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Posts Tagged ‘Notre Dame’

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


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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:

M&GB season preview roundtable

Friday, August 22nd, 2014


Roundtable-banner

It has become our tradition at the beginning of each season to preview the upcoming season via a staff roundtable. We answer several questions with our predictions and expectations for what the season will bring. Drew has moved on, but we still have Justin, Sam, Derick, and Josh. We also invited our partner at MmmGoBluBBQ, Joe, to join us for the roundtable. We also invite you to give your answers in the comments below. Tell us what you agree with or disagree with. Next week we will begin our game week coverage.

What are you most excited about this season?

Justin: I’m most excited about what should be a very good defense. With so much talent and experience returning, it should be one of the top defenses in the Big Ten and may have to carry the team, at least in the early going. The best Michigan teams in recent history have featured stifling defenses — most notably 1997 and 2006 — and I think I can speak for most Michigan fans when I say I miss the days of Michigan having a dominating defense. It’s a major stretch to say this year’s unit could be as good as the 1997 one, but anywhere close would make for a very good season.

Michigan's defense won't be as good as the 1997 version, but it is one to be excited about

Michigan’s defense won’t be as good as the 1997 version, but it is one to be excited about

With most of the big questions on the offensive side of the ball, the defense is going to need to be very good, and if it is we have two recent examples that could foreshadow the upcoming season: Notre Dame in 2012 and Michigan State in 2013. Notre Dame’s offense ranked 80th nationally in scoring, 38th in rushing, and 72nd in passing that year but still made it to the national title game thanks to its defense. Last season, Michigan State’s offense ranked 63rd in scoring, 59th in rushing, and 84th in passing but still won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl thanks to its defense. I’m excited for the possibility that Michigan’s defense, which should be more aggressive this fall, could carry the Wolverines to a special season.

Sam: I’m most excited about…football! After last year’s dreadful, seemingly never-ending season, I never thought I’d be so excited to see the Maize and Blue on the field just a season later, but I suppose hope reigns eternal right now. As far specific excitement about this team goes, I am really looking forward to seeing the whole defense working to live up to its enormous expectations. Every single position has an extremely strong two-deep, and every unit has at least one potential game-changer. With names like Frank Clark, Jake Ryan, James Ross III, and Jabrill Peppers, there’s no telling how good this defense could be. A consistent pass rush could mean a top-10 or even top-five defense nationally.

Derick: The most exciting storyline has to be the beginning of Jabrill Peppers‘ career in Ann Arbor. The No. 2 overall recruit has a chance to be a difference maker on defense and revive a kick return game that has been dormant since Steve Breaston left Michigan.

Josh: The defense and its personnel and scheme changes. I’d much rather see an aggressive, menacing defense with an average offense than an average defense with a high octane/high scoring offense. Luckily for Michigan it appears as though we just might get that menacing defense in 2014. That is something to be very excited about after we had to watch last year’s ‘bend but don’t break’ defense sit back and give up big gain after big gain.

Joe: I have a feeling that Coach Nussmeier will focus on building a strong run game with Green and Smith and help control the ball a little more than in recent years. Michigan has the horses to build an above avg. run game with these 2 and it will be fun to see if we can get back to a little smash mouth football at the big house. I’m also looking forward to some great BBQ on “Tailgate Tuesdays”.

What worries you most entering the season?

Justin: Okay, so this question is pretty rhetorical this year. The offensive line has to be the answer after last year’s meltdown and the loss of Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield. If it’s as bad as last season, even a high-caliber defense won’t save the team. But I really don’t think it will be. Do I expect it to be a mauling, classic Michigan offensive line? Absolutely not. But I do think it will be more cohesive than last season and more sound with a simplified playbook. Even so, until we see it in action, the worry is there.

The huge question obviously lies with Erik Magnuson and the rest of the line (Matthew O'Haren, USA Today Sports)

The huge question obviously lies with Erik Magnuson and the rest of the line (Matthew O’Haren, USA Today Sports)

Sam: If anyone’s biggest concern at this point is not the offensive line, he or she may want a quick crash course in foot-ball (American style). I can say with a straight face that Michigan has some sort of chance of having a First Team All-Conference player at every single position on the field (yes, this is still optimistic, but it’s at least feasible in some universe) besides the offensive line, where Michigan may not have a single Third Team-caliber performer, feasibly. The line is replacing two senior tackles who will most likely start one day in the NFL; even with those stars, Michigan’s big uglies up front last year were atrocious. Most people have been taking the glass-half-full approach in saying that there’s no way it can get any worse; it’s hard for me to look at the names on paper and wonder how in the world it could get any better.

