Here are some random thoughts after going up to the Big House to see the next team in person. I will preface all this by saying that I have no credentials, no true facts or basis for my opinons, no charts, and no real desire to convince any of you. I just feel like putting all my thoughts down on paper, and it's fun to get torn apart by the mgocommunity once in a while. This will be long, so instead of posting tl;dr just click on something else Mr. Snarkypants.
Jerald Robinson is not ready. He does seem to have the physical skills to become a good reciever in the future, but I doubt he will be a significant contributor this year. During the warm up drills he dropped several balls, which he continued to do in the game also. I could be wrong, but I think his only catch was when he dropped to his knees (rookie mistake) and was down immediatley. I know he's young, but all the coach-speak so far is that he is our solid #3 option at WR, and he will also be a deep threat for us. I don't believe any of that. Jeremy Jackson is far more poised, runs better routes, catches the ball better, and has real in-game experience in high pressure situations. Jeremy is a solid possesion reciever, but not really the gamechanger we need to start at WR.
Devin Gardner is not our second best QB. This is a harsh statement that I'm sure some of you will not like, but it's how I feel. I really don't see any improvement from him compared to last year. He is a "one read and take off downfield" passer. This can be really effective in high school, but it won't work in Div.1 college football. Borges talks about "getting into the fight" when he refers to stepping up into the pocket and keeping your shoulders square with your eyes downfield (ready to pass). The only times Devin moves in the pocket, he is taking off to run down the field. Russ was poised and seemed to lead the team well. I like the way he checks down recievers, and his few mistakes were easilly fixed teachable moments. Russel did not move backwards several times like Devin did, and he was even dealing with a center who consistantly snapped the ball really high. This kid has some promise, yo.
Why not move Devin to WR? We need a true athletic threat at our #3 spot, and to me Dileo and Gallon are slots that don't match up well on the outside. I'm not saying that Devin shouldn't get some reps at QB, but he will help our team this year so much better on the outside. The guy has some amazing skills - he is fast, has great range, good leaping ability and he's 6'4" forgodsakes. He is also a way better option for Dennard's "throw it up for grabs" style of long pases, and could replace Hemmingway in that capacity.
I'm not sure who will win out the LB competition, but this is going to be fun to watch. I saw really good things out of the two freshman, Bolden and Ringer. Bolden has some good instincts and just needs to learn his assignments a bit better. This defense will be scary good in 4 years. Hawthorn has made a statement that he needs PT. Playmakers find their way on the starting roster, and the UM coaches will be watching #7 pop out on film all summer. I can't wait to see the other freshman linebackers compete for a spot on the two-deep.
Blake Countess will make game-changing plays this year and continue to be a solid rock we can depend on in the defensive backfield. I really like how Mattison is emphasizing that he hasn't arrived yet, and it's nice to hear that Blake continues to bust his ass in hopes to get better every day. I am concerned about us getting beat deep still. I think the fact that our offense doesn't throw downfield much gives our back end less reps in live action agianst attacks that take several shots downfield. Jarrod Wilson looks comfortable at safety, and I like his physical presence in support of the run defense. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there, and he made some nice plays.
Our running back situation is nice right now. Fitz is a beast, and I really like how he has the ability to run downhill or cut it to the backside to expoit over-pursuit. Rawls looks like Mike Hart with bigger lower body. I know that's a bit "Fred Jackson" of me, but he gains yardage with every move. He is the kind of back that can wear on you throughout a game and really dominate in the 4th quarter. Hoke mentioned that Hopkins is our short yardage back, but I like Hopkins leading Rawls up the middle more. This kid will be special by the time his Michigan career is over. Justice Hayes is sneaky fast, and he will be a nice third down back after Vincent Smith graduates. I also love the playaction fulback flat pass you see so much in the NFL. Our FB's are capable of making a big first down/touchdown once a game on this play.
As far as the defensive line is concerned, we aren't looking very solid right now. Jabreel Black looks gigantic compared to last year, and the coaches are saying he needs to put on more weight this summer. How much bigger can his body get? I guess we'll see. Washington is our best nose option IMO, and that's not saying a ton. Campbell is OK, but I still don't believe he's a starter. Ash made some good plays getting into the backfield, and Chris Rock looks like he could beef up and be a solid player on the DL in the future. We need to be stout up the middle, or teams that like to smash it could find playcalling a bit too easy against this defense.
