national champs baby
Mailbag: Snap Jumping Again, Clock Management Win, Jake Ryan Of Christmas Past, Legends Logistics
Past Jake Ryan, hopefully not future MSU
Snap jumping. Not again?
Please address Sparty jumping the snap. What can be done to prevent it or even use it to the Wolverines' advantage?
Please, please, please use all your influence to prevent Sparty snap jumping from successfully occurring this Saturday. This is an important key to Michigan's offensive success.
I AM USING ALL MY INFLUENCE MAN YOU JUST DON'T KNOW. Unfortunately, that influence consists of squinting really hard and making "wahwahwahwah" noises to project psychic sound waves about me. I have no influence.
I do think that we will see that snap jumping significantly reduced in frequency, possibly almost eliminated. One of the hidden transition costs last year was a coaching staff that had not endured Jerel Worthy's sometimes-offside-but-usually-just-eating-your-heart dance party and did not spend big chunks off the offseason fuming about it and scheming themselves a plan to defeat it. This year everyone is well aware that snap timing blew up the Michigan offense in all different ways and that changes must be made. We have seen Michigan vary their snap counts—they did it last week—and with a home game Michigan should be able to use audible signals if they want. Meanwhile, Worthy is gone and I haven't seen the Spartan replacements be able to replicate that maddening skill of his.
Unfortunately, this prediction about the snap jumping has reached the status of turnovers under Rich Rodriguez: logic says it can't happen again, and then it happens again. At this point I'll have to see a Michigan coaching staff enter a Michigan State game as prepared to play as the Spartans are before I believe it.
If not this year, though, when? Michigan State's coming off three straight nail-biters that required them to dump everything they had on the field in an effort to win the game. Michigan's coming off a bye and two laughers. MSU is shuffling guys on their OL, has benched a senior captain LB, and is trying to find two tight ends to rub together.
They don't have the depth to do much other than what they've done already. They don't have a changeup like Baker they can go to; they don't have the tight end depth that threw Michigan off; they are trying to find anyone who can catch a ball. Please, Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God, yea the most powerful of all fictional supernatural football deities, hear our plea.
Bellomy on the goal line.
I am a little confused by the play calling after Denard went out with his "boo-boo".
1) Why is Toussaint in the "jumbo" (unsure if package name is correct)? Rawls just seems to have the short yardage figured out a little bit better i.e. size and running style: see 6:35 Q2. (I know my example comes after and did not have 6/7 on the line and all 11 within 5 of the LOS and inside the tackles but still). Was Rawls insertion later a sign that he may now have the short yardage job?
You've got me on this one. I have two theories, neither of which seems that convincing.
Theory one: Fitz is in a funk and rusty and getting flack from people and some cheap touchdowns will help his morale, maybe get him driving harder at the goal line.
Theory two: Rawls is fumbling a lot in practice or going BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE.
Pick one or make one up yourself; I think either explanation is going to quickly fall by the wayside as Rawls becomes a preferred option inside the five. He probably would have scored on one of the two attempts. I do think the BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE theory has some credibility behind it since I just watched Rawls look at this…
…and decide to bounce that outside the TE instead of slam it up at the gaping cutback lane like he was born to do. Amazingly, the guy seems to have some Michael Shaw to him. Go north-south, young moose.
2) Why the vanilla play calls? It was clear later that they trust Bellomy with some measure of the offense that is clearly larger than watching the RB run into some ineffective down-blocks. With the alignment of weak-side DE, LB, and FS, why not run a PA boot with the TE rubbing off and going all Funchey in the back of the end zone? Is this just a manball fundamental that we must live with this year while the donkey punchers are being groomed?
There's a big difference between trusting Bellomy to run around and fling stuff once you're up a billion points and having him take his first meaningful snaps in a rainstorm in a game that could still go either way.
Personally, I wanted him to hand off come hell or high water—when you're the silverback you want to lower variance, and having Bellomy think about all the stuff he's going to do after the snap could lead to bad news. Bellomy fumbled a snap later, after all, and Michigan doesn't want to open the door for anything cheap for the Illini because that's the only way they lose.
In general I don't think there's much to criticize either way about goal line playcalling. The defense is selling out one way, you pick one or the other and succeed or don't.
[After THE JUMP: clock management, Afghanistan face-off, Legends logistics, Jake Ryan of the past.]
Late-half clock management.
This wouldn't be the MGoBlog inbox without a dissection of the one game-theory minutiae you didn't mention in the column. While I'm with you on begrudgingly accepting the 18-yard FG for all the reasons mentioned and TOTALLY with you on applauding the playing of actual football in the final two minutes of the first half, I am baffled by the clock management during that possession.
Michigan completes a nine-yard pass (to Dileo, I think) and correctly calls one of its three timeouts with 40-some second left. So the second-and-1 play is the fumbled snap, which makes it third-and-7ish with the clock running. Rather than call another timeout, Michigan scrambles to get everyone in place as time continues to tick down and then throws a hasty incompletion before punting.
I guess if they had only one timeout left, I understand thinking you need to save it to get the field-goal unit on eventually; but that wasn't the case. I guess I could understand saying, "It's sloppy out there; we're up 17; let it go;" but you've already committed to trying to attack -- and even if the fumbled snap gave you misgivings, then take a knee on third down. But a hurry-up pass on third-and-7 in the rain seems to have the greatest downside of all the strategies available.
Anyway, may all our problems be so great. I only mention it at all because clock management seems to be the one bronze sculpture in Hoke's huge pile of gold. (And thanks for perpetuating THAT image.)
That didn't bother me, because at that point you're balanced on a knife edge between taking that possession for yourself and giving the other team an opportunity to use one. The right move is to let the clock bleed a bit so that
- if you get a first down you can still use the remaining 30 seconds or so to score
- if you don't, the opponent is going to look at under a minute left from their ten and kneel
You'll often see the equation swing wildly from one play to another. A recent famous example came in last year's first MSU-Wisconsin game, when Brett Bielema took timeouts on two consecutive late MSU plays:
Michigan State then survived a harrowing moment when Cousins fumbled deep in Spartan territory. Offensive lineman Dan France fell on the ball with 42 seconds left.
At that point, Wisconsin was eager to use timeouts, trying to get the ball back, but on second-and-20 from his own 24, Cousins found Cunningham for a 12-yard gain. The Spartans then picked up a first down on an 11-yard shovel pass to Keshawn Martin.
"If we get the ball back with less than 30 seconds we were going to go for a block," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "We were going for the win."
On second and 20 the timeout is obvious. Once MSU executes and gets themselves into a situation where they can potentially turn their hole into a late winning drive, the second timeout is a much closer call. At that point MSU is probably willing to let the game go to overtime, so it's up to Wisconsin to decide if they're going to play chicken. I thought Bielema screwed up—the chances of MSU converting a third and eight and getting something out of that drive seem better than your chances of doing anything after a punt with that little time on the clock.
On second and one, the field is slanted heavily the offense's way and they should regard that time as theirs, precious. On third and seven that time could be anyone's. Down 17-0, you need points, risk be damned; up 17-0, playing it cool is right. Michigan struck a balance between foolhardy and milquetoasty there that I thought was perfect.
Half of these people are going to be unhappy in a few days.
Attached is a picture our unit took today... there are more U of M fans! Anyway, thought you may like to see it. We are based out of Jackson (1461st Trans Company), but we obviously hail from all over the state. We will be watching the game and trying to act like we are home.... kickoff is at 1230am here,
Hopefully no humvees get painted "STAEE" anytime soon.
Jake Ryan comparable?
I was in Indianapolis this weekend getting after it pretty hard with some Purdue buddies. I was watching the game intently, but everyone else fresh off the Wisconsin shellacking had a passive interest at best.
After yet another Jake Ryan TFL, my friend who had his back turned to the TV all day said, “Boy, every time I look up that number 47 is making a big play… what year is he?!” I only bother telling you this because 1. I am crazy excited to see what he posts in the UFR this week and 2. How exciting is it that he is only a Sophomore?! From a career arc perspective, what is even our closest comparison point?
There's actually a really close comparison point, but unfortunately it's not at all useful for projecting what Ryan might do over the next couple years: Pierre Woods. Woods came to Michigan out of Glenville, redshirted, had an okay freshman year as a backup, and then blew up as a sophomore SLB: 68 tackles, 13 TFLs, seven sacks, second-team All Big Ten.
Woods then got in trouble. It was bad enough that he barely held on to his spot on the team and didn't even reclaim his position as a starter even during the 2005 season, when putting him on the field and sliding some other guys around to mitigate problems at DT was clearly a very good idea. Michigan refused to put him on the field until a slew of injuries forced them to in the 2005 Iowa game; Woods proceeded to bail Michigan's ass out against Drew Tate and have a five-year NFL career despite being buried on the bench. As a senior he had 24 tackles… and 11 TFLs… in five starts. The mind boggles. Pierre Woods's career is amongst the most inexplicable in the last 20 years.
Who knows what Woods could have ended up being without the career detour? We may find out.
Brian - How does this "Michigan Football Legend Number" thing really work?
What I don't get is, does every really good young player now have to switch numbers when the coaches hand him a Legend jersey? How will new legends ever come to be?
Jake Ryan is an example - just say he was to turn into a 3x All American and Butkis award winner, but he was 'given' #47 as Soph....can he become a "Legend" too? Is the #47 locker done in multi-toned mahogany wood joinery?
Would Charles Woodson have stayed #2 for his Heisman season, or would the coaches have bestowed the Wistert's #11 on him after his Freshman year.
I liked the idea at first, but now it's not making sense to me. I think it's cool to remember all the great players and their numbers over the years...but 15 years from now will we have a list of the best defensive players all having been #47 for their last 2-3 years? A player's number is his identity...making a kid change doesn't seem right.
And the patches? Seems like a reach. Maybe this is all a jersey selling conspiracy of some sort by DB.
I am with you on the identity thing. This has been my thing with the ongoing desperate pleas to not change Jordan Kovacs away from 32. The Legends numbers are a cool idea, but do we want 2015 Denard to wear 11? Don't we want him to wear 16, except not actually 16? Don't we want 32 to mean something to a safety or walk-on?
But I don't think Michigan has committed themselves to only giving them to great players or switching them around yearly. Brandon Moore has 87, and while Desmond Morgan's on track to being a four year starter I would be surprised if he was an All-American at any point. Michigan's introducing them by changing numbers—in the future I'd bet they're just issued to freshmen.
There's a balance to strike here between that's my number and that's the number. Michigan's #1 was hewing that line nicely before the Braylon scholarship effectively took it out of circulation. What would a #1 legends jersey look like anyway? You can't put Carter without Braylon, can't put Braylon without Carter. So… what can you do?
I don't know. I do think the bar is high enough that it would take a lot of doing for any current player to acquire legend status. Guys who do not have a legends jersey who are locks:
- Charles Woodson
- Dennis Norfleet
End of list. We might see #77 (Long) or #65 (McKenzie) or #72 (Dierdorf) get the treatment, but that's uncertain. Bob Chappuis's #49 and Jim Mandich's #88 should also be on the "probably" list. That's it.
It's not a ton of guys. There should be room for joint honorees—the patch can always read "X/Y." I'd actually like to see them introduce a joint #1 Carter/Edwards legends jersey just to establish that you can get your name next to Gerald Ford if you're a multi-year All American sort.