Radish Talk

Radish Talk Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2017 at 12:54 PM

10/28/2017 – Michigan 35, Rutgers 14 – 6-2, 3-2 Big Ten

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LET RAIN MAN BALL [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is doing this:

Arizona is ranked for the first time in a minute after four straight Pac-12 wins. Tate watched Arizona's first four games from the sideline. Last year he completed 40% of his 45 passes and rushed for under 5 yards a carry.

A bit further north in that same conference, Stanford barely escaped an awful Oregon State team as QB Keller Chryst averaged 4.3 yards an attempt. Sophomore KJ Costello played the vast majority of previous high-scoring wins over UCLA and Arizona State. Twitter was rife with bitching about Chryst and stupefaction at what it would take for Costello to enter the game as the Cardinal labored towards a win over the 1-7 Beavers. You may remember that Michigan's first choice at QB two years ago was Costello; it was only after he committed to Stanford that Michigan started looking around.

A bit further south in that same conference, Sam Darnold watched USC start 1-2 under Max Browne last year before emerging as a 67%, 3000-yard, 31-9 TD-INT flamethrower and Rose Bowl winner.

A bit closer to home, Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke spent most of the 2016 season watching Tyler O'Connor bork it before getting a chance midway through the year. A few years back MSU also spent a brief, wonderful period as the worst offense on the planet under Andrew Maxwell before pulling the trigger on the Connor Cook era. Wisconsin left Alex Hornibrook, the conference's #2 QB by passer rating, on the bench early last year, and then benched him for their final two games.

Nobody knows! Even coaches. Coaches think things. They have the limited amount of data that practice provides, and then there is game data, and all of this information pales in comparison to a giant, looming Fear Of The Unknown. Some decisions make themselves; others have to wait until there's literally no way a second-year player is worse.

There is a moment when even if the backup sometimes seems like a semi-sentient radish in a human suit, he's the man, man. Welcome to that moment.

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John O'Korn's struggles after Purdue sent the Michigan internet down a fairly appalling rabbit hole of speculation about Brandon Peters. "Promising young player stuck on bench for bad reasons" is such a trope that everyone knows the name of an otherwise obscure baseball player who Lou Gehrig replaced: Wally Pipp. The hundred-year persistence of this pattern was not good enough.

Nor were a plethora of recent examples at Michigan itself: Mike Hart behind David Underwood. Ben Gedeon behind Joe Bolden. Heck, even this very year Michigan went with Nolan Ulizio despite the fact Juwann Bushell-Beatty is older and apparently better. Sometimes the wrong guy is playing.

None of this mattered. O'Korn was bad so something had to be wrong with his backup.

So the last few weeks you couldn't throw a rock on a Michigan message board without hitting someone either implying or directly stating that Peters was a weird aspie with a fidget spinner and no future, Rain Man in a helmet. It's one thing when this comes from anonymous insider wannabes and entirely another when Rivals's Chris Balas calls a redshirt freshman a "big recruiting mistake" and says he "wouldn't be surprised" if Peters transferred.

Gasoline on the whisper fire, based on nothing. And this the second time Rivals has fueled baseless Peters transfer rumors that had to be debunked. The first time it was by Peters's father. This time Peters did it himself.

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easy [Campredon]

It turns out Brandon Peters is at least as plausible a second-year quarterback as anyone else suspected of being a sentient radish. Never in the history of Michigan Stadium has a soft toss in the flat or a fullback checkdown been met with more rapture, because everyone was worried that there was a good reason Peters was behind O'Korn, and that meant doom both now and later. Rutgers guys were annoyed at it, for some reason:

"It seemed like the crowd was kind of obnoxiously cheering," Rutgers redshirt senior Dorian Miller said with a smile. "(Peters) completed a 10-yard ball and the crowd belted out. Football is football, so I'm sure you could apply that to any team and the fans would respond like that. It's not a knock on them."

Just when folks who haven't seen Peters in action started wondering if this guy's arm strength was substandard, Peters stepped up in the pocket and ripped a laser at a receiver just in front of a safety. The ball got in a half second before the safety arrived, and the absurdity of the whisper campaign really settled in.

