Michigan 36, Cincinnati 14

Michigan 36, Cincinnati 14


September 10, 2017

Ty Isaac (image via USA Today)

The elephant in the room . . . could probably throw a football just as well as Wilton Speight. I kid, I kid, but those expecting a significantly better game against the lowly Cincinnati Bearcats should have been disappointed. Speight was 17/29 for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, but there were a lot of bad misses, usually in the form of overthrows. Perhaps worse than the overthrows were the two fumbles, one when Speight mishandled a handoff to Ty Isaac and another when there was a botched jet sweep handoff to Kekoa Crawford. The handoff to Isaac was 100% on Speight, and the timing/mechanics of the Crawford handoff seemed to be off, though Crawford might deserve some blame there, too. Either way, the quarterback play wasn’t stellar. He did hit a long TD to Crawford and then hit Grant Perry over the middle for a 33-yard touchdown catch-and-run, but his footwork and mechanics on short and intermediate throws are all out of whack. How much can that be improved when the guy is an old redshirt junior in his third year in the system?

Hit the jump for more on Saturday’s win.

I got tired of hyping him up, so now he’s breaking out. Ty Isaac got the start in this one, and he generally looked good. He finished with 20 carries for 133 yards. He now has two 100-yard games this season, and he has 31 carries for 247 yards (8.0 YPC) on the year. The most interesting thing is Isaac’s complete dominance of the carries. Chris Evans (5 carries for 15 yards) and Karan Higdon (4 carries for 13 yards) were both available, but for whatever reasons, they didn’t get the same number of chances. Isaac had more rushing yards than Evans in week one despite getting half as many carries (22 to 11). What is going on with the running back situation?

Tyree Kinnel looks like the real deal. Kinnel made 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception that he returned 28 yards for a touchdown. It wasn’t a great interception – it was a poorly thrown football – but Kinnel seems to be in the right place consistently.

No one is laughing at Mike Boone right now. I heard a lot of guffaws when Cincinnati running back Mike Boone said he believed the Bearcats could shock the world by going into Michigan Stadium and beating the Wolverines. Michigan fans have embarrassingly short memories, and anyone who was laughing hopefully realizes how this could have gone the other way. This game was 17-14 in the third quarter, and Michigan was playing a mistake-filled game with overthrows, fumbles, poor punt return awareness, blown assignments in the running game, etc. Cincinnati also missed some opportunities for big plays in the passing game, overthrowing or dropping a couple sure touchdowns. The Bearcats didn’t play a great game, and they were still in it late.

We are laughing at Luke Fickell, though. That dude has no idea about clock management, game management, etc. As a coach, you shouldn’t be consistently hurting your team with indecision. And yet Fickell never once looked concerned about his lack of awareness.

Donovan Peoples…no! Grant Perry replaced Donovan Peoples-Jones as the punt returner in this one, and for good reason. Peoples-Jones was indecisive on whether to catch punts or alert his teammates to get away from the ball. That led to a turnover when a punt hit Benjamin St-Juste in the leg, and it almost led to another one. This isn’t high school anymore, and it’s the reason that coaches often don’t trust freshmen to catch punts.

It’s a good thing the defense scores points, because the offense sure doesn’t do it very much. Through two games, Michigan’s offense has scored 4 touchdowns, and the defense has scored 3. The Wolverines have to settle for field goals too often. This will likely be a problem against a team capable of mustering any offense.

Michael Onwenu has some work to do. I noticed several issues with Onwenu in both the run and the pass game, and some of it stems from him simply not moving his feet. This was one of my concerns with him playing offensive line instead of nose tackle, and while it can be coached out of him, it’s a problem right now.

It was a catch. Grant Perry’s catch was clearly a catch, except the referees were wrong and then wrong again. It’s frustrating when the instant replay officials are inept.

Redshirt burner. Several more freshmen played for the first time this week. Here are the guys who have yet to play:

  • Jordan Anthony
  • Nico Collins
  • Chuck Filiaga
  • Ja’Raymond Hall
  • Joel Honigford
  • James Hudson
  • Deron Irving-Bey
  • Donovan Jeter
  • Oliver Martin
  • Dylan McCaffrey
  • Phillip Paea
  • Brad Robbins
  • Drew Singleton
  • Kurt Taylor

Do we adjust our projections for this season? I think this team is going to end up anywhere from 8-4 to 10-2 this year. I said 9-3 earlier in the year, and then I bumped it up to 10-2 in my “official” pre-season projection. If the Wolverines don’t get more consistent play from the QB position, I don’t think Michigan hits 10-2.

130 comments

  1. GKblue
    Comments: 175
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    GKblue
    Sep 10, 2017 at 10:45 AM

    Looks like we watched the same game, good write-up.

    I was one of those disappointed in Speight.Timing, overthrows and poor handling of the ball should mostly be in his rear view mirror by now, he is pressing big time IMHO.

    Perry is a baller and Isaac finally seems to be fulling engaged and contributing. There were a lot of freshman and rookie mistakes out there on offense and special teams. With our weight advantage we should have been able to run inside better.

    I saw some real hustle again on defense and this week Kinnel gets to join the dude club. On the other hand I saw some inability to shrug off blocks in the flats so I’m glad Cinci didn’t have the athletes to push us. And Fickell reminds me of Adam Sandler only not as funny.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 10, 2017 at 12:11 PM

      Perry looked excellent again. He’s our best WR.

  2. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:16 AM

    Good recap.

    Not going to lie – I was disappointed in Speights performance. He had a better game statistically and didn’t throw an INT, but the accuracy issues can’t be excused by quality of opponent this time. My expectations for the season are incremented downward. My hopes for Speight to hit his ceiling are significantly diminished.

    People thinking this is a big problem – or even THE big problem – for this team are not being rational IMO. Am I alone in thinking that analysis of football is devolving towards oversimplified QB = Team? Anyway…

    Both fumbles were on Speight 100%, IMO. I’m not worried about them though – there’s no history of handoff exchanges being a problem. Stuff happens. Glad it happened against a cupcake not someone else.

    Big picture: I think you’re seeing the preseason expectation looking dead-on (9-3). Whitewashing Florida may have bubbled hopes upward. This game squashes most of that to the edges. Michigan still can win it’s big games against UW, PSU, and OSU — but it’s probably going to need a whole lot of luck to win them all. I think the bigger reality check is that we can’t sleep on somebody like Indiana or Minnesota pulling an upset. The offense doesn’t appear strong enough to make the ‘other’ 8 games on the schedule sure things.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 10, 2017 at 11:24 AM

      Michigan RBs against Miami (2014): 35 carries for 178 yards – 5.1 ypc
      Michigan RBs against Cincinnati (2017): 30 carries for 109 yards – 3.6 ypc

      These are the numbers when you take out QB yardage and the biggest play of the day from the RB.

      If you watch the game you can see that while big plays have happened, Michigan is simply not getting the kind of consistent blocking you expect in the run game. Florida is Florida but against a Cincinnati team that gave up over 200 yards rushing to Austin Peay a week ago, this is woeful.

      I really wish there were success rate numbers posted somewhere for RBs and teams because that would really be the telling thing about run games.

      I think you can be optimistic about the run game because they are getting big plays with some regularity. That indicates there is hope. But I can’t look past the failing between the tackles and the consistency with which Michigan finds itself in 3rd and long.

      I am very worried (again) about the OL. What we’re seeing is a huge trouble sign for the rest of the season – when Michigan absolutely WILL have to assert itself on the ground at some point (as they managed to do against Indiana and PSU last year for example).

      I was optimistic that, while the pass protection may have taken a step back, that run blocking may have moved forward in 2017. After this game, I don’t feel optimistic about that at all.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 319
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Sep 10, 2017 at 11:35 AM

        “I really wish there were success rate numbers posted somewhere for RBs and teams because that would really be the telling thing about run games.”

