Sunday, November 5, 2023

Michigan 41, Purdue 13


Blake Corum (image via The Score)

I was a little nervous. Something was gnawing at my brain going into this game, and that was whether Michigan would look sloppy against the Boilermakers in the midst of Sign-gate. I was never nervous about the outcome of the game, but just about whether it would be a tight contest. Maybe something like a 14-10 contest at halftime. Or 17-13 in the third quarter before pulling away. The distraction of Sign-gate combined with the rustiness of coming off a bye week concerned me. So I was glad to see Michigan jump out to a 17-0 lead almost immediately. But the second quarter was boring for Michigan. Michigan was outgained by Purdue, as well as outscored 6-3, sending it to halftime at 20-6.

Hit the jump for more.

I think Jim Harbaugh got emotional. When Michigan decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 in its own territory late in the second quarter, I felt like that was a completely emotional decision on Harbaugh's part. Yes, Michigan is very good on short yardage, and the Wolverines should be able to get one yard against Purdue pretty much whenever they want. But 95% of the time, Harbaugh would choose to punt the ball in that situation. I didn't like the decision prior to the call, and obviously it didn't work out in Michigan's favor. That gave Purdue a short field, which they turned into a field goal. Ultimately, that put Purdue at 6 points and they added a garbage-time touchdown to get to 13 by the end of the game, the most points Michigan has given up this season. That's not a big deal, but it sure would have been nice to hold the Boilermakers to 3 or 10 points, just like everyone else this season.

The running game isn't clicking. The offensive line has taken a step back in the run game this season. There aren't wide open holes like there have been in the past year or two. So far it obviously hasn't hurt Michigan's ability to score, but the numbers aren't there on the ground. Blake Corum (15 carries, 44 yards, 3 TD) had a subpar game, but Purdue head coach Ryan Walters came up with a good game plan to slow down Michigan last year when he was the defensive coordinator at Illinois, too. Donovan Edwards (8 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD) didn't do anything noteworthy in the run game for a ninth straight game, and Kalel Mullings (4 carries, 20 yards) didn't see a ton of snaps. He missed the past couple games, and it appears that was because of a hand injury that saw him wearing a cast on his left hand. Mullings did have the longest run of the night for a running back when he broke a tackle, bounced to the right, and gained 14 yards. The other two biggest gains came from wide receiver Semaj Morgan on a jet sweep for a 44-yard touchdown and wide receiver Cornelius Johnson going 14 yards on an end around. Blake Corum leads the nation with 16 touchdowns, but all 16 have come from inside the 5-yard line; he also has the lowest rushing output (649 yards) of anyone in the top 13 touchdown scorers in the country.

Obligatory Donovan Edwards section. As mentioned above, Edwards had another poor output on the ground, but he did catch 3 balls for 41 yards, including a beautiful 37-yard catch on a fade from J.J. McCarthy. Early in the first quarter, Michigan motioned Edwards out wide and he was reluctantly followed by 6'2", 235 lb. freshman linebacker Domanick Moon. So that was easy pickings on the fade route, and that represents the bind that Edwards puts defenses in. I just wish Michigan could get him going in the run game. Out of 38 qualifying players in the Big Ten, he ranks #31 in yards per carry (3.14), and everyone ranked lower than him is a quarterback.

J.J. McCarthy appreciation. The running game may not be performing up to par, but McCarthy did not play particularly well, either . . . to the tune of 24/37 for 335 yards, which is 9.1 yards per attempt. It's pretty impressive to me that 24/37 for 335 feels like an off game, but McCarthy had lots of manageable throws that were just a little behind or high for his receivers to reel in. I felt like his timing was a little bit disjointed, perhaps because of having the bye week. Tight end A.J. Barner had 8 catches for 99 yards and 1 touchdown against Michigan State in their previous contest, and he was held without a catch in this one. There were other throws that were just off the mark with Roman Wilson (9 catches, 143 yards), Cornelius Johnson (2 catches, 39 yards), and Colston Loveland (4 catches, 55 yards). Purdue occasionally had good coverage, but for the most part, it seemed like the incompletions were unforced errors. This isn't to diminish McCarthy, but it shows how good he's been that those numbers can be slightly disappointing.

