Can a conservative gameplan designed to protect Gardner's health still utilize Gardner's running ability as a threat to influence defenses?
This question came up, most recently, in today's Hokepoints thread. MCalibur argued for a much more intense use of Gardner as a runner, and was universally shot down by people like me who believe that a significant Gardner injury basically ends Michigan's season.
But can he force teams to account for him in the running game anyway?
Grantland has an interesting piece from Chris Brown of Smart Football that seeks to discern what kind of offense Chip Kelly will run in Philadelphia this year. One of the interesting revelations is that Chip can run his basic scheme with or without a running quarterback without changing its basic tenets. And, further, that Chip strongly preferred that his QBs in Oregon hand off, regardless of the actions of the unblocked defender.
And the statistics bear this out. Oregon's two most successful years occurred under the guidance of perhaps the least impressive, and certainly the slowest, quarterback of the Chip Kelly era: Darron Thomas. Thomas wasn't exactly Tom Brady in the pocket, but he wasn't a gamebreaker either, and those of us who watched Oregon in those years remember how infrequently he made plays with his feet.
Oregon won the Rose Bowl at the conclusion of its 2011 season; I don't think any of us would be disappointed with that kind of result this year. Darron Thomas that year? 56 carries, 206 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Yet Oregon was not lining up in the I-formation. They were running their diet of inside and outside zone reads, inside zone gives, and occasional reverses. Thomas wasn't a huge threat, but his presence required the coverage, or at least hesitation, of the unblocked defender; the result was space for LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner to run through.
Michigan does not run the spread concept anymore, and we do not have LaMichael James in our backfield, but the principle is the same. If the rumors of a pistol look are true, I would be unsurprised (but overjoyed) to see Michigan running pistol read-option looks to its tailbacks where Gardner almost always gives. This uses Gardner's speed as a threat while still keeping his running totals low. Frankly, as Kelly does, the only time Gardner would ever pull would be when the defense completely ignores him--and then he has the space to make them pay, and to protect himself. Two or three of those carries a game and the concept has done its job.
Combine those carries with perhaps one or two designed draws and Gardner's propensity for scrambling and you have 8-10 low-risk carries per game but also a fully realized threat that the defense must account for on every play.
There is a great article from The Atlantic about NCAA players who get abandoned to fend for themselves after they are injured. It is a pretty damning portrayals on how universities take advantage of naive kids and families. I don't understand why NCAA cannot provide 5 year free insurance coverage for athletes after they graduate if they are injured during their athletic career.
To relate this back to us, if Michigan does things the right way (but I do not have any real evidence that we do - just hope that we do things the right way and how we have handled Austin Hatch so far makes me believe that we do), shouldn't this be a real emphasis during recruiting?
Additionally, shouldn't sites like Mgoblog keep track of stories like this so that recruits can make informed decisions when it comes to which schools keep promises and which schools don't? I would hope doing would help Michigan be even more attractive to kids.
The Washington Post has a long piece about how injuries in the NFL may not be treated the same way as they would outside of football. The injury to RGIII in the Skins' playoff game has been the subject of much debate.
There is medicine, and then there is NFL medicine, and the practice of the two isn’t always the same — a conflict that was never more apparent than during a January playoff game.
Below is a link to a graphic in the article showing injuries by year, by position and by average weeks a player is on an NFL injury report.
So, this story just came up today and I thought I'd get MGoBlog's opinion on it.
Ole Miss Head Coach Hugh Freeze has pulled a scholarship offer to a 2013 LB from Georgia due to an ACL tear. Big deal, right? Happens all the time. A coach can't be signing injured players.
Here's the thing. Freeze and his staff were completely aware of the ACL tear at the time that the offer was made, and they never indicated that the offer was condidtional on the knee healing in a certain time or way. Furthermore, team doctors indicated that it was healing properly and on schedule, and were not concerned. It's not like it appeared to be going bad. The kid played last season on it because he was mistakenly told it was just a sprain, and he was able to show enough to earn an offer even with the tear. Now Freeze is getting cold feet.
What's your feeling on this? I don't have a problem with a coach pulling an offer if a kid gets hurt, but making the offer when you know he's hurt and then pulling it later when you suddenly get cold feet puts me off.
According to the official Michigan Football Twitter account:
I’m not too worried, mostly due to Countess’ play, but this is something to keep an eye on.
Now that we have our matchup set for this weekend, the interesting question comes... who replaces Caparusso on the top line with Hagelin? I'm thinking it's probably slide Rust up to center Hagelin and Brown, but anyone else think an alternate would be to have Scooter slide up to LW and have Hagelin play Centre? Lines would like this:
Sitting Forwards: Caparusso (inj)
Thoughts? Is there another defenseman that could move up and play a 4th line position so Deblois sits again?