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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The depth of the Big Ten has emerged as conference play nears

                                                    Photo Credit: Geno Green



In a season full of twists and turns, the Big Ten Conference has emerged as a refreshing storyline this season.

Heading into the first full weekend of conference play, the Big Ten can boast about having five teams in the current Associated Press Top 25—  No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Michigan State, No. 16 Northwestern, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 22 Michigan.

On top of having five ranked teams, Indiana and Iowa march into Saturday's action with 4-0 records, but will be tested out of the gate against Ohio State and Wisconsin, respectively.

In Tuesday's weekly conference call, several coaches reflected on the depth from top to bottom thus far.


Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh on the exposure of fellow Big Ten teams:

"I have seen some of the other teams on television and noticed how well they are doing and getting quite a bit of deserved recognition in terms of polls, etc."


Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst on the overall quality of the conference:

"I have always thought the Big Ten is a great football conference and it doesn't surprise me when you have five teams ranked in the Top 25."


On the importance of rankings going into conference play:

"The rankings will mean more now than in the beginning of the year and mean the most at the end of the year. That's why our players come here because they want to play in the Big Ten and know that each week is a big week."


Nebraska coach Mike Riley on competing in conference play:

"It looks like everybody in the league is competing, getting better and I think you will see a competitive year in our conference. There's been a lot of teams that have done well early and showing signs of improvement from a year ago."


Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio on any team capable of winning in the Big Ten:

"Everybody's got players and what you have seen in this conference is anybody can win at any given time. You need to play well and respect that aspect of every football game."


On the depth of the conference in terms of branding: 

"It is good for the Big Ten brand across the nation and it only makes the brand stronger."


Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.



Sunday, September 27, 2015

Geno's Power 25- Week 4



Here is my Power 25 for Week 4:



Here is my Power 25 for Week 4:

1 Ohio State

2 Michigan State

3 TCU

4 Ole Miss

5 UCLA

6 Notre Dame

7 Florida State

8 LSU

9 Georgia

10 Baylor

11 Clemson 

12 Alabama

13 Utah

14 USC

15 Northwestern

16 Texas A&M

17 Oklahoma

18 Wisconsin

19 Stanford

20 Oklahoma State

21 Michigan

22 Florida 

23 Georgia Tech

24 Temple

25 Toledo


Conference Breakdown:

SEC: 6

Big Ten: 5

Pac-12: 4

Big 12: 4

ACC: 3

Independent: 1

American: 1

MAC: 1


Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

BYU/Michigan Photo Gallery




Here are some the photos I took from Saturday's BYU/Michigan game.





















Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh Press Conference vs BYU


After shutting out the No. 22 BYU Cougars 31-0 at Michigan Stadium, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh addressed the media.








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Michigan's defense blanks BYU, 31-0

                                                             

                                                              Photo Credit: Geno Green


After relinquishing a shutout late in last Saturday's 28-7 victory against UNLV, Michigan chomped at the bit to get another opportunity– this time against No. 22 Brigham Young University.

Michigan's defense buckled down and did not allow BYU's offense into the redzone and forced 11 punts on 12 possessions, to go along with seven three and outs in a 31-0 shutout at Michigan Stadium on Saturday.

"It was one right after another for three and outs against a very good team on both sides of the ball," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall gave credit to Michigan's swarming defense in defeat.

"Michigan executed and dominated the game from beginning to end," Mendenhall said. "They were really well prepared and is the best team we have played to this point, not only physically, but execution-wise."

Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum had a day to forget as he threw 12-of-28 for a career-low 55 yards and a rating of 59.4. 

Michigan (3-1) showed up with something to prove on the national stage against BYU (2-2) and answered the call in the first half.


Michigan would strike first on its second drive of the game, but a couple of plays helped set the tone– De'Veon Smith's 31-yard rush and Amara Darboh's acrobatic and twisting one-handed catch for a 21-yard reception. 

Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock praised Darboh for the one-handed reception on third down which led to four catches for 57 yards and a TD.

