I Was Just A Balloon But They Stabbed Me All The Same

I Was Just A Balloon But They Stabbed Me All The Same Comment Count

Brian October 1st, 2018 at 1:20 PM

[Patrick Barron]

9/29/2018 – Michigan 20, Northwestern 17 – 4-1, 2-0 Big Ten

On the one hand you look at the spread and things like "opponent loses to Akron" and you assume that Michigan will have a comfortable victory. On the other, you are playing the Northwestern Wildcats, so things are gonna get weird. Dave brought up the recent history of this series on the podcast, and other than a 38-0 blitzing in 2015 it is Hall of Fame weird:

  • 2014: M00N
  • 2013: The Dileo Power Slide field goal gets Michigan to overtime, and is possibly the only last-second clock-running scramble FG to ever go through the uprights.
  • 2012: Michigan gets to overtime thanks to a Northwestern safety tipping the ball to Roy Roundtree with just seconds remaining.
  • 2011: Fairly normal.
  • 2008: The Fandom Endurance III game is played in conditions that are less sleet and more sideways ice knives.

That's the last decade of Michigan playing Northwestern. It is a nonstop barrage of Pat Fitzgerald pumping his fist until his head expands into a Thanksgiving Day balloon. Michigan scales the balloon to let the air out, sometimes gradually and sometimes all at once. In the post-game presser Fitzgerald's head keeps flopping to one side; he must testily re-seat it. His veins are inverted. He is not so much a hollow shell of a man but the very inverse of a human being, a creature of deflation. Nobody is to walk over to Pat Fitzgerald. Your space-time wavelength may intersect with his and cancel it out, leaving nothing but a ghostly jaw where once two people—one person and one deflation—were.

Nothing can cancel out Pat Fitzgerald's jaw.

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

I guess this season is all about mental calibration. Some way through the third quarter the Black Pit of Negative Expectations gave way to a feeling that stretches all the way back to Lloyd Carr: the Gray Pit of We're Probably Going To Win This Game Despite Starting Horribly Now Could We Please Hurry Up And Actually Do That. (Watch out for the GPoWPGTWTGDSHNCWPHUAADT t-shirt coming to a store near you.) This is a better feeling than the Very Black Pit of Oh God We're Going To Blow Another 18 Point Lead Aren't We.

Michigan did win the game, eventually. By the standards of Michigan-Northwestern it wasn't even that weird. Michigan outgained Northwestern ~4 to 1 after the initial blitzing and was only stopped by a boggling penalty and some boggling failures to use Ol' Murderface when short yardage loomed. Michigan ran into the line on first down and found itself in second and long; they converted that anyway. Nothing could be more traditional. Except also running into the line on second down, which Michigan did not do.

There were no last-second rescues by providence, no inexplicably organized portions of a Brady Hoke team pulling Michigan's ass out of the fire, no two-point conversions to finish our suffering either way. The only thing in question was whether Michigan was going to catch up before the clock ran out. Once they did things were more or less over; they could have played a second game immediately following the second and Northwestern would still be stuck on 17.

Squint and things look pretty good. Maybe that 20 looks like a 28. Michigan almost doubled up the opponent in total yardage (376 to 202) while blasting punts 50+ yards. You don't lose games like that unless you turn the ball over. I know Michigan almost did. We're squinting here.

Open your eyes back up and it's a three-point win over a team with previous ignominious demises at the hands of Duke and Akron. Your personal level of negative expectation will determine how much squinting you're going to do. I am at war with myself. On Monday two days removed I can look at the box score and Pat Fitzgerald's giant throbbing head and be relatively sanguine. Saturday, not so much. Future Saturdays will tend to slip into the black pit until such time as that decision is forcibly repudiated. At this point I don't think anyone has much control over it.

At least Michigan can inflict it, as well. When the game was ended, his quarterback in yet another heap of Michigan defenders surrounded by apologetic linemen, Fitzgerald spiked his headset into the ground and trundled across the field. Instead of a hand to shake he found a wall of Michigan players incidentally in his way. There was no way through. Eventually he veered to one side, disgusted, leaking helium from pin-pricks across his body. By the time he got to the locker room he was barely there at all.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Patrick Barron]

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

#1 Chase Winovich. Everywhere. His sack was a gift; his other two TFLs were +3s where he scythed through guys trying to block him and solo TFL'd in the backfield. Now the national leader in TFLs. Also living up to meme potential in pre-game.

