"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Ryan Glasgow and Joe Bolden
How do you replace someone like Mario [Ojemudia]?
"It’s hard to replace a guy like Mario because obviously the way he plays, how he gets his job done. But the greatest thing about football is you've got somebody working just as hard pushing right behind you trying to take your spot, and it makes you better. I think we'll have somebody that will get in there and get the job done."
The streak now is 14 of 16 shutout quarters. As a defense that's got to be something you hang your hat on. Is that something you’re thinking about, or is that just a byproduct of success?
RG: "I think it's a byproduct. Our goal is just for them to get no yards on every play or negative yards. If they make a yard it's a failure for us. Every guy is trying to win their individual match up on every play. If you don't do that you are hurting the guy next to you and your hurting your defense. We have a lot of guys winning their individual battle on every play, so that's going to be a byproduct of it."
The defensive line has been especially dominant. Willie [Henry] with that sack on I believe Garman… What's been the key of you guys being able to get in the backfield so easily?
RG: "I think a lot of it starts in practice. There’s a lot of competition. I think we have a two-deep on the D-line that a lot of people would kill to have, and people are trying to take everyone’s spot every day and if you don’t perform in practice you’re not going to play in the game, so everyone’s pushing each other and I think the competition really helps that come out.”
Jim just pointed out that the two defenses on Saturday won’t actually face each other, but when you see the stats Northwestern’s coming in with, compared to yours [they’re] very comparable. Do you look at it as a way to kind of show them up in a sense, that your defense is better?
JB: “I don’t know. I played high school with a kid, Drew Smith, who’s a linebacker for them, so we’re always going back and forth and stuff and talking and hanging out. But I think coach Harbaugh hit the nail on the head saying the two defenses aren’t going to play against each other. Like Ryan said, they don’t get any yards on offense and they don’t get any points, you can’t win a football game without scoring points.”
[The rest after THE JUMP]
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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]
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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]
News bullets and other items:
- Harbaugh made it abundantly clear that there’s no QB controversy. He said Rudock’s the best QB on the team, and “not by a small margin.”
- Kyle Kalis graded out as the best offensive lineman on Saturday.
- Harbaugh was very impressed with Channing Stribling, saying no one in the secondary has shown more improvement.
- Chesson was the offensive and special teams player of the game, and Lewis was the defensive player of the game.
- Kerridge could possibly play Saturday. He’s “working through something.”
“Whaddaya got? I’m ready to go! I’m excited about my team!”
Can you talk about what you’ve seen out of BYU? What impresses you most about their offense?
“Well, good receivers. Big receivers. Good quarterback. Big, physical team on both sides of the ball. Very athletic. They play extremely hard.
“I think this will be a great test for our team. Very excited about the competition this week and what’s in store. It’ll be a great gauge for where our team is at right now.”
Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the film, what did Ty Isaac do that got the running game going versus maybe somebody else, and how- I kind of asked you about this a little big Saturday- but how big is it that you can have different guys that you can throw in there if one guy is not playing well and one guy is playing well?
“Well, I wouldn’t look at it as throwing guys in there. I mean…we’ve got football players that are hungry, that want to be in there, that are improving and making contributions to the team, and there’s something about not just throwing a guy in but strategically putting a player in to be successful. That’s the way I would phrase it.
“Ty did a nice job. We talked about it. I think he’s an improving player and still has some work to do. You know, he’s going to miss one and then made the big one. That was great to see.
“The offensive line is improving. Offensive line is getting better. Probably the guy who made the biggest jump is Kyle Kalis. Graded out for the ballgame 90% [or] a little above 90% along with Graham Glasgow, who’s been consistently very good and been our best offensive lineman. Kalis is ascending fast, so it’s great to see that. The other one is Ben Braden is playing better. Still has work to do, but he’s improving as well. Thought Mason Cole and Magnuson both improved. They’re playing more physical and they’re finishing. They’re really making an effort to finish right now. So, all five of those guys. What’s helping our running game right now is them and the contribution by the backs, but also the receivers.
“The receivers are making a real effort right now to block downfield. They’re blocking in the box, they are coming to get safeties, and they are blocking sometimes 30-40 yards downfield. Jehu Chesson was our player of the game offensively and on special teams, and a big reason was he contributed to the passing game, contributed to the running game, contributed putting points on the board, and his blocking was making a real effort at it. Along with all our receivers…Amara [Darboh].
“There’s a lot of things contributing to us improving in the running game.”
[After THE JUMP: Dennis Quaid comes up and if that doesn’t get you to read the whole thing I guess we just don’t have a similar sense of humor]
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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan stuck mostly with its nickel even against a run-oriented spread team. At times either Peppers or Hill would line up as a WLB:
My deeply unsatisfying nomenclature for this was "nickel 4-3." I know this is a nonsense thing to say, but this is the world we live in.
I also don't like calling this a "3-3-5 nickel" since it's really just taking a DE and having him run at the LOS:
I need better lingo for that if you've got it.
