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

I Don't Hate Your Corpse Any Less And I Don't Want Store Credit

I Don't Hate Your Corpse Any Less And I Don't Want Store Credit Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2018 at 1:16 PM

11/3/2018 – Michigan 42, Penn State 7 – 8-1, 6-0 Big Ten

The jarring thing was this: they didn't seem drunk. There were two dudes crossing Stadium at about the same time I did, and they were not drunk, and they were singing something very loud. It was a faintly familiar verse, the kind of thing that tickles the back of your brain and, if left unaddressed, leads to the kind of frantic wikipedia search that either relieves you of your memory burden or leaves you staring at a list of defenestrations, wondering which rabbit holes you'd fallen through to arrive at this place.

Fortunately(?) this was not required. The verse led into a chorus that is intimately familiar to anyone who is extremely online. It culminated, with elaborate hand gestures. It was beefy, hammy. You may already hear this in your head: "GIVE ME YOUR HEART, make it real, OR ELSE FORGET ABOUT IT."

Across the street, people booed. They were being Smooth-rolled. It seemed like they'd just parted, and this was a parting shot. As I veered off onto the side street that held my car the dudes chortled to each other, victorious.

This was not a black pit. It was… it was a brightly lit mesa of trolling your friends with Santana/Robb Thomas collaborations.

Nine weeks ago those guys were not merrily inflicting music-type substances on their friends. They were sitting in a dark basement, saying nothing, grateful that the other guy had enough damned sense to say nothing. When the moon rose the men silently, separately resolved to destroy it.

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Elsewhere: fulminations. Jim Harbaugh challenged a fourth down catch with three minutes left in a 42-0 game, causing the "harbaugh class" search to disgorge great heaps of rotted fish onto the internet. Penn State scored on that drive, so the camera had cause to cut to a defensive coordinator in the process of holding a ranked opponent under 200 yards for the third straight game. This is what he looked like:

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He looked grim. Disappointed. 58 minutes of wholesale obliteration was not enough. Don Brown is a hater.

Don Brown keeps receipts. In the run-up to this game he and his players repeatedly mentioned Penn State running plays up 42-13 with under 40 seconds left, and how that stuck with them. Brown didn't send his second team line out until the last gasps, and film review will be hell for them this week.

Donovan Peoples-Jones keeps receipts, and increases the volume of his hatin-ass touchdown celebrations weekly. He will fire the cannon if when he scores against Rutgers.

Chase Winovich keeps receipts, and will tell anyone that yes, that is our little brother, and yes, this is our revenge tour, and yes he very respectfully stole Trace McSorley's celebration and he's apologizing for nothing.

Rashan Gary keeps receipts. He keeps them on his face.

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[Fuller]

Rashan Gary's mom keeps receipts. Some of you on the internet are in trouble.

So yes, this is a petty team. This is an angry team. This is a petty, angry fanbase with a petty, angry DJ. Nobody is apologizing for anything. Michigan is handing out receipts itself, because it's got too damn many to deal with right now. Hold some of these along with the L.

It is time to hear the lamentation of their message boards. It is time to belt out the chorus to "Smooth" at maximum volume no matter how damaging it is to the souls around you. We've sat in the dark plotting the downfall of celestial objects for too long to have any dignity about blowing up the moon.

Someone else can be angry for a time now. Someone else can sit in the black pit of negative expectations after one drive with Michigan players pouring through the line, seemingly untouched.

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The postgame handshake between coaches was brief and seemingly cordial, but afterwards James Franklin stopped and turned back to Harbaugh. Harbaugh was already jogging into the tunnel. Franklin stared a hole in his back for a good five seconds before turning back to the field, seething. It was like the end of Lost In Translation, if Bill Murray had said something that made Scarlett Johansson into a barely-contained ragebot.

I wonder what it was. I keep inventing pettier, crueler things. The exact content is irrelevant though, because the thrust is this: we regret nothing. We have many more receipts.

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Upchurch]

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

#1(t) Chase Winovich and Josh Uche. Thunderous back-to-back sacks on Penn State's opening drive set the tone, and the pressure did not stop until they got pulled late. Winovich made PFF's team of the week, nationally, and Uche probably missed largely because of snap count. Two points each, made up and don't matter.

#2(t) Jon Runyan Jr and Ben Bredeson. Very little pressure from PSU's DL and Michigan mashed their run defense with a heavy emphasis on the left side of the line.

#3 Shea Patterson. Only 17 attempts but 144 yards and 2 TDs on those attempts, plus 10 carries for 50 yards. Seemed to get pull/keep decisions right the whole day, and juked a couple guys to pick up chunks.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon had a Chris Perry kind of day. Shea Patterson had ups and downs but his legs are now a thing. (Don't tell any DCs about that.) The OL got another collective W.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU)
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland, #3 PSU).
4: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), David Long(#2 Wisconsin, T1 Michigan State), Josh Uche (T2 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Jon Runyan Jr (T1 Wisconsin, T2 PSU).
3: Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland), Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU, #3 MSU).
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).

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

Brandon Watson intercepts a ball to absolutely no one, returns it for a TD, and puts the final nail in an already extensively-nailed coffin.

Honorable mention: Eight-play all-run TD drive to kick things off; Patterson finds DPJ on a throw that may indicate he's getting more comfortable; Uche and Winovich slash into the backfield; DPJ nearly brings back two punts.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

PSU escapes the shutout.

Honorable mention: Blocked FG momentarily provides PSU a touchdown. Uh… the end?

