As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods,
They kill us for their sport.
What's going on with Rudock?
Brian - you made some comments today on the podcast about how Jake Rudock's inability to hit the deep ball has finally bitten us in the collective asses, which I agree. You also mentioned that when you watched him last year, while he wasn't dead-on every time, he was able to hit the deep pass from time to time - something he clearly can't do this year.
My question is this - to me, this does not seem like a 'new coach, new system' type of a problem. Those issues seem to be the ones where he fails to even attempt a throw to a wide open receiver (which he does all the time - but I give him more of a pass for that as the "new system / new coach" issue). But when he throws the deep pass, only inaccurately - that suggests to me an issue with maybe his mechanics or something else that has thrown off his accuracy past 15 yards. Any thoughts why that might be? If anything, I would expect his deep accuracy to improve with a guy like Harbaugh teaching him the fundamentals. Again, I separate this from other issues such as "stares down Butt" or "ignores screamingly open routes every once in awhile."
Yeah, you got me. Some of the Rudock problems are issues that make sense given what we saw from him at Iowa. Not throwing at sort of covered Jake Butt on second and goal from the 18 is a Rudock problem I can understand. That is his reputation. Rudock not finding receivers is a problem I can understand. He's in a new system.
Rudock underthrowing Amara Darboh by about 20 yards is inexplicable. Any quarterback is going to be off on some long throws; to miss as often and as badly as Rudock has is not something that I saw last year. That's not just homerdom. Preseason, PFF put out an article titled "Michigan can win with QB Jake Rudock" that noted he was 12th in downfield (20+ yards in the air) accuracy by their system last year. In the Maryland game, BTN had a similar stat:
The disparity is certainly bigger now.
I don't know if he's hurt or his mechanics are messed up or what, but for whatever reason his ability to hit downfield passes has collapsed. Why? I dunno. Is there something different in what he's doing here?
Since one is in the middle of the field and one on the sideline. Those are throws of about the same length. Am I crazy or does the 2015 video look like a guy who's loading up to get it as far as he can while 2014 sees Rudock make a throw that's comfortably within his range? I dunno.
Something is wrong. A problematic injury, possibly one that caused the weird Iowa QB depth chart thing, is a possible explanation. The other explanation is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Ref hot take
Having read Seth’s analysis of the officiating (and you really should make him do that weekly) my question is why – why did this happen to us? If you ascribe these “errors” to incompetence, shouldn’t there be an equal number of blown calls going in our favor? Incompetent referees should be just as likely to screw things up for team A as team B and over the course of a 60 minute game shouldn’t it balance relatively out if they are simply incompetent?
The obvious alternative to incompetence is the officials had an agenda and carried it out. Granted, we still should’ve won the game but with so many critical calls being made against Michigan it made the game much closer than it needed to be and allowed the last play to finally tip the scale in MSU’s favor. And if it’s an agenda – why does it exist?
What say you? Incompetence, agenda or something else?
If you flip a coin a million times there are going to be stretches in there where you get a long series of heads or tails. Michigan just ate an game that was virtually all tails. There's no need for a further explanation. Over the past decade or so it's been definitively proven that the replay officials are not good enough at their job, but that's all. The Big Ten tends to use retired referees in the booth, with evidently disastrous results.
If there was any sort of "plan" here Michigan wouldn't have gotten a free touchdown when their receiver barely scraped the pylon a few years back in this very game. Remember that? That call was overturned from the correct call to free TD. Replay officials should no longer be people with rotary phones. Actual officials are probably the best we've got. That sucks; not much to do about it.
[After THE JUMP: HSPs future, Whoville analogy, we should have done this or that]
Hybrid space players of the future
With the success of Jabrill Peppers in the HSP role and the HSP as the future of defense, what does the future of the position look like for Michigan? Michigan could have as little as one more year of Peppers, his replacement is likely on campus or committed right now, but it isn't clear (at least to me) who the heir apparent is? Who are your top candidates to take over the spot after Jabrill Peppers moves on to the NFL?
Tyree Kinnel. Kinnel is an excellent athlete who is a corner/safety tweener, but don't just take it from me:
“Kinnel is just a great athlete. I would put him up there with guys like Cam Burrows and others like that from years past. He’s half safety and half corner. He has great coverage skills. He has good size. He is a fit kid.”
All three major recruiting services made that exact comment about Kinnel. While he's not Peppers his reputation is the kind of guy who can cover in space and lay a lick when that's required. He is, or will soon be, the heir apparent.
I mean, probably. Safety is looking mighty thin right about now. Next year Michigan will have senior versions of Hill and Thomas plus Kinnel and true freshmen. The only safety type they have committed right now is Josh Metellus, a sleeper out of Florida. Kinnel might get drafted at safety and then you're back to Countess-style nickelbacks.
Acquiring safeties is a major priority in recruiting the rest of the way.
How likely is the OSU game to be a defacto division championship now?
