in town for free camps
As it turns out, taking this kind of beating has a long-lasting effect. [Fuller]
We all know that a well-timed hit on a passing quarterback, whether or not it results in a sack, makes it far less likely that pass will be completed, not to mention more likely to fall into the hands of a defender. It stands to reason, as well, that the cumulative effect of multiple hits on a quarterback will eventually affect his performance even when he's not taking hits.
Devin Gardner's 2013 season stands as a testament to this hypothesis. After the MSU seven-sack breaking point, there were several occasions when it seemed like he simply didn't have the juice to make certain throws that he didn't have any trouble making before his body was demolished piece by piece.
A recent article from the excellent site Pro Football Focus helpfully quantifies the effect of such punishment on a quarterback's accuracy and interception rate, using a data sample of every NFL throw from the past six years. As a quarterback takes more hits over the course of a game, their accuracy predictably plummets—on every throw, not just the ones when they're eating a defender:
After every sack or hit the quarterback takes, their Accuracy Percentage decreases by an average of a half of a percent. While that might not seem like much, there also isn’t much difference between the best and worst quarterbacks in the league. Based on the graph, an above average quarterback after five hits or sacks performs as well as an average quarterback with no hits or sacks. Once that above average quarterback has been sacked or hit 10 times, they play as well as a below average quarterback who hasn’t been sacked or hit.
The article also shows that interception rates increase substantially as the hits pile up, and more experienced quarterbacks are much better at mitigating these effects than rookie signal-callers—something to keep in mind when considering the relative merits of Gardner and Shane Morris.
When looking at Michigan's 2013 season, there's no question Gardner was a victim of this phenomenon. There's also evidence that he's better than most at handling the heat:
|2 sacks or fewer||152||94||61.8||10.1||7.9||3.9|
The heroic Ohio State (3 sacks) performance skews the numbers, though in fairness, so did Indiana's defense on the other. Even so, Gardner performed markedly better when not under constant pressure, especially when it came to producing yards and points.
The oddball interception rates can be chalked up to the concerted effort by Gardner to make fewer risky plays as the season went along. The desperation throwaways that resulted in stuff like the Stephon Tuitt pick-six turned into sacks intelligently taken as the season wore on, to the benefit of the turnover margin and serious detriment to Gardner's health and ability to make big plays on the ground or through the air.
So here's the hopeful part. Imagine a world in which Michigan has a running game that can move the ball forwards, forcing defenses to respect the run instead of pinning their ears back and going full-bore for Gardner's chest. Imagine a coherent Michigan offense that finds a way to counter the constant opponent blitzes. Imagine a full season of an offense directed by an NFL-level talent who doesn't end half his games resembling a coal miner.
This could very well be Michigan's reality in 2014. If it is, expect Devin Gardner to do big things.
The goal: to put together a team of Big Ten players that seems like a better team than your competitors. Incidentally we'll learn a surprising amount about the league and where Michigan might fit in.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
WHERE WE'RE AT PRESENTLY
ROUND 9 – Pick 1: Theiren Cockran, DE, Minnesota
O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), RB Melvin Gordon (UW), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), OT Rob Havenstein(WI)
D: DE Frank Clark(MI), DE Theiren Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), CB Trae Waynes (MSU)
BRIAN: I'll complete my DL with Cockran, who is another one of those Minnesota linemen that enter school as a 6'6" basketball player and take some time to pack on the weight. In Cockran's case he arrived at 210 pounds(!) and needed about a year and a half to get up to anything resembling plausible. When he did that, he popped into a starting job and immediately produced. Cockran matched the sack numbers of Bosa, Calhoun, and Spence without getting any of them by running over Fitz Toussaint. He made second-team All Big Ten as a result.
Cockran did that at 245 and with plenty more space on his 6'6" frame he should add another 20 or so pounds this year to become more of an all-around force. A still-raw true sophomore, he's about to Hageman your asses.
