9/13/2014 – Michigan 34, Miami (Not That Miami) 10 – 2-1
Jake Ryan did a good job of not blowing up Hendrix for penalties [Eric Upchurch]
Michigan Stadium was a roomy place on Saturday, somewhat full of cranky people waiting for an opportunity to vent their ire. They held their fire after a Gardner interception; they held their fire when Michigan was tied 10-10 with a team that hadn't won a game since 2012 midway through the second quarter.
This was a bit of a surprise. Hell, the 1997 team(!) got booed at halftime of their game against Iowa when they went into the locker room down 21-7. (This was definitely performance-related, exacerbated by a late Tim Dwight punt return touchdown. The tenor of the boo was WE KNOW YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS LET'S GOOOO and when they came out of the locker room the corresponding cheer was much louder than it usually is. But damn we used to have some expectations.)
In 2014, after seven years of mostly unrelenting failure, on the heels of a humiliating shutout in the Last Notre Dame Game, I was expecting more audible grumbles. Michigan fans held off, possibly too stunned by last week to do anything but meekly absorb events in front of them.
Then Michigan took a delay of game penalty (after a timeout!) and decided to punt from the Miami 37 with a minute left in the half. This was pure coaching malpractice that reminded a grumbly Michigan Stadium of last year's Penn State game. The boos rained down. It was loud. It was grumbly. It was statistically accurate.
As the game rolled along and Michigan proved themselves about as superior as you'd think they should be, this game receded from the hateful constellation of lower-level matchups that turned into stomach-churning wins or even losses.
When you end up giving up fewer than 200 yards to an opposing offense you've established that they are very bad and you are not. Eventually Michigan's ground game kicked in and put up similar YOU ARE BAD numbers. Erase some pretty random turnovers (deflected pass at the line, redshirt freshman pop-up kickoff fumble) and this is 45-0 or thereabouts.
I know you don't believe turnovers are random, person on the internet who I am anticipating a "LOL" comment from, but even you have to admit that when a throw goes from probably on target to directly in the chest of an opposing player because it glances off a fingertip that's just life giving you the middle finger, and not—oh you just said MAKE PLAYS in seriousness on the radio nevermind this sentence. Players make plays. Etc.
Anyway: in retrospect I am not stressing about this game.
I was in the second quarter, like everyone else, and while I didn't actually boo—I am in the too-shocked-to-do-anything club—I agreed with it. What's more, I deeply appreciated that the people still mad enough to let someone know about it waited for the perfect moment.
When Pat Fitzgerald was asked about Northwestern fans being upset in the aftermath of the Wildcats' 0-2 start, he responded thusly.
This is a press conference answer to get behind. It is brief, quotable, and addresses the situation. Fitzgerald is not surprised that fans are upset; he is upset (he called the team "an embarrassment to anyone that ever put on the purple and white"); fans should be too.
When Brady Hoke was asked an open-ended question about his message to the fans, he said this:
As far as the fans that watch from the outside and see some of the similar issues that they saw last season, what would you say to them and how concerning is it as a coaching staff?
"If they’re truly fans they'll believe in these kids and what they've done and the hard work that they've put in. If they’re not, they won't."
To the great misfortune of someone whose words are repeated verbatim on the internet, he would later claim to be misquoted. At least he has been told that knocking the fans who pay his salary and are currently leaning towards "tar and feather" over "put FOR SALE signs on front lawn" is not great, Bob.
But he has succumbed to the post-9/11 Godwin's Law: eventually someone in charge of the troops is going to tell you to support the troops, because he thinks that's the best argument he's got left. You think knocking over tinpot dictators halfway across the world with no real hope of installing anything that won't collapse the minute you leave is a bad idea? Support the troops, buddy. Why don't you support the troops?
So kudos to Michigan Stadium for holding its fire until the guy on the sideline with the timeout blundered his way into a fourth and eleven punt that went into the endzone on the fly. It was 1000% clear who was and was not supported at that moment.
Michigan is at least tolerant of the troops even when they're struggling against Not That Miami. Michigan is pissed off at the guys in charge. No amount of deflection will hide that fact.
Brady Hoke Epic Double Points Of The Week. #1 is Derrick Green, who was often the recipient of gaping holes but hit them and even made some yards himself.
#2 is Jourdan Lewis, who turned in excellent coverage all day and came up with an excellent interception.
#3 is Brennen Beyer, because it is impossible to really distinguish between the various guys whipping up on Miami's OL but Beyer got a sack.
Epic Double Point Standings.
6: Devin Funchess (#1, APP, #1 ND)
3: Derrick Green(#1 MIA)
2: Devin Gardner (#2, APP), Willie Henry (#2 ND), Jourdan Lewis (#2 MIA)
1: Ryan Glasgow (#3, ND), Brennen Beyer(#3 MIA)
0.5: Kyle Kalis (T3, APP), Ben Braden (T3, APP)
Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week.
For the single individual best moment.
This was a one yard run but let us sit and savor the fact that even against a terrible defense Michigan had a touchdown that looked like this.
Honorable mention: Jake Butt shakes free for a fake screen(!) touchdown, something we haven't seen since Hoke's arrival. Jourdan Lewis runs a guy's fade for him, picks off a ball thrown too far inside. Dennis Norfleet and the KO unit execute a right-sided return on a kick to the left out to the 50. Derrick Green breaks backside and breaks a tackle for a 20-yard gain.
Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.
AppSt: Derrick Green rumbles for 60 yards.
MIA: Derrick Green scores a goal line touchdown without being so much as touched.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
Worst. Event. Ever. This Week.
Devin Funchess standing on the sideline because Michigan threw him a bubble screen halfway through the fourth quarter of a 31-0 game.
Honorable mention: Delay of game ack ack ack, Gardner interception (deflected, FWIW), kickoff mishap, Darboh fumble, various early runs that didn't go anywhere.
AppSt: Devin Gardner dares to throw an incomplete pass.
ND: Countess nowhere to be found on fourth and three.
Miami: You did what to Funchess now when?
[After the JUMP: getting it together, strangling the opposing offense, and goodbye gun.]
Brady Hoke in “Everyone’s reaction to this game”
“Number one, it was great to play back at home, first and foremost. It was great to win the football game. We needed to come back and move forward and it’s always better to move with a win. I think from an offensive standpoint we did some very good things. I think the second half, obviously we took care of the football and didn’t turn the ball over and then completed some drives that we had. I think the running game is where-- we wanted to run the ball the whole game but I think the second half we stayed away from some negative plays that put you in bad situations and we were able to run the ball. I thought Derrick [Green] and DeVeon [Smith] both did a nice job. The offensive line worked very hard. I think the guys on the perimeter did a nice job.
“I think defensively holding them to 2-of-12 from a third down perspective is [good for] getting your defense off the field and more opportunities for our offense. The rush for the second week-- looking at our defense we played that very well, the front seven did or if we were in nickel situations the nickel did when he was involved so those were the positives of it.
“We only got the one pick as far as a turnover. We’ve got to do a better job there. I thought we harassed the quarterback and I think Brennen Beyer on the one sack made just a great play because he finished the play, and how he finished it. It was good to be at home, like I said. We’ve got to go to work. Utah’s a good football team. They’re a tough football team. That’s what-- they’ve had that M.O. for a long time and I think Kyle [Whittingham], coaching against him in the Mountain West and coaching against his team, they’re always a physical group. We’ll have our hands full.”
Is that about what you wanted to see, aside from a five minute stretch in the second quarter?
“Number one, I wanted to see—our guys came out with energy. That was something, and I think part of that was the crowd when the game started. I think part of it is they’re a very close team in a lot of ways and so them coming out and playing hard…would we have liked to have had a better first half in taking care of the football? Yeah.”
Devin Gardner and his receivers: what kind of versatility and depth did you see from that wide receiving core in the absence of Devin Funchess?
“I think the addition of Jake Butt helps, getting him back and getting him healthy and we kind of picked our spots with using him in some way. But Darboh and Chesson are both very talented. Norfleet gives you a great spark. Freddy Canteen is starting to get back to where he kind of was last spring, so having some depth there helps. Obviously Devin Funchess can be a difference maker because of his size and athleticism but I think the other guys did a nice job.”
Do you expect Devin back next week?
“Well, we’ll see.”
[More after THE JUMP, including player comments]
News bullets and other items
We’re not going to talk about injuries.
Kalis and Glasgow are taking snaps at right guard, and Glasgow is also taking snaps at center.
Kenny Allen and Matt Wile are competing at kicker.
The average number of explosive plays [Ed: defined by Doug Nussmeier as a twelve-yard run or sixteen-yard pass] per game should be nine to ten. Michigan had five against Notre Dame.
"As a team I think everybody really came back to work Tuesday. We had a really good practice. Very high tempo. I think the leadership throughout the team is a big part of that, how competitive and hard-working everybody is. We are correcting things that we need to do better. Talked a lot about fundamentals and techniques. Talked a lot about and worked on a lot of things that you have to do when you talk about ball security and all those things to be successful, and the guys went at it and we had a very competitive, very good practice, like I said. We’re looking forward to Saturday. Number one, we get to play at home. We get to play at the greatest stadium in this country in front of our fans and that’s something we always look forward to. We have the next three weeks to do that. The energy and support is something that we really embrace."
Brady, you said you made corrections. Were they small corrections or were they glaring things?
"Yeah, there's a lot of things that were small but in the big picture those small things can add up. We thought pad level-wise we played pretty well but we've got to be more demanding on finishing some things from both sides of the ball."
As far as the offensive line, do you anticipate making any changes? Do you see a need for it?
"I think right now, I think we like the group we have. I think you asked the other day, [and] it's still highly competitive. Kyle's playing right guard and so is Graham [Ed: MGoD'ohThereGoesMyQuestion]. Graham's taking some snaps at center so the rest of it's been pretty much how it is but it's been really competitive."
Is it important at this point to keep those guys together and let them grow even if they are making mistakes?
"Well, they're not making many mistakes. That's number one. When you look at the tape, those guys up front did a pretty good job. So to answer your question, yeah, to have them together would be awesome. Now, you still got to have some contingencies if somebody goes down, somebody gets hurt. Mags [Ed: Erik Magnuson, but I’m guessing you knew that] is playing a little bit of left tackle at times so all those things are still part of it."
[After THE JUMP: Miami (NTM) scouting report, countering three-step drops, and Hoke’s opinions on the criticism of players]
SPORTS. TALK. RADIO. A somewhat agitated man called into WTKA after the game Saturday night. That guy can get bent with his engineering cracks. If the football team was as good as solar car we'd all have burned out dopamine receptors.
It could be worse! It could be equally as bad. Let's check in with our friends at Texas.
The eloquent Scipio Tex on a hamblasting at the hands of BYU:
Anyone coming into this game expecting a solid or even reasonably functional offense was delusional, but cold reality stings even when you know there's a blizzard outside and you're dressed only in a garter belt and a ball gag leaping from a 3rd story window into a snow bank...
Metaphorically been there, bro. And literally, but let's focus on the metaphorically please.
Meanwhile in MS paint penises. We made Shamepaint, a couple times. This is the one I can put on the blog:
So we're still better than my friend Kit.
That's over I guess. Penn State's sanctions are over as arbitrarily and suddenly as they were imposed. Suddenly free to go to the Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State fans reacted like college students do when given the slightest pretext:
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) September 9, 2014
The previous day's Collegian was exactly the same except the headline read ONE DOLLAR TACOS.
So that may explain that. Derrick Green got a lot more carries than De'Veon Smith despite not being at all effective with them. Here is a potential reason why:
@AceAnbender DeVeon Smith is limping pretty bad around campus. No boot or brace, but he's walking like a baby deer.
— Nick McLaren (@xDQ44) September 8, 2014
Here is a list of potential SMU hires I am linking for no particular reason. Michigan's going to have more access than SMU if they need to make a coaching change at the end of the season, but Harbaugh Hail Marys aside the landscape isn't going to look too different than this list of eight candidates to replace June Jones after his sudden resignation. It's heavy on offensive coordinators, with those of Ohio State, Clemson, Baylor, and Oklahoma on the list along with some washed up dudes. (Butch Davis! Rick Neuheisel!) Michigan has a bunch of midlevel head coaches they can grab… it's just that there aren't any.
