Hockey pet peeve: "when a teammate tips a puck in on you, which is exactly how my first collegiate goal against happened. Thanks, Copper."
ROTATE [Bryan Fuller]
Per first spring presser:
James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone to SAM. Probably inevitable once Ryan move was announced. Obviously Michigan thinking more along the lines of the Stevie Brown style LB/S hybrid there, as Allen Gant is your other SAM at the moment.
And with this shift comes another:
Hoke said will run more Over defense as opposed to Under.
— Matt Pargoff (@MaizeBlueNews) February 25, 2014
That means the line shifts towards the tight end and the linebackers away. Instead of this:
Last year 5 was Clark, 3 Black, 1 Washington/Pipkins, 5 Heitzman/Beyer, LB Ryan, W Ross, M Morgan.
Michigan will run more of this:
Upshot is the MLB gets significantly more protection, the WLB has to be able to take on more blocks (everyone has to take on blocks) and the SAM can be a lighter player as long as the three-tech and SDE create trouble when single-teamed.
This is a significant change, as you can see by everyone flopping about on the depth charts. While it's not switching to a 3-3-5 and back six times in three years, it does signal uncertainty.
A move to the over does make the Ryan move make a bit more sense but either DE spot is probably a better location for him unless he's suddenly a savant.
Heitzman to TE. With Henry seemingly locking down three-tech that potentially bounces out one of Strobel/Wormley/Godin to SDE, where Brennen Beyer is probably your starter anyway. Heitzman gives Michigan a shot at blocking someone, anyone, and won't be missed.
This would be a good time to remind you that Hoke told the gathered folks at the Detroit Athletic Club that Jake Butt would be back by game three; even if that's a weirdly specific prediction this far out given Jake Ryan's recovery timeine that would be about right.
Shallman to H-back. He wasn't already at H-back?
Ross Douglas to RB. Supposedly had been running there on the scout team and impressing. Michigan does need another bullet there with the loss of Rawls and Toussaint and no recruits filling in the gaps, and meanwhile Ross was at best sixth on the CB depth chart. Kind of doubt he makes much impact this year with Hayes presumably a lot like him and more experienced.
David Dawson to (left) tackle. I'd been telling people Dawson was likely to be the G/T tweener thrust outside by a lack of depth, but even I thought he'd be assigned right tackle duties since he's 6'4". Nope. According to Hoke, the current and incredibly nominal first team line reads Dawson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden.
Erik Magnuson is all but certain to side into that LT spot when he returns, leaving Bosch and Dawson to duke it out on the right. You can read Dawson on the left as an endorsement since that's the most important spot, or you can read Braden on the right as an endorsement since they may expect him to start and want to get him settled in at the position he'll play.
The other guy to watch out for is Patrick Kugler, who could bounce Glasgow out to one of the guard spots and give Michigan some depth.
Logan Tuley-Tillman is out right now, FWIW.
I believe Jen Bielema has a term for this.
She calls it "terrible help defense."
[The rest of the MSU game in GIFs after THE JUMP.]
"MICHIGAN HAMPERED BY STARS' NBA CONTRACTS"
They did show McGary with like two minutes left, so I guess we're even?
Kind of good. Tim Hardaway's assertion about a week-long break is just true.
With yesterday's win, John Beilein now is 14-2 in games for which he has a week to prep since 2008. 10 of those vs. high-major teams.
— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) February 24, 2014
Seeding and location things. Seems like Michigan has a decent shot at Milwaukee. Lunardi's got them there and has for a while; Palm has them relegated to Orlando, but he's got them a #4 seed, not a 3. Lunardi has Creighton in San Antonio instead, which is a bit farther away for them but not immensely so. I'm hoping the committee realizes that Buffalo is just as close for Michigan. Syracuse is locked into one spot there; the other one is up for grabs.
Unfortunately, there's no slam dunk site this year that would be an obvious spot to put Michigan, so they may figure Milwaukee or Orlando is a who cares kind of situation.
Compare and contrast. I might have known this but I forgot it and now spring practice is starting immediately and I am reminded, so here is some possibly-old news. this week's Athletic Department Outrage Of The Century: undeterred by the miserable weather at the last 100 spring games, Michigan has actually moved it up, so that it's on April 5th. Which is also the date of the national semifinals in the NCAA tournament. Is Michigan actively trying to suppress turnout?
