Rules: Just like the all-small roster, a player gets equal points for being large and for being excellent. Here however I will count weight on equal footing with height, since most of these guys weren't trying to shed it. This one is going to favor more modern players; Germany Schulz was considered a huge center for his time at 6'2/212 and until the 1980s even the linemen who were over 300 pretended not to be. So there's an all-relative team hanging out in here too.
Quarterback: John Navarre, 6'6"/228 (2003)
What's an arc?
My top quartile rule plus the Age of the Howitzer puts us in the weird position of disqualifying 6'5" Tom Brady, Todd Collins, and Jim Harbaugh, sticking us with a pool of Speight, Mallett, Cone, Kapsner, Sessa, Ziegler, and LURRRRRRCH! The stuff about the campus not being very much behind Tom Brady is so much stuff because the same people were on campus for much or all of Navarre and there's no question who was pined for and who maligned.
Much of that is because underclassman Navarre had to play the bulk of the time we'd carved out for Henson. Navarre broke in as a redshirt freshman when Henson got hurt in early 2000, terrorized a pair of MAC teams, then was awful against UCLA. With Henson off to baseball in 2001, Navarre leaned heavily on Marquise Walker and the offense was, well, Lurch-y. By 2002 he had his feet under him and in 2003, with Braylon and Avant, Michigan got an excellent and high-volume passing season out of the big guy, setting all the passing records and more importantly leading Michigan to a win over defending national champion Ohio State and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Relatively: Bob Timberlake (6'4/211) was a modern-sized quarterback right at the beginning of the pocket QB era. Forest Evashevski (6'1/198) was huge for the early 1940s.
Honorable Mention: Wilton Speight (6'6"/240)
Running Back: Anthony Thomas (6'2/221)
Note: I have requested that WH change the music. If you mute the above and play the other it lines up well, especially at the bridge when that tom comes in while he's setting up a bunch of Hawkeyes and when Marquise Walker jumps on him.
The roster data have all kinds of lies to add to Bo and his successors' preference for big backs. Picking from a pile of guys who were listed at 6'2/220 and were actually more like 6'0 is virtually naming Michigan's best non-squib back. Some guys we knew were fullback-sized (Askew, Bunch) became fullbacks in the latter part of their careers. So let's not overthink this and go with the full-time running back whose NFL measurement agreed with his roster height, and who was literally referred to in his day in terms of a multi-ton vehicle, IE A-Train.
The size was definitely an issue…for opponents. A-Train had that patented three-yard fall that made his carries +EV even when the line didn't block well, and the added length made him one of Michigan's best pass-blocking running backs in memory.
Relatively: Jim Detwiler (6'3/209) is a mostly forgotten star from the mid-'60s who towered over the other RBs. Crazylegs Hirsch (6'2/190) was such a tall running back he went on to be the first great NFL wide receiver.
HM: Ty Isaac (6'3/228), Wyatt Shallman (6'3/239), Roosevelt Smith (6'3/232), B.J. Askew (6'3/210), Chris Perry (6'0"/228), Tyrone Wheatley (6'0/226), Jarrod Bunch (6'2/240)
This week: This one is the most fun. I'm looking for the single best highlight produced at each position. It's also going to require the most help from the crowd. If you've got a reel that beats what I've listed, please share in the comments!
Rules: Best single individual highlight, regardless of context, although there's naturally going to be a lot of rivals on here because duh. If there are multiple contributors who made a play great I'll try to have it go to the guy who was most responsible. I might also stretch the rules so that it's not just a "best highlights ever" list.
Quarterback: To Kolesar With Love, by Jimmy Harbaugh
A quarterback touches the ball on almost every offensive play, so to avoid having to just pick the greatest play in Michigan history I tried to focus on the quarterback doing something completely magnificent with only a little help from his friends.
