"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
A sixth year senior? Fake! David Jones|Star Tribune
What is existence, really? If a person who was never born dies, but you believed they had been alive, is not the mourning real? Who among us has never felt sad for the death of a fictional person—okay put your hands down Millenials who cried about Dumbledore. You too people who fell for the character of George O’Leary in George O’Leary’s Resume. I mean just a few years ago there was that legend of the basketball player who would appear every year on a different team until his knees…
Okay so I’m being told that Trevor Mbakwe actually exists. Apparently I have not only seen him play basketball as recently as 12 hours ago, but many other independent sources have all confirmed that Mbakwe still has some eligibility left despite the fact that Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend was in fake middle school when this dude was hawking rebounds for Marquette. How this is possible I'm not sure but one reader in the game thread suggested it might be because they're putting his brain in the stomach of an exosuit:
"Mbakwe looks like Krang from Ninja Turtles. –Dubs
Okay I kinda see it. Also not a myth: Mbakwe is the only member of Minnesota’s starting five who’s not averaging 10 ppg, via the quick preview by robbyt003. LATE BREAKING: the rest of the schedule previewed by mistersuits.
We saw last night just how non-mythological this Michigan squad really is, doing to the Gophers in their building what a million KP100 teams couldn't (the Duke loss was at a neutral site). Before the last 5 minutes turned into Foul Fest '13, Michigan was shooting 58 percent, and not the "they're just going in" kind of 58 percent (like Stauskus couldn't make a 3 for awhile) but the Mr. Hardaway is sick of hearing about how athletic their forwards are kind. Highlights:
"Center the ball! Center the ball! Center the ball!" –Dickie V
Hypothetical Wolverines of the 21st Century: Now that the 2013 class has progressed to the point that M is actively turning away offensive linemen (this is true!) we’re starting to get the comprehensive 2014 lists. Allin4Blue kindly collated the bigger Michigan targets. To recap, Michigan has commitments from LB Michael Ferns and OT Denzel Ward, and is the presumed leader for a handful of other dudes. Long way to go before signing day. The 2014 Recruiting List (originally published in June) is now updated.
Hypothetical Meaning of Football-Related Activities: Ever since he took my suggestion of adding lolcats to his posts, LSAClassof2000 has been getting progressively more interesting. This time he compared the top teams to their performance in top general stats (offense link, defense link) to see which are greater indicators of a team’s likelihood to succeed. Being good defensively seemed to be a slightly better predictor than being good on offense. Otherwise stat values by category:
- Very valuable: Yards per play, Total TDs
- Somewhat valuable: Total yards, yards per game
- Only a little valuable: Number of plays
Takeaway: the object of offense is to score. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
Hypothetical Fourth Major Sport: There was a time in 2006 when baseball got really good and people cared. Becoming nationally relevant again is not likely to happen until either a.) NCAA tells the southern teams they can’t keep starting the season in mid-winter, or b.) global warming makes that irrelevant for every state but Alaska. Or perhaps c.) Young coach who turned Vanderbilt into a power is hired, given massive budget and A++ facilities, and gets to go around offering Michigan degrees. Raoul wrote two baseball-centric diaries this week, one to bring you up to speed on Erik Bakich’s program, and a second on the in-state recruiting efforts, which I’ll warn you are like hockey/hoops in that kids commit right after potty training.
I’ll admit what usually gets me to a game a year is when there’s a future MLB’er on the roster so I can later say I saw him in college and sound like major baseball dude. Michigan’s not projected to be very good this
summer spring late winter, but there are two speedy outfielders who could see The Show: junior Michael O’Neill who’s the better all around player, and returning captain Patrick Biondi (pictured above), who was a Tigers draft pick out of high school and steals everything in sight.
The Best of the Board
SENIOR BOWL PROGRAMMING GUIDE
All hail chatster for putting together a list of where the seniors we care about will be playing in the various senior bowls. He includes a lot of former opponents but here’s the former Wolverines:
- Last Week: Stonum played in the Casino Del Sol game.
- Tomorrow at 3 pm: All-Star Clasic: Roundtree (#89 in red)
- Tomorrow at 4 pm: East-West Shrine Bowl: Campbell (#73 for West)
- Tomorrow at 5 pm: NFLPA Collegiate Bowl: Mealer (#76 for National team) will play tackle. Also appearing: McGuffie.
- January 26 at 4 pm: Senior Bowl: Denard playing receiver for North.
- February 2 at 2:30 pm: Texas vs. the Nation: Kovacs is playing for Nation.
Siri, remind me at 3:55 pm on January 26th that it’s my last chance to see Denard in a winged helmet.
