Outback Bowl Teleconference: Jim Harbaugh

Outback Bowl Teleconference: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 4th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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[Fuller]

“Yeah, on behalf of the 2017 Michigan Wolverines football team and the University of Michigan, we’re excited as heck to be coming down to the Outback Bowl. We all have—most of us, anyway, on the team—friends and family in Florida. We are excited about the competition in South Carolina and… hard football team. Been watching them a little bit and they’re tough. They’re really well coached.

“We’re excited about the New Year’s Day game on January 1st. I think it’s gonna be one of the most exciting January 1st lineup of bowl games that I’ve ever seen, so excited to be part of it and can’t wait. Know it’s going to be a lot of preparation our team will take up, get underway here this week.

“We know we’ve got to be better and that starts today and having a great matchup against South Carolina really helps motivate us to do that.”

What’s your reaction to the Big Ten getting shut out of the playoff this year and the decision to go with Alabama over Ohio State?

“My reaction is there should be more than four teams in the playoffs. Again, just to reiterate, eight teams, 12 teams, 16 teams—16 would ideal to be in the playoffs. It would make us more like every other spot, every other collegiate sport that has a playoff, every league in sports that has a playoff and a championship that does it through a playoff format.
“FCS, I mean, they have that format. It’s been in place. I think it’s up to 24 teams now and at that level I think it’s the ideal way to do it, so that’s my first reaction.”

I know you always talk about bowl practices as a way to catapult the team into next season but how much are you guys looking at this bowl game as more of maybe a way to validate the season for yourselves? There were a lot of variables this year: some injuries, three quarterbacks. How much are you looking at this game as kind of more just a validation of this season rather so much than catapulting into next season?

“I’d say both, Adam. Really building and attacking at the same time. This season and next season all at the same time. It’s both.”

If I could follow up real quick, just a few weeks or actually about a month or so of bowl preparation. How much more are you looking to see out of you team going into this bowl game. Is there another level that you feel you can reach that you haven’t reached in the regular season?

“Absolutely. We look at it right now, we’re not good enough. Not good enough to win all our games and we need to be better. We need to be good enough, and that starts now. That starts now, today. That started—well, really started last week, you know, as we go forward building and attacking, using our meeting time, using our training time, using our practice time, [and] this next ball game all to motivate us and improve as a football team.”

[After THE JUMP: Peters’ status (wrt the concussion and otherwise), Speight’s transfer, a Tarik Black update, and a discussion about better redshirt rules]

Goodbye: Wilton Speight (Will Grad Transfer)

Goodbye: Wilton Speight (Will Grad Transfer)

Submitted by Seth on November 26th, 2017 at 5:27 PM

Speight announced on Instagram tonight that he plans to transfer elsewhere for his 5th year

Thank you, Michigan. These past 4 years have been nothing short of spectacular. Enrolling in January of 2014 as a kid from Virginia i didn’t know what to expect. Four years later i leave a Michigan Man. The amazing memories with my teammates, playing under the best coaches in America, and enjoying everything that this wonderful university and town have to offer- what a ride. To the fans that stuck with us through thick and thin— thank you. To Coach Hoke for giving a kid with no offers a chance— thank you. To Coach Harbaugh for coming in and making me a better man and a better quarterback. For understanding this decision of mine and always having my back no matter what— thank you. I don’t know where next will be, and I’ll use these next four weeks to figure that out. i’m excited to keep pursuing my dreams in a new jersey, but will forever root for the boys wearing the winged helmet. Go blue!

A post shared by Wilton Speight (@wiltonspeight_3) on

Speight went from afterthought to quarterbacking the best Michigan team in a decade, toughing out a shoulder injury that couldn’t have been healed in time for Ohio State last year. His 2016 performance against Maryland stands as the best half by a quarterback in program history. Since Michigan fans live all over the country, once his eligibility expires I imagine Wilton will have a hard time ever buying a beer for himself again. We’ll be rooting for him wherever he goes.

