Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Greg Frey

Wednesday Presser 10-4-17: Greg Frey

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 4th, 2017 at 6:00 PM



As far as preparation, you’ve been through Michigan State weeks before. Pretty similar?

“Yeah, you know, obviously it’s a rival game. They’re a great team, great program. You’re really focused on improving you as you go through the season so the best version of who we are shows up on Saturday. Guys have been focused and working hard.”

You look at Zach Gentry and how has he developed into a great tight end, what’s it like coaching him?

“Like anything else, you want to see players develop and attack his problems and then not only attack it but bottle up and continue to do the things he’s doing well. Zach’s been really focused, been working really hard, came off a very good summer, has started a way that we felt good and so we’re going to see how it goes the rest of the way and if he continues that journey.”

MGoQuestion: What stands out to you on film about Michigan State’s defensive line?

“Oh, very good. Active. There’s a mold to what they develop and what they do and these guys certainly fit. They’re strong inside, fast on the outside. It’s a tough, great scheme. Ranked very highly and so that stands out the most.”

Where did your tackles improve during the improvement week? What did you guys work on?

“Really the biggest thing as we went with the front, the offensive line and the tight ends, is continuing to identify potential issues. These are great coaches that we face week in and week out in the best football conference in America and so they dissect you. Whether it be a stance or leaning here or slow hands or whatever it may be and so what we try to do is identify some of those things and correct them, and if they don’t need to be corrected just continue doing them.

“But really just focusing on each individual and the role they play and how they do it and seeing if we can tweak something here, get a little more efficient there, maybe take a false step out, something like that and that’s what we’re looking for as we move through improvement week, watching film, getting ready for the game.”

[After THE JUMP: Growing Pains (non-sitcom edition)]

Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Michigan State Defense

Submitted by Ace on October 4th, 2017 at 4:01 PM

QBs missing wide open bombs vs. MSU: still a thing

There are the numbers, and then there's the eye test. By the former, Michigan State's defense has had a remarkable bounceback from last year's disaster; they're 16th in defense S&P+, fourth in rushing success rate, and have avoided giving up the big passing plays that were so common last year.

By the latter, well, this still isn't a classic Mark Dantonio defense. I've caught at least parts of every MSU game this season; in each game, they've narrowly avoided getting hit over the top with multiple big pass plays. State is still trying to figure out who to start in the secondary. Depth is thin. Walk-ons are starting.

While this team does appear ahead of last year's squad, there are holes to exploit. I rewatched MSU's loss to Notre Dame and combed through last week's win over Iowa to prepare for this post.

Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:

We used MSU's official depth chart, which held true for the first three games but should be taken with a grain of salt this week. Against Iowa, Demetrius Cooper started at SDE over Dillon Alexander, Justin Layne opened at field corner instead Josh Butler, and David Dowell took Matt Morrissey's place at free safety. MSU rotated quite a bit all around; true freshman Trey Person also got a series or two at free safety.

Base Set? 4-3 even. They'll stick with their base personnel in almost all situations. Iowa went empty a few times in this game, and while they did so with RBs and TEs on the field, that's usually what Michigan does too. MSU stayed with their base; in this screencap, the OLBs are lined up over the slots and a safety is head-up over one of the WRs to the near side:

This doesn't project to change against Michigan.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 3rd, 2017 at 8:01 AM



Khalid Hill

When did the team find out that John’s going to be starting this week?

“I mean, kind of just the way he performed last game and just waiting for Wilt to get back healthy. John performed at a level where that gives you confidence when your quarterback comes and performs, especially a second-string guy, the way he did. It gives you confidence. John’s going to hopefully do the same thing this week. I know he’s preparing to have the best game of his life.”

Does anything change with him under center, not going into specifics?

“No, not really. I think they both bring great stuff to the table. They’re similar quarterbacks. I think you can expect the same or expect better. I think he’s going to do just fine.”

