In honor of Ferentz. Last year after neither starting quarterback did much good in their bowl game, Iowa released an unprecedented post-bowl depth chart listing C.J. Beathard as the starting quarterback over Jake Rudock. The PR gesture had two effects: 1) placated Beathard's dad who'd been making threatening transfer noises in a Tennessee paper, and 2) gave Rudock a concrete sign to seek playing time elsewhere.
In honor of Kirk Ferentz's noble and unselfish dick move, I hereby give you a post-bowl Fee Fi Foe Film diagram of just Michigan's guys. Rudock, you'll note, has again been put in his proper place: among the stars.
While we're at it, I figured I might as well clean up the roster data spreadsheets I use to keep track of things like what happened to Michigan's recruiting classes, attrition, redshirts, position switches, and starts, with historical data going back to the 1997 team. Link is here.
Check the tabs for 2016 scholarships, starter data and walk-ons. I'll keep this updated over the offseason if you'd like to use it for diaries or fact-finding. For example if you want to see how attrition cut into Michigan's classes since 1994:
On television, passes over a certain length are leaps of faith for the viewer. The quarterback throws it. Then there's a second or two before the intended target comes into focus. In that second you hope the guy is open or covered, depending on the situation. Maybe sometimes if you're lucky just plain expect something good to happen. For most of the year Michigan's defense has given fans the right to expect something at least reasonably difficult in those moments.
The offense hasn't quite managed that, even after Harbaugh found the right way to scream-pound Jake Rudock midway through the season. Also Florida's secondary is House of Cosby, except with Jourdan Lewis. So Rudock flung it up and for a moment there it didn't look too good. The arc was a bit high, the ball hung a bit long. Despite the recent surge I felt a wave of trepidation as this ball's parabola swung back towards Earth.
And then Jehu Chesson panned into view. Just Chesson, because Vernon Hargreaves was standing at the twenty yard line with an enormous animated question mark over his head. Chesson caught an uncontested touchdown that Rudock had punted up short on purpose, and the slow-motion rout was on.
A few months ago Michigan trundled to another one of those losses against Utah that are all pretty much the same depressing football game. In it, Chesson burned a corner on a double move almost as badly as he did Hargreaves. He downshifted as he neared the endzone; Rudock tried to make the perfect pass and ended up overthrowing a sure thing by a couple yards.
That was a theme of not only his junior season at Iowa but the first half of this year: Rudock would try to hit the perfect pass every time, and often this was just out of his reach. That tendency continued; it combined with an unfamiliarity with the offense to turn Rudock from an efficient, if beleaguered, game manager into a guy who barely completed half his passes and couldn't hit 6 YPA against UNLV.
There wasn't anything to be done about this. Rudock was in Ann Arbor to spackle over a quarterback recruiting sinkhole of epic proportions, and if he didn't work out he didn't work out. A shrug is all you can muster if the stopgap is in fact a stopgap.
Then f(Rudock) = 2^x
Ain't never seen anything like that before. One day, Jake Rudock was scuffling through a depressing transition season. The next he was keeping Michigan afloat as the defense scrambled in the aftermath of Ryan Glasgow's injury.
The Chesson touchdown, while easy, was the culmination of Rudock's year. That closed the circle from the Utah game. Later Rudock would dump a 45-yard post route in Chesson's lap to put a cherry on top.
Rudock finished behind only Nate Sudfeld in passer efficiency in the Big Ten, averaged nearly 8 yards an attempt, had a 20:9 TD:INT ratio, and led the conference with a 64% completion percentage.
Rudock ended the year against the nation's #4, 5, and 8 S&P+ pass defenses. His line in those three games: 64/101, 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6 TD, 1 INT.
I am going to repeat that. Jake Rudock's line against three consecutive top ten pass defenses: 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6:1 TD-INT.
Give Jim Harbaugh your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and he will turn them into NFL quarterbacks. Give Jim Harbaugh your disjointed messes, your pitiful morale, your nonsense rosters, and he will put on a hard-hat and create a ten-win team. I think we just got done with the glide path. Now for a rocket and a match.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jake Rudock completed his in-season renaissance with a stunningly efficient performance against a third-straight top-ten pass defense. He also ran for some yards and gave a polished post-game interview. Destined to be a backup QB in the NFL for the next ten years.
