I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Picture Pages on a bye week? Sure. I generally take more snapshots than I can reasonably cram into one week of posting what with all the other whatnot that goes on in this space, so this is a perfect spot for some reheated leftovers.
Yesterday I tagged Whoever at WLB as one of the main trouble spots on the defense; last week I criticized the linebackers for a particular Edwin Baker run that popped big despite Michigan seemingly having it covered. I caught some criticism myself for not being harsh enough with Mike Martin on that particular play that I'm still not sure about.
In any case, I pick the individual plays after the game (or season) has developed enough for me to identify a trend, and I grabbed that specifically because of the WTF behavior of the linebackers. Here's a play from earlier in the season that got in my thought processes and may have compelled me to pull that baby out of the bathwater. Metaphors not guaranteed.
It's late against Eastern. The starters are still mostly in; the Eagles have been driving a bit. It's first and ten. They'll run a power play to the strong side of their formation*. Michigan is in their usual under.
*[People have told me this is a "Down G", not a Power O, because the guard blocks down—I see what you did there—and it's actually a frontside tackle pulling, along with the center.]
USUAL UNDER IS USUAL
Ryan to bottom of screen, Frank Clark to top.
The key guy to watch is Hawthorne, who is the topmost of the MLBs.
On the snap everything happens!
By this I mean three things.
- the center pulls
- the frontside tackle pulls
- Michigan slants away from the play
You can see the entire line headed inside away from the playside. Brink, Ryan, Martin: all are oblivious to the idea of containment. This is fine.
wsg Slanty, the football-playing, jean-vested gecko who is inexplicably the first hit in Google images for "line slant football."
Why do it? To get a free hitter. Your slant should make life difficult for anything run to its side. The downblocks are key in the power. They're the easy bit for the offense. If one gets beat your play is going to not work very well. In all likelihood your pullers are going to take defensive linemen in the backfield, leaving linebackers free to run up and smash face.
If the opponent runs away from your slant it should be okay because the linebackers know there's a slant on and can chase playside as soon as the offense gives any indication there is a playside. This gets the backside tackle/guard/whoever—the guy assigned to the WLB—blocking air. The WLB gets to scrape down the line to tackle.
This gets the backside tackle… guard… whoever…
…awww, come on, Hawthorne.
In the wider view you can see huge numbers of players on the backside:
Cutback == doom. Hawthorne has no responsibility but to get down the line to the POA. Note the difference in the disposition of the linebackers. Demens is hauling for the frontside; Hawthorne is in full block-catching mode.
Now, Michigan's D can bottle this up without needing a WLB if Ryan gets a two for one on these pullers. He's the guy currently inside of #68. The other puller is running right by him. He's already given up the bounce because of the slant; if he gets into the other blocker Demens has a free run.
Ryan doesn't. He gets knocked to the inside and pancaked, which erases backside help. The other puller gets out on Demens:
Demens has maintained outside leverage, forcing it back to his help, which is three yards downfield and getting farther away.
First down on a basic power run.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Hesitation is a killer here and it does not seem explicable. Hawthorne does not quite know what he's doing yet, especially earlier in the season. The hesitation gets a little more explicable when you look at the previous play, when one Brandin Hawthorne got burned on a counter:
Even so, with the line slanting in front of him he should know to take off playside at any hint of a pull or any hint of a guy releasing to block him. Slanting should make LB decision processes easy.
This play is one of the archetypical examples of why the WLB is hard to block and can get away with being a slight fast guy… so don't get blocked.
This is especially bad for a player like Hawthorne. Hawthorne looks like Leo Messi out there. He has a hard time getting off blocks and has basically no chance if he's not thundering at whoever is coming out to block him. At least in that situation his momentum can pop the guy back and he can come off to tackle. He's done if he pulls the [REDACTED] Memorial Block Catching Dance.
Ryan missed an opportunity to MAKE PLAYS. The other thing a slant like this can do is take the playside DE/LB and make two guys block him. You see Ryan dive inside the first puller. This means the RB is going to bounce, which means Ryan's basically done. Also done is Ryan's blocker.
Ryan has one way to impact the play left: try to pick off that other puller, leaving Demens unimpeded on the edge. Here he takes the block and appears to try to fight back outside, which ends with him in a heap. This isn't the worst thing in the world but great defenses that swarm these kinds of plays with two guys get both the 2-for-1 and the WLB in the hole.
This is one of the reasons I'm looking owlishly at the WLB whenever something goes wrong. Picture Pages are attempts to thematically summarize trends I see as I'm UFRing, so when I pull a play to illustrate something it is a complaint/credit I've seen quite a bit of. That may mean I focus on the linebackers on a particular play that may or may not be Mike Martin's fault for not shedding his guy and tackling for loss.
Google images can be weird sometimes.
1. How does the shift back to the 4-3 under fit the personnel?
left: stack no blitzy. right: 4-3, though an even 4-3, not the under
Better than the 3-3-5-type-substance but it's not going to be a huge difference. Fits:
- BETTER: Roh (LB/DE to WDE), Demens (MLB to MLB with guys in front of him)
- SAME: RVB(DE to SDE/DT), Martin (NT to NT), Heininger (DE to SDE), Gordon (spur to SLB), Jones (WLB to WLB), Gordon (FS to FS), cornerbacks
- WORSE: Kovacs (bandit to SS)
Craig Roh and Jibreel Black were men without a position last year. Though Roh actually help up pretty well when he moved to the DL late, he was still miscast as a DE in a three-man line. Black just got crushed. This year both will be playing weakside DE, where they can get after one tackle.
