this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Eric Upchurch (original)
So that's what beating Ohio State feels like, in case you forgot or something. Apparently it involves lots of hugging, and not the cool Ace-meets-Stranger DAP hug kind. I'm talking about the the kind where you grab on like you're sharing a parachute and then hop up and down a few times to simulate a freefall, because you're not entirely sure gravity really applies right now and you should really find that out.
It was the counter clock, but also that they spent the last 10 years spitting in the face of the NCAA (discussion by michelin) and this completely worked for them because in college football winning makes you saints and angels (MGauxBleu) and if you do get caught it's okay because you can just
fire accept the resignation of that coach and bring in a savior (SixZero). There was only one thing we could do in return: beat them at football.
That was pretty awesome. Also awesome: Denard Robinson:
So all Denard did was go out and play one of the single greatest games this rivalry has seen. Commanding an offense that heretofore this rivalry had maybe never seen. Beating back the undeservedly arrogant and smug naysayers, who for so long had relished his and his team's failures. This Saturday was not theirs. This Saturday was Denard's.
That's an afterglow diary from My name … is Tim. (Aftergloat from THE_KNOWLEDGE is here).
Airvipermb looked into Robinson's passing stats for this year and found steady improvement. And bwgrudt1484 put Denard's career numbers against M's career leaders. Robinson needs to average about 351 yards and 4 TDs per game the rest of his career to best Henne (unlikely) but 131 yards and 1.5 TDs be our best rusher ever. This is the first time I believe I've seen "Tacopants" referenced as a last name, kind of like how MaGuyver's first name finally came out in his 7th (and final) season. Both of those links are quick reads and worth it.
Not as worth it: the new hockeybear:
In the deep, frozen reaches of space there is a hockey puck. This puck electrifies and floats into the deleted hockey scene from A Scanner Darkly. Meanwhile a polar bear puts on a glove and transforms into a Power Ranger. Summoning his hockey stick from the ice planet of Hoth, Hockeybear stands atop the hockey puck, roars, electrifies, and cuts to a Science Channel special on volcanoes. Its most redeeming feature is the summoned hockey stick destroying the International Space Station while en route to Hockeybear, which (the destroying) is either the sole remaining nod to Hockeybear's ship-, world-, and Michigan's rivals-annihilating ways, or an important public service message about collateral damage when summoning objects through space (Voltron, Silverhawks et al. take heed!).
Michigan makes its final CCHA trip to Alaska-Fairbanks this weekend. Preview? Yesman2221 has you covered.
In etc. Eye of the Tiger examines the SEC Myth for cracks. See if you can guess which two of these three outstanding names are 2013 recruits that Ace interviewed:
And this link is 100% OT but did anyone else with a "Kovacs, Michigan" Google Alert feed accidentally end up reading the most Daily article ever this week?
Jump, weeklies, best of the board.
It’s not quite the fourth quarter against Notre Dame, but Saturday had as many ups and downs on the Win Chart as any we’ve seen this year.
We’ll go with 5 plays each this week to mark the occasion.
1. Play 112, 14.2%, Robinson to Odoms on 3rd and 11 to give Michigan the lead back for good while the OL gave Denard all day.
2. Play 163, 11.2%, Robinson to Dileo for 28 yards on Michigan’s final drive.
3. Play 22, 11.1%, Robinson runs for 41 yards to tie it up early.
4. Play 165, 9.5%, Robinson runs for 14 yards to keep the clock moving and the drive going late.
5. Play 137, 9.3%, the defense gets in the mix, stopping Miller on 3rd and Goal from the 2, leading to the FG instead of a touchdown.
1. Play 7, –12.8%, Miller goes deep for the first score of the game.
2. Play 95, –12.0%, Miller goes deep a second time to give Ohio a halftime lead.
3. Play 172, –8.8%, Steve Watson’s personal foul pushed 3rd and Goal from difficult to impossible and increases the degree of difficulty on an impending field goal.
4. Play 134, –8.6%, Miller goes for 23 yards to give Ohio 1st and Goal at the 5 late in the third quarter.
5. Play 74, –7.1%, Miller uses my favorite NCAA Football play with an athletic QB, the wrong way speed option for a TD.
Ohio Game Scores
Rushing: +12, tops in Big Ten play and behind only SD St and E Michigan on the year
Passing: +11, second only to Northwestern on the season
Rush Defense: –9, worst score of the season
Pass Defense: –7, only Notre Dame was worse
Special Teams: +3, the late field goal pushed this to the top of the list for this year
Denard: As I tweeted earlier this week, Denard had the 5th best game of any QB this year at +24. It was both his best passing (+13) and best rushing (+11) game of the season. It was only the 7th +10 rushing performance by any QB this year and the first to pair it with a passing number higher then +3!
Toussaint: +1, a solid but not spectacular day.
Miller: Braxton Miller is going to be a force. His +15 (+6/+9) was his best game of the year by 6 points. His three games have been his three best. Had Ohio gone with him from the start Ohio is probably has at least 8 wins now.
Saturday’s +23 was the 9th best opponent adjusted offensive game of the year for any team and the best game in BCS conference play.