#2 De'Veon Smith went full Ricky Vaughn in this game, demonstrating a greatly improved ability to read the game in front of him and quickness possibly borne of a recovery from injury. PFF credited him with 11 broken tackles; he crested 100 yards against a fierce run defense.
#3 Jehu Chesson toasted Vernon Hargreaves crispy on a touchdown, caught a tough 45-yard post route, had a catch-and-run conversion on which he was pulling away from the Florida secondary before a safety chopped him down, had a spectacular over-the-shoulder reception on a play he also drew a flag on, and then had the best catch of his life on a throw that took him about six inches out of bounds. Do I hear Manningham 2.0?
Honorable mention: Chris Wormley and Willie Henry had terrific days on the DL and are excluded mostly because the offensive players had a much tougher matchup. Jarrod Wilson ended his boring Michigan career with a boring interception and we love boring safeties and will miss him. Kenny Allen hit a couple chip shot field goals, blasted a punt that would have probably been a 70 yarder had the endzone not intervened, and hit Vernon Hargreaves so hard on a kick return that he forgot to cover Chesson a bit later. Mason Cole and Graham Glasgow were terrific on the ground and equally good against the pass.
Honorable mention: That post route. De'Veon Smith finds a backside cut. Drake Johnson reverses direction on that draw. Treon Harris's ludicrous interception. Willie Henry eats a dude. Sione Houma befuddles a linebacker.
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. PSU: OSU's WHAT ARE THOOOOOOSE gameplan against MSU. OSU: the second half
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things, like Harbaugh, and family, and Harbaugh, and some more family. Also I have a mortgage that was easy to get and has an excellent rate that will save me a ton of money over the life of it. And Harbaugh. And a decidedly pants optional lifestyle. Also Harbaugh.
FORMATION NOTES: Penn State played most of the game in a 4-3. Passing downs saw a nickel. I may have missed a few nickel snaps since 11 and 15 can look similar. This was a pretty typical alignment:
Note the PSU player to the top of the screen is a corner and Brandon Bell, their nickel LB, is over the slot. PSU's defense is superficially like MSU's, but they sit their safeties back a lot more and are generally less aggressive.
Michigan didn't do much out of the ordinary other than line up Peppers at RB, frequently in a shotgun 4-wide setup I dubbed "Baylor" because obviously.
This one was a WR screen since PSU elected not not to put two guys near the stack to the bottom of the screen.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Mostly the usual. Slight variants:
Kalis got knocked out for a snap, so Dawson was inserted.
Bunting returned to the field for a few snaps.
Hill is getting a fair number of snaps behind Poggi and Williams.
Peppers got a number of pure RB snaps and handoffs that were in no way frippery.
Jehu Chesson is working through something. Harbaugh expects him to play, but his medical status will be evaluated again today.
Derrick Green is also working through something and will be evaluated today.
Bryan Mone hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday, but Harbaugh wouldn’t say whether he’s been practicing, instead saying he’s been running, working, and healing.
Peppers at RB is something they might use more in year two. He said next season might “get a little crazy.”
Grant Newsome is the backup tackle and David Dawson is the backup guard/center
The snow reminds Harbaugh of 1969, when Bo called the players in on Monday morning to shovel the practice field. A similarly snowy practice field is the only reason he’s thinking of the ‘69 team, though.
First opportunity you get to coach in this big game, this big rivalry. How much are you looking forward to Saturday?
“Very much looking forward especially to today, gathering with the team and starting our preparations.”
Can I ask you about Jake Rudock? When you were in San Francisco, was he on the board as a potential NFL prospect and are you hearing from NFL teams from scouts and what not asking more about him?
“You don’t call that ‘the board’ until somebody’s in their last year of eligibility.”
What about the second part?
“I would think he would be.”
Have NFL scouts talked to you about him this year?
“I really haven’t talked to many NFL scouts this season.”
In Bo’s last press conference with us he said he did something to prepare for Ohio State every day. Is that something that you’ve been following as well?
“You know exactly how we’ve been trying to go about things. We’ve been trying to be better today than we were yesterday, [and] we’re trying to be better tomorrow than we were today. That’s our approach.”
As a player, it seemed like you guys, Michigan players, treated the Ohio State game differently. Do you not anticipate treating it differently as a coach?
