This Week's Obsession: Midseason Roundtable Espectaculo Comment Count

Brian October 12th, 2016 at 11:57 AM

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So far the train’s on time. [Bryan Fuller]

As is tradition, we go long for the midpoint.

The Questions:

1. Most pleasant surprise?
2. Biggest downer?
3. Most improved player?
4. Guy who will emerge in the second half of the season?
5. Expectations relative to preseason outlook?
6. Biggest surprise in the conference?
7. Ditto, except national?
8. Predict three stats, individual or team, that will be by year's end.

The Responses:

1. Most pleasant surprise?

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Linebackers have not been a problem [Bryan Fuller]

Adam: The linebackers. What seemed like a weak point heading into the season has been anything but a liability. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have been great in the run game and good in coverage, and their athleticism has not gone unnoticed by us or by the stat sheet; Gedeon's second on the team with 7.5 TFLs and has 3.0 sacks, while McCray has 4.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and 3 PBUs. Peppers has been generating earnest Heisman hype this week in part because of his 32 tackles, 10 TFLs, and 2.5 sacks (and also because he's so good that his head coach has to go back to the early 20th century to find a comparable athlete), and including him with the linebackers leaves a position group sans concerns.

Seth: Agree on Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray. Also it's fun to have blitzing from that position again: Adam mentioned that Gedeon already has 7.5 TFLs—that means he’s on pace to beat the 14 that Bolden (6.5), Morgan (2), and Ross (5.5) had combined in 2015.

David: Karan Higdon. He got like 5-10 snaps last year, looked ok-ish, then disappeared. With Walker and Evans coming in (and potentially other big names in 2017), I was wondering if he would get passed by. NOPE!

Brian: Matt Godin. He got lucky with some injury issues for Hurst and Mone but both guys are back now and Godin's playing time isn't budging. He's been productive beyond expectations, and here I should remind you that I was advocating for a role for him in the season preview since he's always been a solid... SDE.

That he's playing DT and mostly holding up to double teams is a leap in performance I could not project. Hurst has been the more dynamic player and I do expect him to suck up more snaps as the season goes on, but Godin may have even played himself into late-round NFL drat chatter.

Ace: I’ll go with the most Harbaugh answer here and say Khalid Hill. Some of what he’s done has been expected; we knew coming out of high school that he was a skilled receiver, and that’s translated over to fullback, where he’s made a habit of picking throws off his shoestrings in the flat and still turning upfield for extra yardage. The surprising parts have been his blocking, which has been solid between the tackles and often spectacular in the open field, and his knack for converting goal-to-go situations. I mean, he dubbed himself the Hammering Panda, and we’re going to not only let the self-nicknaming slide—we’re running with it ourselves.

[Hit THE JUMP for the other seven]

2. Biggest downer?

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Harbaughiffication: ongoing. [Fuller]

Adam: Grant Newsome's injury. Just when it looked like he was hitting his stride he goes down, and just minutes shy of the cutoff for a medshirt, too.

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Maybe this was asking too much. [Fuller]

Seth: Losing Newsome, as Adam said, 20 minutes after the cutoff for a medshirt. Last summer we wrote how the preseason set up well to get Newsome up to speed by the time he's needed. He was juuuust getting there, and now he's needed. Bushell-Beatty belongs in the pleasant surprise category above, however Michigan has yet to face several Watt-like objects, starting with Illinois's Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips.

Since that’s taken, I’ll mention the field goals. I don’t know what possessed us to believe a top-notch punter and kickoff specialist could handle kicking duties too, but putting all of that on Kenny Allen’s foot was apparently incorrect.

David: I think it probably has to be Wilton Speight. He hasn't been consistent all season and a lot of that is independent of opponent play. Obviously, we've seen Harbaugh improve many a QB...here's hoping the light goes on in the 2nd half!