[After THE JUMP: chaos reigns]

Comments

Product Of The Programs

Product Of The Programs Comment Count

Brian October 22nd, 2018 at 1:18 PM

10/20/2018 – Michigan 21, Michigan State 7 – 7-1, 5-0 Big Ten

No ghosts, no magic, no secret sauce: there's nothing hidden in Michigan State's recent run with Paul Bunyan. Most of the time they were a better football team than Michigan, and better football teams tend to win football games. All the noise was just that. Michigan lost games because they were bad football teams run by bad football coaches.

But holy hell, you just try to believe that when it's 7-7 despite a second quarter spent entirely on the Michigan State side of the field and it's raining and Michigan's fumbling like Urban Meyer trying to get his story straight and MSU's backup punter spears a disaster snap out of the air with one hand.

Then he hits a 60 yard punt, which is nearly double his season average. If the Black Pit of Negative Expectations didn't rise up and claim you then, you are a better human than I. The rain, and the turnovers, and the improbable thing by the guy in the thing with the rain… etc.

Fortunately, it turns out that being a vastly superior football team is still a good way to win football games. The rain cleared, the five-star quarterback threw a pass to the five-star wide receiver for a 79-yard touchdown, and that was more or less that. All over but the shouting.

But this is Michigan-Michigan State, so the shouting is the main event.

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Jim Harbaugh described the pre-game dust up as "bush league," and that was about right. If you are a human like me who has been infected with the Lebowski virus your immediate thought was the Jesus ranting about BUSH LEAGUE PSYCH-OUT STUFF. And that's what it was.

There is no other reason to roll out on to the field in helmets and no pads—because that's a thing people do—ten minutes late, when you know various Michigan players will be on the field for their allotted whatever. And there's no other reason to walk through those players with your arms locked. Hell, it probably worked. Devin Bush went full Rick James on the Spartan logo at midfield shortly after; he picked up a mystery unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the first half.

In the aftermath, MSU beat writers are going into more detail about a confrontation that doesn't even warrant the term "kerfuffle" than any one of the many incidents that ESPN turned up when they investigated the Spartan athletic programs in the aftermath of Larry Nassar. The word "class" has been uttered. This is all a distraction.

Shouting is warranted. Shouting about some goons holding green bones trying to pull an imaginary one over on a team that will hold them to 93 yards of offense in the near future is not. Michigan State is, has been, and will be trash. Shout about that. Michigan State deserves no respect and should be treated with nothing but contempt.

This has always been true. An event like the above happens about every third year. That, too, is a sideshow.

This weekend on WTKA, Lorenzo White openly joked about the giant piles of steroids MSU was doing the last time they were relevant. This is a widely-reported fact that did not prevent George Perles from becoming an MSU trustee. An internal investigation cleared Perles; in 2008 Tony Mandarich admitted his steroid use and told Armen Keteyian that by the time he reached the NFL he was addicted to painkillers. It is an open secret that MSU did zillions of steroids in the early 1990s and that Mandarich exited Michigan State a ticking timebomb. Not only did MSU let that guy escape with his undeserved dignity intact, they put that guy on the board of trustees.

I mean, why not, right? The rest of the board consists of former football players, infamous slumlord/booster Joel Ferguson, the grandson of the guy the basketball arena is named after, and a couple people who don't even have a good reason to be a shameless lickspittle in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the institution they nominally govern is a failed enterprise. Collectively they said Lou Anna Simon should keep her job after the worst sexual assault scandal in the history of the United States.

So fuck Michigan State. Fuck their football and basketball teams especially, as they are the main drivers of the deranged culture that enabled Larry Nassar. There is a straight line to draw between Perles and the rest of his board to Mark Hollis to Lou Anna Simon, all of it enabled because Michigan State got to beat big brother in some sports sometimes. Nobody in power at that university cares about the woman subjected to Keith Appling and Adriean Payne's charms, or Auston Robertson's victim, or Travis Walton's, or the various people subjected to the presence of Michigan State players in events that weren't sexual violence but were sure as hell violent. So why would they care about insistent reports dating back 20 years about a doctor abusing gymnasts?

Well, you see, sometimes we get to rub the big in-state school's nose in it. So, obviously. It's all good.

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There's an undercurrent in the Michigan fanbase that MSU is beneath notice. This is wrong, but I get it. There was a point in time in the past when the best revenge was celebrating with Paul Bunyan in the locker room. This is no longer the time we have, for various reasons. One is Michigan having various bad football teams. The other is what happens when MSU is beneath notice.

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[Patrick Barron]

You've been noticed. We see you for what you are.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Barron]

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

#1(t) David Long, Lavert Hill, and Brandon Watson. The main drivers of a 5/25 passing performance. Joel Klatt, a former quarterback, reached untold depths of despair when trying to describe what Brian Lewerke was seeing downfield: absolutely nothing. Two points each because they're made up and don't matter and this section probably should have highlighted them more this season but doesn't because they barely get thrown at.

#2(t) Chase Winovich and Josh Uche. The other half of the dominant pass performance; three sacks between them, with Chase chipping in his usual level of run pursuit.

#3 Donovan Peoples-Jones. It was just one catch, but it was a good one.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon had a Chris Perry kind of day. Shea Patterson had ups and downs but his legs are now a thing. (Don't tell any DCs about that.) The OL got another collective W.

KFaTAotW Standings.

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

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

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[Patrick Barron]

Donovan Peoples-Jones gives Michigan the winning margin in one giant play when everyone in the world thought a coinflip slog was in the offing.

Honorable mention: Jordan Glasgow rakes out a fumble. BPONE mitigated by a couple of deflected catches. Patterson stands in and hits Collins for a first-half TD.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Chris Evans fumbles to set Michigan State up at the 7, leading to a tie game and many sufferers of BPONE.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon stumbles into the mesh point for another fumble. MSU's punter goes combo OBJ/Orin Incandenza. Patterson dorfs a couple of fairly easy TDs. The entire second quarter of implausibly not scoring.