Derick: After watching the spring game and the ‘Under the Lights’ scrimmage, how can the offensive line not be the No. 1 concern? Michigan’s defensive line was average for much of 2013, but looked like an elite unit against their offensive teammates. If Doug Nussmeier can’t improve this group, it won’t matter how much Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith have progressed.

Josh: The entire offense. They say that on defense 10 guys can fail as long as one guy makes the play. But on offense 10 guys can be doing their job and if one fails, then the play is lost. While the o-line clearly needs to be a cohesive unit that plays well, it’s not all on them and there are too many variables to work out before they can be a solid unit. Devin Gardner needs to be consistent and the running backs (whomever they may be) need to run with vision and be decisive. I see Michigan in a similar situation as Michigan State was coming into 2013; a potentially great defense that would be enough to carry them but no identity on offense. Last year the defense played well but faded late in the season as it was completely worn down after carrying the offense all year and it really showed in losses to Ohio State and Kansas State I fear we’ll see more of the same this year.

Joe: The offensive line is a HUGE concern due to the loss of both Schofield and Lewan. It wasn’t exactly a strong point last year and now it looks even more troubling. This group needs to gel quickly and improve on the “tackles for loss” that plagued them last year. 114 is way too many!

Who will be the breakout player on offense?

Justin: I would absolutely love to look into the crystal ball and pick a lineman that breaks out and puts together an all-conference season, and while it’s certainly possible, it’s impossible to predict. I also think Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith will split the workload, keeping either from truly breaking out. Therefore, it has to be a pass-catcher, and I’m going to go with Jake Butt. He’s out for the first couple of games at least, but is progressing very well in his return form a torn ACL. We got a taste of what he’s capable of last season — 20 catches for 235 yards and two touchdowns — and once he returns, he could put up some solid numbers.

We all know Devin Funchess will be the go-to receiver for Devin Gardner, but he’s going to have to find others to distribute the ball to so opposing defenses can’t simply game plan Funchess out. It’s very likely that either Jehu Chesson or Amara Darboh breaks onto the scene, but as a tight end, I see Butt becoming a crutch for Gardner. Butt fits right into Nussmeier’s offensive system and could be primed for a big season as long as he fully recovers from his injury.

Sam: This one is pretty easy for me. I don’t think the offensive line is going to be good enough for Michigan to have a star running back, so I immediately look to the outside. There I find Amara Darboh, a gentlemanly sized 6’2″, 211-pound redshirt sophomore wide receiver who was held out all of last season with a foot injury. Devin Funchess is the closest thing the Wolverines have to a sure thing this year, so Darboh should have plenty of opportunities to take advantage of cheating defenses, and his nice hands, solid size, and football IQ should make him a favorite of Devin Gardner.

Derick: Freddy Canteen will probably have one of the greatest impacts on the offense, but I think Devin Gardner will be the breakout player. Gardner struggled for much of the 2013 season, but pressure from the defense and a non-existent rushing attack made his job much harder. A healthy Gardner should take advantage of a deeper receiving core and become the quarterback fans saw for a few games at the end of 2012.

Josh: I’m really down on the offense heading into this season. True, I’m not in Schembechler Hall, but nothing I’ve seen or read since last season has given me any indication that this offense will be any better than last year’s. A simplified system and zone blocking schemes will help but they haven’t had much time with Nussmeier and development takes time and many reps. Plus the mere fact that a TRUE freshman is in line to start at left tackle tells me that this line is still in shambles and that could derail the entire offense, again. That said, I think Jake Butt (once he returns) is prime for a breakout season. I foresee Gardner looking for a safety valve as he runs for his life behind an inept line and Butt should be that safety valve. We saw glimpses of what Butt could do late in 2013 and I expect him to pick up where he left off.

Joe: I am hoping that an in shape and focused Derrick Green turns into the five-star tailback we recruited two years ago. If he can pound the ball and help control the clock, this offense can put up some big numbers. An effective Green would free up some young receivers and an elite Funchess down field.

Who will be the breakout player on defense?

Justin: Yeah, it’s a pretty generic answer that I’m sure others will give, but I’m going with Jourdan Lewis. The hype coming out of the spring and fall camp is too much to ignore. The coaching staff has talked about being more aggressive defensively, and Lewis fits that mold at corner. If he truly has beaten out either experienced corners like Raymon Taylor or Blake Countess, he’s earned it and it will only make the secondary better.

Can Jourdan Lewis live up to the hype he has garnered throughout the offseason?

