"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
Hey folks. Hope you had a pleasant holiday. I did except for my hard drive dying, then beeping alarmingly, then resurrecting itself. Either I need a new computer or I should hand over this hard drive to SCIENCE so all can benefit from this discovery. Probably the former. Anyway…
Merry Christmas. Stauskas attempts to hit 90% from three, does:
I like to have this man on a basketball team I like.
A non-ringing non-endorsement. Hoke on the Big Ten expanding:
Michigan coach Brady Hoke suspects it won't end there.
"It's probably not finished," he said Thursday in Tampa during a segment with Michigan Radio.
Although Hoke offered no dissension toward expansion, he also didn't endorse it.
"Is it a positive? I think it's the world we live in right now," he said. "As coaches, we have no say in anything, I want you to know. The presidents make those decisions -- people way up in the food chain. But I doubt it's done."
Bo is spinning in his grave right now. As I've mentioned before, at this point I'm all for further expansion since Big Ten Old and Big Ten New (And Purdue Or Something) is a much better setup than seeing Iowa and Wisconsin and whoever else once every million years.
Meanwhile, Michigan's moving to a third hotel Monday for some reason.
Hoke quote, epic variety. Is here:
Hoke on Denard & Kovacs: "So we have a distant cousin of Bob Marley and an accountant as our captains."
Cumong man. Very frustrating to hear Will Campbell speak of his laziness early in his career:
"When I was younger, I was lazy," Campbell said. "I didn't listen as much, I didn't take everything in like I should of. There were people around me telling me, too -- it was just me not doing it."
That's one thing recruiting rankings will always struggle to encompass. Jonathan Hankins couldn't get through three consecutive reps when he hit Michigan's camp as a rising senior, but got it together and turned into a beast. Campbell had that famous picture where he's all throwing guys all over the place…
…and then he doesn't really do much until he's a senior and by then we're just happy when he's okay. Meanwhile, repetition of theme about redshirting: RR threw Campbell on the field as a true freshman despite the fact he was patently unready, and now both Michigan and Campbell probably wish they'd have one more year together in which Campbell improved on his 2012 and maybe moved into the middle rounds of the draft. The redshirt forever.
On the other hand. Will Campbell on his beach day:
It's hard out here. I done fought two sharks, wrassled a sting ray, ate two crabs--had butter out there. It's hard out here but you know how we do it, I'm from Detroit. You know, it was nothing. Two great whites, punched a whale in the face... easy day. Go Blue.
He has never lacked for entertainment. The entire segment is pretty fantastic:
Also in this category. Brendan Gibbons on pirates:
Michigan placekicker Brendan Gibbons grew up a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, and has always dreamed of playing at Raymond James Stadium.
Of course, he has a perfectly logical reason for loving the Bucs.
"I like pirates," he said.
Unfortunately, we are doomed since Gibbons no longer looks like Keith Stone.
Made with weed and torn ACLs. A reader sends along a shot of a micorbrewery in Coralville, Iowa, with a very special Extra Special Bitter:
Other than the relatively low alcohol content, perfect.
Exit bizarre decision guy. MSU wing forward Brandan Kearney announced he was leaving a few days ago, leaving Izzo to grasp his hair alarmingly($) and dance on the edge of calling Kearney a danger to society:
One of the more bizarre things I’ve been involved with in coaching. Came back from Christmas and (he) just informed me he thinks he’s better off going somewhere else. Not really happy with his role, you know. Wants more role, wants to score more, wants to do this more, wants to do that more. I gotta admit, it was a little strange for me and the players when a guy’s playing 17 minutes a game, but at the same time it’s gonna open it up maybe for another guy.
Thus ends what was, in retrospect, one of the most overblown recruiting controversies in Michigan basketball history: Carlton Brundidge vs Brandan Kearney. Answer: neither, and nobody in state. Unless I missed a guy from outside the Rivals 150 who is blowing up Amir Williams is the only guy from that instate recruiting class doing anything at a major school at the moment. Michigan did get a guy named Trey Burke that year, so that recruiting class something less than a total loss.
As for the departure's impact, Kearney was playing about 40% of MSU's minutes but when the going got tough those dwindled to 6-9 per game. He was a quality defender with little offensive game; MSU will probably revert to the twin towers lineup they had scrapped earlier in the year in an apparently futile effort to cut down on turnovers. I'm not sure Kearney's departure is worth much—maybe a game—but in a brutal big ten every little bit helps, or hurts as the case may be.
