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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Football’

Tailgate Tuesday: Irish stout pepper beef

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014


TailgateTuesday_banner-Week2

Tailgate Tuesday is our exclusive collaboration with Joe from MmmGoBluBBQ. These will be posted each Tuesday throughout the season and each recipe will be themed around that week’s opponent.

Previously: Hot-’n-Fast pulled pork with Carolina mustard slaw.

Now that we’ve got that Mountaineer monkey off our back, it’s time to start focusing on those “Fighting Irish” in Week 2. Since I have a few Guinness Extra Stouts leftover from last week’s drink recipe, let’s put em to good use in this version of Pepper Stout Beef. This was not only easy, but could be my new favorite sandwich. It combines everything I love when tailgating: meat, peppers, onions and beer. Find something in that combo that is not good.  I dare ya.  It’s not only tasty, but very versatile and freezes well. I love it on a toasted ciabatta roll, but could also be served on sourdough, hawaiian bread, french rolls, tortillas or even regular hamburger buns. This is perfect for a night game as it takes about six hours to complete. Here’s what you will need.

Ingredients:

• 4-5 lb chuck roast
• 3 bell peppers. (I used three: one red, one green and one yellow)
• 4 jalapeños (I like it hot, but use two for less heat)
• 1 large red onion
• 6 garlic cloves (crushed)
• 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
• 12-oz bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
• Kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

Start with a four-pound chuck roast and trim a little of the extra fat. If there isn’t any extra, your ready to season it up. What a beautiful hunk of meat. Cover the chuck roast with salt and pepper mix. I love pepper, so I went extra heavy in this area. It adds a nice crust once the roast has been on the smoker or grill for a few hours.

Pepper beef 1-2

Smoke the roast at 275 for about three hours with three chunks of hickory wood (three per hour). Hickory is the perfect wood for red meat.

While the roast is on the smoker/grill, it’s a good time to assemble to the other ingredients.

Cut up the peppers, onions, jalapeños and garlic and add to an aluminum pan along with the Worcestershire sauce and Guinness. Mix ‘em up and let them wait for the meat.

Pepper beef 4-5

After three hours and once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, it’s time to take the meat out of the smoker. The higher temp will add a nice crust to the meat along with a pink ring of smokiness.

I want to dig in now, but we are still three hours away from tasty goodness. Don’t worry, it’s a night game, so we have plenty of time. At 165 degrees, its time to add the meat to the veggies. Add the meat and foil tightly.

Pepper beef 6-7-8

Crank up the smoker/grill to 350 degrees and let go for another three hours. Since we are done with the smoke, we can even throw it in the oven at this point. This will make the meat super tender and keep the juices in. After about three hours, give it a look. The meat should be fork tender and the veggies will be soft and juicy. If you don’t have a set of Meat Rakes, get some to help shred. This is one of my favorite BBQ tools. They do a great job shredding and pulling pork and beef. Go ahead and shred and mix it up.

Once the meat and veggies are all mixed up, its time to put everything back in the 350 degree smoker/grill/oven (UNCOVERED) for about 30 minutes until the juice reduces by half. This will help it thicken up.

Pepper beef 9-10

After 30 minutes, it should look like this. Grab a ciabatta, tortilla, french roll or just a fork and go to town.

I went with a ciabatta roll for this one. I had some horseradish sauce in the fridge and decided to add this to the toasted roll.

This is one of my faves! It makes a great sandwich and freezes well. I look forward to making a few PSB tacos, burritos and quesadillas in the near future. This is a WINNER!!! Please let me know how your version turns out. ENJOY and GO  BLUE!!!

Pepper beef 11-12

The original version was done by Larry at The Wolfepit. Add it to your BBQ list.
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This week’s drink: Stout Shout

• 2-oz Chocolate Vodka
• 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
• 1 Tbsp Simple Syrup
• 6-oz Irish Stout (Guinness)
• Ice Cubes

To prepare simple syrup, add 1/4 cup sugar to 1/4 cup water and boil in the microwave for about four minutes or until sugar dissolves. Chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Combine vodka, lemon juice, and syrup in drink shaker. Add ice cubes and shake (the shaker, not you). Strain into chilled mug and add guinness. Enjoy!!!

Stout ShoutFor more great recipes, photos, and barbecue ideas, follow Joe on Twitter at @mmmgoblubbq. And don’t forget to check out his site, MmmGoBluBBQ, for recipes, product reviews, and more.

First Look: Notre Dame

Monday, September 1st, 2014


FirstLook-NotreDame

Michigan and Notre Dame both took care of business against inferior opponents in Week 1 and will now turn their attention to each other. As usual, season openers don’t really tell a whole lot since they are usually against lesser opponents and teams are shaking off the rust, working new players into the lineup, and trying to get some rhythm going without opening up too much of the playbook. This season is no different.

The two most storied programs in college football — the two winningest programs in history — will square off for the last scheduled time on Saturday night in Notre Dame Stadium and you can be sure both want to carry bragging rights into the series hiatus. Michigan has mostly dominated the rivalry in recent years, but has historically struggled in South Bend. Notre Dame opened the week as 5.5-point favorites, but do they really have that much of an upper hand? Let’s take a first look at the Irish.

Notre Dame Statistics & Michigan Comparison
NDMichigan Rank Opponent Rank
Points Per Game 48.0 | 52.0 T22 | T15 17.0| 14.0 49T36
Rushing Yards 281350 141 | 153
Rush Avg. Per Game 281.0 | 350.0 25 | 10 141.0 | 153.0 62 | 69
Avg. Per Rush 6.7 | 9.7
3.5 | 4.2
Passing Yards 295210 226 | 127
Pass Avg. Per Game 295.0210.0 34 | 74 226.0 | 127.0 69 | 24
Total Offense 576560 367 | 280
Total Off Avg. Per Game 576.0 | 560.0 16 | 23 367.0 | 280.0 60 | 35
Kick Return Average 24.5 | 36.0 T38 | 8 29.0 | 20.5 T109 | T67
Punt Return Average 16.0 | 23.5 T22 | 12 0.0 | 0.0 T11 | T11
Avg. Time of Possession 30:0930:08 55 | 57
29:51 | 29:52
3rd Down Conversion Pct 46.0% | 62.0% T53 | 15
40.0% | 29.0% T76 | 41
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 1-8 | 1-8
T36 | T36
2-5 | 2-9 T45 | T45
Touchdowns Scored 6 | 7
2 | 2
Field Goals-Attempts 2-31-2 1-2 | 0-0
Red Zone Scores (6-6) 100% | 6-6 100% T1 | T1
(2-2) 100%(2-2) 100% T60 | T60
Red Zone Touchdowns (4-6) 67% | 5-6 83% (1-2) 50% | (2-2) 100%
Everett Golson recorded five touchdowns in the opener (Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

Everett Golson recorded five touchdowns in the opener (Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports)

Statistically, Michigan and Notre Dame had pretty similar openers. Michigan scored four points more and allowed three points fewer, but the quality of opponent was slightly different. While both were “cupcakes”, Rice is projected to have a much better season than Appalachian State is. The Owls went 10-4 in 2013, won Conference USA, and put up a better fight against Texas A&M than they did against Notre Dame on Saturday. USA Today listed Rice at No. 62 in its college football countdown, while they had App State No. 119.

