Thursday, December 29, 2016
Michigan Tech 2, Michigan 0
MTU 1 UM 0 EV 05:36 Assists: Auk
Auk carries the puck in and shoots, the shot going wide and rimming around the boards to Lavigne’s right. Auk picks it up and fakes to the inside before pulling the puck back to his left. Allen defends this well, getting his stick out and keeping it in the shooting lane throughout the process of Auk’s inside-outside move. He somehow is able to get the shot away.
Birks swings his stick down at precisely the right time, deflecting the puck past Lavigne. De Jong tracks Birks and defends this pretty well; I don’t know what you’d do differently considering he had to skate up the wing and defend Birks’ initial shot (the one that went around the boards). This is a feat of incredible hand-eye coordination.
Nose tackle trouble
Michigan had its sights set on three NT sorts and hoped to get two; 3.5* TN DT Rutger Reitmaier decided to stick with Oregon, and now 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon has a defined leader that is not Michigan:
“No doubt about it,” Solomon told BamaOnLine when asked if Alabama was his leader. “They stand by themselves right now. Huge lead.”
Solomon's had a tendency to change his mind during the process, but that does not sound good. It sounds... bad. This also sounds bad:
“I believe it is a huge lead and it is really I will say it is a SEC fight,” Solomon said. “That’s how I feel. It is a big SEC fight.”
Steve Lorenz caught up with him as well and that take sounds much more optimistic; there is an element of Solomon telling people what they want to here in a lot of his quotes. Publicly stating a huge Alabama lead is something that people usually do when they are going to commit to Alabama, unfortunately.
Meanwhile UT DT Jay Tufele is publicly favoring nobody and has scheduled officials to USC, BYU, and Utah in January. He is tough to read because he says everything is awesome.
Michigan: "Michigan is really awesome. When I took my trip, it's a real college town and I loved everything about it and it was awesome." ...
Ohio State: "Ohio State is a really great program.... Urban Meyer is an awesome coach too.
Lorenz says he's not near a crystal ball but that Utah would be his guess at the moment, albeit with a caveat:
the consensus among us down here is that he is a prospect who definitely hasn't made up his mind at this point.
Losing Tony Tuioti is not helpful, though Tufele dismissed that a non-coach staffer moving would have a big impact on his decision; FWIW, Scout's Bill Greene was not high on OSU's chances about a week ago.
Under Armor takes
The UA game came and went and scouting resulted.
The most impressive Michigan commit in attendance was a close race but FL OL Cesar Ruiz, who drew many mentions as an unmoveable tree trunk person, probably edged it.
— Sean Merriman (@MerrimanTweets) December 30, 2016
4* VA DE Luiji Vilain was amongst the most impressive edge guys at the game.
Luiji Vilain is better than the #10 DE in the nation in my opinion. Michigan's class is very strong.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) January 1, 2017
If you want to know who was close to about half a dozen sacks, it would be this guy. Vilain got around the corner and pressure the quarterback numerous times. He also flushed the quarterback out of the pocket and set the edge against the run a couple of times too.
Mike Farrell named him the "most pleasant surprise" at the UA game, in typical Farrell fashion:
Now how can a player ranked as a four-star and No. 181 in the country be the biggest surprise? Well, at least to me, I felt Vilain was a bit overrated and I didn’t expect he would hold up physically as he has so far this week. Vilain has been using his length well in one-on-ones and especially team play, and he’s been stronger than expected.
We'll see if that's enough for a move up. Farrell said he's "not a five star talent", but there's a lot of room between that and #181.
Michigan's other commits didn't come in for much evaluation. RI DE Kwity Paye got in through a fan vote and was tasked with some rushing drills as a DT, which is not his skillset. It doesn't look like his showing will result in a four-star surge for him; he was kind of lost in the wash. Farrell got in a brief mention ("Kwity Paye also had a few key hurries in addition to his tackle for a loss"); 247 doesn't have anything on him except some photos. Ditto FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell. (NJ LB Drew Singleton was also named to the game but is still recovering from an ACL tear.)
None of those gentlemen got mentioned as disappointments by Farrell, so they'll probably be static.
Willie Gay says things, a lot of things
Sometimes he says things that make you think he'll be at Michigan.
