Sunday, September 25, 2016

Penn State Post Game

Teammates celebrate with Michigan tight end Devin Asiasi
Robin Buckson- Det News

Michigan has played 3 non-conference games prior to Penn State coming to the Big House on Saturday.  We have seen balanced offense, we have seen an opponent pretty much stop the run, and we have seen the passing game carry the offense.   We haven't seen the Michigan offense run over an opponent yet. 

Until Saturday afternoon, where the Wolverines put up 326 yards on the ground and 5 RB's scored touchdowns.   Usually you have a back that goes for 200 yards on a day like this.   That didn't happen for the Wolverines, Smith lead all rushers with barley over 100 yards (107) and Higdon was next with some impressive running with 9 carries for 81 yards.

This game was over in the 1st quarter and it was clear to pretty much everyone.   I had a minor concern at the start of the second half when the Wolverines looked a little flat to start the half.  It didn't matter and Penn State's big comeback bid was a field goal.   Penn State is not Penn State and Michigan is finally Michigan. 

It was also great to see Lewis and Taco back.  It made a huge difference in how the Wolverines played on defense.  Penn State had one good player and it was clear it was Barkley, but even he couldn't even keep PSU in the game. 

  • Welcome home running game
  • Welcome home great coaching
  • Welcome home great defense
  • Welcome home another dominating performance on national TV
  • Mo Hurst was pretty much un-blockable
  • No turnovers on offense
  • 5 RB's with TD's
  • Lewis and Taco playing
  • Clarks ACL deciding it was time to tear
  • The defense gave up a couple big runs from Barkley
  • Stribling had too many PI calls

Yes, the game was nearly perfect until Jeremy Clark went down.  Now, Don Brown has less flexibility and experience in the Wolverines backfield.   My guess is we will see more young players including Lavert Hill, Keith Washington and even David Long.

The schedule quickly gets tougher next week, as the (soon to be) top 10 Wisconsin Badgers come to the Big House looking to knock off it's 3rd top 10 team of the year.   I think we found out that ND is not very good and MSU has some issues.   Wisconsin seems to be legit and can play some defense.   Jimmy and the offense staff has it's hands full this week in preparing for it's first real test of the year.   I like Michigan's defense against Wisconsin's young QB and offense.   It will be a physical game and I'm looking forward to it! 

Side Notes:  ND sorry about that winning percentage thing.  I guess you can hand out the #2 jersey each week now.   Colorado loses to Harbaugh a week ago but beats Hoke the next week as Colorado upset Oregon last night.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Penn State Preview

Time: 3:30
Location: Big House
Weather:  70 and Cloudy
Line: Michigan -19

The Big Ten season is here and Michigan opens at home against a big name program that has struggled of late.   Penn State has struggled after the NCAA hit them hard over worst thing that has ever happened to a college football program.  The program still doesn't understand what is going on and even celebrated Joe Paterno last week.  ESPN called them tone deaf and this is the best term I could think of. 

If you believe in karma, Penn State is on the wrong end of it.  

This match-up favors Michigan in almost every aspect.  Penn State's injuries also remain a huge concern.   Running back Saquon Barkley Penn State's best player missed most of the game last week with an ankle injury. Nyeem Wartman-White blew out his knee and will miss the rest of the year.  Both Jason Cabinba and Brandon Bell were not available against Temple.

Tale of the Tape

3rd Downs = Michigan Defense
Coaching = Michigan
Talent = Michigan
Chad Henne vs. Christian Hackenberg =  Henne

Michigan better not need 1 second to win this game.  In fact,  I feel a lot better for this game then I did Colorado or even UCF.   My worst fear this year, is a spread team that will go Indiana on Michigan.   That fear exposed itself in the first quarter of last week and the Wolverines weathered the storm. 

Penn State is now a spread team and wants to play with tempo.  This is the first year they have run the spread as they try to move away from Hackenberg.  They have hit a couple big plays and their QB leads the Big Ten in passing with 828 yards.   They rank 117th in 3rd down conversions going 9 of 33.   The Michigan defense ranks #1 in the nation on  3rd down going 4 for 38.   If you remember the RR days (I know you do), the worst thing a tempo spread team can do is go 3 and out, because they do it fast and don't give their defense anytime to rest.