Ohio State was climbing back into The Game in 1985 and with a cold stop to bring up 2nd and 7 you could feel the Buckeyes starting to feel like the chips were ready to fall their way. Eager to cash in on that momentum, Earl Bruce called for a safety blitz. What he wasn't counting on was a stone-faced Jim Harbaugh sitting across the table, ready to call his bluff, or, you know, take a safety in the chin while dropping an inch-perfect ball into Kolesar's bucket over OSU's best defender.
Quarterback Again: Shoelace, by Denard Robinson
Shut up I couldn't leave it out. It's his first snap. They start by explaining why his redshirt was lifted. Then you see his smile. Then they're focusing on his shoelaces, like this is the quirk that will define him. Then he drops the snap. Then he picks it up and runs around some, probably to the sideline. Then he cuts, and it's Rookie Mode to the endzone. I've still never seen anything like it.
I was going to tell a story about how Matt invented the mortgage in 1745 but given the persnickety legal details that come with being a broker I think that might actually be heinously illegal, so I'll have to skip it. When Matt talks to lawyers about running within the bounds of the law it seems like he gets tossed a dusty 500-page tome and is told to memorize it. So our story dies before it can even live. But at least you can be secure in your decisions when it comes to owning a home, amirite?
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do much that was out of the ordinary for them. Indiana was very aggressive.
They had a standup end similar to the buck spot; I still interpreted him as a DE.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Pretty standard at this point. Smith, Houma, and Johnson got the only tailback snaps. Bunting has fallen out of the TE rotation. When they need a third guy they go with Hill or Poggi. Newsome only on goal line plays.
Ways got a few snaps but it was almost all Darboh and Chesson plus Perry in three wide sets.
11/14/2015 – Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2OT) – 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten
Other things happened on Saturday.
Florida played South Carolina, for one. As of 11 AM on November 14th Florida is 8-1, already the SEC East champions, and a fringe playoff contender. South Carolina is 3-6 and has already seen Steve Spurrier bolt for the golf course midseason. An ESPN reporter catches up with first-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain for an interview. He asks McElwain if Florida plans on beating South Carolina's head in so that the playoff committee will like them more.
This is a dumb question for a lot of reasons. For one, if Florida wins out the only thing that will keep them out of the playoff is the apocalypse. For two, only one coach is going to respond "oh sure, definitely" when asked he is going to beat a noble opponent until they look like Jared Leto in Fight Club. Unfortunately Spurrier is that man, and he is now a pro-am golfer. For three, Florida just beat Vanderbilt 9-7.
Anyway McElwain gives this reporter an eyebrow cock and laughs out an answer. It's a good answer: "we're not at the point in this program where we can think like that."
Three hours later the Gamecocks fire in two quick touchdowns to pull within 17-14. Florida fends off further scoring from an Ichabod Crane program and rips off a big run while they're trying to kill the clock; 24-14 is the final but a bounce here or there and, well, you know.
Michigan isn't at the point in their program where they can take much of anything for granted. This goes both ways. Suddenly the defense's fiery dominance is very much in question, but as compensation Jake Rudock is accounting for 500 yards of total offense. Jake Rudock is throwing the ball well downfield and it is going swimmingly. Jake Rudock is saying "eff it" and punting it up to Jehu Chesson to get Michigan down to the one. Jake Rudock has sweet nunchucks, and he is no longer hitting himself in the face with them.
Meanwhile, Michigan has finally run out of people to throw at opponents on the defensive line. Michigan has a very good starting 22 but the defense goes about 16 guys deep before a cliff. Michigan has three ILBs and then… uh. They have four CBs and then nah. They have eight… seven… six… five DL, and if there is ever a wrong time to be short-handed on the defensive line it is against high-tempo, crazy-ass Indiana when they have a healthy Jordan Howard.
pictured: anime Jordan Howard
So Kevin Wilson had a plan, or at least half of a plan. The plan: be on the field forever going fast and get Michigan tired out and then get guys who had never played before locked on the field. Sometimes the other half of the plan consisted of watching Michigan score quick touchdowns, but this quickly devolved into a replay of that one Denard-vs-Indiana game. You know, the one where Indiana went on Ishtar-length scoring drives. After those drives Michigan would get the ball back and Denard would immediately run 75 yards. Repeat until dizzy. Continue repeating until vomiting. Implement yet further repeating until unconscious.
Michigan did have a ten play touchdown drive at the beginning of the second quarter, but the rest of their drives before the one-minute drill lasted 4, 3, 2, and 3 plays. Two of those were touchdowns, so hooray for that, but as that was going on this is what Indiana was doing:
9 plays, 29 yards
11 plays, 53 yards
17(!) plays, 71 yards
8 plays, 41 yards
5 plays, 24 yards
7 plays, 61 yards
None of those drives took as long as the Michigan 10 plays drive; Indiana got that 17 play drive off in just 5:22 of clock time.
The pace and inability to get off the field murdered the beat-up Michigan defensive line. Wilson's decision to go for three separate fourth down attempts, two of which succeeded, contributed to the downward spiral of the Michigan defense and directly led to Michigan's punch-drunk second half. On the third, Wilson threw a screen on third and ten with every intention of going for it on the ensuing fourth and short.
Fire Kevin Wilson immediately, please.
Michigan came out the other end of that game, shook up but unscathed. Indiana does this to everyone. OSU was fortunate to not get hit with a pass interference penalty on a thirty-yard heave that would have tied that game. Indiana was driving for the lead halfway through the fourth quarter against MSU. Indiana lost to Rutgers.
Even if I don't think it's going to happen this time, I am now thoroughly used to the mid-game shift from "this is a football game against Indiana" to "this is a METH BENDER against THE CRAZED RACCOON MAFIA." By the end of the first quarter I was holding onto my butts. By the fourth quarter I had chewed a small hole in the earth's crust. Overtime was spent peeking through split fingers.
Michigan eventually held, though, demonstrating why it's better to have a struggling defense than a notional one. And here we are again: for Michigan, exhausted and victorious. For Indiana, heartbroken and half-blind.
Indiana should definitely never stop doing this, but they should stop doing this. Fire Kevin Wilson. Replace him with Gerry DiNardo. Have the same record but lose by 30 points every game. For your heart, Indiana, and mine.
Michigan-centric from Parking God:
This one has some things Indiana did if you can stand the buttrock soundtrack:
hoofin' it [Fuller]
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jake Rudock set an (overtime-aided) Michigan record for touchdown passes, and just about hit 10 YPA on a 46-attempt, 440 yard day, and added in 64 rushing yards for good measure. The interception was unfortunate but other than that he crushed it.
#2 Jehu Chesson was Rudock's favorite target, grabbing a deep in route on the fly and taking it to the house for a 64 yard touchdown. Rudock hit him twice on the touchdown drive that ended regulation, once on the kind of floated ball he's had trouble adjusting to so far in his career. No problems there and none on the subsequent fourth-and-five catch where two different guys blew him up.
#3 Delano Hill couldn't be held responsible for most of the bad things that happened to the defense because he wasn't out there for a lot of it, but after Dymonte Thomas was knocked out he entered to make 10 tackles, 8 of them solo. He made the plays that stopped Indiana in double over time, first blitzing to tackle Howard on second down, then tackling Sudfeld in space on third down, and finally winning man press coverage against a slot guy for the win.
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh and Jake Butt also racked up piles of yards on the receiving end of Rudock passes; Jourdan Lewis just about had two interceptions and was very difficult to beat as per usual; the offensive line couldn't get much push on the ground but they were great in pass protection.
Indiana has nineteen straight runs in the second half, reminding everyone of that RichRod game against Wisconsin, which is the last game I ever expected to be reminded of this week.
Honorable mention: Channing Stribling's very bad tackle attempt leads to a PR TD; Rudock throws an INT at an inopportune moment.
Utah: circle route pick six. Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust. UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3. BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game. Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma. Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT MSU: Obvious. Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't. Rutgers: KO return given up. Indiana: run run run run run run run run run run run run.
[After THE JUMP: if bad Rudock is Ruddock how do you subtract more Ds from his name than one]