so happy together [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

11/14/2018 – Michigan 73, Villanova 46 – 3-0

During the consumption-of-entrails portion of the game someone tweeted a question at me.

Sort of but also no. "Death from above" is a particular genre of Beilein win where Nik Stauskas sticks contested threes in your face and no amount of scoring you manage is ever enough to climb up the Sisyphean treadmill that Michigan's offense presents you. Halfway through the first half your official twitter account issues a shruggie. The danger comes from the high-arcing artillery shells Michigan fires with unerring accuracy, and then a Lithuanian-Canadian dude dunks on your face.

That's Death From Above. This was different, except for the Lithuanian-Canadian dude. This was a shiv in the dark.

Michigan was most dangerous in the low places, where Zavier Simpson's fingers are stickiest and Ignas Brazdeikis's defense most implausible. The closest thing to a consistent perimeter threat Michigan presented came from Charles Matthews jumpers that started just outside the restricted circle and ended just inside the three-point line. The very, very burly Eric Paschall is going to hit 65% from two in conference play; he was just 3 of 13 against against a true freshman wing giving up 40 pounds.

At the same time Michigan was turning an All Big East C into a pumpkin they limited Villanova (VILLANOVA!) to 3 of 15 from behind the arc, on shots that were about 95% contested. Six different guys had steals. Zavier Simpson had five himself. Villanova had three turnovers for every assist.

At some point Gus Johnson said that Michigan was known for ferocious defense and a near-total lack of turnovers. I thought about tweeting out something in the "lol that's half-right" genre, and then stopped. Stopped like a wildebeest trying to drive the lane against Michigan. Maybe it's true. Or, at least, it's is going to be true.

And like, I don't know, fine? Let's go? I don't have the fingers to deal with this.

Never in the history of humanity has a program undergone such a dramatic 180 in how they get things done without losing its fundamental personality. And make no mistake: Zavier Simpson is as good of a Beilein-at-Michigan avatar as anyone despite the fact he'll hit 30% of his threes this year if he's lucky. He is not without precedent. He is the continuation of a theme. Seven years ago Darius Morris told Michigan State to "get the fuck off my court." Nik Stauskas terrified Kentucky fans despite Kentucky having 16 seven-foot jumping jacks. Charles Matthews?

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Charles Matthews spent the entire first half doing this to various Villanova Wildcats. Everyone wanted to punch him and someone almost did.

These guys have always been assassins. Just not this kind. They've been guys who line your head up in a targeting reticle from two miles away. Now they knock on the front door and ask if anyone wants to play with all these knives they brought. You can say no all you want. The question is rhetorical.


Yes. Michigan is going to stab you until a palpably depressed Gus Johnson can no longer inject any life into the game. And then they're going to stab you one last time, because maybe you deserved it.

[After THE JUMP: some bullets and react from elsewhere]

About Last Week

Beat Rutger.

The Road Ahead

Indiana (5-5, 2-5 B1G)

Last week: Beat Maryland, 34-32

Recap: Indiana threw the ball! Several times! With reasonable success!

Peyton Ramsey completed 16/28 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, and hit a number of deep shots for the first time in living memory. His 8.7 yards per attempt were Indiana’s best on the year by 1.5 yards, and is the highest since Kevin Wilson’s departure. IU entered the game as one of the least explosive passing games in the country, but Ramsey hit on passes of 43, 37, 35, and 25 yards, and added a 35 yard touchdown run of his own.

This team is as frightening as: Just… I… I fear things, okay? Fear Level = 10 ha ha just kidding but no seriously 10.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Clearly, the hellish creature is dead, and this nightmare is over… and hey, a full 13 minutes before the end of the movie! Time to turn our backs to the situation and engage in unneccesary small talk in close proximity to the clearly dead creature who is now juuuuust out of the shot.

Michigan should worry about: The MSU ghosts don’t exist, but I have seen the Indiana ghosts with my own eyes. Multiple times. You can offer all the rational explanations you want. I know what I seen. And I seen some shit.

When they play Michigan: Oh… oh no. Gus Johnson is on the call. In a Michigan/Indiana game. We were warned about this.

