We often hear about service academy offenses. How difficult is it of a challenge to prepare for them?
“Defending option football and conventional football at the same time. That’s what we’ve been studying. Air Force has been very successful. Seven, eight, nine game winning streak. They go back and forth between conventional and option football.”
Your defense is scoring a lot, more than they’re giving up. Is that something that has been emphasized? Is that just guys making plays? How do you account for that?
“It’s a good thing. Very good players and a good scheme and they work very hard at being good on defense.”
Talk about your impressions about Lavert Hill. I know you’ve been happy with him.
“Yeah, been happy with Lavert. He’s asserted himself and played very well. Made the big play for us in the ball game this past week.
“Tyree Kinnel would be another person that I’d spotlight; defensive player of the game; sacks, two I believe; tackles for loss; interception for touchdown; seven tackles total, I believe. Well done. Brandon Watson also had a couple PBUs and played very well. Josh Metellus did good. Up front, I thought Rashan had one of his best games. Devin Bush again, another very good game for him; sack, tackle for loss, PBU. Outstanding game by him. Chase Winovich. Noah Furbush was better. Mo Hurst probably played the best of all of our upfront defensive players.
“So, there was a lot of good. Dodged a couple bullets. As was pointed out, scored two touchdowns on defense, so we’re doing well. We’re good. Attribute that to hard work and good scheme and good players.”
How has Lavert—how have you seen him digest all the information that a young starter has to digest?
“Yeah, doing well. Seeing him digest information very well. Comes from good stock. You’d love to be Lavert Hill Sr., to have Delano Hill playing professional football and now here you see Lavert in there starting at corner, making plays, helping his team win. Lavert Hill Sr.’s probably boring the heck out of the neighbors with how well his sons are doing.”
[Learn how to avoid emotionally hijacking Jim Harbaugh after THE JUMP]
Handing Florida two pick-sixes was only sportsmanlike, really. Without them, this is a 41-3 game or so, a complete wash, an elimination. Michigan’s chief concerns coming into the year were finding playmakers down the field. Tarik Black and Nick Eubanks did that serviceably enough, particularly so when you consider that Wilton Speight didn’t really have a great game and that the run game took a minute to lock in a stranglehold.
In sum, this Michigan team has great bones, is a handful along the defensive line, has two running backs capable of following an mean offensive line down the field, and has a quarterback who needs help from all that. But really, who doesn’t need a team? And who, among Michgan fans, will ever question the team? The team, the team, the team?
Alabama is a boring #1, as they always are.
Further Florida aftermath. I forgot to check Matt Hinton's weekly column on the SEC since usually it doesn't include extended treatises on a Big Ten team. This time it does:
It was, as McElwain said, a “plain and simple, take your whooping” kind of defeat. But the response from Florida fans was obvious too: Just how long do they have to keep taking it? Is Florida content to be a “take your whooping” kind of outfit? The Gators are nearly a decade removed from national relevance, or even from fielding a remotely competent quarterback for more than a week or two at a time. They’re no closer to filling that role after flip-flopping between Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire on Saturday, to little effect, or to identifying a reliable playmaker among the skill players. The top two candidates, tailback Jordan Scarlett and receiver Antonio Callaway, were both among the late-breaking wave of suspensions before the game, but anyone who thinks either would have made a notable difference against the Wolverines hasn’t been paying close enough attention over the past two years.
Hinton also includes a long discussion of what the hell was going on with the illegal formation penalty—"dunno," more or less—and surveys the wreckage of the Florida offensive line:
That play — exactly the type of overwhelming debacle that used to unleash “S-E-C! S-E-C!” chants on beaten and broken-down Big Ten teams — was irrelevant to the outcome. But it was thoroughly emblematic of the line’s gradual deterioration over the course of the game. The play that preceded it was also a sack resulting in a fumble; in retrospect the Gators would have been better off if Michigan had recovered the first one just short of the goal line, or frankly if they’d just conceded at that point to taking an intentional safety. At least taking a knee in the end zone would have saved Zaire from a blindside hit everyone else in the building saw coming a mile away.
