landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
2011 eastern michigan
Other stuff: EMU blog Eagle Totem does the Q&A thing with this here blog, MNB. Know Your Foe from the MZone. TTB predicts the annual Mike Cox long run against crappy competition. BWS lays out expectations. Will Campbell features. Surprise! No. M&GB and M&BN both put more effort into their previews than I did.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Eastern Michigan|
|WHERE||Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI|
September 17th 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan –29.5|
Q: is "Embrace the Process" the world's worst motivational slogan or Ron English expressing disapproval of Brady Hoke criticism?
A: WHY DID YOU LEAVE TWO DEEP SAFETIES BACK AGAINST ARMANTI EDWARDS YOU TWIT
Run Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
Eastern's only games this year have come against FCS opponents, which tells you something about the program: they aren't even thinking about getting to six wins and a bowl game.
For what it's worth, EMU was 118th in rushing defense last year, giving up over 230 yards per game at over six yards per attempt. When Jerry Kill's NIU Huskies and their #7 rushing attack rolled in at the end of the season, the carnage was impressive: 544 yards and eight touchdowns. NIU averaged over 15 yards a carry!
Key Matchup: There is no key matchup.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: I'm not sure there is one. I'm sure we'll get a heavy dose of I-form. It'll be interesting to see whether or not Michigan can eclipse EMU's YPC average from last year from actual I-form running plays. Survey says… yes, but it will be close.
Pass Offense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU's pass efficiency defense last year was somehow worse than their rush defense, finishing 119th out of 120. The only team worse? Jay Hopson's Memphis Tigers. EMU gave up 9 YPA, gave up 32 touchdown to two interceptions, and finished 118th in sacks.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Denard accuracy.
Run Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
via the Eastern Echo
This is the solitary thing Eastern is not atrocious at. They are far from good, but averaging 4.1 YPC is almost kind of okay—it's better than several Lloyd Carr offenses managed. I am not going to go into all the reasons this turns me into Brian Kelly.
/beats head against wall
/feels strange kinship with Mike DeBord
Instead I'll emphasize that Eastern couldn't move the ball at all against even horrible BCS level competition last year (2.8 YPC versus Vandy) but that they did decently against the 2009 Michigan defense (3.7 YPC despite losing their QB and putting in a freshman Alex Gillett), which presaged a lot of nasty things. I'll be interested to see how wacky Mattison gets and what the effects are. I'd prefer a whole lot of vanilla just because it will conceal blitz packages for tougher opponents but also because Michigan needs work on being vanilla effectively.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Will Campbell increases his share of playing time; Cam Gordon comes back and plays well; Brandin Hawthorne solidifies his spot at WLB; holding EMU to three YPC.
Pass Defense vs. Eastern Michigan
EMU just missed finishing in triple digits here, managing to creep up to 98th in passer efficiency. Gillett's numbers weren't that horrible—7.1 YPA—except when it came to interceptions, of which he threw 13 in 229 attempts. That's a significantly higher INT percentage than even Denard. Also he was horrible against decent competition, which Michigan may just be in the secondary.
Thing That Would Make Me Feel Better About The Big Ten Schedule: Lots of pressure generated by the defensive line.
Two games, no field goal attempts. I endorse this course of action.
Key Matchup: GIBBONS YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS AAAAAA
Double digit spreads against MAC teams don't warrant cat pictures until the current coach loses to one (or a Horror). This is Michigan.
- Eastern Michigan gains any yards.
- Eastern Michigan makes any stops.
- Eastern Michigan does anything right at all.
Cackle with knowing glee if...
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
- You think about last week's Notre Dame game.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 (Baseline 5; –1 for Eastern's run D, –1 for Eastern's pass D, –1 for Eastern's pass O, –1 for Ron English against a mobile quarterback, –1 for Of 17 Official Stats The NCAA Tracks Eastern Was In Triple Digits In 11 Last Year.)
Desperate need to win level: 10 (Baseline 5; +1 for NOT AGAIN GOD DAMMIT, +1 for Losing to Ron English With a Mobile Quarterback is Definitely a Sign of the Apocalypse, +1 for I'm Sick Of Showing Up In LOL Photographs On Black Heart Gold Pants, +1 for Indisputable Evidence The Curse Of Letting Bo Die Instead Of Sacrificing As Many Virgins As It Took To Get The Job Done (Sorry, School of Engineering) Persists Despite This Is Michigan, +1 for I Hate Old TJ Hooker Episodes.)
Loss will cause me to... wake up in former Soviet republic married to a goat and happy the only television in the country is hardwired to show old TJ Hooker episodes.
Win will cause me to... experience no emotion whatsoever.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:
Michigan wins by a lot.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- We run from the I on half of all plays.
- Rawls debuts and does something cool, then disappears to the bench for the rest of the year.
- Everyone reads way too much into whatever Will Campbell does.
- Michigan, 35-10.
News bullets and other important items:
- Cam Gordon is healthy, but conditioning might be a problem at this point.
- Troy Woolfolk is fine, so stop asking.
- Fitz Toussaint will return for EMU.