Fired Coach Dumb Punt of the Week
Several good candidates this week. Clemson punting from the 35 late in the third trailing by two touchdowns. Ohio punting from the 36 trailing by 6 in the third. This week’s award goes to the $8 Million Dollar Man Mike Sherman who punted from the 41 twice in the second half, going on to blow their
42nd 6th lead of the season and losing the final chapter of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry on a last second field goal.
Big Ten Projection Recap
Team: Pred W, Pred B1G W
Illinois: 8.0, 4.5
Indiana: 2.9, 0.6
Iowa: 7.8, 4.6
Michigan: 8.0, 4.8
Michigan St: 8.0, 4.7
Minnesota: 3.9, 1.2
Nebraska: 10.1, 6.1
Northwestern: 3.9, 1.7
Ohio: 9.3, 5.8
Penn St: 8.5, 5.2
Purdue: 5.7, 2.7
Wisconsin: 10.3, 6.3
That’s an average error of 1.4 games/team in total and 1.3 in conference play. Ohio was clearly my biggest miss, missing both numbers by about 3 games. Wisconsin was dead on and Iowa, Minnesota, Penn St and Purdue were all pretty close. I had the top and bottom of the Woody division correctly ranked but the middle was a mess. For the Bo division I swapped Nebraska and Sparty both nailed the other 4.
Nationally, picking conference winners went decently. Virginia Tech is favored in the ACC title game, along with other picks of mine like Wisconsin and Oregon. West Virginia is right in the middle of the Big East mess. If Alabama could make a field goal they would be playing for the SEC title and Oklahoma is playing for the Big XII’s BCS berth at bedlam.
In the smaller conferences, Tulsa, Toledo, Boise and Nevada all had shots but fell just short of championships while Troy wasn’t even close in the Sun Belt.
Advanced Metrics All-B1G
Offensive players are listed as PAN (per game)/WPA (total). OL is excluded because I have no stats specific to players. TE are evaluated solely on receiving. Defensive players are listed as Plays/Value (count and magnitude of plays made negative to the offense). Kickers and punters are cumulative for the season.
This is not meant to be absolute, but it is a ranking based solely on the advanced metrics, no judgment calls on my part.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin +13/+3.4
Montee Ball, Wisconsin +5/+1.2 & Marcus Coker, Iowa +1/+0.7
Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern +3/+0.8
Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern +8/+2.1 & Marvin McNutt, Iowa +7/+1.3 & AJ Jenkins, Illinois +7/+1.3
Broderick Binns, Iowa 47/32 & Whitney Mercilus, Illinois 35/36
Devon Still, Penn St 45/28 & Johnathan Hankins, Ohio 50/21
Jonathan Brown, Illinois 75/41 & Lavonte David, Nebraska 59/29 & Gerald Hodges, Penn St 52/28
Josh Johnson, Purdue 33/21 & Bradley Roby, Ohio 21/27
Brian Peters, Northwestern 32/28 & Drew Astorino, Penn St 34/18
Dan Conroy, Michigan St +12.4
Ben Buchanan, Ohio +10
Denard Robinson, Michigan +7/+3.5
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Michigan +1/+.4 & Rex Burkhead, Nebraska +0/+.3
Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin +2/+0.3
BJ Cunningham, Michigan St +7/+1.1 & Nick Toon, Wisconsin +6/+1.0 & Da’Jon McKnight, Minnesota +4/+0.8
John Simon, Ohio 40/25 & Michael Buchanan, Illinois 38/18
Mike Daniels, Iowa 40/22 & Akeem Spence, Illinois 40/18
David Nwabuisi, Northwestern 51/21 & Ian Thomas, Illinois 47/20 & Will Compton, Nebraska 49/18
Tavon Wilson, Illinois 28/17 & Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern 25/17
Jordan Kovacs, Michigan 17/27 & CJ Barnett, Ohio 25/18
Brett Maher, Nebraska +11.8
Cody Webster, Purdue +8
Ryan van Bergen, Mike Martin and Kenny Demens all narrowly missed spots on the second team defense.
Don’t know if articles will be coming weekly, but I have a number of articles and ideas in the hopper for the pre and post-bowl season.
A bowl game preview
The promised Game Theory Manifesto
A 4th down redux, a more detailed look at fourth down decision making with an added tool of offensive and defensive strength sliders for dynamic decision making.
A critique of success rates and the concept of “staying ahead of the chains”
A semi-related post on why I think the running back position is overrated
A more detailed looks at the EV and WPA implications tied to UFR.
EV and WPA by coaches and if I can find a good source of history, coordinators, as well.
Some recruiting themed posts around signing day on the back of a massive recruiting database I am building on the back of my play by play database. I think there is a lot of potential here, just don’t know if I can pull it off.
Any user submitted ideas that are sure to be better than what I have listed so far.
Finally! No,... FINALLY!!!!!
So that game was closer than it should have been. Raise your hand if you think the replay official had taken Ohio against the spread. A touchdown would have made it a 10 point game with Michigan covering the 9 point spread. But let's bitch about that later.
