"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Note: no UFR today, as the torrent got down late Monday and I couldn't do the first half then. Hopefully both halves tomorrow.
You'll have to forgive the picture quality on this one—both of these are low-quality torrents. Just like Michigan's defense. AMIRITE!
So in the game column this week I complained about the alignment of the middle linebacker in this bastardized version of the 3-3-5. Michigan has him maybe a yard behind the nose tackle, like so:
This creates a major vulnerability against misdirection, as we'll see. This play is a first and ten on Penn State's first drive. They've driven it into the Michigan half of the field because of depressing things, and more depressing things will happen. This isn't one of them. Michigan shows a two-deep with six in the box, but moves Kovacs down late to add a seventh guy, which gives Michigan the formation above versus Penn State's ace 3-wide.
At the snap the offset fullback heads inside the tackle to his side. You can see the handoff is going to be made to the right side of McGloin. Linebackers start scraping as each and every DE attempts to take on two blockers:
Here's the handoff point. The fullback is hitting the backside B gap, which makes me think this is a called counter play. Where's Demens?
Demens has taken a step towards the line of scrimmage and has hit a guard. Now… he hit the backside guard, the one that PSU is cutting towards. He read the play, but he's a linebacker two yards from the LOS meeting a guard with a free release who's much bigger than him. Momentum means that the best he can do is bounce off it and attempt to flow down the line. (This is much more apparent in the video below.)
The play cuts back as designed. Roh has attacked a frontside gap. Martin and Demens are caught up in the wash on the interior, and Mouton, who was scraping along well back of everyone else, is going to eat the fullback four yards downfield:
The saving grace here is Kovacs, who sifts through the blockers and makes a mediocre ankle tackle that the RB (Royster, I think) steps through:
Demens and others finish it off but after four yards:
Michigan got away with this by putting an extra player in the box late. When Penn State was not caught in a bad playcall, counters like this gashed Michigan all night.
Here's the video:
I don't have an exact replica of this from Rodriguez's WVU days but here's an inside zone Rutgers ran in their 2007 game. Rutgers was no joke on the ground in '07. Ray Rice was around and the Scarlet Knights finished 26th nationally.
The first thing that's obvious is that the MLB is six yards off the line of scrimmage, not two. Also despite playing against a bigger set—Rutgers has a tight end on the field instead of a third wide receiver—West Virginia maintains two deep safeties:
At the snap WVU has shifted to an aggressive look with the OLBs and the spur at the LOS; the MLB has moved up a yard:
At the snap six players attack the line, giving all but one WVU DL a one-on-one matchup:
This is a similar setup, really: inside zone. Main difference is that there is an inline TE instead of a fullback on the backside, but they block the backside end above. The playside end is about to beat a Rutgers tackle to the inside. Note the MLB two yards away from the LOS now—where Demens started the play—after the handoff. He's scraping to the hole. A Rice cutback would be somewhat problematic for him but he's not likely to get a lineman in his face:
MLB has now engaged an OL at the LOS. Rutgers tackle is totally beaten and forces Rice to start cutting:
There are four WVU guys in the area:
And Rice goes down shortly after he crosses the LOS:
On the day Rutgers would get 183 rushing yards, but Mike Teel completed under 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions on a 128 yard passing day because WVU left the safeties back the whole time. West Virginia won 31-3. Their rushing defense was 18th nationally.
- It seemed like Michigan was using Jonas Mouton like WVU used their MLB in the 3-3-5. Except Mouton was four yards off the LOS, not six, and not aligned in the middle of the field. So if he's going to get to anything on the frontside he has to run hard, which means he is susceptible to cutbacks.
- I don't think Demens ever had a prayer of dealing with a cutback or counter because of his alignment. One step to the playside and he's a yard away from the LOS about to get swallowed by a guard.
- Michigan plays Demens at the same depth in their other line alignments. 3-4:
Paired with the disconnect in WVU's 3-3-5 this signals shoehorning to me. Demens should be at a certain depth in more conventional sets and putting him six yards back would confuse him in pass drops, run fills, etc, but in the 3-3-5 he takes one step and there's a lineman releasing free into him. In these sets he's got a chance to scrape without dealing with an unblocked OL all the time. So…
- Michigan's deployment of the 3-3-5 isn't really a 3-3-5. I don't know what it is, but that whole attacking from everywhere, making different fronts, blitzing, getting guys through the line unblocked thing is something you can see on a fairly typical WVU play above. There are six guys on the LOS threatening and a dedicated cleanup guy behind them with the space and time to get anywhere along the line. Michigan is a passive three man line with guys you can easily single block (but get to double if you want) and linebackers who are living a nightmare. It's incoherent, and Michigan going back to it after having a fairly solid day against Iowa basing almost exclusively from traditional fronts is a miniature version of what happened against Purdue in 2008. Michigan's 3-3-5 is a 3-4 with linebackers in places that don't make sense.
- Michigan only escapes the above play by outnumbering the offense. No one on the defense beat their counterpart. Everyone was blocked out of the play, which means you can't win unless you've got an extra guy, which means you can't play two deep without getting smashed.
- I have no idea what Greg Robinson is trying to accomplish. This puts me in the same situation as Greg Robinson.
