"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Kyle Kalis and Henry Poggi
Henry, it seemed like Jim challenged you guys after week one about physicality and being more physical. Have you kind of taken that to heart and you’re making strides there?
“Yeah, I think so. I think just the way we play, we want to bring a lot of physicality every game. You know, the biggest thing is just progressing week to week, so every practice, every rep, just trying to be more physical.”
Henry, the fullbacks and H-backs are a lot more involved than they used to be in past years. What is the conversation like each week when you guys are trying to figure out if you have a mismatch or the coaches want to get you involved in the game?
“You know, I think it’s just gameplan. I don’t know if it’s anything specifically like a conversation with us. I think it’s like the flow of the game, who’s playing well, who’s not. We’ve got so many guys who can do so many different things I think it’s just really who’s playing well that day.”
Kyle, how much did you guys as an offensive line learn and take from that Utah game and how far have you progressed?
“I think a lot. I mean, obviously Utah, as you’ve all seen over the past couple of weeks, they’re a really good team and we played good against them. Obviously we could have played better, but the thing was just going back that next week and just the way we practiced, our practice style. And a big thing too, I want to give props to our D-line. I mean, our D-line is incredible, and us getting to go against those guys every day, that is huge for us to be able to get ready for games where we have players like we have. That’s a huge part of it, just going against our guys and our work ethic.”
Kyle, Jim said last week you graded out at 90%. He said you had another good game Saturday. What’s gone well for you the last couple games?
“Just having fun. I mean, football’s fun for me. Getting to go out there and practice every day is a privilege, and I see it that way. I don’t know. I’m just playing good.”
[After THE JUMP: More Kalis and Poggi, and Jarrod Wilson]
[even his wardrobe has a constraint play]
How do you keep your team from listening too much to all the good things they’ve heard about themselves in the last 48 hours?
“Outstanding game, congratulations, and hard work.”
Jabrill doesn’t play a traditional safety position, and he doesn’t play a traditional cornerback position. Why is that spot that you guys have him at best for him and best for you guys?
“Uh, well, it’s a nickel position. Takes an athlete who’s physical but has the ability to cover receivers in the slot. Can also contribute in the running game. Usually somebody who’s a really good corner and a good safety is ideal for that position. I mean, pretty much every team has that position so no, not inventing anything. It’s looked at as a starting position by just about every defense that plays football.”
You were optimistic about De’Veon’s health the other day. Are you still optimistic? Do you have an updated on De’Veon?
“Yeah, he’s gonna be sore. He’ll be working through the soreness.”
Is it a questionable situation for him Saturday?
“I don’t think we have to do that in college football, do we?”
What’s the diagnosis?
“He’s got something he’s working through.”
Is he still in the boot?
“I haven’t seen him today.”
[After THE JUMP: Philosophizing on polls, talking contact courage, and do fourth and longs exist in Australia?]
Home Shutouts Of Ranked Teams: Good For Recruiting
Well, that was a pretty good weekend to host the nation's top-ranked prospect for an official visit. While five-star NJ DT Rashan Gary hasn't spoken with reporters yet, 247's Steve Lorenz is hearing some very positive news emerging from a source in the know ($):
Heard from what I'd call a solid source that the two schools Gary has been highest on throughout the process are the two schools that most have connected him with: Michigan and Auburn. We were also told today that those around him would prefer that he go to Michigan. That's not necessarily including Mom, who we're told legitimately wants him to make his own decision.
We'll see what he says on the record; it looks like Michigan has positioned themselves about as well as they could heading into Gary's next four officials. If you tune in to MGoRadio this evening (5-7 pm, 1050 WTKA), Steve will be on to talk about Gary's visit and more on recruiting.
And, just as I'm about to hit publish, 247's Steve Wiltfong publishes an article in which he caught with Gary's mother, who accompanied him on the visit ($):
“I think he came out of it with a great experience,” Coney said. “When we got back to the airport in Detroit everyone had on Michigan gear, and even when we landed in Newark, he saw all the people wearing Michigan gear, and everyone knew Rashan and he was a big deal in the airport and big deal on the plane, and I think he saw a Michigan degree does travel and it is substantial.”
Oh, and then Wiltfong put in a Crystal Ball selection for Michigan. Being good is good, as it turns out.
A topic that'll surely come up is last weekend's other uncommitted official visitor, four-star CO DE/OLB Carlo Kemp, whose quotes to 247's Steve Wiltfong were to say the least quite promising ($):
“Yeah honestly [Michigan's lead has grown],” he said. “I’ve fallen in love with anything Michigan and Maize and Blue. Just like I did when I was up there the first time I had another good experience.”
The hold up on a possible commitment?
“I just want to make sure I’m ready,” Kemp said. “I really want to go out and see Notre Dame again. I’m going out there in two weeks. After I see that I think I’ll have a better understanding of where I belong the next four years.”
Kemp would fill a huge need at the BUCK position, which Mario Ojemudia currently occupies; he'd have a good shot at seeing the field right away with only Lawrence Marshall set to return at the position in 2016.
Speaking of potential commitments, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught up with 2017 GA RB Kurt Taylor, who compared last weekend's unofficial visit favorably with the Georgia-South Carolina game he took in the previous week—"The Michigan game was just... 'more.' It was more exciting, more fans, the atmosphere was better at Michigan, it was just 'more.'"—and hinted strongly that he'll be in the fold before too long ($):
"I'll make my decision after this year, after my junior year," he said. "I will definitely know where I want to go by then. After yesterday, I think I know already. It was a lot to like there."
That could be music to the ears of Michigan fans.
Finally, 2017 IN WR Mac Hippenhammer told TMI's Brice Marich his visit was "great" and noted Amara Darboh's catch was "nasty," which, agreed ($).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
1 hour 14 minutes
An old prospector I found in the street named Ol' Shared Nipples is our special guest. We flip the podcast order from time immemorial to give tribute to the defense. Ton of dime, opponent got shook and stayed shook. Just generally got dang.
Rudock looked more like actual Rudock instead of Sad Ghost Rudock. Smith runs rampantly; Darboh catches spectacularly.
SPECIAL TEAMS AND MISC
Nothing about this was actually important, but we talk Peppers fair catches.
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
A week of near ignominious defeat in the West. Michigan State looking far more tractable at this point. OSU was never going to continue farting around like they did against NIU. A rant against icing kickers.
"Across 110th Street"
"I'm Sexy And I Know It," LMFAO
"Wheel in the Sky," Journey
"Sweet Child of Mine," Guns and Roses
THE USUAL LINKS
9/26/2015 – Michigan 31, BYU 0 – 3-1
HALP [Eric Upchurch]
"We were dominated in every facet, their defense over our offense. Every guy, every play. That thing was a shellshock, from the first snap right though the last."
–BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae, 2015
"If you put a pit bull in a ring with a chihuahua, don't expect the chihuahua to win."
-former PSU WR Chafie Fields, 2006
The last time something like this happened, Alan Branch sent Anthony Morelli to the sidelines muttering about pudding. The year was 2006; Michigan's defense was a flamethrower of a thing. Dudes from it still litter NFL rosters: Branch, Lamarr Woodley, David Harris, Leon Hall, hell, Ryan Mundy. Each level of the defense had an NFL Pro Bowler on it. Lloyd Carr had finally, agonizingly made a switch from Jim Herrmann to Ron English, and things took off.
This was right after 2005, the 7-5 year one idiot Michigan fan dubbed "the year of infinite pain" because the worst thing that had ever happened to him as a sports fan was a light pillow buffeting followed by off-brand ice cream. That year Michigan had coughed up all manner of leads in all manner of ways, culminating in the infamous punt from the Ohio State 34 and the nigh-effortless OSU drive to win that followed. That was a jarring thing, the first gray hair emerging from the program's ear.
Adapting to the reality of the 2006 defense's otherworldliness was gradual, and then sudden. The Penn State game was the seventh that season, and only then was it crystal clear that what was going on was not the usual. It took just four games this season to start wondering about a repeat.
It's hard not to when BYU's coaches are wandering around wondering what blew their clothes off, when their quarterback comes to regard the pocket like it's the Mines of Moria. Here there be Balrogs. A full two-deep of them.
Here's the numbers stuff. Michigan's third in the country in yards per play allowed, behind
- a Boston College team that started the season off with Florida State… and Howard, Maine, and Northern Illinois
- a Kent State team that's only in the conversation because it held Delaware State (remember them?) to –33 yards.
Michigan hasn't given up more than 337 yards in a game; two teams barely crested 100 yards and a third used a fourth-quarter drive to get over 200. The one team that moved the ball a bit on them, Utah, just atomized Oregon. S&P has Michigan fourth. (FEI does not update until week seven.) Michigan's already acquired 32 TFLs, 8th nationally on a per-play basis. Again they are mostly behind teams who scheduled Random Assemblage Of Ants In Helmets State. By any measure Michigan has established itself one of the nation's top defenses a month into the season.
A month is not a year. A number is just a number. But these numbers reflect what we've seen when Michigan has rolled out onto the field. They go seven deep on the defensive line. They have an All-American corner and two more guys coming on, and oh also Jabrill Peppers.
