i like 'em both
A couple weeks ago, I put together a google map with all of the Michigan bars I'm aware of (and also everything from the spreadsheet that bouje has been maintaining.) The map is here.
Hopefully this will prevent the "where's the Michigan bar in Pittsburgh/Fresno/Topeka/wherever" threads that pop up every week, but if your favorite gameday hangout isn't on here, put it in the thread and let me know. I'll do my best to keep the map up to date.
I'm seeing this all over my Facebook at the moment. All the players are posting about it. It seems like an impromptu football pep rally they will be holding on the Diag at 6pm this Thursday. I'll post some links as soon as I can find them. Is this news or did I miss this announcement?
I came across this article earlier in the day and it shocked me. I have not seen it posted anywhere on the board and thought this would be a good first post.
It simply is an article about our quarterback Devin Gardner has been called the n-word by the same people who call themselves fans of Michigan football.
This is just sad. How could a kid who has given his young life to the great University of Michigan and the fans deserve something so pathetic from some of the fans regardless of how he has played. He has given everything he has, and has done everything asked of him as well. I know its not all of them, but man it still is sad that he would have to deal with this.
I can finally uload games again!! What better game than an overtime classic against Michigan state. Going into this game most people were writing us off. Michigan state was 4-0 we were 2-2 with loses to wisconsin and note dame. They were ranked #11 and we were unranked. Very similar situation right now. Anyone think we can match these results? anyone? Enjoy. GO BLUE!!!
Before the season started, most pundits and fans figured we were either an 8-4 or 9-3 team. We were going to lose to MSU and probably OSU too; Notre Dame was a tossup, and there was probably going to be one unexpected loss in there as well somewhere. My prediction fell along these lines; at the time, it felt safe.
These assumptions were based on an analysis of “on paper” talent and experience, an apparent upgrade to a more rational, constraint-based offensive scheme, promises of a more aggressive defensive scheme better suited to the conference’s growing number of spread offenses, and the overall weakness of the Big 10. So we had our reasons, and they appeared to be good ones. Granted, the pessimists among us thought we were naïve; they suggested Michigan was more likely to go 7-5.
Now we sit at 3-4, having lost to Notre Dame but also Utah, Minnesota and Rutgers (yes, Rutgers). Our run offense has improved somewhat, but pass protection is a mess, while Gardner has seemingly regressed in the new system. Meanwhile, our defense has been good but not the elite squad we hoped for: we are better against the run than we were a year ago, but still mediocre at best against the pass. Oh, and our -11 turnover ratio spells DOOM. For comparison’s sake, we had a -2 turnover margin through the end of October 2013; we neither protecting the ball well enough on offense nor generating enough turnovers on defense. This is why we are bad.
Looking forward, 8-4 is still not impossible, but it’s so unlikely that it might as well be. The prospects for 7-5—that dreaded repeat of 2013—are moderately higher, but unless there’s some appreciable improvement (particularly in the turnover department), we won’t win in Evanston—let alone East Lansing or Columbus. As Seth recently said, this team may struggle to end up 6-6. Going 5-7 or worse is no longer unimaginable.
To illustrate, the predictive model I presented last time initially suggested we’d win 8.65 games. If you replace the predictive probabilities with the actual outcomes (0 or 1) for all games up to this point, it now suggests we’ll win 6.13. That’s still dependent on those preseason probability assessments, all of which look too rosy now. If I were to reassess them, the equation outputs 5.05 wins, with Indiana and Maryland the most likely. But even those games come with question marks—Maryland especially, given their WRs and our inability to cover WRs.
Using my Alien/Aliens based metaphor, we are clearly:
5. Alien Resurrection
Metaphor: Directed by the supremely talented Jean-Pierre Jeunot and featuring a screenplay by Joss Whedon—what could possibly go wrong? Nearly everything, that’s what. As Whedon later said: “It wasn't a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines...mostly...but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They… just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.”
Scenario: 7-5 or worse. Our defense is not as good as expected and/or our offense is as bad or worse than last year. Coach: meet hot seat. Athletic Director: meet pitchforks.
.15. Not outside the realm of possibility, but I’m also just not seeing this as very plausible either. Hard to see this turning out any other way at this point.
Maybe I was wrong--dead wrong--about how many games we won, but is this not a perfect description of our football team? We execute everything wrong, Devin is cast wrong, we have piped-in RAWK instead of the band scoring our home games, we say things wrong, and, at least twice this year, we have played unwatchable football. Obligatory image of the Springfield Tire Fire:
A Eulogy for the Brady Hoke Era
I'm genuinely sad about Brady Hoke's career trajectory. Everything started with such promise--sure there was a lot of talk about "running power," but it was all talk. Hoke was a "whatever works" guy, even if that meant (smartly) retaining most of Rich Rodriguez's offense. He said all the right things, gambled at the right time, brought in a dizzying array of top recruits, and oversaw a defensive transformation from worst-in-the-country to top 3 in the conference. We even won a BCS game, the first since Tom Brady led that epic comeback against Alabama in 1999/2000. Plus there was this:
Even going 8-5 in 2012 was understandable, since 4 of those losses came to the AP's final #1, 3, 4 and 8 teams--none of whom we played at home--and we were competitive in 3/4. It wasn't 11-2 with a BCS game, but at least we could hold our heads up high. Then the wheels started to come off against Akron last year, and almost nothing's gone right since. No need to recap--we all know the score at this point.