Brian: Newsome's injury is correct. I'd also put in a shout for Mason Cole's performance so far this year. He hasn't been bad. Neither has he been particularly good, and while he drew some tough matchups against 3-4 teams that aren't really his wheelhouse I was expecting he'd be a lot better than middling.

Ace: Newsome’s injury is the answer, but the season-ending injury to Jeremy Clark could have bigger ramifications than we’ve seen so far. Michigan has a great cornerback duo in Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling, but they've played a MANBALL outfit and the worst Power 5 team in the country since Clark’s injury—we’ve yet to see that extra defensive back face a major test.

3. Most improved player?

Adam: Chase Winovich. One thing that's always stuck with me is when Winovich told Ace at media day that he was unsure of last season's position switch at first because his name is Chase, not Block. He's finally back to chasing, and he's doing a good job of it. This is a guy who has gone from linebacker to tight end to defensive end and has actually managed to get snaps on a defensive line that might be the deepest in Michigan history. Sure, he's more of a pass rusher than anything else right now and still has things to work on against the run, but there's every reason for him to not be on the field right now and yet he's getting non-garbage time snaps.

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Winovich isn’t close to Taco, but neither has he been close to bad. [Eric Upchurch]

David: Ben Gedeon. We were all ok with what we thought he would bring this season. But his gap-thumping and sideline to sideline range have been very much improved. WHY U NO REDSHIRT IN 2013?!?!?!?!

Seth: It's a year later than we predicted, but most welcome that Kyle Kalis is putting together an excellent senior season. Repeatedly wishing he'd had Drevno coaching him the three years prior was going to stick in Michigan hearts anyway; at least now it can be the best possible sore spot.

Brian: I assume that Ben Gedeon's lack of playing time was due to Joe Bolden's ability to practice like a star and bamboozle coaches as a result. So my answer here is also Kyle Kalis, who's cut the mental mistakes out of his game almost entirely and is finally applying considerable force to opponents without offering up a compensatory slate of TFLs allowed. His career goes in the AJ Williams bin, wherein we wonder what Player X would have looked like if he'd had four years of Harbaugh instead of just one or two.

Ace: Since Kalis and Gedeon have already been mentioned a couple times, I’ll note that Channing Stribling learning to stay in phase and becoming one of the conference’s—if not the country’s—best cover corners has been pretty nice, too.

4. Guy who will emerge in the second half of the season?

Adam: Rashan Gary. He's gotten better every week, and by the end of the season he'll be preternaturally good. Not for a freshman, for a football player.

David: Devin Asiasi. His blocking is really drawing attention and it seems like his playing time is increasing as that goes. As M starts playing slightly tougher opponents, I expect Asiasi to get some more snaps as he holds up well as a run-blocker and will become a matchup nightmare once he is inserted in a few more pass packages.

Seth: I'm doubling down on my preseason prediction that Bryan Mone’s name will get back on those we count off when panegyrizing the 2016 defensive line. Rutgers doesn’t count, and Mone got just 7 snaps against Wisconsin, but that game had only 53 to go around. Ohio State and Indiana will double that, and that's when the backups will shine. Remember this guy started at 3-tech before his injury because Michigan wanted to get him on the field so bad. More Mone means a fresher Glasgow, and Hurst getting to stick to 3-tech. Here’s a Mone-inclusive depth chart again just because:

Anchor Tackle Nose End
Wormley Godin Glasgow Taco
Gary Hurst Mone Gary/Winovich

Brian: Devin Asiasi has already moved ahead of TJ Wheatley as the team's top blocking tight end, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him maintain his playing time after Ian Bunting's return from injury. He moves people. Coming out of high school his coach gushed and gushed about his blocking ability, and he's apparently right. He's smart, agile, and powerful, and since his redirect blocks often see him encounter a DB we get to see him plow a field repeatedly. It's fun.

Asiasi's had a number of assignment issues so far, which is to be expected from a true freshman. He seems to be reducing those errors, and as the season goes along his blocking ability will only increase relative to his competitors.

