MGoPodcast 6.12: Nevermind, Here's A Bat

MGoPodcast 6.12: Nevermind, Here's A Bat

1 hour 15 minutes

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BATS [Eric Upchurch]

FOOTBALL

The usual pratfall.

BASKETBALL

Big three, yes please. Spike taking a leap forward. Need more production at the 4 and 5.

TALKING BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC

This diverges into a discussion about the ticket bubble and Big Ten expansion and how it feels like the breaking point has finally been reached. The appearance of bush league. The Bits Of Broken Chair trophy is amazing.

MUSIC

"Across 110th Street"
"What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted?," Jimmy Ruffin
"When Disaster Strikes," Busta Ryhmes

THE USUAL LINKS

Whatever

Whatever

Submitted by Brian on November 24th, 2014 at 12:24 PM

11/22/2014 – Michigan 16, Maryland 23 – 5-6, 3-4 Big Ten

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[Eric Upchurch]

A version of this game happened in 2008, when a Michigan team headed for 3-9 had a dismal, rainy home finale against a bad team. That was Northwestern; Michigan blocked a punt for a touchdown but lost anyway. I spent halftime attempting to warm my hands on a pretzel heater.

It was tolerable because of its novelty. That team provided an opportunity for Michigan fans to demonstrate the vast depths they would go to in order to support their team. It wasn't fun, exactly, but it felt like a transitory period, a cost gladly borne for the promise of ass-kicking modern football to come. Merit badges were awarded to the hardy souls who stuck it out.

I don't have to tell you how that worked out.

I know I've referenced that game many times before as we've struggled to deal with Michigan's broken offense over the past couple years, but the similarities to the Maryland game are striking enough to bring it up again. While the weather wasn't nearly as bad, the slate-gray sky was highly familiar. So too the mutual Keystone Kops antics, what with receivers deciding it was that year EA's NCAA Football series decided that the way to balance their broken game was to have WRs drop half the passes they got their hands on.

So you naturally think about that game before and compare your mental state then and mental state now. The only thing I've got at the moment is relief I don't have to do that again. Humorous exclamations about how "we do this for fun!" are so 2008.

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

Michigan had built up piles of fan goodwill over their 40 year bowl streak; after Schembechler's arrival there were years Michigan wasn't great, but none in which they were actively bad unless their starting quarterback's leg broke. They started tapping that in earnest in 2007, and now it's all gone. I didn't want to go to the Maryland game even a little, but I did. I have a personal streak at stake here. And they fired Dave Brandon.

But there was no silver lining. The depths of my fandom have been tested; there's a bottom there. I'm fed up with ticket prices and the cookie-cutter inanity imposed on a Michigan Stadium experience that used to be unique.

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CAKE [Bryan Fuller]

There are bits and scraps of it left. I got bizarrely misty when they did the Blues Brothers cake, because it was a thing that was ours and still existed as what it had been since my youth. I was at Yost for the final game of whatever hockey season it was when the "Can't Turn You Loose" dancing extended from the most humorously overweight guy in the section to everybody. It was a thing that some people decided to do and they keep doing it.

Then that student section sat near-silent for the rest of the game because every space that wasn't filled with actual football was crammed with noise. It was especially jarring since the most interesting football on in the noon window was Manchester United-Arsenal, full of everything but Pitbull being piped in at deafening levels.

That's where we are right now, fighting a losing battle against the spreadsheet people. Jim Hackett may be a nice guy and vast improvement on Brandon, sure. Not much has happened to indicate that he's anything but another spreadsheet person making the columns add up and importing what passes for creativity at other places.

I don't know what's about to happen. I mean, I do: Ohio State is going to punch Michigan's delicates in and Brady Hoke's going to get fired. I don't know what happens after that.

During the last coaching search I used logic and common sense to declare that Michigan would not hire Brady Hoke because he was so transparently unqualified, so I can't do that again. Even if I was so inclined the fact that an interim AD is going to make the most important hire in the department would prevent me. Michigan is determined to do it weird in the ways they shouldn't and do it conventional in all the ways they shouldn't.

But whatever. It's over, and it ended in the way it probably had to: a sodden mess of football about as interesting as a pile of dirty laundry. Hopefully there's something to care about next year.

BULLETS

There is not going to be a UFR. I'll go back and get the relevant parts over the offseason but I am going to have a real Thanksgiving instead of one where I spend the first half of it in a bedroom putting up a post; it was just going to say the same stuff you already know anyway.

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This fourth down was on Gardner [Upchurch]

I don't know what I expected dot gif. The same pattern of ludicrous errors part XVIII. Roughing the kicker, a block in the back on a punt return touchdown, dropped passes, penalties, throws nowhere near the target, an inability to deal with tempo or mobile quarterbacks—none of it was surprising. It's not even infuriating anymore. It's just the way it is.

Cripes, Funchess. His lack of GAF has been clear for big chunks of the year—I still go back to that bubble screen that was a likely touchdown if he blocks his guy at all—and it's getting more prominent as we near the end of the year. The dropped passes are epidemic, and they don't even try to use him as a blocker anymore.