Aside from some blips in coverage against Oregon State none of the results have felt at all fortunate. In fact big chunks of the yards acquired have been batted passes still caught or sacks miraculously spun out of, with a side of NFL throws made under extreme duress. This level of performance is not sustainable, but only because we are currently peeved when the opponent scrapes into triple digits.
Any reasonably sane projection we're in on. We will also consider slightly insane ones.
That 2006 defense sprung leaks. We got a taste of it a couple weeks before Football Armageddon when Michigan ran out to a big lead against Ball State and rested the starters. Johnny Sears fell over a lot, Ball State scored, and scored again, and soon the starters were in desperately trying to prevent a potential tying touchdown in the waning moments.
That was Akron before Akron, and if you want to point a finger to the exact moment when a paranoid observer would have started building a bomb shelter, that was it. The soon-to-be 2007 secondary faced a jankety MAC spread and collapsed.
A couple weeks alter Michigan would go the whole game against soon-to-be Heisman winner Troy Smith with a 4-3 on the field against a spread offense. Chris Graham tried to cover Tony Gonzalez, a future first round draft pick at wide receiver. It went poorly. Michigan gave up 42 points. A couple months later Michigan shut down USC for a half; in the locker room Pete Carroll told his offensive coordinator to stop running the damn ball. USC ripped off 29 second-half points.
2006's Achilles heel—they had one great cornerback, one okay one, and nothing else—was in retrospect obvious but it took a long time to find anyway.
One may be on the way here, but it's hard to figure out what it might be. The spread ineptness that haunted Michigan's manball administrations for a decade and a half is emphatically out the door. If the thing you're exploiting against this secondary is the third and fourth corners on fly routes down the sideline, good luck. If there's an ACHILLES OUT OF NOWHERE here it's probably the sudden degradation of the defensive line if and when they face elite opposition. Even the occasionally iffy linebacker play will probably be fine against the kind of team that seeks to test Michigan there.
And I can't see that happening. We head back to precedents in an attempt to communicate how something feels. It is possible we're not going quite far enough back for this one.
And from the BYU perspective:
Come back here young man who is older than me [Upchurch]
Yet To Be Named Harbaugh-Themed Guys Who Did Good Award.
you're the man now, dog
#1 Ryan Glasgow has somehow not featured on these lists yet. It says all you need to know about Michigan's faith in him that they decided to spend most of the day in dime with 5 or 6 guys in the box. Glasgow collected his usual TFL or two and was the linchpin of a 2.0 YPC performance in the most attractive circumstances possible for a rushing offense.
#2 Jabrill Peppers had his usual TFL, threw a BYU receiver to the ground with authority at the end of the first half, was not beaten in coverage, played (sort of) tiny WLB much of the day, spooked Tanner Mangum into a fumble on one particular blitz, and had two near-electric punt returns. Also, fair catches.
#3 De'Veon Smith ripped off this week's Who's Got It Better Than Us and thundered over 100 yards in the first half. It feels sort of wrong to put any offensive player on this list after that D performance, but I mean… yeah.
Honorable mention: All defensive persons. Darboh.
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU).
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU).
1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Absolutely brutal decision this week but have to go with De'Veon Smith teleporting through a pile of players and then posterizing the same defensive back twice.
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh's OBJ impression. Every defensive snap save approximately three of them.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
BYU scrapes over 100 total yards on their last drive.
Honorable mention: Rudock doesn't see the fact that Jehu Chesson's guy has fallen down on the first snap. Michigan gets stuffed on a fourth down in the second half. Blake O'Neill goes rogue on a 4th and 16 punt fake.
Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
[After the JUMP: I AM FEELING QUITE POSITIVE THIS WEEK YES SIR]
De’Veon, first tell us, how are you feeling?
“I’m feeling good. You know, I’ve got a boot on right now for precautionary reasons. You know…got a little banged up, but it’s not a big deal. Just trying to get healthier for next week.”
De’Veon, tell me what was going through your mind when you had that 60-yard run for a touchdown and were just going through everybody.
“To be honest, I thought I was down for a second but- then I put my hand down in the ground- but once I got to the second level I knew for a fact I was not letting #15 tackle me, so that kind of made me want to score even more.”
Jake, seemed like the most comfortable you’ve been in the passing game. How much of that is opening up the playbook a little bit and just finally getting comfortable?
“I think it all comes down to really just being comfortable with the calls that Coach has coming in, and having good communication with him, and saying, ‘No, I’d rather go with a different play.’ Just feeling more comfortable with that, and then I think it also goes to the offensive line. They allow you to be comfortable back there and that’s always- it’s really impressive.”
Jake, can you talk about the one-handed grab Amara made and how that came about, and also what it did in terms of energizing the team?
