The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
I like Fitzgerald Toussaint. Think the kid has a bright future if his various limbs stay functional. Enjoy his running style. Get emails from time to time declaring "I don't know what you see in this kid." Sit and ponder these emails. Shake fist. Decide to write post about it. Fitzgerald. Toussaint.
So here's a reason I like Fitzgerald Toussaint: I think his vision and his shake are plus pitches, to borrow from another sport. Here's an example. It's first and ten on the SDSU 16 late in the fourth quarter with Michigan driving to clinch the game. On the next play Vincent Smith will jackrabbit his way into the endzone, but to set that up Michigan's going to Toussaint.
If this looks familiar, it should. This was one of the staple formations of the Rodriguez years. Here's Tate running it in the 2009 ND game:
Rodriguez would often send the TE backside to block the otherwise unblocked EMLOS as a counter to scrape exchanges. TE kicks out the guy coming down the line; WLB flies out to contain Robinson on the zone read, and viola:
[one of many examples that have been DMCAed by Thought Equity Motion.]
Michigan did this on the previous play. It was the first time they'd run it all game and it worked like a charm, opening up a huge lane for Toussaint to hit. He did so for eleven yards. When Michigan goes back to the well a second time things will be different.
SDSU's 3-3-5 was less dynamic than advertised. Instead of blitzing like mad from everywhere to mimic different fronts, it was mostly content to line up as very small 3-4s and 4-3s and run twist stunts from them. On this play they actually line up in the stack, which was rare.
On the snap the TE pulls backside as the mesh approaches.
Robinson sees the OLB headed upfield at him and hands off:
The problem is Koger is kicking out the QB contain guy:
This is very similar to problems Michigan had running this play against Illinois last year. When the scraper is hugging the backs of the OL TEs often miss him and head to the obvious guy on the outside. Once your pulling TE whacks the contain guy you've given up the advantage gained by optioning him off and are back to—horror—regular old 3.9 YPC running. When this happened against the Illini, Michigan gained a yard.
Since Huyge has released downfield there is an unblocked EMLOS tasked with the tailback on a play that usually tries to go backside. (This is a zone, but it is a zone with an idea of where it's going to end up.) Omameh is actually doing a good job on his guy since the play design nominally expects the ball to go behind him. Unfortunately, that means there's nowhere to go further playside. There is no room.
So Toussaint makes some. In the above frame you can see he's evaluated his situation and is about to take a critical step. This is what he does with it:
That's weird. It's easier to see on the video, but Toussaint takes this jab step outside and then bursts back upfield.
This little jab step… what is it? He slows for a half-beat and sticks that leg out as if he's going to veer outside, then shifts direction and heads away from the scraper. Is it just instinct, or is it a deliberate attempt to set up his block? Does Toussaint even know? This happened in a blink. This may be one of those things even the person doing it can't explain.
The result is most apparent on the guy Omameh is blocking:
In frame one the NT has already committed his momentum to the other side of Omameh's block because of the jab step; in frame two he's kindly GTFOed, giving Toussaint a lane as Schofield and Molk donkey a linebacker who blitzed into them. Toussaint set this up with the step, which convinced the NT he needed to fight to the other side of Omameh without slowing him down enough for the unblocked scraper to catch him.
Result: Toussaint runs up his OL's backs for nine yards.
Watch it twice. Watch the step, and then focus on Omameh and the guy he's blocking. See that yank that suddenly repositions the defender? That's the NT moving himself to where he thinks he needs to be.
Will this be consistent from Toussaint? This is a play SDSU RPSed that Toussaint made into nine yards almost by himself with that jab step. Is that a fair representation of his vision and his ability to make split-second decisions that get him lanes other guys don't, or was it getting lucky? I don't know, but I do know that the last couple weeks I've had occasion to use "lovely" more than once to describe a Toussaint run. Early returns are "not lucky."
Back to the well. Yeah, this wrinkle was a Rodriguez staple. It worked like you draw it up the first time. This time it worked like you don't draw it up; Smith would come in and run it a third time for a touchdown, but he'd have to weave his way through defenders to do so. I'm not sure whether running it three times in a row was a good idea—it worked but clearly SDSU adjusted to it. Against better run defenses this might end up going splat. To be fair, the third one was a second and one from the seven.
Coaching points with coach Rod. In the Illinois game Michigan adjusted to the Illinois adjustment by the end of the game, coaching that pulling TE to ID the scraper hiding behind the line and blocking him into the endzone for a touchdown. It'll be interesting to see whether Michigan makes that adjustment if necessary in future games.
Further wrinkles. So there was this, which was brought out right at the end of the game, and the speed option you've heard and read so much about, a speed option that seemed to use outside zone "basketball on grass" blocking. That's an encouraging echo of the Rodriguez ground game, when most games of import saw new features being deployed.
Title note: Since Brian moved this column to Wednesday morning, "Museday" is now "Hump Hypotheses," until that name also becomes stupid. New format, same old Miso soup.
Question: Against SD State we finally got to see Michigan play a full game against a pass-oriented offense. Against this Michigan usually sent four rushers, occasionally more. Last year I seem to remember this being three (out of a base 3-3-5) more often. I wonder if the extra rusher is making Michigan more effective against the pass this year?
Declaration of biases: Eeeeee Mattison.
Research: Thx Brian for adding rush stats to UFR since ND 2010. Yoink. Since it's not available yet I had to do my own SD State charting. From this I took out anything that looked like an end-of-half/4th quarter prevent, plus all of the runs, big play-action, waggles, and any plays from inside the 10, which make it hard to gauge if there were any late blitzers. I also excised last year's game against Purdue because that was played in a monsoon against Perry the Torn ACLephant.* Then I went about determining if each of those plays was a "Win" for the defense, defined thusly:
- 1st down: If the offense gained less than 1/2 of the yards for a first down (so 5 yards from 1st and 10) that's a "Win"
- 2nd down: less than 2/3 of the yards to first down=Win
- 3rd or 4th down: if the offense does not get the 1st down
- Turnovers are obviously Wins.
Incompletes go for zero yards—if the pass went to Tacopants, well it's results-based charting. Have at it.
*Michigan spent the whole day rushing three and this worked pretty much 90% of the time.
Hypothesis: We were right to be saying "Michigan sends 3 ARRRGGGHHH!" last year. Sending four this year is helping the defense improve.
Let's test that: In case your eyes haven't picked this up already, Mattison sends more guys after the passer. He's averaging about 4.5 rushers per pass play, versus GERG's 3.9 among those we count from last year. Here's a tendency chart:
This is not just a difference of a 4-3 defense versus a 3-3-5. Mattison has called a lot of zone blitzes where a DL backs into coverage, and the 3-3-5 is designed to often have one or two guys coming. Michigan's defense in 2011 is more aggressive than it was last year. Using the W/L formula above, let's see how much more effective it is because of that:
GERG in 2010:
Contrary to my memory, Robinson's 3-man rushes were kind of effective by this simple win/loss method. Everything else was flipping a coin.
I counted this as sending five; Gordon was covering the RB and
stepped up when he saw his man was in pass pro.
Mattison in 2011:
He's definitely sending more guys. Effectiveness seems to be..wait, down?:
AAHHHHHHH this isn't right. This can't be right. Well for one Mattison barely ever sends three. He did it once versus SDSU, and that when Michigan was up 28-7 with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. It went for 15 yards. However when I look at the wins and losses when the game is within 8 points it's still way favoring GERG:
AHHHHHHH. This is literally not what I expected. Maybe my Wins and Losses thing is just stupid. Let's do this by simple yards per play when Michigan rushes…
And there you see it. I may have found what's throwing me off here. The Pass/Fail nature of my system was not showing that when GERG's defense failed, it failed BIG. Look what happens to yards per pass when I only count the "Loss" plays:
|Rush 3||Rush 4||Rush 5||Rush 6||Rush 7|
When the 2010 pass defense failed, it didn't just give up the first down, but often a good chunk afterwards. The 2011 defense is still 50/50 to get the job done on any given passing play, but at least they're living to see the next series more often than not. That means more chances per drive for a turnover.
Last bit, just to see if this is changing running stats:
|Rush YPC||Rush YPG||Rush TDs/Game||Pass TDs/game|
|2010 (All of it)||4.4||188.9||2.6||1.6|
|2011 (4 games)||4.7||156.0||0.5||1.0|
Er. My expectation here was that Rushing YPC would be way down due to an extra rusher being around when a running play is called, but they're actually up a good bit. However the TDs given up are way way down. That combined with not once have we seen a freshman corner vacate his zone in dime, and this defense looks like it's already at mediocre and learning things that might make them good.
Holding this to 15 yards maybe should be a win.
Draw a Conclusion: Mattison hasn't even faced the best teams on his schedule yet so I can't claim anything is better or fixed. What I can say is the theory that the huge flip in turnover margin this year and/or improved defensive back play is probably having a bigger effect on Michigan's apparent defensive improvement than line scheme/aggressiveness. The data are way too close and inconclusive to draw anything for certain, and four games is not enough to assess, especially considering it's the first four games with this defense. But it is kind of interesting to see that rushing the extra guy seems to be doing a better job of keeping down the big plays than having eight men in coverage. That was really unexpected, though again it probably has a lot more to do with the efficacy of the specific defensive backs in coverage more than scheme.
Bonus: here's how they do on each down:
News bullets and other important items:
- Tailback will be committee of two (Fitz and Smith) as long as there is production from the position, i.e. >100 yards rushing.
- No comment on Marell Evans’ status.
- Going to help Denard’s passing by passing on non-passing downs.
- Ran inside zone against SDSU because SDSU wasn't expecting it (per Taylor Lewan)
“Is this a hat day or a non-hat day?”
How come you guys are perfect in the red zone? “Why do you say that!? Doggone it. It’s just like that kiss of death, okay?
“We know we’re certainly not efficient yet overall, but that part of our game’s been pretty good so far, and hopefully we can keep it going. We spend a lot of time working on it, too. It is a point of emphasis. There’s nothing more distressing than getting the ball down there and not scoring. And you’re not going to score a touchdown every time, but you’re not coming away with something. It’s an emphasis, but the kids have done a pretty good job of finishing drives once we get to that point.” But you have scored a touchdown almost every time. “Yeah. There you go again.” Do you feel a smidgeon of pride? “Oh yeah. Absolutely. They’ve done a good job down there. One thing I’ll say for this football team -- we are not perfect by any means, we are not there -- but we’ve got pretty good will. We have shown over the past four games: we overcame some bad plays in the second half of last game; we overcame tremendous adversity at the Notre Dame game; we started slow in the Eastern game; but the kids have demonstrated some will, and there’s something to that, because a lot of times teams don’t have a great will and you tend to fold. We’ve shown no signs of that. Not yet, anyway.”
Can you talk about Denard’s progress as a passer? “Well, it’s a work in progress with our offense. That’s the thing … because it’s different. Now part of that, too -- and I’m going to take the rap for that a little bit. I’ve got to get him some better throws. I’ve got to put him in position to complete some more balls so he can gain some confidence and gain some rhythm. Get in a little bit of a zone. He’s a capable passer, you know, but as a playcaller you have to consider everything we’re calling in terms of the passing game. This kid really threw the ball well in two-a-days and threw the ball well in spring. He did. All his numbers were better numbers than now. I think game situations are different. As he learns about how to do this, you’ll see progress. Because he does have a good arm, and he has an accurate arm when he’s comfortable. But part of that has to be my responsibility to get him in better situations to complete some throws.”
