SPONSOR NOTES: Rutgers's total yardage is like Matt's rates: absurdly low! Their general organization is like Matt's competition: disorganized beyond belief! Your pants after watching the Peppers punt return are like your pants when applying for a mortgage with Matt: optional but discouraged!
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Rutgers was all gun and mostly three-wide. Michigan responded with two different approaches. One was their conventional 4-2-5. Here Thomas and Peppers are over the slot receivers with out of the picture as the free safety.
The other was a 3-3-5 package; since I consider Peppers a safety those were listed as 3-2-6. Similar packages with Furbush were labeled as a 3-3-5.
Michigan had this setup, which is close to a stack. They had others where a safety crept down to an OLB spot that were kind of a 3-4; I called those "faux 3-4." They had some 5-1 lineups with two LBs on the end of the LOS and the DL folded inside. This package comes in for much more discussion after the jump.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Obviously there was a massive pile of it. The starting line only got about 20 snaps each, with Hurst getting 26 to lead all DL. Gary, Charlton, Wormley, Winovich, and Glasgow all got around 20. Godin got just 12. Jones, Onwenu, and Kemp also got late snaps. Lawrence Marshall did not play and did not travel.
Starting LBs went the whole way until the starting D got lifted; backups were as expected with Furbush at SAM and Bush and Wroblewski at ILB. Wangler got in very late, as did Mbem-Bosse.
Secondary as per usual. Metellus, Hudson, and Kinnel split snaps at S with Kinnel getting more time since he plays on passing downs with the regular D. David Long got far fewer snaps than Lavert Hill... still affected by that injury?
[After the JUMP: oh man]
site note: UFR tomorrow AM and PM. Sorry about the delay.
Breakout star Ben Gedeon [Bryan Fuller]
Oh, man, please do not excite me. PFF breaks down the Michigan-Ohio State matchup as only they can, and Michigan comes out ahead on most counts, including all three defensive units. Ben Gedeon is a surprise standout:
This was without question the biggest area of concern for the Wolverines heading into the season, but both Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have played well thus far. Gedeon’s 89.1 run defense grade is second-best in the country behind only the Ohio Bobcats’ Blair Brown, and McCray has graded well in all three phases while posting 10 pressures (three sacks) and a QB rating against of 42.1 in coverage.
That's a huge boost to a defense that didn't really need one.
Ohio State's biggest advantage is quarterback, unsurprisingly. JT Barrett and Wilton Speight are grading out similarly as passers; meanwhile there is a slight Barrett advantage on the ground. The overall tone of the article is... uh... far too encouraging for me to be comfortable with.
But the level of dominance the Michigan defensive line has achieved to date can only be challenged by Alabama, as six players have run defense grades of at least 80.0 (by comparison, Alabama has two) and five have pass-rush grades higher than 75.0 (Alabama has six). DTs Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst and DEs Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton are all likely top 100 picks (should they all choose to enter the draft this year), and last year’s No. 1 recruit DE Rashan Gary has been as good as advertised.
Michigan is now slightly favored in the Game by S&P+ and it sounds like PFF would pick Michigan as well. This terrifies me.
Lewis on Lewis. Rather frank self-scout right here:
"There's still a few things I can clean up," Lewis said this week. "I've let a few guys behind me a little bit and have just relied on my quickness and makeup speed. But I've got to stop cheating (with my eyes) and use my technique more."
Not as harsh a self-assessment as Peppers giving himself a C-, but that is accurate. Three or four times the ball has gone in the air with Lewis in seemingly bad position; he's made a play each time. Ideally he'll be able to wipe out that moment of nervousness when the ball is in the air.
The Peppers factor [Patrick Barron]
Fancystat fight. Football Outsiders has two advanced CFB metrics: S&P+ and FEI. FEI, a drive-based metric, doesn't release until this week, and so we haven't been able to compare the two yet. In general FEI is less impressed. Michigan is third, not first, and their defense is fourth instead of an absurd runaway #1. OTOH, FEI has Michigan's offense third in the country, which seems optimistic.
The thing that really leaps out is special teams, though: S&P+ has Michigan 107th. FEI has Michigan 1st.