Every year you take up the banner of whatever P5 team you played in the nonconference. Last year Colorado worked out spectacularly well. This year... it's going to be weird and frustrating to be a proxy Florida fan this year. I fear I will understand the mindset all too well.
Also in aftermath, audio versions. Do you like goofily uninformed folks yellin'? Here you go:
How about the reasonably informed?
This was a bit of a comedown for a fanbase that was a wee bit optimistic headed into a game they were solid underdogs in.
They're not wrong though. Michigan's defensive performance was highly encouraging but it would be wise to pump the breaks at least a little. Florida's wasted more talent than anyone else in the country on that side of the ball:
Since Tebow left, Florida has failed to reach 250 yds of offense TWENTY TWO times, 2nd most in P5. Compare UF talent to similarly bad Os… pic.twitter.com/WhU9FKy6BS
It's pushed over the top by Orgeron standing in the background of the shot. Congratulations to Allison Williams for surviving this stunt; going in there was a 50/50 chance Orgeron would overhear and turn her into gumbo.
"Not throwing the ball high over the middle. Those balls get tipped and have a tendancy to go up in the air. During camp we played a lot against man-to-man defenses (vs. Don Brown), with a lot of pressure," Harbaugh said. "I take this onto myself coaching. There are times you throw high and you get away with it because it's zero coverage and there's no deep safeties back there. ... But when you're playing against (zone) safeties, you have to keep the ball below the shoulders.
"Shoulders down, so the arms of the receivers don't go up and tip the ball. We've made more of an emphasis on that."
Speight could have thrown it better; Crawford still had it hit him in the hands, and it looked like he wasn't even fully extended when the ball hit.
I don't really get the other bit of Harbaugh press conference Speight critique:
"Quarterbacks, they want to show that they're the one and they're the guy. And sometimes that leads to always trying to make a big play or always trying to make a play that proves that," he said. "We talked about that (with Speight). You have to let that come to you. Operate within the system, with the reads, be a disciple with mechanics and those big plays will come to you.
Speight's deep shots in this game:
completions to Tarik Black and Nick Eubanks
PI drawn by Crawford on accurate post
Fade route down sideline to Crawford is OOB
pick six on high-ish ball at open receiver
incompletion when Speight makes a killer check only to miss a wide open TD
I think that's it. The only one of those that was even a little forced was the PI. Speight's decisions against Florida were excellent. His execution was occasionally lacking. I imagine that's a response to a leading I-already-wrote-my-article question and not something Harbaugh's pulling out of thin air.
Harbaugh said he’s looking for “a season of increases.” That applies, he said, to everyone on the roster -- the coaching staff, the starting quarterback, players on both sides of the ball and even the rookie kicker who carved a zig-zag pattern into the back of his hair last week as an ode to the closer mentality of Rick Vaughn.
Yes, that would be Charlie Sheen’s heartthrob, fire-throwing, near-sighted ex-con character from "Major League" -- yet another reference that predates the referencer’s existence on this planet. Nordin said he had to show YouTube clips to a couple of his teammates for them to understand what he was going for. When asked Saturday if the similarities between him and Vaughn stretch beyond their hairstyles, Nordin smiled. “Yeah, I think so,” he said. Then he turned and walked back into the locker room.
Even the damn kicker on this team has some attitude.
What’s your view of the last spot there before the touchdown?
“That it wasn’t a first down by that much.” [holds hands apart about eight inches]
So you agreed with the call, then?
“That it was not a first down. The officiating, I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating today. That spot—the graphic display is the interference penalties. The one not called on us when Grant Perry clearly was being hooked before the ball got there, and the previous penalty called on Delano Hill, the ball’s uncatchable and by the receiver. So yeah, I’m bitterly disappointed in the officiating. Can’t make that any more clear.”
