I Ate My Own Heart Out Of Contempt For Your Feebleness

I Ate My Own Heart Out Of Contempt For Your Feebleness Comment Count

Brian September 24th, 2018 at 1:16 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

9/22/2018 – Michigan 56, Nebraska 10 – 3-1, 1-0 Big Ten

In the aftermath of an implausible beatdown there is always a race to identify the most emblematic stat of the day. I have participated. I have scoured the box score. I have consulted with the learned elders. This one takes the cake. Prepare thyself. Ensconce. All right: Adrian Martinez had 22 passing yards with a long of 32.

You rn:

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Those 32 yards came when a hunted Martinez hurled a 500 ball skyward that one of his receivers was accidentally in position to come back to. Michigan was one arm punt away from a statistic that would implode the fundamental nature of football. Alas.

At least they won? And Martinez finished with negative total yards?

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

The strangest thing about a game like this is how the goalposts move in the middle of the first quarter. If Nebraska had been moderately feisty and the defensive tackles had been a major factor in a 3.0 YPC day from the Cornhusker ground game, we'd be talking about how they passed a major test against a couple of senior guards who Big Ten coaches thought were pretty good. Instead Michigan held Nebraska's top three backs to ten yards total.

Nebraska now proves nothing. It might prove something later, if the tough-luck Nebraska that outgained Colorado by 150 yards but conspired to lose thanks to Laviska Shenault making absurd plays re-emerges. If Michigan also continues looking like a juggernaut instead of the sad mess that took on Notre Dame, this game will be retroactively upgraded from "accidentally played another MAC team" to the turning point when the Warinner hit and the corner got turned.

For now this was the sort of game where your sack celebration is ripping out and eating your own heart, because nothing else is going to be a challenge.

Precisely calibrating exactly how much to take from an unexpected hamblasting of a Big Ten team is far more pleasant than many things you can do after a football game. But we have been here before. With the exception of last year Harbaugh's Michigan teams have paved lower-tier teams flat. This is good! This tends to fling you up very far in predictive ranking systems. Michigan is now 5th in S&P+, like they seemingly always are, and S&P+ is designed to tell you who will win football games in the future. Paving people flat is a characteristic of very good football teams that win many games and leave you with a rich satisfied feeling that we are assured is something football fans can feel after the conclusion of a season.

But because of Certain Events and Certain Circumstances Leading To Third-String Quarterbacks all that feels hollow even if you're gripping onto the random, bloody-minded universe theory with everything you've got. We've been taught that paving folks doesn't correlate with winning the games that might cause the most annoying people in the universe to shut up for at least three seconds. That's not rational, but it sure as hell is sports.

The goalposts are going to keep moving until someone, probably Devin Bush, tackles them and glues them to the floor. Michigan has one more friendly double-digit spread next week against Northwestern, and then we get to play the games that will determine your state of mind, and, perhaps most importantly, the tenor of the takes we will have to endure for eight months of barren, dumb offseason.

Have fun storming the castle! Or paving it! Please pave it.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Upchurch]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Devin Bush. Bush's main accomplishment was getting up to nine tackles on a day where Michigan's constant rotation and Nebraska's inability to stay on the field spread defensive stats incredibly thin. Michigan's next highest tackler had four; 12 different guys had TFLs. Bush had 2.5 of his own, a sack, and got sideline to sideline to blow up Nebraska's perimeter run game. He is reaching the Mo Hurst level where he is so consistently excellent it's hard to find new talking points about him.

#2 Rashan Gary. Just a half of play from him but it was a monster half. He's got his own section below. Felt terrifying in the way we were hoping he would before the season.

#3 Karan Higdon. The holes were there for him. He took advantage. His power was welcome after some YAC struggles last week, and if he hits the open field he'll outrun a lot of angles. Also he was the only offensive player to, like, feature.

Honorable mention: Will Hart is gonna get on the board if Michigan ever punts six times in a game. DPJ had a punt return TD. The tackles didn't give up a pressure? Is that true? I think it might be. The 10 guys with TFLs not mentioned.

KFaTAotW Standings.

4: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU), Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska)
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU), Zach Gentry(T1 SMU), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU).
1: Devin Bush(#3 ND), Shea Patterson(#3 WMU)

Who's Got It Better Than Us(?) Of The Week

You gotta put some style points on it.

Honorable mention: The first half.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Khaleke Hudson is ejected on a dubious targeting call and will miss the first half against Northwestern.

Honorable mention: Injury worries for Gary, who was holding his shoulder, and Kwity Paye. Harbaugh passes on a potential program-record field goal. Four commercial breaks in the first eight minutes of gametime.

[After THE JUMP: Ol' Murderback]

Comments

Michigan 56, Nebraska 10

Michigan 56, Nebraska 10 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 22nd, 2018 at 5:07 PM

[Upchurch]

On a day that featured the actualization of the Platonic ideal of a Harbaugh-led offense, a legitimate argument can be made for the defense being the most impressive unit on the field. In other words, Scott Frost, so used to disputed titles, couldn't even find one phase of the game to hang his hat on. Michigan outrushed, outpassed, and, yes, outhit Nebraska en route to their most complete game of the young season.

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Tuesday Pressers 9-18-18: Players

Tuesday Pressers 9-18-18: Players Comment Count

Ethan Sears September 18th, 2018 at 10:36 PM

Things discussed

  • Shea Patterson on his own development
  • Patterson's relationship with Harbaugh, why he feels comfortable at Michigan
  • Ben Mason: Football Guy
  • Ben VanSumeren is getting linebacker reps
  • Karan Higdon and Chris Evans injury updates

[After THE JUMP: We've got a packed one today, folks]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs WMU

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs WMU Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2018 at 4:24 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

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SPONSOR NOTE: HomeSure Lending will provide you a mortgage. It's a simple process, really: some tax returns, maybe some other stuff, and then Matt works with various lenders to get the best deal. It is a quick process, as well, and one where you know the guy providing your mortgage has your best interests at heart because he gets business through word of mouth and MGoBlog advertising. Also he has opinions you can talk about related to Michigan in down times.

FORMATION NOTES: About 50/50 between shotgun and other stuff, with an emphasis on TEs and WRs—just 12 fullback snaps for Mason. Nothing stood out as unusual. WMU responded with a four-man front on every play and some rolled up safeties... sometimes absurdly so.

This was less of a problem for the run game than you'd think but RBs did have to dodge these guys at the line from time to time. The flipside was the Nico Collins touchdown, which was super easy because a safety lined up at eight yards.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Same OL as the opener. Second team was Mayfield/Filiaga/Spanellis/Honigford/Hudson. QBs went Patterson, McCaffrey, Peters. Higdon and Evans got closer to equal reps with Wilson indeed the #3. WR rotation was pretty much the same as the opener, with DPJ and Collins clear-ish starters on the outside and Martin the only guy rotating in much. TEs were the same.

Muhammad, Schoonmaker, Turner, Milton, and Hayes not getting in strongly implies redshirts are coming for them.

[After THE JUMP: I am down with the G]

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Western Michigan Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Western Michigan Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Ethan Sears September 8th, 2018 at 10:03 PM

Things Discussed

  • The offensive line played well
  • Some insight into Shea Patterson's performance
  • Injury updates on Aubrey Solomon and Lawrence Marshall
  • A special teams question!

[After THE JUMP: Shea Patterson hype, except it actually happened in a game]

Comments

Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends

Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2018 at 1:59 PM

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver.

Depth Chart

Fullback Yr. H-back Yr. Tight End Yr. Flex Yr.
Ben Mason So. Ben VanSumeren Fr. Sean McKeon So.* Zach Gentry Jr.*
Jared Wangler Sr.* ---- Fr. Zach Gentry Jr.* Nick Eubanks So.*
Ben VanSumeren Fr. ---- Fr. Luke Schoonmaker Fr. Mustapha Muhammad Fr.

Given the situation at quarterback Michigan is unlikely to reprise their approach for most of the second half of the schedule, which surely pleased Bo and every other three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-guts devotee watching:

FORMATION NOTES. Hello, manball. Michigan's approach in this game was downright neolithic, featuring 32 snaps with one or zero WRs. Feel the Harbaugh goodness as Michigan goes with a goal line set on first and ten on their own 34 (the "WR" is Gentry and he will motion to a TE spot presnap):

image

Michigan did suffer to allow two wide receivers on the field 22 times; three WRs managed to get out there on 14 snaps.

But you know Harbaugh wants to. Probably not enough to do it... much. But if you're telling me he's got two returning starters at TE with NFL upside and a third guy who ran past the Florida secondary last year and he's not going to do it at all, well, sir. I disagree.

And now it's time for...

ANNUAL EXPLANATION OF THE FINE GRADATIONS OF BLOCKY/CATCHY

A few years ago we split tight ends from the WR post and fullbacks from the RB post, figuring that under Brady Hoke there would be enough of them to warrant it. We even split guys into various categories because a tight end is not just a tight end. Then Jim Harbaugh came in. After an internal struggle this site has decided not to split each one of these columns into its own post, but it was a near thing. Those columns are:

  • FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head who runs into linebackers, gets two 50 carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley, Sione Houma.
  • H-BACK: A "move" tight end who motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea, Khalid Hill.
  • TIGHT END: Larger than the H-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: AJ Williams, Jerame Tuman.
  • FLEX: Big enough to play on the end of the line credibly. Agile enough to play H-back credibly. Not great at either. Capable of splitting out wide and threatening the secondary. Sacrifices some blocking for explosiveness. Can be a prime receiving threat. See: Jake Butt.

And of course many of these people bleed into other categories. Think of these position designations as Gaussian distributions in close proximity to each other.

TIGHT END AND FLEX: HOW FAST DOES THIS BATTLESHIP GO ANYWAY

RATING: 5

Last year's preview threw all available guys in more or less the same bin and then selected Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley Jr out of that bin as the nominal starters. Nope and nope: both guys got scattered snaps as the younger generation pushed through. Now both Bunting and Wheatley have read the writing on the wall and lit out for greener pastures, leaving Michigan's tight end corps somewhat thinly populated.

But hoo boy the remaining villagers could really be something. ZACH GENTRY is the headliner despite a bit less playing time than his compatriot. This is because Gentry is a 6'8" guy who was Michigan's fastest and most agile tight end in last year's team combine. As Jay Harbaugh put it when they moved him late in his freshman year:

"He's got what we call a 'dominant trait.' He's super fast and super tall and has very good hands. He has something naturally that gives him a chance to beat everybody as a route-runner.

He only got to show his dominance sporadically due to the environment around him, finishing with 17 catches. But his per-target numbers are flatly unbelievable in context even if they are a small sample size: 17.8 yards a reception. 11.7 yards per target(!!!), a 65% catch rate and zero catches that did not move the chains or improve Michigan's chance of doing so on a subsequent down. Michigan's next-best YPT receiver who got the whole QB smorgasbord was Kekoa Crawford at 7.2. And that sample size would have been larger in--all together now--better circumstances:

Gentry is a giant man and delivers on his height. He's capable of plucking balls out of the air that are well outside his frame and when Purdue went cover zero he demonstrated excellent body control to punish that decision:

As safety blankets go, the dude nearly a foot taller than most defensive backs and much faster than most linebackers is a quality option. And he is on another level athletically from most of the front seven guys who could deign to cover him.

That tall guy seems like a good person to throw to since he's the closest thing to an imaginary eleven-foot tall person we have.

Yeah, Zach Gentry started going from potential to production in this game. His big catch and run was a great route that suckered a linebacker outside and opened up that YAC:

83, TE to top of line

That is exactly what Michigan was hoping for when the moved him there. That throw's a bit high, except Gentry is 6'7". Also he dusted a guy and ate up 20 yards after the catch.

And if Michigan wants to get weird, Gentry has flashed the ability to hack it on the outside.

WR #83 top of screen

What he hasn't done so far is high-point the ball over two-to-seven helpless defensive backs, a la former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki. This has been entirely due to a lack of opportunity. I charted Gentry with one drop on 13 routine opportunities last year; more telling was a lack of non-routine shots. He had just one opportunity at a moderately difficult catch (which he made); I put those in a bin labeled "2" and they encompass almost all of the things that a pogo-stick giant should be doing downfield. There were only two circus opportunities, and sometimes pogo-stick shots downfield should land there, as well.

Gentry was not Gesicki by any stretch of the imagination, but largely because Michigan didn't give him the opportunity to be Gesicki. Again, offense bad sad emoji etc etc. In a functional offense with a fade machine quarterback, Gentry could blow up. Should blow up.

Gentry's blocking was meh but not a disaster. PFF had him about 200th of ~300 qualifying tight ends but I'm pretty sure they grade like me and those numbers aren't necessarily adjusted for individual "strength of schedule." So he's probably not worse than whatever MAC tight ends he's behind, he's just playing tougher opposition. And Gentry's issues were at least half mental issues that generally come with being a guy getting his first playing time. When he was on the right page he did well:

#83 TE to bottom

He was fairly regularly able to get under not-so-good players and drive them:

TE #83 to bottom of line

His athleticism allowed him to stay coiled and not expose his height unduly; sometimes he flat-out drove his (again, pretty bad) opposition:

#83 TE to bottom

Gentry was generally able to control Big Ten LBs and weakside ends; it was only when circumstances forced him into trying to control a Big Boy that his lankiness worked against him. Here he catches an MSU DT and suddenly looks like a 6'8" TE trying to survive:

#83 TE to bottom of line

When he set up in-line and took a thunk from a DL who knew what was coming he'd give some ground but he'd usually stay attached and fight his way through it. When able to take on someone in his weight class things went well, for the most part. And even when he took on a Big Boy if he was able to surprise him he delivered a blow.

