[ed-Seth: Thanks again to Matt Gase, Michigan grad and CEO of Eat Well Embrace Life, for being a most excellent sponsor of Joe Pichey’s most excellent recipes. How I’d rank them: 1) Sriracha Carrot, 2) Yellow Lentil, 3) Edamame, 4) Black Bean, 5) Three-Peppers (no relation), 6) Wasabi Edamame, 7) White Bean, 8) Red lentil, 9) Beet, 10) Any other hummus. I don’t like beets. My wife keeps buying it because her list is almost my list in reverse.]
Over the last few years, I’ve developed a strong taste for lamb. At first, I wasn’t a big fan. I’m not sure whether it was the texture or the strong flavor, but it took awhile to grow on me. Now, I try and work it into my tailgates whenever possible. The one thing I notice is how it’s either gone within 5 minutes or barely touched. It’s one of those “All or nothing” meats. I rarely fin d someone that is SO-SO on lamb. They either love it and can’t get enough or they turn and run. I hope this recipe helps change some minds on lamb and you can sneak it in on your next tailgate. Typically, I grill my lamb to a rare or medium rare, but wanted to try something new. This is the first time I’ve tried this, so fingers crossed. I cooked this one like a pork butt and pulled it for lamb nachos, street lamb tacos and shredded lamb sliders.
- Boneless Leg of Lamb (4 - 5 lbs)
- Pita bread or Pita Chips
- Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus (Sriracha Carrot Hummus)
- Kalamata Olives
- Feta Cheese
- Pico De Gallo
- Slider Buns
Lamb Au Jus :
- 2 cups Beef Broth
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 2 TBS Hot Sauce
- 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
[Hit THE JUMP for salt and garlic and meat]
Things actually went pretty well for Maryland. They piled up 367 yards at a 5.6 yards-per-play clip. Their average start was on their own 25.1-yard line, which is a couple of yards behind opponents’ average starting spot against Michigan, but their success rate was a very respectable 35%. Maryland had four players who had 30+-yard receptions on the day, including one that went for 47 yards. They even picked up 19 first downs, a surprising 12 of which came via the pass.
All of that didn’t lead to much in the way of points, of course. Maryland finished with three points on three scoring opportunities; their doinked field goal and tunnel screen that got tackled at the one-yard line as time ran out in the first half could both have been converted and it still wouldn’t have mattered considering the way Michigan’s offense was operating on Saturday.
Michigan averaged 10 yards per play. They had 10 drives and posted 10 scoring opportunities. They averaged 5.9 points per scoring opportunity. Their success rate was 65%, they picked up 31 first downs (including a 14-14 split passing and rushing), and they finished +2 in turnover margin. They were, in effect, unstoppable.
Maryland had a pretty good game relative to what opponents usually do against Michigan’s defense; it once again came mostly via a couple big busts and didn’t make a big impact on the defense’s overall stats. The story of Michigan’s season to this point isn’t how dominant the defense has been, but how far the offense has come. Last season the defense was statistically great enough to prop up (until that one game) the middling offense.
This year, Michigan’s defense has spent most of the season atop the S&P+ rankings and in the top 10 of defensive FEI (they’re currently ranked sixth). The offense’s success rate and explosiveness (IsoPPP) have steadily climbed, their average starting field position has been the best in the nation for a while, and the offense as a whole is now ranked eighth per S&P+. According to FEI, the offense is the best in the nation; they were ranked third before Maryland, and they climbed multiple spots after they game in every category offensive FEI tracks. This is not 1997 and it is not 2015. Michigan finally has an offense that should worry opposing coaches in its own right. They happen to couple it with the best defense in the country. It’s going to be an interesting two months.
[After THE JUMP: more on Maryland, Connelly’s Five Factors, combing through FEI, and looking at Iowa’s stren—looking at Iowa]
- Watching Harbaugh set the world on fire is a mood-improving experience
- The Speightening! Best one-half performance by a quarterback in Michigan history? Benny Friedman inventing the forward pass and the Drew Bowl in 2000 are the comps.
- Speight was ready to transfer to N.C. State before Drake Harris talked him out of it [ED-Seth: reminder that almost every player ever has thought of transferring]
- Maryland was a terrible run defense so skepticism on the run’s success. Their pass D was probably overrated because nobody bothered to pass on them.
- Receivers bounce back!
- Defense’s holes are becoming apparent on the edge.
- Defending Ohio State: Limit pressure on Barrett by squeezing him into a tiny pocket and make him throw uncomfortably.
- Ed’s three most overrated teams this preseason: Iowa, MSU, and Houston. MSU and Iowa were highly fortunate teams who are reverting to who they are.
- Iowa’s strengths:
- The Situation Trophy!
- Louisville vs. Michigan if Michigan and Washington have a loss.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
Previously: Iowa Offense
mind the wheel
Remember the Penn State offense that Michigan held to 191 total yards on 3.5 YPP?