As one of the team’s leaders, what do you tell the younger kids that have only played in this game once or never before?

“Just don’t get caught up in the bull. It’s a rivalry game so there’s a lot of trash talking gonna happen. A lot of stuff after the play’s gonna happen—I’m sure it will—but we’ve got to be mature and understand that, okay, somebody’s sitting on you, let it happen. Let them get the penalty, not you, so that’s one thing we kind of emphasize as leaders is if something happens and you don’t like it, coach Harbaugh always says you grab ‘em and just grab ‘em. Keep it there.”

[After THE JUMP: Lavert Hill, Mike McCray, and Mo Hurst]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 2nd, 2017 at 5:51 PM



Talk about the season Mike McCray’s having and really the career after having to bounce back from an injury-riddled start and really be one of your key players. Just talk about what he means to this team and this program.

“Elected captain by his teammates. Playing good ball. Been a sure tackler and been the quarterback of the defense—I hear it sometimes referred to a linebacker that way, signal-caller, et cetera. Just been steady. Been a real good football player.”

Opponents are averaging 3.5 points per games in the second halves of games against your defense. Talk about your staff in terms of the adjustments that they’re making in terms of what’s being thrown at them.

“Yeah, our defensive staff, led by Don Brown, they’re at the highest level in all phases, not just making adjustments at halftime. Game planning, teaching, all areas of coaching.”

What is Wilton’s status this week?

“He won’t be able to compete this week or for multiple weeks.”

Can you divulge what the nature of the injury is?

“Um…I think you can talk to Wilton about that or the doctors but yeah, he’s going to be out. John O’Korn will be the starter.”

[Hit THE JUMP to see which of Jim Harbaugh’s lists he forgot to bring to the presser]

Ticket Watch Talks Agricultural Risk Management

Ticket Watch Talks Agricultural Risk Management

Submitted by Seth on September 27th, 2017 at 7:59 AM


Why hello there, secondary ticket market. You were so dead all season we almost forgot you existed. No data changed but the date on the calendar. That was plenty: Michigan is 4-0 with a bye before Michigan State, and on Monday half the fanbase started looking for State tickets. Then they started buying up other tickets. Can you find seats? When should you buy? Let’s look where things stand, then see if history is any guide.


Yes we are still planning to launch the app that lets you buy and sell each other tickets on gameday using a map.


(click embiggens)

Tidget is in the phase now where the developers are sending a version with lots of “still working on that” and “what do you think?” flags on it to Tres and myself. By next week I want to have a version that is super-raw but ready for a couple of friends and volunteers (yes I’ve noted you guys in the comments) to go wandering around somewhere with bad reception and see if it’s working. As expected, the whole ballgame is minimal data so we’re keeping this thing light.

Reminder: if you go to (lead photo by Patrick Barron) and sign up pre-launch you get to use it for free when we do get it out there.


It’s been kind of funny watching the prices since Monday, because they started at around $250 (remember add 22% to StubHub) and they keep coming back to that price point. What I think happened is the buyers who decided to manage risk by snatching up their seats inadvertently set the market price for the week. A few tickets will go on sale for that amount, then they get bought up until it gets to $260 and stops until someone goes back under $250 again.

Here’s my advice: DON’T BUY YOUR STATE TICKET AT $250. I’ll give you my reasons:

1. Only the get-in price is up. While the get-in price has gone up, look how soft the rest of those seats are right now:


Yard line 8 weeks ago 4 weeks ago 2 weeks ago Current Face +
Midfield $540 $540 $480 $409 $470
The 35 $396 $396 $376 $350 $405
The 25 $370 $360 $333 $336 $325
Goal line $249 $243 $360 $267 $245
Endzone $249 $246 $225 $247 $164

The last column takes the personal seat donation that season ticket holders had to pay and halves it, since people who bought those were basically paying that for access to the two rivalry games. What it shows is the ONLY seat that’s tracking significantly above what the ticket holder paid for it is the “get me in the building” price.

