Michigan 28, Purdue 10

Michigan 28, Purdue 10


September 23, 2017

John O’Korn (image via Sporting News)

Hopefully Wilton Speight is okay. It sucks when your starting quarterback gets hurt, especially a high-quality character like Speight. It happened early in the game, and Speight was 2/4 for 10 yards, while also taking 2 sacks. He was crushed on a play that looked like it could have been flagged for targeting, since he was already in the grasp of another defender and got hit forcefully to the head. Jim Harbaugh says it’s a “soft tissue” injury, so that leaves something to the imagination.

Hit the jump for more on Saturday’s win.

But. BUT. Is there a quarterback controversy? I don’t know, but there should be. Speight was at 54.5% for 7.4 yards/attempt, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions going into this game, and he wasn’t doing well in his short time. Meanwhile, John O’Korn was 18/26 (69.2%) for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception in this game alone, and that doesn’t include supposed patsy opponents like Air Force and Cincinnati. The fact is that Speight has not been playing well over his last several games, and the offense has not been productive with him at the helm. O’Korn gave a jolt of energy to the team, and Michigan needs to see if they can ride that success. Sometimes it takes a bit to get a team rolling, but Michigan is 33% finished with their season, and the starting QB wasn’t getting it done. I hope Speight comes back healthy, but I hope the roles are reversed by the next game.

But Indiana last year! I’ve said for a while that a lot of people were judging O’Korn unfairly harshly for his performance against Indiana last season (7/16, 59 yards). That was O’Korn’s first start at Michigan, he had been getting backup’s snaps, and it was in freezing cold with wind and snow swirling. Sure, O’Korn had previous starting experience, but he played high school ball in Florida and transferred from Houston. It shouldn’t have been a surprise that he struggled in that situation, but now it should be clear that he’s much more capable than what he showed. Purdue isn’t a great team – it’s not like O’Korn shredded Alabama – but they had all the momentum when O’Korn entered the game, and he was a big part of sucking that momentum away.

Let’s look at the smaller picture. O’Korn played very well. I mentioned the stats two sections above, but aside from a couple plays, he did exactly what he should have and looked decisive doing it. There were a couple overthrows to Grant Perry, and he was sacked twice when he froze like a deer in headlights. But overall, he hit eight different receivers and landed some vertical routes that Speight surely would have missed. Michigan’s young receivers are struggling to get separation, and the timing with Perry needs to be improved, but where the Wolverines have an advantage over other teams is with their tight end versatility and depth. Sean McKeon (5 catches, 82 yards) and Zach Gentry (3 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD) both had career highs in catches and yards, and they need to be used more often. On top of all that, Michigan was playing its first game of the season without leading receiver Tarik Black, which makes O’Korn’s performance even more impressive.

The offensieve line. Nolan Ulizio is bad. Michael Onwenu is up and down. The right side of the line is embarrassingly bad, and Purdue doesn’t even have a good defensive line. Purdue came into the game having made 1 sack all season, and they made 4 in this game. They knocked Speight out of the game, and a blitzing linebacker had a chance to target O’Korn. If the offensive line doesn’t improve, we’re going to be looking at Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey as the starting quarterback before long. I thought this before the season, but I’m even more convinced now: Tim Drevno won’t be at Michigan in 2018.

A couple unheralded players are tearing it up. It’s funny that the guys who earned a ton of pre-season hype (Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Mike McCray II) are playing second fiddle right now. Lots of people doubted Chase Winovich (6 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks in this game) and his ability to play a bigger role, and Devin Bush, Jr. (6 tackles, 1 sack) flew under the radar. Hurst is playing well and looks better when he’s not lined up directly over the center, but he’s not putting up the numbers (3 tackles) that will get him a ton of attention for post-season accolades. The whole defense is playing well, but this is a group where even the lesser known guys are becoming stars.

Running back roulette. Karan Higdon earned the start and averaged 3.1 yards/carry; he also fumbled once on a screen pass. Ty Isaac – who has never been known for being a bruiser – seemed extra tentative, and his 10 carries netted just 20 yards. He struggled in pass protection, and either he or Mason Cole was responsible for the initial hit on Speight’s injury. I’m an Isaac fan, but he played poorly today, despite scoring a 1-yard touchdown late, his first of the season. I was a week early with my prediction, but Chris Evans led the team with 14 carries for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 49-yarder. I’m not so sure if Evans would have put up such big numbers if not for the two targeting ejections (MLB Ja’Whaun Bentley, SS Jacob Thieneman) for Purdue, but either way, he was the guy who made the most things happen.

Purdue is fun to watch, but they play with an edge. I enjoyed their flea flickers, throwback screens, etc., but they seemed to throw everything they had at Michigan in the first half and didn’t have much left after halftime. Michigan had 292 yards in the second half, and Purdue had just 10. It didn’t help them that Bentley and Thieneman were ejected for personal fouls – which extended drives – and then Gelen Robinson was flagged for a late hit on Isaac, who was about three steps out of bounds. Sometimes playing with reckless abandon cuts both ways. Also, Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm seems very, very whiny.

92 comments

  1. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:16 PM

    I need to give Winovich propos. He isn’t just a specialty pass rusher. My bad.
    The qb situation is obvious, hopefully it’s obvious with coach Harbaugh. I thought DPJ brought some more explosiveness. Better late than never on utilizing the TE’s.