WHAT KIND OF OFFENSE NOW GUYS?
This question from Hail-Storm will be answered in depth in the coming months (hopefully in super detail in HTTV—maybe Chris Brown will step up to that one?). Basically he’s asking what kind of offense would best suit a team that has a few short but good receivers, questionable running backs of varied talents, a very young interior line, very good offensive tackles, and Devin Gardner at quarterback.
This is a too-short answer but I’d say it’s obviously to live on the edges. Find a guard among the kids who can pull really well and make the base play Toussaint or Gardner running outside, keeping the defense honest by running against their strength when they cheat to Lewan’s side. If it works the corners (who get edge duty) won’t be able to play man on Gallon and Dileo so much. If we can find a tight end who can block, sweeps. If not, there are things you can do with Funchess to keep the LBs from cheating outside. Actually it might not be so different from what Ohio State ran this year. Again, pass with max protect—Gardner can create, is liable to do insane stuff if you make him dodge more than one dude.
THE ROCK OF MY IMAGINATION
So BlueBarron got to shoot a Slippery Rock game earlier this year. When their scores come up at Michigan games I always imagine it as this clearing in the middle of the forest with a rocky little brook cutting through the back of one end zone. Which was actually kind of close. What I didn’t imagine is how similar they look to…you know, that one guy what’s his name…sorry hang on my little brother is jumping up and down with his hand up right now…dude stop I’m trying to think who this Division II team reminds me of.
ROUSING SALUTES TO EACH OTHER
Three threads hit this week for the people in the comments to make comments about people in the comments. In the first we all reminisced about the great posters of yore who are no longer with us. I arrived late but my blanket answer to most of the “where did _________ go he was hilarious!?” questions is “I finally got sick of his shit and caved him.” If it wasn’t that he’s probably writing for another site right now. Like remember how those dudes took some mention of the spread being “communist football” and made that a running theme? They had a blog. What happened to the dudes who wrote that blog? I don’t know. I still have Sharik’s cell from the one time I wrote a diary about safeties and he was like “you are wrong about everything—quick come meet me for a beer while I explain this to you!” which is among the most awesome experiences of my blogging career. I don’t know where he went off to. Others I miss: Meechigan Dan, MCalibur, Space Coyote.
Thread the second was for your favorite posters among the dudes still here. It pretty much devolved into a posbang thread, if one of the more epic of that persuasion.
Thread the third lets you call a press conference and announce something. Already used this week: I have a fake dead girlfriend; I am an athlete and I admit to doping/steroids/HGH; I am a famous person and I love this other person whom I lived with for 20 years and raised some kids with; and two Spartans beat up some dude for no reason.
WHAT IS ACTUALLY A CHARGE?
The thinly disguised post-OSU ref bitching thread yielded an interesting conversation between Tom from AA and Ghost of Yost on the proper calling of blocking fouls and why a defender with a sliding foot who makes contact can still draw the charge. Yes I just linked to something people moderated as “trolling” – sadly this still happens to the guy taking the position that doesn’t side with Michigan, even though I think in this instance Tom from AA is right.
OBLIGATORY TE’O THREADS
Glimmers of the Pattern. Open thread yesterday. Press conference react. He kept talking about her. Sadly none of it explains why he seems to become a non-factor when linemen get the luxury of meeting him downfield (see: Alabama, Michigan in 2010), and yet he kills everything otherwise (see: Michigan in 2012).
Your Moment of Zen:
- The team will focus on fundamentals in practice over the next week or so.
- Team will leave for Tampa on the 23rd.
- The NFL discussion with Taylor Lewan will continue after the bowl.
- Devin Gardner had an ankle issue after the OSU game (was spotted walking around in a boot). Otherwise no new boo boos.
“You know, we’re obviously thrilled to be heaing to the Outback Bowl our fifth time. The bowl itself, the organization, the volunteers, they’ve always been gracious hosts. The city of Tampa and Clearwater do a tremendous job of embracing the bowl, making it a great event for both teams. It’s an opportunity to play a very good football team in South Carolina. 10-2, Coach Spurrier is one of the iconic coaches in this country. Laid a great foundation and has done a great job at South Carolina, really did a great job at Florida when he was the head ball coach down there. So it’s going to be a great football game, one that we’re excited to be a part of against a great opponent.”
How much do you know at this point about South Carolina?