“Uh…I have no frame of reference for what you’re referring to. We treated it differently when I was a player?”
Yeah, just circled it, the game, the rivalry game, doing something each week for it, your guarantee and stuff like that.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t really know where you’re coming from. Sorry.”
[After THE JUMP: Jake Rudock gets upgraded from tough as a two-dollar steak to hard as hen’s teeth]
11/21/2015 – Michigan 28, Penn State 16 – 9-2, 6-1 Big Ten
I have seen things when Michigan plays Penn State. I have seen boggling things. Things I should not repeat but am about to anyway.
I have seen a free Hail Mary handed the opposition. I have seen a timeout just before an intentional safety. I have seen 27 runs for 27 yards. I have seen Michigan's slot receiver left alone, all alone. I have seen a slot receiver wonder if any of these 100,000 people can see him, especially the offensive coordinator. I have seen a slot receiver's constituent atoms disperse as he convinces himself he must not exist after all. Then I saw some more runs for one yard. Somewhere in there Dennis Norfleet dances in a loop for all time, because sure that makes as much sense as anything.
I have been baffled. I have been enraged. I have been morbidly entertained. I have been stupefied, watching Michigan play Penn State.
Things have been a bit frustrating the past few weeks, what with an avalanche of procedure penalties, offsides calls, and special teams mishaps. But when presented with a situation where they did not expect to and could not run the ball much, Michigan did not repeatedly bang their collective head into a brick wall.
Michigan's final drive featured five De'Veon Smith runs and one kneel-down. Five Jake Rudock attempts were sacks or scrambles. Once those are put in the appropriate bins, Michigan ran just 19 times to 43 passes.
Two years ago in that very stadium a complete wreck of an offensive line took on an equally stout Penn State defense. They didn't throw one wide receiver screen. Fitzgerald Toussaint ran 27 times for 27 yards. This year before garbage time time, De'Veon Smith had 8 carries; 6 went to Chesson and Peppers.
Michigan's going to be a good rushing offense. Probably great. But even though that's what Harbaugh wants to do, he adapted to the situation he was presented with. That's terrific.
Coaching can be divided into a few different categories. Development, recruiting, and tactics seem to cover the bases. While Michigan is still struggling with the near-total lack of the former under the previous regime, the latter was totally on point here. Can't say that about two years ago. Or a year ago. While Michigan remains a bit wobbly, a bit rickety, the things they are doing make sense.
Michigan played Penn State on the road and the only stupefying things that happened came from reliable sources like Big Ten referees and James Franklin trying to manage a game. Meanwhile Ohio State played Michigan State in the most stupefying game of the year. Now is the time to sit back and appreciate the fact that things more or less make sense.
It ain't perfect and it'll never be, but Michigan tries a bunch of things and takes what the opposition gives and if something isn't going great they stop doing it. The only time I've gotten really twitchy about tactics was against Indiana when Michigan ran play action on second and twenty that led to an interception. (I was mildly twitchy about Michigan's passivity on Indiana's go-ahead touchdown drive.)
In a world where Ohio State throws 16 times against Michigan State, where Tim Beckman is seen as a viable hire for a position more involved than vending machine*, where every coach in America seems to need a 14-year-old kid who plays Madden nonstop on the sideline, "more or less makes sense most of the time" is gold. Michigan's coaching staff has not punched itself in the face for four hours on any given Saturday, and in the cold light of dawn two days after a stupefying weekend of college football that warms the ol' cockles right up.
#2 Chris Wormley was the most consistent and dangerous of Michigan's defensive linemen, racking up 1.5 sacks and another half TFL. Wormley and the rest of the DL gave up one big Saquon Barkley run (mostly on Willie Henry and the linebackers) and shut everything else down, leaving PSU relying on the tempestuous Christian Hackenberg to move the ball.
#3 Jake Rudock threw one ugly interception. When not doing that he completed two-thirds of his passes for 256 yards. 6.7 yards an attempt isn't electric but since a half-dozen or more of those were wide receiver screens that Michigan used in place of a running game that may understate things. Also, Penn State has had one of the best pass defenses in the country to date.
Honorable mention: Jake Butt and Jehu Chesson had 66 and 69 receiving yards, respectively, and along with Darboh have established Michigan's receiving corps as a very good one. Henry, Hurst, and Taco Charlton helped out immensely, minus the Henry cut. Jourdan Lewis remains Jourdan Lewis; his KO return also helped seal the game.
