photo Michigan Display Ad gif_zps4dx5zr01.gif

 photo MampGB header 2015 v6_zpsdluogxnr.jpg

Posts Tagged ‘Deveon Smith’

Michigan vs Maryland game preview

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

Game Preview_Maryland_banner

With Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on the Washington, D.C. metro area, Saturday night’s game at Maryland has been moved up to noon. But with a Michigan squad that tore through BYU like a hurricane a week ago, will it matter what time it starts?

Last week, Michigan evened the all-time record with BYU, and while the Wolverines boast a 3-1 all-time win margin over Maryland, the Terrapins now stand as one of only two Big Ten foes to have a winning conference record against mighty Michigan. The other, Rutgers, is the other conference newcomer, and both beat the Wolverines last season. Jim Harbaugh will get a chance to right the record on both of those this season, and that begins with Maryland tomorrow.

Quick Facts
Byrd Stadium – 12 p.m. EST – BTN
Maryland Head Coach: Randy Edsall (5th season)
Coaching Record: 96-102 (22-32 at MD)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Locksley (4th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Dudzinski (1st season)
Returning 2014 Starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)
Last Season: 7-6
Last Meeting: MD 23 – UM 16 (2014)
All-Time Series: UM leads 3-1
Record at Maryland: 1st meeting
Record in Byrd Stadium: 1st meeting
Jim Harbaugh vs Maryland: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 1990 (45-17)
Last Maryland win: 2014 (23-16)
Current Streak: Maryland 1

Maryland comes in just 2-2 with wins over Richmond (50-21) and South Florida (35-17) alternating with losses to Bowling Green (48-27) and West Virginia (45-6). For their part, Maryland was tied at 27 with Bowling Green in the fourth quarter in Week 2, but the Falcons scored 21 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes of the game to make a close game look like a blowout. Bowling Green racked up a season high 692 total yards of offense and 35 first downs. Last week, West Virginia also topped 600 total yards against the Terps with 601 and wasted no time keeping Maryland in the game. The Mountaineers scored three first quarter touchdowns and led 38-0 at the half. They took the foot off the petal in the second half and allowed a Maryland touchdown with 11:45 remaining, but that was the only positive of the game for Randy Edsall’s squad.

Early this week, the Maryland players reportedly held a players-only meeting which Edsall claimed to know nothing about on Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call.

“That’s news to me; I don’t think we had a players-only meeting at all,” he said. “We’ve had our normal meetings all week long.”

He then continued with a positive spin.

“If the players had the meeting and something productive came out of it, I think that’s great,” he said. “I’ve been happy with our leadership and I’m glad they did that. I had my normal 7 o’clock meeting and I had no idea that there was a players-only meeting.”

Players-only meetings typically aren’t a good thing. They’re normally a sign of trouble, either amongst the players themselves or more likely between them and their coach. Either way, it’s probably a good thing for Michigan.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

When Maryland has the ball

Through the first four games of the season, Maryland’s offense ranks 84th nationally in total offense (389.3 yards per game), 50th in rush offense (196 yards per game), 98th in passing offense (193.3 yards per game), 118th in passing efficiency (106.91), and 73rd in scoring (29.5 points per game). By comparison, BYU came into last week’s matchup averaging 30.3 points per game — against better competition — and Michigan shut the Cougars out.

The quarterback position has been a revolving door in the early season with junior Perry Hill starting the first two games but completing just 52.9 percent of his passes. Last year’s backup, Caleb Rowe, took over and led the Terps to a win over South Florida, going 21 of 33 for 297 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. But he struggled against West Virginia last Saturday, completing just 10 of 27 passes for 67 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. That put him on the bench in favor of Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman, who went 4 of 9 for 86 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Rowe will likely start tomorrow, but if Michigan’s defense treats him like it did Tanner Mangum last week, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley may give him a short leash.

The backfield is one of the bright spots thus far with four players over 100 yards rushing. Senior Brandon Ross is the leading back with 358 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries (6.1 yards per carry). He carried the ball 18 times for 150 yards and a score in the season opener against Richmond and then 15 times for 130 yards last week, but combined for just 78 yards on 26 carries (3 ypc) in the middle two. Junior Wes Brown rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the opener, but hasn’t done much since, while freshman Ty Johnson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

The receiving corps lacks a true playmaker after losing Stefon Diggs and Deon Long to graduation. Redshirt junior Levern Jacobs leads the team with 15 receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while his younger brother Taivon Jacobs leads the team with 22.6 yards per catch thanks to a 70-yard touchdown against South Florida. He has five catches for 113 yards and the one score. The third member of the receiving corps with more than 100 receiving yards is freshman D.J. Moore, who has six catches for 112 yards and one touchdown. Junior Amba Etta-Tawo ranks second on the team in catches (10), but has just 97 yards and has yet to find the end zone. Freshman tight end Avery Edwards matches the elder Jacobs with two touchdowns — both against South Florida — along with his 89 receiving yards.

The offensive line has some solid experience with three of last year’s staters back this season, most notably at the tackle positions. Junior left tackle Michael Dunn and senior right tackle Ryan Doyle bring a combined 57 career starts to the table, senior right guard Andrew Zeller adds 33. However, against West Virginia last week, Doyle was moved to left guard and redshirt freshman, former five-star recruit, Damian Prince, manned the right tackle spot. Sophomore Mike Minter started the first three games of the season at left guard, while senior center Evan Mulrooney has nine career starts under his belt.

When Michigan has the ball

Edsall promoted linebackers coach Keith Dudzinksi to defensive coordinator this offseason and the defense changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Dudzinski is trying to turn around a defense that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in scoring defense, 12th in total defense, 12th in rush defense, and 13th in pass defense last season. So far, however, the Terps’ defense has been one of the worst in the nation. It currently ranks 13th in the Big Ten and 107th nationally in total defense (467.3 yards allowed per game), 13th and 99th in scoring defense (32.8 points allowed per game), last and 100th in rush defense (200.3 yards allowed per game), and 10th and 101st in pass defense (267 yards allowed per game).

Four of last year’s top six defensive linemen are gone, leaving junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season — to carry the load. So far, he has done well, leading Maryland with 5.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. On the other side is junior Roman Braglio, whose only start of 2014 came against Michigan. He has started three of four so far this year and has 4.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Redshirt junior Quinton Jefferson and sophomore David Shaw man the middle. Jefferson has made much more of a splash on the stat sheet with 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Shaw, a first year starter, has six tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Sophomore end Jesse Aniebonam — a four-star recruit in last year’s class — is the only change to the starting lineup so far this season, having started in place of Braglio against Bowling Green. He has 11 tackles, two for loss, and two sacks.

The linebacking corps is young, starting two sophomores — Jalen Brooks and Jermaine Carter — and a senior — Jefferson Ashiru. Carter leads the team with 46 tackles so far this season and is second behind Ngakoue with five tackles for loss. Brooks has 24 tackles, one for loss, and an interception, while Ashiru, who has 23 career starts, has 20 tackles, one for loss, and one sack.

The best athlete on the team resides in the secondary in the form of junior cornerback William Likely, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media last season. Likely has yet to record an interception so far this season after leading the conference with six a year ago, but he does lead the team with five pass breakups. The other corner is senior Sean Davis, who leads the team with two interceptions and ranks second with 35 tackles. He led all Big Ten defensive backs with 115 tackles last season. The safeties are senior Anthony Nixon and fifth-year senior A.J. Hendy, who have combined for 55 tackles, one for loss, one interception, and two passes defended.

The other third

Senior kicker Brad Craddock is the reigning Lou Groza award winner as the nation’s best kicker. He also won the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award. Over the course of his career, he has made 81.7 percent of his field goal attempts, and this season has connected on five of six with a long of 41. He does have plenty of range, having made a 57-yarder against Ohio State in 2014. He also shares punting duties with freshman Nicolas Pritchard, who has booted 12 punts for an average of 40.8 yards.

The most dangerous player on the field is Likely, who has already returned two punts for touchdowns this season and averages 28.1 yards per punt return. He’s also the main kick returner, but hasn’t broken through that way, averaging 21.7 yards per return. He ranked fourth nationally with a 31-yard average on kick returns last season, including a 100-yard return for touchdown against Stanford.