    Yes, Ulizio isn’t very good. It’s not his athleticism that bothers me it’s that he tends to move over and help a fellow lineman block someone who doesn’t really need help blocking. Hey, find a guy who may be blitzing or look somewhere else first and then come on over. I think he panics or feels like he is good when blocking someone with help.

    I’ll pay attention to him on reviewing the game but his pass protection is gawd awful. He is like a distant cousin of Kalis when it comes to foot work.

  2. Comments: 678
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:19 PM

    Not only this, but JOK hit hit the flats; had a quick release; tighter spiral & less loft; he improvised…

    I still have some doubts about his pocket-presence, but the difference in our Offense and it’s “synergy” was obvious. I think JOK’s ability to get the ball out quicker may be the best answer for our OL

    “he hit eight different receivers and landed some vertical routes that Speight surely would have missed”

    • Comments: 17
      Joined: 9/18/2016
      Chowman
      Sep 24, 2017 at 8:20 AM

      I thought O’Korn made some throws yesterday that Speight could of never made. IF he even tried they’d of ended up going the other way. You hate to see a guy get hurt, and the old adage, you don’t lose you job to an injury and all, but I hope they let O’Korn lead the team from here on. Besides, he has a little more mobility and with how bad the OL is playing they might just need that escapability!

    • Comments: 137
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      ragingbull
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:05 PM

      thats the thing, can okorn consistently locate receivers and toss accurate balls from the pocket vs better Ds? he can make plays on the move and he threw a few nice passes in rhythm from the pocket yesterday but can he maintain that rhythm in pocket all game vs better D. im not sure. speight hasnt been able to this year though he did ok in that area for stretches last year. if better Ds only rush 4 or maybe 5 and drop into coverage will okorn be able to consistently find and target open receivers from the pocket? if so, hes 100% the guy. same goes for speight. purdue wasnt very good but he still made things happen so he gets the credit. im not sold but it was positive step forward from speights play so theres that.

      re drevno, ive been shocked hes hung around this long. ive never been a huge drevno fan. harbaugh has proven he will go out and hire the most accomplished teachers and sharpest minds so if hes being honest then he should prob take a long look after this season. but drevno has accompanied him on most other coaching stops so maybe he just has a comfort level with the guy regardless of his ability…drevno works hard, obviously can handle harbaugh day in day out and has good working relationship, maybe harbaugh feels more comfortable with him around. who knows. im sure hes a decent coach and obviously a really nice dude. i just dont think hes the best offensive mind available.

      if they truly want the best, he should be gone. its been pretty clear his units have struggled for long stretches and many players have failed to significantly develop, just unfortunate facts. im all for finding someone else, whether it means elevating pep and frey or adding another OC, but i think its time

  3. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:20 PM

    Back to the OL. What makes Onwenu and Ulizio so stinking bad is pass protection. These guys have absolutely no idea how to communicate on blitz attempts. PU was getting into the backfield so quickly that JOK surprised them with being elusive.

    Throwing to TE’s is the answer because you can throw underneath to offset blitzing and opposing defenses must be licking their chops when watching the film on the right side pass blocking.

  4. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:34 PM
  5. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:38 PM

    I didn’t catch that. That was good Thunder.

    Offensieve. Good stuff. Well done.

  6. Comments: 666
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Sep 23, 2017 at 10:50 PM

    There should be no controversy about QB. Even if Speight was 100% healthy in two weeks, anyone who thinks he should start over O’Korn is not being rational. That includes Harbaugh. If he starts Speight against MSU, that’s pretty much all the evidence we need that this is not a meritocracy.

    Agree about Drevno. Again. Our Oline is terrible, and shows no sign of improvement. And the subtext to Ulizio being so bad is that JBB is even worse. So much worse that he’s not even worth giving a look to. Of course, with Drevno gone, all of the Harbaugh apologists will moan that we can’t be expected to do well with a new coach there for at least 2-3 more years. And round and round we go.

    • Comments: 20
      Joined: 1/29/2016
      maizinblue88
      Sep 24, 2017 at 10:52 AM

      After Michigan fires Harbaugh, who do you want as our new head coach?

      • Comments: 666
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 24, 2017 at 12:00 PM

        Hmmm…I must have missed the part where I said Harbaugh should be fired if he starts Speight in two weeks. Point it out to me, will you, dude? I’ll wait.

        • Comments: 20
          Joined: 1/29/2016
          maizinblue88
          Sep 24, 2017 at 12:24 PM

          I was exaggerating for effect, and being a little rude about it so I apologize. But your “Harbaugh apologist” line and “round and round we go” suggests you don’t think Harbaugh has what it takes to win championships. And if he doesn’t, why keep him around?

          • Comments: 666
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            WindyCityBlue
            Sep 24, 2017 at 2:22 PM

            My contention is that Harbaugh has not yet proven he has what it takes to win championships here. I have complete confidence that he can get us to 9-3, a second or third place finish in the East Division, and a 2nd or 3rd tier bowl game pretty much every season, and that his apologists will find a new excuse every year for why we need to be patient, and why “the future is bright”. We could go 9-3/10-2 for the next 10 years, and certain fanboys would still be saying “the future is bright”, and denying that the winningest program in college football history can do any better than that. They will always have a new excuse for why conditions weren’t perfect THIS year, and Harbaugh couldn’t be expected to win big, but NEXT year will the THE YEAR.