Michigan also graduates John O’Korn but returns Brandon Peters and will have redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey plus two freshmen, and may look to add one more in the transfer market.

Wednesday Presser 11-22-17: Pep Hamilton

Wednesday Presser 11-22-17: Pep Hamilton

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 22nd, 2017 at 5:11 PM

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[Fuller]

How we doin’?

“Working at it. [/looks at SID] Give me the updates. What do I need to know? What’s my man’s name? No. 1 from our defense, he spilled some—Ambry. See, I didn’t even remember his name, so you know he’s not in the gameplan.”

Is this a double fake kind of thing?

“Alright, here we go.”

Is Brandon cleared for any kind of activity yet?

“He’s progressively getting better. He’s still in the protocol and we’ll know—it’s on an hour-to-hour and day-to-day basis where he stands, but, you know, he seems to be a lot better than what he was after Saturday.”

Is there a cutoff time where if he’s not cleared by a certain point then he won’t play Saturday?

“That’s coach Harbaugh’s decision.”

Any update on Wilton?

“Wilton, he’s been back out on the practice field and he’s looked good. Once again, that’s the head coach’s decision.”

Is it still a red jersey [non-contact] thing for Wilton?

“Yes.”

If it is John that has to play on Saturday, how do you feel that he’s—do you feel that he’ll be ready for that challenge?

“Yeah, I think he’ll be ready. It’s not like this is his first time playing. We’ve still got a lot of practice in front of us and it’s important that we go out and we have a few good days of practice and we’ll see where we stand.”

[After THE JUMP: the tea leaves, they are read]

Monday Presser 11-13-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 11-13-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 13th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Paul Sherman]

Can you tell us what you’ve seen from Wisconsin on film on both sides of the ball?

“Very physical team. Number one defense in the country right now. Very, very physical on offense. Very good quarterback, very good running back. Really good in the lines on both sides, and skill positions as well. Talented players and very tough schemes to prepare for.”

Do you have an update on Karan [Higdon] and his status?

“We’ll get more today but seems good. Seems like positive news and update.”

You talked about Wilton [Speight] last week. Is he getting closer? Do you think he’s going to be cleared this week for contact is that still up in the air?

“Right now he’s cleared to practice, and we won’t—we’ll avoid contact again this week.”

So Brandon will be your guy again this week?

“Yes.”

Update on Grant Newsome? How’s he doing?

“Been progressing well.”

Is Wilton probably going to sit out the last two? Have you made a determination on that?

“Don’t know. Don’t know. I don’t make that determination, that’ll be made by the doctors.”

[We don’t talk about injuries except when we do, and we do after THE JUMP]

Monday Presser 11-6-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 11-6-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 6th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Upchurch]

Cesar [Ruiz] had a couple lapses in pass pro but can you talk about how he run blocked and how he acquitted himself after you saw him on film?

“Yeah, really just the one in pass pro where he didn’t track the 3-technique. Thought the 3-technique was looping wide and got his eyes back inside. Yeah, the rest of the game he acquitted himself very well. Everybody on the offensive line, it was a memorable game for offensive linemen in this game.

“The other thing I was really impressed with with the offensive line and our whole offense was the amount of hustle. There was an early run with Karan [Higdon] and Cesar got up off the ground and was sprinting in pursuit. Mason Cole was sprinting in pursuit. It was a memorable game in terms of the effort and the hustle and the pursuit by the offense.

“The receivers, the way they blocked, Donovan had one of those decleaters in the game. Eddie McDoom had his most physical game in terms of blocking. Nate Schoenle was very effective as well. There was no loafs in the receiver group, you could say. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to catch passes, but their gray undershirts were still sweaty. They were really working hard to get the team to victory and it showed up in a lot of areas.

“It showed up defensively. The hustle, it showed up on special teams and yeah, really good play that way. Cesar was right in there. Just looked athletic, you know, getting up and chasing our backs down the field and trying to get in on the action and get the block, so very impressive.”