It'll be interesting to see if any of this impacts his draft stock. I bet 1) it does and 2) not nearly enough to induce him to return for his senior year. This feels like a situation similar what went down with GRIII, where it might be a good idea for the guy to come back to establish himself an elite talent but the guy is clearly done with college.

The offensive line is kind of okay now. There was a period in the second half where Michigan was blowing the Maryland DTs off the ball on every single play; occasionally Maryland would get Michigan in the backfield with a blitz allowed by the fact that M really didn't want to throw but anything that ended up neutral on the RPS scale was a nice gain for Michigan. Even excluding the fake punt, Michigan went for 5.5 YPC.

That's not unusual for a putrid Maryland D, but Michigan bested MSU, OSU, and pre-Diamont Indiana. They didn't hit Wisconsin numbers or a rampant Syracuse(?), but they looked quite functional. Darrell Funk is going to get run out of town on a rail like the rest of the coaching staff but the improvement this year is real. With literally everybody back next year they could be good-ish.

Mad about carry distribution. I've seen a lot of ANGAR about the carry distribution since Johnson was picking up big chunks. That's one of the few things that I'm not incensed bitchy and eye-rolling about in the aftermath. Hayes picked up 6 YPC on his six carries and while Smith only had 2.8, he was the short yardage/goal-line guy and played much better than Johnson against Northwestern. Overall the run game was highly effective, and only the usual slate of derp and the broken Devin Gardner prevented actual offense from occurring.

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this was not tempting apparently [Upchurch]

I will be mad snarky about this. I know Funchess was dropping balls left and right but how on earth do you go an entire game with a 6'5" WR against "5-7" Will Likely and not, like, try to use that fact? Everyone got peeved at one goal line play, and I'm with you. I would like to extend that peevishness past that specific series and apply it to every damn time this inept offense didn't punt the ball to Funchess 40 yards downfield.

When is the last time they tried a plain old bomb down the sideline at Funchess? I know it can't actually be the Notre Dame game but it feels like the Notre Dame game.

Seriously though. How do you rush for 240 yards on 44 carries, plus a 52-yard fake punt, and score 16 points?

Defense. The usual: pretty good against the run, though CJ Brown's QB stuff was highly effective because Michigan still regards that as cheating (or maybe it tends to be effective), highly iffy against the pass especially in the middle of the field, late collapse.

Brown's 6.9 YPA on 24 attempts isn't great, but you have to take the fact that Maryland was down two of its top options at WR and replacement slot Jacquille Veii dropped at least four passes. If Maryland WRs actually caught the ball this could have been significantly uglier.

It's clear that opponents have IDed the slot and TEs running against M LB/S types as a major weakness and targeted it.

The demise. Grimly appropriate that Maryland should get its key play on their go-ahead drive thanks to a fake bubble screen that went over the top. The end came thanks to a concept that's been around since Rodriguez's first year that Michigan could not deal with, nor successfully replicate except once against Miami(NTM). When they tried to imitate successful offenses they did it poorly because they were bad at coaching, and then blamed the concepts.

HERE

Inside The Box Score:

Meh Teams
* How do you lose when you outgain your opponent 398 yards to 312 yards? The answer is simple. Not-so-special teams (and turnovers, and failing on fourth down twice.)
* Maryland's fourth FG attempt is not in the boxscore because Jourdan Lewis roughed the kicker. On the very next play, Jourdan Lewis failed to keep contain and Maryland scooted in for a touchdown.
* Michigan's high point on the day, a 52 yard fake punt, was more than offset by a touch in the back penalty that resulted in Michigan losing 70 yards of field position, oh, and a game-deciding touchdown.

Best And Worst:

Yes, there have been meager signs (mostly on defense, but also with the offensive line) that this program was playing better, especially given the fact that Indiana has since nearly upset PSU and held tough against OSU on the road, while Northwestern upset Notre Dame and then demolished Purdue to, improbably, set up for next week’s intra-state battle with the Illini as a battle of two teams playing for their bowl-game lives.  They weren’t dominating wins, but if you squinted you could see something faintly resembling progress and improvement, and maybe with a new QB and some healthy running backs next year Michigan might be on its way “back”.

But all along, this team kept displaying the same numerous flaws that absolutely, positively shouldn’t be happening 50 games into a coach’s tenure.  The offense remains painfully predictable, to the point that pointing this out is equally reflexive.  The defense, while certainly the stronger unit during Hoke’s tenure, continues to play at a B+ level, seemingly never figuring out how to handle anything approaching tempo or a mobile QB.  Barring a Biakabutuka-esque performance against OSU, Michigan won’t have a running back break 600 yards total on the season, and for the second year in a row won’t have one even sniff 1,000 yards total.  Hell, Melvin Gordon and Tevin Coleman are going to significantly outrush this team as a whole, and that’s after dropping 292 yards rushing on Maryland in this game.  Devin Gardner went from pre-season All Big-10-ish player to a guy who’ll probably not throw for 10 TDs on the season, and one of the best runs of the year was a 52-yard run by a FB on a fake punt.  Timeouts continue to be called or saved without any regard for reality, and the team long ago ran out of feet to shoot with dumb penalties, incorrect number of players on the field, and turnovers.  Oh my gawd the turnovers, King.

