"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Friday, November 13, 2015
Michigan 7, Niagra 3
UM 1 NIA 0 EV 07:05 Connor (4) from Piazza (1) & Nieves (2)
Boo Nieves has the puck behind the net. He reverses course to avoid a defender, but still ends up getting hit. As he’s hit he tries to backhand a centering pass to the netfront skater, but the pass is deflected out to Sam Piazza.
Piazza’s initial shot is into a mass of bodies, but the puck takes a fortunate bounce and slides back to him.
Piazza’s defender is closing in, and he does a really nice job of reading the ice in a split second. He sees Kyle Connor open at the side of the net and a big passing lane through the crease.
Connor is a supremely talented player. (To that point: the pass was a little long, so Connor had to gather while gliding backwards, sapping a lot of what he could put on the shot). The near side of the net is supremely open. This is called goal-by-goal analysis. I think you know what happened.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the goals]
Chaos reigned. Michigan survived.
Indiana did as Indiana does, combining terrible defense with terrifying offense to push the Wolverines to the brink. Jordan Howard ran over, around, and through a shorthanded Michigan defense, gaining 238 yards on 35 carries. With the game in the balance and the ball at the two, however, Kevin Wilson called for a quick pass to Mitchell Paige; Delano Hill swatted the ball away to seal the win.
With Ryan Glasgow's absence disturbingly noticable, the offense and defense switched roles. Michigan couldn't rely on their front seven to slow Howard, while Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld played an efficient, turnover-free game; that was enough to produce 527 yards on 5.7 yards per play.
For the first time this season, however, Michigan could rely on their deep passing game. Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson were brilliant. Rudock set a school record with six passing touchdowns—the previous record was four—and surpassed the career high he set last week with 440 yards on 46 attempts. He also led the way on the ground with 64 yards on seven carries, picking up timely first downs by breaking free of the pocket. Chesson tied the program record by hauling in four of Rudock's touchdowns, including a leaping grab in traffic to knot the score with two seconds left in regulation, and he set personal bests with ten catches for 207 yards.
It appared Michigan might coast to a comfortable, if not particularly convincing, victory as the Hoosiers traded field goals for Wolverine touchdowns in the first half. Rudock hit Chesson over the top for a 34-yard score on a free play to open the scoring; Michigan would hold leads of 14-6 and 21-9 after Chesson's subsequent first-half TDs before Howard finally broke through for a seven-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half. Even then, Michigan responded, marching 71 yards to the Indiana four before settling for a Kenny Allen field goal as time expired.
Perhaps there was some comfort in a 24-16 lead, but any such feelings were gone almost as soon as the second half began; after knocking Michigan back 15 yards, Indiana closed to within a point on a 51-yard punt return touchdown by Paige, who strung his return out to the right before knifing through a tackle and finding the sideline. After Scott Sypniewski's snap hit the turf, causing a Kenny Allen field goal attempt to fall well short, IU closed the quarter with a Griffin Oakes field goal and an interception of Rudock on one of his few wayward throws.
The tables fully turned in the fourth quarter, when Michigan could muster only a field goal after a 15-play drive and the Hoosiers hit back with a 24-yard Howard TD and subsequent two-point conversion. With 2:52 left, Michigan had to drive 66 yards to avoid an upset that would all but eliminate them from division title contention.
Rudock didn't shy away from the moment, moving the offense down the field in a hurry with two completions to Jake Butt and a 41-yard bomb that Chesson came back for and caught at the two. After some harrowing moments as the Wolverines moved backwards, Chesson high-pointed Rudock's toss to bring Michigan within a point, and Blake O'Neill handled another sketchy snap just well enough for Allen to slip the tying extra point inside the left upright.
Howard continued his dominance in the first overtime, gaining 18 of Indiana's 25 yards and punching in the go-ahead touchdown. It took Michigan all of three plays to not only tie the game, but take the lead; first Rudock hit Butt on a post on the second play of M's first overtime possession, then found Amara Darboh uncovered on the first snap of the second overtime for an easy touchdown.
