Michigan 28, Penn State 16

Michigan 28, Penn State 16

Submitted by Ace on November 21st, 2015 at 4:12 PM


The difference. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]

There were shades of the dark, recent past. A non-existent running game. An ugly interception. Catching seemingly all the bad breaks.

One particularly bad aspect of that past was missing, however. While James Franklin cost Penn State a chance to win by kicking a field goal from the one and mismanaging their timeouts, Jim Harbaugh stood opposite him, competent and then some.

Michigan won this game due to coaching and finishing drives, and the two were inextricably linked. Both teams had one touchdown from outside the red zone, Michigan's a 26-yard pass from Jake Rudock to Jake Butt before PSU responded with a 25-yard fade to Saeed Blacknail. The Wolverines converted all three* of their red zone chances into touchdowns. Penn State also had three, but ultimately settled for three field goals, stymied by a stout Wolverine defense and their own conservative playcalling.


James Ross laid some licks. He wasn't alone. [Upchurch]

While the game remained close throughout, Michigan controlled most of the action, outgaining PSU 343-207. Outside of a bad pick, Jake Rudock continued his pinpoint ways of the last couple games, throwing for 256 yards and a pair of scores on 36 attempts. Amara Darboh moved the chains and earned a hard-fought touchdown on a steady diet of wide receiver screens and added a remarkable sideline snag; Butt found open spaces for 66 yards; Chesson stretched the field and chipped in M's best run of the day on a 20-yard end-around. While it was a frustrating day on the ground, the weapons in the passing game again proved their steadily increasing worth.

On the other side, Michigan allowed an early 56-yard run to standout freshman back Saquon Barkley and otherwise limited him to 12 yards on 14 carries. The defensive front beat up quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who managed just 131 yards on 37 attempts and took four sacks among many, many hits. By PSU's last-gasp drive, Hackenberg seemed out of it—quite possibly injured—and even started trotting off the field before barely getting the play off on fourth down; his final throw sailed harmlessly out of bounds.

If you're looking for the moment that turned around the game, the muffed punt that Chesson recovered inside the ten, setting up a one-yard Sione Houma plunge for a 21-10 lead, is the simplest answer. But if you'd like to say it's the moment Michigan hired Harbaugh, whose timely aggressiveness got the Wolverines a critical score late in the first half for the second straight game, it'd be hard to argue.

Ultimately, that's why this game will be fondly remembered—if quickly lost in the excitement of the week to come—instead of another nightmare in Happy Valley. Be gone, ever-fuzzier recollections of McGloin and Floyd and 27-for-27 and missed overtime field goals. Michigan is one Ohio State victory away from playing for the Big Ten East.

--------------
*Not including the game's final drive, when Michigan kneeled out the clock while inside the PSU five.

Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on November 20th, 2015 at 12:45 PM

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Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.

I was going to tell a story about how Matt invented the mortgage in 1745 but given the persnickety legal details that come with being a broker I think that might actually be heinously illegal, so I'll have to skip it. When Matt talks to lawyers about running within the bounds of the law it seems like he gets tossed a dusty 500-page tome and is told to memorize it. So our story dies before it can even live. But at least you can be secure in your decisions when it comes to owning a home, amirite?

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do much that was out of the ordinary for them. Indiana was very aggressive.

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They had a standup end similar to the buck spot; I still interpreted him as a DE.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Pretty standard at this point. Smith, Houma, and Johnson got the only tailback snaps. Bunting has fallen out of the TE rotation. When they need a third guy they go with Hill or Poggi. Newsome only on goal line plays.

Ways got a few snaps but it was almost all Darboh and Chesson plus Perry in three wide sets.

[After THE JUMP: Rudock does okay-ish.]

Wednesday Presser 11-18-15: Jay Harbaugh

Wednesday Presser 11-18-15: Jay Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 19th, 2015 at 9:05 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

So we were told on Monday that the receivers and tight ends were playing as well as any group in the Big Ten. They’ve taken a big step forward, it seems like. What do you think has been the cause of that?

“I think it’s just impossible to work hard and practice really well and not get a lot better. If you do the right things it will pay off. It’s just a matter of time, I think. Really that’s all I would attribute it to.”

Can you measure the synchronization change from the start of the season til now with Jake Rudock and the receivers?

“Just in terms of being on the same page?”

Just being more used to each other.

“Yeah. I think I wouldn’t say that we weren’t used to each other, but with the pass game relationship there’s definitely a benefit of spending more time together. Kind of, as I’ve said before, it’s just a matter of improving over time.”

When did you start to see those improvements pay off on the field?

