Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida

Submitted by Brian on July 29th, 2016 at 11:36 AM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tagIt lives part II! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

Formation notes: Michigan spent almost the entire game in nickel, as you would expect against a spread. There were only a few plays on which they deployed odd formations. Here RJS is a standup DT in a dime package on third and eleven:

dime standup dt

This was "dime standup DT," because sometimes obvious is obvious. Michigan also had a couple plays where they walked out a bonafide linebacker over WR bunches:

ryan-split

But it was mostly standard stuff as Florida failed to threaten those formations.

Substitution notes: Peppers missed this game with a broken hand. Michigan moved Lewis inside and played Clark and Stribling on the outside. Thomas and Hill rotated at one safety spot next to Wilson. LB was the usual Morgan/Bolden pairing with both guys getting spotted by Gedeon.

DL was variable, with Wormley seeing time at three tech and SDE; Charlton was at WDE and SDE; RJS got a lot of WDE time. Hurst and Henry started at DT and got the bulk of the snaps. Marshall saw some snaps at WDE. Godin and Strobel saw scattered snaps on the interior. Brady Pallante even got a few plays in.

[After THE JUMP: way less data than the offense provided.]

Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida

Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida

Submitted by Brian on July 27th, 2016 at 3:19 PM

HomeSure Logo NMLS-1It lives! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

 

Formation notes: I'm not sure if we've seen this before at M:

ace trip TE

There are three tight ends to the right side of the formation. "Ace trip TE."

This mess was "tight FB big" and went about how you'd expect:

tight fb big

And this is an example of how Florida spent a big chunk of the first half. Check out the defensive line. That is a huge split between the nose tackle and the defensive end to the bottom of your screen. Michigan had a hard time dealing with it for a couple snaps and then blasted it until UF abandoned it.

under gap

Substitution notes: As expected. Rudock, the starting OL, and the FB/RB corps all went the distance. Smith, Houma, and Johnson were your only RBs—no Higdon, no Isaac. I don't think Newsome got any 6th OL time. WR/TE was all Darboh/Chesson/Perry/Butt/Williams until the game was salted away. Michigan put in Ways and Harris in place of the outside WRs, continued playing Perry, and gave Ian Bunting some run.

[After The JUMP: rather big JUMPS forward for a half-dozen guys.]

Dear Diary Awakens

Dear Diary Awakens

Submitted by Seth on January 23rd, 2016 at 11:33 AM

image

Sorry this is late. I've been really busy. Actually no I've been kind of busy and wasting time following recruiting and watching the Citrus Bowl again and again.

/watches Citrus Bowl again.

Ahhhh. Man having that game recorded is like when my family got a VCR and they put the whole original Star Wars trilogy on TV like right after. That was followed by weeks of the most beautiful weather in Michigan history that I didn't go outside for, by the end of which I could pull everything about Star Wars from memory for the rest of my life, and I STILL wasn't sick of it.

Bronx made the obvious analogy:

To say Dave Brandon is reminiscent of George Lucas is not fair to either man, but the worst characteristics of both mirror each other quite well; both Lucas and Brandon truly loved the worlds they held dominion over, but were so tone-deaf, so blind to the realities of how those worlds were perceived under their stewardships that they threatened to irreparably sully their images.

I'd extend the analogy to say Hackett was the J.J. Abrams we brought in to rescue the franchise, and 2015 was his Force Awakens. IE a lot of it was simply a renunciation of the crap that immediately preceded it, and banging the audience over the head with the things we loved about the originals.

But in light of where we were, that was refreshing. Yes I did see (SPOILER) Jim Harbaugh pilot an X-wing down a trench to destroy a planet-sized world-destroying base of faceless bad guys again. The thing is that hasn't gotten old. We needed a reset, and got one, and should be totally satisfied. As for whoever follows JJ and JH, yeah man, take it in your own direction.

The next movie has a lot to live up to. Expectations are high, but so is that schedule. Alum96 went through the thing and decided that Michigan doesn't have a Big Two-Little Eight schedule anymore, but it's a standard Power 5 trip. How MSU and OSU rebuild will matter much.