Rice’s defense allowed just two opponents to score more than 34 points last season — Texas A&M in the opener and Mississippi State in the bowl game — but Notre Dame put up 48 against them on Saturday. That’s more points than the Irish scored in a single game in all of 2013. ND did it with a balanced offense of 281 yards rushing and 295 yards passing.

Quarterback Everett Golson had a nice showing in his first game since the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. He missed all of last season due to an academic suspension, but completed 14-of-22 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. He averaged 21.1 yards per completion thanks to a 75-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller and a 53-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Prosise. Golson also rushed 12 times for 41 yards and three scores.

The rushing performance was 17 yards better than any single game last season. The Irish averaged just 151 yards on the ground in 2013 and topped 200 yards just three times with a high of 264 against Navy. On Saturday, it was a combined effort as Greg Bryant (eight carries) and Tarean Folston (12) rushed for 71 yards apiece, backup quarterback Malik Zaire ran for 58 (on two carries), Golson 41, and fullback Cam McDaniel 40.

Defensively, Notre Dame surrendered 367 total yards. Last season, the Irish allowed more than that six times, to Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Navy, BYU, and Stanford. The ND rush defense was okay, allowing 3.5 yards per carry, but the pass defense, which ranked 70th nationally last season, surrendered 226 yards.

This Notre Dame offense certainly looks more potent than last year’s thanks to the return of Golson, and he will be much improved since the last time Michigan faced him at the beginning of 2012. Time will tell whether or not the Irish defense is improved, but Gardner didn’t have much trouble with it a year ago, and the two players who did create some havoc, Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix, are gone.

Key Players
Passing Comp-Att Yards TD INT Long
Everett Golson 14-22 295 2 0 75
Rushing Attempts Yards TD Long Average
Greg Bryant 8 71 1 17 8.9
Tarean Folston 12 71 0 19 5.9
Everett Golson (QB) 12 41 3 14 3.4
Receiving Receptions Yards TD Long Average
Will Fuller 4 85 1 75 21.2
Amir Carlisle 2 54 0 32 27.0
Ben Koyack (TE) 3 51 0 28 17.0
C.J. Prosise 1 53 1 53 53.0
Defense Solo Assisted Total Tackles TFL-Yds Sacks-Yds
Joe Schmidt (LB) 4 4 8 0-0 0-0
Sheldon Day (DT) 2 4 6 1-1 0-0
Matthias Farley (CB) 4 1 5 0.5-1 0.5-1
Jaylon Smith (LB) 3 0 3 1-1 0-0
Full Stats

Stay tuned for more on Notre Dame in the coming days.

Five-Spot Challenge 2014: Notre Dame

Monday, September 1st, 2014


Five-SpotChallenge_Banner1

Congratulations to the first Five-Spot Challenge winner of the season, BigHouseBrandon. His deviation of 141 blew away the field, 104 points better than second-place tooty_pops. BigHouseBrandon was a two-time winner last season, winning the Penn State and Ohio State weeks. In Week 1, he was the closest to Michigan’s rushing total (350), just 35 yards away. His prediction of 25 yards was the closest to Jabrill Peppers’ total return yards (six). He was also consistent on the other three questions, and he wins a $20 M Den gift card.

Tooty_pops was just two away from Devin Gardner’s passing yards (173), while Chris12qb was the closest to correctly predicting Appalachian State’s total yards (280), just five away, and Michigan’s longest field goal made (18 yards), just 12 away. He came in fourth in Week 1, just two points behind last year’s season-long winner, Maizenblu62, who had a total deviation of 266. Only one contestant, MichiganMack, underestimated Gardner’s total passing yards. Everyone else thought he would throw for more. No one predicted Michigan to rush for as many yards as they did. In fact, after last season’s rushing performance, the average prediction was just 212 yards. Everyone also overestimated Peppers’ total return yards, though his injury and the fact that he didn’t play the second half limited his chances.

UOfMWhitson was the closest to correctly predicting the final score, just three points short on Michigan’s end with a prediction of 49-14. The average score prediction of the 22 contestants this week was Michigan 44 – Appalachian State 10. Click here for the full Week 1 results.

This week, Michigan travels to South Bend for the final scheduled showdown with Notre Dame. The Irish looked impressive in beating Rice 48-17 on Saturday. Quarterback Everett Golson threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for three more scores.

Here are this week’s questions:

Not this time: Michigan 52 – Appalachian State 14

Sunday, August 31st, 2014


Funchess TD vs App State(MGoBlue.com)

Seven years ago one of the best collections of senior talent in recent Michigan history suffered the most embarrassing loss in program history. This time around, a Michigan squad entering the season with plenty of questions made sure it didn’t suffer the same fate. Football was back in the Big House and Michigan left no doubt, sending Appalachian State back to Boone, N.C. in a much different fashion than it did in 2007 with a 52-14 loss.

After forcing a three-and-out on App State’s first possession, Michigan didn’t take long to find the end zone. Devin Gardner pitched the ball out to Devin Funchess for 11 yards on the first play, and nine plays later, found Funchess in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown. On the opening drive, Dennis Norfleet caught a 10-yard pass and Jehu Chesson caught a 19-yard pass.

Michigan’s defense forced another App State punt and the second drive began and ended just like the first. Gardner connected with Funchess for 18 yards, and after four De’Veon Smith runs, Gardner hit Funchess for a 34-yard catch and run touchdown to put Michigan ahead 14-0.

Michigan’s offense stalled a bit at the beginning of the second quarter. The Wolverines forced another punt, but couldn’t do much on their third possession of the game. Derrick Green busted a 19-yard run on the possession’s second play, but Gardner was sacked two plays later and Michigan punted. After another App State punt, Gardner hooked up with Amara Darboh for 26 yards to the App State 30. The drive stalled and Matt Wile missed a 48-yard field goal.