Braiden McGregor appreciation. McGregor made 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and a couple quarterback hurries. He seems to be a half-step away from making a lot of great plays, and he's making some really good ones. Before the season I thought he would be the next guy to make a step as a pass rusher, but he's not quite there. Instead, it has been Jaylen Harrell and Josaiah Stewart making plays on the quarterback, but McGregor has been doing a nice job as a versatile run stopper and pass rusher. I think he probably needs to stick around one more year, as this is the first season where he seems fully back up to speed following his knee injury a few years ago.

Will Johnson is a monster. Johnson missed the first portion of the season with an injury, and when he first came back, he seemed a little tentative and a half-step slower than usual. Even when he ran back the pick-six against Minnesota, there seemed to be a little hitch in his giddyup. But now he looks to be healthy, and wow, he's just different than most cornerbacks. He covers like a corner and tackles like a strong safety. He made 2 tackles, 2 pass breakups, and 1 interception that he returned 26 yards. Michigan has done a good job of developing cornerbacks in recent years, but Johnson is a different animal.

What's happening next? Uhhhh . . . I dunno. There are lots of rumors floating around about what's going to happen with Harbaugh. I've seen lots of smoke that the Big Ten is going to suspend Jim Harbaugh in the next couple days, and then there's also the idea that Michigan will file for an injunction to keep Harbaugh on the field. The rest of the Big Ten wants commissioner Tony Petitti to take action now, and Michigan basically says there's nothing connecting Harbaugh to Connor Stalions at the moment. (Stalions resigned on Friday.) If Harbaugh is removed from the sideline, that could mean offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is elevated to head coach, and that's too much to handle for one guy. Could that mean quarterbacks coach Kirk Campbell takes more of a role in calling offensive plays? There are a lot of things up in the air right now for this 9-0 football team. Personally, I don't have any control over what happens with the Michigan football program, so I'm trying to just enjoy what's happening on the field.


  1. I was so not nervous that I found the prospect of NOT making the 4th down call kind of interesting. "Would be a good test for the D" I thought - in a game that offered almost none of them otherwise. I liked everything about the 4th down call, except for the actual playcall.

    The playcall had Darius Clemons at tight end with a run to his side, and he blew the block badly against a big DE. This was as inexplicable as it was predictable. I don't put that on Mullings really, but Mullings has faltered on more than his fair share of short yardage carries it seems. I don't get it.

    I'm still not worried about the run game - felt like we could have gotten more on sweeps if we wanted to. If they are going to let JJ carve them up then, well, JJ will carve them up. Even if he was a little bit off, by his standards, and the receivers chipped in some catchable drops as well.

    McGregor is having a very good year but he could be in a for a big test next week. "half-step away from making a lot of great plays" against bad competition sometimes is promising and sometimes it's problematic. Will be good to see him against good competition.

    "Walters came up with a good game plan to slow down Michigan last year when he was the defensive coordinator at Illinois, too" <-- Indeed. But this year his secondary doesn't have the jimmys or the joes.

    Purdue was outgunned but I thought their D was big, physical, and determined, even when it was clear they were going to lose they didn't seem to let up. Walters is a promising coach and like others in the Big Ten West in year 1, there is some room for those fanbases to be optimistic.

    "I don't have any control over what happens with the Michigan football program, so I'm trying to just enjoy what's happening on the field." <--- ENDORSED

    Looking ahead to OSU -- Waller was in early but got beat. McBurrows was also in I think. Sabb barely played and might be dropping in the pecking order. Sainristil got beat again at outside corner, which seems to not be his best position. Walker whiffed badly on a tackle and isn't ready. Fortunately Rod Moore seems to be finally coming around and having some presence.

    Maryland sucks but at least we'll get to see our secondary challenged downfield - probably.

    1. I don't think Sabb is dropping in the pecking order. I think he's just not a starter. Michigan seemed to play its starters more extensively on Saturday than they have in previous weeks.

    2. At safety I agree with you. Moore/Paige got a heavier share of snaps than recently. Moore getting healthy might be a factor there as well as trying to tune up for PSU/OSU.

      Will Johnson saw a full load too. Josh Wallace not so much. The story at CB, IMO, is that they are continuing to experiment. Waller was in pretty early. I'm not sure when his first snap was but he got burned on Purdue's one legit drive for a long pass - that was early in the 2nd Q. Perhaps that's why Waller only got 7 snaps total but I believe he was the first backup CB in. Walker also got some 1st half snaps IIRC. But the big story is that Harris was not in the rotation at all. Maybe he is hurt. Regardless, the bulk of the backup CB snaps went to Sainristil.

      McBurrows was prominent in this one at nickel. That's new. McBurrows got more snaps than either QJo or Sabb for I think the first time this year. Both of those guys have seen some time at nickel as well. So it looks like McBurrows at nickel with Sainristil at Corner might be a thing. I find it concerning if it is.

      First DB rotating in against OSU at this point is still unclear to me. I had assumed it was Sabb. It might be McBurrows, or Waller, or QJo, or...

      PURDUE DB SNAP COUNTS (out of 60)

      Mike Sainristil – 52
      Will Johnson – 50
      Rod Moore – 40
      Makari Paige – 39
      Josh Wallace – 31
      Ja’Den McBurrows – 26
      Quinten Johnson – 21
      Keon Sabb – 20
      Amorion Walker – 10
      DJ Waller – 7
      German Green – 4

  2. I really don't know how to feel about the run game. I agree that it felt like we could have run ~5 more end arounds and those would have gone for 10-20+ each time. I'm not sure if it's good that we have to resort to those though. Idk, maybe it's just really difficult to have a fully operational pass and run game against P5 opponents. I won't lie that seeing 250+ rushing yards against PSU would ease my concerns.

    1. I'm not expecting 250+ rushing yards against PSU, but that would ease my concerns, too. I do think Michigan was a little vanilla with the run game on Saturday, because they weren't trying to get outside with Corum/Edwards and they weren't running McCarthy at all. So obviously there's more in the bag. But they should be crushing some of these teams on the ground, and they're not. With 75% of the season under the bridge, it seems like the run game should have looked dominant in at least one of these weeks.

    2. 2022 PSU game was an outlier -- I would be shocked if Michigan ran 55 times on Saturday. I would be assured if Michigan could just match the 2021 rush O performance against PSU. That's a more reasonable bar of success and you know how good that rush O was.

      I don't know that they're going to hand it to Blake 30 times on saturday
      ...but I would not be surprised if they did!

      PSU and OSU games are why we've been managing Blake's workload all year.

  3. I'm having trouble understanding why the running game is clicking.

    Let's start with one of the easy parts. There are *three* returning starters on the O-line, including two that -- I believe -- were the best pro prospects _last_ year. I'm referring to Zinter and Keegan. Barnhart is the other returner. Have any of those guys regressed? Any of them hurt?

    Replace Hayes (a practice-squad NFL player) and Oluwatimi (5th-round pick who made the active roster and has played) with LaDarius Henderson and Drake Nugent. Both of those guys were multi-year starters in a Power Five conference (please hold Pac 12 jokes). Henderson got NFL attention. Nugent doesn't exactly seem like a bum.

    Here's another easy part. Both RBs return. See the questions on the returning offensive linemen. Regression / injury?

    One last easy part: Max Bredeson returns and appears to have improved.

    A. J. Barner effectively replaces Schoonmaker, at least as far as blocking is concerned. He seems to be doing fine. Loveland (often more of a WR) is probably a better blocker this year.

    Trente Jones seems like the most common extra OL, replacing Joel Honigford. I don't see any obvious problem there.


    I don't see any obvious personnel issues. What are the thoughts of others?

    1. I have to believe that losing Weiss is playing a factor. Our passing game was improved exponentially with Campbell but it has come with a slight decline in running game efficiency.

    2. Been noodling on this too and I don't think there are necessarily easy answers.

      My top candidates are:
      1. less continuity
      2. different play selection
      3. nothing to see here

      Personnel does not make the cut for me. I'll explain why.

      I think Nugent/Henderson are probably not quite as good as Olu/Hayes but that should be offset by an extra year of development from Zinter/Keegan/Barnhart. Talent-wise I'd call it neutral between 2022 and 2023 OLs. I don't say that lightly because I think Olu was our best player last year. Ditto for change at TE - Schoonmacher was a very good vet but add a year to Loveland and Barner transferring in - seems like we're better if anything. Maybe the most impactful change is Ronnie Bell being gone.

      RB - nope. Personnel is better, not worse. Blake and Donvan are back a year older and stronger than ever. AND -- They've BOTH been healthy the entire year. Last year Donovan missed 3 full games and most of 2 others. Blake missed (essentially) 3.5. So far (knock on wood) they've missed zero. AND on top of that - Kaleel Mullings moved over to RB full time and looks solid. We have the best RB room in America.

      I think the most likely cause is a lack continuity. Weiss of course but also personnel is a lot of fresh faces. Yes Olu was a transfer in 2022 but he was fully with the team by January and playing in the spring game. Nugent (and JJ and Blake and others) were hurt in the spring. Henderson wasn't even with the team yet. He was still behind Hinton to start the year so that's clearly a late start for our LT. Barnhart has been moving all around as well while we sorted out the OT starting situation. Barner makes portal starter #3.

      Top that with no real competition in the schedule and open experimentation in playcalls into big ten play and I think that things are STILL not quite settled, even after 9 games. Not as settled as last year, even though we missed a few guys here or there for games it was mostly plug and play with Barnhart in for Jones being the biggest change. This years changes have been more impactful.

      Weiss shipped off and Campbell moved in. Cade moved on and JJ stopped being a teenager and was trusted by Sherrone, Jim, and Campbell. The playcalling has definitely changed from run as often as you can in 2021 and 2022 to a pass first focus in 2023.

      I think the team has focused on developing the passing game to unleash JJ, Roman, Colston, Donovan, etc. They got all these skill position guys back and it would be a shame to just waste them. But the biggest change is JJ being trusted - that relationship with Campbell, those battles fought in 2022. They trust JJ in a way they didn't through most of the regular season.

      That JJ-emphasis has probably come at the expense of focusing on the run game (already a strength in 2021 that carried over - continuity again - to 2022). They're working on developing new things and not leaning on plowing over people. They're like a pitcher working on his breaking ball who may have lost something off his fastball at that same time that he's striking more people out.

      But that's touchy feely - the PLAY SELECTION change may be relevant beyond just passing more often. It maybe not just be run pass mix but also WHEN Michigan calls runs (and when they don't.)

      I wonder if Michigan is simply not running as often on plays that are conducive to those explosive long run plays (3rd and long, 2nd and long, 1st and 10, etc.). This is when the big long run plays tend to come and last year Donovan Edwards had 89 carries with 6+ yards to go. This year he is down to 60. Part of that is he's back to being a backup getting 8 or 9 carries a game like last year before OSU, but it goes for our starter too. Blake Corum had 156 carries last year with 6+ yards to go and he is down to 80 carries this year too. That's nearly half as many. Michigan is simply not attempting to run on long yardage as often as they did last year.*

      We know why - JJ is too good.


      Of course JJ being "too good" doesn't harm the rushing attack at all. If anything it would help. So, lastly, the answer that nobody likes, is that there is no meaningful change at all. We just simply don't have as many explosive plays because we just don't. Explosive plays are random and last year we had more than our fare share and this year we have less than our fare share and that's just life sometimes. Some weddings get rained on and some don't.

      YPC is down but our rushing success rate has barely moved (from 48% to 45%) and the degree to which it has is easily explained by early season experimentation (in play calls and in personnel).

      Blake Corum going from 5.9 ypc to 5.2 ypc might just be noise. The team as a whole going from 5.6 to 4.6 ypc might just be situational differences. in when they choose to run and what plays they choose to run. Maybe the running attack is just as good as ever. Maybe what we are seeing is just standard game to game variance playing out in a statistically insignificant way. [Ducks brick. At least I said MAYBE.]

      *Yes - this is in a different number of games for the team (9 vs 14), but remember that injuries to each of the top two RBs last year narrow that gap somewhat.

    5. Summary:

      It's nothing to worry about. Some of it is just noise (not real), some of it is (real but minor) regression due to turnover on the OL/TE/OC and some shuffling and experimenting in the early year. Fewer explosive runs, mostly due to just letting JJ cook instead attempting to run on passing downs is making the run game look less impressive statistically. But it's all still there and all still very good.

      Our bag is just bigger thanks to JJ.

    6. 4 lengthy posts, but nothing to see here ... not even YOU agree with you 🙄

    7. I only know one person who read every last word. JEverytime. Everyone wants to talk football but Post Count Malone wants to talk about Lank. The rent here, it is free.

    8. I think the loss of Weiss is significant. I said it when he was hired, and I said it during/after his first season. The components of the run game that he brought from the Ravens - despite not having an elite runner at QB like Lamar Jackson - made a huge change in Michigan's ability to run the ball effectively.

      Kirk Campbell brings a different set of talents. He's more of an Air Raid guy. I think he has been important for the development of J.J. McCarthy and the pass game, but the tradeoff is that the run game has suffered a little bit. Michigan didn't have this many open receivers under Weiss, and McCarthy wasn't as accurate/consistent, either.

      Michigan is scoring 40.7 points per game this year, compared to 40.4 last year. The offense hasn't taken much of a step back, if any, overall. It's just the yards/points are coming in a different fashion.

    9. Yeah that's a good point on Weiss. I buy him being a big factor in the run game and (assuming he coaches again) it'll be interesting to see if he moves the run game needle wherever he lands next.

      That said it seems like the offense is better this year by a significant margin.* Most of the fancy stats point to a top 5 offense this year, compared to top 15 offense a year ago. EPA play is up from #13 to #3 nationally. FEI offense ranks up from #10 to #2.

      *Major caveat that we haven't played anybody yet. Best defense we've seen is probably Rutgers. Last year we had to play Iowa, Illinois, PSU, OSU. Furthermore the offense has been completely healthy this year while last year we missed games from OTs, RBs, TE, etc.

      We'll know a lot more Saturday.

    10. @ Lank 10:35 a.m.

      Yeah, I think the "we haven't played anybody yet" thing is why I don't want to rush to conclusions. Penn State has a good defense, and Ohio State's defense is better than it was last year. Once we play our two toughest opponents in the final three weeks, I think we'll have a better idea of what this offense can do. So far I haven't been too impressed with anyone defensively, other than the pass rushers from Purdue - who I think are legitimately pretty good - and the defense from Rutgers, which might be one of the top few best coached defenses in the conference, outside of Michigan, Iowa, and probably Penn State.

    11. Question for me boils down to if we can run over OSU like we did in the 21 and 22 second halves. I don't know - but I'm I think we can, or at least, at a minimum, I'm not convinced we can't. If push comes to shove I have confidence in our personnel and Harbaugh/Moore.

      More important question is if we need to. I agree OSU and PSU have gotten better defensively AND have girded themselves to stop the running game, specifically Michigan's. That's what happens when you win back to back conference titles - people are going to focus on stopping our strength. Just like we tried to focus on stopping OSU's.

      OSU is not shy about this - see the "we're not soft" comments from Day. We all know what he means and he's the only one who isn't laughing as he tells on himself.

      I feel like Harbaugh is one step ahead right now. Zigging to their zag. Let them focus all their energies on stopping the run - we'll gladly put the ball game in JJ's shoulders, surrounded by a veteran OL, and 5 NFL caliber targets in Barner, Loveland, Johnson, Wilson, and Edwards.

    12. @ Lank 1:24 p.m.

      I'm not convinced we'll be able to run it like we did in 2021 and 2022. In fact, I don't think we will. That doesn't mean Michigan will lose. Michigan just hasn't been dominant in the run game all season, so they're not going to start being dominant against the best defenses they face.

      Blake Corum has just one 100-yard game this season, and Edwards has zero. Last year Corum had six 100-yard games through nine games, and Edwards had two.

    13. We'll see. I'm well aware the stats but I don't put much stock in 100 yard games as an arbitrary milestones.

      Blake's YPC is down but that's not why he doesn't have 100 yard games - that's because his carries are WAY DOWN. IMO - That's a good thing!

      Edwards meanwhile had two 100 yard games before being elevated to starter. Those were two games where he got 15 carries (against Rutgers) and 16 carries (against PSU). This year he hasn't gotten that number of carries yet (though he came close once with 14). I think part of Edwards not getting that volume of carries is that Mullings has emerged. The coaches also don't really need to Edwards to show them what he has after how he closed last season. It's more interesting to see what Mullings can do.

  4. Meant to say NOT clicking in my 7:09 P.M. comment, sorry.

  5. I didn't have much concern w/the 4th & 1 call. Purdont was beaten, and it challenged our Offense & then our Defense ... my gripe was w/playcall & personnel. I thought either "Right Up The Middle" or the Play Action we saw earlier to either Mullings, Bredeson or one of the TEs ... but running Mullings & using Darius Clemons as an inline blocker? Boooo

    The running game is a concern. OL wins the LoS, but isn't dominant; neither OT is impressive
    Corum makes plays: big hits, drags defenders, dives through, and makes cuts. He just isn't making the Big Plays
    Edwards can't get much after contact, if anything at all. We really are doing him a disservice by not leveraging his unique talent

    JJ wasn't his best, but ½ his incompl were still catchable

    1. I didn't like the decision to go for it on 4th-and-1...

      ...and then I didn't like the play call, either.

    2. Bit of a side note, but I am not a fan at all of using Mullings in those short yardage situations. Corum has been exceptional in short yardage and I have far more confidence in his ability to gain those tough yards. Using Mullings there feels a bit like a "he's big, therefore he must be a good short yardage guy" but ever since the Purdue game last year I haven't felt like he's been all that effective there. Mullings can certainly have a role and deserves a few carries, but hoping in high leverage short yardage situations that we're still going with Corum.

    3. I think Corum is a better short yardage/goal line back, but . . . he might be the best we've seen. He's elite at that stuff.

      Mullings has 7 carries so far this year on 3rd-and-short and has earned 6 first downs. He has 2 carries on 4th down and has earned 1 first down. So he's basically 7/9 on short yardage, which is pretty good.

    4. Interesting. I would have guessed less than 7/9 for Mullings. What are Edwards and Corum at?

    5. @AnonNov 7 at 3:16 PM, this is about keeping Corum fresh, while developing Mullings. Why risk injury? Why not get Mullings his reps?

      Mullings is the only other guy who has proven to repeatedly get those last few yards. Maybe Ben Hall can, but we haven't seen enough

    6. If that's all it is, I'm fine with it. I just hope that we're not subscribing to this archaic thinking that your short yardage back needs to be some 240+ lb back. Corum has proven his prowess there so hoping he sees all of the material short yardage carries against PSU / OSU / etc.

    7. @ Lank 9:51 p.m.

      Corum is 8/12 on 3rd-and-short or 4th down.

      Edwards is 1/3 on 3rd-and-short or 4th down.

      So statistically, it's Mullings, then Corum, then Edwards as far as short yardage goes. Edwards just doesn't get those carries. I think the coaches know that's not his strength.

    8. He also had the 2nd and short TD last game.

      I'm with anon on this. If it comes down to a 4th and 1 carry to decide the game I want corum getting it.

  6. Here we go again nit-picking and figuring out what is wrong from a game where our opponent cannot move the ball and we won by more than 3 TD.

    My gripes:
    1) Edwards goes down easily upon contact. After 3 yrs, I think he is who he is.
    2) Offense kind of stalls once Purdue went from man to zones
    3) Our tackles were beaten one on one in the passing game. I do not know how good Purdue's DE are but this is another area of concern given that we will be facing PSU and OSU who have great DE.
    4) Did we show too much of our playbook against an overmatched Purdue?
    5) DJ Waller is our best back up option at CB and gave up a 40yds completion.

    1. Carlos Brown was a good RB. He struggled with injuries but even with a coaching transition he was getting carries ahead of Brandon Minor, Michael Cox, Vincent Smith, among others when he was healthy.

      He wasn't Mike Hart, but when Hart went down in 2007 it was Brown who got the start.

      Carr liked Minor and Brown pretty equally it seemed. Rich Rod reached a similar conclusion.

      But Brown was hurt too often to be a star.

      Nonetheless, he kicked around NFL practice squads for several years. So if your argument is Edwards is as good as Brown -- that's not exactly an insult to Edwards.

      Of course, the big difference between Brown and Edwards is Edwards pass catching ability. That's a huge differentiator for Edwards and why he is considered a high NFL draft prospect instead of a fringe late round/UDFA prospect.

      In other words Edwards is NFL-caliber getting the ball handed to him, with elite receiving skills on top of it.

