The Joe Flacco Question

The Joe Flacco Question Comment Count

Brian November 7th, 2016 at 12:49 PM

11/5/2016 – Michigan 59, Maryland 3 – 9-0, 6-0 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

It actually wasn't any of the deep shots that really caught my attention. It was a slant to Darboh. Play action, linebackers suck up and recover, too late. Wilton Speight fired a rifle shot into Darboh's hands that allowed him to continue without breaking stride. I thought oh no, I have to say this is happening, because that was approximately the sixth eyebrow-cocking throw of the afternoon.

So. This is happening. Here is that column I couldn't write earlier this year. I am writing it now, after three games in which Speight has averaged 12 yards an attempt, after various stats have rejiggered themselves into eye-popping arrangements three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season, after Jim Harbaugh asserted that Jabrill Peppers wasn't the only Michigan player who deserved your Heisman consideration and was met with thoughtful recalibration instead of laughter.

You've seen it with your own eyes on spins out of the pocket and inch-perfect deep balls as Speight continues to refine the high school version of himself into a cross between John Navarre, Ben Roethlisberger, and a production of Swan Lake staffed entirely by bears. At one point Speight scrambled for a touchdown and did some sort of insane flying ballerina move as he crossed the goal line.

wheeeeeee this is fun I didn't know I could move faster than a koala

Your eyes are like "did I just see that" and your spleen is like

I DON'T KNOW!
YOU'RE THE LOOKING PART!
I JUST SIT HERE AND GET NERVOUS SOMEONE'S GOING TO PICKLE ME!

because spleens are like that man. Just venting, like Jim Harbaugh failing to get an extra yard on review after picking up second and thirty-four.

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BALDERDASH [Eric Upchurch]

Since your eyes are clearly not up to the task of confirming or disconfirming what the hell is happening at the most important position in football, here are some numbers. They are rather optimistic given that said eyes spent half the season worrying Speight was going to sink Michigan when crunch time came around:

  • Speight's 8.9 YPA leads the Big Ten by almost a half yard and is 11th nationally.
  • His 15-3 TD/INT ratio is second in the Big Ten to JT Barrett (21-4).
  • His passer rating is now five points clear of Perry Hills for best in the league and is 14th nationally.
  • He's fifth nationally in ESPN's QBR metric, which accounts for rushing yards and SOS.
  • S&P+ now has Michigan's passing attack third(!) in the country.

That latter measure filters out garbage time and attempts to adjust for schedule strength. For that to be an improvement on the raw numbers is rather something. A major reason is that they've played S&P+'s #3 (Wisconsin), #8 (Colorado), and #15 (Penn State) defenses. They got lucky with Penn State's linebacker issues, but Michigan kept Garrett Sickels in check just fine during that game and he was rampant against OSU.

Speight was again mostly clean in this game but hardly noticed pressure except to spin out of it and make something productive of it, whether it was a bomb to Chesson or a seven-yard scramble that is probably still ongoing or finding the guy who blew the protection for a first down. His receivers certainly help. But this was a game where he lost a fifty-yard completion to an offensive pass interference call and still posted ludicrous numbers.

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

Is Wilton Speight elite? I don't know, man. This is a considerable improvement from "lol no" before the bye week and is trending in a spectacular direction. His last 72 attempts are elite, and with every game he moves towards a simple "yes." This is the second straight year a Michigan quarterback has muddled around for half a year before an exponential explosion in competence.

In addition to all the other ways Jim Harbaugh is a difference maker as a head coach he has this. There is no better quarterback coach in football. Every one of his charges exceeds expectations.  Often when he or they move on the player in question never recaptures his form. Is Wilton Speight elite? Ask again later. Is Jim Harbaugh elite? Cumong man, that's not even worth asking.

This team no longer feels like an elite defense with an offense scraping by, a la 1997. With Speight dropping bombs on all comers, it feels like... I have no idea. No Michigan team in my experience has spent an entire season bombing everyone they come across. Michigan has three top fifteen wins and the only reason any of those was within three scores was Kenny Allen having a miserable day against Wisconsin. You'd have to go back to the 70s to find a Michigan team that can end almost every game it plays in the first half.

Bo never managed to complete his task, because his quarterbacks were never state of the art. Jim Harbaugh emphatically does not have this problem. Ohio State? Bring 'em on.