UM-AppSt-small-final-final
Final Stats
Michigan App State
Score 52 14
Record 1-0 0-1
Total Yards 560 280
Net Rushing Yards 350 153
Net Passing Yards 210 127
First Downs 24 17
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 4-44 8-69
Punts-Yards 1-46 8-287
Time of Possession 30:08 29:52
Third Down Conversions 5-of-8 5-of-17
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 2-of-3
Sacks By-Yards 2-9 1-8
Field Goals 1-for-2 0-for-0
PATs 7-for-7 2-for-2
Red Zone Scores-Chances 6-of-6 2-of-2
Full Box Score

App State still couldn’t muster any offense, punting it right back to Michigan and the Wolverines’ offense finally clicked once again. Green ripped off a 59-yard run on the first play and Gardner found Funchess for nine yards on the second. A facemask penalty moved the ball to the ASU 8-yard line and Gardner lobbed up a jump ball for Funchess in the back of the end zone on the next play. Funchess leaped over two defenders, caught the ball, and got a foot down to give Michigan a 21-0 lead.

Michigan’s next possession was all on the ground as Smith rambled for 61 yards on the first play and a 12-yard touchdown on the next and it appeared that Michigan would take a 28-0 lead into the half. But the special teams had different plans. After forcing App State to punt once again, Mike McCray blocked the punt and Ben Gedeon picked it up and raced 32 yards for the score. Through one half of play, Michigan had out gained Appalachian State 334-74.

In the second half, Michigan picked up right where it left off, this time letting Green do the work. Green carried the ball on all six plays, yet again breaking a big one, this time for 62 yards, and finishing it off with a one-yard touchdown run.

Appalachian State finally got in on the action, putting together its first extended drive of the day. The Mountaineers went 75 yards in 11 plays, capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Kameron Bryant to Simms McElfresh. The scoring drive was aided by a 34-yard pass from Bryant to Jaylan Barbour.

App State fooled Michigan with an onside kick recovery, but the kicker inadvertently touched the ball before it went 10 yards and Michigan took over at the ASU 44-yard line. Gardner led off the drive with a 17-yard pass to Norfleet, then rushed twice for three and eight yards. After a three-yard pass to Chesson, Smith punctuated the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to put Michigan ahead 49-7.

Michigan forced another App State punt and Shane Morris came in to relieve Gardner. On the drive’s third play, Morris connected with Keith Heitzman for 26 yards, but on the following play, Morris was intercepted at the App State 4-yard line.

The Mountaineers took advantage, marching 96 yards in 19 plays. Marcus Cox carried it in from a yard out for App State’s second touchdown of the game. Matt Wile kicked an 18-yard field goal on Michigan’s next possession and the Wolverines won 52-14.

Gardner passed Tom Brady for seventh on Michigan’s career touchdown list, going 13-of-14 for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Funchess caught seven passes for 95 yards and three scores, becoming the first player in Michigan history to score three touchdowns in the season opener. Green led Michigan with with 170 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries (11.3 yards per carry), while Smith rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries (14.4 yards per carry).

As a team, Michigan amassed 560 total yards and averaged 10.2 yards per play, while holding Appalachian State to just 280 total yards — mostly with the second-team defense in. Michigan converted 5-of-8 third downs and held App State to just 5-of-17. Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley each recorded a sack, while Desmond Morgan and James Ross led the team with six tackles apiece.

Michigan travels to South Bend next Saturday for the final meeting with Notre Dame. The Irish beat Rice 48-17 in Week 1.

Notes: 

Devin Funchess switched from No. 87 to No. 1 prior to the game, marking the first time the number has been worn since Braylon Edwards in 2004.

 The Michigan Stadium attendance of 106,811 was the 252nd consecutive game with more than 100,000 fans.

 Michigan is now 111-21-3 all-time in season openers and Brady Hoke is now 9-3 (4-0 at Michigan).

 The game captains for Michigan were Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark, Devin Gardner, Desmond Morgan, and Jake Ryan.

 Jabrill Peppers was injured in the first quarter, but played the rest of the half. He did not play the second half. Hoke said afterward that he could have gone if needed, but they wanted to keep him healthy for next week.

 Gardner’s 92.8 completion percentage was second in program history with a minimum of 10 completions, behind only Tate Forcier’s 100 percent (12-of-12) versus Bowling Green on Sept. 25, 2010.

• Gardner also passed Tom Brady for ninth in career passing yards (5,280).

 Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith both eclipsed 100 yards, the 38th time two backs have done so in the same game in program history. It was the first time since Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor did so against Minnesota on Oct. 27, 2007.

 Michigan’s streak of 15 consecutive games with a forced turnover ended.

New in Blue: Defensive lineman Darian Roseboro

Friday, August 29th, 2014


Darian Roeboro(Lincoln Times-News)

Darian Roseboro – DL | 6-4, 283 | Lincolnton, N.C. – Lincolnton
ESPN: 4-star, #20 DT Rivals: 4-star, #6 DT 247: 4-star, #6 SDE Scout: 4-star, #14 DT
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Clemson, UCLA, Texas

A day before Michigan begins its season against Appalachian State, the coaching staff received good news from a 2015 recruit. Lincolnton, N.C. defensive lineman Darian Roseboro announced his commitment to the Wolverines via an ESPN.com live stream.

Roseboro is a consensus four-star, ranked in the top 200 nationally by all of the major recruiting services. Rivals lists him the highest at 42nd overall and the sixth-best defensive tackle. 247 Sports has Roseboro as the sixth-best strong-side defensive end and 157th overall, while Scout has him 14th and 151st and ESPN ranks him 20th and 165th. His size is pretty similar across all four. Scout lists him at 6’3″ but the other three have him at 6’4″. His weight ranges from 283 to 293.

Scout’s Chad Simmons had this to say about Roseboro: “A versatile defensive lineman who can move around depending on the scheme. Growing into likely a defensive tackle. Plays with a good motor. Does a sound job playing his gap, doing his job. Can set the edge at end and be disruptive up the field. More of a power player that is very successful when playing with good pad level. Can play high and needs to improve his moves and explosion off the ball. Plays with good balance.”

Last season, Roseboro tallied 125 tackles and 10 sacks. In 2012, he recorded 107 tackles, 30 for loss, eight sacks, forced four fumbles, and recovered four fumbles. As a freshman in 2011, he had 107 tackles, 12 for loss, and seven sacks.

