Michigan 35, Maryland 10

Michigan 35, Maryland 10


November 12, 2017

Zach Gentry (image via WTOP)

That is what we expected. I’ve seen a fair amount of consternation about Michigan “only” winning by 25 points, which I find to be somewhat humorous. I picked a 31-10 win in Friday’s preview, and I saw some other predictions that were in the general vicinity. A 25-point win for the Wolverines isn’t anything to shake a stick at, and yet people were complaining. Michigan went up 28-0 before being outscored 10-7, but that’s a blip. This is a young team at most spots, and expecting them to completely obliterate Maryland seemed like a stretch. This isn’t a team that should be expected to squeeze out a 56-0 win against the Terrapins, who have some talent. One reason is . . .

The injuries are mounting. Michigan is in somewhat of a precarious position going into games against Wisconsin and Ohio State over the next two weeks. Aside from missing a starting LT (Grant Newsome), the starting QB (Wilton Speight), and the #1 WR (Tarik Black) with long-term injuries, the Wolverines were without the starting RG (Mike Onwenu) and a part-time starting RB (Ty Isaac), and in this game, they lost starting RB Karan Higdon, DE Rashan Gary, LB Mike McCray, and CB Lavert Hill for stretches. In the latter stages of this game, Michigan was down 8 players that should be starting (plus Ty Isaac, who was the leading rusher until recently). Every team goes through injuries, but not many teams find a 25-point win disappointing when that many players are injured.

Hit the jump for more.

Brandon Peters complaints go here:

Peters has some things to improve (who doesn’t?), but right now he gives Michigan the best chance to win. He has been avoiding big mistakes, and even when something mildly bad happens, he finds a way to lessen the impact. He scrambled backward at one point and, according to the color commentator, was “lucky the ball wasn’t intercepted.” That was because the ball was thrown 3 yards out of bounds. A near sack also turned into an incompletion when he threw the ball behind Sean McKeon, in a place where either McKeon could catch it or it would fall harmlessly to the turf. John O’Korn would have turned those plays into interceptions. Wilton Speight probably would have been sacked before getting a chance to throw the ball away. Peters didn’t connect with Donovan Peoples-Jones on two deep balls – one was an overthrow, and one was thrown short and turned into a defensive pass interference penalty. He was 9/18 for 145 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers. I’ll take that.

Kareem Walker doesn’t have it yet. With as much as Michigan rotates running backs, it would be great to get Ty Isaac back and push Walker back to the bench. Walker mostly played after the game was decided, so it’s probably good to get him experience in that situation, but he runs like a very young player. He ran backward at one point before slipping and falling for a 3-yard loss, and he doesn’t keep his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. He finished with 7 carries for 23 yards, while the top two guys averaged 5.2 yards/carry.

Complaints about “checkdowns.” Michigan’s wide receivers only caught 1 pass for 3 yards on Saturday afternoon, and people keep talking about throws to the tight ends being “checkdowns.” In the grand scheme of things, yeah, they’re probably checkdowns. But with where Michigan is right now with its talent and experience, they’re not checkdowns. Slot receiver Grant Perry and tight ends Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry are the three best receiving options on this team right now, and I have no problem with Peters throwing to those guys. McKeon has been extremely reliable, and Gentry led the team in receiving (3 catches, 63 yards, 1 TD). Peoples-Jones is an inconsistent route runner, and the referees missed two pass interference calls against Maryland (on Peoples-Jones and Perry) early in the game. There are certain factors coming into play with the lack of catches for wideouts, but ultimately, there are good reasons for McKeon and Gentry to be seeing so many targets.

I still don’t like Gentry as a blocker, though. Yikes. He makes an okay block here or there, but he’s Michigan’s worst blocking tight end since a clueless A.J. Williams somehow saw the field as a young guy for Brady Hoke. (Note: Williams somewhat figured things out by his senior year.)

Michigan chose to be very vanilla against Maryland. Michigan probably came into this game thinking they didn’t have to be very tricky to beat the Terps, and they were right. The game script probably caused them to dial things back, too. Michigan didn’t try much in the way of counters, screens, trick plays, etc., and for good reason. Hopefully some extra flavor comes out against Wisconsin next week, because Michigan is going to need it.

