"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
If you’re like most people, watching movies-- especially movies in the same genre-- has a sort of comfort to it, an ease of accessibility that comes from well-tread narratives that we’re familiar with. That isn’t a mistake. There’s a good piece from The Atlantic that details the great lengths studios go to in order to produce thoroughly average and increasingly similar movies. They’re happy releasing something that won’t be remembered long after it’s released but is good enough to bring an audience in and make the money needed for the studio to see some return on its investment, and they’re finding that the key to bringing audiences in is giving them something they’ve basically already watched.
As Derek Thompson wrote in the aforementioned piece:
They are the product of Hollywood's exquisitely designed factory of average-ness, which has evolved as the industry has transitioned from a monopoly to a competitive industry that can no longer afford to consistently value art over commerce.
Hollywood keeps making the same movie over and over because we don’t really want things that are all that different. We get used to something and there’s a standard that’s set, and that becomes what we expect to see. If you’ve watched Michigan this season, you’re getting familiar with this feeling. The stats for the UNLV game are strikingly similar to those of the Oregon State game. If the UNLV game didn’t feel as interesting as the Oregon State game it’s because in most ways we’ve seen it before. Michigan deviates from Hollywood in the quality of its output, but right now they’ve both flipped the switch on the assembly line and are letting the same thing roll off over and over.
Michigan again faced an outmatched opponent in week three and did about what you’d expect to them. The second half didn’t have the same feeling of total dominance the Oregon State game had mostly on account of not wholly and completely dominating, but the stats are still kind to Michigan’s performance. Getting the whole wet blanket thing out of the way early, keep in mind that though Michigan’s defense looked great they’ve done their best work against offenses ranked 114th (Oregon State) and 121st (UNLV) in S&P+. But hey, Utah’s offense is ranked 66th and the defense did alright against them. That sounded more comforting in my head.
The advanced box score for Michigan v. UNLV is lopsided from the most basic stats on down. Michigan scored 21 more points than UNLV despite having one less drive (13 to 12), though Michigan did run one more play (64 to 63). Michigan outgained UNLV in yards per play (5.67 to 3.89) and had six scoring opportunities to their two, though Michigan’s points per opportunity was a meh 4.67. Then again, UNLV’s was just 3.50 and they only had two scoring opportunities, so that’s basically a recipe for disaster. As if things weren’t bad enough, Michigan’s average starting field position was the 37.1 while UNLV’s was the 22.8. Success rate was similarly ugly for UNLV, with Michigan holding things together at 53% compared to UNLV’s 32%. Michigan even had a positive turnover margin(!). (It was just +1, but this is Michigan and any movement toward the mean is appreciated.)
[After THE JUMP: Mathlete’s four factors and a whole lot of S&P+ stuff]
[ed-Seth: Sources close to Jim Harbaugh are now saying with 99.999999% certainty that whether he leaves Michigan to coach the Colts this offseason will not come down to who has the better barbecue. Again, we're not screwing around this.
So we're bringing out the big guns, and in the case of BBQ that is Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ. Stubb's has again offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where we really liked their BBQ sauce, and they like this blog, and the blog likes Joe's recipes, and we all like to laugh at NFL people who think their stale, over-manufactured, flavorless product is more attractive than Michigan.]
[Also please know that Joe sent me the photo below with 1 hour left to go in yesterday's fasting holiday. Thanks Joe.]
I love this recipe. If I had to choose only one hunk of meat to grill each season, this would be it. Every Saturday...Every Tailgate...Every opportunity to fire up the grill would include this part of the cow. The Flanken Ribs or TABLITAS as they are known in Texas would be my "GO TO". Flanken Style ribs are nothing more than cross cut beef short ribs. They are the fastest and tastiest cut of beef you will ever serve to your Maize and Blue guests. Not only are they super tender, they have huge flavor and can be cooked during halftime. Trust me, head to your local butcher shop and pick up a few pounds of these Flanken style Short Ribs.
Flanken Style Ribs - aka "TABLITAS"
Stubbs BBQ Rub
[After the jump: no more excuses; you are going to make these]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
#22 BYU (2-1)
Last week: Lost at #10 UCLA, 24-23
Recap: BYU had the ball down one point with under three minutes left. They had a 4th down with about a minute left. This was their time. They had UCLA right where they wanted them. And then for some inexplicable reason, Tanner Mangum tried to throw a 20-ish yard pass instead of unleashing his inner Mormon Rex Grossman. This inexcusable lack of recklessness led to the ball being picked off, and BYU lost their first game of the season.
BYU actually controlled most of the game; they had a ten point lead in the fourth quarter, and UCLA’s only second half in which they had a chance to take a lead was their last possession, which resulted in an 80 yard touchdown drive. BYU held freshman quarterback Josh Rosen in check for most of the game, by which I mean they stood there while Rosen exploded in a thousand directions. The kid finished with 106 yards on 11-for-23 passing (4.6 YPA) and three brutal picks. Given the way both Boise State and Nebraska moved the ball through the air, I’m tempted to think that UCLA’s failure was mostly of the Freshmen Gon’ Freshmen variety.
Mangum finished with 244 yards passing, but for only 5.2 yards per attempt, his worst average of the year by more than half. He has also showed very little of the mobility he hinted at against Nebraska; in the last two games, he’s rushed for -57 yards on 18 attempts, and is only averaging 1.1 yards per carry excluding sacks.
This team is as frightening as: Still, the thing with the Samoan guy punching you in the dangly bits. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: BYU held the ball more than twice as long as UCLA (40:37 to 19:23), and ran 44% more plays (88 to 61). These statistics are the mark of a true Capital-F Capital-T Football Team.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: UCLA racked up 296 rushing yards. Michigan likes to run the ball. They call that “synergy.”
When they play Michigan: PLEASE STAY WITH THE TALL MEN DOWN THE FIELD THANK YOU.
This week: @ Michigan, noon, ABC
Maryland (2-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last week: Beat South Florida, 35-17
Recap: Caleb Rowe replaced Perry Hills as Maryland’s starting QB, and was… better? Maybe? I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a quarterback. Hills has been pretty mediocre overall this year, and Rowe provided a bit of a spark by throwing for 297 yards at 8.7 YPA with four touchdown. And three interceptions. And three fumbles (all of which Maryland recovered). So I guess he provided a spark for both teams. Still, a win is a win, even if it is a win over a bad team.
This team is as frightening as: Small spiders. At first glance, you think "AAAHHH THAT LOOKS LIKE A THING" but then you look closer for two seconds and you're like, "nah."
Michigan should worry about: Punting Will Likely etc.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Maryland is still pretty bad.
When they play Michigan: No punt Will Likely very bad.
This week: @ West Virginia, 3:00 p.m., FS1
[AFTER THE JUMP: Additional opponents of note]
Evaluate your group after three games.
“Evaluate my group after three games? Getting better, growing, competing, so right there is my three words I would use. Always room for growth, room to get better. Still just trying to solidify the little mistakes, clean the little things up. Just getting better.”
Is it the week of practice that determines who’s getting the carries or the flow of the game or what is it?
“It’s a little bit of both. Week of practice, flow of the game- you never want to go in with concrete [ideas]. Just the week of practice is the overall deciding factor and then the flow of the game. The flow of the game, as the game is going, you kind of make adjustments. You’ve got to be able to make adjustments. Gotta make adjustments.”
Is that what happened on Saturday? I mean, De’Veon was having some trouble and so you said-
“No, De’Veon wasn’t having trouble. It was just the type of defense that they were playing, what they were doing, called for a little different runner.”
“Yeah, style-wise. De’Veon wasn’t having much trouble at all. He was getting the tough yards. You know, he was banging it in there, running tough, running hard, yards after contact- that man gets a lot of yards after contact. He’s doing a great job in that regard. Just needed someone that could slip and slide a little bit and that was it. Just a different style.”
When you talk about cleaning the little things up, what are some of those little things?
“Wouldn’t you like to know.”
/smiles (I think)
[After THE JUMP: Things went well]
"Young" would not be a word I'd use to describe this team. Many of them went on a two-year mission before starting the clock on their eligibility. Most of the starters are redshirt juniors and seniors. A lot of these guys are Andrew Luck's age. I want to like them, since weirdness is endearing and taking on a tough schedule as an independent is kinda cool, and their fans are pretty good at gallows humor.
But they're also getting quite the reputation for some not-Mormon things.
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-30" or "35-31 Michigan", or "28-24 Go Blue", or "38-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we push it to next week or let it go.
About Last Time:
Was 28-7 too close for your tastes? Gabranto nailed the score perfectly. MGoNukeE again came in with the assist. Gracias!
This Week's Game:
More Brigham than Young if you know what I mean.
And on the Line:
If you haven't been on the MGoStore lately you should go see the Harbaughffseason line. We got a submarine shirt, and a Dad Bod shirt, and a Satellite Camps shirt to troll southerners with, and my personal favorite: the 2015 softball pizza shirt. It was a fun offseason.
One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm finds the winners as it chooses. The algorithm is self-correcting. The algorithm consistently runs power. The algorithm is banned in Jersey. The algorithm has a weird thing going on with Utah these days.
Yes, they did it again. Before last week's loss to UCLA, which wasn't readily available in torrent form, BYU tallied their second straight last-gasp comeback win, knocking off Boise State a week after connecting on a Hail Mary against Nebraska.
While BYU's 381 yards on 5.6 YPP was a respectable figure against a solid team, the way they got there is notable: a few huge plays, no small amount of luck, and little else. Here are all of their drives against Boise:
- 3 plays, 75 yards, 84-yard TD pass
- 4 plays, 11 yards, interception
- 3 plays, 7 yards, punt
- 6 plays, 19 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 5 yards, punt
- 6 plays, 17 yards, interception
- 5 plays, 2 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 8 yards, punt
- 3 plays, 9 yards, punt
- 6 plays, 84 yards, 21-yard rush TD set up by a 70-yard pass on 3rd-and-19
- 8 plays, 32 yards, punt
- 5 plays, 12 yards, QB sneak TD set up by BYU interception and two BSU penalties
- 6 plays, 13 yards, punt
- 7 plays, 64 yards, 35-yard TD pass on fourth down
Three of their four scoring drives involved a huge pass play over the top; the other was a 12-yard drive set up by an interception, and Boise State was in great position to hold BYU to a field goal before taking a personal foul penalty for continuing to play without a helmet.
While Tanner Mangum has filled in admirably—and sometimes spectacularly—at quarterback, this team really misses Taysom Hill, especially in their run game.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
We debated shifting Wormley out to SDE and inserting Matt Godin at three-tech after Willie Henry was pulled for big stretches of the UNLV game, but M's defense stays unchanged for now. With the amount BYU throws the ball around—and how much trouble Henry had on the backside of zone runs—it wouldn't be surprising to see Godin, a good interior pass-rusher, get a lot of snaps.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-to-pass. With Hill out, BYU was throw-first, and only some of that can be attributed to them playing from behind for most of the game.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A mixture of both but BYU leaned towards zone blocking in this one.
Hurry it up or grind it out? BYU runs a no-huddle but doesn't go to light speed; having a freshman quarterback likely slows them down a bit.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
I've been informed to emphasize the rates and accessibility of your loan guy and not so much the pants. I do feel that the pants are an excellent metaphor for those aspects of going with Homesure Lending. But I do as I am told. Also, Matt tells his kids to go to bed at 6 PM so you know he's not to be messed around with.
FORMATION NOTES: This is the "diamond" formation referenced below:
Michigan showed this more than they ran it, often motioning a TE to the side the FB was on.
Meanwhile your weird thing of the week was Tom Strobel, OL:
He is outside of "right tackle" Patrick Kugler with Cole lined up outside of him. This was a failed fourth down conversion that in retrospect probably would have been a touchdown if Smith hadn't fallen over untouched.
As for UNLV was pretty typical:
They spent the day with between 8 and 10 men in the box. Plays on which a safety was at least 10 yards deep were conservative ones.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Starting line was as expected. From left to right he second team line was Bushell-Beatty, Dawson, Kugler, walk-on Ben Pliska, and Bars. Kugler got a couple of snaps with the first team when Michigan went to a goofy seven-man line in the third Q. Tom Strobel, wearing 50, also got in on those plays.
The rest of the rotation was pretty much as before. Smith was the lead back backed up by Isaac and Johnson in that order; Green did not get in until the final drive. It was mostly Kerridge at FB until he got hurt; not much AJ Williams at TE, almost all Butt and Poggi.
Moe Ways got more playing time at WR, but there were not a ton of WR snaps to go around.
[After THE JUMP: selling out on the interior]
Just kind of talk about how your guys are coming along a little bit through three games.
“Yeah, the guys are working hard. You know, we just keep pressing them every week in practice, keep telling them to challenge themselves every day and hopefully it translates on the weekends. They’re working hard.”
