Sponsor note. This here blog is an S Corp, because of this aspect of US tax law as related by wikipedia:
As is the case for any other corporation, the FICA tax is imposed only with respect to employee wages and not on distributive shares of shareholders. Although FICA tax is not owed on distributive shares, the IRS and equivalent state revenue agencies may recategorize distributions paid to shareholder-employees as wages if shareholder-employees are not paid a reasonable wage for the services they perform in their positions within the company.
This saves me a few thousand dollars a year in taxes, and is a Good Idea for anyone with a small business. There are many things like this, because there are many laws and more loopholes, and boy howdy it would be nice to have someone point them out for you. You are sensing that a logo is coming.
Rick Hoeg hung out his own shingle recently after working in big law for a decade, and specializes in helping people start, organize, operate, fund, and expand their businesses. His small firm has clients including a national pizza chain and a major video game publisher, plus an array of university professors, entrepreneurs, and licensees. Hit up hoeglaw.com or Rick himself at [email protected], or read his blog(!) Rules of the Game.
Maybe he's good. Show this to your local Ohio State or Michigan State fan the next time they foam at the mouth about Jabrill Peppers:
More importantly for your purposes this video offers some clear explanations of how Michigan's defense is structured. Editor Brett Kollman makes an assumptions about why Don Brown put Peppers where he is that are incorrect—it's not because Ben Gedeon is slow, it's because that's how he's run his defense forever—but otherwise it's a definitive assessment of Peppers. Spoiler: he's good at football.
I got dibs on the swooping motions. Basketball is looking to fill its 13th scholarship spot with somebody, whether it's Mo Bamba or a transfer or an out-of-nowhere late recruit. Transfer options keep popping up, with former Wright State PG Mark Alstork currently the hot name. Alstork's going somewhere, whether it's the NBA or a grad transfer. He says he's mostly focused on the NBA...
“I’m really taking it as I’m going to the NBA draft and NBA team workouts and potentially get signed or get drafted that’s what I’m going to do,” he told the Free Press Tuesday. “But if not, I just want to have my options open and that’s why I got my release papers.”
...but he's evidently keeping college options open, as a guy with a sub 100 ORTG should. Michigan is one of them.
Michigan is an option because Billy Donlon was Alstork's head coach a year ago. Here's a surprisingly comprehensive and informative highlight reel for a guy from Wright State:
Not bad, and the ORTG is easily explained away: Alstork shouldered huge usage this year. His 34.7% usage rate was seventh nationally, so there's a lot of Dion Harris "oh shit, there's no more shotclock and my teammates are bad" shots in there. This is why he has a post-like 23 TO rate and shot just 41% inside the arc this year. Those numbers were 13 and 48 the previous year when Alstork had a still-heavy but not absurd 25% usage rate.
Upsides seem considerable: he's 6'5" and should be plug and play in Donlon's defense. He shot 84% from the line and 38% from three, so he's clearly got Beilein-level shooting chops. He had a Waltonesque DREB rate, and got to the line a bunch. I'd take him in a second.
Another name that recently popped up for Michigan's 13th slot is Shakwon Barrett, a 6'3" point guard out of Canada who will be on campus this weekend.
— Shakwon Barrett (@SB11_LT) January 30, 2017
Barrett is a MAAR-style late riser currently with just one D-I offer in hand, that from Tulane. Beilein's done well with guys like that recently, but with Simpson and Eli Brooks already young PG sorts it seems like a grad transfer is a better fit than a freshman. Barrett spent a couple years at Findlay Prep, one of those basketball factories, before a grad-year transfer to Montverde Academy, another one of those basketball factories, so he's no doubt been scouted up and down and passed over by everyone. That's not great; by contrast MAAR just hung out at his high school getting ignored.
That's good, but that's uh what? ESPN puts Michigan in their early top 25 at #22. That's good. The thing I've seen people mutter about on the internet after they read this article is not:
Forward D.J. Wilson's game flourished down the stretch to the point that the NBA seems like a foregone conclusion, and that's a heavy blow, at least relative to the opportunity cost of a fully realized Wilson back on a college floor for one more season.
