The Rutgers student section by the 4th quarter
Author's note: All photos in this post are by me! I will also be attending the 2018 Michigan Rutgers game this weekend, follow me on twitter @BlueBarronPhoto for gameday photos -Patrick Barron
The Rutgers student section by the 4th quarter
Author's note: All photos in this post are by me! I will also be attending the 2018 Michigan Rutgers game this weekend, follow me on twitter @BlueBarronPhoto for gameday photos -Patrick Barron
This is a crazy update from Maizen's thread (here) now that we're at the end of the season.
The latest version of the report (linked here) is from a 247 article, with original info coming from Toronto Sun columnist John Kyrk.
I mean, yikes. This should at least raise some eyebrows.
Edit: Title was worded improperly. Please see the comments below for more information.
What is your favorite victory from the Harbaugh era?
I am going to go with the 2016 Capital One Bowl victory over Florida. Although many might say this was just a meaningless exhibition, I would argue against that.
41-7 over the SEC East champion, and paving the road for our future meeting versus the Gators this season. Harbaugh and staff had the team clicking on all cylinders in a very decisive blowout victory.
Although there may be more meaningful victories, this was by far my favorite game to watch,
My runners up
2015: Michigan 31 BYU 0
Michigan 38 Northwestern 0
2016: Michigan 14 Wisconsin 7
Michigan 49 Penn State 10
Michigan 78 Rutgers 0
Michigan 32 MSU 23
Thought I'd give some love to my local team while we're waiting for the bowl game. The University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, IN) won the NAIA championship last Saturday, beating Baker (Kansas) 38-17. Apologies for the potato-quality jerkiness, but when you're screencasting an ESPN3 stream you take what you can get.
I'm warning you up front, this is going to be like therapy for me. You want cogent analysis? Come back Monday for Brian's column. It'll be fantastic, I'm sure. This diary? It's going to be one big scream into the void.
Worst: What Do You Think?
I'm broken. I mean, not in a real sense: I'm a grown-ass man with two kids, a beautiful wife, a fulfilling career, and my health (largely) still intact. I don't have to worry about violent uprisings, disease, radioactive mosquitos, or alien invaders. In the grand scheme of things, I'm doing fine.
But in sports terms, I'm as broken as Jeff Jarrett's guitar. I guess I should be used to these types of games against OSU, but I'm not. Games decided by last-second stands, crucial penalties, and terrible officiating are the norm in college sports, but it's only "chaos" when your passive bystander; when it's one of your teams, it's heartbreak.
Initially after this game, I was full of piss and vinegar about the officiating. Even though I'd deny it in front of child protective services, I dropped a "fuck" in front of my two kids and in-laws the minute Samuel sprinted toward the sideline on the last play. I've seen this horror film play out a million times before, and the good guys never win. I accept that there will be uncalled holds and PIs in big rivalry games, even though you'd think human beings with pride would be able to call a football game consistently regardless of the context. But whatever.
And UM was not without fault; Perry roughed the punter by the letter of the law, and that Cole penalty was right even though the spot was questionable. Harbaugh had a right to lose his mind and he deserved a penalty for it, though I honestly don't think OSU was going to be denied on that drive after the second Speight interception.
But when an official is goaded into throwing a defensive holding flag because the crowd called for it, you get sick of it. Or when an extremely shaky PI is called on Hill even though OSU was basically mugging receivers all day, you get sick of it. Or when OSU, a team that gave up 8 sacks and 13 TFLs, somehow escapes without a holding call even though you see multiple OSU guards just sitting on Glasgow and Charlton and Wormley choked by tackles, you get sick of it. When, at best, it's a questionable call on 4th down if a player somehow got the first down on a play where he ran into the ass of the guy blocking for him (who looked like he was behind the line), and they don't even come out to measure it but instead scurry off to the replay system for a series of inconclusively bad angles, you wonder if the pie we call fandom is worth it.
