Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge

Spring Practice Presser 4-22-18: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 24th, 2018 at 10:03 AM

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[Fuller]

[Ed. A—Thanks to Orion Sang and The Michigan Daily crew for passing along audio]

“Yeah, great. Lot of good work in. It’s been a good spring, productive. Seen good improvement so very good and very positive.”

Your first year with safeties. What do you like about those guys?

“Yeah, it’s awesome. I like—for me personally, it’s a different perspective. You know, looking at spacing, route combinations. Got a really good group. Guys that are hungry, that are competing. There’s eight guys that are all working back there, so really excited about all of ‘em.”

Was it a big adjustment for you in moving back and coaching the safeties?

“No, not really. You know, I didn’t know what it was going to be like the first day on the field, obviously, because you’re looking—when you’re coaching linebackers it’s all protections and run game to start. When you’re coaching safeties it’s all route combinations to start, so different perspective but no, I think it’s been smooth.

“I got coach Devin Bush with me, so it’s easy to lean on him if I need to, so he’s awesome and been great with it too. He’s played at the highest level at the position, so that always helps. But no, it’s been good. I think the transition’s been really good. I enjoy it.”

Josh Metellus took a lot of heat last year but sounds like he’s had a really good spring. He’s even played some corner at times in the scrimmages?

“He did for a day, yeah. We had to move him out there for a day. He did a hell of a job. I don’t know about the heat he took, but he’s had a really good spring for us. I really appreciate him. He comes to work every day. He’s an athlete that can play at a high level, and that’s what we expect out of him, and that’s—I talked to them moving forward, got to get him playing at a high, high level, and I expect that this year.”

What specific areas of improvement have you seen the safeties make over spring practices?

“It’s funny because I come from linebackers but one of the ways I wanted to really improve those guys was in physicality. We do a lot of things to improve their physicality in terms of getting off blocks and not allowing receivers to block us and things and that’s been a vast improvement I think.

“It’s easy for me because linebackers, that’s what you do, so that’s been really good. I wanted to really get detailed with their footwork. You know, every break means something, the way you break on a route. Every step means something. The angles you take—we’ve really honed down on the basics of that stuff.

“In the winter we really went to speed school, essentially. When we’re breaking on a route or breaking on the ball, it’s all about your directional step, gaining ground, and pointing in the right direction with your first two steps. I think they’ve gotten faster in that stuff throughout the winter and the spring, which is good as well.”

[Hit THE JUMP to learn why you should never, ever Flintstone]

Spring Practice Presser 3-27-18: Don Brown

Spring Practice Presser 3-27-18: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on March 28th, 2018 at 9:01 AM

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[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

[Ed. A- Thanks to Isaiah Hole for sending along video so I could transcribe this, as I wasn’t able to be there due to some medical issues in my family]

“How’s everybody doin’? We good? Doin’ great. I think. Forty-one years, so…still rollin’. We’re three practices in. Two good ones in no pads. Lot of learning, lot of football being digested. As you know here, that’s what we do.

“Can’t say enough good things about Herb[ert] and the strength staff. Really gave us a really solid group of guys in terms of cardiovascular and bigger, stronger, faster, and just glad to be back with my guys.

“Been doing this a long time. This might be if not the fastest then one of the fastest groups I’ve ever been around, so pretty excited about it. Obviously we’ve got a lot of things to work on but we’ll get there. There’s no question in my mind.”

With Devin and Khaleke, can you talk about some of those guys that are challenging the other guys at linebacker?

“Well, let me just say this, okay? This Devin Bush Jr.? Special guy now, okay? That’s all I’m gonna say. There’s a private story, but this guy stayed with his team. He could have easily checked out for three or four days and everybody would have understood and he didn’t. So, I think we’re talking about a guy whose character is completely off the charts.

“This Khaleke Hudson is playing at a tremendous level a year ago, and I think he’s a much better cover guy right now. He’s playing at a much faster rate. He should go kiss Ben Herbert on the lips because he’s helped him tremendously.

