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This could just as easily have been titled “Way Too Early Arkansas Preview Part 2” history buffs can wax nostalgic with part 1 here…http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/way-too-early-arkansas-preview
Here it is 2012 and America’s premiere basketball conference
has an opportunity to flex its muscles against the lowly scum-sucking SEC.
Yes, I am aware that Michigan lost last year in Fayetteville. Yes, I am aware that Ace called it “the most painful possible basketball game to watch” http://mgoblog.com/category/tags/2012-arkansas-hoops
as Arkansas hit their first 11 shots, Michigan turned the ball over repeatedly, and Arkansas shot out to a 20 point lead. Michigan would crawl back, and Trey Burke missed the 3 pointer that would have won the game.
That’s not going to happen this year.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s talk Arkansas. Mike Anderson is starting his second year at the helm for the Razorbacks after finishing 18-14, 6-10 in the SEC. At 4-3, Arkansas has lost to Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Arizona State, and beaten Oklahoma. They do exactly one thing well. Anderson’s teams feed on chaos. They force you to turn over the ball. They press with reckless abandon. They run the court as if there were an 8 second shot clock. They call it 40 Minutes of Hell.
Against good teams, they tend to get out-rebounded by 5 or 6, but they force 4 or 5 more turnovers than they commit. That was enough to beat Oklahoma. Syracuse pulled out the win by shooting 10% better. Wisconsin won their game from the charity stripe. I expect that Michigan will take care of the ball a bit better, and failing all else shoot their way out like Syracuse.
Somehow between turnovers their regular rotation individually manages to shoot around 45% from the field(the exception being Rashad Madden, who shoots 68% but leads the team in turnovers). Their leading scorer 6-3 sophomre guard B.J. Young has no conscience whatsoever.
The guy is shooting 16% from downtown, but he still leads his team in attempts at 4/g. The guy runs and chucks like no player you have ever seen, to the tune of 20pts/game.
Last year 6-2 junior guard Madracus Wade averaged 48% from downtown, averaging 5 attempts/game. He was a game changer.
This year he is averaging two attempts and shooting 29% from downtown averaging 7pts/game. Go figure. Versatile 6-5 sophomore guard Rashad Madden and dangerous charge-prone 6-3 slashing junior wing Ricky Scott are picking up the slack, averaging 12 points and 4 assists between them.
Last year Arkansas lost promising 6-7 junior forward Marshawn Powell to a knee injury.
This year he is healthy and effective, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds for the razorbacks. He is joined in the frontcourt by newcomer 6-7 junior combo forward juco transfer Coty Clarke, who boasts 8 points and 7 boards/game himself. 6-10 sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson and 6-8 freshman forward Jacorey Williams pitch in as well, combining for 11 points and 6 rebounds per game.
So why am I so convinced that Michigan will pull this one out? In a game as crazy as basketball, shouldn’t we favor the team that favors chaos? Didn’t a wise man once say…“The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.”? Well, time is also marked by transfers and graduation. Specifically, the graduation of guard Julysses Nobles, and the loss of his passing(3 assists), defense(2 steals) and scoring(9 points). They also lost versatile PF Marvell Waithe and Michael Sanchez’s big body to graduation. Then big man Devonta Abron took his 20 minutes of post depth to TCU.
Mostly though, I am comforted that Trey Burke has already done his time in hell, and emerged all the stronger. He’s had 18 assists and no turnovers in his last two home games. And this year, he has help.
My son’s middle(and nickname) may have been inspired by Stu Douglass, but if all else fails against the press I’d rather have Spike helping to get the ball up the court. Players like Hardaway and Stauskas have dealt with a pesky steal-crazy defense down in Peoria, and taken the lessons as they’ve come. This is as complete a team as I have seen adorning the maize and blue.
WMU’s coach summed it up the best. Michigan will win this Saturday because, "They just have better players. They’re a better basketball team – it’s as simple as that.”
69-54 Michigan wins.
Bad real estate deals the cause:
Long, who is continuing to research potential candidates for a long-term solution as head coach - including Smith - said he doesn't believe Smith's personal financial problems will influence his ability to coach.