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the F riday Night Lights series.
Visits Off, Visits On
Though Tom devoted his weekly update to the extensive visitors list from Dr. Phillips, those players are no longer planning to attend the Illinois game this weekend. It sounds like a scheduling issue - making it into Ann Arbor by noon when you play a game the night before is tough - but Michigan had better start putting some wins together if recruiting is to continue.
Speaking of those non-visitors this weekend, Michigan's top recruit FL RB Demetrius Hart - gulp - might be reconsidering his commitment. [Ed-M: I had to guess this is the link he meant. Tim?] Pls win, team.
OH QB Cardale Jones might visit Ann Arbor on December 10th ($, info in header).
Michigan's coaches were trying to get IL OL Chris Bryant into town this weekend, but he's not sure if he'll be able to work out the scheduling with his game Friday night. Illinois is also on his list of favorites, so it could be a particularly interesting game if he makes it.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi, who has been quiet regarding Michigan lately, is still trying to work on a Michigan visit.
Though Michigan still leads, Michigan State is "closing the gap" in the recruitment of MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel. He has trimmed his list to Michigan, MSU, Penn State, Iowa, and USC, and will take his official visit to Ann Arbor for the Big Chill.
...And Here's The Kicker!
According to Sam Webb on the WTKA Recruiting Roundup this morning, CA K Matt Goudis will visit this weekend. He's currently a Boise State commit, unrated by Rivals and ESPN but the #5 kicker nationally to Scout.
A tipster in Florida tells us that FL K Dan Grochowski is hearing from Michigan:
Michigan asked for film on FG from the ground (not a tee) and they provided that including a 60 yarder that was good (from a kicking camp). "Michigan is recruiting the right way", according to the brother, Michigan is not making promises or talking shit to Dan they are talking to coaches and have indicated that if the film looks good and Dan is interested an offer might be coming. One negative for Michigan is that they do not have a kicking coach. He also indicated that Dan DVR's EVERY MI game and watches the game during the week with his entire family.
A local fluff article fills in some details on Grochowski's abilities.
Since he's not coming to Michigan either way, allow me to link an article about MI K Kyle Brindza and be sad.
Rivals runs down a list of East Coast prospects, including a few of interest to Michigan. NC QB Marquise Williams:
Sources say that Virginia Tech has a slight lead over Michigan and North Carolina, with LSU trying to make a push and N.C. State hoping he takes his official in mid-November. As time passes, it seems less likely that Williams will stick with the Heels.
...and moving on to NC WR/LB Kris Frost:
If Michigan finishes strong, Frost is likely to end up in Ann Arbor. However, his other favorite is Auburn and it could end up playing for a national title... Frost will take an official to Ann Arbor in November and also take an official to Auburn.
Finally, VA LB Curtis Grant hasn't officially eliminated Michigan, and Rivals reports they're still in the mix, so it's notable that he's been selected to the Army All-American Bowl.
MI RB Thomas Rawls has been named the MVP of his league. That's unsurprising, as he's been smashing local records left and right.
Michigan and West Virginia still lead for FL Slot WR Prince Holloway, but he has added Florida and USF to his list ($, info in header). Those schools have the advantage of location over his top schools.
FL DT Tim Jernigan clarifies Florida's standing on his list to Ed Aschoff:
Thursday, Jernigan maintained that Florida is still a school outside of his favorite list, but hasn’t completely taken the Gators off his radar.
“Could things change? Of course, yes, it can change,” Jernigan told reporters following Columbia’s 25-11 loss to Jacksonville Ed White. “I still have three months and I still keep in contact with some of the coaches down there. It’s not like I blew them completely away, but I have my favorite four.”
With his high school season reaching an early end, Jernigan's decision timeframe has accelerated. Playing time will be his main consideration, which means Michigan should be ridiculously difficult to top. For the record, his coach says he "really enjoyed" his time in Ann Arbor, and the decision will come "down to the wire."
Tom spoke with recent offeree MI LB Desmond Morgan about his recruitment. The moneyshot:
TOM: Since you're a Michigan fan a lot of people think that it would make sense to commit right away, and get it over with. Is that how you feel it will play out?
DESMOND: No, before the recruiting process started my dad and I said that we were going to take our time with everything, and just let it play out. We still want to stick to that game plan, and just see how it goes. .. We want to go up to Michigan, probably after my season, and meet with the coaches, see the facilities, and everything that Michigan has to offer. I want to make sure I feel comfortable with everything, and not just make a rash decision.
Although he isn't saying Michigan leads, it certainly sounds like that's the case. Depending on how things play out over the rest of the season, there's a good chance he ends up in maize and blue. Local fluff on the offer. Desmond led his team to an upset of Grand Haven in round 1 of the state playoffs.
Josh Helmholdt updates the recruitment of FL CB Dallas Crawford and his teammate WR Sammy Watkins in the Free Press.
Both players says they will be making their college selections independent of one another, but they are close friends who have taken several trips together. If one commits before the other, that school will likely become to team to beat for the remaining half of the pair.
That quote is particularly encouraging, given that Crawford has named Michigan his leader. The pair is planning a winter trip to Ann Arbor, their third visit this year.