[Ed. A- The second Harbaugh used “bitterly” I knew that I’d heard that word spoken with the exact same inflection before. I realized about the time we were leaving the stadium that Harbaugh said it the way Bo did in the archival footage used in Tiebreaker. Watch through 33:38 if you can stomach it.]
[After THE JUMP: the most bizarre explanation for a personal foul I have ever heard]
Dymonte Thomas the last couple games has made some big plays for you. Talk about what he’s given you on the field?
“He’s always given solid play, and lately big hits, momentum-changing plays. He’s a very good player. Always has been consistently good.”
You’re going to a place where they really don’t know what to make of you down there. Some people say you’re crazy like a fox, some people say you’re just crazy, but they all say you’re progressive. Could you describe who you are to Ohioans?
“Not crazy. Wouldn’t describe myself as that.” Anything beyond that?
“No. I mean, I don’t know that my personality really, how relevant that will be to the ballgame this week. Probably irrelevant.”
Is there anything unique about competing against Urban Meyer, whether it’s on the field or recruiting or anywhere else you come up against each other?
“Unique in that it’s at the highest level.”
“In terms of competition on the field or recruiting, everything’s at the highest level. Competition’s at the highest level.”
Can you update us on Wilton Speight’s condition, and do you expect him to play?
“No, I do not have an update today. Hasn’t been evaluated today.”
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh waxes poetic about Peppers, lists all the cities he lived in as a kid, and explains why love for his children and football can’t be accurately expressed with a pie chart]
Can you talk about the kind of depth you were building on Saturday with all the guys that got in the game?
“Well, first, to start with, many players played and played well. Tremendous for morale. Guys that worked extremely hard all along just got to contribute, so it was good for our team.”
Along those same lines, in the past few years before you arrived the ‘wait until they get experience’ thing was kind of a common theme. Seventeen guys play Saturday. What has been the difference when you look at the ability to play young guys when you look at a few years ago and those young guys weren’t really getting a lot of reps?
“I can’t comment specifically about a couple years ago. Probably as you know, we talked about it. It’s a meritocracy in who plays. By your effort, by your talent you will be known. Positions on the depth chart when you go in the game, what the roles are, are based on that.”
The team struggled a little bit, maybe the first series and half, to run the football. What changed for you guys? It just seemed like all of sudden once Wilton completed that one third-down pass things just started clicking for the offensive line and clicking for the blockers on the outside. What was the difference?
“Uh…the third down, the fourth play of the game?”
Yeah, he connected on the pass but it seemed like as soon as that happened everything started working for the running game, too.
“Yeah, that was the fourth play of the game.”
Do you have any updates on Bryan Mone and Taco Charlton and if they’re going to be available this week?
“I don’t think either one will be available this week.”
If they’re not available, how does the defensive line need to regroup depth-wise and get ready for this game?
“I think Mo Hurst will return to action. Ryan Glasgow played very well in the football game. So did Chris Wormley. There’s talented players at that position. I don’t think that Bryan Mone and Taco will be out…it’s hard to say at this point. I don’t have an update on how long they’ll be out, but I don’t anticipate them playing this weekend.”
With that, you guys had Onwenu play a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense. With a couple guys out, do you think he’ll get more on defense at this point?
[After THE JUMP: even more injury updates, and Jim Harbaugh verbally assassinates a character assassin]
You mentioned at media day that year two makes things so much easier—or more familiar, I should say. How’s it feeling?
“No, not easier. But feeling good right now. Coming off of a very good practice today, so feel good about the way our guys are working. Feel really good about the way we practiced today. There was quite a bit of good scrimmaging. Feel like our team is building a callus now that bodes very well for us. I mean, it was not. It was a little more [purulent] than about a week ago, but now it’s starting to harden. Feel good about that.”
Your quarterbacks now compared to a year ago: do you feel like they’re about where they were or in the system for a year, does that help them?
