Existential To Exponential

Submitted by Brian on January 4th, 2016 at 12:19 PM

1/1/2016 – Michigan 41, Florida 7 – 10-3, 6-2 Big Ten, season over

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[Ruby Wallau/Michigan Daily]

On television, passes over a certain length are leaps of faith for the viewer. The quarterback throws it. Then there's a second or two before the intended target comes into focus. In that second you hope the guy is open or covered, depending on the situation. Maybe sometimes if you're lucky just plain expect something good to happen. For most of the year Michigan's defense has given fans the right to expect something at least reasonably difficult in those moments.

The offense hasn't quite managed that, even after Harbaugh found the right way to scream-pound Jake Rudock midway through the season. Also Florida's secondary is House of Cosby, except with Jourdan Lewis. So Rudock flung it up and for a moment there it didn't look too good. The arc was a bit high, the ball hung a bit long. Despite the recent surge I felt a wave of trepidation as this ball's parabola swung back towards Earth.

And then Jehu Chesson panned into view. Just Chesson, because Vernon Hargreaves was standing at the twenty yard line with an enormous animated question mark over his head. Chesson caught an uncontested touchdown that Rudock had punted up short on purpose, and the slow-motion rout was on.

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A few months ago Michigan trundled to another one of those losses against Utah that are all pretty much the same depressing football game. In it, Chesson burned a corner on a double move almost as badly as he did Hargreaves. He downshifted as he neared the endzone; Rudock tried to make the perfect pass and ended up overthrowing a sure thing by a couple yards.

That was a theme of not only his junior season at Iowa but the first half of this year: Rudock would try to hit the perfect pass every time, and often this was just out of his reach. That tendency continued; it combined with an unfamiliarity with the offense to turn Rudock from an efficient, if beleaguered, game manager into a guy who barely completed half his passes and couldn't hit 6 YPA against UNLV.

There wasn't anything to be done about this. Rudock was in Ann Arbor to spackle over a quarterback recruiting sinkhole of epic proportions, and if he didn't work out he didn't work out. A shrug is all you can muster if the stopgap is in fact a stopgap.

Then f(Rudock) = 2^x

2000px-Exponential.svg

Ain't never seen anything like that before. One day, Jake Rudock was scuffling through a depressing transition season. The next he was keeping Michigan afloat as the defense scrambled in the aftermath of Ryan Glasgow's injury.

The Chesson touchdown, while easy, was the culmination of Rudock's year. That closed the circle from the Utah game. Later Rudock would dump a 45-yard post route in Chesson's lap to put a cherry on top.

My preseason assessment of Jake Rudock—I said he'd have "a season like last year at Iowa except more efficient: 60% completions, 8 YPA, excellent TD/INT"—was looking somewhere between laughable and pitiful halfway through the year and well I'll be danged:

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Rudock finished behind only Nate Sudfeld in passer efficiency in the Big Ten, averaged nearly 8 yards an attempt, had a 20:9 TD:INT ratio, and led the conference with a 64% completion percentage.

Rudock ended the year against the nation's #4, 5, and 8 S&P+ pass defenses. His line in those three games: 64/101, 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6 TD, 1 INT.

I am going to repeat that. Jake Rudock's line against three consecutive top ten pass defenses: 63%, 7.9 YPA, 6:1 TD-INT.

Give Jim Harbaugh your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and he will turn them into NFL quarterbacks. Give Jim Harbaugh your disjointed messes, your pitiful morale, your nonsense rosters, and he will put on a hard-hat and create a ten-win team. I think we just got done with the glide path. Now for a rocket and a match.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jake Rudock completed his in-season renaissance with a stunningly efficient performance against a third-straight top-ten pass defense. He also ran for some yards and gave a polished post-game interview. Destined to be a backup QB in the NFL for the next ten years.

#2 De'Veon Smith went full Ricky Vaughn in this game, demonstrating a greatly improved ability to read the game in front of him and quickness possibly borne of a recovery from injury. PFF credited him with 11 broken tackles; he crested 100 yards against a fierce run defense.

#3 Jehu Chesson toasted Vernon Hargreaves crispy on a touchdown, caught a tough 45-yard post route, had a catch-and-run conversion on which he was pulling away from the Florida secondary before a safety chopped him down, had a spectacular over-the-shoulder reception on a play he also drew a flag on, and then had the best catch of his life on a throw that took him about six inches out of bounds. Do I hear Manningham 2.0?