10-2 with wins against ND and OSU! It's beyond all expectations. If we hadn't laid an egg at Iowa and gotten screwed by the refs that game, we'd be sitting with just one loss, 3 close wins, and 8 curb stompings. You could say that I'm sold on this coaching staff. I had no idea the coordinators and position coaches would be this good. We still have a lot of issues with our WLB and our secondary, but we're light years ahead of where we were last season.
On to the pics!
I have to give him credit for coming out with an aggressive gameplan that put a lot of pressure on Braxton Miller's arm and Posey's ability to get separation. It almost worked. But the punt from the 36 yard line was a pure Zookian moment.
It's 4th and 4, the game is a high scoring affair, you've been moving the ball pretty well with your mobile QB and there's a strong possibility that you'd only be gaining 16 yards with a punt anyway. There's no debate. This was a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE decision. Their punter did a good job executing the coffin corner kick, but that still doesn't justify the thought process.
Add that to Fickell's continued clock mismanagement, and I doubt you'll find a single bucknut fan who is sad to see him go (or demoted, or whatever). Not forcing a punt at the end of the first half was not that bad with a one point lead, but wasting 16 seconds for a 3rd down spike on the last drive was just awful. You could even hear Spielman rolling his eyes at that.
F* That guy
Miller is going to be a problem going forward. He fits "Urban Meyer's offense" as Spielman called it during the game (so much for the two weeks of pretense) almost perfectly. He doesn't throw a very accurate ball but *cough*tebow*cough* that doesn't mean he can't be successful in that offense.
It is interesting to note that Miller had 9 TD's and only 3 picks. Yeah, he didn't have many yards or attempts and was under 50% passing, but that's still pretty remarkable for a true freshman. He's been missing his receivers in safe ways and pulling it to run if the coverage doesn't look right. That's pretty good ball security for someone you'd expect to misread coverages due to inexperience.
He started out the game doing what we expected, we just weren't ready for his speed on the first couple of plays. On this 2nd and long, Ryan is blitzing from a walked off OLB spot.
But his path is a little too much to the outside. I know he's thinking about contain, but he's got to aim more directly at Boren and then use his arms to stay off the block.
Instead, he gets pushed outside and the tackle is free to release onto Demens.
Morgan has to do a better job of reading that lineman crossing the LOS and react quicker to Miller. Ryan would adjust later, but this gave them an important early 1st down.
Mattison really sold out on stopping the run and stopping Miller's scrambling. On Kovacs' delayed blitz, you can see we did a much better job of filling the running lanes on the rush. Morgan is playing spy (which was kind of useless...) and the D-line is free to shoot the gaps away from the blitzer.
But Miller is very elusive and showed great leg strength in getting away not only from Kovacs, but also RVB. Fortunately Demens and Martin have followed the play allowing Kovacs a second shot at the sack. Meanwhile, Morgan is .... well I think Ohio watched a lot of film on Morgan and decided to go after him all game.
Martin and RVB were great all day (of course), and they were twisting on most passing downs. This is a pretty good idea when the O-line you're facing is known to have communication problems. On this play RVB is supposed to go around Martin, but Brewster gives Martin a pretty good pop.
That's no problem for the two seniors, RVB just decides to go first and Martin swings around.
The center and guard are so concerned with Mike, they let VanBergen go free for the easy TFL.
Miller picked up 1st downs with his legs all day. The early bombs really messed with our gameplan and gave him more room to run. On this 3rd and long, we've got Kovacs in the box in our crazy lineup with all the guys on the line and different people dropping out. Because of the earlier passing success, three people are dropping into coverage, even though Ohio LOVES to call the QB draw in this situation.
The result is that Morgan got caught with his weight going the wrong direction and Miller galloped over Kovacs for a big gainer.
But I think Mattison just decided he wasn't going to let Boom Herron beat us. I think Herron ended up with less than 40 yards because of plays like this. Here we've got Kovacs coming off the receiver to run blitz.
And again you can see the linemen shooting gaps away from him.
Kovacs gets in there so fast that both Boren and Posey are blocking air. Jordan gets the TFL and the Ohio is stuck in another 3rd and long.
Miller ran the speed option a lot the last few games and that continued against us. On this touchdown, he cuts against the grain and makes Roh miss in space. Spielman was babbling about how great a play call this was and how it was a counter speed option.
I call bullshit. They definitely do have a counter speed option, but this play wasn't it. You can tell because Roh is unblocked. On the designed counter, the tackle engages the end and tries to seal him inside or kick him outside.
This looks more like improvisation by Miller. I think they just tell Posey to block on the backside like he means it on every play. They got a TD here simply on Miller's talent, not on any blocking scheme. You can see he takes a hard jabstep upfield that fools Roh just enough so that he can get outside.
After that he makes an amazing jumpcut and his momentum carries him into the endzone.
THIS is the counter speed option, except it's a playaction pass. The tip off that it's a pass is that Miller turns away from the LOS instead of going nose towards it.
It's a well designed play that turns into a rollout to the right. They've got three layers with a deep corner, the intermediate cross, and Stonebrunner is going to release into the flat. If the Defense over pursues the rollout, there's even a throwback available to Herron.
