somehow we're only 124th
By Heiko "4 AD" Yang
FIVE BOLD PREDICTIONS FOR THINGS THAT WILL HAPPEN BETWEEN NOON AND 3:30 TODAY:
1. Michigan has a negative play that results in positive yardage. Sometimes you have to go back in order to actually move forw–
/punches own dong.
Ow. Ohio State has this guy named Joey Bosa. He’s really good, we all know this. Probably at some point in the game he’s going to blow by Michigan’s freshman left tackle and cause someone in the Michigan backfield to explode into a million pieces. The play will be flagged for unnecessary roughness, and Michigan will gain 15 yards on the penalty and double their total offensive output for the half. It will be a pyrrhic victory.
2. Urban Meyer outsmarts himself. Calls time-out during Michigan’s two-minute drill; instructs punt returners to signal fair catch; double-covers Funchess in the red zone; huddles.
3. Ohio State’s efforts to enhance their CoFoPoff considerations are in vain. There are no style points to be gained when you end your regular season against a team that got blanked by the team that lost at home in overtime to the team that got torched 48-7 by the team that lost to the team that gave up 581 rush yards to the team that lost to the team that lost the M00N game. I have no idea where I ended up going with this. Did Michigan and Northwestern each appear in this twice? Yes. Yes they did.
4. One unsportsmanlike penalty is awarded. Mike Slive, for taunting.
5. Brady Hoke wears a headset. It’s plugged into his phone, and it’s playing Hall and Oates.
- “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” – While releasing depth chart.
- “I Can’t Go For that” – 4th-and-1 on the OSU 30.
- “Did It In A Minute” – Getting the offense to the line of scrimmage.
- “Possession Obsession” – See previous.
- “Maneater” – Joey Bosa sack/TFL.
- “So Close” – 21-point deficit.
- “I’ll Be Around” – December.
Michigan 13 Ohio State 21
by Nick RoUMel
One competitor comes into this contest with a 5-6 record, especially struggling as the season has worn on. The other, after a rocky start, has turned it up a notch – really getting into the groove in the last month.
On paper it seems no contest. But as the cliché goes, where there is a fierce rivalry, anything can happen.
We are not talking about Michigan-Ohio State. This is about Punt-Counterpunt.
The heart of this column, in the decades it has run, has been about the accuracy of prediction. Whether Dave “Original Punt” DeVarti, Jeff “Original Counterpunt” Gourdji, Ken “Sky/Punt Classic” Walker, Heiko “4 AD/New Punt,” or yours truly, we do strive to nail the outcome and final score.
For 2014, the upstart at the top of this column has failed miserably. After cruising through the early season with four straight outcome predictions, Heiko barely managed to call the winner of the Indiana game correctly. Perhaps it was the concussion he suffered playing softball that affected him, but despite his incredible brains, winning personality, and medical school success, Heiko would be lucky to pick the winner in a game of solitaire.
Enter Counterpunt, the reincarnation of Nostradamus. Yes, I started 2-3; and both of us failed to see the cluster**** that was Minnesota. But where Heiko has since reeled, I have picked four straight, almost nailing each score. Season records:
|Rutgers||24-26||34-10||*no prediction||*Brandon protest|
|MSU||11-35||21-17||*17-31||*Punt Classic’s guest column; Heiko smoking crack|
|RECORD||5-6||5-6||*6-3||*C-Punt not taking credit for guest column|
On one point both Punt and I will agree: this has been a very difficult season to entertain our readers. A perfect storm of calamities has made this perhaps the most awful season in Michigan football history –not necessarily by record, but for reasons well known to our readers that need not be recounted. Suffice to say it’s hard to be funny when your loved one is lying in a hospital bed, in critical condition, writhing in painful agony, with only the faint hope of a miracle cure.
No miracles today, I’m afraid. But we’ll see you next year, with sharpened pencils and renewed optimism. May the best prognosticator win, and one more thing:
Forever and always, Go Blue.
