Saturday's game was a weird one in which virtually all of Iowa's relevant plays came on two back-to-back drives in the first half. They went three and out on their four other drives before it was 42-10.
The first of these drives was Iowa's only sustained success of the day. Iowa's second drive was a couple of chunk plays and then six straight unsuccessful ones; a terrible roughing the passer flag in the middle of that sequence got the Hawkeyes into chip-shot field goal territory.
I, like you, was a little worried about that touchdown drive and what it said about the defense; after looking at it I feel a bit better since one major reason was a bad matchup between James Ross and Mark Weisman. Ross would show up in the hole and Weisman would run him over, because he is a horsecow and Ross is a freshman.
There were a couple other subtle ways in which Ross showed his youth, like on this nine yard run. Iowa has picked up a first down and now has the ball first and ten nearing midfield. They come out in their 2TE ace set; Michigan responds with eight-ish in the box, sliding the linebackers to the field and bringing Kovacs down behind.
Iowa pops a TE up and moves one of the WRs to the line, then motions him.
Various Michigan defenders adjust in slight ways to this. Notably, two of the three linebackers step to the 2TE side; so does Kovacs. James Ross doesn't.
Each of these guys has slid essentially a person-width over, which makes sense because Iowa has moved their center of gravity a person-width over. Except Ross. Does this end up mattering?
I really need to find a better way to generate suspense in these posts.
Okay, snap. Inside zone because Iowa always always runs inside zone. I'm sure the playcalls have subtle variances; these escape me and are probably unknowable without actually being the playcaller. At our level of detail, all Iowa running plays are inside zone.
Key still explaining time:
1. Craig Roh on the backside hanging out unblocked. This is not what Michigan wants, I don't think. Earlier plays have seen Michigan split in the middle like they're doing on this play with a key difference:
There is no unblocked end as Iowa is running from a balanced formation. See Roh? Right above him is one guy moving to the second level and two LBs. Michigan has a free hitter—Ross again—and he'll hit, and Weisman will get one yard.
2. Brennen Beyer getting doubled. Ideally I think Iowa wants to seal him inside but if he goes outside too hard the back will cut inside and the interior OL will release.
3. Kovacs containing. He is the force guy, can't let anything outside of him, etc. By moving the TE over they get him blocked while still getting that double.
4 & 5. Ross and Demens running at the right spot. This time there are blockers for both, though, as long as Iowa can get Beyer effectively blocked.
They just barely do. Here Weisman is heading outside and Ross has gotten to the LOS so Iowa has run out of time to double Beyer. The outside guy pops off and Beyer is still not sealed:
Now this is where two things about James Ross combine to submarine Michigan. These are both basically "is a freshman." One is the the lack of response to the shift shown above. Take Ross in the above frame and move him a body-width to the outside. Now he's a step faster to this contact. He's outside, and his momentum is more downhill than it is here. With Beyer on the outside all he needs is a little bit of help…
Just a yard, just a hesitation, just any bit of delay. Beyer just needs one step. He doesn't get it, and then there's the other thing about being a freshman:
Sometimes you get picked up and dumped nine yards downfield.
Ross's lack of momentum when he meets the blocker is more apparent with the moving pictures.
Things And Stuff
This is something of an RPS play for Iowa. Beyer makes a nice play and may hold this down if he gets that step from Ross, but Weisman also has a cutback inside of that guy since Black goes straight upfield and Demens gets blocked. I don't think that's a problem with either of those guys since it seems like Michigan's strategy on the zone was to get aggressively upfield in gaps and let one of the two linebackers flow free:
would be a first down as Demens did not funnel back to Ross, may picture page later
On this play Michigan doesn't adjust and gets that unblocked backside guy they don't want. As a result someone has to beat a block to make a play; Beyer does and it is for naught.
Michigan still could have held it down. That one step Ross didn't take is probably the difference between two yards and nine; if he hits a little earlier, with a little more authority, Weisman slows and Beyer gets his cookie.
An older Ross could have made this mistake and still held it down. And then it's just getting carried. Of all the flaws to have this is the best one because it's obvious and not at all hard to fix; it was still a bit vexing on this drive.
Weisman was a bad matchup for Ross. Ross would show up in the right spot a lot and still get crunched back for significant YAC. On the third and five that set up Iowa's sneak, he did a great job to get to the hole on Yet Another Inside Zone and make contact with Weisman. Result:
That probably doesn't happen if Morgan's in the game. People stop when they meet Morgan. A guy like Weisman may pound out a yard or two; Iowa is still facing a fourth and three or four, and probably kicking except this is Ferentz we're talking about, the sandbagger.
Ross is still super instinctive. Once the ball is snapped Ross is almost certain to read quickly and get to the spot. While he still needs some work on zone drops, if he can put on 15-20 pounds and do that the sky is the limit for him. Of all the ways Iowa's rushing offense could have been better than expected "Weisman running over Ross" is the best one from a Michigan fan's perspective. Once Ross turns those twelve tackles into twelve tackles a yard closer to the LOS, with a yard less YAC, look out.
I came away from this game thinking that Ross was a major culprit in the admittedly limited success Iowa had on offense and that he was going to be really good possibly as soon as next year, if that makes any sense. The mistakes he makes are small, and given his high football IQ it seems certain he'll fix them by the time next fall rolls around. Add on the usual amount of mass and you've got my #1 pick for a breakout player on Michigan's 2013 D.
Todays' recruiting roundup covers Laquon Treadwell's top five, new highlight tapes for Denzel Ward and Taco Charlton, new 2013 and 2014 offers, and more.
Reschke Offered, Treadwell's Top Five
Michigan's coaching staff raised some eyebrows over the weekend after finally offering 2013 Birmingham Brother Rice linebacker and MSU commit Jon Reschke, a Spartan legacy who hasn't shown much interest in the Wolverines. Since Michigan had previously turned away linebacker recruits like Alex Anzalone and E.J. Levenberry, saying they were full at the position, the offer caused concern that a current commit was looking around. That doesn't appear to be the case, according to Tremendous, with rumors that Mike McCray was considering Ohio State debunked.
So, why the offer? For one, Brother Rice is a very strong in-state program, and Reschke was reportedly none too pleased with the lack of an offer (or serious interest) from Michigan. More importantly, however, Reschke is a heck of a player—I thought he was deserving of an offer last year, and he's stepped up his game even more this season—and with the fluid nature of recruiting, it's entirely possible that the scholarship situation at linebacker has changed. While I'd be surprised if Reschke flipped from MSU, he's close friends with Shane Morris, and he'd be a worthy addition to the class.
Matters aren't looking up on the Laquon Treadwell front, unfortunately, as he named an ordered top five to Scout's Beth Long after Crete-Monee's state semifinal victory last weekend ($). That top five, in order: Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State. Treadwell hasn't even visited the two Oklahoma schools yet, though officials are planned to both, but he has been to Oxford; barring a late turnaround—and in recruiting, that's not exactly unusual—this won't end well.
As for a backup plan, scratch MD WR Paul Harris off the list, as he reaffirmed his commitment to Tennessee despite the news of Derek Dooley's ouster, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($). While Harris leaves some room to look around, it doesn't sound like he'll consider Michigan. Michigan did host a committed 2013 prospect last weekend in Trotwood-Madison CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, according to 247's Clint Brewster. The three-star could be another option if/when Gareon Conley starts taking visits.
Michigan also handed out a 2014 offer last weekend, to FL WR Artavis Scott, high school teammate of offered OL Mason Cole, per multiple outlets. Scott is a four-star on all three sites that have released early rankings and is also on the ESPN150 Watch List, so he's universally regarded as a top prospect. The Wolverines have established themselves as one of Cole's early leaders, which should help them with Scott; both visited for the Michigan State game.
[For the rest of the recruiting roundup, including Denzel Ward's junior highlights, hit THE JUMP.]
Okay okay okay you guys I've got it
*ineligible for championship game, plays all games against coastal division
this song is exactly like adding Rutgers and Maryland because it is waste and terrible and has pointy hair
A side note: the poll from late Sunday is running 83-17 against Rutgers and Maryland.
Ok, so I find this Maryland/Rutgers thing agitating from a tradition standpoint and pointless from a $$$ standpoint. Michigan, Ohio State and PSU probably have the lion's share of CFB fans here in NYC already.
While meanwhile BTN is on the basic sports tier for $3.95 or something so anyone who wants it (and a ton of people who just want Fox Soccer or whatever) already has it.
The one group BTN _could_ conceivably seize in this area is Notre Dame fans. If this is a play to strangle ND's other avenues (ACC, Big East, with Big 12 already raided for Nebraska), it starts making a little more financial sense and becomes more palatable from a tradition standpoint.
Have you heard any rumblings to that effect? If that were in fact the idea, would you get behind it more?