Michigan still leads for LA CB Daren Kitchen, he tells Sam Webb ($, info in header). The possibility for an instant commitment from Kitchen may be why the staff is confident in waiting to offer him.
Happy Trails, OH LB Sean Duggan, who committed to Boston College.
Local fluff on Austintown (OH) Fitch High School, which hosts a trio of Michigan targets in RB William Mahone, QB Demitrious Davis, and WR/DB Chris Davis. Tom also talked about Mahone in his weekly update.
Chicago Simeon is loaded with prospects this year, including a talented signal caller in 2012's Robert Gregory:
This season, Gregory has led Simeon to a 9-0 record by throwing 23 touchdown passes and rushing for 17 scores.
Among the schools showing interest in Gregory are Notre Dame, Northwestern, Iowa, Purdue, Michigan State and Arizona. For now Gregory prefers to focus on his junior football season rather than recruiting, but he did say he likes Oregon, Michigan and Ohio State.
Should Michigan land Bryant, they'll have a leg up on both Gregory and 2012 OL Jordan Diamond.
PA OL Tyler Alt was on hand to see Michigan fall at Penn State ($, info in header). Alt's dad e-mails us to inform that Tyler has been invited to the US Army Junior Combine.
IL DT Tommy Schutt holds a Michigan offer.
out of date
HAI GUYS I BET YOU LIKE GOOD NEWS. Troy Woolfolk's twitter:
Things just got worse for Michigan fans. Can't elaborate that's all I'm saying.
UMGoBlog's got a rumor that this is in reference to JT Floyd's ankle, supposedly in a nonfunctional state after practice today. Tom got an independently sourced email saying the same thing. Player on team saying bad news + two different sources with identical stories about what that bad news is == 99% true e-rumor.
So JT Floyd is probably done for the year. One of three freshman will start opposite James Rogers. I'm working my way through the Penn State game tape and am not sure how much this actually hurts but it's not good. Your available non-freshman cornerback on the roster is James Rogers. That is all.
UPDATE: Woolfolk is hurriedly backtracking, which may be CYA but may not. Downgrade your likelihood somewhat here. I probably wouldn't have posted this without that third bit but the two standing are melding with other stuff around the internets and this is still likely to be true.
UPDATE II: So the "out for year" bit seems unknown. Definitely out for Saturday, though.
[Ed: Bumped for interestingness. Here's where you're at.]
[UPDATE: The new poll was not functioning at the bottom of the page, please retake it]
Last night, I posted a poll to see what MGoBoard’s opinion is regarding the state of the program. Much has been said over these topics in the past few days, but there truly hasn’t been an accurate way to see how the board has reacted as a whole. The bickering has been not only annoying, but unhelpful in determining what people are really thinking. Unfortunately, I can’t post the results directly from the host (as I don’t want to shell out the $200 to be able to share the information other than copy and paste), but here are the results. This poll was flawed and there are more questions that can be asked after seeing this data, so a follow-up poll will be conducted at the end of the post.
Question #1 - Has Michigan's offense improved enough in the past three years?
- Yes – 82%
- No - 18%
This is pretty unsurprising, considering how the offense has come from being one of the worst in the country in 2008 to arguably being one of the best in 2010. There has been improvement from year to year, and with Michigan’s young talent at many offensive players, including Denard Robinson, this looks to continue.
Question #2 - What has been the single biggest reason Michigan's defense has struggled?
- Lack of talent – 30%
- Youth - 22%
- Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense - 18%
- Attrition – 18%
- Greg Robinson has coached poorly schematically – 12%
Admittedly, all of these reasons have probably been a contributing factor to how unsuccessful the defense has been this year. Nothing has really stood out as the main factor, but a combination of all of these has definitely crippled the defense. The two biggest factors, the lack of talent and youth, combine together with attrition to make the biggest reason for the failure of the defense to be the personnel for 70% of the respondents, while coaching was signaled out by 30% as the biggest reason.
Note: I am not questioning the effort of the players on defense; they have worked and played as hard as they can. They are great representatives for the University of Michigan in how they conduct themselves on the field. They may have struggled, but they haven’t quit.
Question #3 - Should Greg Robinson be retained as Michigan's defensive coordinator?
- No – 54%
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 37%
- Yes – 9%
Over half of MGoBoard wants Greg Robinson to be removed from the defensive coordinator position at the end of the season, and more than a third will reevaluate their position after the conclusion of the season. After the struggles on defense this season, there seems to be a consensus that someone should take the fall after the season.
Question #4 - What was Rich Rodriguez's most egregious off-the-field mistake?
- Nothing was particularly egregious – 25%
- Attrition – 22%
- The NCAA practice violations – 22%
- Poor choices on recruits who did not make admissions standards – 20%
- Other (leave in comments) - 7%
- Comments he's made in press conferences - 3%
- Not being a "Michigan Man" - 1%
Despite this being a poorly worded question (one commenter stated: “egregious may be a little strong” and I agree), the responses have been all across the board for this question as well as Question #2. I think that the top three have been mistakes on Rodriguez’s part, but I wouldn’t call anything that he’s done “egregious” per se. Some of the comments left in other that have been echoed in others:
There's not a whole lot that RR has done that many or all other coaches go through.
Remember the way he left West Virginia?
Not giving his DC enough freedom to install his own staff.
Hiring Scott Shafer
Forcing out Scott Schafer
Too much focus on offense, not enough on defense or special teams. Not enough recruiting there (or recruiting ones that can enroll), not enough coaching there. This is a team based on offense first, I see no whole team concept.
Neglecting to recruit defense enough until the late stages of the 2010 cycle. If we had gotten some of those freshman DBs in for spring practice, they would be further along than they are now.
He ruined the sanctity of Michigan Football.
the audacity of having a west virginia accent /s
Question #5 - Has Michigan shown enough improvement in Rodriguez's tenure?
- No – 70%
- Yes – 30%
Agreed, although I think this figure would change a lot when Michigan makes or fails to make a bowl game. In year three, I think the fanbase has reasonably expected the team to make a bowl game and have a winning record but it remains to be seen if that will happen or not.
Question #6 - Should Rich Rodriguez be retained after the season?
- Let's wait until after the season to decide – 41%
- Yes – 37%
- No – 21%
Very interesting, despite all the anger and frustration voiced on the board after the Penn State game, only a fifth of MGoBoard wants a different coach for 2011. Personally, I think that it’s fair to wait until after the season to assess final judgment and that will be addressed in the follow-up poll.
There is something interesting of note though: the 257 people who indicated that they would like to see Rodriguez stay around for 2011 responded that Michigan has improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (62%), Michigan will beat Illinois (61%), and that the defense’s struggles are not his fault (2% selected “Rich Rodriguez has made poor decisions trying to influence the defense” as the biggest reason).
On the other hand, however, the 147 respondents who do not want Rodriguez to be retained said that Michigan has not improved enough under Rodriguez’s tenure (only one said that they have), only 9% think that none of Rodriguez’s off the field mistakes were particularly egregious, and 47% think that his poor decisions in trying to influence the defense is the biggest reason why the defense has struggled.
Questions #7, 8, 9, and 10 – Will Michigan beat each of its final four opponents?
- Michigan will lose to Illinois – 65%
- Michigan will beat Purdue – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Wisconsin – 88%
- Michigan will lose to Ohio State – 85%
The board has been pretty clear; most of us see a 6-6 conclusion to the season, with 7-5 being possible and 5-7, 8-4, and 9-3 as being pretty improbable. This is pretty obvious; Illinois should be coming in as a favorite, Michigan should be heavily favored against Purdue, and Wisconsin and Ohio State look to be heavy favorites against Michigan.
Here’s the follow-up poll. [FIXED]
Where I'm at. The previous "when can we fire this guy" post?
(illustration via reader Brian Louwers)
I promised I wouldn't talk about Rich Rodriguez's job status until the season was over but apparently I'm going to. I blame everyone.
Too many posts in the Fire RR vein argue things no one is disputing. This one titled "The Buck Stops at Rodriguez," argues that a head coach is in charge of his program. This is not very enlightening. Neither is restating his record. We're all aware of Rich Rodriguez's record. We watched it. Saying "but this happened and I was sad" means you're answering the wrong question. You're answering the question "what will make me feel better?" Sometimes you're answering the question "who would have been the best choice for 2008?"
These are the questions I'm interested in:
- Which football coach will give Michigan the best record in 2011?
- What about 2012?
- What about 2015?
You hire a coach for the long term. I think you fire a coach for the short term, though, and the point at which you boot the last guy is when you think the next year isn't going to meet a reasonable minimum threshold of progress. I completely understand people who have hit that point. You can save your comments about how he needs to go—neither I nor anyone else cares to hear it for the one millionth time in the last three days. It's an understandable position. If Rich Rodriguez is cut loose after the season and Jim Harbaugh comes in I will not be in the streets with a bullhorn.
But I wouldn't endorse that move (at least not right now), because I think the answers to questions one and two are conditionally "Rich Rodriguez."
Upperclass Denard: How Does It Work?
Michigan has a unique talent on its hands in Denard Robinson, and they've acquired a mobile offensive line, slot receivers, and tailbacks to complement him. Some of these players can easily transition to another scheme. Stephen Hopkins can I-back with anyone. The outside receivers are just outside receivers. Taylor Lewan is going to hate donkeys in any scheme.
Others can't. The gaggle of tiny waterbug types—including Dee Hart, though he probably won't end up at M if there is a change—are going to be marginalized. I'm not sure how well the offensive line will hold up in an offense that prizes power over movement. Michigan isn't going to be able to materialize an excellent fullback and tight end depth out of nothing.
And then there's Denard. He could move to receiver or tailback, I guess, or more likely transfer, or you could bring in a spread guy, or you could try to keep Magee, or you could just ride with the guy who has already made Denard the all-time leading QB rusher in the Big Ten, will make him the all-time leading QB rusher in NCAA history, and turned Pat White into one of the best quarterbacks in college football before that. One of the "Smiths or MGoBlog" posts contains an argument I've made before:
For everyone that wants RR gone, I submit a short rebuttal.