Now, I should preface this all by saying OSU played well enough to win and UM played badly enough to lose. UM basically gifted OSU 14 points with their 2 interceptions. The first I put at least partial blame on the offensive playcalling; asking a QB on the road to throw deep in his own endzone, under a heavy rush, is asking for trouble. The second was all on Speight simply not seeing Baker and trying to throw a ball in tight coverage. For what feels like forever, UM couldn't consistently run the ball against Ohio State (they only had 100 yards on 40 carries if you throw out sacks), and in the second half they only had about 100 yards of total offense. Like they did against MSU and Iowa, the offense seemed to turtle a bit with the lead, unwilling to take too many risks but in the process leaving the defense out there to defend 46 plays in the second half. And in that 4th quarter, Barrett asserted himself running the ball and OSU had multiple opportunities to tie the game/take the lead. The fact they missed a couple of easy FGs absolutely mattered, and UM's defense failed to tackle Samuel prior to that 4th-down conversion despite having him dead-to-rights yards behind the line.
Yardage was about equal (OSU had 15 more in OT), and UM had a decided advantage in field position (their own 35 versus OSU's own 23). The time of possession was actually in UM's favor, though OSU holding onto the ball for about 11 minutes to 3 in the 4th is pretty telling, and UM was much better on third and fourth down than OSU (10/20 vs. 5/19). It was a close game where either team could win, and in the end, the analytical part of my brain can see how OSU pulled it out.
But I'm sick of that. I'm sick of OSU (and MSU and, weirdly, Iowa) pulling horseshoes out of their asses to beat UM. I'm tired of terrible officiating affecting games either way, the fact I can see a couple of these numbnuts stroll into frame and my heart immediately begins to burn because I know I've got another couple of hours listening to these guys screw up their jobs.
I'm tired of OSU being so fucking good, of being the class of the conference for what seems like most of my adult life. That UM was stuck with an aging Carr, an overwhelmed RR, and an incompetent Hoke while OSU had to deal with one whole year of Luke Fickell before Urban Meyer's heart started beating right again and he set down in Columbus. And they'll be good again next year, really f*cking good, while UM will be trying to replace most of their defensive line and secondary, plus basically all their receivers, offensive line, and leading rusher.
This isn't a rivalry anymore; it's a yearly execution. It's every scene in a spy movie where the hero is captured and the sinister doctor rolls out his various torture devices, except nobody escapes and it looks like an Eli Roth movie at the end. UM is 3 and 13 versus OSU since 2000, with 1 win in the past dozen years. We make fun of Notre Dame fans and their echo stirring about the past, but there's a whole generation of recruits who see OSU-UM the way we used to look at UM-MSU; one dominant team with a couple of close/fluky losses intermixed. Off the field, in the classroom, in the boardrooms, UM is an elite school that OSU can't touch, but when it comes to football, UM is a class below. Maybe Harbaugh turns it around, maybe Meyer gets bored/health reasons/scandal(s) and the tides turn, but right now I don't see a world where UM makes this any better than a 50/50 game in the best of years. I mean, this could well be the best defense in the school's modern history, a unit that basically swallowed up one of the best offenses in college football for 3 quarters, and they still gave up 30 points. And next year OSU will come to Michigan with senior versions of most of this team, probably shooting for another top-4 finish, and we'll do it all over again.
This despair you're reading, it's real. Call me a bandwagon fan, call me a whiner, question my faith, whatever. But this was supposed to be one of those years, and it ends yet again with a missed opportunity at a conference title and a bitter loss to OSU. Penn State, a team Michigan trounced by 39 points, and Wisconsin, a team UM choked out for 4 quarters and should have won by more than the 7 they did, will get a chance at a conference title and a playoff birth. Michigan will await their fate, likely going to some BCS bowl because they're a "good draw", and I'll cheer them on and write some 5,000-word diary after their game and convince myself 2017 will be a great year. But right now, in this reality, I'm settling in for a lot more of these games than I ever wanted.
Reddit is terrible, or at least exposes some of the worst traits of humanity. If you have ever visited its popular message boards, or seen a bunch of 60-something news reporters/pundits argue over "the internet", you have sense that it can often devolve into a stew of crass pseudo-intellectual debates, stark displays of basically anything terrible that ends with "–iny" or "-phobia", and sometimes outright threats of violence of "doxing". But I've been pleasantly surprised by the discussions over at the r/cfb domain, where game threads and breaking news typically feature thoughtful analysis and discussion from knowledgeable fans. You've got your trolls, but it's a place where people who really follow their teams will drop off nuggets of wisdom, and as someone who legitimately likes watching college football it's nice to hear about other programs beyond the talking heads on ESPN and a brief look at a box score.
