Return Of The Crab People

Submitted by Brian on September 12th, 2016 at 11:34 AM

9/10/2016 – Michigan 51, UCF 14 – 2-0


[Eric Upchurch]

It's been a while since Michigan fans set to grumblin' about 37 point wins, but here we are. That one track guy ran a long way and quarterbacks set to scrambling and a bunch of guys jetted into the backfield. These are bad things that a remorseless juggernaut would not allow in its vicinity, and thus it's open season for crabbers.

This is not necessarily a criticism. Your author joined with the Ann Arbor Pincer & Exoskeleton masses at halftime:

Michigan led 34-7.

What can I say? I expected Michigan to pave these dudes and they did not. While UCF did stack the box and blitz its little try-hard buns off, I rather thought that wouldn't matter. I did not expect UCF to rush for an uncomfortably large number of yards themselves.

I don't place anywhere near as much emphasis on these things as Scott Frost—"we outrushed them, we outhit them, and in the futuristic game of run-hit-ball, those are the only factors"—but in the middle of a live football game you're winning by a zillion points the only thing that keeps your interest is taking the data in front of you and projecting it down the road, when Michigan will face teams that can rush for 300 yards and not lose by 37… or at all.


After a rewatch and a little bit of time to reflect, the things that happened were things Michigan can clean up. Blitzers coming free because Michigan didn't get off their blocks fast enough. Defensive ends too gung-ho about getting around the edge because their careers are still in the tadpole stage. A bust here and there probably related to the new defense.

There wasn't anything that set off alarm bells except one bad fill by Dymonte Thomas against a 10.3 100 meter guy who was such a niche player that his 87-yard touchdown was his only carry of the game. (You know you're a specialist when you run 87 yards on your first opportunity and your coaches are like "great job, eat bench.") Per folks who look at these things closely, Michigan did mostly pave them, and declined to do things that would exploit UCF's blitz-happy approach on the ground.

What they did instead is let Wilton Speight go to work. Whatever ground game hiccups have increased the worry factor should be more than offset by Speight looking like a Harbaugh quarterback immediately. Michigan saw stacked boxes and responded by passing over and over again. Up 31-7, Michigan got the ball on its own 13 and threw five straight times to open their drive. After halftime they indicated they were not inclined to take the pedal off the metal by opening up a touchdown drive with back to back completions to Butt for a total of 40 yards.

I have seen some quarterbacks this year. I have seen LSU fans go bonkers because a Purdue transfer went 6/14 for 100 yards against Jacksonville State. I have seen Clayton Thorson rack up seven points against Illinois State. There's a ton of collar-pulling across college football when new quarterbacks step in, no matter their age or hype level. Harbaugh has none of that with Speight. UCF set up to deny the run so Michigan rained it on their heads.

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There wasn't an ounce of hesitation, and I was reminded of the quarterback press availability a week or so before the season. Speight sat down and told the assembled reporters that he flat-out expected to start. That was a confident read. It went with his spring performance, and now 50 throws into his starting career we have a bonafide trend. Wilton Speight is a man who knows where he wants to go, and would like us to come with him. Even if we are a crusty, crustaceous people.


Parking God:


MGoVideo has the Harbaugh postgame and Inside Michigan Football.





Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Wilton Speight completed 68% of his passes despite three drops on routine balls, cracked 300 yards, was still super accurate on everything under 20 yards and good on longer throws, and dealt with an unfortunate amount of pressure with aplomb.

#2 Ryan Glasgow had a dominant defensive game on the interior, sussed out a dangerous screen for a TFL, and just about ran down a track star on the 87 yarder. His range is completely absurd for a nose tackle.

#3 Jabrill Peppers led Michigan with eight tackles, two of them TFLs, added two hurries on top of that, returned a punt 35 yards, and was not responsible for much of the scramble or screen yardage ceded.

Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh were locked in and excellent. Erik Magnuson and Grant Newsome shut out the men trying to rush on them.

KFaTAotW Standings.

3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Wilton Speight (#1 UCF).
2: Jabrill Peppers (T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF); Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF).
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii).
0.5: Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii), Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

No sir, no Early Season Jake Rudock this year.

Late Season Jake Rudock… ask again later.