            • Comments: 678
              Joined: 1/19/2016
              je93
              Sep 24, 2017 at 2:26 PM

              And nancies like this will always b!tch, moan, and complain

              • Comments: 666
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                WindyCityBlue
                Sep 24, 2017 at 3:51 PM

                Yes, just like the coaches who always find something to complain about and that needs improvement the next week, even after a blowout win. Intolerable.

                But hey, just convince us that you’ll be just fine with going 9-3 or 10-2 every year for the next 10, and you’re off the hook.

                Go ahead.

                • Comments: 678
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Sep 24, 2017 at 4:56 PM

                  This year, I’ll take 10 wins

                  The program was a mess, now it’s just about back to Lloyd Carr era. I have no doubt JH will win a national title, but do not expect — even a little — that he’ll win at the level saban has. In fact, I think he’s sooo competitive that the sooner he wins it all, the more likely he grows restless and leaves for the NFL for his Lombardi

            • DonAZ
              Comments: 327
              Joined: 8/12/2015
              DonAZ
              Sep 24, 2017 at 4:57 PM

              WCB: “My contention is that Harbaugh has not yet proven he has what it takes to win championships here.”

              That’s simply a true statement. Harbaugh has not yet won a championship here; therefore, he has not yet proven he can.

              The question is whether there’s a reasonable expectation that he can. And if the answer to that is “no,” then the natural next question would be: “If not Harbaugh, then who?”

              I think Harbaugh *can* win a B1G championship, and I suspect we’ll see that in the next few years. Taking the next step up to NC requires a lot of things fall in place. I see it in the realm of possible he could win a NC here. I would not bet the farm on it. But then again, I would not necessarily bet the farm Meyer wins another NC at Ohio State.

              As to the “If not Harbaugh, then who?” question … I’ll tell you, I’m not sure what I’d answer there. The two premier coaches — Saban and Meyer — are not leaving their current posts to come to Michigan, regardless of how much money is dangled.

              If we come down to the next tier, I’d put Harbaugh in that category. So changing Harbaugh out for another in the same tier is a wash. In this tier I’m thinking coaches such as Swinney at Clemson, Fisher at FSU, Petersen at Washington.

              Of those, if I *had* to choose one, I’d pick Petersen simply because I really like what he’s done in the Northwest.

              Final point — pure opinion — college football is rapidly devolving into an arms race to be one of the top 10 or so teams in the country. The money — facilities, coaching, etc. — is forcing a separation of teams. All the rest will fall further behind, never to be able to contend. Michigan is in the thick of that. Michigan State is not. The next few years are going to define who’s in that top echelon and who’s left behind. Michigan is very, very fortunate Harbaugh was available post-Hoke so they could stay in that race. Can you imagine Michigan going through another four or five years of 7-5 while the Ohio States, Alabamas, Clemsons, Washingtons grow deeper and deeper roots?

              • Comments: 434
                Joined: 9/13/2015
                michymich
                Sep 24, 2017 at 11:32 PM

                Saban has just turned Alabama into a minor league team for the NFL. Looks like Clemson is heading the same direction.

                It’s tough sledding nowadays. All those obstacles but UM has name power and with an 85 scholarship limit, Harbaugh can do it. UM is on track for the most part with a couple of areas are lacking but will get turned around.

              • Comments: 434
                Joined: 9/13/2015
                michymich
                Sep 24, 2017 at 11:37 PM

                Back to Lloyd Carr era? I think the program is above the LC era right now. Just a matter of time before he wins a Big Ten championship.

                PSU is winning because of McSorley and Barkley. Put those two guys on UM and they win. Harbaugh has them on defense so it could be this year. A little luck. Harbaugh was this close last year. I am a happy clam all things considered.

  7. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 23, 2017 at 11:38 PM

    A. Even if Speight is 100% and plays better during the two weeks I think you have to give the start to JOK because the team has just seen the improvement along with the fans. I believe Harbaugh has had his ‘bluff’ called and doesn’t have any other card to play. Not the senior card. Not the performance card and especially not the loyalty card. JOK has earned his start and there is no rule in the UM program or Harbaugh playbook that says a player is guaranteed or entitled to keep his job regardless of execution.

    Same goes for Ulizio. Evans got benched. Higdon today. Even in the best case Speight scenario, tell me the differential between the two qb’s and does that justify not making a change? Which player on this team should not be replaced at anytime? Hurst? Bush? McCray? Which player on offense? Cole?

    When it comes to the OL. Maybe these coaches ought to look at one primary thing. Who can communicate the best between the RG and RT as a team of two? That’s it. The communication between these two guys is as bad as it could possibly be as a team. Two frosh essentially. What about Ruiz? I really think this is more about Ulizio than Onwenu.

    I am going to watch this game again and pay attention to these two. Maybe I am just being too harsh.

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 23, 2017 at 11:52 PM

      Problem is, options are ridiculously thin at Tackle (recruiting!). Runyan may not have Onwenu’s ceiling, but can fill in at RG much better than RT

      “I really think this is more about Ulizio than Onwenu”

  8. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 174
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    crazyjoedavola
    Sep 24, 2017 at 12:24 AM

    Getting rid of Jedd Fisch and keeping Drevno was a huge mistake. Hopefully Frey can fix this mess. I’ve never witnessed so many years in a row of such terrible player development on the OL, absolutely pathetic.