FWIW, I don't think that's any inside information of Eamonn Brennan has, but rather an assumption—"seems like a foregone conclusion." I haven't heard anything's changed. The status quo is that Michigan expects both Wilson and Wagner back but they'll submit their names to the NBA, as one does.
One mitigating factor. This is a quibble in a Jourdan Lewis scouting report I otherwise almost entirely agree with, but cumong man:
Struggles with bigger receivers. Gave up 109 yards on seven catches to Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge in 2015.
On 19 targets. Struggling is a bit much. It is true that NFL QBs are going to be able to hit the windows Lewis's lack of size provides more frequently and he'll probably be best as a nickel guy. I just have to defend the man's honor for that game.
Slims down to... 360. If you immediately thought "Michael Onwenu," sorry we're talking about your mom:
The 6-foot-3 sophomore from Cass Tech High School amazed Michigan's staff with how quick his feet were and how well Onwenu was able to use his weight and power without grinding to a halt. Jim Harbaugh and company were focused on letting Onwenu adjust to the college game, get his feet wet, learn the ropes. The weight, surprisingly, wasn't a concern.
It's still not, really. But that didn't stop Onwenu from dropping 15 pounds this offseason -- down to around 360 -- to help him polish up some of that footwork. He moved extremely well for a 375-pounder. Imagine what he might be able to do at 360 -- or less?
"I think I want to get lower, just for my health. I don't really have a target, but just want to get lower," Onwenu said last week. "I move better."
Good news, though: your mom is probably the starting RG.
Don't do this, also don't have a roofing business. Kentucky fans did not like the refereeing in their loss to UNC, so they harassed one of the refs at his place of business:
Business at Weatherguard Inc., has become somewhat more normal since phone calls with a Kentucky area code were blocked. Little business got done last week after around 25,000 contacts were made through social media after Higgins officiated the Kentucky-North Carolina game, which the Wildcats lost by two points.
He’s still dealing with the fallout from those thousands of negative emails and phone calls and the reviews on Weatherguard’s Facebook page that dropped its rating from 4.8 to 1.2. It’s back up to 3.0, but that’s still not good when weighed against the competition, Higgins said.
He’s also got the unseen victims to take care of — his wife and family, some of whom wanted him to stop officiating after 28 years, and his employees. They were nervous and a little shaky, Higgins said, driving around the Omaha area in company trucks after everything they’d heard.
False reports were even filed with the Better Business Bureau, using names such as Adolph Rupp, the legendary former Kentucky coach, and Calipari John, a reversal of the current Kentucky coach’s name.
1) It's a miracle this has not happened to TV Teddy. 2) It was always going to be Kentucky fans. 3) Why does a ref who worked the Final Four have to have a side hustle? Or, rather, why is refereeing a side hustle for a guy working a billion-dollar tournament?
Game changing call here, what a joke. pic.twitter.com/kcxSfH7bTF
— Matt Smith (@SamENole) April 4, 2017
Since said refs destroyed the final game of said tournament I think this is relevant.
Etc.: Incoming C Josh Norris lands at #21 on ISS's latest rankings. Doris Burke is moving to men's basketball exclusively. Indiana G James Blackmon puts name in draft sans agent. I don't know how I feel about this basketball change. Partridge on recruiting.
McKeon: still a freshman? [Eric Upchurch]
On redshirts. I don't know if this is a recent change or if it has always been this way, but the medical redshirt operating parameters I've been working with are incorrect. I've been under the impression that if you play at all after game #4 you are ineligible. That is in fact not the case:
The injury must occur prior to the start of the second half of the season.
The student-athlete must not have competed in more than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever is greater.
(FWIW, I looked this up in the NCAA's bylaw search engine to confirm. I am an exciting person with many rewarding pastimes.)
The NCAA rounds up if 30% of the season is not an integer, so as long as games played < 5 and latest game played < 7, you are eligible. For Michigan that means guys who played in four or fewer games and did not participate after Rutgers can get a year of eligibility back if there is sufficient medical documentation. I believe Michigan has assembled such documentation.
