Here are some random thoughts after going up to the Big House to see the next team in person. I will preface all this by saying that I have no credentials, no true facts or basis for my opinons, no charts, and no real desire to convince any of you. I just feel like putting all my thoughts down on paper, and it's fun to get torn apart by the mgocommunity once in a while. This will be long, so instead of posting tl;dr just click on something else Mr. Snarkypants.
Jerald Robinson is not ready. He does seem to have the physical skills to become a good reciever in the future, but I doubt he will be a significant contributor this year. During the warm up drills he dropped several balls, which he continued to do in the game also. I could be wrong, but I think his only catch was when he dropped to his knees (rookie mistake) and was down immediatley. I know he's young, but all the coach-speak so far is that he is our solid #3 option at WR, and he will also be a deep threat for us. I don't believe any of that. Jeremy Jackson is far more poised, runs better routes, catches the ball better, and has real in-game experience in high pressure situations. Jeremy is a solid possesion reciever, but not really the gamechanger we need to start at WR.
Devin Gardner is not our second best QB. This is a harsh statement that I'm sure some of you will not like, but it's how I feel. I really don't see any improvement from him compared to last year. He is a "one read and take off downfield" passer. This can be really effective in high school, but it won't work in Div.1 college football. Borges talks about "getting into the fight" when he refers to stepping up into the pocket and keeping your shoulders square with your eyes downfield (ready to pass). The only times Devin moves in the pocket, he is taking off to run down the field. Russ was poised and seemed to lead the team well. I like the way he checks down recievers, and his few mistakes were easilly fixed teachable moments. Russel did not move backwards several times like Devin did, and he was even dealing with a center who consistantly snapped the ball really high. This kid has some promise, yo.
Why not move Devin to WR? We need a true athletic threat at our #3 spot, and to me Dileo and Gallon are slots that don't match up well on the outside. I'm not saying that Devin shouldn't get some reps at QB, but he will help our team this year so much better on the outside. The guy has some amazing skills - he is fast, has great range, good leaping ability and he's 6'4" forgodsakes. He is also a way better option for Dennard's "throw it up for grabs" style of long pases, and could replace Hemmingway in that capacity.
I'm not sure who will win out the LB competition, but this is going to be fun to watch. I saw really good things out of the two freshman, Bolden and Ringer. Bolden has some good instincts and just needs to learn his assignments a bit better. This defense will be scary good in 4 years. Hawthorn has made a statement that he needs PT. Playmakers find their way on the starting roster, and the UM coaches will be watching #7 pop out on film all summer. I can't wait to see the other freshman linebackers compete for a spot on the two-deep.
Blake Countess will make game-changing plays this year and continue to be a solid rock we can depend on in the defensive backfield. I really like how Mattison is emphasizing that he hasn't arrived yet, and it's nice to hear that Blake continues to bust his ass in hopes to get better every day. I am concerned about us getting beat deep still. I think the fact that our offense doesn't throw downfield much gives our back end less reps in live action agianst attacks that take several shots downfield. Jarrod Wilson looks comfortable at safety, and I like his physical presence in support of the run defense. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there, and he made some nice plays.
Our running back situation is nice right now. Fitz is a beast, and I really like how he has the ability to run downhill or cut it to the backside to expoit over-pursuit. Rawls looks like Mike Hart with bigger lower body. I know that's a bit "Fred Jackson" of me, but he gains yardage with every move. He is the kind of back that can wear on you throughout a game and really dominate in the 4th quarter. Hoke mentioned that Hopkins is our short yardage back, but I like Hopkins leading Rawls up the middle more. This kid will be special by the time his Michigan career is over. Justice Hayes is sneaky fast, and he will be a nice third down back after Vincent Smith graduates. I also love the playaction fulback flat pass you see so much in the NFL. Our FB's are capable of making a big first down/touchdown once a game on this play.
As far as the defensive line is concerned, we aren't looking very solid right now. Jabreel Black looks gigantic compared to last year, and the coaches are saying he needs to put on more weight this summer. How much bigger can his body get? I guess we'll see. Washington is our best nose option IMO, and that's not saying a ton. Campbell is OK, but I still don't believe he's a starter. Ash made some good plays getting into the backfield, and Chris Rock looks like he could beef up and be a solid player on the DL in the future. We need to be stout up the middle, or teams that like to smash it could find playcalling a bit too easy against this defense.
All in all, it was a great time at the Big House like it always is. I can't wait to go to the opener at home, and we will now spend too much time over-analyzing all the film we have from the spring. Go Blue!!!
|Play||Formation||Down & Distance||Field Position||Run/Pass||1st Down?|
My first M-Go Chart. So what does this crazy thing mean? The plays of an offense are numbered down the left side. The second column is full of several different personnel packages. In a real game a team wouldn't really run 12 different personnel packages in a row, this is just several examples of different ones. Some coaches use this number system to easily identify what the other team is up to. It's a really simple system where the first number represents the number of running backs, and the second number is the amount of tight ends. You assume 5 lineman and a QB, and so the final number (WR's) is implied. For instance the "21" Formation is two RB's and 1 TE which means there are 2 WR's in play.
What can you do with this new way of looking at personnel? Well, create a simple chart like the one above. You can add whatever columns you want (mine are just an example). Obviously you want to watch the game live without a chart in your lap, but the idea is to go back through the offensive plays and write down the data as it happens. (Brian already does an awesome job of this, it's just a different way to look at it...)
You can then create statistics that will tell you things like, "On first down, the opposition runs 75% of the time." Or, "This team likes to run the ball in their own territory and pass more in yours." There are endless ways of breaking down the small amount of columns I used.
Teams like to do this to gain an advantage in knowing what other teams might do next. They will look at data like this at halftime to make adjustments and look for keys in playcalling. Teams also run this type of analysis on themselves (self-scouting) to make sure they don't have any glaring tendences.
You can call them whatever you want, but this simple system allows you to focus on how these different allignments effect what the team will call in any given situation. Most teams don't run every play from every package.
I just learned about this a few months ago, and I wanted to start charting our team under the new head coach. It will be fun to see if any of you create some badass charts of your own. I mean, this is MGO, right?
So after they announced the hire yesterday, I too was a little peeved. I called my father (who lives and works in Ann Arbor) to get a good feel for what was going on. He made some excellent points which got me off the ledge and onto the Hoke bandwagon. Brian seems to be bent on shooting himself and renouncing everything Michigan, but some of you might find this helpful.
1. The Little Things - His best point IMO, was about the little things. Do you remember when you didn't have to worry about the little things? Do you remember ever worrying about the punt returner catching the ball? Do you remember every worrying about a 25 yard field goal? How about kick coverage stopping the other team before they advance past he 30? Do you ever (In your entire lifetime) remember Michigan turning the ball over the most in the Big Ten?
Hoke will fix the little things. This guy is a detail oriented coach who is tough, challenging, and endearing. He learned from the best, and went out into the coaching world to learn more from experience. Those of you saying that "all RR needed was a good defense" were simply not correct. His special teams were the worst in Michigan history. His turnovers were abundant and devastating in all three years. There are so many fundamental things wrong with this team that we desperatly need to get back to basics. Hoke is the perfect coach to do just that.
2. Where's the BEEF? - I grew up with Michigan football. It means everything to me, and it has given me much more joy than it will ever give me sadness. Going to the Big House is my favorite thing to do - PERIOD. Since I was a kid, I watched Michgan's smashmouth style with glee. I loved seeing the opposing team give up more and more yardage as the game went on. I loved to see us dominate the other team, even though they knew what we were doing. Try to stop us, I dare you.
Hoke will bring back the physicality that has been missing from this team. We had no killer attitude, and no dominating presence. With all the amazing weight training and strength building, we never got to see the Barwis effect on our physical nature. I read that he loves Michigan and might stay. That would be fantastic, and I think Hoke will quickly learn to appreciate his ability to shape and mold players. They won't be focusing on speed and quickness now, as much as raw power and explosion.
Sitting there on New Year's Day I watched in horror as my favorite team was demolished and embarassed. My Mom was remarking that our team just "didn't look like a Michigan team any more." When the Wisc/TCU game came on, she was like, " That! That is what Michigan used to look like!" And she's right. We used to be a team people were scared to play. Not just because of the threat of losing, or the intimidating stadium. We were big and scary - the kind of team that gets off the bus looking like hell is on it's way.
3. A Fanbase united, Finally. - This might seem like it's not such a big deal, but it certainly is. We need our former players to stop saying things like "Lloyd Carr's Michigan." We need all the boosters, facutly, and especially all of you to get behind our new coach 100%. We really, really need Brian to get behind this guy because he is probably one of the most influential Michigan fans in the history of our program. There are so many things out of whack about this team right now that we really need someone to get us back on track.
Hoke isn't a glamour pick. He's not the "hot name" whatever that is. He is simply what we need at this time. I think David Brandon was hired to come in and fix our football program. He is smarter than most of us, and I watched him really get to know the coaches and players on this team. When I went to the Purdue game this year, I sat and watched him, Rich and Rich's son talk for 30 minutes. Most AD's don't even travel with the team for away games. (Esecially not by bus) Hoke is a proven coach that has turned programs around who are perrenial losers. Ball St. quickly went back to a bad school soon after Brady left.
4. Defense wins championships - Michigan fans now know this better than most. The last three years, we have seen why having a great offense isn't really that great. If you have a great defense, you will be in every game you play. Hoke will concentrate on running the ball and stopping the run. This philosophy works today, worked yesterday, and will always work in football. I know that the spread is fun to watch, and that the two teams in the title game this year ran the spread. It's all over college football because it works. That doesn't mean smashmouth football doesn't work, though. Any offensive scheme can be run successfully. In fact I could point out several championship teams in this decade that were as good as any spread team. Bringing the core values of what we all know to be Michigan football back to the Big House is what David Brandon did. I applaud him, and can't wait to see this team next year. GO BLUE!!!
Most of you will say, "TL, DR" - or something like that. But I'm writing this for the few out there that will have a bit of an epiphany like I did yesterday. I'm really looking forward to smacking other teams in the mouth again. Look at BH's stats from previous schools, he's not all about running the ball every play. Hell, we used to turn out NFL QB's like we were growing them in petri dishes. It's all headed back to us now. And who's to say that we can't throw some option in there as we're driving defenses into the ground? Bo ran some option back in the day, peeps.
These are a few things that I have experienced playing the up-in-coming season out a few times in the NCAA 2010 game. I thought that some of you will would find this interesting. If you think that this game has no bearing whatsoever on real life, you should save yourself a few minutes and go on to something else.
In the game, both Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor are really good and injury prone at the same time. This kind of follows what's happened in real life, and in every version of the up-in-coming season, neither of them played all the games. In most instances one or the other was hurt and not both. However, you need at least a couple guys during the course of a game, and the 2nd string guy will get some good looks. This makes me wonder who will be the #3 running back this year, and it really highlights the important role he will play for Michigan. Who do you think the #3 guy will be?
Tate vs. Denard -- I went to the spring game, and as a result I am all about Tate. When I started playing the video game, I started Tate without hesitation. He is a more accurate passer in the game (probably in real life as well) but a considerably slower runner. The thing is, when you are playing a really tough defense you need some big plays to sway the outcome. I found myself putting in Denard on some key plays to run the option, or just buy some extra time to get someone open. Denard seems to get himself into some big collisions while scrambling, and if I run out of bounds and try to slide he's ok. All in all both QB's are great for true freshman, and I am happy to be able to cheer for both this year. I am now confused about who should really start in real life. Tate offers better throwing skills, but Denard has a much better ability to make really big plays in the air and on the ground. RR has got his work cut out for him deciding who will start. Who do you think will start the majority of games this year?
Tay Odoms is a pimp. I came away last year feeling like all Tay did was fumble and get blasted, and every once in a while he showed flashes of brilliance. In the game, it is extremely apparent that he is the biggest playmaker on the team. Out of every weapon that Michigan has to use this year, Tay is head and shoulders above the rest. He needs to get his hands on the ball as much as possible, and any play can become a big one when he's involved. I still don't know if he should return punts, but my confidence in him has grown as a result of really getting into this year's roster. Do you see a bigger playmaker in this offense?
The defense will be fine. I spent some time playing the 4-3 under with Stevie at the WLB, and he makes plays on the backside because he is so fast. However, when a team lines up and runs right at him he gets blown back, and so I ended up using Evans, Mouton and Ezeh at the LB spots. I actually like to play with Craig Roh at the "quick" - he is a playmaker. Brandon Smith (how many Brandons are there on this team?) is really good in the game, and I hope he is half as good in real life. Donnavan Warren will break out this year. He will have multiple INT's this year, and I bet he will return one for 6 as well. Every game I play Donnavan makes big plays that change things. Obi Ezeh still has trouble with intermediate routes, but scheming can help support that. I really think GERG has a bettter idea of how to hide weakness and play to the guys' strengths. Will Campbell should start from day one. He is big and inexperienced, but playing him beside Mike Martin is deadly. He might as well get thrown right in and learn quickly, because he is really athletic for his ginormousness. (like that word?) Do you think the defense will show improvement from last year, or will they struggle with a 3rd scheme in as many years?
The schedule - The opener is a tough game, but WMU ends up not being able to keep up after a half of close play. Notre Dame is really good, but if we can shut down the run and double Golden Tate we can win this one handily. It really helps that this game is in Ann Arbor. MSU is easily defeated, and I don't think they will be half as good as the media portends. Really, there are only three games that are tough as nails to win. Illinois, Penn State, OSU. I really think that Michigan will go 9-3 this year. I think that they will win one of the three tough games, and lose one of the easier 9 games. I think that Tate&Denard will both start, get nicked up, make it through the season, and win games for us. Call me crazy, but I'm sticking to it until I see the team in person on Sept. 5th. I Can't wait, and at least this game is helping me deal with the time as it passes. Go Blue!!!!!!!
You might have already seen this footage a few times before, but I find it fun to watch in this summer of relative inactivity.
I was at this game, and if you compare how Tate performed in the spring game with either of the two Qb's we trotted out there last year it's night and day. In the previous spring game there were a combination of 8 INT's, horrible completion percentage, and no down the field success. This kid hits recievers in stride, has great touch down field, and has some good wiggle moves in the open field. I also liked hearing about how RR noticed that Roy Roundtree was squinting often. He went to help him get his eyes checked, and it made all the difference. This year it seems like Roundtree could be the deep threat, Mathews is the possesion reciever, and who knows if Tay will win the slot battle.
My biggest concern for this season is still the special teams. It confuses me that we don't have a special teams coach, and if they weren't so awful at it last year I would say they have it under control. Obviously our punter is really good, but the roll out rugby style doesn't fit what Zoltan is best doing. None of our returners last year could catch a punt/kickoff. I hope they are working on that every day this summer. Odoms even dropped a punt in the spring game! Get that guy out of there! I know he returned one to the house last year, but if you fumble it half the time it's not worth it. By the end of the year last year I was screaming, "...just let it roll, and we'll take the ball where it stops.." This strategy would have won the ND game for us if you think about it.
Getting back to the topic at hand, Tate seems like a perfect fit for this offense. That side of the ball might end up being more of a passing attack this year because of his accuracy and decision making. However, our strength will be the offensive line & our senior running backs. In the beginning of the season IMO they should pound the ball and give Tate some easy reads/throws to build confidence and releive some of the pressure for him. At least his first four games are at home! Minor should have a great season, and only injuries stand in the way of 1,000 yards for him. Go Blue!!!
If you had to field the ultimate Michigan offense, who would start at every position? You can choose anyone from the entire history of UM football, but I will keep mine to players I personally witnessed. I will assume you mean the player at his best, whether that was in college or the pros.
The first choice is at QB, and this is a tough one. If I had to choose one guy to win a game for me it would be Tom Brady. I know his time at Michigan wasn't as prolific as many other Michigan QB's, but the guy's a leader. His accuracy is deadly, and his decision making is fantastic.
My all time favorite tailback is Mike Hart. This guy could take the team on his back and will us to a win. Three consecutive 200 yard games in the Big Ten is no small feat either. If I had to pick a backup for him, it would be Tyrone Wheatley. I almost chose Jaime Morris, but Ty was hard to bring down, and would provide a better change of pace with Mike at the starting spot. For fullback, why not put Anthony Thomas back there? He could block with the best of them, and get tough yards when you need 'em.
The WR spot would be crowded with talent, and there wouldn't be enough time to get everyone the ball. For the sake of this discussion, let's just have an "X" "Y" & a "Z." At the X spot, I would have to put Anthony Carter. This dude was the guy you want to convert big plays for you when you need them desperately. The slot reciever, or "Y" would be David Terrell. Although he didn't do well in the NFL, this guy had amazing hands and used his body to shield defenders away from the ball better than anybody. My Z reciever would be Braylon Edwards. Just throw it deep and let him go get it. He likes to jump out of the stadium to snag TD's.
Tight end is another one that's tough. Jerame Tuman had almost 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns. He wasn't just a pass catching guy either, and that makes him my first choice. Bennie Joppru is my second choice mostly because his stats are more impressive than Jay Riemersma. I liked Jay though, and maybe if he started at TE instead of QB he would have come out with better all time stats. Joppru gets the nod for making the top 25 all time leading recievers list (including WR's).
Now to the big uglies! Jake Long has to be the anchor at left tackle. Just his appearance scared the opponent, and giving up only one sack in college while starting almost every game is awesome. At left guard, I would put David Baas. David was a mauler for a run blocker, and a dancing bear when it came to pass-pro. At Center, Rod Payne seems like a good choice. He started 40 games at Michigan, and dominated OSU every time. Right guard would be Steve Hutchinson. This guy has made every line he played with better, and he even dominates in the NFL. At right Tackle I would play John Jansen. This guy won back to back First team All American at right tackle, and just recently found his way back to Michigan...
So who would you start, and why? Go Blue!!!