Speight Still Hasn't Found a Transfer School

Speight Still Hasn't Found a Transfer School

Submitted by Caesar on March 9th, 2018 at 5:30 AM

I had heard from a Sam Webb podcast a while ago that Wilton still hasn't found a school and an MLive article says he'd come back if She wasn't in the picture (link). From what I recall, Memphis was an option at one time, but that has since closed up. 

Anyway, how would you say this impacts--if at all--the Michigan QB contest of 2018? Are there rules that would limit his ability to come back to the team? Would anyone here be interested to see Wilton back at the helm? 

Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Submitted by Kevin Holtsberry on January 3rd, 2018 at 1:07 PM

As we continue to work through another ugly ending of the season for Michigan football, I thought I would explore an area I think contributes to the anger, disappointment and even ennui for fans.  Trying to find reasonable expectations and the impact of emotional wins.

The expectations game has been debated to death on the site, so I am not going to rehash that in detail.  Instead, I wanted to explore how emotionally satisfying wins help temper expectations and how Michigan's lack of such wins is in a significant way driving so much of the unhappiness.

My argument is basically that winning rivalry games and other high-profile games builds a reserve of goodwill that can be drawn on in tough times thus balancing out some of the fan dissatisfaction as a program has its natural ups and downs.

For example, Ohio State has had some inexplicable losses (Iowa 2017, Michigan State 2015) and some bad ones (Clemson 2016), but they have a National Championship, have dominated Michigan, and have 8 total losses in Urban Meyer's tenure. Michigan State had a disastrous year in 2016, but beat Michigan and Penn State and won their bowl game handily.  This overshadows losses to ND, Northwestern and an embarrassing loss to Ohio State.  Penn State had heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Michigan State but won 11 games and ended with a win.

We do need to take a few minutes to discuss the expectations that should set the context for our discussion. If you thought Harbaugh was going to step in and bring Michigan to the level of Urban Meyer or Nick Saban in three years, I can't help you.  A cursory glance at the record of the schools for the last ten years would disabuse you of this notion.  Ohio State has been playing in title games and winning conference championships.  In contrast, even before RichRod and Hoke, Michigan lost 3-5 games with regularity.

Since 2000 Ohio State has averaged 2.27 losses a year while Michigan has averaged 4.22. So that should temper expectations.  Ohio State has consistently been better than Michigan for a couple of decades and the last five have been dominant. Urban Meyer has never lost more than 2 games at OSU.

And the program that Harbaugh inherited was not exactly trending upward.  RichRod had three consecutive losing seasons.  Hoke started great (11-2), had a season remarkably like this year (8-5 with a bowl loss to SC), before two losing seasons.  The two coaches prior to Harbaugh were a combined 41-35. 

And going back to Lloyd Carr things were not at Meyer or Saban levels.  Carr’s tenure at Michigan averages out to roughly 9-3. Obviously, the 1997 season stands out as the high point and the ending of the 2006 season as the start of the slide to mediocrity and below.  Heck, Bo’s record is basically 9-2 with a losing record (5-12) in bowl games and no national titles.

This background indicates that in his first three years Harbaugh has brought Michigan back to what it was in the 90s and early 2000s.  I would argue what he hasn’t achieved is some emotionally satisfying wins that would make this accomplishment FEEL better to Michigan fans.  This recap of recent history may seem redundant for fans but bear with me.

2015

Harbaugh’s first season started out with a tough but in many ways understandable loss to Utah but then won five games by a combined score of 160-14.  The next game, however, was the heartbreaking and maddening loss to Michigan State.  The Wolverines won the next four games including a goal line stand to win against Minnesota, an OT win against Indiana, and a sold 28-16 win against Penn State in Happy Valley.  After a blowout loss to Ohio State in the Big House, Michigan thumped Florida 41-7 in the Gator Bowl.

Despite the pattern of painful losses to rivals, Harbaugh first season brought some emotional satisfaction. Ten wins and a blowout bowl win felt like a great start.  Plus, the wins against Minnesota and Indiana provided some excitement and confidence that Michigan could win conference games on the road.

2016

Michigan reeled off 9 straight wins in 2016 and other than the comeback against Colorado and a three missed field goals game against Wisconsin, none of them were particularly close.  You know the story from there.  Painful loss on the road to Iowa, snow game escape against Indiana, and then heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Florida State.

This is where the emotional damage was done.  A few plays, and one atrocious call, away from a playoff appearance and a great season; potentially one for the ages.  So much promise and potential and yet fans came away with nothing but heartbreak.

