That should have been written 6 months ago
‘Give ’em the works, Cubby! We ain’t got a minute to lose! This ain’t a newspaper story — it’s a career! Why, they’ll be naming streets after you!’
Even before Brady Hoke started answering questions like this…
Q: How will Denard Robinson fit in this offense?
A: This is Michigan!
Q: What do you think about the goings-on in Columbus?
A: Though we have great respect for the Akron State Golden Bobcats, this remains Michigan.
Q: What kind of off—
A: THIS IS MICHIGAN TREMENDOUS
A: TREMENDOUS VAN OUSTANDING RIVER
/teaches journalist about Mad Magicians
…he expressed a certain disdain for fancy things like zone running, which is neither fancy or new or soft and has been used by teams from the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos to, you know, Michigan under Lloyd Carr. He swore up and down to everyone who attended the coaches' clinic that "A-gap power"—three yards and a cloud of dust, think Jehuu Caulcrick—would be Michigan's signature play. He has expressed a certain approach to offense that sends spread friendly folk like yrs truly and Braves & Birds into twitchy fits. His stated approach is neolithic.
So… like… WTF?
|09/04/10||Nicholls St.||Grass||W 47-0||10||12||1||23|
|09/11/10||@ New Mexico St.||Grass||W 41-21||8||13||3||24|
|09/18/10||@ 18 Missouri||Turf||L 24-27||5||10||2||17|
|09/25/10||Utah St.||Grass||W 41-7||9||9||0||18|
|10/09/10||@ Brigham Young||Grass||L 21-24||3||9||0||12|
|10/16/10||Air Force||Grass||W 27-25||8||8||0||16|
|10/23/10||@ New Mexico||Grass||W 30-20||8||12||2||22|
|10/30/10||@ Wyoming||Turf||W 48-38||2||15||3||20|
|11/06/10||Colorado St.||Grass||W 24-19||8||10||1||19|
|11/13/10||@ 2 TCU||Grass||L 35-40||1||6||0||7|
|12/23/10||+ Navy||Grass||W 35-14||14||12||1||27|
San Diego State passed on 63% of its first downs. In tight games* SDSU passed on 79% of first downs. This was not a catchup effect. Missouri led by more than one score for all of 41 seconds; against Utah SDSU ran out to a 27-10 lead before bleeding it away down the stretch. This has something to do with Ryan Lindley and some all-conference receivers but SDSU was very slightly run biased in 2010 (51%), managing a respectable 4.8 YPC. In 2010, especially when it counted, San Diego State passed to set up the run.
Where the hell is A-gap power? Why the hell did The Mountain West Connection write this about Hoke's candidacy for the job?
Hoke would bring in another non-traditonal Big 10 offense to Ann Arbor. It would be a spread offense, but instead of having an offense where there is a dual threat quarterback he plays three, four and five wide receiver sets.
Where's the manball?
*[Missouri, BYU, Air Force, TCU, and Utah. CSU excluded because the narrow scoreline was due to a touchdown with 2:43 left.]
Hoke's previous SDSU team threw even more but was not very good. They were especially un-good at running, so numbers from that season reflect necessity instead of philosophy. And Hoke only had two years in San Diego, so maybe he wasn't able to mold his team into the A-gap power six fullback monstrosity he yearns for.
How about the apex of his Ball State career?
|09/13/08||@ Akron||Turf||W 41-24||14||13||3||30|
|09/20/08||@ Indiana||Turf||W 42-20||12||9||3||24|
|09/27/08||Kent St.||Turf||W 41-20||8||17||1||26|
|10/04/08||@ Toledo||Turf||W 31-0||11||13||0||24|
|10/11/08||@ Western Ky.||Turf||W 24-7||9||9||3||21|
|10/25/08||Eastern Mich.||Turf||W 38-16||8||11||2||21|
|11/05/08||Northern Ill.||Turf||W 45-14||7||14||4||25|
|11/11/08||@ Miami (Ohio)||Turf||W 31-16||9||12||0||21|
|11/19/08||@ Central Mich.||Turf||W 31-24||13||8||2||23|
|11/25/08||Western Mich.||Turf||W 45-22||8||11||0||19|
|12/05/08||+ Buffalo||Turf||L 24-42||10||19||1||30|
|01/06/09||+ Tulsa||Turf||L 13-45||3||6||0||9|
Hoke's first downs under Stan Parrish were also pass-biased. Again, Nate Davis had something to do with that but Ball State was significantly more run-biased than 2010 SDSU: 520 rushes to 405 passes, with those rushes picking up 5 yards a pop. A team that ran 56% of the time threw on 55% of first downs.
HOWEVA, that's not a huge difference from late-era Carr behavior. I know this surprises you. I clicked the link three times just to make sure it wasn't having fun, but in 2007 Michigan passed on 54% of first downs despite playing Ryan Mallett for significant chunks of the season. They also ran on 56% of all plays. That may be an artifact of Michigan not being able to run very well (4 YPC; insert infamous stretch against OSU here). In 2006, a monstrously run-biased outfit (62% at 4.3 YPC while the passing game was averaging 7.7) was 50-50 on first down.
Meanwhile, Chris Brown has the most interesting single factoid in Wolverines Kickoff 2011. It's about SDSU's bowl game, the one after which Ken Niumatalolo said "that's as good of an offense as we've seen." In that game, the Aztecs ran more zone-blocked plays than gap-blocked plays en route to a rout. Here's an inside zone:
A few plays later the Aztecs would bust out their first power of the night. Notably, it was a "constraint" play—one designed to keep the defense honest. They lined up in a pro set and handed it to the fullback for the second time all year. On third and two they manballed up. Result:
Starting running back Ronnie Hillman averaged 8.1 YPC without any distorting 80-yarders (long of 37) and finished the day with 228 yards. San Diego State's defense did not appear to have a stroke while watching this.
So how does that jive with this?
When asked recently about the influence of Oregon’s offense, Hoke subtly revealed his disdain for the tactical shift Michigan experienced under Rodriguez. He is convinced that modern spread option offenses can be counterproductive to the core values of smashmouth football and are, therefore, to be avoided.
“Right, wrong or indifferent, when you’re zone blocking all the time -- when you’re playing basketball on grass -- you practice against that all spring, you practice against it all fall and then you’re going to play a two-back team that wants to knock you off the football,” Hoke said. “I don’t think you’re prepared.
It… like… doesn't. Unless Hoke just wants to have some power around so his defense doesn't turn into a bunch of lily-livered ninnyhammers and doesn't actually care how much it gets deployed in actual games. This would be good for the next couple years when what Hoke wants and what Hoke has will be severely mismatched.
Unfortunately for manball-is-just-talk theorists, that above-mentioned close-ish Colorado State game featured an event familiar to Michigan fans. After Colorado State scored with about three minutes left to draw within five, SDSU ran three times for two yards and gave the ball back to the Rams having run only 53 seconds off the clock. They ran on 2nd 7 and 3rd and 9. Very MANBALL.
The way the Aztecs lost the Missouri game is also terribly familiar. They picked off Blaine Gabbert with 1:47 left, ran 25 seconds off the clock, and punted on 4th and 8 from the Missouri 35. It took the Tigers two plays to score the winning touchdown. To be fair, freshman Ronnie Hillman caused coaching blood vessels to explode when he ran out of bounds on the first play of the drive and the Aztecs did throw on third down. To be ruthless, that throw was a screen or something equivalently conservative (it lost a yard) and once it was completed the situation was 4th and 8 for the win or a 20-yard punt. Hoke chose the punt. He chose poorly.
Against Air Force the Aztecs faced a 4th and goal from the two with about nine minutes left. They led by eight. Hoke called for the field goal team. That's not indefensible*; it is conservative. Hoke watched his kicker Broekgibbons it anyway.