After you got a chance to watch the film and go back and re-evaluate, how do you think Brandon [Peters] handled his first start and everything involved. Obviously wasn’t asked to throw a lot but with everything involved, how do you think he handled that?

“Very well. He was very effective in the first drive and yeah, there was two throws he should have hit that came up short and that was my feeling after the game that we’ve got to keep him more loose during the game. Had a screen pass that could have gone really big. It was the one time we had three offensive linemen that not one of them picked up a block. I think it was a screen to Chris Evans that should have really gone, should have really busted out.

“But yeah, good. Could have hit a couple more, but nothing close to an interception. Nothing close to turning the ball over even though he took some big shots it the pocket. Thought he held onto the ball well and did the things to keep us from losing the ball game. Did the things to help us win the ball game. Know he can execute all throws, so feel good going forward.”

[After THE JUMP: Peters’ progress, Speight update, Ben Mason’s nickname, and the time to bounce]

Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines

Rise Of The Unverified, Voracious Machines

Submitted by Brian on October 31st, 2017 at 12:22 PM

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there's an onion article about this [Patrick Barron]

Funny how that works. Brandon Peters, rumored to be aloof and disconnected, is now a Cool, Even-Keeled Leader:

"Brandon's kind of always been the same, sort of even-keeled," senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said after Saturday's game.

"It's just Brandon. I don't think he gets too high or too low, and I think that's a good thing to have when you're a quarterback."

He is also studious and paying attention.

"He's been preparing since camp," Gary said. "I walk by the quarterback room, I peep in just to mess with him. He's in his books and he's paying attention.

"Just how he prepared, I knew when he got his chance he was going to do what he did (Saturday)."

After he throws an interception he will return to being aloof and disconnected, and then he will throw a touchdown with a steely nervelessness, and then he will take a sack because of the crushing ennui he endures in his day to day life, and then he'll have a third down conversion that shows mankind is doomed because robotkind is superior. Looking forward to it. Except for the part with the interception.

Congratulations to men's soccer. They're the Big Ten champs after a barn-burning final day that saw Michigan pass three other teams, including their opponent Maryland, with this double OT(!) Francis Atuahene goal:

They had four wins last year. Quite a turnaround for Chaka Daley. Michigan is 12th in the NCAA's version of RPI for soccer and might be in line for a first-round bye in the 48-team College Cup, depending on how the Big Ten Tournament goes. They will host Northwestern or Rutgers in a first-round game Sunday at 1 PM.

Michigan Soccer Now has more details; if you care about UM soccer at all you should be following them. Also here is the Daily's Kevin Santo:

Billy Stevens still hadn’t let go of the trophy.

Not when he got on the bus to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Not when he landed in Detroit. Not for the bus ride back to Ann Arbor, either. He said he couldn’t let it out of his sight.

And really, can you blame him?

A steady, sustainable uptick. BISB's been unable to Opponent Watch because sometimes his job strangles him by the throat but he did put together this little, encouraging graph of Michigan's line yards this year:

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At this point it's more about maintaining that number than continuing to improve it. Last year's #1 team in line yards was somehow UNLV with 3.8. Michigan is approaching an effective maximum. Michigan's surge has taken their rushing game up to 21st in S&P+, so Michigan now has three good to very good aspects (rush offense, rush and pass defense) and one terrible one (pass offense). The PSU game knocked Michigan's defense out of the top ten; they're now 15th.

Is there a Haters Gonna Hate ladder? This guy is in strong contention for greatest hater in the world:

"I tolerate everything except racists and Tom Brady" is strong work.

Exit Jim McElwain. I have never had a better take than "Jim McElwain's response to the shark thing proves he's going to fail." That is right up at the top of the Takes Nobody Talks About Because They Are Correct Board for one Brian Cook. McElwain failed and is now fired. Spencer:

Categorically, the best McElwain seemed capable of was mediocrity. That mediocrity came at a time when his competition locally was as weak as it could be, and when the University was more willing than ever to spend on facilities, brand-building, and all the other accessories needed to keep a program competitive and happy. Unlike his predecessor Will Muschamp, he got free rein in hiring the staff he wanted to hire. Unlike his predecessor, he had actual head coaching experience coming into the job. Unlike Muschamp, McElwain won the SEC East, and did it two years in a row despite losing a starting quarterback to injury in both seasons.

