landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
I think this means we win. Kate Upton is a Michigan fan. She is also a moderately attractive young lady!
High fives for everyone!
[Pay no attention to the following SEO-oriented paragraph:
So I heard you like Kate Upton in your Upton so I put Kate in your Upton and Uptoned your Kate so you can Kate while you Kate and Upton while you Upton. Sex tape.
The Ten Year War ends. WH compiles the 1978 Michigan-OSU game:
A few weeks later Woody Hayes would bonk a Clemson linebacker and that was that.
Ref bump noted. Kyle Kalis's epic ref bump…
…is something OL coach Darrell Funk also picked up on:
"He just wants to tear your head off," Funk said. "He plays like that all the time and practices like that all the time, and we need that. You can Xs and Os all you want, and that’s important, but at the end of the day, it starts up front." …
Funk laughed when he described one sequence of film in which Kalis knocks over an umpire “when he was throwing someone around” and couldn’t decide whether to help the guy up or find someone else to hit.
The ref was shaken but not badly hurt. This is because Kalis was hurting someone else.
Funk also notes that none of the four guys currently in the class projects to center; that will be a priority in 2013.
The old mean guy. Meanwhile, David Molk adds to his Scrooge-McDuck level quote vault:
“The awards were never anything that I strived to get,” Molk said, before correcting himself.
“I take that back,” he said, laughing. “The only award I wanted was the Rimington mostly because a guy who worked with us, (Michigan assistant strength coach) Dan Mozes, was a Rimington winner at West Virginia. I’d say something, and he’d say, ‘Hey, Molk, shut up. I’ve got an 80-pound trophy and you don’t.’"
He's being told he could go anywhere from the bottom of the first(!) to the third round.
Three point defense: random. This Kenpom post at ESPN($) caught my eye after I previewed a Nebraska team that is thoroughly awful at all basketball activities except opponent three-point shooting. Here are the year-to-year correlations between various defensive stats:
Opponents' 3-point percentage: .204
Opponents' free throw percentage: .266
Opponents' 2-point percentage: .558
Opponents' 3-point attempt percentage: .575
There are just four numbers here, but they provide a very powerful context. What stands out is that opponents' free throw percentage correlates more strongly from season to season than opponents' 3-point percentage. In other words, we can predict a team's "free throw defense" in the future based on current stats better than we could predict its 3-point defense. And I think everyone understands that a team has little control over its opponents' free throw percentage.
IE, the percentage of threes your opponents hit is not a particularly useful thing to look at, but the number of threes they get off is. Wisconsin is a particularly excellent example of this phenomenon. Last year their opponents hit 37% of their threes, good for only 299th nationally. This year that's dipped 10 percentage points and they skyrocket to first.
What does this mean for Michigan? Not a whole lot. Their three-point D is a little below average; so is their ability to prevent opponents from launching. It will be interesting to watch how that latter number changes next year as Michigan adds a ton of height.
No elite teams, continued. Following up on Monday's assertion that there don't seem to be many elite teams in college hockey this year: KRACH provides strong evidence of that. KRACH is a ranking system that's more pleasant to statistically minded folk for reasons I won't get into in case some of you are operating heavy machinery. For purposes of this argument it's useful because it not only provides a ranking but also has a strength rating.
KRACH tends to get enthusiastic about strong leagues and teams; it has a tendency to proclaim certain teams nigh invulnerable. Here's last year's version:
Note the huge jumps in rating as you climb. There's a pretty tight bunch until you hit BC and North Dakota; there's also a cliff after #7. This year there is no such gap:
KRACH ratings add to the same number every year and so provide a baseline: this year's most dominant team would be… eh… fourth last year, and the gaps between the top teams and the bottom of the top ten are significantly smaller than they usually are.
This promises to be the most wide open NCAA tournament since… well, not very long ago. Single-elimination playoff hockey remains an exercise in blind terror and weird bounces. A couple years ago three of the four one seeds crashed and burned before the Frozen Four. But if you like your barely-weighted plinko to be really hardly weighted at all this is your year. Anyone who makes it in will be eyeing the Frozen Four.
