Didn't get any awesome emails this week but there are a few bits from the comments and other blogs. Anyway:
GS's run chart comes to a lot of reassuringly similar conclusions as the UFR did: the left side of Michigan's line struggled against Kapron Lewis-Moore but the right side and Molk got their pwn on; he was way more impressed with the tight ends (8-0=8 combined!) than I was and similarly down on Shaw. More Omameh hype:
Much better from Omameh. The 2* who was a 250 pound DE in high school crushed the 5* all-world linebacker multiple times, with brutal efficiency.
I meant to mention this in the UFR, but BWS also picture-paged some running back inefficiency. This is a key point:
As you can see here, the defensive end is staying high, forcing Denard to hand the ball off. But the Notre Dame linebackers have engaged with the offensive line before they were able to get upfield. If Michigan's linemen were given a free release to the second level, they're fast and smart enough to make the block. But instead, Notre Dame's linebackers were told to plug the holes at the point of attack and make Shaw slow down at the line and pick a hole. In doing so, it gives the weakside defensive end enough time to crash down for the tackle.
Last week against UConn we saw a lot of holes open up; this week ND linebackers were clogging the LOS. I made my position on this clear: Michigan really needed to exploit this tendency more. The other play he cites is the frustrating Shaw dance where this…
…turned into no yards because Shaw cut behind Schilling and then tried to spin to the backside of the play.
Magnus also criticizes the play design of the Te'o sideline to sideline play. Might and Main points out that Stonum got chewed out after the Vincent Smith swing pass that Calabrese killed for a minimal gain on third and seven. This is what I said:
Last week this was paired with a slant and I'm confused why it's not this week. ND is in man-to-man for once and the deeper hitch is covered by the CB, leaving the flare open; accurate, but Calabrese is all over it for minimal gain. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
Given the reaction of RR, it's likely this was supposed to be a slant after all.
Didn't get much feedback this week, but here's Magnus making a valid criticism of the 53-yard touchdown breakdown:
Rogers shouldn't get a -1 for the 53-yard TD pass to TJ Jones. Here's why:
In a Cover 2 defense, the flat defender (Rogers) is supposed to play any receiver in his zone. If no receiver enters his area, he's supposed to gain depth. On that play, an underneath receiver entered the flat zone; furthermore, the QB was rolling to his side. When a QB rolls to the flat defender's side, there will always be a receiver in the flat - that's just how plays are drawn up. So when that receiver enters his zone, Rogers had to suck up closer to the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, Cam Gordon's job is to play the deepest man on his half of the field. Whether one, two, or three receivers enter his zone, he has to play the one who runs farthest down the field. It was a well designed play to pick on an inexperienced safety. Gordon got caught looking in the backfield and didn't see TJ Jones streaking up the sideline. By the time Jones came open, he was no longer the responsibility of James Rogers - that was all Cam Gordon.
This is the exact reason that Michigan wants to run a lot of Cover 3. Gordon doesn't have the speed/experience to cover a deep half, and Kovacs doesn't have the athleticism to make a play on the ball, either.
On the other hand, this seems reasonable to me too:
Magnus, I think you should look at the video again......Rogers doesn't even react to the fact that both receivers are going vertical. He almost immediately looks up #3 and starts to jump the route (completely disregarding his coverage duties).
Rogers was the one caught looking in the backfield. He should be reading 2 to 1. When 2 gets vertical, he should immediately get into phase on #1. He jumped the flat route and disregarded the fact that 2 receivers had gone vert, putting Cam on an island.
Who is right? Video:
I can see it either way. It's tough to zone up when you've only got six guys in the coverage, and Rogers was faced with a choice of sinking back on the vertical routes, leaving Rudolph wide open, or leaving Gordon one-on-one with two guys. From his play it looks like he's not even considering dropping back into coverage, which is either a major bust on his part or just the way the D is drawn up. Either way I should have RPS –2ed the play.
Magnus also disagrees with my minusing the linebackers on Armando Allen's nine-yard run off tackle late (the play before the epic Mouton hold:
By alignment, it looks like Kovacs has outside contain to the bottom of the screen. He steps down to get a jam on the TE and replace his feet, but he then gets caught inside. If Kovacs can keep contain here (like he did earlier in the game when he fought off a block from the pulling OT), he's funneling the running back to the inside.
If Kovacs holds the edge, Mouton is stepping up to take on the pulling OL. Ideally, Mouton would stuff up the OL, cut his legs, or take him on with the inside shoulder and force the RB further inside. But Mouton gets caught up in the wash of Kovacs getting blown down the line.
