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

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs SMU

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs SMU Comment Count

Brian September 21st, 2018 at 10:57 AM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumbSPONSOR NOTE: If you need a tailgate location and a mortgage at the same time there's only one place to go: the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). Food trucks! Beer! A home lending expert! TV! Watched Nebraska lose to Troy there last week, which was certainly a thing of relevance this week.

FORMATION NOTES: Just 15 3-3-5 snaps versus 51 with four DL, and almost all of those 3-3-5 instances were passing down exotics. All but two, in fact. And they got gashed on one. Thus explaining the lack of that.

I should probably stop noting "press" since every single Michigan snap is press coverage, but the split between one (slash zero) and two high is a good proxy for zone snaps versus man snaps. Michigan was in a two-high look for about a third of its snaps.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Less rotation on the DL, which was in its new normal setup of Gary/Mone/Kemp/Winovich backed up by Paye, Hutchinson, and Dwumfour. Dwumfour's snaps in this game were almost exclusively pass rush DT in the 3-3-5. Without Solomon there was no real backup NT; Donovan Jeter only got in on the last drive. Marshall dressed IIRC but did not play.

The usual at LB with Bush omnipresent save injury and Gil and Ross splitting snaps approximately down the middle; Jordan Glasgow came in for Hudson after the targeting call. Furbush was the extra guy when Michigan added a pass rush LB. Uche did not play.

Usual CB rotation with Long ahead of the game in snaps slightly; Ambry Thomas got maybe a dozen snaps late. Brad Hawkins rotated in behind Metellus and Kinnel, with reduced playing time after the big bust. Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who's been quietly hurt, got snaps on the last drive.

[After THE JUMP: slant slant slant slant]

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This Week's Obsession: Stock Up/Stock Down

This Week's Obsession: Stock Up/Stock Down Comment Count

Seth September 18th, 2018 at 9:42 AM

[Patrick Barron]

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: It’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. Nick is also a Podcaster—if you haven’t listened to it before, his podcast Finding True Wealth, he recently did a very helpful episode on retirement funding priorities that covered different types of IRAs.

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.

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

Nick's question:

So it's Big Ten Season, for a definition of that which includes annual games against Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers. Stock Up/Stock Down?

Our responses:

Seth: I'll start: Chase Winovich. Killin it AND has his own même.

BiSB: It's hard to be Stock Up from where Winovich started, but... I kinda agree.

Seth: It seems harder to run off his edge this year and they give him no edge help.

Brian: You're starting with a projected AA and saying he's stock up?

/giphy penalty flag

Well done giphy.

Seth: But... You agree.

Brian: I don't, this is what I expected from Chase Winovich. Including the meme. Dude is a meme machine. WILL HART is on this team people

Seth: Ol' Fifty.

David: Yes! YES! I was going to say Will Hart!

BiSB: Oh yeah, go ahead and put the jinx before the jump. Thanks, man. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.

[After THE JUMP: no, we can't.]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 6th, 2018 at 4:23 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTE: HomeSure Lending returns as this post's sponsor. If you want an MGoBlog version of a mortgage lender, Matt is it. Except he is very, very prompt. MGoBlog... middling to not prompt. Matt is on top of his business to the point where I get unsolicted "hey this was actually a great experience" emails fairly regularly. I myself had a great experience when I refi-d my home with Matt.

FORMATION NOTES: Notre Dame was 90% shotgun/pistol with a tight end, with occasional forays under center to do something throwback-related. Michigan was split almost evenly between their 4-2-5 and a 3-3-5. FWIW, unless Michigan lined up without a true zero tech nose in the 3-3-5 I called it a stack even if the LBs were running around doing things. Depending on how dogmatic you want to be this is incorrect nomenclature. Example:

stack-ish

So that doesn't feel like a 3-4 since the DEs are real edge DEs spread out over the edge but the LBs are not, you know, stacked. This was distinguished from "nickel split," which was a pass rush defense where Bush would nominally fill at DT spot. 

nickel split

There were three snaps on which Michigan had two ILBs out there with Furbush.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot of rotation. Winovich and Gary got most of the snaps at DE but both Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson got a drive or two worth. It was about the same ratio at DT with Marshall and Mone as starters and Dwumfour and Solomon backing up. Dwumfour got more run that Solomon; Kemp got a few snaps.

