I think having your best LB in the middle where he can get to more plays is not necessarily a bad thing.
The Recent Football Moves Make Me Nervous
I mentioned this on the podcast, but here's a text version: the recent shuffling in the football program does not fill me with a feeing of warmth. Three things that have happened that make me frown about where we are right now:
Moving Jake Ryan to MLB. The linebackers were slightly disappointing last year but mostly because they ended up playing behind guys like Nose Tackle Jibreel Black and Richard Ash. They weren't kept clean, ate a lot of instant-release blocks, and tried to cope.
Desmond Morgan is a quality player and James Ross will be once someone blocks a dude in front of him; Michigan also returns both of their backups. There is zero reason to move Ryan to the interior.
Meanwhile, SAM is much closer to the WDE spot than either interior one. Michigan will flip its line on up to 40% of their snaps, whereupon Ryan essentially is the WDE. He has never had to read run/pass from behind a defensive line. He's is prone to breakdowns he can get away with on the edge, given his athleticism and time. He has a spot as a WDE in nickel packages that gets him rushing the passer, which he's really good at. He's not used to the zone drops he needs to take from the interior. His best asset—rushing upfield—is going to happen on way fewer snaps.
That move is flat-out nonsense. Who plays SAM now? Are they moving Ross there? Playing Gant? McCray? Any knowledge we don't have about why they're making this move is bad knowledge to have about the future: it basically means that the current returning starters on the interior can't play, unless you want to be a Mike McCray booster.
Reshuffling every defensive assistant. Cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, who has never played or coached cornerbacks, sounds… not good. I'm willing to throw anyone who can recruit at a RB or WR position, but corner seems like a thing that you should either have done yourself or have a heap of previous experience doing.
Other guys do have some experience with the roles they step into, but shuffling these guys around is redolent of panic and seems unlikely to do much of anything to help. They had something very good going with their DL development, something that personnel issues may have obscured last year.
And the defense was basically fine last year until the last two games, when they got ground down by the best rushing offense in the country and blasted off the field by Tyler Lockett. Neither was entirely surprising. Meanwhile, the offensive staff is sacrosanct save the coordinator.
Chris Bryant's departure. Not that I had much hope that Bryant was going to contribute once we'd heard about yet another surgery for the poor kid.
The issue here is that the exit, which Michigan certainly knew about or could predict before signing day, makes the whole no-commits-since August thing look even worse. It reinforces the toxicity that descended on the program midseason. It's one thing to lose the two DL you have on the hook because you can't run for yard one; it's an additional thing to replace them with air.
Depending on the status of a couple of special teams players, Michigan is one or two scholarships short and if inclined could have given a firm handshake to a couple of graduated fifth year guys. It's one thing to have a 16-man class when you've really only got 16 spots; it's another to leave three or four potential slots open, especially when you're the opposite of careful with redshirts.
That's why this class isn't quite what the star average makes it out to be, and why the recruiting tailspin hurts more than just on the defensive line.
These are the reasons I'm feeling nervous. But hey I was just feeling super optimistic in August so I'm probably totally wrong about this! That's the ticket!
Especially with how embarrassingly easy it was for Hyde to run right up the middle last year.
I like the move, as now we'll have effective inside blitzes... and vs the spread teams, Ryan will be more in the play. I thought Morgan, though a good player, is too small to play MLB.
Those are the two reasons. The blitzing capability is a big one. It is basically a waste of time to send Bolden or Morgan on a blitz. GMatt needs decent blitzing ILB's to give his zone-blitz scheme teeth.
Agreed. I think you let the DTs eat blocks and let Ryan make plays in the middle, a la Bullough and Teo the last few years.
I like the move if Ross is able to play the SAM and Morgan plays the other ILB spot with Bolden being the backup at both.
I think the coaches deserve the benefit of the doubt in this situation.
part of the problem, which Brian mentions, is that UM didn't have in 2013 and might not have in 2014, the interior dlineman needed to eat the blocks and get the LB's clean.
True. I think the move adds more size inside as well, if Morgan moves to the other ILB spot, to help with this.
Gee, I suppose that if Hoke and Mattison decide based on their decades of coaching defenses at all levels that this makes sense based on what they saw last year and what they have to work with then, yeah, I'll take their opinion over what the unwashed masses (i.e., we) think of the move. And if it doesn't pan out, I'll expect they will revert to the old arrangement or try something different.
Hence why I said they deserve the benefit of the doubt...
Basically trading Ross for Ryan....Ryan is bigger and Ross is faster....A bigger guy is the middle is good, a faster guy on the corner is good....Perfect trade!
There are plenty of people who have lots of coaching experience and are still not very good at running a college football program.
Like that decision to keep Borges until the very last second after telling everyone they were keeping him despite the complete ineptitude on offense. That decision and others shows that this coaching staff doesn't desrve a blank check or even the benefit of the doubt most of the time.
That is one of the more convoluted ways to spin 'fired Borges because the offense was bad and hired Nussmeier' I can possibly imagine. Kudos.
I bet you would find a way to be miserable about the weather on a warm summer day
How warm we talking? Some of those summer days can be wretched.
stop the run before you stop the pass is something that tv commentators say. in reality, it's nonsense. stopping the run is great and all, but if play action sucks in your inexperienced MIKE (who was a previously awesome SAM) or he gets a lousy zone drop that the offense just lobs the ball right over, it's 6 points regardless of whether you stopped the run previously.
But Ryan is likely to cover the zone drops better than our MLB's did last year. We got abused by tight ends last year, and this is likely one of the reasons for Jake's move to MLB.
first, the player abused most was joe bolden, no desmond morgan. second, the find of coverage asked of a MIKE is just different than what ryan did last year. that's not to say that ryan isn't able to play MIKE coverage. just that it's asking a lot of him to do so, while also scarificing his best attributes.
You are certainly right about Bolden, but (the interception excepted) Morgan was not excelling in that aspect of his job. I really like Morgan, but this is where non-athleticism hampers him a bit. You are right that I am projecting that Ryan's athleticism will enable to do this well. It seems like a reasonable objection.
Not desmond huh? Maybe you didn't watch the KSU game
It could also be the coaches were alarmed by the fact that neither of our mlb's last year were capapble of covering tight ends or playing passing lanes in general and jake ryan has shown that ability in practice.
Maybe we jump right to Google Glass on the sidelines.
This post really bummed me out.
That is the theme of this off-season, didn't you know? In contrast to our usual wildly unrealistic euphoria at the start of each season -- because we are, well, Michigan -- we are tricking 2014 by approaching the season by being really bummed out. I think it is promising, if we can keep it up.
but Brian has become a giant troll wrt football.
I just see it as him pandering to his target market...
So when do we stock up on torches and pitchforks?
Don't tell me you got rid of all of yours that you aquired in November
Hopefully someone has last year's models.
I agree the coaching shuffling sounds "curious" but frankly what they were doing last year was not working at all. So the approach I am taking is, will this improve anything? I don't know. But I didnt see any position group excel last year with the coaching we had. So difficult to do worse (famous last words around here I guess). IMO about 3 of these coaches should be jettisoned since position coaching is so critical. We see what Jordan is doing in the basketball program with our guards - he is a jewel. I dont see one coach of similar ilk in the entire football program at the position level who I feel confident will make nearly every player he touches measurably better.
As for LBs, my secret hope is Gedeon is ready to take over Ryan's old position and our starting 3 is Ryan, Ross, and Gedeon. Gedeon is the only guy physically last year I saw whose body matches Ryan in size (Beyer was in the same range). I know on paper some of the other guys are theoretically similar in size but eye test on the field I saw Bolden and Desmond as smaller dudes and Gedeon a man child. Gedeon we have a small sample size but like Henry and Wormley and Stribling - those are the 4 guys I saw some faint "splash" play ability last year from freshman or RS freshman types, so I hope these are the 4 who take really big steps this year. I wonder if Mattison - who seemed to speak very highly of Gedeon - made this move to make room for him as well. This would allow Desmond to be a primary backup and rotation guy (we rotate guys like mad at that position as it is).
I'm totally with you as a Gedeon booster. I think he's gonna be a star. But if the coaches wanted Ryan and Gedeon on the field at the same time, I'm not sure why they wouldn't just keep Jake where he was at and slot Gedeon in as MIKE.
At any rate, I think Brian's stuck in an emo rut on this point -- perhaps the stated reasons for putting Ryan in at MIKE are actually, like, thought out and stuff: they want taller players at MIKE to be able to see into the backfield and read plays better; they want more athleticism at MIKE to be able to cover sideline to sideline; teams had been scheming away from Ryan and this will get him more involved in every snap. While Morgan is solid, he's generally not much of a playmaker (and yes, I remember the interception). I'd think the coaching staff would be in for more criticism if they were willing to stand pat with a B/B+, run-stuffing type guy at MIKE than trying to Adapt to the New Spread Reality, but hey, I'm probably just an apologist.
Good point on why not just put Gedeon in the middle ... but as you said Desmond is not a playmaker in my eyes either. I remember the one INT vs UConn but overall he is a nice competent player but doesnt impact the game anywhere near what Ryan does. I think if Ross was clean more often he also makes many more plays than Morgan.
That said the DTs getting rolled over didnt help any of our LBs who were in theory the best unit we had last year. I'd rather have a more stout guy in the middle so I am actually liking this move because it allows Ryan to make plays on both sides of the field now and he is our #1 playmaker on defense. But unless the DL gets better the effectiveness of all 3 players in that group drops.
Agree on coaches and on Gedeon.
If you've determiend that the current coaching arrangement isn't working, you decide to move your strongest coaches to the areas of need. Okay. So then, what to do with the coaches who were previously coaching the areas that became areas of need? You could move them to coach other areas of lesser need or you could bring in the best available talent in the country to coach those areas of lesser need. If you're gonna make changes to fix what's broken, go all the way.
Well I was already nervous. This certainly does nothing to quell that feeling. Quite the opposite actually. Feels like this program is moving backwards.
They are moving towards (at least giving a long to) to a 4-3 over scheme like MSU and OSU use with the hybrid star type LB like Denicos Allen.
Ross and Gant will be your Sam backers to start out the Spring.
Of course this is 2nd hand info, but on good authority.
The goal is to be more aggressive.
Who will be the new WILL?
the WILL is almost certainly desmond morgan. that's fine because he's good at that position and has played it previously. the problem is SAM. it's great to move to a new scheme where your SAM is a hybrid type, but considerably less great when that means moving your best defender to a position he's never played, where he'll be asked to do things he hasn't previously done and which minimize the best of his talents.
Ross actually fits very well as a 4-3 Over SAM, which is what Denicos Allen played. Could also play him at WILL (STAR) and move Morgan to SAM and the fit would work pretty well. But we'll see how much/if they actually are going to more of an Over front.
that would be the most coherent way to address what it seems like they're trying to do. but it's also a system that none of them have coached the nuances of and is at least a bit different philosophically.
it also really taxes our safeties, which are unproven at this point.
I don't anticipate Michigan changing their base to an Over front. While they've have increasingly run it more year-to-year, that is only with the desire to become more multiple. I believe Under will still be their base defense next year.
yeah, agreed. Mattison is a package guy. he seemed to run more C4 this year and w/ more success. between deciding to increase the prominence of that package and the amount of nickel they were in anyway, they flopped Ryan to MIKE.
I miss the days when football positions weren't people's names. I've watching Michigan football my entire life but Jesus is it confusing to figure out where these guys are going to be on the field.
I should probably stop skipping down to the bullets of the UFR. :(
the terms MIKE, SAM and WILL have been around for 30+ years.
i really think Ryan will end up taking a good number of SAM snaps.
in that interpretation, we're trying to solve our problems against good up tempo spread to run teams. the whole point would be to be able to kick Ross out over the slot while cutting down on Bolden/Gedeon reps AND making sure we have enough size on the line. i.e. not being forced to play both Beyer and Ryan on a 4 man line. it definitely seems at least a bit convoluted and perhaps somewhat over-focused on OSU.
so i guess that Ryan will bump down to SAM against any alignments w/ 2 or fewer WR and on the regular on passing downs. he doesn't need the reps at that spot to be at least solid and i really don't think we've had many problems out of the base defense since Mattison's been here.
who knows. coaches are always talking about how some guys are just football players. maybe Ryan is that. even if they're not trying to use Ryan as superman, the fix comes off as a little Borgesian. instead of getting better out of what they already do, they're adding patch fixes that perhaps, they can't practice enough to actually get good at. the defenses that have adjusted best to uptempo seem to be more Narduzzi (make small adjustments to one universal base defense, not a lot of sub packaging) and less Saban (multiple base defenses w/ moduled substitute packages to each). Mattison's definitely more Saban than Narduzzi in that sense.
A switch to the system MSU runs involves a overhaul in the defensive philosophy. They expect their LBs to do different things because DL responsibility is different, as well as their safeties who have aggressive run support duties. Going to MSU's D won't just be shifting the DL and LB positions. While Mattison has run a multitude of fronts, so a switch wouldn't be completely foreign, I'm worried about the corresponding switches of reads and responsibility in the secondary. I don't think you need to switch philosophies to get more aggressive. The 2011 D was more aggressive than the 2013. If what you say is true, I'm worried that a philosophy switch is putting the returning starters back to square one in terms of their reads/responsibilities instead of letting them continue to grow in the current scheme. Narduzzi didn't have a good D until year 4, and didn't have an elite one until year 5.
2011 D also had mike martin, RVB, Kovacs and a young JMFR who could generate pressure relatively consistently, last year we didnt really have anybody who would get home even when we did blitz. If the blitz wont get to the QB consistently then you really can only be passive and hope for the mistake like we did.
Maybe we remember the 2011 D differently. I remember pretty much the whole year that the D couldn't get to the QB without blitzing. RVB did lead the team is sacks though with like 5 or something.
become MSU's defense! I want a defense as good as MSU's. SO maybe (please please please)...we are trying to emulate MSU's. Press coverage, gap blitzing, etc....Jake in the middle helps become more like MSU and Ross at SAM as well...now we need Taylor, Countess, Peppers, etc.. to press the crap out of receivers....
Is easier after a hit of Xanax.
I'm actually encouraged that the coaches are changing things around. If we had gone into next year with just about everything intact I would have been pretty afraid.