Crutin needs updating. Incredibly useful Alum96 also is due for another 2016 class projection since this series has been fairly accurate at predicting things so far. He got Terrance Davis wrong, but had Dylan Crawford and David Long in the highest category of guys who as of last December seemed to favor someone else.

Squinting at his info and that provided by the board in the weeks hence you can kind of piece together a class that would take Gary, LaVert, Raulerson, Hudson and Nordin as long as they are amenable, plus a tight end (Allen or Asiasi), one or two DTs (Elliott, Tagaloa, Dwumfour, …?), another LB (Mbem-Bosse?) and 2-3 WRs (McDoom/N. Johnson/Donald Stewart/Pie). Call a guy not taking officials and a guy who is taking officials to Temple gone and Metellus a Jeremy Clark* grayshirt and that's what: 28? WRITE ANOTHER ONE ALUM WE HAVE TO KNOW!

Did you miss these gifs? Red_Lee is Michiganfreek. IE he makes awesome gifs like LSUfreek does for college football in general. For example:

Opponents Watch needs updating. Now more than a week old, Hail_Yes wrote about the teams M basketball has played, and what they've been up to this year since we formed opinions on them on the court. I'd like to see objects in the future, e.g. Michigan State. What's been going on with MSU hoops lately? They're just pounding everybody because Valentine's back now right? I haven't looked.

Etc. This is OT but it's a wonderful story about MLK visiting Grosse Pointe in 1968. The Maizer followed up on my bowl eligibility proposal with his own, which is a ranking system. M baseball preview. No, Dakich=/=Spike, they're not even like-sized. This month in MGoBlog 10 years ago history was all about Lloyd shuffling coordinators to set up his retirement.

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

Best of the Board

OMIGOD NCAA FOOTBALL 2025 for the 2017 season with 2013 rosters?

The night of the Nat Championship EA put an EKG on NCAA2014's Facebook page. The world took this to mean that we might…just might finally go back to having new covers every year for the NCAA game. I guess it would mean a playoff is finally possible. I also probably shouldn't rip on them since I'm on year 2041 of a four-player dynasty* I have thoroughly enjoyed. Please leave Denard on the cover and tweak the game.

*We all got to pick each others' starting teams and one guy turned UMass into a national power that's still ripping off our recruits.

PRESENTING: THE IRON D

Ladies and gentlemen, the trophy you've all been waiting for, the Michigan vs Michigan State in Joe Louis Arena game that used to replace the best home game of your ticket package and now does that and isn't much of a rivalry anymore to be honest, the one, the only, here it is…

CYz4OlVUkAAR6RL

It is an iron d.

WHO SAID THIS IN THE MOVIES YOU ARE EMBARRSSED TO ADMIT YOU LOVE THREAD?

People listed some classic films—Wet Hot and A League of Their Own are consensus good—but this one…oh man this one:

image

It wasn't hated Sockface. While it was indeed "ambitious" (read: up its own ass) it also gave off a very George Lucas "I don't have to listen to anyone anymore because I made the Dark Knight" vibe. Not a bad movie, and at times it was stunning, but if it's the start of a Nolan trajectory into Jar Jar, well, this is our concern man.

Also put me among the Titanic crowd; the ship looks great.

ETC. Guy on board taking photoshop requests. Someone told me last night that Heiko got one of the top placements in the country for his field and I am zero surprised because that guy is a genius for whom "I got Michigan's cranky offensive coordinator to like me" has already been shoved to a footnote on his resume. Tom Harmon vs. porn? Jim Hackett is awesome.

YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN:

Neck Sharpies: Counter Punching

Neck Sharpies: Counter Punching

Submitted by Seth on January 6th, 2016 at 10:00 AM

How does a mediocre running team do this:

…to one of the best run defenses in the country? Let's discuss.

