spoiler alert: i linked this
This summer, I found myself riding a bullet train through the French countryside on my way to Paris. I must have been the only one on the train who was wondering why it had to be traveling so fast. The reason I wanted that train to slow down was that I was reading Bo' Lasting Lessons, by Bo Schembechler and friend of the blog, John U. Bacon. Read stories about Michigan football or wander around the Louvre looking at centuries-old artistic treasures? I prefer the former.
In prior seasons, I've tried to have a recurring theme running through the diaries. The first season was based on stupid things B1G Network announcers said during games (does anyone else remember, "trash cans full of dirt?") The second season I did this, it was more of the same, but sadly, the B1G announcers didn't provide as much material. Perhaps my season 2 diaries are best characterized by having an unhealthy focus on uniformz. Last season was my own version of Memories from my Father. For this season, I picked up a few things from Bo's book and will format the diary accordingly.
But before we get to the links, (yes, I'm adding the play-by-play link because that has MOAR numbers, and if there's anything I like more than reading 43,000+ words about the upcoming season, it's numbers from actual games) let's set the scene by comparing the competitors. On one sideline, we have:
Devin and Devin
Space, bitches, space
On the other sideline, we have:
Lamb and Lamm (lambs being led to the slaughter? Yes, exactly that.)
Dada and Bobo. Say what you will about App State, their roster overflows with NOTY candidates, and I haven't even mentioned Simmsy McElfresh or Johnny Law yet. Osvaldo Sombo made a tackle. Everybody Sombo!
Trail, bitches, trail
I wore my Space t-shirt a week ago in front of my 9-year old, and realized he's not quite ready to see daddy wearing t-shirts with bad words on them. We reached a compromise. I can wear that shirt if I put masking tape over the "b-word."
* Bo treated seniors differently than the rest of the team. He gave them perks such as first class seats on flights for road games, but expected them to be leaders in return. So we'll discuss the seniors first.
* Gardner was 13 for 14 for 173 yards with 3 TDs passing and no turnovers.
* Jake Ryan's move to Mike is a work in progress, but he did have three tackles, a TFL and a QH.
* I get the feeling Frank Clark may have been trying too hard. He picked up a ridiculous penalty for jumping the shark, I mean, the shield.
* Delonte Hollowell had 1 pass break up and Ray Taylor had one tackle. The numbers weren't there, but you can't make tackles when the guys you are covering aren't targeted because they are covered well. All the DBs played really well. Jourdan Lewis was in textbook blanket coverage all afternoon.
* After not starting (lemon-time!) Desmond Morgan led the team with 6 tackles.
* Brennan Beyer had a tackle and a QH.
* Wile missed a FG from 48 yards that would have been good from 50, or 55, or 60. That kick was curving in and just needed a little more room.
* Hagerup punted once for 46 yards. I thought it had a low trajectory, possibly setting up a return, but Chesson was down there in a hurry. Chesson as a gunner is a good memory from last season.
* Joey Burzynski started. The running game really took off when Kalis replaced him. Sorry Joey, but it's true. He might be able to play B1G football at his size, but not when he's next to another smaller lineman like Miller.
* What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef. Yep, my son is still telling that joke. What do you call Michigan's rushing attack? Ground beef, at least for one game. Smith and Green are both listed at 220 pounds. They were running with more aggression to my eyes. Pick a hole and go, and they went.
* Green, Smith, Funchess, and Gardner were the stories of the game. Gardner and Funchess were expected. Getting 100+ yards each from Green and Smith was a nice surprise, considering we were missing Glasgow, starting Burzynski, and starting a true frosh at LT. Have we figured things out, or is Appy State that bad? Time will tell.
* Green had a long run of 62 and Smith had a long of 61. It was almost a, "whatever you can do, I can do better," type situation. Both were caught from behind. They may lack the home run speed of a Denard or Wheatley, but I'd be happy with a bunch of doubles and triples this season.
* I'll have to re-read Bo's lasting lessons to get the quote, but I remember him saying something about feeling good if the offense could score 24 points because he felt his defense wouldn't give up that many. Appy State scored two late, meaningless TDs.
* 26 players recorded defensive statistics, so pretty much everyone Brian wrote about in the season preview.
* I'm not really going out on a limb here by thinking the heroes of the defensive UFR are going to be Willie Henry Jr. and Jourdan Lewis. Each player only had 3 tackles, but Henry was such a disruptive presence on the line, and Lewis was running step-for-step with whoever he was matched up against.