All in all, it was a great time at the Big House like it always is. I can't wait to go to the opener at home, and we will now spend too much time over-analyzing all the film we have from the spring. Go Blue!!!
This was a triumph. I'm making a note here:
It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.
We do what we must because we can.
For the good of all of us
Except the ones who are dead.
But there's no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake
And the science gets done and you make a neat gun
For the people who are still alive.
I'm not even angry.
I'm being so sincere right now.
Even though you broke my heart and killed me.
And tore me to pieces.
And threw every piece into a fire.
As they burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you.
Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we're out of beta we're releasing on time.
So I'm GLaD I got burned think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive.
(I was all like…)
THAT WAS A JOKE. HA HA, FAT CHANCE.
Anyway, this cake is great:
It's so delicious and moist.
(But now I'm all like…)
Look at me still talking when there's science to do.
When I look out there it makes me GLaD I'm not you.
I've experiments to run there is research to be done
On the people who are still alive
And believe me I am still alive.
I'm doing science and I'm still alive.
P.S. I feel FANTASTIC and I'm still alive.
P.P.S. While you're dying I'll be still alive.
Final thought: And when you're dead I will be still alive.
well, the spring game is here and whether you are there in person or watching at home, there will be some confusion with familiar faces gone and fresh faces arrived. as you can see on the right margin, there is some work to do to get fully up and running, so all comments and criticisms are welcome.
special for this miniprogram, the opponent's tidbits, roster and key players are removed in favor of some broad UM factoids. also, the roster has many empty spots reserved for fall's freshmen, who are listed but, with the exception of early enrollees, will not be participating.
Indianapolis (IN) Pike WR Dominique Booth is one of the top Midwest prospects in the class of 2014, and he's off to a quick start in his recruitment. Booth already holds scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Missouri, with interest from several other schools across the region, including Michigan. Booth visited Ann Arbor at the tail end of March, and I had the chance to chat with him last night about his recruitment. Here's the full transcript:
ACE: First of all, what schools are currently contacting you the most in your recruitment?
DOMINIQUE: All of them are contacting Coach Moyers about me the same amount. There are so many schools and I think there are some my coach hasn't even told me [about]. Every day it seems like I'm hearing from a new school.
ACE: Of the schools you've heard from, who do you most want to get an offer from that hasn't offered yet?
DOMINIQUE: Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
ACE: I know you visited Michigan recently. What was your favorite part of the visit?
DOMINIQUE: I didn't get to go around the whole campus but their indoor practice facility stood out from any other, and all the championships they have won.
ACE: Which Michigan coaches have you been in contact with, and what's your impression of the coaching staff?
DOMINIQUE: Coach Mallory is the one recruiting me and they seem very enthusiastic.
ACE: Do you have any other visits planned for the spring/summer?
DOMINIQUE: Cincinnati this Saturday and Ohio State the Saturday after that.
ACE: Any plans to see Michigan again down the road?
DOMINIQUE: Yes, they made me promise to come back so they can show me all they have to offer. They also called my coach making sure he stresses to me that I need to come back and spend more time with them.
ACE: I know it's early in the process, but what attributes are you looking for in a school?
DOMINIQUE: A good medical school, a good teacher in the wide receivers coach, and a head coach that is going to be there the whole time I am.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field?
DOMINIQUE: Changing speeds in my route running, just being an athlete when the ball is in the air, I catch with my hands, and I'm really good in the screen game because I'm hard to bring down as a ball carrier. Another thing I'm good at is recognizing coverages and exploiting them.
ACE: And what parts of your game are you trying to improve?
DOMINIQUE: I can work on having cleaner cuts and being more aware of my surroundings while going up on the ball and using my hands more on the top of my routes.
ACE: When you're not on the field, what do you like to do in your spare time?
DOMINIQUE: Basketball and I'm a big movie watcher. I feel like I have to see every good new movie that comes out.
Hockey Special Teams 2: The Neutral Zone and Penalty Kill
In honor of the Stanley Cup Playoffs starting tonight, here’s Volume 2. I saw the Wings utilize both the Umbrella PP and the Diamond PK, so I was inspired to write tonight.
For the first diary in this series, look here: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/hockey-special-teams-1-powerplay-basics
As was covered previously, there are many situations that can lead to a power play during a hockey game:
Any excuse for a SlapShot Clip
The job of the penalty kill is simple:
1. Don’t let the puck into your zone
2. If the puck gets in your zone, get it out ASAP
3. If the other team possesses the puck in your zone, keep it out of the middle and get it out of your zone ASAP.
In this Diary I’m going to talk mostly about the neutral zone, only some about in zone formations. I mentioned that the obvious advantage of a powerplay is the extra man. The advantages of the defense are that 1, you can ice the puck with no penalty to kill time and 2, you can just focus on defense.
