Monday, October 5, 2015

Michigan Monday: Game Week - A look Ahead To The Wildcats

Even though Ohio State is ranked #1 and Michigan State is now #4, there could be a case made that #18 Michigan and #13 Northwestern are playing the best football in the Big Ten.  You also have to give a hat tip to The Iowa Hawkeyes who have had a quiet year getting to 5-0 and just upset Wisconsin in Madison last weekend.  

It must be their high powered offenses, right?  Not this year, its the defense for both teams.  Michigan has the 2nd ranked total defense in the country and Northwestern is ranked #1 in points against at 7 points per game.   Both teams are also coming off shut out victories (Michigan has two in a row) as they enter Saturday's matchup.

Northwestern's best victory was a 16-6 victory over #16 Stanford, week one.   They also had a nice 9 point victory on the road at Duke but struggled with Ball State at home two weeks ago.   The next two weeks are the hardest part of the Wildcats schedule as they travel to the Big House and host Iowa.   They still will have to travel to Nebraska and Wisconsin.

Northwestern entered the year not expecting to compete for a championship but not playing MSU or OSU and a quick start has them focused on playing in Indy in November.  

ESPN Power Ranking Week 5 has Northwestern #2 in the Big Ten.  Michigan is 5th behind Iowa.

Line currently is: Michigan -8 which seems high.  

Game 3:30 on BTN

  • Jason Whitlock has been fired by ESPN again.  He still might fill in on Pardon The Interruption from time to time.   Jason of course worked for the A2 News and covered the Fab 5.

  • Mario's ankle injury did not look good on Saturday.  I hope it's a sprain and not a break.  I would assume we don't get any clarity on that during Jimmy's press conference today.  My bad, I didn't see that it looks like a Achilles injury.  If that is the case, the senior's Michigan career is over.    Mario was having a very good game when he went down as well.  Update: Mario is out for the year, look for RJS and Marshall to be his backup.   Marshall has the upside, RJS is a senior as well.   MSU is a 3:30 kick.

  • Red shirt burned:  It seems Tyree Kinnel played on special teams on Saturday. 

  • The Stribling injury was a bit of a surprise on Saturday.  I wonder if something happened during practice?  It was nice to see Dymonte Thomas out there contributing and playing well.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Maryland Post Game

Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis hauls in a third
David Guralnick, Detroit News

Memo to BTN:  Please stop giving Matt Millen contracts to do color commentary on your network.  There is a reason he is no longer at ESPN.  He is terrible!  He is captain obvious of the press box.   Please try to develop new talent from former players then recycling fired commentators from other networks.  If you can't fire him mid-season, please only allow him to cover Penn State games.  I understand he is targeted for Michigan - NW next week, please re-consider that choice.  Maybe he can cover another Big Ten sport.

That was a Big Ten game at it's finest and at it's worst.  Maryland was out manned and had been giving up rushing yards like rain drops on the East Coast this weekend.  But today they stiffened up and tried to make Michigan beat them with the pass in the high winds. 

Michigan running backs had issues all day.  Smith was in Ann Arbor with an ankle injury, Isaac ran hard but kept forgetting to take the ball with him, Green was nursing a knee, which left Drake Johnson coming off an ACL and a guy that was a DB last year. 

Thank goodness for Michigan's second ranked defense!  As Drake did find some holes and ended up running for 68 yards just two more then Chesson's 66 yard sweep.  Michigan pulled away in the second half on some big plays but looked pretty confused in the first half as they were up 6-0 at the midway point.  For awhile, I thought M00M was going to be trending on twitter. 

Did I say think goodness for our defense?  Michigan held Maryland to 105 total yards again (same as last week) and pitched another shut out.   They also forced 3 more interceptions and pressured Maryland QB's all day.

I was a little frustrated with the play calling in the first half as Michigan was gaining nothing between the tackles but the creativity I was looking for showed up in the second half.   I assume the wind was much stronger then it looked on TV. 

A road win is a good win and the match-up between Michigan and Northwestern next week looks to be a very good one. 

Did I mention, thank goodness for our defense?