If Michigan welcomes Jourdan Lewis and Taco back.  Penn State's offense will be in for a long day.

Yell, this is how we start a Big Ten season if.....................................
  • Michigan is running through PSU's young LB's
  • Jourdan Lewis is 100% healthy
  • Michigan's WR's have a big day
  • Smith runs for over 100 yards
Yell, How many damn spread teams do we play? if.........................
  • Penn State hits big plays down field
  • Saquon Barkley is able to run the ball
  • Speight turns the ball over
  • This is still a game in the 4th quarter
Penn State is struggling with injuries, depth, coaching, and not being able to move on from it's past.  James Franklin is 6-10 in Big Ten play and only 3 games over .500 in his career in Happy Valley.   These programs seem to be going in opposite directions.

The only reason the line is under 3 touchdowns is because Penn State is a big name program.  The only threat here is that Michigan over looks this game for a ranked Wisconsin next week.   I doubt that will happen after last weeks wake up call and it shouldn't be hard for the team to be ready to play a brand name school. 

Penn State is 2-1 and has struggled against pretty poor completion, with their loss coming on the road to Pitt.   They will meet the #4 team in the country on Saturday at the Big House.  Penn State's QB Trace McSorley has a name right out of "Back to the Future" and will try to throw over the top of Michigan's defense, while they try to hit big plays with Barkley on the ground.  

Michigan should be able to move the ball on this defense without much trouble.   I would love to see our running game take a step forward.   Wilton should also be able to find open wide receivers with a nice mix of run and pass.    Penn State's best chance is to play fast and try to catch Michigan's defense off guard.    I like Michigan's chances with Lewis, Taco and Gary playing a ton.    Penn State is not Oregon and I think Michigan is excited for Big Ten play and jumps out big early.

Michigan 44 Penn State 12

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Michigan Thursday: Big 10 Big Weekend Games

Before we get into the Big Ten games this weekend, we have a few recruiting notes:

  • Brevin Jordan the top TE in the 2018 class got offered last night. 

  • Commit J'Marick Woods will visit A2 this weekend

  • 2017 DE and BC commit, Kwity Paye got offered last night as well

  • 5 Star DB and FSU commit Stanford Samuels III says he will take an official to Ann Arbor this Fall

Don Brown took the blame for the big plays against UCF and Colorado that the defense gave up.   He also said he was very proud of the number of hits the defense had on the Colorado's QB's during the game. 

“Like I told the kids yesterday, all the mistakes belong to me, so if anybody wants to point the responsibility I don’t want them to have any. It’s right here. That’s the way we handle it, and I just tell them I want you to play as hard and as tough as you can and all your mistakes belong to me.”

“Twenty-three quarterback knockdowns Saturday. Twenty-three. I don’t know if I’ve ever had 23 in a game. And I counted every one. That’s a lot.”

Big Ten Games of the Week:

#1.  Wisconsin at MSU- Wisconsin exploded up the rankings after beating LSU in week one and now they have two back to back trips to Michigan to play the Spartans and Wolverines.   That follows hosting OSU at home, road to Iowa and then Nebraska at home.   Wisconsin could lose all 5 games in a row.   MSU is favored by 5.   MSU 24 Wisconsin 17

#2. PSU at Michigan - Come back tomorrow for this preview

3. Nebraska at Northwestern - The Wildcats have been struggling this year and opened with two straight losses.   We're still not sure how good Nebraska is.  The Wildcats always win one game they shouldn't every year.  Nebraska is favored by 7.5.   Northwestern 23 Nebraska 24

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wolverine Wednesday: Jourdan in Jordans This Saturday

Players and insiders are saying that Jourdan Lewis will be back on the field against Penn State on Saturday afternoon.    This is obviously great news and will make a good defense even better.    I would expect that Stribling would be on the other corner and Clark would be put in the nickel and work some time at Safety on passing downs.   I like this formation to protect against some of the breakdowns against the secondary in the Colorado game. 

Taco and insiders are also saying he will be back on Saturday as well.    Mone still a week or two away and same with Furbush.   Both have been limited but in practice. 

  • Jake Butt was on the Midnight SVP SportsCenter last night.  He did a nice job.

  • Visitors expected this weekend include:  Toryque Bateman, Nico Collins, Oliver Martin, and  Donovan Peoples-Jones.   RB commit Kurt Taylor is expected to take his official visit as well.

Your moment of Zen for the day:  click to run

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Michigan Tuesday: Peppers Turns Wow into POW!

Jabrill Peppers might be one of the best athletes to ever wear the Maize and Blue.  With that said, he just did something that has never been done before.  He won the Big Ten Player of the Week for Defense and Special Teams in the same week.  Peppers did share the defensive player of the week award with Ohio State's Jerome Baker this week.

For the season, Peppers leads the country with 9 1/2 tackles for loss through three games. He's also the nation's leading punt returner with a total of 173 yards.

Michigan has had a Big Ten POW each week of the season.  Mike McCray won for Defense in week one and Wilton Speight won the offensive award in week two.

  • Insiders are saying that Drake Johnson is probably done for the year and Michigan will look into a 6th year of eligibility for him.  If anyone deserves a 6th year it's Drake.  That kid has been crazy unlucky with injuries.

  • Quinn Nordin also seems to have a hamstring injury.  Hopefully, Kenny can work out his issues from last week.   Come on, Kenny!

  • Many Michigan fans threw up in their mouths a little bit when Ann Arbor resident and former ESPN top man Mike Tirico said, (during the MSU/ND game) that every week a player gets to wear the #1 jersey because ND has the top winning percentage in college football.   Well, it seems that percentage is so close now that if ND were to lose one more game and Michigan continues to win, that Michigan would have regained that title.   Maybe ND can then hand out the #2 jersey.   ND plays Duke this week, so its probably not going to happen this week.

  • Jimmy killed it on the Dan LeBatard Show today.  Listen to the podcast on ESPN radio.   That is the perfect way to interview him.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Michigan Monday: Answers a Question and Does a Quick Look Ahead to Penn State

Let's first answer a question by regular BHB reader ScottyDoggs:   He asks if Michigan can get back to OSU level of play and will Michigan ever dominate OSU again? 

Love or hate Urban Meyer but the man can do to things; coach and recruit.  His philosophy is to load up on fast athletes and that will give match up problems.  Pro-style QB's don't want to go Columbus because that system doesn't translate to the NFL.   His only NFL QB of note, was actually a Jimmy reclamation project in Alex Smith.    Urban recruits speed everywhere, even at the QB position.

Jimmy, wants to win with power football, defense and good QB play.   The one thing I have seen Jimmy do while at Michigan is adapt.   That is why I think he is a great coach.   Lloyd Carr was not good at adapting, RR only knew one way, and Hoke trusted his coordinators way to much which equaled little to no change.    Watching Peppers in his own program and OSU blow out the Wolverines in the Big House last year got him thinking more about speed and play making.   I don't know if Chris Evans would be in the program if OSU didn't blow out Michigan last year. 

Jimmy knows you can't win like Bo did in todays game, but he still believes that great coaching, great defense and great QB play.   Yes, Michigan will be on OSU's level soon if not this year.  Will Michigan dominate the Ohio State series again?  Not with Urban Meyer there.   He has been successful at every level and will continue to re-load every year in Columbus.   The good news is that Urban tapped out at Florida and could do it again at Ohio State.   I think Michigan MBA grad and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross should offer him 15 million a year to leave C-Bus for the Dolphins.  Pay back for the Yankees paying Drew Henson.  

A look ahead to Penn State:

Penn State is 2-1 with a loss to Pitt and wins over Kent and Temple.   I have seen bit and pieces of those games and PSU has seemed to struggle in all 3.   They give up 27 points a game and James Franklin is squarely on the hot seat.   I thought he was a great hire, but he hasn't found the magic formula in Happy Valley.  Even QB Christian Hackenberg took shots at him for his poor play after Bill O'Brien left.

Michigan is favored by 17.

3:30 Kick on ABC

This is a Jimmy type of game.  Penn State is not going to surprise you and I expect Michigan to come ready to play and shouldn't have much trouble with the Nittany Lions.