    • Comments: 434
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 24, 2017 at 1:55 AM

      I was thinking of the possibility of having Bunting play RT or Ruiz as LG and move Bredeson.

      Bottom line is the right side is a mess. I am going to continue you watching plays but when they run the right side is okay since the blocks are in front of them. Passing, well not so much.

      Didn’t Fisch want to go out west? I think it’s more talent and who was calling plays in the 2nd half? They sure opened it up. Can anyone call a good set of plays when you have a mediocre OL and a mediocre qb in Speight who doesn’t throw the ball well outside the hash marks, holds onto the ball too long and doesn’t go thru his progressions? Also, no rb who can push the pile.

      Seems like quite the challenge.

      • Comments: 678
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 24, 2017 at 2:01 AM

        I’m sorry, I stopped reading… Are you serious?!?

        “I was thinking of the possibility of having Bunting play RT… “

        • Comments: 434
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 24, 2017 at 3:25 AM

          I am desperate. Since Bunting isn’t really needed with the TE group the question then becomes is Bunting that much worse or better than Ulizio.

          You tell me. I don’t know. I prefer to move Bredeson over and have Ruiz as the guard but I am grasping at straws.

          • Comments: 678
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 24, 2017 at 11:10 AM

            Bunting is an even worse blocker than Butt. He’d be awful at Tackle

      • crazyjoedavola
        Comments: 174
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        crazyjoedavola
        Sep 24, 2017 at 10:02 AM

        Weren’t there rumors at Fisch and Drevno did not get along and Harbaugh sided with Drevno and that was the reason why Fisch left?

  9. Comments: 678
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 24, 2017 at 12:35 AM

    Just read this, “John O’Korn led Michigan’s two longest touchdown drives of the season, at 84 and 86 yards”

    Outliers, I’m sure 🤔

  10. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 24, 2017 at 2:18 AM

    Best position group on team?

    1.Tight Ends.
    2. Linebackers
    3. DL

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 24, 2017 at 11:11 AM

      DL, then LBs. Bush is the our most fun to watch player since DRob

  11. Comments: 920
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:30 AM

    Four for four on trips to the red zone, that was nice to see. I like Quinn Nordin, but don’t need to watch him play football all the time.

    Poggi did a real nice job just burying a guy on Evans late run. Onwenu got the on air praise, but never looked up enough to even see the safety standing way deep in the hole and really contributed nothing on the play. Still, for just an enormous man, he has some seriously nifty feet to even get there. It’s easy to see the appeal of Onwenu as an OG.

    Zach Gentry made just one helluva catch down the seem on an O’korn floater.

    Their throwback TD to the TE was just a gorgeous play. The TE didn’t just sell the block, he made it. Then he slid off real contact to get into his route for a TD. Just a gorgeous thing from start to finish.

    John O’Korn looked like a real QB at Michigan for the first time since he got here, at least in a game. When Harbaugh calls and asks what I think he should do about our quarterbacking, I’m gonna tell him, “Hand the ball to John O’Korn”. I give him two starts before the screaming for Peters fires up.

    Wondering what Drevno used to know about coaching offensive linemen that he has forgotten.

    • Comments: 2172
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 24, 2017 at 7:36 AM

      Michigan was 3-for-3 in the red zone. The fourth touchdown was a 49-yarder from Chris Evans.

      I agree on everything else, though.

  12. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:56 AM

    You want to hear my Harbaugh & Speight theory? You do? Great.

    Here is what I think happened in the Harbaugh mind. JOK was supposed to be, according to rumors, the heir apparent to the qb job. Based on what I saw in the past JOK clearly wasn’t a pass first qb.

    Speight seemed to have a better pocket presence and willing to throw so he winds up winning the job in a close competition. Harbaugh sees Speight over the course of the year and says to himself, well I can win with this guy. He may not be great but if I have a decent running game, solid pass blocking Speight is going to make the necessary throws along with a good defense UM will win. UM could have been undefeated last year. This guy is the safe choice and has proven he can get the job done.

    Here is what happened this year. Magnuson wasn’t around or Newsome. His tackles and his comfort zone broke down. Smith wasn’t his protector in the backfield so now the pocket was collapsing quicker and the ball had to come out faster. It clearly had impacted Speight who clearly is a play action fake type qb whereas the type of qb needed for this team is a quick release and read guy.

    Harbaugh was stuck. JOK hadn’t proven anything and wasn’t getting the reps in practice. Harbaugh wanted a better alternative but Peters wasn’t ready and JOK had only shown him run first, pass second. I am sure he knew Speight was regressing but what could he hang his hat on?

    In the mind of Harbaugh, he isn’t going to replace someone unless he is getting something of a known commodity. He never replaced Smith. Harbaugh talks meritocracy but really loves effort even reliability more.

    Going forward, JOK has now given Harbaugh something he can hang is hat on. The question is whether JOK can consistently play well. Harbaugh is going to have to play JOK but the question is whether JOK will prove over the next 1-2 games that he is a better option for the rest of the season.

    We will see. I absolutely believe Speight is a great leader and great young man and will support this move.

    One added comment: I think this offense needs to trade ball security for more risk because I think the defense can actually minimize the turnover. See the JOK int which only led to 3 pts. Red zone efficiency will offset a turnover.