Also, while you guys were falling all over yourselves to pick piles of near-identical DEs I picked up the league's best QB, RB, CB, WR, and run-blocking tackle. Meanwhile I only got a first round DT, two second-team All Big Ten performers from a year ago, and a five star recruit with double digit TFLs as a true sophomore. Whatever shall we do?
ROUND 9 - PICK 2: Darius Kilgo, NT, Maryland
more like Darius KILLGO
O: RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), LB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), CB Desmond King (IA)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: You never should've assigned me both FFFF duties and the HTTV opponent previews, Brian. The student is becoming the master.
/sees Hamilton pick
Regardless, you haven't snarked at one of my picks since Round 4, which has to be some sort of record. I've got legitimate arguments for best RB, WR, and TE, I definitely have the best OT, and on defense I can lay claim to best all-around WLB and 3-tech/SDE/whatever I decide to do with Monroe. Also, beg to differ on the whole "best run-blocking tackle in the B1G" thing:
Yes, I made that GIF just to prove a point. What of it?
Anyway, it looks like we're poised for a run on defensive tackles, so I'll make my move here and once again grab an overlooked Maryland lineman. I probably shouldn't have to tell you anything other than "is a 310-pound redshirt senior named DARIUS KILGO" but I'll do so anyway.
While Brian drafted Carl Davis way back in the second round, Kilgo isn't too far off from Davis on 2015 NFL Draft rankings—or, in this case, ranked above him—especially when you separate the nose tackles from the three-techs. I discussed Maryland's strong defensive line when nabbing Andre Monroe; Bill Connelly is a fan, and the first name out of his mouth after Monroe's when discussing the Terp front seven was Kilgo's:
Darius Kilgo proved an agile, interesting force at nose tackle.
Kilgo's ascension to starting nose tackle in 2012 coincided with Maryland's rush defense shaving over a full yard per carry off their opponent average, from 4.7 down to 3.5. He tallied five TFLs and two sacks that season, and followed it up with 6.5 TFLs and another pair of sacks in 2013. For a 3-4 nose facing consistent double-teams, those are impressive numbers; he holds up against multiple blockers and still finds a way to occasionally knife into the backfield.
As for that "interesting, agile force" bit... yeah. Great jump, violent hands, scary closing speed on the QB ... I'm impressed, and again, that's my nose tackle. This defensive line is going to bring the noise and the funk. Also the pain. Definitely the pain.
So, uh, should we start worrying about the Maryland game yet? Because I'm definitely doing that.
[AFTER THE JUMP: really, just far far too much discussion about a single Rutgers OL.]
HUZZAH! The Kickstarter has been Kickstarted. HTTV shall be printed, just as Steve Gutenberg anticipated when he invented the four-color glossy printing press in 1988. Not only that, but with Draftstreet picking up the tab for express shipping, you will receive it mere seconds after it is mailed. But what will you actually GET for your money?* I thought it might be interesting for people who contributed to get a sneak peek at what is in this year’s HTTV, as well as to hopefully convince those of you on the fence to secure your copy while you still can.
*Disclaimer: I have not seen the magazine yet, so these are just my assumptions of what will be in there. But it all seems pretty likely.
Full Team Preview
Brian provides an in-depth look at every position group. Some tidbits:
- The defensive line section spends a couple of pages analyzing the various positions along the DL, including how Michigan will adapt to Ondre Pipkins’ injury, how the snap distribution is likely to shake out at the 3-tech DT spot, and whether we can expect Frank Clark to take another step forward.
- The parts about the linebackers and secondary are a combined 37 pages long, and largely consist of hand-drawn battle scenes of Jake Ryan and Jabrill Peppers attacking ninjas and robot dinosaurs with fighter jets and tanks. Complete with “neeeeeeeerrrrrrrVRROOOOOOOMMM” sound effects.
The part about the offensive line is a quarter of a page long, and consists mostly of a drawing of a seven-legged spider.
- The quarterback section is exactly one word long. I can’t tell you what it is, but it rhymes with “Kevin.”
- The running back section is just a list of every calorie Derrick Green has consumed since the end of last season.
- The wide receiver section is a full-page explanation of why Devin Funchess is a wide receiver, not a tight end.
- The tight end section is a full-page explanation of why Devin Funchess is a wide receiver, not a tight end.
Ace basically watched every available snap of every opponent Michigan will face this year other than Notre Dame and Ohio State. He broke the tape down, player by player, until he had a handle on the personnel and how they were used in the various offensive and defensive schemes. He then looked at the teams in the broader context of their previous seasons and used everything to put together a comprehensive and cohesive picture of what we can expect in 2014.
Meanwhile, I Googled “what is Notre Dame football” and “Ohio State intelligence joke” and pretty much copied and pasted the first few results. Between the two of us, this is what we found:
- Appalachian State is bad and we shouldn’t be playing them.
- Miami (NTM) is bad and we shouldn’t be playing them.
- Rutgers is bad and we shouldn’t be playing them.
- Maryland might actually be good and we shouldn’t be playing them.
- Michigan State will be good and we shouldn’t be playing them where we are playing them.
- Minnesota is probably bad but BROWN JUG.
- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is the intercollegiate football team of the University of Notre Dame. The team is currently coached by Brian Kelly and play home games at the campus’s Notre Dame Stadium, with a capacity of 80,795.
- Ohio State ain’t come to play school.
Twisted Blue Steel
The creative essay portion of HTTV. People wax poetic on things of interest. This year's things of interest:
- A farewell to Jeremy Gallon. If you were wondering how many ways in 2,000 words you can call someone short without using the word “short,” the answer is 61.
- A farewell to Denard. Yeah, I know. He left two years ago. SHUT UP AND READ ABOUT DENARD.
- A farewell to Trey Burke. See above.
- An inspiring piece about the scrappy underdog tale of Hunter Lochmann. From his childhood days with a Darren Rovell poster on his wall and nothing but hand-me-down marketing plans, he learned the game from his sandlot strategy meetings, and managed to fight his way to the top. I challenge you to not cry at the description of the slow clap that follows his first successful SEO initiative.
The X’s and O’s. Space Coyote does a lot of it, so I don’t fully understand it. But it looks impressive, and I’ll take his word for it.
- An explanation of the change to the 4-3 Over from the 4-3 Under, and something about Doug Nussmeier. Blah blah.
- A detailed explanation of how running plays are designed to, under ideal circumstances, move the ball closer to the end zone.
- A bunch of pretty pictures with lines and stuff.
There are also a few other tidbits and other assorted whatnot buried in the book. I don’t want to give them all away, because half of the fun is finding them for yourself, but here are a few:
- The first letters of every line will give you a really nice recipe for chicken tetrazzini. The secret is nutmeg.
- The lower right-hand corner acts as a flipbook of the Dileo power-slide.
- The paper is made from real recycled pieces of Devin Gardner’s ribs. This wasn’t actually intentional; Michigan State just sacked him into a paper mill when this particular batch of paper was being made.
- Everyone who purchases HTTV will have a chance to play three snaps at right guard this season.
- If you read HTTV while listening to Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction," it syncs up in a really cool way. If you read at the right speed. And change some of the lyrics.
One Other Reason
There is one other reason to buy this magazine: you will want this magazine. You might not think so right now, because this has been a long and generally crappy few months. You don't think you'll be excited about this football season. I know, because I felt the same way. And then I started watching video of last year's Michigan/Notre Dame game and Michigan/Ohio State game to write my stuff, and I remembered how much I love college football.
You'll get there, too. It might be in early August, or it might not be until the team runs out of the tunnel, but you will get there. You'll get that familiar feeling of anticipation and dread that has accompanied those September saturdays your entire adult life. Regardless of the team turmoil or the weak schedule, it will at some point strike you that Michigan is playing football, and you will once again fall under the autumn spell. There's no shame in it. It happens to the best of us.