ELSEWHERE

Sap's Decals nails Gardner:

DEVIN GARDNER – To me, New 98 is the LaVell Blanchard of the Michigan Football Team. Great kid. Smart kid. Face of the program for the past few years. Much like Blanchard, Gardner has been caught in the middle of a coaching change during his career. Caught in the middle of a program trying to find its way. Caught in the middle of a university trying to figure out what kind of identity they want their football team to have. Much like we do when looking back on the career of Blanchard, I’m sure we will say much the same for Gardner: “Oh, the Gardner years! Tough kid. Never quit. Never gave up. Sad that his record wasn’t better.”

Maize and Blue Nation:

So, things happened yesterday. A few of them good, some of them meh, and most of them bad. For Michigan, it was yet another in a long line of games everyone would just rather forget.

Brady Hoke knows what's coming. You can just tell. Nothing will happen before the Ohio State game, but its over. This is the end for Hoke at Michigan.

You know it's bad when newspaper folk don't edit out your uhs and ums:

A self-inflicted mess, toward the tail end of a self-inflicted disaster of a season that can't end soon enough, with a head coach who has only gotten worse every year he's been in charge.

Another game that made little sense, and more talk afterward that made even less.

"We just didn't, uh, execute at times when we had opportunities, and, uh, at times we did," Hoke said Saturday night. "We had some mistakes in the kicking game that, uh, obviously hurt us as a football team. Some of those were very aggressive mistakes and you appreciate that kind of effort and aggression. At the same point, we've got to be a little smarter.

"If that's the right word for it."

I think Zuniga is a fan of hair metal band Enuff Znuff. Alex Mitropolous-Rundus was in high school band.

Maryland Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Maryland Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 23rd, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items

  • Delano Hill served a one-game suspension against Maryland and will return against OSU
  • The vulnerability to a fake punt was something the coaches spotted on film, and Joe Kerridge had the ability to call it off if necessary
  • The problems with the passing game are “multiple”
  • Hoke used one timeout in the third quarter to avoid having 12 men on the field and another to try and slow the game down for the defense

Opening remarks:

"Obviously we're really, really disappointed and disappointed in the – cuz our seniors, the 12 guys we're graduating, the 12 guys who played their last game [at Michigan Stadium]. We always talk about playing for them and coaching for them and we just couldn't execute at times [when] we had opportunities and at times we did [execute]. I also think that we had some mistakes in the kicking game that obviously hurt us as a football team, and some of those are very aggressive mistakes and you appreciate that kind of effort and that kind of aggression but at the same point we've got to be a little smarter, if that's the right word for it. The one thing is in our locker room there's a lot of disappointment and there's also a lot of pride that these guys have in how they've practiced and how they've done things all year and obviously we've got the greatest rivalry game in college football, in my opinion, coming up and that's what we're going to focus on."

You alluded to it but this hasn't been a very penalized team this year. Can you talk about the punt return and the play on the field goal with the field-goal kicker?
"Yeah, some of this is all subjective and what do you think it is and not. Not seeing the whole thing from the angles that you all get I'll have to look and see, especially on the block in the back. On the field goal, the guy was trying to make a play and he was a guy who was supposed to be coming hard off the edge and I guess he hit him hard enough for a 15-yard personal foul."

Can you take us through the time out and the decision to go for it on fourth down instead of just kick?

"Yeah, on fourth and seven?"
Yeah.
"Number one, it was going to be a long field goal and I believe there was some wind coming out of the south. Matt… could have kicked the opportunity. Punting it, thought pooch it there. Little worried about Will getting too much on it. Thought our defense was playing very well at that time. Was playing very well. Believed in the call, believed in what the kids could do. Still."
Did you take the timeout to make the decision?
"Yeah, in my mind I wanted to be sure. I wanted to make sure I talked to Doug also and how he felt about it also and having the right play, and I felt very good about it."

A big punt [fake] to start the game, a couple fourth downs; did you call this game a little more aggressively?
"You know, I don't know if it was more aggressively. We had seen on film that we could take advantage of the fake. We were- we go for it on fourth-and-one and we had the penalty, so that knocks it back. When you look at different punt teams and you look at different zone of the field, what they like to do, or punt return teams and what they like to do and what they like to be in and we got exactly what we wanted. Joe has the ability, Joe Kerridge, to call it off. He's a really intelligent guy football-wise and so it was there and we went with it."

The difficulty stopping the run in the third and fourth quarters; what did you see there?
"I think they got a little bit up-tempo. I think we lost some of our discipline a little bit in some of those things. I thought we missed a couple tackles in there that we needed to- I think we tackle better than that. I think that as much as anything hurt us a little bit. And I'll give them credit too. I want to give- CJ Brown I think he's one of those quarterbacks who's a little but of a gunslinger and does a nice job with running that football team and he's a good athlete."

[After THE JUMP: more words that are strung together into mostly complete sentences]

Maryland 23, Michigan 16

Maryland 23, Michigan 16

Submitted by Ace on November 22nd, 2014 at 7:27 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

Which remarkably apropos moment to use here?