        There’s cfbstats.com … it has some nice breakdowns, for example Michigan rushing by situation:

        http://www.cfbstats.com/2017/team/418/rushing/offense/situational.html

        Or splits:

        http://www.cfbstats.com/2017/team/418/rushing/offense/split.html

        And by player … Ty Isaac situational stats:

        http://www.cfbstats.com/2017/player/418/1057271/rushing/situational.html

        And Ty Isaac splits:

        http://www.cfbstats.com/2017/player/418/1057271/rushing/split.html

        Lots more. Great site.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 319
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Sep 10, 2017 at 11:38 AM

        I posted a comment with links to cfbstats.com … but for some reason that is “awaiting moderation.” Point is, cfbstats.com has some really nice breakdowns by situation, splits, by team, by player, etc.

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 10, 2017 at 11:58 AM

          Comments with lots of links are flagged by the spam filter, so I have to approve those individually.

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 319
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Sep 10, 2017 at 12:21 PM

            Ah, I see … I guess that’s understandable. Users could post links to things you don’t want on your site.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 12:01 PM

          It’s a great resource but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for — a “batting average” measure that talks about situational success (e.g., 1 yard on 3rd and 1 is great, 1 yard on 1st and 10 is awful).

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 319
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Sep 10, 2017 at 12:10 PM

            It’s early in the season so there’s not many data points, but the “situational stats” offers that:

            3rd down, 1-3 to go
            3rd down, 4-6 to go
            3rd down, 7-9 to go
            3rd down, 10+ to go

            For Isaac under 3rd and 1-3 to go, it shows he had four attempts for 14 yards, or an average of 3.5 and 2 first downs. He has no stats for the middle yardage situations, but has four attempts at 10+ yards and an average of 14.75 and 2 first downs. So two games in, Isaac is doing what’s needed on at least 3rd down situational stats.

            Further, on 1st and 10 he’s had 13 attempts, averaging 9.85 yards, and has 3 first downs. Here again, he seems to be a decent 1st down runner. If his 1st down stats showed 13 attempts for an average of 1.7 yards and no first downs then I’d say that’s a bad thing.

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2017 at 12:19 PM

              I think it’s a great resource to dive into data but there’s still serious limitations of sample size when you drill down too far.

              The success rate number I’d like to see would roll up all the situational stats by player or game. That would smooth some of the noise from outliers that influence YPC so much (situational YPC or overall YPC)

              • DonAZ
                Comments: 319
                Joined: 8/12/2015
                DonAZ
                Sep 10, 2017 at 12:23 PM

                If I understand that site properly, it has APIs to gain access to the data for doing just that sort of analysis. I’ve not looked into it.

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 12:49 PM

                  A play by play database is really what is needed. I don’t know that this data is out there anywhere, but presumably they are pulling it from somewhere…

                • DonAZ
                  Comments: 319
                  Joined: 8/12/2015
                  DonAZ
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 2:46 PM

                  That site offers access to “detailed play-by-play data.” But it’s not free.

                  That site is getting its raw data from somewhere. Not sure where. The NCAA site offers play-by-play in text format:

                  http://www.ncaa.com/game/football/fbs/2017/09/09/cincinnati-michigan/play-by-play

                  Maybe the cfbstats site has a program that crawls through that and formats into a data model from which stats can be derived.

                • Comments: 1
                  Joined: 9/11/2017
                  BlueSCar
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 8:15 PM

                  https://www.reddit.com/r/CFBAnalysis/comments/6wz5ww/2017_play_by_play_data

                  You can find free, comprehensive, up-to-date play by play data here, pulled directly from ESPN’s hidden API. It goes all the way back to 2001.

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 10:19 AM

                  I don’t know how to scrape data like that systematically. If somebody on here does I can use it

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 10:21 AM

                  Thanks BlueSCr. I’ll take a look and see if I can do something with this in the next few weeks.

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 11, 2017 at 9:55 AM

              This is where YPC can be misleading. The 3rd and short number doesn’t tell you anything about conversion rate – the meaningful stat in that context.

              Less true on 1st and one but still the same concept.

              Bill Connelly wrote about this in the offseason – consistent production is sustainable. Big plays are random. There’s very little correlation with teams who have lots of big plays in the first half of the season and the second.

              • Comments: 568
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Sep 11, 2017 at 9:59 AM

                Any stat can be misleading. You said it yourself, check the stats but WATCH THE FILM

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 11, 2017 at 10:36 AM

                breaking news – the two are not mutually exclusive

      • crazyjoedavola
        Comments: 155
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        crazyjoedavola
        Sep 10, 2017 at 11:44 AM

        I will stick to my 6-8 wins prediction on the year due to the OL and Speight being a disaster. I also think the secondary will get exposed against teams with accurate QBs. If Cincy’s receivers are running wide open down the field, there will be a lot of troubles against competent teams. It is hard to believe that a Harbaugh coached team has such poor QB and OL play.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 12:10 PM

          Predicting 6-8 wins is like predicting 10-12. One side of your range is reasonable and and 1 off the consensus (i.e., likely). The other is extreme and unlikely.

          • crazyjoedavola
            Comments: 155
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            crazyjoedavola
            Sep 10, 2017 at 4:28 PM

            I honestly think that there are a lot of “losable” games on the schedule, I wouldn’t be shocked if we lose to teams like AFA, Purdue, and MSU. When you don’t have a sound OL and QB play, and have to rely on many first year starters, things can go seriously wrong no matter how much talent is on the roster. I think that we played over our heads against an undermanned Florida team, and the Cincy game is a much better gauge of where this team is at.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 11, 2017 at 9:56 AM

            After Cinci I don’t think anyone can argue there are losable games. But we will still be favored heavily in all these games it seems (save OSU,PSU,Wisc)

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 11, 2017 at 10:48 AM

            I agree with most of this pessimism after Cinci, but I think the feelings about Speight are a huge overreaction. We have a solid QB. If he can improve his accuracy he’ll be an excellent QB.

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 10, 2017 at 1:37 PM

          That is way too pessimistic but strangely there is some decent logic. That is scary. Cinci could have really put the pressure on this offense and I agree that I am scared to find out what the offense could have done because the OL and Speight can’t be trusted.

          What kills me about both of them, especially Speight, is that they both do things than kill drives. You can’t rely on the offense to put a drive of over 50 yards together. All we have really seen is a big play on occasion because of a defensive bust or a good pass to a wr that got open. Have we seen a competent drive going down the field yet of more than 50 yards that includes over 10 plays?

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 10, 2017 at 1:40 PM

          I forgot to mention but this is what is so confusing about this program. The defense has a sense of style and fluidity. It looks like a growth stock and representative of an elite program. The offense looks like Congress with no idea on how to function and representative of a Hoke era type offense.

          Wish Speight was available during the Gardner era.

          • Comments: 2083
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 10, 2017 at 2:02 PM

            I disagree on the offense. I think Michigan’s offensive scheme is much more fluid and melds better than it did during the Hoke era. The problem right now is the execution.

      • Comments: 904
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Sep 10, 2017 at 1:31 PM

        I’m not worried about the running game too much because if you take out the runs for losses, that average goes right back up.

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 10, 2017 at 1:39 PM

          Yep. The problem with removing big plays is a) it removes a big play, but b) it also fails to remove comparative big plays. 3.5 yards/carry sounds pretty mediocre in our understanding of where your rushing average should be, but that’s compared to raw statistics that don’t have big plays removed. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

          • Comments: 113
            Joined: 12/24/2016
            INTJohn
            Sep 10, 2017 at 2:43 PM

            This is where ‘Standard Deviation’ enters into the picture relative to the Mean. A relative large SD would be representive of the influence of ‘big plays’ to the Mean whereas a lower SD would be representative of overall results more consistent with the Mean……..