Three Howard runs quickly set IU up with a third-and-goal from the five, and it seemed certain they would bash ahead once or twice more and extend the game. Instead, Hill stopped Sudfeld short on a zone read keeper, and after Indiana showed pass prior to the next snap, Harbaugh called timeout to set up the final play. Paige motioned across the formation and Sudfeld hit him in rhythm, but Hill's blanket coverage won out.
Michigan survived the chaos and remains alive in the Big Ten race; they can control their own destiny if they beat Penn State and Ohio State takes cares of Michigan State next weekend. After an up-and-down first half of the year, the offense is hitting its stride, albeit with help from the generous Rutgers and Indiana defenses they've faced the last two weeks.
Glasgow's injury looms large, however. Jim Harbaugh announced after the game that the pectoral injury suffered last week will keep Michigan's D-line linchpin out for the season. Michigan faces a pair of top-notch running backs the next to close the regular season in Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, to say nothing of the other weapons on Ohio State's offense. The line, the unquestioned strength of the team until this week, now has to stiffen up if the Wolverines want a shot at that ever-elusive Big Ten title.
I don't know what Heiko is talking about either –ed
By Heiko Yang
Having Indiana on the schedule is a lot like having the Goosebumps books on your third-grade teacher’s bookshelf. They’re frequently entertaining and occasionally good for a cheap scare, but you’re pretty sure there’s nothing there that would cause any kind of lasting damage.
True to form, all season long Indiana has played out the recurring plot where they threaten to upset good teams late in the fourth quarter only to blow it by abruptly returning to ineptitude. It’s like that time Goku and Vegeta fuse to beat the evil dragon but then run out of time just as they’re about to deal the final kamehameha.
Against Michigan, though, I have a bad feeling. I guess I usually have a bad feeling about Michigan games, but I’ve been feeling pretty leery about this particular game for some time. I don’t know why Vegas has such a lopsided line favoring Michigan by almost two touchdowns. On the road this season Michigan hasn’t scored more than four touchdowns total. Meanwhile, Indiana has been averaging just a point shy of that in each their losses to Ohio State, Michigan State, and Iowa. My feelingsball take is I don’t expect Michigan to run away with this one unless something bizarre happens. Speaking of, I’m going to go ahead and say that neither their 29-7 loss to Penn State nor their 55-52 loss to Rutgers makes any sense to me, but then again I didn’t watch either of those games because I don’t hate myself.
But what about Michigan’s shut-down secondary vs Indiana’s pass offense? Or Harbaugh’s fancy manball offense vs their flimsy front?
These matchup advantages don’t seem to make much of a difference as often as we hope, especially against competent coaches, which I think Indiana has. Underdogs can benefit from known mismatches, too. Similar to the way the Indiana basketball team knew two years ago to put a point guard on Nik Stauskas, there are ways the Hoosiers football staff can game plan around Michigan’s strengths to force the Wolverines into making difficult compromises in their own game plan.
I’m also not giving Indiana enough credit here. They’ve got offensive playmakers Michigan certainly has to account for, and their spread attack is more sophisticated than anything the Wolverines D has seen all season. Additionally, their defensive weaknesses don’t seem quite on a Rutgers level of incompetence (although they did lose to Rutgers, because football is complicated).
Michigan will probably struggle out of the gate, and an empty possession on offense paired with a quick strike from Indiana would be doom for a team that relies on maintaining early momentum. The Wolverines will need a lot of luck to avoid falling into this kind of hole; I just don’t know if they’ll find that in Bloomington.
Michigan 27, Indiana 30
By Nick RoUMel
Heiko has tried mightily. Giddy from reading Goosebumps, he has nearly convinced himself that today’s contest will actually resemble a football game. I suspect there were fits of giggles as he wrote his column, solemnly analyzing the matchup as if there were something to worry about.
There is not. Not ever. Michigan is 54-9 lifetime against Indiana. They have not lost in 28 years, when they fell to an 8-4 Hoosier squad that also crushed #9 Ohio State and featured the durable and dangerous Anthony Thompson at tailback. Since then it has been all Michigan. I mean, even RichRod and B-Ho beat Indiana, although the 2009 game saw the Hoosiers score the most points they ever had against a Michigan team, 33. That record stood until 2010, when the stalwart RichRod defense gave up 35, a record that would be unbroken until the very next time Indiana played Michigan, in 2013, when B-Ho’s disciplined D held them to 47 points and a mere 572 yards of offense.
It is actually quite telling that other than the 1987 game - the only one Indiana has won in the last 48 years - their most memorable battle was the 1979 homecoming contest in Ann Arbor, when they were coached by Lee Corso who had the audacity to believe he could play toe to toe with the Wolverines. That he did, until the final play of the game, when Johnny Wangler hit Anthony Carter on a 45 yard touchdown pass that had Bob Ufer going ape-s*** crazy in the broadcast booth. The clip is de rigueur every time Michigan plays Indiana:
(Did you know that the horn Ufer beeped so happily was actually from General Patton’s World War II jeep? A fact I did not know until writing this column.)
Does anyone really think that these 2015, Harbaugh-led Wolverines are going to let Indiana even come close to sniffing victory, like a skanky perfume sample in the middle of a magazine is supposed to make you fantasize about a date with somebody like Vera Farmiga?
I think not. Outside of a few random Nate Sudfeld passes, Indiana will be lucky to sniff its own armpit. Their evening is going to be about as fulfilling as Tom Waits taking himself out on a date, as he describes so forlornly in “Better Off Without A Wife:”
Yes Wolverine fans, hit the easy button. This one’s in the bag.
MICHIGAN 56, INDIANA 10
Aubrey Dawkins: still bouncy
In the regular-season opener, Michigan made easy work of D-II Northern Michigan, taking a ten-point lead into halftime before blowing the game wide open in the second half. Since a traditional recap would still read "blowout" and not much else, I'll go with another list of observations.
While the competition remained easy, we learned a little more about the likely rotation in this one. Michigan started the same group as they did against Le Moyne: Derrick Walton, Caris LeVert, Aubrey Dawkins, Kam Chatman, and Mark Donnal. While Donnal got the start, however, he played fewer minutes (10) than Ricky Doyle (15), and DJ Wilson saw his first live action at the five.
To keep it simple, Donnal looked like Donnal, Doyle looked like Doyle, and Wilson looked viable in the middle—arguably more comfortable there than at the four, where he also saw extensive minutes. Wilson's athleticism made it easy for him to hedge on screens and get back on his man, he's got a rudimentary but functional post game, and he passed well from the top of the—he tallied three assists and only a foul on Dawkins at the hoop prevented a fourth.
If tonight was any indication, I think Wilson has a great shot at being the backup five before too long.
Moritz Wagner will not redshirt this year. He checked in with around six minutes to play. He looks to be behind Donnal, Doyle, and Wilson in the pecking order at center, but this is clearly a move being made with an eye on the end of the season. While Wagner looked lost at times out there and struggled with his post defense, his potential was apparent—his length contributed to a tip-in for his first career points and a late three-point attempt barely rimmed out. He probably won't play much early in the season, but I wouldn't be shocked if he developed into a contributor for the stretch run.
Aubrey Dawkins bounced back from an underwhelming game against Le Moyne with an impressive, efficient outing: 15 points on 6/7 shots, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and three dunks, including the insane tip-slam at the top of this post and this alley-oop finish from Walton:
Not only did Dawkins hit 2/3 triples and use his cutting ability to create easy points like he did as a freshman, he also showed off a new wrinkle, hitting a one-handed floater off the dribble at the free-throw line in the first half. He's still a work-in-progress on defense, especially when it comes to fighting through screens, but there's no questioning his ability on the other end.
Duncan Robinson, meanwhile, came back to earth, missing his only shot attempt—which Dawkins would finish with authority—and getting pulled in the second half for missing defensive assignments. He played both the three and the four and was active on the glass, but he'll need to get better with his rotations or he'll max out at the 15 minutes he got tonight.
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good! LeVert had the superior game tonight, posting a stat line of 18-4-5 on 7/12 shooting with two steals. The offense mostly ran through him when he was on the floor; he had three consecutive assists during one second-half stretch, and he seems to be looking for the dish a little more.