“This Josh Ross is gonna be a dude. He’s gonna be a really good player. Drew Singleton will be a very good player. Noah Furbush, his arrow is so far up from a year ago. I’m just very excited about where he is. Glasgow, we made the move from Viper behind Khaleke, took the slot coverage off his plate, and that’s helped him improve.

[I had to split this in the middle of an answer which tells you a lot about the quality of the responses after THE JUMP]

Flanagan Family: How Devin Bush, Josh Metellus, and Devin Gil Found a Second Home

Flanagan Family: How Devin Bush, Josh Metellus, and Devin Gil Found a Second Home

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 31st, 2017 at 2:56 PM

db4l

[courtesy Yasmeen Alcindor]

The secret to Michigan’s success on defense isn’t really a secret. It’s hard to stay under the radar when your mustache is so perfect, your stats are so good, and your scheme is so aesthetically pleasing. But the secret ingredient in how Michigan’s defensive personnel was assembled was, well, itself assembled. A few years ago, a sleek new Playstation 4 rolled off an assembly line in Yantai, a coastal city of about 7 million in China, not realizing that it would some day end up in the living room of Jabrill Peppers’ apartment, let alone that it would play a crucial role in landing three contributors to 2017’s no. 3-ranked defense.

The PS4’s shining moment came on the night of June 14, 2015, when three then-recruits--Devin Bush Jr., Josh Metellus, and Devin Gil--went on an unofficial visit to Michigan. The three got in from South Florida around 11 on their first night in Ann Arbor and went straight to Peppers’ apartment, where they found Willie Henry (or, as he’s known around the program, Big Earl) ready and waiting to throw in NBA 2K15 or Madden 15.

“I’ll bust out the 2K or we can throw in Madden if you feel like the odds are better in that,” Henry says. “I don’t think I ever lost to Jabrill, Devin, the other Devin, or Metellus.” Metellus corroborates Henry’s recollection. “It was just funny because Gil, he was playing 2K, he was just losing the whole time. It was hilarious,” he says.

Asked who’s the best 2K player, Gil says it has to be him. This is one of the many times during our interview where the crosstalk explodes, three voices criss-crossing with such speed that the tape plays back a staccato mess. As things calm down, Bush explains his frustration. “He plays as Golden State like he’s tryin’ to cheat,” he says. The pride swells in his voice. “I play as random teams.” Gil, the most reserved of the three, quietly retorts: “I’m still gon’ win, though. Regardless, I’m gon’ win.”

And he might, but not that night. “A lot of people just like playing with Lebron but I can use it as an excuse: that’s my home team I’m just playing with. Can’t be mad that my home team got Lebron James,” Henry says. “But you know me, I’m very competitive, too. So it was just two guys competitive at what they do playing the game at that time. I got the best of him that night but I could see from the fight in that that we had three great competitors coming from the same school that had the possibility to come to the same university. It was just a blessing. I had a great time with the boys that night.”

[After THE JUMP: a secret plan, chasing offers, winning championships, and high-stakes games of…Uno?]

Unverified Voracity Enters A World Of Pain

Unverified Voracity Enters A World Of Pain

Submitted by Brian on December 28th, 2017 at 12:16 PM

mark it zero 2

this is a completely normal bowling event

I honestly don't know how anyone goes bowling and doesn't get in a massive brawl. You've just spent several hours of your time flinging a ball at various inanimate objects and the objects generally win. You are losing to some smug-ass ovoid shapes. In such circumstances, it is only natural to become so irrationally angry that you start a yell-fight over the circumstances you find yourself in.

And lo, it has happened to football teams.

This makes total sense. I do enjoy how bored the cops look. Because this happens every time they're in a bowling alley.

These are unrelated, but I wish they weren't. Mo Hurst will play in the bowl game. Probably less than he has in most games, for a ton of reasons. Here's hoping he gets through it okay.

God bless Mike Leach. And God bless the reporter who absolutely nailed the zoom-out reveal midway through:

This is art on par with the raptor gif. And they said bowl season didn't mean anything.

