chance of bowl: 13.6%
About Last Week:
You wreeeeeeecked me
The Road Ahead:
Penn State (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last game: Bye
Recap: No recap. Bye.
This team is as frightening as: We’re sticking with 2013 Michigan, right down to putting in a International War Crimes Tribunal-worthy offensive performance against Northwestern. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: 2013 Michigan could probably kick the crap out of 2014 Michigan.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: There’s no way Christian Hackenberg can be as effective as Gary Nova.
When they play Michigan: WE’RE BOYCOTTING. Or maybe not. Or maybe we’re STARTING OUT by boycotting, but then we’re going. Or maybe we’ve been boycotting for like three years by showing up late every week. I’m not really sure.
Next game: at Michigan (PSU +2), 7:00 Saturday (ALL OF THE LIGHTS), ESPN2
Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 27-22
Recap: Michigan State was in full control of this game through three quarters. They led 27-3, had outgained Nebraska more than two-to-one (355-176), and had allowed only one of Nebraska’s 14 drives to exceed 40 yards. Then the fourth quarter happened.
Nebraska put together touchdown drives of 43 and 68 yards, and De'Mornay Pierson-El rreturned a Mike Sadler punt 62 yards. Nebraska eventually got the ball back at its own 20 with 1:07 left down 5* points, and completed a 43 yard pass to the Michigan State 37 before Tommy Armstrong threw a pick to effectively end the game.
This had all the hallmarks of a Sparty No, and yet Michigan State came out on top. So, you can spin this two ways: either (a) this is a positive sign for Michigan fans, as it shows Sparty still has that gene, or (b) this is a sign of continued DOOOOM for Michigan, as Sparty showed that when faced with the chance to Sparty No, this current generation of Spartans finds a way to not blow it. Based on the way this year has gone, you know where to place the smart money.
One minor thing that DID go wrong in East Lansing: most of the students bailed when the game was 27-3, causing much consternation in the Athletic Department.
Finally. A chance for Michigan to reclaim the moral high ground…
Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor News
Dammit. Why must we fail at every attempt at masonry.
*Can we talk game tactics for a second here? When Nebraska scored a TD with about 13:00 left to make the game 27-9, they went for two and failed. This left them down 18 instead of 17. They were trying to make the game TECHNICALLY a two score game, but 16 points is basically a 3 score game. That (combined with another failed 2 point conversion after a subsequent TD) left Nebraska down five points late instead of 3, which makes a big difference. Nebraska almost reached field goal range with just over 30 seconds left; they reached the MSU 37, which would be about a 54 yarder, so they probably only needed another 5 to 10 yards. So, I ask you: did they do the right thing?
This team is as frightening as: Super Mario. There is some debate whether Mario is currently Invincibility Star Mario or Fireball Mario, or just regular ol’ Big Mario. When you’re a Goomba, it is of little consequence.
(Michigan is the Goomba).
Fear Level = 9.93
Michigan should worry about: Tony Lippett. He’s averaging over a hundred yards receiving per game at 21 yards per catch, and has scored a TD in every game (he’s got 7 through 5 games).
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Don’t worry. It will all be over soon.
When they play Michigan: My fellow Americans, recent events have forced many fans to dig deep into their savings to cover unexpected losses. If we don’t act now, the Sparty Game Booze Trust Fund will only remain solvent for another week, leaving our most vulnerable fans at risk of severe sobriety at a crucial time. Together we must work to correct this injustice.
Next game: at Purdue (MSU -22), 3:30 Saturday, ABC
[AFTER THE JUMP: Lookin' for wins in all the wrong places...]
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 [glances down] OMIGOD that looks good.
This is my new favorite way to cook steaks and it could not be any easier. They call this "CAVEMAN" or "DIRTY" style. Trust me, you will love it and your BBQ guests will think you're completely NUTS (As if they don't already) and they will be amazed. What is Caveman or Dirty style you ask? "Caveman style" is where you cook the meat directly on the coals without a grate. Yes, you actually toss the meat directly on the coals.
The key here is using only LUMP charcoal. DO NOT use the normal briquettes for this cook. It will not work. Not only does direct contact add great flavor, but it also helps sear in the juices. It also adds some terrific char flavoring. I will go into the boring science behind this style of cooking later. (Just remind me when I do the Ribeye caveman in a few months) GO LUMP or GO HOME!!!!
