Michigan Football vs Michigan State — Looking Back — 2016

The first installment of this year’s series looking back at the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State takes us back just one year, to 2016. Michigan entered the game undefeated, while Michigan State was literally just playing out the string. The only source of pride left for the Spartans would be their performance against Michigan, and sure enough, they played with more gusto than anyone in East Lansing had seen all season.

Michigan linebacker/safety/running back/quarterback/kick returner/punt returner Jabrill Peppers had been ferocious all season, but the Spartans tried a new strategy – they ran right at Peppers, and with the size of their massive offensive line, they took an initial toll on Peppers, and briefly took the Wolverines out of their game, as they took a 7-0 lead on a seven-minute drive to start the game. It was an ugly start for the Maize & Blue, to say the least.

However, Michigan responded with a vengeance, with quarterback Wilton Speight deftly mixing the run and the pass. Peppers concluded the drive by diving for the pylon with the ball, and the Wolverines tied the game. By this point, it was clear that neither team was about to back down.

On Michigan State’s next possession, the Spartans recaptured the momentum, seizing the line of scrimmage, until a fateful 4th down & 1 play. Suddenly, Peppers the athlete appeared, slicing through the defensive line to twist the running back down, half a yard short of the first down. Those in Maize& Blue, who clearly possessed the more talented roster, breathed a sigh of relief. Now, Michigan had the ball, with a chance to seize the momentum and the tempo of the game. With Peppers playing quarterback, the Wolverines ran a reverse that sprung freshman wide receiver Eddie McDoom deep into the Michigan State secondary. On the next play, Michigan lined up in a 2016 version of the I formation, known as “The Train.” Once the ball was snapped, Speight connected with tight end Jake Butt, who came down just shy of the goal line at the Michigan State 2-yard line. One play later, running back DeVeon Smith scored on a sweep to give the Wolverines the lead. Suddenly, the Wolverines were playing on their balls of their feet, taking the game to the Spartans. By halftime, Michigan had taken a 27-10 lead, giving Michigan all the momentum heading into the second half.
Still, with a chance to put the game away, Speight threw an interception on a wheel route, and Michigan State was threatening once again.

Fortunately for the Wolverines, their defense was now coached by Don Brown, who is being recognized more often as one of the great defensive coaches in history. With Brown’s defense relentlessly attacking, the Wolverines held on for a 32-23 victory, extending their record to 8-0, while the Spartans fell to 2-6.

For Peppers, it was his last game in the rivalry, as he left after the season to turn pro. The Wolverines finished the season 10-3, ending the year with a controversial loss to Ohio State in Columbus, and a bowl game loss to Florida State, which Michigan played without Peppers. Fortunately for the Wolverines, middle linebacker Devin Bush and Viper Khaleke Hudson have more than made up for his departure.

Thanks to ESPN and YouTube poster OneHourFootball. As always, we own nothing and the blog and video are purely for the enjoyment of readers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZYAaZgUu2g

Peppers Return to Michigan Could Mean a Strive for Greatness

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Its still unknown as to whether Michigans’ all-around player Jabrill Peppers will return for one more season. But if he wants to be the best, he will have to do what is necessary.

Over the course of the season, Peppers has managed to play 933 snaps at 15 different positions. Yes, I said 15. That is a ridiculous amount, but yet it’s really not surprising to me anymore. There is a reason as to why he won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player. He left everything on the field. on every play, and damn near was always making some kind of impact whether it was on offense, defense or even special teams. That is exactly what the team needed from him and he did it without question.

“Jabrill Peppers is a throwback to the time I played,” Hornung said in a statement. “He’s fearless on the field and uses his tremendous athletic skills and determination to play any position to help Michigan win football games. Jabrill is a fantastic addition to our list of Paul Hornung Award winners.”

Nothing is certain as to what Peppers may do. But I keep reiterating it to everyone, just like the recruiting season has been thus far, don’t be surprised. After attending the Heisman Trophy Ceremony earlier this month, Peppers might have dropped a slight clue on what we can possibly expect to hear in the near future.

