Unverified Voracity Chows Merrily Comment Count

Brian September 27th, 2016 at 1:18 PM

The place to be. Michigan, 1948.



We're having a pre-Wisconsin event with Marlin Jackson at 1300 South Main Street. Festivities start at ten; I'll be there by noon. Proceeds benefit Jackson's excellent Fight For Life charity; you can park in the shadow of the Big House and partake for $56 or walk on over; there's a suggested donation of ten bucks. We'll have a raffle, a Q&A session with Marlin, and food provided by Tailgater Concierge and drink from Wolverine Brewing. Come on by, support a great cause, and ask Ace about Harambe!

Clark: ACL, gone. Fears confirmed, but Harbaugh did tell the assembled media they'd try to get Clark a sixth year. I'm going to be real peeved if he doesn't get one given the Ed Davis precedent.

This is a damn strong anagram team. The Hoover Street Rag has run many Michigan names through internet anagram sites and come up with some doozies. Favorites:


This should be a category in not very serious game previews.

What happened in that Wisconsin-MSU game. It was a slugfest with both offenses barely cresting 300 yards. Wisconsin got the blowout because Tyler O'Conner was intercepted three times, LJ Scott fumbled for a Wisconsin scoop and score, and MSU's punter dropped a snap. In the aftermath the SB Nation MSU blog appears to have quit en masse. Gotta toughen up there, Sparty.

PFF's take on Alex Hornibrook was surprisingly negative:

Quarterback: Alex Hornibrook 57.2

This was certainly not a game that required a vintage quarterback performance to come away with the win. All the Badgers really needed were a handful of third-down conversions and Hornibrook did just that. His fumble early in the game could have been a costlier mistake although the interception before the end of the half was more of a last-ditch effort than anything else.

I thought he looked good through the first quarter and a half. I haven't seen the rest of the game yet, so maybe he fell off.

On defense, the main takeaway was that Wisconsin's linebackers kick ass. Four of their top five grades were LBs and almost all of them cracked the 80 grade that appears to be the cutoff for a really good performance. Vince Biegel had ten(!) QB hurries.

On the MSU side of things, Tyler O'Connor was horrendous (52.3 grade) and their offense failed to have anyone crack 80—Brian Allen was the only guy even close. The OL allowed presser on O'Connor on more of half their snaps, largely on failed blitz pickups. (Why, hello Mr. Peppers.) The defense was about on par with expectations except that Darian Hicks was good. They've got a guy with a big blinking THROW AT ME sign, though:

If you’re looking to point the finger at anyone on the Spartans defense, it would be safety Demetrious Cox. He allowed 7-8 targets for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Can't say I'm surprised.

Michigan has a tough assignment on offense this week, but I'd expect they hold the Badger offense in check.

A spate of injuries. Bad week for season-enders in the league. Michigan has of course lost Clark. Several other important players also went down for extended periods of time:

  • Janarion Grant, also known as "the Rutgers offense" is out for the year after injuring his ankle at the tail end of a 76-yard run. Rutgers also lost DE Quanzell Lambert.
  • Iowa wide receiver Matt Vandeberg, who currently has more catches than the rest of Iowa's WRs combined, injured his foot and is out 'indefinitely.' Per Tom Kakert, it's a broken foot that will end his year.
  • MSU linebacker Riley Bullough kept up the family tradition by missing a game for mysterious reasons against Wisconsin. Reports have it that he was injured in practice before Notre Dame and will return sometime this season. Fellow LB Jon Reschke did something to his left leg in a non-contact situation and is out for a "significant amount of time" with what MSU is describing as an ankle sprain despite it not looking at all like an ankle sprain. Ed Davis is still being held out, probably in hopes he can get a seventh year.
  • Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone missed the MSU game with a back issue and may or may not be back this weekend. Paul Chryst has "no idea." Ditto OL Jon Dietzen. Gaglianone's replacement, Andrew Endicott, missed an extra point but hit a 41-yard field goal. Wisconsin played much of the MSU game as if they had little confidence in him.