“I know they have a really good front from a defensive perspective. I think they gave up 17 points a game. Very athletic. Lost at Florida and at LSU, so their two losses were on the road against two very good football teams. I think offensively the quarterback has done a nice job. I think the coach is a hard guy to please at that position. Lattimore won’t play obviously, and that’s a shame, because he’s one of the great football players in the country, but from that standpoint, you just start breaking them down.”
Your brother coached with Steve Spurrier. Were you able to get to know him and form a relationship as a result?
“You know, a little bit. Not a huge one, but Jon was there, my brother was there three years, Steve’s last three, as his defensive coordinator. Steve and his wife are really nice people. They treated my brother well. Him and Jon talk back and forth, but it’ll be a fun football game to be a part of.”
How much will the time off help Denard recover and do more than he was doing at the end of the regular season?
“Well, I think we hope for all of them -- they go through the grind. It’s good for all of them to heal up a little bit. We’ll start practicing at the end of the week on Friday and Saturday. They’ll do some lifting and running this week. But to get them away from the pounding a little bit helps them all.”
Any injuries resulting from the OSU game?
“No. Not really. Devin had a little bit of an ankle, but he’ll be fine by the time we get started on Friday.”
How do you improve your ability to run the ball and limiting turnovers for this game?
“Well I think we always work hard on running the football. That’s not going to change. We always preach and teach the mindset of running the football and finishing at the line of scrimmage and backs finishing on safeties and the ninth man or eighth man that people want to get in the box. But I think you just keep plowing through it going forward, and your demands and your expectations have to be met.”
How much emphasis will be put on developing younger players?
“Yeah, we’ll start going Friday, Saturday this weekend, and then Friday, Saturday next weekend. We have finals coming up and all those kinds of things, so those will be more of just the fundamentals and the basics, kind of getting back to it for everyone. We’ll use a lot of that time to help develop the young guys. And then as we go through the bowl practices, we’ll devote some time to those young guys and what we want to get accomplished.”
When do you leave for Tampa? And what’s your philosophy on working your players too hard vs. not enough?
“That’s always the fine line, to be honest with you. We’re going to leave on the 23rd and practice when we get down there, kind of get acclimated to where we’ll be and all those things, which I don’t completely know yet. Mike Vollmer and Bob Lopez are down there now securing the sites, but we’ll go down the 23rd. Most game planning should be all done by the time we leave, so that’s always a positive. We’ll kind of judge where we’re at from health, from the mindset of where we are and what we’ll do.”
Why has Hopkins left the team?
“You’d have to ask him. I know we already discussed it.”
When did he let you know?
“He let me know.”
The Big Ten has struggled against the SEC. Do you feel like you’re playing for the conference?
“I think you always are. I think you’re playing for Michigan and your seniors first, but we’re proud to be in the Big Ten. Why we wouldn’t want to represent and have that be part of our focus, it’d be really bad for us not to feel that way about the Big Ten.”
What do you want to see from Devin?
“Continued growth as a quarterback. His development is just like some of those guys, you know, Willie Henry’s growth -- only it’s a little different because he’s a quarterback. Willie Henry’s a nose tackle or a three-technique. So Willie’s not touching the ball a whole lot, right? So I think his continued growth to playing in big football games and environments not in Michigan Stadium.”
How has playing a tough schedule prepared you for the level of talent you’ll face in the bowl game?
“I think there’s always a benefit. When you play good football teams, and whether you win or lose, you learn how you have to play. You learn that you have to do a better job taking care of the football. You have to run the football better. You have to get the ball back for your offense at the end of the game to give them the opportunity to score. Those are all the things you take out of the last game that we didn’t do.”
How important is it to win this bowl game?
“I think as we would look at it, for our seniors, that ninth win -- you always want 10 when you’re here. It’s kind of an expectation. But sending them out in a real positive fashion and I think you build some momentum going into winter conditioning.”
Is it harder to vote in the coaches’ poll knowing that your choices are made public?
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s -- you know, I think you vote your conscience. I don’t know if I would have voted any differently than I did.”
Why did you have Michigan 15th?
“Becaue I think we’re a good team. You look at the opponents that we played compared to other schedules that are out there. It would be easy to play a lesser schedule, but I think this has helped us grow as a program and as a team.”
You met with Taylor this last week?
Any words of wisdom?
“You know that I don’t have a whole lot of words of wisdom, but we’ll talk after the bowl game. We’ll do our due diligence and trying to get him as much information as we can.”
When do you expect to hear back from the advisory committee?
“I don’t know.”
What kind of a test will it be for him to go up against Jadaveon Clowney?
“Well I haven’t talked to him since we found out who we were playing. But if you’re truly a competitor, I think it would be a tremendous, fun opportunity.”
What are the tangible rewards of playing a tough schedule? Seems like teams aren’t really rewarded for it.
“Well I don’t think you are, but I think for us and this program and the future of the program, I think it’s a real positive. Playing in a kickoff classic in Arlington, everything that goes along with it and how you prepare, it’s kind of a big stage. So I think that all helps.”
Is there anyone you’ve coached or coached against that you can compare to Jadaveon Clowney?
“Mm mm. He’s pretty good.”
What’s your feeling about Te’O and the Heisman? Brian Kelly said if Te’O doesn’t win it, why not just make it an offensive award?
“I think if I were Brian Kelly, I’d say the same thing. You know, my thoughts on it? I think everyone’s going to have an opinion, every voter’s going to have an opinion on does he do enough? But no one really knows what he does for that team. I think he’s worthy of it. But I don’t know if Johnny Manziel’s not worthy of it. And I don’t know if it’s just Johnny Manziel. I don’t even know who’s up for it. But Te’O, being a defensive guy, I’m kind of in his corner.”
Thoughts on the MAC getting their first BCS bowl?
“I think it’s great for that league. The MAC’s a great league.”
Why did you invite Hagerup to camp even though he was suspended for four games? He said it meant a lot to him.
“Well I thought it was important for him to be around his teammates. There were some mistakes that were made that we’ve all made -- some of you maybe haven’t -- but it’s nice for a kid to be around his teammates.”
Of the totally surreal and unnecessary things that could ever happen, Denard Robinson issuing an apology for his play against Notre Dame ranks right up there with Ryan Van Bergen claiming fault for the 2010 defense. Not so much that he took responsibility—I wrote in my HTTV article that personal culpability is one the hallmarks of this team—but that watching from above I felt like he wasn't entirely at fault.
Part of that was the drunk dude in my section yelling "awwww c'mon!" at Denard, to which I felt responsibility to point out things like "play-action out of the I-form" or "Schofield just got beat bad." Part of it to was my own culpability for last week's article being all "hey Denard can pass and Borges is doing an incredible job!" So in the mea culpa spirit of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (pretty much our Christmas) which begins tonight, I admit I have sinned, and that I'm not quite sure who sinned on all of our six turnovers this week. Let's find out where responsibility lies in this six-play al chet, using a combination of Seth's pathetic attempts at UFR-ing, with a bonus chart of culpability.
1. For the sin we have committed against you by trying to get too cute with Vincent Smith, who is not Tom Brady
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O10||1||G||Ace TE Trips||1||1||3||4-4 under||Pass||RB Pass||Dileo||INT|
|Dileo and Roundtree lined up as H-backs on same side. Since it's a pass Dileo doesn't block Te'o, who shot into the gap the millisecond he read pitch and pressures Smith. Funchess blocked down an irrelevant crashing DE instead but that's the play. The CB bites hard so Dileo can leaks out into the end zone, where he has the safety beat to the corner, but Smith is 5'6 with the world's best college LB in his face. He jump-balls it way inside of his receiver, so when the safety looks back he is all "ooh, football--take." (INX, 0, Protection N/A, RPS –2)|
When Michigan tried this against Minnesota it was from 30 yards out, and against Minnesota. It did get a guy open in the end zone, and was set up a little bit I believe by some pitch plays earlier. However leaving Te'o unblocked versus a tiny RB is a risk, but Smith has shown in games (and presumably many more times in practice) that he can throw the ball accurately enough.
What I really hated about this play call is there was no reason to get cute. This was meant to be a dagger play, just like the fake dive on 4th and 1 vs. Michigan State was meant to be the dagger in the trash storm game.
Borges likes his daggers. When Brian queried my UFR database on Michigan passing from Ace 3TE sets, I found the Funchess 30-yard (PA TE corner) and Gardner (Waggle) TDs, plus a PA dumpoff for good yards (until it was fumbled) against SD State last year. Daggers. Thing is about the grab-bag and dagger offense is that it doesn't adjust for things that are working, and until that point the offense was working. When Pompey backed out of Rome because he didn't have the troops to defend it, Caesar didn't say "oh waitaminute, this is a trap, I'm gonna go attack the Barbary Coast—ha ha they'll never suspect!" He walked into damn Rome.
Chart of culpability: Borges x2,
ND Te'o is that good, Smith isn't Joe Montana
Mitigating Mitzvah: Jake Ryan sticks a receiver after he gains just 1 yard on 3rd and 4 from the ND37 to force a punt. ND shanks the punt.
After the jump, five plays more depressing than using a day off of work to fast and contemplate what a terrible person you've been all year.