"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
What is the difference between this run:
…and this run:
If you guessed "the one Harbaugh/Drevno were coaching got yards and the one from Hoke/Borges didn't" you win a running theme of the 2015 offseason. The results are certainly stark; why that's true is what we're interested in.
The Power Play
These are both the same play by the offense, and the same play Brady Hoke promised to make into Michigan's base because it is the manliest of plays. It is Power-O, the one where you pull the backside guard and try to run between the tackles.
You can click for biggers
The play is relatively simple to draw up and complex to execute because it uses a lot of the things zone blocking does, including having the blocking and back react to what the defense does. For all the "manball" talk this isn't ISO, where you slam into each other quickly. Depending on how the coach wants to play it and what defensive alignment you see, the basic gist is to get a double or scoop of the playside DT and kick out the playside DE, then have an avalanche of bodies pour into that hole—if the defense is leaping into that gap you adjust by trying a different hole further outside. Leaving two blockers to seal off the backside, one blocker, usually the backside guard, pulls and becomes the lead blocker—it's up to him to adjust to what he sees when he arrives.
You can run this out of different formations with different personnel, and the one immediately apparent difference in the above diagrams is Michigan was more spread—a flanker (Z) is out on the opposite numbers and the strongside is to the boundary; after the motion this is an "Ace Twins". Stanford ran this with a heavy "22-I" formation, meaning two backs (RB and FB) and two tight ends (Y and H) in an I-form. The benefit Michigan gets from its formation is the guy Stanford would have to block with its fullback Michigan has removed from the play entirely by forcing him to cover the opposite sideline.
What Stanford gets in return for its fullback is matchup problems: the open side of the field is going to be two tight ends and a fullback versus two safeties and a cornerback. Run or pass that can go badly for the defense as these size mismatches turn into lithe safeties eating low-centered fullbacks, and dainty corners on manbeast TEs.
In War of 1812 terms, Michigan is the Americans, sending the fast-sailing frigate Essex in the Pacific so the enemy has to move ships to the Galapagos instead of harassing the Carolinas. Stanford is the British, parking 74-guns ships of the line where engaging them cannot be avoided and trusting the outcome of any forced engagement should turn in their favor. The point is both work to the advantages and disadvantages of the talent on hand. (In this analogy Borges is a guy trying to use Horatio Nelson tactics with a Navy of sloops and brigs).
That being said, it still works as well as anything—people did in fact score points before the spread, and those who scored a lot of them could do so by keeping defenses off balance and with good execution. As we'll see both of those factors played a big role.
[after the jump]
The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: After their season-opening triumph over Notre Dame, Michigan traveled to Williams-Brice Stadium to face 11th-ranked South Carolina, off to a 2-0 start after a breakout 10-2 season in 1984 under coach Joe Morrison. Morrison, who'd taken over in 1983, had quickly injected life into a mediocre program by introducing both a high-flying offense and an intimidating new tradition for home games, described by Bo Schembechler in Bo's Lasting Lessons:
Those men down in South Carolina, they know how to take the field. We were already on the field when I told my guys, "I want you to see this!"
The speakers boomed the theme song from 2001: A Space Odyssey, which builds really slowly. Then they started pumping a thick fog by the players' tunnel, and the crowd started going nuts as the anticipation built.
Our guys were getting jacked up just waiting for them to come out. "C'MON, WHATYA—SCARED? GET ON OUT HERE!" Until finally the Gamecocks came flying out of that tunnel—dressed all in black! I lost my hearing for a few minutes from that music blaring and the crowd screaming. God that was great. That is how you take the field. THAT is college football!
South Carolina's 1984 season was called the "Black Magic" year because Morrison would wear all black on gameday. The 1985 season wouldn't prove worthy of a nickname.
The Game: South Carolina opened the game with another proud Gamecock tradition: nearly decapitating diminutive Michigan running backs. Here's Bo again:
We started the game with the ball and sent Thomas Wilcher on our standard off-tackle play. Their linebacker came in from out of nowhere, and Wilcher's helmet flew off—and he was ready to go! I'm telling you, from the opening kickoff, the entire atmosphere in that stadium was electric.
While Willie Hill's hit didn't make WolverineHistorian's highlight reel, it's preserved elsewhere on YouTube:
Hill may have set the tone, but Michigan more than matched it. The defense shut down an SC offense featuring College Football Hall of Famer and five-time Pro Bowl selection Sterling Sharpe. When Jim Harbaugh opened the scoring with an option keeper near the goal line (GIF'd at top of post), Michigan led the yardage battle with 110 to SC's negative-one.
