spread n shred
Profiling, again. The Daily continues its streak of crushing everyone out there with Michigan football profiles, this time hitting up Deerfield Beach for the Denard Robinson story. Cue adorable child who doesn't like you stealing her soul:
Also let's not forget that making Shoelace, Denard Robinson, for uh, shirt, you know, within the NCAA—that isn't legal.
The story itself is another epic five-pager. Sounds like he was a natural:
“He loved to run that ball,” Huggins says, looking over his old stomping grounds at Westside Park. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, call quarterback sneak!’ I’d tell him no, to hand it off, and so he’d fake the handoff and keep it and run for a ton of yards.”
Zone read from the start. This is a read the whole thing situation.
From "it won't work in the Big Ten" to this. Illinois blog Hail to the Orange (wait… what?) on Saturday:
The difference is, and the major problem on Saturday, was that with Michigan when we bit, we paid dearly, every time. It seemed as though just one missed tackle, one bad angle and the punishment was a touchdown. We were running a contain game most of the day against Denard, and we paid because there was relatively little pressure against him, giving his receivers too much time to get open, and when combined with a play action always were open. The result: 305 PASSING yards from the Nard dog.
There were of course some bright spots. We have continued the trend of taking the ball away from the other team and not giving it back. (Five TO's recovered, to one lost.) Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, this will equate to a win.
We will not see another team this offensively talented this season (pending a bowl bid) generally we can improve our decision making in the secondary enough to not give up constant 75 yard bombs, at least I hope not.
Here's the crazy thing: that first bit on "paid dearly, every time" isn't even true. You know that interception Denard zinged over Webb's head? That's either a touchdown or Webb gets run down from behind as Michigan switched up the QB Lead Oh Noes from the slot receiver to the TE. The safety who intercepted the ball was headed for Roundtree and dead meat until the ball went ZING. I've got two separate RPS+3 plays that end in disaster for Michigan already. If anything, Michigan's immolation of the Illinois defense is even more impressive on review because it could have been considerably worse if Denard makes a few better throws. I think we've established that Denard's not going to make great throws all the time, but man… in the UFR Michigan's going to have a huge RPS number.
The whole thing's driven Vic Koennig to despondency:
"They get you in a run, run, run mode then they drop back and hit a pass on you. They had us running around and not doing anything well."
Fair? No. Accurate? Yes. User Tom Pickle with the win.
Sorry about nearly killing you. That guy who got plowed on the sideline during Tate's double personal foul keeper in overtime was actually Channel 7's Don Shane. The two shared a heartwarming moment afterwards:
He's got the flags to prove it, Don.
More advanced metricing. Michigan's moved up to #3 nationally in FO's S&P ratings… on offense. They're just behind Auburn and Boise State, #1 on "standard downs" and #6 on pass downs. Ohio State(!) is a surprising #5, and then the next Big Ten team is #17 Wisconsin. Michigan is #98 on defense. Woo.
I also asked Brian Fremeau for Michigan's kickoff numbers to see if that aspect of the game is actually hurting them much. I asked him last week and never got around to posting them, so these are a little out of date. In an effort to reduce confusion I'm going to flip signs so negative is always bad and positive is good. The units here are in average points away from expectation.
Kickoffs: –0.054 (79th)
Kick Return: –0.099 (95th)
Punts: +0.101 (13th)
Punt return: –0.023 (77th)
What this means is for every ten Michigan punts Michigan has saved a point in expected field position; for every ten kick returns they've lost a point in expected field position. So.
- Points on kickoffs (58): -3.1
- Points on kick returns (56): -5.5
- Points on punts (30): +3.0
- Points on punt returns(40): –0.9
Grand total: around –6.5 pending how Michigan's performance against Illinois changes the numbers (I'm guessing it doesn't change much since Michigan gave up some good returns but also busted the long one before the half).
Meanwhile, Michigan's no longer national-worst kickers (up to 117!) are –1.0 per FGA. They've attempted 11, so the field goal situation is almost twice as damaging as the rest of it. All told Michigan's losing about two points a game on special teams, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that flipping that stat would take Michigan's scoring margin from +5 to +9.