The noon kickoff will allow Michigan and Maryland to avoid the bad weather that Hurricane Joaquin will bring, but the forecast still calls for rain and around 20 mile per hour wind. One conventional mode of thinking would say that should even up the matchup, making up for Michigan’s superiority. However, Michigan’s offense is predicated on the run game and Maryland’s defense has allowed all three FBS teams it has played to top 200 yards rushing. Bowling Green rushed for 201, USF for 240, and West Virginia 304.

Even if De’Veon Smith isn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the second half of last week’s game, expect Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson to carry the load and Michigan to still have success against an overmatched front seven. Maryland will, of course, stack the box and try to force Jake Rudock to make plays with his arm, but he has been slowly improving and as long as he avoids turnovers, will be able to do just enough to manage the game and let the running game do the work.

Maryland’s offense hasn’t seen anything close to Michigan’s yet. West Virginia ranks 26th in total defense, South Florida 45th, and Bowling Green 111th. Michigan’s defense is allowing just two-thirds of the total yards West Virginia has allowed per game and the Mountaineers have played just Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland. In addition, Maryland currently leads the nation with 14 turnovers and the wet and windy conditions won’t help in that regard.

Michigan wins a soggy, boring game and racks up 250 rushing yards in the process. The offensive line will wear down Maryland’s defensive front, allowing for one back — Smith or Isaac depending on the former’s health — to top 100 yards. Michigan’s defense shuts down Maryland’s offense, takes advantage of some turnovers, and Jabrill Peppers gets his first career interception as Jim Harbaugh picks up his first road win.

Michigan 30 – Maryland 10

Big Ten power rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Power Rankings_header

The non-conference season is finally (mostly) over. Besides a game each for Penn State and Rutgers, which both have matchups left against Army, the rest of the season will pit Big Ten against Big Ten as the road to Indianapolis officially begins.

So where does the Big Ten rank, now that the judgement period has come and gone? As a conference, the Big Ten finished just 7-8 against other power five teams, losing two of three to the Big 12, splitting 3-3 with the ACC, beating the Pac-12 3-2 and falling in the only Big Ten-SEC battle.

But the difference in the conference this season is the strength of a middle class that’s lagged behind the rest of the country in recent seasons. Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin still bear the flag for the Big Ten, but now they have company on the national stage. Five Big Ten teams went a perfect 4-0 through the non-conference schedule and two of the one-loss teams are ranked in the top 25. It looks like as many as six teams have a chance to win nine games this season.

Unfortunately, the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders are still very, very bad. Purdue managed just one win in the non-conference season after losing to Marshall and Bowling Green and getting bombed at home by Virginia Tech. Maryland has been an embarrassment, falling to Bowling Green and West Virginia by a combined 60 points. Illinois and Rutgers are a combined 5-2 in the non-conference, but neither team played anyone better than Washington State.

The East Division certainly emerged as the stronger half of the Big Ten, despite the presence of Maryland and Rutgers in the cellar. Ohio State and Michigan State hold the top spots in the national rankings and Michigan has morphed into a potential threat under Jim Harbaugh. East teams finished 5-3 against power five teams and 22-6 overall during the non-conference schedule, while the West went just 2-5 against power five teams and 20-8 overall.

In the national landscape, the Big Ten is right there with the Pac-12 and the SEC for top conference in the FBS. The preseason rankings gave the SEC an unearned head start, but that couldn’t save pretenders like Auburn and Arkansas from quickly falling out of contention. Teams like South Carolina, Missouri and Tennessee aren’t where they were expected to be. Without that depth below juggernauts like Alabama and LSU, the SEC’s rein atop college football is vulnerable.

The PAC-12 is headed in the other direction. UCLA and Utah are legitimate top 10 teams, which helps lessen the blow of Oregon’s fall from grace. If Stanford, USC and Arizona can bounce back from early losses, the conference might be the deepest in the nation.

But over the next eight weeks, each conference will turn its attention inward as the battle for conference championships begins. Here’s how the Big Ten stacks up heading into conference play.

East Division
1. Ohio State (4-0, 0-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat W. Michigan 38-12 This Week: Sat at Indiana (4-0), 3:30pm, ABC

Surprise! Ohio State regained the top spot this week with an easy victory over Western Michigan. The 38-12 win was less important to the Buckeyes than Cardale Jones’ bounce back from a two-interception effort against Northern Illinois. Jones threw for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on Saturday to solidify his grip on the starting job. The Broncos couldn’t handle Ezekiel Elliott either, watching him run for 124 yards on just 16 carries. Ohio State gained over 500 yards of offense, but interceptions are still a problem. OSU has thrown the 10th-most picks in college football through Week 4, a surprising number from a team expected to field two All-Big Ten quality quarterbacks. The Buckeyes have an insanely easy path to Indy, with no tough games on the schedule until Nov. 21. But teams like Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois hung around against the Buckeyes, so the top team in the country is certainly beatable.

2. Michigan State (4-0, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat C. Michigan 30-10 This Week: Sat vs Purdue (1-3), 12pm, ESPN2

The Spartans didn’t fall from the top of the East because of Oregon’s performance; they fell because they struggled to close out another MAC foe. Central Michigan trailed by only a touchdown midway through the 4th quarter before a pair of late Spartan touchdowns sealed the deal. Michigan State struggled to put Western Michigan, Oregon and Central Michigan away during the non-conference season, despite the combined 4-8 record of those opponents. Unfortunately, Oregon’s rapid demise erased the only quality win on MSU’s resume, sapping the luster from its non-conference resume. Connor Cook was solid again in the 30-10 victory Saturday, completing 11 of 19 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Madre London continued to impress, averaging 4.9 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, Michigan state allowed CMU to complete 26 of 39 passes and gain 340 total yards. The Spartans have allowed 396 yards per game and rank just 77th in the country in total defense.

3. Michigan (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat BYU 31-0 This Week: Sat at Maryland (2-2), 8pm, BTN

Don’t look now, but there’s a buzz coming from Ann Arbor. Michigan was the Big Ten’s biggest winner on Saturday, crushing then –No. 22 BYU, 31-0, in the Big House. Jake Rudock led the show on offense, throwing for 194 yards, rushing for 33 more and scoring three total touchdowns. What caused his sudden turnaround? The offensive line. Rudock had more time than he knew what to do with on Saturday and even had time to scramble for positive yards after going through his progressions. Tim Drevno has turned the line into a strength and everybody on the offense – especially De’Veon Smith – is benefiting. Smith turned in his second 100-yard game Saturday, rumbling his way to 125 yards on 16 carries. Smith’s best run came in the second quarter, when he disappeared into the pile only to reappear, spin out of a tackle and dash into the end zone 60 yards later. Amara Darboh was the other offensive hero, making an Odell Beckham-like grab to set up Michigan’s first touchdown and finishing with four catches, 57 yards and a touchdown.

The Wolverines’ defense was even better, holding BYU to 105 yards and picking up that elusive first shutout. Players were frustrated last week when UNLV scored in the 4th quarter to end a shutout bid, but this week they finished the job against a much better offense. Tanner Mangum passed for only 55 yards, while the team’s leading rusher, Adam Hine, got only eight carries for 33 yards. Harbaugh insists the team is still a work in progress, but the improvement since Week 1 has been incredible. If this defense keeps it up, and Rudock takes care of the football, Michigan will have something to say in the East race.

4. Indiana (4-0, 1-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Wake Forest 31-24 This Week: Sat vs #1 OSU (4-0), 3:30pm, ABC

In the first three weeks of the season, Indiana knocked off an FCS school and a pair of Conference USA schools by an average of six points to jump out to a fluky 3-0 start. The Hoosiers finally picked up a solid victory Saturday when they went to Wake Forest and earned a road win over a power five team. Jordan Howard put the Indiana offense on his back, running for 168 yards and a score on 33 carries. Nate Sudfeld was steady in the passing game, passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns. In the upset of the week, Indiana’s defense held a team under 400 yards, allowing Wake Forest to rush for only 99 on the ground. The Hoosiers are undefeated to begin conference play, but don’t expect that to last long. The defense allows 499 yards per game, which ranks 117th in the nation. That’ll never hold up against a schedule with offenses like Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa on the horizon.

