Brian, Do you think Jake Ryan has a chance to play WLB now that Kellen is off the team? The coaches seem to love what he brings so why stick him behind Cam Gordon when you can get him on the field? Thanks
I think that's unlikely. For one, in today's Countdown to Kickoff Brandon Herron announces he's moved to WLB now. When spring started he was at SLB. By the time it ended he was at MLB. Now he's at WLB. The coaches appear to like what they've got at the other two spots enough to roll with Gordon/Ryan and Evans/Demens.
For two, the Great Oft-Repeated Hybrid 4-3 Theory states that Michigan's 4-3 under is about halfway between a traditional 4-3 and a 3-4 and that the SLB actually has about as much in common with the WDE as the WLB. Very hypothetically certain SLBs could also play one of those other spots but they would have to be very versatile and very experienced, which Jake Ryan isn't really.
Ryan's strength appears to be hearing the lamentation of the women after he pillages the offensive backfield. In the 4-3 under the linebacker best suited to get upfield quickly is the SLB. His weakness is probably executing deep zone drops a la Mouton last year; at SLB his coverage responsibilities are usually "chuck this tight end and head out into the flat."
In this defense he's SLB all the way, as it plays into his vertical attacking style. If you were really going to move one of the SLB strivers Cam Gordon is probably the guy. People at least thought he could play safety. They were insane people, sure. Good point.
If you're looking for a backup option at WLB I think Thomas Gordon is your man. He's small and is specifically slotted into a nickelback role but if Jones falters he's got some of that experience stuff; I thought he played pretty well last year. He will be a fixture against spread teams and see quite a bit of time in other games.
I'm curious to get your take on how you think the running game is going to work out this year now that the weights of the OL have come out. As you briefly mentioned in the roster overanalysis, these guys are hardly designed for the power game. A cursory glance at Wisconsin's roster reveals that anyone even close to competing for a starting position is 315-330 and our linemen top out at 302. That's not exactly tiny, but clearly reflects the zone blocking system they were crafted in.
Everyone out there seems to regard the offensive line as a strength because they're experienced, but how skeptical are you that the line won't have it's troubles in running situations? And is there any sort of precedent out there for this o-line transition from the spread to more pro-style/west coast style offense?
Man, I don't know. Michigan ran some power stuff last year with decent success but that was as a changeup, not the bread and butter. As the bread and butter it's tough to see them battering opponents. If they really want to run I-form power all the time next year, YPC averages will drop to Carr-era levels (4 YPC) instead of the schwingy bits of last year (almost 6!).
How much of that schwing is the offensive line and how much is the vast superiority of Denard Robinson to the rest of the mediocre running back corps? Counter rhetorical question: how much can Michigan take advantage of that superiority without Rodriguez's constant subtle adjustments?
Aw, hell, those aren't rhetorical:
Large chunks of it were just Denard being ridiculous. Run power with Denard from the gun and life will be okay.
Quite a bit. A lot of the stuff Michigan ran last year was simple. They largely abandoned the zone read and the blocking flexibility I was so excited about is a trademark of Borges's most recent offense. I may have been overreacting to Rodriguez's genius-type-substance after the Debord years when literally everything was a goddamn stretch. Maybe I'd never analyzed an offense other than "you know what's coming, try to stop it, oops you did let's punt."
Michigan's not going to be able to run power 20 times a game and get by on sheer brawn. I don't think they'll try, though. Hoke talks about power but when the rubber hits the road Borges seems to play to his players' strengths. If they operate out of the shotgun and run Denard 10-15 times a game they'll still be decent. They can even run power from it if they want:
That's not the A gap, but let's work our way up to that. Part of effectively running power is getting to the place you're supposed to be. With this line getting that guard outside the tackle is going to be easier than obliterating the NT.
It will probably never happen, but what do you think about this proposal to address the lack of big time opponents in the non-conference:
Teams are allowed to schedule a 13th game as a "pre-season game" against a FCS school before the season starts. The schools could get a little more practice and charge half price for the game. You'd still get all of the parking and concessions money. By having that "half price" game then you offset the down side of playing a big away game. Then instead of making one of these cup-cake games count toward your overall record and take up a valuable spot on your schedule you can make it pre-season and then schedule a real opponent.
That's actually an idea Rodriguez promoted from time to time, and it's a good one. Institutionalizing the FCS game as an exhibition turns it from a waste of everyone's time to a mildly diverting opportunity for extra football without too much extra brain damage. You're kidding yourself if you think anyone will charge half price, but if I could get a guarantee that the extra game every year would be against a reasonable BCS opponent I'd happily shell out the extra whatever dollars.
But as you say, will never happen.
Are there any players on this team right now that you consider "sure-things" for their production? I would have said there are only two - Martin and Hagerup. Now one of those has been suspended. I think the OL should be good but is learning a new scheme. I like the thought of Demens and Woolfolk for a full season, but do we really know what to expect from them and this new defense?
Production is maybe not the right thing to be sure about. How can you be sure about any of that when schemes are changing?
I do think I have a handle on certain players. They might not perform as expected because they're being asked to do certain things they haven't done in the past, but Molk, Roundtree, Hemingway, Van Bergen, and Kovacs are pretty well established in my mind at this point. That's not very many, and I guess that's your point.
I get the feeling that Mattison and Hoke will find a way to get the best players on the field. I would rather not see a repeat of previous years' constant position changing though. Let a kid learn a position and keep him there.
I hope to be like dang for large sections of the season.
The main problem with the "exhibition game" idea is that when the national championship is determined by an opinion poll, every game is an exhibition.