Strengths: A mobile defenceman with length, strength and range. Plays a physical game and not afraid to take a run at an opponent. Has some offensive skills, is a good passer with vision and a hard point shot. Weaknesses: there are some questions about his overall hockey sense, needs to learn to rein in the physical play at times and play with composure.
Strengths: Very quick skater with soft hands, a sneaky release and he competes. Good offensive instincts, good size, tough to contain along the boards on the cycle. Weaknesses: Needs to keep working on his defensive duties and could play with a bit more edge more consistently. He will likely require more time in college to round out his game but has been rumoured to be leaning towards playing all four seasons in Michigan. His production has waned in second half of season.
…and does not rank Nieves in their top 45.
Bad incentives. The United States of Hockey takes on UND coach Dave Hakstol's assertion that playing in the CHL shouldn't hurt your NCAA eligibility:
First off, allowing CHL players to retain college eligibility could have a gigantic impact on the USHL. More top-end players would go to the CHL fully knowing that they’ll have a fall-back plan. So they can go up and get added exposure, get in front of more scouts on a nightly basis. The top end in the USHL could be significantly diminished in such a scenario.
While this move would help the NCAA’s depth, it would most likely eliminate many of the top-end players from ever making it to the NCAA. By the time a player’s Junior career is over at age 20, most would go to the NHL or AHL. Only the guys that would have otherwise played lower-level minor-league hockey would end up in college. The quality of play gets dragged down in the college ranks. While the NCAA would remain a developmental option, it also becomes a safety net for CHL players similar to what the Canadian Interuniversity Sport is right now. That’s an ugly scenario for American college hockey, which has produced NHL talent as long as it’s been in existence.
The USHL is a hugely important part of the route to college hockey and should be protected at all costs. Allowing players to go to the CHL and maintain collegiate eligibility cuts the decade-long rise of the league off at the knees. It's a nonstarter.
The only way I could see this happening is if the NCAA restricted post-CHL eligibility to just Canadians. That wouldn't hurt the USHL. Because of the double standard in place between USA Hockey and their Canadian counterpart Canadians wanting to play college hockey have to cool their heels in Junior A leagues far inferior to the USHL. If the NCAA opened the door for Canadians coming over immediately after high school, I could see it working…
…except the CHL would immediately make it not work by finding sufficient NCAA regulations to violate so that any kid in junior would never make it to campus without an inquisition. Saban teaches that it is not a good idea to give people in charge of high school/college kids incentive to not have their charges graduate. So nevermind.
Etc.: GLI outdoors officially. Seniors on next year's team will have played outdoors all four years.. Michigan gets three million for renting out Michigan Stadium. Boo Nieves will make a move to the USHL after his prep season ends.
I talk with Lake the Posts about the Mattison transition and why Northwestern shouldn't expect the same miracle with a new coordinator. The Bylaw Blog on revamping transfer restrictions. Mock Rock recap. Ace on the GBMW podcast.
2/8/2012 – Michigan 64, Nebraska 46 – 18-7, 8-4 Big Ten
First half, second half
I cannot pretend that last night's game inspired soaring emotions in me. It was (eventually) a routine blowout of a very bad basketball team and the most interesting bit was the three minutes at the beginning of the second half when Michigan pushed the lead out to an insurmountable margin.
While it's nice to be irritated about a seven-point halftime lead and despondent at what the late flurry did to Michigan's Kenpom rankings, let's just hit the bullets/analysis section posthaste.
Always Hardaway first. Hardaway was 0/7 in the first half with five of those from three; in the second half he was 3/4 with the miss also from three and added three assists. He's still not rebounding much, though a single-game sample there is not reliable. Bad shots were significantly reduced. Most of his missed threes were good looks, and if there was a frustrating long two there was only one.
Progress or just playing Nebraska? We'll call the second half progress if only because the preceding 60 minutes were such poo. The nice thing about that half was the way Hardaway was used in the offense: catching off screens and diving to the basket without having to rely on his handle to beat a defender.
That should be a primary component of the offense going forward. Hardaway finished at the rim on a couple of those and hit Morgan for easy buckets on a couple others; the catch off the screen limits the time opponents have to sag off three point shooters and rake at Hardaway's dribble. Defenses will of course adjust to this, and then Michigan will have to move to something else in the cat and mouse game, but they'll be able to.
As for the shooting, I don't know. On WTKA this morning Craig Ross was advocating hypnosis, Ira was saying he needs to hook up with the hockey team's sports psychologist, and I declared Hardaway needed to commit a spine-shattering charge before being allowed to take a three. Then we decided all three should be implemented.
Beilein's offense is constructed such that Hardaway is going to have to take his share of threes, and as long as they're within the context of the offense that's fine. Eventually, one will go down.
Measuring the difference between Morris and Burke. Theory: Jordan Morgan usage is highly correlated with shot generation in general and especially by the point guard. Morgan's shooting percentage is unnaturally high because the vast bulk of his attempts are GRAAAA thunderdunks generated by the point guard (and Morgan's movement) or Morgan's ability to run the floor.
I was thinking about this during the game because the correlation between Morgan shot attempts and the efficiency of Michigan's offense was glaring. First half: one Morgan shot attempt (missed). Second half: four (all makes). Morgan usage is not only a sign of GRAAAA thunderdunks but an offense that is generating shots off of movement and penetration; it seems like it is correlated with increased eFG% from the rest of the team.
Anyway, Morgan-Morris-Burke survey says:
- Morgan w/ Darius Morris: 20% of shots @ 63%, 10.7 OREB rate, 19.2 TORate.
- Morgan w/ Trey Burke: 16.4% of shots @ 65%, 11.9 OREB rate, 25.7 TORate.
[OREB rate and TORate included because it seems like he should get more putbacks this year and that Morris apparently got him touches less likely to end up as turnovers.]
Burke has a ways to go before he's as Morris-level freakish shot-generating machine. He may never get there, which is okay since he's a much better shooter. This section primarily designed to wonder at what a meteor of a college player Morris was, and to shake a fist at his early departure.
Burke, though. Efficient day with 12 points on 7 shots and a 5-2 assist to TO ratio. If he improves as much as Morris did from freshman to sophomore year he will be a twenty-foot tall robot who shoots 130% from three.
Stu Douglass, Zack Novak, the usual. Between them: 5/9 from three, 5/7 from two, 5 assists, five steals, 0 turnovers, three fouls, and a partridge in a pear tree. The senior leadership here is damned tangible.
Anyone still talking crap about Douglass is an inveterate complainer. He has been okay to good on the offensive end of the floor and a great perimeter defender on the other end. Bo Spencer went 4 of 12, 1 of 6 from three.
As for Novak, he's hitting 43% from three and in the top 50 of various Kenpom stats; he's also providing the usual torrent of grit. Quality players who will be missed.
Vogrich. Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Let it ride. Please, please, please let that be a sign that Vogrich can be a useful role player down the stretch. Going six deep is asking for it.
Paging Smotrycz to aisle things that exist. The only things separating Smotrycz from a 13-minute trillion were:
- A defensive rebound.
- Two fouls.
- A turnover.
Not so good, there. Remember when we were complaining about Smotrycz's tendency towards silly fouls because Michigan was crippled without him on the court? Yeah… long time ago. Just as long as "oh God, the hockey tourney streak is dead."
Playing at the five is clearly uncomfortable but Michigan has few other options with Horford sidelined. I actually think they should roll with McLimans a bit more in situations where opposing bigs can't shoot free throws, if only for the defensive rebounding. Smotrycz was ripping them down as a 4 and things have fallen off considerably now that most of his minutes are backing up Morgan.
Even that's not much of a solution. Michigan's just going to have to suck it up and pray that Morgan doesn't get inappropriately handsy in the wrong game. He's been doing a much better job of staying on the floor of late, FWIW. His fouls per 40 is down to 4.0.
This should get a lot better next year with no departures and McGary, Horford, and Bielfeldt all suddenly available for post minutes. It's actually going to be hard to find minutes for everyone next year. And they'll be tall. It's going to be weird.
Trillion watch. Colton Christian picked up a two trillion; Bartelstein and Person were missed FGAs away from the same.
Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III is one of the top prospects at any position in the class of 2013, earning five-star status from Rivals (#10 overall), 24/7 (#7), and ESPN along with an early four-star rating from Scout. The Wolverines recently joined Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, South Florida, USC, Vanderbilt, and Virginia in extending the 5'11", 180-pound junior an offer. You can see sophomore highlights of Hargreaves above, and read through my recent conversation with the blue-chip prospect below:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which schools are going after you the most right now?
VERNON: It's going good, it's exciting. I got four offers today, which was really exciting, I wasn't expecting them. I'd have to say Florida and USF are recruiting me the hardest.
ACE: Coming from Florida, is there a strong pull from those in-state schools, especially with having your father [USF assistant Vernon Hargreaves Jr.] on the coaching staff at one of them? Is that a big drawing point for you?
VERNON: Not really. I'm looking for a program with a good base, where the coaches aren't constantly leaving. So not really, not for me at least. For some kids it is, but for me I'm just going to take all my visits and see which one I like the best.
ACE: Are there any schools that are standing out as early favorites for you?
VERNON: Not really, because I haven't seen every school. The only schools I've been to are Florida and Florida State, so I can't really say they're my leaders because they're the only schools I've been to.
ACE: Talking about Michigan real quick, which coaches have been in contact with you from Michigan, and what are your impressions of the school and the program?
VERNON: Coach Montgomery called me recently, so I've been talking to him lately. I don't really know much about Michigan, but I know they have a huge stadium, one of the biggest—114,000, something crazy like that. That's always cool.
ACE: Coming in and getting the five-star recognition early and getting all this attention from all these big schools, how do you handle the expectations that come with that and what's it like to get that recognition early on?
VERNON: Football season hasn't started yet so there's not really that much pressure on me yet. I'm just taking it in, watching it happen and just having fun, not getting too stressed about it.
ACE: Going back and talking about your junior year, how'd you feel you performed and what kind of numbers did you put up?
VERNON: I actually got hurt in the summer, I sprained my left ankle, so that set me back, and then I sprained my right ankle, so I was playing crippled basically for the whole year. I think I could've done better this year, but my team made it to the playoffs, and though we lost in the first round it was the first time we've made it in four years, so that was pretty exciting. My numbers, I had 11 touchdowns, two interception and around 67 tackles.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field and what are you trying to work on and improve for your senior year and beyond?
VERNON: I'm trying to get faster. I'm running track right now, because they always say speed kills. I'm also just trying to get stronger, so I'm not getting hurt as much and I can jam people off the ball.
ACE: And what would you say you're best at on the field?
VERNON: I'm probably best at playing man-to-man. That's where I feel like I'm best at.
ACE: Looking ahead to this summer, do you have any junior days in mind for taking visits or are you still trying to figure out a schedule?
VERNON: I'm still trying to figure out a schedule where I can work everybody out. I'm going up to USF this Sunday for a junior day, but that's just right up the street.
ACE: When it comes down to making a decision what are you going to be looking for at a school in terms of what traits are going to draw you in?
VERNON: It would have to be a good environment and a good education, obviously, just like everybody else. Just a good place to be around and where I can be happy for four years.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline, when you'd want to get things wrapped up?
VERNON: Probably a little before signing day. Next year at this time I'll have it all figured out, but I'm not sure. That's just what I'm thinking.
ACE: I see the name 'Freeze' come up as a nickname. How'd you pick that one up?
VERNON: I was playing 7-on-7s and I was at corner, and the other team wasn't throwing my way. I got interviewed after the game and the reporter was like, "Can I call you Freeze," and I said sure. All my teammates heard it and they started making fun of me, so I just went whatever, so it kinda sticks now.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's one thing about you or something you like to do that has nothing to do with football that you'd like people to know about you?
VERNON: I don't really have any hidden talents or anything, but I play a lot of Xbox. I guess you could say that (laughs).
ACE: What's your favorite game on there?
VERNON: Call of Duty.
|WHAT||Michigan at Nebraska|
|WHERE||Devaney Sports Center,
|WHEN||9 PM Eastern|
|LINE||M –5 (Kenpom)|
Nebraska basketball: waiting around for Ndamukong Suh Jr. to rescue your program… in 2042.
The only thing keeping Nebraska from the title of "easily the worst team in the Big Ten" is the existence of Penn State. They're .500 on the year and 3-8 in the league. They're not very good. But it's a Big Ten road game so Michigan has to overcome not only the opponent but the heebie jeebies.
Senior guard Bo Spencer is the main guy. He shoots nearly 30% of Nebraska's field goal attempts and has a decent assist rate. Unfortunately for the Huskers, he turns the ball over a ton, shoots a lot of threes at a 31% clip, and hits only 48% from within the arc. His stats have a Dion Harris vibe to them—on a better team he'd be taking a lot fewer shots and making more of them. One thing to avoid: putting Spencer on the line. He's an 88% FT shooter. Michigan isn't giving up many free-throws (second in the league), FWIW.
After Spencer, senior wing Toney McCray is the main man. He's efficient when he gets a shot off and a good defensive rebounder but is also a turnover-prone black hole who doesn't get to the line.
Guard Brandon Richardson is a low-usage version of Spencer, with a good assist rate, terrible TO rate for a guard, and meh shooting. He is hitting nearly 40% from deep, though, and does get to the line from time to time. 6'4" guard Caleb Walker is low usage and high-turnover; when he gets a two off it's a good shot.
Post Brandon Ubel looks like a standard-issue guy who gets a bunch of offensive rebounds but is otherwise not a big part of the offense. Normal starting center Jorge Brian Diaz is out with a foot injury. Diaz is a quality shot blocker; Ubel is not.
The tempo-free theme is turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. No Nebraska player cracks the top 500 least turnover-prone players in the country; everyone who sees playing time has a TO rate of at least 17. Michigan has three starters well under that mark (Hardaway, Novak, and Douglass) and their high-usage freshman PG has a TO rate three points lower than Spencer.
While Nebraska is not good at basketball they have risen up to disturb tourney-bound teams more than once this year. Their only actual win against a tourney aspirant was by one point against Indiana but they tested Illinois and Wisconsin (on the road, even) and hung in for a surprisingly long time against Michigan State in a game they ended up losing by 13.
Those mitigating factors aside, yeesh. Nebraska had one win against major competition in the nonconference (a double OT win against 6-18 USC) and lost to bad Oregon and Wake Forest teams; their conference wins aside from Indiana are against Penn State and Iowa.
Michigan's visit to Carver-Hawkeye earlier this year is ample evidence that no road game should be taken for granted, but if you were going to do so this would be the one.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||46.9 10||52.1 9||49|
|Turnover %:||23.0 12||19.5 6||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||26.5 11||33.9 10||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||31.1 9||35.9 8||36.5|
Nebraska does nothing well and the only thing they do sort of okay is force turnovers. This looks like a high-risk, high-reward sort of outfit. They lead the league in steal% at 11.5; they are dead last at defending twos, allowing nearly a 55% conversion rate.
Nebraska hits only 30% of its threes but takes 41% of its shots from long range. They're tall and old, though—Kenpom has them #2 in experience.
For the love of God, Hardaway. Please, please, please let you get what you want this time.
Michigan needs rebounds, defense, and better shot selection from Hardaway. If he's taking a late-clock force, an open three off ball movement, or going to the rim I don't care if it goes in or not. Long twos with 25 seconds on the shot clock have to die, and he has to close out, and he has to get on the defensive boards.
The worst part about Hardaway's slump is how useless he's been at all the things other than scoring that you can do. Fix that, and Michigan can live with the shooting, or lack thereof.
this, do this
Skip the threes. This is a team giving up 55% from inside the arc. They're actually decent at defending threes. Backdoor, screen, etc. Any and all threes should be open looks based off penetration. Go inside.
This goes double with Diaz out. The starting center is rejecting 1.6 percent of available shots. Run at the rim with impunity.
Um. Show up on defense. Looking at the conference numbers and it's just, like… I don't see how this team does anything. They shoot free throws well; in all other categories they are eighth or worse in the league.
Presumably Douglass gets Spencer, which seems like a fine matchup from Michigan's perspective. Novak will draw a guy approximately his size—Nebraska seems to rotate the posts at the five and there are no other players on the roster taller than 6'6" who get minutes. The main concern is again Hardaway, who will get McCray's efficient shooting and vast turnover supply.
Usual Big Ten road game stuff. The heebie jeebies!
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by five.
W-L Pace PPP Opp. PPP EM 1. Ohio St. 8-2 66.7 1.11 0.84 +0.27 2. Michigan St. 7-3 62.3 1.10 0.93 +0.17 3. Wisconsin 7-4 57.7 1.02 0.96 +0.06 4. Michigan 7-4 59.4 1.04 1.01 +0.03 5. Indiana 6-6 65.6 1.10 1.09 +0.01 6. Minnesota 5-6 64.2 1.02 1.02 0.00 7. Illinois 5-5 62.6 0.98 0.99 -0.01 8. Purdue 5-5 63.7 1.03 1.08 -0.05 9. Iowa 5-6 67.3 1.03 1.10 -0.07 10. Northwestern 4-6 61.4 1.04 1.12 -0.08 11. Penn St. 2-9 63.0 0.94 1.09 -0.15 12. Nebraska 3-8 62.6 0.92 1.08 -0.16 AVG. 63.0 1.03
Michigan plays #1 at home and then has games against 7 (two of them), 8, 10, 11, and 12. The games against the bottom three are on the road, but if you were going to split up the home/road games to maximize likely wins that's the way you'd want it.
no pressure, Ondre
As part of the run up to the Super Bowl, Smart Football posted a Grantland article detailing the Patriots' defense. It's not much good at football, that defense, but it is pretty interesting from the Michigan perspective for two reasons.
Reason one: it provides an excuse for Chris Brown to talk about techniques in an easy to understand way.
"Gap" refers to the area between offensive linemen. A 1-gap technique is just what it sounds like: The defensive lineman lines up in front of the gap he is responsible for and his job is to attack and control it. If nothing else, a defender must not allow a runner to go through his gap. While defensive linemen attack their gaps, the linebackers behind them are responsible for their own gaps. These are the defense's "run fits," meaning how they fit into an offense's blocking scheme to take away running space.
Courtesy of Chris Brown
The 2-gap technique, by contrast, sounds physically impossible. How can one player occupy two separate gaps? He does it by controlling the blocker. At the snap of the football, a two-gapping defensive lineman does what Wilfork did to Birk. He leads with his hands, gets leverage on the offensive lineman, and takes control of the blocker. From there, the advanced techniques kick in. On run plays, the defender reacts to where the blocker tries to take him. If he is double-teamed, he'll try to split the blockers and either shoot into the backfield or occupy the blockers, thus freeing up his teammates to make tackles.
In short, while a 1-gap player attacks gaps, a 2-gap player attacks people. Football's conventional wisdom states that an effective 2-gap lineman, particularly one who lines up in the middle of the defense like Wilfork does, must be enormous. Coaches refer to them as "war daddies." But size is actually less important than athleticism and smarts. The line between touchdowns and stops in the NFL is exceedingly thin, and it's footwork and feel that are the difference. It is the most violent, most complicated, and most beautiful ballet I can think of.
Count the war daddies on the Michigan defensive line. You come back with a true freshman and an inconsistent former five star who can't play consistently without standing up straight. The other guy who would be two-gapping in a 3-4 is… Nate Brink? Jibreel Black? A true freshman? Not happening.
This matters much more than a surfeit of linebackers when you're trying to pick a defense to run, especially when moving to a two-gap system does not get more of them on the field. The 3-4 is not coming to Michigan.
At least not in total. We might see bits and pieces, though…
Reason two is an interesting adjustment the Patriots have made to adapt to their personnel. Wilfork is a monster they would like to use to the maximum extent possible, which means two-gapping him. Asking him to be Mike Martin is a lot like asking Ondre Pipkins to run a bunch of goofy pass-rush stunts like he did in the AA game. But because of deficiencies elsewhere Bill Belichick (mainly a 3-4 guy) feels compelled to run a 4-3, which generally means one-gapping.
