This Week's Obsession: Skipping the Bowl

This Week's Obsession: Skipping the Bowl Comment Count

Seth December 20th, 2018 at 10:12 AM

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Nick's Question:

Michigan will be without Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, and Karan Higdon for the Peach Bowl. What should be done (besides the obvious) and what do you think will be done?

Brian: What's the obvious?

Seth: Pay the players.

Brian: Okay and what else could possibly give the NCAA leverage in these situations?

Seth: Short of voiding their scholarships pretty much nothing.

Brian: I don't think there are even scholarships to void in these situations. Most guys headed for the draft leave school to do full-time prep.

The Mathlete: The leverage here is on the games becoming meaningful, which means the solution to this problem is...expand the playoff.

Brian: One thing that's totally crazy is that two years ago Danny Kanell was coming up with insane conspiracy theories about Jabrill Peppers skipping the bowl game by faking an injury and the next NY6 bowl Michigan plays in is going to be skipped by anyone the NFL might take in the mid-rounds.

And everyone's like "yup!"

Seth: Expanding the playoff changes things for a few teams. They would have to go back to when they do have leverage. Start with the new freshman class and a new rider to their letters-of-intent: If you leave your team early you owe your school the cost of all of your schooling. Schools obviously could forgive that.

To be clear I am not advocating this.

The Mathlete: Would schools ever enforce that?

Brian: There is absolutely no way that would fly in the current environment where trying to restrict a transfer to a team you're going to play causes vast outrage. Public opinion has shifted so hard against the schools that even stuff I'm fine with--restricting transfers from teams you play--is no longer tenable.

The Mathlete: And could you imagine Michigan going to Rashan Gary right now asking for their scholarship money back?

Brian: That would really perk up recruiting.

[After THE JUMP: We don't really have any answers but there are perspectives]

Comments

Exit: Devin Bush Jr.

Exit: Devin Bush Jr. Comment Count

Seth December 19th, 2018 at 10:03 AM

As we all expected he should, Devin Bush announced he will forego his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. He also will miss the Peach Bowl, and explained why:

As much as we regret not having our dear little deathbacker on the field later this month, I think we all would have regretted it more if Bush had reaggravated that ginger hip in a meaningless less meaningful game. It's clear he was considering playing anyway. Alas, Bush swinging from the shoulders of two trainers as the wheels fell off against Ohio State will be the final image Michigan fans will see of one of the best linebackers to ever come through the program, and the previously #1 defense in the country will play its bowl game without its literal and emotional core.

From the beginning Harbaugh pursued Bush, a three-star to most sites for most of his recruitment, with the same furor that Bush pursued quarterbacks, allowing onetime 4-star commit David Reese to switch to Florida and five-star-to-some Caleb Kelly to join Oklahoma with less than five-star resistance. Harbaugh planned his biggest satellite camp of 2016 at Bush's high school, recruited Bush's teammates Josh Metellus and Devin Gil—both of whom are now starters—and later hired Bush's head coach, who also happens to be a Florida State All-American and Bush's dad, Devin Bush Sr., to an important position on staff. The legacy of Bush's recruitment is now enshrined in two ridiculous NCAA rules—satellite camps and hiring people associated with recruits—pushed by programs upset that Michigan got to enjoy a true Southern talent without resorting to their more southern strategies.

That all-out pursuit paid off as Bush earned the primary backup role at middle linebacker as a true freshman, and exploded into a future first rounder in his first game as a sophomore starter. Many tried, but no ballcarrier ever managed to find an edge that Bush couldn't beat him to, and late in his career Bush was picking up a horse-crap personal foul per game by appearing in a quarterback's chest faster than a Big Ten ref's neurological network could process it. MGoBlog's Upon Further Review scoring comes every year with a disclaimer that linebacking is hard and an equal number of plus and minus plays is a good outing, and Bush is only the second guy in the blog's history—after David Harris—to ever challenge that expectation by grading consistently well into the positive. This season the degree and amplitude of Bush's impact on the field was hardly a secret known only to the wonks who watch every play: Devin was a consensus All-American and the face of an elite defense.

