Michigan 32, Michigan State 23

Michigan 32, Michigan State 23


October 29, 2016
jabrill-peppers-545x

Jabrill Peppers (image via MLive)

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A win is a win. I know people are upset that the #2 team didn’t beat Michigan State by more, but anything can happen in a rivalry game like this. Michigan State probably isn’t as bad as their 2-6 record suggests, and Michigan hasn’t really proven that they can hang with the big boys like Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and the like. Michigan fans seemed overconfident this week when talking about this game, and I think that was partially wishful thinking. Ultimately, all we really needed out of this game was a win. It didn’t need to be a by a wide margin, and Michigan didn’t need to be pulling away. When the clock ran out, Michigan just needed to be up by a point. They needed to get over that hump and that mental roadblock stemming from recent years, especially last year’s debacle. Mission accomplished.

Hit the jump for more.





Michigan State gashed Michigan up front. The Spartans had suffered injuries up front, but this is the type of team that concerns me at all times. I think Michigan is well suited to stop zone teams or teams with small lines, because they have the quickness up front to shoot gaps and split those zone double-teams. But a power double-team is different, and MSU still has some guys on their offensive line who can help grind out some yardage. I think one of Wisconsin’s mistakes has been going to more of an inside zone scheme, but Michigan State has kept their principles of running power and counter, and they have recruited guys who can run it. They have also done a quality job of recruiting backs like L.J. Scott to carry the ball. Scott isn’t a wrecker or a blazer, but he has a good combination of skills and has the patience to wait for the holes to open. I think Michigan has been lacking that type of guy who has the power to run through tackles but also the burst to hit the hole when he sees it.

Referees schmeferees. I saw a lot of people complaining on Twitter about the referees, and yes, I thought they sucked. But they sucked both ways. There were some questionable pass interference penalties, but Jourdan Lewis deserved his and more. He’s grabby and arrives early with frequency. Michigan got away with a “rub” play last week when Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. picked off an Illinois defender to free up Jake Butt for a touchdown, and they got called for it this week. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mark Dantonio and Michigan State gave the referees a heads up about Michigan’s tactics, and good for them – they’re doing their jobs. I did think MSU got away with a couple holds, but I thought Michigan got away with a couple questionable hits on MSU players. Altogether, it was an inconsistently called game, but I don’t think it favored either team.

Where have you gone, Jehu Chesson? The demise of Jehu Chesson as a receiving threat has been an under-the-radar story line this year. Chesson was just an afterthought in this game with 2 catches for 29 yards and 1 carry for 2 yards. Last year he seemed like he was on his way to becoming a 2nd or 3rd round pick, in my opinion, and right now he looks like a third day option. He can’t seem to get open, and Wilton Speight rarely seems to look for him, anyway. Granted, Chesson missed a lot of time due to injury this spring and summer, and the Speight-to-Amara Darboh combination seems to have better chemistry (to the tune of 8 catches for 165 yards), but the lack of explosive plays for Chesson has been curious. Even tight end production seems less than ideal. I half expect teams to take away Darboh and see what the other guys can do, but so far this year, it seems like Speight is going to keep feeding Darboh, regardless.

Channing Stribling grumble Delano Hill grumble grumble. I’m not going to sit here and say Stribling and Hill are terrible, because they’re not. They’re solid components of a very good defense. But I will point to those two and say that if I’m a team preparing for Michigan, those are a couple guys I want to attempt to exploit. Stribling is extremely tentative when stopping the run, and his coaches have even mentioned that in the past. He did a crappy job of setting the edge against UCF on that 87-yarder, and he made a piss-poor attempt to tackle L.J. Scott on a 40-yarder in this game, along with a couple other weak plays. Hill, meanwhile, stupidly kept alive MSU’s second drive when the defense had stopped tight end Josiah Price on a third down conversion attempt. He kept grinding Price even after the whistle blew, and when Price pushed Hill – which Hill frankly deserved – Hill went ahead and gave Price a two-handed shove that he should have known would have been flagged. Sure enough, the flag went in favor of MSU. He also had a couple blown assignments and missed tackles. I’m a strong believer in “control what you can control,” so if you’re too small or too slow to get the job done, fine. But if you give poor effort or lose your cool, that bothers me.

Michigan seemed to run out of steam. Emotionally and coaching-wise, I thought Michigan seemed to run out of steam in the fourth quarter. They seemed to pull a bunch of tricks out of their sleeve early in the game when it came to motions, Pepperscat plays, and such, and then the team just kind of settled in to wait for the inevitable hang-on-for-dear-life ending. Maybe that’s my errant perception or maybe it’s just the hangover from seeing Michigan lose to Sparty for the better part of the last decade, but I wasn’t impressed with some of the tweaks and calls Michigan made late. The Wolverines need to do a better job of getting their speedy, athletic guys the ball in creative ways. Eddie McDoom, Jehu Chesson, Chris Evans, Jabrill Peppers, and others all have the ability to make people miss or break big plays. Michigan seems intent on running out tight ends and fullbacks, though, even when the other team can match up with Michigan’s physicality. I think this team has the speed to run out four legitimate receivers and spread the field both vertically and laterally, but we have yet to see much of that.