May the football gods be kind to Spencer and bestow him with Jeff Brohm.

The Purdue situation. You've probably already seen this but in case you haven't, Angelique Chengelis talked with Wilton Speight's father about what happened after Speight's frightening injury against Purdue:

“What an absolute train wreck,” Bobby Speight said of the experience. ...

“We take off with no escort,” Bobby Speight said. “We can’t get through because there are barricades up and (the van driver is) directing people to move them.”

They reached the Purdue University Student Health Center and headed downstairs.

“They take us in the basement,” Bobby Speight said. “It’s very dimly lit. Halfway down the hall, there’s a (radiology) technician. Wilton is in (partial) uniform and still wearing cleats, and she asks Wilton his name. The (van driver) says he needs an X-ray. (The technician) looks at me and says, ‘I need your insurance card.’”

Harbaugh's been to Purdue before. He couldn't have been surprised by what he found, probably because it was exactly what he saw back in the 1980s. He was clearly cheesed by the ham-handed response to the Speight injury, and used that as a platform to talk about the beyond-gamesmanship visiting locker rooms in West Lafayette.

Hockey continues recruiting. Three recent commitments of note. One is 1997 Jimmy Lambert, who will arrive in Michigan at 21. Usually this means a guy heading for the checking line but one of the scouting services thinks otherwise:

Lambert was supposed to head to Alaska Fairbanks this fall but changed direction after a coaching change. He had a PPG in the offense-mad BCHL as an overager last year and usually that means bottom six—Dakota Raabe is the same age and had a PPG last year—but I guess maybe not? I don't know.

On the other end of the spectrum, 2002 Cole Perfetti is a 15-year-old currently projected in the 2020 class who just committed. One OHL scouting service has him the #6 guy available for this year's edition of the OHL draft because he's a "shifty skater with extraordinary playmaking vision." (Commit Antonio Stranges, an "electric skater with game breaking one-on-one play" is #4, FWIW.) Also:

The "if" there is real, as any Michigan hockey fan knows.

Finally, Michigan picked up Jeff Cox's #1 uncommitted guy from one of the various youth tourneys he attends:

1. Joshua Groll
#52 Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 8/9/01, Shoots Left, 5-9/155

Groll was the best forward here. He has good speed, but he plays a smart and complete game. He has a sneaky release and is able to get a lot of shots off by being around and possessing the puck a lot. His puck support is strong and he makes plays.

Michigan now has a whopping 25 commits across four recruiting classes, 16 of them in the four months since Mel was hire. Eleven of them are tentatively slated to enter next year. Michigan loses six seniors, and probably only four guys pulling significant scholarship money (Niko Porikos and Alex Roos probably aren't getting much.) Attrition is always looming, and I'm sure Michigan has an understanding with a couple of kids who might get pushed out a year. That's still a lot of guys to cram in.

Trying to optimize a hockey roster without screwing someone over seems like the most difficult logistical challenge in the world today. Good luck.

Etc.: Clownshoes NCAA, take a number. Symbolic hats and the playoff. Higdon stuff. Questions about basketball.

Monday Presser 10-9-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-9-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 9th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

They said on the broadcast that Wilton had a couple broken vertebrae. Is he out for the year and can you comment on that?

“Multiple weeks. I don’t know that he’ll be out for the year.”

The vertebrae part is accurate though?

“Yeah, there’s some cracks in there. Yeah. And not a doctor, but think it’s similar to…yeah, I don’t want to say. Yes.”

After watching the film, would you have liked to have gotten the ball to Karan Higdon more? He was averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Should he have gotten the ball more, especially in the rain and the wind?

“Uh, yeah, he had—Karan played well.”

But no answer to my question?

