a terrible blight on our fine country
Today's recruiting roundup has the latest on the Green/Treadwell/McQuay triumvirate, the status of Shane Morris, and much more.
Morris Done For The Year?
This isn't at all how Shane Morris expected to finish out his high school career—the Freep's Mick McCabe reports that Morris will miss this weekend's game with mono, and his coach doesn't expect him back for the rest of the season. If you doubt the kid's toughness, read this paragraph...
“He had a sore throat and took some medicine and took it easy at practice but didn’t feel any better," Verska said. “Friday morning, he had a blood test and found out right before the game he had mono. He said he wanted to play, and the doctor said it was OK, because it wasn’t in his spleen. And Mom and Dad said it was OK. He tried, but he ran out of gas in the second quarter.’’
...and then see where he ended up a couple days later:
Shane Morris sent me a text saying he is hospitalized for the night with mono, and they're not yet sure what will happen with his season.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) September 19, 2012
The biggest priority for Morris will be getting back on his feet and caught up in the classroom—no easy feat with mono—and I hope you'll join me in wishing him a swift recovery, because mono really, really sucks.
[Hit THE JUMP for upcoming official visit plans of McQuay, Green, and Treadwell, plus much more.]
I've been complaining about Michigan's punt coverage for a while now but it was a Notre Dame message board* that finally screencapped the thing. Here's Michigan's coverage at the point of the kick against UMass:
Couple of gunners with two guys on them, two guys at LOS with a blocker coming down the middle. This was a short punt by Wile that would have been fair caught around the ten if the returner hadn't fumbled it.
Same, though the gunners are diving inside this time.
At the catch:
That's a 31 yard punt and there is a ton of room for a return if the guy doesn't fumble it.
Even worse as this time there's only one guy at the LOS. This one is the bomb.
If these guys could catch any of these punts, there is room.
UMass uses the spread punt, which is now almost ubiquitous.
When their punter contacts the ball,there are four guys already five yards past the LOS and a fifth is there.
None of the guys downfield is being dealt with by more than one blocker, and that heap at the top of the screen is comprised of four Michigan players blocking two UMass guys. This one was a duck that barely got more than 30 yards that Gallon stayed away from.
UMass's second punt is from the ten and is a line drive of about 35 yards. The director used an end-zone shot, but here's the catch:
UMass's third punt was from the 42. On the kick:
You've got the two guys M did in the center releasing; they're further downfield. There's a guy on the edge who is doing a crappy job of getting a release and two outside guys against single blocking who are free to run. This punt is a beauty that goes 45 yards in the air and is fair caught:
And this is one of the worst teams in I-A.
Playing with fire
Michigan is doing it. They're giving back large chunks of the yards Hagerup's boomers are grossing and leaving themselves exposed to a game-changing return.
It's probably too late to do anything about this without risking a Boccher-style debacle, and I doubt Hoke has much interest in doing so anyway. On the upside, if opponents keep doubling the gunners you'd expect a fake to be pretty effective once you're playing six on eight in the box. The opponent can choose not to do this if you're in a situation when a fake is a reasonable possibility, though, and then you're stuck with two guys past the LOS when the kick launches.
*[I found it by looking at referrers; it looks like it wants to stay off the radar in case trolls or ND Nation admins descend so I'll forgo a link.]
Since Notre Dame is the first “real” opponent Michigan plays this year with any actual 2012 data, I’ll be forgoing a themed post and taking a deeper look at the Irish.
At this point in the season there aren’t quite enough results to truly adjust for opponents, but directionally, the strength of schedule is going to be relatively similar between the two programs. This should help offset the fact that until October, it’s difficult to do a quality strength of schedule offset.
Average points expected based on the offense’s starting field position vs actual points scored on those drives. Only drives non-half ending drives in the first half and second half drives within 14 points counted.
Michigan offense: 47 expected, 80 actual
Notre Dame offense: 55 expected, 61 actual
Michigan defense: 48 expected, 54 actual
Notre Dame defense: 51 expected, 23 actual
When Notre Dame has the ball, both sides have been pretty average. Both the Irish offense and the Michigan defense are less than a touchdown from the the expected output of a typical side. When Michigan has the ball both sides are decidedly non-average. Michigan is nearly doubling the expected output while the Notre Dame defense has allowed four fewer touchdowns than an average team would expect over the first three games.
In the last two weeks Notre Dame has pulled out wins while scoring a modest 20 points. I think Michigan will like their chances if Notre Dame only scores 20 this week. It will be interesting to see which matchup will be key in dictating the outcome, the highly publicized Michigan offense versus ND defense or the quieter matchup of the Irish offense against Michigan’s defense.
