to play football, not to play trumpet
Michigan Monday is up at Ohio State site "The Ozone."
I will go ahead and block quote a few nuggets from the article.
EDIT: This is NOT Michigan Monday. But still an interesting article.
It would be just like it was in 1969, a first-year coach and his inspired and hungry troops ready to repeat history, spoiling everything the favored Buckeyes had planned for another Big Ten and national title.
The second edition of the “Ten-Year War” would break out right before our very eyes.
What is that, you say?
It didn’t happen that way?
Just when you least expect it, the football Gods have a funny way of stunning the narrative and distributing humility along the way.
Michigan has done its part, however. The Wolverines are 9-2 and could have been 10-1 if not for a miracle that handed Michigan State the play of the year back in October. On the flip side, they really could be 7-4, if not for last-second survivals at Minnesota and at Indiana in consecutive weeks.
The important part is that they are much, much better than the mediocre teams that Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke put together the past 10 years.
The bottom line: Michigan is Michigan again and the sky is blue in Ann Arbor again and many wonder if the pendulum of momentum in the series is about to swing North again.
As for the Buckeyes, they will not strut into Ann Arbor as the story line suggested. History will not repeat itself. There is no doubting they are a wounded duck now, shot down by that same Michigan State squad and now lacking the confidence to consistently gain a first down, much less dominate these Wolverines.
Meyer has to be downright shocked at his team’s offensive problems, which have been consistent from the time he tinkered with two quarterbacks and was as indecisive as the junior high school cheerleader dating two handsome boys at once. What would have been the odds that these Buckeyes would not score 50 or more points even once this season – against a schedule that included two MAC teams, Hawaii, Rutgers, Maryland, Illinois and Indiana?
If Meyer can put that psychology degree to use this week and get Ohio State mentally ready to play, especially after one of his best players criticized the coaching staff for the world to hear, because let’s face it -- that’s his uphill battle -- then maybe the Buckeyes have a fighting chance Saturday. Because this team’s problems are not physical. They lie strictly underneath those Buckeye leaf stickers.
“We’re just not operating at maximum capacity,” Meyer admitted Monday. “But we’re still 10-1. So what I am trying to do now is (put) every ounce of ability, every ounce of energy and focus is going on trying to win this game.”
Maybe, just maybe, the tables have been turned with Ohio State’s stunning loss and turmoil last week. Maybe, just maybe, the Buckeyes have the favored Wolverines right where they want them.
That’s only wishful thinking.
Michigan will win this game.
I felt that way a week ago before the Michigan State stunner and that feeling is much stronger today, obviously.
There are a few silver linings to a Michigan win in Harbaugh’s debut as head coach against the Buckeyes: It won’t be an upset, and, as long as the Spartans defeat Penn State as expected later in the day, the Wolverines won’t have a chance at the Big Ten championship much less anything bigger.
Yep, thank God for muffed punts and the miracle of all plays.
Michigan Monday is up over at Ohio State website The Ozone. Not as good a read as usual.
I will cut and paste several points here for those of you who are too lazy to click through. FTR, these cuts are long . . . excerpts are less than a third of the whole article, so go if you want more content.
The 307 yards are the most that a Michigan defense has given up since the Buckeyes went for 393 yards in the 2013 game. Other than those two games, however, nobody else has eclipsed the 300-yard mark on the ground against the Wolverines since 2010.
Indiana running back Jordan Howard carried the ball 35 times for 238 yards (6.8 ypc) and two touchdowns. He was stopped for a loss just once in those 35 carries, which gives you an idea of the kind of control that the Hoosiers had at the line of scrimmage. Fortunately for the Michigan defense, the Michigan offense got to play against an Indiana defense that defends the pass about as well as a watermelon defends a sledgehammer.
We’ll get into it more down below, but it was an impressive performance from a quarterback who is just overflowing with confidence right now. That being said, getting too worked up about 440 yards through the air against Indiana is a little like bragging to your wife about how you just destroyed Junior in Trivial Pursuit, and then adding that you’re “not sure what his third-grade teacher is even teaching him at that backwards, hillbilly school.”
When Michigan was on offense:
The Wolverines threw the ball 46 times and ran it 28 times – although one of those “runs” was actually a sack during a pass play. Also, Rudock scrambled a handful of times as well, so basically they tried to throw it about 50 times and tried to run it about 25 times. This all seems very un-Jim-Harbaugh-like, but such is the state of the Michigan offense right now.
Of note, Rudock completed four passes that lost yards: -10 yards to Jake Butt, -7 to Jake Butt, -8 to Jabrill Peppers and -2 to De’Veon Smith. Had those guys dropped those four passes, Rudock would have thrown for 467 yards instead of 440 yards, which is sort of funny.