Malik McDowell is a beast. He only had 2 tackles (both for loss), but he was destroying people up front. I will be glad when he leaves.

I didn’t understand Mark Dantonio’s game strategy at the end. With :01 second remaining, Michigan State scored a touchdown to make the score 30-23. It’s almost impossible to win the game at that point because an onside kick cannot be advanced, so as soon as it touched someone’s hands, time would almost certainly run out. The only chance would be if Michigan fully recovered the ensuing onside kick, fumbled it, and then saw it returned for a score. But anything can happen (which we saw last year). Michigan State could have kicked the extra point to make it 30-24, which would have meant that a (however unlikely) touchdown would make it 30-30 with a chance for an extra point to win. Instead, though, MSU went for a two-point conversation, which would have made it 30-25 with a chance to score a touchdown on a fumbled return. That touchdown would have sealed the deal without the extra point, but an extra point is almost a given in college football. On that dumb two-point attempt, though, a speed option pitched ended up on the ground, and Jabrill Peppers returned it for two points to make it 32-23. It seemed like the only reason to go for two was to attempt to save face and make the game appear to be as close as possible.

Review of game predictions:

  • R.J. Shelton beats Channing Stribling for a touchdown: I was wrong. It was Monty Madaris who beat him deep for a score.
  • Michigan holds MSU to 85 yards rushing: MSU racked up 217 total yards on the ground.
  • Wilton Speight throws his third INT of the year: Yep. He threw an ill-advised wheel route to Karan Higdon that was intercepted by Darian Hicks.
  • De’Veon Smith scores 2 touchdowns: Check. He had 5- and 1-yard touchdown runs.
  • Michigan 31, Michigan State 14: Well, I went for a total of 45 points with a margin of victory of 17. The actual score, 32-23, was a total of 55 points with a margin of victory of 9. I was very close on Michigan’s score, but MSU kept putting up a fight until the end.

69 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1910
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 29, 2016 at 9:33 PM

    “It seemed like the only reason to go for two was to attempt to save face and make the game appear to be as close as possible”

    I think it was more of a “see you next year” message

    • Tartarsauce
      Comments: 77
      Joined: 1/22/2016
      Tartarsauce
      Oct 30, 2016 at 5:33 AM

      Bring it!!

    • GKblue
      Comments: 358
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      GKblue
      Oct 30, 2016 at 6:35 AM

      I don’t know JE. At the time I didn’t think Dantonio was practicing Sun Tzu, I think he was going to go down swinging.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:17 AM

      That’s too much credit to their coach IMO. He’s proven his pettiness many times.

      Thunder nailed this. Dantonio twice in this game tried to put points on the board at the expense of his team’s chances of winning the game, remote as they were.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 17
        Joined: 10/31/2016
        snarling
        Oct 31, 2016 at 2:29 PM

        Dantonio made a lot of dumb decisions in this game. He called a deep pass with 30 seconds left in the first half with his awful QB. He kicked a FG down 20 points in the fourth quarter. He played QB roulette, rotating O’Connor, Terry and Lewerke with no apparent rhyme or reason in the 4th quarter (Terry hadn’t even played in a game in weeks yet he got in before the guy who had started last week). And then the 2-pointer.

        The guy’s a good coach but let’s not assume there is some great logic behind his every move.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3658
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Oct 31, 2016 at 2:33 PM

          To be fair, Dantonio didn’t call the deep pass at the end of the 1st half. He made it very clear that it was his QB’s fault by calling him out during the halftime interview.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 17
            Joined: 10/31/2016
            snarling
            Oct 31, 2016 at 3:18 PM

            I forgot that. Which, by the way, was a real jerk move on his part. Brian Kelly-esque.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 5998
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 31, 2016 at 3:35 PM

          also I think Terry and Lewerke were knocked out of the game. So his hand was forced to some degree on the QB front.

          He didn’t have to put in Terry I guess, and he could have started Lewerke, but the substitutions that were made once you decide to start O’Conner weren’t entirely crazy.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 17
            Joined: 10/31/2016
            snarling
            Oct 31, 2016 at 6:29 PM

            Lewerke was injured. Terry just had the wind knocked out of him.

  2. crazyjoedavola
    Comments: 191
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    crazyjoedavola
    Oct 29, 2016 at 10:19 PM

    – As long as Dantonio is there, this will never be an easy game. All those 40 point win predictions are truly laughable and quite frankly disrespectful to a team that flat out physically dominated Michigan for a decade.
    – Morris package must be removed, our opponents know that he won’t throw the ball and that either a sweep, a pitch, or a qb run is coming
    – Iowa, Indiana, and OSU will be very tough games, I am also a bit concerned about the tempo with which Maryland plays because our defense is very susceptible to mobile qbs and tempo

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1353
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Oct 29, 2016 at 11:22 PM

      Yes, those who thought that we had a huge coaching advantage over State may want to rethink that. Dantonio has now coached the khakis off of Harbaugh twice.

