We'll be Champions

August 5th, 2017 at 6:52 PM ^

I mean I don't think it really addresses anything, it just kinda says "no it's not." But really that was the entire reason they were able to hang in the rose bowl, cuz their receivers made many a play


August 5th, 2017 at 6:53 PM ^

They're honestly a tough team to read. I thought they were a pretender last year with only a fluke win against osu.

But there's no denying what their offense did against Wisconsin and USC. Moorehead is the real deal.


August 5th, 2017 at 6:55 PM ^

he, often scrambling or twisted about, tossed the ball long and high, and miraculously, the receivers were able to catch them. His arm punting is nearly legendary. 


August 5th, 2017 at 7:01 PM ^

Reading the quote, Moorhead is basically saying: McSorley isn't just indiscriminantly throwing the ball to the deepest guy. The throws he makes (Moorhead notably does not characterize them) are part of the plan.

This is plausible. Given the players McSorley was throwing to and the success that they had, it seems quite reasonable for PSU to deliberately throw those deep passes that were 50-50 balls, knowing that they had a matchup they liked. Moorhead is pushing back mostly against the idea that the plays were "accidents," I guess.

If one gives them the benefit of the doubt, one could surmise that in the coming season there will either be less of such throws, since Godwin has moved on, or that they will develop someone else capable of catching passes in similar fashion. Moorhead here is defending the process.

Obviously, McSorley was able to lean on his receivers quite a bit last year, but that in itself doesn't mean that he won't develop and be capable of other kinds of passes later. Indeed, I look forward to the time (hopefully very soon) where Michigan QBs can see a one-on-one matchup streaking down the sideline and chuck the ball up, knowing that the receiver can beat the CB.


August 5th, 2017 at 7:13 PM ^

PSU is garbage and so is their QB. I realize that statement comes off as very petty, but they proved nothing last year. Besides watching our men take the field, I'm most excited about watching them fall on their faces.

Frank Chuck

August 6th, 2017 at 9:15 AM ^

This is a pathetically petty statement.

Curse you for forcing me to defend those PSU assholes but they scored more points than we did against MSU, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana.

It's as if Michigan fans don't want to admit the PSU team we saw in October was much improved by the end of November and into December.

Too many Michigan fans are hung up on 49-10. Newsflash: Past results are not a guarantee of future success.

Many Michigan fans have no problem admitting 2016 USC improved considerably from September (which started with the worst loss in program history) to January (which culminated in a Rose Bowl win). But these same Michigan fans can't seem to admit the same thing about Penn State. The cognitive dissonance is astounding.


Just as an aside...

2014 Michigan lost 35-11 in East Lansing.

2015 MIchigan would've beaten MSU in Ann Arbor if not for arguably the flukiest play in college football history.

My point: teams can improve dramatially in a year's time (under new leadership) or over the course of a season.


August 5th, 2017 at 7:17 PM ^

consecutive plays in the Rose Bowl. It was absurd. Luck went their way - and that made a good season into a very good season for them.

They are good largely because Barkley is ridiculously talented and Godwin bailed out McSorley. Half of that equation is gone. UM dominated because we contained Barkley and didn't give them time for the arm punt passes.

Can our DL get to McSorley and can our young CBs play the deep ball? If yes, I don't see Barkley alone beating us even at night in Happy Valley.


August 5th, 2017 at 8:11 PM ^

thats the question and hopefully the D plays lights out.  brown will aggressively game the run and aim to make psu uncomfortable but hell likely be forced to rely on some less than experienced DBs to hold their own in the run game and 1 v 1 coverage.

could boil down to younger DBs making plays.  and as that game nears many will recall young lewis and stribling struggling at psu several years ago...totally different team / situation but still...road night games at places like psu often prove tough.

psu isnt elite but they do recruit talented athletes and their system can pose problems in that type environment...a talented young D can put clamps on much of the game or stuff the run on 1st and 2nd down but 1 miscommunication (which isnt hard in that environment) or failure to play as fast as possible or thinking / hesitating for a split second can cost 6 in a flash.

the staff will prepare them and most of the fellas should do fine but it doesnt take much, even with a healthy hurst in the backfield every other play, relentless pursuit from winovich, solid QB play, etc...anyone denying that or giving psu zero chance may wanna rethink


August 5th, 2017 at 9:04 PM ^

Their OLine is still more than suspect and our DLine, while not as deep as last season, still has dynamic pass rushers. If we can contain Barkley, McSorley will not have the time for deep balls against our inexperienced secondary. I see a similar game to last years on that side of the ball.


August 5th, 2017 at 9:04 PM ^

Their OLine is still more than suspect and our DLine, while not as deep as last season, still has dynamic pass rushers. If we can contain Barkley, McSorley will not have the time for deep balls against our inexperienced secondary. I see a similar game to last years on that side of the ball.


