the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
|3 days 3 hours ago||"There's one where he decides||
"There's one where he decides to split the safeties and the safeties find out their angles have been calibrated so badly that neither gets within five yards of the kid."
So, he's this guy.
And by "this guy" I mean the video game version.
|3 days 4 hours ago||Guess what||
IT WILL NEVER WASH OFF
|5 days 3 hours ago||Trollrate?||
OK, so apparently I'm the only guy on MGoBlog who's a fan of Jordan Kovacs. Or with a sense of humor.
|5 days 3 hours ago||The problem with Gallon is||
The problem with Gallon is that he's Pint-sized.
|5 days 7 hours ago||Maybe not Michigan. . .||
I didn't see a preferred walk-on offer from Toledo, and obviously this guy wasn't good enough for Hillsdale.
Total red flags, yo.
|6 days 5 hours ago||Weight isn't the issue. His||
Weight isn't the issue. His shadow is purely a two-dimensional player and I don't see that ever changing.
|1 week 6 hours ago||Fair enough||
You're obviously a better person than me, because I don't feel bad at all. I'm gonna confess some immaturity here, but I'm hungry. If that makes me spoiled, then guilty as charged. Beating them last year felt more overdue than satisfactory and they're still making excuses.
When they got their first couple of wins against Michigan as it was rebuilding from Carr's sunset years I was like, "Well, it wouldn't be a rivalry if they didn't get a few now and then." But as they gained confidence the MSU fandom hit a fever pitch of insufferable douchebaggery that triggered several seismographs in Tunisia.
I don't want to just beat these guys in recruiting. This is a fanbase that is thoroughly due for some badly deserved humiliation. I want them pounded into submission. I want four consecutive years of 20-point victories where their offense is kept below 10 points and I think Hoke's crew is up to the task. It's nothing against the players; I want their coach and fans to take such a series of beatings that they collectively curl into fetal position in a corner. And yes, I want the boys they recruited to show them why they chose Michigan instead.
Ditto with OSU. It seems they've learned nothing from Tressel's ouster and have yet to get that smirk wiped off their faces. They'll be tougher to bring down but I really want to see it happen.
|1 week 4 days ago||"I tried crossing the||
"I tried crossing the blocking power of Jake Long with the nasty hitting of Daydrion Taylor, and the looniness of Les Miles just to see what would happen."
Um. . . David Molk is a real person.
|1 week 4 days ago||Uh. . .||
You pancaked your daughter when she was 3? Should I be calling CPS or something?
|1 week 4 days ago||Simple feint to the left,||
Simple feint to the left, then juke to the right, with all the grace of a freshman high school running back. The execution here was mental, not physical. Urlacher probably figured Brady would surrender to the mismatch and slide to avoid contact. It's a perfectly logical assumption, and that's what Brady exploited. After all, if Brady tried that on every QB scramble he'd be forced into retirement ten years ago. The moral of the story is, some people are deadly at poker precisely because they'll bluff once a decade, when you least expect it, after you've unwittingly bet the farm.
Not that it'd happen anyway, but seeing this, I won't ever play poker with Tom Brady.
|1 week 4 days ago||His three-cone drill was the||
His three-cone drill was the fastest. Which doesn't surprise me, because of the shifty adjustments he makes at speed when he's got a human missile lock on a tailback.
His 40 time was middling. . . among safeties in this year's draft (something like 9th out of 21). That's decent, but throw ALL NFL safeties into the mix and he's got a lot of people ahead of him. Bear in mind he can't just beat out his fellow rookies; he's now competing with NFL veterans for a roster spot. Mediocre speed is not a show-stopper for a strong safety, though. If all else fails, instead of having him bracket deep routes high, you can instruct the corner to play the wideout soft and bring Kovacs underneath. SC's answer was to go four-vert, but that's risky against NFL CBs.
|1 week 4 days ago||That he wasn't drafted||
That he wasn't drafted doesn't mean Kovacs isn't liked. Almost every team in the NFL called him after the draft ended.
Signing Kovacs is a conservative decision, and the draft is NOT for conservative decisions. It's for high-ceiling prospects. In many ways, a 6th-round pick has just as much upside as a 1st-round pick; the main difference is risk -- the first-rounder is more likely to pan out. I don't necessarily agree with it, but here's the logic as far as I can tell: When you draft a freak athlete with a ton of question marks (doesn't know the game, needs to work on technique, etc.) and he does pan out, you've signed a Pro Bowl player for the price of a rookie. That makes good business sense. With a guy like Kovacs who projects to "productive", he's not going to break the bank even if he signs as a free agent, so why burn a draft pick on him? Consider that Will Campbell was drafted. In all fairness to Big Will, I think most people would agree that Kovacs is more likely to make an NFL owner happy. But Will's the bet with the bigger payout; hence he gets drafted. The matter of likelihood is off the table -- the only thing that matters as far as whether or not a player gets drafted is his ceiling. The draft is a speculator's game, is my point, and with Kovacs there isn't much to speculate.
It's kind of insulting that he wasn't drafted, but that's really just a public perception due to the media placing waaaay too much importance on draft order. There are enough NFL veterans who weren't drafted to almost fill a decent roster.
|1 week 5 days ago||Reading the article. . .||
I agree 100%, but the article painting him as some sort of Little Engine That Could kind of aggravated me. Yeah his heart and dedication are off the charts, but that's not what sets him apart in my mind. Those are admirable traits, but not too hard to find at the highest levels.
It's his intelligent work ethic that makes him special. He doesn't just work his tail off; he's the NFL's Greg Maddux. He doesn't just Rocky Montage his way to success. He lacks physical speed, but makes up for it by mastering the game like some white-beareded martial artist in a Hong Kong action movie.
I try to stress this among kids who have dreams. It's OK to dream, and you HAVE to work hard to get there, but also LEARN -- don't just throw your body against a brick wall until it breaks, because odds are you will first. The ones who succeed spend those countless hours finding a way around the wall. In Kovacs' case, he didn't just SPARTAAAA the ball carrier every time. He did it, countless times at that, with flawless technique. Standing high? I'll fly high and topple you like a tree. Near the sideline? I'm gonna throw my shoulder into your chest and knock you out. Fighting for every inch? I'm going to fly at you and p=mv your ass. Making a cut? I'm sweeping your pivot foot. Going in low? I'm going to barrel in, helmet to ball, and if you somehow hang onto the ball and stay upright I'm gonna cling like a pitbull until the cavalry arrives.
There are a number of NFL players who lack Kovacs' consistency. Even if he doesn't make the rotation, he'll get some rookies thinking twice when he shows them how the game's played.
|1 week 5 days ago||Here's the thing||
I honestly wonder if he can't make a career out of being a situational defender. He's not fast enough to be an every-down safety in the NFL, but he's a VERY solid tackler and an excellent last line of defense. I really wonder why some Miami fans are talking about him going on special teams. That's the worst way to use him! He's not great at blocking or getting off blocks and can't fly upfield. He's a sure tackler but he'll be the last person to get to the ball when it's a pure foot race.
Where he's worth his weight in gold is situational packages and red zone defense. There isn't enough room for the wideouts to use their speed against him and defenses have to respect the run anyway. A talented DC can move him around where Kovacs can use his brains to pick apart the play and keep the ball out of the end zone on his half of the field. He's worth keeping on any roster if he can force offenses into settling for field goals.
Keep in mind if the safety can't finish him off, there often isn't much between the ball carrier and end zone except nitrogen. Safeties with speed and nothing else come and go because the NFL needs last-line defenders that can tackle. They'll draft the speedsters in the hopes that they'll grow into reliable defenders, but the guys who can actually defend are the ones who stay on the roster.
|1 week 5 days ago||I kinda thought Jordan Kovacs||
I kinda thought Jordan Kovacs was already on the case. He's still working on the story.
|3 weeks 2 days ago||Who said it was OK to say in||
Who said it was OK to say in my late twenties? Did you miss the "and I was very late to mature" part of the post, or does everyone around here always try to read posts the most antagonistic possible way?
Yeesh, I openly admit I was a goddamn man-child through my late twenties compared to this kid who's really just being a kid and someone here still gets upset. I think I'm going to stick to "Michigan rocks yay" posts from now on; that seems to keep everyone happy.
|3 weeks 3 days ago||"Just show me, you know?"||
"Just show me, you know?" Edwards said. "Just show me that you're interested. Just show me like you've been showing me."
Ugh. . . sounds like something I said to someone in my twenties, and I was very late to mature. No, Michigan does not exist to put a silver spoon in your mouth; the entire culture to its very roots its that it's bigger than any one person.
It's a bit of a surprise to see this, because I'm used to seeing Michigan recruit athletes who speak as well as I did in my early thirties. Which says a lot about how spoiled I am as a Michigan fan -- this is pretty much how most high schoolers talk -- but there it is. As far as recruit maturity goes, this is an outlier.
|3 weeks 4 days ago||Word||
Did you watch the highlights? The wideout playing opposite Bunting is also a giant. Did Hoke experiment on genetics at this school?
|3 weeks 4 days ago||I think the defense will be||
I think the defense will be fine, but we HAVE to get over last year; it won't be fair to this year's unit. Gordon-Kovacs was the best safety tandem I'd seen at Michigan in at least a decade.
We were flat-out spoiled at safety last year. I know secondaries are judged as a unit and we were paper-thin at corner, but it says a lot that opposing offenses picked on J.T. Floyd. He was hardly bad; QBs just didn't have many other options (not to mention the B1G didn't have many elite receivers). I don't even recall that many attempts to go deep against our D (until SC's four-verts anyway) because in most cases slinging it was basically a wasted down.
I just hope that the first time the inexperience at safety forgives a long TD, MGoBlog doesn't lose it. Again, we'll be fine, but offenses will be looking to test our new FS.
|4 weeks 4 days ago||So long, Mealer's Beard||
Another Michigan legend becomes a matter of written word, to fade from memory. . .
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. . . oh no wait, we actually used camera & storage technology for posterity, unlike that twit in Blade Runner.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||I get that, but I'd call it a||
I get that, but I'd call it a good reason for being fair & honest. :D
I don't know what people say about me when I'm not around, but if it's critical I'd like to hear it, as long as the criticism isn't politically motivated (preening for a promotion, etc.). I've never seen anyone improve when surrounded by sycophants.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||Why?||
I hope I'm not misreading your post, but did you get a vicarious feeling of awkwardness or something?
One of the main reasons why I frequent MGoBlog is that the analysis is genuine. It's not "oh Chesson sucks" or "he needs to go back and cry to his mama" like some morning sports radio talkshow. Brian makes a legit point that as far as we all know Wellman has made Chesson well aware of, if not our cornerbacks. If he's also made aware that his biggest (current) weakness isn't escaping public scrutiny and Hoke recruits guys with skins as thick as I think they are. . . what's the problem? A lot of it was backhanded compliment and probably a lot milder than what he hears in practice.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||"Less than ideal" is||
"Less than ideal" is definitely a way to put it. I'm not TOO concerned, partially because they're up against a Greg Mattison defense and partially because O-line takes time to develop, but the lack of an elite RB was sort of a given (unless Derrick Green takes the position by storm). They'll struggle against the tougher defenses but one thing going for this team is that it has more weapons all around. A lot of it's raw but Darboh, Funchess and Gallon are all legitimate threats -- and don't forget Dileo. If Borges can get the defense to fear the passing game, the RB only needs to be decent. If not, well. . . watch Devin Gardner pass for 300-400 yards a game.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Lewan for staying another year. We're gonna need every ounce of pass protection we can get this season.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||He looked a LOT more||
He looked a LOT more comfortable today. Some of that could be lack of pressure in the spring, at least as far as Hoke treats this as an exhibition (as well he should). But I mean, he was very chatty in the video.
I've been as critical of Borges as any because I took his "use what works" philosophy to heart only to see him run a spread offense that was way more predictable than it should've been for all the variations it had, but in hindsight it seems to me like he was VERY uncomfortable working with the spread -- far more than he ever let on, which is understandable considering the poker game coaches play with each other. He's not gonna go out and say, "I've never done this so I'm really winging it right now," but I don't think I've ever seen him that comfortable yet excited at a presser. It's obvious this guy is a Walsh disciple through and through, I mean way more than he let on. Now that he's no longer cramming his brain into a jelly jar, hopefully we'll witness the firepower of his fully armed and operational pro-style offense.
|4 weeks 5 days ago||WTF?||
Oh, fer cryin' out loud! What's so terrifying about Heiko's questions that they need to be edited out like it's going to ruin our childhoods if we hear them? This is Michigan fergodsakes; it's not like a question about linebacker blitzes is going to crash our brains.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||I don't know what fist thing||
I don't know what fist thing you saw, but this is a SFW site.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||Yeah. . .||
But unlike Michigan State and South Carolina, Michigan has some serious academic standards. Two sports and a Michigan degree: Pick two, and that's only if you're a badass to begin with.
|4 weeks 6 days ago||Who was this guy??||
I know back in March that Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke, when asked if we had a pass rush, said "Oh yeah", but I didn't see him in the Spring Game highlights. Maybe it was to avoid confusion with Devin's red jersey, or to avoid killing him?
|5 weeks 1 day ago||You can't really measure up||
You can't really measure up Clark by his stats. He was always an all-or-nothing player. When he made plays he made them like whoah, but when he didn't, he was a non-factor in the play. It wasn't like he posted nine TFL by constantly getting in the QB's face until the QB was terrified to take the field. He more cleaned up broken plays where he got through clean. This is a very ad hoc and harsh way to put it, but to clarify the point by exaggerating it, you can think of it as 9TFL from Frank Clark means he was relevant for only nine plays last year. That's not good production from a DE. Jake Ryan made the offense account for him even when he had no stats to add to his line; you really have to watch the plays to see it.
|5 weeks 1 day ago||I sense everyone just trying||
I sense everyone just trying to not burden Fitz with unrealistic expectations. He's coming back from a major injury. The interior line is untested. And while everyone hopes for improvement, defenses weren't scared of him last year. I'd rather undersell the guy and see him shock the world than overhype him early and add pressure to disappointment. Also, Hoke has maintained from day one that no one on the team is entitled to a position. That's not punishing Fitz; it was always the case.
|5 weeks 3 days ago||Wrestling||
Wrestlers make good interior linemen (if they're big enough). You don't have to teach them leverage; they eat leverage for breakfast.
Mike Martin did pretty well as a rookie NT; Tennessee's defense was awful last season but it doesn't sound like anyone down there was blaming him for it.
|5 weeks 6 days ago||Bench play||
Jordan Morgan, Jon Hoford, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert went combined 7/9 from the field, 4/5 from downtown.
We had subs; it was crazy.
|6 weeks 5 days ago||2 points isn't data, but. . .||
If football was like engineering, two critical failures in such a short span of time just in practice calls for a thorough review of what they're doing.
Now I know it's Mgoblog's tradition to downrate, well, everything, but note I'm not judging anyone. Yet. My point isn't that someone did something wrong; my point is that babying the team isn't the proper response. (That only guarantees no one's ready for the season.) The proper response is to find out what's killing everyone's knees. It MAY be a horrible coincidence, but you never, ever assume. You only rule out possibilities until what's left is fact.
In any case, I hope someone from the media asks this question. I'm sure Hoke is just as concerned for his boys as any of us are, but if he stonewalls this issue I'll be really pissed. As fans we're worried too.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||Yes||
His hands were inside and he had his man on his heels. He could've easily controlled with his left and made the tackle with his right. A dominating two-gap tackle won't actually make a lot of plays, but he'll have space on either side of him that the tailback knows he can't use.
DoubleLegTakedown isn't incorrect, but gap control won't always be perfect, so whenever a DT can control his man like that, it's a huge benefit. It's a matchup issue to an extent (in this case the mismatch was a starting DT vs. a true freshman), but if he does that on any inside zone, the play's dead right there.
|7 weeks 1 day ago||I done it||
MGoFollowup: When we asked Mattison about whether you had any pass rushers in that group, he said, “Oh yeah.” Who are they?
|7 weeks 1 day ago||New recruit?||
I'm not familiar with this "Oh Yeah" fellow. Is he a walk-on? Same school as Tacopants? We'll have to keep tabs on him.
/ Sudden urge to Photoshop Frank Clark's face on the Kool-Aid pitcher
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Vindication?||
Well, I said it wouldn't be close. . . I didn't predict who would win, just that it wouldn't be close.
Making accurate predictions that mean absolutely nothing is more or less my lot in life, and I'm a Michigan alum, so. . . well, not sure what the point is, but it's a good day.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||I dunno||
The physical talent is there, sure. If Michigan keeps their composure, this won't be a contest.
The problem is the key matchup itself -- VCU tries to get teams to panic, and Michigan is prone to being rattled. That's not a knock on them; it's just the fact that they're young and we all know it. There's no question Burke has the talent to shred VCU's trap, but the big question is, will he remember that? The danger here isn't that he'll panic and cough up the ball like a n00b (that's more THJ's job); rather, he has a tendency to put pressure on himself in big games. He might try to take on VCU's D single-handed if Michigan gets its pocket picked a few times. That would be the ultimate disaster, because one-man basketball plays right into VCU's hands.
Second, the video emphasized their inbounds trap and there's been discussion here about the halfcourt D, but there's a gap between the two -- I see danger in their 1-2-1-1 zone. The long passes didn't work because while transition D is generally known for being vulnerable to the pass (as defenders racing back are often out of position), VCU played the court like football DBs. There were passing windows but they were NFL-small. That zone takes full advantage of just how cramped a basketball court is when you're trying to lob a forward pass. IF you can get them into a halfcourt D they're vulnerable, sure, but this zone D is designed to make it difficult to get there. The danger here isn't panic; it's impatience. Most offenses are not used to needing 10-15 seconds just to get to the 3-point arc; VCU is trying to get guards to force a play.
Whatever the media says, I like their style. The coach could be a disciple of Sun Tzu the way he gets his players attacking others' weaknesses while minimizing their own. They can't match up against big bodies so they attack the mind. This VCU team shouldn't do well against well-prepared veterans, but with teams getting younger and younger as the NBA and now D-league aren't shy about sucking up young talent, this is a good strategy to have in today's college ball.
I still favor Michigan, but if I was to make a prediction, it won't be a Michigan victory per se. Rather, I think one way or the other, this won't be close. VCU's tactics will either work or they won't. If VCU takes advantage of Michigan's youth they'll force a lot of ugly turnovers en route to a 10-point Michigan loss. If Michigan can assert its physical advantages early, the offense will annihilate VCU with the bigs scoring 20+ each.
|8 weeks 3 days ago||Hah||
It's also so-so at worst.
I'm just worried about putting Hand around Johnson, Butt and Taco.
I'll take a Soso Taco tandem. Hell, I'll take a Gallon of 'em! I might need a new Taylor or two though. . .
|8 weeks 3 days ago||Same wavelength, different wording||
I say Kovacs was fast. Baseball fans will relate; there are two types of center fielders -- the guys who use their raw speed to get to the ball, and the guys with the uncanny ability to be always standing under the spot the ball will go. The latter is superior.
I'm nervous about the safeties. Maybe I shouldn't be because Kovacs had a walk-on's athleticism, but I expect a downgrade in production because all the speed in the world doesn't matter without positioning and Kovacs was the best Wolverine I've seen at that.
D-line will be interesting with so many coming off redshirts.
|8 weeks 3 days ago||IANAD||
It may not be time to panic just yet. All I saw was, "Jake Ryan is out indefinitely with a torn ACL" or something to that effect.
Whew. OK. The thing is, that doesn't mean a blown out ACL. There is such a thing as a partial tear, which you mitigate by yanking the guy off the field so he doesn't blow up his knee entirely. The recovery is much faster, but it's still called a torn ACL because that's exactly what it is.
One can hope, anyway.
|8 weeks 5 days ago||I'm having second thoughts||
I don't know if Hand is a good fit for Michigan after all. We already have a Taco, a Johnson, and a Butt. Rule 34 of the Internet tells me this won't end well.
|10 weeks 3 days ago||O-line can only do so much||
Having an improved O-line will help, but there have been numerous articles here on MGoBlog that predict we're still 2-3 years away from having a good O-line. We're still a hodgepodge of upperclassmen that lack talent and underclassmen that lack experience. But even with this, our O-line has at least been good enough to give the RB a chance. I'm sure an elite O-line can open a path you could drive a car through, but with what we've got, they can usually reduce the threat to a single unblocked defender. And THAT'S where I'm concerned. You can't count on every guy being blocked every play; if there's a one-on-one the RB has to at least win that battle, at least if it's a mismatch. But they don't. I was seeing the supposedly shifty guys being brought down by 300-pound DEs and the "north-south" runners getting stopped cold by cornerbacks. Yes I'm talking about the better defenses we faced but, guys? MGoBlog typically puts the blame on scheme or O-line but I remember some ye olde Michigan RBs that would annihilate that first defender.
What I really miss is seeing Biakabatuka meeting three unblocked OSU defenders, getting low like he's saying, "Bring it," and dragging them for five yards en route to first down. . . after first down. . . after first down. OSU typically has good defenses but in that game if there wasn't a O-line bust they were almost helpless. OK, I'm spoiled, but you see the disparity here? The RB is just as important to a running game as the O-line. I said all last season that something was wrong with Fitz -- he made defenses account for him two seasons ago, but last season pretty much any defender was confident they could win that one-on-one battle.
|11 weeks 4 days ago||Yes and no||
It's an oversimplification. I think what Walsh is against is recruiting speed at the expense of actual receiving ability. A lot of teams think if they can find that receiver that can burn the last guy, they win. South Carolina certainly made a good argument; I loved watching Kovacs but all his skill and discpline didn't matter when he couldn't keep up with his man.
But there are also busts because speed is all they have. A simple one-deep zone where any post route will be met with a hard-hitting FS in the back of the receiver is all they need to take away the deep threat. That takes pressure off the defense and now it's like the post route isn't there at all. What's the point of a decoy if it doesn't scare the defense? (As an aside, this is why I hate receivers who don't run hard on every play.)
Speed is important, but the receiver has to reliably catch the ball even if it's off-target. Then when he races upfield you can stretch the defense vertically, opening up the middle of the field. To me, the importance of a receiver isn't what he does with the ball, but how the defense accounts for him when he doesn't have the ball. What I want in a wideout is a guy who has two DBs accounting for him on every play; that puts the run defense in a very tough spot because if any play breaks past the linebackers the 5-yard runs become 20-yard runs. But to strike that sort of fear into the secondary, the receiver MUST be able to catch anything thrown near him. Beyond that, every bitter ounce of speed you can squeeze out of the guy makes him that much more dangerous.
You want receivers to be fast, blazing fast, but a fast receiver who can't catch is like a Ferrari without a steering wheel. Sure it's fast, but you're not gonna go anywhere with it.
|11 weeks 4 days ago||Cloak & dagger||
Methinks at the NFL level, being a good target is a secondary consideration for a back. 3rd down (pretty much every NFL play, really) is literally all about whatever it takes to move the sticks, so you want to keep the defense guessing. Being short means a 3rd down back can provide lots of variation in fast-developing plays, whether it's cut-blocking a blitzer, running a tough route (rapid changes in motion like moving as if to pass block then tearing for the sideline) or literally hiding behind the offensive line. At the college level there isn't a "3rd down back" per se so I really doubt we recruit on height. I see quite a lot of height variation among Michigan backs.
Lobs may be easier when the target is taller, but what you REALLY look for in a 3rd down back are good hands; they excel at catching passes and not fumbling. The pass can be perfect and the target ideal, but the back still has to catch it and the big guys often lack upper body control. Many of them are marginal in other ways and become ball control specialists to stay employed, so that could also have something to do with it.
|11 weeks 5 days ago||Consider this a guess||
I'm not sure myself, but I think it lines up with my personal criticism of Navarre, which is that his passes were predictable. It was the same motion and while the throw was quick, the setup not so much. An NFL-caliber QB can do all sorts of tricky things -- throw blind to a spot, hit a receiver in stride, throw on the run, lob it, flick it, sidearm it, pitch it. It messes up the defenders' timing and allows for greater variation in routes. Navarre had a pretty throwing motion, but it was only one throwing motion. I got frustrated watching him because he was so easy to read -- he'd square up to his target, set his feet and zip it. Same speed, same trajectory, every time. Which is all fine and good (nice fundamentals) and it made his throws very catchable and accurate, but it means when it wasn't the ideal throw he'd have to do it anyway and sometimes the DB got a jump on the ball. It put a lot of pressure on the receivers to create their own separation. While I agree that he's better than many of the more recent Michigan QBs, I don't think they dropped the halfback screen because he was uniquely qualified to do it; Navarre needed the halfback screen to be there because he sure as hell wasn't going to improvise his way out of trouble. It was the best way to use his talent without overexposing his flaw. I don't remember toooo many INTs but I remember more than a few critical PBUs with the game on the line, though I'll be the first to admit my memory's fuzzy.
Henne was just as bad, except worse. He would lock into a target so bad you could hear a computerized "beep beep beep" going off in his head. Sure he could zip it but if you give the DB a half second to read the QB and know exactly where the ball's going to go, and then throw it without Navarre's accuracy. . . argh. Mgoblog liked his progression but even as a senior, Henne was teasing my inner cornerback like crazy. He put even more pressure on the wideouts to create separation than Navarre did. If he didn't have Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant and Steve Breaston to throw to, his career would've been a LOT worse. That said, having NFL-caliber receivers and a QB who could zip it to them was a successful formula.
|11 weeks 5 days ago||Argh||
Bad pun. No cookie for you.
But seriously, "Mason Cole" is the name of a brawler. Half expect him to show up as the protagonist in a hyperbolic testosterone-fueled triple-A first-person shooter.
|11 weeks 6 days ago||Michigan basically sells itself||
The academics frequently ranks in the Top 25 among national universities and the athletics traditionally ranks in the Top 25 among FBS programs. The football program is evolving back into a pro factory. Michigan is where I first started my transition from kid to adult.
This is going to sound arrogant, but so what: Frankly I'm baffled as to what the hell other schools pitch to their recruits. OSU is basically Michigan without the academic reputation. If they're the type to be receptive to stuff like, "You'll actually have to study and stay out of trouble at Michigan," we don't want 'em anyway.
It's not a knock on Jerry Montgomery to say his departure is a non-factor. As Ace says, Michigan is a program, not an individual.
|11 weeks 6 days ago||Take it from me||
An ESSENTIAL skill to being a great leader is being great at attracting and hiring talent. Why? Because while you'll have your share of loyalists, your staff WILL get poached. (Hoke brought in Mattison, so we should be OK.)
Left my last job to work a crappy job for the sole reason that my new manager is awesome. In the ten months I've been here he's already had 10% of his team poached.
By his superiors.
|12 weeks 4 days ago||Ugh||
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said.
I'm glad he likes Michigan but this makes me sad. Honesty and integrity among college coaches weren't merely unusual to this kid, but UNIQUE? That says less about Hoke and more about just how often high schoolers are blatantly lied to by adults. Not some of the coaches or most of the coaches, but ALL of them except Hoke's crew?? And if this stops it won't be because the world has become a better place, but simply because modern communications made it such that coaches can't get away with it anymore.
I mean, I'm not naive anymore, but back when I was in high school I was a very angry, sour kid. It's not a time I remember fondly, but crap like this makes me think maybe my frustration at the world was justified.
|13 weeks 5 days ago||It's why I hate him||
It's why I can't stand him. He complains about EVERYTHING. You know who Urban Meyer is? He's the guy who walks into a five-star steakhouse, constantly changes the order, terrorizes the wait staff, eats half the meal then complains until the manager comps him. He complains until he gets his way. And he knows he can get away with it. And this is what exasperates me the most:
He knows it's legal.
Anyone waiting for Urban Meyer to get his comeuppance is going to be waiting a long time. He is very, very good at what he does. I just hate what that is -- abusing America's "squeaky wheel gets the grease" culture ad infinitum. In other cultures he'd be ostracized, but in America this epic whiner is worshipped. He's never going to get caught because it's not against the rules to be annoying, but as a humanist I find his methods socially toxic. There's a huge cost to enabling people like Urban Meyer; whenever he gets his way it basically rewards his behavior and encourages everyone else to turn into jackasses.
|13 weeks 6 days ago||I guess I'm an outlier here||
Honestly, I don't feel as bad when this sort of stuff happens. What do you do, question the gamecalling? Wisconsin's best chance of winning was a contested desperation heave from halfcourt. Generally when a team is THAT cornered, you've done your job. It was a total fluke that it went in. Run the same scenario 100 times, and Michigan gets the W 99 times.
I get WAY more pissed when the loss is obviously preventable (bad coaching, botched execution) or due to some injustice outside the players' control (bad officiating, scandal). If it takes desperation half-court shots at home to beat Michigan, I'll take this bunch over any other college team in the country.
|16 weeks 21 hours ago||Banned||
It's a soon-to-be-outlawed color, with white, red and gray along with them. Word has it our little recruit here is changing his name to Derrick Blue, but that's not important right now.
And don't call me Jack.
|16 weeks 4 days ago||Technique vs. concept vs. ability||
I do wonder about coaches that try to teach footwork by the step. I understand it's extremely common and maybe unavoidable if the kids lack the capacity to "get it", but it's really a rudimentary application of physics that carries over in everything from dancing to martial arts. Considering the endless permutations and variations that can change instantly at the defense's whim, that's an awful lot of detail that is (maybe?) better absorbed, albeit with more difficulty, as a concept. Mike Martin learned concepts of leverage and footwork as a wrestler which gave him a very high degree of adaptability on the football field even in the days of GERG. If you understand the underlying concepts of WHY coach wants you to step here and not here, you'll not only do it on your own, you'll make the correct adjustments in-game when the defense tries to show you an alignment you've never seen before. Easier said than done, I guess?
Even if the footwork is perfect, you need a "rangy" lineman to pull effectively -- just LOOK at the play as drawn up and you'll see one lineman with a longer route than the others, almost as long as the ball carrier's journey up to the line -- often a guy 100-150 pounds lighter and a lot faster. Asking a 300-pound man to run that distance over a non-linear route in such a short time is a tall order. The curling path taken by a pulling lineman is the sort you'll see taken by basketball guards or soccer forwards, not charging elephants.
Would improving technique make Omameh better at pulling? Maybe, but I've always doubted the ability of ANY lineman to pull well enough to get into position before Denard or Toussaint reached the line. I'd go as far as question why Borges thinks it's a good idea. Running power with speedsters puts the ball in the hands of a small, quick guy trapped in a cramped space. If the O-line doesn't create a seam, and the '12 line often couldn't, you've got all this speed in the backfield and no means of using it, like a sports car stuck in rush-hour traffic. Spread the line out and get the ball carrier some space, yo.
|18 weeks 4 days ago||Incoming DL||
"Michigan gets Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel off redshirts."
Can someone give me the skinny on these guys? If not no biggie; I'm just lazily trying to avoid some Google-fu homework.
Gonna miss Kovacs. It was like watching an NFL-caliber brain at work in a high schooler's body. Replacing him with better physical talent (over the long haul) will be fun in its own way, but I'll have fond memories of a top-20 team captained by a walk-on nobody wanted.
|19 weeks 5 days ago||Yeah. . .||
Incidentally, the two teams in the title game both played some school we've all heard of. They wear blue and yellow, or something. I don't think they're a cupcake, though.
And Clemson beat LSU. There's still plenty of time to prove me wrong, but again, my point isn't necessarily that the SEC is weak. I just think giving teams or conferences the benefit of the doubt is the furthest thing from analysis.
|19 weeks 5 days ago||SEC is WAAAYYYY overrated this year||
Alabama is legit, and the SEC lost to almost no one outside their conference. But consider who they played (good teams in bold):
S. Carolina: E. Carolina, UAB, Wofford, Clemson
Florida: Bowling Green, LA-Lafayette, Jacksonville St., Florida State
Georgia: Buffalo, Florida Atl, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech
LSU: N. Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson
Miss. St.*: Jackson St., Troy, S. Alabama, Mid. Tennessee
So. . . yeah. Real vicious gauntlets there, #7 Georgia and #8 LSU. WTF?? So all we have to go on to gauge half the Top Ten teams in the country* is how they beat each other up. That's how Mississippi State wound up being like #11 for a week. I understand being spooked because the SEC has been the strongest conference for a while now AND Michigan got spanked by Alabama, but as a whole, the SEC this year does not look nearly as scary as they have the past few. Florida obviously brought their A-game against rival FSU but this is the same school that needed a fourth-quarter comeback to beat LA-Lafayette. Now granted ND almost laid an egg against Pitt, but we played ND and almost took 'em. Tomorrow after all the bowls are played my assessment might wind up looking very silly, but to clarify my point, I'm not saying the SEC is bad (please understand this, "overrated" does NOT necessarily mean "bad"). . . I'm just saying we just have relatively little evidence they're good, either. For the most part, I haven't seen them DO anything -- or at least when they do, they've looked as vulnerable as any other major conference. Hell, Auburn and Arkansas are typically competitive and neither were even bowl eligible this season.
Incidentally S. Carolina has one of the SEC's most impressive wins this season by beating Clemson, which doesn't look good for Michigan, but I'd rather beat good teams than hide from them. It's a bowl game FFS; would you be more excited if we played a Sun Belt team? I'm more worried about Borges than S. Carolina. Use Denard as a tailback and Michigan has the talent to stay with them. My biggest fear is that Borges won't.
*Including Miss. State because it's ridiculous how far they got up the rankings by riding "SEC BABY!" coattails playing the above joke of an OOC schedule. Never forget.
|23 weeks 4 days ago||Awesome speech||
I never knew Kovacs was a comedian.
I do have to disagree on one thing, though. . . My wife is a CPA and very easy on the eyes. So sorry, JK, you're a cool dude, but you do NOT look better than an accountant.
|23 weeks 4 days ago||FWIW||
I majored in physics and was in the marching band. Time-wise it wasn't that bad as there's a huge overlap between physics and math courses, and my GPA was actually higher during fall semesters (apparently this is quite common -- your schedule gets self-managed).
All that said. . . having tried to major in math and physics, I know for a fact he HAD to have passed UM's Advanced Calculus course. That's theoretical calculus. I still get nightmares from taking that course; I had to withdraw from it and the math major entirely. It was a hurdle I just couldn't clear, and I (somehow) passed Quantum Mechanics. He did that while playing Michigan football??
Holy cripes. If you ever get to meet Jack Kennedy, be sure to tip your hat.
|24 weeks 3 days ago||Talent||
Actually, if talent is the issue, I'd make it part of general strategy. If you have a deep defense, you can play up tempo -- you wouldn't necessarily substitute every play (especially if the other team does the same), but on a 3-and-out you can just rotate in some or all of the second unit. Fatigue issue, we don't need no stinkin' fatigue issue. If your defense is thin, then huddle or no-huddle, it's in your best interest to pace your offense. If you play MANBALL, even a 3-and-out is still several minutes of breather time.
I don't respect one-trick ponies no matter how much experience they have. If you have the defense that works well with an up-tempo offense, use an up-tempo offense if you can use it to your advantage. If you rely on keeping a few playmakers fresh on defense, then slow the hell down. While the process of training the players into smoothly running one or the other isn't something you do in the middle of a season, this isn't rocket science either. Look at your roster in spring camp, make a decision and implement. I mean, of all the various things to teach in an incredibly complex game, this should be a relative no-brainer.
|24 weeks 3 days ago||FWIW||
I didn't see everything, but this season I almost never saw one of our RBs run through a defender. Even a cornerback one-on-one. Or make a linebacker or even lineman miss. I kept thinking Fitz lost a step, and he was still the best we had. I don't recall him making something from nothing at any point this season; he'd do it at least once a game last year. In almost every case it only took one shed block or free hitter to get to the RB, and once the RB was hit he went down. We're NOT talking about ye olde Walter Payton or Barry Sanders. They transcended the "free hitter" concept because a DB had no chance of stopping Payton one-on-one and a D-lineman had no hope of catching Barry. You HAD to gang-tackle them and that forced a lot of tough backfield assignments. Yes yes I understand the game has changed since the late 80s (get off my lawn), but at the college level -- where talent disparity is more of a thing than the NFL -- a talented RB can be expected to not need perfect blocking because they can always make the first guy miss (if he's shifty) or blow him back (if he's strong).
Our RBs, with very few exceptions, did neither. And with the disappointment of Rawls, I don't see anyone we have or up-and-coming who'll force the defense to commit at least two free hitters to stopping the run. I know it's a tough job so I'm not saying this to be mean, but our RBs can't do RB-like things you might as well give the ball to our biggest available lineman and see what you get out of a push-a-thon. At least then it would take more than a single safety to stop a short-yardage dive.
|25 weeks 4 days ago||Not always||
Unless it's a fumble. Or a kickoff. Or a punt. Or a FG attempt.
Actually, come to think of it, being a football kinda sucks.
|26 weeks 6 days ago||Well. . .||
"as Brian noted sarcastically, he’s so happy that UM won’t ever run this terrifying offense again because it IS so hard to prepare for and stop"
It's hard to stop the offense at first. I understand watching it and going "oh wow" but it's like buying a sports car on a family budget -- it's a thrill until you need efficient, bread-and-butter performance. That Northwestern runs the no-huddle zone read and has an issue with late-season fourth-quarter implosions isn't a coincidence. That Michigan suffered the same sort of late-game, late-season fades in the RRod years isn't a coincidence. It puts a lot of stress on a few pieces (namely the QB), definitely, but that's not the whole story. People focus on the time of possession, but I think that's a symptom. The unmentioned problem is giving opponents too much information, too many chances. By the 8th game of the season the offense could have run as many as 500 plays, give or take a hundred. Not only is that a crapton of game tape and QB wear, the opposing defenses are given chances to work out their positioning and keys in-game. You can't introduce enough wrinkles to keep defenses off balance every game for a whole season, and it's not reliable to hope the defense is tired.
The formula for winning with the no-huddle zone read is to be ahead at the start of the 4th quarter and hope your defense doesn't blow it late. If 2010 wasn't proof enough, we all just saw how well that worked for Northwestern.
Not saying it's a gimmick offense; it certainly gave teams like West Virginia a ton of mileage. However, I also dismiss any notion that it's an inherently superior offense if we broaden the scope from scoring to winning. It's great for jumping out to an early halftime lead, which is certainly one way to win, but football's a four-quarter game. I've seen enough of it to know it's easy to adjust to (so much in-game practice), is prone to causing key injuries and correlated with late-season fades. It's basically the "day trader" offense -- you can get ahead fast, but it's tough to hold onto gains made if you can't downshift.
|26 weeks 6 days ago||Dude||
We know Hoke by now. With the way he's overly cautious in his answers, he wouldn't trust the media with info on what he ate for lunch. The "don't ever tell him" was obviously tongue-in-cheek. The head coach always has to rib the kicker.
|26 weeks 6 days ago||Dup post, sorry||
|26 weeks 6 days ago||Someone disagrees||
Jordan Kovacs: "We want to play on that end, right there."
|27 weeks 3 days ago||Mark||
"[Mark is] also extremely dangerous on special teams; while his kickoff return stats are poor (16.4 yards per return), he's averaging 25 yards per punt return with a pair of touchdowns, including this one against Penn State"
I dunno; he didn't look inhumanly fast so much as it looked like a lot of PSU guys took some awful angles on that return. Especially the kicker; no one's expecting you to tackle with good form, but it's pretty much a given long returns wind up on the sideline so just sit on the path he's taking. If he goes around you he gets held up and flushed into the coverage. Instead the last several guys take extremely aggressive pursuit angles and are behind Mark by the time they change direction. Granted every punt return TD involves a few busts, but in this case I don't quite get the impression that Mark busted it. I mean, he's fast, but we've faced faster. This defense practices against Denard, yo.
My more immediate concern isn't the raw speed of this team so much as their overall style will be difficult to emulate with the scout team, which could lead to some defensive breakdowns. Basically, same problem as Air Force. It takes serious practice time to get execution up to that high tempo, something the scout team invariably will not be given. Mattison no doubt will prepare the defense as far as assignments, keys, technique, angles and containment. However, he also likes his kids to talk to each other and Northwestern will try to take that away from them.
|27 weeks 4 days ago||Kind of||
It depends on what you mean. No, I don't ever see Borges naming names when it comes to blame, which is fine. However, his vague answers can often leave me with an impression that the accountability is lacking overall. As in, if it's not the players, not the prep, not the playcall. . . but you're getting 2 yards a carry against Minnesota's run defense. . . well, you can't fix the problem if you don't see it!
One key difference I noticed in these pressers is that Greg Mattison is not shy about calling out individual plays and saying "that was on me" or "he should have done this". Not often and he won't do it proactively, but if he's asked he'll answer straight up. Like Borges, he doesn't throw players under the bus in the sense that he blames them for a loss or overall lack of production, fine. But he's far more inclined to say, "So-and-so made a mistake, but he's learning and playing hard; I should've coached him better, and as soon as he did it he knew what he did wrong." The disclaimers can get rather redundant but at least he's not vague about where the breakdowns were, and even despite naming names you don't feel like any blame's being thrown around. More like he identified a problem and committed to fixing it. Warm fuzzies all around.
Borges, on the other hand, usually doesn't name names (tho sometimes it's obvious, like a bad read leading to a pick), but he's said stuff like "ten man football" and vague references to "finishing plays" and the sort. That, to me, is a backhanded way of throwing the players under the bus. For example, when an unblocked linebacker is in the backfield a half second after the snap because of a five-on-six situation with no optioned defenders, there is nothing to finish. The play is doomed at the snap and Borges doesn't have the guts to admit it. He doesn't call out the players in that case, but he doesn't call out anything so if he's not pointing the finger at himself there's nowhere for the blame to go. Yet unlike Mattison I can't recall him ever admitting that he flat-out called the wrong play. That's not directly blaming the players, mind you, which is fine. He hasn't used the phrase "ten man football" since last season as far as I know, and I'm not waiting for him to point fingers. Also, I don't necessarily want him to fall on his sword if the players are the ones blowing assignments. But if he doesn't identify a problem anywhere and we're talking a post-game presser where the results are already a matter of public record, it's not reassuring.
Your polygraph is gonna explode because there can't be only minor problems everywhere on an offense that didn't score a TD in nine quarters.
|28 weeks 3 hours ago||I know, I know||
My issue isn't that they don't publicize the specific injury so much as they won't even say whether nor not someone's injured.
I'm not asking Hoke to say something like "Fitz has a torn meniscus in his right knee" just to see linebackers cut blocking him all day. But it'll take them all of one play to figure out when he's not at 100% (or even if they don't it won't really affect how they get to him) so at least being that vague doesn't change anything.
|28 weeks 5 hours ago||Observations:||
Jake Ryan - This is not a man. This is a torpedo with legs.
Devin Gardner - Looks like his upside is Denard minus the explosiveness but more consistency. I'll take it. He's not as physics-defying and thus isn't as likely to get those 40, 50, 90 yard runs, but he'll tuck it and scramble for 8-10 when the team needs it. I'll take it. His passing looked good today, but this is Minnesota's secondary.
Fitz - He's definitely lost a step. Maybe three. I didn't see it until now because he couldn't get to the second level (he didn't look nearly as quick but I withheld judgment because he was so bottled up) but on his TD run it was obvious; he almost got caught from behind by a guy he'd have smoked last season. Hoke may be hiding another injury. I know why they do it, but it puts the fans in a difficult position. If Fitz and Denard have been playing hurt this whole time, I think we'd be more understanding. We don't know so all we can do is assess what we see. For all intents and purposes, we've lost our elite back for some reason.
Rawls - Definitely looks to be more consistent than Fitz this season. Last season Fitz would turn a -2 yard run into +7; he's not doing that anymore. Like Devin:Denard, Rawls isn't as explosive as Fitz 2011 but at this point he's more likely to turn a nothing into something, even if it's 2-3 yards. I get that they want 4-5 but can everyone else see just how much slower Fitz has gotten?
|28 weeks 4 days ago||One other thing||
Last year Fitz was making his own yards. I believe I said at one point that Fitz was bailing out Borges in a Picture Pages entry. It seems as if there's an unblocked defender on every play, but a great RB can make the first defender not matter. It's very difficult for 10 guys to block 11 on every play.
OK, let me clarify something. I'm NOT blaming Fitz. I'm saying this puts pressure on Borges that these options and other things he's doing aren't relieving. I guess I'm saying while it's not Borges' fault he's put in a difficult situation, I don't like the answers he's coming up with. We don't have a legitimate deep threat so defenses don't need one deep safety, let alone two, allowing them to load up on the running game. But now it seems even the slot guys aren't respected, so the running game is facing a numbers disadvantage that just can't be accounted for with blocking. The offense DOES have a guy who can command the defense's attention -- Denard -- but when he went down there was absolutely nothing for the defense to be afraid of.
This loss wasn't on Borges or Fitz, but if I was to summarize what I think the running game issue is, it's that A) Michigan lacks talent on offense and B) Borges isn't optimally using what he has. If the defense knows that they can play man coverage on the wideouts, even if they fell for it what's faking the fullback as a pitch man gonna do? And as long as the defense doesn't fear an option we're not utilizing anyway, all the wrinkles and fakes and other stuff Borges is using isn't tying up defenders. They're free to stick to their assignments, and when they do that against the talent we have, there's nowhere to go.
|28 weeks 4 days ago||I don't buy it||
I doubt it. If he played any high school ball it wouldn't take long for him to remember what it's like to get hit. Not to mention, few college QBs would complain about having their blindside protected by Taylor Lewan. This was just a case of a raw QB not having enough weapons in a pressure situation.
|28 weeks 4 days ago||Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal||
The principle of zone running is to take pressure off the O-line and rely on the tailback to read the blocking. But this means you need a guy with excellent decision-making -- when to ride the line, when to wait, when to bounce, when to cut, when to just plow through. So, you don't just throw a running back out there because he looks good for a few plays. From what little I've seen, Rawls is marched out there in short-yardage situations to A) utilize his talent, but also B) deliberately simply his decisions. If it's a long-yardage down, Rawls doesn't know what to do. Not that Fitz is doing much better these days, but I remember when MGoBlog went AARGGHH because Rawls bounced early. He could be doing that a lot on practice. So for now, he's used in situations where Borges can boil his instructions down to "punch it up the gut".
|28 weeks 4 days ago||Hunghhh||
I'm all for that when the situation calls for it, but a prerequisite is that you have a playmaker on the field, like. . . well, Braylon Edwards. The dude's a top-five draft pick and a longtime starter in the NFL now. That's the sort of guy you can rely on to make plays work with pure talent, sure. Last game, the problem was that Michigan had lost its playmaker. Its ONLY playmaker, in fact. As much as I detest a lot of Borges' tendencies, I will agree that this team needs to rely on meticulous execution because it has exactly one playmaker, and he was out for most of last game. Gardner and Funchess are very raw. Dileo, Gallon and Roundtree -- I like 'em -- but they can't beat man coverage against even mediocre pass defenses. Smith is a great blocking RB that can't run in traffic and Fitz is in a funk. Rawls is a north-south back that doesn't run north-south. The O-line gives great effort but it's paper-thin and the right side can't establish the run for this run-heavy offense. We do not have NFL first-round draft picks at ANY skill position. In fact (depending on how Funchess develops as a blocker) it's entirely possible that our entire two-deep crop of skill-position players will go undrafted. I mean, we badly miss Junior Hemingway and he was a seventh-rounder FFS.
To reiterate, I like 'em. I like the effort, and the accountability. But this is not the sort of offense that can play backyard ball in a pinch.
|28 weeks 4 days ago||Definitions of "adequate"||
I think that's Borges' way of saying he did what he could. He can't hit his backup QB in practice. He can't simulate real-time game pressure. He can't dictate what Nebraska's going to do, and he can't get Bellomy to grow Denard's legs. All Bellomy can do is learn the playbook, attend the meetings and get some reps.
Michigan has one playbook because it's not all about the QB. The receivers, the linemen, they can absorb only so much. So Bellomy was going to run Denard's plays no matter what. The problem (aside from the obvious drop in speed) is that his pace is slightly different, and I think that resulted in a number of drops. QB-receiver timing is really hard to establish. Some really good guys can just go out there and adjust, but I'm talking Tom Brady good (like how he took over Bledsoe's Patriots way back in '01). I wouldn't expect Bellomy to make that sort of adjustment on the fly.
The starting QB going down is the worst-case scenario for ANY team. As for Devin, Michigan's talent depth is so thin that as long as Denard was healthy it was madness to keep him on the bench. As bad as he is, without him we don't have a deep threat at all, and the running game is pressured already. I'd LIKE to keep a stable of gazelles on the bench "just in case", but Michigan so obviously does not have that luxury.
|28 weeks 4 days ago||I'll take it, though||
Hoke attracts his talent -- Michigan talent -- by following through on his word. This program is about the players, not the coaches. He seems more content to develop the kids and let them figure it out than micromanage them from the sideline. When it works, it's tremendous -- look at what RVB did last year, and what Roh's doing now. Being honest about it, though, this DOES have downsides, and WILL result in losses from time to time. When the kids aren't ready, like they weren't against Alabama, whoah watch out. But it's also a program I can really root for whether they wind up undefeated or home for the holidays. College football is great entertainment, but it's not worth unethical behavior. If there was any doubt, Penn State should've ended them.
I respect guys like Urban Meyer and Nick Saban like I respect anyone who's dangerous. I am well aware of how good they are, but I wouldn't take 'em. Meyer's got a forked tongue and Saban is happy to throw kids under the bus to get the best talent. Miles was considered for the UM job IIRC, but he didn't seem to give a rat's ass about academics. There's nothing "natural" about how they attract talent at all.
|28 weeks 6 days ago||FWIW||
They're being diplomatic about it, but my theory is that Gardner just hasn't been progressing as a QB. At all. As raw as he is as a receiver, I'm thinking he was a wreck at QB.
We have a very very small sample size for actual gameplay, but the few times Gardner had to make a decision, he picked disaster.
As for why they didn't recruit a QB, I think they've been consistent about their recruiting goals from Day One, including a very measured balance between today's needs and tomorrow's team. This was a gamble I'll bet they were willing to take, and happened to lose. There is no viable replacment for Denard Robinson AT ALL, and Hoke's Dream Team is one that wins with minimum 46 players, not one. Plus, I think they've been very honest with the players about their roles, to the point of losing recruits for their brutal honesty. What are they gonna tell the kid, "Denard's our QB today and Shane's our QB tomorrow, so your best chance of seeing the field is watching Denard get hurt"? The only type of QB who'll say yes to that deal is a walk-on who isn't going to be any better than Bellomy is now.
That's my main criticism of the spread option, actually. Schematically it works great on paper and on the field, but only by making (for a conservative guy like me, anyway) unreasonable risks at inherently thin positions. The whole point of the inverted veer is to take pressure off Denard, but the flip side is that when Denard does go down the mesh point is just a formality. High-risk, high-reward means when everything's clicking you're the best offense in the country, but it only takes a key injury or two for the house of cards to collapse. That's why it's only implemented in bits and chunks in the NFL.
|28 weeks 6 days ago||FTFM||
I frequently get TR-ed (personally, I think it's rather childish and silly, but whatever) for being harsh on Borges, so I'll be fair for a day and state for a record most likely people don't care about, but for what it's worth:
This loss is NOT on Borges.
I'm not impressed with the guy, but this clearly ain't on him. Were there a few things he could've done better? Sure, nobody's perfect. But there is a huge difference between imperfection and fault. It's not like Borges was unduly negligent; this was a case of priorities and bad luck.
First, no OC likes to see a starter get injured. I do believe Mattison does a better job preparing the subs than Borges, it's a non-factor here. An injury to a guy like Denard WILL result in a drop-off. It'd be like our D losing Kovacs and Jake Ryan on the same play. Second, there isn't a whole lot Borges can do in the way of "mid-game adjustments". Bellomy was overwhelmed as it is (though I wish they'd drop the BS about how they have confidence in him and he'll be fine). While I feel Denard is underutilized from a spread scheme perspective, the offense is nevertheless designed around him. Without Denard, there is no "option" in this option offense. If it's a run, the D couldn't care less about a keeper. If it's a pass, there's no run threat. The receiving corps is depleted and our run blocking isn't that good, so without Denard doing silly things, the defense can drastically reduce their keys. I have no idea how many snaps Bellomy had prior to his untimely entrance, but my guess is they were mostly developmental, not schematic. And Denard had plenty of fundamental issues to work out as it is. If he spent any hours prepping Bellomy at the expense of Denard, we've just have two strings worth of inept offense.
I recall one (apocryphal) conversation the Colts had when discussing a potential injury to Peyton Manning; namely, the OC wasn't giving the backup QB any snaps at all. His response? "If #18 goes down we're f---ed, and we don't practice f---ed."
|29 weeks 2 days ago||Today's Weekly Players That Invade Borges' Dreams||
Last time on TWPTIBD, not much to say in the "boom" stat count (forced fumbles, TFL, INT, sack, etc.), but Manti Te'O and Christian Birt had busy games headhunting ball carriers. How'd they do this week?
Christian Birt, UMass - Had a relatively quiet game. 7 tackles, 2 solo. Now, UMass, I did say if your safety is very busy your defense is probably bad (see: Michigan 2010), but I didn't mean make him irrelevant before the rest of your defense gets good. Or maybe BG went out of their way to avoid him; it's not like UMass doesn't give you options. I dunno, I didn't watch. Why would I want to.
Manti Te'O, Notre Dame - 10 tackles (1 solo), 1 INT. Once again, ND's leader on D. This guy is a beast. I know linebackers tend to rack up stats but it's no secret you should try to avoid this guy. Then again, avoiding Manti might be about as easy as a batter avoiding a starting pitcher; the only guys who don't look bad against him are on the bench.
Newest entry is. . . Max Bullough, Michigan State. Denicos Allen got the most TFL, but I daresay that's a result of the RPS battle. Max, however, did his thug job and more -- 10 tackles (5 solo, 1 TFL), one INT (the meaningless one), and here's the big one. . . 3PBU. His damage to the passing game is what probably left Borges thinking he was out of options. Gonna see what this guy does to other teams going forward.
|29 weeks 4 days ago||WhyTF would they even need to audible?||
Why audible? Why tip them off? Let them commit and guess. The OL has committed to run blocking, but the receivers and entire backfield can see that coming if I can see it. Why the hell do smart guys like Dileo and Devin (who is a QB) need an audible on a blitz that obvious? Go right ahead and let the OL do its zone run thing, which means there's no time for a fake handoff, but as soon as Denard gets the snap Toussaint motions into a wheel route and catches a forward shovel pass. The linebackers are already moving inside so they're not relevant, the receivers can automatically go into run-block mode without some damn Pavlovian call so even "broken play" execution should get them a first down. And if the defense is totally caught off-guard, it's a free TD. The next time the offense lines up like that, I'll bet the LBs don't take a single step forward before the snap. And if they do? Hell, burn 'em again.
The point of the audible is to get everyone on the same page quickly, but I find that sort of OC paranoia incredible immature if there's an obvious key. What's the result if the uncalled audible doesn't work? Chaos? I doubt it. Worst-case Denard makes something happen (which the play called for anyway), or throws a shovel pass into Fitz' back. The run wasn't going anywhere as designed.
But really, this means Borges can have a trap this screamingly obvious in his face and he'll go right on blaming the players for the play not working.
|29 weeks 4 days ago||I wouldn't follow RichRod||
Borges isn't RichRod. I get that. But some guy named Sun Tzu wrote a book a few years ago; Borges should've had a chance to read it by now.
"Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak."
In football terms, this is NOT playing power with spread-option players. This is about deception, getting your opponent to target your strengths and ignore your weaknesses. It's about the draw and the play action, and more importantly, getting them to work. Look like you are going to run, then pass. Look like you are going to pass, then run. You won't have your blockers exactly where you want them, but perfect execution is NOT the key to victory. It is very, very difficult to achieve perfection. But if you can get the defense to execute worse, you get the same result as perfection -- sometimes better results. Sometimes MUCH better. That is why guards pull on a play action. The guard will probably wind up blocking air, and the running back will have to block an edge rusher. So why do they do it? Because if you can get the back seven to step forward and in, just one step, the QB won't have to make a perfect throw to hit an out or fly route. And we know this QB cannot reliably make perfect throws.
And mind you, that's a philosophy you can implement in a high school team. The classic pro set is, philosophically, about establishing a strength, playing to it, and then when the defense's hand is forced, burn them for selling out. A college-level spread team can execute various run-pass or pass-run options based on keys that don't even rely on the defense to guess wrong, but force them to be wrong.
I think I finally figured Borges out. He's running spread plays, but he's stuck in a pro set philosophy. I was always talking about how someone can have 30 years experience and not learn anything for 29, and it seems Borges is just that guy. He thinks if he can just get those plays working perfectly, then the defense won't matter. The perfection comes first, THEN he'll start to add deception. But he can't get to perfection first, so he does the exact opposite of deception -- he doesn't pull the guard on a pass, for example, because he needs that guard where he is to take on the pass rusher. He wants the base play to work so badly he's willing to literally tell the defense what to do. So instead of one guy always being wrong, or four guys maybe being wrong, all eleven know exactly where the ball's going to go.
|29 weeks 4 days ago||There is simply no rock solid game plan||
"There is simply no rock solid game plan with this offensive unit."
Of course not. If there was we wouldn't need an OC.
The problem isn't that he's getting bad results with good talent. The problem is that he's not getting results that could be expected from the talent he has. No one is saying this team has the talent to just line up and shred defenses. If anything, that's what makes scheme all the more important. We NEED Borges to be unpredictable precisely because we don't have that talent! For better or worse, these guys are Team 133, and frankly I wouldn't trade any. They're a great bunch, but they need their OC to use them effectively. You know that last pass to Dileo? That wasn't Borges. That was Dileo, and Denard. He ran his route to nowhere, but Denard hadn't passed or fallen yet, so he kept going and got open. In the 4th quarter. At home, losing against a rival, with 18 seconds left on the clock. WHERE. WAS. BORGES.
When undertalented players who are trying their hearts out are being left on these goddamn islands by an OC who REFUSES to learn the spread, it breaks my heart. It leads to incredible moments where you see a short receiver create something from nothing, but it also leads to a running QB trying to create with his arm and killing himself for two weeks, or a frustrated running back constantly slamming his head into a wall. And every time Borges leads this scrappy crew that would follow him all the way to hell like loyal dogs right into a trap the Pied effin' Piper would blush at, I seethe that he has the gall to blame their failures on execution.
|29 weeks 4 days ago||"Last year's gameplan was||
"Last year's gameplan was derided as on of the worst in the history of organized activity. This year's game plan was a direct response to that game."
Great, so Borges is playing last year's game. He's only an entire regular season behind the DCs he's paid to outsmart. That's reassuring.
"Make up your minds! Do you want us to run more often on early downs or throw more on early downs"
Well if we're breaking plays down to "run" and "throw" we've already lost, because that's 5th-grader football. He needs to throw them and run them where they ain't, and run various plays out of the same formations & motions designed to keep defenses honest.
The problem is that Borges is about as deceptive as an outdoor barbeque; you can smell it before you see it. He runs play actions off runs that don't work and counters to plays we don't even run. He cycles through attacks like a SquareEnix mini-boss regardless of how the defense is aligned, and when they align in MURDERDEATHKILL, he doesn't let Denard audible. The defense is tipped off to every single thing he does. And when every single step of every defender is in the direction your play is going from the snap, we could have the Giants' offensive line and it won't matter. Don't ANYONE give me that BS about how he's got so much "experience". Heiko has basically cornered him into admitting he's not running certain plays for no other reason than he just doesn't want to. Well, if there's one thing I've learned in the real world, it's that experience is no cure for stubbornness.
|29 weeks 5 days ago||To be fair||
The players can't do what the coaches can't coach. "I'm more comfortable with it" may sound like a completely unacceptable justification for not using the spread punt formation, but if Hoke doesn't understand the formation perfectly, a premature switch is a recipe for disaster. And right now is mid-season; with all the work they have to do, this is something that will NOT get implemented this year.
I think this is what Hoke was really trying to say, without admitting that he doesn't know something. He definitely knows spread punt, to be clear. He just doesn't have the perfect confidence & understanding he needs to use it. That said, I also think he knows Heiko effectively cornered him, so he just might pick up a book on spread punts this coming offseason.
|30 weeks 3 hours ago||I dunno||
Coming out of an excessively busy week can be like being unfrozen, and the in-season schedule of a Michigan football player is hardcore. I've seen it plenty of times and been through it myself. They had "this thing called the Internet" when I was in school, but some weeks it didn't matter.
They might have been vaguely aware of it, and I know Hoke is coy with the media, but this isn't the most implausible thing he's said.
|30 weeks 4 hours ago||Wasn't really a story at this point||
Sure we haven't faced a scary offense since AF, but this defense held Notre Dame to 13 points and however mediocre their offense is, MSU's is even worse. Good defense vs. bad offense = 10 points. . . not much of a story there. Mattison just does not seem to have an "off" game. If he has a weakness at all, it's that he seems to need a few actual games to get his defense up to speed. . . which isn't the same thing, and I'll take it over inconsistency every time. The same crew could probably hold Alabama to around 20 points now that they're settled in.
Denard is more interesting to write about, partly because he's so prolific and partly because Borges is far more inconsistent than Mattison. When an offense scores 16 vs. Iowa and 40 vs. Ohio in the same season while the defense does its thing, the "X-factor" narratives write themselves.
P.S. I know the B1G is weak this year, but Michigan's only losses are against top-5 teams. Anyone think we can't take South Carolina or West Virginia at this point? Heck, even LSU looks plenty vulnerable. I know the polls are crap but this is ridiculous.
|30 weeks 3 days ago||Another take||
Nice article, but the title is rather misleading. Quarters is a pass coverage scheme adapted to support the run D; most of the article focused on the front 7's reads. The safeties' keys were insightful but it was almost a segue.
Reading it, though, I understand Borges' desire to revert to a power-based game. Defending the spread has forced even B1G teams to utilize smaller, faster players at outside LB to protect the edge. Personnel-wise, a DC frozen in 1985 and thawed in 2012 would wonder why today's defenses are using dime packages on running downs. There's a reason why Wisconsin has been running over the B1G these past few years despite not being all that good. A TE against a glorified FS playing OLB should be a mismatch you can exploit in both the run and the pass.
MGoBlog has stated that Fitz is in a funk and sure he's missed some pretty huge running lanes, but I wonder if the adjustments Borges made to the read option game heavily favored Denard by accident. The delayed handoff, for one, basically turns the read option into a game of chicken. It was scouted early on that Denard didn't read the DE so much as the edge, so the DE just got outside the tackle and the free hitter converged on Fitz. Borges' answer (finally!) was to delay the handoff so Denard could actually read the DE, but the rest of the lines don't exactly take a break. Fitz has less time to read the blocking (instead of crashing down the DE can basically "cheat" a couple yards while Denard makes up his mind); this could explain why he's been making some inexplicably weird decisions lately. OTOH, the DE not committing to Denard as early as possible allows the offense to spot the free hitter. By the time the D knows Denard's gonna keep, the free hitter is accounted for and at least one OL is blocking the second level. The result? Fitz has to fight for yards while Denard gets 10ypc even if the defense is keyed on stopping Denard. Kinda goes against what Borges said he wanted, but I think he saw what he hath wrought and decided, "Eh, I'll take it." As a bonus, Denard is now running out of bounds once he gets past the sticks.
|30 weeks 3 days ago||Wouldn't have made a difference||
Offense could've scored 3 points in this game and still won, obviously.
That said. . . "Thankfully"? I'm not happy when Michigan gets away with a penalty. I want them to win fair and by the rules.
I want to be the good guy. And FWIW, I want Michigan to be the good guy and still crush the smug out of MSU with a 4-TD beatdown.
|30 weeks 4 days ago||Heiko didn't ask the best question this time||
. . . that's progress, I guess. Heiko, tsk, tsk. . . you know the coaches don't like to compare players.*
"What’s the thought behind putting a linebacker over the slot vs. having a nickel corner out there?"
A: Because the scariest thing for college receivers right now is to see JAKE EFFIN' RYAN lined up against you. Mattison was being polite. Seriously, though, it's a legitimately good question. You typically don't line up a LB over the slot because they're usually at a speed disadvantage. Jake Ryan is just a freak.
*No, I'm not trying to be mean. If something’s not good enough, then we’re going to tell them it’s not good enough. If something is good, then we’re going to tell them that way, too.
|30 weeks 4 days ago||The Dude||
"If you had a guy like Calvin Johnson or a guy like Jerry Rice or somebody like that, then they need to be catching more than one pass."
In other words, playmakers blow up schemes. Some guys are just so sick good they're impossible to defend one-on-one, and when that happens, you force the defense's hand. A guy like Calvin Johnson can actually catch only one pass and dominate a game in that the slotback gets 200 yards because they have to triple-cover the deep threat just to keep him out of the end zone. You get your constraint without ever having to run a constraint play. The secondary CAN'T sell out on the run if your wideout is a guy like Calvin Johnson. It'd be like the defense going, "Here, free touchdown."
Michigan has potential (he's not being so subtle about Funchess and Devin Gardner), but they're not there yet. That means we still need those constraint plays and counter-punches, Al.
|30 weeks 5 days ago||One reason I don't mess with fantasy football||
Football is ever a formation team game and college has way more disparity than the NFL, so defensive stats are a dangerous thing. Offense is more straightforward in that you always first try to play to your strengths, but defenses will always see themselves picked apart for weak links. Granted the best players will find ways to get onto the box score anyway, but (for example) Kovacs has been rather quiet when the front seven don't give him a whole lot to do. This is despite being every bit as good, and most likely far better, than his much busier days back in 2010. On the flip side, if we had a glaring weakness in the secondary that guy could lead the team in passes defended but only because he's being thrown at 20 times a game.
What's that old joke? The surest sign your team is bad is that your punter made the Pro Bowl. (Yes yes I know it's not really true, but you get the idea.)
|30 weeks 6 days ago||Re: Jake Ryan's forced fumble||
I guess they don't have the "tuck" rule in college football? Nate's throwing arm has moved past his body by that point.
Serious question, actually. It's a controversial rule, but it actually makes more sense to have it in a league where instant replay isn't standard.
|30 weeks 6 days ago||Could just be overkill||
IANAD, but I've seen that brace used to aid recovery from all kinds of knee injuries. If I'm right, I wouldn't call it a "precaution" so much as just efficient use of equipment. If you've got a knee brace that handles ZOMG TORN ACL TORN MCL BROKEN KNEECAP MOMMY HOLD ME injuries and still allows the knee to bend, why not just slap it on a mild strain until the tissue heals? There's a slight risk of compensation injury but I seriously doubt Hoke would abuse Kovacs' knee. We need this dude healthy for Ohio.
FWIW, I don't actually know what the problem is. I'm just sayin', don't panic.
|31 weeks 1 day ago||Mealer versus Other Guy.||
In other words, the Bourne Identity.
Winner: Mealer's beard.
|31 weeks 2 days ago||Hopefully. . .||
Well, I may be alone in this, but I'm hoping Michigan football DOESN'T end with the regular season.
We don't get to pick our bowl opponent, and I don't want to run the rest of this table just to get pasted 42-21 by a 4th place SEC team because got complacent not worrying about elite receivers. Not that I think Mattison will EVER let that happen, but really, why are we relieved that the Big Ten is weak?
I don't give a rat's ass about PWNing a weak conference. I want Michigan to be a giant among giants. Can't do much about a weak B1G, but let's not let B1G play give us this "big fish in a small pond" mentality here.
|31 weeks 2 days ago||Other quotes from the game||
"I met him, fifteen months ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this 6'3" linebacker, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight weeks trying to coach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil."
"A guy who came to Michigan for the first time, his ass was a wad of cookie dough. After a few weeks, he was carved out of wood."
"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends, up there in shotgun formation, are walking into a trap, as is your receiving corps. It was I who allowed your QB to know the location of my linebackers. They are quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best players awaits them. Oh, I'm afraid the zone blitz will be quite operational when your friends arrive."
|31 weeks 2 days ago||GET TO TEH CHOPPAH IT'S JAKE RYAN||
On the play just before Purdue's half-ending TD, one of the DTs pushes the other into position just before the snap. WTF went on there?
I disagree with giving Roh just a +1 on Purdue's first play of the 3rd quarter. He did something weird that looked kind of like drawing aggro on three blockers without actually letting himself get pushed out of the play. That wasn't all Mattison's alignment; Roh's unconventional play took three Purdue players AND the outside out of the play. I'd give him a +3. QB looks at that part of the field and goes WTF is going on in there??
As for the coverage, kudos, but that also tells me Purdue's receivers just aren't that athletic. Our secondary plays pretty smart, but it's pretty well known we don't have a shutdown corner that can stay step-for-step with an elite receiver. On one hand, if no one's open for almost an entire game, that's more on Purdue. On the other, it's very difficult for college players (at a real school, anyway) to play mistake-free coverage for a whole game.
"Whoever wins the WDE dogfight going into 2013 is going to be pretty dang good."
That's when Mattison says he'll "roll 'em". He WANTS to have a two-deep where defenders can split playing time at every position.
|31 weeks 2 days ago||PWWPFMBDIGHDHTSTA||
And now for Dragonchild's weekly "Players we wish played for Mattison because Denard is glad he doesn't have to see them again":
Christian Birt, UMass - 11 tackles (9 assisted). Note to UMass, if your safety is this busy, he's good, but the rest of your defense sucks. Oh, you knew that. Carry on.
Manti Te'o, ND - 10 tackles (2 assisted), 1PBU. Note to UMass, if your middle linebacker leads the game in tackles, he's good AND the rest of your defense is good.
Not sure if this will be a regular sub-feature.
|31 weeks 2 days ago||Of course||
More importantly, which side will he be on?
|31 weeks 3 days ago||Guh||
That's exactly how NOT to write. And press wonders why it's dying.
I can write better in twenty minutes with a good idea than try to polish up hours of work on pre-made drivel with an empty answer. Lipstick on a pig and all that.
If there's any room for agreement, it's on the vagueness of "thought-provoking". You can ask Hoke a philosophical question and he might give a great answer, but it'll be irrelevant. Can't sell ads that way. Ask something too technical and the readers won't understand it. Ask something about the upcoming game and they'll give you a bland answer because half of football is a counter-intelligence. That does narrow down the selection of "good" questions somewhat, but that's no damn excuse to mail it in if this is what you do for a living. And press wonders why it's dying.
Heiko's question was perfectly fine. It wasn't thought-provoking OR overly technical and didn't put Hoke in a position to compromise their gameplan. Yet it was relevant and, more importantly, makes any column a thousand times more interesting that whatever the hell Hoke is wearing. And frankly, I think coaches only want to get out of dodge because they know they're being used. It's not that they hate questions in general. When Mattison's asked a good question, you can literally see his eyes light up.
|31 weeks 4 days ago||Any half-decent scheme has multiple poisons||
The pro set can run multiple plays from the same formation too, you know. It just requires pieces we don't have.
The problem is Borges knows what he has but offers the opposing defense only one poison anyway. Purdue did something weird, but most teams know they can just overplay Denard.
|31 weeks 4 days ago||Getting back on track||
I like Borges as a personality, but let's all remember this banter has a serious undertone in that MGoBlog is really trying to hold him accountable -- you know, something real journalists did back when "getting it right" was actually a newsroom priority. I respect Heiko for that -- asking that tough, smart question -- except lately it's kind of turning into an Abbott & Costello routine. Granted we won and by a lot, but it's not like Michigan has got all its problems solved. Purdue doesn't have the elite edge defenders you need to shut down Denard, and overplayed Fitz on top of that.
The dude's paid to coach. Bubble screen isn't a panacea; it's a constraint play designed to open up the running game. With no audibles, no counters and no constraints in Borges' scheme, the offense still relies almost exclusively on athleticism and execution to get yards. This works against a defense with glaring weaknesses like Purdue that just doesn't have an answer, but it's largely why Michigan has been shut down by elite defenses that can meet them talent for talent.
To be fair, a drop-off is expected. No one puts 40 points on Oversign U. And Notre Dame's defense is legit. But that's the problem. Michigan has high expectations, and I'm sure Borges knows that all too well. He wouldn't be here if he didn't know. But to be elite, you gotta beat the elite, and while I'll say we lack elite talent across the board, the offensive implosions against elite defenses just as much due to Borges' stubbornness.
It's all be hashed out before, and I hate to be the party pooper, but Heiko asked about bubble screens for a reason, and it wasn't to get all chummy with Borges. If the linebackers are overplaying the run and the corners are playing soft, you go with that damned constraint play FIFTY DAMN TIMES until they back off. And if they don't back off, then keep taking those free first downs as long as they're giving it. Don't just look at those free yards, snort, and then mash the ball into a screamingly obvious trap.
Borges' advice about identifying the "overdefending" is truly legit, sound advice. If only the guy saying it would listen.
|31 weeks 4 days ago||I hate you||
I'd be so stalking that if i didn't live in New England now.
If there was one thing I could say to Mattinson, it'd be this: "You probably couldn't use me, but I'd play for you with two broken legs, coach."
|31 weeks 4 days ago||Guh||
Dude, Mattison goes on and on and on about technique and execution. Are you listening?
You can't just delete 5 turnovers. Michigan did that. Michigan is responsible for that. And a team that turns over the ball five times is one that's shitting a really stinky brown one right on the field. I mean, how the hell else are the polls supposed to rate that? I'm amazed a team that throws picks like birthday presents is ranked in any poll at all.
Does Michigan have the potential to be good? Sure. And for what it's worth, I like these guys. They play hard. But they do what they do, and turnovers count. When Denard is throwing the ball right at defenders -- and mind you, I'm not saying this to be mean, no one needs to say a damn thing to make him feel worse about it -- but you know, that was a guy in a Michigan uniform giving the other team the ball. That's either on Michigan or we might as well just re-write the score in our delusional fantasies.
|31 weeks 5 days ago||Not ready for human trials||
If Rawls could make his own holes, he'd be doing so in practice. That he's not getting non-garbage time tells me he's not.
To be fair, it may not be his fault. In my years of watching football, the power running game starts with the line. "Downhill" backs are a terror against secondaries but they gotta get through the line first and power running isn't known for subtlety. Rawls can maybe get a push on an inside linebacker in his gap, but since Borges isn't known for running constraint plays or play actions off plays Michigan runs, the LBs are free to aggressively jump at the snap. So even if Rawls donkeys a LB all he's really done is get himself back to the LoS. You can't move the chains with just that -- especially against a quality interior defense. If all the "power" you have is the back, any even half-decent front seven will shut down your game. Which is precisely the problem, methinks. Rawls may be a good power back, but we simply do NOT have a power running O-line.
It takes more than a back to create a power running game. Honestly, I just don't think Michigan has the right pieces, including an OC who won't give it up.
|31 weeks 5 days ago||Not just that||
The book on Michigan's read option is that if you keep a guy on the edge, Denard does NOT hand off. He only runs on designed plays. So if you contain Toussaint, you've stopped the read option. It's simple logic, but it has shut down Michigan's run game for the better part of a year.
Thing is, that's outdated information. Fitz is in a funk and they've been tweaking the option. It's still relatively easy for DCs to get in Borges' head, but he's still a bona fide OC. The decision to sell out on Toussaint strikes me as rather halfhearted.
|32 weeks 6 days ago||I hear they're working on a solution||
We don't know if his knees will hold up, but at least the limiting factor is a warranty, not eligibility. They'll take the (conditional limited) 90 days* over whatever they've got now.
*Offer not valid in Iowa
|33 weeks 2 days ago||Domination||
You give the other team the ball six times and they get ONE TD out of it. . . ND's offense got flat-out dominated. Take away the TOs and they might've gotten shut out.
|33 weeks 2 days ago||It was abolished||
They scheduled a home-and-home, but they couldn't decide which arena should host the black players vs. the white players.
Here's the official statement from Ohio about its fall-out with Apartheid: "We value our annual rivalry with Apartheid but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series. This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries."
|33 weeks 3 days ago||UMass-Miami(OH)||
According to ESPN's play-by-play, UMass' Christian Birt had 10 tackles. For being on a really crappy team, that dude can play.
For those who missed it, he's the #9 that kept showing up in the Offense vs. UMass UFR. Also was the "linebacker" who prevented Dileo's TD and pick-sixed Denard.
I think I'm gonna be a fan. If he's not a senior, someone get that dude a transfer invite to Michigan! This is Kovacs' last year anyway; we need another safety.
|33 weeks 4 days ago||To add to that||
This isn't just pumping sound through an arena or a stage concert; the band is right in the middle of the area so they can hear it too. In conventional setups performers will key off their own sound track, but here you can't separate what the band needs to hear from what the audience wants to hear. If they're disciplined they'll follow the conductor (a spread-out band covers enough area that the delay from the other side can cause people to fall behind; visual cues are practically instant), but I can easily see speakers contributing to the problem.
One other issue is latency. You wouldn't expect it considering how must faster electricity moves than sound, but as jayballs says, this is an issue by itself. You have to time the sound so it doesn't arrive too early OR too late, and god forbid you start cancelling the very sound you're trying to amp.
Long story short, amping a marching band is an unusual challenge for sound engineers. I've never done it, but I'd presume the most common failure is just uneven sound. It's very easy to make this sound good in one area. In a giant, open arena with the source in the middle? I wouldn't even trust pros to get it right everywhere. For starters, the acoustics of the stadium itself aren't ideal, and you can't just put the speakers anywhere. So even if the timing's perfect, the sound won't propagate the way you want it to.
|34 weeks 3 days ago||Meh||
No coach in the country would turn down the chance to have an elite line, but I somewhat disagree with Hoke's philosophy that it's the end-all be-all. Spread teams utilize the slot receiver in place of a tight end to great effect, and that's basically having 1 less lineman in your base play.
Relying on big plays certainly has its downsides, especially if you're concerned about wearing out your defense. But our defense really isn't all that reliable this year, so if the objective is to WIN as opposed to win a certain way, it might pay to prep for 42-38 artillery contest until the D-line gets up to speed.
Mind you, I don't always say that. I prefer to win with a solid defense and ground game as much as Hoke does. However, that's just a preference. In this game, if I was either ND (due to past struggles) OR Michigan (due to ND's weak secondary and strong front) I see a vertical passing game as the best chance to win.
|34 weeks 3 days ago||yep||
This year, our weakness is the lines and their weakness is the secondary. If a trash tornado took away the long passing game, it could get ugly.
As Murphy says, weather ain't neutral.
|34 weeks 3 days ago||The numbers can be right||
A prediction is just a prediction. Confidence in an ACCURATE prediction is what causes amateur investors & gamblers to lose their shirts. That, or drinking too much. I remember one time when I woke up shirtless. . .
Um, back to football. A team can be better and still lose, especially if the difference is narrow and the margin of error high. That is precisely the case here. So, if one team beats the other by 17 points this weekend, it doesn't mean the Mathlete was wrong. That said, if the score swings wildly away from a slim-margin toss-up it'll probably be due to a freak factor, like a trash tornado or some untimely fumbles. Home field is an advantage but I don't see it being a difference-maker here.
|34 weeks 3 days ago||Comment removed||
|34 weeks 3 days ago||Credit where credit's due||
Pretty much the only guy who gave Michigan much of a challenge was UMass' #9, Christian Birt. That guy was Kovacs on UMass' GERG defense. When Michigan scored it was often because his assignment made him nowhere near the ball.
Guess who caught up to Dileo on his 66-yard reception? Nope, wasn't a linebacker. Look again. It was #9.
Guess who pick-sixed Denard? Yup, #9. As bad as Denard's throw was, he made an excellent cut on the ball.
Dude can seriously play. I'd be happy if he transferred to Michigan; we'd find room for him on the field.
|34 weeks 4 days ago||I don't think it needs to be creative||
It just needs to spread the field until the DC is literally asking the FS to be in two places at once, then you hit 'em where they ain't. The thing about Denard is that you have your fastest player start out in the pocket with the defense all focused on edge contain like whoah. I understand Borges' intent to use Fitz to keep Denard alive, but he has to then effectively use screens to spread the field. Why? Because the ball starts right where the defense wants it to stay. If the receivers pull the secondary away with post/fly routes the defense is in a very, very bad situation. The linebackers can't cover the gaps AND defend the middle of the field AND contain Denard all at the same time. So teams will often exploit Michigan's soft middle by blitzing the inside "A" gaps with their linebackers. This neutralizes Fitz and Denard's legs at the same time at the cost of opening up the middle. In a conventional defense most sacks come from the weakside DE or OLB, but the key to stopping Denard is to keep him in the pocket until it collapses -- with him still in it. This also shuts down the running game. You HAVE to open up the defense by throwing the ball. Borges prefers to slam his head against a brick wall.
Teams like ND and MSU will coach their linebackers to jump at the snap to rob Denard of time. They've done this a couple years now. Blocking "better" doesn't fix it. The wideouts don't have time to stretch the field vertically, so horizontal is the way to go. The conventional answer to a blitz is to dump the ball to the RB in the flat, but in a spread that's another race to the sideline with a slightly slower player (at best) against a defense on high alert for that sort of motion. The bubble screen (among other plays) gets the ball outside where the defense is containing before they can start the footrace to the sideline. It's always open because the defense has picked its poison and Borges won't use it.
|34 weeks 4 days ago||This guy is WCO??||
"If you talk to any defensive coordinator, there’s not many guys who will tell you, ‘Well we got to stop the pass.’ How many guys have told you that? Now you have to stop the pass -- it’s not that they’re not aware of it, but it all starts with the ability to stop the run."
Ugh. Borges is tipping his already-tipped hand here. He talks the talk about using what the defense gives you, but if there are 8 guys in the box it's time to throw it 50 times or until the safeties back off, whichever comes first.
When I play video game football against friends, half my drives start with a play action because this mentality is pervasive. "Run on 1st and 10" is so predictable it's the best time to get the defense to bite on the PA. They expect a run between the tackles or a drop back. They're actually way more cautious on 3rd and short.
I don't know why more teams don't start the game with a PA and sling the rock to a post route. Your defense is fresh and who's gonna sneeze at a quick 7-0 lead?
|35 weeks 4 days ago||Get ready for TYDTWD||
"I’m going to start giving her like a word a day. ‘Condescending.’ ‘Exasperate.’ Stuff like that, you know."
You know where this leads. . . he's going to start having his daughter handle the MGoQuestions about bubble screens.
|35 weeks 4 days ago||GREG MATTISON||
He will always have enough in his package.
/ huh-huh, huh-huh
|35 weeks 4 days ago||I disagree||
The question about last year's edge contain wasn't Heiko (assuming there's no mistake).
I do think Heiko deserves credit for pushing the group out of the gossip fluff drama crap. It's obvious this blog leads by example, and when you ask technical questions to get the coordinators' eyes to light up, eventually everyone else figures out, "Hey, maybe instead of asking about Fitz's suspension for the eleventillionth time I should ask a real question and maybe I'll get more than a two-word answer."
|35 weeks 5 days ago||You're not gonna find many tall CBs||
5"11-6'1" seems to be the "sweet spot" for cornerbacks. Any shorter and they're useless against jump balls; any taller and they usually lack the quickness to stay with a shifty receiver. The receiver dictates the route; the CB reacts. That means the CB must -- MUST be quicker or the receiver's gone in one cut. Assuming both are at their peak of genetic ability, the only way to be quicker is to be shorter. See: Barry Sanders (not a CB, but a textbook case of short = quick). Doesn't help to have a 6'4" corner if he can't stay with anyone.
The top 3 NFL players in picks last year were Kyle Arrington, Eric Weddle and some guy named Charles Woodson. They're 5'10", 5'11" and 6'1", respectively. Carlos Rogers and Corey Webster are 6'0". Brandon Browner is tall but he's the exception, not the rule.
|35 weeks 5 days ago||In general||
I'm at work so I can't replay the vid, but if we're talking in general. . . it's because they're not athletic enough.
A rule of thumb -- just a rule of thumb, mind you -- is that if you're gonna draw up movement on your O-line, the lines need to be roughly the same length. This is because it takes time to, you know, put one foot in front of the other in what's known as "running". So a guy who has to run six yards to get into position is going to do it in twice the time as the guy running only three, and if you don't time your contact precisely the play is dead behind the LoS.
Sorry if that came off as patronizing; I don't do this snarky style as well as Seth. Point is, a lineman that can pull needs to be exceptionally quick for his size because of the distance he needs to range to reach the point of attack. Not everyone can do this so I marvel at Borges' audacity to keep talking about execution. This is an example of a pull:
It's actually a play action, but the O-line movement is the same for the base play (duh). What should immediately pop out is just how far the left guard has to run just to reach his assigned gap. IF your back rumbles like a locomotive and IF the goal is to push strongside for 4-5 yards, this is classic MANBALL, and that's fine. I presume the RT takes on the SAM, which means the pulling guard's assignment is typically a ILB or safety who loses a step reacting to the play and has farther to go to get to the point of attack. The unblocked weakside pursuit will be trailing the tailback whose job is to take a few steps and fall forward anyway -- tackling him from behind doesn't stop the play from achieving its goal. The problems are this: One, the tailback here is Fitz. He's a speed demon, not a tank. Even with a guard quick enough to pull properly, this burns rubber as well as a sports car tailgating a Mack truck. Two, teams will often roll up the safety, blitz with a corner or use a robber to stop the run. End result? The defender reaches the gap before the guard does, the ball carrier's speed is neutralized going behind the late guard, and now you have all this speed in the backfield with nowhere to go. Sports car stuck in traffic. You don't really need to worry about the play action either; the same defensive alignment gets you a blitzer in the backfield because Fitz can't block and Smith can't run. You can pretty much tell what Michigan's going to run (or fail to execute) by watching who lines up next to Denard.
I'm gonna say it: It's a stupid, stupid, STUPID use of personnel. It's not the guard's fault he's slower than Fitz. You can't execute or drill or technique or "block better" into making this work with this team. Even with an All-American left guard, you can't make this play work unless something weird happens (Fitz does something silly, a linebacker slips and falls) but that's not what you'd call a well-executed play. With a true MANBALL team it's tough to stop, but with this crew it calls upon players -- including the defense -- to traverse distances inversely proportional to their speed. The slower they are, the farther they have to go and vice versa. The only way to make it work in order is to do it in slow motion but defenses won't cooperate.
What I REALLY don't get is that even if Borges doesn't see this on tape, Mattison should be destroying this play in practice. Why are they still using it??
|35 weeks 5 days ago||I just wonder whether Borges is blind or stubborn||
He's good at what he does, but he's not paid to do what he does well. He's paid to do what it takes to help the team win. Michigan is not quite so saturated with talent that you can sneeze at an open receiver simply because you don't want it, or make no effort to drill a pre-snap read to audible against a stacked box. Denard can't look at a blatantly uncovered receiver or audible the secondary rolling up? This isn't advanced stuff.
So everyone keeps talking the same game about blocking better, playing with better technique, 11-man football. . . but shucks, how does he have the nerve to let his players to blame themselves when the defense has set up against your run that one man is gonna be unblocked?
|35 weeks 5 days ago||With no clip, my head heard different voices. . .||
Would you have called a timeout earlier?
/ Am I too old?
|35 weeks 6 days ago||It WAS goofy as hell||
They routinely rotated half their O-line in a no-huddle, hurry-up offense.
I'm genuinely impressed the defense kept up. They were obviously dazzled by the countless looks and had trouble dealing with the low blocks, but they were in position on every snap (tho there were a few close calls) and were ready to go even at the end of the game. I can confidently say Michigan gave 100% on every play, but I think "100%" means something else to the USAF. Their rotations were designed to have the players maintain a pace that would be otherwise unsustainable. That is one seriously well-oiled machine.
I came away not so disappointed with the defense's job as amazed at what Air Force does. There's the triple option, and then there's this bunch. It's not just a scheme; everything from the cut blocks to the rotations to the endless formations, counters & variations to the pace are all part of a very complex system that gives them the best chance to win. That is a very, very well-run offense. It's very much what I'd envision a smart, disciplined, undersized team needs to do to win, but they also had the courage to throw themselves at the feet of Michigan's interior D every down. Everyone calls the cut block cheap and has a thing to say about our D-line, but bear in mind their game was making 300-pound guys fall forward and land on them. Air Force ran NINETY plays. Even generously assuming they rotated everyone every other play, at least four guys marched out there and had 300-pound linemen land on them forty-five times that day. I don't care how awesome modern pads are; that's gonna smart.
|36 weeks 2 days ago||Are his arms in sockets??||
|36 weeks 3 days ago||So, we're on the same page?||
We agree that a high variance strategy was needed against Alabama. . . but I don't know if we saw the same game.
Michigan threw several deep balls, wound up with two TDs and three picks. A couple could've-beens didn't happen, one shouldn't-have-tried was almost intercepted. If that isn't high variance, I don't know what is.
You said, "The talent gap can give and it can take away." Same goes for high variance. ESPECIALLY for high variance. Going deep on Alabama meant Michigan could've won a close game or lost in a blowout. Well, Borges gambled and lost. If the picks wound up being long TDs, guess what the final score would've been?
I don't like a few things Borges did, but I think he understood what he needed to do just fine.
|36 weeks 3 days ago||I dunno||
His adjustment last week was bigger than most people think.
The wideouts start out playing close to the sideline, which limits their lateral movement somewhat. Sure, they can juke outside, but if you don't bite too hard you can pretty much box them out of the play. They can move inside but that's where you want to be anyway. What makes the cornerback's job difficult is that they're matched up against the best wideouts with a law book's worth of rules on how not to breathe on them.
A nickelback's job is similar but the challenges are different. They're usually matched up against the opposition's 3rd or 4th best receiver, generally shorter and often not as fast. However, the slotback can take screen passes behind the line, move in either direction, cross the wideout's route or also head upfield. You're trying to maintain perfect positioning against a guy who can move in any direction, at any time.
When you go from playing nickelback to cornerback, and mind you Avery had taken a lot of game snaps as a nickel, you'll probably start out too conservative. You'll be ready for those underneath movements and then this speed demon four inches taller than you just burns down the field. You run all out to catch him, and then he jukes, and you break your ankle trying to follow.
No one should be shocked that Avery blew coverage. He probably got too specialized, but the jobs aren't THAT different. It's difficult to suddenly adjust to in-game but easy to transition to with practice. He'll be fine.
|36 weeks 3 days ago||I don't have stats, but. . .||
Mechanically, it's actually pretty hard to injure a knee with a shoulder.
If the cut block is at the thigh you flip the guy over -- or get kicked in the ribs. It'll hurt and there is a risk of injury to the knee or neck, but it's not remarkable. If the hit is below the knee (and thankfully we don't use that gawdawful 1980s turf anymore), the leg just gives. You have to pretty much nail the kneecap when the foot is planted while the opposite leg is still trailing. It's at that precise moment where all the weight is on the knee that it's locked in place and the other leg isn't out in front to protect it. And this is all assuming your man tries to run right through the block, which generally only happens by not knowing you're there. Otherwise, you can dive at someone's knees a thousand times and only give them bruised kneecaps.
I've seen knees taken out with low hits, but it's when the guy doesn't see it coming so he doesn't jump or adjust his stride in any way. The body has some pretty evolved reflexes, and it only takes the slightest weight transfer to avoid a knee injury. Again, the ONLY thing you need to avoid ruining a knee with a hit is to get your weight off it, and the body can do that very quickly. The knee can also be damaged by a second blow (first blow locks it, second blow shears it) or someone rolling on it, but welcome to football.
Most knee injuries are caused by voluntarily locking it. We have reflexes to protect the knee from blows, but we haven't evolved kevlar ligaments to handle athletes with 100 pounds of fast-twitch muscle pivoting at full speed.
Again, I have no data, but methinks cut blocks are the pitbulls of football -- not relatively dangerous, but they're ugly and when they actually do harm the results are visually spectacular. A concussion has far worse implications for a football player's future quality of life, but no one really gives a crap because it's just a guy "getting his bell rung". Knees can be repaired, but a blown knee can get an entire stadium cringing and we can't have that.
|36 weeks 4 days ago||I mixed up the blocking,||
I mixed up the blocking, yeah. Also, if the QB rifles the ball to the receiver right out of the shotgun, yeah, there's nothing the CB can do if he's 6-10 yards back.
Need moar caffeine
|36 weeks 4 days ago||It leaves the QB very, very vulnerable||
At least on Borges' stupid read option, the QB's looking right at the DE. In a bubble screen, the linemen block and then release while the QB throws to the receiver. The O-line blocks the back 7 while the D-line makes themselves irrelevant by running themselves out of the play.
The problem is that for a split second, the O-line isn't protecting the QB, whose eyes aren't even looking at the pocket. If the throw is late, the QB's crushed. Yes it's illegal to hit the QB after the throw, but it can be accidental or even a calculated risk if it knocks the biggest playmaker out of the game. If I was a jerk, and plenty of coaches are, I'd happily take a roughing the passer penalty if it breaks Denard's collarbone. You can bet MSU would try it. You can time the route so the D-line can't even try to pretend they're killing Denard by accident, but then it'll only work a couple times before the corner jumps the route. And god forbid, if the QB or receiver tips the bubble screen -- and the first time you'll know is when it happens -- it's an automatic pick-six.
Those are the downsides, anyway. It's not like I asked Borges, but given the way he's so squeamish about optioning a DE in the zone read, I'm speculating it's the same philosophy at work. He's won't even trust Denard and his 4.32 to outrun a single optioned DE, and Heiko's asking him to let the ENTIRE D-line through?
|36 weeks 4 days ago||If Denard could squeak he had the chances to do it||
Denard's longest run of the game was 9 yards.
They had 2-3 defenders dedicated to containing him all game. They didn't sack him until the 4th quarter because our pass protection was good; they didn't sack him because containment is how you stop a guy like Denard.
I agree with Borges that the way to beat Alabama is to stretch the field vertically. They played Cover-1 and trusted their corners. Against Michigan's better passing teams that would've been shredded like taco meat. With 8 guys out to stop the run, you don't run. You HAVE to execute against that sort of pass coverage, but Michigan just wasn't good enough. A successful defense forces an offense to play away from their weaknesses not with talent, but by forcing them to make decisions. Alabama can do that without even putting 8 in the box, has been doing it for a couple seasons now. They keyed on the run, but they didn't need to bring up a safety. 8 in the box is what a weak defense does to stop the run. This was Alabama. You don't run at the #1 run defense dedicated to stopping your run just because they're not overplaying the run like Southwest Basketweaving U. If you refuse to see that, you're being stubborn.
The problems were that Denard's a mediocre throwing QB, Borges' read option has been scouted since forever and he refuses to change it, Vincent Smith has no weapons and Borges called only two bubble screens. Basically, Borges had little to work with against Alabama's balanced (6 in the box) defensive sets and castrated what little he had. Denard can't thread a needle like Tom Brady and Smith can't make the first defender miss like Toussaint. (I'm not questioning the suspension, but you can't pretend Smith is Toussaint. That's being stubborn.) Borges' read option is the easiest thing to defend with Smith on the field (take away the edge with the DE they're going to block ANYWAY, force the handoff, unblocked defender greets Smith at the hole), and he threw two bubble screens. Borges likes to say you take what the defense gives you, but he didn't do that.
He was going to throw against their run defense and run against their pass defense, which looks good on paper but for an OC that's backwards. It assumes the defense will overplay your strengths, but again, that's a sign of weakness. Borges was gonna throw if they showed 8 in the box but ANY OC can make that call. A Northwestern or Minnesota has to pick its poison before the offense even lines up. An elite defense starts with a balanced set and adjusts to what's working. The ONLY way to loosen one up is to force the adjustments. You HAVE to execute anything that isn't completely shut down. Borges pretty much said so himself, so we agree here. He failed because he called plays that asked too much of his players (read option) and not enough of those that didn't (bubble screen). That allowed Alabama to dictate the terms of the running game, leaving Borges with the high-risk-high-return Hail Marys, which got Michigan two TDs but also got them two picks.
|36 weeks 4 days ago||I got your point||
My post supplements yours; it doesn't disagree with it. If anything I'm just nit-picking. Point is, increasing speed irrelevant to game prep. We agree on that, no? By the time you're looking at tape, you can't count on any speed increase.
BTW, technique can improve speed. Your running form, etc. But it's fundamental enough that most kinks are worked out early on, so it's irrelevant to this discussion as well.
Getting back on point, speed really only matters when you know what to do with it. Speed is used to get into position faster. But if you don't know where you're supposed to be, all speed does is take you out of the play more quickly. On the other hand, all the speed in the world doesn't help the other guy if you've sealed him by being in the right place.
I shouldn't even question Mattison at this point, but even when I have my skeptic's cap on, we wind up agreeing on everything.
P.S. Not everyone who doesn't agree with you 100% is disagreeing with you
|36 weeks 4 days ago||Aren't games scheduled years in advance?||
AFAIK scheduling this game had nothing to do with the current crew.
Michigan's never been afraid to schedule a tough opponent. They don't go out of their way to make every game tough, but one challenge a year is pretty typical.
If anything, I think Alabama saw an opportunity to smug up its SEC superiority against a big-name program while it was struggling. IF this game was decided on like most OOC dates, it was scheduled in the darkest months of RRod's tenure when Alabama was already an established power. They couldn't know RRod would be fired, but even in the best circumstances Michigan wouldn't have been expected to be ready. Alabama wasn't expecting a pushover, but it wanted a winnable game against a famous program. Not sure what our AD was thinking, but I won't assume it was cynical.
Credit to these coaches, they didn't shy away from the challege. And I agree with Mattison; with better execution they could've made a game of it. As it is they're making the most of it.
|36 weeks 4 days ago||You can improve speed||
Modern workout techniques have figured out how to improve speed and power in combination. It's only been done in the last 20 years or so, and resulted in some amazing athletes. The whole "linemen are bigger than ever before" thing is a myth; they've had 300-pound linemen for 30, 40 years now. They just generally weren't good (and usually didn't play in the NFL) because beyond 200 pounds there was a dramatic and ever-declining drop in speed. Back in the day, the answer to a 300-pound lineman was to just run around him. Now they're almost as fast as linebackers and tailbacks. The amount of kinetic energy on the field downright scares my inner physicist.
I digress. You can increase speed, and I'm sure they try to do so in the weight room. But you can't do it quickly. You can add bulk in a single offseason, but fast-twitch muscle is difficult to develop. Adding 20 pounds of muscle is easy. Adding 20 pounds of fast muscle is very, very grueling. It's just something you don't discuss when preparing for the next game. That's like, oh, my plane's running out of fuel so I'm gonna radio my friends to build an airfield. Yes, your problems would be solved with an airfield and they're not impossible to build. You just flat-out don't have the time, so when you're already in the air there's no point in talking about airfields that don't exist.
I'm sure the coaches look at ways to improve speed, but it's not relevant to game planning.
P.S. There is a genetic limit to "speed", but it's a body frame issue that makes the issue more vague.
|36 weeks 4 days ago||I called this last year around the Nebraska game||
Hoke/Borges swore to keep Denard healthy and that's what they're doing by blocking the DE. Being generous I'd call it conservative. But really, taking a MANBALL approach to a read option is really just thinking like the fastest QB in the country can't beat a DE in a foot race.
Hey, Alabama's DEs are good, and sure if they hit Denard they might take him out of the game in one play. If.
Seriously, Borges thinks Denard can't outrun a DE??
Teams have had Borges' read option figured out for months now. Saban wasn't being brilliant; he saw how half the Big Telewelve has been getting the ball out of Denard's hands all last season. The only reason it didn't work so well was that Toussaint turned into another guy who can juke the first defender to reach the backfield. When Toussaint got defenses worried about him, he made the DE's job very hard. But Toussaint wasn't playing in this game. I love Smith on passing downs but he is NOT the sort of tailback who scares Alabama in a one-on-one situation in space. Even with short notice Saban could've adjusted with a 30-second chat with the playside DE.
Here's the "kill Borges' read option" recipe:
1) Make the edge "unclean", forcing Denard to hand off.
2) Take out the lead blocker.
At that point all the blockers are blocked, the ball's out of Denard's hands and there's nowhere to go. Denard's now irrelevant so in an 11-on-11 game with the CBs playing man you have a free guy who can fly into the seam. THAT is why you "option" off a defender. It's not to mess with the safeties; it's to equalize the numbers in a running down. Michigan can still break for big yards if Toussaint (when he plays) does silly things with his feet, but even then the defense has done its job -- the back has to dodge an unblocked tackler in a tight space just to reach the line of scrimmage.
|36 weeks 5 days ago||2 cents||
We didn't play the "undoubtedly" best team in college football. We played a national title contender, but FWIW, I don't see that as an excuse. I think this team has pride and is kicking itself for not executing. I think better of Michigan than to shrug off a loss as "well, they're a great team". If that's valid, then what does "This is Michigan" mean?
Their O-line is the best in the country, and most will probably go in the draft. But "NFL level" sounds like taking pressure off Michigan by saying it wasn't worth trying. Michigan doesn't even have the best lines in the conference, so if this issue is beyond hope we might as well stop playing.
Our offense was "balanced" like a political pundit trying to find a hypothetical middle between two extremes. We ran the ball 29 times when it didn't make a lick of sense to run it even once. Alabama was totally dedicated to stopping the run. Denard had a bad passing day, which is what Alabama was betting on, but it was the only chance their defense was going to give. As you noticed, we torched their secondary on a few occasions -- why didn't we keep stretching the field vertically?? It was gonna be risky but if they were gonna keep 8 in the box all day (if there's a definition of "overplaying the run" I'm not sure if there's anything more literal than that) we should've thrown the ball fifty times. We wasted too many drives running the damn read option against a defense that was not only dedicated to stopping it, but DESIGNED to stop it.
I honestly don't know where we're at. I'm glad we're not #8 anymore -- that was too high -- but as long as we're not overrated I really don't care where we're ranked after one whopping game.
|36 weeks 5 days ago||I wouldn't have tried||
Too hard to evaluate the Top 10 what with so many teams scheduling games against Sycamore U. My opinion of that practice has changed over the years, but it seems teams have REALLY gone out of their way to schedule cupcakes over the last five years.
As for ranking Michigan #25, if that's an overcorrection, I'm fine with that. My favorite Michigan teams were all underrated. Michigan tends to play better as an underdog.
|36 weeks 5 days ago||Cupboard?||
It looked like we had enough players on the field. I wouldn't call that a bare cupboard.
The problem was that Alabama matched up well against Michigan. Their defense is designed & dedicated to stopping the read option, which was our offense's bread-and-butter play. They have a power running offense; our interior D-line is inexperienced.
With better tackling on defense and better passing game execution the results might've been different, but I think with Michigan's margin for error this was either going to be a close Michigan win or an Alabama blowout. Michigan was going to have to take some risks and execute them perfectly. It didn't work out that way.
|36 weeks 5 days ago||FWIW, Alabama prepped well||
They didn't just bowl us over with superior talent. They knew what to do:
"Their nickel or their safeties, you could action the other way, they weren’t moving. They were waiting. It could have been the backer, depends if they dropped the safety down or the backer out, drop the safety inside -- they weren’t moving. That’s where we have to hit a couple of those throws when we do throw the ball, when we take that out of them."
One tendency of Hoke/Borges is to not play away from the team's weaknesses. I wouldn't necessarily call it a flaw, as having faith in your players is how you get them to play at the absolute best of their ability. It's more a long-term approach. There's something to be said for it in close games. But against superior talent, it's a luxury you can't afford. It was obvious that Smith didn't have the power or speed to beat them, and Rawls was even worse. By keying even the secondary on Denard, they forced the handoff on the read option and chased Smith to the edge. There's believing in a player and then there's being stubborn. Smith got the edge exactly once and that's only because Alabama lost track of the sideline. Not a good payoff for 19 handoffs.
Alabama basically gave Borges & Denard the short pass (including the bubble screen) knowing Borges didn't want it and Denard couldn't make it. It's the sort of alignment that a good drop-back passer would've absolutely shredded, but that's where it pays to be honest -- Denard is more leg than arm. Alabama had the offense's weapons all figured out and allocated their assignements perfectly. The only way to open up that defense is to stretch it vertically and that led to two touchdowns, but it also led to a pick. High risk, high return. Thing is, it's a given their defense was gonna be good (I really do wonder why the media kept making a deal of their inexperience). It was the mistakes, the picks and missed tackles that blew the game open.
I know Borges likes to keep things balanced, but here's where I would've preferred a "what it takes" mentality. He doesn't follow his own advice. I also disagree with Brian that their passing numbers mean they didn't run Denard enough. Denard wasn't going anywhere; his longest run was 9 yards. Denard didn't run because Alabama had locked down the read option. If the safeties are keyed on the run (and we knew going in Alabama likes to play Cover-1 FFS) then throw it 40, 50, 60 times -- as many times as necessary. I do get that their CBs were good but those were the ONLY one-on-one matchups on the field. It's all the defense was giving us. HALF of Michigan's yards came on three pass plays. It might've led to more picks (and a worse final score) but it was the only way Michigan was going to score.
|36 weeks 6 days ago||From what I've seen. . .||
. . . Devin's even less prepared to play QB than Denard.
Denard's the best we've got, and frankly most teams have a hard time stopping him even after facing him for several seasons. Denard doesn't match up well against elite defenses experienced at stopping the spread, but yeesh, join the club. We scored more points yesterday than LSU did last season in two games combined.
His picks will always be an issue, and this time it very well might have cost Michigan the game. But one game against a top-ten defense is pretty quick to give him the hook, I'd say.
|37 weeks 1 hour ago||I'd rather focus on this year||
I understand the sentiment; you're basically thinking like a patient fan, right? Our expectations for this crew may have been too high. It's unrealistic to expect Hoke and this crew to play with essentially an NFL farm team. Give 'em another couple of years and we'll see where we're at.
I get that, but Denard and the other seniors don't have those couple of years to wait like we do. This was their only chance to beat Alabama. Next year's incoming freshman class doesn't have anything to do with THIS team, and this is where I respect Hoke the most. He's already recruiting for 2014, but he's putting all his coaching effort into THIS team. We know full well these guys aren't the most talented in Michigan history (far from it, really), but Hoke is about THIS Michigan team. He is going to try to win every game with THESE guys. And damn if he didn't get closer than I thought. Honestly. I'm still waiting for someone to call me out and say I'm crazy for thinking Michigan had a chance, but re-watching the same ugly everyone else saw, I can't help but think what could've been. I remember hearing all week the coaches saying consistency is an issue and the kids are trying hard. I don't expect Denard to thread needles the way Tom Brady did, but he could've at least avoided not throwing the ball RIGHT AT a defender. I don't expect the linebackers to bring the ball carrier down at the LoS every play, but seeing them constantly miss arm tackles was frustrating. Expecting them to play perfectly in Week 1 may have been too much to ask, but it's easier to ask someone to be perfect for an hour than to ask them to simply be more talented.
I didn't expect or ask for a Michigan win; I had a pretty good idea what they were up against. What I wanted was a memorable game. The last thing I wanted was sloppy play reducing Michigan to just another stop along the way. The good news is that "sloppy" can be fixed, so there's no need to wait another couple years to see this team do special things. Moments like Devin's TD catch or BWC's sack. . . these guys didn't own us, sodamn wouldn't it have been nice to make 'em sweat.
These guys were never in the talk for the national title. Nor am I really thinking about the Big Telewelve championship, to be honest. I'm just looking forward to seeing what these kids do, and believe me when I say that'd be the case even if they were title contenders. I want them to win every game, but it's really about seeing them grow every down. If I wanted to watch flawless execution and worldly talent I'd watch the NFL. They're not the most talented team, but they're Michigan.
|37 weeks 1 hour ago||RichRod didn't invent it. . .||
. . . and I can't verify it, but I was told the spread was adopted by smaller schools in the south to somehow compete with the powerhouses, considering Alabama-Michigan is an outlier. If you're Savannah State or Jacksonville State and your AD wants to book a date with a powerhouse basically just to humiliate you in public for some cash, what do you do?
The spread option (the concept, not the formation) was built for "inferior" talent; i.e., what do you do with a bunch of unpolished, small fast guys because Big U took all the NFL talent. At its most basic level, in the spread you make the fastest player -- not the best thrower -- your QB. The danger of the option -- a run with nothing to key on, no handoff, no setup -- forces the defense to overplay the run, allowing your inferior throwing "QB" to make easy tosses into what would otherwise be an overmatched secondary. The spread IS "QB oh noes". Spread the field to isolate the individual talents so you can create a mismatch, especially in the secondary. Throw to the open man or utilize a mobile QB to scramble for yards. Michigan's rush:pass ratio was 29:27; this was most likely a mistake against an elite defense keyed in against the run. Not that adding to Denard's freebies is what I want, but Michigan's chances of winning always hinged on playing mistake-free football. Alabama has LOTS of experience defending against the spread; they knew exactly what to do. They shut down the run with serious contain and dared Michigan to go against their strengths and unfortunately it worked. If there was ever a day I longed for the second coming of Tom Brady wearing maize & blue, this was it.
|37 weeks 2 hours ago||Check your composure||
Hoke's bringing in quality recruits precisely because of his approach. I don't have much respect for those who envy scum for their shortcuts.
This year's team was thin going in and we all knew it. Second, it's kind of hard to win a tough game if you throw three picks. Without the freebies the damage isn't nearly as bad.
If we didn't play the game the right way, the team might be doing better, but then I wouldn't be a Michigan fan. Not that my opinion counts for anything, but there are plenty of dirty teams to root for if that's what you want.
/ Edit: Uprating your post. The hell, guys; you can't see a very obvious venting when it's right in front of you?
|37 weeks 2 hours ago||Fun with extrapolation||
Alabama shut out LSU last year. LSU beat North Texas by by the exact same score. LSU is ranked lower than Alabama this season. Ergo, Michigan is worse than North Texas. Expect us to go winless in the conference.
OK, seriously. I don't think OSU's ineptitude against the SEC some years ago is all that relevant, and extrapolation goes both ways. Alabama isn't some unbeatable force of nature that spanked Michigan around like it's an FCS team. People are saying that because they didn't watch the game and just looked at the box score.
I saw a sloppy Michigan team NOT play its best game on a day they needed their best game to win. It's no wonder the coaches were openly worried about consistency. The DL got pushed around but that's no surprise. It's a problem but we're gonna be dealing with that all year. Fact is, the back 7 gave up too many big plays (NINE plays of 15+ yards). A lot of those missed tackles would've stopped or at least strung out the drives more, and you KNOW this team is better than that. The running game was non-existent but Saban was so keyed in on it that Alabama gave up two big plays of their own. Denard gave Alabama two freebies. If Michigan plays better. . . well, they still lose, but they were very much exposed as a transitional team. My point is, if you just look at the score (and extrapolate like the world is gonna end) you'd conclude Michigan is worse than North Texas. That's all the media's gonna talk about from here, but to hell with them. I look at the plays and see Michigan having its usual depth issues and first-game jitters against a team that feasts on inexperience. Tell you what -- no way BWC sacks the QB the way he was last year. The talent's there with lots of room for improvement and I guarantee this staff won't leave that room unfilled.
Of all these issues I think Denard's is the most worrisome; he's simply out of time to figure out how to avoid throwing interceptions. But tackling? I wouldn't be surprised if Hoke had the team practicing technique on the plane ride home.
|37 weeks 3 hours ago||As far as line play goes. . .||
Virginia Tech dominated the line last year (granted it's because Molk and RVB were injured) and still lost. It's a big thing, but it's not everything.
I watched the game on-line afterward expecting to see a slaughter. It actually wasn't, so much. We always said from the start that if we don't limit turnovers this won't even be a game. Denard basically gave Alabama two free touchdowns. Turning those turnovers into touchdowns is far from automatic, but consider if we take away those two picks and replace them with TDs. Final score is. . .
Michigan 28, Alabama 27.
Now, for a reality check. Alabama didn't pull all its starters, but it certainly eased off the gas once they were spotted a 21-point lead. Second, while Alabama's inexperienced secondary got exposed as vulnerable to the big play, it's still quite unlikely Michigan would've scored two more TDs that day. Alabama controlled the tempo from the opening kickoff to the last whistle; this was their game to lose and they did nothing in particular to lose it.
All that said, this wasn't a beat-down so much as an implosion. Not that that's good news -- Denard is still throwing picks, Bellomy has the absolute worst possible rating (-200) and interception rate (100%) a QB can possibly have, and now we have sloppy tackling to go with our list of problems. It was ugly. My point is that the media is going on and on about how Michigan got dominated. I disagree. Michigan was overmatched, sure, but that was a known factor going in. The line got pushed around much like they were against Virginia Tech, but the linebackers were usually where they needed to be and overall I was pleasantly surprised by the pass protection. Granted it was partly because of Alabama's contain strategy, but Denard didn't get sacked until late in the fourth quarter. They had a chance after all; they just didn't do what they had to do to win.
The silver lining is that you can fix problems on execution, and we have a great staff for doing just that. Denard may always be a pick machine, but we probably could've stopped half of Alabama's scoring drives with better tackling and you KNOW Mattison isn't going to leave that issue unaddressed.
To heck with this game, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But as far as the rest of the season goes, I'd have been more worried if Michigan just flat-out looked lost. I wound up seeing a team that would've fared a lot better if not for mistakes that can and will get corrected over the course of the season.
|37 weeks 1 day ago||Thread is dead, but. . .||
The NFL would have a thing or two to say about your assessment. Mike Martin was a third-rounder. Molk barely got drafted at all -- though his injury had much to do with it, he's been called "undersized" the whole time. RVB wasn't drafted. I liked how they did, but "NFL-quality" isn't an accurate way to describe them.
Michigan took what was very clearly NOT an NFL-caliber line on EITHER side of the ball and got them to play very, very well. You can actually see the lines improving (with some obvious growing pains) over the course of the season. That doesn't bode well for Alabama, but it does bode well for the season overall. You honestly think Mattison will be content to see Kovacs buried by blockers all season?
I expect D-line regression, but Mattison isn't a one-trick pony. He'll play to this season's strengths.
|37 weeks 3 days ago||A few||
Denard. Alabama can play disciplined defense but it's hard to catch talent. Lesser teams had as many as EIGHT guys within five yards of the LOS to contain Denard and they did, but that allowed Borges to tear up the softened pass coverage (when he wasn't in the damn power I, anyway). The key to stopping Denard is pressure -- he's hesitant to run and makes mistakes when he throws -- but I'm hoping he's improved with a second offseason working with Borges. Practice time counts for a LOT between a QB and an OC. Anyway, I don't care how good Alabama's D-line is; trying to stop Denard with a 3-4 means you'll need a DE to catch him on more than one occasion. That will NOT happen. They won't need 7-8 guys in the box either, but Denard should force them out of their base formations and that's when things will get interesting.
Kovacs. Not surprising I'd mention the co-captains, but when Kovacs is given room he almost never misses a tackle, even at full speed. Last season Mattison quickly noticed it and used all sorts of packages to get Kovacs to the ball. He's not the strongest or fastest guy on the field, but what I marvel most about him is he's so consistent. His positioning is almost always perfect, he takes great angles and pursuit speeds and he always hits the ball carrier with the right move. Go for the sideline and he'll shove you out. Try to juke him and he'll barrel into your knees. Try to power through him and he'll wrap you up perfectly -- you may get a couple extra yards, but that's all he's giving you. He's enough of a playmaker that teams drew up and executed plays specifically designed to draw him away from the point of attack. With Kovacs taking away the freebies, Alabama is content to grind out yards but that plays right into Mattison's hands. Speaking of which. . .
Mattison. Alabama is what Michigan was in the ye olde days of Yost -- they had the talent to beat anyone and rammed it down your throat. But they're not cocky; they're fundamentally sound and execute well. They're not stubborn or overly predictable, either. They may not throw to the post route often, but they will the first time you fall asleep covering it. That's naturally why everyone's cautious about Michigan's chances. But they don't have Mattison, who may well be the best defensive coordinator in the country. This guy has experience stopping the best offenses in the NFL. Alabama's O-line can handle just about any standard D-line attack in the book, but if anyone can prepare a scheme they aren't ready for, it's Mattison.
If Denard's dual-threat attack can shake Alabama's D out of its comfort zone and Mattison finds a way to confuse the O-line so they can't rely on athleticism and fundamentals alone, Michigan's got a chance.
|37 weeks 3 days ago||Breakdown breakdown||
Looks like Alabama brought back 3YAACOD (3 yards and a cloud of dust). It's a sign a program has supreme confidence in its superior talent. Talent they shouldn't have because of oversigning and other crap, but I digress. It's there, and Michigan's gotta deal with it.
KEY ON OFFENSE: Overload the zones. The weakness of zone is that no matter how disciplined you are, you can't be in two places at once. So the typical way to beat a Cover-1 or Cover-2 is to overload a zone. I'd start with trips on the strong side with Smith to Denard's left. Corner takes the wideout, robber covers the slot, but if they're all only about 5-10 yards down the deep safety's useless so SOMEONE will be open. On the strong side Denard starts out facing that direction so he can sling it right out of a pistol set before any help can get there and looking at his eyes won't help because all the receivers are in the same zip code. When they start cheating to the strong side, Denard can take off to his left behind Lewan and Smith. If 'Bama goes with a nickel package that's just proof it's working; we WANT them to go small. If that happens, time to break out some option runs. Run when they expect the pass; pass when they expect the run -- Sun Tzu's Football 101. What I dread is Borges getting stubborn with the run before things open up. If he runs on every first down we're dead. He needs to use the pass to open up the running game, which is the WCO philosophy in the first place.
KEY ON DEFENSE: Free up Kovacs. He's a sure tackler who can bring anyone down, if not instantly, but he can't punch his way through the O-line and they can't expect the D-line to hold on every play. If we try to match power with power their bigger O-line will grind them down, so at times Mattison's going to have to get creative, and that's just code for getting Kovacs to the ball. A TFL or sack on 2nd-and-4 that brings them back to a passing down takes 3YAACOD out of its comfort zone. 3YAACOD doesn't expect to get beat. The experienced secondary, if it stays composed, can limit the big plays, trickery and play action. Unfortunately Alabama is great at combination blocking, while Kovacs excels at tackling in space. So Mattison and the D-line will have to execute a form of role reversal, where they block the blockers -- they need those linemen to stay on them to give Kovacs a clear path to the ball carrier. They did that quite a bit last season and Mattison's good at keeping things confusing. Expect some stunts and Okie packages purely designed to overwhelm one side of the line, so a couple guys get double-teamed while others wind up blocking air. It doesn't need to be done often -- and in fact it should be used sparingly and deceptively -- but it needs to be a drive-killer. Michigan can't give Alabama 5-8 yards per run, and that's gonna be tough to do without giving them something they're not prepared for.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||There's a bit of a un-confirmation bias at work||
Brian's assessing like a risk-averse investor, which is typically a safe way to make predictions. If you have no info, you're really just guessing. In my heart I'm doing the same thing to avoid disappointment.
But college football isn't the NFL. Guys don't start for 5, 7, 10 years. They graduate and move on. So every year a number of your players will be untested. Experience, I think, is somewhat overrated. Experience helps you recognize stuff you can't taste in practice (as I said in another thread, there is no way Denard can help the defense prepare for a classic pick-'em-apart QB), but good coaches can at least help the kids prepare. FWIW I know guys in the cubicle world who'll boast of having "over 20 years experience" but they obviously haven't learned anything in the last 19 and a half.
So, a lot of these guys are untested? Welcome to college football. It'd be nice to have an entire two-deep of experienced seniors every season but that doesn't happen to ANY team. Any team we go up against will have the same issues -- or if they DO have an army of seniors, be staring at a mass exodus the next season.
/ "army of seniors" brings up a weird mental image
|37 weeks 4 days ago||Time to see what Mattison's done to these guys||
Bear in mind the D-line was written off the beginning of last season. Mattison came on board with plenty of respect, but few expected the D-line to be THAT good. I can say losing Mike Martin and RVB hurts, and it does, but that's part of college football. They're still working with guys they inherited from a coach that couldn't care less about defense. It's not like Mike Martin was some hand-picked treasure Mattison brought with him; he just happened to be (surprise, surprise) one of Hoke's proverbial "best eleven". This year's line is essentially the same situation all over again.
From what I can see, Mike Martin and RVB learned more in one year with Mattison than all their other years combined. The D-line went from thrashing around aimlessly to reading plays in one season. A couple of those guys will be the next to undergo transformation. We'll find out which BWC shows up against Alabama, but I think the next X-factor will be Quinton Washington. It was very hard to keep RVB and Mike Martin off the field last season; even when RVB was injured in the Sugar Bowl his ability to read plays was invaluable. He and Martin were on the same wavelength and when a college interior D-line is like that, you don't mess with it. Q now gets his chance and there's no shadow for him to hide behind, so we'll learn more about him in the first game than everything we've collected up to now.
As for BWC, for what it's worth, I was a loser in college until my senior year when I realized I had no time left. That's when I finally got sick of making excuses for failure. So not only do I want to believe BWC's finally got it, I personally know it happens. Sometimes a man grows up when he runs out of places to hide.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||Can't really afford to be pessimistic||
Michigan's offense was fine in a pragmatic sense -- productive if not perfect -- against ND and Iowa once Borges gave up the power I-form. MSU was a combination of freak weather and an inability to adjust. VT was an injury that completely robbed Molk of lateral movement. So, there were explanations for everything; "lack of talent" was never the limiting factor. My point is that last year, no defense stopped Michigan by itself. Either they got lucky or Borges (by his own admission) got stubborn. So IF Michigan's offense brings its A-game and the defense can hang tough without cracking, they have a chance against Alabama.
But those are the ifs, but we gotta start there or there's nothing ot discuss. If Borges is dumb enough to try to run right at Alabama's D-line, Denard unleashes the dragon or Michigan's D-line loses its composure, this won't be a contest.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||They'll have to play their hearts out.||
The key to beating a team like 'Bama will be mental toughness. They'll get pushed at the line, they'll get beat, and they'll get frustrated. They are going up against what is no doubt a team superior in talent and depth. We could be down by two touchdowns at halftime and that's if Michigan plays perfectly. The reason why I wouldn't lose hope is because not even the most disciplined defense in the country can stop Denard & Borges forever. RRod's offenses were explosive but if you keyed in on the right things he was exposed and shut down. Borges isn't as flashy but the only person who really stopped Borges was Borges, and he seems to have learned from the Iowa debacle. Mind you, Alabama's defense scares me more than the O-line (it held LSU to 9 points in two games FFS) but it's a new year and I don't think they've faced an offense quite like this. If Michigan can score at will against a Ohio State defense, 20+ isn't outrageous against Alabama. But this will depend on Denard not throwing picks (gulp).
The key, and I wouldn't trust this with any other coaching staff, is to keep those guys patient. Instead of giving up 2-3 yards a play, they might be giving up 7-8. On offense, they CAN'T afford to turn the ball over but a half a dozen punts won't kill them. Like in the VT game, as long as they don't crack, they can keep 'Bama out of the end zone. As long as they don't give up the big plays, if 'Bama's offense needs 10, 15, 20 plays to cross the field, they'll eventually make mistakes. Not even NFL offenses can operate perfectly for an entire game. This is what Hoke means by playing snap to whistle, and where Mattison's emphasis on technique and effort is significant. We may not recover a fumble; Alabama is a very conservative team. But a slip here, a late move there -- all the little things will matter. If ANY defense can do it, it's one prepped by Mattison. And the great news is that the back 7 -- the ones in charge of limiting big plays -- are experienced. They're not great, but Alabama can't count on any freebies.
What I'm leery about is that the line will be severely tested, and they're the least experienced. I'd give Michigan a 40% chance even if Martin and RVB were still here. I want to believe Big Will has changed, but even if he has, it's a lot to suddenly throw him up against the best OL in the country for four quarters. Mental discipline and consistency are what will win this game for Michigan and the D-line is unproven in both.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||I don't think they were needed this time||
The overall question quality was surprisingly high. It's not like they kept asking about BWC and Frank Clark over and over.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||Positives and negatives||
On the upside, Denard probably helped improve the line's edge contain. It was a weakness in the first half of last season, but to be fair they had a LOT to learn and edge contain is one of the tougher things to master. But toward the end it was a genuine strength. Michigan is probably one of the best defenses against the spread now because Denard is the fastest QB in the country. If you can handle him at all (and despite what he says above I know Mattison's a proud guy), anyone less is in for a long day.
