I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
Sponsor note. Chicago-based Wolverines headed to South Bend: there is a bus for you. Sports Power Weekends has a couple headed out from The Diag Bar & Grill [located here]. 59 bucks roundtrip gets you a spot, various goodies to and from, a tailgating spot, and the opportunity to collapse in a frazzled heap after something ridiculous happens at the end of the game. Alternative: traffic, not hopping on your MGoBlog mobile app to celebrate/commiserate.
Eating: almost eaten.
I'll plug this one more time during the last-day frenzy, but thanks to the work of the community around here Martavious Odoms is nearing his all-or-nothing 35k goal for his Pahokee kickstarter venture. The Daily interviews Odoms about his project and its goal:
The goal is to install a garden that can be self-sustaining — a project that values community involvement as much as getting food on tables. The funds raised will be used to buy the empty the plot, pay for tools and seeds and to hire people from the community to work on the garden.
Odoms would also like to see the money help give kids in the community after-school programs or to teach residents how to sow their own garden.
“This could give someone an opportunity to be part of something outside of their family to feel like they’re making a change, making a difference,” Odoms said.
The staple crops? Collared greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes and okra, just to name a few.
“All the stuff that people eat here down here in the south,” Odoms said.
As of this instant, Odoms is a little over 3k away with eight days left. Get in on it.
TWIS and such. I went a little overboard on this week's This Week In Schadenfreude. Reconstructing the anarchy of a Colorado gamethread in which they're down 48-0 at one point became absorbing. Also, when the RCMB blows up they blow up spectacularly well:
WHAT DID I WATCH
I am completely terrified after witnessing the biggest failure of a game in my whole life.I really cannot even grasp what just happened. Are we really this bad? Is our offense completely non existent? Maxwell has had 3 years and this is what we get? I feel like god hates us. I live for Spartan Football, eat, breathe, sleep Spartan Football. I work overtime in the summer just so I can have enough money for season tickets and I get rewarded with this? What the f--- was that game? 3 points and never crossed their 30? Bell losing all Heisman talk.I felt like a snake bit me in the beginning and slowly but surely the venom ate away at my body. Yeah I know I will get down voted to hell for this but what I saw tonight was not good and the glimpses of all the bad are going to kick us in the ass this year
Applause. Unironic, tear-wiping applause. And there's like twice as much of this guy in the actual post. The RCMB is the John L Smith of message boards, except it can never be fired.
I promise I won't fire off more than a twitter zing or two this weekend if it goes poorly. TWIS next week: ND Nation versus You Guys. Please be ND Nation.
Gardnerceiving. He does not like the blocking:
"I don't feel like I'm ever going to be a person who loves to block," Gardner said with a laugh. "That comes with the position, but I don't think I'll ever love that."
He did pretty well in the UMass game from what I can see, FWIW. He is still a QB in his mind:
"I know I'm a quarterback, but as I've said in previous weeks, I'm helping the team, and I'm doing well."
We won't see where everything is in re: Devin QB until next fall camp. They just about have to move him back for spring since they'll only have Bellomy left. For now, he's got a potential breakout day coming.
They took my brains, but they gave me this extra G. Man, guys named "Gregg." This site has bombed Gregg Easterbrook in the past when… well, whenever he writes about college football, because all he ever writes about college football is about how dastardly it is that anyone would ever take another job. Occasionally he diverts from that topic to express bafflement that the laws of economics apply to it; mostly it's just the horror that anyone would accept having their salary tripled.
Anyway, the other guy named Gregg is paid to write things about sports stepped his game up recently:
Seriously? RT @GreggDoyelCBS: How can Bo Pelini demand toughness of his players? He had a tummy ache AND LEFT A GAME IN AN AMBULANCE
To his credit, he did back off of that after everyone called him an idiot. To his discredit: whoah, mega #SPROTSTAKE. Corn Nation says this is a "concern about news breaking in the twitter world," but the easily made error is easily corrected by a flurry of at replies comparing the offender's intelligence to that of a chipmunk. At least Doyel can recognize when he's craving acorns. Easterbrook has never shown any sort of similar capability.