Flank Steak (Thin)
Serrano Peppers (Or Jalapeño)
Stubbs Steak Spice Rub
[After the Jump: gratuitous photos of meat…]
[Reposting for those who missed yesterday]
What? MGoBlog and handful of former Michigan players who are disproportionately cornerbacks about my age are going to be tailgating before the PSU game at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl Tailgate charity drive. There will be a raffle, and a tailgate Olympics where fans are teamed with former players for maizehole/beer pong/ladder toss, and a Q&A session MC'ed by Brian, and beer.
Where? The North End Zone, 1011 S. Main St., Building B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Technically it would be Michigan Stadium's north end zone if the field was 300 yards long. It's the white and green house on Main Street, opposite Pauline, off the northwest gate of the Big House.
When? 3 pm to 6 pm this Saturday. Games will start at 4-ish, probably do the Q&A from 5 pm to whenever it breaks up or it's time to go to the game.
Who exactly? Well, Brian Cook, Seth Fisher, Ace Anbender, Adam Schnepp, Orson, MMMGoBlueBBQ promised to stop by, my 7-month old…oh you meant important people? Confirmed so far are Marlin Jackson, Brandon Williams, Todd Howard, Marcus Ray, Cato June, Chris Perry, and Zia Combs. As these things go, more are planning to come but can't make promises.
|Looks like this except none of us wear khakis and polos.|
The event was organized by Marlin's people, who asked us to participate.
NOBODY under 21 (except babies). They are checking IDs.
What's the cause? The Go Blue Bowl Tailgate and the Go Blue Bowl Football Challenge support Marlin's Fight for Life Foundation, as well as the the Phalen Leadership Academies, the Peace Neighborhood Center of Ann Arbor, the Summer Advantage Program, and Go Blue Then and Now. These all* fund extracurricular and catch-up programs for at-risk kids.
Marlin started FFL in Indianapolis and has expanded the concept up to Michigan. The school systems where these kids live have been dropping such programs and don't have the ability to implement modern teaching techniques (even though we've known they work for 15+ years) so FFL provides that. It's evolved a bit since we started supporting it: the in-school programs are Building Dreams/Field of Dreams (elementary/middle), and RAP (high school). Seal the Deal is the after-school youth flag football program. And they've added Be a Blessing!, which follows up with the kids who've been in their programs, and provides need-based assistance to their families.
Go Blue Then and Now is an umbrella organization for former Michigan players' charities.
The Go Blue Bowl itself is a flag football game for local kids football teams where former Michigan players coach them for a day (or most of a day then hide indoors because their Floridian skin still can't handle Michigan weather; not naming any names that are also a unit of measurement).
I gotta make a donation right? Yes, but what you can afford. We urge you to donate beforehand on Marlin's website, or buy some raffle tickets when you arrive, or be like "here's five dollars" at the gate. I do ask if you're going to drink the beer you donate like $20 at the door so they don't end up taking a loss on the provisioning of said suds. Suggested minimal donation if you're just gonna come by for the Q&A is $5. The point of the tailgate is to raise money for these charities.
There are things you get for donation levels of $100 and above, like access to the VIP lounge where players with weak-ass Floridian skin might be hiding, and signed memorabilia, and corporate sponsorship displays.
Also one sponsor who sends a check ahead of time will get two free tickets to the Penn State game that one of our readers donated to the cause.
The raffle? I'm not sure of everything that will be there; when we did our tailgate last year Marlin brought a jersey signed by Woodley and some footballs and t-shirts, and Six Zero had a drawing of a half-lion/half-Devin Gardner. There's a Michigan Stadium print by Bennie (godson of THAT Bennie) McCready that I'm bringing. And you can win a spot in the tailgate Olympics.
Ace (2:36 pm): oh god I just realized the only logical game to scout for penn state is... the rutgers game.
Brian (2:36 pm): hahahaha
If you need a refresher, here's the original Rutgers defense FFFF post, which looked at the exact same set of snaps, just from the other perspective. This game was really, really ugly, with Rutgers completely shutting down PSU's running game while hounding Christian Hackenberg with their pass rush; in general, RU overwhelmed what has been a very bad PSU O-line to date.
Personnel. As you can see in Seth's diagram, Penn State's offense sorely lacks experience, including on the much-maligned O-line, which features just one returning starter and two players in their second year on campus [click the diagram to embiggen]:
Jourdan Lewis, meanwhile, has earned full-blown ninja star status.
