"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
|WHAT||Michigan at Minnesota|
|WHERE||Homesure Lending Stadium
|WHEN||7 PM Eastern
October 31st, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –13.5|
|PARKING||Dunno, is road game|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, low 50s dropping to 40s, small chance of rain|
This game took on added significance for Minnesota after the sudden retirement of Jerry Kill for health reasons. It was already pretty significant, though, as the Gophers took the piece of crockery pictured above on a Stanley Cup-like tour of the state after winning it a year ago.
For Michigan, this is a chance to exorcise demons on Halloween. It was this game last year when Michigan put in Shane Morris and stayed with Shane Morris long after that was a reasonable option and then the concussion catastrophe happened. It was last Halloween when Dave Brandon resigned and Jim Hackett took the first step towards completing the Harbaugh Hail Mary.
Oh and Michigan has a division to play for, even if a path to winning it looks a bit murky right now.
Run Offense vs Minnesota
Drake Johnson should be healthy [Barron]
This unit has been middling for the Gophers. Nebraska got one 69-yard touchdown on misdirection on which the Gophers blew a run fit and a safety had his head in the clouds; that was the cornerstone of a just-okay 203 yard, 39 carry day. Other opponents have run a lot with not very much efficiency. Only TCU and Colorado State have scraped above 4 YPC, though Ohio got close.
Neither have many opponents been shut down, though. Purdue and Kent State yes. Others not so much. Minnesota's rush defense is a lot like their rush offense: capable of setting up second and medium and not so much with the TFLs. They are really really average, and the stats say they are really really average.
Minnesota's front seven is a little dinged up. Cody Poock, normally a starter, was unable to practice before the Nebraska game and is listed as a backup on the Gopher depth chart; Tracy Claeys blamed himself for the long run because he spent much of the week prepping as if Poock would be available. DT Scott Epke is listed as questionable.
Michigan's ground game is a little bit better than average, but not by much. Plagued with questionable cuts from the backs and targeting issues but #blessed with fullbacks sprinting for 30 yards on the regular and other Harbaugh wrinkles, Michigan is making chicken salad this year.
Minnesota has shown itself vulnerable to misdirection as they play a lot of man with their excellent CBs and the safeties and linebackers tend to drift and then don't have great speed with which to recover. If Michigan can get their lines down with the various Harbaugh wrinkles they should have a number of chunk plays on which the playcall did a lot of the work; from there it's about controlling an average defensive line and making those three yard runs into five yard runs.
This won't be a blowout but I expect Michigan to do well enough here to string together productive drives—maybe not 80 yards but 30 will do if you're in a punting battle.
KEY MATCHUP: MICHIGAN TAILBACKS versus THEIR PERIPHERAL VISION and sometimes JUST THEIR VISION PERIOD
[Hit THE JUMP for A SECONDARY AS BIZARRELY GOOD AS NORTHWESTERN's and AN OFFENSE THAT IS ALSO BASICALLY NORTHWESTERN's]
PWO Hello: Michael Shuster
Jim Harbaugh will stockpile quarterbacks in whatever way he can; this week he went the preferred walk-on route, adding prolific PA QB Michael Shuster to the 2016 class, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"I want to compete at the highest level," he said. "I've been a starter since my freshmen year and I played three sports, football, basketball, and baseball, so competition has always been a part of my life. Being able to compete at a place like Michigan is something that really interested me. The fact that the academics are just as good as the Ivy League is just an added bonus."
Shuster, an unranked prospect, chose walking on at Michigan over Ivy League offers. He's put up really impressive numbers at the high school level; after throwing for over 3500 yards and 42 touchdowns as a junior, he's passed for 26 TDs against only three interceptions while averaging 10.2 yards per attempt so far during his senior season, per MaxPreps.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
On the roundtable this week:
- Technical difficulties! My headphones are out so I respond to all callers with "uh huh that sounds very interesting." I'll probably answer all questions with this phrase for the rest of time.
- Ed thinks Minnesota is going to give Michigan a tough game and we're all like "lol wut".
- Craig reiterates that he feels that the ideal number of players on a basketball team is four.
- Basketball team has more than four players though.
- oh no
THE USUAL LINKS
[Hello; still Seth. Ace is working on scouting his Hoopsdraftageddon team (and writing this year's basketball preview)]
Previously: Minnesota Offense
Zone? Sonny if you want zone I suggest you try Iowa City. In here, we play man defense. And pour whiskey.
Jerry Kill brought Minnesota back from the Big Ten frontier by giving his defense a cowboy identity, then finding some bow-legged cornerback fellers who can handle it. These guys arrived three or four years ago and were immediately sent out to wander the vast open plains of Minnesota's secondary alone. Were you to wind up over a buffalo tight end, racing a jackrabbit slot receiver, or fighting a vicious coyote for the only oblong meal in days, the nearest safety'd be a good nine miles away, if he's even patrolling at all.