Meanwhile, Ezeh is scraping unblocked and would presumably make the tackle after a minimal gain.
This is plausible, but it's hard to see how Kovacs can possibly maintain contain when he's one guy lined up opposite two ND tight ends and the fullback. This is bad defense design and should have been RPS-1ed.
He wasn't on the roster yesterday and now it's official:
Sources close to the U-M football program have confirmed that true freshman Davion Rogers, a linebacker out of Warren, Ohio, is no longer with the program. Rogers, a 6-6, 205-pounder, came to U-M out of Warren G. Harding High School.
No idea why. Rogers reportedly had a Clearinghouse issue earlier this fall so it may be related to that. He wasn't going to play this year since he's skinnier than Roy Roundtree but seemed to have a lot of long-term potential; his departure is another hit to the APR, which seems like it will inevitably drop below 925 now at some point, and another hit to the depth of the defense. Michigan's most recent class has now lost Austin White, Demar Dorsey, Conelius Jones, Antonio Kinard, and Davion Rogers just a month into their freshman years. At some point this has to stop happening, right?
UPDATE: The News confirms and gets someone saying that it was a clearinghouse issue, which means it shouldn't impact Michigan's APR. Tim pointed out that if he was out before the drop/add deadline he wouldn't have counted against the APR anyway. Still, Michigan and Rodriguez have to do a better job of identifying players who will get on campus.
Shirtpocalypse. So if you've gone to the MGoStore you've noticed that there isn't much of it left. This is why:
We have been ordered to remove many MGoStore designs by the University of Michigan. They feel that these designs violate NCAA compliance rules as well as certain University trademarks. As a thank you for your support of Brian, MGoBlog, and the MGoBlog Store, receive 10% off any purchase at www.moesportshops.com by using the code: mgoblog10
Thank you for your understanding and support and we appreciate your patience as we figure all of this out and continue to provide you with unique apparel. Go Blue!
This is extremely frustrating, but Underground sells licensed apparel and has no choice but to comply. It's not quite as bad as it looks since they threatened but did not actually C&D a number of designs that were pulled yesterday, including stuff like "Worst State Ever"; these will return shortly. Anything player-specific, no matter how oblique, is out unless it's an officially-licensed #16 jersey. We can't do anything but stew about it, unfortunately. Sorry for the lack of warning.
The one thing you can do is take pictures of those stupid t-shirt stands (you know, the ones with "MICHIGAN DRINKING" shirts) that ripped off several MGoDesigns when they have player-specific merch and send it to the U. They deserve pain, too.
Big Ten Hockey less a possibility, more a certainty. Barry Alvarez, always the first guy to tell the world about potentially seismic changes in conference realignment, on Wisconsin's position:
“I don’t know the logistics — how long it takes to get out of a league, all of that — but I sense that we will move in that direction,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Thursday.
Madison.com also cites a source close to the process saying the same thing:
“There’s going to be Big Ten hockey,” assured a source with intimate knowledge of the process, adding that 2014-15 is the target point for introducing the new league although he said “it could happen sooner than that.”
A six-team league would presumably play 20 conference games, leaving 14-16 nonconference games for the defectors to spread out amongst former league-mates. A ten-team WCHA featuring Denver, Colorado College, and North Dakota would still be a power conference, and a nine- or ten-team CCHA (depending on whether they reconsider Alabama-Huntsville) would still have new arenas and elite coaches at ND and Miami to guarantee themselves respectability. Hopefully any move to Big Ten hockey will make an effort to preserve existing programs with scheduling agreements and guaranteed home games for the Ferris States and Northern Michigans of the world; the last thing college hockey needs is more programs folding.
One thing that's being kicked around that you probably won't see: Notre Dame in the BTHC. The Big Ten is not going to throw Notre Dame a bone if they don't have to, and making that move would further damage the leftover CCHA schools I assume everyone wants to protect. I bet Michigan still has a home-and-home with them most years, but they aren't going to be in the conference.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Steve Breaston in two questions. Via the Arizona Republic:
Question: Do you have any hidden talents none of your teammates knows about? You know, like can you play jazz flute?
Breaston: I can write. I'm a writer. I post a lot of stuff on my fan page on Facebook. Oh, and I can bend my thumb behind my knuckles like this. Look.
Q: Pretty cool, but that's a little creepy. Did you have some sort of freak accident as a kid or what?
A: No, no. My thumbs are just like that.
Also, Breaston's favorite baseball team is Pittsburgh. Jeez.