    I am curious to see a bigger sample size for JOK. Not a shot at LK. I just think this is definitely a case of sample size. Did you happen to catch what Dantonio said after the game? He said statistics can lie to you. The MSU/ND game was very impressive for MSU except for those pesky turnovers.

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 24, 2017 at 11:17 AM

      Question of the day, every day for the next 2-8 weeks!

      “Harbaugh is going to have to play JOK but the question is whether JOK will prove over the next 1-2 games that he is a better option for the rest of the season”

      • Comments: 434
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 24, 2017 at 1:15 PM

        I would disagree. If JOK plays well for the next two weeks then we as fans and the media will have their answer.

        Give me a 3 week sample size and I am good to go on making a firm decision if things play out like they did at PU give or take a little.

        • Comments: 678
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Sep 24, 2017 at 1:42 PM

          Honest question: do you think okorn will play well?

          I’m off my 1-day high, and can’t help but wonder just how bad Purdue is…

          Sure, JOK should start against sparty. How he plays is a completely different question

  13. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:59 AM

    Bush is going to be an all-pro in the NFL as a strong safety. If he keeps this up he should be 1st team all-American.

    • Comments: 2172
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 24, 2017 at 7:04 AM

      I don’t think he’ll be a strong safety in the NFL. He’ll probably be a weakside linebacker.

      • Comments: 434
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 24, 2017 at 1:12 PM

        Every time I see him my first thought is he is small. Small in college. I think he gets run over in the pro’s. In college you can get away with it because you are playing against more spreads.

        I may or may not have mentioned this but I was watching Inside the NFL and Simms says they basically play flag football in college and these OL guys just aren’t prepared for the NFL. It was interesting viewpoint that college guys aren’t prepared for the hitting ferocity of the NFL unless you play for Saban.

  14. Comments: 17
    Joined: 9/18/2016
    Chowman
    Sep 24, 2017 at 8:14 AM

    I had the same thought about Drevno while watching the game. JH doesn’t seem like the kind of HC that’s overly loyal, and it’s clear this OL hasn’t gotten any better. Tired of the “oh Brady Hoke left the cupboard bare” refrain! It’s year 3, they should have a functional OL by now. They’re not even close to being average!

    • Comments: 434
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 24, 2017 at 1:09 PM

      They did lose Newsome. Let that sink in for a little bit. Think that would have made a difference with the OL? Move Cole over to RT. Things look a lot better.

      Depth from the Hoke era is the killer although Harbaugh didn’t get the OL recruiting done his first year.

  15. DonAZ
    Comments: 327
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Sep 24, 2017 at 8:32 AM

    Re: O’Korn and Speight … I suspect we’ll see O’Korn for the MSU game.

    I wonder if Harbaugh started this season with a vision of where he wanted to go with the offense, and he saw Speight as the best QB to achieve that vision. I suspect Harbaugh has a bit of a stubborn streak in him, and through the first three games he stuck with his choice. Events in the Purdue game have changed that.

    In the second half of the Purdue game we saw something we didn’t see in earlier games — more TE play, short passes, less reliance on a deep vertical game which we seemed to get with Speight.

    Which leads to this question — I wonder if O’Korn’s ceiling precludes the vision Harbaugh had? O’Korn doesn’t strike me as a pocket-presence, deep vertical game guy. Do we see the offense change to fit O’Korn’s profile … with the Purdue game illustrating what that looks like?

    • Comments: 434
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 24, 2017 at 11:48 AM

      Very good observation. Harbaugh has a preference for the bigger, less mobile guy surrounded by the great OL and run game. Unfortunately, UM isn’t able to pull that off. You saw this bias for run out the clock at Iowa last year.

      Harbaugh wants to do something he just can’t do right now. Behind the curve on his offensive philosophy.

      • Comments: 666
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 24, 2017 at 12:04 PM

        That philosophy also lost us the MSU game in 2015. Harbaugh tried to run out the clock by keeping the ball on the ground against a team that we’d had zero success running the ball against all day, instead of going aggressively for a first down, which would have finished the game without having to punt.

        • Comments: 434
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 24, 2017 at 2:57 PM

          I remember Higdon tripping over himself. The loss was about the punter. I won’t speak his name. Lol.

  16. Comments: 20
    Joined: 1/29/2016
    maizinblue88
    Sep 24, 2017 at 10:59 AM

    Why doesn’t our offense find a way to get Evans the ball in space more? He does a great job of making people miss. He is still one of our only playmakers on offense and we don’t play to his strengths at all.

  17. mos12
    Comments: 25
    Joined: 8/15/2016
    mos12
    Sep 24, 2017 at 11:48 AM

    I feel like a lot of the O Line’s issues are related to Speight’s struggles and I also noticed very predictable play calling at the beginning of the game. Run-Run-Pass. When the passing game is not a threat and the playcalling is predictable, the O Line will struggle with stunts and blitzes. O’Korn at least is making them worry more about the pass and his mobility and escapability were a ++ for the passing game. Also, getting the TE’s heavily involved in drags over the middle will slow down and stop the LB blitzes. I’m pretty excited about the future.

