Holes, And The Digging Out Of Them

Holes, And The Digging Out Of Them

Submitted by Brian on January 2nd, 2017 at 12:19 PM

11/26/2016 – Michigan 32, Florida State 33 – 10-3, 6-2 Big Ten, season over

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[Joseph Dressler]

I can feel the hot take brigade trying to get through the door already: tweets about how much of this gets put on Drevno, the near certainty I'm going to hear something that sets my teeth on edge on WTKA this Thursday. Michigan's epic season ended with a wet fart, yes. In the aftermath I don't care to complain about it. I don't care to argue about what Michigan should or should not have done, or just... whatever.

Jim Harbaugh is an elite coach. The man has a track record. He is going to be here for a long time. His teams will be very good and often great, and sometimes they will meet other very good or great football teams, whereupon they will play a close, exciting game that will turn on one or two plays that are made or are not made. I hope they win these games. If they don't, they don't. Michigan's done all they can do and now it's time to sit back and see what happens.

That could be an extremely long period of being very good and not breaking through to satisfy the moist goatee brigade. The annals of sports are littered with excellent teams that met other excellent teams and didn't win. The difference there is razor thin and largely determined by luck.

Michigan isn't that juggernaut just yet. They were about 85% of one. The remaining 15% was why a one-point game felt lopsided for 58 minutes: the offensive line.

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

FSU's defensive gameplan was simple, and weird: move one of the best defensive ends in the country to DT. The guy you saw running into the backfield virtually untouched all game was, yes, DeMarcus Walker. Michigan's inability to handle him was total. He racked up a +9.7 in PFF's grading, which is a single-game season high for Michigan or its opponents. That's a good season total for many players. Walker had ten pressure events in 45 pass rush snaps and crushed some runs besides. A quick review of the game confirms that Walker killed everything, with an assist from Derrick Nnadi on the other guard.

The two guys with tire treads on their jerseys in the aftermath are at very different points in their career, but the reason they were put in that spot is the same. Ben Bredeson is a freshman who should not be playing yet. Kyle Kalis is a senior who's played too much. Both had to be on the field because there was almost literally nobody else available.

David Dawson's apparently so far from the field that he decided to transfer before taking his shot at a starting job this spring; Juwann Bushell-Beatty's brief cameo after the Newsome injury was the impetus for inserting Bredeson in the first place. Everyone else is either Patrick Kugler, a low-rated redshirt freshman, or a true freshman. If Kugler's a miss, and it appears that way, you have no choice but to die in a fire.

That goes back to Michigan's inability to evaluate, recruit, or develop offensive linemen under Brady Hoke. Hoke could find an All Big Ten DT under a rock; he and his staff had no idea what a good player on offense looked like, and this was most true on the offensive line. Michigan's six-man 2013 OL class is down to Kugler. None of the five departures was particularly close to breaking through.

The next year Michigan took just two OL, which is always a terrible idea. One of them, Bushell-Beatty, was the guy replaced when Bredeson stepped into the starting lineup. Hoke's final class had just one guy who signed, three-star legacy Jon Runyan Jr. Newsome committed in the interregnum; Michigan added Nolan Ulizio in the late scramble.

None of these guys started getting coached well until Harbaugh arrived, and the damage could only be mitigated, not undone. Sometimes OL don't work out, and sometimes you have to keep playing the ones that don't because you don't have anyone else, and sometimes this results in an elite defensive line digesting your quarterback.

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I don't know, man. I started this season's coverage off by proclaiming this to be The Year, and it more or less was. Michigan spent most of the season in the top five of the human polls and #1 in fancystats. They're about to send a dozen guys to the NFL draft. They played like an elite team for most of the season, and if you think losing in double OT in the Horseshoe with an injured quarterback and a rain of terrible calls is some sort of stain on your honor, well... I cannot help you.

The difference between an epic season and a merely good one was razor thin and largely due to the vagaries of fate. Michigan had two spots at which they absolutely could not afford any injuries. They got it in the face at both spots. Grant Newsome went out for the season, paving the way for a true freshman to start. Wilton Speight missed the Indiana game; it's unknown how much of his late slide was due to that collarbone/shoulder injury. Survey says: enough to make a difference, probably.

So they did not win all the things. That sucks. They were very good at all the things it was reasonable to be very good at, though, and that should offer some more confidence going forward. If that's a disappointment I'm with you; if it's an outrage the door is that way.

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Kenny Allen did the impossible: he graded out positively in all three kicking facets per PFF. His eight punts for 47 yards each, 44 yard net, nine return yards ceded, and lone touchback was worth a whopping +0.5 to Pro Football Focus Punter Batman. He hit three chip shot field goals and only had one of his kickoffs end up returnable—alas, that.

Also he terrified the FSU punt returner into a terrible muff that set Michigan up at the one.

#2 Taco Charlton kicked off his day by delivering the kind of hit to Deondre Francois that triggers the Deondre Francois Gets Obliterated Repeatedly montage that follows the poor kid around wherever he goes. He wasn't blocked on that one. On a bunch of other plays he was, usually by Roderick Johnson. Johnson, an All-ACC player who was the best player on the FSU line, ended up –2.2 to PFF and Charlton had a sack to go with four QB hits. Good luck in the NFL, sir.

#3 Ryan Glasgow had a similar day against worse competition, forcing a bunch of pressure up the middle and helping shut off Dalvin Cook, with a couple of Dalvin Cook exceptions.

Honorable mention: Maurice Hurst had another extremely productive day in limited snaps. Chris Evans had that touchdown that momentarily staked Michigan to the lead.

KFaTAotW Standings.

12: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU, #2 FSU).
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland),
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
6: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW, #3 FSU)
5: Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU, #1 FSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

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[Dressler]

We have a lead! I bet this lead lasts a long time and—aww, hamburgers.

Honorable mention: Mike McCray pick-sixes Francois. Kenny Allen uses Zoltan Mesko punt lasers to force a muff.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Jabrill Peppers is warming up... and Jabrill Peppers is obviously not playing. Goodnight, sweet prince.

Honorable mention: all plays on which OL were asked to block Walker. The kickoff return. The 92-yard touchdown. The Cook items.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
OSU: The Spot.

[After THE JUMP: let's have a real good time. An okay time?]

No Damn Reason At All

No Damn Reason At All

Submitted by Brian on November 28th, 2016 at 1:06 PM

11/26/2016 – Michigan 27, Ohio State 30 (2OT) – 10-2, 7-2 Big Ten

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[Eric Upchurch]

After all that, the thing that sticks with me is something much more prosaic than the various outrages everyone's going on about. It's third and four in the fourth quarter. Ohio State literally triple-covers Jake Butt; Wilton Speight finds Amara Darboh open on a quick slant. The ball is behind Darboh, tough but catchable. Darboh does not catch it. Michigan punts with five minutes and change left on the clock.

Why did that happen?

I don't know. Nobody does, but very few people tasked with writing about a thing will tell you that. Everyone else will reach for any explanation of remote plausibility, from an injured shoulder to CHOKING like a CLOWN FRAUD. Whatever, doesn't matter. Just as long as there's a reason a thing occurred, we can go on with our lives.

