been that bad—I'm guessing PFF is dumping all of the collective WR/QB issues on Rudock since they must be going over these games as quickly as possible given the sheer volume of work they've given themselves. But he has not been good. We can definitely say that.
Not much more to do here than shrug at Hoke's QB recruiting and ponder the future.
In other PFF grade things. Both DLs grade every high, as did Michigan's LB corps. Ben Gedeon's most extensive playing time to date resulted in a solid +3.4 just behind Morgan. That's good for next year, and possibly the rest of this year.
Henry led the way for M despite the personal foul; you can see the implied struggles of Michigan's tackles in the grades of Calhoun and McDowell. Both Lewis and Burbridge graded out positively, which pretty much.
Still. "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because of one glaring personnel deficiency" is a lot better than "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because hahahahaha
what would that score even look like
they'd have to invent new numbers
they've already invented all of them
So we've got that going for us.
Finally PFF thing that doesn't really have anything to do with PFF. In the second article I learned that Utah State has a defensive end named "Kyler Fackrell" who I really wish played for BC.
Advanced stats. The Connelly box score is kind of amazing. Michigan and MSU had 13 possessions and on average Michigan had a 14-yard advantage in field position. That is a whopping 182 yards almost entirely due to special teams, and that's how you lead a team that's outgained you by 160 yards until that thing happened.
Another item of note: M brutalized the MSU ground game, which had a "success rate" of 23%. Michigan was at 40%; national average is 42%. MSU made up for it in the air.
Michigan's five man cover one pressures. M has been running a ton of man free blitzes this year. James Light with a comprehensive breakdown of them:
When you have the personnel to hold up in the secondary in man coverage, Cover 1 Rat is very tough on quarterbacks and offenses in general, which is why this is the favorite coverage of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, “Man free, rat in the hole is the best coverage involved, absolutely the best coverage involved. They can’t run the ball, the quarterback has to throw the ball outside, and he can’t make any easy throws like when you play zone.”
Michigan ran into a team that was very, very good at hitting those tough outside throws and still had to eat a 75-yard fancy play coverage bust to give up 21.
The Raiders will double that respect. Harbaugh on the usual NFL rumors:
Harbaugh was asked Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference if it "bothers" him to hear his name tossed around in speculative circles with regard to other head coaching jobs.
His answer was simple.
"I won't comment on it, it's disrespectful to the game," he said. "I look at it as disrespectful."
I wouldn't run to the Har-bank with that since it's pretty much what he was saying last year when the 49ers were approaching the end of their season. This got headlined as "Jim Harbaugh says it's 'disrespectful' to mention his name for other coaching jobs," which is not quite what he said. To me he's saying, its disrespectful to the game to talk about taking other jobs when there is a season going on.
I don't think Harbaugh's leaving. He's definitely not leaving until he feels he's done right by Michigan. But if it should come to that a comment like the above is no more than a slightly more aggressive version of the usual deflection.
The cord cutting is
coming ongoing. ESPN has started shedding high-priced talent as their six-bucks-from-every-granny-who-only-watches-Matlock model starts to implode. Now the cuts have gone wider:
Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports network, confronting rising programming costs and a loss of viewers, plans to eliminate as many as 350 positions, about 4.3 percent of its workforce, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
No, Stephen A. Smith won't be among them.
I hope the Big Ten enjoys this brief window in which the paltry Rutgers and Maryland fanbases are a net benefit to the bottom line—and only the bottom line—of the conference. It is not going to last much longer.
Louisville thing. It sounds not at all subtle.
A book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,"published this month by self-described former escort Katina Powell, 42, details nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes and other students named for Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino's late brother-in-law. Powell, who first spoke to Indianapolis Business Journal Book Publishing, has said that McGee arranged the parties and paid her $10,000 for supplying dancers during the time period.
That is not a thing that you can reasonably say "I had no knowledge of X" about. If Rick Pitino was ignorant of five-digit payouts for dozens of sex parties that is also grounds for a firing. It should be obvious "lack of institutional control," but NCAA enforcement is a magic eight ball.
Very Harbaugh. One day after the MSU game he was at the White House. Obama:
He says Barack Obama watched Saturday's 27-23 loss to the Spartans and told the coach it "was a tough way to lose a football game."
Not yet please. Mike Spath talked to some NFL scouts and they are not blind.
At 5-10, 175 pounds, Lewis is smaller than ideal, but at least three scouts to have attended Michigan games this season told TheWolverine.com that the Detroit Cass Tech alumnus had earned a first-round grade from them.
"Some teams will shy away because they draft almost solely on physical traits but a kid like him, with that competitive fire, and an ability to make a play on the ball in the air, is really appealing," one of the observers noted.
