WTKA Roundtable 1/4/2018: A Lonely Cook

WTKA Roundtable 1/4/2018: A Lonely Cook Comment Count

Seth January 5th, 2018 at 7:11 AM

WTKA cover 1-4-18

Ira’s in for Sam today.

Football things discussed:

  • Brian groans
  • Every quarterback regressed this year. Unprecedented under Harbaugh, who’s had QB success since San Diego. Wasn’t just protection.
  • Down three guys on an OL that wasn’t very good to begin with.
  • No valid complaints about the defense, though some people manage to do so anyway. Microcosm of the season: constantly put behind the 8 ball and held the opponent to a beatable score.
  • Mo Hurst was the best defensive lineman in Craig’s 3,000-year lifetime. Cam made Ira laugh.
  • Would Roman come? Would we go to a pistol? Pistol gets you more of a downhill running game out of a read-option shotgun game, changes quarterback footwork.
  • One of the problems with this offense is Harbaugh might have stepped back from running the offense.
  • Go back to his third year of Stanford: things got better from there too.
  • New coaches: likely to have five new guys if Drevno and Pep are gone too, plus there’s a tenth assistant.

Hoops things discussed

  • Hoops! Ira’s not a fan of the gap: the space between the BTT and the tournament could lead to too much rust.
  • Michigan’s the third-best team in a bad league, but it’s a four-bid league. The defense is ranking better than their offense on Ed’s numbers.
  • Livers emerging is a big deal because Robinson should be out there with Teske to hide his perimeter defense, return him to his Microwave job.
  • Z is never going to be Derrick Walton but he’s becoming an excellent version of himself now that he can shoot: never doubt Beilein’s ability to make anyone a 36% 3-point shooter.
  • Donnal is at 6.3% DREB at Clemson, which means everyone on Michigan’s court is outperforming him. Wagner has improved after his draft grade circled that spot, and Teske is a major upgrade.
  • Poole is the Quinn Hughes of the basketball team: once he settles down Michigan really has something
  • When was the low point last year? Maverick Morgan or the Ohio State loss?
  • Root for Texas, UCLA and LSU. Texas might be really good—Bamba getting better could make that a signature victory this year. Central Michigan could help too.
  • Watch Oklahoma’s Trae Young: Ira says he’s Steph Curry II.

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.


It was bad year, and it’s manifesting itself on the radio.


MGoPodcast 9.15: Not This Down

MGoPodcast 9.15: Not This Down Comment Count

Seth January 3rd, 2018 at 6:01 PM

1 hour and 54 minutes

mgopodcast 9.15

We are at the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, which has nine or ten conference rooms depending on if we count Wisconsin’s loss to Rutgers in basketball.

We Couldn’t Have One Without the Other

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be sighing to ourselves.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,Human Element, Lantana Hummus and new this week introducing Ecotelligent Homes


1. The Bowl Game Happened, and Hey, a Basketball Game!

starts at 1:00

Hit Kenpom Time at 7 minutes, positive step forward for the program despite getting almost nothing from Mo and Matthews. Very different to want Z taking shots. Getting Robinson back to the bench, where he can be on the floor with Teske, is the best part of starting Livers. Typical Beilein team coming together, Teske earning equal time. Best shot at a tourney win is beat Purdue at home—RPI hell going to put a good team on the 10 line. RPI should please adopt hockey’s adjustment where if a win would lower your RPI they drop it. Does Poole need a Xanax or roll with it?

2. The Bowl Game Happened, We’ll Talk About It

starts at 32:14

Every quarterback who played this year regressed. Losing the mash brothers lost the running game. Standard crazy good D with a big safety crack on a slot fade. Not upset with the direction of the program; upset with the takes this year invited. No excuse for pass protection to be THIS bad.

3. Next Year

starts at 46:17

Defense returns Don Brown and 10-ish starters, with some backups in line for breakouts. One guy they lose is the best DT in program history but deeper team could murder a la 2016. Bring back two elite LBs with a lot of good backup options, and possibly the two best CBs in the country plus Ambry Thomas.

