a terrible blight on our fine country
|WHAT||UNLV at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 19th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan -34|
|WEATHER||mid-60s, AM rain ceasing around gametime, 15 mph winds|
The Rebels, or at least UNLV beat writers, are entering this game with a modest goals:
Depth will be an issue all year and that makes getting out of this third game healthy arguably more important than the scoreboard. …
The good news is Decker’s injury isn’t as severe as expected. The better news will be if that’s still true Saturday afternoon.
All right then. Michigan's disappointed as huge favorites before, but UNLV enters this game battered and expecting little.
The recipe for a nerve-wracking game or colossal upset starts with a quarterback who can play out of his mind and a run defense that can prevent Michigan from rolling over them. UNLV's starting QB is questionable and their run defense is hilariously undersized. A Hoke rushing offense could probably barf this up; it would be a surprise if Harbaugh's could even in week three of his career as Michigan's head coach.
Run Offense vs UNLV
FAKA ME?! FAKAUHO!
UNLV has not had a promising start in this department. Northern Illinois rushed for 185 yards at 4.4 a pop; UCLA went for 273 at 5.8. It doesn't take much digging to figure out why this might not be going that well:
UNLV's defensive line features one returning starter, two 230 pound guys—one of whom plays a lot of DT(!) at 6'6"(!!)—and a dude whose last name sounds like Joe Pesci yelling at you. Only the latter has the requisite size (and RBF) for the major level of competition. Baldwin hops around a lot and they'll often show a 3-3-5 look, but that still leaves you with a 230 pound guy on a 3-man front. Ain't no way around it: they're tiny. They will spend the entire game trying to slant, stunt, and confuse their way into the backfield, because if Michigan latches on to them they're going for the proverbial "ride."
Meanwhile we have no idea who UNLV's third linebacker might be since they never left nickel against the Bruins, instead preferring 165-pound freshman Darius Mouton (who I don't think is related to Jonas, FWIW) even on short yardage.
This adds up to not very good. Ace:
So... this is basically Oregon State but even smaller and less talented. UCLA ran for 5.8 yards per carry on a bunch of stuff that looked like this:
The defensive line got no push, the linebackers were unathletic and often caught up in the wash, and the play usually got to the secondary before initial contact was made. UCLA was able to do this while spreading out UNLV; Michigan should have even more success loading up and going right at them—they don't look like they can hold up against a big, run-heavy team.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the run defense?
UNLV has responded to personnel deficiencies by dialing up a ton of blitzes. These leave their secondary somewhat exposed, but that would seem to be the recipe against Michigan as well. M has not displayed much deep ball ability yet, and for the Rebs it's get busy blitzin' or get busy dyin'.
Michigan's half of this is very promising for a certain level of competition. UNLV fits neatly in this box. UNLV may huddle in a corner of this box hoping nobody picks it out. Alas, poor UNLV: De'Veon Smith is coming for your life force.
Michigan will want to build on a mauling game against Oregon State by correctly identifying all the games UNLV wants to play and blasting them into the stratosphere. This won't be much of a physical test; it promises to be an interesting mental one.
KEY MATCHUP: The Front X versus Targeting Correctly. M did a great job in the last game. This one provides an opportunity to build.
[Hit THE JUMP for VARIOUS ADDITIONAL SMALL PERSONS, AT LEAST IN THE CONTEXT OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL.]
Shallman just tweeted a picture of himself apparently about to undergo surgery:
— Wyatt Shallman (@WyattShallman) September 18, 2015
I don't know how many times I have exited Michigan Stadium. I've never counted. I know that I've crossed the threshold with my hands defiantly pushed into my hoodie's front pocket in silent protest at the insanity of trading a quarter of Michigan football for less traffic. I've left the Big House with those same hands expressively communicating an important point about The Fellowship of the Ring to a fraternity brother. I've left with them running through my rain-soaked hair, left with them clutching my temples for fear my skull might come apart at the seams, and left with them pumping "It's Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine!" into the night. I have at different times in my life, walked out of that edifice gripping a smart phone, a new set of cupware, my father's farm-calloused hand, and a degree. But not once when I came to that threshold, did I ever need those hands for expressing "Farewell."
Last November Jamie Mac did, because he thought he was going to die:
As halftime approached, we had had enough. The weather was cold. The football was miserable. Most of the rest of our crew was at a bar. It was time to join them. I was fine with that until we were actually about to leave the stadium grounds. While my friends hustled out to flag a cab on Stadium Boulevard, I froze, not wanting to pass through the exit gates the way Archie Moonlight Graham didn't want to cross over the first baseline in the movie Field Of Dreams. Moonlight knew he would not be able to play ball on the Field of Dreams anymore once he crossed over that baseline. And I was afraid that once I left Michigan Stadium, I would never return.
The author of Just Cover Blog, regular contributor to this site and the podcast, and nicest Michigan fan you'll ever meet, had what happened to Michigan happen to his body. If you passed his tailgate at the end of Fingerle or had a beer with him at Football Eve, you already know that things turned out pretty Harbaugh for him too. But as I crossed beneath a brick arch for the uncountable time, I found my hand was on my cheek, using the center finger to plug a tear duct, because after reading that diary all I could think about while walking out of the Big House was what a wonderful thing it is that Jamie still gets to.
[Deep breath, then jump for the rest of the best in reader-contributed content in the other tone]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
UNLV (0-2, 0-0 MWC)
Last week: Lost to #13 UCLA, 37-3
Recap: UNLV has… well, let’s be polite and say that they have some issues. Their starting quarterback, Blake Decker, pulled a hamstring or a groin early in this one. His replacement, Kurt Palandech, went 4 for 15 for 4 yards and an INT. No, that is not a typo. 4 yards on 15 attempts. Overall, the Yes We Are The Rebels Deal With Its were outgained better than 2-to-1 (526 to 237). Their only scoring drive was a four play, zero yard march after they intercepted UCLA’s backup at the UCLA 14 at the veeeeeeery end of the 4th quarter.
This team is as frightening as: A cow being lowered into the velociraptor cage. Fear Level = 1.5
Michigan should worry about: You see… uh…
Michigan can sleep soundly about: UNLV has lost 8 in a row, and are currently ranked #117 in FEI and #123 in S&P+. They are bad at football.
When they play Michigan:
This week: @ Michigan, noon, BTN
[After the jump: a guide for when to punt]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
Let me further emphasize the fact that pants are entirely optional when you go with HomeSure Lending. I mean, it's not like Matt has anything against pants. You want to go with pants, you go ahead. If you want to go with a mumu or board shorts or whatever, also fine. He can't see you. Also, excellent rates. He may have wanted me to emphasize that instead of the pants.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan went heavier in this game. I did not this week but in the future I am going to start specifying H-backs like Butt in this shot:
While TEs lined up next to other TEs are often H-backs in the offense I'm going to reserve the H designation for either the above or instances where there is a tight end near the LOS but tucked inside the edges of the line.
Michigan also had an under-center version of the diamond formations that Oklahoma State and other spread teams started implementing a year or two ago:
Generally the diamond had a tailback with a tight end and the fullback in front of him. In fall camp there was the occasional rumble of these formations featuring all tailbacks. Not yet; that would be something they hold for a tenser outing, I think.
I had no idea what to call this goal line formation with the FB and RB next to each other.
And if I call something "tight bunch" this is generally what I mean:
That's a TE, FB, and WR in the bunch. Harbaugh loves throwing out buckets of formations with 2 RB, 1 TE personnel. In the Utah game this was very frequently a pitch sweep; Michigan broke that tendency in this game by running off-tackle- ish at the bunch.
FWIW, I am designating Houma and Kerridge as FBs and listing all other blocky catchy types as TEs.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL was the same as it was against Utah: Cole/Braden/Glasgow/Kalis/Magnuson. Braden got dinged and left for a play or two; David Dawson entered in his place. That's not a huge surprise but there were a couple rumbles that Blake Bars might be the first guy in the game. That may be the case if a tackle goes out; it's apparently not the case at guard.
QB Rudock; RB was Smith almost the whole way until the fourth quarter, when Isaac and Green got the stress-free time. Isaac did spot Smith at various times in the first three quarters.
WR was the same rotation between Darboh, Chesson, and Harris on the outside. Perry got less time but I think that was more an effect of playing a lot of tight ends than anything else. Moe Ways got scattered snaps as well.
At tight end, every available one played except Khalid Hill. No idea what's going on with him. Fullback was mostly Kerridge until late when Houma came in to impress us all with his running and hair; Kerridge reportedly had a stinger.
