this may be of some local interest
Jeff Miller, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety, was asked by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., if the link between football and neurodegenerative diseases like CTE has been established.
"The answer to that question is certainly yes," Miller said.
He said he based his assessment on the work of Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuropathologist who has diagnosed CTE in the brains of 176 people, including those of 90 of 94 former NFL players.
"I unequivocally think there's a link between playing football and CTE," McKee said. "We've seen it in 90 out of 94 NFL players whose brains we've examined, we've found it in 45 out of 55 college players and six out of 26 high school players.
Interesting article, "NFL acknowledges, for first time, link between football, brain disease" by Steve Fainaru, ESPN Senior Writer.
As a former football coach, and one who will always love the game, this topic is very important to me. I've always believed that the higher the level of player, the more violent he is (generally speaking). I've coached players who have gone on to the FBS level and the thing they notice more than "the players are so much faster and stronger" is the level of violence players play with. I've come to believe that at the college and pro levels, players are using the helmet as a weapon--that the whole "nobody's trying to hurt anybody out there" mantra is flat out untrue.
I personally believe that drastic changes in equipment and rules are needed or football will either be outlawed or become a gladiator sport left to those with few alternatives, a la boxing. I have some ideas but am not ready to come forth with them because I haven't fleshed them out much, especially when it comes to the helmet.
Maybe this isn't diary-worthy. It most likely isn't. I did this mostly for me rather than for mgoblog readers. I did it so it would be on record and in my diary archive.
Who: Tulsa Golden Hurricane: 20-11 (12-6)
When: Wednesday at 9:10 PM on TruTV
Where: Dayton, OH
RPI Ranking: 61
KenPom Ranking: 58
Neutral Record: 2-3
Road Record: 6-5
Tulsa is coached by former Miami (YTM) and Missouri coach Frank Haith. Haith is in his second year at Tulsa and took the Golden Hurricane to the second round of the NIT. They last made the tournament 2 years ago as 13 seed, losing their first game to UCLA. Haith has made the tourney twice as a coach, which occured in his first two years as Missouri's head coach. Both years Missouri lost in the first round, including as a 2 seed in 2012.
Year in Review
This was Tulsa's second year in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), previously being in the Conference USA. They went 20-11 overall, finishing 5th in the AAC with a 12-6 conference record. Tulsa averages 74 PPG and allows 69.7, both very middling marks nationally.
Tulsa went 8-4 in the non-conference. They had a bad loss to Oral Roberts, who finished 14-17 this year and 7th in the Summit, and beyond that lost to tourney teams Oregon State and Arkansas-Little Rock as well as borderline tourney team South Carolina. Their key non-conference wins were over tourney teams Wichita State and Iona.
In conference, Tulsa split the season series with tourney teams UConn, Cincinnati and Temple, as well as SMU who was ineligible for post-season play. They also lost to Houston and twice to Memphis, including by 22 points in the first round of the AAC tourney.
Tulsa's RPI splits:
vs. RPI Top 25: 1-1 (Both vs SMU)
vs. RPI Top 50: 3-5 (Wins vs UConn, Cinci, @SMU)
vs. RPI Top 100: 8-8
vs. RPI Top 150: 8-11 (Loses to Oral Roberts and Memphis x2 between RPI 100 and 150)
vs. RPI Sub 150: 12-0
Against tournament teams:
Wins: 6 (Wichita State, Iona, UConn, Cinci, Temple, SMU)
Losses: 6 (Oregon State, Arkansas-Lttle Rock, UConn, Cinci, Temple, SMU)
Tulsa has 9 players that average at least 10 MPG (Michigan has 8, with Wagner, Chatman and Wilson all missing this mark) and play generally 10 players a game.
Tulsa's starting 5:
James Woodard: 6'3" SR G, Tulsa's leading scorer at 15.6 PPG, second leading rebounder at 5.2 RPG and second leading assister at 2.4 APG. Woodard has a 42/36/78 FG/3P/FT shooting split.
Shaquille Harrison: 6'4" SR G, Tulsa's second leading scorer (14.8 PPG), leading rebounder (5.5 RPG), leading assist man (4.1 APG), second on team in steals (1.9 SPG), has 46/18/64 shooting split.
Pat Birt: 6'5" JR G, Tulsa's third leading scorer (12.4 PPG), 3.4 RPG and .8 APG, 38/37/74 shooting split.
