At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
The coping mechanisms kicked in about Tuesday, and the diaries flowed. The best, I thought, was by Ron Utah, who took this base alignment
…from the UFR and pointed out why it's hard to attack this in myriad ways because MSU's defense is good. That is true, but it doesn't invalidate the primary complaints: it isn't cohesive. Indiana faced the same defense and their OL isn't all that great, but they have committed themselves to running option routes and tempo, and it works because it puts the offense mostly on the shoulders of three really good receivers to execute. A short list of some of the hands Michigan gambled on:
Toussaint's pass blocking vs. Denicos Allen blitz
Funchess's threat as an inline blocker vs. MSU having watched Funchess this season at all
Half-hearted play-action on 2nd and 15 when Michigan hasn't shown a run out of that formation in ever vs. MSU safeties' ability to read play-action.
State's defense is great, and that gives teams limited options for beating them. But the offensive coaching was awful independent of that, on the game level more so on a macro level: They haven't been able to figure out from week to week what the hell kind of offense they are, let alone who's going to be playing it. Eventually they want to be a TE-mismatch outfit but right now there isn't a single TE or RB on the roster who can block. I get it, but it's not getting better because in three years nobody on that staff has been able to answer "what are we going to do about it?"
The OL can't block either. Well the freshmen can't and hey, they're freshmen. But since OL coaches are particularly difficult to judge (especially when their oldest recruits are all redshirt freshmen this year) Erik_in_Dayton went over all of Funk's previous OL charges going back to Ball State. No conclusions—almost everybody was a 2-star recruit—but interesting read.
Meanwhile Gameboy has been trying all sorts of ways of assessing Michigan's O-line experience versus that of other teams. Inthreeattempts he's got a bunch of data and no sense to make of it still because Michigan has two extremes and the coaches don't do things to cover up for their weak points. The chart at right shows O-line starts and game experience. His big mistake I think is averaging: Team One has a tackle with thirty starts and a left guard with none; Team Two has a tackle and guard who've started next to each other for fifteen games. Both average fifteen starts, but Team Two has a big advantage that is hidden by your method.
Chunkumsput up a survey to ask if you want to fire which coaches, but your feelings are irrelevant since this staff won't be budged unless there's wholesale failure the rest of the year and Dave Brandon's pimp hand has to step in. Even then, what are the chances Michigan grabs the soon-to-be-unemployed Nebraska OC we're pining over? What's that guy going to do with Morris and Speight? It's clear now that Borges should never have been brought here in the first place, but then a world where Michigan hung on to Calvin Magee for a few years (as OSU did with Fickell) comes with its own negatives. Either way the future is what matters now; if we're going to advocate anything maybe it's a consultant who can teach Borges constraint theory.
While you're assessing, here's a handy chart of Michigan's games under Hoke by dnak438, with the betting lines included. I think jamiemac once told me that Michigan's final lines, like ND's and other power programs, are worse predictors because they're responsive to the huge number of people who bet knowing nothing more than that Michigan is traditionally pretty good. Early lines are more accurate. By the way dnak took my suggestion of rotating the chart 45 degrees. This week I'm suggesting overlaying last week's to see progression:
[Jump to find out how Brian got banned, and you can too!]
Tea Leaves Reassessed. If possible seasons were Game of Thrones novels we're down to hoping the sick author of this book at least has some good guys winning at the end, though at this point 800 pages of snuff that doesn't advance the plot is a stronger comparison.
Weeklies: all death. Boxscore was death. Corsi Charts: basically they will die the second they let up the gas, though there's only been like two periods all year like that so far. Stat charts say Michigan is mediocre, Purdue is death. Turnover Analysis: not death?
[EDIT: Revamped because I was unnecessarily/unintentionally being a dick]: I wanted another panel in the Blockhams strip after the dad gives this sanctimonious speech about pride in your M hat after losing to MSU, where the kid just pretends to eat it up because he's got to deal with the reality of the green-clad bully kid. I found this one schmaltzy, even if the sentiment it expresses rings true, and should have left it at that. But then I'm a dour fountain of negativity who wants everything infused with metaphor and irony. It won't ever be as popular as Blockhams, but anyone wanna make a strip with me like that?
You are reading MGoBoard. Suddenly somebody posts a link, and Brian's avatar is changed to Jerel Worthy's tattoo, and nothing makes sense anymore.
As with all things that are awful, it began because Ace Williams's weekly fabrication this week was to report some guy on RCMB's wet dream* as reality. Because most humans are not aware of Ace Williams or that somebody with a website and everything could be that much of a horse's ass, people who come across such links put them on the MGoBoard and all hell breaks loose.