Entering this game Florida was fifth in rush D to S&P+, giving up just 4.4 YPC with sacks removed, which means they turned their opponents' running games into basically Florida's freshman-infested running game. In our diagram for Ace's FFFF we gave 7/11 defensive starters a "dangerman" star, and three(!) got the shield that's reserved for the top players at their position in the country. Among them was end Jonathan Bullard, perhaps the best run-defending player in the nation, and strong safety Marcus Maye.

And yet Michigan, whose running game was barely better than Florida's this year, ran on that: 225 yards on 46 carries. Brian mentioned in the game column that a lot of this came from a reinvigorated De'Veon Smith, and from my rewatch I bet you the UFR will bear that out. There was also a little RPS, some great plays by individual offensive linemen (Mason Cole and Graham Glasgow had very good games), and some Harbaugh games.

Part I: Florida throws paper

The run above, which came mid-way through the 2nd quarter, must be taken in context. Smith by this point was already well up in +'s running Michigan's base stuff, and Rudock was well on his way to an excellent day.

Florida's pass defense is just as good as their run D, and in passing downs they're lethal. So it's worth it to them to try some surprising/a little unsound things on 1st and 2nd down to keep Michigan's offense behind schedule, and bring up those long situations. Against Michigan in particular it appeared Florida's gameplan was to take away inside runs, trusting the Wolverine backs not to find any holes that left elsewhere.

Let's first go back to an earlier thing Florida did that should have earned a TFL:

This is the one where the broadcast crew infamously put up the ND and OSU scores mid-play. What Florida called (I think) is below:

image

It's an under but the 5-tech is actually in a 7-tech.

Michigan tried to run "Power" into this, pulling Kalis, blocking down on the DL and using the fullback as lead blocker. Florida is ready, as the NT shoots up the back of Glasgow before Braden can get an angle on him; Braden blocks air, and Kalis runs into the nose in the middle of his pull:

image

Smith did a very good job to dance around that NT, then to bounce outside the unblocked MLB whom Kalis was heading toward, turning minus two yards into four.

The lesson: Florida was messing with Michigan's power running attack by sending rushers into the A gaps, leaving the 'B' gaps open, but only as a funnel directly to the linebackers. Yes, you'd like Braden to get a better block. Yes, that was a great play by the NT to get into the path of Kalis. But this was Florida's plan against Michigan's base thing, and they got the base thing. RPS'd.

[After the jump we RPS right back]

MGoPodcast 7.14: Not Entirely About Darts

MGoPodcast 7.14: Not Entirely About Darts

1 hour 26 minutes

PDC-2014-World-Darts-Championship-live-on-Sky-Sports[1]

OFFENSE

De'Veon Smith as Ricky Vaughn, I be like dang Jake Rudock, three amigos 2016, offensive line maybe kinda shaky on the ground but pass protection was superb.

DEFENSE

Not particularly tested due to the opposition. Peppers necessity on D next year, linebacker collar-pull, Henry and Wormley beast mode.

BASKETBALL

Pumping the brakes a tad on Mark Donnal, but hooray that anyway. Rotation emergence, shooting of the three, all of the three.

INSIDE THE CROOKED BLUE LINE WITH STEVE LORENZ

'Crootin talk featuring Rashan Gary, Dylan Crawford, Lavert Hill, Chase Allen, and many others. Also darts. In fact like the first five minutes of this segment are somehow about darts.

MUSIC

"Across 110th Street"
"Hail Hail," Shovels & Rope
"The Man Comes Around," Johnny Cash
"Little Acorns," The White Stripes

THE USUAL LINKS

One Frame At A Time: Citrus Bowl

One Frame At A Time: Citrus Bowl

Submitted by Ace on January 5th, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Jim Harbaugh saved his best for last.

After a Florida defender committed an obvious facemask on Amara Darboh, Harbaugh sprinted down the sideline screaming for a call, gesticulating the whole way.

You may note a brave player—by the arm sleeve, I believe it's Jabrill Peppers—tried to get Harbaugh's attention when he reached the offical. Harbaugh, too deep into rage mode to notice, proceeded to scream "HEY, THEN CALL IT. YOU CALLED IT? YOU CALLED IT? WELL, OKAY."