Enquiring minds want to know:
What is the predicted probability of State winning each of their remaining games? We need them to lose two. We have to count on them losing to the Buckeyes. What is the other game we need to pin our hopes on? Is it at Nebraska? Home against Penn State? Do the Hoosiers have a chance?
If you go by the advanced stats there's a surprisingly good shot. S&P has the Spartans just 26th. If we assume a loss to OSU, S&P gives MSU just a 21% chance of winning out otherwise, with games at Nebraska and home against PSU near coinflips.
That is optimistic. The stats don't know that MSU has been missing big chunks of their OL that has returned; also the outstanding weakness of MSU's defense will be difficult for Nebraska and Penn State to take advantage of. But if MSU was in dogfights against terrible Purdue(#98) and Rutgers(#92) outfits, every game on the schedule is losable. Except Maryland.
All of the infinite "we should have done X" emails.
This can stand in as a proxy for the rest:
In a situation like the one M found itself in on Saturday, have you ever heard of or seen a team put a man back behind the punter, sort of like the safety man on a kneel? He could protect against a high or low snap that goes past the punter, or in the case like Saturday, or a simple block, he's there for a potential tackle. Might be silly to plan for catastrophe like that but high/low snaps, bobbled snaps, and blocked punts collectively are not uncommon. And I can't help think that if Pepper was ten yards behind Blake we might be having a different conversation right now.
In Jim we trust,
Yeah, that would have been better than having Jourdan Lewis amble downfield by himself. Yes, they probably should have been in whatever formation they have for punts from their own goal line. No, they shouldn't have tried something weird or fancy to drain the last ten seconds. It took both a fumbled snap and a very bad decision afterward and that bad decision ending up directly in the hands of a guy running full speed for that to happen on a play that won't happen for another 20 years across CFB.
Practice time is limited and better spent on things that had won the game until a series of highly improbable things all happened at once.
But yeah next time have a safety.
I've encountered something odd, and after looking around, it's more common then I thought. It seems that Spartan fans, are angry that Michigan fans, aren't as upset, as they feel we should be. They want us to be devastated. To admit that it was the most gut wrenching, soul stealing thing that's ever happened in our lives. The fact that most of us are keeping things in prospective... this is Harbaugh first year, building a culture, waiting for a QB to make his offense go, ect.... well, it's disturbing a lot of Spartans. They feel like this should be a referendum loss. That this loss should define Michigan, and Harbaugh.
It's almost to the point they're more upset about us not being upset, then they are happy about winning. I even heard Wojo talking about this strange phenomena. He said it reminded him of, the Grinch stealing Christmas, yet all the people in Whoville coming out and singing... and the Grinch perplexed as to why... that's Spartan fans right now.
For real. Twitter's been interesting this week. I put up the game column and had a pile of Spartans descend on me for calling their trash program for what it is. Sorry guys, but if you play a guy who pulled a gun on someone this summer and repeatedly try to injure Michigan players once a game is decided and have a linebacker suspended from the Rose Bowl for still-undisclosed reasons that your beat writers scramble to cover up and run all the way from the other endzone to taunt the Michigan student section, I am going to call your program trash. You can call me whatever you want; the difference is that I don't care and won't read it.
OSU fans, too. Eleven Warriors just put up a boutique site dedicated to the bad things that have happened over the past eight years thanks to Michigan's "institutional arrogance"; I pointed out that a school that…
- had its last coach fired for repeatedly lying to the NCAA
- went undefeated and missed a bowl game because their athletic director thought they could get away with the previous bullet point without a post-season ban
- actually calls itself THE Ohio State University
…accusing anyone else of institutional arrogance was ironic, and RIP my mentions.
I mean, at this point I've seen a lot of bad things. After the immediate stun effect of that game I was more or less fine. As I said in the game column, it's clear where this is going and I'm just happy to have actual football back in my life. If this happens when M has a big opportunity in year five they I might get shook up. Right now I am calm because I like where this is going… and rivals are foaming at the mouth at me for that take.
Previous stops are not this stop
What is the likely Harbaugh tenure at Michigan if all goes according to plan? And by “according to plan” I mean successful seasons of 10+ wins, BCS bowls, and possibly an NC? Am I unrealistic to think 5 years is too much considering he doesn’t coach for more than 4 years at each organization he’s been at?
Harbaugh left his coaching stops before San Francisco because they were steps up the coaching ladder, not because he had "worn out his welcome." Getting the Stanford job is a great move when you're at a non-scholarship I-AA school. Getting the 49ers job is a great move when you're at Stanford.
The only actual evidence that Harbaugh can't stay in a place for a long time is what went down in San Francisco, and at this point the entire world knows who the problem actually was. Jed York's a version of Dave Brandon the 49ers can't fire.
I'm not making any promises about Harbaugh because he's an extraordinarily strong-willed guy who is not necessarily a lifer. But he's building homes here, his kids are in school here, and this is his home. I think he'll be around a good long while.