The way we were
Drew Hallett has a series on MNB called "Film Focus" that's a lot like the stuff Space Coyote used to diary here, i.e. screenshots with the play drawn on them. A few weeks ago Drew called for Michigan to add a packaged bubble screen to the zone read running game that briefly resurfaced in the 1st quarter on Saturday. Then he called this a "pop pass" and referred to the QB OH NOES play from 2010.
I started a long reply to make it clear that those are really two different things from two different offensive play groups, though both are predicated on the same spread concept of using the QB to add another player to the running game. Then I made drawings. Then I had video. Then I had a Hokepoints to save for OSU week.
Interesting things people do on offense are so far from topical right now at Michigan, but between interesting offense and Michigan's offense, which do you really want to read about this moment? Exactly.
Spread offense has been around several decades now, and has therefore had time to branch out and expand. A truly great offense will be great at all aspects: zone read running, WR screens, option routes, pre-snap reads, and packaged post-snap reads. But you don't really get that much time in college football to practice them all, so spread offenses become specialized.
Zone Read and Bubble
Drew showed that the bubble screen could be incorporated as a packaged play with the zone read, and yes teams do this. In fact it's so common now that last adapter in the world Al Borges deployed a packaged run-bubble last year.
The zone read/bubble was the base of Rodriguez's offense at West Virginia, and the genesis of the Rodriguezian slot smurf who could best take advantage of that space, but there's a key difference between RR's West Virginia offense and the "packaged play": when that bubble read is made. At WVU it was a pre-snap read, based on the position of that nickel/SAM/Spur/HSP guy. If he tiptoed into the box: bubble. If he stayed spread out like a good boy Rodriguez could continue running his zone read game.
Packaging makes that read after the snap:
The problem is you now have two reads, i.e. a triple option. Asking a QB to read more than one thing on a play takes a big commitment to that offense, and a quarterback who can/will put the time into it. Denard was an amazing player, but Michigan didn't get very far running the zone read offense with him because for reasons of time (he didn't get to redshirt and was a sophomore when he became a starter) and the level of commitment he could put into film, etc., when dude was constantly rehabbing injuries and trying to be a student.
Keep in mind defenses have seen the zone read for two decades now. They run scrape exchanges, and CB blitzes at it, and deploy dudes like MSU's Marcus Rush (the best I've ever seen at this) who can shut down an entire option game by delaying, delaying, delaying that first read until the rest of the defense arrives to bottle it up. By that point the field corner and safety have beaten those outside blocks, and the harassed QB throwing the bubble is an invitation to a pick six, a slotback blown up in the backfield, or even a backwards pass fumble. The defense has some other schematic things it can throw against it to take advantage of a QB who's too green at reading the package, but the point is they're already trained to blow this up in more ways than walking the HSP down.
[Jump for more fun things that Michigan doesn't do for religious reasons].
Greg, two-parter. First, as a defensive coordinator, preparing for JT Barrett. Secondly, as a defensive coordinator, looking at what Joey Bosa’s able to do and affect offenses.
“Barrett is an outstanding quarterback. He’s very, very talented. He can throw the football. He can run it. He runs that offense very, very well. We’ve played against some great quarterbacks so our guys will be ready and we know what we have to do and we’re looking forward to the challenge of doing it.”
Is he your biggest challenge?
“I always look at the next challenge as being the biggest challenge so this is the next one so yes, it is the biggest challenge. It’s the next one, whoever you’re playing next. That’s the way we look at it and we’re excited about it.
“Joey Bosa, I recruited him. I’ve seen him as a youngster. He’s an outstanding football player. He’s like some of our guys. He’s a good football player. He’s young. He does some really good things, and it’s fun to watch him.”
What’s the single best game that sticks out in your mind in the series that you’ve been involved with, and what do you like about the challenge of going into that stadium and playing?
“I’m very, very fortunate to have been in this rivalry a number of times, and there are a couple of them. Every time we play is great. I was very fortunate the five years prior that I think our record was 3-1-1, and I remember going down there in ‘96, I believe, and they were second in the country and we beat them 13-9 and I remember that very well. I also was part of another school that had a pretty good game against them, too, at one time. I remember that one too and I still felt pretty good about that one too. Going down there’s special. To me it’s the greatest rivalry in college football. There’s nothing better. It’s two great programs and we are very, very excited to be part of it and we are excited to take our guys down there and see if we take the next step, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Brennen Beyer seems to step up a little more each week, and you’ve had him the whole way through. Talk about how you’ve seen him develop and what he’s doing for you this year.