#83 TE motioning to top of formation

He pancaked a DE once! A Rutgers DE. But still! Seriously, by Wisconsin he was capable of legitimately impressive moments:

#83 TE to bottom of line

That is palpable movement on a DE and then a TJ Edwards pancake. Was that consistent? No. Was it there? Yes. What's more important for Michigan going forward are not the 2017 results, which did indeed top out at "eh"--he was 55% in UFR charting--but the approach. Gentry was a very willing blocker, one who got results when he got the call right and wasn't placed in an adverse situations. PFF had him one of Michigan's best offensive players against the Badgers and 24/7 noted that three of his four highest grades had come in the run-up to The Game. He improved greatly over the course of the season.

A year of experience and 15 extra pounds should improve his output further, and this will give Michigan a dual threat that someone like Mike Gesicki did not provide. Now just go be Gesicki when the ball is in the air and we're cooking. Survey says: maybe!

[After THE JUMP: tbh probably Michigan's best tight end]

Comments

UNVERIFIED VORACITY THINKS THIS IS AN INDOOR VOICE

UNVERIFIED VORACITY THINKS THIS IS AN INDOOR VOICE Comment Count

Brian June 11th, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Dives. Washtenaw County dive bars surveyed. Self-recommending header picture is above. Also:

It turned out that the day that worked best for us to embark on the trip was a random Tuesday at the end of May. “Are dive bars open on Tuesdays?” I texted my friend. “They are if they want to be considered BEST OF WASHTENAW COUNTY,” he responded.

The penguin is in Saline, FWIW.

I guess this is all but official? We've been waiting for an official confirmation, or at least more than one person reporting, on this for a while now:

As a result we haven't talked about a piece of news since we were waiting to post their respective Exits. /shakes fist at transfer gray areas

Assuming this turns out to be true—and given the way Harbaugh has talked about the RB and WR groups since spring it's almost certainly true—that's two highly ranked guys out the door. Crawford's departure is probably the result of a plunge down the depth chart that saw him omitted from any spring discussion; that plunge down the depth chart is not a surprise given his flatly terrible play in 2017.

Walker flashed promise as a Brandon Minor-esque rage back in limited carries last year and would be an unfortunate loss. He'd publicly struggled with the transition to Michigan but seemed to get things on track last year; it would be really disappointing if he couldn't manage it, and Michigan could help him enough to do so.

Neither departure is likely to have much impact on the field this year; Michigan returns its top two backs and every WR outside of Crawford. Walker's presumed absence could bite next year.

FWIW, I wouldn't start getting worried about O'Maury Samuels yet. Harbaugh's mention of Tru Wilson as the #3 guy on the depth chart was immediately followed by a Samuels mention and a reference to his hamstring holding him back this spring. Meeanwhile, the WRs:

"I feel like our wide receivers have come along," Harbaugh told reporters during the 'Best of the Midwest' event. "Coach Mac has done a great job coaching them. Tarik, Donovan have probably done the best job of anybody in spring practice. Nate Schoenle, Oliver Martin, Nico Collins also did extremely well. Nico was slowed a little bit by a shoulder. Was going for a ball when we were working with pads and hurt his shoulder. He fought through that. I think he's got some real good upside. Those four guys there probably had the best spring."

Those four guys are actually five guys and Crawford is not amongst them. The lines are not hard to read between.

[After THE JUMP: FULLBACK TALK]

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Spring Practice Presser 3-29-18: Jay Harbaugh

Spring Practice Presser 3-29-18: Jay Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp March 30th, 2018 at 9:02 AM

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[Bryan Fuller]

[Ed. A- Thank you once again to 247’s Isaiah Hole for getting me video so I can still transcribe even when doctors’ appointments keep me from being there]

“Alright, what’s up?”

Four practices in. How would you characterize the start of spring practice?

“Lot of energy. Improving on the execution from where we started to where we’re trying to get to. Every practice has been better, but I think the guys are really taking to it well and really competing with the defense at a high level.”

What have you seen from Karan [Higdon] and Chris [Evans] specifically?

“Doing a great job. Just exactly what you’d expect from them. They’re taking all the parts of their game that needed detail or polish and they’re doing that. Every day it’s one less mistake and really turning in a great spring thus far.”

Could you elaborate on some of those parts of their game?

“The rare double question. Protection-wise, they’re both improving. Route detail in terms of the top routes, details that typically running backs don’t get to just because they don’t have the time. Those guys are exceptional athletes and as we work them in empty packages and coming out of the backfield, they can handle a lot of detail in their technique like a receiver would, so continuing to hone those skills has been nice to see.”

You mentioned that they’ve gotten better at pass protection. How have they evolved since you took over the position in pass protection?

“They’re both super tough. Just getting them to play with the technique that we’re looking for and it’s really, from right now to like if you compared it to last spring it’s significantly better, and even these four practices have been incrementally better.”

[After THE JUMP: the punctilious pursuit of pass protection perfect, Ben Mason two-way murderball comin’, and an offense as a living organism]

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