  • Two Harbaugh head coaches on the sideline is better then one Harbaugh
  • Michigan's Defense
  • 3 Interceptions
  • Second Half Big Plays
  • Drake Johnson running and screen play
  • Chesson is fast!
  • Did I say Michigan's defense?
  • Offensive turnovers
  • Rudock's pick was terrible - fumble was not important
  • The first half
  • Offensive line - running between the tackles
  • Kenny Allen on not knowing what a squib kick is
  • Dumb penalties
  • Still not hitting long throws

Michigan's offensives totals came mostly on big plays, so it's a little miss leading.  Either way, any time you can get a conference win on the road, it's a good day.  Michigan has plenty of things to clean up before next week, but it's nice to win games that we should win. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Maryland Preview

New Time: Noon
Location: College Park, Maryland
Weather:  55 and 20% of rain
Line: Michigan -16

It seems the weather has calmed down for the new kick off time of 12:00 on Saturday.   The field might be a bit wet as they got rain on Thursday and it will rain most of the day on Friday.  Sounds like the move to noon was a smart move by the Big Ten even if the Hurricane doesn't hit land.

Let's take a quick look at last week for both teams: Maryland was behind 38-0 to WVU at the half and Michigan was up 31-0 at half against BYU.

Tale of the Tape

Mich QB vs. Mary QB = Michigan
Maryland's Oline vs. Michigan Dline = Michigan
Harbaugh vs. Edsall = Jimmy
Michigan Secondary vs. Maryland QB's = Pick 6
Michigan punt and kick off returns vs. Maryland's return game =  Maryland
Power vs. Spread = Power run game

Michigan has the advantage in pretty much every aspect of this game,  except playing on the road and Maryland's return game.   Will Likely is a 5'7 CB that is #2 in the nation in kick off returns and has returned 2 punts for TD's this season.   It will be important for Michigan to keep him from going Rocket Ismail on the Wolverines on Saturday.

Maryland has a hard time stopping the run as they have given up: 201 rushing yards in a loss to Bowling Green, 240 to South Florida, and 304 to West Virginia last week.  This is good news for the Michigan running backs. 

Sing Hail to The Victors if......................................
  • Michigan runs for 250 yards
  • Michigan plays well on the road
  • Rudock has another "clean" game
  • Defense dominates another young QB
  • Michigan creates 2 turnovers on defense
Ask if the hurricane is coming if......................
  • Michigan continues to play poorly on the road (see UConn and Rutgers games)
  • Michigan turns the ball over on offense
  • Will Likely returns creates points

Maryland uses the spread to throw and pass.  Due to poor QB play they haven't thrown the ball very well.  Their starter last week Caleb Rowe threw 4 picks and has 9 total on the year.  He will be the starter on Saturday.  

Maryland can run the ball a little bit, as they are averaging nearly 6 yards a carry.  It seems Maryland's offensive line run blocks better then they pass block.    Michigan of course does a good job against he run and has the #10 defense against the run in the nation only giving up 82 yards per game. 

Michigan is #2 in total defense nationally right now:

Total Defense:  Last updated - October 2, 2015 Through games of October 1, 2015
RankTeamGPlaysYDSYds/PlayOff TDsOpp TDsYPG
1Boston College42024722.3424118.0
3North Carolina St.41958234.2266205.8
4Kent St.42548743.441215218.5
5Appalachian St.31777394.1845246.3
6Ohio St.427810133.6466253.3

This game shouldn't be close as Michigan is the better team.  If you remember last year, Michigan was a dumpster fire and needed to beat Maryland at home to make a bowl game.  Michigan ran for close to 300 yards but lost when Maryland scored twice in the 4th quarter.   This is not 2014 and this team is coached by Jim Harbaugh.  The difference is, this team is on the ascend not the decline.

Michigan 34  Maryland 10  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Time Change Saturday

Credible people are saying on twitter that the Michigan - Maryland game is being moved to noon from 8:00 PM due to the weather.   This is not official yet, but expect that announcement soon.

Weather channel for Saturday in College Park has a high of 60 degrees and a 50% chance of rain, with strong winds in the afternoon.

It's official:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. –  The University of Michigan's football game at the University of Maryland on Saturday (Oct. 3) has been moved to a noon EDT kickoff from its previously scheduled 8 p.m. start, the Big Ten Conference announced.

The Big Ten has been in counsel with Maryland and Michigan throughout the week on the course of Hurricane Joaquin and its possible effects on Saturday's game. The three entities agreed that moving the game time was the appropriate decision.

"The weather experts are still dealing with uncertain probabilities for the course of Hurricane Joaquin," said Jim Hackett, interim Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "Thus we remain vigilant on developments and will err on the side of safety for all participants and fans."

Michigan (3-1), ranked 22nd in the latest Associated Press top-25 poll, and Maryland (2-2) will open their Big Ten schedules at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland. The game will be aired live on BTN and BTN2Go. Please check local listings for complete broadcast information.

