At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
(Still tweaking, but I think I’m getting close to a winning formula. Again, fear scale: 0 = Bye week?; 1 = If Michigan loses to this team somebody’s going to get fired; 5 = 2010 Illinois; 8 = Best in conference/will play in a BCS bowl; 9 = National title contender; 10 = Hold me, TomVH.)
About last Saturday:
Eastern Michigan 3, Michigan 31
Ace and I played “Where’s Waldo/Brian?” from the press box.
He’s so dreamy when he’s pixelated.
[Ed: I told you there was no one in my section.]
The Road Ahead:
San Diego State (3-0)
Last Game: Washington State 24, San Diego State 42 (W)
Recap: After escaping Army, San Diego State hosted Washington State and waited for the Cougars to lose, which they did. The Aztecs capitalized on three Washington State turnovers in the fourth quarter to turn what seemed like a tenuous lead into an 18-point cushion. San Diego State actually trailed for the entire first half and through most of the third quarter before Aztecs RB Ronnie Hillman converted a third-and-one at the goal line to finally put them ahead 28-24.
The Cougars, devastated by the loss of such a rare lead, imploded.
The play on which it happened should sound familiar. Seven plays into their next drive, the ball slipped out of Washington State QB Marshall Lobbestael’s hand a la Tommy Rees. On the following play for San Diego State, the Cougars defense allowed Hillman to break free for a 64-yard touchdown sprint. Game over. Lobbestael additionally tossed two interceptions to make sure his team fell well short of covering the four-point spread.
What we know about San Diego State is this: the defense has faced two mediocre offenses that are as one-dimensional as these dashes -- Army ran for 90% of their yards, and Washington State passed for 88% of their yards -- and has yielded on average three touchdowns and 400+ yards to each. (Cal Poly doesn’t count.) Rocky Long may have a funky scheme that’ll confuse some offenses, but as Ace points out, that defensive line is leedle. They are the bendiest of bendy defenses kept respectable by opponent turnovers, a significant number of which were just stupid. Yes, they’ve done enough in their previous two games to win. Against Michigan, they will need to do more.
The offense is a solid, well-rounded B+, good enough to attend a four-year college, marry a nice Christian girl, have three kids and a golden retriever named Chelsea, and also score multiple touchdowns against the Wolverines, which, miraculously, is a feat only Notre Dame has achieved so far. Think of the San Diego State offense as a less intimidating but less hilarious Irish offense. With a better quarterback. But worse wide receivers. And a running back who doesn’t fumble. But maybe a smaller offensive line?
Nevermind. Forget I said that.
Right now they are as frightening as: Their overall vibe strikes me as a well-coached Indiana. Fear level = 4.
Michigan should worry about: Containing Hillman. Michigan has enough talent on the defensive line to manage the trenches and keep inside runs to a minimal gain. Irresponsible linebacker play on the edge, however, will lead to 200+ yards for Hillman and a 20+ tackles for Jordan Kovacs. If Kovacs ends up being next week’s Alro Steel Ironman, you’ll know something went terribly, terribly wrong.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Again, the scouting report. Knowing is half the battle.
If Michigan plays them next Saturday: The first quarter will be critical. Michigan will need to avoid falling behind early against a team that’s more talented than Western Michigan and more disciplined than Notre Dame. After the most sobering 31-3 victory ever, the Wolverines offense -- particularly the passing portion (particularly the Denard part of that passing portion) of the offense -- needs confidence that only a lead can provide. Also, the last thing the Wolverines can afford to give San Diego State is momentum, as they’re already playing with the following list of motivations:
- You stole our coach.
- He left us because he thinks you’re better than us.
- You think you’re better than us.
- You’re ranked, so everyone else thinks you’re better than us.
- He broke up with us via text message.
So. Let’s score some early points, yeah?
Next game: at No. 22 The University of Greener Pastures
(more after the jump)
In this week's Thursday Recruitin', Danny O'Brien moves up his decision date, rumblings continue about the status of Bri'onte Dunn's OSU commitment, A.J. Williams is the subject of both an unfortunate headline and an awesome YouTube video, new 2013 offers go out, and much more. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
O'Brien Announcement Change and More on Uncommitted (to U-M, at least) Prospects
According to several sources, including Rivals's Josh Helmholdt, who was kind enough to actually deliver the news outside of a paywall, Flint Powers DT Danny O'Brien has moved up his decision date to October 6th. I should be in attendance for this one unless the Powers athletic director confuses me with that other guy who uses the name Ace, in which case he'd be well within his right to kick me to the curb on sight. Luckily, I actually have credentials and stuff.
24/7's Steve Wiltfong calls Canton Glen Oak running back Bri'onte Dunn "college ready" ($, info in header), and quotes his high school coach saying Fred Jackson compared Dunn to Tyrone Wheatley, which means he obviously left out the part where Jackson added, "except with laser vision, the speed of a Lamborghini, and the raw power of the fictitious love-child of Earl Campbell and Mike Alstott." While the article is paywalled, Wiltfong added a pair of responses on The Blue Board after a poster said Dunn was "all OSU as long as they don't get hammered by the NCAA" [emphasis mine]:
Gratuitous video of the week:
Substitution notes: The secondary was Woolfolk/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon almost the whole game, with Avery coming in on the garbage time drive and one snap for Marvin Robinson towards the end of charted time. When Michigan brought in a nickelback, which wasn't often, it was Raymon Taylor; they left Gordon at safety.
Demens, Hawthorne, and Ryan were almost always out there at LB. Fitzgerald, Morgan, and Beyer got one or two drives each as backups.
On the line there was more rotation. Black and Roh just about split snaps at WDE. Martin and RVB were usually out there and then Heininger and Campbell split snaps at the other DT spot. Brink and Washington made cameos.
Formation notes: A lot more 4-3 this week going up against a team that uses fullbacks and TEs and stuff. This is your 4-3 under in the flesh:
Line shaded to the weakside, Ryan on the line over TEs, two MLB types in the backfield.