Early season results tend to skew to the offensive side of the ball. In a couple of weeks the opponent adjustment factor will take that but until then, you’ll see numbers that are a bit high and unadjusted.
Group: EV (points per game vs average-positive good, negative bad), National Rank
Michigan Offense: Rush: +8 (16), Pass: +7, (32)
Notre Dame Defense: Rush: +3 (24), +3 (28)
Michigan Defense: Rush: -6 (100), Pass: +0 (41)
Notre Dame Offense: Rush: +4 (49), Pass: +4 (43)
If you focus on the rankings instead of the absolute numbers you drr two pretty evenly matched teams. Michigan’s rush defense is the key outlier, but the Air Force game drives that to be a (hopefully) temporary outlier.
Defending Michigan’s run game will be a very different sort of challenge than Le’Veon Bell and the All-
Two-Stars the Irish shut down last week. The personnel is in place for the Irish, so it could very well come down to an RPS contest between coordinators.
Player: EV (National Rank), Win percent added (National Rank)
Denard Robinson-All: +47 (1st), +93% (5th)
Denard Robinson-Pass: +21 (16th), +39% (20th)
Denard Robinson-Rush: +26 (1st), +54% (3rd)
Everett Golston: +9 (84th), +23% (64th)
Despite only logging two games worth of countable time, Denard checks in at first nationally in points created with 47, and points created on the ground (including running backs) with 26. His passing has even held up well with 21 points created, a number only bettered by 15 other quarterbacks. Golston hasn’t been bad but he hasn’t set the world on fire either.
I didn’t bother to post the running back numbers. Due to suspensions and slow starts, none of the three prominent backs in Saturday’s matchup have registered much on a national scale.
Devin Funchess: +13 (22nd), +30% (39th)
Jeremy Gallon: +7 (102nd), +5% (326th)
Drew Dileo: +6 (129th), +6% (326th)
Devin Gardner: +5 (158th), +12% (154th)
Tyler Eifert: +7 (90th), +18% (85th)
TJ Jones: +5 (170th), -10%
Davaris Daniels: +4 (211th), +10% (195th)
Robby Toma: +4 (213th), +38% (19th)
John Goodman: +4 (216th), +33% (31st)
Notre Dame has spread the wealth around to a variety of receivers, although most Michigan fans are thrilled that there are four guys to list for us, even if Roy Roundtree doesn’t even crack the list. Funchess is the headliner with 13 points created, good for 22nd nationally. What the Irish receiving corps lacks for points created they make up for in success in high leverage situations. Eifert, Toma and Goodman are all top-100 at this point, although the WPA stat can vary wildly at this point in the season.
At this point I have Michigan as a slightly better team but the home field swings the margin to the Irish. While I have been on board with Notre Dame having a strong season, I don’t see them as the favorite Vegas has installed them. This game is a coin flip and as noted above, could swing on a variety of factors. Can Notre Dame contain Denard on the ground without exposing their sparse secondary? Will Michigan push for the pass with the same game plan they’ve deployed in their last three losses? Will there be a breakout game for either the Irish offense or the Michigan defense?
Hopefully Michigan can make it four in a row. Another dramatic finish would be great but a blowout in South Bend would be better. Love Michigan and the points but straight up the numbers call for a narrow Irish win. Hopefully they’re just a little bit wrong.
Michigan 27, Notre Dame 28
UMass Game Notes
D. Robinson: 28 plays, +26, +38%
F. Toussaint: 11 plays, +3, +7%
M. Wegzyn: 24 plays, -2, -3%
M. Cox: 11 plays, -1, -3%
Pretty boring stuff this week, the kind of game you want as a 45 point favorite. I didn’t bother to add the adjustment based on spread because it just would have been a straight line across the top.
The media has made a big deal about the 12 freshmen that have already played this season, mainly viewing it as a sign that the team is in bad shape. I think it's mainly because the 2012 recruiting class was so good, not because the returning players are performing poorly.
Guys like Funchess, Norfleet and James Ross would find some playing time on most teams. I don't see many Ray Vinopals out there - players only burning a redshirt because the depth chart at the position is a tire fire. Yet another interpretation is that it is a reflection of Brady Hoke's philosophy which differs from past coaches. I recall that you didn't expect so many to play. How did you interpret the situation?
Class of 2005
The twelve who have seen the field grouped into categories:
JUST THAT GOOD: Norfleet (at least in the context of KR), Funchess.
STANDARD-ISSUE GROOMING: Darboh, Wilson, Pipkins
GROOMING TOO BUT PROMINENCE IS WORRYING: Bolden, Ross
BAD SIGNS: Williams, Ojemudia, Richardson.