Ace: Wilton Speight. Yes, he’s already the starter, but while he’s not off to a Early Rudock-level bad start, there have been some alarming moments (and alarming games) in the first half of the season. We saw what kind of improvement Harbaugh managed to get out of Rudock, a fifth-year senior, last season. Even if the magnitude isn’t as great, a similar breakout from Speight is by no means out of the question, and it would take the ceiling off of this team. (A ceiling which is already very high, I should add.)

5. Expectations relative to preseason outlook?

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loomin' [Bryan Fuller]

Adam: I predicted that Michigan would finish the season undefeated, so everything's on track.

David: Right on schedule. They took care of business through the home part of the schedule. I think most people figured M would be 6-0 entering the Bye Week. There are still a few kinks in the passing game, but all else seems to being running full steam ahead.

Seth: Lowered. I concluded HTTV this year by predicting 14-0 and promised we'd make another post-year HTTV if that happened. At that time I was fairly confident this team could get to Columbus undefeated, and that seems on track. What's changed is Ohio State. I expected they would struggle more with their offensive line problems and the casting about for a secondary that could play. Now it appears that defense is better than last year's (the one with Joey Bosa), and I've learned never to doubt an Urban OL again. In August was 60% sure of a win; now that’s flipped.

Brian: I predicted 12-0 on the back of an elite defense and "eh, it's fine" QB play, so the overall picture is still the same. I underrated the linebackers and didn't expect the RB situation to turn into a four-way free-for-all. The biggest changes from my preseason projection is not Michigan itself but Ohio State, which has weathered a ton of departures without much trouble. I thought Iowa and MSU were paper tigers, but I also thought The Game would feature Michigan against a team with a couple losses.

Ace: The offense is as expected. The defense, for all we thought it would be heading into the season, has managed to exceed any reasonable expectation and go straight to “on track to be historically good."

6. Biggest surprise in the conference?

David: Indiana. I think they're...good? They beat MSU, hung tight with OSU, and are worrying M fans a little more than they expected at the beginning of the season. They are 3-2 (could easily be 4-1 if Lagow had not completed 5 passes to Wake Forest) and there could be 5 more wins on that schedule. Indiana at...8-4? Maybe...3rd in B10E??

Adam: Michigan State's struggles. On paper it looked like their offensive line was iffy, their secondary returned a bunch of guys who weren't very good, their D-line had one good player and nothing else, and their starting quarterback's battle-testedness came in one of the weirdest games in recent memory as throwing more than a dozen times wasn't a risk worth taking. To think that all of the things that looked bad on paper would look bad on the field would've required a prognosticator wholly unfamiliar with college football from 2008 to 2015. There's little doubt in my mind that they'll look like a different team against Michigan, but State's aforementioned issues remain unresolved, and there's no reason to expect resolution over the next six games.

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Perhaps we gave them too much Respekt? [Upchurch]

Seth: Indiana's defense is better than their offense.

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yes.

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Okay, now that we're all settled in our bunkers, let's figure out when is the last time that happened. You could make the case for 2003 under Gerry DiNardo. That defense--97th in scoring, 101st in yards--was just as putrid as any other Indiana defense; it's just that Matt LoVecchio and BenJarvus Green-Ellis were even worse. I think you have to go back to 1993 under Bill Mallory. I was 13 and didn't watch non-Michigan games because I had Super Nintendo. But I'm pretty sure the '93 team didn't have Dan Feeney or Nick Westbrook.

Brian: This could be Wisconsin but given the way the season's played out they look like they're getting a lot of credit for wins over teams that aren't that good. The 30-6 MSU blowout was more like 14-6 with MSU shooting itself in the foot, and given MSU's other games this year... eh.

