somehow we're only 124th
WALKING THE DOG
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It's not all that far-fetched, you know. You should see my dog whenever a motorized scooter drives by.
Join us on Thursday when Desmond faces the music... at home.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog,
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[Ed-H: Bump. There, I did it. No more Urban Meyer.]
I got a little busy at work during the winter, and then recruiting magic was happening, and then I figured it was too late for this post. But finally I got a day off, and it's raining, and I've had these screencaps online for 6 months, and I've got literally nothing better to do for a few hours on this sunday. So here is the Nebraska game wrap (with pics!)
That was kind of unexpected. AND AWESOME! It was without a doubt our best game of the year. Heck it was our best game IN YEARS. It was maybe the best team performance since the 1997 PSU game, although I'm probably forgetting some good ones in between.
During the game, I remember thinking the score was pretty close and anything could happen until the turnovers made it a laugher. But after watching it a few times since then, we really did dominate in all phases of the game.
By the end of the 3rd, the stat sheet was pretty one-sided. They really only had 2 great plays all game. (Two plays that I highlighted in the preview post.... so maybe I'm not completely stupid. Still, I did rag on MSU's O-line which gelled pretty strongly by mid-season. ooops.)
Defending the option
Like most of the Michigan fan base, I have huge man crush on Mattison. The things he and his staff are doing, and the performances they're getting from our players are out of this world. I would love to just sit at his feet, follow him around, and absorb as much football knowledge as possible.
If you've accomplished as much as this man, people won't make a big deal out of you using your moobs to signal the playcall. (This GA knowns that peripheral vision is sometimes a weird thing.)
Defending the option is so simple, yet so hard. You need your players to know their assignments and play with decisiveness.Here is Jake Ryan demonstrating the textbook definition of "forcing the pitch".
Nebraska has this play blocked pretty much as you would draw it up. Ryan is the 'optioned' man who is unblocked. Martinez doesn't see the whole open up on the backside, but he's running to where the play is called. He's supposed to read Ryan and "make him wrong".
Jake's first step is lateral as if he's going to squeeze the zone on the slot receiver. But when he sees the option motion coming towards him, he cuts upfield with authority. Martinez reads him correctly, and it looks like this should be a decent gain for the Huskers.
Meanwhile, Mike Martin has beaten his block and is pursuing to stop cutbacks, and the secondary is coming up in run support.
Ryan's change of direction is so fast that Martinez can't get a good pitch off with his left hand. Burkhead managed to fall on the loose ball, but if he hadn't we had two guys coming up quickly and there would have been no way for Martinez to get it with his face planted in the ground. The moral of the story is that one way to defend the option is to make those options keep the ball and get killed, or pitch the ball and get killed.
Another way to stop the option is to get an unexpected defender free. Nebraska comes out in a 4-wide set to try to get a good personnel matchup. But we just stay in our base 4-3 so it doesn't matter when the TE comes down to the line of scrimmage.
Mike Martin explodes through the line and forces the pitch FROM THE BACK SIDE. That's impressive.
Meanwhile, Kovacs is up in run support and all over his assignment as you would expect from a player of his intelligence. He reacts so quickly that the blocker whiffs on him. And the pursuit isn't giving Burkhead anywhere to go.
Getting a 5 yard TFL on first down against your opponent's bread and butter play ... that's a good a thing.
Getting off blocks
One of the stark differences between last year's defense and .... uh ... others... was how well they were getting off blocks and getting to the ball. I don't want to disparage former defensive coaches...BUT the improvement was remarkable.
We're in our zone blitz package with Martin dropping and Demens rushing. Demens gets doubled. That's a pretty big weight disadvantage for him.
So he squares up and gets some arm's length separation from the defenders, one of whom starts looking for someone else to block.
Martinez decides the coverage is too good and thinks he can squirt through that passing lane. But both Demens and Ryan see it, react to it, and clamp down on that hole.
Ryan slaps the ball out. Check out how far away from the ball Van Bergen is. But he's got his head up, he's disengaged from his blocker, and he's pursuing the ball.
One funny bounce later and it's in RVB's hands. Brian keeps saying that fumble recoveries are just luck and 50-50 propositions. I would disagree and say the fumble recovery percentage is more of a function of the number of each team's players near the ball when the fumble happens. In this case, we were a little lucky because Nebraska had more guys near the ball. But if RVB isn't hustling and getting off his blocker, our chances of getting that ball go from slim to none. So yes, luck plays a part, but I don't believe it's JUST luck or that it will always regress to the mean..
And lets not forget the good hustle and technique which caused the fumble in the first place. Strip that ball!
(The other 85% after the jump)
The field will NOT sport the schools twitter tag but Dave Brandon's Twitter account.
Dave also commented on the parts of the field that have been sold off to sponsors.