Brandon Peters is a quarterback in 2017, which means he was scouted to death in high school. And the thing that really leapt out to both Ace and I was that slow build to a ripping throw. Peters has the natural ability to vary his throws so they're catchable when they can be and darts when they have to be. That featured in his recruiting profile:

He varies trajectory and speed based on the situation. My favorite throws in the Brownsburg game above are two high-arc, low speed passes to his tight end that are the exact right throws in those situations. That's the definition of a "catchable ball."

Peters seemed like a savant, especially in the aftermath of Shane Morris's approach to the game. He had no QB guru, like most quarterbacks do these days. He ripped through high school football. This wasn't a guy completing half his passes who might be moldable into a guy down the road. Personality issues didn't prevent Peters from impressing the entire recruiting industry and flying up rankings after a senior year ending at the Army game.

So what are we doing when we search for some personality flaw when a second year player can't get into the game just yet? Why is a mountain of evidence from across college football not enough? And so what if the dude is more engineer than prom king?

Even if Brandon Peters isn't George Clooney—and I'm not saying he is or is not—has anyone actually seen Rain Man? Placed in his element, Rain Man is a baller.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

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this guy's mustache got an HM [Barron]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Rashan Gary. Gary was rampant, consistently blowing around the corner to sack and/or terrify the quarterback. The Rutgers LT gets some NFL hype; Gary, and Chase Winovich to a slightly less rampant extent, made that guy look like a walk-on.

#2(t) Mason Cole and Mike Onwenu. Cole and Onwenu tentatively seemed like Michigan's most mauling OL on a rewatch, but probably I could have given this to any member of the blocking crew and not been particularly off.

#3 Sean McKeon. McKeon was able to dig out a throw low and behind him to convert a third and long; he was the only guy to pull in multiple passes. He probably would have scored on that fourth down if Peters put it on him. In addition, McKeon's blocking was excellent for a second consecutive week.

Honorable mention: That guy's mustache. Poggi, Hill, Kugler, JBB, and Bredeson all chipped in on a dominating ground game. Isaac and Higdon made the most out of the blocking. Winovich, Hurst, and Bush were all their usual selves.

KFaTAotW Standings.

8: Devin Bush (#1 Florida, T2 Cincinnati, T2 Air Force, #1 Purdue)
5: Chase Winovich(#1 Air Force, #2a Purdue), Mo Hurst (#1 MSU, #2(T), Indiana), Karan Higdon (#1 Indiana, #2 PSU), Rashan Gary(T2 Indiana, #1 Rutgers), Mason Cole (#1 Cincinnati, T2 Rutgers).
4: David Long (T3 Indiana, #1 PSU)
3: Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati), Lavert Hill(#2 MSU, T3 Indiana))
2: Quinn Nordin (#3 Florida, #3 Air Force), John O'Korn (#2 Purdue), Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati, #3 PSU), Sean McKeon(T3 Purdue, #3 Rutgers), Mike Onwenu(T2 Rutgers).
1: Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati), Mike McCray(T2 Air Force), Zach Gentry (T3 Purdue), Brad Robbins(#3 MSU), Brandon Watson (T3 Indiana).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Brandon Peters completes a short waggle pass to Ty Wheatley for a first down.

Honorable mention: Peters completes another soft toss to Poggi on his next opportunity. Higdon breaks free for a game-sealing long touchdown. Kareem Walker scores. Various annihilations of the Rutgers quarterback. Various annihilations of the Rutgers front seven.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Michigan misses a run fit against a wildcat formation, ceding a long touchdown that tied the score at 7. At the time it felt like that was the start of a very long day indeed. Also long wildcat touchdowns remind me of the Penn State game.

Honorable mention: O'Korn throws a pick in the direction of Gentry when he's covered by a 5'9" guy; O'Korn fumbles the snap and Michigan eats a 14 yard loss; Rutgers uses the same damn screen play MSU scored on to get down to the two.

[After the JUMP: hamblasting the hamblasted]

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Rutgers Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Rutgers Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 29th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

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[Campredon]

Can you assess Brandon Peters’ game and did he do enough to earn another start?

“He really acquitted himself well. Moved the football team. Played very, very well. Yeah, he did a lot and from the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone and feeling the linebackers drop and taking that extra half second to take a breath and hit the checkdown just was good ball. He was good.”

Brandon himself said his biggest advancement since fall camp was communication. How much has he addressed the things you talked about before the season?

“He’s made big strides. Really good in that area. It’s been—and was good out there today.”