Ohio State 35, Michigan 6
|WHAT||Michigan vs Ohio State|
November 29th, 2014
|THE LINE||OSU –20.5|
|WEATHER||mid 40s, slight chance of rain, 10 mph wind|
Uh, Ohio State is going to win the division and probably the league. They have put hurtings on everyone they've faced after the VT game except Penn State, when JT Barrett was overwhelmed by a legit-elite D, and Indiana, when they got all of the bad luck they might have deployed against M out of their system. And then they put up four straight touchdowns to run away with that game anyway.
Run Offense vs Ohio State
it would be nice if Tevin Coleman walked through that door
After much of a season charitably described as "rough," this facet of Michigan's offense has edged towards extant recently. P5 opponents, with reasonable performances highlighted:
|@ Notre Dame||35||100||2.86||0|
|@ 10 Michigan St.||26||61||2.35||1|
Fake punt last week removed
Unfortunately this looks a lot like Michigan finding bad competition more frequently than serious improvement. The four highlighted games are against the #14, 11, 9, and 5 rush defenses in the league, and Northwestern—the only above-average unit there—is being propped up by games against Purdue and their ilk. Michigan's 4.2 YPC was better only than Penn State, Purdue, and oddly Minnesota amongst Wildcat B10+ND opponents.
Michigan's recent performances may or may not be real improvement.
It does feel like the offensive line has been getting more cohesive over the last few games. Michigan bashed in the Maryland front in a way M fans haven't seen since David Molk was scowling in the middle of the line; a large part of the Drake Johnson hype is because his carries have been behind the improving line (and against bad defenses).
OSU comes in with a weird statistical profile. Ignore the opener against Navy (63 carries for 370) yards and you've still got wildly varying performances. Penn State got 16 yards total; MSU and Minnesota both ground out around five yards a carry. Last week Tevin Coleman had a 200-yard game featuring two enormously long touchdowns and 3.4 YPC otherwise.
This makes sense if your model of the OSU defense is a ton of talent that's rather confused. The OSU DL has lived up to the hype, for the most part, this year; the back seven has been rotating through linebackers trying to find either 1) a veteran who can play or 2) a freshman who knows what he's doing. They have not been very successful at either.
Junior Josh Perry is the closest thing to a stalwart at LB. He's the Buckeyes' leading tackler; #2 and #3 are the starting safeties—this is generally not a good sign. Two of the next three linebackers on the list are freshmen, with Darron Lee outpacing the highly touted Raekwon McMillan so far; the other is perpetual OSU fan whipping boy Curtis Grant. OSU fans are pretty much right about this; Grant has not had anywhere near the impact he was supposed to out of high school and has continued to play by default. The LB corps is middling at best. They make a lot of TFLs; they fail to show up in the right place too often.
The same cannot be said for the defensive line, which features four guys with at least 6 TFL. Joey Bosa leads the way with 18(!), 11.5(!) of which are sacks. NT Michael Bennett is on his way to a high position in the next NFL draft; Adolphus Washington is now a DT after beating Taylor Lewan as a freshman for one of the only sacks Lewan gave up at Michigan; Steve Miller has been an able plugger with the absence of the suspended Noah Spence. Occasionally they'll get out of a lane; this is going to be a much stiffer test for M than they've had recently.
Meanwhile, OSU safeties have been trying to emulate MSU's with dubious success; they've backed off of late. OSU is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to long scrimmage plays of all varieties; their cover 4 has evolved into a less aggressive version over the season.
Key Matchup: The interior line versus Bennett and Washington. M will have to run away from or chip-double Bosa much of the day; the interior line will not have such luxuries. They might be up for it… but probably not.
[Hit THE JUMP for bad news everybody.]
There won't be another one after. Not for Gardner. Not for Jake. Not for Hoke, for whom the accumulated effects of progressively worse seasons will mean the end. Not for a Michigan team that has less talent than their star ratings gave them, but far more than their record demonstrates.