Peppers is a player that Gay has long said is his favorite college player. The opportunity to replace him exists, and Gay described the possibility as "surreal".
"When I first got the Michigan offer, it was huge for me," he said. "To think I could potentially replace Peppers is amazing to me."
Sometimes he does not.
“Did [LSU] have a linebacker de-commit today?” Gay asked SEC County.
“Well tell them Willie Gay is on his way.”
Asked if he was just joking, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker said, “No. I don’t mind competing but once you see opportunity like that sometimes you’ve just got to jump on it.”
Is he just screwin' around? Kind of feels like he's just screwin' around. But, eh, crootin. This is why the shruggie was invented. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sometimes he says things that nobody else has ever said before or will say again.
“When I went to Michigan I felt like I was still in Starkville, Miss.,” Gay said. “The only thing different was the weather, and even that wasn't that bad to me. I fell in love with Michigan when I went up there.”
I haven't ever been to Starkville. Maybe it has a botanical garden too?
Gay does have an official scheduled to LSU later this month. He'll probably say various things before he commits that may or may not mean anything. There's a reason that nobody pulled the trigger on a crystal ball even after Gay proclaimed Michigan a strong leader after his trip to Ann Arbor, and this is the reason. Mississippi black hole, man. Gay told Lorenz that his "mind feels like it's changing every day."
The balls roll in for Filiaga; other OL bits
For a brief moment after TX OL Chuck Filiaga announced a top three of OU, Nebraska, and Michigan there was a thought that OU was the pick. That moment seems to have passed after Filiaga arrived at the Army game and started talking to people. Steve Wiltfong, the main guy talking up Oklahoma, put in a crystal ball for Filiaga to Michigan and a bunch of people followed, including Lorenz. Lorenz interviewed Filiaga—likely the impetus for his pick—recently:
"I've had Coach Harbaugh come to my house and come to my school," he said. "He talked to our team before our game against Poteet and talked to all of us and gave us a speech. Coach Drevno came two times. He came once to be the ears for Coach Harbaugh and the second time they both came, so I think I got the OK. He really has made me a priority."
That's quite a contrast from Michigan's approach with Aaron Banks, which was "send Jay Harbaugh a couple times." Filiaga told Lorenz he "has an idea" where he's going; it appears everyone at 247 does as well. Sam Webb also got an interview in which Filiaga said he had an idea of where he was going; he re-iterated that the distance won't be an issue:
“Mom and dad… family really… they don’t mind where I go to college,” said Filiaga.
Brandon Brown is reporting that mom is on board and Michigan should get Filiaga, as well.
Two bits of circumstantial evidence:
- I haven't seen anything from OU or Nebraska writers, and that is almost always a good sign for the team whose reporters are getting interviews.
- When various 247 staff writers with no Michigan/OU/Nebraska track record put in picks they're looking for cheap CB points.
It would appear that the Filiaga commit will be low drama.
Michigan will still pursue OL even if they get Filiaga; giant VA OL Mekhi Becton now seems like Michigan's biggest priority going forward. He gave a pretty generic update to Scout. One thing of note: his only official thus far has been to Michigan. He plans on making some trips in January; those will give an indication of which schools in his top five (M, MSU, Louisville, VT, and UVA) are actual competition and which are just hats on the table.
5* AZ OL Austin Jackson told 247 that it was "kind of likely" he'd make a January official visit to Michigan. That would be his last of the process. Jackson is widely reputed to be a USC lock, get him on campus, puncher's chance, etc.
Meanwhile, 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton says that he wants to play DT and that Kentucky and Florida are his top two because they're recruiting him at that spot. He'd later name UF his outright leader. Michigan is still drawing mentions, but those feel more perfunctory by the day.
“Urban Meyer called my dad, and he told him he should stop recruiting me because it’s not going to happen,” Thorpe said. “After I got my Penn State offer, Urban called my dad and then he fell off the face of the earth. I didn’t know what happened and thought Ohio State was just not offering me, but I talked to my dad a year after the call, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I told him he can’t recruit you.’”
Thorpe's dad was a PSU football player.
Weird guy watch
As mentioned in the previous roundup, Michigan's rapid-fire commit burst leaves them with few players on the board who seem likely to join the class. They're at 26, can take up to 32, and will probably suffer a decommit or two because this is crootin'.
Meanwhile things appear to be trending in the wrong direction for the most familiar names on the board. The DTs were discussed above. Sam relays that optimism on Elijah Hicks has "faded dramatically"; Slaton's barely on the board. So Michigan's going to have some spots to fill.
One is obvious: CT CB Brandon Sebastian, a BC commit, appears to be the next man up as Michigan searches for a fifth DB in the class. His official was pushed back; Marich reports it is back on for the 13th. Sebastian's a teammate of Tarik Black and will have his parents on the visit. That's spatula city, baby, as the weirdly heated BC-Michigan decommit battle of 2016 rages on.
If it looks like Gay is going to end up somewhere else, keep an eye on 4* VA LB Ellis Brooks. Brooks has already been on campus twice and tells Brandon Brown that Michigan is a definite possibility for a January official:
"That last official visit is very potentially for Michigan. I’ve been talking with Coach [Don] Brown seeing how things are going. Coach Brown is my man and Coach [Chris] Partridge is my man. I really like both of those guys a lot. I know they like me as a player and also as a kid. I have a really solid relationship with both of them. It’s cool with them."
Brooks is a high-academic kid who's more of an ILB type, whereas Gay can play the VIPER(!!!) position that Peppers manned this year. The fit is thus maybe not great, but if Jordan Anthony is a potential VIPER(!!!) it could work out.
Rivals currently has MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a nondescript three-star but their most recent piece on him projects that he "will absolutely begin to travel up the Rivals rankings and should be a Top 250 if not a Top 100 guy when it's over"; he's a Michigan legacy.
TX TE Mustapha Muhammad doesn't even have a top ten yet, but Michigan will be in it. If he sticks to his desire to play in a pro-style offense he'll be leaving the state. 2018 GA S Myles Sims is another name to watch.
We don't usually put "per report" in these titles but this is on the borderline between solid and, uh, not solid. So take it in that spirit. Per Darren Heitner, citing agent sources:
While sources have indicated that Peppers and Butt are definitely signing with Sexton and Collins, only a few days ago Peppers stated that he was undecided as to whether he would be leaving Michigan.
"I still don't know what I'm going to do yet," he said. "I've got some decisions to make."
That's a hell of a hedge with your final two sentences in an article headlined "Jabrill Peppers going pro," but Sam Webb retweeted it so good enough for me. Jabrill Peppers off to the first round of the draft, where he will create one more burst of "LOL OVERRATED I CAN'T SPELL BANANNANA" tweets before embarking on a long and excellent NFL career.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 3, 2017
So that's why I put report in the title. Probably a distinction without a difference.
Funny how I haven't made any decisions on my future. This is a complete false report. https://t.co/r3t4QV3DSe
— JP5 (@JabrillPeppers) January 3, 2017
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starts at 1:00
They weren’t relying on long-snapper completions but it was otherwise very much like the Sugar Bowl. DeMarcus Walker, their richer man’s Wormley, played tackle all game and worked Michigan’s guards. They go through each guy’s season and decide what the short take is on the 2016 starters. Yelling back at Twitter.
starts at 32:49
Other than three plays, two of which traceable to no Peppers, the defense was as advertised: it turns out he’s pretty important. Shit happens; in 2016 that means the worst possible shit that can happen. What the shit happened on the kickoff return?Pitbull is a national treasure.
- “Let’s Have a Real Good Time”—Pitbull
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
Michigan is in the market for a new offensive assistant. FoxSports's Bruce Feldman reports that passing game coordinator and QB/WR coach Jedd Fisch will be UCLA's next offensive coordinator.
It was only a matter of time before Fisch climbed the ladder. He joined Jim Harbaugh's first Michigan staff after a two-year stint as offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Due in part to circumstances beyond his control, he's never spent more than two years at the same job since 2007, when he finished off a three-year assistant stint with Baltimore before working his way up the coaching ranks with the Denver Broncos, Minnesota (B1G), Seattle Seahawks, Miami (YTM), and Jacksonville.
Harbaugh will have some flexibility with his next hire because of his ability to handle the quarterbacks himself if need be. He could look for someone from his coaching tree; Greg Roman, Harbaugh's offensive coordinator for the 49ers who's looking for a new gig after an abbreviated stint in Buffalo, is already being put out there as a potential candidate, though his specialties (OL and TE) overlap with Tim Drevno's. If Harbaugh desires a more passing-oriented coach, he could go for a coach without a previous connection to him; that worked out rather well when he took Fisch two years ago.
Fisch played a big role in Jake Rudock's remarkable in-season development in 2015 and had plenty of input as a playcaller the last two seasons. We'll always have "good shit, Jedd":
Fisch will now get to work with a potential #1 draft pick in UCLA QB Josh Rosen. Best of luck to him.
11/26/2016 – Michigan 32, Florida State 33 – 10-3, 6-2 Big Ten, season over
I can feel the hot take brigade trying to get through the door already: tweets about how much of this gets put on Drevno, the near certainty I'm going to hear something that sets my teeth on edge on WTKA this Thursday. Michigan's epic season ended with a wet fart, yes. In the aftermath I don't care to complain about it. I don't care to argue about what Michigan should or should not have done, or just... whatever.
Jim Harbaugh is an elite coach. The man has a track record. He is going to be here for a long time. His teams will be very good and often great, and sometimes they will meet other very good or great football teams, whereupon they will play a close, exciting game that will turn on one or two plays that are made or are not made. I hope they win these games. If they don't, they don't. Michigan's done all they can do and now it's time to sit back and see what happens.
That could be an extremely long period of being very good and not breaking through to satisfy the moist goatee brigade. The annals of sports are littered with excellent teams that met other excellent teams and didn't win. The difference there is razor thin and largely determined by luck.
Michigan isn't that juggernaut just yet. They were about 85% of one. The remaining 15% was why a one-point game felt lopsided for 58 minutes: the offensive line.
FSU's defensive gameplan was simple, and weird: move one of the best defensive ends in the country to DT. The guy you saw running into the backfield virtually untouched all game was, yes, DeMarcus Walker. Michigan's inability to handle him was total. He racked up a +9.7 in PFF's grading, which is a single-game season high for Michigan or its opponents. That's a good season total for many players. Walker had ten pressure events in 45 pass rush snaps and crushed some runs besides. A quick review of the game confirms that Walker killed everything, with an assist from Derrick Nnadi on the other guard.
The two guys with tire treads on their jerseys in the aftermath are at very different points in their career, but the reason they were put in that spot is the same. Ben Bredeson is a freshman who should not be playing yet. Kyle Kalis is a senior who's played too much. Both had to be on the field because there was almost literally nobody else available.
David Dawson's apparently so far from the field that he decided to transfer before taking his shot at a starting job this spring; Juwann Bushell-Beatty's brief cameo after the Newsome injury was the impetus for inserting Bredeson in the first place. Everyone else is either Patrick Kugler, a low-rated redshirt freshman, or a true freshman. If Kugler's a miss, and it appears that way, you have no choice but to die in a fire.
That goes back to Michigan's inability to evaluate, recruit, or develop offensive linemen under Brady Hoke. Hoke could find an All Big Ten DT under a rock; he and his staff had no idea what a good player on offense looked like, and this was most true on the offensive line. Michigan's six-man 2013 OL class is down to Kugler. None of the five departures was particularly close to breaking through.
The next year Michigan took just two OL, which is always a terrible idea. One of them, Bushell-Beatty, was the guy replaced when Bredeson stepped into the starting lineup. Hoke's final class had just one guy who signed, three-star legacy Jon Runyan Jr. Newsome committed in the interregnum; Michigan added Nolan Ulizio in the late scramble.
None of these guys started getting coached well until Harbaugh arrived, and the damage could only be mitigated, not undone. Sometimes OL don't work out, and sometimes you have to keep playing the ones that don't because you don't have anyone else, and sometimes this results in an elite defensive line digesting your quarterback.
I don't know, man. I started this season's coverage off by proclaiming this to be The Year, and it more or less was. Michigan spent most of the season in the top five of the human polls and #1 in fancystats. They're about to send a dozen guys to the NFL draft. They played like an elite team for most of the season, and if you think losing in double OT in the Horseshoe with an injured quarterback and a rain of terrible calls is some sort of stain on your honor, well... I cannot help you.