      And sorry, but the whole “stats go out the window” and “anything can happen in rivalry games” excuses for poor play get really tiresome. If “anything can happen” we could just have easily won by 40, but we didn’t. And no one watching this game could have thought that what happened was a fluke. State gashed us over and over and over, and completely shut down our offense in the second half. State is not better than their record. You and a lot of other bloggers all made it very clear before this game that State is very bad at football. Harbaugh simply had his team very poorly prepared to play a Dantonio squad, and went hyper-conservative, almost losing the game. All of which was predicted by some of us. Michigan is simply not that good when playing against a well-coached opponent. At this point, beating OSU in Columbus is probably a pipe dream. We will do well to even get there without another loss.

      • crazyjoedavola
        Comments: 191
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        crazyjoedavola
        Oct 29, 2016 at 11:42 PM

        I actually think that MSU is a lot better than their record and that they are the 2nd most talented team on our schedule behind OSU. This has been a terrible year for them for a variety of reasons, but they always play their best football against Michigan. I was actually expecting a more stressful game, but Speight played a lot better than I though he would.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1910
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 29, 2016 at 11:43 PM

        Coached the khakis off? Dantonio lost by nine… at home. Starting the wrong QB and coming up empty after the INT because he ran into a wall four times in a row is not what his fans are lauding him for tonight

        Did we dominate? No. But this game, while closer than most expected, was out of MD’s reach before the end of the first half.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1353
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Oct 29, 2016 at 11:58 PM

          Out of reach? Did we watch the same game? State was in the red zone down 13 with 2 and a half minutes left and two time outs. If they score, they have a legitimate chance to get the ball back and win.

          And yes, Dantonio got his team within a touchdown of the #2 team in the country with a weak OLine, lousy quarterbacking and a porous defense. His team was better prepared, better motivated, and fought hard right until the end. Other than a brief burst where far superior talent put him ahead, Harbaugh did nothing, and ultra conservative and uninspired play had him in a position to lose to a really bad team.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 17
            Joined: 11/23/2015
            Burge333
            Oct 30, 2016 at 6:55 AM

            If MSU was better prepared why were they down 30-10 in the 4th quarter? In the third quarter Michigan held the ball for over 10 minutes and held MSU to less than 40 total yards, leading to a field goal for UM early in the 4th quarter. Seems a team that is better prepared, more physical team would not be losing 30-10. I rewatched the game… Although more dramatic than we would have liked, this was not a close football game. The first half was dominant as was the 3rd quarter… The 4th quarter was not what we hoped, but MSU never played a snap in the game with a chance to win or tie after the 4th quarter. We didn’t like the ending, but we played well for most of the game.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3658
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Oct 30, 2016 at 7:13 AM

              WindyCityBlue commented during the first drive that he was proven right and Dantonio was out-coaching Harbaugh. (Literally, he commented at something like 12:09 p.m., so 9 minutes after the broadcast started.) So I think there’s a fair amount of confirmation bias going on. He’s really in an I-told-you-so mood, just to give you fair warning.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5998
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Oct 30, 2016 at 10:59 AM

                First I LOL’d but now I just feel pity. I’m going to start agreeing with WCB’s eyeore-outlook just to be empathetic.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 1307
                Joined: 8/13/2015
                Roanman
                Oct 30, 2016 at 1:55 PM

                I would like people to consider the source of this comment and stop down voting Whinycity here. Whiny is clearly an unhappy little person who has the entirety of his libido wrapped up in Michigan football and as such is to be pitied and supported rather than down voted.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 5998
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Oct 30, 2016 at 2:49 PM

                  He’s an unhappy fan,but maybe he’s a big person with a full life. Maybe he’s Tom Brady and just likes to hate on the current state of football.

                  Regardless, civility is nice.

                • Avatar
                  Comments: 1307
                  Joined: 8/13/2015
                  Roanman
                  Oct 30, 2016 at 3:32 PM

                  I stand corrected ….. nahhhh, I got it right.

                  Were sports fans to demand the same level of perfection of themselves that they demand from their team of choice, the world would be a significantly better place.

                  In the meantime, trolling the trolls is a legit pastime.

            • Avatar
              Comments: 1353
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Oct 30, 2016 at 9:02 AM

              Um…they were behind because we have an enormous advantage in talent. But Dantonio ran effective plays all day long in spite of that, and got far more out of what he had to work with than Harbaugh did yesterday.

