NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Preview
So, one day Michigan will be in the field of 18 Division 1 teams in the NCAA tournament. But that day is not today. Sadly, five years into their D-1 tenure, they are nowhere near this stage. In fact, they seem to be going backwards: after winning five games last season, they only won three in 2016. In an Inside Lacrosse preview of Michigan’s tilt with archrival Ohio State earlier this year, analyst and broadcaster Quint Kessenich put it perfectly:
Michigan (3-7) lacrosse has found the Division I landscape to be tough terrain. Hail to the victors has no marquee wins. The Wolverines are (0-25) all-time against the Top 20 and (15-52) after five seasons. The sport would benefit greatly if Michigan was a Top 10 team.
I hate to agree with Quint Kessenich but he’s right. I think if Michigan was kicking ass at this point they would likely be attracting the attention of mgobloggers and casual fans alike.
Alas - one day they’ll be in it - but who knows when that will be. Until then, we can only try to enjoy a Michigan-less NCAA tournament. So, for all the mgoblog lacrosse nerds on here and all those who are curious about the sport, here’s a preview of this year’s tournament:
The Division 1 tournament is in its 46th year and there are a lot of new, or at least seldom-seen, faces in the field. Here’s the bracket. It all starts this Saturday and Sunday with the Round of 16 and all games are televised on the ESPN family of networks, including the Final 4 and National Championship Game which are played over Memorial Day weekend. The tournament’s winner’s circle is a freaking impregnable citadel of traditional powers that has proven notoriously difficult for outside programs to penetrate. The previous 45 national championships have been won by a total of ten teams. And it’s rare that teams outside of this group even make it to the Final 4. But, 2016 could be different: the game was defined by parity this year and hopefully someone new like Air Force or Albany can crash the party. I’m not crazy about the matchups, though, and it’s very possible we could end up with a Syracuse-Hopkins-Duke-ND Final 4 which would make me very sad.
The Maryland Terrapins come into the postseason as the #1 overall seed, riding an insane 13 game winning streak. They haven’t lost a game since March 5th and the closest they came to a loss was, ironically, an 8-7 win at Michigan in a snowy Big House last month. The Terps, who are Big Ten champs, frequently make the Final 4 and even the championship game but end up getting wiped out, essentially making them the Buffalo Bills of the college lacrosse world. They haven’t won it all since 1975, which is crazy when you stop and think about it. The Terps are coached by the brilliant John Tillman and as always they have a great goalie and defense. A championship would be a first for the Big Ten.
Notre Dame spent much of the season as the #1 team in the country and with good reason. They have a tremendous defense and have two offensive superstars: humongous Sergio Perkovic and pint-sized Matt Kavanagh. And they’re one of only two teams to beat Maryland this year. Despite tons of recent success, though, the Irish haven’t cracked that national championship winner’s circle yet. But this could be their year.
Defending national champs Denver are a huge threat to win it again. The Pioneers are coached by legend Bill Tierney who led Princeton to six national titles in the 1990s and early 2000s. Last year, Denver became the first team west of the Mississippi and outside of the sport’s traditional areas to take home a national championship. Denver took care of most of its schedule fairly easily this year, including a solid W over the #1 Irish in March. Unlike his Princeton teams, however, Tierney’s Denver squads are much more fun to watch thanks to a number of Canadians on offense and an unbelievable face-off man.
Brown and Yale suddenly found themselves heated rivals atop the Ivy League this year. They are both programs on the rise but with contrasting styles. Brown leads the country in scoring offense - posting more than 16 goals a game, while Yale is #6 in scoring defense. While Brown had a penchant for sprinting away from its opponents (including a 22-8 pasting of Michigan), Yale often had to claw its way back for victories. Last month, Brown edged Yale 14-12 in a highly-anticipated and exciting regular season game. Unfortunately, the two are in adjacent brackets and will likely play each other in the second round with a spot in the semis on the line. Whoever gets through could take the whole thing.
Traditional powers Syracuse, Hopkins and Duke still lurk in the background. They had relatively down seasons but are always dangerous in the tournament. Syracuse snuck up to win the ACC and finish #4 in the country but got stuck with a #8 seed. I would like to see these teams get bounced early, especially because they seem to have made it over more deserving squads and were blessed with favorable first round matchups. Thank God Virginia didn’t make it at least. And if you need a reason to root against Hopkins, Coach Dave Pietramala is close buddies with human creep Bill Belichick.
UNC has a good chance to make its long-awaited return this year. They crushed Michigan in the first game of the season and finished 8-6 with wins over Denver and Hopkins. While UNC is considered a blue-blood, I wouldn’t mind seeing them in the Final 4 for a change. They haven’t been in a while and they have a big fan base and nationwide appeal. Despite winning multiple championships in the 80s and 90s, the Heels haven’t been back to championship weekend since 1993.
