Eleven On Eleven

Eleven On Eleven Comment Count

Brian October 15th, 2018 at 2:04 PM

10/13/2018 – Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13 – 6-1, 4-0 Big Ten

Like anyone still standing after a 2-15 run against Ohio State, I have withered into a cynical-ass bastard more tree than man. We are the Michigan ents. The Ments. But even though this heart was long ago replaced by lignin, by God I felt it beat when Roy Roundtree and Denard Robinson popped up on the video board before the game. They talked about night games at Michigan Stadium in general. They also talked about one very specific game. I had feelings.

I did not know I had just been handed the most critical bit of the gameplan. Wisconsin did not, either. Wisconsin apparently did not know quarterbacks were, like, allowed to keep the ball. I feel like they should have known this. Even if they were completely unaware of the last 20 years of college football, surely their review of Michigan's game tape would tip them of that yes, occasionally the quarterback guy runs with the ball, and faster than you'd think.

Nope.

Patterson pulled twice more, once for a redzone touchdown and once for another chunk run. The last saw Wisconsin actually respect the idea of a pull, somewhat, but Patterson was able to outpace a wrong-footed Badger defensive end anyway.

Then the backups came in and things went from intriguing to bizarre and hilarious. Dylan McCaffrey is slashing inside a block and outrunning an All-American linebacker to the endzone! Okay!

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TJ Edwards is sad in the background [Eric Upchurch]

Joe Milton, who had approximately zero rushing yards in high school, is switching fields and outrunning the whole Badger defense to the other sideline! I thought this was Diet Coke, not Meth Coke! Who put meth in my Coke? Did you also give some to Paul Chryst? Ah that's fine then, good move.

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Michigan's season-long con took in both the Badgers and your author; now revealed, it resets season expectations. Harbaugh noted the impact it had on Wisconsin's run defense when they suddenly had to play 11 v 11:

Coach, you had two quarterbacks that were a big part of things as far as running the ball. Was that element added to this game?

“Yeah, it was big. Shea (Patterson) really got things going in the first quarter with the long run. And the touchdown run he had, he was — allowed us to stretch their defense, get all their gaps, make them cover — make them account for as many gaps as we could. So that was a gameplan well-executed.”

Michigan spent most of their short yardage snaps in this game in a two-tight-end shotgun look that had everyone in Michigan Stadium agonizing about the absence of Ben Mason, but aside from one bad decision from Higdon to press outside Michigan converted every time. Frequently this was accomplished by a running back cutting back behind Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who was paving his man, as a Wisconsin defender gave Patterson his newfound due.

Maybe I'd been primed by the pregame video, but I thought about Michigan's approach in Denard's other Notre Dame masterpiece, the one on the road: after a slant to Roundtree set Michigan up at the two on Michigan's winning drive, shotgun, QB zone stretch, easy cutback, TD.

Patterson's not Denard Robinson but he's certainly fast enough to demand someone account for him. When that gets combined with a mauling right side of the line and a rapidly developing whole, you get something. You get 320 rushing yards. You get nearly 240 of those in the second half. You get fourth quarter drives on which Wisconsin knows you're going to kill the clock and can't stop you on six straight runs; the clock only stops getting stabbed to death 40 seconds at a time because you accidentally score a touchdown.

With the mesh point suddenly a real thing, possibilities open up. Ends can't charge willy-nilly at the quarterback. You can make those token play actions into defense-crippling ones with the extra time that buys you—something that Ohio State just struggled to defend this weekend. The corner that Michigan could turn to become a juggernaut offense is there, shockingly in sight.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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JBB is almost out of this shot, which is good [Fuller]

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

#1(t) Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Jon Runyan Jr. Seriously. Not ironically. Not even in a throw-these-guys-a-bone sense. Patterson was iffy, Higdon fumbled, the defense didn't have a guy contributing except in scattered bursts: JBB and Runyan were the Michigan players most consistently helping Michigan down-to-down.

I don't think either gave up a pressure. JBB paved guys on a series of plays that cut to his side of the line; he was also the source of some of those zone stretch cutback runs. Meanwhile Michigan was usually running to Runyan's side of the line.

DOD was low with Wisconsin in desperation mode at DE, but I be like dang all the same. Both guys get three points because they're made up and don't matter and also this portion of the writeup is indeed me throwing them a bone.

#2 David Long. Both Long and Hill were avoided all night until the late Wisconsin TD drive when Hornibrook went after Hill's excellent coverage. Long didn't suffer those Mr. Tight Windows slings and arrows and was able to sell him twice on man coverage that turned out to be a trap—more below—that turned into a PBU and an interception.

#3 Karan Higdon. Did fumble. Did miss a hole or two. Also went over 100 yards and made some nice zone cuts; his ability was a major reason Michigan won a game in which they had four second half passing yards.

Honorable mention: The Spirit of Denard. Paul Chryst.

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW)
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin).
4: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland).
3: Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland), Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin).
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU), David Long(#2 Wisconsin).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Josh Uche (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland).

