there would have to be some to wash away
About Last Week:
Note from Samuel L. Jackson to Big Ten defenders: hold onto your Butts.
The Road Ahead:
Utah (2-0, 0-0 PAC-12)
Last game: Bye
Recap: No recap. Bye.
This team is as frightening as: I am of two minds. The first is that Utah hasn’t played anyone yet, so their two blowouts provide us almost no information. They beat Fresno State by 32… which is the closest the Bulldogs have kept a game this year (they lost by 36 at Nebraska and 39 to USC). They also beat Idaho State by 42, and at least Idaho State has won a game this year. Over Division II Chadron State. By 5. The point is that if you think the transitive property of college football is unreliable, believe me when I say that the second order transitive property is slightly more unreliable.
On the other mind, Utah has an experienced QB, a very talented receiver, a couple of quality running backs, and a defense that can walk and chew gum at the same time. And Michigan really needs this one. Fear Level = 7.
Michigan should worry about: Dres Anderson. The wide receiver is averaging 27.8 yards per catch. Which is many.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: This will be Utah’s first road game of the year. It will also be Utah’s first game against a team with a pulse.
/checks Michigan for a pulse
/moves fingers to slightly different location on Michigan’s wrist.
HA. Totally feel a pulse. Knew it all along.
When they play Michigan: The clenching. So much clenching.
Next game: @ Michigan (UM -6), 3:30 Saturday (ABC/ESPN2)
Minnesota (2-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last game: Woodshedded by TCU, 30-7
Recap: Minnesota’s team is designed around one thing: running the ball effectively. TCU stuffed Minnesota’s running game. The results were… predictable.
Minnesota ran for 2.5 yards per carry, and David Cobb was held to 41 yards on 15 carries. In the first half, Minnesota put up 111 yards of offense in nine drives. Those drives ended in three turnovers, five punts, and the sweet mercy of the halftime gun. By then TCU led 24-0, which they extended to 30-0 in the third quarter before calling off the frogs.
Mitch Leidner finished 12 of 26 for 151 yards (5.8 YPA) and 3 picks. And if THAT wasn’t enough, he ended up with a foot injury (reports are mixed between a broken toe, turf toe, and a general angering of the gypsy). He’s also coming off of a sprained MCL two weeks ago. His backup, Chris Streveler, is a redshirt freshman. I wonder if he knows how to throw a football?
I’m pretty sure “Flick the Booger” is actually Minnesota’s motto this year.
This team is as frightening as: Fighting a guy you’ve fought a bunch, and who you’ve beaten 39 of the last 42 times. Except this time he has one arm tied behind his back. And the other arm has turf toe. Fear Level = 3
Michigan should worry about: You know what you’d get from Leidner, and it is the kind of thing that Michigan is ideally suited to stop. If Streveler is in, maybe he gives Minnesota an added dimension of some kind. Like, he can throw a football. Kind of.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: The most frightening thing I could think of was “maybe Minnesota will be starting a freshman.”
When they play Michigan: Booooooooring. But in a good way.
Next game: vs. San Jose State, 4:00 p.m. Saturday
[After the jump: OH MAH GAWD IS THAT MILEY'S MUSIC???]
What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where we really liked their BBQ sauce, and it turned out their CEO really likes this blog, and we like Joe's recipes, and our collective cholesterol goes up as a result.]
Over the last few years, the tri tip has gained popularity thanks to our friends out in California. These have been a staple out west longer than the Wolverines have been beating up on the Buckeyes. This cut of meat is working its way east and should be found in your local butchers shop. You may even be able to find them in your nearby Sam's Club or Costco. They are extremely tender and juicy and make a great sandwich. They can also be cooked in about an hour, so you don't have to commit an entire day to the smoker.
2-4 pound Tri Tip Roast
[Protocols following the jump]
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 "38-34 Gardner FTW!" or "38-0" 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 we push it to next week or let it go.
- Brian voices displeasure at the puns in the headlines.
About Last Week:
Yay somebody guessed 34-10, though I imagine JBM was thinking it would be like 31-0 by half and then we’d put in the scrubs or something. Don’t act like you knew it would be 10-10 at the half. Either way you’re getting your print.
This Week’s Game:
And On the Line:
From our latest line:
Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork has been serving the Michigan community since they lost The Game of Games. To all those who feel like THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, whether your ticket stub isn't wide enough to hold the price, some dufus just lied to the NCAA for no reason whatsoever, they’re running the wrong punt formation, or they've threatened to leave your band behind, we here at Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork have the tools you need to threaten to get things done right.
Don't let another fiasco go by with mere grumbles, harshly worded letters, and mood-altering substances. Come on down to AAT&P and gear up with the same tools your ancestors used to rid their towns of demons and upstart agricultural institutions. Peruse our outstanding collection of rakes, scythes, rubber chickens, and other farm tools we totally didn't steal from Big Ten West schools.
Fine print: 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. Nobody reads this; if they did they would write “Yabbadabbadoo” after their score and it would break MGoBlog. And the algorithm. We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves. The algorithm is banned in China. This is not the algorithm. It used to be.
News bullets and other items:
Ty Isaac’s appeal was unsuccessful, which means he has three years of eligibility beginning next fall
He currently is able to participate on the scout team
“Thanks for coming. It was good to get back on the field on Tuesday. Those practices, it was very physical. Had a great effort. It was another day for us to go out and compete and challenge with each other and prepare for a very good Utah team. It’s going to be great playing at home. You know, that always gets your players and coaches and everybody else, it gets them excited in the support that we’ve had, and we’re looking for that on Saturday.
“We’re not going to talk about injuries and I might as well bring that out now. And some of that is because you can say something about something and then you’re wrong. Everybody heals a little differently, and the other thing is for our kids. I want to make sure we’re doing a good job protecting them.”
Coach, what would you consider some of the biggest keys to beating Utah?
“Well, I think number one I think they’re third in the county in points scored. I mean, they’re explosive offensively. Good skill players. The two backs are kind of interchangeable in there. For the style of offense I think they really do a nice job of seeing holes. Travis Wilson has done a tremendous job when look nationally where he’s at. He’s second in pass efficiency. Gets the ball out of his hands pretty quickly.
“From the defensive side, I think they’re, depending on how they calculate it NCAA-wise, first in sacks and first in tackles for loss. Knowing Kyle [Whittingham] and Dave Christensen from [my] Mountain West time they both like to be aggressive defensively and then also on the offensive side of the ball.
“So for us, number one, we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to keep getting better every day we go on the field. I think from a defensive perspective keeping the ball inside and in front of the defense, making sure on those money downs, those third downs, [that] we can get off the field. Offensively, got to keep the sticks, got to be able to run the football, and also when you take shots you’ve got to execute.”
As someone who’s a guru in defensive line performance, is their defensive line- is it scheme? Is it the individual players that they’re so productive?
“Yeah, you know, Nate Orchard is one guy they’re using in a lot of different ways. As an outside linebacker, sometimes as a defensive end. I think from his athleticism that he has, he can cause you problems and then obviously he’s a playmaker for them so they’re putting him in some positions to make plays. I think up front they’ve got a quickness to them, and that’s something that can give you some problems. They spike a three-technique into an A gap, which is a coach’s nightmare but if you’re quick enough can be effective.”
[After THE JUMP: lots of tempo talk]
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan actually played their SAM linebacker extensively for the first time this year. Behold:
That is Jenkins-Stone over the slot. This mostly indicated zone coverage; almost everything indicated zone coverage, with the exception of that rolled-up boundary corner, who was often nose to nose with his man. More discussion of this in a bit.
On short yardage Michigan had this press man okie-ish look with one LB back: I called this "Okie one robber," FWIW.
