"(I) think about 'The Lion King,' Simba gets hit over the head and (he's told) 'the past can hurt,' " Harbaugh said Monday afternoon. "'You can either run from it or embrace it and learn from it.'
You’ve got to be pretty pleased with the play of your group through four games.
“Yeah, definitely really pleased. Lot of room for improvement still, but we’ve made a lot of plays and are gradually improving week to week in terms of technique and everything.”
After one week it looked like Jake was going to be kind of the focus of your group; he caught eight balls, and now you guys are spreading it around. Which is more desirable, to have a lot of different guys or one that you know will [inaudible, but they’re insinuating a go-to guy]?
“More desirable would be to have more guys that you know you can trust, so I think we’re working towards that. Spreading it around is good. I think being able to get a bunch of guys on the field and not have anyone know who you’re throwing the ball to or whether it’s run or pass is a good thing, so we like having more guys involved.”
A lot’s been made of the wide receivers’ blocking. How do you like your group in terms of that?
“Yeah, we’re doing a nice job. The receivers are setting the bar really high, though, in terms of their effort through the end of plays and second-effort blocks, cut blocks, so they’re giving the rest of the offensive players something to strive for and putting really impressive stuff on tape.”
Khalid [Hill] was saying after the game that that was sort of an important moment for him to actually get involved in the offense again. Have you seen sort of a difference in him over the last few weeks, and even now with sort of a confidence boost from that?
“I don’t think a difference necessarily in him. I know obviously he was excited, and then the group’s excited for him to get a few touches and to have his number called but he’s been working hard. I don’t think he’s approached anything differently.”
[After THE JUMP: Hopefully the MARS game is more fun than the MOON game]
Upon Further Review has not yet lost its sponsor.
While you are not wearing pants you can just call Matt at Homesure Lending. You'll have his number. So if you are unsure about something or need something you can just call him up. Probably don't mention the pants, because that's weird.
FORMATION NOTES: Hello dime package. Michigan spent most of the day in it. This was probably the most common setup:
30 dime slide
Michigan has three guys in a three-point stance along the line with Ojemudia flanking them as a standup end; behind are Desmond Morgan and Jabrill Peppers. Most of the time Peppers went into coverage and left the front five to win one on one matchups, which they almost universally did.
The other very common formation was one that's pretty similar but again has the "buck" lined up just off the nose tackle.
Michigan would insert Ojemudia or RJS at various places along the line.
I called formations on which Michigan was clearly going into man coverage with another player while Peppers was added to the box "nickel 3-4."
Yes, those are two actual LBs. When BYU added their fullback Bolden would come in.
This with nobody backing the line on the snap was "5-0 dime":
I think that about covers it. Oh: I didn't get a shot but that first snap I dubbed "3-1-7" because Ojemudia is over the slot and there are legit 4 people in the box. About which more later.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Michigan spent almost the whole game in a dime package featuring all three corners plus Peppers, Hill, and Wilson. Morgan played the entire game except for the final drive; the DL rotation was the usual eight guys in the usual doses. If you ask me the starting lineup now includes Matt Godin instead of Willie Henry but that's a fine distinction.
Bolden got the few bonus LB snaps. These all came when BYU added an H-back to the equation. Ross was healthy after all: he got in at the end of the game.
[After THE JUMP: hhhyarrrrr it had eleven mouths and no bottom]
So, my dear Harbaugh doubters and Maryland player drafters, how have your expectations changed for this year?
David: Starting last New Year's Day, I think I backed the idea that M was going to go 8-4 with a probable ceiling of 10-2. As M landed RuDock and Brian UFRed most of his 2014 games -and, admittedly, the Drake Harris hype train hit full steam ahead- I was getting confident in 9-3. Harris hasn't hit it big, yet, and RuDock is still coming along. But that defense looks, no, IS...really frickin' good, man. I thought they would be better than the past few years, but they could be the best M has had in quite a while. I wasn't too discouraged after Utah, but said to my buddy, as we walked away from the game, that I thought BYU would be the big measuring stick to tell us how we'd developed over the next month. I'm going to say that Michigan passed.