There are two reasons why Michigan threw the ball so well and so often against Indiana. The first is because Indiana’s pass defense is an abomination. The second reason, however, is because Michigan couldn’t simply line up and run the ball on the Hoosier defense.
All told, the running backs carried the ball 21 times for 77 yards (3.7 ypc) and no scores. Rudock’s 71 yards gained was a life saver for Michigan, as he was 3 for 3 on picking up the first down on third-down carries. Michigan scored 17 points in regulation on those three drives.
When Michigan was on defense:
The Wolverines missed quite a few tackles in this game, and the worst thing about it is that they weren’t misses in space, they were misses in the box. They had players in position who could have kept Jordan Howard from rushing for 238 yards, but they didn’t.
This wasn’t a good game for the linebackers as evidenced by the fact that Indiana ran the ball 55 times and starters Joe Bolden (8) and Desmond Morgan (5) combined for just 13 tackles. Safeties Delano Hill and Jarrod Wilson, meanwhile, each had 10 tackles, and Hill didn’t even get the start.
As I said above, I fully expected the linebackers and safeties to be attacked in the passing game, but Indiana went at them with the running game, which isn’t a good sign for what still lays ahead of the Wolverines.
When Michigan was on special teams:
Michigan has found something with Jourdan Lewis at kickoff return. He averaged 30.3 yards on his three returns with a long of 38 yards. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go the distance in one of Michigan’s remaining games this season.
What does it all mean?
It means that maybe Michigan fans shouldn’t have reveled in Michigan State constantly talking about their injuries because now the Wolverines are seeing what happens when an area like the defensive line thins out more than a team can handle.
I still think these next two weeks could turn out perfectly fine for Michigan because Penn State’s offense isn’t all that tricky and the Buckeyes seem to be addicted to slow starts this season. But what happens in the fourth quarter when the Wolverines are tired on defense? Will they be able to put up a stop? They were this time around, albeit against an Indiana team that has the intimidation value of a puppy on a birthday card.
But it also means that maybe Michigan can throw the ball around on teams that don’t happen to possess the worst pass defenses in the nation. The protection needs to hold up, as does Rudock’s confidence, but with receivers like Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, Amara Darboh (provided he actually catches the ball), and Jabrill Peppers, there is definitely something to work with here.
It has been a pretty memorable year for the Wolverines, but exactly how this season is judged will be determined in these next two games. And it can go either way.
Michigan Monday is up at the Ozone.
I really wondered how much Gerdeman would gloat or diss Michigan. Actually, he seems to feel our pain:
A thousand different scenarios, and maybe three where Michigan doesn't leave the Big House with a win. That's why, for me, this is clearly the gutwrenchingest college football loss that I have ever seen. The good news for Michigan fans is that you'll never have to worry about something like this happening again because the mathematical probabilities just don't stretch that far.
On offense, he highlights several things:
- Failure to gain more than 100 yds rushing (like Utah).
- Only 3 completed passes actually travelled more than 20 yds in the air.
- Rudock failed to connect with Chesson on a pass that would have sealed the game.
- Rudock failed to take advantage of freshmen safeties, an opportunity that was there all game long.
Michigan played well again. Burbridge and Lewis was a fascinated duel to watch between two budding stars.
On special teams,
Very good play, but you can't discount the mistakes made on the final play. Not all of which (but much of which) falls on Blake O'Neill.
What does it all mean?
It means that Jake Rudock did enough to win the game, but he didn't actually do anything to win the game. The fact that Michigan was in a position to win this game despite being out-gained 386 to 230 and out-first downed 20 to 10 is an amazing feat. Every step of the way Jim Harbaugh had to figure out a way to overcome his lack of a running game while also hiding his lack of a passing game. This is some MacGyver-level stuff on Harbaugh's part. You wonder what he could have done had he found a paper clip or a rubber band or some hydrochloric acid in his pocket.
The future is ok this year, and great for the future.
Despite how far away this team is in terms of championship talent, they have shown the ability to put enough of their abilities together to win any game on their schedule. Unfortunately, they are just not good enough on offense to hide their weaknesses, and if the opponent sticks around long enough, those weaknesses will be exploited, as we have seen in both of Michigan's losses this season.
As always, Gerdeman's analysis is generally fair and insightful. Early in the season, Harbaugh said he didn't know what kind of team he had. Now we know. If Harbaugh can get this much out of the current team, I can only imagine what he will do when he has a team made up of guys he actually recruited.
Michigan Monday is up at The Ozone. LINK: What is the Opposite of Passing Fancy?
Today I'm not going to cup and paste quite as much. Go to the link to read lots more. I really appreciate that Gerdeman has went through some of the numbers in analysis.
Summary Statement (which isn't far from the truth)
The offense and defense were stellar early on, then Harbaugh sent the offense to bed and let the defense stay up and watch a violent television show of their own creation.
This will be the formula that Michigan wins with until they have an offense that doesn't have to be hidden away when company comes over. I don't know if that's going to happen this season, however, because the quarterback situation keeps trying to climb up on the couch.
When Michigan was on offense (just going to look at Rudock):
Monday afternoon Jim Harbaugh said that senior Jake Rudock is the starting quarterback and that he is so far out ahead of the pack that it's not even a close race. That's not Rudock's fault, it's Brady Hoke's. Just imagine if Rudock hadn't transferred to Michigan — the Wolverines would be starting a guy who isn't even close to playing as well as Rudock is right now.
[Rudock] poses no downfield threat and he'd rather not challenge cornerbacks if he doesn't have to. He completed 14-22 passes for 123 yards with a touchdown and an interception against UNLV, but where his passes went is the truly interesting part of his day.
Here is how far downfield his completions went when they were caught by a receiver: 7, 5, 7, 4, 2, -2, -1, 3, 7, 12, -2, 1, -2, and 3 yards. (His incompletions looked like this: 12, 5, 13, 9, 32, 1, 25, 33.) That's four completions that were thrown at least seven yards downfield and eight that didn't go beyond three yards. That's not exactly the kind of passing game that gives the running game a break by backing up the defense.
NOTE: I was actually very curious about this stat. Rudock MUST start completing passes significantly down the field, else every remaining team crowds the LOS just as UNLV did.
I realize that Rudock did actually go down field, but until he does it effectively, nobody is going to be overly concerned about the possibilities.
There is nothing really to say about the receivers, other than they deserve better than what they got on Saturday. They were open, but it didn't matter. It was not good.
Here are a few bullets from the rest:
- Gerdeman really likes Ty Isaac and thinks he is the future.
- Tosses, sweeps, WR's in the running game help to open things up.
- Godin & R. Glasgow were dominating. Ross was pretty good too.
- Stribling and Lewis were spectacular.
- Defense has held opponents to 237 yrds of offense, good for 7th in the nation.
- Peppers will be breaking one soon on special teams. Just a matter of when.
Putting it all together:
It means that this team is only going to go as far as Jake Rudock can keep them from getting.
Even when Rudock is trying to be safe, his wild inaccuracy makes any pass dangerous. As the saying goes, "Aim small, miss small", but for Rudock it's "Aim small, still miss big".
I am hoping Rudock shakes off this slow start, and considering who his head coach is, that should absolutely happen. But I don't think his ceiling has much head room.
It also means that generally seven points per half from the Wolverine offense is all this defense is going to need. Though they might need more than that on Saturday against BYU.
Michigan Monday is up at the Ozone. LINK: OSU Clearly Inferior to U of M.
Most of you are familiar, but this is a regular take on Michigan's weekly game from an Ohio State blogger. Here are a few snippets.
This was a very predictable outcome, as proven by the fact that I had Michigan winning this game 34-7. Oregon State started a freshman quarterback and a soft defense, so this one wasn't too hard to figure out. Still, this was a confidence-building outing for the Wolverines and it was exactly what Jim Harbaugh and his players needed to see. The key will be to build off of it and carry it forward into their game against BYU in a couple of weeks.
When Michigan was on Offense:
It was not a dynamic running game for the Wolverines, but it was certainly effective. Michigan rushed for 225 yards on 48 carries (4.7 avg), but the longest carry was just 19 yards. The Wolverines are one of just 13 teams in the nation who do not yet have a carry of at least 20 yards, and their six carries of 10+ yards is 106th in the nation.
Despite the lack of big hits, the running game was remarkably consistent. Only one carry by a running back was stopped in the backfield, which is a tremendous accomplishment for this offensive line.
This may have been the best game of right guard Ben Braden's career, which is long overdue.
Quarterback Jake Rudock went 18-26 passing for 180 yards and an interception. The pick was a bad throw and very late. It wasn't a deep throw or anything like that, it was a routine pass, and that's just as concerning as the three interceptions he threw last week.
While the Wolverines have yet to find a 20-yard run, they did have four receptions of at least 20 yards, though only one of them came from a wide receiver. Tight ends Ian Bunting and A.J. Williams had receptions of 21 and 22 yards, respectively, and tailback De'Veon Smith had a 20-yard reception.