Should it be the innovative "running two-minute drill" that miraculously netted an end-of-half field goal?

How about when the Michigan Marching Band recreated the extinction of the dinosaurs at halftime?

Perhaps Dennis Norfleet's incredible punt return touchdown getting called back?

Could I see the argument for Mike Weber announcing his decommitment the precise moment Maryland's Wes Brown ran in the go-ahead score? Of course.

Same goes for Darryl Stonum's tweets just before and after Devin Funchess dropped another pass, this one to seal the loss on fourth down.

All of them, I guess.

As far as I know, Brady Hoke hasn't been informed he's fired, but he knows. We all do. With bowl eligibility on the line—unless you're holding out hope for a miracle in Columbus—Hoke's squad couldn't get out of its own way.

Even considering a few impressive Devin Gardner scrambles, including Michigan's lone touchdown of the game, the team's best offensive play came on a 52-yard fake punt run by fullback Joe Kerridge; Kerridge couldn't quite get to the goal line, and after Gardner's third-and-goal pass bounced off Freddy Canteen's chest, Matt Wile kicked a field goal.

The game played out in similarly bumbling fashion for most of the duration, with both teams seemingly unable to catch the football. Maryland had three drops in the first half; Gardner recorded a pick when a throw well behind Bo Dever bounced off his hands and into those of Maryland corner Will Likely.

The special teams were a mess. The flag on the punt return, however questionable, cost Michigan a touchdown. Jourdan Lewis roughed Maryland kicker Brad Craddock, leading on the very next play to a CJ Brown touchdown run; there's another four points. Matt Wile missed a 39-yard field goal that would've given M a 19-16 fourth-quarter lead.

It was a Brady Hoke loss, through and through.


[Fuller]

It's sad, of course. Devin Gardner mustered 82 yards on the ground, scrambled for a vintage DG touchdown run (above), and put most of his passes on target, only to see several go right through the hands of his intended receivers. He went down fighting in his last home game, and it sucks to see his efforts go unrewarded. Same goes for all the other seniors out there.

For the sake of Michigan football, though, this may have been for the best. There's little, if any, doubt now that Hoke won't be retained, and a loss in The Game—meaning no bowl game—is all but guaranteed. Unless the athletic department royally screws up the coaching search, the next team will have more competence at the top, a better opportunity to succeed. The bowl practices will be missed, but expediting the much-needed rehauling of this program may make up for it—and then some, when recruiting is taken into account.

We'll see how it all unfolds. For now, though, this felt like an all-too-fitting finish for Brady Hoke; whether he's present on the sideline for Ohio State—which I expect he will be—is almost besides the point.

Punt-Counterpunt: Maryland 2014

Punt-Counterpunt: Maryland 2014

Submitted by Brian on November 22nd, 2014 at 12:31 PM

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By Heiko "4 AD" Yang

Today will be the last time Michigan’s seniors will be playing a football game in the Big House.

Just like the team’s record, the excitement and emotion surrounding senior day has waned over the past few years. We all remember senior day 2011: Molk, Martin, Koger, Van Bergen, et al. were regaled as heroes for pulling Michigan out of the most tumultuous stretch in program history (or so we thought), and then they cemented their legacy by beating Ohio State. Senior day 2012 was a sad farewell to Denard and Kovacs, but happily it was also the debut of Denard Robinson, Offensive Weapon. Last year’s senior day was an inevitable disappointment. Still, there were moments of – I don’t know how to describe the feeling, but when Jeremy Gallon took the first play 70-some yards to the goal line, you just felt like he deserved better, and you knew you were going to miss him.

This year, struggling for bowl eligibility against a crappy Maryland team on a cold and crappy November afternoon is a crappy but fitting way to go out. At the end of a disappointing season you should at least be able use senior day as a way to recognize the guys that did something significant to mitigate the disaster – guys who held the team together maybe made enough of a difference that the rest of the team can build on, if not for the current season, maybe the next one. Did anyone do that this year? I don’t know, man. Maybe it was Hoke’s fault for not naming captains, or it was the previous year’s captains’ fault for making it seem like leadership was a dangerously overrated thing. Either way, screaming at your teammates on the sidelines that you really want to beat Penn State isn’t that impressive.

There’s not much of a legacy to be left here. Sure, we’ll remember individual guys like Jake Ryan as being great players, but #Team135 will never be toasted at reunions or enshrined in a display case in Schembechler Hall, which is crazy when you consider that some of these guys own school records (remember Gardner’s 2013 Indiana game?). It’s hard to even credit these guys as a critical transition class, which is ironic because a lot of them were recruited during the transition between Rich Rod and Hoke. But just as they weren’t really critical to the brief renaissance in 2011, they haven’t been setting up for the future success of Michigan football either.

I’m sorry for being such a downer (just wait until you read Counterpunt), but that’s how I feel about the fact that it’s senior day and how aware but not fully aware I was about it until now. I still think this team has a pretty good shot at beating Maryland and becoming bowl eligible, especially with Maryland’s top receivers out. Not having Frank Clark is going to hurt the defense, but with the second bye week, I’m optimistic that the offense has addressed some of the brain farting to pick up some of the slack.