As we come to the end—there will be no bowl game barring a miracle—for the Brady Hoke era, the tragedy is all of that wasted talent. That precious snaps with Denard Robinson and Vince Smith and David Molk and Patrick Omameh were wasted on Power because dogma. That Devin Gardner was never given the coaching or the system or the stability or the offensive line to be more than a freshman who runs around a lot. That Jake Ryan, who would have been Lawrence Taylor if he lived 30 years ago, spent his senior season having to learn a very hard thing he wasn't made to do. That Blake Countess is a coverage nickel because the cornerbacks play man all day. That Devin Funchess was a tight end, and then a bubble screen slot bug, until it was too late to care. That Dennis Norfleet was dancing around on the sidelines while A.J. Williams whiffed on blocks of defenders who wouldn't have been in the box otherwise. That senior seasons of Mone, Wile, Dymonte , Hurst, Gedeon, Houma, Delano, RJS, Ojemudia, Pipkins, Drake Johnson, Raymon, Da'Mario, Jarrod, Norfleet, Jourdan, Brandon Watson, Taco, Bolden, and Shane effing Morris were traded for a bare handful of freshman snaps that other guys might have taken.
That four years of Michigan football were wasted on Brady Hoke, and that here, at the end of all things, we're still not even sure those in charge will consider something besides unwavering faith in the gospel of "Michigan" in the next J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach.
The next guy. These are now a week out of date but Eye of the Tiger put together a couple of roundups of the coaching candidates in our crosshairs. Factors are: Potential upside, Potential downside, Transition costs, Overall desirability, and Chances of him coming. Both start with Harbaughs; the first has Jim, Les, Mullen, Graham, and, uh, Belichick? Second has John, Patterson, McElwain, Herman, and…okay so the fifth guy is always some joke.
Alum96 added a defense of Les Miles to answer some guy made of straw who goes around saying LSU has regressed lately. Straw men are stupid. The main arguments against Les are that he's too old, and his coaching style is a better fit for LSU, which is near the extreme of anything-goes for college football, versus Michigan, where the local press turns you in for accidentally practicing an extra 20 minutes.
[Jump for seniors departing, a new basketball stat, and college football parity]
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for email. Here is a cat.
Catch you guys tomorrow.
[ED (Seth): We're off today for the holiday. You too deserve a day to think about food instead of Michigan football. To that end, we give you the recipe that Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ has been saving all year for this. As before, we can bring it to you because Stubb's offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where the BBQ sauce people really liked our blog and the bloggers really liked the BBQ sauce, and nine of ten doctors agree that any level of cholesterol is less damaging than being invested in a losing team. Happy Thanksgiving!]
Finally, the biggest game of the season is here and my BBQ Man Cave is ready. After everyone leaves and takes all the leftover turkey with them, I usually turn to something fun and easy for the game on Saturday. These "Brady" Back Ribs are my all time favorite and about the easiest thing to BBQ. I love a good rack of spares, but couldn't pass on a rack of extra meaty baby backs. These can be smoked in about 4 hours and will leave you with a few rib bones to throw at the TV if things don't go our way. (Is the line still 20 + points?) Anyways, here goes. You will notice an odd ingredient in here, but give it a try. I did and liked the end result.
- Baby Back Ribs
- Real Mayonaise or Mustard
- Apple Juice or Apple Cider
- BBQ Rub
[After the jump: how to get a good bark.]
[META Note: Ace took sick, so this is getting the Seth treatment. Also we're having Thanksgiving at my house in 24 hours so this is gonna be short.]
Let's live in this moment for a second:
The Indiana Hoosiers have the ball. There's 4-1/2 minutes left. And there's just one score of separation between them and Urban Meyer's first Big Ten loss. In this moment, there is hope that a basketball school with a mediocre football team could… just… maybe…
It didn't. On this very play, the universe made a correction: Diamont chucked it to a double-covered guy, it was intercepted, and a little bit of hellish divine comedy later, OSU had the B1G East locked up.
