Why did Peppers seem to disappoint on offense this season in the big games? Lack of creativity? Poor execution on his part, maybe from limited reps? OL play? Cosmic misfortune?
There are many reasons.
- Defenses tended to absurdly over-focus on him when he entered the game. This resulted in a bunch of plays where his presence as a decoy created huge chunks for guys not named Peppers.
- Michigan's read option package was basic. Teams started scrape exchanging against it and Michigan did not have a response to it. This resulted in a number of plays that looked like bad reads but were in fact RPS minuses. It probably would have been more effective to just single-wing, or use Peppers as a tailback.
- He got some bad edge blocking from tight ends.
- Cosmic misfortune always plays a role.
In retrospect the QB package should have been dumped midseason, probably after Illinois shut it down, and Michigan should have moved on to something else. They've been good at doing this so far under Harbaugh—fullback traps fell out of the offense this year—but not so here.
The Pepcat package featured something every high schooler is relentlessly drilled on these days: defending a crazy athlete QB. Michigan is not a spread option team. They are strictly dilettantes in that department. So you had a primitive attempt at spread option going up against the last ten years of defensive advancements against it. That is ceased working after a shock and awe period isn't a surprise.
Peters chatter, QB competition
daddy needs a new Andrew Luck [Fuller]
There never seemed to be much insider chatter floating around this year about how Peters was performing in practice. Obviously last year the big chatter was that, O'Korn was out performing Rudock. Question 1.) Do we know anything about how he performed this fall in practice?
Secondly, I for one was pleasantly surprised with Speight's performance this year and I believe exceeded what many's expectations were for him.
That being said -
Question 2.) Do you anticipate any serious competition next year between a Redshirt Peters and Speight for the starting gig?
After a productive spring, Peters chatter went to zero in fall camp. You shouldn't read anything into that, though. O'Korn got talked up last year because Rudock was so bad early and there was nobody else to talk about except Shane Morris, who was not a viable target for chatter after last year's Minnesota game.
Michigan had determined it was going to redshirt Peters, he got put on the scout team, and Speight played well enough that backup talk was restricted to a few off weeks. O'Korn's existence, meanwhile, kept what backup chatter existed focused on him until Indiana.
I do expect a serious QB competition this offseason. By "serious" I mean "there is at least a 20% chance someone not named Speight is the starting QB." Brandon Peters is extremely good and should eat up ground quickly since he was not one of those QB guru guys. Speight had a good sophomore season but remains someone else's QB that Harbaugh is making do with, and we saw him switch horses midstream in San Francisco. Speight's weak performance against Iowa and turnovers against OSU leave the door open for a challenger.
I'd be surprised if Peters passed Speight. I would not be shocked.
[After the JUMP: blueshirting, sartorial discussion, why do anything really I mean seriously]
Blueshirting is fine. It's got "blue" in it. QED.
In your latest recruiting round up you briefly described what a blue shirt is. Can you please explain this in more detail, especially if this is something UM is considering.
The consensus seemed to always be taking more than 25 recruits was dirty until you looked into the whole back dating and informed the blog. That made the practice seem OK in my mind. If I know more details on blue shirting, maybe I'll feel better about that, but it has a similar dirty feel.
I've never had a problem with teams recruiting a bunch of players as long as they have the room. Michigan has room.
They're in an unusual position because they had back to back years of 17 and 14 recruits as the Hoke era spluttered to a disastrous finish. That led to a big class last year, and there's still a ton of room this year since Michigan has lost a number of those guys. Peppers (probably), Canteen, Ferns, Pallante, and O'Neill are gone from the 2014 class; Brian Cole and Andrew David are already gone from 2015.
So Michigan's in a spot where they can legitimately add so many recruits that they outstrip the NCAA-mandated letter of intent count of 25. I'm still unclear on who counts and who doesn't but with Hawkins and Dytarious Johnson not making it in last year Michigan had 27 initial counters and backdated 7. (Ahmir Mitchell may or may not count but it doesn't really matter for our purposes.) Therefore they can backdate five guys this year and sign a total of 30.
Blueshirting is a way around the LOI cap. "Unrecruited" walk-ons can show up in fall camp and get a scholarship without being an "initial counter." In practice this means the recruit doesn't take an official and doesn't sign a LOI. I've been told that Michigan might not have to execute this maneuver for reasons I don't quite get because I'm not in NCAA compliance, but if they do there's nothing nefarious about it. Kid gets a scholarship immediately, as he was promised.
This is a very important sartorial discussion.
I’m wondering why no one has commented on Harbaugh’s pants at State. He upgraded to plain front last year – midway through the season. Though, he still did wear the pleats occasionally. It was reported that he was going to wear Jordan brand Khakis this year, and I’m curious whether what we saw was just that on Saturday. They had a very different cut … more like Jeans. For someone who doesn’t deviate from the norm, I thought it was pretty odd – and actually quite of an upgrade (to go with his retro glasses). Will this be the new look? Or did he forget his pants and send an assistant to go find anything that looked khaki.
I don't know why nobody has commented on Harbaugh's khakis. Seriously. This fanbase comments on everything else, several times in a row. You'd think a changeup like this would get at least one thread.
What's the point of Western?
I have been enjoying Western's perfect regular season this year and the MAC school taking its star turn in the national spotlight. (BTW, I can't help but wonder if Western's mascot has always looked as stoned as the one that appeared on College Gameday a few weeks ago?) Western never seriously entered into the College Football Playoff conversation, and I can understand the conventional wisdom behind that being the top MAC school would more than likely never be more than a middling contender in a Power 5 school. Fair enough. In that case why even bother considering the second-tier conferences for the CFP? Western did everything it could this season to win the national title but couldn't even come close to breaking through even against this year's highly imperfect field of CFP competition. So what's the point? Why bother having a 128-team FBS if roughly half of them have no shot of winning the national championship?
Keep up the good work,
It is possible for a team in the bottom half of D-I conferences to put themselves in the playoff conversation. They just have to beat Oklahoma. Western did not do this. They beat Northwestern and Illinois and then played a MAC schedule. An undefeated Houston with wins over Oklahoma and Louisville is at least in the conversation and maybe/probably in over Washington.
"What's the point?" is not the kind of question that got asked before there was a playoff. The point is to win the games that are put in front of you. The point of adding a G5 team to the New Year's Six is to forestall antitrust legislation. The point of having an 128 team FBS is... uh... ask Georgia State?
If you're asking me why an Appalachian State would rather be a D-I school that aspires to the Sponsor That Didn't Pay Us So We're Not Calling It That Bowl instead of battling NDSU annually for national championships, I have no earthly idea. The MAC has been D-I forever and knows nobody will ever win a national title out of that league, which is fine, I guess. Just enjoy the WMU season for what it is. I bet Bronco fans would rather take on Wisconsin than Alabama, anyway.