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 24, 2017 at 11:55 AM

      Upvote because I agree the pass eased things up for the OL a bit, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do

    • Comments: 13
      Joined: 11/17/2015
      funkywolve
      Sep 24, 2017 at 10:06 PM

      Of the 3 series Speight saw only one went run, run, pass.

      First series was Higdon run for 10, First down pass to Crawford for 6, incomplete pass, sack.

      2nd series went Higdon run for 3 yds, pass to Perry for 4 yds, incomplete pass.

      3rd series was run, run, pass.

      Once O’Korn came in the only time before the 4th Q where they went 1st down run, 2nd down run, 3rd down pass was the series after the int.

  18. Comments: 2
    Joined: 9/24/2017
    bluegoinggray
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:02 PM

    Created an account just to comment on the Drevno opinion. The more time that passes with Drevno here without our offensive line and overall offense making marked improvements, the less impressed I am with Drevno. I know offensive line and overall offensive performance are complex issues, but those are his responsibilities. If he leaves, it might be addition by subtraction. I guess it really depends on who replaces him.

  19. Comments: 678
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:10 PM

    Drevno won’t leave unless it’s for a HC job
    No mid-major program can afford to pay him more than he makes now
    No big-time school will be desperate to chase after him
    I think he stays

    • Comments: 434
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 24, 2017 at 3:24 PM

      Drevno is getting a slightly bad rap. How did the offense go when a new qb came in and could throw accurately. Much better. Players make coaches look better than normal. See Hurst and Bush.

      Is it Drevno’s fault Newsome got hurt? Kugler first time center. The left side isn’t that bad but this is less on Drevno and more on Hoke. Newsome would have solved a lot of problems.

      Filiaga, Ruiz, Steuber, Bredeson will make him look better. This is still residual Hoke with some injuries. This is still about getting a better back who can not only be elusive but push the pile.

      Switch the talent on both sides and Brown is getting much more criticism.

      • Comments: 2172
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Sep 24, 2017 at 3:43 PM

        I mean, we still didn’t run the ball very well. A huge chunk of yardage came late in the game after Bentley and Thieneman got kicked out, too. We still had offensive line issues once O’Korn entered the game. It’s just that he was capable of making some throws that Speight couldn’t.

        It’s been talked about numerous times here. It’s not just the QB, not just the OL. There’s significant room for improvement at almost every spot.

        • Comments: 434
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 24, 2017 at 3:45 PM

          Yes. No disagreement here.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3460
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 24, 2017 at 5:24 PM

          It’s pretty much just the OL. Michigan O yardage same as the other games save Air Force (who eats clock), regardless of QB. Difference here was red zone efficiency (which as Brian Cook put’s it “doesn’t exist”), D locking down the run game, and a flurry of Purdue Sparty-No penalties.

          The offense has been about the same every game. Inconsistent. That was acceptable against Florida, maybe OK against Air Force, and very very bad against the 2 tomato can Ds. You can throw out whatever stats you want, hypothetical highlight-analyst, I’m talking about moving the football.

          I’m also talking about how often you don’t.
          7 punts against Cinci, 7 against Purdue — the worst defenses we’ll face all year perhaps.

          Same problem again. Michigan can’t run consistently at all, even against awful defenses. It’s a black cloud on the horizon. Maybe it’ll skirt by. I wouldn’t bet on it.

        • Comments: 920
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Sep 24, 2017 at 6:31 PM

          Isaac had a bad miss picking up a blitz that O’Korn managed to escape from by the skin of … choose your favorite. i don’t always pay much attention between the other two backs unless somebody hands them the ball. My opinion at the moment is that Higdon is a better pass blocker than is Evans, but thats on the basis of one play last week.

          I don’t think we’re getting great pass blocking from our backs though, either.

      • Comments: 678
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 24, 2017 at 4:35 PM

        Only part missing from your post is recruiting. We haven’t seen much from Drevno, so the talent excuse is quickly becoming his own fault

      • Comments: 666
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Sep 24, 2017 at 5:18 PM

        Except that the reason that Kugler is a “first time center” despite being a fifth year senior is precisely because Drevno has been unable to make him into a decent player. He’s only starting now by default.

        Yes, losing Newsome hurt, but all coaches at all positions have to deal with injuries. It wouldn’t be nearly as much a problem if Drevno had been able to make anything at all out of fourth year guy Bushell-Beatty, or out of David Dawson.

        And as far as Filiaga, Ruiz, Steuber, Bredeson making him “look better”, it’s supposed to work the other way. He’s supposed to make THEM look better.

        • Comments: 666
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Sep 24, 2017 at 5:28 PM

          And yeah, I have no respect for anyone who downvotes a substantive post, but can’t make a substantive response.

        • Comments: 434
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 24, 2017 at 7:52 PM

          Dawson was rumored to be overrated from the start. Didn’t I read a story where people affiliated with the school or knew him felt he was going be a bust. He was.

          Remember the injury to Glasgow late in the season? and the defense couldn’t recover.

          The OL just from the Hoke era just didn’t have both the talent and the depth. This is fact, not speculation.

          Blaming Drevno for everything is a reach. It’s tough playing with two new guys. One of them was principally a big time DLineman recruit and the other at the time a reach. Just look at the OL, it’s a mix of all sorts of pieces. One is a Sr. olineman who is playing a different position than last year and another first time guy.