[After THE JUMP: we can has manballs?]
Previously: UNLV Offense
SS Peni Vea (#42) is half of an aggressive UNLV safety duo.
In positive news, UNLV's defense didn't look as bad as their offense in their 37-3 loss to UCLA.
In negative news, UCLA left a ton of points on the board early, and that was with a hurry-up spread-to-pass offense that looks less suited to exploiting UNLV's weak areas than Michigan's smashmouth outfit. Let's get this over with.
Personnel: Like Oregon State, this is an inexperienced and undersized group [click to embiggen]:
Yes, that is a 230-pound DT, and he really does play DT.
Base Set? UNLV lists themselves as a base nickel and show two starters at DT, but they're really more of a 3-4 team. It's tough to tell what UNLV will run against Michigan because UCLA's offense almost never went fewer than three-wide and stayed in the gun. This was about as heavy as they got and UNLV countered with essentially a 3-3-5 under:
The standup rusher on the near side is listed as a DE on UNLV's depth chart; their two guys on the depth chart at that spot weight 230 and 245 pounds, so neither had their hand in the dirt much at all. The strong safety is creeping up to fake a blitz and take the H-back in man coverage. The 230-pound DT is playing nose on this play; he actually got decent push but the running back had ample room to the weak side with nobody else getting off their blocks. That would be a theme.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Looking at last week’s data was an exercise in finding where the minute differences were; this week’s data is an exercise in finding where there aren’t massive ones. Michigan gave up a long, low play-count drive to begin the game and then shut down the Oregon State offense. It shows in the number of plays run (M: 76, OSU: 55) and in yards per play and scoring opportunities and so on, all the way up to the final score. Michigan turned into 2007 Ohio State in the second half and experienced a strikingly similar result.
Michigan’s domination of Oregon State did have a few bumps along the way. The first drive was as bad as it looked. Oregon State averaged 7.9 yards per play and had three explosive plays (two rushes and one pass) in a seven-play drive. The drive was anything but methodical; their success rate was just 42.9%, but the two long runs and one long pass counteracted their inability to stay in favorable down-and-distance situations. Michigan wasn’t bled to death, but was definitely bludgeoned. A low success rate proved to be foreshadowing Oregon State’s undoing as their explosiveness fizzled after the first drive, and that alone was enough to take them out of the game.
Oregon State followed up their big first drive with a two-play drive that ended in a turnover and a three and out that gave Michigan the ball at their 32 yard line, which is a pretty favorable place to start. OSU pulled things together momentarily, however, and had three eight-play drives through the rest of the first half. The problem with those three drives is that only one of them ended in Michigan territory, and that resulted in a turnover on downs after moving the ball 50 yards (6.25 YPP). The other two drives went 31 yards (3.87 YPP) and –17 yards (-2.125 YPP), with the negative yardage drive the result of the snap so high above the punter’s head that it almost hit the hanging camera.
[After THE JUMP: There’s a field position section so of course I used the crazy sky snap gif]
[ED (Seth): By now you guys know Joe Pichey of MMMGoBlueBBQ, and you know that and why Stubb's sponsors having him write his recipes on here.
I don't know that you're yet familiar with Stubb's story so here goes: C.B. Stubblefield was a incredibly congenial preacher's son and Korean War vet with "hands the size of briskets." At his first ramshackle white stucco restaurant in Lubbock his trademark was slow-cooking brisket while singing blues, eventually to the accompaniment of a jukebox he filled with the stuff. When he relocated to a new place in Austin this turned into jam sessions with the local artists, which led to "Jam Jar Sessions," i.e. hanging out in budding musician Joe Ely's kitchen, filling jam jars and whiskey bottles with Stubb's sauce. It got big in '91 when Ely handed out bottles on Late Night with David Letterman, and the crew liked it so much they invited Stubb's on the show.]
A pork stuffed pineapple wrapped in bacon, slow smoked and kissed with a little Stubbs Sriracha Anytime sauce is known as a SWINEAPPLE. And it's tasty!!! How can this not be a new GAME DAY tradition? We've got sweet, spicy and baconeeee. Yes, that's a new word. These new Stubbs Anytime sauces are no joke. Give em a try. This fun recipe will give your tailgate guests something to talk about and give you a reason to wear that super comfortable, oversized hawaiian shirt that your wife and/or girlfriend hate.
- 1 Pineapple
- Chorizo…Pulled Pork…Pork Tenderloin…Pulled Chicken (Your choice of meat)
- 3 TBS Stubbs Texas Sriracha Anytime Sauce
- 1 lb bacon (Thick Cut)
- 2 TBS Stubbs Pork Spice Rub
[After the jump: Underwater Bacon Weaving.]
To the turnovers with Jake [Rudock]: is that a concern, or something where you don't see him do it much in practice so…?
“Well, the first game, obviously we never want to play with three turnovers. Three interceptions in that game, and then this past game with the sack-fumble and the interception. So, I guess you'd be accounted for five, which is tough because of the fact that a lot of things go into all of those. The one that I was most disappointed on probably was the sack-fumble because that was the most avoidable. He had an opportunity to kick it out there when he was hot and he held onto the ball there. But the others, you know, we’ve gotta- I think he played very smart football this past week in comparison to maybe one or two plays at Utah that you’d probably like to take back.
“But no, he's not a guy that's been prone to throw interceptions. So he's thrown four, which is two right now a game. If he can have a few games with zero he'll get right back to his average. If you throw one a game you throw 12 for the year. If you could get a few games with zero you get that number down to about six or seven, so he's got to do that. He's got to strive for that number to get to about somewhere less than 10 for the year and try to double the touchdowns. You'd like to get to a 2 to 1 ratio there or more, so we’ll look for that. But yeah, I think that he's smart with the ball. Doesn't take sacks. Only one sack in 76 pass attempts, so that's exciting.”
What would you consider an optimal performance from your quarterbacks?
“Yeah, well, he was close with 70% completion. I think if you could get to that number every week you’d be awfully happy. I think the interception was the second to last pass he threw on the night or day. So, you know, that was unfortunate in that situation. He certainly didn't have to cram a ball in there up 21 points, so he could've walked away from the game – had a couple touchdown pass opportunities.
“Went kind of to a different side, which they were some opportunities there that… So I'd love to walk away with A couple of touchdowns, a 70% completion, and no interceptions. Sign me up for that. And he had that one sack which was avoidable, so we could've gone two games without a sack, which is a credit to all 11.”
[After THE JUMP: Checkdowns, rub routes, and playcalling logistics]
Seriously? The "Rebels"? The State of Nevada literally joined the Union in the Civil War! The City of Las Vegas didn't even exist until the 1900s! So why the Confederate symbolism?
To understand why UNLV students cast themselves as rebels, it helps to understand the civil war being waged in state politics when Southern Nevada’s university was founded, in 1957. The school, which began as a “branch” of the University of Nevada, in Reno, had to fight the political power of the north to become autonomous.
Further confusing things, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas—and in fact all the crap people associate with Las Vegas—isn't even in Las Vegas! (Mind: blown.)
If all this, plus "scarlet and gray" as school colors, sounds like a new low for dumbest university ever conceived, well, wait'll you see them play football!
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-30" or "35-31 Michigan", or "28-24 Go Blue", or "38-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we push it to next week or let it go.
About Last Time:
A good ol'fashioned 35-7 beat-down of an overmatched team in Fielding Yost's big ol' hole in the ground. Nobody got it correct—one guy guessed 35-5, and I even mentioned if he won he'd forever by the guy who won by guessing a Brianesque score. But mGOlog had to guess the comparatively likely score of 35-6. Way to underrate their kicker, log. You get a print!
This Week's Game:
Yes they may look like the Buckeyes, but that's really UNLV in the Big House. Speaking of the Big House…
And on the Line:
JON FALK HAS ANOTHER BOOK! Big Jon isn't just part of the fabric of Michigan; he's the soul of it. From 1974 to 2014, the now retired equipment manager was there for every locker room speech, saw everything that could ever happen, handled every situation so well you'll feel bad about how unwell you comparatively do your job, and—teaser—fixed a few things that could have gotten very fouled up. Every former assistant and player to come back made his requisite stop by Falk to catch up. Filling one book with those stories was terribly hard because he had to leave so much out. Filling a second was easy until it also ran out of space long before it did content.
I have yet to read it because Brian keeps forgetting to give me my copy. But I just discovered today it's on Kindle so ta ta until this weekend.