So what the hell does it that mean if Peppers decides to return? It means that there could be a forced to be reckoned with in 2017.

Improve his football knowledge 

Its no secret that Peppers knows how to play defense. However, over the course of the season he was playing predominantly more at the line of scrimmage as a hybrid linebacker/safety and not so much at the safety for what he is being scouted for in the NFL. Scouts absolutely love seeing him make plays like these and attacking the ball and so do we, but they want to see him improve his pass coverage. I’m not a  defensive coordinator, but with Dymonte Thomas leaving and a possible return of Peppers, it could open a chance with him moving to strong safety next season where he could make a huge difference. Coming back to improve his skill set wouldnt be the worse idea.

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Draft stock is falling

As the regular season came to a finish, the big plays started to slow down and the hot pepper started to cool off and so did his rising stock for the NFL draft. Not because he wasn’t filling the stat lines but simply because the games got tougher and it got harder to make plays every time he was at a different position. No one isnt a bigger critic than Peppers is of himself and he knows that he didn’t finish as strong as he probably could have. There’s a chance to change that and solidify a primarily role on defense.

Unfinished business

Peppers had made it known to everyone that he plans to graduate and win a national title. At least those were his goals when he decided to come to Michigan and they’re certainly not far fetched from happening. Though Michigan is losing a ton of talent on both sides of the ball, due to graduates and departures to the NFL, they have depth and their returning some core players. That’s not even mentioning the noise their making on the recruiting scene. the  It might be too early to tell, but team 138 just might be that team to do it all and win a national title. Peppers has two more years of eligibility left and should be able to graduate next year. Yes, many players have gone pro and then decided to finish out their degree. But he’s a type person that wants to do everything the right way the first time and I can imagine him getting it done.

So much can happen in such a little time. But there is a decision to be made and is expected to be made very soon. Hopefully, we get another chance to see him not make a tackle for a loss or even a punt return for a touchdown. Hell, even see him get down like James Brown.

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On Thursday while practicing a drill on special teams, Peppers was hobbled and walking around with a hamstring pull. Despite the injury, he still participated in the pre-game warm ups and tried to give it a go and attempt to manage the pain. But it was just too much to handle.

After a 1-point lost to the Seminoles, we seen a emotional Peppers that we haven’t seen before.

“It was a joint decision,” he said. “The trainers watched me warm up. I knew I wasn’t myself, I knew I wasn’t going to be myself. If the game was Saturday, I play in this game 100%. I felt as though I just needed that extra day. When you tweak something like a hamstring the day before the game, it”s kind of tough to recover from.”

After missing the game, many had assumed that he was just sitting out just to protect his draft stock, but the tears running down his face said otherwise. Peppers said he that he taken an insurance policy after his  freshman year was cut short.

“I couldn’t care less about what people think why I didn’t play. The fact that I couldn’t be out there with my brothers, I think that hurt more than the loss. … My future didn’t play any role in this.”

Peppers added that he didn’t finish the year like he wanted or even had envisioned.

“Got some decisions to make, still feel like I didn’t do what I set out to do, as an individual and as a team,” he said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, didn’t make the Rose Bowl. And to come here and lose the Orange Bowl just sucked. Because we worked too hard for it.”

It’s hard to imagine Peppers walking away after seeing him like this. If he does though, the type of emotion that he brings to the locker room and on the field will be greatly missed.

 

Hail!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peppers is ready for the NFL, but will he go?

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Jabrill Peppers is without question ready to start collecting checks on Sunday. In most mocks drafts, he is projected to be a top 10 pick at the safety position in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. However, don’t be surprised if he decides not to declare after this season.

After having nagging injuries and being limited to playing only 2 ½ games his freshman year, Peppers was redshirted and sat out the remainder of the 2014 season.  The sophomore technically still has two more years of eligibility left to play at Michigan. The big question is, will Peppers forgo his two years and declare for the draft or will he return to the Wolverines?

