Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
Where has the line improved from the first week?
“Oh, they’re getting better, you know. Really building a good brotherhood amongst each other, great communication, playing with better pad level, really paying attention to details of what we’re trying to teach them. So, it’s exciting.”
What about that forecast? Do you prepare differntly for heavy rain? Do you do drills?
“No, not really. I mean, you always take it into consideration. Everybody has the wet ball drill and different things like that like everybody practices. We’re keeping our eye on that, but you just plan. You don’t change your gameplan. You just go with your gameplan that you originally wanted to and stay with it. I’ve been in situations where you change everything because of the weather and it really messes with your mindset.”
Jay says you guys are a weatherproof team for the most part-
“Who said that?”
Jay said you were a weatherproof team for the most part. What does that- do you agree with that?
“What, weatherproof? Yeah, absolutely. Whatever Jay Harbaugh says, that’s what I agree with. Oh yeah, absolutely.”
Is that a testament to your versatility?
“I just think that what we do offensively, it’s- we can spread out, we can bring it in tight, we can throw the ball deep, we can throw it intermediate, we can run the toss play. We’ve got a lot of different things. We’re not one-dimensional, so we can adapt and change quickly for what people are giving us.”
Was it significant to have the BYU game when you did? A turnover-free, kind of smoothed out offensive game?
“Uh, it was positive. I think it’s something that you build on, and that’s what you want to be, turnover free. Absolutely. That’s what you’re striving every week to be, so that was good. Really good.”
[The rest after THE JUMP]
Kyle Kalis and Henry Poggi
Henry, it seemed like Jim challenged you guys after week one about physicality and being more physical. Have you kind of taken that to heart and you’re making strides there?
“Yeah, I think so. I think just the way we play, we want to bring a lot of physicality every game. You know, the biggest thing is just progressing week to week, so every practice, every rep, just trying to be more physical.”
Henry, the fullbacks and H-backs are a lot more involved than they used to be in past years. What is the conversation like each week when you guys are trying to figure out if you have a mismatch or the coaches want to get you involved in the game?
“You know, I think it’s just gameplan. I don’t know if it’s anything specifically like a conversation with us. I think it’s like the flow of the game, who’s playing well, who’s not. We’ve got so many guys who can do so many different things I think it’s just really who’s playing well that day.”
Kyle, how much did you guys as an offensive line learn and take from that Utah game and how far have you progressed?
“I think a lot. I mean, obviously Utah, as you’ve all seen over the past couple of weeks, they’re a really good team and we played good against them. Obviously we could have played better, but the thing was just going back that next week and just the way we practiced, our practice style. And a big thing too, I want to give props to our D-line. I mean, our D-line is incredible, and us getting to go against those guys every day, that is huge for us to be able to get ready for games where we have players like we have. That’s a huge part of it, just going against our guys and our work ethic.”
Kyle, Jim said last week you graded out at 90%. He said you had another good game Saturday. What’s gone well for you the last couple games?
“Just having fun. I mean, football’s fun for me. Getting to go out there and practice every day is a privilege, and I see it that way. I don’t know. I’m just playing good.”
[After THE JUMP: More Kalis and Poggi, and Jarrod Wilson]
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]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
We have managed to maintain our sponsorship relation for a day, which is progress for us. During this day we would like to reiterate that Seth and I both refinanced with Homesure, which was both easy—everything's over a secure internet dropbox, so you don't have to put on pants—and efficient—he asks all the banks which one will give you the best deal. He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Where the defense alternated between basically two setups, the offense was a smorgasbord of stuff ranging from five wide…
…to unbalanced goal line packages…
To this, which I called "offset Maryland I":
FWIW, I filed Poggi as a tight end in the table.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Rudock your QB. Line was Cole/Braden/Glasgow/Kalis/Magnuson the whole way except for a few snaps on which Logan Tuley-Tillman came in to play tackle that used Mason Cole as an inline tight end (who can't go downfield).
Butt played almost every snap—maybe every single one. There was a lot of rotation aside from him. Henry Poggi got the most time as an H-back; Kerridge was your traditional fullback. Williams got the most time other than Butt as an inline TE. We saw a little bit of Hill and Bunting.
WR was mostly Darboh and Chesson on the outside, with Harris rotating in. Perry played in the slot, sometimes in twins formations in which there were two TEs.
Smith was the main back with Isaac getting maybe 20% of the snaps behind him. Green and Taylor-Douglas got a few snaps each.
[After THE JUMP: throwing guys in the wrong direction.]
There is another book. Jon Falk's second book also came out this week, and he secured a rather nice gentleman to write the forward: Jim Harbaugh.
Forty Years In The Big House—which I do not have a snarky name of questionable utility to deploy about—is much like Falk's first book, If These Walls Could Talk. It's a look inside the Michigan program from a guy who was there for all the ups and downs. When you've been around as long as Falk, it's mostly ups.
Falk mentioned his previous book had sold out, which surprised me, but yup: his previous is only available secondhand or on Kindle now. This is a man who understands the principle of scarcity that Marty Bodnar and the Michigan athletic department did a very good job of maintaining until recently.
Anyway: since you're all probably done with Endzone this can be next on your list.
Intros past. Via Wolverine Historian:
Brutal losses. BYU's weekend was a manic depressive thing featuring a Hail Mary win over Nebraska and a parade of injuries that threaten to derail their season before it really even starts. The most severe:
Shortly after the Cougars knocked off Nebraska, 33-28, on a last-second hail mary, coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters that star quarterback Taysom Hill was lost for the season with a fractured foot.
Hill missed last season, and most of the season before that, and that is completely terrible. Tanner Mangum, Hill's gunslinging backup, was a major recruit a couple years ago who is just back from his two-year Mormon mission and is kind of a true freshman; he looked okay after taking the reigns but he also led a frantic one-minute drill that featured just one completed pass—the Hail Mary. He's going to be a big dropoff from Hill, who was impressive as both a runner and a passer before getting hurt again.
Adding injury to injury: by the end of that game BYU's defense had also taken major hits, losing their starting NT and one MLB and safety. Travis Tuiloma, the excellent nose tackle, is out 4-6 weeks and should miss the Michigan game. No word on the other injuries. BYU of course already lost their top RB and TE before the season. They may be in for a rough year that you can blame Bronco Mendenhall for in no way whatsoever.
Michigan health. They seemed to escape Utah without suffering any injuries of note. Freddy Canteen, who did not play, says he'll be back this week:
Footwork back in Action this week hated not bein out there w my brothers pic.twitter.com/WVCPzIlBLu
— FreddyFootwork (@FreddCanteen_) September 5, 2015
Drake Johnson made the trip and dressed but did not play; he could be back at any time. Hopefully he gets right in time for BYU.
Pop quiz. Who is Todd McShay talking about in this list of the top ten available linebackers for the upcoming NFL draft?
At 6-foot-3, 232 pounds, [X] is an undersized inside linebacker who doesn't have the speed or explosiveness to make up for that deficiency. But he has been able to overachieve at the collegiate level, thanks in large part to his outstanding instincts and football intelligence. [X] projects as a backup who effectively steps in when called upon on defense and contributes on special teams.
If you said "Desmond Morgan," you are wrong… somehow. That's his take on Joe Bolden. I don't know how closely any of these draft guys are paying attention.
Goodbye, Beck Man. SB Nation on the seven most Beckman things Beckman ever Beckman'd:
3. The Mom's Birthday mystery
Every year, Big Ten Media Days are on different days. And every year, Beckman went to Big Ten Media Days and wished his mom a happy birthday.
He never said, "I'd like to wish my mom, whose birthday it was YESTERDAY, a happy birthday."
This April, Beckman explained the mix-up. He is well aware of his mom's birthday -- he wanted to give her a shoutout as a coach's wife and coach's mom who never really got to be around her husband/son as much as she wanted around her birthday -- but I always liked the idea of Beckman celebrating his mom's birthday 365 days a year.
I was hoping we'd get one last season of the guy squinting at people, but the way he went out is perfect. Of all the bad hires in the last decade of college football, his has to be the most mysterious. I cannot imagine Beckman walking into a job interview—any job interview—and coming out of it employed.
Pat Narduzzi almost went to jail for kiwi murder. He would have missed no games for MSU:
Pat Narduzzi w/ quite the first impression on the ACC teleconference, sharing a Scott Shafer tale from their URI days pic.twitter.com/Wt28m9GxeE
— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) September 2, 2015
This actually improves my opinion of his chances at Pitt. If anyone can get the Panthers to stop going 6-6, it's a man willing to murder his colleagues for fun.
The next guy? SI talks to John O'Korn:
At Harbaugh's request, O'Korn has reverted back to how he used to throw the ball before he got to Houston and the coaches there changed his mechanics. "There was a lot of stuff just from top to bottom in the program that my family and I didn't agree with," O'Korn said of his final year at Houston.
O'Korn is completely onboard with the high-energy Harbaugh, though. He has come to expect the unexpected from his new coach, including a phone call at 6 a.m. to ask what jersey number he wanted. O'Korn has also gotten used to Harbaugh's relentless competitiveness. O'Korn still laughs recalling Harbaugh's demonstration of a drop-back drill during a workout this summer.
Harbaugh did eight to 10 repetitions, while each of his quarterbacks only got one or two. "He was going to make sure he got his reps," O'Korn said. "That just shows you what type of competitor he still is. His footwork is phenomenal. He can still play you know."
The QB battle for 2016 should be heated.
An old but epic quote. Kyle Kalis talking to Dennis Dodd:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It has to be a special kind of hell being coached by a former Michiganquarterback while trying to become the next Michigan quarterback.
Especially when the coach is a deity in these parts.
"They don't get it easy," Wolverines guard Kyle Kalis said. "They get the hand of the Lord."
This was published just a couple days after I posted the QB preview piece. If any Michigan players inclined to drop awesome quotes in the future could do so a tiny bit earlier in the summer I would appreciate it.
Etc.: Michigan issues a couple of scholarships to walk-ons, making this offseason Pipkins thing even weirder. MVictors has your obsessive uniform documentation covered. Week-old Austin Davis article that I didn't link before because preview week. Visually impressive piece on student fans from Michigan Engineering(?). The NFL is and always will be the worst. Top five most absurd Brandon stories from Endzone.
9/3/2015 – Michigan 17, Utah 24 – 0-1
I feel like I wrote this column already. In 2008, Michigan played a Utah team people expected would be pretty good. (They ended up very good, going undefeated, beating 'Bama in a bowl game, and finishing #2.) Michigan lost a somewhat close game. After, I used the then-skeletal luxury boxes as a metaphor for the team: under construction.
Michigan is still under construction. It has been under construction for going on eight years now. We brought in one company that insisted on turning half the building into pudding storage, and then it was a snake museum, and then a sand silo. Eventually the thing looked like the world's most totally rad Porsche hooked up to a pile of pudding, snakes, and quicksand. The next company fixed that at the same time they turned the rad Porsche into a Yugo full of clowns and if NEITHER OF THESE THINGS SOUNDS AT ALL LIKE A BUILDING YOU MAY BE ON TO SOMETHING THERE.
I also feel like I wrote this column already. Last year Michigan played Utah relatively even down to down, in fact outgaining the Utes, and lost because they were minus three in turnovers. This year they played Utah relatively even, outgained the Utes, and lost because they were (functionally) minus three in turnovers. Oh look, it's the game we play against Utah.
That there is a game we play against Utah that is a loss in which Michigan's offense spends much of its time armpit farting says a lot about the state of the program now, but you can go two paragraphs up if you'd like to relive that some more. You might. You're a Michigan fan. By now you must be into some pretty weird stuff.
The game wasn't quite the same as those other two. This one was less depressing. The first featured a walk-on at quarterback; afterwards it was clear that Michigan was going to struggle to maintain their bowl streak.
Last year was this game:
You know, the one with the downpour that everyone left during that was the end of Brady Hoke before THE END OF BRADY HOKE against Minnesota. The one with the ten-man punt return. The one with the column titled "By This Grainy Screenshot We Will Curse Thy Name."
So it wasn't that. Neither was it the grand debut of a Stanfordized Michigan. Despite the occasional media doofus retcon about Michigan fans being brought back to reality, nobody actually expected that in year one, and especially not game one.
I will admit was hoping they'd have a run longer than seven yards.
Not so much. Utah's burly front straight up whipped the Michigan offensive line. One replay of a failed third-and-short sneak featured Ben Braden getting moonwalked back into the quarterback. Mason Cole specialized in second-level whiffs. Kyle Kalis got dumped on his ass in the first half. Large creases were virtually nonexistent. Other than De'Veon Smith missing a cutback lane on second and three in the second half, lanes eschewed weren't obvious enough to induce groans.
They just could not cope with the defensive line, and that sounds like the most familiar thing of all. So we reset expectations again. Once more they have an offensive line working towards competency in a new system, and this will hold them back until such time as it doesn't anymore.
I wish I knew when that was going to be. It should be coming, as it always seems to for Harbaugh. It's hard not to be impatient when you've seen this all before. I have, and it's fine, I guess. I have faith that Jim Harbaugh is going to get there and everything will be wonderful and full of sprinkles topped with sprinkles. Yes, the struggle to the top is critical to the reward at the end. I would still like to fast forward to that bit.
Yet To Be Named Harbaugh-Themed Guys Who Did Good Award. #1 Jake Butt quickly established himself one of those WR/TEs that is basically Ertz/Fleener Voltron.
#2 Chris Wormley tore through the Utah line like it was made of tissue paper several times in the first half; by the second Utah had just about given up on trying to run Booker inside.
#3 Willie Henry also thundered his way through the line with frequency, pressuring Wilson and dissuading
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh had a bunch of catches and one unfortunately critical drop; De'Veon Smith looked like a guy who will be a nightmare if he gets gaps consistently; Jourdan Lewis shut his guy off; Jabrill Peppers erased screens.
3: Jake Butt (#1, Utah)
2: Chris Wormley (#2, Utah)
1: Willie Henry (#3, Utah)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
For the single individual best moment.
Jake Butt skies over two defensive backs to bring in a spectacular #buttdown.
Honorable mention: Blake O'Neill drops a delayed punt at the two yard line. Wormley storms through the center of the line for a TFL.
Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Rudock throws a pick six in the general direction of Grant Perry, who was in the general direction of Rudock's two other picks.
Honorable mention: The two other picks. That 74 yard Utah punt. That Utah fumble that bounced directly to the only other Ute in a six-block radius.
Utah: circle route pick six.
[After THE JUMP: a much shorter bullets section than normal because usually I have an extra day to pull this all together, Thursday games are stupid]