100% worst thing ever
This was filmed last year. I know this seems very 2008 Ohio, but they're behind the times. It was 2010.
This is also by Pop Evil. They turned into a bunch of hair metal posers just last year. Before that they were were "Muskegon's Menudo," and before that they were dog groomers. They're still dog groomers but now they have a band so they can test out exciting new techniques on each other.
Doubling down on… us? Bill Connolly is a smart person who does good things with stats, so he (and his models) know Michigan had a hugely positive yards per play margin last year and that turnovers don't correlate that well year to year and Michigan finally has a returning quarterback so they could bounce significantly forward this year.
This is a little much, though:
Five Predictions for the Big Ten in 2011:
1. Michigan wins the damn Legends Division. That's right.
5. Oh why the hell not ... Michigan beats Wisconsin in the conference title game. Might as well go all-in, right?
That is all in like whoah. If any part of this transpires Brady Hoke is king and Bill Connolly will be assaulted for lottery numbers.
The main problem with this is his model takes recruiting into account and Michigan's recruiting has been a paper tiger for a while now.
I'll take it! An NFL scout type guy on SI.com drops David Molk on his list of NFL prospects… but only to call him overrated. Still, I'll take this description:
Overrated: David Molk, Michigan -- Molk is considered the top center in the country by a number of scouts, yet in our opinion there are better senior centers in his conference.
I'll take "a number of scouts" believing he's the top center in the country over one dude disagreeing.
This is a fake thing. Iowa graduated leather magnet Tyler Sash last year. They are Iowa so they'll replace him with a walk-on. This is the filthy lie about this walk-on's name that BHGP expects us to believe:
Collin Sleeper (#16, Junior (RS), 6'2", 200, Solon (IA) HS)
We know absolutely nothing about Collin Sleeper.
It's not that we know absolutely nothing. It's that we know exactly what we're supposed to know. He's a junior walk-on from Solon who has never played a down of college football and is now the starting strong safety. He was completely unrecruited and unscouted by the services. According to him, he's fast. He played halfback for the James Morris-led Iowa high school juggernaut 10 miles up the road from Iowa City. He reportedly played Denard Robinson on the scout team last year. His name is Sleeper, for chrissake.
THAT IS A LIE, SIR. Your walk-on safety is named "Sleeper" and my new running back recruit runs a 4.3 40. Eighteen fakes out of five, you Hawkeye bastards. Eighteen fakes.
This is a dumb thing. WMU beatwriter Greg Couch on the state of Michigan's quarterbacks:
I think Alex Carder is the best college quarterback in the state. Denard Robinson is a great athlete, but I'd bet you if Carder were in that program, they'd find a different role (flanker, perhaps) for Robinson. MSU's Kirk Cousins isn't even close.
That is literally the dumbest thing I have seen written about football in the state of Michigan not related to Rich Rodriguez. In games against ND and MSU last year Carder averaged 5.4 YPA—Threet/Sheridan numbers—and threw two TDs to three interceptions. He had 104 yards on 33 attempts against Idaho in a 33-13 loss. Playing a MAC schedule he finished 35th in passer efficiency. Cousins was 18th and Robinson 20th playing in the Big Ten.
This is not a surrounding talent issue. According to Couch WR Jordan White "would be an All Big Ten wideout." He proved this by averaging a whopping 10.5 yards per catch against MSU and Notre Dame. But sure, a MAC team with a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins and Denard Robinson and an All Big Ten wideout went 6-6 last year in the MAC.
This guy also thinks Denard Robinson is "Juice Williams with wheels," which is like saying "Carlos Brown but fast." Guh. Insert Billy Madison quote here.
I hope Chris Brown didn't get fired… or do I? He's gone from near-hibernation to putting out ridiculously good content consistently. There was the speed option post I linked in a previous UV, then a description of the inverted veer option Michigan tried a couple times last year and Auburn rode to national title. I don't think we're going to see it again, which is sad-making. I was so excited about it last year even though they never quite got it right.
End. The USHL's president is awesome. Some Canadian hockey radio guys were pondering a USHL-CHL matchup as a way to get a true North American junior championship, which prompted USHL prez Skip Prince to write them an open letter that said "Ready to do it" and bombed the CHL's model. This is a dagger. I'm going to quote a big chunk of it:
It’s odd to hear second-tier status ascribed to the USHL, the notion of “Well, if you’re going to go to college, then the USHL is the best place to go.” There’s an implicit demotion there – an implied statement “…because I guess you’ve decided you’re not good enough to go pro.” Really? So that’s an either-or decision?
No. It’s not. Our website equally celebrates the 165 NHL alumni we sport and the 283 college commitments we have in hand. They go together. It’s our pyramid at work. The fact is, 35% of the young men wearing an NCAA Division I sweater this past year – more than one out of every three rostered players in college hockey – is a USHL alum. That’s extraordinary. That 3% of those kids make it to the NHL is also extraordinary. The fact that’s right on par with the CHL is not extraordinary – not to us – but somehow that gets lost in translation.
So we are damn proud of that special 3% - and the other 97%. Every – every – player departing the USHL this year, who was eligible for NCAA play, had a Division I commitment in hand. Last year we were one short of perfect, a great young man who chose Division III instead. Match that.
Sure, there are those who depart from the USHL-to-college-to-NHL route, and take the CHL direction instead. We’re well aware of the four well-publicized de-commitments this past month. Point given. The CHL gets four great players. Hey - we celebrate them, and hope they all do well. That’s American freedom of choice.
We just think it’s a risk they didn’t need to take. Each and every one of those players had just as great a chance of making the NHL playing college hockey, lifting and getting better, over a time period they control, as they do with the two-year bet they’ve now made. But we know each of those young men, and our competitiveness does not stop us from wanting that bet to play out for all of them.
About 95% of the CHL would be better served in college. There's not enough room for all of them, unfortunately, but unless you're getting a massive under the table payment or can't hack classes you should probably go to college.
Flyover spoilers. Stop reading now if you like your planes all surprising. Notre Dame is going to be overkill city:
10 Sep vs. Notre Dame: The Yankee Air Force's C-47 Skytrain "Yankee Doodle Dandy" will conduct a pregame flyover and a two-soldier parachute team from the 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) will drop into the stadium during the halftime program (one each in the two end zones). Prior to the game, the Michigan and Notre Dame NROTC Units will contest their annual flag football game on Friday, 9 Sep at 7 pm at Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Stop by and cheer on your fellow students.
Nebraska and OSU will also have flyovers; Purdue(?!) is tentatively scheduled for one as well. Not sure why they'd do one for Purdue unless they're bombing the World's Somewhat Large Drum.
Etc.: Jason Whitlock writes a panting piece on Hoke day after he writes one of his odious race-baiting idiot columns, this one directed at the incredibly irresponsible Charles Robinson. Yes, that Charles Robinson. As a result I can't really take the former seriously. The lesson is always that Jason Whitlock is an asshat.
4/9/2011 – Michigan 2, Minnesota-Duluth 3 (OT) – 29-11-4, season over
There's a track on the Robert Earl Keen live album I've listened to incessantly since I was maybe a junior in college in which it's just him introing a song with a story. It's about how he went to the second Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic. Keen lies that he was "about 27 years old" at the time and had a date—his first date ever. He had so much fun in "the Willy Way" that he had to go take a nap.
He woke up from his nap to hear a man on the PA announcing that there had been a fire in the parking lot and that 40 cars had burned up. The first winner: RHP 997. Now, you might wonder why Keen and I remember that so well. In Keen's case it's because it was his car. In my case it's because I've listened to this story hundreds of times.
Keen's obviously devastated by this news, but his date laughs. Keen reminds her "we don't have a ride"; she responds "I do." Keen is introduced to Tarzan and Adonis, who promise to "take care of her, man." She departs. Keen is left with not enough of a car to carbon-14 date and no date when just a few hours ago he having the best time of his life.
He sits down.
He sits down on the grass. On the burnt grass, the black, burnt dirt and grass, and he weeps. "Big, old, giant tears."
I don't know, man.
I've got a post in the hopper titled "the bottom" that details the stunning descent in Michigan athletics that started when Bo died the day before Football Armageddon and to my eyes stopped on January 17th when Greg Mattison was hired away from an NFL team to coordinate Michigan's defense. Since then the basketball team exceeded anything approximating reasonable expectations, Jim Tressel and Ohio State seem to have started a long, ugly process of implosion, and the hockey team deflected its way to a 50-50 shot at glory. We are finally on the way up.
That doesn't mean they are. Hagelin and Scooter and Hunwick just saw something slip through their fingers they'll never get back. I guess Hunwick has a shot next year but a quick look at the roster shows a team that should be happy to extend the tourney streak—in all likelihood this was it for Tiny Jesus. I'm trying to decide whether this is actually worse than last year. At least last year promised this year; right now it's hard to see Michigan back here for years, like when Boo Nieves is a sophomore and whichever 2013 forwards stick might be awesome. Next year's impact help is playing in the OHL.
So I'm not sure when that shot will come again. Maybe it will be next year—hockey is bizarre that way—but despite a season as frustrating as a conference championship can be by the end I was deeply, deeply invested in Hagelin and the kids who gave him a flag and our 5'7" third-string walk-on goalie with a story the Air Bud producers would send back as too hackneyed. The hours after the North Dakota game were one long shuddering as my body gradually remembered things other than pure terror, and to lose—to frankly deserve to lose—after that was like all the horror described last year but with more finality. That happened and won't happen again and it wasn't enough.
Keen goes on to room with Lyle Lovett and carve out a career as a minor country star who doesn't have to give a crap what Nashville thinks, but being a musician doesn't come with eligibility restrictions. I spent Saturday thinking of all the guys who came and went during Michigan's long championship interregnum: Cammalleri and Comrie and Shouneyia and Hensick and all the other brilliant 5'8" guys college hockey makes into gods. Jed Ortmeyer, who has more work ethic in a finger than I do in my entire body and once killed two St. Cloud players in the first five minutes of a tourney game at Yost. Jack Johnson. Milan Gajic and his magic ability to not score spectacular goals. Jason Ryznar and Craig Murray always seeming way better than they were. Al Montoya sitting in the penalty box. Brandon Kaleniecki living inside the goalie's jersey. Jay Vancik convincing me he was an NHL player. Bob Gassoff, who I once screamed "why even give him a stick?" in the general direction of.
I wrote about the fans and thought I'd write about them after—I guess I am, but not in the way I wanted to. Today we add Caporusso and Vaughn and Hagelin and Langlais and Winnett and Rust and Hogan to the list of people to valorize at some point in the indeterminate future.
As Keen was dripping onto the grass some guy from the festival came up and said "the least we can do is let you meet Willy," but Willy had to go jam with Leon Russell. Many years later he recorded one of Keen's songs as part of the Highwaymen—this is all in the story.
At some point Michigan is actually going to win another goddamned national championship and some of this will be redeemed. Not all of it, though. Shawn Hunwick is never going to do that again, and nothing's ever going to match the Swedish flag and my complete failure to get people to replace all words in the goal cheer with "bork" when Hagelin scores. Things come and go; this one has gone and I'm stunned at how much I miss it already.
Seriously, No Bullets
Why this is so early in the morning. You see, Rudy, the fiancée's dissertation is due today and it's like 350 pages and I edited all of it and at one point there was a sentence with three different serial commas in it and my head exploded and I haven't actually gone to bed yet. So 1) early post because I decided it was now or never and 2) I am going to bed and will see you tomorrow and will bump Tom's weekly when I wake up this afternoon. kthxbye.
Okay, one. Congratulations to Duluth, who got a deserved win. I don't know what it was, but they spent the entire game turning Michigan's defensemen. Were they just blown out from the North Dakota game? I find that hard to believe when they had two days off and Duluth also played, but I hadn't seen anyone get around Michigan's D with that consistency all year. Since that includes UND and some other very good teams I wonder if the semi just took too much out of them.
It's impossible to be mad at a team with no previous titles and so many guys with awesome beards that don't match their blonde hair; congrats.
I know you're all busy sticking needles into your Coach K voodoo dolls—for safety's sake make sure your doll is not actually Coach K before inserting—but about an hour ago Michigan's hockey fate was determined. Drumroll, please:
1. Boston College
4. Colorado College
Michigan plays at 5:30 on Friday on ESPN3, with ESPNU replaying the game at 11:30.
Yeah, so to get to a hypothetical final Michigan probably has to beat Boston College and North Dakota, but that's why you show up on Friday against Western Michigan instead of whatever that was. Michigan split with UNO at Yost earlier this year, losing 4-2 on Friday and winning 6-1 the next night. Shots were 35-25 Michigan on Friday and about even Saturday.
Let me take this opportunity to urge anyone considering going: don't. You'll notice that the CCHA is the only conference not to have a region, you know, within hundreds of miles of it. A couple years ago there were regionals in Wisconsin and Colorado. The CCHA is the only conference to get so regularly screwed. I don't think the committee actually cares—if they did we'd have home regionals for top seeds—but on the off chance a St. Louis regional featuring 50 people in an NHL building is the hockey equivalent of Houston Nutt signing 37 kids you should save your money.
You may resume poking K right in the eye.
THAT IS ALL
Formation notes: After two games in which Michigan deployed a lot of 4 man fronts and mixed in some 3-4 and 3-3-5 looks Michigan was almost exclusively stack against Penn State. They did move Demens (and Roh/Fitzgerald) back at halftime. First half:
Substitution notes: Martin played maybe the first two series before coming out, and didn't do anything in that time. He was replaced by a combination of Sagesse and Patterson. Black and Banks are now platooning regularly, with Banks still getting most of the snaps. RVB is the line's ironman. He never comes out.
At linebacker it was Demens and Mouton the whole way with Fitzerald getting a drive or three when Michigan thought Roh wasn't playing well. Cam Gordon and Thomas Gordon split time at spur. Rogers was replaced by Talbott for much of the game. Vinopal went the distance at FS.
On with it:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Play action bomb against three deep; McGloin sets up and throws deep to his tiny guy Smith. Ball is underthrown and Floyd is in decent position, though a long enough throw beats him. Floyd has a chance to intercept but doesn't look for the ball quickly enough and a throw that looks like it was to him hits the turf. Um. I have to: Floyd +1, cover +1, pressure -1.|
|O29||2||10||I-form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Banks||0|
|Banks(+2) gets immediately playside of the PSU RT and drives him into the backfield. Michigan's running some sort of stunt on the backside that looks pretty unsound and as a result Demens was swallowed by two OL; Mouton is walled off by another—none of this matters because Banks has driven into the path of the RB and tackled him at the LOS by himself. Bad omen for the future.|
|O29||3||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||3||Scramble||Demens||11|
|One DT drops off to chuck the RB, looking for a screen. Martin(-1) comes through to flush McGloin, but with only three guys rushing there's a gap to the other side of him and McGloin steps up, sees no one, and runs. Demens(-1) is the guy nearest to him and gave up the corner because he drifted too far inside on a TE crossing route. This is definitely his fault: C. Gordon is going with his guy all the way downfield. Martin gets the -1 for coming up the wrong side and giving up the lane.|
|O40||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||PA Throwaway||Van Bergen||Inc|
|RVB(+1, pressure +1) gets upfield of his blocker and immediately releases into McGloin, forcing him to toss it away.|
|O40||2||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||16|
|Michigan shifts late to man coverage and Floyd(-2, cover -2) isn't even in the same zip code as Smith on a simple slant. He can't even make a tackle, giving up another eight yards after the catch.|
|M44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Kovacs||4|
|Michigan moves late to a one-high by, sending Kovacs into the box, and the shift gets PSU in a bad playcall. Seems like a designed cutback and a really bizarre scheme: Demens is like a yard from Martin and gets hit by a tackle; Mouton is way back and is scraping to the nominal frontside of the play only to get blown up by the FB as he drags himself out of position. Kovacs(+0.5) is there in the hole as a result of the late move to tackle near the LOS but he grabs ankles and allows Royster to spin forward for a decent gain. I'm guessing I'm going to neg a lot of guys because of this weird setup but not yet. This was the "This Is Not A Stack" play.|
|M40||2||6||Shotgun 2-back TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||C. Gordon||3|
|Completely bizarre play from C. Gordon(-0.5) here, who is the contain guy to this side. Instead of flowing down the line and keeping outside leverage somewhere near the LOS he takes a weird looping downfield angle that sees him five yards downfield by the time the RB gets outside; he also impeded Roh with his weird delayed move outside. RVB(+1) had driven his guy well upfield and forced an outside angle by the RB, which allowed Gordon time to recover and hold the gain down.|
|M37||3||3||I-form||Stack two deep||Pass||3||FB screen||Mouton||8|
|Three guys and still no one to sniff out the screen. Mouton(-1, cover -1) failed to read it and dropped very deep when he should have been staring right at it. Demens had a guy coming across his zone to drop into and then flows to tackle—without that this will go for a lot more. (RPS -1)|
|M29||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||5|
|Banks(-1) crushed two yards downfield by a double. Mouton comes up to hit a pulling guard and restricts the hole but there's nothing anyone can do to prevent Royster from burrowing behind his linemen for a decent gain.|
|M24||2||5||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Quick out||Banks||Inc|
|Banks(+1, pressure +1) knocks down the quick out at the LOS. Probably open for the first if not batted.|
|M24||3||5||Ace trips||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Flare||Roh?||7|
|Michigan sends five and RVB(+0.5) swims through an OG to get to McGloin, forcing a dumpoff that is so open I have no idea who I should even blame. Roh(-1) is the most likely suspect (cover -2, RPS -1)|
|Michigan covers(+1) McGloin's first read and then Black(+1) is one-on-one with the RB as PSU slides their protection. He gets cut but manages to stay up and threatening, forcing a rollout and a throwaway (pressure +1)|
|M17||2||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Mouton||14|
|Double shoves Martin out of the hole; he shoots up under it but to no avail. Demens takes a step to the playside and is then engulfed by two OL because he's too damn close to the LOS to do anything about it. There's a hole and one blocker for Mouton to deal with; he shoots past the guy and is on the verge of a +3 for a monster play when he lets Royster through his tackle(-1 Mouton, -1) and pick up a huge gain thanks to a missed tackle(-1) from Vinopal(-2). RPS -1.|
|M3||1||G||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Banks(-1) destroyed by a single block and pancaked, giving the edge. Kovacs(-1) blocked and does not keep contain, giving up the edge for Royster as well.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||C. Gordon||20|
|Another huge cutback lane. I'm not entirely sure who this is on because depending on assignment it could be any of Roh, Cam Gordon, and Van Bergen. Van Bergen is upfield as the unblocked backside guy and is cut by a TE pulling to the backside. Roh is flowing to the frontside and seems too close to Demens for that to be a good idea; Cam Gordon is either way too far outside or properly setting up to catch any bounces outside. -2 Roh for filling the same hole as Demens and -1 Gordon for being the guy shot past. Mouton actually made a nice read and flowed from the frontside of the play but for naught; Vinopal comes up and forces Royster to cut outside, where Rogers tackles. (RPS –1)|
|M36||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Sack||Mouton||-11|
|An end around pass ends badly as Michigan covers(+2) both available receivers well and Mouton(+2) reads the end-around, gets out on the edge, and attacks. He'd sack but the guy's falling to the ground as he gets there anyway. Pressure +1.|
|M47||2||21||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Corner||Floyd||27|
|The underneath coverage on this is indeed a debacle but the super debacle is JT Floyd(-4, cover -4) getting so completely lost in three deep coverage on a guy in his zone that he's not even the tackler on an underthrown, softly-tossed lob thirty yards downfield. What the hell is Floyd doing on a hashmark, facing inside, in a three deep, on second and twenty one? YOU HAVE HELP INSIDE. BWS picture-paged this if you hate yourself.|
|M20||1||10||Ace twin TE||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Demens||19|
|Michigan horrendously misaligned as Penn State motions a TE over to give them two to the short side of the field. Michigan hardly reacts at all. So there's five PSU blockers to the short side and three Michigan defenders. Compounding this, Michigan just screws up. Demens(-2) runs to the backside when he's got Vinopal walking down and Mouton filling a backside lane, leaving no one to fill the frontside gap that he should have; there's not even a counter here, he just runs to the wrong side of the line. Banks kicked out and Roh(-1) blown up by the inline TE, Roytser into the secondary like that. (RPS -1)|
|M1||1||G||Goal line||3-3-5 stack||Run||Dive||?||1|
|Whatever. This isn't even M's to-date successful goal line package. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||T. Gordon||3|
|Cam pulled for Thomas as SURPRISE, moving a deep safety to linebacker makes him confused. M adjusts to the motion this time, and Penn State runs a counter at it expecting an overreaction. Demens, who's still a yard behind his NT, gets caught with a step and sealed as the NT is Patterson and he does the usual.. Michigan does have two guys in the hole versus one blocker thanks to good reads by the backside folk. Blocker runs by Gordon to get Roh(+0.5) so T. Gordon(+0.5) hits at the LOS; they fall forward because there's no help.|
|O23||2||7||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||Out||T. Gordon||Inc|
|McGloin throws a decently open out well wide of his receiver. Third and short in all likelihood if accurate.|
|O23||3||7||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Middle screen||Demens||5|
|They throw another screen; this time Demens(+0.5) is tasked with the tailback. He doesn't tackle but he does get into the play enough to delay the guy as he has to cut back behind Demens and the guy blocking him. RVB(+0.5) takes this opportunity to peel back and make a diving tackle attempt that's spun through but does slow Redd; Mouton(+0.5) and Demens converge to tackle short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA TE flat||C. Gordon||20|
|Cam Gordon(-2, cover -2) sucks in way too far, not only giving up the pass on the corner but not being anywhere near enough to tackle after the catch. Why on earth did they pull Thomas off for this?|
|O46||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Kovacs||9|
|Michigan again hugely, vastly misaligned as PSU brings in their WR/TE guy to be a second TE to the short side of the field, where be Kovacs; said Kovacs(-1) is blasted five yards downfield and JT Floyd(-1), the overhang guy, is met and blocked seven yards downfield. When Royster has to bounce because Mouton and Demens have cut off the inside there's no one out there. Banks(-1) was also single blocked and couldn't even slow Royster as he broke outside. (RPS -1)|
|M45||2||1||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Banks||7|
|Another cutback opened up by Banks(-1) getting washed down the line. I think. We come to this play late and I'm not entirely sure what's going on.|
|M38||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA TE flat||Mouton||10|
|Another play where I can't tell who's screwing up on a wide open pass in the flat. It's either Mouton or Kovacs. Minuses for both. Cover -2.|
|M28||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||3|
|Roh has been pulled for Fitzgerald. Woo 3-3-5. Here RVB(+0.5) beats a guy, forcing another cutback; Black(+0.5) has slanted under his guy to the point where it has to go behind him, giving Kovacs(+0.5) the ability to read the cutback and make a weak ankle tackle at the LOS that could be run through but for Sagesse(+0.5) fighting to the ball and finishing it.|
|M25||2||7||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA throwaway||Kovacs||Inc|
|No one open (cover +1) as I think they were looking to go to the FB on the throwback but Kovacs(+1) reads the play and sits back on it, causing McGloin to chuck it OOB. Decent but not immense time.|
|M25||3||7||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Demens||6|
|Completely mistimed blitz from Floyd(-1) on the overhang sees him both tip it and leave late, so it's easily picked up. No one anywhere near McGloin (pressure -2) and he has plenty of time to find a crossing route as it nears the sticks. Demens is in the area in pursuit and tackles short of the first down, but only a yard short.|
|M19||4||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||C. Gordon||2|
|Demens(+3) shoots the gap between the NT and DE at the snap, blasting into the guard pulling around to provide a lead block, shucking him, and meeting Royster a yard in the backfield. Monster play, and a dead drive if he can get some help. Marvin Robinson(-1) comes up and wraps up Royster's shoulders; Cam Gordon(-2) takes an angle upfield and comes too far inside, running himself out of the play when Royster spins free. This is an amazing play by Royster, but Michigan should never have let this happen.|
|M17||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Sagesse||13|
|Sagesse(-2) crumbles to the ground against single blocking before the handoff. Doom. Demens is again too close to the LOS to have any hope of scraping past releasing OL (RPS -2) and Roh can take the outside shoulder of the leading guard all he wants but that doesn't mean there's anyone coming to help.|
|M4||1||G||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Banks(-1) easily sealed by a single block, which allows another OL to pop out on Mouton without delay; everyone plays this right but this is an I form big against something other than a goal line package from the 3 (RPS -1).|
|M1||2||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||QB sneak||?||1|
|They get it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-21, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA FB screen||Mouton||17|
|PSU just killing this coverage where Kovacs runs his ass off into a hole at the sideline 10-15 yards downfield. Michigan again rushes three and no one reads the screen, with Mouton(-1) the guy who's zone is closest; he compounds a deep drop by getting cut to the ground. Demens(-1) didn't read the direction of the releasing linemen and steps towards Royster, making certain he won't be able to track this down. Fitzgerald(-0.5, tackling -1) whiffs a tackle just past the sticks and gives up another six. (Cover -2, RPS -1)|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||0|
|Banks(+1) takes on a double and holds at the LOS, eventually driving the OT over him back a bit and causing Royster to trip. Fitzgerald(+0.5) came down at a good angle to squeeze the hole tight. Royster seems to trip over legs that are there because Banks made a good play and Demens(+0.5) flows to the hole to finish the play at the LOS.|
|M20||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Post||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Talbott now in at field corner, PSU goes after him and it does seem like he's got position—Talbott's at least on his back unlike certain other corners. Cam Gordon(+1, cover +1) gets a good drop and tips the pass, causing an incompletion.|
|M20||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||5||Corner||Vinopal||20|
|Guh. Michigan blitzes and C. Gordon(+1) sets up a blocker on the edge to the inside, juking by him to get a free run at McGloin, who tosses up a punt off his back foot. This punt is a slightly underthrown corner route. Ray Vinopal(-2, cover -2) is too far away from the receiver to make the slightly underthrown bit matter and waves helplessly at the ball as the receiver brings it in; they fall into the endzone. While McGloin's basically been handed scads of yardage by Michigan, he deserves some props here: his ridiculous back foot just having fun Wrangler Favre throw that should be easily intercepted is a fairly well thrown touchdown. FML.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-28, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA Deep Hitch||Van Bergen||Inc|
|Roh blitzes into the interior and doesn't really get anywhere. Talbott(-2, cover -2) is beyond way off on this 15-yard deep hitch and this will be complete but RVB(+1, pressure +1) reads the play and closes in on McGloin, deflecting the ball and causing it to come up well short. Fortunate.|
|O24||2||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Patterson||1|
|Same play from PSU that was picture paged; here Michigan is again using Roh as an interior blitzer; his attack draws two blockers and allows Patterson(+0.5) the luxury of just one; he slants past that guy and forces a cutback from Royster. Mouton(+0.5) is now playing a regular linebacker thing, not whatever he was doing in the first half, and reads, meeting the FB at the LOS. He's cut to the ground but his body is in the right spot and Royster slows, at which point Kovacs(+0.5) grabs him and gang tackling happens.|
|O25||3||9||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Deep hitch||Talbott||40|
|Michigan drops back into a zone coverage with C. Gordon escorting the slot guy deep. (I now agree with BWS totally: it was Demens responsible for the Iowa TD). Talbott's on Moye on the outside and is in great position to break up the pass or even intercept but he screws it all up, letting the ball through for the completion and missing a tackle, turning a three and out into many yards. Talbott -3, cover +1, pressure -2. Srs.|
|M35||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Stop and go||Floyd||Inc|
|Roh out, Fitz in and they do the same thing again; this version of the 3-3-5 is mostly a 4-3 with one tiny DT. PSU runs a slant and go and Michigan is in three deep with Floyd(-3, cover +1) in what should be great position to make a play on the ball, but he again gets totally lost. He's running a yard away from the sideline, facing it, in a spot that no one would ever think useful. So instead of being in a spot to intercept on a bad decision he can only watch a receiver almost catch a poorly thrown ball he should be all over.|
|M35||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Patterson||5|
|Patterson(-1) is doubled and gives a lot of ground quickly, eventually getting pancaked five yards downfield. However, the playside is jammed up because RVB(+1) drove his guy back and fought inside, closing off the running lane and forcing a cutback. Mouton responds as quickly as possible but with Patterson getting hammered like he does all he can do is hold the gain down.|
|M30||3||5||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Rollout out||C. Gordon||7|
|Vastly too easy as C. Gordon(-1) does not react to the out fast enough and this is an easy pitch and catch (cover -1)|
|M23||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Floyd||4|
|Headed outside with the playside TE blocking down and the two guys inside of him pulling around. There's a WR/TE to that side, too. Kovacs(+0.5) is momentarily doubled and gets shoved out of the play, but does at least close off an interior cutback. Mouton charges up and gets cut but creates a pile; Floyd(+0.5) comes up hard to make a tackle. Royster tries to leap through it but doesn't make it.|
|M19||2||6||Ace 4-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Out||Floyd||5|
|Floyd beaten on a quick out (cover -1) but is at least there to tackle.|
|M14||3||1||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||0|
|Michigan slants the line right and sends two linebackers into the gap right, which is exactly where PSU is going with the ball. DL get crushed out of the hole but that's what you expect; Mouton(+1) roars up into the hole to take on the outside shoulder of the pulling guard, which funnels the tailback to Demens(+0.5). Demens engages to tackle but it's 50-50 whether it's a first down or not until RVB(+1) comes in. RVB was well to the backside, shoved his blocker back, and shot through the same hole the linebackers hit to help. Nice job. (RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 10-31, 10 min 3rd Q. This drive is basically good play and one 40-yard mistake by a freshman. If this is what was going on consistently I could live with it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||3|
|Trying to go outside it seems. Line blocks down on the two DL, leaving RVB(+1) alone. He reads the play and heads upfield at the back, absorbing the pulling G and lead FB, and forcing the RB inside. There the RB meets a heap of bodies; Demens(+0.5) was responsible for creating the lack of gaps in the line. The delay allows a bunch of players to tackle.|
|O23||2||7||I-form 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||N/A||PA FB screen||Demens||7|
|This again. Another very slow read by the LBs; this time Mouton is up to take a cut near the LOS and forces the ball inside but Demens(-1, cover -1) is nowhere to be found and there's a lane the FB hits for first down yardage.|
|O30||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Down G||Black||12|
|It looks like M is trying a similar slant to the one that got them the third and one stop on the previous drive but then Demens runs right into the middle of the line and Black runs upfield so I guess it can't be. It's pretty weird, though. Black(-1) heads upfield and is not blocked but does not sit down in an effort to combat the run, he just runs upfield, takes a shove from some OL, and is gone. Big gap. Mouton(-1) needs to get outside the pulling tackle but does not. Kovacs does what he can to funnel it inside against a blocker, and then RVB(-1), who stunted and flowed down the line the whole way, overruns Royster and turns this from like six into 11.|
|O42||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Floyd||6 (Pen +10)|
|So Floyd is rolled up to the LOS and Kovacs is overhang. Banks and Floyd to one side of the field? Let's run right at it. Floyd(-1) starts executing a pass drop before the handoff and gives up the corner on a play that otherwise could have been stopped near the LOS. Umpire calls Sagesse(-1) for grabbing the C and preventing him from getting out on a linebacker. Need to be more subtle about it, eh?|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||PA rollout wheel||Christian?||34|
|PA gets McGloin a billion years as RVB(-2, pressure -3) sucks into the playfake and removes any and all pressure. McGloin has forever. PSU runs a post-wheel combo against Christian, Gordon, and Johnson, IE three freshman, two of whom are playing their positions for the first time ever. Gordon gets beat but I don't really blame him; Christian(-1, cover -3) was late getting over. (RPS -2)|
|M14||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Sagesse||4|
|RVB(+0.5) squeezes down on the pulling TE and there should not be much in the way of holes, but Sagesse(-0.5) gets booted out of the center, opening up a small crease that creates a decent positive gain.|
|M10||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Roh||5|
|Roh(-2) gets hooked and gives up the corner easily. Michigan seems misaligned, too, as PSU OL have incredibly easy angles to block Michigan LBs. (RPS -1) Floyd comes off a guy to tackle at the sticks.|
|M5||3||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||FB dive||Sagesse||5|
|Sagesee(-2) is crushed, erasing the MLB; Banks(-1) slants inside a TE but takes a way upfield angle and can't close down the resulting hole. Kovacs is pulled outside by a pitch fake and Mouton eats a free release from a tackle.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-38, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Roh||5|
|Black(+0.5) does get sealed off but gives no ground and absorbs two blockers, leaving two on the edge against just one PSU guy. Roh(-1) is the outside guy and goes a little too far upfield, then gets chopped to the ground by the pulling guard. Demens is flowing from the inside and can't quite run Redd down as he breaks outside. Redd runs OOB after about five.|
|O30||2||5||I-form 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Black||1|
|Black(+2) comes underneath the RT and into the running lane. He forces the RB away from the gaping lane behind him caused by Patterson(-1) getting blown back three yards and forces Redd to leap into a cluster of bodies in an attempt to avoid Black's tackle. RVB(+0.5), who's shooting inside when unblocked now, helped knock him off balance.|
|O31||3||4||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Rollout out||Talbott||5|
|Way too easy. No one within miles of McGloin (pressure -2) and the little out is open in front of Talbott(-1, cover -1)|
|O36||1||10||Ace twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||PA sack||T. Gordon||-10|
|Michigan PA blitzing all the way with Thomas Gordon(+2, RPS +2) sent off the corner on a McGloin search and destroy mission. He gets upfield too quickly for McGloin to adjust and tackles solidly for a huge sack. (Pressure +3)|
|O26||2||20||I-form twins||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Sagesse||6|
|Banks slants under his blocker and it takes a good adjustment from the pulling guard to wall him off. Sagesse(-1) is blown downfield immediately by the backside guard after getting scooped and the linebackers have to deal with a ton of blockers. Demens actually gets doubled, so he's doing well just to stand his ground. Fitzgerald(-0.5) overruns it, leaving Sagessse to come off his block seven yards downfield and tackle, which good for you but really the whole issue is that you're seven yards downfield.|
|O32||3||14||Ace 3-wide||Base 3-4||Pass||5||Corner||Floyd||Inc|
|Michigan sends blitzers and then sends a delayed LB once it's clear the TE is staying in. No one gets there (pressure -2). McGloin can throw a corner route; this one is well covered by Floyd(+1, cover +1) and the resulting throw is well high. Floyd was grabbing, but these days PI isn't PI unless it's called, same for holding. Rubbin's racin'.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-38, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Van Bergen||2|
|They run at RVB for the first time in what seems like forever; he gets a push on the two OL over him(+0.5) that allows Fitzgerald(+0.5) to flow hard to the outside, absorbing the playside tackle and leading FB, and cutting off the outside. Cutback forced. This time Banks(+0.5) is flowing properly and is there to tackle with help from Mouton(+0.5)|
|M47||2||8||I-form 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Counter||Fitzgerald||3|
|Michigan blitzing here; Fitz and C. Gordon come from the outside. RVB(+1) gets inside a tackle and takes out the pulling guard as this is supposed to go right up the middle of the field. Royster takes it a gap outside into the B where Fitzgerald(-1) is supposed to be; he runs too far upfield and gives up a gap between himself and the RVB mess. Demens(+1) was dropping into a zone to prevent any quick slants behind the blitz. When he reads run he comes up quickly and makes a solid tackle(+1) two yards downfield; Royster falls forward for two more. Plus for the Demens drop because I believe his pass pro responsibilities came first because of the Gordon blitz and he did react quickly enough to hold this down to 3.|
|M44||3||5||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Kovacs||14|
|Michigan finally covers the out but in doing so they open up the hitch inside of it. Kovacs(-1) is nowhere to be seen on a play with no deep routes and a rollout in a situation where a first down is a serious threat of game over (cover -2). I'm not sure if Demens is doing the right thing here since he seems to have the tailback and moves up towards the LOS. If he stayed back that's where he'd be. Also this could be Floyd or Mouton since they both end up covering the out. Any of these folks could be at fault. Just don't know. Do know that this is a pretty insane call for the situation. Let's have two deep safeties twenty yards downfield.|
|M30||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||0|
|Mouton(+1) flows, hits the pulling G at the LOS, gets outside of him, and stands there, eventually drawing the affections of the FB. Floyd(+0.5) comes up to hit the FB, too, cutting off all holes; Demens(+0.5) has scraped from the inside and delivers the tackle, though there's a bunch of bodies and a lot of falling so it wasn't a difficult one.|
|M30||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Scramble||Black||4|
|PSU slides its protection and lets Black(+0.5) in on a tailback; he gets cut but does convince McGloin to start scrambling around; no one open (cover +1), McGloin decides to take off. Four Wolverines converge after a few yards.|
|M26||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Flare||?||Inc|
|No one open (cover +1) and McGloin does something I don't think we've seen all day: checks down. Sad face. This is dead meat if caught and is poorly thrown anyway.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 31-41, 5 min 4th Q. PSU's last drive is academic and not charted.|
|Van Bergen||10||3||7||The solitary player to have a good day.|
|Martin||-||1||-1||I'm going to throw myself off a bridge.|
|Banks||5||6||-1||I'm picking it out right now.|
|Sagesse||0.5||6.5||-6||Not high enough.|
|Black||6.5||1||5.5||Hey… wait, what? I guess so.|
|TOTAL||22.5||19.5||3||Lost out to a terrible OL.|
|Mouton||6||5||1||Very difficult day; made that one awful missed tackle on Royster.|
|Roh||0.5||7||-6.5||Is not a linebacker. Is not a linebacker. Is not a linebacker.|
|C. Gordon||2||6.5||-4.5||Doesn't know WTF he's doing. Clearly inferior to…|
|T. Gordon||2.5||-||2.5||…but Cam played more than a guy who'd established himself as decent.|
|Demens||6.5||5||1.5||Still picking guard out from his teeth.|
|Fitzgerald||1||2||-1||More PT because Roh is not a linebacker.|
|TOTAL||18.5||25.5||-7||Position moves a disaster.|
|Floyd||3||12||-9||Awful, awful, awful.|
|Rogers||-||-||-||Did he play at all?|
|Kovacs||3||4||-1||At least he's around zero.|
|Johnson||-||-||-||Did play a little but did not make an impact.|
|Talbott||-||6||-6||Played in place of Rogers.|
|Christian||-||1||-1||One exploitable play.|
|Avery||-||-||-||DNP, I think.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||4||-4||Obviously tiny.|
|Pressure||7||11||-4||No pressure on PA.|
|Coverage||11||27||-16||An utter debacle.|
|Tackling||1||3||-2||This counts as good.|
|RPS||3||13||-10||Let's align our MLB two inches from the nose tackle.|
[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
I'm going to dispense with the cute. This was a debacle. Michigan abandoned a defensive philosophy that hadn't exactly shone against Iowa but did put Michigan in a position where better play here or there from one player would have gotten redzone stops. They forced five three-and-outs and endured an avalanche of short fields and turnovers, looking sort of respectable against a veteran offense with solidly above average numbers. The Mathlete had their performance about three points worse than an average defense. They did this without Mike Martin.
Michigan gets a bye week. They play a team without a mobile quarterback running the same assortment of conventional power and inside zone plays they've faced. They:
- Install Ray Vinopal at FS.
- Move Cam Gordon to spur and displace the Johnson/Gordon combo.
- Install a bizarre three-man line package that's somewhat like a stack but not really a stack.
All of these moves fail. Cam is the worst spur we've had all year because he's been playing it for a week and a half. Vinopal is clearly overmatched whenever called upon. And the 3-3-5 sees Michigan give up 41 points to a team that was 82nd in yardage, 99th in scoring, and starting a backup walk-on quarterback. Penn State scores on all but two of nine real drives. 41 points on nine real drives. Without a single turnover.
Every single move made in the bye week is a detriment, and two people have now told me that at half time the adjustment made to Kenny Demens's alignment was a result of Demens himself asking for it. Michigan badly regressed after a panicked bye week adjustment that saw them slide to the 3-3-5 and fail at it, which is exactly what happened in 2008. This doesn't even cover it…
…because the chart doesn't know Robert Bolden was out.
Michigan needs to pick one thing and do it. Right now what are they? Are they a stack? Are they a 4-3? Are they a 3-4? The answer to all of these questions is "no."
You know who did this? You know what is going on here? Do you know the thing that is happening to Michigan's defense?
"They're going to have to learn about us, OK? Let them try to stop a pro-style [defense], which has multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Let's see how they are going to do. They've had their advantage because I've come into recruiting late. Well, now it's Xs and Os time. Let's see who has the advantage now."
We've been Weis-ed. This is the equivalent of running a spread option against Georgia Tech and then abandoning it a quarter into the season. Michigan is running around with ten freshmen playing meaningful time and not one of them has any idea what they're supposed to be doing down to down. Greg Robinson has never had a successful college defense except for his one year at Texas where he just went with the flow before moving on, and his pedigree comes from the NFL. GERG E. Coyote, man.
So… your firing stance after the review of the game?
Even stronger. Michigan needs to get a proven collegiate defensive coordinator by paying ridiculous money and boot at least two and probably all of the other defensive assistants so he can bring in whoever he wants, and he needs an iron fist. There are two possibilities here: either GERG thought this stack was a good idea and needs to be fired, or GERG cannot maintain control over the gameplanning despite what happened in 2008 and needs to be fired along with everyone else.
Got a better example of the stack incoherence that got Kenny Demens eaten?
One step, he reads it, he tries to get back, he's way too close to the LOS and any release from an OL eats him.
How much brunt do the players bear?
Quite a bit, obviously. I mean:
JT Floyd had three instances of the worst coverage I've seen in my life. The one where he correctly read a stop-and-go only to run himself to the sideline five yards in front of the WR is even worse than this one, which is heroagagdddgsagasfying as is. In its glory:
McGloin threw about four terrible passes that a secondary with "players" "somewhat near" the "opponent" coulda/shoulda intercepted. On zero of them was the coverage within yards. Floyd's regressed badly and while Michigan's secondary was horrible with him they're not going to be much more horrible without him.
I won't get on anyone else too badly since we all knew the NT was death minus Martin and the other guys with big shiny negatives are freshmen who shouldn't see the field until they're redshirt juniors (Vinopal, Talbott) or second year players who've been jerked around into positions they aren't suited to and don't know very well (Roh, Cam Gordon). It's obvious why they're bad. This is Floyd's third year and he's not good.
It's symbolic that this is the play where it all went to hell:
Demens has that dead to rights if he can just get some gang tackling help. Marvin Robinson whiffs, Cam Gordon vacates the only area Royster can go, and Royster makes a terrific play to spin outside for the first down. Great play, but you can't spin past three guys without something having gone horribly wrong. That's a true freshman and a redshirt freshman who was a wide receiver last year and a safety last week. FFFUUUUUUUU.
Ryan Van Bergen.
Greg Robinson, everyone in the secondary, Not Mike Martin, and whoever decided Craig Roh should play linebacker.
What does it mean for blah blah blah?
Everyone will score every time they touch the ball this year and when Greg Robinson is fired after the season Michigan will hire a Tecmo Super Bowl cartridge to run their defense.
10/30/2010 – Michigan 31, Penn State 41 – 5-3, 1-3 Big Ten
these were the same pictures used in the very first Greg Robinson post and were named –fail1, –fail2, –fail3.
A few years back my fiancée (then girlfriend) and I had one of those conversations that draw out over two weeks. You have them when the other person's position is so bizarre and unbelievable that unlocking the reasoning behind it is important if you're going to hang around this person for a long time—because it's possible the reasoning goes something like "I'm a stabby person who stabs you in the stab places."
The argument was about the narrative of overarching, capital-P Progress that the world is or is not making. I, the engineer, pointed to various statistics that all point in the right direction. She regarded all of it as different paths to the same thing: misery for all but a few. A Foxconn factory is just a handy place to jump off, and they take even that away from you.
I don't think we ever came to a satisfactory conclusion despite the lingering threat of stabbing, but I don't think we have to anymore. Since that conversation the world's financial system exploded, the economy fell into a deep and lingering malaise that figures to last most of a decade, and Greg Robinson was hired to coordinate Michigan's defense.
The worst part has been the illusion. Actually, the worst part has been the actual progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress and the relentless losing.
The illusion: two straight years Michigan has leapt out to a hot start only to see all the supposedly quality wins evaporate. A thrilling win over Notre Dame devalued as the Irish collapse into a heap of laughable crap. UConn goes from team on the verge of a Big East championship to a team that can't even keep its head above water in a horrible conference. Indiana is still not a surprisingly good, competitive version of Indiana. It's just Indiana. Then there is losing, and not competitively.
The actual progress: Michigan has the #1 yardage offense in the Big Ten by a huge margin. The gap between Michigan and #2 Ohio State is considerably bigger than the gap between Ohio State and #7 Iowa. The prophesied Rodriguez Leap, which did happen last year, happened again this year. Rodriguez is what he was sold as.
That progress looked like enough to get Rodriguez through 2010 into a prove-it 2011 until some walk-on shredded Michigan for 28 first-half points. If Progress means not being Minnesota, Michigan is failing. At some point last night the extremely depressing score was 31-10 and the ticker scrolled to the OSU-Minnesota game, which was also 31-10. The Gophers managed to hold Penn State to a mere 33 points and caused them to punt an astounding six times. Michigan did it twice. A comprehensive description of the ways in which Michigan's defense failed last night is impossible, but here's an attempt: Penn State scored 24 points against Kent State, 22 against Temple, 13 against Illinois, and 44 against Youngstown State… with their starting quarterback.
Youngstown State is a 3-6 I-AA team ranked 94th in total defense. They are the closest comparison to Michigan's D amongst Penn State's opponents to date.
Greg Robinson should be fired. Tomorrow, yesterday, bring in Gary Moeller, bring in anyone, don't care. He should never have been hired, just like Jay Hopson and apparently Scott Shafer. At the time of his hiring he was a decade removed from his last sustained success, fresh off driving a respectable Syracuse program into Washington State territory. As a head coach, he sounded like an idiot. His team played like he was an idiot. Michigan hired him and has gotten exactly what they deserved.
The worst part other than the illusion and the actual progress and the relentless losing is that this was obvious at the time:
Anyway: being a stunningly incompetent head coach does not necessarily mean one is a stunningly incompetent coordinator. Numbers will have to make that case. Go, numbers, go!
Year Team PassEff Rush Scoring Total 2008 Syracuse 101 101 101 101 2007 Syracuse 109 108 104 111 2006 Syracuse 81 110 72 107 2005 Syracuse 37 97 67 57 2004 Texas 31 16 18 23
I'm a little stressed out by that. Robinson walked into a good situation at Texas* and managed not to screw that up, then went to Syracuse, where he had an average defense on a horrid team (1-10), which he then proceeded to crater for the next three years. Before his brief, star-making turn at Texas—again, for doing nothing more than treading water—he presided over one of the worst defenses in the NFL, getting fired after three years. The last actual success you can plausibly attribute to Greg Robinson came during his tenure as the Denver Broncos' DC, when his defenses were top ten in the NFL and a significant aid in Denver's back-to-back championships. Since then it's been abject failure save the one year in Texas.
Now it's even more blitheringly obvious. Syracuse is 6-2 despite Doug Marrone having R-U-N-N-O-F-T huge swathes of Robinson's leftover pack of unmotivated jackaninnies and while Scott Shafer's defense has gotten bombed in a couple games and is severely overrated because of games against two terrible I-AA schools and the worst I-A school (0-9 Akron, 56-10 losers to WMU and everyone else), the last two weeks they've allowed 7 and 14 points in road games against West Virginia and Cincinnati. Neither of those teams is good at offense, but neither is Penn State.
Greg Robinson is a terrible football coach. Hiring him was literally the dumbest thing Rich Rodriguez could have done, and he did it. Hiring Jay Hopson to see him leave two years later was a terrible decision, as was whatever the fiasco was with Shafer. The rot on defense goes deeper than Robinson, though—Michigan has insisted on being "multiple" this year, to what purpose is unknown. Week after week Michigan plays teams that sit in a 4-3 with a two-deep shell and play defense adequately enough for this Michigan team to be headed for a New Year's Day Bowl; Michigan has not maintained the same system year-to-year during the Rodriguez era, largely because the leftover guys on the staff are all 3-3-5 guys and they keep insisting that these DCs who have never run the system become One of Us. Braves and Birds nailed this problem when he compared it to Tommy Tuberville's zombie offensive assistants submarining Tony Franklin and eventually Tuberville himself.
Michigan's addiction to the 3-3-5 is causing them to do the exact same thing Rodriguez rejected as dumb his first year when he installed the spread because that's what he knew how to coach—they're shoehorning a coach into a system when that coach doesn't even know how to properly align his middle linebacker. At left, Michigan's horrible defense. At right, West Virginia's excellent 2007 D:
Kenny Demens finally moved further from the LOS in the second half of the Penn State game. The supposedly attacking, slanting, different-front-making defense has been a passive heap of quivering goo coached by someone who clearly doesn't understand what the system he is running is supposed to accomplish. Robinson's been put in a terrible position, but he has no track record save blithering idiocy and there is no reason to retain him.
As for Rodriguez, well, hell. The are four games left, for one. Michigan is #4 in total yardage nationally and isn't scoring at an insane pace only because the special teams and defense have been beyond terrible. The special teams were not a problem before this year and really the only problem this year has been the kicker*, which is a thing that just happens sometimes in college. If they overhaul the defensive coaching by either bringing in an actual 3-3-5 guy like Jeff Casteel—who may be in need of a job after the season—or toss the Tuberville saboteurs overboard and bring in a Serious Man, I'd be willing to see where the Denard Robinson era ends up.
*(Willing to bet that by year's end Michigan isn't giving up any yards on an average exchange of punts; kickoff returns have been bad but that's an incredibly minor facet of the game—an average team is gaining one more yard per attempt than M.)
Change please. How many terrible decisions does Jeremy Gallon have to make before he loses his job at returning things?
Also: gararagagagargh Vincent Smith third and two. Hopkins's fumble was not his fault; Robinson put the ball in his shoulder. (I'm surprised he handed the ball off high—if Smith was in the game Robinson's handoff would have been in Smith's facemask.) Shaw can't be healthy, Cox is not healthy, Toussaint is not healthy… it's actually possible that Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God has been more wroth than Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God this year. The tailback situation is so bad that even Fred Jackson has gone no sugarcoat:
“We have to play better,” Jackson said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got plays there to be made and we’re not making them, I’m talking from the running back position.
“We have to play better.”
This is different from Jackson's usual approach of calling a spade a fantastical thousand-story casino in the clouds.
DerpBord. The circumstances behind hiring Greg Robinson are eerily similar to those behind the re-hire of Mike DeBord after his "no mas" faceplant at Central Michigan, down to the seemingly more competent guy being pushed out due to unconfirmed but widely speculated conflict. One dollar Robinson is assistant (to the) linebackers coach in the NFL next year.
The Ron English Effect. The next defensive coordinator (or next head coach, depending) is in line for a mega Ron English Effect, wherein some guy takes over a crew of players returning a ton of starters and looks like a genius for improving them when all he really did is not prevent his players from aging normally. In 2006, Ron English inherited Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, David Harris, Prescott Burgess, Shawn Crable, and Leon Hall and looked like a genius. The next year absent all those guys save Crable he was bombed into oblivion during The Horror and Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game.
Anyway, next year's DC gets every starter back save Mouton, Rogers, and Banks, adds Troy Woolfolk, and should have a healthy Mike Martin. He could pick his teeth and look SMRT.
Martin doom. It's clear by now that Martin's injury is the dreaded high ankle sprain and we probably won't see him play effectively the rest of the season. Hurray.
Aw, hell, it's just variations of this with either equal or slightly less tolerance for Rodriguez's terrible choices on the defensive side of the ball. I do like the Hoover Street Rag saying the "shields are down." That's about right. Zook is loading his photon torpedoes.