Optimism from Massachusetts. Except not really:
Q: What's the best case/worst case scenario for UMass? In other words, what needs to happen for the Minutemen to win? How does a blowout happen?…
A blowout seems more plausible. UMass hasn't faced a good dual-threat quarterback in a while, and if Robinson gets going early, things could unravel fast. The Minutemen can't afford to turn the ball over. Naturally, if they can avoid falling behind early, their confidence goes up. An early hole could drain their belief in their ability to win pretty fast.
It's so nice to have people saying things like this, even if they're a I-AA beat writer.
Etc.: The MZone's Know Your Foe returns! This is just like when we used to go to bowl games! FSD talks to Denard's mom, who says he runs like Grandpa, which is a terrifying thing to think. Tom reports that 2011 OL Chris Bryant and his 2012 teammate Jordan Diamond will be unofficial visitors tomorrow. I will remind you about this again but Phil Brabbs is having a fundraising event in Chicago for the Indiana game.
[Ed: Bumped for the line change info on Michigan's major step forward in Vegas. Since Vegas lines are year-in, year-out the most accurate prediction mechanisms available, this is heartening. Perhaps too heartening. BTW: Jamie and his merry band of degenerate gamblers cover all manner of things at Just Cover.]
Before getting into the meat of what will be a quick hitting MGoDiary, let's clean some things up from last week.
I might make a decent oddsmaker after all. Those four prop bets I came up with for the ND/Michigan game sure did confound people. Only one person did better than 2-2 and that was MGoTim, who checked in a 3-1. I guess it pays to be an insider. Not sure what his prize should be. Maybe a day off from cat chasing duties? Or a day where his posts get to breathe for two hours without a post on top of it? He certainly doesnt need the MGoPoints. In that same diary, I listed all the actual props that sports books had up for the Notre Dame game. A few brave souls put their necks out on the line and picked each one. And, you know what? They did pretty well, considering the number of props out there. Special kudos goes to Clarence Beeks who went 10-2-1 on his prop selections. Somebody get that man to Vegas, STAT. But, it's really no surprise. He's a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, so you know he is sharp as a tack. Nice work, Mr Beeks. Now, how are those Orange futures looking? Please advice.
Also, over at the JCB, the Pick-4 game for the week is up. Check it out. If you havent played yet, no worries. Jump on in. Once Ocotber rolls around there will be more points available to allow you to catch up, so dont worry if you're behind and just starting the contest this week. We'vre having a fun time with this and the more, the merrier.
On to the UMASS game. A lot of folks dont realize that the oddsmakers do release lines for FCS vs FBS teams. Some places will even have full betting boards for the FCS vs FCS games throughout the year. Just about everyone of them will have lines for all the levels of college football playoffs, too. That comes in handy every year when I wake up shaking that second Saturday of December with no bigtime college football to bet on anymore. Dont think for a second that that's the deepest we can go into depravity. I've noticed that 5dimes is also offering high school football lines for the bigger games across the country. No way, will I ever bet those. That's just being a degenerate. No way. Well, maybe if its the only game on TV. Or if there's some value in the line, maybe. But, you have to be a pretty dark soul to go this route. Completely unrelated, does anyone know who is starting for Hoover, Alabama at quarterback?
As of now, Michigan is favored tomorrow by 28.5 points. It's been a weird week tracking this line. At the start of the week, 5dimes listed it as just Michigan -21. That must have been a misprint, or they got hammered with so much Michigan money, because they took the line off the board for several hours and by Tuesday afternoon the line had ballooned up to 29.5 points. It crept to 30.5 by that evening. The line has been steadily coming down ever since. It was lodged at Michigan -27.5 for a couple of days before settling in at the 28.5 number this morning, with an Over/Under total of 51.5. THAT looks enticing. Two out of every three games in the Rodriguez Era have gone over the total, but none have this year. Should we play the percentages and expect an Over? With that out of the way, let me quickly rattle of the mock props for tomorrow.
Tate Forcier/Devin Gardner, total combined yards: O/U 250.5
Ray Vinopal, total combined tackles, INTs, PBUs: O/U 5.5
Fiztgerald Toussiant, total rushing yards: O/U 80.5
Will A Michigan Freshman Intercept A Pass: Yes/No
Jeremy Gallon, total yards, including returns: O/U 120.5
Try your hand at those.
I intended on waxing philosophical all the Denard Show, but what more can I really add at this point? For the second straight week, he produced a game and some plays I've never really seen from a Michigan QB before in the 30+ years I've been watching. Damn impressive so far. I say we sit back and enjoy the show. And work on our own dreads.