Who's Got It Better Than Us(?) Of The Week

That would be a game-sealing pick six. Alex Hornibrook has to be sick of watching Michigan defenders spear his passes with one hand.

Honorable mention: 81 yard Patterson run; McCaffrey touchdown; Interception #1; DPJ almost breaks another punt; Wisconsin roughs the snapper; various Paul Chryst punt decisions.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Wisconsin busts a jet sweep to tie the game and momentarily give people the willies about whether Michigan can stop this run game at all.

Honorable mention: The two stunning Winovich holding calls that didn't get made; Michigan's inability to capitalize on the first INT; ESPN having the Chainsmokers on to pick games instead of Denard.

[After THE JUMP: What are you doing, Turtle?!]

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View from the Sidelines: It's time to believe in Michigan's offensive line

View from the Sidelines: It's time to believe in Michigan's offensive line Comment Count

Ethan Sears October 14th, 2018 at 3:28 AM

By the time Lavert Hill took a one-handed interception into the end zone, ending Wisconsin in every way that didn’t involve a clock hitting zero, every question you had about Michigan coming into a game of this magnitude had already been answered.

 

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Michigan 42, Maryland 21

Michigan 42, Maryland 21 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 6th, 2018 at 6:25 PM

[Upchurch]

Deep in the fourth quarter, Michigan lined up from seven yards out in an offset I-form on first-and-goal. Fullback Ben Mason took his place as the deep back and Jared Wangler, the one-time linebacker, was aligned two yards behind Shea Patterson and offset to his left. Patterson took the snap, turned to his right, and faked a handoff to Mason while Wangler ran across the front, dipped inside a shuffling defensive end, and found himself all alone on the right side. Seeing Patterson rolled to his right while Wangler flattened his route and started running for the front corner of the end zone. Patterson hit him in front of the maize “N” in Michigan’s end zone scrawl, and a game that was marked by domination in all other box score metrics finally reflected that on the scoreboard.

Scoring out of a two-fullback set was extremely BIG TENNNN enough to justifiably grab the attention of Michigan twitter, but the catch was more than a novelty: it was a sign of what Michigan’s offense can be. The athleticism of Michigan’s fullbacks allowed them to play two at once without tipping run or pass, the offensive line gave the backs and quarterback time and space, Karan Higdon made smart cuts that helped keep the offense on schedule, the receivers brought in almost everything thrown their way, and the tight ends were Patterson’s go-to chain-movers. The Wolverines scored on seven of their 10 drives, including their final six.

With the exception of a flubbed kickoff that Ty Johnson took 98 yards for a touchdown, Michigan shut Maryland down, full stop. Maryland’s run game was a test for Michigan, particularly with the perfectly timed handoffs off of jet action that Maryland deployed; excising the 78 rushing yards Maryland racked up on a garbage-time drive down 28 points with four minutes left, the Terps rushed for 69 yards on 31 carries. 133 of their 220 total yards came in the fourth quarter, as did 101 of their 147 rushing yards. Maryland converted 38.5% of their third downs, which is only surprising because their average distance to go on third down was 9.3 yards and Brandon Watson's pick-six came on third down. The defensive standout today was the defense as a whole, though Tyree Kinnel, Devin Bush, Josh Ross, and Khaleke Hudson also get special mention for knowing when to fill and for holding down big gains; unsurprisingly, these four were Michigan’s leading tacklers.

[More after THE JUMP]

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Michigan 20, Northwestern 17

Michigan 20, Northwestern 17 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 29th, 2018 at 10:05 PM

[Fuller]

It’s not just that they came back to win, it's how quickly things turned in the beginning. Michigan had the braggadocio to take the ball after winning the coin toss; they were then hit squarely in the face, took a nasty shot to the body, then took another one to the face. These were not the kind of hits that come together over a long stretch to wear someone down. These were the kind that rock you to your core, that are designed to get you to pack it in and move on.

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Nebraska

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Nebraska Comment Count

Brian September 26th, 2018 at 4:46 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumbSPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). Food trucks, beer, TVs, and also those things. When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: A bit more balanced, with Michigan going shotgun (or pistol) on about 40 snaps and under center on the other 30. All murderback snaps were three TE ace sets:

mason form

Nebraska stuck in a 3-4 with their line shaded to the run strength for most of the day, frequently adding their strong safety into the box after starting him from the gray area.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Patterson, then McCaffrey and Peters at QB. No Milton, boo. At RB Higdon a clear #1, Wilson a clear #2, and Samuels sprinkled in on a couple carries before garbage time. By the middle of the third it was Samuels and a debuting Christian Turner. Mason got some run at RB, obviously. Jared Wangler got some backup FB snaps.

Collins and DPJ your primary outside WRs with a healthy dose of Oliver Martin, who stayed out there deep into the game. Ronnie Bell got a bunch of second-half snaps; Ambry Thomas got three total. TE the usual with maybe a little more Eubanks because of the 3TE sets and garbage time. Redshirt freshman walk-on Carter Selzer got snaps in the fourth quarter, which is a definitive statement that Schoonmaker and Muhammad are redshirting.

