Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players

Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players

Submitted by Michael Spath on July 29th, 2016 at 4:07 PM


[Patrick Barron]

[Ed—Seth: Every year, by tradition, Mike Spath (@MichaelSpath198), one of the best journalists on the Michigan beat and bar none the best source of Michigan hockey info, also generates the only content I ever care about from Big Ten Media Days, offering anonymity to opposing players in return for their unvarnished opinions on Michigan players.

Spath has departed The Wolverine, but he still went to Media Days and got those golden quotes. He was at WTKA this morning and shared some of them with Sam Webb. You can listen to the entire segment on WTKA's website here. With their permission, Adam and I transcribed the parts that were paraphrased from those players.

Note: "paraphrased." Note again: I SAID PARAPHRASED. On a lot of these Spath is combining several players' thoughts, and he was talking on the radio. Please don't construe that into misquotations that result in me being chased by a tall blond man who in turn is being chased by a Big Ten athlete.

If you want more Spath, he'll be contributing some at, and is expected to become a regular contributor on WTKA.]


HOW THIS WORKS: So I’ve gotten some harsh feedback on Twitter saying “you know, if I was going to say something critical I’d put my name to it,” but that’s not the way that it goes. I don’t go up to them and say “Sam, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to put your name on it.” I’ll say “Sam, I want to ask you some really honest feedback about Michigan football,” and the only way you’re going to give it to me is if I don’t quote you—if I don’t use your name.”

And so that’s how I do it and I would say this: if you’re a pretty smart person you can probably figure out that I went up to Indiana players, I went to Minnesota players, Rutgers players, Illinois players … and Northwestern.

So those are the five teams I was able to approach. It was a little more difficult this year—Sam you were there, and they didn’t go into roundtables where you have a lot more one-on-one times. So you really had to wait these guys out, and I waited until the last five minutes when they were completely empty, or I wasn’t afraid to—when a guy was getting up and leaving the podium when he’s done with his hour, or walking down the hallway with him. Because that’s when you’re gonna get the good stuff: when there’s nobody else around, and you have to really assure him: “I’m NOT gonna use your name.” You can see the light bulb going on in their head for that first second like: “I don’t know about I really wanna do this?”

But eventually, and here’s the thing too, is that when you ask these questions—and I’ve seen other people try to do it—I think if you ask generic questions you get generic answers. If you ask specific questions, you get specific answers. And so a lot of the time what I’ve focused on is specific players.



“The player that they played against in November: we had six games of film on him from earlier in the season, and who was that player? This was a guy that caught everything, was a big play waiting to happen. There’s a play where he caught the ball in the middle of the field against us, and we had two guys right there, and we thought we had the angle on him, and he pulled away!”

“There’s track speed and there’s football speed, and this guy’s got football speed. I couldn’t believe how unbelievably fast this guy was, and how much of a difference he made over the course of the second half of the season.”



I posted some of these things to Twitter and there’s already this Jourdan Lewis thing that blew up big time:

One guy said that the reason they throw at Jourdan Lewis is there’s not a fear factor. And I immediately got jumped on and ripped on. I think when you read the whole quote it’s a little more understanding.

The guy was talking about how they didn’t complete much last year—they only completed 36% of their passes that they threw at him. But they did throw at him, because he had 90 targets according to Pro Football Focus, and that’s the tenth most at any specific defensive back in the country. So I mean you’re talking about 127 teams, talking about four defensive backs for the most part on every team, so you’re looking at 400 players and he’s the tenth-most thrown-at? That’s pretty crazy for a guy who’s only giving up a 36% completion. And the guy said to me:

“You know we didn’t complete much, but he didn’t get many interceptions.” So I asked him a little bit more—why did you keep throwing at him, and he said “What did he have interceptions-wise compared to Desmond King? Two or three?” (The answer’s two). “You weren’t going to complete many passes if you threw his way, but he wasn’t going to pick you off either. You didn’t have to fear the turnover if you threw it.”

And I said “So you didn’t fear him?”

And he’s like “We didn’t fear him: no.”

So when I’m trying to present this as “there wasn’t a fear factor” that’s not really how the quote comes off. [Sam and Spath talked a bit about man-to-man versus cover 2. Upshot: the difference with Desmond King is cover 2 cornerbacks are facing the ball the whole play.]

[Hit THE JUMP for Victims of Glasgow and Wormley Anonymous, Glasgows, Guards, and Peppers]

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Florida

Submitted by Brian on July 29th, 2016 at 11:36 AM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tagIt lives part II! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

Formation notes: Michigan spent almost the entire game in nickel, as you would expect against a spread. There were only a few plays on which they deployed odd formations. Here RJS is a standup DT in a dime package on third and eleven:

dime standup dt

This was "dime standup DT," because sometimes obvious is obvious. Michigan also had a couple plays where they walked out a bonafide linebacker over WR bunches:


But it was mostly standard stuff as Florida failed to threaten those formations.

Substitution notes: Peppers missed this game with a broken hand. Michigan moved Lewis inside and played Clark and Stribling on the outside. Thomas and Hill rotated at one safety spot next to Wilson. LB was the usual Morgan/Bolden pairing with both guys getting spotted by Gedeon.

