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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Ash’

Michigan 35 – Rutgers 14: Peters takes over, steady in win over Rutgers

Monday, October 30th, 2017


(Isaiah Hole)

After suffering its second defeat in three games last weekend, Michigan got the benefit of a Homecoming matchup with Rutgers on Saturday to ease back into the win column. And they did just what they had to do with a 35-14 victory.

Final Stats
Michigan  Rutgers
Score 35 14
Record 6-2 (3-2) 3-5 (2-3)
Total Yards 471 195
Net Rushing Yards 334 94
Net Passing Yards 137 101
First Downs 25 9
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 3-25 3-20
Punts-Yards 3-125 8-352
Time of Possession 36:44 23:16
Third Down Conversions 3-of-9 3-of-11
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 5-25 0-0
Field Goals 0-for-1 0-for-0
PATs 5-for-5 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-5 1-of-1
Red Zone TDs-Chances 4-of-5 1-of-1
Full Box Score

Despite a 21-point margin of victory, it didn’t start out easy, however. John O’Korn started and led the first four possessions, which resulted in two punts, a touchdown, and an interception, before giving way to redshirt freshman Brandon Peters, who made his long-awaited debut. And he did it in style, leading three straight touchdown drives to turn a 7-7 second-quarter score into a 28-7 third-quarter lead. And just like that, the Peters era had begun.

On his first drive, Peters completed passes of 15 yards to Ty Wheatley, 10 yards to Henry Poggi, and 12 yards to Nico Collins as Michigan went 77 yards on eight plays. Karan Higdon ran it in from 10 yards out.

After the Michigan defense forced a three-and-out, Peters got the ball back and completed a 12-yard pass to Zach Gentry on 3rd-and-3. Four plays later, he connected with Chris Evans on a wheel route for a 20-yard touchdown.

On his third drive — Michigan’s first possession of the second half — Peters needed just one pass attempt, a 10-yard completion to Ty Isaac, as the Wolverines marched down the field for a 4-play, 54-yard touchdown drive. Fellow redshirt freshman Kareem Walker scored his first touchdown of the season, carrying it in from five yards out.

Rutgers answered with a touchdown on its ensuing possession to pull within 28-14, but that was as close as they would get.

Peters led another promising drive, completing a pair of 15-yard passes to Grant Perry and Sean McKeon, but Michigan had to settle for a field goal attempt. Quinn Nordin missed it from 35 yards out.

The Michigan defense forced another punt, and Higdon followed up a 12-yard run with a 49-yard touchdown run to put Michigan ahead at the final score of 35-14.

Michigan’s offense racked up 471 total yards, 334 of which came on the ground on 6.5 yards per carry. Peters completed 10 of 14 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown, while O’Korn went 3-of-6 for 13 yards and an interception. Higdon rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns, while Isaac also topped 100 with 109 yards. The two averaged 8.8 and 7.8 yards per carry, respectively. Ten different Wolverines caught a pass, led by McKeon’s three for 31 yards.

Defensively, Michigan held Rutgers to just 195 total yards and just 94 rushing yards. Rutgers entered the game 11th nationally with just six sacks allowed through seven games, but Michigan got to the quarterback five times. Devin Bush led the way defensively with 11 tackles, two for loss, and half a sack. Chase Winovich recorded 1.5 sacks, while Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary each had one and Kwity Paye and Michael Dwumfour were each credited with a half.

Michigan stays home to host Minnesota next Saturday at 7:30pm. The Gophers are 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck.

Game Ball – Offense

Brandon Peters (10-of-14 for 124 yards and 1 touchdown)
Yes, it’s a stretch to give the game ball to a quarterback that completed just 10 passes for 124 yards, especially considering the game Higdon had with 158 yards rushing and two touchdowns. But Peters is easily the story of the game, taking over an offense that looked stagnant under O’Korn and making an immediate impact. I’m cautious to draw too many conclusions from his performance in one game — against Rutgers nonetheless — but it was a great first step and showed enough to earn his first start next Saturday. Was he perfect? No. The play before his touchdown pass, he should have been picked off. He also underthrew a wide open McKeon on the last possession of the day, a play that may have been another touchdown. But he took command of the offense, looked to be in control, made some nice plays, made the right reads, and didn’t make any costly mistakes.

Previous:
Week 1 – Quinn Nordin (4-of-6 field goals, 2-of-3 from 50-plus)
Week 2 — Ty Isaac (20 carries for 133 yards, 6.7 yards per carry)
Week 3 — Donovan Peoples-Jones (2 receptions for 52 yards, 2 punt returns for 104 yards and 1 touchdown)
Week 4 — John O’Korn (18-of-26 for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 5 rushes for 12 yards)
Week 5 — Karan Higdon (12 carries for 65 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 2 receptions for 33 yards)
Week 6 — Karan Higdon (25 carries for 200 yards, 3 touchdowns, 8.0 yards per carry)
Week 7 — None

Game Ball – Defense

Maurice Hurst (8 tackles — 2 solo — 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack)
This was a tough one to pick this week because a bunch of different players made big plays for the Michigan defense. Although Devin Bush led the team in tackles, when I think about who made the biggest impact on the game, I have to go with Hurst. He was constantly in the Rutgers backfield, recorded eight tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack. Throughout the season he has cemented himself as a high draft pick next April and that was no different on Saturday.

