Best and Worst: Florida

Submitted by bronxblue on September 4th, 2017 at 2:03 AM

So another season has kicked off, and that means another weekly column full of animated gifs and corny jokes.  As always, this idea is inspired by Brandon Stroud’s excellent Best and Worst of wrestling columns.  And for the record, there’s a partially written season preview somewhere deep on my computer.  Like an unreleased album, it’s full of the hottest tracks that will totally make sense when you hear them after I’m gone.  Like, watch out for my hot take on freshmen punters in 2060.

Best:  Kids and Play

At the risk of sounding even more hacky than usual, I've solidly entered into the "Dad with small kids" part of one's life.  If you’ve read, well, basically any sports column in a newspaper ever, you’ve come across this type of meandering prose, this navel-gazing ode to middle-school soccer games with orange slices and kids playing “for the love of the game”, or how being a parent changes the way you look at life and maybe, just maybe, sports don’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things and we should all just relax (until the next opportunity arrives to sermonize, like player compensation, kneeling during the national anthem, satellite camps, etc.).  And I’m not going to lie, going from a 32-year-old with no kids and some money to a 36-year-old with 2 kids and no money changes your worldview.  I rarely watch full games in real-time anymore, for example; children are tolerant of you ignoring them for a drive or two, but the fifth time they hear a Capital One credit card promo, they’re out.  And you do find yourself more tolerant of mishaps on the field, because as cliche as it sounds, these are someone’s kids out there, ostensibly playing a game for your enjoyment, and isn’t trying to ruin your day by throwing a pick-six or missing a tackle.

So this is a long-winded way of saying that I missed most of the first half of this game, instead chasing around a 3.5-year-old and a 1.5-year-old around a playground.  So while Grant Perry was getting an unsportsmanlike penalty for spinning a football, and Kekoa Crawford had a ball bounce of his fingertips into the waiting arms of a Florida DB, and Speight threw another pick-six that sailed over the head of Tacopants, I was sprinting across woodchips and sand, trying to keep one kid from flying off a swing and the other from tumbling down a slide or trying to eat a dead bee he found on the ground.  All the while, I’m frantically refreshing ESPN.com and following bits of comments on Twitter, aware that Very Bad Things are happening but not being able to do much about it.  And yet, by the time I got back home, Michigan was driving for the go-ahead score and the game was effectively done.

*****

Watching Michigan like season is going to feel like parenting to me, most likely.  Most of the time, it’s going to run smoothly; diapers will be changed, lunches eaten, blocks executed, and passes defended.  And the world will be beautiful and predictable, if a bit stressful.  But then there will be those moments when the world seems to be falling apart, where I’m trying to pry a dead bee from a kid’s hand while a receiver runs the complete opposite direction of a playcall, or my daughter is testing the bounds of safe swing rotation while the right side of the offensive line tries to block the left.  This team is so impossibly young at some positions, so inexperienced, that the question isn’t when the hiccups will rear their heads, only how often and how manageable.

Watching Michigan systematically dismantle the two-time SEC East champions for the second time in 3 seasons, it’s hard not to see this year being special.  College football is full of teams that don’t arrive on schedule, so while everyone is saying 2018 is the year Michigan makes a run at the playoffs, this year absolutely has the potential to kick off that coronation early.  Michigan’s offense was disjointed for long stretches of the game; they still put up 26 points on a top-10 defense and were running out the clock midway through the 3rd quarter when it became clear Florida wasn’t going to mount a serious threat.  Wilton Speight had a pretty rough game under center, the running game had more success on 3rd down than 1st…and Michigan still finished with 433 yards (a 6 ypp average).  The secondary, undergoing basically a complete overhaul after the departure of 4 seniors, barely skipped a beat, stymying Florida’s attempts at moving the ball in the air, while the front 7 crushed the skeleton of Florida’s ground attack.  It was an ass-kicking that still leaves you uneasy, like when you’ve been able to watch a football game for 15 minutes without interruption and oh gawd why aren’t the kids making noise?!?!? 

We still won’t know much about this team until they go to Happy Valley, but Michigan handled it’s first major test without too much trouble (save for a 4-ish minute stretch that is unlikely to be a trend), and now they’ve got a couple of weeks to sand down the rough edges.