After displaying his versatility all year playing multiple positions, it seems like a no brainer that he is for sure going to the NFL. Even the Big Ten took notice of some of his accomplishments as he took home some hardware as he was awarded the Nagurski-Woodson defensive player of the year, the Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the year and the Butkus-Fitzgerald linebacker of the year award. That makes him the first player to win three individual awards in the same season since the awards program expanded in 2011. He would finish the regular season on offense with 3 rushing touchdowns, 751 total yards and 1 punt return for a touchdown. On defense, he recorded 71 total tackles, 48 solo, 15 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 FF and 1 interception that would be his first of his career. That interception would come in the 3rd quarter against Ohio State.

We all knew that losing to Iowa had a slight possibility to end up hurting us at the end of the season. But we also knew that if we had beaten Ohio State it was almost certain that we would clinch a playoff berth. After losing to the Buckeyes 30-27 in double-OT, there was still hope. We had to rely too much on the what ifs and had to cheer for the underdogs in Colorado and Virginia Tech. Peppers was very quick to react after it was officially announce that the Wolverines were on the outside looking in.

While acknowledging their loss and failures he also threw some love back to PSU for getting the job that they couldn’t do. Beat Ohio St. and win the Big Ten Championship.

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Like majority of his life, it looks like Peppers has turned to his mother once more for some guidance.  Earlier this week, per Darren Heitner who is a sports attorney tweeted that Peppers’ mother, Ivory Bryant had delivered a forty-one-question document to all prospective NFL agents.

Now this doesn’t necessarily say that it’s a sure thing that we will make the jump. The way I look at it, is that his mother wants the very best for his future and wants to help explore the options and eliminate any difficulty that her son might be having in front of him. So! Will Jabrill Peppers return to Michigan for one more year? I think so. Should he? Yes. Those answers are not just me being a biased fan and no I do not have any high-end sources telling me this. It’s just what I truly believe.

At the age of 7, Jabrills’ father Terry, the same person that introduced him to the game, was arrested on a weapons charge.

“My father was arrested when I was seven years old. In that split second when he was taken away, I went from having a father who I could work out with and who was on the sideline for all my football games, to being a kid searching for a male role model in his life. And I didn’t know how long he was going to be gone.”

He said in an entry he posted on The Players’ Tribune titled The Game. It’s a must read.

Without a father figure, he had turned to his older brother, Don.

“Don was the guy I looked up to. And even though he was out in the streets like most of the other guys in our neighborhood, doing things he wasn’t supposed to be doing, he would never let me get involved. He kept me on the right path from a young age. And he was one of the first people who told me I had the potential to be something great — that I needed to chase my football dream. “You have a God-given gift,” he’d say. It would be disrespectful to God to not make the most of that gift.”

Like a lot of kids in urban neighborhoods, we dreamed a lot about the future, of better times. Many kids were so caught up in the street life that they couldn’t dream past the city limits. But Don and I talked differently, mostly because of my potential on the football field. That was going to be my way out — our way out.”

In January of 2010, for the second time in Jabrills’ life another father figure was taken from him too soon, when Don was shot and killed. Bryant was left alone to raise her son despite working long hours as a social worker to support her son. Just before his senior year of high school his father Terry was released from prison after serving nearly 11 years.

“We was just trying to get to know each other again,” Peppers said. “A lot of time had passed. Ten and a half years, almost 11 years. At the end of the day, man, that’s my pops. We’re still working on our relationship. It’s going to get better. We’ve still got to make up for that 10 and a half years, but we’re gonna be all right.”

After losing his brother, Peppers never had a type of “brother hood” like he did Don until he came to Michigan. Not just the family and brothers he goes to war with every Saturday but his brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. During the 78-0 rout of Rutgers, Peppers returned a punt for a touchdown that would eventually get called back. After Peppers ran into the end zone he would put up his arms as some may know as “throwing the hooks”.