Brandon Swannegan: 6'9" SR F, 6.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, leading shot blocker at .9 BPG, 58/0/61 shooting split
*Rashad Smith: 6'7" SR F/G, 7.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, .7 SPG, .6 BPG, 53/25/56 shooting split
*Smith started Tulsa's tourney game against Memphis but not the previous 4 games, and missed 3 of them. Info on Tulsa online is light, but it seems like Smith was hurt and just got back healthy for the conference tourney. Starting in his place:
Marquel Curtis: 6'3" SR G, 6.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 APG, .8 SPG, 43/29/67 shooting split (Curtis will probably come off the bench but averages the 4th most minutes on the team, ahead of Swannegan and Smith)
The remaining contributors:
D'Andre Wright: 6'9" SR F, 5.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 48/0/70 shooting split
Rashad Ray: 5'10" SR G, 4.7 PPG, 1.9 APG, leads team in steals at 1 SPG, 36/32/60 shooting split
Sterling Taplin: 6'1" FR G, 2.7 PPG, 41/27/79 shooting split
Tulsa seems to be a very guard oriented team like Michigan, starting 4 guards and 8 of their 10 contributors are guards. They are actually smaller than Michigan, with two 6'9" F's as their tallest regulars and all their guards being 6'5" or smaller.
Unlike Michigan they can't shoot at all. They have only three players shooting above 30% from 3 and no one higher than 37%, compared to 7 for Michigan with 4 above 37%.
Tulsa also seems to be a very senior heavy team, so they will definitely have a lot of experience on the court. Overall I think this matchup bodes well for Michigan, and we should definitely be the favorite to win this game, especially once you consider how bad of a coach Frank Haith really is.
**Since Adam and I are doing a rather interesting behind-the-scenes hockey stats project, my access to Michigan Hockey has increased expotentially. There is still a lot of working out how everything will come together and what it will reveal but we're both pretty excited. Since we've began to look at some that stuff, I figured it might not be a bad idea to reflect some overall ideas on a per game basis for the Michigan Hockey team. This may develop, stay remotely similar, or disappear completely. Hopefully, more of the former. We'll start with four areas and go from there.**
If you've followed Michigan Hockey this season, there's really not a lot left to describe about this offense. They generated 57 shots on target, last night, rather evenly throughout the game (18, 22,and 17). Many of these looks came from dangerous areas: around the crease, in the slot, and inner halves of the faceoff circles. Kyle Connor had 2 more goals; Boo Nieves also had 2 on Senior Night; Motte, Werenski, and Selman each tallied a couple of assists, as well. As will be emphasized throughout, Penn State only dressed 16 skaters. There's no question that this played into Michigan's ability to control play all night long.
As seen by the previous section, Penn State basically had 3 lines and 3 pairings. Michigan's defense, for the most part, was largely irrelevant. Scanning the shot charts, there were very few shots even ATTEMPTED at Michigan's net: 60 (25 coming in the 3rd, once the game was out of hand). Michigan for comparison had 90, with almost 30 per period. Just glancing at where these attempts came from, maybe only 10 came from threatening areas in the first couple periods. Penn State is 6th nationally in goals (3.69/game) and averages a shade over 42 shots target/game. So, to be honest, I think the result was probably a little more due to Penn State's personnel limitations than Michigan's locking them down. M did have their normal stretch of sloppy defensive play that forced some great saves from Racine (and then Nagelvoort).
Again, Penn State threatened very little for the 'in doubt' first 30 or so minutes. The defense kept most of the threats to the perimeter, aside from a few lapses. Racine played well in his final game at Yost. The goal came on a deflection from Cecconi as he was tracking a PSU attacker and crossed Racine's vision. Tough luck for Racine. He was great in every other opportunity he was presented with...though there were not a lot of them. Because of the offensive barrage, Racine was afforded the chance to be ceremoniously taken off for last 12 minutes. FWIW, Nagelvoort seemed to play well, as Michigan's defense sagged off towards the end of the game. Nagelvoort made 9 saves in 12 minutes versus Racine's 21 in 48 minutes.
Michigan was phenomenal last night. 3/6 on the power play and 3/3 in their first three attempts. Once it was 5-1, M had a 5 min PP (due to a red card to Penn State's Ricky DeRosa) and then a 5-on-3 for 2 minutes. They did not score, but at that point, the game was all but decided. The puck movement from the top line (Werenski, Kile, Motte, Compher, Connor) is just ridiculous. Its the best I've seen in a long time at Yost. Maybe the best I've seen? I know Hensick, Porter, Tambellini, etc had some great ones, as well. But that was a while ago. Michigan's PP leads the nation at a 29.5% clip. Last night, clearly no exception. On the flip side, Michigan only took 1 penalty and allowed just 1 shot on that penalty kill...and it came from the neutral zone. Again, Penn State only had three forwards lines.
BONUS: Odd Man Rushes
Still in the infancy of deciding how to track these and what to do with them but from what I counted last night: 4 OMRs given up for Michigan.
- The first 2 were soft 3v2s that didn't even result in a quality look.