Honorable mention: Chris Wormley and Willie Henry had terrific days on the DL and are excluded mostly because the offensive players had a much tougher matchup. Jarrod Wilson ended his boring Michigan career with a boring interception and we love boring safeties and will miss him. Kenny Allen hit a couple chip shot field goals, blasted a punt that would have probably been a 70 yarder had the endzone not intervened, and hit Vernon Hargreaves so hard on a kick return that he forgot to cover Chesson a bit later. Mason Cole and Graham Glasgow were terrific on the ground and equally good against the pass.

KFaTAotW Standings.

13: Jake Rudock (#3 Northwestern, #1 Rutgers, #1 Indiana, #3 Penn State, #2 OSU, #1 Florida)
9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
8: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State, #3 Rutgers, #2 Penn State)
6: Jake Butt(#1 Utah, #2 Rutgers, #3 OSU), Jehu Chesson(#2 Indiana, #1 OSU, #3 Florida)
5: De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU, #2 Florida)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota),
3: Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland), Amara Darboh(#1 PSU)
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU), 1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota), Delano Hill(#3 Indiana).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Gotta be that touchdown.

Honorable mention: That post route. De'Veon Smith finds a backside cut. Drake Johnson reverses direction on that draw. Treon Harris's ludicrous interception. Willie Henry eats a dude. Sione Houma befuddles a linebacker.

WGIBTUs Past.

Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.
Rutgers: Peppers as Denard.
Indiana: Delano Hill seals it with a PBU.
PSU: Jourdan Lewis breaks their back on a kickoff.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

There are eight months until the next game.

Honorable mention: Early defensive hiccups.

PREVIOUS EDBs

Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
MSU: Obvious.
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.
Rutgers: KO return given up.
Indiana: run run run run run run run run run run run run.
PSU: OSU's WHAT ARE THOOOOOOSE gameplan against MSU.
OSU: the second half

[After THE JUMP: a run game! Three Amgios 2016.]

OFFENSE

A running game emerges. Michigan's first drive started out with a lot of two-tight-end, two-back sets on which Michigan ran. They did this against a really really good defensive line, and things generally worked out okay. This was due in large part to a huge leap forward from the tailbacks. You know that thing all year where I've been like "why don't you go in the big hole?"

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cavern to the bottom of screen

De'Veon Smith went in the big hole, and quickly. Ace and I had a discussion on the podcast about Smith seeming quicker, and while the time off probably helped with the various terrible things that have happened to Smith's limbs this year, I think that impression mostly stems from Smith making more decisive cuts rather than being physically faster. On this play Smith puts his foot in the ground on the very next step after the still above.

Counterpoint to my own point: that weaving zone run on which Smith pulled a Mike Hart cut in the backfield.

Drake Johnson was also very good, cutting decisively upfield on a zone stretch that Florida slanted to hard. His early touchdown was also quality, as he sprinted to the edge of the field and then cut just off of Mason Cole's butt to turn an iffy-looking play into a touchdown. (Joe Kerridge murdering a dude helped a lot, too.)

If those two guys play like the did in this game and Peppers gets his touches, Michigan won't have to rely too much on freshmen. I still think Smith is destined for a BJ Askew role where he splits snaps between fullback and tailback, so there will be more carries to go around than you might expect, but concerns about tailback next year are mitigated.

TOO PRETTY NOT TO COUNT

Number one. Jehu Chesson finishes the year with 50 catches for 734 yards. He puts an exclamation point on his season with a spectacular Citrus Bowl that features not one but two incidents were Vernon Hargreaves, consensus All-American and future first round draft pick, is set on fire and thrown in a dumpster. Plus he has a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch despite drawing a holding flag. Also he has a catch and run on which he is pulling away from the Florida secondary. Also the above.

If Pleasantly Corporeal Jake Rudock is around for the duration of the season he has three or four more touchdowns, approaches a thousand yards on the season, and is getting major preseason hype next year. Since that didn't happen he'll be Michigan fans' secret as he attempts to put his stamp on 2016.

Meanwhile in the aftermath of the game we have reports that "Jehu Chesson has his shit together" from his roommates:

“Pardon my French, but Jehu’s got his s--- together,” Johnson said. “Like if there’s someone on our team who really has their stuff together, Jehu has his s--- together.

