TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
2014 appalachian state
FORMATION NOTES: Not a whole lot that was unusual. Michigan has changed the alignment of their backs in some shotgun sets:
I called this "shotgun deep" since the QB is still at 5 yards but the back is behind instead of parallel. I imagine they did this for the same reason the pistol exists: to give the back downhill momentum when he takes a handoff.
Conventional shotgun sets were frequent as well, as were split TEs. This is the first snap of the game and features Hill motioning from an H-back spot to the slot; he'll block for Funchess on a successful flanker screen.
Michigan would occasionally scrape up an I-Form out of whatever was laying around, like when Chesson motioned in here. This actually cut behind Chesson's force block to pick up 15.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL was Cole-Magnuson-Miller-Burzynski/Kalis-Braden the whole way. Gardner obviously QB until garbage time; he got pulled a couple drives before Michigan did much non-WR substitution.
Feature backs were Green and Smith with Hayes apparently a third down option; Drake Johnson only saw garbage carries and should no longer be considered a playing time contender going forward.
At WR it was Funchess, Chesson, Darboh, and Norfleet rotating approximately equally; Canteen did not get on until late. Bo Dever is your backup slot, apparently. Tight end was mostly Hill and Williams with a bit less Heitzman sprinkled in.
[After THE JUMP: all things discussed.]
FORMATION NOTES: They promised it all offseason and they delivered on it:
In your face bro. Note that this was an example of something I started calling "30 slide"*, as the linemen are basically head up on the tackles and center with Frank Clark as a sort of standup end/SAM.
*[The idea being this is a 30 front (three linemen head up on tackles and the center like a 3-4) with three linebackers slid as if they are in an under.]
Another example is even clearer:
Note that in both of these shots, the three-tech is in fact to the bottom of the screen instead of between Clark and the nose as you might expect. I had not seen this before, because Michigan doesn't run it and they weren't spread enough last year for anyone to do it against them but since Appalachian State also ran it…
this was in fact their base D probably
…and they are right in the heart of spread on spread warfare I figure it is the latest fad when you need to account for the QB in the run game. I'll get Adam to ask Mattison about it next week—unfortunately, they moved the coordinator pressers up a day so I was not educated on anything before that time came. I'll try to accelerate my UFRing process, something that is now feasible with fast downloads and the lack of TWIS on my plate.
They also of course ran a lot of standard nickel:
Michigan also debuted a weird 3-3-5-ish package with Frank Clark at "MLB":
This happened twice. On both plays Clark was running at the frontside guard on the snap, impacted him, blew him back, forced a cutback, and then no one was there. More on that later.
Michigan also played some bonafide dime snaps:
These had three DL, two linebackers, and six DBs. Generally it was Delonte Holowell getting the extra nickel snaps but that's more in the…
PERSONNEL NOTES: Deep breath. On the line it was Beyer-Henry-Glasgow-Clark to start with copious substitution. Your nominal second string based on playing time was Charlton-Wormley-???-Ojemudia, with the NT ??? a combination of Pipkins, Mone, and Hurst. Pipkins looked by far the best of those guys; I expect that NT rotation to quickly settle down into Glasgow and Pip alternating with scattered snaps elsewhere. Godin got some real PT early at 3-tech.
At linebacker, Ryan, Bolden, and Morgan seemed to get about equivalent PT. Ross got a number of snaps as the game went along as an ILB. IIRC, Jenkins-Stone only saw snaps as a nickel DE late. Gedeon and McCray got in for the last drive.
Michigan played nickel on I think literally every snap they weren't playing dime. That was Peppers spotted by Hollowell and then Hollowell after Peppers got dinged. Taylor and Countess got starters' minutes at outside CB with Lewis coming in frequently; Stribling did not see time until heavy substitution began in the third quarter. Richardson got in there too.
Starting safeties were Wilson and Clark; Thomas got quite a lot of PT starting in the second quarter, with walk-on AJ Pearson seeing the field on ASU's interminable second scoring drive.
And hamburgers: I thought I was done calling people CGordon and TGordon and just realized we have two Clarks. I tried to clarify who was who below; I imagine you can figure it out if I missed a couple.
[After the JUMP: a big table! and some other stuff.]
Ryan under the microscope [Eric Upchurch]
Hello. As per usual, a game against a tomato can causes me to dig up something negative because I figure that the bad things that happen against weak teams are more likely to recur than the good ones. I'm not being negative, I'm being useful!
After this opening paragraph it may not surprise you that I didn't think Ryan had a particularly good game as Michigan's MLB. There were a couple of opportunities to contrast him with Desmond Morgan on similar plays that didn't come out well for Ryan. To the stillmobile!