You cannot understand the Brohm of it all. Purdue beat Arizona in an extremely entertaining game that featured one of those college-only back-to-back-to-back touchdowns in the last few minutes to swing the game to and fro. In the end Purdue's margin depended heavily on this play at the end of the first half:

That is a perfectly legal play that I've seen Auburn and Arkansas execute over the past few years. People are describing it as a "fake kneel," though, and they do have a point: Purdue had a guy lined up as the traditional we're-gonna-kneel "safety" on the play. Shame on Arizona for biting on that after Purdue got the ball back with almost a minute left...

...oh.

[/mentions fill up with "intent to deceive" outrage]

Well... you're not wrong. If a team is going to line up in a formation that causes the refs to demand the opposition stop playing they should stop playing too. One dollar says that there's a new rule covering running actual plays from a kneel-down formation next year. Which is a shame:

Most importantly, when Gus Malzahn runs this play, the call on the field is “THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT!” because the name of the fake kneel is “Woody,” it almost always involves the smallest running back on the team getting the ball, and because anytime one can take an excuse to yell “THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT!” on a football field, one should.

RIP.

Interesting Michigan-related item:

M apparently had this scouted.

Random bits from Zach Shaw. Shaw has been poking around the 24/7 database for article on various Michigan units, and has come across a number of things that look promising for next year's defense:

  • On the DL, Aubrey Solomon had a "stop rate"—tackles at or near the LOS—of just over 10%, which was on par with Hurst and Winovich. Nearly identical to both, in fact. Those guys were 10th and 11th nationally in that stat. If Solomon maintains that productivity he should be at least good and, with some extra pass rush, potentially great next year.
  • At linebacker, Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush Jr. missed just three tackles each all year. Both guys had a ton of QB pressures but not many stops—probably because the DL was crushing so many plays before they could even get to the LBs.
  • The cornerbacks did this: "Michigan’s three cornerbacks — all first-year starters — allowed 32 of 81 passes for 478 yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 16 pass breakups." That is, of course, bonkers. Like having Jourdan Lewis clones coming out of your ears.
  • The safeties were good-ish. In the aftermath of a tough game for Metellus against Ohio State there have been a lot of criticisms of the safeties, and by implication departed safeties coach Brian Smith. But collectively there were middle of the pack when targeted and had an acceptable missed tackle rate—Metellus's was more acceptable than Kinnel's. The individual stats don't take into account the general lack of huge plays against M. Michigan gave up quite a few 20+ yard plays (59th) but relatively few 30+ (22nd); a lot of those longer plays were the inevitable result of Michigan's very aggressive defense cracking. The safeties mostly held down those opportunities.

If Solomon improves as much as most rising sophomores he could be only a reasonable step back from Mo Hurst, and then Michigan just has to find a linebacker from 5-6 options and a develop some DL depth to have the kind of defense that could be #1 nationally. Again.

One downer: per Football Outsiders Michigan's punting efficiency was 121st nationally, and the early shanks from Will hart didn't have much of an impact. Brad Robbins's net yardage was 121st. Shoulda got an Aussie.

Etc.: Graham Couch is at it again! If you've seen various Lars Von Trier movies the reference to him in this article will go 1% of the way towards restoring your lost time and/or sanity. Marcus Ray departs WTKA. The Blind Pig will carry on. Patterson officially in; the other two guys are officially not. Ted Janes of the Daily talks to John O'Korn. Jourdan Lewis: still good.

Gravestone

Gravestone

Submitted by Brian on November 27th, 2017 at 1:31 PM

11/25/2017 – Michigan 20, Ohio State 31 – 8-4, 5-4 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

John O'Korn sat in a press conference on Saturday and broke down. He blamed himself, and himself alone, for Michigan's latest loss to Ohio State. And he was correct. I don't think I've ever seen a Michigan-Ohio State game so clearly decided by one guy's inability to hack it.

Previous terrible individual performances have been given in concert. The 2007 game featured Chad Henne without a throwing arm, but it also featured an offensive line that had to drag Alex Mitchell out of retirement midseason and the infamous picture that resulted. Nick Sheridan averaged 3.6 yards an attempt the year after, but nobody missed the forest for that particular tree as Michigan finished a 3-9 season with a 42-7 loss. And so forth and so on. The sad fact of the last decade of Michigan football is that when Michigan gets in a competitive game against Ohio State it's usually because someone is playing over their head.