I think that happened for no damn reason at all. Yes, if you replaced Speight with Tom Brady that pass was more likely to be accurate. If you replaced him with Tyler O'Connor, less likely. It is still a simple five-yard throw that is amongst the easiest in the quarterback's repertoire. It is within the capabilities of the QB. Speight probably hits 90% of them, especially on a day where he is locked in. The most likely explanation for why he did not hit that one is none at all. The most likely reason Darboh did not catch a tough but catchable pass is none at all.

There are entire fields of study dedicated to the fallibility of the human brain, which refuses to operate cleanly. (I just put a D into the word "entire" as I was typing that sentence out.) These exist mostly because planes crash into each other and space shuttles explode and not because football happens sometimes, which just goes to show that people have strange priorities.

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

Speaking of the fallibility of the human brain:

It is hard to take that sort of thing. Michigan had just gotten a flag on a similar, but less severe, defensive holding incident on the prior Ohio State drive. That ended a Michigan drive that had reached midfield; if called correctly Michigan has first and ten at the Ohio State 40.

Later in the game the same pattern would repeat. Delano Hill was flagged for pass interference on third and 14 when he unnecessarily grabbed the waist of Curtis Samuel before the ball arrived; the exact same thing happened to Grant Perry on a third down conversion attempt and was ignored. Again, that sets Michigan up with a first down, this one on the ten in the second overtime. Again it was preceded by a call so similar against Michigan it beggars belief that a flag did not come out.

That's tough to get over. The spot was close enough and chaotic enough that it falls within the realm of the unknowable. An MGoUser who knows what parallax is and went over available evidence with a fine-toothed comb thinks Barrett made it by literally an inch or two. While I thought the spot was wrong I knew they would not overturn it, because they never overturn spots without some sort of egregious his-knee-was-down-ten-yards-ago kind of thing. In isolation that call is, in the cold light of day two days later, too close to have a definitive resolution. If it was wrong it very well could have been an honest mistake.

It is difficult to interpret either of the above incidents as honest, or a mistake. It's difficult to see a standard-issue Harbaugh blowup get flagged in the Game when we've seen the same thing tolerated all year. It's difficult to believe that Michigan's defensive line hasn't benefited from a holding call since the Illinois game.

This is the point at which newspapery types come in with the You Had Your Opportunities To Win The Game, an asinine criticism since that's literally true of both teams in every close game ever played. You can believe that Michigan had opportunities to win they did not take and simultaneously believe that the officiating gave you less than a 50/50 shot in a 50/50 game.

And then you're putting guys out on the field from the state of Ohio who were previously banned from working The Game because of how it might look? What the fuck are you even doing, Big Ten?

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[Patrick Barron]

What's that? Counting your money? Right. Well done.

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

Michigan lost this game. They did so for many reasons.

Their mistakes were punished as ruthlessly as possible. A floating ball goes directly to a defender. A fumbled snap is recovered by the defense. Curtis Samuel escapes a huge loss three times and sets up the fourth down that falls within the margin of error.

They did not take advantage of plays that were there to be made. Speight threw behind Darboh twice; Darboh did not bail him out. Karan Higdon missed a cut on what would have been a huge gain. Smith did not run over a safety prior to the fumble.

They did not get a fair whistle. See above.

All that and it came down to a literal inch. A rivalry classic, and an invitation for a bunch of hooting jackals to hoot some more. As for us on the other side, nothing to do but soldier on in the gray light of morning.

AWARDS

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there is another [Bryan Fuller]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Taco Charlton was the most rampant of Michigan's very rampant defensive line, acquiring two and a half sacks and forcing Barrett to move around several other times.

#2 (tie) Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray shut off the Ohio State edge except on a couple plays where Michigan was successfully out-leveraged pre-snap. It was weird to see neutrals on twitter wondering why anyone would run east-west against The Michigan Defense, but they were, because it didn't work. They picked up 19 tackles between them, two sacks, another TFL, and McCray batted down two passes. McCray also forced a sack when he leapt in the passing lane of a third.

#3 Kenny Allen bombed all but one of his punts; he mastered the Ron Coluzzi hard right turn; he had just one touchback, that on a punt that still had a 40+ yard net; Curtis Samuel had just one quickly snuffed return opportunity; he hit a couple field goals; none of his kickoffs were returnable.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling broke up the only deep shot on the day; OSU decided they were not going to bother with either him or Jourdan Lewis. The rest of the defensive line was terrific all day; the tackles were very good in pass protection against some tough customers. Peppers had a big KOR, an interception, and was also a major part of the edge being closed down.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU).
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

It's a goat in a duck costume!

Honorable mention: is that not sufficient

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

The Spot.

Honorable mention: The ensuing play. Speight fumbles the snap; Speight gets hit on the throw and offers up a pick six; Speight throws an INT that is on him; various refereeing malfeasances.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
OSU: The Spot.

[After THE JUMP: ~3000 additional words, 43% of which are swears.]

Everywhere And Nowhere At All

Everywhere And Nowhere At All

Submitted by Brian on November 21st, 2016 at 1:05 PM

11/19/2016 – Michigan 20, Indiana 10 – 10-1, 7-1 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

When Midwestern Football Weather looms, there is only one priority for the experienced fan: please, not sleet. The heavens can aim at my head with golf-ball-sized hail as long as the precipitation is of the form that can be dodged or shaken off. The icy needle stuff that penetrates anything short of a spaceship hull is decidedly not preferred.

That's what we got in 2008, figuratively and literally. The infamous Fandom Endurance III game against Northwestern that sent Michigan to 3-7, guaranteeing no bowl bid for the first time in 40-some years, was played in a driving sleet that is bar-none the worst weather I've ever experienced at a game. I imagine the only competition available is that Purdue game from the 90s that ended 5-0; I was not present.

At halftime of 2008 Northwestern the sleet sent me to the concourse in the hope the pretzel machines could restore some feeling to my hands. They could not. And yet:

This is how weird it's been of late: as I huddled near a pretzel contraption at halftime of a game between 3-7 Michigan and Northwestern, soaked, frozen, pondering the grim futility of all things, I discovered that I was sort of enjoying this. Yeah, sure, you had to peel back layer upon layer of misery to get to the morbidly sunny core. But it was there.

That column is staggeringly old now, especially for Michigan fans who aged in dog years during the RichRod era and in you-chose-the-wrong-grail years during the Hoke/Brandon double-barrel fiasco. By the stuttering end of Hoke's tenure I was referencing that column only to repudiate it, my goodwill stripped to the bone and pecked at by Brandon in case there was any seat-cushion related morsel he could take from me and give to himself.

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[Eric Upchurch]

I don't know what's going to happen Saturday. John O'Korn didn't look like a quarterback who could win against OHIO STATE, but Ohio State didn't look like the all-caps version of themselves in a one-point win over Michigan State, or a four-point win over Northwestern, or a loss to Penn State. I don't know if John O'Korn is even going to play.

Having an Ohio State game hanging by a thread because of a quarterback problem is frustratingly familiar turf. Denard Robinson and Chad Henne literally could not throw their senior years; Devin Gardner played most of an OSU game on a broken foot; Drew Henson didn't even bother to play his senior season. It is brutal to have this defense and not know if they're going to have a chance because of yet another backup quarterback throwing a spanner in well-laid plans.