There was also this, which I was at a loss to name:
Let's get a closeup of the line here:
You've got an undershifted line, linebackers shifted over… and JB Fitzgerald lined up shaded inside the TE. I called this 5-3 under. If anyone knows what an actual coach might call it let me know.
On with show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O10||1||10||I-form twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Pass||5||PA Fly||Woolfolk||Inc|
|PA with two guys in the route. One is a fly on Woolfolk(+1, cover +1), who is stride for stride for the guy and has a play on the ball if it's accurate. It's not.|
|O10||2||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||13|
|Pretty much all Ryan(-2), who flies directly upfield and loses contain instantly. Gordon and Woolfolk are on the edge with Demens pursuing from inside but not much chance for anyone to do anything about it since there's a blocker for each player and just tons of space.|
|O23||1||10||I-form||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Heininger||6|
|Heininger(-2) clobbered off the ball by a double team. He gets shoved right out of the hole. Demens is immediately under pressure by a guy with a great angle on him and Hawthorne has to take on a tough lead block despite being 214 pounds. They both do credible jobs(+0.5 each). There is no crease for the back. Unfortunately there's another blocker coming and no one to tackle because of Heininger's play, so the pile lurches forward for a significant gain. Picture-paged.|
|O29||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Black||3|
|Taylor in; TGordon stays at S. RVB(-2) is blown up this time and Hawthorne(-1) is pancaked by the guy peeling off RVB. Large gap. Demens(-1) comes up to fill, this time keeping leverage when I'm not entirely sure he should. He's got Gordon as a free hitter outside of him. In any case, the blocker kicks his ass. This is about to be EMU RB versus Kovacs for TD when Black(+3) saves everyone's bacon. He shoved the TE into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut inside, then dove to tackle(+1) the guy as he passes. Major bailout.|
|O32||3||1||Goal line||4-4 even||Pass||N/A||Flea flicker (scramble)||Hawthorne||19|
|Black and Hawthorne both get in basically unblocked and are there to pressure(+1, RPS +1) Gillett. They miss because Hawthorne(-1) gets too fast and Gillett manages to move around them. Demens is then trying to scrape to wherever Gillett's going to pop up when Martin pops back out of his stance and trips him. Just one of those things.|
|M49||1||10||I-form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||12|
|Michigan is slanting away from the play(RPS -1), which makes it tough on the DL. Still, RVB(-1) should do better to hold his ground and Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. Ryan did okay on the edge, it's just everything else here. RB into the secondary Black(+2) read the OL pull (apparently we can do that!) and immediately peeled off to pursue from the backside; he is almost the only thing between EMU and a touchdown other than a blocked Kovacs. He gets there to tackle at the sticks. The +2 is just for the pursuit and the tackle; the forced fumble is a bonus.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA Deep cross||Ryan||18|
|This looks a lot like the shotgun counters that have burned Michigan the first two weeks: counter step from the RB, pulling backside G, another lead blocker, this time another RB. Instead of a handoff Gillett spins backwards and rolls out. Later this will hurt EMU. Ryan is sent on a blitz, reads the pull, and dives inside to blow up the counter he thinks is coming. Hard to fault him for that. This gets Gillett out on the edge; Ryan does come through the block to provide some token pressure. This isn't enough to throw the QB off; he finds a receiver open for a chunk. I guess you could blame Demens or Gordon here but that seems really harsh to me. (RPS -1, pressure -1, cover -1.) Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle immediately. Picture paged.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE unbalanced||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||18|
|Ryan(-2) again gives up the edge on the sweep action. He compounds matters by falling to the ground as he tries to get outside. Demens is held inside by a QB run fake momentarily; Woolfolk comes up to the outside and is cut inside of. I do think Demens(-1) could have reacted more quickly here—RVB was going to be in the QB's face if he kept—and held this down to eight or so. BWS picture pages.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 over||Run||N/A||QB down G||Hawthorne||8|
|EMU motions a tight end over late and snaps quickly; Demens shifts a couple yards strongside but Hawthorne does not match him; on the snap they're right next to each other. As a result Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner, getting blocked by the RB. Black(-1) had gotten blown off the ball by a double and there might have been room inside as well, but there's no question to the outside.|
|M29||2||2||I-form||5-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Van Bergen||-3|
|Michigan crushes this. Van Bergen(+2) shoots straight upfield, blowing up the lineman trying to pull around and getting through into the backfield. Heininger(+1) slants past his blocker on the backside to show up in the running lane; Fitzgerald(+0.5) is three yards into the backfield taking on the puller RVB blew up, and Martin(+1) has shed a blocker. Nowhere for the RB to go. RPS +2.|
|M32||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||QB power||Hawthorne||4|
|S brought down for an extra guy. FWIW, Gordon is coming down instead of Kovacs. He's your SS. Ryan(+1) is left alone for a pulling guard to take. He takes the guy on a yard into the backfield over where the tackle was and stands his ground. Gillett doesn't really know where to go; the back also impacts Ryan to provide a corner. This gives Hawthorne(-1) a free run. All he has to do is form up and he's got a TFL; instead he misses the tackle(-1), allowing Gillett to spin inside and start picking up yards. RVB tackles from behind; Kovacs(+0.5) stands Gillett up as he nears the sticks, forcing a fourth down.|
|M28||4||1||Ace||Firedrill||Run||N/A||Tricky pitch||Kovacs||14 + 7 pen|
|EMU to the line quickly and snaps before Michigan is prepared; line dive blocks as if they're going for the QB sneak. Everyone bites on it; they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone. Kovacs(-1) was the playside guy who did not stay responsible on the RB, but this is mostly an RPS play as EMU caught Michigan unprepared. Growing pains. RPS -2. Taylor gets a legit but pretty weak late hit after.|
|M7||1||G||I-Form trip TE||5-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan||4|
|Either Ryan or Black screws up here. Black dives inside the last TE on the line, then heads upfield a bit to pick off the fullback. Ryan hangs outside as well, allowing the pulling G to not even block him. Need to have one of those guys cram that hole down. I vote Black(+1) for taking out two blockers and against Ryan(-1) for not even hitting a guy on this play. Kovacs(-0.5) is also slow to react, waiting for the RB to get to him instead of IDing the hole opening in front of him and hitting it.|
|M3||2||G||I-Form trip TE||Goal line||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||1|
