As the Harbaugh mania continues to climax in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I thought it would be interesting to breakdown the Stanford offense from the harbaugh era. The first breakdown of my series involves the return of the fullback. Harbaugh has a great history of utilizing the fullback in his west coast style of offense. Harbaugh does not utilize his fullback as just a blocker. They are runners and pass catchers as well. The videos I have examined from past Harbaugh teams show a lot of pre snap motion by the fullback and tight end position. As I dive into my series you will also notice that Harbaugh uses so many different formations to confuse the defense. A Harbaugh Fullback needs to be versatile, and If you think about Michigan football past, several names come to mind when you think about versatile fullbacks, Chris Floyd, Aaron Shea, Leroy Hoard, Jon Ritchie and the list goes on. Michigan football has history at this position and I fully expect Jim Harbaugh to restore the position and add a few more names to the hallowed list of Michigan fullbacks.
The current Michigan roster has the following fullbacks listed:
|36||Joe Kerridge||FB||6-0||244||RS JR||Traverse City, Mich. (St. Francis)|
|39||Sione Houma||FB||6-0||242||JR||Salt Lake City, Utah (Highland HS)|
|37||Bobby Henderson||FB||5-11||236||RS SO||Hopewell Junction, N.Y. (John Jay HS)|
|33||Wyatt Shallman||RB||6-3||239||RS FR||Hartland, Mich. (Detroit Catholic Central)|
Of the listed fullbacks above brady Hoke utilized Joe kerridge the most. Kerridge was used sparingly as a runner only recording 3 attempts for 56 yards. As a receiver he had 6 receptions for 56 yards averaging 8.8 yards per catch in 2014.
Sione Houma who reportedly ran a 4.5 yard forty in high school in highschool really stands out to me. As a high school junior, Houma had over 1200 yards and 11 td's. Houma Also returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score in High school.
Wyatt Shallman like owen Marecic Shallman was a two way player. He was a linebacker and a running back in Highschool. He is versatile like Houma.
Bobby henderson????? he was a tailback in High School.
The question I have for all Michigan fans, which of the listed fullbacks above could you foresee becoming the next great fullback at Michigan?
To begin the series I embedded a senior bowl video of Owen Marecic where he speaks glowingly about Harbaugh, hard work and what it takes to succeed. This guy Is a football player and thats what you need in a fullback. Marecic is Hard nosed, tough and willing to go to war for the team.
In my analysis I decided to chose a play from the Stanford, USC game in 2009. This game is known as the 55-21 "whats your deal game". Please watch the embed for wonderful Harbaugh'isms.
ok, now for the breakdown of the fullback: The play I am referencing is a fake counter to the right side of the formation.
The play starts off in the I-formation, twins left, with the tight end bookending the tackle to the right. As Luck begins his cadence the full back motions to the weakside. This causes all three USC linebackers to shift to their right before the snap expecting a run to the weak side of the offensive formation.
The play sets up well as toby gerhart gets the linebackers to freeze with his counter step to the left, then sells the run fake by going back to the strongside of the formation, forcing the linebackers to react. By the time the linebackers realize its a pass they forcibly try to get back into their zones.
USC's linebackers did a great job reacting quickly to the play action and getting back. But their was one last sales pitch they were not prepared for. Owen Marecic is blocking the weakside defensive end and has been lost in translation. So in a matter of 3 seconds, you see see a great counter step by Toby Gerhart that freezes the linebackers, a great play fake by Andrew Luck where he keeps his eyes deep downfield before even looking toward Marecic, that sells the defense and gets the linebackers flowing back to their left. In all of this wizardry the key component is the fullback who is blocking the weakside defensive end one on one waiting to release into the wide open flat.
The link below is the actual play. Sorry but my embed was not working.
The presence of the fullback in the offensive scheme opens up another pass catching option for opposing defenses to have to account for. This gives an offense so much more versatility. This may be one of the lesser exciting reviews for many people, but it will be a relevant part of what Michigan football will do under Harbaugh. The best part of my analysis is that Harbaugh uses various formations, and he also used the read option with Andrew Luck. Get excited Michigan fans. There is no variation, or set of players Harbaugh cannot scheme around. The Current Michigan roster has the pieces it needs to be successful.
Next up: The offensive Line.
This is a PSA for obsessed Wolverine fans, of which I am one. It truly is; I want to eliminate that sinking feeling I know so many of you feel when you see "...Harbaugh permission to talk to Raiders" in a Board post title. The next 48 or so hours promise to see many more of these fictitious attempts to harsh your mellow. Your mellow is intact.