On the other hand, in the Utah game San Diego State kept firing after leaping out to a big lead (obviously). There's no evidence they ever put the scoring offense away except in a couple of end-game scenarios.
*[It's probably the right call. Going from 8 to 11 forces the opponent to score two TDs to win instead of one and a two-point conversion. Getting the touchdown gives you a tie in the unlikely event an option team with 12 points so far gets two touchdowns and a conversion in the final nine minutes. A failure does leave the opponent on its own two.
As it happened, Air Force did score two touchdowns in the final nine minutes. Unfortunately for the Falcons, sandwiched between them was a one-play SDSU touchdown drive and they lost anyway.]
Hoke says he wants the team to act in a certain way—toughness toughness toughness—while simultaneously saying he will not futz with Al Borges. Al Borges has shown a predilection for lots of vertical passing and apparently does not care one way or the other about gap vs zone blocking. Hoke says he dislikes zone running and uses it plenty. He's recruiting large men to squash men who are not quite as large but has maybe 1.5 tight ends and Denard Robinson right now.
What Hoke wants is clear, and what he has is not what he wants. The record implies that he'll be relatively flexible. Michigan will still see a drop in yardage/fancy metric performance because they're spending time revamping instead of refining, but if under center isn't working they'll ditch it. Hell, against Navy SDSU's first drive formations looked like this:
They even ran a zone read. It went for a yard, but by God they ran it. When push comes to shove I think Michigan will go with what works, whatever that is.
That should have been written 6 months ago
I've lost sight of what the term MANBALL means. The terms seems to have migrated from a disdain for zone blocking and a love of power rushing to encompass punting and FG kicking.
The described 4th and 8 punt was a tad unforunate. I didn't watch the game so I cannot comment further. I generally do not like punting inside the opponents 40. 4th 8 is pretty long, however.
The described FG on 4th and goal was a fine call. I have no quibbles at all. 4th and goal from the 2 not easy.
Sometimes, teams come from behind and win. That does not mean the coach screwed up. Gary Moeller made the exact right calls against Colorado on that otherwise beautiful autumn day in 1994.
It's not as if RichRod didn't make his own completely stupid FG decisions all the way through the end of his tenure at Michigan. I recall during the bowl wondering why the heck RichRod appeared to be the only remaining person on the planet that thought Michigan could kick a FG.
I like the structure of the article and the way it’s written, but I don't agree with most of Michael's conclusions. I think he tries to simplify Brady Hoke and his coaching methods.
I think Brady see's last year's team as being weak on defense and he has a plan to fix it. Any successful plan needs to be understood and "bought into" by the people that are going to execute said plan. It's a tall order to turn a program around and if everyone does not believe, it won't work. He's getting everyone on board with a few simple ideas to rally around and as far as I can see, it's working.
Players are excited, working hard, not leaving the program, and new recruits are recognizing the momentum and want to be a part of it.
This team is going to be alright and the future looks good to me!
What can I tell you about myself that you have not already heard from Coach Hoke who does not lie?
You know, for all the effort we're pouring into analyzing and scrutinizing that infamous quote, there's a strong chance that Hoke doesn't even remember having said it.
We like...oh we like!
I thought the RR camp was defensive.
Do all you experts that claim defenses can't be good practicing against zone blocking 100% of the time know anything? I don't claim to know the answer, but I at least see that you guys are full of shit.
1. Do you even know what they practiced against last year? Do you think the scout team was lined up in a spread during Wisc week? Do you know that we ran power plays last year in our offense. Who do you think we practiced those plays against?
2. Other than St. Hoke declaring it from up on the mountain, do you have any evidence to support this zone blocking theory? You do realize the 2006 team ran almost entirely zone plays. That defense was pretty tough against the run. Logic=fail
3. Ok so now you are talking about spread zone teams.....like WVU last year who had one of the best defenses in the country.
Hoke is the coach, he's doing a great job at recruiting and bringing a positive vibe here. Enjoy it. Just don't buy into the bull crap coach speak he has to throw out there to appease Elmer in row 25 seat 3.
