DIRECTORY STALKING IS THE NEW REAL ESTATE STALKING (WHICH WAS THE NEW FLIGHT AWARE). A couple of gentlemen with names matching prospective assistant coaches and no marker to indicate they're students, alumni, or faculty have popped up in the UMich directory: Tim Drevno and DJ Durkin. John Morton is also being kicked around, but if you log in it shows he's not that John Morton. It would be a bit of coincidence if the first two gentlemen were not football coaches, though. Not gospel, Bayesian estimate move, etc.
Fred Jackson, meanwhile, is listed as a retiree, disappointing many who had hoped he would be retained as Michigan's Director Of Reasonable Comparisons. Oh, and Brian Cole and Alex Malzone are on the thing now.
Remember when bloggers were the only people scouring the directory? Now who's in the basement? I don't even have a basement.
GALLON DOCUMENTARY. A full half hour:
Returning starters: we got 'em. Phil Steele compiles returning starters in the Big Ten:
Michigan has a 17th coming back in Desmond Morgan as well. Find a QB and some guys who can rush the passer and you're in business.
OUT AND FRUSTRATED. John Chavis left LSU for a DC spot at Texas A&M, and the reason is the same reason it's tough to watch LSU play most of the time:
The sources said the contract negotiations, the Aggies offered $340,000 more annually, were a non-issue in his decision to leave LSU and that Chavis simply felt it was time to go.
Chavis' frustrations reached a crescendo this season when LSU finished first in the SEC in total defense, No. 8 in the nation and second in scoring defense. LSU was 11th in total offense and last in passing offense in the SEC, resulting in an 8-5 record, tied for the worst in coach Les Miles' 10 seasons.
In the past four seasons, Chavis' LSU defenses finished no worse than No. 15.
"(Chavis) threw his hands up and felt he'd done all he could do," one source said. "They made zero progress offensively and it became a sore point, not that he was pointing fingers, but it led to some uncomfortable feelings.
LSU has a lot of returning starters, but I would not be surprised if this was the beginning of the Les Miles death spiral. Better in Baton Rouge than here.
THE NEW OC. Nick Baumgardner tracks down old Tim Drevno charges and asks them about Michigan's new man:
"When you're going through a coach Drevno individual period, you're going to be tough, or you're going to be looking to transfer," says Ben Muth, a former offensive tackle at Stanford during the early part of the Harbaugh era. "You're going to bang heads and there aren't a lot of blocking dummies used. You're going up against other guys, guys who get the hell beat out of them early in their careers.
"It's live. It's intense. And you're going to hit people with him."
Even if Michigan hires a separate OL coach expect Drevno to be heavily involved. Stanford split its coaching between interior line and OT/TE… I would expect something similar.
CHAIT ON HARBAUGH. On his return:
From Harbaugh’s standpoint, if you think of college football as nothing more than a business, it is an act of professional irrationality. The only possible way to make sense of his choice is to consider the possibility that he actually believes what he said in 2004: that he believes he did not merely provide free labor in return for skill development but belonged to a community; that this community stands in his mind for something larger than the self-interest of its component parts; that all this talk about turning boys into men is not just hokum.
UH-OH. Dish announces a small package of channels they'll sell over the internet for twenty bucks. Two of those channels: ESPN and ESPN2. I've been complaining about the shortsightedness of adding Rutgers and Maryland for a lot of reasons, most of them much more important than the amount of money the league makes.
But since the amount of money the league makes is the only possible argument in favor of the expansion, I do take pains to point out that the era of stealing a dollar from New Jersey grannies who don't even know what Rutgers is was always an ephemeral one. Once the cable monopoly shatters in the face of the internet, the only people paying for your content are the people interested, and the fanbases of Maryland and Rutgers are not going to carry the freight. For a momentary bump in revenue the Big Ten galloped towards the nonsense that is a 14-team collegiate conference, but Jim Delany will be retired by then so he DGAF.
WE CAN ACCESS ABOUT ONE OF THESE GUYS. Texas may be in the market for a grad QB after Tyrone Swoopes fell flat this year. Barking Carnival runs down their options, many of whom are JUCOs Michigan isn't likely to acquire. They do mention Kevin Hogan as well:
While he hasn't yet announced formally for transfer, the Stanford graduate clashed withDavid Shaw over his conservative offense and had the unenviable task of replacingAndrew Luck - arguably the most gifted QB walking the planet. The rumor mill is running hard and fast that he wants out and would like a show case for his wares. While imperfect - and possessing a slow release that Shaun Watson could help him with - Hogan is a proven competitor with good athletic ability and a live arm. He has 48 touchdowns to 21 career interceptions, won a Rose Bowl, started 30+ games and has a career QB rating around 145. Yet people treat him as if he's chopped liver. He's not. He's also a sneaky running threat who isn't afraid of contact. He's an upgrade and wouldn't be particularly terrified taking a snap from under center in South Bend next year. He's roughly comparable to a sophomore David Ash, but with veteran experience. That's a significant upgrade from Swoopes. He could help us. Now forward him this post immediately and get the illegal contacts started.
FAREWELL. Lake The Posts is closing effective January 15th. Always sad when one of the originals hangs it up.
ETC.: If you were vaguely worried that Lavall Jordan would end up at Butler after their coach had to take medical leave, the Bulldogs have taken the interim title off of Chris Holtmann. Stephon Diggs heads to the draft. MVictors has entertaining Harbaugh/Yost trivia and old-timey player intros. Dylan Larkin had an awesome WJC.
Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.
Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert
A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:
…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era. Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.” In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*
One can look at Florida and see the same mistake. Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom. He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley. Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.
Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.
I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.
Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)
Variance: super teams hate it.
After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:
For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …
For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.
The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.
The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.
Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:
MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.
That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to
- recruit and execute better
- get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings
Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.
When to put the toys in the box
There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.
That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.
The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.
*[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]