time for a breakthrough [Bryan Fuller]

11/17/2018 – Michigan 31, Indiana 20 – 10-1, 8-0 Big Ten

Indiana was defeated. It was annoying, as per usual. The method was different this time. 

----------------------------

It's here, again. Football Armageddon. The last time I called a game Football Armageddon it was 12 years ago, when Michigan and Ohio State were both undefeated. Michigan ripped off a slick touchdown drive to start things off, and in the Ohio State student section I thought to myself "we're a third of the way home."

This was incorrect. Michigan's defense played three inside linebackers the whole game against Troy Smith, gave up 500 yards and 42 points, and blew an opportunity to get the ball back when Shawn Crable hit Smith in the helmet on a scramble. The 2006 defense featured Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, Leon Hall, David Harris, four guys with decade-long NFL careers. They whooped up on everyone, but within were the seeds of the past decade of Michigan football. Michigan had one cornerback: Hall. Morgan Trent couldn't change direction with a sail and a headwind, and when the starters got pulled against Ball State two weeks prior the Cardinals mounted a comeback that ended in Michigan's redzone down only 8.

The two corners who came in against Ball State were Chris Richards, the defensive coordinator's godson, and Johnny Sears, a kid from Fresno who'd never played a varsity game when Michigan offered him. They saw him at practice. (Practice! We're talking about practice!) Eight months later Michigan would field Sears as a starter in The Horror, in which a cut-rate Troy Smith exploited the same tactical naivete Smith had to hand Michigan the worst upset of all time.

Football Armageddon really was Armageddon for Michigan, not because of anything Ohio State did to them in that one game but because they'd fallen behind the curve out of their own arrogance. Michigan's recruiting was increasingly lazy, dependent on guys who bothered to come to camp and random, uninformed guesses about players based on not enough scouting. They'd get about half a class of well-regarded and then pluck random dudes out of the ether for the rest. They'd singularly failed to adapt to the prevalence of the spread across college football, kicking off the Ohio State dominance that extends to the modern day.

When Lloyd Carr retired he asked the athletic director to interview the two sturdiest branches on his coaching tree: his coordinators. One, Ron English, had never been a head coach and was the architect of the Horror. The other, Mike DeBord, was 12-34 at Central Michigan before quitting because he wasn't a head coach. These were the options to keep it in the family.

2006 Michigan was Indiana Jones on a rope bridge. Ohio State was the guy with the machete leering from the safety of land, but it didn't create the situation.

----------------------------

Incredibly, improbably, amazingly: Ohio State looks like it might be on a bridge of its own devising. Michigan's culture caught up to them in a slow-motion avalanche that took half a decade. OSU's got blown up in a week by Brett McMurphy and Urban Meyer's callous disregard for anything but winning.

Since Zach Smith was exposed, Ohio State's house has morphed from bricks to cards. Every week (except Michigan State) brings a new sordid depth to their defensive issues. With JT Barrett off to pick up YAC in the Estonian league, the offense frequently fails to convert buckets of yards into points. There was a fourth and goal wide receiver screen against Purdue. Not incidentally, a 5-6 Purdue team that's going into the Bucket game looking for a bowl berth boatraced OSU 49-20.

The nature of the series with Michigan has already changed in the post-Durkin landscape. Michigan lost by a literal inch the last time they were in Columbus despite Wilton Speight fumbling on the goal line and throwing two miserable interceptions. Last's game was 21 Michigan players outplaying the opposition and the third-string quarterback tossing up a 14.3 QBR. This isn't Michigan scrapping and clawing because "throw the records out" and we'll go for two at the end of the game because we know what's what. It's Michigan getting hit by a red shell rounding the last corner.

They're there. They're good enough. They're legitimately elite by any metric you want to poke. Now they just have to do the damn thing. The consequences of failure do not bear thinking about. It's armageddon, again. Ohio State is a rope over an abyss. Sharpen your knives.