Bottom line, I'm grateful to Brady Hoke for the good memories, and am genuinely sad that it hasn't worked out. But without a roadmap to future success, with serious questions as to whether this staff can develop recruits, and with most of us tired of and frustrated with this seemingly endless sojourn in football purgatory, it's absolutely, 100% time to move on. Now.
My CC Wish List
At this point, the most important question is whether we are also Notre Dame 2.0. Not Notre Dame right now, but the Notre Dame of the post-Holtz/pre-Kelley interregnum—a brand-name program that can’t seem to translate top recruiting classes into consistent win percentages. They went through three, not two, bad coaching performances (Davie, Willingham and Weis) before finally settling on a guy (Kelley) who appears capable of consistently translating recruiting classes into wins. So are we going to find our Brian Kelley, or are we going to end up with our Charlie Weis?
With the urgency of preventing the latter of happening, I’d like to present a set of parameters that I’d hope would guide the next coaching search.
1. Hire someone with a clear track record of “coaching up” recruits.
At this point I think we can all agree that our current staff’s main deficiency is its inability to turn highly-rated recruiting classes into highly-ranked football teams—most obviously on the OL, but at safety, RB and arguably WR as well. This is not something unique to Michigan: Texas has had the same problem for years, as have Tennessee, Florida and USC on a shorter-term basis (see also: ND prior to the Kelly hire, Nebraska prior to the Pelini hire, Washington between James and Sarkesian, etc.).
Clearly being a football “blue-blood” with a natural recruiting advantage does not automatically ensure on the field success. I’d also argue that it’s significantly more important than pulling in highly-rated recruiting classes: look at Dantonio and Bielema, who have both been able to get the most out of recruits other schools passed over. I’m not saying we ignore recruiting evaluations or go for the same 2-stars as Wisconsin—just that we stress a track record of player development over other considerations in our coaching search. Put another way, finding a guy who can consistently turn 4/5 star recruits into high-level performers should be our #1 priority. Everything else is secondary.
Prioritizing this, of course, would likely preclude us from hiring a coordinator without head coaching experience, as OCs and DCs don’t have experience building staff. That doesn’t mean an OC or DC couldn’t do a great job developing talent, but rather that we are no longer in a position to take that kind of a risk.
2. Hire someone who takes a non-ideological approach to coaching (and especially offense)…
I get that this site includes a number of “spread zealots,” and I do like spread offenses (more on that later) but I’m weary of zealotry and its ancillary effects at this point. Lots of different offensive schemes can and do work in the FBS, and zealotry at the coaching level seems to always come with strange manifestations of stubbornness—at least at Michigan.
One thing I loved about Brady Hoke in the beginning was how, despite all the talk about “toughness” and “power,” he and Borges ran what was in essence a continuation of Rich Rodriguez’ speed-oriented spread-to-run offense. The wheels started to come off as soon as we moved away from “whatever fits our personnel” to “let’s pretend our athletic, dual-threat quarterback with accuracy issues is Tom Brady in the 1990s because this is Michigan fergodsake RUN POWER.” There are other reasons for our decline since the final whistle of Notre Dame 2013, of course, but this is a big one.
So essentially I want a coach who isn’t ideologically committed to things going a certain way, but is rather flexible and open-minded about how to use what you’ve got and build what you don’t. Though he’s fundamentally a spread-to-run guy, look at how Urban Meyer has run the offense in Columbus—or if that example rankles, consider Oklahoma under Stoops, Les Miles at LSU or Jim Harbaugh in transition from Stanford to the 49ers. These are all guys who take a flexible approach to offense, and have enjoyed success with different on-paper skillsets from the roster. We could learn from that.
[On the defensive side, see: Rodriguez’ bizarre insistence on the 3-3-5 regardless of staff or personnel.]
3. …but who does have a systematic approach to offense.
Being non-ideological about offense does not mean you have run grab-bag offenses with a lot of plays and no cohesion. I want someone who understands and runs the Constraint Theory of Offense, which stipulates that you run play B to keep defenses from keying in on play A, and you run play C when they overcommit to stopping A. For example, Rodriguez in 2010 with: QB Iso (A), Bubble Screen (B) and Pop Pass (C). Or Rodriguez in 2007 with: Zone Read RB (A), Zone Read QB (B) and Pop Pass (C). Or Nussmeier at Alabama with: Inside Zone (A), Bubble Screen/Outside Zone (B) and Play-action Pass/Power O (C).
The Constraint Theory of Offense does not care if you align in the spread or go pro-style. It just wants you to: a) read defenses and make adjustments according to what the defense is giving you; and b) capitalize on any and all overcommitments. As Chris Brown says, everyone should do this.
4. Hire someone who dispenses with the huddle, whether or not they go hurry-up.
Please correct me if I’m making the wrong assumption here, but I’ve always inferred that Brian, the Mathlete and others take a strategic view of tempo, by which I mean that they generally think uptempo (HUNH) is better (aside from obvious situations in which going fast leaves too much time on the clock at the end of a half/game). Hoke, on the other hand, appears to think that “you got to huddle” and wind down the clock on every play—no matter the circumstances.
If I had to choose, I’d take HUNH over "sloowwwwwwwwww it dowwwwn" in a heartbeat. However, I’d argue, as I have in several diaries and comments on this blog, that a tactical approach to tempo is ideal. By “tactical tempo” I mean: a) the ability to go fast or slow at any given moment; b) the willingness to go fast or slow according to circumstance; and c) deliberately varying tempo settings to unsettle defenses, settle your offense and/or give your defense a rest—game to game, drive to drive and play to play.
Tactical no-huddle approaches, like HUNH, work best when you dispense with the huddle. But whereas going no-huddle is a practical necessity for HUNH, it’s more a competitive advantage here. By getting to the line quickly, you either get a play off quickly (HU) or you give your quarterback time to read the defense. Time in the huddle is wasted time however you cut it, and QBs like Gardner and Morris could clearly use more time reading defenses.
For some empirical examples, I’d point you to how Urban Meyer approaches tempo at OSU—right now they are ranked #13 in ToP, compared with #113 for ASU and #123 for Oregon. But unlike some other Big 10 dinosaurs, Meyer’s OSU can turn on the jets pretty much whenever they want.
5. Hire someone for whom shotgun is the default...
I have nothing against under center play—it can work great for schools with mauler OLs and accurate, quick-reading QBs. But as long as we have questions on the OL and QBs who can make plays with their legs but are also prone to making questionable throws on a regular basis (Morris appears to be the fourth of these in a row), we are better served by shotgun formations. Shotgun helps the QB read the defense pre-snap, gives the QB more time to read the defense post-snap and allows for QB runs (or at least the threat of QB runs). I see no downside to shotgun.
6. …and who is known for running a dynamic passing offense.
Do you remember the last time we had a dynamic passing offense for a whole season? I do—2006. At present there are three principle ways teams install one of these: 1) have 2-3 dominant receivers no one can cover; 2) spread out your WRs and get little dudes in space; and 3) put at least 2 pass catching TEs on the field who are too big for DBs and too fast for LBs. Examples of each would be: 1) us in 2006 or USC under Pete Carroll; 2) anyone who learned anything from Mike Leach; and 3) Jim Harbaugh at Stanford/the 2011 New England Patriots.
Few schools appear able to bring in 2-3 dominant WRs with consistency, including us in the years since Manningham and Arrington left for the NFL, so I’ll go with options #2 or #3. With regards #2, as much as I hated losing to Rutgers, I admired how effectively their spread-to-pass scheme took advantage of our gooey inside pass coverage and suspect safety play. And I’ve long admired how schools like TTU can put almost anyone in at QB and produce 300-400 passing yards/game. FTR, we have some anyones on our roster.
I also see this as relatively easy to install given our personnel. We’re already zone blocking on most plays anyways, so the OL would’t need to learn a whole new system. The WRs would, but given the lack of progress with our WRs this year, it might be for the best. And just imagine our new coach/OC splitting Funchess and Darboh/Chesson out wide, and then using their routes to get Canteen/Norfleet/Jones lost in space—until defenses adjust and then you’ve got Michael Crabtree Devin Funchess going vertical one-on-one. Plus Butt and Hayes are guys you could line up inside and then split out wide whenever you like, so there’s that too.
I also love the flexible, dual TE offenses Harbaugh and BoB developed. Going dual TE would require another pass-catching TE, of course, though *maybe* we’ll get one this year.
7. …and an aggressive, read-based defense.
Our defense improved by leaps and bounds under Mattison and Hoke, but since 2012 it’s felt soft—especially on pass coverage. I’m just going to be straight up and say I want us to install an aggressive defensive scheme where corners know how to press and everyone knows how to read the offense pre- and post-snap. Chris Brown’s piece on MSU’s defense is instructive. I know, I know--easier said than done. But let’s keep trying to do that too. It's where defensive scheme is at right now, and looks to be in the future.
8. Hire someone who can do PR/tell AD to butt out of game planning.
The former appears to have been a problem with Rodriguez, the latter with Hoke. So clearly attempt #3 requires someone positioned to do both.
Can you think of anyone who roughly fits this bill? I can. His name begins with a "J" and ends with an "im Harbaugh."
Bye(ish) week special - the usual utterly one-sided IU 2013 highlights.