This Saturday my grad school alma mater will be playing my undergrad alma mater and as I prepare to enter Michigan stadium in enemy colors(undergrad trumps grad school in my opinion) I figured I’d give a perspective on the game from a fan of both teams.
I’m starting out with this poster for no better reason than I think it’s cool.
For those who missed it the first time around, this is a quick primer I wrote back in the spring explaining how Academy football works and the basics have not changed although I didn’t write enough about Cody Getz at running back(I think he was hurt during the Spring):
Academy traditions at football games(a.k.a. cheers, flyby’s and songs):
First off, the flyby’s. Yes, I expect them to be good given the high profile of this game. Typically the best flyby’s are reserved for the games with the most public/high ranking officer visibility. So as long as the weather isn’t completely awful, we should be set for a strong set of flyby’s with a variety of aircraft. That said these things are unpredictable so don’t hold it against me if all we get is a FedEx 737(this actually happened at one game when I was a cadet). Speaking as a former pilot, flyby’s are fun as hell and I am sure there is a long line of pilots who would LOVE to do a flyover of the Big House. If there’s any interest I can provide a high-level explanation of how a flyby is ,er, um, flown in the comments section.
Typical Cheers(not that I expect these to be heard):
AIR! FORCE! Is the main call and response cheer done between fans on opposite sides of the stadium.
On Academy first downs the Drum and Bugle Corps(better known as Beat and Blow) will play a quick drum beat that the cadets will sing along to saying, “Another Falcon First Down!” on repeat. Those of you sitting close to the cadets should probably expect to wonder if you’re hearing another F-word in place of the Falcon.
After the game:
After every game whether home or away the team will gather in front of either the cadet section or the visitor’s section and sing the third verse of the Air Force song. This is done every game win, lose, or draw and I’m sure Michigan will make every effort to accommodate it. Still if y’all notice someone being a jackwagon at the end of the game about it, please do me a favor and shut them the hell up.
What the Idaho St. game should tell you: Not much that you didn’t already know. The offense will probably provide some trouble for Michigan’s D, the defense is probably going to have its hands full with Denard and co. As others have observed from the highlights of the Idaho St. game some of the giant spaces that Getz, Dietz, and co. are running through against Idaho St. won’t be there against Michigan. However, Air Force is disciplined enough to run the offense without getting a ton of big plays and take what the defense gives them. The D did shut down Idaho St. for the first half and was fairly aggressive, I think the second half “collapse” was reflective of calling off the dogs scheme-wise as well as a young defense losing concentration against a perceived inferior opponent. That said no-one sane expects them to slow down Michigan’s offense very much.
Air Force’s general gameplan for all opponents: On offense run the Triple option, with Wing T concepts, in a hurry up style. Use the run to set up the pass and basically bring in play action to act as a “fourth option”. The offense at its best runs through a quarterback making multiple reads to make individual defenders wrong no matter what they do. This probably sounds familiar. The Defense has a bend but don’t break philosophy in which they try to limit big plays by the opposition and bait the other team into a mistake. While this sounds good in theory and can result in days like the bowl game against Houston in which Air Force made Case Keenum look dumb, in practice it often leads to 3 man rushes against a secondary giving up large cushions. This should also sound familiar. Overall, think a less talented Michigan 2010, but with an offense that’s not as much of a turnover-fest and a defense that is not being run by a stuffed Beaver.
Prediction: I’m starting to think this one will look like a shootout through the first three quarters until Michigan finally pulls away as Air Force’s D just can’t slow Michigan down and Michigan doesn’t make enough mistakes to keep Air Force in the game. Michigan 45- Air Force 31
Tackling Technique: A tale of two coaching staffs.
I have spent the last two seasons looking at tackling technique. You can find my review of 2010 here.
What I found was that as a team, we sucked at it; We tackled poorly as LB's, we tackled poorly in space, we tackled poorly as a team.
The idea is simple enough; no tackling = no defense = Lots of points./yards and anguished Brian screams.
A change in coaching staff brought a breath of fresh air, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
As we all know, our defense was astoundingly better this year, the question I found myself asking was 'exactly what is the difference?".
A quick review of good tackles vs. missed tackles vs. missed bad form tackles:
(Made Tackles - Missed Tackles) / (1 + Bad Form Tackles)
- Calculating this way makes the bad form tackles have an extremely large effect on your number. Essentially, miss and it will decrease. Miss badly and it will decrease a lot.
- The idea here is that any number greater than 1 is a solid indicator that this player brought down more than they missed, and if they missed it more than likely is due to being beat athletically not technically.
- This also has an indirect correlation to who made the most tackles.
(Made Tackles) / (Made Tackles + Missed Tackles)
- This score is a true representative of how likely it is a player will bring the ball carrier down when presented with a tackling opportunity.
To the data.
2011 Tackling Efficiency:
2011 Season: Blue,
2011 B10 Season: Maize
2010 Season: Grey
2011 Tackling Percentage
What to draw from this is that we tackled a LOT better in space. . You will notice that we no longer essentially depended on Martin, Demens or Kovacs to bring down the ball carrier. This is a good thing.
Also, our dependence on our front 7 to make tackles has decreased, which is due to our secondary bringing down ball carriers in the open field.
This might seem like a baseless claim:
Percentage by Position:
Efficiency by Position:
Our CB's and DB's all had significant increases in both percentage and efficiency.
The breakdown by year.
As you can see, our freshman turned the corner early and our upperclassmen came to play.
Take home points and observations.
- Kovacs is the lynchpin of this defense. He has progressed steadily since 2010, and having a second year in system I would not be surprised to see him win All B10 honors.
- Tackling wise, Morgan improved a lot over the season. He should be a very good linebacker in the future, especially adding muscle in the off season. When he got beat, he invariably got beat athletically.
- Thomas Gordon is a good one. Extremely solid in run support. My only concern here is that both Gordon and Kovacs are solid run stoppers but lack elite speed to be a true FS. Would like to see Kovacs roll up to nickel back and test Marvin Robinson at the FS on 3rd and 6+. This would allow Kovacs to blitz closer to the line as well.
- I really like Courtney Avery. Dude just plays with a nose for the football.. he is the defensive backfield equivalent of Jake Ryan.
- Jake Ryan plays like his hair is on fire. Love this dude. (Blasphemous to insinuate the flow is flamable.) He needs to learn to turn his ballistic missle technique into a heat seaking missle technique.
- Demens will be a solid B10 linebacker. While I think that Bolden and Co. have a higher ceiling, I think that Demens will be the solid Mike we have been looking for for a solid 4 years.
- JT Floyd. Hot damn. While it seems that he still shies a little bit away from contact, he also is tackling a lot better.
- All our first year players played above their heads. It would stand to reason that they might regress a bit in year two. However, our Freshman were (with the exception of Ryan ) true freshman. This leaves me hope that they can also potentially take a large step as their bodies catch up to their abilities.
- I am not as worried as most about our defensive line. While they will be missed, if the front 4 can just occupy the front 5 of whoever, we will be in great shape.
Breakout Defenders for 2012:
- Clark (I know)
- Totally baseless speculation: Richard Ash will have an impact this year.
Update: I've posted new wallpapers with the correct schedule.
I didn't expect a win against Alabama but I'd hoped for something a little less embarrassing. I needed a wallpaper palate cleanser so I disassembled last week's wood-themed wallpaper and used the scraps to build this schedule with retro-ized opponent helmets rendered in my 3D stadium.
I hope this will get you through a couple of weeks. I'm going to disappear for awhile but will return with new artwork for one or two of the rivalry games. I have some fun things planned including that ambitious project I mentioned at the end of last season.
Follow me on Twitter @thearttheart for updates.
The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
in the Rich Rod bowl, the team RR spurned beat the team that spurned RR - naturally by the reverse score
THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE did not debut prior to the first game for a reason
when the referee bastards play for the oversigning bastards, there is no way the opposing team has a chance to win
knowing these things, many people are still very upset by the result of the Sep 1 game
these people don't understand THE KNOWLEDGE
those that follow THE KNOWLEDGE will be relieved at the game's result, for they know what this result means for the rest of the season
THE KNOWLEDGE has previously revealed on these very pages that Michigan will finish the season 12-2
therefore, getting one loss out of the way means that Michigan will lose only one more game this year
losing Blake Countess is a great tragedy - particularly for Countess who was illegally blocked by one of the Bama bastards on that play
THE KNOWLEDGE ensures everyone that he will get better and be back in fine form soon
however, the injury does not change the season results as many people fear
Michigan will finish the season 12-2
for those that still don't believe THE KNOWLEDGE:
when this revelation is proved to be accurate as time makes the future the past
THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar and leave every doubter in a trail of dust
Very little action in the recruiting world this week, though Penn State's class continues to lose players, this time in-state linebacker Zayd Issah—and that was before they opened the season with a loss to Ohio. This should go well. Changes since the last rankings:
8-26-12: Michigan State picks up Dennis Finley. Indiana picks up Jacobi Hunter.