The difference between an epic season and a merely good one was razor thin and largely due to the vagaries of fate. Michigan had two spots at which they absolutely could not afford any injuries. They got it in the face at both spots. Grant Newsome went out for the season, paving the way for a true freshman to start. Wilton Speight missed the Indiana game; it's unknown how much of his late slide was due to that collarbone/shoulder injury. Survey says: enough to make a difference, probably.
So they did not win all the things. That sucks. They were very good at all the things it was reasonable to be very good at, though, and that should offer some more confidence going forward. If that's a disappointment I'm with you; if it's an outrage the door is that way.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Kenny Allen did the impossible: he graded out positively in all three kicking facets per PFF. His eight punts for 47 yards each, 44 yard net, nine return yards ceded, and lone touchback was worth a whopping +0.5 to Pro Football Focus Punter Batman. He hit three chip shot field goals and only had one of his kickoffs end up returnable—alas, that.
Also he terrified the FSU punt returner into a terrible muff that set Michigan up at the one.
#2 Taco Charlton kicked off his day by delivering the kind of hit to Deondre Francois that triggers the Deondre Francois Gets Obliterated Repeatedly montage that follows the poor kid around wherever he goes. He wasn't blocked on that one. On a bunch of other plays he was, usually by Roderick Johnson. Johnson, an All-ACC player who was the best player on the FSU line, ended up –2.2 to PFF and Charlton had a sack to go with four QB hits. Good luck in the NFL, sir.
#3 Ryan Glasgow had a similar day against worse competition, forcing a bunch of pressure up the middle and helping shut off Dalvin Cook, with a couple of Dalvin Cook exceptions.
Honorable mention: Maurice Hurst had another extremely productive day in limited snaps. Chris Evans had that touchdown that momentarily staked Michigan to the lead.
12: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU, #2 FSU).
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland),
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
6: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW, #3 FSU)
5: Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU, #1 FSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: 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.
We have a lead! I bet this lead lasts a long time and—aww, hamburgers.
Honorable mention: Mike McCray pick-sixes Francois. Kenny Allen uses Zoltan Mesko punt lasers to force a muff.
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.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Jabrill Peppers is warming up... and Jabrill Peppers is obviously not playing. Goodnight, sweet prince.
Honorable mention: all plays on which OL were asked to block Walker. The kickoff return. The 92-yard touchdown. The Cook items.
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.
OSU: The Spot.
[After THE JUMP: let's have a real good time. An okay time?]
Senior OG Dave Dawson announced today on Twitter that he does not plan on returning for his grad year:
I will forever be thankful, GO BLUE pic.twitter.com/WK02dhbwAb
— BIG DAVE (@DaveDawson_) January 1, 2017
Despite a relatively soft depth chart and high rankings as a recruit (the sites rated him around the same spot as they did fellow Technician Michael Onwenu) the big Cass Tech product struggled to crack the lineup in four years. Offensive line recruits are notoriously late to develop and hard to predict, however the more time spent behind some below-average starters the less likely it seemed that Dawson would meet the expectations of a top-150ish prospect.
The closest Dawson came to starting was in the 2015 offseason, when classmate Patrick Kugler was hurt, Dawson returned from the offseason 20 pounds heavier, and practice rumors suggested he was pressing Braden at left guard. This site held out hope that Harbaugh and Drevno would manage to tap the potential of a guy Joe Mathis described as “one mean cuss” coming out of high school.
Dawson was running with the ones while starting right guard Kalis was nursing something just last August, but remained buried all season despite plenty of opportunities for OL to crack the lineup. Kugler earned an early start at left guard in place of Braden, and true freshman Ben Bredeson passed both RS juniors to start the remainder of the season at left guard once Newsome went down and Braden shifted out to left tackle. Onwenu, also a true freshman, siphoned seasoning snaps at right guard during this year’s garbage time, but Dawson played some right tackle against Illinois and even a little defensive tackle in the Rutgers blowout.
Just sticking around even this long was remarkable within the context of his class. In 2013 Brady Hoke brought in six offensive linemen rated 3 stars or above on the 247 composite, not counting the scholarship long-snapper. OT Chris Fox lost his career to a knee injury before he got to college and late offer OG Dan Samuelson retired from football before ever threatening a depth chart. OT Logan Tuley-Tillman was kicked off the team for some very bad behavior, tried and failed to transfer to Wazzu a year ago, and wound up at Akron, where he started 12 games at left tackle. The only significant contributor was OG Kyle Bosch, who transferred due to some personal issues when Harbaugh arrived, and wound up starting the last two years at West Virginia, earning all-Big XII this year. Kugler, the only one rated higher than Dawson, should have his chance to salvage the class of 2013 this spring.
With Kalis and Braden graduating, Bredeson expected to kick out to RT in place of Magnuson, and left tackle an open question thanks to Newsome’s injury, playing time on the offensive line was wide open for Dawson. Even a position switch to DT was an outside possibility given Michigan’s needs. If Dawson still didn’t like his chances to pass Onwenu and the other underclassmen, it’s probably best for for him that he use his grad year to go somewhere he can play. Meanwhile Michigan loses another bullet in a rather bare chamber for upperclassmen OL:
Via that depth chart Michigan now has 61 scholarships committed to currently returning players (including Peppers) and 26 commits, putting them 2 over the 85 they need to be at by the start of next season. Expected attrition from here gets that class to about 30 with room for some walk-ons to earn scholarships.
Look past the final result and you can see this year's Michigan squad taking shape. Derrick Walton is more off-guard than point guard. Zak Irvin, filling the void, is a point-forward. Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson are the team's two best players. Duncan Robinson's offense has moved him past Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman in everything but the starting lineup.
Wilson starred for much of this game, the best of his career thus far. In 44 minutes, he scored 28 points, made 7/10 twos and 4/8 threes, grabbed 14 rebounds (six offensive), dished out six assists to only one turnover, and added a block for good measure. Wagner also looked excellent, scoring 12 points on ten shots while playing disruptive defense that resulted in a block and three steals. This was a glimpse into a pretty exciting future:
Those two will eventually be the go-to players on this team. This afternoon, however, their relative inexperience in those roles showed in overtime. Wagner missed a corner three on Michigan's first overtime possession when it appeared he had an open lane to roll to the basket instead of popping out the perimeter. Wilson badly missed his two three-point attempts in the extra session, including a rushed shot with plenty of time left on M's final possession that bonked off the backboard; while M corralled the rebound, Zak Irvin lost the ball on his game-tying attempt and Wagner's desperate volley from two-point range had no effect on the outcome.
While Michigan had the advantage up front, Iowa's backcourt, especially Peter Jok, held a similar edge. Jok poured in 25 points. Freshman point guard Jordan Bohannon outplayed Walton, posting 17 points and six assists with no turnovers and a couple huge shots late in the game. Irvin distributed the ball well in the first half when his shot wasn't falling, then committed a few costly turnovers in the second half and overtime when he finally regained his scoring touch. With Robinson only going 3/9 from beyond the arc and MAAR disappearing entirely, Michigan needed more efficiency from their senior guards.
They didn't quite get enough. Michigan starts 0-1 in Big Ten play, and while they have four very winnable games ahead of them on the schedule, they missed a great chance to tally a rare conference road win this afternoon.