Penn State tends to put two tight ends on the field regardless of their alignment, and they'll even insert a third on occasion. With TEs that can also double as jumbo receivers, however, they still have plenty of flexibility with their offense; this will be highlighted in the play breakdown. When they do go three-wide, usually on obvious passing downs, DaeSean Hamilton slides into the slot and freshman Chris Godwin flanks him on the outside.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-ish? Penn State lines up in the gun most of the time and throws it quite a bit, but that seems to be more necessity based on ability—the O-line can't really pass-block or run-block, so it's best to start the QB as far away from the line as possible—than a stylistic choice.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Penn State didn't run from their base set much at all—nearly half of their 33 "rushes" were either Hackenberg sacks/scrambles/sneaks (12!), futile plunges out of the Wildcat (2), or fly sweeps (2). They mostly tried outside zone or quick pitches to the edge when they did; they were clearly trying to mitigate the damage their interior line could inflict on themselves.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Varied. PSU mostly played it relatively slow, huddling up between snaps, but they'd go up-tempo to catch the defense off-guard, usually to covert third-and-shorts or to try to hit a big play after gaining a first down.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
News bullets and important items:
Ondre Pipkins should be back this week. Sounds like he was injured last week.
The coaches want the running game to be filtered through the running backs because they don’t want the quarterback to get hurt
Maurice Ways and Chase Winovich are two younger guys who have garnered attention from the coaches
Mo Hurst was a running back in high school and has good vision; hence his use in goal line situations
Jabrill Peppers is not out for the season
“Thanks for coming out today. Yesterday, again, the consistency of having good practices continued. They went out and it was spirited. It was tough. Obviously they want to win. They want to play better. They want to compete better, and I think they’ve done that throughout so that’s been focusing on improving at each position and what we can do to play better, coach better, the whole deal. You know Penn State has a very good defense. Very salty, very good defensive front. I think Hackenberg is as talented as a quarterback as you’re going to find. I remember talking to Bill O’Brien about him and I know what Bill thinks of him as a quarterback and I can tell you we share those sentiments. We’re excited to get back out on Saturday. I think that’s the great part about football; you get another opportunity. We’ve got to take advantage of it. It’ll be a historic night, obviously, with the first Big Ten night game in Michigan Stadium. The atmosphere the night games have created the last two years have been something that has been very exciting for our players, so we’re excited about that.”
Coach, Ondre Pipkins didn’t travel with you. Where is he in the mix on the defensive side?
“He’ll be back with us this week.”
So you’re not talking about injuries, but-
With the running backs, do you move [Ross] Douglas back there or do you do anything else to get more depth, because you were kind of thin there anyway?
“You know, Ross is playing a little bit of the slot. He’s helping us there a little bit. Haven’t moved him full-time back. The good thing is he’s had some snaps there but right now we feel pretty confident with DeVeon and Justice and Drake Johnson. In some personnel and situation things Joe Kerridge being back there is a possibility.”
Is Wyatt Shallman playing there?
“Well, he- a little bit, yeah. He does some things for us.”
We’ve talked about this all the years with Denard and now Devin but the balance between letting them run, which was obviously successful the other day, and then now the injury factor; how do you balance that?
“Well, I think with two good athletes like that who from an instinctive point of view maybe run the ball a little bit more than you want depending on what they see down the field in those passing situations, but I think there is a balance. I think we would like to keep creating the runs from the tailback position as much as possible so that we don’t have to put him in harm’s way.”
How much of it is Devin initiating it and how much of it is directed from Doug [Nussmeier]?
“Well, I think he initiates some of it. He has a feel for it, and instinct for it but obviously there were some designed runs that were in there.”
[After THE JUMP: Get out your Ouija board, because we’re (barely) talking injuries]
FORMATION NOTES: Not a whole lot was different, but Michigan did line up in a number of under fronts…
…so that was frustrating what with Ross playing SAM and Ryan at MLB, neither of them doing particularly well.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Usual rotation on the line except Charlton got the start and played about the same number of snaps as Beyer. Hurst continues to get a few snaps, which is a change from earlier. LBs same; corners generally Lewis and Countess with Taylor coming in for the nickel, pushing Countess inside.
Wilson went the whole way; Clark was the other starter at S with Thomas coming in regularly.
[After THE JUMP: the center cannot hold.]
Ace: We're halfway through the season, and I'm in no mood to ask the standard "how is the team doing compared to expectations?" for obvious reasons. Instead, for a more positive outlook, let's keep our eyes on the future: Which player on each side of the ball has exceeded your expectations for them heading into the year? Has anyone, in your opinion, gone from question mark to potential star?
