"You can't make me," Hoke said. "You're not my father."
JUST RUN THE BALL
I know you've touched on this before, but why isn't Denard scrambling on at least 25 percent of our called pass plays? I mean, can't Borges just tell him, "If your first and second reads aren't immediately open, run"? It seems like a win-win situation. If guys are wide open, great. If not, the holes are likely to be bigger than on our usual designed QB keepers. I know Denard seems to have problems with this, but has Borges ever actually said this is a problem that they're actively working to remedy? I don't get it.
Nobody knows why, but it's just never happening. I'm sure they've attempted to remedy this in multiple ways, like:
- screaming RUNNNNN at him in practice when he should scramble
- screaming RUNNNNNN at him in games when he should scramble
- calling him at 3 AM and screaming RUNNNNNN at him
- popping out of oversized birthday cakes screaming RUNNNNNN [note: works on children]
- plopping down with despair and saying "I give up and welcome the sweet oblivion soon to follow"
Ain't happening. E-fact.
Student section celebration thing: can we carbon date this?
Regarding the whole rushing the field debate I have a question about the reverse: when the team runs over to party with the student section. You gave a list of when people rushed the field, but when was the first time the players ran over to the student section? I was in the band at the turn of the century (Boom. Old-timed.) and I don't remember that ever occurring. The first time I remember it happening was the Manningham TD against Penn State. Was that the first? When else can you remember it happening?
I do not actually know. 2005 Penn State sounds pretty good as a plausible start for that but I have this feeling it was more something that started in the RR era. I throw it open to readers: when did Michigan going over to the student section after home wins become a thing?
Funchess at WR?
My cousin brought up a scenario during the MSU game that I haven't seen discussed much: could Funchess move to WR next year if no one proves to be an adequate replacement for Gardner? He has proven that he has great hands, leaping and size. Along with this, if the idea is to give matchup issues for the defense, I see no bigger matchup problem than a 5'10" CB covering him. If he has blocking trouble, I don't see the sense in Ricardo Miller-ing him, but obviously I'm no coach. What say you?
For a guy like Funchess that's kind of a distinction without a difference. He's already lining up at WR in a lot of sets, and I imagine he'll continue to do so throughout his career. He is a flex tight end.
But Michigan shouldn't and almost certainly won't try to keep pounds off of him so that he's more of a downfield threat/WR guy instead of a tight end. He's already too big to be a guy who threatens CBs and safeties over the top, and he'll still be too fast for linebacker sorts to reliably cover. Bulking him up to NFL flex TE size—250, 260—makes him a more credible blocker and gets him more open when he does go out to catch passes.
Besides, Michigan's got a slightly smaller Funchess coming in. His name is Jaron Dukes. If there's a role for that on the outside he or Jehu Chesson can fill it.
[AFTER THE JUMP! MORE THINGS! ABOUT STUFF! /bradyhokeinjuryreport'd]
Field rush update.
Got a number of emails detailing Michigan's field rush activities:
In response to your question, here are the only three I recall since the 1997 OSU game.
2003 OSU game (100th game)
2011 OSU game
2012 MSU game
But here's one that probably doesn't get remembered:
After the 2008 Wisconsin game, about 5-7 students attempted to rush the field and a few were lucky enough to out-juke the security and run around midfield. One was not: he got body slammed by a police officer right in front of the student section, which is probably the only thing that quelled a massive on-rush of students.
I have somehow forgotten the 2003 field rush entirely despite being in the student section for it. Conclusion: I must not have joined it. If you're more than a couple dozen rows up, which I probably was, rushing the field is an exercise in walking around, looking at other people walking around looking at people since no one's even going "WOO" anymore.
So that confirms the 2012 MSU rush: lamest, only non-OSU field rush in 20 years. I get it, I guess, but if they were going to do it at least they did it in the appropriate fashion by half-assing it and taking about 10 minutes for anyone to get down, then trickling out seemingly one by one because half of the students didn't care to bother. That's the right kind of MSU field rush.
What is next years QB looking like? I thought someone said Gardner would move back to QB in the spring and start in the fall. Is that the case or is Morris going to play in the spring and start in the fall or just show up in the fall and start?