His emergence has also had a major impact on the odds for Michigan. The most notable being the fact that Denard is now one of the betting favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Terrelle Pryor is technically the chalk at 3.5 to 1, but Denard is the second favorite bet at 4.5 to 1. Not bad for somebody who wasnt even on the board ten days ago. Kellen Moore is 8/1 and a series of players including Cam Newton, Mark Ingram and Ryan Mallett are at 10/1. Tate Forcier, by the way, remains on the board as a 30/1 shot to win the trophy. FACT: THAT MIGHT BE A SUCKER BET.
Michigan has also shifted from a 100/1 shot to win the BCS National Title all the way down to 30/1. That's a pretty big swing. We've also seen the pointspreads for Michigan's Big 10 showdowns start moving in the Wolverine's favor, some rather significantly. Here are where the Big 10 lines stand right now.
- Michigan -5.5 vs MSU (Line was UM -3 over the summer)
- Michigan pick 'em vs Iowa (Line was UM +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +3 at Penn State (Line was +10 over the summer.......oh, to have a +10 ticket in our pockets right now)
- Michigan -1 vs Wisconsin (Line was Michigan +3 over the summer)
- Michigan +13.5 at OSU (Line was Michigan +15.5 over the summer)
Denard is having an impact. The public wants to bet Michigan again. The average line movement since the season started is 3.7 points in Michigan's favor. I fully expect the MSU line to be -7 come game day. The others will continue to move towards Michigan. If you want to play the Homer card and bet Michigan, get these lines now before more value gets sucked out of it. For the the first time in the Rodirguez Era in Ann Arbor, bookies are adjusting lines to stem the amount of money rolling in on the Wolverines. That's progress, babby! And, it's a great thing to see.
[Ed: I cannot believe Michigan is actually a favorite against Wisconsin. The betting public now has Michigan at 8-2-1 on the season, which will be a neat trick.]
Editor's note: not that you should ever boo anything to do with a body-bag team—seriously save that stuff for actual rivals—but UMass's band director just died. So don't boo them.
|WHAT||Michigan vs UMass|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
|WHEN||Noon Eastern, September 18th 2010|
|THE LINE||Michigan by 27.5 (thx: jamiemac)|
|WEATHER||low 70s, scattered showers,
wind 10 MPH
Run Offense vs. UMass
After two games against solid BCS AQ teams, Michigan is averaging 287 yards per game at 5.6 yards a pop, good for seventh nationally. Everyone ahead of them has clubbed at least one total patsy, most of them two. Michigan's ground game is sort of good. You can read that as "Denard Robinson is sort of good" if you want.
Meanwhile, UMass is 10th in rushing defense in their division after playing two good I-AA foes. Meaningful? Eh… probably not. Holy Cross's first game was a 38-7 win against Howard in which they racked up 91 yards on 21 carries; William and Mary went for 157 on 47 carries against UMass. While they did well against those opponents there's a big difference between 4 YPC I-AA running games and the mystery that is Denard Robinson.
Michigan's had limited production from the tailbacks, though they haven't been given many opportunities. UMass will be an opportunity for Mike Cox, Fitzgerald Toussaint, and Stephen Hopkins to get some carries and hopefully get some production that might see Michigan's non-Robinson run game pose more of a threat in the Big Ten season.
Key Matchup: Robinson running away from people. Yeah, it'll happen.
Pass Offense vs. UMass
UMass has decent numbers here, too, 33rd in efficiency and 48th in yardage after two games. They've only got one sack, though, and don't figure to get any against Robinson unless they've got a death wish and blitz a lot.
Michigan will probably use the passing game as a sidelight. While they were almost 50-50 run/pass against Notre Dame much of that was the necessity of the last drive and Notre Dame's extreme overcommitment to the run. Against UConn Michigan was happy to grind the ball into the line time and again; they'll probably do the same here. Look for the same kind of stuff we've seen so far: hitches, seams, flare routes, some screens. New packages are not going to be deployed against a I-AA team.
Key Matchup: Denard versus air under the ball.
Run Defense vs. UMass
So here are some highlights and stuff:
Most of Notre Dame's yards were a result of Armando Allen turning the nothing Michigan's defensive line gave him into something by being way better this year than he was last year. That or Ryan Van Bergen crashing down when Notre Dame ran the midline zone read. The linebackers look better, Mike Martin is headed for beast status if he's not already there, and the spur and bandit have played well. Cam Gordon's weakness in the air has not been coupled with weakness on the ground: there have been no incidents where a filling safety took a bad angle and gave up a touchdown.