Etc.: Jerald Robinson gets probation for his minor property crime. Orson on UF-Tennessee. Purdue has verbal commitments from a Dwayne Johnson—unfortunately an OL who will not get many opportunities to ask if you smell what he is cooking—and a Johnny Thompson—yes, a LB. Basketball season tickets on sale now. Derf. Individual three point shooting is pretty jittery. Hardaway should bounce back.
Get away from tourists. Visit a Miami game. Miami vs Bethune-Cookman, second quarter:
At least one intrinsically corrupt football program has had the decency to wither up and die. BTW, that was reported as 39k.
Massive injuries. No fair bringing up Blake Countess if Michigan happens to lose against MSU or ND, as both of those opponents came down with injuries just as important over the last couple days.
MSU right tackle Fou Fonoti is out six to ten weeks with a broken foot. M plays MSU in four weeks. In his place MSU inserted Skyler Burkland, who missed most of last year with an injury of his own. Burkland proceeded to get owned by ND LB Prince Shembo on several third and longs on which ND rushed three and still got plenty of pressure. MSU also replaced their LG, which didn't help matters but doesn't look like it's something that will persist until the Michigan game. The Spartan OL is now on depth alert equivalent to Michigan's: they've got a guy or two on the interior; a tackle injury will be time to sound the klaxons.
Notre Dame's already flimsy secondary took another major hit when Jamoris Slaughter tore his achilles against the Spartans. Projected starting CB Lo Wood is also out for the year. It looks like redshirt freshman Matthias Farley is Slaughter's replacement; he is a converted WR who was a consensus three-star with middling offers (Illinois, UCLA, Wisconsin) as a recruit. He's been getting talked up some, and played big chunks of the Purdue and MSU games.
In injury news that may not affect Michigan, Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray has a high ankle sprain and is projected to be out 2-4 weeks.
Gathering data. Seth had a good idea that we're going to give a shot: we're going to collect a bunch of data about the market for Michigan tickets and try to make it useful. This is an idea that the MZone also had at about the same time we did, undoubtedly prompted by the calculation a lot of people made this year: would I be better off scalping instead of getting season tickets this year? For UMass, it's a blowout in favor of yes, but that's the easiest ticket of the bunch.
Their hypothesis is you'll actually get off cheaper at Stubhub, which if true would be a stunning upset since Stubhub not only takes 15% from the seller but tacks on twenty bucks in fees for the buyer. We don't really have a hypothesis, we're just trying to figure out what's a good deal on gameday.
AIRBHG is running out of targets. Dude.
The Hawkeyes lost two more running backs Saturday, as both Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon were forced to leave an eventual win over Northern Iowa early due to injuries. However, it appears Iowa has learned how to overcome the wrath of AIRBHG in the process: With so many other choices available, the Hawkeyes turned to fullback Mark Weisman, who ran over the UNI defense and AIRBHG en route to 113 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Bullock and Garmon are supposed to be good to go this weekend. AIRBHG licks his chops. Weisman dances.
Yost. Another shot of Yost:
Since an assistant coach took this one hopefully the athletic department won't ask him to take it down, as they did with the last batch of Yost photos.
Etc.: Hope you didn't care about the Block Ms on the pylons, because they gone. ND used wristbands to prevent sign stealing after an S&C coach moved from ND to MSU this offseason. Given massive game prep problems w/ MSU in recent past, that might be a good idea. Q: why isn't that more commonly used anyway? I'd rather have rotating wristbands than having to communicate in hostile environments.
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.
PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT BIG TEN TEAMS SO YOU CAN NOW, FINALLY, VOTE FOR THE TEAM THAT HAS DENARD ON IT"…
Rounds 1-3: At Jim Leyland's lakeside mansion in Somerset, quarterbacks are divided.
Rounds 4-7: In the War Room of the Toledo Ramada Inn, Heiko is replaced by a mysterious stocky middle-aged man with a mustache.
Rounds 8-12: In the Presidential Suite of of the Ishpeming Red Roof Inn, a 1970 Fiat 500 assumes the commissioner's chair, rules all picks must get 30 mpg.
Rounds 13-17: In a Secret Submarine Headquarters Underneath the North Atlantic, iPhones apparently get zero bars.
Rounds 18-something whatever: Onboard the Voyager II Spacecraft at the Edge of the Solar System, quarterbacks are put through a series of zero-grav tests to determine if there is anything they can't do.
