The University of Michigan men’s basketball team played one game last week, and they won it. On Saturday (11/11/2017), UM beat North Florida 86-66 in Crisler Arena. Michigan’s record is now 1-0.
The final score looks like a pretty comfortable win, but the game was close for the whole 1st half, and well into the 2nd half. Once Michigan pulled away, they finally looked good, but it was a very slow start.
Michigan took an early 7-2 lead, then went stone cold. UNF went on a 16-4 run, and led 18-11 with 10:18 left in the 1st half. Michigan looked very sloppy and lethargic. They went on their own 8-0 run to lead again, 19-18, with 6:35 to go. The teams then traded baskets for the rest of the half, with UM leading 32-30 at halftime. It was not a very impressive 1st half.
Michigan came out of halftime with a little more energy, and quickly pushed the lead up to 7 points (37-30) with 19:08 left in the game. They couldn’t put UNF away, and let them hang around. UNF kept battling, and reclaimed the lead, 47-46, with 12:49 to go. That was their last lead, as Michigan finally woke up and pulled away for good. The lead got as large as 23 points, before ending up at 20 points. The last 10 minutes were encouraging, but the first 30 minutes were depressing.
The game statistics aren’t very impressive. Michigan didn’t shoot very well overall (33-for-71 = 46.5%), they didn’t shoot 3-pointers very well (9-for-25 = 36.0%), and they didn’t shoot free throws very well (11-for-16 = 68.8%). By comparison, UNF shot 60.0% (9-for-15) from 3-point range. Michigan barely won the rebounding battle (36-34), but they crushed UNF in the turnover department (24-10). That’s what won the game.
Who Looked Good
Robinson was the high scorer, with 21 points. He shot 7-for-13 overall, and 4-for-7 from 3-point range. He also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He even played some good defense. It was a good game for him.
Matthews scored 20 points in his first “real” game as a Wolverine (the stats from the exhibition game don’t count). He shot OK (9-for-19 overall, 1-for-3 from 3-point range), but he missed several short, easy shots that I expect him to make as the season progresses.
The 3rd starter in double figures was Wagner, with 18 points and (a career-high) 12 rebounds, for a very nice double-double. Moe didn’t shoot particularly well (8-for-17, 0-for-3 from 3-point range), but he played hard for most of the game.
Simpson didn’t score much (3 points), but he did run the offense pretty well (9 assists), and he played some tough defense.
Who Looked Not-So-Good
MAAR didn’t do much out there. He scored 5 points on terrible shooting (1-for-5 overall, 1-for-2 from 3-point range) and grabbed 4 rebounds, but he wasn’t a factor in the win.
Jaaron Simmons played 10 minutes, and only scored 2 points on free throws.
Eli Brooks didn’t do much with his 14 minutes of playing time. He scored 2 points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Who Else Played
12 of the 16 players on the roster got to play, and all 12 of them scored.
Austin Davis only played 2 minutes, but he made the most of them with 3 points.
Isaiah Livers hit his only 3-point attempt.
Jordan Poole only played for the last 3 minutes, in “garbage time”, but made the most of it with 2 points.
Jon Teske played 7 minutes, and scored 2 points.
Ibi Watson played 9 minutes, and scored 5 points, including a 3-pointer.
Who Didn’t Play
There’s also a new player on the roster: C.J. Baird, a 6’5″, 220 pound freshman forward. He didn’t get to play either.
The Big Picture
Michigan didn’t look very good for much of the game. They’ve got a couple more overmatched opponents before the level of competition picks up. They need to fix a few things before the tough games start.
The biggest problem that Michigan has to fix is the lack of perimeter threats. The reason that last season’s team was so successful was that they could put out a lineup with 5 legitimate threats to hit 3-pointers: Derrick Walton Jr., DJ Wilson, Moe Wagner, Zak Irvin, and Duncan Robinson. That kept the defenders out of the middle, and opened it up for pick-and-roll and isolation drive plays. With Walton, Wilson, and Irvin all gone, they only have 3 players (Wagner, Robinson, and Matthews) that are threats to shoot 3-pointers. Simpson can hit the deep ball, but he’s so “pass first” right now that he passes up wide open shots. MAAR can also hit 3-pointers, but he also appears to be gun-shy about shooting. With only 3 threats, opposing defenses can pack the middle a lot more. Simpson and MAAR need to start shooting (and making) 3-pointers.