DL was variable, with Wormley seeing time at three tech and SDE; Charlton was at WDE and SDE; RJS got a lot of WDE time. Hurst and Henry started at DT and got the bulk of the snaps. Marshall saw some snaps at WDE. Godin and Strobel saw scattered snaps on the interior. Brady Pallante even got a few plays in.

[After THE JUMP: way less data than the offense provided.]

Unverified Voracity Attacks Cover Four

Unverified Voracity Attacks Cover Four

Submitted by Brian on July 1st, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Scott Matzka has a very bad disease. Former Michigan hockey player Scott Matzka, who was a short-handed goal waiting to happen and took EECS 380 at the same time I did, has ALS. Please visit his site and help out if you can.

A Michigan Man does not jackknife powerbomb Kevin Nash.

Apparent attrition. Brad Hawkins has not enrolled:

Hawkins' high school coach at Camden, Dwayne Savage, confirmed that Hawkins is not in school yet as he's still awaiting clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse -- now known as the NCAA Eligibility Center. Savage said that Hawkins still plans on playing football at Michigan this season and hopes to have his clearance at some point toward the middle of July.

"He's not in school yet," Savage said. "I believe it's a Clearinghouse situation. Right now everything's still a go for Michigan. He just has to get everything cleared before he can step on campus."

This doesn't happen often with Michigan recruits so I don't have a feel for how likely it is that things get resolved by fall. Sam Webb is saying he doesn't have high hopes Hawkins will enroll this fall. Michigan might pick him back up after a prep semester.

If you've read the recent recruiting profiles, you know that in my opinion this is more of an issue for the safety depth chart than receiver because I really like the two sleeper-ish guys they took and have yet to get to Dylan Crawford.

Speaking of those sleeper-ish guys. PSU, OSU, and MSU are all using a ton of cover four, so this Ian Boyd article on the route slot receivers have to get down to bust these Ds is of considerable relevance:

For teams with QBs that have enough arm, against cover 4 defenses that like to bracket the single side receiver, this is a really popular way to attack the field safety:

7-in-in vs special

Defenses that either want to bracket the single-side receiver in cover 2 or else drop the boundary safety down to stuff the run love to play this coverage against trips formations. The outside corner is in straight man coverage on the "X" receiver while the space-backer (S), middle linebacker (M), and field safety (F) are playing zone over the two slot receivers.

This is variously called "flag" or "seven" or a "corner" route. I go with the latter in UFR, FWIW.

Impact on the game

Perhaps the biggest response to cover 4 that has come into vogue around the game is the use of vertical routes from the slot receiver with which to attack the safeties. There are other good route combinations for attacking cover 4 that don't include seven routes but they all generally involve sending a slot receiver down the field to either attack the safety or occupy him so the offense can isolate a corner.

Teams that don't have receivers they can use in the slot to attack safeties down the field are at a major disadvantage in stopping cover 4 teams from successfully bringing numbers to stop both their outside receivers AND their running backs.

Perhaps the biggest winner in all of this is the "undersized" outside receiver who's excellent in running a variety of routes from different areas on the field. Three of the top four receivers in Big 12 play in 2015 (statistically) were Sterling Shepard (5'10" 195), Corey Coleman (5'11" 185), and Jakeem Grant (5'7" 168). Each of them were wildly effective in part because of the seven route and the way that opening up space outside allows smaller receivers to move inside and still have opportunities to run vertical routes.

Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, and Dylan Crawford are all this guy. (Crawford's not undersized but he's not huge either.) Michigan appears to have recruited this year's class with a major emphasis on winning vertical matchups from the slot.

This can't be rational. Kenpom puts together a graph of playing time for starters depending on how many fouls they have and comes back with a very Beilein approach:



Two fouls: The player with two fouls has his minutes severely restricted for the entirety of the first half. There is some leniency given with 4-6 minutes until halftime, but there is very little opportunity for the player with two fouls to see the floor in the first half. There is odd unanimity among coaches that a player with two fouls should be protected with 20:01 remaining and should not be protected with 20:00 left in the game. If you are of the mindset that coaches are too aggressive benching guys with two fouls, this is a good piece of evidence that a herd mentality exists.

I am of that mindset and even more of that mindset when it comes to John Beilein teams, which have historically been top ten in foul avoidance. I have zero hope that Beilein will suddenly change his behavior in this department, so let's at least hope that Billy Donlon makes the defense way more handsy so that first-half autobench is at least somewhat more justified.

Large men: present. Michigan's basketball roster just got a lot more beef on it. One, Mo Wagner is no longer a chopstick:

Two, both Jon Teske and Austin Davis are listed at 240+ on Michigan's just-released roster. Both are physically viable this year. This will be a nice change from last year, when Wagner couldn't get off the bench for big chunks of the season and Mark Donnal was the default.

More persons of NFL interest. A couple of "interior linemen" make another one of those top tens. Scare quotes because:

3. Taco Charlton, Michigan

There might not be much mention of Charlton in the preseason considering he has started just four games headed into his senior season, but film doesn't lie, and NFL scouts have Charlton pegged squarely on their radar. At 6-6, 285 with long arms and a muscular build, Charlton has the perfect frame to play as a 3-4 defensive end. However, he could also serve as a 4-3 base end with the ability to bump inside on rushing downs in the NFL. Charlton had 33 pressures and 5.5 sacks despite playing just 43 percent of the Wolverines' defense snaps and those numbers are getting ready to make another jump. Charlton has freaky athletic traits and functional power to go with them.

This 285 pound dude is likely Michigan's starting weakside end, because the rest of the line is two-deep with very good veterans or Rashan Gary. Anyway, this is what I am talking about when I mention Charlton as a big breakout candidate. His production in limited time last year was really good. Michigan's depth means he might jump from the rotation guy with the least playing time to the one with the most. With Lawrence Marshall moving to the strongside, Chase Winovich is the main and only competition at WDE.

Wormley also made the list a few spots lower:

6. Chris Wormley, Michigan

Wormley Has the frame and athleticism to be considered as either an interior lineman or defensive end in a 4-3 or at defensive end for an odd front. Wormley is powerful and can plow through the edges of blockers. While some rushers are content to try and whip the man in front of them, Wormley is able to dart left and right to create doubt and uncertainty for blockers. He combines his strength and foot quickness to generate a pass rush that is very translatable on the next level. Wormley is generating a good deal of buzz in the scouting community and that buzz will get much louder this year.

Wormley is apparently headed for three-tech this year if things go to plan. Gary will have to obliterate the TEs.

Peppers makes the LB list and Lewis the DB list, though Lewis is just 9th because his size puts a "firm ceiling" on his NFL draft prospects.

Recruiting is important, part infinity. PFF released a list of the top 101 players in college football that we mentioned in this space because it has five different Michigan defenders on it. Some dude on 247 ran it through some statistical analysis. Results:

Minimum: 1 ~ 1.000
First Quartile: 31.5 ~ 98.40
Median: 238 ~ 90.90
Third Quartile: 1000 ~ 84.19
Maximum: 3000

Over 25% of players listed in PPFs player rankings were rated as 5* players coming out of high school by the composite. Over 50% were rated as 4* players. While recruiting rankings aren't perfect they are a strong correlate of future success.

Five star players are approximately 1-3% of the pool and four-stars about 10%. This is in line with findings about the NFL draft; applying this analysis to PFF's rankings of college players based on their performance right now is even stronger evidence that recruiting rankings matter.

Etc.: It's Dr. Z week on MMQB. SI talks with Lindsay Miller about the case the NCAA is building against Ole Miss. Charles Matthews profiled.

Draftageddon 2016: Unleash the Linemen

Draftageddon 2016: Unleash the Linemen

Submitted by Seth on June 28th, 2016 at 10:20 AM



The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."

Previously on Draftageddon:





ACE: Round 3, Pick 1: Jehu Chesson, WR, Michigan


[Bryan Fuller]

OFFENSE: RB Saquon Barkley, WEAPON Jabrill Peppers, WR Jehu Chesson
SPECIAL TEAMS: KR Jabrill Peppers, PR Jabrill Peppers

Chesson, as you’re well aware, had more close-but-not-quite moments than I care to recall in the first nine games of his junior year as he incrementally improved while waiting for Jake Rudock to calibrate his deep ball. The final four games, post-calibration, were a Wow Experience.


Indiana is bad and should feel bad, but those last two games came against a pair of first-round cornerbacks in Eli Apple and Vernon Hargreaves—the latter is still waiting for that hitch:

I’d be more wary of basing this pick on a small-sample breakout if it hadn’t been so easy to see coming in the first place. CBSSports agrees: Chesson is their top-ranked senior receiver in the country.

In addition to his downfield receiving prowess, he also provides big-play ability on end-arounds (8 rushes for 155 yards and 2 TDs last year) and kickoff returns, as well as great blocking for a receiver. Again, this pick is also a reflection of the other available talent; the next-best receiver on the board is probably one of PSU’s Chris Godwin, Nebraska’s Jordan Westerkamp, or Amara Darboh.

[After THE JUMP: We take the linemen Pro Football Focus tells us to. Not our fault if their helmets have wings]

Unverified Voracity Discusses Robot Bloopers

Unverified Voracity Discusses Robot Bloopers

Submitted by Brian on December 8th, 2015 at 2:17 PM


[Bryan Fuller]

Early entry tea leaves. In a welcome change, Michigan has a number of underclassmen good enough to consider entering the NFL draft. This, unfortunately, brings with it the possibility that some of these folks will actually enter said draft. A brief rundown:

  • Jake Butt said he would definitely come back if he wasn't projected to go in the top three rounds. Mel Kiper has him the second tight end available and NFL Draft Scout just posted a mock in which he is a third rounder, which seems low. Butt told reporters that "it's 50/50" yesterday. More encouragingly, he listed many reasons for a return and a desire to talk to Harbaugh about what he should do. [UPDATE: Butt tweeted he'd be back.]
  • After a confusing interval in which Chris Wormley deflected questions about not returning for a fifth year, he apparently told reporters he would "definitely" be back.
  • Jourdan Lewis offered up another tweet indicating he would return next year. He is doing his homework. QED. And another after some radio person urged him to go—said radio person, Mike Sullivan, is the producer of Michigan's IMG pregame show. Excellent career move, Mike.
  • Willie Henry has not been heard from on this front. He is currently under the radar to NFL draft sites but if he wants to go he will get drafted at some point. There have been some rumblings that he would look to go if he met a certain threshold in his draft projections.

Michigan has several other draft-eligible players with remaining eligibility but none seem like serious threats to leave. The O/U on departures is set at 1.

In other Jourdan Lewis news. He is a first-team All-American to USA Today, which I now like better than the Thorpe committee until the next time I have to evaluate my relative preference for things based on my pre-existing opinions.

We are hungry for things. Michigan sold out its bowl allotment in hours.

This is why they always get the top spot they could possibly get picked for. Michigan also implemented a system where fans could reserve bowl tickets for specific games and not others earlier this year, so they probably had a big head start on moving through those tickets. Even so… dang. I didn't know that was even a possibility any more.

Let's check in on Rutgers. The New York Times notices that Rutgers exists for a brief moment:

With the coach went the university’s athletic director, who never entirely recovered from suspicions that Rutgers had failed to vet her hiring two years ago. That was to replace the previous athletic director, who was fired along with the basketball coach after a video, looped repeatedly on national television, backed up allegations that the coach verbally and physically abused players — and that Rutgers had known about it.

And the bad news may not be over: The university is investigating whether the athletic department ignored its own policy requiring the dismissal of players who fail drug tests, as one told prosecutors after his arrest.

What a good organization to admit to the Big Ten. Rutgers doesn't get a full cut until 2021, which will be just in time for the league to kick them out in a world where the cable bundle has evaporated into countless disparate streams. Is there another article about that now?

No amount of wishing upon a star at the Disney offices in Burbank or the ESPN offices in Bristol, Connecticut, can hold back the forces of consumer choice that the Internet has unleashed. As a cable industry executive put it to Sports Business Daily recently, “The cost of goods is going up and sales are going down…that’s not a good trend.”

Every participant in the sports economy—franchise owners, athletes, programming networks, cable companies, and even the fans themselves—have benefitted from this broadband version of the hide-the-ball trick. That big fat $100 average household cable bill that everyone pays has served as a siphoning conduit of cash forcibly flowing from fan and uninterested non-fan alike.

The brazen economics of modern sports are being revealed and dismantled by the Internet, and the coming fumble-pile of desperate industry participants should make for some great viewing. That’ll be bad news for $30 million-a-year over-the-hill third basemen, the greater fools who pay them, and the unknowingly subsidized superfans who love them.


This is probably a good joke. I don't understand econ jargon, but those of you who do may enjoy this tweet.

I hope this was a good tweet.

I was going to put this in the mailbag but it took so long to read this that I had to go have a lie down. A reader asked for an opinion on a very long meditation on "access" going the way of the passenger pigeon by John Herrmann of the Awl.

If you're unfamiliar with Herrmann, I mostly come across him when he writes exhaustingly nihilist pieces about the changes the internet is forcing on content providers. (He recognizes this: "The Content Wars is an occasional column intended to keep a majority of Content coverage in one easily avoidable place.") They are full of bloopers from robotics competitions repurposed into depressing metaphor gifs. Each accurately diagnoses something going on and collapses, like the robots, into a pile of loathing at the end. This one is no exception.

But, yes, access. It's difficult to find the summarizing quote to pull in a piece that's seemingly UFR length. I guess here's this bit on sports:

A world in which the NFL doesn’t need TV would be a world in which the NFL really doesn’t need a traditional outside press corps. To that end, perhaps, ACE is a new media company created by the NFL Players’ Association that hopes to succeed by “leveraging… exclusive group player rights and access to more than 1,800 active players to produce compelling sports-lifestyle content focused on athletes.” This month, a player for the Jets is suggesting to reporters, apropos of not very much, that reporters have too much access to players in the NFL, which is arguably the most restrictive league in professional sports. Also this month, when Kobe Bryant announced his retirement, he didn’t give an exclusive to a reporter who had covered him for years, or to Sports Illustrated, or to anyone. He published it as a personal post on the Player’s Tribune, a first-person platform for athletes founded by Derek Jeter and open to all major sports. (NASCAR? Sure!) The rest of the sports media, again, wrote its stories anyway.

A lot of the handwringing over loss of access strikes me as ludicrous. What's being removed is not really access but "access," that fiction in which a person of interest pretends to give something so a writer can pretend to critically evaluate the thing the person of interest said. When Rasheed Wallace blew that fiction up a lot of people got really mad:

And I guess if your job consists of surrounding the things that other people said with some sentences to link them together that would be a… actually, wait. "Both teams played hard" makes your job easy. Getting mad at that is not about whether your ability to do your job has been compromised, it's getting mad at Rasheed Wallace for yanking away the curtain on the City Animals presser you've been having for decades.

Back when MGoBlog stuck its toe into the access pool it felt like a trap. It still feels like a trap, because if someone gives you something they can take it away. Relying on access is like relying on Twitter's API—you can make the best third-party client in the world but Twitter's going to pick a winner and then you're going to die if you're not that winner. Then Twitter's going to buy that winner because if they're picking a winner, Twitter seems like a pretty good one.

So we have access, but we don't rely on it. Of late Adam's gotten some one on one time at media availabilities and used it to get some interesting stuff. We'd miss it if it was gone. But it wouldn't kill us.

If you are in business with someone who can kill you with no repercussions to themselves, you are on death row. Some people figure this out and go become lawyers. Some don't.

Michigan, and colleges in general, are less likely to cut people off like the NFL is definitely, definitely going to do in the near future. They are (mostly) public institutions with a point of view on press freedoms (sort of) subject to FOIA. But that doesn't change the fundamental law content in the internet age: be the quote, not the quoter.

Etc.: A list of all the weird and unfortunate things that happened while Cody Kessler was at USC is a very long list. Chad Catt looked pretty good in the second half of the Saturday Wisconsin game. Doyle is sweaty.

Monday Presser 12-7-15: Players

Monday Presser 12-7-15: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 8th, 2015 at 11:00 AM



Graham Glasgow and Joe Bolden

Just thoughts on the bowl game and the Citrus Bowl and the matchup with Florida, generally speaking.

JB: “Florida’s a good team, solid team. I think their offense obviously hits plays and has hit plays this year. Haven’t been too deep into the film. Just watched a little bit of the SEC title game but I’ve seen their defense play, too, and they have a solid defense as well.”

What have you seen in their defense, Graham? Have you watched them?

“I watched a little bit of the SEC championship game like Joe, and they have a solid defense. Lot of big hitters, big plays, and I think that we’ll gameplan them well and we’ll be ready to go on…January 1st. Yeah, that’s when we play. All right, awesome.”

Coach Durkin was obviously a big part of what you guys did this year. Your thoughts on shifting gears to Greg Mattison this game?

JB: “It’s what we- some of us, it’s what we know better, I guess, in a way. I’ve played three of my four years under him. I love how he coached and how he coaches. Just excited to- you know, I came in and my first game was under him, and I’m going out and my last game’s going to be played with him calling the defense, too. So, it’s pretty exciting from my standpoint. I think defensively there’s not much…I mean, Durkin and Matty were together before Michigan, and there’s not a whole lot of I guess you could call it turnover if you want from one system to another or one guy to the next.”

What was DJ’s message to you when he told you he was going to take the Maryland job and what are your thoughts about him moving on to a head coaching position?

JB: “Yeah, I think everyone on the defense is excited for him. I think we all knew at some point he was going to be a head coach being only 37 years old and being the coach that he is. We’re all excited for him. Excited for him, but at the same time I guess for the guys next year, obviously they want to beat him.”

Any words of wisdom for Maryland players dealing with his ‘explosability’?

JB: “Yeah. [/laughs] Just soak it all in. Listen to him every time he speaks. He’s a younger guy with a lot of energy and he knows exactly what he’s talking about.”

[After THE JUMP: Chesson, Butt, and Wormley]

Unverified Voracity Throws Coins At Heiko

Unverified Voracity Throws Coins At Heiko

Submitted by Brian on December 4th, 2015 at 11:46 AM


Heiko sings the hits! Remember Heiko? Used to badger Al Borges about bubble screens, was Adam before Adam was Adam. Currently turning in his Punt/Counterpunt column about sixty seconds before I want to post it. Draftageddon chaos agent. That guy. Doctor guy.

Well, if you'd like to see him sing(?), that is now a thing you can do. The med students have this charity, you see:

Every winter, Galens members don red ponchos, grab metal buckets, and take to the streets of greater Ann Arbor to collect monetary donations for the children of Washtenaw County. Held on the first weekend of December since 1927, Tag Days has become an important Ann Arbor tradition and occupies a central role in Galens' mission to support local children's charities. Galens members annually raise tens of thousands of dollars, with 100% of the collected money donated directly to local organizations and charities.

Last year they raised over 75k via various methods including people throwing coins at med students for singing*, and you can do this by THROWING COINS at HEIKO in front of Gratzi from about FOUR O'CLOCK TODAY to MIDNIGHT.

Or you could just donate here if you don't want to throw quarters at Heiko for some reason. Weirdo.

*[This is an assumption, but I'm sure you'll agree it is a good one.]

Things that happened. Ross Fulton breaks down events that transpired on Saturday.

Meyer and Warinner borrowed a page from Utah and Indiana. Both offenses had success outside against Michigan's cover 1-man defense by forcing Wolverine defenders with contain responsibilities to cover receivers while the offense runs outside, and by using spread read principles to outnumber a Michigan defense with a deep safety.

Meyer's staff used a similar strategy. Frequently using two tight ends - with one aligned as a blocking slot receiver - the Buckeyes' success began with power read. On power read the offensive line blocks power, but - rather than kicking out the defensive end - the quarterback reads the end. If he crashes, the quarterback gives on the sweep. If the end stays wide the quarterback runs power following the pulling guard.