Michigan Thursday: Big Ten Weekend Preview

Since most of the news about Maryland - Michigan is more about the weather then the game, I will take a look at the rest of the Big Ten this weekend.  BTW: There latest rumor is they might change the game to noon from 8:00.  Not sure if that will make a difference since the storm continues to change when it might hit land but it will probably be raining pretty hard at either time. 

Purdue at MSU= Purdue is the worst team in the Big Ten and a 3 TD dog. 

Minnesota at Northwestern = The Wildcats are a 4.5 favorite.  I think Minnesota wins this game.

Iowa at Wisconsin = Wisky is a favored by at TD.   Time to find out if Iowa is real or not. 

OSU at Indiana = OSU is a 3 TD favorite.  This is always a let down game for the Buckeyes.   IU is 4-0 and I think they will stay within 21 points but will lose the game.

Nebraska at Illinois = If you had to guess which team was .500 going into Big Ten play, I think most of us would have picked Illinois.   The Cornhuskers are favored by a TD and will win by more. 

Army at Penn State - Penn State is favored by 23 points

Michigan at Maryland = This line has been all over the place and they even took it off the board for awhile.   Michigan is now a 16 point favorite on the road and maybe in a lake. 

Rutgers is off this week.

Other Notes:

My theory on Rich Rod continues to be accurate.  As a reminder, my RR theory is: 

  • His teams will pull one upset every year
  • When there is a big game and RR's team is expected to compete, they don't and lose big.
  • RR's defense hurts his offense in big games.
Examples:  WVU vs. Pitt when West Virginia was one game away from the National Championship and lose to a poor Pitt team.   3 years at Michigan and the PAC 12 Championship last season. 

Latest Example: ESPN Gameday was in Arizona last weekend and RR was all over ESPN.  His team got rolled by UCLA, the game was over by halftime.  

Another side note:  Thank goodness Jimmy came home and David Brandon is selling Barbie dolls.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wolverine Wednesday: Weather Update

Tropical Storm Joaquin is becoming Hurricane Joaquin and probably won't hit the DC area until Sunday/Monday but starting Thursday will bring a ton of rain to the area.

That is a lot of rain, which would make for an ugly game and potentially un-safe conditions.   Most people don't fly into the path off of an incoming hurricane.   This leaves the Big Ten with a big problem for their primetime game.   The rumor is that the Big Ten might have an announcement tomorrow on the status of the game and even a new location.     Ford Field?  That might be an unfair advantage for Michigan but at least only one team would have to travel.   It also might make sense for Maryland's team to get out of the area as it might be difficult to practice next week.   I'm guessing Lucas Oil in Indy would be another location that the Big Ten might consider. 

  • Gary did speak to TomVH  of ESPN about his Michigan official visit experience.  It was all positive and his mom loved the academic side of things.   He is still a long way from a decision but it's great to be in a good position at this point.  

  • 24/7 is reporting local 4 star WR Donnie Corley will take an official visit to Michigan this fall.  Sounds like the Michigan coaches are really making up ground in his recruitment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Michigan Tuesday: Weather or Not - Here Comes Michigan

Michigan as you know will play an 8:00 PM game against Maryland on Saturday night.   There is also a possible tropical storm called Joaquin that could be headed to the College Park area.   I wonder if the back up plan is playing the game earlier in the day or Friday night.   Hopefully a smart media member will ask the Big Ten office this week.

  • Its seems the #1 player in the country Rashan Gary had a positive experience in Ann Arbor this past weekend.  He hasn't spoken to reporters yet but his mom seems to have enjoyed the experience and realizes the power of a Michigan degree.   This could be a Michigan vs. Auburn battle for his services. 

  • Another visitor last weekend was 4 star  CO DE/OLB Carlo Kemp.  This is his second visit to Ann Arbor and he continues to use the word "love" when it comes to the Wolverines.   He is going to visit ND in two weeks and hopes to have a decision sometime after that trip. 

Coach Speak: Jimmy Monday's presser

Best Answer:   "Yeah, he’s gonna be sore. He’ll be working through the soreness" from this question:
You were optimistic about De’Veon’s health the other day. Are you still optimistic? Do you have an updated on De’Veon?

  • Highest rated offensive lineman: Mason Cole
  • Called out WR blocking:  Moe Ways really gaining playing time and Jehu Chesson is the best blocker.
Second best answer:  “I agree with you. I cannot disagree. I concur. I don’t- maybe they didn’t have 4th and 16s in Australia. We’re educating young Blake.  I think you know the question.  :)