to play football, not to play trumpet
Bo with children. Bo passed away nine years ago today. Spurred by a classic old-timey photo posted by Steve Lorenz, a couple of readers passed along adorable pictures of Bo not yelling at them about their pad level despite his constant desire to do so:
— LTA2891 (@LTA2891) November 17, 2015
— Ryan Schreiber (@Ryan_Schreiber) November 17, 2015
Meanwhile, the legend lives on.
Wow. Feel like we've seen this live... https://t.co/qJJBRKVMFZ
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) November 17, 2015
If any school can do it, it's Michigan. PFF lists Jourdan Lewis as one of their alternate-universe-where-everyone-pays-close-attention-to-tape Heisman candidates:
Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan: +21.7
Key stat: Only three cornerbacks have been targeted more, and he has still only allowed 274 yards in his coverage.
Like Bosa, Lewis is hurt by playing on defense, particularly when he doesn’t have any game breaking returns to catch your attention. That being said, you won’t find a better cover corner in all of college football, and he is right up there with the other four players listed as one of the best players in the country. Lewis has been targeted 72 times in coverage, which seems foolish for opposing quarterbacks, especially when you consider he has given up just 26 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown over the course of the year. He’s allowed more than 40 receiving yards in a single game just once all year, and has come away with two interceptions and 14 pass breakups. There was a three-game span against UNLV, BYU and Maryland where he allowed just three receptions for six yards while picking off one pass and breaking up five more.
Those numbers are bonkers. Michigan's inability to generate turnovers has got to be mostly luck when they're getting so many hands on opposition passes. Those translate to INTs at a fairly consistent rate and Michigan is way below par there; meanwhile they've recovered one opposition fumble all year. I can't imagine what their numbers would be like if they had the same level of fortune that Hoke's first team did.
In other grading things. PFF did the Indiana game, giving Jake Rudock a monster +9.2. Certain defenders didn't do so hot:
Michigan’s run defense was exposed for the first time this season, but it wasn’t because they were overpowered on the line. No, the Wolverine’s defense looked completely lost trying to maintain gap control against the Hoosier’s stretch plays. Michigan’s defensive line likes to fire off straight upfield at the snap. This works great against downhill runs like inside zone where they had great success Saturday. But versus outside zone firing upfield creates very wide running lanes when one defensive tackle flows down the line of scrimmage and another one doesn’t. The poor discipline made the job extremely difficult on Michigan’s linebackers. Matthew Godin (-5.3) and Joe Bolden (-3.6) were the two that struggled the most.
I'm through the first half-zillion Indiana plays and that is very much on point. Michigan is slanting with a backside blitz a ton and still not getting their guys to the correct gaps way way too often. Michigan quickly adapted to all the stretch plays tactically but the backup DTs were unable to execute, and Hurst suffered quite a bit as well.
Bolden… Bolden is not getting a good UFR number. I do not understand why Ben Gedeon isn't getting way more time.
Scoring is up 7% over the first weekend last season. Pace is up 5% and efficiency is up 2%. It’s not 1975-style basketball, but for at least one weekend we turned the clock back to 1995 when it wasn’t unusual to see a team crack 100 on the daily scoreboard.
Fouls are up slightly, as are threes (with no decrease in shooting percentage). Twos are more accurate. The main caveat I would suggest is that years with rules changes that include "call the game like the rulebook says" often start out with a bunch more fouls and then refs swallow their whistles as the stakes rise. The last attempt to crack down on obstruction of movement petered out by midseason. Hopefully this one sticks, but I'm not getting out my victory epaulettes just yet.
FWIW, the NCAA put out a video about what the rules entail:
It's nice that the official voice of the NCAA is decrying MSU's brand of footsketball, at least. John Gasaway on the new regime:
One paradox or spiritual kinship shared by basketball and baseball alike is that invariably many of the sports’ most consequential “reforms” consist of nothing more than a renewed commitment to enforcing the rules as already written. Screens really do have to be stationary, and bumping a cutter or displacing a player off the block really is a violation. So it is that in the coming days it will be said that it’s precisely this newfound strict constructionist attitude that’s resulted in all these darn fouls that are suddenly being called. Indeed the NCAA itself is already sounding this alarm. In its video the organization channels its inner Clubber Lang and says its prediction is pain: “At times the fans and media will not like the number of fouls being called, but we must stay the course and call the rules as written in the rule book.”
I don’t doubt for a moment that officials will signal their seriousness in November by minting free throws left and right, but it bears repeating that justice can be furthered by a no-call just as it can be by a whistle. Enlarging the charge circle could, one hopes, increase the prevalence of swallowed whistles, while the NCAA’s professed wish to stop rewarding “offense-initiated contact” will be nothing less than a no-call godsend if it comes to pass. I don’t want to see a foul called on Melo Trimble (just to pick a name purely at random), but a no-call the next time he flings himself like a horizontal missile into the chest of the nearest vertical-cylinder-inhabiting defender would most definitely be a just result.
One note from the Elon game: the refs appeared to blow one egregious example of offense-initiated contact when a Fightin' Christian jumped unnaturally into Walton to draw a foul.Otherwise I thought that game was well officiated aside from the usual slate of block/charge calls that nobody can ever figure out.
Is this how you do it? "Not quite." How about now? "Still not really there." Surely now? "For chrissakes can you stop looking like a serial killer experiencing afterglow for like 30 seconds?"
Henson. Via WH:
Willie Taggart has had a nice turnaround year at USF. If he were to be let go at any point, Taggart would be very much on Harbaugh's radar to fill hypothetical holes on his staff, but better to see him succeed.
Charlie Strong to Miami rumors get their first credible support as Bruce Feldman says he's heard it is a possibility. Michigan is competing with Texas for a number of recruits including Jordan Elliott and Jean Delance.
The remarkable laziness of the Baylor offense. Steve Smith storytime from Sap. IU fans are sick of being #CHAOSTEAM, but what choice do they have? Five Factors from Punt John Punt. Grandson of Gerald Ford coming to play lacrosse. CFB is slightly slower than it was last year. Vincent Smith gardening in Flint. "I think it’s the bear, and I think Houma comes in second with tattoos.”
[Disclaimer: We wrote these yesterday before the Jerry Kill news, when open head coaching jobs were a lot more fun to talk about.]
RR to da U?
Choose the best plausible fit for five open FBS head coaching jobs.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Mack Brown. Fits the aging former National Championship winning coach profile. Gets Mack Brown off of my TV.
USC: Todd Graham [Insert Dream Job joke here]. Seems like he's been at Arizona State forever in Graham years. Actually could be the right mix of personality for the Trojans.
ILLINOIS: Brady Hoke. From the school that brought back Ron Zook, why wouldn't they bring back Hoke. It would stick it to their arch-rival Michigan. Hoke would be a good fit for the recruiting base, doesn't have a documented issue with the color orange and his track record looks pretty good by Illinois standards.
MIAMI: Jim Tressel. When Miami has built their best teams, they've been built around loading up on talent with little regard for the NCAA. Tressel seems like the perfect fit.
[After the jump: more bad ideas, and some that are too good]
Ace: When do you expect Michigan to get on level footing with Michigan State and Ohio State? Do you expect them to, in the latter case?
Dave Nasternak: Well, those are 2 different levels, especially after the last year.
As far as reaching Michigan State's level, I'm thinking (hoping?) Harbaugh will get them to that level in the next 2-3 years. I actually think that the talent differential is not huge, outside of a couple of obvious positions. The coaching differential, however...has been quite large. One of the interesting things about Michigan State has been their recruiting. They have not had stand-out, elite level recruiting during their stretch of dominance over Michigan (and kinda the Big Ten). But they have developed their roster as well as anyone has...which is coaching. It has also not hurt Michigan State that Michigan and Penn State have not been at program expectations over the past 5+ years. However, with Harbaugh in Ann Arbor, now -and a competitively talented roster to work with- I think that gap has already shrunk a bit...and will presumably do so in the next couple of years.