Can Jourdan Lewis live up to the hype he has garnered throughout the offseason?

Sam: Defensive breakout players are a little bit harder for me to predict, and I admittedly don’t even know who would rightfully qualify as a “breakout” player this year. Would a senior Frank Clark, who has been solid but never great, qualify? How about a junior linebacker who has been playing plenty of snaps for two full seasons? I’ll assume I’d get picked on for taking either of those guys, so let me go with Jourdan Lewis, a 5’10″, 175-pound sophomore cornerback from Cass Tech. If preseason reports and practices are to be believed, it seems that Lewis has managed to wrestle away a starting spot from either senior Raymon Taylor or redshirt junior Blake Countess, both of whom were pretty solid contributors a season ago. The coaches have been emphasizing increased physicality and aggressiveness on defense, particularly from the cornerbacks, which fits right into Lewis’s strengths. If he indeed plays the first snap on defense against Appalachian State next week, Jourdan Lewis must have something going for him.

Derick: It has to be Jabrill Peppers. If he can’t contribute in the secondary then Michigan will be vulnerable to the pass all season, since Blake Countess is the only proven cornerback that can cover Big Ten recievers.

Josh: Jourdan Lewis, and it’s not even close. Yes, I do think Jabrill Peppers will show us why he was one of the best incoming recruits in recent memory but my money is on Lewis to really make massive strides from last season. He got his feet wet last year while relying on great athletic ability but now he has the technique and mental aspect to add to it. I fully expect him to be an All-Big Ten performer, and one of the best defenders in the conference, by season’s end.

Joe: Can I say Jake Ryan as my breakout player? I know he is a team captain and a stud at linebacker, but after missing five games last year due to a torn ACL, he will shine all season if healthy. He is a must for this team to keep pace defensively.

Michigan will win the Big Ten if…

Justin: The offensive line improves to simply average and the defense is as good as advertised. The defense will have to carry the team early on while the offense finds its feet, but I truly believe this is a team that has a lot of potential. It will all rely on improvement from the offensive line, but like I said above, if the defense lives up to the hype, a 2012 Notre Dame or 2013 Michigan State season is not out of question.

Sam: Michigan will win the Big Ten if the defense doesn’t allow a single point. In all seriousness, the defense has to be elite (probably allowing 15 or fewer points a game in Big Ten play) and the offensive line has to be above-average for Michigan to compete for their first conference championship since 2004. I think the defense can be elite, but I still think the offensive line is going to struggle a little bit too much for the team to reach Pasadena or beyond.

Derick: Michigan will win the Big Ten if the quarterback pressure we saw throughout camp was actually because of the elite defensive line Greg Mattison has assembled. If the offensive line can actually protect Gardner and create holes for the running game then the rest will fall in place.

Josh: Michigan State and Ohio State completely implode and each have multiple conference losses, a miracle happens with the offensive line’s development early on, Devin Gardner finally becomes the consistently good QB we know he can be all while Jabrill Peppers exceeds the hype, plays both sides of the ball and becomes the first true freshman to win the Heisman (read: I don’t think it’s even remotely possible for Michigan to win the B1G Ten this year). I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, Michigan won’t be ready to legitimately compete for the B1G Ten until 2015.

Joe: We can get strong and smart play up front, as well as from our quarterback position. We must eliminate the untimely sack or tackle for loss that killed us on important drives last season. C’mon O-line, make it happen!

What’s your prediction for the season? Record, who will Michigan lose to, what bowl game will Michigan play in?

Justin: Regardless of how much improvement the offensive line shows, I don’t see Michigan winning less than eight games this season. But I think they’ll win more than that and finish the regular season 10-2 with losses to Notre Dame and Michigan State. I don’t think Notre Dame will be that great this year, but early on Michigan will still be trying to get its offense up to speed, and despite a valiant effort from the defense, bad things just happen in South Bend. The latter because Michigan State is still the team to beat in the Big Ten this season and, while Michigan will play closer than they have the past two years, it will be extremely tough to pull one out in East Lansing.

I do think Michigan will go into Columbus at season’s end and pull off a big win, leaving a three-way tie atop the East Division, but Michigan State will get the nod into the Big Ten Championship game. Michigan will go to the Capital One Bowl. I never predict the outcome of bowl games before the season because so many variables come into play about who the opponent will be.

Our predictions range from 8-4 to 10-2 with the Capital One Bowl being the most likely destination

Our predictions range from 8-4 to 10-2 with the Capital One Bowl being the most likely destination

I’m optimistic about this season and think this team will be very close to having a really special season that will surprise some people, but in the end it will come up just short, setting up big expectations for 2015.