“Definitely has helped them. Right now we’re—I hate to compare—but we’re better. We’re better at that position than we were eight, nine days into camp last year.”
Have you narrowed it down? Is it down to two guys? Have a rank order?
“Yeah, not just two. I mean, Shane Morris is doing good, having a good camp. Wilton Speight’s having an outstanding camp. John O’Korn’s having a very good camp. The quarterback play’s been really good in camp, right from the first day. Been very pleased with that. They’ve…they’re completing balls, they’re running the team, they know what they’re doing. They’re competing at a good, high level. It’s been good. Yeah.
“I’m trying to think through different camps. I’ve said it to myself: this group of quarterbacks is playing really well. Better than most camps that I’ve seen from the start. Sometimes they struggle with their accuracy and struggle with different things, communicating, fumbled snaps on the ground. We haven’t been seeing that. We’ve been seeing solid play that’s improving, too. It started good and it’s getting better every day. Hope we’ll be better tomorrow than we were today, but we had a good day today.”
Are there any other positions where you’re seeing as fierce a competitive battle as you are at quarterback?
“Uh, there’s…there’s some good play. Some good—young guys are playing very well. Devin Asiasi had a heck of a day today. Michael Onwenu is somebody I’m—you know, he’s one of my favorites. Doing a heck of a good job. Ben Bredeson is doing an outstanding job. Rashan Gary is a really good football player. The young linebackers are playing really well. The young receivers are doing a heck of a good job. Chris Evans is maybe one of the most outstanding of them all. Khaleke Hudson’s doing an outstanding job. Dylan Crawford’s doing a good job. So, yeah, it’s been good. Quinn Nordin’s doing an outstanding job. Those guys, some really good players in that class have heated some of the competitive waters at multiple positions. It’s a good thing.”
How many freshmen do you expect to play this year?
“Right now it’s competitive and I don’t see any of our older guys just giving their jobs away. Don’t see that happening. Not through the nine practices. Not saying that for one minute, so it’s still to be determined. There’s some competitive, heated-up waters. More than you see on really probably any team I’ve ever been on where a group of new guys…they’re showing that they’re on track to be either starters or backup players. It’s still to be determined.
“They’ve got to do it over the course of the next couple weeks, but it’ll be exciting to watch. Some of them will, some of them won’t. The best players are going to play, regardless of class year that they’re in. As I’ve said, we’ve got a lot of veteran players who like their starting jobs. It’ll be a battle.”
Last year you waited until the first snap at Utah to reveal the starting lineup. Do you imagine that’ll be the same this season, too, with the quarterbacks and rest of the roster?
“I haven’t decided yet.”
[After THE JUMP: I guess you could say this press conference was…[/puts on sunglasses] suspended.]
[Ed-Seth: If you like Harbaugh stories and want to support #ChadTough, read on.
Take This Job & Love It! is a collection of Jim Harbaugh yarns from his friends, family, coaches, teammates, and former players. A small sample of contributors: Shemy Schembechler, Jon Falk, Todd Anson, Jamie Morris, Jerry Hanlon, Bump Elliott, Mike Ditka, and Tappan Junior High coach/Phys Ed teacher Rob Lillie. The book is only available in Michigan stores or online.
The author Rich Wolfe is an old friend of Jack Harbaugh, and he’s written 50 other quasi-biographies like this, where he goes around to his subject’s friends and prints their stories. One is on Tom Brady, before that first Super Bowl.
I was recruited to play football at Michigan. When I went there, Jim was my roommate. Jim and I were paired up as freshmen. We didn’t know each other. Then we lived together as fifth-year seniors. I got to see Jim before he was a big star and after he was big time. I had a long trip over from Wisconsin. I got unpacked, and I was sleeping on my bed in the dorm when Jim showed up with Jim Minick. He grew up with Minick in Ann Arbor. Minick spent 26 years in the Marines and is now Jim’s right-hand man on his Michigan staff.