That same Penn State offense roasted Iowa for 599 yards on 8.6 YPP. PSU only needed to throw the ball 18 times. They averaged 7.2 yards per carry (one sack removed) and 12.3 yards per pass attempt (one sack added).
While not as outright depressing as the offense, Iowa's defense isn't exactly in a good place right now.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Yes, we've removed Mason Cole's star for now; as you've probably gathered from reading this blog, we expected more out of him at center so far this year. He's got a chance to earn it back quickly if he handles Jaleel Johnson, Iowa's dangerous nose tackle.
Base Set? 4-3. Iowa stays in their base package almost exclusively. When opponents go three-wide, OLB Ben Niemann slides over the slot.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
SPONSOR NOTES: We're going to Iowa thanks to Matt, and he's going to be tailgating prior to the game. If you're going, hit him up and stop by. We'll be around for a few hours before the game, traffic and weather willing.
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: Maryland switched between fronts a bunch, seemingly because they were trying to find anything that could possibly work. A 3-4 was their base set through the middle of the game; late and early they were mostly four-man fronts.
None of this went well. Here is an obligatory picture.
Michigan didn't do anything wacky with formations aside from some pistol stuff that is pretty standard at various places around college football.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: 59 snaps for the line before they were pulled on the final drive. Braden-Bredeson-Cole-Kalis-Magnuson for the third straight week; Kugler got two RG snaps after the Kalis personal foul. Butt and Darboh were close to omnipresent with 47 and 44 snaps; Chesson got 33.
De'Veon Smith usage surged to two-thirds of Michigan's snaps, with Ty Isaac limited to four. Evans and Higdon had 13 and 11. Peppers got four. Hill and Poggi continued to split FB snaps about down the middle. Asiasi, Bunting, and Wheatley all got around 20 snaps; Crawford, McDoom, and Harris got around 10.
[After THE JUMP: many, many touchdowns.]
Before I spent a moment working on this post, I knew what would be leading it off, because this came across my feed on Saturday.
Watch Penn State know Iowa's predictable play call pic.twitter.com/4pYTSGuNYZ
— Heavens! (@HeavensHawkeye) November 6, 2016
Is predictability bad? Let's find out. Iowa drives vs. Penn State:
- Seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cut deficit to 21-7
- Four three-and-outs
- Two four-and-outs
- Eight-play, 40-yard drive, turnover on downs after failed QB sneak
- Eight-play, 23-yard drive, terrible CJ Beathard interception
- Nine-play, 81 yard touchdown drive when score was 41-7
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Due to a combination of ineffectiveness and injury, Iowa has started seven different combinations on the offensive line in nine games this season. Cole Croston, who began the season as the starting left tackle, is the primary reason for the near-weekly reshuffling; after struggling for five games at LT, culminating in an embarrassing performance against Northwestern's Ifeadi Odenigbo, he moved to RT, and ever since he's battled an ankle injury that's mostly kept him off the field.
It's unclear what the combination will be this time around. LG Boone Myers initially moved to LT to replace Croston, then started at RT last week after missing a game due to injury. Myers is listed as the starting LT this week; the starting LT from the last two weeks, Ike Boettger, is atop the depth chart at RT. No matter the alignment, the tackles have been mediocre, and Croston or his replacement (at this point, LG Keegan Render) has been a sore spot.
The receiving corps lost their best player, Matt VandeBerg, early in the season, and star tight end George Kittle has been playing at less than 100% since a mid-October leg injury.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Dinosaur.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? DeBordian devotion to zone. Every Iowa run play I noted was either an inside zone, outside zone, or incredibly obvious jet sweep to a running back lined up in the slot.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Iowa is the third-slowest team in the country by adjusted pace. This comes as a shock, I know.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Miss you, Spike. [Bryan Fuller – MGoBlog]
Matt Painter has been a fixture in the Big Ten for quite a while now – he’s the third-longest tenured coach in the conference (behind Izzo and Matta), had some phenomenal teams built around the Robbie Hummel / JaJuan Johnson / E’Twaun Moore nucleus, and – after consecutive losing seasons in 2012-13 and 2013-14 – rebounded nicely to finish with back-to-back 12-6 conference records in the last two seasons. Despite his flirtation with the Missouri job a few years back (which seemed serious, but who knows), Painter seems like a lock to stay in West Lafayette for a while, especially after turning things around lately.
Even though last season ended in a shocking opening round upset to Arkansas-Little Rock, it was a rousing success for the Boilermakers. Their trio of big men – AJ Hammons, who finally put it all together as a senior, Isaac Haas, a massive backup center, and Caleb Swanigan, a five-star prospect – led the way and helped overcome a sort of mediocre backcourt, though it should be noted that Purdue had some quality wings. Hammons in particular was a force; after questions about his effort and intensity plagued him for years, he was a terrifying combination of rebounding, rim protection, and scoring.
