Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines

Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines

Submitted by Brian on October 31st, 2017 at 12:22 PM

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there's an onion article about this [Patrick Barron]

Funny how that works. Brandon Peters, rumored to be aloof and disconnected, is now a Cool, Even-Keeled Leader:

"Brandon's kind of always been the same, sort of even-keeled," senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said after Saturday's game.

"It's just Brandon. I don't think he gets too high or too low, and I think that's a good thing to have when you're a quarterback."

He is also studious and paying attention.

"He's been preparing since camp," Gary said. "I walk by the quarterback room, I peep in just to mess with him. He's in his books and he's paying attention.

"Just how he prepared, I knew when he got his chance he was going to do what he did (Saturday)."

After he throws an interception he will return to being aloof and disconnected, and then he will throw a touchdown with a steely nervelessness, and then he will take a sack because of the crushing ennui he endures in his day to day life, and then he'll have a third down conversion that shows mankind is doomed because robotkind is superior. Looking forward to it. Except for the part with the interception.

Congratulations to men's soccer. They're the Big Ten champs after a barn-burning final day that saw Michigan pass three other teams, including their opponent Maryland, with this double OT(!) Francis Atuahene goal:

They had four wins last year. Quite a turnaround for Chaka Daley. Michigan is 12th in the NCAA's version of RPI for soccer and might be in line for a first-round bye in the 48-team College Cup, depending on how the Big Ten Tournament goes. They will host Northwestern or Rutgers in a first-round game Sunday at 1 PM.

Michigan Soccer Now has more details; if you care about UM soccer at all you should be following them. Also here is the Daily's Kevin Santo:

Billy Stevens still hadn’t let go of the trophy.

Not when he got on the bus to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Not when he landed in Detroit. Not for the bus ride back to Ann Arbor, either. He said he couldn’t let it out of his sight.

And really, can you blame him?

A steady, sustainable uptick. BISB's been unable to Opponent Watch because sometimes his job strangles him by the throat but he did put together this little, encouraging graph of Michigan's line yards this year:

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At this point it's more about maintaining that number than continuing to improve it. Last year's #1 team in line yards was somehow UNLV with 3.8. Michigan is approaching an effective maximum. Michigan's surge has taken their rushing game up to 21st in S&P+, so Michigan now has three good to very good aspects (rush offense, rush and pass defense) and one terrible one (pass offense). The PSU game knocked Michigan's defense out of the top ten; they're now 15th.

Is there a Haters Gonna Hate ladder? This guy is in strong contention for greatest hater in the world:

"I tolerate everything except racists and Tom Brady" is strong work.

Exit Jim McElwain. I have never had a better take than "Jim McElwain's response to the shark thing proves he's going to fail." That is right up at the top of the Takes Nobody Talks About Because They Are Correct Board for one Brian Cook. McElwain failed and is now fired. Spencer:

Categorically, the best McElwain seemed capable of was mediocrity. That mediocrity came at a time when his competition locally was as weak as it could be, and when the University was more willing than ever to spend on facilities, brand-building, and all the other accessories needed to keep a program competitive and happy. Unlike his predecessor Will Muschamp, he got free rein in hiring the staff he wanted to hire. Unlike his predecessor, he had actual head coaching experience coming into the job. Unlike Muschamp, McElwain won the SEC East, and did it two years in a row despite losing a starting quarterback to injury in both seasons.

May the football gods be kind to Spencer and bestow him with Jeff Brohm.

The Purdue situation. You've probably already seen this but in case you haven't, Angelique Chengelis talked with Wilton Speight's father about what happened after Speight's frightening injury against Purdue:

“What an absolute train wreck,” Bobby Speight said of the experience. ...

“We take off with no escort,” Bobby Speight said. “We can’t get through because there are barricades up and (the van driver is) directing people to move them.”

They reached the Purdue University Student Health Center and headed downstairs.

“They take us in the basement,” Bobby Speight said. “It’s very dimly lit. Halfway down the hall, there’s a (radiology) technician. Wilton is in (partial) uniform and still wearing cleats, and she asks Wilton his name. The (van driver) says he needs an X-ray. (The technician) looks at me and says, ‘I need your insurance card.’”

Harbaugh's been to Purdue before. He couldn't have been surprised by what he found, probably because it was exactly what he saw back in the 1980s. He was clearly cheesed by the ham-handed response to the Speight injury, and used that as a platform to talk about the beyond-gamesmanship visiting locker rooms in West Lafayette.