2 may seem obvious, but it’s not. Even-strength hockey is a lot like basketball. It’s a very fluid game, transitions happen instantly, scoring chances are often even, games can be up and down or slow. Suddenly with a penalty, the gameplay turns. There is a defined offense and defense. The offense should score. The defense is trying to stop them. Occasionally the defense scores (anyone have numbers on shorthanded goals per pk vs. defensive touchdowns per drive?) but the main goal is just to stop the offense from scoring. The other thing to keep in mind is the line rules. The offense has to cross the red line to dump the puck (or they ice the puck) and the puck has to cross into the zone before any offensive players do (offsides). The PK can use this to their advantage as I explain below.
In the defensive zone
This is your most common defensive formation. A simple zone box, you try to keep the puck to the perimeter and prevent the offense from getting high quality shots. The arrows above illustrate the coaching adjustment if the Powerplay wants to play an Umbrella (see previous diary). The PK plays a diamond rather than a box. This pressures the QB and wing players and prevents the Umbrella from doing what it wants. If the PK shifts to a diamond, the PP shifts the PP, typically trying to create a 2-on-1 out of the corner.
General PK Bullet that belongs here:
- On the PK, you play under extreme control. If a defender gets out of position and makes a mistake, goals happen. That said, the PK has to play with controlled aggression. A good PK can dictate play. The easiest way to kill a penalty is to not allow the puck into your zone (segue alert) but importantly, the PK MUST capitalize on any mistake the offense makes. If a pass isn’t crisp, if it’s bobbled, if it’s dribbling off a stick into a corner the penalty killer should attack and ice it ASAP. If the offense is able to repossess the puck, get back into your formation and wait for your next chance.
Neutral Zone Play
Here is where it gets really interesting. Most of Michigan’s Powerplay problems stemmed from 2 things. 1, they didn’t have an elite scoring defenseman (H/T to JimLahey, read his comments on the last diary) and 2, they couldn’t get the puck into the zone. My high school team ran 4 different neutral zone penalty kills. I’m going to (quickly) go over 3 of them. Critical in special teams Neutral Zone Play are the lines. The offense doesn’t want icing or offsides.
We called this the I, just like the football formation (or something). In it when the PP begins their breakout, the first man waits between the tops of the circles and forces the defenseman to move the puck to one side. The second forward waits outside the zone and reads the first and pinches on that pass, trying to disrupt the break out before it reaches the red line. These players have to be patient and react to the breakout.
Again, your players need to be patient. You have 1 on the offensive blue line, 2 on the red line (or a step towards the offensive zone), and one near your own blue line. Again your front man has to read the breakout, and force it to one side. Once it’s forced the man on the red line steps up before the puck gains the red line. This prevents the offense from chipping it in. Also you always have 2 men back since the man on the weak side should back up and become a defenseman. This formation is beatable though, most simply by sticking an offensive player at center ice. If the man who catches the first pass can make a good touch pass to the man at center, the offense has a 3-on-2 or better. If the PP doesn’t have the passing ability, or a coach who wont adjust his breakout, this formation works like a charm. It was dominant on the high school level, and I just saw the Wings running it tonight.
This formation is extremely passive and can give offenses fits. What this formation says is “you’re not carrying the puck into the zone against us. You have to dump it.” By challenging between the red line and defensive blue line, you invite the PP to dump the puck in. If you have fast defensemen, you can bait the offense into dumping it, win the race to the puck, and then ice it. Many pro teams use this to just slow teams down through the neutral zone. This gave Michigan fits, as they didn’t have an elite puck handler a la TJ Hensick who could beat this with the puck on his stick. This makes the offense work to gain possession in the zone, and can wear down a first powerplay unit.
Those are some basic Penalty Kill set ups. Now for some general penalty kill bullets:
· The Wings ran a bunch of this tonight
I’ve gotten feedback here and on twitter that this has helped some folks already, hope you enjoy the playoffs. I’m a Blackhawks fan, but I’d love to see us meet in the WCF. And hey, I found out that I get CNBC. Who knew?