If you think that's excessively grim, look around the college football landscape for an established, pluckable head coach with a track record that makes you warm and fuzzy. I don't see one. Texas grabbed the best idea out there when they hired Charlie Strong to repair the damage letting Mack Brown hang on way too long caused. Washington picked off Chris Petersen. Penn State got James Franklin. There's nobody at a midlevel BCS program who's an obvious next big thing a la Meyer or Sumlin.
Unless you think Michigan can swoop in on a Texas A&M or Oklahoma State—extremely doubtful—there are virtually no available coaches who finished in the top 25 last year except George O'Leary (hooray!) and Todd Graham (because Todd Graham is always available). David Cutcliffe is 59; Art Briles is 58 (and not leaving).
The best bet outside the HHM may be Craig Bohl, who led NDSU to three consecutive national titles and various upsets of nearby I-A teams. Dual problems: he just got hired by Wyoming and he's 56.
Maybe someone will cut a hot swath of death through some conference or another, but legit A-level hires have track records of performing over expectations over a number of years. With Petersen, Strong, and Franklin off the board the pickings are slim. They get even slimmer if you insist on a coach who runs a program that looks like 1990s Michigan, because fewer and fewer programs do that.
Hail Harbaugh full of grace and all that, then. Or ripping off ten straight wins and going to the Rose Bowl. Either one. Preferably the latter. It could happen!
AT LEAST WE COULD PROBABLY UNFOLD SOME FRIGGIN SHEETS OF CLOTH.
— Tyler Koppes (@TBooty_88) September 7, 2014
Actually, I wonder about that after the Great Card Stunt of 2012, which was not exactly North Korea quality. We are a goatish people, we Michigan fans: hard to lead, prone to irritating bleating, capable of grudgingly eating anything put in front of our face.
This week in People In Charge Of Things Are Just In Charge Of Them. Nothing about what Ray Rice did changed in the last couple days, but once people actually saw him knocking out his wife all of a sudden Rice is gone from the league. NFL officials are either 1) worse than TMZ at getting video, 2) lied to everyone about having saw it, or 3) saw it and thought two games was okay.
This is a comprehensive failure by an idiot. He's an idiot who makes 45 million dollars a year, and he's an idiot because he thinks this makes him untouchable. See Donald Sterling, Dan Snyder, etc. People in charge of things are not necessarily deserving of such a position and their judgments should be questioned, because no one inside these organizations is successfully doing so.
Meanwhile, elite sportswriters are hand-picked PR organs.
Par for the course. Obligatory hot take on the Hoke quote du jour:
'If they're truly fans, they'll believe in these kids ... If they're not, they won't'
See MGoBlog article "Fickle" on this.
It is not the fans' fault that this program is awful to be a fan of. It's not Rich Rodriguez's fault. Anyone who sells their ticket for whatever they can get—currently 60 bucks and dropping from 80 yesterday—is only making a logical decision to not get punched in the soul dong on Saturday.
You are a true fan if you want the team to win a lot. Believing is optional, and right now kind of dumb.
Etc.: Shut up, Jim Delany, it is most definitely not premature to judge the Big Ten. Michigan Monday, hooray. Miami (Not That Miami) is not good. M is a 31.5 point favorite and YOU JUST HAD TO PICK THAT LINE, VEGAS, SERIOUSLY?
News bullets and other items:
- Hoke will tell us if someone is out for the year. That’s about all you can expect as far as injury updates go.
- Graham Glasgow is taking snaps at center and right guard.
- Hoke thought the team prepared well last week.
- He emphasized red zone defense and finishing drives as the two areas that most need to improve.
- Matt Wile and Kenny Allen will compete for kicking duties.
“Thanks for coming. You know, as far as where we’re at as a team, we went back to work yesterday and the attitude and how our guys have stayed together, the leadership throughout the team has been awfully positive. I like the work ethic and I still like the work ethic from a physical and mental standpoint. You always evaluate where you're at and what you need to do and what could you have done differently and we've done that. We've talked about it from coaching staff-wise, from player-wise. Preparation was awesome throughout the week. It was as good as I've been around. Preparation in Michigan City at the hotel was awesome. Feel very good about our football team in a lot of ways. We've got to prepare. We got to execute a little better but as far as where this team's at I'm excited. We understand that our goals are still out there and now we've got to turn to Miami and be back at home with our students and the Michigan fans and go back to work."
