Friday, October 15, 2021

Michigan Friday: Expectations

We all had expectations at the beginning of the season.  Being undefeated at the halfway point probably beat most Michigan fans expectations outside of Schembecler Hall.   Here are the areas where Michigan either beat, met, or is less then my expectation when the season began. 

Record: 6-0 

This record beat my expectation starting the season.  I had Michigan 5-1 with a loss to Wisconsin on the road.   The must wins of Washington and Nebraska was hit and Michigan winning on the road in Madison for the first time in 20 years is a huge plus.   Moving forward I had MSU chalked up as a win and now that one is highly in doubt.   I also still have concerns at Penn State at night and that team Michigan finishes the year against. 

Offense:

This position group has met my expectation at mid year.  I thought Michigan would be a power running team with a good deep offensive line.  Cade would be a game manager and I had concerns about the WR position.  Ronnie Bell looked like an All American in his limited time against WMU and others have stepped up.   Blake Corum is going to be a superstar.   JJ and Donovan Edwards are getting good reps.  Michigan will have to pass to win football games as the solid defenses left on the schedule will not let Michigan run the ball right at them.   We need big production at TE and WR health is going to be an issue.   I've been very happy with Cade's deep ball even though it wasn't great against Nebraska.  Would like to see a true freshman WR to surprise us in the 2nd half. 

Defense:

This position group has beat my expectation.  This unit was horrific last season and Mike Macdonald has done a tremendous job playing zone and keeping the action in front of them.   The defensive line play has been a pleasant surprise as Hutch might be the best defender in college football.  Mazi Smith and Chris Hinton are greatly improved and David Ojabo is really becoming a strong pass rusher.    Dax is an All American and the safeties are playing at a high level with Brad Hawkins winning play against Nebraska.   The CB's seem a little scary still but improving each week.   I know transfer big man nose tackle Jordan Whittley has been banged up, but would like to see him more in the 2nd half of the season to stuff the run.    This unit will be the difference between making it to Indy or not.  

Special Teams:

This unit has beat my expectations.  Moody and Robbins have done a great job at kicking field goals and punting.  Outside the bizarro Rutgers 2nd half, those two guys have been excellent.   Kickoff return is good with Blake Corum, but punt return is still a bit of a concern after Ronnie went down.   I think AJ will be fine, but lacks confidence in catching the ball with some punts.   I'm worried that a muffed punt will change a close game.  

Coaching:

100% improvement everywhere.  The team is "jumping around" and having fun playing football.  They are focused and playing winning football.  The new hires have made a huge impact to my eyes.  

Michigan will have a very difficult road to Indy as they have 3 top 10 teams out of the 6 remaining games.  2 out of those 3 games will be on the road against an instate rival and a white out at Penn State.  

  • The Michigan Coaching Staff has been on the road this week, watching games of commits and guys they are still chasing.  
  • Jimmy and staff are making 5 star 2023 QB Dante Moore from Detroit King a major priority in the next class:  “They always text me,” Moore said. “Coach (Jim) Harbaugh has been texting me every week. Coach (Ron) Bellamy, Coach Clink (Steve Clinkscale) and Coach (Matt) Weiss always talk to me. I’m enjoying my talks with them. Michigan was the first school to put me on the watch list in seventh grade. I appreciate them.” “It’s crazy hearing from a head coach every week, especially Coach Harbaugh” Moore said. “It’s phenomenal. I’m enjoying talking to him every week. It’s a great process. He’s doing a great job at Michigan and is turning things around.”


Thursday, October 14, 2021

Big Ten Preview Week 7

There are no bad Big Ten weekends when Michigan plays, even if its against a cupcake.  This weekend there is no Michigan, Ohio State, or Penn State.   This is officially a "stinker" weekend from the Big Ten.  The best game is a scouting game for Michigan fans as MSU travels to IU which are two teams still remaining on the schedule.  