Sealing this as my favorite Harbaugh GIF of the year is the scoreboard chyron showing that a flag was down the whole time.

[Hit THE JUMP for Dad Rudock, Jehu Chesson, heel clicks, and much more.]

Existential To Exponential

Existential To Exponential

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2016 at 12:19 PM

1/1/2016 – Michigan 41, Florida 7 – 10-3, 6-2 Big Ten, season over

rsw.FBC_.citrusbowl.1.1.16.edits_.0003

[Ruby Wallau/Michigan Daily]

On television, passes over a certain length are leaps of faith for the viewer. The quarterback throws it. Then there's a second or two before the intended target comes into focus. In that second you hope the guy is open or covered, depending on the situation. Maybe sometimes if you're lucky just plain expect something good to happen. For most of the year Michigan's defense has given fans the right to expect something at least reasonably difficult in those moments.

The offense hasn't quite managed that, even after Harbaugh found the right way to scream-pound Jake Rudock midway through the season. Also Florida's secondary is House of Cosby, except with Jourdan Lewis. So Rudock flung it up and for a moment there it didn't look too good. The arc was a bit high, the ball hung a bit long. Despite the recent surge I felt a wave of trepidation as this ball's parabola swung back towards Earth.

And then Jehu Chesson panned into view. Just Chesson, because Vernon Hargreaves was standing at the twenty yard line with an enormous animated question mark over his head. Chesson caught an uncontested touchdown that Rudock had punted up short on purpose, and the slow-motion rout was on.

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

A few months ago Michigan trundled to another one of those losses against Utah that are all pretty much the same depressing football game. In it, Chesson burned a corner on a double move almost as badly as he did Hargreaves. He downshifted as he neared the endzone; Rudock tried to make the perfect pass and ended up overthrowing a sure thing by a couple yards.

That was a theme of not only his junior season at Iowa but the first half of this year: Rudock would try to hit the perfect pass every time, and often this was just out of his reach. That tendency continued; it combined with an unfamiliarity with the offense to turn Rudock from an efficient, if beleaguered, game manager into a guy who barely completed half his passes and couldn't hit 6 YPA against UNLV.

There wasn't anything to be done about this. Rudock was in Ann Arbor to spackle over a quarterback recruiting sinkhole of epic proportions, and if he didn't work out he didn't work out. A shrug is all you can muster if the stopgap is in fact a stopgap.

Then f(Rudock) = 2^x

2000px-Exponential.svg

Ain't never seen anything like that before. One day, Jake Rudock was scuffling through a depressing transition season. The next he was keeping Michigan afloat as the defense scrambled in the aftermath of Ryan Glasgow's injury.

The Chesson touchdown, while easy, was the culmination of Rudock's year. That closed the circle from the Utah game. Later Rudock would dump a 45-yard post route in Chesson's lap to put a cherry on top.

My preseason assessment of Jake Rudock—I said he'd have "a season like last year at Iowa except more efficient: 60% completions, 8 YPA, excellent TD/INT"—was looking somewhere between laughable and pitiful halfway through the year and well I'll be danged:

image

Rudock finished behind only Nate Sudfeld in passer efficiency in the Big Ten, averaged nearly 8 yards an attempt, had a 20:9 TD:INT ratio, and led the conference with a 64% completion percentage.

Rudock ended the year against the nation's #4, 5, and 8 S&P+ pass defenses. His line in those three games: 64/101, 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6 TD, 1 INT.

I am going to repeat that. Jake Rudock's line against three consecutive top ten pass defenses: 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6:1 TD-INT.

Give Jim Harbaugh your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and he will turn them into NFL quarterbacks. Give Jim Harbaugh your disjointed messes, your pitiful morale, your nonsense rosters, and he will put on a hard-hat and create a ten-win team. I think we just got done with the glide path. Now for a rocket and a match.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jake Rudock completed his in-season renaissance with a stunningly efficient performance against a third-straight top-ten pass defense. He also ran for some yards and gave a polished post-game interview. Destined to be a backup QB in the NFL for the next ten years.

