Saturday, December 28, 2013

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Final Thoughts

I have completed in-depth previews of each of the position comparisons over the past couple weeks, and they're more exhaustive than anything else I've read in the blogosphere. I had hoped to do some play breakdowns, but the holidays and traveling got in the way. Here are the links to each section:

Running backs
Wide receivers and tight ends
Offensive line
Defensive line
Defensive backs
Special teams

The most significant injury news (and a change from the above preview) is that Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will miss the bowl game with a broken foot, which he suffered in the Ohio State game. His replacement will be true freshman Shane Morris, who is 5/9 for 65 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception in very limited time this year. Obviously, this will be his first start. Morris came out of high school with a big arm, but he's not the most polished quarterback to come out of high school. He tends to stare down his receivers, and his accuracy has been questioned. In high school - even in 7-on-7 tournaments - the lefty seemed to throw almost exclusively to his left. I would expect Kansas State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes to blitz Morris endlessly, considering he's just a pup and, oh by the way, Michigan's offensive line has struggled mightily this year. That's a bad combination if you're a Wolverines fan.

In other injury news, Kansas State will get perhaps their best player back in the form of safety Ty Zimmerman. He was listed as questionable for the bowl game after missing the final two regular season games.

  • Kansas State has no players from the state of Michigan.
  • Linebackers coach Mike Cox is named Mike Cox(!). Also, he spent four years as Michigan State's linebackers coach (2003-2006).
  • Head coach Bill Snyder's son is special teams coach and associate head coach Sean Snyder. Sean Snyder's son (and thus Bill's grandson) is redshirt junior walk-on linebacker Tate Snyder. Tate doesn't play much, but it's still pretty cool to have three generations of Snyders on one team.
Michigan and Kansas State have never faced each other in football.

  • Kansas State blitzes Shane Morris non-stop to end up with 4 sacks. It would be more, but Morris gets antsy and chucks the ball in the air to be intercepted 3 times.
  • Michigan's competency in the running game continues to improve after the bowl practices and against a mediocre group of interior defenders for the Wildcats. The running backs combine for 28 carries, 160 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
  • The Wolverines' defense starts to wear out in the fourth quarter, allowing KSU quarterback Daniel Sams to power the ball down the field.
  • I would have predicted a Michigan win with Gardner playing, but . . . 
  • Kansas State 24, Michigan 17


  1. I'm looking forward to the Schofield-Mueller match-up, which seems like a middle-class version of the last year's Lewan-Clowney fight.

  2. There has been some fluff about how the offensive line has "clicked" in bowl practices. I have a question for Thunder. Would you reverse the score 24-17 in Michigan's favor if (Big if I know) they CAN dominate the line of scrimmage a little more giving us a few more running yards and one less interception???? Oh please can I have one more Christmas gift!!!!!

    1. I mean, if we're talking DOMINATION of the line of scrimmage, then sure, I guess Michigan has a better chance. If we're talking about going from 160 to 175 yards, then probably not. If Michigan wants to win this game, they have to be like the Michigan lines of old and blow KSU off the line of scrimmage. While I've seen improvements, I just don't expect that kind of domination. I do think Michigan can get away with 2 turnovers, because KSU's quarterbacks aren't great and Michigan has a solid defense.

  3. One correction. Shane Morris is 5/9

    1. Good catch. He was 4/6 in the CMU game, and 1/3 since.

  4. ARGH! I really think a win is important here -- for the momentum as well as recruiting. Of course some people would disagree with me and have called me a Drew Sharp for saying such a thing, but man, I don't want to go into NSD with a loss. I really hope Morris comes with a fire and moves the chains without making erratic decisions. Hopely he can live up to the hype.

  5. I wouldn't worry too much about the effect of a loss here. For many, this is an off-the-radar game.

    Would I prefer 8-5 to 7-6? Of course. I'd be surprised, though, if any of the '14 commits are poised to decommit if Michigan loses *this* game.

    Long-term ('15 class and beyond)? Sure, I could see some people being swayed by a near-.500 record.

    1. Yeah. I know it's not the end of the world. But it sure as hell doesn't help our cause.

      I'm also sure as hell our chances would've been better with elite prospects like D. Hand and George Campbell if we were in the national championship game instead of a Buffalo Wild Wings bowl. So there's that.

  6. Unfortunately, our rushing game was as bad as it's been all year. Our running backs had 7 carries for 14 yards. K-State didn't have to blitz-they got plenty of pressure with a normal rush. Our defense was just plain bad from start to finish-they looked worn down from the very first series. Gardner playing would not have helped. Morris was not great, but he was decent. Gardner would not have been worth another 17 points.

    K-state didn't even have to do anything fancy or tricky to kick the shit out of us. Just well-designed, well-executed plays on offense, and well-coached players who were always in position on defense. I'd wager that we had a higher rated recruit than they did at virtually every position on the field, but they outplayed us at pretty much every position on the field. The game left me with no optimism at all about what this coaching staff will be able to do next year. That they put on such a lame effort after weeks of preparation just for this game pretty much says it all.

    1. Heads should roll to give these chubby fellas an idea that being suck isn't an option here. Win or get the $#@! out.