Yes, it’s cold and rainy, but you know what? I have a feeling this turns out to be a fun, albeit ridiculous, game. That, if anything, would be a fitting end to this senior class’s career at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan 23, Maryland 22

DSC00045_thumb6_thumb1_thumb134_thum_thumbCOUNTERPUNT*

By Nick RoUMel

      You will not be able to stay home, brother.
      You will not be able to plug in, turn on, and cop out.
       You will not be able to lose yourself in Jäger and skip out for beer during commercials.
        Because the devolution will not be televised.
        The devolution will not be brought to you by Coke, or Kraft macaroni and cheese. It will not feature Jim Harbaugh blowing a bugle and leading a charge, cutting down Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio from their high horses.
         The devolution will not be led by the triumvirate of Jeff Long, Brad Bates, and Warde Manuel followed by an army of Michigan Men. Because the devolution will not be televised.
         There will be no instant replay of Desmond Howard making the Catch or striking the Pose. There will be no slow-motion montage of Tom Brady or Charles Woodson highlights. Because the devolution will not be televised.
           You will no longer hear the speech about The Team, The Team, The Team. You will no longer hear '70's rock songs about South Detroit, or other places that don't exist. You will not drink! drink! drink! with Neil Diamond or Sweet Caroline.
          You will hear pundits speak In low, funereal voices about Michigan football. Jim Brandstatter will say "tough game, Coach." Fans will murmur, helplessly, leaving the stadium.
        Because the devolution will not be televised. The devolution will be live.

MARYLAND 20, MICHIGAN 16

* with apologies to the late, great Gil Scott Heron.

Preview: Maryland

Preview: Maryland

Submitted by Ace on November 21st, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Essentials

dg

WHAT Michigan vs. Maryland
WHERE Michigan Stadium
Ann Arbor, Michigan
WHEN 3:30 Eastern
November 21st, 2014
THE LINE M -5
TELEVISION BTN
TICKETS Starting at nine(!) dollars
WEATHER cloudy, 60% chance of rain, temps in mid-30s with a 10-15 mph wind. could have freezing rain in the AM.

Right: Devin Gardner and a friend, from his Instagram via this must-read feature by Nick Baumgardner.

Overview

Prepare yourselves. The weather report indicates the dreaded "wintry mix" will fall upon Ann Arbor tomorrow morning before turning into scattered showers as the game temperature hangs around 40 with a windchill of freezing. Fandom Endurance badges may be required.

It's also Senior Day. Michigan will bid farewell to 12 players. One is Devin Gardner, and if he doesn't receive a thunderous ovation...

The guy's played for three different offensive coordinators, two head coaches and he's been asked to line up at two separate positions. Yet, through it all, he's never stopped giving everything he has.

Not to his team, and not to his community.

"I'm becoming a man here, and I thank God for this adversity," Gardner said earlier this season. "I'm becoming a better man."

...I'll lose quite a bit of faith in humanity.

It's a great time to familiarize yourself with the remarkable stories off the guys who don't see their names in print all that often, too. For example, Alex Mitropolous-Rundus, who'll get the Senior Day treatment despite spending his high school years on the drumline, not the football team.

Also being honored tomorrow: Brennen Beyer, Joey Burzynski, Anthony Capatina, Will Hagerup, Delonte Hollowell, Jonathan Keizer, Jake Ryan, Alex Swieca, Raymon Taylor, and Matt Wile.

The opponent is Maryland, a mediocre squad that's played to form this season, beating the teams they should while dropping games against West Virginia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. Michigan, of course, needs another win for bowl eligibility, and this is their best shot at it.

Run Offense vs Maryland


Andre Monroe is a disruptive 3-4 DE

Maryland's rush defense grades out as mediocre on the advanced metrics, and that passes the sanity test for a squad that's limited the lesser running games they've faced (WVU, Penn State, USF, Iowa) and given up big yardage to the good ones (Indiana, OSU, MSU, Wisconsin ... and, er, Syracuse).

The Terps are very experienced in the front seven of their 3-4 defense; every starter is a senior save OLB Yannick Ngakoue, a talented sophomore who splits time with senior Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil. (Yes, seriously, two Yannicks at one position.) Nose tackle Darius Kilgo is an NFL prospect because he can do more than just take on a double-team; he has seven TFLs this season. Andre Monroe doesn't fit the prototype of anything at 5'11", 282 pounds, but he manages to be very disruptive from his DE spot, albeit more against the pass than the run.

The inside linebackers, Cole Farrand and LA Goree, both play at a stout 245 pounds and are very active between the tackles. Maryland gets a boost with the return of OLB Matt Robinson, who was excellent against the run in 2013 but has missed most of this season with a shoulder injury; he got through last week's game against MSU and should be good to go tomorrow.

Injuries have removed the team's top tackler from his natural spot. Due to significant losses in the secondary (more on that later), strong safety Sean Davis has moved to cornerback, and while he'll be an excellent run support corner, Maryland won't have him flying into the box from the back line. This worked out fine a couple weeks ago against Penn State, a team with no offense to speak of, but MSU managed to tally 242 yards on 47 carries (5.2 YPC) last weekend.

