TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
DOOM DOOM DOOM
it gets better
This whole Center situation has put me in a funk [ed: I see what you did there] and all I can see in the future is doom and gloom. Aren't we going to be in the exact same position next year? I was wondering if you could address on your site the future prospects of this position going forward. Miller is not cutting it at the moment (or at least that's the popular opinion). But is this a problem that he's still too young and needs to learn? Or is it that he's just too undersized for the position? I've heard zilch about the other Centers on the roster, Burzynski and Kugler. So what is to happen next year? Should I just blindfold myself and box my ears for the next year or two?
Sometimes guys just have it, and sometimes they get it eventually, and sometimes they never do. David Molk had no problem popping into a starting lineup as a redshirt freshman and being good immediately. Miller's been done few favors by Michigan's renewed emphasis on the stretch after barely running in the last two years and should become more consistent as he acquires experience with it, but Glasgow seems to be making fewer mistakes than he did at the same level of experience.
The good news is that this year and last should be the nadir for options on the Michigan line. Last year, Miller was literally the only scholarship option other than true freshmen Michigan could turn to if they wanted to make a switch. This year they're in a similar situation except the (formerly) backup option is the oft-injured Chris Bryant; Blake Bars is also an option but looked far from ready this fall.
Next year it's a whole different story. Michigan loses their two tackles and must find a left tackle from Magnuson or Braden; right tackle will be a battle between one of those two guys and any of a fleet of 6'5" guys who can play both tackle and guard. On the interior they'll suddenly be spoilt for choice with count-'em nine options give or take a guy who might be sucked out to tackle. That is worlds away from what Michigan's got now.
They will be young. Michigan will have no seniors on next year's offensive line save Burzynski. They should be able to paper over some concerns with depth in their options.
Wither Washington against spread to run?
In light of our defensive approach to use Black/Wormley as nominal DTs against passing spreads like ND and Akron, should we be concerned against the Buckeyes? Watching how they call their plays at the line, I would think Urban would have Hyde pound it up the middle anytime we showed that alignment. Do you see this meaning we will see more Washington than we would typically against a spread team? Or is sacrificing some beef in the middle with Black worth the lateral speed we gain against their skill players?
The challenge posed by OSU is dealing with not only lateral speed from Miller and their little slot buggers but holding up against Carlos Hyde, who's more manball than any back Michigan has at its disposal. If the defensive line can't hold up against OSU double teams… well, you saw the Northwestern game. It's not pretty for a defense.
I'll be shocked if Michigan has a nickel package on the field against Ohio State on anything other than third and long. Washington is going to a be a key piece against all the spread-to-run teams on the docket, and there are plenty: OSU, Northwestern, and Nebraska plus certain packages Indiana might run with Tre Roberson. With the rest of the schedule filled out by PSU, MSU, and Iowa, we've seen the last of games where Washington is largely a spectator as opponents fling the ball about willy-nilly.
Why bother returning punts anyway?
this massively blocked punt was the difference in NW-OSU (via Eleven Warriors)
This question was prompted by watching Michigan try (and fail) to set up a return when Minnesota was punting from inside their 10 yard line today.
Why not always go for the block? How is running 20 yards backwards, then trying to find and block someone better than making someone block you in their own backfield? Best case, you block the punt; worst case, coverage team suffers from having to defend against punt block before focusing on coverage. If the point of setting up a punt return is to keep would-be tacklers away from the returner, why not make those would-be tacklers deal with would-be punt blockers 40+ yards away from where the punt lands? I really just don’t get it.
Going for a block is a high variance strategy that rarely brings any reward at all and often results in flags for hitting the punter; used too consistently it's asking to eat fake punts more often than you actually get to the punter. So you've got to set up returns at least some of the time: fourth and five or less, any punt safe situation, times when you don't care to risk roughing the punter because you're up, and enough other times to keep teams from planning a fake punt you'll get strafed by.