Hockey continues recruiting. Three recent commitments of note. One is 1997 Jimmy Lambert, who will arrive in Michigan at 21. Usually this means a guy heading for the checking line but one of the scouting services thinks otherwise:

Lambert was supposed to head to Alaska Fairbanks this fall but changed direction after a coaching change. He had a PPG in the offense-mad BCHL as an overager last year and usually that means bottom six—Dakota Raabe is the same age and had a PPG last year—but I guess maybe not? I don't know.

On the other end of the spectrum, 2002 Cole Perfetti is a 15-year-old currently projected in the 2020 class who just committed. One OHL scouting service has him the #6 guy available for this year's edition of the OHL draft because he's a "shifty skater with extraordinary playmaking vision." (Commit Antonio Stranges, an "electric skater with game breaking one-on-one play" is #4, FWIW.) Also:

The "if" there is real, as any Michigan hockey fan knows.

Finally, Michigan picked up Jeff Cox's #1 uncommitted guy from one of the various youth tourneys he attends:

1. Joshua Groll
#52 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 8/9/01, Shoots Left, 5-9/155

Groll was the best forward here. He has good speed, but he plays a smart and complete game. He has a sneaky release and is able to get a lot of shots off by being around and possessing the puck a lot. His puck support is strong and he makes plays.

Michigan now has a whopping 25 commits across four recruiting classes, 16 of them in the four months since Mel was hire. Eleven of them are tentatively slated to enter next year. Michigan loses six seniors, and probably only four guys pulling significant scholarship money (Niko Porikos and Alex Roos probably aren't getting much.) Attrition is always looming, and I'm sure Michigan has an understanding with a couple of kids who might get pushed out a year. That's still a lot of guys to cram in.

Trying to optimize a hockey roster without screwing someone over seems like the most difficult logistical challenge in the world today. Good luck.

Etc.: Clownshoes NCAA, take a number. Symbolic hats and the playoff. Higdon stuff. Questions about basketball.

One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst

One-Play One-on-One: Maurice Hurst

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 3rd, 2017 at 4:07 PM

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[Fuller]

One of the more difficult aspects of preparing for these one-on-ones is finding a play where there’s enough to go through that a natural set of questions emerges; without multiple questions, these interviews would just be “whoa dang,” “yep,” fin. It’s always worth going through the entire game to make sure the right play wasn’t overlooked in favor of the one that stood out on the stat sheet. That said, we’re all human, and sometimes we get caught in the tractor beam that is talking about the “whoa dang” play. This is one of those times.

What are some of the differences between playing defensive line and playing the line on punt return?

“I think on punt return you kind of just get a running start for things. You’re not really keying a guy for the most part. And especially when we’re in our safe punt formation, more so just to fair catch a ball and not trying to do anything intricate with a return.”

On this particular play, did you expect that guy lined up a little outside of you to at least chip you as he releases?

“Yeah.” [laughs] “I think that’s normally what they want to get done and he ended up doing that and I was able to run free for the most part.”

Once he does get past you and see the open field in front of you, what else are you seeing?

“I’m just seeing the punter and their shield guy and I know from previous years that a lot of the times that we’re in our safe punt you try to blow up the shield guy, and that’s what I did on that play.”

With that shield guy, what are you thinking when you see that he starts to drop his shoulder and break down?

“Just to run over him.”

After you have that collision did you think about doing the belly rub or is that reserved just for sacks and tackles for loss?

“That’s just for sacks and tackles for loss.”

I gotcha. Not a special teams thing.

“Yeah.” [laughs]

[Ed. A- Props to Gfycat for coincidentally nailing the naming of this GIF. (Open in a new tab if you’re curious.)]

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Submitted by Brian on October 2nd, 2017 at 12:47 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. You know one thing I appreciate about HomeSure Lending is that Matt is not a song designed to draw the attention of a child, and has never gotten stuck in my head for days on end, relating banal facts about the world around me. This may be happening to my brain right now, and is not a very good advertisement.

If you'd like to think about something other than washing your hands for once in your life you could call Matt and get some quotes for a home loan. The problem with this strategy is that Matt will get you your quotes so quickly that your respite will be brief. But then you can talk to him about football, which helps.

FORMATION NOTES. Nothing particularly unusual except for one tackle over play that was a waggle pass to Poggi. Purdue alternated between a 3-4 and 4-3 front but was also not weird in any significant way.