While Walton had a quiet game statistically—four points on four shots, one assist, one steal—he was the primary driver of Michigan's 14 transition points; when he's on the floor, the Wolverines are looking to run, and with their athleticism on the wings (and at center when Wilson is there) that's a good plan. Walton had some hockey assists that don't show up in the box score. I'd like to see him be more assertive in halfcourt sets but with LeVert taking on a big role as a passer/ballhandler that's a minor gripe.
- Chatman looked more comfortable out there. His six points on seven shots isn't great, but he had two layups off sharp backdoor cuts, pulled down four boards, and used his length to affect passing lanes against an undersized NMU squad.
- Spike is a little limited but that didn't stop him from jumping passing lanes—scoring a reverse layup off one steal—and passing out three dimes. He got to the hoop more than you'd expect, too, though that probably has a lot to do with the competition.
- Rahkman still has a place in the rotation. He played 14 minutes, knocked down a corner three, and had a nice lefty finish on a hard drive to the hoop. While his shot is still coming along (2/5 FG), he remains one of the best on the team at attacking the rim.
Previously: Hoops Preview Podcast, MGoRadio 1.6 (wsg John Gasaway), Point Guards (Walton, Spike), Wings Part I (LeVert, Dawkins, Irvin), Wings Part II (MAAR, Chatman, Robinson, Wagner), Bigs (Doyle, Donnal, Wilson), Hoopsageddon.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN PREVIEW
|WHAT||Michigan vs. Northern Michigan|
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Friday|
|LINE||No line (100% WP on KenPom)|
BTN Plus (online stream only, $)
BTN will replay it at 11:30 pm Sunday
Right: Willy the Wildcat could use some time at Camp Sanderson. (via)
Before getting to this season's story, there's a game tonight that should look quite a bit like last week's exhibition. Like Le Moyne, Northern Michigan is a D-II team, and not a particularly good one at that—the Wildcats went 9-19 last season and were picked dead last by some margin in the preseason GLIAC coaches poll.
The Wildcats boast a couple solid outside shooters in guards Jordan Perez and Marcus Hall, but the lineup shouldn't pose much of a threat to Michigan. NMU has one player on the roster taller than 6'7", and he's a 6'10", 200-pound freshman. KenPom gives Michigan a 100% win probability.
On the Wolverines side of things, Zak Irvin will sit out this game because of his back injury; John Beilein said yesterday that while he's healthy he's not back in game shape. Spike Albrecht is still limited from his offseason hip surgeries and will play only spot minutes. The main focus of Michigan fans will be how the rotation shapes up:
- Will Kam Chatman or DJ Wilson look like the superior option at the four?
- Is Mark Donnal really the starting center or is this just like last year?
- Will Moritz Wagner get time, therefore burning his redshirt? Or will Wilson see some time at the five?
- How will MAAR find his way onto the court with Duncan Robinson providing such a quality scoring option off the bench?
Those questions won't all be answered in full tonight, but we should have more of an idea of how this team will look.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE STORY, which is really a health update with a hopefully-not-awkward tie-in to this year's basketball team.]
We'll get to the important thing but first wow this UFR Visualization tool by grozzy is useful. For example here's how much of an outlier Desmond Morgan's game vs Minnesota was:
Small request: the numbers always get thrown off by how many plays are in a game. I wonder if the visualizer could adjust for that by making it points per charted play.
Okay the important thing:
Yes, MGoReaders, a plurality of you have correct taste in cereal. For the record, the entire MGoStaff voted for Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Not only did they perfectly pull off the miniaturization of Angelo's specialty, but they knew to add just the right amount of cinnamon to make the post-cereal milk-slurp experience the BEST.
Also apparently a minority of you are colorblind and can't tell who won from the above chart because everything looks like blue or green. And a minority of that minority blamed me instead of the OP for that. Hey it ain't my fault you (probably) lack red cones a thing our primate ancestors developed pretty late in the story to be able to spot berries. My grandpa had that; they put him in the lead plane in WWII because tank camouflage didn't work on him.