M did this some with Frank Clark last year and they're continuing to do it with Ojemudia. I kind of get the idea, but execution so far has been weak.
Oregon State used a lot of H-backs and I designated those with "H" after whatever the formation is. This is Shotgun TE H for the Beavers. Michigan is an actual 4-3 here.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Much the same as the first game, with heavy rotation on the front that justifies the OR next to Matt Godin's name. He played both DE and DT and probably got as much time as either Henry or Wormley. Glasgow probably got the most snaps on the DL; Hurst appearances were infrequent. It was mostly Ojemudia at buck, with a reasonable number of RJS appearances.
Secondary was as in the first game: Lewis, Peppers, Hill, Wilson + Stribling/Clark. When they went to a 4-3 it was Stribling/Clark coming off the field instead of Hill. After Lewis went out it was Stribling and Clark. Dymonte Thomas got some snaps in the dime.
LBs were Morgan and Bolden with Ross coming in for 4-3 snaps; Gedeon and Ross both got a couple drives as ILBs.
[After THE JUMP: short is good]
Radio mishap. Sorry to streaming listeners who ended up getting a nonstop pile of ads about halfway through the show. We don't know what happened there; we've reached out to WTKA and they say that should not recur. Podcasts should be coming, possibly tomorrow. We're still working out the kinks.
RAGE now comes with official approval. The Big Ten said "whoops" on the punt flag:
Harbaugh asked the Big Ten for an explanation on the call, and during his radio show Monday night, said the league basically offered an apology for an officiating error.
"You just want to be able to know what to tell your team, that's why we ask, that's why we inquire," Harbaugh said. "Once the punter goes outside the tackle box, you don't know if he's a runner or he's going to punt the ball. He's afforded the same protection a quarterback would be when he's outside the pocket. If he throws the ball, he can be hit like a quarterback.
"They would've rather not thrown a flag on that. ... That's what they said."
They have not as yet apologized for the various other errors this crew inflicted on Michigan: the opening-play PI against Darboh is blatant, as is a hold on James Ross that sprung one of Oregon State's big runs on their touchdown drive. Michigan got hoooooosed on Saturday and still won 35-7.
Chris Brown on Power. An excellent primer on something Michigan's going to be running a ton of for the foreseeable future:
“There is nothing magical about the Power play,” Paul Alexander, the Cincinnati Bengals’ longtime offensive line coach, said at a coaching clinic in 2012. Almost every NFL team runs Power, though some (like the Seahawks, Vikings, Steelers, and Bills) will emphasize it more than others, and it has produced some of the most dramatic plays in recent memory, including Marshawn Lynch’s infamous Beast Mode run. The idea behind Power is as old as football itself, as having an overwhelming force at the point of attack was an obvious strategy as soon as someone first picked up a football; versions of the play pop up as far back as in Michigan coach Fielding Yost’s playbook from 1905. But NFL coaches have spent the past 20 years tweaking and adjusting the play, and now the proper form is gospel.
Brown details the various responsibilities the players have. This one in particular is something De'Veon Smith had trouble with in week one:
Running back: Veteran NFL offensive line coach Mike Solari, who’s currently with the Green Bay Packers, says he prefers to tell the running back to “read the alphabet: Read from the playside A to B to C to D gaps for a running lane.” But the running back’s real key to success on Power is to let the blocking develop. “People ask me what I tell our running backs,” said Shaw at the 2013 clinic. “Mostly what we tell our running backs is [have] patience.”
He improved a considerable amount in week two.
Staples on the State of Michigan. SI's Andy Staples took in the doubleheader this weekend:
Graham Glasgow has just finished explaining the importance of pad level as it relates to play along the line of scrimmage—short version: the low man wins—when the Michigan fifth-year senior center says something telling. "I felt better in this loss," Glasgow says, "than I would after some of our wins last year."
Five days earlier, the Wolverines lost their season opener at Utah. Four days from now, Michigan will make its home debut under coach Jim Harbaugh against Oregon State. As Glasgow says those words, he stands in the Towsley Family Museum in Schembechler Hall. He is a few feet from the "Win Wall," a massive glass enclosure that, on this particular Tuesday, features a football representing each of Michigan's 915 all-time wins. In another part of the room, the words of former Michigan coach Fritz Crisler are carved into wood.
"Tradition is something you can't bottle. You can't buy it at the corner store. But it is there to sustain you when you need it most. I've called upon it time and time again. And so have countless other Michigan athletes and coaches. There is nothing like it. I hope it never dies."
Glasgow's words suggest that in 2014 Michigan's football tradition was dying.
Whole thing is worth a read.
This week in good quotes. Blake O'Neill quizzed about his modeling career:
"All sorts of things,"he said Monday at Michigan's weekly news conference. "Fashion modeling, catwalk, anything.
"I was a little budding Zoolander."
He does not have a "Blue Steel" look.