UMass, meanwhile, has a considerable amount of beef on their line for a I-AA team. Each starter is over 300 pounds, which has helped them grind out 223 yards per game in their first two. UMass's offensive stats against Holy Cross are eerily similar to Michigan's against Notre Dame: the QB threw 38 times (instead of 40), completed 25(24) for 293 yards(244); the team ran 53 times for 232 yards (41 for 288). And despite putting well over 500 yards up they only came away with 37 points.
UMass does not have a feature back but split the carries between Jonathan Hernandez, a senior who had 577 yards last year, and John Griffin, a senior seeing his first action this year. (He probably transferred from somewhere.)
Key Matchup: Mike Martin vs UMass interior line. Kill crush destroy!
Pass Defense vs. UMass
Richie Havens was pick-happy a year ago, throwing 15 to only 9 touchdowns, but has been much more efficient in 2010, completing 65% of his passes for 8.3 YPA, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. The competition will step up (at least slightly) this weekend. Anthony Nelson, presumably another transfer, has been the favorite target so far with 13 catches. Six more targets have at least three catches: UMass spreads it around.
Michigan, meanwhile, did very well against Notre Dame when the free safety wasn't making a painful rookie error. It's not hard to see another one or two (hopefully one) of those happening, and since Michigan seems hell-bent on a bend-don't-break style an array of three-man rushes and outside dinking could see UMass put together a drive or three. With Brandon Herron out with an ankle injury, Michigan won't be able to put Craig Roh on the line. This will provide UMass more time; Greg Banks is not in Roh's class as a pass rusher.
Key Matchup: Cam Gordon versus himself.
Guh. Guh guh guh. Guuuuuuuuuuh. Eye of the tiger!
Anyway: Michigan missed field goals from 39 and 40 yards, replacing Brendan Gibbons with Seth Broekhuizen for the final extra point and forcing me to look up Broekhuizen's last name for the fifth time. Maybe if I write it enough (Broekhuizen!) I'll remember it. Rodriguez declared the kicking job "wide open" during the week.
Meanwhile, uber-punter Will Hagerup got in his first extended action, shanking all manner of punts but still coming out of the ND game with a 34 yard net thanks to some kind rolls and no returns. Hopefully that was just a matter of nerves. The ones that went straight were pretty decent.
Returns were dull. Jeremy Gallon fair caught almost all of them; Darryl Stonum didn't do anything inspiring with the kickoffs.
Despite all this, Michigan might have an advantage. UMass is averaging a breathtakingly low 24 yard net on their punts and their punter's gross is just 34. That guy doubles as their kicker and is 1/1 on the year.
Key Matchup: HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL.
Kittens are not warranted for double digit spreads or games in which there isn't even a spread. But here's this:
Also here is a pika:
- Anyone gets hurt.
- Denard's passing regresses somehow.
- The secondary gives up more long bombs.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- Cox or Fitzgerald looks sweet at tailback.
- Some backup linebackers get in and look okay.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 1 (Baseline 5; –1 for Denard!, –1 for Against A Team Who's Best Player Transferred From Syracuse!, –1 for And Is Basically An Adolescent Seal, –1 for Also All The Rest Of Our Players Would Start For This Team Without Exception, –1 for And You Can't Put This Offense In A Shell, +1 for Never Forget.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for Never Forget, +1 for Hey Let's Just Blow It All To Hell Why Don't We, +1 for Rodriguez Repercussions: Devastating, +1 for This Would Be Worse Than The Sex And The City Movie, Which I Did End Up Half Watching When It Was On HBO And Could Not Turn Off Because I Was Trying To Figure Out If It Was The Worst (Technically, Morally, Ethically) Piece Of Purported Entertainment To Ever Be Produced, Eventually Settling On "Yes," But It Would Be Second If Michigan Somehow Lost To UMass After Everything We've Been Through And The Hope We Were Just Handed, +1 for That Last One Probably Deserves A +2)
Loss will cause me to... Cave. Beard. Rolling around on floor in own feces. No electricity ever. Look like Saddam eventually. Wish for a similarly merciful end.
Win will cause me to... shrug.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Denard goes for a half, breaking one long touchdown run. Everyone is slightly, secretly disappointed he doesn't do more.
- Yes, Devin off the bench first.
- Cam Gordon does one more thing that is very concerning.
- Michigan, 42-17.