Mental lapses on defense. Defensively, in the second half, I think Michigan just lost its edge. That type of thing is bound to happen with a lot of teams, especially with young players. The Terps didn’t find any magical plays written on the chalkboard in the locker room at halftime. Those plays and concepts had been attempted and had failed in the first half. It’s just that Maryland kept fighting, and several Michigan guys lost their fire. It shouldn’t be ignored that Maryland has considerable talent at the skill positions. I would be happy to have D.J. Moore, Taivon Jacobs, Ty Johnson, and/or Lorenzo Harrison at Michigan.

What does it mean for next week? Michigan needs to get healthy quick in order to win against the Badgers next week. I don’t think Michigan can win without the top two running backs, without Gary, without Onwenu, etc. Wisconsin already clinched the Big Ten West, but right now they’re playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff, because if they lose even one game, they’re probably out of it. I already pegged next week as a loss for Michigan, but the Wolverines have a shot if some of yesterday’s missing players come back.

50 comments

  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 337
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:11 AM

    A win is a good thing, and while not a complete deconstruction of the opponent (like 2016 Rutgers was), it had its good qualities.

    Michigan is not likely to be in the B1G championship conversation, nor the national championship discussion. So now it’s about improvement with an eye on the future. Are you seeing things that when taken in total point to a generally upwards trend line?

    • Comments: 2223
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 12, 2017 at 8:16 PM

      Maryland is better than Rutgers was in 2016, and Michigan is worse.

      I do see a lot of positives, especially with the offensive line in run blocking. I think the team is “ascending” but it’s going to have limitations. I don’t think the line is going to be great in pass pro, I don’t think the receivers are going to get appreciably better, etc.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 337
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Nov 13, 2017 at 8:04 AM

        >> “I don’t think the receivers are going to get appreciably better”

        This year? Or ever? Because they were supposed to be a shining star in the recruiting take. If it turns out they just don’t have what it takes to be good receivers, then it’s a big red warning sign about talent rating and talent appraisal.

        • Comments: 2223
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 13, 2017 at 8:23 AM

          I’m just talking about this year. They only have two games (and a bowl game) left, and they’re not going to be difference-makers by the Ohio State game.

  2. Comments: 948
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:13 AM

    If you haven’t been to Camp Randall for a football game, put it on our bucket list … near the top. It’s a rocking time and a very difficult environment to go win in. Having said that, I’m feeling a good deal less pessimistic about this game than I was feeling in August for the following reasons.

    I know, Iowa hung 50-whatever on OSU and then got smothered against the Badgers, but they are still Iowa on offense, which is to say, remarkable unimaginative on offense. Wisconsin has a very nice and active defense but, my goodness that was a for doo-doo offensive game plan on the part of Ferentz, even by Kirk Ferentz very high standard for, for doc-doo offense. Iowa blew their entire wad against the Buckeyes in every facet, offensive, defensive, physical, mental, spiritual, pick your category. Really, much like they did on us last year. They showed up in Madison with nothing.

    Alex Hornibrook doesn’t look like a big time QB to me. He has been throwing way more than his share of picks, especially lately. Maybe he comes out with a stud performance on us, and without Hill, Gary and McCray he’s certainly better off in that pursuit than if those guys are on the field and healthy, but I don’t much believe it at this sitting. if we have our guys on the field and get his feet moving …

    The injuries are indeed a thing. I know, I know, everybody has injuries, part of football, just look at the Badgers, they lost all their LBs this season. But … they lost all their LBs in August, we’re down guys in November.

    Still, this game can be won. I don’t think either the Badgers or the Buckeyes are all that studly this year.

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 337
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Nov 12, 2017 at 8:23 AM

      It’s going to require a pretty mistake-free game to win. It would help if Wisconsin contributed by making a few mistakes themselves. But agree: can be won. Here’s hoping they do.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:26 PM

      Game will be won or lost on if Michigan’s run game is for real. If they drop to below 4 ypc for the backs it’s probably not going to be in the cards. If they can move the ball consistently on the ground that will set up Peters to be successful, keep the D off the field, etc.

      Games against Indiana and PSU seem like the turning points for the M ground game this year. Higdon ran for 200 against Indiana and the RBs actually did OK against PSU (just about 4ypc). If they revert to earlier season form Michigan will lose.

      Of course they need Gary to win also. The D has been remarkably consistent against everyone save PSU this year. Wisconsin isn’t near that level offensively.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:34 PM

      You made the audacious claim that Lewerke is better than Barrett, so I’m going to take your QB judgements with a grain of salt (like Thunder’s RB judgements). BUT…

      It should be noted that advanced stats are on your side with Lewerke. He’s not on Barrett’s level of production but he is #3 in the Big Ten in adjusted QBR, barely trailing McSorely.

      Conventional stats (completion %, YPA) lean to saying Hornibrook is better, but advanced stats favor Lewerke.

      http://www.espn.com/ncf/qbr/_/group/5

  3. GKblue
    Comments: 218
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Nov 12, 2017 at 8:22 AM

    I am satisfied with this win.

    Peters continues to impress and I have zero problems with a guy who can use the TEs in the passing game. Most folks have been screaming that they were underutilized earlier in the season. He continues to play smart and w/o turnovers(fingers crossed).

    I think folks complain against the predictability of the conservative bent of the offensive play calling (excepting of course monsoon pass logic). The run/pass mix wasn’t up to the expectations of some. I didn’t against Maryland except for a few lateral run calls that didn’t go anywhere.

    I think folks complain when the defense seems to lose focus especially against a fourth string QB. We have come to have very high expectations of a still young unit.

    Most of us realize that the injuries are mounting and that our depth just isn’t quite there. Against Wisc and OSU we have to play under control at all times and not let fatigue or emotion carry the game away from us.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:46 PM

      Good thoughts and you’re right about people calling for passing more to the TEs. It’s a good thing.

      This conservative pass game is the recipe. Maybe it was always the recipe.

      Remember back in the offseason when we were talking about rumors of a spread-passing attack to take advantage of our veteran QB and plentiful WR talent. 180. The WRs aren’t as good, the QBs not as good, and the OL is even worse than expected.

      But maybe they can Stanford (pre-Luck version) their way to some Ws.

  4. Comments: 673
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Nov 12, 2017 at 9:24 AM

    Peters is what he is, and it’s not a knock on how well he’s played, but the reality in college football nowadays is that to win tough games, beat really strong teams, especially on the road, your QB either has to be a genuine threat to run (not just scramble when he has to) or a really elite passer. Peters is neither of those. Despite the reminiscences of some of the fan base, this is not 1997. You just don’t win championships these days with a “game manager” and a stout defense, unless maybe you’re an Alabama, with multiple 5 stars at every position on the field.

    We probably need to resign ourselves to an 8-4 finish, with losses (at home) to our two biggest rivals, and another middle of the pack division finish. We just don’t have anything to win those last two games with.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:04 PM

      I don’t necessarily disagree with your comments but I have just a slightly different view. I believe you can win with a game manager. Somebody who moves the chains and dumps it off to the TE’s and an occasional big pass. A very good defense. That being said, the only way that works is when you have a really good run game and you can run 70% of the time. Also need very good ST’s. See Harbaugh and Nordin.

      It can happen and I am starting to believe that Harbaugh is gradually phasing UM into that system (see above). I have been waiting for this Stanford type system and it looks like it’s finally coming into fruition albeit against the weak sisters of the conference.

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 12, 2017 at 12:06 PM

        One last thing. I do believe Harbaugh would be more receptive to passing the ball in certain situations but take a lock at the tackles and pass pro. It’s bad. If life gives you lemons…

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:47 PM

      You can resign yourself. I’m going to hope, watch, and cheer.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 1:09 PM

      There’s many examples of non-running/non-elite QBs beating really strong teams just this year. Iowa over OSU and Stanford over Wash just last week). LSU beat Auburn with Danny Etling at QB. ISU beat Oklahoma. On and on.

      Win a championship? That’s a very high bar. You gotta be great at something or really good at everything. OK. Beat some good teams? Anybody can do that with a few breaks.

      If Michigan has another top 5 D like they had last year and if the run game asserts itself into a top 10 unit in success rate (like it’s looked the second half of this season), a game manager is all Michigan will need to be a national title contender. With a 5th year version of Speight, a junior version of Peters and a sophomore up-and-comer in McCaffrey Michigan could be very well positioned to prove you wrong.

      Ah but that about that OL…

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 12, 2017 at 5:07 PM

        Assume a very good run game and a decent pass protecting OL, is Speight the guy who can be a good game manager? I don’t know and this where we disagree. Just look at Peters yesterday. He made some nice plays (Higdon). Now, Speight can but his lack of accuracy really concerns me.

        If he could throw an accurate ball but he can’t. He has way too man liabilities. You see him as potentially a senior level Griese but I see him as a senior level Navarre who needs higher level weaker opponents to succeed. It could be a down year next year.

        Last question for LK. As it stands right now, who do you think wins the job between Peters and Speight for next year? I think it’s going to be close especially with Harbaugh making the decision.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 12, 2017 at 5:58 PM

          Speight vs Maryland last year:19/24, 362 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints.
          Peters vs Maryland last year:9/18, 145 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Ints.

          Speight had better protection and better receivers to be sure, but Michigan appears to be afraid of letting Peters throw downfield.

          I think that answers your question.

          Speight should be seen as the starter until somebody beats him out. There will be ‘competition’ in spring and fall camp. Like always.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM

          Would be good if it was close. Would be great if Peters was better. That’s the best case scenario for M – that Peters is ascending to excellence.

          Haven’t seen anything close yet. Wisc and OSU will offer a chance but don’t expect a 300 yard day.

  5. Comments: 19
    Joined: 9/18/2016
    Chowman
    Nov 12, 2017 at 9:26 AM

    I normally think your synopsis is spot on but today I think you’re letting this coaching staff off the hook a bit. While UoM was on the cupcake tour the last 3 games expected JH and the offensive coaches to have worked more to develop Peters in the passing game. I realize much of this has been hampered by the lack of progression in the OL pass protection. I know its early and he’s a true freshman but man Ruiz is giving me bad flash backs of Kyle Kalis. Completely missing assignments and seeing him chase his man from behind as the defender is getting a bead on our QB. Again he’s young, but I can’t help but focus on #51 especially on passing downs going forward. I’m more than a bit concerned that this staff has yet to show they can develop in an adequate OL, let alone a good one.

    Getting back to the staff I just thought more play action on 1st down, even after we were up 28-0. Yeah Jim doesn’t want to run up DJ, but he also needs to get BP in a better position to be ready for WI and OSU. Two teams that I just don’t see us running the ball down their throats! I do give them kudos for getting the RBs involved in the screen game.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 12, 2017 at 11:50 AM

      Yes. Great line. The cupcake schedule. I thought it was another solid win. Very good first half. I was wrong about my prediction. Maryland isn’t very good. I thought they would come out with more intensity but UM just had more horses than Maryland.

      Hopefully UM is healthy against Maryland. They are going to need Hill and Higdon. Not to be a Debbie downer but I don’t think UM wins this game. I like their chances more at home against OSU. All that being said, UM is getting better. The staff called a very good game yesterday especially in the first half. I just want to see it against Wisconsin. I see Wisconsin as beatable but as the previous post said, the cupcake schedule has passed and now they get a tough cookie on the road.

  6. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 191
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    crazyjoedavola
    Nov 12, 2017 at 10:07 AM

    I’ll disagree with you on Walker, he did not have a good game against Maryland, but he is showing good combination of speed, vision and power. I don’t think he is on Isaac’s or Higdon’s level yet, but he shouldn’t be buried on the bench either. Next year I see him replacing Isaac in the rotation.

    As for the team, I think both Wisconsin and Ohio St will hang a big number on this defense and both those games are losses. The bowl game could be a win though, and if we can develop a QB and a couple of receivers, next year should be a step forward.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 12, 2017 at 11:56 AM

      Unfortunately, I agree. It’s going to take a special performance and some breaks in the game to sneak out a win. I would be ecstatic for ONE win out of the two upcoming games. This team can do it but unlike the past few games, UM is probably going to have to come back from behind.

      • Comments: 725
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Nov 12, 2017 at 2:32 PM

        Yeah, who wouldn’t!
        ” I would be ecstatic for ONE win out of the two upcoming games”

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 12, 2017 at 4:12 PM

          I can think of one person…

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 12, 2017 at 12:51 PM

      Walker’s in the same class as Evans and just a year behind Higdon. I don’t see any reason to think he’ll develop faster than they will.

      I agree Walker’s running well. He’s a serviceable player. He seems like a favorite to be the 3rd string back next year though there will be a new crop of freshman trying to take his spot.

      • crazyjoedavola
        Comments: 191
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        crazyjoedavola
        Nov 12, 2017 at 3:03 PM

        I think that Walker has a higher potential than Evans, I am just not sure about his pass catching or pass protection ability. I think that he does have better vision, power, and even speed than Evans. He just needs more reps to get up to speed and gel with the O-line.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 12, 2017 at 4:12 PM

          I like Evans a lot more than you do. I think he has more talent and upside than any RB we’ve had since…at least Toussaint, probably back to Hart, maybe farther back.

          Given Evan’s lack of RB experience in high school, I see him as having the most room for improvement.The playmaking in the open field was already evident last year. This year, he looks a lot better between the tackles. Showing off both the last couple games, with big results.

          I’m looking for continued improvement and hopeful for a huge senior year where he puts it all together a la Chris Perry.

          • Comments: 502
            Joined: 9/13/2015
            michymich
            Nov 12, 2017 at 7:55 PM

            I like Evans but he needs holes more so than a guy who can grind. He is a very good change of pace back. I don’t think he is as good as Higdon but he is more elusive. He is a tweener. Slot wr/rb combo.

            Good change up back. 3rd down guy but not Chris Perry who could grind yards. UM better have Higdon next week or it’s going to be a really long day.

            Your team is Speight/Evans. Mine is Peters/Higdon for 2018.

            Question for LK. Do you think Harbaugh actually has the guts to go with a younger qb next year or does Peters definitively have to beat out Speight? Something tells me Harbaugh has a soft spot for Speight and unless Peters shows something this year that he is a star in the making then it’s back to Speight.

            What I am saying is that Peters has to show Harbaugh that he can lead this team to a victory or play well in order to get Harbaugh to make a switch. WE may know who starts next year by who plays in the bowl game.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Nov 12, 2017 at 9:21 PM

              I think Higdon is better right now and will be next year. I’m talking about upside/ceiling. Peters has that over Speight.

              I don’t really get the question about QB – the best guy will play. If you are saying Harbaugh will play a vet over a better player for whatever reasons, I’ve heard that crap before. That’s what people said about Hoke and Bolden, Rodriguez and Vincent Smith. New staff came and made the same choices. I think it’s a dumb argument, if that’s what you are saying.

              I doubt Speight is healthy enough to play this season but I think it’s wise to put the idea out there that he might to keep the opposition guessing and to protect Peters to every extent possible.

    • Comments: 2223
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 12, 2017 at 8:21 PM

      I don’t think you’re really disagreeing with me. Walker didn’t have a good game, and that’s my point. He’s not to the point where he can consistently be good. He has some skills, and that’s good for the future. Right now I don’t think he’s “prime time” quality.

      • Comments: 502
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Nov 12, 2017 at 9:21 PM

        I like Walker but it’s nice he has time to develop. See Higdon. Want Isaac back and like him as a backup breather to Higdon and get Evans some carries if UM is controlling the los.

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 12, 2017 at 12:10 PM

    A short recap finds time to mention Ty Isaac 3 times – in a game he didn’t play in. Things are getting clinical around here when you can’t even wait for the “lets see more of this guy” post.

    Isaac wasn’t missed. To put it bluntly – The Michigan run game is better off without him. Things have taken off since he went down. This is just a fact. Isaac should repeat this season his fade to irrelevance from the last 2 years.

    Kareem Walker is showing enough promise to take his 3rd string carries and build for next year. He’s not as good yet (maybe – his fumble didn’t turn the MSU game and he hasn’t gotten QBs sacked repeatedly), but our best 2 backs (Higdon and Evans) should get the ball vs Wisc and OSU anyway.

    Thanks for your contributions Ty Isaac. We’ll always have the Florida game to remember fondly. I fawned praise on Isaac after the Florida game – he finally did something against legit competition. Turns out Florida is the #83 D (per S&P).

    The injury news didn’t even mention Crawford (out) or Perry (back but limited), so that’s our 3 top WRs heading into the season that are banged up. No coincidence that the WRs are getting marginalized. 1 catch yesterday. Backs and TEs had the other 8.

    AJ Williams graded out pretty well as a blocker by his senior year. He was forced into action under Hoke because Rodriguez didn’t recruit TEs. The real issue was Funk didn’t develop blockers.

    Agree about all the rest. This was a dominant win and all you can really ask for. Training wheels are still on for Peters and I think they should be. Wisc and OSU will tell us a lot more about him and the OL.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 12, 2017 at 5:11 PM

      Tell me about how the below comment applies to Florida and Speight. If I recall correctly you said this wasn’t a bad performance for Speight because if you take the two pick 6’s out of the equation it was a solid performance.

      Thanks for your contributions Ty Isaac. We’ll always have the Florida game to remember fondly. I fawned praise on Isaac after the Florida game – he finally did something against legit competition. Turns out Florida is the #83 D (per S&P).

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 12, 2017 at 6:04 PM

        All offensive production against Florida gets discounted relative to early season reactions.

        It means that the excuse for Speight playing poorly against a “elite D” wasn’t a very good one. Especially since he followed it up with 2 more bad games. Speight did not play well this year. Neither did his backup. We’ll see about the 3rd string kid…

    • Comments: 2223
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Nov 12, 2017 at 8:34 PM

      As I’ve said before, you go out of your way to say bad things about Isaac. The offensive line is finally getting things together – something you’ve admitted – and yet you’re hoping the guy who’s averaging 6.23 yards/carry gets marginalized in favor of the guy who’s averaging 5.47, even though Isaac hasn’t had the benefit of playing the last 2 weeks.

      Me? I’m just hoping our leading rusher until a couple weeks ago returns to health, and I hope our fourth-stringer plays less. That doesn’t seem like an idea that’s coming completely out of left field.

      I’ll take your evaluations of defenses with a grain of salt. You fawned over Florida (#83 in S&P) and you called Purdue a “tomato can D” (#30 in S&P).

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 12, 2017 at 10:09 PM

        My criticism’s of Isaac are direct response to your unabashed favoritism. You’ve overrated the guy at every opportunity, game in and game out, year in and year out. Even when he doesn’t play. Even when he isn’t eligible! (Going back to a countdown a few years back.)

        Isaac isn’t our leading rusher anymore because he lost the starting job. He got demoted. Like he got demoted in 2015 and 2016. Higdon and Evans passed him last year. The year before that he got passed by Derrick Green, a 2-star RB, and a FB! The guy you bashed again and again for not having enough speed – Deveon Smith – Isaac never passed him, or even came close. This is just facts – history at this point – like the improved run game the last 2 weeks since he went out.

        You’re happy to claim Speight would be getting sacked behind this OL but Peters isn’t. But Isaac “doesn’t get the benefit” of playing in these games. You see the double standard? Hypothetically, in your mind, one injured player would be crushing it, the other would suck. Who is going out of their way here?

        Purdue is the #96 passing defense. O’Korn bombed them and I pointed out that it was fool’s gold. Was I wrong? Purdue’s the #7 rush defense which I didn’t give them credit for (nor did anyone else) – maybe that’s why your boy averaged 2 ypc against them the week before he cost Michigan the MSU game. Except Higdon and Evans were significantly better…

        Your excuse for Isaac then was that he was still recovering from injury. Well guess what he’ll be doing against Wisc and OSU if he is even healthy enough to play?

        Here are Isaacs carries in the first half of the season vs the second half of the season by year:
        2015: 28 -> 2
        2016: 53 -> 21
        2017: 68 -> 20 (with 2 games left)

        Looks like a bit of trend. I thought you said things were different now that his meanie-pants RB coach was gone?

        —————————–

        I have nothing against Isaac. I wish him nothing but the best on the field and in life. I think he’s a totally adequate backup college RB. Just don’t ask him to block or hold on to the football.

        Your continued insistence on imaging that Isaac is a difference-maker is pathological at this point. You’ve even suggested the team change their playcalling to suit his oh so special talent – a guy who lost his job to a 2-star, a FB, and can’t beat out the slowest RB in the history of Michigan football.

        So yeah, I think we’ll do fine with Higdon and Evans continuing to get the ball and Kareem Walker picking up whatever extra carries are needed beyond that.

        • Comments: 2223
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Nov 13, 2017 at 7:32 AM

          Got it. So if I say something you disagree with, you’ll go to the opposite end of the spectrum just to be contrarian and disagreeable. I’ll remember that the next time a disagreement pops up.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Nov 13, 2017 at 10:51 AM

            I don’t habitually bring up Isaac negatively without any reason, nor do I call for him to play less when he does well. That would be the opposite end of the spectrum.

            • Comments: 2223
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Nov 13, 2017 at 5:58 PM

              I mean, he’s run 27 times for 183 yards and 1 touchdown in his last three games, and you just got done calling for him to fade into obscurity. So yeah, you do call for him to play less when he does well.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Nov 13, 2017 at 7:40 PM

              LOL. He’s hurt!!! You can’t play well if you don’t play.

              Anyway, doing well is relative. If we’re comparing stats since PSU, Evans has run 45/322 7.2 ypc and Higdon 84/653 7.7 ypc. So even with cherry-picking there are better options.

              Generally substitutions tighten up in big games and Michigan should lean on it’s top players more heavily.

              Also, dude’s fumble against MSU changed the complexion of the season. After getting benched for fumbling in 2015, after yet another injury, the risks outweigh whatever rewards you want to imagine.

              • Comments: 948
                Joined: 8/13/2015
                Roanman
                Nov 14, 2017 at 7:31 AM

                You deliberately miss the point. In the last three games he’s played, 27 carries, 183 yards and a TD. And yet, regardless of health, you want to move his carries to other backs.

                Then, having noted improved offensive line play of late for Peter’s relative success as compared to Speight and O’Korn, you fail to acknowledge that success when it comes to the running game. This is particularly selective on your part when it is widely agreed that the most improvement from the offensive line has come on their run blocking.

                To summarize,you say that Peter’s is better because pass blocking is improved. Isaac isn’t good because Higdon and Evans have put up better numbers lately.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Nov 14, 2017 at 11:33 AM

                Uh, are you talking to Thunder? I don’t want to change anything. I’m 100% behind the Higdon/Evans rotation without Isaac. Thunder wants the change.

                Thunder claimed Speight would be taking sacks (where Peters isn’t) behind this OL and that Isaac is missing opportunities. That’s inconsistent. That’s what I’m responding to.

                You’re picking the last 3 games for a guy with a multi-year track record. OK fine. Compare that to the last 3 games for Higdon and Evans. Isaac isn’t as good. I went by Thunder’s sample. Now I’m going by yours.

                We can keep remixing the stats all day. Eventually you’ll find a sample size that fits the forced narrative.

                The facts are the facts and there’s a multi-year history here with Isaac. Thunder always thinks Isaac is playing well, even when he isn’t playing. There’s always an excuse ready. The coach doesn’t like him. He’s hurt. He’s still recovering. He can’t block (as if that doesn’t count). On and on.

                Production tells the story, stats tell the story, playing time tells the story. Everything else is a theory. In the case of Isaac – an increasingly absurd one.

                Isaac’s like Morris. Walker’s tracking the same way. People get stuck on recruiting rankings and “see things” that aren’t there. Some people are STILL keeping a close eye on Shane Morris, who just needed a chance.

                Isaac should get the ball too I’m told, even though he lost the MSU game, even though he was benched for fumbles in 2015, even though he couldn’t beat out Deveon Smith 2 years in a row, even though Higdon has passed him 2 years in a row, even though Chris Evans passed him last year (and probably this year 2). Let’s ignore all that and point to 20 some carries over 3 games and say he deserves the ball because he’s playing well. OK.

                Isaac is injured. According to Thunder he has struggled when returning from injury before. The team is doing better without him. There are younger options that have repeatedly beaten him out.

                Say whatever you want. The mountain of evidence is against you.

                • Comments: 2223
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Nov 14, 2017 at 4:20 PM

                  Again, this is a mischaracterization of what I actually said. I didn’t say Isaac should take snaps away from Higdon/Evans – I said I wanted Isaac to push Walker to the bench. I didn’t say Speight would be taking sacks – I said that on one specific play, Speight and O’Korn probably would not have been able to make the play that Peters did.

                  This is you going on a rant for no particular reason, except you want to rehash old arguments.

                • Comments: 948
                  Joined: 8/13/2015
                  Roanman
                  Nov 14, 2017 at 6:35 PM

                  No, the mountain of stuff you dream up is stacked against me.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3600
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Nov 15, 2017 at 1:16 AM

                  The relationship between Isaac carries and Walker carries is hard to see. Walker had 6 carries against Rutgers (with Isaac) and 7 carries against Maryland (without Isaac). As you said yourself, most came after the game was decided.

                  Walker hasn’t had many meaningful carries all year (there was that 1 against Indiana). His role for OSU & Wisconsin is likely minimal.

                  So, when you mention Isaac 3 times I did make a logical leap that we are talking about something more than the 1 or 2 carries walker might see against OSU/Wisc. I assumed you meant Isaac’s return (as the leading rusher not so long ago) means taking from Higdon/Evans.

                  You are saying that’s incorrect (a mischaracterization), but if so you would seem to be talking about 1 or 2 carries in those games. Why even bother mentioning it?

                  I give you more credit than assuming you were simply talking about something so trivial.

                  I claimed you went to great lengths to bring up Isaac without any good reason and I think the above supports that.

                  Isaac is mentioned 3 times in a post game recap of a game he didn’t play in because he’s going to take over the 4th string RBs barely existent workload?

                • Comments: 2223
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Nov 15, 2017 at 11:23 AM

                  Well, champ, in pretty much every game this year, Michigan has rotated three running backs. It’s been Evans, Higdon, and Isaac rotating, and Walker became the third rotation guy against Maryland since Isaac was out. Against Minnesota it was just Higdon and Evans.

                  So I said that I hope Isaac comes back and pushes Walker out of the rotation. So you assumed something that was wrong. You’re wrong. I’m sorry you’re having a hard time accepting the fact that you’re wrong, but it is indeed a fact.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3600
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Nov 15, 2017 at 1:17 AM

                  My rants are in response to the above plus your claim that I bashed him when he was playing well.

                  To play well you first have to play.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Nov 14, 2017 at 12:23 PM

                In his last 3 games Speight completed 59% of passes (33/56 for 400 yards) and 7.1 ypa, 2 TDs and 0 Ints. Michigan was 3-0. Very good game manager, playing well.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 12, 2017 at 10:17 PM

        But just for the record I agree that Isaac would have done well against Purdue or Minnesota. As I said many times before, he’s the kind of back who needs excellent blocking. Excellent blocking will help any back look better, but more true for guys like Evans and Isaac than grinders like Deveon Smith or Mike Hart who make their own yards.

        I think all of our backs are fine, none are special. It’s an indictment of Evans and Higdon that it took so long for them to take Isaac’s carries while Smith did it right away. Evans could get there (difference-maker) but I think it’s going to be a process with him. Higdon’s just a good solid all-around back, who I like very much but we know what we have. Isaac’s probably better with the ball in his hands than Walker right now, but I wouldn’t trust him against OSU or Wisc unless the game is out of hand. At that point you might as well see what Walker gives you.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Nov 14, 2017 at 11:37 AM

          I’ve been giddy with the OL run blocking lately. I’m well aware and have been vocal about it. Every countdown I talk about the OL being underrated. Every season I talk about RBs being overrated in importance. Every season I harp on OL importance. I argue we should have 20+ scholarship devoted to it.

          It’s all about the OL. The RBs are a secondary issue, but to the extent that there is differentiation among them, Higdon and Evans are better options than Isaac for a host of reasons. We can keep inventing ideas and schemes where his talents can be maximized and his limitations minimized but at some point you stop fantasizing and realizing that drawing up special plays for a 3rd string RB at best isn’t worthwhile. We’re not talking about Denard or Jabril or Jourdan Lewis or even Eddie McDoom.

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