"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
I agree with these men, whatever they happen to be saying. Would you like your Gallon touchdown in… Italian or something?
Les Miles is in a lot of trouble, unless he isn't in any. Sports Illustrated has published the first of five articles detailing NCAA malfeasance at Oklahoma State initiated during the Les Miles era and continuing today. This one is about players getting money from boosters—a lot of them:
In separate interviews seven other former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments; 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs-- including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium -- that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.
The moral outrage here is all gone…
One or two standouts bought a new car or expensive jewelry, team members say, but the vast majority of the players used the extra cash to purchase everyday items -- food, clothing, tickets to a movie. "There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."
…but flagrantly violating NCAA rules is, you know, not good. And if you're wondering why so many dudes are breaking omerta here; we may find out at the end of the series, which promises an article on:
One of the selling points of college football is that it changes lives, that young men have their character and fortunes enhanced by taking part in the sport, even if they remain on campus for only a short time. But in the past decade, player after player has been driven out of Stillwater, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse, and a few have attempted suicide. COMING IN NEXT WEEK'S SI/ONLINE SEPT. 17
That does retain outrage.
I'm surprised, but not that surprised. Miles has left a trail of sketchy events in his wake that get overwhelmed by his nuttiness. I may have been 100% wrong about Hoke during the last coaching search, but at least I was right about Miles. Again, it's wonderful to look at Brady Hoke and know that he will neither choose a dumb punt nor turn purple on the sideline nor have a massive cadre of discontent former players who hate him so much to take him down.
Side note: I feel really bad for Brian Phillips. Squinky's revenge. I may feel less bad when Oklahoma State gets a warning squint from the NCAA.
You oughta have excellent medical insurance. Purdue football in two articles. One:
Purdue safety to play vs. Indiana St. with two broken hands
It's not unusual for a college football player to wrap up a broken hand and play with it, particularly for a big game. But Purdue safety Landon Feichter is preparing to play for his Boilermakers' home opener against Indiana State Saturday with two broken hands.
Purdue safety Landon Feichter breaks leg
Feichter was forced to leave Saturday's game in the first half with a leg injury and coach Darrell Hazell confirmed on Saturday night that Feichter had suffered a broken leg.
It's just a flesh wound.
The moral of the story is if you see Purdue football coming towards you, punch it in the nose and run away. Purdue football will have a broken nose, but won't be able to tell.
Jeremy Gallon presents. Okay, official Michigan tumblr, okay:
Gardner knows this is going on, and enjoys looking at the back of his own head.
So that explains it. Via Doug Karsch, Jeremy Gallon describes his game:
"That was a great performance. After the game, I asked him, 'How tall are you, and how tall do you play?' He said, 'I'm 5-8 and a half, but I play like I'm 5-9.'
Now is not then. Orson found this. It is Greg Robinson:
THE BEAVER IS OUT! THE BEAVER IS OUT!
This man was in charge of our defense. He is a weirdo who sets everything on fire. How does that guy get hired by anyone to do anything more complicated than clean gutters?
Saying a quarterback reminds you of Erik Ainge of Tennessee can be good and bad. It's good, because he's mobile, physically gifted, and often fearless. It's bad because sometimes that means Evil Erik Ainge, the one who threw interceptions when the team could least afford it. Gardner sort of reminds me of Ainge. Tommy Rees, however, might BE Erik Ainge, using a warm body as a spiritual proxy to replay his career in an alternate historical line.
Accuracy issues largely put aside, Gardner's main issue is Reesin' it too often.
Yes. Throw it to Dileo. From Michigan Monday:
Drew Dileo had three catches for 18 yards out of the slot, including the final touchdown of the game on a nice option route that left a defender reminiscing about where Dileo used to be and no longer was.
Get this man the ball.
LAZERS. Stewart Mandel:
That No. 17 Michigan beat the comparably ranked No. 14 Irish is not especially surprising. That it rolled up 41 points on a very talented Notre Dame defense, however, is eye-opening. In particular, quarterback Devin Gardner put all questions to rest about what Michigan's offense will look like post-Denard Robinson. It looks really darn explosive, primarily because Gardner -- who wore No. 98 this week in honor of 1940 Heisman winner Tom Harmon -- has asserted himself as a laser-armed passer.
…Gardner's skills were never more evident than on his last touchdown pass, which came on second-and-goal from the four-yard line with 4:18 remaining. With Notre Dame pass rushers Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo coming at him full bore from opposite sides, Gardner set his feet and threw a perfectly placed dart to receiver Drew Dileo in the end zone.
Probably not a rivalry. This is on the official Notre Dame football blog:
That Notre Dame was struggling against Michigan made me feel that void much more acutely than I would had we been winning, or even struggling against another opponent.
But this was Michigan.
I was shaking in the aftermath of the two fourth-quarter pass interference calls, completely enraged. “I can’t remember the last time I was this pissed,” I texted my dad, who replied, “2011.”
Oh, yeah. 2011.
Etc.: Michigan moves into BCS bowl projections. MVictors has everything you need to know about the Harmon stuff. USF dude impressed with M-ND. Gardner and Gallon postgame. NDMSPaint does Eminem. Northwestern QBs were rather good against Syracuse. Stuffing the Passer. Go. Partake.
[Programming note: UFR is coming today, but later than usual, say 4 or 5. For some reason I'm having trouble summoning the willpower to slog through all of it.]
Sponsor note. You may be driving in for the Air Force game and wondering where you will park. It hangs over you like a great dark cloud: where will my friends be? Will I have to walk through miles of jungle to get to them? Where did all this jungle come from anyway?
Well, skip that bit. Park 'n' Party solves those issues by organizing gameday parking. You can park next to your buddies, no intervening jungle. You can reserve a space just where you want it. You can do all of these things. Bonuses this year:
- A dedicated RV lot, plus RV spots at Fingerle Lumber.
- Event planning with Zingerman's and MGoPatio folk.
- Five bucks off Golf Course parking as long as you're in the Thursday before gameday.
Air Force parking awaits you. Soon they will debut a 2.0 website. Soon.
Holgo. I know they hate our guts and went all ex-girlfriend on us when Rich Rodriguez left, but I can't help but want West Virginia to tear the Big 12 up. They're weird, passionate, isolated from all recruiting hotbeds that are not Pittsburgh, they've got a history of putting up video-game numbers, and their coach says stuff like this:
I don't think it would go well if we hired that guy (learning: I has it), but I'll admire them from afar.
I am not sure you are up on recent events. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun on Michigan:
"There are a handful of programs in college football that are guaranteed at least 10 victories every season," Calhoun said, "Michigan is one of them. They clearly are the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference."
I'm imagining a world where this is literally true. I'm so happy, in this world. I wear sunglasses all the time and high five anyone I come across. I make pancakes a lot just so I can put a whipped-cream smiley face on them. If my car breaks down, I exclaim "aw, shucks!"
I chew bubble-gum nonstop.
my watch says it is STAB O'CLOCK
How did this not end in homicide? Serious question:
The misery wasn't over for some fans of the No.8-ranked Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington when their team took a 41-14 pounding at the hands of then-No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Many who planned to catch a taxi for the return trip to their hotels or other lodgings after the nationally televised football game were in for a long wait. Some complained of standing in line with dozens of other fans and waiting as long as two hours for a cab.
Beer + that game + two hour wait for cab == STABBY STABBY STAB STAB. The local news channel interviewing these folks says this lady is not mincing words!
Michigan fan Elizabeth Jahn minced no words. "If there's a system, and this is where the fans are supposed to be stationed and situated, that should be communicated to the cab companies," she said.
That lady minced those words, TV station. She took those words and made them tiny and even by chopping. If she was not mincing words she would have said "I STAB YOUUUUUUU."
Alphabetical. Spencer kicks it off by talking about how Alabama owned Michigan. At least we're not alone:
Again, it is not a Big Ten thing: disabuse yourself of that notion immediately, Michigan fan. The last thing we want you feeling is special, because what happened to you on Saturday night in Dallas was not special. Slightly different than in past years? Perhaps: Doug Nussmeier's offense appears to be a bit more happy to turn A.J. McCarron loose, particularly in early innings, and the defense didn't pressure so much as constrict Michigan into tiny, useless spaces turning Denard Robinson into a doomed sub captain. Depth charges: Alabama has them
Unfortunately, his assertion that no one died does not account for the Countess injury. Sad face.
Bubble popping? I've muttered about how college football fans are getting close to the breaking point for a while now, and Pat Forde has just documented an opening weekend that was an attendance bust all around. I was shocked at more than one of these factoids:
There was exactly one announced capacity crowd in eight Southeastern Conference home openers. Before the Labor Day Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game, six out of seven Atlantic Coast Conference schools had smaller crowds than their openers last year – some of them much smaller. Attendance was down at six out of eight Big 12 home openers from 2011. Five out of eight Pac-12 schools had smaller crowds as well, and Oregon's 13-year sellout streak was in jeopardy until game day.
I saw the Florida-BGSU game and was shocked at a corner of the endzone in the upper deck that was all but empty. Even the bluebloods are reaching their limit.
Michigan doesn't seem to have similar problems except when it comes to getting the students to show up on time, but they should benefit from this trend. They may have already after snagging one-off home games with Oregon State and Colorado in the near future. Would those have happened ten years ago? Probably not. Increasing ticket prices and the ubiquity of television are pushing the economics of college football back towards actual games between teams. Tomato cans aren't going away but we should see them gradually recede from their boring-ass apex. High five, epic ongoing recession!
O’Bannon seeks a judge’s permission to expand the class action to include current D-I football and men’s basketball players. O’Bannon does not ask that current players be paid while in college. Instead, he wants a temporary trust set up for monies generated by the licensing and sale of their names, images and likenesses. Players could access those trusts at the completion of their collegiate careers.
The O'Bannon plan sends half(!) of broadcasting and a third of video game revenue to the players. Even partial success here would be seismic. I'm in favor, obviously.
Austin Hatch to 2014. Everyone in the world speculated that Austin Hatch would take another year of high school after his tragic plane crash, and now that's official. He's a 2014 recruit now.
Michigan is now at 13 for next year's team will have open spots if Hardaway or Trey Burke head for the NBA, which is why they're still after some 2013 guys. The most prominent is Reggie Cameron, a 2.0 version of Smotrycz hopefully without the existential depression.
As for Hatch, if he doesn't recover to the point where he can play, Michigan will still honor his scholarship. Presumably they would give him a medical; I'm guessing in this situation the NCAA would provide whatever waivers would be necessary lickety-split.
!?!?!?!? Touch the Banner interviews JB Fitzgerald, and he says this!
(3.) If you had to choose, who was your favorite coach at Michigan, including position coaches?
"So many great coaches I had the privilege of learning from, which I expected going into a program like Michigan. Two coaches really stand out. First, Greg Robinson - truly a class act and the depth of football knowledge that I was able to gain from him is hard to put a price on. And then of course Coach Hoke."
Air Force stuff. Via mgovideo:
MVictors: As one of the representatives of Bennie Oosterbaan family, did the athletic department reach out to you to ask if the family would be interested in participating in the Legends program?
McCready: Dave Brandon contacted me last September to see what I thought of the Legends program. I loved the idea. He and asked if I could put him in touch with members of Bennie’s family. I was happy to put Dave in touch with Bennie’s surviving relatives (8 in all), most of whom Bennie and his wife Delmas were very close to throughout their lives. Dave sent letters to all of them. Every member of the family responded to Dave that they loved and supported the Legends Program and the "unretiring" of Bennie’s jersey.
McCready wants Jordan Kovacs to wear 47, which nooooooooooooooooooo.
Seriously, though, as the guy who famously hauled in Benny Friedman's passes, I'd hope Oosterbaan's 47 goes to a wideout. 47 would be a lot more notable on a WR than a defensive player, and Michigan already has to throw Gerald Ford's #48 to someone other than a lineman due to modern-day number restrictions. The Wisterts' #11 should end up on the DL somewhere; Ron Kramer should obviously be given to a TE.
Etc.: Quality diary featuring Hall and Oates. A dinged Rex Burkhead does not need surgery. He may be out a bit but should be fine by the time Michigan hits Lincoln. Texas A&M is going to get pwned. This Week in "John L Smith must stay forever": prank-calls reporter at presser. Comprehensive M blogosphere Alabama react collection. To his credit, Dantonio says MSU players need to shut up.
Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero? But sometimes there's a man … and I'm talkin' about the Dude here… sometimes there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.
-The Stranger, The Big Lebowksi
I construct the preview every year from the bones of the previous one, and when I took my first stabs at organizing what I was going to say about the secondary I ran across this, because obviously:
How long ago was that? A hundred years.
Joe Paterno was still Penn State's coach, and wonderful. JT Floyd was unable to stay within ten yards of a receiver. Michigan's football program was riven with factionalism. Craig Roh was some sort of linebacker and Kenny Demens was lining up an inch from the nose tackle. Rich Rodriguez had hired Greg Robinson, and this was Greg Robinson burning the world in response.
How long ago was this?
Bathrooms had not yet been invented. Top hats were all the rage. Punting was a good idea. Pterodactyls were the hot new species. It was a long, long time ago, October of 2010. A long time ago.
It was college, so we did ridiculous things. In my sophomore year one of those was having a fight about who the "real William Carlos Williams" was. William Carlos Williams was obviously the real William Carlos Williams but somehow Kit and Sunil contrived to have a dispute about which one of them really was the real William Carlos Williams anyway. This was settled the way these things always are: with a poetry-off.
We met with great solemnity in Ryan's dorm room. One of us had found a recipe for a drink that supposedly tasted like apple pie. I was still in the phase where changing my state of mind with alcohol was something beneath me and did not partake. I do remember there being whipped cream from a can. It was drinking in a dorm room. Of course there was whipped cream.
Embarrassingly sweet drinks were consumed as the festivities progressed until the poetry-off. Kit and Sunil would be given a topic and asked to compose a poem on that theme in the style of William Carlos Williams. The topic—revealed with the allez cuisine flourish of an Iron Chef ingredient—was red-haired women.
When the allotted minutes had passed and time was called, Kit went first. Kit had prepared. His poem was a mélange of repurposed WCW lines that he'd memorized and crammed together into a surprisingly coherent Frankenstein of a poem.
Sunil was next. He'd had far too much to drink and was showing it. Sitting on Ryan's bed slumped over, he roused himself. He looked down at what he'd written, and started.
"I love red haired bitches
they say 'whatever' and 'like'
how easily we imbibe their terminology
At this juncture Sunil toppled over backward on the bed and said no more. The panel of judges unanimously declared him the Real William Carlos Williams. Sunil celebrated by throwing up into the trash.
I think about Sunil's poem whenever someone other than Brady Hoke calls the Great Eye of Columbus "Ohio." This is all the time. Kit assembled a frankenpoem from someone's else's mouth; Sunil just said stuff. One of these things stuck. There's an "imbibe this terminology" tag on this blog.
Brady Hoke dropped the "State" from Ohio and drove the Buckeyes to distraction to the point where the program—not just the fans—celebrated the return of "that school up north" like Terrelle Pryor welcoming an auto dealer into his tattoo-artist-sponsored apartment. Hoke dropped "This is Michigan" in his introductory press conference and tacked on the "fergodsakes" that made it immortal. He called last year's outfit Team 132, and now this year's outfit is team 133 and the ridiculous recruiting class that will enroll next year is shooting #team134 hashtags back and forth across twitter.
Hoke didn't seem to mean anything by any of it. He just talked, and though he tried to press-conference it things slipped out sideways. We imbibed them.
That's marketing. The rest is just repetition.
A year ago—or a hundred, whatever, I can't tell anymore—I wrote a story about the 2011 season that focused on how it was a damn good thing that Denard and Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen and Kevin Koger were around because I'd been in the stands when they were losing to Purdue and some guy kept screaming "they don't have any HEART" and heard tale after tale of shameful behavior directed at Rich Rodriguez—if you can't recall, he was the head coach at the time—by program alums.
A year later, Brady Hoke has every last Michigan fan marching behind him, not to mention Greg Mattison and a heaping handful of the country's best high school football players. This has just happened, you know? It is of course planned and difficult and meticulousness is required, but on one level Hoke just vacuumed everyone up because he is who he is.
Last February I was in a hotel in Grand Rapids where people had gathered to talk about football. I'm in the very corner of this room and I've got longer hair than any five other people in it put together and a goatee and I look like I do, you know. Like a guy who has trouble crossing borders sometimes. I could have been wearing a sequined dress and heels and not have looked less like a football coach than I did.
Hoke is standing two feet in front of me.
I have this completely insane fear that somehow Hoke will recognize me even though he knows nothing about me. He may not even know what the internet is. But this is an insane fear, remember. I don't want to make eye contact in case he says "you're the one who wrote a post called 'Profiles In Cronyism' about me, and several other uncomplimentary things besides" and this will spur the rest of the room to toss me bodily out of this hotel. But I'm staring at him all the same.
Borges is there, too. He's talking a couple rooms down but has stopped in for a visit. In an hour I'll sneak over to his talk and listen, enraptured, for an hour as he describes Michigan's passing concepts, and feel embittered when he has to stop instead of continuing on for another four. Before he gets into it he'll tell the room that it is great working for "Brady" because he trusts you to do your job, unlike some coaches he's worked under. When he says it, it sounds like he's saying no one will ever leave him, because why would you?
Right now Borges is surveying a room packed from stem to stern for Hoke and making a self-depreciating comment about the lack of people in his much smaller room. Brady grins, and says "Nobody cares about offense, Al. Who cares about offense?" He says it again. He laughs, and is completely at ease as myself and a half-dozen other star-struck folk file this interaction away in our brains. He walks away and we fall into line behind him, like so many others.
I'll miss you, Birds+Books APR image header, except I'll probably still use you
APR threat: downgraded. My annual fretting about the first-year Rich Rodriguez number has been a full-post kind of thing the last few years. This year it gets downgraded to a UV bullet because of this number: 984. That's Michigan's most recent one-year score, and it's shiny enough to get Michigan over the 930 Mendoza line even with that 897 anchor. Hurray for everyone.
Unless Michigan experiences another flurry of transfers—unlikely—the next few June days on which everyone reports APR scores because it's the middle of June will be opportunities to reflect on what a swell guy Brady Hoke is. Officially standing down on APR alert.
Michigan's other sports are all doing well, as per usual.
Playoff: almost officially happening. It seems like we've had articles about the inevitably of a four-team playoff for months now. At some point if the thing is so inevitable people would stop writing about it. No one's writing about players being required to wear helmets this fall. Anyway, it seems like there has finally been a meeting with an actual single endorsed plan. It is this (emphasis added):
While the B.C.S. commissioners did not announce the details of how they would pick the teams for the four-team playoff, a source with direct knowledge of the decision said the plan is for a selection committee to “more than likely” pick the four best teams.
There will be a preference given to conference champions in the selection, but how much is yet to be determined. Strength of schedule will also be strongly considered. There have yet to be any discussions about how the finances will be split among the teams.
The selection committee will subject a sport steeped in regional biases to a different type of controversy, although one that will likely die down a bit now that there will be semifinal and final games. The two semifinal games are expected to be played within the bowl system and the national championship will be bid on like the Super Bowl.
In a joint statement, the 11 conference commissioners and the Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that they had reached a “consensus behind a four-team, seeded playoff, while recognizing that the presidents will certainly present their views, including a discussion of a Plus-One.”
That's lip service. Presidents are going to rubber stamp it. Pop champagne? It could be better but it's a huge improvement. Other than the Big Ten's self-defeating opposition to home playoff games leading them to perpetual road travels, I'm cool with it. FWIW, even without preferences for conference champions, the SEC would only have grabbed multiple bids three times.
As for where the first one will be, bet on Dallas.
Why not both? This is a revamped sports bar split into MSU and Michigan halves.
VERNON TWP. — Uncle Buck’s Northern Exposure is making a dramatic change in format — from a nearly topless dance club to big-screen sports bar.
In fact, it was an overload of drama, says owner Ken Canfield, that prompted the change, including a different name: Crossroads Sports Bar.
Missed opportunity there.
Hockey schedule: again with the front-loading. Michigan's released the hockey schedule, which again has an extremely light back end. Nine of Michigan's final 12 games are away from home (one is at the Joe) and there are just six home games (and the U18 game) in 2013. Not like they could do anything about that what with the conference going away next year. Price of leaving.
Michigan plays no road games in the slim nonconference portion of the schedule. They've got two against RIT, another one-off versus Bentley, the game at MSG against Cornell, and the outdoor GLI. They'll open against Tech and get WMU or MSU in the second game.
I hope this isn't an indication of where Michigan's nonconference schedule will go when they join the Big Ten. It probably isn't. Red has sought out tough competition as frequently as possible since the program got its footing, and with a whopping 14 games to play with—16 if M makes the trip to Alaska—they should have room for annual series against the big powers.
Context at Maize and Brew.
Should you flip your defense or not? Generally the answer is "not" these days because of spread hurry up stuff. You may remember Michigan doing this a bit early in the year, but that was a stop-gap measure:
Why to Flip
Flipping the defensive positions based on strength of the Offensive formation started as a way to keep teaching simple.
Rather than having to teach a Defensive End to play either lined up either inside a Tight End or outside shade on a Tackle, you could teach him to always align to the strength, meaning he spent all of his time on the Tight End.
The teaching got simpler, as players had to know less about the entire game, and more about their own little piece of tunnel vision. It became easy to know very little about the game while still being a very good and knowledgeable player about your own position.
No more, because if you flip your bits people will run hurry-up on your face and get you confused. Better to have a general understanding these days than a hyper-specific focus. That's a subtle way in which the game's generally increasing specialization is taking a step back.
FWIW, the coach who posted this noted that a number of guys are using field and boundary calls to set their defense instead of opponent alignment. (IE, you line up to the wide side or short side of the field no matter what the offense does.) FWIW, Mattison is one.
More uniform concepts. This time Notre Dame does it to themselves:
The second comment is an image of Chris Hall—life's winner—and his glorious Tom Hammond tie. Well done.
Etc.: UMHoops gives the 1,000-foot view on Michigan's five-man 2012 basketball recruiting class. Rothstein horning in on my season intro column by discussing Hoke's inadvertent marketing genius. Baumgardner has a series on key moments from last football season. I disagree with Baumgardner's take on the 49% TD against Iowa—he seems to think the issue there was whether Hemingway was in, but the real problem was the nose of the ball hitting the ground.
1. How does the shift back to the 4-3 under fit the personnel?
left: stack no blitzy. right: 4-3, though an even 4-3, not the under
Better than the 3-3-5-type-substance but it's not going to be a huge difference. Fits:
- BETTER: Roh (LB/DE to WDE), Demens (MLB to MLB with guys in front of him)
- SAME: RVB(DE to SDE/DT), Martin (NT to NT), Heininger (DE to SDE), Gordon (spur to SLB), Jones (WLB to WLB), Gordon (FS to FS), cornerbacks
- WORSE: Kovacs (bandit to SS)
Craig Roh and Jibreel Black were men without a position last year. Though Roh actually help up pretty well when he moved to the DL late, he was still miscast as a DE in a three-man line. Black just got crushed. This year both will be playing weakside DE, where they can get after one tackle.
Kenny Demens will be shielded by two senior defensive tackles, allowing him to flow to the ball like he did against Iowa. Michigan set of small, quick WLBs is better suited for the 4-3 since it will be harder for opponents to get a hat on them.
The major negative is not finding a way to keep the two safeties near the LOS. Both are effective blitzers who are a little dodgy in a deep half.
2. How big is the coaching upgrade? Will the transition hurt more than it?
The Mathlete's numbers suggest a coaching change is a drag on the improvement of very bad defenses worth about eight spots. It seems flabbergasting that that could be the case for this specific situation, however. dnak438 found a GERG effect of approximately negative 30(!) spots. While you should take that with a grain of salt because the sample size there is extremely small, each grain adds to a pile threatening to eclipse the Schwarzschild radius. Going from Greg Robinson not running a system he knows to Greg Mattison teaching exactly what he's taught for a zillion years has to be a positive even in the short term.
What causes that drag? Probably a system change. How long has Michigan been running its current system? Six games. They've probably got more experience running the under than the 3-3-5.
Then there are the position coaches: Adam Braithwaite was a grad assistant promoted to LB coach without the usual stops at East Nowhere State. Tony Gibson was reputed to be mostly a recruiter. Bruce Tall seemed pretty good but in his place Michigan has Hoke, Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery. That's an upgrade across the board.
3. Why is everybody so suicidal when the personnel doesn't look entirely doomy?
doug karsch interviewing popular perception about the defense. via firstbase
Slap me for saying this but the starting lineup isn't that scary save for two spots: SDE, where walk-ons Will Heininger and Nathan Brink are backed up by Nobody At All, and WLB, where four cats are fighting in a sack. You know what they say about WLBs: if you've got four you don't have any.
The rest of the line is Martin, Van Bergen, and Roh. Demens is promising at linebacker and they've got a couple of good options at SAM. And the secondary isn't awesome but Avery/Woolfolk/Kovacs/Gordon looks like it could be below average, which will seem like heaven. This year's edition of "Are You Experienced?" sees Michigan move towards average. There's still a gap, but it's narrowing. The Decimated Defense series also sees its Michigan number creep towards sane.
So why is everyone, including myself, afraid of going 7-5 this year with just about everyone back everywhere?
Well, there's depth. Once you get past those starters its scary. There are three backups I wouldn't wince upon seeing enter on the field: Black, Jake Ryan, and Carvin Johnson. I guess Brink fits in there as well but only because he'd be spotting another walk-on. Everyone else on the line has been beaten out by Brink and Heininger, I have little faith in JT Floyd, and even if Marell Evans was injured at Hampton he's done little in four years of football. When injuries happen the dropoff will be severe. It won't even take injuries for the defensive line to wane in effectiveness. Modern football rotates the DL. Michigan has a choice between tired starters and ineffective backups.
Even so I still can't work up the same sense of bowel-crippling panic I had last year when I believed the secondary would tread "horrible, polluted, razor-blade-filled, despair-laden water." Let's poke around at
PROJECTED FRESHMAN CONTRIBUTORS
2010: Black, Gordon, Gordon, Johnson, Avery, Talbott
2011: Maybe Ash
2010: 4-3 under, 3-4, 3-3-5
2011: 4-3 under
RADICAL MIDSEASON SWITCH TO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SYSTEM
2010: Third year running
2011: Hell no
2010: Rubbing a stuffed beaver in your face
2011: Navy SEAL tridents
Michigan wasn't just rocking an underclass two-deep, they were rocking a freshman-heavy two deep. This could work out! For a given definition of work out!
4. What is with Will Campbell? Isn't the situation at SDE just horrible?
Man, I don't know about Campbell. Maybe his center of gravity is just too high. Maybe he'll never learn technique in the same way Mike Cox can't remember to run into the hole.
The situation at SDE is caused by whatever it is with Will Campbell and will not be encouraging. Heininger was already a non-entity in the passing game and that was 28 pounds ago. And who the hell knows about Brink? I'm guessing Mattison is just trying to get that spot to hold up against double teams in the run game and will rely on Roh/Martin/Van Bergen to get the pass rush. If they can do that it's a win.
Can they do that? Why do I ask myself unanswerable questions?
Michigan will be much, much better this year. How much better depends on:
- The health of key, irreplaceable pieces. These are Martin, Demens, Van Bergen, and the starting corners.
- The improvement of last year's freshmen. Avery, both Gordons, and Black all have the potential to leap forward Darius Morris style.
- Nathan Brink. If Michigan's unearthed something here that not only makes SDE acceptable it means the guys he beat out are potentially serviceable.
- Craig Roh. He could be anything from Tim Jamison to James Hall.
The first bit is unknowable but I can hazard guesses on the latter three: two of the four freshmen above will be startlingly good. Two will be meh. I'm guessing Thomas Gordon and Avery are the former. Brink will not be as bad as everyone feared but that SDE spot is going to be averaging +2 for the season, which is bad. Roh will be in the 75th percentile of his range, a fringe All Big Ten guy.
When I wrote that the D should improve but "not enough" I didn't account for a GERG/RR effect that is real. They'll be better than 82nd in advanced metrics this year by a long shot.
Now, behold the greater-thans and less-thans!
- senior Mike Martin with ankles > Mike Martin
- junior Craig Roh playing his actual position >>> linebacker Craig Roh
- junior Demens >> sophomore Demens/Ezeh
- sophomore Cam Gordon > freshman Gordon/Gordon/Johnson
- Woolfolk >>> Rogers
- sophomore Avery >> freshman Avery/Floyd
- T. Gordon/Johnson >> Gordon/Vinopal
- senior RVB == junior RVB
- Kovacs == Kovacs
- Heininger/Brink == Banks
- Jones/Hawthorne/Herron/Morgan << Mouton
It's going to take two years to dig out of this hole completely but I think the defense will rebound more effectively than stats and conventional wisdom suggest.
Last Year's Stupid Predictions
Fumbles recovered double to ten.
Michigan recovered seven.
The secondary is actually better than last year's secondary because long touchdowns are less frequent. It will still be very bad.
First sentence: false. Second: true.
Mouton is much better, leads the team in TFLs and sacks, and is still incredibly frustrating.
Very accurate. Mouton led the team in tackles (117), was in a three-way tie for TFLs (8.5, Kovacs and RVB tied) and had two sacks. RVB (4) and Banks (3) beat him but not by much in a pathetic year for sacks.
Mike Martin is great and should get first-team Big Ten recognition, though he probably won't.
This might have actually transpired if he hadn't gotten laid up with high ankle sprains. Before he was chopped down against MSU he was playing very, very well.
Mark Moundros holds on to the starting MLB job all season.
Michigan manages a modest improvement in yards allowed, getting up to the 60-70 range nationally.
Not so much: Michigan dipped to 110th.
More accurate than anyone thought possible.
This Year's Stupid Predictions
- Courtney Avery busts out. Going into next year people are talking about him as an All Big Ten performer.
- Kenny Demens leads the team in tackles with Northwestern-MLB-type numbers.
- Brink is a legitimate player, better than Greg Banks was last year. The biggest source of pain on the defense is the WLB.
- Craig Roh leads the team in sacks with eight.
- Sacks almost double from 1.4 per game to 2.4. That would be a move from 98th to around 30th.
- Turnovers forced go from 19 to 27.
- Michigan noses just above average in yardage allowed. Advanced metrics have them about 50th.
- EVERYTHING SEEMS WONDERFUL
I am a long time reader of your blog, this summer I went to Normandy to visit the D Day beaches. Imagine my surprise when in Carentan (where the 101 airborne landed) I saw this car dealer.
We've just gotten some copyright lawyers a free trip to Normandy. Say thank you, copyright lawyers.
One of my biggest fear with the new coaching staff is that they're going to end up marginalizing Devin Gardner because he's not a player they recruited. I think I'm justified in my worry because that sort of thing happens all the time. He certainly has the measurables to play in a pro-style system. And after seeing what Vince Young did at Texas and what Troy Smith did at OSU, I think his skill set could work in a non-spread 'n shred offense.
Here's what the QB depth chart looks like for the next four years -
2011: Robinson, Gardner, Bellomy
2012: Robinson(maybe), Gardner, Bellomy
2013: Gardner, Bellomy, Morris
2014: Gardner(maybe), Bellomy, Morris
So in 2013, Gardner will have to beat out Bellomy, a player the current staff recruited, and Morris, probably the most hyped QB recruit we've gotten since that dude from Brighton. Then in 2014, if he gets his redshirt, he'll have to compete with a sophomore Morris, and I'd say all bets are off at that point.
I think you are paranoid.
Gardner's an interesting guy. He's not Denard or Troy Smith or John Navarre. Vince Young really is his closest comparable. (Insert copious disclaimers about how good Young was and how unlikely Gardner performs at that level.)
What does a MANBALL team do with Vince Young? Do they look at the legs as a nice bonus when the play breaks down? Is Michigan even a MANBALL team? I mean… there's Hoke's words and then there's what Al Borges actually did at SDSU. I'm working on a post about this: the limited evidence we have suggests Hoke means what he says when he says he doesn't futz with Borges at all. It's tough to reconcile that with Hoke's very Lloydball statements.
So… like much about the next few years, how well Gardner fits is unknown. But even if we assume the Lloyd-iest, MANBALL-iest version of Michigan under Hoke he has a major asset: experience. Shane Morris is going to have to be a prodigious talent to wrest the starting job from Gardner when he's a freshman and Gardner is a redshirt junior with two years under Borges. As for Bellomy, his recruiting profile reads like a poor man's Gardner—if Gardner doesn't get a fair shot Bellomy will be in the same boat.
Now that Beilein is going all gangbusters on 2013, Dylan keeps downplaying the situation. I definitely see where he is coming from, as none of them have even signed their LOI's yet. I also understand that it is common practice to pull a kid's fifth year (in McCliman's case). But I still struggle with the idea of hoping Colton Christian transfers, or hoping THJr decides to go pro, or hoping that if we (by some miracle) land McGary that he's a one and done.
What's your take on it? Too early to get all worked up about this? If by this time next year, the roster is exactly the same except without Stu and Zack, is that time to get all worked up about this?
p.s. is it "wrong" or whatever to accept a kid's verbal commitment, but then not allow him to sign the LOI when the day comes? The verbal is not at all binding on the kid's part, obviously. For example, if Stu and Zack are the only ones to leave, could we decide to only take one of the 2012 small forwards? The other would still have a year to find a team, and it would definitely be less morally dubious then, say, a greyshirt or something.
Michigan is currently oversigned by two for the fall of 2013. One of those scholarships can be freed up by not offering a fifth year to McLimans, which is a standard, fair practice. He should have a degree by then.
To not have another one would mean not losing a single player over the next two years. That is exceedingly unlikely. You have to go back to 2005-06 to find a two year period in which no one left without exhausting their eligibility*. In 2005 Tommy Amaker had eight scholarship players—not a recipe for a playing time crunch.
So, yes, it is too early to get worked up. If there's zero attrition over the course of the next year or Michigan lands McGary, then you might cock an eyebrow. Even then you have the Hatch situation** and the possibility of an NBA departure. The chances Michigan sees Tim Hardaway's senior season seem pretty low right now.
There's a balancing act between what's good for the program and what's good for the kids that always leaves some chance you miscalculate. In the case of Nick Saban, that chance is 100% once he signs 24 kids with maybe half that many spots. It's all program there. In Beilein's case the chance no one leaves the team in two full years is small enough that I don't have a problem with handing out one more spot than seems available.
If it does come down to the wire with no room and Beilein has to part ways with someone in the 2013 class, they'll be right to be pissed off. They won't be locked into a LOI with no other options, though. It would be better for the kid.
The most likely outcome of the scholarship crunch in 2013 is a firm handshake for McLimans, an NBA draft party for Hardaway, and Austin Hatch either reclassifying or becoming everyone's favorite student manager. That would actually leave Michigan room for McGary or someone else.
*[Early departures since follow. 2007: Reed Baker, Jerret Smith. (Baker may not count since he had an explicitly one-year offer.) 2008: Ekpe Udoh, Ron Coleman. 2009: Kelvin Grady. 2010: Anthony Wright (fifth year), Laval Lucas-Perry, Manny Harris. 2010: Darius Morris.]
**[It's clear Michigan was planning on four guys in 2013, as they continued to pursue Irvin and Walton heavily after Hatch's commitment. If Hatch does need to be replaced Michigan might have already suffered the attrition to make the fourth guy totally un-sketch.]
just saw this bit on Scientology (no i'm not wearing a tie and white shirt) and made this connection. That teddy bear thingy on the sidelines was beyond bizarre, yet no explanation that i have seen has been put out there. could GERG have been a Hubbardite? Would this explain better our total failure on D?
check it out:
if not, do you know of any story behind this rubbing the face of players with a stuffed animal?
Cazzie has nailed it. When this went down…
…GERG was screaming "YOU DID IT FOR XENU." Explains everything.