Offense seems pretty bad. Looks like another staff shakeup coming. RB should be fine, Ben Mason is fine at fullback, Gentry/McKeon will improve, get more from Eubanks and Wheatley. WRs won’t be all freshmen anymore. Interior OL has to get better at pass pro. Bredeson needs a jump next year since he doesn’t fit with the mash-you unit. Gotta find two tackles, can probably find at least one?

Special teams: Gotta find a punter, Nordin good.

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi wsg Richard Hoeg of HoegLaw

starts at 1:13:28

One of our advertisers wrote a viral Star Wars take so we invited him on. Brian loathed The Force Awakens for making a 2016 remake of IV. Agree there was a Marvel-ish iconoclasm to it—this bothers Richard and Brian thinks this series badly needed it. Ryan Johnson got a crap sandwich and figured out a way to make the third movie not Return of the Jedi. Do you want Windsurfing Skywalker? Casino planet too ham-handed—important for plot because it sets up a bigger galaxy that hates the First Order.


  • “X”—Xzibit
  • “Fiery Crash”—Andrew Bird
  • “Star Wars Theme Kazoo Cover”—Morpeef
  • “Across 110th Street”


Kylo-Ren. Kylo-Rey is like they’re now dating. You’re shipping them.



Whatever Comment Count

Brian January 2nd, 2018 at 10:06 AM

1/1/2018 – Michigan 19, South Carolina 26 – 8-5, end of season


[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

I don't know how people get mad about this shit still. I just turn off, because for the last decade Michigan football has been either a disappointment or in a brief interim period that sets you up to be disappointed. But yes many many people still get fucking furious about Michigan football for some reason.

I'm tired of talking about it. I'm tired of this cycle that always seems to be at the bottom. I'm tired of this toxic-ass fanbase screaming at stuff. I could muster some takes, I guess, but I've already said them and anyway they seem beside the point. December was nice since it lacked football. 2018, so far, is bad because it had football.

In a situation like that I'd rather not talk about football. Especially because I have nothing left to say. Maybe it'll be better next year. Maybe it won't. Either way it's a meaningless distraction on the way to the grave. Eat at Arby's.


Outback Bowl Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Outback Bowl Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 2nd, 2018 at 9:00 AM



“I'd like to thank the Outback Bowl. [Ed. A—And I’d like to thank David Nasternak for being our guy on the ground in Tampa and getting audio of the presser] Great experience. Congratulations to South Carolina on their victory.”

Did you feel it slipping away at any time, or did they get better as the game went along?

“I think they did get better. I think probably a little bit of both those things. They got better as the game went on, no doubt, and made plays to win the football game, and we didn't get the knockout punch when we needed it. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were there.”

Can you put your finger on why the defense was having a dominant performance and then it all changed? What did you see in terms of why it changed?

“Yeah, they made a really good throw, really good catch on the touchdown. Made another spectacular throw and catch on the second touchdown pass. Yeah, they executed well, really well, and then our errors, starting with the—really starting with the fumble by Sean McKeon, which was not Sean McKeon’s fault, that was our fault. That was a coaching error. We had the wrong personnel in there, and I should have called time out. And then the other miscues we had.”

Pat Kugler, was he banged up a little bit? Is that why you took him out of the game?

“Yeah, Pat had gotten rolled up on his ankle and gave it a go and was doing fine, but just felt like it was too much to overcome.”

When did you know about that Ben [Bredeson] wasn’t going to be able to play?

“About three weeks ago.”

[After THE JUMP: sifting through what went wrong in search of answers, shooting down NFL rumors (again), evaluating QB play and what it means for 2018]


South Carolina 26, Michigan 19

South Carolina 26, Michigan 19 Comment Count

Ace January 1st, 2018 at 4:31 PM

[Marc-Gregor Campredon]

New year, same Michigan.

In one of the uglier games of an aesthetically unpleasant season, the Wolverines never managed to cobble together a coherent offense, and five-second half turnovers beget 23 unanswered points for South Carolina.

Quarterback Brandon Peters, playing behind a line down three starters by halftime, never looked comfortable. Factoring in two sacks, Peters averaged only 3.7 yards per dropback and missed a number of throws, including two late interceptions to seal the loss. Michigan fared little better on the ground, gaining all of 2.9 yards per carry.

