things go poorly
taylor martinez throws like a girl who can't throw a football
Cause they're such B1G Newbs, get it?
Welcome bloggers to installment the third of a new regular MGoFeature, and the only one that gives you free stuff. Usually it'll be something from the MGoStore; occasionally someone will donate or sponsor a different item. It works like thusly:
- Wednesday mornings I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
- You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
- The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
- Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.
About Last Week:
MANBALL indeed. Eschewing such newfangled contraptions as downfield passes and touchdowns, the Hokemen finally defeated those irksome helots by an andric score of 12-10. Unfortunately none of you lawn-tramping whippersnappers could imagine such a manful accounting, and therefore I am keeping the prize. And giving it to this week's winner instead. JACKPOT T-SHIRTS!
This Week's Game:
According to a leading agribusiness consultant, brown = bad.
The Nebraska Cornshuckers vs. the Michigan Wolverines: 2012 football edition.
Drought conditions and a throwing motion not seen since the Cretaceous led to record highs for corn this year after the USDA published its bleak report on expected touchdown yields. Though prices have come down somewhat after a surprisingly large crop of points were harvested in a 63-38 loss to Ohio State, these next several weeks, starting this Saturday, will be critical to shaping a market still dogged with questions like "Who's going to win the Bo Division?" and "Is Burkhead healthy?" and "Do they have a defense?" and "Didn't Wisconsin already have those uniforms?"
You, loyal reader, can take this opportunity to let people know you are up to date on the state of agribusiness, and ready to talk futures.
GUESS MICHIGAN'S TOTAL RUSHING YARDS ON SATURDAY
The director has given us several more pairs, so I'm gonna keep giving them to people. If you're going to be around Ann Arbor at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, we have two free tickets to the premier of PERSEVERANCE-The Story of Billy Taylor.
Taylor was an All-American running back who broke Michigan's career rushing record (and ended second to Harmon in TDs) while playing for the early Bo teams. Personal tragedies sparked a downward spiral that ruined his pro career and sent him through 25 years of hell. Then he got back up. If you go to the event you'll get to meet Taylor and several other Michigan luminaries. Note: whether you've got our tickets or just wanna go, make sure you get to the Michigan Theater at least a half-hour early or risk losing the seat.
Closest to the pin wins (tie goes to the over).
Notes: If you win the shirt and prefer another shirt, that's cool; pick an MGoShirt.
Rules: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). If nobody gets the score, this week's prize carries over to the following week's. Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game (since I won't have time to pull them on gamedays). MGoEmployees and Moderators--anyone else with moderator privileges--are exempt from winning because you could change your timestamp. If you choose the score that Brian published in the official preview and it actually ends up the final score, well, that would be pretty amazing because Brian picks scores like 29-11 all the time.
Brian Cook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to Ace, Heiko, Seth
Subject: Re: the draft in which whoever drafts denard wins
I've been enraged by the weird six-round BTN draft that makes no sense and want to do it for our site as a sort of All Big Ten preseason preview gimmick post.
Rules: Inverse snake. Everyone drafts a full team of 11 offensive/defensive players, two kickers, a FB/HB type (assuming 3 WR), and a nickelback. You can move people around within reason (OL, DL, LB) but those moves will be looked upon skeptically by your fellow drafters and viciously attacked when it comes to make a case for your teams. Once the three other players have drafted a position, the last to go must pick the last player at that position within two rounds*.
When we are done we put the thing to a user vote after making our case. Whoever has Denard wins.
*[to prevent QBs going 1st, 2nd, third, and dead last. Example: third tailback off the board is the second pick of the third round. Fourth player does not have to draft a tailback until the fifth round, but must do so.]
I used random.org to set the draft order, which is:
SETH, who will win since he will get Denard
ACE, who does not get Denard
HEIKO, who also does not get Denard
BRIAN, who also does not get Denard
Wait don't I get time to think...?
