Cesar [Ruiz] had a couple lapses in pass pro but can you talk about how he run blocked and how he acquitted himself after you saw him on film?
“Yeah, really just the one in pass pro where he didn’t track the 3-technique. Thought the 3-technique was looping wide and got his eyes back inside. Yeah, the rest of the game he acquitted himself very well. Everybody on the offensive line, it was a memorable game for offensive linemen in this game.
“The other thing I was really impressed with with the offensive line and our whole offense was the amount of hustle. There was an early run with Karan [Higdon] and Cesar got up off the ground and was sprinting in pursuit. Mason Cole was sprinting in pursuit. It was a memorable game in terms of the effort and the hustle and the pursuit by the offense.
“The receivers, the way they blocked, Donovan had one of those decleaters in the game. Eddie McDoom had his most physical game in terms of blocking. Nate Schoenle was very effective as well. There was no loafs in the receiver group, you could say. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to catch passes, but their gray undershirts were still sweaty. They were really working hard to get the team to victory and it showed up in a lot of areas.
“It showed up defensively. The hustle, it showed up on special teams and yeah, really good play that way. Cesar was right in there. Just looked athletic, you know, getting up and chasing our backs down the field and trying to get in on the action and get the block, so very impressive.”
After you got a chance to watch the film and go back and re-evaluate, how do you think Brandon [Peters] handled his first start and everything involved. Obviously wasn’t asked to throw a lot but with everything involved, how do you think he handled that?
“Very well. He was very effective in the first drive and yeah, there was two throws he should have hit that came up short and that was my feeling after the game that we’ve got to keep him more loose during the game. Had a screen pass that could have gone really big. It was the one time we had three offensive linemen that not one of them picked up a block. I think it was a screen to Chris Evans that should have really gone, should have really busted out.
“But yeah, good. Could have hit a couple more, but nothing close to an interception. Nothing close to turning the ball over even though he took some big shots it the pocket. Thought he held onto the ball well and did the things to keep us from losing the ball game. Did the things to help us win the ball game. Know he can execute all throws, so feel good going forward.”
[After THE JUMP: Peters’ progress, Speight update, Ben Mason’s nickname, and the time to bounce]
Can you assess Brandon Peters’ game and did he do enough to earn another start?
“He really acquitted himself well. Moved the football team. Played very, very well. Yeah, he did a lot and from the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone and feeling the linebackers drop and taking that extra half second to take a breath and hit the checkdown just was good ball. He was good.”
Brandon himself said his biggest advancement since fall camp was communication. How much has he addressed the things you talked about before the season?
“He’s made big strides. Really good in that area. It’s been—and was good out there today.”
What did you see on the touchdown pass to Chris Evans and—
“I thought Chris made a heck of a catch on it. Thought Brandon saw it well. Good protection, and Brandon put it… you know, a little short, but Chris adjusted well to the ball and made a nice catch.”
And then the next time out he had a two-minute drill. What impressed you most about Brandon’s game today?
“Today? Well, the things I talked about earlier. I mean, just that he was playing the position. He was playing good ball. Two-minute drill, I think that’s definitely… that’s a real bright spot to go in there—what was it, his second drive, I think, and get organized and get our team organized in the two-minute drill on the field. That’s something a quarterback doesn’t usually have happen to him on his second drive of playing football but I think it went really well for him, and that was great to see.”
[After THE JUMP: questions about special teahaha just kidding it’s more stuff about Peters]
THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: If you haven’t yet talked to Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management, this might be a good week to catch him, since Nick reports he has barred himself in his office and plans to do nothing but work until all the Spartans in his life think he’s run off to live a simpler life in the woods or something.
Our deal is Nick is the guy I go to for financial strategies, and he gets to ask us Michigan questions on your behalf. Anytime it’s a Nick question, we’ll let you know. Anytime you’ve got a financial question, let Nick know.
Michigan ran a few zone read-like things with O’Korn but for whatever reason these just got a back swarmed for no gain. [Bryan Fuller]
Nick’s Question: …
MGoBlog: Do you have a question this week?
MGoBlog: That question is self-answering. New question.
Nick: How does this offense get better?
MGoBlog: Yelling at it?
Nick: I mean that’s my question. You have to answer it.
MGoBlog: Yell at it LOUDER.
How does this offense get better?
Seth: Let's start with the simplest: build some quarterback running plays into the offense because O'Korn is a better run threat than a Tom Brady-esque check-to-your-5th-read distribution center. Also the pocket won't last that long. If the ends are constantly having to worry about holding the edge or getting optioned that takes some pressure off the tackles. And I think they are starting to build an interior running game that's functional as long as the counters are.