Sam: My final prediction for the 2014 Michigan football season is as follows:

Record: 10-2, losses at Michigan State and at Ohio State
Bowl game: Wherever generic 10-2 Big Ten teams end up this season (too many to keep track of).

I think it will be a successful season overall that falls just short of the ultimate goals of conference and national championships. Michigan State’s defense should be able to wreak havoc on the offensive line yet again, and though Ohio State will be without Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller all season, their backup will have enough time to gel by the end of the season that the Buckeyes will edge the Wolverines once again at home.

Derick: I think Michigan’s season should be pretty straightforward. The Maize and Blue are great in Ann Arbor, so an easy home schedule should translate into seven wins. But tough road games at Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State make me shudder, and Brady Hoke’s resume on the road should turn all three games into losses. Michigan should take care of Northwestern and Rutgers on the road, giving it a 9-3 record for the season. Two Big Ten losses isn’t going to cut it for a trip to Indy, so Michigan will end up in the Capital One Bowl. Could Michigan win every single game on its schedule? Absolutely. But until fans see this team play solid football, there’s little reason to believe that more than nine wins are on tap.

Josh: My heart wants to be optimistic but my gut says this team’s lack of sufficient development spells doom in 2014. The offense has too many question marks for me to feel comfortable about having anything but very low expectations for them, which in turn puts more pressure on the defense to carry the team, again. The schedule does not set up in Michigan’s favor, with both MSU and OSU on the road (both of which are all but guaranteed losses in my mind). And as we’ve seen in the past Hoke’s teams consistently lose games they shouldn’t, mostly on the road (at Iowa in ’11, at ND and Nebraska in ’12 and atPSU, Nebraska and Iowa last year). They’ve gotten incredibly lucky against Northwestern the past two seasons and something tells me that luck may run out in 2014. Notre Dame, while losing several key players, is still on the road and that tilts the odds slightly in favor of the Irish. Utah could be a very dangerous trap game, sandwiched Miami (Ohio) and perennial bottom feeder Minnesota. Throw in the perennial inexplicable loss we’ve come to expect from Hoke’s Michigan teams and we’re sitting at 4 or 5 losses.

Right now I don’t see this team being better than 8-4, and not in the hunt for the East division. I see losses to MSU, OSU and then two more out of Notre Dame, Utah, Penn St. and Northwestern. They’ll still end up in a decent bowl because they’re Michigan, so something along the lines of the BWW Bowl like last year. Of course, I hope I’m completely wrong and the offense can come together and prove me horribly wrong but I won’t hold my breath.

Joe: I am predicting a 9-3 record for the Maize and Blue with losses at MSU, Northwestern and Ohio. Don’t ask me to explain the Northwestern loss, I just have a bad feeling. This will put them in the Outback bowl on Jan 1. 

Introducing our new ticket partner, We Know Tickets

Monday, August 18th, 2014


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With less than two weeks remaining until the 135th edition of Michigan football gets underway, we would like to introduce our new ticket partner. We Know Tickets is a ticket reseller that offers tickets to sporting events, concerts, and theater events. I like them as a partner because in addition to fantastic customer service they donate a portion of their proceeds to a good cause, Restoration Gateway, which helps “restore peace and heal wounds among the vulnerable children and war-torn people of Northern Uganda.”

We Know Tickets is a great place to buy tickets to Michigan games this season, with a large inventory for each game and low prices. At the time of this posting, here are the lowest prices available for each game:

Current Ticket Availability (as of Aug. 18)
Game Lowest Price $ Below Face Value Qty Available at Lowest Price
Season Tickets $692 2
Appalachian State $39 $31 4
Notre Dame (away) $457 Sold Out 1
Miami Ohio $24 $46 4
Utah $42 $28 4
Minnesota $39 $41 2
Rutgers (away) $131 $24 4
Penn State $109 $97 (singles only) 6
Michigan State (away) $154 Sold Out 7
Indiana $37 $43 2
Northwestern (away) $64 $26 4
Maryland $21 $49 2
Ohio State (away) $220 ($22 over) 1

In addition to the face value prices listed above, Michigan charges a $6 service fee per ticket and a $10 order charge. Our partners at We Know Tickets are offering a special discount code to our readers that will remove the fees they charge. When you check out, simply type ‘goblue‘ into the Discount Code box and you’ll receive 10% off your order.