- The third was Cecconi with an awful centering pass from the blue line that was picked off and Scheid came in on a rush before Martin caught him at the top of the circles. Racine calmly blocked the shot into the corner.
- The fourth was a neutral zone giveaway that left Downing back in a 2v1 but a nice back-check from Warren nullified the opportunity.
Michigan should be in the NCAA tournament. For proof, let’s compare their resume to some other bubble teams. Warning: this is a REALLY long post.
First things first: who are those bubble teams? Well, among power 5 conferences, you have Vanderbilt, Syracuse, and South Carolina; among mid-majors, you have San Diego State, St. Mary’s, Monmouth, Temple, and Wichita State. Along with Michigan, that’s nine teams, with (currently) five spots available, four if UConn loses to Memphis. So if we can show that Michigan is more deserving than at least five of these teams, they should be in.
If you don’t want to read it all, here is a summary:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We are all familiar with Michigan’s resume at this point, but a quick recap:
· 4-11 against NCAA tournament locks, with the four wins against teams expected to be seeded in the 3-6 range in the NCAA tournament, and the loss to Connecticut being the only one of that group to a team expected to be seeded 8 or below.
· 0-1 against NIT-level competition, a loss at Ohio State
· 8-0 against teams 101-200
· 9-0 against teams 201+
We’ll start with Wichita State, a team that most bracketologists have in the field. The Shockers (giggle) have a 23-8 record in a solid mid-major conference, with an RPI of 49. While they have a very strong nonconference win at home against Utah (a probable 3-seed in the NCAA tournament), they lost their other three efforts against the RPI top 50. In addition, they are only 3-4 against teams 51-100, and two of those three wins are against #93 Evansville. To put it another way, Wichita State is 2-7 against the top 75 (NCAA/NIT teams), a good comparison point for Michigan, since all of our top 100 teams are in that range. Finally, Wichita State has a “bad” loss, at #114 Illinois St. To sum up:
· Both teams have approximately the same winning percentage against both the RPI top 50 and against NCAA/NIT competition. In both instances, Michigan’s opponents were, on average, of a slightly higher caliber, and they had a slightly better winning percentage.
· Michigan has a better “best” win, as Indiana and Utah are roughly equivalent, but Michigan’s win was at a neutral (road, really) site.
· Wichita State has a bad loss that Michigan doesn’t.
· Wichita State was the regular season champ in their conference (a conference which would have only had one bid had the Shockers won their tournament).
Verdict: Without the loss to Illinois State, these two profiles are pretty even. That loss should place them below Michigan, but I bet the committee has the Shockers higher (though not as high as Lunardi does). So we'll give Wichita State the nod.
Vanderbilt's resume is pretty similar to Wichita State's, but a little worse. The Commodores are 2-7 against RPI top 50 teams, versus Michigan’s 4-11. Granted, all of their games are against the top 27, so their competition was (very slightly) more difficult. Vanderbilt racked up five wins against three losses against NIT-level teams (and Stony Brook). They also have three bad losses. They played five non-conference games against the RPI top 50, but lost them all. Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI, for what it’s worth, which isn’t much.
· Michigan has a better record overall, and a better record against top teams.
· Michigan has no bad losses, while Vanderbilt has three.
· The only thing Vanderbilt has going for it is a better record against NIT teams, which will bode well for them in the NIT.
Verdict: Michigan should be ahead of Vanderbilt. 19-13 in the SEC, with no big nonconference wins and three bad losses, doesn’t deserve a bid.
Let’s stay with the SEC and discuss South Carolina. The Cocks (more giggling) have a weird resume for a power 5 team. They only have 2 games against NCAA locks: they were crushed at home by Kentucky and eked out a road win at Texas A&M. They were undefeated in their nonconference schedule, but the best teams in that schedule were bubble team Tulsa and NIT-bound Hofstra. The other 10 were composed of 4 against the RPI 101-200 and 6 against the RPI 201+. The Gamecocks also have two losses in the RPI 101-200 and one to #221 Missouri, who went 3-15 in the SEC (for comparison, think Minnesota). Summary:
· Michigan has a better RPI.
· South Carolina has a better record, but played a ridiculously weak nonconference schedule.
· South Carolina has the better “best” win, and is 5-4 against NIT teams (Florida, Hofstra, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Alabama)
· South Carolina has three bad losses, one of which is awful.
Verdict: South Carolina’s schedule is basically what you get if you take Vanderbilt’s schedule, take out all the losses to top 50 teams, and replace them with wins over tomato cans. I don’t think the Gamecocks deserve to be in the tournament based on their weak nonconference schedule. Had they beaten Missouri but lost to Texas A&M, they wouldn’t even be discussed. I don’t think that a single game should take them from middling NIT team into the tournament, and Michigan has better proven the ability to compete with good teams and has no bad losses. South Carolina is probably ahead of Vanderbilt based on head-to-head, but Michigan should be ahead of both.
