TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
“ ’Sup. Where’s your glasses?”
I didn’t want to look cerebral today.
“It’s up to you.”
MGoYouAreStaringAtMeButIHaveNothingToSay: So. Norfleet.
“You’re not even going to ask me about my daughter first?”
MGoOfCourse: HOW'S KINDERGARTEN?
“She learned about caterpillars. And you know what the word of the day is? Metamorphosis.”
They haven’t gotten to bubble screens in kindergarten yet? [Ed: This was not me.]
“Psh. Bubble screens. No. They blow bubbles.”
Are you expecting a metamorphosis from last year’s performance against Notre Dame?
“I’m hoping it’s better than that. Holy smokes that was just awful.”
What didn’t go right early last year that all of a sudden clicked in the fourth quarter?
“Well we completed some passes. That’s the thing, when people are crowding the line of scrimmage like that, kind of forcing the issue. They were keenly aware of what Denard had done the year before. They restructured their defense to kind of stop him and force the issue with the passing game. We just weren’t early on completing many. We made a couple adjustments at halftime with the run game, and it helped us a little bit, but they played good, too. They came out ready to play and, you know, we were still so unpolished at that time -- not that we’re real polished now, but we did not play well at all and they played well.”
“Well obviously you know this is a big week, and it’s a great, great football game and it’s going to be a great test for our defense, and just starting out I can tell you our guys are really excited. We as coaches are really excited, so we are looking forward to playing this game.”
How impressed were you with how Notre Dame played against Michigan State?
“Very impressed. They’re a very good football tam. They can run the football. The quarterback really impressed me with his ability to throw the football as well as he puts a lot of pressure on you when he takes off scrambling, and he can run. They’ve got some fast running backs. They’ve got a pretty good thing going.”
Is preparation for them different this year compared with last year?
“Uh, you know I don’t know if it’s any different prep. They’ve changed a little bit but they’re still Notre Dame. They want to run the football and they want you to make mistakes so they can hopefully get a shot on you and try to test your coverage with their speed and take shots down field. So I think it’s a lot alike. ”
Sponsor note. Chicago-based Wolverines headed to South Bend: there is a bus for you. Sports Power Weekends has a couple headed out from The Diag Bar & Grill [located here]. 59 bucks roundtrip gets you a spot, various goodies to and from, a tailgating spot, and the opportunity to collapse in a frazzled heap after something ridiculous happens at the end of the game. Alternative: traffic, not hopping on your MGoBlog mobile app to celebrate/commiserate.
Eating: almost eaten.
I'll plug this one more time during the last-day frenzy, but thanks to the work of the community around here Martavious Odoms is nearing his all-or-nothing 35k goal for his Pahokee kickstarter venture. The Daily interviews Odoms about his project and its goal:
The goal is to install a garden that can be self-sustaining — a project that values community involvement as much as getting food on tables. The funds raised will be used to buy the empty the plot, pay for tools and seeds and to hire people from the community to work on the garden.
Odoms would also like to see the money help give kids in the community after-school programs or to teach residents how to sow their own garden.
“This could give someone an opportunity to be part of something outside of their family to feel like they’re making a change, making a difference,” Odoms said.
The staple crops? Collared greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes and okra, just to name a few.
“All the stuff that people eat here down here in the south,” Odoms said.
As of this instant, Odoms is a little over 3k away with eight days left. Get in on it.
TWIS and such. I went a little overboard on this week's This Week In Schadenfreude. Reconstructing the anarchy of a Colorado gamethread in which they're down 48-0 at one point became absorbing. Also, when the RCMB blows up they blow up spectacularly well:
WHAT DID I WATCH
I am completely terrified after witnessing the biggest failure of a game in my whole life.I really cannot even grasp what just happened. Are we really this bad? Is our offense completely non existent? Maxwell has had 3 years and this is what we get? I feel like god hates us. I live for Spartan Football, eat, breathe, sleep Spartan Football. I work overtime in the summer just so I can have enough money for season tickets and I get rewarded with this? What the f--- was that game? 3 points and never crossed their 30? Bell losing all Heisman talk.I felt like a snake bit me in the beginning and slowly but surely the venom ate away at my body. Yeah I know I will get down voted to hell for this but what I saw tonight was not good and the glimpses of all the bad are going to kick us in the ass this year
Applause. Unironic, tear-wiping applause. And there's like twice as much of this guy in the actual post. The RCMB is the John L Smith of message boards, except it can never be fired.
I promise I won't fire off more than a twitter zing or two this weekend if it goes poorly. TWIS next week: ND Nation versus You Guys. Please be ND Nation.