The ending was particularly rough not just because it robbed Michigan of a great season, but it erased satisfying wins against not only Colorado and Wisconsin, but also Michigan State and Penn State.  Win one of those three losses and the season feels very different.  To use a cliché, fans were deprived of the type of closure or ending that can make a season feel satisfying even if disappointing.  The end colors the whole season.

2017

This year was the year of youth, particularly on defense.  But an opening win against what was thought to be a solid Florida team seem to portend good things.  The offense struggled but the defense was playing at last year levels despite losing a ton of talent and that was exciting.  A comeback win against Purdue on the road with John O’Korn at QB had fans thinking that the injury to Wilton Speight would not doom the season.

A sloppy loss in a second half monsoon to Michigan State at home drove home the indication that QB and OL play would remain an issue for Michigan; a turnover fest would spell doom.  The feeling of being snake bitten against Michigan State also continued.  The team managed to sneak past Indiana but then were blown out in the second half by a Penn State team who seemed to have it all figured out. 

Michigan went on to thump Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland with a suddenly quite good running game.  And it seemed as if Brandon Peters might be the QB that Michigan so desperately needed.  But a concussion against Wisconsin ended that possibility and the end of season losses followed.  This included a torturous loss to Ohio State at home that included a 14-0 lead at one point.  But the lack of a competent QB, O’Korn had lost whatever competence he once possessed, doomed the Wolverines to yet another loss in The Game.

So even before the bowl game, Michigan fans were struggling to make sense of the team and season. On the one hand, the defense seemed to be beating expectations given their youth and the running game come alive.  The offensive play calling against Ohio State was brilliant even if the QB couldn’t hit an open receiver with the game on the line.  On the other hand, the OL couldn’t protect the QB and seemed to find any stunt an unsolvable mystery.  The WRs were young and failing to help the QB when given the chance.

What the bowl game represented was a chance to reset the expectations and reach a plateau on which to build.  South Carolina was a bad team, worse than their 8-4 record.  This was a chance to prove that Michigan could beat a team with a winning record.  The Big Ten was undefeated in bowl games and had a chance to really stick it to the arrogant SEC.  Michigan was favored to win and most felt comfortable then would do so handily.

When you combine the incredible frustration built up in 2016 from being a few plays, and an atrocious call, from greatness with the continuing losses to our rivals in painful fashion (and the media drumbeat on this point), this was a pool of gasoline waiting for a match.

The last quarter and a half against South Carolina provided not a spark but a flamethrower. 

In the first half Michigan had the ball on the South Carolina 17, 8, and 27 and came away with filed goals each time.  SC had a muffed punt and a fumble but were only down 9-3.  Michigan looked poised to put the game away in the second half, however.  After a 7 play 72-yard TD drive and a SC interception Michigan was driving for a score to put the game out of reach.  Karan Higdon fumbled at the 4, seemed to recover it, only to have the defensive lineman rip it away.  The defense held but a chance to deliver the knockout punch slipped by.  Up 23-3 midway through the 3rd quarter would have been a great place to be.

The mistakes from there just multiplied.  SC drove for a TD aided by a stupid personal foul penalty.  Then facing 3rd and 1 at their own 23, Michigan ran the by now infamous play where TE Sean McKeon was lined up as a FB and promptly fumbled the handoff. The very next play was a SC TD and the collapse was on.

  • SC overcame a 3rd and 18 and then hit on a 53-yard bomb for their third straight possession with a TD. 
  • Trailing for the first time Michigan drove to the five only to have Brandon Peters throw an interception in the endzone. 
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones muffs a punt. 
  • The defense holds SC to a FG despite having the ball on the 14. Peters throws four straight incompletions and Michigan turns the ball over on downs. 
  • Again, defense holds, and SC misses a FG.  2nd and 2 at the 39 and Peters inexplicably slides instead of running for the first down.  Two plays later, interception to end the game.

The litany is familiar: five(!) turnovers, 23 unanswered points, results in a blown 19-3 lead midway through the third quarter. An embarrassing loss. The only Big Ten team to lose a bowl game (to an SEC team).

I recap all of this, not because you are not aware of what happened but to try to capture the emotional rollercoaster and how it likely destroyed any semblance of balance and rationality many Michigan fans had.

In 2016 Michigan fans were deprived of the opportunity to prove they could be great.  Instead, a season on the precipice of greatness was cruelly snatched away by the thinnest of margins and by a fate that seems intent on punishing Michigan repeatedly.

Having digested this pain, well mostly, Michigan fans simply wanted to believe that a very young team was still competent enough to win games they were supposed to win.  After coming tantalizing close against quality opponents, they wanted to beat a winning team, hold up their part of the Big Ten reputation and slap down the SEC.