While the Jim Harbaugh takes will reach a level of scorching usually reserved for large celestial bodies, it's fair to criticize the playcalling, which didn't do much to take the pressure off Peters or Don Brown's futilely amazing defense. No single call was responsible for the loss, but the third-and-short handoff to tight end Sean McKeon, fumbled for a South Carolina recovery, defied explanation until Harbaugh, taking responsibility, said after the game that Michigan had the wrong personnel on the field.


That play was just one in a series of mistakes that turned a 19-3 second-half lead into a 26-19 loss. Karan Higdon fumbled inside the South Carolina five-yard line with the Wolverines leading 16-3 and poised to blow the game wide open. After Michigan added a field goal and SC responded their first touchdown drive, McKeon's fumble gave the Gamecocks the ball on the M 21; they needed one play to score again, with Jake Bentley's pass to Bryan Edwards cutting the lead to 19-16.

Michigan's ensuing drive went nowhere, and the defense—as we've seen too many times this year—cracked under the pressure of supporting an inept offense. Bentley improbably converted a third-and-17 on a jump ball to tight end Hayden Hurst; three plays later, Shi Smith beat Tyree Kinnel clean to the pylon for a 53-yard score.

The comedy of errors continued unabated. After driving Michigan 75 yards in seven plays, Peters committed a cardinal sin of quarterbacking, throwing under pressure across his body to get intercepted in the end zone. When the defense held, SC's punt clanged off Donovan Peoples-Jones's facemask, setting up the Gamecocks with the ball in the red zone, where they'd get a critical field goal to take a two-possession advantage.

Down to one timeout in the waning minutes, Harbaugh decided to go for it on fourth-and-ten deep in his own territory, but Peters's deep shot to Kekoa Crawford wasn't anywhere close to a completion. The defense gave Michigan one last chance, pushing SC back to force a missed field goal. Another interception by Peters, forcing it to a well-covered Crawford, ended it.

Fair or not, this will be a long offseason. The mitigating factors, or excuses, or whatever you care to call them, go away in 2018, when the program will be loaded with talent recruited by Harbaugh. They'll certainly look better than this. They'd better look a whole lot better.


Bloomin' Liveblog

Bloomin' Liveblog Comment Count

Seth January 1st, 2018 at 11:48 AM

New features this week: A sports blogger in a bloomin onion costume.



The yellow/ orange bar is your mana. 
Sending messages costs mana. 
Messages cost more, the more active chat is. 
The red dudes on the side bar are lives remaining.

If you break the Board Rules, you lose a life. Lose three lives and you have to insert a quarter into your monitor. No no keep trying it, it’ll go in. As always, the Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is The Law.


The link:

Enter here: http://kibitz.io/#/outbackbowl


Punt/Counterpunt: Outback Bowl

Punt/Counterpunt: Outback Bowl Comment Count

Seth January 1st, 2018 at 10:03 AM


By Bryan MacKenzie

You know what college football doesn't have enough of? Equations.
I don't do much with the maths, but from what I remember from high school algebra, there's a general rule that if you have a variables system of linear equations, you need that same number of distinct equations to solve the system. In other words, the more variables, the more information you need if you want to know what the hell is going on and why. And hoo boy does college football have a lot of variables. Player turnover. Injuries. Weather. The way an oblong ball bounces. The ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ nature of 18- to 22-year-old man-children. The general bloodymindedness of the universe.
“System of linear equations” is the most boring thing that has ever been Google Image Searched. 
And the equations? Oh, there aren't many equations. Give me 162 baseball games, and we can calculate the exact value of every player down to the run. Hell, even if you’ve got 16 NFL games against other professional teams with rosters that are similar to those of the last couple of seasons, and you have a decent idea what you’re looking at. But in college football, you've got twelve regular season games. And odds are, three or four of those games are going to be against tomato cans. So you're really looking at a sample of eight or nine games against real teams. One will be in the rain. One will be windy and cold. In one game, the opponent's quarterback will get knocked out. In one, YOUR quarterback will get knocked out. 
Sure, we can draw some general conclusions, like “Mo Hurst is greater than or equal to everything,” or “you cannot divide by Mike Riley.” But to get more specific, we need more data. So we go searching in the places where your stats professor warned you not to go without a chaperone. Like spring games. Insider practice hype. Coaches’ press conferences. Tarot card readers. ESPN talking heads.
Bowl games.
Sure, there is information to be gleaned. But the temptations is to look for the shiny objects. Look no further than the narrative around the Big Ten bowl record. There is real value to the wins by the top echelon of the conference. But all everyone is talking about is “7-0,” despite the randomness of Iowa ice-skating better than Boston College, Kentucky dropping a two-point conversion against Northwestern, and Purdue completing a two-minute drill against Arizona.
Pictured: the Big Ten being unbeatable (USA Today)
Michigan is going to beat South Carolina, because Michigan is pretty good, and South Carolina isn’t particularly good. Whether it is by a field goal or four touchdowns is largely irrelevant. A big shiny multi-score win would make everybody feel better, and would be a talking point for those 30 second pre-season rundowns on ESPN 7 (“Michigan is coming off a bowl win, something something rivalry record,  Rashan Gary, something quarterback competition, latest Harbaugh thing”). 
But 2018 is set up to be a really, really good year regardless of how this game goes. So forget about the narrative. Instead of worrying about the final score, just enjoy the Hammering Panda and Mo Hurst destroying people one last time. Try to learn a *little* bit about Brandon Peters and the other new or like-new guys in line for playing time next year. And enjoy watching a real, honest-to-god football game for the last time for the next three quarters of a year.
(But yeah, Will Muschamp, so Michigan is probably going to bludgeon these guys)
Michigan 27, South Carolina 10
[Nick RoUMel has retired and a full CP search deserves a more thorough process, so this being bowl season we've promoted a guy in-house, MGoBlog GifMaster and Waffle Chef Smoothitron, with an interim tag and suggested a good performance can win him the job]


By Smoothitron
A year full of interesting storylines, compelling characters, and underwhelming results has culminated in a very appropriate finale. The Outback Bowl is the historical home of the also-rans who didn’t also-run well enough to even make the Citrus. Everything about this game is ho-hum, from the uninspiring Tampa locale, to the rehashed matchup of teams, to its relegation to ESPN2 in favor of UCF vs. Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
Even the Outback Bowl Trophy is an underwhelming prize. It features a crystal boomerang, which was a disappointing second choice when the Golden Crocodile Dundee Trophy™ was deemed too expensive to license.
The B1G’s bowl performance thus far has injected a certain amount of fake conference pride to the stakes, with a perfect B1G bowl record on the line. Unfortunately, it will mean little for Michigan fans. A defeat today sullying the B1G’s otherwise flawless bowl record might add a different arrow to the quiver of rival fans, but won’t increase the inevitable barbs that will be lobbed all offseason.
None of this means that the game won’t be worth watching of course. There are fascinating storylines to keep an eye on. Chase Winovich spearheaded an effort to turn the leadup to the game into a tremendous fundraising opportunity for #Chadtough, resulting in a massive discharge of the Michigan Money Cannon and the glorious opportunity to see a great deal of our heroes sport luxurious orange locks(or facial hair in Don Brown’s case) for the game. As of this writing the fundraiser is barreling towards a staggering $200,000.
(not too late to donate, click here[https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/chaseforchad/chasewinovich] to take part)
Simultaneously, in a wonderful example of what Internet 2.0 is capable of, notable Eddie-Murphy-impersonator Ryan Nanni successfully conned the bowl sponsor into facilitating his yearlong dream to depict the Official Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion Man.  Inspiringly, Nanni gets to portray a food item that contains more calories than his own body, while also depriving whatever local vagrant was previously going to wear the suit out of his New Year’s booze money.

As for the game itself, however, I will consider it a victory if it’s different enough from the last Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina that I’m able to successfully differentiate between them in five years. If you know where to look, there are plenty of ways the Outback Bowl will be an interesting and compelling experience. Unfortunately, an uninterested performance will mean the game won’t be among them.