|EMU flipping TEs everywhere and Michigan not reacting quickly enough—Heininger is trying to get Martin to slide over at the snap. He does just make it. RVB(+3) blows this up himself, though, sliding through a downblock and into the pulling G. The RB has to cut behind this mess and ends up falling over the G RVB had put on the ground moments earlier. Martin(+0.5) had gotten through a block to show up in the hole just in case.|
|M2||3||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Martin||1|
|Michigan again having a hard time lining up. This time Black trips over himself trying to get to the wrong side of the line. He gets up and just gets into place on the snap. Martin(+2) takes a guard's block and chucks the dude past him, then comes under the tackle trying to deal with RVB to meet the second FB—actually an OL—a yard in the backfield. The pile of meat gets a yard.|
|M1||4||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Kovacs||-|
|Everyone does the low-man-wins goal line blocking as EMU tries it again. Roh(+1) is in the path of the pulling dudes and wins his block, penetrating into the backfield. The second FB is tripped up/leaps from about the three. The RB tries the same thing only for Kovacs(+2) to roar around from behind him and stall his momentum, spinning him to a halt short of the goal line with an assist from Demens(+0.5). Picture-paged by MGoFootball.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Campbell||4|
|Campbell's been in a bit and this is his first noticeable play. This appears to be a slant to the playside here, which is good for M as it gets Campbell(+1) past his assigned down-blocker and into the guy lined up right over him who pulled. Roh(+1) swam through his blocker to set up outside of the Campbell mess; cutback. RVB(-1) is flowing down the line; he's too far upfield after shoving a DL and allows the guy to dive through an arm tackle for positive yards.|
|M20||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||2|
|Miss part of this play; looks like counter action from a tight shot of the RB. M gets lucky as the guy blocking RVB thinks the blitzing Ryan is a major issue and peels off; pulling G now has to take RVB. This leaves Demens(+0.5) unblocked in the hole. His tackle is spun through but that takes a long time to happen; Ryan(+0.5) comes from behind to finish the job but there's some YAC here.|
|M18||3||4||Shotgun trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Hawthorne||7|
|Guh. Triple TEs to one side and Michigan slants away from it. Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late; Demens tries to shoot a gap without effect but it was a good idea given that setup. M blitzed from the weakside, had no support over the top, and even if Hawthorne plays this perfectly this doesn't look like a stop (RPS -2)|
|M11||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Van Bergen||3|
|Van Bergen(+2) shocks his blocker with a quick punch and gets playside of a downblock. He ends up driving to the outside, sucking up both lead blockers and forcing a cutback. Demens(+0.5) pops up in a hole; more cutback. Roh has hesitated a bit in case Gillett keeps, which is fine, but Heininger(-1) got blown up and ends up pancaked so when Roh comes down the line he's only able to tackle from behind; forward momentum is slowed by Hawthorne but not stopped.|
|M8||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Hawthorne||2|
|EMU seems to have a bad playcall on because there is no blocker for Hawthorne(RPS +1). Block down, pull backside T and G around. Ryan is kicked out by G. Demens kicked out by the T. Hawthorne(+1) is free to meet in the hole; Demens peels to help tackle.|
|M6||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Demens||2|
|Finally some contain. Gordon(+1) is creeping up looking for this on the jet motion and forces a cut up, picking off a blocker. Ryan does better but still gets too far upfield, IME. No delay in the guy's path because of him. Thanks to the contain Demens and Kovacs have shots at this; Kovacs(+0.5) takes a hit from a block and stays upright; Demens(+1) has flowed to the sideline and tackles(+1) near the sticks. Picture-paged.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 0-3, EO1Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Morgan in. Waggle action from EMU is poorly executed so RVB is out on Gillett; he falls down (-1, pressure -1). Gillett can only come underneath to a WR drag rout a couple yards downfield. Ryan(+1, tackling +1) helped take away one of the deeper routes then rallies to tackle almost on the catch, holding this to a minimal gain (Cover +2).|
|M41||2||4||Ace diamond||Firedrill||Pass||N/A||Double pass||Gordon||Int|
|Michigan is horribly misaligned at the snap, with only three guys against the four out to the right. If this is just a screen it could get some yards, but it's trickery. Okay. Defense freaks out, TGordon(+4(!), cover +2) goes with the WR and makes an incredible one-handed INT. Should have tried the transcontinental here. RPS -1 for misalignment, or RPS +1 for covering the trick play? Aw, hell, the latter.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Martin||10|
|Campbell in, Morgan still out there, Brink at SDE. EMU basically runs an iso but the RB takes a counter step like he's headed outside. This works like crazy, sucking every playside defender to the outside. Martin(-1) is the biggest offender; Brink(-1) is pancaked. Morgan(-1) is cut to the ground and Demens(-0.5) has a really tough job but pulls the Ezeh by just sitting there. Gordon fills to tackle. I am actually a fan of the EMU running game. They are a confusing bunch to work against.|
|50||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Ryan||-2|
|Basically the same play from a different formation with the same counter step. This time Ryan(+1, RPS +2) is blitzing from the counter side and crushes the guy in the backfield. Martin(+1) had blown back blocking so even the cutback wouldn't have been there.|
|O48||2||12||Shotgun twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB power||Black||3|
|EMU flips their RT to the left side after they align and Michigan flips their entire front five in response. They run the jet motion but have the QB take it upfield with help from a puller. Martin(+1) beats a downblock and cuts off a cutback lane. Campbell is on the playside and doesn't do great. Black(+1) gets into the TE trying to double Campbell instead of shooting down the line, then takes on a block to the outside, defeating it. Campbell is just kind of there, being large(+0.5) so Gillett has nowhere to go except up the backs of some of his dudes; Black tackles.|
|M49||3||9||Shotgun trip TE||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||PA TE flat||Gordon||5|
|This orbit boot motion again; Black(-1) flies upfield at it but is chopped down by a cut block. Demens and Taylor are blitzing, though, and get through untouched to provide pressure(+1) and force a dumpoff short of the sticks. TGordon(+1, cover +1) belts him OOB.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Trap||Heininger||0|
|Fitz in. Heininger(+1.5) is passed off by the G over him as he runs downfield to hammer Michigan's spread-out LBs. He keeps his feet and gets popped by a pulling G, fighting playside of him. Martin(+1.5) beat a downblock; the two DTs converge to tackle.|