              And yes, State did have a legitimate chance to win that game in the fourth quarter as a result of our poor play. If you’re trying to deny that, you obviously didn’t watch the game.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 5998
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Oct 30, 2016 at 11:02 AM

                They could have – maybe – but didn’t. Because Dantonio tried to kick a FG when they were down 20 and went for 2 when they were down 7. Those are decisions that cost you a chance to win in order to make the margin look slightly better.

                That’s Dantonio pandering to the dummies that make up a large part of his program’s fanbase. I hope Harbaugh never does that kind of crap and his continued commentary about winning vs losing makes me doubt it. Plus most – though clearly not all – M fans are above this sort of “keeping up appearances” crap.

              • Avatar
                Comments: 1910
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Oct 30, 2016 at 11:33 AM

                So does that mean Hoke outcoached Meyer in 2013 and 2014? Ohio had the talent advantage, but UM kept it close… should we have kept Hoke WCB?

          • Avatar
            Comments: 1910
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Oct 30, 2016 at 11:27 AM

            “IF they score?!?” This is football… you went from “coaching his khakis off,” to “IF?”
            Dantonio got his team within a TD, but then immediately went back down two scores, and in embarrassing fashion
            That last part about figniting to the end? They lost… I don’t think sparty was playing for a moral victory, so trying hard doesn’t equate outcoaching. Nice try though

      • Tartarsauce
        Comments: 77
        Joined: 1/22/2016
        Tartarsauce
        Oct 30, 2016 at 5:42 AM

        LOL at Dantonio out-coaching the khakis off of Harbaugh. My goodness, you have got to be the biggest negative nancy this side of the universe.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1353
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Oct 30, 2016 at 9:07 AM

          Dantonio got far more out of what he had to work with yesterday than Harbaugh did. He made the game far closer than anybody’s stats analysis was predicting and he put a 2-5 team with poor quarterbacking, a weak Oline and a crappy defense in a position to beat the #2 team in the country. He made far better adjustments at halftime, and limited us to a field goal in the second half, while moving the ball consistently on offense against what had been one of the best defenses in the country. What did Harbaugh do except coast on superior talent?

          Feel free to dispute any of that.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5998
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 30, 2016 at 10:55 AM

            It wasn’t actually “far closer”. A bit closer, yes. They moved the ball consistently and that was a surprise. They also never had a real shot at winning when they failed to ever stop Michigan from scoring except on one Speight INT.*

            *and the times M was more concerned with taking time off the clock than scoring

            So yeah, credit Dantonio for keeping M’s second-stringers on the bench. An accomplishment Illinois and Rutgers and Hawaii couldn’t achieve. Those teams don’t have Scott, McDowell, and Nichalson though, do they.

          • Avatar
            Comments: 17
            Joined: 10/31/2016
            snarling
            Oct 31, 2016 at 2:39 PM

            Hmmm. “he put a 2-5 team with poor quarterbacking, a weak Oline and a crappy defense”

            So your argument is basically this: “Dantonio has done such an unbelievably bad coaching job in 2016 with a preseason top 10 team that losing by 9 points at home after getting two late vanity touchdowns actually seemed like progress.”

      • Tartarsauce
        Comments: 77
        Joined: 1/22/2016
        Tartarsauce
        Oct 30, 2016 at 5:47 AM

        Is it too late to cancel the season?

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3658
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Oct 30, 2016 at 7:05 AM

        “Anything can happen” means ANYTHING can happen. Just because we didn’t win by 40 doesn’t mean we couldn’t have. We controlled the second and third quarters, had a pretty easy TD drive in the first quarter, and seemed to try to coast to the victory once we were up by 20 late in the game.

        I did NOT say or imply that Michigan State is “very bad” at football. You must have me confused with someone else. And my 31-14 victory prediction was not far off of your 27-13 victory prediction.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 17
        Joined: 10/31/2016
        snarling
        Oct 31, 2016 at 2:32 PM

        If “coaching the khakis off Harbaugh” means trailing by 13-20 points all second half in his own stadium, just how badly would we have destroyed them if he hadn’t?

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:25 AM

      I think if M puts up a couple empty TDs to close the game instead of MSU, a different tune is being sung here. These scores came when the game was already decided.
      Harbaugh’s decision to play passively in the 4th quarter game was not getting outcoached by the inner 9-year old that runs Dantonio’s decision-making.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 10:29 AM

        And make no mistake they could have. Michigan ran on 8 of the 9 plays that preceded the 3 punt drives. The one first down they got on those 3 drives came when they passed on 1st down, ran speight on 2nd, and completed a 3rd down conversion through the air.

        Michigan could exploit MSU’s secondary almost whenever it wanted to. You can be assured that if they needed to score (rather than kill the clock) they would have.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 142
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    coachernie
    Oct 30, 2016 at 1:19 AM

    People need to look at the OSU – NW stat sheet which reads almost exactly as our did with MSU.
    NW racked up 21 first downs and 406 total yards.
    If anyone thinks we don’t a fighters chance to defeat the Buckeyes in Columbus you’re off your rocker.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1307
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Oct 30, 2016 at 5:49 AM

    This is the only game that truly matters to Sparty in any year. Anybody thinking that wounded Sparty wasn’t going to come out tough wasn’t thinking. This is an outstanding road win against a group that has had a lot of success.