OL was the usual on both first and second units, except that Michigan brought in Andrew Vastardis at C after one drive and bumped Stephen Spanellis out to RG. Stueber and Paea got the last drive.

[After THE JUMP: down G over and over]

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I Ate My Own Heart Out Of Contempt For Your Feebleness

I Ate My Own Heart Out Of Contempt For Your Feebleness Comment Count

Brian September 24th, 2018 at 1:16 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

9/22/2018 – Michigan 56, Nebraska 10 – 3-1, 1-0 Big Ten

In the aftermath of an implausible beatdown there is always a race to identify the most emblematic stat of the day. I have participated. I have scoured the box score. I have consulted with the learned elders. This one takes the cake. Prepare thyself. Ensconce. All right: Adrian Martinez had 22 passing yards with a long of 32.

You rn:

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Those 32 yards came when a hunted Martinez hurled a 500 ball skyward that one of his receivers was accidentally in position to come back to. Michigan was one arm punt away from a statistic that would implode the fundamental nature of football. Alas.

At least they won? And Martinez finished with negative total yards?

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The strangest thing about a game like this is how the goalposts move in the middle of the first quarter. If Nebraska had been moderately feisty and the defensive tackles had been a major factor in a 3.0 YPC day from the Cornhusker ground game, we'd be talking about how they passed a major test against a couple of senior guards who Big Ten coaches thought were pretty good. Instead Michigan held Nebraska's top three backs to ten yards total.

Nebraska now proves nothing. It might prove something later, if the tough-luck Nebraska that outgained Colorado by 150 yards but conspired to lose thanks to Laviska Shenault making absurd plays re-emerges. If Michigan also continues looking like a juggernaut instead of the sad mess that took on Notre Dame, this game will be retroactively upgraded from "accidentally played another MAC team" to the turning point when the Warinner hit and the corner got turned.

For now this was the sort of game where your sack celebration is ripping out and eating your own heart, because nothing else is going to be a challenge.

Precisely calibrating exactly how much to take from an unexpected hamblasting of a Big Ten team is far more pleasant than many things you can do after a football game. But we have been here before. With the exception of last year Harbaugh's Michigan teams have paved lower-tier teams flat. This is good! This tends to fling you up very far in predictive ranking systems. Michigan is now 5th in S&P+, like they seemingly always are, and S&P+ is designed to tell you who will win football games in the future. Paving people flat is a characteristic of very good football teams that win many games and leave you with a rich satisfied feeling that we are assured is something football fans can feel after the conclusion of a season.

But because of Certain Events and Certain Circumstances Leading To Third-String Quarterbacks all that feels hollow even if you're gripping onto the random, bloody-minded universe theory with everything you've got. We've been taught that paving folks doesn't correlate with winning the games that might cause the most annoying people in the universe to shut up for at least three seconds. That's not rational, but it sure as hell is sports.

The goalposts are going to keep moving until someone, probably Devin Bush, tackles them and glues them to the floor. Michigan has one more friendly double-digit spread next week against Northwestern, and then we get to play the games that will determine your state of mind, and, perhaps most importantly, the tenor of the takes we will have to endure for eight months of barren, dumb offseason.

Have fun storming the castle! Or paving it! Please pave it.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Upchurch]

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

#1 Devin Bush. Bush's main accomplishment was getting up to nine tackles on a day where Michigan's constant rotation and Nebraska's inability to stay on the field spread defensive stats incredibly thin. Michigan's next highest tackler had four; 12 different guys had TFLs. Bush had 2.5 of his own, a sack, and got sideline to sideline to blow up Nebraska's perimeter run game. He is reaching the Mo Hurst level where he is so consistently excellent it's hard to find new talking points about him.

#2 Rashan Gary. Just a half of play from him but it was a monster half. He's got his own section below. Felt terrifying in the way we were hoping he would before the season.

#3 Karan Higdon. The holes were there for him. He took advantage. His power was welcome after some YAC struggles last week, and if he hits the open field he'll outrun a lot of angles. Also he was the only offensive player to, like, feature.

Honorable mention: Will Hart is gonna get on the board if Michigan ever punts six times in a game. DPJ had a punt return TD. The tackles didn't give up a pressure? Is that true? I think it might be. The 10 guys with TFLs not mentioned.

KFaTAotW Standings.

4: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU), Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska)
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU), Zach Gentry(T1 SMU), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU).
1: Devin Bush(#3 ND), Shea Patterson(#3 WMU)

Who's Got It Better Than Us(?) Of The Week

You gotta put some style points on it.

Honorable mention: The first half.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Khaleke Hudson is ejected on a dubious targeting call and will miss the first half against Northwestern.

Honorable mention: Injury worries for Gary, who was holding his shoulder, and Kwity Paye. Harbaugh passes on a potential program-record field goal. Four commercial breaks in the first eight minutes of gametime.

[After THE JUMP: Ol' Murderback]

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