PICK: Denard Robinson, quarterback, MEEEEESHIGAN
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M)
CURRENT D: [players TBA]
BRIEF EXPLANATION: He can run. He can throw. And you can all eat crow. Not that this requires an explanation but I'll give one anyway: Robinson is a senior quarterback who might also be the Big Ten's best rusher. His passing game has suffered through growing pains of learning various offenses, which is to say the piper's bill has been paid and I get to reap the rewards of a more polished passer who understands many different concepts. The threat of him running opens up everything else, and now he has the experience to exploit everything else. He's a zero academic and personality risk, and the kind of guy you can build everything else upon.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: I'm gonna go giggle for awhile while you guys fight over Rex Burkhead or something.
PICK: Montee Ball, running back, Wisconsin
BRIEF EXPLANATION: For starters, Ball tied a record set by Barry Sanders (39 TDs in a season), which doesn't happen every day/year/decade. Everybody knows that Wisconsin is going to line up and hand the ball to, er, Ball, but he still managed to average 6.26 yards per carry last season. He's remarkably consistent: his 109 total yards against South Dakota represented his lowest total in the 2011 season. Also, has not lost a fumble in 617 career touches. If I can't have Denard (*shakes fist in Seth's general direction*), I'll take being able to hand it off to this guy 25 times a game.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Ha, good one.
Current O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU)
Current D: Offense.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Braxton Miller should approach the production of 2010 Denard Robinson. OSU RB Jordan Hall will be iffy the first few games coming off a foot laceration, so Miller is going to have to account for a lot of the ground game because he is the team's other most effective rusher. He's also a quarterback (Dear Jim Bollman:
Surprise!). When he was actually allowed to throw during the most recent spring game, he went 24/31 for 258 yards. That's pretty good for having just a month to learn Urban Meyer's offense. With another fall camp's worth of practice and the luxury of a real defense, staying healthy will be Miller's only obstacle to having a monster season.
Yes I lifted this from 11W.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Shotty Zach Boren.
CURRENT O: Taylor Lewan (LT, M)
CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: With spread quarterbacks I actually want gone I'll go the Tony Gonzalez route and draft the guy with the most relative value left on the board. That's Lewan, the Big Ten's only elite pass protector this year. He also doubles as a donkey-mauling run blocker. He's deflecting NFL draft speculation before his junior year even happens, and he's an offensive lineman. Whoever I get at QB will have a clean blindside all day. And will suck. But whatever.
With the first pick of the second round, I'll grab John Simon, the muscle-bound OSU SDE who's the 2012 version of Mike Martin in terms of interior-ish defensive linemen who will not stay blocked. 17 TFLs a year ago and seven sacks, and he's poised to increase those numbers to the 20 TFL level as he moves from "LEO"—OSU's label for WDE—to the strongside position that's a better fit for him. He doesn't have NFL size but he does show up to work out at approximately the time I'm going to sleep.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Montee Ball is a product of the Wisconsin offensive line and is liable to have five unknown assailants tackle him for loss on any given play. GAMES ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES AAAAAAAAHHHHH.
PICK: Taylor Martinez, quarterback, Nebraska.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QRB, Nebraska)
CURRENT D: Just you wait.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Whoa whoa whoa WHOA. Did I just draft two quarterbacks? [Pause for effect] Yes I did. But that's not allowed! Yes it is. You said we could move offensive players around within reason, so I'm drafting Martinez as a running back. So what if he had fewer than 1,000 yards as a rusher last season? He's clearly masteredthe art of the halfback pass. 3,000 yards of total offense? Yes, please.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: BWAHAHAHA bet you didn't see that coming.
CURRENT O: James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Montee Ball (RB, UW)
CURRENT D: [Functional equivalent of 2009-10 GERG outfits]
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I planned on going defense with my second pick, but after Heiko's one-man run on quarterbacks I wasn't willing to risk getting stuck with, like, Caleb TerBush. So, the pick is Vandenberg, the B1G's winner by default in the "best pocket passer" category. Aside from Denard, Vandenberg is the conference's returning leader in total offense and passing efficiency, and he also takes care of the football, throwing just seven interceptions in 404 attempts last year. With Ball in the backfield to take care of all the running, that's all I need from a quarterback.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Heiko's next pick will be Matt McGloin, cornerback, Penn State.