[After THE JUMP: a SQUIRREL (not Devin Bush)]

Comments

The Navarre Zone

The Navarre Zone Comment Count

Brian September 11th, 2017 at 12:35 PM

9/9/2017 – Michigan 36, Cincinnati 14 – 2-0

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furk [Eric Upchurch]

There is always a tipping point when something that probably won't happen becomes something that probably will happen. Sometimes this is nice, like when the entire NFL swears up and down that Jim Harbaugh wouldn't go back to Ann Arbor for love or money. Sometimes it is not nice.

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If we aren't already at the tipping point where "Wilton Speight makes a lot of critical mistakes" is a reasonable, seemingly immutable theory, surely we are approaching it.

The weird thing is the way these critical mistakes are loosed into the world. Anybody can throw several passes into defenders' facemasks. Killing your team with a blizzard of boggling interceptions is almost common in college football, where injuries and the vagaries of rostering regularly see peach-fuzzed high schoolers thrown into a tank of piranhas. Sometimes people transfer from Tulane and are expected to stop throwing interceptions, for reasons unknown.  Also apparently the NFL has this issue. Twitter informs me Scott Tolzien—yes, that guy—started a game this weekend. Twitter hastens to note that things did not go well. The hopelessly overmatched panic machine quarterback is so common it's a football trope.

Speight, on the other hand, has an air of cool control up until the moment he wings a pass so high that Donovan Peoples-Jones correctly decides his best bet is to spike it, or he turns around to hand air to his running back, or he does that again for the second time in one dang game. He does not seem overwhelmed. He hasn't thrown into coverage except on rare, understandable occasions*. He's yelling at his peach-fuzzed skill player crew about where to line up regularly. He makes a bunch of checks at the line. He is a man in command.

And then.

The very bad events are adding up. Everyone misses guys or makes bad reads or eats a sack on occasion. Speight's bad has been explosively bad, and maximally punished. Thus this column, which is lot like 2015's Jake Rudock is going to kill us column.

Rudock, of course, did not kill Michigan. He turned into a fine college player and Matt Stafford caddy, and even now it's not too hard to see Speight getting it together. His issues are fairly simple to correct; they jumped out at me, a layman, on a re-watch and Speight confirmed it in the postgame press conference:

“What it comes down to is, when there's something going on in my face – when I avoid the pressure – I've got to keep my base. Coach Pep is big on keeping my base. Staying loaded. And sometimes when I move around in the pocket, I get a little sloppy with my feet and it causes the ball to sail or go a little low."

Speight was leaning back a bunch in this game and the resulting throws were high. Nick Baumgardner with a preview of what UFR is going to say:

Also he's dorfing handoffs because he's not listening to Harbaugh. Two seemingly simple fixes yet to make it to the field in year four. This cuts both ways: if Speight can fix his lingering issues Michigan has that commanding guy when he throws straight and does not fumble exchanges, and that seems pretty good.

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deep shot hit rate: muchly [Bryan Fuller]

There are very good reasons that Speight is keeping his competition stapled to the bench, and it's that upside. Nobody else on the roster is going to walk on the field and know where everyone else has to be, a critical skill given the average age of Michigan's offense. Nobody else is going to have all the checks in his head, or the pocket presence.

The things Wilton Speight needs to fix are fixable in a timespan of weeks. John O'Korn and Brandon Peters do not have flaws (presence and youth, respectively) nearly as tractable, and so Michigan is going to ride with Speight and hope like hell these blips are just that, and not a pattern that will clobber a promising season like it did in Iowa City last year.

Until further notice, all dropbacks will be evaluated with a jaundiced eye and glance towards Columbus. Welcome to the John Navarre zone.

*[In this game he tried a deep shot to a bracketed Peoples-Jones because there were only two guys in the route and both were covered and what else was he going to do, which is fine.]

HIGHLIGHTS

Inside Michigan Football:

AWARDS

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mobile man mauls Mouhon [Fuller]


Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 Mason Cole. This is a bit of a guess but OL never get the proper amount of respect in this section because I haven't gone over things with a fine-toothed comb yet. Cole helped Michigan bust a lot of crack sweeps, and while Isaac got the yardage on the long one it was Cole's ability to ID the force defender, declare him harmless, and go wreck a safety that sprung the play. He gave up nothing in pass protection, as well.

#2(t) Khaleke Hudson, Devin Bush, and Tyree Kinnel. Michigan's bushel of short fast dudes on defense terrorized the Cincinnati backfield, collecting all of Michigan's sacks on the day. Each also had their moments in the ground game as well; Kinnel in particular had a couple of critical tackles. Oh, and a pick six. (That was a bit of a gift, yes.) I'm rounding up and giving each gent a point. The points are made up and don't matter, people!

#3 Ty Isaac. Isaac was Michigan's best back again, slaloming through waves of opponent players. He alternated bounces with interior runs that kept UC off guard and used his size and speed combination to excellent effect.

Honorable mention: Winovich, Hurst, and Gary were all effective in bursts. Brandon Watson was in the back pocket of many a wide receiver. Grant Perry was efficient, explosive, and dangit that third down was a catch. Zach Gentry had a couple of key receptions.

Honorary Honorable mention: Baker Mayfield.

KFaTAotW Standings.

4: Devin Bush (#1, Florida, T2 Cincinnati)
3: Mason Cole (#1, Cincinnati), Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati)    
1: Quinn Nordin (#3, Florida), Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati), Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Grant Perry's third-quarter grab and go both further established him as a bonafide top-flight, experienced receiver but staked Michigan to a two score lead that allowed most to exhale.

Honorable mention: This week the good section gets to talk about Pick Six #1 and Pick Six #2. You will like them better here, I imagine. Also: Ty Isaac rips a long one off down the sideline, Speight hits Kekoa Crawford with a bomb; Rashan Gary hulks up after nearly getting ejected and gets the crowd hyped.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Speight's second dorfed exchange ends a promising drive for Michigan and causes even the aggressively reasonable to think this guy has a long term issue.

Honorable mention: Cincinnati rips off a long touchdown drive to start the third quarter and create a period of squeaky bum time; Donovan Peoples-Jones turns out to be Not Jabrill Peppers on punt returns; various Speight overthrows; that one play where both guards pulled in opposite directions.

[After THE JUMP: oh also a defense]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Ain't No Jive Turkey

Unverified Voracity Ain't No Jive Turkey Comment Count

Brian December 14th, 2016 at 4:03 PM

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[Bill Rapai]

Bust items. Michigan's annual football bust was last night. The most important thing arising from it was either Harbaugh emphatically stating he was not leaving Michigan and that three "jive turkeys" were spreading rumors to damage the program...

...or this photobomb.

Better men than me will have to parse a winner between those two items. I mean.

Split those hairs, if you will.

Other bits and pieces:

  • John O'Korn's status is up in the air: you "may see him back here next year."
  • Also in fifth year limbo: Wyatt Shallman, Patrick Kugler, David Dawson. We've been assuming Shallman gets a firm handshake since RB and FB are both full of guys and he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Michigan will probably need the OL depth Kugler and Dawson provide. It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see one or both start, but last year Michigan went into spring camp over 85 and without various exits the axe could have fallen on a guy like Matt Godin.
  • Maurice Hurst was not present—some guys had class commitments—and Harbaugh urged people to @ him to encourage him to return. Hurst's publicly stated he is leaning towards a return. Obviously that decision is not made yet.
  • Harbaugh further stumped for a sixth year for Jeremy Clark.

It is possible to take recruiting rankings too seriously. We take them seriously around here, but not this seriously:

FSU has the talent advantage in the game at every position except the offensive line.

That's a Tallahassee Democrat article titled "It's Experience versus Talent" in the Orange Bowl, which, uh

Because of the Michigan offensive line, the Michigan offense has a higher average recruiting ranking than the Seminoles despite the Seminoles having the edge at the skill positions and quarterback.

So not really. Also Michigan's defense has a walk-on at nose tackle... a walk-on who will be a mid-round draft pick. The moral of the article is that the recruiting rankings are close to a wash and Michigan is a bunch older, which helps explain why Michigan is a touchdown favorite.

Harbaugh's fourth down decisions analyzed. Long piece on Harbaugh's punt or go-for-it decision from Big House Analytics finds that somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the time Harbaugh agrees with math dorks:

Ultimately, we have a 77.8% “success rate” here, if you will — out of Michigan’s 45 non-garbage-time punts and their nine non-garbage-time fourth-down conversion attempts, Harbaugh’s decision to punt or go was Romer-approved or at least defensible given the complexion of the game (in my opinion) 77.8% of the time. If you want to go by the book (meaning the punts I deemed as defensible but not Romer-approved counting against our success rate instead of for it), our score is 59.3%.

This analysis doesn't get into anything team specific, so Michigan's iffy running game and killer defense don't factor in. Both of those argue for a more conservative tack. Only a couple of Harbaugh's decisions stood out to me as poor: punting on fourth and five from the OSU 36 early was pretty bad. On the other hand, that set up a first half where OSU was constantly pinned back and Michigan eventually cracked their D for a TD. It was very Ten Year War, and you could see why people tended to play that way back in the day.

Meanwhile on that FSU OL. Sometime OL starter Wilson Bell was arrested for failure to appear after a hit-and-run on property. No word yet on whether that affects his availability for the bowl game. I'd guess that it doesn't since no announcement has been made yet.

Hitching your revenue model to the cable bundle was foolish. It's going to take some time, but not as much as some people thought it would. ESPN is already becoming a bit of a boat anchor for Disney:

ESPN was thrust into the spotlight in November when the ratings company Nielsen predicted the sports juggernaut would lose 621,000 cable subscribers that month. Nielsen estimated the sports network would lose another 555,000 subscribers in December.

The staggering losses have led to calls by analysts for Disney to spin off or sell the beleaguered network, which has lost 9 million subscribers in three years, according to company filings.

The cable bundle is going to dissolve. That is inevitable. I sure as hell wouldn't have cable if I didn't watch sports, and about 100% of people younger than me have the same opinion. Since sports is by far the most expensive thing in the cable bundle, grandmas who just want to watch HGTV will bolt and we'll be the only ones left. At that point you don't get to put your hand in New York's pocket just because you added Rutgers, and then Rutgers is a barnacle on the Big Ten.

Maybe they can just eject them like the Big East ejected Temple? That's the ticket?

Draft split. Todd McShay's first mock draft has Peppers 4th; he fell out of PFF's first round mock. I'd split the difference there: Peppers obviously has some things to work on, but no athlete as outrageous as he is will fall to the second round.

McShay also has Taco Charlton(24th) and Jourdan Lewis(28th) in his first round. Hopefully Charlton does go in the first round, because then I will be less peeved about his lack of a redshirt. Also he deserves it.

Also of note for Michigan fans: McShay has OSU CB Marshon Lattimore and UW OT Ryan Ramczyk in his first round. Both guys could return to school; Michigan would obviously prefer it if they did not.