''I think the people that want to make more out of it than there is here will do that, regardless,'' Long said. ''But I think those will be the minority. This is clearly to me a man who has made a poor financial choice, and I think if we look across our society today, especially in these times, we will see many very good people leading their organizations who have made some poor financial decisions. That's the way I see it.''
Well, Saturday at 2 Michigan takes on the Arkansas Razorbacks in the great land of Clinton(Bill that is).
Big Nasty's team comes fresh off their road blowout loss to KY http://www.kentucky.com/2012/01/17/2032252/kentucky-vs-arkansas-9-pm-espn.html
a team with considerably more NBA talent than your Detroit Pistons.
Beilein may continue with the "3 players back" philosophy that yielded multiple rebounds to MSU, as Arkansas makes a living by pushing the ball up and down the court, trapping, and running motion. They call it "40 Minutes of Hell" harkening back to the '94 glory days http://bloghawgs.com/2012/01/09/remembering-hawg-ball-sec-storied-40-minutes-of-hell-edition/ First year coach Mike Anderson was the apple that fell directly beneath the Nolan Richardson tree. They're going to press. A lot.
6'3" Freshman SG BJ Young is your major scoring option out of the backcourt at 15pts/g. He is shooting .418 from downtown. He also excells at attacking the basket. Think Trey Burke only taller with more recruiting hype and considerably less heart. This is likely Stu's assignment.
6'1" Junior PG Julysses Nobles leads the Razorbacks in minutes played, assists, and consecutive consonants in his first name. Most of his scoring comes from outside. This is Trey's assignment.
Cautionary tale about checking your sources: Marshawn Powell is indeed out for the season. Thank you to those of you who knew this and did not point out that I ate a lot of paint chips as a kid. That is more than I deserve.
This actually leaves Jordan Morgan at a considerable advantage in the post. They've got a 6'8" freshman named Devonta Abron and a 6'8" senior named Michael Sanchez. Niether one has much of an offensive game. Abron is a pretty good rebounder.
6'2" Mardracus Ware wins the "Oh Lord please dont leave him open from downtown" award. He is shooting something like 51% for 3.
Regardless of outcome, this is going to be a great opportunity to learn to win on the road. With limited information, I'm going to compare Arkansas to the Clemson team Michigan beat in the tournament a few years ago. If Trey gets in foul trouble we're cooked.
I'm sure you're all as excited as I am about the Sugar Bowl. But I'm sure you've all been pestered by friend/family/co-workers about how M is only there because it's all about the money. Or they have various other gripes. I've decided to classify these gripes, and share my unsolicited opinion with you on the internet. I'll approach this as a conversation with each of the various butthurt partisans.
(Since we are the lowest ranked BCS team in, I'll compare everyone's resume to ours)
QUIT YOUR WHINING
Sparty - I'd almost feel bad for you if you were passed over for a BCS game by us. But you weren't - you were outside of the top 14 and therefore ineligible. Why were you outside the top 14, when we both had the same number of losses and you won the head-to-head? And won the division over us? No, not the polls - we were ranked within a spot of each other in all of them. It was the computers. Why? You see, while you beat us by 14, you lost to Nebraska by 21, who lost to us by 28. Triangle of doom. Shall we look at the other loss? Ours was an ugly one in the division to Iowa - by 8 points. Which gave you the edge in the B1G West. Yours was an even uglier thumping at the hands of Notre Dame. Yes, yes, you beat Wiscy on a Hail Mary at home. And then lost to them by 3 at a neutral site. Want to count it as a tie against a top ten team? Doesn't change the fact that If you had shown up at all in that ND game, you may have had a legitimate gripe. You didn't, so you don't. Enjoy Florida. I hear it's nice this time of year.
Oklahoma - Yes, your TT loss doesn't look that much worse than our Iowa loss. And your Baylor loss looks better than our Sparty loss. But the way you got absolutely stomped in the biggest game of your season is way uglier than anything that happened to us. Also, you're 9-3 after that one. You don't deserve anything more than the Copper Bowl.