The rest of the league? Maybe not so much. Teams with good coaches grow and get better. And that could happen in a couple of places but not that many. Let's see some consistency out of the Penn State OL and Minnesota's offense. Brian mentioned that the Michigan State game looks a lot more tractable and I have to agree. It seems like it might finally be a more even game that its been over the last couple of years, obviously. With Michigan State's line of injuries over the past few weeks and some of their performances looking a tad spotty, despite playing lower level opponents, I am actually starting to like this matchup for Michigan. The Ohio State game? I feel better about it than I did a month ago, but if Ohio State executes to their highest ability, I'm not sure any other team in the country beats them. Obviously, that is a throw-out-the-records Game and just about anything can happen, but those are the types of things that are impossible to predict. If both teams play their best, I think Michigan still gets edged out. Ok, it's official. I have talked myself up to being confident in 9-3 and maybe even a little disappointed in not going 10-2*.
*obligatory mention barring major injuries to very key players: RuDock, G. Glasgow, Butt, Lewis, Peppers.
[after the jump: we jump but maybe not as high as Amara the American]
Note: Jabrill was on his way from class and missed the time they do the two-player panels, so we got extra time with him in a scrum. I jumped in mid-answer here.
“…in terms of punt returning, we’re almost on the brink of taking one back. Just minor corrections and me making full-speed decisions and trusting the blocks and the way it sets up. I think I’m right on the brink of breaking one.”
Your thoughts on how the secondary’s coming together right now after four games?
“You know, it all starts with the coaches. They do a great job of gameplan and coming up with schemes that best fit us and our best attributes and they put us in the right positions to make plays and it’s been working so far. It’s just all in the schematics.”
Talk about the coaches as technicians. What have you learned technically from them?
“It’s almost too much to name in terms of techniques and different things they teach us, different pointers what to watch in terms of route recognition, formation recognition, what they like to do out of said personnel or said formations so it all helps us out there on the field. We rep it so much in practice it just becomes second nature.
“In the games it actually slows down because we were prepared for tempo. In practice we kind of killed ourselves all week thinking they were going to go tempo, and if they did I didn’t notice it. You know, it definitely all starts with the preparation.”
How comfortable do you feel in this hybrid role that you’re playing?
“It’s…I’m always comfortable with the guys around me. They do a great job of preparing and helping me. I just do whatever I’m asked to do. You know, put the time in the film room, put the time in the playbook, learn the position as if I played it all year and just try to go out and compete each and every day.”
What do you like about the position that you’re playing and what you can do every week?
“I just like how I’m around the ball a lot. They put me in spots where I can excel, and then it’s up to me to play. That’s how I look at it. They can’t go out there and play for us, so they put us in the right spots at the right moments. Coach Durkin does a great job with knowing the personnel and what they like to do on each down and what’s their tendencies and while I’m out there I remember that. I can kind of get a jump on a route or get a jump on what play or what kind of run I expect them to run, so it just all goes back to schematics.”
[After THE JUMP: The best way to talk trash it to let your pads do it for you]
1 hour 35 minutes
Also a big thanks to our sponsors. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and company have been on board here from almost the beginning. Shopping with them helps us and supports good dudes.
Fan-dang-tastic defense from top to bottom and Rudock progress on offense, plus the two wow experience plays. Not bad overall.
Gimmicky Top Five List: Most Ridiculously Fun Blowouts
I thought this might have a significant amount of overlap and it did, but we fill in some just-missed and get in shots at NFL reporters all the same.
247's Steve Lorenz
We might talk a bit about Rashan Gary with Steve Lorenz of 247. Also Carlo Kemp, the 2017 in-state class, and general team stuff.
Catch us Mondays 5-7 on 1050 WTKA.
THE USUAL LINKS
KJ Hamler warms up. [Dave Nasternak/MGoBlog]
For this week's scouting post, Dave and I went out to Orchard Lake St. Mary's and their blood-red field to see four-star 2017 prospects KJ Hamler and Josh Ross, both of whom hold Michigan offers. OLSM took on Warren De La Salle in a matchup of defending state champions, though unfortunately DLS RB/CB Allen Stritzinger sat out due to injury.