What did you see on the touchdown pass to Chris Evans and—

“I thought Chris made a heck of a catch on it. Thought Brandon saw it well. Good protection, and Brandon put it… you know, a little short, but Chris adjusted well to the ball and made a nice catch.”

And then the next time out he had a two-minute drill. What impressed you most about Brandon’s game today?

“Today? Well, the things I talked about earlier. I mean, just that he was playing the position. He was playing good ball. Two-minute drill, I think that’s definitely… that’s a real bright spot to go in there—what was it, his second drive, I think, and get organized and get our team organized in the two-minute drill on the field. That’s something a quarterback doesn’t usually have happen to him on his second drive of playing football but I think it went really well for him, and that was great to see.”

[After THE JUMP: questions about special teahaha just kidding it’s more stuff about Peters]

Comments

Michigan 35, Rutgers 14

Michigan 35, Rutgers 14 Comment Count

Ace October 28th, 2017 at 3:57 PM


The first of many touchdowns, one hopes. [Patrick Barron]

Welcome to the future.

After four drives for each team, Michigan found itself deadlocked at seven with lowly Rutgers in front of a listless homecoming crowd. Embattled quarterback John O'Korn had completed 3/6 passes for 13 yards with an interception and two dropped snaps. On what turned out to be his final snap of the afternoon, he passed up multiple open receivers to roll out of a clean pocket and throw in the direction of a very well-covered Donovan Peoples-Jones.

When the defense booted Rutgers off the field with 7:01 to play in the first half, ballyhooed redshirt freshman Brandon Peters entered in O'Korn's stead.

"They just told me to get warmed up," said Peters. "When we got the ball I was just standing there next to Harbaugh and he said let's go, you're in."

The crowd instantly came to life. So did the offense. Two Karan Higdon runs picked up 20 yards to open the drive, then Peters got going, connecting on passes to Ty Wheatley Jr., Henry Poggi, and Nico Collins for first downs before Higdon capped the drive with a ten-yard touchdown.

"I wasn't that nervous," said Peters. "Honestly it was a great opportunity to get out there. I was more excited and confident than nervous."

Peters didn't seem nervous. When Michigan got the ball at midfield with 1:49 to go in the half, he marched the team right into the red zone. He had a freshman moment, nearly throwing an interception on a slant to Grant Perry, but that didn't rattle him one bit. On the very next snap, he tossed a near-perfect* lob to Chris Evans on a wheel route for a 20-yard score. With one change in personnel, Michigan went being in a dogfight at home against Rutgers to blowing them out.

"I saw man coverage, one-on-one with Chris," said Peters. "I wanted to give him a chance to make a play and he made a great play on the ball."


The wheel route remains undefeated. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan had already made needed improvements elsewhere, and the insertion of Peters served to accentuate them. The offensive line had been opening holes in the running game, which featured a diverse array of powers, counters, outside zones, and crack sweeps. With opposition safeties finally forced to respect the pass, the backs found ample room to run. Higdon (158 yards on 18 carries) and Ty Isaac (109 on 14) both cracked the century mark; Michigan averaged 6.5 yards per carry.

The pass protection also looked vastly improved. O'Korn and Peters both consistently operated out of clean pockets; Peters did a better job of standing in and delivering. Michigan didn't take a sack.

Most importantly, Peters continued dealing. He finished 10/14 for 124 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. He didn't lock on to a favorite target; ten different receivers caught passes for the Wolverines today. While Peters's stat line may not blow anyone away, he made it obvious he's the best option to run this team right now. His coach agreed.

"He really aquitted himself well," said Jim Harbaugh. "Moved the football team. Played very, very well. He did a lot. From the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone, feeling the linebackers drop, taking that extra half second to take a breath, take a checkdown. it was good ball. It was good."

Harbaugh probably didn't need to declare Peters the starter for next week's game against Minnesota, but he did so anyway.


Mo Hurst spearheaded another dominant defensive performance. [Campredon]

The defense needed no such fixing. Outside of a long Janarion Grant touchdown out of the wildcat and one drive in which Rutgers QB Giovanni Rescigno uncharacteristically connected on a couple NFL-level throws, they effectively held the Scarlet Knights to nothing. Rescigno dropped back to pass 21 times; he threw for 101 and took five sacks. Rutgers's pair of running backs combined for a mere 45 yards on 18 carries. Rutgers simply couldn't block Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary, and Chase Winovich, and freshman DT Aubrey Solomon didn't look out of place on that line while getting the most extended playing time of his young career.