Classification of freshmen follows.
- Did not play: Brandon Peters, Kareem Walker, Stephen Spanellis, Ron Johnson, Quinn Nordin.
- Eligible for hardship year: Kingston Davis, Nick Eubanks, Sean McKeon, Carlo Kemp, Mike Dwumfour, Josh Uche, David Long.
- Definitely sophomores: Chris Evans, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Devin Asiasi, Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu, Rashan Gary, Devin Gil, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus.
If the guys eligible for hardships get them that dials back the Great Halifax Redshirt Fire Of 2016 a great deal. The only burned redshirts that look wasteful in that case are Nate Johnson (who played just three games, but one was Nebraska) and maybe the two linebackers. Everyone else was either an important contributor or clear heir apparent needed in 2017.
We've moved the hardship-eligible folks back to the freshman column on the depth chart by class.
RIP Tirrel Burton. John U Bacon eulogizes:
Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.
This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.
Returning experience: nope! There was a spate of articles last offseason claiming that Michigan was low on returning experience; these were wrong because they believed the Michigan roster and its lack of announced redshirts. This year, though, I rather believe metrics like Bill Connelly's that declare Michigan to be #127 of 129 D-I teams in returning experience. Losing 9.5 defensive starters*, three OL, and your top three receivers tends to do that.
Other Big Ten teams way down the list: Iowa (#118), Nebraska (#122), and... yep, 3-9 Michigan State (#124). The most alarming aspect of last year's MSU outfit from the perspective of an MSU fan has to be the fact that they were not young at all.
Michigan doesn't play anyone particularly high up the list except Indiana, which just set their program on fire. It is notable that 2017 opponent Air Force—a charter member of the MGoBlog Never Schedule This Team list, thanks Dave—is dead last. Hopefully we don't get the bejeezus scared out of us again.
*[Mo Hurst was a starter in production if not actuality.]
It's been a while. Here's a Big Ten fight song medley from 1929. Chicago is included, and Michigan State is not, like God intended.
NFL scouting for various Michigan players. Many impressed. Jourdan Lewis:
Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.
Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.
Ben Gedeon - Michigan LB - Hard nosed, seems to be going faster than others at the spot / Instinctive / Not a playmaker but could be a strong special teamer
Chris Wormley - Michigan DL - Huge / great line from a scout 'his calfs are the size of goal posts' / prob a 1st rounder, needs to play mean
2. DE - Chris Wormley, Michigan - An ideal blend of size (6-foot-5½, 297) and speed for an NFL defensive end in a 4-3 system, nobody displayed better and more consistent pass-rushing speed in Mobile this week than Wormley. He's quick off the snap, good at splitting double teams and can get to the quarterback.
8. ILB - Ben Gedeon, Michigan - Yes, there was a lot of Wolverine representation on the North Defense. Michigan didn't finish No. 1 in the nation in total defense for nothing. Gedeon (6'1 5/8" / 247) was a standout against the run in all three days of practice. He's strong and physical with good instincts. He struggled at times on his pass rush drills, but he may be best suited as a two down inside linebacker who goes to the sidelines in passing situations anyway.
Smith, who gained 846 yards on 181 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2016, has looked more elusive than he did in Ann Arbor. He also has proven he can catch. Add those traits to his blocking ability and his familiarity with pro-style protections after playing two seasons for Jim Harbaugh, and Smith suddenly looks like a mid-round pick a team can plug in immediately. And if the line in front of him is good enough, Smith could wind up on one of those lists.
Blue chip quarterbacks: many transfer. Dueling takes on the same subject on Signing Day eve from the Sporting News and Sports on Earth. The latter article is a just-the-facts-ma'am take on the recent history of blue-chip QBs:
It would be a mistake to call it an epidemic. Transfers have gone up in college football, and that's especially true at quarterback, where there are only so many starting positions available. The wave of transfers is often treated like a problem, but players switching schools to try to find a better opportunity for themselves is hardly an actual problem. (Coaches do it all the time.) The graduate transfer rule in particular has made transferring easier, as veteran players with degrees in hand can switch teams without sitting out a year.
