Oh God What If Boston College Follows You Around Like You Just Broke Up With It And It Wants To Be Friends Comment Count

Brian October 9th, 2017 at 11:49 AM

10/7/2017 – Michigan 10, Michigan State 14 – 4-1, 1-1 Big Ten


a metaphor for somethin' [Bryan Fuller]

Don Brown is in one of those Progressive commercials where everything gradually turns white, except in his case everything is gradually turning back into Boston College. Someone walks by with a bunch of hockey sticks. Bill Simmons is on the television again. He swears he overhears a conversation about pahking the cah. Maroon filters into his peripheral vision.

On Wednesday at three fifteen PM there is going to be a knock on the door. Steve Addazio is going to walk in and sit down. Brown will summon all his willpower not to jam the nearest pen through his own eyesocket, to claw the power of sight from his face and evaporate from the world of men.

Jay Harbaugh, seated, will wonder if the slight twitch under Brown's eye means anything or if it's just something that happens to men of a certain age. He will not say something about "guys being dudes," and will never know how close he—how close all of us—came to Total Mustache Annihilation. He will tell Brown about Terrace House, a Japanese version of the Real World where everyone is very nice and considerate of each other's feelings.

Thus disabused of the Addazio specter, Brown will resume destroying all that opposes him until the inevitable knife in the back. He tries not to think of Sisyphus, and fails.


Michigan's main problem on offense is that they are bad at it. This is not a good problem. "Our right tackle sucks" is something you might be able to address. "Almost everyone is not good at football right now" leads to situations like Saturday. I brought up the Law Of Large Percentages Multiplied A Lot, which is something I just made up right now, in a brief twitter conversation with a reporter who wanted people to know one weird thing about Oklahoma football:

That is a weird thing, but it's not as weird as it sounds. If OU was a 10 point favorite in eight games they'd get through unscathed just 12% of the time*. If they were a 14 point favorite they get up to 27%. You have to get up to 17.5—a 93.7% shot at victory!—before Hypothetical OU even hits 50%. The Law Of Large Percentages Multiplied A Lot is that even big ones fall off faster than you'd think.

Michigan's offense has 6-7-8 guys who have to execute on any particular play for it to be a success, and... let's just say many of them are not three-score favorites to do so on any particular play. They are an example of The Law Of Large Percentages And Some Quite Small Ones Multiplied A Lot. The results can be seen in the box score, or the haunted look on the face of a man who replaced ten starters and still has the #3 defense in the country.

And so today the Must brigade is out. "Must" is the worst word in sportswriting for a lot of reasons. Foremost among them is that whatever follows "must" is something so blindingly obvious Marcelo Balboa is probably talking about a replay of it as we speak. He must catch that ball. He must YES WE KNOW I HAVE EYES, AT LEAST FOR NOW, I'M CONSIDERING A CHANGE IN THAT DEPARTMENT, THANK YOU.

I spent most of the weekend trying and failing to get this column done because I couldn't wade into any commentary on the game that wasn't furious and over the top, and immediately made me want to go do something else. Weird shit happens in college football, especially when you're playing your backup QB, and there's a brief second-half monsoon, and on top of that you turn the ball over five times. Various dirt stupid people are now flogging a "Harbaugh is 1-4 versus rivals" thing as if that encapsulates the whole of his tenure, or even his career. Yeah, Michigan had the dumb thing happen on the punt and lost by a literal inch in Columbus last year. If you're ascribing that to something other than chance I cannot help you.

Whatever Harbaugh MUST do he's probably already doing. He has a track record, and he'll either follow that up with more of the same or not. We're oddly locked in: few coaches trying to establish themselves at a new school come with the pedigree that Harbaugh does, so he'll get a ton of time and a bunch of rope and we'll see where it goes. It'll probably go really well once they aren't carrying the baggage of someone else's screwups on top of their base rate.

But I mean, go ahead and yell about how unacceptable everything is, I guess. We are dying to hear about your feelings.