A year ago he was really accurate. Is there a reason why there’s such a big difference between this year and last year? “I studied the players, but I didn’t really study that end of it. Some of it was that he’s been in the offense more htan one year. That helps. You’ll see the difference in a year. Instantly. I had Cade McNown at UCLA. The first year he was tenth in the conference in passing efficiency. His second year he led the country in passing efficiency. How do you make that much of a quantum leap? Is it all of a sudden a magic wand touched you and you’re an accurate passer? No. It’s undrstanding the offense. And it’s not just his understanding, but it’s everyone else’s, too. It’s all the growing pains that go with it. With that said, we still have to do better than we’re doing. It’s not acceptable regarding the passing game.”
Do you like how he’s targeting receivers? “Not all the time, no. We made a couple of bad decisions in the game. But for the most part over the past four games, he’s been pretty much on the right guy, okay. He’s still got a couple of deals. Most of them, he’s pressed a little. There’s people around him and he’s got to make the decision quick and there’s a sense of urgency to get rid of the ball. But again, as he gets more comfortable -- and I can’t emphasize that enough, guys -- all the quarterbacks I’ve had, they are all better the second year. Well we’re in a microwave here. We’re going to get this fast. We’re just going to keep working at it and keep getting better at it. And you’ll see by the end of the season, if he stays in one piece, that he will improve his passing. Almost every kid I’ve had has."
(more after the jump)
[ED: PGB - I took the liberty of adding each of these courses to the MGoHallofFame: http://mgoblog.com/content/user-curated-mgohalloffame. ED: bump.]
FF210: Screen Package
Whatchya know, I still exist. That’s right, I’m like either Santa Clause or the red M&M in that commercial. If you haven’t been here for more than a year, or worse yet, if you have a life outside of here, then you either don’t know or don’t remember about the series above. I’m formerly [name redacted] and am now a Space Coyote (deal with it, mostly because a Space Coyote from Space is awesome), and I’m going to do a slight continuation of the previous series. Heck, let’s call it FF210: Football Packages. Rather than talk about what the title suggests (wrong website), I’ll add this little section about screen packages. Other classes could include: blitz packages, coverage packages, bunch formation packages, etc. The fun could be never ending.
(Aside: If you’re wondering why the previous series seems a bit incomplete, like “where’s the defense?” it’s because it is incomplete. If you’re wondering why I didn’t finish it…yes. Also, I’ve been a bit busy.)
Lately there has been much confusion about screen type substances around these parts and I figured I would be a bit of a guest professor for a second and teach a few things. If you are looking for how to install a screen door, this is not the place for you, so I’ll just let Menard’s do that for you.
Not all screens are created equal. And as they are not all created equal, they are also not all designed to take advantage of the same things. There is a lot in common with many screen passes, but there are also key differences. There are lots of different types of screen passes, and I’m not going to cover them all. What I will cover today is probably the more fundamental screens. The discussion below will consist of what these screens are attempting to constrain (“constrain play” has become a favorite word around here), what the keys are to the type of screen, and how to successfully run the screen. Note, as I said above, there are many, many more screens out there that I won’t cover. There are also many variations of these screens that I won’t begin to touch. This is only meant to be an introduction to these basic concepts. The types of screens included are:
1. The ones where you throw to the WR, we’ll call those WR screens
- Bubble Screen
- Tunnel/ Jailbreak Screen
2. The ones where you screen to the RB, we’ll call those RB screens
- Slow Screen
- Crack Screen
Screens not covered: middle screen, TE screen, throwback screen, transcontinental (even though it’s a crowd favorite), etc.
Screens in College Football
In college football linemen can block down field at the snap as long as the pass play is completed behind the line of scrimmage. This is not the same in the NFL, but is a big reason why screens are so successful at the college level.
Wide Receiver Screen
Just because you’re throwing a screen pass to a wide receiver doesn’t mean it is in an attempt to do the same thing. There are two main types of WR screens that I will discuss, and each have very different keys and are constraints of different things. They are the bubble screen and the tunnel/jailbreak screen.
Better image with some play action
mgoblog bubble screen picture paged
This is essentially a run play constraint. The bubble screen is intended to strength the defense horizontally. It is an easy way to reach the edge without a clumsy pitch out of the shotgun. It is typically run to get defenders out of the box. It takes advantage of defenders peaking into the back field and reacting quickly and out of control to flow. Gap sound teams with safeties in the box with responsibilities in gaps will have trouble on bubble screens because they are not stretched horizontally and are focused on the play in the backfield.
Running the bubble screen will:
Running the bubble screen will open up lanes in the middle of the field as defenders must flex from sideline to sideline. This will give gaps for RBs/QBs on Zone Reads, RB power, and QB draws. This also opens up the deep middle of the field by often forcing safeties to play off the edge of the line rather than in the box as linebackers or OLBs out of the box to respect the sideline threat more. This makes it much more difficult for defenders to play both the run and the pass. If run correctly it will leave a WR one on one on a corner in space, or better yet, with both corner taken out of the play and a score up the sideline.
When to run it:
Typically you run it when corners aren’t pressing. If corners are pressing the pass can become very dangerous. More importantly, you run it when safeties and LBs are shaded too far inside in an attempt to play both run and pass. The danger: make sure the corners respect routes enough to not quickly jump the bubble.
How to run it:
It’s not as simple as just taking a snap and winging it out there. As I have been told before, a QB throwing a bubble screen is kind of like a short stop turning a double play as far as the importance of footwork, body position, grip, and not rushing.
Most of the time in the backfield there is some sort of zone read action. This means that the play looks like a zone read it terms of what the running back is doing. The process of the QB adjusting the ball and throwing means that an actual playaction is really necessary. What is so different about the bubble screen is that it doesn’t typically require linemen to block for a “screen”. The linemen also carry out the zone read play. This causes LBs and Ss to flow down to play the zone read, leaving the WR open on the edge.
