Understand decades of on and off mediocrity because no one is that dead guy
"Understand Michigan." Desmond Howard was busy blowing this up on the teevee a coupe days ago but that doesn't stop everyone in the world from writing columns about how the new guy "must understand the Michigan way" or "came to Michigan three years ago as a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt in an athletic department of blue blazers." Or the university must "regain its identity."
All of this gives me hives. We have learned that someone who naively enters and expects everyone to be nice, as Rodriguez did, is in for a rough time. All things being equal, Michigan should go with a Tresselian non-speaker who regards the media as cancer and bores everyone to death.
This is different than chasing some sort of mystical "Michigan way" that needs to be recaptured. The guys with a connection to the Michigan way before that meant always losing to Ohio State with occasional fun Horrors thrown in are either Jim Harbaugh (not coming) or Les Miles (plain slimy*). The Michigan way is dead, literally and figuratively, and Michigan needs a new way. They seem poised to repeat the mistakes Alabama did as they fruitlessly tried to replace Bear Bryant, ("Mike Shula has a vague connection to Bear! That's the ticket!") except in this case the most OMG BO hire would be awesome but isn't interested.
If Harbaugh isn't coming, just go outside again instead of shoehorning a guy into a spot he doesn't deserve and putting him behind the eight ball from the start.
*[Protests about this will fall on deaf ears. LSU just got hit with much more important NCAA violations than Michigan did. Miles cut a kid who had been on campus for months, offering a "greyshirt" he had never discussed with him. And he 1) cut a quarterback with a form letter, 2) refused to speak to that quarterback about the form letter, and 3) baldly lied about the kid at SEC media days. He's a media firestorm waiting to happen and he might bring Gary Crowton and he might make my head explode by letting the clock run out in the fourth quarter and he's reaching the age when coaches decline precipitously. Hoke is vastly preferable.
LSU fans currently making snarky posts about how awesome he is will be coating him in batter and thrusting him into a deep fryer at the first sign of weakness.]
Meanwhile, exiting… Brock Mealer on Rodriguez:
"He's just always been (portrayed) as a villain, and he's nothing like that," Mealer said. "He's one of the greatest guys I have ever met in my life, and I wish people would just acknowledge that. As little as I know about football, I know his character is much different than people played it out to be."
Someone punch Jeff DeFran in the throat, thanks. It didn't work out and there's plenty of blame to go around but Rodriguez was probably damaged more by Michigan than vice-versa. Is there any coach in recent history who's been fired and still has fans hoping he succeeds wherever he goes next as the media gleefully jumps up and down on his grave? Multiple people who were at the Brandon presser described the mood as "celebratory," or words to that effect.
As of yesterday, no Patterson contact. At least not according to Dennis Dodd:
Gary Patterson had not been contacted by Michigan for its opening as of Wednesday night according to a source close to the TCU coach.
Patterson, fresh off a 13-0 season and Rose Bowl win, is thought to be a candidate for the job left open after the firing of Rich Rodriguez by AD Dave Brandon. Brandon said earlier Wednesday he expects to move quickly to fill the vacancy but arguably the hottest coach in the country had not gotten a call 12 hours after Rodriguez had been let go.
Suboptimal. Or lies, I guess.
Speaking of oversigning castoffs. Michigan doesn't have a coach but the Blade is reporting that a Mike Marrow wants to transfer in. Marrow was a three-star fullback who redshirted at Alabama and then moved closer to home to "deal with the deaths of three grandparents" but could not get eligible at Eastern Michigan and now is looking for a new home. Marrow's two years removed from playing time and has a skillset duplicated by Stephen Hopkins on a team with plenty of RB depth and desperate need on defense—the chance he actually ends up at Michigan will depend on how shattered this recruiting class is on Signing Day. So welcome Mike Marrow, everybody.
Hoke in, Denard out? Hoke on the Oregon offense, which I will remind you is the OREGON OFFENSE and is playing essentially the Oregon offense in the national championship game:
When asked recently about the influence of Oregon’s offense, Hoke subtly revealed his disdain for the tactical shift Michigan experienced under Rodriguez. He is convinced that modern spread option offenses can be counterproductive to the core values of smashmouth football and are, therefore, to be avoided.