But Stonebrunner doesn't hold his block long enough or Miller doesn't get enough depth and Roh is right up in his face.
A more experienced QB might have tried to hit #11 who is open, but like I said before, Miller has been very safe with the ball. Morgan does a good job of knowing who he's playing against and comes up expecting the run instead of uselessly trailing the TE.
He was wide open though. And Denard made a similar play that turned a sack into a short gain. Maybe Miller will be making those plays in the years ahead. Guh.
I'm just glad we'll have Mattison. Because when push came to shove and we needed a stop on the goal-line in the 4th quarter, Mattison basically declared that Miller wasn't going to run the ball in. And credit Kovacs for picking up the TE on playaction so that Miller didn't have an easy throw.
F* this guy too
With only one game of film to watch, our DB's were not prepared for Posey's talent.
But after a couple of short passes to him, they were very concerned about his presence. A little too concerned.
If Gordon hadn't screwed the pooch on this, the ball was not well thrown and he could have given Brown a harder time catching it since Miller threw it to the wrong shoulder and brown had to turn around to find it.
I'm going to give our DB's a tiny little bit of slack in saying they haven't faced anyone with Posey's skill except for Michael Floyd. And they had a lot of safety help against Floyd that they didnt' get for this game. Posey is as close to Mario Mannigham that I've seen on an oposing team. He does a great job of getting on the DB's toes and making them turn their hips. But still...
Even though this is a triple move, (headfake outside, cut inside, cut outside)...
You can't let a guy get that wide open. Lucky for us this duck was overthrown.
If you're going to put 8 men in the box and play man up against the WR, then freaking play man up. Troy has Posey one on one, but because he's lined up so far back, there's no chance for him to make a play on anything but a fly.
This deep cross was not a fly.
And it didn't help that Posey turned Troy around with an outside fake. Amazingly, Miller hit him in stride (no it wasn't a tight spiral).
Posey did it to all three of our DB's (Kovacs was essentially a LB this game). On the last drive he turns around Floyd. J.T. was thinking about getting an interception, and we almost paid dearly for it.
We were about a yard and a half from being down by a point. There would have still been 1:30+ left on the clock, but I was pretty happy to see this ball hit the ground. Our offense was pretty good, and Denard was pretty accurate, but no offense to Gibbons, I'm glad we didn't have to drive for a winning field goal.
[hit the jump for the remainder]
Hemingway slot business.
As I understand it, you use smaller, quicker WR's in the slot because they are matched up against lumbering LB's who can't keep up. You then use bigger, stronger WR's on the outside against the smaller CB's. It seems like we use Hemmingway in the slot quite often with Gallon or Odoms on the outside. Am I missing something here? I just don't understand why Hemmingway is in the slot so much. It's not like he is Floyd or Calvin Johnson, and they are trying to move him all over the field to keep defenses question because they are so freaked out about Hemmingway.
If you're not going to screen with those slots or use them as runners, there's not a whole lot of point to making those slot dudes little buggers. Putting your top WR there does get you some advantages.
One: it's hard to jam the guy since he's starting off the line of scrimmage and many defenses don't feature a guy directly over the slot. Two: you're essentially preventing the opponent's top corner from covering the guy man to man. If that's not the case you're forcing a nickel package on the field and forcing that corner away from his regular spot. This can have negative impacts on run fills from both members of the secondary. Three: hypothetically your big guy is a relatively good blocker and having him in the slot can help you attack the edge. This works better when we're talking about Floyd or BJ Cunningham.
Just because Hemingway isn't Floyd or Megatron doesn't mean he's not the closest thing Michigan has available, and since the Michigan offense involves zero quick throws to the slot, putting him there doesn't cost you anything.
A timely response on next year's OL.
Despite the awesome win at Illinois this week I still felt like Omameh had a rough day as I saw him get beat on a few occasions. Here's a question for you - based on the outlook for 2012, do you think the coaches might consider moving him to RT and keeping Schofield and Barnum as the two guards? Maybe Omameh just isn't cut out for mauling large DT or pulling, which is what the guard needs to do in this offense.
I think that's a possibility, but one that will depend on how quickly Chris Bryant progresses and how ready to play Kyle Kalis is more than Schofield.
I bet a dollar Schofield is the starting right tackle next year. He was neck and neck with Huyge for the starting job there before Barnum went down; Omameh has not played tackle in two or three years; there are no other tackles on the dang roster. If Schofield isn't the second-best pass protector on the team next year I'll be shocked. So he goes outside.
That means Omameh moving to tackle makes him a backup. Is that a realistic possibility for a would-be three year starter competing with freshmen, one of them a true freshman? Normally the answer there would be "no way" but watching him get chucked to the ground by Illinois (and everybody else) and seeing Omameh's inexperience pulling makes you wonder. He's been hurt more than anyone else on the offense by the coaching change and it's not a huge stretch to see a 340-pound mauler displace him, no matter the experience difference.
That might not be a bad thing. Omameh as the #6 lineman means there is a #6 lineman. Right now that looks far from guaranteed.
MGoBlog ruins relationships.