We Know Tickets is also sponsoring our Five-Spot Challenge this season. The first week’s questions will be posted next Monday, so stay tuned for that. Click on their logo above, or on any of the game links in the table above to visit We Know Tickets, browse their collection, and purchase tickets to any game you want to attend.

2014 opponent preview: Miami (Ohio)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014


2014 Opponent Preview - Miami OH

Last week, we previewed Michigan’s first opponent of the season, who we also feel is the easiest opponent on the schedule, Appalachian State. Today, it’s time to take a look at the second-easiest, although the difference in “toughness” between Appalachian State and today’s featured opponent, Miami (Ohio), is very minimal. Miami got the nod over ASU because the Redhawks are already an FBS team.

Overview

Schedule
Date Opponent
Aug. 30 Marshall
Sept. 6 Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 13 at Michigan
Sept. 20 at Cincinnati
Sept. 27 at Buffalo
Oct. 4 Massachusetts
Oct. 11 at Akron
Oct. 18 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 25 Kent State
Nov. 1 Western Michigan
Nov. 15 at Central Michigan
Nov. 25 Ohio

After a surprising 10-4 record in 2010, Miami hired former Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell and he went 8-21 the next two-and-a-half seasons. He was fired on Oct. 6 last season after starting 0-5. Interim head coach Mike Bath didn’t fare any better as the Redhawks failed to win a game all season. Following the season, Miami turned to another offensive coordinator from one of Michigan’s rivals, this time hiring Notre Dame’s Chuck Martin.

Martin coached Notre Dame’s defensive backs in 2010 and 2011 before moving to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons, but it was his head coaching success before that which gives hope to those in Oxford, Ohio. From 2004 to 2009, Martin guided Grand Valley State to a 74-7 record and two Division II national championships. From 2005-07, GVSU won 40 straight games before falling in the playoff semifinal.

The flip side of the argument is that Martin inherited a powerhouse at GVSU from Brian Kelly, who had gone 118-35-2 there since 1991, including 41-2 the three years prior to handing the reigns to Martin. Miami is in a much different position, having achieved just one winning season in the past eight years. If there’s anything Martin can point to for hope, it’s the fact that that one winning season — the 10-4, 2010 campaign — came a year after the Redhawks went just 1-11.

But this is a massive undertaking. Miami scored 10 points or fewer in seven of 12 games last season and didn’t score more than 17. They also gave up more than 40 points in seven of 12 games. They tied for last nationally in scoring offense (9.8 points per game) and ranked 107th in scoring defense (35.7 ppg). With 15 starters returning, Martin will at least have some experience on his hands, but any improvement in 2014 will be minimal at best.

Offense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
QB Andrew Hendrix 6’2″, 226 2-14 for 56 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT (at ND)
RB Spencer Treadwell 5’10″, 205 171 yds (3.1 avg), 1 TD
WR Dawan Scott 6’1″, 191 28 rec. for 425 yds, 2 TD
WR David Frazier 6’0″, 175 28 rec. for 302 yds, 2 TD
WR Alvonta Jenkins 6’0″, 204 12 rec. for 141 yds
TE Alex Welch 6’4″, 251 (at ND)
LT Jeff Tanner 6’4″, 296 10 starts (11 career starts)
LG Trevan Brown 6’4″, 291 10 starts (19 career starts)
C Marcus Matthews 6’3″, 325 3 starts (22 career starts)
RG Brandyn Cook 6’3″, 301 6 starts (7 career starts)
RT Zach Lewis 6’6″, 276 11 starts (28 career starts)

The offense is the biggest challenge. Not only did it average just 9.8 points, but it ranked second-to-last nationally in yards per game (225.8), 116th in rush offense (101.6 ypg), 121st in pass offense (124.3 ypg), second-to-last in third-down conversions (24.6 percent), and last in red zone conversions (63.2 percent). The good news is eight starters return. But that’s about the only good news and Martin has decreed that no one’s job is safe.

Notre Dame transfer Andrew Hendrix knows Martin's system

Notre Dame transfer Andrew Hendrix knows Martin’s system

Two quarterbacks who got some action last season are back, but the main starter, Austin Boucher, is gone. His replacement, Austin Gearing, who took over as a freshman and completed just 24-of-54 passes for 188 yards (just 7.8 yards per completion), no touchdowns, and three interceptions. He was also sacked nearly as many times (16) as he completed a pass. Gearing was, however, an effective runner, leading the team with 478 yards on the ground. Sophomore Drew Kummer was slightly more effective in the passing game, going 18-for-48 for 267 yards and a touchdown. But Martin can’t feel confident heading into 2014 with them as his only options.