2. There are already lot of sellers out there. Further evidence that the market is too bullish right now is how many tickets are for sale. StubHub alone shows 1,174 end zone seats alone, with over a hundred available in several sections. Cheap season ticket holders are playing the market, trying to use their State seats to pay off a chunk of the package. Dave may be gone but Michigan still outrageously gouges their season ticket buyers—the best play they have to recoup the overpriced Air Force and Cincinnati tickets is to sell off the rivalry games.

3. The buyers are out in force. We’re at a weird moment in the cycle of this game because the long-rumored night game was finally announced, sending all the excited night game aficionados to the exchanges. You know who isn’t moving yet with the announcement? The bluehairs! I remember in 2014 watching those Penn State tickets shoot up early in the year and stay in the $200s even after the team proved unwatchable. There ended up being a bunch of them selling for cheap or going for free a day before. Granted that year was not a good sample for a lot of reasons, but the bluehairs who were giving away those seats weren’t doing it for late Hoke ennui; they get talked out of driving home at 11 o’clock at night. Those seats don’t tend to show on the TicketIQs and StubHubs, but they depress the market outside of the get-in price.

4. Michigan State has to play Iowa first. While we’re on a bye, State next week hosts a team that nearly took out Penn State in East Lansing. That score (let alone the finish) was closer than the game, however, and you can never discount Iowa going full Iowa. Beating Iowa risks Spartans into a frenzied last-minute hope spree and lock in a $200-ish price. A loss shouldn’t change things because a loss is wholly expected. This is a gamble, but it’s a gamble worth taking. Notre Dame’s win in East Lansing killed off most of the outside chance of a Spartan reawakening that adds a bunch of green. Those who will come will come anyway, and there are enough of them that the get-in price won’t drop below the Face+PSD50 mark I just made up.

5. The Bye The Bye The Bye. This game is two weeks away, so speculators are making up much of the sellers while the “oh crap I have to sell these” folks haven’t begun to feel stressed about that. Unless tickets become hard to come by, the prices always float high until the Thursday or Friday before the event. At this point all of the weather events, family emergencies, and changes of heart are way off in the future—nobody has to sell a ticket right now.

6. Michigan prices play for Michigan. Okay, Mrs. Lincoln, I want you to think back before THAT and remember how hard it was to get tickets to that play in the first place. Got that in your head? Yeah, that one ended up being $200 as of the Wednesday before the game. And it was tracking similarly to this year’s prices as of two weeks out. That was when Michigan State was a perennial contender and Michigan was newly Harbaughcized. It’s not MSU fans driving the price up this year—at least not any more than they did in 2012 when their team was too hopeless to notice Michigan was rickety.

So when and how much? I’m sticking with my $160 goal to get in the endzone. Face value plus half of someone’s PSD is basically face. As for the nicer seats, they’re liable to come down some more. If you get better than $125 for any ticket to this game you ought to buy the seller a meal in gratitude.


YD line MSU @IU @PSU Ru Minn @Md @Wis OSU
Midfield $409 (-71) $72 $540 $146 (+5) $198 (nc) $115 (!) $256 $545 (+45)
The 35 $350 (-26) $55 $456 $92 (-12) $161 (+61) $122 $240 $436 (+85)
The 25 $336 (-2) $65 $395 $81 (+10) $119 (+30) $104 $230 $384 (-26)
Goal line $267 (-93) $65 $329 $49 (+2) $107 (nc) $78 $183 $305 (-55)
Endzone $247 (+23) $50 $229 $49 (+20) $95 (+30) $78 $154 $246 (+4)

That one I highlighted is only a few rows up at midfield behind the Maryland bench, but labeled “obstructed view.” Maryland people: does that just mean you can’t see over the Maryland players or something?

Since the rest of the games aren’t moving a ton (and I’m still trying to learn about Wisconsin’s market) I’ll get into the rest of the schedule next week. But quickly: Penn State buy at $150, Rutgers find outside the gate for $10 or something, Minnesota $60ish, Maryland who knows probably crap because they’re out of QBs, Wisconsin looks to be $100-$125ish, and Ohio State won’t be less than $250 until we know the exact weather.

Michigan State Game Will Kick Off At Night

Michigan State Game Will Kick Off At Night

Submitted by Ace on September 25th, 2017 at 11:21 AM

like this, but darker [Bryan Fuller]

Some long-anticipated news is finally official. The athletic department just announced taht Michigan's October 7th game against Michigan State will be the fourth night game in Michigan Stadium history:

Two years ago I would've told you to prepare your doomsday kits, but the Spartan fanbase has been rather beaten down since then. It might be worth preparing one anyway.

2017 Power 5 Preview: 33-40

2017 Power 5 Preview: 33-40

Submitted by Alex Cook on August 18th, 2017 at 2:00 PM

For 2017, instead of previewing conferences division-by-division, I decided to preview the 64 Power Five teams individually, so I ranked them and counted down from the bottom.

I created a ranking system based heavily off of Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings: half of the ranking comes from the S&P rankings from the past five seasons among Power Five teams (1/3 of that number is 2016’s ranking; 1/3 is the average from 2014-2016, 1/3 is the average from 2012-2016); half comes from two component parts of his 2017 S&P+ projections, weighed evenly – recruiting impact and returning production – and ranked 1 through 64. The ranking itself skews towards emphasizing where the teams were according the 2016 S&P+ and there’s no subjectivity involved. I think it serves as a decent way to sequence these previews.

Previously: #64 Purdue, #63 Rutgers, #62 Kansas, #61 Illinois, #60 Boston College, #59 Virginia, #58 Vanderbilt, #57 Syracuse. #56 Maryland, #55 Arizona, #54 Wake Forest, #53 Duke, #52 Iowa State, #51 Texas Tech, #50 Missouri, #49 Oregon State. #48 Arizona State, #47 Cal, #46 Indiana, #45 Kentucky, #44 West Virginia, #43 South Carolina, #42 Washington State, #41 Northwestern.

(I didn’t include Notre Dame)

40. MINNESOTAminn17

#4 Big Ten West, #8 Big Ten

9-4 (5-4) in 2016

It’s impossible to talk about Minnesota football without talking about how Tracy Claeys got fired after just one season as the head coach: he supported a player boycott in response to an investigation into appalling sexual assault allegations against members of the football team. The players wound up playing in the Holiday Bowl after threatening to sit it out; Claeys was fired after the New Year; some of the accused were expelled, some suspended, and some cleared.

PJ Fleck becomes the Gophers’ third head coach in three seasons – and it was a coup for the program to get a coaching prospect of his caliber who had been mentioned in connection with better jobs. Fleck and his energetic persona brought Western Michigan to unprecedented heights: the Broncos had an undefeated regular season in his fourth year in Kalamazoo and made the Cotton Bowl, built by a talent advantage he created by outrecruiting the rest of the MAC by a sizable margin.

He brought his offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and while the Gophers will be moving to more of a spread attack, they’ll still be running the ball a ton: RBs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks totaled 378 carries a season ago and WMU ran the ball often with zone blocking schemes with Fleck and Ciarrocca in charge, setting up favorable coverages for their All-American WR Corey Davis. Minnesota will be choosing from a number of unproven quarterbacks and their only credible WR from last season is gone. If former Ohio State OL coach Ed Warinner works his magic with a cast of inexperienced if uninspiring linemen, Smith and Brooks will be leaned on all the more heavily. Minnesota does have one of the best kickers in the country in Emmitt Carpenter.

Minnesota got to a 9-4 record last season because of its defense – they won the scandal-marred bowl game over Washington State 17-12 in stereotypical Big Ten fashion. They have Steven Richardson back, a disruptive interior linemen who had seven sacks a season ago – potentially one of the best players in the Big Ten. Additionally, LBs Jonathan Celestin and Cody Poock as well as safeties Duke McGhee and Antoine Winfield Jr. make those above-average position groups. There are some holes though: cornerback is very unsettled and the defensive line outside of Richardson looks to be rather mediocre. If the defense can replicate what they did in 2016, Minnesota could challenge for the Big Ten West – but attrition makes that unlikely.

The schedule sets up nicely for Fleck, at least to start – the toughest game in the first half of the season is either @ Oregon State or home vs. Michigan State. The stretch run is brutal, with road trips to Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern, as well as home games against Nebraska and Wisconsin – the Big Ten West frontrunner. It’s not hard to envision a team with a gaudy record, maybe even 7-0, faltering down the stretch; it’s also possible that a trip to Indianapolis could be at stake when they host the Badgers in the regular season finale.

Fleck will need to find a passing game – and the run game will have to be much better at keeping the offense on schedule. If he can cobble together a decent offense and keep the defense at a reasonably high level, they could surprise in his first year. That’s a lot to ask – they’ll probably finish near the middle of the West.

39. IOWAiowa17

#3 Big Ten West, #7 Big Ten

8-5 (6-3) in 2016

With Bob Stoops’s unexpected retirement, Kirk Ferentz is college football’s coach with the longest continuous tenure (as Bill Snyder briefly retired from his job at Kansas State). He’s entering his 19th season at Iowa; over his career, he’s posted a record of 135-92 – that would average out to 7.7 wins per 13-game season. Ferentz has had a few especially strong years – most recently in 2015, when they went undefeated through the regular season (before losing the Big Ten Championship Game and the Rose Bowl) – but most years, he’s squarely in 7-5 / 8-4 territory.

2016 was up-and-down: Iowa lost to North Dakota State (an FCS powerhouse, but still) in September and only scored 14 points in a win over Rutgers the following week; they were drubbed at Penn State and turned around to pull one of the biggest upsets of the season over then-undefeated Michigan on a last-second field goal; they crushed a 9-4 Nebraska team to close out the season and were blown out by Florida in the bowl game, 30-3.

Both halves of their RB platoon went for over 1,000 yards and had 10 rushing touchdowns each, and the passing game was mediocre, especially after the early-season injury to WR Matt VandeBerg (who took a medical redshirt). Iowa figures to rely heavily on its veteran OL – that’s particularly strong on the right side – and its RBs. LeShun Daniels is gone, but Akrum Wadley is back, and the latter showed more big-play potential than the former a year ago. The Hawkeyes also added Nevada transfer James Daniels, Nevada’s best player on offense in 2016, to the mix – whatever percentage of the carries he and Wadley each get remains to be seen, but they’ll run the ball so often that both will play prominent roles. Whoever wins the QB job (and whoever it is, they’ll be unproven) will be handing the ball off a lot.

The defense returns quite a few pieces, though they did lose star CB Desmond King and disruptive DT Jaleel Johnson. LB Josey Jewell is the best player on the defense – he’s an instinctive middle linebacker who’s stout against the run and had 124 tackles last season. The defensive line is mostly intact outside of Johnson, and Anthony Nelson has potential as a pass-rusher. The secondary looks shaky, as Brandon Snyder, an excellent safety, tore his ACL in the spring. Iowa’s defense will probably be pretty good – like it almost always is under Ferentz.

The QB situation and dearth of proven and healthy WRs are good reasons to be skeptical of Iowa’s chances of winning the West. Penn State and Ohio State come to play in Iowa City from the East in 2017, an unfortunate scheduling disadvantage. Ferentz promoted his son from OL coach to coordinator, a sign that things are unlikely to change much. Odds are that this will be a classic Ferentz team: strong running game, good defense, and seven or eight wins.

[33-38 after the JUMP]