Best:  Closing The Door

Florida’s offense wasn’t going to be all that good this year even before Jordan Scarlett and Antonio Callaway thought credit card fraud was a sound decision for making a couple extra bucks.  But still, this was a display of defensive domination that was still shocking.  Consider this: Florida’s two pick-sixes covered 90 yards; their offense didn’t pick up 90 yards until midway through the 3rd quarter.  Florida’s longest drive was also their sole scoring one, a 46-yard FG drive that featured a somewhat-dubious personal foul penalty on Devin Bush (that was nearly, inexplicably, considered targeting) and a 34-yard strike to Hammond in which Hill had solid coverage and Franks simply put it to the outside shoulder. 

Beyond that, Michigan’s defense simply choked the life out of Florida both on the ground and in the air.  The Gators finished the day with 11 yards on 27 carries, a performance that significantly eclipsed the futility displayed both in 27-for-27 and 2016 Rutgers.  Florida’s credited with 181 yards in the air, but 70 of those came on their last 2 meaningless drives, while the bulk of the remainder came on the aforementioned bomb to Hammond and another to Cleveland, himself well-covered.  But that’s it.  Florida had months to prepare and guru-approved talent at key spots, and they simply looked outclassed the whole day on the offensive side of the field.  Hell, Florida threw up the proverbial surrender cobra early, trotting out Malik Zaire to replace Franks despite his (reasonable) struggles picking up the full playbook in a couple of months.

And more to the point, Michigan’s defense snuffed out any chance Florida had to sustain their momentum after scoring a quick 14 points on defense.  After the Gators successfully blocked a Michigan punt and were in prime position to add to their 7-point lead, the defense held firm, forcing Florida into a 47-yard FG that they missed, and that was the last time Florida seriously threatened the score on the day.

Michigan finished the day with 11 TFLs for 41 yards, including 6 sacks and a defensive TD on a forced fumble in the endzone where Chase Winovich absolutely demolished Zaire.  The defensive line, led by Hurst and Gary, dominated the line of scrimmage, repeatedly driving blockers into the backfield and denying attempts to run around the edge of the defense.  In what I assume are just the first of many suck highlights, both Hurst and Gary ran down Florida backs as they tried to find gaps near the sidelines, destroying plays they (frankly) have no business even being close to.  The linebackers, led by Devin Bush’s 7 tackles, 3 TFLs, and 2 sacks, never let Florida get into the open field consistently, and guys like Metellus, Hill, and Hudson showed little drop-off from the acclaimed players they replaced in the lineup.  As a team, they forced 3 fumbles, including one on special teams, and tacked on 5 pass breakups, especially impressive when you consider they only faced 26 pass attempts.

Honestly, watching Florida felt like watching those later Hoke teams.  The defense was stout and could keep you in games, but the offense rarely seemed able to string along drives, and at some point what you’re doing on defense gets downloaded and countered by good coaching staffs, exhaustion sets in, and you start seeing 3-yard runs turn into 6- and 8-yarders.  Michigan so dominated Florida’s offense that it broke their defense, and that’s way more exciting to be on the other end of that revelation.

Now, I will say this now – this year’s defense is not as talented as last year’s.  That isn’t an indictment of the current roster; they’re just young, and expecting freshmen and sophomores, even really talented ones, to replace that level of productivity is foolish.  And it’s only been one game against a team with a middling offense at best; let’s see how they look against Air Force, Purdue, and then Penn State.  But still, the one consistent drumbeat we’ve heard about Don Brown is that the first year is the learning experience and after that, his defenses make significant strides.  Now, it’s virtually impossible for him to improve on last year’s dominant defense, but the team looked far less confused out there than at times last season, and most of these guys have either been in the system for a year or were recruited specifically with it in mind.  It isn’t beyond the pale that this year’s defense replicates the same general production/stinginess as last year’s, and if that’s the case, there’s no reason Michigan can’t ride that dominance to a conference title.