    Last week the Buckeyes were reminded what it’s like going out on the road in a power 5 conference against a team that both doesn’t like you very much and has the talent to come after you. As much as Pensylvania and Ohio can’t stand each other when it comes to football, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to Sparty’s bitterness for us. Sparty could go 3-8 with a win yesterday and still feel good about this season. Football, more than any other game is about emotion. Sparty gave us the absolute best shot they are capable of. We just collected a helluva win.

    I liked Delano Hill’s game a lot better than Thunder does. He had 11 (I think) tackles, including some nice clean takedowns in space. I wasn’t crazy about his personal foul either, but Sparty has, to their credit, gotten into people’s heads around here some and late hits and shoves were the order of the day ….. as usual.

    Jeremy Clark would have come in handy yesterday.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1307
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Oct 30, 2016 at 5:54 AM

      I’ll take L.J. Scott over any back we have, and I like all of our backs this year.

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 514
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Oct 30, 2016 at 7:01 AM

      Always appreciate your take on things, Roanman … thanks for this.

      There is a hope in some — here and elsewhere — that Michigan was a soul-crushing destroyer of football teams … that every game was a foregone conclusion … effortless wins with stellar offensive and defensive performances. Michigan is not that team; but then again I’m not sure anyone outside Alabama is that team.

      Once again, I had to listen to the game rather than watch … Sirius radio did not carry the “away” broadcasters, so I had to listen to MSU’s broadcast team. I grew too antsy to sit and listen by the end of the first quarter, so I turned it off and clear more brush from the property here in West Virginia. So Michigan can thank me for doing so — it is a proven, undeniable, meta-physically certain fact that Michigan does better when I don’t watch or listen. 🙂

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:36 AM

      Agreed on both counts.

      Hill played a helluva game and was his usual reliable self when tackling in space.

      Scott’s an excellent all-around back. I knock Isaac for not being great at anything, but Scott’s a dramatically souped up version, producing without excelling in any one trait.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 1307
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Oct 30, 2016 at 5:56 AM

    Northwestern looked like a real good football team last night.

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 514
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Oct 30, 2016 at 7:03 AM

      My eye is also caught by Minnesota’s 6-2 record … cupcakes, or are they legitimately decent this year?

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3658
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Oct 30, 2016 at 7:10 AM

        I think they’re decent, but they’ve only beaten one team with a winning record – and that’s Maryland, who’s 5-2. Otherwise, their wins have been against Oregon State, Indiana State, Rutgers, and Colorado State. They’ve lost to PSU and Iowa. They’re not pushovers, but they’re nothing special, either.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 10:40 AM

        It seems like they’ve take a significant step back from last year’s squad, but they’re not bad. Very up and down. I think they’ve actually been more impressive in their losses (keeping it close against Iowa and PSU) than in their wins (narrow escapes against dregs like Oregon State, Rutgers, and Colorado State).

        • Avatar
          Comments: 1307
          Joined: 8/13/2015
          Roanman
          Oct 30, 2016 at 12:53 PM

          Jerry Kill is a helluva football coach. I would have been delighted for Harbaugh to have collected him as analyst of whatever Kill wanted to analyze for us.

  6. Avatar
    Comments: 115
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    PapaBear
    Oct 30, 2016 at 8:19 AM

    Thunder, This blog simply seems to have more, Mature people discussing the Wolverines. I come here daily for sanity and for that, I thank you!

    Maryland? Do I need to worry about this game? Decent team. Seems to be really good and not so god at times. Thoughts?

    • Klctlc
      Comments: 84
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Klctlc
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:28 AM

      Want to second PapaBear. I really like the debate on football here. Other sites have more variety and great writing too, but I always check this site for well thought out opinions on coaching, players and schemes.

      I was surprised how MSU almost negated our DL. I know there was holding late but really our DL look good but not great out their and they were gassed. I saw Mone early, but not late? Any injury?

      Also in first half I saw a couple of holds M got away with on big plays. It must be impossible to officiate these games. You could call a penalty on every play. MSU’s defense is based on grabbing (ours is now too)

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:47 AM

      The MSU OL vs UM DL was the one legitimate surprise from the game. The first series they got their butts kicked, but even afterwards you did not see the DL dominate like was expected. Charlton and Hurst were getting through consistently, but Wormley, Godin, and Glasgow did not play up to what we’ve come to expect from them. I wonder if this was MSU stepping up, scheme stuff, or an off game. Perhaps all of the above.

