fair point that
1 hour 8 minutes
use the force, Jabrill [Patrick Barron]
Rudock was really on. Rutgers is not so great. Run concerns, Peppers chatter. We may mention the Nebraska-MSU game.
Thomas as Mouton; DL depth getting stretched; Peppers; Peppers; Jourdan Lewis
SPECIAL TEAMS AND GAME THEORY
MSU/Nebraska talk: did Riley's not-very-good clock management actually help out the 'Huskers by inducing MSU to run the ball on third and long with about two minutes left?
Meanwhile, special teams: Michigan got hit a couple times but also hit back.
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
MSU/Nebraska, targeting, what happened to Penn State, Indiana as #CHAOSTEAM.
"Across 110th Street"
"Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?," Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
"Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy," Jack White
"La Bailadora," Super Uba
THE USUAL LINKS
11/7/2015 – Michigan 49, Rutgers 16 – 7-2, 4-1 Big Ten
This was never much of a game; it was never expected to be much of one. The line rose to a whopping 24 points before kickoff. Michigan hit that number early in the third quarter. For big chunks of the first half Rutgers had 55 yards of offense from one run on which Joe Bolden was held rather blatantly and literally nothing else. This was a walkover.
So there's not much emotional impact to be drawn from this one. Other than the sudden appearance of Good Iowa Rudock pretty much everything went as expected. Back in the day I'm pretty sure I shrugged at these games, wrote a couple paragraphs about how this wasn't really a thing, and moved on to gleaning what could be gleaned from an uncompetitive game. More recently that kind of column has been reserved for dismal contests in which a moribund Michigan team gacked it up against, oh, say, Rutgers.
There will come a day in the next couple years when Michigan takes on the dregs of its division and drops the hammer and I say that there's no point in a column. This is not that day. Because last year Gary Nova threw for 400 yards against this defense. Because last year Michigan did the classy thing and apologized for putting a piece of metal in Michigan State's field. We are not yet far enough removed from that to simply shrug.
So at halftime, Rutgers did something dumb. They poked the bear.
"They were just saying things like, 'Oh, it's our time this second half,' 'We the comeback kids,' 'These guys can't really finish games,'" safety Jabrill Peppers said, kind of rolling his eyes at the last remark.
"That's pretty much all I heard."
I'm impressed they hadn't checked out entirely, but it does not do to poke the bear.
"They were excited. They were down, what, 19, and Coach didn't like that they were celebrating," Lewis said. "(He said), 'Put the foot on the gas, finish these guys off.'"
Those were his exact words?
"I don't want to use those words out here," Lewis said, with a laugh.
Many, many opposing fans are going to complain about Harbaugh the jerk, Harbaugh the sociopath, Harbaugh the serial killer who kept stabbing our face long after we were dead. I perused a good number of these comments after this game… for some reason. Wilton Speight played most of the fourth quarter and Michigan put up just 14 points in the second half.
Even so the Rutgers beatwriters are really stretching to make something out of Harbaugh's two-point conversion:
Is there a beef between Rutgers coach Kyle Flood and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh?
Evidence cited: a two point conversion with 26 minutes left in the game and a couple of coachspeak comments from Flood that could be spun into a veiled shot if, say, you were desperate for anything to talk about after a 49-16 loss. Steve Politi, the guy who wrote that column about Harbaugh being a phony compared to the real Kyle Flood, is trying to stoke the flames by citing the sneaky Jake Butt play—which happened in the first half!—Jake Rudock throwing in the third quarter, and Jabrill Peppers fair-catching punts.
I guess when you cover Rutgers you're on the cutting edge of "not in the face!" research. But it's clear Harbaugh is taking heat here solely because of his reputation.
I am fine with this. At Stanford he told his players to "win with character, win with cruelty." This is what I want a football program to do.