Michigan (10-3, 0-0 B1G) vs
Iowa (8-6, 0-1)
Iowa City, Iowa
|WHEN||2:21 pm ET, Sunday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Brian Anderson
Analyst: Jon Crispin
Michigan is one of only two Big Ten teams (Ohio State) yet to play a conference game. I don't expect any changes to the rotation. Even if John Beilein wants to get Duncan Robinson more playing time than the struggling Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, bringing Robinson off the bench—which allows Beilein to pick his matchup—appears to be his preference.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||3||Jordan Bohannon||Fr.||6'0, 182||65||20||97||No|
|High assists and turnover rates, solid outside shooter, really struggling to finish inside arc.|
|G||4||Isaiah Moss||R-Fr.||6'5, 205||41||19||101||No|
|Efficient young scorer. Had 7+ points in six straight before Purdue blanked him.|
|G||14||Peter Jok||Sr.||6'6, 205||71||30||117||Not At All|
|B1G POTY candidate. Massive usage, great shooter, good finisher, draws fouls.|
|F||0||Ahmad Wagner||So.||6'7, 235||44||17||103||Very|
|Solid offensive rebounder, active defender, draws a lot of fouls.|
|F||35||Cordell Pemsl||Fr.||6'8, 249||46||23||114||Very|
|Shooting 73% from field with excellent rebounding and shot-blocking numbers.|
|F||51||Nicholas Baer||So.||6'7, 200||53||16||121||No|
|Good inside-outside scorer. Active rebounder and defender.|
|F||25||Dom Uhl||Jr.||6'9, 217||42||19||89||Yes|
|Stretch four having a brutal year: 39.5 eFG%, 24.5 TO%.|
|F||5||Tyler Cook||Fr.||6'9, 253||31||25||101||Yes|
|Promising freshman missed 7 games to injury, returned to go 6/10 against Purdue.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Dalvin Cook lived up to his billing. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Sometimes you make it a game despite yourself and the human lightning bolt that is Dalvin Cook and then a freshman receiver who looks like a tight end turns a dumb play into a game-swinging kickoff return and a 5'11" guy beats Jourdan Lewis for a touchdown because sure why not and a series of improbable events occur and a laugher turns into a heartbreaker.
For most of the game, Florida State showed why Michigan is on the wrong side of the playoff bubble. Michigan's offense couldn't overcome a shaky offensive line to put any sort of consistent attack together, mustering only 83 first-half yards. Florida State's couldn't either but for the notable exception of Cook. The future Pro Bowl running back had 141 yards and a score on 16 touches. Nyqwan Murray exploited a busted coverage for a 92-yard touchdown. The rest of the FSU offense had 22 yards on 17 plays. The Seminoles held a 20-6 lead at halftime.
Neither team did much of anything in the third quarter until Kenny Allen, for seemingly the umpteenth time, backed up FSU deep in their own territory with 1:12 left in the quarter. Facing second-and-ten from his own eight-yard line, quarterback Deondre Francois rolled right to escape pressure and threw a pass directly to Mike McCray, who ended his short trip down the sideline with a dive into the end zone to make it 20-15. Michigan had pulled within a score for the first time since the opening quarter, setting up one of the wildest finishes of this college football season.
Chris Evans, flying. [Fuller]
Cook once again pulled the game almost out of reach, breaking a 71-yard run on third-and-22 to set up a three-yard touchdown run by his backup, Jacques Patrick. After the teams traded punts, Wilton Speight capitalized on great field position with a third-and-goal touchdown pass to Khalid Hill. The Wolverines returned to the end zone less than four minutes later, forcing a three-and-out before Chris Evans juke-posterized an FSU safety on a 30-yard touchdown scamper. Before you could say "Captain America," Michigan had taken a 30-27 lead.
The ensuing kickoff looked as innocuous as could be. FSU freshman Keith Gavin fielded Allen's boot a couple yards deep in the end zone, surveyed the field, and paused. In football, when you pause on a kickoff return, you kneel for a touchback. That is the only play. Except for this play. This play, Gavin belatedly took off despite the protestations of fellow return man Kermit Whitfield, burst through a tackle, and was finally dragged down 66 yards later by Jourdan Lewis.
The winning touchdown. [Fuller]
Cook got the Seminoles to the 12-yard line on a screen pass. Two plays later, Murray rose over Lewis to haul in the go-ahead touchdown. As if this game wasn't frantic enough, Michigan blocked the extra point and Josh Metullus, filling in for an injured Jabrill Peppers, brought it all the way back for two points. With 36 seconds left, down a point, Michigan had the opportunity to give this meandering game one final twist.
Instead, the Seminoles held strong, intercepting a desperation fourth-and-ten heave by Speight forced by instant—perhaps too instant—pressure by DeMarcus Walker.
It may be coachspeak cliché, but it's true: Florida State made more plays. The better team, at least tonight, won the game. Cook showed Michigan what they lack: an offensive playmaker that makes opponents sigh with relief every time the ball goes elsewhere. That, or an elite quarterback, can overcome a porous offensive line. The Wolverines had neither.
Maybe next year.