Instead, they got an epic collapse.  Players they had hoped were coming into their own in the 13th game of the season made critical mistakes.  Players they thought were the future, looked unable to handle the spotlight.  And the coaches seemed unable to stop the bleeding or find a way to win.

You can say that Michigan’s history of failing to hold a lead in important games is not relevant to whether Harbaugh knows how to coach or the talent level on the 2018 team.  You can say this year was roughly what was expected.  But the history is there emotionally, and it FEELS important.  Monday made it feel like that history was destiny, that Michigan would forever be the underachieving team. Without a great season to fall back on the future feels like a continuation of heartbreaking losses and mediocrity.

So where do we go from here?  I think you must acknowledge this history and understand that it warps expectations and exaggerates the emotions.  Living in Columbus, I know what winning once in 15 years against OSU feels like.  You can’t have a hyped, media dominating, coach who gets paid ungodly sums, and a coaching staff who are also paid among the highest in the country, and not have expectations grow. And you can’t just wave away the emotions and baggage.

But you also need to realize that Harbaugh is digging out of a hole in terms of recruiting and winning.  And he is doing this at a time when Ohio State is one of the best programs in the country, when Penn State is recruiting at a high level and Michigan State has a coach whose life goal is to beat Michigan even if that is all he accomplishes.  This is an uphill climb. 

It is also important to note, that Michigan isn’t trying to get BACK to the level of Meyer or Saban or Dabo.  It was never at that level.  Those programs have five years of top five recruiting classes under their belt.  They have climbed to the highest level and stayed there. Michigan is trying to build a foundation from which they can reach that level.

That said, 2018 has the feel of a turning point.  Michigan will need to find a way to give fans some significant wins so that they can feel like all the money and hype means something. Another season of losses to rivals and missing the conference championship game will drive the angry voices to newfound heights. 

The good, and bad, news is that Michigan will have plenty of opportunities to get big wins.  As everyone is aware, the schedule is not easy.  Games against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road and visits from Wisconsin and Penn State.  10 wins, including wins against ND, MSU and/or OSU, would be quite an accomplishment.  It would also give fans enough satisfaction to look to 2019 with excitement. A 4 or 5 loss season would seem to put even Harbaugh on the hot seat.

What's to Blame: Lack of Playmakers, OL, Scheme (or all of the above)?

What's to Blame: Lack of Playmakers, OL, Scheme (or all of the above)?

Submitted by Kevin Holtsberry on January 2nd, 2018 at 10:45 AM

As I was attempting to work myself out of my depression about another ugly Michigan loss and sort through the emotional reactions from other fans, I landed on what really has struck me about Michigan this year.  The lack of playmakers.  When the game is on the line and you have to make a play, there is no one that comes to mind.  Someone who can singlehandedly change the game, make the play, or spark the team.  There is not a go-to play or player that you can count on with the game on the line.

I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  And the obvious example this year from the Steelers is Antonio Brown.  Both early in the season when they were trying to get a talented offense in a rhythm and on the same page, and in October and November when they went on an 8-game winning streak, Brown made critical play after critical play to help them win games.  Many times, this came during ugly games against inferior opponents. The Steelers found a way to win close games late; in large part due to AB.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  How can you compare a talent laden team like the Steelers to a young Michigan team?  Well, the point isn't to compare rosters but to point out that winning teams have players that they turn to with the game on the line and who make plays even when the team is struggling.  The Steelers easily could have lost 3-4 games if not for Brown’s clutch play.  When they absolutely had to have a first down or a big play you knew who they were going to turn to and he made the play.

When I look around at the Big Ten and beyond I see the same thing.  Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, even Michigan State have playmakers they rely on when the game is on the line.  Obviously QB is critical.  And all those teams have QBs who have handled pressure better than any on the roster at Michigan.  And those teams also have quality playmaking ability at RB. Frustratingly, OSU and UW have freshman RBs who have been game changers.

This was never clearer than in all our losses this year (and in years past as well).  When Michigan had to have a play, no one stepped up.  The QBs weren't good enough.  The RBs or WRs couldn't make a play (think critical drop against MSU). In key situations, instead of making plays we had turnovers (five against SC!).

You could, however, argue that it isn't so much the playmakers but the lack of a consistent offensive line on which to build.  It is hard for QBs to make plays when pressure is constantly in their face or when they are getting knocked out of games.  It is hard to make plays when there is no room to run, or openings for the RBs, etc.

And I definitely think if Michigan is going to play at the highest level, particularly with Harbaugh's offense, they will have to develop a quality offensive line.  I don't think it has to be dominant, but it must be competent; it can't be a glaring weakness.

