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...]
What this is: We yoinked Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes and Stubb's offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where we really liked their BBQ sauce, and it turned out their CEO really likes this blog, and we like Joe's recipes, and [glances down] OMIGOD that looks good.
This is my new favorite way to cook steaks and it could not be any easier. They call this "CAVEMAN" or "DIRTY" style. Trust me, you will love it and your BBQ guests will think you're completely NUTS (As if they don't already) and they will be amazed. What is Caveman or Dirty style you ask? "Caveman style" is where you cook the meat directly on the coals without a grate. Yes, you actually toss the meat directly on the coals.
The key here is using only LUMP charcoal. DO NOT use the normal briquettes for this cook. It will not work. Not only does direct contact add great flavor, but it also helps sear in the juices. It also adds some terrific char flavoring. I will go into the boring science behind this style of cooking later. (Just remind me when I do the Ribeye caveman in a few months) GO LUMP or GO HOME!!!!
Flank Steak (Thin)
Serrano Peppers (Or Jalapeño)
Stubbs Steak Spice Rub
[After the Jump: gratuitous photos of meat…]
[Reposting for those who missed yesterday]
What? MGoBlog and handful of former Michigan players who are disproportionately cornerbacks about my age are going to be tailgating before the PSU game at Marlin Jackson's Go Blue Bowl Tailgate charity drive. There will be a raffle, and a tailgate Olympics where fans are teamed with former players for maizehole/beer pong/ladder toss, and a Q&A session MC'ed by Brian, and beer.
Where? The North End Zone, 1011 S. Main St., Building B, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Technically it would be Michigan Stadium's north end zone if the field was 300 yards long. It's the white and green house on Main Street, opposite Pauline, off the northwest gate of the Big House.
When? 3 pm to 6 pm this Saturday. Games will start at 4-ish, probably do the Q&A from 5 pm to whenever it breaks up or it's time to go to the game.
Who exactly? Well, Brian Cook, Seth Fisher, Ace Anbender, Adam Schnepp, Orson, MMMGoBlueBBQ promised to stop by, my 7-month old…oh you meant important people? Confirmed so far are Marlin Jackson, Brandon Williams, Todd Howard, Marcus Ray, Cato June, Chris Perry, and Zia Combs. As these things go, more are planning to come but can't make promises.
|Looks like this except none of us wear khakis and polos.|
The event was organized by Marlin's people, who asked us to participate.
NOBODY under 21 (except babies). They are checking IDs.
What's the cause? The Go Blue Bowl Tailgate and the Go Blue Bowl Football Challenge support Marlin's Fight for Life Foundation, as well as the the Phalen Leadership Academies, the Peace Neighborhood Center of Ann Arbor, the Summer Advantage Program, and Go Blue Then and Now. These all* fund extracurricular and catch-up programs for at-risk kids.
Marlin started FFL in Indianapolis and has expanded the concept up to Michigan. The school systems where these kids live have been dropping such programs and don't have the ability to implement modern teaching techniques (even though we've known they work for 15+ years) so FFL provides that. It's evolved a bit since we started supporting it: the in-school programs are Building Dreams/Field of Dreams (elementary/middle), and RAP (high school). Seal the Deal is the after-school youth flag football program. And they've added Be a Blessing!, which follows up with the kids who've been in their programs, and provides need-based assistance to their families.
Go Blue Then and Now is an umbrella organization for former Michigan players' charities.
The Go Blue Bowl itself is a flag football game for local kids football teams where former Michigan players coach them for a day (or most of a day then hide indoors because their Floridian skin still can't handle Michigan weather; not naming any names that are also a unit of measurement).
I gotta make a donation right? Yes, but what you can afford. We urge you to donate beforehand on Marlin's website, or buy some raffle tickets when you arrive, or be like "here's five dollars" at the gate. I do ask if you're going to drink the beer you donate like $20 at the door so they don't end up taking a loss on the provisioning of said suds. Suggested minimal donation if you're just gonna come by for the Q&A is $5. The point of the tailgate is to raise money for these charities.
There are things you get for donation levels of $100 and above, like access to the VIP lounge where players with weak-ass Floridian skin might be hiding, and signed memorabilia, and corporate sponsorship displays.
Also one sponsor who sends a check ahead of time will get two free tickets to the Penn State game that one of our readers donated to the cause.
The raffle? I'm not sure of everything that will be there; when we did our tailgate last year Marlin brought a jersey signed by Woodley and some footballs and t-shirts, and Six Zero had a drawing of a half-lion/half-Devin Gardner. There's a Michigan Stadium print by Bennie (godson of THAT Bennie) McCready that I'm bringing. And you can win a spot in the tailgate Olympics.
Ace (2:36 pm): oh god I just realized the only logical game to scout for penn state is... the rutgers game.
Brian (2:36 pm): hahahaha
If you need a refresher, here's the original Rutgers defense FFFF post, which looked at the exact same set of snaps, just from the other perspective. This game was really, really ugly, with Rutgers completely shutting down PSU's running game while hounding Christian Hackenberg with their pass rush; in general, RU overwhelmed what has been a very bad PSU O-line to date.
Personnel. As you can see in Seth's diagram, Penn State's offense sorely lacks experience, including on the much-maligned O-line, which features just one returning starter and two players in their second year on campus [click the diagram to embiggen]:
Jourdan Lewis, meanwhile, has earned full-blown ninja star status.
Penn State tends to put two tight ends on the field regardless of their alignment, and they'll even insert a third on occasion. With TEs that can also double as jumbo receivers, however, they still have plenty of flexibility with their offense; this will be highlighted in the play breakdown. When they do go three-wide, usually on obvious passing downs, DaeSean Hamilton slides into the slot and freshman Chris Godwin flanks him on the outside.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread-ish? Penn State lines up in the gun most of the time and throws it quite a bit, but that seems to be more necessity based on ability—the O-line can't really pass-block or run-block, so it's best to start the QB as far away from the line as possible—than a stylistic choice.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Penn State didn't run from their base set much at all—nearly half of their 33 "rushes" were either Hackenberg sacks/scrambles/sneaks (12!), futile plunges out of the Wildcat (2), or fly sweeps (2). They mostly tried outside zone or quick pitches to the edge when they did; they were clearly trying to mitigate the damage their interior line could inflict on themselves.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Varied. PSU mostly played it relatively slow, huddling up between snaps, but they'd go up-tempo to catch the defense off-guard, usually to covert third-and-shorts or to try to hit a big play after gaining a first down.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]