I spent large portions of that game playing Ohio State in my head. I've been doing this since the end of the Wisconsin game, to be honest. I didn't like the results much, but I suppose neither did the sliver of the OSU fanbase capable of complex thought after the Buckeyes got outgained by 3-8 MSU.

I think about ten years ago, and how seismic that felt. It felt like the world would rise or fall based on the result of one goddamn game, and how that was right. And Saturday, and ugh, and can we get this over with.

Then the heavens opened up.

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

What people with no experience of winter fail to understand is its capacity for sheer beauty. Saturday's transient blizzard turned a football game into a kaleidoscope of lacy geometries. The individual flakes traced whorls across the sky, each brilliantly lit. As they began to stick the stadium brightened, and brightened, until it was glowing. Light bounced from white to white until it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

I forgot about Speight's shoulder, and the looming nausea machine this weekend, and Twitter, and even the fucking red hat TV timeout guy. What looked dim from the outside was brilliant as mid-day on the interior. It is something I will not forget.

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[Fuller]

110,000 people felt that same lift. Maybe they weren't thinking quite as far back in the sleety past as I was, but they knew the difference between then, and now. Someone started chanting "BEAT OHIO," and thousands more took it up, as Michigan marched out a victory lit by a sun of a their own devising.

One game to change it all. Saturday.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Full suite from MGoVideo.

AWARDS

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[Upchurch]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 De'Veon Smith had more than half of Michigan's yards and more or less produced all their points. On one particular short yardage run he ran directly over safety Tony Fields, causing him to eject an object that was either his mouthpiece, tooth, or soul. Fields kept coming, and Smith kept turning him into mulch.

#2 Taco Charlton collected 2.5 TFLs and created several more by driving his man deep into the backfield. He has been virtually unstoppable as a pass rusher; this was his best outing against the run. And now his ankle's 100%. Look out, world.

#3 Jourdan Lewis had three pass breakups and only gave up one of the two completions he ceded because it was in a blizzard and he was giving up ten yards on purpose. He had a couple of important PBUs on third down slants that booted Indiana off the field.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling gave up one completion for 20 yards or so but had his share of PBUs and solid coverage; Ryan Glasgow was an interior terror; the offensive line in general blew up what had been a very good rush defense. Dymonte Thomas had an impressive thunk to prevent a drag route from converting a third down and had one of those PBUs where I have to check to make sure that he's not Lewis.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana).
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU),
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

De'Veon Smith stakes Michigan to a lead that felt much larger than three points.

Also, shirtless men.

Honorable mention: O'Korn scrambles for 30 yards; Smith extends the lead to 10.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Indiana goes on a Legitimate Drive in the middle of the second quarter and takes the lead at a point where you're wondering if Michigan can actually score a touchdown of their own.

Honorable mention: Various O'Korn things; the back-to-back-to-back ludicrous catches to set up an Indiana FG.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.

[After THE JUMP: Quarterback fussin'.]

Hard Right Turn

Hard Right Turn

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2016 at 1:25 PM

11/12/2016 – Michigan 13, Iowa 14 – 9-1, 6-1 Big Ten

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[Eric Upchurch]

The punt landed on the four and took an abrupt right turn, as if God himself had decided to intervene with a brief misapplication of the rules of physics. In my experience punts do not do this. Usually they continue forward on their merry way. Sometimes they'll catch the turf in a particular way and bounce backwards, which still would have been great for Iowa but not quite as great as what happened. Which was, again, a punt hitting inside the five and veering away from the endzone like it was remote-controlled. It settled at the two.

Behind me, an Iowa fan exclaimed "RON COLUZZI IS A GOLDEN GOD." You, dear reader, may think this was some sort of cynical punt-to-win exclamation from a fanbase that hasn't had much else to hold onto this year. I do not think this was the case. Coluzzi had already dropped a coffin corner punt inside Michigan's ten and induced Devin Bush's ejection with a certainly-intentional mid-play flip. I feel that the Iowa fan was expressing a genuine opinion that Ron Coluzzi has occult powers given to him in a satanic ritual.

After Khalid Hill fielded a pop-up to start the second half and fumbled it to Iowa, I had no choice but to agree. Ron Coluzzi is a golden god. Yea, and wroth.

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

The game veered at the same instant that punt did. Michigan was up 10-0 after a 72-yard touchdown drive and had collected 125 yards midway through the second quarter—not the flamethrower operation they'd been the previous three weeks, but not bad for three drives, one of them starting in Iowa territory and ending with a goal-to-go field goal.

Two plays later Michigan had given up a safety because Kyle Kalis let Iowa's best lineman into the backfield more or less free. Their next four drives went three-and-out, with a fifth stillborn thanks to Coluzzi's occult powers. Passes were dropped. Deep balls were vastly errant. Michigan's ground game could do little against a defense that just gave up a 300-yard day to Penn State.

And what do you say about that? Michigan appeared to be a knockoff version of itself, cheaply made and sold out of the back of a van. Iowa was vastly improved in this game after a wakeup call against Penn State. They brought out a bunch of traps and quick pitches and in general looked like a team actively attempting to win a football game, instead of one present at it and hoping things go their way. Desmond King made a series of excellent run defense plays; Jaleel Johnson got a bunch of pressure; Akrum Wadley is currently looking at an industrial washer on the spin cycle and thinking is that all you got? They were good enough to compete.

They should not have been good enough to win. This had little to do with the Iowa defense:

...an array of overthrown, late and underthrown deep balls saw the Michigan quarterback complete just one of his 13 passes aimed 10 or more yards down the field — a 29-yard gain to Jehu Chesson.

PFF had Iowa's coverage -4.2 on the night largely because Amara Darboh repeatedly got screamingly wide open downfield. Two yards here, four yards there—nobody was in his area code. Michigan completed none of these throws. When Wilton Speight did give his receivers reasonable opportunities, too many times they went clang. Chesson, Butt, and Darboh all had reasonably catchable balls thunk off their hands and too the turf. Yes, Speight could have done better. Yes, the receivers could have done better. They did not.

Michigan isn't this team. Unfortunately, it appears that neither are they the rampaging death machine that stomped through this season, barely dented by nine different teams' best shot. Because of the 9 in the record above and the way that 9 was acquired, this game has drawn a truly epic amount of stupid overreactions to it. This means Michigan isn't 'Bama. It doesn't mean they can't beat a team that beat Northwestern 24-20 at home.

How much of this is Michigan being a CLOWN FRAUD and how much is just college football losing its damn mind like it always does it yet to be determined. Ron Coluzzi is a golden god; Ron Coluzzi probably did not plan for his punt to veer sideways. Randomness is always a factor. Teams put up stinkers every year for no other reason than having a bunch of weighted coin flips go the wrong way, and it's not hard to move one or two balls a couple feet and exit this game undefeated and not particularly challenged.

They did not, and now it's a long wait to see how much of a weird night in Iowa is being in the wrong place when a punter ascends to the heavens and how much are real chinks in Michigan's once-impregnable armor.


AWARDS

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[Upchurch]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Chris Wormley had a sack and another TFL; he did a great job on a reverse to pursue and get outside to hold the damage down on a play that looked real bad for a second; he bounced between DE and DT and was consistently pushing the middle of the pocket on passing plays; he dismissed various tight ends with authority, as per usual. His impact outstripped the box score, and the box score is pretty good.

#2 Taco Charlton was similarly dominant on the night. He got the hit on Beathard that resulted in the late interception, dismissed yet more tight ends, and had a major hand in Michigan's dominant pass rush despite not picking up the stats himself.

#3 Channing Stribling had that late interception and was repeatedly tested by an Iowa offense determined to keep it away from Jourdan Lewis at all costs. He had multiple pass breakups and dominated a couple plays so comprehensively that Beathard just booted the ball out of bounds instead of risking a throw. A pass or two completed against him and some iffy run D don't offset an otherwise terrific game.

Honorable mention: Jourdan Lewis, as per usual. Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst were both good on the interior; Chris Evans had a solid day running the ball; Mason Cole was a bright spot on an OL that had a rough night.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Ty Isaac puts Michigan up 10-0.

Honorable mention: Interception that nearly sealed the game; Kenny Allen nails a 51-yard field goal to give Michigan the lead.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Kyle Kalis leaves Jaleel Johnson on the two yard line, creating a safety that started Michigan's weird ride towards a loss.

Honorable mention: QB sneak is down a yard short of the first down line and is not reviewed; Ron Coluzzi being a golden god repeatedly; Darboh can't bring in a fade that would have just about ended it

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.

[After THE JUMP: WELP.]

The Joe Flacco Question

The Joe Flacco Question

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2016 at 12:49 PM

11/5/2016 – Michigan 59, Maryland 3 – 9-0, 6-0 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

It actually wasn't any of the deep shots that really caught my attention. It was a slant to Darboh. Play action, linebackers suck up and recover, too late. Wilton Speight fired a rifle shot into Darboh's hands that allowed him to continue without breaking stride. I thought oh no, I have to say this is happening, because that was approximately the sixth eyebrow-cocking throw of the afternoon.

So. This is happening. Here is that column I couldn't write earlier this year. I am writing it now, after three games in which Speight has averaged 12 yards an attempt, after various stats have rejiggered themselves into eye-popping arrangements three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season, after Jim Harbaugh asserted that Jabrill Peppers wasn't the only Michigan player who deserved your Heisman consideration and was met with thoughtful recalibration instead of laughter.

You've seen it with your own eyes on spins out of the pocket and inch-perfect deep balls as Speight continues to refine the high school version of himself into a cross between John Navarre, Ben Roethlisberger, and a production of Swan Lake staffed entirely by bears. At one point Speight scrambled for a touchdown and did some sort of insane flying ballerina move as he crossed the goal line.

wheeeeeee this is fun I didn't know I could move faster than a koala

Your eyes are like "did I just see that" and your spleen is like

I DON'T KNOW!
YOU'RE THE LOOKING PART!
I JUST SIT HERE AND GET NERVOUS SOMEONE'S GOING TO PICKLE ME!

because spleens are like that man. Just venting, like Jim Harbaugh failing to get an extra yard on review after picking up second and thirty-four.

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BALDERDASH [Eric Upchurch]

Since your eyes are clearly not up to the task of confirming or disconfirming what the hell is happening at the most important position in football, here are some numbers. They are rather optimistic given that said eyes spent half the season worrying Speight was going to sink Michigan when crunch time came around:

  • Speight's 8.9 YPA leads the Big Ten by almost a half yard and is 11th nationally.
  • His 15-3 TD/INT ratio is second in the Big Ten to JT Barrett (21-4).
  • His passer rating is now five points clear of Perry Hills for best in the league and is 14th nationally.
  • He's fifth nationally in ESPN's QBR metric, which accounts for rushing yards and SOS.
  • S&P+ now has Michigan's passing attack third(!) in the country.

That latter measure filters out garbage time and attempts to adjust for schedule strength. For that to be an improvement on the raw numbers is rather something. A major reason is that they've played S&P+'s #3 (Wisconsin), #8 (Colorado), and #15 (Penn State) defenses. They got lucky with Penn State's linebacker issues, but Michigan kept Garrett Sickels in check just fine during that game and he was rampant against OSU.

Speight was again mostly clean in this game but hardly noticed pressure except to spin out of it and make something productive of it, whether it was a bomb to Chesson or a seven-yard scramble that is probably still ongoing or finding the guy who blew the protection for a first down. His receivers certainly help. But this was a game where he lost a fifty-yard completion to an offensive pass interference call and still posted ludicrous numbers.

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

Is Wilton Speight elite? I don't know, man. This is a considerable improvement from "lol no" before the bye week and is trending in a spectacular direction. His last 72 attempts are elite, and with every game he moves towards a simple "yes." This is the second straight year a Michigan quarterback has muddled around for half a year before an exponential explosion in competence.

In addition to all the other ways Jim Harbaugh is a difference maker as a head coach he has this. There is no better quarterback coach in football. Every one of his charges exceeds expectations.  Often when he or they move on the player in question never recaptures his form. Is Wilton Speight elite? Ask again later. Is Jim Harbaugh elite? Cumong man, that's not even worth asking.

This team no longer feels like an elite defense with an offense scraping by, a la 1997. With Speight dropping bombs on all comers, it feels like... I have no idea. No Michigan team in my experience has spent an entire season bombing everyone they come across. Michigan has three top fifteen wins and the only reason any of those was within three scores was Kenny Allen having a miserable day against Wisconsin. You'd have to go back to the 70s to find a Michigan team that can end almost every game it plays in the first half.

Bo never managed to complete his task, because his quarterbacks were never state of the art. Jim Harbaugh emphatically does not have this problem. Ohio State? Bring 'em on.

HIGHLIGHTS

parkinggod:

AWARDS

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[Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Wilton Speight had the greatest first half in the history of Michigan football quarterbacking, per statistics and Jim Harbaugh. He finished with an absurd 15 yards an attempt and is now the Big Ten's clear leader in passer rating and YPA; he also ran(!) for a touchdown that he finished with weird ballerina flair(!!!).

#2 Jourdan Lewis never gets on these lists anymore because for the most part nobody is trifling with him. A hat tip to Maryland for multiple shots down the sideline resulting in 3 PBUs, zero completions, and one uncalled OPI.

#3 Taco Charlton almost literally does not show up in the box score. He got a half sack and no other tackles. Do not let this color your opinion of his game: dude was on fire, repeatedly hammering into the backfield when Maryland ran inside and getting pressure on just about every dropback only for his friends to clean up most of it.

Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson had a breakout game with 112 yards; Jake Butt is now Michigan's all-time leader in receiving yards from a tight end; Deveon Smith managed 6 YPC with a long of 14, which is super hard to do; Maurice Hurst was a constantly disruptive presence; Ben Gedeon had three TFLs and did an excellent job on the edge.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland), Taco Charlton (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers),
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

The throwback bomb from Peppers to Speight to Chesson was entirely unnecessary, entirely awesome, and caused a purported journalist to descend into a hissy fit.

Also a great throw on a route that's not as open as it could have been on a trick play.

Honorable mention:

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Either Channing Stribling whiffing on a reverse he'd put himself in great position on or Mike McCray getting juked and edged by Lorenzo Harrison, because both of those incidents confirmed issues from the Michigan State game and indicated a weakness in this defense.

Honorable mention: Maryland breaks the shutout with a field goal; Speight turfs a bubble screen to Peppers that would probably have scored; Michigan gets stuffed on fourth and short; that one time they almost punted.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.

[After THE JUMP: Happy Maryland fans.]

Professional Polishers

Professional Polishers

Submitted by Brian on October 31st, 2016 at 12:42 PM

10/29/2016 – Michigan 32, Michigan State 23 – 8-0, 4-0 Big Ten

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stop #7 [Patrick Barron]

Do not be deceived. Michigan delivered an ass-kicking to Michigan State on Saturday. Nobody in the media buys the comeback narrative from MSU. ESPN:

Michigan took the first punch against desperate rival Michigan State and then fired back with haymakers, essentially putting the game out of reach at halftime.

CBS:

...the Wolverines ran away to a comfortable win. ...Michigan looked really good and gets out of a rivalry game with a two-possession road win that was probably better than the final score indicates.

The only people who care about the particular game theory state that resulted in Saturday's fourth quarter are the perpetually unhappy wing of Michigan fans and desperate Michigan State fans. I regret it mostly because I have to spend time in this column talking about a comeback so cosmetic Joe Tiller would be proud of it.

So I shake my fist at that interception. Michigan's up 27-10, they've ground up a few minutes of the third quarter on their opening drive of the second half, and the floodgates are poised to open. Michigan tries a throwback that is not there; Speight throws his worst pass in a month; Michigan gives up negative yards on seven goal-to-go plays. Then they're on their own four and go get a field goal. Suddenly it is the fourth quarter.

At this juncture Michigan found itself in a position where only a colossal disaster could let Michigan State back into the game. If they just drained clock and made MSU do the same as it tried to score they would win. The game wasn't out of hand to the point where Michigan could run their triple-reverse flea-flicker as a middle finger; it was out of hand sufficiently that putting away the scoring offense made sense. After Michigan went up 20, their final three drives were a Lloydball spectacular:

  • run run pass punt
  • pass to fullback in the flat, run, pass, run run run punt
  • run run run punt

Unlike many applications of Lloydball under its namesake, this made total sense. Michigan's fourth quarter went as badly as possible without a catastrophic mistake and their win percentage never dropped under 92 or 98%, depending on which system you're checking.

The other side was fervently attempting to save face. Their first drive of the fourth quarter 1) featured their running quarterback running, 2) drained the playclock down to ten seconds when the game clock was running, and 3) ended in a field goal attempt.

Michigan State's only goal was to make it look good. Michigan's goal was to win. These two goals combined with some galactically incompetent officiating to get Michigan State very technically within one score, and then Mark Dantonio's attempt to run up the score in a loss backfired spectacularly.

You will reap what you sow.

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

In the aftermath, Michigan State is resorting to making stuff up. Mark Dantonio explained his decision to go for a fourth-quarter field goal down twenty by saying he wanted to make it a two possession game. He's not dumb enough to believe that or he'd be Tim Beckman, so he's just making his making-it-look-good look good. Meanwhile his quarterback got hit so hard he thinks he plays for Michigan now:

Sure he did, buddy. This was right after Khalid Hill got his ass kicked by Montae Nicholson.

And Devin Bush got his ass kicked by Chris Frey.

When manballers had to manball their manballiest in this game, Michigan dominated. Fourth and short was a turnover on downs. Back to back goal line stands on the same drive weren't even difficult. Those snaps collectively gained negative yardage.

And what is it about Jim Harbaugh's track record that makes you think this is going to change any time soon? Your best bet is for the Michigan fanbase to collectively become Jed York. Good luck with that.

But, yeah, you've got that punt. Congratulations. Maybe this year you can name the meaningless touchdown with a second left to make it look vaguely competitive. I've got a suggestion: "The Future."

HIGHLIGHTS

Parkinggod:

There was a Peppers feature on Gameday:

As always, extensive selection at MGoVideo.

AWARDS

30650619325_2ef86cbe5e_z

[Bryan Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Amara Darboh caught virtually everything that came his way, including a bomb down the sideline on which he was interfered on without a call. He speared a ball Speight sailed for a first down early in the third quarter and generally had his way with anyone MSU sent in his direction.

#2 Jabrill Peppers played virtually every position; he had a rushing touchdown, opened up holes for his teammates as MSU overreacted to him incessantly, and had two TFLs, a sack, and two fourth-down stops on defense. He is totally overrated.

#3 Wilton Speight continued his Rudock trajectory. The interception on the wheel route was real bad and he made some easy things look a bit harder than they should have been by holding on to the ball too long, but he offset those issues with a 10 YPA day.

Honorable mention: Taco Charlton was unblockable until they started tackling him; Khalid Hill had some thumpers; Jake Butt had a couple of nice catches in the #buttzone; Jourdan Lewis is Jourdan Lewis.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Michigan State's attempt to run it up in a loss backfires spectacularly, giving Jabrill Peppers a chance to demonstrate his 100 M speed.

Thanks for the meaningless points and Heisman boost.

Honorable mention: Khalid Hill thunders Montae Nicholson into the ground; Charlton nails O'Connor and forces an interception at the end of the half; Speight spins away from a sack and nails Darboh downfield; Darboh spears a third-down conversion one-handed; Darboh fights through hella interference to grab a bomb down the sideline.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Michigan State rolling right down the field for a 75-yard TD on their opening drive made me feel rather bad, as if I had just been dropped in a wormhole and came out the other side in the Brady Hoke era.

Honorable mention: Wilton Speight shuts the door on a blowout with that INT, various horrendous calls in the fourth quarter, Stribling getting beat for MSU's first make-it-look-good TD.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.

[After THE JUMP: Nobody has ever attended Michigan. Strange but true.]

Mice And Men

Mice And Men

Submitted by Brian on October 24th, 2016 at 12:49 PM

10/22/2016 – Michigan 41, Illinois 8 – 7-0, 4-0 Big Ten

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viscera cleanup crews are on overtime [Eric Upchurch]

Dear reader, it turns out there is a downside to Michigan hog-walloping every team they play. You see, when every game resembles Brock Lesnar versus a toddler the emotional import is rather muted. Michigan was always going to put it on Illinois and their third-string quarterback. They scored four straight touchdowns to open the game and cruised home; I spent three quarters of the game wincing when Michigan players required attention from the medical staff, very much ready to hit the fast-forward button.

This is a difficult column-writing environment. Sometimes you get a gift like Jabrill Peppers annihilating some poor staffer on the sideline. Sometimes there's a 41-8 game that doesn't even cover the spread and Peppers has the temerity to fair catch punts in the third quarter as Michigan Stadium groans because we haven't seen nearly enough comical explosions to sate our greedy little hearts.