Taking on blockers
App State had one drive of any consequence before Michigan started throwing third stringers on the field. That was a 75-yard march on which they ran an old Rodriguez staple, the "belly," repeatedly for good yardage.
Belly is designed to attack the soft underbelly of the backside of a defense facing inside zone. The end gets optioned off and then the goal of the defense is to use the backside DT's natural desire to shoot the gap to the playside against him. This usually sees the backside tackle get a free release on a linebacker on a quick-hitting play. (A quick google search indicates that this is Rodriguez-exclusive terminology, so your local guru's verbiage will vary.)
This was tough for Michigan to defend as aligned because the backside DT saw zone action and went GRRAAAH at it, driving himself way out of the play because he's Willie Henry and he is 1) strong and 2) not yet super disciplined. This put linebackers in bad spots, facing free OL while trying to shut down a ton of space.
Here's Morgan in that situation:
It feels like Michigan is a little misaligned here, with the linebacker shaded to one side against a formation that has no TE.
On the snap Beyer is let go and must respect the keep, so he flows upfield. Henry will get his own momentum used against him and get way out of the play, which I have designated by putting a frown at the end of his line. Morgan has an OT coming at him and a problem.
Beyer plays the mesh point well, inducing a give but forming up near the LOS so he can respond to a handoff. Henry is about to leave.
Here is the the key thing for Morgan on this play: he takes the contact. He in fact initiates the contact despite not having much forward momentum (which it is hard to get on a quick hitting play like belly). He impacts the OL and rocks him back:
Note that the guy next to him is Henry, who is trying to fight back to the play by giving ground. Also note that if Henry was anywhere near where the line would like him to be, Beyer is tackling as people wall up.
The back actually bounces off the OL…
And then a bunch of guys tackle him after six yards.
This is not a good result and I think Morgan's original alignment had something to do with that. He ends up taking the block to the inside instead of square and that gives the back room to the outside when otherwise this could have been a third down coming up. But: tough job in a lot of space. I gave him a half point for slowing down what could otherwise have been bad.
[After the JUMP: Jake Ryan tries his hand.]
Funchess, Gardner, Taylor
This one’s for Devin and Devin. That first half you came out and really made a statement. What was going through your mind? Especially, Devin, with that back of the endzone catch. What was one your minds in that first half?
Funchess: “The preparation and practice. We prepared from the later parts of camp and then the week before the game so it was just preparation and practice. We were just doing it just like we practiced. Pitch and catch, and that’s what you saw on Saturday.
Gardner: “We were just in really good sync and you could see the work we put in through the-
/Devin Funchess is told his mic isn’t on.
Funchess: “You mean I’ve got to repeat what I said? I told you it wasn’t on. I tried to check it.”
/laughter. The picture above is taken.
Gardner: “As I was saying, I feel like our preparation throughout camp, like you said. I feel like we were in really good sync and that’s pretty much it. Just focus on what we had to do one each play. Not look forward or look back.”
Raymon, Brady told us you played probably the best football game that you played. That’s pretty high praise because you know how coaches are, they don’t every want to come out and say that. Talk about your performance in that game and also look forward to Notre Dame and what your greatest concern is.
Taylor: “I’ve been working a lot on technique through fall camp. Just keep coming to work and keep working hard technique-wise. He said I did great technique[-wise]. They didn’t throw too much but my technique was great. For Notre Dame I just want to come out and compete and just keep working and just get the job done.
What about Everett Golson? What kind of problems does he create because he’s one of those quarterbacks like Devin who can beat you with the run?
RT: “He’s fast. He can get out of the pocket and sling the ball up. He can make plays and beat you deep if you get off your man so he’s an explosive player.”
After watching film, Ray, what was the best part of the defensive performance on Saturday?
RT: “The defensive backs pressing a lot. They said we were a defense that played off a lot so we came up to press. The technique was great on Saturday, but that was last week. We’re looking forward to Notre Dame week.”
This is for any of the players. When you look at the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry what stands out about it for you and what does the rivalry going on hiatus take away from college football, or does it take anything away from college football?
DG: “I feel like it’s a great rivalry. You don’t really have to talk abut what kind of rivalry it is, everybody knows. The type of impact it has on college football and they type of implications it has around the country in the past so, yeah, that’s pretty much it.”
[After THE JUMP: Devin Gardner says the thing you probably saw on Twitter but should still read in context]
As per usual with first UV of season, some of this is a bit dated because of preview week.
I HAVE HEARD THE PEOPLE. I acknowledge that the people demand I eat a lemon. I will eat a lemon, because I guess I'd rather be the guy who eats a lemon on a technicality than doesn't eat a lemon on a technicality. I request that you, the people, acknowledge that my call that Desmond Morgan would be pushed out of Michigan's starting lineup appears to be a good call after he was probably Michigan's best LB in game one and led the team in tackles despite not technically starting. I plead nolo contendre to this lemon, basically.
