"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
You said the other day that you thought Mario [Ojemudia] would most likely miss the season with an Achilles [injury]. Is that the case, and who do you look at to step up obviously with him being out this week?
“Yeah, that’s…that is the case. Look at- look within our roster, look within our defense. It’s a…don’t know exactly who yet, but I mean, you know the guys.”
How long have you known Pat Fitzgerald and could you talk about any background with him?
“Yeah. Great competitor. Background would be starting with I was Stanford, he was at Northwestern. First crossed paths on the recruiting trail. Sized him up and said, ‘This guy’s a fine, fine coach and great competitor.’ He’s done a fabulous job. He’s a great coach.
“And got to know him this summer. Came to our football camp and did a tremendous job talking to the campers and sharing football lessons and life lessons with them. Thought it was fabulous. And his football team is a tremendous football team, so, you know, everything you look at with Pat Fitzgerald is really good. Admire him.”
Watching them on film, what impresses you most about their defense?
“Athletic. Mike Hankwitz does a great job. They react as athletic and fast as anybody we’ve seen. No. 18 [Anthony Walker] is as good a player as we’ve faced, so all those things. Really good scheme. Great team defense. Leading the country in points allowed. I think that’s the thing mainly is this team reacts and flows to the ball as good as you’re going to see in college football.”
Going back to the reference of sizing up Pat Fitzgerald, with the defense of Northwestern No. 1 and you guys right behind them, have you given this a lot of thought as far as [being] a battle of the defenses? Is this a big game in your mind for both defenses, yours particularly?
“Well, that’s part of it, yeah. Offense, special teams; all equal parts of the game.”
But given the ranking for both defenses, do you feel like it’s a bout or-
“No, the two defenses won’t go against each other. They won’t face each other, so look at it the way you always look at it: it’s three phases, and you want to win each of those phases.”
[After THE JUMP: “I’m paraphrasing here, but how many hits can you take and keep coming back? So pull up that clip. Sylvester Stallone did it well.”]
Maryland thought they were getting a primetime showdown on national TV; what they got instead was a lesson in what being a member of the Big Ten is really about. Michigan is going to walk into your building, change the start time to just after breakfast, eat you for lunch, and be home in time for supper.
Facing a slate sky whipped up by the tendrils of Hurricane Joaquin, the Harbaugh 1.4 Wolverines left De’Veon Smith warm in his Ann Arbor stable, content to use the same strategy that got the Harbaugh 1.2s past UNLV: probe the inside, pop a thing or two when it’s time to get some points, and wait for your defense to throttle the will to football out of a vastly inferior opponent.
Growing up we called this a “Schembechler win,” and we got one, but not before a first half and change that conjured memories of a far more recent former Michigan coaching tenure. From Maryland receiving the kickoff, the drives went punt, punt, interception, fumble, punt, fumble, interception, missed FG, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt, field goal, punt, kneel out half, interception, punt, punt, interception.
At this point I asked Twitter if they preferred a recap of these proceedings or a 10-minute pasta recipe. Votes for the game did outscore Maryland, but only barely:
Retweet if you want the game recap to be about this game. Fav if you want it to be about this gnocchi in creamy tomato sauce I just made.
— Seth M. Fisher (@Misopogon) October 3, 2015
How to Make Seth’s Creamy Gnocchi
Start by pre-heating the oven to 400 and shove the meatballs in (if you want to hurry this up just nuke ‘em for 4 minutes), then put the water on to boil. In another pan I pour some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sriracha, and—here’s the trick—a tablespoon of peanut butter. You melt down the peanut butter on medium until you have a nice brownish sauce. Add garlic too if you’re into that. When the water boils put the gnocchi in and turn down the heat.
They’ll cook pretty fast then pop to the surface, whence you’ll remove them with a slotted spoon to your saucepan. Once all the gnocchi is moved over, pour in a half a cup of 2% milk and your tomato sauce, turn the heat up to medium-plus, and cook it down until it’s getting thick-ish. Turn off the heat and let it cool until your meatballs are ready. Plop those on top, followed by your preferred level of parmesan, and you’re in business.
At this point you may relocate back to the living room to find that Michigan has scored on a screen to Drake Johnson and a jet sweep to Jehu Chesson, Maryland’s starting quarterback is on the bench, and Willie Henry is getting free hits on Daxx Garmin. Salt away with Drake Johnson runs and serve cold.
The one really bad thing for Michigan is Mario Ojemudia left the game with an apparent Achilles injury. I thought he had his best day as a Wolverine today; if it was indeed his last that is a huge loss.
The rest of your takeaways: Maryland is bad at football and should feel bad. Michigan is excellent at defense and should feel excellent. Rudock is turning out to be fine in a Krenzel sort of way. De’Veon Smith probably really is Michigan’s best back. And while there’s still plenty of 2014 left to Harbaugh out of this team, you can start believing that both Mr. Smith and MICHIGAN will be back for Homecoming.
Great coaches instill an unequivocal belief in their team that they can & will no matter the circumstance! These boys believe! #GoBlue
— Devin Gardner (@devingardnerXCI) October 3, 2015
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
I am out of of pants related stuff to tell you. Matt generally wears them, because he's a professional. He also gives you his contact information in case you need anything. This offer does not include pants.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan was super-heavy in this game. A plurality of plays were I-Form Big of some description, most commonly a 2FB lineup featuring Houma and Poggi.
Michigan frequently targeted the bubbles a 3-4 leaves by running fullbacks up both gaps. That is BYU in its standard 3-4, which they only left on passing downs. They left 8 or 9 in the box all day.
When Michigan moved from a dual fullback set to something with a blocker right behind the OL…
…the setup was appended with an "H". Here you can see every BYU defender within six yards of the LOS. M hit its first easy big play off this kind of defense with a 41-yarder to Jake Butt.
Michigan came out in a wacky formation right here:
I dubbed this "Emory" since it's kind of what's usually dubbed "Emory and Henry". This didn't work so hot since it didn't seem like anyone to the bunch knew what the dang snap count was.
On passing downs BYU would lift all but one DL and throw an amorphous pile of dudes at the LOS. They call this "radar".
Michigan's in the pro set they used on the Khalid Hill stealth mode play.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Houma and Poggi got all of the FB snaps. Smith got the bulk of the RB snaps until his injury; when he was absent it was mostly Johnson and Green, with Ty Isaac only getting two carries. That was odd, but more about it later.
Butt saw just about every snap. With the two fullbacks on the field for most of the day there wasn't a whole lot of room for other TEs; Bunting, Williams, and Hill all played bit roles.
WR was mostly Darboh and Chesson. Moe Ways got a healthy amount of playing time and proved an effective blocker; Perry only made appearances in the rare three-wide sets.
OL was per usual. Braden got knocked out with an injury we are assured is minor; David Dawson came in to replace him.
[After THE JUMP: De'Veon and the eleven dwarves]
Evaluate your group after three games.
“Evaluate my group after three games? Getting better, growing, competing, so right there is my three words I would use. Always room for growth, room to get better. Still just trying to solidify the little mistakes, clean the little things up. Just getting better.”
Is it the week of practice that determines who’s getting the carries or the flow of the game or what is it?
“It’s a little bit of both. Week of practice, flow of the game- you never want to go in with concrete [ideas]. Just the week of practice is the overall deciding factor and then the flow of the game. The flow of the game, as the game is going, you kind of make adjustments. You’ve got to be able to make adjustments. Gotta make adjustments.”
Is that what happened on Saturday? I mean, De’Veon was having some trouble and so you said-
“No, De’Veon wasn’t having trouble. It was just the type of defense that they were playing, what they were doing, called for a little different runner.”
“Yeah, style-wise. De’Veon wasn’t having much trouble at all. He was getting the tough yards. You know, he was banging it in there, running tough, running hard, yards after contact- that man gets a lot of yards after contact. He’s doing a great job in that regard. Just needed someone that could slip and slide a little bit and that was it. Just a different style.”
When you talk about cleaning the little things up, what are some of those little things?
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
/smiles (I think)
[After THE JUMP: Things went well]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
I've been informed to emphasize the rates and accessibility of your loan guy and not so much the pants. I do feel that the pants are an excellent metaphor for those aspects of going with Homesure Lending. But I do as I am told. Also, Matt tells his kids to go to bed at 6 PM so you know he's not to be messed around with.
FORMATION NOTES: This is the "diamond" formation referenced below:
Michigan showed this more than they ran it, often motioning a TE to the side the FB was on.
Meanwhile your weird thing of the week was Tom Strobel, OL:
He is outside of "right tackle" Patrick Kugler with Cole lined up outside of him. This was a failed fourth down conversion that in retrospect probably would have been a touchdown if Smith hadn't fallen over untouched.
As for UNLV was pretty typical:
They spent the day with between 8 and 10 men in the box. Plays on which a safety was at least 10 yards deep were conservative ones.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Starting line was as expected. From left to right he second team line was Bushell-Beatty, Dawson, Kugler, walk-on Ben Pliska, and Bars. Kugler got a couple of snaps with the first team when Michigan went to a goofy seven-man line in the third Q. Tom Strobel, wearing 50, also got in on those plays.
The rest of the rotation was pretty much as before. Smith was the lead back backed up by Isaac and Johnson in that order; Green did not get in until the final drive. It was mostly Kerridge at FB until he got hurt; not much AJ Williams at TE, almost all Butt and Poggi.
Moe Ways got more playing time at WR, but there were not a ton of WR snaps to go around.
[After THE JUMP: selling out on the interior]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
Let me further emphasize the fact that pants are entirely optional when you go with HomeSure Lending. I mean, it's not like Matt has anything against pants. You want to go with pants, you go ahead. If you want to go with a mumu or board shorts or whatever, also fine. He can't see you. Also, excellent rates. He may have wanted me to emphasize that instead of the pants.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan went heavier in this game. I did not this week but in the future I am going to start specifying H-backs like Butt in this shot:
While TEs lined up next to other TEs are often H-backs in the offense I'm going to reserve the H designation for either the above or instances where there is a tight end near the LOS but tucked inside the edges of the line.
Michigan also had an under-center version of the diamond formations that Oklahoma State and other spread teams started implementing a year or two ago:
Generally the diamond had a tailback with a tight end and the fullback in front of him. In fall camp there was the occasional rumble of these formations featuring all tailbacks. Not yet; that would be something they hold for a tenser outing, I think.
I had no idea what to call this goal line formation with the FB and RB next to each other.
And if I call something "tight bunch" this is generally what I mean:
That's a TE, FB, and WR in the bunch. Harbaugh loves throwing out buckets of formations with 2 RB, 1 TE personnel. In the Utah game this was very frequently a pitch sweep; Michigan broke that tendency in this game by running off-tackle- ish at the bunch.
FWIW, I am designating Houma and Kerridge as FBs and listing all other blocky catchy types as TEs.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL was the same as it was against Utah: Cole/Braden/Glasgow/Kalis/Magnuson. Braden got dinged and left for a play or two; David Dawson entered in his place. That's not a huge surprise but there were a couple rumbles that Blake Bars might be the first guy in the game. That may be the case if a tackle goes out; it's apparently not the case at guard.
QB Rudock; RB was Smith almost the whole way until the fourth quarter, when Isaac and Green got the stress-free time. Isaac did spot Smith at various times in the first three quarters.
WR was the same rotation between Darboh, Chesson, and Harris on the outside. Perry got less time but I think that was more an effect of playing a lot of tight ends than anything else. Moe Ways got scattered snaps as well.
At tight end, every available one played except Khalid Hill. No idea what's going on with him. Fullback was mostly Kerridge until late when Houma came in to impress us all with his running and hair; Kerridge reportedly had a stinger.
[After THE JUMP: we can has manballs?]