#2(T) Mike Dwumfour, Kwity Paye, Josh Uche. Michigan's fresh-faced crew of sackists thrived in the absence of Gary and Aidan Hutchinson. Dwumfour forced more of the play than his teammates, creating both of Paye's sacks and getting one of his own, but also got blown out a couple times against the run. Uche ended he game with a textbook dip around the corner that looked like the offseason hype sounded. I like 'em both, and the other one too. One point each because the points are made up and don't matter.

#3 Will Hart. Last week: "Will Hart is gonna get on the board if Michigan ever punts six times in a game." This week: Michigan punts six times. Hart averages 51 yards a kick. Here you go, Will Hart.

Honorable mention:

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW)
4: 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: Shea Patterson(#3 WMU), Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Josh Uche (T2 NW).

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

Michigan scores to take the lead. Leading is good.

Honorable mention: A-gap Higdon gashes. Gentry sets up the final TD with a ball that just squeezes inside a DB. Will Hart punts! Various sacks.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Has to be the Worst Holding Call In The History Of Football:

That call caused one of just two three-and-outs after Michigan got it together and erased a Michigan first and ten from about the Northwestern 40 in the midst of four different scoring drives.

Honorable mention: Various failures to Mason. The entire first quarter.

[After THE JUMP: CSI: TOUCHDOWN]

Comments

MGoPodcast 10.5: Where's the Fullback?

MGoPodcast 10.5: Where's the Fullback? Comment Count

Seth October 1st, 2018 at 7:00 AM

1 hour and 32 minutes

We are once again at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown. The poster in the cover is the work of @CWReade.

The Sponsors

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we wouldn't get to do this for a living.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, and Lantana Hummus

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

1. Offense

starts at 1:00

Shea was shaky, couldn't find his receivers despite coverage sack-level time. Tackles mostly held up against the Gaz. We must be the only spread zealots who demand more fullback dives. Shea's legs are a Threat, got the Mitch Leidner throw down. Drops at inopportune times. That holding call on Higdon might be the worst holding call in the history of football. Section on Nico Collins.

2. Defense

starts at 33:11

Northwestern bunched their yards in the first quarter and didn't do anything else. Clayton Thorson was hitting small windows. Michigan get everyone's best shot. Kinnel was less solid this game. Dwumfour is still a bad run defender, becoming a useful pass rusher, could be a player next year. JUCHE! Chase Winovich is unblockable, but you should still try to block him.

3. Special Teams & Feelingsball

starts at 54:07

Will Hart is a Ray Guy candidate. Pooch kicks. Tacky blocks in the back. Redshirt counter. Game theory: now or never drive took its time. If you're going to line up to draw them offsides, snap it when they're offsides. All 4th down situations were good.

4. Around the Big Ten with Jamie Mac

starts at 1:09:57

How's the school of Dan LeFevour been reduced to this—MSU could have lost if CMU had even a decent MAC QB. Jamie doesn't like the second trip through Borgesland. Lol Frames Janklin, burning a chance to get the ball back to get in the world's worst playcall. Miles Sanders came down, PSU still giving up TFLs. Gus Johnson called Gaziano "The Gaz." The OSU comeback was 85% screens, they're not automatic to convert 4th and 1 anymore.

MUSIC

  • "Mama Said Knock You Out"—LL Cool J
  • "Help I'm Alive"—Metric
  • "Go It Alone"—Beck
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

I do love watching Pat Fitzgerald getting all pumped up and having to kick rocks after

Comments

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?

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

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

44848817331_be9f16189f_k

[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]

Comments

This Week's Obsession: Stock Up/Stock Down

This Week's Obsession: Stock Up/Stock Down Comment Count

Seth September 18th, 2018 at 9:42 AM

[Patrick Barron]

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: It’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. Nick is also a Podcaster—if you haven’t listened to it before, his podcast Finding True Wealth, he recently did a very helpful episode on retirement funding priorities that covered different types of IRAs.

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.

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

Nick's question:

So it's Big Ten Season, for a definition of that which includes annual games against Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers. Stock Up/Stock Down?

Our responses:

Seth: I'll start: Chase Winovich. Killin it AND has his own même.

BiSB: It's hard to be Stock Up from where Winovich started, but... I kinda agree.

Seth: It seems harder to run off his edge this year and they give him no edge help.

Brian: You're starting with a projected AA and saying he's stock up?

/giphy penalty flag

Well done giphy.