I woke up and introduced myself to these guys. What was the first thing Jim did? This was back in the day. This was ’82. We had LPs. I was into music, and I had about 20 LPs and my turntable. Those were going to go out the window in three or four years, but I had a nice collection of vinyl there.
After Jim shook my hand, he went straight to my vinyl collection, and he critiqued it. I’m not kidding you. I had good stuff. I had the Doors, I had Jimi Hendrix. I had plenty of Beatles. I’m a big Beatles fan. Jethro Tull. I had Hot Rocks from the Stones. I loved that album. I had Black Sabbath. I had some great independent records. I had some Priest.
Jim is going through my records, and he’s saying, “Yep, no, yep, no. Doors, no. Beatles, nope. Jethro Tull, no.” When he’s done critiquing my collection, he goes, “You don’t have any Who.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of this and some other stories, or hit THE LINK to get them all]
Can you just share what your message to the team was after this tough loss?
“That was for the team, not for public consumption.”
Obviously they’re a big read-option team. What were they doing, and why did you think your defense struggled so much to stop the run today?
“Yeah, they’re very good and they got after us running the football and I think the number one thing was we weren’t tackling well enough.”
Any thoughts on Jake Rudock having to end the regular season on the sidelines?
“Uh, it’s what happened. Went down on his shoulder. I don’t know how serious it is. AC to the left shoulder.”
Could you just talk about some of the improvements throughout the season from when you took over in fall camp to this point now? Obviously this isn’t the result you were looking for, but 9-3 on your first year.
“Well, yeah. We’ve talked about it many times. Very proud of the team: the way they’ve worked, the way they’ve progressed, and we’ll just stay at that. Closed quite a bit of ground. Still more ground to close on, but knowing our team they’ll stay with it.”
You talked about putting steel in your spine from previous losses. Is that what this is more of, especially against a rival like Ohio State?
“Well, we got beat. Didn’t play well enough in the game to win it, but we’re gonna regroup, come back with the same drive and aspirations that we’ve had: win the next game.”
You said earlier in the week that you thought Jabrill was a really good running back, and obviously we saw more of him. Were we going to see more of him used in the second half if the game had been a little bit tighter?
“Uh, yeah, he was in the second half.”
[Hit THE JUMP to see my question go over as successfully as the rest]
11/7/2015 – Michigan 49, Rutgers 16 – 7-2, 4-1 Big Ten
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.
"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 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.
this is both #1 and #2 [Fuller]
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.
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.
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.
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]
It didn't take long for Jim Harbaugh to shift from cheerfully and convincingly explaining why Jake Rudock's play was better than it looked against Utah to… not doing that. After UNLV, a couple of post-game questions clearly designed to fill already-written stories about Rudock's grim day with quotes raised Harbaugh's ire. He deflected a couple with boilerplate ("his job is to win football games") and assertions about a swirling wind, but when a third came:
Um, I guess I’m not as concerned with statistics as you two seem to be.
I hesitate to side with the Talk About types, but I'm concerned. I'm concerned with both the statistics (123 yards against UNLV, probably half of which came on "smoke" screens) and the overall level of play the statistics crystallize.
We're working with small sample sizes, of course, but that's all we've got to project with. The projections are not ideal.
I am not buying the wind conditions being a problem. I was in that stadium. I have been in it for many games. I once had a life and death fight with a poorly designed poncho. I have seen and endured all kinds of weather, and at no point on Saturday did the wind rise to a level where it felt like a serious factor. It blew a bit; I have seen many quarterbacks deal with that and much worse.
Those quarterbacks include one Jake Rudock. Kinnick Stadium juts out of a vast unbroken expanse of plains extending to the Rocky Mountains. In February I had occasion to drive through virtually the entire state of Iowa during a blizzard; I went at highway speeds because the snow was blown over the roads in an ever-streaming mass, never settling. Only the odd copse of trees huddled around a farmhouse provided enough of a windbreak to allow snow a temporary home, and even that was more refugee shelter than citizenship.
