WTKA Roundtable 10/5/2017: The Joe Tiller Memorial Gameplan Comment Count

Seth October 6th, 2017 at 7:33 AM


[Bryan Fuller]

Things discussed:

  • State previewed: OL troubles. They look good in Ed’s pass D stats because opponents have missed all of their wide open deep guys.
  • Brian’s gameplan: Don’t run at all. State couldn’t press versus ND and that changed MSU’s ability to swamp the run game. Pick on their safeties all day.
  • State’s gonna run the jet, and run speed options in high-leverage situations. Positive effect from playing Air Force?
  • Lewerke is a good athlete who looks good 60% of the time and looks crazy the rest.
  • Bad week to be without Tarik Black. Pass pro and take deep shots on these guys. DPJ please.
  • James “Doug” Foug versus their guy should give Michigan the special teams edge despite the lack of Peppers.
  • Ed defends Brian’s totally sane suggestion that Michigan go with the Joe Tiller Tribute offense.
  • Offensive line cohesion is a big deal according to an older caller whose great-grandfather used to hang around Hangersturfer’s and listen to Craig talk about strategy when the forward pass was still just a gimmick.
  • Tight end-focused route combinations: get the ball in Zentry’s hands.
  • State gonna test the O’Neill crew’s willingness to flag OPI: they run a ton of pick routes, and their corners want to play up and grabby. Craig believes we’ll get a neutral game because we’ve been talking about these guys so long.
  • Nunez thoughts: reminds Craig of THJ. Very good spot-up shooter, rare among his generation he can shoot an actual jumper. Castleton is a skinny shot-blocker.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.




October 6th, 2017 at 9:27 AM ^

There's a sense of self-importance with O'Neill that is problematic. His crew can't go without throwing flags, even in a well-played game. They just kind of start throwing them in bunches, which usually means one side gets randomly screwed. The B1G ends up apologizing, but after the fact. How he still has a job, I don't know.

Harbaugh's post-OSU-2016 sideline self-discpline will be tested in this game if it's Michigan that gets screwed.


October 6th, 2017 at 9:52 AM ^

MSU will give them plenty of reasons to throw the flag; it's how they play.  To your point, they will throw flags, but it's almost as if they throw the flag first and then figure out what penalty to call later.  What the players are actually doing scarcely matters.  In other words, to be blunt about it, they basically want to be relevant, make their presence known (and you gotta admit, they're the most famous officiating crew in the B1G), which is just about the worst possible thing you want from an officiating crew.  They're attention whores and know the way to get facetime is to throw the flag.  But I don't think for a second they'll punish MSU for being grabby or unsportsmanlike.

Now, to be fair, they screwed MSU vs. Nebraska right after royally screwing Michigan, so the one thing I won't accuse them of is conspiracy.  Unlike some other officiating crews, they didn't screw over Michigan out of disdain for Harbaugh or a blatant conflict of interest.  But when the officials aren't calling things professionally, it's still not going to be in Michigan's favor.  I agree with you that they're impartial in their screwing, but it's not a truly random bias.  If MSU's bear-hugging our players without any calls while Harbaugh eats a penalty because his toe went over the line, that's not bad luck, even if O'Neill doesn't actually give a shit who wins.

As for why they're still employed, as if the B1G gives a rat's ass about quality.  Football is a racket, and when you have oligopolies, the first thing that goes down the crapper is any regard for quality.


October 6th, 2017 at 10:40 AM ^

I didn't mean to suggest I expect the game will be "well-played" on the MSU side, not with Dantonio's mentality -- it's just that the crew will ignore it until they feel the need to assert themselves.

It could maybe be argued that O'Neill tries to keep games close, that he uses penalties to change momentum. It might well be unconscious. Officiating in a close game makes him feel important, so he wants that feeling. But you'd have to do a systematic study to show that as a pattern.


October 6th, 2017 at 12:32 PM ^

Who knows what the hell is going on in that jackass head of his.  I think what you're saying is plausible, but a rather hot take.  Maybe the effects of his calls are magnified when it's a close game to begin with?  Two years ago he was splattering diarrhea all over the field in the second quarter, well before there'd be any genuine suspense.  My personal theory is that he's just a genuinely shitty official who views competence in terms of calls per side or length of time between flags and would rather make shit up than admit he was wong.  Some officials will throw the flag, talk it out, realize the error and then go "there was no penalty on the play, please set the clock to XX:XX".  I don't think I've ever seen O'Neill's crew do that.

Even if the game is called "evenly", I'm guessing that'll mean MSU will get their share of idiotic calls that will only give them cause to whine if they lose.  I mean, they'd whine anyway, but they'll get actual crappy calls against them, because O'Neill.

I don't need MSU to get bad calls or us to get breaks.  I just want to see the game played properly, and whoever gets screwed, I just know that's the one thing O'Neill is utterly incapable of delivering.


October 6th, 2017 at 8:41 AM ^

of what Harbaugh is going to do to mix up this team. Betweem the offensive line struggles, the bye week, and the fact this is Michigan State, I just have a feelinig there is going to be some wrikles added in. 

I think you are going to see some four and five wide sets.  I'd love to see 8 or so plays with Shoenle and Crawford on the outside, Perry and DPJ in the Slots, and Gentry and McKeon matched up on a linebacker. I also think we might see Eubanks used in the slot at least a few times when they go four-wide, since I think Eubanks could probably beat any LB or Saftey Michigan State has.