But the one part of the subreddit that drives me insane is the tired-ass "saltiness" meme that pops when a team loses a close one. When you can't be creative or intelligent, or because you are likely quite young, male, and "digital", you call out anyone who disliked the outcome as super "salty" and incite mini flame wars. The issue with it is that it's a non-starter, a dead-end for meaningful discourse. And in the process, it casts all future debates in this binary model that all nuance and context is stripped away.
Jim Harbaugh came out and was "salty" with the media after this game, pointing out that the officials made some, at best, questionable calls/non-calls, and it sucked to be on the receiving end of it. And the response was the same mealy-mouthed bullshit you see nowadays, with reporters and fans saying it's a uniquely raw take by a coach but lacks "class" or is too "bitter", because pointing out consistent incompetence doesn't jive the with the usual PR-laced gruel these goobers are used to being shoveled. Nobody needs to hear Harbaugh sit there and say "OSU played a fine game, our guys fought hard, this is a great rivalry, blah blah blah" while Jim Delany wacks off behind the curtain.
I'm fine with Harbaugh trying to stump for his team, to say that they got a raw deal. He pointed out the numerous uncalled holding penalties MSU got away with in their game against UM; the next week, MSU is called for a bunch of them and the Illini pick up 10 TFLs and 3 sacks along with a dozen "pressures". I understand refereeing a game is extremely difficult, but at the same time a bunch of janky 50- and 60-year lawyers trying to keep track of college kids moving as fast as Olympic sprinters is a recipe for bad results. Technology has made it easier for fans to see when referees mess up, and instead of using the tools available to improve the overall product and how officiating is done, the leagues have doubled-down on obfuscation and confusion to cover these flaws up, figuring that if nobody knows what targeting, pass interference, or "control" of a catch is, they'll be golden.
A wonderful reminder that football’s tool of measurement is some shit your dad put together with what he had in the garage.
— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) November 26, 2016
So yeah, tell it like it is. You've got the money, so pay the inevitable fine and point out that the old men who keep wanting to see their faces on TV are fucking up some games for you. And throw in a little something else to drive the point home.
Best: The Defense, Again
They really deserved to win this game. Going into the fourth quarter, OSU had 153 total yards on 51 plays. They had held the ball for a total of about 18 minutes, and were under 100 yards rushing for the game. But you give OSU enough chances, enough 3-and-outs by the offense (UM had exactly 9 offensive plays in the 4th quarter), a bad PI on Hill to keep that final drive alive, and you are bound to break. Before OT, UM's defense had given up 10 points to one of the best offenses in the country, and even the one TD was set up on a super-short field after the interception and all of the penalties. I read a couple of people call out Don Brown as overrated for not stopping OSU in the 4th quarter, but at some point you'd expect your offense to put some more points on the board and give you some breathing room. OSU's first drive was for 72 yards, and their final 2 of regulation were for 61 and 77. In the middle, OSU had 10 real drives for a total of 106 yards, and that includes penalty yardage. Any other game, UM is winning this game comfortably, maybe even laughably.
The defensive line was again dominant. 8 sacks on Barrett thoroughly rattled him, and even with his runs in overtime Samuel was mostly held in check. Mike Weber could barely get going on the ground, and no Buckeye receiver had more than 40 yards receiving. Barrett looked rattled throwing the ball all day, but he rushed the ball 30 times and had one huge 41-yard run that flipped the field late. He still throws the ball terribly under pressure and seems to have regressed a bit in that department under Meyer, but he's terrifying in college and (ugh) will be back next year in all likelihood.
I thought Glasgow and Charlton were as dominant a pair against OSU as I've seen in my life. Charlton ate up whomever OSU sent up against him; he had 2.5 sacks and probably should have had a couple more. Glasgow was consistently pushing into the backfield, giving Gedeon and McCray even lanes to fill. And there was a series toward the end of the 3rd quarter where Glasgow was just being tackled on every snap and he was still forcing Barrett to bounce around. Wormley was mauling guys as well, and even though he was tripped by OSU's guard I think he was the one responsible for Barrett's pick. Gary also had a fantastic play in the second quarter where he beat two blockers and surprised Barrett in his endzone, nearly causing a safety.