Best:  Glycerine

Devin Bush had himself a game.  As noted earlier, he had 3 TFLs for 14 yards, including 2 sacks, and was singularly disruptive on a dozen plays that didn’t even show up in the boxscore.  A moment that stood out to me was on the drive following the blocked punt, Florida caught the Michigan defense a bit flat-footed on 3rd down.  Even while some of the other defensive players didn’t have proper positioning, Bush sniffed out the run immediately, help string it out toward the sideline, and met the back in the gap.  It was clear that part of Florida’s gameplan was to test Michigan’s linebackers and their ability to cover sideline-to-sideline, and Bush in particular showed the type of burst and pursuit ability that will be essential going against teams like PSU and OSU down the line.  And in Don Brown’s defense, Bush’s combination of speed and size is only going to become more of a weapon.

Meh:  Well, the Music Was Nice

I honestly don’t know the angle to take when discussing Speight’s game this week.  On the one hand, he had some nice throws into tight windows, especially on that opening drive of the second half that put Michigan ahead for good.  His dart to Perry that got Michigan into the redzone was spot-on, and some of his incompletions, especially in the second half, were safe throwaways when his receivers were covered and/or miscommunications with a starting receiving corps that came into the game with a career total of 34 catches, 27 of them by Grant Perry.  And looking at the schedule right now, Florida probably has the 2nd- or 3rd-best defense he’ll face all year, depending on your view of Wisconsin, and was able to generate decent pressure with 4-5 rushers against Michigan’s re-jiggered offensive line.  They would have struggled somewhat throwing the ball against this defense even with last year’s receiving options.

That said…

Speight finished the day with his second-lowest completion percentage of his career (44%, the only lower being the 42% he recorded @ Iowa last year), more TDs credited to Florida DBs (2) than his own receivers (1), and stretches where he just looked lost out there.  So if you’re asking me how this night at the playhouse went, well…

During that disastrous stretch in the second quarter that was the sum-total of Florida’s momentum in this game, Speight not only threw 2 pick-sixes, but he also threw a cross pattern about a yard behind Crawford, sailed another ball out of bounds, and nearly fumbled when he tried to pull back a throw while under duress, “saved” by the fact he spiked the ball as his arm flew forward.  Brian often mentioned during the lead-up to this season that there are two Speights:  efficient, intelligent Harbaugh Speight that’s one of the best passers in the league, and Borges/Hoke Speight, a statue who guides his throws and seems flummoxed by the rush.  Get the prior and Michigan is terrifying; get the latter and Michigan is also terrifying, but for completely different reasons.  In this game you saw both, and again, that’s understandable in spurts; if this opening weekend taught us anything, it’s that college football players aren’t robots and knocking off the rust may take a week or two, doubly so as so many new players get integrated into the offense.

And the offensive playcalling definitely changed once Michigan went up 9.  Much like MSU last year, the coaches seemingly recognized that Florida’s only chance to score would be due to miscues by Michigan’s offense, so they shortened the playbook and played conservatively.  Speight had one or two reads on a pass play and then it was either out or to the sidelines.  More generally, the team had trouble staying out of 3rd-and-long (their average distance for a first was 7.5 yards), and the playcalling reflected that (Michigan ran on about half of their 3rd- and 4th-down chances).  Other than that first second-half drive, Speight wasn’t asked to stretch the field and he didn’t, and that seemed by design as much as his limitations.

So honestly, I don’t even want to read too much into this week’s performance one way or another.  Nothing Speight (or really anyone on the offense) does exists in a vacuum; he’s behind a new offensive line still figuring itself out (in particular, Ulizio struggled mightily against edge rushers), throwing to receivers who were bit players or getting ready for homecoming last year, and working in an offense that is still trying to wed Harbaugh’s bread-and-butter run offense with more passing spread concepts.  He can’t play like this and expect to keep his job going forward, but growing pains like this aren’t unexpected.  If he’s still missing receivers against Cincinnati and Air Force, then there’s reason to worry.  But for now, it’s a mediocre performance in a comfortable win, and leave it at that.

Somewhat-Best:  Qualified Smash

There were times during this game when I didn’t really understand the playcalling as it pertained to the running game.  The one identifiable Gator strength you heard all week was their defensive line and linebackers, especially against the run.  Despite the tire fire that has been their offense since the days of Meyer and Tebow, their defense has largely remained stalwart, averaging a top-10 ranking in S&P the last 5 years.  On the other side of the line, Michigan was basically breaking in 3 new starters and dealing with an additional position switch as Cole moved out to left tackle.  While Cole and (to a lesser extent) Bredeson are known commodities, Kugler is a 5th-year senior making his first career start, and both Onwenu and Ulizio are seeing the first meaningful snaps of their collegiate careers.  And yet, repeatedly Michigan tried to establish an inside running game and, more times than not, were met with minimal success.  Yes, when Ulizio could get his hands on a defender he typically could remain engaged and get some push, and Cole and Kugler seemed pretty good at getting to defenders on the second level, but early on it felt like downs were wasted trying to get 2 or 3 yards between the tackles. 

On paper, you look at about 5.5 ypc (sacks excised) and figure Michigan was consistently gashing the Gator front 7.  And yet, if you look at the play breakdown, you’d see Michigan ran for nearly the same number of yards on 3rd and 4th down (78) than they did on 1st and 2nd (90) until the last couple of drives in the 4th quarter when Florida was just sorta playing out the string.  On the one hand, it was great playcalling in obvious passing downs, mitigating a weakness (pass blocking) by going against tendency and using Florida’s aggressiveness against them.  On the other hand, it goosed the rushing stats quite a bit in game situations that aren’t sustainable going forward; team’s aren’t going to keep falling for Michigan running on third-and-forever.  Throw out those 78 yards on 7 carries and Michigan’s top 3 rushers averaged 4.3 yards on 33 carries, closer to 3.5 yards per carry before garbage time.  That’s not abysmal by any stretch, but the one consistent stat last year was that Michigan’s line struggled against good rush defenses, and that was with an older and more cohesive (if inconsistent) line. 

To Florida’s credit, a lot of these struggles were due to their front four being able to hold up without blitzing, leaving linebackers free to shoot gaps and stop runs from breaking outside.  And as with the passing game, first-game jitters might explain away some missed blocks and poor angles.  And Evans, Isaac, and Higdon all showcased what makes them great.  Evans was elusive and showed new power as he surged past the line.  Isaac looked like a work-horse back, consistently breaking free from initial contact and beating speedy defenders to their spots.  And Higdon ran behind his pads all day, displaying the balance and power we saw last year on one memorable run where he broke multiple tackles and turned what should have been a 3-yard loss into a 3-yard gain, punctuated by him bounding into the chest of a Florida DT.  There’s a really good rushing attack in that group; I just think this particular box score makes it look a bit prettier than it was.

Best:  Hot Kicker Sex

Listen, man, we've all got our things.

But yeah, Nordin had himself a day.  He connected on 2 50+ yard FGs, made 4 of 6 attempts overall, and generally looked like the elite talent he was supposed to be out of high school.  Yeah, #CollegeKickers and all that, but if Nordin’s range truly is 50+, that can dramatically change the complexion of this offense.  An elite kicker is both a shield and a sword for an offense, letting you take some chances downfield while also leaving the option open to, say, run the ball on 3rd down when at the end of that range.  And it forces defenses to stay honest with longer attempts, opening the door for fakes without tipping one’s hand.  Outside of the friendly confines of a dome his range will vary more, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nordin tried a 60-yarder on a particularly blustery day at Michigan Stadium.

