If I were simply hoping to sum up the game in GIF form, the above would suffice. But y'all had requests. So, so many requests. I appreciated each and every one of them.
Before I get to those, though, I have to acknowledge one reader who went above and beyond this week. The MGoStaff will all have physical copies of Monday's peak self-burn State News thanks to user TitaniumTim, who responded to my call yesterday and confirmed today that a shipment is headed our way. We cannot thank him enough.
YOU SEE THAT THIS IS BASICALLY A EUTHANASIA HEADLINE RIGHT? THAT MICHIGAN STATE DIDN’T LOSE THIS GAME, BUT INSTEAD GOT SOME KIND OF WASTING DISEASE AND TRIED TO MAKE IT COUNT BEFORE THEY DIED? WAS MORGAN FREEMAN ON THE SIDELINES TO ACCOMPANY MICHIGAN STATE AS THEY DID EVERYTHING THEY WANTED TO BEFORE THE GRIM END ARRIVED? OH COOL, MICHIGAN STATE, YOUR FONDEST WISH WAS TO HOLD MICHIGAN SCORELESS FOR A QUARTER BEFORE DISPLAYING A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING FOR BASIC SCORING MATH. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. WE’LL CUT THE TRAILER TO “HOLOCENE” AND RELEASE IT IN TIME FOR OSCAR CONSIDERATION.
Come for the all-caps rant, stay for the discussion of the most Michigan serial killer. I've still got HH Holmes. North Campus represent.
Life also runs away from you fast. This isn't quite a 40, but in pads at the end of a game where you played both ways it's still eyepopping:
The Stribling Q. How good is he? He had a rough couple plays against MSU but the verdict still appears to be "very good." PFF just published a snapshot of their top corners as rated by NFL passer rating when targeted. Michigan's CBs are #2 and #3, nationally, behind Clemson's Mark Fields. Stats:
Lewis has allowed 4 completions on 17 targets for 2.9 YPA with two INTs.
Stribling has allowed 10 completions on 35 attempts for 4.1 YPA, one TD, and three INTs.
The only other Big Ten corners on the list are OSU's starters at #7 and #10.
“It was really me looking at life after football, Football is not a promising game. You never know when your last snap or play is going to be, so you have to think about the things that’s going to build you as a person versus building you as a football player. I live with no regrets."
He said the choice between Michigan and Iowa made him "sick to his stomach"; that whole Higdon/Weber thing was balanced on a knife edge.
The Debordenberg Project. Tennessee had a moment there when they were recovering every ball that hit the turf and seemed like a top ten team if you didn't look to closely. After three straight losses, the most recent to South Carolina, not so much.
"South Carolina was trying to take away the long ball," DeBord told members of the Knoxville Quarterback Club at Calhoun's on the River on Monday. "They didn’t want to give up big plays and they didn’t. The other thing is what we see every week, and it’s been interesting, but what we’re seeing on film throughout the week, teams are changing it up. What you practice against is not always what you see in the game. That’s having to adjust with our players and things like that."
IS THIS A NEW CONCEPT TO YOU
AAAAARGH THIS IS HOW A TEAM WITH TOM BRADY, ANTHONY THOMAS AND LIKE FOUR NFL LINEMEN AVERAGED 3.5 YPC IN 2000
NO I'M NOT OVER THAT
no you're being unreasonable
Fine. It's not our problem any more and I should be nice to Mike DeBord even if he seems to just be cottoning on to the fact teams will try to trick you 30 years into his career. I think I called Michigan a Queensbury's Rules program under Lloyd Carr and... yep. Yep yep yep.
Basketball scrimmages Akron. Kudos to Tony Paul, who got enough about it to post an article—I don't recall Michigan's "secret scrimmage" getting any coverage before this year. Akron is a MAC favorite and in a scrimmage scenario you're going to get a lot of rotation that won't continue in competitive games; I wouldn't read much into the score. Akron "might've" won one of the halves per Paul, which rather emphasizes the lack of emphasis to put on scoring.