South Carolina and Arkansas - Nobody wants to hear it. No, the limit on only two teams from a conference isn't holding you back - it keeps you from playing each other. Look, even in your good years nobody wants to see two teams from the same conference play in a bowl game against each other. And the SEC didn't have a good year - Arkansas, your best win is against the Cocks, and your escape against A&M is not as pretty as our escape against Notre Dame. And you got throttled in your two losses - you got beat worse by Bama than Penn State did. Gamecocks, your best win was against Clemson - and your losses against Arkansas and Auburn are comparable to our losses against Sparty and Iowa. But we pretty much thumped everyone else on our schedule except our rivals. Your wins were...uninspiring. The system isn't holding you back at all - your own failures on the field are keeping you out of the party. And no SEC partisans are ever allowed to complain about the BCS again, unless it's talking about how biased pollsters are towards their own.
Boise State - I usually defend you guys, but I'm not going to this time. Yes, you've got only 1 loss, and it was a close one to TCU - better looking than either of our losses alone, and certainly prettier than both put together. And your win over Georgia is comparable to our win over Nebraska. But here's the thing - your next best win was either Tulsa, Wyoming, or SDSU. SDSU was at the bottom of our resume for wins. In fact, it's so far down there we don't even think about where it is. Your second best win is our 7th or 8th best? I've got to go with our resume on this, even with the uglier losses.
Southern Miss - When both of your losses are to teams without winning records, then you have not proven you belong in the BCS. That interview gave me a good laugh though.
YOU MAYBE HAVE A POINT
TCU - I love how you guys do what you do, and you had an amazing season. Beating Boise on the blue turf and winning the Mountain West is nothing to smirk at. And while your win @Boise may be better than ours against Nebraska, and your losses are comparable to ours, I've got to go with the same argument I had against Boise - the meat of your schedule is the dregs of ours. What's that you say? Why is West Virginia ahead of you? That's a good point, but you guys know how it is in the Mountain West. That's why you're leaving next year. Good luck in the B12.
Baylor - I've had a lot of fun watching you guys, and I'm rooting for RG3 for the Heisman. And your resume isn't bad - beating three ranked teams is far better than us, and getting blown out by OK St is not so bad. Losing to K St by one isn't bad at all either. Getting blown out by A&M is way worse than anything that happened to us though. So yea, your resume is close to ours. But there's a couple of other guys in your conference who belong more, so I don't feel so bad that we're in over you.
I FEEL FOR YOU GUYS BUT YOUR CONSOLATION ISN'T SO BAD
Kansas State - You guys should be in a BCS game. Yes, your blowout at home by OU is bad, but your second loss was by seven @the #2 team in the country. You totally have an argument that "it's all about the money." But hey now, don't look at US like that - we weren't the last ones in. That would be the Hokies you have beef with - and truth be told, I think you'd probably travel to NOLA better than them anyway.
But really, getting a chance to play an overrated #6 SEC team in the Cotton Bowl - a game that was "major" back in the Bowl Coalition days - that's a major opportunity for respect, and pretty much a BCS game anyway. I mean, without the massive payout. But that would've gone to Texas as blood money anyway, right?
DEATH TO THE BCS
Oklahoma State - What can anybody say, guys. You got hosed by Alabama. They have two wins over the top 25, you have four. They lost to the #1 team at home, and you lost to an unranked team on the road - your loss is a little worse, your wins are better. No, just cause they blew out a weak schedule doesn't mean anything - you should have gotten the nod from resume alone.
What makes it ridiculous and insufferable is the obvious - this is a rematch, they didn't win their division, they're playing a team from their conference. I know you've been over it a hundred times over in your own heads. I hope you guys beat Stanford and win the Grantland Rice and the Macarthur trophies. I hope Alabama gets crushed.
But really, your gripe is way more legitimate than K-State's. It's probably the most legitimate gripe I've ever heard with regards to the BCS - yes, more legit than Oregon, Auburn, and USC have had in the past. While I've never loved the BCS, I never thought it was so broken as to screw you over for a less deserving team because they came in second in a conference that was good the last couple of years. The system is broken and you've been royally screwed by it, and will watch them play a regional scrimmage.