Weary and ignoring the complaints of abused livers, SETH, HEIKO, ACE, and something that looks like a lanky sheep dog emerge from a secret lair in the PHOSPHATE MINES of the PACIFIC ISLAND OF NAURU. They ask for your ballot…
Seth "Progress" Fisher/Heiko "Progress" Yang/Ace "Progress" Anbender/Brian "Progress" Cook
POLLS ARE NOW OPEN. Go vote!
The Final Snarkdown
BRIAN COOK AND THE FLYIN' ZOOKS:
OFFENSE: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), Kevonte Martin-Manley (WR, Iowa), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan (LT, M), Ryan Groy (LG, UW), Matt Stankiewitch (C, PSU), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).
DEFENSE: Ra'Shede Hageman (DE, Minnesota), John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, ILL), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Desmond Morgan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby (CB, OSU), Blake Countess (CB, M), Daimion Stafford (SS, UNL), Christian Bryant (FS, OSU)
I didn't mean to do this but I ended up with a Rodriguez spread'n'shred circa 2007 with a running quarterback, a damn fast outside back, and a fullback type who can rip off runaway beer truck touchdowns. The offensive line is a lot more POWER based but I figure that's fine since Auburn and others have made the inverted veer and related plays major spread drivers. Then you've got an array of excellent WRs with big catching radius: the deep threat (Abbrederis), the unstoppable guy on intermediate routes (Gray), and a promising TE.
The defense is Greg Mattison.
FINAL SNARKDOWN (by Heiko): Dear Brian: You know that red and gray plaid shirt you wear all the time? You should wear it less. Oh, something mean about his team? Ummmm... None of your QBs have a winning record. I've seen Desmond Morgan in person, and he's still really small and liable to get crushed by offensive linemen. And you drafted two LOLphers.
[The drafters still got some splainin' to do. For the rest of the roundtable, and which school had the most picks, and stuff, HIT THE JUMP.]
PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT BIG TEN TEAMS IN AN EFFORT TO IMPRESS ONLOOKERS IN THE WORLD'S LEAST EFFECTIVE MATING RITUAL"…
PICKS were made to start, and
PICKS were made to continue, and
PICKS were made to continue continuing, and
We join our COURAGEOUS DRAFTERS on the VOYAGER II SPACECRAFT at THE EDGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. HEIKO is on the clock for the second pick of round WHATEVER.
We put a JUMP in this one because we probably should have been doing that all along.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Patrick Omameh (OG, UM), Fou Fonoti (OT, Michigan State), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill(DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: He had 31 knockdowns, 10 dominators, and allowed zero sacks last season as Michigan State's starting right tackle. I have no idea what some of those things mean, but they all seem like good things.
SNARK: "... poised to blow up in the mold of previous Michigan cornerbacks like Woodson, Hall, and Jackson." Who are you, Angelique Chengelis?
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU), Brian Mulroe (G, NW)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH), Ondre Pipkins (NT, MICH)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I won't pretend to know a ton about Northwestern's offensive line, so I'll trust Phil Steele (Mulroe: preseason second-team All-B1G), the coaches and media (honorable mention All-B1G in 2011), and the NFL draft boards (CBSSports has Mulrue as NW's top draft prospect) in making this selection. Mulroe has solid size at 6'4", 295, and he's lauded for his athleticism; he'll be the guy pulling when I run POWER. With this pick, I've locked up the clear-cut best interior line in our draft, and it might not be particularly close.
SNARK: See, Heiko, the interior line is the part of your offensive line that... oh, I give up.
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Jeremy Gallon (Slot, M), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OG, MICH), James Ferentz (C, Iowa)
CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Thomas Gordon (FS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa), Josh Johnson (CB, Pur)
EXPLANATION: Michigan goes into 2012 with its best safety tandem since...? If you can answer that question, you get to be there next time we're trying to figure that out for Hail to the Victors. Anyway I've got both, meaning I have complete and utter immunity from big plays, and now I also get to smugly stand by as Brian tries to explain why my ludicrous fumble recovery rate is all luck, dammit. Gordon isn't the flashiest of free safeties but even if he's Brandent Englemon, with this defense he too can spend most plays reading Infinite Jest.
He gets some help in that endeavor from Johnson, who the Mathlete says was the Big Ten's best cornerback last year. Hammer & Rails is of course biased but..
After having a season where he recorded 64 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and broke up nine passes, Johnson showed us that he is perfectly capable of hanging with the top receivers in the Big Ten.
He's right-sized for the position, can tackle, and his coverage, while knocked because he was operating with no safety help, is no worse than any of the guys taken above, especially the Michigan duo who just went off the board.
SNARK: MarQueis Gray was up to 6'4-250 last I checked. You haven't even drafted Keith Nichol; you've got Andy Mignery.
[ED: After the jump, everyone drafts more quarterbacks. Seriously.]
Liveblog update. I think we've found a much more reasonably-priced liveblog solution. We're taking a test drive at around noon Monday if you want to stop in, check it out, and ask a question about Will Campbell I can't really answer.
Hopefully this works out better than the last one. Denard is one of SI's 62 regional covers:
Hey, I wonder how Michigan did the last time they featured on one of SI's 64 regional covers?
Yipes. At least if they lose their opener this time no one is going to set the world on fire.
The Burzynski hypothesis. Joey Burzynski on his developing all-time beard:
"Facial hair goes in 150-year cycles," he says. "This was popular in the Civil War, and it should be coming back right about now I think."
And Mealer talking about… well, I'm going to pretend he's talking about their beard rivalry instead of their competition for starting LG:
"Joey's great," Mealer said. "He pushes me to get better and I hope I push him to get better."
Yeah, man, yeah. Follicles.
Wormley ACL bits. Chris Wormley's torn ACL is suboptimal but I don't think it'll be much of an issue either this year or down the road. Wormley was behind definitely Roh and probably Nate Brink, and Tom Strobel is a pretty big dude himself. If Wormley ended up being the #2 three-tech—vaguely possible—then Michigan has picked up a downgrade, but again, Matt Godin is already big enough to be an okay rotation player if Washington or Wilkins don't step up.
As for the injury itself, it's reportedly just a plain ACL tear with none of the assorted meniscus/PCL issues that are not fun. It just so happens I had a plain ol' ACL tear and am coming through rehab as we speak. Wormley will be on crutches for a month and then will start rebuilding his strength; he'll probably be limited or out for spring practice but by this time next year he should be good as new.
Meanwhile in Lansing injuries. Aaron Burbridge's rumored knee thing is now just a knee thing; he's out six weeks and will likely redshirt as a result. Meanwhile, starting LG Blake Treadwell has a stress fracture and will be out four or five weeks at least—hairline leg fractures can linger, especially when you're an unnaturally large human.
Hype that Bellomy. Russell Bellomy is coming in for a wide sampling of hype now, which makes sense what with Devin Gardner looking more and more like a wide receiver. Do you buy it? I dunno, man. Bellomy looked better than Gardner in the spring game but he was mostly dinking and dunking.
It doesn't really matter, does it? I mean, we're boned if Robinson goes down for an extended period of time either way. Carry on.
How did this happen? Tom Crean pulled a Les Miles yesterday as Indiana told 2012 recruit Ron Patterson that he wouldn't actually be enrolling at Indiana… after he had already enrolled at Indiana. He is eligible to transfer to another four year school immediately—he's eligible in the NCAA's eyes. Indiana had 14 players for 13 scholarships.
Q: isn't that against Big Ten rules? IIRC, if you don't have a spot for a player you have to explain where you're getting it before the Big Ten will allow you to go over. That reason could not have been "we will let this guy take some classes and then tell him to talk to the hand halfway through August despite being through the NCAA clearinghouse." How did Crean get this through?
Anyway, that's some dirt Indiana just did. They took a guy who was eligible, put him in classes, and then dumped him two weeks before fall classes start most places. Dwight Schrute, I am disappoint.
Etc.: Yahoo ranks Michigan #6; Pre-Snap Read goes with #18. I like reading previews just to see how many fanciful assertions each makes as someone with only a passing familiarity with the team in question tries to say stuff about guys on the line. Steve Sapardanis on Billy Taylor's shoes. Yeah, Pro Combat's a pretty dumb name for amateur non-combat. Maize and Go Blue breaks down some of Denard's mechanical issues.