Not quite the worst scouting report ever. That is still Aaron Schatz on Mike Martin, but whoever's putting up the anonymous scouting reports for NFL.com is… well… he's definitely not Heiko. Jeremy Gallon's weaknesses:
Short with a limited catching radius.
Lacks top-end speed to separate vertically or run away from a crowd (consistently tracked down from behind).
Maybe on an NFL level?
Not a natural hands catcher and will often body the ball.
Okay now you're just making things up.
Lacks dynamic run skills for an undersized receiver.
Much of his production results from schemed bubble screens and lateral tosses.
OH COME ON
Hide yo kids. Both Michigan and Michigan State are being investigated by the Feds for not doing enough to deal with sexual assault on campus, with your favorite online and offline crank spearheading the charge:
[Doug] Smith filed a complaint last year with the Office of Civil Rights, saying that U-M refused to investigate the case and that the university’s grievance procedure does not fully comply with Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender.
Funny how the suddenly-legitimized Smith is now getting profiled by the News and used as a primary source when everyone was perfectly happy to ignore him this summer. It's terrible that this guy actually has a point about the insular, opaque, CYA way the university does everything. When you are going up against Doug Smith and losing, you are so bad at PR Dave Brandon is interested in hiring you.
Meanwhile in East Lansing, other suits in charge of things are caught lying to make themselves look good:
Near the bottom of the letter was a single sentence stating that the university is “collaborating” with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to “give members of the campus community an opportunity” to meet with representatives from the department.
But on Monday, Department of Education spokesman Jim Bradshaw told The State News the planned visit to campus is directly related to an official investigation into sexual harassment and violence complaints pending against the university.
Doug Smith might be behind this as well, as Michigan State seniors Keith Appling and Adriean Payne would be on the Island Of Expelled Athletes if MSU was operating with the same standards Michigan is. Seems like a short leap of logic there.
Elsewhere in legal procedures. Suffice it to say that the preliminary hearing in the O'Bannon case did not go well for the NCAA.
One of the NCAA's other justifications is protecting amateurism. Wilken largely skipped past the topic with a dismissive line: "I don't think amateurism is going to be a useful word here."
Dagger. One thing to love about the legal system is cock-eyed judges who blow through decades of smoke and mirrors with one withering sentence.
Nobody knows about soccer. That rumored Manchester United/Real Madrid game slated for Michigan Stadium in one URL:
The organizers were set to announce their final two sites recently and did announce one: Gopher Stadium in Minneapolis. It would make sense if another Midwestern football venue was the other thing they were waiting on, but still no announcement. A spokesperson for the group organizing this preseason tourney thing confirms that they are in "serious discussions" but can't announce anything.
The hold up may be about the playing field. When Michigan Stadium was being considered for the USA's most recent World Cup bid it became clear that any soccer match at the stadium would have to be on a temporary elevated platform.
Oh good. Michigan and Michigan State will have two games about one-third of the time going forward as the Big Ten adopts the least creative way to jam a 14-team conference into 18 games they can come up with: play five teams twice and eight once. Boooooo.
What they should have done: first 13 games are a round robin. Top seven and bottom seven are then grouped, final 6 games are round-robin within groups. Big Ten title: amazingly important. Conference stretch run: amazing. Downsides: schedule uncertainty and tough on bubble teams. But, man, just think of those three weeks at the end of the year. Would be must see.
Etc.: Five key plays. Zach Helfand on the differences between Izzo and Beilein. Tweeting at players is A FELONY. 300 pound man runs 40 yard dash twice as fast as you would. Then he talks to people about it. He will likely go in the top ten.
I mentioned this on the podcast, but here's a text version: the recent shuffling in the football program does not fill me with a feeing of warmth. Three things that have happened that make me frown about where we are right now:
Moving Jake Ryan to MLB. The linebackers were slightly disappointing last year but mostly because they ended up playing behind guys like Nose Tackle Jibreel Black and Richard Ash. They weren't kept clean, ate a lot of instant-release blocks, and tried to cope.
Desmond Morgan is a quality player and James Ross will be once someone blocks a dude in front of him; Michigan also returns both of their backups. There is zero reason to move Ryan to the interior.