Seth: But... You agree.

Brian: I don't, this is what I expected from Chase Winovich. Including the meme. Dude is a meme machine. WILL HART is on this team people

Seth: Ol' Fifty.

David: Yes! YES! I was going to say Will Hart!

BiSB: Oh yeah, go ahead and put the jinx before the jump. Thanks, man. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.

[After THE JUMP: no, we can't.]

Comments

Return Of The Baw (oh my god)

Return Of The Baw (oh my god) Comment Count

Brian September 10th, 2018 at 1:49 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

9/8/2018 – Michigan 49, Western Michigan 3 – 1-1

Booing used to be a cause for Mad Online battles between booers and non-booers. Gloves were removed and slapped across e-faces as various wings of the Michigan fanbase challenged the very heart of others' fandom. Devastating ripostes flew into REPLY fields. Knuckles cracked in anticipation of the next bombing run against the uneducated heathens on the other side. The forest veritably quaked in response to the raw energies exchanged.

These days Michigan perpetrates a false start on their first drive and runs into the line a couple times and punts and the boos rain down with 13 minutes left in the first quarter of an eventual 49-3 win. They'd already gotten a first down and everything.

The fanbase is testy, folks.

It is our unfortunate fate to know this pattern intimately: you get a year, maybe two, of merciful silence around you. Then the sort of people who Yell Things To Their Section start yellin' em. It didn't take long for those guys to reveal themselves in this game; the depressing moment when you realize you are surrounded by people who are just going to keep saying things like that was a shock and then not at all a shock. The sea done changed. Hooray for that again.

The subsequent demolition of a very bad Bronco team could dampen but not eliminate them. In every football game a little derp must derp, and this was no exception. Josh Metellus got a penalty for flinging a WMU player to the ground a couple steps after both had left the playing field and BAWWWWWW GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME THIS HAPPENS EVERY WEEK METELLUS (it does not but don't say anything). Shea Patterson overthrows Sean McKeon in the endzone and BAWWWWWW I THOUGHT YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SOMETHING (Patterson had been disrupted on the throw but don't say anything).

And so forth and so on. MLive's cheap content idea after a 49-3 win was rounding up BAWWW tweets. (Their game column's title: "For at least a week, Michigan football quiets the critics." False, good sir. False.) A Maize and Brew takeaway was bitching about the gameplan(?):

Michigan won the coin toss and elected to receive, something I am usually NEVER okay with. But the Wolverines took the field on offense first and tried to flex their muscles in the face of an inferior foe.

Instead they did the opposite. After a quick completion to Zach Gentry from Shea Patterson for a first down, the Wolverines got conservative yet again (SHOCKER!) ...

Harbaugh has always been a guy that wants to establish the run game. But the run game was established by the end of the third drive. At that point, why not let the ball loose and see what can happen?

God knows what would have transpired if this game was anything like last year's outings against teams with triple-digit S&P+ rankings. The collective BAWWW would have set off seismic detectors across the state if Michigan had entered the fourth quarter up 24-14 or 19-13, as they did against Cincinnati and Air Force last year.

They did not. And there is a little something there. Shea Patterson can do things, things outside the realm of a Forcier. Michigan can grind very bad defenses into powder while limiting Patterson's exposure to 17 attempts, maybe half of which demanded even a semblance of pass protection. It is possible to squint and see the outline of a functional offense; last year squinting just made the tire fire blurry.

None of that is going to calm the BAWWWW brigade or our internal, censored BAWWWW, but keeping it relatively caged for a week is nice. Relatively nice. Better than last week, at least. BAW!

AWARDS

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

29617478837_e48feb2328_k

[Bryan Fuller]

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

#1 Karan Higdon. 12 yards a carry is good. Higdon slashed to the backside on a couple of cuts, broke several tackles, and jetted past safeties for those yards. While they were there, they weren't free.

#2 Rashan Gary. Mostly because this happened:

This game was strange in that—aside from a couple of guys who were the beneficiaries of WMU defensive largess—everyone got one or two shiny things and nobody stood out without a detailed film review. Since Gary is operating in the above context he gets the nod for the defense on a dominating day all-around.

#3 Shea Patterson. Just 17 attempts but slick on most of them and mercifully detonated that WR TD stat just before it hit critical mass. Throws balls to open people well downfield, which is delightful. Had the one bad Mallett moment when a rollout was defended very well and he tried to chuck it away; was otherwise as promising and you might have hoped pre-season.

Honorable mention: Chris Evans put it on 'em, Ben Mason PUT IT ON 'EM, everyone on the defense was approximately equally good as Gary except they were never triple teamed, and Will Hart also PUT IT ON 'EM. I wanted to slot Hart in at #3 but he only had three punts. Alas. (But not alas.)

KFaTAotW Standings.

3: Chase Winovich (#1 ND), Karan Higdon (#1 WMU)
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU)
1: Devin Bush(#3 ND), Shea Patterson(#3 WMU)

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

Nico Collins runs by a bad safety who set up at like six yards for an easy post touchdown, which you may have heard was Michigan's first WR touchdown since April 16th 1925.

Honorable mention: Most of the rest of the game. Karan Higdon's first big chunk and 69-yard TD stand out. Patterson's sideline throw to Martin. Patterson's corner route TD to DPJ.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Quinn Nordin misses a 40-yard field goal. I get nervous about kickers, shut up.

Honorable mention: False start and a couple uninspiring runs help set up a first-down-and-out first drive, causing audience consternation. That is literally the only thing I can think of.

[After THE JUMP: Garrett Rivas.]

Comments

Preview 2018: Special Teams

Preview 2018: Special Teams Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2018 at 4:57 PM

[Bryan Fuller]

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Tackle. Interior Offensive Line. Defensive Tackle. Defensive End. Linebacker. Cornerback. Safety.

Depth Chart

Kicker Yr Punter Yr Kickoffs Yr Punt return Yr Kick return Yr
Quinn Nordin So.* Brad Robbins So. Jake Moody Fr. Donovan Peoples-Jones So. Ambry Thomas So.
Jake Moody Fr. Will Hart So.* Quinn Nordin So.*    Oliver Martin Fr.* Donovan Peoples-Jones So.   

Kickers can kick far, but not always straight. The punters cannot kick far, and not always straight. Donovan Peoples-Jones can field some punts, but not other punts, unless he can this year. It's special teams, people, predictions are for rubes.

KICKER: SOMEONE CALIBRATE BIG BERTHA PLEASE

Rating: 4, but maybe 5.

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this one is for the haircut [Bryan Fuller]

It all happened so fast with QUINN NORDIN. One day he was a promising redshirt freshman; the next he was already on Michigan's leaderboards for most 50+ yard field goals in program history. Around these parts we have what I call a "bet" and Ace calls "certainly an OSHA violation" where he has to get a Wild Thing haircut if Nordin hits two 50-yarders in one game. Because Nordin has—probably had at this point—that haircut.

We didn't listen.

The haircut whispered dark tidings like "hey maybe miss this one" into Nordin's ear and he listened enough to create a mid-season swoon severe enough for Harbaugh and Nordin to have a bit of a public spat after his third straight miss. "Hey! Make a field goal!" Harbaugh probably said, and Nordin probably said "That's what I'm trying to do!" in response, as one does. Then both said "DANGIT" at the same time and "JINX" at the same time three seconds later and everything was fine again.

Compounding the field goal misses were three missed extra points, one of which was going to be the way Michigan lost to OSU until they found a different way to lose.

The good news is that Nordin banged in all four of his attempts in the bowl game, including a 48-yarder, and finished the season 19 of 24. These days hitting almost 80% isn't an incredible feat, but it's still pretty good. FEI's Field Goal Efficiency Metric, which takes distance into account, ranked him 25th in D-I.

Having expectations for kickers is a rube's game but let's be rubes: the heart of a wide distribution here is another season exactly like the one Nordin had with maybe one extra point miss. And maybe one absolute bomb from halfway across the state. Here's the bit where the spring game field goal goes:

Good from 70. Easy.

FWIW, Michigan did bring in JAKE MOODY as a grayshirt. He got a scholarship this fall after some attrition but is probably on a first-come-first-serve basis until he gets a starting job. Moody has a giant leg himself, with three field goals of 55+ yards last year, and unlike Nordin he got to use it. His 39 field goals is a state record.

Since the James "Doug" Foug  tactic has been nerfed by the NCAA—you can now call a fair catch inside the 25 on a kickoff and it counts as a touchback—the play on kickoffs is to blast them out of the back of the endzone. Moody seems like a good candidate to do that, and good backup plan if Nordin has a full #collegekickers meltdown. Which is unlikely. But, I mean... yeah.