The triple-option offense would remain effective for the duration. Jamie Morris put the Wolverines up 14-0 when Harbaugh chose to pitch near the goal line; Morris would finish with 95 yards, Wilcher with 104, and Harbaugh with 45 on just seven carries. As a team, Michigan finished with 324 rushing yards on 5.3 YPC.
Michigan's defense proved every bit as dominant as the offense, limiting the Gamecocks to 202 total yards—including just 35 through the air—and forcing four turnovers. South Carolina mustered a field goal at the end of the first half. That would be their only score of the game. Four different Wolverines—Harbaugh, Morris, Wilcher, and Gerald White—tallied rushing touchdowns, and Mike Gillette's two field goals brought the final score to 34-3.
The Harbaugh: As you can tell from the above, Harbaugh didn't need to throw the ball a whole lot. When he did, he moved the ball in solid chunks, finishing 12/22 for 164 yards (7.5 YPA) and one pick. His primary target was 6'8", 240-pound receiver Paul Jokisch, who took advantage of mismatches to tally 115 yards on five catches, including this 41-yarder to set up the game's opening score:
Poor #29 is eye-level with Jokisch's armpit. Hell of a blitz pickup by Morris there, too.
The Most '80s Screencap of the Game:
White pants after Labor Day? Standard uniform in the age of Miami Vice.
Today it's Alabama's turn on "Jim Harbaugh makes people so mad they go cross-eyed and spit in their own face":
For opponents of the satellite camp, and I am firmly among them, Johnson's commitment to Michigan also reinforces what a sham we're presently operating under. Attaching one's self to a high school 1300 miles away like a dad-jeaned toadstool is by no stretch a "teaching opportunity," as the camps were so designed. We've said all along these are nothing but recruiting junkets. That even Michigan's own film study and recruiting efforts previously overlooked the lightly-regarded Johnson only underscores this fact.
Rather than bolstering the satellite camp, in fact, a measured view of the camps in light of Johnson's commitment, only shows that the loophole is a chance to lazily poach talent in contravention of a rule designed to avoid turning recruiting into a 12-month long circus.
This is of course Alabama, the fanbase that annually responds to Nick Saban cutting 6-10 guys with "tough shit, it's a business." It is specifically the blog—albeit not the person—who responded to a post here about a kid getting cut by titling a post "Brian Cook is, Amongst Other Things, a Coward and a Liar." They live in the conference of bag men and are no doubt amongst the most committed participants*. Nick Saban himself caused a kerfuffle several years ago when he skirted the boundaries of the NCAA's quiet period by maybe possibly having conversations with recruits he was permitted only to "bump" into. The number of Alabama fans who cared about this is zero. Alabama fans do not care about NCAA rules, whether it's letter or intent, one iota.
While that is an increasingly defensible position, the word soup above is not. If it even has a position. Its author, Erik Evans, is clutching every pearl in a five-county radius that Michigan might be using these camps to find football players. Several dozen Crimson Tide matrons collapsed to the floor after Dytarious Johnson's recent commitment. The state has never endured such calumny.
The post's argument was difficult to parse out in the first place; it is more confusing now that Evans edited it after the fact. He discovered that Johnson had talked to the Michigan coaching staff before the camp and asked him to attend it to earn his offer; this invalidates large sections of the post but provides an opportunity to sick the specter of a Level 4 violation on Michigan if in fact the compliance officer they're bringing to every damn camp doesn't have his Ps and Qs straight.
It takes a special kind of person to argue that Michigan's satellite camps are an opportunity to "lazily poach talent" and create a "12-month long circus" without even allowing so much as a period to separate those two diametrically opposed thoughts. Attempting to rebut any particular point is futile since most have already been rebutted in the same damn sentence they were made, so we'll have to take another tack. Let's evaluate the stakeholders here to see who is harmed.
JIM HARBAUGH. Evaluates lots of players from across the country in person. Develops relationships with otherwise remote players. Finds some recruits. Improves his football team down the road. Gets to write letters that end with "sincerely yours in football."
CAMP ATTENDEES. Get exposure in front of not only the Michigan coaches but various local staffs. May get scholarship offer they would not as a result. May get to play Peruball against shirtless Harbaugh. Don't have to go at all if they don't want to. Attendance veritably implies approval, and many attend.
CAMP ORGANIZERS. Hype from Harbaugh visit can almost double attendance.
SMALL CHILDREN WITH TERRIBLE DISEASES. Increased attendance helps raise money for brain cancer research.
ALABAMA. May have to work slightly harder in the future to convince certain players they should play at Alabama.
