SPONSOR NOTES: Matt reminds me that there is some chatter that the Federal Reserve could finally raise rates in the near future, which would be bad for your mortgage.
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.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan broke out the 'bone a couple times:
That is a bonafide flexbone. One of these snaps was a jet sweep, the other a trap that coulda shoulda worked in the fourth quarter but for McDowell blowing Cole up.
Pistol diamond with MSU in their very standard arrangement:
4-3 over, two safeties sitting at 8-10 yards, on damn near every play.
Late MSU did split their LBs and blitz them as they threw the kitchen sink at M in an attempt to get the ball back.
But it was mostly "here we are running quarters."
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Starting line with the Braden/Bredeson left side for the second straight game, Speight your QB. Peppers got six wildcat snaps and one as a WR; Morris got thee QB/FB snaps. JBB got five snaps as a TE-type substance.
Darboh led the way at WR with 54 snaps; Chesson had 40 and Harris, Crawford, and McDoom got the scattered remainder. Poggi and Hill again split FB snaps about down the middle. Smith got 60% of the RB snaps with Higdon and Evans splitting most of the rest; Isaac was only used on four snaps, three of them sweeps.
Butt got 57 snaps as the primary TE; Asiasi (31) and Wheatley (18) also got significant action. Bunting was briefly on the field as well.
[After THE JUMP: three quarters of up and down the field followed by (correct) turtle time.]
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.
What will it take to keep the guys focused and playing at a high level the rest of the year every week?
“I think it takes a lot of commitment. Hard work. Good goals. Uh…commitment. Good football character. Good human character. I feel like we’ve got those kind of guys.”
You’ve been able to get the ball to four running backs, a couple of wide receivers, Jabrill, fullbacks. Short and long term, how much does that help you whether it’s recruiting, but also to win games because the other team doesn’t quite know who’s going to get the ball and everybody’s fresh?
“I think it helps in all the ways you just said. Helps in all those areas.”
I think Mone went out of the game in the first half? Did he come back in or is he hurt?
“Yeah, he fell down. Fell down on his leg and came off, but he came in yesterday saying he felt good.”
Do you have any expectations whether Grant Perry will play this week or is he still going through whatever he’s going through?
“Yeah, we’ll…to be determined.”
Thoughts on DJ Durkin coming in with Maryland and the job he’s done with them so far this year.
“He’s done a fabulous job. Just always respected DJ as a tremendous competitor at the highest level. Smile thinking about his competitiveness, and also always happy for a friend’s success. I think he’s doing a fabulous job, him and his entire staff and team. You can see the energy. You can see the strength. You can see the competitiveness and execution on the field, et cetera. The flip side of that is we know that this’ll be a big game, a championship game. This will be a real test for our club.”
[After THE JUMP: We’ve got to build some immune systems. More push-ups. More whole milk.]
...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:
In looking at positives, Tyler O'Connor said a Michigan DL told him, “You guys might not have won the game, but you guys kicked our ass.”
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."
#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.
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.
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.]
Facing a fourth-and-goal down 20 points in the fourth quarter, Mark Dantonio went the James Franklin route and called for a field goal. The football gods did not look kindly upon this act of cowardice; Michael Geiger missed the 34-yard attempt.
Dantonio almost certainly regretted that decision when the Spartans cut it to a two-score game midway through the fourth. Instead of having a shot at a miracle, they ran out of time—a Donnie Corley touchdown catch with a second remaining on the clock only brought the deficit to seven. To keep up appearances, or something like that, Dantonio called for a two-point conversion.
This also backfired, and in spectacular fashion. Jabrill Peppers capped a game worthy of a Heisman contender by returning an MSU fumble 98 yards for two points. The subsequent onside kick that didn't matter bounced harmlessly out of bounds, and Peppers got one final opportunity to display his athleticism when, perhaps as an homage to Braylon Edwards, he backflipped following the victory-formation kneeldown.
While it wasn't the blowout most expected, it wasn't as close as the final score indicates, either. Michigan absorbed MSU's best shot on the opening drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march featuring 11 LJ Scott touches capped by a five-yard TD run. The Wolverines hit back by going 80 yards in eight plays with Eddie McDoom's 20-yard jet sweep setting up a three-yard Jabrill Peppers keeper to even the score. They gained the upper hand on the ensuing possession when Maurice Hurst slashed into the backfield to force Gerald Holmes into the unforgiving grasp of Peppers on a fourth-and-one.
From that point forward, Michigan was in command. Two De'Veon Smith touchdowns—one featuring a delighful smashing of Riley Bullough at the goal line—and a Kenny Allen field goal were the result of the next three Wolverine possessions, and MSU could only muster a field goal in the interim; Smith's second score gave M a 24-10 lead with 33 seconds left in the half, and it seemed safe to assume that would be the halftime score.