The secondary was splendid as usual. Lewis was beat on one play, Stribling might have as well, and that was about it. Peppers got his first pick, and Hill was absolutely boned on that pass interference call in the 4th. He played a great game otherwise. You could tell OSU wanted to exploit the linebackers in coverage and I thought both McCray and Gedeon acquitted themselves well; there weren't too many breakdowns and McCray even picked up 2 PBUs.
This defense should still be good next year, but this was special unit. They'll be littering NFL lineups for years going forward, but it sucks seeing a really good effort coming up just short in a game like this.
Best: Speight Playing
You want a hot take? I think Speight played pretty well in this game. OSU has a great secondary and enough young talent up front to give passing games fits. Speight missed last week and clearly was still a bit injured in this game, and yet he completed 64% of his passes for 219 yards, 2 TDs, 2 picks, and a respectable 6 ypa. Yes those picks led to 14 points, and his fumble delayed a UM TD, but (a) he was the whole offense for most of this game, (b) the playcalling and offensive line did him no favors at times, and (c) his receivers were being manhandled at times. I mean, he had a ball to Chesson (?) where two OSU guys tackled Jehu before the ball seemingly got past the line of scrimmage. Multiple times you'd see a UM receiver basically carrying an OSU corner on his back, including on that fateful 3rd-down in the second OT. He was only 50% in the second half, and too many drives ended with incompletions to survive on the road. But he also completed a great pass to Darboh in the first OT on 4th down, and had PI been called on the next drive might have scored again. He wasn't amazing, but considering what were the alternatives under center, Speight deserves a lot of credit for his play.
Worst: The Second-Half Offense
I know above I said the offense turtled in the second half, and that's maybe not the best term, but it's weird seeing a Harbaugh offense just close up shop with a lead. I got it somewhat against MSU because that was a game UM had in the bag, but 10 points against OSU is nothing, and expecting your defense to shut down the Buckeyes for 4 quarters is a near-impossible task.
I'll miss Peppers for his dynamic playmaking, but it was like setting downs on fire every time he came into the game; if there was some special plan for him, some trick, I hope they aren't saving it for the bowl game. The offensive line struggled to get much push, and as everyone sort of expected before the season, settled in as "okay" as a unit. Against most teams that's enough, but against OSU you need to be able to consistently get a push up front, not 2 yards a carry. Speight wasn't sacked an immense amount, but he was under pressure and getting hit semi-frequently, and other than Smith none of the packs could get any traction running the ball. Chesson almost broke a couple of sweeps, but the longest play from scrimmage for UM was a 22-yard reception by Butt, and expecting to just march up and down the field against OSU's line wasn't in the cards today.
Darboh had some great grabs, and both Butt and Perry had their moments. This is another unit depleted by graduation; here's hoping they have a couple of guys emerge to take their places, or else this offense is going to struggle even more against the better defenses in the league.
It wasn't a terrible offensive performance by any means; again, this isn't a unit talented enough to steamroll good teams on the road. Maybe OSU downloaded UM's playcalling a bit, but in the moment it didn't feel like they were doing all that much different. The second half was just disjointed, and maybe on a second watch-through it would be more obvious. But UM let themselves get slogged down in that second half, and if they have any hope of winning games in this series they need to figure out a way to overcome this malaise.
Best: Kenny MF Allen and the Best Damn Holder in the Country
Kenny Allen was fantastic all day. He made his FGs, consistently pinned OSU back in their own redzone (5 of his 7 punts were inside the 20), and was a major reason UM enjoyed a significant field position advantage. Again, it's killing me looking at these stats and realizing UM blew them all. But whatever, Allen was the boss and whatever #collegekicker thing that went on in the middle of the year is long gone. And Garrett Moore had a great recovery of an errant snap for one of Allen's kicks, which should definitely be added to the highlight reel. And while kick returns were minimal, Peppers had a great kickoff return that set UM's first TD.
Next Game: TBD
We'll know in a couple of weeks. It'll probably be a good bowl. Yippee.
Good evening, ladies and gentlement of MGoBlog.
As you may or may not have noticed, I have been absent from the wallpaper scene this year for the most part. I've been extremely busy with both work and life and haven't had some of the free-time to do wallpapers like I would like to. Well, this week I was sent to Kentucky for work and so I have had some evening free time - so you get a wallpaper from me for "The Game." Ok, enough stupid filler "me" content, and on to the wallpaper content.
I'm constantly struck by how much of Bo is in Jim Harbaugh. I think some of it is fabricated by my mind and others in the Michigan fanbase, but I also truly believe Bo had such a lasting impression on Jim that he tries hard to emulate Bo in many areas of coaching. For this week's wallpaper, I went with the sentimental approach rather than the "Beat Ohio" chest-pounding. While I love to talk trash about Ohio State, they are not who I am focusing on this week - focusing on your rival is for little brothers. I am focusing on The Game, and on Jim Harbaugh, and on Bo - all things that make Michigan that much more MICHIGAN in my mind.
There's no way I could know this, of course, but I like to think that Jim can hear his old coach giving him advice while he roams the sideline, grinning or growling, teaching or throwing things. I just imagine him hearing Bo curse when a flag is thrown, laugh at the futility of dealing with referees, and encourage his quarterback when he's down on himself - wanting to give in to doubt. I like to think that these things fuel Jim - that they give him some sort of supernatural serenity, an unnatural peace in the midst of the chaos that is gametime. I want so desperately for Bo's words to be prophetic.
"It's gonna be Michigan again...Michigan."
Damn it, Bo. We miss you. Jim misses you. This world took you away too soon. Here's to being "Michigan again." For Bo, for Jim, for the Team, and for all of us fans. I'm thankful to be a Michigan Wolverine. I'm thankful for a forum to express my unhealthy love for this game and for the Team that plays it so well. I hope you enjoy this wallpaper.
This is going to be quick. You all watched the game. Brian will do a better job analyzing it during the UFR. I’m annoyed and don’t want to dwell on a crappy game.
Michigan isn’t Alabama. It isn’t even really OSU. It’s not a program that can just roll out dominant teams every year and compete for a title. It has windows of opportunities, seasons where they can play at an elite level and play for championships. 1997 they obviously made it to the end. 2006 got tantalizingly close. And 2016 felt like another (in what seems to be a once-a-decade window) of being another one of those great seasons. The defense is loaded with veterans and future NFL stars, the offense is being guided by one of the best coaches in the country, and the schedule is reasonably favorable. And for 9 weeks, UM largely looked the part of a champion, demolishing teams with ruthless efficiency. #3 in the CFB playoffs rankings, #1 in S&P+, top-10 on both offense and defense. About as close to a juggernaut at we’ve seen in Ann Arbor for decades.
This is a year when UM can take their crack at titles, both conference and national, before graduation and the machinations of football likely force UM to regroup a bit. Iowa should have been just another step on the path, a night road game yes, but also against a team that has looked lifeless recently. After playing bitter rival MSU and prodigal son’s Maryland, this game felt like a reprieve by comparison; a Greg Davis offense and a shaky QB against one of the best defenses in the country. UM might not blow the Hawkeyes off the field, but this was going to be one of those comfortable wins that get gentle nods from knowledgeable fans when discussion turns to UM playing “like a champion”. And then…
I wish I could write something eloquent and insightful, some 10,000 word opus that makes sense of losing to Iowa again, letting a team that had no business staying within 20 points of UM grind them up on the ground and kick a game-winning FG as time expired. But I just don’t got it, guys. This was a game UM should have won because they are the better team, and yet here we sit, a big black mark on a previously-spotless resume. And maybe they run the table and still get a shot to the playoffs, but this misstep makes that mountain even higher to climb, and now we are stuck rooting for more chaos and hoping the nagging injuries and the weaknesses that have arisen these past couple of weeks can be mitigated in real time.
For the third week in a row now, Michigan had trouble tackling ballcarriers, allowing 54 yards after contact to Akrum Wadley as part of his 167 yard performance. Both Darboh and Chesson struggled to haul in much of anything (a combined 3 catches for 35 yards), and Chesson compounded his issues by allowing Rugamba to rip the ball from his hands for Speight’s INT late in the game that stopped a promising drive. UM didn’t crack 100 yards rushing a week after Iowa gave up 359 to PSU, and repeatedly ran plays that led to TFLs (Iowa had 8 on the day) or, in one incredibly poorly-blocked sequence, a safety. The offensive line looked legitimately overmatched by an under-performing Iowa front 7. And Wilton Speight, after weeks of looking like a star, fell back to earth quite a bit, completing less than half of passes (11/26) for 103 yards and the aforementioned pick, and might have a shoulder injury to boot.
If there is a silver lining, I guess it is that it took sooooo many things to go wrong for UM to lose. Khalid Hill missed an obvious block on the safety that gave Iowa some life early on when UM was up 10-0, then fumbled the second-half kickoff that Iowa was able to turn into a FG. Michigan again suffered at the hands of the Arbitrary Targetting Gods, losing Devin Bush to a marginal late hit when the Iowa punter flipped over on a fake. Speight repeatedly missed deep despite both Chesson and Darboh streaking open; connect on any of those deep balls and this game absolutely turns for the good guys. Kirk Ferentz, a young earth zealot because he was there, man, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, went for it on 4th down 2 out of 3 times, called multiple fakes, and generally coached that one game a year when the little old gerbils in his head take a break and the mongoose hoped up on Red Bull and whippets starts calling the shots.
The referees were atrocious in this game, to the point that John O’Neill should be booed every moment of every day he’s in Michigan Stadium from now until the heat death of the universe. Just a clownshow, the same incompetent goober who was the official for MSU 2015. The borderline facemask penalty to set up Iowa’s game-winning final drive, terrible spots including on Beathard’s final run, apparently not understanding grounding until it smacked him in the face, all of the kicker-related penalties, just everything. And that isn’t to take all of his calls were wrong, only that they seemed so damn arbitrary and inconsistent. At least he called roughing the center right this time.
It was a crazy weekend, so maybe it’s fitting UM joined the lot. Washington and Clemson lost just as badly, exposing their own weaknesses in the process, and the end of the season remains the gateway to accolades it’s always been: beat IU and OSU, and UM will be in the B1G championship game and have a chance at a playoff spot. And maybe I’m in the minority, but OSU still feels tractable simply because it’s a team with decided issues (QB accuracy, limited rushing attack outside of Barrett) and performances that have exposed them. But after a tumultuous week off the gridiron, I wasn’t expecting to be writing about another underdog stunner.
Worst: Offensive Offense
This was just a terribly called game offensively. Maybe the UFR will prove me wrong, but this looked like a Hoke offense at times out there. UM finished with a bit over 200 total yards of offense, and most of that came in the first half. The offensive line couldn’t get any push all day against the 86th-ranked rushing attack in the country. Repeatedly Michigan tried to get “cute” running the ball, throwing little pitches to Smith and Evans on short yardage to the short side of the field, only to have it snuffed out almost immediately by eleventy-billion Hawkeyes. Ty Isaac ran the ball exactly once for UM’s lone TD, then was relegated to the bench. Smith and Evans were basically running into Mason Cole half the time, as there was no push up front. Kalis really seemed to struggle at the point of the attack, even though the safety was probably on Hill not picking up Johnson at the snap. Both tackles had trouble keeping the pocket clean as the game wore on, and Iowa wound up blistering Speight those last couple of drives. And yes, field position played some role in this whole day, as UM’s averaging starting position was the 27 yard line, which is a far cry from UM’s nation-leading 36-yard spot coming into the game.
As for throwing the ball, Speight looked really good to start the game but could never connect on a deep throw to shake up the defense even though Darboh was flying down the field most plays. I know it was a tough ball to a diving Chesson, but his little hesitation-feint-throw-pullback-throw on the run on 3rd down was fantastic to watch. He had a some balls to Butt and Chesson early on that were great, and he looked in control of the offense. But then he started to get hit, and his receivers dropped a couple of balls, and the offense kept getting stuck in long third downs (for the day they were 5-for-15), and the playcalls became really focused on the deep throw. That’s not his game, that’s not this offense’s game, and it honestly felt like UM’s attempts to take the top off the defense gave Iowa easy outs. After halftime Speight was just 3/9 for 24 yards and a pick, and never looked comfortable. Even his completions were wonky, such as the ball to Butt that wobbled past a tight Iowa defender and succeeded because Butt knows a thing or two about holding onto the ball. And now it sounds like he might have a shoulder or wrist injury, which is fantastic news with team sorta-CHAOS and OSU the next 2 weeks.
