that is nice bonus change
ParadigmBlog is it for this go around. Questions follow:
1. We are now 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to shake out. With that in mind, who are your picks to win each of the BCS conferences, as well as your choice for an at-large berth from a non-BCS league (none is an option)?
ACC: Well, Virginia Tech is the obvious choice.
Big 12: Texas.
Ohio State Goddammit. Ohio State.
Big East: [SUCK OVERFLOW ERROR]
Pac 10: Arizona State! Yow!
SEC: The only one that's really a tossup at this point. Tennessee now that they won't be starting Ainge.
At-large: No one.
2. What team currently out of the Top 10
(AP or Coach's, doesn't really matter), of the BlogPoll (duh, sheesh) has the best chance of ending up in the title game?
Arizona State. If they beat USC and finish the year 10-1 you're damn right they'll be the top one loss team. Did I mention the 773 yards?
3. When you're watching a game, what type of fan can you absolutely not tolerate being around?
Morons who are too stupid to realize that they are morons.
"Why do we run it? We should throw it more."
[eight yard run.]
[two yard run, first down.]
"Why do we run it? We should throw it more."
These people, the ones who are constantly complaining about every coaching decision like they're a super genius who just knows better, make me desperately search EBay for a Marvin the Martian-esque castration ray. It's for the good of society.
Also those horrid old women who cry "down in front" during TV timeouts and spend the game talking about gardening.
Bonus: A sizable portion of Michigan fandom is in full meltdown mode (myself especially). Some have chosen to sequester themselves for this weekend's game against MSU to avoid scaring children, causing long-term psychological damage to those in the near vicinity, and most especially to avoid jail (I'm not saying this is me per se). Anyways, we need some help. Give us some ideas for replacements for LLLyd Carr (3 L's for the number of losses per year, and no O this year either). Assistant coaches, head coaches elsewhere, etc. Please, give us something to look forward to.
Jeff Tedford. Each passing Lions game during which I think to myself "Tedford turned Joey Harrington into the third pick in the NFL Draft" increases my slavering desire to see him as the next head coach at Michigan. What can you say about a man who dupes NFL scouts making his noodle-armed, panicked, generally retarded quarterbacks instant millionaires every year? There's only one thing to say: "damn." Add in the fact that he is feasible--having grumbled about the conditions at Cal more than once--unlike a Ferentz or a Meyer and he brings instant California recruiting cred for when USC collapses into its next 20 year dormant period and it's a slam dunk.
Totally not it. Totally.
The only disadvantage is that one of us will have to strangle Rece Davis when he calls Michigan "the Tedheads." Onetwothreenotit.
Other persons I've idly speculated over and possibly have caused me to write "[HEART] [HEART] Brian [COACH LAST NAME]" over and over again in my Hello Kitty notebook:
- Ferentz, obviously.
- Nick Saban after a failure at Miami, solely to watch every single Spartan's head explode.
- Dirk Koetter, who actually makes good clock management decisions.
- Glen Mason. Yes, Glen Mason. Does anyone understand how hard it is to win at Minnesota? There's absolutely no talent base, they have to play in the freaking Metrodome, and they've been historically awful for something like 50 years. I want that Denver Broncos "plug random back into slot, rush for 1,500 yards" running game badly.