Jourdan Lewis rips off a 60-yard kickoff return after Penn State draws within five, setting up a short field that Michigan drives for a game-sealing TD. Better is that he called his shot with Harbaugh beforehand.
Honorable mention: Darboh's tip-toe catch. #Buttdown. Harbaugh strippin' rage. Any number of sacks and TFLs.
Ohio State tests Michigan State's secondary twice. In a game of football. Against Michigan State. What are you even doing?
Honorable mention: Punt blocked. Any number of offsides or false start penalties. The touchdown Peppers allowed. Any number of infuriatingly bad calls. That fourth and ten conversion against great Lewis coverage.
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. PSU: OSU's WHAT ARE THOOOOOOSE gameplan against MSU.
[After THE JUMP: defense back, Rudock maintaining.]
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?
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do much that was out of the ordinary for them. Indiana was very aggressive.
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.
11/14/2015 – Michigan 48, Indiana 41 (2OT) – 8-2, 5-1 Big Ten
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.
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.
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.
Michigan-centric from Parking God:
This one has some things Indiana did if you can stand the buttrock soundtrack:
hoofin' it [Fuller]
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.
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.
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]
Indiana did as Indiana does, combining terrible defense with terrifying offense to push the Wolverines to the brink. Jordan Howard ran over, around, and through a shorthanded Michigan defense, gaining 238 yards on 35 carries. With the game in the balance and the ball at the two, however, Kevin Wilson called for a quick pass to Mitchell Paige; Delano Hill swatted the ball away to seal the win.
With Ryan Glasgow's absence disturbingly noticable, the offense and defense switched roles. Michigan couldn't rely on their front seven to slow Howard, while Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld played an efficient, turnover-free game; that was enough to produce 527 yards on 5.7 yards per play.
For the first time this season, however, Michigan could rely on their deep passing game. Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson were brilliant. Rudock set a school record with six passing touchdowns—the previous record was four—and surpassed the career high he set last week with 440 yards on 46 attempts. He also led the way on the ground with 64 yards on seven carries, picking up timely first downs by breaking free of the pocket. Chesson tied the program record by hauling in four of Rudock's touchdowns, including a leaping grab in traffic to knot the score with two seconds left in regulation, and he set personal bests with ten catches for 207 yards.
It appared Michigan might coast to a comfortable, if not particularly convincing, victory as the Hoosiers traded field goals for Wolverine touchdowns in the first half. Rudock hit Chesson over the top for a 34-yard score on a free play to open the scoring; Michigan would hold leads of 14-6 and 21-9 after Chesson's subsequent first-half TDs before Howard finally broke through for a seven-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half. Even then, Michigan responded, marching 71 yards to the Indiana four before settling for a Kenny Allen field goal as time expired.
Perhaps there was some comfort in a 24-16 lead, but any such feelings were gone almost as soon as the second half began; after knocking Michigan back 15 yards, Indiana closed to within a point on a 51-yard punt return touchdown by Paige, who strung his return out to the right before knifing through a tackle and finding the sideline. After Scott Sypniewski's snap hit the turf, causing a Kenny Allen field goal attempt to fall well short, IU closed the quarter with a Griffin Oakes field goal and an interception of Rudock on one of his few wayward throws.
The tables fully turned in the fourth quarter, when Michigan could muster only a field goal after a 15-play drive and the Hoosiers hit back with a 24-yard Howard TD and subsequent two-point conversion. With 2:52 left, Michigan had to drive 66 yards to avoid an upset that would all but eliminate them from division title contention.
Rudock didn't shy away from the moment, moving the offense down the field in a hurry with two completions to Jake Butt and a 41-yard bomb that Chesson came back for and caught at the two. After some harrowing moments as the Wolverines moved backwards, Chesson high-pointed Rudock's toss to bring Michigan within a point, and Blake O'Neill handled another sketchy snap just well enough for Allen to slip the tying extra point inside the left upright.
Howard continued his dominance in the first overtime, gaining 18 of Indiana's 25 yards and punching in the go-ahead touchdown. It took Michigan all of three plays to not only tie the game, but take the lead; first Rudock hit Butt on a post on the second play of M's first overtime possession, then found Amara Darboh uncovered on the first snap of the second overtime for an easy touchdown.
Three Howard runs quickly set IU up with a third-and-goal from the five, and it seemed certain they would bash ahead once or twice more and extend the game. Instead, Hill stopped Sudfeld short on a zone read keeper, and after Indiana showed pass prior to the next snap, Harbaugh called timeout to set up the final play. Paige motioned across the formation and Sudfeld hit him in rhythm, but Hill's blanket coverage won out.
Michigan survived the chaos and remains alive in the Big Ten race; they can control their own destiny if they beat Penn State and Ohio State takes cares of Michigan State next weekend. After an up-and-down first half of the year, the offense is hitting its stride, albeit with help from the generous Rutgers and Indiana defenses they've faced the last two weeks.
Glasgow's injury looms large, however. Jim Harbaugh announced after the game that the pectoral injury suffered last week will keep Michigan's D-line linchpin out for the season. Michigan faces a pair of top-notch running backs the next to close the regular season in Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, to say nothing of the other weapons on Ohio State's offense. The line, the unquestioned strength of the team until this week, now has to stiffen up if the Wolverines want a shot at that ever-elusive Big Ten title.
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.
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.]
Is having a little bit more of a window to playing for the Big Ten championship something you even address with your team?
“I’m sure they’re aware of that, and…if not we’ll make them aware of it, but I’m sure they are.”
Just looking at some defensive stats: nine offensive touchdowns given up this year, twelve total. Can you talk about the evolution of this defense and the way it’s bounced back after those last two games?
“Yeah, doing some things that are great. But in terms of like answering the question of the evolution or how we got here or where we’re at and being in that position, we feel like we’re still asking questions. How can we get better? What can we improve? What else can we do to help our team improve? So, not so much the answering questions, more asking them about how to get better.”
Is there any one area specifically you feel like you guys want to improve more?
“No, not that list for you either. In all phases, in all areas. We’re constantly asking ourselves those questions.”
You weren’t happy about the intent to deceive call. Did you get anything that clarifies it more for you and how it’s going to be called in this league going forward?
“Yes. They said it wasn’t intent to deceive, it was intent to confuse. That was the own language that the official used. It’s…I take the rules very seriously, and understanding the rules, understanding the consistency, the clarity of rules, and not just the rules but the spirit of the rules and doing everything that we can to follow the rules, so yeah, I said I was offended after the game to have an unsportsmanlike conduct called on us and the language that they used…that’s offensive because we take it very seriously to know what to teach our players and tell our team.
“No, there’s still no rule in the rulebook that you can go back to and say that we broke. In fact, we asked for interpretation weeks ago and followed it to the best of our ability and…it needs specifics. What was it about it that made it an illegal play versus what would make it a legal play? I mean, everything else in the rulebook is specific, but this one seems to fall in a category that was left to judgment whether the other team’s trying to confuse the opponent, and that’s an awesome responsibility for anybody.
“And why have it? Why not specifically write it? How far can you be from the boundary, your widest eligible receiver during a substitution, after a substitution occurs? Is it in the bench area; has to be closer in the field to the numbers; outside of the bench area it can be closer to the sideline? But really there needs to be some specifics because that’s…that interpretation- we’ve put a lot of work into making sure we follow the rules and not just the letter but the spirit of them.
“Then you start thinking, playing the scenarios. I mean, what else could be deemed trying to confuse the defense? What would be next? Skipping the ball off the turf, if it were a backward pass where you skip it off the turf? Defense thinks that’s an incomplete pass, everybody stops, they pick it up, throw it, etc. I mean, those…need to have specifics on it. So that’s my feeling, yeah. Still remain offended by it.
“And I need some clarity and consistency on another thing I’m offended by: We’ve got a defenseless player covering a punt and he gets hit in the back, in our opinion, in the back of the head, which gets called a targeting foul. They go up to the booth and they say it’s not targeting, but no foul is incurred. It’s a…player, lines up a player- looks like he made a decision to hit him, hit him high, hit him in the back. At least should be a block in the back. Should be unsportsmanlike for making that play, so I’m offended for our defenseless player, so you can put that on the list of things. Top five.”
[After THE JUMP: “I love football, I love the University of Michigan, and I love coaching, and you can do all three of those. As my dad would say, ‘Who’s got it better than us?’ Nooobody.]