Ben. You are a crazy bastard. Snatching one team from a 14 team conference that can immediately consider a near-equivalent—possibly an upgrade!—in UConn or Louisville is nowhere near destabilizing enough to do anything to Notre Dame, an institution looking saner by the minute for opting out of this conference business.
In fact, I would be infinitely happier with Louisville than either of the selected teams. You can drive there, they are the biggest thing in the city that is not a horse, and they are at least as good as Maryland in basketball with more promise in football.
What do you think the Irish fanbase's reaction to the Big Ten's Semisonic move was? I'll tell you:
- gales of laughter
- yet more gales of laughter
- that point after gales and gales of laughter where everything's petering out and you can't summon the oxygen to continue but you have that lovely, blissful aftertaste of laughing at everything for so long
- a silent prayer of thanks for Notre Dame's obstinate insistence at independence even if it requires playing a bunch of middling ACC teams each year
- oh my god the Big Ten voluntarily sucked up a middling ACC team and Rutgers
- gales of laughter
- ad infinitum
Notre Dame's avenues are broad and gilt-lined. As long as they can assemble a schedule that can get them into a four-team (and possibly expanding) playoff, they can tell anyone they want to FOAD.
Let me start by saying I hate the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten. They're crappy teams with insubstantial fanbases who've pretty much never been good. It's clear the decision for them to jump ship from the ACC (Or Big East, or whatever) to the Big Ten is based on a desire to make more money, as the Big Ten can afford them more money. Assuming that's true, do you think that increase in revenue can help them to eventually become better teams?
The obvious answer is no, you can't just throw money at a program and magically solve it's problems. But one can't deny the correlation between successful football programs and the endowments of those universities. Maybe Delany's thought is that he can grow Rutgers and Maryland's program into respectability over the course of time. During that time, he has new television markets he can get revenue from (theoretically), and new fanbases to own. I don't know, that's honestly the best explanation I can think of. Your insight, as always, is appreciated.
Ah. I see you are also in the bargaining phase. Welcome. It is slightly nicer here than depression.
I don't see how it happens. Loyal fanbases are built with wins or boredom. The fundamental problem with the awesome TV markets of Maryland and Rutgers is they are occupied with everything else in the world. The only way either of those programs is ever going to be anything more than they are right now is by beating M and OSU, or at least playing them with major stakes. That doesn't look like it'll happen, and the instant any of those teams falls off the map whatever bandwagon has assembled will dissolve into one of the other eight-six available teams. At best you're looking at an Iowa/MSU/Northwestern thing where they pop up to be interesting two years in a decade.
I think the chances of building something at Louisville would have been much greater, academics be damned, TV markets be damned. The city of Louisville doesn't have two pro teams in every sport sucking up all the oxygen.
Not to make this even worse, but with the way the BTN contracts with cable operators are set up, adding Rutgers will NOT (at least initially) require cable operators to launch BTN on expanded basic in the New York market. The addition of schools is set up on a state-by-state basis, meaning that Rutgers will require a move of BTN to expanded basic in New Jersey ONLY (half of New Jersey already should have BTN on basic b/c Phili market is considered part of Big 10 core footprint. Big 10 core footprint is all states with Big 10 schools plus the Philadelphia and St. Louis markets).
Some caveats: If a cable operator in New York market already carries BTN on a sports tier, and has a contract up for renewal soon, you can bet the Big 10/FOX will force BTN onto expanded basic. And if a cable operator doesn't carry BTN at all, you can also bet the Big 10/Fox will require expanded basic carriage if the operator wants to launch it.
That said, it could be a bit awkward to see Rutgers come in and BTN not go into New York City TVs, at least initially. PR-wise, the hit might be rough, although this is already a garbage idea anyway.
-credible anon guy
You did make it worse. Actually, wait. Michigan is putting a quarter billion dollars into nonrevenue sports. I don't care about money. I will never, ever again say "this will put the Big Ten on good footing relative to other conferences." I'm done.
I became a CF fan 10 years ago because I got tired of the NFL and was attracted to the tradition and pageantry of CF. I love the big stadia filled with young fans and the regional rivalries with trophy games like the Paul Bunyon ax and the Bowl games. Now it appears that CF is trying to become the NFL-Lite with super conferences that are destroying ancient rivalries and playoffs that threaten the bowls. Now we have two mediocre teams added to the Big Ten that will do nothing for the conference on the field. At some point don't you think that CF fans like myself ( and I am sure there are many like me) will become turned off, that any new fans will be offset by those like me who, if we want to watch the NFL, will simply watch the real thing?