· The powerplay is a lot like football plays – constraints are huge
As I showed above, a lot of the formations are a chess match against each other. As I write this the Wings were in an umbrella look while Nashville ran a diamond in the zone. Forced a shot from wide.
· While on the Penalty Kill, keep the puck out of the middle
At all costs. Let the other team waste all the time they want in the neutral zone or near the walls in your end. Players don’t score from behind the net (often). Players score from the hashmarks. Always defend inside out, and if it’s close, be patient and stay defensive.
· 5-on-3 situations
The typical defensive formation is a rotating triangle. Think the Box, just with 3 guys. Depending on what the offense runs, you’ll have 1 high 2 low, or 2 high 1 low. The triangle should rotate (you rarely recover to the zone you were in, you just keep moving). Ice it and get whistles. From the other diary: A 5-on-3 is a goal one way or the other. Everything mental I just mentioned about a normal powerplay is turned up to 11. A goal is scored, either by the offensive team or by the team that shut down the 5-on-3. The momentum swing and huge boost is as good as a goal, and I am not exaggerating. Many teams will run their normal powerplay, just condensed.
· From the other diary, still true: A Good goalie can muck all of this up
A team’s best penalty killer is their goalie. Done. At 7:37 central time they even said this during the Wings game.
- A note on individual play
If you’re coaching at all, or just watching, watch the front of the net during a PK compared to 5 on 5. In 5 on 5 you often see players tie each other up and wrestle for position. On the PK the defenseman should NOT lock up with the offensive players. You’re already down a man, don’t get stuck and create a 4-on-3 situation.
There’s the PK diary. Again, please ask questions in the comments and add insight to it. A detailed breakdown of Michigan’s struggles will come as I can get the pictures and videos together. Hopefully you’ve got some of the concepts to work with now.
[Ed: bump for everyone sticking around for lax Saturday.]
(Saturday's lacrosse game against Ohio State will be the first Michigan game in history truly available for mass consumption, as it will be broadcast on BTN. No paid streams, no hunting around the internet for free ones, no heading to the opponent's website for lame-ass freeze-prone gametracker. Therefore it deserves special treatment, so here is a preview of what you can expect.)
Date/Time: Saturday, April 14; 2:30
Record against the Buckeyes: 0-0
Last matchup: None
Last game: UD 11, U-M 7 (4/7); OSU 10, Hobart 9 (4/7)
Records: U-M 1-10; OSU 5-6 (3-1 ECAC)
(Michigan is an ECAC conference-mate of Ohio, but merely an associate member this season, as not every ECAC team was able to make room on its schedule for Michigan. Therefore our games don't count in the conference standings.)
|Faceoff %||42.0% (54th)||58.0% (54th)||44.5% (47th)||55.5% (47th)|
|Clearing %||71.2% (60th)||76.1% (2nd)||91.0% (3rd)||81.9% (19th)|
|Scoring %||28.7% (51st)||38.9% (57th)||27.8% (54th)||26.8% (7th)|
|O-rating||11.64 (55th)||13.70 (42nd)|
|D-rating||17.94 (57th)||11.99 (8th)|
(Please see first comment for explanation of these statistics.)
Other than perhaps the season opener - and maybe not even that - this is the game that Michigan has been targeting as its biggest all season. It could be because of the opponent; sources tell me that some kind of a rivalry may exist between these two schools. The athletic department, however, has scheduled us a springtime bonanza, with this game directly following the spring football game at the Big House. The weather will be warm but potentially rainy; with any luck the latter will hold off and a five-digit crowd will stick around for this Creator's Trophy showdown.
Yes, I said trophy, though it's not actually at stake this time. The Big Ten lacrosse-playing schools - Michigan, Ohio, and Penn State - have banded together to award a three-way trophy similar to the Commander-in-Chief's trophy. PSU already beat both schools to earn the inaugural Creator's Trophy, and it will stay with the current trophy-holder in the event of a three-way 1-1 tie in any given year.
Ohio last made the NCAA tournament in 2008, and with a first-round upset of 8th-seeded Cornell, the Buckeyes (along with Notre Dame) were at the time considered representative of a Western resurgence (or perhaps just "surgence") in the sport of lacrosse. But they haven't been able to duplicate that success since, as ND has left them in the dust somewhat, and head coach Nick Myers - who was promoted to the head job following that tournament run - may be feeling his seat warm up a little bit. (However, OSU is a football-is-king school, so don't expect the heavy boosters to particularly care, as they would at a place like Syracuse or UVA.)
[Ed: more after the jump.]