“Yeah, that was a great play by him. He had man coverage; I figured I’d give him a shot and the ball got a little more outside than I wanted it to but he made a great play, and like you said, I think that jumpstarted guys. It was a third-down conversion, I believe, and whenever you can convert third downs it’s always good for the offense.”
[More after THE JUMP]
[Ed-S: Bumped from the diaries. He writes these every week after the games so if you like it look out for it.]
Why do we keep these?
In my last ItBS diary, I alluded to the fact that I would be traveling to Michigan during the week for a family wedding. Unfortunately, my travel plans had me flying from Detroit to Dallas during the Michigan-BYU game. But never fear, I taped the game, avoided social media all day long and watched the game last night. What a game it was; I'm definitely glad I made the effort to avoid any spoilers.
As this was my first trip back home since my dad passed away over two years ago, I expected this trip would not be a normal one. There were plenty of private moments, but as my dad was a big Michigan fan, there were some things that happened that might be of interest to this blog's readers. If you just want to read the normal post-game boxscore analysis, skip ahead to the link. If you want to read about why football matters, or at least, why it matters to me, read on. The next few paragraphs speak to why, as Jim Harbaugh says, football matters. It's the bigger story, if you will.
My dad was a collector. He collected Michigan football programs and ticket stubs. The first thing we would do when we got to the stadium was find the program vendors. Dad would buy two programs and carefully wrap them in black plastic garbage bags to protect them from the elements. He would tuck those into his Michigan bag that kept his binoculars (and unlike many Michigan fans, he actually put binoculars in his binocular case) and his radio and earphones. He would get two programs every game because at the end of the season, he would give one complete set of that season's programs to, I believe, the UofM alumni association of Lansing to raffle off for their scholarship fund. The other set of programs he kept. He made it to most of the away games. On the rare occassions where he couldn't go, he'd ask a friend to get him a couple programs. On Friday, my brother and I decided to keep those programs, at least for the time being.
My dad had a dream of one day displaying all of the ticket stubs on a wall in a Michigan room in the house. He never got around to doing that, but we still have all those ticket stubs. Nothing would get my dad more upset than when a ticket-taker would rip the ticket in half, instead of tearing it off neatly at the perforation. Dad would even separate 3/4 of the stub from the ticket to make it easier for the ticket-taker. Phil Hartman played a character on Saturday Night Live called, "The Anal Retentive Chef." That was my dad.
[After the jump: Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera]
The secondary and the front seven really seemed to work in concert defending the pass. Can you just talk about the job they both did?
“Yeah, heck of a job. Great to be a part of a shutout. Defensive staff, DJ Durkin and the guys did a great job; players, everybody. When you only give up 105 yards, that’s…I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of one of those. That’s outstanding in so many areas.
“Picked up two third-down conversions early in the game and the rest of the game it was like 2-of-12, maybe. Thought we did an excellent job on third down. In all aspects, a great defensive ballgame.”
Could you talk about Jake’s [Rudock] day, and particularly his choice to throw the ball away or run if he didn’t see what he liked?
“Yeah. Hey, Mark! Yeah, good to see you.”
[Ed. (Adam): Mark didn’t ask the question. I’ve never seen Mark before.]
“Yeah, really good. I just glanced at the sheet after the game and he was 14- or 15-of-25, something in that area, and there must have been four or five throwaways. I thought he was having fun. I thought he was, you know, playing the game, letting it rip, and got two big scores scrambling, running the football. Great block by Jehu Chesson on the second touchdown. I can’t wait to watch that one on tape. Lead some good, consistent drives even in the second half. Thought the offense did a heck of a job controlling possession of the football; had an 11-play drive and a 12-play drive and scored on the first five possessions. Came out strong.
“Saw some really creative plays. Tim Drevno and Jedd Fisch, you know, really diagrammed some good plays this week and the fellas did a nice job executing them, so a lot of good things. Good team victory.”
Going back to the defense, obviously your guys were consistent from start to finish. What about the 11 punts you had on 12 possessions and seven three-and-outs?
“Yeah, the three and outs, I’m glad you brought that up. We scored the first five times we had the ball offensively, and four of those- four times the defense had three-and-out possessions and then to start the second half it was one right after the other, three and outs. It was very good. Good football team both sides of the ball, so it was good. And we go back to work now. Start conference play this week and we’ll attack it the same way. Big game this week.”
I know you don’t like to talk about yourself much but I’m interested, is the feeling of winning- today would be a day I’d guess that captures why you wanted to come back and coach this team. Is the feeling of winning in an atmosphere like this right now and what you’re going through different than the NFL, and do you watch NFL games anymore? Do you miss anything about it?
“Lot of questions there.”
[After THE JUMP: We had hamburgers it was crazy]