Nickel packages were saved for passing downs for the most part.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Rotation has whittled down to an obvious starting front seven-ish with mostly obvious backups. The line is Clark/Henry/Glasgow/Beyer with Bolden/Ryan behind them and Jenkins-Stone as the SAM when they have a SAM. The primary backups are Ojemudia/Wormley/Mone/Charlton with Godin and Pipkins also fighting at the two DT spots.
The backup ILBs don't play and probably won't until Morgan gets back; Ross does spot RJS regularly.
They are still working through injury and uncertainty in the secondary, and this is a spot that will develop over time. Once Wilson is back it seems like Jeremy Clark is going to be his partner; he's gotten the most playing time of anyone so far and he seemed to be out there while Hill and Thomas rotated. Corner is still in flux but a dollar says Peppers is a boundary corner the rest of the year with Lewis your top field corner option and Countess preferred at nickel; Taylor is likely to spot Lewis and Peppers, or Lewis will spot Taylor and Peppers, to the point where calling two guys starters and one a backup is semantics.
EDITORIAL POLICY: I'm calling Frank Clark just "Clark" and Jeremy Clark "JClark." Jeremy can be just Clark next year.
[After THE JUMP: derp and darts from Miami, mostly derp.]
Red zone threat: check.
Utah is coming off a bye week, so they've only played two games this season: a 56-14 pasting of Idaho State and a 59-27 pasting of Fresno State. I chose to break down the latter pasting, which wasn't even as close as the final score would indicate—I stopped charting when Utah went up 38-7 while the video of that drive cut out due to a stadium power outage; from that point on, the backups took over.
Personnel. Seth's diagram says spread-to-pass because I told him the wrong thing based on the box score showing Utah with six touchdown passes against Fresno. They are, in fact, a spread-to-run outfit with a couple very dangerous receivers. As per usual, click the picture to embiggen.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-to-run. While Utah's done most of their scoring and yardage damage through the air this season, they use their running attack to set up the pass, and while this is a little skewed by the pair of blowouts they've run the ball 100 times compared to just 59 pass attempts this season.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Basketball on grass. While Utah mixes in some gap blocking, including a couple tricky variations on the read option that I'll highlight later, they're mostly focused on running zone read, inside zone, and a little outside zone out of the gun or pistol.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Very much hurry it up. Utah routinely got snaps off with 20+ seconds remaining on the play clock against Fresno State, and the only huddles occurred during timeouts. They're close to Indiana fast.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): With sacks removed, Travis Wilson gained 48 yards on nine carries against Fresno State, and last season he averaged nearly five YPC (without sacks removed) with five rush TDs. While he's not outrageously fast or shifty, he makes good reads in the option game, and his size (6'7", 233) allows him to cover ground quickly and fall forward for decent yards after contact. I'll give him a solid 6 here.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
As rumored last week, Michigan will play a home-and-home series with Texas. The athletic department officially announced the dates a few minutes ago; here are the pertinent details from the release:
The athletic departments at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas have reached an agreement in principle to play the first-ever home-and-home football series between two of college football's most recognizable programs. The two schools rank first (Michigan, 912) and third (Texas, 876) in all-time victories.
The Wolverines will host the Longhorns at Michigan Stadium on Aug. 31, 2024. The return trip by Michigan to Austin will take place on Sept. 4, 2027.
"A match-up of this magnitude doesn't come along all that often, and when it does it's special for both programs and the great fans that support each institution," said Brady Hoke, U-M's J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach. "This also is a special series for all fans of college football, and I anticipate great games just like the first contest played between the two programs."
The only prior matchup between the two programs came in the 2005 Rose Bowl, which you may remember as a remarkably fun game with a far less fun ending. Let us all hope Texas hasn't figured out a way to clone Vince Young by the time 2024 comes around.