[After the JUMP: aaargh you punt the ball farther than that]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 29th, 2017 at 12:35 PM

37245243012_928a3809b1_z

in need of a prospecting name [Fuller]

Formation/Substitution notes: Only change of note is subbing Kekoa Crawford out for Ambry Thomas on kick return. Crawford was the deep man for the first two returns of the game, both of which went out of the end zone. Michigan then inserted Thomas to start the third quarter. Timing is a bit odd considering Crawford didn’t have a shot to return the first two kicks before ceding his spot, but there’s a chance he can earn it back considering how the third-quarter return went. More on that later.

It’s not a substitution, but Brad Robbins’ redshirt is gone and Will Hart’s on the bench. Robbins did an excellent job getting distance and hangtime on his punts. It’s hard to tell whether they just drifted or were intentional, but it seems more likely that Robbins executed two directional kicks—Hart’s bête noire—in the second half. All told, it was an excellent debut for the touted freshman.

Other than that, Michigan would often hold three guys in a zone short of the sticks on punts. This was a smart decision and likely something Michigan picked up on film, as Purdue was frequently motioning out one of the members of the shield wide. The only all-out rushes were when Purdue was punting from inside their 10-yard line. They also went safe on Purdue’s lone field goal.

vlc record 2017 09 28 09h37m05s Michigan vs Purdue 1st Half mp4   YouTube

Makes perfect sense considering Purdue’s Brohminess and where the ball is located.

[After THE JUMP: Robbins’ new gig; roughing vs running into the kicker; and Foug, god of hangtime, ruler of return teams]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Air Force Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 22nd, 2017 at 10:04 AM

36451808573_7d08d42ae9_z

gone [Upchurch]

Substitution/formation notes: As far as I could tell, coverage and return units featured the same personnel as they did against Cincinnati. The most noteworthy non-change was Donovan Peoples-Jones as punt returner—more on that after the jump.

Michigan’s formations were the same as they’ve been, but they brought pressure on punts and field goals infrequently. Earlier this week Chris Partridge said that they try to limit instances where they bring everything to keep the defense guessing. When Michigan doesn’t bring pressure on punt return, sometimes just one guy will release toward the shield, and even then he will sometimes stop and peel back before hitting the shield. On field goal defense, Michigan only brought pressure from one side and had Lavert Hill step to the line and hold on the other side. As close as the game was, Michigan decided not to gamble. Thanks to Donovan Peoples-Jones, that worked out.

[After THE JUMP: don’t have to bring the house when you take it to it]

Comments

Air Force Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Air Force Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 17th, 2017 at 11:50 AM

36866167650_70d56faa7d_z

[Upchurch]

Red zone: how much of a concern is that that you aren’t getting more touchdowns in those opportunities?

“I thought both teams played really good red zone defense today. Good. We had the right calls on at the right time, pushed them back out of the opportunities to score touchdowns and they held the line as well. Hats off to both teams for really good red zone defense.”

Talk about the challenge of having to switch gears on defense for a team like this and how your guys responded defensively.

“I thought we responded really well. For the most part, with the exception of a few drives. I thought we shut them down well and I thought we won all three phases. They play a brand of football I really like, which is you just keep jabbing away and you don’t make mistakes, you don’t turn the ball over, few penalties, and you get first downs… push the opponent back in field position. They make you go beatcha. They don’t beat themselves and it’s a good brand of football. Our team was able to make plays offensively, defensively, special teams was a huge factor in today’s ball game.

“Donovan’s punt return was fabulous. Our kickoff coverage was excellent all day, and right on down the line. Punt protection was really good as they were bringing 10; we got the all-out rush and we were able to block it up. Each phase. And the standout was Quinn Nordin and the snapper, Cheeseman, Garret Moores, the holder—that whole battery. And the field goal protection was outstanding. Tied a record, Michigan record, for most field goals in a game. Really proud of the way our special teams played. Offensively, defensively, special teams: thought we won all three phases.”

Rhythmically, where do you see the offense going and specifically with Wilton and Donovan, looked like that could be a connection. How do you assess that?

“Yeah, it was good to see Donovan go and make a big play offensively. Made the big play special teams-wise, so great to see him a factor in the third game of his freshman year. Just terrific. Like Tarik has done, one of those freshmen that are playing in their third ballgame and are huge factors in where we are, 3-0, and the ballgame we had today.”

[After THE JUMP: getting RPS’d, the kicking battery, jamming it in in the red zone, and how to use DPJ]

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