I've been dating an LSU alum for almost 3 months. In the week leading up to their big game I made the mistake of explaining (unsolicited) the ethical shortcomings of oversigning and the significant competitive advantage that it promotes. She follows CFB sparingly and didn't have much to say about the topic, but at her friends' game party on Saturday night she made sure to have the LSU contingent confront me. The return arguments went something like "you're jealous", "it's a numbers game", and "my friend's cousin plays for the team, he's not very good and he hasn't been cut", etc.
I'm no longer concerned with proving my point but rather with the chasm that oversigning has created in our relationship. Needless to say, she didn't agree with me and said that she just wanted me to be an LSU fan with her. Naturally, I want her to follow Michigan, too. I'm conflicted because I can't reconcile supporting Les Miles or the SEC with my own values. What's a man to do?
If your girlfriend is following LSU only sparingly she will not be able to tell the difference between your mild affection for the Hat's grass-eating insanity and a genuine desire for LSU to win. That will get you through games against the SEC West's collection of robot mercenary Bible salesmen. LSU is the lesser evil in their division if only because Miles is Loki incarnate.
Past that I can't help you. LSU had an assistant coach fired for arranging illicit benefits for a recruit. LSU's oversigning practices are just short of Alabama's for overall odiousness. LSU is mixed up in the Lyles scouting thing. If they were exposed to the same level of scrutiny OSU just went through, Baton Rouge would be a smoking, deliciously-scented crater. They're fun, I guess. I hate fun.
It kind of sounds like this girl is not a winner, anyway. Having her friends dogpile on you to offer sports talk radio opinions about oversigning is not a good sign. "Hey, I know what my boyfriend will like: being berated by a room full of people." Find a nice Texas alum so you can accuse the Longhorns of destroying college football, preferably at a Mack Brown house party.
[ED-S: Pro-tip: don't take relationship advice from Brian unless your relationship is based on an incomparable understanding of college football]
Coaching: it matters.
this year; last year
There's been a long line of assertions about college football being highly dependent on unusually gifted/determined athletes (It's not about X's and O's; it's about Jimmies and Joes comes to mind), and that coaching is more an area where the game can be lost and talent squandered (Ron Zook) or the marginal advantages in the same team strategy add up to wins over equally talented teams (Jim Tressel).
While it seems that some players excel regardless of coaching (Brandon Graham, Jordan Kovacs), the turnaround of Michigan's defense seems to be as good a test case as any for how coaching affects performance. They improved dramatically, but they did it opposite an offense that was similarly potent and returned almost everyone from a year ago, played similar caliber teams if not the same teams, and employed youth effectively in the secondary in stark contrast to previous years.
In light of this, all things being equal, how big a difference do you think having great versus "just good" coaching makes in college football (Like if Michigan had hired anyone who had the misfortune of not being born a Raven's defensive coordinator), setting aside that it only needs to be one point better in each game for the win?
The only thing Greg Mattison and Greg Robinson have in common other than first names—I'm pretty sure they're not even the same species—is their ability to mutter "scheme is overrated" when asked a question they don't really feel like answering. But if this year's Michigan defense has taught anyone anything it's that yes, scheme matters a lot. So does technique coaching.
Michigan did not go from 108th in the country to top 20 by replacing their players. They did it by playing a defense that made sense, delivering remarkably effective zone blitzes, and making certain total scrubs a lot better at football.
Scheme matters. So does everything else. Acquiring your pieces is a third of the game. Developing them into football players is a third. And deploying them effectively is a third.
GRADES AT THESE THINGS FOR VARIOUS THINGS
- Acquire: C-
- Develop: F
- Deploy: F
2011 Michigan defense
- Acquire: C+
- Develop: A
- Deploy: A-
- Acquire: B+
- Develop: B+
- Deploy: A
- Acquire: A-
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: C
Jim Tressel regime
- Acquire: A*
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: A-
Brady Hoke so far (tenuous)
- Acquire: A
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: B+ (provisional)
Fight over the niggling half-grades if you must. To answer the guy's question, the difference between great and "just good" schematic coaching in college football is not a massive difference in win percentage—it's not going to win you three games a year—but when you're at the level Michigan expects to be, edging out an extra half-win per year has a massive impact on the overall prestige of your program. The difference between 6-6 and 7-5 is nothing. The difference between 10-2 and 11-1 is immense, as Wisconsin and their omission from national title discussion have found out.
*[Illicit or no.]
Spread: we wants it forever.
A question that I would love to hear Borges asked is, given the fact that he has run a lot of spread this year, for really the first time in his career because of Denard, has it influenced his offensive philosophy? How he will approach game planning in future?
He always talks about how he's changed over the years and added things to his concepts, and I would love to hear him talk about that. I have a hope that we actually do not move completely away from the spread once Denard is gone--I would love it if we retained some of that concept and retained the ability to run the ball from the QB position. I think it really complicates defensive planning to have a dual threat guy back there (no offense Shane Morris). Is it possible to have Heiko ask a question of that sort?
No one can be certain, but since your question conjured forth an image of Heiko trudging to a press conference with "Taps" playing in the background… eh… I'm guessing not so much. When these guys came in they told everyone in no uncertain terms that Michigan football was running power down your throat, and they kept trying to do that from time to time no matter how spectacularly ineffective it had proven.