August 6th, 2017 at 4:35 PM ^

Cause Godwin was like their 4th leading receiver. They have other weapons in the offense. Also, WR Juwan Johnson (high 4 star prospect) is getting a ton of pre-season buzz. He has supposedly had a great offseason and played extremely well in the spring game. Their offense will be fine, all of their concerns are on defense (DE, OLB, SS).


August 5th, 2017 at 7:20 PM ^

I actually don't think he's a bad QB and I think the arm punt meme is an over exaggeration. I believe he was deemed the most accurate college QB at the Elite 11 finals or another similar summer camp. Chad Henne arm punted Braylon somewhat frequently.


August 5th, 2017 at 7:54 PM ^

Henne tossing it to Braylon? Absolutely the same category. That's how we beat MSU in 2004; Michigan tossed the playbook and drew up "chuck it to Braylon" in the artificial grass. 

And it was absolutely the right call and it worked. But the pass to set up the FG and both TD passes to tie in the fourth quarter were 50-50 balls that Henne heaved in Braylon's general direction.


August 5th, 2017 at 7:51 PM ^

That one of the biggest criticisms of Speight on this board was his inability to connect on deep passes but yet at the same discredit PSU's ability to hit deep passes.

To connect on deep throws the QB needs to put the ball in an area where the wr can make a play on the ball and at the same time the wr needs to be able to adjust to the ball in flight. UM wasn't really able to either of those well last year. PSU to their credit was successful with both of those.


August 5th, 2017 at 8:00 PM ^

Ok, interesting issue. Why did Speight have trouble on deep passes?

One of the problems was that he often didn't throw good passes to catch. Flat missing guys, or forcing them to severely adjust in the air.

But another problem was that the receivers weren't good at adjusting to or winning 50-50 passes. Darboh could make some spectacular catches, but his jump-ball skills weren't great. Where other guys could adjust their stride, Darboh could get turned around. Meanwhile, Chesson had no ball skills at all, often falling away from passes when he should be rising toward them, completely helpless if the ball wasn't dropped in exactly the right place. A good example is that pass late in the Iowa game where a Hawkeye defender close on the ball and Chesson was off-balance falling away from the ball instead of holding his position.

And this issue may have (we can't know for sure) created a negative synergy where Speight was unable to develop a rhythm of throwing catchable passes in places where his receivers could win them, because he didn't have receivers that could win them. He had to hit precise spots, and he just wasn't that good at hitting precise spots consistently. 

If one (or both) of DPJ and Tarik Black can prove that they will beat opposing CBs to passes, our QB will have a much simpler time of connecting with them downfield when they have one-on-one coverage. 


August 5th, 2017 at 9:09 PM ^

unbelievable with his size, speed and toughness quotient - but he was below average to adjust and play the ball. Darboh tracked the ball well even if he wasn't a great downfield threat.

Still, Speight airmailed Darboh and Chesson on a regular basis. Iowa was case in point - multiple times the WRs were clearly by the freshman CB and Speight gave them no play on the ball. Maybe that is JH in his ear with the command of "throw no INTs", but he must give them a catchable ball even if it's a fight with the DB like McSorley.


August 5th, 2017 at 9:28 PM ^

damn iowa game.  interesting play though.  it wasnt a perfect throw as chesson looked to expect the rock on the outside and had to shift and come back to the ball but still had a great chance to catch it...unfortunately he let the DB make a better play on it by allowing the ball to get into his frame when confidently plucking the ball with strong hands away from the body solves it. 

speight threw some nice balls last year but also really struggled at times (who knows how much the injury factored)...i recall another play from the dreaded iowa game - from a clean pocket he badly underthrew darboh on a 3rd down before the half, missing chance to lead 82 to an almost sure TD (if i recall correctly).  so youre right, bottom line is many factors come into play on those deep balls.  the ultimate team sport after all


August 5th, 2017 at 9:39 PM ^

Black is going to be a terror on jump balls and will draw a great deal of pass interference calls. You could see it in the spring game and that was against a 6'3'' corner. Don't really care what other teams are doing because they will all struggle against our defense. We should be able to put more pressure on opossing defenses.

Frank Chuck

August 6th, 2017 at 8:16 AM ^

Example from a Jim Harbaugh team: Look up Michael Crabtree's stats with Alex Smith vs. with Colin Kaepernick. You'll see that Crabtree and Kaepernick had a spectacular connection.

Darboh was Speight's favorite target.

And it's funny to see all these fans talk about Speight's struggle with the deep ball because of the Iowa game but forget about the bombs Speight threw to Darboh in the UCF game, the Wisconsin game, and the Maryland game.