Seth: There has been so little good news from the offense that Jack Miller's play has gone largely unnoticed. I was ready to write him off after last year to the point where I was writing off the entire OL because Miller still had a job on it. Mea culpa; there's no whiff of Rimington in his future, but it appears the dude can ball.
|Miller seems to be involved in much of the offense's little bursts of running competence. [Fuller]|
We haven't had a UFR for awhile, but when those do come out I bet you'll find the run game's quiet progress can be largely attributed to Miller pulling off the occasional block in a gap nobody but Molk has any business getting to. Even earlier in the season there were Miller-generated holes that the RBs just missed. Did you hear me, People of Earth Who Lived Through the Neg-Two and 27 for 27? THERE WERE HOLES! Upperclassmen are nice, and also a nice reminder that most OL take a long time to develop.
On defense it's Ryan Glasgow, with Jourdan Lewis running a close second. Remember what you thought when you first heard Glasgow was atop the depth chart? You thought "Oh dear, Pipkins is still damaged and a walk-on is ahead of everyone else." That seems like forever ago; it was six weeks ago.
It took just a few games for Glasgow to earn the Order of St. Kovacs, his asterisks packed away for his eventual NFL destination to do human interest stories. I remind you even the Great and Mighty Kovacs spent a season as the opposite of Ed Reed (and went out, miserably, on a play that reminded us how much he wasn't Ed Reed). Some decent run outfits haven't been able to get anywhere against Michigan except when Glasgow rotates out, and there have even been a few GRrraaaarrr plays of brute strength to hint at a higher ceiling.
His game could use some pass rush, but has exceeded expectations to the point that I want Adam to ask the coaches where was guy this last year when they were playing Jibreel Black at nose? I'll say this for Brady Hoke: when he's gone, I suspect I will dearly miss the Heininger Certainty Principle.
[jump for people saying positive things about offensive players, perhaps]
WELP! WELP! WELP! welp
I-AA And Beyond
All these guys are risks. Just look at Bobby Hauck, who went a staggering 80-17 at Montana and has three two-win seasons and a seven win season at UNLV.
BOMBS OVER BEILEIN Y'ALL
BOB STITT, COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES
BASICS: 12 years as HC/OC of D-II CSM, before that two years as Harvard OC and smaller jobs. 90-57, 1-2 in three trips to the D-II playoffs. 50 years old.
PROS: Extensive head coach experience at an academically demanding school that had previous experienced no success. 2001, his second year, was CSM's first winning season in a decade; 7 wins was their best record since 1958(!). Since getting established with an 12-1 record in 2004 only two CSM teams have finished worse than 6-3 in conference.
Has a reputation as an offensive innovator after Dana Holgorsen credited him with the play WVU used to obliterate Clemson in that one Orange Bowl. Does weekly coaching recap show in which he diagrams plays. Seems cool with shirts that say "Stitt happens."
CONS: No experience with big time football, and I mean none: coaching career has taken him from Northern Colorado Greeley to Doane College to Austin College to Harvard to CSM. No idea how he'd recruit.
OVERALL: Here's your Beilein. Quality 50-year-old dude with long, successful track record and reputation as offensive guru with recruiting and can-he-be-big-time questions. CSM is a lot farther from Michigan in Big Time considerations than WVU, obviously.
BEAU BALDWIN, EASTERN WASHINGTON
BASICS: 56-22 in six years on the blood-red field at EWU, coming off consecutive final four appearances in the I-AA playoffs and a national championship in 2010. Had one year at Central Washington, a D-II school before that. Career as an assistant included four years at EWU as OC and QB coach; before that was a Central Washington QB and then their QB coach, commencing immediately upon graduation. 42 years old.
PROS: Wildly successful in the Big Sky. Young. Significantly improved on Paul Wulff's EWU tenure, which saw years around .500 most of the time with only two 9-4 outliers.
CONS: May have never left the state of Washington. Usual experience issues. Paul Wulff flameout indicative of the flier nature of any of these guys. EWU seems to have in-built advantages that lend themselves to success irrespective of HC quality.
OVERALL: Has had more success at a higher level than Stitt, albeit in a briefer time period and coming from a much less dire starting point.