Albany. When I did this preview last year, I said to root against the game’s blue bloods (i.e. Syracuse, Hopkins, etc.) and pull for fun “new” teams like Albany. Although the supremely talented Thompson Trio, two brothers and a cousin from the Iroquois Nation, graduated, the Great Danes don’t seem to have lost a step. They were downright red hot down the stretch this year, taking out top-10 teams like Yale and Stony Brook, before falling to Hartford in their conference tournament. But, for all their hard work the selection committee rewarded them with a first round matchup against big brother Syracuse, a team that beat them in the season opener. I always pull for Albany because they have Canadians, Native Americans and tons of New York State public school kids and they’re all ballers. The Great Danes are fun as hell to watch and I would LOVE to see them in the championship in Philly on Memorial Day. Same goes for any team that hasn’t won a title before - Air Force, Navy, Towson, Quinnipiac. Even Marquette.
Marquette. The Golden Eagles are a relatively new program and occupy the exact position that Michigan should be in. They beat a bunch of good teams this year and finished 11-4 and somehow got themselves a #6(!) seed and a first round matchup with UNC. I would kill for this to be Michigan instead.
Players to Watch:
M Sergio Perkovic & A Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame. Perkovic and Kavanagh are ND’s version of thunder and lightning. Perkovic is a Detroit native and former football star at Brother Rice who can run over people and shoot. Long Islander Matt Kavanagh (from my hometown!) is a quick little dude who can run circles around defenders and is living proof you don’t have to be big to be a star in lacrosse. The duo combined for a total of 73 points this year.
G Blaze Riorden, Albany. Riorden is one of the top goalies in the country, stopping an average of 12.67 shots per game. He plays for offense for the Akwesasne Tribe’s indoor team and his skills were on display in this amazing Fat Guy Goalie goal in the NCAA tournament last year.
F/O Trevor Baptiste, Denver. Baptiste was on this list last year and he’ll be on it for the next two years. He’s a phenomenal face-off man, ranking #4 in the nation in percentage and #1 in the nation in GBs, sucking up more than 10 loose balls per game. He is an incredible advantage for the Pioneers.
A Dylan Molloy, A Kylo Bellistri, LSM, Larken Kemp, Brown. Molloy and Bellistri pace Brown’s scoring machine and this year they put in 56 and 55 goals respectively, making them #3 and #4 in the nation. Molloy also added 50 dimes, making him the country’s assist leader. Larken Kemp is among the nation’s leaders in ground balls and forced turnovers (my kind of player!) and he is key to Brown’s lightning-fast transition game.
Others: A Ryan Brown Hopkins, A Shack Stanwick, Hopkins, F/O Ben Williams, Syracuse, D Chris Keating, Yale, M Myles Jones, Duke, D Matt Rees, Navy, A Connor Cannizzaro Denver, G Kyle Bernlohr, Maryland, D Matt Landis Notre Dame, A Ben Reeves, Yale.
Should be an interesting tournament. Enjoy! One day I’ll previewing Michigan - Go Blue!
May 1 – Monday
The NFL draft happened over the past week and apparently the ‘M’ blogosphere is in a panic because only three players were taken, especially in comparison to many Buckeyes drafted. Brian says don’t worry about this; be rational. This could be a good mission statement for the blog:
This space strives to be reasonably balanced about all things largely because relentless neg- or pos-itivity is almost always irrational and therefore infuriating; I find this desire places me in the 95th percentile of Michigan (Internet) fans on the Pollyanna scale. I find this extraordinarily annoying.
May 2 – Tuesday
This appears to the first use of the MGoMailbag. This edition addresses the use of Carlos Brown. Will he play on defense or offense?
Ah Michigan football in 2006, when our biggest concern could be laughing at ridiculous, middle-aged, Notre Dame fans dancing during a tailgate. I think we’ve lost some innocence since then.
May 3 – Wednesday
Hello from Martell Webb. Reported that he wants to be a WR.
Here is a look back at Rivals top 50 from 2002. Brian rates each player based on college performance and determines that their rankings were fairly accurate. Top 5 were: Vince Young, Haloti Ngata, Lorenzo Booker, Ben Olson, and Reggie McNeal.
May 4 – Thursday
Recruiting Board Update. Brandon Saine has likely committed to the Buckeyes. This is surprising news.
May 8 – Monday
Hello from Epke Udoh. This is sort of prophetic:
Oklahoma post Epke Udoh has committed to Tommy Amaker and the star-crossed Michigan basketball program. Normally this would be grounds for massive skepticism and cynical jokes about his decommit ETA, but he's actually signed a letter of intent so the chances of that are slim.