Those who survived became hard men. Dangerous men. Men like ol' half-safety Eric Murray, the fastest closer in the West. Or BB Calhoun, whom they call the interceptor, though never to his face. Or Myrick the Kid, who once beat a bullet to an out route. With such men roaming the open expanse, the hardy regular folk can crowd together near the neutral zone, maintaining law and order through close proximity to the snap exchanges. If you want to take the West from these men, you have two options: jostle the good folk for a few parcels close to town, or take your chances in a gunfight with the wild men out on the prairie.
Personnel: Click makes it big.
Like I done said, they like to sidle up on in close. That there number 4 is the strong safety. If yer a bettin' man, better'd put that money on at least one o' them safeties russlin on up in that there box on the regular.
Base Set? 4-3 over spread.
By "spread" I mean their front is a lot like Michigan State's, with the DEs spread out to the edges; the more TEs, the further they'll spread. Except whereas MSU keeps a responsible guy on the backside and a hound on the front, these DEs are so interchangeable that they're just "left" and "right." The Gophers then crowd the linebackers inside, adding safeties to the box for every eligible receiver who's not wide. They'll have a lot of safeties in the box because they play a ton of…
[Hit the JUMP for how Minnesota made a legit D out of spare Midwesterners]
Hey that's our 30-cent jug.
No it's not.
I swear we bought one just like it last year for your game.
What were you afraid we'd poison the water or something?
No, we needed a place to put water since Gatorade jugs won't be invented for, oh, at least another half a century. Are you sure that's not the one we bought?
But you wrote "Michigan Jug 'Captured' by Oscar" on it. You even added a date and the score of the game. Are you sure…?
Okay well you left it. It's our jug now.
You'll have to win it back or I'm keeping it forever!
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 "41-0" or "35-0 Michigan", or "28-0 Go Blue", or "42-0 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:
No football happened so nobody won. Oh the game before that? No football happened so…
This Week's Game:
Michigan at Minnesota, with pottery on the line.
And on the Line:
Our friends at Rivalry Trophy are giving away a full-sized(!) replica of the Little Brown Jug to whoever can get this score right. They also sell this for $200, and a smaller version for $100, and a Christmas ornament sized one for $18 that I think is the most adorable thing on the planet that isn't half my genes.
One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm finds the winners as it chooses. The algorithm is self-correcting. The algorithm consistently runs power. The algorithm locked Rutgers out of Jersey. The algorithm can't make every football coach Jerry Kill but thinks it really shouldn't be too much to ask to have one.
RIP Ufer. Via Dr. Sap, rembrances of Bob Ufer on Michigan replay, 1981:
Also Harbaugh on Ufer:
"When there was an away game, we'd just gather around the radio and listen to it. Roll around, jump around on the furniture," Harbaugh recalled Monday during his radio show. "And I had a record, too. I had a Bob Ufer record, a vinyl record. John, my brother, had a stereo and I would listen to that almost every night before I went to bed.
"His calls of the game were just so awesome."
Well, yeah. PFF on Jourdan Lewis:
Jourdan Lewis owns the top PFF cornerback grade at +15.9. Opposing quarterbacks have posted a quarterback rating of 36.1 when targeting Lewis. In addition, Lewis has allowed only 18 receptions on 51 targets and leads the nation in passes defensed with twelve (the second place CB has eight). Lewis passed a major test in this last week’s epic game against Connor Cook (+26.1) and the CFF fifth ranked passing offense, Michigan State Spartans (+47.5). Lewis was also just named as a finalist for the 2015 Jim Thorpe award which goes to the top defensive back in the county.
They also have a list of the best-performing wide receivers on their college home page; Lewis's foe in the epic one-on-one battle last Saturday is at the top of the list. MSU is an interesting combination of very good players and very bad ones.
Minnesota incoming. Jerry Kill was just forced to retire, of course, and now Gopher fans are like… uh… what now?
The good news: Tracy Claeys, the new interim head coach, and the coaching staff have been through this before -- sort of. Back in 2013 when Kill stepped aside midseason to deal with his health, Claeys took over as interim head coach and led the Gophers to four straight Big Ten wins. This situation is a bit different, as Claeys is no longer keeping the ship afloat until Kill returns -- Kill is not coming back. So the good news is that I don't expect Claeys to be in over his head. This staff has been together too long to fall apart now, and they're well versed in how to handle adversity.
The bad news: This final stretch of games is brutal. Injuries have ravaged the depth chart. You've got a roster of players who've now lost their head coach. The future of the coaching staff is uncertain. The cloud of a Title IX investigation and the search for an athletic director hang over the university. In what has been a disappointing season, this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is possible that the Gophers will play inspired football the rest of the season to honor their former head coach and pull off enough wins to become bowl eligible. But it is also possible that the Gophers' misfortunes continue with a streak of five more losses to end the season.
