So we've got ourselves a new offensive coordinator. I guess there's no use hiding that I'm on the more ambivalent end of the spectrum of Michigan fans, but I'm a spread zealot, and I admit another gorram transition is just too painful a prospect right this moment. At the very least it was the kind of PR coup that resets the countdown clock on Hoke's tenure. These days you only get to play the "it was my offensive coordinator's fault" card once per Rose Bowl trip, but this was the right time to do so. I'm probably just a cynic who's been sold a bill of Mariucci over Mornhinwheg to believe in any apparent upgrade. Let's see if the readers can convince me otherwise.
Eye of the TIger tried. He found some quotes by an ex-Bama player on how Inside Zone is repped to insanity, which can be taken as evidence of philosophical thinking, or taken as the zone version of Hoke's "Power" philosophy which admittedly never materialized under Borges anyway.
|The thing about Barrett Jones is you don't have to make tough decisions about what your OL can and can't do.|
Tiger pointed out that Alabama's riches in offensive lineman size allowed them to depart from the typical suite of complementary plays and players that limits you to. It's supposed to be this:
Inside Zone has another advantage--flexibility:
The majority of the time in a zone blocking scheme the tailback will follow the design of the play, but occasionally the tailback will perform a cutback and change direction during the run. A cutback is when the tailback changes direction and runs away from where the linebackers are flowing (the tailback can only do this once and must not hesitate). This cutback made by the tailback is what makes zone blocking so dangerous because of how easily a cutback can lead to a big play. The cutback exaggerates the advantages of the zone-blocking scheme.
Watch this video highlighting Texas’ use of Inside Zone to see this point illustrated nicely, not only for cutbacks, but for alternate read options.
Major advantages: You can run an offense with less experienced OL and opens up a bigger growth curve for RBs, who become more effective the more comfortable they get at reading the holes and cutback lanes.
Major disadvantage: It's way harder to run play-action from a zone running look. Reason is nothing gets defenders thinking run like a good running MANBALL (or inverted veer) team pulling a guard. Second reason is the small, cut-rate scatbacks that zone lets you get away with don't typically make very good pass blockers. I probably don't have to tell this to 2013 Michigan fans.
At Alabama they overcame the disadvantage by having massive/quick OL who are naturally difficult obstacles to a pass rusher, and with 5-star running backs who can cut, block, slam, juke, and jet, all for three easy payments of $3,995.95, plus shipping and handler's fee (order now and we'll throw in a free safety). At Michigan, well, actually, we've got just those kinds of guys on campus now. Maybe?
Also there's this:
@michiganinsider I think people don't realize how handcuff Nuss was at Bama, he called the plays, but Nick was in control, handcuffs are off
— Theus DeShon Sears (@Theist313) January 10, 2014
And here I am a quarter way through UFRing an Alabama game. Anyone got Washington tapes?
P.S. I purposely stayed vague on the Song of Ice and Fire references; you're not off the hook from a season recap.
[After the jump: the board goes Borges for Nuss]
I bet 2014 won't get rabies and try to kill me!
Let's have one more official reiteration: if the "2013 Must Die" meme shall go forth to the greater internet, let's all be on the same page as to its meaning.
Bronxblue in the Best & Worst* season finale:
While I contend any year when one of your major programs plays in the national championship game and has a player win all of the national POY awards can’t be that bad, the struggles by football and hockey were unexpectedly traumatic.
LSA's 2013 eulogy:
First, allow me to focus on the positive, for it wasn’t all gloom.
Ron Utah's bowl aftermath:
This sums-up our 2013 season
No. For that 2013 gif to be 2013 first you'd need a small child standing by who will be cured of cancer if he manages to break open 10 or more coconuts. The first four would explode, the fifth would almost, and only then would he start slamming his fist on the I-beam and such. Once it's clear he can't get to 10 it'll begin to rain and he'll get one to just barely crack, and that'll be Northwestern. And he'll have a perfect shot at a dark, evil, cancer-loving coconut but it'll rebound and defeat him.
The possibility for good is what separates a bunch of crappy things from real tragedy. 2008 was a bunch of crappy things. 2013 was soul-devouring tragedy. Without the plausible hope of McGary, or a triumvirate of elite commits, or offensive line improvement, or a sweep in Boston, there's no dong to be punched. Putting down a rabid offensive coordinator is one thing; sweet Heiko crying tears for the inarguably good guy he interviewed as he points a shotgun toward the cage is quite another.
Actually if you're looking for a good 2013 analogy, let's go back to the beginning of the season and Eye of the Tiger's comparison to A Game of Thrones. First you come to love the Starks and their dire wolves and their quaint ways, and believe in their mission of protecting mankind from the evils beyond the wall while we wait for dragons to show up and unite everybody. Then they are (SPOILER:) systematically raped, tortured, disfigured, and murdered by a world full of sociopaths. Dennis Norfleet is Aria: you like this character, huh? Okay we'll just leave her out of an entire book then.
* [Warning: The first two Gallon highlight links go to game reels that both begin with our defense getting shredded.]
We have subs but this is crazy. Inside the Box Score isn't a fan of Michigan's defensive substitutions:
|The most mystifying thing about the 2013 defense was QWash's disappearance from it.|
On the first drive of the game, I saw numerous subs get into the game. Are you telling me that our guys are getting tired 10 minutes into the game? I want the best guys out there who give us the best chance to win. I want guys to get into the flow of the game, read the queues and start figuring out the offense. Instead, there is a constant revolving door where guys are being shuttled in and out before they get a chance to get into the flow of the game or break a sweat and they spend more energy sprinting to and fro the sideline than they do playing the game.
It's nice to go into 2014 with the 2nd team all having lots of reps, but it's a small nice with a downside of starters who aren't progressing.
By now Ross and Morgan and Wilson ought to be going all game, and the DL starters coming out only when they need a spell. The best line play Mattison ever got was when he was forced to roll with Martin and RVB all game and those two developed such a rapport that they could toy with offenses. "Everybody plays" was great for guys like me in Little League, but there's a reason teams stop doing that at about a middle school competitive level.
The other thing from the box score is Quinton Washington's continued absence. The most plausible explanation is Mattison thought to roll with penetrators against spread-to-run offenses. If that's true, it's more evidence that nobody on this staff even understands that offense, which bane is a two-gapping, double-team-swallowing nose tackle.
Etc. Hockey goal-by-goal analysis and poll updates. Great diary from JeepinBen wherein Fielding Yost reminds us not to listen to Sparties who can't fathom why people in their home state root for the other team in their home state. Course after this season I'm kind of wondering myself.
Argh on you, club_med. Yes, I am flattered that you were inspired by my annual FEI-based bowl game watchability article, and I think it's great that you added Sagarin to it. Except now I actually have to find something else to write next Tuesday. Perhaps I'll do senior haikus.
I still can't believe
They pegged you as a safety
Here is your meat: raw.
Sorry Brian. You can do the next USCHO/RPI/Standings poll update from Center Ice. And he can take over LSA's weekly stat wrap, and LSA can take Best & Worst after the bowl game from bronxblue, who can do Inside the Box Score instead of ST3, and we'll send him to cover the press conference, and that'll be how we replace Heiko.
Season of Infinite Pain, Reviewed. "The Year of Infinite Pain" (glossary) was a name Brian came up with for 2005, before he knew what 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2013 could be like. Now diary giant Ron Utah is using "The Season of Infinite Pain" to describe this one. Not saying things won't improve, but, you know, that's just a might set up against two rivals who are peaking in a tough division, and a national competitive environment in which a lot of teams wantonly break the rules and ours doesn't. So just in case we need some more names:
- The Autumn of Infinite Pain
- The Time of Infinite Pain
- The Annum of Infinite Pain
- The Age of Infinite Pain
- The Span of Infinite Pain
- The Fiscal Year of Infinite Pain
If we are actually living in the last, here's guessing I don't make it past the 2014 Notre Dame game. If Dantonio and Urban get to 10 wins apiece against us there are several synonyms for "infinite" (eternal, interminable, perpetual, everlasting, boundless, incalculable, supertemporal) that may be substituted in various combinations.
Anyway Ron's wrap starts with the defensive line, which he gave a C+, but I think he's too high on Clark's season, too hard on Washington's (he was injured), and there needs to be more analysis of the heavy (ha!) rotational guys like Henry, Beyer, Ojemudia, Wormley, Heitzman and Pipkins.
Not on the Pistons, that's where. AC1997 is tracking Michigan guys in the NBA, as well as the transfers and dudes playing abroad. I'd love for this to be a regular monthly update for each season in action (so have a hockey one, and a baseball one, and football from August (free agent movement) through the Superbowl.
Etc. A quick statistical preview of Stanford, whom Michigan must beat lest they end the nonconference season without a signature win.
[Jump for Best of the Board and zen.]
This is how Brady Hoke sees an 'M'. [Upchurch]
Recruits: if you are reading this, do not believe the man in the red/crimson track suit telling you that criticism of Brady Hoke or his staff means Michigan is going to lose him anytime soon. Those are very bad men who are likely to have you downsized to Southern Alabama or regularly featured in photographs and articles that highlight how bad you are at tackling. You also should pay no attention to bloggers who suggest you should ride pine until 2016 and that your future coach needs to win X amount of games until then to even be his coach. Also I shouldn't be talking to you.
Fifth-year seniors >>>>>>> freshmen on special teams. That's why I strongly disagree with the conclusions of AC1997's assessment of this year's redshirting, while appreciating the hell out of the diary (quick read, too). The only one he's mad about is Da'Mario Jones, while Bosch and York are "questionable." I know we did this recently in a roundtable but my take is different:
- Obviously play him: Smith, Butt, Gedeon. All were effective and needed.
- Not mad but needed a shirt: Shane—we've discussed this. Green but you kind of have to play five-stars. Bosch but chances are good there's still two decent 2017 starting guards out of Samuelson, Dawson, and Mason Cole and other 2014/15 recruits.
Me in 2017 is (probably) very upset about this. [Fuller]
- Mad: The safeties and receivers and here's our big disagreement. Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill are perfect examples of the reason we have a tag about burning redshirts on special teams. Jones & York—Mathlete keeps telling us that returning experience at receiver is a strong indicator of a good offense and vice versa, and unless a receiver has a massive talent lead on the DBs trying to cover him WR effectiveness is about route running and blocking and reps reps reps.
- Pick ONE cursed freshman corner: Both Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling played, both were pretty good for freshmen, one was needed. Theory: Uber recruits tend to cast a shadow on recruiting their positions, so it's important to have good stocks ahead of them (see: Russell Bellomy/Shane Morris situation). Peppers doesn't fill a depth chart by himself, and if he really is Woodson reincarnate* he'll be gone to the NFL after winning the 2016 Heisman and then we're left with Whitley and Howard.**
At the risk of sounding like every NFL columnist who thinks every franchise needs to adopt the strategy of whichever team just won the Superbowl, the reason Michigan State and Wisconsin have been to Indianapolis twice apiece, despite recruiting classes that top out like our (mediocre-for-Michigan) 2011 haul, is because they redshirt almost everybody and keep them around.
It's a luxury of stable programs, and Michigan is still paying for not being one of those for the latter half of the 2000s. Denard would have been nice to have this year, obviously. How badly did you wish for Vincent Smith when the RBs were getting Gardner killed? How's Michigan's pass rush if you add fifth years from Roh and Campbell to it? Brandin Hawthorne could have let you put a shirt on Gedeon. Developed talent is good. Fifth year seniors are good. Leastways they're better than a marginal improvement in kickoff coverage for a team that rarely scores touchdowns.
*[Nobody is Woodson reincarnate. The thing about the greatest players in the history of the game is they don't grow on trees.]
** [I mean who wants 1998 Todd Howard starting? He's a true freshman. He's short. He doesn't know how to press yet. He's…he's right behind me isn't he?
Nope, he's over there by Brian.]
That's not what I expected. Okay, reader. Zoom out, cock your head sideways, and tell me with just a glance what you think this diary was about:
Turnover analysis? A deep look inside offensive stats? An estimated timetable for improvement? Nope: try a "when do we fire this guy" post.
Deep, statistical analysis to answer rhetorical fan questions that have simple answers not requiring statistics (Michigan isn't firing Brady Hoke anytime soon): these are my readers tag activated. Really it's a case of bad title—what he's doing is comparing Hoke's coaching stops to those of the most successful coaches in recent history, concluding that Michigan needs to win 20 games in the next two seasons (and probably a national championship) to have his name placed among that pantheon. Expectations are probably around 17, with the fanbase getting mighty grumpy if that number dips below 16.
Your regular etc. LSA tackles (ha!) the defense, which straddled the B+/A- line all year until it faced Miller-Hyde without its middle linebackers.
[After the jump: a very meta board]
One Play. I got really into this piece by Brhino where he went over Michigan football seasons going back to the "Year of Infinite Pain" (i.e. 2005) to point out games where one play may have meant the difference. Interesting way to reassess how we view the seasons. For example this year's team was a couple things going right away from 11-1 and a BCS bid (MSU would have still have won the Bo Division, with BCS eligibility riding on that), and a couple of things going wrong away from 4-8. I chart:
Bicking makes it cligger.
Quibble: I may be stretching "one play" too far, but Football Armageddon had that late hit out of bounds by Crable on 3rd and 15. OSU scored on that drive to go up 10. Who knows if Michigan can drive the ball the same as they did on the next possession. NFL win probability calculator says OSU was 79% to win if Crable doesn't make that hit, and 91% after the call. Fan brain says Michigan would have drove for the victory, beaten essentially the same Florida team they played the following year, and cured cancer.
Trend Lines. If you're into seeing how the rest of the Big Ten progressed on offense as this season did, dnak followed up last week's Michigan chart with some for the rest of the field. MSU is a young offense slowly growing up, Michigan's is one coached by insane people.
Hypothesis: UConn was just a bad game and the coaches over-responded to it, putting themselves behind the 8-ball the rest of the season. I submit as a different model Penn State, which had more than a few personnel shortages but big talent in places and stuck with their scheme all year, seeing noticeable progression but no spikes until the last game.
Goals! The Corsi Charts have been shelved for the moment so MGoBlueline can do those goal analysis things I like much better anyway:
Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…
The OSU weekend's tallies at the link.
Charity. Tomorrow is Adopt-a-Shelter and both sites still could use some volunteers. K.o.k.Law had a tailgate at the house next door to MGoPatio, the cause being to fix up the house of an 11-year-old with a terrible illness.
Weeklies. Turnover Analysis talked about the Countess interception, which had a negative result of half a point. I still would have taken it; I think Furman stood there amazed for a second while OSU's receivers recovered, and if he hadn't he was in the exact right spot to make a key block. Turnover margin has been steadily climbing to the good since UConn, though the offense going into a shell to make that happen might have negated the good that's done. Inside the Box Score. Best and Worst talks about Ben Gedeon. LSA's usual stuff.
[Jump to learn an important lesson about swearing.]
Selfie: Go save Christmas again.
Kids! Gandalf the Maize's follow-up on which factors seem to be the most predictive of offensive line play compared the r-squareds of 19 things, from o-line experience as a whole, to their recruiting stars, to the left tackle individually, depth, QB talent, how much the team goes long, etc., and found the ONLY factor with relatively high significance is…
Interior. Offensive. Line. Experience!
Let's get a DotW to the wizard, and tell Funk to put some years on his charges, RIGHT NOW.
Ron Utah followed up by showing the relative age of Michigan's whole roster versus teams of significance.
Part II by dnak438 on Michigan's offensive regression this week went back and added 2011-12 to the study of YPP versus opponents, tracking it by dividing Michigan's yards per play each game versus the average that team gave up. The results are charts that really show the history of Al Borges's various offensive strategies:
Here's the progression:
[after the jump]