(But those same fans seem to forget that Darboh dropped a perfecltly thrown ball by an injured Speight which would've sealed the game.)

Amazing how quickly a narrative can change. Fans are fickle and have short-term memories.


August 5th, 2017 at 8:23 PM ^

I'm not going to waste my time to read whatever he wrote. He's basically wrong, they were arm punts. Best example was his last throw of the year into double coverage that resulted in a pick and FG for the USC win. I hope he continues to do it again this year.


August 5th, 2017 at 8:53 PM ^

I mean, McSorley isn't all just arm punting; he's not Reggie Ball throwing to Megatron at Georgia Tech.  But he was basically a 54% passer before his last couple of games when he completed something like 68% of his passes, which featured a large number of 50/50 balls and busted coverages.

Moorhead is right that McSorley isn't a flash-in-the-pan, but saying "he's on track to set some records" and "you don't understand our offense" aren't refuting the core argument that his receivers won a lot of contested passes last year and a slight drop in that conversion rate would depress his numbers.

Also, this drives me crazy when they point to "records" he's close to setting.  Christian Hackenberg, Zack Mills, and Matt McGloin are the top 3 passers in school history.  Teams throw the ball a hell of a lot more now than they did in the past; when your yardage leader had a 3-year average of 56% completion rate and 6.7 ypa,  that's a pretty low bar to pass.

WNY in Savannah

August 5th, 2017 at 11:05 PM ^

I think everyone is pretty much correct here.  Yes, those were mostly just "jump balls" last year, and yes, I believe it was in integral part of their offense.  Why wouldn't it be?  It was clearly their best chance for success.  And it kept working quite a bit.  There aren't too many college defensive backs that can stop that without getting a pass interference call.  Last year, Michigan had a terrific defensive line but also Lewis and Stribling were not going to get repeatedly burned by that stuff.  We really don't know yet if this year's CB's can make those plays.  I expect that PSU will try to throw long (or as long as they can before the QB gets drilled) repeatedly this year against Michigan because it will again be their best chance at success, even without Godwin.  The main reasons I am nervous about that game are that it's on the road (where Michigan offen lays in inexplicable egg) and the young defensive backs.


August 6th, 2017 at 8:39 PM ^

One man's opinion (FWIW),

The bad news:

- PSU was using the "arm punt" strategy somewhat (not as much or as effectively as in their later games), and it partially worked.  They drew a several (legit) pass interference calls.  I don't think all their heaves were desperation and getting lucky, and it makes sense that they could expect these plays to be available.  WIth 8 guys in the box to slow down Barkley, they figure to have single coverage deep.  A 50/50 play favors the offense given the risk/reward.  You can afford 2 incompletions if the third play gets a deep catch or a PI penalty.  That will move the sticks.

- Michigan's success on offense that day is not fully reproducable.  We know our O-line struggled to get push against better offenses.  That day they took full advantage of PSU starting a 2nd/3rd string LB corps.  Most of our opponents will not be that vulnerable.  In addition, Michigan was totally on point on 3rd and 4th down in the first half.  Even the few bad plays, usually Wilton biffing an easy short pass, got bailed out by Michigan's ridiculous conversion success when they got to third down.

- In contrast, Penn State was totally awful on 3rd down in the first half.  They were off the field so fast that for a while, Michigan had as many TDs as PSU had first downs.  They were down three scores before they even got to run all their scripted plays.  That will limit your options on offense (at least until the game got totally out of hand a short time later).

The good news/bad news:

- Michigan's defense was as on point as any time last season.  There was so much penetration into the backfield the DL and LB were in a position to stop either the pass or the run, and with the DB playing such good press coverage, Penn State couldn't do anything before the guy with the ball got tackled, even if it was Barkley.  That was great, and not a fluke, and we have reason to believe it will continue this season.  But, I think the early play by both sides magnified the differences in skill that game, and perhaps we can't expect Michigan to dominate the first half of the game in Happy Valley the same way.

Now the good news:

- Michigan's defensive scheme is (I believe) designed to make the arm-punt offense as difficult as possible.  They can play 8 men in the box to stop Barkley, and the man-press coverage will stop short throws well enough to let the pass rush get there, even if they were initially playing against the run.  On the flip side, a dominant D line like Michigan's can get good pressue with rushing 4 such that the offense can't count on single deep coverage.  In other words, I don't think Michigan has to make itself vulnerable to counter plays to slow down Barkley runs and stop the arm punts.

Essentially, I don't think last year's blow-out in Michigan Stadium means as much as we would like it to mean for this year's game in State College.  However, there are reasons to believe we will have answers to what Penn State does on offense.  I worry about inconsistency by the offense, and injuries.  The only way the guys were expect to be stars this year fall short is if they get hurt.  (I'm looking at you, Rashan.)