Unless Minnesota seriously outperforms expectations they will be facing a choice between promoting an interim on a team that didn't do so hot and trying to find a coach in one of the most competitive hiring markets in the history of college football without an athletic director. Hopefully they've got a Jim Hackett hanging around; more likely what that means is that Claeys is going to get the job even if that doesn't end up seeming like the best idea.
Mike Leach FTW. Leach on time of possession:
One stat a number of coaches have railed against for years is time of possession. Some still point to it, but many don’t anymore. With the rise in tempos, it becomes irrelevant.
“The biggest waste of time is time of possession,” Leach said. “What’s interesting to me is that was the national obsession for decades. Now, it’s viewed more of a waste of time. It probably took 50 years for that to happen.”
It's not quite dead yet. Leach also rails against the NCAA applying sacks against rushing attempts. Preach, Mike Leach. Preach and beat Stanford this weekend to throw the Pac-12 into complete chaos.
The new guy. The news has started using Tony Paul as their everything beat writer—equestrian is coming right up—and part of his gig led him to track down people who know recent 2017 basketball commit Jordan Poole:
“Yeah! If you have a coach who is just like, ‘If you’re open, shoot it,’ why not?” Poole said. “If the coach is telling me to shoot, he does not have to tell me twice.
“That’s what really caught my attention as a player.”
It's a fit.
Here is an 80 yard punt by Blake O'Neill. I clipped this for UFR and then forgot about it and frankly I'm just putting it here so that for next year's season preview when I go all rapture mode on John Baxter I can find it:
This has been "Brian puts something on the internet so he can Google it later." You're welcome.
Etc.: ESPN has comments? Pete Carroll is promoting a rugby-style tackle for all levels of football. Interesting adaptation. DJ Wilson speaks. Jarrod Wilson, pleasantly boring. Derrick Walton back. The Bentley treasure trove opens.
Kam Chatman only showed flashes of his four-star ability in 2014-15.
Michigan is deeper this season than at any point during John Beilein's tenure. There's so much depth, in fact, that there's a decent chance at least one of last season's regular contributors drops out of the rotation.
Today's preview post focuses on that depth by looking at backup wings Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Kameron Chatman, Duncan Robinson, and Moritz Wagner. DJ Wilson, who could easily fit into this category, will be covered with the bigs.
Measurables: 6'4", 185
Base Stats: 19.0 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 49/29/93 2P/3P/FT%, 1.7 RPG, 27 assists, 28 turnovers
Key Advanced Metrics: 16.5% usage, 92.5 ORating, 1.9 steal %
"Rahk" wasn't expected to be a contributor last season after John Beilein picked him up late in the recruiting cycle. When injuries forced him onto the floor for extended minutes in Big Ten season, however, he emerged as a quality scorer off the dribble—after looking jittery early in the season, he shot 54% on two-pointers in conference play.
Rahkman's rise to a prominent role was critical for Michigan in 2014-15, especially when he took on the scoring burden against Michigan State and Illinois, and even more so when he shadowed D'Angelo Russell in M's upset of Ohio State—Russell needed 17 shot equivalents to score 16 points, had five turnovers against two assists, and looked visibly frustrated with Rahk's defense. John Beilein pointed to defense as the way Rahkman can see extended time on the court this season:
“We haven’t even discussed any redshirt possibilities. Muhammad is not of a young age number one, but he’s got his work cut out for him to get the minutes that he did last year and he knows it. He has some explosion to his game and some speed that we do need on this team. That’s all going to come if he can become an excellent defender on this team then there will always be minutes for him.”
That's in part because Michigan could use a perimeter defensive stopper; it's also in part because there are still significant holes in Rahkman's overall game. He shot 29% from three-point range as a freshman, a figure that must improve to keep from affecting Michigan's spacing. He finished with more turnovers than assists; while he wasn't overly turnover-prone, when he drove to the basket he almost always looked for his own shot, and opponents are going to adjust to that. There's reason to think he can improve in both regards; his impressive free-throw shooting (albeit in a small sample) is a sign his jump shot should come around and he looked confident as a ballhandler last year.
The great news for Michigan is that there isn't nearly as much of a need for Rahk to play big minutes with the return of Walton and LeVert; there won't be minutes to spare at the point and there's a ton of depth on the wing. Rahkman may carve out a role as a defensive specialist or off-the-bench scorer against teams that struggle to stop dribble penetration; anything else he provides would be considered a bonus. He should be a solid role player getting 10-15 minutes; the breakout most likely will have to wait until next year.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
[Hi it's Seth, not Ace. I offered to do this while Ace gets the hoops previews out]
Minnesota's offense is bad at offense, the end.
