to play football, not to play trumpet
I Love Four Plays. It's always a treat when EGD writes up a "Four Plays" diary. This is the thing where he takes two things Michigan does on offense and two things the opponent does, and shows how the matchups will go. One of M's bag of tricks is worth getting into a bit:
When Harbaugh debuted this particular fullback run against BYU, the H-back (Poggi) lined up right behind the right guard (Kalis); at the snap, Kalis went straight for the WLB and Poggi stepped up to kick out the DT. And wouldn’t you know it—here comes the left guard to lead the ballcarrier through the hole and hit the MLB, just like Power O. I kind of struggled with what to call this play; I might have done better just calling it “Inside Power.”
He gave the advantage to MSU here because State's DL is pretty powerful. I've watched a lot of their games this year and have an idea that Harbaugh's going to run something a bit different than this to take advantage of the hyperaggressiveness of State's NT, Malik McDowell. The DT is Joel Heath and he has a tendency to get sealed, but he's also huge, i.e. too much for Poggi to kick out. Rather I bet you Michigan traps their balls off. Poggi can give him a quick shove then go by, getting Heath feeling pretty good about their Michigan scouting for that half second before he eats Braden's trap. Poggi can help seal the SAM or find a safety, and we're in business.
[After the jump: where the weak are weak]
On WTKA last week (before the Maryland game) the roundtablers got into a short discussion comparing Michigan's 2015 defense to, say, the 2006 one. Asgardian walked with it, comparing the M defense to others this year and some other great defenses by simply counting how many times they…
- Held opponent to 7 or fewer points, or
- Held opponents to 8-14 points, or
- Gave up 15 or more
I'm gonna go position by position. Argue any with me:
|Scores||2015 UM||3.23||2006 UM||3.08||1997 UM||3.33|
It's hard to compare eras (Peppers versus Clint Copenhaver!) but the 2006 defense didn't have enough depth at DB for the young spread era and that was its downfall. None of these defenses had any real holes; the 1997 defense didn't even have a spot that was less than really good (B).
I made a tool so you can try this with other defenses (be nice and don't sandbox where someone else is working). I got a 2.93 for this year's Northwestern and a 3.38 for 2013 Michigan State.
Now you're playing with….power rankings. Eye of the Tiger has been doing his own weekly ranking of Big Ten teams. He does this the way Brian does the "Fear Level" and "Desperate Need to Win Level" stuff in the previews, IE he starts with a baseline then gives a +2 for a win over a good team, –1 for a loss to a solid team, etc. Northwestern and Iowa are tops right now, though MSU has fallen behind Michigan.
Alum96 has kept up his version of this too, which informs by pointing out how wrong he was about things like Maryland being any good at football. And if you desire simple numbers instead of feels and backchecks, alum also has started posting the S&P+ rankings of M and the States.
[jump for the Most Lions Thing Ever]
Listen, you loblollies. That song is called "Temptation." It is the "one" of "you can't have one without the other". When Michigan's defense forces a fourth down, the Michigan Marching Band will play this song, because our fancy endzone is just there on the other side of our defense, and they will not get the ball there. Temptation.
When they play this you may sway your arms to motion the ball going to the other side. You may make a Wolverine Claw. You may sing the lyrics if you know them. If you don't know them you may make up lyrics:
You drove, to your 39.
Your blocking was fine
your passes not really.
You now, should punt away.
Ignore what they say
4th and 1 is "punt" clearly.
You may not call it the "You Suck cheer!" Just stop saying "You Suck" at the end of it. MMB's tradition is clever. If you don't get the joke just pretend like you do. There are rules. Speaking of rules:
I love Four Plays. I've told you how much I love Four Plays. I love Four Plays.
Contemporary offenses have added one final modern wrinkle to counter the slow-developing nature of these toss sweeps: the crack block. By aligning two blockers to the outside and having them crack-back to seal the playside linebacker and defensive end, the sweep hits much more quickly and gives the pulling linemen favorable blocking matchups—usually against defensive backs. And while the outside blockers—usually tight ends and wide receivers—are usually much smaller than the opponents they are tasked with blocking, this size disadvantage is compensated for by “leverage”—that is, favorable angles for the offensive players to make those blocks.
The question after last week regarding Michigan's offense was what is Michigan going to do when the opponent is stacking the middle and we're NOT content to run into that anyway because UNLV is bad at football. This is exactly the sort of thing I would guess is coming. And we've seen some motions to set this up already, although with Chesson the crack-man, not Darboh.
Will it work? I'm not counting on it unless the defense is heavily cheating inside. Michigan's receivers have missed blocks, Mason Cole is not good in open space yet, and Sione Houma is not the blocker Kerridge is. Any one of those blocks going badly will end this play in the backfield.
That's my only disagreement. I love Four Plays.
[After the jump, punts flyin, Rutgers cryin', Mud Bowl dyin', bloggers fryin', ]
I don't know how many times I have exited Michigan Stadium. I've never counted. I know that I've crossed the threshold with my hands defiantly pushed into my hoodie's front pocket in silent protest at the insanity of trading a quarter of Michigan football for less traffic. I've left the Big House with those same hands expressively communicating an important point about The Fellowship of the Ring to a fraternity brother. I've left with them running through my rain-soaked hair, left with them clutching my temples for fear my skull might come apart at the seams, and left with them pumping "It's Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine!" into the night. I have at different times in my life, walked out of that edifice gripping a smart phone, a new set of cupware, my father's farm-calloused hand, and a degree. But not once when I came to that threshold, did I ever need those hands for expressing "Farewell."
Last November Jamie Mac did, because he thought he was going to die:
As halftime approached, we had had enough. The weather was cold. The football was miserable. Most of the rest of our crew was at a bar. It was time to join them. I was fine with that until we were actually about to leave the stadium grounds. While my friends hustled out to flag a cab on Stadium Boulevard, I froze, not wanting to pass through the exit gates the way Archie Moonlight Graham didn't want to cross over the first baseline in the movie Field Of Dreams. Moonlight knew he would not be able to play ball on the Field of Dreams anymore once he crossed over that baseline. And I was afraid that once I left Michigan Stadium, I would never return.
The author of Just Cover Blog, regular contributor to this site and the podcast, and nicest Michigan fan you'll ever meet, had what happened to Michigan happen to his body. If you passed his tailgate at the end of Fingerle or had a beer with him at Football Eve, you already know that things turned out pretty Harbaugh for him too. But as I crossed beneath a brick arch for the uncountable time, I found my hand was on my cheek, using the center finger to plug a tear duct, because after reading that diary all I could think about while walking out of the Big House was what a wonderful thing it is that Jamie still gets to.
[Deep breath, then jump for the rest of the best in reader-contributed content in the other tone]
wallpaper by beangoblue
Programming note: We’ve got so much great user content coming out of the Utah game I’m putting up an extra DD this week to cover all the postgame stuff.
The diaries sections had quite a bit of attrition from their 2008-‘09 heyday, with many star diarists moving on to start their own blogs and such. Since then we’ve developed a new lineup of regulars putting out better stuff than 95% of power five schools’ best blogs. And since we’ve got a lot of new readers and returners around right now perhaps this is a good time to reintroduce you to some of the people putting out MGo-quality content just because they want to.
The force is strong with this one. First and foremost, bronxblue is now in year seven of diary writing and year four or six of “Best and Worst” depending on whether you count the ones when he’d tell the story with ~50 thematic images. This week’s asks the question we were all trying to tamp out of our brains and which resurfaced the minute we saw the blocking take another one of those now familiar new system plunges:
But there so many moving parts that have to be “right” for it to run optimally. I know people talk about the spread offense as a sports car, but to me the RR/Urban Meyer-style offense is like a souped-up Toyota Corolla. It works because of its simplicity, its reliance on replacement-level parts at most positions. It obviously runs best with premium talent at the skill positions, but I can’t imagine a world in which you could take Alex Malzone and drop him into Harbaugh’s offense and beat Indiana comfortably, let alone what OSU did against Wiscy, Alabama, and Oregon.
After an offseason of hearing Brian tell various audiences “of course I still want Harbaugh; I’m not crazy!” it looks like there’s no way out of paying that offensive line transition cost once again.
[Jump for a very bad feeling about this.]
So I put this all together before the game.
Go O's! Beat the X's. EGD's four plays articles are a treat whenever they appear. He'll take two of our base offensive plays and two of the opponents, then show how what people have to do matches up against what the defensive players have to do. A sample:
26 Counter F:
LT Mason Cole: Down block WDE Jason Fanaika
LG Ben Braden: Execute long trap block to kick-out “Stud” LB Uaea Masina
C Graham Glasgow: Down block DT Filipo Mokofisi
RG Kyle Kalis: Down block NT Lowell Lotulelei
RT Erik Magnuson: Block SDE Hunter Dimmck (away from 6-hole)
TE Jake Butt: With RT Erick Magnuson, double-team SDE Hunter Dimick; move to second level and block WLB Jared Norris
FB Joe Kerridge: Lead tailback through 6-hole, block first red jersey (presumably MLB Jason Whittingham)
RB – Deveon Smith: Take counter-step toward backside (to influence linebackers), then take handoff on playside; run through 6-hole, read and cut off of FB Joe Kerridge’s block
[Jump for a lot more content to get you through the next few hours]