HIGHLIGHTS

parkinggod:

AWARDS

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[Fuller]

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Wilton Speight had the greatest first half in the history of Michigan football quarterbacking, per statistics and Jim Harbaugh. He finished with an absurd 15 yards an attempt and is now the Big Ten's clear leader in passer rating and YPA; he also ran(!) for a touchdown that he finished with weird ballerina flair(!!!).

#2 Jourdan Lewis never gets on these lists anymore because for the most part nobody is trifling with him. A hat tip to Maryland for multiple shots down the sideline resulting in 3 PBUs, zero completions, and one uncalled OPI.

#3 Taco Charlton almost literally does not show up in the box score. He got a half sack and no other tackles. Do not let this color your opinion of his game: dude was on fire, repeatedly hammering into the backfield when Maryland ran inside and getting pressure on just about every dropback only for his friends to clean up most of it.

Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson had a breakout game with 112 yards; Jake Butt is now Michigan's all-time leader in receiving yards from a tight end; Deveon Smith managed 6 YPC with a long of 14, which is super hard to do; Maurice Hurst was a constantly disruptive presence; Ben Gedeon had three TFLs and did an excellent job on the edge.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland), Taco Charlton (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers),
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

The throwback bomb from Peppers to Speight to Chesson was entirely unnecessary, entirely awesome, and caused a purported journalist to descend into a hissy fit.

Also a great throw on a route that's not as open as it could have been on a trick play.

Honorable mention:

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Either Channing Stribling whiffing on a reverse he'd put himself in great position on or Mike McCray getting juked and edged by Lorenzo Harrison, because both of those incidents confirmed issues from the Michigan State game and indicated a weakness in this defense.

Honorable mention: Maryland breaks the shutout with a field goal; Speight turfs a bubble screen to Peppers that would probably have scored; Michigan gets stuffed on fourth and short; that one time they almost punted.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.

[After THE JUMP: Happy Maryland fans.]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian November 3rd, 2016 at 3:42 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Man, that fourth quarter was irritating. Like wearing pants. Also, Dan Gilbert just gave MSU 15 million dollars so you clearly can't get a loan from him even before we consider his major role in the financial crisis. Instead of feeding him more money with which to write in comic sans, try a local guy.

In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.

If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Not much. This was "goal line H" for MSU and made several increasingly less effective appearances. Michigan had one wacky 3-man-line snap on the first drive and then threw that away permanently, so the rest of the game was more or less this:

goal line

Of note: against these big formations M swapped their corners and safeties to get a couple bigger guys on the line.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: 74 snaps for the defense, with the starting secondary and Gedeon getting all of them. McCray missed just two snaps; Peppers missed six with various minor issues. Furbush got those six.

DL rotation was severely reduced, with Charlton getting all but ten snaps—Winovich got 14, and I think all of those after the first drive were in pass rush packages. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind at 59 and 57; Godin and Hurst did split their snaps about down the middle. Gary got 21 snaps; Mone got 3 before limping off.

Metellus and Watson got various dime snaps.

[After THE JUMP: not great bookending pretty great.]

Comments

Professional Polishers

Professional Polishers Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2016 at 12:42 PM

10/29/2016 – Michigan 32, Michigan State 23 – 8-0, 4-0 Big Ten

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stop #7 [Patrick Barron]

Do not be deceived. Michigan delivered an ass-kicking to Michigan State on Saturday. Nobody in the media buys the comeback narrative from MSU. ESPN:

Michigan took the first punch against desperate rival Michigan State and then fired back with haymakers, essentially putting the game out of reach at halftime.

CBS:

...the Wolverines ran away to a comfortable win. ...Michigan looked really good and gets out of a rivalry game with a two-possession road win that was probably better than the final score indicates.

The only people who care about the particular game theory state that resulted in Saturday's fourth quarter are the perpetually unhappy wing of Michigan fans and desperate Michigan State fans. I regret it mostly because I have to spend time in this column talking about a comeback so cosmetic Joe Tiller would be proud of it.

So I shake my fist at that interception. Michigan's up 27-10, they've ground up a few minutes of the third quarter on their opening drive of the second half, and the floodgates are poised to open. Michigan tries a throwback that is not there; Speight throws his worst pass in a month; Michigan gives up negative yards on seven goal-to-go plays. Then they're on their own four and go get a field goal. Suddenly it is the fourth quarter.

At this juncture Michigan found itself in a position where only a colossal disaster could let Michigan State back into the game. If they just drained clock and made MSU do the same as it tried to score they would win. The game wasn't out of hand to the point where Michigan could run their triple-reverse flea-flicker as a middle finger; it was out of hand sufficiently that putting away the scoring offense made sense. After Michigan went up 20, their final three drives were a Lloydball spectacular:

  • run run pass punt
  • pass to fullback in the flat, run, pass, run run run punt
  • run run run punt

Unlike many applications of Lloydball under its namesake, this made total sense. Michigan's fourth quarter went as badly as possible without a catastrophic mistake and their win percentage never dropped under 92 or 98%, depending on which system you're checking.

The other side was fervently attempting to save face. Their first drive of the fourth quarter 1) featured their running quarterback running, 2) drained the playclock down to ten seconds when the game clock was running, and 3) ended in a field goal attempt.

Michigan State's only goal was to make it look good. Michigan's goal was to win. These two goals combined with some galactically incompetent officiating to get Michigan State very technically within one score, and then Mark Dantonio's attempt to run up the score in a loss backfired spectacularly.

You will reap what you sow.

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

In the aftermath, Michigan State is resorting to making stuff up. Mark Dantonio explained his decision to go for a fourth-quarter field goal down twenty by saying he wanted to make it a two possession game. He's not dumb enough to believe that or he'd be Tim Beckman, so he's just making his making-it-look-good look good. Meanwhile his quarterback got hit so hard he thinks he plays for Michigan now:

Sure he did, buddy. This was right after Khalid Hill got his ass kicked by Montae Nicholson.

And Devin Bush got his ass kicked by Chris Frey.

When manballers had to manball their manballiest in this game, Michigan dominated. Fourth and short was a turnover on downs. Back to back goal line stands on the same drive weren't even difficult. Those snaps collectively gained negative yardage.

And what is it about Jim Harbaugh's track record that makes you think this is going to change any time soon? Your best bet is for the Michigan fanbase to collectively become Jed York. Good luck with that.

But, yeah, you've got that punt. Congratulations. Maybe this year you can name the meaningless touchdown with a second left to make it look vaguely competitive. I've got a suggestion: "The Future."

HIGHLIGHTS

Parkinggod:

There was a Peppers feature on Gameday:

As always, extensive selection at MGoVideo.

AWARDS

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[Bryan Fuller]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Amara Darboh caught virtually everything that came his way, including a bomb down the sideline on which he was interfered on without a call. He speared a ball Speight sailed for a first down early in the third quarter and generally had his way with anyone MSU sent in his direction.

#2 Jabrill Peppers played virtually every position; he had a rushing touchdown, opened up holes for his teammates as MSU overreacted to him incessantly, and had two TFLs, a sack, and two fourth-down stops on defense. He is totally overrated.

#3 Wilton Speight continued his Rudock trajectory. The interception on the wheel route was real bad and he made some easy things look a bit harder than they should have been by holding on to the ball too long, but he offset those issues with a 10 YPA day.

Honorable mention: Taco Charlton was unblockable until they started tackling him; Khalid Hill had some thumpers; Jake Butt had a couple of nice catches in the #buttzone; Jourdan Lewis is Jourdan Lewis.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Michigan State's attempt to run it up in a loss backfires spectacularly, giving Jabrill Peppers a chance to demonstrate his 100 M speed.

Thanks for the meaningless points and Heisman boost.

Honorable mention: Khalid Hill thunders Montae Nicholson into the ground; Charlton nails O'Connor and forces an interception at the end of the half; Speight spins away from a sack and nails Darboh downfield; Darboh spears a third-down conversion one-handed; Darboh fights through hella interference to grab a bomb down the sideline.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Michigan State rolling right down the field for a 75-yard TD on their opening drive made me feel rather bad, as if I had just been dropped in a wormhole and came out the other side in the Brady Hoke era.

Honorable mention: Wilton Speight shuts the door on a blowout with that INT, various horrendous calls in the fourth quarter, Stribling getting beat for MSU's first make-it-look-good TD.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.

[After THE JUMP: Nobody has ever attended Michigan. Strange but true.]

Comments

Michigan 32, Michigan State 23

Michigan 32, Michigan State 23 Comment Count

Ace October 29th, 2016 at 4:57 PM


[Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

You reap what you sow.

Facing a fourth-and-goal down 20 points in the fourth quarter, Mark Dantonio went the James Franklin route and called for a field goal. The football gods did not look kindly upon this act of cowardice; Michael Geiger missed the 34-yard attempt.

Dantonio almost certainly regretted that decision when the Spartans cut it to a two-score game midway through the fourth. Instead of having a shot at a miracle, they ran out of time—a Donnie Corley touchdown catch with a second remaining on the clock only brought the deficit to seven. To keep up appearances, or something like that, Dantonio called for a two-point conversion.

This also backfired, and in spectacular fashion. Jabrill Peppers capped a game worthy of a Heisman contender by returning an MSU fumble 98 yards for two points. The subsequent onside kick that didn't matter bounced harmlessly out of bounds, and Peppers got one final opportunity to display his athleticism when, perhaps as an homage to Braylon Edwards, he backflipped following the victory-formation kneeldown.


[Fuller]

While it wasn't the blowout most expected, it wasn't as close as the final score indicates, either. Michigan absorbed MSU's best shot on the opening drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march featuring 11 LJ Scott touches capped by a five-yard TD run. The Wolverines hit back by going 80 yards in eight plays with Eddie McDoom's 20-yard jet sweep setting up a three-yard Jabrill Peppers keeper to even the score. They gained the upper hand on the ensuing possession when Maurice Hurst slashed into the backfield to force Gerald Holmes into the unforgiving grasp of Peppers on a fourth-and-one.

From that point forward, Michigan was in command. Two De'Veon Smith touchdowns—one featuring a delighful smashing of Riley Bullough at the goal line—and a Kenny Allen field goal were the result of the next three Wolverine possessions, and MSU could only muster a field goal in the interim; Smith's second score gave M a 24-10 lead with 33 seconds left in the half, and it seemed safe to assume that would be the halftime score.

Tyler O'Connor had other plans, which quickly went awry. Instead of running out the clock, O'Connor heaved a pass towards RJ Shelton while under heavy duress from Taco Charlton, and Jourdan Lewis got his hands under it for the pick. Michigan got off four plays in 27 seconds; Amara Darboh, who had a career-high 165 yards in his best game as a Wolverine, drew a pass interference in the end zone to set up a chip shot Allen field goal as the half came to a close. Suddenly, it was a three-score game.


[Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

The 27-10 halftime margin would hold for the entire third quarter due to the goal-line heroics of the defense. In an otherwise stellar game, Wilton Speight made a significant error to open the second half, failing to see MSU corner Darian Hicks while targeting Karan Higdon on a wheel route. Hicks cut off the throw for an interception, and within two plays the Spartans had a first-and-goal.

Michigan State ran seven plays inside Michigan's ten-yard line on that possession, getting second life when Peppers was hit with a pass interference flag on third down. On play seven, Lewis crashed down on a fourth-down pitch to Scott and upended him in the backfield, ending the drive with authority.

After Kenny Allen struck a 45-yarder true to begin the fourth quarter, MSU went into desperation mode, inserting Damion Terry at quarterback on the ill-fated field goal drive, then switching to Brian Lewerke after a Michigan punt. The offense couldn't quite put the Spartans away, however, and Lewerke had a chance to make it a one-score game on fourth down with a little under two minutes on the clock.

The defensive line got serious heat on Lewerke, however, and Peppers cleaned up with a crushing sack. Michigan wore down some clock before MSU's desultory final drive while Jon Falk brought the Paul Bunyan trophy back to its rightful place in the Wolverine locker room.

Michigan State has lost six in a row. Michigan is 8-0 with one rival in the clear and three games to get through before a potential Big Ten East title game. While it took one year longer than any of us wanted, the in-state rivalry is, at long last, as it should be.

