The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
WELP! When you're 2-4 and a home dog to a Penn State team starting a discarded gyro and a red solo cup at guard it may be time to see what's out there in terms of possible replacements.
Previously: the Power 5 head coaches, which at this point is just DAN MULLEN DAN MULLEN DAN MULLEN.
Other 5 Head Coaches
BRONCO MENDENHALL, BYU
BASICS: 86-34 in his tenth year at BYU, with a run of four straight ten win seasons from 2006 to 2009. Before that DC at New Mexico for five years and various small jobs besides. 48.
PROS: Wins many games. Lots of HC experience for age. Comfortable with running and passing QBs. Named "Bronco" so team would have to be tough I mean you'd think right. Would bring in a lot of Samoans.
CONS: Availability questionable. Mendenhall is a Mormon from Utah and is reputedly going nowhere. Has fallen off a bit after a hot start, coming off consecutive 8-5 seasons. (He is 4-1 this year.) Recruiting questions bountiful.
OVERALL: Might as well inquire but think he would be all but impossible to pry away.
CRAIG BOHL, WYOMING
BASICS: In his first year with the Cowboys after crushing I-AA run with North Dakota State in which they won three consecutive national titles. Had been HC at NDSU since 2003 before that; during this period NDSU moved up from D-II; they had consecutive 10-1 seasons under Bohl that did not result in playoff appearances due to that. 104-32 overall at NDSU. 56.
PROS: Can beat Minnesota. Really really bald.
CONS: Age tenuous, no big time experience, just got to Wyoming.
OVERALL: Todd Graham-esque departure this would require probably puts him behind other flier candidates, as does his age.
RUFFIN MCNEILL, ECU
BASICS: ECU's head coach since 2010. .500-ish his first two years, then won went 8-5 with a 7-1 nonconference record in 2012. Went 10-3 last year with a win over UNC and a narrow loss to VT; upset VT authoritatively this year. Prior to that was Texas Tech's DC for a few year, with a bunch of LB coaching jobs before that. 55.
PROS: Has ECU rolling with a modern offense. Had amazing afro back in the day.
CONS: Old-ish, doesn't have that much track record as a head coach. Highly successful OC Lincoln Riley likely to replace him so Michigan wouldn't get to import him.
OVERALL: Seems about as risky as a coordinator without as much upside.
JIM MCELWAIN, COLORADO STATE
BASICS: In his third year at CSU. Took over a 3-9 team, had one bad year, and then went 8-6 a year ago. Currently 4-1 with wins over Power 5 outfits Colorado and Boston College. Alabama's OC for four years before that, Fresno's OC in 2007, one year as the Raiders' QB coach, and then various position jobs. 52.
PROS: Familiar with pro-style and spread concepts. Might have a smaller transition cost than other candidates depending on how similar his offense is to Nussmeier's. Promising start to HC career. FEI ranks of his Bama offenses: 16, 8, 3, 11. Spent three years at MSU so not entirely unfamiliar with the area.
CONS: Very short track record as a head coach. Success may be based on importing guys like Dee Hart from Bama more than any particular skill.
OVERALL: If CSU has a ten win season he's a guy who'd be logical to look at.
Nope. The next guy on the list was Georgia Southern's Willie Fritz.
[After THE JUMP: coordinators are waiting for your call]
Among this year's great disappointments has been the understandable, but nonetheless depressing, regression of 2013 Michigan's two best defensive players. Jake Ryan looks lost at MLB. Blake Countess is now the third or fourth best cornerback on this roster. Both appear to be a direct result of the offseason decision to switch from Michigan's 4-3 under/zone defense to a jam-man, nickel/4-3 over base.
I'm sure Brian is going to cover Jake Ryan with a picture pages, so I thought I'd zoom in on a play that's demonstrative of what's happening with Countess, and how that's hurting the defense. This is the first of Rutgers's many 3rd down conversions. Michigan had a backside blitz on with the front seven and was playing man-high pass D. Rutgers ran a pick route from the trips tight formation:
This is a standard thing you do against man coverage. The Y receiver will run his route directly in the path of the cornerback trying to guard the outside (Z) receiver. It works just a like a perimeter screen in basketball: the pick man and the defender following him create a wall between the target and his defender…
Voila: easy pass…
…which is unfortunate because a certain Rutgers lineman blew his MIKE assignment and Jake Ryan was about to turn Gary Nova into paste. Jeremy Clark then compounded matters by setting up too far inside and turned it into a big play.