Jourdan was saying on Monday that he thinks the secondary could be the best in the country. Is that sort of an attitude that you promote?
“Well, that’s what we want them to think and, you know, certainly the work and what they produce has to match that. But we absolutely want that attitude from those guys. It helps. Certainly their position requires that kind of attitude. They’ve got to have a short memory at that position and put things to the side and go play the next play. So, it’s all about attitude, it’s all about challenging yourself every day and just trying to get better and better and win every play.”
Talk a little about the challenge they’re going to get this weekend.
“A big, big challenge. I mean, those guys [are] 6’6”, 6’5”, 6’3”. Really big receivers, good athletes, decent speed; I mean, they’ve got it all, and they roll in those guys. They’ve got four or five really good receivers that they’re rolling in every down, so they’re going to be fresh. We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us.
“Just physically, when you line Jourdan Lewis up against a 6’6” guy, as scrappy as Jourdan is, that’s a tough matchup. But that’s how we’re going to play it. They’ve got to fight.”
When a guy makes a couple big plays like Channing did last week, what does that do for his confidence and how he’s able to play?
“You know, hopefully. When you do things right you get confidence, and he’s been doing things right. Throughout camp, Channing has probably had the best camp out of all the guys. He’s just worked hard. He had one bad day, had one bad scrimmage in the summer there. Other than that he’s been playing really hard and really well. I think he realizes, and I’m hoping that all of them realize, that you don’t arrive. You always have to get better, because somebody’s chasing you.”
[After THE JUMP: Covering big receivers, the importance of eyes, and seam responsibility in Cover 3]
Now that we have all read it, what for you was the most jaw-dropping moment of Brandon's Lasting Lessons?
We're going to spoiler this. If you haven't read it yet you should go do that.
Brian: There are many jaw-dropping things. The whole book is cause to walk around Ann Arbor drooling, from Lochdogg's inability to parse data to Brandon cutting down the nets to all of the infinite firings. But I was most stunned by this:
Also the ellipsis.
That's the welcome plaque outside Brandon's house. It is quite something, and then you get to "the Brandon's." WHO DOESN'T CHECK A PLAQUE THAT IS GOING ON THEIR HOUSE CALLED "HAPPILY EVER AFTER"?! Even leaving aside the crazy rich person vibe the whole thing gives off, this is one metal object that Brandon clearly intends for generations to come and marvel at, and it isn't even proofread. Says somethin' about somethin', that.
Seth: It has to be "Firing Fridays," and the massive turnover inside the athletic department. Throw a football down Granger and chances are it will be caught by someone sitting on the porch of a modest home with an "M" flag. That person probably had many opportunities through the years to take a job somewhere else that would afford a far larger and newer home, probably with a big yard and PVC pipes. So many of these people were pushed out, scared off, or straight-up let go that I even know a few of them.
In some cases, e.g. football coach, directing a money cannon at a proven professional is warranted. But Brandon took this to an extreme, bringing in two six-figure outsiders to replace every longtime $45k family member, then firing the family on the flimsiest of pretenses—often just voicing disagreement with Brandon—at such a rate that "Firing Fridays" was a thing. In a few short years those remnants from the Canham-Schembechler-Martin department were surrounded by a certain archetype of in-it-for-the-money young professional who knows nobody in town, owes everything to Dave Brandon, and knows little about college athletics except not to disagree with the boss.
Reading the quotes from former marketing and event presentation director Ryan Duey was the point when I got so angry at Brandon that even after getting up and stomping around the house for 20 minutes I had to get up and stomp around again like one sentence later. My page 297 is smudged and stained and has water wrinkles because it took me a day and multiple rooms to get through without throwing a tantrum in front of the kid.
The damage from that is irreparable. The people Brandon brought in are hardly worthless—they earned that payday by being excellent at what they do—but it will take 30 or 50 years for the kind of community and institutional knowledge Michigan used to have to grow back. Even talking about it now—three times in writing this response I've had to put down the keyboard and take a stomping tour around the living room. In fact here comes the fourth.
[After the jump: you may want to make sure there's nothing throwable in reach]
I've coped with the "no cheering in the press box" rule by laughing at the absurd. This happened often when Denard Robinson played quarterback; since then, not so much.
I laughed maniacally at this.
[Hit THE JUMP for thunderous hits, great cornerback play, a long touchdown run(!), and Yip Yips.]