What have we learned? That somewhere out there is an alien species that is assessing whether they ought to assimilate Earthlings into their intergalactic culture, or if it's better to wipe us out and farm our planet, and the existence of Ace Williams is one of those things that could tip that against us. Agreed?
* Not the one about Michigan State blowing out Michigan while Taylor Lewan makes every M fan a hypocrite by pulling some of the same crap Gholston did.
THE TALE OF JON RUNYAN
Oh yeah, let's have politics too. Thread exploding in three…two…waitaminute it's not exploding. Rather they're writing a story:
[Interior: Congressional office]
[Congressman Runyan picks up morning paper. Reads box score from UM-MSU game.]
[Camera zooms in on "-48"]
[Close-up: Runyan's eyes widen.]
Runyan: "Draft a press release..."
[Smash-cut: Runyan steps off greyhoud with duffle bag tossed over shoulder; walks to door of Schembechler Hall.]
…the story goes on. Whatever happened to you, MGoBoard, your sudden behavior is chilling.
SO…YOU WROTE A POEM ABOUT JABRILL PEPPERS HAVING CALF SPASMS?
It's not my favorite playcall in the world, but this makes 3/3 of Ace, Brian and Seth criticizing the PA playcalls for reasons that aren't necessarily related to why those calls are made in the first place. The way it's been talked about on the front page and on the board makes me think that everyone here expects PA in real life to work like it does in a game of Madden, where the entire defense runs balls-out toward the line of scrimmage and then you can loft an easy TD to an outside receiver.
While this would certainly be a nice result, it's not really what PA is designed to do. Especially in a game like this past one, PA is used to slow down the pass rush from the D-line by making them more conscious of staying in their running lanes. It is also expected to alter the path of blitzing linebackers to bring them closer to the RB, thereby giving the RB a better shot at blocking them.
Now, whether or not PA actually succeeded in doing any of this against MSU is certainly up for debate (it's also usually supposed to have an impact on LBs dropping into coverage, but that very clearly did not happen), and the negative of turning DG's back to the line is a real argument against it. But with all the pretty advanced football knowledge we usually get out of the three gentlemen mentioned above, I kind of expected more relevant criticisms of the PA calls as opposed to the "Nobody was fooled! Safeties didn't bite!" stuff.
"But there are reasons beyond freezing LBs and DBs with play action.
Other reasons it's done include
To slow down the DL. This is because they still need to play gap sound football, and instead of focusing on simply beating the guy in front of him, they need to control the OL in front of them. So basically, it allows the OL the ability to get in position and maintain their blocks at the point of attack
Along with this, it makes it so the OL doesn't have to drop straight back and transition from a drop back to standing up at the point of attack. This is more of a point within the previous one, but the idea is that it lets them be a bit more aggressive and more naturally gain leverage.
Theoretically, obviously, it also changes the target for the blitzing players. It should at least temporarily alter the the blitzers path or slow him down enough to help the RB pick him up before he can get so deep in the backfield (again, this is in theory). It also allows more realistically for the RB to simply redirect the blitzer rather than having to stand him up completely, again, this is dependant on the other team respecting it though.
It also has to do with timing of the play. The route designs and length may be designed with PA in mind. Rather than having DG stand as a stationary target for a longer period of time, this is a way to keep DG in a flow or rhymth with his footwork, reads, and progressions.
To a degree, it also helps set up the run (as discussed in Ron Utah's new diary).
I think to a degree it did points 1, 2, and 4, and was kind of neither here no there with the last point. The problem is, it failed so terribly at point 3 that it turned into a downside by not allowing DG to see the blitz coming and essentially correct Fitz. I didn't particularly like the PA on later downs and longer distances (still had no problem on first down, because it did effect the defense at that point in the secondary and a pick up leads to a huge play), but I also don't know what else is in the playbook and all that type of stuff. I just know that it isn't always necessarily to directly threaten the defense with the run."
The thing that I think is incorrect about the outcry for it is, yeah, I wasn't a huge fan of it either. But in my opinion it's not worthy of all the attention it's getting. It's more, well, I didn't really like that but it's not a huge deal in the scheme of the we-have-no-interior-OL types of deals.
Yes, Funchess lined up at TE usually means pass. But it doesn't always. So it tips the "pop pass" constraint play to a degree.
But, QB counter is a constraint for Inverted Veer which is only tipped by the fact that Michigan is pulling a different player.
Play action is semi-tipped by not pulling players, but that's only a marginal argument because the intent isn't always a hard sell, the run action in the backfield is enough to freeze players (not suck them up like crazy). Also, not pulling helps younger players in their pass protection.