Others might point to scheme as the culprit.  Harbaugh's offense is too complicated or too old fashioned (requires pro style QB etc. when spread is dominant at HS).  Or maybe play calling is to blame.  Why throw in a monsoon?  Why handoff to TE on 3rd and 1 in critical point in the game?  Why throw deep on 4th and 1?

I am not an Xs and Os guy but am open to criticisms of the play calling.  And there is a sense that Michigan's offense lacks an identity; something they can hang their hat on.

But if I had to pick an explanation, I would still go with the lack of playmakers.  Michigan has come up small in big games this year repeatedly. Whether it is the QB, the RBs or the WRs, when they had to have a play no one stepped up and made it.

At critical junctures yesterday, far too many players made critical mistakes when the game was on the line.  Karan Higdon fumbled in the Red Zone. Brandon Peters threw an interception in the end zone. Donovan Peoples-Jones muffed a punt deep in our own territory.  Given chance after chance to put the game away, Michigan instead gave the game away.

The one element not discussed yet is experience.  As noted above, and by many on the board across the site, youth has not prevented other teams from making plays.  Note the fantastic years of J.K. Dobbins (OSU) and Jonathan Taylor (UW). Heck, for the second year in a row the National Championship Game will feature a freshman QB! So hard to say experience alone is to blame.

I think it is likely a combination of talent, experience, and situation (scheme, play calling, etc.) that has resulted in the misery of Michigan football in the Harbaugh era.  The question is whether the current roster, or as it will look in 2018, has the playmakers to win big games.  As has been noted ad nauseum, the schedule will offer a great many opportunities to find out with road games against ND, MSU and OSU.

If I had to rank the concerns I would list them as QB, OL, WR, RB.  We don't have the QB who has the athletic ability or mental discipline to win games.  Does She Patterson change that?  Our OL, both in terms of talent, injuries and experience, has contributed to the poor QB play and limited the running game.  A young and depleted WR corps has also turned the passing game into a joke.  I think the RBs played quite well at times despite the mess around them.  Hard to find holes when the OL is poor and the downfield threat is non-existent.

To me the QB and OL or the unknowns. I can see the line improving some just through experience but how much better?  I can see the WRs improving quite a bit as that is often the case with that position (learning the offense, running better routes, etc.).  I don't think we have a game changing RB but I can see them being reliable components of an effective offense if there is a passing game to speak of.  But having a true leader at QB who can make the plays with the game on the line looms large.

What say you?  Is the primary problem talent, the OL or the play calling?  And how confident are you that things can come together next season?

After this game, is Brandon Peters still the favorite to start next season?

After this game, is Brandon Peters still the favorite to start next season?

Submitted by NotADuck on January 1st, 2018 at 4:16 PM

This post is not about the coaching in today's game.  I want to solely focus on Brandon Peters and whether or not he is still considered the favorite to start against Notre Dame next season.

Before today I was firmly in the "Peters will win the job" camp.  I liked how he played in his limited time this season and watched enough Shea Patterson highlights to know that his game relied on improv and a bit of luck.  However after watching the game today, I'm immediately changing my stance.  Peters was very innacurate today.  He made some good throws here and there, but many of his passes were either a little off or completely off.  He also looked very unsure of himself at times, very indecisive.  You cannot be a good quarterback at this level with that kind of innaccuracy and indecision.  Also, and this is just how it appears to me, he seems a little too soft...  I mean he left the game for one play because someone poked him in the eye... really.  I have a hard time believing that he needed to come off the field.  He also doesn't seem to shake off hits very well, laying on the ground for extended periods of time, which leads me to believe that he gets rattled easily and may have played into his indecision today.

Shea was largely an improvisational QB at Ole Miss but, considering the quality of Michigan's offensive line, that might be exactly what this team needs.  I'm watching the UCF/Auburn game right now and Auburn is getting a ton of pressure on McKenzie Milton but they can't get to him because of his ability to avoid the rush and throw on the run (with some weird Matthew Stafford esque arm angles).  Shea has a similar ability to make plays when the play breaks down.  It's one of the reasons why he was considered a five star QB coming out of high school.

It's a long off season and anything can happen, but as of right now my money is on Shea Patterson winning the starting QB job over Brandon Peters.  

EDIT:  I thought that if I posed my question in a thought provoking way with some evidence to back up my opinion I might get some equally interesting comments.  I can see I was wrong.  All I've created here is more bile.  I was foolish and I apologize for contributing to the poison infecting the board.  It appears that even though this site is dedicated to a university as intelligent and respected as Michigan, this is still the internet.

Outback Bowl: What do you hope to see?

Outback Bowl: What do you hope to see?

Submitted by mgoDAB on December 30th, 2017 at 12:48 PM
In anticipation of the Outback Bowl in a few days, what are you looking forward to most or hope to see? A win, of course, would be great to see, putting us at 9-4 and giving us some confidence heading into the offseason. Some ideas: -Seeing Winovich, Hurst, Bush, and Don Brown having orange hair in support of ChadTough. -Brandon Peters getting the start. An impressive performance will set up what will be the most intense QB battle in recent memory. -Seniors going out with a bang. Hope to see lots of Panda time and belly rubs. For me, it would be Karan Higdon getting 71 rushing yards to be the first Michigan player since Denard in 2012 to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season, and the first running back since Fitz Toussaint in 2011.

Peters vs. Patterson... Army Bowl Version

Peters vs. Patterson... Army Bowl Version

Submitted by Andystubs on December 28th, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Remembered watching this clip a few years ago and surprised I hadn't seen it pop up since the Patterson transfer.  Nothing in particular to pull from what amounts to 2016 recruiting clickbait from Bleacher Report, but interesting that forshadowed a battle for a starting job between teammates.

 

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2613177-no-1-2016-qb-takes-on-future…

Detnews story about Peters and the QBs

Detnews story about Peters and the QBs

Submitted by 1VaBlue1 on December 21st, 2017 at 8:37 AM

Angelique recap'd the Inside Michigan Football show from last night.  Peters said he was knocked unconscious for "30-40 seconds" against UW.  That's not something we really didn't know, but it was never stated.  Also talked about the QB situation - from Brandon:

“I don’t really care,” Peters said. “It’s going to happen at the NFL level, the college level, you’re going to bring guys in. That’s just how things happen. You can’t really get into your emotions so much. You have to worry about what you can do and stay in the position you want to be in. So you just gotta work and can’t let anything affect you.”

She also quoted Harbaugh on the QB's:

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, speaking to reporters Wednesday night, described what he thinks the approach should be for all three quarterbacks, including McCaffrey.  “Like anybody in the program, he has the license and the ability to be a starter,” Harbaugh said of Patterson. “As I told all three of the quarterbacks at the same time, the only thing that’s guaranteed here is an opportunity.

Here is the story link.  It's nothing we haven't figured out for ourselves, but its nice to hear it from the direct source.

Joe Milton enrolling early.

Joe Milton enrolling early.

Submitted by JHumich on November 27th, 2017 at 12:03 PM

Joe Milton enrolling early. One wonders if this is related to Speight's announcement, opening up room already by January?

Peters, McCaffrey, and Milton have something in common that their predecessors did not: fully recruited QB's by Jim Harbaugh. 

I got the feeling this year that they did not want to play Peters at all, and felt their hand was forced--like, they wanted him not just to be ready, but to play at All-American level right out of the gate.

I think we'll be taking a huge step up at QB in 2018, and that it will probably be McCaffrey. I also think that we will see both of those things to be true already at the spring game.

QB vs Ohio State: Thought Experiment

QB vs Ohio State: Thought Experiment

Submitted by Carcajou on November 19th, 2017 at 9:49 PM

No indication so far that Michigan's starting QB versus Ohio State will be any other than John O'Korn. Maybe not a best case scenario, but not much choice at the moment. You go with what you've got.

Spare us the negativity on JOK- true or not, we've heard it all before. It's stale, unoriginal, pointless, and depressing, Yes, he gets overwhelmed and presses too hard sometimes. Got no choice right now but to root for the young man.

Not sure what was available downfield (Thanks, Fox!), but for some inexplicable reason on the last possession he seemed determined to run for the first down on 3rd and 4th down, when he was clearly outnumbered. Was this a matter of dropping his eyes? Or was it not trusting his receivers and protection, based on past experience?

With the exception of that looping stunt that always seems to fool them (and resulted in Peters' injury), Michigan's pass protection has improved recently, even at this game looking back at it. Peters was getting a little bit of time, and DPJ adjusted nicely on that deep post (if thrown properly it would have been a TD).

The receivers still need to do more, not only about separation, but being more physical. McDoom didn't put up enough effort IMO on that Hitch & Go to the end zone that was underthrown. While not perfect passes, receivers had their hands on four of O'Korn's incompletions, so it can't all be on him. Not sure if he throws a more difficult ball to catch, or what.

Senior Day. Last home game- maybe last game of football ever for JOK.He is in serious need of some kind of redemption. Here's hoping that Michigan's coaches can somehow get him in the right mind to perform the game of his life.

So again, sparing us the snark and negativity: Fast Forward to 4PM Saturday, and Michigan has upset Ohio State with John O'Korn at QB. How did they do it?