SPONSOR NOTES. You know one thing I appreciate about HomeSure Lending is that Matt is not a song designed to draw the attention of a child, and has never gotten stuck in my head for days on end, relating banal facts about the world around me. This may be happening to my brain right now, and is not a very good advertisement.
If you'd like to think about something other than washing your hands for once in your life you could call Matt and get some quotes for a home loan. The problem with this strategy is that Matt will get you your quotes so quickly that your respite will be brief. But then you can talk to him about football, which helps.
FORMATION NOTES. Nothing particularly unusual except for one tackle over play that was a waggle pass to Poggi. Purdue alternated between a 3-4 and 4-3 front but was also not weird in any significant way.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES. OL was standard save for a healthy number of Runyan snaps at right guard; after the game Harbaugh said those were more about Onwenu's endurance than his performance. Speight got the first three drives and was knocked out before the fourth, whereupon O'Korn came in. Brandon Peters got the final, uncharted drive.
Isaac was limited with a ding sustained late in the Air Force game, so Higdon got a plurality of the work until his fumble. Evans got most of the carries after that. Kareem Walker saw his first live action late. Fullbacks were the usual rotation between the seniors with one snap for Mason.
With Black out it was Nate Schoenle and Grant Perry who got most of the additional snaps. Perry played both inside and out in this game; DPJ got his fair share but didn't get targeted as much as many folks want. Crawford was still the most-heavily deployed WR. TE saw McKeon and Gentry get almost all of the targets and a clear edge in snaps. For Ty Wheatley that means he's playing with a cast on his hand; for Ian Bunting that is bad news. Eubanks got scattered snaps as well.
[After THE JUMP: my kingdom for an offensive line.]
is what someone says when they’re too polite to admit that they’re writing another
Draftageddon 2017: ASK FOR THE PANDA YOU GET THE PANDA Edition
This is Part IX (the penultimate of this year). We are drafting Big Ten players to give you an overview of the guys and dudes around the conference, and to learn them ourselves. You’re along for the ride, and if you want to get off we use the same lead image every time so you can do that.
THAT WHICH HAS ALREADY OCCURRED
click to read
BiSB is on the clock and has no outside receivers, so he’ll take another slot.
BiSB: ROUND 21, PICK 1: KJ Hill, WR (OSU)
Off: QB Brandon Peters (UM), QB Clayton Thorson (NW), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), RB Ty Johnson (MD), WR DJ Moore (MD), WR K.J. Hill (OSU), TE/WR Mike Gesicki (PSU), G/C Billy Price (OSU); G/T Beau Benzschawel (UW), G/T Ryan Bates (PSU), G/T Ben Bredeson (UM)
Def: NT Bryan Mone (UM); DT Conor Sheehy (UW), DE Tyquan Lewis (OSU), DE Chase Winovich (UM), LB Tegray Scales (IU), LB Jason Cabinda (PSU) CB Rashard Fant (IU), CB Derrick Tindal (UW), S Godwin Igwebuike (NW), S D’Cota Dixon (UW)
I'm hitching my wagon to [OSU’s nepotismo WRs coach] Zach Smith. I may have gone mad.
Last year was the first year under Urban Meyer that Ohio State hasn't had at least a relatively reliable and productive traditional receiver; Curtis Samuel had over 900 yards, but no one else had more than Noah Brown's 402. Brown is gone, leaving K.J. Hill as the leading returning wide receiver (not counting TE Marcus Baugh). Hill's small-sample numbers were good; his 10.9 yards per target led the team, as did his 75% success rate. Bill Connelly had him as the 5th best freshman wide receiver in the country.
It's a bit of a crapshoot, as there are a number of talented wide receivers waiting in the wings in Columbus, including Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Terry McLaurin. But Hill is a versatile guy who can play outside, in the slot, or at H-back, and he's the most productive guy they've got. Odds are he'll get enough touches to make it worth my while. And if we subscribe to Brian's "Freshman Receivers Suck" theory, Hill is primed for a breakout sophomore campaign.
On the other hand... Zach Smith.
[AFTER THE JUMP: A shutdown fullcast about draftageddon then 11 more picks, then people bitching about draftageddon in the comments. At least this one is guaranteed to get you excited about Michigan football]
11/5/2016 – Michigan 59, Maryland 3 – 9-0, 6-0 Big Ten
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.
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.
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.
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.
#3Taco 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.
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.
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.
The reason we can put out so much audio content now is it’s paid for. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and Ryan and their people have been huge MGoBlog supporters from the start.
Breaking NCAA’14. Rudockening update: should Speight be in the Heisman conversation? Somebody sent a lot of bear hug film to the league office: Illinois appreciates the solid. ASIASI-ASI! Butt passed Mandich. Khalid Hill needs to start taunt-tweeting.
starts at 25:29
Fix tunnel screen defense, Stribling’s tacking and McCray in space seem to be the holes in this defense. Hill had a great game not even counting two gift interceptions. Hurst on the second line is like Datsyuk on the second line. Medical redshirts.
Special Teams and Gimmicky Top Five: Favorite Irrelevant Plotlines of this Season
starts at 39:16
Michigan didn’t punt, perhaps because that would only get Man at Pro Football Focus Whose Family Was Murdered By a Punter’s wrath to turn on Michigan’s all-three-phases man. If Jim Harbaugh was in jail, would he read the entire dictionary?
Talkin Big Ten with Interrupting Ja—
Michigan State loses with dignity to Jeff George Jr. When holding calls are turned back on Smoot isn’t blockable by MSU OL. Iowa’s checks are too easy to pick up; Hawkeyes have punted on 14/21 drives in last three games. Joe Moorehead seems like a good hire for Penn State, who could be a New Years Day Six team. Indiana shot themselves in the foot repeatedly to keep Rutgers in it.
starts at 52:43
Glad Armstrong is okay. Curtis Samuel is gang good.
SPONSOR NOTES: I was struck when we were hanging out at the Bo Store that it was very cool that some of our main sponsors were very much like us: small businesses in the Michigan community run by guys who are just dudes, you know? I like to think that UGP and Homesure are the MGoBlogs of their respective fields: small, detailed, involved, pantsless.
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.
FORMATION NOTES: Illinois loaded the box the entire game, usually in an over front
They played with one safety exclusively and had 8 or 9 in the box depending on whether M was in a big formation or not.
Michigan didn't have anything too weird except a slightly modified T:
This was one play only. Oh, right, and TRAIN.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Starting line of Braden-Bredeson-Cole-Kalis-Magnuson went most of the way, getting 66 snaps each. The backup line now reads JBB-Runyan-Kugler-Onwenu-Dawson, FWIW. Ulizio got bumped by JBB, must be primarily a tackle.
Butt got the most snaps of any skill player with 56, and Asiasi wasn't far behind with 41. Wheatley had his most extended playing time in a while with 31 snaps; Bunting returned on a single snap. With Perry out the main beneficiary was Kekoa Crawford, who had 35 snaps; Chesson had 33 and Darboh 44. McDoom had his usual deployment.
Poggi and Hill again split snaps about down the middle.
I hope you lashed yourself to the deck before reading this collection of tweets.
A coaching carousel on deck. At the midway point of the season it's looking like this could be an interesting December:
Les Miles is already gone from LSU.
Brian Kelly is 2-4 at Notre Dame, is definitely losing to a service academy, and is unlikely to make a bowl.
Charlie Strong is running out of rope at Texas, now 2-3 and 0-2 in the Big Twelve while playing horrendous defense.
Baylor still needs a long-term coach.
Oregon is 0-3 in the Pac 12 and may be thinking about pulling the trigger on Mark Helfrich.
Both LA schools have two conference losses already and sit at 3-3; wholesale collapse from one or the other isn't out of the question.
All of these schools will be pitching Tom Herman, and either all but one or all of them will end up disappointed. Once you get past Herman, up and coming candidates include... uh. Harbaugh acolyte Willie Taggart's turned USF around, PJ Fleck's itching to move up for anyone who's a boat enthusiast, and that's about it. Gonna be some weird guys getting head coaching jobs at major schools this offseason.
The situation in East Lansing. It's not good if you're a Spartan fan, but you're not no matter how much you're scouring the RCMB for hilarity and then emailing me when Google naturally responds by popping up MSU ads on this here site. (You know who you are. You are legion.) So it is good.
Bill Connelly had a deep dive into the decline from a team that was technically invited to the playoff to one that S&P+ currently has at 20% to make a bowl game. I jokingly referenced it in the game column but it deserves some actually attention. The problems in approximate order of severity:
The OL is a "sieve." This has led to some ugly rushing stats ("85th in Rushing S&P+, 101st in rushing success rate, only 18 rushes of 10-plus yards (119th)") despite having LJ Scott, who I continue to believe is the truth. It is also getting Tyler O'Connor sacked a ton.
The DL is a nonentity, deep into the triple digits in sack rate and largely responsible for a rushing S&P+ that is just as bad as their offenses's. This was predictable to some extent since MSU took not one but two grad transfers on the DL in an effort to shore up their line after Craig Evans and Montez Sweat got booted.
It's an old team not likely to have a midseason turnaround as the youth gets their heads on straight.
The numbers figure to get a bunch worse next week, when S&P+ finishes whittling away the preseason projections that still make up a portion of their rankings. Without those projections MSU, currently 60th, would be 84th. Even now S&P+ has Michigan a 25-point favorite(!!!) on the road in East Lansing.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the season?
A couple more things about MSU. Their depth chart this week features an OR between their top three QBs. Also, instagram sleuthing by iSportsDave seems to indicate that Riley Bullough is out for the season. Or possibly another one of their linebackers.
Weekly fancystats love us update. Michigan is now 85%+ to win each game before OSU and an 18-point favorite against Iowa, the toughest remaining game before Football Armageddon II. S&P+ sees that as a dead heat, with OSU getting a slight edge because the Game is in Columbus.
In other S&P superlatives, Michigan is #1 nationally in:
opponent success rate (at 19% Michigan is giving up less than half the number of successful plays than an average D-I D)
points per trip allowed once the opposition gets inside the 40
rushing defense, rushing success rate, and adjusted line yards
passing defense, passing success rate, and adjusted sack rate
standard down D, success rate, and line yards per carry
passing down D (they're top five in every other passing down category but not #1, shame)
third down D
The D is on pace to be historically good.
Ross Fulton on OSU's (relative) struggles against Indiana. OSU still won comfortably, but under 400 yards against a hurry-up team like IU is a sign that the Buckeyes are indeed mortal. Ross Fulton examines why that was so:
The simplest explanation for Ohio State’s passing problems was that J.T. Barrett was off. ... As he admitted after the game, he again refused to take the open underneath routes. For instance, below he does not get the ball to Curtis Samuel out of his break.
He instead tried to force mid-range passes. But such throws were often late and with too much velocity, leading to inaccuracy high and outside. ... The game became reminiscent of other contests where Barrett was off, such as Penn State in 2014 or Michigan State last year, when Barrett missed open deep throws. As Meyer reiterated in his Monday press conference, Ohio State’s offense is based upon running the football and hitting vertical shots off play-action. Without such completions, opponent safeties can play aggressively downhill, resulting in a lower rushing success rate and a less efficient offense.
Things went from bad to worse last year because Barrett was decidedly not off, hitting two heavily contested bombs. Even so, if Michigan can put the game on his passing chops their chance to win goes up a great deal.
The Romans at the Battle of Cannae, for example, were outsmarted and then completely destroyed by Hannibal’s Carthaginians. Rome’s armies took a full decade to recover. At the English victory over the French in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, the entire French army fell apart and the French king was captured. Significant parts of France would remain under English rule for nearly a century.
Michigan 78, Rutgers 0 is worse than any of that. At least the French could claim that they brought an army to Poitiers. At least the Romans can take pride in the fact they had a plan whatsoever, even if it was incredibly dumb. Rutgers could not do anything. It was immobilized through lack of competence. The closest historical comparison is the Battle of Ulm, in which Napoleon was able to capture a huge Austrian army simply through highly skilled movement over the course of three days. And even then, it’s hard to compare. It took Michigan three hours.
Yes, it's a very Northwestern piece. I can't wait for The Only Colors to write one through the lens of the greatest Jerry Springer episodes they've seen or participated in.
In an unprecedented foray into college sports, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that Northwestern University must eliminate "unlawful" rules governing football players and allow them greater freedom to express themselves. The ruling, which referred to players as employees, found that they must be freely allowed to post on social media, discuss issues of their health and safety, and speak with the media.
The new rules apply to the football programs at the 17 private universities that play in the FBS, including schools such as Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor -- but not public universities.
This is not a big thing right now but might open the door to more seismic items.