I'm way more excited for your matchup against Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl than I am for the event that precedes LSU's deserved coronation. Good luck, and prove to the nation that you deserve a shot.
Game 9 (no torrent, but Brian looked at their offense)
Game 6 (couldn't find a torrent)
This game is probably the most representative of what we'll be seeing. Arkansas is about on par with us in terms of talent, but they run a passing spread instead of a running spread. This is also MSU's most recent game against real competition since their final game was against ole miss. Onto the bullets:
- Nothing against emotional tributes but what does it say if you go into the game with signs that read "win it for ***" and you end up losing?
- #7 gets the start over #5 at FS
- They're nominally listed as a 4-3, but you only see that on short yardage, most of the game is 4-2-5 or 3-3-5.
- Ballard has a pretty good burst accelerating through the hole, but he's not real comfortable keeping a good pitch relationship on the option play, Relf had to eat one because he was too close to pitch it.
- Relf is just deadly on that "inverted" option QB choice play. (below)
- Ark. #7 takes it to the house on a 60+ yarder on a student body left type play. Again, these DB's will give up big plays against real speed. Thankfully we've got a lot of that at WR. (not so much at RB, this would be a great team for Carlos Brown to play against). MSU's #7 let himself get blocked on the play when he didn't need to and could've saved the TD (14 yards downfield, but that's still better than a TD)
- When Ballard runs off-tackle he has a hesitation cut that will usually go back inside or upfield instead of outside.
- Relf is about 50-50 on those deep out passes, but that's an improvement from earlier in the year. His WR and TE are fairly tall, giving him nice targets to aim for. Still throws that intermediate slant pretty well.
- Ark #7 looks like a big guy, easily shedding the tackle attempt from #13
- I'm a fan of the stickers on the helmets. It's college, gold stars for everyone. I do think that the ones we used to have were a bit big and distracting, but that can be fixed by using smaller ones or ones that have more blue and less maize.
- Ark gets their 2nd TD on a really well executed delayed screen. MSU is in pretty good position but Ark gets some great blocks and some pretty nifty running, going all the way across the field. #50 got shaken up, looks okay.
- #2 with a pretty weak fumble on a flare pass.
- But MSU gets it back on a nice strip from #34 on the very next play.
- on 4th and 2, MSU tries a fake punt, nothing special, just a straight run left by the punter. MSU motioned two guys to the far right giving an unbalanced look (ball was on left hash) but had the three up men close to the punter with two on the left side.
- Relf isn't the fasted guy (he's not vince young) but he's got really good vision for picking out the holes even if it isn't where the play was designed to go. Plus, his O-line is getting good movement on ark's front 7. Makes him dangerous on QB draws and scrambles up the middle. We're gonna need a big game from our DT's to not get moved out of the middle.
- nice diving catch by #8 on a ball that should've been batted down.
- Solid hit by #25 on Kickoff coverage, but he didn't wrap up.
- #10 not seeing much PT this week. He's nominally a backup but maybe he's dinged up.
- #90 got a good sack playing from a 2 point stance. Great speed for a guy his size, hadn't gotten many sacks this year, but a lot of pressure. This was a bit of a twist having him line up in a MLB position
- Ark is having their DE's pushing upfield, blew up one of those jet sweep plays.
- MSU's O-line looks much better. #70 is at center instead of #55 who shifted over. #61 is not in the game, and #62 is over at right tackle where he's not as much of a liability. My suspicion is that there's a sizeable dropoff once subs have to come in. #62 and #61 seem fine in run blocking, but not as good in pass blocking.
- Seems like #8 will be the primary receiver with Bumbphis out for the bowl, Relf hasn't been looking at #19 much even though he's in the game a lot.
- Relf nearly scored again on that inverted option. Different lead blocker this time.
- Ballard takes it to the pylon for a short TD, fumbled snap might have allowed him to get outside on the pitch.