So I must confess, dear reader, that I do not have a grand overarching theme to offer you. We're past the point when we can say "boy, it is nice to blow out a team you are supposed to blow out"; I already wrote that one. I already wrote the one about how this looks like a historically good defense. I already wrote the one that looked back at the Brady Hoke and Dave Brandon mess, which was two years ago and feels like two hundred. I already wrote the one about how Michigan broke the opposition's spirit, and the one about how we're crabby crabs looking for any flaw because of the roadblock at the end of the season. I submit to you that I have mined all available angles when Michigan lives up to expectations, especially when those expectations are of the steamroller-versus-bag-of-Cheetos variety.

So here we are, looking at each other, waiting for me to say something.

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

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this column must wait [Bryan Fuller]

There is a column I have yet to write, but cannot write yet: Wilton Speight as Jake Rudock. Like Rudock, Speight scuffled through much of the first half of the season. Like Rudock, Speight had a eye-catching game featuring many daggers against a bad defense. I want to point at Rudock's exponential improvement and say yes that for Speight right now we all saw it, but one game against Illinois is insufficient evidence. One game against Michigan State, a team currently ranked worse than EMU by various fancy stats, is also probably insufficient evidence.

But two weeks is better than one, and three better still, and I was struck by Speight's comments after the game on what he did on the bye week:

“I watched all of the six games, every snap, and just took a lot of notes on what glaringly needed to be better and also little things. So being able to throw with guys like Grant [Perry], Jehu [Chesson], in our time off—you know, we didn’t have the couple hour practice with pads on and everything but we were still able to go out there like we did this summer and throw certain routes. I just wanted to focus on—I can make every throw, in my opinion, but sometimes I was short on passes or when a guy was open I’d miss him. That’s what I wanted to focus on the second half of the season was eliminating that.”

Speight is a guy who almost transferred because he thought Harbaugh would go with a guy he recruited, but stuck it out; he beat out everyone's fave-rave this offseason, and he's held the job without challenge since. Because he works. They all work—this offseason saw a spate of hilarious articles about the QBs trying to slip in work with the WRs without the other guy knowing. Speight works like the rest of Michigan works.

And maybe he is getting there. You can see the war between Jim Harbaugh and Al Borges in his performances: early on, Speight was creepily accurate. Then he got annihilated by Chidobe Awuzie and regressed to old habits. This happened to Devin Gardner early on, as well. He'd start out throwing it like his coaches wanted him to and regress to a high-school pushing motion once he started thinking about guys trying to hit him. Speight was rattled against CU and seemed to have lost the refinements from the offseason; given an opportunity on the bye week he set to regaining them.

So far, so good. More important than the performance against Illinois is the reaction when the coaching staff is jetting around the country trying to lock up recruits. When the cat's away, the mice watch film and run routes.

HIGHLIGHTS

Parkinggod:

A more extensive selection at MGoVideo.

AWARDS

30496763185_2275ef0fac_z

[Upchurch]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Wilton Speight opened with his traditional terrible first pass. I grumbled to my wife. He was lights out after that, averaging 11 yards an attempt. His performance was even more impressive than the numbers since he suffered a couple drops and Amara Darboh was interfered with on a bomb to the endzone that was dead on. Speight didn't benefit from anything super-long, either. Michigan's longest completion was 33 yards. This is a version of Speight you can win many things with.

#2 Karan Higdon had a 45-yard touchdown late on which he burst past a guy with an angle and then cut back to get the last ten, carrying a DB into the endzone. Consider that even before that he'd gained 61 yards on 7 carries. He slalomed through various blockers and opponents on a trap play on which it looked like the hole wasn't exactly where it was supposed to be and generally looked fast, powerful, and way better than Mike Weber.

#3 Ben Braden had a shockingly smooth transition to left tackle. He led the way on various offset draws and his pass protection was close to impeccable against some tough customers (when they're rushing, at least). The one sack he was charged with was PA on which he didn't have a traditional pass drop; I thought that was more on Speight than Braden. If he can maintain this level of performance Michigan's Newsome issue seems far less daunting.

Honorable mention: The entire defense. They spent so little time on the field and split what stats were available that no individual was able to do as much as the various offensive players. They remain rather good.

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers)
6: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

This is kind of a dumb best thing ever, but TRAIN.

It was more hearing the stadium respond to TRAIN than the actual three-yard touchdown. The vibe around the program now is so fun, and TRAIN is a part of this.

Honorable mention: Most of the rest of the game.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Michigan gives up a touchdown on a downfield prayer that Delano Hill misreads.

Honorable mention: Two other big plays by Illinois, many worrying injury moments. .

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?

[After THE JUMP: eh, the usual]

Man Versus Printer

Man Versus Printer

Submitted by Brian on October 10th, 2016 at 12:32 PM

10/8/2016 – Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 – 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten

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A first down is gained [Patrick Barron]

Like many a mysterious drifter who's spent the past seven years wondering whether to drink whiskey or bleach, I don't really want to linger on the past. But when Michigan plays at Rutgers and a play by play guy desperate to inject any intrigue into a man-versus-printer situation keeps bringing up the 2014 game, it's hard to get away. And when you're already inclined to think about the radical shift in Michigan's fortunes, running across an article titled "Brady Hoke discusses monumental loss" is game over, man. There's nothing for it.

So let's talk about it.

Entering week six in 2016, Michigan was 5-0, favored by 30, coached by Jim Harbaugh and athletically directed by Warde Manuel. Manuel has probably been about as visible as your average athletic director; in the aftermath of Dave Brandon he feels like a ninja with an invisibility cloak since I haven't thought about him much outside of a few interviews and the resumption of the Notre Dame series.

Exiting week six Michigan is a top five team that just beat Rutgers so badly that they're causing existential crises amongst Cable Subscribers fans. The Daily's Jacob Gase caught up with the stragglers in the student section and got a quote for the ages:

“I like these kinds of games where we’re losing by a lot,” Kasia said, “because if we get a touchdown in the last four minutes, everyone is so happy to have anything that it’s really exciting.”

Rutgers only got a touchdown briefly. When the referees took it away it was a sign that the cosmos itself had decided that they were emphasizing the "win with cruelty" bit of Jim Harbaugh's favorite dichotomy. Everything about a blowout so epic it broke records set just before the University of Chicago decided football wasn't for them was expected.

Two years ago Michigan left for Rutgers after a week of incompetence so sheer that there was a well-attended rally on the Diag demanding Dave Brandon's ouster. Shane Morris had just been probably mildly concussed, the coverup was worse than the crime, and Brandon's "my personality is to the best of my ability" media blitz ended with this:

rutgers2014

A phalanx of athletic department staffers dragooned into wishing the team well as they departed. Brandon was front and center, naturally.

Upon arriving in Piscataway a person named Gary Nova bombed a secondary featuring Jourdan Lewis and NFL draft pick Blake Countess, a reigning first-team All Big Ten corner, for 404 passing yards. Michigan's featured pass rushers were current NFL stalwarts Jake Ryan and Frank Clark.

Brady Hoke had his cornerbacks coach install a press man system before the 2014 season. The minor flaw with this plan is that the cornerbacks coach was a linebacker who had never coached corners. This is how you lose to Rutgers.

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

I no longer know how you lose to Rutgers. There was no combination of parlous events that sees this game end up competitive, even vaguely so. The first time Rutgers crossed the first down line their quarterback was immediately crushed by Delano Hill, fumbling back behind the line to gain. The second time Rutgers crossed the first down line, deep into the fourth quarter, a Rutgers fan hugged it out with a Michigan fan. Various people on twitter bemusedly reported that ESPN's live win percentage tracker was stuck on 99.9%. My "harbaugh class" search started garnering hits early in the second quarter.

This was a blowout so comprehensive it went from boring to notable. And, yes, since two years ago this week I was posting The Kids In The Hall "Each Day We Work" sketch with the "there is no time off until I am crushed by the black hand" line and generally mooning about, it's worth noting that this is not that and that these are the rewards of finally getting some people in charge of things for a reason.

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there is no time off until Rutgers scores [Barron]

Michigan's cornerbacks coach is now a guy who played safety in the NFL for a decade, their athletic director has athletically directed at two other schools prior to this stop, and Jim Harbaugh is the head coach. Reasons veritably abound.

College programs can be steady for decades at a time as long as the core remains, and then lurch wildly about when that thing no longer suffices. See post-Bear 'Bama, the current situation at Texas,—which is playing out exactly like Lloyd Carr/RichRod—the last 20 years of Notre Dame football, etc. Michigan is no different. (Ohio State was incredibly lucky that when Jim Tressel got himself fired, Urban Meyer just happened to be waiting around.)

Today is a fine time to reflect on the bad old days, as we stand amidst a fine red mist that used to be the Rutgers football program, and appreciate that they got fixed. "Each day we work" has a different meaning now. So too does having an average weekend. It means the other team averages 18 inches a play.

HIGHLIGHTS

WD:

parkinggod:

More at MGoVideo.

AWARDS

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[Barron]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 (tie) Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon, and Chris Wormley were first amongst equals on defense. Charlton had two insta-sacks. Gedeon ran over a running back for a sack of his own and had a Don Brown special TFL on which he crushed a guy five yards in the backfield. Wormley continues to crush all tight ends and had a sack that should not be possible.

#2 Jabrill Peppers did some defense things. He also should have had a punt return touchdown. He did have a 63-yard run on a broken play and two very easy wildcat touchdowns, one of which was supposed to be a throw. 

#3 Devin Asiasi popped out on a cursory rewatch as an absolutely mauling blocker; virtually very big run Evans had was facilitated by Asiasi blowing one or two dudes out.

Honorable mention: everybody!

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Peppers takes off for the huge run that opened the floodgates.

Honorable mention: Everything that happened after the first seven minutes.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

A bonkers Jabrill Peppers punt return is called back for an extremely dubious block in the back penalty. I mean, for real. They never give a number because in their great shame they forget everything including the name, but the only thing that seems even slightly plausible is Delano Hill putting one hand (one hand!) on a punt returner who falls over in sheer awe of Peppers:

The only appropriate statement in that situation is "sorry sorry I'm trying to delete it."

Honorable mention: N/A.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.

[After THE JUMP: winning with cruelty]

Punting Is Winning Again

Punting Is Winning Again

Submitted by Brian on October 3rd, 2016 at 12:34 PM

10/1/2016 – Michigan 14, Wisconsin 7 – 5-0, 2-0 Big Ten

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[Eric Upchurch]

I was scared once.

Let's dispense with the I ain't scurrred talk: football is terrifying and brings you to your knees and you can either admit this to yourself or embark on a life of chest-puffing Brandon stuff. Michigan hadn't won a game against a top ten team in 12 tries. When they're tied deep into the second half after spurning a pile of opportunities to make it a contest that's only kinda-sorta competitive you're goddamn right the idea they'd lose a game to a team that might as well have started drives on third and eight was bowel-shaking.

Anyway. Channing Stribling fell over and Alex Hornibrook heaved the ball at his receiver. It seemed long from the get go and turned out to be long, but you never know. As that mortar arched back towards earth my annoyance momentarily morphed into terror, because this was the kind of game where 7-7 is a war and 14-7 is a surrender. That ball clanged harmlessly to the turf. Wilton Speight's deep shot to Amara Darboh did not.

Hornibrook negotiated terms shortly thereafter, and hello it is October and it's hard to see a loss on Michigan's schedule until what's looking a lot like Football Armageddon II. Bill Connelly's fancystats have Michigan a two-touchdown favorite in every game before The Game, and it's not hard to see Vegas issuing double-digit spreads until then. This is the elite team it is supposed to be, even if someone needs to hit the field goal kickers with a frying pan until they remember to put it through the uprights.

This is because of the defense. Many expectations were piled upon it this offseason, and all have thus far been redeemed. You've seen it with your personal sensory organs. I have as well. I have seen other defenses, many of them, and the sense of serene calm when Michigan punts has only been matched by 1997 and 2006 in my experience. Michigan passes the eye test. They pass the scouting test. PFF has seven different Michigan DL with 100 snaps charted and a grade of 75 or above, which is bonkers.

And they pass the computer test. As of today Michigan is the #1 defense in S&P+ by a furlong and a half:

image

The gap between them and #2 Florida is bigger than the gap between Florida and #10 Washington. They are first or second in any capacity you'd like to name, and complaints about schedule strength start to ring hollow when Colorado is lighting up everyone they come across with a backup quarterback who netted –4 yards against Michigan and Wisconsin ends up with half the yards they did against LSU or MSU.

Michigan's supposed weakness on defense isn't one, and everything else is coming in at or above expectations. People used to say things like "punting is winning" and mean them as something other than shots at Kirk Ferentz. That's because football used to look a lot like Saturday's game: trench warfare punctuated with one or two seismic moments. I have an old feeling, and a good feeling, about this football team.

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

With Iowa playing competitive games against Rutgers and Indiana going toe-to-toe with Michigan State, thoughts inevitably turn to the roadblock at the end of the season. The team has to take things one game at a time. I don't. I can take them six or twenty at a time. I can know the names of a couple of large men in the 2019 class at Belleville, because it's never too early to think about 2023.

So. This defense and the great roadblock. One of those previous defenses had a fatal flaw. One did not. The 2006 defense had one and a half excellent cornerbacks and no nickel package. Leon Hall would go on to a long NFL career. Morgan Trent had a cup of coffee in the league. Michigan went up against an OSU spread offense with Chris Graham as their spacebacker. This was part poor roster construction and part horrendous gameplanning; Michigan was put to the sword by Troy Smith.

You'd think that's in the past now, but just last year a good, if depleted, Michigan defense entered the OSU game with a plan to do the exact same thing they'd done the rest of the year and got ripped for 300 yards on the ground, yet again. The failures linger and give you pause when you project down the road, especially since this does not seem like a rebuilding year for the Great Satan. Worry, worry, worry.

Still, Jabrill Peppers is not Chris Graham. Michigan just crushed a manball team without taking their 210 pound linebacker-type substance off the field. They are not running a defense that tells you which guy is not going to play the run presnap. They have survived the first five games with a just couple of injury scares on the defensive line. I am thinking Michigan might be able to punt a lot and win, even down in Columbus.

HIGHLIGHTS

Parkinggod:

AWARDS

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[Eric Upchurch]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Ryan Glasgow forced Channing Stribling's second interception by hitting Hornibrook as he threw and spent the rest of the day tossing UW's poor center to the ground, whether it was run or pass. He didn't rack up many counting stats because of the nature of the Badger offense but he's in line for a big-ass UFR grade.

#2 Kyle Kalis was a pile-mover in a game that needed to move many piles. Michigan's run game was decidedly right-handed in this one, and Kalis didn't have the protection issues Magnuson did. The repeated zone reads with Peppers were an impressive demonstration of Michigan's ability to shoot a very good defense off the ball.

#3 Jourdan Lewis was only targeted twice. One was incomplete. One has been photoshopped into a nouveau Jumpman logo. In addition to those two incidents, Lewis had two excellent plays in run defense that shut down Wisconsin attempts to get to the edge.

Honorable mention: uh, everyone on defense. Amara Darboh was the main target on Michigan's second touchdown drive.

KFaTAotW Standings.

5: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado), Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Speight bombs one over the top to Darboh for the winning points.

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[Upchurch]

Honorable mention: The Lewis interception.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

For the second consecutive week this is a key piece being knocked out, probably for the season. Grant Newsome took a cut from a defensive back that resulted in a knee injury "as serious as a knee injury can be" and Michigan has to find out what they've got behind him now.

Honorable mention: Wisconsin scores an actual touchdown; any of three different makeable field goals go awry; Speight gets picked off; Michigan takes 34 consecutive penalties on special teams.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.

[After THE JUMP: one bushel of beets please]

Goth James Franklin Eats Some Arby's

Goth James Franklin Eats Some Arby's

Submitted by Brian on September 26th, 2016 at 12:47 PM

9/24/2016 – Michigan 49, Penn State 10 – 4-0, 1-0 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

Two years ago this game featured Dennis Norfleet dancing, a lot of bad football, and a series of increasingly boggling in-game decisions. Brady Hoke and James Franklin engaged in bad decision tennis, lobbing ever more ludicrous balls over the net and daring the opposition to top it. There was no winner—there is never a winner in bad decision tennis—but Michigan did not lose. They won the game, and the tennis match was called on account of forgetting to breathe sometimes.

Fast forward two years and things are a little different for one of these teams. Jim Harbaugh's taking timeout in case Jabrill Peppers can get a punt return in and asking to review a legitimately dodgy fourth-down spot despite being up a gorillion; James Franklin sees a fourth and goal from the two down 28-0 and decides on a field goal... wait, no, he's taking a timeout because he realizes that is a terrible decision. And now he's sending out...

Still the field goal team.

...

So this is a dumb fake—nope they kicked it.

Now they are down four scores, which is a notable improvement from being down four scores. James Franklin has lobbed this one good and high. This is an Eschaton-worthy parabola.

After they kicked it the camera cut to Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines, looking equal parts perplexed and offended on behalf of the game of football:

I had a similar look on my face. This is not good hard friendly competition. This was turtling. Signaled by their coach, Penn State promptly laid down. According to Wilton Speight, Michigan ran the same play eight consecutive times at one point Saturday. While that doesn't seem 100% accurate—there was a sweep in there—the bit in the box score where Penn State lays itself on the altar and hands the squiggly knife to Harbaugh is obvious:

image

Franklin told them to quit and they quit. I'm not surprised. One year ago this column was all about how pleasant it was to watch a Penn State game and not be stupefied by the things occurring in front of my face, and Penn State's held up its end of the bargain in that department over the last few years.

But I am also kind of surprised that James Franklin, who made Vanderbilt decent, would just roll over and die. You'd think that the kind of person who could stare the history of Vandy football in the face and make the Commodores one of the feistiest teams in the country would at least spit in his executioner's eye, for what little that would help him. Not today, and thus Michigan entered to the "win with cruelty" portion of the proceedings.

And, lo, it was cruel. Michigan acquired 13 tackles for loss and six sacks; they ran for over 300 yards with a carousel of running backs. Michigan threw to Eddie McDoom with less than half the fourth quarter to go, because a rep is a rep is a rep. It's not that Michigan was trying to embarrass or humiliate Penn State; it's just that they didn't care if that happened. Lo, it did. Meanwhile across the country in Autzen Stadium, a Colorado quarterback who was 0/7 with –4 rushing yards last week was spearheading a stunning upset by accounting for 500 yards of offense by himself.

Remember spinning around in circles about this defense last week? You should continue doing that, but for the opposite reason. Lost in the piles of viscera that are all that remain of the Penn State offense: PSU was an efficient, prolific offensive team headed into this game, with 39 and 34 points the last two weeks. It was even one seemingly well-suited to mitigate Michigan's advantages, with Trace McSorley throwing a ton of passes close to the line of scrimmage and completing 80% of them.

It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. James Franklin woke up this morning in a Cure shirt and eyeliner, because halfway through a game against Michigan he decided life wasn't worth living anymore. Just, like, whatever, man. Three points, seven points. It all leads to one place: the grave. First, Arby's. Then the grave. 

HIGHIGHTS

Parkinggod:

MGoVideo has some other highlight reels if you don't have time for the above.

AWARDS

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[Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

It was this kind of game:

#1 (tie) Chris Wormley, Maurice Hurst, and Taco Charlton nose ahead of everyone else on a defensive line that set the tone early and never let up, racking up six sacks and a trajillion TFLs. Hurst turned in the most impressive individual play of the day when he came from a nose tackle spot all the way around a guard and got in McSorley's business for a sack; Wormley was the most consistent entrant into the backfield, and Charlton's return helped seal the rush lanes that UCF exploited shut. Also he got a sack and a half. Welcome back.

#2 (tie) De'Veon Smith and Ty Isaac and Karan Higdon and Chris Evans were all between good an excellent as they combined for 40 carries for 318 yards, with seemingly nobody getting consecutive carries. Each guy ripped off a 20+ yard run; each guy made big chunks of yards for himself with good vision or broken tackles. Easy sledding but Michigan maximized their opportunities in ways that had not always been the case early this year.

#3 Ben Gedeon was the closest thing to a one on one matchup Michigan had with Saquon Barkley and that went all right. Gedeon tracked PSU RBs in space repeatedly, had a couple of impressive sideline-to-sideline tackles, and got in the backfield for 1.5 TFLs amongst his 11 total tackles. Barkley got his yards mostly on screens and shovels and the like, a couple of them on Gedeon. This was still a win against one of the top backs in the country.

Honorable mention: The right side of the offensive line was the main area Michigan attacked on the ground. Khalid Hill had another solid all-round FB performance. Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis helped shut down the PSU receivers on the rare occasions PSU managed to target them.

KFaTAotW Standings.

5: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF).
2: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF), Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Taco Charlton and Chris Worley combine to sack Trace McSorley on the third play from scrimmage:

That set up the ensuing Peppers punt return and was an emphatic declaration of the way the game was going to go.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon rips off an offset draw touchdown; Peppers decoy sends Smith into the secondary, where he goes stomp. Any one of Michigan's 12(!!!) other TFLs. Peppers returns a punt and windmills down to the nine.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Jeremy Clark ends a kickoff return on the ground, writhing, and is almost certainly lost for the year.

Honorable mention: Michigan fails to gain every yard available to them when Jehu Chesson drops a ball on fourth and two.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.

[After THE JUMP: Speight is still on his fourth-down scramble.]