Roseboro had offers from Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Clemson, UCLA, and Texas to name a few. He also spurned home-state North Carolina and N.C. State to commit to Michigan. Roy Manning, who landed Jabrill Peppers, was the main recruiter for Roseboro.

Roseboro is the 11th commitment in the 2015 class, joining quarterback Alex Malzone, receiver Brian Cole, running back Mike Weber, tight end Chris Clark, offensive linemen Grant Newsome and Jon Runyan Jr, defensive backs Tyree Kinnel and Garrett Taylor, linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr, and kicker Andrew David. The commitment pushes Michigan ahead of Alabama in Scout’s average star rankings, though Alabama has 21 commits.

With only one or two scholarships left — perhaps more depending on attrition between now and February — the coaches can be very selective in filling out the class. Another defensive end, five-star Keisean Lucier-South, has an official visit set for Oct. 10 and will likely come down to Michigan or his home-state UCLA.

M&GB staff predictions: Appalachian State

Friday, August 29th, 2014


StaffPicks_banner

The eight-month wait is finally ticking down into the final hours and I’m sure you can hardly contain yourself. Last night we got to watch the first real football of the season and tonight we get to watch our rivals in East Lansing feast on an inferior opponent. Tomorrow, it’s our turn. Seemingly everyone has made their predictions by now and now it’s time to make ours. We make it an internal competition throughout the season to see who is the most accurate. Derick won the title last season, so he will try to repeat. Here are our predictions:

Justin

As I said in this morning’s game preview, there’s not much good that can come out of this game. Win big: good, just as expected. Win close: uh oh. Lose: all hell will break loose. A dominating performance that leaves no doubt is needed, but just like in last season’s opener against Central Michigan, it won’t tell us much going forward. The most important thing for the offense is to get the offensive line some confidence, let Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith show what they can do, and enable Devin Gardner to begin developing chemistry between his talented but inexperienced receiving corps. And against a defense like App State’s all three should happen.

Staff Predictions
Michigan Central Michigan
Justin 52 10
Sam 45 7
Derick 45 14
Josh 52 9
Joe 48 17
M&GB Average 48 11

I’m most excited to see Greg Mattison’s new-look aggressive defense. Running back Marcus Cox is the danger man, but he can’t do it all. Quarterback Kam Bryant is going to have to try to make plays through the air with an inexperienced group of receivers. This has the makings of a big day for the secondary, and can you imagine the hype if Jabrill Peppers makes a big play? Michigan wins big, gives the starters a rest for much of the fourth quarter, and moves on to Notre Dame.

Michigan 52 – Appalachian State 10

Sam

I will be the first to admit that I haven’t watched much (OK, make that any) Appalachian State tape to prepare for my prediction. Hell, I don’t think I’ve seen a single Mountaineer play since that game-that-shall-not-be-named.

What I do know is that Michigan will play Appalachian State to kick off this season for some unknown and illogical reason. Lightning has struck twice before, but I would venture to say that this weekend should see clear skies and a return to normalcy…at least for the time being. Michigan’s depth and athleticism on offense paired with a potentially stout defense should prove to be far too much for Appalachian State (don’t worry, I just knocked on wood…twice). The Devin-to-Devin connection will reach paydirt twice while both Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith both score TDs along with the first career scoring reception from Amara Darboh. Michigan rolls.

Michigan 45 – Appalachian State 7

Derick

Will this year’s matchup with Appalachian State be redemption? No, of course Michigan can never erase that 2007 upset. But there certainly won’t be a repear oF that debacle, at least not this year.

Michigan should dominate defensively, and an inconsistent offense will flourish against a weak, new-to-FBS opponent. Devin Gardner is going to be the talk of the town on Saturday, leading Michigan to the win.

Michigan 45 – Appalachian State 14

Josh

It’s finally that time again. I’ll be honest, I’m not looking at this game as ‘revenge’ and I’m not even upset about 2007′s game. Yes, it was (utterly) disappointing but App State was a two-time defending champ that would go on to with a third straight and was loaded with talent. But neither of the teams that took the field back then are taking the field this Saturday.

On to 2014, we know App. State is not the ’07 version and it’s not even close. Yes, Michigan has many questions on offense but the defense will be very good (possibly elite). App. State wasn’t very good at stopping the run last year so I expect to see much of the same from them. Even with unknowns on Michigan’s offensive line I think the run game will get going early and often,while mostly unproven Michigan still has loads of talent. This, in turn, ‘should’ open up the play-action game and Michigan’s superior athletic talent should run (literally & figuratively) rampant over the Mountaineers. On defense I expect to see a lot of blitzes, from everywhere on the field, which should leave to some turnovers and easy scores for the offense.

I know we’ve all been waiting with baited breath for Jabrill Peppers to take the field and, unlike with Norfleet where I always just expected his next game to be the one he finally breaks a return touchdown, I actually DO think Peppers will find the end zone. We’ve all seen his highlights, and if you haven’t welcome back from under the rock from which you’ve been hiding for the past 12 months. The kid is just an absolute freak of nature, and apparently he comes with an ‘edge’ according to Hoke.

All in all I expect this to be a typical blowout against a lesser opponent. Turnovers will be forced by the defense and the offense shouldn’t have too much trouble putting up points.

Michigan 52 – Appalachian State 9

Joe

It’s time to get this season kicked off with a BANG and exorcise some demons in the process. I’m 100 percent certain there is not a player or coach on the maize and blue sideline that cares about the last meeting between these two programs. I’m also 100 percent certain that the entire 109,000-plus fans in attendance do. That’s what makes this game so interesting. I think the offense will look to establish the running game early and wear down a smaller Mountaineer defense. Ball control…ball control….ball control. The offense will be able to move the ball relatively easy through the air as well with Funchess being a beast in the middle. A beast!

I can’t wait to see em turn the defense loose. Lots of blitz packages early will rattle an inexperienced App State bunch and create some early turnovers. Jake Ryan will have these guys buzzing and should force four or five turnovers throughout the game. They don’t give up more than 17 points in this one. Because of the turnovers, Michigan will have plenty of short fields to work with and take advantage putting up 45-plus.

Michigan 48 – Appalachian State 17
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Links: 

For more coverage of this week’s game, see: Michigan-Appalachian State game preview; a First Look at Appalachian State; our preseason Big Ten Power Rankings; this week’s BBQ/tailgate idea, Hot-’n-fast pulled pork with Carolina mustard slaw; end this week’s Five-Spot Challenge.

Also check out game previews from MGoBlogMaize n BrewMaize n Blue Nation, and Maize and Blue News. Also, a visitor list from MGoFish.