Honorable mention: BLOCK ALL THE KICKS; Peppers forces a fumble with authority; Rashan Gary flashes end product on impressive sack; Speight hits Butt on a sweet corner route for a TD in tough circumstances; Michigan inserts Chris Evans at upback so they can't pop it up and UCF panics and kicks it out of bounds; Chase Winovich sack/strip results in a turnover.


Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.


This week's worst thing ever.

Dymonte Thomas gives everyone the heebie-jeebies by failing to tackle a dude for like 20 yards and instead he goes 87. Also worrying about this play: the eerie similarities between it and the late season problems last year's defense had.

Honorable mention: Michigan Stadium has collective hallucination that Jake Butt dropped not one but two passes; various QB scrambles caused by bad contain; Kenny Allen drops the snap on a punt; several run plays are thunked in the the backfield.


Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.

[After THE JUMP: SPEIGHTDOWN, also bad thing discussion]


Speight is on time. Wilton Speight was  25/37 with three drops on routine balls and a fair bit more pressure than he got in the opener. PFF had him pressured only nine times on 39 dropbacks, but it felt like considerably more than that watching live. Also, 9 > 0. He took a bunch of deep shots which were mostly accurate after the first miss to Chesson.

PFF was positive* but said he "did not have any big time throws," which seems pretty harsh on a college QB who nailed a 50-yard bomb. I thought he was terrific. His confidence in his reads was notable. This was the longer Jake Butt touchdown:


That ball is out. It's exactly on time. He doesn't get blown up. He stands in and finds Butt right in the front corner of the endzone.

Any third and twelve throw from the fourteen that ends up in the endzone is impressive because the windows there are going to be so small; this didn't look like a great throw against a tight window because of the precision timing.

For a redshirt sophomore just getting his first starts, Speight's poise and calmness stand out. My thought process on that looper to Poggi as Speight was getting tackled went:

  1. oh god pick six
  2. well, that's grounding
  3. oh, Poggi's over there so it'll be just an incompletion
  4. is that catchable?
  5. did he catch that?
  6. is what he did to that tackler a felony or misdemeanor?

He's able to go through some progressions—he definitely took the blown read on a Jake Butt y-cross to heart, hitting that same route multiple times for big gains—and his accuracy has been outstanding so far. I don't think he's taken a guy off their feet on a ball less than 20 yards downfield, and I don't remember anything that was even particularly difficult to catch.

If that's what he does with the wonky throwing motion, I'm fine with it. I timed him some more and he's again at 9-11 frames.

*[I'm still getting a grasp on their new out-of-100 grading system. I assume 50 is average and Speight's 66.4 is good. I'm not sure how good. Lamar Jackson got an 81 against Syracuse and Deondre Francois got a 72 against Ole Miss, so 66 appears to be about halfway between an average performance and one that propels you into a Heisman discussion.]

Butt drops. I don't know, man. He seemed as baffled as anyone else at them. We have a pile of data that says that won't continue. I'm just going to pretend it didn't happen unless it happens again.

Butt blocking. Well… yeah, okay, not great. At one point Michigan ran a crack sweep that he didn't get his guy sealed on and I thought to myself "I wish that was Chesson," which says something about something.

Smith back to Smith things. So the De'Veon Smith carry on which he left six different guys in various states of brokenness was yet another run on which Smith went beastmode in part because he'd just blown his cut. It was a double iso. Smith ran at a gap, which caused a linebacker to run at that gap, and instead of cutting Smith just ran into him.



Darboh more of a deep threat? Darboh caught a bomb where he just plain ran by the corner on him:

That is Shaquill Griffin, the guy coming off a 15 PBU year who is projected as a late round NFL draft pick. IE, not a scrub.

He also outran UCF DBs to the corner on two separate drag routes to pick up 20-30 yards. The touchdown might actually be a screen or close enough to it:

Darboh's right on the LOS as he catches that and if the rules for a catch in the backfield are the same for illegal forward pass—all of you has to be over the line—then that's a situation where Michigan can actually block downfield. Michigan doesn't seem to be doing this intentionally or the Chesson rub that springs Darboh for the big play would be more blatant.

I bring this up because Colorado has a play similar to this where the WR gets more definitively behind the LOS and the WRs just outright block for the whole play. (Ace will have more detail in FFFF later this week.)