Despite the absence of Stritzinger and standout linebacker Eric Rogers, De La Salle dominated; we exited the scene before the 31-8 score went final. While Hamler and Ross couldn't lead their team to victory, both showed flashes of their potential; in Hamler's case, one flash was especially bright:
We call him "Speedy Eaglet" for a reason.
[Hit THE JUMP for more video and scouting reports on Hamler and Ross.]
During the preseason I was goofing around with wide receiver targeting stats by Bill Connelly*, and Ace asked me if it says anything about anything if a team is targeting its tight ends more than its receivers. At the time it seemed Michigan was about to do that. They haven't:
But once things shake out it wouldn't be that surprising if it's Darboh and Butt then a bunch of low-amplitude dudes. The more the season has progressed, the more it seems Ian Bunting and Henry Poggi are going to siphon snaps and targets from Grant Perry and Drake Harris. Jehu Chesson gets ignored even when his cornerback has fallen down. We can compare this distribution to the rest of the Big Ten:
For the above I counted OSU's H-backs as receivers, fullbacks as RBs, and Northwestern's "superbacks" as tight ends. It's early in the season so there's still a ton of mess in those numbers. So lets get some more data and see what we find.
[after the jump: two blobs jousting]
One year ago. Not quite today. But close:
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) September 30, 2014
The beginning of the end and the beginning of the rebirth. The Daily's Jake Lourim takes the opportunity to look at Jim Hackett's tenure:
Schlissel said student backlash went “beyond having a football team that didn’t achieve a record that met people’s expectations.”
“It was part of the issue, why people were anxious, but it wasn’t the main issue,” he told the Daily in September. “I think, what people felt was, football in particular and perhaps the other sports were becoming more distant from the campus. That they were becoming more of an enterprise and less of an activity. I think our non-athlete students … felt estranged — they felt like customers.
“I think we’ve gone a long way in the months since … to reset the way the Athletic Department views its role on the campus,” he added.
Schlissel is in charge of things for a reason.
Save a garbage bag, bring a poncho. The Maryland game is going to be in the vicinity of tropical storm Joaquin. How close is going to mean the difference between a nice night and seeing Jake Rudock hit in the face with a soaked, flying cat. Monday's storm track was looking pretty ominous for the football game; Tuesday's is less so:
— Shawn L. Martin (@ShawnLMartin) September 29, 2015
The Monday track had the storm right off the coast of DC at 8 PM Saturday. Worth keeping an eye on still. A thunderous downpour would be advantage Maryland in the same way playing checkers instead of chess is advantage Borges:
Heavy rain may be a positive for Maryland, who averages an interception once every 10 pass attempts.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) September 29, 2015
So they've got that hypothetically going for them.
Whoops. When Vegas put out a Michigan –11.5 line for this game, I thought "that seems low." Maryland fans glumly asked if that was a first-quarter line. And sure enough, that line was pounded until it was pulled off the board and returned at M –14.5. Even now only a couple of books are offering a line at all, and the "consensus" is M –16.
A move that big suggests that Michigan and Maryland combine to break whatever models are used to set lines—possibly because the amount of deviation from preseason expectations for both overwhelmed them.
Mark Messner tribute. From Wolverine Historian:
Keep that anger inside where it can be used to hit people hard. The prospect of getting trash-talked by BYU is appealing. In my experience Mormons have the ability to turn an innocent word into the vilest thing you've ever heard with their intonation. When you don't swear the swears leak into the rest of your language; it's quite a trick. So when I wonder what might have made Jabrill Peppers mad on Saturday…
For whatever reason, Michigan's redshirt freshman defensive back found himself on the receiving end of an unusual amount of trash talk Saturday early on against BYU.
He did his best to ignore it, and almost engaged once. But, ultimately, his pads prevailed.
And by the time Peppers wrapped up and, literally, tossed 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver Terenn Houk out of bounds just before halftime, the talking had officially stopped.
"We play between the whistle, so I'll try to hurt you as much as I can between the whistle," Peppers said Monday. "Especially if you're jawing at me. ... (They were saying) things I can't repeat on camera.
"I just let my pads speak for me, that's how I react to that."
…I hope it's "I welcome this upcoming athletic contest" twisted into a pulsating black sphere of hate.
Also: Harbaugh banning trash talk is 1) amazingly hypocritical and 2) another anger factory. I don't want to hear about how this country "used to make things" when Jim Harbaugh is the world's #1 exporter of harsh feelings.
Side note. Who taunts Happy Fun Peppers? That seems just amazingly unwise.
It is your destiny. So my Hackett statue concept is that he's wearing the outfit he's got on in that shot of Harbaugh exiting the plane at Detroit Metro and he's got a microphone in one hand that he has just let go.
Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett agreed with Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly on Saturday, speaking on Michigan's pregame radio show, saying he'd like to see the Wolverines and Fighting Irish resume their rivalry.
In fact, he believes it's "destined" to happen.
"Nothing has happened in that regard from my desk," Hackett said. "But the way I think about the Notre Dame thing is, that's a rivalry that should be restored and it's destined to have that happen.
"The challenge is making the schedules work. Because of television, because of the Big Ten having 14 teams. We've got to find holes in the schedule."
I think that would be a good statue.
Surprise! Larry Brown got hit by the NCAA with a suspension and SMU was banned from the postseason this year.
SMU has been hit with a postseason ban for this season & Larry Brown suspended for 10 percent of this season’s games, source told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) September 29, 2015
It turns out that SMU academic support was doing coursework for the players. Sun round, full of hot bits. Michigan travels to SMU on December 8th.
Five are in a dark black. Eighty are in a slightly darker black. PREPARE THYSELVES
ANN ARBOR -- Maryland will be sporting its "Black Ops" alternate uniforms when it hosts No. 22 Michigan on Saturday, according to InsideMDSports' Ahmed Ghafir.
Maryland is 0-2 while dressing in tactical garments, having lost by a combined score of 78-29. The Maryland football team is on the verge of seriously pissing off America's most dangerous special forces troops.
Spartan injuries. No information forthcoming:
Dantonio says there have been no new season-ending injuries. Jack Conklin, Josiah Price, RJ Williamson all left last week's game #spartans
— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) September 29, 2015
Conklin is an OR on the most recent depth chart.
Hart profiled. Via the Daily:
“All I knew was, kind of, Michigan,” Hart said. “With Coach English, Lloyd — that’s the only way that we did things. And not bad things. But I needed to open my horizons.”
For Fleck, hiring Hart wasn’t a tough choice. Being Michigan’s all-time leading rusher bought him instant credibility with recruits, and Fleck had already been hearing rave reviews about Hart from prospects.
“(They said), ‘Mike Hart, I love Mike Hart.’ That’s what I continued to hear on the recruiting trail,” Fleck said.
Hurst profiled. Via Brendan Quinn:
But this isn't about who wasn't there and what hasn't been in Maurice Hurst Jr.'s life. This is about what's been there all along.
Nicole Page will board a flight tonight to watch her son play football.
"As long as I can see him a couple of times a month, I'm good," she says. "But it's still tough. I miss him all the time."
Uncharacteristically blunt. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has always come off as one of the smartest guys in college football's administrative class and his recent comments on the unionization drive the NRLB essentially punted on are going to prove prophetic, I bet:
“I’m glad the unionization process has cooled for right now,” Bowlsby said. “But the fact is — and it probably will be in the sport of men’s basketball — there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the TV cameras are there, the fans are in the stands and the team decides they’re not going to play. Mark my words. We will see that in the years ahead. We saw some of it for other reasons in the ’70s, but I really believe that we aren’t finished with the compensation issue or with the employee-vs.-student issue.”
The right combination of ornery dudes and it will happen. If the Fab Five happened today it would be them, for sure.
Bowlsby still comes from a point of view so blinkered that he's startled when a Big 12 athlete tells him that he feels like an employee, but at least he's able to accept that fact and start communicating why that is the case and what that means in the near future. So many NCAA administrators are busy trying to shore up a dike that's about to bust; Bowlsby is trying to whittle a canoe.
Etc.: Is that bad, Bret Bielema? Basketball depth is deep: how will they use it? This is not at all unreasonable. Harbaugh marriage advice is exactly what you'd expect. Texas fans have gone Falling Down on the reffing in the Oklahoma State game. Wheatley to Rose Bowl hall of fame. Top analytics articles. Mud Bowl on the rocks but apparently still a go.
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]