Red Letter Games

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*:

Notre DameWisconsin
Michigan StatePenn State
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.Brady Hoke

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.

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Iowa Game Prediction

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

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Week 11 B1G Ten Picks

 Lance CallihanSean O’ConnellRyan CallihanMatt BrinkmanClint DerringerJon JenningsDrew MontagTodd MaleLuke D’MelloJoseph Boyd
Last Week5-35-35-35-34-46-27-15-35-35-3

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Final 2013 B1G Recruiting Rankings

Note: As usual we include Notre Dame in B1G Rankings as they recruit same area and are a common opponent.

1. Ohio

Biggest Get – Jalin Marshall (ATH-WR). MarshaJalin Marshallll is a special, explosive athlete who will thrive in Urban Meyer’s offense.

Biggest Miss – James Quick (WR). Quick is one of the most explosive receivers in the country and ended up choosing the hometown Louisville Cardinals over the Bucks.

Sleeper – Jayme Thompson (S). It’s hard to call a borderline 4 star kid a sleeper, but in a class full of highly rated DB’s Thompson is exactly that. While a bit raw, his athleticism makes his ceiling very high.

2. Michigan

Biggest Get – Shane Morris (QB). Any time you can get a five star talent at quarterback you are doing very well. Morris has the biggest arm in the country and was an exceptional recruiter for Michigan.

Biggest Miss – Laquon Treadwell (WR). During the summer it seemed as if Treadwell was a near certainty to commit to Michigan, but in the end he chose to go elsewhere. Treadwell would’ve filled a pretty big need.

Sleeper – Channing Stribling (CB). A virtual unknown, Stribling came to Michigan’s camp this summer and completely shut down the competition over a five day period and earned an offer.

3. Notre Dame

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Grading The Performance: Iowa


Devin Gardner continues to improve at an Devin Gardner - UMGoBlue.comamazing rate. The better Devin plays, the more Al Borges has opened up the playbook and there has been little drop off in play. Devin made several NFL caliber throws on Saturday that Michigan fans haven’t seen since 2007. Throwing the deep 15-20 yard out route between the corner and safety is one of the hardest throws in football and Devin passed the test with flying colors. Devin also threw 2 flag routes to Roy Roundtree that were as impressive and difficult a throw as you are going to see in this offense. Devin continues to showcase that he is at his best when throwing to the sideline and vertically down the field. Al Borges has wisely steered away from throws to the middle of the field which can be hit or miss for Devin. Devin still has moments when he throws into double coverage or doesn’t identify hanging defenders which gets him into trouble. Devin’s interception to Micah Hyde occurred on a play where he failed to identify the hanging defender and threw the ball into what appeared to be an open spot.

If they’re smart, Michigan will continue to recruit mobile and dual-threat QBs in the same mold as Devin Gardner. The ability of mobile and duel-threat QBs to make plays with their legs in addition to throwing the ball is too advantageous to pass up in this era of college football. Devin Gardner’s arm has opened up facets of the playbook that Michigan hasn’t been able to successfully access prior to now. Gardner’s legs will allow them to continue to use parts of the playbook that would otherwise disappear once Denard Robinson is gone. Devin “only” carried the ball 9 times but he was extremely efficient and successful on those runs, accounting for 3 TDs and 37 yds. Devin’s legs not only force defenses to play honest, but give Michigan the ability to continue to actively attack opposing defenses on designed runs.

Grade: A

Running Back

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