“What do you—you want to question the play-calling? That usually is the case when something doesn’t work, so…”

But you don’t question that, how much he got the ball there or don’t want to with us?

“No. What I want to do is yeah, I want to look at the film, I want to learn from it. I’m not gonna get into questioning the play-calling.”

[SID calls on next person]

“It’s a very convenient thing, right? Play worked and hey, it was a great play because it worked. Play doesn’t work: would you wish you had done something else, had a different play call? Sure, that’s very easy to do. That’s a very—hindsight is 20/20.”

Just thought maybe there was something I was missing.

“That’s a standard question that when a play works, hey, great play call. You run a third-down draw against Florida and it works: hey, great call. You call a play that doesn’t work: would you wish you would have called a different play? That’s a very easy thing to do.”

[After THE JUMP: finding the offense’s identity, Indiana’s defensive standouts, and the final say on play-calling]

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 10-2-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 2nd, 2017 at 5:51 PM

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[Fuller]

Talk about the season Mike McCray’s having and really the career after having to bounce back from an injury-riddled start and really be one of your key players. Just talk about what he means to this team and this program.

“Elected captain by his teammates. Playing good ball. Been a sure tackler and been the quarterback of the defense—I hear it sometimes referred to a linebacker that way, signal-caller, et cetera. Just been steady. Been a real good football player.”

Opponents are averaging 3.5 points per games in the second halves of games against your defense. Talk about your staff in terms of the adjustments that they’re making in terms of what’s being thrown at them.

“Yeah, our defensive staff, led by Don Brown, they’re at the highest level in all phases, not just making adjustments at halftime. Game planning, teaching, all areas of coaching.”

What is Wilton’s status this week?

“He won’t be able to compete this week or for multiple weeks.”

Can you divulge what the nature of the injury is?

“Um…I think you can talk to Wilton about that or the doctors but yeah, he’s going to be out. John O’Korn will be the starter.”

[Hit THE JUMP to see which of Jim Harbaugh’s lists he forgot to bring to the presser]

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Purdue

Submitted by Brian on October 2nd, 2017 at 12:47 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR 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.

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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.]

This Week’s Obsession: QB1

This Week’s Obsession: QB1

Submitted by Seth on September 26th, 2017 at 11:01 AM

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: If you haven’t yet met the guy on the right, that’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. Since I made MGoBlog my career I’ve acquired a spouse, a house, and two kids, and a ton of questions about our financial future. IMG_2166-300x225

So I talk to Nick. In turn, Nick—who’s been reading this site since nearly the beginning—has a lot of questions about Michigan. So the deal is we go to him for financial strategies, and he gets to ask us Michigan questions. These we’ll answer in whatever format works: This Week’s Obsession, What Is, Neck Sharpies, Basketbullets, whatever. Anytime it’s a Nick question, we’ll let you know. Anytime you’ve got a financial question, let Nick know. And while you’re at it, if you also have Michigan question you’d like to be given the full MGoBlog treatment, well, Nick’s buying!

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

Nick’s First Question:

Does Michigan have a new quarterback?

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[Patrick Barron]

BiSB: This is a bit of an Allegory of the Cave situation. We only see a small fraction of the available evidence, and we see it with only a fractional understanding of what should be happening. The coaches have much more information about both of these guys, and they clearly thought - right up until the moment he was origami'd by that Purdue defender - was that Speight was better. So I don't think I'm even qualified to guess in this situation, though that has never stopped me in the past.

My blind-ass prediction is that he gets the start against MSU, and his performance in the first game or two determines what happens when Speight is 100%. Two things I will mention in favor of the premise of the dawning of the O'Korn Era. The first relates to a name that hasn't been mentioned much recently: Colin Kaepernick. Alex Smith missed a start because of a concussion, and he never got his job back. The second point, which is related to the first one, is that O'Korn has the kind of mobility that Harbaugh has traditionally enjoyed with his quarterbacks. If he can extend that mobility to include mobility in the pocket the way he flashed against Purdue, I think he has a good shot to keep the job.

[Hit THE JUMP to see what we see]