- Late hit by #5
- Jebus, enough talk about cam newton. Yes, auburn probably paid his dad. When a paper trail is discovered years down the line, maybe we'll get a reggie bush type rebuke of them then, but not until there's proof.
- Pretty entertaining game MSU 21-17 at the half.
- Ark's DB's are playing inside leverage. Makes sense against relf.
- When Relf is pressured he usually misses high.
- #5 gets an INT on the sideline up. Misread by Mallet, the safety was playing pretty far over. I doubt we'll see much of #7
- FB in the flat again. Only his 3rd catch of the year, converting 4th and 3.
- Relf fumbled. He wasn't careless on this one, just a really good hit by the defender putting his helmet on the ball.
- #5 beaten for an 88 yard passing TD on playaction. Too aggressive on that play. Amazing to see #50 being the guy who never gives up on the play again. He's been impressive from game 1. He's got a great motor.
- #62 gave up a sack, blocked the wrong guy, maybe he thought the back was supposed to pick up the DE. No, that's just a mistake by him.
- Missed tackle by #25. looks like he slipped on the turf.
- Nice hit by #34. He hasn't been lining up at DE as much lately. He's more like a Fritz middle backer, even though he's listed at OLB.
- Ark #3 shows some speed on the bubble screen getting about 20 yards
- Haven't seen much of Perkins this week. Heavy doses of Ballard and Relf up the middle.
- Exciting finish, MSU recovers a fumble with Ark trying to run out the clock with a 3 point lead.
- #19 gets a big catch.
- Ballard chewing up yards on the counter run
- 31-31 going to OT
- Ballard fumbles, Ark misses a FG.
- 2nd OT MSU doesn't cover the back out of the backfield for an easy TD.
- And #62 gives up a sack on 4th down to end the game. Actually it was the speed rush against the left tackle, but they both got there pretty quick.
The dreaded "inverted option":
We'll be seeing a lot of this play or some variation of it. Although this one isn't really part of their option series, it is third play of their sweep series. (The first 2 being the sweep and the counter sweep.) You can tell that this play is a designed QB keeper by the blocking assignments. It doesn't matter what you call it, Relf will have the ball, and he will be running between the tackles with 1, 2, or even 3 lead blockers.
MSU is in a split back slot right. Ark responds with a 4-3 and a late shift into an outside blitz. The safety moves up into man coverage and the MLB fakes a blitz.
The MLB has responsibility for a pretty big bubble in the d-line. MSU takes advantage of that by pulling the right tackle all the way into the 5 hole. Arkansas's blitzer is going way upfield to cut off any bubble screen, flare pass, or sweep. (This was the LSU blue-print).
The running backs show sweep motion to the right and both the playside guard and tackle have gotten great leverage on their men, so there's a pretty big hole for the pulling tackle to lead through.
The MSU linebacker goes for the fake, Relf keeps the ball and sees what is now a huge hole in front of him.
Looking at it from behind we can see how Arkansas should have defended it. The RT takes a pull step right at the snap. But the DE doesn't even notice it. With the blitzer to his side going upfield, he doesn't have contain responsibility and his path should be directly towards the QB/RB mesh point. If you follow a pulling linemen, you'll almost always be taken right to the play.
One of the MLB goes with the fake and the DE is in no man's land about to tackle a guy who doesn't have the ball. The MSU O-line is getting great movement on their guys.
Relf actually makes the wrong cut here, the outside corner is in man and should be blocked. But because he's a big guy, going north and south is never a bad choice for Relf. The FS is in good position to make a tackle, but he gets juked out of his shorts and then Relf is too strong to get taken down by the guys in pursuit. He bounces around into the endzone getting about 10 yards of YAC.
Like most college football teams, Arkansas has decided to enter the fray of schools that just can't seem to resist screwing with a good thing. Their new Razorback uniforms for 2010 as modeled by quarterback Ryan Mallett. Arkansas' standard school colors are supposed to be cardinal and white. But it's 2010 and fashion suicide wouldn't be complete without introducing something, anything, that is black. How about facemasks? Yeah, that'll do nicely.