The massive wave of transfers is undeniably a big story, even if it's overblown as a problem. While a lot of coaches and fan bases will be excited on Wednesday when blue-chip quarterbacks sign to play at their school, there's a good chance that those QBs won't actually finish their careers with the same team or deliver on the hype.
In fact, from 2007-13, more than half of four- and five-star quarterback recruits didn't finish their college career at the school they originally picked, whether it's because they transferred, were dismissed, switched to baseball or gave up playing football. (This does not include players who left early for the NFL Draft.) Likewise, just 44.1 percent of the 145 blue-chip quarterbacks signed from 2007-13 attempted at least 300 career passes for their original team.
The Sporting News article gets a bunch of huffy quotes from Brady Quinn about kids these days:
"It's almost like a generational systematic issue where kids feel entitled and they feel like they should have the opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t realize that opportunity is earned. It's not given. That's kind of my issue with it. I don't know how you change it unless you change things at the levels below college."
As you might imagine, this caused some eyerolls in MGoSlack. There are two main reasons for the uptick in transfers: the grad transfer rule and the commercialization of the sport.
The first one should be obvious: a redshirt senior who would otherwise be out of luck can now transfer, degree in hand, to another school where he'll get a shot. Shane Morris counts as a departure; ten years ago he would have not been offered a fifth year by Michigan and would be done with college football.
The second is a little more winding, but when you've spent the last 20 years doing literally everything you can to maximize revenue with no other concerns do you really expect platitudes about loyalty to mean much? Recruits are told it's a business now, and, I mean, does it or does it not act exactly like a business? It does. And you'd be dumb to have loyalty to most businesses.
Meanwhile I wonder how many of those Bama transfers even had the option to return this season. One, certainly. Saban no doubt prefers a veteran option if Hurts gets injured. Three? No. The NCAA's overall cap on scholarships encourages movement. It's not a damn millennials thing, and it's certainly not a problem with high schools and parents. Move to a yearly cap with no overall cap and transfers go down immensely because there's no motivation for schools to prune kids who aren't panning out.
To blame the players, who are doing the things the system either tells them to or literally forces them to, is high grade paternalist bullshit. I love the smell of NCAA in the morning.
Harbaugh antics, year 3. I mean:
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bumped into a familiar face on the recruiting trail in Iowa on Wednesday evening.
This meeting was significantly less painful for Harbaugh than the first.
Harbaugh tweeted a photo of himself and Dan McGivern, the man who he said was driving a mail truck that broke Harbaugh's leg nearly 50 years ago.
Just like wow man.
Etc.: Notre Dame blogs are bringing up Charlie Weis again, so that's fun. A look back at the 2007 Rivals 100, ten years on. Michigan guys do not feature heavily—that was the Mallett/Warren year where after the top two they barely got anyone. Toney Clemons was the only other top 100 guy. This is a good recruiting class. Lawsuit filed against Baylor is incredible. Charity Bowl opens early. Fouad Egbaria on the MSU game. Ryan Glasgow might land at the same place his brother did.
DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE.
- CB Jourdan Lewis. Two-time All-American has case for second-best cover corner in school history. Various excellent stats, none better than this: over his last two years throwing it in the dirt and throwing at Jourdan Lewis were equally productive in terms of QB rating.
- DE Taco Charlton. Rampant in the second half of the season against both run and pass and destined for the first round of the draft. Charlton was the rare WDE to play at 280 pounds and gave Michigan's run defense oomph it will miss even if his replacement keeps up the pass rush productivity.
- SAM Jabrill Peppers. Massively overrated nonentity will be mysteriously drafted in first round this April and have decade-long NFL career. Absence in bowl game went completely unnoticed and did not pave the way for almost all of Dalvin Cook's yards.
- NT Ryan Glasgow. Robot Viking finally started getting appropriately rated as a senior, when he was again an excellent penetrator and disruptor of all things run and pass.