Exit Les Miles. Over the past five or six years if Les Miles's name has come up on this blog it's because I'm attempting to convince people we really did not want him to be Michigan's head coach. That doesn't mean college football isn't poorer for his absence now that he's been fired. He was perfect at LSU, where he could cause the internet to devolve into a string of exclamation points without affecting my blood pressure. Keep that dour offense and the Mardi Gras surrounding it down in the Bayou. Miles was fun, and fun in a way that it seems like only college football can support.

I recommend three eulogies. Two are essays, one from Spencer Hall...

1. Les Miles was fired from his job as LSU football coach this weekend. Getting fired four games into a season would only seem premature if time ever mattered to Miles, but it rarely did. Miles ran out of time, added time to games, forced others to work against it, and sometimes just melted the clock completely.

A one-score LSU game in the last three minutes could accelerate from full-on torpor to electric insanity, mostly because of his belief that a football game can sometimes be a little longer than 60 minutes if he needed it to be. You called people, tweeted at them, and yelled in all-caps when LSU ran shit down to the wire.

Miles at the wheel meant you were guaranteed 58 minutes of reliable, red-meat, Big Ten football. It also meant you got two minutes of off-the-rails Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride banditry that LSU might or might not survive.

...and the other from Matt Hinton:

Say this much for Les Miles’ tenure at LSU: It died as it lived, amid a fit of last-second chaos and confusion that nearly defied description.

Honestly, can you imagine a sequence that better captures the essence of a coach or team than the final, frantic seconds of the Tigers’ 18-13 loss at Auburn? Miles has made a living for years out of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat (among other orifices) in precisely the sort of fraught situation his team faced on Saturday — on fourth-down conversions and do-or-die bombs, via fake field goals and trick plays in moments no one else would have dared, under circumstances so bizarre almost no one could remember having ever seen them before.

The third is LSUfreek's timeline at this very moment.

Someone please hit Mack Brown with a shovel and insert Miles into his place posthaste.

Never hire an NFL coordinator. In the aftermath of the Lexit, Bill Connelly strikes upon a theme in a spate of recently-fired coaches on the successful end of the spectrum: awful coordinator hires. The beginning of the end for Les was importing Cam Cameron. Cameron was actually a successful NFL coordinator...

In 10 seasons as an NFL coordinator, Cameron's offenses had only once finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive DVOA.

...but his college offenses were 1990s-vintage NFL ones and increasingly horrendous. Mark Richt got the axe much faster after importing Brian Schottenheimer, who wasn't only an NFL coach but an NFL nepotism special. Brian Kelly isn't out at Notre Dame but his seat his quite hot after hiring Brian Van Gorder in the aftermath of Bob Diaco's departure for UConn.

What's the theme here? Don't hire an NFL coach.

Rule 1: Don’t look for NFL experience.

Of the 40 coordinators with recent top-10 offenses, only nine had any experience at the NFL level. Only four of 40 had been in the pros for more than three years. Two of these four (Pep Hamilton, Mike Bloomgren) were hired by Stanford, so I guess the corollary should be: “Don’t worry about NFL experience ... unless you’re David Shaw.”

On the defensive side, the percentages are similar. Of the 34 coordinators with recent top-10 defenses, only eight had NFL experience, and only four had more than three years in the NFL: Vance Bedford (2014 Texas, six years), Dan Quinn (2012 Florida, 10 years), Todd Grantham (2011 Georgia, 11 years), and Clancy Pendergast (2013 USC, 15 years).

I'd like to point out that when Bedford and Quinn had their top ten defenses they were working under head coaches (Charlie Strong and Will Muschamp) who were massively successful college defensive coordinators. The list of longtime NFL coaches able to do anything in college is extremely thin.

This is why I was panicked during the defensive coordinator search when Rivals kept bringing up NFL names, and super enthusiastic when Harbaugh passed up that trap for Don Brown.

Speaking of Don Brown. How's that going again?

The Michigan offense has been good enough in the early going. The Wolverines are finishing drives and converting short-yardage opportunities, controlling the ball and the field position battle despite only decent efficiency.

But the defense has been the driving force. New coordinator Don Brown's unit ranks first in havoc rate and second in Def. S&P+, and Peppers has been the catalyst for such successful aggressiveness.

I give it a thumbs up.