Higdon opened the fourth quarter with a 49-yard touchdown jaunt on a perfectly blocked power play to put Michigan up 35-14. A game that had already flown by didn't take long to wrap up from there. Rutgers wanted to get home. Michigan, one would like to think, was champing at the bit to get the Peters Era underway in earnest when he gets his first career start under the lights against Minnesota.

"It was time," said Harbaugh.

*Nitpickers will note it was a little short. Most Michigan fans, however, saw the skies part and heard angels sing.

Comments

Monday Presser 10-23-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-23-17: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 23rd, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Upchurch]

“Hello. Got any questions?”
Can you talk about Lavert Hill and his first half of the season, how he’s come along in his confidence and getting better?

“Uh, yeah, he’s been very good. We see where he’s addressed his inappropriate gesture and discussed it and feels bad about it. Positive it won’t happen again. On the field, he’s been very good.”

Can you assess John O’Korn’s play Saturday and if I could piggyback, where is Brandon Peters right now with getting backup snaps since Wilton’s injury?

“Yeah, Brandon’s getting backup snaps.”

How has he progressed? Have you seen a lot of improvement out of him since he started getting more snaps?

“Yeah, he’s readying himself to play. He’s one play away right now and every day readying himself to be out there playing.”

And O’Korn Saturday, his play?

“Yeah. Won’t go into everything, but managed the game very well. Got us—everything communicated. Ran the offense very well. There was some duress and some plays that we could have made, et cetera. Go back and look at it, that’s what we’re in the process of doing. He’s—yeah, some good—kind of the theme for our offense—and there’s some things we missed, some opportunities out there, as well.”

You mentioned Brandon’s one play away. Do you want to try and get him some snaps in? He hasn’t gotten snaps really. Are you guys trying to make an effort to get him in or is that not really a priority at this point?

“Just go along the process of readying him to play. Backup quarterback always needs to be ready to play.”

[After THE JUMP: the message from here on and why a cliché is a cliché]

Comments

Penn State 42, Michigan 13

Penn State 42, Michigan 13 Comment Count

Ace October 22nd, 2017 at 12:03 AM


A matchup problem. [Patrick Barron]

Michigan has weaknesses that playoff teams lack. Tonight, those weaknesses were brutally exposed by a Penn State squad that sure looked like a playoff team themselves.

This game looked all but over in the opening five minutes. On the second play from scrimmage, future Heisman winner Saquon Barkley shifted over to quarterback, ran a read option with quarterback Trace McSorley acting as the running back, and gutted Michigan for a 69-yard touchdown. The Wolverines, on the other hand, went backwards on their opening possession, then watched as Barkley finished off a four-play, 78-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown off a speed option pitch. Michigan, again, had negative yardage on the following drive.

A miscommunication between McSorley and tight end Mike Gesicki resulted in a David Long interception that briefly gave the Wolverines new life. After marching down to the PSU three, it took four cracks for Karan Higdon to finally break the plane. Quinn Nordin, getting booed by a crowd that never forgets a slight, missed the extra point. Michigan's counterpunch brought the defense to life; Khaleke Hudson nearly picked off a screen pass in the end zone.

Also a matchup problem. [Eric Upchurch]

The teams traded punts until a flurry of action at the end of the half. First, an unlikely connection from John O'Korn to Kekoa Crawford set up a six-yard Ty Isaac touchdown to bring Michigan within a point. Then McSorley threw Penn State down the field in the blink of an eye before finishing the drive on a three-yard keeper.

While the Wolverines went into the half down only 21-13, the numbers were foreboding. PSU amassed 302 total yards in the first half, more than Michigan had allowed in a full game this season. The safeties, steady to this point, were exploited in space by Barkley and McSorley. The offense mustered only 141 yards on five fewer plays, still hampered by poor blocking and a lack of trust in the passing game.

Given all that, it probably shouldn't have surprised too many people when Penn State blew the game wide open in the second half. Issues new and old appeared on PSU's first possession of the half. Tyree Kinnel got dusted one-on-one by DaeSean Hamilton on a slant for 26 yards; Barkley dropped a big gain after easily beating Mike McCray on a wheel route; McSorley seemingly juked half the defense to find the end zone on a beautifully designed inverted veer that had Barkley motion before the snap, drawing much of the defense's attention. Just like that, PSU took a commanding 28-13 lead.