Holy hell guys, way to leave me dudes I never planned on getting, thus forcing me to re-think my entire draft strategy for all of three minutes before doing what I meant to do anyway.
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M)
CURRENT D: Kawann Short (DT, PU), Johnathan Hankins (DT, OSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Running backs and running quarterbacks are flying off the board and I'm leaving the last Big Ten Heisman hopeful in order to make sure none of this so-called "rushing" goes down the middle of my defense. What I've won are the two most likely guys in the conference after John Simon to go in the NFL's first round to be my three-tech and nose tackle, respectively.
Kawaan Short is a Ndamukong Suh-like hell-raiser in the interior who sometimes lines up at end and is only limited by having to suck up doubles all the time. To that end I have given him Johnathan Hankins (damn Archie Collins to a special ring of hell), a true nose tackle who forced Ohio State's opponents to run outside all season. My defensive line is already up to 120 tackles, 27 TFLs, and 8.5 sacks (2011 stats), and I haven't even drafted the ends yet!!!
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Hey boss, I want you to know that I had nothing to do with this conspiracy to make you choose Nathan Scheelhaase as your 4th round pick (you made the rule!). Meanwhile Heiko has selected a QB controversy between two guys I wouldn't want, and Ace seems to be building something that has 4 tight ends.
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Well, I had planned on taking a defensive tackle here, but Seth appears determined to recreate Michigan's 2010 offense of Denard left, Denard right, Denard up the middle. Instead, I'll happily settle for Borland, who amassed 143 tackles—19 of them for a loss—from the middle linebacker position in 2011. If my team ends up being comprised mostly of Wisconsin players, I like my chances at winning this thing, if there is indeed any way of winning besides "draft Denard, win" (I'm guessing not).
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Seriously, Heiko, I hear Nathan Scheelhaase is a beast at defensive end.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QRB, UNL), Kyle Prater(WR, NU)
CURRENT D: yawn.
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'm at lab, so I don't have a whole lot of time to carefully mull over a decision, but I do know one thing: the B1G doesn't have receivers this season. While Prater is a completely unproven commodity, he is likely to immediately become the most dominant receiver in the conference. Given Northwestern's pass-happy spread (perhaps a little less pass-happy with the departure of Dan Persa), Prater's immediate debut at the No. 1 spot on the depth chart, and his 5-star ranking (which, according to the Mathlete, matters for receivers), what's not to like? Sometimes you have to invest in potential, and this penny stock is about to go Apple on all y'all.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: Wisconsin's run defense was crap last year. Also, more than half of Borland's 143 tackles were assisted. They call him a "throwback" because pudgy 5'11 linebackers were last effective circa the Reagan administration. But I hear he's a beast at fullback, which is what you drafted him to be, right?
CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, Ill), Taylor Lewan (LT, M)
CURRENT D: DE John Simon (DE, OSU), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: Ace, what is going on, man? You could have had your QB on the way back since I'm the only one without one and not forced me to take... ugh... Nathan Scheelhaase in round 4/5. We could have merrily played chicken for round after round. Anyway: I am not that broken up about taking Scheelhaase since he's got good legs and completed 62% of his passes last year and is a third-year starter and... aw, damn my rules DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL.
Obligatory QB out of the way, I'm taking the actual best pass rusher on Michigan State's defense, LB/missile Denicos Allen. Unlike Borland, my 5'11" LB is fast as hell and has the eyepopping stats to prove it: 11 sacks, 18.5 TFLs, multiple frustrating forays directly past the center of the Michigan offensive line. This guy is Larry Foote again, and he was just a sophomore last year.
OPTIONAL SNARK ABOUT PICKS MADE EARLIER: I have no snark because I'm shaking my ragefist at Heiko for taking Kyle Prater, who was going to be my secret weapon six rounds from now. And Ace, for forcing me to take Scheelhaase this early, and Seth for getting Denard. I am a defeated man. GAMES ARE WON IN THE TRENCHES AND AT WLB AAAAAAAAAH.
To be continued whenever Heiko figures out where he's going to put Rob Henry, Kain Colter, and Devin Gardner, Brian stops screaming "NO THROW IT FORWARD" at Scheelhaase, Ace gets the slightest grasp on game theory, and Seth decides his entire team will be fat guys from Ice Hockey.
[Ed-H: Bump. There, I did it. No more Urban Meyer.]
I got a little busy at work during the winter, and then recruiting magic was happening, and then I figured it was too late for this post. But finally I got a day off, and it's raining, and I've had these screencaps online for 6 months, and I've got literally nothing better to do for a few hours on this sunday. So here is the Nebraska game wrap (with pics!)
That was kind of unexpected. AND AWESOME! It was without a doubt our best game of the year. Heck it was our best game IN YEARS. It was maybe the best team performance since the 1997 PSU game, although I'm probably forgetting some good ones in between.
During the game, I remember thinking the score was pretty close and anything could happen until the turnovers made it a laugher. But after watching it a few times since then, we really did dominate in all phases of the game.
By the end of the 3rd, the stat sheet was pretty one-sided. They really only had 2 great plays all game. (Two plays that I highlighted in the preview post.... so maybe I'm not completely stupid. Still, I did rag on MSU's O-line which gelled pretty strongly by mid-season. ooops.)
Defending the option
Like most of the Michigan fan base, I have huge man crush on Mattison. The things he and his staff are doing, and the performances they're getting from our players are out of this world. I would love to just sit at his feet, follow him around, and absorb as much football knowledge as possible.
If you've accomplished as much as this man, people won't make a big deal out of you using your moobs to signal the playcall. (This GA knowns that peripheral vision is sometimes a weird thing.)
Defending the option is so simple, yet so hard. You need your players to know their assignments and play with decisiveness.Here is Jake Ryan demonstrating the textbook definition of "forcing the pitch".
Nebraska has this play blocked pretty much as you would draw it up. Ryan is the 'optioned' man who is unblocked. Martinez doesn't see the whole open up on the backside, but he's running to where the play is called. He's supposed to read Ryan and "make him wrong".
Jake's first step is lateral as if he's going to squeeze the zone on the slot receiver. But when he sees the option motion coming towards him, he cuts upfield with authority. Martinez reads him correctly, and it looks like this should be a decent gain for the Huskers.
Meanwhile, Mike Martin has beaten his block and is pursuing to stop cutbacks, and the secondary is coming up in run support.
Ryan's change of direction is so fast that Martinez can't get a good pitch off with his left hand. Burkhead managed to fall on the loose ball, but if he hadn't we had two guys coming up quickly and there would have been no way for Martinez to get it with his face planted in the ground. The moral of the story is that one way to defend the option is to make those options keep the ball and get killed, or pitch the ball and get killed.
Another way to stop the option is to get an unexpected defender free. Nebraska comes out in a 4-wide set to try to get a good personnel matchup. But we just stay in our base 4-3 so it doesn't matter when the TE comes down to the line of scrimmage.
Mike Martin explodes through the line and forces the pitch FROM THE BACK SIDE. That's impressive.
Meanwhile, Kovacs is up in run support and all over his assignment as you would expect from a player of his intelligence. He reacts so quickly that the blocker whiffs on him. And the pursuit isn't giving Burkhead anywhere to go.
Getting a 5 yard TFL on first down against your opponent's bread and butter play ... that's a good a thing.
Getting off blocks
One of the stark differences between last year's defense and .... uh ... others... was how well they were getting off blocks and getting to the ball. I don't want to disparage former defensive coaches...BUT the improvement was remarkable.
We're in our zone blitz package with Martin dropping and Demens rushing. Demens gets doubled. That's a pretty big weight disadvantage for him.
So he squares up and gets some arm's length separation from the defenders, one of whom starts looking for someone else to block.
Martinez decides the coverage is too good and thinks he can squirt through that passing lane. But both Demens and Ryan see it, react to it, and clamp down on that hole.
Ryan slaps the ball out. Check out how far away from the ball Van Bergen is. But he's got his head up, he's disengaged from his blocker, and he's pursuing the ball.
One funny bounce later and it's in RVB's hands. Brian keeps saying that fumble recoveries are just luck and 50-50 propositions. I would disagree and say the fumble recovery percentage is more of a function of the number of each team's players near the ball when the fumble happens. In this case, we were a little lucky because Nebraska had more guys near the ball. But if RVB isn't hustling and getting off his blocker, our chances of getting that ball go from slim to none. So yes, luck plays a part, but I don't believe it's JUST luck or that it will always regress to the mean..
And lets not forget the good hustle and technique which caused the fumble in the first place. Strip that ball!
(The other 85% after the jump)
News note: Late last night 11Warriors posted a tweet claiming two sources and 99.7% certainty of Urban to OSU. If it happens it happens.
Hey look, it's MGoBlog's gift-giving grinch, Gohblue. I do this thing every year where we go to a homeless shelter and throw the kids there a Christmas Party, complete with Santa and gifts, and the past few years MGoBlog has been the difference between two sizes too small and playing Michigan defense. If you can't volunteer, you can still buy something for the kids on Amazon. The date this year is Dec. 3 so if you can contribute now's the time. I still need a photographer. The diary explains in further detail.
And while you're in a holiday donation mood you know what else we need? Your blood, for the annual Michigan-Ohio State blood drive. M-Wolv sent in the details, which you can find here.
THE SLINGER, THE CUTTER, AND THE SHOE
One throws like a girl, one says "WHAAAT?" like a girl, and one's a little bitch. BlueSeoul breaks down some other comparisons between our QB and two very different dual-threats remaining on our schedule, by running style, favorite move, most dangerous running play, weakness, passing style, most dangerous passing play, and how to defend.
You saw the post-Illini weekly 'With Pics' article on the front page. But did you know you can also read his scouting report on Nebraska and Ohio State from when they played each other (or is one of them Wisconsin—damn these exactly alike uniforms).
I know, right -- THREE diaries in one week from BS? We are not worthy! BS is supposed to be out of the running for Diarist of the Week, and there is another good candidate, but three of the best four diaries in a 7-day period means he can share with the other guy.
That other guy was also front-paged. It is Space Coyote, who explains the Drag-Follow play (video) in the latest session of his Football Fundamentals series (link to article). Want to be a Diarist of the Week too? Become a football coach, watch tons of video of Michigan and their opponents, then spend hours putting together an article that can make important trends comprehensible to the masses. Easy. Michael Scarn also has a Nebraska preview from his visit to "Happy" Valley* that gave us the tag "Taylor Martinez Seizure Throwing Motion."
MATTISON PLUS ALL THE POINTS
You can also just get good at maths. We got two diaries this week from dnak438, the second (better) an update of the first, tracking M's defensive performance since the year I was a freshman, and Donovan McNabb was running all over us, and everything bad in the world became the fault of James Whitley. For example you see how that red line is higher in 2000 than any year but last? Whitley. See the big blue dip in '06? That's how good Michigan was against Illinois. Mattison plus all the points!
Recruitniks we got two for ya: Ace (the good one) received two very detailed, very glowing reports from Hardware_Sushi and Justin on M targets Stefon Diggs, Wes Brown, Ryan Watson and Kendall Fuller (the last two are juniors) from Blake Countess's alma mater in MD. MGoGarbs and joeyb saw Catholic Central take on Pioneer and came back with scouting reports for Godin and The Drake.
* We joke, we're all kidders around here. Can I give you my headshot?
BRIAN ASKS AND YE SHALL RECEIVE:
After the jump, the boards and the weeklies