Enter Andrew Hendrix. The senior followed Martin to Oxford as a grad-year transfer and instantly became the most talented quarterback on the roster, even if his Notre Dame career never panned out. In 16 games over the last three seasons in South Bend, Hendrix completed 25-of-58 (43.1 percent) for 360 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also added 203 rushing yards and a touchdown on 6.2 yards per carry. While his numbers aren’t much better than those of Gearing or Kummer, Hendrix has the advantage of already being familiar with Martin’s system. That may be enough to give him the starting nod, at least by the time Miami comes to Ann Arbor.

The top two rushers on Miami’s roster last season were not running backs. Behind Gearing was receiver Dawan Scott, who rushed 37 times for 231 yards (6.2 yards per carry). The top running back was Spencer Treadwell who gained just 171 yards on 56 carries (3.1 ypc) and scored one touchdown. Grant Niemiec was the only other back to top 100 yards, with 114 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries as a true freshman. Unless Martin finds luck with a newcomer or gets significant improvement from Treadwell or Niemiec, it’s probably a safe bet to assume Hendrix or Gearing will lead the team in rushing this fall.

Scott is one player who might be in for a decent season. He lead the team with 425 receiving yards on 28 catches (15.2 ypc) and two touchdowns, following a 2012 campaign in which he caught 57 passes for 851 yards and seven scores. On the other side is his former high school teammate, David Frazier, who also caught 28 passes last season, but for just 302 yards and two touchdowns. If the two can get in sync with Hendrix or Gearing, Miami could have a halfway decent passing attack. Add in Notre Dame transfer, senior tight end Alex Welch, and there is some talent there. Although Welch caught just one pass while in South Bend, he’s the highest-rated pass-catcher on the roster.

The offensive line is an experienced bunch with 99 career starts combined, but that doesn’t mean much given its struggles last season. If you thought Michigan’s line was bad last season, Miami can assure you that it can be worse. The Redhawks allowed 49 sacks — one every five passing downs — in addition to ranking 116th nationally in rushing. With no four- or five-star talent to step in, Martin will hope to find his best five in fall camp.

Defense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
DE Bryson Albright 6’5″, 224 55 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5 sacks
DT Mwanza Wamulumba 6’3″, 281 24 tackles, 0.5 TFL
DT Jimmy Rousher 6’2″, 283 23 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR
DE J’Terius Brown 6’3″, 245 26 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks
OLB Josh Dooley 6’0″, 227 87 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FR
MLB Kent Kern 6’1″, 229 98 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 PBU
OLB Tyler Tucker 6’2″, 220 50 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 PBU
CB Heath Harding 5’10″, 178 56 tackles, 3 TFL, 4 PBU, 3 INT
CB Lo Wood 5’11″, 185 10 tackles, 1 TFL (at ND)
FS Brison Burris 5’11″, 190 75 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 1 INT
SS Jay Mastin 6’2″, 214 62 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 INT

Miami’s defense fared slightly better than its offense in 2013, but not by much. It ranked 115th nationally in total defense (484.3 ypg), 113th in rush defense (223.3 ypg), and 105th in pass defense (260.9 ypg). The Redhawks allowed third down conversions at a rate of 48.2 percent, good for 121st nationally, and sacked the quarterback just 13 times all season, tied for 118th nationally.

Heath Harding lead Miami with three interceptions last season

Heath Harding lead Miami with three interceptions last season

Seven starters return on the defense, but the best player from last year’s defense, cornerback Dayonne Nunley, is gone. The three-time first-team All-MAC performer lead the team with 58 solo tackles and finished second in total tackles (88) and was the only Redhawk with double-digit pass breakups (13). He also recorded an interception and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. He was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable secondary.

The good news for Martin is that he has another Notre Dame transfer, Lo Wood, who brings three years of experience — though not starting experience — with him. He played in 33 games, recording 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and one interception. He’ll join an experienced secondary even without Nunley. Sophomore Heath Harding is the other corner. He recorded 56 tackles, three for loss, and lead the team with three interceptions last season. Seniors Chrishawn Dupuy and Jarrell Jones will also be in the battle to start. Both of last year’s starting safeties, senior Brison Burris and sophomore Jay Mastin, return. They combined for 137 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. Another guy, redshirt sophomore Marshall Taylor, could factor in. He redshirted last season after starting five of the last seven games as a true freshman in 2012 and recording 40 tackles.