[Hit THE JUMP to learn what happens if Michigan wins out and you call Keith Jackson]
|WHAT||Michigan at Indiana|
|WHEN||3:30 PM Eastern
November 14th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –13|
|PARKING||Get yer OSU parking now|
|WEATHER||sunny, mid 50s
0% chance of rain
Professor Chaos via Patrick Barron.
Parking note sponsored by Park 'n' Party, which is your fancy same-place-all-the-time tailgate headquarters. They tell me they're now expanding into catering and equipment so they can accommodate all levels of commitment. They also say that if you wait you will not get parking and then you will
wander the earth doomed for all time have to explain this to your spouse. Seriously, they sold out for MSU and OSU is on the way.
Indiana hasn't won a whole lot of Big Ten games but they've given big chunks of the league heart attacks. They were within 30 yards of beating Ohio State, they stuck close to Michigan State for about 55 minutes, they were down 21-20 against Iowa deep into the second half.
They have also lost to Rutgers. Like this.
In addition they own a one-point win over Southern Illinois and a three-point win over Western Kentucky. #CHAOSTEAM is real. #CHAOSTEAM is here.
Run Offense vs Indiana
TJ Simmons is one man against the world
Indiana's defense isn't good at anything; it's worse at defending rushes than passes. In Big Ten games:
- OSU ran for 272 yards on 34 rushes, 8 YPC
- PSU ran for 154 yards on 32 rushes, 4.8 YPC
- Rutgers ran for 210 yards on 40 rushes, 5.3 YPC
- Iowa ran for 234 yards on 44 rushes, 5.3 YPC.
Only MSU, the #12 rushing offense in the league, was even vaguely slowed. Michigan is not in OSU's class but they're right about where Rutgers and Penn State are. S&P+ has Indiana 91st nationally; they have a bad situation where they get mauled off the ball on short yardage (104th nationally) and also give up a ton of big plays (95th).
Problems start with the big guys, who aren't big enough and tend to vacate lanes:
The defensive line is the source of a lot of Indiana's defensive woes. To make up for being a little undersized and mostly unable to beat blocks straight up, they slant often, and Iowa used this against them over and over:
That's the entire defensive line and both inside linebackers stuck on the wrong side of the field a mere moment after the handoff. Akrum Wadley—yet another opposing running back I now covet—had ten free yards, then got an extra bunch with a slick juke on a safety just outside the screen.
Darius Latham is an exception at a full 300 pounds; he has a swell recruiting pedigree but has had some issues staying on the field, missing the opener with a suspension and the OSU and PSU games with injury. He's been on the field for the last few games but has struggled to have much impact since guys can just run where he ain't.
Indiana's guys get very aggressive in an attempt to make up for problems like those above and could be susceptible to the trap plays Michigan has largely put in their back pocket since it was clear opposing teams were spending significant amounts of time prepping for them.
The linebackers are actually pretty good when TJ Simmons, who's the kind of knifing presence Michigan fans hoped James Ross would develop into, is present. He missed the second half of the Iowa game after a (correct) targeting call; he will be back for the full 60 against Michigan since his ejection happened at the tail end of the first half.
And then the safeties:
The safeties, as you'd expect from Indiana's number of big plays allowed, were awful. [Chase] Dutra is aggressive and takes terrible angles to the ball, which is not a good combination. Crawford is slightly more reliable from what I can tell but that may just be because Dutra plays more in the box.
The eye test agrees with the stats: Indiana gets blown off the ball a lot, has some linebackers valiantly trying to mitigate issues, and after them it's a crapshoot.
As far as Michigan's half of this goes, they've scuffled along for the most part. They should be able to beat up the Indiana front; too often this year they've had one or two guys (ballcarriers included) commit play-breaking errors. The overall results are okay—36th in S&P+—but a lack of big play ability, especially from the tailbacks, has held succesfull plays down. Michigan doesn't get stuffed much; they frequently thunk out three yards. It's a work in progress.
Michigan should have success but if they don't hit a big one—and they're not good at that—the numbers will be a bit underwhelming.