Next week: @ Michigan, 4:00 p.m., FS1 (IU +28)

[AFTER THE JUMP: I don't think there are many games left. But let's find out.]

Hellow large IU receiver my old friend [Bryan Fuller]

Resources: My charting, IU game notes, IU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

I respect Indiana. When we talk about the vast ethical shortcomings of our division rivals, Indiana is our version of nisi Vanderbiltum. Kevin Wilson, their best hire since Mallory, built a modern, terrifying stretch zone & bomb machine that tore up Michigan's 2015 defense on the ground. And IU fired him immediately when concerns surfaced about player safety in Wilson's tough-guy program culture, despite what that would mean from a competitive standpoint.

Indiana also took the extra, and unnecessary, step of hiring Mike DeBord to run their offense.

Tell me that's not how every college football program ought to act?

The film: I tried to choose another defense with linebackers athletic enough to try to man up IU's slot receivers and pressure the quarterback, since so many IU opponents this year were content to sit back and let sophomore QB Peyton Ramsey pick away. I had to go back to early October, but I found a ranked Big Ten East matchup with some team Michigan hasn't played. This game ended 26-49 but competitive until well into the 4th quarter. In fact IU's kicker missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the 3rd that would have put the Hoosiers within 6 points, ground that might have been covered by any of several wide open bombs that Ramsey overthrew. It got away from them in the end, but still, IU got to run their offense in a hostile environment against a team that likes to blitz, and that's why I chose this game. Why, what reason did you think?

Personnel: Bad news guys: No Whop.

FFFF IU Offense 2018

PDF Version, larger version (or click the image)

The roster is very spread and features the slot receivers in hopes of running them into space for YAC. Slot Luke Timian, the multi-transfer walk-on, missed this game, however he was legitimately ahead of name-fave Whop Philyor before the latter lost most of this year to a high ankle sprain. Whop's role has been filled by J-Shun Harris, the exciting little bugger who's spent most of the last four years recovering from his own ailments, plus freshman ATH Taylor Reese, and the rest of the RB depth chart he's shared with. All of these guys have more targets than Grant Perry.

The OL are mostly Frey recruits who barely crested 300; C Nick Linder grad transferred from Miami (yes THAT Miami) and took over midseason from (and still cedes snaps to) last year's starting C Hunter Littlejohn. Littlejohn is vastly more likely to screw up his assignment, but Linder seems much more likely to screw up everyone else's. RT Brandon Knight and LG Wes Martin are good pass blockers. RG Simon Stepaniak is more volatile. LT Coy Cronk has been starting since he was a true freshman, and got worked like one even with plenty of RB and TE help. That may have been a result of going against an excellent young DE the announcers liked whose name was Chase, but if Cronk's weakness is all-conference-ish edge rushers named Chase I've got bad news for him this week. Cronk's also had a hard time staying healthy. IU tried Stepaniak, then a backup guard, then a 6-8 freshman when Cronk has to step out. A quick review of the last box score shows this still happens.

WR Nick Westbrook is a major threat because he can adjust so well to deep balls; fellow experienced WR Donavan Hale does not, and is in the process of getting passed by the kid, WR Ty Fryfogle, an underrated athlete and ultra-rare escapee from the black hole of Mississippi. Tight ends are non-blocking, bigged-up WR types; freshman Peyton Hendershot will chunk you on a seam route once a game but TE Austin Dorris is just a short range guy. The slots are the main method of moving the ball.

Nominal running backs are just that, except the 20% of the time that they're slot receivers. With Morgan Ellison out all year large freshman RB Stevie Scott gets most of their carries; top backup RB Mike Majette is a 3rd down specialist with more receptions than handoffs. 3rd stringer RB Ronnie Walker, another freshman, has just 12 touches in the last five weeks.

[the rest of the breakdown, after THE JUMP]

Don Brown has continued to be one of the otp defensive coordinators in the nation

Don Brown talks to the media

Ed Warinner has turned around Michigan's offensive line

Ed Warinner talks to the media

Revenge Tour: Basketball Edition