I want it to be angry up 35-16 at halftime. I want it to step on available throats within the rules of the game (except for certain substitution rules). I don't care if someone's feelings are hurt by a justified two-point conversion, or an unjustified one. I endorse all fourth-quarter passes against teams five scores down. I look forward to a point in the future when an apology will not be forthcoming.
this is both #1 and #2 [Fuller]
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jake Rudock had 13.5 yards an attempt despite two drops from his receivers. Even against an atrocious pass defense, that'll do. Rudock also escaped the pocket and tiptoed the sideline for a touchdown and scrambled for the two point conversion.
#2 Jake Butt had 104 of those receiving yards on four catches. Rudock is now hitting the high window where Butt can show off his height and leaping ability. I have him with zero drops on the year. Butt has 418 receiving yards on the year, almost 150 clear of his nearest competitor… that Minnesota TE who was delivered a couple gifts last week.
#3 Chris Wormley re-asserted himself after a few relatively quiet weeks with two sacks, one on a stunt Rutgers didn't pick up, the other just a straight up pass rush around the corner. Wormley also helped Michigan's rush defense to another dominant day.
Honorable mention: Jourdan Lewis set the single season Michigan PBU record. Jarrod Wilson wasn't hit in coverage and had a pretty spectacular interception. Mason Cole was probably pretty good.
9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
6: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers)
5: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota), Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers)
3: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland),
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU).
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Jabrill Peppers does his Denard-vs-WMU impression.
That acceleration after he dodges the tackle is ridiculous.
Honorable mention: any number of pinpoint midrange Rudock passes but we'll go with the 50-yard catch and run to Butt; Jarrod Wilson's un-boring interception; Smith rips off a big run late on a textbook power play; Harbaugh goes for two for Reasons.
Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.
Rutgers: Peppers as Denard.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
A weirdly short kickoff from Kenny Allen is returned for a touchdown.
Honorable mention: Targeting overturned; Rutgers rips off a 55-yard run thanks in large part a pretty obvious hold on Joe Bolden; Michigan struggles to run yet again.
Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
Rutgers: KO return given up.
[After THE JUMP: no ghosts this week, tiniest band ever, screens, defense hole-seeking]
We had an official MGoPumpking carving contest, with the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown offering a $200 award towards a stay there. I picked the winners last week but forgot to post the announcement. The victor is Noah Neidlinger, aka Candor for Sale, and not just because his perfect Harbaugh picked up some accidental devil horns.
Hit THE JUMP for the runners up.
Photo: Isaiah Hole/247
Michigan has filled one of their most significant remaining needs in the 2016 class after four-star Boulder (CO) Fairview DE Carlo Kemp chose the Wolverines over Notre Dame this afternoon. Kemp projects to the WDE/BUCK spot currently occupied by Royce Jenkins-Stone, a position in great need of reninforcement.
Kemp is the 21st commit in the class and the third along the defensive line, joining SDE Ron Johnson and DT Rashad Weaver.
|4*, #37 DE||
4*, #9 WDE,
|4*, 80, #42 DE||3*, 87, #30 SDE||
4*, #14 SDE,
Kemp is mostly hanging around the lower end of the top x lists, falling inside the Rivals250, barely missing the Scout300 (the #36 DE is #292 overall), and coming within six spots in the position rankings of making the ESPN300; 247 stands as the outlier.
All four sites are in close agreement on Kemp's size, listing him at 6'3" (or, in Scout's case, 6'2.5") and 250-262 pounds, mostly falling on the higher end of that range. He's right around the size that DJ Durkin prefers for that BUCK spot; Dante Fowler is 6'3" and around 265 pounds, for comparison.
Kemp is a bit of an odd case scouting-wise. He's got very strong family ties to the game of football:
There are few prospects in the country that have been around the game of football like Kemp. He lives with his grandfather, Sam Pagano, who is one of the best high school coaches in Colorado football history. Then, there are his two uncles, Chuck and John Pagano, two of the most respected coaches in the NFL.