Comments

Notes On A Native Son

Notes On A Native Son Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 28th, 2016 at 11:00 AM

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[Courtesy U-M Athletics]

Rich Rodriguez would not stand to benefit from it, but Michigan’s next All-American defensive back roamed the sidelines before practice one warm day in 2009, surveyed what was (and was not) happening on the field, and from that moment, in Rodriguez’s parlance, was ‘all in.’ Jourdan Lewis stood on the field behind the shiny new Glick Field House that day and saw Denard Robinson—“Nardy,” as Lewis calls him— scampering, pulling, darting around and away from defenders— and no one else he recognized. Compared to 2006, a team full of names like Breaston and Henne and Hart and Manningham, names that Lewis reels off with ease, the only thing similar was that the players in front of him were clad in the familiar winged helmet. Lewis wanted then precisely what he wants now: to be a football star, and to use the platform afforded a football player to change the culture.

[After THE JUMP: “…he knows what lifelines can do, because he was given it.”]

Comments

Monday Presser 10-24-16: Players

Monday Presser 10-24-16: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 25th, 2016 at 5:50 PM

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Ben, you guys looked like you worked pretty well together, you and Bredeson. Talk about that transition and how hard or easy it was and what you thought of it.

“I wouldn’t say hard or easy. It was different. Obviously I haven’t played tackle in a few years. Bredeson’s done really well as a freshman. He’s doing really well. Smart kid, knows what’s going on in the film room. I was very happy with his effort and very proud of him. We’ll see what happens. It was a fun transition. I always liked being a tackle, but whatever’s best for the team we’ll do that.”

Chris or Jourdan, you guys win 41-8 but you give up a late touchdown and you give up the long running play. How much does that help your coach Don Brown to be able to get in that film room and say, ‘Okay, here are some things we need to clean up’ and not to get too confident after a big win?

CW: “Yeah, I think we played pretty good as a defense as whole against Rutgers and Wisconsin and Penn State, going back a few weeks. We obviously know we’re a good defense, but at the end of the day there’s always things we can get better at, always things we can improve on as a D-line. And linebackers and secondary, obviously, as a whole. So, we’ll watch film today and see what we can do. Obviously want to stop those long runs, the late touchdown, but like I said, there’s things to get better at.”

Jourdan, Coach reemphasized every game’s a championship game, [and said] we prepare like we do for everybody. Especially for an in-state guy, does it take a conscious effort to control emotion when it’s a rivalry like this?

“I’m not really an overemotional guy. I really just love the game of football and always prepare for every single game like it’s my last. So, that’s what all of us do, especially on the defensive end of the ball. Not saying that Michigan State—not trying to slight them or anything, but it’s just another game, really, on the schedule.”

Ben, what’s this rivalry mean to you as an in-state guy?

“I mean, as everyone knows as a kid I was a hockey player, but when I first got to college and hearing about it from Taylor Lewan and Mike Schofield and Elliott Mealer and what the rivalry meant to them, it just kind of set the standard for what the rivalry is. At the same time, we’ve got to focus on this week just like we do every week. It’s just another obstacle we have to get across that’s going to take us to our end goal, and that’s just to win as many games as we can and be the best that we can and play the best of our game. So, I think as a team we’ve done really good at that this season and I’ve been really proud of the guys and how they handle every game.”

[More after THE JUMP]

Comments

Monday Presser 10-24-16: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-24-16: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 24th, 2016 at 6:00 PM

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[Upchurch/MGoBlog]

News bullets and other items:

  • Chris Evans was concussed, and it’s too early in the week to tell his status for the game
  • Not sure whether Braden at LT and Bredeson at LG will be the starting left side Saturday as Bushell-Beatty is very much in the competition
  • You’re doing yourself a great disservice if you don’t read the whole thing for the discussion of where the refs spotted the ball after a play that left Michigan two yards short of the sticks on third down up 41-8; Harbaugh challenged, and the subsequent call was the worst he said he’s ever seen.

After watching the film, how’d that left side of the line hold up with the two Bens?

“Good. Real good. Yeah. Both played two of their best games. Yeah, good in protection, good in the run game, made the right calls.”

Is that something you think you’ll stick with this week probably?

“Yeah, we’ll see. Juwann Bushell-Beatty also is a huge factor.”

Talk about what Wormley gives you both as a leader and as a player. I think it was Chase Winovich who referred to him as ‘papa.’

“Really consummate…consummate…great football character, great human character. Really good leadership skills. Strong and makes well thought-out decisions. He’s equally as good on the football field. Just always been a rock-solid guy you like being around and somebody that you try to emulate his qualities. He’s a thinker and makes good decisions.”