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.
Personnel. I diagram:
The three guys we thought would be their biggest stars in the preseason aren't starting but it doesn't matter. J.T. Barrett has done just fine for the injured Braxton Miller, Marshall has been more than an adequate replacement for the H-/Percy-/Slot-/Whatever job since Norfleet-like Dontre Wilson went down. And Deep Threat™ Devin Smith doesn't "start" or get as many targets as Michael Thomas, but he leads the team in receiving yards and has 8 TDs to go with his 24.4 ypc. He's definitely the dangerman in the key backups section in the short history of these diagrams.
[Hit the jump for information-type substance]
"This week, and we talked about it earlier on Monday, is always a different week. We had two very good sessions. You always start early it seems like for this game, but in preparation we were outside yesterday. Had a really good practice. Team’s working hard with the preparation. We got a lot that we've got to correct from a week ago but there's a lot to build off from a week ago also. The big thing is you always, listening to coach Schembechler and coach Moeller and coach Carr throughout the years, you want to play your best at the end of November. That's what we're trying to do, have our best performance on Saturday. Great rivalry. We've talked about it and it’s special. Unless you've coached in it and played in it I think sometimes it's hard to explain, but the intensity in this game is like no other you'll play."
Do you bring in special speakers? You mentioned Mo and those guys. Do you bring those guys in? I know Mo’s around here a lot. Does he come in and talk?
"At times you do. We have in the past. It hasn't been every year but yeah, we've had people come in. We do a lot of that in August during camp because you've got those days and you’ve got each other so you refer back to some of those if you're not bringing somebody in."
Bo was famous for every practice they did something for Ohio State. Is that how you handle that?
"Not every practice. We talk about it. It's visually up here in this building all the time [the countdown clock], and we talk about it weekly if not daily about the rivalry and the extent of it."
But you don't do something specific and practice for Ohio State every week?
"Not every week."
For a player like Mason Cole or Bryan Mone, what is this first experience like? How do you bring them into the rivalry and what is it like for them to go into it?
"I think a couple things. Number one, you bring up those two true freshmen. Playing at South Bend this year and then at Michigan State and now going to Columbus, which we've never done that, and we've never done that with those two teams [on the road] in the same year so playing in those venues, and Michigan State playing a night game on national television – er, Notre Dame, I think that's part of it. I think the passion in Spartan Stadium is hopefully something they can refer to but as I said earlier this is even a louder environment. It'll be a test but they've been playing football a long time and that's, at the end of the day, what it is is playing football."
[After THE JUMP: So about last year…]
1976 Michigan Football Team
Circled are Jim Hackett, 53, and Jack Harbaugh, Bo assistant
I am not putting all the eggs in the ol' basket based on this. Maybe a few.
Chances of similar nepotism catastrophe?
Well, we've just witnessed the final episode of Brady Hoke in Michigan Stadium. It's very easy for some to feel anger at the head coach, but the more appropriate target(s?) are those responsible for elevating Hoke to a position he was incapable of executing. Beyond the anger, are the responsible parties still in a position of influence? Not Brandon, of course, my concern is more directed toward Schembechler Hall. Is there a risk of essentially repeating the same mistake of another Michigan Man, albeit a more competent version?
Uh… no? We have already plucked the last fruit off the Lloyd Carr tree, such as it is, and Michigan men available are:
- JIM HARBAUGH. Probably not a mistake.
- LES MILES. Questionable due to age and sketch, but even so not in Hoke's galaxy as in terms of qualifications, or lack thereof.
- NOBODY. There are no other Michigan-affiliated head coaches.
I guess Michigan could go way off the board and hire one of the near-rookie NFL coordinators who have ties, but you have to think that after the last search they would try to avoid the appearance of nepotism. I cannot say for sure, of course. Michigan could go with Harold Goodwin or Teryl Austin, because nobody knows anything about Jim Hackett.