            Barry Sanders is a great example here – he wasn’t particularly fast or strong but he was like trying to tackle a rabbit. If you could touch him he’d go down and he would often have say 15 carrys for 30 yards but finish the game with 21 carrys for 130. The mean says 6+ yards/carry but the standard deviation is huge relative to the mean. Tells you that most yards are gotten on only a few ‘big plays’ and the mean in and of itself is thus not at all indicative of reality……….
            Stats 101……………INTjohn

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 8:34 PM

          This isn’t really how math works. Outlier negatives like -2 or -3 are going to skew YPC a little bit. Outlier positives are going to change the entire story.

          I think (hope) we can agree that it matters how you get your total. 100 yards on 20 carries at 5 yards every play is near 100% success rate. 100 yards on 20 carries with one 81 yard run mixed in is close to 5% success rate. That’s the difference between a bunch of successful drives vs 1 TD.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 10, 2017 at 11:33 AM

      Isaac is the #1 RB.

      I certainly did not expect that. He’s looked very good in both his games and once he’s in the open field he covers ground pretty quickly. He’s made a couple dudes miss behind the LOS even.

      Between the tackles, I’m still not seeing much value-added. Higdon’s the best option here in my opinon, but he’s not as dangerous in the open field as Isaac is. Evans looks improved as an inside runner but he’s not a pile-mover and apparently not doing enough otherwise to keep his job. I’ve always been big on playing time as an indicator – so it seems that Isaac is the best back we have right now.

      I have a suspicion that our OL failings are playing into that. The staff may be realizing that running inside is hopeless. Doing it necessary to keep defenses honest but they know it’s throwing away downs. The success they are having is coming off the edge and that’s always been Isaac’s strength. Pair that with his (still mostly theoretical) pass-catching ability as a guy they can motion to WR and offer a credible threat….that may be the best we have to offer with this OL.

      Perhaps the biggest WTF about this team is the continued lack of passes to RBs. If these guys are such playmakers why aren’t we doing what every other team in the country does – getting the RBs the ball on screens, swing-passes, etc. I guess we can hope we’re saving it for the big bad DLs coming to get us later in the year…

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 319
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Sep 10, 2017 at 11:37 AM

        I’m wondering if the lack of passing to RBs is the effect of Pep Hamilton vs. last year’s Jed Fisch? Maybe Hamilton has a different view of that, and right now Harbaugh is deferring to Hamilton’s view of thins?

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 11:56 AM

          IDK but the initial impression of Pep isn’t so hot.

          Fisch didn’t throw to the backs much either.

          All of these guys are very big on play-action, but play-action works best when based on a threatening run game.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 1:45 PM

        Good question. I’ll give you a question. Have you see Speight throw a screen to a rb? It doesn’t look very good.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 11, 2017 at 9:57 AM

          This feels like a fair point. I do remember some worrying screen passes last year. Still – there’s other way to throw to RBs.

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 10, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      Thunder mentions a need to get consistent play from the QB. I think it can be argued we are getting exactly that over the last 4 games. We’re getting a couple TDs, about 200 yards, and a turnover or two just about every game.

      In many ways, it’s been the same thing. Speight going to make some costly mistakes. Speight going to be resilient and can come back from those. Speight going to make some big plays – especially down the field. Speight going to make mostly good decisions but his accuracy will come and go.

      If your offseason take was “Speight is what he is and won’t improve” then you look on track to be correct. I don’t think inconsistent performance is the thing to be worried about.

      Here’s my hot take: Michigan needs to take more shots downfield if Speight’s accuracy is going to come and go. This is sort of what they’re doing with the outside run game too. If you can’t move it consistently then you need to take your shots. 2011 offense comes to mind, though we don’t have anybody like Denard that scares you…

      • Comments: 568
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 10, 2017 at 12:10 PM

        I think he’s referring to consistently GOOD quarterback play, not consistently erratic

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 12:41 PM

          That’s not what he said. But maybe for context it would help to have an example of who/what we are talking about.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 10, 2017 at 12:44 PM

            What is a reasonable comparable to where Speight is playing fine. Not great, not bad, just OK/fine/acceptable/solid. What does that look like in your collective minds.

            Jake Rudock comes to mind for me, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. So what does acceptable look like?

          • Comments: 568
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 10, 2017 at 12:56 PM

            Acceptable: no self-inflected wounds
            No excuse for the endzone fumble; put the ball in Crawford’s belly, not his chest. Don’t throw two pick6 in a game, even without much pressure. Stop overlooking open Receivers; stop overthrowing the ones you find
            *the last two would be more acceptable, but only add fuel to the fire following the turnovers

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2017 at 12:58 PM

              What player is an example? Every QB makes mistakes. It seems like your expectation is perfection which pretty much explains the reactions…but I’d like to give you more credit than that. So — what player reflects a reasonable allowance for error?

              • Comments: 568
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Sep 10, 2017 at 1:09 PM

                Jake Ruddock. He had to learn the offense, but when he did it was *mistake-free football. The fact that he hit a few deep balls made him look great, but taking what the D gave him, kept the wheels from falling off

                *critical

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 1:27 PM

                  Every available measure has Speight about equal to Rudock or better.

                  I already gave the aggregate numbers to support this in terms of YPA, QBR, TD-INT.

                  We can also compare their midseason performances against MSU:
                  2015: 15/25 168 yards 0TD/0 INTs, loss.
                  2016: 16/25 244 yards 0 TD/1 INTs, win.

                  So he’s already at Rudock level and likely to surpass it with any improvement whatsoever this year.

                  Do you really mean is Rudock’s last 4 or 5 games at UM?

                • Comments: 568
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 6:23 PM

                  You ask for a “what” example, so I gave you one (I even stated the overthrows would be acceptable if not paired with the TOs)
                  You asked for a “who” example, so I gave you one
                  You don’t have to like it, but throwing statistics around only add to my point: speight’s erratic mistakes undo anything good he (or the team) do. His eye-catching statistic is “MISTAKES”
                  They’re a liability, whereas rudock was not

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 8:37 PM

                  The recap doesn’t add anything to the point.

                  The stats (AKA facts) say that Rudock made as many or more mistakes than Speight. Compare INTs. Compare completion percentage.

                  Anyway the idea that it’s all about mistake-avoidance is transparently dumb. They can just down it every play and achieve that.

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 10, 2017 at 1:53 PM

                Or maybe you want to compare the OSU games? OK – let’s do that.

                Rudock put up nice solid mistake-free stats that game. Yet – he managed 1 TD drive and 2 FG drives that game, where Michigan lost 42-13. Michigan was already down 35-13 when Rudock exited after taking a Bosa sack.

                In 2016, the defense is what made the outcome different but it’s worth noting that Speight was similarly productive – 3 scoring drives (17 points) in regulation. The production was not far off, even though Speight was hurt and not throwing downfield.

                You will now note that Speight made some hugely costly turnovers that game – which can not be disputed but can be countered. Speight had a higher completion percentage, stepped up in overtime (3/5 1TD/1FG) when they needed him most, was playing on the road, was playing a tougher defense (#2 FEI vs #9) and significantly — was tough enough to stay in the game while getting sacked by Bosa DESPITE already being inured.

                Being a QB is about managing the offense, not just accuracy on throws. Speight needs to improve his turnovers and get more consistent with throwing mechanics. But the overall results speak for themselves. Speight overall track record as a starter and his statistical production at Michigan is on par with Rudock’s – right down to their records.

                You want to excuse Rudock’s 3 INT game against Utah in an opener you can. You want to harp on Speight for his 2 INT game against Florida in an opener you can.