“In terms of Jake and the receivers?”

Yeah.

“I thought we were going to throw the ball well against Utah, so…it’s not like an ‘aha’ moment, I guess. It’s not like an instance where you go all of a sudden Jake’s good, Jake Rudock’s good or Amara and Jehu are good. It’s just a matter of improving and connecting on plays; more plays in week two than we missed in week one, week three and four, etc. It’s not like a one week, one moment thing even though people will try to make Indiana out to be like that.”

I got scolded a bit Monday for asking about Ian Bunting. He was starting to contribute quite a bit in the passing game early in the year. What’s he got to do to get back to that level and see more playing time?

“He does all the right things. He’s working tremendously hard and is practicing really, really well. If there was a downside of having a really good, deep group at one position I think that would be it. Not everybody always gets to play as much as they’d like or contribute in the ways that they would like, but he’s doing all the right things and hopefully in the next few weeks he’ll be able to show his improvement.”

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]

Professor Chaos

Professor Chaos

Submitted by Brian on 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.

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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.

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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

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hoofin' it [Fuller]

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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]

Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs Rutgers

Submitted by Brian on November 12th, 2015 at 2:07 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

HomeSure Logo NMLS-1

Upon Further Review still has a sponsor. Hey man the feds are going to raid your meth lab. Or raise rates. I'm not sure which agency we're talking about. Unless they're the same one, which would be weird but again we are talking about an entity that thinks alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are pretty much the same thing. I disagree, feds.

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right: low rates won't be quite as low in the near future if you're on the fence.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

FORMATION NOTES: Nothing weird in this one. This will be a pattern, as Michigan put the toys away for the most part. The screens were not anything super clever; other than the fullback wheel this was almost all things already put on film.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Exceptions from the usual routine were few and far between in this one. Smith and Johnson were the main tailbacks; Houma got a couple carries that must have induced déjà vu in Rudock. Green and Shallman got in some in garbage time.

Tight end was mostly Butt and Williams; Hill got a few snaps. Bunting may have gotten in once or twice, his playing time has dipped significantly. Wouldn't read too much into that since Williams is doing well.

WR was Darboh, Chesson, and Perry. I don't think Ways played. Newsome got a half-dozen snaps as an extra OL.

[After THE JUMP: accurate Iowa Rudock is a good thing.]

Rutgers Postgame Presser: Players

Rutgers Postgame Presser: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 9th, 2015 at 3:00 PM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

Rudock, you seemed really comfortable today. You weren’t 100% this week. Can you talk about your mindset out there?

“I’d say at this point in the season nobody’s feeling 100%. I felt good enough to go, which is all you need; the confidence to go out there and perform. Training staff did a great job of getting me ready to play.”

What did you guys see in looking at Rutgers this week to know that you were going to be able to throw the ball as well as you were able to today?

JB: “They run a lot of middle field open, like Cover 2 and stuff, and that’s one of our strong suits, attacking that kind of a defense. Kind of just liked our matchups against some of their secondary and linebackers and we were able to exploit that and kind of click on some of those balls today.”

Rudock, your rhythm tonight seemed to just have that in-the-zone look. Could you just explain it a little bit? I mean, this is a career high for you. Was this just one of those games where you felt it particularly?

“I think you get those games, as you were saying, but also kind of just getting into a rhythm. Whenever you see the ball get completed and completed you’re seeing the field well. That’s a big thing, and also I think that’s a big tribute to our coaches and really good scheme. All 11 guys on offense really understood and really took [inaudible].”

Jake Butt, take us through the intent to deceive play, like where were you and what did you think of the call?

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if there was an intent to deceive. I came off the field late. Got the sub call-in late and lined up. Got the look we wanted and completed the pass. I guess there was a flag. We weren’t really ready for the flag to be thrown but, you know, it happens.”

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]

We Will Both Agree That I Am Mean

We Will Both Agree That I Am Mean

Submitted by Brian on November 9th, 2015 at 12:24 PM

11/7/2015 – Michigan 49, Rutgers 16 – 7-2, 4-1 Big Ten

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[Patrick Barron]

This was never much of a game; it was never expected to be much of one. The line rose to a whopping 24 points before kickoff. Michigan hit that number early in the third quarter. For big chunks of the first half Rutgers had 55 yards of offense from one run on which Joe Bolden was held rather blatantly and literally nothing else. This was a walkover.

So there's not much emotional impact to be drawn from this one. Other than the sudden appearance of Good Iowa Rudock pretty much everything went as expected. Back in the day I'm pretty sure I shrugged at these games, wrote a couple paragraphs about how this wasn't really a thing, and moved on to gleaning what could be gleaned from an uncompetitive game. More recently that kind of column has been reserved for dismal contests in which a moribund Michigan team gacked it up against, oh, say, Rutgers.