Pollsters will move teams up and down based on their exhibition game results, and teams will be obligated to treat the game as seriously as they treat any other game, making the "exhibition" label meaningless. Also, I would think that teams would still schedule FCS opponents during the regular season, and will just add a second FCS team as their exhibition game. Adding an exhibition hasn't made basketball non-conference schedules any more impressive, and I wouldn't think it would work here, either.
I also think that if they do add FCS teams, you won't see schools loke for the App St.'s and UMass's of the world, but instead the dregs of FCS. So that just means those schools can get even more killed, and scheduling them will be tough. Nobody wants to play a legit opponent in the "exhibition" game, but at some point some big name team (like UM in 2007) is going to line up against an FCS team, lose in the exhibition, and be punished for it. At that point, you'll see the exhibition game dropped except if you can assure yourself of a bodybag game.
You really think so? Why wouldn't the NCAA take the NFL model and play your starters for a quarter to a half and play backups-walk ons, etc. for the remainder of the game? Could also make it so that it doesn't count against red shirts, so all your freshmen could get into a game. If that happens, it seems unlikely that even a loss is considered by the end of the season.
There's roughly the same number of FCS teams as FBS teams, so I don't see the bidding war really taking place, and if any big school couldn't find a match-up, there's probably a MAC/WAC/Sun Belt school in the same situation.
Coaches would not want to risk injury for most of their top players, so you would see mostly backups, underclassman, etc. Not counting the game against the redshirt is a great idea to get young kids some experience.
Also, if teams wanted an actual warm-up game to get their team ready, they would try to schedule a decent FCS team. Of course procedures would have to be in place to prevent pollsters from counting the game in the polls. Maybe they could have the preseason poll come out before the exhibition game and then not have another voting in the poll until week 5 or something? By then the exhibition game result would be an afterthought. I mean who caresif you lost to an FCS with your backups if you are 5-0?
Also, you would just have to make a rule that no other FCS games could be scheduled during the regular season.
Sure there are tons of details to be worked out, but it all seems logical to me. Which is why it will never happen of course.
The easiest ways to prevent them from figuring into polls would be to either 1. Have them behind closed doors like the joint practices that some NFL teams do (which defeats the revenue goals) or 2. Structure them like spring games, create a set of game-type scenarios (two minute drill, special teams, etc) but sever them from actual game flow. The latter would make them confusing enough to observers that they likely wouldn't be taken too seriously by media types while still allowing evaluation for coaches and game-like experience for players.
No problem getting the computers to ignore the exhibition game, but the human voters are another story. You can't mandate how voters make subjective decisions. Coaches aren't going to want to take any chances. Who wants to test the idea that losing an exhibition game won't hurt them?
One workable solution is going to be less appealing for fans. Let teams play a preseason scrimmage vs an FCS opponent. No scorekeeping, practice two-minute drills, etc. It won't bring in a lot of money, but I bet the coaches would like it.
I never thought I would say this, but I am very excited to for a somewhat predictable offense so that when the coaches decide to call a play we've never seen, we can all get giddy (even if they just hand it off to the fullback instead of the tailback or pull the double pass back to the QB) I am also excited to NOT get excited when the defense gets a 3 and out because hopefully that will be a common occurence. I just remember getting a 3 and out against Indiana last year and going insane....never again.
in the passing game, but I think RR actually did a pretty good job keeping the running game "fresh." I remember being surprised at how little read-option Denard ran last year (thought for sure it would happen so often my eyes would bleed).
I would add Denard to the list of "known commodities" this year. I don't expect last year's overall performance, but he is a decent passer with great wheels - we have an idea what type of production that should equate to (around 3,000-3,500 total yards, 30 combined TDs, etc.).
Michigan doesn't have Wisconsin size along the OL, but almost nobody does. Look at MSU's OL. They have a power run game, and their OL is no bigger than ours. Even OSU's OL which is highly regarded isn't much bigger that ours. Both of our tackles are over 300, one of our guards is about 300 on the nose, and Barnum and Molk aren't exactly small. I don't see this as a reason we can't have a strong power run game.
EDIT/ADDITION: Although our OL guys aren't breaking the scales at the top end, they're all pretty lean for the weights. Look at Omameh in the CTK video - he's 299 and looks like he's 270, the dude is cut. Same thing with Lewan, he's lean. Would 15-20lbs of flab make those guys better offensive linemen? If they were underweight and flabby, I'd be concerned, but those guys have about as much bulk as most OL groups.
and made the same point in a previous post. Wisconsin is one of the biggest lines in the country, so why keep compainrg to them? Look at what he average line size is and make comparisons there. We aren't that small on the Oline and I think we will be fine in that area.
Did anyone else click through to Jake Ryan's recruiting profile and laugh when Brian listed "having Greg Robinson as a position coach" as an asset of Ryan's that Obi Ezeh didn't have? My, how times change.
I found it odd that Cam Gordon moved from FS to SLB. WLB would seem to be a better place for his size, so he would not have to shed blockers at the point of attack. With our hauls at linebacker in the recruiting class, hopefully, players will be placed in positions that most fit their physical and playing attributes.
Actually, a lot of people here and elsewhere feel that SAM is the best spot for Cam Gordon's skillset. Sure, he's a little smaller weight-wise than an ideal SAM but the rest of his skillset suits the position well, and in another year with 15 extra pounds, he'll be a great SAM.
It's not like we have too many 6'3" 245lb speedsters on the roster to take his place, and I don't know if Hoke and Mattison wanted to move Cam to WILL just so a guy who has never sniffed a college field could start at SAM.