The blocking WRs come off on the snap as if they are running routes. His job is to take the nearest threat, which is mostly the man covering him. As they converge on the man covering them, they square their bodies and force and get their backs to the sideline, blocking those covering them to the inside and leaving a lane down the sideline. If the defender does manage to get outside, continue to drive him to the sideline (this isn’t O-line blocking, there is a lot of space and the ball carrier will run off the blockers butt to the hole in the defense regardless). In most cases the WR blocks the man head up on him (or the man that appears to be covering him). In some cases the WR will crack down on the defender covering the screen receiver. It all depends on how the defense plays it at the snap. The reason that the WR usually blocks the man covering him is because it causes traffic for the inside cover guy to have to get through. You can, in essence, block two guys with one blocker, leaving a seal down the sideline. Some people crack the inside guy and hope the outside cover man follows inside, but you run the risk of the outside guy reading the play and blowing it up. All these decisions must be made based on the defenses alignment.
Oregon. The first one suffices (some of the others aren't really bubble screens). Note that they double the near man to the second corner. The second corner jumps outside and the WR kind of just blocks him straight up, making this play a first down rather than TD. This can be done with 3 or 2 WRs.
[Ed: others after the jump.]
This week on Weekday Warriors, mothers fawn over Tim Tebow during Blake Bars's game, Matt Godin and DCC notch a big win over Shane Morris and Warren De La Salle, Royce Jenkins-Stone goes HAM, and I accidentally stumble upon one of the best high school names ever.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-7 victory over Pearl-Cohn, and all the mothers loved it because Tim Tebow was there. No, seriously:
“He was there talking with our athletic director (Scott O’Neal),” Big Red offensive tackle Blake Bars said. “It was pretty cool seeing him over there. All the moms loved it, apparently. The moms were all staring at him, according to my mom.”
Tebow worked out on MBA’s field last winter when he was preparing for the NFL scouting combine.
“He was doing passing drills and I only remember this because we were all looking out the window at him from the building,” Bars said. “He was working on his drops and stuff like that, doing sprints, keeping in shape and doing some running and agility drills.”
Tebow was in the area because the Broncos played at Tennessee on Sunday. As for quotes from Bars about the actual game, he's optimistic the Big Red can turn their season around:
“Coach (Marty Euverard) said that now we’re 1-0 because he feels that we’re going to win the rest of our games, and move forward from here,” said Bars, a Michigan commitment. “It was a good feeling for the win and everything. I think we’re finally getting our groove.”
This week: The Big Red (2-4) play at Father Ryan on Friday at 7.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden recorded eight tackles as Colerain limited Middletown quarterback and blue-chip 2013 recruit Jalin Marshall to just 31 yards on 20 carries en route to a 21-13 victory.
This week: The Cardinals (4-1) host Fairfield on Friday at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
Braden once again stood out on the offensive line as Rockford rushed for 344 yards in their 29-26 win over Muskegon in a battle of OK Red powers. The Rams are now 4-1 on the season.
This week: Rockford hosts East Kentwood on Friday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brush fell to Twinsburg, 48-27, but Brown stood out on both sides of the ball, and we have a first-hand report from MGoReader WojoRisin:
I took in the Twinsburg vs. Brush game tonight and thought I’d share my observations on Pharaoh Brown. It’s obvious he’s a great athlete with a lot of potential. At 6’6”, 220lbs he wears #2 and physically looks like several 6’6” college QBs that have worn #2 in recent years. He’s a very smooth athlete with a lot of speed. When I left the game after the 3rd quarter, he had around 6 tackles (1 sack) and 3 catches for around 100 yds and a TD. Most of those yards came on an 85 yd TD reception where he broke one tackle on a post pattern and outran everyone on the field. Defensively he showed excellent closing speed and some good burst on the line.
Unfortunately, like many high school studs, he relied too heavily on his speed and athleticism. He was often single blocked by a very well coached O-line and neutralized by good technique and a physically stronger OT. His pad level was consistently high, and it really hurt him at times. When double teamed he didn’t show the physicality I expected, often standing up and chasing plays rather than occupying blockers. On the goal line he made several nice plays on outside runs to his side, but struggled against physical MANBALL directly at him. There were times when he looked gassed, but he played all but 4 snaps on offense and defense so that’s to be expected.
What I took away from the game was that the things he needs to work on (technique, size) are correctable (and somewhat expected) issues. He’s got a good frame with lots of room to put on weight, and was receptive to coaching he received on the sideline. The things you can’t coach (speed, athleticism) he’s clearly got. It’s pretty easy to see a future B1G football player when you watch him play, and I’m excited to see him wear the winged helmet. Go Blue!
Brown reportedly finished with 11 tackles and a pass breakup to go along with his sack and long touchdown reception.
This week: The Arcs play at home against Mayfield on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
Funchess sat out Harrison's 43-0 shutout of Southfield-Lathrup with a torn ligament in his toe, but he's expected to be back next week.
This week: The Hawks (5-0) host Oak Park on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant was the subject of this week's Creeper Van Original feature, and finished with seven tackles, a pass breakup, one catch for 20 yards, and a two-yard rushing touchdown in Southview's 45-27 road win over Maumee. Highlights:
This week: The Cougars (4-1) welcome Perrysburg to Sylvania on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin had seven tackles and four QB hurries as Detroit Catholic Central held on against Shane Morris's Warren De La Salle squad, 14-10, to improve to 5-0. Godin's teammate Wyatt Shallman had 13 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown to help propel the Shamrocks to victory.
This week: The Shamrocks host U-D Jesuit on Sunday at 1.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma returned from an ankle injury but was still limited, carrying the ball six times for 24 yards, and Highland's offense suffered as they barely mustered 200 total yards in a 27-3 loss to Bountiful. The Rams fell to 4-2 on the season.
This week: The Rams take on Woods Cross at home on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone led the charge offensively for Cass Tech with 75 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 11 carries while also chipping in eight tackles on defense as the Technicians beat King 20-18 in a rare home night game. RJS on the win:
"I was thinking of how we were going to score on those drives," Jenkins-Stone said. "We came out, made big plays and left with the 'W' and that's all that matters."
Fox 2 highlights:
This week: The Technicians (4-1) play at Detroit Crockett on Friday at 6.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward came away with a 52-13 victory over visiting Tampa (FL) Jefferson, and Kalis led an offensive line that paved the way for over 300 rushing yards:
The Eagles have five linemen who have committed to BCS colleges. Their offensive line averages 6-3, 283, and they dominated the line of scrimmage, opening huge holes for an undersized but dynamic trio of juniors — tailbacks Dwayne Aaron (5-5, 165) and Kenny Butler (5-10, 175), and quarterback Ryan Fallon (5-11, 170).
"They were a very, very, very big and physical O-line,'' [Jefferson defensive end Tyriq] McCord said. "This was the best O-line I've faced since Plant City last year.''
This week: The Eagles play at Ursuline on Friday night at 7.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
La Costa Canyon improved to 2-2 with a 28-13 road win at Redlands on the strength of 147 second-half rushing yards, which helped the Mavericks reel off 21 unanswered points.
This week: The Mavericks host Fallbrook on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Ojemudia continued his dominant play with six tackles and two sacks in Harrison's 43-0 victory over Lathrup.
This week: The Hawks (5-0) host Oak Park on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins recorded five tackles in a losing effort as Park Hill dropped to 3-2 with a 42-0 loss to local power Jefferson City. In the Kansas City local high school roundup, you'll find that there's a school named Excelsior Springs, which may just be the LEVITICUS PAYNE of high school names. EXCELSIOR!
This week: The Trojans travels to North Kansas City on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
No stats were available for Richardson.
This week: The Technicians (4-1) play at Detroit Crockett on Friday at 6.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont won a shootout over Lebanon, 40-33, as the defense was able to come away with two critical fourth-quarter stops to preserve the victory. Ringer finished with nine tackles, including one TFL.
This week: Northmont plays at Beavercreek on Friday at 7:30.
MI LB James Ross
No stats are currently available for Ross, but Orchard Lake St. Mary's came away with a 42-21 win over visiting Columbus St. Francis de Sales to move to 4-1 on the season.
This week: The Eaglets host Brother Rice on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills edged out Lakota West 25-21 to improve to 3-2 in 2011.
This week: The Highlanders host Hamilton at 7:30 on Friday.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
Standifer had three tackles and a forced fumble as Crete-Monee beat Kankakee 35-7. Standifer's teammate, 2013 wide receiver prospect Laquon Treadwell, led the offensive charge with four catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns.
This week: The Warriors host Bloom (no, Brian, not Bloom County) on Friday at 6.
OH DE Tom Strobel
Strobel recorded a sack and forced fumble as Mentor shut out Parma, 49-0, to notch their fifth straight win to open the season:
“We got after it this week,” said senior defensive end Tom Strobel, whose night was highlighted by a sack/forced fumble in the second quarter. “Our coaches wanted a big game out of us because we haven’t been proving ourselves lately. I think we made a statement tonight.”
This week: The Cardinals plays host to Brunswick on Friday at 7.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams, playing tackle, still hasn't recorded a catch on the season, but his blocking helped Sycamore quarterback Kyle Sess rush for 133 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-25 win over Lakota East. The Aviators are now 5-0 on the year.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated at Princeton on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
Wilson had four tackles as Buchtel's defense dominated in a 32-6 win over Akron East:
“(The defense) is just perfecting all the little things, which lets us play faster and we make more plays,” Buchtel senior safety Jarrod Wilson said.
“The defense just made our minds up that we were going to play hard and make it happen, even though we kept getting put in a bad spot,” Wilson said.
This week: The Griffins host Ellet in a noon game on Saturday.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Wormley had four tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble as Whitmer crushed 2013 quarterback recruit Brogan Roback and Toledo St. John's, 35-7, to stay undefeated in 2011:
University of Michigan-bound, 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end Chris Wormley sacked Roback for losses of 7 and 5 yards.
"We were playing fast and hard, and we were hitting," Wormley said. "[Pressuring Roback] was one of the main points of our defense. We just mixed up the schemes and threw a lot of blitzes at him."
Whitmer's play-by-play man Mason Lowry of WRSCSports.com was kind enough to offer another first-hand account:
Chris looked outstanding against St. John’s. He had two sacks and forced a fumble, and even when he couldn’t get his hands on Brogan Roback enough to bring him down, he usually did enough to force him into bad decisions. He’s just so powerful, and the SJ offensive line was completely overmatched. There were some questions going in about how Whitmer would respond to finally going up against a good team after assaulting Canadian teams and a couple of other programs going thru rough patches, but I’d say that they looked pretty damn good, and Chris was a huge part of that.
Roback, meanwhile, wasn’t so lucky. He’s a pocket passer, and when forced out of the pocket under intense pressure, he’s still prone to making bad decisions and throws. Most of his success came late in the game against a sagging defense that he could pick apart. He’s a good passer when given time to throw, but he’s got to improve against quick defenses that can get to him.
On the way out of the stadium, I chatted with a longtime Toledo high school football observer. He told me that this Whitmer team “might be the best that Toledo has ever seen.” Pretty lofty praise, indeed.
Thanks to Mason for the report, and you can now hear his commentary and stream all of Whitmer's home games live at whitmer.ihigh.com.
This week: From Mason - "This week is a home game against the Eagles (or Fightin' Kovacses, if you prefer) of Oregon Clay at 7pm"—if you're looking for something to do on Friday, streaming Wormley's game in an option.
KY S Jeremy Clark
No stats are available for Clark from North Hopkins's 49-6 win over Owensboro.
This week: The Maroons (5-1) have a bye week.
MI QB Shane Morris
Morris had a tough time making a big play against Godin, Shallman, and the DCC defense, completing 14 of 26 passes for 131 yards and an interception in De La Salle's loss. The junior had a chance to win the game late, but it appears his wideout's hands failed him when looking for the go-ahead score:
On fourth and four in the red zone with under a minute to go, De La Salle had a chance to win. Quarterback Shane Morris dropped back and drifted to his left, then threw the ball to an open receiver, only to have it deflect off the fingertips of the wideout.
It also appears Morris's interception did not come without a bit of controversy, courtesy of some aggressive defending that could have drawn a flag:
The biggest play of the game came in the third quarter with De La Salle driving to add to its 10-7 lead. Morris dropped back to pass and threw an interception into the hands of David Racey. There was plenty of contact, and the play easily could have been ruled pass interference, which would have given De La Salle a first down near the red zone.
Coach Paul Verska wasn’t too happy about the no-call.
“You saw it. Would you have made that call? It blew my mind,” he said.
The loss was De La Salle's first on the year, dropping them to 4-1.
This week: The Pilots play Inkster at Lake Shore High School on Friday at 7.
OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas rushed for 46 yards and was in on 16(!) tackles as Marlington defeated Salem, 42-7, to push their record to 4-1.
This week: The Dukes play at Carrollton on Friday at 7.
MGoBlog isn't a representative slice of Michigan fandom but I thought it would be interesting to ask the assembled folk here what their opinion of the sonic landscape is at Michigan Stadium. Neutral questions follow; you're asked to approve or disapprove of each.
I've left the poll open to everyone, but it does track usernames and if there's a flood of suspicious results I'll probably dump all the anonymous entries. If you've got a username make sure you're logged in when you submit.
If you're so inclined, bug your internet-unaware friends and relatives to fill out the form, too, so we can get a broader sample. I'll compile the results next week.
To take the survey, click through.
No, sir, I have no problems with tunnel screens anymore, sir. This is Al Borges's terrifying father:
That is a 79-year old in the photo. Gordon Borges is now 84 years old and is thinking about crushing your head like a grape. All criticisms about the offense are withdrawn.
“You removed the chart Dooley, so gloves are off!”
This book is right in their wheelhouse. Bacon points out in painful detail all the obstacles that RichRod faced (and yes, a few he created) along the way. They cheered each time Bacs mentioned “The Horror” or their homebase, mgoblog. Would have liked to seen more detail on the internal politics of RR’s handling of (or lack thereof) the defensive coordinators.
This is a bit of revenge on those responsible for setting the course for the Michigan offense to head back to the Stone Ages and.. [oh, wait a second..they stopped reading this --Bri’Onte Dunn just updated his Facebook page.]
Dammit, Dooley, no he didn't.
If this was a business it would be the kind of business that is not a business for very long. Dan Wetzel ties mega conference realignment into a college football playoff, or lack thereof, and hits home on the absurdity of the bowl system in one tight paragraph:
College football defies all business logic by outsourcing its most profitable product to third-party bowl games. The Bowl Championship Series not only fails to capitalize on the enormous potential of a multi-week tournament, it sucks hundreds of millions of dollars out of college pockets in an effort to preserve the tradition of $700,000 bowl director salaries and the majesty of the TaxSlayer.com Bowl.
That is a real thing now, that bowl name. It boggles the mind that an organization so relentlessly focused on every nickel signs away millions of dollars a year in the name of traditions not even I believe in anymore. College football actually does more than lose potential profit to nerds in yellow blazers, it sets money on fire by allowing bowls to impose ticket guarantees they know will never be fulfilled. The NCAA could do something about this (they okay bowl games) but chooses not to. Why is a mystery.
I disagree with Wetzel when he says extra revenue from a playoff could have forestalled or eliminated the current wackiness. Wins are a zero-sum game, so there is no such thing as enough money. It's all about how much money you have relative to the other guys. As long as Texas is Texas this still happens.
[ed: I meant to post this last week but it slipped through the cracks. Might as well publish it as further confirmation of MANBALL is +EV.]
I like it. Until Brady Hoke gives me reason to believe he is a football coach I am going to pretend he is playing XBox and does not know it and will therefore accidentally make correct decisions other football coaches will not. I will take press conference statements as rock-hard evidence of this fact. So:
You looked a little mad when the team went over to the student section after the Eastern Game. How come? “I wanted to score a touchdown at the end instead of a field goal.”
WOOO TEMPLE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS 2015
I like it, too. To emphasize how often coaches get things like this wrong, here's Ramzy on Luke Fickell:
Braxton Miller then rushed for ten yards to get to the Colorado one-yard line. There were six seconds left on the clock and Ohio State had a timeout to spare. The Buckeyes were ahead 17-7, playing at home, dominant in the trenches and had time for one more play from one yard out with the ability to still stop the clock if the attempt was unsuccessful.
Fickell was presented with a classic step-on-their-throats opportunity and chose to kick a field goal, to a chorus of boos. The chorus was correct: One more shot at a touchdown was the right call. The rookie head coach was caught over-thinking yet again, while covering for the position he's trying to earn permanently.
This was not a situation where 'just taking the three points' should have been a delicious, dangling carrot. A fade or a sneak could be easily be run in under five seconds, still leaving time for a field goal with that timeout in Fickell's pocket (a disturbing trend that began in the waning moments of the Miami game). Even if the end zone shot failed, Ohio State still could have stopped the clock and attempted a field goal as time expired.
Five seconds is a little hairy when it comes to getting that second snap but he's probably right if it's from the one. Michigan's game-ending ND fade was run from the 16 and took six seconds. Given OSU's mauling interior line it was likely to be moot anyway.
BTW, Ramzy seems very much opposed to Fickell's retention at the end of the year. I'm torn: OSU elevating an unproven guy who's never really been a coordinator (Fickell was listed as "co-DC" for the past six years but with Jim Heacock around that seems more ceremonial than functional) and makes goofy gameday decisions is an excellent situation, but dumping Fickell after the season helps Michigan's recruiting momentum since presumably it will come with a poor record.
Hat collection. Brady has one.
On a shelf in his office at the University of Michigan, Brady Hoke keeps a display of various baseball caps.
There’s a Pittsburgh Penguins hat, a few White Sox caps, plus a couple from the Detroit Tigers.
“That’s my collection to this point,” said Hoke, Michigan’s head football coach.
He didn’t buy these hats, though. And they weren’t given to him as gifts. Instead, he took them from his players because they broke his rule.
“Those are hats from players that don’t wear Michigan hats in here,” he said.
"Brady Hoke gets it" tag… engaged.
Now kill some of them with fire. The NCAA was sued by the Aloha Bowl when the bowl game tried to sell itself to some people in Seattle only for the NCAA to block them. This happened way back in 2003 and is only getting resolved now. The NCAA won. Money quote:
“We will vigorously defend the NCAA’s efforts to act in the best interest of student-athletes and the collegiate model of sports, as we did in this case,” he added. “The jury found that saying no to the Seattle Bowl was the right thing. We look forward to moving on from this case and continuing to assist the postseason bowl system so it can operate ethically and appropriately.”
Thing the NCAA can do:
The NCAA does not run postseason football bowl games in Division I but licenses them to ensure they meet a variety of requirements to ultimately provide a meaningful experience for student-athletes and institutions. These criteria relate to attendance, conference commitments, revenue and other details.
Thing the NCAA does not do: prohibit ticket guarantees that transfer money from universities to warm-weather cities with guys in colored blazers. IE: Stop setting student fees on fire.
The arbitrariness of stickers. An old Bo lineman writes MVictors about Michigan's helmet stickers and the extremely precise way in which they were handed out:
It’s funny as an offensive lineman you were never quite sure why you got one. A good block, a good game, a good play. It was easy for the specialty folks, touchdowns, TFL, sacks, fumble recovery, interceptions, 100+ yard games, etc. They never told us specifically why we received one. You just seemed to get more of them when you won. I still have my helmet from my freshman year where I earned I think 6 or 7 of them. I only played on the kick-off return team then and I was never told what I did to receive them.
A real throwback uniform would have to include stickers, but they'd have to wait until Denard graduates unless we fit him with a comically oversized Turd Ferguson helmet.
Etc.: Just Cover on the state of MSU's offensive line, which is shamblicious. Rant about spin on Craig Roh crying story if RR still in charge implied but mercifully omitted. Michigan's last 2012 opponent is UMass, who will be in the MAC by then. Kiffin assistant paid for Seastrunk's airfare on an unofficial visit to Tennessee—wonder how that fallout hits repeat violators UT and USC.
If I had known they were handing out muppets that look like you at BWB for winning the USMAP awards I would have created a voting robot to win.
Usually hockey commitments don't merit a front-page post, but most commits don't come with the level of fanfare accompanying 2012 defenseman Jacob Trouba, who announced on Twitter last night that he had pledged to Red Berenson and the Wolverines. Trouba is a 1994 player (boy, I feel old) who already stands at 6'2", 194 pounds, according to his U.S. National Team Developmental Program profile.
The early draft rankings for 2012 point to Trouba being a star recruit on par with Jon Merrill and JMFJ. A composite top 100 list put together by a poster on the Hockey's Future forums has Trouba as the #4 overall prospect in the class—he's ranked as the #5 player by International Scouting Services and #6 by both the Red Line Report and Future Considerations. TSN has him tied for tenth among 2012 prospects based on input from various NHL scouts. Needless to say, Trouba is not only a top-level college hockey recruit, but a blue-chip NHL prospect—your proverbial five-star, except those don't really exist in hockey.
The scouting reports, as one might expect, are glowing. From The Hockey News:
“We describe him as a shark,” [USNTDP U-17 coach Danton] Cole said. “He wants to make things happen out there. He’s a great kid to coach. He likes putting the work in and wants to learn the position.”
As for the [Cam] Fowler-but-nastier comparison, it’s not hard to pick up that theme when Cole describes his charge’s on-ice persona.
“With Jacob, he brings a lot of different elements to the game,” Cole said. “He has a real good edge to him and he likes to play that physical style. But he also moves the puck well.”
While Trouba has picked up points locally in games against North American and United States League competition, he has truly excelled with the NTDP on the international stage. His 12 assists in 14 tournament games lead the team, while his 15 points rank third overall.
That article came before Trouba was moved up to the U-18 team early, an impressive feat for a player his age. Playing 31 games for the USHL squad last season, Trouba racked up a three goals and four assists to go along with 31 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating. When playing with players his age on the U-17 team, he amassed a 6-13-19 line in 37 games, and chipped in seven points in 21 games for the U-18 team. More scouting from, appropriately, The Scouting Report, which lists him sixth among 2012 prospects:
Trouba is at the head of the class for the USNTDP draft prospects. The right-handed shooting defenseman brings a physical edge to the skills that make him an elite prospect. He has very quick feet that are always moving to ensure that he has good position on the player he is defending against. Trouba has a quick stick that he uses to poke check the puck off the attacking forward and the presence to gather in the loose puck and quickly move it to an open teammate. The quickness in his hands that allow for the poke check also are evident in that Trouba has the ability to move the puck from forehand to backhand and vice versa in order to protect the puck from the opposition. From there he buys time to make the right pass to his partner or to an open forward. Trouba is also very calm and composed with the puck and passes well. He also possesses a strong shot from the point. As mentioned, Trouba blends these skills with a willingness to deliver text book body checks either along the boards or in open ice. Trouba has been compared to Cam Fowler and while he may not possess the natural offensive flair that Fowler has, he’s a more polished two-way defender at this point in his development.
The Prospects Blog doesn't shy away from bold statements when evaluating the newest Wolverine commit:
Meet the next great American defenceman, Jacob Trouba.
When watching Jacob Trouba play, its easy to understand why so many people see him as a potential franchise defenceman at the NHL level. He has the offensive upside that is rarely seen with a defenceman who plays with such an edge. On the ice he plays a game similar to Cam Fowler, just with a much more aggressive edge to his game.
For those of you wonder who the hell this Fowler guy is that Trouba keeps drawing comparisons to, he was another NTDP product who spurned a Notre Dame commitment in favor of going the OHL route before being drafted 12th overall in the 2010 NHL draft by Anaheim. He scored 40 points as a rookie defenseman last season for the Ducks. This is a good comparison, people.
The worry about Trouba—and with a prospect of this caliber, as Michigan fans well know, it's a legitimate worry—is that he'll decide to forego college and head to the OHL. That makes this article from August in Yahoo's junior hockey blog a very good sign:
Jacob Trouba wants to be known as a man of his word.
So when the highly touted defensive prospect is ready to make his decision whether to play in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers -- who hold his CHL rights -- or the NCAA, there won't be any late de-commitments or promises broken.
"That's sort of why I haven't (committed), because I don't want to make a commitment and then back down from it," said the 17-year-old on Wednesday, while in Toronto to take part in the NHL's Research and Development Camp.
Wolverine fans are rightfully skittish after the decommitments of goalies Jack Campbell and John Gibson in the last couple years, but at least Trouba is saying all the right things.
As for how Trouba will fit in to the team when (okay, if) he joins in 2012, the only departing senior after this season will be Greg Pateryn, but there's a very good chance that Jon Merrill will take his prodigious talents to the NHL as well. That would leave a defenseman corps with just one senior—Lee Moffie—and I wouldn't be surprised to see Trouba step in to the top pairing right off the bat as a freshman.
If Trouba sticks, this is a huge pickup for Red Berenson, and Michigan fans should be very excited about the possibility of even a year or two of Trouba suiting up for the Maize and Blue. For more on Trouba, check out The Blog That Yost Built's commitment post.
News bullets and other important things:
- Weekly tailback musical chairs update: Fitz and Smith. No mention of anyone else.
- Cam Gordon still not 100%.
- Barnum is questionable for Minnesota at the moment.
- Woolfolk was up and running last night.
- Two of Denard's bad throws were the result of bad routes.
- Justice Hayes didn't dress because he had a "bump."
- Hagerup has to compete to get his position back. (I have a feeling this is nominal, but we'll see.)
Press Conference (filmed)
Opening remarks: “Again, as always, thank you for coming out. This is really loud.
“Ahem. It’s good to win football games. It’s bad to lose games, so it was good to win. I thought from a perspective as a team, I thought we played as well as we have to this point for the first quarter and maybe three quarters. Then I think we struggled a little bit for one reason or another from an offensive standpoint. You can’t turn the ball over four times. That does nothing for you as a team, and I thought defensively they hung in there and they played hard. I thought our front played probably their best football to this point of the year.
“It’s got to get much better as we get into Big Ten play offensively. Three-and-outs and turnovers in the third quarter -- time of possession affects your football team in a lot of ways … momentum and all those things. So we have to do a much better job executing and being more consistent blocking at the line of scrimmage. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
“In the kicking game, I thought Matt Wile did a nice job punting the football, and I thought his kickoffs -- he really placed the ball well. He had one kickoff that was in the middle of the field, but everything else I thought he did a tremendous job. And that was a good sign of a guy that’s maturing as a freshman.”
Is Will Hagerup’s suspension over, and does he have to compete to get his position back? “They’ll compete. We’re going to compete in everything we do. I think that’s an important part of your development as a program. I think that’s how you improve as a program. They’ll compete during the week.”
Cam Gordon dressed but did not play -- at this point is it his conditioning or is the injury still affecting him? “I think he’s just not 100% yet. I think he’s just not where he needs to be yet.”
13 for 13 in the Red Zone. What makes you so successful there? “I don’t know if there’s a magical answer. I mean, I think part of it is always you have some pretty good luck. Things are going well. I think we’re blocking it decently. I think the different options that Al presents to some degree within the offense makes [us] a little bit tougher to defend.”
Denard’s incompletions. You said it wasn’t all Denard. When you look at the film did you see problems with other things, too? “It’s definitely not all him. I mean, route running -- we blew two routes. We didn’t convert on another route. That’s part of it. He’s got a lot of pride, and he’s going to also help himself with some of the technical and technique -- fundamental parts of being a little more patient with his feet and doing a good job with that.”
What led to strong start against SDSU, and how do you replicate that? “It’d be great to replicate it every week. I think we had a great week of practice. I think our preparation was good. From a defensive standpoint, they really did a nice job of preparation. I thought Greg did a nice job with the plan, and Al did too.”
(more after the jump)
This week on the podcast:
I fixed the iTunes feed.
I eeee like a little girl about fourth and two. Naturally.
Offensive bitching is considerably more restricted. We get a little bit in but focus more on things we liked.
Jake Ryan is polarizing. At least in the short term.
Turnovers are debated. Luck or skill? Actually it was more like lots of luck and some skill or equal parts luck and skill.
Ace kills segments like a rock star. They dead, yo.
Jamiemac appears. We discuss the Big Ten slate, which is mercifully devoid of MAC snackycakes. Just Cover is his blog, which you should go to.
Musical interludes this week include a double shot of Stars's "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead," which is lovingly dedicated to Kyle Turley, and R.E.M.'s "Fall On Me" for no reason other than R.E.M. ceasing to exist.
The usual links:
- Helpful iTunes subscribe link
- General podcast feed link
- Direct download link
- What's with the theme music?
Next week: more!