Previous:
Week 1 – Devin Bush (7 tackles, 5 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Week 2 – Tyree Kinnel (9 tackles, 8 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception return for touchdown)
Week 3 – Chase Winovich (9 tackles – 3 solo – 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry)
Week 4 — Chase Winovich (6 tackles — all solo — 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks
Week 5 — Maurice Hurst (8 tackles — 6 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss)
Week 6 — Rashan Gary (7 tackles — 3 solo — 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 quarterback hurries)
Week 7 — Khaleke Hudson (4 tackles — 4 solo — 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hurry, 1 pass breakup)

Michigan vs Rutgers game preview

Saturday, October 28th, 2017


(Isaiah Hole)

Michigan suffered its second loss in three games last week, a humiliating 42-13 beatdown in Happy Valley, drawing a chorus of calls for staff shakeups including Jim Harbaugh. It’s clear that the Harbaugh honeymoon is over, but with the youngest Power-5 team in college football, losses to rival Michigan State and on the road at Penn State aren’t the worst things that could happen. What would be is a Homecoming loss to Rutgers this Saturday.

Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 12p.m. EST – BTN
Rutgers Head Coach: Chris Ash (2nd season)
Coaching Record: 5-14 (all at Rutgers)
Offensive Coordinator: Jerry Kill (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Niemann (2nd season)
Last Season: 2-10 (0-9 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 78 – RU 0 (2016)
All-Time Series: Michigan 2-1
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 1-0
Jim Harbaugh vs Rutgers 2-0
Last Michigan win: 2016 (78-0)
Last Rutgers win: 2014 (26-24)
Current Streak: Michigan 2
Michigan on Homecoming: 90-28-2
Rutgers schedule to date
Opponent Result
#8 Washington L 14-30
Eastern Michigan L 13-16
Morgan State W 65-0
at Nebraska L 17-27
#11 Ohio State L 0-56
at Illinois W 35-24
Purdue W 14-12

A year ago, Michigan strolled into Piscataway, N.J. and set all kinds of records including the largest Big Ten margin of victory for any team since 1940 and the most rushing touchdowns in a game in Michigan program history. Fullback Khalid Hill scored three touchdowns and third-string fullback Bobby Henderson even found the end zone. It was an utter beatdown.

Like Michigan’s big win over Penn State last season, Rutgers will enter this matchup looking for revenge. And the Scarlet Knights aren’t nearly as bad as they were in 2016 when they went just 2-10 overall and 0-9 in the conference. For starters, they’ve already topped last year’s win total and have won back to back Big Ten games for the first time since joining the conference. Their win over Illinois two weeks ago ended a 16-game conference losing streak and they followed it up with a 14-12 win over Purdue last Saturday.

Now, before we get carried away with Rutgers accolades, let’s keep in mind that their three wins so far this season are over Illinois (2-5, 0-4), Purdue (3-4, 1-3), and Morgan State, an FCS school that is currently 1-6 and has only scored 93 total points in seven games.

Rutgers lost 16-13 to Eastern Michigan, 27-17 to a Nebraska team that is just 3-4 this season, 30-14 to a good Washington team to open the season, and got whooped by Ohio State, 59-0. So essentially, Rutgers is pretty much where they’re expected to be at this point, except for that loss to EMU.

With two potentially winnable games remaining on the schedule (home against Maryland on Nov. 4 and at Indiana on Nov. 18), Rutgers needs to squeeze out one more win to become bowl eligible. With Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State left on the docket, given Michigan’s recent struggles, they probably feel that Michigan is their best chance, 2016 be damned.

Could that happen? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

Rutgers offense

Ash lost last season’s offensive coordinator, Drew Mehringer, to Tom Herman’s staff at Texas, so he went out and paid big money to get former Northern Illinois and Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill to run his offense. Kill went 29-29 at Minnesota from 2011-15 before retiring due to health problems. He wound up at Kansas State as an associate athletic director last season before Ash pulled him back into the coaching ranks.

Through the first seven games of 2017, his offense ranks 103rd nationally and 13th in the Big Ten in scoring (22.6 points per game), 62nd and 8th in rushing (167.7 yards per game), 121st and last in passing (133.6 yards per game), and 122nd and last in total offense (301.3 yards per game).

Fifth-year senior quarterback Kyle Bolin transferred to Rutgers from Louisville, where he lost his starting job to Lamar Jackson in 2015. But he struggled in the first four-plus games, ranking 114th nationally in passer rating with just three touchdowns and six interceptions, so he once again lost his job, this time to redshirt junior Giovanni Rescigno, who promptly led the Scarlet Knights to back to back wins. But did he really? Sure, they won, but he completed just 14-of-28 passes (50 percent) for 176 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the best part about that two-game stat line is the lack of interceptions.

Like Michigan, Rutgers doesn’t have an established receiving threat. They have a bunch of guys who can occasionally catch the ball, but no go-to weapon. Junior tight end Jerome Washington leads the team with 19 receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown, but after catching six passes in the season opener, he has just four combined in his last three games. Fifth-year senior Jenarion Grant is explosive — he was second-team All-Big Ten as a return specialist in 2015 — but suffered a season-ending injury after four games a year ago. Against Eastern Michigan in Week 2 this season, he caught eight passes for 91 yards, but missed the Nebraska and Ohio State games and had just one catch for five yards last week. Fifth-year senior Damon Mitchell — the brother of former Michigan, and injured Rutgers, receiver Ahmir Mitchell — is the only other pass catcher with at least 100 yards this season. He has nine catches for 122 yards.