- SDE Chris Wormley. TE obliterator and utterly steady; maybe a hair less than explosive. Pass rush not a huge strength, but that went unnoticed since everyone else was picking QB out of their teeth. Elite run defender capable of playing inside or out.
- CB Channing Stribling. Outstanding year in coverage; if he was any easier to hit with a completion than Lewis it was a narrow thing indeed. Run support an Area For Improvement, as they say. Should still go early in the NFL draft, as he's a legit 6-foot.
- Safeties Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas. Close to interchangeable, so addressed together: capable of deep zones and slot coverage, these two kept Jabrill Peppers out of coverage almost all year. Tremendous luxury to be able to do that and flip 'em on motion. Thomas did bust a few times for big plays (most prominently against UCF and FSU), but as safety tandems go this might be tops in recent Michigan history.
- ILB Ben Gedeon. Sideline to sideline ILB who couldn't carry wheel routes downfield. Consistent tackler who showed up in the right spot almost every time; took on blocks with aplomb and shed them with authority. Lack of playing time early in career got more inexplicable every game.
- DT Matt Godin. Played well enough early in the season, when Hurst was laid up with a minor injury, to maintain that status for the duration. Was solid in his role; provided little pass rush but effective run defender. Least productive rotation DL by some distance but still meaningfully positive per PFF.
get in his belly [Fuller]
- DT Maurice Hurst. Technically not a starter but whatever man. Per PFF, the most productive interior pass rusher in the nation. Huge grades to both them and this sites UFR; with serious uptick in snaps should have breakout senior year and contend for AA status.
- ILB Mike McCray. Resurrected career after long-term injury threatened it and was about 80% revelation. Superior blitzer, tough customer on the inside. Struggled to contain edge runs for much of the year; late improvement in that department.
- CB Jeremy Clark. Injured in game four and Michigan will try to get a sixth year for him. If that comes through Clark is a bolt of experience in a secondary that will otherwise have almost none. Lost his starting job to Stribling but started anyway since Lewis was out for the first three games; has a year of solid starts under his belt and should be a draftable guy.
- DE Rashan Gary. Snaps limited by guys in front of him; impressive and productive when he did get on the field. Physical potential limitless, and should take The Leap as a sophomore.
- DE Chase Winovich. Crazy productive pass rusher who'd show up for a handful of snaps in big-time games and come away with a sack anyway. Per PFF had 27 pressure events in 277 snaps, which is almost precisely the same rate at which Charlton racked them up. Run D occasionally wobbly. Potential breakout player.
- DT Bryan Mone. Second straight injury-plagued year. As a result barely got over the 100-snap threshold that we're using to distinguish "new" from "what's left." Struggled when he did get snaps much of the year, hopefully because he was not 100%. Flashed ability against OSU.
- FS Tyree Kinnel. Promising safety candidate was dimeback for much of the year and did well in that role. Had a couple of Kovacsian TFLs where he'd fly up from outside the picture to kill a guy dead. Coverage, which was reputed to be a strength when he was a recruit, didn't get tested.
- CB Brandon Watson. Nickel corner was beat with some regularity when tested. Doesn't seem to have much upside.
WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY
dread level: rising [Patrick Barron]
Everything! Almost everything, anyway. The DL has some guys who have established a certain level of performance, to the point where only one of them is even sort of "new," that a redshirt junior who would be old except for terrible injury luck.
Dudes flanking McCray. Devin Bush figures to draw into the starting lineup next to McCray since he was the clear #3 ILB last year. That should push the bulkier McCray to MLB and give Bush WLB. Hopefully that would allow McCray to focus more on getting vertical instead of lateral. Bush is very much a spread ILB.
Meanwhile at SAM/Viper(!!!), many different things could happen. Josh Metellus and Jordan Glasgow got Don Brown praise for their work at Viper(!!!) during bowl practices; Noah Furbush is a more traditional LB option at the spot; Khaleke Hudson still seems like a perfect fit as an emphatically box safety; if Michigan can get Willie Gay, recruiting types report that he is an instant impact player.
Either all of the secondary or all but one guy in the secondary. Michigan has a ton of cornerback talent pushing through at a spot where you can get by decently on athleticism. Safety has guys with scattered snaps a year ago and really needs a couple of players to come through.
WHAT'S ROD STEWART 1977
omar comin' [Fuller]
Still the defensive line. Michigan graduates all four starters but this is very much a reload situation, not a rebuild. Michigan figures to start:
- Maurice Hurst, who produced just as much as last year's top starters in 60-70% of their snaps. He is going to be elite.
- Rashan Gary, who was +13 in about 300 snaps as a true freshman and is a holy lock to be real good as the #1 recruit in the country.
- Chase Winovich, who would be coming off a double-digit sack season if he had as many snaps as Charlton, in his first year as a WDE.
- Bryan Mone, who had a series of injury struggles the last two years but flashed his ability on a critical third and short stop against the Buckeyes.
Those guys are very much in contention for the best line in the conference.
Probably cornerback? If Michigan gets Clark back that's a veteran who will be of interest to the NFL as a Sherman-type jumbo CB; I thought he was a B+ guy in 2015 and should get better if allowed to return. Surely Michigan can find Lewis 2.0 from the pile of recruits in shiny wrapping paper they've accumulated.
Don Dang Brown. Brown lived up to the hype and then some. Michigan LBs totaled 43 TFLs as he solved problems with aggression; Michigan is at or near the top of any defensive metric you care to look at. While the copious talent had a lot to do with that, those guys were around last year and Brown still just about halved S&P+'s expected points allowed metric from 13.7 to 7.7.
While there's going to be some regression, Brown's defenses tend to take a year before kicking in to high gear. Increased familiarity with the system should help mitigate the personnel losses.
WHAT'S ROD STEWART 2017
Is Kemp ready to play? Is anyone? [Fuller]
Defensive line depth. Seven different guys saw 250+ snaps last year, with Bryan Mone getting 117 of his own. Four of those guys are gone. There is a shortage of gentlemen ready to step in. This site constantly says that nose tackle is a spot with two starters. Starter #2 at NT is...?
DE is probably fine. Between Reuben Jones, Carlo Kemp, Lawrence Marshall, and Ron Johnson Michigan can find a couple guys to spell the starters. The only DT on the roster other than the projected starters is Mike Dwumfour, a middling three star coming off an injury redshirt. Michigan's bringing in a ton of DT types in this recruiting class but even if they get a top guy like Jay Tufele or Aubrey Solomon, relying on a true freshman in the two deep is alarming. Michigan might have no choice but to move Gary to DT.
Going from Peppers to Not Peppers. The silver lining of his absence almost certainly costing Michigan the Orange Bowl is that I don't have to spend much time explaining why Peppers's departure will be costly. Yes, he tended to go on a ride when he got blocked. Michigan was delighted to take that tradeoff if it meant that you could not outrun Michigan's front seven with Usain Bolt.
WHAT'S HEISENBERG ROD STEWART UNCERTAINTY
Safety. You know, I'm almost sanguine about safety these days. After a solid decade of safeties topping out at "eh, he hasn't set his head on fire" and frequently dipping into "welp, he set his head on fire again," Michigan's on a run of guys who are actual positives. It is at this moment that we must have maximum vigilance, for this is when Angry Michigan Safety Hating God loves to strike.
Michigan clearly likes Kinnel. Unfortunately they have few alternatives; it looks like both Hudson and Metellus are tracking towards hits, but are both of those guys box safeties who you don't want to see in deep coverage? I dunno. Mental issues for a couple of true sophomores could pop up as well.
Outside linebackering. Bush will probably be at least all right and could verge on good by the end of the season. SAM/Viper(!!!) could see just about any level of performance and it wouldn't be much of a surprise.
MANDATORY WILD ASS GUESS
What looks like another excellent starting DL and cornerbacks that should pick up the departed's mantle without too much trouble is a good baseline to work from. And while the unit is going to be young—just three seniors are currently projected in the starting lineup—it isn't going to be troublingly so. The only spots at which freshmen are likely to contend are backup DT and maybe somewhere in the secondary.