I can't see Morris showing up in the fall and starting.
Gardner just about has to move back to QB as soon as the season's over. Morris won't be enrolling early—his high school does not allow it—and Michigan's not going into spring practice carrying one scholarship QB.
Also, there's an excellent chance Gardner ends up being Michigan's best option there. Morris will be a true freshman, one coming off a senior season partially lost to mono. Bellomy has the look of a game manager type (early, yeah, okay). Gardner's the best bet to MAKE PLAYS with his legs, and he'll have as much experience practicing at QB as Bellomy even with this year that's lost to WR.
Meta photobomb. I still have not seen one of these in the wild, but they exist.
[AFTER THE JUMP: game theory, Toledo style, TE play action on the goal line, some guy with a weird idea that Chip Kelly is going to do someday.]
ND replacements open up.
Hi Brian, I don't know if you've caught up with this yet but the ACC is going to an 8 game conference schedule in football from the present 9 games. This will create immediate schedule openings for ACC teams. The article below from the Atlanta paper discusses the impact on GA Tech and of ND coming into the ACC. Tech and Notre Dame will be permanent partners for home and home series in basketball. I wouldn't want UM to play GA Tech in football, with their Air Force/Navy type offense but there are a ton of other possibilities for us now within the ACC.
This puts Florida State and Clemson more on the table—and I should mention that FSU did have an Oklahoma series in addition to their annual Florida series recently, so they are not entirely averse to a second quality opponent. FSU will have to make sure they don't get Notre Dame in one of those years before anything firms up, but there are five years Michigan is looking for a sexy opponent. At least two of those years FSU will have an opening.
I'd bank on at least one ACC entering the picture in the 2016-2020 window, since two-thirds of a game every year has just opened up.
BONUS INSIDERY THING: This is not on the same level as the Alabama game prediction, which I was certain of, but I've heard from a decent source that Arkansas may be a team that pops up on the schedule in the near future. Jeff Long is a Michigan guy—thus the basketball series we've just completed—and only has TCU in 2016 as a quality opponent in the time frame Michigan will be looking for partners.
Arkansas is not on the level of a Notre Dame but as part of a schedule in which Michigan has two real opponents they're a good choice.
MUSTACHE TRICKS (UNCLASSIFIED)
Do you think that Danny Hope is being vague on the status of Marve and Bolden just to keep Michigan off-balanced in game preparation? I doubt that we will see either player, but having to game plan for both a predominately pocket passer and a more mobile quarterback eats up a lot of practice time and film time. If Bolden and Marve were to be in the game, that back field if both healthy would be an athletic one which could give our defense issues.
Did I answer this question just because it came with a subject of "Mustache tricks (UNCLASSIFIED)"? That's classified.
I wouldn't put anything past coaches in their never-ending quests to gamesmanship themselves an extra yard or two, but I'm not sure about your policework there. TerBush is the athletic QB, Marve the more effective passer. Bolden is either available or not. Purdue's offense isn't going to shift that drastically based on the QB—routes will be the same, they're still going to be operating from the shotgun, etc.
In general, football coaches' manic attempts to get every edge possible are ridiculous. That stuff going down in Los Angeles is doing more damage to either LA program than the miniscule advantage provided by pretty much but not quite knowing the injury situation going into the game. It's especially grating when the same guys are like "scheme is overrated." You know what's overrated? Insane North Korea secrecy.
Can we go fast?
I'm a huge spread guy and I noticed that not once under Hoke has Michigan pushed tempo on offense unless late in halves or games. Can you explain this?
There's a cost to that. Tempoing a defense requires everyone to be on the same page, restricts the package of plays you can use, and requires you to move to a different system of play-signaling.
I think it's a cost worth paying. One of the big takeaways from the Mott open practices is how often guys are not doing anything. That would drive me crazy as a coach, and does drive Chip Kelly crazy, so he set about cramming as much stuff in as possible during practice and then thinking about it after. The results have been pretty good.
Michigan doesn't, at least not right now. I get it. They've got a lot of stuff they're trying to cram into Denard and the OL without putting that extra weight on his shoulders. They haven't taken Tempo 301's prereqs.