Gardnerceiving. He does not like the blocking:
"I don't feel like I'm ever going to be a person who loves to block," Gardner said with a laugh. "That comes with the position, but I don't think I'll ever love that."
He did pretty well in the UMass game from what I can see, FWIW. He is still a QB in his mind:
"I know I'm a quarterback, but as I've said in previous weeks, I'm helping the team, and I'm doing well."
We won't see where everything is in re: Devin QB until next fall camp. They just about have to move him back for spring since they'll only have Bellomy left. For now, he's got a potential breakout day coming.
They took my brains, but they gave me this extra G. Man, guys named "Gregg." This site has bombed Gregg Easterbrook in the past when… well, whenever he writes about college football, because all he ever writes about college football is about how dastardly it is that anyone would ever take another job. Occasionally he diverts from that topic to express bafflement that the laws of economics apply to it; mostly it's just the horror that anyone would accept having their salary tripled.
Anyway, the other guy named Gregg is paid to write things about sports stepped his game up recently:
Seriously? RT @GreggDoyelCBS: How can Bo Pelini demand toughness of his players? He had a tummy ache AND LEFT A GAME IN AN AMBULANCE
To his credit, he did back off of that after everyone called him an idiot. To his discredit: whoah, mega #SPROTSTAKE. Corn Nation says this is a "concern about news breaking in the twitter world," but the easily made error is easily corrected by a flurry of at replies comparing the offender's intelligence to that of a chipmunk. At least Doyel can recognize when he's craving acorns. Easterbrook has never shown any sort of similar capability.
Etc.: Jerald Robinson gets probation for his minor property crime. Orson on UF-Tennessee. Purdue has verbal commitments from a Dwayne Johnson—unfortunately an OL who will not get many opportunities to ask if you smell what he is cooking—and a Johnny Thompson—yes, a LB. Basketball season tickets on sale now. Derf. Individual three point shooting is pretty jittery. Hardaway should bounce back.
Chandler Park Academy wide receiver Csont'e York has largely flown under the radar during the recruiting process, and as a three-star he's one of Michigan's lesser-heralded commits. The Charter School Conference isn't heavily scouted, so I was curious to see how York performed over the course of a full game. On Friday, he caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and added a two-point conversion as CPA fell in double overtime to Old Redford Academy, 26-20.
To discuss York's performance, it's best to add some context. This was lower-division football, and it showed; I lost count of pre-snap procedure penalties when they hit double-digits, both teams put the ball on the ground, officials missed spots by ten yards, and quarterback play was... not stellar. Chandler Park's strategy also left something to be desired—despite having York, the lone BCS-level prospect on the field, facing corners eight inches shorter than him, CPA only targeted him five times during the game, three of those coming on the same drive at the goal line.
As a result, York spent much of the game run-blocking, acting as a decoy, or running routes downfield without much hope of seeing the ball. These highlights reflect that, and trust me, I could've added a solid five minutes of York jogging downfield to this reel. York is easy to spot—he's the one with the maize arm sleeve, maize gloves, maize shoelaces, maize stripes on his socks, and maize mouthguard:
[Hit THE JUMP for the full scouting report and photo gallery.]
I'm feeling quite a bit better about Michigan's DL performance now that I'm actually going over the tape. They're not doing much more than it seems like they did live, but since no actual NT types are getting much time and a lot of the problems rest squarely on the shoulders of things like "let's see if Mario Ojemudia is a 3-4 DE" and "let's see if Frank Clark is a three-tech." They turn out not to be.
Hopefully we can file this under experimentation and things won't be so bad when the big boys are actually in there. If Michigan goes long stretches without Washington, Campbell, or Pipkins on the field against Notre Dame I'll be surprised. And possibly catatonic.
Not everything can be waved away by calling it mad experimentation, unfortunately. Michigan's linebackers, be they beardy veterans or baby-fresh newcomers, are not making plays. One particular example leapt out because I'd just seen the UMass LB read Michigan's sprint counter, shoot past a blocker, and fill.
Thing I'm talking about == watch Mealer and the MLB
UMass gave up seven yards because all their guys ended up downfield but that's not on the LB.
On UMass's next drive they'd run a play that's very close to that sprint counter. It's just the plain ol' counter, but it's got a pulling tackle that leaves for the wide side of the field on the snap, a linebacker who could be but must not be looking at that, and positive yardage for a team that has struggled to find any.
Late first quarter, second and ten, UMass comes out with trips and a TE to the boundary (short side). Michigan is in the nickel look they spent almost the whole day in. Your DTs are Brink and Black; your ILBs are Bolden and Ross. Ryan is the DE who gets run at.
The tackle at the top of the field pulls.