The only question is whether you will be prepared.
Let's feel good! Here's a danged good college football hype video that features Michigan a surprising amount:
YEAH LET'S GET HYPED FOR THE OPENER AGAINST [record SCRATCHHHHHHHH]
Well, that didn't last long. A casino has set an over/under for Michigan football wins next year…
At the moment, 5Dimes has Michigan's over/under for wins in 2014 set at 7 1/2. Presently, the money line is set at -170 on the over of 7 1/2 wins, which means most bettors are going with at least eight wins for the Wolverines in 2014.
…ugh. Not hitting that number would mean losing all three rivalry games and two more from the pu-pu platter that is the rest of the schedule.
Let's feel good again! Jabrill Peppers ran a 100 meter dash in 10.52 seconds, a veritably Denardian high-school-meet destruction.
He wiped out fellow touted corner recruit Minkah Fitzpatrick by a half-second.
Well, that didn't last long. Peppers is still slower than a robot velociraptor. Ugh.
Now you're just rubbing it in. ESPN gentlemen are trying to make college football better, and two of them say Michigan has to stop sucking. Thanks. We agree. And then there's this:
From the day that Bo Schembechler died in 2006, on the eve of No. 2 Michigan's 42-39 loss at its archrival, No. 1 Ohio State, the Wolverines have a record of 50-41 (.549). That's an average of 7-6, pretty much the definition of mediocrity.
Thank you for coming, now go away. Florida's president was trying to say something about how he doesn't like the graduate transfer rule and ended up saying something about his latest incoming graduate transfer:
"If they really wanted to transfer somewhere else, they should sit out a year,” Machen said Friday at the SEC spring meetings. “Why didn't Horford stay at Michigan another year? Because he had a free pass." …
“Go to grad school at Michigan," Machen said. "They have some pretty good grad schools. … It’s really just a way for a school to fill a void at the very last minute, or a player going to get more playing time without having to sit out.”
Is that bad? I mean, it's bad for Michigan. But the guy's already got a degree, which is the tenuous reason transfers are discouraged by forcing kids to a sit out a year.
I do think it's unfortunate that guys are now transferring upwards with frequency; that would really grind your gears as a low-level coach who developed this player for four years only to see him depart. Now you've got a bizarre incentive to not have your players graduate before their eligibility expires.
At least there's a trend. Florida's done playing FCS games, albeit for the same reason Michigan is. More interestingly, Nick Saban is hoping to cut out the lesser schools entirely:
Nick Saban wants Power 5 conferences to play only games against other P5 schools. “Better for fans & for players"
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) May 27, 2014
It's better for Saban, too, as there will be fewer pretenders with shiny records to compete against for playoff spots. The difficulty there is that everyone needs their seven home games even if two of them are necessarily bad.
HELLO. South Carolina president Harris Pastides:
“I think we're holding the fort,” Pastides said. “If we allow this reform to fail, the obvious next step would be to give up amateurism.”
I'm pretty sure that was intended to be the rhetorical nuclear weapon that makes everyone gasp whilst Mark Emmert is fanned by the people near him, moaning "lawdy." But someone said it.
Incoming? USC transfer and former five-star Ty Isaac is on campus… uh, now. Isaac is seeking a hardship waiver to play immediately, which would make him a slightly awkward fit for Michigan for two reasons: 1) you need a waiver for your waiver if the school you pick is more than 100 miles from home and 2) that would put him in the same class as De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green.
So, if Isaac does get his waiver it's more likely he ends up at Northwestern or Illinois or Notre Dame, which was supposed to be restricted to him but may not be because of a paperwork error on USC's part. While Illinois and ND are technically outside of the 100-mile radius they're outside by a few miles and would probably get meta-waivers. Michigan would be a harder sell.
If Isaac doesn't end up getting a waiver then Michigan has an excellent shot—they finished second for Isaac. And they didn't bring in a tailback last year.
Ohio State is apparently trying to get involved, but they'd be in a similar situation with the waiver.
Etc.: Sherman built this system, now Sherman's going to burn it down. NCAA #2 is getting out of dodge. Congrats to Bruce Madej, who won a major award. Guess who's mad about harmless spicetweets from Alex Malzone.
6/1/2014 – USA 2, Turkey 1
Got damn. The best soccer goals come with a kind of low OHAAAAWWWWWW from the crowd. That particular noise comes when half the crowd is cheering normally while the other half goes "OHHHHHH" because they've just seen something about as difficult as the moon landing in person. Bradley to Fabian Johnson was a moon landing of a goal.
Clint Dempsey's was not, but they all count.
Paging World Cup horrors past. That ref had better not approach a USA game that counts. Whether he was ignoring a zillion clear fouls on Altidore or elbowing a Turk in the face when he should have been 90 feet closer to the Turkish net in case Dempsey had earned a penalty, this game was an exercise in frustration similar to Slovenia 2010 or Ghana 2006.
Jozy is fine. I generally like Taylor Twellman but his incessant harping on Jozy Altidore not putting a ball in the net (despite putting a ball in the net that was disallowed by a shaky and definitely irrelevant foul) drove me nuts in this game.
Twellman waxed to his worst on second-half "opportunity" he didn't hear whistled down but everyone watching ESPN did, and it seemed like Altidore and the Turks also mostly did. Altidore put a shot off the keeper and Twellman went into his usual refrain about confidence and mystical fairies and all that stuff that people who haven't thought about how brains work always do. Sometimes things happen, random things. Especially when you're Jozy Altidore and you've seen about six quality scoring opportunities since your goal drought started.
It got worse. A few minutes later, Twellman praised Altidore for blasting a shot off a charging keeper that would have been a simple tap-in for Bradley if Altidore had laid it off. Altidore did well to create the chance, but if there was a problem with Altidore's game in this one it was not his lack of ruthlessness but that pressing for goal that caused him to make a wrong decision.
Not that he was the only US player with that issue. After the Davis handball play saw Graham Zusi run on to a ball at the back post, this was a shot:
A tap-in for Jozy if Zusi gets it right. Does that make him a better player in this game?
This was not a problem for the Dutch in the first five minutes against future US foe Ghana. Faced with a similar opportunity, Arjen Robben laid it off for Robin Van Persie, who passed it into the back of the open net. Robben proceeded to blow an absolute sitter and a couple other grade-A chances, but because he's not part of a culture that yells at LeBron James for kicking it to a wide-open Donyell Marshall for a game-winning three* that he happens to miss, no one's going "blah blah blah confidence strikers blah."
Take the shot when it's the move; pass when it's the move. Heroball is garbage. San Antonio Spurs, you know?
*[Dated reference but the perfect one.]
RIGHT: JOZY IS FINE. I know I said he wasn't a hold up guy and never will be but he's really trying. He does lack that flick-on and isn't technical enough to be great in that role, but he's the only one with anything resembling that skillset. It's clear now that the US is going to need it from time to time, and he's trying.
As much as they would like to be a possession side there are going to be times where the US does have to blerg it upfield. Jozy's going to be the guy who turns that into anything. Unless you think Johannsson can do that there's no substitute.
Chandler is not fine. For some reason the USMNT internet has been desperately trying to replace DaMarcus Beasley since he became the USA's starting left back by default. I acknowledge he is not world-class but for Christ's sake he's gone three years without anything near as bad as two different things Tim Chandler pulled in the Turkey match. There was the pathetic turnover that led to the Turkey goal and the alarming 50-yard ball that led to a quality Guzan save on which Chandler and Davis were both vastly out of position. The same thing led to a corner in the first half.
Meanwhile, Chandler is right footed, so it is awkward pairing him with an in-cutting left midfielder like Bedoya. Chandler should be at the back of the bus now. Beasley and Johnson are your starting outside backs and if one of them is unavailable I'd rather see Brooks (with Cameron sliding outside) or Yedlin than Chandler.
Also not fine: Brad Davis. If you're going to play a diamond your outside midfielders need to be defensive presences. They end up narrow, usually, and need to track back because the second central midfielder ends up way up the pitch as a third dedicated attacker. In this game the US had to pull Bradley back in the second half because neither outside midfielder had any interest, really, in tracking back. Zusi was at least positioned in a place where he could do something most of the time; Davis was not. Turkey spent the day destroying the USA's left flank.
The first truly dangerous Turkey chance came off a corner kick that got reset; Chandler was asked to defend two guys.
left side of your screenshot—two Turks, one USA guy
I know it looks like Jermaine Jones was available to deal with this but he is not; he ends up having to apply emergency pressure on a Turkish player who ends up cutting it back to the shooter. Davis is at the top of the 18; he heads a ball forward, sees it turned over, and walks the rest of the play instead of tracking back to the position he's vacated. His guy puts one off the post. (Fabian Johnson is out of position as well, but overall his flank was way less threatened.)
Another Turkish scoring chance came because Davis vacated the entire left side of the field.
While the diamond midfielders do tend to pack in tight, Davis was generally a lot narrower than Zusi, leading to attack after attack down the left flank on which Chandler was asked to shut down acres of space; a primary reason that the US was conceding huge chunks of space was Davis's failure to exist without the ball. He had neither the pace nor the interest to show up.
Zusi is at the bottom; look how wide he is compared to Davis despite the ball being to Davis's wing.
You'd think the guy obviously on the roster because Landon is not would show on defense. I found myself missing Herculez Gomez in this game.
In the second half, Bradley was withdrawn when the US was without the ball and the chances stopped coming so fast and furious, and maybe that's how it has to be. Someone's going to have to cover a pile of space in the World Cup. Brad Davis clearly isn't. Bradley is going to have to be that guy, with Dempsey dropping to provide a link from defense to attack.
So don't judge Jones too badly. The post I just linked prefers Beckerman to Jones but I don't think they make a particularly convincing case. Jones was given too much to do in the first half since neither US winger made any defensive impact; Beckerman came on at the same time the US started dropping Bradley to provide more cover. Notably, the turnover they approvingly note Beckerman caused came as Bradley pressured a guy in a similar position to the guy with acres of space above.
It would have been just as bad in the first half with Beckerman, because Chandler cannot replicate himself.
I don't want to toot the ol' horn too much, but the second half setup is something I suggested would be the USA's best look:
I would prefer something like the 4-4-2 diamond they tried out in a recent friendly, with Bradley dropping back when faced with opponent possession and Dempsey moving under Altidore to provide an outlet and link to Altidore up top.
This game showed both that the US does need Bradley's defensive abilities and cannot spare him from attack. It's going to be a long, tiring WC for Bradley, but that's how it has to be.
The Shin Guardian does have an instance where the midfield's general cluelessness is an issue, and Jones is one of the problems:
This gets played square away from all four midfielders; Jones ends up going upfield at the guy, and Turkey is on a break off what initially looked like an innocuous play. Bad decisions all around here; TSG is right that Jones's instincts to attack rather than hold were dangerous to the US at times here.
Green: nope. He won't play at the World Cup.
Brooks: maybe. But Brooks overcame some nervous moments early to put in an impressive performance that demonstrated he has a pretty rare combination of agility and aerial ability. He has been playing well for his club of late, in contrast with Green, and at the position he's being asked to play here, in contrast with Chandler. With Gonzalez in something of a funk he might be your third option at center back.
- Davis and Zusi cannot play together. They're very similar players; the US needs more defense from the wing. IMO, Davis just disqualified himself from the first two games of the group stage. He is a disaster waiting to happen against Ayew or Nani, and his service is only marginally better than Zusi's.
- Viva Beasley. He's a little malformed but he's ours, and if he gets run over that's life. At least he'll be in the right spot, not making an utter hash of things.
- The diamond cannot be on defense unless Bedoya works like a donkey. While the idea—get Bradley upfield—is the right idea, leaving him upfield is only tenable if you're able to apply smart, high pressure consistently. The US doesn't have the wingers or forwards to do this, so against teams who aren't bunkered in Bradley will have to shuttle back or it's going to be a lot of what we saw against Turkey. Bedoya's presumed start against Nigeria will be the most interesting thing about that game.
- I'm agnostic on Jones or Beckerman. Seems obvious that it will be Jones, but that seems like a 50/50 battle as to whether that's the right decision.
- Leaving Donovan off this roster looks pretty bad right now. Whatever his flaws, Donovan has been a committed defender throughout his USA career and provides something other than "Graham Zusi but left-footed."
In honor of our annual right there -----> which I expect will get Kickstarted a third year in a row today, I thought I'd share a little sneak peak from it. Brian asked me to create these for the linebackers page:
Click to big. Right-click to open in a separate window so you can reference it as you go.
That's a side by side comparison of Michigan's prohibitive starters this year before and after the "shift" to a 4-3 over and accompanying position changes were announced. Seeing it you can start to appreciate how all of those announcements make sense.
For the lay, what you're looking at are alignments of the front seven. The "under" shifts the defensive line away from the strength of the defense and the linebackers swing the opposite way to compensate. The result is very much like a 3-4 (picture the WDE in the photo above as yellow) and plays like it. In this alignment the strong side is the left because there's a TE there. Michigan would often align this to the hash rather than the offense, shifting the DL toward the sideline.
The "over" shifts the line the opposite way, but not to such an extreme. The linebackers wind up centered over the ball, and the DL spread across the formation. There is nothing 3-4 about it except the nose tackle.
Let's run through the positions to appreciate what's changed and what will be expected of them.
Weakside Defensive End (Frank Clark/Mario Ojemudia)
Ojemudia lined up as a 7-tech in the under [Fuller]
In the Under: The WDE is the leading pass rusher. He lines up so far outside of the backside offensive tackle that he'll wind up getting a 1-on-1 battle with that guy all day. The tradeoff was being further from the point of a attack in the run game. The WDE is further from the run game but in position to drop into coverage, a thing he was tasked to do quite often as the DE-like linebacker opposite him charged into the backfield. Much of the good done by the over shift is it creates double teams elsewhere to preserve the WDE's ability to attack upfield.
In the Over: The weakside end is still outside the offensive tackle, but shaded in a "5 technique," i.e. over the outside shoulder of the offensive tackle.
If you remember your 5-techs from 4-3 under school, you'll get the difference, though unlike your Ryan Van Bergens the weakside end usually doesn't have a tight end lined up to his side (ace even, H-backs and the like do happen) so he needn't be a double-team-eating anchor. The new WDE's biggest change is he's not dropping into coverage all the time. He has to control that OT in the run game, and often he has to cover the B gap. The linebackerity of the position has been removed; this man is a defensive lineman, and not necessarily a flashy one—Michigan State's been plugging their workhorse DE Marcus Rush in this spot for four years while various SDEs make the highlight reels.
The fit: Clark showed signs of being a pretty good player by the latter half of last season and now up near 260 he is large enough to not get kicked by OTs. As a pass rusher he's only like fifth or sixth in the conference, partly because the interior DL couldn't push the pocket very often, and partly because he wasn't great at closing when he beat his guy. Ojemudia and true freshman Lawrence Marshall aren't large men in your memory, but both claim to be up to 250 now. They're all better full-time defensive ends than 3-4 OLBs.
[Jump for the rest of the DL—LBs coming up in Part II]