Reading some of the players’ postgame comments from Saturday, they talked about last year how you kind of let the finish of the game sink in a little bit, but since then you guys have gone 11-1 over two seasons. Is that something where that kind of has fueled them since, or this week is it really going to come out in an aggressive form?

“This is a big game for us. Championship type of ballgame. Our preparations will need to be at their best. I don’t know much more to say about it than that. That says it all.”

[We need a rules expert after THE JUMP]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian October 21st, 2016 at 2:26 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Rutgers's total yardage is like Matt's rates: absurdly low! Their general organization is like Matt's competition: disorganized beyond belief! Your pants after watching the Peppers punt return are like your pants when applying for a mortgage with Matt: optional but discouraged!

In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.

If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Rutgers was all gun and mostly three-wide. Michigan responded with two different approaches. One was their conventional 4-2-5. Here Thomas and Peppers are over the slot receivers with out of the picture as the free safety.

image

The other was a 3-3-5 package; since I consider Peppers a safety those were listed as 3-2-6. Similar packages with Furbush were labeled as a 3-3-5.

image

Michigan had this setup, which is close to a stack. They had others where a safety crept down to an OLB spot that were kind of a 3-4; I called those "faux 3-4." They had some 5-1 lineups with two LBs on the end of the LOS and the DL folded inside. This package comes in for much more discussion after the jump.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Obviously there was a massive pile of it. The starting line only got about 20 snaps each, with Hurst getting 26 to lead all DL. Gary, Charlton, Wormley, Winovich, and Glasgow all got around 20. Godin got just 12. Jones, Onwenu, and Kemp also got late snaps. Lawrence Marshall did not play and did not travel.

Starting LBs went the whole way until the starting D got lifted; backups were as expected with Furbush at SAM and Bush and Wroblewski at ILB. Wangler got in very late, as did Mbem-Bosse.

Secondary as per usual. Metellus, Hudson, and Kinnel split snaps at S with Kinnel getting more time since he plays on passing downs with the regular D. David Long got far fewer snaps than Lavert Hill... still affected by that injury?

[After the JUMP: oh man]

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Unverified Voracity Gives Self C-

Unverified Voracity Gives Self C- Comment Count

Brian October 19th, 2016 at 5:16 PM

site note: UFR tomorrow AM and PM. Sorry about the delay.

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Breakout star Ben Gedeon [Bryan Fuller]

Oh, man, please do not excite me. PFF breaks down the Michigan-Ohio State matchup as only they can, and Michigan comes out ahead on most counts, including all three defensive units. Ben Gedeon is a surprise standout:

This was without question the biggest area of concern for the Wolverines heading into the season, but both Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have played well thus far. Gedeon’s 89.1 run defense grade is second-best in the country behind only the Ohio Bobcats’ Blair Brown, and McCray has graded well in all three phases while posting 10 pressures (three sacks) and a QB rating against of 42.1 in coverage.

That's a huge boost to a defense that didn't really need one.

Ohio State's biggest advantage is quarterback, unsurprisingly. JT Barrett and Wilton Speight are grading out similarly as passers; meanwhile there is a slight Barrett advantage on the ground. The overall tone of the article is... uh... far too encouraging for me to be comfortable with.

But the level of dominance the Michigan defensive line has achieved to date can only be challenged by Alabama, as six players have run defense grades of at least 80.0 (by comparison, Alabama has two) and five have pass-rush grades higher than 75.0 (Alabama has six). DTs Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst and DEs Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton are all likely top 100 picks (should they all choose to enter the draft this year), and last year’s No. 1 recruit DE Rashan Gary has been as good as advertised.

Michigan is now slightly favored in the Game by S&P+ and it sounds like PFF would pick Michigan as well. This terrifies me.

Lewis on Lewis. Rather frank self-scout right here:

"There's still a few things I can clean up," Lewis said this week. "I've let a few guys behind me a little bit and have just relied on my quickness and makeup speed. But I've got to stop cheating (with my eyes) and use my technique more."

Not as harsh a self-assessment as Peppers giving himself a C-, but that is accurate. Three or four times the ball has gone in the air with Lewis in seemingly bad position; he's made a play each time. Ideally he'll be able to wipe out that moment of nervousness when the ball is in the air.