This was different. This was Michigan feeling like the better football team except for one glaring black hole at the most important position on the field. The crowd felt the agony of this keenly with every errant pass or unnecessary sack. O'Korn was not booed, per se, but the desperate groans that issued involuntarily from the assembled masses were almost worse. There's a certain tenor of "ohhhawwww" a crowd can issue that is the pure, distilled sound of frustration. I have memorized this after Saturday, and find it replaying in my head whenever there's a spare neuron not playing Baby Signing Time songs. (This is rarely.)

Even after all those moans Michigan had not one but two shots to go ahead very late. Those ended with back-to-back throws that are burned into the retinas of every Michigan fan and will be replayed when "John O'Korn" is mentioned. Possibly even corn. Or Korn. I can't mention my Pandora station ever again on this website. Those throws were a fourth and four pass that went yards over the head of a screamingly wide open Chris Evans and an interception on which two Michigan receivers were open, and not within 20 yards of the ball.

That is O'Korn's football gravestone, chiseled, checked, and done.

O'Korn knows it, and wasn't going to offer up any bullshit platitudes afterwards. Say what you want about his play—although I can't imagine there's any excoriation in any language that hasn't already been delivered—but the guy did not shy away from the enormity of the thing that had just happened to him, a living, breathing human who has to go through the next sixty years introducing himself to people and hoping they've never heard of the most popular sport in America.

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

At about the same time O'Korn was breaking down in public, someone logged on to this website and typed "fuck John O'Korn," into it, posted it, and then got a bunch of upvotes. A guy who started arguing with the various toxic manbabies in this thread that O'Korn was a virtually unpaid person thrust into a position he should never have been in was consistently downvoted.

After taking down several threads and banning a dozen people I yanked commenting for about a day. Naturally, this resulted in these same people fleeing to twitter to tell me it was PATHETIC that I COULDN'T HANDLE NEGATIVITY, because I didn't want them throwing their poop in a place I feel responsible for. And I didn't want to wonder what they were saying while I was doing anything other than commenting on Michigan football. Also, I hate them.

If you're one of these people reading this column I'd like to make it clear that there is something wrong with you. The vast majority of people who come to this site don't post on it, because it is like every other website in the world. Those that do are split between normal people with something to say, and you, the person too dumb to know you shouldn't say anything. You are a tiny minority of this fanbase that gets outsized attention because you're dumb and loud, and most people are willing to throw away the good parts of the comments because of you:

Next football season will not be like this, because you will be gone from this website. If you have any doubt in your mind whether I'm talking about you, yes, I am talking about you. If you're mad at Ace for saying the fanbase is the worst part of his job, I'm talking about you. Because he's not talking about 90% of the fanbase, he's talking about you.

No one needs to yell at John O'Korn, who clearly understands the implications of what just occurred in ways you do not. Nobody needs to say anything to John O'Korn ever again. Dude needs a hug and a Malaysian passport. And even though O'Korn just set a winnable Ohio State game on fire in a way that has probably never happened before or will happen again, I care a lot more about his feelings than some jabroni on the internet who doesn't have to introduce himself under his screen name.

That's it. There's no big sweeping theme here, nothing about the direction of this program or where this fits in the historical firmament. Just an incredibly obvious black hole...

...and a bunch of people who are incapable of seeing it.

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Rashan Gary. Finally got a little sack luck, as Devin Bush flushed Barrett to him on one of his two sacks. He added a third TFL amongst ten tackles, which is a very large number for a DE, especially because he missed a big chunk of OSU's first TD drive with a recurrence of the shoulder stinger (or similar injury) that he's been battling all season.

#2 Mike McCray. Eight solo tackles and two TFLs as McCray was a major factor in Michigan's ability to keep OSU to under 200 yards of offense until a late fade, none of which was on him. He didn't get edged, and managed to survive the return of Oh No Mike McCray On A Flanked Out Running Back without getting targeted.