Alright, given I chose to review a game in which they got shut out, I admit we're not getting the Gophers at their best. I chose this game anyway because Michigan saw Northwestern the very next week; the next two opponents were Purdue and Nebraska, who are in the Big Eight or wherever. Also because we already had it downloaded. Also because it's a better fit for the other side of the ball where the outcome is more in doubt. Also because this Michigan defense isn't like the Nebraska defense, nor the Purdue defense. It IS kind of like the Northwestern defense, if the Northwestern defense was Batman.
Personnel. Me diagram [click for full size]:
I noted KJ Maye's jet motion path because they pulled that out a lot. Lauer and Pirsig split time last year at right tackle, but injured T Josh Campion was by far their first option. They tried starting him at RT this game before shutting him down. He's a no-go for Michigan. When he's out Lauer comes in at LT and Pirsig slides back to RT.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? "Pro Style" for a given definition of that which means something nobody runs in the pros. I mean it's shotgun and runs a lot of zone read, but not at all spread. Brian's going to have fun coming up with UFR formation names for this one. A taste:
Yes I can name one recent NFL coach who ran stuff like this. He's back in college now.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL Inside zone mostly, with little bits of power mixed in.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Grind to the max. Last year Minnesota experimented with this tempo thing but they've since shelved all but the lining up with >15 seconds. Then they'll shift formations, put a guy in motion, etc. However the Gophers did manage to get off a super-quick snap late in the game to prevent the review official from re-watching a would-be interception on 2nd and long. That not only saved them from a turnover on their own 10, but Northwestern's players were still on the field celebrating and got hit with a too-many-men penalty. #BigTenRefs
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the wreckening]
About Last Week:
It was a bye week, so for the second week in a row, NO FOOTBALL OF ANY KIND HAPPENED.
The Road Ahead:
Minnesota (4-3, 1-2 B1G)
Last week: Lost to Nebraska, 48-25; Bye
Recap: We’ve got to start this week on a serious down note. Jerry Kill, one of the fundamentally good dudes in a fundamentally un-dude profession, announced his immediate retirement on Wednesday morning. And this wasn’t a Steve Spurrier “eh, let’s go do something else that is more golf-adjacent” retirement. Kill’s presser made clear that he wanted to keep coaching, and that he has no idea what else he’s going to do, but for health reasons he just can’t coach anymore:
Seriously, watch that whole thing. Watch it twice.
Part of being a football fan is mentally divorcing the game you see from the toll it takes on the people involved. We tend to think of coaches as being above that fray. But these guys are a different breed, and take on an impossibly overwhelming task. It is no wonder that it breaks even the strong.
Kill was dealt an even more impossible task than making Minnesota football competitive in the 21st century. It's inspiring that he tried to do what he loved anyway. It's equally inspiring that he walked away from it when he couldn't do it right anymore. I vote anything with Paterno's name on it gets changed to Kill. Except Jay.
In a football sense, Minnesota is also in a rough place. After opening the year 4-1 and getting some honest-to-god votes in the polls, Minnesota is going to have to scramble to make a bowl game. The Gophers have to find two wins among home games against Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and road games at Ohio State and Iowa. All five of those teams are in the S&P Top 25, and Bill Connelly has them winning about one more game.
This team is as frightening as: a 30 cent water jug. Fear Level = 3
Michigan should worry about: Minnesota may be inspired by Kill’s departure and turn in an unexpectedly strong performance.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: They still need to, like, score points to win.
When they play Michigan: This is basically Michigan with Direct TV vs. Michigan with Cable.
This week: vs. Michigan, 7:00 p.m., ESPN
[After the JUMP, a lot of things to sleep soundly about]
[What is this? Joe Pichey, serious bbq-ing dude, has been writing up tailgating recipes on his blog MMMGoBluBBQ and we "borrowed" him. Stubb's sponsored it because they're fans of the site and good people, and this whole Joe-MGoBlog-Stubb's-Readers thing seems like a match of destiny.]
This recipe is perfect for tailgating as it can be assembled ahead of time and grilled up in less than 5 minutes. The grilled raviolis have three of my favorite traits: They are crunchy, bite sized and extremely DIPPABLE. What else could you ask for? You can also stuff just about anything inside. I've made coney raviolis, pizza raviolis and peanut butter and jalapeño jelly raviolis at recent tailgates, and all have been tasty.
- Won Ton Wrappers
- Cooked Shrimp or Shredded Chicken
- Havarti Cheese
- Jalapeño (optional)
- 1 Egg (For Egg Wash)
Hatch Queso Dip: (Melt all ingredients in crockpot or cast iron pot)
- 1 lb Velveeta cheese block
- 1/2 cup Hatch Green Chili Sauce
[After the jump: this isn't at all hard to make]