You should have opened those dorkmode tags. I read too much before I realized where I was.
mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Do or die. So, good news about the game tonight: MGoBlog will not be hosting a liveblog. Therefore, Michigan has a chance. Bad news: gimpy Purdue star Robbie Hummel is a go.
I've laid it out before and I believe the equation still holds: Michigan needs two of its final three games and then one win in the Big Ten Tournament to feel pretty good about getting in. Gacking it up against Iowa has cut their margin of error down greatly, and I'm expecting the NIT. But if homoerotic hobbits on a trek into Mordor teach us anything, it's that short pasty white guys with curly hair can do anything. So rock on.
One of Cook’s insiders revealed that Rodriguez met with Steve Threet and basically told him he’s decided frosh Tate Forcier is getting all the snaps this spring. Thus Threet bolted. If this was posted on mgoblog I missed it (and maybe the info wasn’t solid enough to post).
Some clarification: I've heard this from a few different people, all of them on the Threet side of things. I didn't post anything on it because it didn't seem quite strong enough, but when I was LIVE it just sort of came out and there it is. The details are still fuzzy but Threet clearly felt he was not going to have a full opportunity to win the job and, not wanting to be David Cone, decided to go elsewhere.
It's a risk on Rodriguez's part to be sure; the upside is that Forcier gets all the snaps and will be as ready as he possibly can be when Western Michigan rolls into town. Which may not be particularly ready, but he's all we've got.
Risk and expectation and so forth and so on. Braves and Birds notes a Smart Football post on the appropriate amount of risk to take in a football game. This has long been a topic of interest here, too, as it was my longstanding opinion that Lloyd Carr's answer to that ("almost none unless we're playing Ohio State") was way too conservative. However, conservative strategy has its place. Smart Football:
Is it always "optimal" to set your strategy to maximize points scored?
In the NFL -- which is what Brian [not me, this Brian –ed] focuses on -- this is likely true and the assumption holds. NFL teams are almost all competitive with each other, and even the worst teams can beat the best in a given game. So any reduction in expected points is likely to hurt a team's chances of winning because they need to maximize that out to get wins.
But is that true in college? Or in high school? Think about when Florida plays the Citadel. The Gators have a massive talent advantage compared with the Bulldogs. As a result, what is the only way they can lose? You guessed it: by blowing it. They can really only lose if they go out and throw lots of interceptions, gamble on defense and give up unnecessary big plays, or just stink it up.
My theory as to why Michigan got so stagnant under Carr was an extension of the Florida-vs-Citadel mindset. Bo Schembechler pretty much believed everyone was the Citadel—or, more likely, never gave a whole lot of thought about the appropriate level of risk in a football game past the Woody Hayes maxim that "only three things can happen when you throw the football and two of them are bad." This worked out fine for him because everyone in the Big Ten other than Ohio State pretty much was the Citadel: it would take some seriously freak occurrences for Michigan to lose to them.
Carr's mindset was formed in this era, but he coached in an era of greatly increased parity. This was bad. When you give away expectation against the Citadel, you just win by less. When you give it away against a competitive but slightly inferior team you are going to find yourself in a lot of late-game dogfights and some of those are going to slip away. Carr started moving away from this philosophy, but it was a halting process, and I could write about this sort of thing forever. It's a digression.
Not a digression: no, it's not always optimal to maximize your points scored. It's pretty easy to set up a situation where it's not (you have the ball on the opponent's five yard line with thirty seconds left and you're down two, etc etc). While a lot of these things are specific situations they illuminate a larger issue: most of the measures, even the advanced measures we have at Football Outsiders and places like that, don't take variance into account.
Smart Football's got a theory that teams should strive for run-pass equilibrium in a different fashion than you hear about it on TV. Instead of running half the time or getting half of your yards on the ground, you should seek to have your passing plays and running plays gain the same number of yards. Just about no one does this except real weirdo offenses like Texas Tech. One possibility is coaches are just doing it wrong. The other possibility is that there's an institutional wisdom there.
What would that wisdom be? Well, gaining big hunks of yards a portion of the time and getting zero a lot is a different way of doing things than gaining small hunks of yards a lot and not getting zero very often. Is second and seven better than second and two half the time and second and ten the other half? That's an unanswered question.
[okay, /extremedorkmode, returning to standarddorkmode]
You should have opened those dorkmode tags. I read too much before I realized where I was.
Jay Bilas said last night that a win against Purdue pretty much locks up a bid. I actually wondered if that was his attempt to placate the UM fanbase (and MGoBlog in particular).
The problem with the Woody-Bo-Carr philosophy (and don't get me wrong, those guys know/knew 1000x more about football than I do) is that, you can at least argue, their grind-out-the-clock philosophy is riskier than a more wide-open one is in the game now...It made sense not to throw the ball all over the place when your QB just wasn't a good passer. Now, though, top-level teams almost always have QBs who can pass well. The risk of passing, then, is less...The real risk now is not taking advantage of the huge talent advantage you have when you have Chad Henne, Mario Manningham, and Adrian Arrington lined up against App. St., Iowa, Minnesota, etc. The better your team the more snaps you should want in the game - the more roles of the dice in which your talent is matched up against the lesser team's talent, the better.
I was really happy when Rodriguez was hired in part b/c I watched WVU's 2008 game against UConn (66-21 in favor of WVU, I believe). I think UConn came into that game with a chance to take the lead in the Big East and they were fired up. WVU and Coach Rodriguez found weaknesses in UConn's defense and stepped on their throat w/out blinking. UConn would have needed a truly bizarre amount of lucky breaks to win that day. I don't think Michigan under Carr would have had the same mindset of "let's score as many points as we possibly can."
I'm glad that Michigan will be looking for points now instead of time off the clock (an over-simplification, to be sure). A two-play touchdown drive can only be matched with another touchdown. A six-minute drive that ends with a punt can be trumped by a single defensive breakdown that allows the opposing team's wide-outs to break one into the end zone.
is knowing that UConn at its best could very rarely beat O$U at its worst... this is my paranoid fear. It keeps me awake at night.
What does it matter about UConn? You should care about how you think that WVU would have done against OSU two years ago, had they not lost to Pitt.
matters because they were the Big East runners-up in the scenario above. I don't really care at all about how WVU would do against anybody. My fear is that the competition in the Big East was not even close to the level of competition in the Big Ten.
And please tell me more about what I should care about.
What makes me feel better about that is that Rodriguez will have much better talent at Michigan than he did at WVU. That said, I'll certainly heave a sigh of relief the first time Michigan runs all over a quality opponent.
You also have to consider that the talent level RR had at his disposal at WVU was nowhere near what he'll have at M. At WVU, he beat up on teams with equal talent level (Louisville, Pitt, etc). At M, the only teams he'll regularly play with approximately equal talent are OSU and ND. Thus, if he creates a WVU-like machine here (that's a big if), we have an advantage over every team on our schedule.
Florida fans probably had the same concerns a couple years back, maybe moreso.
That's not to say I'm expecting the same results in the same amount of time, but at least it's a data point in our favor.
Nice touch with using BBoard tags instead of actual HTML tags for your dorkmodeness.
"Instead of running half the time or getting half of your yards on the ground, you should seek to have your passing plays and running plays gain the same number of yards."
Instead of getting half of your yards on the ground, you should seek to get half your yards on the ground? Am I missing something?
To clarify, you want yards per pass attempt to equal yards per rushing attempt. If you're passing twice as much and getting the same amount of yards per attempt for each, you will have twice as many passing yards as rushing yards while still meeting their definition of balance.
So, more, shorter passes. Hence the spread/west coast offense mentality.
Yards per attempt, not necessarily yards per play. Gotcha. Not sure I agree with the idea, but that's why I'm a programmer and they're NCAA coaches.
What is 'Yards per play' for $200 Trebek
Instead of running 30 times at 5 YPC and Passing 15 times for 10 YPA, we should try for 20 rushing attempts at 7 YPC and 25 passing attempts at 7 YPA.
Carr's mentality has always reminded me of basic strategy in Blackjack; that is, my actions will be dictated by this little card - I don't believe "gut," I don't believe a table is ever "hot" or "cold," I'm not going to try to count cards. Regardless of what the situation is, I'm putting my faith in age-old fundamentals and statistics (nevermind the fact that Carr's basic strategy sometimes conflicted with statistics).
As a basic strategy player, myself, I can empathize. Sticking to "the rules" of my game can prevent me from losing a lot of money very quickly... but it can also prevent me from making a lot of money quickly. I'm okay with that trade-off because I hate losing anything more than I like winning big. It takes emotion out of the decision-making.
Dantonio is obviously a basic strategy player. I'd put Tressel's game on the side of basic strategy, but he's also a good card-counter, and that swings the odds his way.
We never do know what short, pasty white, curly haired dudes can do....but, if you want to know what a light skinned, curly haired, Creole looking dude did at one time against Purdue, check out my latest Diary.
Oh, and solid work as usual Brian.....thanks for the no live blog thing as well.
I know a lot of folks are freaking out about Threet's leaving. But, the only way that Threet leaving is a bad thing is if you assume that Forcier and/or Robinson are going to fail or get injured.
Otherwise, it is unlikely Threet would ever see the field and any snaps he would have taken in practice merely mean Forcier/Robinson are less prepared.
[extremedorkmode alt="If you really enjoy this joke you spent too much time at a computer in the last 10 yrs"]
Guilty as charged.
That makes sense, but doesn't passing generally carry an increased risk of a turnover (between interceptions and also fumbling), such that to achieve true balance you might still want more YPP passing than running?
I have heard that since passing yards has a much higher standard deviation than rushing yards, the ideal balance between the two is for yards per pass to be about 1 yard higher than its yards per run.
I don't know if I buy that--the most successful teams over the past few seasons seem to have a YPP about 1.5 to 2.0 yards higher than their YPR, even when you count sacks as passing attempts (NFL-style), rather than rushes (NCAA-style).
we should not neglect the additional risk of injury to the QB when attempting to pass. While RBs (and running QBs) face a greater risk of injury when running the ball, they are not exposed in the way that a QB are.
We've had a hundred different posts here on the Threet topic. You seem to be forwarding a rumor and not exactly giving it a ringing endorsement. I think relaying all the info you get is good, but I think we are all curious on what you believe.
I still contend RR's program is all competition based and would never discourage a player from competition so I find this rumor at the least overstated and at the worst complete hogwash. Why tell your most experienced guy in an extremely thin depth chart you are not getting much a chance?? I guess I'm so stuck on this issue because if I believe it true, I have to believe RR is a lying knucklehead which I just can't handle.
"you should seek to have your passing plays and running plays gain the same number of yards" sounds pretty silly to me.
Certain plays will (and should) have higher reward (and hence higher risk). To design all pass plays and runs gain 3-4 yards would be ridiculous- defenses would merely align all 11 players within 5 yards of the LOS.
Rather than maximizing points scored in a game, you should seek to have each offensive play gain the maximum number of yards (and minimizing losses) for that play. Expectations (and risk/rewards) for each respective play are different, and perform a different function within the game plan and weekly practice plan.
Maximizing points is often not the best strategy.
I recall a game at Michigan Stadium several years ago when Illinois give Michigan several chances to steal the game back, when all they really needed was a first down and possession of the ball.
Apart from sportsmanship issues of running up the score, scoring can remove the element of control. Generally a team of superior talent game plans around wanting to reduce the variables, increase its own time of possession and reduce the number of chances the other team has to score.
I realizing whacking Lloyd is a standard theme here. But I think you've got much of it wrong.
I will agree that both Bo and Lloyd attempted to impose Michigan's will upon the opponent. But there was quite a difference and evolution that took place.
The most common thread was the insistence on soundness in scheme and design and execution, eliminating chances of mistakes, and making the opponent play a near perfect game to beat you- which, while it is admittedly predictable, is a philosophy hardly unique to Michigan. Virtually all big (better talent) programs follow this general blueprint, depending on their own talent and situation. Did they err on the side of conservative sometimes? Sure, but not all that often. We tend to remember the cases where that MAY have been true, without knowing of course if the alternative really would have been better or worse.
Bo's schemes on offense and defense from the the 70's (and even through much of the 80's) and Lloyd Carr's offenses and defenses in the 00's were entirely different.
Bo's philosophy for much of his career: put your best athletes on defense, be tougher on both sides of the ball, and pound them; sooner or later the TB or QB will get loose on the option (and later maybe a WR on something deep) for a big play.
Mo and Lloyd's offenses were adopted from the NFL to the college game, and generally built around (NFL prospect) big play receivers and QBs who could get the ball to them if the defense dared to single cover them. The routes were usually intermediate and longer routes, although increasingly used WR screens in later years.
It was hardly "three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" stuff. If the safeties were back, that allowed the run game to control the game. The Alex Gibbs zone run offense was based in large parts on reducing or eliminating negative yardage plays, in part with the realization that there is a big difference between 3&5 and 3&9 in what routes you can run, pass protections you need, etc. Perhaps I have digressed...