Anyway, Darboh getting both these drag targets when the very very fast Jehu Chesson is also available was of interest, as was the considerable separation he got deep. I don't think players get noticeably faster as they mature, but it felt like Darboh was a more athletic version of himself. Darboh-is-best-receiver credence: incremented from "nope" to "I mean… probably not."

Running: not so much. Michigan's ground game was extremely and worryingly bleah. Harbaugh downplayed it in the aftermath, saying UCF overplayed the run and that play action passing was their response. While that was certainly an effective counterpunch, Harbaugh's substitution pattern probably reveals more about his true thoughts than the words he said in front of the press.

At no point did Michigan's starting OL come out. Even on Michigan's last snaps the starters, give or take Braden, were on the field. That felt like a frustrated Harbaugh trying to get his guys some additional live fire reps so they could actually pick up a blitz or two.

So on the surface the PFF grades are downright weird:

Michigan offensive line dominates after rocky start

After some initial struggles in the first quarter, Michigan’s offensive line put together a really dominant performance. Grant Newsome and Erik Magnuson, the two starting tackles, did not allow a single pressure on 89 combined pass-blocking snaps. In addition, with the exception of left guard Ben Braden, all members of the unit were solid in run-blocking, too. Center Mason Cole was the best player on the Michigan offense, as he had only one negatively graded run-blocking snap and had multiple plays where he drove UCF linemen several yards downfield.

Part of that performance is the fact that PFF counted a whopping 28 blitzes on Speight dropbacks and only nine pressures.

Other contributing factors: Michigan's blocky/catchy guys had a rough time doing the former, and there was a return to some bad old days from the running backs. Even with all that the grades here are shockingly high; I'll be interested to see how my charting comes out.



Smith: not Citrus Smith. Smith had an eye-popping run that ended with the fallen strewn in his wake, and that was very impressive. Unfortunately at least a couple of the strewn did not need to actually be strewn. Michigan ran a double iso play. At this point Smith has threatened one of the gaps.


#2 is a linebacker who is flying up to hit that gap. Asiasi's doubling the NT and has no shot at that LB once he decides to shoot towards the LOS, but the lovely thing about this double iso play is that it turns into a bit of a zone. Smith got that guy to commit and now if he cuts to the gap where he isn't he's got a big play.

He does not do this, instead running over half of UCF en route to about as many yards as he would have gotten anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This goes back to a million conversations about Smith's instincts, or lack thereof. It's all been hashed and re-hashed before.

Smith wasn't alone in this. Isaac also had a ??? run on a third and one he barely converted. There was a huge cutback lane he ignored.



Hill, ultimate vulture. Nobody cares about your fantasy team, Khalid Hill.


The big bad thing. The 87-yard touchdown was faintly reminiscent of the big Ezekiel Elliott run that opened the floodgates against OSU, with one major exception: the opposition blocker with a big positional advantage was not a 260-pound tight end but rather a wide receiver. Mike McCray had to do better with that.

Once he sees that it's an outside run headed his way he needs to get his eyes off the ballcarrier, find the guy assigned to him, and shatter him. Instead the WR got into him and grabbed him and sealed him away. His angle to the ball compounds those issues; he ends up behind the LOS when a parallel or slightly more conservative angle gives him a much better chance of forcing things back to his friends.

Was it holding? Probably not. While the WR is grabbing McCray he's doing so in the middle of his chest, and they'll almost always let you get away with that.

The McCray error is 15 or 20 yards and then Thomas turns it into 87 by coming up too hard and getting beat to the outside without even laying a finger on the dude. Hey, I said he wouldn't be a boring safety. Now he just has to pick off JT Barrett twice to make up for it.

Two versus three on the edge. I was puzzled by how Michigan sought to combat the UCF screen game. Several times during the game they lined up at a severe disadvantage with minus one or even minus two defenders…


…over the trips side, and UCF took advantage for some easy yards. Late in the first half they ended up with two guys over three on a passing down and had to take timeout, so I assume that some of this was the kind of early-season brainfarts that I predicted in the season preview.

But it happened too often to think it was entirely in error. Michigan didn't game anything on the edge and I found it strange that Peppers was often far away from the action. The 87-yarder probably ends up a bit differently if he's involved.

National Lampoon's Massive Lane Vacation. UCF picked up probably 100 of their rushing yards on various scrambles that broke the pocket to find nobody within 30 yards of the quarterback. On one level this didn't make much sense since the scrambles were vastly more effective than the actual passing game; on another level, whatever.