1 Oregon 8 2488 2095 625 4583 7.3 572.9 2 Oklahoma State 8 1471 2747 615 4218 6.9 527.3 3 Nevada 8 2407 1754 584 4161 7.1 520.1 4 Michigan 8 2204 1943 563 4147 7.4 518.4 5 Boise State 7 1500 2111 473 3611 7.6 515.9
This team (could) return 22 of 24 starters next year. The #4 offense in the country will return every skill position player except Martell Webb and the offensive line should improve even with losing S. Schilling. The 2011 schedule is set up for a Big 10 Championship. Rodriguez will finally have experience and depth at his disposal on offense. No freshmen(even redshirt freshmen) save possibly Hart will see the field. Don't you want to see what could become of this offense and the stars it could attract with stability up top? If you broom RR then what? If you bring in Harbaugh, Denard is either gone or a slot back. I have no idea how much attrition you get but this offense has been molded by RR for 3 years, it will not be as good.
I think that's indisputable: you will lose offensive firepower by making a change. Over the course of his career Rodriguez has established he is standard deviations above the mean as an offensive coordinator. Criticisms about the offense exist but are limited to suggesting that this group featuring two seniors and a sophomore quarterback isn't really the fourth-best offense in the nation because they're not scoring enough. That's true—Michigan is only 19th in scoring offense—but the blame for that rests largely with a defense that doesn't force turnovers (or punts) and the nation's worst kicker situation. If you adjust for all the vagaries that make straight yardage and scoring statistics unrepresentative, pile on a strength of schedule factor, and average it all out this is not, in fact, the fourth best offense in the country:
Michigan is still ranked #2 nationally in rushing and #3 overall in Points Above Normal but the game scores are coming down.
While Michigan's performance over the last three games is not that good, it would still be top 25. If you're wantonly throwing that much data away to make that your conclusion you've just gone Nanking on math for little reward.
Whatever you lose had better be made up for by better play from special teams and defense, but if we're rebooting the defensive coaching staff what does it matter who's doing ninja stuff on the other side of the ball? Unless Anonymous New Coach, who we'll call "Jim Harbaugh" for simplicity's sake, brings in someone who can play instantly the only way that will happen is by bringing in a better defensive staff. Michigan can do that without disrupting something that looks like it's going very right on the other side of the ball.
The obvious argument against that is Scott Shafer, Jay Hopson, and Greg Robinson. That's why the conditional case for bringing RR back rests on either 1) grabbing Jeff Casteel, probably in the event of a Bill Stewart firing, or 2) clearing everyone (or almost everyone) out, bringing in a defensive coordinator with a track record of established recent success on the college level, and giving him carte blanche to bring in the people he wants to bring in. This will be expensive but I hereby volunteer a dollar from each Michigan season ticketholder to make it happen.
The Convincing Argument Against
I AM SO PUMPED ABOUT THIS SMOOTHIE I'M THINKING OF
I AM TOTALLY GOING TO KICK THIS SMOOTHIE'S ASS
WHAT IS YOUR DEAL, BANANA AND WHEATGRASS?
i hope i'm not having an aneurysm—YEAH SMOOTHIES
Recruiting, basically. Rich Rodriguez is chased around by a horrendous narrative caused by a lot of losing and a lot of other stuff. Jim Harbaugh has to deal with a DUI and some self-serving statements about Michigan's academics—these don't live up. If Michigan goes 9-3 next year under Harbaugh, people are delighted. If Rodriguez does it there remain many, many grumbles. Michigan can throw away the last three years and start over.
Even if this reduces expectations short term, the narrative is totally different and recruits might be more amenable to jumping on board. Fuzzy Dunlop, who amazingly does not have a tennis ball avatar:
Many of those saying the defense is not Rodriguez's "fault" miss the essential point. It doesn't matter whose fault it is. What matters is who has the ability to rectify the situation. And we are fast approaching the point where Rodriguez will no longer have that ability (if he ever had it).
The defense sucks. Let's say it's not Rod's fault. Fine. So how does he fix it? Get great defensive recruits? If we lose out, or eke by Purdue, what makes anyone think the good defensive recruits will be rushing to come to Michigan this year? Perception becomes reality -- our defense is perceived to be a joke, with terrible coaching -- this is not a situation talented players are going to rush into.
He gets a little more negative than I am but the point is valid. Unfortunately, at some point the baggage in your past becomes an active detriment to your future. Rodriguez is either already there or one season from it.
The Gibson Issue
Defensive backs coach Tony Gibson is a lightning rod for criticism because the secondary is a disaster zone and the internets have it that he and Rodriguez have a Clinton-Blair style "special relationship," with all the charges of cronyism that brings. Even Michael Rosenberg is making that argument after years of blithely ignoring the DerpBord era. (Q: What's the difference between a Free Press columnist and a message board poster? A: Editors.)
Unfortunately there's no statistic you can point to that definitively says he's good or bad but the vague outlines provided by the NCAA's site aren't exactly damning:
|Pass Eff Rk||28||63||30||20||45||47||8|
That's not great aside from the bizarre first year (West Virginia was terrible at run defense so teams just ran) but it's consistently above average. In six years Gibson had three players drafted, one of them (Ryan Mundy) a guy who transferred away from Michigan because he wasn't going to get playing time. That's about one per slot he was in charge of, assuming that the spur and bandit were not his responsibilities. The rest of WVU's team saw eight guys drafted across nineteen spots.
None of this is definitive but it's at least an indication that Gibson isn't the anchor certain FFFFFUUUUUUU sorts make him out to be. The debacle here could be a coaching issue, but Occam's razor suggest it's talent (and attrition). Cbuswolverine put up a diary looking at the experience of the top five and bottom five secondaries in the country with the expected results—everyone but LSU averages at least 3.5 years on campus, and LSU is at 2.75. It is possible that Tony Gibson is a huge problem, but even if he was we wouldn't know. His reputation as a great recruiter is commonly stated, but we have even less data on that.
I put in a Mathlete request for a fancy math version of the above statistics that would adjust for schedule strength and maybe parse out the sacks in the three years they're available.
The Most Insane Thing Ever Said About Me
It's days like this that I envy Brian.
What I'd Do At 7-5 Or 6-6, Probably—I Mean If We Lose By A Billion In Three Games, Probably Not, But Let's Just Say If The Season Plays Out Like It Looks It Will
I'd fire Robinson. Then I'd bring in Casteel if he's available post Stewart firing or broom most of the defensive staff and bring in someone making SEC dollars along with two other established position coaches, and then I'd give Rodriguez 2011 and hope like hell. Michigan's in a bad spot either way, but at least Ivan Maisel's with me.
Yeah, that's right: Ivan Maisel.
Other bits: for folks complaining about the O/D coaching breakdown, Touch The Banner surveys the Big Ten and finds that literally every team in the league has four defensive assistants and all but one (Purdue, which has a dedicated ST coach) has five offensive assistants, or would if they hadn't fired their head coach already. Maize And Go Blue is here:
Wojo on matters:
Rich Rodriguez didn't fire or demote his defensive coordinator Monday, and to some, that's a sad surprise. Frankly, I'm not sure it makes a big difference.
Greg Robinson has done a poor job, and his position certainly should be in jeopardy. But full accountability sits where it always sits, where it now shifts uncomfortably — on the coach.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
Performance of the Week:
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Last Week: Dr Phillips pastes Gateway 59-0.
Senior Demetrius Hart ran for 187 yards and five touchdowns in two quarters...
Hart,a Michigan oral commit, had three scoring runs of more than 40 yards. Eric Harrell, a sophomore, relieved Hart in the second half and rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The Sentinel also provides video. The video shows that Hart also had an interception viciously stolen from him by teammate Roderick Ryles. Stats below (and photo at right) from the Dr. Phillips website:
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips travels to Freedom on Friday at 7:30.
FL QB Kevin Sousa
Last week: Lake Nona is held off by Tenoroc, 20-26. Sousa's coach tells Tom that Kevin finished 19/24 passing for 389 yards and 2 TDs with a pick, while rushing 13 times for 121 yards and another score.
|Kevin Sousa 2010|
|Oak Ridge||L 0-48||6||13||46.15||34||2.62||0||1||7||31||4.43||0|
|Lake Wales||L 6-42||14||21||66.67||199||9.48||0||1||13||64||4.92||1|
This week: Lake Nona visits Winter Haven on Friday at 7:00.
OH OL Jack Miller
Last week: St. John's defeated Toledo Catholic Central 39-14 in the Hardcore Football Game of the Week. Video:
This week: 9-1 St. John's hosts Greg Brown's Fremont Ross in Round 1 of the State Playoffs. The game is Saturday (time TBD) at BGSU's Doyt Stadium.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Last week: TC West fell to Rockford 14-35 in Round 1 of the State Playoffs.
On defense, Jake Fisher led the way with 12 tackles.
WZZM has video highlights:
This week: Traverse City West's season has ended with a 6-4 final record.
OH DE Chris Rock
This week: 5-5 DeSales faces rival Bishop Watterson in Round 1 of the State Playoffs.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
Plymouth’s defense also flourished, with Fox and senior Brennen Beyer doing serious damage on Saline quarterback Trey Heren and Hornet running backs throughout the game...
Beyer had one sack and half of another, along with several crisp tackles. Beyer had one sack and half of another, along with several crisp tackles. “I just got off the ball really well and got to the quarterback,” Beyer said.
Local fluff on Beyer and his teammate, ND commit K Kyle Brindza.
This week: The 8-2 Wildcats will face cross-campus rival Canton this weekend.
TX LB Kellen Jones
Last week: St. Pius X beat Houston Christian 49-7. Jones's coach tells Tom that Kellen had 8 tackles, 1 for loss with a sack. He also blocked a punt for St. Pius X.
|Kellen Jones 2010|
|Trinity Christian||W 33-7||11||5||1||0|
|Worthing||W 20-12||DNP - ankle|
|St. Thomas||W 28-10||11||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 37-13||9||3||1||0|
|Houston Christian||W 49-7||8||1||1||1*|
* Blocked punt.
This week: St. Pius rematches St. Thomas on Friday at 7.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
Last week: Fremont Ross defeated Sandusky 21-7.
Just 2:08 later, Fremont Ross would take its first lead of the night when Greg Brown took a reverse 20 yards for the score.
This week: 9-1 Ross faces Jack Miller's St. John's Jesuit team on Saturday at Bowling Green.
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Last week: Cass Tech beat Southeastern 35-0 in Round 1 of the State Playoffs. Link has video, but no Hollowell.
Next Week: The 10-0 Technicians host Dearborn Fordson in Round 2 of the State Playoffs on Friday.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Plant had a bye week.
Next week: Plant faces Chamberlain on Friday.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and 11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards. Seaholm's coach resigned following the final game.
The diary on poor tackling got me thinking about Rich Rod's coaching philosophy. It's obvious that he recruits speed and athletes on offense at not only the skill positions but also the o-line where he likes guys who can get out and block in space. These are the guys who get all the attention and the playing time. They are "the game breakers" and the guys who can make a big play at any time. How can that not transfer over to the defensive side of the ball? So, in the spring, we heard rumors about Cam Gordon having a great camp because he probably delivered some big hit kill shots to 4th string RBs instead of learning how to play assignment football with fundamentally sound tackling.
Am I way off here? Every yard after contact I see Michigan allow, I can't help but think how much better a (I can't believe I'm saying this) Jim Herrmann/Ron English defense was at stopping the run. We can chart how few upperclassmen we have on D until we are blue in the face but you have to concede that something is fundamentally wrong with the program's defensive attitude and philosophy. I think it just may be the constant search for "big time players" rather than smart football players who can read and react quickly.
What do you think?
Well… yeah, I guess, but like everything else on the defense the lack of depth and experience makes it hard to tell whether we're just seeing what would happen if Virginia Tech threw out a secondary full of underclassmen or if there's a long-term talent development problem. Is it a recruiting issue? Don't know. Rodriguez recruits at Michigan are all freshmen or sophomores, and if none of them are very good there's a pretty obvious reason why. Very few can "read and react quickly" as underclassmen.
Something is wrong with the program's defensive philosophy. That much is obvious. To me that problem is an incoherent coaching staff that either forces the coordinator to run a scheme he doesn't understand or forces the position coaches to do the same. Why is it so important for the position coaches to know what the defense is doing instead of getting JT Floyd to exist? I don't know, but those meddling kids have put Michigan in some goofy variant of the 3-3-5 for three years running and it hasn't done anything but implode because the defensive coordinator isn't really on board.
The problem with Michigan's philosophy on D appears to be the lack of one.
While i think there are many things wrong with the Michigan football team right now, it seems like either the play calls or the reads have been restrictive in nature.
Last year, it seemed like on the read-option, there was a third option to pass to a receiver at the line of scrimmage that could catch and run for an easy 5 yds. Has this been replaced by the receiver running a skinny post?
Also, it seems a major component of any spread offense is the quick screens/pass to the slot receiver with the outside WR blocking down. The offense featured this last year but hasn't at all this year.
I believe the plays are in the offense's playbook. When Tate is in, there is a more even run/pass distribution. (ie- look at the easy 7 yds michigan could have had at the end of the Penn St game when Denard threw to Junior Hemingway and he dropped the ball)
The main point of all of this... It would seem that passing on the edge would open up the defense to make running in the middle a little bit easier.
Thanks for you coverage of Michigan. It makes my work day more enjoyable.
Opponents have been taking the bubble away by alignment. Iowa put a linebacker over him and managed to keep two-deep coverage. Penn State moved a safety down. When opponents have gone away from these schemes it hasn't taken Michigan long to hit the bubble for a nice gain, at which point they go back to taking it away. When Iowa started blitzing off the edge in the second quarter Michigan hit a couple bubbles and Iowa reverted to its previous scheme. Smart Football dubbed the bubble a "constraint play" way back in 2008, defining the concept like so:
What if your offense is based only on bubble screens and then you just run the ball or throw the ball as a counter to your bubble screen offense?
The difference is that the bubble screen is a play that really only works when the defense has made a structural choice or is out of position. Most commonly, you'll run when the bubble only when the defense has but two defenders to cover three receivers. You thus block the two defenders and the receiver has free yards. If the defense puts a third defender there they can take the play away, intercept it, or make the tackle.
Conversely, a well designed dropback pass play, a triple option play, or certain base runs will work every time you face a normal defense. The only time the play stops working is when certain defenders cheat on their assignments, either by alignment or aggressiveness.
You're right that the edge passing opens up the interior running, but it's already a reason Michigan's ground game has been so effective, and a reason that things like Kevin Koger 60 yard touchdowns happen.
The bubble option after a zone read keeper is still being run but it's not being thrown. I imagine they've de-emphasized it because when it has been thrown it's not usually getting more than a few yards and if that's your upside you might as well let Denard carry it. The equation changes radically when he's running the ball instead of Forcier.
Chip Kelly said a week or so ago he has nothing to do with his defense, he just leaves that side of the ball to his defensive coordinator. GERG has championship rings on multiple levels. Why can't RR just let him do his thing? It seems to me that if Rich Rod just worried about the offense and let GERG do the D, Michigan might be better off.
The other side of the complaint about Rodriguez not being involved enough in the defense. This is an unanswerable question. I'm not sure why there was an insurrection against Scott Shafer in 2008—well, okay, I have some idea since Michigan refused to put Brandon Harrison on the field—or why the 2009 defense spent most of its time in an eight-man front or why Michigan decided to install every front imaginable this year.
It's clear, however, that the position coaches are forcing the coordinators to adapt to them (again, this is exactly what happened in Tommy Tuberville's final year at Auburn) and the results are dismal.
Whether or not turning the defense over to Greg Robinson would help any is debatable. He has never built an effective college defense. After getting fired from the Chiefs he had a single year at Texas during which he turned in the same level of performance the DCs before and after him did. Then he went to Syracuse and could not field a minimally competent unit after his first year—the team went backwards fast and stopped in the triple digits. While he got a rep for being a good position coach last year it's obvious that the linebackers we can actually compare across '09 and '10 did not progress much over the offseason. Ezeh was the same, Mouton is a little better but still prone to the same mistakes he's made throughout his career. No one else has never seen the light of day before this year.
At this point there is no case for keeping him around. There is no reason to expect anything but failure from him; some good NFL defenses with the Broncos are now a decade old. All the reasons the defense should be bad are still valid, but the only way to salvage Rodriguez's job is to bring in a defensive coaching staff with proven recent success that cannot be undermined by whatever the deal is with the current assistants, whichever of them stay around.
In response to your recent post about the blood drive where you said: “I should put up a ticker that says 1343 DAYS SINCE OHIO STATE BEAT MICHIGAN AT BLEEDING. Ain't got no other tickers to put up” there is indeed a slightly more noteworthy streak that is still intact. Michigan’s Mens rowing team has beaten OSU’s mens rowing team 14 consecutive years at their annual dual race. According to the team’s website this streak is the longest continuous streak for Michigan over OSU in any sport ever (at least where head-to-head meetings are applicable). The matchup takes place right before the annual football game (with the first win coming in November 1996), so in my approximation this streak is at about 5,085 days or so and counting. Thought you might like that nugget of info.
Woo! Also, sincere congratulations to the rowing team.
And at least no one broke this guy's nose:
I dressed up as everyone's favorite defensive coordinator for Halloween this year!
One guy I never met before came up to me and told me how much he hated me and how badly he wanted to punch me in the face.
This weekly update will be a little sparse. Since there was a bye then an away game, there wasn't much that happened that I haven't reported already. This weekend should be a good one, however, with the Dr. Phillips clan coming to town.
As usual I will post this in a separate diary since the names will change as we get closer to the date. This is the only thing I'm going to say as far as everyone asking about a potential "secret recruit' visiting this weekend. I have confirmed he's coming, and I will let you know who it is when they give me the OK to tell you.
- Safety Roderick Ryles (6'1", 185 lbs, 3 Star): Currently committed to Arkansas, but he has said numerous times that anything can happen. If he likes this visit, I would expect Michigan to be a heavy contender.
- Linebacker Darryl Monore (6'1", 215 lbs, 3 Star): Darryl has not been offered by Michigan, but will be making the trip up this weekend. Currently committed to Washington State, he has said that basically means nothing and it's as soft a commit as you can be.
- Running Back Demetrius Hart (5'8", 190 lbs, 4 Star, Commit): You already know.
- Safety Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (6'2", 190 lbs, 5 Star): Alabama commit coming up for the second time. I was a little optimistic until I spoke with someone in Florida that I trust. They said Ha'Sean is definitely committed to Alabama, and it would be hard to get him away from that. We'll see what happens.
- Wide Receiver Chris Gallon (6'5", 205 lbs, 3 Star): Chris does not have an offer, although the coaches have told him they're reviewing his film. It seems as though Chris may be a back up plan for Michigan at wide receiver.
- Quarterback Nick Patti (5'10", 180 lbs, 2012 Recruit): Nick has consistently said that Michigan is one of his favorites.
5'11", 205 lbs.
Will Mahone was in Ann Arbor this year to watch a Michigan game already, and this week traveled to Pennsylvania to see the Penn State game. He got a two for one, as he got to check out both the Lions and Wolverines offense.
It's great to have a quarterback like Denard, we have a versatile quarterback, too, so that's good. (Michigan's) running back (Vincent) Smith looks like he's good too. They had a rough game, but they made a little comeback too.
Mahone plays in a spread offense now that uses a lot of read options, much like Michigan. The new recruiting rules have slowed down offers, but Will is still hearing from a good amount of big time schools.
Alabama, Penn State, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Michigan and Notre Dame are all still sending letters. I have an offer from Cincinnati, too.
While running back may not be a big priority for Michigan in the 2012 class, Mahone would be a good option.
With only one day to accept comments, I'll cut right to the chase:
A few notes:
- A case can definitely be made for TCU jumping Boise at this point. I erred on the side of status quo, but if they can beat Utah, they'll definitely jump the Broncos.
- I think I'm satisfied with the order of the Big Ten teams. Although Michigan State got stomped by Iowa, they have a (convincing) head-to-head against Wisconsin, who has the same over Ohio State. The Hawkeyes' out-of-conference loss dooms them to fourth place.
- At the end of the poll, I wasn't scrambling for teams to fill in, but rather had to leave a potentially-deserving team (Nevada) out. I think there's a case to be made for 3-loss USC to be bumped in their favor, no?
- Baylor definitely deserves to be ranked, but the lack of a big win (which, lol that Texas doesn't qualify) leaves them near the end of the list.
All other comments are welcome, and the resume chart lives here.