5. Penn State (3-1, 1-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat SDSU 37-21 This Week: Sat vs Army (1-3), 12pm, ESPNU

Christian Hackenberg played his best game since freshman year Saturday when he completed 60 percent of his passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Penn State’s offense, which scored just 21.67 points per game over the first three weeks, exploded for 37 points as the Nittany Lions rolled over San Diego State. Penn State dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining SDSU 400-242 and recovering three fumbles. Is Penn State a contender or a pretender in the East this season? After an embarrassing loss at Temple to start the year, James Franklin’s team bounced back with three fairly easy wins. The defense, which allowed the second fewest yards per game in the FBS last season, will pace the Nittany Lions as Hackenberg and the offense battle to keep up. If freshman running back Saquon Barkley, who’s already rushed for 373 yards on 42 carries (8.9 yards per carry), can take the reins of the offense away from the passing game, Penn State will be a tough team to play.

6. Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Kansas 27-14 This Week: Bye (10/10 vs #2 MSU)

Do I have to rank the last two teams? Yes? Fine, I’ll go with Rutgers at No. 6. The Scarlett Knights are an embarrassment off the field, but they did manage to beat one of the worst power five teams in the country Saturday. Josh Hicks ran all over the Kansas defense, picking up 113 yards and two touchdowns. Rutgers gained over 500 yards of total offense despite turning the ball over three times to the Jayhawks. Kyle Flood’s team already got blown out in their Big Ten opener in Week 3 and probably won’t be favored to win a game until it hosts Maryland in the final game of the season.

7. Maryland (2-2, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to W. Virginia 6-45 This Week: Sat vs Michigan (3-1), 8pm, BTN

If you thought Michigan’s shutout win over BYU was a massacre, just wait until you hear about Maryland’s trip to West Virginia. Week 4 was a total disaster for the Terrapins. A painful, turnover-riddled disaster that, of course, ended with Maryland failing to convert a two-point conversion that would have pulled it within 37. Yes, it was as ugly as it sounds. West Virginia scored touchdowns on its first three drives, none of which lasted more than three minutes. The Mountaineers scored 45 unanswered points to start the game, picking up 601 yards and 37 first downs. The Terrapins only held the ball for about 23 minutes, but that was enough time to throw five interceptions and turn the ball over six times. Caleb Rowe, who took over as starting quarterback after the team’s disastrous Week 2 loss to Bowling Green, threw four picks and completed just 10 of 27 passes. Only Brandon Ross, who gained 130 rushing yards on 15 carries, came to play for the Terps. Maryland needs to get the turnovers under control soon as two strong defensive teams (Michigan and Ohio State) come next on the schedule.

West Division
1. Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Ball State 24-19 This Week: Sat vs Minnesota (3-1), 12pm, BTN

Things got a little hairy for the Wildcats Saturday when Ball State hung around until the final drive of a 24-19 Northwestern win. For the first time this season, Pat Fitzgerald’s defense showed a chink in the armor, allowing 359 yards to the Cardinals offense. Riley Neal completed only 14 of 35 passes against Northwestern, but a handful of big plays allowed him to rack up 178 yards and two touchdowns. Ball State also averaged more than five yards per carry against a front seven that was rock solid against Stanford and Duke earlier in the month. But Justin Jackson wouldn’t let the Wildcats’ perfect record go up in flames, leading the team with 184 rushing yards. Clayton Thorson bounced back from a terrible performance at Duke to throw for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Big Ten opener will be a big one for Northwestern as Minnesota visits Evanston to set up a heavy defensive battle.

2. Iowa (4-0, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat N. Texas 62-14 This Week: Sat @ #19 Wisconsin (3-1), 12pm, ESPN

Iowa coasted through a much-needed break Saturday after two straight wins over power five opponents. The offense erupted against North Texas, scoring 48 points on 488 yards. Iowa also returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second half, polishing off a 62-16 masterpiece. C.J. Beathard continued to dominate under center, completing an incredible 18 of 21 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Canzeri bullied a weak North Texas front seven for 115 yards and four touchdowns, giving him eight scores on the year. There’s no way Beathard will complete over 68 percent of his passes in Big Ten play, but he looks like a definite upgrade at quarterback and an excellent complement to Canzeri. With a strong defense and an offense that’s averaging 37.75 points per game, Iowa is a real threat in the West. But all three games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska are on the road, so the Hawkeyes will have to be just as good away from Kinnick to compete. Perhaps the greatest hurdle comes Saturday in Madison.

3. Wisconsin (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Hawaii 28-0 This Week: Sat vs Iowa (3-1), 12pm, ESPN

Wisconsin rolled over its third straight cupcake opponent Saturday, shutting out Hawaii 28-0. Freshman running back Taiwan Deal built on his 84-yard performance in Week 3 with 147 rushing yards on 25 carries. He’s scored four touchdowns for the Badgers this season and looks like the best option in the backfield heading into Big Ten season. Joel Stave enjoyed a typical, steady non-conference season, completing over 66 percent of his passes for 830 yards, seven touchdowns and two picks.  Thanks to an efficient offense and a defense that allowed just three points in the last three games, the road to the West Division title still runs through Wisconsin.

4. Nebraska (2-2, 0-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Southern Miss 36-28 This Week: Sat at Illinois (3-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Nebraska’s rise to No. 4 in the West is more of an indictment on the rest of the division than an endorsement of the Cornhuskers’ body of work. Tommy Armstrong moved past his devastating overtime interception that doomed Nebraska in Week 3 to throw for 368 yards. He also rushed seven times for 63 yards and scored three total touchdowns in the game. Jordan Westerkamp is one of the conference’s toughest matchups at wide receiver, heading into conference play with 26 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns in four games. Nebraska is looking to score its way through the Big Ten this season after allowing 12 touchdowns over the four games. Turnovers and penalties have also been a major issue during the rocky start. Poor defense, poor ball security and poor discipline is a dangerous recipe against a defensive-minded division.

5. Minnesota (3-1, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Ohio 27-24 This Week: Sat at #16 Northwestern (4-0), 12pm, BTN

Since coming within a play of knocking off No. 2 TCU in the opener, Minnesota has beaten three weak opponents by a field goal each. This week, the Ohio Bobcats fell victim to the Gophers’ late heroics as a Shannon Brooks touchdown run gave Minnesota the lead with 30 seconds left on the clock. For the first time all season the Gophers got into a rhythm on offense, gaining 268 yards, picking up 24 first downs and scoring three touchdowns. Mitch Leidner threw for 264 yards, but all three Minnesota scores can on the ground – One by Leidner and two by Brooks. Ohio set a new high against Minnesota’s vaunted defense, scoring 24 points but falling short on a Hail Mary pass from the 41-yard line. A delay of game penalty after a time out pushed a potential 53-yard field goal attempt out of range and erased the Bobcats’ chance to tie the game. If the Golden Gophers can only beat Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio by three points, it’s hard to see them competing in the Big Ten.

6. Illinois (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Middle Tenn. 27-25 This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (2-2), 12pm, BTN

In the wake of Illinois’ beat down at the hands of North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State nearly went into Champaign and poured salt in the still-festering wound. Illinois needed a 51-yard field goal from Taylor Zalewski with 2:09 left on the clock to escape the Blue Raiders, thanks to a missed 43-yarder that would have flipped the script with eight seconds to go. The Fighting Illini won their first two games by a combined 93 points, but a 34-point loss to UNC exposed them as frauds. Conference wins will be tough to come by for Illinois this season.

7. Purdue (1-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Bowling Green 28-35 This Week: Sat vs at #2 MSU (4-0), 12pm, ESPN2

Ah, yes. The only Big Ten team with a losing record. Purdue capped off a terrible non-conference season with a home loss to Bowling Green, giving up over 30 points for the third time. The Big Ten slaying Falcons passed for over 400 yards and converted 11 of 16 first downs to outlast Purdue in the final seconds of the game. Travis Greene’s 11th carry of the game went for a 12-yard touchdown that capped an 80-yard drive and sealed Purdue’s fate. New starting quarterback David Blough played a solid game, completing 29 of 39 passes for 340 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. The freshman got no help from his running backs, who averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. When it boils down to it, the Boilermakers don’t have much firepower heading into a difficult month of October. The beat down begins Saturday in East Lansing.

Michigan 31 – BYU 0: Wolverines carry out mission vs BYU

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Smith vs BYU - by junfuphoto(Junfu Han, Ann Arbor News)

When the oddsmakers opened last week with Michigan a six point favorite over BYU most fans figured it would come down as the week went on. But it turns out that none of us knew what we were talking about. Against a BYU squad led by a quarterback just off his mission it was Michigan that was on a mission on Saturday afternoon, dominating the Cougars 31-0.

After opening the game with a three-and-out, Michigan’s offense strung together five straight scoring drives to put the game out of reach by halftime.

The first touchdown, on Michigan’s second possession of the game, came on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that included a highlight-reel catch by Amara Darboh on 3rd-and-5. Jake Rudock also connected with Khalid Hill for a 19-yard gain on 3rd-and-11 and then Rudock found the end zone with a three yard run.

Michigan’s defense forced a punt and the offense went 90 yards in 10 plays, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Darboh on 3rd-and-3.

Final Stats
Michigan BYU
Score 31 0
Record 3-1 2-2
Total Yards 448 105
Net Rushing Yards 254 50
Net Passing Yards 194 55
First Downs 22 8
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties-Yards 5-53 5-45
Punts-Yards 4-163 11-475
Time of Possession 38:38 21:22
Third Down Conversions 9-of-17 4-of-15
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 3-27 2-15
Field Goals 1-for-1 0-for-0
PATs 4-for-4 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-4 0-of-0
Full Box Score

After a BYU three-and-out, Michigan didn’t waste much time getting on the board again. Sione Houma rushed for eight yards and then De’Veon Smith broke out of a crowd and raced 60 yards, fending off a Cougar defender much of the way, for an impressive touchdown.

Another BYU three-and-out gave Michigan the ball back at its own 41 and the Wolverines kept the foot on the gas pedal. A roughing the passer penalty put Michigan in BYU territory and six plays later, Rudock crossed the goal line for the second time. This time, he raced down the left sideline from 17 yards out to put Michigan ahead 28-0. But they still weren’t done.

A clock-chewing drive that featured runs by Smith, Houma, Rudock, and Drake Johnson, as well as a 12-yard pass to Jehu Chesson and 18-yarder to Darboh, resulted in a 40-yard Kenny Allen field goal to give Michigan a comfortable 31-0 lead at the half.

Neither team scored in the game’s final 30 minutes as Michigan’s offense simply tried to run clock. The biggest drama of the second half was whether or not the defense could keep BYU out of the end zone and hold the Cougars below 100 total yards. Well, the Wolverines achieved one of the two as BYU never got closer than the Michigan 44, but topped the 100-yard mark as the games closing seconds ticked down.

Michigan outgained BYU 448 to 105 and held a Cougar offense that came in averaging more than 30 points per game scoreless. Michigan rushed for 254 yards and held BYU to just 50.

Smith led the way with 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries (7.8 yards per carry), while Rudock completed 14 of 25 passes for 194 yards, a touchdown, and two rushing scores. Darboh led all receivers with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Michigan’s stifling defense held BYU’s heralded freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum to just 12 of 28 passing for 55 yards, and sacked him three times. BYU running back Adam Hine gained just 33 yards on eight carries, 29 of which came on one run.

After the game, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall — whose team has already faced Nebraska, No. 20 Boise State, and No. 10 UCLA this season — was exceedingly complimentary of the team that dominated his Cougars.

“In my opinion, that was the best team we played to this point, not only physically, but execution wise,” Mendenhall said of Harbaugh’s Wolverines.

BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae agreed with Mendenhall’s statement and added, “We were dominated in every facet, their defense over our offense — every guy, every play…we were beat from top to bottom, play one through, uh, whatever it was.”

Those words from the coaching staff of a ranked team that Michigan just manhandled are music to the ears of Michigan fans longing for a return to the Michigan of old. And Saturday’s performance was the closest they’ve seen to that in nearly a decade.

Michigan improved to 3-1 on the season and will begin Big Ten play next Saturday at Maryland (2-2). The Terrapins lost to West Virginia 45-6 this weekend. BYU, meanwhile, gets a major reprieve from a tough opening four games when they host UConn on Friday night.

Game Ball – Offense

De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards, 1 TD)
For 15 of Smith’s 16 carries, he averaged a pedestrian 4.3 yards per carry. But three of those runs were on the first two drives of the third quarter when the playbook went vanilla, up 31-0. And to discount his highlight-reel 60-yard run is doing him a disservice, especially since the whole thing was pretty much all him. He didn’t get a huge hole, he squeezed through one. He benefit from downfield blocks, he shrugged off a defender. The only negative of the day was a sprained ankle suffered in the third quarter, but as long as it doesn’t hold him out for long, it’s clear that Smith is by far the top guy in the backfield.
Honorable Mention: Jake Rudock (14 of 25 for 194 yards, 1 TD. 10 carries for 33 yards, 2 TDs)

Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
When a defense holds an opponent to just 105 total yards, you can pretty much pick anyone as the game MVP. And Saturday’s performance was truly a team effort as no individual player had more than four tackles and none had a takeaway. But after the game when I stopped to think about which defensive player stood out the most it was Ryan Glasgow. Although he only made three tackles, he made the most of them with two behind the line of scrimmage. With BYU near midfield, he burst through the line and tackled running back Adam Hine for a loss of six. In the second quarter, on 3rd-and-8, he stuffed Hine for a loss of three. After years of mediocre defensive line play it is great to see the game ball go to a defensive lineman three of the first four weeks.

Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 14-25 194 7.8 1 0 41 2
Tanner Mangum 12-28 55 2.0 0 0 14 3
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
De’Veon Smith 16 125 7.8 1 60
Adam Hine 8 33 4.1 0 29
Jake Rudock 10 33 3.3 2 17
Francis Bernard 4 30 7.5 0 13
Derrick Green 10 28 2.8 0 6
Drake Johnson 5 26 5.2 0 11
Sione Houma 4 17 4.2 0 8
Blake O’Neill 1 9 9.0 0 9
Ty Isaac 2 9 4.5 0 8
Nate Carter 3 9 3.0 0 4
Ross Taylor-Douglass 3 7 2.3 0 5
Tanner Mangum 6 -18 -3.0 0 9
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Amara Darboh 4 57 14.2 1 21
Jake Butt 1 41
41.0 0 41
Khalid Hill 2 39 19.5 0 20
Jehu Chesson 2 17 8.5 0 12
Drake Johnson 1 14 14.0 0 14
Devon Blackmon 1 14 14.0 0 14
Colby Pearson 2 11 5.5 0 7
Ian Bunting 1 10 10.0 0 10
Nick Kurtz 2 10 5.0 0 7
A.J. Williams 1 7 7.0 0 7
Derrick Green 1 7 7.0 0 7
Mitchell Juergens 2 6 3.0 0 5
Adam Hine 1 5 5.0 0 5
Mitch Mathews 1 4 4.0 0 4
Nate Carter 1 4 4.0 0 4
Terenn Houk 1 3 3.0 0 3
Henry Poggi 1 2 2.0 0 2
Moroni Laulu-Pututau 1 -2 -2.0 0 -2
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 1/1 100.0 40 4/4 7
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Blake O’Neill 4 163 40.8 0 3 49
Jonny Linehan 11 475 43.2 1 2 55
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Devon Blackmon 2 30 15.0 20 0
Eric Takenaka 1 19 19.0 19 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 4 20 5.0 11 0
Micah Hannemann 1 5 5.0 5 0

Five-Spot Challenge 2015: UNLV

Monday, September 14th, 2015


Congratulations to kashkaav for winning Week 2 of the Five-Spot Challenge. For the second straight week our winner was the only contestant with a deviation under 100. Kashkaav’s 97 was 70.3 points better than second place Jim Mackiewicz’s 167.3. Kashkaav correctly predicted Michigan’s 225 rushing yards, was the closest to Seth Collins’ total yards (just 28 away), and was second closest to Jake Butt’s receiving yards (11 away).