|1||10||M6||Run||Martin||4||Wonky signal cuts off most of this play.|
|2||6||M10||Run||Martin||27||Lentz annihilates his guy. By the time Martin flies by him he's 6 yards downfield. Martin makes a good read and shows his speed.|
|1||10||M37||Run||Martin||2||There's like nine guys in the box here! The offensive line does a good job blocking but the ninth guy plunges unblocked makes the tackle. Malone or a missed check by Henne?|
|2||8||M39||Pass||Avant||Inc||Four wide and a slant is open but Henne throws it way, way behind Avant.|
|3||8||M39||Pass||No one||Scramble, 21||Three wide and checking off at the line.. Henne takes off smartly and rolls downfield but there's a dumb holding penalty by Massaquoi.|
|3||1||M46||Run||Grady||1||Good second effort here by Grady to get the first, but Henige pulls right and there's a hole there and Grady goes left, failing to following his blocking.|
|1||10||M47||Penalty||-5||Illegal formation because Massaquoi is like two inches too far back to count as a man on the line. Crappy call. The play was a nice slip screen to Manningham for a first.|
|1||15||M42||Pass||Manningham||3||Same play. Massaquoi misses his block.|
|2||12||M45||Run||Martin||3||Seems like everyone does a decent job blocking but there are no creases.|
|3||9||M48||Pass||Ecker||14||This a duck, but it's an accurate duck. Ecker makes a niiice lunging catch.|
|1||10||O38||Run||Grady||3||Grady's pretty tentative when he reaches the line here.|
|2||7||O35||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne misses a wide open Avant at the 10 yard line.|
|3||7||O35||Pass||No one||Scramble, 8||Okay, it's good he gets the first down on these rushes, but it seems like more evidence he's not totally confident in his arm.|
|1||10||O27||Pass||Avant||21||Avant makes 15 after juking past the DB after a six yard hitch.|
|1||G||O6||Run||Martin||1||Nothing even resembling a hole here.|
|2||G||O5||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne misses... a wide open Avant. Throw is rifled a couple yards over his head when a deft toss would have been a TD.|
|3||G||O5||Run||Grady||4||A counter draw type thing that springs blockers downfield. I really like this call, and it's only a fantastic tackle by Zalewski that keeps Grady out of the end zone. Grady did slice past two Badger defenders before getting to Zalewski. That tackle... dammit.|
|4||G||O1||Run||Grady||0||As reported elsewhere, there's a pull here that gets fouled up when Lentz trips over Kraus. Still the right call.|
|Drive Notes: 0-0, 2:48 left in the first. Three times Henne misses Avant wide open. Our offensive line is only getting a push sporadically.|
|1||10||M34||Run||Martin||4||Makes the right cut here, but since the OL can't seal anyone he's forced to cut back into the linebackers.|
|2||6||M38||Run||Jackson||-1||Again no push from the OL. There's nowhere to run.Kraus just gets shoved back right at the snap.|
|3||7||M37||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Henne throws it low and Breaston can't make the catch, but it wouldn't have been a first down anyway.|
|Drive Notes: 14 min, 2nd quarter, 0-0. If you're counting, that's four poorly thrown balls and two well thrown, not counting the screens.|
|1||10||M41||Pass||Breaston||Inc||Deep ball to a well-covered Breaston that's overthrown.|
|2||10||M41||Pass||Manningham||24||Out route that's jumped by Bell since Henne stared Manningham down. Still got it there, I guess, but man. Manningham gets his customary YAC... kid is a player.|
|1||10||O35||Run||Martin||7||Thompson with a nice block and there's actually a hole to the outside.|
|2||3||O28||Pass||Avant||4||Three step drop and fire taking advantage of the corners playing off Avant.|
|1||10||O24||Pass||Avant||Inc||Misses... a wide open Avant! This time he's in the endzone.|
|2||10||O24||Run||Grady||3||Paul, on the other hand, does not get a good block that could have sprung Grady to the outside.|
|3||7||O21||Pass||No one||Sack, -11||Henige utterly and completely misses his blitz pickup, as he decides to take a linebacker coming from the outside that Grady's got and lets someone come up through the inside unmolested. Henne intentionally grounds it.|
|Drive Notes: 49 yard field goal? No! 44 yard field goal? Yes! Don't go changing, Rivas. 3-0, 10 min 2nd quarter.|
|1||10||M29||Run||Martin||1||EMU style sweep. Not EMU style results. They've got eight in the box again an then two safeties relatively near the line of scrimmage... I'd scream about throwing, but look up.|
|2||9||M30||Pass||Avant||27||Henne misses... a wide open Ava--oh. That was actually totally accurate after a ton of time. Gottfried starts waxing about how Henne made the play and I attempt to strangle him with telepathy.|
|1||10||O43||Run||Martin||1||Another sweep that fails due to tons of people in the box.|
|2||9||O42||Pass||Grady||7||A little dumpoff designed to get Grady on a LB and he makes a nice play to pick up 5 or so yards after the catch.|
|3||2||O35||Run||Grady||12||A hole does open up this time but it seems accidental. In any case, Grady is not tentative this time and flies up through it and makes 4 or 5 YAC.|
|1||10||O24||Pass||Grady||19||Flare screen Michigan's run several times this year to good effect.|
|1||G||O5||Run||Grady||1||Just a wad of players in the middle.|
|2||G||O4||Pass||Avant||Inc||Henne gets nailed as he releases the ball because NO ONE BLOCKS HAYDEN. Otherwise, TD.|
|3||G||O4||Pass||Avant||4||Touchdown. Slant that is accurate.|
|Drive Notes: 4:27 2nd Q, 10-0. Henne is better on this drive but there's only one downfield throw here, the long one to Avant.|
|1||10||M36||Pass||Grady||5||Screen again, but it's read well by the DT(!) Jason Chapman and thus doesn't go for several more.|
|2||5||M41||Run||Martin||4||This sweep is successful-ish because they aren't loading the box.|
|3||1||M45||Run||Martin||17||Breaston gets a nice block on this four wide draw type thing (Stenavich's block is to shove the pass rush of his man 10 yards upfield) and Martin beats a couple Badgers to the corner.|
|1||10||O38||Run||Grady||2||Strange, strange call here with 30 seconds left in the half and one timeout. Especially because Wisconsin still has seven in the box against a three wide, one back set. Missed check? Gottfried CONTINUES to fluff Henne without cause.|
|2||8||O36||Pass||Manningham||30||What a terrible throw, at least ten to fifteen yards short of its intended destination that Manningham adjusts to. You can see Manningham about to get a yard or two of separaton and then coming back for the ball.|
|2||G||O6||Pass||No one||Inc||Henne throws it away. Why not a fade to Avant here?|
|Drive Notes: FG, End of half, 13-3. Much screaming ensued about the FG call, more on that later. Henne was unbelievably lucky to hit that Manningham pass and given the way Carr was talking to him after the timeout, I think he missed a check on the strange run.|
|1||10||M16||Run||Martin||2||There's just no push or hole or crack up front. Period.|
|2||8||M18||Pass||Massaquoi||Inc||Play action and Henne gets hurried and misses Mass. He had Mass for 4 or a first down if he could break the LB's tackle.|
|3||8||M18||Pass||Avant||Inc||Avant drops it. It should be noted that this pass is behind Avant, though still catchable.|
|Drive Notes: 14 min 3rd quarter 13-3. Note NO shell. Ryan 45 yard punt fair caugt, that's what I'm talking about.|
|1||10||M30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Slant that's way behind Avant again.|
|2||10||M30||Pass||Martin||Inc||The much rumored wheel route down the sideline that's broken up by the safety very nicely. If you're blaming henne for throwing it too late... well, you're harsher than I am. Just a nice play.|
|3||10||M30||Pass||Avant||Inc||Batted at the line.|
|Drive Notes: 8 min 3rd quarter 13-6. No shell.|
|1||10||M8||Penalty||5||Offsides on UW. The play was a 1 yard dive with no push from the OL again.|
|1||5||M13||Run||Grady||2||The safety just comes screaming up on the run. Are we tipping our play action?|
|2||3||M15||Run||Grady||5||Finally some push from the line.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Martin||2||Nothing. Again eight guys in the box.|
|2||8||M22||Pass||Avant||18||A nice jailbreak screen for Avant features Kraus plowing his man like 10 yards downfield.|
|1||10||M40||Run||Martin||5||Sweep. Thompson misses Zalewski or Martin gets the corner and somewhere from 10-20 yards.|
|2||5||M45||Pass||Breaston||0||He catches the little screen thing and slips. Had him in position to run after the catch.|
|3||5||M45||Run||Martin||4||Same counter draw we ran on 3rd and goal from the five on the first drive. It again gets four.|
|Drive Notes: 2 min 3rd quarter 13-6. Ryan shanks the punt and it goes approximately 30 yards downfield. Again an execution thing, Breaston's slip, kills the drive. He probably had the first otherwise.|
|1||10||M8||Pass||Avant||9||Another bad throw that Avant manages to scoop off the turf just in time (after review).|
|Drive Notes: Killer. Just killer. 12 min 4th Q, 13-9. No idea what the personal foul on Henige is for.|
|1||10||M20||Run||Grady||3||Again we try to run against an eight man front.|
|2||7||M22||Pass||Avant||Int||Henne throws it right to the UW linebacker.|
|Drive Notes: Head... veins... losing... integrity.|
|1||10||M39||Run||Grady||6||Off tackle and he finds the crease and follows Thompson into the hole.|
|2||4||M45||Run||Grady||6||Cuts it back and gets moving upfield, 3 more YAC.|
|1||10||O49||Pass||Manningham||49||Flea-flicker touchdown, and credit where it's due: this could not have been thrown more beautifully.|
|Drive Notes: 9 min 4th Q, 20-16.|
|1||10||M3||Run||Grady||3||No hole, no push.|
|2||7||M6||Run||Grady||3||Sweep outside to the short side. I dislike this call.|
|3||4||M9||Pass||No one||Inc||Thrown away, ridiculous. If he had come off the three receivers to his right he had Mass open for the first down.|
|Drive Notes: 4 min 4th Q, 20-16.|
|1||10||M44||Pass||Avant||Inc||Behind Avant and knocked down by the DB.|
|2||10||M44||Penalty||-10||Holding on Stenavich.|
Well? We expect knives re: coaching, buddy.
I just don't see it.
This is what is see:
|Team||Dead on||Catchable||Inaccurate||Bad Read||Throwaways||Batted|
Of the 17 passes I flagged as accurate or catchable (note that two completions were flagged "inaccurate": the 30 yard Manningham bomb at the end of the first half and the reviewed Avant slant), seven were screens or short dumpoffs (IE, 5 yards or less). That means when Henne dropped back to pass and actually threw downfield you got ten good (or just acceptable on some of the "accurate" throws) events and fourteen bad ones if you eliminate the two batted passes ("OMG Navarre" people: only one was actually batted. Another throw that was inaccurate because Henne was hit as he threw was inserted here). Scheme and playcalling this: Henne flat missed open receivers 11 times.
He was terrible, and Michigan knew it, and Wisconsin knew it. However, this did not stop Michigan from trying to throw. Look at the beginning of the second half: f ive passes on six plays on our two three-and-outs. The only drive we pieced together came when we stopped trying to throw downfield.
There's other blame to go around: the offensive line was consistently stonewalled by Wisconsin's defensive front. Martin's fumble was an absolute killer. Breaston had a big return wiped out by a Charles Stewart penalty. Manningham dropped a TD. Avant dropped a first down. Henige blew a blitz pickup. But these were isolated events that the offense could have survived if the quarterback wasn't forcing the rest of the offense to play perfectly.
THEY KICKED A FIELD GOAL ON THIRD DOWN.
All right, yes, that was dumb and the explanation proffered on Michigan Replay (Carr did not know the clock was going to be reset from six seconds to nine seconds) further highlights the fact that Carr isn't the sharpest tool in the game theory drawer, but third and goal from the eleven is probably going to be a throwaway anyway in that situation and the end result would have either been the same or an LSU-like screwup that cost us the field goal. A smidgen of expectation was given away but it's not a big deal.
There was a major strategic blunder in this game, but it was on the defensive side of the ball.
#1, #2, #3: Henne. Simply put, if he makes any one of six to eight relatively easy throws we probably win this game.
Also on my bad list are Lentz, Kraus and Henige, who could not get any push up front all night. Henige also contributed a key sack and a key incompletion by deciding not to block people.
Max Martin's fumble... well, fumbles happen, yes. But that turnover is the difference in the game.
Avant, despite the one drop. That's a tougher catch than he'll admit--thrown behind him and a rocket--and the rest of the night he was great. He would have had an even bigger night if Henne had hit him more often. Manningham was also very good when called upon, and the tackles didn't allow any pass rush really.
All right, yes. Gutierrez has to be an option against State if Henne struggles in the first half. We don't have time to screw around with Drew Stanton and company: we need points and we can't abide missing wide open guys. If Henne turns in another stinker and Gutz does not play white knight, I guarantee you can stop by for some good old fashioned Internets Bitching.
So what does this mean for Michigan State?
It means bad. We can't expect a consistent running game against the Spartans since Domata Peko seems to have emerged as a solid DT and our interior OL is soft like kitten. To move the ball consistently we absolutely require consistent quarterback play that Henne has shown no indication he is capable of this year, but he still has to start given his history and talent. We need him to turn it around right goddamn now or we are D-E-D dead.
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Big winner this week is Michigan State again. Funny that a point-a-minute win over lowly Illinois would cause pollsters to rocket the Spartans from #17 to #9, but given how the program historically hates success, I can see it. Minnesota (#16 from unranked), Wisconsin (#17 from unranked), and their crushing ground games make impressive BlogPoll debuts as well. Add in the fact that Michigan State also has a crushing ground game and that Michigan couldn't convert fourth and goal from the one and yes, this is essentially the most depressing paragraph ever for me.
Big losers are Michigan (gone), Louisville (hanging on by the skin of their teeth at #25), Georgia Tech, and Purdue.
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Cal's deviation is falling as doubters like me run out of teams to put in front of them and have to put them in the poll, but they're still #1. The two Big Ten debutants are also high up there.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
Mr. Bold is... Warren St. John? Is this a publicity stunt? Er, upon looking at the ballot, probably not so much. WSJ's main fobiles are a staunch disbelief in Ohio State (my man!), who languish at #15 in his ballot, and LSU, who check it at #20. There's also the matter of Minnesota at #8, beloved 'Bama at #9, and Wisconsin at #11. WSJ is apparently a sucker for an authoritative ground game.
Mr. Numb Existence is the other Authorita-dispensing heavyweight currently deigning to vote, Football Outsiders. As you might expect, FO's ballot is really close to the poll at large.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award has a new home after CU's disappointing loss to Miami: Penn State blogger 50 Yard Lion. It's hard to get on a guy with PSU at #19 given that they're 4-0 and the bottom of the poll is getting really creaky these days, but I saw that NW game... I'd enjoy it while I can. (Not that I have any business talking about how weak anyone's team looks.)
The Straight Bangin' Award can only go to teams that people vote for in quantity, so Straight Bangin' didn't win it this week and probably won't win it until next year's preseason poll. Instead, Georgia blogger Kyle On Football's dawg skepticism nets him the award. Also to be noted is that it's "opposite week" at the BlogPoll: the Enlightened Spartan is now underrating his team relative to the poll at large. Cats and dogs sleeping together! Mass hysteria!
Swing is essentially the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number means that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
Mr. Manic-Depressive is Badger blogger Bruce Ciskie, probably due in no small part to an oversight from last week when he didn't include MSU at all. This week they're #11, a meteoric rise that's paralleled the BlogPoll's. Also showing up for the first time is Alabama. Bruce also severely overrated Louisville and (sigh) Michigan, so he had to hammer them 17 spots each when they lost.
Mr. Stubborn is... uh... probably not actionBERG, since his ballot shows way more wiggle than the 16 total spots the algorithm calculated. Something's broken here. Sorry kids.
Comments welcomed, as always.
|1||Southern Cal||Stiffest test of the year upcoming against throwing fools Arizona State.|
|3||Virginia Tech||Holy crap.|
|4||Florida||Functional DNP vs. UK.|
|5||Arizona State||Another week, another 365 yards for Sam Keller. Clayton Richard is a pitcher. Cruel God strikes again.|
|6||Ohio State||The moral of this year so far is...|
|7||Michigan State||... Christ, did I pick the wrong year to start a blog.|
|9||Tennessee||Do you think Fulmer will tell people Ainge starts this week just to screw with their heads? I would.|
|10||Georgia||Another rather meh performance against a team that should be crushdefied.|
|11||Alabama||Welcome to the section of the poll titled "largely benefited from the carnage around them."|
|12||Miami||And team two.|
|13||LSU||Yeah... Les Miles is no longer on my "desirable Carr successor" list.|
|14||Minnesota||Let it be known that the Gopher ground game is the country's best. This might be the for real year.|
|15||Notre Dame||Did you know Tyrone Willingham was black? Strange but true.|
|16||Boston College||Gutty win. QB situation heading towards dire.|
|17||UCLA||Keep moving those goalposts, Bruins Nation.|
|18||Iowa State||Serious fraud potential here: the Iowa win now looks not-so-thrilling and a game that was undecided until the final possession against Army?|
|19||Purdue||Irrational Boiler love continues. Must be engineering solidarity or something.|
|20||Georgia Tech||Yes, they got nuked but they've still got an impressive resume.|
|21||Cal||Goddammit, I've got no choice but to rank you at this point.|
|22||Texas A&M||DNP... er, Functional DNP against Texas State. Chance of blowout 90%... 95%... 99%... what, wrong show?|
|23||Texas Tech||You still haven't played anyone.|
|25||Virginia||I've nobody left to rank.|
Dropped Out: Louisville(#7), Michigan(#14), NC State(#15), Clemson(#24)
Games I Saw: Michigan-UW, Army-Iowa State, Purdue-Minnesota, large parts of NW-Penn State, large parts of ND-UW, UT-LSU, small parts of UK-UF.
Update: Moved UT from 12 to 9 after someone pointed out that it wasn't a particularly good idea to knock them for a win at LSU even if they did suxor in the first half. (And yes, I still think Purdue is good.)
When my DVRed episode of South Park finished and returned to live TV yesterday, I found myself staring down the unholy maw of ESPN Hollywood. The very beast! It was everything you expected. OMG FUNKY CAMERA ANGLES(!), your standard "we're ripping off Entertainment Tonight" music, and a fluff rating so high cotton candy wouldn't be caught dead with it. I actually found it somewhat funny--though in the same sense I found Henne's self-sacking on the final play of the Wisconsing game funny--that anyone thought ESPN Hollywood was a good idea. Hell, even Pure Evil Marketing People (PEMP? Sounds like a new official acronym... the PEMP juice possibilities are multitude) think ESPN Hollywood is freakin' stupid.
And that's not even the most hilariously strange idea ESPN's had recently. No, that crown goes to "Classic NOW, " which is a "fast-paced, news- and dialogue-driven primetime series [that] will look at current sports events, examining their relevance and putting them in historic perspective." Because that's exactly what ESPN Classic needs: a news show.
(HT: Off Wing Opinion)
I wish I had written... "The Unfortunate Geometry of Chance" over at DC United blog the DCenters. United just had a 3-1 aggregate lead at the forty minute mark of the second leg of an important cup match against a heavily favored South American team. Since the first leg ended 1-1 and DC had scored twice away already, they would win the away-goals first tiebreaker. The only way they could lose would be to concede three in the second half, an epic collapse for any soccer team.
This happened. The DCenters is not pleased, and he wrapped all my thoughts on cursed (accent that e, bitches!) randomness into a lovely post anyone who buys my thinking at all should read.
You're paying for that. Official mgoblog whipping boy Terry Foster has broken my irony meter:
Why Do We Listen to Beno Cook?
Sorry guys. I don't get why Beno Cook matters any more.
He bumbles and stumbles and makes predictions that never come true. Yet ESPN and everybody else parades him around as if he matters.
I say enough of Beno. He's had his moment in the sun.
Hey, at least I get Foster's name right.
I can't get enough of this stuff that DaveSez and his collaborator post on a semi-regular basis. This one's about zone blocking and is totally rad.
Ballots and comments re: ballots go here.