May 9 – Tuesday
Ben Huff died. If I knew this at the time, I didn’t remember it. I mainly remember Huff for being one of those players who seemed like he was around forever (I think this was due to getting a 6th year, but I could be wrong).
A round up of hockey news. Trevor Lewis continues to impress.
May 10 – Wednesday
The Pistons are up 2-0 on the Cavs, and Brian is losing his mind. Looking back, I think of these as the frustrating years after the championship, but I forget how good this team continued to be. I guess they were frustrating because they were so good, but couldn’t get to the finals again. Also, Brian loves the TNT studio show (which is amazingly still going 10 years later):
More Barkley: "I took some good players over to Europe to play, and he [Dirk Nowitski] dropped 50 on us.... so I ask him 'How old are you' and he says '19' so I tell him 'I'll give you any amount of money in the world if you go to Auburn"
Kenny Smith: "Isn't that cheating?"
Charles Barkley: "We're in the SEC, if you aren't cheatin, you ain't tryin. We got Alabama, Georgia, Florida..."
May 11 – Thursday
Unverified Voracity: Hockey Drinking looks at how the new NHL is doing in the playoffs, specifically the Oilers-Sharks series. Also, there are plans to expand the student section, move the band back into the student section, and possibly…add microphones on the band so it can be heard throughout the stadium.
Recruiting Board Update with a Boubacar Cissko mention!
May 12 – Friday
Jerimy Finch says ‘M’ is his school of choice, and he looks like a great prospect to pick up.
Unverified Voracity: My Name is Bill Rock features the results of a caption contest of a no-longer-existing picture of Bill Laimbeer and Kid Rock. Also, Finch did indeed commit, though he’s going to take other visits and there is a small chance the commitment won’t stick (spoiler: it doesn’t).
May 15 – Monday
Unverified Voracity: links to a MSU preview. The prediction is 6-5, like normal.
May 16 – Tuesday
After winning the first two games, the Pistons have lost two in Cleveland. Defense isn’t a problem, but the offense is struggling.
May 17 – Wednesday
Brian will be gone to NYC.
May 22 – Monday
The Pistons finish off the Cavs, holding them to only 61 points.
· I continue to insist that Tayshaun Prince is one of the most underrated players in the league. He was probably the best player the Pistons had over the course of the series; in game seven he was killing the Cavs everywhere he went. Flip Murray couldn't check toast and got abused; Lebron ate a few layups, and whatever Prince missed he rebounded. Carmelo? Whatever.
I know the Darko pick will forever be seen as one of the worst ever, but that pick in light of what Dumars knew he had in Prince (and the faith in him), makes sense. I wouldn’t trade the ’04 championship and the following conference title round run for several years of a malcontent Carmelo (tough in hindsight I would have traded that 3rd pick for parts that could have furthered the run).
May 23 – Tuesday
Brian recaps all he’s missed the in the last week or so. Of note ten years later, the regents have approved Bill Martin’s plan for stadium renovation.
May 24 - Wednesday
May 25 – Thursday
Posts mainly about videos that longer work ten years later are mysterious.
May 26 – Friday
Bullets from the Pistons’ game, though no mention of what the score was. And yes this was written ten years ago, not three months ago after a certain ‘M’ basketball game.
· We all know ESPN is violent death as a sports broadcast, but really, that awful camera angle with the sliding camera that's way too close to see the corners and at an angle in which you can't understand anyone's movement is beyond even my expectations for their stupidity. As King Kaufman always says, "show the game."
May 29 – Monday
The Pistons lost to the Heat and are now down 2-1 in the Conference Finals. Interesting ideas about judgement over knowledge in making good decisions. Brian sides with judgement.
Prince struggles against Walker like he does against most players who are 50 pounds heavier than him. None of this makes any sense. Gladwell sounds the bell for the sports fan who can't believe how... why... aaargh:
The point is that knowledge and the ability to make a good decision correlate only sporadically, and there are plenty of times when knowledge gets in the way of judgement.
It's a cold comfort.
May 30 – Tuesday
I hate this losing stuff on a variety of levels, but since people actually started reading this thing the worst part is having to sit down and not call for assassinations. I try to keep an artificially even keel when things are in progress but going badly; when the need for a post-mortem arises one shall be given. This is not that time. Yet.
Unfortunately, Brian would be able to hone his skill of writing post-mortems in the coming years.
May 31 – Wednesday
The second half of Brian’s answers from a roundtable with Burnt Orange Nation.
Your head coach comes down with a mystery illness and has to step aside. You get to hand pick the replacement for the 2006 season. Who gets your vote?