Henry and Wormley are also attractive NFL prospects; the best shot Michigan has on offense is Jehu Chesson, if and when Chesson gets some polish. Hopefully they'll stick around for their senior seasons; if they do this epic defense will probably see a repeat next year.
A time-tested mantra I've found myself resorting to over my years of watching sports is a simple one, but resonant: Things happen.
Michigan completes a Hail Mary against Northwestern in 2012. Colorado completes a Hail Mary against Michigan in 1994. Yin and yang, a grand swinging pendulum of Fortune, karma, mindless spinning of a dimpled, brown prolate spheroid through wind and rain and snow and the sun's reaching rays in the Midwestern fall.
Would not have managed to go with "things" there. Good man.
Etc.: Brief Victor Viramontes video profile. Maize and Blue Nation on 100 Years of Moe's. Aubrey Dawkins was only recruited by Michigan and Dayton. Remember that this year. Accurate. Moritz Wagner is here, German. You can apparently vote TE commit Sean McKeon into the UA game.
Sponsor note. I tailgate, but I do not set up tailgates. They are a large undertaking. If you are daunted by such an undertaking, Tailgater Concierge can take care of all that for you. They'll reserve you a space, set up chairs and tables and silverware, and grab whatever food you desire.
Then they clean it all up afterward so you can be inside the stadium before Grapentine asks the band to take the field. They have spots at Pioneer right across from the stadium for maximal efficiency and real bathrooms. If you've got a corporate event they can take a load off your mind, as well.
They're coming. They're wearing gorilla suits and transformer heads.
You can also check out this guy's Oreos review.
YOU DON'T SAY. The infinite anger machine can take slight at anything, including "people looking at football":
Connor Cook on being underdogs to Michigan: "It doesn't take much to put a chip on our shoulders."
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) October 13, 2015
We'll see how much that chip helps against Jim Harbaugh.
Breaking down the beast. PFF takes a look at Michigan's "terrifying" defense:
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this defensive run isn’t the results, but the grading at the heart of it. Of 26 players that Michigan has used on defense this year just two of them have a below-average grade, and none is worse than a -1.8, which is still closer to average than disastrous.
16 of those 26 have strong positive grades and of the players that are left, five of them have played fewer than 20 snaps. In fact, the Wolverines have just one player on defense that has played 100 or more snaps and doesn’t have a significantly positive grade.
They include a number of illustrative graphics as well:
They are happy to leave defenders in man coverage and attack with overload blitzes up front, and that too happens with speed, but watching any time Northwestern tried to gain the edge against this team was an incredible display of hustle by the Wolverines.
Take the play above, which was not in any way held up or delayed. A simple option trying to stretch the defense and the running back ends up facing five separate defenders all converging on him behind the line of scrimmage. That should not happen, and does not happen with most defenses. There wasn’t even a catastrophic breakdown in blocking assignments to create it. The Wolverines just read, diagnose and attack the football like a pack of hungry dogs chasing after a wayward ribeye steak.
There is much more; strongly recommend you read the whole thing.
A slight difference. Brian Fremeau's stats site has game-by-game breakdowns in which he assigns point values to all three phases of the game. For example, against Utah the offense was –6.2, the defense –1.8 and the ST +1.0. These aren't schedule adjusted, they're just trying to explain where the final margin came from.
I particularly like Fremeau's special teams numbers in this department because he takes field position into account for field goals and punts and the like—his stats are going to understand that a 32-yard punt that ends at the 3 is a good thing. Also, SOS isn't a huge factor on special teams.
Shall we review this year versus last year?
Much of Michigan's positive value last year came on a blocked punt that Gedeon returned for a TD against Appalachian State. I'm not actually sure what Michigan did to get solidly above zero midway through the season other than blocking a Northwestern field goal. Best guess is that the punting was good and they didn't give up big returns for that section of the season.
Anyway: things are different now.
Goodbye to The Head Ball Coach. Steve Spurrier was and is a living avatar of college football and why it's so awesome. He ran up the score, he bombed people in press conferences after, he talked like a human. He simultaneously had all and no chill. He was college football's Roger Sterling. In the aftermath of his departure people collect his best lines…
7. On a fire at the Auburn library that destroyed 20 books: “The real tragedy was that 15 hadn’t been colored yet.”
…and even those who hated him admit that he was pretty awesome. Spencer on Spurrier is required reading:
Another coach Spurrier liked to tweak later in his career was Nick Saban, someone Spurrier would point out had taken the Alabama and LSU jobs.
"If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they've always won there at Alabama."