Belated Free Press denouement. I had football to talk about and didn't get around to this but a few bits and pieces to wrap up the jihad. A national take from Doc Sat:
The tepid infractions that came to light as a result of the Freep's digging are the minimum you'd expect to find at any sprawling program operating under a massive handbook, as the basic cost of employing fallible human beings while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile coach who almost immediately cleaved the fan base down the middle. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan that was forced to roll its eyes and slap itself on the wrist in halfhearted contrition as the "probation" label is applied for the first time in school history.
Chait drops Chaitbombs to the point where the fiancée thinks she should use this…
Here's the headline of one report: "RichRod gets win, but still needs more on field" Here's the headline of a second: "UM's violations deemed major, but not serious" And here's a third: "NCAA's verdict: Rodriguez ignored rules; U-M gets more probation"
Those headlines came from ESPN, the Detroit News, and the Detroit Free Press. You can probably guess which was which.
“We apologized yesterday because we made mistakes. I’m kinda waiting for somebody from the media to apologize for mistakes they made. And I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but that would be a nice thing, wouldn’t it?”
And of course the guy who asked if Rodriguez would be fired and got a death glare was Drew Sharp. Brandon should have asked "when is the Free Press going to fire you?"
Etc.: Wisconsin's John Clay and starting center Peter Konz are "iffy" for this week's game against Indiana. Sounds like they should be good to go for Michigan but sprains can be weird. This Week In Schadenfreude does not feature Colorado because no Colorado fans care anymore. Anything can happen in dead coach walking situations and fans will just shrug and talk about who the next guy is going to be. Michigan State is 9-1 for the first time in a million years and they still can't sell out their game against Purdue without resorting to two-for-one deals.
I feel happy!
Every offseason there is someone (often named Gary Danielson) who goes on record proclaiming the doom of the spread offense and a return to the paleolithic days when quarterbacks were pale and made of granite. The best and dumbest remains this from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
This may sound strange when coach Mike Leach's version of the spread has Texas Tech near a national title game, but Michigan's struggles this season while Rodriguez has implemented his system into college football's winningest program might be a sign: The spread, in fact, is dead.
The scheme was designed to give underdogs some hope, when a team could open up the field by recruiting a smaller quarterback with a sharp mind and a quick release, and a handful of speedy receivers. But the offense intended to confound the big boys has now been adopted by the big boys, and that may have started its demise.
But that was two years ago.
This year's evidence centered heavily on…
Texas abandoning the vestigal Vince Young-y bits from its offense after the graduation of Colt McCoy and ascension of monolithic Garrett Gilbert to the helm:
With the exit of Colt McCoy, so goes the shotgun spread for the Texas Longhorns. For the 2010 season, Mack Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis have decided to go under center with starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
Going under center could mean the beginning of the end for the spread, a style that was made popular by powerhouse SEC programs and then picked up by other conferences.
Florida abandoning the Tebow offense in favor of a conventional pocket passer:
Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio tweaked the spread offense to tailor Brantley’s strengths, putting him under center more and eliminating many designed quarterback runs.
The effectiveness of Alabama's traditional battering ram of an offense featuring returning Heisman winner Mark Ingram:
When Alabama prevailed last season, it was with gnarly defense and a vanilla offensive scheme — albeit led by Heisman Trophy-winning back Mark Ingram.
That profile in turn had ripples for Texas, a 37-21 loser to the Crimson Tide in the title game, that perhaps suggest a shift in the broader landscape.
and spread 'n' shred HQ Michigan sucking:
How are these memes working out so far?
Texas fans are livid that Mack Brown's handpicked talent couldn't manage a meaningful touchdown against UCLA:
What is the Texas offensive scheme? My answer- We have a spread that we pass out of 80% of the time, and an under-center formation we run out of 80% of the time. We use the spread 70 – 80% of the time against quality opposition. We call very few running plays for the QB- just a couple of called QB draws per game. We don’t run zone read or lead option, which were core plays for us the last several years. Our offense has an H-back that can block on running plays or be a receiving option on pass plays.