Spurrier. Not only would Spurrier bring his frenetic offensive game, hilarious comments directed at opposing coaches, and visor, but he would probably cause noted anti-luxury-box crusader John Pollack's head to explode, Total Recall-style. I have nearly as much of a mancrush on Spurrier as the lads at EDSBS, and seeing phosphorus and water get together could be... wait for it... explosive. H!IKM*
All the high profile prospects for '16 are already signed (with a few exceptions UM has no contact with). It stands to reason that anyone Michigan adds to the '16 class will be a multi-year project or a low-upside role player.
Or does it? Let's look at Beilein's late spring recruits* to see what we might expect (assuming the two available scholarships aren't used by grad transfers or walk-ons).
- Max Bielfeldt (committed 3/6/11) - Stolen from various mid-majors (and eventually, after Michigan offered, Illinois), Max was a 6'7 C who took 2-3 years of development before becoming a useful bench player. Ended up the primary option at C (due to attrition) by his senior year on a bad team before excelling as a bench player (at Indiana). Still a great success on the part of Beilein to turn an undersized mid-major talent into a valuable rotation player in the Big Ten.
- Spike Albrecht (committed 4/6/12) - prep schooler stolen from App State (revenge is ours!) was added during the panic to replace Trey Burke (before Burke decided to come back) thanks in part to his AAU connections (McGary, Robinson, Bielfeldt) in Indiana. Turned into a charismatic and unflappable fan favorite. Like Bielfeldt, he ended up starting on a bad team but was better suited to be a backup. Highly effective in that role and, assuming health, seems destined for success in a grad year situation that better fits what he offers.
- Caris Levert (committed 5/11/12) - young 6'4 late bloomer stolen from Ohio blossomed into a 1st round NBA pick. Developed faster and further than anyone could have hoped. Early intentions for a red-shirt were scrapped once Caris proved to be better than more veteran bench players. Beilein's ultimate "diamond in the rough".
- Muhammed Ali Abdur-Rahkman (committed 4/17/14) - prep schooler stolen from mid majors. Scouting report praised his driving skills but noted limited perimeter skills. Despite the uptick in 3% and reduced turnovers that view has largely held true. Yet MAAR's already an excellent role player and improvement from freshman to sophomore year is encouring for his future. Clearly a success for Beilein as MAAR's proven to be a valuable starter on an NCAA tournament team.
- Aubrey Dawkins (committed 4/28/14) - prep schooler stolen from Dayton after he couldn't get into Stanford. Considered a 3&D wing player who lacked guard skills beyond shooting and dunking. Surpassed expectations in some ways (occasional starter as a freshman turned into a 6th man who had the best 3-point shooting on the team in Big Ten play over the last 2 years) and disappointed in others (D was awful even for an underclassmen). Didn't reach his substantial potential at Michigan, but will still be playing college ball in 2019(!).
Beilein has had fantastic success and production from his late additions. That's reason for optimism. None came with any accolodes. All were overlooked by major programs. All became valuable contributors in one way or another. From the scrap heap Beilein's gotten an excellent backup PG, a scoring SG, an impact 2-way wing, and 3-point shooting specialist. All in their freshman year. Beilein's used older prep school kids capable of contributing immediately and he's grabbed young (for their class) projects with upside.
Whoever Beilein gets, they'll probably be a solid contributor, at worst, and they may very well help right away. I'd rather get a grad transfer for '16-17 if given the choice, but have to respect to the track record.
*Novak, Horford**, Wilson and Wagner were added pretty late in the cycle too (recruiting began in Fall or Winter) but there's a significant difference between committing late and beginning your recruitment in Spring, only weeks before graduation. Robin Benzig was another Spring signing but he was supposed to sit a year. All of them also panned out in one way or another (pending whatever Wilson will do), though not always for Michigan.
**The examples of Horford and Bielfeldt (not to mention Donnal) should be all you need to be patient with Wagner, Wilson, Teske, and Davis. Beilein's bigs tend to be a lot better as upperclassmen, if they make it that far.
EDIT: I forgot Colton Christian. Adjust Beilein's Spring "batting average" to 5/6.
LOOKING BACK ON MY “EPISODE”
This is not a sports-related diary per se, but I am posting this because it was a sports blog that helped me get through what might be termed my first official “health scare” back in December, and it occurred to me that I never properly thanked everyone for the kindness and support that was shown during what was a rather rough and eye-opening week in my life.
If you’re interested in the details, feel free to continue reading. The basic lesson that I will throw out there is this – if it isn’t going away, you probably need to see someone about it (i.e., a medical professional) as soon as humanly possible.
I developed a rather nasty cold sometime in the last half of October last year, and like most colds, it persisted for a week or so and then went on its way. Well, not completely on its way – the cough persisted, but I am in my late 30s and still on the cusp of athlete shape most everywhere on me, so I didn’t even consider that to be a problem…yet.
In early November, I went to the urgent care in Canton for the first time – they gave me a cough suppressant, wrote it off as bronchitis and told me that I should probably see improvement in 10-14 days. This was after an hour or so of waiting and exams, so I walked out of there with a prescription and, for a time, the cough got better, but of course that wasn’t the problem now.
A few days before Thanksgiving, the cough came back in force, this time with pink eye and a runny nose, the former being something I had not had since fourth grade even with a house full of kids that had conjunctivitis recently. That was rather strange, but I soldiered through this. By now, however, I was sleeping with my upper torso elevated because it was the only way I was getting relief. Still, I had hopes that this was just a cough.
In the early part of December, I started to notice some swelling in my feet, swelling that I could not associate with the chronic inflammation of tendons that I experience down there anyway. We’re six weeks into this by now and this might have been the first time I was truly flummoxed. Edema – class 2 edema – will do that at my age, because it shouldn’t even be a thing at my age. My primary care physician prescribes a diuretic and a BP med, which again help for a while.
As December wore on, however, I start actually listening to what people are saying about me – mainly about my loss of weight (15 pounds from about Halloween at that juncture) and my ashen appearance, which I think I might have been in denial about. Yes, the cough persisted, and was getting steadily worse. The weekend before Christmas is when this all came crashing down on me.
I was at a family party on the 19th of December, where I made it memorable by hacking up enough fluid to build a lung and then hacking up everything that I had eaten in the driveway. That came before the night of exactly zero sleep, where my coughing actually led to a noise complaint at the Dundee Quality Inn. At 10:30 AM on Sunday, December 20th, my wife – who was tired of me trying to bargain with myself that this was something I could conquer alone – basically threw me into the car and carted me to St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor.
It was in that emergency room that I first began to realize that, no, it wasn’t a cough. More to the point, it might have been a cough, but it was now something very different. I got the feeling I might be in for an adventure when I was carted right to the acute rooms after a brief look at my vitals. On to the monitors I went, and if the tachycardia and ultra-high blood pressure weren’t jarring enough, the chest x-ray, the left side of which was opaque, was downright frightening.
“This is not normal.”, said the ER physician.
A very frightened me said, “Yes, I get that.”
My right lung was about ¾ full of….something. I also had a heart which was now a smidge larger than it should have been. Both bad, of course.
More tests. CT scans and what seemed like 100 blood panels. Nothing else terribly amiss other than the heart and lung. In the haze of talk and machines, I may have missed a detail here and there, but at about 3:00 PM, they came in with the equipment to basically drain me. So that is what I signed off on, eh? I can’ remember. Whatever.
For those that have not had the pleasure of having a tube inserted into a lung, it is relatively minor and painless thanks to the very powerful local that they give you. Being just loopy enough to be aware of your surroundings is an interesting experience too. A little pressure and a poke and you are now hooked to a plastic box with a liter or so of capacity.
My right lung began draining almost immediately – a brown, sometimes reddish fluid. A good thing in the sense that it gave them the impression that my immune system had won, but at a rather significant cost. Anyway, one liter…then two….then three. It took about five minutes to get three liters of this shit out of me. They stopped it intentionally, in fact, with a valve down at the top of the container. More than enough to test.
It was pretty evident I was going to be spending some time in the hospital at this point, of course. About an hour after that rather horrific look inside me, I was in a room watching TV and waiting for doctors to tell me what my next few days would be like.
From my days when I was heavy into neuropsychology, I gained some – a tiny bit – of medical knowledge out of necessity. So when they began to throw “cardiomyopathy” and “pleural effusion” around, I got the message rather clearly and began to feel a combination of relief and anger – anger at myself. Just a cough indeed, Lorne. A few more days and this was an ICU-worthy offense, if you will. They were very clear about that part.
My life in the short term changed right then and there – the hospital diet was a low-sodium diet, the thoracic and cardio specialists came in shifts to talk treatment and future. Among some of the more interesting things that were done to me in the name of eliminating causes were a catheterization, which yielded nothing but compliments about the clear nature of my arteries, a procedure where I got shot up with something to accelerate the drainage of fluid from my lung and got turned like a rotisserie chicken in the process and an echo of my legs, which yielded the startling finding that my veins are of a healthy size.
Furosimide took care of the edema at this point, which all but vanished inside a few days. One thing about that – peeing became a temporary hobby. A good sign, but extremely inconvenient. The potassium pills were as close to literal horse pill as you can get too. Take them with food? They are food unto themselves. By the third day in the hospital, I was free of equipment and able to walk without having to give a nurse 15 minutes warning. I walked around that ward – Floor 2 East – and saw people much worse off than I. The feeling was one of humility and thankfulness, or rather, I was humbled by the notion that some of these cases could have been me, but thankful that the one thing that might have saved me from more serious problems is being 38 and fit.
I was finally able to go home at about 10:30 AM on Christmas Day. For the first time in my entire life, I had spent Christmas Eve alone. Worse, I spent it in a hospital room surrounded by people who, in one or two cases, might not even leave that hospital alive, or so I gathered from the chatter I could hear. The most I could do was turn on the single strand of lights that my mother-in-law put up and watch “A Christmas Story” on the grainy reception of Room 231.
I went back to work two followup appointments later – on January 20th. I spent a month basically tooling around my house in a rather depressed state, but somehow a wiser one. I still suffer from the effects of all this, at least a little bit – my wife lords over my physical activity like a hawk to this day and I am on some of the medications right now. I have another followup in June and one more echocardiogram. My ejection fraction is still a bit south of normal, so no booze and the diet remains for the time being. I have experienced what for a younger person is a radical life shift, even if it is ultimately temporary. I felt everything – fear, self-hatred, relief and so on – sometimes in the span of hours.
That brings me to what I wanted to say here – one thing that did get me through this was MGoBlog. I may not have been terribly active on it for about a week or so there, but I was reading and laughing and shaking my fist in anger at various threads right along with everyone else. The thread about my hospitalization – which was unprompted – was a very touching display of support, one I printed out and still have on the wall of my home office. In a time when I was despairing a bit, this place helped me out.
It is a bit belated, but I did want to thank everyone for that. I like you, even if your thread makes me want to put my head through the fucking wall.
2016 Coaches Clinic- The best of the rest (as boiled down as possible).
Coach Hoffman, St. Joe's Montvale, N.J. and Coach Tyrell, Arkon Hoban, gave talks on running power.
Running power: Formation is key. You want lots of looks even if the basics of the play is the same.
Dress it up with motion. You need a nasty attitude. Get vertical as quickly as possible off blocks and as the running back hitting the hole. Double teams must kick ass at point of attack and if they do then on many plays designed to get 4-5 yards you can just forget blocking the LB as you will have 2-3 yards before he can get to the running back behind the double team. A good fullback is essential. If you are running one back then TE is crucial. If you are basically a power team you must still run some zone read as it forces your opponent to prepare for it. It helps to get an extra receiver outside the box as it forces a LB out of the box. Tail back must have patience on off tackle plays to let blocks develop and may even need to take a first step back to get the timing right. Pull two on sweeps.
Juan Castillo Ravens O line coach
Pass Blocking: I have attended the last seven UM coaches clinics and, in my opinion, this was the most clearly explained technique session ever. Each of the pass blocking techniques was shown on film as the drills were being done by the Ravens OL at practice. He then showed game film of the O line using these same techniques in game situations. He left me believing I could coach pass blocking technique to any young player. I certainly wish that someone had taught me these techniques when I was playing center in high school. I wish I could show you his talk on film. Below is my best attempt to do in words what he demo'd in person then showed in filed drills and then game tape. Wow!
You require these drills for ½ hour every practice as muscle memory is a must. Each drill must reflect what happens in the actual game. Use game film to show the technique and how these techniques relate to success and failure.
Body position is key: head up, shoulders back, hands in front of chest. Ar the snap, the lineman steps back at 45 degrees with the outside foot and re-square by quickly dragging the inside foot back to re-square. One foot on the ground at all times. Do it over and over to build muscle memory. Have the linemen hold a sand bag while doing it to keep hands centered and arms up and strong. The punch technique is important. Punch up and with elbows in and the hands punch into opponents armpits as this makes it harder to knock hands away. Hands can switch a bit higher and lower to avoid being knocked away. You must work on timing the punch at the best distance to get the best effect and must work on replacing the hands if they get knocked away. The the hand replacement move should circular, up or down and around the defensive opponents arm that knocked the hand away to be quickly replaced back to the arm pit. Practice mirror drills to keep separation without leaning in which allows the defensive lineman to throw you down or off balance. Practice mirroring and hand placement on spin moves as well. Against a bull rush, hop back with both feet and sink the hips to get leverage.
Mark Trestman Ravens OC and Mike Martz (past Rams head coach) spoke on QB play
Trestman -“A good coach needs three things: a patient wife, a loyal dog, and a great QB.”
QB must engage and embrace adversity, show humility in success, be the point of interconnection for all the players throughout the game, serve the team and expect and ask nothing in return. QB must be willing to listen to coaches and fellow players. The attitude is that we are better together. QB must be obsessive about drills. He must be relentless, demanding, detailed and creative and always want what is best for the team.
During the game job #1 is to protect the football. This means obsessively drilling on the technique of the center exchange, protecting the ball on the way to hand off, protecting the ball in the confines of the pocket, understanding how to locate the ball when passing to avoid interceptions, protecting the ball exiting the pocket and outside the pocket when scrambling.
Must practice with the back up center as well using real play calls and action. He must know the run sets and blocking scheme and the strengths and weaknesses of his O line. He must practice steps and drops and must know the course of the running back on the way to hand offs. Drops must be precise. QB must know the pass protection used by the D and the routes of his receivers.
He must learn to find a quiet spot in the chaos of the pocket. He must know what to do if a lineman misses a block, if there is a front side or back side blitz and if the wide receiver blows his route. QB must have courage to stand in and throw knowing he will get hit. He must know how to take a hit to avoid injury. The ball is held with two hands in the pocket with the tip of the ball at the bottom of the neck and never below the waist. Must practice movement in the pocket, climbing up, sliding to one side or the other and escape moves. Must protect the ball from the nearest defender. Must know when to take a sack and when to throw the ball away. Scrambles can lead to big plays but not at the expense of a turnover. Use tape as drill to make sure you are practicing the skill set that needs work to have success. Was an open receiver missed? Was the ball caught but in a bad location that did not allow for yards after catch? Avoid awkward throws or throws across the body. Coach must find drills that isolate these fundamental skills and find drills to effectively teach them and then practice these drills at game speed.
Martz- This was a session of detailed advice about QB play and impossible to summarize accurately but here goes:
Stance- Slight stagger helps to get first step back on pass and easier to turn to running back on runs or play action. Knees slight bent and head and eyes up to check coverage and for check offs related to defensive set.
Hands- Under center with index finger of throwing hand right up the crack of the center and heels of the hands with slight pressure together to keep the snap from separating the hands as this could lead to fumbled snap. Pass grip should be with palm slight off the ball and knuckles angled down. Carry the ball back with two hands with the ball over the sternum, tip down and shoulder relaxed and elbows tucked hands in tight to reduce the risk of getting the ball stripped. Never have the ball below the belt buckle.
Cadence- QB must practice this and can use clap drills with linemen clapping together at snap count. Hand offs- QB should bring the ball back from the snap at his belt buckle. Punch the ball into the target with eyes on the target all the way through the hand off. Settle and slow down just a little to get the ball to the target.
Toss plays- The toss should be dead ball with no spin and let the running back run through the football to get it.
Traps- QB must rotate the hip a bit more to get legs out of the way
Draws- Keep eyes down field and the drop must be the same as any other passing play.
Play action- Put the fake hand into the running back like a hand off and let the RB turn the QB back open ready to pass.
Drops and throws- 3 step is 4 yards deep and use for pass of 4-6 yard up field. Finish with feet apart and slight knee bend and weight slightly loaded on the back leg and the back toe and hip slightly rotated out as you start the throw. The shoulder should be parallel and turn the belly button to the target with the throw. If throwing left or right, get the belly button left or right. 5 step drop is 6 yards deep and use for pass of 10-12 yards. Deep ball and play action uses a 7 step drop and never any more than 9 yards deep. Hitch with the feet to buy time with the weight centered. Must not tip direction with hips or body on the drop. The come out should always be the same regardless.
Against Zone- be very specific about where the ball is to be thrown and it does not fell like it is then then go to check down receiver.
Man to man- Need to know who has the best route likely to be open and make the best aggressive throw.
Deep Ball- throw early with lots of air and let the receiver run under it. The throw for best distance should be at 45 degree angle. If a defender is running with the receiver throw the ball to keep the receiver on line. Make the defender adjust.
Knowing the defenses and terminology is essential for QB. Must know what and why. You and QB must spend lots of time on this.
Throw on run- Key to arc back toward the line of scrimmage and step down toward the receiver.
Teryl Austin- DC for the Lions
Developing a Defense.
Meetings- Everyone come prepared players and coaches. Must learn a lot in as little time as possible.
Dress- Look like a team in issued or agreed upon gear. Not sloppy
Practice- Practice with speed, purpose, and precision. Be competitive but not combative. Game standards in practice. Fight and you are out. Bitch and you sit.
Off the field- Communication is key and you must be clear in all aspects as coach to player, coach to coach, and coach to staff. Better communication leads to fewer foul ups and fewer hard feelings. Teachers need to know about your expected behavior standards for the players and your desire to have them communicate with you about your players.