*[This is based on this site's conversion of point spreads to winners.]


blanket [Fuller]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Mo Hurst. Hurst got to play a lot of three tech this week and went from making good plays that someone else scoops up the glory on to wrecking the interior of the opposition offense himself. The fourth down stop stands out, because Hurst may have induced the fumble from a nervous center; Hurst whooped him anyway and the play was doomed either way.

#2 Lavert Hill. Hill's three PBUs were all excellent plays, and he was in the hip pocket of whoever his assignment was for the duration. MSU had... one open receiver? Maybe two? Lewerke averaged 4.3 YPA. Hill played the largest part in that.

#3 Brad Robbins. Averaged 43 yards a punt in often-difficult conditions and mindblasted the MSU returner on the muff; gave up just ten total return yards on seven attempts.

Honorable mention: Most of the rest of the defense. And... Grant Perry, I guess?

KFaTAotW Standings.

8: Devin Bush (#1 Florida, T2 Cincinnati, T2 Air Force, #1 Purdue)
5: Chase Winovich(#1 Air Force, #2a Purdue) 
3: Mason Cole (#1, Cincinnati), Ty Isaac (#2, Florida, #3 Cincinnati), Mo Hurst (#1 MSU)   
2: Quinn Nordin (#3 Florida, #3 Air Force), John O'Korn (#2 Purdue), Lavert Hill (#2 MSU)
1: Khaleke Hudson (T2 Cincinnati), Tyree Kinnel (T2 Cincinnati), Mike McCray(T2 Air Force), Sean McKeon(T3 Purdue), Zach Gentry (T3 Purdue), Brad Robbins(#3 MSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

MSU's punt returner dorfs on a bomb by Robbins, muffing it back to the two and setting up a short field that Michigan would use to get their touchdown.

Honorable mention: The first drive was pretty all right until the back-to-back fades.


Eddie McDoom drops a pass that would have taken Michigan down to the 25 with 13 seconds left.

Honorable mention: Pick a turnover but especially the first two, as they were key in Michigan's deficit by the time the rain arrived. Lewerke scrapes out a late first down because he lands on Michigan players. Michigan gets a touchdown wiped off the board on a Higdon holding call. Most offensive plays.

[After THE JUMP: what would you say you do here]


Under pressure. I am down with Tim Drevno glaring at this juncture. He got dealt a tough hand. So far he's blown it. He comes in late and takes a flier on Ulizio; Ulizio just got yanked for Bushell-Beatty. More egregious was Michigan's OL recruiting the year after. Despite an obvious, crying need for tackles Michigan took zero—zero zero zero.

They inherited Erik Swenson and dicked around with him until January despite the fact they knew they had no desire to take him. Then they got blindsided by Devery Hamilton's Stanford flip. Replacing those guys was... nobody. Michigan added Stephen Spanellis, who's 100% a guard, and has since played Ben Bredeson exclusively at guard despite the fact that he was supposedly neck and neck with Newsome for the LT job last year. So instead of two redshirt freshman tackle bullets Michigan has nothing but Ulizio and Brady Hoke's leftovers.

Michigan has one highly touted tackle in Drevno's tenure, freshman Chuck Filiaga. Michigan had to know about the looming hole there and they've utterly failed to address it. That goes back to Drevno. Add in the disjointed OL in year three and it might be FCS head coaching time.

Settle in. Bizarrely, in the midst of the game Chris Fowler told the world that Wilton Speight had cracked vertebrae and was out for the season. Tom Van Haaren followed this up with an article:

Wilton Speight has three broken vertebrae in his back, a source confirmed to ESPN.

ESPN's Chris Fowler first reported Speight's injury at the top of ABC's Saturday night broadcast of the Michigan State-Michigan game saying: "Wilton Speight ... he is out, probably for the season. He has three broken vertebrae, he told us." ...

While it's likely that Speight will be out for the remainder of the season, he will be reevaluated six to eight weeks after the injury occurred.

For unnecessary confirmation, a reader forwarded this David Turnley photo along from instasnapbook:


I got a report that Speight told someone not affiliated with ESPN he could be back in four weeks. I'd assume that the longer projection is more likely to be correct. It boggles the mind that fractured freakin' vertebrae aren't obviously season-ending. Anyway, don't expect Speight back any time soon.