To a degree you might RPS this, because Rutgers called a pick route against man coverage, and Nova pointed right at the matchups to show his guys they had what they wanted. But the way Michigan's defense is supposed to work is for man-tight to be a base play, and there is absolutely a way to defend this pass with Michigan's defensive call… [jump] [also if you're at work maybe put your headsets on because you know what's coming]
Just the sheer number of passing yards you allowed; was there a consistent breakdown you saw or…?
“Well, you’re right. The numbers- anytime you give up six big plays, and you know our stand on big plays has always been we can’t have that to have a successful defense. I don’t ever remember giving up that many big plays, and one of them was for 80 yards, I believe, [and] another was for 50-some. The numbers will add up pretty quick when that happens.
“The quarterback had a great game. He made some really, really great plays. We busted on a couple. We didn’t keep the ball inside and in front, and when that happens 30 yards gains could become 50 yards or bigger and we’ve got to get that corrected, and that’s me. That’s up to me to make sure that doesn’t happen again and we get it corrected and we’ll start on it right away.”
Was it one player or-
“No, it was the defense. It was the team defense. It’s never one player. No. And it’s like, you’re playing really, really good and then something happens like that and then you get back to doing it again and again and sometimes the first down that is third-and-10 is as big as a fifty-yarder. And they all seem to be the same things, where you’ve got to make a tackle, where you’ve got to keep a ball inside and in front, where you try to pressure, when you pressure and all of a sudden you hit one and it’s a sixty-yarder. So it’s a matter of different things. Six big plays, different things at different times that we’ve got to get corrected.”
Where are your defensive backs in the process of being able to recognize a situation and say, ‘We need to switch things’ on the field and make a change?
“Well, I think everybody- I don’t think it is the scheme of the coverage. I think it’s a different person not executing the coverage. I think it’s a different person not getting the sack when he had a stunt that said that this was what was going to happen and if you do it we’ve got one. It’s never a corner, it’s never a safety, it’s never a defensive end, it’s never a linebacker, it’s everybody. That’s what your job is, to make sure you get those corrected and get those handled and the thing that’s frustrating is that hasn’t happened before. It hasn’t happened, and we’ve got to get that nipped immediately. And the thing I do say is this quarterback, with his feet and with a couple of the receivers, with their skill all coming together showed that six or seven times and we can’t let that happen.”
MGoQuestion: Can you walk us through what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass?
“Yeah, I know exactly what happened on the 80-yard touchdown pass is we called a defense where a safety would be lower than usual to be able to help with the run and we didn’t get inside enough with another defensive back, and knowing the whole scheme of the defense, knowing where you’re a little bit weak- whenever you call a defense there’s always somebody that has a little bit more on his plate than everybody else or otherwise you’re going to run just straight generic defenses all the time, and it’s just a matter of everybody being focused in at that time to say, ‘Okay, I’m the one that can’t do this. I can’t bite on this out route right now. I can’t bite on this route because we’re a little bit weaker here’ and they happened to have the perfect call. They called a play-action pass. The guy- we bit on it and they hit. And that’s what happened.”
[After THE JUMP: Mattison needs his defense to hit, and he isn’t referring to tackling]
News bullets and other items:
Derrick Green broke his clavicle and is out for the season
No update on Jabrill Peppers or Desmond Morgan, which only means they haven’t been ruled out for the rest of the year /waves world’s tiniest flag
The coaches spoke to the Big Ten about Amara Darboh’s catch that was ruled an incompletion. Hoke doesn’t seem to agree with what they were told, but said there’s no reason to dwell on what can’t be changed
Shane Morris is practicing
“Alright, thanks for coming out. Number one, on Saturday I thought our guys were united. I thought they played hard together. I thought they fought, and sometimes that doesn't guarantee you anything but their effort as a team was something I was proud of, and I was proud of those kids. I know I said that on Saturday, but that hasn't changed. Sometimes fighting alone doesn't get a victory, but I think we need to change those results and execute a little better, coach a little better. It always starts with me and us. There was some good progress that was made and we want to really emphasize those things.
“Yesterday we didn't practice and that was already determined we weren't going to. We got back at– I don't know. I got home at 4:15 so I'm sure they got home late. We wanted to give them rest because rest will help you heal. We had good meetings yesterday. I think from the standpoint of corrections and emphasizing the things we want to see repeated I think were important.
“You know I don't talk about injuries unless a guy is going to miss the year, and unfortunately that's what Derrick Green – he broke his clavicle late in the football game. Nice run on our sidelines, but Derrick's attitude is very good. He knows there’s an expectation of him to help coach those young guys and coach guys and be integral and what we’re trying to get done. And so we are going to miss him, but DeVeon and Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson are three guys who need to step up, and two of them are guys that have a lot of game experience and played a lot of plays, so [we] feel good about that. And we’ll miss Derrick, but this is like anything else in competition in sports; the next man's got to stand up.”
[After THE JUMP: try to read the tea leaves]
We ran the ball some? We tempoed wrong.
That did not go very well.
Devolves into a discussion of Katy Perry and how we don't want to work for Adidas. Then Dan Mullen is praised.
TALKING HOBO STRANGLIN' WITH JAMIEMAC
We introduce the Hobo meter for potential coaches, which is how many hobos you would strangle to install coach X at Michigan.
"Across 110th Street"
"Having An Average Weekend," Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet
"Walking Far From Home," Iron & Wine
"Bullet with Butterfly Wings," Smashing Pumpkins
THE USUAL LINKS
Things Fall Apart
Is Darrin Kirkland the next to go?
Since last week's roundup, Darian Roseboro officially decommitted from Michigan, bringing the 2015 class down to just ten players. In distressing, but by no means surprising, news, that class is likely to get smaller before it gets any bigger, as several other commits are now looking around.
Four-star LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. took an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend, and he told TomVH that Michigan's coaching staff is now taking a different approach to commits taking visits ($):
In the past, the Michigan coaches have held a no-visit policy, but Kirkland had a different conversation when he told the staff of his intentions.
"They said take the time that you need to make the best decision," he said.
If the coaches hope to keep any semblance of a class together, I don't think they have a choice here. So, Kirkland visited Notre Dame with Hoke's approval, and in a rather painful twist took in the game with former M commit Shaun Crawford; Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt he came away impressed with ND ($):
Saturday's visit to Notre Dame has given Kirkland plenty to think about as he enters the final four months of his recruitment.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Kirkland said. "I'm staying close with my family and hopefully we can make the best decision for me. At the end of the day I'll sign my letter of intent where I feel most comfortable at."
Kirkland remains committed to Michigan and is not sure what schools he could visit in the future, but he is keeping his options open.
I'd be surprised if M held on to Kirkland through a coaching change.
Of course, Kirkland isn't the only one looking around. 247's Steve Lorenz posted an overview of where the commits stand at the moment, and only four appear to be locks to stay committed ($):
- Quarterback Alex Malzone, who's still been recruiting other prospects like Marcus Lewis and Auden Tate, per Sam Webb ($). Malzone is also working hard to try to keep the class together.
- Offensive tackle Grant Newsome, who doubled down on his "I didn't not commit to the University of Brady Hoke" statement from last week by telling GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's "fully committed" to Michigan.
- Offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr.—as a legacy commit, it'd be quite surprising if he even looked around.
- Kicker Andrew David, who received a scholarship as a kicker at an early juncture, so he's also quite solid in all likelihood.
Everyone else—including RB Mike Weber, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown($)—is at least considering other options, and among that group of six only Tyree Kinnel seems like he's still leaning heavily towards remaining in the class. As TE commit Chris Clark told MLive last week, coaches from around the country know an opportunity when they see one:
"I think they see an opening," Clark said. "They smell the blood in the water."
Clark recently added a USC offer and is fielding heavy interest from Alabama and UNC, among many others. He also seems like a longshot to stay in the class for much longer.
Meanwhile, in the 2016 class, four-star QB Messiah deWeaver maintains he's still "100 percent to Michigan," per Helmholdt ($). I haven't seen word on M's other 2016 commit, four-star OT Erik Swenson, but his commitment seemed rock-solid; hopefully that doesn't change.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on this weekend's visitors, Keisean Lucier-South, Auden Tate, Thiyo Lukusa, and more.]