And he told reporters afterwards that he wasn't even applying for the NFL for reasons that remind us that Jehu Chesson was 900 years old at birth:

“No I did not [ask for an NFL grade]. I don’t know why. I just – I don’t know if it’s just naïve,” he said. “It’s great to have individual success, but that’s not where I get happiness from. If I don’t play and I see other guys being successful, it’s great. If I can help the team win any way they need me, I’ll do it.

“Asking for an NFL grade – those who ask, great for them if they need to know – those who don’t ask, they have reasons for not asking, too. Mine is just I feel like maybe that day will come when I do ask or Coach will tell me. God works things out in his own timing, and whatever needs to happen will happen. As long as I stay the path, stay the course, and stay disciplined and hard-working, things will turn out.”

Chesson delivered on that.

Number two A and B. Butt and Darboh are no slouches, either. Butt looked incredulous when he dropped a ball, and for good reason: I have him for all of two on the season, and that includes catches in the moderately difficult category. He is always at least kind of open because he's 6'6" and can get separation against cornerbacks.

Meanwhile Darboh is capable of Avant-style catches, has excellent hands on non-circus catches, and has the kind of muscle he needs to get off jams and get into routes. He's not much of a deep threat except freshman MSU safeties, but with Chesson and Butt he doesn't have to be.

Number three. Something good happened to Grant Perry after a freshman year full of freshman stuff and Jourdan Lewis-style gypsy misfortune. Then some more good stuff happened to Perry; by the end of the game he'd acquired five catches, one of them a touchdown, and given an indication as to why Michigan thought he might be a find early in the year.

Having a fourth option that's reliable and can fill the Dileo role helps a bit next year; it's more important for 2017, when Michigan's top three targets all graduate.

Godspeed, fullbacks. Houma gets the hype because he's able to, I dunno, juke a Florida linebacker out of his jock, but both he and Kerridge will be missed. Kerridge had a terrific game; check any of the GIFs in this post and keep and eye on 36 and you will see him plowing a dude. Houma's dual-threat role makes you wonder what he could have done if Harbaugh was around for his whole career.

Cole is the man. PFF didn't like Michigan's run blocking much but a cursory rewatch suggests to me that Cole was very good all the same. He's been a terrific run blocker all year (something PFF generally agrees with; a few weeks ago someone asked about him on twitter and they noted he was their #2 run-blocking OT nationally), and while there have been struggles in pass protection against elite guys overall he's taken a major step forward.

At this point most people are projecting him to center. I am too, and I think he will be great there. He has the mobility, he's terrific on the second level, and he has the mental ability to step in from day one as a freshman and not get overwhelmed.

DEFENSE

Well, that wasn't too hard. I don't have many takes in this department because Florida struggled so badly after Grier's suspension that many folks were barely relevant. I can't recall much any of the defensive backs did other than catch a pop fly.

A major split. I was irritated during Florida's productive period in the first quarter when we saw a lot of defensive line backups in the game, including Lawrence Marshall and Brady Pallante in what I believe were their first non-garbage-time snaps. They, along with Strobel and Godin, were not effective; the difference when the starters were in was stark.

This isn't much of a surprise when you're down three DL for the season, and Michigan started locking down on Florida's offense such that the DL rotation could largely cease by the second quarter.

No harm, no foul given the way the game played out but the split there was illuminating. Why was Michigan's defense so good early and faded late? They were 8 deep early and could have everyone give max effort on every snap. As the ranks thinned not only did Michigan have to deploy ineffective players in reserve roles but the starters had to marshal their strength and lost effectiveness. The main reason Alabama is Alabama year-in and year-out is because they go two-deep on the DL with guys like DaShawn Hand (remember him?), who got 16 snaps against MSU. 16. For the #1 recruit in the country.

Anyway, this is a huge reason why Michigan's 2016 defense is so enticing. If they give in to inevitability and play an actual DE at their WDE/buck spot their two deep is f-ing ridiculous:

  • SDE: Wormley, Godin
  • 3T: Henry, Hurst
  • NT: Glasgow, Mone
  • WDE: Charlton, and sure let's just say Rashan Gary

Shelton Johnson, Marshall, Pallante, and various freshmen are hanging out in the background.

This is also a reason I think buzz that Godin might not be invited back is faintly ridiculous—you need so many DL that getting rid of a guy you know can contribute is nuts. Godin is miscast as a DT and should be backing Wormley up, but he can be an RVB-type guy as an SDE.

Henry's decision. There is one hitch in the DL's giddyup for next year. Everyone regarded as a threat to head to the NFL early has declared an intent to return save Willie Henry. Henry put his name in for an evaluation and has not heard back yet:

"I put my (information in for draft feedback), but you know, I love playing with these guys. I really do," said Henry, an honorable mention All-Big Ten player this year. "I haven't (made a decision) yet, still waiting (on the feedback)."

Henry said he expects to hear back from the board soon, possibly next week. The deadline for early entrants into the 2016 NFL draft is Jan. 15.

I imagine that someone with Henry's raw power would be at least a mid-round candidate, so Henry has a decision to make. He can go now and try to parlay a second contract into a big pile of money or return and try to consolidate a spot in the top two rounds. Either makes sense for him personally.

Linebackers eh. Ben Gedeon struggled, bouncing off several tackles. He's a certain starter next year, and this is a concern. It's never good when you have a guy starting because the alternative is an umbrella, because you have no baseline he must be better than. While I thought Gedeon played well in his most extensive playing time (he played most of the Minnesota game) before the bowl, this was concerning. Other than quarterback, LB is the biggest question mark on next year's team.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Eh. Barely anything relevant in this game as Michigan punts once, hits a couple chip shot field goals, and nothing really happens in the return game for either team.

There were two incidents worth noting. Kenny Allen blasted his only punt 57 yards, and it probably would have been 70 if not for the end zone intervening. If you will recall, before he was a kicker he was the heir apparent to Will Hagerup. Michigan doesn't need to pick up an Aussie this year because Allen is likely a plus punter.

The other incident was Michigan snuffing out a fake field goal that was so obvious people could see it from space.

MISCELLANEOUS

Woof. That was not a good television broadcast. Replays of penalties were infrequent, Mike Patrick got every Michigan player's name wrong at least once, and the above play is going to have such a snarky description in UFR. Limbering my fingers up to get it right and proper.

Mike Patrick has reached the stage where he's uncertain what's happening in front of his face and will probably end up retiring soon. So there's that.

HERE

Best And Worst:

Best:  Dad Rocks

Before going any further, I highly suggest you check out Jake Rudock’s post at thePlayer’s Tribune.  It’s all a good read, but one of the highlights is that Rudock’s teammates started calling him “Dad”, I guess in part because he doesn’t use social media such as Instagram and because he’s a bit older than the average player.  Now, on on hand that’s sorta adorable that a soon-to-be 23-year-old is deemed an “old man”, and on the other hand really depressing because 23 was a LONG time ago for me.  Anyway…

One of the things you so often hear fans throw about when discussing sport is the relative “classiness” of players and teams.  If it’s your team, you usually view your players as “classy” guys who do it right, while your rivals tend to be degenerates or hypocrites, guys who don’t do it “the right way”, whatever that phrase means.  And in most cases, it’s just BS, concocted to mask the personal validation fans place on the jerseys they root for, to bolster the divinity of wins and soothe the sting of  losses.

But Michigan has been blessed recently with “good guys” at the QB position.

ELSEWHERE

Honestly I'm surprised it's taken this long for sideline jersey proximity to throw up something like this:

Max Bultman:

“We call ourselves ‘The Kingdom,’ we live in an apartment called ‘The Kingdom,’ ” Johnson said. “We stepped on the field today, and Jehu walked up to me and he goes, ‘Today.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘We’re going to get all three today.’ ”

On the stage at the trophy presentation, Chesson wondered aloud into the microphone if the trio of roommates scoring might be some kind of record.

And while STATS LLC doesn’t keep those kind of records, the moment was special for the trio, which had fallen just short so many times this season.

HSR:

There is a certain joy in watching your team pull away with a lead during its bowl game.  Like much of this season, it was a joy rediscovered during the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl this New Year's Day.  When Michigan got called for some pre-snap penalties, including a drive-extending illegal substitution penalty which led to what would be Florida's only score (and on a trick play, no less), it was a bit nerve-racking.  You don't want to see the season end and new year start on the wrong foot.  But then, a touchdown, an end zone pick, and a field goal and Michigan never looked back. Win with character, win with cruelty.  It wasn't a perfect game, but it did not need to be.  It was simply a well-executed game plan with improvement shown from the several bowl practices.  Hooray for bowl practices.

Sap's Decals:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – Hands down, Jake Rudock was the straw that was stirring the Michigan Offensive drink today.  The turnaround in his play from the beginning of the season to the Citrus Bowl against Florida was remarkable.  It brought to mind two other amazing QB head-turning performances that I can recall in Michigan Football history: Steve Smith in 1983 and Tom Brady in 1999.  Once Smith had his harness removed from a separated shoulder earlier in 1983, #16 responded with three amazing performances to finish his career as a Wolverine.  Tom Brady became Tom Brady in the last three games of his Wolverine career as well.

Jake

Performances against Penn State, Ohio State and Alabama showed everyone why Lloyd Carr wanted #10 to just wait for his turn for good things to happen.  Can you imagine what Jake Rudock would be like after spending 3 or 4 years with Harbaugh and this staff?  While we won’t see it with Rudock per se, I have a feeling we will see that metamorphosis with the next Michigan QB.  Can’t wait!  When Rudock was interviewed after the game by Dr. Jerry Punch and he informed #15 that he was only the second QB in Michigan history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season, you could see Rudock get choked up – awesome!  While he was the QB for just one season, Jake Rudock left an indelible mark on Michigan Football.  Thanks for a great and memorable year to the guy his teammates call “Dad!”

Baumgardner:

One year ago, Harbaugh inherited a Michigan roster that was downtrodden, beaten up and sitting on its couch during bowl season.

Twelve months later?

"Jackhammers."

Over the course of the past 367 days, Harbaugh's first Michigan football team began to take on the personality of its relentless head coach day by day, week by week, practice by practice and game by game.

Chris Bryant posted video from the locker room:

Posted by Chris Cinco-Ocho Bryant on Friday, January 1, 2016

Wormley:

"I'd say maybe even as close as right after halftime, we came out and scored and shut them down on defense," Wormley said. "You could see it in their eyes. 
"You can tell when someone wants to quit, when someone doesn't want to play anymore. It's a good feeling, especially for a defense, step on their throats and be relentless."

ESPN:

"They just out-physicaled us," McElwain said.

Ric Flair congratulated Harbaugh.

Comments

OC Alum91

January 4th, 2016 at 12:30 PM ^

"The Chesson touchdown, while easy, was the culmination of Rudock's year. That closed the circle from the Utah game. Later Rudock would dump a 45-yard post route in Chesson's lap to put a cherry on top."

It was also nice to see Grant Perry connect on a few with Rudock (in contrast to Utah INT's), also closing the circle from the Utah game.

WolverineHistorian

January 4th, 2016 at 5:04 PM ^

I had no expectations for Chesson before the season started. I was just praying Darboh would step up.

That was the my biggest fear back during summer. Who the crap was Rudock going to be throwing to? Chesson has been the biggest pleasant surprise this year.

And I like Brian's comparison of Darboh to Jason Avant. They're not the ones that are going to be targeted for the bombs but they're very reliable on the short to 30 yard passes and capable of making the circus one handed catch.

tspoon

January 5th, 2016 at 10:45 AM ^

I loved Mario, but the better former M player comparison for Chesson is Derrick Alexander.  At least in terms of his physical gifts and playing style. Lanky-tall with tons of straight line speed and a bit more wiggle than people expect of him.  Not elite hands, but developing into very good.  Is a consistent threat to take the top off the D, but also can make plays at the mid-level, including an ability to either juke for or fight for YAC.  

Chesson is still growing a lot as a wideout ... this is a guy who is still getting coached up.  I think we see a VERY interesting player in him next fall.  I was one of the few who was fairly bullish on him coming into the season (loved his work ethic combined with the speed/length combo), but I didn't expect him to come this far, this fast.

Chesson already blocks immeasurably better than either Manningham or DA ever did.  I wouldn't take him in a footrace over DA, but he does so many other things at least as well or better.

And there is an even greater separation off the field.  As Drake Johnson noted that Jehu stands out on the team for "having his sh!t together" ... well, that was quite the opposite of Mario and Derrick, who would have done well for themselves to be a little more responsible in life.  DA, in particular, is one guy who is awfully glad that the internet was only a pipe dream during his college years.  

 

 

Everyone Murders

January 4th, 2016 at 12:34 PM ^

The two things that stood out with Rudock for me were:

  • The timing routes, especially with Chesson, were sublime against a very good defense.
  • The pass into the smallest of windows for a TD.  I was certain that was going to be an INT (or PBU at the least), and then I'm high-fiving my son.

Just a great way to end the season and begin 2016!

1464

January 4th, 2016 at 12:55 PM ^

Not to get overly sentimental over the season, but the Rudock story is going to be something I remember for a long time.  For a while, I thought the mystique of football was lost on me.  

You grow up and that nostaligia feeling kinda leaves.  I remember being young and throwing a football with friends for hours.  Summer,winter... didn't matter.  Only trying to catch the ball with one hand.  "WOODSON!" "BRAYLON!"  Then going to practice in the fall and not daring to stick only one hand out.  Didn't want to get my ass chewed off.  There was a sacredness to Michigan football that sorta left when I grew up.  You notice the commercial side, you get the nuance of the fact that these players are people, not idols.  Concussions, paying players, not paying players...  It just loses something.

For some reason, the year that Rudock had has captured that sense again.  It's posted in the annals of history.  It left a mark.  It meant something.  My son is still a few years too young to be catching lob passes with one hand, but hopefully Harbaugh will be able to instill that same sense of mysticism that made me a lifelong Michigan fan.

Everyone Murders

January 4th, 2016 at 1:08 PM ^

I think there's a lot to what you say, but I'm not sure that the nostalgia leaving is necessarily tied to growing up.  To a certain extent it is due to maturing, it is, but eight or so years "in the wilderness" with the RichRod and Hoke years can also rob you of a lot of nostalgia.  So can losses to Appy State and Toledo.  Etc. 

In any event, I think most of us never lost our connection to the program.  It's just that last year the connection felt a lot less like the connection you feel to a dog rescued from a shelter - and a lot more like the connection you feel to a dog that rescues Timmy from the well.

JFW

January 4th, 2016 at 1:08 PM ^

I agree. Watching his arc, and indeed the arc of the team, brought back some of the magic of when I was a kid. 

 

The whole team was fun. I was not optimistic at the start of the season, but I said if we went to a decent bowl and won, and saw player development, I'd be happy. 

 

I'm happy. 

looty

January 4th, 2016 at 12:37 PM ^

Great season and effort by all! Already looking for next year and lucky enough to head to the UA game Saturday.  Hate to say it but was not impressed with Walker.  Thought he was out there running through the motions and played like he didnt want to get hurt.  Did get a "Go Blue" from him at half time walking into the locker room! Great crowd at the game and it wouldnt surprise me if the stadium was split 50/50.  Half way through the third quarter than % jumped to 80/20 

stephenrjking

January 4th, 2016 at 12:40 PM ^

Big win against a real team in a Bowl: 100% awesome.

People have asked when we have felt this good (or optimistic, slightly different) after a Bowl win. Lloyd's last win obviously left many good feelings, but it was tinged with bittersweetness. First, because Michigan played a wide-open cutthroat football game that would've won games in 06 and 07 that they lost; second, because while I was on the RR bandwagon there was no question 2008 was going to be a rebuilding year.

Now, there are no regrets, and the immediate future is very bright. And Michigan hasn't looked this good in a bowl game since the Hall of Fame Bowl against NC State over 20 years ago.

Not that bowl games are everything, of course. I went to one in Tampa. Michigan's offense struggled, the QB threw a bad pick, and I left at the end of the game amidst the incessant chanting of our victorious opponents. It was January 1, 1997. Things turned up.

Mabel Pines

January 4th, 2016 at 2:30 PM ^

We couldn't think of the last satisfying, easy bowl win.  I was thinking 1993?  When the whole OL received the MVP trophy.  It's a glorious feeling.  I just ran into the UPS guy today, who is a huge Michigan fan, also harassed by State people (we live in State country) and he gave me the biggest hug ever.  Just a delightful bowl season!!!

Sam1863

January 4th, 2016 at 4:08 PM ^

That's the one I thought of - the whole "You can't stop us and we both know it" overwhelming force. It's been a long time since we've had a bowl game where we've been on the giving end of an effort like that. (Being on the receiving end is another story.)

I honestly didn't want the game to end, it was just so much fun to watch.

UM Fan from Sydney

January 4th, 2016 at 12:42 PM ^

Is Michigan just not interested in wearing blue jerseys in bowl games? We were the higher-ranked team and still wore white. I hate that. Wear blue, damn it. Admittedly, I know nothing about the decision for which teams where which jerseys.

raleighwood

January 4th, 2016 at 12:43 PM ^

"De'Veon Smith went full Ricky Vaughn in this game...." 

At first I missed this reference and thought it was some kind of Ricky Powers / Jon Vaughn hybrid......showing my age, I guess.  A quick Google search set the record straight. 

"Give 'em the heater, Ricky!"

evenyoubrutus

January 4th, 2016 at 12:43 PM ^

Even if we have the same injury problems on the D line next year, the "replacements" that could potentially fill in are still way better than what we had in 2015.  Worst case scenario we are burning the redshirts of guys like Jordan Elliott, Ron Johnson or Carlo Kemp, and Reuben Jones and Shelton Johnson will presumably be options to rotate in.  It's virtually impossible to see a repeat of 2015 on the D line.

Hail-Storm

January 4th, 2016 at 1:53 PM ^

I remember watching his recruiting tapes, and thinking he was going to be fun to watch.  It was always brought up that it was against Utah competition, but he made some great cuts and outran plenty of secondaries in high school.  I thought he was going to be a big back/full back and did not realize he had so few carries in his career until this year. Too bad he burned his redshirt on special teams.

Also, Kerridge, man some of those hits. I don't think defenders are used to getting hit like that. 

Hail-Storm

January 4th, 2016 at 1:58 PM ^

I was frustrated that with first half of the year Jake. I was frustrated that we didn't get any of the promise of a game manager. Then again, he completely out did any expectation I had even from the beginning of the year. His throws down field took a 180 from depressing heaves, to beautiful laser guided throws. I still can't believe some of the throws on some deep posts he had in the last half of the season.  A truly amazing player and great story.  

umchicago

January 5th, 2016 at 12:37 AM ^

he never really was a game manager.  the first half of the year he was subpar.  the second half of the year he was an all big ten QB who carried the team on his back.  two extremes.  i've never seen anything like that out of a QB over the course of just one season; likely never will again.

kudos to jake rudock.  he deserves a shot at the nfl.

Indonacious

January 4th, 2016 at 12:56 PM ^

I'm not sure if QB is necessarily in the same category of "unproven" as LB. In fact, O'Korn has a pretty accomplished resume for someone who is a "new starter" for our team.

I realize he was benched as a sophomore, but his OC was awful and resigned that year. His freshman year statistics were pretty good. I think we all know the impact a crappy OC can have on a QB...

3117 yards, 58.1% completion, 7.0 YPA, 28TD/10INT (That's Rudock/Connor Cook level production) as a freshman based on the above mentioned table.

He has had a year to immerse himself in the system, learn from harbaugh, take scout team reps, and roomed with Rudock. I feel pretty good about him stepping in. Teams like MSU, for example, have less proven transitions awaiting them.

2013 Season Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN8lJBzYpfM

 

kehnonymous

January 4th, 2016 at 12:52 PM ^

All your steady-to-brilliant, high-character wide receivers from war-torn countries in Africa are belong to us.

Other thoughts -

The most pleasant surprise for me was the tailbacks.  How much of Deveon and Drake's decisive running was bowl practices+coaching finally sinking in vs. just being as healthy as they'd been in months?

It definitely seemed like we just flat-out broke Florida midway through the third quarter - I sure as hell do not want to minimize our dominance but Florida had more than a few injuries/suspensions - how much of a factor do you think did morale (or lack thereof) with the Gators play?

reshp1

January 4th, 2016 at 1:12 PM ^

IIRC, their DT (Brantley?) was injured early in the 2nd half towards the end of our scoring drive. Their DL had been getting good penetration pretty regularly up to that point, although Michigan did well to make it mostly irrelevant with good play calling and RB play. There was a play were Brantley beat a double team from Kalis and Magnuson, and then a pulling Braden, to stuff Deveon Smith for a 4 yard loss. After he went out, they seemed much more passive. 

Pepto Bismol

January 4th, 2016 at 1:45 PM ^

I agree with where you're going with that.  I never expected a 41-7 blasting, but I was confident given the way the two teams were building up to this game.

Michigan saw the announced return of Butt, Lewis & Wormley and comments about how this wasn't a vacation and Harbaugh had them thinking football 24/7.  Meanwhile, Florida seemed to have another guy suspended every other day in addition to 3 or 4 juniors declaring for the NFL draft.

Again, easy to say now knowing the outcome, but Florida had the markings of a team that had checked out on 2015.