          Why can’t Frey turn this thing around? It will take some time. In regards to your recruiting argument, good point. Bredeson was added. Onwenu needs some more work. Clearly OL recruiting was lacking in that 2nd class and Drevno deserves some blame. I remember Doug Skene talking about OL play and he reiterated on more than one occasion that it takes time for a line to gel and this year UM has new guys basically everywhere.

          3 years ought to be long enough but because of a number of factors including qb and rb play, here we are.

          • Painter Smurf
            Comments: 198
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            Painter Smurf
            Sep 24, 2017 at 8:58 PM

            Think it would be a different vibe if there were a bunch of talented young guys out there taking their lumps in the name of development. But other than Bredeson, I am not confident that any other current starter will be starting next year. This was supposed to be the rebuilding year. But with Drev doing a poor job of filling the cupboard early (especially the ’16 class), 2018 is likely to be another OL rebuild job. That is year 4 for him. Progress has just been too slow. Drev and Frey have both achieved much quicker rebuild jobs in previous stints, so Drev really has no excuses.

            • Comments: 678
              Joined: 1/19/2016
              je93
              Sep 24, 2017 at 9:25 PM

              How was Stanford’s OL in 2009? I know they went 8-5, but didn’t watch much of them til 2010

              • Painter Smurf
                Comments: 198
                Joined: 8/12/2015
                Painter Smurf
                Sep 24, 2017 at 9:56 PM

                By ’09, Stanford had a line of studs of mixed ages. Martin, Phillips, Beeler, Decastro, and Marinelli. I think three of those guys turned into good pros and the other two still became 1st team all conference types. Decastro and Martin were only second year players, but it was obvious that they had the goods.

              • Comments: 13
                Joined: 11/17/2015
                funkywolve
                Sep 24, 2017 at 10:14 PM

                In 09 Gerhardt had 343 carries for 1871 yds. Not sure if there were a couple games where he racked up huge numbers, but those are pretty good numbers for a season.

                • Comments: 678
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Sep 24, 2017 at 11:10 PM

                  Yeah, I looked it up after asking. That was the breakout year for Toby

    • Comments: 666
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:26 PM

      If he “leaves” it will not be of his own volition. But unless we start seeing some real improvement from the Oline by the end of the year (if not sooner), Harbaugh may have no choice but to replace him. If player development on the Oline is the main thing holding this program back from getting to the next level, he can’t just wait 2-3 more years and cross his fingers.

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 198
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Sep 24, 2017 at 7:33 PM

      Drevno is definitely under pressure from JH and I agree with Thunder that he will not be back next year. Bringing on Frey was a shot across the bow. Don’t let Drevno’s coach-speak about being “freed up to work on other things” fool you. With JH and Pep in house, there are no higher level responsibilities on offense for Drev to shift his focus to.

      Frey was already a highly regarded OL coach and run-game coordinator – he did not come here just to assist Drev with a couple positions. He wants to be part of the three-man inner circle, dialing up run plays. Suspect that JH is starting to see that Frey’s approach of recruiting athletic kids and beefing them up is better than bringing in huge kids and trying to slim them down. Not to mention Frey has historically done more with less than most OL coaches.

      Drev apparently turned down a couple HC opportunities last year at lower levels. I think he will be encouraged to take one this off season.

  20. Comments: 434
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 24, 2017 at 3:54 PM

    In regards to Brown. Nobody is disputing his coaching prowess. Love his aggressive mindset and his system. He is a difference maker. The difference between Brown and Drevno is that Hoke was very good at putting together a talented defensive roster.

    His teams may have been offensively challenged and incompetent but his defense always carried the water. Harbaugh inherited a very talented roster on the defensive side. Brown inherited that talent. Who was the DC the first year of the Harbaugh era, Mattison? Did pretty well if I recall.

    Even with all the defections from last year it’s still a significant Hoke influence on the defense. Hurst, Winovich, Furbush, McCray, Mone, Kinnel, Watson who all make contributions. In fact, I would make the claim that the Hoke players are more important to the success of the team than the new Harbaugh players (Bush/Gary/Hill/Hudson/Long/Metellus).

    Brown is the cherry on top. Probably the sauce too. He has taken the defense and made them elite. He deserves many props. Just not fair to compare the DC to the OC. In fact, what separates the OC and DC is that the offense is predicated on good qb play. It’s much more of a challenge on that side of the ball.

    • Comments: 13
      Joined: 11/17/2015
      funkywolve
      Sep 24, 2017 at 10:18 PM

      Don’t get me wrong, Brown is great but I think we need to start giving some of the position coaches some props as well. It appears to be an incredible staff on the defensive side of the ball. Brown might be dialing up the schemes and adjustments but it’s the position coaches that are fine tuning the techniques.

  21. Lanknows
    Comments: 3460
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 24, 2017 at 5:01 PM

    Thunder is right about not overreacting to the Indiana. Good or bad you never want to read too much into one game.

    This was another where 2/3 of the RBs can’t do anything. A big play redeems the day for overall YPC. Woeful performance against a tomato-can D (#99 D last year). What was the RB YPC save the one big run?

    I see Evans is now “playing well” after he looked slow and fat or whatever a week or 2 ago and Isaac is “not playing well”… Exact same players. These guys don’t change overnight.

    Big picture: Black cloud looms. Closing in. Advanced stats will be woeful for the run game, protection, any way you look at the OL. New QB, same story. 27/27 is on the table. but So is a QB bailing us out. Now at least we feel like there are options.