ROB AMBROSE, TOWSON
BASICS: Took over a moribund Towson program that went 3-19 in his first two years and flipped the script, going 29-10 the last three and reaching the I-AA championship game last year. Former Towson WR, has spent virtually all of his coaching career either at his alma mater or UConn, where he was first their QB coach and then OC from 2006 to 2008. 44 years old.
PROS: Youth, crazy Towson turnaround, etc., etc. These guys all have the same profile.
CONS: Same as the other guys. Shorter track record than either.
OVERALL: If you're reaching down here Stitt seems like the pick.
[After THE JUMP: oh no the NFL, plus goblins]
Dennis Norfleet, Frank Clark, Jack Miller
Frank, obviously that wasn’t what your defense wanted [with] the third down struggles, the passing yards and stuff. What do you identify as the single biggest reason for all that?
FC: “Just poor execution. As a defense one thing you’ve got to do and you take pride in is stopping the run first and foremost, and then getting off the field on third down and that’s something that we failed to do this past Saturday. All we can do from this point on is continue to progress and get better as far as those situations, those third-and-longs, third-and-shorts even and come out next week- this week, actually, and make a difference.”
One of those was yours before the half. Can you take us through that?
FC: “Just failed execution. It was a pretty obvious play. I should have made the play, but that play is over with and I move forward from it. I think I’ve beat myself up enough over it. Like I said, that’s just one of those plays I should have made. I tell myself all the time- I’d say 99% of the time I would have made that play. That was that 1% that I didn’t.”
Jack, you guys talk about blocking things out and not hearing the outside, but what would it mean to the guys on this team to have a crowd that is pretty packed and whipped up for a night game here?
JM: “It’d be awesome, and that’s what we’re hoping happens. There’s no place like the Big House when it gets rocking, and we’re really looking forward to coming home for the first night game in the Big Ten here and all that stuff and having a fun night. So we’re looking forward to the support from the fans and the students and hopefully they can give us an extra edge to get a W out there.”
[More after THE JUMP]
file, but he had the same pullover on so not really
Can you talk about the loss of Derrick Green a little bit and how it impacts you? He looked like he had one of his best games. Two really good carries and then the clavicle injury.
“Well, obviously disappointing to lose Derrick and it was one of his better games. Felt like he was really dialed in focused, ran extremely hard. So we’ve got great expectations for the other guys. DeVeon’s done an outstanding job all season, as has Justice. Some other guys have got to step up. Drake’s got to step up and we’ll continue to move forward and we’ll feel good about those guys moving forward.”
When you look at Devin, what were the changes that you saw from, I guess, the benching until Saturday? Were there dramatic improvements in his play?
“The biggest thing I think, Devin- I’ve talked about it all season. His preparation has been second to none. He’s done an outstanding job each and every week of preparing himself to play, and I felt like he played extremely fast in this game. Made some really good decisions. Obviously he had the one interception, but other than that- and that was a matter of circumstance more than anything else, but he played I thought extremely fast and effective.”
With Drake and Justice, can you talk about- you’ve seen them a lot more than any of us. Talk about what they bring to the field when they’re on the field.
“Well, I think you’ve seen Justice has played a lot for us in third-down type situations to date. Outstanding protector. Really understands defense. Understands how to see blitzes, recognize, and does a really outstanding job in protection.
“Drake has done a really good job in practice, so it’s just been more a matter of numbers than anything for him. He’s a slashing-type back. Has really good vision, and looking forward to having an opportunity to get him out there.”
With DeVeon, he hasn’t ever had more than 10 carries in a game. With this opportunity, how do you see him taking that on his back. Can he be a 25, 30 carries a game guy?
“Well he’s been preparing to carry it as many times as need be all season long, and just a matter of circumstance at times. Derrick’s done a really nice job and he hasn’t gotten as many touches, but if you look at the productivity in his touches it’s been really good.”
I know that we talked about Devin’s health and you guys want to keep him health obviously, but at what point do you make it a priority to sort of get him more on the move and sort of let him do things with his legs? Is that something you look at here going forward?
“Well, I think I’ve said it all along. You never want to take the caliber of player that Devin is with his athletic ability and really restrict that. Tried to, from an offensive standpoint, let him let the system work for him, and then when things aren’t there make plays with his feet but obviously any time you can use the quarterback as an effective running weapon it creates another dimension the defense has to defend. On the same side of that you’ve also got to be conscious of protecting the quarterback and making sure he’s not taking undue shots.”
[After THE JUMP: the Cheshire Cat’s response to the Darboh catch]