Oh for pants' sake. One side of the story and all that but a former Louisville player has sued UL for cancelling his scholarship mid-year after
- two teammates attacked him in the locker room and broke bones around one of his eyes (they were later charged with assault and kicked off the team)
- he was told not to tell the doctor and other folks how he sustained those injuries
- a doctor told him to stop playing football after problems with his eyes
Cancelling a scholarship mid-year is against NCAA regulations, FWIW…
Mid-year cancellations must be for specific reasons in the NCAA bylaws or for violating a term of the scholarship agreement. Any cancellation or non-renewal requires the student-athlete to be provided written notice from the financial aid office and a hearing opportunity.
…and it seems like they could easily have medicaled the guy. I'm sure Strong and Louisville have their side of the story. Looks ugly.
As more money flows into the top echelons of the sport it's time to ask why the NCAA has such strict limits on scholarships issued. If a team wants to carry 100 scholarship players, why not let them? All of this oversigning business would be done tomorrow if the NCAA would restructure revenue sports in such a way as to encourage retention instead of attrition, as a hard cap does.
In the barn. The following six true freshman have enrolled early:
- OT Logan Tuley-Tillman
- OG Kyle Bosch
- CB Ross Douglas
- S Dymonte Thomas
- DE Taco Charlton
- TE Jake Butt
For Douglas, Bosch, and Butt the early enrollment should give them a better shot at early playing time. With the thin interior OL it's not out of the question that Bosch is in the mix to play from day one despite being an OL. Douglas will probably have to wait a year with Countess/Avery/Taylor in front of him but the fourth guy will get PT and the race is on for that spot. Thomas may play some as well; Charlton and LTT seem like obvious redshirt candidates.
All but out of the barn. Taylor Lewan:
"I have an idea what I'm doing. I'm almost positive what I'm doing. But at the end of the day, this bowl game doesn't have to do with what I'm going through. ... I'm playing football on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and I'll make my decision, and I'll talk to the coaches about it, and then we'll obviously go from there and what they want to do to get it out.
Is there something that could change his mind?
"No," Lewan said. "No."
So long and thanks for all the fish.
It all worked out. Followup on "how to schedule nonconference games": Michigan did pretty well this year despite the Binghamton game. They approach the finish line of their nonconference slate 15th nationally after playing 5 major teams and avoiding the very bottom of D-I with the exception of the Bearcats. Their peripheral numbers should be good come tourney time after slogging through the brutal Big Ten, and that'll give them a leg up on anyone with around the same record not named Duke when S-curves are plotted.
Fight. James Young vs. Derrick Walton, go:
Walton is ripping opponents for 30-40 points a game these days to go along with the point guard stuff. There will necessarily be a dip when Burke is gone next year; it may not be a huge one.
Etc.: Elliott Mealer reminisces about the bad thing. Tony Dungy drops in on Michigan. Chad Ford declares Trey Burke "firmly planted in the first round"($), so godspeed Mr. Burke. Going I-A: Why? Stop. Don't. Joe Lundardi has Iowa the last team in, Iowa fans excited. Craig Roh is about to break the Michigan record for consecutive starts.
"I will wear it with pride."
To a man, the seniors of Team 133 thanked the University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit for the rings presented to them at last night's annual football bust. They may have been told to do so; the sincerity rang true, regardless.
To earn those rings, the seniors endured far more tumult than the average Wolverine class. A handful committed to Lloyd Carr's class of 2008, witnessing a coaching change before they ever set foot on campus. Every one made the jarring transition from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, who had the privilege of introducing each senior, charmingly butchering the more complicated majors—the sciences presented a particularly tricky articulative obstacle—and presenting their rings with the requisite bear hug.
Then came the stories, the laughter, and in one case, tears.
Ricky Barnum, heading to the School of Social Work next year after graduating with a degree in Afro-American and African Studies, implored the audience to "hit me up" if they ever need a grant or proposal written.
Will Campbell thanked the strength coaches for turning him "from a 346-pound slob to a 308-pound stud, as you can see."
Brady Hoke, before introducing fullback Paul Gyarmati, noted that Gyarmati's father played bass with Carlos Santana for several years. Gyarmati, off the cuff, thanked his father for "stealing my thunder."
While introducing Jack Kennedy, graduating with degrees in Mathematics and Physics, Hoke quipped, "it was tough, but I got him through."
Elliott Mealer, lumberjack beard intact, started his speech by saying, "I cleaned up for you tonight." He finished with a quote from his late father: "If you don't have good dreams, you have nightmares."