Hazel Parker was closest to Butt’s receiving yards (nine away), while Northsider7 nearly predicted Jake Rudock’s quarterback rating exactly, only 0.3 away from Rudock’s 119.7. The1tab‘s prediction of 19 yards was the closest to Michigan’s longest kick or punt return, which was 11.

All 20 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 35 – Oregon State 18. No one correctly predicted the final score, but Northsider7 nearly did with his prediction of 35-10.

The weekly results have been updated and the overall standings will be updated shortly.

This Saturday Michigan hosts UNLV for what should be the easiest game of the season. The Rebels lost to Northern Illinois 38-30 in Week 1 and No.13 UCLA 37-3 this past weekend. Here are this week’s picks:

Michigan 35 – Oregon State 7: Wolverines ground and pound Beavers

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Harbaugh vs Oregon State(

Jim Harbaugh collected his first win in Michigan Stadium in 29 years when his Wolverines topped Oregon State on Saturday afternoon, 35-7. But he couldn’t have asked for a worse first three minutes.

Oregon State took the opening kickoff and diced the Michigan defense with ease, scoring the game’s first touchdown on a seven play, 79-yard drive that took just 1:59. Michigan took possession and on the third play, Jake Rudock was sacked by Rommel Mageo and fumbled, giving Oregon State the ball back at the Michigan 41.

Staring a possible 10 or 14 point deficit in the face, the Michigan defense came up with a big play as Mario Ojemudia forced a Victor Bolden fumble. Joe Bolden recovered at the 37 and raced 18 yards to the OSU 37. Eight plays later, Michigan was forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Kenny Allen.

The two teams traded punts on each of their next two possessions, with an Oregon State failed fourth-down conversion in between, until Michigan finally put together a scoring drive. The Wolverines took possession at their own 31 and went 69 yards in 12 plays, capped off by a 1-yard De’Veon Smith touchdown run, their first first-half touchdown of the season.

Final Stats
Michigan OregonSt.
Score 35 7
Record 1-1 1-1
Total Yards 405 138
Net Rushing Yards 225 59
Net Passing Yards 180 79
First Downs 21 12
Turnovers 2 1
Penalties-Yards 10-105 8-62
Punts-Yards 3-127 7-272
Time of Possession 38:01 21:59
Third Down Conversions 6-of-13 1-of-11
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-1 0-of-2
Sacks By-Yards 2-17 1-17
Field Goals 2-for-2 0-for-0
PATs 3-for-3 1-for-1
Red Zone Scores-Chances 5-of-5 1-of-1
Full Box Score

Oregon State took the ball with 4:03 left in the half, looking to retake the lead before the break. Michigan’s defense held strong, forcing a punt, but as OSU punter Nick Porebski bobbled the snap, he appeared to tuck the ball and start running before finally booting it away. Michigan corner Jeremy Clark ran into him after the punt, and to Harbaugh’s dismay, was called for a 15-yard penalty. Harbaugh threw one of his trademark tantrums, the first time as Michigan’s head coach, but the call stood.

Now in Michigan territory, Oregon State still couldn’t muster any offense and was forced to punt once again. This time, Porebski got it away and it was downed at the Michigan 2-yard line. However, the Beavers were flagged for an illegal formation and backed up to the Michigan 49 to re-kick. The snap sailed over Proebski’s head and by the time he recovered, he was tackled at his own 3-yard line. Three plays later, Michigan scored again to take a 17-7 lead into the locker room.

Michigan took the opening possession of the second half 78 yards in 12 plays, but the drive stalled at the Oregon State 11 and Kenny Allen booted a 29-yard field goal.

After trading punts, Michigan had Oregon State backed up deep in their own territory, and on 3rd-and-9, Chris Wormley sacked quarterback Marcus McMaryion for a loss of nine. The ensuing punt gave Michigan the ball at the OSU 39, and after a first down run by Smith was called back for an illegal block, Rudock connected with redshirt freshman tight end Ian Bunting for 21 yards into the red zone. As the fourth quarter began, Smith ran it in from eight yards out to put Michigan ahead 28-7.

The Michigan defense forced a three and out, but Rudock was picked off by Mageo near midfield. Once again, Michigan’s defense rose to the occasion and forced another three and out. With the game in hand and clock needing to be run, Harbaugh put the ball in the hands of his running back stable. Derrick Green carried it four times for 23 yards, then Ty Isaac three times for 17. Green got two more carries for four yards before Rudock found Bunting for 12 to the OSU 17. Sione Houma got in on the action with a seven yard run and Isaac carried the ball down to the two before Green found the end zone to reach the game’s final score. On the drive, Michigan ran the ball 13 times for 61 yards.

When all was said and done, the Wolverines racked up 225 yards on the ground and 405 total yards of offense, while holding Oregon State to just 138. After the game’s opening drive, Michigan held OSU to just 59 total yards the rest of the way.

Smith led Michigan with a career high 126 yards on 23 carries (5.5 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 24 yards. Rudock completed 18 of 26 passes for 180 yards and an interception. Amara Darboh led the Wolverines with four receptions for 50 yards, while Bunting caught two for 33 and Jake Butt caught four for 25.

Harbaugh got his first win as Michigan’s head coach, and just like his mentor, Bo Schembechler, did so by a 28-point margin. He’ll look for number two when Michigan hosts UNLV at noon next Saturday.

Game Ball – Offense

De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
After a rough game against Utah in which De’Veon Smith struggled to find holes, the junior back set a career high with 126 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries against Oregon State. He got better as the game went on, routinely fighting through tackles and carrying defenders for extra yards. Oregon State’s front seven isn’t Utah’s caliber, but if Smith can run like this the rest of the season, Michigan’s offense will continue to improve.
Honorable Mention: Ian Bunting (2 rec for 33 yards)

Previous Game Balls: Jake Butt (Week 1 – 8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Wormley continued to wreak havoc on opposing backfields, recording his second straight game with three tackles for loss. Now with six through two games, he’s nearly halfway to matching last year’s team leader, Jake Ryan, who finished the season with 14.5.
Honorable Mention: Joe Bolden (team-high 7 tackles, 1 fumble recovery)

Previous Game Balls: Chris Wormley (Week 1 – 5 tackles, 3 solo, 3 TFL)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 18-26 180 6.9 0 1 22 1
Seth Collins 9-16 79 4.9 1 0 21 1
Marcus McMaryion 0-3 0 0 0 0 0 1
Victor Bolden 0-1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
De’Veon Smith 23 126 5.5 3 19
Ty Isaac 6 35 5.8 0 12
Derrick Green 8 35 4.4 1 12
Chris Brown 7 33 4.7 0 26
Victor Bolden 4 30 7.5 0 21
Seth Collins 11 28 2.5 0 17
Sione Houma 2 20 10.0 0 13
Storm Woods 3 13 4.3 0 8
Deltron Sands 3 13 4.3 0 6
Jehu Chesson 1 4 4.0 0 4
Drake Johnson 1 3 3.0 0 3
Ross Douglass 1 3 3.0 0 3
Joe Kerridge 2 3 1.5 0 3
Jake Rudock 3 -5 -1.7 0 7
Marcus McMaryion 2 -7 -2.3 0 2
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Amara Darboh 4 50 12.5 0 22
Ian Bunting 2 33
16.5 0 21
Jordan Villarmon 3 26 8.7 0 12
Jake Butt 4 25 6.2 0 10
De’Veon Smith 2 24 12.0 0 20
Victor Bolden 3 23 7.7 0 16
A.J. Williams 1 22 22.0 0 22
Hunter Jarmon 1 21 21.0 1 21
Jehu Chesson 1 14 14.0 0 14
Ty Isaac 1 9 9.0 0 9
Caleb Smith 1 9 9.0 0 9
Joe Kerridge 1 3 3.0 0 3
Drake Harris  2 0 0.0 0 3
Chris Brown 1 0 0.0 0 0
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 2/2 100.0 40 3/3 9
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Blake O’Neill 3 127 42.3 0 1 49
Nick Porebski 7 272 38.9 0 1 43
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 1 11 11.0 11 0
Rahmel Dockery 3 57 19.0 21 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 3 14 4.7 6 0
Rahmel Dockery 1 3 3.0 3 0

Utah 24 – Michigan 17: Harbaugh’s return spoiled

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Jake Butt TD vs Utah(

It was everything we thought it would be except for the outcome we hoped for. The launch of the Jim Harbaugh era featured power running, lots of tight ends, and hard-nosed defense, but also turnovers, missed tackles, missed holes, and overthrows that resulted in a 24-17 loss to Utah on Thursday night.