From the other side, some predictions from AppFan.com and a game preview from Big C’s Tailgate. Also, this is kind of….interesting.

Michigan-Appalachian State game preview

Friday, August 29th, 2014


Game Preview_AppSt_banner

The last — and only — time Appalachian State visited the Big House, the Mountaineers gained a lot of new fans from Columbus and East Lansing. Michigan fans would love to forget that day ever happened, but thanks to tomorrow’s rematch we all get to talk about it yet again. After tomorrow, unless lightning strikes twice, we can all move on to bigger and better things, but for now the focus is on App State.

UM-AppSt-small-final
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 12 p.m. EST – ESPN2
Appalachian St. Head Coach: Scott Satterfield (2nd season)
Coaching Record: 4-8 (all at App State)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Dwayne Ledford (2nd season)
Frank Ponce (2nd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Nate Woody (2nd season)
Returning Starters: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense)
Last Season: 4-8 (4-4 SoCon)
Last Meeting: ASU 34 – UM 32 (2007)
All-Time Series: App State leads 1-0
Record in Ann Arbor: App State leads 1-0
Michigan vs Sun Belt Conf: 0-0 (First meeting)
Michigan in season openers: 110-21-3

Raise your hand if you’re excited about this rematch. Anyone? The only positive of playing this game is bringing the all-time series out of the red — a rare position for a Michigan opponent. Appalachian State is one of just 14 current Division 1 opponents with a winning record against Michigan. Only two of those 14 — Cornell (12-6) and USC (6-4) — have more than a one-game lead over the Wolverines all-time. Beating App State tomorrow would eliminate one of the 14, and while that may not seem like a big deal, it means something because of our classic Michigan arrogance. Another one of those can be eliminated next season when Michigan hosts Brigham Young.

That 2007 game of which we don’t want to discuss marked the beginning of the fall for Michigan, and while no one could have seen it coming, it took a disgustingly perfect confluence of events. That App State team was an FCS powerhouse, beginning a third-straight FCS championship run with the type of explosive quarterback Lloyd Carr defenses could never stop.

The current version of Appalachian State is far less proven and talented as it makes the transfer to FBS and the Sun Belt Conference. Jerry Moore, the coach at the time, and a member of this year’s College Football Hall of Fame class, has since retired. The Mountaineers are coming off of a 4-8 season in which they ranked 76th in FCS in scoring offense (23.6 points per game) and 69th in scoring defense (28 points per game). Two of those wins came against Elon and Western Carolina, which had a combined record of 4-20, and 2-14 in the Southern Conference. Sixteen starters do return, but as App State makes the move to FBS this fall, the talent isn’t where it was seven years ago. Let’s take a look at the Mountaineers.

Michigan defense vs Appalachian State offense: When Appalachian State has the ball

Marcus Cox App St.

If healthy, Marcus Cox will be a good early test for Michigan’s run defense (Keith Cline, Appalachian State Athletics)

Eight starters are back, including the quarterback, a breakout running back, and the entire offensive line. But head coach Scott Satterfield needs to find replacements for his top two receivers, Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington, who combined for 142 catches for 1,645 yards, and six touchdowns.

The leading returning true receiver is Malachi Jones, who caught 31 passes for 293 yards. The only other returning receivers that caught a pass are a pair of all-name contenders, Simms McElfresh (20 for 269 and two touchdowns) and Bobo Beathard (three for 28). Tight end Barrett Burns is also back after catching 22 passes for 205 yards and a score last season. One player to watch is former four-star recruit Tacoi Sumler, who started his career at Oregon before transferring to ASU in 2012. He was ranked as the 11th-best receiver in the 2011 class and redshirted in his only season at Oregon. He played some in 2012, but missed last season with a knee injury.

Running back Marcus Cox is the leading returning receiver in terms of receptions (43), yards (559), and touchdowns (six). He also led the team with 1,250 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. To top it all off, the 5’10″, 180-pound Dacula, Ga. native was just a true freshman. He has been hampered by a knee injury, but should be ready to go. If he’s not up to full speed, look for junior Ricky Fergeson, who was the only other running back over 100 yards last season, with 215 on 55 carries, to carry the load.

Quarterback Kameron Bryant had a solid sophomore campaign, completing 71.2 percent of his passes for 2,713 yards and 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions in eight starts. He also scored three rushing touchdowns, though he’s nowhere near the runner Edwards was. The job is his full-time after the graduation of Jamal Londry-Jackson, who started the other four games a year ago.

The offensive line has 143 career starts between the eight returning linemen, including left tackle Kendall Lamm, a first-team All-SoCon selection in 2013.

Michigan offense vs Appalachian State defense: When Michigan has the ball

In addition to giving up 28 points per game, Appalachian State’s defense allowed 220.2 rushing yards per game, which ranked 105th nationally in FCS, and an average of 4.9 yard per rush. The pass defense was much better — 17th nationally — with an average of 180.2 yards allowed. But, because the rush defense was so porous, opposing offenses didn’t need to throw very much, attempting an average of 24 passes per game. In fact, only nine teams in FCS had fewer passes attempted against them, and three of those were in fewer games played.

Just like the offense, eight starters return. Leading tackler, linebacker Karl Anderson, who tallied 113 tackles — 40 more than the next best — is gone. But two other starting linebackers are back. John Law and Kennan Gilchrist combined for 130 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery as true freshmen.

Defensive end Deuce Robinson led App State with seven tackles for loss last season (Keith Cline, Appalachian State Athletics)

Defensive end Deuce Robinson led App State with seven tackles for loss last season (Keith Cline, Appalachian State Athletics)

Along the defensive line, virtually everyone is back return with the exception of end Adam Scott. Senior defensive end Deuce Robinson and junior end Thomas Bronson combined for 51 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks, and two forced fumbles, but Scott, who graduated, led the team with 8.5 tackles-for-loss. The Mountaineers recorded just eight sacks all season, so getting to the quarterback will be a big area for improvement. There are plenty of bodies back on the interior, most notably 6’2″, 325-pound nose tackle Tyson Fernandez.

Free safety Alex Gray, who led the secondary with 73 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss, and is the only member of the secondary to record a sack, is gone. Two other safeties, Doug Middleton and Kevin Walton are back, however. The pair combined for 102 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, and three interceptions. Cornerback Joel Ross, who started nine games in 2013, is also back, as is Dante Blackmon, who started six. In addition, ASU received a junior college transfer, Jordan Ford, from Monroe College (N.Y.) who should factor into the discussion.

The other third: Special teams

Field goal kicker Drew Stewart has moved on, but junior Zach Matics had a good spring and is in line to win the job. Sophomore punter Bentlee Critcher ranked second in FCS with a 45.9 average. He also downed 15-of-51 (29.4 percent) inside the 20, compared to just five touchbacks, and booted 18 over 50 yards. ASU must replace main kick returner Tony Washington, but Beathard averaged 22.1 yards on seven returns last season. Washington also handled punt return duties, so that role will need to be filled. Sumler should factor into the return game if he’s fully recovered from his knee injury.

Prediction

Maize and Go Blue wasn’t around back in 2007, but if it would have been, we would have predicted a big Michigan win, because at the time, who wouldn’t? This time around we’re still going to predict a big Michigan win. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will want to flex his muscles a bit and get the offense rolling. And while tomorrow’s performance won’t really prove anything for the rest of the season, it will be important to develop some confidence with the offensive line, get Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith going on the ground, and find some chemistry between Devin Gardner and his talented but largely unproven receiving corps. Opposing offenses ran at will on Appalachian State and Michigan will do the same.

Defensively, Michigan will focus on shutting down Cox and the Mountaineer running game, forcing Bryant to try to make big plays with his arm. He’s certainly capable of doing so, but without his top two receivers from last season, Michigan’s secondary could be in for a big day. It will also be the first look at Greg Mattison’s new aggressive defense. Look for the line to put plenty of pressure on Bryant and force several turnovers.

Just like last year’s season opener against Central Michigan, look for Shane Morris and the second team to play much of the fourth quarter as Michigan takes care of business and moves on to Notre Dame.

Michigan 52 – Appalachian State 10

Big Ten power rankings: Preseason

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014


Power Rankings_header

Three days from now we’ll be settling into our seats at the Big House or our favorite couch or chair getting ready to watch the Maize and Blue run out of the tunnel, leap up and touch the banner, and begin their quest toward a Big Ten championship. The bad news is that we all still have to make it through three more days. Welcome to our first Big Ten Power Rankings of the season, where we rank each team in the conference. Since no games have been played yet, this week’s power rankings are essentially predictions of where each team should be ranked. Beginning next week, and continuing throughout the season, the power rankings will be reflective of each team’s performance in the game(s) they have played.

As the dawn of college football season draws ever nearer, the Big Ten finds itself facing low expectations once again. Largely considered a three-team league, the Big Ten suffered a huge blow with the news that Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller would miss the entire 2014 campaign.

Now, teams on the brink of breaking through have to step up and help the Big Ten resurface as a power conference. Gone are the days when the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl would give the Big Ten a chance to shine on the national stage, because now the four-team playoff will act as the means by which conference strength is measured. Teams like Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan have to take that next step and give the conference the boost it needs to send a representative into that playoff.

If the Big Ten gets left out of the playoff this season, it will set the tone for a format that figures to rule the sport for the foreseeable future. At least six teams have a realistic shot at winning the Big Ten, and the conference needs each of them to perform in 2014.

East Division
1. Michigan State
Last Week: N/A This Week: Friday vs Jacksonville State, 7:30pm, BTN

The defending Big Ten champions became heavy favorites to repeat in 2014 after Ohio State’s Braxton Miller went down for the season. Michigan State lost plenty of talent to the NFL, but that defense still figures to be the best in the league.

2. Ohio State
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Navy, 12pm, CBS Sports Network

Miller’s season-ending injury put a damper on Ohio State’s championship aspirations, but Urban Meyer’s team is still strong enough to compete for the first Big Ten East Division championship. The Nov. 8 game in East Lansing is the biggest speed bump on the Buckeyes’ road to Indianapolis.

3. Michigan
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs. Appalachian State, 12pm, ESPN2

If Michigan finishes outside the top three in the division, then things need to change in Ann Arbor. Four straight years of strong recruiting has left Brady Hoke with a talented enough roster to win nine or more games. An underrated defense should give Michigan a chance in all 12 games.

4. Penn State
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs UCF, 8:30am, ESPN2

The Nittany Lions still can’t play in a bowl game this season, but new head coach James Franklin managed to hang on to talented quarterback Christian Hackenberg and a team that won seven games last year. Penn State could make a big splash in the standings on Oct. 25 when Ohio State visits Happy Valley, one of the hardest places for visiting teams to win at night.

5. Indiana
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Indiana State, 12pm, ESPNews

Much like they were last year, the Hoosiers are expected to be a group led by an elite offense. Unfortunately, the Big Ten is a difficult conference to win without a strong defense, and the Hoosiers gave up 38.8 points per game last season, good for 117th in college football.

6. Maryland
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs James Madison, 3:30pm, BTN

Maryland joins the Big Ten after a mediocre 7-6 record in the ACC last year. The Terrapins’ 85th-ranked offense will have a tough time scoring enough points in the Big Ten against defenses like that of Michigan State and Michigan, so don’t expect Maryland to compete for a division title in year one.

7. Rutgers
Last Week: N/A This Week: Thursday at Washington State, 10pm, FoxSports1

A 2-6 finish to the 2013 season will set the tone for Rutgers’ first season in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights lost six games by double digits last year during an average year in the ACC, so the powerful Big Ten East could be a rude awakening in 2014.

West Division
1. Wisconsin
Last Week: This Week: Saturday vs LSU, 9pm, ESPN

With Ohio State moving over to the East Division, Wisconsin sits firmly in the driver’s seat to represent the West in Indy this year. Melvin Gordon became the top Heisman candidate in the Big Ten after Miller’s injury and should lead a prototypical Wisconsin running attack that will tear apart opposing defenses.

2. Iowa
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Northern Iowa, 12pm, BTN

Iowa played good enough defense in 2013 to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl, but an inconsistent offense held the team to an 8-5 overall record. If the Hawkeyes post another top-10 defensive effort this season, they could find themselves matching up with Michigan State in Indianapolis in a low-scoring game.

3. Northwestern
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Cal, 3:30pm, ABC

Every season Northwestern looks primed for a breakout, but this year their talent is nowhere near the level of teams like Wisconsin or Iowa. The Wildcats lost four games by one possession last season, so they were close to living up to the preseason hype. But the loss of Venric Mark and a tough conference schedule will make things tough on Northwestern this year.

4. Nebraska
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Florida Atlantic, 3:30pm, BTN

The nation is expecting big things out of Nebraska after finishing a disappointing finish to the conference season last year. If this offense can rush for over 200 yards per game again this season, it has a chance to put the Cornhuskers in the hunt for the title.

5. Minnesota
Last Week: N/A This Week: Thursday vs Eastern Illinois, 7pm, BTN

Minnesota was one of the quietest surprises in the country last season, starting 8-2 before three hard-fought losses to end the year. This season will be a real test for the Gophers as they try to build off of what they started in 2013 and break a decade-long streak of irrelevance.

6. Illinois
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday at Youngstown State, 12:05pm, BTN

It could be another tough year for Illinois after finishing 4-8 with just one conference win last season. After a nonconference schedule that features three easy wins, the Fighting Illini will only be favored in one conference game: at home against the Purdue team they beat in 2013.

7. Purdue
Last Week: N/A This Week: Saturday vs Western Michigan, 12pm, ESPNU

2013 was an abomination for Purdue, as it went 1-11 with a six-point victory over a division 1-AA opponent. Illinois was the only team that Purdue was within 10 points of beating. It won’t get any easier for the Boilermakers in conference this year.

Tailgate Tuesday: Hot-’n-fast pulled pork w/Carolina mustard slaw

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014


TailgateTuesday_banner-v4

The following recipe is our first weekly collaboration with Joe from MmmGoBluBBQ. These will be posted each Tuesday throughout the season and each recipe will be themed around that week’s opponent. 

I can’t believe the college football season is finally upon us. It’s been way too long since I’ve had the guys over for a “GO BLUE Game day BBQ”. This is my favorite time of the year as my excitement level couldn’t be any higher. It’s time to see how this new offense will function under new leadership and if the latest group of highly ranked recruits can make a difference. It’s also time to fire up the grill or smoker and make our tailgate neighbors or next door neighbors extremely jealous. Because we have Appalachian State in town, let’s do a little “Hot-N-Fast Pulled Pork” with some Carolina Mustard Slaw. Here is what you will need.

Ingredients (Pork Butt):

 Bone In Pork Butt (7-9 lbs., often referred to as Boston Butt)
• Regular Mustard
• Rub (Equal parts Kosher Salt, Granulated White Sugar, Dark Chili Pwd, Montreal Steak Seasoning). Add some cayenne for some heat (optional)
• Your favorite hamburger buns and BBQ sauce

Ingredients (Carolina Mustard Slaw):

 Shredded cabbage (Pre-mixed slaw in bag works great or about 1.5 lbs or 1 small head of cabbage)
• 1/4 cup mayo
• 1/4 cup Mustard (Sweet and Spicy Mustard if you can find it)
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
• Blue Cheese Crumbles (Optional)
• Sliced Serrano Peppers (Optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Mix wet ingredients first and add to cabbage. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Pulled Pork Directions:

Preheat your smoker or grill to approximately 325 degrees. If you are using a gas or charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat. See pic below on how to set up the charcoal and wood to achieve your indirect set up. Open your vents about half way to get the higher temp. Add about 5-6 good sized chunks of fruit wood (Pecan or Cherry). Use more than I did in this pic.

Pulled pork 2-3

While the grill/smoker is heating up, apply a thin layer of mustard on the pork butt. The mustard will help the rub adhere to the meat. Once this is done, apply a layer of your rub. Go ahead and load up. This is a big hunk of meat and can take a lot of seasoning. I typically use about 1 cup of rub on a butt his size.

Once our smoker has come up to temp, place your meat on the opposite side of the hot coals. We will cook this for about three hours or until we get an internal temp of about 150 degrees. As you can see below, the color is coming along and that tasty bark is starting to form. Meats typically stop taking smoke once the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, so our flavor is also on track.

Once we hit the three-hour mark, its time to place the butt in a foil pan along with some moisture. I like apple juice, sprite or Vernors Ginger Ale. Pour approx 12-ounces into the foil pan and cover tightly. If you have a temperature probe, stick it in the middle of the pork butt (but do not touch the bone). If you do not have one, don’t worry about it. I recommend some sort of temperature probe. Either an instant read probe (like a Thermapen) or a meat thermometer you can find at your local grocery store.

Pulled pork 4-5-6

We will let this pork go for another two hours covered or until it hits an internal temp of 195-205 degrees. The great thing about a pork butt is that it’s hard to overcook. I’ve gone to 215 degrees on one and it was still super tasty and fall apart tender.

Once it hits 195 degrees, remove from the heat source and peel back once corner of the foil to help cool. Let it rest in the foil bath for about 45 minutes. Now you are ready to pull. Pour out about 50 percent of the juice and discard. Leave the remaining juice in the foil pan. Remove the bone. It should pull out without any real effort. You can pull the pork with a standard pair of forks or your hands if you have some rubber gloves (it’s still hot). Once the pork is pulled, mix in the foil pan with the juices. I also like to add a few sprinkles of any leftover rub at this point. Now it’s time to load up your favorite bun. Top with some Carolina Mustard slaw and some of your favorite BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Pulled pork 7-8

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This week’s drink: Wolverine Bite

One of my favorite beverages is called a “SnakeBite” and it includes a really tasty combo of Guinness Stout and Hard cider. This version of a SnakeBite will be known as a “Wolverine Bite” and has two parts Stout to one part Vernors Ginger Ale. Trust me, this has great flavor and is very refreshing. Give it a shot at your next tailgate and let me know what you think.

Ingredients:

• Vernors Ginger Ale
• Guinness Stout

Directions:

Pour in one part Vernors Ginger Ale and top with two parts Guinness Stout (limes optional).

Wolverine Bite

If you have any questions on this or any other grilling/smoker recipes, feel free to reach out to me at joe@mmmgoblubbq.com. I always love chatting BBQ and Michigan football!  GO BLUE!!!!

For more great recipes, photos, and barbecue ideas, follow Joe on Twitter at @mmmgoblubbq. And don’t forget to check out his site, MmmGoBluBBQ, for recipes, product reviews, and more.

First Look: Appalachian State

Monday, August 25th, 2014


FirstLook-AppState

It’s finally here. The week we’ve all been both looking forward to and dreading for the past seven months. On one hand, it’s finally game week, which means there are just a few more days until Michigan football gets underway for the 135th time in school history. On the other hand, we have to endure a few days of highlights from that dreadful 2007 game that none of us wants to ever talk about again.

Since we have to talk about Appalachian State, we’ll just focus on this year’s version, which will be playing its first ever game as a member of the Sun Belt Conference and the Football Bowl Subdivision on Saturday. Do the Mountaineers have a shot to pull off the unthinkable once again? Or will Michigan take care of business, put the past behind them, and move on quickly to the final showdown with Notre Dame? Let’s take a look at how App State fared in 2013 and who they have returning this fall.