                Reality is that stuff happens sometimes. Even to NFL-bound 5th year seniors in new offenses, even to NFL-bound 4th year juniors with rickety OLs and their 3rd OC in 4 years.

                • Comments: 289
                  Joined: 9/13/2015
                  michymich
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 2:59 PM

                  I would take a senior Rudock with his flaws over a 14 game starter Speight.

                  I would make that trade in a heartbeat and also throw in a TE and a reserve rb. That clear in my mind.

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 10, 2017 at 8:39 PM

                  You can say that – but stats offer a more objective measure.

                  Speight in 16 was on par with Rudock in 15.

                  The goal JE is pointing to has already been achieved.

                  What’s really interesting is why people think otherwise.

            • Comments: 289
              Joined: 9/13/2015
              michymich
              Sep 10, 2017 at 1:52 PM

              Too demanding. Not going to happen. Sort of like asking DeVeon Smith to be more explosive running the ball. You are dealing with a flawed qb (most of them). I think Speight makes decent decisions but the accuracy part, wishful thinking for most throws.

              Gerdeman from OSU said it best, everyone knows what you get from Speight which is from throw to throw you have no idea what you are going to get. It’s a new and improved John Navarre. 2.0 version.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 1:48 PM

        That is a good suggestion but one fly in the ointment. Teams are now understanding the strengths and weaknesses of Speight. How about yesterday. Remember the double coverage on the one throw in the 2nd half. Teams are going realize Speight can only make certain throws and the middle of the field is going to get very congested with defenders.

        What do all the long throws have in common that have worked? All between the hash marks. It’s only going to get more difficult for a very bad passer.

        • Comments: 568
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          je93
          Sep 10, 2017 at 6:25 PM

          Yep. The further from the center of the field, the uglier the throw (even if short)

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 8:41 PM

          Interesting point. I don’t think you’re right that that’s a limitation of Speights but it does feel like the long ones have been mostly between the hashes. Hard to say why this would be – generally the sideline is a helpful reference point.

          • Comments: 568
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 10, 2017 at 10:40 PM

            How many completions have you seen toward the sideline?

            Statistics may be “objective and factual,” but they never tell the whole story. Otherwise, why watch film? Just follow the boxscore…

            That’s “what’s stupid,” to use your own word

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 10, 2017 at 11:46 PM

            Stats don’t tell the whole story. Neither does watching film. I can read every boxscore in the country in the time that you watch film on one game. Who is going to have better perspective?

            Trick question.

            The answer is the one who does both.

            • Comments: 568
              Joined: 1/19/2016
              je93
              Sep 11, 2017 at 1:34 AM

              Well if you’d pull away from the devotion to PFF & UFR, you might see the difference

              It’s why you hadn’t considered where speight botches most his throws; you let select numbers confirm your bias

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 11, 2017 at 11:05 AM

                Yes, I really don’t formulate my opinions until I can read mgoblog on Thursday. Before that I hardly make a peep.

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 11:05 AM

                  I still don’t know how I feel about any of the OSU games the last 5 years.

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 11, 2017 at 10:01 AM

              I watch the games. I don’t expect perfection.

              Yes – stats absolutely influence my opinions. Because they reflect the big story.

              PFF and UFR are watching the games too.

              I’m not sure what you are saying is superior to watching the games and having an opinion. Watching them without ever looking at stats?

              I can’t agree with that outlook. I don’t agree with just going of emotions and flawed memories.

              • Comments: 568
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Sep 11, 2017 at 10:10 AM

                Lank, I’m about the least emotional guy there is

                Sure I look at stats and boxscore, but hesitate to allow them to tell the whole story. For example, many had pointed out speight being unable to connect outside, even struggling with screens. Go look that stay up. Another example is his 2016 stats: up against crap teams, and against good teams down. That’s normal right? But watching The Game is how you know it wasn’t just an INT, it was a pick6 when ohio had no offense; it was a fumbled snap on the goal line

                There’s more, but watching the games trumps favorable completion percentage

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 9:50 PM

        Is that going to work out now since teams have a sense where his performance is heading? Is Speight good at downfield throws outside the hash marks? I get your point and it is a valid one but there is a time coming where teams are going to funnel every throw to the perimeter by overloading the middle of the field.

        As I have indicated previously, things are going to get harder for Speight as more and more tape is available and more importantly teams will show how to defend him and then that will be the foundation of the game plan. Saban would kill us. I don’t even want to see it.

  3. Comments: 568
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 10, 2017 at 12:05 PM

    I’m in solid agreement with Lank; the OL has me concerned, and yeah, the right side looks more like late Hoke era than what I expected

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 319
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Sep 10, 2017 at 12:19 PM

      The offensive line is the cornerstone of our woes. If it was a traditionally dominant Michigan offensive line, then we’d have more of a running and passing game.

      At least *some* of Speight’s issues are due to this OL. Not all, however … there’s been several cases where he has a clean pocked and over/under-throws.

      FWIW — and it’s not worth much, since I’m no football guru — I think Speight has a case of the yips. Perhaps he recalls the injury last year and is skittish; perhaps his yips is a true reflection of his lack of trust in the OL.

      Final point — I have a hunch … it’s just a gut feel … that we’re also witnessing something of a stubborn, dig-my-heels-in thing by Harbaugh. There was a news story about how he said he would not “dumb down” the offense. Now perhaps he has a point in that the way to learn is trial-by-fire, and thus he’s allowing the growing pains. But it makes me wonder if there’s also a case where Harbaugh thinks Speight shouldn’t need “confidence builder” throws at this point, so that’s why we’re not seeing the RB screens, etc.

      But back to the main point … with a rock-solid OL a lot of these problems diminish. At the heart of Michigan’s problems is an OL that is far short of Michigan’s traditional standards.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 10, 2017 at 12:26 PM

        I have the same feeling about dig-in-heels philosophy. In some ways you understand – the cornerstone of his offensive philosophy is exerting your will on the ground. That’s so far from happening right now.

        So what is he going to do? Abandon his core philosophy in seeking out the best short-term gain? Or try to get there, incrementally, a little closer every day?

        I think he has to keep trying on the ground.

        The size of the playbook is another matter. I think the teams that have had the most offensive success have generally had a base philosophy that they’ve stuck to and executed and it’s generally been pretty simple (or so we’ve been told). Harbaugh’s trying to do something different, for better or worse – IDK.

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 10, 2017 at 2:55 PM

          What do you think of Bredeson and Onwenu? In theory I think they both can be effective guards so I am willing to wait and be patient and have them coached up. I would assume Ruiz will be a player at this level. Cole leaves and then RT?

          What I am trying to say is that if Filiaga or Stueber pans out then UM may eventually have a really good OL. It’s a long process and feels like getting a root canal every month during the football season. Eventually this problem may get resolved.

          I am also optimistic that a legit rb may emerge. Somebody who stands out above the rest and a potential all BT rb especially if Mason is a high end fb.

          Harbaugh may get what he was known for at Stanford. A man can dream right?

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 10, 2017 at 3:01 PM

          Remember the Iowa game? I was very critical of Harbaugh and staff who thought they had the horses to finish off the game by playing power football. Is Harbaugh still in denial about his offensive personnel? In denial about his qb? I don’t think so.

          If Harbaugh had a better qb who was accurate (Griese/Sr) he would abandon the run quicker and use the pass to open up the run but problem is the offensive growth in his program is lagging big time.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 10, 2017 at 8:42 PM

            OK – but is it really the QBs job to open up the run game? Or is it the run games job to open up the pass? I think Harbaugh would prefer the latter. Play-action heavy pass game reflects that.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 2:02 PM

        I agree 100% with you. 100%. Speight has to have a very good OL and he doesn’t which exacerbates some of his problems.
        Speight has to have a more consistent running game for this offense to be functional against a quality defense.