The bright spot of the Rutgers offense is fifth-year senior running back Gus Edwards, who ranks ninth in the Big Ten with 69.6 rushing yards per game and tied for fourth with five rushing touchdowns. He hasn’t posted a 100-yard rushing game this season, but has been consistent with between 43 and 94 yards in each game. Last week was his best game with 14 carries for 94 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown against Purdue. In fact, on the two-game winning streak he’s averaging 92.5 yards on 5.3 yards per carry and has scored three touchdowns. Senior Robert Martin, the team’s leading rusher last season, has 278 yards and two scores on 4.7 yards per carry, but his production has slowly tailed off throughout the season as Edwards’ has increased.

Rutgers defense

Yes, Rutgers has a defense and it’s better than it was last year. I apologize that I ran out of time to complete this week’s recap.

Prediction

Michigan wins but doesn’t win nearly as bad as it did last year. Michigan’s defense will load the box to stuff the run, forcing Rescigno to beat them with his arm. Rutgers has allowed just six sacks this year and Michigan’s defense will challenge that. Offensively, Michigan will run early and often, but I expect Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno, and Pep Hamilton to try to get the passing game going. Rutgers’ defense gives up 224.9 passing yards per game, so it’s a great opportunity to find some cohesion between John O’Korn and his receivers.

Score Prediction: Michigan 41 – Rutgers 6

First Look: Our bitter rival, Rutgers

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017


Michigan had a tough task going into Happy Valley to face No. 2 Penn State in front of a whiteout and a national primetime audience. But they were thoroughly embarrassed by a score of 42-13, tying for the worst loss in the Jim Harbaugh era.

Now, the Wolverines get a chance to take out their frustrations on a team they beat 78-0 a year ago. Since Saturday, national pundits and rival fans have enjoyed throwing around the stat that Michigan is currently tied with Rutgers for fourth place in the Big Ten East. The Scarlet Knights have won two straight Big Ten games, ending a 16-game conference losing streak dating back to the first Big Ten game of 2015. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare so far this season.

Rutgers & Michigan team stats comparison
Offense Defense
Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank Average Rank
22.6 103rd 25.1 89th PPG 23.6 51st 18.6 22nd
1,174 1,213 Rush Yds 1,115 739
167.7 62nd 173.3 55th Rush/Gm 159.3 61st 105.6 11th
4.3 4.1 Rush Avg 4.5 3.2
935 1,314 Pass Yds 1,574 1,110
133.6 121st 187.7 97th Pass/Gm 224.9 71st 158.6 5th
2,109 2,527 Total Off. 2,689 1,849
301.3 122nd 361.0 97th Total Off./Gm 384.1 62nd 264.1 5th
14.8 127th 19.9 90th KR Avg 16.8 11th 14.0 2nd
10.4 32nd 8.1 56th PR Avg 9.4 91st 8.3 79th
31:11 42nd 33:10 11th Avg TOP 28:49 26:50
35% 98th 32% 110th 3rd Down% 30% 22nd 23% 1st
6-49 11th 23-151 118th Sacks-Yds 7-36 122nd 22-156 12th
21 19 TDs 19 16
4-6 (67%) 14-16 (88%) FG-ATT 11-13 (85%) 6-10 (60%)
19-23 (83%) 72nd 19-20 (95%) 8th Red Zone 21-22 (95%) 125th 14-17 (82%) 65th
15-23 (65%) 8-20 (40%)  RZ TD 12-22 (55%) 11-17 (65%)
1.52 122 1.82 103 OFEI/DFEI 1.88 60 0.96 6
20.7 117 26.2 85 S&P+ 22.8 33 17.5 14

Rutgers still isn’t anywhere close to competing for the Big Ten East, but in Year 2 of the Chris Ash era they are ahead of where they were last season. The offense is one of the worst in college football — yes, even worse than Michigan’s — but the defense is halfway decent.

Rutgers ranks approximately midway nationally in nearly every defensive statistic. Their 51st in scoring defense (23.6 points per game), 62nd in rush defense (159.3 yards per game), 71st in pass defense (224.9 yards per game), and 62nd in total defense (384.1 yards per game). They’re 60th in DFEI, which measures defensive efficiency adjusted for strength of opponents faced. But they’re all the way up to 33rd nationally in defensive S&P+, which measures play-by-play data of five factors: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives, and turnovers. By comparison, Michigan’s defense ranks 14th in S&P+, so not much ahead of Rutgers.

Does that mean Rutgers’ defense is in the same league as Michigan’s? Absolutely not. But they are better than their stats indicate. They held Purdue to 12 points in a 14-12 win this past Saturday — the same Purdue team that Michigan let score 10 points — and it took Purdue until 25 seconds remaining to score their first touchdown of the game (they failed the two-point conversion attempt to tie the game). They held Washington to 30 points — their second-lowest output this season — and Eastern Michigan to 13 points — their lowest of the season.