With Michigan using a common opponent tactic - slanting towards Ezekiel Elliott to limit tight zone - Ohio State ran outside opposite the slant, providing Elliott a running lane beyond the crashing end.


When Michigan prevented this from happening again it opened up JT Barrett on the inverted veer, because Michigan took a basic and completely predictable approach to dealing with the OSU run game. Michigan changed nothing except occasionally running a 3-3-5. It was incredibly frustrating to see inverted veer gash Michigan over and over again as if the Wolverines had no idea it would be coming. On the above play they have not one but two 100% irrelevant players, as the backside corner and safety aren't blocked but can't do anything about the gain.

Durkin spent the entire year running the same defense predicated on decisively winning DL matchups, and when that was not true his answers were miserably bad. The final drive of regulation for Indiana saw Michigan passively eat run after run without reacting; this game was as if the last 15 years of football had never happened.

Let's not change anything. Iowa is 12-0, which is not something even Kirk Ferentz's family saw coming. Spencer on the power of doing nothing at all:

Iowa football never changed, and needed to badly, at least from the perspective of someone looking at the long decline of the program into a 7-6 stasis interrupted by bumps into 11-2 and drops into 4-8 territory. The Hawkeyes had become an EKG of a drunk man falling into a deep and dreamless sleep. This drunk man was also hypothermic and sleeping under a bridge.

Then in 2015, that drunk man woke up, found a flawlessly tailored suit under a concrete overhang beneath that bridge, downed a bottle of Steel Reserve, and walked into the nearest investment bank and become a confident, beaming tycoon overnight.

Iowa should have changed everything, and didn't. They're undefeated despite doing few things they haven't done for years. You didn't think they could do it, but they did. Iowa, the laziest hard-working team in America, wore the same shirt until it came back into style.

So if DJ Durkin runs that defense against OSU for the next 12 years it might work the 12th time. That's the ticket.

Veni, vici, Harbaugh. Jim Hackett is stepping down as Michigan's athletic director. He never did get the Notre Dame series back, but other than that probably impossible thing he hit 1.000 in a brief tenure as Michigan's athletic director.

Hackett decided he should hire Jim Harbaugh. Also he got Harbaugh. This seems like a rather obvious thing to do. But as we saw with the previous athletic director, sometimes people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason. Hackett, above all, was a solid dude acting sensibly.

I have heard that Hackett was close to exclusively focused on the big-ticket items, which was the right move for him and Michigan. Unfortunately that did mean that the department's Brandon-imparted momentum continued in various ways. The hockey schedule, accepting the worst possible basketball tournament for fans, and lingering Special K issues, particularly at Yost, irked me over the past 12 months. Hackett also paid virtually no attention to non-revenue sports. This is again fine for someone who is trying to get a few big-picture things right, but none of it is great for the long term.

Baumgardner wrote a column with a pithy headline:

Jim Hackett steadied Michigan's ship, but next AD must be able to steer it


Steering the ship. Michigan should be properly chagrined by their decision to pass on the actual athletic directors their department had spawned last time. Anyone other than the four sitting ADs that came from the pre-Brandon department would be an enormous upset. Those gentlemen:

  • Warde Manuel, AD, UConn. Previously the AD at Buffalo, where he hired Turner Gill for those two years where Buffalo was not terrible. At UConn hired Kevin Ollie, which was a given after a national title, and Bob Diaco after taking a swing at Pat Narduzzi.
  • Jeff Long, AD, Arkansas. Hired Bert out from under Wisconsin, which is pretty impressive. Also hired Bobby Petrino away from the Falcons, which was a good idea until it really really wasn't. Cofopoff chair.
  • Brad Bates, AD, Boston College. Is, uh, at Boston College? Before he was at Miami and helped acquire Enrico Blasi and a new arena for the Redhawks. BC Interruption take here if you're inclined.
  • Joe Parker, AD, Colorado State. The favorite candidate of many people who worked in the department when he was around. Recommended by most of the Brandon-initiated Michigan Athletic Department Diaspora. Only one year as an AD but has held posts just below that level for a decade.

Former Oregon State AD Bob De Carolis was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and resigned from his post in 2015. While Hackett brought him on as a consultant that probably doesn't indicate he's a serious candidate for the job.

Oh, and Tom Lewand's free! Anybody? Anybody other than Mark Snyder? Nobody? That appears to be nobody signing up for a guy with zero AD experience, but plenty of hiring Jim Caldwell experience. (Other staffers say he's the Lions' coach, and that the Lions are a local professional football franchise with a star-crossed reputation.)

I haven't heard much buzz on the search yet but a few months ago I did get a note that Manuel was probably the favorite.

Linebackers to be coached. Chris Partridge will pick up linebacker duties for the bowl game. This allows him to go on the road in the absence of Durkin, which is a good thing.

Given the way the release is phrased it doesn't seem like he's getting a position coaching slot permanently—or at least that's not the plan right now. Keeping Partridge for another year or two before he does move onward and upward is a good thing, especially with Michigan having most of New Jersey on lock.

Stats to be goggled at. Michigan features twice in a PFF column on crazy stats, and this is the craziest:

Even though [Jake] Rudock has had an underwhelming season, he has one thing going for him. He leads the country in accuracy under pressure at 71.4 percent. That’s especially surprising considering he was ranked 40th last year in the same category at 56.8 percent. It’s not a small sample size either. Only nine quarterbacks have had more snaps under pressure than Rudock.

I guess "underwhelming" is a thing you could say about Rudock's 2015 if you are not a Michigan fan. If you are a Michigan fan he's the guy holding onto your hand as you reach for the Holy Grail in a crevasse. Also, his first half was indeed very underwhelming. His finish not so much.

Related: I thought Michigan's pass protection was more or less good this year, what's the deal with all the pressures?


Chris Wormley (DT, Michigan) is having the best pass-rushing season by a defensive tackle in the last two years.

Wormley is the definition of a pass rushing specialist. On every one of the 269 plays that he has lined up as a defensive tackle the opposing offense has passed the ball. On every pass play, Wormley has rushed the passer. … Wormley currently leads the country in PFF’s signature stat, pressure percentage (PRP) at 12.3. … The senior from Ohio has improved tremendously from last season. His current grade of +35.8 is over 25 points higher than is 2014 grade. He has graded positively in every game except last week’s game against Ohio State where he struggled with his run defense.

When I saw that I thought to myself "he's a defensive end, not a DT," but they cover that in the paragraph on him.

I think the way PFF is crediting rushes here is generous to Wormley. He benefited from the pile of stunts Michigan ran—without question the best thing Durkin did this year is base his pass rush on constant stunting—and in UFR I've started splitting credit between the guy who drives the lane open and guy who loops around for the glory. Wormley did have a major breakout season, don't get me wrong, but Michigan's ability to pressure was a team thing in which all three DT/DE types contributed about equally.

Etc.: NC State highlights. Holdin' The Rope on the game. Texas key plays. UT take on that game. Walton's issue a "slight ankle sprain"; exhale. Kansas still has a student athletics fee. Love Moritz McGary. The Big Ten has a big rights package coming up.

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 30th, 2015 at 9:00 AM



Jake Butt and Amara Darboh

Jake, I know you guys put a lot into this and you were down only four at the half. What happened, and what’s the feeling after that one?

“Uh, we just didn’t execute. I think we only got the ball once or twice in the third quarter. In a game like this you’ve got to be able to run the ball and play defense, and we weren’t running the ball very well. We weren’t getting stops on defense. We just didn’t execute. In terms of how it feels, it hurts.”

9-3 is obviously a big turnaround season, but losing two of those to your rivals- does that sour the season at all for you?

AD: “Yeah. That’s obviously not something that we wanted to do. We went into both of those games planning to win, but in both of those games we didn’t execute until the end and the end result shows it.”

The improvements in the passing game that we’ve seen throughout the year- can you talk about those a little bit or detail those. Obviously maybe not today, but through the season the marked improvement in passing.

JB: “Again, it’s come a long way and each week you’re going to get more comfortable with each other and with the quarterbacks, the quarterbacks are going to get more comfortable with you running your routes, the timing, the ball placement, and all that. I mean, we had a good gameplan. We thought we’d be able to execute. We had some good plays downfield today, but it wasn’t enough. You know, you gotta get back in the film and see what you did well, see what you did wrong, make some corrections, and continue to do the things that are working.”

What was the hang-up with the passing game today?

“I don’t know. I actually didn’t think- we weren’t too bad in the passing game today. We left some plays out there that needed to be made, but we weren’t too bad. But again, in a game like this you need to be damn near perfect and we weren’t.”

What was the message from your head coach after the game?

AD: “Just focus on the season. We still have one more game, and no matter what bowl game we go to and what team we play we’re going to learn from this game and go out ready to play.”

[After THE JUMP: Wormley and Chesson]

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU

Submitted by Brian on November 26th, 2015 at 11:38 AM

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumb_th[3]Upon Further Review has a sponsor.

Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Thanksgiving? I'm trying not to accidentally have a war on Christmas here. Whichever Thanksgiving greeting you feel is appropriate appears in this space along with a reminder that Matt's good at making mortgages happen and a solid all-around dude, so if you're in the market you could do a lot worse.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.


[Eric Upchurch]

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.

Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.

Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.

[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]

More Or Less Making Sense Most Of The Time

More Or Less Making Sense Most Of The Time

Submitted by Brian on November 23rd, 2015 at 12:24 PM

11/21/2015 – Michigan 28, Penn State 16 – 9-2, 6-1 Big Ten


[Eric Upchurch]

I have seen things when Michigan plays Penn State. I have seen boggling things. Things I should not repeat but am about to anyway.

I have seen a free Hail Mary handed the opposition. I have seen a timeout just before an intentional safety. I have seen 27 runs for 27 yards. I have seen Michigan's slot receiver left alone, all alone. I have seen a slot receiver wonder if any of these 100,000 people can see him, especially the offensive coordinator. I have seen a slot receiver's constituent atoms disperse as he convinces himself he must not exist after all. Then I saw some more runs for one yard. Somewhere in there Dennis Norfleet dances in a loop for all time, because sure that makes as much sense as anything.

I have been baffled. I have been enraged. I have been morbidly entertained. I have been stupefied, watching Michigan play Penn State.


Things have been a bit frustrating the past few weeks, what with an avalanche of procedure penalties, offsides calls, and special teams mishaps. But when presented with a situation where they did not expect to and could not run the ball much, Michigan did not repeatedly bang their collective head into a brick wall.

Michigan's final drive featured five De'Veon Smith runs and one kneel-down. Five Jake Rudock attempts were sacks or scrambles. Once those are put in the appropriate bins, Michigan ran just 19 times to 43 passes.

Two years ago in that very stadium a complete wreck of an offensive line took on an equally stout Penn State defense. They didn't throw one wide receiver screen. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran 27 times for 27 yards. This year before garbage time time, De'Veon Smith had 8 carries; 6 went to Chesson and Peppers.

Michigan's going to be a good rushing offense. Probably great. But even though that's what Harbaugh wants to do, he adapted to the situation he was presented with. That's terrific.

Coaching can be divided into a few different categories. Development, recruiting, and tactics seem to cover the bases. While Michigan is still struggling with the near-total lack of the former under the previous regime, the latter was totally on point here. Can't say that about two years ago. Or a year ago. While Michigan remains a bit wobbly, a bit rickety, the things they are doing make sense.

Michigan played Penn State on the road and the only stupefying things that happened came from reliable sources like Big Ten referees and James Franklin trying to manage a game. Meanwhile Ohio State played Michigan State in the most stupefying game of the year. Now is the time to sit back and appreciate the fact that things more or less make sense.

It ain't perfect and it'll never be, but Michigan tries a bunch of things and takes what the opposition gives and if something isn't going great they stop doing it. The only time I've gotten really twitchy about tactics was against Indiana when Michigan ran play action on second and twenty that led to an interception. (I was mildly twitchy about Michigan's passivity on Indiana's go-ahead touchdown drive.)

In a world where Ohio State throws 16 times against Michigan State, where Tim Beckman is seen as a viable hire for a position more involved than vending machine*, where every coach in America seems to need a 14-year-old kid who plays Madden nonstop on the sideline, "more or less makes sense most of the time" is gold. Michigan's coaching staff has not punched itself in the face for four hours on any given Saturday, and in the cold light of dawn two days after a stupefying weekend of college football that warms the ol' cockles right up.

*[Not "vending machine technician." Vending machine.]


Parking God:

Wolverine Devotee:

Also a Butt TD solo clip.



Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Amara Darboh changed the complexion of the game with an outstanding tip-toe catch along the sidelines at the end of the first half. He had six other catches and blocked for a bunch of wide receiver screens, as well.

#2 Chris Wormley was the most consistent and dangerous of Michigan's defensive linemen, racking up 1.5 sacks and another half TFL. Wormley and the rest of the DL gave up one big Saquon Barkley run (mostly on Willie Henry and the linebackers) and shut everything else down, leaving PSU relying on the tempestuous Christian Hackenberg to move the ball.

#3 Jake Rudock threw one ugly interception. When not doing that he completed two-thirds of his passes for 256 yards. 6.7 yards an attempt isn't electric but since a half-dozen or more of those were wide receiver screens that Michigan used in place of a running game that may understate things. Also, Penn State has had one of the best pass defenses in the country to date.

Honorable mention: Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson had 66 and 69 receiving yards, respectively, and along with Darboh have established Michigan's receiving corps as a very good one. Henry, Hurst, and Taco Charlton helped out immensely, minus the Henry cut. Jourdan Lewis remains Jourdan Lewis; his KO return also helped seal the game.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
8: Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers, #1 Indiana, #3 Penn State), Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers, #2 Penn State)
5: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota),
3: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland), Amara Darboh(#1 PSU)
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU), Jehu Chesson(#2 Indiana)
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota), Delano Hill(#3 Indiana).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Jourdan Lewis rips off a 60-yard kickoff return after Penn State draws within five, setting up a short field that Michigan drives for a game-sealing TD. Better is that he called his shot with Harbaugh beforehand.

Honorable mention: Darboh's tip-toe catch. #Buttdown. Harbaugh strippin' rage. Any number of sacks and TFLs.


Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.
Rutgers: Peppers as Denard.
Indiana: Delano Hill seals it with a PBU.
PSU: Jourdan Lewis breaks their back on a kickoff.


This week's worst thing ever.

Ohio State tests Michigan State's secondary twice. In a game of football. Against Michigan State. What are you even doing?

Honorable mention: Punt blocked. Any number of offsides or false start penalties. The touchdown Peppers allowed. Any number of infuriatingly bad calls. That fourth and ten conversion against great Lewis coverage.


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.
PSU: OSU's WHAT ARE THOOOOOOSE gameplan against MSU.

[After THE JUMP: defense back, Rudock maintaining.]