In the aftermath of yesterday's game, I've seen a number of people claim that Shane Morris was "perfect" in his limited playing time. True, he was 0 for 2 passing, but both throws were dropped by their targets. I wanted to break down each passing play and see if his throws were as good as advertised.
The situation: 2nd and 7, ball on the Miami of Ohio 34
The play: Morris rolls out to his left...
...and throws to Keith Heitzman, who is fifteen yards downfield and five yards from the nearest defender:
The ball arrives precisely at the area directly in front of Heitzman's chest where one generally prefers to catch things.
Unfortunately, he fails to do so, and the ball passes through his arms, and bounces off this thigh.
CONCLUSION: Excellent throw to wide open receiver, pure drop.
The Situation: 1st and 10, ball on Miami of Ohio 23
The Play: Morris rolls out to his left again:
I'm pointing out these rollouts because I've seen some people claim that Shane Morris demonstrated a better pocket presence than Devin Gardner. Not so: two passes, two rollouts. Pocket presence: UNDEF.
Morris fires deep to Jehu Chesson in the end zone, who has a couple steps on the defender. Note the separation in this frame.
However, the throw is a bit behind, and Chesson has to put on the breaks. The defender closes the gap, and as the ball arrives, he has one arm on Chesson's back, and brings the other down, brushing off his face mask and settling in between his chest and his arms.
As he falls to the turf, Chesson actually does have the ball secured between his bicep and his forearm, but the impact with the ground jars it free to fall incomplete.
CONCLUSION: This throw was not terrible, but neither was it perfect. It was a bit behind the receiver, which gave the defender the time to close the gap and make a play, which he did well. A more accurate throw would have given the defender no chance.
On the day, Shane Morris had one excellent throw to a wide open receiver who dropped the ball, and one slightly off target throw which forced the receiver to try and bring it in with a defender in his face. It would be foolish to try to draw any sweeping conclusions from two pass attempts, but at a minimum claims of "perfection" should be put to rest.
Short & sweet today because I'm doing it from my phone thanks to being in the middle of moving! An upper level disturbance will move out of the Great Lakes Saturday, bringing some morning showers & clouds before more later-day sun as high pressure moves in. Chilly all day with temps staying a good ten degrees below normal, & a bit breezy. Really Mother Nature, seriously? It's September!
If you're up real early you may see some rain! (icymi -Because of the rain there are restrictions on tailgating at the golf course) Temps will hover right around 50 degrees early on around sunrise. Overcast skies with a couple sprinkles will be what we wake up to, with winds out of the north at about 8mph. Heading into mid-morning and early afternoon, we see a little decrease in the cloud cover. That'll help us get into the mid 50s for lunch, but winds will pick up too. Tie down the tent! Winds will be out of the NNW at steady 17mph, and gusts possible to 30mph (branches will sway, empty garbage cans may tip over).
Still hanging on to some clouds by the time we reach kick-off, and sitting at 61 degrees. Winds will start to drop, and although they will remain out of the NNW we'll mainly get rid of the gusts and steady winds are around 13mph.
Temps stay steady through the end of the first half, and seeing some sun between those clouds. Winds are down to 10mph, out of the NW. The temperature will drop during the second half so you may want to have the extra layer handy!
Still keeping some clouds in the sky to end the game, with a light NNW wind. We'll drop to 55 degrees, and enjoy it- as the cloud cover goes down, the temperature will fall quickly. We'll be in the mid 40s for the late night, and if you'll be out for last call, expect to walk out the door and be hit with 42 degrees! Go Blue!!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for ABC in Flint, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
I didn't anticipate doing a wallpaper this week, but after Saturday's abismal outing I was inspired. This wallpaper is a take on The Dark Knight Rises movie poster. Michigan doesn't exactly need to crawl out of a giant hole in the ground, but they definately need to RISE up to be succesful this season. The photo of Devin Funchess is from Bryan Fuller's MGoBlog album on Flickr. Enjoy! Beat Miama (not that Miami)!
P.S. I didn't realize how much this looks like an Adidias ad.
[Ed-Seth: This is coming a bit late; he had it posted a week ago but I had a severe hangover on Sunday.]
Michigan kicked off the 2014 soccer season to mixed results last weekend. Michigan opened up their season on Friday, August 29th with a disappointing 1-0 loss at home to FIU but bounced back on Sunday afternoon with a 3-0 win over SMU at the Michigan Soccer Complex.
|Michigan Soccer 2014 Schedule|
|Aug 29||Home||FIU (L, 0-1)|
|Aug 31||Home||SMU (W, 3-0)|
|Sep 6||@||Columbia (L, 3-0)|
|Sep 12||Home||Maryland (5pm)|
|Sep 16||Home||Bowling Green|
|Sep 28||Home||Penn State|
|Oct 1||Home||Western Michigan|
|Oct 7||Home||Notre Dame|
|Nov 2||@||Michigan State|
|Nov 5||Home||Ohio State|
|Big Ten Tourney||Nov 8, 9, 14, 16|
|NCAA Tourney||Nov 20, 23, 29, Dec 5|
|College Cup||Dec 12, 14|
FIU 1 – Michigan 0
A 67th minute goal from FIU’s Donald Tomlinson proved to be the difference on Friday afternoon as Michigan’s season opened with a loss.
Despite controlling possession and pressure toward the end of the match, Michigan was unable to find the equalizer. FIU outshot Michigan 9-8 for the match and the home team only managed one shot on target, an effort by Rylee Woods.
Highly touted freshmen Ahinga Selemani and Billy Stevens both made their college debuts and transfer William Mellors-Blair went 90 minutes in the loss. Redshirt Senior Adam Grinwis started in goal for the Wolverines and made three saves.
Michigan 3 – SMU 0
Michigan bounced back Sunday afternoon to shutout the SMU Mustangs and notch their first win of the season. Goals from Marcos Ugarte and Colin McAtee in the first half gave Michigan a 2-0 lead going into halftime. McAtee added his second goal in the 76th minute when he cut inside from the right flank and sent a low shot past SMU keeper Michael Nelson from 23 yards out. McAtee, a speedy winger, doubled his 2013 output with the brace on Sunday afternoon.
Evan Louro made his first start in his Michigan career and came up with three saves to keep a clean sheet. Louro looked confident in goal coming off his line to punch several corner and free kicks and looked fearless in challenging two breakaway chances by SMU. Louro collided with an SMU player after saving one of those breakaway chances and left him wincing in pain and clutching his arm.
The middle portion of the contest took an ugly turn in the middle of the match, which saw a total of seven yellow cards and a red card for SMU defender Jacob Speed. Selemani got behind him and would have been all alone with only the goalkeeper to beat and Speed simply dragged him down for a clear yellow card foul. It was Speed’s second yellow and SMU finished the match a man down.
Urgarte looked confident and consistent playing in midfield and was probably the best player on the field for most of the match. His distribution to McAtee, Selemani and Mellors-Blair was solid going forward and paired well with James Murphy when needed to track back and defend. McCarthy also played well in supporting the back four and was a nuisance for SMU’s midfield all match.
The defense looked solid in the back and communicated well with one another. Stevens, Lars Eckenrode, Andre Morris, Ben Manko and Nick Lewin made up the back line as Chaka Daley shuffled substitutions to cover for Ben Manko’s yellow card. Manko, Lewin and Morris can all move between positions, which will be more important as the season progresses and Daley needs flexibility with that young back line.
On the difference between Friday and Sunday.
“I think our ball pressure was a lot better than it was on Friday. I think we were disjointed and all over the field on Friday and didn’t pass when we need to. They kind of cut through us way too easily in the first game and the pressure wasn’t good and we were facing our own goal way too much as opposed to having the game in front of us.”
On True Freshman Goalkeeper Evan Louro:
“He’s good…as a young player; he’s extremely confident and brings a lot of experience. He’s not really like a true freshman; he’s more like a junior, which is great for the guys in the group because he brings a confidence about him, a maturity and can stretch the game. The two keepers we have we’re excited about and how they’ll push each other.”
On the starting starting goalie spot:
We’re continuing to evaluate the goalkeeping position. They’re both excellent goalkeepers so I think it may be subjective to the game, we might make a decision on who’s number one, we haven’t made that decision yet.
“I think he (Marcos) was disappointed with his performance last year but it was his fault. He was injured in an 8 week season, it’s difficult to get going. We’re excited about what he can offer.
On the painful save:
"It hurt a lot, I was trying not to show it and look tough, but it hurt (ED: Louro showed me the gnarly bright red bruise/welt/get that thing looked at on his arm at that point)."
On nerves ahead of his first college start:
"I don’t really get nervous, maybe before the game but not during the game. I’ve played a lot of games; I can just jump in and be comfortable."
On getting First save of the match
“It’s huge. The first shot and you get it and you’re good and get the confidence rolling…it’s a huge deal obviously. “
Michigan hosts No. 12 Maryland tomorrow at 5 p.m. in its Big Ten kickoff.
Follow @umichsoccer for live updates
Daley hopes senior midfielder TJ VanSlooten will be healthy this week. He missed the first two matches with a calf injury.
Michigan Assistant Coach Tommy McMenemy was an All-American at Columbia in 2003 and was on the coaching staff prior to joining Michigan. Columbia was 8-6-1 last season.
A couple of days ago I compiled Hoke's win-loss record, looking specifically at road v. home v. neutral site and the differences between the Vegas line and the actual win differential. I was curious, though -- and maybe this was prompted by a comment I saw somewhere -- how other successful coaches at our rivals had fared recently. That is, was Hoke's downward trend normal? Abnormal? Is there, in fact, a normal?
Here are the results (click to embiggen):
- Hoke is most like Meyer: a string of victories at the start with a slow (inevitable) decline, although Meyer was able to string together an amazing 24-0 start at Ohio State.
- Kelly and Dantonio are more similar: a difficult first year followed by a fairly consistent improvement in overall record.
- Rodriguez is a real outlier: he never really got about .500, so never showed the overall improvement that Kelly and Dantonio did.
Hoke's downward slide looks ominous. What if we look on the brighter side, however, and project a 9-3 season, with losses to Michigan State and Ohio State but victories against the rest of the schedule? We get something like this (I'm not projecting the other coaches' records here):
That looks significantly better: essentially Hoke would be neck-and-neck with Kelly at the end of his year four, with a better overall record than Danotio's first four years. That's not bad.
Even if we project an 8-4 season this year -- say we lose to Penn State under the lights -- the overall record ain't too shabby:
The question, then, may be: is Hoke better than a .700 career coach? The difference between .700 and .750 is pretty palpable. Lloyd's career record was .753, Moeller's was .758, Bo's was .796 (at Michigan only for the latter two coaches). The scene of college football is significantly different now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s, but it's probably fair to say that Michigan fans and alumni reasonably expect to win 3 out of every 4 games, even if we were never happy with Lloyd or Moeller's tendency to drop the occasional game to undermatched opponents (a loss at home to an unranked Illinois in 1993, my first year at Michigan, still stings a bit).
There's no doubt that the end of last year and this year is a bit of a trough for Michigan football: we're rebuliding, not reloading, despite the addition of Peppers. At least that has to be the positive take, anyway; the negative take would be that in the coming years the slide continues, and Hoke's line on the graph above will cross Dantonio's in 2015.
My overall take is more positive than I thought it would be when I started: if Hoke can hold serve this year with a 9-3 record and continue to bring in top talent, then there is a good case to be made that things will rebound. If those things happen, then on paper Hoke and Kelly look awfully similar, and I think that we probably think that whatever Kelly's many faults, he's got Notre Dame football on the right track in terms of the on-the-field performance.
Yet as I type those sentences about Michigan they seem awfully optimistic... far more optimistic than I currently feel.
EDIT: Per the suggestion by LandonC in the comments below, here is Hoke's ten
year game rolling win percentage vs. Kelly's, Dantonio's, and RR's:
I think that best practice in educational theory may offer some insight as to why we suck on the road.This will not be an exhaustive discussion on why we suck on the road, to be sure, but I hope to offer some insight.
I will preface the conversation with two points:
- Hoke talks about mental toughness and physical toughness a lot. My intention here is to call into question what our team's "mental toughness" looks like. Many have already done it; I attempt to offer some level of explanation based on how much I'm aware of Hoke's teaching/coaching styles and philosophies.
- Leadership, under Hoke, seems to be defined using an "active constructive," "positive psychology" method of team- and relationship-building. Hoke's players will run through a wall for him; it seems that they are not, however, able to play effectively in hostile environments (specifically the offense). I intend to draw comparisons between coaching styles/philosophies under Bo and under Hoke.
And a couple definitions, in case you are unfamiliar:
Positive Psychology: a movement of psychology, largely led by psych researchers at U-M and UPenn, which attempts to be constructive in developing students' awareness of their abilities and their willingness to persevere
Active Constructive response: A way of responding to a student that suggests either implicitly or explicitly that they can do something that they are trying to do
Active Destructive response: A way of responding to a student that suggests either implicitly or explicitly that they cannot do something that they are trying to do
My conclusion is drawn from having built an awareness of what practice looks like under Hoke. I have attended one or two practices, and I have read press conferences from players + coaches, and I have seen the released practice videos by MGoVideo. I have observed the following:
- The coaches have historically been very high energy, doing a lot of encouragement and pushing via yelling. Yelling is not, in itself, active destructive.
- The coaches have always seemed highly positive toward the players for doing a good job, and their responses to players who screw up has always seemed encouraging, constructive, etc. I recall one specific example where Hoke said to a player, "You came up like a big pincher bug. You don't wanna do that. Come on. You're better than that."
- Devin Gardner has spoken of fans that are difficult to tolerate when on the road, especially when he is on the sideline.
- The primary tactic for coaching to hostile environments has, it seems, been limited making the environment noisy and creating other neutral environmental factors.
These different points suggest two things:
- That positive psychology is the primary tactic used in coaching under Hoke.
- That our quarterback (a lynchpin to our offense, which is cited specifically to suck on the road) has made special note of the hostility of opposing fans.
Positive psych encourages relationship building between coaches and players, and ultimately is considered a more effective educational strategy. This makes sense considering the commitment that Hoke's players have to him, and the level of recruitment Hoke has been able to achieve.
Based off of reading some of Bo's work, my understanding is that the way that he coached was different. Bo tells stories of using active destructive responses routinely. Rather famously, he routinely called Jim Brandstatter "the worst tackle in intercollegiate football." Woody Hayes is described as coaching in a similar (albeit more physically abusive) way. Active destructive is in many ways the opposite of active constructive: It is designed, essentially, to make you feel that you can never accomplish what you are trying to accomplish. This differs sharply from the techniques that it seems Hoke and co. are using to teach, and I wonder if, specifically, it affects road performance. Bo, in contrast to Hoke, went 14-5 on the road in his first four years as coach. Compare this to Hoke's existing 7-13.
My hypothesis is this: Because our coaches spend their energy primarily building a psychologically positive environment, they have lost a valuable aspect of the otherwise ugly response form known as active destructive: put differently, they have lost the "mental toughness" built by working and growing through hostility. Away stadiums are entirely hostile environments; if the hostility is not noticeable from the crowd because of distance from the sideline, it will be noticeable from the opposing team. If a practice environment fails to produce hostility, it seems unlikely that its players will be able to keep their heads when they face real hostility.
Just to be clear: I fully embrace positive psych and believe strongly in its efficacy, educational and otherwise. But I suggest that simulating hostility--not just simulating a hostile environment--may be useful to develop what Hoke calls "mental toughness." Furthermore, I do not suggest that the verbally and physically aggressive tactics of Bo and Woody must necessarily remain relevant today in order to produce great football teams.
I doubt data exists on how many teams have incorporated positive psychology into their practices, and I doubt data exists on how many teams have incorporated active destructive responses into their practices. Therefore, my thoughts will remain a hypothesis. But I think it is worth considering whether one of the reasons we fail to compete on the road is because our coaches have failed to produce hostility in practice, thereby failing to prepare our players to encounter that hostility.
Obviously, there are many limitations on my hypothesis and the "data" (anecdotal information, really) supporting. This is likely not the only reason for our failures on the road, but may help to explain a part of why we fail when put in these situations. In fact, active destructive responses do not need to be the default as they were in Bo's practices. Simply, it is possible to create a hostile environment where coaches are emulating active destructive comments to players in order to adjust them to the reality of hostility.
Furthermore, I accept and acknowledge that this is not a comprehensive look at coaching tactics given that I am missing a lot of information. Much further investigation into the tactics used to build "mental toughness." Bo also pronounced that one should never yell at a player in a game, which seems to reflect more of a positive psychology.
I would be interested to see what research might yield about the numbers of our OL and QB would look like on the road.
An alternative (or supplementary) hypothesis might note that our record on the road against ranked teams features a greater disparity than against unranked teams. "Mental toughness" may go out the window when players feel unprepared or discouraged by being overpowered, overrun, and outperformed, which may be more resultant of poor development.
It is worth noting that Bo had many players quit when he became coach. This could be because of the seemingly "inhumane" treatment of the active destructive response. In addition, it is worth noting that Bo often failed in high profile away games (namely bowl games), and that Bo and Hoke are limited samples. There are also numerous confounding variables, such as scheme, development of talent, et al.
One thing remains certain: Many changes must happen if we hope to compete, and especially if we hope to compete on the road.
tl;dr I hypothesize that one reason for our road gaffs may be the apparent absence of simulated hostility in practice. I find this argument compelling, but acknowledge that defaulting to active destructive responses as in the days of yore are not necessary to make a good football team.