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The Peppers factor [Patrick Barron]

Fancystat fight. Football Outsiders has two advanced CFB metrics: S&P+ and FEI. FEI, a drive-based metric, doesn't release until this week, and so we haven't been able to compare the two yet. In general FEI is less impressed. Michigan is third, not first, and their defense is fourth instead of an absurd runaway #1. OTOH, FEI has Michigan's offense third in the country, which seems optimistic.

The thing that really leaps out is special teams, though: S&P+ has Michigan 107th. FEI has Michigan 1st.

The FEI drilldown is how you'd expect. Michigan's been horrible at field goals (119th), meh at punting and returning kickoffs, and very good at their own kickoffs and returning punts. That shouldn't add up to the #1 team in the country but FEI also includes metrics for starting field possession on offense (#1) and defense (#13) that must factor in? Those numbers are only slightly about special teams.

S&P+ relies on "success rate" for kickoffs and punts, which has always seemed odd to me since there's no first down to shoot for. A yard is a yard on special teams. In any case, Michigan's terrible S&P+ rating is due to a heavy weight for FG kicking, which fair enough, and a poor punting success rate.

FWIW, the Mathlete's numbers that convert everything to points lost and gained have Michigan 16th.

My take: FEI is overrating the special teams because the defense is so dominant that it's moving field position outside the bounds of normal, and S&P+ isn't weighting the explosive Peppers returns enough. I asked Bill Connelly, the S&P+ purveyor, about this, and he said much the same thing. He's got good reasons to go with success rate but a guy like Peppers blows assumptions inherent in that choice out of the water.

Glasgow getting it done. Graham, that is. He got his first start this weekend and a newpaper breaks down film(!!!), where he impressed:

First and foremost, we have to highlight the performance of rookie Graham Glasgow, making his first start. Playing left guard, no Lions lineman drew Donald more often, matching up against the All-Pro 16 times, including 11 snaps in pass protection. Surprisingly, Glasgow rarely was given the assistance of a double-team, getting help from a teammate three of those snaps.

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Glasgow was terrific throughout the first half. He didn't give up any pressure, until losing his block on Donald during Detroit's final offensive play. Stafford managed to escape that pressure, bailing from the pocket and finding Andre Roberts for a short touchdown on fourth down.

Is this an opportunity to say I foresaw all of this as early as Glasgow's first few games? Maybe. Probably. Yes.

The revamp is for real. John Beilein already had one major revamp of his program that ended in a Final Four run. Revamp #2 is on now, and it's seriously serious:

This is going to be a fascinating year.

Etc.: This midseason All Big Ten team is incorrect because the defense is not Michigan's starting 11, but it does have Ryan Glasgow on it so I give it ten points. Big Ten Geeks previews basketball. What went wrong with Notre Dame. People are so mad about this arm-grab thing from Richard Sherman that just looks like good crafty D to me. Early Big Ten hockey impressions. Brady Hoke could recruit some.

A toast to Yost. The cookie monsters.

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Man Versus Printer

Man Versus Printer Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2016 at 12:32 PM

10/8/2016 – Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 – 6-0, 3-0 Big Ten

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A first down is gained [Patrick Barron]

Like many a mysterious drifter who's spent the past seven years wondering whether to drink whiskey or bleach, I don't really want to linger on the past. But when Michigan plays at Rutgers and a play by play guy desperate to inject any intrigue into a man-versus-printer situation keeps bringing up the 2014 game, it's hard to get away. And when you're already inclined to think about the radical shift in Michigan's fortunes, running across an article titled "Brady Hoke discusses monumental loss" is game over, man. There's nothing for it.

So let's talk about it.

Entering week six in 2016, Michigan was 5-0, favored by 30, coached by Jim Harbaugh and athletically directed by Warde Manuel. Manuel has probably been about as visible as your average athletic director; in the aftermath of Dave Brandon he feels like a ninja with an invisibility cloak since I haven't thought about him much outside of a few interviews and the resumption of the Notre Dame series.

Exiting week six Michigan is a top five team that just beat Rutgers so badly that they're causing existential crises amongst Cable Subscribers fans. The Daily's Jacob Gase caught up with the stragglers in the student section and got a quote for the ages:

“I like these kinds of games where we’re losing by a lot,” Kasia said, “because if we get a touchdown in the last four minutes, everyone is so happy to have anything that it’s really exciting.”