"I'm blessed with such a supportive family," Kemp shared. "I live with my grandpa, who is my greatest fan and also my best critic. He is always pushing me to be better and offering me great coaching advice. Uncle Chuck and John are always a text or phone call away and have been great mentors to me. That's my motivation right there. I want to play for one of my uncles in the NFL. I know to get there, I can never stop working to get better."
One might think a prospect like that would hit a ton of camps, but Kemp hasn't done so, and as a prospect in a state not known for producing a lot of football talent there's not a whole lot of scouting on him. His Scout and ESPN profiles both lack the usual evaluation, unusual for a player with his rankings.
The only camp writeup I could find on Kemp comes from back in the summer of 2013, when the sophomore-to-be stood out at an NFL 7-on-7 camp in Cleveland that featured the likes of Leonard Fournette (playing safety, terrifyingly) and Brian Cole; Scout's Bill Greene listed Kemp among the top performers ($):
A 2016 prospect to watch, Kemp started as a freshman last season. He moved exceptionally well for a sophomore-to-be, and has great size at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds. The nephew of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and a player that has a chance to be a star in the future. Impressive size/speed combination. Listed Notre Dame and Ohio State as favorite schools at this time.
This spring, Scout bumped Kemp into their top 300—he's still at the same spot in their position rankings but was passed by some non-DEs—because of his versatility:
Kemp is a versatile player who moves all over the defense. He put his hand down as a rush end, stand up as an outside 'backer and even plays some middle 'backer as well. We think with his frame, he'll end up as a full time defensive end and could even grow in to a tackle but he'll be a very good college player no matter where he lines up.
That shows up in Kemp's junior film, in which he moves all over the defensive front. Irish247's Evan Sharpley did an in-depth breakdown of that film after Notre Dame offered Kemp and found a lot to like ($):
Kemp flashes brilliant athleticism, the versatility to play multiple positions, and potential to be developed into an elite collegiate player. Kemp shows ample speed as an edge rushers, the physicality to play inside, and coverage skills to matchup with hybrid tight ends. Kemp has the body type that will allow him to trend toward a number of different positions based on need and/or development. Exciting talent that seems to have the snack for creating turnovers and batting down balls. Kemp is a smart pass rusher. Impeccable ability to read the quarterback’s eyes will moving upfield. WIll become more dangerous as he becomes more consistent in creating space with his hands versus edge and interior linemen. Has shown fantastic growth from sophomore to junior year, mainly in terms of technique, motor, and physical play.
That's the strengths section; the areas for improvement boiled down to him finding a position so he can develop physically for a specific spot on the field.
Finally, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught Kemp in August in a practice setting and also saw him as more than just a pass-rusher ($):
He has the big, thick build of a prospect who will grow into a true defensive lineman, and while he's adjusting to life away from the line of scrimmage, he has the athleticism to cover players in space, too. He'll be a pass-rush specialist in college, even if he's playing from a two-point stance, but he's more versatile than previously known - without losing the mentality to plant opposing skill players into the turf.
If it looks like a BUCK and sounds like a BUCK...
Kemp boasts offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, UCLA, Washington, and Wisconsin, a very solid list for a prospect from his region, albeit one lacking too many elite programs.
Fairview has only produced one Power 5 commit in the Rivals era (2002-), though it's one you're likely familar with: former Nebraska wideout Kenny Bell.
Impressive junior stats via Scout ($):
Over the past two years, Fairview is 23-2 and Kemp has been the driving force. This past season, Kemp had 66 tackles, 20 TFLs, 8 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles, despite a constant double team and occasional triple. He also chipped in 11 rushing touchdowns, proving to be a viable goal line back. Kemp has forced 13 turnovers and blocked 5 field goals in his last 20 games.
I'm sure John Baxter has taken note of that last bit.