I also think you will see Chris Evans get 3-4 catches in this game as well, since I think MSU will be vulnerable to both the screen and the scramble.

I also wonder if we will see the full backs get involved. I'd love to see some split-back sets, H-back sets, and even FB as the only back, since-- let's face it-- our RB pass protection has been pretty lack luster. I'd love to see some plays with Poggi, Panda, or Mason used in the passing game-- either protecting the QB, used as an outlet, or even as the bulldozer on some screen passes. 

I think we will see a much greater variation in the pass game because scheme feels like the quickest way to cover up for our tackles than anything else. 


October 6th, 2017 at 11:09 AM ^

Yes but there is a by week/improvement week here. 

Braden to LT anyone?

We will see changes and some wrinkles. 

Also they did throw the kitchen sink in 2015 against OSU; didn't work. We have the talent to match OSU and certainly MSU - so lets just execute and win. 


October 6th, 2017 at 10:27 AM ^

Michigan didn't have a sink to throw, what with Newsome and Speight being injured.  I'm speculating but they probably had to abandon a lot of single-use frippery on account that Speight couldn't execute them and O'Korn didn't rep them.


October 6th, 2017 at 10:21 AM ^

Harbaugh's game management is pretty darn good, and while I'd love to see Michigan win running away, I sense a larger design in his approach.  Al Borges could cook up some evil plays that defenses seeing them for the first time were helpless against.  But he couldn't sustain that creativity and thus would either keep using old tricks or fall back to vanilla, he'd empty the bag when it was full as opposed to when the team needed it, and he couldn't develop the offense in the meantime.  So you'd get blowouts over Minnesota followed by a brutal whipping by MSU.  Then there's Nuss, who understands the value in getting the offense good at something, but eschews gimmicks and doesn't adapt his scheme to the players.  The '14 offense was butt from start to finish but the O-line went from terrible to about mediocre by season's end.

Harbaugh is the best of both.  It's neither a gimmick offense like Purdue's, nor Iowa trying to live the beauty of the sepia-tinged death by obsolescence in The Last Samurai.  He fills a bag of tricks that can get us TDs when we absolutely need them, but he doesn't foolishly re-use those plays so he uses them sparingly.  Meanwhile he's going as far as he can with conventional plays that develop the talent.  That goes double since he knows he can lean on the defense to buy his offense time.  Not game time, but the season itself.  This is an offense that needs to keep getting better.  So if we're up 17-9 or whatever, he's content to let the offense bang its head against the wall trying to figure it out because Brown's 2nd half defense has been as unassailable as Helm's Deep.

It's painful to watch, but it's what the team needs and we're 4-0.  The offense has been kind of like an ol' faithful clunker that's coughing out blue smoke, making all kinds of terrible noises and can't crack 50mph on the freeway, but with tape and spit has so far gotten us from A to B.  And the reason why, I think, is that Harbaugh is carefully balancing the team's need to improve on its overall futility with the limited practice time available to rep single-use frippery.  Eventually we'll have saved up enough to buy that new car, but if we cash in now it's gonna be a Kia and we're hoping to race Ferraris after the solstice.

The alarming bit is that the O-line doesn't seem to be progressing as fast as they should, but back to the MSU game, don't expect Harbaugh to match Dantonio's empassioned trickery, play for play.  Barring some unforeseen breakout performance or implosion this will be a frustrating game to watch from start to finish, so keep this in mind:  Dantonio will empty his bag of tricks to look good.  Harbaugh uses only what he needs to win.  So unless we're somehow down 10 points in the 4th quarter and need a comeback, don't be shocked if we're running IZ into the maw of MSU's DTs to the tune of 1.5ypc for sixty minutes.

I Love Lamp

October 6th, 2017 at 10:09 AM ^

But it certainly appears business is back between them (see Tommy Rees resurrection vs Iowa). If there is a team that consistently gets more bounces than MSU, (maybe OSU), then I’d like to know.


October 6th, 2017 at 12:37 PM ^

Score at the end of regulation: 15-15

Top of first OT: Michigan scores a TD, misses the XP, leads 21-15

Bottom of first OT: MSU throws an interception inside the ten. Michigan inexplicably runs it into their own endzone and kneels down, resulting in a safety.

Final score in OT: 21-17


October 6th, 2017 at 2:07 PM ^

Seriously, John O'Neill and his crew shouldn't be reffing.  In addition to the ridiculous mistakes his crew made in the MSU game two years ago, he was also responsible for:

--Oregon State 2015 -- I know, we won big.  But remember when their punter was a mile outside of the tackle box and was scrambling and O'Neill still hit us for a roughing the kicker call?  This was the first real blowup by Harbaugh--threw his clipboard in disgust.  Lots of discussion afterwards that the punter shouldn't be protected if he's threatening to run.

--Iowa, 2016 -- Same problem as the Oregon State game...hit us with a BS call for roughing the kicker when the dude was well outside of the tackle box and seemingly running.  Also hit Devin Bush for a targeting call when their punter tripped on a fake.  And then there was the late facemask call that gave Iowa the winning FG.



October 20th, 2017 at 11:26 AM ^

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