O'Korn couldn't see anything. I don't know how much of O'Korn's tendency to stand in the pocket for four or five seconds before attempting to scramble out was on him and how much was on the wide receivers not getting open. That was the main theme in the passing offense, though: reasonable protection that eventually breaks down on the right side; O'Korn hangs onto the ball way too long. A couple of sacks were four or five seconds in the pocket, and O'Korn has to know that he's not likely to get that much time.

Break glass in case of—*BREAKS GLASS*. If Speight's out for the year and O'Korn continues to struggle the calls for Brandon Peters will be incessant, and I'll be amongst them. Without a radically improved offense this team is topping out as a Citrus Bowl outfit. Time to see what Peters brings to the table.



I have several problems with you people. Michigan's first drive was going swimmingly until two routes in the corner of the endzone yielded zilch. One was a wheel route to McKeon that was well covered, and I guess that's understandable. The second was a fade to McDoom. Michigan's policy of exclusively throwing fades at people a foot shorter than Zach Gentry is driving me crazy. Fades aren't great in general. Fades at a 5'11" guy who isn't Jeremy Gallon make me want to fade into Bolivia.

At least the Hail Mary went at the right guy:



So we've got that going for us.

Zero QB run game. Other game calling complaints: Michigan had zero QB run game for O'Korn. I'm not asking Michigan to go Denard with him, but at no point did Michigan make MSU even think about O'Korn as a runner. Very frustrating when MSU gets half their rushing yards from Lewerke, and even more so when the second half cried out for various ways to make yards without throwing the ball.


These guys are too close together [Upchurch]

Next to zero deep shots. I saved the worst for last, but I'm not sure exactly who this is on: Michigan basically did not test the Michigan State safeties in pass coverage. One attempted corner route to Gentry was broken up after it looked like DPJ ran the wrong route, drawing additional defenders—or at least not delaying them. Michigan didn't go after them again, basically for the whole game. What deep shots did exist were on the sideline against the corners; M utterly failed to heed the lessons of the Big 12.

Crawford. He had a play on a deep ball and did not make it, adding to his litany of missed opportunities. Have to wonder if Black could have made a difference here. The continued absence of Oliver Marin and Nico Collins means they're all but certain to redshirt; I guess I can't complain about that because Freshman Wide Receivers Suck, but I am a little disappointed one of them hasn't broken through a battered screen door.

Yes, Brady Hoke is still partially responsible for this. The only Hoke players who are playing more than a very minor role are the two fullbacks, Ty Isaac, Mason Cole, and Patrick Kugler. The quarterback depth chart reads...

  • Generic Three Star
  • Houston Transfer
  • Redshirt Freshman

...because of Hoke.

Michigan's unusual wait to pick up Harbaugh is another contributing factor. Harbaugh brought in a bunch of dudes from the NFL who were picking up college recruiting cold and had to scramble to add a number of guys in three weeks. They added more contributors in that time than Hoke did for the entire cycle. (Wheatley, Gentry, Higdon, and Perry vs Kinnel, Newsome, and I guess Ulizio.) It was still not enough to rescue a tiny class.



crunch [Upchurch]

So that's how you stay in contact with five turnovers. The preview projected ten MSU points plus whatever the offense handed them, and this turned out to be pessimistic. MSU had 8 three-and-outs, one of them a four-and-out turnover on downs. They gave up a short-field TD drive based mostly on QB scrambles; they gave up an actual long TD drive that was about half a contested downfield deep ball that was a PBU... and also a catch. A selection of we-saved-this plays got them the rest of the way. One 50 yard run was about the only other thing Michigan gave up until the four-minute drill that got a couple first downs, the second incredibly fortunate.

The second-half D was helped out by the weather and MSU's (very, very correct) conservative approach, but you really can't ask for more. Michigan should have ground MSU down in a field position game for the entirety of the second half and won, but O'Korn's interceptions prevented that.