Meanwhile MSU being total butt is a genuine surprise. I thought they'd be significantly worse than last year given their departures. I did not think S&P+ would be projecting them to miss a bowl after BYU ran them over. While MSU's had a rabbit's foot in their possession the last few years the correction was not supposed to be this harsh.

Ace: Penn State being good-ish. If I’m being honest, I expected James Franklin to flame out in spectacular fashion. While that looked to be the case when they played Michigan, the hiring of Joe Moorhead at offensive coordinator has really turned their offense around, and they’ve risen to #17 on S&P+ after dismantling a surprisingly decent Maryland squad.

But, yeah, the right answer is MSU. I’ll leave this here.

7. Ditto, except national?

Seth: If Harbaugh has Michigan back to Moeller-level, Chris Petersen has Washington all the way back to those teams Mo played in Pasadena. In just the last two weeks they might have ended the dynasties that Harbaugh and Chip Kelly left in the Pac 12 North. Jake Browning is just a true sophomore and yet the most efficient passer in college football.

While I'm out on the West Coast I should add that UCLA being this bad kind of defied my expectations, given the level Mora recruits at and the fact that DC Tom Bradley has had success everywhere else. Really looking forward to Colorado beating them.

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Lamar Jackson made FSU’s defense look silly, and made us all forget about Deshaun Watson. [Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire]

David: Louisville. So, I thought they'd be better and probably pretty good. But they kicked the face of off FSU and probably should have won at Clemson if the WR had known were the first down line was (and cut inside instead of volunteering to go OOB). That would probably be the Playoff. Instead, they could easily go 11-1/10-2 and head back to a BCS game. I was tempted to say Washington, but they have the best coach in the P12...it was only a matter of time.

Adam: Lamar Jackson. Here's a guy who was barely on the periphery of Heisman conversation before the season started who is now a legitimate contender, if not the leader, for the trophy. He's posted triple-digit passing and rushing numbers in every game save Marshall, where he had just 62 rushing yards...and 417 passing yards. He's averaging 8.83 yards per play, has 14 passing TDs and 4 interceptions, as well as a ludicrous 14 rushing touchdowns; if anyone projected numbers like that based only on his bowl performance, I, for one, welcome our new prescient Heisman-handicapping overlord.

Brian: Oregon might be over. I have no idea how Louisville gets a guy like Lamar Jackson and Oregon, the premiere spread program of the last 20 years, is choosing between their second consecutive FCS transfer and a freshman... a freshman pocket passer! What are you doing? What in the actual hell are you doing, Oregon? Since Mark Helfrich was the OC before he was the head coach virtually all of this falls on his head.

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball they're a wreck for the second consecutive year. I thought Brady Hoke wasn't the worst idea. He both inherited a complete mess and told the press it they were a "long way from being any sort of defense," which turns out to be correct. Whether he can make them into any sort of defense is an open question.
Oregon sucks. They might suck for a bit here since spread stuff has been normalized in CFB and they've never been much of a recruiting power. The Duck era in the Pac-12 feels over.

Ace: We’ve made it this far without mentioning that Notre Dame fired their defensive coordinator before midpoint of the season, then lost a game on the fringes of a hurricane because Brian Kelly insisted on running every play from the shotgun—and then he blamed the center. They’re 2-4, have about a 50/50 shot of finishing with a losing record, and could very well clean house. I thought their Kizer-led offense would be able to overcome some issues on the other side of the ball; that has not come to pass.

8. Predict three stats, individual or team, that will be by year's end.

David:

  • Michigan's defense continues strong and finishes #1 in S&P
  • Jabrill Peppers scores double digit TDs
  • M has 4 RBs top 600 rushing yards

BONUS: -Khalid Hill will finish with the team lead in TDs scored.