      This lasted into the 4th quarter too – when I thought Brown should have been blitzing a lot more against OConner and Lewerke to get pressure. The 4-man rush wasn’t getting it done. They went passive and it cost them some style points at the end.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1307
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Oct 30, 2016 at 1:01 PM

      I’m way worried about Maryland, I’ve thought that this game is an epic trap opportunity for them from the minute I went down the schedule ….. regardless of it being a home game. I am a little bit happy about us breaking down some in the fourth quarter against Sparty as it give the coaches something to chew ass over. I’m hoping everybody in that locker room is a little bit sore over letting Sparty have a little hope late, even though it was fools hope the way Dantonio chose to coach. I think we might have been presented with a “coaching opportunity” and avoided some complacency has we pounded Sparty or had to spend a lot of late energy slugging it out.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 1:14 PM

        Maryland is not very good, lost their best and most dangerous player to injury, and face Michigan at home. I’m not worried.

        Iowa on the road is much tougher IMO.

        Honestly, I’m not real sure it matters too much if Michigan comes into OSU clean or not. The winner of that game is going to rep the east and likely make the playoff.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3658
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 30, 2016 at 1:19 PM

      I haven’t watched much of Maryland this year, so it’s tough for me to say. I do think Michigan is the superior team and should win the game, all else being equal. But it’s tough to get up for every game every year. Michigan had a big, emotional win yesterday against Michigan State and has some tougher opponents coming up later in the year. Maryland and Indiana are both going to be tough tests – not because they’re great teams, but because they can bite you in the butt like UVA almost did to Louisville yesterday. I think you have reason to be concerned about whether Michigan will continue to take care of business.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 2:50 PM

        bite-you-on-the-butt games tend to happen on the road

  7. Lanknows
    Comments: 5998
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 30, 2016 at 10:13 AM

    Is this a game to get upset about? One where M did not punt until nearly mid-way through the 4th quarter holding to a 3 score lead against an offense that had been shut out of the endzone since the first drive of the game? One where the ESPN win probability never fell below 90% for M?

    That’s now how I see it. Disappointing that Michigan didn’t dominate or cover the 20+ point line – sure. We can nitpick and talk about the few issues bubbled up, but this was a game Michigan had in hand from the second quarter onward.

    The gripes in Thunder posts amount to quibbles:

    -Stribling was the 4th highest rated Michigan defender per PFF, 6th highest player on the team, and graded out just between 1st round NFL talents in McDowell and Lewis. He graded slightly above Lewis. Yes, he got beat once. Peppers and Lewis got beat too yesterday.Otherwise he was excellent. McDowell is a beast. Stribling is playing at this level. At this point it’s not a question of if Stribling is an NFL player it’s just how high he’ll get drafted.

    -Hill’s personal foul was dumb. No getting around that, but MSU failed to score on that drive so it ended up costing Michigan only field position. This is a game where you can’t get punked and you want your guys to push the limits. Hill went a little too far but lets not act like it’s a problem. We’re talking about a senior with a track record of smart and reliable play.

    -Speight’s INT was dumb. He didn’t see Hicks and that was a risky throw he shouldn’t have made. Guess what – it didn’t hurt Michigan because our D was up for a 7 play goal-line stand.

    -The first drive / LJ Scott drive. I have no explanation for this other than the D was reading too many headlines and feeling themselves a little too much. Our defense certainly settled down. Gashed? Beyond the first drive I think the idea we were gashed is only appropriate in the context of this being the #1 defense in the country. What MSU did was way less impressive than UCF.

    -The second half of the 4th quarter was annoying. Michigan wanted to get out of there and MSU was playing for pride. It was an un-Harbaugh moment. The coaching staff got too conservative and the players seemed to get complacent. This is a coaching point and something to improve on.

    In the grand scheme, probably a good experience for this team to learn it can’t celebrate or take the foot off the gas.

    -Michigan ain’t played nobody! “Michigan hasn’t really proven that they can hang with the big boys like Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and the like” Neither has everyone else! These big boys haven’t proven they can hang with those teams either. Clemson’s won 4 close games and only 2 of them were against top 25 caliber teams. Ohio State’s struggling to put away even teams like Northwestern. Even if the loss to PSU was a fluke, that they let a team Michigan completely dominated stay in the game with them is telling enough. If they crush MSU in a couple weeks it’ll be the first common opponent that OSU can claim superiority in. Colorado might be better than Oklahoma. What exactly is OSU doing to look like a ‘big boy’ that Michigan is not?

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 10:51 AM

      M’s final score may look the same but we should compare to the legitimate upset risks that Washington and Louisville faced in similar road situations. I can accept the argument that Utah is a much better team than MSU but UVa? Both UW and Loo-ville had to score last to win: UW on special teams, Loo-ville with barely any time left.

      Those guys escaped. Michigan flat out won.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 5998
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 30, 2016 at 1:07 PM

      re: “playing with the big boys”…

      Michigan has beaten the #10,12, and 15 teams (per S&P)
      OSU has beaten #10 (in OT), 11, and lost to 15.
      Bama has beaten #16, 17, and 19.
      Washington hasn’t played anyone in the top 20.