Michigan spent most of this game rolling out a true freshman DE and a redshirt sophomore who just moved back from offense and was getting his first start. Both had a tendency to go all-in on edge rushes. Part of being a good DE is realizing when your speed rush has lost, at which point you "convert speed to power," as the scouting types say, and blast the OT in an effort to constrict the pocket.

Gary was okay at this; Winovich less so. Winovich's youthful tendency to shoot way upfield was probably exacerbated by a sack/strip he had in the first half where he relentlessly pursued way around the corner. In the second half this relentlessly put him way upfield when the QB saw green grass in front of him. I'm pretty sure after the third big QB run he got yanked for Lawrence Marshall.

That's the biggest downgrade from Charlton to Winovich. Charlton's power-based rushing style is very good at keeping the quarterback contained, as his main way to get to the QB is by going through his opposition. More experience and the healthy return of Mone and Charlton will see this problem greatly mitigated.

Everything else. Was fine!

I suppose you want more detail on things that aren't complaining. Fine.

THUMP. Mere moments after Todd McShay had given Jabrill Peppers a B as a run defender, he forced a fumble with a thunderous shot on a quarterback trying to run some speed option. Fumbles not caused by sacks are mostly random; Peppers-caused fumbles are not mostly random. They are mostly physics.

The one thing a corner had to do. Jeremy Clark had a PBU on the one deep ball that was accurate enough for anyone, WR or DB, to get a hand on it. Eric got a great shot of it:



Note again the jersey tug in an area where your body and that of the WR shield it from almost all detection angles. Like, say, every single one except this one. Michigan's PBU-jitsu took off after they hired an actual CBs coach.

Because Jeremy Clark is now the one with gypsy problems the deflection was nearly caught by the WR anyway, but he managed to hand-fight with the guy on the ground until the ball popped out.

I would not be surprised to see a bunch of dime packages with Lewis in the slot on passing downs. Michigan has three safety-types on the field on most downs; whichever corner isn't on the field on standard downs is a huge upgrade on alternatives as a cover guy.

In lieu of Lewis. Michigan's passing-down package in this game was a 3-3-5 or a 3-2-6, depending on your opinion of Peppers, in which they lifted a DT and inserted Tyree Kinnel. Kinnel didn't do a ton of note except get beat on a slant route, but it's encouraging for his future that Michigan's running him out there.

The usual on the interior. With the exception of the bust that led to UCF's second touchdown, Michigan throttled the Citronauts like they should. Their two backs combined for barely three yards a carry and Michigan harassed the UCF QBs into identical 3/11 performances.

Mo Hurst's return featured a number of his trademark flashes into the backfield; while I don't think he's all the way back after he missed the opener with an injury invariably described as "nagging" by insider types, he didn't seem far off his form from last year.

Linebacker step back. McCray wasn't great on the long run, as described above, and if I had to put the evil eye on a particular player for the other touchdown it would be Gedeon, who seemed to vacate the dead center of the field to go hit an OL releasing into nothing relevant.

Gary comin'. 2.5 TFLs and half a sack understates his impact in this game. Like Wormley he's unblockable by tight ends and is developing the ability to power under an OL pads and come around the outside on a tight path, like Brandon Graham used to do. By midseason he's going to be weaponized.




Four blocked kicks. Is that a record? It feels like it must be a record. The two field goals were half Michigan, half UCF as both those kicks were low. Only one was of a length where a low kick might make some sense. The two Kinnel punt deflections came as the shield devoted two guys to one Michigan rusher; possible Michigan saw something on film.

One bomb. Kenny Allen's first punt of the year lived up to expectations. It went 55 yards on the fly… and landed in the endzone. His other opportunity to place one inside the 20 hit and rolled out at the 13. Average of 46, already a touchback: he's not Blake O'Neill but he should be a plus player because when he's got a long enough runway he can take advantage.

Just, uh, catch the snap. And that's all we have to say about that.

Also automatic on field goals. Mostly chip shots but 3/3 adds to Allen's superior accuracy from within 40.

Peppers return. A punt out of UCF's endzone was always going to be huge trouble for them; that was the most obvious 30 yard return I've seen at Michigan Stadium in a while.