The FEI drilldown is how you'd expect. Michigan's been horrible at field goals (119th), meh at punting and returning kickoffs, and very good at their own kickoffs and returning punts. That shouldn't add up to the #1 team in the country but FEI also includes metrics for starting field possession on offense (#1) and defense (#13) that must factor in? Those numbers are only slightly about special teams.
S&P+ relies on "success rate" for kickoffs and punts, which has always seemed odd to me since there's no first down to shoot for. A yard is a yard on special teams. In any case, Michigan's terrible S&P+ rating is due to a heavy weight for FG kicking, which fair enough, and a poor punting success rate.
FWIW, the Mathlete's numbers that convert everything to points lost and gained have Michigan 16th.
My take: FEI is overrating the special teams because the defense is so dominant that it's moving field position outside the bounds of normal, and S&P+ isn't weighting the explosive Peppers returns enough. I asked Bill Connelly, the S&P+ purveyor, about this, and he said much the same thing. He's got good reasons to go with success rate but a guy like Peppers blows assumptions inherent in that choice out of the water.
Glasgow getting it done. Graham, that is. He got his first start this weekend and a newpaper breaks down film(!!!), where he impressed:
First and foremost, we have to highlight the performance of rookie Graham Glasgow, making his first start. Playing left guard, no Lions lineman drew Donald more often, matching up against the All-Pro 16 times, including 11 snaps in pass protection. Surprisingly, Glasgow rarely was given the assistance of a double-team, getting help from a teammate three of those snaps.
Glasgow was terrific throughout the first half. He didn't give up any pressure, until losing his block on Donald during Detroit's final offensive play. Stafford managed to escape that pressure, bailing from the pocket and finding Andre Roberts for a short touchdown on fourth down.
Is this an opportunity to say I foresaw all of this as early as Glasgow's first few games? Maybe. Probably. Yes.
The revamp is for real. John Beilein already had one major revamp of his program that ended in a Final Four run. Revamp #2 is on now, and it's seriously serious:
On @Hugeshow, Beilein says Billy Donlon ran today's practice, while he evaluated and studied it. First time he's done that.
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) October 19, 2016
This is going to be a fascinating year.
Etc.: This midseason All Big Ten team is incorrect because the defense is not Michigan's starting 11, but it does have Ryan Glasgow on it so I give it ten points. Big Ten Geeks previews basketball. What went wrong with Notre Dame. People are so mad about this arm-grab thing from Richard Sherman that just looks like good crafty D to me. Early Big Ten hockey impressions. Brady Hoke could recruit some.
Graham Glasgow started for the Lions. Did you see that, and is there some kind of a similarity between him and Jordan [Glasgow] in terms of temperament; he was just Special Teams Player of the Week.
“Yeah, I mean, they’re brothers. Similar. Very similar, yeah. Similar parents.”
In terms of their temperament and the way they approach the game, is there something there?
“Yeah. All three brothers are really smart guys, good guys, good teammates, good football players. Breed ‘em well in the Glasgow family.”
You guys had the knee braces on the offensive line. Did you guys have a talk about that after Grant [Newsome] got injured or what led to that?
“Yeah, yeah. No longer optional. All linemen are wearing knee braces.”
What is Grant’s status now? Is he out of the hospital and what’s his prognosis at this stage?
“Um…there’s been good progress and he still has more surgeries to go.”
Without specifics, can you talk about your recruiting trips and how you got involved with the chain gain and the homecoming announcement?
“Yeah, I was asked to announce the winner at the homecoming game, and Tatiana Mendez was the winner. It was great to be a part of the activity. Then the chain gang, we needed a guy and was promised a tri-tip steak sandwich at halftime. That was all I needed to hear. That was a lot of fun.”
Can you assess the play of Kalis and the right side of the line?
“He’s really--somebody asked last week how is his intensity and that’s really what he does. That’s his forte. He’s—he brings to the whole offense a great amount of intensity and good physical play. Strength. The lost art of toughness in football. Also, the valuable talent that is toughness and strength. It’s a respected quality.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
So far the train’s on time. [Bryan Fuller]
As is tradition, we go long for the midpoint.