Meanwhile, with modern punting formations the only guys who have to dedicate themselves full time to blocking you are the three gentlemen in the shield. For the other seven players, a momentary delay on a guy at the line is good enough. If you're sending guys after the punter all the time that's not going to change the behavior of the punting team enough to help you on returns.
The only thing that will do that is blocking enough punts to force guys back into NFL-style punting, and dozens of coaches working over the course of a decade haven't been able to make shield punting seem more vulnerable than the NFL stuff. I'm with you somewhat, in that so few punts get returned effectively these days that you should slant your prep towards blocking them and go after punters more often* but never bothering with setting up a return is too far in the other direction.
*[especially since it's relatively easy to not get a roughing the kicker call: just avoid the guy's plant foot.]
LIKE "THE FLY" EXCEPT GOOD
Hello Brian, Brian's Hair, Ace, Seth and Heiko,
I was watching the network broadcast of the game yesterday and near the end, right around Countess' interception, the broadcast cut to a shot of Jon Falk preparing to open the mail bin that held the Jug. Taylor Lewan was standing next to the bin and I believe one of the announcers called him "Jake Lewan."
Alas, it was a misstatement. But could you imagine if this player existed? Huge. Crazy. Two-way. He pancake blocks linebackers and hurls chipping running backs to the ground. He both protects QBs and turns them into small smears on the ground. I would love to see a .gif of this being in action (destroying the skyline of Columbus Godzilla-style, consuming raw sides of beef lobbed at it by an approving Coach Mattison, charging into the interview room and ripping Heiko's head off after he asks Borges about bubble screens etc. ). I would love to see the Mathlete whip up some sophisticated simulation in R or Stata to project this mythical player's stats. How many stars would he have gotten on the recruiting trail? (six?) What would his fake forty time be? Could he eat more than Charlie Weiss? What sort of tattoos would he have? What pet would he own? The possibilities are both endless and fascinating.
Just thought I'd mention it.
The Mathlete started simulating this but desisted when he started noticing small glitches in reality. He swears that carbonation of beverages was rare until he started working on your question, Patrick. The initial results are a little rough, but your answers:
- COULD YOU IMAGINE IF THIS PLAYER EXISTED? No longer do I imagine or dream, as the act of doing so now brings things into reality. While I could use this for good, eventually the wrong thing would be thought about and Michigan would have two wins over Ohio State since OH GOD I DID IT DO YOU SEE PATRICK, DO YOU SEE?
- HOW MANY STARS WOULD JAKE LEWAN HAVE. Blue. Div by zero.
- WHAT WOULD HIS FAKE 40 TIME BE? Zero point two seconds, to account for human stopwatch vagaries. This would be real, and thus break the concepts of fake 40 times and reality.
- COULD HE EAT MORE THAN CHARLIE WEIS(S)? If you are referring to the temporary head of the Kansas Jayhawks, he's had bariatric surgery so most nine-year-olds could do this. If you are referring to some random dude who has to keep correcting everyone who lols at him about decided schematic advantage, yes. This is a large man who is physically active. Charlie Weiss lifts a little bit but cannot compare.
- WHAT SORT OF TATTOOS WOULD HE HAVE? Animated ones depicting the rise and fall of Atlantis, both of which were his doing.
- WHAT PET WOULD HE OWN? His Excellency The Most Exalted Velocironald The Third The Fourth The Second, Jr.
MORE LIKE COME PLAY WITHDRAWN FORWARD FOR JURGEN KLINSMANN
O reader, I bring to you a topic of great significance. The blogosphere has been riven by controversy after a horse tried to play football on twitter. Should horses play football on twitter? Should horses not play football on twitter? This is the great modern give-and-take of discourse. This is the First Amendment. This is America.
The Anti-Horse Alliance is led by one Adam Jacobi, an Iowan who loathes all hooved mammals you cannot eat. I must agree that a thousand pounds of lovely-seeming meat just, like, composted or whatever is a waste and is hateful. In addition, he says the idea of horses playing football is anathema. He has many fine reasons for this take.