Almost any scheme can work if you have the right coaches teaching the right players. Stop hanging on to these ideas.
I love the one guy who was glad were multiple and we're not stuck with this guy who stubbornly sticks to his own system. Good Call I would have hated to have one of those system guys like Tom Osborne, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Bill Walsh, D. Lebeau who stubbornly stick to the same shit.
I really hate the "you do realize" formulation. It's so condescending, and it's so hackneyed now on top of it.
The problem with the defense in the Carr era was never with the front four, and often the linebackers were solid as well. The secondary left much to be desired in the way they played together from the beginning of the 2000s on. Not that there weren't tremendous talents, but for some reason it didn't succeed at holding opponents and preventing big plays. I'm not sure if there wasn't enough talent, or if it was the defensive philosophy, or whether it came down to actual adjustments that weren't made to counteract the offenses we faced (particularly with the advent of the spread).
Those problems carried over into the Rodriguez era, but for some reason under GERG the entire defense just seemed uncoordinated, front four and linebackers included. Maybe the defense seeing the power game Hoke has mentioned will help. I think our defense is more talented than in any of the Rodriguez years, and now it's up to Mattison and Hoke to use this talent.
You do know that Bo's developed over the years and were based on player skills. When he had Leach-like players he ran more option, when he had Wangler and Harbaugh he threw the ball more. He was inflexible only in his expectations.
Hoke usues this manball language to seperate himself as much as he can from rr.
I don't think we'll see much more than a vanilla offense on Sept 3 (could be wrong though), I think the real fun will begin with Notre Dame.
For me, though, the one thing I want to see in the MANBALL era is more of a killer attitude. When we get an opponent down, I want to finish him... and whether we're talking about the LC or RR era, that was certainly not the case.
I am glad that we have data to prove what most of us were hoping. This was definitely a clear case of coach speak to appease the bluehairs. HOWEVA, while some of you may believe that the manball memeis one that was made up by Brian. You are definitely out of the loop. Just look at all the post about the weight of the offensive linemen. All the love that everyone feels because fullback will now be restored to a scholarship position. All the people postulating the deployment of Tight ends now that Hoke is the coach.People love the 3 yards up the middle every down style of yore. The average sports fan has some antiquated idea of what pro style offenses look like. they believe it to be a double tight end single two wide set under center. Oddly i dont see that formation deployed very much in modern football. I see alot of 3and 4 receiver sets, tight end going in motion ( Don't remember the last time i saw a fullback used in a 2back set), and the coup de gras- more and more mobile quarterbacks. Multiple set is what i see in the NFL. Which brings me to the question, for all you experts out their ( especially Magnus your always good for solid answers that aren't biased) What is pro style offense? Am I right in thinking that i see the most successful teams running multiple, or doth mine eyes deceive me?
Maybe it's easier to describe what a pro-style isn't...
No wishbone. No option plays. And not that many designed runs for the QB (Vick the exception).
But you're dead on, because the type of offenses New England runs vs. Indianapolis vs. Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans vs. Philly and on and on are very different.
1. Create unjustified panic that Hoke will run neolithic offense based on one misinterpreted sentence, despite ample evidence to the contrary; repeat ad nauseum;
2. Refute unjustified panic that you yourself created, using ample evidence that was available from the outset;
It seems odd to begrudge Brian trying to make a buck off his website. If you don't like it, don't cluck on it.
That having been said, I do wonder, how much are Brian's "beliefs" motivated by true belief rather than by a desire to get more hits.
I come at this with no data, but a hypothesis. There is a good synergy between Brian's fears of what Hoke's offense will look like and getting hits and replies. I may disagree with some/many of Brian's opinions, but I love his site.
If taking a strong point of view (even if I think it is irationale) has gotten Brian more hits and more money, isn't that good for him and this blog?
First, you should watch more South Park.