On the other hand this is a very nice thing to hear:
Sophomore big man Moritz Wagner, who really came on at the end of his freshman season in the postseason, had a big game against Akron and figures to be "a matchup problem" for several opposing teams, the person in attendance said.
Paul also reports that Jon Teske seemed ahead of Austin Davis in the race to be Michigan's third center, which is a mild surprise after the open practice Michigan had.
“As great as special teams coaches are, I think most of them don’t know the mechanics of kicking and punting,” Lopata said. “In terms of making a change or what’s actually going on with kicks and punts, the vast majority of players rely on other kickers on the team, a personal coach, and themselves. One of the biggest things I try to instill in the players I coach is self-correction—being able to give yourself objective feedback regarding your mechanics.”
That is not to say U-M’s coaches aren’t paying attention. A couple of weeks ago, Harbaugh said he’d noticed that Allen was rushing some of his kicks. “You want to be in that 1.25, 1.3 [second] operation time and he was getting down there one time where he was 1.1.”
Lopata watches games very closely and liked what he saw last Saturday from Allen. “He’s doing a lot of great things with his body positioning—keeping his chest up and having a smooth and fluid follow-through. The biggest tell is what’s happening with the ball. Although PATs are short, judging from the ball rotation and how high up on the net it is, I can tell he’s back to striking the ball flush.
“You want to see an end-over-end rotation and the ball rotating at the right speed—not too fast or too slow; just at that nice, correct pace, which you only know if you see it.”
Article was posted Friday and Allen made good on Lopata's observations, going 3/3 and hitting a 44-yarder. Whole thing recommended.
In 2013, Lavigne committed to the Wolverines when he was 17. It was supposed to be a simple story of a talented Canadian taking his game to Michigan before advancing to the pros, but that got shot to hell.
In the fragile position of goaltending, Lavigne became shattered goods in the United States Hockey League. Cut twice in two years in the league, his career was in jeopardy, and Michigan passed on taking him in two years in a row.
But as Lavigne shifted, lunged, batted, swung at and stopped all 31 shots Union peppered at him in his first college game earlier this month, it was clear that he had put the pieces together.
Goalies are weird.
Lavigne figures to get a lot of opportunities to prove his worth over the course of the season: Michigan got swept last weekend by bad teams and massively outshot. They've managed to defy possession, Corsi, and plain old shot totals en route to a decent start, but they're starting to come back to earth. Unless they radically improve their level of play they won't be in the tournament, or anywhere near it. They were outshot 42-21 by Vermont. They are probably the worst team Red Berenson has fielded since the very beginning of his tenure.
Okay so I’ve talked about this before. Maybe more than once. But Ohio State loves this play, so much that its variations account for 3 of the first 4 plays on Curtis Samuel’s Oklahoma highlight reel (and 2 more are counters off it).
Inverted Veer (again)
This play is called “Inverted Veer” or “Power Read.” It was the staple of the Borges-Denard/Devin fusion cuisine era, because it is the mullet of offensive plays: manball business in the front, spread party in the backfield.
Here’s a basic setup:
The offensive line is blocking like power C: block down and pull from the backside, and cave the frontside.
A second after the snap reveals why it’s such a devastating play:
While a good ol’fashioned zone-read might option a backside defender, inverted veer options the playside end man on the line of scrimmage (EMLOS). That defender is allowed into the backfield and optioned: if he comes up too far, the ball is given to the running back, who accelerates away to the outside—You’ve been EDGED! If the end gets wide to prevent the running back from getting the edge, that opens up room for the quarterback to dive into the gap behind him—You’ve been GASHED!