Next: Monmouth. The Hawks got a lot of hype early this year from some high-profile wins over UCLA, Georgetown, USC, and Notre Dame. Unfortunately for Monmouth (and its entertaining bench), UCLA and Georgetown proved to be Penn State-level competition. This leaves their RPI just above Michigan’s, at #53. The Hawks are 2-2 against the RPI top 50, with all games against teams expected to be seeded around the 7-8 spot. They are 1-2 against Iona, the only team they played in the RPI 51-100. Critically, however, they have three losses in the RPI 201+. Those aren’t “bad” losses, they are “horrible” losses. By comparison, the teams on Michigan’s schedule closest to those three losses were Houston Baptist (an 82-57 home win) and Charlotte (a 102-47 win in the Bahamas). Summary:
· Monmouth has a better winning percentage than Michigan against the best teams on the Hawks’ schedule.
· Michigan is 4-7 against teams better than anyone Monmouth played.
· Monmouth’s three horrible losses should negate their best wins.
· Low- to mid-major teams with RPI’s above 50 never get into the tournament. By comparison, Akron has an RPI of 36, and they’re not getting in either.
Verdict: I understand the Bilas types saying that Monmouth did what the committee would ask by scheduling good nonconference teams away from home. However, the committee also asks teams not to lose to Army and Canisius. Maybe Lunardi is right, and the committee will let them in, but I don’t think so. Michigan should be ahead of Monmouth.
While we’re talking about mid majors with few big wins, let’s talk about St. Mary’s. The Gaels boast a gaudy 26-5 record, but against a schedule that includes 18 RPI sub-200 teams, five of which were on their nonconference schedule (by comparison, Michigan’s oft-maligned nonconference schedule included six such teams). The five losses include their only game against a top tournament team (California), going 2-1 against Gonzaga (who would have been a bubble team without the autobid), a split with NIT- or Vegas 16-bound BYU, and two bad losses, both to Pepperdine. The problem that St. Mary’s has is that their best nonconference results are wins over UC Irvine, Stanford, and Grand Canyon.
Verdict: Theirs is a hard resume to figure, and I like their resume better than Monmouth’s due to its lack of horrible losses. Also, Monmouth played just as many 200+ teams as St. Mary's, but St. Mary's at least beat them all. I’m going to put them just ahead of Michigan, and I think the First Four is a good place for a team like St. Mary’s that really hasn’t had a good enough chance to prove their worth.
Up next: Temple. The Owls are the regular-season champ of the American conference, a multi-bid league. They should be in, right? Well, they also went 6-6 in their non-conference schedule and got beat pretty bad by a Connecticut team that had just played a 4 OT game the day before. Temple played six NCAA tournament teams in their non-conference schedule – and lost all six games. Their next best nonconference win was against Fairleigh Dickinson, a sub-200 RPI team. While they finished with a 21-11 record (Michigan is 21-12), 14 of those games are against the RPI 201+, including six nonconference games. They also split with NIT teams Tulsa and Houston, and RPI #136 Memphis. Finally, they have a “horrible” loss at #217 East Carolina. Summary:
· Temple has a better record against NCAA teams, but four of their 5 wins were against bubble-ish teams Cincinnati and UConn. Against teams seeded 1-8 (and SMU), they are 1-6. Michigan is 4-10 against the same group, for double the winning percentage.
· Temple beat SMU and was 2-1 against UConn, while Michigan lost to both.
· Temple has a bad loss to Memphis and a horrible loss to East Carolina, while Michigan has none.
Verdict: This is close, but I give a slight edge to Temple. This is a tough call, because Michigan has an excellent win over Texas and the near-road win against Indiana is at least as good as Temple’s home win over an SMU team that had recently lost its best player to a transfer. Also, the teams have almost the exact same record, but Michigan’s schedule is significantly harder. However, Temple has a better record against top 50 and top 100 teams, and against tournament teams, and the bad losses might not negate that.
Speaking of conference champs that lost in their tournament, Steve Fisher’s San Diego State appeared on the bubble with a loss to Fresno State. The Aztecs are 1-4 against the top 50, with a neutral site win vs. Cal, and losses to Kansas, West Virginia, and Utah (all top teams) to go with a home loss against Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt champ, RPI 46, seeded around 12th if they win their tournament). They went 1-2 against Fresno State (RPI 66), won at #72 Long Beach State, and lost to #92 Grand Canyon at home. San Diego State also has a bad loss at home against Boise State, and a truly horrible loss against RPI 302 San Diego. That’s really bad, and easily the worst single loss by any bubble team. For comparison to teams on Michigan’s schedule, San Diego falls somewhere between Northern Kentucky and Bryant, and is worse than Rutgers.