We'll do it this Sunday at the podcast taping as part of this kid's quest to awarenessize people about weird food allergies that people don't understand at all yet, something Ace has been dealing with for years.
A new challenger appears! Elliot Mealer's Hoke impression is solid gold:
I dream that we will get enough of these to have a Hoke Impression Bracket someday.
Also gold. The Gameday Mean Tweets segment may have been shamelessly lifted from Jimmy Fallon, but lift away, sirs:
[EDIT: apparently this is an autoplaying video, so no embed. Here is the link.
I formally request you steal the thing where Ron Swanson reads tweets from young female celebrities next.
The ND cheating thing: resolved? Well, first: the investigation's tentacles reached out and added safety Eilar Hardy to the Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell, Davaris Daniels, Ishaq Williams quartet. Message boards are naturally buzzing with rumors ranging from they're all done for the year to they're all back by Michigan. As of three days ago the investigation was "reportedly complete"—that's when Hardy got suspended.
Everyone involved here was supposed to be out the door when it happened. FWIW, I had a good source suggesting that was the case as well. I didn't mention it because when Bruce Feldman is reporting something piping up with a "me too" is some Darren Rovell business, but now that there's doubt about the final outcome here it seems pertinent.
If there are reinstatements that impact the Michigan game they're going to have to come quickly, what with most of these guys missing nearly a month of practice. As of today's ND presser there was no update. Could you insert these guys on one or two days of practice? (Friday is a walkthrough.) Getting late.
One guy who is out. Austin Collinsworth did something to a knee ligament, missed the Rice game, and is projected to miss the Michigan game. As of three days ago he was out two to four weeks and getting some of that horse placenta action:
“There's a chance we could have him for week three,” Kelly said. “He had a PRP [platelet-rich plasma] treatment on the weekend, so we'll see what happens."
Rice is a spread, so ND was in a nickel package most of that game. They brought in Elijah Shumate next to sophomore Max Redfield; Mattias Farley played nickel the whole way. Shumate busted on the Rice touchdown. Shumate was a touted recruit, as you might expect.
One guy who doesn't read MGoBlog. That would be Scott Satterfield, the Appalachian State coach:
“This game was not what (Michigan) had shown all last year,” said Mountaineers coach Scott Satterfield. “Why they did that, I don’t know. … It was all game. Even the last drive, they were playing man.”
They did that because they had been doing it all offseason. I don't think it's unreasonable for you to read, like, one article about Michigan's defense this year.
Oh that makes more sense then. After Wisconsin finished gacking the game away to LSU, Badger head coach Gary Andersen said he "didn't know" why Melvin F-ing Gordon got three carries after a 63-yard romp in the second quarter. It turns out there is a reason for this other than Andersen being hypnotized by Les Miles's scary voodoo eyes:
Badgers coach Gary Andersen said on Monday that his junior running back suffered a hip flexor strain during the game. Gordon later told reporters that the injury occurred late in the second quarter. …
"I should have let them know, let Coach A know and stepped up and told them, 'Look I need to be in there," Gordon said, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin's Jesse Temple. "I put that on myself."
So that makes a little more sense. Also making more sense: Joel Stave's arm injury has caused Wisconsin to shut him down. He was not available to relieve the overwhelmed Tanner McEvoy. Cold comfort to Wisconsin fans today, though. Jamiemac has a breakdown of the game—Warren Herring going out was a huge problem.
At least the game spawned an LSUfreek all-timer?
Here's a breakdown of the Beilein offense. No doubt you will see this again as Ace goes over it in detail for you after his high school football responsibilities have been completed, but here's 15 minutes of John Beilein's offense categorized by play type:
Wildcats continue dropping like flies. Northwestern DT Sean McEvilly, he of the most disappointing name pronunciation in the league, is out for the year with a foot injury. This is a problem. You no doubt remember Michigan's offensive line looking functional against the Wildcats last year. Now take a starter off that line.
Also in personnel issues affecting distant games, Maryland loses receiver Levern Jacbos and some other guy. They are still set on receivers thank you.
McGary clarification. Many folks picked up on part of the McGary VICE interview in which he seems to say "so what, I committed a literally victimless non-crime" about his draconian NCAA suspension. This is a hot take even if it is a correct hot take. But he's really talking about people annoying him on social media:
"I still get people on Twitter and Instagram still commenting on stuff, saying, oh, you did drugs. Well, you know what, I did, whatever. So what? I learned from it. It was in college. They'll understand when they're in college."
He does say what he did was "the opposite of harming somebody" and "just don't get caught," which is a take hot enough for me.