How does the defensive approach have to change when you lose some key people like out of the secondary? I think you talked about when you can press man and when you had to back off of that.
“Well, I do think you've got to know your personnel. Number one, you want to make sure you put your personnel in positions so that they can be successful. In the second half we played more zone and from a defensive standpoint there were some things that we need to be tighter on. Some technique issues that we've got to clean up. Sometimes that happens when guys gets in certain environments where your fundamentals and techniques are everything. I thought we lost that and some of that is the environment that you're in. You either speed up – and I think we did that a little bit because of that or you just lose your fundamentals and techniques. So to answer your question yeah, you look at it and you change it a little bit."
Talk about having Jake Butt back and what his ceiling is. You look at his tools and where his ceiling is; where might he go?
"Well, you know, Jake was kind of a gametime decision in some ways and didn't play a lot of snaps but we'll see how he progresses. I think we’re going to be very cognizant of where he is from a physical standpoint and what's too much. We do the same thing in practice, what's too much and what's not. The technology today with some of the GPS things we’re into teaches a lot and you learn a lot. Health and wellness issues are part of that and talking about Jake is making sure we are doing the right things with him."
Talk about his…
"Well, we think he’s a very good football player. He ended up last year very well. I think he's learned a lot and he's one of those guys who is on the leadership council that isn't afraid to, even though he's a young guy, speak his mind and give his true reactions and feelings."
Talk about some of the positives and the improvement in the run defense.
"Well, the front seven I thought he did a pretty good job from that standpoint. Guys that we rotated throughout in the middle of the defense, I think they were aggressive. I thought they were gaps sound. I think Willie [Henry] may have had the most production of all of them but he and Ryan [Glasgow] as a group in there, I thought they did a nice job. That was a physical offensive line and so we got to take from what they did last week into this week and improve upon that."
Devin Funchess- we saw him leave the game and come back in. How’s he doing?
"He's fine. I'm not going to talk about any injuries but he's fine."
Did he workout and everything yesterday?
"He was in the building yesterday, yeah."
[After THE JUMP: pointed words about a lack of faith in the Big Ten, Hoke’s message for Michigan fans, and more player-specific non-injury-related questions]
[Note: I wasn’t in South Bend, so this was all transcribed from the video provided by the Athletic Department’s site.]
“Obviously Notre Dame played a very good football game and we didn’t. You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. A lot of credit to what they did on third downs, either defending us or their third down opportunities that they converted on.
“We’ve got to go back to work, and we will as a team. You don’t want to have four turnovers in a game. That doesn’t help you. The red zone, we didn’t help ourselves in there. From the penalty side, we put ourselves behind the sticks offensively. And again, you’ve got to give them a lot of the credit too. But we will bounce back because this is a very resilient, hard-working group of young men who know what it takes to win.”
After [Devin] Gardner started fairly quickly, I think six-for-six, and then did they bring more pressure, did your offensive line struggle; what fell apart?
“I think a little bit it’s never one guy, it’s never one piece of the offensive line, or the quarterback, or the routes, or whatever. When those things happen I think they happen as a team. He started six-for-six. I think we’ve got to give them- we crossed the fifty and they were going to bring more pressure. That’s what they did.”
Can you talk about Ray Taylor and any update on his status?
“I’m not going to talk about any of those injuries. Number one, I don’t know enough about them.”
And then Jabrill [Peppers], he dressed. Could he have played?
“If he could have played we would have played him. We evaluated all those guys before the game.”
And then you dressed him?
“Well, he went out because we were evaluating him before the game.”
You said you’re pretty confident this team will bounce back. How do they bounce back from such a- I mean, this was a pretty humbling loss here.
“Yeah, it is but I think they’ve all been humbled sometime in their life. It’s part of the resiliency this group has.”
Your guys were pretty adamant about how bad they wanted this because of this possibly being the last game. Were you surprised at how lopsided this ended up being?
“This game? Yeah.”
[After THE JUMP: Gardner is still the starter, why Countess was pulled, and bouncing back from adversity]