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The face of an elite defense. [Paul Sherman]

It would be nice for Michigan if the NFL hadn't in recent years grown wise to the fact that a 5'11" rabid death squirrel is more valuable to the modern game than the neck-rolly rageoholics they used to prefer. Since they have, despite his size, Bush is a near lock for the first round. Whichever franchise is smart enough to trade up when he's still available in the middle of it won't regret that decision any more than Michigan has.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2018 at 1:53 PM
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image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Matt is no longer hanging out at the Charity Tailgate because there are no more home games. But if you see a bus in Columbus you'll know you've found him. Which bus will be obvious. When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Almost all 4-2-5, with occasional dips into a 3-3-5 after Winovich's injury. The double viper formation I'm charting as a 3-1-7(!) made a re-appearance as well, for some effective pass rushes. Michigan was much more heavily single-high in this game for whatever reason and dropped most of their zone looks out of the playbook.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Michigan reduced the rotation after some early issues; DT was mostly Mone and Kemp on standard downs. Marshall was a bit player; Dwumfour got all the passing down snaps and a scattering of standard downs. Solomon was barely more used than Marshall despite being pretty effective. Winovich was on the way to another iron man performance when he got hurt. Paye got most of those snaps, with a few going to Hutchinson; Furbush got most of the Rush package snaps in his stead. Gary got almost all the standard down snaps but was absent in the rush package, still.

At LB, Bush and Hudson omnipresent (or near enough) with another 50/50 split between Gil and Ross. Uche got his usual dozen rush D snaps; Furbush got about as many post-Winovich injury; Glasgow had a cameo or four.

DBs the usual. Ambry Thomas got some time late with guys dinged up.

[After THE JUMP: a slight amount of panic]

Comments

Armageddon Again

Armageddon Again Comment Count

Brian November 19th, 2018 at 1:02 PM

11/17/2018 – Michigan 31, Indiana 20 – 10-1, 8-0 Big Ten

Indiana was defeated. It was annoying, as per usual. The method was different this time. 

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It's here, again. Football Armageddon. The last time I called a game Football Armageddon it was 12 years ago, when Michigan and Ohio State were both undefeated. Michigan ripped off a slick touchdown drive to start things off, and in the Ohio State student section I thought to myself "we're a third of the way home."

This was incorrect. Michigan's defense played three inside linebackers the whole game against Troy Smith, gave up 500 yards and 42 points, and blew an opportunity to get the ball back when Shawn Crable hit Smith in the helmet on a scramble. The 2006 defense featured Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, Leon Hall, David Harris, four guys with decade-long NFL careers. They whooped up on everyone, but within were the seeds of the past decade of Michigan football. Michigan had one cornerback: Hall. Morgan Trent couldn't change direction with a sail and a headwind, and when the starters got pulled against Ball State two weeks prior the Cardinals mounted a comeback that ended in Michigan's redzone down only 8.

The two corners who came in against Ball State were Chris Richards, the defensive coordinator's godson, and Johnny Sears, a kid from Fresno who'd never played a varsity game when Michigan offered him. They saw him at practice. (Practice! We're talking about practice!) Eight months later Michigan would field Sears as a starter in The Horror, in which a cut-rate Troy Smith exploited the same tactical naivete Smith had to hand Michigan the worst upset of all time.

Football Armageddon really was Armageddon for Michigan, not because of anything Ohio State did to them in that one game but because they'd fallen behind the curve out of their own arrogance. Michigan's recruiting was increasingly lazy, dependent on guys who bothered to come to camp and random, uninformed guesses about players based on not enough scouting. They'd get about half a class of well-regarded and then pluck random dudes out of the ether for the rest. They'd singularly failed to adapt to the prevalence of the spread across college football, kicking off the Ohio State dominance that extends to the modern day.

When Lloyd Carr retired he asked the athletic director to interview the two sturdiest branches on his coaching tree: his coordinators. One, Ron English, had never been a head coach and was the architect of the Horror. The other, Mike DeBord, was 12-34 at Central Michigan before quitting because he wasn't a head coach. These were the options to keep it in the family.

2006 Michigan was Indiana Jones on a rope bridge. Ohio State was the guy with the machete leering from the safety of land, but it didn't create the situation.

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Incredibly, improbably, amazingly: Ohio State looks like it might be on a bridge of its own devising. Michigan's culture caught up to them in a slow-motion avalanche that took half a decade. OSU's got blown up in a week by Brett McMurphy and Urban Meyer's callous disregard for anything but winning.

Since Zach Smith was exposed, Ohio State's house has morphed from bricks to cards. Every week (except Michigan State) brings a new sordid depth to their defensive issues. With JT Barrett off to pick up YAC in the Estonian league, the offense frequently fails to convert buckets of yards into points. There was a fourth and goal wide receiver screen against Purdue. Not incidentally, a 5-6 Purdue team that's going into the Bucket game looking for a bowl berth boatraced OSU 49-20.

The nature of the series with Michigan has already changed in the post-Durkin landscape. Michigan lost by a literal inch the last time they were in Columbus despite Wilton Speight fumbling on the goal line and throwing two miserable interceptions. Last's game was 21 Michigan players outplaying the opposition and the third-string quarterback tossing up a 14.3 QBR. This isn't Michigan scrapping and clawing because "throw the records out" and we'll go for two at the end of the game because we know what's what. It's Michigan getting hit by a red shell rounding the last corner.

They're there. They're good enough. They're legitimately elite by any metric you want to poke. Now they just have to do the damn thing. The consequences of failure do not bear thinking about. It's armageddon, again. Ohio State is a rope over an abyss. Sharpen your knives.

AWARDS

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[Fuller]

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

#1 Devin Bush. Michigan lined him up next to Gary for a blitz and that seemed unfair and also please continue doing that forever. Twelve tackles, one of them to destroy a fake punt, and one critical fourth down PBU. Run issues were mostly things he was trying to mitigate and not things that could be plausibly put on him. Update: still good.

#2 Shea Patterson. Another game of almost ten yards an attempt. There were some hiccups, but the interception was an open guy on an RPO and it sailed because he got clobbered. The Gentry throw in the endzone… not so much. But the one after escaping the pocket, yeah buddy. Also chipped in 68 yards rushing. Which is a lot of yards.

#3 Rashan Gary. Had half that sack mentioned above plus a thunderous speed to power rush; 7 other tackles besides when Michigan really needed DL to step up.

Honorable mention: Zach Gentry had two big receptions and got interfered with twice… but maybe probably should have grabbed that ball in the endzone. Higdon had a workmanlike performance with some key broken tackles on short stuff.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland, #3 PSU, #1 Rutgers, #2 Indiana).
7: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska, #1 Indiana).
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU, #3 MSU, #2 Rutgers), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska, #3 Indiana).
4: David Long(#2 Wisconsin, T1 Michigan State), Josh Uche (T2 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Jon Runyan Jr (T1 Wisconsin, T2 PSU), Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland, T3 Rutgers).
3:  Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin).
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU), Brandon Watson(T1 MSU), Lavert Hill(T1 MSU).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland), Ben Bredeson(T2 PSU), Nico Collins(T3 Rutgers).

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

Nick Eubanks scores his first touchdown at Michigan. An important moment in the game, sure. But his reaction afterward was a prayer to his late mom.

Honorable mention: Post-game news about Edwards and Winovich is positive. Moody hits a field goal X6. Rashan Gary stops Indiana's last drive before it starts.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Berkeley Edwards suffers the scariest injury in Michigan Stadium in living memory after a cheap targeting hit on a kickoff return. Edwards is probably going to be fine, per Braylon, and he's tweeting, so… that's a mixed blessing. But mostly good!

Honorable mention: Chase Winovich is knocked out after a different cheap shot and is maybe unavailable for next week. The end of half debacle.

[After THE JUMP: cheap shots, other]

Comments

Michigan 31, Indiana 20

Michigan 31, Indiana 20 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 17th, 2018 at 10:12 PM

Every. Single. Year.

Indiana came to the Big House having given up 482 yards to Minnesota and 542 yards to Maryland in their two games this month while putting up 385 and 374 yards, respectively. Tonight: 507 yards ceded, 385 yards gained. The yardage pattern continued for Indiana, though this time Indiana’s offense put up 5.1 yards per play on a defense that previously was allowing just 3.82 yards per play, the best in college football.

But even in a game that was a one-score contest for all but about six game minutes, the story tonight was less about what happened defensively and more about Michigan’s offense in the red zone and the players that had to be helped off the field.

Jake Moody, who found out that he was going to be the field goal kicker in the locker room before the game, converted all six of his field goal attempts. Moody hit from 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, and 23 to set a single-game Michigan record, and his reliability proved critical in a game that was as close as a typical Michigan-Indiana contest.

Michigan’s offense took just six plays to move from their 25-yard line to Indiana’s 13-yard line before two Karan Higdon runs went for –1 yards and a Shea Patterson pass to Higdon fell incomplete, leading to Moody converting his first kick of the night. A similar scenario played out on Michigan’s third drive, with a defensive pass interference call against Andre Brown on an attempted pass from Donovan Peoples-Jones to Zach Gentry moving the offense to Indiana’s 18-yard line before two short runs and an incomplete pass led to another Moody field goal.

[Injury updates woven into the narrative after THE JUMP]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian November 14th, 2018 at 2:46 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: A couple of hints at packages Michigan has either kept under wraps or can't quite get right. There was a snap that looked like a 3-4 with Winovich and Uche as the OLBs and a three man front. There was a bit of a run-out for the 3-3-5 Brown clearly wants to have available as a changeup but can't get working against most opponents because Michigan doesn't really have the personnel for it.

But mostly just the same stuff, with maybe more of a zone approach…

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two-high == usually zone for M

…since Rutgers was attacking the edges constantly. A cover two corner is a good antidote for that.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Just 54 snaps, and 15 of them were in garbage time. During the brief time the D had the starters on the field it was Gary, Winovich, Kemp, and Mone. Marshall rotated through for a dozen or so snaps. Solomon was left home with an illness. Paye didn't get much time; he was limited to the rush package mostly and left with a minor injury in the third Q.

Mostly the usual at LB, with Bush and Hudson near omnipresent as Ross and Gil rotated. Jordan Anthony got in for the last drive. Uche was limited to ~10 snaps; Furbush and Glasgow got about that many, mostly late.

In secondary, Hawkins replaced Metellus. Hill was knocked out relatively early, leaving Watson and Long to get the lion's share of CB snaps. Ambry Thomas got 20 or so snaps; J'Marick Woods and Vincent Gray got in late.

FWIW, the final drive saw all manner of guys get on the field. M traveled a selection of deep bench walk-ons, because Rutgers.

[After THE JUMP: a gameplan to lose slowly]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Penn State Comment Count

Brian November 9th, 2018 at 1:36 PM
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image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan stuck to the four man front for almost the whole game, with just a few attempts to play a 3-3-5. The Rush package remains unchanged after Gary's return. Michigan did have some exotics, one a 3-1-7(!) alignment with two vipers and Bush out there on third and ten. This was the Glasgow sack.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Massive rotation across the front with even Chase Winovich bowing out on occasion. Gary's return and his absence from the rush package amped up a rotation that is ten guys deep now: Gary, Winovich, Mone, Kemp, Paye, Marshall, Solomon, Dwumfour, Uche and Hutchinson (sort of). As a result everyone save Winovich saw maybe half of Michigan's snaps. Also Donovan Jeter got in late.

LB was the standard: Bush and Hudson all the time, Ross and Gil splitting WLB snaps with Ross having an edge, and assorted cameos from Glasgow and Furbush. Ditto the secondary. Woods was the only backup S to get in, interestingly.

[After THE JUMP: the lamentation of their message boards]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2018 at 2:24 PM
*/

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Just one 3-3-5 snap, which didn't go so hot. Michigan is continuing with their rush package with Uche/Dwumfour/Paye/Winovich across the front, and semi-frequently went with a dime behind that. I have been filing Uche as a linebacker but I'm on the verge of calling him a DE.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Paye and Winovich nearly omnipresent with Hutchinson picking up a few late snaps. DT snaps got split about equally between all five contributors (Solomon, Marshall, Kemp, Mone, and Dwumfour).

Bush and Hudson omnipresent, as per usual. Ross and Gil split WLB snaps. Uche got about 20 snaps as a rush end; cameos from Furbush and Glasgow.

Secondary the usual. Long and Hill got more snaps than Watson but it was close to even. Thomas got in at the end.

[After THE JUMP: one broken QB, barely more yards]

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