More Pastujov hype. This one is for the older brother Nick.
Michigan commit Nick Pastujov plays a perfect mix of aggression and skill. Difference maker when breaking down the play, soft hands.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) August 24, 2014
Solar car! Michigan wins again yo.
Blind recommendation. This just went up so I haven't had a chance to read it but Smart Football on the MSU defense is going to be worth your time.
Another nail in the already quite-nailed coffin. Patrick Omameh is probably going to be Tampa Bay's starting right guard this fall. So Michigan had a line with three NFL players on it in 2012 and Denard Robinson and couldn't run the ball except with Denard Robinson.
I can link this now. Jane and Ace talked about their experience of the Horror on EDSBS.
The second half is a haze of Michigan pushing their way back in miserably slow fashion. I spent much of it staring at the clock. I had no idea how many emotions were building until… Mike Hart gave Michigan a one-point lead with a remarkable, weaving touchdown run from around midfield with under five minutes left. One of my roommates, standing next to me, literally wept with a mixture of joy and relief.
(Jane: I had left the stadium by then. I couldn’t do it. I saw where this was going, and I strongly believed that if I went home and went to sleep, I would wake up and this would all be a horrific dream. As a small child, I used to have nightmares that a raptor dressed as a postal worker ate me while my parents stood and watched. I have significant experience in bad dreams. I watched the rest of the game on ESPN’s Gamecast.)
This is literally the only thing I have read about the 2007 game despite the entire universe breaking their longform budget to provide opportunities for me to do so.
Do you think you may be getting ahead of yourself, sir. AP:
Michigan power running game looks like glory days
Have we learned nothing from last year's "IT LOOKS LIKE ALABAMA!" quote from Gerry DiNardo?
One sign this may not be a very clued-in article: the repeated use of fictional house divided child "De'Veon Bell." Not that I wouldn't take De'Veon Bell on my team. That would be like trying to tackle a centaur.
Etc.: Saturday game replay. All explanations of why the Appalachian State rematch was scheduled have far too few fantasies about scorpion pits for my taste. Will Leitch on being a part of the studio audience. Scouting Christian Hackenberg. Nussmeier gets an 11: nuts and gum.
Want an amateur NPSL soccer team in town? Here's an indiegogo for it.
Videos now working.
Megatron—the Decepticon, not the Detroit Lion—is definitely the most interesting robot in the Transformer pantheon. Classic Megatron had the most clearly defined mission—pillage Earth's energy resources to power Cybertron—of any imaginary bad guy leader, but still possessed all the classic bad guy traits: narcissism, obsession with power, mistrust.
That last gave the character a rich irony, since in order to provide his greatest contribution in a fight, Megatron had to transform into a weapon wielded by someone else—usually that was Starscream, Megatron's primary rival for power. Nobody seemed to mind the physics of a transformer equal in size to Optimus Prime—a truck cab—transforming into a handheld blaster.
The thing Carr said when he gave Braylon the number is it's going to make you a target—the defense will always be accounting for #1. But there's no point in having such a powerful bad guy if you don't give him plenty of his own screen time. Somehow, Nussmeier managed to get Funchess open all over the field this week, and I wanted to know how.
Catch 1: Quick WR Screen
How to read these diagrams: Black lines are blocks, blue are routes, red denotes the hot read (as best as I could tell) and dotted lines are pre-snap motion. Click for bigger.
Michigan has just spent an offseason talking about how they're going to be an inside zone team. So Nussmeier chooses the best possible debut: a totally spread "quick screen" to the guy in #1, with an extra block courtesy of putting the U-back, Khalid Hill, in motion. Hill goes flat to kick out whoever appears, Norfleet starts downfield then latches on to the guy over him creating space for Funchess to get the ball and turn downfield.
Why it worked: Like Megatron, Funchess may be big but he's also got the acceleration and wiggle of a much smaller guy, and the screen gets those qualities in space against small defensive backs. Because he's a such a downfield threat the defense has to give him that space at the snap (even MSU did that last year). To stop this the defense needed to react super-fast and/or beat a block.
Such a quick pass also saved the OL from having to make long or difficult blocks, so there was no need to have a perfect protection scheme—the backside routes were both outlets in case the CB on Funchess was jumping the route or something.
How it helps the offense: This play punishes App State's space linebacker (#88 in the videos, denoted as WLB in the diagrams for simplicity's sake) for coming down into the box, something opponents did a ton of to us last year. That guy is responsible for the edge if the offense is running to his side, so forcing him to book it outside on the first play really messes with how that guy can react to things the rest of the day.
Downsides? This is highly coordinated play that had to have taken a lot of practice time to execute. That practice time was only worth it because it directly punishes the defense for playing sound against the rest of the offense.
[The other seven, after the jump]