1. Most pleasant surprise?
2. Biggest downer?
3. Most improved player?
4. Guy who will emerge in the second half of the season?
5. Expectations relative to preseason outlook?
6. Biggest surprise in the conference?
7. Ditto, except national?
8. Predict three stats, individual or team, that will be by year's end.
1. Most pleasant surprise?
Linebackers have not been a problem [Bryan Fuller]
Adam: The linebackers. What seemed like a weak point heading into the season has been anything but a liability. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have been great in the run game and good in coverage, and their athleticism has not gone unnoticed by us or by the stat sheet; Gedeon's second on the team with 7.5 TFLs and has 3.0 sacks, while McCray has 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and 3 PBUs. Peppers has been generating earnest Heisman hype this week in part because of his 32 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks (and also because he's so good that his head coach has to go back to the early 20th century to find a comparable athlete), and including him with the linebackers leaves a position group sans concerns.
Seth: Agree on Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray. Also it's fun to have blitzing from that position again: Adam mentioned that Gedeon already has 7.5 TFLs—that means he’s on pace to beat the 14 that Bolden (6.5), Morgan (2), and Ross (5.5) had combined in 2015.
David: Karan Higdon. He got like 5-10 snaps last year, looked ok-ish, then disappeared. With Walker and Evans coming in (and potentially other big names in 2017), I was wondering if he would get passed by. NOPE!
Brian: Matt Godin. He got lucky with some injury issues for Hurst and Mone but both guys are back now and Godin's playing time isn't budging. He's been productive beyond expectations, and here I should remind you that I was advocating for a role for him in the season preview since he's always been a solid... SDE.
That he's playing DT and mostly holding up to double teams is a leap in performance I could not project. Hurst has been the more dynamic player and I do expect him to suck up more snaps as the season goes on, but Godin may have even played himself into late-round NFL drat chatter.
Ace: I’ll go with the most Harbaugh answer here and say Khalid Hill. Some of what he’s done has been expected; we knew coming out of high school that he was a skilled receiver, and that’s translated over to fullback, where he’s made a habit of picking throws off his shoestrings in the flat and still turning upfield for extra yardage. The surprising parts have been his blocking, which has been solid between the tackles and often spectacular in the open field, and his knack for converting goal-to-go situations. I mean, he dubbed himself the Hammering Panda, and we’re going to not only let the self-nicknaming slide—we’re running with it ourselves.
[Hit THE JUMP for the other seven]
- Jabrill Peppers is going Norfleet-before-a-punt to keep the game entertaining.
- On defense.
- It is still the second quarter.
- Total yards are 311-3.
It only would've been slightly more insulting to Rutgers if Peppers had continued dancing during the play—not that doing so would've affected the outcome.
[Hit THE JUMP for so, so many Peppers GIFs.]
10/8/2016 – Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 – 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten
A first down is gained [Patrick Barron]
Like many a mysterious drifter who's spent the past seven years wondering whether to drink whiskey or bleach, I don't really want to linger on the past. But when Michigan plays at Rutgers and a play by play guy desperate to inject any intrigue into a man-versus-printer situation keeps bringing up the 2014 game, it's hard to get away. And when you're already inclined to think about the radical shift in Michigan's fortunes, running across an article titled "Brady Hoke discusses monumental loss" is game over, man. There's nothing for it.
So let's talk about it.
Entering week six in 2016, Michigan was 5-0, favored by 30, coached by Jim Harbaugh and athletically directed by Warde Manuel. Manuel has probably been about as visible as your average athletic director; in the aftermath of Dave Brandon he feels like a ninja with an invisibility cloak since I haven't thought about him much outside of a few interviews and the resumption of the Notre Dame series.
Exiting week six Michigan is a top five team that just beat Rutgers so badly that they're causing existential crises amongst Cable Subscribers fans. The Daily's Jacob Gase caught up with the stragglers in the student section and got a quote for the ages:
“I like these kinds of games where we’re losing by a lot,” Kasia said, “because if we get a touchdown in the last four minutes, everyone is so happy to have anything that it’s really exciting.”
Rutgers only got a touchdown briefly. When the referees took it away it was a sign that the cosmos itself had decided that they were emphasizing the "win with cruelty" bit of Jim Harbaugh's favorite dichotomy. Everything about a blowout so epic it broke records set just before the University of Chicago decided football wasn't for them was expected.
Two years ago Michigan left for Rutgers after a week of incompetence so sheer that there was a well-attended rally on the Diag demanding Dave Brandon's ouster. Shane Morris had just been probably mildly concussed, the coverup was worse than the crime, and Brandon's "my personality is to the best of my ability" media blitz ended with this:
A phalanx of athletic department staffers dragooned into wishing the team well as they departed. Brandon was front and center, naturally.
Upon arriving in Piscataway a person named Gary Nova bombed a secondary featuring Jourdan Lewis and NFL draft pick Blake Countess, a reigning first-team All Big Ten corner, for 404 passing yards. Michigan's featured pass rushers were current NFL stalwarts Jake Ryan and Frank Clark.
Brady Hoke had his cornerbacks coach install a press man system before the 2014 season. The minor flaw with this plan is that the cornerbacks coach was a linebacker who had never coached corners. This is how you lose to Rutgers.
I no longer know how you lose to Rutgers. There was no combination of parlous events that sees this game end up competitive, even vaguely so. The first time Rutgers crossed the first down line their quarterback was immediately crushed by Delano Hill, fumbling back behind the line to gain. The second time Rutgers crossed the first down line, deep into the fourth quarter, a Rutgers fan hugged it out with a Michigan fan. Various people on twitter bemusedly reported that ESPN's live win percentage tracker was stuck on 99.9%. My "harbaugh class" search started garnering hits early in the second quarter.
This was a blowout so comprehensive it went from boring to notable. And, yes, since two years ago this week I was posting The Kids In The Hall "Each Day We Work" sketch with the "there is no time off until I am crushed by the black hand" line and generally mooning about, it's worth noting that this is not that and that these are the rewards of finally getting some people in charge of things for a reason.
there is no time off until Rutgers scores [Barron]
Michigan's cornerbacks coach is now a guy who played safety in the NFL for a decade, their athletic director has athletically directed at two other schools prior to this stop, and Jim Harbaugh is the head coach. Reasons veritably abound.
College programs can be steady for decades at a time as long as the core remains, and then lurch wildly about when that thing no longer suffices. See post-Bear 'Bama, the current situation at Texas,—which is playing out exactly like Lloyd Carr/RichRod—the last 20 years of Notre Dame football, etc. Michigan is no different. (Ohio State was incredibly lucky that when Jim Tressel got himself fired, Urban Meyer just happened to be waiting around.)
Today is a fine time to reflect on the bad old days, as we stand amidst a fine red mist that used to be the Rutgers football program, and appreciate that they got fixed. "Each day we work" has a different meaning now. So too does having an average weekend. It means the other team averages 18 inches a play.
More at MGoVideo.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 (tie) Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon, and Chris Wormley were first amongst equals on defense. Charlton had two insta-sacks. Gedeon ran over a running back for a sack of his own and had a Don Brown special TFL on which he crushed a guy five yards in the backfield. Wormley continues to crush all tight ends and had a sack that should not be possible.
#2 Jabrill Peppers did some defense things. He also should have had a punt return touchdown. He did have a 63-yard run on a broken play and two very easy wildcat touchdowns, one of which was supposed to be a throw.
#3 Devin Asiasi popped out on a cursory rewatch as an absolutely mauling blocker; virtually very big run Evans had was facilitated by Asiasi blowing one or two dudes out.
Honorable mention: everybody!
7: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Peppers takes off for the huge run that opened the floodgates.
Honorable mention: Everything that happened after the first seven minutes.
Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
A bonkers Jabrill Peppers punt return is called back for an extremely dubious block in the back penalty. I mean, for real. They never give a number because in their great shame they forget everything including the name, but the only thing that seems even slightly plausible is Delano Hill putting one hand (one hand!) on a punt returner who falls over in sheer awe of Peppers:
The only appropriate statement in that situation is "sorry sorry I'm trying to delete it."
Honorable mention: N/A.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
[After THE JUMP: winning with cruelty]