I don't mind the Alabama fanbase's purely mercenary mindset so much anymore, but at least own it. You would put your grandma through a wood chipper for a tiny increase in the chance at a national championship. There is literally no moral or ethical issue that would even vaguely factor into your decision making. And that's fine. We need lizard people too. Just don't pretend your objection to satellite camps is anything other than pure self-interest.
On the bright side, Evans has a bright future as a Toys R Us CEO down the road.
*[I gave up on condemning such practices because nobody's ever come up with an actual harm caused by people offering football players petty cash that doesn't involve fan anger stuff.]
Dytarious Johnson is mean
The question we no longer have to answer about basketball
Does it concern you yet that Harbaugh and staff are going after so many 3-star or less recruits (and even unranked ones) rather than shooting for more 4- and 5-star types? Might JH be underestimating his own standing and instead still be in "I'm at Stanford" mentality (i.e., "I need to find the hidden gems because the 5-stars are going to USC, Alabama, and such")?
Thanks for the blog, and give Ace a raise.
Hail to the bloggers,
This is so overblown. Michigan has ten commits. Five of them are composite four-stars (Swenson, Onwenu, Peters, Falcon, and Evans). Of the five who aren't, one committed to Brady Hoke (Harding), one is (probably) a fullback (Reese), and one picked up Nebraska, LSU, and Florida offers after his commitment (Davis). The two other guys are Kiante Enis and Dytarious Johnson. Enis ran for three thousand(!) yards last year and Johnson looks like a BAMF on his Hudl film.
That is not a high flier rate thus far. The two guys who truly qualify are both gentlemen an expert talent evaluator has seen in person.
Meanwhile, here is a list of high four star recruits who Michigan is thought to lead for: NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, NJ WR Brad Hawkins, PA TE Nasseir Upshur, MD OL Terrance Davis, WI OL Ben Bredeson, MI DE Khalid Kareem, and NJ DE Ron Johnson. They are at or near the top for five star NJ DT Rashan Gary and CA LB Caleb Kelly.
They won't get all those guys; they'll get a healthy chunk, and they'll get involved with more guys down the road. It's not going to be an Alabama class but it should be comfortably top ten.
And that's only half the reason recruiting concern is overblown. The other half:
That class was Andrew Luck and three stars. It followed a class that was all three stars, and ranked ninth in the then Pac-10. Stanford was slightly better than that when those classes bore fruit. Recruiting is important; coaching is more important.
[After the JUMP: Countess impact, concerns that Michigan's skill position players are no better than Iowa's, outrageous afro.]
Guess what jerks?
This morning the freshmen got their numbers, and started telling people. Lorenz posted those he was able to gather, which was all but the transfers, Ulizio, and Shelton J. (Warning: 247 autoplays videos on their pages so mute first if you don't want blang blang blaring through your speakers).
May your obsessive compulsive videogame rosters be accurate, and your visions of greatness now come a bit more into focus around the chest and back areas. I'll update this as more come in today.
|#||Name||P||Hgt.||Wgt.||You may remember this digit from…|
|10||Zach Gentry||QB||6'6"||230||Tom Brady of course, but also Todd Collins, Jeff Cohen, and friend of the blog Kyle Anderson. Da'Mario Jones was wearing this through spring so looks like he'll have a new jersey.|
|12||Alex Malzone||QB||6'2"||205||(Spring) Surprisingly few 12's have remained such through graduation (Grbac and Gardner both wore it for a time). Dreisbach was the last QB to do so.|
|22||Karan Higdon||RB||5'10"||190||Harbaugh era mooseback Gerald White is the only RB I can remember wearing it.|
|81||Brian Cole||WR||6'2"||190||(Spring) Historically a TE # at Mich (I always think of Kattus). Was C'sonte's|
|9||Grant Perry||WR||6'0"||183||Dileo, Diallo, Martavious Odoms, and Mercury Hayes. And of course "The Rece" Butler|
|8||Tyrone Wheatley Jr.||TE||6'6"||245||Wore 9 in HS. Little round number on a big Wheatley body? I'm a fan. (Walk-on Joe Hewlett gave it up)|
|77||Grant Newsome||OL||6'7"||280||Lewan, Long, Pape, Jansen, Jenkins, Trgovac, Tabachino, Guy Curtis, Art Walker...|
|75||Jon Runyan Jr.||OL||6'4"||275||Sr wore 69, Jr wore this in HS. Last great interior OL to wear 75 was Baas. OTs include Schofield, Skrepanak, Yearby, and Bubba Paris.|
|70||Nolan Ulizio||OL||6'5"||293||Wore 70 in HS. Bobby Doherty is the one that springs to mind; Mark Erhardt wore it during Harbaugh years.|
|?||Shelton Johnson||SDE||6'5"||225||Waiting on #. Wore 7 in high school; I doubt Poggi gives it up.|
|4||Reuben Jones||WDE||6'4"||225||Less weird when you consider he'll be playing a role not too different from Cam Gordon's. Of course you remember a certain quarterback who wore this.|
|17||Tyree Kinnel||SS||5'11"||197||"Wolf" Dwight Hicks wore it in the '70s, J.O.W. in the early '90s.|
|6||Keith Washington||CB||6'2"||175||You remember Donovan Warren. One back you certainly don't remember wearing this was Harry Kipke when he played for Yost (he wore it one year).|
|16||Andrew David||K||5'8"||170||M used to leave 19 for kickers (Bob Bergeron, Remy Hamilton, Mike Gilette). Andrew's the first 16.|
Nothing yet from the transfers but their previous numbers were all available-ish except O'Neill's.
|Name||Prev #||Pos||Starts||Elig||You may remember this digit from...|
|Jake Rudock||15||QB||25||Grad transfer||Garrett Moores would have to move. Grbac obviously, also Loeffler.|
|John O'Korn||5||QB||16||So (RS)||Other than Tate you mean? Johnny Wangs! Walk-on Kenny Sloss will have to give it up.|
|Wayne Lyons||24||CB||20||Grad transfer||Took Blake's spot, took Woodson's NFL # – several safeties (Bobby Abrams, Charles Drake RIP) but I can't think of a CB other than Hollowell.|
|Blake O'Neill||39||P||12||Grad transfer||Finley! Complication: Houma wears this and plays punt coverage in case you forgot this.|
Camp Commits: Two Down, More To Go?
— Corey Bender (@Corey_Bender) June 7, 2015
If you actually did things this weekend, you missed two commitments, one piece of inflammatory recruiting material, and enough Harbaugh headlines that Brian mercifully covered the satellite camp stuff not directly related to recruiting in today's UV, or this post would be 19,000 words and published posthumously.
The camp tour continued on to Florida, and the in-person evaluations led to several offers, including the one that set off the latest commit watch:
— Terrell Lucas Jr. (@_TerrellLucas) June 7, 2015
Lucas is a three-star WDE/OLB, and he stood out to 247's Ryan Bartow as one of the top five performers at the Miami satellite camp:
2016 DE Terrell Lucas - Has over a dozen verbal offers. Michigan added their name to the list along with Syracuse and Minnesota, among others. Lucas is a prep defensive end that will likely transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in college. He has a good frame. Takes coaching well. He was outstanding at last week's Alabama camp and was equally good in front of Michigan's staff.
- Three-star 2016 CB Antwaine Richardson, a high school teammate of incoming freshman DE Shelton Johnson.
- Two-star 2016 S Josh Metellus, a Georgia Southern commit.
- Two-star 2016 SDE/TE Rashad Weaver.
- 2017 WR Clevan Thomas, who reportedly stole the show at the Miami camp.
- 2017 RB Jordan Merrell, a Cincinnati commit.
- 2017 WR Daquon Green, who's added several top-notch offers recently.
This seems like a good opportunity to talk about recruiting rankings and camp offers, since the commitment of largely unranked Dytarious Johnson, the possibility of Lucas also committing, and the number of offers going out to lower-ranked prospects has caused consternation among a certain segment of the fanbase.
Yes, recruiting rankings have been proven time and again to matter when it comes to projecting success. Final recruiting rankings, that is. I'm not saying Johnson is going to turn out to be a five-star, but I'd also be shocked if he were anything less than a solid three-star come February, and I doubt there'd be complaints about his commitment if that were his current ranking. Recruiting rankings change all the way up to Signing Day because the services get more data to inform their ratings; that includes senior film and the very camp evaluations Michigan's coaches are making in-person at each of these stops.
If Michigan is frantically adding unranked recruits on Signing Day, there'd be plenty of reason for worry. It's June. Despite several top-tier players showing high interest, the coaches were comfortable extending these offers and accepting commitments from prospects they'd had the chance to see up close. Given Harbaugh's track record of identifying and developing talent—not to mention the potential readily apparent in Johnson's junior highlights—it's far too soon to use incomplete recruiting rankings as the ultimate gauge for the recruiting class. Michigan still has room to add blue-chippers—and lest we forget, they added a consensus four-star last week, too. Sounding the "it's RichRod recruiting all over again" alarm before it's officially summer is an overreaction at best.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]