WTF: Jenkins-Stone, Houma.
Ideally you wouldn't have Demens's job under threat in his third year as a starter, wouldn't be playing a true freshman blocking TE who was a tackle last year, and would tell Ojemudia and Richardson to eat a bunch of lard and talk to me when you've put on 30 pounds. Everyone else is about what you'd expect.
I'm not surprised most of these guys are all seeing time. I thought Ojemudia would be forced onto the field because of Clark's issues; those turned out to be less severe than they might have been but Beyer's injury still forced M's hand there. After I predicted a redshirt in Richardson's recruiting profile, Michigan saw two corners leave the team and a third go down for the year, plus Avery has/had back issues. They need to have him out there. With four corners in the next recruiting class they don't absolutely need to have him get that fifth year.
The two real surprises are RJS and Houma, but while they're irritatingly burning redshirts so they can watch Matt Wile pound kickoffs into the endzone their presence on special teams doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.
[after the jump: more redshirts! sexy packaged plays! A dinosaur!]
PREVIOUSLY: FFFF—Notre Dame vs. Purdue
Notre Dame enters their contest against Michigan with an unblemished record and one of the year's most impressive victories—a 20-3 thumping of Michigan State in East Lansing—to their credit. Despite breaking in a new starting quarterback, the Irish have impressed on both sides of the ball, meaning we get another September full of "Is Notre Dame Back?" headlines and, on a more positive note, another hyped up matchup with the Wolverines.
Before I get into the film breakdown, let's take a moment to enjoy this quote from the ND-MSU game. Kirk Herbstreit dropped this gem while discussing the answer to the game's trivia question (Brady Quinn holds the ND-MSU record for most passing yards in a game from the '05 MSU overtime victory):
"That was the 'Bush Push' year in '05. That was a great year for Notre Dame."
The new standard for a "great year" for the Irish: A 9-3 season most easily identified by a soul-crushing loss. Delightful.
Anyway, on to the breakdown.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Brian Kelly is one of the coaches most synonymous with the spread offense, though he's not as much of a pure system guy as Rich Rodriguez or Dana Holgorsen. Kelly adjusted his offense back when Cincinnati went from statuesque pocket passer Tony Pike to scrambler Zach Collaros, and he's done much the same with the transition to Tommy Rees and Everett Golson—ND throws in a fair amount of under-center plays and is more run-heavy than Kelly's Cinci outfits.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Basketball on grass—the Irish running game almost entirely consists of inside and outside zone.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Right in the middle, actually. Notre Dame's adjusted pace last year was 47.9%, just a tick below the national average (50%, obvs).
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Golson earned the starting nod in large part because of his mobility—he's at his best when throwing on the run or making plays with his feet. He showed off his wheels against MSU, escaping the pocket and getting the edge on a six-yard TD run in the second quarter. Brian Kelly doesn't give Golson much in the way of designed runs, but he's dangerous when he breaks the pocket—I'll give him a 7.
Dangerman: Tight end Tyler Eifert finished second to Michael Floyd in all three major receiving categories last year with 65 catches for 803 yards and five touchdowns, and he's started the year with eight receptions for 120 yards and a TD. As noted by The Only Colors, Eifert is basically a wide receiver now—he lines up on the outside or in the slot, and if he has his hand in the dirt—rarely, at this point—it's as an H-back. He gives Golson quite a security blanket at 6'6", 251 pounds, and is a tough matchup for defensive backs and linebackers alike.
Quite surprisingly, Eifert didn't record a catch against Michigan State, but I don't expect we'll see that replicated going forward.
Zook Factor: The Irish punted on 4th-and-7 from the MSU 48, which earns some Zook points, but with a first-year starter at QB against a great defense that's pretty understandable.
[The rest of the breakdown after THE JUMP.]
News bullets and other important items:
- Desmond Morgan will play on Saturday and will start.
- Richard Ash and Stephen Hopkins are likely to play.
- Brandon Moore and Brennen Beyer are out.
“Thank you for showing up. I think we had a very good practice yesterday. The tempo was good. The learning was good. I think we played fast and we competed well against each other, so that’s a good sign. I think we’re excited, obviously, to play in a great venue and play great rivalry game. It started in 1887 and [we’ll] continue it and go from there.”
Does the intensity ebb and flow with the varying strength of opponents over the past few weeks or is it consistent?
“You’d like to have it consistent. I can’t say it’s always been consistent, but you’d like the consistency be there every week so you can improve.”
Has it been consistent?
“It’s been decent. I think it was very -- a little more intense, but we’ve been talking about that a lot. The intensity and your focus and your concentration is at a higher level. Your speed of playing the game’s at a higher level. So I think that part of it has been good.”