Utah took the first possession of the game and marched down the field before stalling at the Michigan 12. Andy Phillips kicked a 29-yard field goal to put the first point on the board. Michigan responded with a good drive of its own with Jake Rudock starting at quarterback and De’Veon Smith getting the nod at running back. A Rudock 24-yard pass to Jake Butt put Michigan across midfield for the first time this season, but on 3rd-and-5 from the Utah 21, Rudock was intercepted by Cory Butler-Byrd.

Michigan’s defense stepped up to force a three-and-out on Utah’s next two possessions, the second resulted in a Utah punt form its own 2-yard line and Michigan getting the ball at the Utah 41. Two plays later, Rudock found Amara Darboh for 28 yards, and as the second quarter began, Michigan got on the board with a 29-yard Kenny Allen field goal.

Final Stats
Michigan Utah
Score 17 24
Record 0-1 1-0
Total Yards 355 337
Net Rushing Yards 76 129
Net Passing Yards 279 208
First Downs 20 20
Turnovers 3 1
Penalties-Yards 3-25 6-55
Punts-Yards 3-130 4-192
Time of Possession 30:41 29:19
Third Down Conversions 6-of-16 3-of-13
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2 2-of-3
Sacks By-Yards 1-6 0-0
Field Goals 1-for-2 1-for-3
PATs 2-for-2 3-for-3
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 3-of-3
Full Box Score

Utah responded with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured three plays of 10 yards or more. Star running back Devontae Booker carried it in from a yard out to put Utah ahead 10-3.

Two possessions later, Michigan drove into Utah territory, but Rudock was picked off for the second time, this time by Marcus Williams, setting the Utes up at midfield. But Michigan’s defense held strong, forcing a field goal attempt, which Phillips missed from 48 yards.

Michigan opened the second half with a nice drive to the Utah 26, but came up empty when Allen missed a 44-yard field goal. On the drive, sophomore tight end Ian Bunting caught a 12-yard pass and Daboh a 16-yard pass, but Michigan was unable to get any points.

Utah finally got its running game going on the ensuing drive, marching 74 yards on 10 plays to take a 14 point lead. Booker rushed for three yards, then 10 yards, followed by Joe Williams for seven and quarterback Travis Wilson for eight. The latter was called back for holding, but Booker came right back with a run of eight. Wilson completed a 15-yard pass to freshman Britain Covey, and two plays later Wilson found Harris Handley for 18. On the next play, Wilson found the end zone on a 14-yard run.

Still without a touchdown midway through the third quarter of its first game, Michigan needed one to get back in the game. And the Wolverines did just that, going 75 yards on 12 plays. The drive was aided by a 15-yard late hit penalty on Utah linebacker Gionni Paul that gave Michigan first down instead of 4th-and-9. On the very next play, Rudock connected with Jake Butt for a 19-yard touchdown.

Utah put together a good drive, but it stalled at the Michigan 28 and Phillips missed another field goal, this time from 46 yards. Rudock hit Darboh for 16 yards and Smith rushed for seven to get across midfield, but on 3rd-and-3, Utah corner Justin Thomas jumped in front of a Rudock pass intended for freshman Grant Perry and raced 55 yards untouched into the end zone to put Utah ahead 24-10.

Running out of time, Michigan advanced into Utah territory, but on 4th-and-1 from the Utah 35, Smith was stuffed for no gain, giving the ball back to Utah. After forcing a punt, Michigan took over with 2:46 remaining and put together a solid two-minute drill. Rudock connected with Perry for gains of six, 10, and 25, Jehu Chesson for nine, Butt for 16, and finally Darboh for a 10-yard touchdown to pull Michigan within 24-17 with just 54 seconds remaining.

Allen’s onside kick attempt went out of bounds and Michigan was out of chances.

Rudock finished the game 27-of-43 for 279 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Smith gained 48 yards on 17 carries (2.8 yards per carry). Darboh led all receivers with 101 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions, while Butt added 93 yards and a score on eight catches. Joe Bolden led Michigan’s defense with 13 tackles, while Chris Wormley recored three tackles for loss and Jabrill Peppers added two.

As a team, Michigan outgained Utah for the second straight year, 355 to 337, but both resulted in a loss. Michigan managed just 79 yards rushing. Michigan’s defense held Booker to just 69 yards rushing on 22 carries, well below of his per-game average a year ago.

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards, 1 TD)
While the running game couldn’t get going and Jake Rudock had trouble with his accuracy downfield and turned it over three times, the one constant was Butt. The junior tight end entered the season expected to thrive in Jim Harbaugh’s offense did nothing to disappoint. He had catches of four, 24, six, three, four, 19 (TD), 17, and 16. Six of his eight catches went for first downs, three of which were on third down, which accounts for half of Michigan’s third-down conversions.
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh (8 rec for 101 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 solo, 3 TFL)
One of the question marks entering the season was who would step up on Michigan’s defensive line? It lost Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer, and expected breakout player Bryan Mone suffered a preseason injury. Senior end Chris Wormley answered the challenge in Week 1, constantly ripping into the Utah backfield and recording three tackles for loss.
Honorable Mention: Jabrill Peppers (8 tackles, 7 solo, 2 TFL)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 27-43 279 6.5 2 3 28 0
Travis Wilson 24-33 208 6.3 0 0 20 1
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
Devontae Booker 22 69 3.1 1 16
Travis Wilson  12 53 4.4 1 14
De’Veon Smith 17 47 2.8 0 7
Ty Isaac 4 12 3.0 0 5
Jake Rudock 5 11 2.2 0 4
Joe Williams 1 7 7.0 0 7
Joe Kerridge 1 5 5.0 0 5
Derrick Green 2 1 0.5 0 2
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Amara Darboh 8 101 12.8 1 28
Jake Butt 8 93 11.6  1 24
Britain Covey 5 58 11.6 0 20
Devontae Booker 7 55 12.5 0 18
Grant Perry 3 41 13.7 0 25
Harrison Handley 2 25 12.5 0 18
Jehu Chesson 3 22 7.3 0 9
Bubba Poole 3 22 7.3 0 14
Siale Fakailoatonga 2 17 8.5 0 13
Kenneth Scott 2 15 7.5 0 9
Ian Bunting 1 12 12.0 0 12
Tyrone Smith 2 11 5.5 0 8
De’Veon Smith 1 6 6.0 0 6
Evan Moeai 1 5 5.0 0 5
Ty Isaac 1 3 3.0 0 3
A.J. Williams 1 2 2.0 0 2
Brian Cole 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 1/2 50.0 29 2/2 5
Andy Phillips 1/3 33.3 30 3/3 6
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Tom Hackett 4 192 48.0 2 0 74
Blake O’Neill 3 130 43.3 0 1 50
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 1 36 36.0 36 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Britain Covey 1 14 14.0 14 0

Michigan vs Utah projected starter comparison

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

UM-Utah(Rick Osentoski, USA Today Sports)

Michigan and Utah kick off the college football season tomorrow night. Both teams released their initial depth charts earlier this week, so before we get to our full game preview, we thought it would be fun to compare the projected starters based on their production from last season to see who has the advantage at each position.
Michigan-Utah starters 2014 comparison_Offense


Michigan has a pretty good advantage in terms of returning production with the exception of running back and left guard. At quarterback, Jake Rudock threw for 266 more yards than Travis Wilson, though Wilson threw two more touchdown passes. Utah lost three of its top four receivers — Kaelin Clay, Westlee Tonga, and Dres Anderson — so although Michigan didn’t see a lot of production from that position last season, the Wolverines still have a slight edge. Along the line, Michigan returns its entire unit and has a 77 to 55 advantage in career starts.