Russell Wilson part 2? 247 reports that Wisconsin is looking like the landing spot for ND grad transfer QB Malik Zaire. Zaire has about 100 career attempts to his name over the last three years and brings Devin Gardner-esque athleticism. He's not a slam dunk, but he's looked better than Alex Hornibrook. Would give Wisconsin another element.

The life of an analyst. Fascinating article on the guys who get their foot in the door for Bill Belichick:

Daboll was well prepared. He had spent two years as a grad assistant at Michigan State under Saban, so could speak semi-comfortably about scheme, self-scout, all that. Then Scarnecchia asked him about salary.

What do you think you should make?

Daboll had researched this, too. He had made calls to colleagues, and had dug up salary surveys from the NFL Coaches Association. He believed the average annual salary was around $65,000. He also thought, having worked for Saban, that he was a tad better than average.

"So I say 70," Daboll recalled. "And Brad Seely leans over and says, 'Would you take 15?' I go, 'Yessir.'"

NFL teams lowballing QC types like they're newspapers out here. Article also has a bunch of details on what breaking into football coaching is actually like. It is a ton of yes/no game charting.

Etc.: Carol Hutchins wins the inaugural Pat Summitt award. Well deserved. Minnesota suspends ten(!) players indefinitely. They decline to say why because of "privacy restrictions relating to student educational data," which tells you why. [UPDATE: Nevermind. Very bad.]

Peppers and mom in NYC. Some Don Brown twist stuff. Will Lockwood will be out for some time thanks to an obvious boarding incident that went uncalled but still separated his shoulder. "Christmas camp." Sounds fun!

Comments

This Week’s Obsession: Stumbling Blocks

This Week’s Obsession: Stumbling Blocks Comment Count

Seth October 5th, 2016 at 11:00 AM

image

[Bryan Fuller]

The Question:

Biggest risk of not reaching The Game undefeated? Can be opponent or team issue

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

The Responses:

Seth: My answers are low-score entropy, and the general bloodimindedness of the Big Ten universe. When Stribling fell down those who don't remember Bo-era losses must've thought "well that's what happens when you let a worse team off the hook." Those of us who do thought "Oh no, not again."

Randomness is the enemy of all favorites. When you're an offensive juggernaut with an okay defense, you worry about an injury to your dervish quarterback, conditions that take away something the defense couldn't, and staying on pace. When you're a defensive juggernaut with an okay offense, you worry about the one play.

We were given a treatment for the latter against Wisconsin. When facing a real defense, Michigan's just-okay offense will get bogged down. Michigan can mitigate the inability to kick a 40-yarder with better 4th down strategy, but this feeds the chaos engine.

Iowa brought back most of a great defense and could put it back together at night in Kinnick. Dantonio State will always play its best against Michigan. Indiana is probably better than either of those two and would be utterly terrifying if their chaos seed was just that rather than a curse. And out there on the Big Ten seas lurk the John O'Neill officiating crew, sworn enemies oddsmakers, favorites and ever calling holding unless it didn't happen, and capable of shifting an expected score by 28 points on the regular. When the deck is stacked in your favor, chaos is the enemy

[After THE JUMP: Respekt is earned.]

Comments

Professor Chaos

Professor Chaos Comment Count

Brian November 16th, 2015 at 12:29 PM

11/14/2015 – Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2OT) – 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

Other things happened on Saturday.

Florida played South Carolina, for one. As of 11 AM on November 14th Florida is 8-1, already the SEC East champions, and a fringe playoff contender. South Carolina is 3-6 and has already seen Steve Spurrier bolt for the golf course midseason. An ESPN reporter catches up with first-year Florida head coach Jim McElwain for an interview. He asks McElwain if Florida plans on beating South Carolina's head in so that the playoff committee will like them more.

This is a dumb question for a lot of reasons. For one, if Florida wins out the only thing that will keep them out of the playoff is the apocalypse. For two, only one coach is going to respond "oh sure, definitely" when asked he is going to beat a noble opponent until they look like Jared Leto in Fight Club. Unfortunately Spurrier is that man, and he is now a pro-am golfer. For three, Florida just beat Vanderbilt 9-7.

Anyway McElwain gives this reporter an eyebrow cock and laughs out an answer. It's a good answer: "we're not at the point in this program where we can think like that."

Three hours later the Gamecocks fire in two quick touchdowns to pull within 17-14. Florida fends off further scoring from an Ichabod Crane program and rips off a big run while they're trying to kill the clock; 24-14 is the final but a bounce here or there and, well, you know.

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

Michigan isn't at the point in their program where they can take much of anything for granted. This goes both ways. Suddenly the defense's fiery dominance is very much in question, but as compensation Jake Rudock is accounting for 500 yards of total offense. Jake Rudock is throwing the ball well downfield and it is going swimmingly. Jake Rudock is saying "eff it" and punting it up to Jehu Chesson to get Michigan down to the one. Jake Rudock has sweet nunchucks, and he is no longer hitting himself in the face with them.

Meanwhile, Michigan has finally run out of people to throw at opponents on the defensive line. Michigan has a very good starting 22 but the defense goes about 16 guys deep before a cliff. Michigan has three ILBs and then… uh. They have four CBs and then nah. They have eight… seven… six… five DL, and if there is ever a wrong time to be short-handed on the defensive line it is against high-tempo, crazy-ass Indiana when they have a healthy Jordan Howard.