The biggest single factor in Central Illinois' quality of outdoor life is wind. There are more local jokes than I can summon about bent weather vanes and leaning barns, more downstate sobriquets for kinds of wind than there are in Malamut for snow. The wind had a personality, a (poor) temper, and, apparently, agendas. The wind blew autumn leaves into intercalated lines and arcs of force so regular you could photograph them for a textbook on Cramer's Rule and the cross-products of curves in 3-space. It molded winter snow into blinding truncheons that buried stalled cars and required citizens to shovel out not only driveways but the sides of homes; a Central Illinois "blizzard" starts only when the snowfall stops and the wind begins. Most people in Philo didn't comb their hair because why bother.
Of all the things that might explain why Jake Rudock could not hit Drake Johnson on a five-yard swing pass, wind is the least believable.
So. Let us calibrate our panic. It is the first year of a new head coach handed a terrible QB situation making do; that head coach has been massively successful anywhere he's laid his head. Macro panic: nil.
Micro panic: measurable. The Big Ten looks like a bunch of goobers plus MSU and OSU and I guess maybe Northwestern is good. A team that has Michigan's salty defense and a steady, boring offense is going to win a healthy number of games. Michigan's offense has been boring; it has only managed to be steady against Oregon State.
The offense Michigan fielded on Saturday loses games Michigan fans are currently filing in the win column. While that's cause for a shrug long term thanks to the state of the QB roster, it does dent Harbaugh's early momentum. Does that matter much? The recent trajectories of high-level coaches and… well… Brady Hoke say not particularly.
But it is nice to win things. I'm busy downgrading my expectations about as fast as I'm downgrading my expectations for the rest of Michigan's schedule, which is fine, I guess. I expect a bumpy ride and then as soon as anything goes smoothly I exclaim THIS IS IT FOREVER, because I am irrational.
We've gone from hoping that we should dump Rudock's career at Iowa from our expectations to hoping it's still valid to add those games in; it probably is. The upside of escaping Greg Davis, where Iowa fans are going nuts about a guy whose completions are five yards downfield or shorter 80% of the time feels gone. We would like to lock in the low-turnover game manager if that is still available.
wear Jourdan Lewis #brand jackets [Patrick Barron]
Yet To Be Named Harbaugh-Themed Guys Who Did Good Award.
you're the man now, dog
#1 Jourdan Lewis had 4(!) PBUs on the day, and those were mostly as he covered the very legit Devonte Boyd. Playing as well as any Michigan DB since… Leon Hall?
#2 Ty Isaac ripped off the 76-yard touchdown that made things comfortable at halftime. On that play he made a swift cut upfield, broke a tackle, and put on the jets. He looked solid on his other seven runs as well.
#3 Channing Stribling picked off a pass, defended another, and was able to stick to the receiver any time he was tested.
Honorable mention: Blake O'Neill probably would have snagged the first-ever punter mention in this section if he hadn't shanked that one. Any member of the front seven—Michigan spread 8 TFLs among 9 players. Jehu Chesson did go grab a rushing touchdown.
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State) 3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV) 2: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State), Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV) 1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
Honorable mention: Picks from Clark and Stribling. Glasgow's thunderous TFL. Blake O'Neill essentially passing the ball down to the 3, and hitting a 59-yarder without a return.
The general sentiment was to keep double bird. That was my inclination as well.
This week's worst thing ever.
Jake Rudock matches his 2014 interception total in game three by throwing one that hits a linebacker in both hands. The linebacker deflected it to a defensive back, but that was not bad luck.
Honorable mention: Rudock misses a flare route by yards. Any number of interior rushes that didn't get much. Those two Decker passes towards the end that seriously compromised Michigan's quest to keep UNLV under 200 yards.
Utah: circle route pick six. Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust. UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
I am sensing an unfortunate theme.
[After THE JUMP: corners making plays, DL emerging, run game woes explained, YIP YIP YIP YIP]