|O44||2||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Hawthorne||0|
|M moves Kovacs down late for another guy in the box. Campbell(+1) slants under his blocking, which is pretty good on this play since they're trying to dupe you to head outside; this time he comes under and heads backside for the RB. Hawthorne(+2) read the play on the counter step and attacked the backside hole that opens up; FB can only make a diving stab at him. This does get him to the ground but he's falling forward into the path of the runner, whereupon he grabs ankles; Campbell comes in from behind.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun empty 2TE||Nickel||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Kovacs||4|
|This is a formation with a covered up slot WR on third and ten and run a jet sweep towards it. I take back what I said about the EMU running game. Kovacs(+2) is sent on a blitz up the middle, reads the play, adjusts his flight path, and meets the WR after a couple yards to make a nice open field tackle(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 2nd Q. M scores, then squibs to terrible effect right before the half. Next drive starts w/ 33 seconds left.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Clark in for the first time, I think. Four man rush gets nowhere(pressure -2) but the coverage is good(+2) and Gillett has to scramble out. He picks up eight, which seems more due to the situation than a breakdown.|
|M44||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Black||4|
|Sprint draw fake as the pocket rolls. Coverage is good(+2) but Black(-1) loses the edge and ends up falling to the ground, giving Gillett the corner.|
|That God Damned Counter Draw... is defended. Wow. Martin(+1) reads the play and chucks his defender past him, peeling back to close down the hole as Hawthorne steps up to take on the lead blocker. Black(+2) collapses down to close off the hole outside Hawthorne, then extends back outside when the RB bounces, bringing him to a complete stop and eventually tripping him up when he breaks outside again.|
|Roh(+0.5) gets around the T enough to force Gillett to step up, where Martin(+1.5) has beaten a couple blocks to rush up the middle; Gillett has to bug out lest he gets crushed (pressure +1). Gillett has room to run after he breaks the pocket but, like, fine.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), EOH.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O33||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA sack||Roh||-7|
|This doesn't end up under because of motion, but whatever. EMU goes play action and Roh(+2) reads the PA seemingly before the mesh point with the RB. This is not hell-bent QB obsession, as he takes a step inside, sees the puller, and then heads upfield. He gets outside Gillett; Gillett slows up, Roh still grabs him; Martin(+1) beat a block and comes into finish the job. (Pressure +2)|
|O26||2||17||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan?||5|
|Ryan(-1) is not used to playing off the line and it shows, as he sits in the hole way too long. RVB(-1) is the playside DE and fights inside his block, which seems like a good idea only if there's a LB containing—if you're in an under. They aren't. Here Ryan is off the line and once RVB fights inside there is a bounce. RB takes it. Gordon(+0.5) fills quickly; Floyd(+0.5) comes up on the edge to tackle.|
|O31||3||12||Shotgun empty 2TE||Okie||Run||N/A||QB power||--||5|
|A give up and punt. Jet sweep action, Michigan is pass blitzing. Combo is a bit odd and gets Gillett to the second level, where Floyd(+0.5) comes up to whack; Hawthorne(+0.5) finishes him off.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 7 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||5|
|DTs are Campbell (nose) and Washington (3tech). EMU runs a-gap power, pulling a G around into the hole between Campbell and RVB. Campbell(-1) gets pushed out of the hole easily and RB is into the second level without delay. Demens(+0.5) forms up, takes on a blocker, and disconnects to tackle with help from Hawthorne(+0.5). RVB(-1) was easily passed off, allowing that block on Demens to be executed.|
|O40||2||5||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(-1) stands straight up and gets Heininger'd. This provides a small crease for decent yardage; RVB(+0.5) held on the edge and Demens was there to close it down.|
|O44||3||1||I-Form trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||--||3|
|Line shifting in response to the formation flip and Michigan has this defensed for a loss except for a pretty good cutback by the EMU back. He just manages to squeeze through a gap between RVB and Martin's blockers, tripping as he goes; Demens is there to bump but the cutback was too quick—guy just went straight upfield, really—to do anything about it.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Flare screen||--||Inc|
|Dropped. May or may not have worked if completed.|
|O47||2||10||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||1|
|Running at the strong bit of the line. Roh(+2) slants under the TE, gets held, takes on a lead blocker, and fights through all that to tackle for no gain. RVB(+0.5) held up well on his block and helps constrict the hole; this was a blitz that worked against power (RPS +1).|
|Kovacs(-1), blitzing off the edge, does not execute the look-for-puller-flatten key like Ryan did earlier and gets upfield/outside of the guy. Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) that would boot EMU off the field.|
|M42||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Hawthorne||10 (Pen -10)|
|Okay, Michigan is slanting to the weak side after aligning to the weakside, which means you're going to have a lot of players back there and not up there, if you know what I mean. In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle. Ryan(+1), the SLB, had slanted inside the pulling T and was tackled, drawing a flag that erases the gain. Kovacs again cleaned up (+0.5, tackling +1).|
|O48||1||20||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Ryan||12|
|SDE Brink(-1) handled by single blocking from an EMU TE as two OL pull around. Ryan(-2) gives up the edge; three tech Heininger(-1) was blown up, erasing Hawthorne. Demens gets blocked by a puller. Black(+1) was tearing hard on pursuit from the backside and tackles from behind(!) after about ten yards. His pursuit has been outstanding; on this play all he needed was a little delay on the edge to tackle from behind at the LOS.|
|M40||2||8||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Down G||Black||-2|
|Michigan slanting playside since they're lined up away from the strength of the formation. Black(+2)slides past the TE's block and gets into the puller in the backfield. Campbell(+0.5) threatens to get into the backfield and draws the C's attention; Hawthorne(+1) shoots the gap in front of him for a TFL.|
|M42||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Roh||2|
|Gordon to nickel as MRobinson comes in. Sprint draw fake to Gillett rollout. Roh(+1) is on the edge and starts chasing (pressure +1), causing Gillett to abandon things after his first read is covered(+1). His scramble goes for little.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 11 min 4th Q. Last drive is garbage time; not charted.|
THEY ALL BE RUNNIN' YO
Yeah… they do all be runnin'.