Anyway, the upshot: excellent work, Dave Brandon. This is the type of home-and-home series that everyone loves to see, even if both programs are currently mired in a historically anomalous funk. Going to a game in Austin will be checking a box off the sports bucket list, and it's tough to ask for much more when scheduling games a decade in advance.
Extremely important fainting goat update. The conversation did not quite go as asserted yesterday, but it's pretty great anyway:
“He told me the play of the week, the special teams funky deal, was a fake punt – the Fainting Goat,” Mays said. “In my mind, I was like, ‘What’s that?’”
Said Paschall: “Book, you’re going to be the goat.”
“I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ What is he saying?” Mays said.
“I was talking to the guy across from me, saying, ‘Wow, there is some thick air down here in Miami,” Mays said.
God bless Arkansas State.
BEAT THE DRUM EVERYBODY. Ineligible man downfield complainin' is welcome wherever I find it. Pete Roussel notes an egregious event in the Alabama-USM game:
yes the penalty is called when the ball is thrown but not caught; still geez
Remember last year when Taylor Lewan engaged a guy about three yards behind the line and drove him so far downfield he got a penalty and everyone clucked at him about how he had to know better? Why would he have to know better? I think he would not have to.
Offenses are brutally effective already without adding blocking linebackers ten yards downfield on pass plays to their docket.
BEAT THE DRUM PART 2. Yes, we are going to beat this dead horse until it sends seven guys downfield on the snap. "Shield" punting, which we've called "spread" around here because I'm sure you can figure it out*, has taken over college football. Michigan is an exception, and apparently so is Texas. They ate a 45-yard punt return before UCLA's winning drive after lining up like so:
This is actually a little more spread-ish than Michigan, but eight Longhorns are behind the LOS when the ball is kicked.
Like Michigan, the bad way stats are kept somewhat conceals the issue here. Not only does Texas give up a lot of yards per return, they give up a lot of returns, period:
UT’s 10.3-yard-per-punt-return average allowed isn’t miserable — although it ranks 88th out of 128 FBS teams — but the Longhorns are allowing a greater number of punt return chances under Vaughn, and as the UCLA punt shows, a reason could be because his players are late getting downfield. The nine punt returns against UT this year is tied for fourth-most nationally while the Longhorns’ 93 total punt return yards allowed puts them tied for 115th.
Strong used a spread punt at Louisville to good effect; no idea why he's not doing the same thing at Texas.
*[Bizarrely, coaches keep telling me that it is Michigan's NFL-style punt game that they know as "spread." I reject that lingo and all its works. You don't get to call it that. That makes no sense. Unlike coaches who don't want to use seven gunners, I insist on making sense.]
Also in Texas but better? Four minutes left is a weird amount of time to have in a game. If you're leading and on offense, you need a first down at all costs. If you're leading and on defense you want to prevent the other team from scoring, but if they're going to score you want them to do it quickly, not after 3:58 has left the clock. The paramount thing is to get (or keep) the ball.
So a lot of offenses will grunt their way to a third and seven and then take their shot. Strong elected for a different path:
When Texas got the ball at 4:17 with a four point lead and chose to go "tempo", the ensuing three and out and minimal clock burn was widely panned on the web and in the traditional media. Of course, it didn't matter. UCLA scored in about nine seconds on a punt return followed by a good play call against tendency.
Texas had just scored to go ahead with the aid of a hurry-up no huddle; a UCLA player misaligned on a 30-yard run. They continued that with the lead and 4:17 left, and that's… odd. But if you think that's the best way to get a first down, that's at least defensible. Of course, when you lose five yards on a run up the gut you're not going to be bleeding much of anything.
Upshot: coaches don't place enough emphasis on having the ball last when they're in a one-possession game. They're willing to bleed down the field for an opposition four-minute drill instead of being aggressive, and they place minimally useful timeout-sapping over a greater chance of getting a first down.
A stupid reason but okay. We're now talking about revoking the NFL's non-profit status because of "Redskins"?