But before we get carried away praising a Rutgers defense, let’s also consider that they haven’t faced the toughest schedule to date (as noted by the DFEI ranking). Yes, they hung with Washington into the third quarter, but that was the first game of the season which can always be unpredictable. The only other S&P top-50 teams they’ve faced are Purdue (48th) and Ohio State (1st). And the Buckeyes soundly beat the Scarlet Knights 56-0, nearly matching their 58-0 score from 2016. Ohio State piled up 628 total yards, averaging 6.2 yards per play. Illinois passed for 308 yards two weeks ago and Purdue, despite scoring just 12 points, piled up 474 total yards, so in the last three weeks Rutgers is allowing an average of 499 yards per game. If ever there’s a week for Michigan’s offense to taste some success it’s this one. On the other hand, if the offense struggles, it will truly be time to worry.

On the other side of the ball, Rutgers ranks 103rd nationally in scoring (22.6 points per game), 62nd in rushing (167.7 yards per game), 121st in passing (133.6 yards per game), and 122nd in total offense (301.3 yards per game). Yes, only seven teams nationally rank worse in total offense than Rutgers.

Interestingly, Rutgers actually averages more rushing yards per game than Penn State did entering the Michigan game last week. But much of that is inflated by a 326-yards performance against Morgan State, which ranks 74th nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in rush defense. Against FBS competition, Rutgers is averaging just 141.3 rushing yards per game, which would rank 89th. Except for a 274-yard rushing game against Illinois’ 107th-ranked rush defense, Rutgers hasn’t topped 131 yards on the ground. They managed just 68 yards on 2.4 yards per carry against Nebraska and 2.9 yards per carry against Ohio State.

The passing game is even worse. Rutgers hasn’t reached 200 passing yards in a game this season and has been held below 100 twice. In the last three weeks, they’ve averaged just 93.7 passing yards per game while completing just 45.6 percent. By comparison, Michigan’s passing offense the last three weeks is averaging 140.7 passing yards per game and 50.6 percent completions. That’s how bad Rutgers’ passing game has been.

If there’s one bright spot for the Rutgers offense it is the fact that they’ve allowed just six sacks through seven games, a figure that ranks 11th nationally. That’s 17 fewer sacks than Michigan’s offensive line has allowed.

As you can see, Rutgers is slightly improved over last year and has a decent defense and an offense even worse than Michigan’s. Given all that has transpired this season I wouldn’t expect a repeat of last year’s result, but anything but an easy Michigan win this Saturday should definitely be cause for real, legitimate concern.

#4 Michigan 78 – Rutgers 0: Michigan decimates Secret Society of Something University

Monday, October 10th, 2016


henderson-ways-vs-rutgers(MGoBlue.com)

Bobby Henderson took a quick handoff, bulled his way up the middle and crossed the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown. On that run, Michigan’s nth-string fullback who hadn’t had a single carry in his first four seasons at Michigan, outscored Rutgers 7-0. His three fourth-quarter carries for 26 yards finished just eight yards short of Rutgers’ entire running game on Saturday night. It was that kind of night in Piscataway as Michigan demolished Rutgers 78-0.

Rutgers hung around longer than expected, taking advantage of rainy conditions early in the game, holding Michigan to just five yards on eight plays in its first three possessions of the game. The Rutgers offense, however, fared even worse, gaining just three yards on nine plays in its first three possessions.

um-rutgers_small-final
Final Stats
Michigan Rutgers
Score 78 0
Record 6-0, 3-0 2-4, 0-3
Total Yards 600 39
Net Rushing Yards 481 34
Net Passing Yards 119 5
First Downs 23 2
Turnovers 1 1
Penalties-Yards 3-25 7-41
Punts-Yards 4-169 16-603
Time of Possession 33:16 26:44
Third Down Conversions 6-of-11 0-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 4-28 0-0
Field Goals 0-for-0 0-for-0
PATs 10-for-10 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 8-of-8 0-of-0
Red Zone Scores-TDs 8-of-8 0-of-0
Full Box Score

Then Jabrill Peppers took over. On the third play of Michigan’s fourth possession, Peppers lined up at quarterback, faked a handoff, and took off down the left sideline. Rutgers safety Anthony Cioffi pushed him out of bounds at the four after a 63-yard gain. Ty Isaac punched it in on the next play and Michigan never looked back.

The Wolverines rushed for 481 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per carry with 11 different players getting at least one carry. Two — Chris Evans and Karan Higdon — eclipsed 100 yards and Isaac and Peppers came close to joining them.

Michigan racked up 600 total yards and the only reason it wasn’t more was because of the job the defense did in holding Rutgers to just 39. Michigan’s average starting position for the entire game was its own 41 yard line. The Wolverines started four drives in Rutgers territory.

When Michigan came out of the locker room to start the second half already up 43-0, the starters’ night was over. The Michigan bench in the second half out-gained Rutgers’ full-game offense 286 to 39 and had four individual drives that went for more yards than Rutgers’ entire game.

Defensively, Michigan was just as brilliant. It took Rutgers into the third quarter to get above water in total yards. The Scarlet Knights rushed for 35 yards — 25 of which came on their final two drives — and completed just 2-of-18 passes for five yards. They converted none of their 17 third downs and punted 16 times for 603 yards.

It was a thorough a beatdown as a game between two Division 1 college football programs could be. After Michigan’s fourth touchdown, point-after holder Garrett Moores picked up the hold and ran it into the end zone for a two-point conversion. Whether Jim Harbaugh planned it to send a message to Chris Ash for challenging his summer satellite camp or whether he put it in simply to make future opponents spend time preparing for it is anyone’s guess. But with a bye week looming, Michigan’s performance on Saturday sent a message to the rest of the Big Ten that it is for real and it doesn’t care who is in its way.