It's a combination of things. Abitrary pie graph? Arbitrary pie chart:
For confirmation of this, let's check the
ARBITRARY PIE CHART
We already checked that.
BORING ASS NON COLORED CHART
Chart. A disclaimer: since Eastern hardly threw there were scant opportunities for DL to pick up bonuses on plays where they get collective minuses for lack of pressure, so even-ish is okay.
|Van Bergen||8||6||2||Had some trouble holding up; also made some big plays.|
|Martin||10.5||1||9.5||Consistently fought playside of blocker appropriately but got bupkis for it.|
|Roh||7.5||-||7.5||Did some things.|
|Brink||-||2||-2||Handled one on one.|
|Heininger||2.5||4||-1.5||Got blown up more often than he made plays.|
|Black||12||3||9||A monster in pursuit and played well at the POA.|
|Campbell||3||2||1||Doesn't seem that real.|
|TOTAL||44.5||18||26.5||Goal line stand is a major reason this is so positive, but, hey, goal line stand.|
|Demens||3.5||4.5||-1||Slow to diagnose some things.|
|Ryan||3.5||7||-3.5||Eaten up on the edge.|
|Fitzgerald||0.5||-||0.5||A few plays.|
|Beyer||-||-||-||Did not register.|
|Hawthorne||5||11||-6||Slow reads really got him.|
|TOTAL||12.5||22.5||-10||Edge edge edge edge edge.|
|Avery||-||-||-||DNP in charted time.|
|Kovacs||6||2.5||3.5||I don't even know what to do.|
|T. Gordon||6.5||-||6.5||Two solid safeties? Is this legal?|
|Robinson||-||-||-||One play before charting ceased.|
|TOTAL||12.5||4.5||8||Half of that the INT.|
|Tackling||3||2||1||Need Hawthorne to get guys down.|
|RPS||8||6||2||Hugely reduced numbers as M goes vanilla|
So the defensive line numbers came out more positive and the linebackers more negative than I expected, but a quick glance at the chart above shows a lot of EMU success on the flanks, where linemen are doing well just to remain in the picture. Even on the power stuff the theme is obvious:
Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. ... Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner ... they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone ... Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late ... Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) ... In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle.
Linebackers not getting to the hole, Hawthorne especially. This is a great example of the day's theme:
1: The three tech is not helping matters. Here it's RVB.
2: Hawthorne + block = done
3: Y U NO DEMENS
4: Jibreel Black bailing our asses out.
Here's another one. Watch RVB get blown out and Demens not funnel back to Hawthorne, and Jibreel Black bail our asses out:
Why would Hawthorne be so disappointing a week after a good game against Notre Dame?
Hawthorne didn't blitz or cover against EMU, two things he flashed great skill at in the ND game. Instead of sending him places where he has a job and is suppose to do it, they asked him to play linebacker straight up and he got blocked tons. The rest of it is just not reading the plays quickly enough, something I noted last week.
I'm curious as to what he was doing when Michigan slanted its line, though. When I've seen this in the past—and I have plenty—what happens is the line slants one way and the LBs roar over the top the opposite direction. This eats up cutback lanes and gets that offensive lineman who releases downfield immediately blocking no one, leaving the weakside LB a free hitter. Michigan didn't do that when they slanted:
Look at this:
There's nothing but a TFL on the back side of this play because the line slanted to the weakside of the formation. Hawthorne has to get playside of that guy releasing because there's going to be a hole. It's going to be a hole without anyone to block him in it if he gets to it quickly enough; instead he gets hammered.
When he did things right—and he did a couple—he was a decisive slasher. He, more than most LBs, needs to figure out the play and hit a gap before blocking can get in place. He's not going to make a lot of plays by taking on lead blockers. Diagnosis skills are key for him.
I think EMU actually did us a favor here by exposing a lot of mistakes in the defense. The film room this week is going to have a lot of "ohhhhhhh" moments; hopefully we can iron some of this out before Ronnie Hillman shows up this weekend.
So, Jibreel Black and Craig Roh both did things.
Yes, yes they did. A lot of Black's positives are encompassed above, and Roh got off the stat schneid with a sack and some other tackles. It's not that Roh has been actively bad. He's done a number of quiet things that help the D without showing up on the statsheet. For one, he's the hidden reason Michigan made that fourth down stop on the goal line. He got penetration and caused a lead blocking EMU OL to leap at the endzone from the three. RB had to follow, Kovacs came in from the side, stop. He's probably not going to be James Hall at this point but he can be solid.
Black looks like a different player, though. That downfield pursuit on the fumble recover is both smart and fast. He did that all day. If anyone was holding the edge on a number of plays he would have been crushing dudes from behind. He's holding up at the POA better (against Eastern, granted) and seems to be emerging into a starter.
Here's a thing that has a 50-50 chance at happening: Michigan starts playing both at the same time, with Roh (probably) at strongside DE. Roh's bigger, Black's pursuing like a mofo, and Roh has far too much experience coping as an SDE, which he played as a freshman when he was too exploitable alone on the edge and sort of played last year when he moved to a three-man line. Is he ideal? No. Is it a way to get better personnel on the field? I think so.
What's wrong with Mike Martin?
I don't think anything is yet. He's having a hard time making an impact when everyone's heading outside.
They get an incomplete on the day, though Thomas Gordon did take another step forward, and not just because he speared a pass I would have rated an 0.5 if he was a receiver.
Jibreel Black had his best day in a winged helmet; Martin was solid inside; Roh got off the schneid; Gordon interception hello.
Pick a linebacker, with Hawthorne having the toughest day. Also the three-tech is a sore spot. Heininger got blown out, yeah, but you can see that RVB suffered the same fate in a couple of those clips above.
What does it mean for SDSU and the future?
Unfortunately, Hawthorne has not locked down the starting WLB job and will probably have to fight for it as long as he's not diagnosing pulling linemen more quickly. The three tech spot is a sore one and will need to be addressed if the interior run D is going to hold up; choosing between freshmen at SLB is leaving Michigan vulnerable on the edge.
I know everyone says the three tech gets one on one blocking, but that has not been the case so far this year and the inability to hold up there has caused a multitude of problems.
As for the rest of it… Black may or may not be a player. Check back in a couple weeks to see if he keeps it up against better competition.
This is the point at which we see learning happen—they're not very good right now but since they won't be swapping systems midseason these issues with play diagnosis should get better. We are all scarred by the last few years; here is where they start sucking less when people teach them how to play football.
Hypothesis! Michigan is going to start slanting heavily when they feel they're in trouble. The three tech is not holding up well, the linebackers are not good when being asked to read and react, but they've got a lot of DL who can get penetration when tasked with being aggressive one-gap players and linebackers who can come over the top to the other side. It will be a high risk, high reward system but against teams with good running games the alternative is getting bled to death because your guys are getting plowed or are hesitant.
News bullets and other important things:
- Vincent Smith is starting at RB.
- Thomas Rawls is second or third on RB depth chart.
- Russell Bellomy is scout team QB to simulate Ryan Lindley.
- Matt Wile hit a 59-yard field goal in practice.
Greg said yesterday that he’s asking the Michigan defense to play perfect. What does that mean? “I think perfect means perfect, and it’s a part of what you want to be. You’d like to go out and play a perfect game. When you say that, you have high expectations for each individual out there for a specific position and for the defense itself. Whether it’s playing your base package, your sub packages, whatever -- if they’re doing exactly what thye’re supposed to do with the best of their abilities with great effort and toughness.”
Will Vincent Smith be the starting running back? “Yeah, I would think so. And Fitz had a good day yesterday, too. Both those guys ran the ball hard. Rawls ran the ball hard. He had some snaps in there. I think we’re still trying to find what the magic combination is.”
Don’t want to be running back by committee, but is there a point where you want to see just one guy to establish rhythm? “I think there’s a point, but I can’t tell you on the 21st of September that we know when that point’s going to happen. I think there’s good things that they all do, but at the same time, we want that guy who’s going to play a perfect game.”
Where does Rawls fit into the depth chart right now? Would he be second or third? “Probably somewhere in there.”
Mike Shaw has gotten fewer carries. What’s going on with him? “He has to be a little more consistent in everything that we do. He’ll have his time in there. There’s a lot that goes along with being a back besides running the football, and we’ve got to be a little more consistent in those areas. He’s working his tail off. That’s the encouraging thing.”
How important is running back pass protection in a week like this? “It will be very important. This is unique. You never know what Rocky Long’s going to have in store for you. Working for him for six years on the defensive side of the ball, he’s going to have something you haven’t see and something a little different.”
Rocky Long does funky things with defense. As his head coach did you talk about those things with him? “We ran it at Oregon State. Believe me I still have playbooks from that, not that it helps, because he’s evolved quite a bit from the basics. Number one, the personality of that team and the quickness of that team -- the thing that you equate it to from a defensive standpoint, when you play midline option to use a true triple option, your defense has to catch up a little bit with the tempo and the speed. I think it’s the same way offensively three or four possessions in, trying to have a clear understanding of what the defense is doing and catching up to that speed.”
What do you do for the scout team? “Well they’ve been working like heck. They gave them a great look yesterday. Roy Manning, the GA who runs it, did a great job of preparing them for it. Credit to those kids on the look teams -- they did a nice job.”
You have a quarterback still in his first year getting used to the offense. How difficult is it to prepare for such a unique defensive set? “When you look at your schedule, I think there’s a uniqueness to every defense. Some of that may be if you’re going to be a man team, a man free team, a tampa 2 team … He did a nice job yesterday. What we ask a quarterback to do, getting in and out of things, that’s a good start.”
Is it a problem that you don’t have anyone on the scout team who can throw the ball as well as Lindley? “Well, Russell Bellomy throws the ball pretty well. So that’s a plus. I really think the pride that those guys are really getting when it comes to giving you great looks. We reward those guys who do the best job every week. We’ve had two guys a lot of the time, which is good. I think they’re doing a daggone good job. In fact one guy came up to me and apologized after practice because he didn’t think he did a good enough job. That tells you a little bit about their consciousness of helping the football team.”
How would you assess tight end play up to this point? “I think we’re doing okay. Kevin’s a really good tight end to do both -- blocks at the point of attack well, runs good routes, catches the ball well. Brandon’s coming along well. Steve we’ve used both at fullback and tight end. Ricardo hadn’t gotten any playing time yet, but he gets some good work with them. He’s escobar for us this week and doing a nice job of running the routes and the speed and those things. I think they’ve been pretty good.”
You looked a little mad when team when over to student section after the Eastern Game. How come? “I wanted to score a touchdown at the end instead of a field goal.” Is that something you’re going to allow the team to do? “Yeah it’s fine. I mean, the students are important. I hope they will get there early. We need a lot of noise.”
Greg said that he’s been very hard on Craig Roh, and about a week ago he saw a different player. “I think if you’d ask Craig, he’ll tell you his best week of practice was last week. It’s amazing -- how you practice is how you play. That’s always a battle, Angelique. Angelique, is it your birthday? Are you 39? 29?” I’m still younger than the head football coach at Michigan. “So is everybody else! But, uh, no, that’s something that you always push and you always want. You’re going to play like you practice, and that’s what he did.”
How has he practiced this week? “Good. He’s been good. He’s got a lot of pride and ownership of you are, and pride and ownership of who you represent.”
Is part of that breaking bad habits and rebuilding them? “We all have habits, good or bad. I think the expectations that we have for the kids and what they have for themsleves are always different. We’re coaching pretty hard but fair. We love them and kiss them on the cheek when they do things the right way, and kick them in the butt -- not literally, please understand that.” So you do kiss them on the cheek? “I do. Yeah.”
Is there a lot of emphasis on special teams coverage? “Yeah. Part of that’s placing the ball. Part of that is doing a good job of lane recognition and the block recognition at full speed. Wasn’t as bad as you think, and I hate saying that. I think the kids have a lot of pride, and they don’t like if we think they didn’t do as well as they could.”
Wile hit a 59-yarder in practice. Would you try such a long field goal? “Yeah. Yup.”
You want defense to be perfect. At what point would you say they were perfect or had a perfect game? “Hm. I don’t know. I don’t know.” Have you ever said that about any of your defenses? “Nope.”
In an effort to expand my ninja skills beyond the realm of recruiting, we (okay, Brian) decided I should do a weekly feature breaking down down film from the previous game (and potentially other games, as well) of Michigan's upcoming opponent. That feature is, at least temporarily, titled Fee Fi Foe Film, and today I attempt to draw conclusions about San Diego State based on an 11-minute highlight film produced by their vanquished opponent from last week, Washington State.
Normally, I'll have a full torrent at the ready and get into deeper detail about tendencies as well as specific plays, but unfortunately there wasn't one available this week. Instead, here's what I was working with, and I'll use clips from the following video to look at a few areas where I think Michigan can exploit the Aztec defense (as well as one clip of Ronnie Hillman, just for objectivity's sake and as a reminder that we should all be scared of Ronnie Hillman):
After watching 11 minutes worth of highlights put together by the other team, there are a couple areas where I think Michigan can attack the San Diego State 3-3-5 defense, and luckily for the Wolverines these advantages appear to fall right into their offensive wheelhouse. All of this should be taken with a grain of salt, as you must remember I'm using (1) a highlight reel, and (2) a highlight reel put together by the other team showing their best plays of the day. This shouldn't be an issue in the future when I'm using full-game torrents to put these together.
QB O NOES: WE HAZ IT? The first clip displays a recurring weakness for SDSU, and that's the throw right up the seam—this time off of play-action—which seems to set up more QB O NOES for Denard:
As you can see, Washington State operated from out of the spread, and here the play-action handoff either froze the safety for the split-second required to beat him deep or he's just slow—unfortunately, it's impossible to tell from this camera angle. Either way, it appears Michigan can take advantage of SDSU's safety play in this area of the field, as later in the game WSU connected for another touchdown on the same route, this time just without the play-action.
We've seen Al Borges work in the 'Denard take a jab-step, suck in entire defense, throw to wide-open receiver up the seam' play to relative effectiveness when Robinson puts the pass on target, and I expect that play will be utilized with success this week. If there's a game for Roy Roundtree to revert to last year's form, I think this is it, though the Aztecs's inability to handle speed up the seam may open up the opportunity for Jeremy Gallon to continue his breakout season in style.
RUNNING AGAINST THE 3-3-5: BANNER DAY FOR MOLK AND LEWAN? Two WSU running plays out of the shotgun bode well for Michigan's chances of great success against Rocky Long's 3-3-5 defense. While the Aztecs have a fair amount of experience on their defensive line, starting two seniors and a sophomore, neither defensive end weighs more than 245 pounds and their starting nose tackle, Jerome Long, is 6'5", 285. On this particular play, Long—wearing #94, lined up directly over the center—gets blasted out of the hole:
While David Molk has had his troubles against bigger defensive tackles when not working his zone-blocking magic, he should have success here regardless of how Borges decides to utilize his offensive line. If Washington State's center, whom Phil Steele tells me is not among the top 44 in the country (Molk is #2), can open up lanes like that, Molk is in for a good day.
Meanwhile, the pint-sized defensive ends may be in even bigger trouble against Taylor Lewan. Watch as the left defensive end on this play gets completely sealed off from the outside, allowing the Cougar running back to gain the edge and scamper for a first down:
I'm guessing SDSU's rather tiny defensive ends will be trying so hard not to become the next contestant on "Donkey Rides With Taylor Lewan" that throwing in a couple runs off the edge will keep them off-balance and allow for plays like the above to occur. Obviously, Michigan also has a luxury that Washington State does not, and that is Denard Robinson—the QB stretch could work quite well against the Aztecs if their ends can't maintain control of the edge.
PAGING JUNIOR HEMINGWAY: YOU ARE WANTED ON THE POST. On this next clip, you'll see that San Diego State—much like the Michigan teams of GERG—stays in their base defense with what appears to be their base personnel even when faced with a four-receiver look. In this case, WSU picks up a blitz out of the 3-3-5 and the quarterback hits the post in a post/flat combo on the wide side of the field for a relatively easy first-down pickup:
With Junior Hemingway's ability to gain position on just about any defensive back and box them out for the ball, I think he can have a big day when faced with man-to-man coverage on the outside like in the above play. It's a quick, easy read for Denard and a throw he's shown the ability to make (mostly last year, admittedly), though we'll have to see how aggressive SDSU gets with the blitz when faced with the paralyzing fear of Shoelace running wild if they can't get to him in a hurry
THE TUNNEL SCREEN FINALLY WORKS? I know Brian has ranted about Borges's use of the tunnel screen instead of the bubble (which theoretically should give the receiver more room to work with if executed properly off the zone-read fake), and I'm in agreement with him, but then I saw this highlight clip and realized maybe Borges was simply preparing for the team he coached last year:
Running the 3-3-5 necessitates bringing some extra pressure beyond the defensive line, unless you're GERG and have no idea how to run the damn thing, but there are obviously ways to counter the blitz. In this case, SDSU shifts their line to the short side of the field, where the running back is lined up, and brings all three of their linebackers without dropping any linemen into coverage. There are still five defensive backs in coverage on the play, but the safeties covering the slot receivers play far off their man, and this really opens up space for the tunnel screen. If Borges catches SDSU on a similar play, this is another way Roundtree or Gallon could rip off a big one.
For the record, I still think Michigan should re-incorporate the bubble screen, which should also work well against a six-man blitz with loose coverage against the slot, but this shows that the tunnel screen the Wolverines have been running could finally have some success.
RONNIE HILLMAN IS GOOD. Your reminder that running back Ronnie Hillman—who already has 497 yards and eight touchdowns on 77 carries this season (and though he beat up on Cal Poly in the opener, he also had 191 yards and four TDs last week)—should be your main point of concern if you're worried about an Aztec upset:
Jordan Kovacs would probably come up and make that tackle in the secondary, but that's only if he can catch Hillman first, and if Hillman can reach the second level that quickly and he's on the opposide side of the field as Kovacs, I'm skeptical that will happen. This is going to be a huge test for the outside linebackers (presumably Jake Ryan and Brandin Hawthorne—Cam Gordon is not in shape to start quite yet, according to Brady Hoke). Keep Hillman from getting to the outside and breaking off big runs, and I think Michigan wins this game handily. Allow Hillman to get the edge with regularity—something that has been an issue for Michigan so far this year, and Hillman may be every bit as good as Notre Dame's Cierre Wood—and this one could be uncomfortably close.
While I'm guessing next week's form of this post will look quite different, presuming I have a full game tape to look at, I'm still very much open to suggestions as to how to improve this feature. Let me know if you'd like to see anything added to these posts, and I'll do my best to incorporate some suggestions into the Minnesota Fee Fi Foe Film.
According to like everybody, college presidents and conference executives are at it again, carving up the BCS landscape before they themselves get carved like a particularly bloody game of Europa Universalis. [ed: this has to be the only sports blog in the universe with not one but two references to EU.] So long as the Big Ten doesn't end up in the NHL's slot among four pro leagues, I don't care that much.
Playing Devil's advocate, I think I understand why people do care. The going meme is we're headed for 16-team conferences because they get bigger TV deals, and if you don't get your Mizzous now while the gettin' is good, the Big Ten will eventually find itself holding a press conference to extoll the virtues of Iowa State wrestling. I don't see Iowa State's value as an umpteenth member being worth an umpteenth share of BTN. That's hardly stopping ADs and conferences from playing war games.
Even if the ACC, PacX and SEC expand to 16 teams, they only match the star power at the top of the Big Ten. Michigan-Ohio State-Nebraska-Penn State and friends (in football) is still a bigger deal than FSU-Miami-Notre Dame and friends, still a bigger deal than Texas-USC-Oklahoma and friends, and holds up against Bama and the Holy Southern Empire except for that one century when Bama's friends are all like AUSTRRIIAAAAAAA!!!!!
Most recently it's the ACC invading Syracuse and Pitt to shore up defenses in case of an SEC attack, while SEC armies jump around out east trying to balance Texas A&M. West Virginia's doing the thing where the girl tells her friend to tell UConn to tell Dooley that the SEC kinda sorta maybe already asked her out. Missouri's all like hey, I invented that gambit!
That's not 16-team leagues, the mega-conference endpoint doomsday scenario. It's closer to it than we were when the ACC broke the pax conferenca to grab VT, Miami, and BC.
What was way more more nerve-wracking was the Pac 12 looking for a casus belli to annex Texas and Oklahoma (plus respective vassals Okie State and Texas Tech). But late last night the Pac 12 looked at a world where they've annexed Texas, and decided to remain 12—crisis averted.
Today there are zero 16-team conferences. The SEC and ACC may get to 14 soon, unless the latter is grabbing territories to make up for one it expects to lose. Remnants of the Big East and Big XII may meet to form something out of their remaining members that's not quite a BCS conference, but that will only happen if Texas and Oklahoma leave, and would end up around 10 or 11.
I disagree with those who say it's going to ruin college football; college football is awesome and will continue being such until they don't put wings on helmets anymore. But it can make college football suck significantly more by redefining conferences as massive corporations with stock options. Eight to 10 teams is a group of similar schools that expand their students' networks, share research, and organize sporting events. By Twelve it's more of a leauge than a conference. At fourteen it becomes stupid -- you are now in a "conference" with teams you don't play most years.
I don't even know how to balance a schedule with 6 division opponents, 7 cross-divisional opponents, and 9 conference games. Teams will undoubtedly have six-year intervals without playing each other at all. If they started in 2012, Pitt could see FSU at home six times between now and 2043. This is about how often Michigan plays UCLA.
Now would be a great time for the NCAA to grow a pair and replace its current president with a Caesar-like lifetime commissioner, for other reasons too (get compliance in order), but because that's the only way the not-quite-finished realignment cycle will be finished with other goals than a pressing TV deal in mind.
If you choose to click through past the jump, I've put together a pair of concepts for a workable NCAA league just in case this stuff all blows up like they're saying. Only go if you're into that sort of thing.
META Note: This space was meant to be a study on Mattison's rush tendencies versus GERG last year and their effectiveness. However the EMU game offered next to no data on the pass rush and present info from 3/4 of a Western game and a balls-out ND game are nowhere near enough to talk yet.