"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
It might be silly to highlight a play that worked in a game where your offense scores three net points but I thought this was an interesting play, and it's one we haven't seen this year. It's third and one on Michigan's second drive of the game; Threet's about to throw the disaster interception.
But first we have to get that first down. Michigan comes out in an I-formation(secondary offense what!) with twin receivers to the bottom of the screen. Also, note the position of TE Kevin Koger: he's covered up by the outside receiver and can't go downfield.*
This next frame is taken right at the snap and exists to show you the presnap motion of the fullback: he took two quick steps to his right the instant before the snap. Michigan used to do this all the time under Debord and it drove me crazy; in this instance the fullback shuffle is 1) much quicker and 2) followed immediately by the snap. It's still a tipoff, but less of one.
The DL didn't pick up on it, obviously: they're slanting inside.
The Rockets are in trouble at this point: check Molk out: he's got a complete seal on the playside DT. This leaves six Michigan blockers (WR, RG, RT, TE, LG attempting to cut the MLB, as you can see) in an area with four Toledo defenders. Five of them can get excellent angles on their players; only the LG has something of a difficult job.
This hole is truly gaping as Grady approaches the LOS, but the LG has failed to chop that linebacker, leaving him to Moosman, and Moundros is kind of running aimlessly outside.
Our final frame shows Moosman having whiffed on the MLB, Grady past the first down marker, and backside pursuit encroaching. Moundros is still looking for someone to block.
So: a great playcall that caught Toledo's defense, particularly the playside DT, in a play they weren't prepared to defend. Good execution by Molk and Schilling creates a cavernous hole in the line with plenty of blockers heading downfield, but poor execution by those downfield blockers held this gain down to about six; club that MLB and he's probably down to the two or three and Michigan grinds in a touchdown.
*(This bugs me way less than the formation where Greg Mathews is split out and covered up because if Michigan passes they can still use Koger as a blocker; the Mathews thing is basically playing 10-on-11 if you pass.)
UFR coming tomorrow; I tried downloading a big file that didn't get down in timely fashion.
It's grim. You know it's grim. The "Michigan 2008 = Notre Dame 2007" equation that Michigan fans—and this blog—scoffed at in the offseason appears to be nearing QED MFer status. A smart person just emailed me something that suggests death would be a more pleasurable alternative than the six games that loom over the next month and a half. The sky hangs low and ominous, all slate-gray clouds and distant rumbles and the sweaty prickle of unnatural humidity.
So, obviously, blame must be assigned! Assign blame, media! ASSIGN BLAME
Think West Virginia would return the buyout and take back Rich Rodriguez?
No. Of course, this guy's big idea…
Clearly, before this debacle reached a 2-4 boiling point, with the rugged part of the schedule yet unplayed, Rodriguez and his staff should have installed a second offense.
…worked out great last year when Charlie Weis installed the spread option for a single game against Georgia Tech instead of indicating that his offensive linemen might want to block someone. He says "Saturday's game almost isn't worth reviewing," and it's clear he didn't: Michigan did sort of install a second offense, deploying a Moundros-fronted I on several occasions and running isos up the gut. Unless he thinks a new offense is magically going to make Steven Threet a junior or Nick Sheridan physically capable of running a Division I offense, this is complaining just to complain.
Meanwhile, Mike Rosenberg continues proving that he's lost his mind over Rich Rodriguez. After doing the usual disclaimer bit ("Rich Rodriguez may yet restore Michigan to Big Ten supremacy") in an attempt to ward off the obvious riposte—SIX GAMES—he goes into the usual array of misrepresentations designed to cast Rodriguez in as unflattering a light as possible.
Here's one of many:
“We’ll adapt. I like winning too much not to adapt a little bit to our personnel.”
Has there been any sign that he will adapt?
Rodriguez says that every spread offense is different, but his scheme looks exactly like the one he ran at West Virginia, even though his players don’t fit the scheme.
Yes, exactly like the West Virginia spread:
- WVU, 2007: 26% pass, 74% run.
- Michigan, 2008: 46% pass, 54% run.
This only looks "exactly like the West Virginia" spread if you have literally no memory for play proportions and sequencing.
I won't belabor you further with the column; it's a pastiche of the usual unrealistic complaints like "Rodriguez ran off Mallett!" that remain as wrong as they were when Rosenberg brought them up earlier this year and I fisked it. I only bring it up to highlight the weirdest criticism leveled at Rodriguez this season: leaving a semblance of Lloyd Carr and Mike Debord's pro-style offense would have been an improvement.