Kenny Demens will be shielded by two senior defensive tackles, allowing him to flow to the ball like he did against Iowa. Michigan set of small, quick WLBs is better suited for the 4-3 since it will be harder for opponents to get a hat on them.
The major negative is not finding a way to keep the two safeties near the LOS. Both are effective blitzers who are a little dodgy in a deep half.
2. How big is the coaching upgrade? Will the transition hurt more than it?
The Mathlete's numbers suggest a coaching change is a drag on the improvement of very bad defenses worth about eight spots. It seems flabbergasting that that could be the case for this specific situation, however. dnak438 found a GERG effect of approximately negative 30(!) spots. While you should take that with a grain of salt because the sample size there is extremely small, each grain adds to a pile threatening to eclipse the Schwarzschild radius. Going from Greg Robinson not running a system he knows to Greg Mattison teaching exactly what he's taught for a zillion years has to be a positive even in the short term.
What causes that drag? Probably a system change. How long has Michigan been running its current system? Six games. They've probably got more experience running the under than the 3-3-5.
Then there are the position coaches: Adam Braithwaite was a grad assistant promoted to LB coach without the usual stops at East Nowhere State. Tony Gibson was reputed to be mostly a recruiter. Bruce Tall seemed pretty good but in his place Michigan has Hoke, Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery. That's an upgrade across the board.
3. Why is everybody so suicidal when the personnel doesn't look entirely doomy?
doug karsch interviewing popular perception about the defense. via firstbase
Slap me for saying this but the starting lineup isn't that scary save for two spots: SDE, where walk-ons Will Heininger and Nathan Brink are backed up by Nobody At All, and WLB, where four cats are fighting in a sack. You know what they say about WLBs: if you've got four you don't have any.
The rest of the line is Martin, Van Bergen, and Roh. Demens is promising at linebacker and they've got a couple of good options at SAM. And the secondary isn't awesome but Avery/Woolfolk/Kovacs/Gordon looks like it could be below average, which will seem like heaven. This year's edition of "Are You Experienced?" sees Michigan move towards average. There's still a gap, but it's narrowing. The Decimated Defense series also sees its Michigan number creep towards sane.
So why is everyone, including myself, afraid of going 7-5 this year with just about everyone back everywhere?
Well, there's depth. Once you get past those starters its scary. There are three backups I wouldn't wince upon seeing enter on the field: Black, Jake Ryan, and Carvin Johnson. I guess Brink fits in there as well but only because he'd be spotting another walk-on. Everyone else on the line has been beaten out by Brink and Heininger, I have little faith in JT Floyd, and even if Marell Evans was injured at Hampton he's done little in four years of football. When injuries happen the dropoff will be severe. It won't even take injuries for the defensive line to wane in effectiveness. Modern football rotates the DL. Michigan has a choice between tired starters and ineffective backups.
Even so I still can't work up the same sense of bowel-crippling panic I had last year when I believed the secondary would tread "horrible, polluted, razor-blade-filled, despair-laden water." Let's poke around at
PROJECTED FRESHMAN CONTRIBUTORS
2010: Black, Gordon, Gordon, Johnson, Avery, Talbott
2011: Maybe Ash
2010: 4-3 under, 3-4, 3-3-5
2011: 4-3 under
RADICAL MIDSEASON SWITCH TO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SYSTEM
2010: Third year running
2011: Hell no
2010: Rubbing a stuffed beaver in your face
2011: Navy SEAL tridents
Michigan wasn't just rocking an underclass two-deep, they were rocking a freshman-heavy two deep. This could work out! For a given definition of work out!
4. What is with Will Campbell? Isn't the situation at SDE just horrible?
Man, I don't know about Campbell. Maybe his center of gravity is just too high. Maybe he'll never learn technique in the same way Mike Cox can't remember to run into the hole.
The situation at SDE is caused by whatever it is with Will Campbell and will not be encouraging. Heininger was already a non-entity in the passing game and that was 28 pounds ago. And who the hell knows about Brink? I'm guessing Mattison is just trying to get that spot to hold up against double teams in the run game and will rely on Roh/Martin/Van Bergen to get the pass rush. If they can do that it's a win.
Can they do that? Why do I ask myself unanswerable questions?
Michigan will be much, much better this year. How much better depends on:
- The health of key, irreplaceable pieces. These are Martin, Demens, Van Bergen, and the starting corners.
- The improvement of last year's freshmen. Avery, both Gordons, and Black all have the potential to leap forward Darius Morris style.
- Nathan Brink. If Michigan's unearthed something here that not only makes SDE acceptable it means the guys he beat out are potentially serviceable.
- Craig Roh. He could be anything from Tim Jamison to James Hall.
The first bit is unknowable but I can hazard guesses on the latter three: two of the four freshmen above will be startlingly good. Two will be meh. I'm guessing Thomas Gordon and Avery are the former. Brink will not be as bad as everyone feared but that SDE spot is going to be averaging +2 for the season, which is bad. Roh will be in the 75th percentile of his range, a fringe All Big Ten guy.
When I wrote that the D should improve but "not enough" I didn't account for a GERG/RR effect that is real. They'll be better than 82nd in advanced metrics this year by a long shot.
Now, behold the greater-thans and less-thans!
- senior Mike Martin with ankles > Mike Martin
- junior Craig Roh playing his actual position >>> linebacker Craig Roh
- junior Demens >> sophomore Demens/Ezeh
- sophomore Cam Gordon > freshman Gordon/Gordon/Johnson
- Woolfolk >>> Rogers
- sophomore Avery >> freshman Avery/Floyd
- T. Gordon/Johnson >> Gordon/Vinopal
- senior RVB == junior RVB
- Kovacs == Kovacs
- Heininger/Brink == Banks
- Jones/Hawthorne/Herron/Morgan << Mouton
It's going to take two years to dig out of this hole completely but I think the defense will rebound more effectively than stats and conventional wisdom suggest.
Last Year's Stupid Predictions
Fumbles recovered double to ten.
Michigan recovered seven.
The secondary is actually better than last year's secondary because long touchdowns are less frequent. It will still be very bad.
First sentence: false. Second: true.
Mouton is much better, leads the team in TFLs and sacks, and is still incredibly frustrating.
Very accurate. Mouton led the team in tackles (117), was in a three-way tie for TFLs (8.5, Kovacs and RVB tied) and had two sacks. RVB (4) and Banks (3) beat him but not by much in a pathetic year for sacks.
Mike Martin is great and should get first-team Big Ten recognition, though he probably won't.
This might have actually transpired if he hadn't gotten laid up with high ankle sprains. Before he was chopped down against MSU he was playing very, very well.
Mark Moundros holds on to the starting MLB job all season.
Michigan manages a modest improvement in yards allowed, getting up to the 60-70 range nationally.
Not so much: Michigan dipped to 110th.
More accurate than anyone thought possible.
This Year's Stupid Predictions
- Courtney Avery busts out. Going into next year people are talking about him as an All Big Ten performer.
- Kenny Demens leads the team in tackles with Northwestern-MLB-type numbers.
- Brink is a legitimate player, better than Greg Banks was last year. The biggest source of pain on the defense is the WLB.
- Craig Roh leads the team in sacks with eight.
- Sacks almost double from 1.4 per game to 2.4. That would be a move from 98th to around 30th.
- Turnovers forced go from 19 to 27.
- Michigan noses just above average in yardage allowed. Advanced metrics have them about 50th.
- EVERYTHING SEEMS WONDERFUL
JoePa as Rivers Cuomo.
Apparently JoePa is a closet hipster. I knew it all along! Just look at his shirt in the golf cart at practice. Couple that with the short pants, white socks, thick-rimmed glasses...hipster all the way. Thoughts?
Paterno vs Hipster: FIGHT
Emailer: flawless victory.
A manball transition theory.
After reading your posts on Denard and the shotgun, I began thinking about what might be an appropriate Way Forward for Hoke, Borges, Denard and U-M fandom.
I agree with most everyone that last year's spread-and-shred offense was very good despite having a first-year QB starter, turnover issues and the lack of a consistently dependable RB in the backfield. However we all know that was last season, and the new coaching staff isn't going that same route. I think a three-year transition from spread to West Coast offense is what Borges needs to consider. It could go something like this:
2011: passing spread, a la Missouri with Chase Daniels or the Michigan-Florida Cap One Bowl game in 2007. Plenty of shotgun, still plenty of Denard dilithium. The distribution of running/passing plays goes from 60/40 last year to something approaching 50/50. Borges gets the benefit of the short passing game that he desires, takes advantage of a very skilled WR group and the learning curve for the whole offense is a lot less steep.
I'm not sure anything featuring Denard Robinson at quarterback can ever be described as a "passing spread," but it stands to reason that as he develops he'll throw more. In any case I'm less concerned with the development of the passing game than what happens on the ground. While what Denard ran last year was effective in the structure of the offense—how many times did he have nowhere to go?—I got the impression it wasn't very sophisticated. They kept updating it. That's fine as far as it goes. I'm guessing Borges's system is more robust.
The ground game is more of a concern. It was pretty good a year ago and with everyone save Schilling and Webb back it should be better this year. It seems doubtful they'll be able to take that incremental move forward if they're changing their bread and butter.
2012: West Coast/spread hybrid, a la last season's Philadelphia Eagles with Michael Vick at QB. A senior Denard should be able to handle most anything thrown his way by this time, and hopefully a consistent threat at RB emerges. Meanwhile, Devin Gardner is getting ready for the spotlight because the transition is nearly complete.
Where are they going to get the personnel? With Barnett out they've got very little at TE/FB. They'll be choosing between Moore/Miller/Kerridge and a third or fourth WR. It's hard to see two of those three on the field for big chunks of the game when the WR options beyond Stonum and Roundtree will be veteran and decent: Gallon, Jerald Robinson, and Dileo will all be juniors—you can split Hayes out as well. The WRs have been getting talked up while no tight end save Koger is mentioned.