|You will NOT take away the year of Fickell. [Upchurch]|
Since the end of the 2004 season, Ohio State is 110-21. 104-14 if you take away the Year of Fickell. That's...uh...I don't even know. I definitely think this past 10 or so years has not been the Big Ten's best -definitely some under-performing teams and questionable hiring decisions by a few of the schools- but...yikes, man. There were a few years where its felt like Michigan has lost 14 games...just in that year, alone! I'm not sure anyone is going to THAT level, any time soon. If anyone can give Michigan a chance to do so, it would be Jim Harbaugh, though. Anyway...my next point, haha. One of the things that Ohio State has that has eluded most of the Big Ten teams (at least lately) is a game-changer. And they have had many. Going back to Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor and now Miller/Barrett/Jones and Elliott. These are guys that can score every time they touch the ball...and always seem to make a play to keep a drive alive or score when OSU needs points. They are Heisman trophy winners...or at least candidates. That is level of recruit AND development that Michigan is going to need in order to compete at the OSU level. Can and will Harbaugh take Michigan there? I think he can. I hope he will. When? It will be years before he will be able to make a mark like OSU has been able to over the last decade or so. But I do think that once Harbaugh gets Top 100/300/whatever recruits flowing into his system, Michigan will be able to go toe-to-toe with Ohio State and at least beat them at a competitive rate...instead of the 1(Fickell) and 10 it has been over the past 11 years.
[After the jump: projections on a sophomore roster]
— The Michigan Daily (@michigandaily) September 22, 2014
COKEAGGEDDON. Well, it happened, and they quickly ran out of tickets, and the athletic department said that shouldn't have happened like a robot programmed to impersonate a human, and now it's over. The robot bit:
Coke is a great partner of ours and had purchased a limited block of tickets for the Minnesota game for a Coke retail activation aimed at Michigan students.
What I would give for an athletic department that responded to things like this without resorting to the nonsense phrase "retail activation." The program was "pulled immediately" after the Union had already run out, ie, not pulled. There's the silver lining: Michigan tickets are still worth more than two dollars.
As per usual when these things happen, the cover-up is worse than the crime. The pattern: Michigan does something stupid or embarrassing or annoying or all three. People laugh or complain about it. Michigan releases a mendacious statement that blames someone else for the screw up, wonders why everyone is making a big deal about it, and says it was never their intent for stupid/embarrassing/annoying thing to happen. Two months later, repeat the process.
The list is getting long: running out of water after banning outside bottles because terrorists, Allstate field goal nets, enormous macaroni sculpture, seat cushions, sky-writing over Spartan Stadium, telling people they got a discount on their hockey season tickets when really they moved a Michigan State game to Chicago, and Cokeaggeddon. Nobody apologized for "In The Big House," but they damn well should have.
I would prefer an athletic department that knew enough about how thing were going to look to a persnickety fanbase to not have issues like this on the regular. I would even more strongly prefer a department that didn't go "nuh-uh" when people called them on their crap.
Backhanded compliment battle royal. Man are people saying some things about Hoke these days that they mean to be nice but come off not so nice. Mark Dantonio:
Dantonio on turmoil in Ann Arbor: "I don't think there's a bad football coach out there. ...I have a lot of respect for Brady."
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) September 23, 2014
Dantonio followed that up by responding "I have empathy for people" when some reporter asked him if he had empathy for what's going on at Michigan. If our athletic department is going to be a robot can it be a Dantonio-style killer robot at least?
I HAVE EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE
/hail of gunfire
And then Dennis Norfleet was getting his coach's back when this came out and got on the internet the wrong way:
"In life, he's a good coach," Norfleet on Hoke
— Max Cohen (@MaxACohen) September 23, 2014
I know he didn't mean it like that but it's hard not to read it like that, you know?
Shades of the late RR period. Old pissed-off alums are coming out of the woodwork to yell on the talk radio. Former Bo QB Michael Taylor is up:
"Michigan football is not going in the right direction," said Taylor, who played for UM from 1987-89. "The leadership is bad. There are many more issues on and off the field than I care to talk about. It's sad." …
"What we've become is a propaganda football team, telling people how great we are when we're mediocre," he said.
Taylor has had an axe to grind for a while, FWIW. Hard to disagree with the last bit even so.
While Taylor's naplam job was widely reported the News is the only outlet I've seen that noted anything about Jon Jansen's immediately subsequent appearance. Jansen is on some sort of former players' committee, and says this about Taylor's complaint that players are being told to buy tickets if they want anything more than two per season (as in two tickets, total):
"It may not be the answer they're looking for, but we have started the process of getting a policy together for how many tickets you can get, how you get them, sideline passes," Jansen said. "That's the biggest thing — guys want to be able to come back."
IIRC, Taylor's beef with Brandon started when he further restricted tickets for former lettermen. It's not about "getting a policy" together. There is a policy. As per usual it prefers nickel and diming everyone to creating long-term allies.
More bloviation. Get ready for two and a half months of HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH posts that don't have much of anything behind them. PFT takes the lead:
…the speculation has been ongoing regarding the future of 49ers coach (and former Michigan quarterback) Jim Harbaugh for a while. Mired in a contractual impasse that has been tabled until after the season, any college or program now knows that Harbaugh is in play for a jump to a new job come 2015. With the 49ers already mired in a disappointing, stressful year, that jump could be more likely.
This gets everyone hot and bothered while not having a single quote or even a single assertion that a hot source told him something. Throw it on the bloviation pile. And reinforce the floor under that pile. It's about to get stressed.
The cycle is intact. Football team is bad at football. People say football team is bad at football. People say maybe football team would be better at football if this coach who seems to have a lot of bad football teams was no longer the coach. Media incessantly hammers coach and players at every media opportunity about The Critics, leading to people Taking A Stand Against The Critics and articles describing that event. Dennis Norfleet just did so.
If anyone thinks the massive public criticism being hurled at Brady Hoke on a now daily basis doesn't make its way into the ears of Michigan's players from time to time, then Dennis Norfleet has a message for you.
And they're pretty pissed about it.
Okay. I don't expect this conversation to go any other way, because Hoke has his team behind him and they would run through the proverbial wall for him, etc. I just don't see why anyone should care. It's all talk. Weren't we all like "I'm done with talk, show me" this offseason? We have been shown some things. Now there is talk about how bad the team is, and if you are mad at people talking about how bad Michigan football is currently I don't know what to tell you.
This is just not realistic:
"Even if we lose. If we lose, if you're a Michigan fan you're supposed to be with us 100 percent to pick us up. We need our fans just as much as we need a win. So, yes, it hurts. It hurts a lot."
It is impossible to control the emotional impulses of large groups of people, and fans are in this for themselves. They like the players, they want the players to succeed, they generally refrain from harsh personal criticism of the players. They are there to feel something, however, and when the only thing they feel is certainty Michigan is not going to make up yet another double-digit deficit they're going to talk about replacing the coach. Because that is the logical thing to do if your goals for a football team involve having a nice time with it.
That's the fundamental disconnect between fans and players and we can stop talking like any of these people have to have the same motivations. Or not, I suppose, because journalists are in this for themselves.
We're confusing to computers. Michigan has outgained every opponent en route to a 2-2 record with two blowout losses. The play-based ranking systems are having a bit of a conniption fit as a result:
— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) September 22, 2014
Computer rankings after four weeks are never accurate but drive systems do take a lot more data than the final score into account and should be a bit more reliable as a result. It's just that sometimes not taking the final score into account particularly heavily is… unwise. Connelly on that:
On a per-play basis (in a system that counts turnovers simply as non-successes until drive data is factored in after seven weeks), they are good enough to rank 19th in the country, just one spot behind a team that beat them by 31 points and 11 spots ahead of a team that beat them by 16. But in ways similar to 2011 Texas A&M and 2011 Notre Dame, they're figuring out ways to make their failures count double, and it seems they (and their fans) know the failures are coming before they happen.
Seven of the next eight conference games are winnable, and eight are losable. We'll see if Hoke can figure out how to turn promise into reality, or if, like Texas A&M in 2011, it will take a new coach and a new quarterback to translate decent stats into good results.
He notes three teams with similar profiles to Michigan to date: 2011 versions of Notre Dame and Texas A&M and 2012 Michigan State.
Connelly and Brian Fremeau combine their ratings for something called F+ that is considerably more skeptical but still insufficiently so from the human observer's viewpoint. F+ has Michigan 32nd. Connelly used that to metric to project the Big Ten race and came up with this amazing possibility:
|Record||West Winner||East Winner|
There is a one in four chance that your Big Ten West winner is .500 in the conference. I think we can all agree that this annus miserabilis will be totally worth it if that happens.
