Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wolverine Wednesday: Did Coach Nuss Do A Good Job This Year?

Michigan Football: Spring Practice Grades for Early Enrollees
Tony Ding
The Michigan Football team has had trouble finding wins on the football field the last three years but they do their best to win off season.   One of the wins last off season was the hiring of a new offense coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama.   I thought this was a strong hire and that Michigan's play calling, running game and development of QB's would be much better under Coach Nuss then Big Al. 

There was a nice debate in the comments field on Monday on whether he has done a good job or not.   So I thought I would give you my $.02.  Here are my grades:

Running Game:  C+
Michigan has seen some improvement in this group.  Green came in leaner then the year before and the offense line is much better then the year before.  Michigan would like to win games with this unit and they clearly have not been able to.  

Pass Game: F
This unit went about as bad as it could.   Michigan's 5th year QB made terrible decisions with the ball and when he did hit a WR there was way too many drops.   This was just awful this year. 

QB Development:  F
Devin is who he is, he has had two head coaches and three offensive coordinators.  I expected more development from him but not surprised he has struggled this year.  My biggest concern is with Shane Morris, I was hoping he would be ready to take a huge step in his development this year.   When he got playing time, he showed a couple of flashes of good, but it was mostly bad.   He so needed a redshirt year.  What a waste. 

Play Calling: C+
I feel a little bit for Coach Nuss on this one.  What are you supposed to call when you can't pass and the defense is taking away the run?  Still, Michigan seemed to miss a number of opportunities to have better play calling this year.   A great example was in the Maryland game, Michigan had just run for two first downs with Hayes and Johnson and then Coach Nuss went to three pass plays, which equaled a punt.  

I watch a lot of football and it seems most college QB's have one or two reads, take a three step drop and throw.   If it isn't open to a WR there should be a RB to dump it off to or a QB run.     Another way to take pressure off your QB is to have a great screen game.  How you don't run more plays to Jake Butt?   I would have liked to have seen more of these types of plays out of the Wolverines this year.

Offensive Line Play: C
This unit has improved this year but it's still not great.  I don't believe Coach Nuss has much to do with this unit, but it has improved. 

Overall Offensive Competence:  F
This unit has been a complete disaster this year.   QB play was very poor, too many turnovers, no passing game, and an average at best running game.   Scoring points has been a challenge all year.   I'm also not a big supporter of the theory the cupboard was bare.  Michigan has a senior QB or 5 star sophomore QB and a ton of good RB's on the roster.  With improved offensive line play, I expected about an average of  27 points a game.   Michigan has talented kids and many programs are doing much more with less.

Remember when we watched the Spring Game and the offense struggled to do anything?  We hoped that was just Michigan not showing us anything?  Well they were showing us something and it was how this unit was going to play this year. 

Michigan is 116th in the country in passing yards and 114th in scoring points.  Enough said. 

They say to play winning football at any level you need a great head coach and great QB.   Which one of these does Michigan have?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Michigan Tuesday: Ducks Go Down

Michigan's Ricky Doyle (32) and Oregon's Ahmaad Rorie
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
With the number of channels at ESPN it's hard to believe they didn't have enough stations to fill the content of any night.   Last night was one of those nights as the Michigan - Oregon basketball game got sent to internet and ESPN 3.  

Michigan played well from the start and even though the athletic Oregon team always stayed close Michigan lead from wire to wire.   Irvin went for 19 points and LeVert added 18 but the MVP of the game might be a person we were expecting.   It was freshman Ricky Doyle who added 10 points and one very important block and then a rebound and put back that put the Wolverines up 5 points late in the game. 

It was nice to see a freshman contribute this year as they have mostly been confused on the floor.  "It was huge for us, especially down the stretch. Coach calls those the outliers and Ricky was definitely one of those, getting big offensive rebounds and a couple and-ones as well," said LeVert, who also had five rebounds. "He played big for us."

Michigan won on the defensive side of the ball and driving the ball to the rim on offense.   The issue the Wolverines will have all year is they got out rebounded 41-29 with 18 of those coming on the offensive side of the ball.   The Duck wanted to take the 3 away from the Wolverines so Michigan took the ball to the hoop and got to the line 29 times. 

Michigan plays Villanova tonight at 10:00 on ESPN 2 in the championship game.   Villanova beat VCU last night. 


  • A young talented Indiana team lost to Eastern Washington last night at home.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Michigan Monday: Now What?

It hard to find words to explain this season.   The best thing I can say is:  it's almost over.   A week from today, we will hopefully have step 2 complete towards a new program.

Saturday was another example of "how to beat yourself".   Remember when Michigan used to do that against good teams?  This program has dropped so low, we are now doing it against bad teams.   .  

People talk about upsetting OSU, stranger things have happened, but I wouldn't bet on it.   This is a beaten team, a team that can't take another punch.   When "Fleet" returned that punt that was called back, the game was over.   This team is tired of taking punches and went to a knee.  I wouldn't be surprised if this locker room wasn't that interested in playing another bowl game. 

So now what?

Option 1:  Is what I expect to happen.   Michigan gets beat in CBus this weekend.   Hoke resigns/gets fired on Monday.   There are some folks that believe a "separation agreement" might already be in place.   You could tell by looking at Hoke on Saturday, this was his last game in the Big House.

Option 2:  Michigan elects to "Earl Bruce" Hoke and fires him today.   This basically is a motivational tactic as the team gets to travel to CBUS for one last game for coach.    I doubt this will happen, unless Hoke wants to announce he has resigned at the end of the season. 

This nightmare will be over a week from today.   Then another type of season will start: hunting season for a new head coach.

I sure hope Jim Hackett has spent the last month paving the road to the next Michigan coach and not trying to find paperclips.   Please have had contact with Jimmy's agent and not a big box of paperclips on your desk. 

A week away............................

Side note:  How distracted are the Michigan coaches going to be this week?  Are they thinking about moving? changing kids schools, who might be interested in hiring them?   It's only human nature.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Michigan "Hokes" Another Dumb Loss

When your a bad team, it's important you don't beat yourself or what I like to call,  "Hoke yourself".  

Michigan played a poor one dimensional team that looked a lot like the Wolverines.   The play of the game was a plenty by a walk-on that brought back a Norfleet punt return for a touchdown.    That TD would of put Michigan up by 2 touchdowns, instead it took the wind out of the Wolverines sail.  

Mental mistakes cost them the game and a clear microcosm of this terrible season.   This pretty much seals the fate for Brady Hoke to the unemployment line and means Michigan will not be attending a bowl this year.   (they have to upset OSU to get to 6 wins)

Devin Gardner, congratulations on leaving Michigan with your undergrad and masters degree.  You are a classy individual and I wish you luck in you next step.

Jake Ryan, I have enjoyed every snap you played. 

Cheers:

  • Sometimes when you lose - you win long term.   I hope this is an example of that happening.
  • Joe Kerridge had an excellent day
  • Michigan moved the ball well on the ground
  • RB's ran hard
Jeers:

  • I thought Coach Nuss called a terrible game.   It's embarrassing to lose a game like this after running the ball so well.
  • Sometimes the offense line looked like they forgot to block
  • Michigan continues to have zero passing game
  • More Drops. Really?
  • Michigan's DB's played very poorly all day
  • Michigan got out coached again
  • Two penalties took 7 off the board for Michigan and gave Maryland 7
  • Specials team went from great to terrible with two penalties and a missed field goal

I know this is not a breaking news, but this team is terrible.   It lost to both Rutgers and Maryland this year.   Hoke needs to do a Will Muschamp and resign effective a week from Monday.    There is no way he saves his job now.   Even if there is some type of miracle in CBus, Hoke has to go.

What a way for the seniors to go out.   Just plan embarrassing.

This team is in need of a complete overhaul.   What a disaster this season has been.   Thank goodness there is only a week left.   Next week will be hard to watch.

BTW: Mike Weber has de-committed.  No surprise there.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Michigan Friday: Where is The Fresh? & Maryland Preview

Michigan guard Zak Irvin (21) reacts after a basket
Tony Ding / Associated Press
Michigan played a close game against Detroit last night as Juwan Howard Jr. was channeling his famous daddy on the floor that made him famous.   The first half was pretty bad for both teams.  Michigan struggled shooting jumpers and Detroit played well enough to have a one point lead at half time.  

The second half started similar to the first and then Caris started to take over.   He finished with 21 points and 17 of those coming in the second half.   Detroit went on a mini-run slapped the floor and got beat by 9 points.   Big Nookie Jr. finished with 24 points and was pretty much the entire offense for the Titans all night. 

These types of games will happen with young teams and Michigan didn't start playing well until they put in Spike and Bielfeldt.   Michigan has a big problem with their bigs.   The freshman are confused on both sides of the floor and not playing well.  They were in an out of the game in a few minute spurts.   They would come in give up a basket, foul and right to the bench for the rest of the half.   I see freshman playing well all over the country and Michigan's freshman are going to need to pick up their game if this team is going to have success.   The lineup with Spike and Max is just too small if Michigan isn't shooting well from three.

I know there is a log jam at his position, but I think we need to see more from Dawkins.  The kid can shoot!
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Maryland Preview

Time: 3:30
Location: Big House
TV: BTN
Weather: High 40, With freezing rain
Line: Michigan -3


Maryland is bowl eligible, Michigan isn't.   Many didn't expect that to be the case when these two teams meet for the first time as Big Ten opponents.  Maryland made a trip to the Big House in 1990 when Michigan was good and got blown out 45-17.  Maryland is coming off a night game at home whipping from MSU 37-15, Michigan knows how that feels.  

This is senior night and the last game for the likes of Jake Ryan and Devin Gardner who will play their last game in the Big House.   These guys should be applauded for their dedication to the program and their hard work they have put in 24x7 to make this team better.  

Maryland is 114th in running the football, so don't expect too many runs against Michigan's strong running defense.  They are 67th in passing, so expect them to throw the ball a little bit.   Michigan's DB's will be getting a ton of work but will not have to worry about one of the Big Ten's top WR's in Stefon Diggs who is out with an injury.    With the expected poor weather, throwing the ball might be an issue for both teams.  

Michigan proved at Northwestern they have a hard time executing a passing attack.   If Michigan can get their RB's going and carry the load all day, it will be a good day for the Wolverines.   If Gardner is healthy I would like to see more scrambles and even a couple called runs.   Like always, Gardner's play is the wild card, if he completes his short throws for first downs and the team can run the ball.  Michigan will win.   If Michigan can't run and DG throws picks, it will be a long day for the Wolverines.  

I think Michigan will play hard to earn a bowl game and send the seniors out with their last home win.   Points will be low due to the weather and a couple bad teams. 

Michigan 17 Maryland 13

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Michigan Thursday: Hits The Links

Sorry all, I don't have much content today.  So I will share some links for your reading pleasure.

  • One of the Big Ten's best WR Stefon Diggs will not play on Saturday at the Big House.


  • Hoke's Wednesday Press Conference. The most interesting thing that came out of it was that Hoke turned down offering Jake Ryan a scholarship at SDSU.   I think he thought that was funny, I'm more in line with him not recognizing talent. 

  • Saturday's weather is calling for a high of 40 degrees rain and ice. 

  • Reportedly there are 3,000 tickets left for Saturday's game.   Rain, Ice and a 3:30 kick probably won't help attendance. 

  • The Michigan Basketball Team plays Detroit tonight at Crisler.  6:00 BTN

  • Horford is playing well for Florida.   I will never understand that move.

  • Alan Branch's football journey by ESPN.  He is playing well for the Patriots right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wolverine Wednesday: Forget The Playoff 4, We Have the Quick Lane 4

I know year one of the playoffs is exciting for the teams in the top 5 in the nation.   As Michigan fans we are not that interested in playoffs this year, we are more interested in going to a bowl game and staying out of the Quick Lane Bowl.

Your first question might be:  What is the Quick Lane Bowl?  It's formerly the Pizza Pizza Bowl that is held at Ford Field. 

You might recognize a player on their current advertising:




Quick Lane is the Big Ten's lowest bowl on their line-up.   Many believe that Michigan at 6-6 would be a perfect fit, because they are a quick drive to Detroit.   I don't know about you, but I'm not in the camp and would consider this bowl game as the lowest of lows for the program.  

So I bring you the Quick Lane 4 (Big Ten Teams only):

1. Northwestern:  They are 4-6 and have games remaining over Purdue and Illinois.   If they win out they will be 6-6 and have a win over ND on their resume.   Short plane trip or you can take the train from Chicago to A2.

2.  Michigan:  5-5, Has Maryland at home and #6 ranked OSU in CBus.  There is probably one winnable game left on their scheudle.    Many think the short drive to MoTown would make this a good bowl for the Wolverines.   Michigan is known to travel well and I expect they might be in a bowl game in Texas or California.

3. Penn State: 6-4 with games at Illinois and home against #11 MSU.  They will probably finish at 7-5 or maybe 6-6 as they don't play very well on the road.  

4. Rutgers is 6-4 but has MSU and at Maryland still on their schedule.  6-6 is looking very possible.  I believe they have played in this bowl before.

5.Illinois is 4-6 and is (Northwestern and PSU) not expected to make a bowl.

--------------------------------------

There continues to be plenty of "smoke" around the Harbaugh to Michigan.   This article from Sam Webb is another example.  

Here are the things I believe:

  • Even though the Frank Clark situation was handled correctly by Brady Hoke, continued negative media attention does not help his cause.

  • Jim Hackett will handle an appropriate separation with Brady Hoke after the OSU game. If they beat Maryland, I expect he would coach the Bowl game.

  • Jim Hackett will also be in role to hire the new head coach and new AD

  • I now believe everyone understands it's Harbaugh or bust.  If this is going to work, plans will have to be made way ahead of announcing he is coming.  For example, there are rumors that Jimmy is putting out feelers on his staff at Michigan.   I think those rumors are probably not accurate but just a sign there is plenty of "smoke" out there.