You could take favorable jobs as a bad coach and look okay, or take great jobs as a good coach and look orders of magnitude better than you might actually be.
Spurrier, in contrast, took the Duke, Florida and South Carolina jobs, jobs that were garbage scows before he arrived. He won at all three, in biblical fashion — the Old Testament Bible, where locusts ate your crops, lightning blew up your houses, and your village was flattened by a tidal wave before your rescue boat was swallowed by a whale. He drew the ire of illiterate nanny-take pissmerchants like New York columnist Mike Lupica, who accused Spurrier of running up the score, whatever that means.
Hard to imagine the HBC existing in any other sport. I plan on sleeping well past Gameday but if you want to do me and college football a favor, it would be pretty awesome to see a Hatin' Ass Spurrier sign.
What are you even doing? BC Interruption breaks down the ludicrous ending of their 3-0 loss against Wake Forest. After recovering a fumble on the Wake Forest 11 with 56 seconds left. BC ends up with first and goal, 29 seconds left on the Wake Forest 1:
0:29 left, 1st and goal from the Wake Forest 2. 108 seconds after the possession began.
Because the play wasn't communicated to the team, BC huddles and as Chris Berman would say "tick..tick.tick". The Eagles break the huddle and with everyone in the building screaming at them to hurry up snap the ball some 11 seconds after the ball was marked ready for play at the 18 second mark. The game was essentially down to one play.
Result: Rouse runs the ball into the A gap on the right side. The play is blown up and Rouse does not even quite make it back to the original line of scrimmage. The whistle is blown with 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
From 29 seconds with a stopped clock for a first down, BC gets one play off. That reminds me of you know who. At worst BC should have been able to spike the clock and then take two shots on pass plays before a do-or-die fourth down (or, knowing Addazio, a chip shot field goal).
Just brutal. Everyone needs a Madden 14 Year Old Assistant.
On joking about problems that turn out to be serious. I am frequently bothered by the rush to condemn people on twitter with egg avatars who have terrible opinions. (Exception: "Denard Robinson is not a QB" eggs during his tenure at Michigan. You people can go straight to hell.)
When something like CC Sabathia entering rehab transpires there is inevitably a flood of righteous tweets that seem directed at Mike Lupica columns from 1980 that do not in fact exist. These are designed to acquire twitter status, which is the worst status to have. I do not give twitter points to people for not having awful opinions, or pointing out that other people should not have awful opinions. You get none of my points. You are wasting everyone's time.
This just came up in college football when Steve Sarkisian's alcohol issues went from an odd but isolated incident to a scary pattern, and I think Ryan Nanni hit exactly the right tone in response:
I think we make these jokes because we see these as isolated ncidents of failure, like laughing at a friend who busts his ass on an icy sidewalk or has a soda explode when he opens it. Steve Sarkisian getting drunk at a booster dinner is funny, in isolation, because it's wildly unexpected. Placed in the larger context of what appears to be fairly serious alcohol problem? Now I just feel like an asshole for that throwaway tweet, laughing and pointing at someone who's grappling with a disease that sent over a million American adults (and another 73,000 adolescents) to treatment in 2013.
This isn't me putting on my Joke Police badge; one of the fundamental aspects of EDSBS is that we write what we think is funny, even if other people don't, and that's fine. Declarations that something is or is not humorous are as tiring as they are useless. It's like claiming shrimp is poison because you have a shellfish allergy. You can still think Steve Sarkisian coaching the Arizona State game under the influence is really funny, and I'll disagree with you.
Back when the Brendan Gibbons thing was going down there were a number of commenters who yelled at me because I didn't make the prescribed statements about how rape is awful. I don't do that because it's obvious and I don't need to polish my wand in public. If you demand someone else do it it's probably because you're not as great of a dude as you want to make everyone think you are.
Injuries. Injuries will be a major story for the game. Michigan has a banged-up running back corps, with De'Veon Smith missing the Maryland game and both Smith and Johnson limited against the Wildcats. Joe Kerridge missed the two games before Northwestern but seems fine now. Channing Stribling has missed the last two games but should be ready to go against the Spartans:
"It was longer than a one week (injury)," coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "He was very, very close this past weekend. He could've played, but we thought it was more prudent to not play him.
"I do (expect he'll play Saturday)."
Michigan is also down Bryan Mone and Mario Ojemudia for the year. They will also be without James Ross for the first half—and in MSU Michigan finally plays a team they want to run a bunch of 4-3 against.
MSU has a slightly longer list of the wounded, most importantly on the offensive line. Backup LT Dennis Finley is done for the year. Jack Conklin hasn't played in two weeks; he was available in an "emergency" against Rutgers but it's kind of hard to imagine what that emergency could have been that didn't see him on the field late. That's because Kody Kieler tried to give it a go but had to leave, and very late center Jack Allen took a nasty hit from the side that knocked him out of the game.
Anywhere from zero to three of those guys will be available; I'm guessing that both tackles suit up and at least try to play. Allen is a much murkier proposition. Some dubious twitter rumors held that he was done for the year but in that case you'd probably have confirmation from the program, and from students on campus who spot the guy in a cast or something. I wouldn't lend those much credence.
Changing some minds. Inside NU's podcast covers the Michigan game this week, and they kick it off by talking about how the atmosphere inside the stadium greatly exceeded its reputation:
There's a lot of interest to M fans until about the 25 minute mark, when they turn the page to Iowa.
They also have an article up from a former Northwestern linebacker detailing the various things that went wrong. I'll address it in more detail in UFR; you can read it now.
Surprise. The only difference between Laremy Tunsil and the other guys Ole Miss has pirated away from bigger programs is that Tunsil had a stepfather sell him out. He has been reinstated after it was revealed had acquired a raft of illicit benefits:
Ole Miss is lucky to get Laremy Tunsil back at all.
That was my first thought reading the full list of charges brought by the NCAA against Tunsil, and after letting it digest for a little while it still holds. The list of impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford is lengthy and more than just the one loaner car which had been previously reported. It was about three of them, over a six-month period without payment. A four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate and one day use of a rental vehicle were also among the impermissible benefits Tunsil has received in Oxford. Tunsil was also apparently less than truthful with the NCAA when first asked about all these things, and the NCAA is a lot like a mother in this regard: lying only makes it worse.
That is just the tip of the iceberg, no doubt. In addition to being the right thing to do, paying people legitimately will help reduce the impact of side benefits like Tunsil's. I think the NCAA needs to give up the ghost here and focus exclusively on making guys get actual educations, but I remain annoyed at programs that are flagrantly breaking every rule they can think of before that happens.
Etc.: Carr to the M Athletics HOF.Weather for MSU tentatively expected to be chilly but dry. Dude who exposed the Volkswagen fraud was a Michigan alum. Mama said knock you out: Michigan is killin' em early. Weztel on the game. Warning: autoplaying audio.
Hinton on the aftermath at USC. Excellent data-laden Kirk Goldsberry article on how unassisted two point jumpers are the devil. Mr. Harbaughchav, build up this wall. Inside the basketball offense. Holdin' The Rope.
Event. The Alumni Associations big homecoming tailgate is this weekend. It features many things:
Five stations of delicious tailgate themed foods.
Cold beer brewed by U-M alumni-owned North Peak Brewing Company.
Performances by student groups.
Appearances by special guests including: University President Mark Schlissel, MGoBlog creator Brian Cook, and New York Times bestseller John U. Bacon.
A performance by the Michigan Marching Band.
The Exclusive Member Lounge - Alumni Association members can meet Sara Moulton between 12:30 - 1:30 and try out some of her favorite tailgating recipes.
One of them is somehow me. I have been tasked with emceeing the event, so send me all your John U Bacon short jokes. Tickets are available here. Teaser: I hear John U Bacon is not very tall, you guys! /rimshot
Whoops. Accidentally left this from LongLiveBo out of the game column:
Felt like this for a while
Ended up feeling like this.
You will agree that it is good I have repaired this mistake.
A man who knows his history. Michigan went way back in the annals of football and dug out the T-formation against Maryland. I'm charting it and trying to figure out what the accepted lingo for T-formations with receivers is and hit up the Wikipedia article, and bang:
That is from Fielding Yost's 1905 book "Football for Player and Spectator," which sounds amazing. Also, the section in which this image is found is headlined "Obsolescence," to which Jim Harbaugh would like to say not so fast, my friend.
Another tale in which Michigan is prepared. From Doug Karsch:
"I spoke with D.J. Durkin this week before the game, and he said, 'Look, Caleb Rowe is fine, until he gets pressured. That's where the turnovers have come from. So we're going to need to pressure him.'
"Sure enough, they did. All three of his interceptions came under heavy duress. Desmond Morgan said after the game about his interception, which came on a screen pass, before the ball was snapped, he knew in that down and distance that they liked to go screen. He told the defensive line to watch for the screen."
Michigan got Hurst in on Rowe so quickly he ended up hammering the ball at a running back about five feet from him. The deflection that followed was partially forced by the D.
So many ORs it sounds like a seal convention around here. Looking ahead a little bit to next week, Michigan State's depth chart on offense is certainly uncertain:
Jack Allen is a very good center. As a 6'2" left tackle he's gonna die. MSU really needs Conklin back posthaste. I imagine if there is any way either he or Kieler can play next Saturday they will do so.
It's fatal. Start over. The immediate aftermath of hiring Mike DeBord at Tennessee has exceeded even Michigan fans' extraordinarily jaded expectations:
6 teams have taken a 13+ point lead in every game this season: Temple (4-0) Navy (4-0) LSU (4-0) Baylor (4-0) FSU (4-0) Tennessee (2-3)
— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) October 5, 2015
The Vols are 108th in Bill Connelly's "explosiveness" metric. They've scored a total of 13 points in the second half of games against Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas.
The optics here are really bad. Tennessee essentially does not have a quarterbacks coach. That task has fallen to Nick Sheridan (yes, that Nick Sheridan), who is a grad assistant after a couple of years as Willie Taggart's QB coach at WKU and then USF. No offense to Sheridan, but that's an incredibly thin resume for the only guy a major college has with any claim to be a QB coach. Dobbs has seen his completion percentage drop six points and lost 0.6 YPA this year. You want those numbers to go the other way when your QB hits his upperclass years.
You really have to wonder what the hell Butch Jones was thinking.
The love is real. If Cracker Barrel's latest viral marketing campaign was based on kidnapping and hypnotizing Jim Harbaugh, someone needs a raise.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) October 6, 2015
BTW, there is now a hidden subplot in Harbaugh twitter:
@CoachJim4UM Good Lord how we miss you.
— 49ers Fancast (@49ersfancast) October 6, 2015
This happens a lot in his mentions now. A lot.
— Zed Eleven (@TheZed11) October 6, 2015
Possibly because Licensed Twitter Troll Tim Kawakami is retweeting him. Well done, Licensed Twitter Troll Tim Kawakami.
Cumong man. I am happy with the state of the team. I am getting a little punchy about the outside perception of it from both humans and numbers. Vegas moved Michigan from essentially infinity to 1 for the national title to 22 to 1, which is insane. S&P is not a person but a series of carefully selected numbers; now that Michigan bludgeoned Maryland and all preseason numbers have been dropped Michigan sits third(!) in it. FEI, at least, is more skeptical—Michigan is 22nd.
Pat Forde has a gimmicky column on when the undefeated teams lose in which he essentially says Michigan is goin' to the the playoff:
Expiration date: Oct. 10, at Michigan. Saturday the Wildcats play in the Big House, in front of roughly 75,000 more people than have seen them play at any point this season. First team to 10 may win this matchup of the best defenses in the conference – and that team will be the Wolverines.
Michigan State (8)
Expiration date: Oct. 17, at Michigan. If this comes to pass, the Mitten may lose its mind. But which team is playing better football at the moment? The Wolverines.
Ohio State (20)
Expiration date: Nov. 28, at Michigan. And if it comes to this, Lord have mercy on the scarlet and gray.
I think the Lord's already done plenty for Ohio State, thanks. We have to fire our coach for blatant cheating—oh look Urban Meyer is tanned, rested, and ready. Hooray.
Dadrock is everywhere. The HarPod dominates all sports.
As basketballs bounced on the hardwood, the arena filled with noise: "You get up every morning from your 'larm clock's warning, take the 8:15 into the city."
Yes, Michigan basketball's official opening practice of the 2015-16 season actually included Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care Of Business."
The Dads. They are rocking.
Quinn also has some useful takes from the open practice:
Speaking of Robinson, yes, he's as advertised. The redshirt sophomore can shoot — really shoot — from all over. It's effortless; more net than rim. As Derrick Walton Jr. told us before practice, "Like, it's weird when he misses."
Now all that Robinson has to prove is that he can get off his shot in live action, defend on the other end, and rebound his space. As for the athleticism question, Robinson rose up and tossed in an ally-oop with ease on Friday. He can jump. Quickness? I'm not sure yet.
I don't know where he got the impression Doyle had any baby fat; guy was as built as I've ever seen a freshman post at M. IIRC his tendency to become exhausted was more because he was constantly ill last year.
It's back! Jim Hackett has resumed wearing his I Got Harbaugh outfit.
— Kurt Svoboda (@ksvoboda) September 30, 2015
This is a welcome development.
Etc.: Russell Bellomy departs UTSA. "A retrospective on Tom Crean's mediocre sext game." A history of moved Michigan games. Aubrey Dawkins oh man oh man oh man. Official site stuff on the Yost renovations. Gary Danielson being himself. ESPN adopts a sensible strategy for game overlap.