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Panda hammer touchdown vulture panda [Fuller]

Adam:

  • Opponents' Success Rate will be 23% or lower
  • Michigan will rank first nationally in adjusted sack rate
  • Taco Charlton finishes with 10 sacks

Seth:

  • Jabrill Peppers will lead the nation in TFLs (he's currently 5th)
  • Speight won't have a higher QB rating than Rudock's 2015 (he does now)
  • Harbaugh will prepare a motion-TE inverted veer option play against Maryland that goes for 78 yards.

Brian:

  • Michigan has the #1 D in yards per play, S&P+, and FEI. They are the top D in the history of the fancystats. (IE, since ~2007)
  • Jabrill Peppers ends up with 500 rushing yards to go with his various defensive stats.
  • Nobody finishes with double-digit sacks because there's too much rotation and too many guys racking up stats. Michigan leads the country in adjusted sack rate.

Ace:

  • As Wilton Speight improves, Jehu Chesson has a similar second-half surge to last year and finishes with ~800 receiving yards (he’s at 231 right now).
  • Michigan finishes first in havoc rate by a ludicrous margin.
  • The number in the loss column remains at zero heading into the postseason.

Comments

FreddieMercuryHayes

October 12th, 2016 at 12:17 PM ^

OSU still is, and always be, the spectre that looms at the end of the season.  We'll see what happens the rest of the season.  Much like OSU fans were saying that even with all the new starters, by the end of the season they would be seasoned.  Well the same can be said for UM.  The back half of the season after the bye will allow Speight and the offense to hone into a more efficient machine.  Hopefully.  Otherwise, we'll just have to hope the D can cause enough havoc that it catches OSU unaware.  We'll see how OSU does against UW this week.  But yeah, with MSU being butt and LSU firing their coach mid season, the only thing keeping UW's resume looking even remotely great is a bunch of missed FGs by UM.

lhglrkwg

October 12th, 2016 at 1:21 PM ^

I'm very interested in seeing how Wisconsin does vs. OSU this weekend as I view Wisconsin as Michigan Lite at this point. Not quite as good on D, not as good on offense, still very good. If OSU blasts them like 35-7 then I will begin pre-lamenting. If Wisconsin can hold them to 20-some or less, then I will remain hopeful

evenyoubrutus

October 12th, 2016 at 8:01 PM ^

Yeah here's the thing, whatever OSU does against Wisconsin, don't lose sight of the fact that Harbaugh went into that game against UW expecting his defense to completely shut them down. He took very few risks offensively, until the very end when he needed to and it worked out. They knew they did not need to score 30 points to win that game and they game planned that way.

Elwood

October 12th, 2016 at 4:22 PM ^

fans are too Pavlov'd from the past OSU games to get our hopes up. In reality, the teams look pretty equal and we have a much more experienced team. We're not getting blown out unless catostrophic injury happens.

I agree that extrapolating 6 games ahead for our offense is too far. Speight will get better and CHesson should reappear.

M Ascending

October 12th, 2016 at 6:07 PM ^

I'm not as convinced as many that Speight will get better. The vast majority of his completions are to wide open receivers, as he has not shown consistent ability to accurately fit the ball into tight places, which he will have to do against better competition. The lack of success against Wisconsin foreshadows this.
He has a problem with his set-up and release, and is too reminiscent of Tebow. Speight has to wind up, not having the ball in quick release position, thereby allowing DBs to close on the ball once he starts his wind-up. He also seems to aim the ball and throw it with almost a shot putter's approach. I've never seen anything quite like it, other than Tebow. These mechanical issues will be disastrous not corrected-- and if Harbaugh has not corrected them yet, I'm not sure it will happen.

Reader71

October 12th, 2016 at 7:39 PM ^

The ability to put the ball in tight windows is great, but almost never required of college QBs. You bring up Tebow, but he didn't have a problem in the world until he got to the NFL. If Speight 'struggles' like Tebow did, we might not lose a game in the next 3 years.

Colleges play a ton of zone, and the ones that play man don't usually have even one great corner, let alone 2-3. There will be many many large, comfortable windows into which to throw. Which is why the most important thing in a college QB, far and away, is decision-making. He has to improve at finding those larger windows and attacking them, because they will be there.