Unless Moore and Miller come on big time, Michigan will be all but locked into three-wide sets in 2012.
2013: full-blown West Coast offense. Devin should be ready to take the reins of a team that might resemble last season's San Diego State offense, or U-M teams from the early 2000s.
This seems like the first year they could plausibly run most of their offense from under center. Gardner's big enough to be comfortable in the pocket, they'll have some sophomore tight ends at their disposal, etc.
Maybe this is something that Hoke and Borges are considering and for their sake I hope so. This seems plausible to me but I'm no coach. What do you think?
I don't know yet. We'll have a much better idea when we see this year's offense. If it's as spread-like as Dinardo keeps saying and it performs well it's hard to see them moving away from it for Denard's senior year.
If I had to guess I'd say they are installing a pro-style passing tree right now and will use the parts of it they can with Denard and a bunch of short receivers. By next year that will be almost totally installed. We won't see a drastic shift in the run game until 2013, when the entire interior line ages out and is replaced by Hoke-recruited beef machines. That will be the dawning of the age of Manball.
Someone asks about technique.
I apologize in advance for not already knowing this, but my time on the football field was limited to middle school. I hear Hoke…
Excerpt from interview on Scout.com: "Ryan has been playing the three, Mike Martin has been playing the shade, the one and then a combination of guys, Will can play both the three and the five and the three and the one. Will Heininger can play all three and has.
…talk all the time about the different places our D-linemen can play, but what is the difference between all the different Techniques?
Techniques are addressed in the incomplete but not totally useless UFR FAQ. Here's a recap/primer for people who haven't been around for one of the previous explanations. First, the explanatory image:
Your question addresses the leftmost DE, the NT, and the DT. Bullet time:
- THE FIVE TECH: The leftmost—strongside—DE lines up shaded outside of the strongside tackle. He's a defensive end but he's half DT, too: he often has to take on double teams as teams try to hook him and get outside. When doubled on the line he's usually trying to fend off a TE as the second guy so his task is not quite as difficult as the NT in this regard, but when the offense goes to a spread look he's got a lot more pass rush responsibility. The ideal guy here is someone like Brandon Graham, equally capable of ripping through that double or annihilating the tackle if left alone on pass protection.
- THE ONE TECH: This is the nose tackle. He is supposed to be enormous and immobile. If he's not you can still get a lot of production out of the spot if the guy can split doubles. Martin is the latter variety. "Shade" is a synonym for one-tech/NT—shade means he's not directly lined up over an opponent but he's not halfway between two. In the diagram above the NT is shaded left of the center.
- THE THREE TECH: This is the DT on the weakside. Because of the alignment of the defense he usually gets a one-on-one matchup with the weakside guard. He's got to win that battle for the defense to be effective. Usually this is the smaller, quicker DT, but the best ones are huge and quick. If we had a nose tackle Mike Martin would murder folks here. Being able to go one on one with the G is how Warren Sapp was so much of a factor in the backfield.
The oft-mentioned Theory Of The 4-3 Under states that the five tech and three tech are somewhat interchangeable. Both need to be tough run defenders with a secondary focus on pass rush. They're big hulking plus-sized DEs or somewhat smaller DTs; sitting and anchoring against doubles is less important than getting penetration by beating your opponent. The strongside DE is usually a more important run defender because he's vulnerable to a lot more double teams.
Are we still better than State at basketball?
Michigan swept Michigan State last year. (awesome)
Compared with last year, how does Michigan match up with Michigan State this year? More favorably, worse, or about the same? I know it is way early, but considering player losses, incoming players, and current player development.
That depends on how much value you place on Darius Morris and how well you think Trey Burke can replace him.
In terms of players, minutes, and usage lost Michigan has an advantage. Michigan lost only Morris, who was on the court 86% of the time and used 29% of possessions when he was out there. Michigan State lost:
- Kalin Lucas (83% minutes, 27% possessions)
- Durrell Summers (73%, 21%)
- Garrick Sherman (30%, 14%)
- Mike Kebler (24%, 9%)
At first blush that's encouraging, but losing low-efficiency usage is not a big deal. Morris combined massive usage with a high ORtg (109); all of the players State lost save Lucas had turrible numbers. The departures are a push at best. State's only going to miss one of the absent. Both teams replace their offense's main engine. Michigan's engine was significantly better.
Year-to-year improvement should be advantage Michigan. As we've discussed over and over again, last year M was one of the youngest teams in the country. Michigan State was about 70th percentile. Juniors like Draymond Green and Delvon Roe are not likely to get a ton better; freshmen like Tim Hardaway Jr., Evan Smotrycz, and Jordan Morgan are. State has a couple wildcards in Keith Appling and Adriean Payne. Michigan has the above three plus the ever-expanding Jon Horford.
State's best argument is their recruiting class, which includes five star Branden Dawson. Depending on the service you prefer, Michigan can match the rest of the class with Brundidge, Burke, and Bielfeldt. Not Dawson. He's kind of a big deal.
I'd guess Michigan is narrowly better next year unless State gets an extra quantum leap from one of their young guys. Burke and Dawson's adjustments to college will be the biggest factor.
UPDATE: I totally forgot MSU's addition of Valpo grad-year transfer Brandon Wood, an All-Horizon first team player who might swing the advantage to MSU. /shakes fist at grad transfer rule
Prepare the little girl screams. Tom broke OH OL Kyle Kalis's upcoming Michigan visit, then Kalis decommitted from Ohio State, and now guys who work for OSU's 247 affiliate (specifically Dave Biddle) are writing off not only Kalis but still-committed OH RB Bri'onte Dunn:
Source: OSU has "no chance" at Dunn or Kalis
Wow. This coming from the family member of an OSU player. These guys aren't just decommitting, they have written off going to OSU. Remember, there are current and former OSU players who went to the same high school as Kalis and Dunn respectively. Word going around at both St. Eds and GlenOak are that the Buckeyes have "no chance" at landing either of them.
What a complete 180 for Kalis. I'm not surprised in the least about Dunn. When I interviewed him two months ago and he said he was "opening things back up" that told me he was basically decommitting. But Kalis was Mr. Buckeye talking about how much he loved OSU and that he was going to recruit like crazy to get other top prospects to join him in Columbus. He reminded me of Brewster and Justin Zwick in that respect.
"Wow" doesn't quite cover it unless it's the sort of wow that goes along with a fondness for hot dogs. Flipping Dunn and Kalis would see Michigan graduate from drinking MSU's milkshake to drinking OSU's. It's gotten so bad for the Buckeyes that the Spartans are drinking OSU's milkshake, nabbing Se'Von Pittman. If Aldophus Washington commits to Purdue next week put the entire state of Ohio on suicide watch.
What are Michigan's chances of flipping the decommit(-ish) duo? Well, Kalis's visit in particular seems to coincide with last weekend's OL visit madness—if he is going to jump ship he's got to do it quickly and it appears Michigan is pretty much his list outside of OSU, about whom see above. Dunn is wobblier since he hasn't actually committed yet and Penn State is a factor, but if the above is reliable Michigan would have to be the favorites.
Later Biddle says Brady Hoke is "negatively recruiting the hell out of OSU," which causes the requisite amount of swooning from the daintier folks in the thread. Specifically:
He's telling these guys that OSU will get hit harder than USC and they "shouldn't fall for the same (stuff) Lane Kiffen sold all those SC recruits."
Heavens to Betsy.
NFL not so much. The National Football Post has a really interesting, extensive piece in which Michigan's seniors are evaluated for NFL potential. No one other than Mike Martin rates highly, but some of that is because of Michigan's zone system. David Molk:
A shorter, compact lineman who looks nearly maxed out physically, despite weighing 288-pounds. Looks a little tight hipped trying to sit into his stance, but has a quick first step and snaps and steps very quickly. Creates leverage for himself consistently, extends his arms and can easily reach and seal on the plays off his frame. Displays a compact, sturdy punch and can stun defenders at the point. Looks really natural when asked to quickly reach block on runs to the perimeter, as he’s coordinated getting his feet around and can seal the edge routinely. Displays natural range/balance getting into blocks at the second level as well. Breakdowns well showcases the ability to routinely seal on contact.
This is three years of UFR on Molk in one paragraph. Molk is praised as a "perfect fit" for Michigan's run-first spread offense but only a potential starter in a zone scheme. If he's big enough he could end up one of those guys who gets drafted in the seventh round and plays for a long time for a good team whilst remaining totally anonymous.
Whole piece is worth a read; it's really interesting to see a professional break down Michigan players after you've formed your own opinions of them. Nothing seems particularly off base.
Hybrid until you die. I've tried to make the case that the 4-3 under is halfway between a conventional 4-3 and 3-4. My basis for the assertion usually revolves around the idea the strongside defensive end and three-tech defensive tackle are more alike than the three-tech and the nose tackle or the SDE and the weakside end. Here's a bit more ammo for that POV from an interview on Touch The Banner with Matt Godin:
"We have the main position which I'm going to play, which is the 5-technique. I guess you'd consider it more D-tackle, but I'll also play outside...I'm only going to have one guy blocking me. It's more of an outside position, actually, but I'm going to be run stopping a lot, too."
The confusion in that statement is considerable, but when he says "outside" he probably means he's going to get a look at WDE. I'm guessing that look will be brief since he's already 270 and with Roh/Beyer/Black/Ojemudia/Brown hanging out at that spot he's probably not going to bring as much pass rush as the winner of that derby.
So when you're looking at the recruiting class you can roughly bin the three-tech DTs with the SDEs; many of those guys will flip from one to the other like Ryan Van Bergen and Brandon Graham before them. If Michigan's two committed SDEs, Godin and Tom Strobel, are really 6'6" each they're a bit taller than you'd like at the three tech, which should leave a spot open for a Danny O'Brien who's more of a fit there, but rumor has it that's not the case. Like everyone else on the internet I'd much rather have a DT than a fullback or a sixth OL, but the internet does not call the shots.
This institution is mad under control, yo. The 65-page Notice of Allegations lodged against UNC yesterday contains many, many allegations headlined by one of their assistant coaches acting as a runner for an NFL agent. It does not allege the dreaded lack of institutional control, which should have Trojan fans running to Los Angeles Torch & Pitchfork.
Stewart Mandel notes this and suggests Butch Davis could keep his job as a result:
Blake's nefarious role in all this (which includes his own unethical conduct charge for withholding information from investigators) is the biggest source of mystery as to how his boss, Davis, managed to avoid the NCAA's wrath. In a document outlining its Principles of Institutional Control, one of the acts the Committee cites as "likely to demonstrate lack of institutional control" is if "A head coach ... fails to monitor the activities of assistant coaches regarding compliance." But it then follows that up with: " ... the head coach cannot be charged with the secretive activities of an assistant bent on violating NCAA rules." Apparently the school did a bang-up job portraying Blake as just such a character, absolving Davis and the school for failing to uncover his secret employer.
Because of that, North Carolina may have staved off the most severe imaginable penalties, but you have to imagine they're still going to be pretty rough. Maybe it's a one-year postseason ban instead of two. Maybe it's 10 docked scholarships instead of 20. Either way, three years' worth of wins are about to be vacated.
The biggest question: Will Davis keep his job? That one will be entirely up to the school.
I'm baffled. I'm not sure how you can possibly suggest anything was under control at UNC. I'm also in favor of removing that bit on not charging the head coach for secretive activities of his assistants. Here the canard about how you can't follow 100 college-age kids around is even more ridiculous: Butch Davis has nine assistant coaches. He should be expected to know whether one of them is working for Gary Wichard.
Mandel's just speculating when he says the UNC case will cause a smaller ripple than those of OSU and USC. I think he's likely to be wrong about OSU if only because we've already got a meaty notice of allegations in the UNC case and until that document hits for OSU we've got no idea what the NCAA will decide is impermissible in Columbus. But if he's right it's going to be a blow to this whole We're Serious Now, You Guys, Seriously campaign Mark Emmert is running. The document the NCAA produced on UNC should be enough for a firebombing.
Meanwhile, Oregon has managed to dig up some more stuff they got from Will Lyles: four spreadsheets with erratically reliable information about 2012 and 2013 recruits sent in February and March of this year, more than ten months after Oregon wrote him a check. The NCAA can't possibly buy what Oregon's selling, can they?
The next year is when the NCAA decides whether implausible deniability is a proper defense. Here's hoping the answer is
Reverse Righthaven. Rivals' Tom Dienhart sat down with Rich Rodriguez for an interview. It's the same boilerplate you'd find in any interview with a guy who'd like a head coaching job in the near future save for this small bit on Pryor:
Are you surprised by what is going on at Ohio State?
"I know some of it because we were close to the situation when I was at Michigan and part of the rivalry, the recruitment of Terrelle Pryor and all of that."
It's about 1500 words. The Detroit News took 750 of them as an "excerpt" for an article in the paper without so much as linking the original piece or writing anything around it. The News just up and took half of a published article and republished it. The only explanation is there's some sort of content sharing agreement, but since Scout's Sam Webb writes for the news and Rivals' Josh Helmholdt for the Free Press, that doesn't seem likely. The News is so internet hood, yo.
The best part is that when I C&Ped the News article into Live Writer to get a word count it automatically inserted a "read more" link to the News. False.
I summarized my take on the mascot situation in one tweet: The Michigan mascot in my head wears fierce armor made from pieces of the stadium halo, and the ’93 Final Four banner as a cape.
Make that happen and I’ll sign on. Someone sketch that out for me and I owe you a beer.
Lonnie White got paid at USC back in the 80s. Also, The Daily (not that Daily) figured out this ASCII thing.
Grantland commissions Brian Phillips to write on Roger Federer, a great example of the site picking the cream of blogging-type people and not just the Klostermans of the world. Only problem is the obvious one when writing a footnote-laced article about Federer: you have giant posthumous looming competition.
Internet: frighteningly comprehensive. Don't ask about Rule 54 here.
Update on a deceased fellow. I made some offhanded reference to Horace Prettyman, how ridiculous a name that was, and how it was obviously a few guys on the football team having a laugh a couple days ago, but a reader points out one Horace Greely Prettyman has his own extensively researched wikipedia article detailing a life full of accomplishments. Specifically, he scored the first-ever touchdown in Ann Arbor:
In 1883, Michigan resumed a schedule of intercollegiate football, and Prettyman played "forward" for the team. The team played its first ever home game at the Ann Arbor Fairgrounds in March 1883, a 40-5 win over the Detroit Independents. Prettyman scored the first touchdown at the Fairgrounds at the 14-minute mark of the "first inning" and went on to score a second touchdown before the end of the inning.
The team played its remaining games as part of an Eastern trip in November 1883. The trip consisted of four road games in eight days at Wesleyan and Yale in Connecticut, Harvard in Massachusetts, and Stevens Institute in Hoboken, New Jersey.
The trip cost $3,000 and was arranged "to both represent and advertise the college among the Eastern cities and universities."Prettyman was placed in charge of the trip, and The Michigan Argonaut praised his management: "All the boys are most hearty in their commendation of Prettyman's excellent management of the financial interests of the trip and his success is seen by the fact that every expense of the trip has been paid to the last cent."
If Prettyman hadn't died in 1945 there's a good chance he would have tracked me down—he was the local postmaster for a long time—and strangled me.
And as long as we're looking up very old photographs of football players, here's Yost with a killer mustache in 1896:
Mustache Wednesday? Come on, baby.
Er, well then. Yesterday's post on Full Cost Of Attendance—apparently this year's conference expansion— made a large assumption: the change would be localizable to certain athletes. Adam Rittenberg says this is wrong:
If the proposal is adopted at the NCAA level (more on this later), it would affect every athlete on a full scholarship. A women's soccer goalie would have the same scholarship structure as a quarterback. "What we're talking about is not limited to football and men's basketball," Hawley said. The proposal wouldn't impact athletes on partial scholarships.
Or is it? The only "headcount" sports—no dividing scholarships—are basketball, football, women's tennis, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball. Schools that don't wish to put the world on FCOA could just offer partial scholarships in sports that aren't the above.
But that still increases the burden of FCOA considerably, especially at football schools that almost universally feature volleyball for Title IX purposes. Jim Delany Machiavelli Rating: incremented.
Happening? Happening. Mike Slive is on board with this, by the way. SEC + Big Ten equals probably happening.
Good advice for anyone. Nate Silver is an interesting guy, and here's a speech he gave to a bunch of prospective journalists about what they should do in This Environment. The Big Lead contrasts this with Rick Reilly's "don't write for free" speech. The former is useful, the latter clueless.
This is good advice for anyone:
Learn how to make an argument. This is something that came naturally
to me as a former high school debater. One of the things that distinguishes (quote unquote) "new journalism" from some of its more traditional forms is that the reader is really going to be looking for analysis, meaning, context, argument. Unless you come across some really fresh and proprietary information ‐‐ it's great to get a scoop, but it won't happen very often ‐‐ it's not enough just to present the information verbatim.
One of the flaws of political journalism, in fact, is that a lot of what amounts to spin is given authority by being reported at face value.
Instead, the reader is going to be asking you to develop a hypothesis, weigh the evidence, and come to some conclusion about it ‐‐ it's really very much analogous to the scientific method. Good journalism has always done this ‐‐ but now it needs to be done more explicitly.
If you don't know how to make an argument you spend a large amount of time putting together statistics on how many college athletes get arrested only to find yourself widely ridiculed for not even bothering to provide context. In the past you could just say something and the worst that would happen would be a nasty letter to the editor from a crotchety old guy; now your arguments have to be bulletproof (or at least, you know, try a little) lest you get eviscerated.
Silver also suggests journalists learn what to do with numbers, which is something I harp on consistently.
APR bite. While football APR penalties have generally been restricted to the San Jose States of the world, small squad sizes and NBA departures have made the APR an actual toothy thing in college basketball. A couple years ago Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State all got hit in the offseason. This year UConn feels the wrath:
The national champion Connecticut men's basketball program will lose two scholarships for the upcoming season as a result of a poor Academic Performance Rating from the NCAA. …
The rating puts the basketball program's four-year rating at 893, below the NCAA minimum score of 925. The score for the 2009-10 academic year is 826.
The NCAA's real minimum is 900 but it's interesting that UConn is failing where Kentucky is apparently succeeding. I wonder what they're doing differently in Lexington. The Huskies won't be getting off the mat any time soon, either: their score from last year is 844. Barring a miracle their APR is going to be under 900 for the next few years.
The full report is supposed to come out today; I'll get Michigan's scores up ASAP but probably not as quickly as the guy with the fastest trigger finger on the message board.
What's this oh those are my multiple defense hives welcome back hives I hate you I hate you I hate you aaaah. You may have noticed that Michigan has recruited a lot of linebackers. Farmington Hill Harrison's Mario Ojemudia, a high school defensive tackle who people are projecting as a WDE, wasn't supposed to be one of them but showed up at the recently completed Columbus Nike camp looking like a linebacker, and not one of those linebackers you can turn into a WDE. This may be the cause for another round of "are we moving to a 3-4" last featured in a mailbag here; this time it's a post at Maize N Brew detailing the various teams that moved to the 3-4 and how they mostly got a bunch better.
I don't think this is happening. As I mentioned in that mailbag post, moving to a 3-4 does not reduce your linebacker overage because a well-stocked spot—WDE—becomes a linebacker spot filled by—surprise—those WDEs. I think Mattison has explicitly stated he will run a 4-3 under at Michigan and only a 4-3 under even if I can't find the quote right now, and GOOD LORD LET'S JUST DO ONE THING FAIRLY WELL BEFORE WE START CHANGING AGAIN AAAAAAH—
Etc.: Yost Built profiles new defenseman Mike Chiasson, who does mean no Burlon next year. Unusually for Michigan, Chiasson is 20 now and will be one of those 24-year old seniors popular amongst teams that don't have a lot of NHL draft picks on their rosters. Chad Langlais was the most recent example at Michigan and that worked out well.
Roh: forever hybrid. Woolfolk: forever Woorfork
Is there any possibility we see Troy Woolfolk playing free safety this season? In 2009, it seemed to me that our most effective defensive games were the ones where Woolfolk was playing deep safety (which we called strong that season I believe). While JT Floyd is by no means good, I imagine that as an upperclassmen with some games started, he has a better shot of being effective or at least not terrible playing cornerback than Carvin Johnson or someone similar has at being effective or not terrible at free safety.