Game Ball – Offense

Khalid Hill (2 carries for 2 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 receptions for 19 yards, 1 touchdown)
The entire Michigan offense could be nominated this week — aside for maybe De’Veon Smith who fumbled on Michigan’s third possession — but since I have to pick one, I’ll go with Khalid Hill. The senior H-back had one of the most efficient stat lines you will ever see. Hill is Harbaugh’s favorite goal line back and got the ball at the 1-yard line twice in the first half on Saturday, powering his way into the end zone both times. On Michigan’s first possession of the second half, he took a short pass from backup quarterback John O’Korn and found the end zone for his first receiving touchdown of the season. Through six games, Hill now leads Michigan with eight touchdowns and also leads the team in scoring, a stat that kickers usually dominate.

Previous
Week 1 — Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 2 — Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)
Week 3 — Jake Butt (7 receptions for 87 yards)
Week 4 — Grant Newsome, Ben Braden, Mason Cole, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson (326 rush yards, 0 sacks allowed)
Week 5 — Amara Darboh (6 receptions for 87 yards, 1 touchdown)

Game Ball – Defense

Taco Charlton (2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)
Like the offensive side, when a defense holds an opponent to just 39 total yards and no points, you could just close your eyes and point to someone on the stat sheet to choose the player of the game. But when I think about the player who made the most impact on the game, Taco Charlton comes to mind. Although they were his only two tackles of the game, senior defensive end recorded two of Michigan’s four sacks. Like the other starters, he only played the first half, but made his presence felt in the Rutgers backfield. He’s now tied with Chris Wormley for the team lead with four sacks on the season.

Previous
Week 1 — Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Week 2 — Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)
Week 3 — Jabrill Peppers (9 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 kick ret. for 81 yards, 4 punt ret. for 99 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — Maurice Hurst (6 tackles, 3 solo, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack)
Week 5 — Channing Stribling (2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 pass breakups)

M&GB staff predictions: Rutgers

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


StaffPicks_banner20152

Michigan passed its first big test of the season with a 14-7 win over No. 8 Wisconsin last week. Rutgers, meanwhile, lost to Ohio State 58-0. Michigan visits Rutgers on Saturday for its first road game of the season.

Sam picked up his first weekly prediction win last week with his prediction of Michigan 24 – Wisconsin 10. Here are this week’s picks:

Justin
Staff Predictions
Michigan Rutgers
Justin 49 7
Derick 48 3
Sam 48 3
Josh 52 7
Joe 54 3
M&GB Average 50 5

Michigan picked up a big win over a top 10 opponent last week and now hits the road for the first time this season. It’s a night game in what should be a raucous environment. If ever there was a letdown game, this would be it. I’d expect Michigan to start slowly on Saturday night, but never be in real danger of losing. Perhaps an early turnover or a few early penalties that stall the first couple drives. But once the Wolverines settle in and exert their will, they’ll pull away and cover the 30-point spread.

Expect a big rushing day for Michigan as the running back by committee keeps going and going and going. Wilton Speight won’t be asked to do too much. A few timely tosses to Jake Butt and a couple tries downfield will be all they’ll need to keep the defense honest. De’Veon Smith cracks 100 yards and either Chris Evans or Karan Higdon busts a long touchdown run.

Michigan 49 – Rutgers 7

Derick

Michigan’s last trip to Rutgers didn’t go so well, but the Scarlett Knights will see a different team this time around.

It’s Michigan’s first road game, but it should be a good game to feel things out away from home. Rutgers is coming off an ugly 58-0 loss to Ohio State and won’t have star player Janarion Grant back this season.

Michigan’s defense is one of the best Rutgers will see all season, so the loss of Grant will loom large. Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling have a chance to shut down a passing attack that managed just three completions and 33 yards in Columbus.

This is one of the best home games Rutgers has this season, and those fans think Michigan is a rival. But even in that atmosphere, I think Michigan will run away with the game.

Michigan 48 – Rutgers 3

Sam (1)

After a hard fought battle against Wisconsin to cap off an undefeated five game home streak, the Wolverines take to the road to play their wannabe rivals in Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights, coming off a couldn’t-have-been-worse 50-8 shellacking at the hands of their partners Ohio State, are running a defense that is on life support and sending out an offense that has no pulse. While Rutgers fans are calling this their Super Bowl, I can’t see it being much more than a leisurely walk on the beach for Michigan. The defense dominates once again while the rushing attack maintains its momentum with five touchdowns. Give me the Maize and Blue big.

Michigan 48 – Rutgers 3

Josh (1)

As I said in this week’s The Numbers Game, 2016 Rutgers is bad, and they should feel bad. If Chris Ash sticks around long enough I’m sure he’ll turn them around but for now this Rutgers team is pretty bad, on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Chris Laviano isn’t a threat on designed runs but can make things happen if the pocket breaks down. Unfortunately for him Michigan’s defensive line will be the best he’s faced thus far and he shouldn’t break more than one or two runs. From what I’ve seen he doesn’t really ever get a chance to pass the ball downfield much because his offensive line cannot protect him. Also unfortunately for Laviano — and the entire offense — their one good player, Janarion Grant, is out. This has the makings of a shutout, but Laviano’s ability to scramble worries me. I think they’ll end up with a few points as a result of a busted play or two. That said, if Michigan was to completely bottle up a team and keep them off the scoreboard this is probably their best chance.