Horses can't understand football. Horses aren't completely stupid, and their skills at dressage lead me to believe that an end zone celebration involving a horse hot-steppingcould be PHENOMENAL, but football is a very complicated sport with rules and regulations governing virtually everything, and I just can't imagine that a horse would be able to abide by the rules of the line of scrimmage and the snap. False start penalties everywhere, even for just a twitch of the tail. "Set" means "set," horsie.
And so forth and so on.
The Coalition of the Horse Willing counts the esteemed Spencer Hall in their ranks.
Horses can qualify academically in the NCAA. Provided they get a learning disabled qualification, a horse should be able to stay eligible at several SEC schools. Auburn and Ole Miss come to mind first, but let's not single out those schools alone, but yes, mainly Auburn and Ole Miss. Horses may also succeed--neigh! even thrive!--at the C-USA, Sun Belt, and MAC level.
I fear that both these men have missed the mark on the original question so badly that they have embarrassed themselves in the manner of a 50-year-old white Christian male who demands credit for such, also on twitter. They will live down their shame in time.
That shame: by debating whether or not horses should play football they fail to ask the question "what sport should horses play?" Football is an ill fit. Basketball is preposterous, hockey promising but problematic, track and field faintly ridiculous, and horse racing completely out of the question. It's obvious, though. It's right in front of your face, and thus two or three feet below a horse's face.
Horses should play soccer.
THEY HAVE MORE FEET. More feet equals more skill. Leo Messi in fact has a foot that branches just below the ankle into ten toe-sized feet. Horses cannot match this, but with four feet they have double that of the average American, and are therefore twice as good at soccer than said average American, four times better than many World War I veterans, and eight times better than Robbie Findley.
PREHENSILE LIMBS NOT REQUIRED HERE. The McDonalds inside of which horses play soccer beautifully has a sign outside that says "NO SHIRT NO SHOES NO FINGERS NO PROBLEM."
HORSES CAN UNDERSTAND SOCCER. It's mostly a matter of booting a ball around without whistles and the like. Much simpler than football. Also, horses came from Europe! QED.
While I think a horse hockey team would be pretty good since the goalie would occupy the entire net, you'd probably have to shoot it. I digress.
TURNING HORSE ANKLES INTO A MIST OF TENDONS AND DEATH IS SANCTIONED IN SOCCER. In football, exploding someone's ankle is not a penalizable offense except in certain situations. Anyone turning a leg into a spray of horror gristle in soccer is generally shown a red card. The tendency of horse legs to fall off with little provocation is an asset to the team, if not the horse in particular. Go team.
SOCCER DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRESS GENERALLY AVOIDS THE NCAA. Horses do not have to take tests to sign with Liverpool or whatever.
POOPING ON THE FIELD IS PROBABLY STILL NOT GOOD. But they do play on actual grass. The cost savings. Think of them.
AMERICA CAN USE THEIR ATHLETES ON AMERICAN SPORTS. Horses are a great untapped resource in our race to dominate the globe's favorite sport, allowing us to both have LeBron James and LeHorse Soccer.
This is the First Amendment, that I can say that horses playing football is a terrible idea… unless it's the other football.
"Don't tread on me"
See you at the World Cup final. Bring carbonated oats, baby.
HONORING EASTS AND BUILDING WESTS
/soulful electric guitar
IT'S BEEN A BIG TEN TRADITION FOR MORE THAN 24 HOURS
WE HONOR THE EASTS WHO'VE GIVEN US MOMENTS WE'LL NEVER FORGET EVEN IF WE WEREN'T WATCHING THEM BECAUSE NO ONE WATCHES RUTGERS OR MARYLAND
AND BUILDING WESTS? WELL, THAT'S ABOUT DOING SOMETHING SO CONDESCENDINGLY DUMB YOU'D HAVE TO BE A SEA ANEMONE FOR YOUR POISONOUS TENDRILS TO THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA WITH YOUR PREHISTORIC NON-BRAIN, AND LIVING A LIFE OF MAXIMUM RESOURCE EXTRACTION EVERY SINGLE DAY
AHHHH OH WAIT
much better here's a picture of a guy graduating oohhhhhhhh
NOW GIVE ME MY HUNDRED MILLION AWWWW OHHHH
Our New Less Miserable Experience
It's not news. But it is official. Per everyone in reports going on the last six months, the Big Ten is this:
Michigan cannot be champions of the West, because obviously.