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SUBSTITUTION NOTES. OL was standard save for a healthy number of Runyan snaps at right guard; after the game Harbaugh said those were more about Onwenu's endurance than his performance. Speight got the first three drives and was knocked out before the fourth, whereupon O'Korn came in. Brandon Peters got the final, uncharted drive.

Isaac was limited with a ding sustained late in the Air Force game, so Higdon got a plurality of the work until his fumble. Evans got most of the carries after that. Kareem Walker saw his first live action late. Fullbacks were the usual rotation between the seniors with one snap for Mason.

With Black out it was Nate Schoenle and Grant Perry who got most of the additional snaps. Perry played both inside and out in this game; DPJ got his fair share but didn't get targeted as much as many folks want. Crawford was still the most-heavily deployed WR. TE saw McKeon and Gentry get almost all of the targets and a clear edge in snaps. For Ty Wheatley that means he's playing with a cast on his hand; for Ian Bunting that is bad news. Eubanks got scattered snaps as well.

[After THE JUMP: my kingdom for an offensive line.]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 29th, 2017 at 12:35 PM

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in need of a prospecting name [Fuller]

Formation/Substitution notes: Only change of note is subbing Kekoa Crawford out for Ambry Thomas on kick return. Crawford was the deep man for the first two returns of the game, both of which went out of the end zone. Michigan then inserted Thomas to start the third quarter. Timing is a bit odd considering Crawford didn’t have a shot to return the first two kicks before ceding his spot, but there’s a chance he can earn it back considering how the third-quarter return went. More on that later.

It’s not a substitution, but Brad Robbins’ redshirt is gone and Will Hart’s on the bench. Robbins did an excellent job getting distance and hangtime on his punts. It’s hard to tell whether they just drifted or were intentional, but it seems more likely that Robbins executed two directional kicks—Hart’s bête noire—in the second half. All told, it was an excellent debut for the touted freshman.

Other than that, Michigan would often hold three guys in a zone short of the sticks on punts. This was a smart decision and likely something Michigan picked up on film, as Purdue was frequently motioning out one of the members of the shield wide. The only all-out rushes were when Purdue was punting from inside their 10-yard line. They also went safe on Purdue’s lone field goal.

vlc record 2017 09 28 09h37m05s Michigan vs Purdue 1st Half mp4   YouTube

Makes perfect sense considering Purdue’s Brohminess and where the ball is located.

[After THE JUMP: Robbins’ new gig; roughing vs running into the kicker; and Foug, god of hangtime, ruler of return teams]

Monday Presser 9-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 25th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

Do you have an update on Wilton [Speight] and his condition?

“If we were playing a game this week he wouldn’t be able to play and we’ll assess it as we go.

“Somebody asked me—Angelique?—what I thought of the play. After having seen it now, I thought it was egregious. If I had a stronger word to use I would use it. With all the emphasis on protecting defenseless players, it appeared that the player knew what he was doing, targeted the head and neck area when the player was on the ground, and accelerated into it. Surprised they had two officials standing back there that were both looking at it, plus a review in the press box, that that wasn’t a targeting, that wasn’t a personal foul.”

Is that something that you contact the Big Ten about? There were other hits in that game, too.

“Yeah, yeah. We will contact them.”

What do you get when you do contact them?

“You get a piece of paper back that says they agree or disagree and has a short explanation.”

So it doesn’t really solve anything.

“With all the emphasis that’s been placed on the safety of the game, et cetera, I think it needs to be addressed. Needs to be answered.

“And the other thing, in a very good spirited way, we are gonna look at everything we can do for the visiting team here at the University of Michigan as it relates to a standard of care for the visitors on multiple levels. It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools over the last couple years that [there is] a conscious effort of gamesmanship that is unsportsmanlike. You have locker rooms that are too small; they’re not heated or cooled properly—in this case there’s no air conditioning; such a tight, cramped environment; you’ve got to open the doors to get some kind of ventilation going in a very small area; people are walking by, they’re watching you dress; a number of urinals or bathrooms for the players and staff, I think there was two; there’s not even a private door around it; and then mainly the health and safety of the players. Very small space for a training room to have nothing in it. This is no different than the facility I think I saw when I was there in 1986.

“And not putting this on Purdue, this is league-wide. It needs to be addressed by the league, by the commissioner, and we’re going to lead the way. We’re going to look at what we have, but there needs to be a way to x-ray a player at the stadium. There needs to be a minimum standard of care for the players. Again, we put a lot of emphasis into health and safety of the players, but it doesn’t even seem sanitary. You were all in there. We’ve already talked about the heat, and it seems to be a conscious effort to gamesmanship, to get an advantage over the opponent.

“And I wish I had taken a picture of the actual table that it given to the visitors to put the players on when they’re injured. I mean, it looks like it’s from the ‘20s. It was ripped, it was—it’s just not good. I think that’s a pattern in the Big Ten. I asked Don Brown, ‘Did you see the same thing in the ACC?’ ‘Not to this extent.’ Did not see it to this extent in the Pac 12 when we coached there, and you could keep going on. Injured players who can’t get an x-ray, taken to a student health center in a van, we needed a brace for a player and there wasn’t one at the facility we were taken to. There’s a lot of things that needs to be addressed.

“Talked to Warde [Maneul] about it and I would ask that the rest of the Big Ten coaches look into this as well and make this a priority. We’re talking about all of our players here, and we’ll start first with us and make sure that you have guests, you have visitors that are coming in, that their health and safety needs are being addressed.”

[After THE JUMP: “Gamesmanship should cease at… the point of health and safety for the players.”]

Superhero Origin Story

Superhero Origin Story

Submitted by Brian on September 25th, 2017 at 1:52 PM

9/23/2017 – Michigan 28, Purdue 10 – 4-0, 1-0 Big Ten

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POW! WHAP! [Bryan Fuller]

That has never happened before. Never in the 200-year history of the University of Michigan has a person done something so very badly for three hours, and then emerged some time later doing the same thing so well. James Earl Jones never sounded like a pimple-faced teenager. Lawrence Kasdan did not write Happy Gilmore before Empire Strikes Back. Gerald Ford was not also Dick Nixon. HH Holmes did not accidentally build a Mildly Annoying Castle.

When you progress, it is gradually, not all at once. And maybe John O'Korn has done that, away from the glare of the public. Maybe last year's Indiana game was an outlier amongst all of O'Korn's throws since he lost the starting job at Houston. Maybe we are have too little data and are making it big.

Or maybe dude got bit by a radioactive spider. Maybe he spent the offseason creating a powerful electromagnet that works on leather. Maybe he did a bunch of cool ninja stuff in the Himalayas and then brooded in a cave a bunch. Maybe there's about to be a bunch of John O'Korn sequels and reboots and superfriends movies.

Whatever it is, take it and run.

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

Because I am a Michigan fan I can think of players that went the other way, mostly because of Brady Hoke. Blake Countess was asked to go from a zone corner to a man corner, guided by a linebacker who'd never coached DBs. He went from an All Big Ten player to Will Fuller toast. Devin Gardner's thrilling debut as #98 against the Irish was matched only by his performance in the 42-41 barnburner against OSU; in between he was a battered shell of himself.

No one has gone the right way so suddenly and dramatically. Nick Sheridan's blip against Minnesota is probably the closest thing, but that was clearly a blip at the time. O'Korn's eventually-confident performance against Purdue looks much more sustainable.

Gone was the Madden infinite dropback disease, except once when it made sense on the Gentry touchdown. Early, rough attempts to break the pocket seemed like an inability to read what was in front of him until he spectacularly avoided a sack, formed up, and found Grant Perry over the middle:

This was the moment when it was clear Indiana 2.0 was not happening. O'Korn saw he had nothing to the outside and decided on another plan despite the likelihood someone was going to annihilate him from behind. It was a remarkably aware, mature play for a guy we last saw completing twenty-yard passes that were somehow at the line of scrimmage.

O'Korn would execute two other improvisational plays when his protection broke down, and on one scramble he dodged a tackler before plowing over another one for a first down. Michigan twitter cried out in unison on this run, because they were suddenly terrified of losing him.

When executing within the confines of the offense O'Korn was just as good, hitting a couple of deep shots to his tight ends and checking down when that was appropriate. Errors were acceptably few and mostly benign; even the interception was the kind of throw that ends up a tough catch or incomplete 9 of 10 times. The stats are in line with the performance: 18 of 26 for 270 yards, little of it cheap.

If you're not gob-smacked you're not paying attention. I don't know how or why, I only know what. And what I saw Saturday was a new starting quarterback emerging from a lagoon of nuclear slime, or being rebuilt out of old Soviet tanks, or finishing up a montage set to "Take It To The Limit."

Is it a mirage? Possibly. Will our new hero run out of spinach and flag alarmingly? Almost certainly at some point, yes. Is there anything to do but forge ahead and hope the new guy wasn't constructed of baling wire and North Korean electronics? No. So here we go, Mr. O'Korn. It's your show now.

[After THE JUMP: Devin the destroyer... but where are the bucket hats]

MGoPodcast 9.4: Pogs Tackles

MGoPodcast 9.4: Pogs Tackles

Submitted by Seth on September 25th, 2017 at 7:48 AM

1 hour and 18 minutes

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[Bryan Fuller]

We recorded this podcast once again at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown. Their rooms for the remaining home games are booking up very quickly so get on that or wind up staying somewhere where the closest thing in walking distance is a Burger King.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be talking to ourselves.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: Peak Wealth Management, Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,, Human Element, DEO Bookkeeping, and Lantana Hummus

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

1. The Offense

starts at 1:00

We welcome our new version of John O’Korn overlords. All hail the practice hype. Especially nice that we don’t have to worry what happened to Brandon Peters anymore. Throw the ball to Perry and the tight ends: easy. Chris Evans also took back his job. Offensive line…that’s a discussion.

2. The Defense

starts at 23:06

We welcome back our Don Brown overlords. We’re not allowed to sacrifice unto linebacking god Devin Bush until we have properly performed the ritual reading of Purdue’s second half drives. Praise also unto the secondary, McCray for not getting edged in this game, and even the refs, if backhandedly.

3. Special Teams and Game Theory

starts at 37:27

Brad Robbins has a prospectin’ name: Ol’ Quinn Nordin. Long speculation on the maximum number of players Michigan can reasonably have in the box score wearing number three. Also Brad Robbins has the punting job. Purdue’s punter erased DPJ. Crawford kickoff grumblin.

4. Talking Big Ten with Jamie Mac

starts at 48:20

Just Ace and Jamie since sick Brian was done being a jackhammer. What happens in a game versus Vegas hopefully stays in Vegas. What happens at night in Kinnick fortunately stays there too. Maryland on its fourteenth starting quarterback in six years loses to Scott Frost, who’s going to have a better job than UCF next year. Speaking of, Nebraska is horrible. Michigan State nearly loses their quarterback in a valiant attempt to win with dignity. Blocky-catchy offense FTW!

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

MUSIC:

“Freak on a Leash”—Korn

“Domesticated Animals”—Queens of the Stone Age

“Vinca Rosea”—MF Doom

“Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

Photos from Michigan vs. Purdue

Photos from Michigan vs. Purdue

Submitted by Eric on September 24th, 2017 at 2:25 PM

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Chris Evans scores to put the game away (Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)

 

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Chase Winovich had 6 tackles, 3 of which were sacks. Side note, that official may be a Purdue fan. (Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog)

 

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Zach Gentry dives in to the endzone for Michigan's first TD of the game. (Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog)

 

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Two thumbs up for John O'Korn yesterday. (Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog)


 

Full Galleries

Eric Upchurch

 

 

 

 

 

Bryan Fuller

 

Purdue Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Purdue Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 24th, 2017 at 12:06 PM

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[Fuller]

“No air conditioning in this locker room.”

[Ed. A- This presser took place in the back corner of a room adjacent to the sweltering visitor’s locker room]

Was that done on purpose or—

[Smirks] “There just wasn’t.”

How’s Wilton [Speight] doing?

“I think it’s—I don’t think it’s anything structural. I think it’s soft tissue. We’ll find out more.”

Where?

“Yeah, he’s just working through something. Yeah.”

Can you tell us where?

“Nah, nah. I’ll let you know when I have more information.”

Wilton going down was unfortunate but then John O’Korn came in. This was the biggest crowd Purdue’s had in over a decade. Hostile environment with a lot of pressure in his face today, he made a lot of third-down conversions, throws on the money. What did you think about his performance physically and mentally today?

“I thought John was really playing great. He was seeing things really good right from the time that he came into the ballgame. Ran the offense well. Made big plays. Throw that he hit Gentry on the seam route down the middle, that was a big-time throw. And he had others. I thought he played great. I’m really proud of him. Proud of the whole team. As you say, when you go beat another man, gotta do that in a football game. Then you’ve got to go against the crowd, as you mentioned, and you’ve got to beat the elements. Nothing can make you feel more like a man than that, all three of those things.”

[After THE JUMP: halftime adjustments, O’Korn’s day, and what Harbaugh learned about his team in the crucible of Ross-Ade]