I thought I saw O'Korn mess up a couple of zone reads in this game and then Michigan dropped it but the Denard power offense might be a good fit for these guys if they could find a running back willing to lead block.
[Hit THE JUMP for other ideas that don’t involve testing the stickiness of substances]
DOES THIS THING HAVE A DIFFICULTY LEVEL HARDER THAN "INSANE"
The Law of Harbaugh: it doesn't matter who your QB is
Jim Harbaugh is a kid sitting in a basement frustrated because Dark Souls is too easy. Sure, he crafted the first draft pick of any variety in San Diego history. He beat USC with a pottery major. He got Alex Smith a 70-million dollar contract. He nearly won a Super Bowl with a guy the league is currently passing over in favor of Stoney Case. (For bad reasons, admittedly.) And he turned an Iowa castoff into an NFL draft pick and in-demand trade bait:
All about the QB & 1 generating interest from GMs: #Lions QB Jake Rudock. Went 10 of 13 for 113 vs #Patriots. Teams tried to poach him in 16
Quarterbacks? Quarterbacks are easy. He has all the Quarterbacka Universalis IV achievements. Except one: take a quarterback recruited by Al Borges and have him finish his career as the starter. It's never happened. Never! Never ever ever. And no wonder. This Speight quote from last year only gets more boggling 12 months later:
"In their eyes, myself, David Cornwell, and this kid from IMG Academy Michael O'Connor are the best quarterbacks in the nation in this class."
Cornwell and O'Connor were both nowhere near the two deep before they transferred, Cornwell to Nevada and O'Connor to UBC. As in British Columbia.
The Borges achievement wasn't going to happen this time either, because John O'Korn was going to swoop in and gun-sling his way into our hearts. Then it did happen. Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore who played a chunk of the season with something deeply wrong with his collarbone, was the second-most efficient QB in the Big Ten, averaged nearly eight yards an attempt, and had a 18-7 TD-INT ratio. He's already the best Borges-recruited QB ever, easily outstripping Cam Coffman's 6.7 YPA (and subsequent move to TE) in 2012.
At this point I'm willing to see what the Harbaugh version of Denard Robinson looks like under center. Just in case.
[After THE JUMP: references marginally less dorky than EUIV!]
What will it take to keep the guys focused and playing at a high level the rest of the year every week?
“I think it takes a lot of commitment. Hard work. Good goals. Uh…commitment. Good football character. Good human character. I feel like we’ve got those kind of guys.”
You’ve been able to get the ball to four running backs, a couple of wide receivers, Jabrill, fullbacks. Short and long term, how much does that help you whether it’s recruiting, but also to win games because the other team doesn’t quite know who’s going to get the ball and everybody’s fresh?
“I think it helps in all the ways you just said. Helps in all those areas.”
I think Mone went out of the game in the first half? Did he come back in or is he hurt?
“Yeah, he fell down. Fell down on his leg and came off, but he came in yesterday saying he felt good.”
Do you have any expectations whether Grant Perry will play this week or is he still going through whatever he’s going through?
“Yeah, we’ll…to be determined.”
Thoughts on DJ Durkin coming in with Maryland and the job he’s done with them so far this year.
“He’s done a fabulous job. Just always respected DJ as a tremendous competitor at the highest level. Smile thinking about his competitiveness, and also always happy for a friend’s success. I think he’s doing a fabulous job, him and his entire staff and team. You can see the energy. You can see the strength. You can see the competitiveness and execution on the field, et cetera. The flip side of that is we know that this’ll be a big game, a championship game. This will be a real test for our club.”
[After THE JUMP: We’ve got to build some immune systems. More push-ups. More whole milk.]
Ed-Ace: Recruitnik extraordinaire, regular podcast guest, and noted darts enthusiast Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Aquaman, is back with his weekly recruiting mailbag. If you aren't subscribed to 247 and want to read more from Steve and the gang, they're running a buy one month, get two months free promotion.
OwenGoBlue asks: Where can Michigan capitalize with so many traditional powers having terrible seasons/job speculations?
There are a handful of schools that fit the bill here.
The biggest thing to consider is not only where a coaching change may take place, but who is truly available to replace those open spots. For instance, there's only one Tom Herman available right now, and it's hard to see any other names out there that would TRULY move the recruiting needle right off the bat. Guys like Larry Fedora may end up being great coaches elsewhere, but it's not a name I think recruits are going to immediately.