#3(T) Chris Evans and Karan Higdon. Michigan's tailback duo had 165 yards on 28 touches, 5.9 yards a pop. Evans caught five passes as Michigan finally paid off on that preseason hype; Higdon was able to get the corner a couple times as well. If the offensive line can come together next year one or both are candidates to have All Big Ten season... or at least they would be if they weren't going to cannibalize each others' carries.

Honorable mention: Mo Hurst and Devin Bush turned in excellent performances; Michigan's cornerbacks again almost pitched a shutout, albeit with the aid of a couple drops. DPJ set up Michigan's second touchdown. Mason Cole had an edge two for one that sprung Crawford early in the third to get Michigan's third TD.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Rashan Gary(T2 Indiana, #1 Rutgers, T2 Wisconsin, #1 OSU).   
8:
Devin Bush (#1 Florida, T2 Cincinnati, T2 Air Force, #1 Purdue), Mo Hurst (#1 MSU, #2(T), Indiana, #1 Wisconsin),  Karan Higdon (#1 Indiana, #2 PSU, T2 Minnesota, T3 OSU).
6: Mason Cole (#1 Cincinnati, T2 Rutgers, T3 Minnesota), Chase Winovich(#1 Air Force, #2a Purdue, T2 Wisconsin),
5: Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati, #3 PSU, #1 Minnesota), David Long (T3 Indiana, #1 PSU, #3 Maryland)    
4: Chris Evans(T2 Minnesota, #2 Maryland).   
3: Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati), Lavert Hill(#2 MSU, T3 Indiana)), Josh Metellus (#1 Maryland), Mike McCray(T2 Air Force, #2 OSU).
2: Quinn Nordin (#3 Florida, #3 Air Force), John O'Korn (#2 Purdue), Sean McKeon(T3 Purdue, #3 Rutgers), Mike Onwenu(T2 Rutgers),
1: Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati),  Zach Gentry (T3 Purdue), Brad Robbins(#3 MSU), Brandon Watson (T3 Indiana), Ben Bredeson(T3 Minnesota), Donovan Peoples-Jones (#3 Wisconsin).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

The entire first quarter? Yes, that.

Honorable mention: Oh man I should not have used up the whole first quarter before the honorable mention section. That was a real good first quarter. Oh: Kekoa Crawford

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Of the two chiseled, checked, and done plays the Evans miss stands out since it was a wide open guy less than ten yards downfield.

Honorable mention: Various other things that happened when Michigan dropped back to pass. I could tell you about them, but you know. Metellus gets lost on two late drag routes. Watson misses a third and thirteen PBU. Nordin misses an XP.

[After THE JUMP: less than usual, i tellya]

Ohio State 31, Michigan 20

Ohio State 31, Michigan 20

Submitted by Ace on November 25th, 2017 at 4:25 PM


[Patrick Barron]

Michigan did not lack opportunity, or talent, or coaching. They just lacked a quarterback.

The Wolverines jumped out to a 14-0 lead, held Ohio State to negative-six yards in the first quarter, got 5.5 yards per carry out of their running backs, and had receivers running wide open through the Buckeye secondary all afternoon. The defense forced JT Barrett to be a one-dimensional runner, kept OSU's star quarterback under constant pressure, and eventually knocked him out of the game with an apparent knee injury.

With Brandon Peters and Wilton Speight watching in street clothes, however, John O'Korn missed far too may of those open receivers. When including sacks, O'Korn averaged only 4.1 yards per dropback. His only turnover came at the worst possible time. With 2:47 on the clock and Michigan down four points after a missed Buckeye field goal, Kekoa Crawford settled down underneath OSU's safeties for what could've been a significant first down. O'Korn read the play differently and chucked a deep ball directly to OSU's Jordan Fuller.

"It was an option route," said O'Korn. "[Crawford] did the right thing. It's all on me."


[Eric Upchurch]

There were plenty more reasons the Wolverines lost. The second quarter featured a momentous change in fortune when Josh Metellus let an easy inteception fall through his hands; two plays later, JT Barrett—with, perhaps, an assist from whatever official was in charge of watching Mo Hurst—scrambled 21 yards to make it 14-7.