On Michigan's end, Derrick Green has been ruled out this weekend, so De'Veon Smith should get the bulk of the carries after he had his best game of the year against Northwestern.

Key Matchup: The tackles vs. Maryland's attacking OLBs. Robinson has been very limited this season but had 10 TFLs—only 0.5 of which came on a sack—in 2013. On the other side, Ngakoue's had a breakout year with 12.5 TFLs. Ben Braden, especially, has had some trouble against quicker defenders, and these two are both quite disruptive off the edge.

[Hit THE JUMP for the REST of the PREVIEW]

Sick Day Miscellanea: Recruitin' Bits, Maryland Diagrams

Sick Day Miscellanea: Recruitin' Bits, Maryland Diagrams

Submitted by Ace on November 20th, 2014 at 3:33 PM

I unwittingly glutened myself this week, so between that, basketball season getting underway, recruiting staying in a holding pattern, and the football team remaining rather uninspiring, there's no full recruiting roundup or FFFF today. Instead, I'm mashing the two together before I head into town for the Detroit game.

Weekend Visitors

Michigan will receive an official visit this weekend from a highly touted prospect not committed to the Wolverines. Yes, this is probably a surprise to you. This may even be a surprise to the coaches. It's probably not going to amount to a whole lot. But, hey, it's happening, and that's nice.

The recruit in question is four-star receiver Auden Tate, currently a Florida State commit, who's following through on his long-held plan to officially visit Ann Arbor after he got a Michigan offer way back in April. Tate grew up a fan of the program and he's kept in touch with QB commit Alex Malzone throughout the recruiting process. It'd be a surprise if Tate flipped his commitment, but heck, it's a surprise he's taking this trip in the first place.

Three-star Oak Park ATH John Kelly will also be in attendance as an unofficial visitor. The other 2015 recruits set to be at the game are current commits: Malzone and Grant Newsome, both of whom have remained steadfast in their pledges throughout this tumultuous season. Malzone may be joined by his Brother Rice teammate and primary target, 2015 WR Grant Perry, though Perry may choose to visit Northwestern instead.

[Hit THE JUMP for commit updates, Iman Marshall's very interesting visit plans, a couple more recruiting nuggets, and Seth's lineup diagrams for the Maryland game.]

Wednesday Presser 11-19-14: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser 11-19-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 19th, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Hoke presser 2

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News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke has spoken with Frank Clark since Monday
  • The team practiced inside yesterday, except for the special teams unit; they wanted them working in the wind
  • Ty Isaac has dropped some weight and impressed in the intrasquad scrimmage last week
  • Hoke said the problems in the passing game seem to change from game to game
  • Hoke and his staff turned down Jake Ryan when they were at SDSU after watching his recruiting tape

Opening remarks:

"Thanks for coming. Yesterday we had a very productive practice as far as both execution and the intensity of it and the finish, and that's one of the things we talk about all the time but the consistency of the finish we want to do every play and I think we accomplished a lot of those things yesterday. We went inside. A little surprising to some of you. Mr. Glick might be upset if we didn't go inside but we did punt and snap and catch punts outside for about 12 to 15 minutes. We usually always go outside for that specialist [portion] and it just helps those guys fielding the punts in the wind yesterday. The other problem that you have, and it's not a problem, but your filmers, your student filmers being up in those towers [where] the wind gusts can get pretty good and we don't want to take any chances with that.

"As far as- you always track the weather and you want to try and be ahead of it. It does reflect sometimes on if you want to have two returners on a punt [or] if you want to have three returners on the punt back and because of the weather and what the wind can do to the football. Doesn't affect a lot in the passing game unless it's just unbelievably  from the side especially if you're doing a great job of spirals with the ball.

"The one thing we've talked about is there's 12 seniors that are going to play their last football game in Michigan Stadium, and I think that's important. You try and remind guys that they're going to be seniors soon, those young guys, and we talk about that constantly and I think some of them you've had an opportunity to talk to this week because we're trying to give the seniors time with you. It can be emotional for some of them and some guys will be emotional but it won't hit until after the game has been played."

/someone opens door, noise from a snowblower fills the room

"SO WE HOPE AND WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME OUT AS WE HONOR THEM AND WE RECOGNIZE THEM AND WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT THAT."

/doors closes

"And we're blowing snow."

 

You don't face a lot of three man fronts. Appalachian State was one, but this one's a little bit different from Appalachian State because they're a lot more up front, a lot more aggressive. Does it present some different challenges than what you face in a normal week?

"Well, it does in some areas, and they'll kick it to be an under or an over front depending on where the tight end's lined up or what they feel is a receiver strength or just formational strength, but the present some thing because they've got really good quickness. [They] present some problems because of the quickness they have as a team, and I think they have pretty good team speed. They're not the biggest guys up front, but I think they do a nice job of what they're trying to get done when you look at gap integrity in the run game and then obviously we want to stay out of those third downs that can be a problem because whoever you play there's only so many things that you can do."