“Brennen Beyer’s a Michigan football player. I mean, Brennen Beyer, I said to him before the game, and I couldn’t- I told him, I said, ‘I will not look at some of you guys because if I look at you I’ll fall apart seeing as how we all came together.’ I remember Brennen Beyer as skinny little guy and we came walking in the office and he was guy that the last staff recruited and I coached him for a number of years, and just to see the man that he’s become. He’s always been a man, but he’s what you hope every young man that goes to college becomes. He’s an outstanding football player. He gives it everything he has. He’s played through injury. He’s played through ups and downs, and he comes out every day and does his best in the classroom, off the field, everything. He’s just why Michigan is Michigan, and he’s just why it’s great to have an opportunity to coach him.”
[After THE JUMP: Mattison’s Monologue]
I told you I told you all
Michigan has a new starting center, I think. Ricky Doyle came off the bench to provide ten points, a monster block, and three offensive rebounds. The most critical of those came with under a minute left; Doyle looked for passing options, found none, and then displayed savvy beyond his years by following a single power dribble with an up-fake and a bucket that stretched the Michigan lead to five. Once the ensuing jacked-up three landed safely in Zak Irvin's hands it was time to exhale.
In the aftermath Michigan has a very odd Beilein-era win. Michigan shot just 13 threes against 33 twos and got to the line a whopping 29 times. Oregon's game plan was to shut off Death From Above; they succeeded but Michigan was diverse enough to scrape out the win anyway.
Defensively Michigan was proficient when able to corral Oregon into a half-court game. Star Oregon guard Joseph Young shot just 5-16 and only cracked 20 points with a series of desperate late forays that got him to the line—in one case, questionably. As a team, Oregon shot 26% from three and turned the ball over 14 times.
Rebounding was the only thing keeping them in it. Oregon grabbed almost half their misses. That's an issue that will have to be addressed. With Oregon's multiple bouncy 6'6" guys crashing the boards the centers were overwhelmed—neither Donnal or Doyle got a single defensive rebound.
But that's a win over a Pac-12 team that looks a bit better than its preseason predictions; Villanova is tomorrow after the Wildcats dismantled VCU by taking care of the ball and punishing the press—stop me if you've heard that one before. Doyle will again be key as 'Nova brings more size than any opponent to date.
News bullets and other items:
Derrick Green won’t be far enough along in his recovery from a broken collarbone to play against Ohio State
Hoke said that he has no idea whether a win over OSU would help him keep his job
He said he doesn’t worry about his job, because that would be a distraction and would detract from what he’s trying to do for his players
Someone asked Hoke how he would make the case to Jim Hackett that he should keep his job and he declined to make said case, saying that a press conference wasn’t the venue for that
The Game, mutual respect, rivalry, atmosphere, preparation, etc.
"Thanks for coming. This is one of those weeks where there's a lot of excitement and obviously with this rivalry, which I believe is the greatest one in sport and that obviously would make it the greatest one in college football, and so it's fun and it's fun to prepare. It's a game where the intensity level between both teams is always at its highest. I think we all want to play our best, and that's the goal, to play your best game that last Saturday in November. Very balanced team we're going to play when you look at what they do from [an] offense, defense, special-teams standpoint. There's a great deal of pride when you play in this game and coaching this game that's special, and you talk to the guys who've played in it and they can tell you how special it is.
"We've got to improve. We've got to improve every week, and that's one of the goals we've always had. At times we're making strides and at times we're not as good executing as we'd like to be, but this is a game that is like no other and we're excited about it."
So many people thought that Ohio State was going to be in big trouble when Braxton Miller went down. Can you talk about what their quarterback is done just filling in?
"Yeah, I think JT [Barrett], I think you look at the progression from the first start to going through the season and I think he's done a great job in how they manage and what he wants and has to do offensively. He's athletic obviously. I think the way he's thrown the ball, the precision on that – I know last week was one of those games where the way it started wasn't as good. I think he's overcome a lot when those things have happened and I think he's been a guy who's done a great job for them."
Given the nature of this rivalry, given the perceived disparity between these two teams, in what ways do you prepare differently for this weekend differently than past weeks if at all?
"I think it's always a little bit different preparation, number one, because of the game itself and being The Game that you both on both sides have a lot of passion for and those kind of things. In rivalry games I think the preparation that you put in, how hard you're going to play is a big part in what happens in it."
From your perspective having lived in Ohio, having coached in Ohio, even having coached across the nation what makes the Michigan – Ohio State rivalry unique compared to other national rivalries?