The Hirsch. Dan Murphy on a prime Rinaldi target:

He was a Harvard graduate with a reputation around the office as someone who set the bar high and usually managed to clear it. He was two years into a promising career, surrounded by friends and as healthy as he had been in a long time. But Hirsch woke up restless that morning.

"So I went for a walk," he says, "and I realized that I needed something else going on in my life outside of work. Work was great, but I was lacking a major goal."

Etc.: Frank Clark is a very good NFL player. Peyton Manning's hellish retirement. BSD looks at the state of Penn State's roster and concludes it's not exactly Purdue.


yossarians tree

September 27th, 2016 at 3:14 PM ^

The gifs from LSU freak and the penetrating analysis of Peyton Manning are worthy diversions.

All of college football is going to miss Les Miles badly. I used to get so excited when there was a big game on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. LSU will regret the loss of the good times, but nothing lasts forever.


September 27th, 2016 at 4:18 PM ^

Not saying he wouldn't have been able to right the ship (I have my doubts though) but since they went to the BCS title game after the 2011 season, their regular seasons were:

10-2 (10-3 overall)

9-3 (10-3 overall)

8-4 (8-5 overall)

8-3 (9-3 overall)

They're 2-2 this year and they still have road trips to Florida, A&M and Arkansas and home games against Bama and Ole Miss.  He'd have been looking at probably a 4-5 loss regular season.  His offenses are so predictable and he's shown no ability in the last 5-6 years to develop a QB or hire someone who can develop a QB.  The grass isn't always greener but Miles kind of dug his own grave.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:02 PM ^

of "but MSU has looked bad early in every season, and then they kick our asses" fame.  I am less inclined to offer that up this year, however, I submit that we should not count our chickens before they hatch.  The score prediction thread last year for the M v. MSU game was truly a comical exercise, with some posters opining that we would with the game by such scores as 45-6 etc. due in large part to MSU's escape against Rutgers.  I don't care how bad State looked last week, and I really don't care how bad they look this week.  They will play us tough and any win in East Lansing this year will be a good win.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:21 PM ^

I definitely agree about the "don't count our chickens" part. While we clearly have the better team whereas last year it was a little murkier, Mork is just too damn cunning to ever write them off completely.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:39 PM ^

MSU had 5 turnovers if you count the muffed punt.  Wisconsin turned those 5 turnovers into 20 points (3 touchdowns with one missed XP)


Wisconsin had 2 turnovers (one was an end of half hail mary so it didn't really count) and MSU only turned those 2 turnovers into 3 points.


Credit Wisconsin for capitalizing on the mistakes but I'm afraid that MSU will be much better by the time October 29th comes around and they will probably not have 5 turnovers against us.  If they do we better turn that into 20+ points like wisconsin. 


The way I see it is that Wisconsin and MSU are pretty evenly matched teams and this weekend will be a big measuring stick to see how we stack up against MSU.


September 27th, 2016 at 3:26 PM ^

I watched the whole game. It seemed to me that MSU's energy (and pass protection) just weren't there. It's possible they had a letdown after an emotional road victory over ND. I'm hoping Wisconsin has a letdown after an emotional road victory over MSU, turning what could be a close Michigan victory into a rather comfortable Michigan victory.


September 27th, 2016 at 1:39 PM ^

WI isn't as good as people think. Dantonio folded that game. West division loss means less. Now they can lay in the weeds, nurture their shoulder chips, and ambush UM Oct. 29. He might just blow another game prior to that game just for good measure. Genius.



September 27th, 2016 at 1:54 PM ^

...being one of the more extreme results if you replayed that game 100 times.  The turnovers (particularly the fumble) and the dropped punt snap created a day in which nearly everything that could go wrong against MSU did go wrong. 

To be clear, I'm not saying MSU is better than Wisconsin.  I'm just saying that I think that game was likely not indicative of the gap between them.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:03 PM ^

game a couple of times on BIG football in 60.  The thing that stood out to me the most was how incompetent O'Conner appeared to be (think Morris against Minnesota 2014).  This is not a redshirt freshman we are talking about.  He has a couple of weeks before he is what he is going to be and he did not look like a BIG backup against Wisconsin, let alone a competent starter. 


September 27th, 2016 at 2:42 PM ^

Agreed.  O'Connor is average at best.  Hopefully they don't have another Cousins or Cook on the roster and figure it out before we play them.   Offensively their only player that scares me is Corley.  If O'Connor figures out that he should throw the ball soley to him it could end up being a good thing.


September 27th, 2016 at 4:00 PM ^

is who he is. Which is Connor O'Tyler. Cox can be beat. I'm more worried about their DB Montae Quarterdaughter. Darian Rednex makes some plays for them.

On defense, we have to stop RJ Scott and LJ Shelton, but I'd advise not sleeping on Monty Mattress. Of the three WR stooges, Danny Curley III is the most talented. The line is led by RG Roger Clemons. He seems very strong. One might even say unnaturally strong.

Malik McDonalds is the strength of their defense. He has one move where he makes one arch into the backfield. Chris Fry is the hair apparent to Riley Bullough and will succeed him as the most spartan thing ever when Bullough leaves school.

Their punter, Jake Fartburger basically shit his pants when he dropped that snap. The PK is a little shaky. I wouldn't count on Michael Geiger making his kicks.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2016 at 2:12 PM ^

I think pro guys tend to struggle to adopt to the college game. Guys can't do as much athletically, they aren't as good technically, they don't know as much mentally, not the same practice time, etc. Of course the coordinators know that. But their systems and schemes aren't optimized for these limitations, and so when they adopt, they either trim down too much and don't have the built in advantages of better college programs or don't trim down enough and get reduced performance. For example, MSU's defensive scheme and OSU's offensive scheme are relatively simple schematically, and would likely get killed in the NFL given time, but have been highly successful at the college level. A lot of highly successful NFL guys have come down to college and not been able to find even close to the success.

The strength of Harbaugh or a Saban to large degrees is that, despite more complex schemes, their programs were first or highly developed at the college level and didn't struggle adapting an NFL system and coaching to college players. That's the important piece.


September 28th, 2016 at 1:33 PM ^

I would not call Mattison's situation "demoted."  Sure he went from coordinator to position coach, but calling it a demotion, to me, has bad connotations.  Mattison was asked to stay around because of his abilities and continuity purposes, and chose to stay around because of his rapport with the Harbaugh family, and having kids at Michigan.  It was out of great respect for him that they kept him on, and reducing his role was something he was all for.


September 27th, 2016 at 1:58 PM ^

There's also 

I know this game hurts...

but are we going to get a write-up of it or not? I’d like a detailed breakdown of just how badly this game went wrong as I was traveling on Saturday and not able to watch it… are all the TOC writers burying their heads in the sand and pretending Saturday didn’t happen?

Posted by ardichoke on Sep 26, 2016 | 4:17 PM


September 27th, 2016 at 1:58 PM ^

On Les Miles. Yes, he was the wrong coach for Michigan in 2014 after Hoke was canned. He was past his prime at that point. No one in their right mind would take Miles over Harbaugh, who is just now entering his prime. However, I would have taken Miles over RR at the end of 2007 and I would have taken Miles over Hoke at the end of 2010.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:15 PM ^

And I'd love to see him come aboard now as an analyst -- if that position isn't too far below his pay grade now (which as a longtime HC with a national championship under his belt, it almost certainly is) -- but Harbaugh is open to it!* Even just as an honorary captain, I'd love to see Les back in the Big House donning the maize and blue.

*Link: https://www.mlive.com/wolverines/index.ssf/2016/09/jim_harbaugh_has_the…


September 27th, 2016 at 2:04 PM ^

Interesting bit about the NFL coordinators. Any idea why Fisch seems to be working out with all his NFL experience? Just because we have drevno and JH tha gawd? Maybe I answered my own question.


September 27th, 2016 at 2:20 PM ^

Re: Hornibrook, watching him live I was not super impressed. I remember thinking he had very little in the way of arm strength as he threw several fluttering moonballs on 3rd and long to wide receivers who were basically not being covered by MSU's secondary. Balls like that against UM will be batted down or intercepted in a lot of cases. Their D is legit though - I think we will not have a lot of fun running and will do it mostly to keep our PA pass game credible. We'll see.