Desired player traits- Look for toughness, football smarts, a great motor, production, and the right size and speed for the position.
Team traits= B.E.T.A.
Body language- Demonstrate team togetherness and encouragement only. Do not show negatives.
Effort- Best effort at all activities: classroom, weight room, training room and field
Timely- Be punctual and ready to work.
Attitude- This determines success. Ask where else would you rather be? Devalue stars. You are only as good as the whole team. Everyone has a role from scout team to special teams to the best player. Each person is integral and you need to find a role for every player and make sure they see their importance to the team.
Proper technique-Allows players to rely on basics no matter what the overall scheme is. You need thousands of reps on technique for every 10 plays run. Proper technique makes for efficient practices. Fewer reps and fewer repeats of plays. In games, you do not get repeats. Every practice needs at least 20-30 minutes of individual and small group work on technique.
Foster and develop leadership-this starts with the atmosphere the coach creates. Some players are just best at playing and they do not need to all be leaders. Leadership can come from anyone associated with the team and encourages and engages more players to help the team. Do not let a bad guy lead your team no matter how good a player. The past does not matter. What you do now is who you are.
Be physical and tough-Win against the guy across from you
Be smart-know your assignment, no penalties, know the scheme and game situation.
Be fundamentally sound- Play with great technique, great effort. Play fast (you can if you practice this way and are prepared). Maximum effort with a minimum of mistakes. Look for all the things you practiced in the game tape. Finish every play in practice and it will show up in the games. For example, DL runs to tough the RB on every practice play and everyone picks up every loose ball no matter how the ball got on the ground.
Game philosophy- Convey to the team the most important winning factors. Play each game, and each play like it is your last. The past does not matter. This play is what matters. Try to play to your strengths.
Defensive Goals- Best in turnover margin and best at avoiding big plays.
That's it. See you next year (maybe)!
This didn't really merit a front page post but I thought you might find it interesting. These are my notes from things we hadn't covered yet on the front page while re-watching Michigan's 2016 spring game:
-Bobby Henderson is a good blocking FB vs. the starters, and murderous vs the walk-ons. Hard to bring down too. New Kerridge right here.
-Lawrence Marshall played SDE, was technically very sound, fought to a stalemate with Mags/Bunting. A bit undersized but looks useable in a Pierre Woods sort of way.
-Grant Newsome looked worse than he did live. Taco ate his lunch. Carlo Kemp (playing WDE) ate his lunch. Reuben Jones (playing SDE) ate his lunch. Brandon Watson(!) ate his lunch.
-(Possibly related) Braden was playing left tackle. Did okay not great against Winovich.
-Winovich Jake Ryan-style two-gapped Mags for a TFL.
-Brandon Watson looked as exploitable against Grant Perry as he didn't against Darboh et al last year.
-Isaac's cutback run where he ran past Peppers was on Mone. His other long runs were both Washington losing contain bad.
-On Butt's TD Michigan had #46 Mike Wroblewski (an ILB despite being a DE on the roster) playing free safety. Live I thought it was a pick play on Devin Bush Jr. but this was a Cov2 "safety" getting way out of position. The Shane Morris rub route got another walk-on LB, Cheyann Robertson (who was pretty bad all day) way out of position. I don't think this is something where M was hiding their answer. I think when O'Korn sees a bad linebacker in man with his crossing TE the call is that drag, and those LBs just played it exceptionally badly.
-Not counting Peppers, Mike McCray is our best LB by some distance. Very good closing speed.
-M lined up in a hurricane punt formation then motioned to the spread punt. If they yelled "ha ha fuck you cook!" while doing so the audio didn't pick it up. Later they lined up in an Ace 11 then motioned to the spread punt.
-I could watch Godin use his hands all day. I get the feeling Mattison does.
-Ulizio can't pull but he's pretty good downfield. Patrick Omameh comparison is strong. They also had him playing RT for white.
-Runyan played LG next to Braden. He did fine pretty okay against Hurst and walk-on 3-techs. (and Wheatley).
-Kugler looked fine. He made the block to get O'Korn that last scramble TD.
-Speight's walk-in TD was a bad blitz by a walk-on (Dunaway) playing Backer.
-Brown had at least 4 CB blitzes, usually with Washington. These are run blitzes.
-Mone had a play where he started in the backside A gap, shed Mason Cole and made a TFL on a power play the other way.
-White team was using Wheatley as a 3-3-5 DE. He was two-gapping against Jon Runyan and a lot of O'Korn's scrambles came from picking the other gap.
-Winnning stop on the 2pt conversion was Hurst standing up to a triple team and Winovich coming around from behind.