Second, I don't believe that Brian is intentionally taking inflammatory opinions to generate hits. That's the kind of shit that people like Colin Cowherd and horribly annoying political pundits do, and I have way more respect for Brian than to believe that.
Apparently, you think he is doing that. And are OK with it, and actually defend it. Which is mind-boggling. I don't think Brian would actually appreciate your brand of support.
Read the next paragraph
Or more simply
Brian has concerns about Hoke/manball, he likes RR's spread
When he writes about them he gets lots of hits and makes more money then when he doesn't get as many hits
When he's trying to put out lots of content, why not return to an old standard that he knows will get lots of hits
If manball writeups only got single digit hits rather than triple digit hits, I bet we'd see lots less of them
Seeing Brian's love of analysis, I bet he has lots of stats about what works and what doesn't. I don't see what is wrong with that or why it is offensive. That having been said, I've never met the guy, so what do I know
Nice to see Brian doing actual research again. Hopefully his emo period is behind him for good.
At this point, I'm just going to consider everything Coach Hoke says as fluff and/or tidy sound bytes to distract the MSM and older Michigan fans until the season starts. We're so close to kickoff that it's probably the healthiest option anyway.
Either way, Borges is really running the show on offense. He's a smart guy...we'll be fine. As much as I loved the spread, some variety will, at the very least, be exciting to see. There's no use bickering about something that we have no idea whether it will come to fruition or not, and if it does, in what capacity.
I hate the "soft" label people throw around. The defense was bad last near, not soft. It was bad because the players had poor technique, the coaches didn't know what they were doing, the had bad schemes, they were young, etc. But you can't tell me that guys like Mike Martin, Jonas Mouton, Brandon Graham, etc. were "soft" players. I know there are differences in various blocking schemes, but UM got rolled last year because they had young players starting when they shouldn't have been, but because of talent deficiencies they were out there. You had a guy at DC who rubbed stuffed animals on players' faces but couldn't trot out a formation to stop the run or pass consistently. You had a coach who recruited reasonably well but had trouble turning decent recruits into good players, and a team decimated by injuries and defections on the defensive end literally running on fumes at the end of the year.
UM's defense was bad because the players and schemes didn't work, not because they didn't have enough "grit" or were "soft." And it is idiotic to believe that practicing against offenses with different blocking schemes would have changed that.
I don't think I'll ever get that image out of my head. That is the all-time low for me as a Michigan fan of 30+ years.
Well, I guess I understand if your brain blocked out all memory of The Horror.
Took this from the ESPN play-by-play records (no PBP listed for the Air Force and New Mexico games) (did this by hand, so there might be a little human error on this):
Nicholls State 19/11
NM State 26/9
Utah State 17/9
Colorado State 22/8
Total for 11 games 192/138
58/42 Run/Pass ratio.
Losingball should do it. Followed by the standard we had a great week of practice/preparation, just didn't execute.
Coach Hoke uses the manball talk to put as much distance between him and RR as he can.
could rate this post as "redundant".
The thing about pass/run ratio is that passing has so much variety, you can do a lot of it on first down and still not get anywhere. Michigan under Debord threw tons of long handoffs on first downs that were almost laterals, and they ran that waggle constantly. They also ran tons of passes that were completed just past the line of scrimmage to a wide receiver who would get tackled for a 3 yard gain while running towards the sideline. What those all have in common is that they were highly predictable and not much more productive or risky than running. When I watch Borges's offenses, I see a lot more unpredictability and spreading the ball around.
Long term, I am sort of worried that we won't run it enough. Or, we won't be very good at it. Hoke hasn't had a single team average 200 ypg rushing, and even SDSU last year was very imbalanced in terms of yardage. Pro style teams with great running games are very few and far between nowadays. If you look at the stats, the teams that lead the country in rushing are almost exclusively spread teams like Oregon or option teams like Air Force. This is because "Manball" rarely works against a good team. It's usually QB play that decides a game between two teams with great defenses. And it's QB play that has saved our butts in some of our bowl games when our running game hasn't gotten the job done.