Predicted Win Total
New this season: each week I’ll update the Predicted Win Total for the regular season, based on how well UM played that week, taking into account how the remaining opponents are doing and any injuries.
This week’s Predicted Win Total is: 19
I didn’t see anything to change my guesses for “Should Win”, “Should Lose”, and “Toss Up” games.
Here’s a chart of the Predicted Win Totals for each week:
Predicted Win Total
This week Michigan plays two games, both at home. On Monday (11/13/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN), Michigan plays Central Michigan, then on Thursday (11/16/2017, 7:00 p.m., BTN Plus), Michigan plays Southern Mississippi.
These are both games that Michigan should win, but they’ll have to play better than they did vs. North Florida. CMU was 16-16 last season, with no impressive wins. They don’t have a particularly intimidating roster, although they do have quite a few juniors and seniors. SMU was 9-22 last season, with no impressive wins. They do have one 6’11” dude on their roster, and a bunch of juniors, but no seniors at all.
Come on down to Crisler Arena to see how they do, and check back next week.
The Wolverines traveled to College Park, Maryland Saturday afternoon to confront the Maryland Terrapins in a 3:30 PM football game.
The Wolverines were fresh from a soggy, but very necessary victory over the Golden Gophers in Michigan Stadium in their last outing, while the Terrapins suffered a humiliation by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 31-24 in their last outing. The Wolverines are 6-1 against the Terrapins.
MARYLAND’S QBs HAVE BEEN SUFFERING INJURIES THIS SEASON: The Terrapins have lost three QBs this year, and are now on their fourth with Ryan Beard. The Wolverines were not in as much of a bind in the quarterback department as Maryland Saturday, but the position has also been a problem this season for M.
As you know, the Wolverines lost their season starter, Wilton Speight, to injury. His understudy, John O’Korn played himself into a starting position against Purdue, and then out of the starting position two games ago. He was replaced the game before last by last Saturday’s starter, Brandon Peters. It appears Peters has cemented that role, as he started against the Terrapins. He has solidified his future somewhat against the Terps. He was solid, but not spectacular. His big chances loom in the immediate future.
While he may or may not develop into the last word in college quarterbacks, he has displayed poise and a knack for the position.
His fakes are better than his predecessors, he has decent wheels and escape ability, and can throw accurately on the run. He appears to have great poise. The question remains as to whether he is a master at tossing the long ball. He hit a beautiful thirty-three yard TD. Still, it will take more time to satisfactorily answer that question.
Time and action will tell that story. It will be only a short time before we get a positive answer. He had a nice game against the Terps. He threw for 145-yards passing, threw no interceptions, and tossed two TDs. He had a calm, workmanlike game, and took his licks without flinching. It appears he is ready for more, as the Big Ten money games of the regular season are immediate.
Peters tossed for 145-yards and two TDs, with no interceptions.
All the musical quarterback chairs didn’t belong to the Terrapins, but the depth at the position seemed definitely in the Wolverine’s favor Saturday. For three quarters of the game the Terp offense was stifled by the Wolverines’ ability to stuff the run, hurry the QB, and prevent completions.
It seemed at the end of the first half the Wolverines defense was going to pitch a shut-out, and they also owned 200-yards of offense, plus a 4-touchdown lead. It proved out that the Wolverines had scored more than enough points to win, but the third quarter took some of the polish off their win. The wheels came off the both the Wolverine’s offense and defense for much of the third quarter. The Terrapins held the ball for 11 minutes of the quarter.
MARYLAND’S THIRD QUARTER SURGE WON BATTLE OF THE STATS: Maryland produced 340-net yards rushing and the Wolverines 305-yards. The Terrapins passed for 160-yards and 1 TD and the Wolverines passed for 145 and 2 TDs. The Terps totaled 340-yards, and the Wolverines 305-yards. This can be a source of pride to the Terps, and a source of wonder and concern to the Wolverines, but it is still the final score that counts.