Tyler O'Connor had other plans, which quickly went awry. Instead of running out the clock, O'Connor heaved a pass towards RJ Shelton while under heavy duress from Taco Charlton, and Jourdan Lewis got his hands under it for the pick. Michigan got off four plays in 27 seconds; Amara Darboh, who had a career-high 165 yards in his best game as a Wolverine, drew a pass interference in the end zone to set up a chip shot Allen field goal as the half came to a close. Suddenly, it was a three-score game.
The 27-10 halftime margin would hold for the entire third quarter due to the goal-line heroics of the defense. In an otherwise stellar game, Wilton Speight made a significant error to open the second half, failing to see MSU corner Darian Hicks while targeting Karan Higdon on a wheel route. Hicks cut off the throw for an interception, and within two plays the Spartans had a first-and-goal.
Michigan State ran seven plays inside Michigan's ten-yard line on that possession, getting second life when Peppers was hit with a pass interference flag on third down. On play seven, Lewis crashed down on a fourth-down pitch to Scott and upended him in the backfield, ending the drive with authority.
After Kenny Allen struck a 45-yarder true to begin the fourth quarter, MSU went into desperation mode, inserting Damion Terry at quarterback on the ill-fated field goal drive, then switching to Brian Lewerke after a Michigan punt. The offense couldn't quite put the Spartans away, however, and Lewerke had a chance to make it a one-score game on fourth down with a little under two minutes on the clock.
The defensive line got serious heat on Lewerke, however, and Peppers cleaned up with a crushing sack. Michigan wore down some clock before MSU's desultory final drive while Jon Falk brought the Paul Bunyan trophy back to its rightful place in the Wolverine locker room.
Michigan State has lost six in a row. Michigan is 8-0 with one rival in the clear and three games to get through before a potential Big Ten East title game. While it took one year longer than any of us wanted, the in-state rivalry is, at long last, as it should be.
SPONSOR NOTES: Rutgers's total yardage is like Matt's rates: absurdly low! Their general organization is like Matt's competition: disorganized beyond belief! Your pants after watching the Peppers punt return are like your pants when applying for a mortgage with Matt: optional but discouraged!
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.
FORMATION NOTES: Rutgers was all gun and mostly three-wide. Michigan responded with two different approaches. One was their conventional 4-2-5. Here Thomas and Peppers are over the slot receivers with out of the picture as the free safety.
The other was a 3-3-5 package; since I consider Peppers a safety those were listed as 3-2-6. Similar packages with Furbush were labeled as a 3-3-5.
Michigan had this setup, which is close to a stack. They had others where a safety crept down to an OLB spot that were kind of a 3-4; I called those "faux 3-4." They had some 5-1 lineups with two LBs on the end of the LOS and the DL folded inside. This package comes in for much more discussion after the jump.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Obviously there was a massive pile of it. The starting line only got about 20 snaps each, with Hurst getting 26 to lead all DL. Gary, Charlton, Wormley, Winovich, and Glasgow all got around 20. Godin got just 12. Jones, Onwenu, and Kemp also got late snaps. Lawrence Marshall did not play and did not travel.
Starting LBs went the whole way until the starting D got lifted; backups were as expected with Furbush at SAM and Bush and Wroblewski at ILB. Wangler got in very late, as did Mbem-Bosse.
Secondary as per usual. Metellus, Hudson, and Kinnel split snaps at S with Kinnel getting more time since he plays on passing downs with the regular D. David Long got far fewer snaps than Lavert Hill... still affected by that injury?
Devin Bush Jr. is acclimating himself well at LB. Sounds like he could step in with little drop off right now.
Kenny Allen would have kicked FGs at Rutgers, but the competition is still ongoing. No decision has been made this week since it’s just Wednesday.
Partridge added that the issues Allen has had have been mechanical, as it’s difficult to adjust your swing plan when you’re doing three different things.
Quinn Nordin’s healthy enough to participate in the kicking competition
I highly recommend reading what Partirdge had to say about Peppers’ attention to detail and drive, as well as his summation of the program’s culture.
Your thoughts on Jabrill’s [punt] return? There was an awful late flag that came in there. What did you see on that play?
“Phenomenal play by Jabrill, obviously. Kind of jumped in the air and then spun and ducked somebody at the same time, so phenomenal play. Questionable. Questionable. But, you know what, it happens. We’ve got to be real careful. I tell those guys all the time, let’s just get him to the dance. Get on your blocks as long as possible and just know if it’s ever questionable peel off and go find somebody else and let him make a move. We’ve got a phenomenal player back there, so we’ve got to get him the ability to make a play. Frustrating that we didn’t finish it, but we’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
Several of the veterans had some downtime last week. What did the kickers do? Were they going right along?
“Yeah, they continued to work, but we had to be smart and give them some downtime, too. We scheduled their kicking early in the week and then the young guys continued to work throughout the week, improvement week, just like the rest of the players.”
Coach said the competition’s always ongoing, but is it maybe a little bit more settled than it was coming out of the game before Rutgers?
“No, I don’t think it’s ever going to be settled here. I think we’re always going to compete and challenge those guys, and they know they have to perform at a high level or there’s going to be someone ready to perform. We’re still competing. About equal reps and keep working. About equal reps for the next few weeks.”
You can evaluate it in practice, but if they’re not kicking in a game, even the Rutgers game, is it hard to simulate what that experience is like?
“Yeah. I mean, of course I’d like to get a try there in a game to have that pressure, but we’ve got to just try to do our best in practice to be ready for the game when it comes. But yeah, of course. There’s nothing like game reps.”
[After THE JUMP: Partridge evaluates Peppers, JBB, what it’s like to work for Harbaugh, and his own coaching]
10/8/2016 – Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 – 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten
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.
“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:
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.
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.
#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!
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.
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.
As with yesterday’s Harbaugh presser, the lovely people in Rutgers’ Athletic Communications department provided us with transcribed highlights of the players’ press conference for your perusal.
Michigan linebacker/defensive back Jabrill Peppers
On his performance: “Whenever you get the balls in your hands you just wanted to make something positive happen. Today God had his hand on me today on some of those plays. I just have to give it up to the blocking and the coaching scheme. They set the guys up in positions to excel so we just went out there and handled business today.
On his reaction of the score at the end of the game: “Just wow. I’ve never been part of a victory this massive. But you still have to handle it with class and just keep improving for the next week. You can’t stay on your high horse. Our game against Rutgers is over so we just have to prepare during our bye week for the game after that.”
On Juwann Bushell-Beatty and his performance: “I was really happy for him. I know that he’s battle a lot of injuries and some weight problems. I’ve been playing with him since high school so I’ve seen him grow into who he is today. For him to start in front of the home crowd; I know he went down early but he got back up and was able to finish out the game. I was really excited for him.”
On what keep them going even after going up big: “You know, there are no backups. Every time you’re out there you’re expected to play like you’re a starter. We don’t look at the scoreboard. We just want to impose our will as fast and long as we can. I think the younger guys are starting to adapt to that. It’s up to us the veterans to set up that foundation. I think they’re starting to buy in and trust the coaches. We tell them that you have to play like you want to win the game until you win the game. This is college football and crazy things happen. It’s just our mindset.”
Our friends in Rutgers’ Athletic Communications department were kind enough to send out a transcript of the highlights from Jim Harbaugh’s postgame presser (in the middle of the night, no less), so even though I wasn’t at the game you still have some Sunday content to consume.
On the play of Jabrill Peppers and Chris Evans: “We put some plays in for (Peppers) last week where he was operating as a quarterback and then more this week, because he’s just so darn good at it. That was really the turning part of the game, I thought was his long run. The first downs were coming hard. It was looked like it was going to be one of those nights. His speed was dramatically different than everyone else on the field. Chris Evans, he showed early he was going to be tough to bring down. He was lightning fast and quick tonight. To me, that’s what broke the game open was Jabrill’s and Chris’ play. Chris said something really interesting in practice. He didn’t say it to me, he said it to my dad and Al Glick. He later told me that, quote from Chris Evans, ‘it’s a sin to be good, when you are sent to be great.’ That was really profound. He was really dynamite tonight.”
On limiting Rutgers’ first downs: “I don’t know how many three and outs it was. I know there were only two first downs and not until late in the game. We were playing on half the field all night. The guys up front had a great game. There was constant pressure. The team has been tremendous. Didn’t allow a third down conversion all night defensively. There’s been incredible play on third down. (Defensive Coordinator) Don Brown is an amazing coach. I know I’ve been saying that a lot. It’s obvious to everyone, to our team, to our whole defensive staff.
On the intensity of the backups: “As a coach, the two weeks you worry about are the week going into a bye week. We call it an improvement week, but still that week you are going in and the week you are coming off that bye week. Our players were as focused as I’ve seen them. To your point, when the two’s got in there, they were playing with the same kind of motivation, the same kind of fire. They wanted to show what they can do. A lot of freshmen were playing in this ball game and playing well. There wasn’t any real sign of drop off when our two’s were in the there. Our two’s were in the entire second half, except for a series on offense and a series on defense.
[After THE JUMP: the darndest thing Harbaugh’s ever seen]