Bi11McGi11

October 12th, 2016 at 12:37 PM ^

I love that I can look at the schedule and only slightly cringe at one game. I am confident that this defense will hold strong and we will have a legit shot at the CFP.

Ron Utah

October 12th, 2016 at 12:52 PM ^

1. Ben Gedeon on defense and Karan Higdon on offense.
2. Injuries. Second place goes to Dymonte Thomas.
3. Wilton Speight. Can't believe David listed him as a downer. Dude was written off a year ago and is now the starting QB. He's not playing like the best QB ever, but he's playing well enough.
4. Jabrill Peppers. I predict he will have an INT, TD pass, TD catch, and return TD before the season ends. Also, another bushel of TFLs and rushing TDs.
5. Right on pace. OSU looks good, but that makes The Game even more fun.
6. MSU's level of suck. Thought Dantonio was past this.
7. Louisville
8. In addition to my Peppers stats, Michigan is first in TFLs, Defensive fancystats, and has three all-Americans.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

MadMatt

October 12th, 2016 at 12:56 PM ^

1) Pleasant surprise: the astonishing quality depth at RB, TE/FB/HB, and DL.  Seriously, just about EVERYONE, including the true freshmen, is playing as well or better than our best case expectations.

2) Downer: TJ Wheatley.  This guy is so big he was rumored to be switching to OT, until his spring practive video got out, and it showed him playing like a WR at almost 300 lbs.  After all that, he's not in the normal rotation at TE, nor is he used in short yardage or goal line offense as a mismatch at receiving TE, nor is he used as a road grading TE.  This may not be his fault, but the fact that a guy with his physical tools can't get any meaningful snaps at all has to be a huge surprise.

3) Most improved:Gedeon & McCray.  If we assume they were not as good as the 2015 LBs, who were clearly the weakest link in the defense, they have to be head and shoulders better than any reasonable expectation.

4) Guy who will emerge: Grant Perry.  We're are entering the more difficult part of the schedule.  Teams will be justifiably worried about Butt, Chesson and Darboh in the passing game.  They will worry about not getting road graded by the normal rushing attack while still not setting themselves up to get edged by McDoom/Peppers/Chesson in the screen/jet sweep game. They will also be competent enough to be able to address most of those concerns.  I see Grant Perry getting a lot of one on one coverage (or busted coverage) just as Wilton Speight gains enough confidence to find his third receiver open.

5) Current vs preseason expectations: a little ahead.  Pre-season, I figured two losses, one to either OSU or MSU, and one patented Michigan DERP loss.  Right now the Wolverines are playing too consistently for me to really worry about a DERP performance, but OSU is looking pretty scary.  I think we're talking 11-1 right now.

6) Biggest B1G suprise: toss-up between Wisconsin being that good and Staee being that bad.  You can pick at whether Wisconsin's losses are really as impressive as they first appeared, but it's the same crap that people use to pick at Michigan's record this year.  Short version: they beat LSU; they beat MSU in East Landfill, they are the only team to hold our offense under 40 points and they lost by only a TD, in Ann Arbor, and they look like the best team in the B1G West.  Mich State's futility speaks for itself.

7) Biggest national surprise: Notre Dame being that bad.  The Irish recruit well.  Kelly has been an above average coach.  Yet this season I don't see how they have a plausible path to bowl eligibility.  How in the world did their defense go from competent to laughable in one season?

8) Three stats:

- Nine players from Michigan's defense will be first, second or honorable mention All B1G at season's end.

- Jabrill Peppers will be invited to NY as a Heisman finalist, but will not win the award.

- The placekickers will miss only 2 (or fewer) FG attempts the rest of the regular season, i.e. not including a playoff, Bowl or B1G Championship game.

