Michigan 31, Indiana 20

Michigan 31, Indiana 20


November 18, 2018

Zach Gentry (image via Arizona Daily Star)

We wanted a win and no injuries! Mission 50% accomplished. As far as the final score, all I really wanted was a Michigan victory to keep the chances of a Big Ten title and the playoffs alive. I know there was some consternation about whether Michigan would win big or not, but it doesn’t really matter at this point. The other part was a little bit harder to accomplish. Berkley Edwards was sent off on a stretcher after being the target of a helmet-to-helmet hit on a kickoff. Indiana’s starting right guard jumped on Chase Winovich as he laid on the ground, resulting in Winovich being sent off for the rest of the game. Edwards is surely in concussion protocol – perhaps among other things – and Jim Harbaugh said that X-rays were negative for Winovich. I would not expect Edwards to return for next Saturday, and it’s unclear whether Winovich will be available next week, or whether he will be hampered by whatever injury he suffered. The Winovich injury would be a huge blow for the Wolverines, as he’s perhaps the team’s most consistent defensive player and the third-leading tackler. Against an Ohio State team that excels at passing the ball, the absence of Winovich could be a game-changer.

So…about Winovich’s injury. I saw a lot of people insinuating that Winovich’s injury was the result of a dirty play and crying foul. Personally, I didn’t see much of an issue with it in the framework of the game of football. That type of play happens frequently, in which a lineman falls on top of a defender who’s already on the ground. As a pass rusher who could very well crawl to grab an ankle of a quarterback, he’s still a threat that needs to be neutralized by the blockers. If Winovich hadn’t been injured, we wouldn’t have heard a peep about the play. If you want the rule changed, lobby the rules committed. As I said on Twitter, this isn’t the UFC where you have to wait until an opponent gets his hand off the ground before you can start kneeing or kicking him; Winovich was fair game as long as he was a potential threat to the ball carrier.

Also, there’s this:

Winovich is a scrappy player who plays with a chip on his shoulder. I’ve been saying this for a few years now, ever since I saw him playing defensive end for the first time at the open practice at Ford Field: He’s the type of guy who’s pretty good, but he’s also going to get under the skin of the guys he plays against. That helps him and gives him a mental edge, but he’s not going to unscathed. You can’t be a pain in the rear for your whole career and not expect any blowback. I’m certainly not saying that I want him to get injured, but when you play that style of football, that’s the risk you run.

The red zone troubles are legit. Michigan’s offense bogged down in the red zone on Saturday afternoon, leading to a school-record 6 field goals for true freshman backup kicker Jake Moody. I had a feeling it was going to be a tough game going into it, because Indiana plays hard against Michigan lately. That feeling was only reinforced by Michigan’s first field goal. The Wolverines should be able to impose their will against an opponent like Indiana, but Michigan’s offensive line isn’t there yet. People keep talking about Michigan’s improved offensive line, but these are mostly the same guys who were playing last year, and the advanced stats don’t show an upper echelon offensive line.

Indiana has Jim Harbaugh’s number. Whether these games take place in Ann Arbor or Bloomington, Indiana seems to have Harbaugh’s number. Michigan has more talent at virtually every position, but the wins aren’t coming like they should. The Hoosiers run the same offensive stuff year after year (spread offense, tempo, inside zone, slot fades, crossing routes, etc.), and they just keep executing well enough to have Michigan scared every year. Meanwhile, Michigan can’t get anything easy on offense and has to fight for every yard and every score. The superior talent for the Wolverines ends up winning out, but Michigan isn’t showing the schematic advantages that one might expect over a lesser program.

Thank goodness for Jake Moody. A lot of people (including me) questioned Michigan’s decision to offer a grayshirt to Moody in the last recruiting cycle, not because of his talent, but because of the presence of two scholarship specialists already (Quinn Nordin, Brad Robbins). But without Moody, this might have been one of the highest profile upsets of the season. He hit field goals of 33, 32, 31, 30, 29, and 23 yards, and he was 6/6.

So close, yet again! Last week I predicted a 45-7 win for Michigan, and they won 42-7. This week I picked Michigan 31-17, and they won 31-20.

15 comments

  1. Comments: 997
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Nov 18, 2018 at 11:53 PM

    Nice call on the prediction

    I was disappointed in the 1st half D, and RZ O, but we won… That said, we can’t rely on FGs in The Game, so let’s unF ourselves and book the trip to Indy!

  2. Comments: 5
    Joined: 9/21/2015
    evey1975
    Nov 18, 2018 at 11:58 PM

    IU has played well against U-M, but context is important. Keep in mind that 3 out of the 4 IU-Harbaugh games have been in mid-November, when big point spreads become harder to cover for a variety of reasons (weather, managing injuries, playing close to the vest ahead of more important games).

    Penn State 20, Rutgers 7 is a perfect example. Play that game a month or two ago and it’s 60-7.

  3. Comments: 15
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Asquaredroot
    Nov 19, 2018 at 1:24 AM

    Thanks for the recap. It brings to mind a few points.

    1st and most important point:
    Please be sure to predict a win over OSU by at LEAST 4 points!
    That way your recent track record of being 3 points optimistic is not a problem.

    2nd: Our offense moved the ball pretty well all day and although we continued to squander scoring opportunities as we have most of the year…
    – it’s Indiana: check the recent track record
    – it’s the week before OSU
    – it was effectively a night game from the 2nd quarter on. Since when have we blown anyone out in a night game? Thank goodness for noon game vs OSU!
    – Despite Shea’s great stats and Gentry’s huge catch radius, Shea was erratic at some inopportune moments and tall folks are better at high balls than low balls.

    Yeah, that might have been too many sub bullets for a the 2nd point.

    3rd: Great news about Moody! We at least seem to have found a reliable kicker for <35 yd FG's. Maybe further? I have no data or rumors regarding Moody's accuracy from further out, but as our KO specialist, he must have decent leg strength.

  4. Comments: 15
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Asquaredroot
    Nov 19, 2018 at 1:30 AM

    woops… Thunder already mentioned both Indiana and Moody success in context. No wonder it brought the points above to mind!

    • Comments: 177
      Joined: 9/3/2015
      suduri xusai
      Nov 19, 2018 at 9:21 AM

      well, I’m glad for the 6/6 FGs but all six of them were short 30-yarders… I think Nordin would’ve made all if not most of them.

      • Comments: 3
        Joined: 7/12/2018
        GoBlue2105
        Nov 19, 2018 at 9:59 AM

        You may be right, but this unit with nordin, for whatever reason has looked shaky at best. Nordins struggles are real. It was nice to see some kicks go through the uprights to create some confidence with this unit.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 2668
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 19, 2018 at 10:11 AM

          I certainly hope I’m wrong, but I’m afraid Nordin has come down with “Steve Blass Disease” and just has no confidence whatsoever in his ability to kick the ball accurately.

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 403
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Nov 19, 2018 at 10:36 AM

            Pitchers, golfers, and field goal kickers … it seems the confidence thing pops up where the mental element is a big part of the role. It probably pops up in basketball at the free throw line as well.

            What’s the fix for that? I would think it’s a combination of going back to basics (in golf, that would be hitting bucket after bucket of balls), and being able to re-enter in a safe, lower-pressure setting.

            Thunder, in your role as coach have you had to work with players affected by this? Any insights into what works and doesn’t for this?

            • Thunder
              Comments: 2668
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Nov 19, 2018 at 8:28 PM

              I’ve never had to deal with a QB or K who lost his accuracy. I have had to deal with a wide receiver who totally lost his ability to catch.
              To be honest with you, I still haven’t figured a way around it. He had some bad performances, the QB stopped throwing to him, and then he started dropping everything in practice, too. Good athlete, big target, but totally lost confidence. We tried having him catch a bunch of balls in pre-practice, we tried boosting his confidence with attaboys, we tried giving him positive matchups against guys he should beat, etc. Other than sending him to a sports psychologist or doing hypnosis, we tried everything we could think of to get him back on the right track.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3932
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 19, 2018 at 11:29 AM

            I had to google Steve Blass. Good to learn. (My go-to reference is Chuck Knoblauagh on the Yankees but Blass predates that.)

            Anyway, I think it’s premature to say that given the 4 games saw him go 18/18 on extra points. FGs are 3/7 in the previous 4 games, so I get it, but keep in mind that 2 of those were 50+ yard attempts. He’s doing reasonably well, even if you set aside that he started the year 8/9 on FGs.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 2668
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Nov 19, 2018 at 11:32 AM

              Knoblauch and Mark Wohlers were the guys who made me learn the Steve Blass story.

              Even some of Nordin’s made field goals recently have looked pretty shaky. He’s not kicking the ball well during this current stretch.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3932
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Nov 19, 2018 at 11:47 AM

                Yes – true. Been some wobble there and Harbaugh seems to be applying “motivational tactics”. We don’t get to see what’s going on in practice. We’ll see…

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3932
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 19, 2018 at 11:18 AM

        Sounds like nobody is buying the Nordin is sick story?

        I agree with Suduri. Those are glorified extra points. Nordin’s 45/46 on XPs.

        Moreover, if Moody’s not there Michigan probably converts at least a couple of those 6 into TDs and still wins the game – maybe by more.

        Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Nordin’s back in for OSU and I certainly hope that any kick over 45 yards is coming from Quinn.

  5. Comments: 57
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    umfarnn
    Nov 19, 2018 at 9:28 AM

    Michigan’s playing not to show anything new and get to OSU healthy feels a lot like playing prevent defense. Instead of building a nice early lead and being able to play lots of backups for the last 20 minutes of the game against a beaten down opponent, they are forced to keep the starters in until the end and expose them to a lot more hits against a team still trying to win.

  6. Lanknows
    Comments: 3932
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 19, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    Interesting take on Winovich. Probably some truth there. Crossing my fingers he’s healthy. Would really like to have Paye rotating in to keep him and Gary fresh. Rather not be reliant on Hutchinson snaps. That all said, OSU should be a game where Uche plays a bigger role regardless.

    I don’t buy the Indiana magic juju. Different coaches, QB injuries, some weather, things happen. With more typical red-zone production Michigan covers the line. Even so this was a double-digit win.

    Probably good for defense to learn some lessons and a dose of humble pie leading up to OSU. Don Brown got a little more to work with this week.

    Tom Allen – what a dip.

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