LSU is an obvious one here, and I think we've discussed them already, with five-star offensive lineman Austin Deculus and Top100 safety Grant Delpit as big-timers that could end up taking officials to Michigan.
Another one is USC. Clay Helton hasn't been fired, and who knows if he will, but the Trojans aren't an attractive option right now for kids who don't want to invest their future in a staff that may not make it through a four-year time period. They're a program that is always going to get some guys, but there is enough talent in the Pac-12 footprint to where Michigan can possibly snag a guy who is either committed there or was considered a heavy lean throughout. They may actually be the situation Michigan can capitalize on most with 2017 and 2018 prospects.
Notre Dame is another one that comes to mind. Michigan hosted one of their commitments over the weekend in 2018 four-star running back Markese Stepp. Like USC, their schedule is tough, and while Brian Kelly's job doesn't appear to be in jeopardy yet, it could be if they continue to struggle. They will still do well on the recruiting trail because of their academic prestige, but Michigan is one of the few schools that can offer something close along with a tangibly bright future under their current coaching staff.
One prospect I would point to right now regarding where wins/certainty may be paying off is Aledo (TX) four-star tackle Chuck Filiaga. I labeled him as Michigan's most intriguing visitor heading into last weekend because most of the schools he was really high on (Oklahoma, Oregon, USC) are struggling mightily to begin the season. While the coaching situations there haven't heated up to a Texas/LSU level yet, they could, and Michigan has stability, NFL production and wins to stand behind under Harbaugh right now.
This is one of the bigger reasons why some of what goes on in the off-season recruiting-wise is mostly noise-based. You're going to see schools like Washington, Louisville and Nebraska potentially capitalize on strong 2016 seasons under staffs that have only been in place for a couple seasons. That's because they're winning, and their coaching staffs can recruit without looking over their shoulder. Michigan is in the same situation, and could be able to capitalize more than anybody.
[Hit THE JUMP for Steve on how Harbaugh's offense draws in recruits, his guess at the WR class, and more.]
It's been a while since Michigan fans set to grumblin' about 37 point wins, but here we are. That one track guy ran a long way and quarterbacks set to scrambling and a bunch of guys jetted into the backfield. These are bad things that a remorseless juggernaut would not allow in its vicinity, and thus it's open season for crabbers.
This is not necessarily a criticism. Your author joined with the Ann Arbor Pincer & Exoskeleton masses at halftime:
Not super happy with the blitz pickups. Even if they're blitzing you gotta pick up the guys coming up the gut.
What can I say? I expected Michigan to pave these dudes and they did not. While UCF did stack the box and blitz its little try-hard buns off, I rather thought that wouldn't matter. I did not expect UCF to rush for an uncomfortably large number of yards themselves.
I don't place anywhere near as much emphasis on these things as Scott Frost—"we outrushed them, we outhit them, and in the futuristic game of run-hit-ball, those are the only factors"—but in the middle of a live football game you're winning by a zillion points the only thing that keeps your interest is taking the data in front of you and projecting it down the road, when Michigan will face teams that can rush for 300 yards and not lose by 37… or at all.
After a rewatch and a little bit of time to reflect, the things that happened were things Michigan can clean up. Blitzers coming free because Michigan didn't get off their blocks fast enough. Defensive ends too gung-ho about getting around the edge because their careers are still in the tadpole stage. A bust here and there probably related to the new defense.
There wasn't anything that set off alarm bells except one bad fill by Dymonte Thomas against a 10.3 100 meter guy who was such a niche player that his 87-yard touchdown was his only carry of the game. (You know you're a specialist when you run 87 yards on your first opportunity and your coaches are like "great job, eat bench.") Per folks who look at these things closely, Michigan did mostly pave them, and declined to do things that would exploit UCF's blitz-happy approach on the ground.
What they did instead is let Wilton Speight go to work. Whatever ground game hiccups have increased the worry factor should be more than offset by Speight looking like a Harbaugh quarterback immediately. Michigan saw stacked boxes and responded by passing over and over again. Up 31-7, Michigan got the ball on its own 13 and threw five straight times to open their drive. After halftime they indicated they were not inclined to take the pedal off the metal by opening up a touchdown drive with back to back completions to Butt for a total of 40 yards.