What to do?
The Patriots run a 3-4 to one side of the field and a 4-3 to the other, all on the same play. The key to all this is Wilfork. He lines up over the center and assumes his traditional spot of run-stuffing, blocker consuming, two-gapping war daddy. Belichick fills out the rest of the pieces based on the strengths and weaknesses of his other defenders.
Create a hybrid. This is the Patriots' under front, one similar to what Michigan ran this year except with one planetoid defensive tackle and one strong-and-good strongside defensive two-gapping. This might be something we see from Michigan next year. Getting maximum production out of Pipkins basically demands something similar.
The problem here is still the same one we have when we theorize about moving to a 3-4, though: there is no SDE on the roster with a prayer of being able to two-gap anything. If you try to get clever by flipping Campbell out there you're asking for it when that tight end goes in motion to the other side of the line and you're either rearranging the entire DL on the fly or running this:
Your weakside DE is not a pass rush threat at all. So don't expect this next year.
HOWEVA, even if you shouldn't go around calling the defense "basically Belichick's" yet, we should expect Pipkins' deployment to be radically different than Martin's. That should mean fewer blocks getting to the linebackers and more plays from that unit. If the ILBs find a surge in productivity it will be because of Pipkins—not because he is a better player than Martin, but because he's a different one.
You'll be able to tell if this is happening by Pipkins's alignment. Martin played a "shade"—he aligned in the gap between the center and guard. If Michigan wants Pipkins to be Wilfork they'll put him nose to nose with the center and say "sic 'em."
This is where disclaimers go. Even with New England doing this a major theme of the first half in the Super Bowl was that one-gap backside tackle getting doubled (often on zone runs) and blown up. It is never as simple as "this guy gets one on one blocking." All you can do is change the equation so that doing that exposes someone else to a tough assignment. You can't entirely cover up for a sucky player.
Pipkins may be talented but there's more to playing nose tackle than talent. You can dominate your guy, push him into the backfield, and still screw up if you lose control of one of your gaps. Usually this happens when the DT gets pushed too far in the direction he wants to go and opens up a cutback lane behind him. When one of these players is Gabe Watson and the other is Pat Massey, pain results. It's not too hard to envision that happening what with Will Campbell still a rotation player you're a little afraid of. At least he's not 6'8"*.
It may make more sense to start Pipkins off with the easier assignment (always one-gap) and hope to make him impactful in two gaps later in his career. That'll be one of the interesting tactical decisions we unveil against… oh, Christ. Alabama. Yay!
*[Who in the hell looked at a 6'8", 260 pound player and put him on defense? That is either a tackle or a tight end or a man who should be playing basketball.]
A couple of not-very-important bits of information I've gotten from sources I consider reliable follow.
the last one ended well
Night night night night. I'm hearing next year's game at Notre Dame will be at night. Given Michigan's stated desire for a night game per year and the Big Ten's prohibition against having them in November, we could see a large number of M-ND matchups from here on out in primetime.
Maize is not BRIGHT BRIGHT yellow.
An increased focus on making things look reasonable. A reader who would know and I trust when talking about these matters tells me the athletic department is placing an increased focus on making maize actually, you know, maize.
This comes after years of increasing highlighter-yellow creep. Anyone who's surveyed a student section and been able to pick out the 10% who still wear shirts that would not blind a donkey knows how alarming the color drift has become in recent years.
This will "take years to happen." Even so, it's a welcome development. Uniform guru Steve Sapardanis liked the brighter yellow last August, FWIW. I prefer the darker shade.
BONUS: If you care and know what the Pantone colors are, they are Blue 282 and Maize 116. If someone can convert those into hexadecimal I will move the primary colors here to Officially Official colors until such point as copyright-drunk lawyers sue me. I confess that I eyeballed them way back when.
[Note for superheroes with the power of pedantry: there will have to be a few different shades of whatever I use for internet purposes.]