Professor-Chaos-e1394661600468[1]

pictured: anime Jordan Howard

So Kevin Wilson had a plan, or at least half of a plan. The plan: be on the field forever going fast and get Michigan tired out and then get guys who had never played before locked on the field. Sometimes the other half of the plan consisted of watching Michigan score quick touchdowns, but this quickly devolved into a replay of that one Denard-vs-Indiana game. You know, the one where Indiana went on Ishtar-length scoring drives. After those drives Michigan would get the ball back and Denard would immediately run 75 yards. Repeat until dizzy. Continue repeating until vomiting. Implement yet further repeating until unconscious.

Michigan did have a ten play touchdown drive at the beginning of the second quarter, but the rest of their drives before the one-minute drill lasted 4, 3, 2, and 3 plays. Two of those were touchdowns, so hooray for that, but as that was going on this is what Indiana was doing:

  • 9 plays, 29 yards
  • 11 plays, 53 yards
  • 17(!) plays, 71 yards
  • 8 plays, 41 yards
  • 5 plays, 24 yards
  • 7 plays, 61 yards

None of those drives took as long as the Michigan 10 plays drive; Indiana got that 17 play drive off in just 5:22 of clock time.

The pace and inability to get off the field murdered the beat-up Michigan defensive line. Wilson's decision to go for three separate fourth down attempts, two of which succeeded, contributed to the downward spiral of the Michigan defense and directly led to Michigan's punch-drunk second half. On the third, Wilson threw a screen on third and ten with every intention of going for it on the ensuing fourth and short.

Fire Kevin Wilson immediately, please.

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

Michigan came out the other end of that game, shook up but unscathed. Indiana does this to everyone. OSU was fortunate to not get hit with a pass interference penalty on a thirty-yard heave that would have tied that game. Indiana was driving for the lead halfway through the fourth quarter against MSU. Indiana lost to Rutgers.

Even if I don't think it's going to happen this time, I am now thoroughly used to the mid-game shift from "this is a football game against Indiana" to "this is a METH BENDER against THE CRAZED RACCOON MAFIA." By the end of the first quarter I was holding onto my butts. By the fourth quarter I had chewed a small hole in the earth's crust. Overtime was spent peeking through split fingers.

Michigan eventually held, though, demonstrating why it's better to have a struggling defense than a notional one. And here we are again: for Michigan, exhausted and victorious. For Indiana, heartbroken and half-blind.

south-park-s08e01c06-professor-chaos-16x9[1]

Indiana should definitely never stop doing this, but they should stop doing this. Fire Kevin Wilson. Replace him with Gerry DiNardo. Have the same record but lose by 30 points every game. For your heart, Indiana, and mine.

HIGHLIGHTS

Michigan-centric from Parking God:

This one has some things Indiana did if you can stand the buttrock soundtrack:

AWARDS

22604586777_033cd49b7d_z

hoofin' it [Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jake Rudock set an (overtime-aided) Michigan record for touchdown passes, and just about hit 10 YPA on a 46-attempt, 440 yard day, and added in 64 rushing yards for good measure. The interception was unfortunate but other than that he crushed it.

#2 Jehu Chesson was Rudock's favorite target, grabbing a deep in route on the fly and taking it to the house for a 64 yard touchdown. Rudock hit him twice on the touchdown drive that ended regulation, once on the kind of floated ball he's had trouble adjusting to so far in his career. No problems there and none on the subsequent fourth-and-five catch where two different guys blew him up.

#3 Delano Hill couldn't be held responsible for most of the bad things that happened to the defense because he wasn't out there for a lot of it, but after Dymonte Thomas was knocked out he entered to make 10 tackles, 8 of them solo. He made the plays that stopped Indiana in double over time, first blitzing to tackle Howard on second down, then tackling Sudfeld in space on third down, and finally winning man press coverage against a slot guy for the win.

Honorable mention: Amara Darboh and Jake Butt also racked up piles of yards on the receiving end of Rudock passes; Jourdan Lewis just about had two interceptions and was very difficult to beat as per usual; the offensive line couldn't get much push on the ground but they were great in pass protection.

KFaTAotW Standings.

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

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Last play wins tend to have the last play feature in this section.

Honorable mention: Any number of Jake Rudock passing TDs—six to be specific. A looping pass to Butt gets Michigan into a manageable third down after second and twenty nine.

WGIBTUs Past.

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

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Indiana has nineteen straight runs in the second half, reminding everyone of that RichRod game against Wisconsin, which is the last game I ever expected to be reminded of this week.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling's very bad tackle attempt leads to a PR TD; Rudock throws an INT at an inopportune moment.

PREVIOUS EDBs

Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
MSU: Obvious.
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
Rutgers: KO return given up.
Indiana: run run run run run run run run run run run run.

[After THE JUMP: if bad Rudock is Ruddock how do you subtract more Ds from his name than one]

Comments

I'll Believe In Anything; You'll Believe In Anything

I'll Believe In Anything; You'll Believe In Anything Comment Count

Brian October 5th, 2015 at 12:24 PM

10/3/2015 – Michigan 28, Maryland 0 – 4-1, 1-0 Big Ten

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fight or fliiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaargh [Patrick Barron]

I'LL BELIEVE IN ANYTHING – WOLF PARADE

"I mean ... there were a couple plays where they got first downs. We've got to look at that and correct it. They shouldn't have anything."

-Maurice Hurst

"I BELIEVE" seems like one of the most fun things to say at full bellow. You are in thrall to whatever it is you are busy believing in. You are ejecting spittle that contains within it the virus that will pass the belief on to those blessed by its impact. You have left the constellation of niggling doubts and pressing issues behind for at least three syllables. It sounds like a good time.

With neither Catholics nor Michigan fans prone to bare-chested, cloth-rending proclamations of that sort, I haven't had many opportunities to test this theory out personally. Once I when I was a teenager I ended up in a place where super serious teenagers were hanging out and speaking in tongues and the like. Yes, the reason was a girl. No, it didn't take.

But anyway in the aftermath I have occasionally found myself lingering on late-night exploitative religious television with equal parts scorn, sympathy, and jealousy. While the pompadour'd reverend is immediately repulsive, I get the flock's desire.

Just give me a sign, Lord. Just give me a sign. I will take this sweaty dude's earpiece radio telling him details from the card I filled out. I'll take anything. My God, this dude is sweaty. That wasn't directed at you, necessarily, Lord. You probably know about the sweaty guy already. Sorry.

Just give me a sign.

He is really sweaty though.

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

Here is what this game was like: Michigan punched in the first touchdown of the game early in the third quarter. When Maryland got the ball back, the play by play announcer gamely attempted to maintain the general public's waning interest by noting it was "just a two score game."

Unless it's the Big Ten West you're talking about, in modern college football you don't have to say that in the third quarter. You don't have to say it until there are about five minutes left, and that's only if someone's out of timeouts.

Baylor and Texas Tech were a couple hours away from trading 45 minutes of haymakers before falling over in an exhausted heap. Tennessee hired Mike DeBord and now specializes in blowing three-score leads. Indiana—Indiana minus its starting tailback and quarterback!—took three separate Ezekiel Elliott uppercuts and still staggered its way back to attempt a potential game-tying drive. They got a 79-yard touchdown run from that quarterback made out of popsicle sticks. Their attempt to tie only ended because a relatively obvious pass interference call in the endzone went unnoticed.

Indiana. Indiana's bench.

These days a two score lead in football is slightly more meaningful than one in basketball, but you could be forgiven for forgetting that during any particular Big 12 game. Anyone turning off a game because two scores separate the sides is ravenously hungry and can't turn on the toaster and the TV without blowing a fuse or has something seriously wrong—like Lions fandom—with them.

Not right now, not against Michigan. If you find yourself two scores down against Michigan it's time for a priest and a eulogy. "BYU: at least they're already saved." "Maryland: if you pay really close attention you can tell they tried."

I mean, maybe not forever. Anything this good is bound to regress to the mean and get various holes poked in it and fall over breathing heavily. This isn't even typical Michigan fan bleating, it's just a fact. The ultimate fact of the universe is entropy. Ask Ohio State, currently struggling to nose ahead of MAC teams and Indiana after returning almost literally everyone of importance from a team that blitzed Oregon and Alabama to end last year. Ask the water on Mars. Ask Devin Gardner. Chaos reigns.

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

Michigan now faces back-to back undefeated top 15 opponents. A year ago this would have been time to stock up the bunker and wait for the bombs to fall. Even when the Harbaugh Hail Mary was gloriously completed, we collectively told ourselves we were going to keep expectations on the level. Hopes stopped at "this is a nice 8-4 season that feels very nice and also like football mostly."

It's dumb to go past that even now. Reasonable expectations are a nice thing to have. The poison of ridiculous ones is evident down the road. I've been here before, latching on to the things that seem good and saying maybe it'll happen this time. I have gotten naught but misery for my troubles.

But each three and out, each time a Michigan defensive lineman shoots through a gap he should not be able to pierce, each bewildered quarterback throwing a ball he sort of hopes is complete but mostly just wants out of his hand—all of it sucks me closer to the event horizon. Within it all reason is lost and the future is a horde of pending victims in our war against the galaxy.

Outwardly I am still too Michigan to cry it out, the thing that is fun to say. But on third and long—and there is always a third and long—my eyes dance with blood. Just give me a sign, Lord.

HIGHLIGHTS

Also, the BTN profiled Amara Darboh:

AWARDS

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

Now named! Named like so because this is the nicest thing Harbaugh can say about you.

you're the man now, dog

#1 Desmond Morgan was actually relevant this week. He was also terrific, with a difficult diving interception on a deflected pass, two pass breakups besides, and nine tackles.

#2 Maurice Hurst edges out the rest of the defensive line with two ultra-badass TFLs, one a sack on a three man rush, one an extremely similar play where he dumped the RB in the backfield.

#3 Blake O'Neill delicately located two punts inside the five, had a 59-yarder, and was extremely important for field position in a field-position-heavy game.

Honorable mention: All defensive persons. Drake Johnson. Jake Butt. The offensive braintrust.

KFATAotW Standings.

5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland)
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU), Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland).
1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Jehu Chesson gets loose on a jet sweep and puts a Maryland safety in an early grave before outrunning the other guy to the endzone.

Honorable mention: Perfectly called Drake Johnson screen goes for touchdown; perfectly called Jake Butt screen goes for 44 yards; every defensive play except about six.

WGIBTUs Past.

Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

A Jake Rudock NO NO NO YES throw hits Sione Houma in the hands and bounces up to a defender, thus prolonging the first-half slog significantly.

Honorable mention: Even though Michigan got it back, Ty Isaac's second fumble felt a lot like a promising guy eating bench for half a season. Also Isaac's first fumble.

PREVIOUS EDBs

Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.

[After THE JUMP: sad ghost rudock, tuff ghost defensive line]

Comments

Mailbag: Heartbaugh, Super Bowl Game Theory, Demoralization List(!), Beilein Recruiting

Mailbag: Heartbaugh, Super Bowl Game Theory, Demoralization List(!), Beilein Recruiting Comment Count

Brian February 16th, 2015 at 10:18 AM

Okay

Good Morning (Afternoon in Ann Arbor) MGoBlog Team,

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, the attached picture was being passed around by the 49ers fans here in my office.  One had the insight to share with me.

Go Blue.

img24923872

I want to see a version of this with the MVictors glare photo.

Not at all timely response to Super Bowl question.

Brian,

You briefly mentioned how you believe Belichick not using a timeout at the end of the Super Bowl was a colossal overlooked mistake, and that the ends don't justify the means.  In almost all cases I agree with you on coaches' inability to properly use timeouts (e.g. Hoke giving up a free hail mary).  However, in this particular case, I disagree and I think the statistics and "feels" may bear out that Belichick didn't necessarily just get lucky.

Everyone knew that, at some point, Lynch was going to get the ball.  With only one timeout left, Belichick knew that Seattle couldn't run it three straight times. In addition, Lynch had not been very good, going only 45% successful in short yardage situations all season, and 1/5(!) at goal to go from the 1.  Belichick had to know that, and was potentially making a statistical gamble on being able to stop the run there.  There is also something to be said in the "feels" category with putting pressure on the other
team to make a decision they may not otherwise make.  It was also made clear by Butler that they were ready for that exact situation.  Belichick knew they could defend it.  I think even though it may appear that Belichick got lucky, he in fact knew exactly what he was doing.  It may look like high risk, but in fact the season statistics and his preparation tell me that he knew the odds were in his favor by letting the clock run and limiting Seattle's choices.

Thanks, and I love the blog as well as discussions like this.
-Kyle (Carolina Blue)

I think that's dubious at best. Seattle snapped the ball on second down with a timeout and 26 seconds after having run the clock down from just under a minute. Seattle has the option to run on either second or third down. By not calling timeout you get to impose that constraint on their playcalling.

But that's all, and that's not much. You cite some stats that have been floating around; those are not serious. (Five attempts? Cumong man.) Football Outsiders' OL rankings have Seattle the #2 team in the league in their "power success" stat, which is defined like so:

Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.

Lynch and Seattle had in fact been excellent at punching the ball in, and forcing a pass is a good idea. You give up some expectation when you throw on the doorstep of the end zone.

Meanwhile, the Patriots were dead last with an identical rate: 81% of the time Seattle tried a short conversion they got it; 81% of the time the Patriots tried to stop one they failed. Even leaving aside the passing down, 19% squared is about 4%. Without a miracle—the first goal-line interception thrown by an NFL team all year—the Patriots go home losers. How likely is that miracle? Not likely. Russell Wilson had seven interceptions on 495 throws this year.

Your win percentage is unbelievably grim in the situations the Pats put themselves in. But how grim is it

  • down three with a minute left with a TO
  • on your 20
  • with a unanimous first-ballot HOF QB

Not nearly as grim, I think.

[After the JUMP: demoralizing: we're experts]

Comments

Mailbag: Late Game Threes, Basketball And Football Recruiting Reassurances, The Poisoned Chalice Of Access

Mailbag: Late Game Threes, Basketball And Football Recruiting Reassurances, The Poisoned Chalice Of Access Comment Count

Brian February 3rd, 2015 at 4:09 PM

SUBjayhawks-superJumbo[1]

Go for three against MSU?

Brian,

Frustrated after the end of the MSU basketball game.  Simple question...if you have the ball down 2 points, with the chance to take the last shot, wouldn't you give yourself a better chance to win the game by running the clock down and taking the best three point shot you can get within the last five seconds?

Simplistically, Let's say it has a 35% chance to go in, and that your win % if it goes in is 100%.  The other option is go to go for a two point shot with time left on the clock.  What are your odds of winning with that strategy?  Much worse, right?  I'm no math major, but to me the odds go like this:

- generously, a 50% chance of making the shot, which then...
- gives your opponent a possession to win.  Call it 50/50 that they take advantage.
- even if they don't, all you get is overtime, which lets call another 50/50 shot.

Maybe you can run the numbers, but it seems like your win % is something like 12.5%.  You need three toss ups to go your way.

I'll hang up and listen...

Regards,
Philip Maguran

It's a bit more complicated than that.

  1. Michigan isn't just worried about what will happen if they score. They're also worried about what will happen if they don't. Michigan had 20 seconds left when Bielfeldt tipped the ball in. If that had gone the the other way they had an opportunity to force a turnover or get another bite at the apple in the event MSU did not knock down both free throws. Even an 80% shooter like Denzel Valentine gives you a shot at the game about a third of the time.
  2. Michigan's tying basket was a off an offensive rebound. Off a two, yes, but even if it was a three the ensuing putback is still worth two.
  3. Your chance at a putback is greater if you aren't shooting a jumper. In the NBA, shots within 6 feet get rebounded at a 37% rate; threes at just a 26% rate. (Threes are still better than long twos at 21%.) Albrecht's shot was a weird floater, one that saw Branden Dawson checking Bielfeldt at the FT line in an attempt to prevent a three—the nature of that shot greatly aided the subsequent putback.
  4. Your chances of an OREB are zero if you wait for a three at the buzzer.
  5. Last second threes are generally bad shots because the opponent is maniacally focused on the three-point line. Albrecht's three to bring Michigan within striking distance was a good example of the phenomenon. To get any sort of look he had to take the shot a few feet behind the arc. See also:

you're welcome

Given all that the decision is far less clear. I'd be totally on-board with an open look that came out of the context of the offense. I would prefer it to any non-gimme two. But waiting for a do-or-die three is not good eats.

I don't have a problem with the way regulation ended. In that situation the imperative is to have a good offensive possession, hopefully quickly, and Albrecht's quick take got a decent shot that put Michigan in position for an OREB without bleeding much time.

[After the JUMP: talking people off various recruiting related ledges]

Comments