Quick Hits

  • The offensive line wasn’t really good; my guess is the UFR will be pretty ugly.  Still, it wasn’t unexpected against Florida, and my hope is that they’ll make marked improvement as they get more comfortable.  That said, pass blocking will likely remain an issue all year simply because guys like Ulizio and Cole aren’t prototypical tackles, and that’s going to put a premium on the backs and TEs to chip in.  My gut feeling is that Isaac probably gets the nod in those instances because he’s big enough to hold up for a bit AND also a danger in the passing game, but we’ll have to see.  As always, keeping Speight upright will be paramount to this team’s success, as the backup QB situation looks unsettled.
  • Sean McKeon may well be the starting TE on this team.  He showed solid athleticism on his routes, strong hands, and didn’t seem like a total disaster blocking.  With the exception of maybe Wheatley, it’s hard to imagine any of the TEs being even average blockers, so I could see Michigan just leaning into that skid and deploying the three of them (including Bunting) more often as a means to get mismatches with LBs and smaller corners.
  • I am all for player safety, but it feels like the referees are quick to assume any contact north of a player’s chest to be targeting.  Both times it was under review in this game, the play was clearly part of a defender’s normal play and any contact to the head was incidental at worst.  Player safety needs to be number 1, but this feels like a confusing half-measure that will continue to punish football plays on a subjective level.
  • Maryland might be pretty good this year; Texas is garbage defensively but 51 points on the road is always going to impress.  MSU was fine, but they are light-years away from the type of teams they put out in years past.  OSU and Wisconsin broke out after early struggles, but I’m not buying the Badgers offensively, and we’ll have to see how OSU does throwing the ball against Oklahoma.  Personally, Barrett looked a bit lost out there, and his numbers were goosed by gobs of YAC due to poor tackling and good play-calls.  PSU crushed Akron, but excuse me if beating up on the 107th defense last year doesn’t move the needle too much.  It still feels like an offense with issues on the line, and at some point that will derail anyone’s season.
  • Tarik Black is going to be really good both this year and going forward.  Grant Perry will probably fill that Jake Butt “throw it in my general direction” safety valves in this offense.  Crawford feels like a #2 trying to be a #1, and my hope is that the offense integrates guys like Black and DPJ quickly.  That doesn’t mean any of them are #1s, but these throws might as well be distributed more evenly.

Next Week:

The Bearcats are bad.  They’re coached by the last OSU coach Michigan beat.  And like seemingly all Tressel-based OSU assistants, he’s going to try to recreate OSU at a lesser program.  That might work to make Cincinnati feisty in a couple of years, it’s not going to matter much this week.  I expect the passing game to get going early and often, and hopefully we’ll see some more young guys see the field before the inevitable redshirts.  Go blue.

Comments

Autocracy Now

September 4th, 2017 at 6:07 AM ^

Thanks for this--always good.

And as a 35 year old with a 2 year old and another on the way, I really appreciate the description of game day activities at the park. The Paw Patrol cartoon made me lol. 

Goggles Paisano

September 4th, 2017 at 6:30 AM ^

Great write-up.  I didn't give it much thought, but other than the two back to back completions to McKeon, did we even attempt a throw to another TE?  Where was Bunting?  We are going to need that big target to keep the chains moving.  

Other Andrew

September 4th, 2017 at 8:13 AM ^

Caught two passes, including the bomb that kind of sealed teh game.

With only 12 completions total on the day, five of them went to TEs. (McKeon had the other three.) No idea who else was targeted, but Gentry and (I think) Bunting were out in routes during the game. Wheatly played a ton, but seemed to stay in to help block quite a bit.

WestQuad

September 4th, 2017 at 12:34 PM ^

Curious as to how Crawford develops this year.  He had the first touchdown that was taken away because the refs didn't know what they were doing.  Speight over threw him, threw behind him and threw it high (tip drill play), but Crawford seemed to be open.   It remains to be seen if he can catch when he's thrown a catchable ball, but the jury is out.

Perry had some nice catches.  Having time in the system with good coaches helps.  

if Speight can have a Ruddock like transformation after teh Utah game two years ago, and Ulizo can pick up an edge rusher,  I think we could be scary good. 

bronxblue

September 4th, 2017 at 1:38 PM ^

Yeah, I didn't consider Eubanks as a TE in this game because he seemed to line up as a receiver way more than even a pass-catching TE.  The other three at least sorta-looked like TEs and helped block a bit.  Eubanks is probably the top candidate for that Funchess spot, if/when he gets more consistent snaps.

Other Andrew

September 4th, 2017 at 8:10 AM ^

Amazing that you can get these done. I've got a nearly 4yo and a 14month-old, and well, I was lucky just to find the time to read this.* Great post as always!

One quibble - Bush's hit was clearly out of bounds, and with no attempt by him to slow down. I don't think it was targeting as the contact was made with his shoulder pad, not his helmet, but he needs to know where that sideline is and find control. The (lousy) refs nearly tossed him, and his post-game comments indicate that he would simply accept such a decision with indignance. But it affects the whole team. I love the attitude in pursuit and the way he tackles, but had he been ejected, the whole game  would have been much harder.