        Now to your important observation, Harbaugh. I think Harbaugh is going to realize very soon that the passing game is going to have to change and that he is dealing with a qb with passing limitations. I think Drevno understands this and Harbaugh may start thinking long and hard about Speight and whether this is the guy for next year? I’ll give you a hypothetical. What happens if Speight plays the rest of the year like the first two games and UM loses 4 games. Harbaugh is going to see an offense that is holding this program back especially with a defense that is on the rise. When is the breaking point? I don’t think Harbaugh came to UM to be Lloyd Carr and be okay winning on average 9 & 8 games per year.

        What is frustrating about the offense is that it is holding this program back from making the leap. Ask Florida about their offense. Have to get this resolved and the wr’s and te’s look on the rise. I can make a case the OL (Filiaga, Ruiz, Steuber and rb’s (Samuels) will get UM back to elite but not Speight at qb.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 8:44 PM

          Yes – the offense is what is holding us back. But even if the QB is just average, that’s better than the OL – which is the real problem.

  4. Comments: 568
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Sep 10, 2017 at 12:25 PM

    Speight may look worse BECAUSE the line is so bad. There’s more on his shoulders than he can bare

    • Comments: 3181
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Sep 10, 2017 at 12:39 PM

      OK but some perspective is warranted:

      He’s 11-3 as a starter.
      The 3 losses came by a combined 5 points.
      While facing many elite defenses.
      Overall stats compare favorably to other Big Ten NFL QBs.

      Nobody is calling him a future HOF right now and there’s plenty of legitimate critiques. There’s also the big picture.

      Speight and Baker Mayfield had equivalent games against OSU last year – maybe they will again this year.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 2:07 PM

        11-3 because of Speight or most of it because of a high end defense.

        Perspective means factoring in all variables. Who is winning these games? JOK is 1-0. Remember Matt Cassel? Wasn’t he 11-5 or so with the Pats. When the defense or ST’s didn’t dominate or faded at the end then Speight got the losses. Couldn’t the defense get the wins? Give me examples of where Speight was a major component of the win. I am not saying it didn’t happen but tell me where Speight was the guy. Brady was the guy at PSU and in the OB.

      • Comments: 568
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 10, 2017 at 6:36 PM

        I get it, you’re a numbers guy. Count the screw ups; those are the numbers that have most doubting speight will ever figure it out. It’s always one small step forward, one huge step back

        Against Florida he was the weakest link; his mistakes yesterday have folks ignoring the OL, even after years of substandard play

        • Comments: 289
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Sep 10, 2017 at 7:18 PM

          This is a good point. Something that gets overlooked. If a qb throws 3 good passes and then on 2nd and 8 throws a bad pass and stops the drive then it offsets the 3 good passes unless you are playing some version of a field position game.

          If you are look at some stat that a qb throws 20 completions out of 30 passes does it really tell the whole story? I see this many times in the NFL, stat padding. Tell me about 3rd conversion ratio. Red zone efficiency.

          • Comments: 568
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 10, 2017 at 7:35 PM

            That’s why stats in football just aren’t the same as in baseball
            Spare me the advanced statistics. A logical person doesn’t care about QBR when fumbles, pick6s, and overthrown TDs opportunities are happening

          • DonAZ
            Comments: 319
            Joined: 8/12/2015
            DonAZ
            Sep 10, 2017 at 7:41 PM

            I think 3rd down conversion rate is one of the most telling stats in football. Check the 3rd conversion rate due to passing.

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2017 at 8:53 PM

              As Harbaugh discussed, 3rd down conversion rate is dependant on what you do on 1st and 2nd down. This is why you want a consistent run game that can get you 3rd and 2 instead of 3rd and 9.

              • Comments: 289
                Joined: 9/13/2015
                michymich
                Sep 10, 2017 at 10:00 PM

                Ok.

                A bad pass on 2nd and 8.
                A good pass on 3rd and 7 but underneath where you gain 4 yards on your 43 yard line.

                Are these examples of a good qb? This is where Griese was absolutely fantastic his senior year. He was the key guy to winning that NC. Smart football. Accurate passing to Shea and Tuman. Move the chains. Give me an idea of the 3rd down ratio of Speight over each game and I will show you how he played outside of an outlier (Pick 6). Same thing applies to the running game and the OL.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 8:52 PM

          140 incompletions and 10 INTs for Rudock
          127 and 7 for Speights

          I don’t have fumbles available but the data above indicates Rudock made more mistakes.

          Stats are an objective representation of facts. They are useful because they are not just a matter of opinion.

          We can boil it down to Rudock’s mistakes costing us the Utah game and Speight’s not costing us the Florida game – if you want to ignore the numbers.

          Anyway – the fact that you’re expecting Speight to play like an NFL draft pick and backup about says it all. Speight is bad if he’s not at that level (though he actually is, but we’ll set that aside for the moment). Why isn’t the bar set to the same level at ANY other position? The only guy projected to be an NFL player right now is Cole. Everybody else is younger or has little chance (including our #1 RB , #1 WR, #1 TE, and OC.)

          • Comments: 289
            Joined: 9/13/2015
            michymich
            Sep 10, 2017 at 10:08 PM

            I recall Rudock not being particulary good in the first few games of his senior year and then hit his stride during the middle of the year. I also recall UM not being quite as good in the running game. My recollection of Rudock is that he was wild and missed a number of throws early in the season.

            The reason I use Rudock as a reference is because they both were under the Harbaugh system and had accuracy issues but Rudock seemed to get better where Speight has been stagnant on his development. I also use Rudock as an example because you have referenced Speight as a NFL caliber prospect.

            Let me know if I have misinterpreted your previous comments. I want to be fair. I do respect you for recognizing where your predictions have not come true. I didn’t see Isaac as the man so far and instead thought Higdon would have more carries. I was clearly wrong. It actually doesn’t surprise me that Evans hasn’t set the world on fire. Glad to see Isaac become the chain mover. Whatever works.

          • Comments: 568
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 10, 2017 at 10:50 PM

            Not all numbers are equal, at least not in this football example

            Rudock threw 9INT (not 10), but was nearly flawless as he picked up the offense
            Speight has gotten progressively worse since last November

            After sparty, fans have a hard time remembering a costly incompletion by Rudock
            For speight, his inaccuracy cost us at least one TD last week, plus 14pts for Florida. His drive-killing overthrows this week helped keep Cincinnati in the game

            Rudock didn’t have a strong arm, but knew to take what the D gave him, and could get it to nearly anywhere on the field
            Speight doesn’t have a strong arm either, but acts like he doesn’t realize this limitation (try count his completions in the flat); I’m trying really hard to recall a sideline pass completion (this year or last)

            • Comments: 289
              Joined: 9/13/2015
              michymich
              Sep 11, 2017 at 1:36 AM

              Well Speight did actually have a completion in the Iowa game late that Darboh dropped if we are being fair.

              Let’s say a sideline pass of over 10 yards? I am not trying to be flippant but I can’t recall one but like someone to show me one of these passes. I want Speight to succeed because I don’t want who is behind door #2.

              I am less upset at Speight and more upset at Harbaugh and Peters. Harbaugh for OL and Peters for petering out so far.

              • Comments: 568
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Sep 11, 2017 at 1:38 AM

                Fair enough

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 10, 2017 at 11:52 PM

            The idea that Rudock was nearly flawless is preposterous. If only he had just downed the ball on every play – he could have gotten there.

            Again – Speight’s completion percentage 62% was only a hair behind Rudock’s 64%…as a sophomore. The nice thing about the stats is that they don’t forget.