Rutgers only got a touchdown briefly. When the referees took it away it was a sign that the cosmos itself had decided that they were emphasizing the "win with cruelty" bit of Jim Harbaugh's favorite dichotomy. Everything about a blowout so epic it broke records set just before the University of Chicago decided football wasn't for them was expected.

Two years ago Michigan left for Rutgers after a week of incompetence so sheer that there was a well-attended rally on the Diag demanding Dave Brandon's ouster. Shane Morris had just been probably mildly concussed, the coverup was worse than the crime, and Brandon's "my personality is to the best of my ability" media blitz ended with this:

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A phalanx of athletic department staffers dragooned into wishing the team well as they departed. Brandon was front and center, naturally.

Upon arriving in Piscataway a person named Gary Nova bombed a secondary featuring Jourdan Lewis and NFL draft pick Blake Countess, a reigning first-team All Big Ten corner, for 404 passing yards. Michigan's featured pass rushers were current NFL stalwarts Jake Ryan and Frank Clark.

Brady Hoke had his cornerbacks coach install a press man system before the 2014 season. The minor flaw with this plan is that the cornerbacks coach was a linebacker who had never coached corners. This is how you lose to Rutgers.

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

I no longer know how you lose to Rutgers. There was no combination of parlous events that sees this game end up competitive, even vaguely so. The first time Rutgers crossed the first down line their quarterback was immediately crushed by Delano Hill, fumbling back behind the line to gain. The second time Rutgers crossed the first down line, deep into the fourth quarter, a Rutgers fan hugged it out with a Michigan fan. Various people on twitter bemusedly reported that ESPN's live win percentage tracker was stuck on 99.9%. My "harbaugh class" search started garnering hits early in the second quarter.

This was a blowout so comprehensive it went from boring to notable. And, yes, since two years ago this week I was posting The Kids In The Hall "Each Day We Work" sketch with the "there is no time off until I am crushed by the black hand" line and generally mooning about, it's worth noting that this is not that and that these are the rewards of finally getting some people in charge of things for a reason.

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there is no time off until Rutgers scores [Barron]

Michigan's cornerbacks coach is now a guy who played safety in the NFL for a decade, their athletic director has athletically directed at two other schools prior to this stop, and Jim Harbaugh is the head coach. Reasons veritably abound.

College programs can be steady for decades at a time as long as the core remains, and then lurch wildly about when that thing no longer suffices. See post-Bear 'Bama, the current situation at Texas,—which is playing out exactly like Lloyd Carr/RichRod—the last 20 years of Notre Dame football, etc. Michigan is no different. (Ohio State was incredibly lucky that when Jim Tressel got himself fired, Urban Meyer just happened to be waiting around.)

Today is a fine time to reflect on the bad old days, as we stand amidst a fine red mist that used to be the Rutgers football program, and appreciate that they got fixed. "Each day we work" has a different meaning now. So too does having an average weekend. It means the other team averages 18 inches a play.

HIGHLIGHTS

WD:

parkinggod:

More at MGoVideo.

AWARDS

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[Barron]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 (tie) Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon, and Chris Wormley were first amongst equals on defense. Charlton had two insta-sacks. Gedeon ran over a running back for a sack of his own and had a Don Brown special TFL on which he crushed a guy five yards in the backfield. Wormley continues to crush all tight ends and had a sack that should not be possible.

#2 Jabrill Peppers did some defense things. He also should have had a punt return touchdown. He did have a 63-yard run on a broken play and two very easy wildcat touchdowns, one of which was supposed to be a throw. 

#3 Devin Asiasi popped out on a cursory rewatch as an absolutely mauling blocker; virtually very big run Evans had was facilitated by Asiasi blowing one or two dudes out.

Honorable mention: everybody!

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU), Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Peppers takes off for the huge run that opened the floodgates.

Honorable mention: Everything that happened after the first seven minutes.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

A bonkers Jabrill Peppers punt return is called back for an extremely dubious block in the back penalty. I mean, for real. They never give a number because in their great shame they forget everything including the name, but the only thing that seems even slightly plausible is Delano Hill putting one hand (one hand!) on a punt returner who falls over in sheer awe of Peppers:

The only appropriate statement in that situation is "sorry sorry I'm trying to delete it."

Honorable mention: N/A.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.

[After THE JUMP: winning with cruelty]

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