I discussed that the throwback screen isn't tipped in the UFR.
When Michigan did run a constraint play for Y-stick, it wasn't tipped.
Michigan draw action from shotgun wasn't tipped when they ran the draw as their constraint.
We've seen wheel routes off of the inside man running a bench route type plays that aren't tipped.
So I think it's being very overstated (as I also think the jumbled pieces being thrown together is being over stated). For the most part, it's a lot of different looks and all that stuff (window dressing) but the same things with similar constraints.
I think a lot of teams "tip" things because there are formations and personnel that are better at certain things than others. That's especially true when you're most diverse position is TE and your TEs aren't very diverse because they're young. And it doesn't help when your best receiving TE is also your 2nd best WR and your other slot guy is hurt. But tipped plays are only tipped in as much that you think it may be that call. But if you're selling out on that and guess wrong (which is like a 75% chance you're wrong) then you're done. So teams may be looking for some of these things, that's called scouting, all teams do it. But they aren't selling out on them. For the most part, what's happening, is that Michigan is getting out executed for a variety of reasons.
Now, I'm sure people will probably complain about not having constraints for constraints (the pop pass off the bubble screen), but we don't run our constraints enough to warrent that (the reason that pop pass exists is because the bubble screen is no longer a constraint in those offenses, it's a run play in those offenses, so they need a play action off of it).
Colts would pull a guard on PA. This action really messed with the LBs and Safeties. Michigan can't really do that yet because they're starting a true freshman and a RS freshman at the guard spots. Pulling a guard on a pass play changes the pass blocking protection for the puller, making it more complicated/difficult. This isn't going to happen with 18 and 19 year old guards.
There's a lot of reasons behind it. If DBs and LBs "bite" on a run fake it might help receivers get open. Also if they get so used to run fakes, then might react more slowly the next time you actually run the football. Also, all the stuff Space Coyote (who is way more knowledgeable than me about this kind of thing) said, and some of the things I listed above. That's a whole lot of potential reasons to run play action, and if it succeeds in accomplishing any of those objectives it might be considered a wise move.
The reason I brought this up though was not discuss the merits of PA, how effectively Michigan runs it, or whether they should stop doing it. I just noticed that a lot of people here including, somewhat surprisingly, the actual employed writers for this site have been totally condemning PA calls simply because they didn't accomplish one of the many many thing a PA call can accomplish.
We all agree, no one was "fooled," safties didn't take the "bait," and whatever other phrases have been tossed around about how PA was unhelpful. I'm just surprised that very few of the very knowledgeable people around this blog have even acknowledged that PA can have a purpose other than helping receivers get open.
PA is great. But it's about fooling the defense and if they're not in a position to be fooled you're just fooling yourself, and also accepting all of the negative aspects of PA without getting the benefits.
It's like if you try to fake like you're going to throw the ball to your dog, but you've never thrown the ball to your dog. He will just sit there and wag his tail at you, and maybe put his forepaws on your knee; anyway you're not going to get him to chase the shadow ball and give you space to operate, and you'll end up with more slobber on you than had you just tried to hold him away from you and not screwed around with the ball.
Assoc. Editor & Business Manager, MGOBLOG email me for advertising | Alias: @Misopogon
...but in our case, sometimes play action was only b/c that was the play that had the routes or the blocking schemes the coach wanted that play. That is, the plays in the book & as practiced with some certain route or other desired aspect had PA in them too. So you do the PA -- otherwise you have to try to run the play differently than you've studied & practiced it.
"...Michigan's final lines, like ND's and other power programs, are worse predictors because they're responsive to the huge number of people who bet knowing nothing more than that Michigan is traditionally pretty good."
I came off as more of a dick than I meant to, and would like to apologize to Six Zero for that. I kinda felt the need to explain why I don't always include Blockhams with the other diaries, and let it get away from me. I drink weird tea, is the problem, and I imagine there's others out there who like weird tea too.
Aren't the coaches oldest oline recruits juniors? I understand the freshman can't block, but neither can the sophomores and juniors. Guys who they've coached for 2-3 years were passed over by a pair of walk ons.
They have two third-year OLs (both redshirt sophs)
Bryant, Miller, and Tony Posada were in the 2011 class. Posada never played for Michigan, and he's out of football (I believe). Bryant has been consistenly hurt. Miller committed to RR and would likely be better suited in RR's schemes. Bryant and Miller are also only two guys, so I think it's hard to say whether they've been well coached. Maybe they aren't very good.
None of this is to say that I'd don't have concerns about the offensive staff. I just don't think you can tell much from the '11 class.
"All of the doughnuts have names that sound like prostitutes."