THE TERRAPINS HAD NOT PROSPERED AT DEFENSE LATELY, AND THE WOLVERINES HAVE: One of the Terrapins’ own writers offered that opinion regarding the state of their defense pregame.
The Wolverines, on the other hand were ranked fourth nationally in total pass defense (an unexpected pleasant surprise), and their defense had been hell against the run. Pass has pro remained a work in progress, and to some extent this was still true Saturday. In the game against the Terps in the first half, M’s defense held the Terp offensive to 112-yards.
For three quarters their dominating mode prevailed, but that inexplicable third quarter reared its ugly head to raise the sparse productivity of the Terrapin offensive and defensive efforts for three quarters to 340-yards. That total surpassed the Wolverines total for the day by 35-yards.
On the scoreboard, the Wolverines were never in real trouble during this game. Maryland never led.
THERE ARE NO SECRETS FOOTBALL WISE BETWEEN MARYLAND’S HEAD COACH DJ DURKIN AND COACH HARBAUGH: They know each other well with DJ having acted as M’s defensive coordinator in Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season.
Durkin is well acquainted with M’s schemes, preferences, and roster, or at least the better part of them. Both are dedicated competitors, with an iron will to win.
Durkin wanted a signature win, and Harbaugh could only want to avoid a signature loss. A win over the Terps was mandatory, but a win over the sometimes- struggling Maryland Terps simply could not qualify as a signature win for the Wolverines this season, however necessary it was.
The Wolverines could have added to the misery of Maryland with a late TD, but Harbaugh called off the dogs, oops, Wolverines, and they settled the game with some good last- minute sports-man ship by taking a knee rather than taking a shot. DJ and his staff are to be complimented on their good half-time adjustments against the Wolverines.
LEST WE FORGET: Kaleke Hudson, Michigan’s so-called Viper (hybrid LB and safety), bit his team’s last opponent, the Gophers, to the tune of 8 TFLs. This went with 15 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble.
This defensive tour de force earned a unique grade at of 99.9/100 from Pro Football Forum (a.k.a PFF). He was also on the PFF team of the week. 8 TFS set a new Big Ten record and tied the NCAA record. He was co-Big Ten defensive player of the week.
The above stats are the latest official rendition of Michigan statistics regarding Hudson’s performance against the Gophers. Post-game tape review showed some TFLs and tackles credited to others in error. The stats now stand corrected.
While it is not surprising that he did not match his heroics of last week, he had a very solid performance against the Terps, and contributed to the victory. His late interception sealed the win.
His best is yet to come. It looks like he will be a Viper to remember.
M’S DEFENSE STOOD TALL FOR THREE QUARTERS: They produced two game changing interceptions, a remarkable goal line stand, and produced an outstanding first half performance. David Long changed the game with his critical first half interception and 80-yard return, and otherwise contributed. Tyree Kinnel has 6 solo stops and 4 assisted, for a total of 10. Hurst had 5 solos and 4 assisted for a total of 9. He had the Wolverines’ only sack on the day. Chase Winovich had 3 TFLs, and the team had 7 TFLs. They harried the Terp QB for three quarters, and caused him to hurry and inaccurately throw the ball to M’s Long.
THE OFFENSE PROVIDED 35 POINTS WHICH MEANS THEY HAD A GOOD DAY: In the air: Zach Gentry led the receivers and TEs with three snags for 63-yards with a TD long of 33. Karan Higdon caught 2 for 40-yards, with a long of 35.
The corps of receivers were quiet for the most part, as the tight ends and backs carried the load.
On the ground: Chris Evans had an effective day with 13 carries for 80-yards and a TD. His long was for 17-yards. He carried the load in the absence of the banged-up Karan Higdon later in the game. Higdon had 10 carries for 50-yards, with a long of 16. Kareem Walker had 7 efforts for 23-yards.
HOW THEY SCORED: Only the Wolverines scored in the first quarter. Peters conducted an impressive 9-play 67-yard, 9-play TD drive on the Wolverines second possession.