[Hit THE JUMP for variations, and how Michigan defended this]
SPONSOR NOTES: Got a couple of requests to re-record the podcast commercial featuring Matt and his kids because it sounds like Matt has dragooned his offspring into this. Well, yeah, that's what offspring are for. Matt is a man who will dragoon for you. That's not something everyone can say, because not everyone knows what that word means. Matt does!
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
IDIOT DIRECTOR NOTES: This goober zoomed in so close to almost everything and provided zero high-angle replays, so I'm doing a lot more guessing about coverages than I usually do. As a result some plays of interest aren't clipped because the interesting bits I remember from the game aren't actually on the screen.
FORMATION NOTES: Okay, I separated front and cover look, and am still not satisfied with the results. "Press" was anything with hard corners on guys on the LOS:
Off was off. This was two high, and also the post TD.
One high version of same:
Still a work in progress.
Michigan and Colorado didn't do anything too weird except for some offset three man lines I'm just piling in as "exotic."
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Again a tight rotation, which makes yet more burned redshirts puzzling. Wormley and Glasgow led the way on the DL with 53 of 71 snaps; Godin, Winovich, and Garry all got around 40. Hurst got 27 and since he played well I'm guessing they're trying to keep his workload light as he continues to recover from whatever held him out of the opener.
Linebacker was as you'd expect, with Starters getting the whole game minus some personnel package items. Gedeon is the guy who stays in when Michigan has just one true LB on the field.
Secondary was also low rotation, with Thomas, Stribling, and Clark playing every snap. Hill got dinged up and missed 16; Kinnel saw 20 snaps, most meaningful; Watson had 18.
WTF burned redshirt of the week goes to Carlo Kemp and his four snaps.
Let's say you're on the sideline of a football game. You've got a job to do, and you're doing it. This job involves looking at things other than the field, so you rely on your colleagues to let you know when the action threatens to spill over into your area of the sideline.
This is a fine system. You've honed it over the years. People move at a certain speed, you see, and when you hear "heads up" you get your head up, evaluate the situation, and avoid the brunt of the contact. Tried, and true, this system. Damn near infallible, in fact. At no point have you looked winged death straight in the facemask.
Then, this Saturday. Just after your team has taken a very unexpected second-half lead, the system kicks in. "Heads up." Head goes up. This is a process, though, and as you are in the midst of this process your brain starts signaling to you that something is wrong. The tone of voice, maybe? An ominous breeze? What's that thing with the sirens going by? Doppler effect? Whatever it is, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up straight. The process is complete now. Your head is up.
The system has failed.
The system was designed with certain tolerances and Jabrill Peppers has just blown through all of them. You are now staring winged death straight in the facemask. What a terrible time for it to be, now. Before is good. Later is good, assuming that there will in fact be a later. Now… now is bad. You spin the fight or flight wheel and land on "soil yourself."
And who can blame you, really?
Sphincters are also designed with certain tolerances. In your own way you've just blown through as many of them as Jabrill Peppers has in the realm of physics. So you've got that going for you.
There is a certain kind of person—usually a rival fan with a brain that could be cooled down to meat-locker temperatures without any discernible ill effect—who spent most of the offseason bleating about excessive hype for Jabrill Peppers. Peppers didn't have a bunch of shiny counting stats, you see, and therefore he was worse than other people who did.
This argument, already dead in the water to any slightly objective person with eyes, is now beyond repair. Peppers has a decent season's worth of linebacker stats three games in: 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, three QB hurries, and a forced fumble. He leads Michigan with 28 tackles, 19 of them solo. He's got 173 punt return yards—an average of 22 yards a pop!—and has just started contributing on offense.
Linear extrapolation of these numbers gets to territory so uncharted that Captain Janeway and her crew of morons show up to survey it. We probably shouldn't do that. Spicy stats will get rarer as the competition level increases… insofar as it does. Rutgers is still on the schedule, after all. Maryland—which just went to double OT with Central Florida—is also on the docket. Penn State and Wisconsin have offensive lines that are, uh, in flux. Peppers might not might meet significantly more resistance except in a few games.
So screw it! Linear extrapolation: 112 tackles, 38 for loss, 10 sacks, a thousand return yards and however many touchdowns, and whatever he chips in on offense. Ahahahahahaha.
PICTURED: THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
This was a concerning game for several reasons, not least of them the fact that a middling-at-best Pac-12 school was driving to go up 28-7 in front of a shocked Michigan Stadium. Post Traumatic Hoke Disorder was in full effect amongst the 110,000 gathered. Personally, I was not having a real good time. I went into emotional shutoff mode, as is my wont, and contemplated how I was going to break it to MGoBlog readers that I was moving to Bolivia, as is also my wont.
Peppers didn't rescue that himself. I had a fist pump after Rashan Gary came around the corner and a ragged exhalation when Amara Darboh dismissed a couple tacklers to turn a tunnel screen into a touchdown. Michigan's rebound from a game they certainly lose in the previous regime was a collective effort. That collective effort was mostly accepted on mute.
The one guy who pierced right through that attempted stoicism was Peppers. Because BANG he's thumping some dude in the backfield and BANG he's just slashed upfield through the first wave of punt defenders and BANG he has sacked the quarterback before he's even finished his drop. Even when you're trying not to feel anything in case the feelings are horrible, it's impossible to see Peppers and not think OH HELL YES SOMETHING 'BOUT TO BE ON FIRE I CAN'T FEEL MY FAAAACE LET'S GO PUNCH A LEOPARD WOO.
Offense or defense, doesn't matter. He's the best lion. He sinks his meaty claws into anyone with the temerity to test his edge. He's the best gazelle. He slashes through a line of claws without ill effect. He is sui generis, the scourge of sphincters, and someone put him in a winged helmet to rouse the inert from their stupors and send them to their local superstores in search of an axe appropriate for crazed berserking. Check.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jabrill Peppers is an easy selection after 3.5 TFLs, a sack, two rushes for 24 yards, a kickoff return to the Colorado 45, and four punt returns averaging 25 yards a pop including the game-sealing touchdown. Peppers has been everything he's been hyped up to be so far this year. The busted coverage is a demerit, and this is still an easy pick.
#2 Jake Butt was the one consistently positive target in Michigan's passing game, with seven catches for 87 yards; I also caught a couple of positive run-blocking events on Michigan's big plays.
#3 Ben Gedeon had 12 tackles, a critical sack early in the game, and was a major component of Michigan's interior run defense. Pop pass issues may have been on him and McCray but asking LBs to respond to RPOs like that is asking for trouble; I'm assuming those are on the safeties.
Honorable mention: Khalid Hill would have made it if I wasn't pretty sure he got Speight killed on the sack/strip. Rashan Gary, Chris Wormley, and Ryan Glasgow were key components of a stout interior run defense.
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). 1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3, Colorado). 0.5: Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii), Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Peppers finally gets his return touchdown and seals the game.
Honorable mention: Matching 45 yard touchdowns down the edge by De'Veon Smith and Amara Darboh; various other Peppers things.
Jabrill Peppers left the Buffaloes (and his coach) in awe. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]
After one quarter, Colorado had a 21-7 lead, outgained Michigan 195 yards to 66, and flat-out looked like the better team.
"We knew it wouldn't be a fairy tale all year," said Jake Butt. "We knew we'd get punched in the face."
Michigan punched back, hard. The Buffaloes gained 130 yards for the rest of the game. Michigan had 331. If Kenny Allen hadn't missed a pair of field goals, the Wolverines even would've covered the 20-point spread.
Early on, Colorado's up-tempo offense and athletic defense caught the Wolverines by surprise. Jabrill Peppers was caught out of position on a deep post for Colorado's first touchdown, then the Buffs went up by 14 less than a minute later when Chidobe Awuzie forced a Wilton Speight fumble that Derek McCartney took back 18 yards for a score. Speight, either shaken or hurt on the hit, had a tough time dialing in after that. If not for a blocked punt by Michael Jocz that Grant Perry took in for a touchdown, Colorado would've exited the first quarter up by 21 after another Sefo Liufao touchdown pass.