            You don’t like stats OK – try to remember Rudock against MSU, PSU, and OSU. He was very far from ‘flawless’. Easy to dismiss the 3 INTs that lost us the Utah game too I guess.

            • Comments: 289
              Joined: 9/13/2015
              michymich
              Sep 11, 2017 at 1:32 AM

              Leave off stats. Would you prefer Speight or would you trade him for a overall senior Rudock? You can obviously factor in potential development. Your choice. Curious. For the record I would take Speight over Navarre.

              I won’t answer that hypothetical question since it’s a no brainer for me.

              • Comments: 568
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Sep 11, 2017 at 1:36 AM

                Give him a minute to go through a UFR

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 11, 2017 at 10:05 AM

                Navarre (SR) > Speight (JR*) > Rudock (SR)

                That’s projecting improvement for Speight relative to 2016 which, so far, we have’t really seen – but I still expect.

                • Comments: 289
                  Joined: 9/13/2015
                  michymich
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 6:13 PM

                  I hope so but I don’t expect it. Hopefully I am pleasantly surprised and I will be more than happy to eat a big pile of crow. If Speight is better than Rudock then I will assume UM will be in the running to make the CFP and get to the BT championship game. Your hands typing to God’s ear. You are definitely on your own island hoping to be rescued by ship Speight. I hope it happens.

            • Comments: 2083
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Sep 11, 2017 at 5:57 AM

              As je93 already said, Rudock showed progress throughout the year, while Speight really hasn’t improved much since the beginning of 2016. You keep comparing Speight to Rudock and saying Speight is better, but Rudock was on campus for one month before the Utah game and the whole team was in its first year in the system. This is year 3 of the system, and Speight has been at Michigan the whole time.

              • Comments: 3181
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Sep 11, 2017 at 10:14 AM

                Rudock was a senior and Speight was a sophomore. Rudock had started many games and Speight hadn’t. There’s advantages and disadvantages to both positions. I think Rudock had more.

                To address the ‘improvement’ angle I compared Rudock late season games to Speights against the same opponents (MSU, OSU, PSU).

                I get that you guys want to dismiss Utah. I think it’s fair to discount it but you can’t just pretend it didn’t happen.

                There are a lot of people who have turned the Rudock season into sunshine and roses because it had a happy ending. We still got trounced by OSU and lost to MSU — Rudock wasn’t fresh meat then.

                • Comments: 568
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 10:31 AM

                  The entire team got trounced by ohio in 2015. In 2016, two INTs and a fumble while in scoring position did more harm than anything Rudock did in the entire year prior

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 10:50 AM

                  The offensive struggles in 2015 and 2016 were the same – reflecting my point that the QB performance was essentially the same.

                  I do think Rudock was a little better overall on the season – in part because I don’t think the Utah INTs were on him. But the big picture is nearly the same performance, with Speight presumed to improve in 2017 he will be better.

                • Comments: 3181
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 10:52 AM

                  Rudock did throw 3 INTs that lost us the Utah game. I know you don’t want to acknowledge that happened but it did. Make whatever excuses you want. We are talking about a 5th year senior.

                  Compare Navarre his soph year and senior year – there was a big difference. Expect similar improvement from Speight, though yes, we haven’t seen much signs of it these 1st 2 games.

                • Comments: 568
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 11:05 AM

                  Who’s not acknowledging the Utah INTs? They happened. Game 1. After 4weeks in the offense. Nothing close to that happened again. He improved
                  With speight, it’s the same story, if not worse

                  *notice I am not going to blame Perry for the TOs at Utah

                • Comments: 289
                  Joined: 9/13/2015
                  michymich
                  Sep 11, 2017 at 6:02 PM

                  Did Rudock lose to MSU or did the punter lose to MSU?

                  I don’t have a problem factoring in all games but what you are trying to do is take all the stats in the aggregate and use that as an example of why Speight is doing the same as Rudock.

                  If I throw 6 int’s in a game and the other guy throws 2 int’s over 3 games does that equate to an equal performance. If I throw 6 td’s against IU but none against MSU, PSU and OSU do we combine in the aggregate for comparison purposes?

                  You are going down the Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner school of misleading passing stats. It’s what people do to sell the Rich Rod offensive argument.

              • Comments: 289
                Joined: 9/13/2015
                michymich
                Sep 11, 2017 at 6:08 PM

                Yes. Yes. I want Speight to improve. I want him to be successful but he has had enough time to learn the system and to make basic accurate throws. I am not asking Speight to be Griese or Brady or Grbac but I am also not lowering my personal fan expectations to have him be John Navarre. I want and expect better as a fan who wants this program to take the next step. Get it done. I trust my eyes and what I see.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 10, 2017 at 8:54 PM

          The weakest link against Florida was the OL. Same against Cinci. Same the last 4 years except maybe games where Morris started.

  5. Comments: 3181
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Sep 10, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    OT: Why are Michigan fans so damn happy about OSU losing? Yes, we hate them — but we love Michigan more and that game hurts Michigan. Especially so in the even that we are a 1 or 2 loss team making a case for a top bowl or even a playoff.

    It’s probably best for UofM if OSU is undefeated, but if they are going to lose it should be to other Big Ten teams, not a conference elite vs conference elite spotlight game that will be referenced all season.

    Strikes me as cutting of your nose to spite your face.

    • Comments: 2083
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Sep 10, 2017 at 2:07 PM

      The OSU loss suggests that maybe they’re down, have some chinks in the armor, and can be beaten. Let’s be honest: If that team’s 11-0 and crushing teams like Oklahoma before they face Michigan with 10 new starters on defense and a questionable offense, we know how that one turns out 90% of the time.

      Regardless, Michigan has to try to win every game on its schedule. If you end the season with a loss to Ohio State, you’re almost certainly out of luck when it comes to making the CFP. We might as well enjoy an OSU meltdown while we can.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 10, 2017 at 9:08 PM

        So you want Michigan’s chances of a playoff or major bowl to be hurt for the sake of a “suggestion”? How confident we feel about beating OSU is irrelevant to the outcome. UM will have a chance of beating OSU regardless if they beat Oklahoma or don’t.

        Michigan doesn’t get into the Sugar Bowl last year without OSU beating Oklahoma. Instead they go to the Citrus once again. It’s very clear why OSU winning that game is good for Michigan — we just saw it.

        There’s a lot of ways that OSU beating Oklahoma can help UM. There’s very few (deep longshot) that OSU losing to them helps UM.

        Imagine a scenario where Florida wins the SEC, undefeated OSU wins the Big Ten, and Michigan sits at 11-1 after a loss to OSU. We still make a major bowl. The same scenario with OSU at 11-1…our profile is diminished.

        Or imagine a scenario where Michigan loses to PSU, OSU beats PSU, and UM beats OSU. Does it help or hurt that OSU has lost to OKlahoma?

        I could go on and on with hypotheticals. It may not matter in the end but there’s a decent chance it may. M fans celebrating are either ignorant or thoughtless IMO.

        • Comments: 2083
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Sep 11, 2017 at 6:02 AM

          People enjoy what they enjoy. Seeing your enemy lose is fun. I am neither ignorant nor thoughtless, and I like when OSU suffers. It shows more ignorance to assume that people who have a different mindset than you are either ignorant or thoughtless.

          • Comments: 904
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Sep 11, 2017 at 7:23 AM

            I pretty much always want the Buckeyes to win. If I had my way, they’d always be 11-1.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 11, 2017 at 9:49 AM

            But yes, to go further, I do think less of people who find pleasure from others troubles. I think schadenfreaude (or however you spell it) is not something that should be celebrated. It’s something one should feel embarrassed about.

            But that point has nothing to do with my comment about ignorance or thoughtlessness. Regardless if you enjoy OSU losing or don’t – it’s about Michigan.