KEY MATCHUP: INDIANA LINEBACKERS versus SECOND LEVEL BLOCKS. If the LBs get handled Michigan is going to be sailing.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of Indiana, which is basically what you expect from Indiana every year now]
Hey basketball's on tonight. Like, real basketball that counts. Our draft also counts: whoever wins gets to be the MGoBlogger who feels smarter than the rest of us. Because Brian and Alex squabbled over point guards in the first round, Denzel Valentine slipped to Ace. Because we had a run on power forwards in the 3rd/4th rounds, Zak Irvin and James Blackmon fell to Ace.
Can he deliver the coup de grace, or does that require, you know, forwards? Also: who are the best/most overlooked basketball players Michigan will have to face in conference this year? Find out in the thrilling penultimate 'geddon of this year's basketball season.
As things stand:
Alex is on the clock.
ALEX: Round 5, Pick 2: Jarrod Uthoff, Wing, Iowa
TEAM: PG: Bronson Koenig (UW), SG: Caris LeVert (UM), SF: Jarrod Uthoff (IA), PF: Malcolm Hill (IL), C: Thomas Bryant (Ind)
A year ago, Iowa won 22 games, finished tied for third in the conference, and advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Aaron White, the underrated and versatile 3 /4 wing, has graduated; almost everyone else is back (save for Gabe Olaseni)—Adam Woodbury, Mike Gesell, and Anthony Clemmons.
The best of the group is senior wing Jarrod Uthoff. He's 6'9 (and with that size, posts a nice block rate of 6.2) and had a shooting split of 47% / 37% / 74% last season. He might not be able to transition to being the leading scorer because of a possible lack of 2nd scoring options on offense. Still, he'd be a good fit as part of my drafteggedon team -- Uthoff can space the floor and score enough to carry a team for prolonged stretches.
[Hit the JUMP if you dare. Or care]
: ( [Bryan Fuller]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam enjoyed the "shot yourself in the leg" tweet I sent to Plaxico Burress. I defend Burress a little because I have respect for anyone who cares enough to go on an unhinged twitter rant.
- Craig Ross told us all about the O'Neill crew and we listened but had no power to do anything about it.
- Rutgers! Not good at football.
- Indiana! Not good at defense.
THE USUAL LINKS
Don’t Sweat the Technique
#26 Jourdan Lewis, CB (Detroit, MI)
I needed an excuse to talk about Jourdan Lewis, the first genuine superstar of the Harbaugh era at Michigan. In the gloom after the Michigan State loss, it was evident that Lewis had blossomed into one of college football’s Elite players – he more than held his own against the high-powered tandem of Cook and Burbridge; he set the U-M record for pass breakups in a season after just eight games + one possession against Rutgers; PFF says he’s the best corner in the country.
I have two assumptions moving forward: a) Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan will have its share of memorable and / or dominant football players and b) I’ll probably want to write about those guys. So I’ll create a hypothetical “Known Friends and Trusted Agents” canon with my own arbitrary criteria – the HARBAUGH HALL OF HEROISM. Yes, this does seem like more of an offseason exercise for #content that looks at things after they’ve already happened, but we can all agree that Jourdan Lewis is extremely good and will eventually be remembered fondly for his exploits in a winged helmet.
Anyways, without further ado: Lewis is the first to be enshrined into the HHH.
* * *
1. Regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, it’s clear that the 2015 Michigan defense will have been one of the country’s best: currently, S&P and PFF (in the post linked above) rate it as the best in college football; FEI rates it fifth. Through nine games, the Wolverines have allowed opponents to score 107 points (11.9 ppg, the fewest in college football) – remove the kick return touchdown from Rutgers and the Bounce of Satan against Michigan State (as plays that should count against the special teams unit) and the defense itself has conceded just 93 (10.3 ppg). The 2006 Michigan defense was dominant through most of the season and – even though they got lit up by OSU and USC to end their season, U-M still had one of the top-tier defenses that year. Even though we still have four (or, God willing, five) games left on the schedule, Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison’s grimy goons up front and the No Fly Zone secondary that migrated east on 96 and south on 23 are anchoring an Elite defense. Somewhere, somebody smart will promote D.J. Durkin to his first head coaching job and it will be richly deserved.
[After the jump: Cass Tech, the OMG Pick-6 vs. NU, Burbridge vs. Lewis]