More Mone. Bryan Mone got his most extensive playing time of the year. He—or another DT—was almost always in there on any manball-ish snap. Mone did well, plowing various dudes back, and that's reassuring for future manball outings and Mone's future in general.

Bush relatively quiet. Devin Bush made a number of tackles at or near the line of scrimmage but didn't have any dramatic backfield plunderings. For the first time this year he was held off the stat sheet aside from tackles. It'll be interesting to see whether that was tactical from either team, a manball effect, or just one of those things.

FWIW, the PF he got was total crap; even if he deserved it he'd just been punched in the face and at worst it should have been offsetting. The offsides at the end was painful. I mean, sort of. It would have been more painful if it seemed like the offense could score in the next sixty years.


no sir [Fuller]

Lavert Hill headed towards excellent. Hill had three PBUs, each of them excellent. The most excellent may have been a zone snap where he was in cover two and fell off the short route, breaking up a 15-ish yard throw that otherwise would have been a first down chunk. He had another on a deep corner route on which he was in the WR's hip pocket and provided zero window.

There were a few open MSU receivers short in zone stuff and one a bit deeper—he dropped it. Other than that, nothing was open. Brandon Watson kinda sorta got beat on a ball he got his hand on; that's the second time in two weeks that's happened to a Michigan CB. Makes you wonder why Michigan isn't trying to get similar chunks when nothing else is working.

No sacks, barely. Lewerke was dragged down fractionally behind the line of scrimmage a couple times but the official box score had those as zero yard runs, so Rashan Gary did not get credit for a sack when he flung down Lewerke with one hand.


Got one? Probably. Given the trajectory of one MSU punt and Jared Wangler going nuts afterwards I think Michigan got their first punt block of the year. Unfortunately it was one of those that goes 22 yards instead of –22 yards, but that's life, especially in this game.

Hartbarger was seemingly uncomfortable on a couple more, with some uncharacteristically short punts.

Never return kickoffs. That is all.


The ministry of silly runs. Chris Evans had occasion to do this in a football game:



Football is weird.


Best And Worst:

But this game felt like 2001, or 1990, or even 2015, games where Michigan State was more lucky than good. That doesn't mean MSU didn't play well enough to win, only that these weren't dominant wins by superior teams like (sadly) they were against Hoke's and RR's teams. MSU needed 5 turnovers (and none of their own), a backup QB, a torrential downpour, and a QB being stopped short after a fumbled snap yet sliding on his falling center's leg to barely hold on against Michigan, and while that's usually how underdogs win games, it doesn't point toward sustained dominance in this series by the Spartans.

Bill Connelly pointed this out in his Five Factors post this weekend: MSU had a turnover margin of +4.8 above their national average, which works out to about 24 points of "bad luck" by Michigan. Michigan lost such a game by 4 points, and had a chance on the last play to still pull it out. It always sucks to be the team that has the luck go against it, but this loss still feels different. MSU tried to give this game away, and they nearly did with poor clock management and even poorer self control. This loss, as bad as it is in the moment, feels like 2015, a stumble but not a fall. I don't put too much stock into tides or narratives, but this rivalry is starting to feel like it did during most of my youth, where MSU wins were notable because of their weirdness and not their dominance. And I think the other half of that equation, the scarcity of Spartan victories, will follow soon as well.

You can also keep up with Michigan alums playing in Japan:

Devin Gardner led the Nojima Rise to another high scoring victory, this time besting the Lixil Deers 38-35 at Amino Vital Field.

Mario Ojemudia recorded a sack on the opening series of the game for Nojuma. Starting from their own 42 after the subsequent punt, Gardner drove the Rise down to the Deer 11 yard line, and a field goal made it 3-0.





October 9th, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

this was a 30 min game.  What did the defense do in the first 30 min?

Drive chart

> 3-and-out, 0 yards

> 46-yard TD drive (big fail the way it happened for reasons explained later, but yes, also the penalty on Bush was BS)

> 6 plays for 20 yards and 2 first downs

> 9 play, 83 yard TD drive (30 yard gain well-covered but also WR made a play, but that's less than half of this drive)

> 4 plays, 44 yards gained, punt

> 3-and-out, -2 yards

That's 191 yards, 14 points, no TOs, 9 non-TD first downs, no sacks, 0 TFLs (!!!!!) on just 6 drives at home against a bad OL!