South Carolina 20, Michigan 13


Preview: 2018 Outback Bowl

Preview: 2018 Outback Bowl Comment Count

Brian December 31st, 2017 at 1:54 PM


WHAT Michigan (8-4) vs
South Carolina (8-4)
WHERE Tampa Stadium
Tampa Bay, FL    
WHEN Noon Eastern           
January 1, 2018
THE LINE Vegas: M –7.5         
S&P+: M –8.3
TICKETS can be had
WEATHER overcast, mid-50s, slight chance of rain

MGoBlog: gleefully partaking in Australian stereotypes since 2004


Michigan's January 1st outing against South Carolina takes on a bizarre new importance since the Big Ten is currently 7-0 in bowl games and Michigan is the last of their conference's teams to play. I don't know what's more shocking: the 7-0 or the fact that Michigan is the only Big Ten team playing on New Year's Day. Remember when, like, 7-5 Northwestern teams played on NYD? I'm confused.

The good news for both Michigan and the league is that this matchup looked like one of the more lopsided bowl matchups of the year even before the conference chaingunned all comers. South Carolina has an even hollower 8-4 than Michigan does and has generally played like a 6-6 team, per S&P+. If Michigan's passing game is at all functional they should run away and hide.

About that, though.

Run Offense vs South Carolina


Skai Moore could play for Don Brown

South Carolina is one of those YOU WILL NOT RUN ON US teams, and they've been fairly successful in that department (24th). They rely on their DL to make plays in the backfield and generally read-and-react their linebackers; All-SEC performer Skai Moore is a viper-ish sort (220 pounds) who excels at diagnosing and attacking. His 15 run stuffs leads the team by a wide margin.

The Gamecocks are still skating along with middling talent and making sacrifices in the passing game to prop their run defense up, though, and that comes through in the stats. Most prominently: they're one of the worst teams in the country(123rd) at stopping short yardage. They do a fairly good job as a team; they keep gains down and don't get gashed on the regular, but other than Moore they're just a bunch of guys. Ace:

The front four did a solid job of holding their ground given Clemson's excellent run-blocking. They're a big group with Stallworth at 305 pounds and the nose tackles, Javon Kinlaw and Ulric Jones, both checking in well north of 300. Clemson still had success running between the tackles, however, for a couple reasons. First, there were a number of one-guy-blows-it plays when an SC lineman would try to shoot a gap and get sealed off. Second, the non-Moore linebackers didn't make many plays and frequently got caught up in the wash.

TJ Brunson, the middle linebacker, looked like the linebacker most often unable to get to the ballcarrier. There were a number of plays that Moore had to pursue from behind and hold down to keep from breaking into the secondary.

Notable that this game was out of hand in a flash and Clemson probably put away any wrinkles since they had the ACC championship game the next weekend. A Michigan team that doesn't have a game for eight months will probably have a number of things they'll use to get the opposition chasing the wrong guy or filling the wrong gap for just long enough.

Michigan's approach here is unlikely to change from their second-half mash party, but some of the faces might. Ben Bredeson and Juwann Bushell-Beatty did not participate in the open seconds of some bowl practices and eagle-eyed observers caught a practice video featuring Mike Onwenu at left guard. Your bowl OL might read Cole-Onwenu-Kugler-Ruiz-Some Guy, with Jon Runyan Jr. the likeliest Some Guy. This is unlikely to make much impact since Bredeson played no better than Onwenu and the right tackle has been a rotating disaster zone all year. Something to keep an eye on, in case the switches and absences do exacerbate an already unstable situation. That's more likely in pass protection than on the ground, though Runyan does project as a downgrade from the forceful Bushell-Beatty.

Also in injury issues: neither Ty Isaac or Kareem Walker is expected to play, so Higdon and Evans should get the vast majority of the carries. O'Maury Samuels is the only other back on the roster who is available and not redshirting.

It's worth noting that Michigan's very, very quietly a top-ten rush offense in S&P+ at #9, and that their performance went almost directly upwards after a mid-season switch to a more power-based mashing style. With South Carolina's mediocre stuff rate and line yards allowed plus their short yardage issues, grinding seems like a strong possibility.