For those who don’t know, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity (OPPF) is the first international fraternal organization founded at a historically black college. The fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C on Nov. 23, 1911. Before joining the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity last spring, Peppers wasn’t recruited. He actually reached out to fraternity.

“He sought us out,” says Terence Browner, a Michigan senior and member of the fraternity. “The more he learned about it, the more he felt the connection, the vibe. I could sense the excitement oozing off of him. He wanted to be a part of something.”

He wanted to surround himself with people who reflect him and who he wants to be. Peppers found others that are like him that enjoy community service and giving back. While only being engaged with the fraternity for such a short time, Peppers’ and a few of his friends went across town to Community High School in Ann Arbor and spoke to about 200 students about habits, time management and the transition from high school to college.

“He literally had an individual conversation with every single person who approached him,” says Brandon Jackson, a friend of Peppers who teaches world history at the high school. “I mean, we’re talking about 200 people. He asked every one of them something about themselves and answered more questions if they had them.

“Every kid that day walked away feeling good about themselves, feeling uplifted.”

Not only is Jabrill Peppers the most versatile player in the nation on the field but his play is very similar off the field. Playing for Michigan has been his dream since he was a little kid. So why stop now? Why not one more year? Just imagine the impact that he could do in that time. Not only for UofM but the state of Michigan itself. His talent level is ready for the NFL and his maturity is way above a lot of players at his age. There is a few wrinkles that I had noticed in the last three games that certainly can be fixed at the college level.

Whether he decides to go now or next year his mother is definitely getting the home that she deserves for raising such a humble and gifted young man. If push comes to shove and he decides to go he might want to start shopping around for a bigger trophy case as earlier today he was announced  as one of the top 5  finalist for the Heisman Trophy. His reaction says it all.

Hopefully Peppers recalls what he wrote and rethinks the order of his goals.

“I’m on a mission. And that mission won’t be complete until … I don’t even know when. I guess I have a lot of missions. It’s always changing. That’s how you continue to grow and get better. You set goals that seem impossible, and when you reach them, you set more impossible goals and do whatever humanly possible to reach those, too. I want to win a national championship at Michigan. I want to graduate. I want to go to the NFL and have a long, successful career.”

Make sure you write it down on your calendars as Michigan vs. Florida State in Orange Bowl on Friday, December 30th at 8:00pm as we just may witness Peppers play his very last game.

“Those who stay will be champions”

Hail.. Go Blue!

M FOOTBALL 2016-M DUMPS INDIANA IN SLOBBERKNOCKER 20 TO 10

2016-indiana-07The Hoosier’s rushed into Michigan Stadium with their expectations of victory soaring due to the formerly undefeated Wolverine’s one point miscue in Iowa City Saturday.

Before their tenth game stumble, the Wolverines had impressively forged nine consecutive wins, and held a Big Ten tally of six wins, no losses.  They retained their national three ranking after that loss.

Saturday’s win over Indiana was a hard fought battle which was styled a “slobberknocker” by Coach Harbaugh afterwards.

This season the amount of attention centered on the team and Coach Harbaugh has been extraordinary. Some of it was sour grapes, but most of it was laudatory, both for the Wolverine’s, their high profile Coach, and for rising QB Wilton Speight.

Before Iowa, Wilton Speight led the Big Ten passers, but was disabled by a shoulder injury in that game.

Back up John O’Korn was not a spectacular passer in his first start as M’s QB Saturday. He produced only 59-yards passing on seven of fifteen passing as the offense relied heavily on the running game.  How much of that was a result of the absolutely miserable weather conditions during this game, Harbaugh’s close to the vest play calling, or John’s abilities is impossible to divine.

The blustery winds even affected the goal posts as they sometimes trembled at their tops.  Sleet and snow, light but persistent at times, became heavier at the end of the game when the field was blanketed in a thin cover of snow.  The worst nature can offer, no.  Was it bad enough to affect the comfort of the fans, and play on the field, hell yes.

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