"Yeah, I think the intensity and the masses themselves. Buckeye graduates and Michigan graduates, I think that's huge is how they feel. The size of the stadiums they both have, the atmosphere in the stadiums, and the passion in the stadiums."
There's obviously some speculation about your own future. How do you handle that personally and professionally, especially this week when there seems to be more speculation?
"Well, you know, they can speculate and do all that. I honestly – if we get distracted, if I get distracted with what we're doing then that's not fair to those 115 kids, so from that piece alone, and I think I've said it, I've never been worried about a job. I worry about the job we do for those kids."
[After THE JUMP: Basically “can you explain why everything is so terrible?”]
Michigan (3-0) vs.
Brooklyn, New York
|WHEN||9:30 pm Eastern, Monday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Doug Sherman
Analyst: Kara Lawson
We've reached the actual tournament portion of the Legends Classic; while last week's games against Bucknell and Detroit were referred to as regionals, they had no bearing on which teams ended up in Brooklyn.*
This is really a four-team tourney. The Michigan/Oregon winner will take on the winner of tonight's matchup between Villanova and VCU, which tips off at 7 pm on ESPN2, tomorrow night at 10 pm. There is a third-place game at 7:30 pm tomorrow, as well, so no matter what the Wolverines will face a quality opponent tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Michigan's game tonight is an ESPN3 stream only, while ESPNU is featuring Pitt-Chaminade in the same time slot. And, again, tomorrow's consolation game gets the far more palatable time slot than the actual title game.
Scheduling. You're doing it wrong.
*Though, as anticipated, all four teams in Brooklyn swept their respective regionals.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||14||Ahmaad Roorie||Fr.||6'1, 175||60||17||Sort of|
|Low-usage FR PG struggling from field, but getting to FT line and converting|
|G||3||Joseph Young*||Sr.||6'2, 180||82||30||No|
|Excellent shooter, finishes at rim, good shot selection, basically the point guard too.|
|F||24||Dillon Brooks||Fr.||6'6, 225||71||23||No|
|Versatile top-100 freshman hitting outside shots, struggling at rim.|
|F||23||Elgin Cook||Jr.||6'6, 205||61||22||Yes|
|Good rebounder, very good finisher at rim, draws lot of fouls, also commits a lot.|
|F||0||Dwayne Benjamin||Jr.||6'7, 210||57||19||Sort of|
|Good rebounding numbers, has three-point range, woeful FT%, blocking shots.|
|F||1||Jordan Bell||Fr.||6'9, 215||62||12||Yes|
|Very athletic, lanky four-star freshman. Excellent rebounder, raw offensive game.|
|G||15||Jalil Abdul-Bassit||Sr.||6'4, 197||45||20||No|
|Three-point gunner emerging after very small role last year.|
|G||2||Casey Benson||Fr.||6'3, 185||53||13||No|
|8 of 12 FGA this season were 3-pointers; had ugly 0-point, 4-TO game vs. DET|
While still talented, this is not the Oregon squad that won 24 games last year and gave Wisconsin a major scare in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks return just three scholarship players from that team, and only two—star guard Joseph Young and forward Elgin Cook—were remotely significant contributors. The eight-man rotation now features four true freshmen, a JuCo transfer, and a senior who played just 7.7% of the team's minutes last season.
Dana Altman's squad has made it work so far, with comfortable wins against #328 Coppin State, #139 Detroit, and #112 Toledo, though both the Titans and Rockets hung close for a half before the Ducks pulled away.
They've done so in large part due to the exploits of Young, who's not only maintained very efficient shooting numbers while shouldering a huge portion of the offense, but has done an admirable job taking over as the team's primary distributor. His season averages pop off the page: 26 points, a shade over four boards, and an even five assists per game thus far. He's a lethal catch-and-shoot threat from the outside, boasts a decent midrange game, and is quite effective getting to the basket and either finishing or drawing a foul—and he's 18/18 at the line this year (not a fluke, as he's a career 88% FT shooter). Slowing down Young is Michigan's #1 priority, and several subsequent priorities, as well.
Young is joined in the backcourt by the freshman Ahmaad Roorie, who's mostly staying out of the way save for some forays to the hoop that tend to end in either a miss or a drawn foul and a handful of spot-up threes (3/10 on the year). Another freshman guard, Casey Benson, sees about an equal amount of time off the bench; he's either been an effective spot-up shooter (Coppin State, Toledo) or a turnover-prone non-factor (Detroit).
Top-100 freshman Dillon Brooks has displayed a nice jumper both inside and outside the arc, but while he's been able to get to the hoop (46% of his shots, per hoop-math), he's only finishing 38% of those shots and isn't drawing many fouls, either. It looks like he takes some gambles defensively; his three blocks and three steals are somewhat offset by his ten fouls through three games.
Cook is capable of playing both the four and the five despite standing at just 6'6, 205; he did so effectively last season off the bench, and while he now starts at the four he'll play both. While he doesn't have a jump shot to speak of, he finished very well at the basket last year—often off putbacks, as he posted a top-100 offensive rebound rate—and he's also a foul magnet. Cook's biggest issue is staying on the court; he averaged 6.2 fouls/40 minutes last season and has at least three in each game this season.
Nominal center Dwayne Benjamin is undersized at 6'7", 210, but he's posted very impressive rebounding rates on both ends of the floor while being quite disruptive (5 blocks, 3 steals) on defense. A former four-star recruit and very productive JuCo player, Benjamin has yet to find his offense this year, connecting on just 6/18 twos, 2/7 threes, and 4/11 free throws this season.
Four-star freshman Jordan Bell has been quite productive as the team's sixth man. He's 10/14 from the field on the season with 27 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 blocks in just three games. A very good athlete, Bell's made all of his baskets at the rim; he's not creating much offense, but he's good at finishing what others have started.
The final rotation piece is senior guard Jalil Adbul-Bassit, who barely played last season but is fourth on the team in scoring despite playing just 18 minutes per game. After being a relatively ineffective Just-A-Shooter last year, he's knocking down his outside shots and doing a much better job of getting to the hoop and converting, though we'll see if that holds against better competition.
Sample size caveat very much applies.
The first thing to know about Oregon is they're going to turn up the tempo; they've been well within the top 100 nationally in adjusted pace the last three years under Altman and rank 55th this season. With a small, athletic team, they're looking to run, and for good reason—they're posting a 61.7 eFG% in transition as opposed to just 51.8% in halfcourt, with nearly a third of their shots going up within the first ten seconds of the shot clock.
Oregon's defense has been very good so far this year, but their numbers appear untenable. The Ducks are eighth nationally in two-point defense (31.7%), but have played just one opponent that's shooting above 40% inside the arc this year: Toledo, which isn't exactly impressing with a 45.9% mark (200th nationally). Meanwhile, they're getting absolutely bombed from the outside, with opponents shooting 40.5% from three on a high number of attempts.
The Ducks are blocking a remarkable 21% of opponent shots at the rim, which is unlikely to last, and their opponents are only finishing 51% of their shots at the basket that aren't blocked; they're also allowing just a 22% mark on two-point jumpers. That seems... fluky.
On the other end of the floor, something has to give on the glass. Michigan's strategy of sealing off the bigs and letting the guards do much of the defensive rebounding is working incredibly well so far; in fact, M is first in the country in defensive rebounding rate at 90%(!!!). That number isn't going to last, of course, but a very undersized Oregon squad hauling in 42% of their misses probably isn't, either.
You want to run? Okay! Derrick Walton has been stellar leading the fast break this season, and in general M has been great in transition, either creating gimme shots at the rim (they've yet to miss there in transition) or open three-pointers of which they're making nearly half. Meanwhile, the team's transition defense has been quite solid—M's opponents have had a very hard time getting to the rim on the break. As long as the Wolverines take care of the ball, which they've done extremely well, then they should be fine in an up-tempo game; it may even play right into their hands.
Seal and grab. Oregon's impressive offensive rebounding production is mostly coming from three guys: Benjamin, Bell, and Brooks. For the most part, only two of those players will be on the court at the same time, so M just needs their inside guys to continue boxing out as well as they have been and let LeVert and Walton go to work—both have top-150 defensive rebounding rates. If the Wolverines can limit putbacks, they should be able to outshoot Oregon unless they let Young go off.
Go with what works. While there's certainly long-term concern that Michigan's best lineup at this point in the season features Max Bielfeldt at center, that shouldn't be a huge problem tonight; Oregon's only playing one rotation player taller than him, a lanky 6'9" freshman. If the freshmen are ineffective again, expect Beilein to have a quick hook handy.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 2.
1 hour 15 minutes
BATS [Eric Upchurch]
The usual pratfall.
Big three, yes please. Spike taking a leap forward. Need more production at the 4 and 5.
TALKING BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC
This diverges into a discussion about the ticket bubble and Big Ten expansion and how it feels like the breaking point has finally been reached. The appearance of bush league. The Bits Of Broken Chair trophy is amazing.
"Across 110th Street"
"What Becomes Of The Broken-Hearted?," Jimmy Ruffin
"When Disaster Strikes," Busta Ryhmes