The proposed short term solution is to utilize "more zone reads and option runs" and use whichever quarterback has the best combination of running and throwing ability.
Florida fans were clawing their eyes out after managing just over 200 yards of total offense against Miami (Not That Miami) and just over 300 against Tennessee (Also Pretty Much Not That Tennessee) but found joy in the redzone in the form of one Trey Burton:
The freshman scored six touchdowns in Florida's 48-14 victory over Kentucky, including five rushing as a quarterback in the Wildcat formation. The feat broke Tebow's old record of five touchdowns against South Carolina in 2007. … On Wednesday, UF offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said Burton's role as a quarterback in the Wildcat package likely will expand as the season progresses. Burton's role might be similar to the role Tebow played as a freshman, when he was a changeup to starter Chris Leak, who led the Gators to the BCS national title in 2006.
Alabama's grinding non-spread attack is sixth in total offense and just took out their most difficult competition to date by doing this with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson:
Ingram took eight handoffs out of the wildcat, nine from the pistol, three from shotgun and four when the quarterback was under center. Richardson only took eight handoffs, with his two biggest gains, 53 and 10, out of shotgun.
For those counting, Mark Ingram took four of 24 snaps from a conventional I-form against a top ten foe on the road.
Finally, no one's laughing at half of Michigan's team now:
Also there is Cam Newton, though Auburn highlight technology has a decidedly Soviet feel to it. FWIW four weeks into the season (almost nothing), three of the top four offenses in the country are dyed-in-the-wool spreads that feature a ton of quarterback runs: Michigan, Oregon, and Nevada.
We now return you to your regular programming, and Gary Danielson to the alternate universe he spends six days a week in.
CLARIFICATION: The title is just a Revolutionary Road reference. Trust me, if I get in a fight with the fiancee the internet will not be informed.
Dedication II. Michigan will dedicate its soccer stadium Friday with a game against Notre Dame at 7:30. Their latest home game featured an 89th minute winner from Justin Meram; freshman Soony Saad is tearing up the nets. It should be a good game: Michigan is 3-1-1 on the year, Notre Dame 5-1-1. I'm planning on going. Stop by and say hi if you're around.
Roundtree fluff. Further adventures in incredibly easy to root for Wolverines:
One dollar they pull the #1 out of mothballs for him next year.
Getting blown up. As we all await Denard Robinson's inevitable dissolution into a pile of smiling but sadly immobile goo, Michigan bloggers are working overtime to compile excessively researched nuh-uhs that metro Detroit talk radio blitherers don't care about and couldn't understand even if they did. MGoFootball went over the tape in an attempt to determine just who is hitting Denard and how badly:
|Front 7||2nd Level||Down/Slide||Not Touched|
What does this mean? I have no idea. MGoFootball has some opinions back at his place, though. Meanwhile, In Rod We Trust looks back at a selection of do-everything QBs in college football, finding that… eh… they don't hold up too badly, actually. Which you probably knew already.
GERG fairy dust update. Mouton on Mouton:
"I focused on the little things in the offseason," Jonas says. …
"It's the mental side of the game," Jonas offers in a rare sound bite running longer than 10 seconds. "Instead of relying on my athletic ability so much, I wanted to improve the little things. I watched extra hours of film. I worked on studying routes and formations." …
"Coach Robinson has been great," Jonas says. "He's helped me learn what to study. I'm better at reading routes, recognizing alignments and formations."
Note that the official site is getting friskty. The Mouton story mentions his "badass beard" and they've even got a "definitive guide to Tom Brady's hair" that chronicles his ascension from Lloyd Christmas to David Beckham. My favorite is the Leonardo DiCaprio:
If he was just wearing a WVU hat the look would be complete.
Profilin'. The Daily catches up with Jason Avant…
“I thought Coach Carr was genuine,” Avant said. “I thought he was tough and I thought he went out of his way to come out to the projects, where most of the coaches were scared to come and visit me.”
…and the Philadelphia newspapers gawk at Brandon Graham's Detroit origins:
"Where I grew up, a lot of stuff goes on - just from being out and with the wrong people," Graham says. "There were a lot of different cliques. I had friends, but they all had different friends. Some people had friends that were off into drugs. Some people had friends who were out looking to steal things. It was crazy.'
Both reinforce that Avant and Graham are amongst the best people to come through Michigan in the last decade.
Forever dumb. Long, long ago in 2005 when every college football blog talked to every other college football blog because there were a half-dozen total, there was a sissy-boy blogger slapfight over whether or not throwing a jumble of completely unrelated teams together and declaring them the vanguard of a New College Football because of, like, similarities and stuff was visionary or asinine. Thunderous slaps resonated across the blogosphere, no one was convinced of anything, and eventually everyone forgot about it UNTIL RIGHT NOW:
About five years ago, I spent a lot of time and energy writing about the emergence of the spread and how it would change college football–yes, even the crusty offenses of the SEC. I admit I didn’t always get all the minor details or predictions right (I famously thought that Boise would beat Georgia in 2006), but the big picture was overwhelmingly correct: Offense was no longer going to be played in a phone booth, the entire field would finally be used, deception was on the rise and the quarterback position was changing.
But back then, the notion of the spread being dominant in college football was controversial. It would never work in the SEC, said the average blogger, who had eaten his three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust wheaties every morning for breakfast for as long as he could remember and couldn’t quite wrap his head around the concept. Now, most teams in college football run some form of the spread and it is the pro style attacks that are the dinosaurs in retreat.
Oh no he di'in't. As per usual, HP is has a persuasive ability equivalent to Lane Kiffin's PR skills. To review: back in the long long ago, HP selected a "Gang of Six" teams that were 1) super good on offense, 2) "sophisticated," and 3) coming off nice records in 2004. His theory was that these teams represented a new way of playing football because they could run and pass, or something. He never really explained it.
Anyway, these teams and their 2005 quarterback rushing:
- USC: 55 carries for 25 yards.
- Cal: 76 carries for 100 yards.
- Louisville: 53 carries for –88 yards.
- Boise State: 107 carries for 262 yards.
- Utah: 152 carries for 478 yards
- Florida: 105 carries for 81 yards
Collectively these teams averaged 7.6 quarterback rushing attempts per game including sacks and averaged 1.6 YPC on those attempts. Whatever these teams shared (basically nothing since USC and Cal were pro-style, Louisville and Boise Purdue-style passing spreads, and Utah and Florida actual-ish spread 'n' shreds) Denard Robinson and the "evolution of the quarterback" had exactly nothing to do with it. The argument here was never that spread offenses were something other than the future of football's metagame (just check the Gary Danielson reactions for evidence) but that HP, specifically, was making an argument so inane it can't even be rebutted because it boils down to "these offenses are good so they are good."
An actually perceptive argument along these lines would have flagged West Virginia (graduating Rasheed Marshall but about to take off on the White rocket), Texas (Vince Young in bloom), Texas A&M (17th in total offense with Reggie McNeal), Penn State (Michael Robinson revival), and Missouri (Brad Smith) as members of a new wave of offense. None of those teams came in for a mention. HP is dumb. Always.
Etc.: Excellent Denard Heisman photoshop. Braves & Birds on the effect of having Denard Robinson as the face of the program instead of NCAA violations. The NCAA wants to lay down the law. Pat White on Denard: "he's a beast."
Let's get Denarded. Since it will be on the message board forever and ever amen and discussed until the weekend: e-reports say that Tate Forcier's facebook status yesterday was about having a bad day and somewhere in the comment thread spawned by that—probably made band fiasco look tame—Tate mentioned he would not be starting this weekend, and then hurriedly deleted that because duh. All of this is in the realm of quasi-fact that the efix* is so good at condescendingly mocking.
…but. But Forcier is probably going to miss a little bit of time against Wisconsin for an exceedingly minor violation of team rules. This is not for sure. It is probable.
*(see what I did there?)
Elsewhere in terrible diseases unfairly striking young ex-Wolverines, Vada Murray got some excellent news a few days ago:
We heard the word we long to hear......s
hrink...... from his recent ct. Both tumors are getting smaller and for the first time, his oncologist, who rarely shows emotion, was ecstatic.
The bus. You are under it. I can't believe we've gone this long without mentioning Troy Woolfolk gently depositing Scott Shafer in the wheel-wells of an AATA conveyance in the Monday press conference:
"Honestly, I feel way more comfortable in this system," Woolfolk said. "Last year, I think we had great execution, but just the defense wasn't working. Versus this year, the defense is working. ... It's just a matter of us being able to do it all the time."
In there is all you need to know about why Scott Shafer got cut loose. Everyone remembers that the staff's first instinct after Shafer was unofficially relieved of duties was to go to the disastrous 3-3-5 that Justin Siller will talk about when he is 65, but also remember what Michigan installed the next week: a dead simple 4-2-5 nickel with Brandon Harrison back in his old spot that shut down Minnesota and did well against Northwestern before getting overrun in the second half against Ohio State.
Yeah, pretty much. Orson's graphs touch on Michigan this week:
That is all.
What is with the cantankerous? Ex-Michigan folk in the coaching ranks are pre-disposed to mouthiness. Miles: "have a nice day." Harbaugh: "Pete Carroll, I bite my thumb at thee." Corwin Brown: "Navy is a dirty cut-blocking team that has no class."
Slightly touchy in South Bend these days.
Freshmen recast. It's typical that the LA Times put together a useful chart of freshman quarterback stats and then ordered them by yardage and didn't even bother to include completion percentage. The stats recast and ordered by YPA (asterisks denote redshirt freshmen):
|*Andrew Luck, Stanford||216||126||2076||11||3||58.3%||9.61|
|*B.J. Daniels, S. Florida||122||64||1096||10||6||52.5%||8.98|
|Matt Barkley, USC||221||125||1839||10||7||56.6%||8.32|
|Tom Savage, Rutgers||168||94||1341||8||1||56.0%||7.98|
|Tate Forcier, Michigan||217||122||1636||10||5||56.2%||7.54|
|*Kevin Prince, UCLA||184||105||1264||5||5||57.1%||6.87|
|*Landry Jones, Okla.||287||169||1902||17||11||58.9%||6.63|
|Jeff Tuel, Wash. State||121||71||789||6||5||58.7%||6.52|
|*Ryan Griffin, Tulane||135||89||838||4||3||65.9%||6.21|
|Cody Green, Nebraska||59||33||317||2||2||55.9%||5.37|
|Brock Osweiler, Ariz. St.||45||19||235||2||1||42.2%||5.22|
Forcier compares favorably to every true freshman on the list save maybe Tom Savage when you take rushing into account, and he didn't even get to play against Baby Seal U. Those are real numbers.
The culture of the thing. I've had this open in a tab for a while now and people keep emailing it to me, so it might be time to cite this post on Smart Football from a run-and-shoot devotee (and former Big 12 coach) about installing his offense and his culture. The key point from a Michigan perspective:
Before discussing the technical benefits, let me first say that operating exclusively out of a four-wide environment is the first step a coach makes towards acculturating his program to the offense. To run the run and shoot effectively, it is necessary to commit to it entirely. Coaches that retain the ability to use tight ends, h-backs, and multiple-back sets create a crutch upon which they can fall back on when things don’t go as well as they’d like in the early going. Inevitably, what happens then is that the team becomes a multiple-set team that uses some run and shoot packages on passing downs. What never happens, however, is that the team converts to the run and shoot culture. And without that, the coaches and the players never become fully comfortable in the system, and then when the team struggles more, they blame the system.
When you decide to run this offense you need to burn your bridges with the past. You have to declare, “This is what we will sink or swim with. We are a run and shoot team.”