* After last season, I thought I would spend some time looking at TFLs. I don't recall the exact numbers, but I think we averaged around 9 or 10 TFLs given up per game last season. In our first game of this season, against a weak Appalachian State defense that gave up 350 yards of rushing to Michigan and their questionable offensive line, we still gave up six TFLs. I'm aware that sentence makes no sense.
* Of the six TFLs, one was a sack and one was a pass to Canteen. So we really only had 4 of those awful TFLs from the running backs. Two of those were from Green and two were Hayes, and the combined yardage lost was only 6 yards.
* I like Green and Smith, but put me in the Smith camp for who should be the 1A. In addition to Green's 2 TFLs, he also had three carries that gained no yards. Smith's shortest run was for +2 yards. I just think Smith is a little more decisive at this point and is more likely to gain some positive yards. But it's still early. The nice thing is that it appears both are running like veterans and have left the tentative play typical of freshman behind them.
The Team, The Team, The Team
* Mike McCray blocked a punt that Ben Gedeon returned for a TD. If the LB depth chart proves to be too difficult to crack, perhaps Ben would make a good fullback. J/K.
* He's going to be good. He ran up on a punt and prevented App State from getting the frustrating extra yards from the roll.
* Peppers was covering a guy, and I thought, "Oh great, there's an 8 yard completion," only Peppers covered 4 yards before the receiver turned upfield and limited the play to four yards.
Beth MOwins School of JournAlism
* I Attended the Beth MOOOwins school of jOUrnalism this sUmmer. According to Beth, the key to doing play-by-play is to randomly Over-anunciate your vOwels. That's the key to doing a Beth MOwins imitAYtion. Just blAst the occAsional vOwel at mAx vOlume. Especially the O's, she loves her O's.
* What does Joey Galloway bring to the game besides extreme narcissism?
* Early in the game, Beth shared this surprising gem with us, Devin Funchess' jersey has the #1 on it, on the front AND the back. Amazing. All this time I thought players had different numbers on the front and back of their uniforms, the better to trick the opposition.
* Thanks to Beth for pointing out Michigan's famous Union Hall. Brought back a lot of memories. Good old Union Hall.
here is the miniprogram for the first game with roster, depth chart and future schedules. let me know if there are any comments or corrections to make.
as the new football season is about to start, THE KNOWLEDGE has returned to these very pages to review the 2014 season results
many is the number of people who have tried to predict Michigan's record. these have ranged from predictions based on great hope to predictions based on utter fear
but these people are speculators; they do not know what will actually happen
THE KNOWLEDGE, on the other hand, talks with clear and detailed information about the future and will thus reveal the season results in this review
with this post THE KNOWLEDGE also introduces the THE KNOWLEDGE CHALLENGE for 2014. unlike previous years, THE CHALLENGE will not run every week, but will run in segments
for the first edition, the readers are asked to name correctly the teams that will qualify for the playoffs. there is no need to predict the winner. at the end of the regular season, the reader that revealed the 4 teams correctly will be named CO-SOARER OF THE KNOWLEDGE
regular season result for Michigan: 11-1 (including a trip to the BTCG)
OOC result: 4-0
THE KNOWLEDGE will reveal the postseason results in a later post
I’ll begin with a confession and a qualification. I am admittedly a “youther” in that I think it’s legitimate to evaluate UM’s performance within the context of game-experience, program experience, eligibility, etc. That doesn’t get the coaches (in any regime) or players “off the hook” but it does provide context. In my world view this is a factor in determining past performance and future expectations.
My world view (as informed by MGoBlog) also holds that stars matter to set expectations of player performance up and down the roster in general. Thus Roster Make-up (“RM”) combines eligibility, game experience, and recruit ranking to provide a prism through which I view a team’s performance. It should be noted, I do not think there is an acceptable context for 3-win seasons, 27 for 27 or minus-48 vs. Sparty.
I thought I’d compare the MSU, OH, ND and UM 2-deeps. The qualification is that depth charts are often not worth the paper they’re printed on, and this snap shot will change over the course of the season. In general, I think the analysis is still relevant.
Hopefully, the Mathlete, his legion of fans (of which I’m one) and the other phenomenal statisticians/mathemagicians aren’t too disappointed in this clumsy and simple view…but a method should mirror its maker, yes?
The two-deeps are taken from a variety of sources and generally align with the most recent version I could find. UM’s does not fall in line with the App St. chart regarding Glasgow and Kalis. I used the 11W 2-deep from today, and Rivals for MSU and ND (both updated the 26th).
Regarding the rankings, I looked at the four main ranking sites and came up with these groups:
- 5*: Any site giving 5* rating (e.g. Peppers, Shane, Green)
- u4: (Unanimous) 4* from all 4 sites (e.g. Beyer, Cole, Countess)
- c4: (Consensus) 4* from a majority of the sites (e.g. Funchess)
- 4*: (Low) 4* 1 or 2 sites rated as a 4* (e.g. Taylor)
- h3: (high) 3* as a 5.7 and/or 88+ and/or 78+ (e.g. Braden)
- 3*: Any site giving 3* rating (e.g. Henry, JMFR)
- 2*: walk-on or actual 2* rating (e.g. Glasgows)
Note: UM’s “games played” numbers are based on player participation reports so UM’s numbers reflect positional experience. The other teams are derived from player bios and those do not often adequately separate special teams play vs. positional play unless it is “games started.” UM’s games played will seenm lower by comparison.
Michigan (1st string: 201 Gms Started/394 Gms Played…1st+2nd: 259 GS/600 GP)
Michigan’s 2-deep looks as one would expect (especially if one is an avid follower on this site). The roster is full of flaming redshirts (57%) is anchored by Hoke’s 2012 class (43%), and has a lot of highly rated guys (aka “talented”). As can be seen later, relative to UM’s rivals there’s a good balance of game experience, age (trending youthfully), and talent. I’m glad to note only 2 starters are 1st or 2nd year guys, and yes, this may move to 4 with Peppers and Lewis, but is still better than years’ past. This roster is trending the right way, looks better in 2015, and makes me feel cautiously optimistic.
Notre Dame (1st string: 141 GS/449 GP…1st+2nd: 171 GS/586 GP)
The suspensions (should they last) created a problem for ND. The 2-deep got much younger and much less experienced. With Russell, Williams, Daniels and Moore Kelly loses 38 GS. The good news for the Irish is that the 2-deep is still pretty highly rated (slightly higher than UM’s). ND burns more redshirts than UM, and by the looks of it will be doing so again this year. ND has a dearth of 4th/5th years similar to UM’s. By contrast, they make up for it with true sophs and not so much by Kelly’s 2012 class. That 18th ranked class was smallish (18) and lost top-2 Kiel and Neal to attrition and is without Russell (for now). Kelly is going to rely on the most 1st/2nd year guys of any of the rivals (by far). Talented, but young and inexperienced is this group’s hallmark.
Michigan State (1st string: 237 GS/532 GP…1st+2nd: 267 GS/840 GP)
MSU’s roster also looks as one would expect. What they’ve lost seems to be a recurring topic, but with the most game starts of these 4 teams, Dantonio’s system keeps rolling. His 2-deep loathes burning redshirts (11%), loves 4th/5th year guys (59%), and plays with a chip on its shoulder from not being highly rated (70% below 4*). MSU freshmen lay in the weeds, learn, and win scout team awards (unless they’re Malik McDowell or Brian Allen). 2nd year guys get little love here as well. Basically, talk to the hand until the 3rd year, and even then its mostly just to get seasoning (excepting the 2-3 guys who MSU beat UM/OSU/ND for). Likely this will be the RM throughout Dantonio’s regime. The ratings are trending higher, but Dantonio’s RM will look a lot like this until he retires. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?
Ohio State (1st string: 168 Gms Started/413 Gms Played…1st+2nd: 178 GS/533 GP)
At Ohio State they reload. Even with the loss of Miller, that seems true. Meyer will have significantly more 5* than UM and ND. He’ll field a 2-deep devoid of 3* or 2* guys. Only 3 “high 3s” blemish this constellation of 4 & 5 stars. Though nothing like MSU’s load of 4th/5th year guys, Meyer will field more than UM and ND. They’ll also field more 1st/2nd year guys than UM, but not close to ND’s nursery. Loaded with talent, lacking experience, and led by a decent number of 4/5 year guys, Ohio State looks the way they usually do. Still, this could be a “down” year. That was probably going to mean 1-2 losses with Miller. Without him, I think it may mean 2 – 3.
Who Needs Starz?
Michigan will start three 3* guys (JMFR, Henry, JClark) and the Glasgows are walk-ons. MSU will start 5 3* guys (Calhoun, Waynes, Drummond, Langford and Kieler) with 2 w/o (Gliechart and Conklin). ND only starts one 3* and 1 w/o, and Meyer has no idea what is being discussed in this paragraph. Both Michigan schools have a shot a putting a number of these lower-rated recruits on the all-B1G lists. Unsurprisingly, there are no 1st or 2nd year guys in anyone’s 2-deep from the 3*/2* groups.
Looking at the QBs
Gardner is the best on paper (5th yr, 5*, 21/37 GP/GS, though 16 GS at QB), then Cook (4th yr, h3, 13/17), Golson (4th yr, c4, 11/12), and finally Barrett (2nd yr, u4, 0/0). This should bode well for UM, though three of the four look pretty decent. Barrett’s gonna struggle some, but the question is how much.
It Goes Without Saying the Above Paragraph All Depends on…
It may be wishful thinking, but my starting UM OL is still Cole, Mags, Glasgow, Kalis and Braden. That is worth 28/43 GS/GP and 4 highly rated guys (with Glasgow maybe being the best guy right now). MSU counters with 59/100 but with that “underrated” chip referenced earlier. ND should challenge UM’s DL with “grizzled” vets 50/103 who are very “talented” and older. OH will have 23/82 and such “meh” talent that their 2nd string includes talented DLs who’ve switched over, but have no experience. On paper, UM’s line is about as questionable as OH…maybe a little less, but they’re both close, and both scary. If Kalis isn’t a starter…damn.
I went into this thinking UM was likely to finish with 9-10 wins and would take 1 of 3 vs. these teams. I don’t think that record changes, since this exercise really made me feel better about ND struggling (who I already thought was the most likely W). Still, UM’s RM is balanced and relatively good compared to these rivals. OH is the most “talented” by a decent amount, but less experienced. MSU is doing what they do, and will be tough. ND looks young, talented, inexperienced and vulnerable. UM’s OL is still relatively young and inexperienced, but so is OH’s. In all, if this season doesn’t go well, RM isn’t something that I’ll be factor into the post-mortem.
- UM has the 2nd lowest rated true frosh in Freddy (ND’s Daniel Cage), and the highest (Peppers)
- UM is tied with ND for most c4/u4/5* since the 2012 class with 23.
- In 2015 the 4/5 yr guys from these 2014 2-deeps = MSU 25, UM 22, ND & OH 15
- MSU has burned 7 redshirts. Four are 5/4 stars and three are high 3s
- ND’s only walk-on is starting at LB. Their only 3* is starting at S.
- UM’s D has the most game-starts by a wide margin…and is talented enough to make it count.
The season is just a few days away, which means it's time to deck out every inch of your life in Maize and Blue. Every year I like to make a few wallpapers for myself. Why should I keep them all to myself?
I'm a fan of minimal design, which I have used in all of these wallpapers. The first one is a 2D long shadow effect on the glorious Block M we all love. The second is sort of my thoughts right now. I'm sick of the analysis, the crying about App State, and all the predictions and rankings. Just win. The last one is a slight alteration to a student t-shirt design submission that didn't win last year.
Full Album: http://imgur.com/a/1t4ua#0
Update: What the heck, here is one more
Because the one thing we haven't done is talk about the OL enough this offseason, I would like to address some misconceptions about what OL recruting rankings actually mean and what it takes to play OL on the collegiate level.
First up on the mound, recruiting rankings. Recruiting sites rate offensive lineman on pro potential, not college readiness and "pro protential" for a high school lineman is bascally looking at your frame (aka height and arm length) and how well you move your feet. This is why a guy like LTT, who barely knows what he's doing can be a consensus 4*. Scouts saw long arms, wide hips, light feet and 6'7" and named him one of the top 10 high school tackles in the country and all he did to earn that ranking was grow, it had almost nothing to do with his play on the field. When sites say Kyle Kalis is "college ready," they mean he is 6'5" and has 300 lbs of good weight and that's about it. These guys are graded on the physical part of the game which is only about 10% of what it takes to be a good lineman. HOWEVER, it is important because it is the first 10% and if you can't hold up physically, it doesn't matter how good the rest of your game is because DL will just bench press you out of the way as seen here. Joey Burzynski(LG) is stiff armed by CJ Olaniyan and gets no movement. While it helps, having an NFL body is not required to be good in college and there are plenty of examples of players who dominate in college but struggle to make NFL rosters (see David Molk). What makes those guys special is the level of technique they play with and the ability to anticipate the defense.
Which brings us to the main point of this diary, OL play is basically football math. Think of every play as a math problem, and offensive lineman have to figure the solution to the problem in their heads presnap, while alsonknowing the problem may change as soon as the ball is snapped, meaning that they have to figure out the solution to the problem at hand and anticipate every way it can change and solve those problems as well, all in the space off the few seconds they have once the defense aligns. This is why a certain long haired blogger we all know and love screams at his television every fall Saturday for the offense to hurry to the line of scrimmage, so the line (and the QB) can have more time to solve the defensive equation. Every second not at the line of scrimmage solving the defense is a second wasted, and a win for the defense.
College OL play is like Calculus, and 95% of lineman come into college with a just basic understanding of simple arithmetic(Addition, subtraction, mulitplication and division) and some come in basically knowing how to count (LTT). This is because the vast majority of high school offensive line coaches have the equivelent of an 8th grade education in line concepts if they're lucky and the physical advantage a lot of these guys have in high school makes the equations they face pretty easy. At that stage, it is about 80-90% physical and 10-20% mental, because the DL that can challenge them physically are few and far between and overpowering guys doesn't take much brain power. Once they get to college, the physical advantage goes away and defensive equations get much more complicated and they have to realize that they have to learn real math, which can be shocking to some guys. It is the job of the offensive line coach to take these guys who are coming in at some level of elementary school math and get them up to speed. They have to learn the high school level concepts of algebra (run blocking), geometry(identifying who to block) and precalc (pass blocking) before they can even dream of doing calculus i.e. getting on the field. Every different play and protection scheme has its own set of techniques and they change for every different front the defense throws at you. Offensive line man have to know what foot to step with first, in what direction and how far, what their aiming point is, who they are supposed to block, how they are supposed to block them when they get there, where each hand goes, where their head goes, and where their eyes should be looking, all while remembering to play with good knee bend and pad level. All of this has been calculated down to inch level precision and each mistake opens you up to exploitiation by the defense so you have to be perfect, and even then there is no guarantee that the play is successful because everyone else has to do their job too. And they have to learn all that so well that they can do it in their heads so fast they barely think about it, because if every play is a Calc problem, you can't be struggling with the algebra because there is no way you can solve and execute the solution in time to make your block. This largley is what lineman are doing their first 2-3 years on campus, along with getting in the weight room, and why they shouldn't see the field on a good team. For most guys, things start to click in their 3rd year on campus, which explains why most players on the line who meets this criteria under Funk have at least put forth solid production.
Last year, Borges demanded that a line where the most experience guard (post GG to center) was a RS FR, the equivelent of about a High School Sophomore mathematically, to solve differential equations, limits, integrals and applied calculus. The young guys understandably got overwhelmed and didn't improve as much as they could have and when they didn't, they got taken out, further stalling said improvement. That is one the biggest reasons we have a new OC, because the responsiblity of a Coordinator is to put their players in the best possible position to succeed and Borges didn't do that nearly enough. What we don't is if Funk is a good Math teacher because this will be the first year the 2012 class (his first full class) should be expected to fully understand what they are doing. The only players Funk has had the oppurtunity to mold from scratch are Glasgow and Miller, Glasgow has worked out well and Miller didn't meet the requirements for the physical 10%, which is not on anybody but Miller. Whether they come in as a 5* (Kalis, Kugler), 4*(LTT, Bosch, Dawson, Mags, Cole) or even a 3* (Braden, Samuelson) they all must learn the mental part of the game to have any sort of positive production.
What we should be looking for this year if fot the RS Sophomores to be around where Glasgow and Schofield were in 2013 and 2011 respectively. By the Ohio game we should have a middling B1G OL, we won't be good, but we shouldn't be the tire fire of last year either. I think we had the possibility of being 10-1 heading to Columbus with a loss at MSU and competing for a title. If we see more of what we saw last year, it is probably time to start looking for a new OL coach.
EDIT: Space Coyote actually has two great write up on pass blocking techniques and schemes on Maize 'N' Brew: