I did not make this headline up
Looking way off into the future here, but is there any chance Shane Morris gets a redshirt in 2013? Would he accept one? Would we be in a position to sit him?
Redshirt or no, he would enter 2013 behind a redshirt junior Devin Gardner (should he actually receive a 5th year himself) and Russell Bellomy. I just keep thinking it would be nice to enter a 2017 season (told you I was thinking way off) with a senior QB when Notre Dame and Ohio would play us at home.
Your expressions are greatly appreciated.
If Gardner wins the job and has a strong season I think you would see Morris redshirted, especially if Gardner gets his redshirt (something about which I've heard conflicting information on). I don't think Morris would have a problem with it—he can see the large upside in 2017 as well as anyone—and with Bellomy an experienced-second stringer the only reason they'd have to put Morris on the field is in the event of a serious injury.
The most likely scenario in which Morris doesn't get the redshirt is the one in which Gardner is not getting his retroactively and Morris is far and away the second-best QB on the roster. In that situation you might see Michigan get Morris some playing time for grooming purposes, much like what everyone expects to see happen with Joe Bolden at MLB this year. I'm still rooting for a redshirt.
Utah road game sense making.
If the Utah series is true, this really makes no sense at all. Brandon has complained about playing @ Uconn in 2013 because "the Rent" only holds 40k (and to be fair to Brandon, this series was scheduled by Bill Martin). Utah's Stadium has a capacity of 46k. Doesn't DB's rationale to move the Uconn game hold no weight now in light of scheduling us to play at a 46k seat stadium on a Thursday night? I really dont believe an extra 6,000 seats makes enough of a difference for us to play this road game versus the Uconn road game.
I get scheduling is difficult, but this one is pretty frustrating. Wish we could have gotten a Pac-12 team we haven't seen recently.
In Dave Brandon's mind the 46k is okay as long as there is a synergistic marketeing campaign that brings the Wow Factor into the equation. By leveraging the increased mindshare acquired by being top-of-mind at the beginning of the college football season, Michigan can increase its brand awareness amongst decision-makers and trendsetters. By being the first team to play in a college football season, Michigan will find a competitive advantage to grow the digital audience and build brand loyalty. A pearlescent hipster sheen will descend upon the brand, whereupon Michigan will become the Apple of college football.
I think "pearlescent hipster sheen" was a misstep. Too many words people might use in a novel instead of a powerpoint presentation.
Anyway: Brandon's persistent complaints about UConn's desire to have a game against Michigan on their campus aren't really about capacity, they are about Wow Factor. Wow Factor can be acquired by doing something unusual that might get you attention, no matter how good of an idea it is. Flyovers, new uniforms, night games, really loud jet pack guys, full student sections, Special K, legends patches, field hashtags, rescheduling the Horror: these are all sources of Wow Factor. Some are neutral. Some are positive. Some are negative. All provide someone in the athletic department who needs to justify his existence a line in a performance evaluation. This is the heart of Wow Factor: it looks good on a performance evaluation.
The rumored Thursday night opener* provides Wow Factor, therefore playing in a 46k stadium is acceptable. If the on-campus UConn game was modified to provide wow factor—playing underwater, maybe—it would also be acceptable. A regular football game in a regular stadium at a regular time gives Brandon a rash.
*[Still just a rumor. Chris Balas, the source on this information, also mentioned difficulties for Utah in 2015 that could cause the return date to be delayed until 2016. If that happened 2016 would be another weak-looking six-game home slate thanks to the Big Ten's refusal to give Michigan a reasonable home/road split in conference.]
Legends numbers deployment.
LEAVE 32 ALONE
Completely agree with you, re: flipping seniors' numbers diminishes their own impact on the program as much, if not more, than it rewards them. The most extreme—and perhaps ludicrous—example is Desmond, who if he returns for his senior year could have been "rewarded" with the 1 jersey. Then there wouldn't be a 21 "Legends Jersey."
If they're really going to do this, it should almost be something that a guy "earns" during his freshman (or even redshirt) year. Then we can see if lives up to it. And guys that don't earn it can use the snub to become determined to make their own a number a future legend. Seems better than diluting (even in a superficial way) the career of guy between his two biggest years in the program.
Anyway, good to have something to discuss in June.
[Editor's note: Yesterday, Michigan officially announced they would un-retire not only Gerald Ford's number but also those of Ron Kramer and Bennie Oosterbaan. 48, 47, and 87 are back on the market and seemingly must be filled.]
The number-flipping thing seems like an extension of the trend with the #1 jersey, which was effectively mothballed once Braylon Edwards sponsored a scholarship requiring that it be earned after enrollment.
Unlike the #1, these legends jerseys seem like they must be filled every year, and if they're not filled they will flip someone to them, thus preventing many players who might turn themselves into legends wearing their own number into… not that. I think I'm having a strong negative reaction to this because DO YOU PEOPLE REALIZE WE HAVE A COMPETENT SAFETY WHO MAY HAVE TO CHANGE HIS NUMBER NO I DON'T THINK YOU DO I DON'T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND THE GRAVITY OF WHAT THIS MEANS TO THE FUTURE LEGACY OF THE #32 JERSEY, WHICH IS ON THE VERGE OF REMINDING ME OF A CRITICAL TACKLE IN SPACE THAT IS NOT MISSED, IS NEVER EVER MISSED.
/considers situation in which Denard Robinson would switch from 16 to 7 or something as a senior
Anyway: I hope Michigan uses them like the #1 used to be deployed, as a carrot to dangle in front of certain recruits. 87 is the tight end version of #1. 47 is the… er… wide receiver version of #1. 48 is… well, it's a roving version of #1 I assume will find itself on linebackers and safeties mostly. (Linemen can no longer wear 48.) Some of the guys you hand the uniforms to won't work out, and that's life. That seems better than moving a handful of seniors annually.
That doesn't get around the fact that Michigan has to give them out now. So… Michigan should hand 48 to Joe Bolden, 87 to AJ Williams or Devin Funchess, and 47 to Amarah Darboh or Jehu Chesson. Leave
Britney Kovacs alone, and if a kid with one of those jerseys does something naughty, take it away.
Interesting bits from the Women's Football Academy.
I volunteered at the Women's Football Academy and I asked all the coaches except Borges how they would feel about an early signing period in football. All except LB coach Mark Smith said they were all for it. Smith said he didn't like it because that would mean official visits in the summer and then coaches would get no time off, as opposed to the 3-4 weeks they now get in late June and July.
One of the things they pointed out as being a big advantage is that kids from lower economic families could take official visits during the summer. Mattison said this is very important because kids are committing so early now and by the time the poorer kids have a chance to take the official visits when their senior season starts, it is getting to be "too late."
Mattison specifically talked about kids who want to "put on a hat" at the Under Armour game. He tells those kids, "Then you won't be committing to Michigan because by that time, we won't have any scholarships left."
Your humble correspondent,
I think the official visit timing and an early signing day are separate matters—and still dislike the idea that a kid can sign before his coach might get fired—but I'm not posting this to argue, just to relate the emailed information. Love the hat thing. Down with hats.
A guy who gets it slightly more than the first commenter on the post.
In re: the sabotage version of Special K for a Day:
This is pretty obscure, so you're totally excused for having missed this, but I think all institutional destroying from the inside pretty much begins and ends with this deep cut: mid-70s Ann Arbor art-noise collective Destroy All Monsters reuniting in 2002 (with the late Mike Kelley on vocals) and disemboweling "The Victors" (begins about 0:47).
This is it:
I still like it better than "In The Big House."
Obviously Hoke and Co. are killing it on recruiting now and things couldn't be better. One thing my friends and I were talking about is how come there are so few good lefty quarterbacks historically. I'm only 29 so my football references are limited, but beyond Steve Young, Vick, Mark Brunell, Esiason, and Tebow can you think of any other top lefty quarterbacks that panned out? Should we be worried about Sugar Shane? Any idea why this is the case? Do high school coaches see strong lefty quarterbacks and immediately focus them on pitching?
I was initially going to dismiss this as paranoia but here's a blog post listing every lefthanded QB in NFL history as of this year. There have been 39 total, and the list of current lefty starters is Vick and Matt Leinart. Since Young retired in '99, the only lefties to have anything resembling a career are Scott Mitchell, Brunell, Vick, and Leinart with Tebow pending and Chris Simms carving out a modern-day-Todd-Collins ramblin' backup sort of career. Lefties are only 10% of the population but that's a period of 22 years with four(!) lefty QBs of any significance, one of them (Vick) a guy whose amazing physical gifts bought him chances he otherwise would not have gotten. Young was a scrambler, too.
The baseball explanation is plausible. The google leads you to the wikipedia and shows you an extensive discussion of the over-representation of lefthanded players in a lot of sports, including baseball, and when you think about the profile of a potential NFL quarterback and a potential MLB pitcher there's not a whole lot of difference. It's nice if they're tall, they don't really have to run much, and they have to be able to throw a ball through a brick wall. The baseball players don't have to be able to take a helmet to the ribs without folding in half. Football players don't seem to have that kind of restriction. A Venn diagram of the two groups has the NFL prospects as a subset of those for MLB.
The main difference between the two groups is their reaction to left-handedness. MLB says "yes please, with a cherry." The NFL says "this is inconvenient, now I have to reconfigure the offensive line. " So the guys in the NFL subset are much more likely to be sucked out of football, and voila: your population of 6'4" lefty riflemen who enjoy getting crushed is even more depressed relative to righties.
That's a long way of saying that I don't think Michigan has much to worry about in re: Shane Morris. The forces that make lefty NFL quarterbacks rare aren't likely to apply to individual quarterbacks who happen to be lefthanded.
addendum to most embarrassing Michigan items
probably should be slotted in just under the flying squirrel sleeping bag:
the name is incredible. Where is thematic gnome 1?
I think I may know the answer to this since I stumbled across a thematic gnome in my perusal of the official site:
I didn't put it on the list despite its ridiculousness because it's a mean gnome wearing a Michigan hat, what looks sort of like jean shorts, and fake wolverine-like shoes that I doubt exist in real life. It's almost so ridiculous it's defensible? I don't know.
The comment thread on that post turned into a confessional about which users had which items—no one confessed to the chili powder—so these things are obviously subjective. That is, they're subjective unless you're the other variety of person on that thread: the ones who were incensed that the product they perceived as most ludicrous was not higher.
brian, discussing superconferences today got me thinking. if the standards of a conference are 1 crossover game (as in a 16 team superconference) and a post season championship game, then doesn't the big ten and pac 12's future scheduling agreement of 1 game per year and champions playing in the rose bowl create something of a 24 team superconference between the big ten and pac 12?
why should either conference accept any more lower rung schools to dilute their tv money and bowl payouts to get to 16 teams when they already act in the equivalent capacity of a superconference?
I'm like… whoah. The chatter about the Big Ten-Pac-12 pact giving the conferences the advantages of a "superconference" without the drawbacks didn't make much sense to me when it happened, but putting it in that perspective is close to sense.
The way it makes things make sense is by making superconferences seem inexplicable. The ACC went to 14 in a panicked attempt to stave off poaching, or at least preserve a semblance of quality in its aftermath. The SEC went to 14 because Mike Slive screwed up his television negotiations. Absent those motivators why would anyone make a move like that? There is a clear motivation to get to 12—championship game—and none to go to 14 or 16. The superconference meme relies on the idea that the champions of the 16-team Death Stars will meet in a playoff, but how do you get there? You can't have a playoff without the Pac-12 and Big Ten, and neither of those conferences has any motivation to expand.
Hell, if you're Texas or Oklahoma the same logic applies to your ten-team conference. Right now those two teams have the easiest glide path to a playoff. They seem uninterested in getting the conference up to even 12 now that they've stabilized things.
The reasons you usually hear about the motivations to expand are hand-waving about footprints and stuff, unexamined Commisioner's New Clothes assumptions. Opposed to that are very obvious concerns about scheduling and keeping the pie slices the same size when you add teams. 16 team contraptions aren't a stable state. The rumbling in the ACC suggests even 14 is going to be awkward.
Berkley Edwards: already on the roster, but named "Dennis Norfleet"
Guys, are the Michigan coaches really not offering Berkley Edwards? I understand he is small, but as fast as he is and the fact he is a legacy makes me question the thought here. I’ve noticed this hasn’t been mentioned at all since the ever mature Braylon went on Twitter to complain. At the very least, I hope the coaches reach out the Edwards family and keep any discussion out of the social media.
What I don’t get though is if he is someone Nebraska considers, can Michigan afford to overlook him? I know I really think that the Buckeyes not recruiting Mike McCray is going to come back to haunt them. I don’t want Berkley to come back and haunt us.
Berkley Edward's chances went from okay to slim when Michigan flipped Dennis Norfleet the day before Signing Day and from slim to life support when Brady Hoke went Donkey Kong on 2013 recruiting. At this point Michigan can afford to overlook someone Nebraska offers two scholarships and an earldom, let alone considers.
Michigan has 17 kids in the class and is going to somewhere between 22 and 24. Even if we take the most Edwards-friendly number, six of those seven scholarships are earmarked for:
- Ty Isaac
- Two wide receivers
- Three defensive linemen
So then you're talking about adding Edwards over another corner, safety, TE, or WR. Is a pint-sized tailback most likely to make an impact on special teams really a priority over one of those spots, especially when you already have three running backs in the class and recruited a seemingly-superior quarkback prospect in Norfleet the year previous? No.
Add in the likelihood that whoever Michigan is pursuing for spot 24 at one of those other positions is going to be a four-star type and it's a blowout. Offering Edwards makes no sense. McCray, a consensus four-star ranked in the top 100 by Rivals and ESPN with two dozen BCS offers including Oklahoma, is not even a comparison.
Edwards might have a shot if Isaac ends up at USC and Michigan can't latch on to another touted guy at tailback. Even in that situation it seems unlikely since Michigan is loaded with tiny darty return guys who are the only tailbacks Fred Jackson doesn't think are the second coming of Earl Campbell. He just does not make sense on the roster.
Wouldn't you rather have another safety? Safeties are important, yo.
I am not sure I followed your latest post. There might be something I am missing. I am not a fan of Brandon or this game, but I don't see how a home-and-home makes us better of financially. Let's say a bad opponent home game nets us 5 million. Playing Bama at home nets us 7 million. And for arguments sake lets say the return of a home-and-home with Bama would be in 2013.
The way it is
2012 Jerry Game: 4.7 million + 2013 crap team: 5 million = 9.7 million
2012 Bama: 7 million + 2013 at Bama: 0 = 7 million
2012 crap: 5 million + 2013 crap: 5 million = 10 million (but you don't get to play Bama; but the band is happy)
I would choose home and home if it was me because it is not my money and that is more fun, but I don't think that is the best choice financially. I would choose both over more UMass games.
The thing you and the OUTRAGED at OUTRAGE gang in the comments are missing is the ticket price. Apparently a game like Michigan-Alabama can support a ticket price range from $125 to $285. This is at a minimum 66% higher than Michigan is currently charging for bodybag games, not the 17% suggested in your email (remember that Michigan has to shell out about $2 million to get the one-off games in the No Bama scenario).
When the ticket prices came in 30 bucks or more—potentially much more—above what Michigan is charging for their "premium" game this year that changed the math drastically. Maybe that pricing is not sustainable over 110,000 tickets like it was for the 25,000 Michigan was given for Jerryworld, but… yeah, it totally is. Find me a Michigan fan who'd be less likely to buy a season ticket package this year that had 'Bama on it but was $50 more expensive. That person does not exist.
A correctly priced monster home-and-home is financially comparable to the dual punching bag scenario even without considering the ancillary benefits that will come from increased interest in season tickets, suites, goodwill from the fanbase, donations, etc. It would have made more sense for both Alabama and Michigan to schedule a game in Ann Arbor for 2013, then figure out where the return game goes later.
In the long term this is largely moot. After the Pac-12 agreement kicks in Michigan will have a road nonconference game every year except when the ND series takes its brief breaks. It's hard to imagine them adding a third opponent who would require Michigan to travel.