- Ricky Barnum is clear starter at left guard.
- Will Campbell will get more playing time.
- Freshman RBs may play depending on how things go.
- Justice Hayes is lining up as a receiver on scout team at times.
- Brendan Gibbons is still primary placekicker, with Wile/Paulowski handling long FGs.
- No redshirting decisions made yet.
- Blake Countess looks likely to be a contributor at some point.
- Saturday is Hoke's 100th game as head coach, but it ain't no thang.
"Let’s not be sticklers on what’s morning and what’s not."
Opening remarks: “We’ve got a lot of work, and I’ve said that before, and you guys say, ‘Yeah, right,’ but we have a lot of work to do as a football team. Tuesday, yesterday, was an okay day. I didn’t think it was a great day. A lot of that was the mental things of game planning. It always seems to happen that way. Every Tuesday is not near as good as Wednesday and not near as good as Thursday, because you tweak your plan a little bit, and you’ve got to have something that your kids, number one, can execute and perform well, but at the same time, you want to take advantage of some things that you want to from your opponent.
“Eastern is a very good football team. I’m talking about how they play the game. You can tell Ron’s done a great job in his footprint on that program. I’ve known Ron for a number of years, and his toughness that they want to have as a team is evident. If you look at 331 yards per game, I don’t care who you’re rushing the ball, if you’re averaging that, that’s pretty significant. So they’re blocking pretty well up front. There’s a number of guys that have spent time here in Ann Arbor on that staff who are very good coaches, and guys who understand and have a philosophy on how you play the game of football. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got to play much better. We have to have some improvement as a team if we want to reach our goals, so believe me. We’ve got full attention on what Eastern Michigan does."
What’s practice like during game week, re: position drills, scrimmaging, etc.? “Tuesday and Wednesday are big work days -- big physical days and we’re going to compete against each other in some of the drills because of the speed and the look that you want. You break up part of practice to get a good switch of personnel so you can get a look at the plays that you have to defend and the defenses that you want to try and block. The kicking part of it – we do coverage teams on Tuesday, return teams on Wednesday, and do them both on Thursday. All those things, as you look at your opponent, you’re trying to put the best plan together.”
Does Eastern’s emphasis on the run help you shore up things up front? “I don’t know if it helps. I think they’re very good with formations. I think they leverage defenses pretty well. I think they do a nice job in and out of personnels and formations to leverage a defense. It all goes back to the same thing on defense -- you have to play with your eyes, and you have to make sure you’re honed in on what that key is -- that key at every position so you can react in the proper manner.”
Has Cam practiced this week? “He practiced yesterday, ran around, did some things. My biggest concern right now for him is his conditioning level because he’s missed a lot of time. I think we’ll get through that, but right now he’s available.”
You’ve talked about improving from week one to week two. What did you do better against Notre Dame, and how do you plan on continuing that trend? “I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and then you've got to continue to be championship teams, you’ve got to continue every week. A lot of that comes from the mental process of how you prepare, and that’s what we as a team have to do a good job of -- the way we prepare every week.
“I think we did some good things on third downs in the second half from a defensive standpoint. I thought we adjusted well offensively at halftime. When you look at some of the runs Denard had, and how Al changed up some blocking offensively to expose it a little more and help it. So there was good reaction from what Notre Dame was doing. I thought that was a good part. I think kickoff coverage was good.”
Do you expect to get Fitz back for Eastern? “Yeah he should be. He did everything yesterday, so we hope to.”
Taylor Lewan got pissed off yesterday because someone told him that the running backs didn’t really do much in the run game. What does O-line have to do to allow RBs some consistency? “You have to be better at the point of attack. You have to finish if you’re combination blocking, make sure you get up to the next level, make sure you’re getting the movement that you want on the line of scrimmage. There’s multiple things, because there’s perimeter people you have to count on harassing the guys from the secondary so your bigger plays can come from that. I think Taylor and all those guys have a lot of pride, and it’s good to hear that.”
Did you think Vincent Smith made a bigger difference in the passing game than rushing game? “I couldn’t tell you that. I think we have to block better. That’s where the game starts, so it’s like everything else. It’s all of us, coaches, players, and everybody.”
What does Vince bring on third down? “He’s tough. He knows what he’s doing, he’s tough, he’s not afraid to put his face on somebody, and he’s good out of the backfield. Catches the ball well. I like that little guy.”
Is there ongoing competition at left guard (Barnum vs. Schofield)? “I think Ricky has probably cemented himself decently to some degree in there, but if he practices badly or plays badly, then it’s nice to have a little bit of an option with Mike.”
Have you given any thought to Saturday being your 100th game as a head coach? “No.” Does it mean anything to you? “Not really.”
You referenced improvement on third down stops. Overall number isn’t very good yet, but is there a common theme in what worked on those plays? “I would think a couple things -- number one, we’ve got to challenge a little more in the back end. That would be first. We let some runs that were … I think there were one, two … three runs on third downs that broke because of one reason or another that we’ve got to execute better.”