My great and powerful desire in the above frame is for a Michigan linebacker to read that pull, bug out for the frontside, and hit whatever hole the tackle shows up in. I've been thinking of Notre Dame's linebackers this week since Notre Dame is the next team on the schedule, and they do this. If you zone your line one direction or pull a guy, they're gone. They go so hard it seems they leave themselves open to misdirection and counters, but that seems preferable to the steady drip drip of not getting off blocks.
Ross doesn't do this. He's moving, but the wrong way. Everyone else has taken two steps here; he's gone a half yard and drifted slightly to what would be the playside if this was the standard inside zone. Bolden, by contrast, sees what's going on and gets on his horse.
A moment later, Ross is kaput, Bolden is moving at the LOS, and there's a pretty big hole because Black is not a nose tackle.
Bolden makes contact at the LOS. This is a good place to make contact, but the thing that bugs me here is something I can't show you in a still.
Here's a still anyway. Bolden's got to the LOS and he's got this tackle and he forms up. Okay. But even if Ross is here, the RB is going outside of Bolden. All he does is make the gap somewhat small. He has not MADE PLAYS.
As I watched this I started getting frustrated with Bolden's approach. This is a technique thing and I may be wrong, but don't you want this contact to be less dainty?
I want some BOOM at the end of that approach. Bolden just kind of catches the guy, which has two negative impacts. One: he does not go BOOM. If Bolden really whacks this guy he has a good shot at giving Cox no crease, or at least forcing him to slow down and pick another one. Two: he cannot make a tackle because he hasn't hit him hard enough to set up outside. No tackle, no funnel, no point. His ability to impact the OL at the LOS is essentially irrelevant because he didn't turn it into the Situation BOOM [tm shutdown fullback].
Like, I want to insert a little fireball when Bolden makes contact here. Instead, crumpets. There is some amount of control that must be deployed to prevent you from not impacting the play. Here the control makes you… not impact the play.
Anyway. Cox bursts through the hole…
…and is hewed down after six yards.
Things and Stuff
Once you've committed to the run you should COMMIT TO THE RUN. Whenever you're hitting a blocker in the backfield you get a check-plus for your read. But because Bolden just impacts the guy softly, he does not force Cox into a new hole. He doesn't even get the diving arm-tackle attempt Ryan puts in, and Ryan has contain responsibility.
Bolden needs a little Ross in him on this play. Not the Ross on this play. The Ross on other plays. The ones where he meets a guy at the LOS and that guy ends up on his back, antennae flailing in the air.
I don't get what Michigan's reading. You can't chalk this up to Ross being a freshman since he's a freshman who seems in the process of displacing Kenny Demens and Michigan linebackers have been frustrating like this for a year-plus now. Are they supposed to be looking in the backfield? Are they making Mattison chew his lip in frustration? Does Michigan require their DL to fill a bunch of these holes and want to use LBs as a cleanup crew?
I don't know. I hear Alabama LBs talk about what they see before a play even starts…
…and I'm like whoah. It doesn't seem like Michigan's getting much of that.
Big dang hole here. Black gets put away, but I'm not sure that's a problem with him. He doesn't know a tackle pulled. He sees the guy in front of him start inside zone blocking. He wants to get in his gap. He does. This goes back to the questions about Michigan's line slants against Alabama. If the DL controls his gap and you've got the extra guy who knows where the line is going, you should have a free hitter somewhere. Michigan has not gotten that much this year.
Ryan: active. Here he almost makes a great play by coming upfield of his guy and making a tackle attempt without giving up the outside. He did this late enough that his attempt did not open the hole any wider. He's a quality player.
Nice fill from Gordon. This is only six yards despite a tailback running untouched through the LOS because he comes down well and tackles in space.
COOPER BARTON. Ace was in The Presence. Then he got some chicken.
FUNCHESS. Like OMG I don't know why Ace is so high on this guy.
OFFENSIVE LINE: CONCERN? At this point, probably.
DENARD INT. Still an every game thing, it seems.
DL: WHERE IS IT? Let's recycle this one from last week
SPREAD PUNT PLZ. MSU, ND, and OSU are now using this thing.
TALKIN' BIG TEN WITH JAMIEMAC. Mostly discussion of the MSU-ND game for obvious reasons. (Those being: no one else played anyone last week and no one plays anyone this week. Woo nonconference schedule.) We do get into Cal-OSU, the tire fire in Madison, and repeat this dramatic assertion: PURDUE IS YOUR LEWHATEVER DIVISION FAVORITE.
SONGS. "I Bombed Korea," Cake. "Disarm," Smashing Pumpkins. "Gangnam Style," PSY. It happened. I saw it. Was anyone else paying attention?
The usual links: