spoiler alert: i linked this
This is totally irrelevant to football and not something I'd usually post during the season, but circumstances demand it.
Who is this woman?
I don't know. You don't know. AJ Daulerio doesn't even know ("Who? Exactly."). She turns out to be Katie Lacey, anonymous middle management at ESPN. Disliked anonymous middle management. There are no doubt thousands of men and women across the country in a similar position, at Pottery Barn and Gap and McDonald's. Lacey has the misfortune to be working for a company that does sports in an era of anonymous tips to enormous sports blogs that lack anything resembling scruples. J'accuse!
What about the big shot marketing career woman who sleeps with the senior programmer at a major cable network. Why isn't her reputation ruined? Who will speak to "out" them? I want to remain anonymous, but I want someone to dig and write about this woman. Katie Lacey holds the top post at ESPN for marketing and she even has her name mentioned in an EEOC claim which ESPN is trying to keep quiet, wouldn't someone be interested in either of these things?
Why is this newsworthy? Why did this get plastered up on Deadspin, along with a picture of this woman? Because AJ Daulerio is having a hissy fit that ESPN wouldn't confirm his tips that Steve Phillips was boinking an unattractive 22-year-old:
After a call to ESPN public relations department asking about the "rumor" I was told that "I would be wrong" to print that story because it was inaccurate. Fine. I would have been. But natural follow-up question to these types of rumors, as per give-and-take protocol, is well, what's the real story then? Was there an incident with Phillips that Baseball Tonight people are concerned about? However I was summarily nothing-to-see-here-please-dispersed. …
And since the tenuous connection between rumor and fact for accuracy's sake has been a little eroded here, well, it's probably about time to just unload the inbox of all the sordid rumors we've received over the years about various ESPN employees.
"All the sordid rumors" turn out to be some radio host you've never heard of made a pass at someone and got suspended and is allegedly having sex with someone else at the company—not sex!—and that the woman above who you've never heard of has also had sex with other people at ESPN.
At least in the other cases there are the vague justifications that the people in question are public figures, and the acts in question are obviously immoral. As Mad Men teaches, sexual harassment is not fun unless you get to marry Roger Sterling. But all this woman—who is in no way a public figure—is accused of is having sex with other consenting adults. Daulerio's got some whiny point about how ESPN's policy about these sorts of things is convoluted and unevenly applied, which is a deeply fascinating thing for lawyers, ESPN employees, and no one else. His real aim is to lash out because he failed to get the Steve Phillips fatal attraction "scoop," for all the incredible social and ethical value that has. Whatever the point is, it obviously isn't anywhere close to justifying disseminating unconfirmed, bitchy emails about an anonymous middle manager's sex life. Daulerio just compromised that woman's quality of life for his own benefit. He did this because he's a child.
This is not new. Remember that Daulerio first came to prominence by getting shipped off to the Super Bowl, spying on a text message Stuart Scott was sending, and jumping to the conclusion that Scott was setting up a booty call. That's skeezy, man. Who cares if Scott is setting up a booty call? And don't you want anything approaching proof of that? It's one thing to speculate aimlessly about who's injured or what recruit is going where and entirely another to assert nasty personal things about people who aren't exactly committing felonies.
Daulerio's an embarrassment. As someone who runs a sports blog for a living his wanton flouting of common decency* makes me look like an asshole by proxy, and I don't appreciate it. Buzz Bissinger wasn't totally wrong. If he blew up again today, he'd be mostly right. Deadspin is sleaze, and little else. The overtanned dwarf with the child-molester mustache running it is a perfect representation of its true nature.
I might publish emails suggesting that Daulerio's fetishes include, amongst many, many other things, rubbing bananas all over his body and running through the primate house at the zoo, if I get any. I might not. I ain't sayin'.
*(Not even journalistic ethics, because Deadspin has never pretended to have any except when it's trying to justify posting pictures of Josh Hamilton with bar sloots, but common decency.)
[UPDATE: some commenters have questioned the deployment of the woman's name in the post, or the aid and comfort provided the enemy in the form of extra traffic. Two things: Deadspin does 10x the traffic of this blog and the drop in the bucket that is people who read this site and don't know about Deadspin isn't significant. And searching for this poor woman on Google is always going to bring up the Deadspin post; if this post also shows up that's probably a net benefit for her. FWIW, the links here are (and always were) nofollowed.]
Lloyd Carr has no interest in the athletic director job:
Former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr said Wednesday he is not interested in replacing Bill Martin as athletic director.
"I am not a candidate," Carr said.
As per usual, he had no other comment except the boilerplate bits you can find in the diaries.
Programming note: the Martin news and AD search was clearly more important than slapping up half of the Delaware State UFR, so both halves will land tomorrow.
A couple AD clarifications. The thing about Dave Brandon politicizing the AD position was not meant to suggest a staunch anything couldn't run the department—Bo, good God. The thing is: Brandon almost made a run for senate the last time around and is considering a run for governor. If he's got political aspirations he'd have to resign to pursue them, and Michigan would just be at square one again.
Molk to return. It sounds like David Molk will return to the lineup against Penn State:
"Medically, everything has been cleared for him to go to practice, so I think it is just a matter of how comfortable he feels with that and getting back in action," Rodriguez said. “He really hasn’t done much football wise. He did a little bit last week, but nothing with full pads so tomorrow will be the truer test as opposed to today."
Moosman would slide over, leaving Huyge and Dorrestein to fight it out for the last spot. Everyone else is on track to go, with Forcier declaring himself "100%" yesterday. To steal some of Tim press-tweet thunder:
Molk healthy, will start at C. Moos to RG, Dorrestein or Huyge at RT // CBrown, Tate healthy. RB starter depends on Minor's health and play selection. Minor's injury day-to-day.
Everyone's full-go, then, except Minor, and that's just life with Brandon Minor.
Down, pull, tomato tomato. So that play that Michigan got burned on a few times against Eastern Michigan and exists as the staple of the Michigan State rushing offense has been called at least two different things around here. Steve Sharik calls it "Down G" because the line blocks down and a guard pulls around. I've tended to call it "power off tackle" because it's a power run that usually goes off tackle. Chris Brown splits the difference, calls it "Power O," and breaks it down in the usual clear language that teaches you something:
The lineman to the side the run is going (playside) essentially “down” block, meaning they take the man to the inside of them. For the guards and center, that includes anyone “heads up” or covering them, but for the playside tackle, he does not want to block the defensive end or other “end man on the line of scrimmage.” These lineman use their leverage to get good angles to crush the defensive lineman, and the fact that they don’t have to block a couple of defenders on the playside frees them to get good double teams and block the backside linebackers. To use Vince Lombardi’s phrase, the idea is to get so much force going that direction that they completely seal off the backside.
There are four or five additional aspects to the play and accompanying cut ups. Every once in a long while Michigan will run this, but not often; usually they just zone to one side of the field or the other. They did bust it out a couple times against Delaware State; they use it as a short-yardage play. (As opposed to DeBord, who loved running the stretch on third and short.) They tried it on the goal line once but Vincent Smith didn't get the memo and ran directly into the space the pulling guard had vacated.
If they do run it in non I-form short yardage sets in the future, I'd expect it would be from a set featuring Robinson and Minor in the backfield.
Michigan gets exposed to this play on defense a ton, though, and the key to it is for the unblocked defensive end to prevent this from happening:
First, the fullback (or, more often nowadays, some kind of H-back or other player) is responsible for blocking the otherwise unblocked end man on the line of scrimmage (”EMLOS”). He uses a “kick out” technique, simply meaning he blocks him from the inside to out, in order to create Lombardi’s famous “seal” going the other way.
EMLOS: football jargon or the cybernetic virtual intelligence gone awry that you must defeat to save the station and turn the zombiefied crew back into humans?
Er. Anyway: the defensive end has to get inside that block. If he does this he almost always turns the pulling guard into a useless hunk of meat stuck in the backfield and then "spills" the play outside, where an unblocked linebacker should have an easy time stringing the play out and tackling for a minimal gain. At least in theory. Michigan's done this a lot this year and sometimes the linebacker has not made the easy play on the outside. Por ejemplo:
That's JB Fitzgerald there but Mouton has also done that more than once. Not recently, though, so that's good.
Not exactly making a sandwich with someone else's cheese. I guess this qualifies as trash talk, but it has a decidedly Victorian air to it:
“I think we feel like we’re the better team and we can go out there and still beat them," Royster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for a story published Tuesday.
Not one but two qualifiers there. Graham in response:
“He’s just going to have to show it,” Graham said on a teleconference. “We’re going to come. They better come hard, cause we’re coming. I just don’t think they really know. How much preparation and how much we’ve been waiting for this game since last year. If he feels pretty confident, they better prepare. That’s all I have to say.”
Good show, Mr. Graham. Your delicately phrased bon mot will be the talk of the salons this day! I daresay the viceroy's daughter may even catch wind of it and permit herself a lady-like titter. Write her a letter confessing your affections, but beware her devious half-brother's designs on the throne—and milady's heaving bosom!
Stat abuse. I mentioned the huge swing in Michigan's statistics after the Delaware State game in the game column; Ace has a fuller breakdown over at his site. My favorite line in the table is Zoltan & Co jumping from third in net punting to second on a day with no punts. More drastic than even the huge jump in offense rankings are some of the individual statistics. Denard, welcome to the realm of the statistically viable:
Denard Robinson’s season (and, therefore, career) passer efficiency rating skyrocketed from a paltry 55.39 (for context, the 100th best qualifying passer in the country, Clemson’s Kyle Parker, has a rating of 106.55) to a very acceptable 131.83 (which would qualify for 54th in the country, just above Northwestern’s Mike Kafka). David Cone’s season rating went from 0.00 to 150.72.
Meanwhile, Michigan has been outgained in four games against BCS opponents.
Understated positivity, also ROOOOONEY! You probably have no idea who Martin Tyler is unless you're British or have FIFA 200X, but even if you don't you have to understand this is good news:
SI.com has learned that Martin Tyler, the venerable British announcer who was voted the FA Premier League Commentator of the Decade, has been hired by ESPN to be the lead play-by-play voice for the network's English-language coverage of next summer's tournament in South Africa. The formal announcement is expected this week.
Guess who's not watching the 2010 World Cup in Spanish? This guy. This is going from Pam Ward and a howler monkey that spends 90 minutes screeching your embarrassing personal secrets to the world to Keith Jackson and a somewhat annoying Irish guy. The guy behind this delightful turn of events is the improbably-named Jed Drake, and he's possibly signaling a shift in ESPN policy away from "let's try to make Brian stab the cat":
"After the ['08] Euros we said, 'OK, let's take the presumption that we are going from scratch and start looking at those who can contribute at the highest level to our ongoing efforts in the world arena of football," said Jed Drake, ESPN's senior vice president and executive producer, event production.
Yes. Yes please.
Etc.: Cinci radio stations are getting uppity re: OSU. UMHoops interviews John Gasaway, the artist formerly known as Big Ten Wonk. Chuck Klosterman's new book is excerpted on Page 2; Michigan zone readin' it against Minnesota is a jump-off point for a Klosterman discursion into life, the universe, and everything. It probably says something uncomplimentary about me that I thought Klosterman's description of the play was irritatingly inaccurate in an article where Klosterman apologizes for the excessive football detail four or five times, even inviting readers to skip ahead.
- David Molk practiced in pads yesterday. He will start against Penn State on Saturday. David Moosman will move to right guard, with Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge competing for the right tackle spot.
- Tate Forcier and Carlos Brown should be fully recovered from all their injuries. Minor's injury is still nagging, but he should be healthy enough to play (as he has been despite the injury in the past couple weeks). The running back starter will depend on Minor's overall health (they'll know after tomorrow) and what play the coordinators want to start the game with. Minor's physical presence will be important against a team like Penn State.
- JT Floyd feels better, after he suffered through the flu last week. He should be able to play this week. Troy Woolfolk will remain at corner, where they like him better overall, unless there are injuries to the safeties (Jared Van Slyke and Vladimir Emilien are the primary backups at safety now). Boubacar Cissoko's suspension is still a day-to-day affair.
- The offensive line gave a good effort against Iowa, and Mark Ortmann is a leader of that group. They'll have another good challenge against Penn State.
- Renaldo Sagesse was not injured against Iowa, but he's a developing player who is getting the first serious playing time of his career, which takes some time to adjust to. Greg Banks is another solid backup on the defensive line. He's the first backup in, and has played as well as the starters at times.
- Bill Martin always said he would work at Michigan on a short-term basis, so it's surprising that he was the Athletic Director for a full 9 years. He did a lot of important things at Michigan, including improving facilities, balancing the department's budget, and making a lot of coaching hires.
- Rodriguez had some good times and some bad times with Bill Martin (no opportunities to go sailing though), and Rich will be sad to see him go. He'd like to provide a few more good moments in Martin's last 10 months on the job.
- He will be able to give some input in the search for a new director, and his priorities are in getting someone who loves Michigan, understands athletics, and knows how to address the needs of student-athletes.
- With so much responsibility on ADs today - from athletics, to finances and fundraising, to media - it's a tough job to do, and to find the right person. Mary Sue Coleman is one of the best university presidents in America, and she'll get the job done.
Some names to keep in the disused subsection of your brain you're going to overwrite with unnecessary worry about Michigan's next athletic director:
Bob De Carolis
Currently the athletic director at Oregon State. De Carolis was hired in 1998, promoted in 2002, and has a contract through 2011; prior to that he had spent the previous 19 years at Michigan as an associate athletic director. His time at M:
He started his Michigan career in 1979 as an administrative assistant. He was promoted to assistant business manager in 1980; at the same time, he was also named the head softball coach. De Carolis was Michigan's softball coach from 1980 to 1984 and his Wolverines had a third-place finish at the AIAW national championships.
De Carolis was promoted from assistant business manager to business manager in 1983; in 1987 to assistant athletic director for business; in 1990 to associate athletic director for internal operations; in 1994 to senior director for financial operations; in 1996 to senior associate athletic director and became responsible for all athletic facilities and venues at Michigan
Under his leadership as senior director for financial operations, De Carolis led negotiations with Nike for an all-school contract for athletic shoes and apparel one of the first of its kind in the country. He established a long-term relationship with Pepsi-Cola for beverage rights, to all athletic venues.
De Carolis also spearheaded a "gift brick" donor program for Michigan Stadium, developed a comprehensive capital improvement program and coordinated the development of a master plan for the renovation of Michigan Stadium.
At Oregon State, he pulled a Bill Martin:
Since arriving at OSU, De Carolis has developed and executed the financial recovery plan that helped the Department of Athletics eliminate a $12.5 million accumulated deficit and grow the overall budget by more than $25 million.
What's more, the football team went from moribund to half-decent, the softball program went to the CWS, and the baseball program won back-to-back national titles. Basketball… eh. But it's Oregon State. When Indiana was looking for a new AD, he made the three-man shortlist, which caused local sourpuss columnist John Canzano to pen a statement of strong support for OSU keeping the guy. Building The Dam has a series about their love for the guy. FWIW, De Carolis has a daughter at Michigan now.
He's a strong candidate with a successful experience at a BCS-level school with major previous ties to the school. Setting aside politics, he's an obvious A-level choice amongst folk with ties to the department.
Currently the athletic director at Arkansas. Long's path to his current job was considerably more winding than De Carolis. Before his tenure at Arkansas, he was:
- AD at Pitt
- Senior associate AD at Oklahoma
- AD at Eastern Kentucky
- Associate AD at Virginia Tech
- …hired by Bo Schembechler into the athletic department.
Long, like De Carolis, got his start at Michigan. Long oversaw Pitt's rise as a basketball power, and… well, oversaw Dave Wannstedt. He hired Wannstedt, which seemed like a decent idea at the time. He also hired Jamie Dixon, then an assistant, to replace Ben Howland. That worked out better.
Pitt's stuck in an ugly stadium situation where they share the Steeler's stadium and play in front of very few people. Not sure what, if anything, Long could have done about that.
As far as the Michigan connection, he was picked by Bo to be an assistant coach after Spurrier cut him loose at Duke and worked with him for a long, long time:
Schembechler, the legendary Michigan football coach who died Friday of heart failure at age 77, had heard good things about Long and hired him as a graduate assistant coach.
Long rose to associate athletic director at Michigan, working under Schembechler when the latter had the dual role of football coach and athletic director.
"There won't be people like him in sports again, I don't think," Long said yesterday, his eyes welling with tears. "He's a unique guy, one who can't be duplicated."
Some of the stuff he did at Michigan:
Before you knew it, the kid from Kettering was, for all intents and purposes, the director of football operations for one of the most powerful programs in the country. He organized the first on-campus "Kick-off Classic" in 1995 and was Michigan's administrative liaison at 11 bowl games and three men's basketball Final Fours.
Administrative liaison sounds like a sweet gig, eh? The rest of that article is an extensive profile of Long upon his hiring at Pitt, if you're interested in more detail.
Currently athletic director at Buffalo. Manuel hired Turner Gill, who's turned Buffalo from the worst program in the country—for a couple years, Doctor Saturday (then calling himself SMQB) had a weekly "Buffalo Line Watch" in which he wondered over the Vegas line for that week's Buffalo sacrifice—into a mediocre MAC team. And he's probably done some other stuff, none of which anyone knows about because the only thing anyone's ever talked about in regard to Buffalo athletics is Turner Gill. His bio has a list of accomplishments, many of which are Team X won Thing Y; none are about Building Z was constructed.
But it's Buffalo, so the main goal is to keep your head above water:
When Manuel arrived on campus he focused on building a model of fiscal accountability - by using a zero-based budgeting methodology - that provided each area with the resources that were needed to be successful. Since his arrival, Manuel has effectively balanced a budget that has increased by nearly four million dollars while increasing corporate sponsorships by 40 percent.
This counts as a win at Buffalo.
Manuel was a defensive lineman at Michigan in the late 80s, earning a starting job as a sophomore before suffering a career-ending neck injury, and did some other non-athletic department stuff until 1996, when Michigan hired him. He quickly leapt up the career track, getting a promotion to associate AD in 2000. His career stagnated from there—the leaps all came during the thoroughly inept Goss administration, and he leapt to Buffalo in 2005.
To forestall a thousand emails: no, I don't know if the persistent rumors that Manuel is tight with Eastern Michigan regent James Stapleton, a guy who said Brian Ellerbe's firing "should shame us all," are true, nor do I know if the assertions that Stapleton was attempting to sabotage Rich Rodriguez and Bill Martin by feeding information to the Free Press are true. I have heard all the same things you have and have no further information. If you'd like to provide further information I am all ears; I have nothing more than message board mutterings to go on at the moment.
I do think Manuel's reaction to Gill not getting the Auburn job—he said it would be "naive" to think it wasn't racist—is reminiscent of the athletic department's actions during the Goss administration. You'd have to be naive to believe that race wasn't a factor in the hiring of Ellerbe, or the hiring of Tommy Amaker after Ellerbe's richly deserved firing attracted "shame us all" vitriol. I would like to avoid race being a factor either way, thanks.
Past that: Buffalo, a MAC school that's only been in D-I since 1999, is clearly not an athletic department on the same level as Oregon State or Arkansas. Manuel's done a good job there but Michigan wouldn't hire Buffalo's football coach and probably shouldn't hire their AD. He's a rung away from being an A-level candidate even without the CONSPIRACY rumors.
Currently athletic director at Miami (Not That Miami). Michigan graduate and a walk-on defensive back in the late 70s and early 80s. Spent two years as a grad assistant at Michigan, then moved into S&C at Colorado (under McCartney) and Vanderbilt. Moved into athletic administration in 1989, became senior associate AD at Vandy in '98, and was hired at Miami in 2002.
Bates has some things to recommend him. He hired and retained hockey coach Enrico Blasi and undertook the construction of a new Goggin Arena; the two items have turned the Redhawks into a CCHA power and saw them land in the national title game last year, albeit as a four seed. Miami and Vandy are Serious Academic Schools and he's done well with APRs at Miami, so he'd be more likely to slide in to the Michigan environment. His opinions on piped-in music are unknown.
Again, Bates is a rung away from A-level candidate since he's the AD at a MAC school, not a BCS one, and hasn't made great decisions when it comes to the two revenue sports.
Former regent Dave Brandon is out there, but is a heavily active Republican who might unnecessarily politicize something that doesn't need that sort of thing. He's also the Domino's CEO and would have to give up his current job, and has considered running for the Senate. He's got other priorities. Also rumored to be anti-RR. Lloyd Carr is unlikely to have any interest. Longtime AD member Fritz Seyferth did a lot of stuff in his tenure at Michigan and is now some sort of freelance consultant. He might be a candidate, but people say he's too old; he's pushing 60.