That's a 400 yard, 28 point pace.  If not for two terrible, terrible fumbles in the first half, we'd have probably been into halftime approximately tied (10-10 or 14-13 or so) and we'd be bitching that the defense didn't do enough to give us the lead before the rain came and we'd be praising the offense for running the ball well when we didn't think we could.

Everything our defense did in the second half was irrelevent because MSU, as Brian pointed out, was content to simply not turn the ball over and run the clock out.  So talking about the 8 three and outs is completely ignoring context.  There were only two in the first half.

We went into the game knowing half of MSU's offense is dependent on Lewerke scrambles and draws and we got RPS'd badly on that first TD drive.  They took Bush out of the game, neutralized the pass rush and we didn't contain Lewerke - the one thing we couldn't let happen.

In a game that we knew the first half would be critical, we didn't do a very good job stopping what we knew they'd do (save for the double PA screen, which was a beauty of a play, but still only 16 yards on a first down - good chance they score there even without that play). We couldn't afford to let them do the things we knew they'd do and adjust at the half.  As great as he's been, DB was outcoached in this one.


October 9th, 2017 at 4:16 PM ^

I'm sorry, but this is looking to find something to blame for no reason.

Don Brown's defenses have not given up more than 14 points in a game through 5 games. That is amazing consistency. Better yet, almost all of those points have come in the first half when the opposing offense has the advantage of game planning and showing new tendencies. Once Brown has had a chance to see what the team wants to do, he has basically shut them out. 

To summarize, Don Brown has kept Michigan within two scores in every game this year and prevented the other team from adding to its lead in the second half. And that is with an offense prone to turnovers! 

Need to look somewhere else to get your frustrations out.



October 9th, 2017 at 5:14 PM ^

Absolutely he's been great.  Best coach on the staff, I would argue. But this isn't about the first four games.

Look at the facts in this one.  The numbers and drive outcomes speak for themselves.  This is by no means a reach.  Was not a good defensive first half (which was the game).  It's fair to point that out.

It certainly wasn't terrible, but if anyone here wasn't shocked by how easily they moved the ball and how little havoc we created in the first half, then we can agree to disagree.  Maybe DB couldn't do anything about that because the MSU gameplan was so good (and part of my point is that it really was good), but either way, he was outcoached in the first half.


October 9th, 2017 at 10:45 PM ^

Again, WITH 5 TURNOVERS from his own offense, Brown kept Michigan within two scores and did not allow the opponent to add to their score in the second half. AND, kept the opponent to 14 points total.

Why is that an acceptable performance in the first four games and not this one? Because in this one, the offense didn't score more than 14.

You are basically saying Brown should have known Michigan was only going to score 10 so he should have kept MSU from scoring more than 9.


October 9th, 2017 at 11:40 PM ^

which shortened the game to 30 min and made it really easy on the defenses in the second half especially for the team with the lead that could literally do nothing by try not to turn it over. 

I don't know why that's so hard to understand and why you'd use full game stats as though that was representative of the defenses performance throughout the game.  They gave up as many points in the first half as Bowling Green and WMU gave up and those games were at MSU.  It just wasn't a very good defensive performance in the first half, and that is supported by empirical evidence and otherwise.

The five turnovers are being way overblown in terms of the impact on the defense.  The first was at midfield, which is generous field position, yes, but still two first downs from FG range and certainly not a gift TD.

The second fumble was irrelevant to the D/field position because it was at the end of the half. 

And all three in second half WERE IN A MONSOON when MSU cared more about not fumbling than trying to advance the ball.


October 10th, 2017 at 12:33 AM ^

I think you should write a game plan for Brown predicated on the forecasted weather and email it to him every week. Make sure to include all of the don't ever give up a point plays so he knows when to call them.