There will come a day in the next couple years when Michigan takes on the dregs of its division and drops the hammer and I say that there's no point in a column. This is not that day. Because last year Gary Nova threw for 400 yards against this defense. Because last year Michigan did the classy thing and apologized for putting a piece of metal in Michigan State's field. We are not yet far enough removed from that to simply shrug.

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

So at halftime, Rutgers did something dumb. They poked the bear.

"They were just saying things like, 'Oh, it's our time this second half,' 'We the comeback kids,' 'These guys can't really finish games,'" safety Jabrill Peppers said, kind of rolling his eyes at the last remark.

"That's pretty much all I heard."

I'm impressed they hadn't checked out entirely, but it does not do to poke the bear.

"They were excited. They were down, what, 19, and Coach didn't like that they were celebrating," Lewis said. "(He said), 'Put the foot on the gas, finish these guys off.'"

Those were his exact words?

"I don't want to use those words out here," Lewis said, with a laugh.

Many, many opposing fans are going to complain about Harbaugh the jerk, Harbaugh the sociopath, Harbaugh the serial killer who kept stabbing our face long after we were dead. I perused a good number of these comments after this game… for some reason. Wilton Speight played most of the fourth quarter and Michigan put up just 14 points in the second half.

Even so the Rutgers beatwriters are really stretching to make something out of Harbaugh's two-point conversion:

Is there a beef between Rutgers coach Kyle Flood and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh?

Evidence cited: a two point conversion with 26 minutes left in the game and a couple of coachspeak comments from Flood that could be spun into a veiled shot if, say, you were desperate for anything to talk about after a 49-16 loss. Steve Politi, the guy who wrote that column about Harbaugh being a phony compared to the real Kyle Flood, is trying to stoke the flames by citing the sneaky Jake Butt play—which happened in the first half!—Jake Rudock throwing in the third quarter, and Jabrill Peppers fair-catching punts.

I guess when you cover Rutgers you're on the cutting edge of "not in the face!" research. But it's clear Harbaugh is taking heat here solely because of his reputation.

I am fine with this. At Stanford he told his players to "win with character, win with cruelty." This is what I want a football program to do.

I want it to be angry up 35-16 at halftime. I want it to step on available throats within the rules of the game (except for certain substitution rules). I don't care if someone's feelings are hurt by a justified two-point conversion, or an unjustified one. I endorse all fourth-quarter passes against teams five scores down. I look forward to a point in the future when an apology will not be forthcoming.

HIGHLIGHTS

Parking God:

AWARDS

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this is both #1 and #2 [Fuller]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jake Rudock had 13.5 yards an attempt despite two drops from his receivers. Even against an atrocious pass defense, that'll do. Rudock also escaped the pocket and tiptoed the sideline for a touchdown and scrambled for the two point conversion.

#2 Jake Butt had 104 of those receiving yards on four catches. Rudock is now hitting the high window where Butt can show off his height and leaping ability. I have him with zero drops on the year. Butt has 418 receiving yards on the year, almost 150 clear of his nearest competitor… that Minnesota TE who was delivered a couple gifts last week.

#3 Chris Wormley re-asserted himself after a few relatively quiet weeks with two sacks, one on a stunt Rutgers didn't pick up, the other just a straight up pass rush around the corner. Wormley also helped Michigan's rush defense to another dominant day.

Honorable mention: Jourdan Lewis set the single season Michigan PBU record. Jarrod Wilson wasn't hit in coverage and had a pretty spectacular interception. Mason Cole was probably pretty good.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
6: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers)
5: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota), Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers)
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).
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Jabrill Peppers does his Denard-vs-WMU impression.

That acceleration after he dodges the tackle is ridiculous.

Honorable mention: any number of pinpoint midrange Rudock passes but we'll go with the 50-yard catch and run to Butt; Jarrod Wilson's un-boring interception; Smith rips off a big run late on a textbook power play; Harbaugh goes for two for Reasons.

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.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

A weirdly short kickoff from Kenny Allen is returned for a touchdown.

Honorable mention: Targeting overturned; Rutgers rips off a 55-yard run thanks in large part a pretty obvious hold on Joe Bolden; Michigan struggles to run yet again.

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.

[After THE JUMP: no ghosts this week, tiniest band ever, screens, defense hole-seeking]

Michigan 49, Rutgers 16

Michigan 49, Rutgers 16

Submitted by Ace on November 7th, 2015 at 7:54 PM


Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

For the second straight game, Wilton Speight came on in relief of Jake Rudock at quarterback in the second half.

This time around, though, Rudock wasn't injured as Michigan went toe-to-toe with Minnesota; instead, he took a well-deserved rest after his career day headlined a blowout of Rutgers. Rudock completed 18 of 25 attempts for a career-high 337 yards and two touchdowns, adding a third score with an unlikely scramble to the pylon. Jim Harbaugh called him "tough as a two-dollar steak" for his performance coming off last week's injury.

Rudock looked better than he has at any other point this season, to the benefit of many—ten different Wolverines logged a reception. Michigan exploited a bad Rutgers secondary in a variety of ways. A Sione Houma wheel route set up a post route touchdown to Jehu Chesson; Michigan's second huge gain on a screen led to Rudock's dive to the pylon; a motion swing pass to Jabrill Peppers accounted for the third score; Jake Butt spent much of the day running free up the seam on his way to a career-high 102 receiving yards.

Butt would've had even more if not for a penalty of substituting with an "intent to deceive," a rule that seems to go against the core tenets of football, and it may have been misapplied anyway, as Rutgers simply didn't bother to account for Butt after he left the huddle. In the postgame presser, Jim Harbaugh said he was "offended" by the call.

Creative officiating was about the only way Michigan's offense could be slowed. The Wolverines finished with 487 yards. While the running game took a while to come around, the multiple successful screens were fine in its place until De'Veon Smith got it going in the second half, finishing with 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

The defense bounced back from an iffy performance against Minnesota with a stifling one against Rutgers, ceding 225 yards and only six points that weren't set up by long returns. Janarion Grant accounted for the other ten, breaking a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and setting up an end-of-half field goal with a punt return inside the ten. My only additional comment is both those returns also involved some creative officiating.

The defensive line, led by Chris Wormley (two sacks), dominated like usual, even after Ryan Glasgow exited with a shoulder injury—his status wasn't updated after the game. Royce Jenkins-Stone returned to his normal spot as the starting BUCK and aquitted himself well with a sack and two QB hurries.

Jarrod Wilson, long lauded here for being comfortingly boring, made an exceptionally un-boring play when he got over the top of a pass to Grant and dove for an interception. Jourdan Lewis, whom Chris Laviano inexplicably targeted with frequency, matched and surpassed the school single-season record for pass breakups previously held by Leon Hall and Marlin Jackson; his record-breaking 19th PBU killed a late Rutgers drive.

By that time, little was in doubt except when Harbaugh would call off the dogs. He didn't do so until midway through the fourth quarter with all the scoring—including a rather inexplicable two-point conversion after Smith's touchdown to give M a 43-16 lead—already in the books.

The rote blowout had enough moments of excitement to stay interesting, especially the Peppers touchdown, which looked destined for a TFL until he found an extra gear or three to blow past multiple defenders.

"I knew he was good, but man, he's really good," Harbaugh said of Peppers.

Rutgers is probably saying similar about Michigan after getting hit with arguably their best offensive performance of the year.

Monday Presser 11-2-15: Players

Monday Presser 11-2-15: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 AM

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[Upchurch/Fuller]

Ryan Glasgow and James Ross

James, coach Harbaugh mentioned the second to last play when they shifted and you had to stick with the tight end. What were you looking at on that play and take us through that.

“There’s a lot of plays Minnesota did with the tight end whether he’s releasing late or things like that and I just wanted to keep my eyes on him, and it just so happened that he did try to release late.”

James, when did you start taking practice reps at the BUCK linebacker position and can you just talk about that transition this week?

“I started transitioning to BUCK as soon as Mario [Ojemudia] went down, that week after. Just consistently getting reps and trying to find ways to get on the field.”

This is the first time that you’ve played it in a game, right?

“No, I actually played it last week versus State- or the week prior to this week. But yeah, against State.”

Ryan, talk about the job you guys all did getting underneath the blockers on that last play. You seemed to get off the ball pretty well.

“Yeah. I mean, Willie [Henry] and Mo [Hurst] did a great job on that play, and the linebackers got a great push. We’ve never really practiced that live; it’s all stepping through. You don’t want to hurt anyone in practice, but I thought we did a good job executing on the field. That was probably our first live rep of that type of sneak play this season and I thought we did a good job of executing it.”

Did you know he was short?

“Uh, I had a feeling he was short. I mean, I was on the ground, not really looking at it, but I knew the guys around me were pushing back.”

[After THE JUMP: Erik Magnuson, Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, and animal analogies for the offensive and defensive line]