8-29-12: Zayd Issah decommits from Penn State.
8-31-12: Kenton Gibbs decommits from Illinois.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
To eliminate any confusion about how the rankings are determined (to be honest, they used to be arbitrary), team order is determined by multiplying the number of commits by star average.
On to the full data after the jump.
Am I really going to do this again, this season? Yeah, I guess I am. I have very little personal insight to bring to the table when it comes to Alabama. One of my best friends from my Rackham days is from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. In the “Greatest County Names” contest, there is Tallapoosa County, and there is everyone else. It’s near Wetumpka, Alabama, in case you were wondering. I also love “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. However, I have always wondered about these lyrics in the song: “Now Watergate does not bother me, Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth.” What the hell does that even mean? Why doesn’t a President of the United States resigning in disgrace bother him? And better yet, what is the relationship between Alabama and Watergate? I was a toddler when Watergate went down, so if anybody has any idea what that’s all about, please let me know. Hey, it’s better than rehashing the game. Coincidentally, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” also beat Kid Rock’s Michigan-based ode to “Sweet Home Alabama,” titled, “All Summer Long,” by a final score of 41-14.
You don’t want to go there. Seriously, trust me, you don’t want to go there. Wouldn’t you rather I link you to Morrissey’s complete catalogue, pictures of tire fires, or nuclear bombs going off? No, you want the link. OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Burst of Impetus
- I’m starting fresh this season with section titles, but this one is too good not to hold over. It’s for momentum changing plays.
- Things started great for UofM, holding Bama to 1 yard in their first series. However, Bama got off a great punt and flipped the field. We did manage to eak out a first down and seemed to have some momentum, even considering the slightly off slant patterns. Then we got hit with the 15 yarder on Lewan, when off-setting penalties should have been called. It all went downhill after that.
- I also thought we were in trouble this week when I heard Brady gave out 7 scholarships to walk-ons. I’m sure they are worthy, and I’m happy for them, but that kind of thing just does not happen at Bama. We are still a little thin on the depth chart, and when some players get suspended and some get injured early in the game, the talent gap starts to widen. It will improve, but we’re not there yet.
Sometimes, poop is just poop
- This better not be a recurring section, but in my season prediction email to my brother, I suggested that some regression to the mean was to be expected. I even made the blasphemous statement that we might find out that Brady Hoke’s poop is not made of gold. Well, on almost all of the 50-50 plays, they went Bama’s way. For example:
- Gallon caught a 71 yard pass when he needed 71.1 yards. (Flashbacks to Illinois, STOP IT PLEASE!!!)
- On 4thand 3, Denard seemingly stretched for the first down, only to have replay overrule the play because his elbow went down before the sticks.
- Early in the game, Rawls was facemasked while Lewan took someone’s helmet off. Guess who got the penalty?
- Bama downed a punt at the 1 foot line. It seemed like several players had a chance to bring the ball into the endzone with them, but the ball someone managed to stay at the one. This lead to the pick-six. Poop.
- The one time Bama turned the ball over, it was at the end of the half and we couldn’t benefit from it. Poop. Lousy, stinky, poop.
- This is the all-encompassing section on the defense. I think “Kehrvacks” sounds funnier than “Dehrnerd,” and they are both captains, so Jordan gets the ermahgerd treatment.
- If you look hard enough, there were a few good things. We held Lacy to 3.9 YPC and Hart to 2.1. But this points to the talent advantage Bama has. When option 1 and 3 aren’t working, go with option 2. Yeldon had 11 carries for 111 yards.
- We had 3 sacks and 9 TFLs, but the TFLs were all of the 1 and 2 yard variety. We didn’t really get any penetration. Two of the TFLs were from Brink late in the game. I’m wondering if maybe he sees more time in the future, particularly against less beefy teams. If there is any second guessing by Mattison this week, I suspect it will be the decision to try to match size with Bama. Perhaps a quicker line might have been able to sneak through, but I doubt it. Bama’s O-Line is NFL ready.
- McCarron was only 11 for 21, and we forced several throwaways. What happened to intentional grounding? Is that not a penalty anymore? I thought chucking the ball into the stands was a penalty. No? OK, let’s just move on.
- We held Bama to only 431 yards. They may be the best offense we face all year. If we can hold everyone else under 431, I’ll be happy.
- The bad news was that 3 of our top 4 tacklers were DBs. Demens only had 3 tackles. I’m worried about the UFR, but that’s to be expected after giving up 41 points (and yes, the defense was only responsible for 34.)
- Morgan had 8 tackles, but they were all assisted tackles, which epitomizes the game. In all of the one-on-one matchups, we lost. Bama was just more “-er” than us, bigger, stronger, faster, tougher. I avoided watching Bama last season because I hate that “ESS EEE SEE” crap, but there’s no denying how good they are.
- 25 guys registered at least one tackle. Some of that was blow-out time stuff, but it seemed like Mattison was searching for something that would work.
- You had to see this title coming a mile away, right? Hopefully, we get rid of the “?” next week.
- Denard ran 10 times for 27 net yards. He ran for a TD. Going into the game, one of the stats I saw more than once was how many runs Denard has had of 10 yards or longer in the past two seasons. His long this game was 9 yards. I don’t blame Borges for keeping the carries down. Without Fitz, Bama was free to tee off on Denard. I think it was more important to keep him relatively healthy than run him 25 times and leave him a bloody pulp at the end in a futile attempt to keep it close.
- Denard was 11 for 26 passing with 2 INTs. One of the INTs was the official’s fault for not calling pass interference, or Roundtree’s fault for letting himself be treated like a ragdoll.
- Denard threw for 200 yards, helped greatly by a 71 yard bomb to Gallon. It looked like Bama was giving up the long ball, but Denard and Devin are not in sync yet. Give it time, this duo will be all right by season’s end.
- The local news had a story about how there was a rare zonkey at the LA county fair this week. That’s a combination of a zebra and a jackass, I mean, a donkey. I can’t think of a more fitting description of the officiating.
- I was a little surprised to see that we were called for more penalties, and for significantly more yards. UM: 8-99, Bama: 7-55. The game reminded me of the 2000 Orange Bowl game we played against them when they set a record with 18 penalties for 132 yards, only the officials didn’t use their flags this game.
- I know Bama has 3 pre-season all-Americans on their O-line, but that doesn’t mean they can hold with impunity. I’m sure Blue Seoul will have some examples, but that’s not the reason we lost.
Passing Game Stuff
- Gallon looks to be the guy, at least until Devin and Denard get more comfortable.
- Roundtree caught two passes late. He better step up, or else I’m going to question that 21 patch he has. Maybe he’s still <100% after the surgery. I hope that’s the reason, because we can’t rely on a 5’ 8” #1 receiver and a converted QB to be the only options.
- More Dileo please. He only caught one ball, but wasn’t targeted that often.
- Kwiatkowski caught one pass for 6 yards. DAMN YOU RODRIGUEZ! I want moar tight ends!!!
- I was going to skip this section as well this year, but Jareth Glanda registered a tackle as #5D. After his Sugar Bowl heroics, any time I can send the love his way, you know I will.
- James Ross shows up in the boxscore as “Ross III, James.” ST3 approves. I wonder if he ever gets mail addressed to him as James Ross Iii?
Announcers’ Derpity Derp
- I was going to wait until we got to the meat of the BIG 10 Network portion of the schedule for this, but “Devin Smith?” Pound for pound, he’s the toughest guy who doesn’t exist on our roster.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- Hagerup did get off some boomers, but our average Net Yards per punt was only 35.3, 16 yards less than our average punt distance. Bama, on the other hand, netted 46.2 yards on a 47 yard average. That’s coverage.
- While Norfleet looked good, the average kick return was only 22.1 yards. When a touchback takes you out to the 25, I’m not so impressed by 22 yards. It was clearly better than last season.
- Wile: 3 kickoffs, 3 touchbacks. Dude has a leg.
- Time of possession is meaningless. We had the ball for 28:34 to their 31:26. We also had 56 offensive plays to their 63. It seemed like a lot worse than that.