The defensive line lost a pair of starters, end Wes Williams and tackle Austin Brown, but does still have some talent returning. Junior end Bryson Albright lead the team with 11.5 tackles-for-loss and five sacks. The other end, J’Terius Brown recorded six tackles-for-loss and three sacks, though he started just one game. The interior, made up of senior Mwanza Wamulumba and sophomore Jimmy Rousher, combined for 47 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and one sack. But the theme across the line is size, or a lack thereof. Albright and Brown average just 234 pounds, while Wamulumba and Rousher average just 282. Miami will need to get bigger up front if it wants to slow down opposing offenses.

There is some talent at linebacker in a trio of juniors, Josh Dooley, Kent Kern, and Tyler Tucker. Dooley ranked third on the team last season with 87 tackles and had two for loss, in addition to three pass breakups. Kern, the middle linebacker, was the team’s leading tackler with 98 tackles, five of which went for loss. Tucker added 50 tackles, 2.5 for loss. They do have to replace Chris Wade’s 79 tackles and nine tackles-for-loss.

Special Teams

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
PK Kaleb Patterson 5’10″, 172 7-11 FG, long 52
P Drew Kummer 6’3″, 207 27.3 avg, 1 in-20
KR Fred McRae 5’10″, 175 11 ret, 20.5 avg.
PR Fred McRae 5’10″, 175 12 ret, 9.2 avg.

Field goal kicker Kaleb Patterson is back after making 7-of-11 tries with a long of 52 in 2013. Punter Zac Murphy, who averaged 46.6 yards per punt, needs to be replaced and that job will likely fall to junior quarterback Drew Kummer, who punted three times last season for just 27.3 yards per. There’s a chance that Patterson could assume both duties.

In the return game, redshirt sophomore receiver Fred McRae showed potential last season, averaging 9.2 yards per punt return, although Miami’s defense didn’t force many teams to punt. He also averaged 20.5 yards per kick return.

Outlook

With so much area for improvement, it’s going to take some time to rebuild. The non-conference schedule is somewhat favorable with Michigan being the only guaranteed loss. Marshall beat Miami 52-14 last season and should be even better, but Eastern Kentucky and Cincinnati should both be winnable games. That doesn’t mean Miami will win those, but it’s better than facing other power conference teams. Martin should hope for baby steps this fall, a couple of wins to start building towards the future.

What it means for Michigan

Martin is familiar with the Wolverines, but it wasn’t the Notre Dame offense that Michigan has had trouble with. It was the defense that shut Michigan down in 2012. That won’t happen in this one as Michigan’s offense will get to continue to test its running game against a an undersized line. Michigan will either be coming off its first loss of the season or a big road win at Notre Dame. In that same scenario last year, Michigan struggled with a bad — but not this bad — Akron team. The players admitted that they bought into the hype after the thrilling Under the Lights II win over the Irish and got comfortable, but don’t expect that to happen again. Michigan will roll the Redhawks like they should have done the Zips.

New in Blue: Tight end Chris Clark

Thursday, June 19th, 2014


Chris Clark(247 Sports)

Chris Clark – TE | 6-6, 247 | Avon, Conn. – Avon Old Farms
ESPN: 4-star, #3 TE Rivals: 4-star, #4 TE 247: 4-star, #2 TE Scout: 5-star, #1 TE
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State, Miami, South Carolina

Michigan seems to be gaining momentum on the recruiting trail, as just a day after picking up a commitment from 2016 quarterback Messiah deWeaver, the Wolverines got the nod from one of the top tight ends in the country, Chris Clark. After visiting Ohio State on Tuesday and Michigan State on Wednesday, the Avon, Conn. star pledged his commitment to Michigan on his visit this afternoon and announced it on Twitter.

Clark is rated four stars by Rivals, 247, and ESPN and five stars by Scout. Scout considers him the top tight end and 26th-best overall prospect in the 2015 class. 247 ranks him the second-best tight end and 101st overall prospect. ESPN has him as their third tight end and 108th-best overall prospect, while Rivals ranks him fourth and 146th, respectively. All but Rivals are in agreement about his height (6’6″) and weight (247-pounds). Rivals lists him six pounds heavier.

Scout lists Clarks’s strengths as blocking ability, hands, concentration, and size, and his weaknesses as downfield threat and elusiveness. Scout’s Brian Dohn had high praise for Clark.

“Clark is a complete tight end who can block, get out and catch the ball and also be a factor in the red zone,” said Dohn. “He has very good hands and is a red-zone threat. He does a nice job running routes and he is a big, physical player. He also embraces the blocking portion of the game, and does a good job getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly. All around, Clark is a complete tight end who should havea big impact quickly in college.”