Once again, John O'Korn couldn't generate much in the passing game. [Upchurch]

From then on, it was a merciless beating. On offense, O'Korn was improved from last week's woeful outing but still only managed 5.9 yards per attempt. Any hopes of a comeback were dashed when cornerback Christian Campbell beat Karan Higdon around the edge and ripped the ball away from O'Korn. They were really dashed when Barkley toasted McCray in man coverage for a juggling 48-yard touchdown two plays later; McCray had no hope of keeping pace, yet the normally unassailable Don Brown kept allowing that matchup to play out. 

It was academic from there. McSorley added another rushing touchdown with 7:53 to play. Michigan's final possession ended in appropriately inept fashion. Facing fourth-and-nine, the coaches pulled right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beattly, who allowed consistent pressure, to insert Nolan Ulizio as an apparent pass-protection specialist. Before they could snap the ball, O'Korn took a delay of game. After the penalty, redshirt freshman backup Shaka Toney ran right around Mason Cole to sack O'Korn for the coup de gras.

Michigan can only fix so much this season. With the schedule letting up considerably over the next few week, they're likely to try some new patches, potentially including one fans have wanted for weeks. Quarterback Brandon Peters was warming up on the sideline before O'Korn ultimately took the field for M's last drive. Given how that drive played out, that was probably for the best. Now that the conference title is essentially out of reach and a top-ten defense isn't facing M's O-line, it's time to see what Peters has got. While that won't solve everything, it could be the spark this offense desperately needs.

Many of tonight's other issues will be taken care of for this year, at least, by not having to face Joe Moorhead and this Nittany Lions offense again.

They want Bama. They can have them.

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WTKA Roundtable 10/19/2017: Détente

WTKA Roundtable 10/19/2017: Détente Comment Count

Seth October 19th, 2017 at 11:13 AM

Reminder, we have a live podcast at 5 p.m. TONIGHT at THE JOLLY PUMPKIN and NICK HOPWOOD of PEAK WEALTH MANAGEMENT is buying BEER for YOU!

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[Marc-Grégor Campredon]

Things discussed:

  • Craig now sits between Ed and Brian, who get along. Craig is a bystander.
  • Offensive adjustments: more manball. Michigan went to a Harbaugh identity: 22 personnel and equal parts power and inside zone.
  • Higdon made yards, won the game with his OT run, which wasn’t even his best.
  • O’Korn: coaches gave him a freshman gameplan and avoided him as soon as they got a two-score lead. Coaches say he always wants to make the big play and a lot of coaching him is settling him down.
  • The bad man yelled: horrible PI wiped out a Fant interception, then Tom Allen flagrantly violated the “Just for Jim Harbaugh” rule to get 10 calls in a row to go his way (says Craig). Yes, Urban doesn’t get flagged for this either: it’s just Harbaugh.
  • Indiana pass pro success: got their RT back, used an RB to block Bush, which didn’t go well for them but went better than leaving Bush unblocked.
  • Stunt game should be shelved—just opens up running lanes. Too tricky. Mone effect means less pass rush too.
  • Speight earlier this season? Pressure, WRs, stopped seeing things and lost footwork.
  • Sam has a recap of his Brandon Peters take: no he’s not a whiff, he’s not bad, he’s not transferring, he’s not behind, he’s a freshman and the offense asks the quarterback to be very advanced before and after the snap. Sam Darnold was a different story: he came in and threw 2-yard passes to 5-star receivers as a freshman.
  • PSU: McSorley is a B+, Barkley is legit. This isn’t an national championship team but it’s a very good one that’s closer to challenging Ohio State than losing to Michigan.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

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Wednesday Presser 10-18-17: Tim Drevno

Wednesday Presser 10-18-17: Tim Drevno Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 18th, 2017 at 6:15 PM

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[Fuller]

How much improvement did you see from your guys up front in that Indiana game?

“I saw a lot of improvement. It was good. We still need to play better offensively and the guys up front, but when you rush for 271 yards there’s a lot of positivity. Guys are moving guys off the ball and protection was better, so it was a step forward as we prepare against Penn State this week.”

How much improvement have you seen out of Mike Onwenu?