Then Michigan adjusted. The defensive front got to Liufau time and again, eventually forcing him out of the game with an apparent ankle injury, though not before Liufau somehow bombed a 70-yard touchdown off one leg to Shay Fields to open the second-half scoring. They shut down the Colorado running game entirely, and the Fields touchdown was the only big play after a first quarter full of them. Don Brown is paid good money for a reason.
The offense slowly but surely picked it up, too. With Khalid Hill leading the way in authoritative fashion, Jehu Chesson got the corner for a 17-yard jet sweep touchdown. Amara Darboh gave Michigan the proverbial momentum swing they needed on a 45-yard screen, stiff-arming a defender to the ground on his way to the end zone with only 33 seconds left in the half. Despite a disastrous start, Michigan led 24-21 at the break.
Colorado landed another big shot with the Fields touchdown. Michigan responded in kind with a pitch to De'Veon Smith on the second play of the ensuing drive; Smith hardly had to do anything on a 42-yard jaunt down the sideline on perhaps the best-blocked run play of this young season. The Wolverines finally grabbed control of the game when a long catch-and-run by Grant Perry set up a one-yard touchdown for Ty Isaac to give M a 38-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Then Jabrill Peppers, having a remarkable all-around game, launched his Heisman campaign. Peppers already had three punt returns and a kickoff return that were a block or two away from reaching the end zone when Colorado lined up to punt from deep in their own territory; a line-drive kick went right to Peppers's chest, and he exploded up the middle, overcoming a cramp at the five-yard line to at long last tally his first return touchdown in a Michigan uniform.
"It was definitely a sense of relief," said Peppers. "If I don't score there, then they needed to put someone else back there."
Peppers's overall stat line boggles the mind: two rushes for 24 yards, four punt returns for 99 yards and a TD, two kickoff returns for 81 yards, nine tackles (six solo), 3.5 TFLs, and a thunderous sack.
"Above all, Jabrill Peppers proved that he was the best player in today's game," said Jim Harbaugh, who praised the talent level on both teams. "We don't win that game without Jabrill Peppers."
"That's a team effort, but... wow," Harbaugh added.
Peppers wasn't the only Paramus Catholic graduate to provide some honest-to-god wow experiences. Rashan Gary recorded 1.5 TFLs and a pair of QB hurries; even better, he eliminated the mental errors that allowed UCF to pick up big gains on the ground last week.
Michigan leaves this game with plenty to work on. Dymonte Thomas, Delano Hill, and Peppers all had coverage busts that led to big plays. Speight's performance didn't equal those he had in the season's first two weeks. Allen, who looked either injured or overwhelmed by his workload, struggled in all phases of the kicking game.
"To be honest I think we did [need a game like this]," said Butt. "We can look back and learn from this."
With Penn State and Wisconsin up next on the schedule, it won't take long to find out how well they've learned those lessons.
This play didn't crack the top five this week. I still want to talk about it, though. Not that you need to be told this, but watch Jabrill Peppers, who starts the play lined up on the block M.
The rest of the defense is caught flat-footed on this play. The D-line is slanting away from the running back. The force defender is nowhere to be found. The playside corner is caught in man coverage and has his back to the play. Peppers's first two steps are towards deep center, then he has to alter his path to avoid running into Delano Hill.
With a speedy running back around the edge unimpeded, this play looks destined for a first down. Peppers not only reads the play and covers a ton of ground to get to the back before the sticks, he cuts down the angle and finishes the play by literally throwing the RB out of bounds.
Savor every moment you get to watch this guy—excuse me, this Dude—play football. He is truly a once-in-a-generation athlete.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the UCF game in GIFs.]