fair point that
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]
OMIGOD OMGIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD!
What is it, bolded collective subconscious of the board?
NEW ROAD JERSEY!!!
Somewhere a man in the employ of Hackenberg is forcibly holding down an Adidas designer who is clutching several yards of yellow piping and screaming "Bitte! Bitte lassen sie nur ein wenig auf den schultern! Biiiiiiiitte!"
In which we are all Pritchard. This one-off diary by dragonchild is an extremely allegorical example of how Harbaugh quarterbacks operate:
Late in the fourth quarter, down a TD, Pritchard was facing 4th and 20. Harbaugh's calling in the play. And then this happens:
"I just remember being across the field, and [Harbaugh] yelling something to me. And I don't remember being able to hear it. . . I knew there could only be a couple of things, so I went back to the huddle, and I was like, 'OK, here's what we're going to do.'"
-Tavita Pritchard, Stanford backup QB
Let that sink in: In Stanford's do-or-die play of the game, their unheralded backup QB didn't have Harbaugh to tell him what to do.
There really are only a couple things any team but an Air Raid can call upon for such a long situation. This has been a repetitive theme going back to his recruiting for his dad's Western Kentucky program while still in the NFL: Harbaugh likes smart guys. His smart guys are confident in their own intelligence, and use that brain to make a lot of pre-snap reads. Pritchard wasn't a Harbaugh recruit, but he was a highly regarded drop-back recruit who got into Stanford. So in that regard the offense is complex.
What Pritchard means, and how it compares with Borges, is rather than all those magnificent Borges west coast routes, Harbaugh uses only a handful of route/blocking combinations so the QB will have practiced where certain receivers will be until he has an innate feel for that. Often a Harbaugh QB comes to the line with three of those combinations ready, and calls the one they'll use based on how the defense is lined up. This frees up the QB to focus on things like pass rushers and coverages after the snap. He can also tell the backs to stay in if he catches a blitz coming. Luck and his fullbacks would often vamp that route during the play based on whatever the linebackers did. The receivers have look-back points planned in their routes, so for example if he's running a post, before that cut inside the WR will look back for a quick seam.
I've made this comparison before but I think it's a good analogy: If Borges is conducting an orchestra, Harbaugh's offense is more like jazz musicians jamming.
...with a death metal vocalist.
In case you're too cheap to buy HTTV alum96 has been previewing all of Michigan's opponents in some order that might be ascending interest. I like that he has a section specifically geared to how Michigan matches up. Expect to have these linked in the previews this season but here's what he's done so far:
For those of you who still care about the Big Ten West even though for all intents and purposes they're as affiliated with Michigan as any Pac Ten team used to be*, Brhino did a quick rundown including the next time we play thing.
*[IE we schedule two of them per year and if we have a really really good season we get to play their champion afterwards. ]
This used to happen (it still happens). Before the USS Michigan went deep, John Baxter told reporters he's mad Michigan hasn't returned a field goal block for a touchdown. WD went and found all the INT and fumble returns for a TD in recorded M history. I tried plotting those—the light blue line is the five-year running total and says something:
If you correct for fewer plays per game in the 20th century the rate of returns since the 1990s is on par with the 1970s Bo teams. This is way too small a sample to draw real conclusions, but man the 1980s were a drought. I bet the fumble returns are up across the game because more tackles happen in space—a dropped bubble screen is a lateral fumble just waiting to be turned into six points by the defense, unless the crap refs from the trash tornado game blow it dead ARGH.
Wrong All 22. Lunchboxthegoat made a silly list of the best starters he saw play in college, for any team. Do Michigan, man! Here's a starting 24 I'd make out of a pool of guys I remember watching AND knew enough to make my own judgments.
|QB||RB||Flanker||Split End||Slot||Tight End|
I did this Draftageddon style, ie I get to decide what style to slot these guys into. Drew over Denard because man if the option was part of Michigan's playbook back then he'd have been legendary instead of just really really good for one year. Likewise I'm using Woodson in the slot because that's what he'd be today. Having to use Marlin as my free safety tells you all you need to know about safeties in my time.
Now I want to do a Draftageddon of Michigan players.
Tuebor ("I will defend," from the state flag) is the first-person singular future active indicative of "tueor", which means Latin has too many tenses. By UMProud.
Etc. jonvalk made a 1969-style schedule for this year. The full 1981 Bo feature is found again, still gold. Tons of numbers but I'll wait for the formatting to be fixed before we highlight, Forciers gonna QBForce. Statistical model makes NFL playcalling as predictable as a Hoke offense. There is no QB drama, Liz. EMU is rebranding as Oregon 2010. This is a case example of things from the past which should be left there.
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN:
Got a bunch of events and site business to go over today:
See you in this: We FINALLY got the J-Mo one done and approved and for sale:
— Seth M. Fisher (@Misopogon) July 31, 2015
You have no idea how many conversations can be had about a bracketed 's'. Take the biggest number you could think of, then think of more. In two years we should finally have approval on the Harbaugh Pyramid of Greatness, by which time all of humanity will have weighed in on whether parentheticals are necessary.
See you Friday: We're going to be at Literati at 7 this Friday, doing whatever they do at book readings except this one we talk about Michigan football. But you can totally omit that last bit and sound cultured to your Ann Arbor friends when you say you want to be at this book reading downtown. If they press, it's the story of a lonely and misunderstood middle aged man who returns to his hometown from years of rule by a company that didn't know how to use guards correctly.
Brian will see you in D.C.: Brian will be there next week, speaking at the alumni association's get-together on Tuesday, August 11. While we're on the capital's alumni association club, if you're going to the Maryland game, that will be the association's big annual away tailgate.
See you for homecoming. We've been invited to the big homecoming tailgate with the alumni association, noon to 3:30 before the Northwestern game (10/10). We talked it over and decided not to ever get company polos for it, but we do have plans to wear snarky t-shirts. And to put Brian on stage. You'll find David and me over by the TVs since there are at least three noon Big Ten games.
Football on the decline? Is this a stupid question?
I didn't open any of the threads where this popped up this week (I think somebody had a poll), but BlueBlood2991 was recovering from surgery so he tried to answer it by comparing population shifts and economic changes to high school football participation.
There is of course some correlation, but he explains population shift as the primary factor behind huge leaps in football participation in Georgia and North Carolina. This could be a fallacy: Ad hoc, ergo propter hoc. It could be an effect of money moving into new-build suburban communities, and parents using sports to put their kids in social situations, or the kids using sports to prove their worth to their new schoolmates. Football interest is hard to show in participation except over longer than a decade periods. But who's participating is interesting:
Again, correlation does not imply causation. Less educated families may be poorer, thus less able to afford sports, especially football which does get quite expensive even if your school provides most of the equipment (very few do).
Etc. Alum96 is on to M00N with his previews. MaizeJacket had a counterproposal to my "let's everyone join one conference then dictate terms" plan—I like his "Challenge" idea but like a lot of good ideas it won't happen because teams want to schedule as many games as possible way ahead of time.
Best of the Board:
They don't mention puking on the recruiting trips:
From a story by Bennie Joppru about practicing with Carr. This part comes after four puking sessions:
I went back to the dorms in south quad and started to pack my clothes. "I'm heading back home to Minnesota and I'll walk on and be a Gopher". I knew I couldn't walk out the front on the dorm with my clothes so I threw my bag out the 12 floor window and walk down the stairwell, avoiding the elevator. I got the first taxi I saw and said "take me to the bus station".
I got to the bus station only to find out I was 25 dollars short of a ticket. This was 1998 so CD's were as good as money then and I had plenty. I told the ticket guy if he gave me the 25 dollars I needed for a ticket he could have any 10 CD's he wanted.
Of course he picked all of my favorite CD's, but I had my ticket, no more puking I thought to myself.
Then a man tapped him on his shoulder. For those who don't know already, Joppru is basically what would happen if a blogger had football talent.
Back when they could still get away with selling me the opportunity to play as Denard without paying Denard, EA would make some minor tweak to its NCAA game, maybe add some stupid feature like emails from your mom or mascot teams, and basically sell you the updated roster pack as a new game every year.
Since they're still working out how to make this game while paying the people who make it so valuable, the internet has taken over and done a better job for free. The roster pack is basically going to be this year's game. I'll have a full post on it. All hail those of you who worked on it.
Preposterous Stolen Victories Over Northwestern Now Worth Half
|Not all 50/50s are created equal: @Maryland is looking like 60/40, BYU/Utah the opposite.|
Saturdayedge's annual Big Ten betting prospectus (it's free but only with an email signup – NOW with non-depressing cover!) came out last week. The writing is very cliché, and they seem to be too fixated on recruiting stars, but I always value the betters' perspectives because accuracy really is their prime motivation. That Michigan averaged 5.25 points under the spread (by far the worst in the conference) should come as no surprise, nor that the two rivals, even at home, are the two near-guaranteed losses.
This is something I haven't seen in a Michigan preview in a long time:
Strength – The Running Game: Running backs De’Veon Smith, Derrick Green, Drake Johnson and Ty Isaac can all produce if they get the chance.
He mentions the O-line should be decent and Harbaugh teams always run well, but unless this means "knows how to run into a gaping hole (sometimes)" that seems overoptimistic. He also joins Shane Morris on an extremely short list of people who think Shane Morris might start. Anyway for those who can't corner Jamie Mac on the regular, a free and at least fly-by informed gamblers' perspective on the conference is worth your time.
Unless you're drafting against me in Draftageddon in which case you should read only preseason award watch lists and ESPN's Top 25 list. Tommy Armstrong's still on the board, Adam!
Not a new pos-bang record:
WD is an internet obsessive, which as an internet obsessive who is friends with many internet obsessives I have great appreciation for. But then, that was a bit much:
The post that currently holds the pos record is 465/0 to the turn-based RPG gif by chunkums. Chunkums is LEGEND. Upvotes go away after a time but I made sure to catch that one when it did so a few years ago.
Etc. Liz, our podcast sponsor, made a Top 5 hottest college coaches, because Liz.
Your Moment of Zen:
This guy does hype videos well.
You May Remember These Running Backs from Such Players As…
Milksteak did the quarterbacks earlier, and now he's on to comparing running backs, taking their extant stats and seeing who projects into the same realm. I'm interested in what he comes up with for the receivers since I'm doing a similar study right now using Bill Connelly's receiver stats.
|Rudock vs Cook common opponents. Click takes you to the article.|
But that's getting ahead of ourselves. This one's on Green et al.:
Green's 5.7 Yds/Carry looks very similar to freshman Chris Perry's 5.4 average. Freshman Tyrone Wheatley's 6.4 Yds/Carry represents the top of the comparisons, and he was much more of a TD vulture than Green has been. Carlos Brown's sophomore campaign looks somewhat similar as well. Let's see how these running backs fared in their next year.
Chris Perry had the same surprising size/acceleration combo and couldn't find a hole unless he was escorted to it, but he also had some ridiculous balance. His magnificent senior season now overshadows the period when B.J. Askew was clearly a better option. Up until this point in Green's career, however, Perry was behind A-Train. The stat comparisons only tell you so much, for example De'Veon Smith is not Jamie Morris. Ed Davis maybe.
Going back to the QBs, Dawkins posted a board thing comparing Rudock to Connor Cook thus far. When Ace inevitably drafts Jake Rudock he'll appreciate this the thing at right. What it doesn't show is that MSU was extremely conservative with Cook until progressively taking him off apron strings at the end 2013. Then again, Rudock worked for Greg Davis so…
Also how do two quarterbacks in the same conference only have three common opponents? Oh right.
Alum96 has been previewing Michigan's opponents, and the rodentia are up. Other than that one team that got one of the most successful NFL coaches to come back to college, Oregon State pulled off the coup of the offseason when they stole Wisconsin's head coach. It would turn out to be de gras, as the beloved AD who engineered that, Bob De Carolis, retired into the Michigan Athletic Department he was long a part of (he was the softball coach who hired Hutchins).
All of that is only of small relevance to 2015 OSU (NTOSU), which returns only two defensive starters from a unit that wasn't very good. In case you're wondering, no, Wisconsin's excellent DC is still at Wisconsin.
Alum96's previews continue with Minnesota, which is still Minnesota except minus an excellent center, an excellent running back, some excellent members of the front seven, and an excellent Maxxx. Don't miss the SB Nation Study Hall article he links.
BOOKS I DEMAND YOU READ THIS SUMMER
1. Hail to the Victors 2015 by MGoBlog
1. Brandon's Lasting Lessons (alternate title: Endzone: The Something Something Dave Brandon Gets Trashed By Everyone He Ever Met Novel) (alternate-alternate title: Endzone: The Rise, Fall, and Return of Michigan Football), by John U. Bacon.
2. Armada by Ernest Cline (author of Ready Player One)
3. Hail to the Victors 2015 by MGoBlog
4. Stagg vs. Yost: The Birth of Cutthroat Football, by John Kryk
5. Forty Years in the Big House, by Jon Falk. eeeeeeee!
6. The Art of Smart Football, by Chris Brown. This is a collection of articles about the recent evolution of football chalk, not pictures from his blog. "Five Stories About the Spread Offense" is brilliant and depressing.
By the way I finally met both Kryk and Dr. Sap in person. They are what I would have been if I was born 20 years earlier. And in Canada. And if I was cool.
MICHIGAN VERSION OF THE FACEBOOK $15 THINGY
Seriously? Brady, Wheatley, AC, Woodson, Harbaugh, and you can keep the extra dollar.
BOOK CRAIG ROSS WOULD PREFER YOU NOT READ
1. The Search for the Unified Field Theory (Football Version), by Craig Ross
ETC. Vincent Smith updates what's going on with #EATING, particularly the Flint project we've been helping him raise the dough for. A reader claiming to know Dennis Norfleet says the thing we heard is official and the destination is Tuskegee; I have no other sources for this so take it FWIW. For some people it's not the difficulty level of saying "Hi, I'm a tight end," but the principle of the matter. Michigan has agreed to match other teams' offers to let David Reese think he's going to play linebacker.
Your Moment of Zen:
Wasn't anyone there to tell them the "Border Battle" is Wisconsin-Minnesota?
"That's ridiculous." –Larry/Gary "Money" Mohoney Gergich