So far I’ve done two of these diaries looking at only the public rosters as posted by each school, free Rivals data and blogger based depth charts. Pt1 looking at height/weight and Rivals rating by position. Pt 2 looking at redshirting numbers. In this diary I’m mainly breaking down the recruiting classes by where they come from and how far they travel to come to the respective schools. A quick review and I will get on with that…
The Tide is bigger in girth and number, more Rivally, redshirty and about as elderly class wise. Their OTs are humongous. Our DEs are lithe and hopefully hard to lay hands on. Can we out play their strengths? Certainly we can. I’m interested in fall camp. The onus is on Michigan to execute and develop where expected and also early where otherwise RSing would be a good idea.
It’s frustrating given the early entry and success of Bama that they are so well off personnel-wise. Saban recruits moves and manages rosters differently and/or repugnantly in my estimation. I want to get into that but it’s just not the data or the focus of what I am doing here. It’s worthy of a diary but it’s been done before.
OK… on to the data smash that I have…
Where these guys come from isn’t really as important as what kind of players they are. But it’s interesting and speaks to who these guys are as well as where in the CFB world both schools are. Enough “ares” let’s get on with this.
A variability chart of distance to campus compared team to team…excluding the walk-ons that are not on the 2-deep...that would be Kovacs (Alabama does not have any walk-ons in the 1s or 2s except kickers and long snappers.)
Note to self - kids like to go to school near home in general. I would be interested to roll this up for all of College football. Especially in light or recent success by USC despite just deserved penalties. I take that challenge but have limitations in time.
(EDIT: Zone Left points to an article by Andy Staples in the comments that has 2004-2008 data for Div 1 schools. I rolled that up in the comments. This was a good link.)
Michigan is more spread out and and in a Florida sense – bi-modal. I highlighted the guys in the 2 deep above (they are slightly larger dots above…this shows up better in the distribution charts below where the two deep guys are darker.
The differences here are not so great for the most part. The distributions are the same in character but Michigan is clearly more spread out than Alabama in it’s recruiting territory. The red brackets below the box plots are the shortest interval that contains half the data. I think it’s interesting that despite being more spread out Michigan has a large contingent of close to home guys. This is due to our proximity to Detroit I’m sure, but Bama is close to Birmingham – not Detroit but biggish.
Overall CFB is a local sport which probably goes a long way in explaining it’s popularity. It’s just another trait that makes this sport great. Neither team here is recruiting on the national scale of USC or forward slash “S” Sparty .
Here’s a US map with push pins of the known scholarship guys who signed LOIs plus Kovacs. With a few exceptions (notably and significantly Florida) it’s a north south battle royale.
Here’s a breakdown of guys on the roster by class to see Alabama’s trends given their National Championship runs and Michigan’s distribution given our recent coaching change.
Michigan shows Pahokee nights and Detroit days, while there is only a small signal with Alabama of a wider recruiting stamp given the recent success.
Here’s the same chart with all the crucible of recruited athletes that made up the current team.
Comparing these two charts says to me Alabama did not haul in out of town talent who have since left. This is a similar team in a geographic sense to the crucible of players that has made them.
If anything these charts showcase the regional expertise and interest of the coaching staff as well as the inherent location of the schools in general. Alabama won their NCs with largely southern talent (with notable exceptions like Ingram) and will be an almost exclusive southern team come September. Hoke as well is getting it done with more local kids. Most of his guys from the west coast are kids he had a relationship with at SDSU.
Michigan is a tale of two coaches with respect to recruiting… here’s a chart showing within class adjusted for redshirts.
Here’s the 1000+ mile club for Michigan’s upperclassmen…RR guys.
Here’s the 1000+ guys from the lowerclassmen…Hoke guys except for Ash.
Here’s the same distance to campus data with respect to position…
Our TEs are home grown but otherwise we range fairly evenly across all positions (except kickers thanks to Wile and Gibbons.) Bama is fairly constant as well by positions and relatively more local. Here’s the same data for the walk ons.
It surprised me that their walk-ons would be even slightly more traveled than Mich. I don’t think that is significant though. More interesting is the fact that they have LB walkons and we don’t. I thought about that and decided to look at walk-ons by position to gauge their fit vs. team need.
This analysis by class includes current walk-ons which as I learned in doing these diaries can screw up your data when you are too lazy to go back and research who those guys are/were. This is kind of where I left that off in the other diary.
Alabama’s walk-ons are evenly spread by position (if you breakout DBs and safeties together.) Michigan’s walk-on class complements the holes in the team roster. I’m going to be interested in seeing if any special teamers are walk-on guys for Bama. Here’s a distribution chart showing the breakdown of each team by position with the walk-ons highlighted.
Talking about walk-ons is a signal of the differences here in teams. The Tide doesn’t need any walk-on help. Mich does or at most will need Frosh to play. There are perhaps reasons Bama has more walk-ons on the spring roster (it can pay to have played for the Tide in the long run for the sake of your heirs – I doubt we will see a Sons of Saban scholarship fund – who knows) but as we saw in Pt2 they had a large contingent of EEs show up and a couple significant JUCOs to make up for NFL and normal attrition. The non EEs will show up in the fall and squash the Tides walk-ons when they cut to 105. Michigan doesn't have that issue as seen in Pt 1.