· Michigan has a better record against the RPI top 50, and a better “best” win (Indiana > Cal).
· San Diego State is 2-3 against the RPI 51-100 (which is pretty weak for a bubble team). That puts their record against the top 100 at 3-7, and, unlike Michigan, half those games are against NIT-level competition.
· Their two bad losses include a truly horrible loss, while Michigan has no bad losses.
Verdict: The Aztecs should not be in the field. Like South Carolina, they have just one win over a top 50 team, but they had 5 tries to do it, one of which was a home game against Arkansas-Little Rock in which they scored only 43 points. Their record against the RPI 51-100 suggests that they would struggle in the NIT, and they have a horrible loss that negates their one good win. They shouldn’t be in, and, personally, I don’t think they should be close.
Lastly, Syracuse. This is a team that most bracketologists are leaving out, but I am not so sure. They are 5-9 against likely tournament teams (and Louisville), though five of those games are against near-bubble teams (including losing three to Pitt). They are 3-1 against NIT-type competition, and have two bad losses (one of which was at home) and a horrible loss by double digits at #245 St. John’s (The Red Storm’s next best win was over #184 Wagner). Summary:
· Their record against NCAA-level teams is roughly equal to Michigan’s. They have more wins, but had the benefit of playing more bubble teams than Michigan did.
· 3-1 against the NIT is better than what Michigan mustered, though Michigan only had one road game in that group.
· The two bad losses and the one awful loss more than negate that advantage.
Verdict: Slight edge to Michigan, but it’s close.
Overall, this bubble is a mess, and there will be people putting forth lots of combinations of these nine teams to fill the final four or five spots in the tournament. As for me, here’s how I see it:
Last bye (for now): Wichita State.
Next three spots: St. Mary’s, Temple, Michigan
Bubble spot: Syracuse
First four out (for now): South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Monmouth, San Diego State
We'll know how wrong I am by 7 pm.
March 1 – Wednesday
Unverified Voracity: Nothing to Hear Here. Sport Illustrated poll says Graham Brown is the dirtiest player in the Big Ten. Paul Davis is the most overrated. I think he still qualifies ten years later.
MI QBs Justin Siller and Steven Threet and California CB Michael Williams added to the Recruiting Board.
March 2 – Thursday
An article about APR numbers and how the NCAA isn’t going after those who fall under 925. This was before the “yikes our APR is in terrible condition” era.
March 3 – Friday
Brian gives an analysis of his football season preview of defense and special teams from the previous August. A few highlights:
Jamison is the official Ron English canary in a coalmine: if he starts over steady, lumbering Biggs and Van Alstyne, the defense is shedding the bellbottoms and buying itself an iPod.
The good bit: David Harris was a revelation at middle linebacker. He was one of the few players to receive less credit than he deserved:
Harris pushing him [McClintock] to the bench means that the coaching staff is willing to give a player who has little experience the nod over a senior who would normally have an unholy death grip on the position, which is not a vote of confidence in McClintock. The fact that neither player has asserted himself has to be a concern, especially since Harris is dinged up again. Average production from this spot would be great.
The instant Harris shook off that minor injury, he stapled McClintock to the bench and started thumping people far and wide. Though he faded somewhat late, Harris was a solid tackler who had surprising range for such a big dude. He was consistent and intelligent. He made plays in zone coverage. He was the best player on the defense not named "Branch" or "Woodley." Not bad for an in-state sleeper recruit.
March 6 – Monday
Unverified Voracity: Mostly APR Bitching is true to its name, following the arguments of a couple more articles about APR numbers and graduation rates.
A post about Reader Interaction Day. I can’t quite figure out what this was, but it mostly centered on the decision to bring DeBord back as OC. It’s interesting to see different perspectives about his first tenure.
In sum: On the surface, DeBord is a ridiculous choice for offensive coordinator. He was unimpressive during his first three years; he failed at CMU; he is not particularly exciting. But there are extenuating circumstances that provide hope that the second time will be better. Loeffler is more heavily involved with the game planning ever year. Lloyd Carr is adapting to college football's offensive renaissance -- with painful slowness at times, granted. The defense is not a rock to fall back upon. DeBord's made some noises in interviews the echo these sentiments, but we won't have a clear idea how meaningful those noises are until the Notre Dame game.
March 7 – Tuesday
Brian considers the recent football staff hires in light of a proposition that when in doubt you hire the fat, bald guy.
The chances of someone who looks like Stripling doing something other than plumbing or lounging around auto factories, destroying the Big Three one three-hour lunchbreak at a time, are astronomical. Bonus points for the Captain Picard-style 'do, which--unlike the shave-everything technique--emphasizes the lack of hair atop Stripling's grizzled pate. The overall impression: this man is probably killing polar bears with his bare hands right now.
Unverified Voracity: Must Play. The basketball team is still being talked about as a tournament team, but at this point that is looking doubtful.
March 8 – Wednesday
PA WR Toney Clemons and MI TE Martell Webb added to the recruiting board. Also, Mike Williams puts ‘M’ in a top two, probably with USC.
March 9 – Thursday
Brian gives a short tutorial on how to use a blog; he also talks about desiring to move to Wordpress.
A liveblog of the Michigan/Minnesota basketball game. A liveblog of the radio feed. Of the Minnesota radio feed? Not sure why this had to happen, but I guess that was life before BTN. Oh, and turnovers doomed this game and effectively move ‘M’ out of the tournament.
PBP: A ton of action with little significance.
Color: Sounds like my life.
March 10 – Friday
Are they in or not, no one is sure.
The overall impression is that Michigan is the bubbliest of bubble teams
March 13 – Monday
Posting/vacation update from Brian.
February 14 – Tuesday
Unverified Voracity: John Kerry breaks the news that ‘M’ will not be in the tournament. Also, there’s rumblings that Alex Legion might be transferring to a high school out of state.
Recruiting board update. Ryan Mallet is looking like more of a possibility with Texas picking up a commitment from John Chiles, plus with the situation in Texas…
Mallet would already be trying to unseat a sophomore with a year's worth of starting experience (either Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead); now he (likely) faces another highly regarded quarterback in his class.
March 15 – Wednesday
An obituary for Faz Husain.
Unverified Voracity: Not It shares some NIT coverage from Maize ‘n’ Brew talking about how important signing Patrick Beverly is to Amaker’s future.
March 16 – Thursday
A hockey tournament preview and a look at possible destinations for ‘M’.
March 17 – Friday
Actual football news! I’m as excited about this happening 10 years ago as I am now. Some highlights:
· Antonio Bass hurt his knee and is out for the year
· Mike Hart is healthy
I will sacrifice most of the population of Laos if this remains true for the duration of the season
· Jake Long is switching to the left side
· Carlos Brown is working at RB and DB
· Chris Singletary has been hired as recruiting coordinator
· Lots of praise for Kevin Grady
· Antonio Bass was supposed play more QB in the spring, but that’s not happening now
March 19 – Sunday
‘M’ did not get a good hockey tournament bracket.
March 20 – Monday
Unverified Voracity: Worst Blog in Scotland. Neither the Big 10 nor the CCHA are faring well in their respective tournaments. Also, it’s such a bad year for ‘M’ sports that a wrestler was robbed of a national title.
March 21 – Tuesday
The basketball team advances in the NIT in a double OT win.
Unverified Voracity: Yes Yes Oh Yes. NCAA issues seem about the same in 2006 as they do now. This comes from a glowing interview with Myles Brand by Dennis Dodd:
I've advised patience re: APR enforcement before and still think that it is a step in the right direction, but it's hard to not abandon that position in favor of radical fire-breathing when confronted with the torrent of corporate-speak that comes from the NCAA at all hours of the night and day. Such nonstop doublespeak is reminscent (sic) of campus activist groups who were incoherent but very, very angry and very, very noisy. Sensing that any cross-examination of their position would result in the swift and permanent loss of credibility and an awful lot of stammering, the bullhorn types flooded the zone with so much noise that actual thought was impossible. (Yes, sort of like the White House -- now I have bashed both Republicans and campus lefties and may continue unmolested, si?)
March 22 – Wednesday
Video of a Dion Harris buzzer beater from the previous night. I can’t believe there is content that still exists.
Announcement about a memorial service for Faz Husain.
March 23 – Thursday
A hockey bracket preview. Michigan is going into a bracket that included Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel.
Colin Cowherd steals material from The M Zone. Sounds about right.
March 24 – Friday
Recruiting Board Update doesn’t add any familiar names. However, there is a discussion about John Clay making favorable comments, but that might be hampered by a Brandon Saine (a lifelong ‘M’ fan) commitment. Also, it’s not surprising that Chris Forcier won’t be pursued because of Ryan Mallet.
Unverified Voracity: NIT Perspective with football pro day stats. Also, more articles about blogosphere vs. mainstream media, with Bill Simmons saying bloggers just sit back and attack people, but then complaining that he gets in trouble if he tries to attack anyone with ESPN. Ironic.
March 27 – Monday
The hockey team did indeed lose to North Dakota.
Unverified Voracity: Yip Yip Yip. Buena Vista High School basketball star and Notre Dame recruit Tory Jackson is not happy about not being Mr. Basketball (David Kool was the winner that year) and not signing with Michigan. Speculation on Jack Johnson’s future has begun.
March 28 – Tuesday
Things are not looking positive for Johnson returning.
Courtney Viney has been removed from the Recruiting Board. Ironic since he was reportedly just considered for a coaching job 10 years later. Also highlights of an article on Ronald Johnson and discussion on whether Chris Rucker and Ryan Van Bergen would receive offers.
March 29 – Wednesday
Have no fear. Jack Johnson is coming back!
Unverified Voracity: Ministry of Silly Analysis. Patrick Beverly is still looking like a strong possibility. Growing opposition to luxury boxes. And an updated roster!
A favorite pastime of the deranged is to read far too much into listed positions, heights, and weights, as getting information out of Fort Schembechler is harder than a contrived similie that references hilarious pop culture.
(Brian, it’s normal ten years later; read this Jimmystats post.) Highlights:
· Any worry that Michigan would senselessly put Alan Branch at DE should be put to bed: he's listed at 330 pounds. It should then be awoken: his position is listed as DE/DT.
· Redshirt freshmen James McKinney (279 lbs.) and Eugene Germany (ditto) are both bulking up to the point where DT may be a possiblity.
· McKinney, Tim Jamison, and Chris McLaurin are all listed at the anachronistic RLB position... as is Lamarr Woodley. Hopefully that does not imply those three guys get to watch Biggs and Van Alstyne play unsexy librarian at DE. Quiero dual headhunters. Also of note: both Jamison and McLaurin are up to that 240-250 range at which you're leery about every additional pound robbing them of explosiveness.
· Grady's down to 216. No word on whether he's gotten contacts.
· Wasn't Brandon Harrison listed at 5'10" last year? I seem to remember many jokes about lifts and such coming from OSU fans. Apparently that fanciful notion has been discarded: he's back down to a Bob Sanders-esque 5'8". Now if he could only play like Sanders.
· Marques Walton's problem was supposed to be mondo-overweightness, but he's listed at a (relatively) svelte 291.
Finally, Braylon Edwards is endowing a scholarship for the #1 jersey. In case you didn’t know.
‘M’ basketball beats Old Dominion to advance to the NIT final. Brian isn’t sure if this is a good thing or not.
Another Recruiting Board update with discussion on Mallet and John Clay.
March 30 – Thursday
Unverified Voracity: Clash of the Titans readies for the NIT final. Also some things never change:
A note: yes, I saw the Sharp article, and yes, it is beneath comment. If you subscribe to the Free Press, you support this man's salary. You should stop.
CA QB Lee Mondol commits. Likely as a walk on, also class of 2006.
Brian’s portion of a Blogpoll roundtable. I have no idea who else contributed, but only Brian’s answer to the questions are included here anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter. In response to the question: what things about your team are causing you anxiety during spring practice, Brian gives this response -
2. The offensive line
...was repulsive. Jake Long's moved to left tackle, which makes me nervous about
both tackles spots instead of just one.
A video of Mike Legg’s goal, for no reason particular.
March 31 – Friday
Someone decided to write a book about Bobby Williams.
Where to even begin? This can only be a book that attempts to convince the reader that Bobby Williams' tumultuous career as Michigan State's head coach was ended prematurely by insidious racism instead of
· losing your starting quarterback to cocaine or alcohol or weed or all of the above, depending on who you talk to,
· having your captain drag a cop down the street during what was, until then, a routine traffic stop,
· having two other contributors quit the team,
· taking a team thought to be a Big Ten contender and turning in a 3-8 record
· losing to your main rival 49-3,
· responding to the question "have you lost control of this team?" with a thrilling rhetorical gambit: "I don't know*," aaaaand
· looking likely to burst into tears at any moment.
Unverified Voracity: Redirect. The hockey team might manage to not lose anyone to the pros this off season; however:
Spath says '07 prospect Pat Kane -- the NTDP U17 team's leading scorer last year -- is leaning towards the OHL over Michigan.
(Also, Brian doesn’t mention it directly, but ‘M’ lost to South Carolina in the NIT the previous night.
Summary below for those that don't want the long version.
Yesterday, Brian discussed some Spring practice bits, within that, he talked about an assumption that Michigan was going to more of a quarters coverage base, similar to OSU and MSU.
I pretty adamantly denied that claim.
Brown has been a single-high base coverage throughout his career. A hybrid-SAM player has no relation to an Over front or a quarters coverage other than some teams use them in that way, just like Under teams and some 3-4 (3-3-5) teams do.
Brown has always been a 4-3 Under/One-gap 3-4 guy. It appears he's running something closer to an Under because of the personnel he has, but even then, I wouldn't be surprised to see Taco in a 2-point stance (though he'll nominally rush the passer 95% of the time). That's Brown's deal.
Peppers will play some SAM. He'll cover some TEs and the safety over the top of him will rotate to deep center field (the far safety will have SKY support in Cover 3 and will have man coverage in Cover 1 over the slot or on a back, and may help check a TE crossing the formation). I would be flat out shocked if Michigan came out running a 4-3 over quarters base, as what I described has been Brown's recent MO and the quarters thing has never been.
However, while I still stand by that being Michigan's base coverage, I wanted to clear up a few things.
Don Brown does have match-up concents within his defense, in particular, two-high safety match-up concepts. He also have Cover 2 concepts in his defense. Brown will play two-high safeties in certain situations. It likely won't be the base, and it won't be the standard coverage throughout games more often than not.
As far as his formations of choice, I did mispeak there in a way. His standard, from what I've seen, is a one-gap 3-4 or 4-3 under principles, but he has often run an over front with what I've called a "Jam" adjustment (it's MSU terminology), but he uses what he calls an anchor. I've also used the term "anchor" in the past as a technique, that technique essentially being that you "anchor a gap". I've used it in terms of anchoring the outside gap or anchoring against zone blocking schemes, Brown uses "Anchor" for the SDE that is needed to anchor a gap in his defense. You'll also notice that the WDE is often in a two point stance.
Here's where Brown uses a different tactic than most.
Here's standard over and under formations from my preview of Brown
Here's how Brown typically runs an Over front, from James Light's blog (which has been linked on the front page several times). This is what Brown calls a "72" formation
This is Brown's "Eagle" coverage, which is essentially a Cover 2 Trap. The CB has no responsibility for the #1 WR, his eyes are in the backfield looking for someone to run a route to the flat. He'll sink to a deep quarter if no one threatens the flat, and he'll essentially bait a throw to the flat by being a bit more flat footed in his technique and breaking down hard on any throw there.
But also notice the "Over" front with the anchor position. The SDE lines up in a 6i technique, or inside the TE. This provides more cover to the SAM, such that blockers cannot get out to him. The SAM is aligned on the inside hip of the SDE. Just as often, the SAM will line up on the outside shoulder of the TE or even wider, in a 5x5 to 3x3 technique. But it is an Over front, because of the shades of the DTs.
This is the formation handling a detached WR, with the SAM playing in an apex position
Note that this coverage is Cover 6. One side is playing "Cloud" leverage ("Side" above) in which he stays in the flat no matter what. The other side is playing the "sight" technique (trap technique in most terminology I've come across) which results in a Cover 2 or a 1/4-1/4-1/2 Cover 6.
This is a formation for handling a knob, in which the SAM plays a "tilt" position (essentially a Under front SAM technique)
And in almost all these instances, unless the Anchor is slanting outside, the SAM has responsibility for that outside gap. The point being, that Peppers, from the SAM position, would not nominally be a box defender (as in, inside the tackle box). He's playing outside the TE as much as anywhere.
As I said, Brown does have two-high safety coverages. He essentially winnows it down to a single coverage, but there are various techniques he runs (from MEG and MOD Cover 4, to trap and 1/4-1/4-1/2). He also has Cover 3 and Cover 1 coverages, which tend to be his base. And he'll have some combo coverages. Why does he prefer single-high looks? Because it's easier to bring multiple pressure looks with a single high safety. The run fits are easier (you rely less on DBs, who are typically limited in their run fits), you can bring pressure from more places, etc. It allows them to stay in their base coverage while doing something different with the front. And much of these pressure games come from his Under front or 3-4 front.
But at the end of the day, he is a "multiple" coach, which Michigan has almost always been dating back a long time. This, in and of itself, makes it very different than what MSU and OSU are doing. Those teams have vastly simplified their coverage (essentially, Cover 4 base, and then Cover 0 or 2-low, 3-high (MSU) or 3-low, 3-high (OSU)). Michigan won't be that. They'll mix and match and adjust the coverage to the opponent.
But, I will also add, Brian isn't wrong here. Michigan will play some Cover 4. They will run what is an Over front. But it won't be base quarters. The "4-high" looks will be a part of the plan (again, Cover 2 Trap, Cover 4 MEG, Cover 4 MOD, Cover 6), it will likely be base single-high, but it will be multiple.
Michigan won't be playing much quarters (Cover 4, like MSU and OSU). They will play two-high safeties in what is mostly a Cover 2 look. In their blitz scheme, they will utilize mostly single-high safeties (Cover 1 and Cover 3). They will run multiple coverages rather than prioritize a single coverage to become great at it (which is different than MSU and OSU).
Also, Peppers won't be playing inside the tackle box much.
Does that clear it up? Or did I just repeat the same thing and not clarify a thing?