Yes. This is the most irritating thing about the band of folks who tell you "no you just don't get it, this is about the future." This is a short-term money grab based on nothing else but the possibility of putting a cable TV channel on some homes that do not already have a cable TV channel.
The problem is that in five to ten years when some modicum of financial benefit is being realized—and that will be a boost on the order of 10%, not 100%—people will have ever-fatter internet pipes and start bailing on cable for internet streaming. Watch what happens in Kansas City now that Google fiber is in place. The ability to bilk old ladies out of a dollar a month because they want to watch Matlock marathons is rapidly ending. The Big Ten Network will be an ephemeral bridge between an era when gatekeepers kept all the things and one where epic bandwidth means you get only what you want—you pay only for what you want—always.
Once the cable barriers come down, as they inevitably will, this comes down to committed diehards per school. How many people will pay you specifically instead of allow themselves to be roped into an expensive package of channels they largely don't care for but have no choice about?
Maryland has several, but not many compared to most Big Ten schools. Rutgers has one, he's a nice guy, he is @ruscoop. I don't think that's enough.
For this short-term gain, you dilute the long-standing rivalries, the decades-long narratives, the very heart of the thing that differentiates college football from all the other things competing for attention. It's the same thing Brandon has done to Michigan Stadium—in an effort to make its appeal the same as everything else he has sacrificed anything unique about it that might make one love it.
There are still things to love about college football—I mean, Denard—but increasingly they are surrounded by crap that you tolerate. The future is the niche, even at macro scales, and broadening out your product to be a Midwestern sports Two and a Half Men is a losing idea created by men with no imagination who rely on spreadsheets to create the future.
I mean, who's crazy here: the fans who were generally okay with the additions of Penn State and Nebraska or the men who added nonentities the entire league has to fly to so they could get a TV channel in some extra homes?
I can't tell if Rutgers has a D1 hockey program. If not, doesn't that scuttle B1G hockey? IIRC, the B1G by-law requires half of the conferences schools to field a D1 roster in order to have in conference competition in a given sport.
They do not. Neither does Maryland. Neither will add hockey any time soon because they are still crawling out from massive piles of debt, which should make you think about who is using who here. Note that most other ACC programs are doing just fine financially, and Maryland would not be interested in moving from the conference they were a charter member of except for the fact that they have bungled everything so badly they need the Big Ten's money. That's our prize.
It won't affect Big Ten hockey for the same reason that this is happening in the first place: the BTN needs content and the BTHC provides it. The most interesting impact this thing may have on college hockey is that if UConn is the pick for the ACC, they'll be one program away from having to launch an ACC hockey conference. [HT: BC Interruption.]
I'd actually be in favor of that; the best way to get college hockey to expand is to break up the ice-floes that are 12 team conferences and provide inviting homes for startups large and small.
Regarding Big Ten expansion in general, and adding Maryland and Rutgers (lol, wut?) specifically.
Also, and somewhat random, am I making a correct observation that OSU has the easiest road to the CCG for the foreseeable future? Outside of Michigan, who else can legitimately challenge them on a consistent basis? PSU, with the scholarship reductions will most likely bottom out some point soon. Wisconsin is coached by Bielema ('nuff said right?) who likes to run the ball with no timeouts left down a score late in the fourth and then again when it's 3rd and 7 in overtime. Then you factor in general superiority in coaching and players and it really adds up to a frequent cakewalk to Indy. (Obviously not everything is written in stone, but just playing the odds, yuck).
I don't know Meyer's health condition, but it really seems like he's the kind of guy who likes to win and he'll do what it takes to make it as easy as possible i.e. leave the SEC where his teams started to decline post-Tebow, to the weaker Big Ten with Miller already on the roster.
Well, our collective freakout about the divisions may be premature. Delany said some business about not having anything predetermined at the moment, and while anything that comes from an executive has to be taken with a grain of salt… let's latch on to that super hard you guys.
The Big Ten needs to stop looking at Penn State as some sort of historical juggernaut and consider what it's done since entering the league. I had to go back to a 2011 revision of Joe Paterno's wikipedia page to get this, but here is PSU's record against the four Big Ten teams (along with Nebraska) that were considered plus programs when they put these divisions together:
- Wisconsin: 6-7
- Iowa: 7-9
- Ohio State: 7-13
- Michigan: 6-10
They're 0-2 against Nebraska; their game against Wisconsin is pending.
The vast bulk of the results were compiled before Joe Paterno was hurled from his pedestal and Penn State was hit with the most serious NCAA sanctions since SMU. At best they are a Wisconsin/Iowa equivalent.
Yeah, Michigan and Ohio State are likely to be the best two programs in the league over a long period of time but in any given year the best program from the Nebraska/Wisconsin/Iowa/Illinois* group is going to be a stiff test. A hypothetical division with M/OSU/PSU versus the hate parallelogram is
- winner of A/A/B program fight versus
- winner of A-/B/B program fight
It is less than ideal, but this is a conference that just added Maryland and Rutgers. In terms of less-than-ideal situations it is far from the least ideal. It is a lot more intriguing than a division in which Wisconsin/OSU is the championship game for the next decade.
*[Illinois is good sometimes. I know it's weird.]
Depending on what hour you are reading this, Brian is somewhere on the Kübler-Ross chain between coming up with 20-team divisions sans Purdue, and emulating an otter. Since this thing is happening despite the sentiment expressed in our totally scientific internet poll, I thought maybe being, like, informative…?
Tell 'em what they've won, Jim:
+'s: Lacrosse power, soccer power, unique mascot, fits academic profile, unlikely to upset anyone's national title hopes.
-'s: Not a power in anything but sports nobody cares about. Almost Indiana in football. Were on their way to mid-majordom.
The School: Founded in 1856. Those who know their Morrill Act history could guess one sentence before you did that it's a land-grant school (Michigan State, Penn State). Original name: Maryland Agricultural College, later Maryland State College. They're AAU members, and about the same size as Michigan or Purdue. Academically they're solidly in the Purdue/Ohio State midpoint of the conference, although they only got super serious about being a research institution since the '60s so their endowment—$791 million—is easily last among the current conference, and only a tenth of Michigan's. They're also a system school—sharing a degree with UMD-Baltimore and an affiliation with a bunch of other in-state schools—so I don't know if the CIC plans on sharing dollars with just the flagship campus, College Park and Baltimore, or the whole system.
Important alumni: Jim Henson and Larry David. Sugar daddy: Kevin Plank of Under Amour.
Colors: Red and white or yellow and black are good enough color schemes for most corn-fed Midwesterners, but marshaling of arms in English heraldry has no concept of clashing, thus the Terps are liable to favor any of those from George Calvert in any combination. They've been known to take the field looking like an unholy abomination of leftover Iowa running back parts and Rex Burkhead, or in maroon and chrome, or lattice bodices and cloaks of animal skins.
Mascot: A terrapin, or "terp" for short. It means turtle.
Athletics: Here's a guy answering my query on their SBNation blog:
Basketball school (right now like 80-20, but when we rebound in fball it’s more like 60-40). We hate Duke as much as you hate anything in your life. If something big happens we riot. A great deal of our fanbase already hates PSU, so yea, we can hate them for ya.
Really good at Msoccer (good womens), great at lax and field hockey. Womens basketball too
We don’t dress funny, you just dress like some 80 year old man with a hideous fashion sense and call it tradition.
Our college Bball atmosphere is way better than fball, but we do have Stefon Diggs who is likely god himself
Emphasis on the hating Duke. In re lacrosse: the ACC's deal
was similar to the Big East's, where they belonged to other conferences but the few schools who had programs played each other [EDIT: they had a conference, but didn't send a champion]. They're immediately the best lacrosse school in the conference. Women's lacrosse is probably the best in the country.
[JUMP: Meet Maryland athletics, and Rutgers]
- Fitz's surgery went well. He should be out of the hospital by now.
- Denard is improving. May be able to throw.
- Desmond Morgan should be back.
- There's some kind of football game happening on Saturday.
“Number one, Fitz had surgery. Went very well. Saw him yesterday. Should get out of the hospital today, and should have a full recovery, and we’ll move forward and he’ll move forward. But everything went well, as well as it can as far as having an injury. No one wants that for any kid.
“The Iowa game was one where we have to play much better than we did this week to be successful. The great thing about it was our guys, the seniors of this team, being able to come up that tunnel for the last time and sing the Victors in the locker room here. That was a real positive and as we look forward, we’ve got a great challenge in front of us and an opportunity, one that -- this is a fun football game. Any time you have a rivalry like this, this is a fun game to play.”
How much will it help your team that having been able to get game experience using Denard the way you used him?
“Well, I think it helps our football team. When we moved Devin, and he wanted to move to wide receiver, we were helping our football team because you’re putting your best 11 on the field. I think Denard fits in that either as a quarterback or as a slot receiver or wherever it may be. It helps our football team. Was it good to see him in live action? Yeah.”