Pretty much, buddy.
Do you or do you not support sending Denard on a safety blitz when Ohio State has a 3rd and 9 on the Michigan 40 with 3 minutes to play in a tie game-seems like a near guarantee that he would missile himself into Braxton Miller's spine, forcing a fumble which could then be returned by laquon treadwell who is visiting and has run on to the field in uncontrollable excitement.
If this happens I will donate my entire income for the 2013 fiscal year to Vincent Smith's estate.
I'd rather have Denard throw a poisoned flan at the guy, but I guess your plan could work too.
The media has made a big deal about the 12 freshmen that have already played this season, mainly viewing it as a sign that the team is in bad shape. I think it's mainly because the 2012 recruiting class was so good, not because the returning players are performing poorly.
Guys like Funchess, Norfleet and James Ross would find some playing time on most teams. I don't see many Ray Vinopals out there - players only burning a redshirt because the depth chart at the position is a tire fire. Yet another interpretation is that it is a reflection of Brady Hoke's philosophy which differs from past coaches. I recall that you didn't expect so many to play. How did you interpret the situation?
Class of 2005
The twelve who have seen the field grouped into categories:
JUST THAT GOOD: Norfleet (at least in the context of KR), Funchess.
STANDARD-ISSUE GROOMING: Darboh, Wilson, Pipkins
GROOMING TOO BUT PROMINENCE IS WORRYING: Bolden, Ross
BAD SIGNS: Williams, Ojemudia, Richardson.
WTF: Jenkins-Stone, Houma.
Ideally you wouldn't have Demens's job under threat in his third year as a starter, wouldn't be playing a true freshman blocking TE who was a tackle last year, and would tell Ojemudia and Richardson to eat a bunch of lard and talk to me when you've put on 30 pounds. Everyone else is about what you'd expect.
I'm not surprised most of these guys are all seeing time. I thought Ojemudia would be forced onto the field because of Clark's issues; those turned out to be less severe than they might have been but Beyer's injury still forced M's hand there. After I predicted a redshirt in Richardson's recruiting profile, Michigan saw two corners leave the team and a third go down for the year, plus Avery has/had back issues. They need to have him out there. With four corners in the next recruiting class they don't absolutely need to have him get that fifth year.
The two real surprises are RJS and Houma, but while they're irritatingly burning redshirts so they can watch Matt Wile pound kickoffs into the endzone their presence on special teams doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things.
[after the jump: more redshirts! sexy packaged plays! A dinosaur!]
Unbalanced stuff, Denard under center.
First, in this pic from the Air Force Defensive UFR:
The slot receiver would be eligible if he took a step back and the WR at the top took a step forward, correct? So what is the advantage to having this alignment vs. having two players be positioned less than one yard differently? I can’t quite grasp what would compensate for losing an eligible receiver.
Normally, yes. Here Air Force is going to send the WR to the top of the screen in motion until he ends up behind the two guys in the backfield. That makes life easier for Air Force if they want to run to the short side because they've effectively blocked the corner to that side by putting him on the other side of the field.
Defenses can react to this by shifting but it's unnatural for them to do this. Sometimes they mess it up, especially when you're going at speed like Air Force does. The disadvantage created by making that WR ineligible can even be mitigated by sending him on a crazy route that takes him behind the QB. Is the offense going to use this? Probably not. Is the defense going to totally abandon defending this guy? Probably not.
Second, I saw the ESPN article about Denard’s passing from under center being pretty fantastic. Given that, and Denard being Denard, why wouldn’t we run a basic QB draw from that setup on the regular? Or is the passing being so good a result of defenses making sure to take that away?
The numbers here are relatively small—Rothstein charts 62 attempts from under center under Borges, which is two or three games of data. He's done well with those attempts, obviously. I have no idea why, and if you go all Gaussian on things it's clear that there's a lot of jitter in there. Via The Power Rank:
Rothstein does acknowledge the sample size issues. But just because your data is not big enough to be authoritative does not mean it isn't suggestive. Given the numbers, the chances that randomness explains all of the difference is a mere 6%. It's worth figurin' on.
There's a pretty obvious mechanism that makes Michigan's running game more effective from the shotgun—hi my name is Denard's legs. What is the reason Denard's only throwing interceptions from the shotgun? Nothing leaps out. The routes? They're probably the same. The drop-back? In the NFL, the shotgun is a more efficient formation (even accounting for down and distance) despite running quarterbacks being largely absent. Run paranoia? It seems hard to believe that's more of a factor from under center.
Three things do seem like potential mechanisms:
- Pressure. It's easier to max-pro when you've got a couple TEs or a couple backs. Also, it's easier to not tip your snap count against MSU. Denard + pressure == doom. If Denard is getting better protection from under center that would be an obvious way in which under center was really better.
- Situation. Michigan's more likely to go under center in short-yardage situations, making those passes more profitable as the defense expects run. Also a potential factor in "situation": Michigan may run more under-center stuff against easy Ds and default to shotgun when they think they're up against it.
- Luck. Sample size here is small enough that it probably explains some of the difference. It's hard to think TD/INT splits of 12-1 (under center) and 11-17 (shotgun) are totally explainable by luck.
The problem with throwing from under center is that sometimes you have to run it from under center, and that's burning downs at this point.
Seth has all this in a UFR database and will address it in more depth on Tuesday.
Punt versus kick return, fight.
Hey, Brian. I hoping you might be able to shed some light on a question. What is the difference between kick returner and punt returner? Why does Norfleet return kicks and Gallon return punts? Is it to limit their exposure to 11 special teams defensemen running downhill at full speed with the intent of breaking the returner's back? Or are there different skills involved? (Because who wouldn't like to see Norfleet returning punts, too?)
Kick returns are the junior varsity version of punt returns. As a kick returner you have a high-arcing kick travelling 60-70 yards before you camp out under it. If you fumble the thing, the nearest opponents are 20 yards away. You pick it up, you lose a few yards in field position, and no one has a panic attack. Either that or it's a touchback. BFD.
Screwing up a punt, whether it's by fumbling it or failing to field it, has much direr implications. A fumble is almost guaranteed to be a turnover, and we just saw Jeremy Gallon cost Michigan 25 yards by not fielding an Air Force punt. Additionally, punts can come in at all sorts of angles, generally much faster than kicks. Ever seen a kickoff fielded on the run? Maybe if someone is making a terrible decision on one that's going out of bounds. Otherwise, never. On punts it's not uncommon.
In addition to that, there are some different skills involved. Punts often involve dodging guys with little or no opportunity to get up to full speed. On a kickoff you're generally going to have the opportunity to get your motor humming before you have to make a cut. So a guy like Darryl Stonum made an excellent kick returner thanks to his top-end speed and ability to make a shallow cut at speed, but wouldn't have made much of a punt returner.
Gallon and Norfleet both have skills that make them a good fit for both positions. The coaches are currently more comfortable with Gallon back there, but if he keeps bringing out 2010 Gallon and Norfleet proves capable in practice, a switch won't be long in coming. Either way, at least Michigan won't be running a Greg Mathews out there.
I haven’t seen any film on last year’s game between Nebraska and MSU, but I have to believe that Nebraska had a relatively effective day on offense judging from the score and offensive numbers. (24 points and 190 yards on the ground) So with that being said and knowing that Michigan and Nebraska run similar offenses, can Michigan look at that the game film and implement some sort of parallel schemes against MSU that Nebraska executed and have a likewise outcome?
That game was won by Nebraska's defense, which limited the Spartans to under 200 yards. While the Huskers racked up 190 yards rushing it took 58 carries for them to get there—3.3 YPC. Unless Michigan can do the same thing to the Spartan offense they're not likely to win with that kind of rushing output.
Meanwhile, an offense with pitches like Nebraska's is one you have to dedicate yourself to. It's not something you can implement for a single week. You can change your blocking schemes, routes, protections, and playcalling, sure, but when you start asking a guy to make split-second decisions about whether to fumble a ball in the general direction of the running back you're asking for trouble.
FWIW, it does seem like Michigan is at least allowing the center to get his head up and survey the landscape before he snaps the ball these days.