[More on the Boilermakers after the JUMP]
Talk about where your group is right now and how pleased you are with their progress.
“Really pleased with where we’re at. Simple thing that we talk about as a group is just getting better every week, and I think the last three or four weeks we’ve been better and looking to continue that moving forward.”
What does it mean to have somebody at the top of the all-time tight ends list in terms of receptions. I know Jake was excited about it.
“Yeah, really excited. The whole group was really thrilled for him, which says a lot about who he is as a teammate in the room and just in general on the team. Guys being happy for his success says a lot about who he is. And understanding the work he puts in, how he approaches every day. It’s not really surprising. It’s just what you expect of a guy who puts that much into it.”
Jabrill got so many opportunities on punt return early in the year and seemed like there was one or two every game he was a step away from breaking. Is there something in the last couple weeks that’s different in the way they’ve been blocking you guys or adjusted to something?
“Uh, well, shoot, I think against Maryland they only punted a couple of times, which is unusual for a game like that. Then both times there was excellent hang time on the ball and great location on the punt, so credit to them. That’s how it goes sometimes. There’s things you can do to neutralize a great returner. It’s really all in the punter’s hands. And then not having as many opportunities is the other part of it. I think those things kind of go in cycles and hopefully we’ll see a few more opportunities down the stretch.”
Jim talked a lot about Kekoa’s blocking, then he did, too, last night. How much do you work with the wide receivers on blocking? Is that you or is that Jedd?
“None for me. I can’t take any credit for those guys. Jedd and Drew [Terrell] and Ryan Nehlen and the other guys, they do a nice job working with them. Really seen a lot of progress from those guys.”
[After THE JUMP: Kenny Allen’s kicker swagger, running the program like an NFL team, and differences in utilizing tall vs. short TEs]
Is it hard to be anything but elated with your group at this point in the season?
“Yeah, I think so. I think if you ask any team in the country they’d like to be sitting at 9-0 and our ranking, so yeah, we’re happy but certainly not satisfied. There’s work to be done.”
How about your position group?
“Playing well. I think we had a little bit of a slide in the Michigan State game. Other than, I think they’ve learned from it and are moving on.”
What’s the key or you guys in the short-yardage situations, in the red zone, to be as effective as you have?
“Well, I think in short yardage it’s just gap integrity. Guys in front have to stay in their gaps, linebackers have to stay in their gaps, the secondary fits and fills where needed, so that’s very important in short yardage. Then red zone is something we work day in and day out, starting on Monday all the way through Friday. That’s an area we hit every day, so it’s important in the game and you have to practice it.”
You talked about Channing [Stribling] in run support earlier in the year. Have there been some teaching moments the past few weeks?
“Well, yes, absolutely. The Michigan State game is a big teaching moment. He realized it and he knew he was wrong and he fixed it. That’s important. Just gotta keep building on it. That’s what he has to do.”
How do you fix that, exactly?
“You work at it. In practice we do some tackling drills, and we have some nice talks about it, too.”
[After THE JUMP: who is mini-Jourdan, more on run support, and talking about tunnel screen defense]
Shep Garner [Greg Bartram – USA Today]
Back in the 2010-2011 season, Penn State was forced to vacate its basketball facilities to accommodate preparation for a Jon Bon Jovi concert, and then a career fair – they had to practice at a rec sports facility commonly used by the volleyball team. This was part of the stretch run for a senior-laden team led by Talor Battle, which snuck into the NCAA Tournament after winning a few games in the Big Ten Tournament (the infamous 36-33 victory over Wisconsin during that tournament might have been the win to get them in). After the season was over, long-time head coach Ed DeChellis stepped down from the job to coach at… Navy.
Perhaps nothing better encapsulates the Sisyphean nature of Penn State basketball than those few months, a program routinely plays in near-empty arenas despite having the athletic department to accommodate a gargantuan football program. I mentioned this in the Nebraska preview, but Penn State’s unique challenges might be the most difficult in the Big Ten (beyond Northwestern’s, of course).
Pat Chambers took over for DeChellis and it seems like the boilerplate compliments given to Chambers teams are that they play hard and give a ton of effort. Typically, those types of comments are reserved for teams with decided talent disadvantages and the record has borne that out for Chambers in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions have gone a combined 23-67 in Big Ten play since he took over. Needless to say, there was no momentum after that surprise tournament bid back in the spring of 2011 and the program has predictably struggled.
It will probably be more of the same for Penn State this year. They lost senior Brandon Taylor, a high-volume iso scoring forward who usually played the four, and adjusting to his absence will be a challenge. Chambers’s familiarity with the Philadelphia recruiting scene paid off in a big way, as he was able to sign a trio of players from Roman Catholic High School, two of whom were Top 100 prospects nationally. Even if the talent level has risen some, Penn State’s best players will be young and escaping from the bottom half of the Big Ten will be difficult.
[More on the Nittany Lions after the JUMP]