Holding: nope. Part of the great pass blocking grade was the fact that the refs seemed determined not to call holding either way. There were two UCF blitzes that I was dead certain would draw holding flags (one on Braden, one on Poggi); neither came. On the other side of the ball there was the usual amount of panicked grabbing as the opposition tried to deal with the Michigan DL. (Although not so much on the 87-yarder.)

Nooooooooooooo. Special K, why must you torment me? In The Big House? Really? I thought we had all agreed to consign that moldy butt-rock to the dustbin of the Brandon era. If we absolutely must use a custom song that is not very good, why don't we try the one associated with our current very successful coach instead of the lowest point in the history of Michigan athletics since Don Canham's arrival?

Hooray for one correct targeting call. There's always some guy in the comments and my mentions saying that any hit, no matter how brutal, is excusable. This is usually because the person in question is ignorant of the rule. Any defenseless player taking any contact directly to the head has been targeted, and McDoom took a nasty shot:


Shoulder to helmet is just as much targeting as helmet to helmet.

McDoom left the game; I'm guessing the reason was a potential concussion resulting from that hit.



The blow-by. Scott Frost, what's your deal?

Combined with the rather delusional press conference it seems like Frost is just as not over it as Sam Webb.


Best and Worst:

Best:  The QB Book According to Harbaugh

In the second week of the 2015 season, against turrible Oregon St., Jake Rudock went 18/26 for 180 (!) yards and 1 (!!) INT, averaging about 7 ypa.  That week began a stretch of 7(!!!) straight games wherein Rudock didn't crack 200 yards passing a game, and had a 4:4 TD:INT ratio.  That cry you hear are the echoes of many people, including myself, who absolutely 100% thought that Rudock was either injured or just not that good, and believed Harbaugh should try out someone else at the position.  We all know how that played out.

Two weeks into the 2016 season, Wilton Speight has completed 70% of his passes for 457 yards, 9.1 ypa, for 7 TDs and 1 INT. He continues to throw the ball into tight windows effectively, leading his receivers and scanning the field like a pro.  Yes, the deep ball is still a bit of a work in progress, but in basically a year and a half Speight has gone from a guy Harbaugh bitched out on television to being one of the 2-3 best QBs in the conference.  Anyone who still doubts Harbaugh's QB guru-ness, I don't know what to tell you.


Hoover Street Rag:

This had to happen.  It was inevitable because it is what happens when expectations are raised.  Michigan won by 37 points, and people aren't happy.  There is a legitimacy in this because it's the inevitability of disappointment, and disappointment only comes when expectations exist.  Expectations have not been "real" in Ann Arbor for much of the last decade, after all.  There have been historical expectations, but that is based as much on a bizarre combination of entitlement and factual evidence as anything.

Sap's Decals:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – I have watched a lot of Michigan Football over the years – coming up on 40 of them this year – and I have never seen a QB looked more poised, more comfortable and more in command of a Michigan offense in his 2nd career start than Wilton Speight.  That includes some great, legendary names down through the years and even when you look at Jake Rudock in Game #2 last year, he was nowhere near the efficiency that Speight is at right now. I get it that Rudock was only on campus for a few weeks this time last year, but let these numbers sink in: since his 1st throw/interception last week, Speight is 35 of 50 for 457 yards with 7 TD’s and 0 INT’s. WoW!!! I’m just gonna leave it at that – WoW!!

Touch the Banner breaks down the long run:

Schematically, Michigan was fine here. They had a DE to handle the mesh, an OLB to take the crease, a FS to fill the alley, and a CB to keep contain. The execution was poor, though. McCray and Stribling didn’t get off their blocks, and Thomas took a poor angle. Defensive coordinator Don Brown has a few different ways of handling the mesh, so it’s unclear whether Marshall did his job or not. And on the strong side of the play, it would have been shut down for little to no gain.

Jacob Gase on Chase Winovich:

After the immediate emotion wore off following the game, Winovich transformed into an ecstatic ball of energy, quoting everyone from UFC fighters Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz (on his fighting mentality) to his father, Peter (comparing settling in at his new position to his dad coming home from work and shouting, “Honey, I’m home! Put the steaks on!”)

The last quote may have been the most appropriate — Winovich sure seems at home now. Instead of putting in long hours on the scout team or trying his best to provide depth on offense, he can relax and do what he’s most comfortable doing.

“It just lets me get out there and play,” Winovich said. “Sometimes you don’t choose your passion — your passion chooses you.”

Jake Lourim on Harbaugh's QB loyalty:

One of the crushing blows in that game was a Todd Mortensen interception with 3:45 to play. Mortensen, a senior transfer from Brigham Young, went to the sideline, and Harbaugh’s reaction — like everything else about Michigan’s second-year head coach — was familiar.

“I could tell he was disappointed, because he’s competitive, and he wants to win as much or more than anyone. But I didn’t get chewed out in the moment,” Mortensen said. “… I don’t even remember what he said, because his reaction was so supportive, it didn’t make a lasting impression on me.”

What Mortensen does recall is what happened the next day in San Diego’s film session. Harbaugh showed his quarterback the film. He taught him how to avoid the mistake in the future. And most importantly, he stuck with his guy during the low point of the season.

Mortensen didn’t make any more glaring mistakes, the offense averaged 44 points in the last eight games and the Toreros finished 7-1.

“From that game on, I never had a game where I felt like I was the reason we didn’t win the game,” Mortensen said.

Photos from M&BN.

Michigan opens a 20-point favorite over Colorado. Looking one week further down the road, Penn State's dealing with some injuries. Starting LB Jason Cabinda missed the Pitt game and was spotted on the sideline with a "large cast" on his left hand. Several other players missed time on Saturday and may or may not get back for Michigan.



September 12th, 2016 at 12:36 PM ^

Yeah, that numbers mismatch on those trips formations was weird.  It's like they were content with a high safety being the third guy over there.  I'm hoping we're just seeing some growing pains.  Stop spread to run games is the reason Brown is here, and probably the singel biggest hurdle to beating OSU and winning B1G championships.

But hey, I'm loving complaining about dominating wins.  It feels so good to be curgmudgeonly instead of just distraught and depressed about the football team.  And besides, being positive has a direct negative impact on the team's performance.  It's science.  It is our duty to be negative.  Until UM beats MSU and OSU.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:42 PM ^

It was especially weird because Hawaii came out with a lot of stacks and triple receiver formations and I thought they covered them very well. I think Brian even mentioned an improvement in how the DBs handed off the WRs this year compared to Durkin's system last year. The only thing UCF seemed to do a bit differently is they'd use motion to get the 3rd guy over there, but there were also times they straight up lined up that way and we didn't react.

kevin holt

September 12th, 2016 at 12:39 PM ^

On that double-iso Smith run, was the other gap really open? The UCF player doesn't get fully blocked and comes around for an almost-tackle. I kind of assume if Smith hit that gap he'd have a good tackle attempt at the LOS. And at speed I don't blame Smith for seeing that and considering the gap closed. If so, the LB was the better option, right?


September 12th, 2016 at 12:40 PM ^

I listened to the game, and UCF's QB Holman went down with what was described as a non-contract injury ... probably a hamstring, but maybe a hyper-extended knee.  After he went out, the backup QB came in.

Was anything ever said later about Holman?  Any report on what happened?


September 12th, 2016 at 12:54 PM ^

On UM radio, Dierdorf noted that Holman put on a brave front as he walked off the field, but the further he got into the visitors' tunnel, the more pronounced the limp. On, Holman is listed as "probable" for this week at home against Maryland.


September 12th, 2016 at 12:44 PM ^

What if I agree that under the letter of the rules, that's a clear targeting, but I disagree with the rule on the principle that it provides a huge disadvantage to taller DBs? Or that it encourages guys to go low, threatening both the runner's knees and the defender's head coming in contact with the knee?

The intention behind the rule is good, but it's quite imperfect and should always be up for debate and finding a potentially better rule.

MI Expat NY

September 12th, 2016 at 1:00 PM ^

I might agree with you on hits on the ball-carrier/QB or crack-back blocks.  But I think with respect to defenseless receivers, the rule is necessary.  "Kill shots" to separate a receiver from the ball should be removed from football.  As beautiful as they are, they are dangerous and not good for the long term health of paticipants or the game in general.  I'd be open to other accompanying rule changes that make life more difficult for the receiver such as allowing for additional hand-fighting, and such.  But this is one area where the current rule is appropriate and necessary.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:02 PM ^

You can rebuild a knee.  Hell, we can even replace them.  They wouldn't be the same (bye-bye playing career) but you can still chase your grandkids if you pop a couple Tylenol beforehand.  We WANT players to hit low, because in the case of brain damage the doctors basically tell you you're screwed.

I can't be more displeased with how targeting is called (like, we're all shocked they actually got it right for once), but the spirit of the rule is partially because technology can't save the day here.  So the rule isn't about intent; it's about dissuading head hits, period.  Don't try to hit the head; don't even "play aggressively' in a way that might hit the head.  There's no wiggle room on the rule because there's no wiggle room on the consequences.  Stay the fuck away from head hits because we can't fix them!


September 12th, 2016 at 2:08 PM ^

I understand all of that. The fact that they don't care about intent is the part I disagree with. Again, it's a step in the right direction, trying to get rid of all hits to the head and neck; it's also, in my opinion, impossible. There are heads attached to the bodies that are carrying the ball and tackling the ball carrier.

So penalize the guys trying to make a kill shot, but don't penalize the guys tackling a shorter receiver about the head and neck when it looks like the guy was just trying to make a stop and was unlucky the receiver is 5'10" instead of 6'3".

I know I'm on the wrong side of history here and it's a losing battle. I think it's probably a good thing that I am. But it irks me when I don't see intent to harm and it's penalized in the midst of a pretty rough game.


September 12th, 2016 at 3:10 PM ^

when they crash through a neighborhood and kill half a dozen people.  Which is why we make it illegal no matter how much they insist it was an "accident" because intent matters fuck all to a DUI victim.

"Intent" doesn't really matter when you can quantify the destruction.  The point isn't merely to eliminate headhunting; it's to make head hits a Bad Idea.  Again, we can probably rule different if medical technology was up to the task of rehabbing brain damage like a torn ACL.  But we're not there, so we want players going out of their way to avoid head hits; the UCF player did not do so.  He launched high instead of wrapping up.  Even if there was no malice, he shouldn't be coached dangerous play and the penalty is what applied the disincentive.

But if there's one key difference between DUI and targeting, it's that the latter applies to a sport.  There's no criminal record or incarceration or long-term consequences of a targeting penalty, so we can afford to be harsh.  Whatever your views of social justice or crime prevention or whatever that are most certainly beyond the scope of this thread, the worst of a targeting penalty can only pale in comparison to brain damage so there's no ethical reason to not bring the hammer down on head hits.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:40 PM ^

Like Hands to the Face and Chop Block penalties, I think Targeting is mostly accidental. It's hardly the UCF players fault McDoom turned low. I thought the UCF guy even had an almost perfect form tackle going, until it impacted the helmet.

I think the 15 is fine, you have to try to protect players as best you can in tackle football, but the ejection should be for guys who lower their eyes/helmet, or obviously target the head.


September 12th, 2016 at 12:44 PM ^

About LSU fans, I saw people freaking the fuck out on Twitter about Heisman and shit, and Bama fans saying they are now terrified of LSU. I did not realize that was the stat line. Wow.


September 12th, 2016 at 12:48 PM ^

I mistakenly thought Speight was a red-shirt junior.  Assuming he doesn't go pro early, I like the thought of having him around for three seasons.  Our QB depth went from crap to really deep in a hurry.  HARBAUGH.


September 12th, 2016 at 12:49 PM ^

Not sure if Peppers actually forced that fumble. Looked as if Patti was actually trying to pitch it super late with Wormley right there. Pretty much pitched it into Wormley's stomach right as the hit was coming.


September 12th, 2016 at 12:50 PM ^

Three plays stood out to me from Saturday's game:

1. Gary's (1/2) sack. I don't believe 300 pound men should be able to move that fast. He literally just ran around the RT and destroyed the UCF QB.

2. Speight to Poggi--one of those NONONONOYESSSS moments. Also, Poggi trucked that dude.

Honorable mention to Jake Butt for lowering his shoulder and giving that UCF cornerback something to remember (10:20 into Parking God's video). It was early fourth quarter and could have easily gone out of bounds. 


September 12th, 2016 at 12:51 PM ^

Smith makes the right cut in my opinion he's looking at the middle linebacker and cuts opposite the block direction.  Smith can't see #2 shooting the gap to his right, in this case the MLB for CFU is guiding Smith into the teeth of the defense like he's supposed to.





September 12th, 2016 at 12:59 PM ^

From what I can discern, Brian doesn't look at people and see skin color. He sees different species. Currently, crab people. Previously, bug people [link].

Also, Bo Ryan is Alien Hitler [link] and Tom Crean is assuredly a douche [link].

Revisionist Hi…

September 12th, 2016 at 1:04 PM ^

"and declined to do things that would exploit UCF's blitz-happy approach on the ground."


That's what i kept repeating to myself. Why? Then it dawned on me. HARBAUGH. Why show that off? Game was over at this point anyways.


I usually ignore those that say, " oh their saving the playbook" or " just vanilla until real competition". These games are for working out the bugs and finding out who can play and who can't.


I say well done and not running counters or delayed handoffs, screen pass etc is serving a purpose later.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:06 PM ^

but I thought there were four drops. The two from Butt, then one directly through Poggi's hands, and then either Darboh or Chesson (can't remember and have to go back to check) dropped a slant right through his hands, as well. Might not have been considered a routine one, though.


September 12th, 2016 at 1:40 PM ^

Everyone with the program is pretending the run blocking was fine - the only problem was the run defense/blitzing posed by UCF.  This is troubling for two reasons:

1) Within the five yard line they still struggled to control the line and get short yardage.  There is nothing different about UCF was doing in that area than any other team would do and we were not good.

2) Aren't there running plays you call to counter suspected run blitzes - like sweeps and draws?  Or couldn't we line up with two blocking tight ends and a fullback and blow them out off tackle?

Teams with better corners and pass rushers are going to feast of the film from UCF if that is all it takes to stop our run game cold.


September 12th, 2016 at 2:19 PM ^

To your first point: Khalid Hill would like to have a word with you, once he's finished doing media interviews about all his touchdowns. I can tell you the UCF fans behind me were exasperated worth the certainty of Michigan's goal line and 4th down pickups.

To your second: you want counters against UCF's run defense? Like the jet sweeps we ran twice for two first downs? We got enough yards, we got enough points, and we shut it down. If the offense had needed to score 70 to stay ahead in that game, we could have.


September 12th, 2016 at 3:00 PM ^

Why we didn't open up our entire plabook against UCF and try to gain 300+ yards on the ground confused me too. 

Harbaugh should have went all out on the run, totally ignored the 1v1 mismatches our WR's had, and just pounded the rock on the ground all day. I would have preferred this game to have been 31-14 with a slow 3 yards and a cloud of dust gameplan all day. 

We definitely didn't need the live snaps passing the ball. Speight is a seasoned QB, and has enough reps to be comfortable once B1G play stars. We need to practice running against 8 man boxes and run blitzes. 




/s :/


September 12th, 2016 at 4:11 PM ^

All it takes to stop any run game is to have more defenders than the offense has blockers at the point of attack. That's what they did and they let a redshirt sophomore QB in his second start throw a near perfect game, 300+ yds, 4 TD passes and 51 total points. Wooow what insight we revealed to our future opponents!

When these opponents employ the same bold strategy I guess Speight will again throw touchdown passes to single covered Darboh, Chesson and Butt? or maybe Bunting, Hill and Wheatley Jr on mismatches?


September 12th, 2016 at 3:01 PM ^

Very good point. The good satire does make up for all of the strange misses. I'm really surprised the show has remained relevant and watchable after so many seasons. Guess there's just so much out there to satire and no one else doing in the same way. 

The "Craaab Peeeople" chanting really just sticks in my head like some bad pop song gone full ear-worm. Until I looked for a GIF, I wouldn't have been able to tell you a single thing about that episode other than "Craaab Peeeople..."

Minus The Houma

September 12th, 2016 at 2:04 PM ^

I was thinking before reading this that Darboh's speed has looked pretty good this year so far. Hopefully that proves true. Not Chesson obviously but has a little bit of an extra gear.


September 12th, 2016 at 2:06 PM ^


Michigan can have lobster AND the cracked crab, people:

Excellent write-up. Perfectly encapsulates the game I watched. Legitimate concerns BUTT we get to enjoy fine things from now on, so it'll be both the lobster and cracked crab.


September 12th, 2016 at 2:58 PM ^

"Even with all that the grades here are shockingly high; I'll be interested to see how my charting comes out."

Yes, perhaps the UFR could come a little early to reconcile the shock once and for all. Please and thank you.