The Man Down T…

October 12th, 2016 at 4:26 PM ^

"Right now the Wolverines are playing too consistently for me to really worry about a DERP performance"

 

We had our derp.  It was against Wisconsin when we stopped ourselves 3 times deep and then missed 3 FG's.  All 3 of those FG's should have been extra points.  If that wasn't a derp performance, nothing was.  Our defense saved us.  Our first quarter against Colorado was pretty derpy too but it ended in the second quarter so we're good...

ehatch

October 12th, 2016 at 1:01 PM ^

1. Pleasant Surprise? Linebacker play -- Our supposed weak point coming in to the season, is actually a strength.

2. Downer? Speight. He is the ceiling of this team. His accuracy is not what I thought it would be. [Newsome injury question: if Michigan plays 15 games this year, wouldn't the 30% threshold be 4.5 games - and he can apply for a Medical hardship?]

3. Most improved? Kalis, even to my laymen eyeballs he has improved a lot.

4. 2nd Half Emergence? Chesson, I think the injury got him out of sync with Speight and he will continue to get better as the season goes along.

5. Expectations relative to preseason? On track to slightly above, since it appears as though UCF and Colorado are significantly better than I thought and we stil won by a large margin. [You can probably add PSU and Wisconsin to the better than expected]

6. Biggest Surprise of Conference? Up: OSU (pissing me off) Down: Iowa: They were 12-0 and returned almost everyone, but they look downright bad. [I expected MSU to be mediocre, but I did think it was too much to hope for this type of performance. They were an 8-4 quality team last year with a golden horseshoe up their ass and they lost their best players from that team.]

7. National? Up: Louisville - Lamar Jackson is freaking amazing. Washington - Thought they would be very good, but they look like they legitmately belong in the CFP. Down:  Oklahoma - Preseason I thought they would beat Houston and OSU, weren't close on either.

8. 3 Stats? 1. Only Lewis & Peppers makes 1st team all B1G from the defense. Nine others make either 2nd or 3rd team.

2. Speight finishes <60% completion, 20TD, 5INT (2 in The Game)

3. Michigan finishes with over 3000 yards rushing (first time since 2010)

blue in dc

October 12th, 2016 at 1:22 PM ^

Shocked his name was not mentioned. In his recruiting profile it notes that he was recruited as a db or slot and the projection was that he would redshirt. In the post spring 27 tickets, two true freshman running backs (Kareem Walker and Kinston Davis) were mentioned but there was no mention of Evans.

Halfway through the season, he is the leading rusher on the team in terms of total yards, is second in yards per rush and longest rush to Peppers and has accomplished all of that while only being third on the team in carries.

Indiana Blue

October 12th, 2016 at 1:32 PM ^

Hate to admit ... my ONLY concern is WTF Kenny Allen ?   The guy was money all last year.  For a golfing analogy ... he haz the shanks, which is the suckiest of suck things you can have in golf.  That 6" space between his ears is the entire root of the problem.  Yeah, yeah ... it's mechanics, the fuck it is, it is brain freeze.  THE Only solution is to quit thinking about kicking and let the body do what it knows to do ... yep, back to Brady Hoke and think blondes, brunettes ... whatever gets his brain in paradise.

C'mon Kenny ... we need you !!!

Go Blue!

trueblueintexas

October 12th, 2016 at 6:48 PM ^

Like most borderline insanely brilliant people, Seth couldn't take not being recognized for his work. He had to start dropping clues eventually. Sadly, this probably means the death of THE_KNOWLEDGE. Who next will Seth appear as?!?!?

JLo

October 12th, 2016 at 1:57 PM ^

I understand your points, but we've got the #1 defense in the country, we're scoring 50 ppg, and your expectations are LOWERED?  I'll have some of whatever you were smoking this offseason.

Detroit Dan

October 12th, 2016 at 10:25 PM ^

And UCF, Colorado, Penn State, and Wisconsin are all significantly better than expected.  

