New Trap Games?

Submitted by M Ascending on October 3rd, 2016 at 6:57 AM
With Indiana displaying uncharacteristic tenacity against State, especially on defense; and with Maryland begin to play like a solid team under Durkin, do we have two serious trap games to worry about -- Indiana between road games at State and Iowa, and MD. Between Iowa and OSU?



October 3rd, 2016 at 7:00 AM ^

According to Harbaugh. Every week is a championship game. I think we have a good coach who won't allow them to look ahead. Many of the upperclassmen know what it's like to not perform well and I think that's motivation to never allow themselves to slip.

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October 3rd, 2016 at 7:55 AM ^

Don't believe everything you hear in a presser, especially from Harbaugh.  He knows the game, by which I mean the PR game.  If "every game is a championship game" then he would've emptied the bag of tricks against Hawaii and UCF.  Instead the stats wound up being kind of wonky because we played so vanilla.

I think Harbaugh is quite adept at gauging the opposition and gameplanning accordingly -- planning a few tricks in case he needs to manufacture touchdowns with RPS, but keeping as many cards up his sleeve as possible because he IS looking ahead.  He'd be a fool not to.  But he'll never actually SAY he's looking ahead, because there's absolutely no good reason to.  Who ever says that?

Not that he'll take his foot off the throttle in practice just because it's Rutgers; as you say, he won't let the players get complacent.  But he's not an idiot trying to get them to take Rutgers seriously, either.  He has always been about self-motivation.  Keep getting better.  You can't rely on your opponent to motivate you every week (look at PSU).  He wants the players to crave improvement for themselves, because that's how you avoid complacency.

Realistically, I suspect Harbaugh will spend much of the week cleaning things up instead of preparing 50 anti-Rutgers RPS plays.  Oh, he'll rep a few that exploit Rutgers' weaknesses to ensure victory, but there's such a thing as counterproductive overpreparation.  We need to clean up some fundamental things that they're sure to attack anyway, so it'd be a waste to rep way more RPS plays than we'd need against a team that probably won't cross midfield until the third quarter.


October 3rd, 2016 at 8:35 AM ^

Telling the media that every game is a championship game and possibly telling our guys every game is a championship game is still plausible.  Just because Harbaugh calls vanilla plays doesn't mean he instilled _insert team here_ is a really tough team all week in practice.  Am I wrong?


October 3rd, 2016 at 9:18 AM ^

I explicitly said he wasn't going to make practice any easier.  We agree that he wants to keep the players motivated, but unless they're all way stupider than we thought they were, you'll have a hard time convincing them Rutgers is on the level of OSU.  If he says "championship game" it's only in the context that "we're not making it to the championship if we don't get past these guys first", but say that to the press and they'll construe it as looking past Rutgers.  So he blabs off some BS like Rutgers IS a championship game.  Because part of his job is to give Rutgers nothing to work with.

This isn't the sort of thing we're likely to ever get a candid take on, but I just don't think the players are idiots.  I think Harbaugh knows full well they won't buy into the idea that Rutgers is a championship game.  There's a subtle difference between prepare like it's a championship game vs. flat-out calling it one like he did to the press.  The quote-fishing reporters can eat that bullcrap all they want, but if you overdo it on hyperbole you can lose your team's respect and a HC would be smart enough to avoid that, though he won't encourage them to overlook the opponent either.

Not to mention, again, I think you prepare for certain games quite differently and the team would pick up on that.  A championship game would be like OSU; Harbaugh knew going into last year's OSU game that the O-line would get wrecked and gameplanned an entire suite of plays around avoiding that.  There was a palpable respect for the opponent in the OSU offensive UFR.  Hawaii and UCF didn't get that, nor will Rutgers, and it's the players that'll be repping the gameplan for 20+ hours between now and next Saturday.  You think Harbaugh could persuade them it's a "championship game" when they're probably repping Power O?


October 3rd, 2016 at 9:37 AM ^

is the thing though, it is a championship game for Rutgers, just as it was for App. St., just as it was for Toledo, just as it was for Akron.  Regardless of whether Michigan believes it to be or thinks it is, this is the game of Rutgers season at home, at night.  That is how trap games occur.  One team has a very decided emotional and inspirational advantage over another, more talented team.  I don't view either Maryland or Indiana as trap games as Indiana pushed us last year and just beat State and Harbaugh is going to try to figuratively decapitate Durkin.  I think the next two games fall more into the category of potential trap games, particularly Illinois, believe it or not.  That is homecoming, coming off a bye and the week before State week.  There you have distractions, rust, and looking ahead.   


October 3rd, 2016 at 9:47 AM ^

Back in the heyday Michigan was circled on every opponent's calendar in blood from a severed goat's head; once Michgan regained national attention it was going to happen again.  It doesn't mean much because, as I guess I have to keep pointing out, we are not disupting that Harbaugh will keep the team motivated.  That's why I love Harbaugh's "win with cruelty" approach.  It's not so much about being mean as it is assuming every opponent is there to rip your head off.  He is not going to let the team overlook anyone.

But if Harbaugh needs to tell the players Rutgers will be out to get after them, he's already lost the locker room when all evidence indicates otherwise.  I mean, you're right, but this is a subtext that's hardly worthy of discussion.  Rutgers will come to play, and two quarters later, Harbaugh will be breaking their will.

Pepto Bismol

October 3rd, 2016 at 9:27 AM ^

I'm kind of confused how you've been a member since 2011 with 1500 points and have never come across RPS.  I think I looked that up my first week visiting the blog.

Nonetheless, it's shorthand for Rock-Paper-Scissors denoting a decided schematic advantage on a certain play.  

For example:  "Wisconsin blitzed, but Harbaugh called the screen at the perfect time for a big gain.  RPS +1"

Mr Miggle

October 3rd, 2016 at 11:03 AM ^

don't strike me as good candidates for trap games anyway. Not with the game against IU last year and with Durkin at UMD. Our defense should be seriously motivated.

If I was to pick one it would be Illinois. Coming off a bye week can disrupt their routine. Cue the jokes about it being a big rivalry game.

M Ascending

October 3rd, 2016 at 7:08 AM ^

Actually, Ped State was a trap game, between two ranked teams, and we did fine. Makes happy to think of PSU as a trap game between two real football teams.


October 3rd, 2016 at 8:28 AM ^

I'm more worried about Rutgers this weekend - or to be more accurate, there is a freaking hurricane bearing down on the east coast.  I went to Maryland last year during a tropical storm that hit the DC area and the weather was miserable.  I'm going to stop going to east coast away games.

As for actually fearing Rutgers... hahahahahahaha


October 3rd, 2016 at 7:31 AM ^

Harbaugh isn't likely to overlook Maryland of all teams.  He wouldn't have hired Durkin if he thought he was a slouch.  Indiana is CHAOSTEAM so nobody overlooks them.  Rutgers and Illinois aren't anywhere near enough of a challenge to trap anyone, FWIW.

But Michigan State is underperforming, and that ironically makes me uncomfortable.  It confirms what I've long suspected; STAEE really isn't that good.  They look a solid step below Colorado.  They're maybe a 7-5 team, but the problem is that it's both worse than expected yet still plenty dangerous, and they'll empty the bag of tricks against Michigan.  They'd love nothing more than to make up for a lost season by giving Michigan its first loss, in EL of all places.  They will be champing at the bit to the point that they may lose to Maryland, making it even more of a trap game for Michigan.