Do you agree with my premise? Is there any possibility of this happening?
If Woolfolk had been healthy enough to go through spring practice I could see him moving to safety, as the coaches would have had the time reconfigure their defense to account for that. Since they won't have a fully healthy Woolfolk until fall I'm not sure they have that luxury. He hasn't played the position since about the halfway point of the 2009 season. He'll be rusty either way; moving him only increases the risk a good chunk of his final year will be subpar due to his long layoff.
Anyway, the situation at corner isn't much better than safety. Courtney Avery will be decent but the guy starting next to him in the spring game was a walk-on. I'm not sure how much getting Floyd back is going to help. Last year he seemed worse than both Avery and Talbott and his recruiting profile doesn't exactly scream "this guy is going to get a lot better."
If you're moving Woolfolk the guy starting opposite Avery is either Floyd, a freshman, a walk-on, or a guy who seemingly got beat out by a walk-on this spring. That seems like a worse person to put in the starting lineup than Carvin Johnson, and Woolfolk will probably play better at the position he's more familiar with.
Further adventures in getting all these linebackers on the field.
Could Michigan enhance situational packages in the future running a 3-4 on occasion? Having four really talented linebackers may be too much not to use even though its not like Mattison to do so.
Dios mio, let's just do one thing for a while. Once people are complaining that our defense is too predictable we can start thinking about wacky packages.
Even in a hypothetical future where being predictably good or better is Michigan's biggest problem, when Michigan stems to 3-4 it won't get more linebackers on the field. The thing about the 4-3 under is that it's kind of halfway between a 4-3 and a 3-4. Relative to a straight-up 4-3 SAM linebacker and weakside defensive end are heavier and lighter, respectively, and both usually play on or near the LOS outside of the tackles.
This makes them a lot like mismatched 3-4 OLBs*. The reason Michigan kept calling their WDE a "rush linebacker" through the 90s and most of the 00s is that they used to be a 3-4. If Michigan changed to a 3-4 tomorrow Roh would be a starting OLB. Pulling him off the field in favor of a linebacker is actually making Michigan's fit with that defense worse. What's more, in the event Michigan does start running 3-4 fronts they'll use it as a change from their base defense. They'd like to show it as late as possible so the offense is confused. Flipping Roh/Beyer out for a linebacker tips their hand.
That attempt to find a spot for more than three of Michigan's thirteen linebackers next year is as valiant as "this guy can play position X" but no more likely to smooth out what looks like a roster imbalance. But, again, if the only thing we have to complain about is roster imbalance…
*[The way the defense plays differently is on the line, where opportunities to MAKE PLAYS fall almost exclusively to the linebackers; in the 4-3 under there's more opportunity for those guys to get into the backfield.]
Further adventures in anticipating problems.
Does Michigan recruit any offensive guys any more are we headed to the polar opposite of Rodriguez?
Seems like a ton of postings on the defense, I am wondering how much offensive recruiting success we are having.
This is just like complaints about Rodriguez not recruiting any defensive guys lodged in August of two years ago. That class ended up having more defensive players than offensive ones. Looking back on it the problem with it wasn't too many offensive players it was too few offensive linemen. And that people started bolting from it the instant it was signed. And the lack of a true nose tackle. And the inability to retain a quarterback with a Cone-like last name.
- QB: seemed to be in the lead for Zeke Pike until his Auburn visit and is pursuing all manner of pro-style QB in the Midwest; will get one, then will load up the charm wagon for instater Shane Morris in 2013.
- RB: Plenty of numbers; eight will be on the roster this fall with only Michael Shaw a senior. Will probably swing for the fences this year, taking only a high-profile guy. OSU commit Brionte Dunn will be on campus tomorrow
- WR: Obviously no need for slots; outside is an issue. No one seems particularly likely to commit but Aaron Burbridge buzz now has him in play.
- TE: Set unless there's still mutual interest for Ron Thompson.
- OL: No need for centers. Two guards already in the class and Michigan is considered the leader for highly-touted IL OT Jordan Diamond. Should add another two tackles, but with OL it often pays to wait and see who the Lewans and Omamehs are.
My only concern is at WR. Michigan can afford another Bellomy type this year if they're confident in Morris and while a blue-chip back would be great Michigan has plenty of guys there, including double-Jackson approved Thomas Rawls. At WR the four guys entering year two seem to be largely disappointing and there isn't much else on the roster that isn't short. Being concerned about one or two WRs nine months out from signing day is a manageable issue.
Further adventures in Denard's awesomeness.
Brian -- my friend works for a Charter school in NYC. the students were all assigned to write to someone they consider a leader. not all of the leaders responded to the kids, but #16 did.
check out the attached: a nice break from our passing game concerns ... and also, at long last, a story about Leaders that doesn't involve Legends
Thank you for your letter and for asking me about how to be a leader. First of all, you need to believe in yourself and never just follow people. Always do what you think is right no matter what anyone else does or thinks.
Don’t forget to ask people for help and thank those who help you. Don’t be afraid to work hard, follow directions, and follow your dreams!
Good Luck and Go Blue!