      Clemson’s the only team with a real impressive resume having being #3 and #14.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3658
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 30, 2016 at 1:26 PM

      I’m not disputing that Stribling will be in the NFL. I said if I’m an opposing coach, I’m looking to take advantage of him. Maybe PFF says he graded higher than Lewis, but Lewis is the better player, didn’t get beat for a touchdown, and stopped an MSU possession with a diving pick.

      Regarding “playing with the big boys,” those other teams have done so this year or in the recent past. Clemson made it to the national championship last year and is playing well, Alabama is #1, Ohio State won the national championship a couple years ago, etc. Michigan’s opportunities against the best teams over the past two seasons have not been stellar – a blowout loss to OSU, a close loss to a very good MSU team last year, etc. That being said, I’m not saying Michigan *has* played an elite team this year. I’m just saying that these players haven’t proven they can win those high-pressure, everyone’s-watching games.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 3:01 PM

        MSU made it to the playoff last year. Oregon, Notre Dame. Big boys aren’t the same every year.

        I agree Lewis is a better player but… eh, it’s not the slam-dunked it has appeared to be and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if Stribling went ahead of Lewis in the draft. To make a basketball analogy, many would have argued Nik Stauskas was a far better player than Glenn Robinson, and Trey Burke far better than Tim Hardaway, but their NBA performance indicates otherwise. So we’ll see.

        I think we can agree it’s a helluva lot closer than was anticipated. Lewis seems to me to be more reliant on refs letting him get away with contact. If Stribling was exploitable other teams would have done so by now. It’s not like this is anything new. Very rarely did other teams try to pick on the CB opposite Lewis last year. When they did it didn’t really work (except for one drive for Indiana last year where they threw it at Clark over and over until he got pulled.) And remember that MSU beat Michigan last year by running an offense based on trying to beat Jourdan Lewis and had good production while doing so. They felt that Lewis-Burbridge was their best matchup on offense. That’s a team with LJ Scott and bunch of NFL guys on it and they elected to target Lewis, not Stribling.

  8. Lanknows
    Comments: 5998
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 30, 2016 at 11:34 AM

    Positive takeaways from a Big Win (symbolically) in a Less-Impressive-Than-Anticipated manner

    -Speight and Darboh were excellent. Their chemistry is undeniable at this point, even if it comes at some expense to Butt and Chesson. There’s value to having a go-to guy you trust. MSU wasn’t exactly a tough test but they got the job done whenever called upon.

    -Higdon. I’ve been as vocal of Smith advocate as anyone this side of his family members but after Higdon’s game yesterday I will acknowledge that Smith’s losing some snaps here. Higdon looked decisive and quick and has to be considered the in-house leader to be the starting RB in 2017 if he can show to be a consistent pass-blocker (Smith did have a handful of excellent blitz pickups yesterday and graded out as 1 of Michigan’s 5 best players to PFF)

    -Run-blocking. Magnuson and Kalis continue to be proving the notion of senior-year leap true. Michigan ran for well under 3 ypc last year. This year 4.6.

    -Pass-coverage. Last year 328 yards at 8.4 per attempt. This year 184 on 6.6 ypc per attempt. Most of the production came with Michigan in protect coverage. 3 QBs, 1 INT.

    -MSU lost some talent, sure, but this is a huge difference and on the road at that.

    -We needed this. I don’t think anyone here thinks Michigan can walk into a game against Alabama or into Ohio Stadium and crush ’em. Illinois and Rutgers aren’t making Michigan a better team. They needed to get pushed around a bit. They needed to play on the road. They needed the secondary and the DL (the best units on the team) to feel overconfident. They needed a defense to jaw at the OL incessantly and try to test their manhood. They needed to build up Speights confidence. They needed the coaching staff to get a little humbled when it comes to the cute stuff.

    -This game was excellent prep for Iowa, which will be good prep for OSU. In the grand scheme of things it’s good that it wasn’t an entirely dominant performance, even if that’s what would have been most satisfying at the moment.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 22
      Joined: 11/15/2015
      brandywine
      Oct 30, 2016 at 4:00 PM

      Agreed. The only failure from yesterday’s win was the offense’s: not scoring more than 3 points on its first two drives of the second half, drives that dominated MSU’s D. Any other outcome – 6, 10 or 14 points – puts UM up 3 TDs and changes the complexion of the game. MSU’s O would have functionally given up or at best played more desperate, and M’s D wouldn’t have played so tight.

      OSU has done this many, many times under Meyer – put games away with touchdowns both going into half and coming out of them. That was the disappointment for me, not the D.

      Other tidbits:

      – Stribling may be an NFL talent but he had a rough, rough 4th quarter. Particularly in run support. There were many times he missed tackles and attacked blocks tentatively. If I am an opposing OC, I’m running to his side. Hill, while out of position a couples times, showed instincts and aggression in the run game. He played well.

      – LJ Scott is a physical freak. It boggles the mind that M hasn’t had a back with his build (long tree trunk legs and cutting ability) in years while Iowa, Wisconsin, OSU and MSU churn them out on the reg. Ringer, Bell, Baker, Holmes, Langford, Scott etc.

      – Finally, this game showed that M is not ready yet to ice a game on the backs of its OL and conventional running game. They tried yesterday, but failed to do so. We continue to have to “manufacture” our run game

  9. Lanknows
    Comments: 5998
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 30, 2016 at 11:42 AM

    The Morris package.

    This needs to stay. It didn’t work yesterday but, at worst, it makes teams prepare for it. They played off the tendancy for the first time (running something other than the sweep) in a 3rd down situation where it could have paid off significantly. It didn’t because MSU happened to put McDowell at DT that play and he tossed Cole aside and destroyed the play single-handledy.

    Tip your cap.

    They should run the Morris package every week like they’ve been doing. If/when it means a clean look for Chesson 1 on 1 with an OSU DB without safety help, it’s going to be well worth it. It’s an extra blocker on running play (without risking any injury to Speight).

    The part of the playbook that needs to go IMO is the Speight zone/read. I know you don’t have to be fast to make it an effective play but calling Speight “not fast” is putting it kindly.

    Michigan does not have an explosive dynamic offense that can keep up with the fireworks that some of the Pac12 and ACC schools can. They need to find every edge they can to keep the ball moving forward. The Morris stuff is a useful addition, and doesn’t really take away from the base offense prep (since the only real variation is that Morris blocks).

    • GKblue
      Comments: 358
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      GKblue
      Oct 30, 2016 at 12:06 PM

      (since the only real variation is that Morris blocks).

      Except of course for when he surprises the whole house and completes a pass off this.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 1:00 PM

        Yeah – that’s the payoff. My point is that from a preparation standpoint, nothing else is different for the other 10 starters, so it’s not detracting from M’s preparation – while it is taking up prep time from the opposition.

        There were calls above to discontinue the package. I disagree with those.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 142
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          coachernie
          Oct 30, 2016 at 1:52 PM

          I don’t know about the Morris package, I trust the coaching staff to make that decision.
          What Im waiting for and I believe we all are waiting for is Peppers throwing the ball out of the wildcat package. Could be that is being saved for the crap shoe pit in Columbus?!

          • GKblue
            Comments: 358
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            GKblue
            Oct 30, 2016 at 2:13 PM

            Generally Morris runs to his left and Peppers to his right out of the wildcal, both in the direction of their throwing hand. So, if nothing else opposing DCs have to prepare for it. I think we will see them both throw eventually.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 5998
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Oct 30, 2016 at 3:14 PM

            I doubt it. Putting it on film before OSU would be preferable. That’ll keep DBs honest without exposing M to a debilitating INT. No interest in revisiting the Vincent Smith interception.

            The pep-cat package (please don’t call it Pepper-Scat that sounds disgusting) has been at it’s best in the red-zone. For a pass play to really pay off it’d have to be a long gainer.

            I feel a lot better with Morris heaving a throw downfield than Peppers.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3658
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Oct 30, 2016 at 4:49 PM

            I’m generally not a fan of anyone throwing the ball except people who are trained to throw the ball, at least in big games against tough opponents. I would have preferred to have seen Peppers throw the ball against UCF, Rutgers, etc. to make future opponents respect that possibility. I don’t really want Malik Hooker (OSU), Desmond King (Iowa), etc. having chances to intercept an amateur thrower in Peppers.

  10. Big_H
    Comments: 6
    Joined: 8/18/2015
    Big_H
    Oct 30, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    So is the “awards” posts no longer a thing? I never seen the Illinois awards post and I was wondering if there would be one for this game.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3658
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 30, 2016 at 1:31 PM

      It’s still a thing. Last week was just too hectic. Trust me when I say that I don’t think anyone in the Michigan blogosphere busts his butt to post content more than I do. On top of my day job, I coach football six days a week. If a regular feature doesn’t get posted, it’s almost certainly due to circumstances beyond my control. Last week involved a trip to the emergency room and two separate doctor visits on top of my daily duties, so the awards post was a casualty. The awards should return this week unless something unexpected happens.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5998
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Oct 30, 2016 at 3:16 PM

        Let’s see more of: Awards posts

        Let’s see less of: ER visits

        I’m confident in speaking for others that we appreciate the effort.

      • Big_H
        Comments: 6
        Joined: 8/18/2015
        Big_H
        Oct 31, 2016 at 12:26 PM

        That is no problem with me! Hopefully, everything went okay and you’re doing well. I didn’t mean to come off as “where the F*** is my content” type of follower. It’s truly just that I like your take on Michigan Football more than most. Your posts help me keep level headed expectation, etc.

        Thanks for all the work!

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