Perhaps the biggest plus for me is the way Peppers turned the Colorado game around.  He showed great confidence and leadership and now looks like a force on offense as a wildcat QB.  

Soulfire21

October 13th, 2016 at 10:01 AM ^

It's not that outrageous. Expectations are lowered from 12-0 to 11-1 because Ohio State looks far better than most people predicted prior the the start of the season.

Just because they are lowered, slightly, does not mean they still aren't high.

LBSS

October 12th, 2016 at 2:00 PM ^

Wonder if Chris Petersen will listen to any of the major powers that will surely come courting, if they aren't already whispering sweet nothings to him on bended knee. The national (and MGoBlog) conversation has focused on Herman as the big coaching prize, for obvious reasons, but Washington is not a blueblood gig, either. He's a totally West-Coast guy, but even so I could see him going to LSU or Texas. 

Maybe I'm missing something obvious but it seems like he's a candidate to move.

I Love Lamp

October 12th, 2016 at 2:09 PM ^

Even though he is in one of the two stepsister power 5 conferences, he made it into one. It seems the PAC 12 and Big 12 will be the ones fighting each other as well as the quality group of 5 teams for the final berth (SEC, Big 10 and ACC seem to be almost shoe-ins every year). He is appearing to be in the beginning stages of being the top dog in the PAC north, and will probably have to only worry hard about USC down the road whenever they get their shit together. Plus, I'm not so sure he's all about the highest profile gig. To me, he seems to like living under the radar a little bit, and he's now a god in Seattle.

Ali G Bomaye

October 12th, 2016 at 2:23 PM ^

I think nobody expects Petersen to move for two reasons.

First, he's shown that he's not a job-hopper. He stayed at Boise State for eight years. He went 49-4 in his first four years, with two undefeated seasons and two BCS bowl wins, so he could have had his pick of open jobs across the country for at least the last four years he was at BSU. But he's been in the northwest for his entire coaching career, and obviously wanted to stay there.

Second, there really aren't many better situations than Washington. It's a school that is a traditional power, notwithstanding a decade of recent struggles, and now that he has them established again, they can recruit along with anybody. And he's in a division with no other traditional powers, so he can make the conference championship game every year that they can get by Oregon and Stanford.

HimJarbaugh

October 12th, 2016 at 2:25 PM ^

Mike McCray, at least as far as I can remember, didn't see any action until this year yet he is playing in his third  defensive scheme and appears to be solid.

How much can this be attributed to his talent and how much of it is due to coaching? 

The reason I ask is that we have not seen much of the 2nd/3rd stringers outside of the DL rotation and the end of blowouts, so I am curious about what this means for talent development going forward as 2017 appears to be a rebuilding year and we don't really have much on tape for the guys projected to replace those who will be gone after this year.

Blue in PA

October 12th, 2016 at 3:56 PM ^

1. Speight, from major ? to 6-0

 

1a.  Evans, althought hinted about by Jimmy, no one expected him to lead the team in rushing.

2. Kenny Allen

3. C. Stribling, last season's liability, leading the team in picks.

4. Gary will continue to get better and will end the year even better than the high expectations.

5. Pretty much on target, 11-1 was my prediction, thinking the loss would be MSU, Iowa or Wisconsin.

6. Sparty.... wow.   Coach grumpy has every reason not to smile.

7. The 'non' Fighting Irish.  I thought they were probably over rated, but not, lose to duke-over rated.

8.    a.  Peppers will have double digit TD's (at least 2 more will be on special teams, returns)

        b. Defense will allow the fewest rushing yards in FBS

        c. Darboh will lead Chesson in receiving yards and TD's.

 

 

 

yzerman19

October 12th, 2016 at 3:10 PM ^

WIll play their best games of the season against us I can't see why everyone is looking past them to OSU.  Stranger things have happened.  Clocks freeze up, ref's miss PI calls, bloody hell.