“A lot, a lot of improvement. You can see that he’s moving his feet, he’s understanding it, he’s finishing. He could finish a little bit better, like all of them can, everybody on the offense. But you can see it. Light bulb’s going on, which is neat. He’s playing good football—really good football.”

How did Juwann Bushell-Beatty do in his first full contest?

“Juwann did a nice job. He competed well. There’s some thing we’ve got to clean up but he did a nice job for his first start here. He had a false start there at one point in time in the game but for the most part his protection was good. We’ve just got to clean up some of the run blocking things, but it was real positive.”

[After THE JUMP: Tim Drevno, an American Legion baseball field, a water pump, and a metaphor for the offense]

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Game Over, Insert Freshman To Continue

Game Over, Insert Freshman To Continue Comment Count

Brian October 16th, 2017 at 1:01 PM

10/14/2017 – Michigan 27, Indiana 20 (OT) – 5-1, 2-1 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

I am at stage five. I have passed through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. And here we are: acceptance. Michigan is not very good this year. I accept that they are rebuilding.

Well... wait. Let me rephrase that. 60% of Michigan is righteous. 20% is questionable but encouraging. 20% is a deep, black pit of infinite depth that you fall through for hours at a time. The walls murmur foul, unspeakable red-zone stats. You yell "I DON'T BELIEVE RED ZONE OFFENSE IS MEANINGFULLY DIFFERENT FROM OVERALL OFFENSE"; the walls ignore you. Occasionally a gust of wind buffets you from below, braking your descent. It doesn't really matter, though. Terminal velocity or soon-to-reach terminal velocity are functionally identical when you are dropping forever in an inky expanse of nothing, waiting for the sickening crunch that will never come except when it does about every 365 days.

Woe! Woe! Fire and flame, death and brimstone! Woe. Dolorous woe.

...is what you might have said like 15 years ago when this stuff still had the capacity to hurt you. Now? Nah. Some Indiana fan sent me a picture of scoreboard from The Horror on Saturday and I just snorted. This is no longer a fanbase that considers 7-5 the "Year of Infinite Pain," as this site did way back in the ancient past. Michigan's going to lose some more games this year and end up in Florida on New Year's Day.

That's more or less fine. They return something like 21 starters next year, give or take QB. This depends on whether or not Brandon Peters can humorously conk John O'Korn in the head and sneakily don his jersey at some point in the next few weeks.

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

You've probably figured it out already but the righteous bits are the run defense,  the pass defense, and special teams. The questionable-but-encouraging bit is a ground game that appears to be waking up and putting things together. And the black, infinite, inky pit is the passing offense.

O'Korn's 10-for-20, 58 yard performance was actually worse than last year's Indiana game, when he managed 59 yards on 16 throws. Michigan completed three passes for four yards in the second half—two of them screens—and did not even think about involving O'Korn in their attempts to put away the game. It got so bad that on one of Michigan's few downfield attempts of the fourth quarter that Official Journalists were barely concealing their bewilderment:

Very same, Zach Gentry. A quick glance at the photo that leads this column will confirm how very, very covered Kekoa Crawford was. And yet.

Meanwhile Harbaugh almost lost his mind on the sideline when Michigan pulled out a shovel pass they hadn't put on film, saw it break for a first down and more, and then had it called back because O'Korn didn't get the snap off in time. Harbaugh's clearly toning down his sideline behavior this year after the PF in Columbus and the supposed extra focus on coach behavior; that was a moment where he just about relapsed. But did not!

Also this:

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somehow not an INT [Fuller]

So here we are. That's three of four O'Korn games with extended playing time where he's been horrible. I have no idea what happened against Purdue, but if you're asking me to project future performance it's more in line with the last two weeks than the outlier. Teams are now preparing for a guy who's only good when he breaks the pocket, and there goes the efficiency of that gambit.

It's bad, man. It's so bad that Michigan spent half of its dropbacks presenting O'Korn with just two guys—or even one—in a downfield pattern. The interception he threw at a dominated Eddie McDoom was third and seven; Michigan had outside receivers run fades. Nobody else was in a pattern. O'Korn somehow still threw the wrong fade, choosing the 5'11" guy being checked by Indiana's best cornerback. Michigan dumbed down their passing offense to an extraordinary extent in this game, and their quarterback still couldn't keep up.

Game over, man. Game over.

It turns out there is a difficulty level too hard on the Jim Harbaugh Quarterback Constructor video game, and it's "Houston transfer who lost his job as a sophomore." Noted, and forgiven. Michigan's desperate scramble for quarterbacks upon Harbaugh's arrival turned up a strike in Jake Rudock, and a... not strike in O'Korn.

Michigan still has their goals in front of them, and maybe O'Korn has another Purdue game in him somewhere. I doubt it, personally, but we'd all written off the Brown Jug in 2008 just in time for Nick Sheridan to put up 200 passing yards in a 29-6 win. You can just barely cobble together a justification for continuing with O'Korn for another week, because a road night game at Penn State is next and we don't want to send our baby lamb to slaughter.

But win or lose against PSU, it's hard to imagine Michigan not taking Brandon Peters out for a test drive against Rutgers. Because Michigan's future is extraordinarily bright if they can find a QB. Even if O'Korn turns it around he's not going to be part of that future. Meanwhile it's hard to imagine production worse than what they've currently got. Here is where people say "it can always be worse": I submit that it cannot. Two point nine yard an attempt and two shoulda-been interceptions, people.

Game over. Insert freshman to continue.

AWARDS

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go go go go [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Karan Higdon. Yeah, maybe several defensive players had better individual games in chart-world. All of those guys reinforce each other, though. Higdon's efforts were emphatically not reinforced by Michigan's passing game and he still put up Michigan's first 200 yard RB game since Mike freakin' Hart. He earned all 25 of Michigan's overtime yards, showed legit deep speed on his long touchdown, and ground out countless YAC without much, if anything, in the way of a missed read.

#2(t) Rashan Gary and Mo Hurst. Gary's 2.5 TFLs coulda shoulda been 4.5; he was robbed of a couple more sack by bloody circumstance but for the first time felt like an omnipresent terror. Meanwhile Hurst continued being Hurst, repeatedly whipping guys and getting pressure directly up the middle. The downgrade when both gents were out on the first IU touchdown drive was obvious. Both guys get two points, because I want them to have these points.

#3 Lavert Hill, Brandon Watson, and David Long. Michgian's CB crew all but erased Simmie Cobbs, and Hill turned in a Jourdan Lewis-esque INT. Most completions were to guys they were not in coverage on. Also: I mean, 40 yards for Cobbs. Get it.

Honorable mention: Chase Winovich wasn't far off his DL mates. Devin Bush turned in another very good outing, albeit one without fireworks. Ty Isaac chipped in eight productive carries. The OL was excellent on the ground and gave up zero sacks... narrowly.

KFaTAotW Standings.

8: Devin Bush (#1 Florida, T2 Cincinnati, T2 Air Force, #1 Purdue)
5: Chase Winovich(#1 Air Force, #2a Purdue), Mo Hurst (#1 MSU, #2(T), Indiana) 
3: Mason Cole (#1, Cincinnati), Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati), Lavert Hill(#2 MSU, T3 Indiana), Karan Higdon (#1 Indiana)
2: Quinn Nordin (#3 Florida, #3 Air Force), John O'Korn (#2 Purdue), Rashan Gary(T2 Indiana).   
1: Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati), Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati), Mike McCray(T2 Air Force), Sean McKeon(T3 Purdue), Zach Gentry (T3 Purdue), Brad Robbins(#3 MSU), Brandon Watson (T3 Indiana), David Long (T3 Indiana).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Michigan busts out a new counter look on a fourth-quarter drive, running it three times on a five-play drive that ended with a 59-yard Higdon touchdown. Don't stop:

Honorable mention: Michigan wins the game with a goal-line stand from the two. Higdon bounces outside for an OT touchdown. Higdon bounces outside for a first-half touchdown.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

John O'Korn throws to a double-covered Kekoa Crawford instead of finding the other guy on a two man route. That guy, Zach Gentry, was open for a 40-yard catch and run touchdown. Also he was the only other guy in a route.

Honorable mention: Indiana breaks off a punt return that gets them to overtime; various absurd calls after the mean man yelled at the refs but especially the Cam Cheesman "hold" that was critical for IU's tying FG drive; Michigan picks up a bunch of legitimate penalties, including PFs against Kekoa Crawford and Josh Metellus (unless Drake Harris is on the punt return team).

[After THE JUMP: How can Peters be behind this guy?]

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Preview 2017: Quarterback

Preview 2017: Quarterback Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2017 at 2:01 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story.

DOES THIS THING HAVE A DIFFICULTY LEVEL HARDER THAN "INSANE"

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The Law of Harbaugh: it doesn't matter who your QB is

Jim Harbaugh is a kid sitting in a basement frustrated because Dark Souls is too easy. Sure, he crafted the first draft pick of any variety in San Diego history. He beat USC with a pottery major. He got Alex Smith a 70-million dollar contract. He nearly won a Super Bowl with a guy the league is currently passing over in favor of Stoney Case. (For bad reasons, admittedly.) And he turned an Iowa castoff into an NFL draft pick and in-demand trade bait:

Quarterbacks? Quarterbacks are easy. He has all the Quarterbacka Universalis IV achievements. Except one: take a quarterback recruited by Al Borges and have him finish his career as the starter. It's never happened. Never! Never ever ever. And no wonder. This Speight quote from last year only gets more boggling 12 months later:

"In their eyes, myself, David Cornwell, and this kid from IMG Academy Michael O'Connor are the best quarterbacks in the nation in this class."

Cornwell and O'Connor were both nowhere near the two deep before they transferred, Cornwell to Nevada and O'Connor to UBC. As in British Columbia.

The Borges achievement wasn't going to happen this time either, because John O'Korn was going to swoop in and gun-sling his way into our hearts. Then it did happen. Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore who played a chunk of the season with something deeply wrong with his collarbone, was the second-most efficient QB in the Big Ten, averaged nearly eight yards an attempt, and had a 18-7 TD-INT ratio. He's already the best Borges-recruited QB ever, easily outstripping Cam Coffman's 6.7 YPA (and subsequent move to TE) in 2012.

At this point I'm willing to see what the Harbaugh version of Denard Robinson looks like under center. Just in case.

[After THE JUMP: references marginally less dorky than EUIV!]

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Big Ten Media Days Presser 7-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Big Ten Media Days Presser 7-25-17: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp July 26th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

harbaugh media day

[Isaiah Hole/247 Sports]

I wasn’t there but I figured this would make for a good workday read since it took place during a workday. Have at it, you transcription junkie.

“Good afternoon. Wonderful to be here. Gotta come from behind the curtain. Can’t enter from in front of the curtain, apparently. I can take questions.”

Your team took a trip to Rome in April where they practiced and had many unique experiences mixed in. You said about the trip that it was the best thing you’ve been a part of on a football team and that not all learning is done in the classroom and not all learning is done on the football field. After this season you plan on taking a team trip to Paris, Normandy, and London. My question is can you expound on why the Rome trip was valuable and why trips in the future will be valuable to your football team?

“Yes. It’s just incredible to connect with somebody from a different country, to see something that you’ve never seen before, taste food that you’ve never tasted or hear a language that you’ve never heard and then experience it as a team, like eighth grade classes that go to Washington D.C. for a field trip or a twelfth grade class the goes to Rome, much like that.

“To be able to experience it as a group makes it so much better, 900x better, because you’re getting not only your own experience but everyone in the group’s and it’s a chance to put the ‘college’ back in ‘college football.’ It’s a chance to have the whole world be your classroom. Not all learning is done in a classroom or on a football field. It’s out there living, out there seeing and doing. I would recommend it because it has bee the best thing that I’ve ever done personally as a part of a football team.”

Could you talk about Rashan Gary? I can’t recall any D-lineman at Michigan having this much preseason hype since LaMarr Woodley. Talk about how Rashan has handled that and how high the ceiling is for this young man.

“Thank you, yes. Very interesting to see how Rashan has handled it. To me, I’ve watched it—was one of the top recruits, maybe the top recruit coming out of high school. He’s had a lot of hype. He’s had a lot of adulation. You know, there’s some people that that’s what they live for. They live for that approval of others and to be recognized as a hyped-up player and then there’s other people that they see that hype or that adulation and they go by it like it’s a cone, an orange cone, on the side of the road.

“There’s some people that are just aspiring to greater things than just the adulation of somebody, and I think Rashan is that type of guy. You really like him. He really doesn’t care too much about that. He’s gone by it like it’s a cone, an orange cone, on the side of the road. He just works, and I really think competing is his favorite thing to do. And he has the license and ability to be great, to be really good. I don’t know what more to say about that.”

[After THE JUMP: thoughts on every class, dropping two-a-days, how long it takes to find a starting QB, and tapping a losing streak for motivation]

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