Also yes I made a Gin Blossoms reference. Up next: flat-out Blossom references.
Love the quote that comes with the non news:
"The directors of athletics also relied on the results of a fan survey commissioned by BTN last December to arrive at their recommendation, which is consistent with the public sentiment expressed in the poll."
Sometimes I wonder if the goal of adding Rutgers and Maryland was to give the B10 leadership a way to save face as they exited Legends and Leaders. Then I think that's crazy. Then I remember that the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland and think it's not crazy enough. THEORY: The Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland because Jim Delany is secretly a plant in need of more soil. THEORY: The Big Ten expanded because now they have those bastards from Delaware surrounded, and can finally give them what-for for signing the Constitution first. THEORY: Bo Ryan controls everything and is unhappy only ruining basketball. &c
Anyway: over the long term Michigan will be meeting teams in the other division about half the time. Purdue will be on under a third of future schedules since they have a protected crossover with Indiana; the other teams will be just under 1/2, except the league is going to kick off their new divisions with as many sexy matchups as possible:
Big Ten also will use "parity-based scheduling" for initial crossover rotations. Top teams in divisions will play more, Delany said
"In the first 18 years, you’re going to see a lot of competition between teams at the top of either division," Delany said. "We call that a bit of parity-based scheduling, so you’ll see Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa playing a lot of competition against Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. But it will rotate. Early on, we feel this gives the fans what they want."
Ace and I talked about whether this was terrible or fine; I initially thought terrible but after some time I think I just want to see interesting games, and putting top teams against each other does that. It also helps smooth any schedule imbalances.
- I will miss playing Iowa annually.
- I enjoyed making Michigan Ryan Field's Big Ten Team every other year.
- I don't even feel like Wisconsin's in the same conference any more.
- In general it will be hard to start hot feuds against anyone Over There. See the rapidly dying MSU-UW quasi-rivalry.
- I'm actually okay with the Jug game not happening annually, but it is a symptom of how you're not really a conference at 14 teams.
- Hey remember that thing where they might move the game to midseason and—horror—put Michigan State at the end of M's schedule? That is ding-dong dead.
- Now I can root against Ohio State with all my heart when they play Nebraska and the like, and the Game is what it always should be: critical.
- Sparty did not escape to the other division, saddling M with a protected crossover, guaranteeing them an annual game against Purdue, and giving the Spartans some vague hope of ever reaching the Rose Bowl again.
- I welcome the return of Penn State to the schedule annually and look forward to re-establishing the Zombie Nation WE OWN PENN STATE meme.
- My loathing for the incompetent and debt-crippled athletic departments of Rutgers and Maryland will give those games some spice. HOW DARE YOU BE IN OUR CONFERENCE is good foundation for hate, I guess?
- They did fix it so the divisions switch off 5/4 home games as a unit.
All in all, Delaware is screwed.
BHGP finds a man distressed at the callous disposal of the Big Ten's most sacred traditions: "Legends" and "Leaders". Dave Brandon has put down the prospect of moving The Game, backed away slowly, and whistled idly if anyone passing by pointed at it and said "what the…?"
Turns out I have less than I thought I did after reviewing items, but the remainder…
Other people are on planes. So. It's that time again:
It's not a coaching search without people tracking a plane they think might have Dave Brandon in it and pointing out that Phoenix is somewhat close to Jim Harbaugh but not too close, right, so probably they're definitely meeting in Phoenix at an Applebee's wearing big Groucho Marx noses so no one recognizes them, right?