FAKE 40 TIME
Kemp's Scout profile lists an estimated 40 time of 4.80, which gets four FAKEs out of five.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
You've probably gathered that I think Kemp will end up at the BUCK, where there's quite a bit of uncertainty with Mario Ojemudia and Royce Jenkins-Stone out of eligibility after this season. Lawrence Marshall is the only other BUCK on the roster who's seen playing time, and after he was expected to take on a big role this year, he's barely seen the field. Unless another lineman—probably Taco Charlton—moves the position next year, Kemp should compete for immediate time with Marshall and freshman Reuben Jones. Kemp has the size to see the field right away and there's a good chance he'll do just that.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The class as it currently stands:
Kemp fills a huge hole in the class, and Michigan is in on several big-time prospects to finish it out—the part that's most difficult to project isn't the size of the class, which should get to or near 28, but which current commits will stick and which will flip commitments or come in as grayshirts.
That's enough for a whole post, so for now I'll note that main positions the coaches are recruiting are defensive tackle (Rashan Gary, Chris Daniels, Jordan Elliott), tight end (Isaac Nauta, Jacob Mathis), receiver (Dylan Crawford, Pie Young, Donnie Corley), inside linebacker (Devin Bush, Dontavious Jackson) and defensive back (Lavert Hill, David Long, Chris Brown).
Talk about Jake Rudock’s day throwing and decision making and making some plays with his feet.
“Well, he was just on fire. He had a great game, making all the appropriate throws, all the right reads. Accurate and appropriate all day long. Kind of windy, blustery day, too. Played great.
“Played great with his feet. I mean, I don’t know how he got in there for that second touchdown. That was- looked like play that would be sacked in the backfield, and even when he got on the perimeter- I had a great look at it and didn’t think there was any way but he…just a heck of an individual effort. The rest of the time- you know, he’s really getting a good chemistry with Jake Butt, with Jehu Chesson, with Amara Darboh.
“The screen game was extremely effective today. Thought Jedd Fisch, Tim Drevno- just really good, creative game planning today on their part. Lot of good things to talk about.
“I also want to congratulate Jourdan Lewis. Heard he broke a record today for most pass breakups in a season and he had some big plays as well. Did a nice job on the kickoff return when he got in there in that area. So, other good things to talk about.”
What was your thoughts on the intent to deceive play? What did you see from it? What was the explanation you got from the ref?
“I’m pretty offended by that, you know, that that was called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. There was really- everything…everything was…everything was to not deceive. There was- Jake Butt was in on the previous play. He did not go off with the substitutes that were leaving the field. They were practically off the field when he left the huddle. Was not even near our bench area; was down at the 15, 16, 17 yard line.
“We just train our quarterbacks to throw to people that aren’t covered, and- even if it’s a running play. I was watching an NFL game where they didn’t cover a receiver and the quarterback handed it off and got maligned by scribes and pundits and so-called experts for not throwing it to him, but it really is…I don’t know.
“May gameplan next week to if somebody substitutes and the receiver lines up wide, just don’t cover him. Why cover him? Put an extra person in the box to stop the run, and if they happen to throw it to the uncovered receiver it’s a 15-yard penalty. You could make that argument. It’s bewildering.”
How critical was the screen-pass game early in the contest? It seemed like you used that consistently to maybe soften the defense up a little bit.
“It was big. Big chunks of yardage. Got a screen in a long-yardage situation to pick up a first down; I’m thinking of three big ones right now. Changed field position and set up plays and were big-yardage plays. We really executed them well. That’s a credit to all the guys and the other coaches. Not me, because I’m not a good screen coach. Never have been. But Jedd Fisch and Tim Drevno are, and Tyrone Wheatley is, and very fortunate today that they got the guys coached up and it was an effective part of our game today.”
[After THE JUMP: I, for one, welcome our new chart overlord]
For the second straight game, Wilton Speight came on in relief of Jake Rudock at quarterback in the second half.
This time around, though, Rudock wasn't injured as Michigan went toe-to-toe with Minnesota; instead, he took a well-deserved rest after his career day headlined a blowout of Rutgers. Rudock completed 18 of 25 attempts for a career-high 337 yards and two touchdowns, adding a third score with an unlikely scramble to the pylon. Jim Harbaugh called him "tough as a two-dollar steak" for his performance coming off last week's injury.