So while they aren't going to be this year's outfit, which was neck and neck with Alabama for the nation's best, neither are they going to drop off to average. Unfortunately, this is not a fully Harbaugh-ized program so there are some sore spots at which one injury could radically reshape the outlook—someone please wrap the DL starters in cotton until fall—so I reserve the right to repeal the prediction if the wrong guy goes down, but this should be a top 15 S&P+ defense and top 20-ish in YPP and the like.
SPONSOR NOTES: Yeah man, rate hike. Rate hikes are bad for you unless you get in before them, which you should. I know rate hikes are like streetcars and seem hopelessly outdated, but it could be a thing.
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: By far Michigan's most common approach:
4-3 even with Peppers as a SAM; press coverage with one high safety. Very, very Durkin. Remains to be seen if they maintain this with a running QB threat. Survey says "no": against most spread teams they've been two high, with one of those guys inserting in the box unpredictably.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: More rotation this week after things got very constricted against Iowa. Charlton led all DL with 58 of 67 snaps. Wormley and Glasgow got 47 and 45; Hurst and Godin got slightly over 30 each; Gary and Mone got around 20; Winovich got 10.
Gedeon, McCray, Peppers, and Stribling did not leave the field. PFF has Jourdan Lewis out for two snaps, but I don't remember what those snaps were; Hill and Thomas both lost a couple snaps to Kinnel, who got 7. There were rumors we'd see more of a few different players; he was the only one to even get on the field.
Brandon Watson was the only other player to appear; he got three snaps.
[After THE JUMP: the usual, and then snow]
11/19/2016 – Michigan 20, Indiana 10 – 10-1, 7-1 Big Ten
When Midwestern Football Weather looms, there is only one priority for the experienced fan: please, not sleet. The heavens can aim at my head with golf-ball-sized hail as long as the precipitation is of the form that can be dodged or shaken off. The icy needle stuff that penetrates anything short of a spaceship hull is decidedly not preferred.
That's what we got in 2008, figuratively and literally. The infamous Fandom Endurance III game against Northwestern that sent Michigan to 3-7, guaranteeing no bowl bid for the first time in 40-some years, was played in a driving sleet that is bar-none the worst weather I've ever experienced at a game. I imagine the only competition available is that Purdue game from the 90s that ended 5-0; I was not present.
At halftime of 2008 Northwestern the sleet sent me to the concourse in the hope the pretzel machines could restore some feeling to my hands. They could not. And yet:
This is how weird it's been of late: as I huddled near a pretzel contraption at halftime of a game between 3-7 Michigan and Northwestern, soaked, frozen, pondering the grim futility of all things, I discovered that I was sort of enjoying this. Yeah, sure, you had to peel back layer upon layer of misery to get to the morbidly sunny core. But it was there.
That column is staggeringly old now, especially for Michigan fans who aged in dog years during the RichRod era and in you-chose-the-wrong-grail years during the Hoke/Brandon double-barrel fiasco. By the stuttering end of Hoke's tenure I was referencing that column only to repudiate it, my goodwill stripped to the bone and pecked at by Brandon in case there was any seat-cushion related morsel he could take from me and give to himself.
I don't know what's going to happen Saturday. John O'Korn didn't look like a quarterback who could win against OHIO STATE, but Ohio State didn't look like the all-caps version of themselves in a one-point win over Michigan State, or a four-point win over Northwestern, or a loss to Penn State. I don't know if John O'Korn is even going to play.
Having an Ohio State game hanging by a thread because of a quarterback problem is frustratingly familiar turf. Denard Robinson and Chad Henne literally could not throw their senior years; Devin Gardner played most of an OSU game on a broken foot; Drew Henson didn't even bother to play his senior season. It is brutal to have this defense and not know if they're going to have a chance because of yet another backup quarterback throwing a spanner in well-laid plans.
I spent large portions of that game playing Ohio State in my head. I've been doing this since the end of the Wisconsin game, to be honest. I didn't like the results much, but I suppose neither did the sliver of the OSU fanbase capable of complex thought after the Buckeyes got outgained by 3-8 MSU.
I think about ten years ago, and how seismic that felt. It felt like the world would rise or fall based on the result of one goddamn game, and how that was right. And Saturday, and ugh, and can we get this over with.
Then the heavens opened up.
What people with no experience of winter fail to understand is its capacity for sheer beauty. Saturday's transient blizzard turned a football game into a kaleidoscope of lacy geometries. The individual flakes traced whorls across the sky, each brilliantly lit. As they began to stick the stadium brightened, and brightened, until it was glowing. Light bounced from white to white until it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.
I forgot about Speight's shoulder, and the looming nausea machine this weekend, and Twitter, and even the fucking red hat TV timeout guy. What looked dim from the outside was brilliant as mid-day on the interior. It is something I will not forget.
110,000 people felt that same lift. Maybe they weren't thinking quite as far back in the sleety past as I was, but they knew the difference between then, and now. Someone started chanting "BEAT OHIO," and thousands more took it up, as Michigan marched out a victory lit by a sun of a their own devising.
One game to change it all. Saturday.
Full suite from MGoVideo.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 De'Veon Smith had more than half of Michigan's yards and more or less produced all their points. On one particular short yardage run he ran directly over safety Tony Fields, causing him to eject an object that was either his mouthpiece, tooth, or soul. Fields kept coming, and Smith kept turning him into mulch.
#2 Taco Charlton collected 2.5 TFLs and created several more by driving his man deep into the backfield. He has been virtually unstoppable as a pass rusher; this was his best outing against the run. And now his ankle's 100%. Look out, world.
#3 Jourdan Lewis had three pass breakups and only gave up one of the two completions he ceded because it was in a blizzard and he was giving up ten yards on purpose. He had a couple of important PBUs on third down slants that booted Indiana off the field.
Honorable mention: Channing Stribling gave up one completion for 20 yards or so but had his share of PBUs and solid coverage; Ryan Glasgow was an interior terror; the offensive line in general blew up what had been a very good rush defense. Dymonte Thomas had an impressive thunk to prevent a drag route from converting a third down and had one of those PBUs where I have to check to make sure that he's not Lewis.
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana).
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU),
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
De'Veon Smith stakes Michigan to a lead that felt much larger than three points.
Also, shirtless men.
Honorable mention: O'Korn scrambles for 30 yards; Smith extends the lead to 10.
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".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Indiana goes on a Legitimate Drive in the middle of the second quarter and takes the lead at a point where you're wondering if Michigan can actually score a touchdown of their own.
Honorable mention: Various O'Korn things; the back-to-back-to-back ludicrous catches to set up an Indiana FG.
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.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
[After THE JUMP: Quarterback fussin'.]
SPONSOR NOTES: Here is an article about a rate hike "relatively soon," and it's not from Macedonian teenagers. Those Macedonians teens, always with their incorrect news hijinks and saying WHAT ARE THOOOSE in Macedonian. Anyway, now is a good time to get a loan, and later will be a less good time.
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: Michigan may have had two "deep" safeties, but they were not very deep. This was MSU-level #disrespekt for Iowa's ability to punish Michigan over the top, and this was a relatively conservative safety deployment for M in this game.
One guy would generally bail while the other shot into the line of scrimmage. Michigan also used its safeties as SAM linebackers with some regularity. Here Peppers is over the slot and Thomas is tight to the LOS to the bottom of the shot:
Also sometimes I hate directors. This is a presnap shot on third and six.
There is more than the usual sprinkling of ??? in this chart because of things like this.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Massively reduced rotation. Save an injured Delano Hill the back seven got literally every snap, of which there were 68. Taco Charlton did not leave the field; Wormley only rested on four snaps; Glasgow got 50. Hurst and Godin split snaps about down the middle again; Hurst had a slight edge with 30 to Godin's 24.
Kinnel got 23 snaps as Hill's replacement. Spare parts included Mone(15 snaps), Gary (9), Winovich (3), Lavert Hill(6), and Brandon Watson(3).
[After THE JUMP: [very Kirk voice] WAAAAAAAADLEY]