Michigan's ensuing drive ended with a 23-yard change in field position after an illegal formation penalty negated their first attempt at a punt. KJ Hill returned the next one to midfield—again, with a potential penalty overlooked—and Barrett needed only three plays to tie the game on a 25-yard pass to Marcus Baugh.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, though Ohio State took a one-point edge thanks to a blocked extra point. That loomed large when Sean Nuernberger hit a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. It loomed less large when O'Korn threw the interception.

With an average quarterback performance, Michigan wins this game. The gameplan couldn't have reasonably been better; any criticism of Harbaugh or the coaching staff about this game can be mocked with impunity. When it came down to it, Harbaugh couldn't throw the ball for his quarterback, and that proved to be the difference.

"The hardest part for me is you come here to win this game for the senior class and we couldn't do it," O'Korn said with tears in his eyes, before again putting the blame on himself. "It's the worst feeling in the world."

Better days are ahead. This one's still going to sting for a while.

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Maryland

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 17th, 2017 at 10:04 AM

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[Paul Sherman]

Substitution/formation notes: Michigan lined up a gunner in the slot…

maryland punt 1

…and then motioned him in. In this instance he carries the Maryland player lined up across from him into the middle, and he taps his lineman to let him know which gap he’s in.

maryland punt 2

Michigan used this motion again later in the game, though that time they had the gunner motion across the entire formation and then head downfield.

[After THE JUMP: A Eurostep punt block? Head to the comments, you titan of special teams nomenclature]

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Maryland

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2017 at 3:31 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTE. We're (still!) having a charity tailgate before the OSU game. Details:

MGoBlog and HomeSure Lending are having a tailgate before The Game at The North End Zone tailgate space, 1011 S. Main Street (map) from 9 a.m. to a little before noon, with food from Scratch Barbecue and beer donated from Wolverine State Brewing, and proceeds going to the T. Wall Foundation.

  • Tickets (food & beer included): $12 if you buy them ahead of time on EventBritegets you in, gets you a wrist band for the food.
  • Tickets (just beer at the door): $10 suggested donation just to come hang out on your way to the game.
  • Watch/Afterparty: Your ticket for the tailgate also gets you a round at Wolverine Brewing. If you don’t have a ticket for The Game but want to come, you won’t be alone; there’s a Lyft pickup spot across the street so when people go into the game a handful of us (I’m still in the market) are gonna go back to Wolverine State Brewing to watch it together, and more are planning to come back there (and park there) after.

Scratch provided the BBQ at the season-opening event, if you were there. It's good.

FORMATION NOTES. A confession: virtually all of the one-or-two safety bits of the table below are guesses, because we got BTN Director With Severe Myopia again. This is third and ten.

vlcsnap-2017-11-16-11h23m53s845

I hate this man. If someone ever comes up to me and says "hey, I directed the 2017 Michigan-Maryland game" there is going to be a duel with cannonballs and whatnot.

FWIW, Michigan had 20 3-3-5 snaps that were concentrated on passing downs. They were in a 4-2-5 on 30 snaps. There were also 5 dime snaps and one 4-3 snap.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. 247 again provides details. Back seven was as per usual with the exception of Lavert Hill, who went out midway. this led to a bunch of snaps for Watson and Long—56 and 50 of 70, respectively. Thomas got in for a few plays, as did Woods and JKP very late. The three safeties and two core LBs were nearly omnipresent. Furbush got 16 snaps and Uche 6.

More rotation on the DL; Winovich was again an ironman. Hurst and Gary both played just over 50 snaps; Solomon got 34. Kemp, Mone, and Marshall all got around 15 snaps, with Paye and Dwumfour picking up the scraps late.

[After THE JUMP: this again, except they got more than 300 yards]

I Have Already Forgotten This Game

I Have Already Forgotten This Game

Submitted by Brian on November 13th, 2017 at 12:42 PM

11/11/2017 – Michigan 35, Maryland 10 – 8-2, 5-2 Big Ten

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something happened somewhere [Paul Sherman]

Details from Michigan's most recent football game are impossible to remember. I have literally just rewatched the game and written much about the specifics of what occurred below, but if you asked me right now what happened in the 2017 Maryland game I would start with "uh..." and maybe get to "I think we blocked a punt" before screaming "oh god what is that?!" and running away. My memory of last year's game against Maryland is vague annoyance at tunnel screens; the year before that Ty Isaac fumbled a couple times and there was a cool screen to Jake Butt. All other knowledge requires a lookup.

So too this season, which has featured two very memorable losses and a gray sea of immediately forgotten three-score-plus wins over bad teams. Per this site's preferred fancystat, S&P+, Michigan's best win this year is over #38 Purdue*. Indiana is next at #62, and then it's a bunch of teams 80th or worse. Marquee Nonconference Opponent Florida entered the weekend 103rd. Next week they will play Florida State for the Spiritual Apple Cup.

Mentioning Indiana just reminded me that Michigan went to overtime with the Hoosiers, which I had forgotten.

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

There was a mild hue and cry when Michigan was left out of the first cofopoff rankings of the season, well behind any other two-loss major conference team. But it was mild, because one glance at the schedule is sufficient to confirm the suspicion that Michigan hasn't actually done anything this season.

It's not their fault that Florida was until recently led by a man who had to leave the room when that Left Shark thing was going on. It's not their fault that usually decent-to-good programs like Cincinnati and Air Force have cratered this season. It's not their fault that Jim Delany added Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten, or that Minnesota and Purdue are two of their three crossover games. But when your best scalp is "moderately feisty 4-6 team"... I mean, don't be surprised when you aren't invited to the college football prom.

Michigan now has an opportunity to change that, with two top-ten teams to close the regular season. Wisconsin is this year's ultimate Ain't Played Nobody Team; their top S&P+ opponent is... Florida Atlantic, which is admittedly higher than Purdue in those ranking at #24. Their second best win is a virtual tossup between enigmatic Iowa and... yep, Purdue. Ohio State looks invincible some of the time, and some of the time they lose to Iowa by 31.

So it's possible. Michigan is a deeply flawed team currently on their third quarterback and second right tackle. They can't pass protect. They can't make a field goal of late. They can run a bit, and can throttle most opposing offenses. They've had three straight games in which they run out to a big lead and nurse it home with stuff they've already put on film; by this point the tendency-breaking whizbang stuff must be piled box upon box in the fireworks warehouse.

This would be a good time to see what they look like against #15. They've got S&P+s #3 and #1 teams on the docket, and that looks like a tough road to take. Even if you're skeptical of the number people on the computers, Vegas didn't see this weekend's game much differently. They installed Wisconsin as more than a touchdown favorite.

But there's no other choice if Michigan wants this season to be something other than a gray expanse pockmarked with the occasional depressing defeat. Which is fine, to some extent, since virtually the whole team returns next year. The howling of the radio Petes will be annoyingly shrill, though.

*[Numbers don't yet take this weekend's games into account, but when they do the gist will be the same.]

AWARDS

38295531026_0c72884cc4_z37636330564_b15f816bf4_z

one point for mutumbo finger wag [Sherman]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Josh Metellus. Metellus blocked a punt, had multiple instances of excellent coverage as yet another team tried to exploit Michigan safeties' man coverage, and regularly flashed into the screen to shut down outside runs for minimal gain. 

#2 Chris Evans. 109 yards on just 17 touches, and many of those required Evans to dodge a tackle before he could get going. Should have had a bit more but Peters didn't see him on a mesh route that he was wide open on. Find this man in space.

#3 David Long. An interception with an 80 yard return and, with Hill going out, the lion's share of the work as Michigan held DJ Moore well under season averages. Also had another nice PBU.

Honorable mention: Mo Hurst does Mo Hurst things; Devin Bush was the main guy on the failed fake punt and did work on the incessant screens; Tyree Kinnel was forced into a lot of tackles and didn't miss any; Karan Higdon broke a big play from nothing and was generally effective; Zach Gentry had his most productive day as a WR.

KFaTAotW Standings.