Rudock looked better than he has at any other point this season, to the benefit of many—ten different Wolverines logged a reception. Michigan exploited a bad Rutgers secondary in a variety of ways. A Sione Houma wheel route set up a post route touchdown to Jehu Chesson; Michigan's second huge gain on a screen led to Rudock's dive to the pylon; a motion swing pass to Jabrill Peppers accounted for the third score; Jake Butt spent much of the day running free up the seam on his way to a career-high 102 receiving yards.
Butt would've had even more if not for a penalty of substituting with an "intent to deceive," a rule that seems to go against the core tenets of football, and it may have been misapplied anyway, as Rutgers simply didn't bother to account for Butt after he left the huddle. In the postgame presser, Jim Harbaugh said he was "offended" by the call.
Creative officiating was about the only way Michigan's offense could be slowed. The Wolverines finished with 487 yards. While the running game took a while to come around, the multiple successful screens were fine in its place until De'Veon Smith got it going in the second half, finishing with 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
The defense bounced back from an iffy performance against Minnesota with a stifling one against Rutgers, ceding 225 yards and only six points that weren't set up by long returns. Janarion Grant accounted for the other ten, breaking a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and setting up an end-of-half field goal with a punt return inside the ten. My only additional comment is both those returns also involved some creative officiating.
The defensive line, led by Chris Wormley (two sacks), dominated like usual, even after Ryan Glasgow exited with a shoulder injury—his status wasn't updated after the game. Royce Jenkins-Stone returned to his normal spot as the starting BUCK and aquitted himself well with a sack and two QB hurries.
Jarrod Wilson, long lauded here for being comfortingly boring, made an exceptionally un-boring play when he got over the top of a pass to Grant and dove for an interception. Jourdan Lewis, whom Chris Laviano inexplicably targeted with frequency, matched and surpassed the school single-season record for pass breakups previously held by Leon Hall and Marlin Jackson; his record-breaking 19th PBU killed a late Rutgers drive.
By that time, little was in doubt except when Harbaugh would call off the dogs. He didn't do so until midway through the fourth quarter with all the scoring—including a rather inexplicable two-point conversion after Smith's touchdown to give M a 43-16 lead—already in the books.
The rote blowout had enough moments of excitement to stay interesting, especially the Peppers touchdown, which looked destined for a TFL until he found an extra gear or three to blow past multiple defenders.
"I knew he was good, but man, he's really good," Harbaugh said of Peppers.
Rutgers is probably saying similar about Michigan after getting hit with arguably their best offensive performance of the year.
By Heiko Yang
Sometimes you get burned.
In medicine, everyone has stories about “that time I missed diagnosis X because I was so sure it was diagnosis Y.” Earlier this year I missed a retroperitoneal bleed because I was utterly convinced that my patient’s back pain was a routine case of muscle spasms from straining to get out of bed (he was not in the best physical shape). I coolly presented my findings as “benign” and “unremarkable” only to watch in horror as the senior resident ran her hand over the subtle but sinister-looking bruise tracking along the patient’s flank.
It was one of the few moments in medical school where quitting seemed like a good idea.
The reaction is pretty natural, I think. Misdiagnosis happens, but at a tertiary center like Michigan, a lot of times Y is some weird life-threatening thing while X is garden variety, so you just feel a little silly and move on. But when it’s the other way around, especially if you don’t catch your mistake and something horrible happens to your patient*, you feel like you no longer deserve to be a doctor. The negative reinforcement is so powerful that there’s even an acronym for it – IGBO, or “I Got Burned Once” – because it’s actually kind of a healthcare problem. Costs increase and routine problems become more complicated by doctors who recommend unnecessary tests and interventions because they have PTSD from the last time they missed the rare but scary diagnosis. You better believe I’m going to think “retroperitoneal bleed” every time a patient on a blood thinner complains of back pain, and it’ll be a conscious effort to resist the urge to scan every one of them.
Last week Michigan’s defense got burned. Minnesota got lucky and hit a few big plays in the first half, which put the Wolverines on their heels for the rest of the game and gave the Gophers the opportunity to hit even more big plays. The way everything played out made it a little easier to appreciate the overused adage about the secondary having a “short memory.” They have the unenviable position of being almost always culpable for the big 20+ yard gainers, and letting those mistakes influence how they play the next down usually just leads to more mistakes. The signs and symptoms of IGBO were rampant throughout the secondary. It felt like they were still reliving the last big play on every snap.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that Michigan’s secondary is relatively inexperienced. Half of the major contributors – Hill, Thomas, and Clark – are new. I’m optimistic about this. With more and more experience, they’ll learn to spend less time dwelling on their mistakes as they eventually adopt the cool poise of seasoned veterans. In the short term, however, the fact that Michigan won should help eliminate the hangover from last week’s poor performance and hasten the return to form this week. Instead of the 3rd-and-17 conversion or Channing Stribling’s bust on the double move, the last big plays they remember from this game should be the goal-line stand and then racing to the opposite sideline to reclaim the jug.
Oh, and they’re playing Rutgers. That should help, too.
Rutgers 3, Michigan 31
*Don’t worry, that patient ended up doing okay. It’s a good thing they don’t let medical students make any real decisions.
By Nick RoUMel
IGBO. Just “once,” Heiko?
I’m not sure how I feel about a profession whose practitioners will admit to only one mistake. We lawyers screw up all the time, whether it’s missing a shortened statute of limitations buried deep in the fine print of an employment application from 20 years ago, or bungling strategy on the verge of victory that’s the legal equivalent of Minnesota’s final 19 seconds last Saturday.
On the other hand, we lawyers wrote the U.S. Constitution while doctors were still curing people with leeches. (But when you look at how people still argue about what the Constitution means over 220 years later, maybe we screwed that up too.)
One mistake we can all agree on: Rutgers does not belong in the Big Ten. It still baffles me why the conference honchos thought it was a good idea to expand the conference in this fashion. Rutgers? Nebraska? Maryland? I’m sure the addition of these three red-clad teams also relates to one of our founding fathers - or in the vernacular, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”
Today one of those outliers engages in noble battle with a team from Michigan, the heartland of the conference. On paper this is a mismatch. The favorites, despite some heart stopping moments, have are a strong team that has exceeded a lot of expectations. The underdog is already on the verge of a losing season and is playing today with an air of desperation.
However, we do know they can move the ball and score points; it’s their defense that’s a question mark. One advantage they have is that the favorite may be overlooking them. It’s the worst kind of trap game.
I feel pretty strongly about the upset. And frankly, nothing will make me happier:
BIG RED 33, MICHIGAN …. STATE 28
Whoops, did I make a mistake? Well at least no one got hurt!
Let’s try again. The good guys win, but not so convincingly:
MICHIGAN 28, SCARLET KNIGHTS 20
In a game Michigan controlled from the outset, the John Beilein's Wolverines defeated Patrick Beilein's Le Moyne Dolphins, 74-52, in the exhibition tune-up before the season tips off for real a week from tonight. Caris LeVert led all scorers with 22 points on 17 shots; Duncan Robinson came off the bench for 15, hitting three of his six three-pointers, and Derrick Walton added 13 on seven shot equivalents.
Some scattered thoughts from the game:
Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton: still good. There's not too much more to say here except that both looked fully healthy. LeVert's ability to create his own offense outside the arc bailed out some stagnant possessions. Walton is back to his normal self; he had a couple strong takes to the hoop in transition and knocked down a pull-up jumper off a late-clock drive—these were the shots he couldn't get last year because of his injury.
