We have officially entered the put up or shut up phase of Brady Hoke’s tenure. This season, which started with so much promise, ended Saturday with more questions than answers. We are left to pick up the pieces of another disappointing 4+ loss campaign, and while the team is largely young (how many times have we heard that the past 5 years???) an offensive line that has been destroyed much of the year, loses its best two players. A receiving corps loses two of its top three receivers. Like his play or not, you lose your top RB in terms of yards in Fitz Touissant.
While I’m not a “call sports radio and demand my coach be fired” kind of guy, I believe in excellence for my Alma mater. Both on and off the field. When Dave Brandon completed his “process”, he hired Brady Hoke, and paraded him in front of the world. Told us how he had the man that would lead Michigan for the foreseeable future. Brady stands up, talks about how he would have walked here, how Michigan is an elite job and an elite program. I mean, this is “Michigan, Fergodsakes.” And while he is right, that it is a program that has an elite history, this program is as far from being elite as any teams in the B1G not named OSU or MSU. But no season ticket holder will argue that they don’t pay like it’s an elite program. And pricing goes up most every year. Even though most fans won’t see an increase in their ticket pricing this year, the 60% or so of them who first got a PSL this year, will get the full rate in 2014 (double what this year’s was).
Now I love Brady Hoke, mind you. Most anyone would send their sons to play for him, merely because there are few who have the integrity that Brady does (which is becoming rarer in college football). But outside of the offensive line, few can argue that Rich Rodriguez left the cupboard far more full than when he found it, in spite of his obvious issues. Take away a 2011 season where seemingly everything fell Brady’s way, fans have been left holding the bag. A schedule where most all of their difficult games are on the road next year doesn’t bode too well. It’s time for the staff AND David Brandon to be held accountable. 8-4 and 7-5 are becoming the norm and not the exception. With annual schedules including the likes of UCONN, Akron and CMU on it, 9 wins should be the floor, not the ceiling most years. Michigan is in jeopardy of losing a generation of fans, which in terms of what’s important to the AD, a generation of future donors. Al Glick and Steve Ross won’t live forever, you know. It’s time to put up or shut up in 2014. And that starts today.
When Dave Brandon fired Rich Rod, he laid out his measures for evaluating coaches. One of those measures was the coach’s record in “red letter games.”
“If you want to be successful at Michigan, you better win more than your share of those ‘red-letter games.’”
Brandon identified the follow opponents as red letter games*:
|Any Bowl Opponents
*Nebraska wasn’t in the conference at the time he made his comments but I can guarantee they would have been included in the list of schools if they were.
Michigan has yet to play its bowl game but Brady Hoke’s 3 year record in "red letter games”, including Nebraska, stands at 7-11 (3-9 the over the last 2 seasons). Now that’s certainly better than the 3-15 record posted by Rodriguez but significantly below Brandon’s standard. As we sit at the end of year 3, the measures of success move from individual season analysis to multi-year, trend analysis.
Does that mean it’s time to fire Hoke? Not necessarily, and based on Brandon’s press release earlier in the week it does not sound like that’s going to happen anytime soon. What it does mean is that Brady Hoke, and by extension Michigan, is failing at one of the key trend measures in evaluating success.
While 7-3 though ten games is not what Michigan envisioned when the season started, how they got there has been equally as disappointing. They showed marginal improvement last week against an injury riddled Northwestern team, however this week in Iowa City will be a much stiffer challenge.
With the shot of playing for a B1G championship gone, a chance at 8 or 9 regular season wins is still on the table.
Iowa’s defense won’t be confused with MSU’s anytime soon, but their front is stout and with Michigan’s struggles along the interior of the offensive line, expecting to rush for near 4 yards a carry two weeks in a row is unlikely.
Devin Gardner, from the outside looking in, had a somewhat efficient game last week. But if Northwestern’s defense didn’t have lobster claws for arms they would have picked him off 5-6 times. I get that he’s running for his life nearly every play, but at some point throwing the ball out of bounds needs to cross his mind if his first or second target are covered.
Michigan will try to pound the ball, if for no other reason of Gardner’s preservation. Expect Iowa to use the blueprint of the previous three games and load the box and largely be successful. Michigan will make enough plays to stay in the game.
However both of Iowa’s lines will prove too much for Michigan to overcome, and Iowa will make just enough plays to win.
Iowa 23 Michigan 17
Following Big Ten football games on Nov. 16, the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week and freshman of the week in the Big Ten were announced this morning. Below are this week’s honorees:
Offensive Player of the Week
Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Sr., RB, Naples, Fla./Naples
• Rushed for a career-high 246 yards, the fourth-most in Ohio State history, and scored five total touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ road victory over Illinois, becoming the first Big Ten player since 2010 to score five times in a game
• Averaged 10.3 yards per carry and rushed for four touchdowns, including runs of one, eight, 51 and 55 yards
• Also had an 18-yard touchdown reception and totaled 272 all-purpose yards in the game
• Records the third Offensive Player of the Week award of his career and second this season
• Last Ohio State Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller (Oct. 28, 2013)
Defensive Player of the Week
Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Jr., LB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation
• Recorded a career-high 16 tackles that included 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the Buckeyes’ road win at Illinois
• Forced a fumble on a third-quarter sack, which led to an Illinois safety to give the Buckeyes a 37-21 advantage
• Leads the conference and ranks among the top 15 in the nation with 1.45 tackles per loss a contest
• Claims his fourth career Defensive Player of the Week honor and second this season
• Last Ohio State Defensive Player of the Week: Ryan Shazier (Sept. 16, 2013)
Special Teams Player of the Week
Brendan Gibbons, Michigan
Sr., K, West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman
• Was perfect on his kicking attempts in a road win against Northwestern, including a 44-yarder as time expired to force overtime
• Also converted on attempts from 25, 28 and 29 yards to match his career best of four field goals in a game
• Made two fourth-quarter field goals and added another in the second overtime
• Claims his second career Special Teams Player of the Week honor
• Last Michigan Special Teams Player of the Week: Brendan Gibbons (Oct. 22, 2012)
Freshman of the Week
Corey Clement, Wisconsin
RB, Glassboro, N.J./Glassboro
• Averaged nearly 10 yards per carry, finishing with 108 yards on 11 totes, and scored two touchdowns in Wisconsin’s win over Indiana
• Rushed for more than 100 yards for the third time this season and tied a career high with two scores
• Was one of three Badgers to rush for more than 100 yards in the game as they ran for 554 yards, which ranks eighth in Big Ten single-game history
• Wins his second Freshman of the Week award
• Last Wisconsin Freshman of the Week: Corey Clement (Sept. 9, 2013)
Anyone not still stinging from last week’s brutal beat down by the Spartans in East Lansing must have been on a coma this week. Every fear fans had, other than turning the ball over, was experienced time and time again. We’ve known for several weeks that Michigan had issues on the interior of its offensive line and we all hoped that they would gel. Well the doors got blown off t hat one last week.
All is not lost however, Wolverine faithful. Nobody will argue against the fact that MSU has one of the very best, elite defenses in the nation. And also the toughest one Michigan has faced or will face, the duration of the season. What better to come to town after getting your ass kicked? A team that this year is softer than Kleenex. Who is also missing their best offensive player in QB Taylor Martinez and others on both sides of the ball. Nobody confused them with a tough team when they weren’t banged up all over the place, but even more so now.
Now that hopes of a B1G Championship game appearance are doused and on life support at best, it’s time to get other players some snaps. Shane Morris, Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Ben Braden, Taco Charlton, and several others need reps. All are talented, and many have as good or more potential than those starting in front of them. Fitz Toussaint has done some very good things for U of M, but few will stand up to say they don’t want others to get some snaps. Nows is the time to see what you’ve got, both for the last 4+ games of the season, and beyond.
We will find out whether Michigan has the fortitude to bounce back, and I think they will. In fact in a big way.
Michigan 44, Nebraska 21
What to watch on offense
Bo Pelini is in his 7th year at Nebraska and the natives are growing restless. Despite bringing a level of stability to the Huskers, Pelini has lost at least 4 games in each of his 6 seasons at the helm. Off Coor. Tim Beck enters his 3rd year after serving as the RB coach at Nebraska the period 3 years. Thanks to the presence of Taylor Martinez, Nebraska has mainly employed pistol based spread attac k offensively. Injuries to Martinez have allowed the Huskers to experiment with pro-style schemes and plays that were previously unavailable.
Taylor Martinez has been the face of the Nebraska offense for going on 4 seasons. By virtue of sheer number of starts Martinez was already Nebraska’s career leader in passing yards heading into the season. Martinez has experienced an injury plagued season, missing 4 of the team’s 9 games so far. Redshirt freshmen Tommy Armstrong has done an admirable job filling in, going 4-0 as a starter but does have more interceptions than TDs.
Ameer Abdullah rushed for 1,100 yards a year ago and returns to lead a rushing attacked that is ranked in the top 15 in the country. The Huskers lost longtime stud Rex Burkhead but haven’t lost a beat with Abdullah and the powerful Imani Cross. At 6’1 225 cross brings an added power dimension to an offense that is built on moving the pile and between the tackle runs.
The Huskers return their top two receivers in Kenny Bell and Quincy Enuwa, both of whom are now upperclassmen. Bell led the team in receptions, yards, and TDs a year ago though Enunwa has emerged as the go to WR so far this season. Redshirt freshmen Jordan Westerkamp is average 13yds per reception this season, though he only has 14 catches on the year.
Nebraska has made its reputation based on the play of its offensive line and takes great pride in the unit. The Huskers lose LG Seung Hoon Choi and center Justin Jackson but return as many as 8 players with game experience. Tackle Jeremiah Sirles was 2nd time All-Big 10 a year ago and returns to lead a unit that is while plagued with injuries, has been very effective so far this season.
Best Offensive Player
Ameer Abdullah- Abdullah is the player that makes the Husker offense go. While not the biggest player at 5’9 190, Abdullah is adept at finding holes and has surprising inside running power to go along with his outside and break away speed. Abdullah has already gone over the 1,000yd mark and is on pace to finish with well over 1,500yds.
Read More → Nebraska Preview
Offensive Co-Players of the Week
Philip Nelson, Minnesota
So., QB, Mankato, Minn./West
• Combined for 309 total yards, threw four touchdown strikes and completed 70 percent of his passes in Minnesota’s 42-39 victory over Indiana
• Notched career highs in completions (16), yards (298) and touchdowns, becoming the first Gopher quarterback since 2009 to throw four touchdowns in a single game
• Connected with Maxx Williams on a 50-yard touchdown with just over three minutes to play for the eventual game-winning score after returning following an in-game injury
• Records the first Offensive Player of the Week award of his career after winning Freshman of the Week accolades on Oct. 29, 2012
• Last Minnesota Offensive Player of the Week: Adam Weber (Nov. 1, 2009)
Bill Belton, Penn State
Jr., RB, Sicklerville, N.J./Winslow Township
• Recorded a career-high 201 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in Penn State’s overtime win against Illinois
Read More → B1G Week Ten Players of the Week
What to watch on offense
Mark Dantonio is in his 7th year at Michigan State has finally brought something to Sparty that they haven’t had in a long time, consistency. After years of mediocre and losing seasons the Spartans have reached a bowl game in each of Dantonio’s 6 seasons. The Spartans added co-offensive coordinators but have maintained the same power running attack that Dantonio’s teams have been known for throughout the years.
After 2 seasons the Spartans are still searching for a QB to replace Kirk Cousins who posted a 28-12 record as a starter. Longtime heir apparent Andrew Maxwell gave way to Connor Cook shortly after the season started and has posted better than average numbers. The Spartan passing game is still a weak spot despite the presence of WRs Bennie Fowler, Aaron Burbridge, and Macgarrett Kings Jr.
After losing La’Veon Bell to the draft Sparty has turned to junior Jeremy Langford to carry the load at RB. Langford, who like many of the backs on the Spartan roster, didn’t see a ton of carries behind Bell has blossomed into playmaker at RB. At 6’0 206lbs, Langford is tough to tackle and has a great mix of speed and power.
The Spartan’s offensive line was decimated by injuries a year ago and while they lose their best linemen, they return the services of seniors Travis Jackson and Fou Fonoti. Returning 4 players with starting experience, though this is one of the smallest offensive lines the Spartans have had under Dantonio weight wise.
Best Offensive Player
Read More → Michigan State Preview
Big Ten Press Release:
Rosemont, Ill. – Michigan State has been chosen as the unanimous Big Ten favorite heading into the 2013-14 men’s basketball season as voted on by a panel of conference media. The media also tabbed Spartan sophomore Gary Harris as the Preseason Player of the Year. Michigan and Ohio State were selected to finish second and third, respectively.
Harris led a six-member preseason All-Big Ten team, as the media vote resulted in additional honorees due to a tie. He was joined on the team by the Wolverines’ Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, the Buckeyes’ Aaron Craft and Penn State’s Tim Frazier.
Michigan State, which is ranked No. 2 in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll, returns four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Sweet 16 and finished with a 27-9 record. Tom Izzo enters his 19th year at the helm. Harris and Payne were both named second-team All-Big Ten last season, as was senior guard Keith Appling. Harris also picked up Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades from both the coaches and media.
Michigan welcomes back three starters from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA Championship game. John Beilein enters his seventh season with the Wolverines. Robinson III was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection by the coaches last season, and also collected All-Big Ten honorable mention plaudits from the media. McGary became a regular starter during the NCAA Tournament, and averaged a double-double during the Wolverines’ run to the Final Four. Forward Jordan Morgan, a Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection last season, also returns for the Wolverines.
Ohio State returns four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Elite Eight. The Buckeyes, who also won the Big Ten Tournament last season, are led by tenth-year head coach Thad Matta. Craft was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media last season and was also a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team along with Shannon Scott, who also returns in the Buckeyes’ backcourt.
The complete 2013-14 preseason poll and All-Big Ten Team can be found below:
2013-14 BIG TEN PRESEASON RANKINGS
1. MICHIGAN STATE
3. Ohio State
2013-14 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN TEAM*
Mitch McGary, Michigan
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Tim Frazier, Penn State
2013-14 PRESEASON BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Gary Harris, Michigan State
Unanimous selections in ALL CAPS
*Additional honorees due to ties
The long wait is finally over, the bye week is done, the anticipation has built, and Michigan prepares to travel to East Lansing for another 60 minutes of unnecessary roughness. The toughest, hardest hitting, slugfest of the year. With Paul Bunyan finally home after earning his associates degree at MSU the previous four years, and a situation where Michigan can’t lose and expect to earn a berth in Indianapolis, all is riding on this one.
Predicting Michigan football is as about as easy as a couch escaping an East Lansing party without third degree burns. With youth, comes inconsistency. 10 guys do a great job on a play and one misses an assignment and the play fails.
The key to this game outside of the turnover battle is Michigan establishing the run with players other than Devin Gardner. Whether it’s the jet sweep with Dennis Norfleet, or between the tackles with Fitz Toussaint and Derrick Green, Michigan must establish some form of a running game.
MSU likes to load the box and leave their corners on islands. Lining Devin Funchess up outside or in the slot, and making him go up and get passes can make them drop their safeties back to prevent that ND further open an inconsistent run game.
Michigan’s defense is better than it has portrayed the past two games, and has a chance to assert itself against an equally puzzling offense. Slowing the run game, which will reduce the Spartan’s play action passing is another key.
In the end, I don’t see MSU scoring more than 20 points offensively, unless they’re set up with short fields by their defense. Can Michigan move the ball effectively and take their shots when given? Michigan will score just enough, and take care of the ball equally as well as MSU, and squeak out a win,
Michigan 21 MSU 20
Name: George Campbell
Position: Wide Receiver
Height & Weight: 6’ 4” 185lbs.
High School: East Lake Eagles
Read More → Profile for 2015 U of M Commit George Campbell
Highlights from last night’s 117-44 exhibition win over Concordia:
Glenn Robinson III led the way with 33 points while Nik Stauskas poured in 23. Caris LeVert had 10 assists, Derrick Walton & Spike Albrecht each had 4 apiece. Jon Horford had 12 rebounds and Jordan Morgan had 7.
Tweet from Concordia Assistant Head Coach Nick Sherwood:
Notes from Mark Dantonio Tuesday Press Conference (10/29)
Opening statement: “In this state you either grow up green or you grow up blue … Its a game we point to every year. Great rivalry game … They have a great football team, this game, the stakes get higher, has a meaning with bowl implications. Will be a great football game. A hard hitting game with a lot of emotion.”
On the toughness: “I’m going to worry about our football team. That game in 2011 was a tough game with a lot of emotion. Things spun out of control a little bit. We are going to play tough and within the rules and the refs have to control the game.”
On Devin Gardner: “I think that our feelings are that Devin Gardner can make a lot of plays in space and run though a lot of tackles. They do a lot of things that didn’t do with Denard. They run more of a power game now than prior to. A key component game will be controlling his running game and throwing to Gallon and Funchess.”
On Gardner vs. Robinson: “They are both excellent players, can’t refute what Denard Robinson was able to do in his career.”
Respect for Brady Hoke: “Just because you like someone in the family, doesn’t mean you like the entire family. I have great respect for Brady and his coaching abilities.”
On having Michigan in-state: “We’ve got great programs throughout he Midwest. We compete with Michigan every single day whether recruiting or for funding. I’ve never really thought about it like that. It is what it is. Based on my count, we’re up.”
On match-up problems Funchess creates: “A big body receiver down the field. A mismatch Tight end that can be moved around and they do. Has great hands with power. I think he’s a big part of their offense. Big time plays.”
On the four wins in a row making it a rivalry: “For it truly to a be rivalry. It can’t be one sided. When its more competitive, things take on a new meaning. Need to back up words.”
On Michigan paying for skywriting: “I did see that they had paid for it. What can you say. Why get me started. You guys know the drill.”
Anything positive from losing last year: “When you look at 2012, in all of the football games we played, they were so close. We just ran out of time. We took one on the chin vs. them and credit U of M for that. I was very proud of our team, but we came up short. I thought it was a great, tough, hard-nosed football game.”
Gold symbols on jerseys in practice: “An opportunity to look at different jerseys for next year. That was for Nike.”
On Connor Cook: “I think he is resilient. I have a lot of confidence in him. How high can he go. It will be exciting for him and he’ll have a lot of anxiety. After the first snap, you have to get down to playing the game.”
Does Michigan have an identity: “Winning. They find a way to win. Their defense flies around. They give up 90 yards a game running. A well coached team. They want to run power football. That’s toughness, they will go at you, they are right on. Football is a physical game. If you have two opponents putting on their best performances, physicality is involved.”
Max Preps released this video profile on Jabrill Peppers earlier this week: