Opposing QB drops ball for no reason, UCF turns it into a FG. Why did I watch this?
This week's FFFF came with an added degree of difficulty, as UCF's opener against FCS squad South Carolina State was broadcast only on ESPN3, a terrible video service that might as well not have fast-forward/rewind capabilities. As you can imagine, that makes breaking down film a bit tougher. (EDIT: AAAAAARRRRGH.)
Also making it tougher: this was a terrible football game. SCSU is not good at all, but it took a while for UCF to put them away because they couldn't finish drives; kicker Matthew Wright tied the school single-game record for made field goals (4) with over ten minutes left in the second quarter.
So, yes, this FFFF is a day late and condensed into one post. Brian literally ordered me to stop taking notes once I got through the first half. This non-conference schedule sure is something.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread, spread, spread. Scott Frost's last job was as Oregon's offensive coordinator.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Mostly zone blocking; just about every run play involves a read/option of some sort.
Hurry it up or grind it out? UCF isn't quite up to Oregon speed yet, but they still move at a brisk pace. They caught SCSU unprepared on a couple quick snaps on third-and-short situations to get easy first downs.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
What did you think of the secondary and how they played?
“I was happy with the group as a whole with the way they played. I thought Delano Hill had a good game. Obviously had an interception returned for a touchdown, but he was solid in his coverage. He did a nice job. Didn’t make any mental mistakes, and I was happy with the way he played.
“Dymonte Thomas, he did a good job. He’s been a steady player for us all camp, and it was good to see it come to fruition at game time. I was happy with those two guys and then Tyree Kinnel. He came in and did a nice job. Young guy, hasn’t had much experience, but I thought he did a pretty good job coming in. And he was confident, and he helps me be confident to put him in the game when he plays the way he does. I was happy with the way they played.”
What did you have Jourdan doing on a day where he wasn’t going to play just to keep him involved? Can he pick things up from the game on the sideline?
“Well, I work more with the safeties, so I’m kind of more focused on them. I think Jourdan’s done a good job working trying to get back and he’s done a nice job with the younger guys pitching in. Him not being in there, he can give them lessons from the sideline. Having him around has been good?”
What are things that you saw during camp with Dymonte and Delano, because they’ve been essentially backups—they’ve had spot starts, but for them to take those leadership roles. Did you see a flash where they were prepared for that? It’s a different role, a different mentality, right?
“Yeah, I mean, being a starter, a lot of times you’ve got to lead by example. I thought they’ve done an excellent job coming to work every day, bringing their lunch box, and just having a workman’s mentality. Delano, all camp he was one of the leaders as far as reps in practice. And just leading by example, I think, sets the tone for the young guys. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the secondary and they’re learning from them and the example they provide on a day-to-day basis.”
Khaleke’s [Hudson] still a safety, correct?
Jim had spoken highly of Khaleke, I remember, on national signing day and since then. What have you seen out of him? How is he adjusting and keeping up with the older guys?
“Yeah, Khaleke came in as a freshman, didn’t know much. Played running back in high school, kind of an option running back, and you could see the maturity that he has for a young guy coming in. He’s really learned a lot over the last couple weeks. I’ve been happy with his progression from where he started to where he is now. Just got to keep going every day, getting better, and just learning the game, the safety position. But he’s done a nice job so far. I’ve been happy with his progression.”
[After THE JUMP: on Hudson, Metellus, tempo, and mechanics]
Have you seen this at Busch's or Kroger or Meijer or the Kroger that was Hiller's yet (map)? Also also they are the Official Hummus of your favorite sports blog. And they're paying Joe to write recipes.]
I’ll go ahead and throw this out there right now. This recipe will not win any awards in the food photography category. Some of these pics are uglier than the first pass of the 2016 Michigan football season, but in the end, the results are the same. This one is flat out FUN and will make for a memorable tailgate. We get to cook CAVEMAN STYLE, which means directly on the coals. Just like the Caveman Style Flank steaks we did in October of 2014, everything cooked here will be done over LUMP charcoal without a grate. People also refer to this as a “DIRTY STEAK” because of the charred exterior on the meat. Either way, I had a BLAST making it.
- Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus - Black Bean
- Flat Iron Steak
- Peppers - I like bell and jalapeños
- Queso Fresco
- [Hit THE JUMP; you might get a lump.]
I hope Rutgers is investing heavily in its material sciences department, because the fence around New Jersey failed once again. Paramus Catholic made a trip to Ann Arbor last Friday night to play under the lights (technically it was under the blinding setting sun, then the lights) at the Big House, taking on St. Frances Academy.
Paramus jumped out to an early lead before two quick St. Frances touchdowns turned what seemed as though it might be a Paramus blowout into a 14-13 Paladin deficit at halftime. Paramus then took control in the second half and cruised to a 38-20 win.
The stands were about as full as a 2014 home game without the ticket giveaways (not that you can blame high schools from New Jersey and Maryland for not packing the place), but there were some notable faces in the crowd. Jim Harbaugh, Don Brown and Chris Partridge were on hand, as well as Paramus Catholic alums Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary. It just so happens that two Michigan targets, linebacker Drew Singleton and defensive tackle Corey Bolds, were on the field for Paramus on Friday night. Both impressed; four-star LB Drew Singleton, a top-100 player per the 247 composite, looked every bit his ranking, while three-star DT Corey Bolds was a bit more up-and-down but still impressed on the whole.
[After THE JUMP: Singleton and Bolds scouting reports and highlights]
yes the Citronauts.
There are two things to know about UCF. One is they have a pair of twins in the secondary who are pretty good despite one of them not having a hand. The second is they used to be…
THE FLORIDA TECH CITRONAUTS!!! And they changed this! On purpose! To KNIGHTRO:
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) September 7, 2016
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-0" or "35-0 Michigan", or "28-0 Go Blue", or "42-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we push it to next week or let it go.
About Last Time:
Nobody would ever predict…
DUDE! You win a print by Ben McCready. (Yes I saw you on Twitter. I'll email you in a moment). Nobody guessed the Paramus score though. :/
This Week's Game:
Michigan vs The Ridin' Dirty Knightros.
And on the Line:
No, your SEC and Jersey friends won't get it. But that's okay because they don't get America. Where a man can drive state to state, with no papers, and play football in any of them. You can also choose it in a shade of yellow that reminds you of the sand in a moderately sized town in Texas. Because America, that's why.
Fine print: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and Moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm finds the winners as it chooses. The algorithm is going to be playing 9 yards off the line of scrimmage when it gets conservative. The algorithm is from Alabama. The algorithm! The algorithm! The algorithm!
Getting any sleep?
“The usual in-season sleep, right?”
How much is that?
“Oh…we get a good amount of sleep. Enough to be full-go the next day. Who’s starting us off today?”
What were your thoughts of Wilton in the first game?
“I was real happy with the way he played. I don’t think you could have asked for too much better. We missed three throws out of the 13 we attempted. One of them was I think a jump ball or up for grabs for Amara, which he probably underthrew just a little bit, and then one of them was-kind of got turned around on a flat route that he threw. And then the first play of the game, which he rushed and Jake really didn’t run a great route. Ball never should have been thrown at that point in time, but other than that made all the right decisions.
“Threw some beautiful balls. Hit, I think, 11 different receivers or something to that effect. Played smart, played good. You know, that a tough deal [when] your first throw is an interception and then the next time you throw you’re on the minus-seven yard line or whatever it was. Threw that slant and did a great job.”
He made a point of saying how much Jim almost laughed off the first one, said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it.’ How do coaches make the decision between hard coaching and just giving a guy confidence there?
“What I was always—kind of the school that I was from was you coach them as hard as you want on Sunday-Friday, and then on Saturday, I mean, you’ve got to be their advocate on gameday because they’re the only ones that are really going through the war on that gameday situation. To second guess and to question things on gameday, to be overly critical on gameday, I don’t know where the value is.
