frank beamer #1
...days until Jim Harbaugh leads our beloved team into Rice-Eccles Stadium.
EDIT: I'm sure many know, but in case some do not, that is Andre Weathers, who was a key player in the 1997 season.
So blueblood2991 had a good diary entitled Is football dying? By the Numbers.
I thought it was interesting when glancing through it. Seth also reviewed his diary and commented yesterday. My one quibble: the chart at the end of blueblood's diary shows the correlation between parents having graduate degrees and their children's participation in School Athletics, not in football in particular. I can imagine a fair number allowing their children to participate in gymnastics, badminton, swimming, figure skating, etc., but not in football. More detailed stats would be needed to show that correlation.
My question is more for mgobloggers who are parents. I'm curious if there are those here who are rabid football fans, yet will either not allow or strongly discourage their child's participation in football. Full disclosure: my 9th grade son will be playing ball this Fall, He has never had even a hint of a concussion in 4 plus years of tackle football. Of course, the risk heightens significantly from this point forward.
Still, I get the feeling that there are lots of fans who love and follow football . . . but not for their own sons. It kind of brings up visions of the fans depicted in The Hunger Games. What about you? Would you let your son play football, and encouage your son to play football? Our own beloved football coach has talked about how great the sport is for becoming a man. I agree with him. If all the Michigan football fans out there (and all the college football fans out there, and NFL and High School football fans out there,) encouraged their own sons to play football, I think we'd see an increase, not a decline, in the sport of football.
So it's August, and football withdrawal is reaching a frenzy. As productive as the limited media access to Fall Camp will be for the players, it leaves us in an echo chamber to. . . well, I'm hearing predictions of 10-win seasons and maybe even better.
As I've said elsewhere on MGoBlog, I'm tempering my expectations of results. The coaching staff clearly knows their stuff, but they're making a lot of changes and to an extent that compromises some short-term gains. Consider it a young team in spirit, with the inevitable goofs and gaffes that will lose us some games until they figure it out. And yet, it's also time to be really excited. Because starting next month, no team is safe. Ask Pete Carroll.
With that in mind, I'm back to pick on Borges again (sorry Al), but in a more positive light -- looking ahead to the upcoming season. No, this isn't a preview of San Jose State, but a comparison to highlight what is to me the most undercovered and yet profound shift in program philosophy. In anticipation of what Michigan 2015 will look like, I revisited Stanford's 2007 upset of #1 USC.
To be clear, the Stanford offense did NOT have a good game. 5-17 on third downs, 11/30 passing with a pick, and 2.2ypc rushing usually means you go home with your head down. And while there's been no shortage of words written or spoken about the improbable comeback, for as bad as the offense did that day, something struck me about the last drive. I find myself compulsively re-watching from 1:20:00 of this clip, not because it's exciting, but to compare it with a very different program philosphy:
"If you don't understand read progressions, footwork, timing and all that, you get paralysis through analysis. So there's carryover is what I'm saying. I don't care how much offense you decide to run, they're still running the same defenses, so unless you can talk the other guys into running the same defense every time, which I've never been able to do, it's always going to be somewhat difficult for the quarterback no matter how much you scale back the offense."
-Al Borges on backup QB Shane Morris
Hold that thought. Late in the fourth quarter, down a TD, Pritchard was facing 4th and 20. Harbaugh's calling in the play. And then this happens:
"I just remember being across the field, and [Harbaugh] yelling something to me. And I don't remember being able to hear it. . . I knew there could only be a couple of things, so I went back to the huddle, and I was like, 'OK, here's what we're going to do.'"
-Tavita Pritchard, Stanford backup QB
Let that sink in: In Stanford's do-or-die play of the game, their unheralded backup QB didn't have Harbaugh to tell him what to do. It was just him, in the middle of a deafening Coliseum, against the #1 team in the country, effectively alone. This is basically the worst-case scenario for a Borges QB (worst-case scenario in general, really), but this is what a Harbaugh (backup!!!) QB does in that situation:
"[Pritchard] comes back. . . 'Guys, I couldn't hear him; I don't got the play, but. . . we're gonna run double go.' . . . Man, we don't even got the play??"
"I remember keeping in an extra blocker. . . I was gonna make sure I could get this thing off."
"Tavita eventually put it together with the information that he had, and was able to call the play."
Sherman caught Pritchard's pass just beyond the first-down marker.
Maybe Pritchard is just the sort of cocky bastard (I mean that in a good way) to relish the situation, but he has to know he has the autonomy when he needs it. That comes from the head coach, which makes it an unfathomable outcome for a Hoke/Borges offense. Harbaugh is widely considered an innovative game-caller, but what I'm most geeked about is a program that will put the players in a position to dictate the game as needed -- not through talent, but through understanding of the game.
Stanford wasn't done, nor was USC. 1st-and-goal quickly became 4th-and-goal, Stanford's gains in the series rolled back by a substitution penalty. Well, we've been there before. What's the call, Al?
"We were pretty much going to stick with the plan. There was not going to be a lot of audibling in this game. . . we had designed the plan to block up to handle most of what they did, so we did not want to turn this into a chess game on the line of scrimmage."
Needless to say, Stanford went in the exact opposite direction. With everything on the line against the #1 team in the country, the players changed the play again.
"Mark Bradford, me and Evan Moore, we're trying to fit it in the hole, but [USC] kept their three best defenders over there for three plays. "Mark is like, 'Man, I'm gonna switch to the other side,' because Ryan Whalen, a walk-on, was on the other side. We don't even look on the other side; we're just trying to fit it in the hole. So. . . we're like, 'All right.' You know. . . why not? This hasn't been working, so he switched to the other side."
USC defended Bradford one-on-one in the corner, and he pulled in the game-winning TD.
If you're looking for the single biggest change from Hoke to Harbaugh, it's not the scheme, or the MANBALL, or the crazy plays or toughness or four-hour practices or a goddamn headset. Well, that's all part of it, but it's going to be guys who look like they're lost to guys who know what the hell they're doing. No, Al, it's not a chess match on the line of scrimmage because football players aren't pawns. They're people with brains, and those brains can be a huge on-field advantage. I liken the shift from guys who memorize sheets of music to musicians. I'm not looking forward to Harbaugh micromanaging the offense; I'm hoping that he'll do the exact opposite and field a team that opposing DCs won't be able to keep up with.
University of Illinois? Is this a joke? Have the reviewers ever been to Arizona State? Or Madison, WI for that matter?
Further proof that rankings mean nothing.
I don't have many memories of his playing days but never will forget his commercials.
Mel Farr to the rescue! RIP
Steve Greenberg has an excellent article out today in Rolling Stone about the Michigan - OSU rivalry and their respective coaches. He heaps praise (and rightly so) on Urban Meyer and says Michigan might not turn the tables this year, but nobody should count out the Wolverines in the coming years with Jim Harbaugh leading the charge:
He's aligned against perhaps the finest coach in all of college football – 1? 1A? What's the difference? – yet bent on shoving the Buckeyes' recent dominance in the rivalry into the abyss. Doubt this maelstrom of a man at your own peril.