As far as Michigan goes, he ran a bunch of simulations with his numbers and came out with an approximately 60% chance Michigan goes 4-4 in the league and 20% chances they go 5-3 or 6-2. Again, early season computer numbers so take lightly—suffice it to say computers are not feeling real good about Hoke's job prospects.
The wounded. Minnesota's Mitch Leidner still questionable for Saturday, "all indications" that Michigan will get the Gopher backup who completed one pass against SJSU. Maxxxxxxxx Williams is also doubtful with something or other. Against that Michigan puts up Jarrod Wilson and Raymon Taylor, who dressed but did not play against Utah, Delano Hill, who left before halftime with a boo boo, and an obviously still gimpy Devin Funchess. Funchess FWIW:
"I got a little dinged up, I had to make sure everything was OK, and I just had to fight through it," Funchess said Tuesday. "I knew it was painful (that day), and it'll (probably) be painful the rest of the season.
"You're never going to go through a season and stay 100 percent (the whole way) ... I'm healthy enough to play."
Sort of. His effort on blocks is not so good.
Football season is upon us, and with the end of OT season it seems like about time to put This Week in the Twitterverse on the shelf for a while. We’ve got a few ideas as to its replacement, but I’m open to suggestions as well.
Also, you may notice that the name on the dog-tag has changed. Given the number of Brians/Bryans/Bhrayinz working around these parts nowadays, I figured it might reduce some confusion if I peeked half-way out of the name closet, especially since I haven’t been in South Bend for a couple of years. Don’t worry, I’m still a football-playing golden retriever writing based on the promise of delicious noms.
Now... ON TO THE TWITTERVERSE
I’m sure you all saw last week that Jared Wangler announced that he would become the 38th* Wangler to play football at Michigan. But one of the interesting things about it was that he announced it via Vine.
This is a very encouraging development. No frills, no long lingering build-up, no reach-for-this-hat-fake-grab-that-hat-SURPRISE-I’m-wearing-a-Florida-elbow-pad. Derrick Green’s principal talked for like 20 minutes. I think Cullen Christian’s announcement is still ongoing. Wangler took exactly six seconds. Done and done. This was the 12-minute wedding ceremony of football announcements.
In that vein, it’s only logical that more recruits should commit via various social media outlets. And I have a few suggestions, based on the school you’re planning to choose.
- Alabama - YouTube. In fact, 2014 WR commit Derek Kief already did so. So feel free to post your commitment, but be warned: it may be pulled down by the platform at any time based on the flimsiest of reasons, including the ambiguous "violation of the Terms of Service." You will have no recourse.
- Nebraska - Instagram Video. It’s like Vine, but it’s 15 seconds long, so you get an extra nine seconds of your life before Bo Pelini starts yelling at you about the size and color of your ears or whatever is pissing him off today.
- Ohio State - Regular Instagram. Buckeye players are kinda video-averse these days for some reason. Plus you can use cool filters like “black-and-white security footage.”
- MSU - iTunes. Rap game. Spartan fo life. Fo fo life.
- Penn State - Vine. But you can only use the first 4 seconds. It’s actually in the NCAA sanctions. Look it up.
- Notre Dame - Christian Mingle. "I found Touchdown Jesus's match for me..."
- Maryland - MySpace. Nothing screams "wait... people still do that? What are you thinking? No one will ever see you there" like MySpace.
- Northwestern - LinkedIn . Networking is a lifelong pursuit, people.
- Kentucky - Google Plus. A platform that, while tied into the biggest name in the game, is only a peripheral member of that association which is smirked at by the rest of the empire, still kinda sucks, and you know isn't going to succeed long-term? Sounds like Kentucky to me.
- Iowa - Manual Typewriter. Kirk Ferentz doesn’t approve of the internet. Or computers. Or the forward pass.
- Purdue - WebMD. "I've decided to play my four years at Purdue." / "TOP RESULTS: Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament." / "But my knee doesn't feel... oh, there it is."
- Ole Miss - PayPal. Oh, no reason. No reason at all.
*Estimate. Exact figures are unavailable.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Jay Bilas sees hypocrisy. Twitter is sees the future. Sparty doesn’t see what’s in front of him.]