As I mentioned before, I think this is PTSD, and, after Appalachian State, Toledo, 3-9, RR, 2-11, 0-7, Minnesota, Rutgers, 5-7, 5-7, Hoke, decommits, "Well..." and on and on, I understand and share the trauma. But like Frodo awakening on the Field of Cormallen, the bad things are now over, and it's time to move on. Yes, we must still scour the Shire, but that is a foregone conclusion.
We are not now on the edge of knife with Harbaugh still in play for both NFL teams and Michigan, with heavy-hitting suits and suitors circling the Bay Area for a final sales pitch. IF any NFL team is still actually contemplating a run at Harbaugh, they do so in vain; if any discussion unfolds, it is but a courtesy as Jim smartly maintains goodwill in the NFL, where he will one day return for large trucks full of cash and a Superbowl title at a place of his choosing after leaving behind Big Ten titles, multiple NC playoff appearances and a lush coaching tree.
Contemplate this fact: Harbaugh loves Michigan so much that he is willing to leave what he himself regards as the pinnacle of his profession to return to Michigan. A coach widely regarded as a top 5 coach in the game is so attuned to the pleas from family, players and friends that he is willing to walk away from the NFL. You are saying, "Idiot OP, this has been discussed ad naseum." If it is obvious, then this very same loyalty, respect, and reverence for our beloved institution categorically prohibits:
- Deceiving family, players and friends.
- Leaving Michigan in total disarray without a Plan B coach at the 12th hour.
- Making a mockery of the University in the media and among rival fanbases.
The very prospect of Jim standing at the altar now (devotion to M) prohibits the further destruction of that same program, unless you think this man lacks all integrity. If you think that, you haven't watched this. This does not mean he had to choose Michigan. It means he has chosen Michigan. If he still was contemplating staying in the NFL--a reasonable and even expected position some months ago--that would not be a bad thing, but it would be accompanied by behavior in line with the respect discussed above: a loud and ongoing note of caution communicated through back channels to Michigan folks, encouraging the following activities:
- Continued search for coaching alternatives.
- His own statements of caution when asked at press conferences and in interviews.
- Michigan-based communication that respects his indecision and refrains from too much optimism being expressed in the form of exuberant team meetings, catered events, basketball announcement plans.
- Creation of a narrative in the public square that JH was one of many candidates so that UofM did not look "jilted" if he stayed in the NFL and, should he stay, that the vetting of Harbaugh was simply part of a sensible process.
The complete absence of these activities reveals that a man who worships Bo and his father, and loves the University feels no need for Michigan to be doing any of those sensible and "protective" things.
Furthermore, San Francisco's behavior would also be different if JH was contemplating staying in the NFL.
- There would be no public communication that they are surrendering proprietary control over Jim's services.
- If Jim was determined or even contemplating staying in the NFL, SF would be getting paid.
- And Oakland would not be doing the paying, because SF knows that--for all his flaws (in their mind)--Jim Harbaugh is one proven thing: a quick fix artist. It would be a certainty that JH at Oakland would revitalize that franchise immediately, taking what is already a PR problem and making it a PR catastrophe in that local market. This will not happen.
This overlong discussion leaves other compelling data unconsidered such as Brian Cook's certainty, the rumor mill being all in one direction, radio broadcasts with Michigan people publicly declaring it's happening, etc.
Hello: Jim Harbaugh.
Enjoy the next two days!
As it looks like this is probably going to happen, I'm sure there's plenty of mgobloggers that would love some added insight into the man who is about to lead our favorite team. This is a fantastic write-up by Seth Wickersham at ESPN that was originially posted back in the beginning of October, but it of course becomes more relevant to us now.
Some really great stuff in there, and you can see why many feel his style is more suited towards the college game than the NFL.
Another reason to get excited... as if we needed more...
Aside from being part of the initial laundry lists at Colorado State and Oregon State, have we heard one word about a possible landing spot for Brady Hoke?
He's seriously limited on potential options. He's not a successful Power 5 coach, so those jobs are out. He's not a coordinator, so those jobs are out.
That leaves the San Diego States and Youngstown States of the world. Bo Pelini snapped up the one good job that was available on that level.
So what are you hearing about Hoke? Is he going to be Tommy Amaker (good guy who lands in a quirky situation and succeeds), or is he going to be Brian Ellerbee (guy who just disappears. Totally disappears.)?
What becomes of Hoke? Anyone hearing anything?