I was also irritated by Perry's ball-spin. It led to the first pick-six,, which may have not made it all the way back fifteen yards farther down field. And he spun it again later as if to object, but only a bit less blatantly. I don't agree with the rule, but again violating the rule affects the success of the team. Just dumb

*my employer may not agree.

bronxblue

September 4th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

See, I didn't think that was close to targetting.  The personal foul I got; you're near the sideline, and so an argument can be made to slow down a bit (though it's such a split-second decision).  But that was incidental contact toward the head, and seemed direct much more at the chest than the head.  Sure, it would have stunk had he been held out, but then it would have made the Florida non-call later in the game even more galling, since both plays felt basically the same.

The ball spinning I get because they don't want to show up the other team, but at the same time I find it immensely hypocritical for any organization that has 30-minute half-time shows with a member of the Jonas Brothers lip-singing complaining about "spectacle."  Sure, nobody necessarily wants Miami from the 90s, but it's football.  These guys talk shit to each other all game; a minor celebration after a solid catch seems like a weird line to draw in the sand, especially since teams are still able to celebrate after sacks and big defensive stops to a certain degree.

MGoBourbon

September 4th, 2017 at 7:50 PM ^

The ball carrier's foot touched the white line essentially the same moment Bush initiated contact. In slow motion, it may feel like a long time between foot touching white and Bush actually making contact, but it's a blink of an eye in real time. I see this the same way I saw Crable's hit on Troy Smith in 2006: If the ball carrier doesn't want to get hit, get the fuck out of bounds; if the ball carrier is fighting for a little extra yardage, defenders cannot be expected to back off. I think Crable's and Bush's were both bullshit "late hit" calls by the officiating; one with more disastrous consequences than the other.

charblue.

September 4th, 2017 at 8:12 AM ^

two of Speight's best throws were downfield to his other catching tightend, one a bomb and the other a crossing pattern. How many teams throw the ball to multiple tightends? Not many. And they all got in the game.

My issue with Speight as well as other qbs is that they never want to throw the checkdown or the outlet pass to a back out of the backfield. Speight had plenty of opportunities when the pocket was collapsing to hit whomever was back blocking for him, but he eschewed those targets to make throws downfield. I get the desire to make bigger plays but sometimes you just take what's available. Getting Evans or Isaac the ball or even the Hammering Panda running free in the flat never seems like a bad option to me.

bronxblue

September 4th, 2017 at 1:57 PM ^

Eubanks is barely a TE; he's way closer to Funchess than even Bunting IMO.  You might feel otherwise, but Eubanks seems generously listed at 240 lbs on the roster; the other TEs are listed at 250+, and seem to line up more in that blocky-catchy mold than Eubanks.  

Like I said, I just think McKeon looked like the most complete TE on the roster right now.  Wheatley was listed as the starter and was definitely there to help the run game, but McKeon caught 3 balls and Speight was definitely looking for him in the passing game moreso than Bunting or Wheatley, or at least he was getting open.  Again, YMMV, but I thought he looked like the plus athlete we've been hearing about.

I agree the dump-downs would be nice, but it also doesn't seem to be a huge part of the offense.  I don't think Speight is afraid to throw it, but it hasn't felt like a major part of the offense since Harbaugh arrived.  The leading receiver out the backfield the past 2 years had been Smith, and that was with 19 and 16 passes each.  Maybe Hamilton changes that.

Everyone Murders

September 4th, 2017 at 9:07 AM ^

This is consistently one of the best features here - thanks for all the effort.  A couple more for your consideration:

Best:  No injury bug.  Michigan had many players starting for the first time, and a lot of iffy players (as far as game-readiness) on the depth chart.  On Saturday Michigan avoided those issues on a hot day against a top 20 team.  If Air Force doesn't cut our players and injure them (they'll certainly do the former), we could go into the B1G season in good shape, with some second team guys getting reps.

Best:  Official review.  Yes, the refs were too quick to throw a flag for dodgy targeting calls, but at least the crew had the fortitude to give the reviews an honest read and reverse the official on the field.  I think that the directive to throw flags for suspected targeting (I don't know if there is one, but the officials' actions certainly quack like a duck) is unwise in the long-run, but on Saturday both Michigan and the Gators avoided ye olde targeting ejection.

Worst:  Interception to TD ratio.  The second pick six was entirely on Speight, but the first one?  NFW.  Our receiver (Black?) tipped the ball into the air like he was an assistant coach running a tip drill.  The pass was a bit high but catchable, so that first INT seems to me to be 90% on the receiver.

Meh:  No Two-Headed Monster.  Speight's second INT resulted in his being benched for a couple of series, and it was the right call.  The announcers were silly in maintaining that it was a scheduled QB swap, but parking Speight for a few plays was a good call.  I trust Harbaugh to manage his QBs optimally, and Speight came back in the second half confident and ready-to-go.  HOWEVAH, O'Korn ... .  Apart from the one 30+ yard reception, he did not really have great series out there.  All-in-all, I may be OK with that - it certainly should help quiet any supposed QB controversey. 

PopeLando

September 4th, 2017 at 9:07 AM ^

I agree with almost everything you say here, and I'm glad to have this weekly feature back!

Oh, and "STOP RUNNING INSIDE AGAINST FLORIDA'S DEFENSE" is now an auto suggestion on my phone whenever I push "s"...

wolfman81

September 4th, 2017 at 9:23 AM ^

Dad life is great!  Enjoy them bronxblue.  Mine are aged 4 and 7, and I can tell you for a fact that life after diapers is wonderful!!!!!!!  Now I just need to get them more into football.  They will watch for a drive or two, but they lose interest.  I think I need to start taking them to live games.  (But I don't live anywhere near Ann Arbor)

nappa18

September 4th, 2017 at 10:31 AM ^

I am happy to see that someone else put our rushing yardage in perpective. Lots of yards on
passing downs to the outside (Issac), not a lot of push straight up the middle.

You Only Live Twice

September 4th, 2017 at 10:47 AM ^

With a young family, it's icing on the weekend cake if you have time to post these, and completely understandable if you don't.

Edit:  Had to laugh at the "You're in charge" cartoon.  Yep.  With months and years of Sponge Bob, there's no question who is calling the shots.

Hotel Putingrad

September 4th, 2017 at 12:45 PM ^

I needed this. Even though mine are a bit older now (9 and 13), I actually enjoyed missing the 4th quarter to take them somewhere. Because priorities do change--and because with Harbaugh at the helm, I don't sweat late leads anymore (unless it's a night game in Kinnick).

m1jjb00

September 4th, 2017 at 4:36 PM ^

I hate these because there's no context.  I don't know what an good, average and poor ypc is for a player or a team when you slice off the top.  I heard Spath say on the radio, exclude the 3 drops and Speight's percentage is 56%.  Is that good?  Probably not actually.  It's bad analysis/great rhetorical trick.

bronxblue

September 4th, 2017 at 9:10 PM ^

My point about the 3rd-down runs is that, historically, teams don't run on 3rd-and-10+ and convert like Michigan did.  It's more that they averaged 10 ypc on 3rd down and 18 on 4th down on 8 carries total, which goosed what was a somewhat-pedestrian performance on your more standard downs.  My larger point is that I thought the offense struggled somewhat running the ball when the other team sorta expected them to, and that looking at the top-line 5.5 ypc gives a sense of road-graters when that really wasn't the case.

Sextus Empiricus

September 4th, 2017 at 9:05 PM ^

I'm not saying he won't but ... he did get dinged last year and ... that happened.

I'm looking forward to next week to see the improvement and maybe see Peters play.  I'm all for Speight all the time.  I am worried that he is going to get hit with the line play as is.  That makes me want to see all the QBs vs. Cinci.

Awesome write up ... in fact... your best ever IMO.  Fatherhood agrees with you.  

bronxblue

September 4th, 2017 at 9:12 PM ^

They definitely might not be, but historically that's been the one consistent element of that team over the various coaching changes.  They'll have a down year here or there where they slip into the 30s (usually when they have a bunch of NFL defections), but it's been a top-10 unit for the last 5 years at least.

That said, it will be interesting to see how they play going forward.  I think the SEC East can make your defense look a bit better than they actually are due to the style of play/offensive "quality" in that division.