Who will I scoff at now? Texas deep-sixes Brandon 2.0:
University of Texas President Gregory L. Fenves is expected to fire embattled athletic director Steve Patterson, and the move could come this morning, a Houston-based source with knowledge of the situation told the American-Statesman.
Fenves and Patterson are meeting Tuesday morning, the Statesman learned.
It could bring an end to a tumultuous 22-month journey for the athletic department during which fans grew outraged over higher ticket prices and Patterson battled the perception that his cool demeanor simply does not fit UT’s style.
"Cool demeanor" is the nice way of saying it.
Good on Texas for dumping their version of the buzzword-spewing Emperor's New CEO after less than two years. That Patterson got himself fired after making what look to be excellent hires in both football and basketball speaks to just how hated he was by just about everyone. Justifiably. Hell, I have no connection to Texas whatsoever and I hated him because he was bad for college football, all of it.
Hopefully they've got a Hackett hanging around.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 15, 2015
That would be a terrible idea, but on the other hand I would no longer have to listen to him relentlessly praise every coach in every situation. ("Not many coaches would feed their quarterback to an alligator at halftime, Rece, but Tim Beckman is an innovative thinker.") I approve.
Oh right. The legend:
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) September 15, 2015
I'm sure that will last.
Injuries and more injuries and Rutgers. Michigan's gotten through the first couple weeks of the season without anything serious happening to their players; other than Bryan Mone they're as close to completely healthy as a group of people playing football can be. This is not the case for a number of upcoming Michigan opponents.
BYU is of course down Taysom Hill and relying on freshman-ish Tanner Mangum, who was a big recruit a couple years back and is just off his Mormon mission. On the other hand, that linebacker who bingle-bangled a Boise State player right in the dingle-dangle will somehow not be suspended—nice to not have a conference sometimes. Michigan players will have to keep an eye on the family jewels.
Minnesota has a number of guys out with relatively minor issues but may have lost WR KJ Maye to a broken rib.
And then of course Rutgers. Star WR Leonte Caroo was the latest Scarlet Knight to get arrested. He's been suspended indefinitely for an "altercation" outside the stadium Saturday night that resulted in a domestic violence arrest. What exactly went down is still unclear, but if you poke around On The Banks the impression their comments give is that Rutgers insider types think it's pretty serious and we may not see Carroo for a while. Oh and they didn't list Darius Hamilton on their most recent depth chart because he has an undisclosed injury of some variety. And of course five guys got arrested for armed robbery and transferred to Michigan State before the season started.
Rutgers fans are now calling this "their darkest hour," which may be true if the history of Rutgers football started with Greg Schiano. It does not.
Speaking of Rutgers. Julie Herrmann has a job! Still! She is employed and everything! She probably has a company car and a dental plan!
Unhappy Moeller. Via Dr. Sap:
How the Norfleet thing went down. Via the man himself:
“To be honest, everything caught me off-guard,” Norfleet said. “It just happened. (Harbaugh and I) weren’t seeing eye to eye. Nothing real big. We had disagreements but nothing serious. He thought I was going to be ineligible, and I wasn’t. He is real big on academics. That’s one thing I can say about Jim Harbaugh — he’s going to make sure these players are going to class.”
Norfleet said Harbaugh never told him he wanted him on the team.
“I never got that at all,” Norfleet said. “The only thing I got was, come back a semester to get a degree. Not play football. He wanted me to use my scholarship. I still love Michigan, though, as a whole. Sometimes, you’ve got to move on.”
Unfortunate all around, but it seems like Michigan was willing to have him around even if he wasn't going to play. That seems to have smoothed over things with Detroit King.
It's not a crisis if you complain about it every year and things are just fine. The only person more prone to complain about spread offenses than NFL scouts and coaches is Gary Danielson, and the arguments the NFL has are about as good as Danielson's:
…if current trends continue, NFL insiders say, quarterbacks who have the sophistication to outfox NFL defenses to deliver the ball to open receivers are “going to be on the endangered species list,” said Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine. “The quarterback may not be gone yet,” he added, “but if you have one, protect it.”
“It’s doomsday if we don’t adapt and evolve,” said St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead.
These people are just in charge of things for no reason and should be given the Patterson/Brandon treatment. Half of the top ten rookie QB seasons in NFL history have come since 2011. Those five seasons came from Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton, and Mike Glennon. Three of those guys came from out-and-out spread offenses. After one game Marcus Mariota looks set to join them.
A parade of general managers, like Pittsburgh’s Kevin Colbert, think that if the current model holds, the notion of drafting a quarterback to start right away will need to be scrapped.
Cleveland’s Farmer has one idea: What if you could design an offense to minimize the passing deficiencies of modern quarterback prospects?
WHAT WOULD THAT EVEN LOOK LIKE?
Etc.: Mike Riley literally has his team yelling "hip hip hooray" after games. Flanders, the coach. Local news talking with El Harberino. Jake Lourim with a longform on ECA, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson's school. Wide pin down. Harbaugh profile (autoplaying audio warning). SMH NCAA. UNLV is not good. Holdin' The Rope.