#10 MSU (-4.5) @ IU:   Everybody loved Indiana last season, they have a great coach and they're finally playing winning football.  Was the future bright or just a strange COVID year?  I think that question got answered this year with a 2-3 record.   MSU is clearly the better team and should win by a large margin but this is the Big Ten and the Spartans are on the road.  MSU 28 IU 21

Nebraska (-4) @ Minnesota:  Talk about two snake bitten programs.  Nebraska is the better team but something is going to happen to keep the Gophers in this game.   Nebraska 17 Minnesota 14

Rutgers (-2) @ Northwestern:  I have been shocked how bad Northwestern has been this year.  They played Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game last season, right?   Don't watch this game.  Rutgers 13 Northwestern 0

Purdue @ # 2 Iowa (-11.5):  Iowa gets very lucky they didn't have to jump on the road and play a trap game, after the Penn State win.   I still think Iowa has a bit of a let down and Purdue covers.  Iowa 24 Purdue 14

Army @ Wisconsin (-14):  I have a firm rule for the Michigan AD, never schedule a service academy or App. State.  This is a very dangerous game for Wisconsin when the 4-1 Army comes into Madison.   Army 19 Wisconsin 20

That's it for Week 7! 

  • Jett Howard made it official yesterday and will be a Wolverine
  • Cade took his entire offensive line to the Chop House last night.  Smart move QB! 
  • Lincoln Riley has to choose between a possible NFL high draft pick QB and the backup who won the Texas game last weekend.   That is a between a rock and a hard place decision. 
  • Penn State has some serious injuries:   DT P.J. Mustipher is out for the year and they won't disclose QB Clifford's injury. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wolverine Wednesday: Jett on Home Son

UMhoops.com

Talk about recruiting violations, it seems that Juwan Howard is paying for the private IMG Academy for a 4 star and the #37 player in the country in the 2022 class.  This prospect is a 6'7 and the 11th SF in the country, who is going to commit to his school of choice today at 3:00 on IG Live.  This recruit is named Jett Howard and the son of Michigan's Head Basketball Coach.  

I'm sure other schools didn't invest too much recruiting time into Jett but he still has offers from the likes of Georgetown, Florida, LSU, NC State, Tennessee, and Vandy.   But all signs point to Jett jetting to Ann Arbor and joining Tarris Reed, Dig Dug McDaniel, and 4G Gregg Glenn in the 2022.  Jett will not only play for is father but play besides his brother as well.  I can't imagine what kind of emotions the Howard's will have, when both of their sons are on the court at the same time.  

Welcome Home Jett!

  • JJ and Donavan Edwards hit the practice field after the Wisconsin game which was noon kick.  They also did it, in the wee hours of the morning after the Nebraska game which was a 7:30 kick.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Michigan Tuesday: Into the Light via Email

There have been a few head coaches in the last 20 years that could pretty much write their own ticket and coach wherever they wanted.  It's a short list of guys like Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Jon Gruden.   The last two guys have had a very poor two weeks.   Urban Meyer clearly thinks he is gods gift to football and can do whatever he wants when he wants.  That has been slapped down pretty hard in the NFL where he is getting his hat handed to him on and off the field. 

The next is Jon Gruden who was on the precipice of turning the Las Vegas Raiders around just when the truth about his character is reveled in an investigation of another football team.   Isn't that something? An investigation of the hugely dysfunctional Washington Football Team, brings down the Raiders head coach.  You think someone in the NFL Corporate Offices might have been offended by those emails and leaked them to the NYT?  Firing Gruden is clearly the right decision, what about Dan Snyder?  Urban you're on deck.  

These guys being A-holes and basically being frauds is not a surprise to me and I assume its not a surprise to you either.  Paying these guys $10M a year to coach your team, might get you some wins, sells a few tickets, but its also selling your soul to the devil.   

We're all mad where this program has gone since Lloyd Carr retired, but I can sleep at night knowing Michigan never choose the devil in guys like Meyer or Miles. (RR and Hoke weren't good hires as neither were ready for the job).  Michigan Basketball was even close to hiring the basketball version in Rick Pinto and luckily got just the opposite. 

What happens in the dark, always comes into the light. 

---

Many Michigan fans wonder out loud what Michigan should work on during the Bye week.  My frustration is said much better in the last paragraph of this analysis by ESPN's Bill Connelly:

  • Michigan - NW will be a noon kick in the Big House on Fox 
  • Brad Hawkins named co-Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week 
  • Hutch again was named the PFF Defensive Player of the Week 
  • Moody was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week