Hello Kip. Harbaugh Twitter Summer continues unabated.
— Maurice Hurst Jr (@BigPappi73) July 21, 2015
This fall Gedeon answers press conference questions by saying things are getting pretty serious and stating that he loves technology. Bank on it.
Finally. #M00N makes Erase This Game. The Funchess butt fumble is not even mentioned. That's how #M00N #M00N was.
M00N is a sad game, and some of that tragedy comes from the advantage of hindsight. Winning didn't save Michigan's season or Brady Hoke's job, as they followed this with a home finale loss to Maryland. Losing didn't inspire Northwestern to a turnaround; even though they beat Notre Dame a week later, the Wildcats missed bowl eligibility by losing to a depleted Illinois team in their last game. That's the bad news.
The good news is every astronaut gets astronaut ice cream. Let's check out today's flavors.
I have been eating Cookies 'N Ennui for a long time now.
Okay. Former TE/DE Keith Heitzman is at Ohio for his final year of eligibility. The Dispatch has an article that's trying to rake up some muck on a standard practice in college:
Keith Heitzman understood that big changes were in order after Jim Harbaugh was hired to replace Brady Hoke as Michigan football coach just hours before the New Year.
What staggered Heitzman was that he might have been one of those changes. Every player going into his fifth year of eligibility, he was told, would have to audition for his job during spring practices.
Heitzman, degree in hand, opted out. That's fine for him and fine for Michigan.
The worst thing you can pin on Harbaugh is a lack of tact. We will put this evidence of Harbaugh's lack of tact in the extradimensional bag of holding. There it can mingle with its fellows and not fill the universe stem to stern.
For perspective, over the years I've read plenty of articles that reference Notre Dame's policy in this department. They come at it from the other direction, wondering not who might be departing but who might be coming back:
The future for the remaining 14 seniors on the roster, all of whom are eligible for a fifth year, is less certain. … At the most, half of them will return. Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class sits at 21 verbal commitments, which, if all 21 sign letters of intent in February, will give the Irish 78 scholarship players of the 85 the NCAA allows.
All of ND's seniors walk on senior day, even if they have another year of eligibility. That's how much of a non-story this is.
"It happens," said the jaded boat owner. SCUFFLE KERFUFFLE ON THE WATER
The Border Battle played a role in getting two people arrested and locked up at the Ottawa County Jail.
A Michigan-Ohio State football argument on the Jet Express allegedly prompted a fight that resulted in assault charges.
Witnesses say the rivalry argument turned physical between two couples with a woman pulling another woman’s hair and the two men throwing punches at each other.
1. The "Jet Express" is so well known in Ottawa County that there is no explanation of what it is. There is a picture of a boat.
I assume it's the boat. Ottawa County readers are boggling at my ignorance right now. The Jet Express is Ottawa County.
2. This was undoubtedly issued with a grim sigh.
"It happens,” says Todd Blumensaadt, owner of the Jet Express. “They get very passionate about their teams."
You see a lot of things when you own a boat. Most of them are stupid.
3. This man is either named "Larry Money" or "Larry Mahoney"—the article is uncertain—and has a hot take.
"Sports are good, but when it reaches that point, obviously it's way overboard."
Good point, Larry Money Mahoney. OR SHOULD I CALL YOU ADAM MONEY JACOBI?
4. Ace grabbed a "Money" Mahoney screenshot:
Is he Carl Monday's brother? That's not generally how names work but we've already established that Gary Money Mahoney is not beholden to your "rules" about nomenclature, man.
5. This reporter may have had to scrounge up quotes for this dumb story, wondering the whole time how she was ever going to pay off her Princeton J-school student loans, but at least she's not working for Gawker.
6. I may have spent too much time on this.
1977 pep rally. Featuring Bo! He guarantees a win! They burn an OSU player in effigy! They wear 70s clothes! The reporter's jacket!
Michigan won 14-6. Harbaugh was probably at the pep rally and knew Bo had zero basis for getting mad at him when he issued his guarantee.
Surprise. That CSG survey they did in the middle of the general admission fiasco makes the WSJ because it appears to be the first serious attempt to figure out what the kids actually want at football games. A company has just confirmed that with a much larger survey that somehow surprises the author:
The most recent support for this surprising result comes from a new survey by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and Oregon’s sports marketing center. It asked almost 24,000 students across the country to rank the factors that influenced their decision to attend games. By far the most important was a student’s interest in that sport. By far the least important was a stadium’s cellular reception or wireless capability.
The study is so counterintuitive that it seems like it must be an outlier—except that it is supported by similar polls in places where college football is massively popular.
At Michigan, when the student government asked undergraduates why they go to football games, what they found clashed with conventional wisdom: Michigan’s students simply didn’t care that much about mobile connectivity. In-game Wi-Fi wasn’t as essential as lower ticket prices or better seat locations. Among the seven possible improvements to the game-day experience, in fact, students ranked cell reception last.
I'm not sure where that notion came from, other than the sort of gentleman who talks about social engagement and uses hashtags# like coffee dad. And it's not like they even fixed mobile connectivity at Michigan despite thinking that was the most important thing they could do.
Gonna get paid. I don't think Jim Delany has much to do with it, but Lost Letterman points out that the Big Ten is likely to get paid when their contract—the last to get renegotiated for a long time—comes up:
Since launching FOX Sports 1 two summers ago, FOX has been waiting for its chance to put a huge monkey wrench in ESPN’s world dominance of sports. This is that chance.
The Big 10’s 10-year, $1 billion contract with ESPN and six-year, $72 million deal with CBS for select basketball games and six-year, $145 million pact for the Big 10 Championship Game all expire after the 2016-17 season and a new, gargantuan deal will be struck within the next 12 months.
The only two legitimate TV players for the conference’s Tier 1 football rights (best games) are Disney (ABC/ESPN) and FOX, as CBS already has the Tier 1 rights to the SEC and NBC is content airing Notre Dame home games.
The only thing we know for certain is that the Big 10 is about to get paid.
Delany will get the credit for being the camel herder who sat down on this particular patch of oil again, when literally anyone could sit in a room and watch FOX and ESPN go blow for blow. The Big Ten will use this money to hire more MAC coaches.
Best make your money now, though: ESPN is 20th(!) on the list of a la carte channels people would pay for. Barking Carnival has an excellent article on the coming cord cutting that touches on points I've made and continues with them.
Etc.: Michigan's schmancy new dorm. When I was in college the dorms were made out of mildew and we liked it. Predicting Michigan's win total with SCIENCE. Extremely early Utah preview from SBN's Ian Boyd. Someone has to make the tough decisions like "let's play a game in Dubai." Harbaugh antics.
Also via his instagram. Like Bellomy and Hayes, Heitzman has a degree and fifth year to play elsewhere. He moved to tight end last year in an effort to get some blocking at that position but didn't play much; with the rest of the TE corps returning plus one or two recruits and Bunting coming off a redshirt he didn't figure to get more playing time this year.
Current scholarship count remains fuzzy since there are a number of walk-ons who may or may not have earned a full-time gig. Our current assumption is that both Glasgows are on scholarship but Joe Kerridge and Kenny Allen are first-in-line types who aren't figuring in Michigan's recruiting plans. If that's the case, Michigan currently stands at 15 slots.
Drake Johnson, Ann Arbor native and dual-sport star at the unparalleled Pioneer High School, broke the century mark and scored two touchdowns on Saturday. His second trip to the end zone looked pretty dang cool:
Even cooler was seeing his mother, longtime M cheerleading coach Pam St. John, allowing herself a moment to admire the TD and let it all soak in:
This season—and Saturday's weather—may have turned warm hearts to icy stone, but that'll reverse the process in a hurry.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the Indiana game in GIFs.]
Butt don't fail me now [Adam Glanzman]
|Joe Kerridge||Jr.*||Khalid Hill||Fr.*||AJ Williams||Jr.||Jake Butt||So.|
|Sione Houma||Jr.||Wyatt Shallman||Fr.*||Keith Heitzman||Jr.*||Ian Bunting||Fr.|
Just when we'd split out the various gradations in blocky-catchy guys into its own section of the preview, Al Borges had to go and get himself fired. Cumong, man.
They're all still on the roster and Michigan's going to try to use them so we're sticking with it. This section of the preview consists of everyone who isn't quite a skill position player and isn't quite an offensive linemen. Let's reprise last year's explanation of what is what to orient ourselves:
- FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head who runs into linebackers, gets two carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley.
- U-BACK: A "move" tight end who motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea.
- TIGHT END: Larger that the U-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: Tyler Ecker.
- FLEX: Sort of like the U-back in that he rarely lines up on the line of scrimmage itself, but if he motions away from his spot near the line, it's not to fullback but wide receiver. They get a billion catches and break Jim Mandich's record eventually. See: every ND tight end ever.
And of course many of these people bleed into other categories. Think of these position designations as Gaussian distributions in close proximity to each other.
Kerridge hits his upperclass years, also linebackers [Maize and Blue News]
Same guys, potentially less of a role. Doug Nussmeier comes from a one-back coaching tree, and one-back guys are usually a lot more interested in putting two tight ends on the field than a fullback, because fullbacks don't threaten vertically. Given the situation at tight end and the need to bash out a yard or three on the regular, these guys will still be involved. Just maybe not quite as much.
JOE KERRIDGE remains the starter here and should hold on to that designation. It seems like he's been around forever already and he's still got a year left after this one; now is the time for him to start imposing himself on opponents. He did a fair job of doing so last year:
|CMU||4.5||-||4.5||FBs did well.|
|Notre Dame||7.5||1||6.5||Isos were a high point.|
|Akron||2||-||2||Blocks got cut away from.|
|UConn||1.5||2||-0.5||Not heavily involved.|
|Minnesota||6||3.5||2.5||Let some guys under him.|
|Penn State||1||0.5||0.5||Blocks couldn't even become relevant.|
|Nebraska||6.5||3.5||3||Got good movement.|
|NW||3||1.5||1.5||Soon to be a WR.|
|Iowa||4.5||1||3.5||Good game, quasi third-down back.|
When the blocking was good enough to make him relevant he did his job, and did it well. It was not all terrific, as he had some questionable plays against Minnesota:
But by the end of the year he was taking a bunch of snaps as a pass protector on throwing downs, acting as Gardner's lead back on occasion, and even catching things out of the backfield. I didn't chart the OSU game but I did review it and Kerridge had a quality day highlighted by this thunderous block:
My God man. I heard that this place's Heap of Smoked Linebacker was excellent, but the descriptions do not do it justice. That is Dudley-worthy there.
Nussmeier isn't likely to deviate from his belief that tight ends on or near the line of scrimmage are much more threatening to a defense than fullbacks, but when Michigan absolutely must scatter a linebacker's equipment across the field, Kerridge will be the weapon of choice.
[After THE JUMP: I googled Jake Butt's name so by god you are going to read the things I have to say about Jake Butt.]
Extremely tentative starters/base alignment
Michigan's spring game happened. As per usual, there were things to generate text about, e.g. Gardner going 2/8 with two interceptions was tailor-made for lazy columnists hoping to get some play from a false QB controversy. Actual information-like-substance is somewhat less available, and even the things that are trackable are not to be trusted.
But this is Spring(!), when we take the selective, incomplete microcosm that they deign to show us and extrapolate from it the meaning of the universe. So I decided to go one step further, choosing a single play to make sweeping judgments about Michigan's new offense, the 2014 defense, and the future of human civilization that hangs in the balance.
The screencap above was from the first play that was broadcast, following Gardner's interception, a play with Morris and the twos, and a run with the 3rd stringers. Let's pick it apart.
Offense: Houma lined up as a U-back and then motioned into an offset fullback or H-back position on the strongside, strongly suggesting a run to that side. They instead ran a quick curl to Funchess. The line pass-blocked, with just Deveon Smith staying in to help them.
Defense: The good ol' 4-3 under. When the U-back went in motion, Clark spread out a bit to give him better leverage for a supposed one-on-one battle with the RT—if Houma hadn't gone in motion Clark was going to be responsible for him. The play is zone blitz; Ryan is coming, Wilson comes down to a robber zone, and Clark dropped into a zone on the backside. The corners and FS are playing a Cover 3. This is "aggressive" defense only because the DL's gaps are not in front of them, and there's five guys coming. The frontside "C" gap will have Jarrod Wilson, and all other gaps are covered. Or should be…
What happened: You'll note that Glasgow and Ryan ended up in the same "A" gap. That wasn't by design; Jack Miller was looking for the 3-tech or a WLB blitz, even after it was clear Godin was stunting and Bolden wasn't coming. With the OL pass-blocking, Glasgow abandoned his gap and ran unblocked to the quarterback.
This means Miller was right where Glasgow was supposed to go, but blocking nobody. Since that is Glasgow it was enough time to get a quick pass off, but if that was Mike Martin (or Willie Henry) it would have been a spectacular sack. Cole handled Beyer, and Bosch actually got a good sideways kick at Ryan that knocked him into Glasgow, giving Garner just enough time to get rid of the football. Since the CBs were in cov 3, Funchess was open underneath.
Also: RJS was playing SAM right, setting up to take on a fullback block in case of a run, then attacking when Houma didn't seem interested in contact. De'Veon Smith was set up to block him, but the play was over before we got to see how that went.
Offensive line: As expected, just as frustrating as it was last year. Miller didn't adjust to what was in front of him and that gave the nose tackle (of all people) a clear path to the quarterback despite good blocks. This play is a good example of how a good offensive line's communication and experience could bail them out against weird things, and vice versa. The more snaps Miller and Bosch see together, the better they'll be able to wordlessly shift their pass blocking assignments when they see a blitz is coming at the gap between them.
Routes: The frontside was a triangle with Canteen squatting between zones, Heitzman running the seam, and Houma leaking into the flat. The backside curl was an outlet pass. The frontside guys ran good routes—notice how Houma broke a bit more to the sideline when he saw Raymon Taylor had his zone. That widened Taylor and provided a spot between his zone and Wilson's for Canteen to settle into. Funchess's route was an outlet
How'd they get the 1st down: Experienced senior quarterback Devin Gardner recognized he needed to get the ball off, saw his outlet open underneath, and got it to Funchess with time to turn; big Funchess versus a cornerback means there's gonna be YAC.
How Borges is this? If that personnel seems not very different than what Michigan did a lot of last year, that's because it isn't a very big departure from it. Having guys like Houma and Heitzman in there as opposed to NORFLEET!, or just about any receiver, was a constant complaint with Borges. It's more defendable given that Darboh (and Drake Harris) were unavailable, so after Chesson you're getting into the Jones/Dukes/York/Dever receivers who aren't any more of a matchup problem than the catchy-blocky dudes.
This Ace 2TE thing was the base formation. Often both TEs would have their hands down to make a truly balanced formation. Heitzman and A.J. Williams traded off first team duties, and your second-team catchy-runny-blocky guys were Khalid Hill at Y-tight end and Joe Kerridge at U-back. Almost every running play was zone blocked. If Nussmeier's plan is to go back to his Washington offense it wasn't evident here; this was the same offense Bama ran in its bowl game (my UFR of that).
A run look to a side with Heitzman/Cole/Bosch is going to be even less scary than it was last year with at least Lewan in there, but I was still encouraged by the show. For one, these guys are all doing something their skill set suggests they should, with the exceptions of Heitzman's unknown quality as a receiver and De'Veon Smith's as a blocker. And for once they decided to do something catchy-blocky with Houma. Putting him in motion effectively changed his matchup from the WDE to the SAM, which isn't much of a change against Michigan's 4-3, but could be a mismatch if the SAM, as is often the case these days, was more of a safety-like object. And it also changed a balanced Ace formation into an offset I-form, which screams a run in that direction.
ROTATE [Bryan Fuller]
Per first spring presser:
James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone to SAM. Probably inevitable once Ryan move was announced. Obviously Michigan thinking more along the lines of the Stevie Brown style LB/S hybrid there, as Allen Gant is your other SAM at the moment.
And with this shift comes another:
Hoke said will run more Over defense as opposed to Under.
— Matt Pargoff (@MaizeBlueNews) February 25, 2014
That means the line shifts towards the tight end and the linebackers away. Instead of this:
Last year 5 was Clark, 3 Black, 1 Washington/Pipkins, 5 Heitzman/Beyer, LB Ryan, W Ross, M Morgan.
Michigan will run more of this:
Upshot is the MLB gets significantly more protection, the WLB has to be able to take on more blocks (everyone has to take on blocks) and the SAM can be a lighter player as long as the three-tech and SDE create trouble when single-teamed.
This is a significant change, as you can see by everyone flopping about on the depth charts. While it's not switching to a 3-3-5 and back six times in three years, it does signal uncertainty.
A move to the over does make the Ryan move make a bit more sense but either DE spot is probably a better location for him unless he's suddenly a savant.
Heitzman to TE. With Henry seemingly locking down three-tech that potentially bounces out one of Strobel/Wormley/Godin to SDE, where Brennen Beyer is probably your starter anyway. Heitzman gives Michigan a shot at blocking someone, anyone, and won't be missed.
This would be a good time to remind you that Hoke told the gathered folks at the Detroit Athletic Club that Jake Butt would be back by game three; even if that's a weirdly specific prediction this far out given Jake Ryan's recovery timeine that would be about right.
Shallman to H-back. He wasn't already at H-back?
Ross Douglas to RB. Supposedly had been running there on the scout team and impressing. Michigan does need another bullet there with the loss of Rawls and Toussaint and no recruits filling in the gaps, and meanwhile Ross was at best sixth on the CB depth chart. Kind of doubt he makes much impact this year with Hayes presumably a lot like him and more experienced.
David Dawson to (left) tackle. I'd been telling people Dawson was likely to be the G/T tweener thrust outside by a lack of depth, but even I thought he'd be assigned right tackle duties since he's 6'4". Nope. According to Hoke, the current and incredibly nominal first team line reads Dawson-Bosch-Glasgow-Kalis-Braden.
Erik Magnuson is all but certain to side into that LT spot when he returns, leaving Bosch and Dawson to duke it out on the right. You can read Dawson on the left as an endorsement since that's the most important spot, or you can read Braden on the right as an endorsement since they may expect him to start and want to get him settled in at the position he'll play.
The other guy to watch out for is Patrick Kugler, who could bounce Glasgow out to one of the guard spots and give Michigan some depth.
Logan Tuley-Tillman is out right now, FWIW.