Make no mistake about it, this is a big pick up for Hoke and staff. Clark held offers from nearly every major program in the country, including Alabama, and Michigan’s three main rivals, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. He originally committed to North Carolina on March 16, but decommitted less than a month later and promptly visited Michigan and Ohio State.

On May 4, Clark tweeted that he would make his announcement at The Opening on July 8, but his visit to Michigan today, during which he met with quarterback commitment Alex Malzone, was enough to get him to end his recruitment a few weeks earlier. He’s the only current commit that will participate in The Opening, an invite-only competition for elite prospects at the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, but he will join a pair of former commits — George Campbell and Shaun Crawford — as well as several targets.

Clark is the eighth member of the 2015 class and the only tight end. When he gets to Michigan next year — assuming his commitment holds through signing day — he will join a talented group that includes fellow four-stars Jake Butt and Ian Bunting and three star Khalid Hill. For what it’s worth, Devin Funchess was a three-star, though it’s a stretch to consider him a tight end at this point.

New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier likes to utilize tight ends, so the success Hoke and staff have had recruiting the position the past few years bodes well for the future. Clark has also said that he will do some recruiting for Michigan to try to lure other top prospects to join him in Ann Arbor.

Countdown to kickoff: 85 days

Friday, June 6th, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-85

New in Blue: Running back Ty Isaac

Thursday, June 5th, 2014


Ty Isaac(USA Today Sports)

Ty Isaac – RB | 6-3, 225 | Joliet, Ill. – Joliet Catholic
ESPN: 4-star, #13 RB Rivals: 5-star, #4 RB 247: 4-star, #5 RB Scout: 5-star, #7 RB
Other top offers: USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan State, Georgia, Notre Dame

Michigan missed out on a key transfer earlier this spring when Alabama center Chad Lindsay chose Ohio State, but the Wolverines landed an even bigger transfer today when USC running back Ty Isaac announced via Twitter that he would sign with Michigan.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. Michigan was one of the finalists  to land Isaac before he decided to attend Southern Cal in the 2013 recruiting class. At USC, the Joliet, Ill. native rushed for 236 yards on 40 carries — an average of 5.9 yards per carry — and two touchdowns during the 2013 season as a true freshman. He also caught four passes for 57 yards. Isaac battled for playing time in a crowded backfield that included senior Penn State transfer Silas Redd. When he got extended playing time against California on Nov. 9, Isaac showed what he is capable of, rushing for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

(David Cleveland, AP)

(David Cleveland, AP)

Isaac announced his transfer in mid-May because of a longing to be closer to his mother, who is dealing with medical complications related to a procedure. Under NCAA rules, a player can receive a hardship waiver in these types of circumstances, which would make him eligible to play right away instead of sitting out a year. However, in 2012, the NCAA refined the rule to institute a 100-mile radius from the immediate family member’s home. Ann Arbor is approximately 250 miles away, so it would be up to the NCAA to grant leniency in this case.

Illinois, which is much closer to his home, was the other top contender for his services. He visited there last week before making a trip to Ann Arbor earlier this week. Notre Dame, which was also a finalist to land Isaac coming out of high school was initially not approved by USC since the Trojans play the Irish. Ohio State also sought approval to contact him, but it was for naught.

“I decided that I’m going to transfer to Michigan,” Isaac said this morning. “I had a good visit there, and it’s just the place where I feel the most comfortable. I didn’t want to drag all of this out and see a ton of schools. Michigan was in my final three when I committed to USC, and the reasons I liked Michigan are still very much in place.”

If the NCAA grants him the ability to play this fall, Isaac will battle for the starting job with Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith, who were also members of the 2013 class. Rivals rated Green the top running back in the class, Isaac fourth, and Smith 37th. Scout had Green first, Isaac seventh, and Smith 11th, while 247 Sports had Isaac fifth, Green eighth, and Smith 15th.

If Isaac does have to sit out the 2014 season, he will be able to take a redshirt and still have three years of eligibility remaining, which would put a year of separation between he and the other two.

During his senior year at Joliet Catholic in 2012, Isaac rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns, but missed some games due to injury. As a junior in 2011, he racked up 2,629 yards and 45 touchdowns, including a 515-yard, six-touchdown performance in the Illinois Class 5A state championship game.

He is the first transfer Michigan has landed since quarterback Steven Threet transferred from Georgia Tech in 2007. Threet then transferred to Arizona State two years later.

Countdown to kickoff: 89 days

Monday, June 2nd, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-89_edited-1