When Michigan was on Defense:
Wormley was equally effective at crashing down the line of scrimmage as he was reversing field and chasing the ball toward the sideline. And when he wanted to, he would simply blast his way directly into the backfield because he didn't feel like dealing with all of the small talk. Wormley showed flashes at times last year, but right now he's not flashing at all — he's straight neon.
While he continues to have struggles in coverage, redshirt freshman defensive back Jabrill Peppers is extremely fun to watch. He has incredible makeup speed and can cover a ton of ground, and when he gets to the ball somebody is going to pay for it. It may be sacrilegious for me to say this, but he reminds me of 3-time Ohio State All-American safety Mike Doss, but much faster.
What Does it All Mean:
It means that Michigan pounded a team that they should have pounded, and that's something that they were rarely capable of last season.
I have not bought into this running game, and I probably won't until it stops looking so difficult for them even against mediocre teams. A seven-yard run looks like a 20-yard run relative to what we have seen from this team over the last few years.
I am expecting a little bit larger margin of victory next week against UNLV, but the BYU game after that is very intriguing. I can see the Wolverines heading into the October 17 game against Michigan State at 5-1, and I can also see them at 3-3.
If they are at 5-1, however, then 6-1 wouldn't seem like such an outrageous thing to imagine, especially in the Big House.
There's a lot more at the link. Gerdeman usually gives a good read on Michigan, especially on a slow news day before Brian has the UFR up.
Michigan Monday vs. Miami is up over at The Ozone. As always, there's a lot of material there, but the opening statement sums things up well:
The Michigan Wolverines did exactly what they were supposed to do in their 34-10 win over the Miami RedHawks on Saturday, it just took them a little while to actually do it.
When the offense had the ball:
The one aspect of this game that jumped out at me more than any other was how much better Derrick Green looked compared to a week ago.
I'm not saying his problems are over, I'm saying it's good to know that he actually has the ability to see a hole and his brain can tell his legs to head towards it. Usually, the message from his brain to his legs ends in, “This seems like a good place to rest.”
Thoughts on Gardner:
Every week Gardner throws about four passes that should be intercepted, and whether Michigan wins or loses generally depends on how those throws end up.
I don't know if he is lacking confidence, but I imagine that his coaches lack some confidence in him, even though they would never admit it.
For me, whether or not this can become a high-powered offense depends more on Gardner than it does the offensive line right now.
On the stout run defense:
There's no need to show much defensively against Miami, but somebody in the front seven should be able to bring a running back down in the backfield. Obviously the front seven is doing something right because nobody is running on them, but it's almost like they just put up a wall at the line of scrimmage and don't try to cross into the offense's territory.
I don't understand how they are so good against the run, but I can certainly acknowledge that it's happening. Is it because they haven't yet played a team who lives on the run? At least in some part, definitely. I'm just wondering where the penetration is.
On the secondary:
The pass defense had some issues in terms of personnel.
It was good to see Peppers get some extensive time at cornerback instead of nickel. He responded well and I wonder how long it will be until he's starting.
It was also good to see Dymonte Thomas out there at safety for some snaps. He's a big hitter who is still looking to become the player that so many saw when he was a five-star prospect out of Ohio.
On special teams (blistering comments on clock mismanagement)
Lastly, I suppose this would be the best place to talk about an instance in this game that pretty much characterized everything wrong with Brady Hoke as a head coach.
The crowd was booing from the first time Hagerup was sent out onto the field. They've grown tired of this mentality at a time when it shouldn't even be in effect. This is Freaking Miami Freaking Of Freaking Ohio. They didn't win a game last year. Are you that unsure of your team or your own ability to coach them that you think not getting six yards with under a minute to play is going to allow them to go the 40-odd yards necessary just to get a crack at a long field goal attempt? How does this instill confidence in anybody?
The execution was horrific, but the mentality was even worse. Brady Hoke went full Ferentz, and you never go full Ferentz.
There's much, much more, but I've already quoted too much as it is. Read it all if you're starving for content prior to the UFR's coming up mid-week.
EDIT: So, going forward, I'll probably continue to link to Michigan Monday if no one else does. (Brian linked there after ND, and someone else did the week before against ASU. I don't own MM or have a particular claim on it . . . just think that Gerdeman is one of the better reads out there.) However, I think my use of block quotes was egregious, and so I will shorten that down a bit. On a different yet related note, I'd love for someone on the staff to watch the OSU game weekly, and provide a similar synopsis of the Buckeyes for MGoBlog as we head toward the end of November.