“Sunday we go into the film review or Monday and look through it and make all the corrections necessary. Our job at that point in time is really to support them and try to give them the best chance to succeed.”
What are the things that set him apart and how hard a decision was that?
“It’s a decision that went down to the end. The way I described it to the quarterbacks was Wilton kind of had the pole position after spring. He kind of had a little bit of an edge, and the race started and the green flag was waved and people were trying to pass people but he just kind of never got passed. He never got passed. He just continued to play better. And Coach Harbaugh always says iron sharpens iron. I think what happened was as John and Shane started playing better so did Wilton, and it was just one of those deals where nobody lost the job. Wilton just, going into the opening day, won the job.”
Grant Perry said Wilton really prepared for this job, studied film, and kind of slipped himself under Jake Rudock’s wing. How did that preparation give Wilton an edge in that competition?
“I think they all did that, to be honest. I mean, John lived with Jake all last year, so John knew exactly how Jake prepared. Shane is constantly up here. You can always see Shane watching film and studying. Wilton has a quiet way about himself. Doesn’t really go out on the forefront and tell you what he does, but he worked very hard at it.
“He’s very prepared. I think that has a lot to do with it. You obviously want to show up and be ready to execute and be ready to understand the plays that are being called and call them fast, get out of the huddle quick and let everybody know that you know the offense.”
[After THE JUMP: the mentality of and expectations for every backup QB, team speed, upgraded weapons, and Speight’s development]
SPONSOR NOTES: Homesure Lending returns to sponsor this post, and as a bonus he's sent the blog to Iowa by finding us a block of five together. This will create glorious road trip content. (Matt has stipulated that I clarify he is not to blame if the Iowa game turns out like that stupid triple overtime Penn State game; we have agreed to collectively blame the first commenter on this post.)
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, he is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS NOTES: Good news, everybody: we've purchased PFF's Michigan and opponent data for the season, which will allow us to do a bunch of things previously impractical. We've got snap counts, for one, and their grades, and some drill-down stuff I'll reference when it seems relevant to what I'm saying.
One important disclaimer: I'm not looking at this stuff until I go over the game myself, to prevent confirmation bias.
FORMATION NOTES: Normal Brian is super happy Don Brown is Michigan's defensive coordinator. UFR Brian is frickin' pissed. I'm going to split the next UFR's "Formation" column into "personnel" and "formation" because I give up trying to jam that all into a few words. Even that figures to be insufficient.
About halfway through this game I decided that:
- Michigan is a 4-2-5 defense.
- Sometimes they run a 3-2-6.
- I need a "box" column denoting persons in said box with maybe a .5 for gray area guys.
- I need to stop bothering with even-odd stuff since that's not actually important for this level of analysis.
And then momentum carried me through. You improve the most between week one and week two; I'll endeavor to do so.
Anyway. I'm going to try to call out safeties and depth, insofar as this is possible. This is nickel one-high:
And this was 4-3 over two high:
These are the same personnel packages. Hill is the gray area guy kind of over the slot and Stribling has dropped to be the nominal second safety. Everyone in this secondary has to be able to play multiple roles.
Nickel two high:
And honestly I don't know what to term this:
That is two "safeties" at like six yards. Peppers would bail into a deep zone until he read run, FWIW. Nickel two low, I called it. /shakes fist at Don Brown.
I don't even want to get into the various fronts yet.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Deep breath. The back seven was pretty static and has a clear depth chart. Without Lewis, Stribling (45 snaps) and Clark(51) went just about the whole way until garbage time. Ditto Thomas(54), Hill(54), Peppers(54), McCray(44), and Gedeon(54). Brandon Watson (28 snaps but most of those late) had scattered snaps as a nickel corner on passing downs. Usually Michigan lifted a DL when this happened. Tyree Kinnel did get five snaps before the backups came in en masse.
The backups at all these spots are also clear: Kinnel and Hudson at safety, Long and Lavert Hill at corner, Devin Bush and Wroblewski at LB, File Not Found for Peppers.