    2. I am not sure Edwards will be a high draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. I think he is coming back to Michigan for one more year. He needs to show some ability to run in between the tackles.

    3. @FT
      I hope you're right about Edwards coming back but I think the NFL saw him run between the tackles already last year.

      And even if they shared your doubt (which I very much think they do not), they wouldn't care. Citation: Chris Evans.

    4. @ Lank 1:56 p.m.

      It wasn't meant to be an insult. I liked Carlos Brown. But he was limited, and the knock on him was that he couldn't break tackles. His big asset was always his speed.

      He also had an abysmal YPC one year...but that was when he was a freshman and averaged 2.6 on 16 attempts.

    5. Brown was fast and good. Minor was slow and good. I like em both.

    6. @ Lank 9:47 p.m.

      I don't think Brandon Minor was slow. Not sure where that's coming from. I would take him in a foot race over De'Veon Smith and maybe even Vincent Smith.

    7. He ran a 4.6 40. That's slow for a RB. Hart was also slow. Like deveon. these are guys whose strength is elsewhere.

    8. Wasn't Deveon a 4.7-4.8 guy? Arguing semantics, but I'd characterize Deveon as "slow" and Minor as "average" if we're talking P5 running backs

    9. Smith was probably slower, but they are all slow. At least by standards of NFL or even Michigan starting caliber backs. Hart was 4.7 at the combine. That's slow.

      A player who I consider to be representative of typical starting Michigan caliber RB - Karan Higdon - ran a 4.5. He didn't seem especially fast. Then again Chris Evans also ran a 4.5 and he did seem fast. Donovan Edwards is supposedly also around 4.5. Corum supposedly is a 4.4.

      The mental bins I use -- 4.5-4.6 is typical by NFL/Michigan standards. Below that you're slow. Anybody in the 4.4s or 4.3s is zoom zoom.

      The 40 times don't always align with eye tests but in the case of some guys like Devon Achane - I think they very much did.

    10. I come back to the NCAA football ratings a bit for discussions like this in terms of the difference between quickness and speed. And fully acknowledge this is mostly eye test type of stuff. But Corum (at least the current version of Corum) feels far more "quick" than "fast". The opposite is the case for Edwards. Generally speaking I much prefer quick to fast in terms of RB competence, but it's nice when you can combine both. Corum's TD run against Washington in 2021 looked like he had some serious long speed but I haven't really seen it since.

      What I really don't like is when we play RBs that are neither fast nor quick, but fortunately that doesn't seem like it will be a problem going forward.

    11. @Anon. My eye test says the same thing yours does but I also would not be surprised if the combine tells us Corum is very fast. Maybe faster than Edwards... IDK.

      For a RB who is neither quick nor fast there is still a role if they are strong, tough, reliable, can catch, block, etc. What they do with the ball in hands is only part of the job description. Especially now that we are seeing Harball with a real Harball QB.

  7. Heisman race fun facts. Penix and Nix are the favorites and both are 23 years old. Jayden McDaniels turns 23 in a month. Jordan Travis is also 23.

    JJ McCarthy is 20.

    1. Even Caleb Williams, who is Junior like JJ, turn 22 in a week.

      If you are wondering if JJ McCarthy is going to be a 1st round NFL pick or not...the NFL is going to be very aware of the 3 year difference.

      If you are wondering why the Michigan coaches didn't start JJ right away in 2021 -- he was 18. The same age most of these kids are in high school. Cade McNamara is more than 3 years older. Football eligibility is one thing but that's the age difference between a freshman and a senior.

      In an era when many kids are held back to get a leg up on athletics, what JJ is doing is particularly impressive.

      At age 20, Michael Penix threw more INTs than TDs and completed 54% of his passes. At age 20, Bo Nix had a passer rating in 120s and completed less than 7 yards a pass.

      At age 20, JJ is not putting up the volume that Penix/Nix are at 23, but his efficiency numbers are better than there's have ever been.

      #JJ for Heisman

    2. Nix and Penix where born in spring of 2000 - same as McNamara, Bowman, and Milton.

      JJ had his senior year of high school spoiled by COVID and now, 3 years later, he's dealing with these geriatric QBs stealing his shine on the backs of extra COVID eligibility.

      It's still hilarious that JJ and McNamara are 3 years apart and have the same NCAA eligibility.