“Right, wrong or indifferent, when you’re zone blocking all the time -- when you’re playing basketball on grass -- you practice against that all spring, you practice against it all fall and then you’re going to play a two-back team that wants to knock you off the football,” Hoke said. “I don’t think you’re prepared.
“I think there’s a toughness level (required in college football). I still believe you win with defense. That’s been beaten into my head a long time, but I really believe that. The toughness of your team has to be the offensive front and your defensive front.”
(Oddly, that article is by Tim Sullivan. Not that Tim Sullivan.)
If you're eager to get Michigan started on a painful transition away from the offense they just painfully transitioned to, Hoke's your man. If he's hired we'll get some soundbites about flexibility but they'll be about as convincing as Tommy Tuberville's strained "hhhhyyyarrrrr" upon his hiring at Texas Tech. If there are coaches out there comfortable with the spread offense that's proven itself kind of good across college football they'd be preferable to a guy who professes disdain for "basketball on grass" and doesn't have the track record to suggest he's anything more than average at the other stuff.
And he's not even right. Three of the top four yardage defenses in the country play opposite offense that are pretty much basketball on grass: TCU, Boise State, and West Virginia. It's a bit different if you look at FEI but something like half of the top ten plays opposite a full-on spread: WVU, Missouri, Virginia Tech and Auburn are spreads and Clemson, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Nebraska use a fair number of spread concepts.
I'm not sure you were paying attention. Who's surprised Rodriguez is fired? No one except his players:
"Definitely I'm surprised," said Gordon. "I have a lot of love for Coach Rod. He's the guy who brought me here. He's a guy I definitely respected and I loved him as a coach."When asked what his future plans are, Gordon replied, "I'm here. I came to school for Michigan."Said Gordon: "Yes it is surprising, but it is what it is. You've just got to move on."
This explains something about or secondary.
The batphone rings. ALERT THE MEDIA
I followed Mr. Robinson for one day, which started at 7 a.m. with treatment for his swollen knee, followed by weightlifting, classes, an interview with ESPN Radio, more treatment, meetings, practice, a third round of treatment, dinner and study table. When he walked out of the academic center at 10 p.m., two adults who had been waiting all night for him in the parking lot approached him to sign a dozen glossy photos. I went home exhausted—and I hadn't done anything more than take notes.
FETCH THE DEEP FRYER
(Also that's a John U Bacon story on what went on inside the program that will become an undoubtedly fascinating book.)
Etc.: Penn State denies Bolden a release because Paterno doesn't have enough quarterbacks without him. This will end well. How Gary Patterson's undersized defense shut down Wisconsin. Yes please. Ever notice how it's always Carr's old players talking crap about Rodriguez publicly as the Bo guys remain mum? Nevermind! Of course Lynn Henning thinks Hoke is a great idea. John Niyo says let's wait for a new coach announcement before we hand Brandon over to LSU fans to be battered and fried.
One topic that was brought up during your WTKA segment today regarding special teams was, "what happened to the kickoff return game?' You never addressed it during the segment, so I thought I would throw this at you.
I haven't done my Mgoresearch, but wasn't there a rule change regarding kickoff return team blocking? IIRC, the NCAA has limited the number of return team players allowed in a blocking wedge or wall.
I would have to look up video from previous seasons, but I believe U of M utilized a 3 man wall in front of the returners with Kevin Grady and others.
David is correct: the NCAA banned wedge blocking this offseason, which at least partially explains how an effective kick return game has disintegrated. If Michigan was really good at the wedge and now it's gone they're starting over. That doesn't explain why they're really bad, but does get you to average.
That lack of effectiveness and Darryl Stonum's increased importance to the offense make his removal from kick returns less annoying than it was earlier in the year. With Odoms out there's not much depth on the outside and Stonum wasn't getting any returns; it's possible that one-cut-and-go type stuff is less effective and kick returners should be shiftier guys closer to punt returners.
What do you think of Devin Gardner's expected plea for a medical redshirt? It's suspicious he's only played 1/3rd of the season and is eligible for the redshirt. If this is RichRod bending redshirt rules for an extra year of eligibility from Devin, isn't this a bad thing, like Saban's redshirts? We're not gaming the system for more scholarships, but we are gaming it for a competitive advantage, right?
The difference is that I'm sure Devin Gardner is 100% on board with getting a fifth year of eligibility. The Alabama players "encouraged" to take a medical scholarship would like to keep playing football and are being presented with an involuntary choice: transfer or medical, take your pick. I'm not too concerned about skating the edges of NCAA rules when it doesn't have a negative impact on the student-athlete the entire enterprise is supposed to support.
The timing is convenient but unless Michigan has an inordinate number of medical redshirts per year I'm not sure the NCAA would even bat an eye at a documented injury. Like, say, this:
That looks like exploitation. Michigan's pattern probably isn't that blatant, so what can you do when they say he was hurt?
Finally, concerns about looking bad to the NCAA are overblown. The worst thing that can possibly happen is the NCAA says no.
The future of defense. Many questions answered piecemeal:
One of the potential "benefits" of having so much youth on defense is that they could potentially lock down their positions for years. If that happens in any cases, can you explain whether there is any positional flexibility with this 3-3-5 alignment we're using?
Could Carvin move to FS?
Doubtful. His strengths and weaknesses make him an excellent fit for the spot he's at right now and not so much of an excellent fit at FS, where speed and raw athleticism are more important. Not that our current FS has those in buckets, but moving Johnson doesn't really solve that issue.
How is Marvin going to see the field if he's behind Kovacs? (who expected us to say something like that?)
Possibly by trying out free safety? This is the weird thing called "depth."
Could Furman or Hawthorne see the field anywhere?
Hawthorne is the third team spur behind two guys younger than him. The most likely career outcome there is special teams only. Furman is likely to move to OLB, where he'll need another year or two of seasoning before breaking through. Remember he was super raw out of HS.
Would Roh move to a true DE in this scheme or stay in this hybrid LB situation?
He's already a DE (mostly) against conventional teams. Michigan is a 4-3 or 3-4 base against conventional pro-style sets and Roh puts his hand down more often than not. So the question is really "will Roh play DE against spread teams next year?" That depends on how Jibreel Black, JB Fitzgerald, Brandon Herron, and other OLB/DEs (Wilkins, Paskorz, Furman) develop. I think the ideal situation sees Roh add another 10-15 pounds over the offseason to hit 265—he's listed at 6'5"—and becoming a full-time DE. Before Herron went down Michigan was using him as a 3-3-5 DE to good effect against Notre Dame, and we've all seen him struggle in space against Indiana.
Roh will probably remain a hybrid against pro-style teams, playing clunky LB when Michigan drops into the 3-3-5.
Could Cam Gordon move down to another spot?
If you can find a suitable replacement at free safety, but who's that? Kovacs? No. Floyd? Really bad tackler. Vinopal's made a lot of hay out of one play against Bowling Green but remains a true freshman as well. Ideally he'd move down to spur or bandit (or even OLB) but unless Michigan snags someone ready to start at FS from day one it's hard to see him relocate.
That's why the recruit I'd most like to get in February is JUCO safety Byron Moore, who qualified out of high school and transferred away from USC after a redshirt season to get playing time and scout out a new destination not being cratered by NCAA sanctions. As a big time recruit two years removed from high school with a year of PT under his belt, Moore is the closest thing to a quick fix at FS Michigan will ever have.
But wait, there's Woolfolk, right? Well a bit more on him later.
How do you see the open positions being filled in 2011 on defense to see if there's hope? I assume Jones and Demens will be the LB (backed up by Ryan, Bell, and any freshmen)
Yes, though Jones might field a challenge from parts unknown. It's hard to see anyone displacing Demens if only because there almost literally isn't anyone behind him on the depth chart at the moment.
I assume Black will be the DE (backed up by Heninger and the RS-Freshmen)
Yes, unless they go with Roh there—Black will find plenty of PT platooning—and Herron/Fitzgerald at the other OLB spot. With the lack of depth at DT that might be a way to spot Martin with RVB from time to time, as well.
Does Woolfolk automatically go back to corner or deep safety? I assume corner, but with the time Avery and Talbott are getting could he be better served protecting the deep ball?
Up in the air, something that will be decided based on the potential acquisition of Moore, Gordon's play the rest of the season, and how things work out in spring. Right now I'd say corner since Michigan plays a ton of cover three and none of the freshmen looks like they should be starting next year. Even if one of them develops quickly you'd like to have some depth at corner for nickel and dime packages.
And then there's this:
I liken the "Angry M hating God" to Yukon Cornelius and Hermey Scrivello from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
For instance, the M defense is the Bumble, ready to devour talking reindeer and #1 wide receivers accross the land. Then Yukon and Hermey show up unexpectedly and ruin everything. They rip out your teeth (Woolfolk) and force you to do stupid shit like hang Christmas ornaments or run only zone because you have lost the only thing that instilled fear in your opponent.
Our defense is the Bumble without teeth. Right now our pass defense is being shoved off a cliff every week until we grow new teeth or we realize we have claws to gouge the eyes of our opponent. I'm just sayin'.
I have nothing to add.
Wait just a second. Yesterday it looked like Bolden would play this weekend, but today JoePa says he probably won't:
He was tested for concussion symptoms Sunday, Paterno said, and "still had some memory problems." He is scheduled for further testing Wednesday.
"If I had to make a guess, I’d guess he’s not gonna make it," Paterno said. "But that does not mean that I know what I’m talking about."
I did not add that last bit in for the lulz, Paterno really said it. Or the Centre Daily Times put in for the luz. One of the two. Without Bolden Penn State reverts to their summer depth chart:
In this case it appears that starting Sheridan is the right move. McGloin is walk-on Forcier; Newsome is slow Justin Feagin. If Bolden does not play, the Penn State game goes to 100% must win for Rodriguez. Also my sanity.
Law those suits up yo. This is the best lawsuit against the NCAA ever:
A class-action lawsuit was filed against the NCAA in an effort to change the policy that places a one-year limit on athletic scholarships and subjects them to an annual review.
The plaintiff hails from an unlikely place for a pissed-off cut player to come from: Rice. Joseph Agnew was a defensive back who claims his scholarship was "cancelled" but he was allowed to maintain it one more year after appealing.
His suit challenges not only the one-year limit on scholarship commitments but the whole 85-scholarship cap. I'm wildly in favor of changing the former and allowing NCAA programs to offer 2, 3, and 4-year commitments that only the player can voluntarily terminate. Putting the level of a school's commitment in writing would go a long way towards preventing Saban-like overstocking; what remained would at least be explicit and less surprising. I'm less enthused about getting rid of scholarship caps but wouldn't mind too much since the end result would be more money headed towards players instead of coaches.
This is the NCAA's goofy defense of itself:
"However, it should be noted that the award of athletic scholarships on a one-year, renewable basis is the more typical approach taken within higher education for talent-based and academic scholarships in general."
While this may be true, no one's running around prohibiting people from offering longer commitments.
Speaking of Alabama. This guy has nothing to do with anything and would have been in TWIS if the MZone had run across him yesterday but they did not:
Sometimes the combination of cheap video cameras, college football, and youtube is… well… it's something.
Burke workin'. 2011 PG commit Trey Burke is playing well enough to get hype on the internet:
Burke continues to deliver and proves to be not just the best guard in Central Ohio, but the best player. He impacts every game in a significant manner, but in most cases, he impacts every possession. Burke knocked down big shots, scored driving to the basket, and even rebounded the ball very well from his guard spot. It seems like every event or game we cover of Burke’s the Michigan commit knocks down a big shot.
Those guys even "coin Burke as 'Baby Big Shot'," which verb noun object.
Missing on Dom Pointer leaves a nasty hole in that class but the two guys Beilein locked down seem well above the standard set by his first class. If there's some hope on the court this fall Michigan should be on a steady upward trajectory the next few years. Which is kind of a crappy spot to be in going into year four but there it is.
The shirt. Tim put this up in the press conference recaps, but to re-iterate:
"He's doing well. His back has been a little sore, so he's been a little limited." RR couldn't answer whether he'll try to earn a medical redshirt this season, and be a redshirt freshman next year.
I will answer this: Gardner will try to get a medical redshirt like whoah. The rule is 30% of the season rounded up, which is four games in football; Gardner did not play after the BGSU game. This is simultaneously tragic and wonderful, since 2014 should feature redshirt senior Devin Gardner instead of anyone else. The Year of Incessant Pleas/Complaints About Devin Gardner's Redshirt is now mercifully over, NCAA permitting.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Miller is probably laid up with a back injury or tendinitis or flying monkey syndrome since he inexplicably appeared on kickoff coverage against UMass and hasn't seen the light of day since. I assume Michigan will ask for a medical redshirt for him as well.
Let’s start with a piped-in, pre-play musical montage of AC/DC, Moby, and various Euro-trash Trans music that was combination of minor league hockey meets random Greg Davis play-calling. Marching bands are college football, leave that two turn table and a microphone bulls-- to glowstick infected raves and HenryJames wedding receptions.
…to the inexorable march of time and disintegration of all things, but mostly college football programs. That last link tries to figure out whether Mack Brown is John Cooper or Jim Tressel and settles on "both."
U-M to Open 2012 Season vs. Alabama at Cowboys Stadium
DALLAS, Texas -- The University of Michigan football team will face the University Alabama in the 2012 College Football Kick-off Event at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 1, 2012. The game will be televised nationally in primetime.
“This is a great way to kickoff the 2012 season with two of the nation’s winningest college football programs,” said Athletic Director Dave Brandon. “We are excited about playing a regular season game in the state of Texas, a region of the country where we have traditionally recruited. Our goal is to get as many Michigan fans to the game as possible to witness this match-up of traditional powers.”
The Wolverines will be the away team with the Crimson Tide designated the home team. The game officials will be a crew from the Big 12 Conference. This will be the fourth time that Michigan faces Alabama in school history, and the first contest played during the regular season by the two programs.
All three previous games between the Wolverines and Crimson Tide were played in bowl games. Michigan defeated Alabama by a 28-24 score in the initial meeting, the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl held in Tampa Stadium. The Crimson Tide got the better of the Wolverines in the second meeting in Tampa, winning a closely contested 17-14 game in the 1997 Outback Bowl.
The most recent match-up between the two schools is arguably the most exciting bowl game in Michigan history. The eighth-ranked Wolverines edged the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide, 35-34, in overtime to claim the 2000 Orange Bowl title. Tom Brady completed 34-of-46 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns in the winning effort. He tossed a 25-yard TD pass to tight end Shawn Thompson and Hayden Epstein converted the PAT as Alabama scored but was unable to convert the PAT in the first overtime session. It was the first-ever overtime game in school history.
With the addition of the Crimson Tide, the Wolverines are looking to fill two slots on their 2012 schedule. Both open dates are scheduled to be played at Michigan Stadium on Sept. 8, Sept. 15 or Sept. 29. The other previously scheduled non-conference game is Sept. 22 at Notre Dame.
Ticket details will be announced at a later date.
Following is Michigan’s current 2012 schedule:
Sept. 1 vs. Alabama (Arlington, Texas)
Sept. 22 at Notre Dame
Oct. 6 at Purdue
Oct. 13 Illinois
Oct. 20 Michigan State
Oct. 27 at Nebraska
Nov. 3 at Minnesota
Nov. 10 Northwestern
Nov. 17 Iowa
Nov. 24 at Ohio State
Off Schedule: Indiana, Penn State, Wisconsin
I feel happy!
Every offseason there is someone (often named Gary Danielson) who goes on record proclaiming the doom of the spread offense and a return to the paleolithic days when quarterbacks were pale and made of granite. The best and dumbest remains this from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
This may sound strange when coach Mike Leach's version of the spread has Texas Tech near a national title game, but Michigan's struggles this season while Rodriguez has implemented his system into college football's winningest program might be a sign: The spread, in fact, is dead.
The scheme was designed to give underdogs some hope, when a team could open up the field by recruiting a smaller quarterback with a sharp mind and a quick release, and a handful of speedy receivers. But the offense intended to confound the big boys has now been adopted by the big boys, and that may have started its demise.
But that was two years ago.
This year's evidence centered heavily on…
Texas abandoning the vestigal Vince Young-y bits from its offense after the graduation of Colt McCoy and ascension of monolithic Garrett Gilbert to the helm:
With the exit of Colt McCoy, so goes the shotgun spread for the Texas Longhorns. For the 2010 season, Mack Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis have decided to go under center with starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
Going under center could mean the beginning of the end for the spread, a style that was made popular by powerhouse SEC programs and then picked up by other conferences.
Florida abandoning the Tebow offense in favor of a conventional pocket passer:
Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio tweaked the spread offense to tailor Brantley’s strengths, putting him under center more and eliminating many designed quarterback runs.
The effectiveness of Alabama's traditional battering ram of an offense featuring returning Heisman winner Mark Ingram:
When Alabama prevailed last season, it was with gnarly defense and a vanilla offensive scheme — albeit led by Heisman Trophy-winning back Mark Ingram.
That profile in turn had ripples for Texas, a 37-21 loser to the Crimson Tide in the title game, that perhaps suggest a shift in the broader landscape.
and spread 'n' shred HQ Michigan sucking:
How are these memes working out so far?
Texas fans are livid that Mack Brown's handpicked talent couldn't manage a meaningful touchdown against UCLA:
What is the Texas offensive scheme? My answer- We have a spread that we pass out of 80% of the time, and an under-center formation we run out of 80% of the time. We use the spread 70 – 80% of the time against quality opposition. We call very few running plays for the QB- just a couple of called QB draws per game. We don’t run zone read or lead option, which were core plays for us the last several years. Our offense has an H-back that can block on running plays or be a receiving option on pass plays.
The proposed short term solution is to utilize "more zone reads and option runs" and use whichever quarterback has the best combination of running and throwing ability.
Florida fans were clawing their eyes out after managing just over 200 yards of total offense against Miami (Not That Miami) and just over 300 against Tennessee (Also Pretty Much Not That Tennessee) but found joy in the redzone in the form of one Trey Burton:
The freshman scored six touchdowns in Florida's 48-14 victory over Kentucky, including five rushing as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation. The feat broke Tebow's old record of five touchdowns against South Carolina in 2007. … On Wednesday, UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Burton's role as a quarterback in the Wildcat package likely will expand as the season progresses. Burton's role might be similar to the role Tebow played as a freshman, when he was a changeup to starter Chris Leak, who led the Gators to the BCS national title in 2006.
Alabama's grinding non-spread attack is sixth in total offense and just took out their most difficult competition to date by doing this with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson:
Ingram took eight handoffs out of the wildcat, nine from the pistol, three from shotgun and four when the quarterback was under center. Richardson only took eight handoffs, with his two biggest gains, 53 and 10, out of shotgun.
For those counting, Mark Ingram took four of 24 snaps from a conventional I-form against a top ten foe on the road.
Finally, no one's laughing at half of Michigan's team now:
Also there is Cam Newton, though Auburn highlight technology has a decidedly Soviet feel to it. FWIW four weeks into the season (almost nothing), three of the top four offenses in the country are dyed-in-the-wool spreads that feature a ton of quarterback runs: Michigan, Oregon, and Nevada.
We now return you to your regular programming, and Gary Danielson to the alternate universe he spends six days a week in.