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced Tuesday that she will introduce legislation to eliminate the NFL’s tax-exempt status because of its refusal to address the name of the Washington Redskins.
While I also find the name distasteful, why don't we revoke the NFL's non-profit status because it in no way fits the definition of a nonprofit enterprise? The idea that the NFL can skate on millions of dollars in taxes because [no reason given] is equally offensive. Possibly more so, because one situation is a private enterprise being offensive and the other is the government being idiotic.
I mean, if there's one class of industries you can tax the living hell out of without seeing them move their labor force, it's pro sports.
It's profile o-clock. Jeremy Clark:
"Of course everyone wants to play, but (last year) I was still learning the process and there were guys in front of me who knew the calls and everything, so you can't get mad if you don't know what you're supposed to be doing out there," Clark said. "This year, I feel like I'm learning it well."
“The thing you realize quickly about Bryan is the genuine concern he shows for everyone he comes in contact with,” said Benson, Mone's prep coach at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. "And it's genuine. He truly cares about everyone around him. I don't know if I've met a kid with a bigger heart.
"He's one of a kind. Truly one of a kind."
"My brother has always been my motivation, because growing up he couldn’t really feed himself or do all types of stuff, so I had to grow up soon enough to help out my mom and my sister,” said Mone, who had another older brother who died from leukemia.
Mone began caring for his brother in earnest in sixth grade, but didn’t feel comfortable with all his responsibilities until a few years later.
“I started getting used to it in junior high,” he said. “I knew what I had to do to take care of him.”
Designated official site softball-tosser on Jack Miller:
Jack Miller is many things.
He's best known as the starting center and anchor of the offensive line for the University of Michigan football team. But he's also a political science major, and thinks he might someday become a lawyer or run for public office.
He's a music lover -- especially Dave Matthews and jam bands -- and takes aim during deer and duck hunting seasons.
Miller also is the great-nephew of former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who texts him after every game and remains a huge inspiration.
Spence suspended further. Noah Spence's ecstasy suspension was three games, and now it's at least four after he failed a test before Kent State. If Ohio State follows the usual policy here he would be out for the year, as most teams go 1) nothing, 2) one game, 3) quarter of a season, 4) whole season for failed drug tests. Spence has apparently entered rehab.
But you have a legitimate reason! I don't understand why Brady Hoke keeps saying things like "I don't feel like it" and this latest…
Brady Hoke: “You can say something about (injuries) and you’ll be wrong.” Hence his silence on them.
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 17, 2014
…when asked about injuries. He has a legit reason. He can just say "I don't want to help Utah prepare for our game by telling them which personnel we'll have available." This is 1) the truth and 2) not insulting to the intelligence of anyone coming across his answer.
It is not good when your contempt for the media gets in the way of obviously better and more honest answers. See: Gibbons, Brendan.
Etc.: Tip times set times set for a number of basketball games. Article on how Michigan sticking by Devin Gardner despite "fans' pleas" for Shane Morris cites no fans pleading for Shane Morris. In fact cites reporter's question about Shane Morris indirectly by including Nussmeier answer to it.
Jack Miller, Brennen Beyer, Derrick Green
Jack, you guys had so much attention on the offensive line coming in to the year. Through three games can you kind of rate how you guys have done and do you think it’s kind of stabilized?
JM: “Yeah, I think we’ve done a pretty good job. There’s been a couple bumps in the road but overall so far I think the group’s done a good job coming together and playing pretty well.”
Why do you think that is? What’s the reason you guys have made this leap?
JM: “I think the work that we put in in the offseason. We worked extremely hard and did extra work for offensive line-type stuff and I think that’s paying off for us.”
This is for Jack as well. I asked Nussmeier what the biggest different is from the start of fall camp to now in terms of improvement and he mentioned communication. How much does that have to, I guess, adjust on a game-by-game basis depending on what you’re seeing or is it a constant thing that you can make the same according to your offense?