Patrick Omameh, Dr. Arthur D. Robinson Award winner for his academic accomplishments, sweat profusely during his improvised speech. "It's my trademark," he said, with no hint of shame.
Craig Roh thanked Jesus Christ for getting him through two-a-days and fall camp.
Roy Roundtree lit up while reliving his recruitment, recalling high school teammates Michael Shaw and Brandon Moore telling the then-Purdue commit that he might get a Michigan offer—"Man, I get that offer, I'm coming to Michigan," he said, noting how good he looked in a winged helmet.
Roundtree later broke down in tears while thanking Director of Academic Counseling Greg Harden, whom he credited for getting him through Michigan; his genuine thankfulness, even awe, at the prospect of going to grad school was heartwarming.
Floyd Simmons revealed that during games he liked to sit to J.T. Floyd's right on the bench, spelling out "Floyd" "Simmons" with their jersey nameplates, "but no one ever gets a picture of it."
Vincent Smith joked about chasing rabbits in Pahokee, and thanked the coaches for teaching him how to cut-block defensive ends—quite well, one might add.
Hoke called out Steve Wilson for getting into Michigan State's medical school. After mock boos from the crowd, Wilson noted that, yes, he got into State, but the only medical school he really wants to attend is Michigan.
Going last, of course, was Denard Robinson, who thanked virtually everyone associated with the program, including the academic staff that corralled the self-proclaimed "free spirit" and helped him become the first member of his family to graduate from a four-year college. He also apologized to Al Borges—and his wife—for sending him home with so many headaches before closing, aptly, with "this is Michigan, fergodsakes."
The MVP of the bust, however, was also voted Bo Schembechler MVP by the team. Jordan Kovacs, a late arrival after attending the Burlsworth Award ceremony for nation's top former walk-on, brought down the house with his opener:
“I’d first like to thank coach Rich Rodriguez for allowing a slow, unathletic and undersized kid to play at the University of Michigan. That was really nice of him to let Drew Dileo play football here.”
Kovacs, who also won the Bob Ufer Spirit Award, finished by saying he was proud to call himself many things, walk-on included, but most of all to be a Michigan Man.
On this night, as the seniors had their football graduation of sorts—a few with more football ahead, many more on their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, social workers, or teachers—it was a fitting close from the captain. All have earned the right to wear their rings with pride.
Brian has already waxed poetic about the seniors, so I'll stick to moving pictures and keep the words to a minimum. I've done my best to cover each member of the outgoing class. Let's just say it was hard to pick one moment for this guy:
He may make some cameo appearances later.
[For the rest of the gifs, hit THE JUMP.]
A leaf blows in fall
Tasting each position once
Time to duck, Martinez
These days people who
are not Thomas Gordon say
"Get off of me, please"
A man from nowhere
is the safety blanket for
a hundred thousand
As Northwestern died
they must have thought "ouch" and
"my god, sweet mustache"
We'll always have that
Purdue hash to hash zone drop
and a kickoff hold
finger-gun Balrog LB,
state YOU SHALL NOT PASS
Stayed through some things
that would have made most depart
and we needed him to
Not a walk-on, no
A scientist of brains, yes
And blocker of sweeps
[UPDATE: so I forgot Roy Roundtree.
Joe Tiller quivers
in walrus rage as Roundtree
waves an arm, alone
I had been in the desert for some time, lost and directionless. The sun was relentless. A deadly thirst stalked me. I had not accepted the grisly fate which awaited me but was powerless to change it.
On the fifth night—possibly the sixth—a breeze arose. It was cool and dewy. I savored it for a time, then step by step it led me home.
Formation notes: We've already talked about Michigan's 3-3-5 at the end of the game, which was really blue for some reason:
filmed in post-apocalyptic-Denzel-Washington-vehicle-o-vision
The rest of it was as per usual. Michigan goes with an even front against spread packages and flares the LBs out to deal. This results in things like this…
…and is a declaration of immense faith in the DTs. Here's Ryan over the slot again:
Michigan used some super wide splits once, when they were sick of getting edged by the option:
This was a FB dive that looked dangerous before Pipkins spatted the ballcarrier for two yards.
Finally, here's something. What? I'm not sure. THANKS DIRECTOR GUY
I swear these guys who come in and think they're Football Tarantino.
Substitution notes: Secondary as it always is. The front seven saw the same rotation they have in the last couple games, with CGordon/Bolden/Ross backing up Ryan/Demens/Morgan at LB and Heitzman/Black/Pipkins/Clark backing up Roh/Campbell/Washington/Beyer. Heitzman's increased PT continued; Bolden got relatively few snaps. Ross got more, including the last drive, but maybe not as many as I expected he did going in.
[AFTER THE JUMP: getting gashed, responding, Kovacs in your grill]
Michigan punched in a touchdown on their only possession of overtime against Northwestern and took the field needing to get a fourth-down stop at some point to win. They got it right away. On first down, Will Campbell(+2, pressure +2) swims through a guard to get instant pressure; Colter finds a running lane because Washington is out of position and picks up seven yards.
Three plays later, Northwestern was still at the eighteen, out of downs. WHA HAPPEN? In three parts, what happened.
Second And Three: Campbell Two-Gap
Northwestern comes out in the pistol, with Michigan in an even front with Ryan shaded over the slot. They keep two safeties 13 yards off the LOS—they are essentially playing a man down in the front seven because Colter demands to be contained.
The FB started on the other side of Colter and motioned just before the snap; Michigan's linebackers shuffle a little in response, but not much. Northwestern is going to run a plain old zone play.
There is a mesh point here. Colter is reading Roh. Roh does two things once the tackle lets him go:
- He forms up at the LOS
- He shuffles inside a bit to remain tight with the hip of the tackle.
give + no cutback == job done
#1 makes Colter give. #2 prevents Mark from heading all the way backside, which is important. If my spread 'n' shred analysis skillz are now basically irrelevant at least they're useful for parsing Northwestern. I've seen this before:
It's the vertical zone read play RR termed "belly." Under RR Michigan wouldn't go so far as to move into the pistol, but they would slide the QB up a foot or two and make this same handoff. It looks a lot like inside zone to the defense, and usually by the time they find out it's not the guy going backside has picked up a nice chunk.
Belly is about doubling the DTs, and driving them back; failing that you go at the spot the backside DE vacated when he went to contain the QB.
Here there's nothing. This is the mesh point. The line is a solid mass of humanity from Roh to Campbell, with the only gap on the frontside as Clark contains. The DTs have held up at the LOS. Mark has nowhere to go save that frontside gap.
That's a problem because neither LB is hitting that gap. Meanwhile the fullback shoots downfield, looking for Kovacs. Mark has to redirect—this is not what the play was supposed to create—and this takes time, which is a saving grace.
Campbell is here, and then he's obscured because he's flung himself to the other side of his blocker and tackled.
Mark squeezes out a couple before most of the players on the field converge on top of him.
Now Michigan has third and short. They like third and short.
Things And Stuff
It looks like Michigan is conceding the first down. Second and three and Michigan puts a full two-deep coverage on, leaving just six guys in the box against seven players. It's almost like Michigan is playing TD prevent and living to fight again on first and ten from the 13.
This is all defensive line. Collectively the two DTs take on four blockers and while those blockers release, Washington is in a spot where he closes off a gap at the LOS. Roh has taken the cutback away. And when Mark redirects outside, Campbell fills the gap outside Washington.
This is a cost of cutting off screens. Remember last year when Michigan got burned by bubble after bubble in this game? Mattison responded by flaring Ryan over the slot. That was the first we had seen of that; it's now a standard thing. Bubbles have all but evaporated. So that's good, but it also leaves Michigan in some vulnerable positions. Here their best defensive player is irrelevant to the play. It would be nice to have some better run support on the edges.
I'm not sure about the LB play here. Both guys end up catching blocks. They do this because the NW OL does not extend their doubles. Since the doubles are not extended, the DL can make the play they make. I am still kind of nervous about it. There's no slant here so they just have to play it straight, and as a result neither gets anywhere near the play. I'm guessing that's the way they have to play it. Gives me hives. Help, anyone?
Will Campbell woo. He vexed the pants off of a couple of guys in this game. This play in particular reminded me of watching Hoke talk about DL technique at that coaching clinic. Campbell may get a little high, but he takes one step inside and then fires upwards, rocking the G backwards. At that point his hands are on the interior of the OL. He controls the block, and can go from one gap to the other when Mark does. If you watch it enough you'll be like oh right the sleds DL hit.
Campbell made the Northwestern G look like an inanimate object designed to be hit to teach technique. Heininger Certainty Principle +1.
SIDE NOTE: DL DID NOT USE SLEDS UNDER RR /dies