  • Memo to Iowa, don't ever schedule the best team in the FCS. Please learn from Michigan's mistakes.   This is why the Big Ten has a rule you can't schedule the FCS any longer.

  • Michigan is still #4 in the AP.  Louisville jumped them after their blowout win over FSU.  MSU is #8, Wisconsin #11.

  • Mike Weber at OSU is pretty good, so is Donnie Corley for MSU.  Damn those guys not understanding the best instate players go to Michigan.

  • It seems that Tom Brady hit every position group in his pre-game speech. 
  • A guy I missed in Cheers section yesterday was the play of Khalid Hill.   He has been outstanding in the FB/TE role and made a great block on the Darboh long TD!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Peppers Post Game

David Guralnick, Detroit News
I had a bad feeling about this game after the UCF game (BTW did you see UCF took Maryland to two OT's last night?).  If Michigan has a kryptonite its a tempo spread team.  If the other team has a decent QB, Michigan looks like they are lost in a foreign country without a map or GPS.

When Michigan is down 21-7 and we just watched Louisville embarrass #2 FSU , I thought Michigan might have a hard time stopping the Buffalos at any point on Saturday.   I had a few choice words in my head ready and waiting for Mr. Don Brown.   I'm also yelling things like Michigan never plays well on BTN and I hate Matt Millen. 

Then Don Brown put the #1 recruit in the nation in the game and Gary responded.   The defensive line finally started creating a pass rush and putting pressure on the senior QB Liufau.  Eventually, it even knocked him right out of the game after a Wormley tackle.

As far as the offense, Michigan started the game running the ball well but kept throwing incompletions.  At one point, I was calling for O'Korn because his mobility was something I thought Michigan needed.   I was wrong, the running game kept going and Speight started to find his mid-range passing game to Jake Butt.     By the end of the third quarter, it was evident that Michigan's large offensive line was wearing down Colorado's defensive front.   

That touchdown right before halftime was huge and the difference in the game. 

I haven't mentioned Jabrill yet.  He had his best day in a Wolverine jersey and was freaking everywhere.   He had 9 total tackles, 3.5 TFL's, 1 Sack, 2 rushes for 24 yards, 2 KO returns for 81 yards, and 4 punt returns for 99 yards and a TD.   There wasn't a better player on the field (well the greatest QB of all time was actually on the field!).

Lets get to the cheers and jeers:

  • Peppers was fantastic!
  • Jake Butt clearly didn't enjoy dropping a couple of balls last week.  He caught 7 for 87 yards.
  • The offensive line opened some nice holes for the running backs
  • Smith ran hard
  • Gary was a difference maker when he got in the game.
  • The overall team didn't fold when they got down big at the start
  • The punt team, got two blocks and had some nice returns from Pepp.  It kept Michigan in the game early.
  • Wilton had a few highlights but struggled most of the game.  I thought he was hurt after the fumble, because he couldn't get the ball to the WR's.   That scramble and throw to Perry was his best play of the day.  He was 16 of 30.
  • Don Brown has to have a better plan when Michigan plays spread teams.  He did adjust but Michigan can't get behind big against OSU for example and win that type of game.  Ask Oklahoma.
  • Kenny Allen- his punts seem to be line drives and missed two very makeable field goals.  A couple of extra points didn't look good either.
  • Michigan's safeties had a tough day deep.  Michigan needs Jourdan Lewis to get healthy quick and take some pressure off the safeties.
  • Nike for not making a #5 Jersey

Yesterday cleared up a lot of questions in college football.  Ohio State is for real and the talent and experience Michigan many had thought in the off season is now equal or trending higher for the Buckeyes.  Michigan State is also for real after taking it to ND in South Bend.   Those two road games are going to be very tough for the Wolverines and they will need to play much better then they did yesterday.  Luckily, Michigan now has a great coaching staff and can fix issues they witnessed in the game.

Michigan's next two games are against Penn State and Wisconsin at home.  Neither play the spread and I expect Michigan could look pretty good against both teams.   Michigan also really needs Jourdan Lewis and Taco back.  I hope they are healthy for Penn State.