Mark Donnal got the start at center, but he still doesn't look like Michigan's best big man. While Donnal hit three of his five shots, the two misses were layups—not a great sign against a woefully undersized opponent. He affected some shots at the rim but still looked a step slow on defense.
Ricky Doyle only played 12 minutes; I don't think that's a reflection of the pecking order as much as Beilein wanting to see what he has in Donnal and Moe Wagner, who played most of his 11 minutes at the five. Doyle looked much like he did last year, scoring on his lone post-up opportunity and grabbing five boards while allowing a couple other rebound chances to find their way to Le Moyne. Wagner was active but a little lost out there, which doesn't come as a huge surprise; he did look like he could contribute this season in a pinch.
Michigan really missed Zak Irvin, who sat out the game with a back injury that shouldn't affect his availability during the season. With Irvin out of the lineup, Kam Chatman and DJ Wilson played most of the minutes at the four, and their inability to hit the outside shot—a combined 0/6, with Aubrey Dawkins also missing his four attempts from beyond the arc—limited the effectiveness of the offense. Michigan couldn't get much pick-and-roll offense going and mostly scored with one-on-one takes and off-ball movement; not having Irvin to spread the floor constricted some space to operate in the paint.
Chatman's scoring output remains frustrating, especially since he can do other things well; he's a good passer an one of the team's more reliable rebounders. If he can't put the ball in the bucket, though, he'll cede minutes to someone else; he's not strong enough as a perimeter defender to justify getting minutes otherwise.
Wilson is an interesting case. He runs the floor really well—he's a weapon in transition—and he alters shots at the rim, but he doesn't look totally comfortable with his outside shot and he got blown by on the perimeter for a couple layups. He hit a face-up jumper on a post-up and may be better suited for the five, especially if Donnal struggles.
Duncan Robinson is going to pose major problems to opposing defenses. He looked great shooting the ball, as expected, hitting 3/6 triples. Encouragingly, he also hit 3/4 two-pointers, with much of that offense set up by him making nice off-ball cuts. He had an up-and-down game defensively playing primarily the three, but he's going to get a lot of time regardless.
Aubrey Dawkins had an off night on both ends. I'm not concerned at all about his offense—we know he'll be fine on that end. The more concerning stuff came on defense; he got pulled a couple times for Robinson when he ran right into screens and gave up open outside shots. Perimeter defense is a work-in-progress on a team-wide basis; Le Moyne got off 28 three-pointers and many of those were solid looks.
For an exhibition game in which the team was missing a critical starter and trying out a ton of different lineups, this went fine. The offense should function much better with Irvin on the court, Robinson looks as advertised as an offensive weapon, and the two stars who played looked like their old selves tonight.
Before this season, some betting site was looking for someone in Michigan media to take/write-up the under on 7.5 wins, and got me to bite. I figured falling short of 4-3 versus @Utah, BYU, MSU, OSU, @PSU, @Maryland and @Minnesota was foreseeable, since bad things do happen, and whatever deity was in charge of whom they happen to was the George Lucas of gods.
The George Lucas God of Football creates an amazing thing that you will buy into, then turns it on you because he misunderstands what made his original, authentic creation so awesome, and he is immune to being told otherwise.
The George Lucas God is gone, his opus now in the hands of one of its earliest and geekiest fans. You know this geek has been quite successful—like he turned Stanford Trek into a good movie, before turning around the Mission Impossible franchise. You know he was left plenty to work with. You see trailers that confirm this could not suck. When do you believe again?
There's just a 2.1% chance my 7-win prediction comes true. There's a much higher chance this one could be as good as 1969's A New Hope. I still can't get myself to believe, but the numbers are there. There's even a scenario where…
[After the JUMP: a thing Rutgers is good at]
On the roundtable this week:
- Sam regales us with his marital advice, which is very good marital advice that everyone should emulate.
- We eventually talk about football. Ed lords it over us that he thought this game would be tight, and I reject him wholeheartedly.
- Rutgers! Not good.
- A little basketball scrimmage talk stuck in at the end there.