Write a couple game plans for Beilein too, while you are at it! I would love to see the 157-0 plan because you knew the refs were going to be biased that night.


October 10th, 2017 at 8:49 AM ^

There's room to criticize the defense this game. It's not an indictment on Brown, it speaks to the youth of this team. They are a great defense, but that first half was not their best performance. State pretty much took a knee the second half and the weather further amplified that. 


October 9th, 2017 at 4:26 PM ^

First I love Don Brown and our defense. So maybe I'm unrealistically expecting perfection. But yeah, Lewerke's scrambles early hurt us and I'm sure we game planned for it. Even the short field could have been held to 3 I was hoping.

And I couldn't help but think of Iowa's fg drive late or Ohio' s fg drive late (before the phantom first down). Even FSU's winning drive in the Orange Bowl, I know short field after a botched kick off coverage.

Brown and his defenses are so good that anything but virtual perfection seems disappointing.


October 9th, 2017 at 5:17 PM ^

I'll agree with Trueblue here...  Expecting a bloodlusting shutout in the first half is too much.  The short drive on Isaac's TO completely altered the offensive play calling and changed the momentum of the game.  If the offense is at least competitive in the first half, its a different game.

But you go ahead and put it all on Don Brown's defense for not being good enough.  That's a unique take - you'll stand out in the crowd, bud!


October 9th, 2017 at 5:38 PM ^

that's a curious take.

The defense underperformed expectations by quite a bit in the first half. That is statistically factual. And it passes the eye test as not a fluke.  The only remotely fluky plays were the Stewart catch and he got up way higher than our DB to make the play, and the Bush penalty which was dead ball.  And yes, they ran some new plays.  Teams put in new plays each week and you have to be prepared.

It's just interesting that we're not talking about that at all while claiming the defense did all they could.  Very interested to get to that UFR.  I just don't think the offense was as bad as everyone is saying (because the two fumbles, which were the killer, were a bit fluky) and I don't think the defense was as dominating as the narrative goes, because the dominance happened when MSU's objective was to not turn it over, an objective they succeeded in completing.


October 9th, 2017 at 6:23 PM ^

And I think the defense did as well as it could in the second half, but I also don't know how difficult that was because: monsoon.

That helps defenses out a ton, and given the game situation (MSU up and not worried about us scoring), makes offenses turtle up even more, which makes it pretty easy for the defense to adjust.  I'll be curious to see the UFR but it's still hard to tease out good defense from conditions that make moving the ball without taking excessive risk, nearly impossible.  That makes our statistically good second half defense, in my option, a performance that wasn't super noteworthy.

Combined with the indisputable fact that the defense was outplayed in the first half, and it's hard to argue that the defense did all they could do.


October 10th, 2017 at 1:35 AM ^

Michigan’s offense scored more during the monsoon than it did during the good weather. Michigan’s offense accumulated 8 fewer yards during the monsoon than it had during the good weather.

So, there was evidence that the monsoon did not have a strong negative influence on offensive performance during the very game.

But what’s your larger point? That the defensive performance was not good because the first half of want good? Because you also provide the counter-argument to that — it’s a game of two halves. The defensive performance was excellent. You can’t cite the “pace” of the first half and leave out the actual results of the 2nd half. We’ve now seen how the game played out — the pace is irrelevent, and was proven to not have been predictive.

They faced 14 drives, forced 11 punts, recovered one fumble, and allowed 2 touchdowns.


October 10th, 2017 at 2:54 AM ^

Michigan did score early in the second half, but it was before the monsoon started. The rain began right after that and neither team scored again. So fine, the game was shortened to 37 or so minutes and the defense deserves credit for that first three-and-out in the second half.

And sure, Michigan gained some yards (but not very many) during the monsoon because they were down and had to try to win the game.  The problem with that is they had to take risks, and try to be somewhat unpredictable, which led to 3 INTs. 

MSU could sit back and basically try not to fumble. On some of their series, they simply ran it on every play and were happy to punt.  I'm pretty sure they didn't throw the ball more than 5 or so yards after that point.

I have no idea what kind of point you're trying to make about pace or it being a game of two halves or whatever else. I didn't say it's a game of two halves, I said it was essentially a 30 min game and that the defense didn't play all that well in those 30 min (factually correct) and yes, it played well, statistically, in the second half, but the conditions (weather and opponent play calls) made it very easy to limit opponent yardage.

All going back to my original point: that I think the defense is getting off a bit too easy and the offense is being criticized too much, because if not for a few individual mental mistakes (the two the fumbles and the Higdon hold), and a couple plays on which O'Korn held onto it too long, I don't think the offense played that badly before the monsoon.  The monsoon just served to make our defense look better (full game stats) and our offense look worse (full game stats plus three picks), but since it effectively ended the game, the defense is getting too much credit and offense getting too much blame.


October 10th, 2017 at 12:33 PM ^

As good as the defense was in the second half, you could argue that our second half defensive performance was mostly due to the weather conditions.  MSU was content to run the ball on pretty much every down once the monsoon started.  Their only goal was not to give up field position and force Michigan to put together a drive.

In the first half, the stats are there to show that the defense was not that great and gave up 14 legitimate points.  The first touchdown was aided by field position, but one redzone stop would have made a huge difference in the outcome of the game.  One area where it looked like Don Brown might have gotten outcoached was not accounting for Lewerke as a runner.  If you look at Lewerke's touchdown run and other plays, the man spying Lewerke several times is Mike McCray.  This is a mistake because of McCray's obvious speed limitations.  On Lewerke's touchdown run, McCray ends up trying to cover the running back coming out of the backfield and abandons the middle of the field.  So my question is:  Was it the game plan to have Mike McCray be the one to spy on Lewerke?  If so, it's my opinion that that is a personnel mistake.  On that touchdown play, Bush goes to the outside and matches up with a wide receiver.  I understand that it's pick your poison, but Lewerke seems like more of a threat in their offense than one of the wideouts.  I, like probably many others, assumed that Devin Bush would be the one spying Lewerke at all times. 

[email protected]

October 9th, 2017 at 6:02 PM ^

Well done, btw. Don Brown, is a wizard. Don Brown is also human, and all humans make mistakes. This game, with the 3/3/5, with no NT is the first, and only mistake I have seen the man make. Coach Mork, expected it, and almost dared them to run this type of front. He got it, exploited it, and end of story. I don't want Jim Harbaugh fired, I just want Coach Harbaugh to show up,and do what he does best. Coach the team, be more physical than the opponent, win the field position battle, and have better special teams. Like you said above Brian, we have defensive stuff covered, minus Saturday's first half error. We can win a lot of football games playing that way. We just need the current Jim Harbaugh to get out of Coach Harbaugh's way. We do that and maybe some of this other stuff will start to work.


October 10th, 2017 at 1:05 AM ^

mostly because Don Brown has typically been LIGHTS OUT in first halves, and not vulnerable.

1) When he was hired, Brian's analysis centered mostly around how incredibly good his defenses were in first halves while at BC, only to get somewhat beat up in second halves, likely because his offenses were so bad that his defenses became fatigued.

2) While at Michigan, it's been closer to even but TL;DR generally he's been better in first halves. So much so that he pitched 10 (!!!!) shutouts in the first quarter last year.


Hawaii: scored 3 points.  We detroyed them all game. slow start/better second half? no

UCF: On their first six drives they had 0 points and 30 yards total before breaking through with an 87 yard drive and kept it up pretty well in the second half with another long TD drive plus two more 40 yard drives in the second half.  We were all freaking out a bit about this. Slow start/better second half? no

Colorado: This is one game in which we were statistically slow starting in the first half and gave up two bombs, but that actually kept up into the second half until we injured their QB. Slow start/first half? yes, but kind of kept up into second half

PSU: Asbolutely owned them in the first half, giving up only 50 yards and 3 first downs. Slow start/better second half? Hell, no

Wisconsin: another dominating shut out of the opponent in the first half.   Slow start/better second half? no

Rutgers: Haha.  Slow start/better second half? no

Illinois: another shut out in the first half.  Slow start/better second half? no

MSU: So yeah, this was the first time someone really cracked DB in the first half of 2016 and it was really only the first drive and a half. Slow start/better second half? slow start but also not a better second half, albeit slop time.

Maryland: lol, they scored 3 points total and it was the fourth quarter. on their second drive they did get into FG range though!  Slow start? no

Iowa: They gained 98 yards on their first 5 drives.  One got close enough to miss a FG before they broke through with their only TD on their 6th drive.  Slow start? no

IU: On first three drives they gained 62 yards total with a single first down on each drive before punting.  Fourth drive broke through for their only TD of the game.   Slow start? Not really

OSU: First drive of the game gave up a 72 yard drive on which they missed a FG, then allowed 24 yards the rest of the half. Ensuing struggles in the second half (fourth quarter really) were literally the first time the defense was consistently  Slow start? I mean, sort, but still pitched a shutout in the first half and were worse in the second.

FSU: Got bombed a couple times in the first half, didn't really play better in the second, no Peppers, meaningless bowl game, whatevs.  Slow start? sure


Florida: Murdered them the whole game.  Their only three points came on first drive but it was thanks to a single 32 yard pass that was well defended.  That's not a drive on which we were vulnerable. Slow start: no

Cinci: Their first three drives: punt, pick six, fumble.  They did get a 38 yard TD drive in the first half thanks to a fumble.  They did nothing else in the first half and then came out in the second half for an 85 yard drive. Slow start: no

AFA: Scored a couple FGs in the first half but had two 70+ yard drives in the second half.  Slow start? no

Purdue: throwbacks.  Slow start? yup

MSU: See my stats above.  Other than the Colorado game and whatever the F the FSU game was, it was our worst defensive first half since DB has been here, in most cases by a lot.

Not sure why you'd think he's better in the second half but that's only been the case in a minority of games since he's been here. Maybe recency bias since it's happened in the last two games.

And I'm not even comparing this first half to his incredibly high standards. That wouldn't be fair.  I'm comparing it to the performances against MSU by other teams this year, some of which are very bad.

rob f

October 10th, 2017 at 9:21 AM ^

And then downhill from there.

As hard as it is dealing with an unexpected---and preventable---loss to a hated rival, anyone with realistic expectations for the season knew that we would be dependent upon our defense to win games while our offensive staff and Harbaugh (hopefully) sorted thru their parts inventory in search of a somewhat productive offense, knowing that our OL was the likeliest place for breakdowns.

So after one loss, you're nearly equating Harbaugh with Hoke? You gotta be kidding.


October 9th, 2017 at 12:08 PM ^

It doesn't help that Michigan's offensive style requires more people to execute on any given play because they bring more guys in tight to the box. 2 or 3 guys and space has a lower bust rate than a 7 man line plus RB not screwing something up. Space always executes.

Given Michigan's offensive struggles since, oh I dunno 2006?, one can't help but wonder if Pro Style is tenable with the limited practice time of modern college football. Hell, even the pros are predominantly passing spreads.

I just see other offenses and think how easy it seems sometimes. Even plays that see ball carriers see 2 defenders seem to always leak out a few yards because the ball carrier has space to make the tackles difficult. Getting smacked by an unblocked 265lb guy in a phone booth gives you no chance.


October 9th, 2017 at 11:15 PM ^

I mean, Harbaugh's offenses have put up their share of stinkers but it goes down much easier when the defense is choking the life out of the oppenent's offense and your offense does just enough to win. It certainly would have bought him more time. 2011 probably would be pretty close to what a RR with Don Brown defense would have looked like. I'm guessing RR would have done more with Denard and Lewan than Hoke and Borges managed. 

Robbie Moore

October 9th, 2017 at 2:33 PM ^

It's about the O Line. I've never coached a game in my life and even I know that without good OL play you have no offense. We have recruited poorly there since the late Carr era. The coaching, except maybe for the first iteration of Greg Frey, has been mediocre at best (I'm looking at you Tim Drevno). So, until that problem is resolved, and it may take several years, we better pray for Don Brown's continued good health.