Appalachian State 2013 Statistics & Michigan Comparison
ASUMichigan Rank Opponent Rank
Points Per Game 23.6 | 32.2 N/A | 46 28.0| 26.8 N/A66
Rushing Yards 1,6561,634 2,643 | 1,822
Rush Avg. Per Game 138.0 | 125.7 N/A | T102 220.2 | 140.2 N/A | 29
Avg. Per Rush 3.9 | 3.3 4.9 | 3.8
Passing Yards 3,2613,221 2,163 | 3,007
Pass Avg. Per Game 271.8247.8 N/A | 51 180.2 | 231.3 N/A | 51
Total Offense 4,9174,855 4,806 | 4,829
Total Off Avg. Per Game 409.8 | 373.5 N/A | 86 400.5 | 371.5 N/A | 41
Kick Return Average 21.4 | 22.1 N/A | 49 23.5 | 23.3 N/A | 101
Punt Return Average 3.7 | 6.7 N/A | 89 6.4 | 6.4 N/A | 40
Avg. Time of Possession 29:22 | 31:17 N/A | 34
30:38 | 28:38
3rd Down Conversion Pct 43.0% | 39.0% N/A | 73
46.0% | 40.0% N/A | 65
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 20-150 | 36-270 N/A | 105
8-38 | 25-182 N/A | 66
Touchdowns Scored 35 | 52 44 | 40
Field Goals-Attempts 13-18 | 18-25 10-13 | 24-31
Red Zone Scores (32-40) 80% | 48-56 86% N/A | 43
(39-49) 80% | (39-45) 87% N/A | 94
Red Zone Touchdowns (24-40) 60% | 37-56 66% (31-49) 63% | (24-45) 53%

Comparing Michigan’s 2013 stats to Appalachian State’s is apples to oranges because the Mountaineers were in FCS last season, and thus, the competition was much different. But then again, App State was playing competition relative to itself, so let’s compare the stats just for the fun of it.

Statistically, Michigan and Appalachian State were pretty similar on offense, although Michigan played one more game. App State finished the season with 22 more rushing yards than Michigan and 40 more passing yards, though the per-game averages are better with 12 games as opposed to 13. The main difference, however, was that Michigan scored 8.6 more points per game. It’s no secret that Michigan had no run game, but App State’s wasn’t much better, averaging 3.9 yards per rush. The Mountaineers converted third downs four percent better than Michigan did and allowed 20 sacks compared to Michigan’s 36. Basically, App State had a slightly better offense, but Michigan’s was more efficient.

Defensively, the two were opposites. Michigan’s rush defense ranked 29th nationally, allowing 140.2 yards per game, but the pass defense gave up 231.3. Conversely, Appalachian State’s rush defense allowed 220.2 rushing yards per game, but just 180.2 passing. Overall, Michigan allowed 23 more total yards in one more game and the Wolverines allowed 1.2 fewer points per game. App State only got to the quarterback eight times all season — less than once per game — while Michigan recorded 25 sacks. Additionally, the Mountaineers allowed opponents to convert third downs 46 percent of the time and score touchdowns 63 percent of the time in the red zone.

Obviously, looking at last season’s stats only tells a small part of the story and doesn’t weigh heavily into this season’s forecast, so let’s take a look at how much of that production is returning compared to how much was lost.

Passing Yards (QB only)
Returning Lost
Kameron Bryant 2,713 Jamal Londry-Jackson 548
2,713 548
83.2% 16.8%
Rushing (RB/QB only)
Returning Lost
Marcus Cox 1,250 Jamal Londry-Jackson (QB) 23
Ricky Ferguson 215 Rommel Andre 13
Kameron Bryant (QB) 158 Paul Magloire 9
Logan Hallock (QB) -3
1,620 45
97.3% 2.7%
Receiving
Returning Lost
Marcus Cox (RB) 559 Andrew Peacock 706
Malachi Jones 293 Tony Washington 939
Barrett Burns (TE) 205 Sean Price 237
Simms McElfresh 269 Jacob McCann (TE) 7
Ricky Ferguson (RB) 30
Bobo Beathard 28
Kameron Bryant (QB) -12
1,372 1,889
42.1% 57.9%
Scoring
Returning Lost
Marcus Cox (RB) 126 Drew Stewart (K) 71
Kameron Bryant (QB) 18 Tony Washington (WR) 24
Simms McElfresh (WR) 14 Andrew Peacock (WR) 12
Barrett Burns (TE) 6 Sean Price (WR) 6
Karl Anderson (LB) 6
164 119
58.0% 42.0%

The majority of the production from Appalachian State’s backfield is returning, most notably quarterback Kameron Bryant, who completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 2,713 yards, 14 touchdowns, and four interceptions, and running back Marcus Cox, who rushed for 1,250 yards and 15 touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry. Those are good pieces to build around and the entire offensive line is back as well, bringing 130 career starts to the table. But like Michigan, more than half of last season’s receiving production is gone, including the top to receivers, Andrew Peacock and Tony Washington. In fact, the top returning pass-catcher is Cox, a running back.

Given that information, it appears that Michigan’s game plan will be to load the box to shut down the run game and force Bryant to try to test their secondary with a group of unproven and inexperienced receivers. That’s a pretty good opportunity for Jabrill Peppers to make his mark on his first career game.

Defensively, Appalachian State returns a good amount of experience, but does have to replace their leading tackler, linebacker Karl Anderson, whose 113 tackles were 40 more than the next-best. The two returning linebackers, John Law and Kennan Gilchrist, were true freshmen last season and combined for 130 tackles, 6.5 for loss, one sack, three interceptions, and a fumble recovery. The line also returns most of its production except for end Adam Scott, who led the team with 8.5 tackles for loss. The secondary lost its top tackler, free safety Alex Gray, but returns three other starters.

Like the offense, App State’s defense was very young last season and will benefit from a year of experience. But the rush defense was so bad last year that considerable improvement will need to be made, and that’s a lot to ask in the season opener. In fact, only nine teams in all of FCS had fewer passes attempted against them, which is why ASU’s pass defense looked so good on paper.

As we saw with Central Michigan in last year’s opener, the success Michigan has against an inferior opponent has little to do with the rest of the season. But App State’s poor rush defense will allow Michigan’s offensive line to tune up and try to make a statement with the running game. Like the game in general, if it works, there will be nothing more than a pat on the back and move on to Notre Dame. If Michigan’s running game struggles, however, there will be plenty of cause for concern about the rest of the season.

Stay tuned for further game coverage as the week goes on, including our full game preview on Friday.