JM: “Well, I think that’s why you have three practices a week and you watch a lot of film and those types of things so you’re not surprised come gameday with the types of looks and those types of things that you’ll get. The calls and the communication, while necessary, can be kind of a backup things because everyone should know what’s going on and what to do and those types of things so just the practice and the film work and those types of things really help that become an easier process come gameday.”
Jack, this is also for you. What have you seen from Mason Cole? He was thrusted into a starting position as a freshman, but how have you seen him kind of take on the transition?
JM: “You know, I’ve been very impressed with Mason since he first came in. The poise that he has for an 18-year-old kid playing offensive line is remarkable, and he’s got maybe the best attribute to have as an offensive lineman which is just being consistent play-in and play-out. He knows his job, he’s a smart kid, and he goes out and plays hard and tries to get it done and whether he does a good job or a bad job he’s on to the next play. And like I said, his poise and demeanor is pretty exceptional for such a young kid.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]
Michigan's run game started out with a thud, with a series of short gains and even the occasional Dread Pirate TFL rearing its ugly head. As with the Notre Dame game, the problems due to were a mélange of errors from lots of people. And as you might expect against Miami, most of them were mental issues.
People have asserted that Miami was dropping an eighth guy in the box and that guy was blowing up the Michigan run game. That's simplistic; these days spread-oriented offenses are looking at one or zero deep safeties on every play. The eight man box is something you have to deal with as a coach, and anyway when you're playing Miami it shouldn't matter.
Michigan's issues were largely assignment-based, with the occasional bad block thrown in; the tailbacks were better but still had issues. The nice thing is that as the game went along we saw Michigan correct some of those those problems and start moving forward. Mason Cole in particular was evolving right on the field, hampering two plays with errors and then executing in near-identical situations just a few minutes later. One was mostly executing a block; this one was about IDing the guy he needs to address.
Which Guy Needs Help? Not That One.
This is actually the first play of the game. It comes from the 50 after the least interesting successful Dennis Norfleet kick return ever (run to the right until the kicker stops you), and Michigan comes out in an ace set. Miami has a 4-3 under on the field (sort of; their SAM is 190-pound Lo Wood) and will roll a safety down for guy #8.
Michigan's going to run inside zone and things are going to go pretty well all over the field with the exception of Mason Cole and AJ Williams trying to handle the backside DE.
This is your presnap setup:
There's a one-technique NT and a five-tech SDE. The SDE is splitting Cole and Williams down the middle, and the play is going to the top of the screen. It is very hard for backside blockers to do anything with a guy who is 1) lined up playside of him when 2) they get no help. This is about to happen to Williams.
I'm not entirely sure why this guy is free to fly down the line and blow this play up. The other DL are handled by Michigan's OL driving guys lined up a half-step to the playside of them. It seems like he figures that the OLB is going to be there to clean up anything that breaks behind him, so gap integrity is for suckers. (Michigan will get a bunch of waggles off this tendency, as Miami isn't using that OLB to contain hard upfield.)
On the snap Magnuson hops over a half-gap to get the nose; Cole goes to his zone a gap over without touching anyone and then starts helping on Magnuson's block. Williams is going for this DE:
Williams does not get the DE even a little bit, and with Miami DL set up to the outside on the frontside of the play Green is correctly going right up the gut, something that looks promising as Michigan gets movement on the DL.
Williams was put in a tough spot here; even so this feels substandard. Annoying the guy, pushing him so that he's on the correct side of the LOS, maybe cutting him: all of these things are better than escorting him to the RB.
A yard later it's clear that Michigan has cleaned out the DL; one linebacker shot a gap and is going to help tackle here but without the space constriction provided by the Williams block-type substance shooting that gap is a dangerous game to play that is 50/50 to put the tailback one on one with the safety for all the yards.
Green falls forward for two as Magnuson finishes pancaking the NT. Cole ended up not really doing much of anything on the play.
And the slow version:
[After THE JUMP: something that goes better]