This is about as much as you can tell from looking at the rosters. The sub-plots that underlie these bullets are discussion worthy but I do have a bunch of more odd/interesting takes from the Rivals/Roster mash.
Here’s the number of videos posted on Rivals per Star.
I posted the summary analysis just because this is so off the wall. What I was looking at was if the southern talent was treated differently by Rivals. This shows a similar treatment if just in the number of videos posted per star.
HUGEtractsofland asked for a speed breakdown in Pt1. Rivals data for 40 times is sparse but I pulled it and showed it. Here it is again by position.
Here it is by roster…again this is sparse and fakey… just showing the available data in chart form. We all know how fast the SEC is (/s).
The breakdown does show a faster OL for Mich. Again this is ridiculous stuff but I do think we have a good OL that is going to get undersold to Bamas NFL like talent.
Here’s BMI vs speed for both teams…
You get the idea… Lewan and Schofield are Oregonesque in their proportion but perhaps they are more light of feet than the Tide’s OTs.
76 or 77 – which do you think will go higher in the draft?
Enough said about rosters. Ultimately this series of diaries shows that September can’t come soon enough.
FF410: 2012 Spring Game Breakdown - RB Pass Plays - Day 4
In the past I broke down 13 of DG’s pass plays (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). This included my reaction about how DG and the offense performed, the idea or theory behind the offensive play, and how the defense performed. This helped me get a much better feel for how DG is actually improving and allowed me to evaluate his performance considering the performance of those around him.
Today, we will take a look at how Russell Bellomy performed. Note that it is sometimes difficult to determine the routes and defense being run due to tight camera angles, but I will do my best to grasp what I think is happening. I will once again be taking a look at all of the pass plays, and separate them into 2 separate days. Today, we will take a gander at the first 5 pass plays.
Play 14 – 0:00
The defense appears to be running a cover 0 look out of a their normal over 4-3 look and a safety coming down to help against the run.
Bellomy makes the right read (a fairly easy one), as he sees the DBs drop back into their soft coverage. His footwork looks good and he looks comfortable, and I think the short throw is really a matter of arm strength more so than any fundamental problem (he could get a little more push off his back foot, but that’s about it).
The design of the play and the theory behind it are going to look very familiar to readers of the previous days. The slot is running a corner route and the outside receiver a dig with the idea or running a high low on the corner. As the corner drops, Bellomy knows his play is to the dig route.
On the backside you see a post run. This is designed to do a double move on the boundary corner and get behind the man and into the deep middle of the field. This is to take advantage of teams cheating on the corner route with their safety by hitting the area of the field they vacate. You will seldom see the QB have the time/patience to go through his progression and hit this receiver, but that is the idea behind that route. The route is run well. Note that the boundary corner doesn’t bite hard on the initial slant as he sees the play running away from him (a QB won’t roll opposite a slant route). When the WR sees that the corner didn’t bite and still is step for step with him, he breaks his post a bit more shallow to take advantage of the intermediate zone being open.
The SAM is a little late diagnosing the play. His initial responsibility is leverage and FB coverage, but he could turn and get to the boundary quicker than he does. The outcome of the play isn’t affected because of a poor pass, and the play would have picked up yards regardless due to the design of the defense, but you would like to see the SAM closer to the man as he catches the ball, and preferably that corner as well, though being out on an island the primary responsibility is not to get beat deep.
[More after the jump]
There's been some complaints recently on the message board about how BTN always shows the same cycle of classic Michigan games. Last year's games against Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio. A game from the 1997 season. An old Rose Bowl. Some original programming to top it off.
Someone speculated that lots of people go into the decision-making process for these games, from network execs to AD's. Obviously, some games are probably off the list to be shown.
This is one of those games.
Going into the tail end of the 1999 season, Michigan was looking like a team for the ages. Despite two mid-season losses, the Wolverines were in the process of ending the season strong, at 4-2 in the conference and 8-2 overall. Senior quarterback Tom Brady and Anthony Thomas led the offense, with Dhani Jones and Rob Renes on D.
Penn State, on the other hand, was going into their final home game reeling. After starting the season 9-0, Minnesota upset the Nittany Lions on the last play of their game, leaving Happy Valley with a huge upset. Still, Penn State was in the hunt for a Big Ten championship, making their game against Michigan one of 1999's last big matchups. Penn State and Wisconsin were the Big Ten's leaders, with Michigan closely behind. This game would essentially knock someone out of the race for a championship, and possibly a BCS appearance as well.
Of course, despite all of these circumstances surrounding the game, there was another subplot that factored heavily into ABC's coverage. This game was Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky's last home game, making the TV coverage Jerry Sandusky-themed. That's right. It's a Jerry Sandusky-themed broadcast.
Needless to say, the Big Ten won't be taking this game for a visual victory lap any time soon.
Watch and enjoy. The first half is in the first link, the second half is in the second. And as always, go Blue.