Michigan-Utah starters 2014 comparison_Defense

*at Los Angeles Harbor College

Defense is the expected strength of Michigan’s team heading into the season, but in terms of returning production, Utah has the edge in most spots. Chris Wormley is the only projected starter on the line that has more tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks than his counterpart on Utah. At linebacker, Desmond Morgan got injured in Michigan’s first game last season, so we used his 2013 stats for this. He has a big edge over Jason Whittingham. Michigan’s secondary has a lot of potential, but only Jourdan Lewis has more returning production than his counterpart.

Tomorrow we’ll dive into Utah in more depth in our full game preview.

Predicting Michigan 2015: The running backs

Thursday, July 16th, 2015


Miami Ohio v Michigan

It seems long ago that five-star recruit Derrick Green’s commitment to the University of Michigan sent former head coach Brady Hoke into tears of joy. Ever since that day (Jan. 26, 2013), Michigan’s offense has left fans crying for another reason.

Though much of the blame for the team’s poor rushing performance over the past few years belongs to the offensive line, a few highly-regarded running backs have certainly struggled to live up to the hype. Green and classmate De’Veon Smith, once regarded near-elite talents in the running game, have failed to combine for 1,000 rushing yards in a single season midway through their college careers.

With an improving offensive line and even more viable options in the backfield, the rushing game should see a marked improvement in 2015.

Potential starters

For a team that struggled to rush the ball consistently under Hoke, Michigan does return a slew of potential weapons for Jim Harbaugh’s maiden voyage. Perhaps the most interesting case is that of Drake Johnson, who took the reins in the second half of last season before an injury ended his campaign a few quarters early at Ohio State.

Ty Isaac

Ty Isaac showed promise as a freshman at USC in 2013 and will get a chance to lead Michigan’s backfield this fall (David Cleveland, AP)

Johnson earned a chance at the top spot against Indiana, when he rushed for 122 yards and two scores on 16 carries. Though he only gained 30 yards on 10 carries against Northwestern, the junior finished on a strong note, gaining 168 yards and scoring twice on 29 carries in the team’s final two games. He averaged just over six yards per carry in 60 total attempts and scored four touchdowns. If he fully recovers in time for the season, Johnson will get a shot to win the starting job.

But even with a full recovery, Johnson’s ceiling is much lower than that of Derrick Green, who started to run more effectively before breaking his collar bone midway through the 2014 season. Green rushed for 170 yards on 15 carries in the opener against Appalachian State and averaged 6.2 yards per carry against both Miami (Ohio) and Rutgers.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Green didn’t show up to the two biggest games of his season, rushing for only 31 yards on 19 combined carries against Notre Dame and Minnesota. As a freshman in 2013, Green averaged fewer than four yards per carry in eight of the 11 games he played in and failed to record a single 100-yard game.

Green offers the best combination of power and athleticism in the Michigan running back unit, which should give him a leg up as the Wolverines transition into a more power-based offensive attack under Harbaugh. But the junior will ultimately have to find his consistency and earn the job on the field, something he’s been unable to do through two seasons.

De’Veon Smith, often the forgotten man behind Green — and later Johnson — in the rotation, stood as the only Michigan back to carry the ball in every single game last season. Smith led the team with 519 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and averaged a solid 4.8 yards per carry.

Though Smith developed a bit of a nose for the end zone last season, he earned only 108 carries in 12 games and gained over 60 yards in a game only twice – a 115-yard effort in the opener against Appalachian State and a 121-yard game in Northwestern.

Smith is the most stable running back on Michigan’s depth chart; he has neither an outstanding chance to over perform nor a colossal chance to fail. The best case scenario for Michigan would be one of the more explosive backs earning the starting job so that Smith can slot into a productive backup role he clearly deserves.

The final piece of the starting running back puzzle is USC transfer Ty Isaac, who came to Ann Arbor after one season with the Trojans. Isaac received only 40 carries for USC as a true freshman in 2013, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns.

A former five-star recruit out of Illinois, Isaac stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs around 240 pounds. If he does win the job, he’s got the best body to become a workhorse and take over the Michigan offense. He was a single-cut back coming out of high school with good burst and quick feet for his size. Isaac can also be a weapon in the passing game, which can only help his chances with a new quarterback taking over the system.

My initial reaction to this four-man battle for the starting job was that Green and Johnson, who each put together solid half-seasons before injuries last season, would head into the season as frontrunners. But Isaac’s size and agility might actually be the deciding factors if he can shake off the rust from a year on the sideline.

New running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley has a tough decision ahead of him in naming a starting back, but too much talent is a good problem to face.

Projected Stats – Isaac
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
120 672 5.6 8 51.7
Career Stats
2013* 40 236 5.9 2 16.9
Totals 40 236 5.9 2 16.9
*All at USC
Projected Stats – Green
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
95 510 5.4 6 39.2
Career Stats
2014 82 471 5.7 3 78.5
2013 83 270 3.3 2 20.8
Totals 165 741 4.5 5 39.0
Projected Stats – Johnson
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
60 340 5.7 4 26.2
Career Stats
2014 60 361 6.0 4 30.1
2013 2 9 4.5 0 9.0
2012 0 0 N/A 0 N/A
Totals 62 370 6.0 4 28.5
Projected Stats – Smith
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
50 235 4.7 6 18.1
Career Stats
2014 108 519 4.8 6 43.3
2013 26 117 4.5 0 9.8
Totals 134 636 4.7 6 26.5


Michigan added another piece to the running back corps through recruiting this spring, flipping three-star Karan Higdon from Iowa at the last minute. The 5-foot-10, 190 pound back rushed for 15 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards on 185 carries as a junior and gives Michigan a quick outside runner who can make defenders miss in the open field.

Higdon committed to Wheatley on Feb. 4 as one of the first recruits to join Harbaugh’s class. He’s a north-south runner, which will fit well into the new offensive scheme, and has above-average power for a light back.

With the four upper classmen mentioned above, it’s possible that Higdon will take a redshirt as a freshman, perhaps to add more weight before hitting the field in 2016. But as the only guy on the team who was actually recruited by Harbaugh, don’t count anything out.

Projected Stats – Higdon
Redshirt or very little playing time this fall

Meet the rest

Antonio Whitfield, junior, 5’4″, 160, from Canal Winchester, Ohio, no career stats

Junior Wyatt Shallman‘s claim to fame so far in his first couple of years at Michigan was adopting a wallaby last month. On the field, he has recorded just one carry in last year’s season opener against Appalachian State. He was featured in the spring game in April, gaining 22 yards on 12 carries while Johnson and Isaac sat out, but in a crowded backfield he won’t see much time this fall.

Projected Stats – Shallman
Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards YPC TDs YPG
5 21 4.2 0 1.6
Career Stats
2014 1 5 5.0 0 0.4
2013 0 0 N/A 0 N/A
Totals 1 5 5.0 0 0.4

Senior day letdown: Maryland 23 – Michigan 16

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Senior Day 2014(

Twelve seniors took the field in Michigan Stadium on Saturday for the final time, but their senior day was spoiled by conference newcomer Maryland, who came away with its first ever win over Michigan, 23-16.

After forcing a Maryland three-and-out to start the game, Michigan’s offense took over on its own 36. On 4th-and-1, De’Veon Smith was flagged for a false start, moving the ball back five yards and forcing Michigan to punt. But fullback Joe Kerridge took a fake punt 52 yards to the Maryland 8-yard line, setting Michigan up 1st-and-goal. Michigan was unable to punch it into the end zone and had to settle for a 22-yard Matt Wile field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

Neither team was able to muster any offense the rest of the quarter until Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown connected with Jacquille Veii for 21 yards to the Michigan 28 on the final play of the quarter. Michigan’s defense stiffened and forced a 38-yard Brad Craddock field goal to tie the game.