Is the Denard Robinson experience going to change that? Probably not. Borges has been an offensive coordinator for decades. Two years of Denard are just a couple additional logs on an already raging fire of this metaphor makes no sense. When he's gone Borges will have Gardner, Bellomy, Shane Morris, and a clobberating OL of Lewan, Barnum, Miller, Kalis, and Schofield with Chris Bryant and others waiting in the wings. He might (should?) have Bri'onte Dunn. Even if he's learned some cool stuff over the past couple years there's not much he'll be able to carry over with the personnel he'll have. While Gardner's pretty fast he's nowhere near the runner Denard is. (Rodriguez's disastrous OL recruiting helps smooth this transition: all the underclass Omamehs are air.)
Maybe we'll see a zone read or two, an inverted veer here and there, but even now it's obvious what Borges wants to do despite not being able to do it even a little.
I do find this a little depressing, but only a little. If Michigan puts together a pro-style offense with personnel like they had through most of the aughts and actually lets it rip that promises to be fun, especially with Ohio State transitioning to an offense that wants different things than Michigan will. I'd still like them to take runs at QBs like Braxton Miller and Devin Gardner, but I think they will—they took Bellomy, who is a mobile guy with the ability to develop into a thrower.
Argh, I'm getting this up as quickly as possible after forgetting to save and having half the post eaten the first time around. Apparently I need a not-so-friendly reminder to use the save button more often. Duly noted.
Bri'onte Dunn Update: Fred Jackson Deployed
Bri'onte Dunn thoroughly enjoyed his Michigan visit last weekend ($, info in header), telling this to Sam Webb:
“It was a good atmosphere,” Dunn said regarding the Saturday afternoon spectacle at the Big House. “That was first time going to an Ohio State - Michigan game at Michigan, and it was a good experience. I think it was more intense (than last week's game versus Nebraska). It was a more important game, the game was close, and it was more fun. The coaches were very happy about winning and they were talking about how they wanted me to come down there. They were all hugging me and just very happy about me coming down two weeks in row.”
With Dunn being on Michigan's sideline as they faced the arch-rival school he's currently committed to, Dunn's stated disdain for playing in the spread, and Ohio State hiring noted spread guru Urban Meyer as their head coach, this is a done deal, right? Not so fast, my friend ($):
"Coach (Urban) Meyer called me tonight, and it was great speaking with him," Dunn stated. "I was told he was going to call me tonight, but it was still pretty awesome hearing him call. We talked for a while, and he also talked to my dad, and it went great."
"Coach Meyer said he's going to stop by my school and see me soon," he added. "I had a few questions I wanted to ask him, but I got kind of nervous and I never asked them. I will definitely look forward to talking to him face to face."
The big question that must be asked: How is Dunn going to fit into the offense when Urban Meyer has never produced a 1,000-yard rusher as a head coach, despite (contrary to his claims) having a couple Dunn-sized backs at Florida and Utah? That one could be tough to answer—at least honestly—for Meyer if he hopes to keep Dunn in the fold at OSU. Meanwhile, Michigan sent in Fred Jackson for an in-home visit, and while the conversation focused on academics ($, info in header), I'm sure Dunn was reminded he'd be like Tom Harmon but faster, with more Heismans, and a better post-playing acting career if he came to Ann Arbor. Dunn has confirmed that he'll be an early enrollee, so his decision will be coming in the relatively near future.
Another player who will be deciding soon is wideout Amara Darboh, who also had a real good time at the Ohio State game and has set a concrete timetable for his annoucement ($):
Sam Webb: As far as your recruitment goes, your coach did an interview last week and said a decision could come from you this week. Is that accurate for you?
Amara Darboh: “Yeah, I think I need to talk to my guardian and people that are close to me and stuff, but yeah. I’m at that point where I think it could come soon. I think it’s going to be no later than before Christmas. I just want to get it done with and go into (shoulder) surgery knowing where I’m going to go.”
Darboh could take one last visit to Florida, but he's unsure if he'll do so—either way, the decision will come by Christmas and quite possibly sooner than that. Another wideout with a similar timetable is Jehu Chesson, who has Michigan in his top three and will announce by Christmas, according to TomVH ($). Chesson struck up a friendship with Darboh, and the two could even be a package deal ($, info in header), which would be a great sign for the Wolverines.
Also impressed with his visit, and for good reason, was Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett, pictured at right with Jake Long and 2012 commit Erik Magnuson. Tim Sullivan has a feature on Garnett in the Free Press, and the signs look good for Michigan:
Over the weekend, Garnett visited Ann Arbor to take in the experience at Michigan for the first time. While in town, he met up with his friend, Calrsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, who is already committed to Michigan. Thanks in part to Magnuson’s presence, Garnett enjoyed the visit, and has moved Michigan into the top group of schools on his list.
“Thank you to Michigan football for showing me a great time,” he said on his Twitter account Sunday. “I love it in Michigan can't wait to be back! Go Blue!”