If anyone is still cranky about Rodriguez installing his offense from day one—default link to "Golden Age Of Tin" here—there it is in black and white from someone who would know. Also you're asking a dancing bear to do your taxes, but whatever.
Quod erat demonstrandum. Deadspin runs anonymous email from asshat that claims Arizona State's baseball coach is a vile person and SHOCK SURPRISE ALARM it turns out the asshat's email was a complete fabrication. At no point does it occur to Deadspin that they are also acting like asshats. Meanwhile, Leitch returns to write an excellent column on Bill Simmons. Deadspin shark-jump QED.
Suggestion: write in totally fabricated stories to Deadspin and publicly retract them via this space when and if they get published. 1,000,000 mgopoints* to anyone who successfully executes this maneuver.
I stole this bit from Joe Posnanski.)
Em. Pahokee native, Michigan recruit, Florida decommit, Kiffin controversy source (who isn't), and current and possibly soon-to-be ex- Tennessee Vol Nu'Keese Richardson is in a spot of bother:
University of Tennessee freshman football players Janzen Jackson, Nu’Keese Richardson and Mike Edwards were arrested near campus this morning and charged in connection with an armed robbery, multiple sources confirmed to the Times Free Press.
That Mike Edwards kid was also nominally a Michigan recruit, as he's from Cleveland and went to "Glenville Academic Campus," the home of Ted Ginn Sr and a bunch of recruits who only list Michigan to screw with them.
Relevance to Michigan's program? Tangential at best. I guess it's good we dodged a bullet there.
Etc.: I can't believe Corey Tropp is playing against Michigan this weekend. Seriously: the hell. That kid should be in junior with his goon buddy, not facing off against Steve Kampfer.
Annoying reminder. Acquire your cancer kicker bracelets by donating on the right sidebar and help out Phil Brabbs. You will feel like much less of a heel after you do this. Brabbs and his wife also have a video blog up about their first week with Brabbs on chemotherapy.
Oops. You know, I saw this Daily article detailing this new pitch play Michigan was working on, and I thought "that's really cool, I wonder why more practice articles aren't this specific":
In a rotation that was repeated about four times, a quarterback and running back lined up to practice a simple outside pitch play. Though the play was basic, the pairings were different than usual.
FTR: Rodriguez apparently mentioned "blogs" a couple times when announcing that practice is closed. I'm not sure why, since this place hasn't detailed any specific plays Michigan was running during the open section of practice. Any mentions I've made of plays I'd like Michigan to run (tight end shovel! Denard as Percy Harvin!) are total speculation. Total speculation that should be immediately inserted into the playbook, but total speculation nonetheless.
Hanging by a thread, but possibly a thick one. Boubacar Cissoko missed the Iowa game, of course, and has been indefinitely suspended by Rodriguez for matters on the practice field and in the classroom. Weird little fib here:
Cissoko told a reporter earlier in the day he didn't travel with the team because he was "banged up," but would return in the next game.
I guess that's good? Like Cissoko wants to be on the team and might pull out of his tailspin? Or it's bad because he's a nasty fibber. I don't know. Cissoko Transfer DEFCON should be set at 3. He is still practicing with the team:
"Playing football is important to him," Rodriguez said. “And I think his academics are important. But to what level? It has to be at the right level."
I should clarify something I said on the radio yesterday that caused a message board thread; if I said a Cissoko transfer is "likely" that was in error. I meant to say it seemed possible without putting any sort of spin on how likely, or unlikely, that was to occur. Sometimes in the talking you say things less precise than you want to.
(Side note: every time someone shows up on MGoBoard with inside information they're roundly laughed at and negged, and then their info turns out to be accurate. This has happened with Craig Roh starting, Forcier's shoulder injury being more than a bruise, about which more later, and Cissoko not making the trip to Iowa City. MGoBlog is way more locked down that MLive; yes lol Chris Perry's broken leg but let's take context into account. Even someone with 50 points has put in 100x times more cred than an anonymous poster somewhere else. Information on the internet is usually good.)
The Salters thing. There's been quite a bit made of the Lisa Salters quote about Forcier's interaction with Rodriguez on the sideline just before he got pulled. The exact words, according to AA.com:
When a rattled Forcier came to the sideline, Salters said, “He kind of looked over at Coach saying, ‘I don’t know what you want me to do.’”
That sounds like speculation to me, not a direct quote.
The shoulder thing. Jason Forcier is pinged by the Daily and spills a bit more on Tate's shoulder injury:
His shoulder is more injured than I think the public realizes," Jason said. "It's the same thing (Oklahoma quarterback) Sam Bradford did. Maybe not as severe, but an AC joint is an AC joint. Once you injure it, it's hurt for the rest of the year." …
"(Tate)'s being tough," Jason said. "But he's playing against guys that are over three times his size."
Um… that would make Tate approximately 110 pounds. Which seems less improbable when you're talking about Forcier than any other quarterback hanging around, but still pretty improbable.
Meanwhile, this Rodriguez quote on Forcier's practice time from the same article confirms one of this site's theories about the super-lame offense against Michigan State this year:
"His shoulder really limited his practice time the last couple of weeks, but it didn't bother him too much in the game," Rodriguez said. "
This no doubt slowed Michigan's piecemeal installation of the vast and multivariate spread 'n' shred, allowing Michigan State to tee off on the plays they'd already seen with impunity and preventing Michigan from providing the sort of counter-punch they'd like to. A game against a 1-3 I-AA team should allow Michigan a couple weeks to put in new stuff for Penn State, and Forcier's shoulder should continue to get more cooperative as the year goes along.
Brunnnndidge. Our 2011 PG/SG commit is on the youtubes, pretending to get interviewed by ESPN:
HE LIKES MATH! This actually took place after Carlton's freshman year, FWIW, and two months ago someone called him a lawya in the comments. Law on, lawya.
I'll fight the bear. Iowa's evident effort at targeting Donovan Warren was weird to me, and weird to Troy Woolfolk:
Woolfolk, who made four tackles Saturday, said he was surprised Iowa didn’t challenge him more.
“I was like really shocked,” he said. “I asked myself, 'Why aren't they attacking me, the fresh, young blood in the water.' They just kept going to Donovan.”
Iowa got some completions on Warren but it cost them, and the stuff they did get was often of the miracle-throw or safety-bust variety. It seemed foolhardy. Iowa did chuck a couple fades at Woolfolk but neither was completed.
Flowers for Algernon. Michigan Monday is getting pretty stupid of late:
For the game, the Wolverines carried the ball 45 times for 195 yards, a decent 4.3-yard average. Last week Michigan State held Michigan to 28 yards on 28 carries, so obviously things were better than the last time out, but I’m far from convinced that the Wolverines’ running game is “back”.
Of those 195 yards, 53 of them came on a drive in the third quarter where the Wolverines ran the ball almost exclusively from under the center. The drive ended in a touchdown, but the fact that Michigan had to go away from their true running style should be cause for concern. To further badmouth the running game, we need to also mention Michigan’s final two drives of the game, which saw Denard Robinson inserted for a benched Tate Forcier. Michigan started the first drive with 7:42 remaining, down by nine points. Iowa was more than happy to let the Wolverines run the ball the rest of the game, and that’s essentially what they did, rushing for 50 yards on their last two drives.
Basically, over half of Michigan’s rushing yards came when Iowa was happy to see the run or when Tate Forcier was under center, meaning the zone read was pretty well shut down again.
Blather about "true running style": inane.
Rodriguez's true running style is "whatever works," and I kind of doubt Iowa was happy to have Michigan run the ball down the field for a touchdown on a drive that started with eight minutes left, especially once the ball got inside the 20. Michigan didn't turn in a dominating day but consistently creased the Iowa OL and got good yardage all night; they did not break big runs because part of the reason for the consistent success was Iowa laying back with two deep safeties and waiting for Michigan to screw up, which they did. There's plenty to criticize about a Michigan team likely headed for a December bowl game of no note, so why twist yourself into knots in an attempt to knock down the one consistently good aspect of the team?
Outside perspective. Okay, we're off the high of the Notre Dame game and discontent and arguing with people who are yet more discontent still. At this point, though, it's clear that the true disaster projections—which seemed a possibility as Michigan nervously prepared for the Western Michigan game—have gone by the wayside. We're left with those preseason projections, which built in the information that Rich Rodriguez is a very good football coach. Doctor Saturday provides some perspective:
The fact that the Wolverines were banged up, outgained, and reckless with the ball and still only fell by two with a realistic to chance to knock off a conference frontrunner on the road would have been regarded as a very optimistic step five weeks ago, when we were unsure of Rodriguez's grasp on the team. Premature Heisman sites were launched and visions of New Year's Day had begun to dance in September, but this was supposed to be a 7-5 team struggling through growing pains en route to the Champs Sports, and it's beginning to shape up as exactly that.
Whee bowls. The Big Ten has picked up the Gator Bowl, which will be a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup but at least it's a boring SEC-Big Ten matchup that's slanted in the Big Ten's favor. And then they're adding some new thing in the Cotton Bowl:
A new bowl game to be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas will have the No. 7 pick from the Big Ten, which likely will face a team from the Big 12 or Conference USA. The Cotton Bowl Classic will move to Dallas Cowboys Stadium beginning in January, and the new bowl is expected to be played around Jan. 1.
This bumps the Motor City down to #8 and essentially cancels any relationship between the Big Ten and it unless there's just a glut of 6-6 teams one year. Hopefully this is never relevant.
Concussion pants. Notes on Michigan's concussions: both Tate and Brown are good to go for Delaware State.
Etc.: Bowl projections have Michigan in the Champs, Insight, or Alamo against Kansas, Wake, Oklahoma State, or UNC. Bowl projections aren't very useful right now. MSU folk have put up their UFR-O equivalent; this one's way less depressing than the one that handles the other side of the ball.
Beat that dead horse beat it beat it beat that dead horse yeah
Gary Danielson keeps banging the anti-spread drum, although that may be because he's the only man in America you can call for a quote about how the spread is dumb. Some guy in West Virginia did—complete with Rodriguez slam, natch—and got a litany of quotes to the same effect.
I only bring it up because this seems like the exact worst argument you could ever make about anything:
Danielson said the spread's weakness was displayed late in the Illinois-Missouri season opener when Mizzou needed one more first down to seal the win, "and on third-and-3 they had nobody in the backfield to run the ball except (Heisman Trophy-candidate QB) Chase Daniel.
These are the ways in which this argument is the worst argument ever:
- This event never happened. The only Mizzou third and three in the fourth quarter came with just under 13 minutes left on the clock. (Daniel threw incomplete.)
- At no point was Illinois within a score of Missouri, so "sealing the win" isn't exactly of paramount importance.
- This game between two spread teams (with garbage defenses, sure) featured 94 points and over 1000 total yards.
Oh, wait, this might be worse:
"I don't mean we're going back to grind-it-out football. I think every team will have to have their four-receiver sets, but I think in the future coaches are going to realize they have to be able to hand the ball to the tailback, too."
West Virginia ran 76% of the time last year, Northwestern, etc etc etc.
A few days ago when I pointed out that nine of the top ten offenses in the country were "spread" offenses some commenters protested that any grouping of offenses that included Illinois and Texas Tech was too broad to be meaningful. I agree with that. HOWEVA, Danielson groups Missouri and West Virginia and Michigan all together; anything in a shotgun with more than two wide receivers is the "spread." This makes his argument the "spread" is on the way out obviously untrue.
If Danielson was specifically addressing the Rodriguez-WVU spread there might be a case to make, but he'd have to make it in a significantly less dumb fashion. A fashion like this:
When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball all over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.
That's Smart Football, and that's something to be legitimately concerned about. I'm not sure if we'll get a read on whether or not he's progressing in this area with these quarterbacks and this offensive line, but I plan on pinging Smart Football's proprietor Chris after the year to find out if he's detected any adaptations.