The line started out with Wormley, Glasgow, Mone, and Charlton across it. Once Mone was out Michigan played a lot of Matt Godin, and they yanked Chris Wormley early. Gary actually got 32 snaps to Wormley's 27. Winovich went the whole way after Taco exited and actually racked up more DL snaps than anyone else with 40.
About midway through the third quarter Michigan unearthed Lawrence Marshall, Michael Dwumfour, Michael Onwenu, and redshirt junior walk-on Garrett Miller. Miller actually played 21 snaps and graded out well per PFF but at 271 on the roster it is highly unlikely he's going to be a contributor going forward unless things are in the darkest timeline. I didn't grade him well, FWIW.
[After THE JUMP: Viking raiders from across the sea / they've come to plunder you and me / oh no i've been stabbed / but our defense makes me glad]
When neither option is actually an option. https://t.co/Kn7DnuAWyP
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) November 22, 2015
The spread-'n-shred was a defensive coordinator's worst nightmare. At BEST a well-run spread offense can be beaten if you can match up talent on talent. Overnight it made obsolete so many long-developed defensive tools that coordinators could use to take advantage of the defense's numeric advantage in the running game. It also took a game that was mostly played between the tackles and moved the action to the edges. Remember those unblockable wide defensive ends who could blast into OTs then come hellfire for quarterbacks? Now imagine having that guy spend most of the game shuffling, unblocked, waiting for the quarterback to do whatever the end didn't. I'm no defensive coordinator, but I'm pretty sure that bugged them. What makes Don Brown a spread's worst nightmare, is he finds ways to get that back.
A few weeks before the season James Light retweeted the above blitz from ND-Boston College last year. It went viral because of course it did. Light also found the All-22 of it:
All-22 Clip of the same play. Coach Brown had a great gameplan that night versus Notre Dame. pic.twitter.com/CBtEAdaJPa
— James Light (@JamesALight) August 23, 2016
Let's draw it up!
[After THE JUMP: it's a TRAP. No, a RUN trap! No, Kizer, don't trust it!!!!]
The question: Biggest takeaway from the Hawaii game?
Goooooo sports team!
Brian: The thing that leaps out at me is *how diverse Don Brown's defense is*. I've just about thrown my hands up on accurately describing one formation versus another. The safeties seem to line up at any depth from 15 yards to 6(!), which Jabrill Peppers did once...
...on a play where his first steps were backwards and Delano Hill's were forward. Hill is lined up at 11 yards. There were ludicrous splits, plays where both LBs sat between DL in a three-man front, plain old nickel stuff, and a wide array of gray area defenders doing all kinds of stuff. I have no idea what I'm looking at. I gather that's the idea.
Meanwhile Peppers is another monkeywrench on top of everything. I'd say that for a good third to half of his snaps he was functioning as a safety. He was a corner for another chunk, and then there was some linebackery. Michigan's nickel package is the same as its 4-3, and Peppers can do damn near anything in the back seven from play to play. I'm fascinated to see how Michigan deploys their safety trio this year, but it's 50/50 if I'll ever be able to figure anything out.
David: if he can fool you, 90% of B10 coaching has no chance, right?
Kirk Ferentz can guarantee himself nearly his full 10 year salary by winning 7 games a year each of the next five. https://t.co/taoAyyuq3y
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 6, 2016
Nevermind. They're boned.
[Hit THE JUMP for takes that will melt your cool heart with a fresh island song.]
[Tom Pennington – WAPT News]
In the end, the first weekend of college football was much like it always is – despite being branded as the [GOAT emoji] opening stanza of the season by ESPN. Teams shook off the rust-induced brain-farts; coaches rotated quarterbacks without rhyme or reason, both established (Brian Kelly) and not (Kirby Smart); Alabama destroyed some poor saps; there were a number of nail-biters, blowouts, near-upsets, and, as Michigan fans can attest, some perfunctory cupcake gorging. It was an ordinary week one, but after several months without football, it was a very welcome sight.