 

You talked about him a lot early on in terms of eligibility, but what have you seen from Ty Isaac on the practice field to make you feel that he is what you thought he was?

"Yeah, yeah. A couple things. Number one, I think Ty from a standpoint of where he is getting at now physically from when he got here- you know, he was in Chicago in the summer taking classes, doing those things so didn't have an opportunity really to work out with our guys at all in the summer so he did a nice job and he's continued to do that. His weight's down. When we had the scrimmage the other day he was one of the guys [I forgot]; I said there'd be guys I forgot to mention. He ran the ball pretty daggone well."

[After THE JUMP: Hoke talks about Hagerup's improvement after dropping an old-school technique. Yes, that happened. Yes, in the punting game. Why would you accuse me of making that up?]

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Unverified Voracity Is Putting Hockey In Arizona

Submitted by Brian on November 19th, 2014 at 11:13 AM

Does anyone ever check anything? No? Okay. This exists.

Michigan needs to have a twitter feed in which they ask everyone if this thing they're about to do is a bad idea.

Speaking of things that exist without being checked that should not exist. Oh man the takes coming out of the Free Press after Frank Clark's dismissal are super super hot:

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The Free Press must have a logic puzzle as part of their hiring process. Anyone who figures it out fails.

This, by the way, this is a great example of the pointless moralizing I was talking about. Seidel doesn't give damn about whether Michigan officially dismissed Clark on Sunday or Monday, he's just complaining to show off how impressively ethical he is. Barry Petchesky just had an excellent piece on how the NFL is using Adrian Peterson to repair The Brand:

3. This is a pure PR play on the part of the NFL, and it's almost too cynical to be believed. The league had been reeling from widespread criticism of its eagerness to co-opt the legal process and its inability to sensitively or sensibly handle morality. Peterson—a black-and-white villain—was a blessing. Maybe a bad man, maybe a man who did bad things, he's a relatively uncomplicated figure, and the NFL was thrilled to have someone to position itself against. The NFL clambered over Peterson to regain the moral high ground it never actually deserved, and is using that platform to shout out, "We are strongly against the beating of children." This is the safest and most defensible position in the world. What we're seeing is the return of the soldiers-and-puppies-and-Pinktober NFL, barely months after the Ray Rice fiasco exposed that as a thin facade. There has been no meaningful change. The league is still beyond reproach, because it cares about the children.

Seidel roundly condemns domestic violence to create the appearance he's a rad dude; the only person served by his column is himself.

Fan appreciation day. At least they're trying. Michigan's announced a bunch of minor fan perks for the Maryland game, including some concession concessions and apparel discounts for season ticket holders. They're also allowing field access. That access is slated to start 30-45 minutes after a 3:30 game that looks likely to feature freezing rain—ain't nobody staying for that.

We've got photos of other stuff. We've been branching out our photos into non-revenue sports. Here's a SOON shot from volleyball's outing against Minnesota:

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[Bill Rapai]

Rapai also shot a WBB game; Marc-Gregor Campredon shot men's and women's soccer.

As always, mgoblog photos are Creative Commons licensed so you can use them. Just credit the photographer and link back.

Exit Will Muschamp. Florida axed him yesterday, and man the parallels here are eerie: Muschamp had a weird, horseshoe-flavored 11-2 year (his second; Hoke's first) before seemingly excellent recruiting collapsed in a pile of offensive ineptitude too intense to be believed. QBs in Gainesville and Ann Arbor disintegrated into quivering interception machines before our eyes; the defenses generally stood tall despite extremely adverse conditions; both teams mutated football never-before-seen piles of suck, despair, and hilarity.

Today they had a press conference in which Muschamp handled himself ably and everyone swore up and down he was the best dude. Earlier this year Spencer and I had an IM conversation about swapping coaches, and it turns out that's beside the point: Muschamp and Hoke are the same dude.

Spencer eulogizes:

3. There is no limit to the variations of failure here. Muschamp was blown out at home on Homecoming by Mizzou, 42-13, and sniped by a late field goal, completing a 30-27 home collapse against LSU. Alabama could have scored 60 on the Gators, but got bored and politely declined the option in a 42-21 road humiliation. When Florida lined up for a late punt against South Carolina after the Gamecocks had already blocked a game-clinching field goal, the kick was blocked before the ball was ever snapped. Don't ever tell anyone you can't block a ball with your mind; Florida did it, and then handed it to South Carolina with a smile. The confidence in delivering losses was the only constant Florida had left, something it got down to some time after the worst loss in program history: a home defeat by Georgia Southern in 2013.

Did you forget that happened, the low point of lows for an entire era? He did that. Will Muschamp's signature loss of signature losses is him misspelling the word "fart" in spray paint across "The Birth of Venus."  It's an atrocity almost admirable in its accidental, perfect malice. For the record, I think Will would spell it "p-h-a-r-t," because that's the funniest possible misspelling of the word.

With reports that Dan Mullen won't be of interest, my main regret about Florida pulling the trigger early is that Spencer got the jump on the one-sentence summation of the last four years:

11. In conclusion: RIP, Big Dumb Will Muschamp Football. In the end, you were too dumb to live and too ugly to mourn.

May Spencer find his Christmas tree stocked with Air Raid coaches, and may Will Muschamp migrate northwards to be Jim Harbaugh's DC.

Now everything will be fixed forever. The NCAA has taken the first and most important step towards being an organization that creates good in this world:

Long national nightmare, etc.

Hockey stuff. I haven't said too much about the hockey team yet; I don't usually during football season because of time constraints and just the fact that I'm not that good at figuring out hockey even now and need some time to get my head around. I'm not much closer after Michigan's meh sweep of American International. Center Ice:

The problems started when the defensive pairings were changed again. The blueline predictably looked disjointed, pinching at the wrong times, getting caught out of position and allowing the Yellow Jackets to get countless odd man rushes on Zach Nagelvoort.

Michigan suffocated AIC by pressuring in the offensive zone for the majority of both games, but when the Yellow Jackets countered they easily found quality scoring chances. When the defense had their way on Saturday cutting down mistakes, Nagelvoort wasn't able to keep the puck out of the net and the Yellow Jackets were able to not just stay in the game, but put Michigan on the ropes early.

AIC is usually so bad that anyone within shouting distance of the tournament sees wins against them excised from their RPI because counting those games would actually lower it. These games were essentially exhibitions against a team much worse than the U18s, and Michigan duly dominated attack time and SOG.

I don't take much positive from it, though. On Friday AIC had three separate 3-on-1s and a half-dozen other odd-man rushes besides; on Saturday they played Michigan almost even through two periods. I'm at a loss to explain Michigan's play. They have piles of talent, certainly enough to scrape through if their back end was making moderate mistakes occasionally instead of enormous ones frequently. That's not the case, and then the offense has lacked incisiveness against anyone better than AIC since… since TJ Hensick left? It's been a long time since Michigan's had a guy like him.

So I don't know. Michigan is really behind the eight ball here, already, playing in a crappy conference with a 2-5 record in games that will actually matter when it's time to find tourney participants. Would Red hang on for that last year when Tech is 10-0(!) and headed for their best season since the 1980s, thus paving the way for Pearson to come back? I don't know, but that's what I'm thinking about now… not getting back to the tourney this year.

At least they're finally fixing the ice infrastructure? Yost's ice has been iffy for years.

Speaking of hockey. Arizona State(?!) announces they will add a D-I program. Like Penn State, they make the leap from ACHA power. ASU is a weird  program to make the leap; there are no West Coast programs. The three Colorado outfits are the only schools even vaguely close. Even so I'd guess the NCHC snaps them up. Arizona State brings a bigger athletic profile than most of their members.

This is one of the benefits of the Big Ten's formation, by the way. That reorganized the western programs into three conferences instead of two. After CHA folded, programs  that were considering hockey had a dubious future as an independent. Now there are spots for another dozen teams, as long as some of them are in the Big Ten.

Buffalo might be next, with Penn State benefactor and new Bills owner Terry Pegula potentially fronting the capital.

You used to know how to do this. Michigan scheduled a home hockey game for a football Saturday. That game is at 3:30. The hockey game is at 7:30. Remind me why I have season tickets again? Is it because I'm dumb? It feels like that's the reason.

Michigan never used to do this. Instead they would have the occasional Sunday matinee. New athletic director please save us. And stop running the ARE YOU FAN ENOUGH commercial for the hockey game the previous athletic director yanked out of our season ticket packages.

Etc.: Ray Taylor's baby has impeccable timing. Approximately 3k unsold seats for Maryland. Michigan catches another personnel break as freshman Maryland WR Juwann Winifree is suspended for Saturday. Old photos. Justin Meram gets a call-up to the Iraq national team. Dilly bar details.

Monday Presser 11-17-14: Players

Monday Presser 11-17-14: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 19th, 2014 at 9:23 AM

players 11-17

Jake Ryan and Devin Gardner

Coach Hoke said that he addresses your team in regards to domestic violence. What has he said and what has the team taken from those presentations?

JR: "You know, a lot. He stresses every single day that he has expectations for everyone on this team and if you don't follow them and rules are broken then stuff will happen. He has talked about domestic violence with us and that's one of the things you can't do. It's just unfortunate."

When you see Northwestern roll up 40 points on Notre Dame does that make you feel better about your effort at Northwestern, knowing that you held them in like you did?

JR: "Yeah, I'm proud of this defense and it just shows what we can accomplish as a defense and we had a great game and need to keep moving forward."

For Devin: it's still a few days away put your last game in Michigan Stadium is on Saturday. Any idea what kind of emotions will be swirling through your head then?

DG: "I'm just really excited. There's a lot more at stake than just my last game at Michigan. It's never been about me and it's not going to be about me on Saturday. I'm just going to go out and give it everything I have, like I've always given, to try and get a win for the team."

Did the bye week help you at all with the ankle or whatever ailments you might have?

DG: "Yeah, I've gotten healthier through the bye week."

[After THE JUMP: senior day, adversity, and Devin's thoughts on what it means to be a citizen of the world]