AWARDS

32061664898_1bc94744b1_k

[Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Devin Bush. Michigan lined him up next to Gary for a blitz and that seemed unfair and also please continue doing that forever. Twelve tackles, one of them to destroy a fake punt, and one critical fourth down PBU. Run issues were mostly things he was trying to mitigate and not things that could be plausibly put on him. Update: still good.

#2 Shea Patterson. Another game of almost ten yards an attempt. There were some hiccups, but the interception was an open guy on an RPO and it sailed because he got clobbered. The Gentry throw in the endzone… not so much. But the one after escaping the pocket, yeah buddy. Also chipped in 68 yards rushing. Which is a lot of yards.

#3 Rashan Gary. Had half that sack mentioned above plus a thunderous speed to power rush; 7 other tackles besides when Michigan really needed DL to step up.

Honorable mention: Zach Gentry had two big receptions and got interfered with twice… but maybe probably should have grabbed that ball in the endzone. Higdon had a workmanlike performance with some key broken tackles on short stuff.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland, #3 PSU, #1 Rutgers, #2 Indiana).
7: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska, #1 Indiana).
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU, #3 MSU, #2 Rutgers), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska, #3 Indiana).
4: David Long(#2 Wisconsin, T1 Michigan State), Josh Uche (T2 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Jon Runyan Jr (T1 Wisconsin, T2 PSU), Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland, T3 Rutgers).
3:  Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin).
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU), Brandon Watson(T1 MSU), Lavert Hill(T1 MSU).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland), Ben Bredeson(T2 PSU), Nico Collins(T3 Rutgers).

Who's Got It Better Than Us(?) Of The Week

Nick Eubanks scores his first touchdown at Michigan. An important moment in the game, sure. But his reaction afterward was a prayer to his late mom.

Honorable mention: Post-game news about Edwards and Winovich is positive. Moody hits a field goal X6. Rashan Gary stops Indiana's last drive before it starts.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Berkeley Edwards suffers the scariest injury in Michigan Stadium in living memory after a cheap targeting hit on a kickoff return. Edwards is probably going to be fine, per Braylon, and he's tweeting, so… that's a mixed blessing. But mostly good!

Honorable mention: Chase Winovich is knocked out after a different cheap shot and is maybe unavailable for next week. The end of half debacle.

[After THE JUMP: cheap shots, other]

1 hour and 52 minutes

The Sponsors

This show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan nobody would get our jokes. Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, and Lantana Hummus

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1. The Offense

starts at 1:00

IU’s dirty play: The O’Neill crew has got to go! Shea came down a little from his Rutgers game level, Michigan did NOT want to run him but had to due to circumstances. Running game didn’t get big plays, protection issues resurfaced with Steuber. Showed some new things, left a lot in the bag.

2. The Defense

starts at 32:20

The DTs are, after all, just guys. DeBord brings out the tempo and gets his 17 first half points, then gets 3 after the adjustment. The adjustment: another guy in the box. Ramsey runs were all different but annoying events. He was also quite good at running away and throwing away (or just throwing it away and not getting flagged, which led to their field goal).

3. Special Teams/Feelingsball

starts at 53:16

Breaking down the ten(?) deadly sins of the end of the first half, just one of which wasn’t on Michigan. IU fake punt was at the dumbest part of the field AND tried to edge Devin Bush (how did that work out for you?). Moody, Moody, Moody, Moody, Moody, Moody.

4. Around the Big Ten with Jamie Mac

Starts at 1:14:31

Iowa-Illinois: blerp. Wisconsin-Purdue: low-scoring affair becomes a humdinger in the 4th and overtime. Purdue is an in-season disappointment. Penn State-Rutgers was a Rutger but PSU is back to the salt mines—Frames Janklin is punting from the Rutgers 37 on 4th and 4. State loses 9-6 to Nebraska on a Sparty No! All the sharps were betting Minnesota over Northwestern, who’s warming up shirtless and channeling the MSU DISRESPEKT. And the Maryland-OSU gongshow. McFarland got hurt or else he gets the Biakabutuka. Haskins has to run the things they saved for Michigan. Jamie’s done with Tom Allen. Ohio State can’t fix this defense in a week. Long discussion on The Game. Get this one or you’ll never get anything. OSU won all six of their coin flip games this year. Football Armageddon II: Let’s go kill ‘em!

MUSIC

  • "The Last of Us 2 Trailer Song"—Shawn James
  • "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch"—Thurl Ravenscroft, MGM Studio Orchestra
  • "Can't Turn You Loose"-Blues Brothers
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

The hoody-doody, I hope they run that next week.

[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Ignas Brazdeikis and Jon Teske(!) led the way with 20 and 17 points respectively, as Michigan notched its fifth comfortable win in five games this season, defeating Providence in the finals of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off. It was a relatively partisan Providence crowd at the Mohegan Sun, but aside from a run in the first half to get the Friars back in the game, the crowd was subdued. It was a victory that was true to form for Michigan: despite some offensive struggles in the half-court, they managed to score over a point per possession, and their defense made it a miserable day for Providence, who shot just 2-18 from three.

Early on, Brazdeikis kept the Michigan offense afloat, attacking the basket and scoring 9 of Michigan’s first 14 points, and Zavier Simpson did a good job of selectively pushing the tempo. Simpson also did well to get Teske involved offensively; he hit him on the roll for an open dunk for the first possession of the game and worked the pick-and-pop game a little bit to stretch the floor. This was the perfect opportunity for Teske, as the Friar starters all went between 6’5 and 6’9 and switched screens frequently. Even though Teske had some success against that look, it bogged Michigan down for a time in the first half, and Providence pulled within one point as Michigan went cold on the other end.

Teske hit a three late in the shot clock to stem the bleeding and spark a run to end the half for Michigan. The Wolverine was strong during that stretch to put away the game, harassing Providence into some ugly misses, and the offense woke up a little bit: Isaiah Livers made both free throws after getting fouled some distance from the basket, Eli Brooks hit a deep three, Simpson threw in a tough hook high over a shot-blocker, and Brazdeikis scored a layup in transition from Livers. Simpson tried another hook, drew the help, and missed, leaving Teske wide open for a dunk right before the buzzer.

Early in the second half, Providence was very active on the offensive glass - they’d finish with 18 offensive rebounds, good for almost 40% of their misses, as some of Michigan’s wings struggled on the boards - but back-to-back threes from Livers extended the lead to 15 and forced a Friar timeout. From there, the margin was never closer than double digits, and the Wolverines played much of another second half in a stretch of prolonged garbage time. Michigan led by 23 when the reserves were subbed in, mostly due to a late scoring charge from Brazdeikis.

The Friars couldn’t string together more than a few quality possessions at a time, and their best player, Alpha Diallo, made a few nice all-around contributions from the wing, but finished with 10 points on 15 shot equivalents and had more turnovers than assists. Charles Matthews had a rough day of his own offensively, but he was instrumental in shutting down Diallo, though it was a group effort with all of the switching Michigan does on defense. The lineups with Livers at the five were again effective on both ends, even though Teske had a great two-way performance when he was on the floor.

The contours of this win will become familiar to Michigan fans as the season wears on. There were stretches in which the offense labored to generate quality shots, but Michigan got out in transition off of live-ball turnovers and bad misses (largely because of Simpson) and fought their way to an average offensive performance. A couple Wolverines scored effectively (Brazdeikis and Teske) and a couple key scorers were cold (Matthews and Poole). Ultimately, the game turned into a slow-motion blowout because their opponent was held to what will probably be one of its worst scoring outputs of the season (0.73 PPP for Providence). Michigan’s adjusted defensive efficiency is already up to #1 nationally in Kenpom’s metric, and that defensive quality will often give the offense a large margin of error.

[Box score after the JUMP]

Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media after Michigan's win over Indiana

Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media after Michigan's win over Indiana

Chase Winovich has given Michigan its identity this season

Michigan nearly lost Chase Winovich on Saturday. It's worth taking a minute to think about just how important he is to the Wolverines.

Jake Mood attempts one of his record-breaking six field goal completions against Indiana

So that happened.

Amauri Pesek-Hickson defends

Athlete with upside

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