As I sit here watching Missouri and Auburn roll up and down the field, with the only defense being turnovers, I'm wondering what can be done to curtail the wave of offense in football so that defenses have a chance again. Maybe people are fine with all of the offense, but it seems like it is so tough to play defense (get held on nearly every play, called one in 30 times) that I would love to see something to help even things up without drastically changing the game (such as 3 downs instead of 4 or having to go 15 yards for a first down instead of 10, etc.). I think I figured out a simple change that may help: with offenses spread out to make one on one match-ups all over the place, what if there is a rule that all of the offensive players have to line up between the numbers? This wouldn't be such a drastic change and it would allow defenses to be a little less spread out at the snap.
What do you think?
A loyal reader,
Despite the attempt to not seem drastic, that seems kind of drastic. That would affect a lot of teams from spread to, uh, concentrate. And I'm not even sure what the impact would be. If teams just stack two guys up at the numbers is that better or worse? It doesn't seem to have a huge impact. Apologies, but thumbs down.
If we're going to change football to slow down the offenses, my suggestion is to simplify and liberalize pass interference by making it a (nearly) arms-only offense. I can't stand it when a defender gets nailed for the WR trying to run through him; some of these back shoulder things are basically prayer ducks relying on the fact that the DB isn't looking and hoping he'll run over the DB. In the hypothetical world where I am king, whiskey is free and pass interference is a thing that can only happen when a defensive back uses his arms in an unfair fashion or blows a guy up early. No more of this stuff where the DB is running in a direction and the WR changes his path such that the DB is now impeding the WR. You have a right to your momentum. In exchange, offenses can have full NFL penalties for flagrant you-tackled-that-guy offenses.
Not that any of this will do much to slow down Auburn, which just runs and runs and runs and runs. They beat Alabama and their QB threw for 97 yards. They got outgained by 100 yards, but they also ran for 5.7 yards a carry against Alabama. It boggles the mind.
Moving Willie Henry?
OK, there are many candidates to play the DT next year, but few candidates to play NT if Pipkins doesn't come back strong after injury. You and others are very high on Henry at DT, but I haven't seen him mentioned at a possible NT. His weight and height look fine, but is there something about his build that makes him not well suited to play the nose?
Henry is a very plausible NT with his size and strength. Michigan lists him at 6'2", 306, which is about ideal NT size, and we've seen him throw away more than one OL this year. In an ideal world, Pipkins is full-go by late spring and playing well in fall camp, allowing Henry to continue doing his thing at three-tech.
But if that's not happening I bet we do see Henry slide over to the nose. Michigan's other options there are Richard Ash and redshirt freshman Maurice Hurst Jr, which doesn't sound too appealing. At three tech, Strobel, Poggi, and Glasgow are returning and Michigan has the option of bumping either Godin or Wormley down from SDE with Beyer the projected starter there.
A Henry move is 50/50 right now.
[After the JUMP: Smith vs Green, annual #1 jersey speculation, and evaluating a potential onside kick in The Game.]
Green was getting more PT for a reason. Was that recruiting hype? [Fuller]
Green or Smith?
Am I the only one who saw De'Veon Smith as clearly better than Derrick Green? Smith ran harder, broke more tackles, and was more decisive than Green. Green was billed as a power back, but rarely did we see that power. Green had far more opportunities than Smith and never got going. There are several examples, but his goal line carry against Ohio State was especially soft.
When these two came out, Green was the higher rated player but that seemed to be more based on his size and speed combination than his film. Smith played in Ohio, a higher level of competition than Virginia, and was more productive. Remember Kevin Grady a few years ago, 5 star recruit, lots of hype. Remember who played over him all those years? Mike Hart, 3 star recruit. I think we have a similar situation on our hands, where the lower rated guy is actually the better player.
Jon from Cincinnati
It's hard to tell based on just a handful of carries for each that didn't get snowed under at the snap because of OL/blitz issues. We're basing this on not much more than De'Veon Smith running through a couple of bad tackle attempts from Ohio State and Green not doing so. The jury is still out on both.
That said, I tend to agree. Smith has a Hart-like leg drive that will serve him well in the YAC department and Green does seem to go down on first contact almost all the time. Smith's run through more tackles in fewer opportunities, and if you'll remember that was his calling card as a high schooler. At this point I prefer Smith.
That doesn't mean Kevin Grady should be invoked here, though. Green's already shown better vision and quicker feet than Grady ever did. Green's been able to find backside creases and get to them; Grady just blasted forward every time he got the ball no matter what was in store for him. He's shown some promise and if he can enter fall camp at the same weight he played as a high school senior, good things could be in the offing there. This kind of offensive line is the worst situation for power backs to be in.
We'll get a more definitive resolution next year when the two figure to platoon for about 90% of Michigan's tailback carries.
Always enjoy reading your game theory bits, but I was wondering about something my friends and I discussed in the stands. Do you think Michigan should have gone for a surprise onside kick after they tied it at 35 with 5 minutes left? I guess it's possible that OSU was expecting it. But the success rate on those tends to be high, we couldn't stop them, and even failure gives you the ball back down 7 with 4 minutes left instead of 2 (plus the same red zone defense opportunities you'd have in either situation).
Or would failure have led to leaving the OSU offense too much time after Michigan potentially tied the game again at 42? I was just curious what you thought since you're always on top of the math on these decisions. Keep up the good work, Go Blue.
This did not occur to me at the time but does seem like a pretty good idea. We saw MSU attempt an onside kick in the Big Ten championship game, one of those sideline popups. MSU almost certainly should have recovered it but balls bounce funny and the thing managed to get out of bounds at the OSU 41. In exchange for at least a 50% shot at a bonus possession, MSU gave up 16 yards of field position. That is a quality gamble.
If Michigan had something like that in their back pocket, and chances are they do, that would have been an excellent spot to pull it out. You seize the initiative late on success; on failure you haven't given up much and actually increase your chances of getting the ball back for a final possession. Maybe you give yourself time to try to force a field goal once OSU gets in a goal-to-go situation.
You decrease your chance of holding OSU scoreless, yes, but what were those chances? With both offenses moving up and down the field—especially given OSU's ability to hand it to Hyde for 7 yards whenever they wanted—field position becomes much less important than who's got the ball. I say put on the eyepatch and board that kick return team. Hyyarrr!
Do you think there's any chance Funchess wears #1 next year? I'm not sure if this has been covered elsewhere. I'd say it's time to bring the jersey out of retirement--and I think Braylon Edwards might agree.
It would be tough to change Funchess's number two straight years after he's become a prominent member, especially since he's got a legends jersey. Or at least you'd think so. I thought it would be tough to change Jeremy Gallon's number from 10, or Jordan Kovacs's number from 32. I was incorrect about both of those.
Even if they decide to stop Funchess number rotation they should just hand the damn #1 out now, though. Give it to someone, and stop with the semi-retirement of the thing. Darboh or Chesson or…
…yeah. For real. I may have an irrational attachment to short guys.