Mike Hart’s going to be on the opposite sideline. What’s your relationship with him like? “I know Mike. I wasn’t here when Mike was here, but I have a lot of respect for Mike, and what he did for Michigan. I know him well enough. He’s a good man, and I like the heck out of him.”
If the opportunity arose, would you welcome him back to Michigan? “I think all of those guys are welcome back.”
After you get done with a noon game, do you spend the rest of the night looking at other teams? “Well, I’ll take the laptop home and first thing I’ll do is watch what we did, and then there’s usually next opponents on there gamewise, and may look at that a little bit.”
Are you going to give Will Campbell more playing time? “Yeah, in fact I asked him -- I guess I’m a little naïve -- I said, ‘Is that the most you’ve ever played?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and I said, ‘Really?’ I guess I should have known that. He did some good things in there. I think he’s gaining a little bit more confidence. He is a guy that can help us an awful lot if we can get the consistency and the improvement.”
Has lack of PT lit a fire under him in practice? “I think he just is -- I think we all get to a point that he’s settled in a position, number one, and I think that helps on a daily basis on what you do from a fundamentals and technique side. I think that part of it is real positive for our football team, and positive for him.”
Just makin’ sure … Is Troy limited at all in practice? “No. He did everything yesterday. I really like where he’s at in a mental state right now.”
Michael Floyd got his yards, but JT had him one-on-one and did a nice job considering it was against Michael Floyd. What did he do well? “I think JT’s improved. I think he’s got a long way to go, but I think he’s done some things better. I think he has the confidence level you want to have as a corner, without being too cocky. I think that’s an important part of it. There’s a lot of plays in there where he’s got to play a little better, too.”
Can you talk about your depth at linebacker position? “I think with Mike Jones, and Hawthorne being healthy, Fitzgerald and Desmond being healthier than he was Week One, that helps. Brandin’s still trying to get himself back. Cam, we’ve talked about, he’s an outside linebacker. Kenny’s done a pretty good job. I would say we’re okay. We’re not the deepest group anywhere, to be honest with you.”
Lots o’ guys playing at the WILL position during the last two games. How much of that is just rotating them, and how much is just trying to find a clear starter or two? “Some of that depends on what defense you’re in. If you’re in a nickel or dime package, who’s out on the field, or if you’re in our base package. So with what Western Michigan wanted to do, it was more of a nickel/dime kind of setup [with their four-wide formations]. But [with Eastern Michigan] rushing the ball for 331 yards a game out of two base personnel groups, you’ll be a little more with your base defense.”
Does it help having stability in the middle with Kenny Demens? “I always think it does. You have a guy who has experience, you have a guy who’s pretty sharp when it comes to making the calls, setting the front, and adjusting at that level, so yeah. Kenny does a good job, and J.B. does a good job when he’s in.”
Will you consider playing your freshman RBs? “Maybe.” What will that depend on? “It will always depend on how fast they learn, maturity-wise, and all those things.” Have they caught up a little more? “I think they’re okay. Depending on where we get, they may play.”
What have you seen from them? “I think Rawls is a strong runner, he’s got good vision and pretty good balance. He’s got a pretty good burst. Justice is a guy who’s got great quickness. Catches the ball well. He’s doing a lot of things for us now on our look teams, sometimes lining up as a wideout, just because of numbers, and he’s matured.”
You’re not Kirk Ferentz, so you’re probably not going to take a knee on third down just to kick a field goal, but how important is it to get a couple attempts in the next couple games to get to the meat of the schedule? “I don’t know if it’s as important as we all may think. I think we’re kicking everyday. [Gibbons] is going up to the stadium everyday. He’s shown good consistency. We’ve come at him everyday. We put pressure on him, and I think right now he’s hitting the ball pretty well.”
Is that still one of those things where you don’t really know how well he kicks until you get into a game situation? “It’s like anything else in life. I don’t know what’s going to happen ten minutes from now. I don’t worry about that.”
It looked like Wile was taking a few practice kicks during the Notre Dame game when it looked like the FG attempt would be longer. Is Wile still handling long field goals? “I would say him or Paulowski. Either one of those two guys. They to have a little bit of a stronger leg.”
How were the players mentally yesterday? “They were pretty good that way. I think your Tuesday, no matter what -- because of a couple wrinkles here or there, and they are students also -- they come in here and they have to focus on this part of it now, and some do a better job than others.”
Any scholarships for walk-ons? “Bum. Bum bum. Bum. Um … I don’t think so. I think we’ve renewed some that were given a year ago.” No one new? “No.”
Any redshirting decisions? “You know, not really. We’re not going to be afraid to play freshmen, obviously. The best player's going to play. They’re still learning to some degree, but from the fundamentals standpoints, if they’re the best, they’ll play.”
How do you get more out of your return game? “Gotta block better. The punt return that Gallon had the other night was huge, when you look at field position, but on the kickoffs, we have to do a better job of picking guys up. I think our vision was okay back there as far as the return part of it. We just have to be more consistent staying on guys longer.”
Is Countess putting himself in a position to contribute? “I think so. I think he will.”