it's a major award
From left #3, #24, #23. [Fuller]
Come tailgate, support kids. A reminder that you can join us and former players tomorrow at the Go Blue Bowl Tailgate organized by Marlin Jackson's organization (specifically through the efforts of an extraordinary lady named Kat Mills). This is for charity so suggested minimum donation of $5 if you're just coming for the Q&A and more if you plan to drink beer and hang for awhile.
A couple of Marlin's high donors deserve recognition: Huron Valley Financial, the Bank of Ann Arbor, and MDen. Christians Catering is bringing food, and the Beer Grotto in Dexter is providing the beer. Full details at the link.
If you ask me, it's better to go. Everyone wants to do something to demonstrate that Michigan fans are fed up with a director who treats this program like his personal play toy, and that the public who do own this public institution are sick of it being hoarded, and its name besmirched by dishonesty and obfuscation (Best & Worst).
But for the record, I'm not in favor of boycotts, walkouts, late arrivals, or any other form of protest in which the protestors miss a snap, because I think it misses the target while undermining the one thing we all care about the most.
I know after the Minnesota game that Brian called for a boycott of Maryland if Brandon and Hoke were still here, and I know what name's on my paychecks. I know the players aren't made of glass, and that they're well aware that the vitriol toward the people in charge is not directed at them, although they generally take attacks on their coaches personally (they chose them after all).
But I didn't know until fairly recently why it's so important to them that fans show up: To a player, fans equal energy. Human brains are not wired to grant conscious access to the body's full capacity. Put a hungry lion behind the 20th fastest man on the planet and Usain Bolt will be left in his dust. Whatever our expectations for athletes we paid massive sums to see, they cannot escape their own psychology.
CSG president Bobby Dishell's heart is in the right place, but he's wrong: you're not hurting the players; you're hurting their performance.
Athletes draw motivation from the crowd. Michigan Stadium's size is a huge recruiting tool because an athlete brain understands intuitively that 109,000 shouting faces will get more out of him than 84,000. The number gets in their heads, but empty seats do as well. Go watch September baseball at a bad team's venue long after they've been eliminated: it's crap. Every play that your seat is empty contributes a tiny bit to Michigan (and, coincidentally, their opponent) playing a bit worse.
Weigh that against the maximum that you will realistically move the decision of Mark Schlissel. Your empty seat speaks, but you can also be in that seat screaming "Go!" at Blue to the furthest extent of your vocal capacity whenever they take the field or need a boost, and screaming "Fire Brandon!" whenever he starts trying to blast you. I think we can get that message across while taking a cue from old blue, and using this weekend to show the players we haven't checked out on them. You can make a statement with where you choose to put your ass, but that's hardly the most effective communicative tool in your anatomical package.
Here's what I suggest we do tomorrow: From the moment the band finishes marching off until kickoff chant "Let's Go Blue!" as loud as you fucking can. At the end of the the game, win or lose, stand in your seat and chant "Let's Go Blue!" AS LOUD. AS. YOU. FUCKING. CAN. In between, scream your head off on Penn State 3rd downs, boo the attendance lie, and sprinkle in "Fire Brandon!" as necessary.
Let's leave Hoke alone, since it does us no good if he loses the team now, and his fate is sealed to his record (Ron Utah with some candidate grades) so any more dogging from us is superfluous. ST3 made the case that the coaching staff has cost Michigan perhaps three wins with strategic errors: dumb-punting vs. Utah, starting Shane, and giving Rutgers that end-of-1st-half drive. I think it's more accurate to say that these coaching errors put Michigan at a small strategic disadvantage, and that the team is not so good that it can win without every scrap of advantage it can get.
Yes, showing up and laying off the coach is what Dave Brandon wants you to do. Fuck him; we come to root for Michigan.
[Jump: clans, coaches, etc.]
FORMATION NOTES: Rutgers did some weird stuff. On a number of snaps they'd start off looking like an over, then move a LB down into a three-tech like spot while flaring a DE out. I called those under fronts, and since Rutgers is pretty small all over it was just a way to sow confusion. An example; Rutgers shifted from this:
There's a standup 3-tech and an "ILB" who is actually a cornerback. It's a bit weird.
They also ran some more conventional under looks.
For its part Michigan went back to a heavy dose of gun. Removing three goal line plays, Michigan had 42 shotgun snaps to 13 under center. (A couple of those were goal to go runs from the 5 and 2, respectively, FWIW). This was not a panacea but did happen to coincide with Michigan's best rushing output against a Power 5 team not named Indiana in a long time.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Line was Cole/Glasgow/Miller/Kalis/Braden the whole way. Green got the bulk of the RB snaps until he was knocked out; Smith and Hayes got the rest. WRs and TEs as usual, though Butt is working his way into considerably more playing time as the season progresses.
[After THE JUMP: torchclowns, multiple torchclowns]
Previously: Penn State Offense
Anthony Zettel had himself a day.
While Penn State's offense isn't faring well this year, the opposite is the case for the defense, which ranks 17th in Football Outsiders' S&P+ rankings—9th in rushing and 21st in passing, so they're balanced, as well. They looked the part against Rutgers, picking off Gary Nova five times, shutting down a Rutgers running attack that still boasted Paul James at the time, and ultimately holding the Scarlet Knights to a mere ten points.
Personnel: Unlike the offense, this is a very experienced group, with only one underclassman even cracking the starting lineup. DE Deion Barnes is, in fact, a returning starter (his circle is left unfilled in the diagram, but that's a mistake on our part), while both DTs saw extensive action and a couple spot starts in 2013 [click the diagram to embiggen]:
There's plenty of talent on this group, too, with three former top 250 recruits and a couple others who didn't miss that distinction by much.
Base Set? 4-3 under, though PSU doesn't bother to denote a strongside and weakside linebacker. OLBs Brandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman are pretty much interchangeable—both will line up as the nominal SLB and they can each play over a slot receiver—so they just stick to the left and right side, respectively. When PSU goes nickel, usually against 4 WR sets, strong safety (and former corner) Adrian Amos moves into the slot, with backup safety Malik Golden taking his place on the back line, like so:
For the most part, PSU keeps their base set on the field—they run enough zone coverage that it isn't a big issue for their outside linebackers to play over slot receivers.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
The old king is dead; long live the king Mike Pettigano is the Penn State blogfather; it was he who years ago united much of their internet presence into the now-defunct LinebackerU. Most of those guys, including Mike, have retired from blogging for real-ish jobs. For the last couple of years we've been publishing an HTTV-like book for PSU fans together. So I hit him up for a VEQ/sadface party.
The old king is dead; long live the king
Mike Pettigano is the Penn State blogfather; it was he who years ago united much of their internet presence into the now-defunct LinebackerU. Most of those guys, including Mike, have retired from blogging for real-ish jobs. For the last couple of years we've been publishing an HTTV-like book for PSU fans together. So I hit him up for a VEQ/sadface party.
I am bolded, Mike is not.
Before we spend too much time on this, do you have a fully operational football team that can play football? Because if the answer's "Yes," we can stop now and all get a full night's sleep.
No. Let's proceed...
Let's talk about that offensive line. What happened? Did you, like, spend two years firing Rich Rodriguez, then try to install an offense that isn't anything like what the sparse upperclassmen were recruited to run, and is too complicated for the young guys to figure out?
[inhales deeply] When Bill O'Brien arrived in 2012, Penn State had 15 offensive linemen, too many for BO'B's taste, so he recruited only 5 over the next two classes. One of those five guys moved to defense after arriving at PSU. That's four OL's signed in two classes. When the sanctions hit and the free-transfer went into affect, 4 linemen transfered or left the team, another in the 2012 class transferred, and one from the 2013 class left the team. This spring, Anthony Alosi was kicked off the team. That's 7 scholarship linemen gone out of 13 over the last three years.
The biggest blow to this position actually came when Miles Dieffenbach, a 23-game starter at guard, tore his ACL. If you're remembering correctly, it was the guard that blocked his own man vs Northwestern two weeks ago. Dieffenbach could have potentially changed the entire composition of this year's offensive line. This week he won't' be back, but possibly for Ohio State, not that it'll matter. Penn State is now hoping to get through this season with a few more wins, while frantically figuring out which of this year's freshmen could start next year. Herb Hand is an unbelievably talented offensive line coach. But dude, I feel bad for him this year.
Today was ugly...that is MY fault. We WILL get better because we have GREAT young men w/ POSITIVE attitudes that aren't afraid to WORK.
— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) September 27, 2014
[After the jump: this all sounds very familiar]
What will happen and when?
Obviously, the central issue to our entire fanbase is what is going to happen to Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke, and if something is going to happen to either, when. You have obviously posted at length about your opinions about what SHOULD happen, and I am excited to see part II of your coaching candidates series. But, unless I missed it, I have not seen you post anything about what you believe WILL happen.
Specifically, based upon where we stand now (2-4, 0-2) what is your expectation as to (1) whether Brandon will be removed, (2) whether Hoke will be fired, and (3) if you believe that either is gone, when. I think that many of us would also be interested in your opinion as to how the events that will transpire over the remaining 8 weeks of the regular season could impact that decision. (For example, there is a thread on the board now asking what would happen if we win out).
I know that you are probably getting millions of emails on the topic, but I know that many of us would really be interested in knowing your opinions on this topic.
Thanks, as always, and despite everything, Go Blue!
I just don't know. I'm only answering this because I get a lot of emails to this effect; usually if I can't answer something reasonably I just say so privately and that's it. But… yeah, I don't know.
One thing I've learned is that insider information is often colored by the desires of the source; slap one degree of separation between that source and you and then it seems really true and important. This is not so important when someone has a broken bone; it is vastly so when political infighting is involved. So I don't take a whole lot of stuff about Hoke staying seriously; I know it's popped up on premium message boards here and there. There's a faction amongst the old program alums who can't stand to be as flagrantly wrong as they were and will swear up and down that Hoke can be saved.
He can't. Anyone who watches his team knows that this is a disorganized mess and in year four that goes back to one guy and one guy only. There is no expectation this would get better, and in that light the successful Hoke years look like flukes born of disproportionate talent and flat-out luck, as Michigan's 2011 was.
I guess Michigan could run the table but any reasonable season projection gets you to 7-6 at best and that is a firing, if only because whoever the AD is will know that continuing with Hoke is going to be an inflection point on season ticket sales.
As far as Brandon, I do not know. I've read all there is to read and heard all there is to hear and what is clear is that here is some sort of serious support for the guy that centers around Stephen Ross and his dollars and drops off almost immediately after that. If this was a democracy he'd be booted in an 80-20 election; it is not.
I would have faith that the people around the president who have his ear because of dolla dolla bill y'all would eventually be able to come to this conclusion:
- Someone else would be about as good at continuing the things who make the people in the AD support him
- Anyone else would be less toxic to fans and especially students.
Even if you somehow believe that guy whose PR stunts will literally go in a textbook under what not to do is the best guy for the job, the next best guy for the job is 99% as capable and isn't loathed by half the Michigan fanbase. This flies in the face of our nation's CEO fetishization, but here it's undeniable.
Logic then demands I say that both guys will be gone by the end of the year, but logic ain't got nothing to do with it.
As to the timing, Hoke's not gone until after the OSU game. If he was going to get the axe immediately it would have been after the Minnesota game. Short of that happening again, he's got the rest of the year. Michigan may announce he's done before OSU, a la Earle Bruce; functionally he's your guy the rest of the year.
Brandon could go at any time. I hear that there are some meetings coming up in the next week that could be the impetus for his dismissal, but as long as Stephen Ross is backing the guy it's going to be pulling teeth.
[After THE JUMP: define risk in re: coaching candidates.]
About Last Week:
You wreeeeeeecked me
The Road Ahead:
Penn State (4-1, 1-1 B1G)
Last game: Bye
Recap: No recap. Bye.
This team is as frightening as: We’re sticking with 2013 Michigan, right down to putting in a International War Crimes Tribunal-worthy offensive performance against Northwestern. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: 2013 Michigan could probably kick the crap out of 2014 Michigan.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: There’s no way Christian Hackenberg can be as effective as Gary Nova.
When they play Michigan: WE’RE BOYCOTTING. Or maybe not. Or maybe we’re STARTING OUT by boycotting, but then we’re going. Or maybe we’ve been boycotting for like three years by showing up late every week. I’m not really sure.
Next game: at Michigan (PSU +2), 7:00 Saturday (ALL OF THE LIGHTS), ESPN2
Michigan State (4-1, 1-0 B1G)
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 27-22
Recap: Michigan State was in full control of this game through three quarters. They led 27-3, had outgained Nebraska more than two-to-one (355-176), and had allowed only one of Nebraska’s 14 drives to exceed 40 yards. Then the fourth quarter happened.
Nebraska put together touchdown drives of 43 and 68 yards, and De'Mornay Pierson-El rreturned a Mike Sadler punt 62 yards. Nebraska eventually got the ball back at its own 20 with 1:07 left down 5* points, and completed a 43 yard pass to the Michigan State 37 before Tommy Armstrong threw a pick to effectively end the game.
This had all the hallmarks of a Sparty No, and yet Michigan State came out on top. So, you can spin this two ways: either (a) this is a positive sign for Michigan fans, as it shows Sparty still has that gene, or (b) this is a sign of continued DOOOOM for Michigan, as Sparty showed that when faced with the chance to Sparty No, this current generation of Spartans finds a way to not blow it. Based on the way this year has gone, you know where to place the smart money.
One minor thing that DID go wrong in East Lansing: most of the students bailed when the game was 27-3, causing much consternation in the Athletic Department.
Finally. A chance for Michigan to reclaim the moral high ground…
Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor News
Dammit. Why must we fail at every attempt at masonry.
*Can we talk game tactics for a second here? When Nebraska scored a TD with about 13:00 left to make the game 27-9, they went for two and failed. This left them down 18 instead of 17. They were trying to make the game TECHNICALLY a two score game, but 16 points is basically a 3 score game. That (combined with another failed 2 point conversion after a subsequent TD) left Nebraska down five points late instead of 3, which makes a big difference. Nebraska almost reached field goal range with just over 30 seconds left; they reached the MSU 37, which would be about a 54 yarder, so they probably only needed another 5 to 10 yards. So, I ask you: did they do the right thing?
This team is as frightening as: Super Mario. There is some debate whether Mario is currently Invincibility Star Mario or Fireball Mario, or just regular ol’ Big Mario. When you’re a Goomba, it is of little consequence.
(Michigan is the Goomba).
Fear Level = 9.93
Michigan should worry about: Tony Lippett. He’s averaging over a hundred yards receiving per game at 21 yards per catch, and has scored a TD in every game (he’s got 7 through 5 games).
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Don’t worry. It will all be over soon.
When they play Michigan: My fellow Americans, recent events have forced many fans to dig deep into their savings to cover unexpected losses. If we don’t act now, the Sparty Game Booze Trust Fund will only remain solvent for another week, leaving our most vulnerable fans at risk of severe sobriety at a crucial time. Together we must work to correct this injustice.
Next game: at Purdue (MSU -22), 3:30 Saturday, ABC
[AFTER THE JUMP: Lookin' for wins in all the wrong places...]