This is preposterous in the following ways:
Last year the Michigan offense was bad. Injuries had something to do with it, sure, but Mallett played less than half the year, and the other half of the year they had a senior Chad Henne. Mike Hart played about nine games. The #1 pick in the NFL draft was the left tackle, and Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington were standout wide receivers.
With all these advantages, Michigan finished 68th in total offense, 10th in the Big Ten. Can you imagine what the offense would look like with freshmen everywhere and nothing resembling a competent quarterback? Yes, you can, it looks like last year's Wisconsin game minus the 97-yard Manningham touchdown. Or last year's Ohio State game. This isn't exactly the Greatest Show On Turf we're ditching.
You cannot make a good offense out of these parts. The best quarterback was a freshman so shaky in camp that a guy who would look out of place on most I-AA teams got the starting nod; he has been wildly inaccurate downfield and is charting horribly in UFR. This would not improve in a different offense. Different offenses do not make it easier to throw accurate passes, especially when the screens have been problematic.
There is one returning OL starter and six plausible starters, one of whom (Schilling) seemed destined for a career as anything other than a backup before massive attrition forced them into the starting lineup. The tailbacks are freshmen, injured, or fumblers. The wideouts are probably the worst crop since… uh… Michigan started throwing?
Meanwhile, Cory Zirbel, Carlos Brown, Mark Huyge, Mark Ortmann, Carson Butler, Martavious Odoms, Junior Hemingway, Steven Threet and Greg Mathews have all missed time with injury or stupidity (Butler's punch; whoever decided Sheridan was a plausible starter). A walk-on saw time at left tackle.
Nobody on the team even knows the Carr offense. Your skill position starters are five freshmen (Odoms, McGuffie, Threet, Koger, Stonum) and a junior.
…except the linemen, who are pretty much doing the same thing anyway. There are slight differences between Michigan's zone stretch this year and its zone stretch a year ago; their main problem is not being unable to understand the scheme but being unable to execute it because they are bad at football.
To be fair, you wouldn't know this if you watched the game on Saturday and then spat out a 600-word column about it without putting in the time review the tape or learn about football.
Rodriguez hasn't run a pro-style offense in two decades. How is he supposed to teach something he doesn't know very well? How is he supposed to run an offense completely divorced from his own? What is the point of hiring Rich Rodriguez?
So you've got one of two options here:
- Decide to run an offense you have zero experience with that finished just above 70th with an enormous slate of NFL talent in the vague hope you make a crappy December bowl game if it's even an improvement, which it probably won't be, or…
- Get on with the process of building your program.
Here's door #1: Auburn decided to bring in a spread guru, implement half his offense, and force him to call a lot of dumb plays he didn't want to. The result? Fired offensive coordinator with sad box and sad beard:
Meanwhile, Auburn blogs are considering whether or not Tuberville should get a sad box, too. This is the Great Solution proposed by Michigan newspaper columnists.
I pick door #2, as should everyone except evangelicals who think the world is ending before next fall.
With Vandy no longer undefeated, that seems a small risk.
(HT to Ron Cook at the PPG)
So a few months ago Chris Stassen, maintainer of the invaluable Stassen.com, emailed me to note that his name was not, in fact, "Harold." I had been calling him Harold for years.
So I don't know if this is revenge or whatever, but yesterday this hit my inbox from Mr. Stassen. It's possibly the most frightening thing I've ever seen. The elderly, children, and pregnant women are advised to stop reading now.
I warned you…
Last year I stumbled across a research paper on the odds of a Vegas favorite winning a game (e.g., a 1-point favorite wins 53% of the time, a 7-point favorite wins 69% of the time). The research was based on Vegas lines and NFL games, so one can argue against applying it to the college game. I think college teams perform less consistently than pro teams (meaning that a big NCAA favorite is less guaranteed to win than an equivalently big NFL favorite)... but probably it gives a decent rough measure.
The other problem I've had is how to get "lines" for games which are purely only hypothetical (e.g., Texas Tech vs Kansas in the Big XII title game), or games which are weeks away and not big enough for Vegas to publish an early line (e.g., Michigan at Purdue). I've finessed this issue by using Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings (his best estimate of team strength) to compute spreads. Again, this sort of abuses the research paper's results, in that his spreads aren't the same as Vegas lines (though they tend to be pretty similar). Anyway, if we're only looking for ballpark figures, we don't have a lot of other options if we want to do this sort of computation.
There are lots of various ways to throw rocks at this analysis. I did a similar one for Ohio State fans at the start of the season, and computed that Ohio State was twice as likely to lose 3+ games, as they were to go undefeated. That was not too popular with the OSU fanbase, but I think I will be somewhat vindicated by the end of the season.
Anyway, even though there are weaknesses, I think the analysis' results are useful for looking at how a season "should" play out. More important than the spreads and exact per-game probabilities going in, are the ways in which the probabilities of individual games combine into the probability for this or that overall record.
Without further ado, here's the result for the remainder of Michigan's season:
By Sagarin-predictor pointspreads, Michigan is an underdog of more than a touchdown in every remaining game:
+8 at Purdue,
+9 against Northwestern,
+15 against Michigan State,
+16 at Minnesota,
+21 at Ohio State, and
+34 at Penn State
Using these numbers, the composite odds for Michigan's final six games of the regular season are:
6 wins = 0.0% (8-4)
5 wins = 0.0% (7-5)
4 wins = 0.4% (6-6)
3 wins = 3.9% (5-7)
2 wins = 18.7% (4-8)
1 wins = 41.8% (3-9)
0 wins = 35.2% (2-10)
By that calculation, Michigan is more than 75% likely to finish either 3-9 (one win in their remaining games) or 2-10 (no wins), with 3-9 being a bit more likely than 2-10.
They're a 22-to-1 longshot to exceed 4-8, and about a 250-to-1 longshot to be marginally bowl eligible at 6-6.
Individual results [excised for space and horror considerations; it's just the numbers in detail]
The most likely single outcomes are:
(1) Lose all remaining games (35%)
(2) Beat only Purdue (14%)
(3) Beat only Northwestern (12%)
(4) Beat only Michigan State (6%)
(5) Beat only Minnesota (6%)
(6) Beat Purdue and Northwestern (5%)
Anyone still alive after all that? If so: computer ranking are pretty crappy measures of team strength even at the end of the year, and they can be wildly inaccurate with only six games of data. The thing that jumps out at me is the Penn State spread, which is a full ten points higher than the Vegas line. FWIW, the Vegas line is always a more accurate predictor than computer rankings. This is considerably more grim than the facts on the ground. Probably.
But… yeah. I'm building a bomb shelter.
Some significant changes from the draft to the final:
- Commenters pointed out that LSU's schedule is extraordinarily flimsy at the moment, with the win over sudden doormat Auburn their best.
- Also bumped up was Oklahoma State, as the JCCW's plea have the Pokes above the Sooners makes sense.
- I replaced Northwestern with Vandy. WOO!
You know, when someone left a comment to this effect on the blog earlier today I thought to myself "not freakin' likely" but it turns out that the reason defenseman Steve Kampfer is going to miss a lot of time is because a football walk-on suplexed him into the sidewalk:
Lieutenant Robert Neumann said the victim was picked up and “body-slammed” to the ground by a man, who was accompanied by two other men. … Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation said the attacker is suspected to be LSA senior Mike Milano, a redshirt junior on the Michigan football team.
Milano was a wrestler for his first couple years on campus, if you're wondering about the Macho Man antics.
Michigan Hockey Net spoke to a source close to the situation and has a sobering update on Kampfer's condition:
He said Kampfer ended up with a cracked skull and T1 vertebra and is in a head and neck brace. …
The source said he talked with Kampfer’s parents today and it will be six weeks minimum before his next review (NOT until he returns to the ice) and he could end up taking a redshirt and sitting out the season.
The fight was, reportedly, over a girl. Of course. Good luck to Kampfer in rehab and Milano in court. Except not really the latter.
The tenets of national socialism. Newspaper are dumb and failing and articles like this are pretty much why:
As you might imagine, Michigan football fans aren't taking Saturday's loss to Toledo too well.
Some are wondering if it is more embarrassing than last season's loss to Appalachian State. Others have come to the realization they can never again ridicule arch-rival Michigan State about its back-to-back losses to Central Michigan.
One fan has established a website dedicated to getting coach Rich Rodriguez fired.
Ever since the Fire Ron Zook thing, goofballs have set up shop on "Fire X" domains. They know the media will give them free publicity because they are desperate little hit machines and "Fire X" stories get attention.