The big play was a Peters 21-yard pass to TE Gentry who roared down the sideline to the Terp five. Henri Poggi finally got the ball across the goal as he bulled it in from the two. M-7, Terps-zip. This had to be a big moment for Henri. He hails from Maryland.
A Peters scramble resulted in a vintage Karan Higdon catch of a short pass. He turned it into something memorable. Evading tackles he cut to the opposite side of the field and sped for 35-yards. In addition, Maryland earned a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer. Then it was up to Chris Evans who contributed 4 runs to complete the TD drive of 5-plays for 66-yards. In a nice display of toughness and ability, Chris jumped over, and into the pile at the goal line for the much needed six. M-13, Terps-zip.
Next the Terps tried a fake punt that turned out non-productive due to recognition by M’s punt return team. Great field position is often rewarded, and this was no exception. Peters threw a beautiful pass to a sprinting and open Zach Gentry, who produced the 33-yard TD. M-21, Terps-zip.
After a review of a stunning Terp reception on a third down long pass, it was confirmed it was not a catch. This was a controversial call to Durkin and Maryland fans. This multiplied Durkin’s blood pressure elevation, while it was therapeutic to mine, and other M fans pressure.
The Wolverines got the ball back, and a little later Josh Metellus blocked a Terp punt. M’s Devin Gil covered it at the Terp 29. Karan Higdon, bulled through three tackles, toting the ball 16-yards to the 19-yard marker. A 3-yard toss to McKeon got six. Suddenly it was half time with the Wolverines leading 28-zip, and all was well with the Wolverine Nation.
Late in the first half it appeared the Terrapins were about to snap up a late half TD via their best drive of the half, which was an 11-play drive. David Long put this worry to rest by snagging a Terp pass in the end zone, and running with it 80-yards.
The Wolverines did not score because the slumping Quinn Nordin missed a 31-yard field goal. A golden opportunity for six had been lost as well as for the three.
Nordin is into a recent habit of missing FGs he should convert. This comes at a very inconvenient time for the Wolverines, as they head into their last two, and most critical games of the season. Nordin drew Harbaugh’s ire, or at least his intense commentary, after this miss.
Maryland received the ball for the second half, and their offense and defense did an about face. They were moving the chains with a change in scheme offensively, and holding the ball. But when they got to the M one yard line, and had possessed the ball for nearly 11-minutes in the quarter, the Wolverines held and relinquished only a 20-yard FG. M-28, Terps-3. The shut out had vanished, but the win still looked good.
The Terps then got a TD on a 10-yard pass to make it 28-10.
Peters faced a critical third and 12 in Michigan territory and solved the problem by hitting Chris Evans for 20-yards and a first down. This was the beginning of the end for any Terp hopes of victory, and M’s situation was aided by a pass interference call on the defense on third down.
From the 33-yard line, Chris Evans hurdled a would-be tackler, to get 14-yards. Next, he broke three tackles and completed a tough 17-yard run for the capper. The final score was M-35, Terps-10.
Kaleke Hudson’s interception slammed the gate shut.
TAKE AWAY: Crunch time has arrived. The Wolverines’ trip to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin next Saturday will be a battle of somewhat similar styles, and will likely be a bruising contest in which the Wolverines will be significant under dogs to the undefeated Badgers.
The Wolverines will need to put all together for four quarters of their best football on offense, defense, and special teams, in order to trap the undefeated Badgers in their own lair.
Those pesky rodents from Minnesota-oops-also known as the University of Minnesota’s Golden Gophers, gnawed-oops-clawed-oops-breezed into Ann Arbor to confront the elements and Wolverines to secure a football win, and take possession of the famous Little Brown Jug.
THE FIRST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TROPHY IS BACK IN ANN ARBOR: College football’s first football trophy, the venerable 30-cent, putty colored jug, has gained remarkable renown. It has been mentioned in movies, its name has been used to identify restaurants, and other-wise has shown up in print in newspapers, magazines, and other media over many years.
Lost for a while in the 1920s, a duplicate jug was purchased by the athletic department, and stood in the Wolverine’s place of honor instead of the real McCoy for a while. Recovered from a weed patch, the actual famous jug has come again into the possession of the game’s winner annually.