KEY MATCHUP: JON RUNYAN JR vs WHOEVER. Runyan was presumably on the bench for a reason. He's got a shot now, probably, and if he can cope on the ground he could be another bullet in the chamber at tackle.

[Hit THE JUMP for... dink dink dink, on both sides.]


Fee Fi Foe Film: South Carolina Offense

Fee Fi Foe Film: South Carolina Offense Comment Count

Seth December 30th, 2017 at 9:00 AM

[UPDATE: Deebo Samuel is out with a broken leg/sprained foot]

Previously: Defense

[Author reliever note: Your Jack Morris of Foe Film is exhausted, so the Willie Hernandez of Foe Film is coming in to close out the season.]


OBC left us this one magic spell

South Carolina’s offense is bad for good reasons, and Clemson’s defense is very good. Unlike some rivalry games however, the bad offense was just as unimaginative as it was feckless. In fact Muschamp fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper a few days after it.

In the aftermath receivers coach Bryan McClendon was upgraded from nominal co-OC to official interim OC. For this one-game audition in Don Brown’s Hell they didn’t leave McClendon much to work with. Old Ball Coach Steve Spurrier retired two years ago and left his heirs with a handful of interior linemen, a tight end, some old golf clubs, and a strategy guide for stretching the definition of “on the line of scrimmage.”


They’ve also rarely started the same 11 two games straight, a combination of minor injuries and sifting through their collection of teenagers for players.


four guys on this offense held down a single position all season

The result of all this youth and mediocre coaching is the 88th offense this year to MGoBlog-favored fancystat S&P+. The running game is a grab-bag of stuff they don’t do very well. The passing game is West Coast dump-offs to the running backs and option routes to their one sophomore receiver. The one thing it has going for it is a good receiving tight end.

Personnel: My diagram gets bigger if you click it. (Also because I was at a wedding when Ace put the SC defense post together here's the promised chart for that).


The RB rotation is three co-equal starters given the “OR” designation. Turner started the first half of 2016 before losing carries to Rico Dowdle, who’s out for this game with a broken fibula. The third, Ty’son Williams, got the majority of snaps against Clemson and was the least likely to run away from a gaping hole. Dowdle’s absence gives us room to include spectacularly named Randrecous Davis, the backup slot receiver who inherited injured Shi Smith’s snaps in the Clemson game. Both are freshmen.

Outside, Bryan Edwards gets over a quarter of their targets, often on sight adjustment (option) routes. Another true freshman receiver, OrTre Smith (no relation), has replaced injured Deebo Samuel, who was also their kick and punt returner. According to people who watched more SC than me that's a big loss.

None of the offensive linemen looked very good against Clemson, but Clemson’s DL tends to do that to mere mortals. Everyone got out-athleted at least once, but they also did a fair job at picking up Venables’s nasty blitzes—punt.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown]


Fee Fi Foe Film: South Carolina Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: South Carolina Defense Comment Count

Ace December 28th, 2017 at 4:19 PM

All-SEC linebacker Skai Moore covers a lot of ground.

South Carolina's schedule made it difficult to pick a game to scout. Over the last two months, they've faced two playoff teams (Georgia and Clemson), four SEC squads ranked worse than 80th in S&P+, and Wofford.

I chose Clemson given the comparably fierce defense to Michigan. The offenses are, uh, different. As such, I expect SC to take a slightly different approach than what I saw in this game, but thankfully Will Muschamp's schemes are well-known at this point. In this game, Clemson picked apart his pet coverage in a way Michigan should be able to reclicate. The Tigers jumped out to a 34-0 lead before setting it on cruise control for most of the second half.

Personnel: Seth's diagram will go up tomorrow along with the offense post, as he's currently at a wedding. South Carolina doesn't have any recent major injuries to report on defense; they lost talented SLB Bryson Allen-Williams early in the year.

Base Set? Multiple. Muschamp runs a DJ Durkin-like 4-3 (he's even used the same BUCK terminology for the weakside end) that often morphs into a three-man front, including quite often a true 3-4 look with a zero-tech nose.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]