I have seen some quarterbacks this year. I have seen LSU fans go bonkers because a Purdue transfer went 6/14 for 100 yards against Jacksonville State. I have seen Clayton Thorson rack up seven points against Illinois State. There's a ton of collar-pulling across college football when new quarterbacks step in, no matter their age or hype level. Harbaugh has none of that with Speight. UCF set up to deny the run so Michigan rained it on their heads.
There wasn't an ounce of hesitation, and I was reminded of the quarterback press availability a week or so before the season. Speight sat down and told the assembled reporters that he flat-out expected to start. That was a confident read. It went with his spring performance, and now 50 throws into his starting career we have a bonafide trend. Wilton Speight is a man who knows where he wants to go, and would like us to come with him. Even if we are a crusty, crustaceous people.
#1 Wilton Speight completed 68% of his passes despite three drops on routine balls, cracked 300 yards, was still super accurate on everything under 20 yards and good on longer throws, and dealt with an unfortunate amount of pressure with aplomb.
#2 Ryan Glasgow had a dominant defensive game on the interior, sussed out a dangerous screen for a TFL, and just about ran down a track star on the 87 yarder. His range is completely absurd for a nose tackle.
#3 Jabrill Peppers led Michigan with eight tackles, two of them TFLs, added two hurries on top of that, returned a punt 35 yards, and was not responsible for much of the scramble or screen yardage ceded.
Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh were locked in and excellent. Erik Magnuson and Grant Newsome shut out the men trying to rush on them.
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF). 2: Jabrill Peppers (T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF); Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF). 1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii). 0.5: Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii), Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
No sir, no Early Season Jake Rudock this year.
Late Season Jake Rudock… ask again later.
Honorable mention: BLOCK ALL THE KICKS; Peppers forces a fumble with authority; Rashan Gary flashes end product on impressive sack; Speight hits Butt on a sweet corner route for a TD in tough circumstances; Michigan inserts Chris Evans at upback so they can't pop it up and UCF panics and kicks it out of bounds; Chase Winovich sack/strip results in a turnover.
Dymonte Thomas gives everyone the heebie-jeebies by failing to tackle a dude for like 20 yards and instead he goes 87. Also worrying about this play: the eerie similarities between it and the late season problems last year's defense had.
Honorable mention: Michigan Stadium has collective hallucination that Jake Butt dropped not one but two passes; various QB scrambles caused by bad contain; Kenny Allen drops the snap on a punt; several run plays are thunked in the the backfield.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again. UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
[After THE JUMP: SPEIGHTDOWN, also bad thing discussion]
How impressed were you with Rashan Gary and what kind of progression have you seen from him just from week one to week two?
“It’s been very good, very outstanding. Tough guy. He’s been—he got a finger dislocated about the first week of practice and they took him in, put him under the x-ray, and the trainer was like, ‘Man, what is that?’ or something to that effect, and Rashan was like, ‘That’s football.’ Taped it up and went back out. Another time he was cramping and I took him out of practice, and then about six plays later saw he was back in there. He’s really good like that. Real football player. Doing a great job. Played the whole game today, looked like, most of it.
“And along those lines I felt the lines really took care of business today. That was something we felt was gonna be necessary and could get accomplished. Wouldn’t call it dominating but it was—took care of business, both the offensive an defensive lines. Did a very good job.”
Just asked Wilton about [how] in week one he didn’t really get hit; barely touched. Today he did get hit a few times, sacked a couple times. Just as a quarterback, what can that do for you? He said it’s not like he wants to get hit all the time, but it kind of gets him in the mode. Curious your thoughts on that.
“I thought, first of all, quarterback throws for four touchdowns and over 300 yards, that’s a great performance. Would not be going out on a limb to say he’s probably going to be our offensive player of the week, of the game. Had some good courage plays where he had to stand in the pocket and either a blitzer or a rusher was coming. Even made an improv play, improvise and adjust, to kick it out to Poggi in the flat. Thought that was a smart play. Hit two post routes. I mean, the hardest routes to hit, in my opinion. I played the position and watched for all my life [and] it’s a hard route to hit, and both Chesson made a great catch and so did Darboh for a touchdown. For the quarterback to hit those, that’s the toughest route, I think.
“And also the backs. I thought the backs--right from the get-go our backs were getting hit. Big hits and really good formed-up tackles by UCF and they hung onto the ball. It was a hard-hitting game all the way through, and also feel like we’re building up a callus with our team. Didn’t come out of this game with any injuries. And we delivered some blows, too. It was a good, real football game.”
How do you balance getting a running back in a rhythm versus keeping him fresh and getting other guys carries?
“Um…by getting him in there every couple. Today we were rotating backs. De’Veon had some unbelievable runs, especially the one drive—I think we ended up getting a field goal out of it—breaking tackles and pickings up the first downs. Two first downs he picked up by extra effort, and running with the ball, getting hit, three, four, five hits on the same play. Always thought it was smart to put a fresh back in when you have a run like that. But I thought he was exceptional. There were definitely drives we don’t get points on the board without the extra effort he was making out there.”
What’s your concern level on the quarterback scrambles, and is that something that’s pretty easy to clean up?
“Yeah, we made the adjustment in the second half. We were getting behind the quarterback. We’ve got to either retrace or spin back into the lane to keep the quarterback from leaving the pocket and getting all those rushing yards that they got. I thought Don and the staff did a nice job of making adjustments in the second half.”
[After THE JUMP: special teams, Speight under pressure (from the opposition), a minor injury update, and the wonder of the MRI from a non-doctor’s perspective]
Chris Evans broke the hundred-yard mark in his debut. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
It's hard to exceed expectations when facing a 41-point underdog.
Michigan exceeded expectations.
The defense was as salty as advertised, holding Hawaii without a first down until under five minutes remained in the first half; it took until the beginning of that drive for the Rainbow Warriors to get positive yardage. Even with the absence of Jourdan Lewis and Maurice Hurst, who sat out the game due to minor injuries, losing Taco Charlton to an apparent ankle injury early, and rotating in seemingly every warm body on the bench, the defense held Hawaii to 232 total yards and a 55-yard field goal that barely cleared the crossbar. That same Hawaii offense put up 482 yards on Cal last week. Cal's defense is bad, yes. Michigan's did nothing to dispel the notion they'll be elite today.
The offense began the game in ominous fashion when Wilton Speight tossed a pick on his first play as the starting quarterback. To say he bounced back is an understatement; he finished 10-for-13 for 145 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers (Grant Perry, Jake Butt, and Amara Darboh).
"[Jim Harbaugh] just grabbed me, hugged me, and was kinda laughing," Speight said about the aftermath of his ill-fated opening throw. "[He] was like, 'don't worry, we'll get it next drive, don't even sweat about that,' and I was able to do that."
"He responded in tremendous fashion," said Harbaugh, who added the touchdown throw to Perry on the next drive "could not have been thrown any better."
Four quarterbacks played. Eleven players recorded rush attempts. Eleven caught at least one pass.
Of all of them, a true freshman stood out above the rest. Running back Chris Evans rushed for 112 yards and two scores, including a 43-yard burst right up the gut, on only eight carries. He's very much a running back, and he looks at the very least to have locked up the #3 spot on the depth chart behind DeVeon Smith and Ty Isaac.
"I knew Chris Evans is special. What you saw today is what we've been seeing all month," said Harbaugh. "He's a special player and I expect big things going forward."
Delano Hill had one of M's two pick-sixes. [Fuller]
Delano Hill and Channing Stribling weren't content to let the offense do all the scoring. Both recorded pick-sixes, Hill's on a 27-yard return, Stribling's covering 51 yards mere moments after his would-be interception was negated by a late hit on the quarterback. Ball don't lie.
Stribling's score gave Michigan a 49-0 lead with 10:51 left in the third quarter. The rest of the game was essentially an exhibition for the recruiting class of 2016. Receiver Eddie McDoom elicited a few wonderful "McDOOOOOOM" chants from the crowd, taking two end-arounds for 34 yards and gaining another first down with a nifty eight-yard catch over the middle. Michigan's run offense perked up when Ben Bredeson entered the game at left guard. Michael Onwenu played on both the offensive and defensive line; he made his biggest mark at guard, looking every bit as strong as you'd expect from a human neutron star. The list of freshmen to see the field is too long for this recap.
Harbaugh said that the injury that held Lewis out today is "healed," and it was his decision to hold Lewis out today; same goes for Hurst and guard Ben Braden, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Patrick Kugler. All three would've played if the opponent had warranted it. DeVeon Smith's rib injury is apparently minor. We'll have to wait and see on Charlton and Bryan Mone; Harbaugh said Mone will undergo an MRI tonight, though he didn't specify where.
If Michigan managed to escape without significant injury—we'll have to wait and see—then it's hard to imagine the opener going much better. The offense averaged 8.7 yards per play with great balance (10.3 yards per pass, 7.8 per rush), hardly slowing down after the starters took a seat. The defense almost literally didn't cede anything until backups were a major part of the rotation, and they scored two more touchdowns than Hawaii.