I just hate getting sold a bill of goods, is all.
Keep Crisler ArenaCenter weird.
Hey Brian. My buddy works with the guy that buys the costumes (and tickets) for the students wearing the lobster suits. With Smotrycz transferring, the lobsters are going to become bees through a glorious transformation. I hope this insider tidbit helps you get through the slow period and maybe even leads to some cool visions on your current meds.
I will miss the lobstryczs, but good on the Maize Rage for keeping the weird quotient high. I suggest someone purchase an enormous buffalo head mask so they can be Bielfeldt's Buffalo. Someone should wear a fez for no discernible reason. He should have one of those huge faces of himself wearing the fez, as well, cocking an eyebrow and looking suave.
Also also we're going to need a giant Canadian flag for Stauskas. And some guys dressed up like beetles who click their mandibles alarmingly during free throws. And there should be a moose. A live moose. With moose teeth. Wearing a toque. His name is Graham the Brown Moose, and he sets huge screens. In the event a live moose is not permitted in Crisler we will innovate.
In addition, on certain defensive possessions Crisler should adopt the disconcerting Yost penalty-kill hooting. Whenever Stauskas hits a three the entire student section should shout "You're my buddy, pal!" There will be a Mark Twain impersonator as well.
Addendum: we need a prominently located fat shirtless guy. On his chest we will paint an image of Glen Rice raising up for a three-pointer. He will not be allowed to shower. We should think about putting a hat on him as well. Hats are crucial for the entire operation. People should also dress like the future people in Bill and Ted.
These are reasonable suggestions. /jedi hand wave
What is the possibility of switching to a 3-4 defense next year? With a lack of a proven option at DT, and a seeming plethora of linebackers coming in that look ready to start from Day 1, it seems like it would be a wise move. Mattison ran it at Baltimore so we wouldn't need to worry about running a system our DC doesn't understand. Or is that asking for trouble with Will 'high pads' Campbell trying to absorb double teams?
This comes up over and over. Look:
Brian - Any chance Mattison takes a stab at running a 3-4 next year with Will Campbell as the space eater in the middle and Cam Gordon/Jake Ryan the speedy LBs? I image he prefers that base defense because of the variety of blitzing looks it can bring to confuse a 20 year old QB but has he discussed it at all in press conferences. Also, the LBs coming in are upgrading the athleticism to potentially smooth the transition in coming years.
-Jim Dudnick BBA '01
I think I've already dispelled it multiple times, but here it goes again: Michigan will not switch to a 3-4. If it looks like they're recruiting to a 3-4, well, that's because the 4-3 under is halfway between a traditional 4-3 and a 3-4.
Consider the effect of shifting the line against the strength of the formation:
- The SDE moves inside the tight end and becomes vulnerable to double teams
- The NT hovers near the center
- the DT is lined up just outside the guard
- the WDE gets outside the tackle and is hard to double team
What personnel do you want for that? You want a big bulky DE on the strongside and a penetrating, athletic whip on the weakside. Your nose tackle needs to be able to take on and beat double teams either by splitting them or forcing both players to stay in to block him; the three-tech also must hold up on the interior. That's not that different from what you want from your three down linemen and weakside OLB in the 3-4; add in the SLB hovering around the line and the two MLB types hanging out off the LOS and the under is probably closer to the 3-4 than a 4-3 in terms of personnel.
What the under gives you that the 3-4 doesn't is flexibility in your playmakers. This year Mike Martin one-gapped the hell out of opponents, darting into the backfield and destroying play after play. Next year Ondre Pipkins or maybe Campbell (but probably Pipkins) may be able to shove opponents five yards backwards but he's not going to be as explosive. This should be okay since he will free up Demens. In the 3-4 Martin is not a viable nose (or at least not as good of one) because he has to two-gap—hold his ground and be able to pop off either side. Theoretically, anyway. These days fronts are multiple.
Moving to the 3-4 does not fix any hypothetical issues on the line; Roh and the various WDEs become OLBs* and you're still replacing the three interior players. Instead of allowing those new guys to take one gap and hit it hard you're asking them to play both sides of a player, which means they have to be immensely strong and able to anchor; quickness is much less of a consideration. The 3-4 would exacerbate potential issues with young and/or light players (like Brink). It is the opposite of a panacea.
*[Remember that Michigan's one-year dalliance with the 3-4 saw Lamarr Woodley play OLB.]
35th in Kenpom seems low for a team that beat their number 3 and 6 teams. This seems to be a big game team, they play well against good teams and then sleep walk through Iowa and Alabama A&M Tech State. What would our ranking be if we removed every team over 50th (arbitrary cutoff)?
I don't know but I agree that Kenpom seems to have a weakness in that sloppy games against poor competition seem to have a greater impact on the rankings than they do expectations from Vegas. This can make the rankings and predictions look odd.
But that's tough to weed out. If I understand his methodology correctly, Pomeroy tests out changes to his rankings and only implements them if they improve the overall accuracy of his prediction engine. The '06 Gonzaga team is one that Pomeroy thinks his system underrated because they did not play with much effort defensively unless they had to and thus didn't rack up the huge margins of victory that see teams like OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin near the top of his ratings this year.
In Wisconsin's case you can make an argument that their defensive style is dominant against weak competition but fails for whatever reason against better competition… but then how do you explain the Badgers' considerable success over the past half-decade? If you can't find some correlation to go with your model that's as useless as a correlation without a model.
Michigan beat Western Illinois by four and a few other weak teams by ten or thirteen and thus hover lower in the rankings than they maybe should. (Iowa is another matter. That's not screwing around after getting a big lead, it's getting blown out by a bad team.) Could Pomeroy find a way to downplay games between badly mismatched teams? Maybe. If and only if it made the prediction engine stronger, though. Evidently he hasn't.
DISCLAIMER: I know I rely on Kenpom's tempo-free stats extensively but they are just numbers and they do have flaws even Pomeroy admits; that doesn't make them bad or useless. It's a reminder to keep them in perspective.
What are the options for captains on the men's basketball team next year? With Novak and Douglass around it's something we haven't had to think much about much lately, but what scenarios do you foresee playing out? I figure you're looking at a group of players (provided no unexpected attrition) from Vogrich (Sr), Morgan (Jr), Smotrycz (Jr), Hardaway (Jr), and Burke (So). Being that Vogrich seems to have a dab of the gritty mcgrit that Novak and Douglass feature along with being the only senior, I can see him being one of them. But from there do you hope THJ matures with the imaginary 'C' on his jersey? Do you go back to the sophomore route that worked with Novak and give a nod to Burke? Do you tap into the floppy hair of McLimans? So many options...
That is tough, and gives me the heebie-jeebies as I think about Michigan's inexplicable collapse in 2009-2010 after the departures of CJ Lee and David Merritt. That decline is the most powerful argument in favor of gritty leadership I've ever run across, and Michigan is going to have huge shoes to fill in that department next year. Getting that right is going to be captial-I Important.
Honestly… doesn't Burke seem like the guy despite his youth? He spent the offseason before his arrival documenting his insane workrate on the internet and has immediately become the headiest player on the team, non-Novak division. Hardaway has the passion but often fails to control it; Morgan is a quiet guy who has to be goaded into emotion by Bacari Alexander, Vogrich doesn't seem to have the on-court impact to be a candidate, and Smotrycz… I don't know. Smotrycz just doesn't give off the vibe. I'd guess Burke and Hardaway, as odd as that might seem.
The more you know, part one.
If Wikipedia is correct, Denard Robinson has the chance to be the first player in Michigan history to be a three-time team MVP. There have been 6 two-timers:
Nobody has been a two-time B1G MVP
This may be something to keep in mind when debates about Robinson's place in Michigan history (like, is he patch-worthy) come up. Unless Robinson makes that argument moot.
The more you know, part two.
A commenter dug down to find the last Michigan players who graduated with a winning record against MSU:
It was Louis Bullock (1995-99), unless we're not counting the vacated games. If we're not counting any of them (we vacated the 1992-93 season and everything from 1995-99), I believe we have to go back to the seniors on the 1989-90 team (Terry Mills, Rumeal Robinson, Mike Griffin and I think someone else [ed: Loy Vaught]).
Bullock does not count. Bullock can go to hell. Vacated games do not count generally. So it's been over 20 years. That's what's at stake for Zack Novak and Stu Douglass in Breslin.
Side note: I hear tell Michigan is going to PSL-up the lower bowl in Crisler next year, with one section opposite the students at midcourt designated for high rollers with a 1k+ PSL attached. Part of this revamp will be the addition of a club analogous to the one at Michigan Stadium for said high rollers.
It sure would be nice to somehow name it after a guy who's given his all for the program like Novak…
…instead of a rich guy whose contributions we certainly appreciate but do not viscerally feel, no offense rich guys.
Hemingway slot business.
As I understand it, you use smaller, quicker WR's in the slot because they are matched up against lumbering LB's who can't keep up. You then use bigger, stronger WR's on the outside against the smaller CB's. It seems like we use Hemmingway in the slot quite often with Gallon or Odoms on the outside. Am I missing something here? I just don't understand why Hemmingway is in the slot so much. It's not like he is Floyd or Calvin Johnson, and they are trying to move him all over the field to keep defenses question because they are so freaked out about Hemmingway.
If you're not going to screen with those slots or use them as runners, there's not a whole lot of point to making those slot dudes little buggers. Putting your top WR there does get you some advantages.
One: it's hard to jam the guy since he's starting off the line of scrimmage and many defenses don't feature a guy directly over the slot. Two: you're essentially preventing the opponent's top corner from covering the guy man to man. If that's not the case you're forcing a nickel package on the field and forcing that corner away from his regular spot. This can have negative impacts on run fills from both members of the secondary. Three: hypothetically your big guy is a relatively good blocker and having him in the slot can help you attack the edge. This works better when we're talking about Floyd or BJ Cunningham.
Just because Hemingway isn't Floyd or Megatron doesn't mean he's not the closest thing Michigan has available, and since the Michigan offense involves zero quick throws to the slot, putting him there doesn't cost you anything.
A timely response on next year's OL.
Despite the awesome win at Illinois this week I still felt like Omameh had a rough day as I saw him get beat on a few occasions. Here's a question for you - based on the outlook for 2012, do you think the coaches might consider moving him to RT and keeping Schofield and Barnum as the two guards? Maybe Omameh just isn't cut out for mauling large DT or pulling, which is what the guard needs to do in this offense.
I think that's a possibility, but one that will depend on how quickly Chris Bryant progresses and how ready to play Kyle Kalis is more than Schofield.
I bet a dollar Schofield is the starting right tackle next year. He was neck and neck with Huyge for the starting job there before Barnum went down; Omameh has not played tackle in two or three years; there are no other tackles on the dang roster. If Schofield isn't the second-best pass protector on the team next year I'll be shocked. So he goes outside.
That means Omameh moving to tackle makes him a backup. Is that a realistic possibility for a would-be three year starter competing with freshmen, one of them a true freshman? Normally the answer there would be "no way" but watching him get chucked to the ground by Illinois (and everybody else) and seeing Omameh's inexperience pulling makes you wonder. He's been hurt more than anyone else on the offense by the coaching change and it's not a huge stretch to see a 340-pound mauler displace him, no matter the experience difference.
That might not be a bad thing. Omameh as the #6 lineman means there is a #6 lineman. Right now that looks far from guaranteed.
MGoBlog ruins relationships.
I've been dating an LSU alum for almost 3 months. In the week leading up to their big game I made the mistake of explaining (unsolicited) the ethical shortcomings of oversigning and the significant competitive advantage that it promotes. She follows CFB sparingly and didn't have much to say about the topic, but at her friends' game party on Saturday night she made sure to have the LSU contingent confront me. The return arguments went something like "you're jealous", "it's a numbers game", and "my friend's cousin plays for the team, he's not very good and he hasn't been cut", etc.
I'm no longer concerned with proving my point but rather with the chasm that oversigning has created in our relationship. Needless to say, she didn't agree with me and said that she just wanted me to be an LSU fan with her. Naturally, I want her to follow Michigan, too. I'm conflicted because I can't reconcile supporting Les Miles or the SEC with my own values. What's a man to do?
If your girlfriend is following LSU only sparingly she will not be able to tell the difference between your mild affection for the Hat's grass-eating insanity and a genuine desire for LSU to win. That will get you through games against the SEC West's collection of robot mercenary Bible salesmen. LSU is the lesser evil in their division if only because Miles is Loki incarnate.
Past that I can't help you. LSU had an assistant coach fired for arranging illicit benefits for a recruit. LSU's oversigning practices are just short of Alabama's for overall odiousness. LSU is mixed up in the Lyles scouting thing. If they were exposed to the same level of scrutiny OSU just went through, Baton Rouge would be a smoking, deliciously-scented crater. They're fun, I guess. I hate fun.
It kind of sounds like this girl is not a winner, anyway. Having her friends dogpile on you to offer sports talk radio opinions about oversigning is not a good sign. "Hey, I know what my boyfriend will like: being berated by a room full of people." Find a nice Texas alum so you can accuse the Longhorns of destroying college football, preferably at a Mack Brown house party.
[ED-S: Pro-tip: don't take relationship advice from Brian unless your relationship is based on an incomparable understanding of college football]
Coaching: it matters.
this year; last year
There's been a long line of assertions about college football being highly dependent on unusually gifted/determined athletes (It's not about X's and O's; it's about Jimmies and Joes comes to mind), and that coaching is more an area where the game can be lost and talent squandered (Ron Zook) or the marginal advantages in the same team strategy add up to wins over equally talented teams (Jim Tressel).
While it seems that some players excel regardless of coaching (Brandon Graham, Jordan Kovacs), the turnaround of Michigan's defense seems to be as good a test case as any for how coaching affects performance. They improved dramatically, but they did it opposite an offense that was similarly potent and returned almost everyone from a year ago, played similar caliber teams if not the same teams, and employed youth effectively in the secondary in stark contrast to previous years.
In light of this, all things being equal, how big a difference do you think having great versus "just good" coaching makes in college football (Like if Michigan had hired anyone who had the misfortune of not being born a Raven's defensive coordinator), setting aside that it only needs to be one point better in each game for the win?
The only thing Greg Mattison and Greg Robinson have in common other than first names—I'm pretty sure they're not even the same species—is their ability to mutter "scheme is overrated" when asked a question they don't really feel like answering. But if this year's Michigan defense has taught anyone anything it's that yes, scheme matters a lot. So does technique coaching.
Michigan did not go from 108th in the country to top 20 by replacing their players. They did it by playing a defense that made sense, delivering remarkably effective zone blitzes, and making certain total scrubs a lot better at football.
Scheme matters. So does everything else. Acquiring your pieces is a third of the game. Developing them into football players is a third. And deploying them effectively is a third.
GRADES AT THESE THINGS FOR VARIOUS THINGS
- Acquire: C-
- Develop: F
- Deploy: F
2011 Michigan defense
- Acquire: C+
- Develop: A
- Deploy: A-
- Acquire: B+
- Develop: B+
- Deploy: A
- Acquire: A-
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: C
Jim Tressel regime
- Acquire: A*
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: A-
Brady Hoke so far (tenuous)
- Acquire: A
- Develop: A-
- Deploy: B+ (provisional)
Fight over the niggling half-grades if you must. To answer the guy's question, the difference between great and "just good" schematic coaching in college football is not a massive difference in win percentage—it's not going to win you three games a year—but when you're at the level Michigan expects to be, edging out an extra half-win per year has a massive impact on the overall prestige of your program. The difference between 6-6 and 7-5 is nothing. The difference between 10-2 and 11-1 is immense, as Wisconsin and their omission from national title discussion have found out.
*[Illicit or no.]
Spread: we wants it forever.
A question that I would love to hear Borges asked is, given the fact that he has run a lot of spread this year, for really the first time in his career because of Denard, has it influenced his offensive philosophy? How he will approach game planning in future?
He always talks about how he's changed over the years and added things to his concepts, and I would love to hear him talk about that. I have a hope that we actually do not move completely away from the spread once Denard is gone--I would love it if we retained some of that concept and retained the ability to run the ball from the QB position. I think it really complicates defensive planning to have a dual threat guy back there (no offense Shane Morris). Is it possible to have Heiko ask a question of that sort?
No one can be certain, but since your question conjured forth an image of Heiko trudging to a press conference with "Taps" playing in the background… eh… I'm guessing not so much. When these guys came in they told everyone in no uncertain terms that Michigan football was running power down your throat, and they kept trying to do that from time to time no matter how spectacularly ineffective it had proven.
Is the Denard Robinson experience going to change that? Probably not. Borges has been an offensive coordinator for decades. Two years of Denard are just a couple additional logs on an already raging fire of this metaphor makes no sense. When he's gone Borges will have Gardner, Bellomy, Shane Morris, and a clobberating OL of Lewan, Barnum, Miller, Kalis, and Schofield with Chris Bryant and others waiting in the wings. He might (should?) have Bri'onte Dunn. Even if he's learned some cool stuff over the past couple years there's not much he'll be able to carry over with the personnel he'll have. While Gardner's pretty fast he's nowhere near the runner Denard is. (Rodriguez's disastrous OL recruiting helps smooth this transition: all the underclass Omamehs are air.)
Maybe we'll see a zone read or two, an inverted veer here and there, but even now it's obvious what Borges wants to do despite not being able to do it even a little.
I do find this a little depressing, but only a little. If Michigan puts together a pro-style offense with personnel like they had through most of the aughts and actually lets it rip that promises to be fun, especially with Ohio State transitioning to an offense that wants different things than Michigan will. I'd still like them to take runs at QBs like Braxton Miller and Devin Gardner, but I think they will—they took Bellomy, who is a mobile guy with the ability to develop into a thrower.
It's clear now that Hoke's offensive staff won't stick with the schematic advantages Rodriguez established. However, Hoke has already shown he can recruit well. In regard to the offense only, how soon (if ever) will Hoke's recruiting success offset the scheme regression?
I can't tell if "schematic advantages" is a sly Weisian dig or not. Well done. Disclaimer: I don't necessarily think Borges represents a scheme regression in a general case. Just this case, and it's hard to blame Borges when his lizard brain is an entirely different lizard brain than Rodriguez's, etc.
Anyway, it's kind of depressing how long it might take. I don't think there's anyone on the roster who will excel in the framework Hoke and Borges prefer next year, and then in 2013 you've got a choice between a redshirt junior Gardner and a freshman Morris. That's either Gardner getting a lot better—obviously possible, necessary, not guaranteed—or yet another underclass starter. The most frustrating part of the double transition is not effectively using the first returning starter at the position since 2006 (2007 Henne was a shell of himself due to injury until the bowl).
And then you've got the ancillaries. In 2013 Michigan will have one upperclass tight end (Miller), zero upperclass interior linemen (there will be a couple redshirt sophomores), and two upperclass WRs (Jeremy Jackson and Jerald Robinson).
Thanks to Rodriguez's disastrous 2010 OL class, transition issues, and a weird decision or two in the first weeks of the Hoke regime it's looking like 2014 is going to be the first year you can reasonably say Michigan has all the pieces they want in place.
I have heard many people say that Borges is making bad decisions calling running plays when the defense is stacking the box with eight, sometimes nine, players. Borges does not have the luxury of knowing what alignment the defense will run. Most offenses, at least when I played, rely on the quarterback to check out of a play when these types of issues are presented. Nine men in the box, check to a pass play, five or six in the box, check to a run.
I think this is something that is really hurting the offense because, for whatever reason, Denard simply is not very good at making correct reads prior to the snap. This is where Rich Rod’s style, everyone look at the sideline after lining up, really benefitted Denard. What solutions, if any, do you think there are to help remedy a problem like this?
This is something I've been thinking about since I watched the Calvin Magee videos I mentioned a few weeks back. Magee talks about some philosophical differences he has with Rodriguez, most prominently that he "wants to let the kid grow" by allowing him to make pre-snap calls whereas Rodriguez strongly prefers having the kid read it out post-snap.
Is there really a gap between pro-style and spread 'n' shred offenses when it comes to pre/post-snap reads? Yes and no. Both offenses have them, but they're on different people. In the spread 'n' shred it seems like the vast bulk of the post-snap reads are on the QB. The WRs run the routes, the line blocks, and the QB decides where the ball is going. In pro-style stuff a chunk of the responsibility ends up on the shoulders of the receivers. See: killer MSU pick six. In the spread 'n' shred the bulk of the pre-snap reads are on the coaches. That is not the case in a pro-style offense.
As far as the assertion that Denard's inability to make the pre-snap reads is hurting Michigan in a way it wasn't last season, I think there's something to that. The RR style often gives that responsibility to the guys who have been running the offense for a decade. Pro-style never does that. That's another thing that Denard is being asked to do this year that he didn't do before—never had to do, really—and I'm guessing that's a chunk of the issues.
Remember that actual zone reads from Denard were rare last year. Everyone thought that was rawness, but there's a possibility he's just not good at it and won't ever be. Sad fugee face.
With the caveat that I would also love to see a few more QB isos or Gallon bubble screens per game to replace hopeless bombs, we’ve seen Denard struggle against good/good-ish defenses since last mid-season when they stack the ol’ box—regardless of who was calling the plays. 2010 and ’11 MSU, 2010 and ’11 Iowa, 2010 OSU and Miss. State. (The one notable exception is 2010 Wisconsin, which notably featured three 24-yard-plus proverbial field-stretchers from Stonum getting several steps on a corner, which our WRs this year don’t do). I’ll take for argument’s sake that RR would probably have been better equipped to counterpunch from the spread as a playcaller than Borges is. But what specifically are the kind of plays he would have called? The most notable counter play in his arsenal was the QB Oh No, which is still in the playbook. What other kind of things would work? I really am curious. Our short hitches and bubble screens weren’t cutting it in at least four games last year either.
I’m willing to concede that RR could have been a better playcaller for this year’s offense, but it’s not as if Borges is making Denard sit in the pocket and throw 50 times every game with zero designed runs. He’s using him to run some but trying to develop the RBs and find effective pass-offense changeups. That’s what RR would have been tasked with too. Sometimes it works—sometimes Hemingway can go over a drawn-up safety and post up. But we don’t have a deep threat good enough to consistently make up for Denard’s weaknesses yet. What else can we try?
I think Borges still deserves the benefit of the doubt—I believe that he IS still trying to find what works, and he only has a certain amount of plays per game to do that and sometimes it’ll work and sometimes it won’t and you lose to Iowa. I think where this debate goes next is someone saying concretely okay, here’s what RR might have done. Maybe Wisconsin offers clues. Maybe that Magee video you’ve been working through offers clues. What’s out there that we could try?
The debate about whether last year's offense was actually good is infinite and neverending and we will be talking about it in 2050 when the only thing the same about college football is Joe Pa—er.
I cannot convince anyone of anything in this matter, but I can try to explain my perspective.
There is a difference between this year's struggles and last year's. The listing of defenses above seems arbitrarily chosen to highlight the spread 'n' shred's worst performances. Michigan put up 31 against PSU, 28 against Wisconsin, and a billion against Illinois*, all of which were at least decent defenses.
In many of the crap games listed, Michigan put up yards only to be thwarted by horrible field goal kicking and turnovers. Michigan managed to give the ball away 29(!) times last year. Michigan lost 14 fumbles last year. This year they're on pace to lose 4 (and a third). To me that's just randomness. It's not like there was anything about last year's offense particularly likely to shoot itself in the face with fumbles. The interceptions were not random but since they've literally doubled this year that is not an argument in favor of the new thing.
This is not last year's offense. It is last years offense with nine returning starters and an upgrade at tailback. The line depth may be an issue but the one new guy on the line, whether it is Barnum or Schofield, has not seemed like a major dropoff from Schilling.
This is not last year's defense and special teams. FEI tracks a stat called "Field Position Advantage" that measures relative starting field position. Michigan was 89th last year. They're 68th this year. I can't find starting field position for drives, unfortunately, but I am guessing Michigan has had a good deal more short fields since they've already picked up one turnover more than they did all of last year. And the field goal kicking exists.
So, yeah, I am disappointed. The adjustments I would like:
taking the free yards teams give them by alignment on the bubble
running the blocking the line is best at (outside zone) more consistently
running Denard 20 times a game in important games, not Eastern Michigan
doing the above in such a way that it puts safeties in a bind so that guys get wide open
not turning the QB's back to the LOS on rollouts everyone has covered
avoiding under-center running, short yardage excepted
Rodriguez would have run a bunch of the stuff the line is designed to do, not power, forced teams to move a safety in the box by using Robinson as a threat and constraining via the bubble, and then made that other safety's life hard by using the Denard play action that is nigh unstoppable if executed. The heart of the offense would be Denard's legs instead of… well, I don't know what the heart of this offense is. Throwback screens?
- This does not constitute an endorsement of Rich Rodriguez. Hoke uber alles.
*[Debating the merits of the Wisconsin points is a popular sub-pastime in this domain. The last touchdown was garbage time; the first three were not. Michigan only got eight drives before garbage time because of the nature of the game—in one of average length it is reasonable to expect they score another TD. Plus they missed a FG. Also some of the billion Illinois points came with Forcier on the field, but by the time he left Denard had 300 yards passing and 62 rushing, so… yeah.]
On Pharaoh Brown.
Was wondering what you thought about [Pharaoh Brown's] position flip. I can't help but be disappointed. Everything I have read about him says he is a terrific athlete. Isn't DE or WR more important than TE if you have a great athlete?
I wouldn't regard Brown's position as set until he's seeing the field somewhere. With guys like him you don't really know where he's going to end up permanently before college coaches get ahold of him. They'll put him wherever he'll work out best.
In any case, I think you're unfairly downplaying the importance of TE. Tight ends are more involved down-to-down since they are key components of the run game; wide receivers are only relevant when everyone else does their job well and the play breaks into the secondary. After going up against Rudolph and Eifert the past few years I'd love to have a 6'6" guy with sticky hands who can play security blanket for QB du jour.
I get the vibe that tight end is going to be a big deal with Borges. If we're headed to a collection-of-plays Boise-style offense, having a diverse set of tight ends is a key component. Having a 6'6" guy who can run some is a major help in your effort to whiplash the defense from huge power running sets to spread passing attacks. What do you do when the opposition has a guy who can block a defensive end but can't be covered by a linebacker? Brown may be that guy.
Combine the above with the depth charts at the two positions and I get it. WDE next year is Roh, Black, Clark, and Ojemudia with the potential addition of Beyer if he beefs up a bit. Tight end is Moore, Miller, Funchess, and maybe AJ Williams but it increasingly sounds like he's a tackle.