8: Devin Bush (#1 Florida, T2 Cincinnati, T2 Air Force, #1 Purdue)
7: Karan Higdon (#1 Indiana, #2 PSU, T2 Minnesota).
6: Mason Cole (#1 Cincinnati, T2 Rutgers, T3 Minnesota).
5: Chase Winovich(#1 Air Force, #2a Purdue), Mo Hurst (#1 MSU, #2(T), Indiana), Rashan Gary(T2 Indiana, #1 Rutgers), Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati, #3 PSU, #1 Minnesota), David Long (T3 Indiana, #1 PSU, #3 Maryland)    
4: Chris Evans(T2 Minnesota, #2 Maryland).   
3: Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati), Lavert Hill(#2 MSU, T3 Indiana)), Josh Metellus (#1 Maryland).   
2: Quinn Nordin (#3 Florida, #3 Air Force), John O'Korn (#2 Purdue), Sean McKeon(T3 Purdue, #3 Rutgers), Mike Onwenu(T2 Rutgers),
1: Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati), Mike McCray(T2 Air Force), Zach Gentry (T3 Purdue), Brad Robbins(#3 MSU), Brandon Watson (T3 Indiana), Ben Bredeson(T3 Minnesota).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

Michigan's motion discombobulates the Maryland defense so badly that Michigan gets an easy 30-yard pitch and catch TD that puts them up 21-0 and more or less ends the competitive section of the game.

Honorable mention: Metellus blocks a punt; Maryland tries a fake punt that goes Poorly; Higdon rips off a huge catch-and-run with a GET ORF ME stiffarm; Evans seals the game with a nifty inside zone run. Other things? I feel that other things did happen in this game.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Quinn Nordin misses a field goal of less than 40 yards, which officially puts us on #collegekickers watch after it went so well early in the season.

Honorable mention: Maryland has a touchdown drive. Michigan's third quarter features a lot of three and outs and not many yards. Peters misses a very open DPJ for a touchdown.

[After THE JUMP: hero-type substances on the half-shell]

Minnesota Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Minnesota Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 5th, 2017 at 12:34 PM

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[Fuller]

Obviously another huge rushing effort. Can you talk about not only what your backs accomplished but the guys in front of them?

“Yeah, I mean, it was stalwart performances. Looked up at one point and the statistics looked like we were Air Force. I thought we were Air Force the way we were running the ball. Thought we were Western Kentucky back in the early ‘90s under Jack Harbaugh. But it was a great job. I’ve never seen that many plus-50 yard runs in one game, any team I’ve ever coached or been on. That was quite the performance.

“Karan [Higdon] and Chris [Evans] had spectacular runs. The counter play was really good to us today. The blocking was really efficient; great precision there by the line. Tight ends, very good. Really didn’t see any missed blocks in the running game. Probably always—never as good as you think it is, there’ll probably be a few, but I thought it was really good. Really good. The guys up front, I mean, that was a game for the ages if you’re an offensive lineman. Fullbacks, same. Receivers got in on the action. They were blocking as well. It was quite the performance rushing the football.”

In the past two games the running game has done very well, but are you concerned that the passing game hasn’t gotten more opportunities to shine and improve going into these last three games of the season, especially with two big games looming against Wisconsin and Ohio State?

“Well, we were running the ball so well. I think 10 yards a rush, per attempt. I mean, that’s pretty good. I’m sure if we had done it any other way you would have ‘But why didn’t you run the ball more?’ Probably would have gotten that question, right? Yeah. Just kept feeding the running game. It was working.”

Can you talk about what went into the decision to start Cesar [Ruiz] when Mike [Onwenu] was hurt and how he played?

“Yeah, we had a three-man competition during the week of practice at that position and Cesar won it, and I thought he played really well. Gave up one hit on the quarterback, a sack, but good to see him get that action. It’s been time for him to play now for a few weeks and thought he stepped up and did very well, and he earned it. He earned it in practice. Coach Drevno was—we were grading the tape after each practice to see who to play at that position and he won out and acquitted himself well.”

[After THE JUMP: Hudson’s punt block phase-out; bizarre refereeing elicits a sad trombone sound effect; and Jack A. Harbaugh, run game repairman]