There isn’t much that this game will tell us about Michigan that we don’t already know. Michigan will dominate on both sides and win with ease.

Michigan should be able to play plenty of back-ups throughout the second half and that’s a good thing as the showdown with Sparty looms. I’d really like to see is Michigan get their kicking game in order. If Quinn Nordin is healthy again, and it appears he is, I’d love to see him lockdown one of those three spots, or even Ryan Tice. But someone needs to step up and get some real game action over the next two games.

I’m not sure Rutgers can score but then again Michigan has been prone to giving up big plays it shouldn’t (it just doesn’t give up many). A bad turnover by Speight sets them up in scoring position, but that’s all they manage. Michigan wins big and heads into the bye week 6-0.

Michigan 52 – Rutgers 7

Joe (3)

The first road game of the season comes after the biggest test so far. That battle against Wisconsin will help this team down the line, but not this week. This Rutgers team is a bad football team. I’ve tried to find some positives to talk about but the best that I can come up with is how the best players from this state wear Maize and Blue. Let’s start with the quarterback play. Ughhhh. Moving on to the defense. Blaaaahhh. Special teams may be even as long as they can make 50 percent of their field goal attempts. Heck, we’d take that right about now. This one will get ugly fast! The defense will get pressure and force two turnovers a half, maybe more, and the ground game will be a focal point as the Wolverines try to gel with a new left tackle. I can’t see this one staying close any longer than it takes to cook a few brats on the grill. Michigan big.

Michigan 54 – Rutgers 3

#4 Michigan at Rutgers game preview

Friday, October 7th, 2016


um-rutgers-game-preview-header(AP photo)

Previously this week: First Look: Rutgers, Five-Spot Challenge, Tailgate Tuesday, Week 5 Big Ten power rankings, Rutgers game poster, The numbers game

When you’re Michigan everyone else wants to be your rival. Ohio State is the gold standard, forming half of college football’s best rivalry, simply known as ‘The Game.’ Michigan State is the in-state rival and Notre Dame is the out of conference rival. Everyone else gives Michigan their best game.

Rutgers, meanwhile, is simply desperate for Michigan to be its rival. It certainly didn’t help that Michigan became Rutgers’ first Big Ten win two years ago. That Rutgers fans rushed the field after beating a team that finished the season 5-7 shows the desperation.

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Quick Facts
High Point Solutions Stadium – 7p.m. ET – ESPN2
Rutgers Head Coach: Chris Ash (1st season)
Coaching Record: 2-3 (0-2 at Rutgers)
Offensive Coordinator: Drew Mehringer (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Niemann (1st season)
Last Season: 4-8 (1-7 Big Ten)
Last Meeting: UM 49 – RU 16 (2015)
All-Time Series: Tied 1-1
Record in Piscataway: Rutgers 1-0
Jim Harbaugh vs Rutgers 1-0
Last Michigan win: 2015 (49-16)
Last Rutgers win: 2014 (24-26)
Current Streak: Michigan 1
Rutgers Schedule to date
Opponent Result
at #14 Washington L 13-48
Howard W 52-14
New Mexico W 37-28
Iowa L 7-14
at #2 Ohio State L 0-58

Jim Harbaugh has recruited the state of New Jersey heavily since he arrived in Ann Arbor, landing the No. 1 player in last year’s class, Rashan Gary, just a couple years after Michigan pulled Jabrill Peppers from the Garden State. He also hired Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge as a director of player personnel and then promoted him to linebackers and special teams coach following D.J. Durkin’s departure from the staff.

When Harbaugh announced a satellite camp over the summer at Paramus along with his brother John, the Baltimore Ravens head coach, new Rutgers head coach Chris Ash planned his own camp at the same time. But knowing he couldn’t draw a crowd to rival Michigan’s on his own, he teamed up with Ohio State.

Rutgers fans declared war on Michigan. Their secret society littered the Paramus campus with magnets and sent a letter to the media urging Harbaugh to go home and stop poaching their recruits. They coined a cute mantra, ‘Fence the Garden’, and declared the Michigan game a primetime game called ‘Stripe the Birthplace.’

Harbaugh doesn’t care. He doesn’t see Rutgers any differently than he sees Hawaii or Central Florida or any other team standing in his way of a Big Ten championship and a national championship. He also sees Rutgers as a 2-3 Big Ten bottom feeder that will treat Michigan as its biggest game of the season.

Last week, Rutgers’ ally, Ohio State beat the Scarlet Knights 58-0. They have also lost to Iowa (14-7) and Washington (48-13). Three of the first five games have been a daunting task to be sure, but that’s a combined 120-20. Ash has a lot of work to do to make Rutgers competitive in the Big Ten. He can start by beating Indiana, Maryland, Purdue, and Illinois and trying to stay within four touchdowns of the big boys.

Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Rutgers has the ball

Drew Mehringer is Rutgers’ seventh different offensive coordinator in the past seven years. At just 28 years old, Mehringer was the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Houston under Tom Herman in 2015 and the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at James Madison the year before that. He was a graduate assistant at Ohio State in 2012-13 and played quarterback at Rice in the mid-2000s.

His power spread offense currently ranks 108th nationally in scoring (21.8 points per game), 116th in total offense (333 yards per game), 51st in rushing (192.8 yards per game), 123rd in passing (140.2 yards per game), and 101st in third down conversions (35 percent). They have averaged just 267.7 yards per game in the three losses, including just 116 total yards against Ohio State last week.

Senior quarterback Chris Laviano is completing just 49.6 percent of his passes for 680 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. His 136 yards per game are 63.5 yards away from ranking the top 10 in the Big Ten. He hasn’t reached 200 passing yards in a game yet this season. His best was 190 yards against Iowa two weeks ago. Ohio State held him to just 33 yards on 3-of-12.

The offense suffered a major blow when leading receiver Janarion Grant was lost for the season with an ankle injury. He had caught 20 passes for 210 yards. Redshirt freshman Jawuan Harris is the leading active receiver with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 11 receptions. Senior Andre Patton is the only other receiver with more than 100 yards, but he does lead the team with three touchdowns. Senior tight end Nick Arcidiacono — the cousin of Villanova basketball star Ryan Arcidiacono — has caught seven passes for 54 yards.

Junior Robert Martin is the team’s leading rusher with 398 yards and one touchdown on a respectable 5.6 yards per carry. He actually ranks fifth in the Big Ten with 99.5 yards per game. He didn’t face Washington’s stifling defense and Ohio State limited him to just 40 yards on 13 carries, but he did most of his damage against New Meixco (169 yards) and also topped 100 against Iowa (106). Senior Justin Goodwin is the second leading back with 144 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Before his injury, Grant was actually the team’s leader in rushing touchdowns with three, averaging 8.6 yards per carry.

The offensive line should be no match for Michigan’s stout defensive front. They’ve allowed 11 sacks so far, which isn’t terrible — Michigan has allowed nine — but Ohio State got to Laviano three times.

When Michigan has the ball

On the defensive side, Rutgers isn’t much better. Coordinator Jay Niemann has been in the coaching business for over 30 years, but is in his first season at a power-5 gig. He spent the past five seasons as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Northern Illinois and had stints at Hardin-Simmons, Simpson, Northern Iowa, and Drake before that. The last time he coached in a major conference was as a graduate assistant at Washington from 1986 to ’88.

His defense this season ranks 97th nationally in scoring defense (32.4 points per game), 84th in total defense (423.8 yards per game), 115th agains the run (227.4 yards per game), 32nd against the pass (196.4 yards per game), and 50th in third down defense (36 percent).

The best player on the defensive line is fifth-year senior tackle Darius Hamilton. He has 17 tackles and just one tackle for loss, but is stout against the run. The rest of the line isn’t something to worry about. Nose tackles Sebastian Joseph and Kevin Wilkins have two combined sacks. Fifth-year senior end Julian Pinnix-Odrick leads the team with four sacks and five tackles for loss but he’s a weakness in the running game. The other end currently is junior Darnell Davis, who is the opposite of Pinnix-Odrick: decent against the run, but not a pass rushing threat.

The linebackers are a weakness for Rutgers. Middle linebacker Deonte Roberts ranks second on the team with 33 tackles, while weakside linebacker Trevor Morris has 30. Strongside linebacker Greg Jones suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit last week and won’t return this week according to Ash. True freshman Tyreek Maddox-Williams was his replacement last Saturday, and he recorded 11 tackles.

If there’s a relative strength of the Rutgers defense on paper it’s the secondary, but opponents have had such success running the ball that they’ve only averaged 28 pass attempts per game. In other words, why pass when you can be just as effective running the ball? Senior strong safety Anthony Cioffi has been around forever and is tied for the team lead with five passes defended. He has also reeled two of them in. Redshirt sophomore free safety Kiy Hester leads the team with 36 tackles and five for loss. However, he’s questionable for Saturday and Saquan Hampton is back and ready to start. Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Wharton and sophomore Blessuan Austin are the corners. Austin leads the team and ranks third in the Big Ten with five pass breakups.

The other third

Redshirt junior kicker David Bonagura has made 6-of-7 field goal attempts in his first season of action. His longest made field goal was 41 yards and his lone miss was also from 41. Redshirt sophomore punter Michael Cintron averages a paltry 38.3 yards per punt, which ranks outside the top 10 in the conference. He has downed 11 of 53 inside the 20 and only two have been touchbacks.

Grant was the danger man in the return game with a touchdown on both a kick return and a punt return already this season prior to his injury. Harris is now the punt returner, though he has just one for zero yards thus far. Junior running back Josh Hicks is now the main kick returner, averaging just 12.8 yards per return on six tries.

Prediction

Michigan picked up a big win over a top 10 opponent last week and now hits the road for the first time this season. It’s a night game in what should be a raucous environment. If ever there was a letdown game, this would be it. I’d expect Michigan to start slowly on Saturday night, but never be in real danger of losing. Perhaps an early turnover or a few early penalties that stall the first couple drives. But once the Wolverines settle in and exert their will, they’ll pull away and cover the 30-point spread.

Expect a big rushing day for Michigan as the running back by committee keeps going and going and going. Wilton Speight won’t be asked to do too much. A few timely tosses to Jake Butt and a couple tries downfield will be all they’ll need to keep the defense honest. De’Veon Smith cracks 100 yards and either Chris Evans or Karan Higdon busts a long touchdown run.

Michigan 49 – Rutgers 7

New arrival: Rutgers game poster

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016


gameposter-2016-rutgers

Rutgers head coach Chris Ash wants a war with Michigan. But as far as we’re concerned — and Jabrill Peppers, Rashan Gary, and others can attest to — New Jersey has already been claimed by Jim Harbaugh. 

Download the high-res version here, good up to 18×24.

Previous: Hawaii, UCF, Colorado, Penn State

Our weekly game posters are designed by Christian Elden, a designer and illustrator who happens to be a Michigan fan. He lives in northwest Ohio where he runs his own design firm. He has illustrated a picture book for Warner Press and has been featured in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. Visit his personal site to view some of his other works.

First Look: Rutgers

Monday, October 3rd, 2016


rutgers-mascot

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but Michigan passed it’s first major test of the season. Their reward? A road trip to New Jersey. Rutgers lost 58-0 to Ohio State on Saturday to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. The line in Vegas opened at 26.5 points in Michigan’s favor. Can the Scarlet Knights rally around the primetime matchup and keep it within four touchdowns? Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare four games into the season.

Rutgers & Michigan statistical comparison
Rutgers | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 21.8 | 44.4 108 10
32.4 12.4 97 | 6
Rushing Yards 964 1,049 1,137 561
Rush Avg. Per Game 192.8 209.8 51 36
227.4 112.2 115 24
Avg. Per Rush 4.3 | 4.9
5.3 3.3
Passing Yards 701 1,171 982 677
Pass Avg. Per Game 140.2 234.2 123 69 196.4 135.4 32 2
Total Offense 1,665 2,220 2,119 1,238
Total Off Avg. Per Game 333.0 444.0 116 51 423.8 247.6 84 5
Kick Return Average 21.7 15.5 61 124 21.5 19.9 76 | 48
Punt Return Average 14.0 21.5 20 2 9.1 13.0 81 108
Avg. Time of Possession 26:40 33:05 108 22 33:20 | 26:55
3rd Down Conversion Pct 35% | 47% 101 28
36% | 15.0% 50 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 11-82 | 9-66
75 46
11-53 | 20-133 60 | 4
Touchdowns Scored 13 | 30
22 | 8
Field Goals-Attempts 6-7 4-9
3-5 | 2-5
Red Zone Scores (9-12) 75%|(23-27) 85% 107 | 61
(11-17) 65%|(4-6) 67% 9 12
Red Zone Touchdowns (4-12) 33%|(19-27) 70% (10-17) 59%|(3-6) 50%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 20.9 33.6 114 40 30.5 6.8 72 1

Michigan goes from one extreme to the other in terms of opponent. Whereas Wisconsin featured one of the nation’s best offenses, Rutgers features one of the worst. In fact, Rutgers features the Big Ten’s worst defense and worst offense.

The Scarlet Knights have beaten Howard (52-14) — which currently ranks 106th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) — and New Mexico (37-28) — which currently ranks 94th in S&P+ — and lost to No. 14 Washington (13-48), Iowa (7-14), and No. 2 Ohio State (0-58).

Offensively, Rutgers averages just 21.8 points per game, which ranks 108th nationally and second to last in the Big Ten. In the three losses, Rutgers has scored just 20 points total. They rank 116th nationally in total offense (last in the Big Ten), 123rd nationally in passing offense (last in the Big Ten), and 51st nationally in rushing (6th in the Big Ten). In addition, Rutgers converts just 35 percent of its third downs, which ranks 101st nationally and 12th in the Big Ten, and has scored touchdowns on just 33 percent of their 12 red zone trips.

In the three losses, Rutgers has averaged just 267.7 total yards — 130.3 passing and 137.3 rushing. The rushing number is even worse considering they have averaged just 2.9 yards per carry. Against Ohio State this past Saturday, Rutgers managed just 116 total yards, going 3-for-16 passing for 33 yards and rushing for just 83 yards on 2.2 yards per carry.

Defensively, Rutgers isn’t much better, ranking 97th nationally in scoring defense (last in the Big Ten), 84th in total defense (last in the Big Ten), 115th in rush defense (last in the Big Ten), and 32nd in pass defense (7th in the Big Ten). The Rutgers defense has held just one opponent under 350 yards and that was Howard, who gained 253. New Mexico put up 462 yards and Ohio State 669, including 410 on the ground, averaging 7.7 yards per carry on 53 carries.

FBS quarterbacks have completed 62.5 percent of their passes against Rutgers’ defense, but have thrown the ball just 28 times per game. Washington’s Jake Browning and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett each tossed four touchdown passes. But opponents have averaged 43 rushes per game while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Three of five opponents have had a 100-yard rusher on Rutgers’ defense. Howard’s Anthony Philyaw rushed for 112 yards on 22 carries (5.1 ypc), New Mexico’s Lamar Jordan had 101 yards on 14 carries (7.2 ypc), Iowa’s Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels combined for 161 yards on 6.4 yards per carry, Ohio State’s Mike Weber 144 yards on 14 carries (10.3 ypc). Ohio State’s Demario McCall also nearly got there with 85 yards on 10 carries (8.5 ypc).

Rutgers’ only hope in this one is if Michigan has a letdown game after a big win and on its first time away from Ann Arbor this season. But even that likely won’t be enough for the Scarlet Knights to win the game, especially without their only real playmaker, Janarion Grant, who is out for the season with an ankle injury. The main excitement will be whether or not Michigan can beat Rutgers worse than Ohio State did.