Statement from Mary Sue Coleman on Bill Martin’s Retirement
This morning, Bill Martin sent me a letter announcing his intention to retire on September 4, 2010. For nearly a decade, Bill has shown truly outstanding leadership as Athletic Director at the University of Michigan. He has not only done a superb job of attracting top coaches for the full range of Michigan sports, but he has also assembled an excellent management team to oversee all aspects of athletics operations. At the same time, he has firmly established Athletics as a financially strong and self-supporting department while guiding the renovation and expansion of most of our major sports facilities.
Bill is a great partner, and it has been a joy to work with him. Although he has been interested in retiring for some time now, I am pleased that I was able to convince him to stay with us long enough to ensure that the renovation of our football stadium would be successful and on time. That end is now in clear sight. He has agreed to remain as Athletic Director until his successor is on board, at which point he will serve as a special advisor to me until retiring from the University in September.
I will personally oversee the search for the next Athletic Director with the help of a small advisory group. We expect this process will take a number of months. With this advance notice, we have the opportunity to make a thoughtful and deliberate choice and to manage a smooth transition.
There will probably be some fete at the UConn game to celebrate the construction of the luxury boxes. Coleman's choice for the next AD will be interesting, and undoubtedly shrouded in mystery for months. News on that when I get it; tips always appreciated.
Iowa into the top five:
|Last week's ballot|
Just a couple minor changes from the draft:
I rearranged Virginia Tech, Penn State, and Houston a bit. I didn't really like moving Houston up (what with the loss to freakin' UTEP and all), but they definitely have a couple better wins than the Hokies or Nittany Lions do at this time.
I also moved Georgia Tech up a little bit, and I'm realizing that it's time to rethink the resume chart a bit, since I still have Oklahoma as a very impressive win for Miami (Yes That Miami), much more than a 3-3 outfit deserves.
At the urgings of commenters (and against my better judgment, I think), I included Michigan as the #25 team in the poll. It's put up or shut up time for the Wolverines, as Penn State provides a chance to cement position in the polls, or drop out of them for good.
For next week, Arizona, Pitt, and Central Michigan will all be considered for the top-25, and I'll try to update the resume chart in terms of quality wins.
Editors note: bumped from the diaries for research, interesting-ness, and cool graphs. Republished to get the images the right size. Original here for those who'd like to see the comments on it.
Some days ago, I made a first attempt at visualizing some of Brian's famous Hennecharts. After some feedback (thanks all) and some links to old data (thanks Misopogon), I now try again. Here are "Hennegraphs" for Tate so far this year, Threet from '08, and Henne from '07.
And finally, Henne in the near-championship year '06:
Some explanations: I took Brian's suggestion to center at 0, pushing "good" events to the left, and "bad" events to the right. Slight adjustment: I moved "Marginal" all the way to the left (it is neither good or bad, but made slightly more sense on the left instead of centered in the middle, as we will see in below).
Recall also that bars that are not fully colored in represent screen passes (which Brian has started accounting for lately).
Also on the Hennegraph: Brian's metric of effectiveness, the Downfield Success Rating (DSR). The Tate '09 graph shows how this is calculated: DSR is the number of (Dead On + Catchable) throws divided by everything else except for Marginal and Pressure. Thus, it is the left blue part (ignoring marginal all the way on the left) divided by the blue part + right red/orange/yellow (ignoring pressure all the way on the right).
I also present the DSR percentage on the right of each bar, as well as the total number of attempts, and graphically depict the DSR number on the left in a dotted red line.
Putting all of this together made me realize the simple genius of what Brian is doing here. Instead of judging a QB by a simple number such as "percentage of passes completed" or some odd QB rating, he is simply analyzing each throw and qualitatively judging them in isolation of whether they were caught or not. Thus, DSR is an excellent replacement for "Completion Percentage" if you are just interested in measuring how well a QB is throwing the ball.
Hope you enjoy. As always, comments are welcome, and thanks to Brian (and Misopogon!) for the grading and the data; any errors, of course, in the Hennegraphs above are mine.
[Notes from me: You can see just on the charts how far the passing game has come from the "good" half of last year, and how far from a healthy Chad Henne—ie, 2006—it still is. And how awful it was for Michigan to suffer Henne's loss in '07.]
I mentioned this earlier in one of the two instances where I brought up Chris Brown's explanation of the differences between inside and outside zone runs. Here's a play featuring the tell a couple coaches suggested I look for when I was complaining about the difficulty of distinguishing between the two.
Michigan's in a shotgun with trips to the right. Two things to note here are the two deep Iowa safeties, and the shift of the Iowa linebackers outside. Angerer, the MLB, is lined up over Odoms, sort of:
Also, Greece has destroyed Latvia in World Cup qualifying.
The thing to note in the above frame is the position of Forcier relative to Minor. Forcier is a yard or so in front of his tailback. For comparison, here's a play against Indiana that would end up a standard zone stretch:
Forcier is a yard behind the tailback. This allows the RB to come across him at speed and get to the frontside creases the stretch looks to exploit.
Back in the Iowa game, the positioning of Forcier allows Minor to take a handoff already headed upfield, which was one of the adjustments that Penn State struggled with so badly last year. Also note a great oddity:
Michigan is blocking the backside defensive end! Why are they doing this? Well, if you don't block him and he crashes down and you're running a play that's anything short of a stretch play that's running away from him there's a good chance he makes a thumping tackle in the backfield. Michigan did this a lot against Iowa because Brandon Minor's RAGE is most effective when he's heading straight upfield.
Another item to note: at the moment of the handoff, Forcier is staring at the MLB over Odoms, judging whether or not he's coming up to contain.
He isn't. And one reason for that may be that this looks like play action. Odoms isn't running a bubble. The backside defensive end is getting blocked. In the past, this has always been a pass, or an attempted one. So Angerer gets a pass drop. By our next frame he'll be hanging out at the first down line, six yards back from the frame above:
You'll note that Minor is running right next to Forcier; with five guys in the box and no support for a hypothetical bounce, Minor could have made this same run. Iowa's decision to leave two deep safeties back makes it really hard for them to stop Michigan's ground game, though it did prevent Michigan from breaking anything long: their longest run in Kinnick was twelve yards.
At the end of the play Forcier has near first down yardage after having slid to the ground untouched. The Iowa defender does give him his best Cato June, though:
Here's the glorious you-tube-o-vision, in which you can see that the receivers' half-hearted routes. That indicates this was a called run play, not an improvisation, in case you're wondering if this was play action gone awry (awright?):
- Zone runs have a bit of a tell. If your depth perception and processing is quick enough and you see the QB step forward you've got a good idea that it's not a stretch. If he stays back you've got a good idea it is. This is probably not a huge deal since the QB takes up his final position moments before the snap, preventing—or at least hindering—the ability for defenses to key on it. It's a lot to process that when you're trying to time the snap and figuring out your assignments and whatnot. It is there.
- But you, the viewer, have a great view of it. TV angles are great for picking this out, though, and it's simple enough that you can try to pick it out real-time.
- RAGE. Michigan went to a lot of interior, non-stretch runs with Minor and blocked the backside DE. This helped out on a variety of plays and should hypothetically make Forcier's job on the reads easier because the guy he's reading is a lot further away and his motion has to be less subtle if he's got contain. This also brings in some elements of Paul Johnson's flexbone, too. Johnson loves to leave a guy unblocked for much of the game, then crush him unexpectedly for a big play.
- Michigan's mixing up its routes on certain keeper plays. I'm betting that if Odoms ran a bubble route on this play that was a key for one of the linebackers to shoot up for contain against Forcier and for one of the safeties to crash down on the bubble. By just running its receivers downfield, Michigan got Iowa to go into pass drops and opened up tons of space for Forcier.
- Iowa loves them some two-deep safeties. The zone read brings in the quarterback as another runner and has essentially forced its opponents to ditch the two-deep look. In the Rodriguez coaching videos kicking around the web, the implicit assumption is that opponents will usually have a single deep safety because of the threat of the keeper. Iowa defies that, and it worked for them, albeit barely. Michigan racked up almost 200 yards on the ground without its starting center and nominal starting tailback despite seeing five drives end on turnovers. Michigan had similar success against Notre Dame last year when Corwin Brown decided to keep two deep safeties. Once Michigan emerges from its freshman quarterback purgatory I wonder if Iowa will be able to get away with this sort of thing.