The Wolverines are now in his top two along with Stanford ($). There's still a long way to go with Garnett's recruitment, as he'll be taking official visits to Notre Dame and Miami in December and January before making his final decision (he could visit Oklahoma, as well). Also in that free update: Michigan will make an in-home visit with Zach Banner tomorrow, and the Wolverines are in his top five with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Washington.
Garnett and Banner aren't the only options for the final O-line spot in the class, as Michigan improved their standing with Chicago Simeon OL Jordan Diamond over the weekend ($, info in header):
“I loved it,” Diamond said regarding his time in Ann Arbor Saturday. “I Ioved everything about it. I loved the atmosphere, the fans, the crowd…it was absolutely crazy today! I really enjoyed myself. The game was crazy. I absolutely loved it. It was a different experience from the UMASS game I went to earlier in my career. It moved (the Wolverines) up, definitely. Definitely it did.”
How far up? We'll have to wait to find out, as Diamond plans on trimming his list down to 5-10 schools within the next couple of weeks—he's stated throughout the process that he's taking things slow, and that's exactly what he's doing. The Wolverines will almost certainly be a factor until the end, however.
Quickly: Urban Meyer's hiring isn't exactly good news for Michigan despite Dunn's spread hatred, as Yuri Wright said "heck yeah" when asked if he was now interested in the Buckeyes (free article); Stefon Diggs has narrowed his list to eight schools—Michigan, Cal, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Auburn, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, who was a late replacement for Maryland on the list; another wideout to keep an eye on ($, info in header) is Upland (CA) four-star Kenny Lawler, who just decommitted from Arizona State; according to TomVH, Michigan is back to hotly pursuing TE Taylor McNamara ($), who's being recruited hard by fellow Californian Magnuson right now and is also friends with Garnett.
Pee-Wee Loves His Visit and Kalis Gets His Fifth Star
Ondre "Pee-Wee" Pipkins is the subject of a free article by Sam Webb, and you are strongly encouraged to read the whole thing:
“Aww man, that right there was like witnessing history,” Pipkins exclaimed. “Michigan hadn’t beaten them in seven years. I was just sitting back watching like, ‘wow, they actually did it!’ Everybody had a different outlook on Brady Hoke, saying he wasn’t going to win over eight games. Some said he wouldn’t even win eight games. He proved a lot of people wrong. I feel like he had the same team that Rich Rodriguez had and he basically took those kids and taught them how to play football instead of just telling them to play. He actually broke it down and was teaching them. That’s what (the players) were telling me on my visit. ‘We actually learned how to play football.’ I was sitting in the stands and I was just happy for them. They’d been working hard all season.”
Okay, mild gut-punch for the remaining Rodriguez zealots out there, but man, that kid is excited to be a Wolverine. Pipkins also walked into Greg Mattison's office wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt—to which the former Ravens DC responded, "Get out of here!"—and spent time with Shane Morris recruiting Jordan Diamond. Fan favorite in the making? I think so.
Meanwhile, Rivals has released their new Rivals100 and Rivals250—Touch the Banner has you covered on all the changes (100, 250) for Michigan commits and targets—but the big news is that Kyle Kalis moved up and got his coveted fifth star:
"In 10 years of covering recruiting, Kalis is one of the most college-ready offensive linemen I have seen. Physically he appears able to step on a college field right now, and his technique is advanced beyond his years," said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. "The other thing that sets Kalis apart is that he is a very versatile lineman. He can play right or left tackle but also bump down to guard if his college team needs him there."
National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell added that Kalis looked great in pass protection in his game against Don Bosco Prep, which helped him earn that fifth star as that opens up the opportunity for him to play pretty much anywhere on the line. In non-surprising news, considering the reaction to his commitment switch from Ohio Sate to Michigan, Kalis reitereated that he will not be going back to the Buckeyes now that Urban Meyer is their coach ($, info in header).
Holy [Bleep], Ty Isaac
DO WANT [emphasis mine]:
Following a record-setting game in which he displayed why he is – if not the best college prospect in Illinois – on a very short list of premier players in the state, Isaac could do nothing more than politely summon some soft-spoken words to reporters looking for him to put one of the most surreal games in state history in perspective. But that’s what happens when you rush for a state-title game record 515 yards and six touchdowns, yet still lose 70-45 to nemesis Lombard Montini, which was exactly what Isaac did Saturday in the Class 5A championship.
That effort came on just 26 carries, for a solid 19.8 yards per carry, and Isaac's TD runs covered 71, 63, 56, 66, 2 and 69 yards. His defense should probably apologize profusely, as I'm not quite sure how it's possible to lose when your running back RUNS FOR 515 YARDS AND SIX TOUCHDOWNS. Isaac hasn't gotten too deep into the recruiting process yet, but is "high on Michigan" ($, info in header) according to 247Sports, who also have a free feature on the junior from Joliet (IL) Catholic:
Some of the schools that have offered have made an impression on both of Isaac’s parents.
“Notre Dame and Michigan,” Tyrone said. “Not to say they’re at the top of Ty’s list, but I’d have to say those two, and I can see Ty has a high-level of interest in those schools. I ask him and he says Dad, I don’t know yet. I just want him to be as informed as he can. Most of the schools in the Midwest we’ve seen and we’re going to see a lot more places.”
“We have met phenomenal people,” Karen said. “I can’t say there is anyone we met we haven’t liked. People say recruiting is so much fun, and it’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. I loved the Michigan staff. I love the Notre Dame staff. We had a great visit with the people from Wisconsin. Coach (DeAndre) Smith at Illinois is a great guy. Lester Erb from Iowa is very nice.”
Read the rest and try to figure out how this guy isn't a five-star across the board yet. I can't.
Quickly: WR Laquon Treadwell enjoyed his visit and may be closer to a decision ($, info in header); ditto DB Shaq Wiggins ($, info in header); paywalled articles on 2013 recruits who visited (and of course, liked their visits): Brother Rice LB Jon Reshke, Owensboro (KY) Apollo OL Hunter Bivin, Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney S Marcus McWilson, Dayton (OH) Huber Heights Wayne OL Lovell Peterson, and Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon, who could be making an early decision this summer.
"Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details."
---Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious
The above reference is to a short story my 11th grade English teacher (Hi Mrs. Bruton!) would be very proud I remembered. In it a fictional JL Borges speaks of conversations with a young autistic savant named Funes. Funes is so mathematical he invented his own way of counting. Then he dies of congestion of the lungs. So it goes.
The other pic is from an early M presser with Al Borges when he was asked how he would use Denard. There were contiguous details: You gotta use him. We'll think up some ways to utilize those legs. We're going to run our offense. The voice was sharp, mocking.
And through the season the thoughts of the young Borges were realized:
They were ways, but not the way.
We have all moved on from the last three years. We have t-shirts and memes and a competent defense and a win over Ohio and a new spiteful way of referring to our rival. Yet until Shane Morris is zipping DOs to myriad tight ends in the flat there is going to be a Godwin's Law*-ishness about discussing the offense that best fits the offensive personnel at Michigan because we fired the guys who invented it.
* Technically it's a corollary.
First a note that advanced users can skip: I'm using formation because each formation comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses selected by the guy calling the plays. Once the ball is snapped all hell breaks loose and it's way harder to judge decisions or coaching. Of the relevant formations, the I-form is great for running because you get two backs (one usually a lead blocker) immediately moving toward the line of scrimmage and your play's chosen point of attack, but not great for passing because either you're committing two eligible receivers and precious QB time to a run fake, or you're immediately showing pass when the RBs are bailing out of the QB's drop line. The Ace is basically I-form but you swap the FB for a WR or TE. It's a compromise formation, slightly better for passing, not great at either.
The shotgun's fundamental running flaws can be somewhat mitigated by: 1) Zone Blocking, which lets the runner scan for creases like a QB instead of hitting a certain spot ASAP, 2) Backs who can see and accelerate quickly into those gaps, 3) A run-threat QB who can keep the defense from teeing off the tailback, 4) Spreading receivers out so that their defenders are too far away to help the inside running game, and 5) Optioning and the threat thereof, e.g. Rich Rodriguez's zone read.
These are kind of very specialized things to get, and you need like three or four of them just to get shotgun running on par with the natural advantages of I-form running. If you can run out of an I against eight in the box you are indefeatable; if you can run out of a shotgun AND your running QB can pass you are indefeatable. So it's not like the way is the only way. The reason your friendly bloggers are always yelping "shotgun! shotgun!" is because by the above rationale, a team with Molk, Toussaint, and Denard, and which used to have Rodriguez himself coaching them, should be pretty awesome at running from the shotgun, which is still the best passing formation.) /tutorial.
Chart of formation tendencies (pass & run)
Excised: Plays when the score differential >16, 4th quarters, plays inside the M or opponent's 3 yard line.
|San Diego State||62.1%||29||82.8%||13.8%||3.4%||-||-||-|
The games where Michigan was 25% I-form were, as predicted, at the beginning of the season. The Fritz took its place against Minnesota and then it was all shotgun ru…
Okay so it was inexplicably becoming a team that passes 60% of the time in a trash tornado against MSU and then two game-plans which look absolutely identical. Because Purdue's defensive ends were pliant this worked brilliantly against Purdue as Borges called mannish plays to the end. The thing is for some odd reason he didn't stop I-forming the Purdue game away until it was the 4th quarter of the Iowa game.
Here's a weird thing though: when I run the same numbers for '09 and '10, Rich Rod was way I-Form against Iowa as well. 20% I-form in fact, when he was 96% gun all other games combined. He did it both years, and only for Iowa. Is there some Lloyd-Ferentz pact to run substantially more I-forms versus each other every year?
Anyway it went away. Illinois looks like an intermediary step but 7 of the 8 plays from the I were during that interminable 14-point lead after the defense had established itself as 2006-ian. Following that game it almost disappeared from 1st downs (chart in excessive charting area post-jump*). It's the same story just more dramatic. Red Zone is more so, as the I-form was largely abandoned in the red zone during relevant plays of the last three games of the season:
So it is at this point where Funes the Manballious makes his impression on the young Borges, or vice versa, and the rational meets the abstract, and the result is sublime.