In 1903, the Wolverines were to battle the Gophers there. According to M records the Wolverines had won 28 straight. A good Gophers team managed a 6-6 tie against the Michigan juggernaut of that time, and they were proud of it.
The Wolverines, in their haste to return to Ann Arbor, left without their jug.
As M suspected prior to the game that Gopher “gamesmanship” might mess with the contents of their water jug, the Wolverines had obtained their own jug for safe supply.
The Gophers AD would not return the left behind jug, and challenged the Wolverines to win it back. The Gophers painted the score of the 1903 six to six tie on the jug. An enduring legend of college football was thus initiated.
WOLVERINES NOW LEAD SERIES: The Wolverines now lead the series 75-25-3, and are 72-23-2 in Little Brown Jug games. Saturday’s game was the 96th meeting for the Jug.
The Wolverines do not lose often in this scrap, but believe me, it is very painful when they do. Very painful. In 2014, they lost 14-3, in 2005, 20 to 23, and in 1986, 17 to 20.
THIS YEAR’S EDITION OF THE GOPHERS: The Golden Gophers are now 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten under first year Coach PJ Fleck. The personable Coach Fleck was Head Coach at Western Michigan University last season. The Broncos were sensational under Fleck’s tutelage, and he was beloved there.
A little polish was knocked off his image for Bronco fans, when he opted to become the Gopher leader for this season. Western had a motto: ROW THE BOAT, that he initiated while there for his successful Bronco teams. He took it to Minnesota, and it is a Gopher mantra today.
Fleck and Harbaugh have both been both college and pro football coaches.
The Gophers have several decent running backs, headed by Rodney Smith, and they favor the run. Smith had produced 1,158 yards this year before Saturday. To say Tyler Johnson is a talented receiver borders on understatement. He had 31 receptions prior to Saturday this season, and 7 TDs.
The Gophers have a robust defense. Prior to the Wolverines, they had allowed only 150 points for their eight games.
Marion Barber is a hallowed name in Gopher football. He was a great back at Minnesota and in the pros. Later John and Thomas Barber became Gophers football players, too.
At present, Tom Barber is a key to their stalwart defense, the best of which might be the Gopher linebackers. He had caused two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception and led the B1G, and the country in solo tackles before facing the Blue this year. He had 75 tackles this season, 50 of which were solo. Barber played well against the Wolverines Saturday, and the Gophers came out hitting, but to no avail. Saturday, Barber had 7 solo tackles in a losing cause, largely because the Wolverines were at their best offensively and defensively Saturday night.
At QB for the Gophers, Conor Rhoda and Denny Croft split time this season. Croft did the heavy lifting again the Wolverines Saturday, and was sacked five times. In a 34-37 win for the Spartans, Croft threw three 4th quarter TDs to Johnson to almost nail the Green Meanies. That was impressive. But he could not replicate that feat against the Wolverines’ defensive effort Saturday night.
M’s DEFENSE WAS ROCK SOLID, AND WAS LED BY VIPER KALEKE HUDSON: Hudson is credited with 11 solos tackles, and 2 assists for a total of thirteen tackles. He also had six-point five tackles for loss, and produced two sacks. He was all over the field as he played a great game, leading the rest of the defense. The defense allowed a Golden Gopher TD in the first quarter, and a field goal in the fourth quarter, and that was it. The GG’s had 128 yards of offense in the first half, and ninety-five in the second.
Freshman Aubrey Solomon started at the nose for the second time.
M’s Josh Metellus was ejected as a squall broke out in the scrum later in the game. He was ejected for allegedly fighting.
PETERS GETS HIS FIRST MICHIGAN START: Brandon Peters had a good game, in a game which featured the Michigan’s suddenly blossoming running game. Peters was 8 of 13 passing for 68-yards, with no interceptions, and a TD. His early pass completions set the stage for the running game, despite the fact he was sacked three times.
Peters was in complete control of the offense. He was poised and executed his job perfectly. Harbaugh said later that he wished that Peters could have had more passing attempts. With the long runs by Evans and Higdon, the number of snaps for the Wolverines were fewer than usual.