    • Comments: 2172
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:10 PM

      Who said Evans was fat and slow? And as for Isaac, is it not possible that the guy who left last week’s game with a (probable) rib injury might still be affected by it? Is it not possible that the reason the guy earning 7.1 yards/carry didn’t start is because of that issue?

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 24, 2017 at 5:25 PM

        Roanman

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3460
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 24, 2017 at 5:29 PM

          I think. Somebody on here.

        • Comments: 920
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Sep 24, 2017 at 6:15 PM

          False.

          I said he looked not quick.

          He didn’t, he looked quicker yesterday for sure.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3460
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 25, 2017 at 3:57 AM

            LOL. Must have had an intense week of physical development.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 24, 2017 at 5:28 PM

        It’s possible. It’s not likely. Same guy who hasn’t finished last 2 years in the top 4 of backs.

        Isaac’s fine. Evan’s fine. Higdon’s fine. Pretending like they vacillate between playing well or poorly from game to game is simple-minded.

    • Comments: 666
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:23 PM

      Any time that someone cites a team’s performance from LAST year to make an argument for how we should have done against them THIS year, you know they’re flailing and trying not to admit that Speight is not good and that O’Korn is better.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 25, 2017 at 3:56 AM

        Funny from the guy who can’t let go of recruiting rankings.

        Expected from the guy who thinks he knows better than Harbaugh.

        Laughable from the guy who got all pedantic about Thunder projecting stats from 1 game to the rest of the year. I guess 4 non-conference games is just fine.

        You can toss away info if you want of course.

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:27 PM

      LOL, who needs advanced stats to know the OL is a problem?

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 24, 2017 at 5:31 PM

        Brian Cook?

    • Comments: 678
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:43 PM

      New QB, same story? LOL, wrong again! Who knows how JOK will do when facing a strong D, but we all saw the difference yesterday:
      quicker release;
      finding the open guy;
      more guys involved in the O;
      more velocity;
      ball placement;
      improvisation;
      two 40+ yard drives (longest of the season);
      3for3 in the RZ

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 25, 2017 at 3:54 AM

        Yes your feeling are very important. I acknowledge your emotional reaction to things.

        HOWEVER. Michigan punted the ball 7 times and O’Korn threw an INT. It’s great that Purdue committed a slew of dumb penalties and that , as expected and predicted by “stats guys”, the red zone offense concerns were unwarranted. It’s great that that the passing game was more successful against the worst passing D they’ll see all year.

        Those things made me feel happy too. But the Michigan offense didn’t move the ball any more effectively than the other games.

        • Comments: 678
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Sep 25, 2017 at 9:23 AM

          Three punts with speight
          JOK led two 40+ yard drives
          Cincinnati was awful too, but speight couldn’t get us in the RZ
          Coming off the bench, on the road, JOK could
          The INT bounced off Perry’s chest, and there was other open receiver… That is an outlier
          *my preseason hottake came true, yours was easy off

    • Comments: 20
      Joined: 1/29/2016
      maizinblue88
      Sep 24, 2017 at 5:54 PM

      Michigan State is not nearly good enough to force another 27 for 27 game.

      • Comments: 678
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 24, 2017 at 5:57 PM

        Agree, but Dantonio can game plan
        I would let my DL go 1on1 with UM’s OL, rarely blitzing. JOK has Garnder feet, and might cough it up when all his options are covered

        • Comments: 434
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 24, 2017 at 8:21 PM

          Good point although this would allow the UM running game to possibly get going and play to the defense. That may be a good strategy against JOK.

          I think there will be a feeling out period. Like the entire first half.

        • Comments: 25
          Joined: 8/21/2015
          AA7596
          Sep 24, 2017 at 8:36 PM

          I hear you, but that’s the absolute opposite of what MSU is about. And given that Michigan has had such trouble coping with blitzing, it’s only logical that MSU will test them big-time on that front.

          Fortunately, U-M has an extra week to sort that out.

          • Comments: 13
            Joined: 11/17/2015
            funkywolve
            Sep 24, 2017 at 10:21 PM

            Agree. UM’s oline and backs have been so poor picking up blitzes, why wouldn’t you blitz them? Every game it seems there’s multiple times a blitzer is coming up the middle untouched.

        • GKblue
          Comments: 198
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          GKblue
          Sep 25, 2017 at 6:38 AM

          Dantonio will blitz if it is effective.He will throw everything but the kitchen sink into our backfield to hassle the QB and clog up the running lanes.

          We have to game plan around our deficiencies.Use JOK’s quick pass game, trap and draw, maybe boot and flood with TE . Key is to keep him from panicking in the first place. Make MSU pay for over aggressiveness.

          BTW, has anyone heard of an update on the status of Speight? If he starts against MSU and the wheels come off … yikes.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3460
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 25, 2017 at 3:49 AM

        No – but OSU and Wisc could be. Indiana?

      • Comments: 20
        Joined: 1/29/2016
        maizinblue88
        Sep 27, 2017 at 4:03 PM

        Correction: 27 for 27 game was PSU that year, not MSU. We rushed for negative yards against MSU. Ugh why did I look this up.

  22. Lanknows
    Comments: 3460
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 25, 2017 at 12:19 PM

    didn’t you predict Peters would start?

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