this may be of some local interest
henri the otter of ennui
NONDESCRIPT SOLAR SYSTEM IN MILKY WAY
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF EARTH
Citizens of the planet, I come before you today to make an announcement. That announcement is: I do not give a microdamn about the things 1) Rich Rodriguez or 2) Michigan alumni such as Desmond Howard have to say about Michigan and Rich Rodriguez, respectively.
My interest levels are declining into femtodamn levels. On message boards I now flip past entire threads in which the same tired debates are brought forth with the speed and determination I ignore threads about politics on the internet. Let that sink in. Yeah. That's right. I have as much interest in this topic as I do Herman Cain.
So I don't want to dedicate yet more time to a guy who was fired a year ago except to talk about the things that made his offense very effective and his defense very ineffective. Those things affect Michigan's fortunes on the field and are interesting examples of the ever-evolving college football metagame. Also interesting, if slightly depressing, is the pickle Rodriguez's last couple recruiting classes have left Michigan in, especially on both lines.
Talking about other aspects of Rich Rodriguez's tenure makes me want to claw at my face. But I will do this for you, like I will eat a lemon if Yuri Wright picks Colorado over Michigan. So here is a handy chart for you to follow.
1. Is it about Michigan? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.
2. Is it really about Michigan or is it a paranoid delusion? If paranoid delusion, go to 3. If still about Michigan, go to 4.
3. Don't care.
4. Still don't care. However, this incident is further evidence that Rodriguez is deservedly bitter about his three year tenure at Michigan and impolitic about discussing it.
Yes, it is further evidence that Rodriguez's maturity level and ability to play "the game" are low. Yes, it reminds me how nice it is to have a guy like Brady Hoke, who says all the correct things in all the generic ways possible. Yes—
What? Where am I? Why am I upside down in some sort of river valley? Why is there a bridge above/below me?
I was probably bungee jumping at the time in an effort to prevent the inevitable—this is the level of my dedication to you, reader—but this topic was still massively boring enough to result in nappy times. I apologize. I'm so, so happy to be talking about this, no, serious—
1. Is it about Rich Rodriguez? If yes, go to 2. If no, go to 3.
2. Is it really about Rich Rodriguez or is it more of a rapturous thing about Brady Hoke that sets the lack of support given during the Rodriguez tenure in stark relief? If rapturous thing, go to 3. If actually about Rodriguez, go to 4.
3. Yes, that is annoying but let's just suck it up because it's in the best interests of the program.
4. Yes, it is extremely disappointing that certain program alumni appear to be jerks. What can you do, though?
To take one example, when you're so dim and callous as to deride Rodriguez as "Cherry Coke"—probably meant "New Coke"—in front of 60-70 players who were recruited by Rodriguez, are the living embodiment of that change, and went 10-2 and reached the Sugar Bowl, well… that's hopeless. Anyone who would trash-talk Denard, even indirectly, is never going to Get It.
It's further evidence that several recent program alums' maturity levels are low. It reminds me of how nice it was to have Bo around. There's nothing to do about it but wait. Eventually the Rodriguez recruits will be out of the program and the Rodriguez years far enough in the—
Right, this again. Upside down in a river valley.
If I can remain conscious long enough to respond to these things in the future, all future events will be filed "3" or "4". This, people of Earth, is my sacrifice for your well-being. Let it not be in vain. File these things 3 or 4 and live your lives without Rodriguez-Michigan-induced narcolepsy. You, too, can live—
An upside-down Brian Cook who would greatly appreciate being reeled in now
PS. Many of you have passed out in front of your computers and are in danger of entering an infinite loop wherein you wake up, forget what you were reading, begin reading again, and fall asleep. In an effort to prevent the thousands of deaths that may result, here is an animated GIF of some levitating cats.
Hopefully this will catch the newly-awakened reader's eye sufficiently to prevent them from entering a fatal boredom loop.
The conference championships are completed and it's not that one year Vince Young played USC, so the BCS's answer is a stupid one. Yes. Yes, it is that time again.
this "On Notice" board from 2006 is remarkably apropos today save for the hatred directed at random SEC mediocrities who failed to beat Florida
If the BCS hadn't popped out of its mother in midair above a dorsal fin, this would be the moment when it jumped the shark. Since it did we have to invent a new term for a terrible thing everyone hates reaching maximum troll. The BCS just Clay Travised all over us.
Anyway, every year at this time I pull out the MGoPlayoff proposal. I don't do this in any real hope it will make a difference, since anyone who could assemble our current system will botch a playoff just as badly. I don't really know why I do it. Maybe it makes me feel better—yes, there is a hypothetical version of college football that makes a goddamn lick of sense.
CREATE A SINGLE TEAM WITH THE DEFINITIVELY BEST RESUME. College football is unique amongst sports in that the national title is essentially decided by eyeballing it. The only thing the BCS changed was to take the one team people used to eyeball and turn it into two. Hinton:
What we should be asking instead is, why does college football and college football alone insist on wedging itself into this ridiculous corner year after year? When did we concede to leave the results of a sport to a cacophonous, ill-informed debating society? How have we convinced ourselves that dragging statistics and resumés and eyeball tests to the podium — along with preconceived biases that trump them all — can possibly deliver a satisfying answer?
Obviously, it can't. Any answer to an unanswerable question is the wrong answer.
Literally every observer who has ever laid eyes on the Bowl Championship Series has mocked it as an absurd anachronism, and continues to mock it to this day. Rightly so. Every sane observer within the sport has mocked it as an absurd anachronism. Seriously: Voting on the better football team? Are we still doing this? We're really going to do it again? Deferring to polls and algorithms in a competition that keeps score? Why are we still doing this?
Because of the unique structure of college football, a playoff can be constructed to be inherently satisfying. That is: you can make something that always leaves one team alone atop a pile of skulls no one else in the country can match. This is obviously not the case right now.
The key components!
RESTRICTED FIELD. No 9-3 teams. Maintain as much of the importance of the regular season as possible. Keep out anyone who could win three straight and still reasonably have an AP vote go against them.
HOME GAMES. Helps with attendance, prevents people from having to travel multiple weeks, helps maintain importance of regular season, makes the guys at the bottom wade through a tougher task and helps bolster their pile-of-skulls argument.
BYES. Again, importance of regular season and pile-of-skulls argument.
NO AUTOBIDS, MAX TWO TEAMS PER CONFERENCE. Autobids can suck it. So can third place teams in their own conference. Also no first round intraconference matchups.
FINAL AT THE ROSE BOWL. Iconic. Would become one of the great traditions in American sports.
This year's version based on the final BCS standings:
1. LSU vs winner of 4. Stanford and 7. Boise State
2. Alabama vs winner of 3. Oklahoma State and 5. Oregon
Arkansas is left out because of the two-teams-per-conference rule; Boise and Oregon flip to prevent a conference matchup. The first two games would be this weekend with the second round on January 1st (2nd this year) and the final a week after. Anyone outside of the final four can go to whatever bowl they want, so this hardly touches the bowl system. The net result is removing one BCS bowl in favor of the playoff.
An eight team version of this is less ideal but also acceptable; that would see Kansas State and Wisconsin on the road in the first round against the SEC teams. Autobids are awful. Clemson and West Virginia can win three straight games here and still not be as worthy as LSU.
The pointlessness of existence!
Don't bother telling me it's not happening. I know.
After the jump: blogpoll ballot time. Sure to endear me to Alabama fans even more.
Formation notes: Michigan had a gameplan and stuck with it, running the stack all day. In certain formations—mostly I—Michigan shaded the linebackers to the strong side and brought a guy up behind, which looked like a 3-4 except your OLB is Ray Vinopal instead of Lamarr Woodley; I called that a 3-4.
An example stack:
Or something, anyway. Michigan lined up Kovacs or Avery to the strong side and had Cam Gordon over the WRs, which is another way in which this isn't much like a stack. If Kovacs is the bandit he should be to the weak side of the formation, AFAIK.
I came out in this formation for most of the second half:
Substitution notes: Michigan platooned the entire line, sending RVB, Martin, and Roh out there as the first team and Banks, Martin, and Black as the second. When Roh went out in the second half Heininger took his snaps. Demens and Mouton went the whole way; Fitzgerald got some run behind Ezeh but not much. Gordon played most of the way at spur but Johnson got approximately three drives. Avery, Rogers, Kovacs, and Vinopal played the whole way except for a couple plays where Talbott replaced Rogers after a hand injury.
On with show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O8||1||10||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Pass||4||PA TE corner||Ezeh||16|
|Bizarre that Michigan will spend a good chunk of the game backing Cam Gordon out onto the slot receiver and let Ray Vinopal play run D. That's what they do here, with a 3-4-ish formation and Kovacs overhanging to the short side. Tolzien has all day (pressure -2) and finds his TE settling in the space between Ezeh(-1, cover -1) and Kovacs. Ezeh sucked up on the PA fake and was a yard or two away from batting the ball down. Kovacs escorts OOB immediately.|
|O24||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Ezeh||14|
|TEs block down on playside DE and SLB. Ezeh(-1) sealed. RVB(-1) sealed. Two blockers on Kovacs and Mouton; Mouton(+1) slams into the pulling G and forces the play back inside, where there's no one since Demens(-2) got slashed to the ground instead of flowing hard down the LOS. Ezeh getting turned and shoved so badly opens the play up. Kovacs(-1) was pancaked easily by the pulling C to the outside. Ball squeezes through the hole and has no one until Avery(+0.5) comes up to make a solid tackle(+1) past the sticks.|
|O38||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Roh||1|
|End around fake to the run up the middle designed to attack that backside gap where people are freaking out about the end around. Roh(+2) slants underneath the TE and is into the intended running lane. Demens(+0.5) slid past a blocker by hitting a frontside gap hard, but it doesn't really matter since Roh's tackling from behind.|
|O39||2||9||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA Post||?||26|
|All day (pressure -1) and Tolzien sits back, firing into a gap in the zone about equidistant from literally five Michigan zone defenders. (Cover -2) Caught, first down, etc.|
|M35||1||10||Ace twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||0|
|Mouton lined up at MLB on this play four yards off the LOS, with Demens to the strongside and Obi weak. Badgers run the same down G play, blocking down on the playside end and LB, in this case Vinopal. Cam Gordon is lined up tight to the playside as well, so he takes on one blocker to the outside. Demens(+0.5) flows down the line to get outside the second blocker, allowing Mouton(+1) to come from the inside and tackle. Mouton was free because of his alignment--here two yards deeper and a yard or so playside compared to the first one--and the inability of the C to release immediately because of traffic in the middle; Black(+0.5) slanted in and impeded his progress. Intentional? Don't know. Results based charting.|
|M35||2||10||Ace twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Martin||1|
|Looks like a designed cutback aimed at the backside; Vinopal rolls up to be the bandit as Michigan shifts strongside, making Ezeh the spur-type-object. Martin(+3) shoves the center back and reads the vertical path of the RB as he approaches the handoff point, cutting back behind the center, swallowing the play by himself.|
|M34||3||9||Shotgun trips||Okie stack||Pass||Sack||Kovacs||-11|
|Stack personnel; DL aligned as if it's a 4-3 with Demens lined up as an NT. Shafer used to do this on passing downs. (And third and one!) Zone blitz. Martin and Demens come, then back out; Mouton, Kovacs, and Ezeh come. It works as Kovacs(+2) gets a free run up the middle and sacks Tolzien to end the drive (RPS +2, pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Roh||7|
|Same play Martin swallowed last time. This time Roh(-1) gets washed too far down the LOS and allows a cutback behind him. Fitzgerald(-0.5) is in and the backside LB; he can't get off a block. This allows a big backside lane that Gordon(-0.5) can't cut down because he went with the end-around.|
|O32||2||3||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Iso||Van Bergen||9|
|Huge cutback lane as RVB(-1) is crushed out of the play on the backside. Demens is again lined up a yard behind his center and has no choice but to take a step playside and get blown up by a guard so when Mouton funnels the play back to him he's busy getting hit by a guy with his arms wrapped behind his back and can't get back. This is *exactly* why the 3-3-5 has MLBs way off the LOS. Here Martin had gotten playside of the C, cutting off the A gap and if allowed to flow Demens could have hit it backside easily. Here he's got a guard in his face after one step. RPS –1. Picture paged.|
|O41||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA scramble||?||7|
|Back to the Mouton MLB at reasonable depth thing. Tolzien looks, can't find anyone (cover +1) and then Martin(-1) and Roh(-1) get some vague pressure that forces him to step up. He's got a big lane (pressure -1) and takes it for good yardage. Coverage due to linebackers being three or four yards further off the LOS and able to get deeper?|
|O48||2||3||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Patterson||2|
|Slower developing. Downblock on RVB sees him shoot upfield and vacate a bunch of space as his blocker goes with him. Mouton(+1) comes up to hit the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside, where Patterson(+1) has time to get cut, get back up, and tackle as the cut is awkward thanks to Mouton. I'm not sure if RVB's play is good or bad; it did get rid of the trash and allow Patterson to flow but it doesn't seem very sound.|
|50||3||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Iso||Gordon||4|
|RVB(+0.5), Martin(+0.5, and Roh(+0.5) and control single blocks and stand up at the LOS ready to tackle in their gaps. Gordon(-2) gets locked outside really easily by a backside TE when he needs to be in the gap behind Roh, Roh gets shoved past the play just barely, and there's a cutback lane for the first down.|
|M46||1||10||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Martin||1|
|Black(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) slide together and block any possible release for a guard trying to get out on the linebackers. This opens up a backside hole that the RB does not take ; Kovacs may have filled it. Vinopal blitzes and peels the lead blocker, allowing Demens(+0.5) to tackle unmolested.|
|M45||2||9||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA deep cross||Fitzgerald||21|
|Ton of time (pressure -2) this time the WR is wide open (cover -3). On replay it's clear Fitzgerald(-2) blew his drop.|
|M24||1||10||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Kovacs||4|
|Michigan should have this dead as Kovacs is in overhang mode. Fitzgerald takes out a lead blocker and Mouton(+1) thumps the pulling G at the LOS, removing any lanes inside and funneling the back right to Kovacs. The Mouton blast has made the hole so small that the back has to slow up as he cuts. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) tries to take down a guy 50 pounds heavier than him up high instead of taking out his legs and gives up a full 4 YAC.|
|M20||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Fitzgerald?||19|
|Fitzgerald(-2) is doing something strange. He steps back and away in an attempt to get outside the downblock. This really does not work; he gets blown off the ball. Mouton(-1) avoids a cut but took an angle too shallow and allows the back outside of him. Fitzgerald is gone; Demens got crushed because the C released free on him instead of dealing with the NT, Patterson. Patterson(-1) has avoided a cut but was slowed by it and then takes a bad pursuit angle that's too aggressive and sees Ball run by him; Demens(-1) also gets a ding for getting so comprehensively owned; he should probably slow up at some point so that this cutback isn't so smooth.|
|M1||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Anderson||1|
|Michigan actually does a good job defending this play with Quinton Washington(!) getting under the pads of the C and driving him back into the path of a pulling guard. Delays him and allows Tony Anderson(-1, tackling -1) to plug Ball behind the LOS, but this is a walk-on cornerback we're talking about and Ball just goes "I am made of ham" and falls into the endzone.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Black||5|
|They're doing that thing where Mouton is five yards off the LOS as the WLB and the other LBs are super close to the LOS. And the second team DL is in. Black(-1) is destroyed by a single block, giving the TE a really easy angle to block Demens since Demens is close to the LOS and can't avoid the traffic. Ezeh takes on the pulling G and forces the play inside, where Demens shucks his blocker and tackles. Freshman DE against Gabe Carimi. That's life, I guess.|
|O25||2||5||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Patterson||10|
|Patterson(-2) blown down the line and off the ball by the C. The center gets a tiny bit of guard help but it's more like 'can you get this guy' and since the answer is yes the Gs get free releases. Demens is trying to cut behind Patterson, now mashed three yards downfield, when he gets plowed by a guard. He does what he can, which isn't anything. Ball cuts between the two guys. Vinopal comes up and can't tackle but with people getting blown downfield he's got a tough job. He causes the TB to stumble and Rogers finishes the play. RPS -1; this is a play with one WR and a three-deep umbrella.|
|O35||1||10||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||3|
|Banks(-1) crushed back by a double and puts the LBs in a tough spot. Obi(+0.5) is scraping over the top and does a pretty good job of constricting space. Mouton(+1) attacks the Black block, hitting the outside guy before he can release into the second level and driving him back, messing up the other pulling guard's flight path. This allows Demens(+0.5) to scrape through the line without getting clubbed and tackle near the LOS.|
|O38||2||7||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Martin||-3|
|A stunt by Michigan frees Martin. RVB(+1) crashes inside, taking his blocker and smashing into the C who's supposed to deal with Martin. This allows Martin(+1) to run down the line, and since Avery(+1!) was the functional spur on this play and bashed the TE he's in a great spot to force an uncomfortable bounce that Martin swallows. (RPS+2)|
|Four man line with Carvin Johnson hanging out as a linebacker in a middle zone. Black(+0.5) gets enough of a rush to push Tolzien up in the pocket and force a checkdown to the RB (cover +1). Mouton(-1) overruns it and while he can recover to tackle he can't do so before Wisconsin converts.|
|Vinopal rolls up as an OLB. Why? I don't know. He rushes as others drop off on play action; Tolzien has all day (pressure -3) and can comfortably zing in a wheel route to Kendricks that Obi(-1, cover -1) can't keep up on. Not really his fault, he's just too slow. (RPS -1)|
|O21||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Rogers||1|
|Kind of an odd playcall as Michigan has Gordon lined up right over the slot. Rogers(+1) attacks the corner trying to block him and ends up running him over. He's prone at the LOS, where he forces Toon to jump over him. Gordon falls over the mess but Toon's elbow hits and he doesn't get a killer gain. Still dodgy.|
|O20||2||9||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Waggle TE flat||Ezeh||13|
|Rollout to the two TE side with one guy releasing right downfield into a pass pattern and the other blocking down on RVB to force him inside before releasing into the flat. Ezeh(-1, cover -1) rides the instant release guy downfield and then cannot get out on the edge to cover the flat guy--he can't even get over to tackle on a five yard catch. TE turns it up and it's first and goal.|
|O7||1||G||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||2|
|Banks(+1) takes a double and holds at the LOS. He threatens to slant inside and takes both blockers with him. Mouton(+0.5) runs up to the LOS to take on the lead guy and with Martin(+0.5) taking two himself Kovacs and Demens are unblocked and can tackle.|
|O5||2||G||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Mouton||5 (Pen -15)|
|Mouton(-1) attacks a lead blocker well until he reaches the contact point, where he fails to get outside. All he has to do is turn it up and Demens and or pursuit will take the play out since Demens(+0.5) read and reacted too fast for the releasing G and turned him into a spectator. Touchdown comes back on an irrelevant chop block.|
|O20||2||G||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Dumpoff||?||7|
|Coverage(+1) is good deep and Tolzien checks down for a decent chunk. In the situation I think this is fine.|
|A give-up-and kick since this is a three yard hitch. Guess he didn't like his other options(cover +1). Rogers(+1, tackling +1) is there to shut it down immediately.|
|Drive Notes: FG(25), 0-10, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Pass||4||PA post||Avery?||30|
|Tolzien gets lit up by Martin(+1, pressure +1) as he throws but gets the ball off on a deep post that's behind Mouton and Demens and in front of Avery. No idea who's responsible this time, but lean towards Mouton or Avery since Demens was well inside of where the ball went. (Cover -3)|
|M45||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Hitch||Mouton?||10|
|Plenty of time (pressure -2) and Tolzien zings one in to Kendricks at the sticks. Mouton with an immediate tackle.|
|M35||1||10||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Van Bergen||8|
|Another massive cutback lane as RVB(-1) is easily kicked out and removed from the play. He ends up pancaked outside the hash. The linebackers flow to the frontside, which just gets Mouton erased by a guard; Kovacs(-1) is in overhang mode and is late to react; Fitzgerald comes from behind to ankle tackle.|
|M27||2||2||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Martin||0|
|Attempted single block of Martin(+1) ends up with the C getting stood up two yards in the backfield. Roh(+1) slanted under a kickout block at first, then that guy gets his position back. He's given up too much ground, though: Roh spins off him and the two DL meet the RB in the backfield.|
|M27||3||2||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Vinopal||27|
|Vinopal(-1) is an eighth guy in the box and doesn't react appropriately when he sees the down block. He should shuffle down the LOS and cut the pulling guard to create a pile and bounce the play. Instead he runs into the FB and physics owns him. Carvin Johnson is at spur; he runs unabated from the outside and gets a diving arm tackle attempt on Ball; Ball runs through it. Demens(-1) and Mouton(-0.5) got eaten by blocks and couldn't help despite the slowdown; Demens was closer to the play and didn't read it fast enough to get in the hole; he also loses it to the outside. Two UW guys are now running downfield to pick up Avery, the FS; he gets run out of the play. Rogers(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and can stop this after about ten; he whiffs.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-17, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA Dumpoff||Mouton||9|
|Vinopal sent as the fourth rusher as he was lined up as an OLB. He actually does a decent job to get around the RB and with a little help from Martin pressures Tolzien into a throw. It's a dumpoff to the tailback, but Mouton(-1, cover -1) is so far off the TB can turn upfield and get five YAC. Frustrating when the dumpoffs are almost first downs.|
|O25||2||1||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Pass||4||PA quick out||Gordon||14|
|Coverage(+1) good deep and Tolzein has to check down after again being given all kinds of time (pressure -2). This will get the first and a few more until Cam Gordon(-2, tackling -2) gets depressingly run over by Kendricks and gives up ten extra yards.|
|O39||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Mouton||61|
|We get like no good camera angles. Mouton(-2) again gets inside a blocker and lets his guy outside. Demens(-2) was thunderously chopped by the center; RVB(-1) and Fitzgerald(-1) were easily sealed by down blocks. Alignment of the LBs was such that this was easy, I think. You're shifted away from the strength of the formation here so if they can downblock our guys on the line you're screwed. RPS -2.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-24, 2 min 2nd Q. Gallon fumbles the ensuing kickoff.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M27||1||10||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||5|
|Banks(-1) crushed and pancaked by a double. Mouton(+1) gets upfield into the pulling G quickly, hitting him at the LOS and getting outside. This picks off both lead blockers. Demens had no chance to scrape because of the Banks pancake, leaving Avery(-0.5, tackling -1), the overhang guy, alone in space; his ankle tackle is run through and Wisconsin grabs five.|
|M22||2||5||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||3|
|Patterson(-1) blown off the line, allowing UW to crush Demens, again lined up about a yard off his NT. Mouton(+2) evades his blocker and scrapes past the Patterson mess to meet the RB in the hole, standing him up with help from Demens.|
|M19||3||2||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA corner||Roger||Int|
|Good coverage(+2) all around, with Gordon maybe intentionally bashing a TE heading for the flat so Kovacs can get out on him. Tolzien makes a terrible decision to throw to a bracketed WR on a corner route that Rogers(+2) attacks to intercept.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-24, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||4|
|Michigan late getting aligned and this shot is way removed so it's hard to tell exactly what's going on but this is an adjustment, with Carvin Johnson farther outside. This prevents him from getting down-blocked. The TE can't do much with him and the pulling guards end up neutralized at the LOS. RB has to cut inside. Black shot directly upfield and gave up a big hole but I think that's on purpose since if he gets downblocked he's useless and he might as well terrorize the QB on play action. Michigan will do this most of the half. Mouton(+1) evades a releasing OL, coming upfield of him and flowing down the line to tackle. Pile falls forward.|
|O31||2||6||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Pass||Rollout scramble||Johnson||2|
|Seems like a UW bust as they have two WRs within a couple yards of each other and Johnson covering(+1) both. Vinopal charges in and gets uselessly chopped; Demens(+0.5) is out on the edge and shoves Tolzien OOB as he nears the LOS.|
|O33||3||4||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Demens||6|
|Zone coverage looks coherent on this play as Mouton gets drawn deep by a vertical release from the single receiver. Avery has a wheel coming out of the backfield. Both are covered, so Tolzien's third option is a drag that Demens correctly diagnoses is his and follows, but follows a step too late. Receiver catches and turns it up for the first down; Demens(+1) and Avery(+1) combine to jar the ball free as he does so. Mouton jumps on it.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-24, 9 min 3rd Q. IT'S PEANUT BEAVER JELLY TIME|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||I-form big||Base 3-4||Pass||Scramble||Mouton||5|
|Good coverage(+2) forces Tolzien to scramble as he rolls to the sideline, but Mouton(-1) doesn't realize he needs to attack and gives up six yards that could be two.|
|O36||2||5||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||5|
|Line and LBs not on same page, as the line slants its way to the left, which is good. There's nothing on the frontside and Martin(+0.5) got a quick attack that got a releasing G off balance so Mouton(-1) is totally unblocked as the RB cuts it back; Demens absorbs the FB heading backside. Mouton hesitates and only gets a weak ankle tackle. I guess you could get on Black for getting pushed down the line too far but here there's one place for the RB to go, no one blocking the LB filling, and they still get five yards.|
|O41||1||10||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Avery||4|
|Van Bergen(+0.5) takes a momentary double and holds; Demens again close to the LOS and threatens to shoot into the backfield so the interior guy has to peel off quickly. Kovacs(+0.5) sets up well outside. Mouton(+0.5) takes on a pulling G at the LOS and the RB almost trips as there's not much room at all; Avery(-0.5) misses a tackle(-1) and Wisconsin gets a decent gain.|
|O45||2||6||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Run||Delay||Mouton||14|
|Martin(+0.5) again absorbs a double long enough to delay the release of the C, so no one is on Mouton. Heininger is slanting inside and gets sealed away, so the play is going outside. Vinopal avoids a cut block but runs upfield; Demens(+0.5) gets outside his blocker and forces the play back into Mouton(-2), who completely whiffs the tackle(-2) and turns like three yards into a big gain.|
|M41||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Iso||Banks||2|
|So this is how I think the earlier iso wants to be defended. Line slants playside hard, with Banks(+1) getting under the TE. Tackle released downfield but on the previous play the DE was just sitting outside, not driving down. Patterson(+0.5) gets a good push and stays at the line; Demens plugs a guard in the hole thanks to his position. No holes; Black(+1) swam past the tackle and the two DEs swallow the RB at the LOS.|
|M39||2||8||Ace twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Johnson||12|
|Again Johnson is outside the TE and he has to go downfield to find someone to block, but this time Johnson(-2) kind of hangs out casually on the edge, waiting for the pulling OL to get there. Given the sizes involved he needs to run up and cut the lead guy to the ground, making an ugly pile. Instead he stands up, gets inside the lead guy, and ends up sealed off five yards downfield. Demens charged up between the two guards and got cut by the second but because of the Johnson error it didn't really matter what he did; that could have actually been good. Ezeh's getting out on the edge; he gets pushed past the play via no fault of his own. A note: Black had not accepted the down block this time and was fighting to the ball. Mouton(-0.5) also sucked up oddly, though he recovers to tackle; could have been short of the sticks maybe otherwise.|
|M27||1||10||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||4|
|Well defensed, with Mouton(+1) and Ezeh(+1) attacking and getting to blockers at the LOS; no creases. RVB(-1) had been doubled and tried to fight through it but just ended up getting blown off the line, so momentum allows Wisconsin to lurch forward for a decent gain.|
|M23||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Heininger||23|
|This is odd and I think Mouton does something fairly right that ends up being terrible. UW blocks down on the one guy they can, RVB, who does the thing where he tries to shoot upfield for play action. Two blockers release downfield to get Demens and Mouton; M is playside of both. Mouton suddenly takes a vertical flight path past one and shoots upfield, where the second pulling guard stops to wall him off. This leaves Demens dealing with two guys; the guy who's supposed to get Kovacs, the overhang guy, has now been removed by Mouton. RB has to cut back as Kovacs attacks, leaving the backside pursuit to run the play down. This is Will Heininger(-2), getting his first action of the year. Heininger is rusty, coming off an injury, and a walk-on. His angle is too close to the LOS and he doesn't have the athleticism to make up for it, diving at the RB's legs and getting his tackle(-1) run through, at which point White is off to the races. Vinopal(-1) is late getting to the POA at the sticks; Heininger did slow him down but no one could get there.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-31, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M45||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Mouton||1|
|Somewhat similar but Michigan's LBs are not running down the line as far; Mouton is inside this time and again goes upfield of his blocker as Demens heads out. Mouton(+2) swims past the pulling G and tackles for a minimal gain by himself.|
|M44||2||9||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||?||18|
|Banks slants inside the G, which I assume is what he's supposed to do. Play ends up going directly outside of him. Vinopal(-1) is blitzing from the outside and just runs way upfield out of the play uselessly, opening up a huge hole. Demens is getting blocked by the tackle and Mouton hangs back because another massive cutback lane has opened with Van Bergen again getting sealed out of the play. Martin can't quite get to the RB to close off the hole. With Mouton seriously delayed Demens(-1) and Martin(-1) get split for a big gain. RPS –1.|
|M26||1||10||I-form twins||Base 3-4||Run||Iso||Mouton||1|
|Good God. RVB shoots upfield immediately outside of the tackle. With Martin slanting playside and Demens headed there too this opens up a cavern for the tailback. Fullback does well to read the jammed up frontside and cut back; Mouton(+3) sets him up inside, gives the back the impression he should cut it out, dodges the FB block, and tackles for a one yard gain. All in a days work. RPS -1.|
|M25||2||9||I-form big||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Martin||3|
|Van Bergen is left unblocked and flies upfield as linebackers fill behind him. I'm not sure what he's doing in this game but either he's confused or someone else is because it doesn't make sense. He's upfield, preventing a cutback. Ezeh gets blocked by a guard; Demens is free behind him but has to cut one way or the other; tough. Fortunately, Martin(+1) shoves the center back and the RB trips.|
|M22||3||6||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Avery||15|
|This actually looks like a WVU stack with the MLB six yards deep. This is irrelevant to the play. Mouton(+1) gets playside of a releasing TE and avoids a cut. He's there to absorb a block, so Avery(-2) just has to keep contain and Kovacs can clean up for a FG attempt. He gets obliterated and gives up the corner. Kovacs(-1) has a shot but whiffs a shoulder tackle(-1), and blah blah blah.|
|M7||1||G||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Mouton||4|
|Same thing. Mouton(+1) gets playside of the TE again and forces an awkward bounce; Kovacs(-1) stops dead for some reason and gives up the corner.|
|M3||2||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Kovacs||3|
|Bounced out to Kovacs(-1) and if he was attacking could be a no gain; instead he is slow to react and it is three yards.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-38, 14 min 4th Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Ace big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Heininger||8|
|Demens aligned behind Patterson as this line is unbalanced, two yards off the LOS. Patterson(+1) does a good job to get playside of his blocker, forcing a cutback. Demens gets blown up by the guard; Heininger(-1) got scooped on the backside; Ezeh(-1) also is walled off and well out of the play. Cutback lane, yards, etc.|
|M32||2||2||Ace big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||2|
|Patterson(+0.5) stands up his blocker and pushes outside, which cuts off the space between himself and Patterson. Running lane is now further inside and it's filled by Mouton(+1), who darted past the OL assigned to him and doesn't get burned because of the Patterson play. Ball still gets the two he needs.|
|M30||1||10||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||1|
|Banks(+0.5) takes a double and gets pushed down the line but slowly and doesn't get blown off the ball. Hole is pretty small. Kovacs takes the outside. Mouton(+0.5) turns it inside at the LOS. Ezeh(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) scrape to the ball, with Ezeh getting a break when UW's OL stumbles as he tries to get out on him. He takes on the last lead blocker and Demens tackles.|
|M29||2||9||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Iso||Kovacs||3|
|Same story here: DT and Demens both hit the playside A gap hard; Mouton flows, too, leaving a huge cutback lane. Kovacs(+1) fills relatively quickly.|
|M26||3||6||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Van Bergen||2|
|RVB(+1) refuses the down block, getting outside his TE and driving into the second of the pulling linemen. A cutback forced, RB is run down by Heininger from behind and Mouton(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5), who beat blocks.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 21-41, 9 min 4th Q. Wisconsin gets the ball back after an onside kick and goes down and scores but with the ball, six minutes, and a thirteen point lead it's academic. Not charted.|
Why did you do this?
I have responsibilities to people!
Seriously, there is something wrong with you.
I stopped before the last touchdown drive, at least. That was theoretically important still.
No it wasn't since everyone on the planet knew they would run and score.
Chart, you'll see this in numbers:
|Van Bergen||3||6||-3||Did not make many plays; seemed to give up big cutback lanes easily. Maybe an RPS thing.|
|Martin||8.5||2||6.5||One old-style I destroy this play plus a few more scattered good bits and some half points.|
|Black||2.5||1||1.5||Less of an issue, I guess.|
|Roh||3.5||2||1.5||Basically one nice play and then not much.|
|TOTAL||24.5||21||3.5||This is very very bad, especially because the pressure metric is –10 on 15 throws. The DL did virtually nothing.|
|Ezeh||2||5||-3||A couple minuses in coverage. Wasn't a huge problem on the ground.|
|Mouton||19||11||8||Made a lot of very tough plays. Blew some others but I thought he had an excellent day amongst a sea of bleah.|
|C. Gordon||-||4.5||-4.5||Not involved much and didn't do well when he was.|
|Johnson||-||2||-2||Error on a down G was painful.|
|Demens||6.5||6||0.5||Variety of half points, a couple of instances where he got cut like whoah.|
|Fitzgerald||-||5.5||-5.5||Reason he's behind Ezeh.|
|TOTAL||27.5||33.5||-6||Nevermind about the linebackers when they don't have to defend passes.|
|Kovacs||3.5||6||-2.5||Did not tackle well.|
|Talbott||-||-||-||Not involved on his few plays.|
|Avery||2.5||3||-0.5||Maybe should have been harsher on him in overhang mode.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||3||-3||Questionable deployment.|
|TOTAL||9||13||-4||Also not so good.|
|Coverage||10||12||-2||Scrambles made even the good coverage bad plays.|
[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
Note that the "Pressure" metric was developed to get a sense for how the defensive line is doing at getting to the QB and most of the responsibility for making it not –10 in 15 throws is on the DL, so that vaguely positive number above should be taken in context. Also the system has traditionally slanted towards the DL and coming out even as a DE is not a good day.
So that's comprehensive.
Yes, it is. What is there to say?
Isn't it my job to ask questions?
What would you like to know?
Is this a reference to "questions" from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
Are you suggesting that I am emphasizing the foolish pointlessness of this exercise?
Why, God, why?
You win. Seriously, folks, I'd like to have something new and interesting to say about the defense at this juncture but I don't. I don't really understand what the defense is supposed to be doing, the players can't execute in any case, and the whole thing is such a shambles it's hard to figure out who did something bad on most plays. Like… I can tell what goes wrong here:
Demens doesn't react fast enough to the crossing route to tackle it. Okay, fine, that's tough and it happens to defenses all the time. Good conversion, six yards, okay. Fumble tacked on the end is a bonus for the D but fundamentally they got beat and I know why.
Okay, Will Heininger misses a tackle and takes a bad angle, but even if he tackles it's like five to eight yards. Mouton's all jetting up into the play and Kovacs is slow and I could say that but I saw Wisconsin succeed on this play in five different ways. I'm not really sure what they're trying to do or why it's not working.
Mouton was doing valiant work most of the day. Martin had the best day other than him.
What does it mean for Ohio State?
Super fun times.
Taking stock during the bye week.
People thought I was depressive when the secondary preview started "what's the point of anything?"
WHO'S DEPRESSIVE NOW!?!?! YEAHHHHH. Score one for cold-eyed realism. This could be the worst secondary in a BCS conference. It's definitely the worst in Michigan history.
Anyway, cornerback got a 1 and I thought about breaking the rules to go lower:
Nothing has ever gotten a zero before even jokingly, not even the 2008 offensive line that consisted of seven guys who could plausibly play and actually started a defensive tackle who had been switched in the middle of fall camp. But I thought about it here. What Michigan has to offer at corner is going to be substandard unless a great miracle falls from the sky, and will probably be no better than last year's fare even before Woolfolk moved.
Some vague hopes were offered for JT Floyd despite his ugly, brief tenure as the starter opposite Donovan Warren once Boubacar Cissoko went ham. These were based on constant positive reinforcement from the coaches and the occasional mysterious practice observer, with the latter given more credence because they didn't have an obvious ulterior motive. "Average" was the "best anyone could hope for," though.
Opposite Floyd I took a wild guess that Cullen Christian would end up starting—if not immediately by the time the Big Ten season hit—because he was the most highly-touted recruit and was not James Rogers. Avery and Talbott were regarded as basically identical recruits who needed a year and 20 pounds before seeing the field. They wouldn't be allowed that luxury.
At safety 2 was offered, "generously." Jordan Kovacs was said to be totally incapable of playing a deep half but "pretty good as a tiny linebacker." In sum:
So Kovacs is going to have to cover a deep half sometimes. This won't go very well, and Michigan's defense will be limited by it. On the other hand, the run defense shouldn't be nearly as bad with Kovacs filling the weakside alley; last year he racked up 75 tackles despite the late start. Marvin Robinson will press Kovacs for his job, but probably not take it. Iowa and Wisconsin have gotten away with players like him for years.
At free safety, Cam Gordon was named the Grady Brooks memorial King of Spring Hype. The usual accolades were relayed, the thing about how he should probably be a linebacker mentioned, and a projection of a sort offered:
As a redshirt freshman, a "big year" would be wrapping up his tackles and not letting anyone behind him for crippling long touchdowns. … Repeating [Brandon Englemon's] +0.7 per game would go a very long way towards bringing Michigan's defense back from the dead. That's optimistic. Cam Gordon will chase more than a couple opponents into the endzone. But not on third and twenty-four.
Fast forward to NOW!
nothing really matters… anyone can see… that nothing really matters to meeeeeeeeeee
Depressingly accurate overall even considering the original depression that was depressing. Michigan is 118th in pass defense and 94th in efficiency.
Maybe the corners have been slightly less atrocious than expected, but Michigan's been limited when they try to play man coverage because things like Iowa's last touchdown happen when they do. On that play, Michigan sent the house and JT Floyd gave up a slant despite starting with inside leverage. They make plays on occasion, but lord they're not good. Michigan's defense is limited in the same way their offense was in 2008—with deficiencies that severe man coverage is a dangerous gamble every time it's deployed.
Floyd is significantly improved, so there's that. He's still below average. He's not a total liability. On the other side, Michigan hasn't been able to displace Rogers despite his tendency to go into anaphylactic shock whenever he comes within five yards of an opponent wide receiver…
OH MY GOD WHAT DID YOU DO BATHE IN CAT HAIR
…because the freshmen have been playing like typical three-star true freshmen: badly. They first started rotating into the lineup against BG; since then
- Cullen Christian was burned twice against BG and gave up an easy long touchdown against Michigan State,
- Terrence Talbott was primarily responsible for turning third and fifteen into first and ten on Michigan State's second touchdown drive and gave Indiana their last touchdown by dragging out of his zone, and
- Courtney Avery was personally responsible for large chunks of Indiana yards, gave up a touchdown on third and ten against Iowa by dragging out of his zone, and turned what should have been another third and ten stop into a whiffed tackle, 20 yards, and the field goal that was the final nail in Michigan's coffin.
This is disappointing, especially Christian's failure to beat out not only Rogers but apparently his classmates. Talbott and Avery feature in the nickel and dime packages while Christian backed up the outside guy; he has apparently lost that job. too—Avery came in against Iowa when JT Floyd missed a few plays.
At safety, Kovacs has been Kovacs. He's small, he's not very fast, but he's probably the team's best tackler and he's been in the right spot more often than anyone on the defense. This has resulted in a bunch of UFRs where he's got several half-points in each direction and comes out at zero. He could be the fifth-best player on a good defense.
Cam Gordon has been rough, honestly little better than the mess Michigan threw out last year. He racked up a double-digit negative day against Notre Dame and followed that up with another one against Michigan State. His angles have been too aggressive or too conservative with little porridge in-between, and he's failed to shake a nasty habit of not wrapping up his tackles. He's pretty good running downhill, and that's about it. Preseason hype has given way to cold reality. Gordon is a redshirt freshman converted wide receiver who should probably be playing linebacker. He plays safety like he's a bowling ball: he goes fast in one direction and hopes to knock over the pins with momentum because he has no arms.
Fast forward to LATER!
What can we expect the rest of the year? Pain, but less of it.
Rodriguez made an offhand comment about maybe moving someone from one safety spot to another when discussing the possibility of a Will Campbell move, but that would either be Jordan Kovacs or Marvin Robinson. Kovacs's tenure at deep safety last year was hardly less disastrous than that of Mike William or Gordon; Marvin Robinson is yet another freshman who is likely to make the same sorts of mistakes.
Gordon's it unless Michigan wants to turn to true freshman two-star Ray Vinopal, who picked off a pass from a third-string Bowling Green walk-on and has therefore made the best play by a Michigan safety in the last ten years. I'm not sure if that's a joke.
Floyd's not very good, Rogers is what he is at this point, and the freshmen are clearly not instant impact types, except insofar as they give up an extra touchdown per game than a Michigan secondary featuring Troy Woolfolk. That is an impact, just not the one you're hoping for.
Your best hopes the rest of the year:
- Courtney Avery learns WTF a zone is and how to play it.
- Cam Gordon's angles and tackling improve marginally.
- JT Floyd progresses towards average and at least gets basic things right.
Actually, your best hope is this: Michigan did okay against the two rookies and/or flat bad quarterbacks they've faced to date. Zack Fraser didn't do anything. ND's three-headed QB was contained. Bowling Green couldn't do much of anything. Michigan's next three opponents all feature freshmen at QB; they're ranked 104th (PSU), 105th (Illinois), and 107th (Purdue) in passing efficiency. They're bound to be less effective than the last three guys, a senior returning starter, junior returning starter, and senior returning starter who are all in the top 30 in passer efficiency. Tolzien will shred, but who knows what Terrelle Pryor will do? (Probably shred, actually—he has no problems against awful Ds this year.)
By the end of the year Michigan's numbers will be slightly less grim as the schedule eases and the freshmen learn WTF a zone is. They will still be grim.
SO DID EVERYONE HAVE FUN LAST NIGHT CAN I GET A HELL YEA
YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHH GIVE ME A FUCKIN' OTTER
THE DEPTH CHART AT CORNER
1. DONOVAN WARREN
2. TROY WOOLFOLK
3. TLOY WOORFORK
4. JUSTIN TURNER
5. DEMAR DORSEY
6. BOUBACAR CISSOKO
8. THIS GUY WHO TILTS HIS HEAD IN A NON-CONFIDENCE INSPIRING WAY
9. RICHARD NIXON
HE DOESN'T EVEN KNOW WHICH HATS ARE UGLY YET
12. NIXON AGAIN
13. JAMES ROGERS
…WAIT, SERIOUSLY, SAMMY DAVIS JUNIOR?
In isolation, Laval Lucas-Perry's exit from the basketball program is not a big deal. Last year his offensive rating and effective field goal percentages checked in lower than notable bricklayer Stu Douglass. For perspective, this is what Douglass managed in 2010:
Stu Douglass … had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage.
Being less efficient on offense than a guy who is in turn less efficient than a 5-25 SWAC team is quite a trick, and not one that indicates fans are going to spend draft night two years hence punching the wall because you went in the lottery. As departures go, LLP's is more Kelvin Grady than Ekpe Udoh.
Unfortunately, that attempt to dismiss the impact of the departure overlooks one key item: this basketball team actually needed Kelvin Grady. I keep on this like a broken record, but the team's best three-point shooter in 2009 other than the departed CJ Lee was none other than Grady. Whatever deficiencies he had as a player probably wouldn't have kept him off the floor in a year when no one could dribble or find the backboard in three tries. Next year, the basketball program will need Lucas-Perry and won't have him. It would be nice if Michigan's program was the sort that could sustain the loss of a guy like LLP without blinking. It's not.
So LLP's exit does not come in isolation. It comes in the midst of this:
Last year’s off-season was the epitome of stability and optimism. I spent the summer blogging about which national reporter had Michigan in his preseason top 15 and how Michigan was hot on the heels on Casey Prather and Trey Zeigler. This summer is the polar opposite — the news continues to revolve around a mass exodus of bodies out of Ann Arbor. One early entry. Three assistant coaching departures. One dismissal. Just four returning players who have played in a collegiate game.
Add in the crippling transfer of a player already on campus that leaves one position shockingly bereft of experience and talent plus an early entry into a draft that has no interest in the entrant and the basketball program is acquiring a distinct whiff of whatever horrible thing has plagued the football team since Rich Rodriguez took the job. We went into 2009 hoping the football program would mirror the basketball program; we go into 2010 fearing the reverse. Beilein tossed Rodriguez a rope and started pulling him out of the quicksand only to find himself waist-deep in turnover, facing down an almost assuredly lost year spent trying to get a bunch of underclassmen to stop running into each other.
UMHoops calls the above an "ominous sign" and it's hard to disagree. Momentum may be a hugely overrated concept when it comes to individual games, but on a program level it's not. Michigan had an opportunity to establish itself an up-and-coming program last year only to totally blow it on and off the field. Now instead of enduring an understandable bump in the road as the last of the Amaker players give way to Beilein's recruits, the bump is the anomalous NCAA year that establishes nothing. It's a dead cat bounce. Now we've got as much kick as Penn State does over the last decade. Hoorah.
I've previously said that I think Beilein's going to get a fifth year no matter what happens in 2010 and that year six probably requires no more than an upward trajectory from whatever filthy pile of used needles the team spends next offseason in. The dismissal of one role player doesn't change that, but it does add to the pile of foreboding tidings surrounding the team and how likely it ever is to get off the mat and become consistently decent. That was Beilein's promise: consistently decent or better.
If it's hard to see that happening at the moment, it's equally hard to see how a Michigan administration is going to find anyone more likely to pull that off. They aren't going to hire a coach with the tiniest hint of skeeze. Trying to be a basketball power without skeeze when you're an hour an a half away from school with the country's best performance-to-skeeze ratio is almost impossible. And firing the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee a couple years after self-administering a stern talking-to for the first time in the history of your football program is going to be a bridge too far for the administration unless they have no other choice. Beilein will be handed every opportunity to get things moving in the right direction.
You can put together a scenario where Smotrycz is Pittsnogle II and Hardaway is a diamond in the rough and a roster pushing 6'6" average height is a tough nut to crack defensively and there's an NIT bid next year and an NCAA bid in 2011 and Brundidge comes in and is Rodney Stuckey and etc etc etc. You'd have to be a little daft to expect it, though. Michigan basketball looks to be stuck in this amazing limbo where there's little expectation of success for the next three years and little recourse despite that.
But have I mentioned Carl Hagelin?