"He made a great play and whenever you can convert on third down, then that's a good thing," Rudock said.

Those plays helped set up Rudock's first career-rushing touchdown with a three-yard dash into the end zone to open the scoring 9:08 into the game.

Rudock's 41-yard completion to tight end Jake Butt would set up a splendid pass to Darboh for a 4-yd touchdown reception to put U-M in a comfortable position at 14-0 with 13:37 left in the half.

On the second play of Michigan's next drive, Smith one-upped Darboh's first-quarter catch as he rammed through a couple of BYU defenders with a rugged 60-yard TD run that was reminiscent of what an old-school Bo Schembechler running back would look like back from in the 1970's and 80's.

Smith himself was surprised after the initial contact on the touchdown run.

"To be honest, I thought I was down for a second, but once I got to the second level, I knew for a fact that I wasn't letting No. 15 [Michael Davis] tackle me once I got down the field," Smith said.






Smith led all running backs in yards (125) and carries (16), to go along with the aforementioned touchdown and is expected to play at Maryland despite injuring his ankle late in the third quarter.

After a second straight three and out by the Cougars, the Wolverines drove down the field for a 6-play, 59-yard drive in 3:26 to put Michigan ahead 28-0 with 6:57 left in the first half. 

Placekicker Kenny Allen glided in a 40-yard field goal to give Michigan a commanding 31-0 lead over BYU at halftime.

The Cougars struggled to put anything together in the first half as it failed to reach the redzone and punted on all five of its possessions.

Both teams failed to score in the second half, but the story was Michigan's defense holding BYU to six punts on seven possessions and putting a blueprint on a new era of physical and gritty football that was synonymous with Rose Bowl runs under Schembechler.


Game Notes:

Rudock finished with an all-around performance going 14-of-25 through the air for 194 yards, a passing TD, and two rushing scores.

Cougars wide receiver Mitchell Juergens could not get into a rhythm as he was held to two receptions on six yards. Juergen leads the Cougars in yards (244).

Juergens' running mate and second-leading receiver Mitch Mathews came into Saturday's game with 17 catches and 185 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns was held to a four-yard reception at the 12-minute mark of the fourth quarter.


Looking Ahead:

Both teams play in primetime next week as BYU returns home to Provo, Utah, to take on Connecticut on Oct. 2 at 9:15 p.m. on ESPN2, while Michigan goes east to College Park, MD., for a Big Ten East division showdown with Maryland at 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network on Oct. 3.


Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.

Halftime: Michigan 31, No. 22 BYU 0

                                      Photo Credit: Geno Green

On a warm, fall Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium, Michigan  showed up with something to prove on the national stage against No. 22-ranked BYU and answered the call in the first half.


Michigan would strike first on its second drive of the game, but a couple of plays helped set the tone– De'Veon Smith's 31-yard rush and Amara Darboh's acrobatic and twisting one-handed catch for a 21-yard reception. 

Those plays helped set up Rudock's first career-rushing touchdown with a three-yard dash into the end zone to open the scoring 9:08 into the game.

Rudock's 41-yard completion to tight end Jake Butt set up a splendid pass to Darboh for a 4-yd TD reception to put U-M in a comfortable position at 14-0 with 13:37 left in the half.

On the second play of Michigan's next drive, De'Veon Smith one-upped Darboh's first-quarter catch as he rammed right through a couple of BYU defenders with a rugged 60-yard TD run that was reminiscent of what an old-school Bo Schembechler team would look like back from in the 1970's and 80's.

After a second straight three and out by the Cougars, the Wolverines drove down the field for a 6-play, 59-yard drive in 3:26 to put Michigan ahead 28-0 with 6:57 left in the first half. 

Michigan placekicker Kenny Allen glided in a 40-yard field goal to make the score 31-0 at halftime.

BYU struggled to put anything together in the first half as it failed to reach the redzone and punted on all five of its possessions.

Key Stats:

BYU- Tanner Mangum- 4-of-13, 25 yards and Adam Hine- 8 rushes, 33 yards

Michigan- Jake Rudock- 9-of-14, 132 yards, 1 TD, De'Veon Smith- 13 rushes, 117 yards, 1 TD and Amara Darboh- 3 receptions, 43 yards, 1 TD





Friday, September 25, 2015

BYU/Michigan Depth Chart

In advance of tomorrow's game between BYU and Michigan, here are the depth charts for each squad:


No. 22 BYU (2-1)



Notes:

- Francis Bernard is listed as the back-up to Toloa'i Ho Ching at the fullback position. Bernard's status was 50/50 going into the week due to a broken finger suffered at Nebraska.

- Logan Taele gets the start again at nose tackle as Travis Tuiloma remains out of the Cougars lineup with a knee injury.



Key Injuries:

QB Taysom Hill (foot injury)- Out For Season

NT Travis Tuiloma (knee injury)- Out 2-4 Weeks




Michigan (2-1)



Notes:

- As expected, Jake Rudock will get the start for the Wolverines as it is looking like an essential formality that Shane Morris could be redshirted this season.

- Jabrill Peppers is listed as the top strong safety, punt/kick returner. Do not be surprised if Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh decides to put Peppers on offense for a play or two against BYU.



Key Injuries:

- None


Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tale of the Tape: No. 22 BYU at Michigan


On this edition of Tale of the Tape, we break down the awesome traits that makes BYU and Michigan unique and different from each other.





                   BYU                                                               Michigan 





       







           Independent                                  Conference Affiliation:                       Big Ten


                 22                                 Associated Press Current Ranking:                NR


      2012 Poinsettia Bowl                             Last Bowl Win:                          2012 Sugar Bowl
    

             1 (1984)                                      National Championships:               11 (Last: 1997)


        5 (Last: 2000)                             Conference Championships:               42 (Last: 2004)


   1 (Ty Detmer: 1990)                         Heisman Trophy Winners:               3 (Tom Harmon: 1941,
                                                                                                                     Desmond Howard: 1991 and
                                                                                                                      Charles Woodson: 1997)


Danny Ainge, Jack Morris,                          Notable Alumni:               Gerald R. Ford, Rich Eisen,  
Jim McMahon, Steve Young and                                                           Desmond Howard, Selma Blair                                                                                                                
Jon Heder                                                                                                and David Alan Grier

     
       Cosmo the Cougar                                      Mascot:                                           None


          29,672                                              Current Enrollment:                           43,625


          43-25                                        Win-Loss Record This Decade:                   40-27






Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.
                 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

No. 22 BYU/Michigan preview: Cougars look to bounce back after losing to the UCLA Bruins




Luck finally ran out on the No. 22 BYU Cougars last Saturday night as it came up short to the then-No. 10 UCLA Bruins 24-23.

The biggest concern for BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall coming out of the UCLA game was the rush defense allowing 296 yards on 38 carries, but remains optimistic going into Saturday's game at Michigan (2-1). 

"I think we have a good team that's on the verge possibly becoming a great team with some work, but still a ways to go," Mendenhall said in Monday's press conference.

Injuries in the running back position are another concern for BYU (2-1) as Francis Bernard (broken finger) will see playing time, while Algie Brown's status remains up in the air.

Mendenhall hopes everything will clear up with injuries as the week goes along.

"Not sure when we can get Francis fully up to speed and when we can get Algie back," Mendenhall said. 

"Hopefully, we can get both back this week. Francis was cleared for last week, but he had some rust in practice, so hopefully we'll get him back this week."

Mendenhall sees Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's gameplan as a mirror image of his previous college stop at Stanford and knows it will be critical for BYU to match the physicality on the field.


"They are basically Stanford when Harbaugh was there," Mendenhall said.

"That’s no slight to either one. If I’m describing it, that’s what I see. They have a lot of big people, extra tight ends and big backs. They are just running and smashing it. We’ll need bigger people and healthier people. We’ll try and match it best we can."

BYU's huge early-season wins at Nebraska and at home against defending Mountain West champion Boise State have given the independent program a lot of national notoriety with games on ABC, ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1 so far.

"I think the attention is gratifying and believe we have respect at this point nationwide," Mendenhall said. 

"You have to keep earning it and play well. So far, we are an exciting team to watch and we keep things exciting up until the last minute."


BYU Players To Watch For- Quarterback Tanner Mangum:

Despite last Saturday's loss against UCLA, Tanner Mangum finished the game with a completion percentage of 62.8, the highest since Max Hall (67.2) in 2009.

Mangum completed a career-high 30 of 47 passes for 244 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the loss. 



Wide Receiver Mitch Mathews:

Forever etched as the player who caught the dramatic, game-winning 42-yard hail mary TD with no time left on the clock at Nebraska, Mitch Mathews has turned into a household name in college football.

Mathews put together another stellar effort at UCLA with nine receptions, 84 yards and a touchdown.

The lanky 6-foot-6 frame of Mathews could cause matchup problems as Michigan cornerbacks Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis are expected to take turns guarding the standout receiver.



Cornerback Kai Nacua:

Known more for playing a role in the infamous brawl at the Miami Beach Bowl last season against Memphis, Kai Nacua has let his play on the field do the talking thus far.

Nacua has recorded nine tackles, but the stat which stands out the most is four interceptions, including one returned for a TD against Boise State.

The scary part is the stats have been accumulated in two games due to sitting the Nebraska game out due to a suspension for his role in the brawl against Memphis.

Michigan's receivers could be in for a long day if Nacua continues at the rapid pace he has been on this season.



All-Time Series:

BYU won the only other meeting in the 1984 Holiday Bowl over Michigan 24-17 to win the consensus national championship.



Game Planner:


No. 22 BYU Cougars (2-1) at Michigan Wolverines (2-1)


Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI


Time: Saturday, Noon ET


TV/Online: ABC/WatchESPN


Line: Michigan (-4.5)




Social Media:


Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

No. 22 BYU/Michigan preview: Can the Wolverines defense stop the Cougars offense?

                                  Photo Credit: Geno Green



Since losing its opening game at Utah, Michigan's defense managed to put together back-to-back solid efforts.

In home wins against Oregon State and UNLV, the Wolverines have allowed a combined 373 yards and three turnovers.

The highlight of Michigan's defense thus far has been the meshing of a highly-hyped secondary unit, featuring Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.

Harbaugh acknowledged the secondary's improvements in Tuesday's Big Ten Conference call, but knows it is only the tip of the iceberg.

"I feel like our secondary is coming together," Harbaugh said. "We're definitely getting our hands on more balls and creating turnovers."

Michigan's secondary will get a stiff test from one of the best offenses in the FBS in No. 22 BYU.

The Cougars scorched the Nebraska Cornhuskers defense for 445 yards of offense on Sept. 5.

With BYU posing threats such as freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum and wide receiver Mitch Mathews, Harbaugh knows his defensive backs' margin of error is slim.

"BYU is very proficient in the passing game and athletic, with a quarterback who throws it well and has tall and athletic receivers," Harbaugh said.



Michigan Players To Watch Out For- Cornerback Jourdan Lewis:


After missing half of the Oregon State game on Sept. 12 due to effects from a concussion, Lewis responded with a vengeance last week against UNLV with four pass breakups on its top wide receiver Devonte Boyd.

Harbaugh sees improvement in Lewis and wants to him take his game to another level against the Cougars Saturday.

"I really like his play and last week he had four pass breakups and defended the deep ball well," Harbaugh said. "He continued to improve in the physical part of the game in tackling and is an ascending player."


Running Back Ty Isaac:


When Michigan's running back picture looked to be cleared out like fog, Ty Isaac decided to cloud the situation with a career-high 114-yard breakout performance on eight carries, highlighted by a dynamic 76-yard touchdown run against UNLV last week.

Harbaugh relished in the rapid development of Isaac and hopes the 76-yard TD run is a harbinger of things to come this season.

"It's really encouraging this past week as [Ty] turned a short play into a long touchdown run that was not drawn up exactly the way it was initially and managed to make somebody miss, bounce off a tackle, create enough running room with an outstanding stiff arm and that was good to see," Harbaugh said.



Game Planner:


No. 22 BYU Cougars (2-1) at Michigan Wolverines (2-1)


Location: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI


Time: Saturday, Noon ET


TV/Online: ABC/WatchESPN


Line: Michigan (-4.5)




Social Media:


Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.




Monday, September 21, 2015

Virginia Tech/Purdue Photo Gallery

Here are some of the photos I took covering this past Saturday's game between Virginia Tech and Purdue:







Sunday, September 20, 2015

Beamer Ball stars in Virginia Tech's 51-24 win at Purdue

                                                        Photo Credit: Geno Green



Beamer Ball ruled the land in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday as Virginia Tech's blocked punt recovered by Anthony Shegog for a 15-yard touchdown late in the third quarter headlined a 51-24 win over Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer understood the importance of playing all-around football in the postgame press conference.

“That was big,” Beamer said. “We always talk about whoever is on the field has a chance to get a score. That happened today, and that was pretty special.”

Virginia Tech (2-1) dominated on offense for a total of 471 yards (238 rushing and 233 passing).

VT quarterback Brenden Motley went 15 of 23 for 220 yards and threw for two touchdowns.

Beamer sees a ton of potential in Motley and liked what he brought to the table at Purdue.

“I think he’s doing well. I like the kid,” Beamer said. “I like how he’s handling things. He doesn’t flinch. I’ve used that word before, but he doesn’t. He hangs right in there, and he’s a good quarterback for this football team.”

For Purdue (1-2), Austin Appleby had a game to forget, going 9 of 28 passing for 110 yards and two interceptions.

“We got caught in too many third and longs, where they were able to just pin their ears back and come at us with all the exotic blitzes that they do,” Appleby said.

“They have a really good defense, and when you are playing behind the chains it makes things difficult.”

Purdue’s inability to produce on its opening drive led to a three and out and Virginia Tech would take advantage on its first drive.

Motley got into a early rhythm with a 40-yard completion to Ryan Malleck, which highlighted a 6 play, 49-yard drive capped off by a 35-yd FG make from Joey Slye to open the scoring.

The Hokies’ brand of defense/special teams struck on the Boilermakers’ next possession as Austin Appleby fumbled on 3rd and 9 as cornerback Kendall Fuller caused the fumble and Chuck Clark would benefit by scooping the ball up the ground for a 20-yard touchdown.

Purdue would respond on the next drive as Appleby’s 2-yar quarterback keeper for a TD, which highlighted a 9-play, 74-yard drive in 3:06 to close the gap to 10-7.

Danny Ezechukwu recovered a Motley fumble and went 90 yards for a TD— second longest in school history to give Purdue its first lead of the game at 14-10 with 14:03 left in the first half.

Motley connected with Hodges on a lob pass in the left corner of the end zone for a 3-yd TD reception to back up 17-14 with 8:00 remaining in the opening half.

After both teams would punt on their next possessions, The Boilermakers would even things at 17 on a 34-yd field goal by Paul Griggs.

On the next drive on 1st and Goal, Motley did not the see the snap initially, but adjusted on the fly and rushed the ball in from five yards out to the weak side for a Hokies touchdown to go back in front 24-17 with 1:08 left in the opening half.


The Hokies’ scored the next 17 points as they used a methodical ground and pound attack to wear out the Boilermakers’ front seven, which was highlighted by a 1-yard TD run up the middle by Drew Burns and a blocked punt recovered by Anthony Shegog for a 15-yard touchdown.

"The punt block for the touchdown was a low snap to the right that pulled the punter, and then we had a guy come up and under our shield,” Hazell said. “That is a physical thing; it's not a mental thing, or an assignment thing.

Purdue would not get any closer as it suffered its second double-digit loss of the season.


Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action next Saturday as Virginia Tech travels to East Carolina for a kickoff time TBD, while Purdue hosts Bowling Green from the MAC for a Noon start on the Big Ten Network.