Meanwhile, SAM is much closer to the WDE spot than either interior one. Michigan will flip its line on up to 40% of their snaps, whereupon Ryan essentially is the WDE. He has never had to read run/pass from behind a defensive line. He's is prone to breakdowns he can get away with on the edge, given his athleticism and time. He has a spot as a WDE in nickel packages that gets him rushing the passer, which he's really good at. He's not used to the zone drops he needs to take from the interior. His best asset—rushing upfield—is going to happen on way fewer snaps.
That move is flat-out nonsense. Who plays SAM now? Are they moving Ross there? Playing Gant? McCray? Any knowledge we don't have about why they're making this move is bad knowledge to have about the future: it basically means that the current returning starters on the interior can't play, unless you want to be a Mike McCray booster.
Reshuffling every defensive assistant. Cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, who has never played or coached cornerbacks, sounds… not good. I'm willing to throw anyone who can recruit at a RB or WR position, but corner seems like a thing that you should either have done yourself or have a heap of previous experience doing.
Other guys do have some experience with the roles they step into, but shuffling these guys around is redolent of panic and seems unlikely to do much of anything to help. They had something very good going with their DL development, something that personnel issues may have obscured last year.
And the defense was basically fine last year until the last two games, when they got ground down by the best rushing offense in the country and blasted off the field by Tyler Lockett. Neither was entirely surprising. Meanwhile, the offensive staff is sacrosanct save the coordinator.
Chris Bryant's departure. Not that I had much hope that Bryant was going to contribute once we'd heard about yet another surgery for the poor kid.
The issue here is that the exit, which Michigan certainly knew about or could predict before signing day, makes the whole no-commits-since August thing look even worse. It reinforces the toxicity that descended on the program midseason. It's one thing to lose the two DL you have on the hook because you can't run for yard one; it's an additional thing to replace them with air.
Depending on the status of a couple of special teams players, Michigan is one or two scholarships short and if inclined could have given a firm handshake to a couple of graduated fifth year guys. It's one thing to have a 16-man class when you've really only got 16 spots; it's another to leave three or four potential slots open, especially when you're the opposite of careful with redshirts.
That's why this class isn't quite what the star average makes it out to be, and why the recruiting tailspin hurts more than just on the defensive line.
These are the reasons I'm feeling nervous. But hey I was just feeling super optimistic in August so I'm probably totally wrong about this! That's the ticket!
Say uaaaahhh [Upchurch]
Last week when I was talking about the position moves—Jake Ryan to middle linebacker, Roy Manning to cornerbacks coach, etc.—I was mostly positive in the analysis portion, explaining the move as a reaction to having their best defensive player at a defensive role that's quickly becoming as defunct as the spinning fullback.*
In the podcast Brian and Ace expressed some heebies and jeebies over the moves. I can't speak to all of those worries; who knows whether Jake Ryan can read run/pass, or if maybe Desmond Morgan's pass defense was a gaping hole the coaches were covering up in other ways. I can't even give a full answer since Brian didn't do defensive UFRs for Michigan's last three games. But I thought we might use the data we have to see whether the strongside linebacker position in Michigan's defense has been phasing out.
Spread level: rising. The vagaries of year-to-year scheduling and missing UFRs may throw off the data but Michigan's opponents indeed have been throwing out more wide receivers in their base sets as of late.
|Average WRs in Formation by Situation**|
2008 was thrown off by teams going uber-spread: Minnesota, Northwestern, Utah, Illinois, and Miami (NTM) all averaged more than three wide receivers on normal downs, the former three going 4-wide more often than not. That's not too surprising given that defense had a plausible 4-3 run-stopping depth chart, but a huge dropoff if you could mitigate the DL and get past Warren and Trent on the CB depth chart. After that things normalized to a spread-leaning mix of 2- and 3-wide sets until last year.
I wish I had complete numbers. I can tell you that next year Michigan replaces CMU, UConn, Akron, Nebraska, and Iowa with Appalachian State, Utah, Miami (NTM), Maryland, and Rutgers. I can use 2013 stats (from cfbstats) to show you the playcalling breakdown of these offenses:
[If you jump first]
"After I hit that shot that day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the tunnel. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Washtenaw County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Michigan. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Michigan. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going." — Caris LeVert, probably.