#2 De'Veon Smith went full Ricky Vaughn in this game, demonstrating a greatly improved ability to read the game in front of him and quickness possibly borne of a recovery from injury. PFF credited him with 11 broken tackles; he crested 100 yards against a fierce run defense.

#3 Jehu Chesson toasted Vernon Hargreaves crispy on a touchdown, caught a tough 45-yard post route, had a catch-and-run conversion on which he was pulling away from the Florida secondary before a safety chopped him down, had a spectacular over-the-shoulder reception on a play he also drew a flag on, and then had the best catch of his life on a throw that took him about six inches out of bounds. Do I hear Manningham 2.0?

Honorable mention: Chris Wormley and Willie Henry had terrific days on the DL and are excluded mostly because the offensive players had a much tougher matchup. Jarrod Wilson ended his boring Michigan career with a boring interception and we love boring safeties and will miss him. Kenny Allen hit a couple chip shot field goals, blasted a punt that would have probably been a 70 yarder had the endzone not intervened, and hit Vernon Hargreaves so hard on a kick return that he forgot to cover Chesson a bit later. Mason Cole and Graham Glasgow were terrific on the ground and equally good against the pass.

KFaTAotW Standings.

13: Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers, #1 Indiana, #3 Penn State, #2 OSU, #1 Florida)
9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
8: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers, #2 Penn State)
6: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers, #3 OSU), Jehu Chesson(#2 Indiana, #1 OSU, #3 Florida)
5: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU, #2 Florida)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota),
3: Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland), Amara Darboh(#1 PSU)
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), Delano Hill(#3 Indiana).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Gotta be that touchdown.

Honorable mention: That post route. De'Veon Smith finds a backside cut. Drake Johnson reverses direction on that draw. Treon Harris's ludicrous interception. Willie Henry eats a dude. Sione Houma befuddles a linebacker.

WGIBTUs Past.

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.
Indiana: Delano Hill seals it with a PBU.
PSU: Jourdan Lewis breaks their back on a kickoff.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

There are eight months until the next game.

Honorable mention: Early defensive hiccups.

PREVIOUS EDBs

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
MSU: Obvious.
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
Rutgers: KO return given up.
Indiana: run run run run run run run run run run run run.
PSU: OSU's WHAT ARE THOOOOOOSE gameplan against MSU.
OSU: the second half

[After THE JUMP: a run game! Three Amgios 2016.]

Michigan 41, Florida 7

Michigan 41, Florida 7

Submitted by Ace on January 1st, 2016 at 4:56 PM


[File photo: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

Through the first half of the season Jake Rudock looked more like a liability than a solution at quarterback.

That felt like a distant memory as Rudock picked apart the vaunted Florida secondary, becoming the second Michigan quarterback (John Navarre) to surpass 3,000 single-season passing yards in the process. Rudock connected on 20/31 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns and looked like a completley different player from the one that threw three picks at Utah to open the season.

Even with Jabrill Peppers sidelined due to a hand injury, Michigan looked like a team peaking in bowl season and ready to carry that momentum into 2016. De'Veon Smith, perhaps unencumbered by the turf toe he'd dealt with all season, had some extra pep in his step; more importantly, he knew where to take that step, showing much-improved vision on his way to a 109-yard afternoon.

The O-line stymied a Florida pass rush that ranked among the best in the country. Jehu Chesson repeatedly won one-on-one battles with balleyhooed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, a projected top-ten NFL draft pick, including a hitch-and-go touchdown that broke the game open. Grant Perry emerged with a couple big grabs and his first career score. If Rudock can be satisfactorily replaced, all the pieces are there for the offense to break out in 2016.

The defense, meanwhile, limited an overmatched Gators offense to 262 yards. Florida couldn't hit a big play—their longest gain went for 27 yards—and didn't have a means to stay ahead of the chains outside of a few scattered scrambles by quarterback Treon Harris, who had to deal with plenty of pressure from Michigan's front four. When Harris lost his composure, the Wolverines took advantage, most notably on a Jarrod Wilson interception in the end zone with the Gators threatening to answer Chesson's long TD.

The special teams battle hardly came into play, but Michigan won that, too. Channing Stribling intercepted the holder's pitch when Florida faked a field goal on their opening drive; long after the game had been decided, a cavalcade stuffed a fake punt in the backfield.

Rudock teared up in the televised interview following his final collegiate game. Jim Harbaugh is done working his magic with Rudock, who guided a limited team to ten wins in their first year in a new system. When this team reconvenes in the spring, most of the talent from today's blowout will be back, and if Harbaugh has coaxed similar improvement from the other quarterbacks on the roster, they'll be poised for a run at the playoff.

Punt/Counterpunt: 2016 Citrus Bowl

Punt/Counterpunt: 2016 Citrus Bowl

Submitted by Brian on January 1st, 2016 at 11:52 AM

CarrRide

HeikoG_1147_thumb4_thumb_thumb_thumb[1]PUNT

By Heiko Yang

This is going to be my last punt column. Assuming I match into residency (20 days until urology match day ahhhh /vomits), I won’t have much time next fall to do this anymore. I’m bad enough with deadlines as is, and I’m the kind of the writer who likes to type three words at a time and then delete two, i.e. slow. Not really compatible with the 80-hour workweek.

A Michigan-Florida Citrus Bowl is a weirdly poetic last game for me. The same matchup in the same bowl game in 2008 was my introduction to Michigan football. I had just been accepted to medical school at Michigan that year. For my second-look visit they showed us highlights of that game, and they even had Lloyd Carr speak to us about leadership and teamwork and a lot of other stuff I can’t really remember. I wasn’t even a college football fan back then, but meeting the legendary national title-winning coach of college football’s winningest program was still a pretty cool experience.

Whatever impression of the football team I got that day, the next eight years were anything but. Yeah we all know this. Woe is me, you, and everyone else. I’ll try to spare you the Daily Sports column redux that people have been writing every year for the last half-decade or so. On the bright side there was that one good season in 2011, and I did get to see (on the sideline, no less) exhilarating wins against Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and in a BCS bowl. Beyond that, I am thankful that I’ve gotten so much more than entertainment value and school spirit out of this experience. How do you win and do the right thing when the odds are stacked against both? It seems like the Michigan football program has been running daily experiments to explore this question ever since I got here, and there’s an endless number of lessons, good and bad, to be drawn from the data.

At least the answer seems clear now, finally: wear khakis. No, but really. Winning the Michigan way is a lot like crowd surfing at a rock concert. The program can be buoyed only by the uninterrupted arm strength of the people in it, so the less everyone worries about their pants, the more time and energy they have to making sure it doesn’t tumble to the ground the way it has done so often in recent years. Also because they are the quintessential business casual pant material. Jake from State Farm agrees.

For poetry’s sake I’m going to predict the same score and outcome as that of the 2008 bowl game. Like Michigan, Florida has also spent a lot of time wandering the desert only to find itself recently. (One could say that their string of personnel issues is an indication that they’ve found a little too much of their former selves.) Both teams now have great defenses hamstrung by up-and-down offenses. In Michigan’s case, it’s been mostly down to up; Florida not so much. The Gators will score their points early and late, but the Wolverines will control the game, much like they did when Carr coached his last game.

But there will be something very, very different about this one. Rather than a sentimental elegy for the good ol’ times of the past, today’s victory will be a harbinger of amazing things to come in the future. We’ve got a monster recruiting class. Our roster won’t be decimated over the next month. And our head coach is here to stay – oh, and his name is Jim Harbaugh.

It’s an exciting new era for Michigan football, and wherever I end up, I can’t wait to see it.

Michigan 41, Florida 35

nick-roumel13COUNTERPUNT

By Nick RoUMel

COUNTERPUNT – Citrus Bowl – Florida vs. Michigan 1/1/16

By Nick RoUMel

Just before Christmas, on Main Street, Ann Arbor, I was out for “Midnight Madness.” Among the shoppers and merchants were UM Medical students with buckets, collecting for the annual “Galen’s Tag” charity fundraiser. I said hello to a young man I knew, working on his Medical School Ph.D., when he motioned towards the student next to him. “I believe you know Heiko?” he asked.

image

Heiko Yang, Off-hour Postdoc

(full time M3 at Medical School)

a.k.a. “Punt”

I glanced over. Heiko looked just as he does in the photo above (from his Med School lab’s web page), perhaps taller than I’d remembered. But I didn’t immediately recognize him, since it was only the second time we’d ever met.

We talked for a long while, about football and residency search. He told me then he was leaving this column, due to his anticipated workload. Still, Heiko’s official announcement today leaves me with inexplicable sadness. I have enjoyed our friendship, mainly consisting of peppy email exchanges for our column, and occasionally during games. I have come to appreciate Heiko’s enthusiasm, humor, intellect, and above all, his mastery of creative syllogisms. This is a guy who can start out talking about being concussed in a softball game collision, and draw an analogy to forgetting the bad stuff about UM football; and today, he manages to connect crowdsurfing with football fan support. And here I thought I was the one who more easily –

“Look! A squirrel!”

image

Ahem. Well, that went off-topic quickly.

Heiko’s only flaw, as Punt, has been his wrongness. Counterpunt, channeling Nostradamus, has consistently been on the right side of these picks, while Punt predicts the result about as often as a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Today Heiko has chosen the safe choice. He knows, as Einstein never once said (despite memes to the contrary), that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.” In this context, the usual result of a January Florida bowl game, at least in the last 30 years, is a high-scoring Michigan victory:

Jan. 2, 1988 Hall of Fame (Tampa) Michigan 28, Alabama 24

Jan. 1, 1991 Gator (Jacksonville) Michigan 28, Ol’ Miss 3

Jan. 1, 1994 Hall of Fame Michigan 42, NC State 7

Jan. 1, 1997 Outback (Tampa) Alabama 17, Michigan 14

Jan. 1, 1999 Citrus (Orlando) Michigan 45, Arkansas 31

Jan. 1, 2000 Orange (Miami) Michigan 35, Alabama 34

Jan. 1, 2001 Citrus Michigan 31, Auburn 28

Jan. 2, 2002 Citrus Tennessee 42, Michigan 17

Jan. 1, 2003 Outback Michigan 38, Florida 30

Jan. 1, 2008 Capital One/Citrus Michigan 41, Florida 35

Jan. 1, 2011 Gator Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14

Jan. 1, 2013 Outback S. Carolina 33, Michigan 28

That’s an 8-4 record, and 3-1 in Citri Bowls, with at least 4 touchdowns in each win. Not bad - and better if you don’t count 2011 (when that thing happened); and 2013 (when that other thing happened). Oh, and another thing happened in ‘13: a fortuitous angle on a tackle helped make Jadeveon Clowney the #1 NFL draft pick in 2014.

So my hat is off to Heiko. He’s not insane, he’s just wisely foreseeing the odds-on result.

But my friend, here is where our friendship departs. In contrast to Punt’s La-Z-Boy bravado, not daring more than to changing channels in the dark, Counterpunt opts for the bold and the reckless path - nay, the insane choice – like motorcycle daredevil Evel Kneivel, who once attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon (seen here thrashing bravely at E.T.):

evel-knievel-and-e-t-o[1]

Yes Heiko, this is my parting gift to you. Because you are leaving and I am passive aggressive about it, my gift is not very nice. I give you a loss, from a banged-up Michigan team, fighting hard but losing by the skin of their teeth.

But there’s one more gift, and more important – it is my best wishes to you for a successful career. Go Heiko, and we’ll always be back here at this URL when you miss us.

FLORIDA 24, MICHIGAN 21