I kind of doubt it, though. After the two obvious guys there isn't a midlevel head coach with an uninspiring record who you can just barely see as conceivable if you squint particularly hard.
Meanwhile the new president isn't a Michigan guy and seems kind of appalled by the current culture of the department; most of said department consists of Brandon-hired short-timers with no connection to Michigan. The guy dead-set on the nepotism hire has been flushed, and what are the chances Michigan hires two CEOs like… that… back to back?
Okay, okay: nonzero. But not high. If Hackett's anywhere near the meat of the bell curve the backup plan won't be hired because he knows six different places Encore Records has been.
[After THE JUMP: or where Le Dog went to]
Two ways we can go.
Ace: I feel obligated to ask a question about The Game despite barely even having the will to watch the dang thing at this point. So... what miracle (or series of miracles) needs to transpire for Michigan to win? Is there a weakness on the Buckeyes that you can see Michigan exploiting in an alternate universe where Michigan exploits weaknesses?
Seth: The Buckeyes are good, but they're not perfect. The backfield and DL are legit, but the LBs and DBs and WRs are still guys who live on their athleticism more so than technique, and the OL is still just as young as ours. Urban covers up the youth well, but it shows at times.
|Urban's message to Barrett: don't try to be perfect. [11w]|
J.T. Barrett isn't Braxton Miller, for better and worse. Barrett isn't going to glide past your containment the way Miller always could; on the other hand he's way more accurate on deep balls, giving Ohio State a lethal third dimension. Teams that have had defensive success against the Buckeyes have been crashing the ends on Elliott to force Barrett to run, trusting their athletes can chop him down in space. Penn State and Virginia Tech both kept his run/pass ratio relatively even, and mixed up coverages like crazy to try to temp Barrett into turnovers. The strategy is vulnerable deep, but sometimes you can get lucky (Indiana), or weather can interfere (Minnesota), or your defensive line can generate enough organic pressure (Penn State) to deny Barrett the chance.
Michigan's DL has the chops to keep the OSU run game in hand without selling out on it. The coverage has been good except when tempo'ed, which Meyer would be all to happy to use but for his young offense.
The thing about Meyer's OSU is it's not going to surprise you. He covers his players' weaknesses by having them repeatedly do the things they're good at, in a system that makes sense and takes advantage of whatever it's given. Brady Hoke, on the other hand, tends to spend big chunks of games making his players do things they're bad at, and almost never takes strategic advantages when they're presented. There is an advantage in punching yourself in the face all season, because OSU has scant film on what happens when a Brady Hoke team actually uses its talents.
In some whacky scenario, Michigan throws a bunch of Cover 3 and robber things it's been saving up all year, and Barrett shorts his deep balls enough for Ray Taylor to have a GAME, and Gardner comes out like his old self, and Nussmeier finally debuts a fully integrated offense that's allowed to go deep, and Funchess decides the draft stock opportunity this provides is enough to GAF, and Norfleet runs one back, and there's no flags, and then Denard suddenly reveals he has another year of eligibility, and Jim Harbaugh flies down from his moon base on Apollo 17, and every kid Ohio State has visiting commits to him, and together they all make ice cream non-fattening, bring peace to the Middle East, and beat Ohio State 34-27.
[Jump for even more implausible scenarios.]
Bruce Feldman is reporting that interim AD Jim Hackett is close to dropping the interim title:
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 26, 2014
Not saying Hackett decision with #Michigan to remain as AD is a done deal but word is that's the direction things seem to be heading
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 26, 2014
That's along the lines of what we'd been hearing from Sam and others—that Hackett is going to be around for X number of months where X > amount of time it'll take to fire and hire a new coach.
The chances that the best available athletic director is a retired CEO who hasn't worked in an AD ever are about 1%, but This Is Michigan. They don't care what the sensible thing seems to be. That's fine as long as you are good at doing things. Michigan hasn't been, and given the way the chips have fallen if Hackett doesn't lock down Jim Harbaugh the fanbase is going to have a fit.
But he's not Dave Brandon.