            But yes, whatever, feel how you want to feel.

          • Comments: 3181
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Sep 11, 2017 at 9:51 AM

            I want OSU to lose every Big Ten game — because that puts Michigan ahead of them. I want them to win every non-conference game — because that puts Michigan ahead of teams outside of the Big Ten (however incrementally).

            When MSU and OSU fans cheered App State I did not appreciate it but I also felt like they were fools, and classless.

            I hope that most Michigan fans are above that.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 11, 2017 at 9:43 AM

          I like Michigan football. If you call yourself a Michigan fan and like things that are bad for Michigan – I think ignorant or thoughtless applies.

          • Comments: 2083
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Sep 11, 2017 at 9:55 AM

            I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for Michigan football, but I am one of those people who likes to see OSU lose once in a while. Am I ignorant or thoughtless? By your definition, yes. So I don’t know why you comment – literally, far more than anyone else – on the blog of someone who is ignorant and thoughtless.

    • Comments: 289
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Sep 10, 2017 at 2:08 PM

      Agree.

    • Comments: 113
      Joined: 12/24/2016
      INTJohn
      Sep 10, 2017 at 3:08 PM

      ……..AND this is EXACTLY why I want an 8 team playoff! where the 5 power 5 conference winners get an automatic berth no matter thier record& no matter who they’ve played ……….and 3 slots for at large who whatever.

      Then there is none of this which conference/team is stronger subjective crap and every team can schedule whoever they want without being ‘punished’. The whole idea of playoff is to settle it on the field and yet there still is this subjective crap about ‘4 best teams’. Win your conference your reward is you’re ‘in’.

      Also, it forces me as a fan of Michigan to root for every other B10 team to win all of their non-con games in order to build ‘strength of schedule’ points with the playoff committee as well as root for every team on Michigan’s schedule to win all of their other games. Screw that committee and their subjective bs!

      In theory every P5 conference winner could go undefeated as well as Notre Dame…….. So now what? 2 P5 conference winners could conceivably be left out of the playoffs?? or maybe 3 if the committee decides to put a second or third place finisher as done last year with OSU?

      Lets have 8 team format and now I can root for Michigan and Florida St to win all of their games and for their rivals/opponents to lose all of theirs.
      The Universe will be right once again when I can root against Ohio St., Mish St., Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida, Miami, etc with a completely clear and Healthy Football Fan’s Conscience!

      As I See it…………INTJohn

      • Comments: 568
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Sep 10, 2017 at 6:39 PM

        Not a fan. A team would get in with two losses. I love CFB because every game is critical
        Besides, not unlike the hoops tourney, you’ll still have subjectivity for teams 5-8. All while risking the importance of the regular season

        • Comments: 113
          Joined: 12/24/2016
          INTJohn
          Sep 10, 2017 at 7:27 PM

          Except not every game IS critical especially evidently the most important ones like a Big 10 Conference Championship game where a bullshit Buckeye team that didn’t even win its division is chosen as Clemson cannon fodder to be in the playoffs over 2 teams who were more deserving to play; and thats not counting the Big 12 Conference champ as well.

          It doesn’t matter to me if you want to put second or third place conference finishers (Skuuze me – first losers!) like Ohio State in the playoffs; and an 8 team format is more than accommodating to such teams as there is 3 ‘at large’ spots! But give the front row seats to teams who earned & merited a seat first and save the subjectivity for choosing the best of the rest – the first losers.

          As I See It………….INTJohn

          • Comments: 568
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Sep 10, 2017 at 7:39 PM

            If we lost to Cincinnati, it becomes a critical part of the season, even if we win out. Ex: Baylor, TCU, and ohioSt 2014
            That’s what I mean by “every game is critical”

            • Comments: 3181
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Sep 10, 2017 at 9:09 PM

              Hard agree. This is what makes CFB so fun. Amazing how much people want to grumble about a lack of clarity. You can always watch the NFL if you like that. For me, college is infinitely better.

            • Comments: 113
              Joined: 12/24/2016
              INTJohn
              Sep 10, 2017 at 9:25 PM

              Except now your brushing on another of my many issues: Since there are 14 teams in the Conference, Y are any non conference games being scheduled at all?

              Every P5 conference has at least 12 teams so play all your 12 regular season games against your Conference foes – otherwise why the hell are you even in a conference? and why is there even a Conference Champ since I”ve already shown Conference Champ is meaningless relative to the Playoffs?

              If it means something for the Playoffs – make good on it and IF it doesn’t then just get rid of the gawddam Conferences once and for all!

              I don’t have a problem with this frankly as I think Michigan should have told the B10 to ‘fuk off’ back in 1973 and gone Independent.

              ………and I would like to see Michigan do it now. If Michigan wants to be the best, play the best both athletically and academically they should leave the B10 and join the ACC. This would also force Notre Dames hand as well and force them to jump all in with the ACC as they practically are now anyway.

              The ACC is the best football conference; the best basketball conference and also the best conference academically………

              This would turn the B10 into a quasi MAC level conference leaving OSU with ‘Nothing’ and the ACC would have so much power ( along with the Pac14 to the West) to tell the NCAA to completely fuk off and basically those 2 conferences (ACC & PAC14) could form their own competitive arrangement to the exclusion as well as destruction of the NCAA as we now know it.

              Michigan is the Power Broker in this right now TODAY IF they chose to pursue it! and I wish they would!

              REVOLUTION!…………….INTJohn

  6. Comments: 289
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 10, 2017 at 1:29 PM

    I have also changed my projections. From 11 wins including bowl win to 10 wins.

    Question: I have mentioned good Speight vs. bad Speight. I would think the Iowa and Florida game would be in the bad Speight range. The Colorado game as good Speight. I hope you tell me if there has ever been very good or great Speight? He seems to have a low variance and all the games seem to be in some range. He may have a good half or bad half.

    Here is what dawned on me last night. The OL may be the worst part of the offense but optimistically I think it can improve. The running backs may be somewhat meh but I think they can get better. Can Speight really get better or is this basically his ceiling give or take 10% on any given game?

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 319
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Sep 10, 2017 at 2:26 PM

      If I could tweak one thing, it would be his completion percent. Right now it’s at 51.9%. If I could tune him up to 62% to 64%, I think that alone would make him a good (enough) quarterback in this system with this defense to provide him cover.

      • Comments: 289
        Joined: 9/13/2015
        michymich
        Sep 10, 2017 at 2:47 PM

        Yes. Those 2-3 misses a game are killers. The pass yesterday he missed to DPJ? was a drive killer. It was going to be a 20 yard completion and this was an important drive if I remember. If he throws a couple of more accurate passes and the perception changes even with the fumbles.

        The Hill pass was underthrown. The pass to Perry was more about the catch. It was both too hard and high. His two best passes so far have been to Eubanks and Crawford yesterday. He seems like he has improved that pass. Some of those passes underneath to the big TE’s have been solid. Hamilton and Harbaugh need to spend less time on running plays with Speight and have him over on the sidelines during practice throwing finesse passes.

        I take that back. Run 30 plays a practice with Speight throwing finesse balls (screens, sideline fades). Guy throws a decent slant pass and a good downfield inside the hash mark ball. Still a little too late but still progress.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 10, 2017 at 11:53 PM

        He was at 62% last year. He’s likely to get there (or better) again.

  7. Comments: 289
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 10, 2017 at 4:13 PM

    I was watching some highlights. It’s like DonAZ said above, if Speight could bring up his % by completing another couple of passes and just be a little more accurate then UM would be fine along with a decent running game.

    His passes are not very pretty. They tend to be a little high or behind the receivers but they normally will catch it. Speight is not an NFL caliber prospect but he can be a good college qb if he just can somehow improve on the basic passes. The reason is if you have good college wr’s (UM does) and you just put the ball in the vicinity of these guys then positive things can happen. Maybe Speight is the guy with the 96 mph fastball but he needs to take about 10 mph off the ball. Less so’s but less walks.

  8. DonAZ
    Comments: 319
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Sep 11, 2017 at 6:14 AM

    Some stats around the “3rd down conversion rate” discussion higher up. I have it as new comment to provide more width.

    OVERALL
    o Michigan had 33 attempts with 11 first downs, for a 33% conversion rate on 3rd downs. That ranks them 96th in FBS. USC has the highest rate, with 23 attempts and 17 conversions for a 74% rate. (Looking at Air Force … they don’t face many first downs. They have a relatively high percentage of moving the chains on 2nd down.)

    RUSHING
    o On 1st down, 46 attempts with 6 1st downs achieved (13%)
    o On 2nd down, 24 attempts with 4 1st downs achieved (17%)
    o On 3rd down, 15 attempts with 8 1st downs achieved (53.3%)
    + 3rd with 1-3 to go: 5 attempts with 3 first downs (60%)
    + 3rd with 4-6 to go: 2 attempts with 2 first downs (100%)
    + 3rd with 7-9 to go: 2 attempts with 1 first down (50%)
    + 3rd with 10+ to go: 6 attempts with 2 first downs (33%)
    + Overall: on 3rd and X, Michigan achieves a 53.3% conversion rate rushing.

    PASSING:
    o On 1st down, 14 attempts with 4 1st downs achieved (29%)
    o On 2nd down, 22 attempts with 7 1st downs achieved (32%)
    o On 3rd down, 18 attempts with 3 1st downs achieved (16.7%)
    + 3rd with 1-3 to go: 2 attempts with 0 first downs (0%)
    + 3rd with 4-6 to go: 6 attempts with 1 first down (17%)
    + 3rd with 7-9 to go: 6 attempts with 2 first downs (33%)
    + 3rd with 10+ to go: 4 attempts with 0 first downs (0%)
    + Overall: on 3rd and X, Michigan achieves a 16.7% conversion rate passing

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 319
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Sep 11, 2017 at 7:01 AM

      Some more … this time looking at total offensive plays, the number of 3rd down situations faced, and the overall conversion rate:

      MICHIGAN:
      o 141 offensive plays
      o 33 3rd down situations faced (23.4% of total offensive plays)
      o 11 conversions (33% rate)

      OHIO STATE:
      o 155 offensive plays
      o 34 3rd down situations faced (21.9%)
      o 15 conversions (44%)

      PENN STATE:
      o 117 offensive plays
      o 21 3rd downs faced (17.9%)
      o 7 conversions (33%)

      USC:
      o 141 offensive plays
      o 23 3rd downs faced (16.3%)
      o 17 conversions (73.9%)

      AIR FORCE:
      o 81 offensive plays
      o 10 3rd downs faced (12.3%)
      o 7 conversions (70%)

      SUMMARY:
      o Michigan gets itself into a relatively higher percent of 3rd down situations. They convert at a rate that places them about 75th nationally.
      o Ohio State similar 3rd facing rate, but does a slightly better job converting.
      o Penn State has fewer plays and a lower percent of 3rd down, which indicates they’re relying on the bigger plays. When they do face 3rd, they don’t do that well.
      o USC, which is the national leader in 3rd conversion rate, doesn’t face as many 3rd situations, and does an outstanding job converting when they do.
      o Air Force, our next opponent, is #1 nationally in total offense (663 yards/game), achieves that in relatively few plays (81), and relatively speaking doesn’t face many 3rd downs. Those numbers remind me of Oregon in their prime: big plays, mostly 1st and 2nd down situations, relatively few 3rd and X situations. But unlike Oregon, Air Force burns some clock doing it — 17th nationally with 35:21 time of possession.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 11, 2017 at 10:16 AM

        Good stuff…but how do you account for ‘playing from behind’. Converting 3rd and 10 is a helluva lot tougher than converting 3rd and short. This early in the year there are going to be big differences between teams that have nothing to do with ability to convert a given situation.

        • DonAZ
          Comments: 319
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          DonAZ
          Sep 11, 2017 at 10:25 AM

          The first stats post has 3rd and X breakout, with various ranges of distance for “X”. Third 3rd and short shows Michigan’s rushing pickup rate is pretty good, but passing is a zero-for-two. Small, small sample size.

          A related stat is yards on first down — which gets to the avoiding “3rd and long.” I didn’t provide detail on that, but the cfbstats site has it.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 11, 2017 at 10:17 AM

        I think the salient point here is that Michigan is putting itself into a lot of 3rd down situations.

        • DonAZ
          Comments: 319
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          DonAZ
          Sep 11, 2017 at 10:28 AM

          Absolutely agree. The numbers bear this out, and the “feel” of the games have bear this out. Nothing is as disheartening to me as a 2 yard gain on 1st down and facing a 2nd and 8. I’d much rather face 2nd and 3 or 4. Better still is bypass 2nd and 3rd down and just pick up 1st down each play. 🙂

          Back in the Hoke/Borges era the gain on first down wasn’t very good in general. That relates (primarily) to the running game, and by extension to the OL.

        • Comments: 3181
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Sep 11, 2017 at 10:54 AM

          Yes agreed. This is what I’m trying to say Don. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. It isn’t ALL on the OL, it isn’t all on Speight overthrows, it isn’t all on playcalling. But there’s a lot of evidence, and common sense, that puts the majority of the blame on the OL. But people don’t really want to talk about that because all eyes are on the QB and that’s the simplest thing to evaluate.

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 319
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Sep 11, 2017 at 7:17 AM

      One more, this having to do with red zone conversions:

      OSU — 10 attempts, 10 scores, 5 TDs, 5 FGs
      PSU — 10 attempts, 9 scores, 8 TDs, 1 FG
      USC — 8 attempts, 7 scores, 7 TDs, 0 FGs
      MICH — 6 attempts, 5 scores, 1 TD, 4 FGs
      AF — 7 attempts, 7 scores, 7 TDs, 0 FGs

      That has to grind Harbaugh’s gears … six trips to the red zone and only 1 TD to show for it. Given that Michigan is putting up some points, that means when they do score TDs, they’re striking from outside the red zone. Which is good in itself, but if a team faces a red zone situation, it’s critical to capitalize. At least Michigan is getting the FGs. Thank you Nordin.

      Ohio State is 50% on TDs in the red zone. That surprises me a bit. But there it is.

      Penn State … 10 trips to the red zone and 8 touchdowns. Yikes.

      Air Force … perfect 7 for 7. Air Force is #1 in scoring offense (and yards/game offense), which means that relatively low red zone number implies a “strike from further out” success rate. Air Force has only one game under their belt — VMI — so caveats apply.

      • Comments: 3181
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Sep 11, 2017 at 10:18 AM

        I believe this is something Michigan has been really good at historically under Harbaugh.

        • DonAZ
          Comments: 319
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          DonAZ
          Sep 11, 2017 at 10:30 AM

          I think Harbaugh’s first year Michigan was lethal on red zone conversions. This is just two games in, and these things do tend to level out (as will Speight’s completion rate). But two games in, the red zone rate has to be something Harbaugh is focusing on.

  9. Comments: 289
    Joined: 9/13/2015
    michymich
    Sep 11, 2017 at 5:49 PM

    They did have the 1 conversion in the FL game. I agree with LK that a good portion of the blame on the lack of red zone success has been on the OL. It does seem that UM is struggling to punch the ball in close to the end zone unlike last year with Hill. Maybe this is the fact that Kalis was good at straight ahead blocking.

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