KARAN HIGDON MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF: Two hundred-yard games are as scarce as hen’s teeth for running backs, and Karan has produced two in a row. He is the first back since Mike Hart to have multiple 200-yard games in a season. That was in 2004. He is climbing the ladder of great Michigan running backs. His first quarter 77-yard TD streak was the Wolverines’ longest of the season, and he ran for another.
While Higdon had a fabulous game on the ground, he was not the Lone Ranger for the Blue in the running game, this game. Chis Evans piled up 191-yards and 2 TDs, with a long of 67-yards for a TD and another 60-yard TD run.
Karan averaged 12.5-yards and Chris averaged 14.7-yards a carry.
THE MUCH-MALIGNED OFFENSIVE LINE HAD A STRONG PERFORMANCE: In many of the games this year, these articles have bashed the performance of the offense line, and not without reason.
Today that is in the past, as they performed very well. For the most part, they were a well-oiled machine in the running game, even if they did give up three sacks.
With a newcomer, Cesar Ruiz, at right guard in replacement of the dinged Michael Onwneu, they supported three hundred and one yards on the ground. Post-game, Karan Higdon again mentioned the OLs effort and effectiveness. Saturday night they earned kudos. Helmet stickers for all? Maybe.
M FANS DESERVE ACCOLADES FOR BRAVING ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS TO SUPPORT THE WOLVERINES: The pregame inconveniences and weather threats for fans were numerous. There was heavy rain, with major league thunder, and lightning. Because of the rain, and vagrant electricity, M officials could not open the stadium at the expected time.
Fans were milling in the street, or huddled back in their cars or other shelters, but many were on the street enduring the elements. Loudspeakers warned them to take shelter, but convenient shelter outside of cars did not seem readily available. Fortunately, the lightning did not nail anyone.
There was conversation in the press box as to whether many of fans would show up after the all clear. We speculated that it might prove to be the end of the 100,000-attendance record.
It was speculated that maybe 75,000 would show up at most. At first the field and stands were harboring only light patches reflecting off patches of water.
The on-field water patches were squeegeed away, and soon a trickle of fans began to come down the aisles. More and more of them poured in, and soon it was a flood of fans. The roar of the over 111,000 could be heard during this later than scheduled night game. A surprising number endured the uninviting weather to the end.
All the fans who persevered deserve helmet stickers! Well done!
HOW THEY SCORED:
The Wolverines struck first early in the first quarter on a Peters TD pass to Sean McKeon. Karan Higdon had a 47-yard run in the drive. M-7, G-0
Minnesota had a 10 play, 75-yard TD drive, scoring on a ten- yard run by RB Rodney Smith, and it was 7-up.
The Wolverines responded with a lightning strike by Karan Higdon for 77-yards to complete a two-play drive, and suddenly the Wolverines led 14-7. It was as nice a run as one can ever want to see. The Wolverines answered the Gopher score with a barn burner.
In the second quarter, Karan produced 13-yards on 2 carries, while Chris Evans did the heavy lifting with an 18-yard run, and a 60-yard TD to make it 20-7. This was a four-play 91-yard drive, and it ended the scoring for the first half.
Michigan was in total control of the game. So much for red zone woes. The Wolverines accumulated 312-yards to the Golden Gophers’ 66-yards.
The Higdon/Evans show continued in the second half, with Karan rushing for 15, and Evans for 8-yards. Karan got 7 more. Peters hit a 10-yard strike which was caught by Donovan Peoples-Jones. Higdon ran for a 5-yard TD to complete a 9-play, 46-yard drive. The Wolverines now had the game totally in hand, and were dominate, at 27-7.
Chris Evans put the frosting on the cake with M’s final score. He ran 67-yards for a TD to make 33-7. His attempt at a two- point conversion failed.
The Gophers completed their scoring with a field goal to make the final 33-10.
TAKE AWAY: The Wolverines are improving in all respects, but with Maryland (away), Wisconsin (away), and the Buckeyes (home) they need to win, win, and win to make this a more memorable season.