A point in the conspiracy theorists' favor: the plane is registered to Domino's Pizza and spent the new year hanging out in Jacksonville watching Michigan get crushed by Mississippi State. Since then it's done this.
- Wednesday, 5 PM: Headed out to Latrobe, PA.
- Wednesday, 10 PM: flew from Latrobe to Chicago.
- Yesterday, 1 PM: flew from Chicago to Phoenix
What does this mean? Eh… probably that someone other than David Brandon is using the plane for purposes related to the business of Dominos. But it's a coaching search so you get Flight Aware. These are the rules.
But wait! There's more! Another plane suspiciously not registered to anything related to the University of Michigan—"Unknown Owner"—has been flying places. A reader relates its progress:
- Willow Run flight left for Miami midday 1/4 when firing "reported" but supposedly not made (Mary Sue Coleman or other agent leaving)
- Miami flight scheduled to Van Nuys, CA on 1/5 and does go, but makes previously unscheduled stop in Lubbock (?). Timing is 2 hours post firing presser. Could be to finalize plan, get gas, time up the following #3, or who knows. Only on ground 47 minutes. Arrives in Van Nuys at 5:09 pacific (Ross in tow to make help make pitch?)
- Gulfstream flight from San Jose, CA lands in Van Nuys at 5:52 pacific (Harbaugh?)
- Flight from Miami to Van Nuys leaves for Palm Springs at 5:57 (easy switchover for "Harbaugh" w/ a private aircraft) stays night there.
- Miami flight departs for home (Boca airport) at 10:05 A.M on 1/6
- Next flight out of Palm Springs at 10:11 AM is private plane to Monterrey Peninsula airport--less public than San Jose airport and 60 miles south of Palo Alto--lands at 11:03 AM
- 49ers meet w/ Harbaugh today in undisclosed location - he flies somewhere else or drives somewhere between SF and airport to meet 49ers.
This is all bats and obviously means Mike Leach is the next coach. Stop in Lubbock, people. Mike Leach.
But wait! There's actual information possibly worth reading! So… as mentioned the sudden reversal in the Harbaugh story now lends some credence to the old acquaintances/teammates from yesterday who were predicting Harbaugh to Michigan in the face of the Twitter army. I'm still a little leery that the only thing out there other than this site that says M-to-Harbaugh isn't dead is John Elway's random opinions on the radio, but…
- Solid source says Harbaugh and Brandon will speak today. There is a separate, extremely fuzzy and probably untrue rumor that it's happening in Phoenix.
- Another says Ross spent most of his time with Harbaugh badgering him about taking the Michigan job, not making him richer than Stephen Ross, and that Michigan is "still in the game" but Andrew Luck's dastardly desire to get a degree isn't helping.
As of 1:30 PM on Friday 1/7, there seems to be a chance.
Hat. Despite my antipathy for Miles—it's a sign of the fanbase's vast desperation that people are trying to talk themselves into the guy—I'm duty-bound to report that a southern correspondent reports that LSU fans are rumbling about losing Miles shortly after the Tigers play A&M tonight. These are fuzzy indeed.
There is also a random thread on Tiger Droppings saying players think Miles is gone as well because in private he's been "much more melancholy," which what the hell does that mean?
I've repeatedly stated the reasons Miles makes no sense—repeat "he will be sixty in three years" if nothing else works for you—and there's an element of wishful thinking around the reports since losing Miles to Michigan would resolve the great idiot/genius debate surrounding him.
Hoke. Endorsed by Jason Whitlock.
Patterson: door not exactly closed. This seems like a guy who will at least listen:
"No, I haven't been contacted," Patterson told 105.3-The Fan. "I've got a great job here.
"TCU has a chance to be maybe the No. 2 or No. 1 team (next season), depending on what poll, in the nation. Maybe we are one of those people (elite programs) now. That's what I've been trying to build the program to get to. Michigan has a great tradition and is a great university. I'll cross that bridge when I get there."
Someone talk to him, yes? I mean, seriously. Someone contact him.