What bothered me most was how predictable the offense looked. McDoom came in and they either ran the sweep or faked it; I get that teams will respond to his appearance and you can play off that, but throw him the damn ball once or twice just to give people a sense. Same with Peppers, who is a screaming “WE’RE RUNNING THE BALL NOW!” at this point, who mostly gets yards because he’s an incredible athlete and UM can sorta block teams anyway. But either put that back into the garage and tinker with the Pepcat package or let the guy do something, anything else. Because right now, it’s starting to get like that one song at the top of your Spotify playlist you hear all the time before you hit shuffle. You ain’t fooling anyone, Cults.
And yet, despite probably the worst offensive performance we’ve seen under Harbaugh at UM, Michigan probably should have still emerged with the victory. Sometimes that does just happen, and I’m okay with it to an extent. Iowa was able to weather some early trouble, got a couple of breaks, and pulled out a tight victory. Still, the offensive line still has question marks, and asking Speight to throw deep when it clearly wasn’t working (versus some shorter balls to get the chains moving and not tax leaky protection) are coaching issues that must be addressed. UM simply cannot play like this offensively again and expect to win, and they’ve only got a week to figure it out.
Meh: The Defense
I see people complaining about the defense, mostly because Wadley had a great day and they lost. And their is some credence to the ongoing issues tackling in space by the linebackers and defensive backfield. McCray repeatedly struggled to stay with Wadley in the open field, and it’s clear now that more physical backs can give UM trouble. The linebackers are athletic but still seem prone to taking bad angles or missing on shifty backs, and the idea of them trying to keep up with Weber and especially Samuel aren’t appealing. I’d say just throw Peppers into that role, but not only is it yet another burden on him, it would probably disrupt the defensive flow for the team.
I know people want to get on Stribling for his tackling, but I don’t expect miracles from my corners in run defense. And he had some nice pass defenses and what I erroneously assumed would be the game-clinching pick. And Beathard was terrible this whole game; he cracked 3.4 ypa, and that was with a Wadley pitch-and-catch.
Both Hill and Thomas, though, missed easy tackles and let Wadley pick up big yards after contact. Iowa probably should have had a TD (or at least a long completion) in that first half when seemingly everybody forgot Nate Wieting and were bailed out by an underthrown ball and Hill getting there a bit late to clean up. But in general, the defense played well enough to win. They held a team that averaged about 5.5 yard per play to 3.4, and that was with some zaniness to boot. Yes UM isn’t a murderdeathmachine against the run, but people saying it was “exposed” might be overstating it a bit. Sometimes the way you stop a running game is by taking those plays out of the playbook via scoring, and had UM found a way to push this to a 2-score lead in that second half, I think some of the Wadley damage doesn’t materialize.
Indiana will be a challenge; I have no idea how UM will fair against the all those goofy Redding, Natee, and Diamont packages, but my guess is UM will be fine. UM played well enough to win this game defensively, and I’m not ready to call a team that gave up 12 points on 68 plays “exposed.”
Worstest: The F**************cking Refs!
Watching this game every time a yellow flag came out felt like this.
It was just a cavalcade of insanity and insult. Iowa played well, but they got a health dose of help from O’Neill and his pack of blind squirrels. It’s bad spots, it’s bad targetting calls, a fringe facemask penalty, roughing the kicker penalties that basically forced UM to stop bringing any pressure lest they get blamed for Iowa’s kicker falling on his ass again, just everything. And I don’t think they cost UM the game; Michigan barely putting up 200 yards of offense was the bigger culprit. But at the same time, I shouldn’t be cringing as soon as I hear who is calling these games, and yet the minute I realized O’Neill’s crew was on the docket, I harkened back to last year’s MSU game and just knew something would go wrong.
College football is all about spending millions of dollars of coaches, training techniques, new technology, everything, and yet they have these part-time refs with histories of ineptitude messing around with important games. I don’t care about paying these guys, but there also needs to be a public reprimand if they screw up. Coaches and players get called out, let these guys answer questions after the game. They are grown-ass men and women, and their decisions have an outsized impact on games.
Best: Kenny MF Allen
Kenny Allen drained a 51-yard FG to give UM the late lead. Outside of basically 2 games this year over a month ago, Allen has been good as both a punter and kicker. For all the negative parts you can take from this game, one positive should be that Allen has ice in his veins and a leg to back it up.
Worst: The Heisman Talk
Listen, I think Peppers is great. He’s an amazing athlete and a special talent. He’ll be a mixture on Sunday for a decade. But at this point, I’m getting tired of every announcer trying to make a case for him. Peppers is special because of his flexibility on defense, and tangible, quantifiable proof of that impact is hard to find (save for TFLs, which aren’t even that good of a barometer). I know he’s great, fans know he’s great, but he isn’t going to win the Heisman, and as a viewer of college football I don’t need breathless commentary every time he runs for 4 yards on a designed run. It’s lazy and somewhat insufferable, and cheapens what else he does on the field.
Worst: RPS All the Minuses
I’ll let Brian figure this all out, but I thought the offensive playcalling was really bad in that second half. UM has a great offense, but when you are playing in a 1950’s game, call it like a 1950’s game. Maybe break out a jet sweep if you are feeling frisky, but otherwise just run the ball between the tackles and throw short passes to the flats and Butt and force Iowa to stop you. They repeatedly called for Speight to throw the ball deep, and it just wasn’t there. That partially falls on the players for not “making plays” (oh god, I feel dumber having just said that), but it also falls on the coaches for putting them in tough spots. I don’t know how to describe this offensive gameplan other than it felt like a Borges offense, too clever by half. A couple of times, Speight would pitch the ball on the short side of the field and the play was inevitably chewed up, and I just didn’t know what the plan was. Iowa’s defensive line isn’t that good, and my guess is a steady stream of runs right at them probably hit paydirt sooner rather than later. And yet, Michigan put themselves in long 3rd downs way too often (they averaged about 3rd-and-6), and it hurt their offensive flow and options.
As for the defense, I don’t think Greg Davis outcoached anyone, but Wadley in space was clearly all of Iowa’s offense and yet Brown and co. were slow to react. They did shut down the Iowa passing attack, as anemic as it was during the year, and again, that final drive wasn’t why UM lost.
I get that UM will get a team’s best effort; that happens when you are a major player. But on the road, you can’t mess around with competent teams, and for all of Iowa’s struggles they are still probably going to win 8-9 games this year. They aren’t a pushover, especially at home, and yet UM let this game play into their hands way too much.
IU comes to town next. They really aren’t that good, and while they are still CHAOS team, the shoe doesn’t quite fit like it did in the past. Their offense is janky and sometimes explosive, and the defense is fine for IU standards but has still given up a bunch of points recently (36 to MD, 27 to Rutgers, 45 to PSU). I assume UM will handle them and the focus will be on The Game for a shot at the playoffs. And yeah, a small part of me is hoping MSU builds on their demolition of Rutgers to give OSU a fight, but whatever margin UM had is gone after this game, and so it’s time to just win and advance.
I can't embed, but the weekly KCRG video interview from his head coach office is interesting:
I found these comments on Michigan's defensive complexity interesting when set against the comments of other ACC offensive coordinator comments about it taking 50 hour weeks just to figure out what in the hell Don Brown thinks he is doing.
I just received an email for bowl tickets.
Here is the link:
If someone can embed the link as a screen shot, it would make life easier...I am not so skilled.
OK, so I can't find this piece that appears in this morning's print edition of the Washington Post anywhere on WashPo's site. The only place I could find it is on PrintReader, which it turns out makes it a snap to copy and paste articles into the webtool of your choice. So here you go: (BTW, the WashPo is the defacto local paper for the Terps ICYDK, although some would argue it's the Baltimore Sun, but whatever):
MOD EDIT - Since the link exists, let's not paste entire articles into the blog. I realize the difficulty in this instance as the OP stated, but we should correct the problem as soon as the right link is available, IMHO. - LSA
Thanks for the edit. -OP
Washington Post story here - LINK