Final Stats
Michigan Maryland
Score 16 23
Record 5-6, 3-4 7-4, 4-3
Total Yards 398 312
Net Rushing Yards 292 147
Net Passing Yards 106 165
First Downs 23 17
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 3-24 4-30
Punts-Yards 2-86 4-154
Time of Possession 34:00 26:00
Third Down Conversions 5-of-13 3-of-12
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-3 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 2-17 2-19
Field Goals 3-for-4 3-for-3
PATs 1-for-1 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 4-of-4 4-of-5
Full Box Score

Dennis Norfleet returned the kickoff 31 yards, and Michigan quickly moved into Maryland territory. A 24-yard Devin Gardner run followed by a Maryland pass interference set Michigan up 1st-and-goal at the five. But back-to-back runs for no gain and a 11-yard sack on third down forced Michigan to settle for another field goal, this time from 33 yards. Maryland answered with a 41-yards field goal.

On the second play of Michigan’s next possession, William Likely intercepted Gardner at the Michigan 37 and returned it 29 yards to the Michigan eight. Yet again, the Michigan defense held strong and forced a 21-yard field goal to give Maryland its first lead of the game, 9-6.

Michigan got the ball at its own 16 with 1:50 remaining in the half. Five straight Drake Johnson runs gained 49 yards before Gardner found Jake Butt for four yards and 17 yards to the Maryland 9-yard line. But with time running out, Michigan had to kick its third field goal of the half, this time from 26 yards out, to knot the game at nine at the half.

The first drive of the second half was the Gardner show as he completed a 7-yard pass to Devin Funchess on 3rd-and-6, rushed for 22 yards to the Maryland 33, and then found the end zone on a 15-yard run a few plays later. Michigan led 16-9.

Michigan forced a Maryland punt and Norfleet returned it 69 yards for a touchdown, but A.J. Pearson was flagged for an illegal block. Instead of taking a 23-9 lead, Michigan’s offense moved to the Maryland 32, but couldn’t convert a 4th-and-6.

As the third quarter came to a close, Maryland caught the Michigan defense off balance with an up-tempo offense and entered the Michigan red zone. A 3rd-and-12 pass fell incomplete and Maryland had to settle for yet another field goal. But Jourdan Lewis was flagged for roughing the kicker, giving the Terrapins a 1st-and-goal. They took advantage on the next play with an 8-yard Brown touchdown run to tie the game at 16.

Michigan missed a 39-yard field goal on its next possession and Maryland marched right down the field for its second straight touchdown drive, this time a 1-yard Brown run, to take a 23-16 lead.

Johnson ran for 17 yards on the first play of Michigan’s ensuing possession, but the offense stalled. Justice Hayes lost three yards and a Gardner pass fell incomplete setting up 3rd-and-13. Gardner ran for 10 yards, but on 4th-and-3 from the 49-yard line, Funchess was unable to reel in Gardner’s pass and Maryland took over on downs. The Terps ran the clock out and sent Michigan to its sixth loss.

Gardner completed 13-of-24 passes for 106 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. He also rushed 14 times for 82 yards and a score. Johnson led Michigan on the ground with 94 yards on 14 carries. As a team, Michigan racked up 292 rushing yards, its second-best performance of the season, and 398 total yards, good for fourth-best. For the third time this season, Michigan out-gained its opponent in total yards, but lost. Maryland gained 312 total yards.

Michigan fell to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines have to win at Ohio State next Saturday to gain bowl eligibility. A loss would give Michigan its third losing season in the last seven years and the first under Brady Hoke. The Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten East division with a 42-27 win over Indiana, but still have plenty to play for, including a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.

Final Look: Northwestern

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


Michigan topped Northwestern last Saturday in one of the ugliest offensive games played this season by both teams. The Wolverines get a bye week this week to rest up and prepare for the final two games of the season, of which they must win at least one to gain bowl eligibility. But instead of taking a bye week myself, I decided to torture myself during the by week by diving deeper into the advanced stats from Michigan’s 10-9 win in Evanston. And you get to read it. Luck you.

Advanced Statistics
Michigan Stat (National Average) Northwestern
59 Total Plays 84
 42.2 Avg. Starting Field Position (29.9) 28.1
15 Possessions 14
7 Scoring Opportunities 3
 1.4 Points per Opportunity (4.69) 3.0
 67.2% Leverage Rate (68.2%) 65.1%
 39.7% Success Rate (41.9%) 41.0%
 21.0% Success Rate Passing Downs (30.6%) 24.1%
 48.7% Success Rate Standard Downs (47.1%) 50.0%
 33.3% Success Rate Passing (40.2%) 50.9%
44.1% Success Rate Rushing (43.5%) 21.4%
3 Turnovers 3
14.5 Equivalent Points 12.3
0.25 Equivalent Points Per Play 0.15

As I’ve said before, I’m working to expand this section in the future, and hoping to put in some work to go back and calculate the previous games this season as well as last season so I can draw comparisons between this year’s offense and last year’s. The stats and formulas used are from Football Outsiders and Football Study Hall.

Northwestern ran 25 more plays than Michigan but didn’t score until its final two possessions, which went for 19 plays and 14 plays. Michigan had a huge advantage in field position, but didn’t take advantage of it until Tony Jones fumbled a punt and Michigan took possession at the Northwestern 21 and scored two plays later. Michigan had seven scoring opportunities and only scored on two of them, while Northwestern had only three, but scored on two. Michigan had a slightly better leverage rage* but Northwestern had the better overall success rate** on everything except rushing.

*Leverage Rate: Standard downs/(Standard downs + passing downs)
**Success Rate: 50% of necessary yards on first down, 70% on second down, 100% on third or fourth down
***Passing Down is considered 2nd & 7 or more, 3rd & 5 or more, 4th & 5 or more

Let’s take a look at the Five Factors.

Five Factors
Michigan Stat Northwestern
4.4 Yards Per Play 3.2
 39.7% Success Rate 41.0%
42.2 Avg Starting Field Position 28.1
1.4 Points Per Opportunity 3.0
Even Turnover Margin Even

Michigan won two of the five factors, lost two, and tied one. Per Football Study Hall, here are the chances of winning based on each of these five factors:

Yards Per Play (weighted 35%)
• Michigan +1.2 = 86.2 percent chance of winning, with an average scoring margin of 13.2 (Michigan won by 1).

Success Rate (25%)
 Northwestern +1.3% = 59.2 percent chance of winning, with an average scoring margin of 3.6 (Northwestern lost by 1).

Average Starting Field Position (15%)
 Michigan +14.1 = 86.7 percent chance of winning, with an average scoring margin of 19.9 (Michigan won by 1).

Points Per Opportunity (15%)
 Northwestern +1.6 = 74.7 percent chance of winning, with an average scoring margin of 11.4 (Northwestern lost by 1).
However, Michigan had more scoring opportunities (seven to three) and a worse scoring average, which equates to a winning percentage of 64.8.

Turnover Margin (10%)
 Even = 50 percent chance of winning, with an average scoring margin of 0 (Michigan won by 1).

Michigan won two — Yards per Play (35 percent) and Field Position (15 percent) — and tied turnover margin (5 percent). Added together, that equates to a 55 percent overall chance of winning, which they did by one point. Northwestern won two — Success Rate (25 percent) and PPO (15 percent) — and tied turnover margin (5 percent). Added together, that equates to a 45 percent chance of winning. They lost by one.

Sometimes the advanced stats show an outlier that can help explain the outcome of a game. But this game was about as even as it gets with neither team having much success offensively, and the advanced stats prove exactly that.

Drive Chart

*Hover over team initials to see drive statistics, Dash indicates direction of drive, Green dash = scoring play, Grey = punt, Red = turnover, Pink = missed field goal, Black = end of half or turnover on downs, Shaded line = special teams or defensive touchdown

The numbers game

12: Michigan allowed a season-low 12 rushing yards

150: Michigan rushed for at least 150 yards in back-to-back games for the first time this season

45: Jake Ryan’s career tackles for loss, moving into a tie for sixth in Michigan’s record book with Glen Steele (1994-97)

121: De’Veon Smith rushed for a career-high 121 yards

2: Mario Ojemudia recorded the first two sacks of his career

6: Michigan has won six straight games at Northwestern

732: Devin Gardner passed Todd Collins (1991-94) and Tom Brady (1996-99) for fifth place in career passing attempts with 732