- nomorebrown.wordpress.com (notably silent since Saturday)
- and, the kicker: firepetecarroll.org
What do these sites have in common? 1) They're run by internet speculators trying to create money from outrage, 2) they attack the coaches that won the last four BCS national championship games, and 3) at some point newspapers gave them free publicity as evidence that lol internet.
It would be news if there was no Fire X site for a team as widely followed as Michigan, but, you know, whatever as long as we get a bunch of hits for this article. Please continue to poison your brand name with inane content; the last one out of the building should turn off the light.
As long as I'm angry. The NCAA hockey committee is considering a proposal to wildly revamp the tournament seeding process: only teams 1-4 would actually get seeds and the rest of them would be placed as close to home as possible so they can cut down on travel costs. This would force first-round matchups between schools in the same conference.
This, of course, comes a month after the NCAA announced St. Louis as a regional site in 2011, rejecting proposals from Toledo's new arena and Yost to do so. WCH slams the idea:
It's not surprising to see this come from the NCAA. They've never really cared about the integrity of their events, so long as they can maximize their profit. Of course, other ways to cut costs would be not adhering to the stupid "No home venues, unless it's a WCHA team, in which case it's totally cool" policy, and not scheduling a regional in freaking St. Louis. And if the number one concern is keeping teams from the same conference together in the NCAA tournament, it makes it look even more ridiculous that the WCHA gets to host the Midwest regional in Wisconsin 50% of the time.
Co-sign. NCAA regionals take place in half-empty buildings with no atmosphere because of a moratorium on home-ice sites put in place after Yost hosted earlier this decade and people complained. This hasn't stopped home-ice regionals all over the WCHA, but it has stripped the CCHA of one of its few reasonable options.
The obvious solution: let top seeds benefit from their excellent seasons by hosting regionals. You'll get sellout crowds most of the time at boutique prices, and #1 seeds will get whatever small advantage playing at home provides to reward them for their performance.
Or we could just throw out the idea of seeding entirely and have all-WCHA regionals.
Yikes. Penn State is favored by 24 on Saturday, which is the largest spread like ever against Michigan. It is literally the largest spread since Bo arrived.
Got beef. I'm not sure what Jim Leavitt's problem is with Rich Rodriguez, but it's real, yo:
"Who would have thought Toledo would go in and beat Michigan, with Rich Rodriguez and all his infamous wisdom, whatever it is there," Leavitt said. "Who really would have thought that? My point is that you've got to be ready at any time to play. It doesn't matter if Michigan is putting in a new offense or not, you would think the talent level would be a little bit different."
Actually, I might know: Rodriguez pirated OL coach Greg Frey and QB coach Rod Smith away from USF a year before he left West Virginia, and given his constant focus on recruiting Florida the two have undoubtedly crossed swords on the trail.
This, I believe, is the third time Leavitt has taken a shot at Rodriguez in the past year or so, and this one was totally unprompted.
LOL, no. When not Demanding Excellence, West Virginia boards have been aflame with delicious rumors to the effect that Rodriguez is planning a departure to Clemson. Here's our old friend EERHole declaring it's "more likely to happen than not." This is wack internet speculation clearly derived from West Virginia fans' paranoid revenge fantasies—the Scout board that is EERHole's home now has guys openly questioning the validity of their information—and will be enormously unlikely until such time as it's actually announced.
So that's not that interesting, but what is interesting to me is that Angelique picked up on the internets scuttlebutt and called Rodriguez's agent:
Mike Brown, Rodriguez's agent, dismissed such a scenario.
"Coach Rodriguez has the best job in college football," Brown said Monday afternoon. "He is a very focused 'Michigan Man.' I know 100 percent Clemson University has no intention of contacting coach Rodriguez."
Brown emphasized he is a Clemson graduate and said he has some insight into what is going on with that program, however he declined to be specific.
This all hinges on the idea that Rodriguez hasn't signed his contract yet and could escape without paying another buyout—preposterous, especially given the check M wrote to WVU—and that a Clemson athletic department that just got socked with a major buyout of its own (they just extended Bowden last year(!)) would have the scratch laying around to pick off a coach who would then be marked as a Petrino-level job hopper with all the scorn and recruiting issues that would imply.
Uh… count me in as a doubter.
Etc.: Maybe this Adidas thing was not a good idea? Curses.