At LB Hudson and Bush were nearly omnipresent. Hudson was lifted for a few snaps where Michigan had three actual LBs on the field but was otherwise a constant presence. Bush had some cramps that knocked him out for a while. During those periods both Josh Ross and Devin Gil were on the field; they otherwise split snaps at WLB, with Ross seeming to have a slight edge. Josh Uche and Noah Furbush got scattered snaps.

In the secondary, Kinnel omnipresent. Metellus went out early with the targeting call. Hawkins got most of that work with J'Marick Woods getting a drive or two worth of snaps. Hill, Long, and Watson absorbed almost all the CB snaps. Thomas got in for a few. Maybe one?

[After THE JUMP: bah! gah! ah.]

Comments

Wednesday presser 9-5-18: Mike Zordich

Wednesday presser 9-5-18: Mike Zordich Comment Count

Ethan Sears September 6th, 2018 at 12:23 AM

 

[Fuller]

Things discussed

  • Some brutal honesty about the first quarter against Notre Dame
  • The targeting call against Josh Metellus, and the targeting rule
  • Lavert Hill giving up a big play early on
  • Ambry Thomas playing on offense
  • Casey Hughes' status

[After THE JUMP: Mike Zordich isn't sure exactly what happened early on, but he's not happy about it]

 

Comments

The BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS

The BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2018 at 1:55 PM

[Patrick Barron]

9/1/2018 – Michigan 17, Notre Dame 24 – 0-1

Ah so it's this bit again. The bit where some people pick up on a factoid and yell about it a lot and other people yell at them about it. The bit where everyone's mad and trying to take it out on someone.

I mean, I get it. Any properly scientific assessment of which football program it is the least fun to be a fan of will find a way to exclude Kansas for not actually being a football program and stick Michigan at the top. Nobody got into this to fight about the level of doomed we are every 3-4 years, never beat anyone of consequence, etc.

But I don't want to do it again. I've done this three times before, once per coaching era this blog has seen the end of, and I've done all the stuff already: preaching patience, gallows humor, being legitimately angry, calling for various heads, writing about mattresses. I don't really feel like doing it all over again. I don't care to evaluate the precise moment at which a person should be fired, or to point out that people are being ridiculous for wanting a person to be fired, or to create big lists of the next person to get fired. Neither do I want to sagely counsel the fanbase from the Tower Of Reasonability. This is not content it feels worthwhile to produce.

If you're mad, fine. If you're mad at the people who are mad, fine. I'm not going to argue with you.

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

Let's talk about the

BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS

The BPONE is a state of mind in which no part of a football game is enjoyable because it is merely a prelude to some pratfall made more embarrassing and or painful by whatever minimal, temporary successes are experienced prior to the pratfall. Thus a kick return touchdown—that rarest butterfly, one the game is steadily trying to erase—during which your author's only reaction was internal and, I quote, "whoop-de-damn-do."

Going down 14-0 more or less immediately by blowing coverages on third down, getting beat over the top by battleship WRs, and having a shoulda-been interception ripped away by a 5'10" guy immediately puts you in the pit. The general shape of the offense provides a steady stream of pit reinforcement, to the point where my Twitter timeline's reaction to Michigan providing a vague sense of hope at the end of the game was "I hate myself for having this hope." This feeling of cynical dread was vindicated by the sack/strip that had to have been coming and did indeed come.

The more time one spends in the BPONE, the more permeable its membrane. Last year large swathes of the Michigan fanbase descended into it after Michigan had an extra point blocked. At the time Michigan led 20-14. Scoring the rest of the way was 17-0 Ohio State. When entering the BPONE is clearly a good choice, future opportunities to mitigate emotional harm by being miserable in the present are more likely to be taken.

The flaw in BPONE operations is of course the impossibility of mining any enjoyment out of your experience. BPONE sufferers assume a football game is a negative emotional event and spread those negative emotions out more broadly. Only if the team should actually come back and win will any regret be felt, and pffffffffft. I'm in the pit, baby! I know for a stone cold fact that a punt snap will somehow lodge itself in the facemask of the punter. I feel it in my bones that the one time we jump a route in this game the ensuing interception will bang off the defensive back's hands and lodge itself in the facemask of the opposition 50 yards downfield.

Tweeting from the BPONE is inadvisable and very, very difficult to avoid.

Checking your mentions will significantly deepen the pit and is likely to lead to BPONE-influenced tweeting, which is inadvisable. In fact, communicating in any form from the BPONE is inadvisable.

Alcohol will not improve anything but will be consumed in quantity anyway.

At some point repeated defeats will create an OMINPRESENT BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS. OBPONE is a severe condition with consequences such as writer's block, writer's block, and writer's block. The only cure for OBPONE is a new season, but yo-yo-ing in and out of OBPONE makes individual occurrences of BPONE more severe.

Escaping this cycle of cynicism and recrimination requires John Beilein, who is not available for football purposes.

[After THE JUMP: some stuff]

Comments

Notre Dame 24, Michigan 17

Notre Dame 24, Michigan 17 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 2nd, 2018 at 12:41 AM

[Barron]

An inauspicious start to the night gave way to a brief glimmer of hope. It was dim, sure, and it felt more like a mirage than a possible oasis, but it was there. This is Michigan-Notre Dame, after all, and there seemed to be some rule of the natural world that pushed close games in this series Michigan’s way. And then, on a play prior to which the stadium scoreboard had to pipe in some rawk music and remind fans to, in glittering all-caps, “GET LOUD,” hope died. Shea Patterson avoided pressure for as long as he could but encountered a group of two rushers coming free from the left side. The ball hit the turf, Te’Von Coney recovered, and the stadium whose volume hadn’t risen above a din in hours shook the press box.

That Michigan was even in the game late in the fourth quarter was a surprise give the way Notre Dame’s first two drives went. Notre Dame’s seemingly shaky quarterback situation was solved within three plays, as Brandon Wimbush found Chase Claypool for 16 yards on 3rd-and-10 and followed that with a 28-yard bomb to Miles Boykin, who was held by Lavert Hill. A facemask by Tyree Kinnel helped move Notre Dame from the 26-yard line to the 13, where Jafar Armstrong gashed Michigan’s defense for 13 yards and a touchdown.

Notre Dame started on their own four-yard line after a Higdon-powered Michigan drive stalled. They again converted on third-and-long, with Wimbush dropping a 26-yard dime to Alize Mack that resulted in 15 extra yards after Josh Metellus was called, and subsequently ejected, for targeting. Wimbush converted ND’s next third down with his feet, rushing for seven yards on 3rd-and-6. He heaved up a 43-yard bomb to the end zone for 5’10” Chris Finke on the next play, who leapt over Metellus’ replacement, 6’2” Brad Hawkins. Michigan was down two scores with three minutes left in the first quarter and the defense, the unit with so many exclamation marks and so few question marks, looked as out of sorts as they have in two years.

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[Fuller]

The defense’s problems lasted one more drive. Michigan allowed Notre Dame to march from their own 25-yard line to Michigan’s 45 when a holding penalty on Josh Ross helped Notre Dame convert on 3rd-and-3. Notre Dame then drove to Michigan’s nine-yard line when Chase Winovich sacked Wimbush on first down, pushing ND back to Michigan’s 17 on second-and-goal. Notre Dame picked up nine yards on a screen before getting a fresh set of downs when, on third-and-goal, Wimbush’s incomplete pass to Miles Boykin was erased by a Chase Winovich late hit. Notre Dame’s drive chart after that, however, looked like what we’ve come to expect from a Don Brown defense: punt, interception, punt, field goal, punt, punt, punt.

Michigan’s offensive drive chart, much to the consternation of the fan base, looked familiar, particularly in the second half: turnover on downs, turnover on downs, punt, interception, turnover on downs, touchdown, fumble. Even so, there were bright spots. Shea Patterson evaded a deluge of Notre Dame defensive linemen play after play and looked comfortable making plays outside of the pocket. Considering the pass protection, this is as vital a characteristic as can be found on this year’s team. Thankfully for Michigan, Dylan McCaffrey seems similarly talented in this area. The redshirt freshman QB was elevated to the no. 2 spot after Brandon Peters tweaked his knee in practice this week and looked good in relief of an injured Patterson (who later re-entered the game). McCaffrey entered the game early in the fourth quarter and moved Michigan from their four-yard line to Notre Dame’s 44 before pressure forced him out of the pocket on fourth down; he tried to find Karan Higdon downfield but the pass fell incomplete.

Higdon had a good game otherwise, regularly making good first cuts to eek out a few extra yards. The receiving corps was effective, snagging everything within reason Patterson and McCaffrey threw their way. Nico Collins had just three catches, though one was a 52-yard Patterson bomb on a post that breathed new life into Michigan’s opening drive of the second half; the first play of the half ended with a delay of game call on the offense, and the long reception was a one-play ticket to field goal territory (which UM botched, with a bad hold turning a likely three points into a Will Hart rush for –11 yards).

Questions abound, the most pressing of which are the result of another underwhelming performance from the offensive line. Michigan encountered a quality defensive line and made them look like a squad of four Khalil Mack clones; pass protection was less protection and more improvisation. Michigan gets a chance to work things out on the fly next weekend, when they return home to face a Western Michigan team that picked up just one sack against Syracuse.

Comments

Preview 2018: Safety

Preview 2018: Safety Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2018 at 2:31 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Tackle. Interior Offensive Line. Defensive Tackle. Defensive End. Linebacker. Cornerback.

Depth Chart

Free Safety Yr. Strong Safety Yr. Nickelback Yr.
Tyree Kinnel Sr. Josh Metellus Jr. Brandon Watson Jr.*
Jaylen Kelly-Powell So. Brad Hawkins So. Ambry Thomas Fr.
J'Marick Woods So. Sammy Faustin Fr. Jaylen Kelly-Powell Fr.

When the land around you is flat as a pancake any bump on the horizon becomes Mount Something and some goof will stick a ski lift on it. This was the Michigan safety corps' 2017. Surrounded by Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich and Devin Bush and Mo Hurst, their lack of super powers stuck out. A missed tackle here, a dropped interception there, and portions of the fanbase saw Mount Oh My God The Safeties on the horizon.

This is all a matter of perspective. Relative to the rest of the defense, yeah. Relative to Michigan safety play in the not-at-all distant past, no. They'll be fine. They will aspire to boring and let the rest of the defense turn into werewolves. This is fine. All I ever wanted was a boring safety.

FREE SAFETY

RATING: 3.5.

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awwwww cumong [Patrick Barron]

The thing people are mad at TYREE KINNEL about isn't the thing they should be mad about, insofar as they should be mad. Many words have been spilled over the offseason about the Dreaded Slot Fade, and Kinnel more than anyone else was the victim of these. And, yes, that one time Lavert Hill got one he showed how it should be done. I still offer up (minor) coverage positives for this kind of business, though:

He's very close and gets a rake in but it's for naught; it required a perfect throw (note how Hill and WR slow up on his PBU, none of that here) and fairly difficult catch. I shrug at that. Sometimes the offense wins. It felt like Kinnel got the business end of that business far too often for the quality of coverage he was providing. The picture above? Catch. QED.

This was a larger trend. Kinnel's coverage was solid, as befits a player who came in as a CB/S hybrid. He was barely more targeted than the cornerbacks and while his results weren't quite as good he still made it tough for most of his opposition:

S #23 rotating down on motion

He wasn't the kind of safety you could put on DJ Moore and expect good things to happen but he had a hand in the secondary's massive coverage positives week-in and week-out; he was also a major contributor to Michigan's low number of long (30+) passes allowed, 12. A QB rating allowed slightly below the 50th percentile doesn't reflect Kinnel's play since it doesn't grade on a curve for tough coverage beaten and doesn't take Michigan's lack of big ol' busts into account. He was a solid B in coverage.

[After THE JUMP: grumbles accepted]

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