On the downside, the best passer on this squad is Denard, and if you take away his legs he's not even mediocre. He softens his own coverage with his threat to run and even against defenses with 7-8 guys in the box he wasn't doing all that great. Michigan hasn't faced a first-round pick-'em-apart QB lately and won't this year, but Denard was SO bad (tho to be fair he was starting over) that the secondary basically figured it out on the field and NOTHING helped them prepare for DeVier Posey. Thank FSM the secondary is experienced now. Let's hope Denard's improved as well, because that impacts the pass defense as well as the running game.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||Linemen could learn a lot from sumo||
It's well-known that Mike Martin learned a lot about leverage from wrestling, but the problem with wrestling is that you can use the floor.
Americans often think of sumo as weird, but the fundamentals are very similar to football line play. You can't give up too much ground (if you step out of the ring you lose), and once you're on the ground you're done. There is a LOT of emphasis on footwork and hand placement.
The other thing people often don't notice about sumo wrestlers is speed. People look at the gut and turn their brains off, but even the big guys are deceptively fast. The biggest wrestlers don't do very well because they lose leverage to the quicker ones.
|37 weeks 4 days ago||Mealer||
Alabama's defense won't know what hit 'em.
/ sorry if this is too OT; I was gonna post in the OL thread but I was at work
|37 weeks 4 days ago||I don't know if it's gamemanship. . .||
. . . that's just the obnoxious reporters being bitter that Hoke isn't caving into their downright stupid insistence to keep asking about it. He even said flat-out that he's not comfortable talking about it, but they keep right on asking. Look, I know it's the media's business to collect info, but it's insulting to think Hoke will finally crack the 1000th time he's asked.
Sorry, I digress. Channeling my own inner Hoke, I think Toussaint will play -- but won't start. He'll be forced to sit and stew for a series or two, maybe a quarter or even a half (depending on how well the team does). The reason for this is that nothing is more agonizing to a player than knowing you can play and sitting on the sideline watching your team struggle. Not that I think Michigan is cannon fodder for Alabama, but without Fitz they WILL struggle.
But the thing about these sorts of punishments is you can't tip your hand. He's not keeping the scoop from us or the media; he's keeping it from Fitz. Fitz isn't a dumb guy; he knows how to wwebsite as on the Internet. If Hoke tells the media, he's basically told Fitz. Fitz's punishment is most likely to sit on the sideline and stew, not knowing when he's allowed to play, while Hoke explains that he's watching what could've been if he was just a bit unluckier and got in an accident. Sort of like "It's a Wonderful Life" where Hoke is Clarence. For some reason the media is too blitheringly stupid to understand this -- I mean, I don't know what's really going on, but at least I have enough brain cells to know that Hoke is keeping Fitz in the dark.
I really doubt this has anything to do with Alabama or even deception. Not that my conjecture is better than your conjecture -- well it is, but only because I'm awesome and stuff.
|37 weeks 6 days ago||Well, whaddya know||
"The problem with them is having the academics that they’ve had … the two weeks of that, we really haven’t had them as long as you would have at most places."
Michigan has standards. No one ever said doing the right thing was easy. I will root for them as long as they do.
"If you have a lot of pride, then knowing the challenge that’s ahead of you is going to -- you’re going to think about it and you’re going to work to be able to stand up to that challenge. I don’t think it’s pressure. Pressure to me is only when you’re not prepared. I think this group is getting prepared."
To heck with football; this guy could run anything. I'd work for him if he ran a lemonade stand.
/ who's this "File" guy and why is he wearing Greg Mattison's face
|38 weeks 3 days ago||There are plenty of kids in this country||
I disagree with the notion that Michigan is poaching recruits -- at least, in any way that affects MSU adversely. Hoke is primarily going after players that fit his game, and there are millions of kids in the country. College is more about finding and developing talent; in some cases Hoke's crew discovered talent before the scouts did.
The difference maker isn't that MSU's recruiting will be affected by Michigan, but that Michigan's recruiting has dramatically improved. MSU could be right where they've been and things still don't look good for them, because -- despite their recent dominance -- MSU still has an insane inferiority complex. When Michigan does well they don't and it has little to do with in-state poaching. It's about not setting your own standard. If I sell Dragonchild (TM) brand chum with the pitch "dogs prefer it over Acme chum" and then some TV show does a blind taste test and my product LOSES, I'm in a lot more trouble than if I just sold my product straight-up. By making their season all about Beating Michigan, their coach is playing a risky emotional game. It's a subtle difference, but while Hoke emphasizes beating Ohio, every time he's asked what the team's goal is he's adamantly insisted it's winning the conference. He wants to beat MSU and Ohio, but he never measures the team based on those results. On the other hand, MSU went after Denard with a savageness I didn't see in any other game -- not even the conference championship (where that vaunted defense was as leaky as the Titanic) or their bowl game. In fact, after the Michigan game, their defense allowed 24ppg. That's a team that doesn't know what it's like to lose to Michigan. I could be wrong, but by making his team all about this inferiority complex I wonder if he's setting himself up for a disaster come the day Michigan reclaims the Paul Bunyan trophy.
Since the trophy existed, MSU has never beaten Michigan five years in a row.
|38 weeks 5 days ago||Nitpick||
"Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship"
I know this is the media just being the media and only to respect Brian Griese, but as long as public forums exist for this sort of thing I'll say my two cents.
I don't feel Brian Greise "led" the team in any way laymen will understand because that team didn't ride him. He was needed for a few comebacks (namely Iowa) and sustained drives, but I could say that about anyone on that team. It's one of many reasons it's my 2nd favorite college team of all-time. If anyone was leaned on heavily it was Charles Woodson, but he was far more of a go-to guy than a leader or a voice.
Brian Griese? He was -- and I use this term respectfully -- a "cog" QB. He wasn't a playmaker and he knew it. He was relied on to do his job, not let his ego sabotage the offense Brett Favre style. I mean, he did all the QB things that are hard to do -- make reads, make throws -- but it actually takes some smarts to know your limitations and work within them. Tai Streets could have one step of separation from the DB on a post route but if they were down 3 in the 3rd quarter and Tuman was open for a first down, Greise was expected to make the easy play and he did. Don't panic, trust your teammates, make your plays, torture the other team with patience and persistence. Brian Griese was a key part of that, but to say the most "3YAACOD" offense in a generation with FOUR running backs was "led" by a QB is kinda lazy.
Meh, I'm making a mountain out of a molehill and I know it, but it rankled for some reason.
|1 year 3 days ago||It IS spin||
Of course it's spin. Few schools will claim to recruit from a position of weakness; they're going to tell every kid they got exactly what they were looking for. So of course it qualifies as spin, depending who says it. However, when you say it's a "compromise" it's only in the context that scholarships aren't unlimited -- it's not like Hoke is leaving superior talent on the table, per se. The distinction here is that Hoke's crew has been reeling in 4-stars like gangbusters. So when they commit to a 3-star early, frankly, the claim that they "think they're unlikely to get 4/5 stars" doesn't hold water. The rankings were FP-ed for eff's sake.
This is kind of like, well, we have the budget for a luxury car, but I fell in love with this model and stopped shopping right there. Unless you're rich you certainly limit your future [car-buying] options, but that doesn't make your early decision ill-advised if you know you made the right decision. Whether it is the right decision is beside my point, though. My point is they're taking in guys they want, not necessarily finding the best recruits (though there's strong evidence they're doing that too). Even a 5-star can flop (*cough*Campbell*cough*).
You're right about one thing, though. . . what matters is the results. In the end, the rankings aren't going to matter if these teams don't win games.
|1 year 4 days ago||Not turn away, per se||
"I think you're point is that Michigan is choosing these 3-star types in preference to 4 and 5-star types, but I'm not sure you can say that."
Well, let me rephrase that a little. I think they'd prefer a 4- or 5-star, but in absence of an immediate availability they're willing to commit a 3-star early. Even if there may not be a pending 4-star commitment, they've taken a scholarship off their books (at least unofficially) and unlike some scummy bastards there's no word that Michigan is oversigning. This IS significant because when you commit to a 3-star earlier than you need to and DON'T oversign, you've limited your own future recruiting options.
Consider a team that committed a 3-star QB early. Then a 5-star recruit becomes available. What's your pitch? If you have NO QB commits (e.g., having turned down a 3-star) you can say, "We're a top school and you're our guy." Kids like hearing that. If you've already got a 3-star, you CAN assure the 5-star that he's "the guy", but you leave some lingering thoughts you pray don't get asked:
1) Would I really be competing with the 3-star for a spot?
2) You recruited him first; what did you tell him?
3) If I'm "the guy", why'd you sign the 3-star?
I'm not saying these questions can't be answered. There are just a lot of reasons to not nab a 3-star early if you think there's any reason at all why you can't recruit a 4- or 5-star later. Kids may be commodities to coaches and may even realize that on some level, but they don't like being TOLD that. So when Hoke takes a 3-star it's not because he can't do better, he's willing to risk a weaker future recruiting position to take this kid. He may whiff on his assessment, but there has to be a degree of confidence in what they saw. This is different from a school that's recruiting a 3-star because every 4-star is already taken or unlikely to sign.
|1 year 5 days ago||I like the why and how||
When Michigan takes a 3-star, it's because they saw something they like. They're not relying exclusively on ratings, and they're not taking 3-stars because the 4-stars turned them down. These are both positive developments that indicate the incoming 3-stars aren't necessarily second fiddles.
|1 year 1 week ago||Flawed methodology is flawed||
If we had a huge sample size I wouldn't be picky, but we don't. I know, I know, it's all in good fun, so just consider this a disclaimer of sorts.
Personnel changes, coaching changes, injury, schedule, evolution of the game and Tacopants having a bad season can all contribute to seasonal variations. I would expect a trend of improvement if we had, say, 300 or so senior QBs to study, but 14 going back to 1970?
Now, I get the point of the first part of the post is that Michigan has had relatively few senior QBs, but you can't have it both ways. If we're lean on data, we're lean on analysis. As for Michigan having good seasons with senior QBs, the sample size is small AND missing context. We had a few bad years but Michigan IS a traditional powerhouse. I mean, Wolverines call 8-4 a mediocre season; WSU would be ecstatic to do so well.
|1 year 2 weeks ago||A better way to limit concussions. . .||
. . . is to just not tackle with your effin' head. Honestly, this has been perpetuated by idiot coaches and players. Not only is it dangerous, it's bad technique. Any DC that demands, even permits their players to use their head as a weapon should be fired on the spot. You don't bring down a 200-pound ballcarrier with the lightest extremity of your body.
Some of my favorite defenders are sure tacklers, and AFAIK NONE of them use their heads except to think. The head isn't heavy compared to a torso, it's an extremity attached by a series of flexible joints.
One example: Jordan Kovacs is a joy to watch. He knows how to use his body to bring a guy down. I majored in physics so seeing him on the field fires vectors in my nerdy brain. If he has to make a stop at the first-down marker, he'll throw his torso into the guy's chest to absorb all the momentum over a large area. Against a big dude, he'll barrel into the legs, converting his linear momentum into torque that flips the guy over. If the ball carrier is near the sideline, he'll deliver a lateral blow that very efficiently knocks the guy out of bounds. And in the open field, he'll wrap-and-roll with beautiful form.
The problem is that Kovacs' technique isn't desired by modern defenses that expect linebackers and defensive backs to basically stop running backs by themselves, and as close to the LoS as possible (so every yard counts). Bringing the guy down isn't enough; his forward motion has to be stopped. To equalize the momentums (and p=mv) they have to make up for any lack of mass with speed, so the punishment they're inflicting on themselves is like repeatedly throwing yourself at a brick wall at full tilt. Even without direct head impact, the brain is constantly exposed to G-shocks, and the cumulative damage is equivalent to trauma. This is a major problem and tougher to fix, but when I'm also seeing head hits at the NFL level I can't help but think that no one cares what happens to these people.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||To explain where the MMB is coming from||
Disclaimer: I'm not part of the band now, but if the MMB today is anything like what it was 10 years ago, I think I can speak for their mentality regarding this trip. Also, this isn't to dig up yesterday's flamewar. This is just me channeling my inner band nerd:
The MMB is NOT treating this as being robbed of a free vacation. As I said yesterday:
". . . the band can be rather 'gung ho' about its duty. Honestly, Dallas sucks. But if you're told there were plans to send you somewhere and then you're dropped off those plans like you don't matter, you get insulted. It doesn't matter if 'there' is Detroit or Dallas. If you hear you were supposed to go, you want to go."
Honestly, road trips suck. They're not fun. And Dallas sucks. But if the MMB hears there were plans to deploy them, and they're nixed for reasons that -- good or bad -- could in no way be unanticipated, it's insulting. They don't want to go because "yay, free vacation" -- frankly it's a lot of work and lost time and travel fatigue. It really sucks hauling your textbooks around and doing homework on a plane or bus. No, they want to go because they felt they were wanted -- and nowthey feel like they got tossed out the back of a truck. The band practices many hours a week to represent the University, so they take it rather personally when they're tossed aside.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||OK, I can't speak for everyone||
But if you're gonna go there, you can't speak for them either. FWIW, I was in the band so I know pretty well what the road schedule (or lack thereof) is like.
"why would anyone think this year's band would get special treatment?"
Because it was in the contract? I'm not complaining that I never got to go to a road game outside the Midwest. But the band can be rather "gung ho" about its duty. Honestly, Dallas sucks. But if you're told there were plans to send you somewhere and then you're dropped off those plans like you don't matter, you get insulted. It doesn't matter if "there" is Detroit or Dallas. If you hear you were supposed to go, you want to go. At least, that's the way we saw it when I marched.
"And enough with that contract nonsense, none of you had any idea that was in there."
No we didn't. I read the whole story all at once, and given the facts at hand I'm pissed they were in the contract and now are getting written off. I wasn't aware there was some unspoken rule that I had to know some part of the story in advance of others.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Correction||
Sticking to a budget is tough if you're like me, a common shlub with a fixed income and a job in a high cost-of-living area.
Sticking to a budget is tough if you're Congress when just about anyone will want free money and no one likes paying taxes.
Sticking to a budget is tough if you're the owner of the New York Mets. Because, well, they're the Mets.
But, you know, you can kinda stop talking like the University of Michigan Athletic Department is on food stamps.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Fine||
Just don't have Dave Brandon effin' lie to me saying he can't afford it. That's BS. I may not agree with whatever reasons you're coming up with but at least they make some level of consistent sense. But these are not the reasons DB is stating. Don't carry water for this dude when he's making outrageously obvious lies. He should have the guts to speak for himself.
Michigan's getting a lot of money to play this game and he is nixing pre-existing plans for alleged monetary reasons. I'm only 5% pissed the team will be taking on Alabama without the band (again, you and I know the band doesn't travel often in the first place) and 95% pissed about the snow job. Honestly and in all seriousness, he'd do less damage to his rep with me if he just stopped the political BS and just said something like, "Well, I just decided I'm a greedy stingy corporate bastard and don't care about the band so I'm gonna have the team face Alabama without their support to save a measly $400k." Of course I wouldn't be happy to hear something like that, but at least I'd know what to expect. You know what I hate about liars? It's very, very difficult to get anything done around them because nothing they say can be considered information. It's not ideal, but I can work with an asshole. Telling me we're getting paid a lot of money but there's no money. . . WTF am I supposed to do with that?
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Except you're wrong about one thing.||
This isn't "everyone's" niche project. This "niche" project is Dave Brandon's himself.
If Dave Brandon thought this was a bad idea for monetary reasons, he could've easily omitted the MMB from the contract in the first place and probably gotten away with it. But setting aside seats and then crying "no money" is what makes that surplus a very conspicuous thing.
A surplus isn't something to piss away, no. I certainly wouldn't advocate pissing away a surplus on any random road trip. But gee, I'd say
FULFILLING THE CONDITIONS OF A CONTRACT BRANDON ARRANGED HIMSELF
is a rather justifiable reason to dig into money you know you have. Especially when it's a one-time expenditure that would consume less than 4% of that surplus.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Again||
The band, and people who care about the band, are A-OK with the band not being at every road game.
We're pissed because there were real plans to send them, and they got nixed for BS reasons.
You tell the team and fans the band is going with them and then say, "oops, sorry, costs too much" while sitting on an $11 million pile of money, people are gonna be pissed you broke your promise, VERY pissed it's for no good reason and EXTREMELY pissed that you're flat-out lying about it.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||"They deal with MMB travel. . . every year for bowl trips"||
It's not that the band is needed for road trips. They're not.
It's not that the band is cheap to move. They're not. In addition to a large squad of about 250 members, they cart around an awful lot of large, fragile and expensive instruments. A bunch of sousaphones are more problematic than pads, which you can basically toss around in bags as they're designed to take hits. No one is saying they're a cheap date.
It's not that the band travels a lot. They don't. 1-2 road trips a year, by bus.
It's not that this is even remotely typical for a band trip. It's quite exceptional they even considered it.
It's that this trip was planned as far as contracting seats for the band, and now suddenly out of the effin' blue, DB is behaving as if he's shocked about costs the band incurs EVERY EFFIN' YEAR IN BOWL GAMES. This is a goddamn budget line item that would've taken fifteen seconds on the phone with the AD accountant to verify and this guy -- who ran a business for crying out loud -- is yanking the plug like it's Hurricane Katrina. Because of. . . what? He's shocked, shocked that the band (gasp!) costs money to travel -- just like it has for every single bowl game they've marched in??
Let me be clear: If there was never a plan to send the band in the first place, there'd be zero outrage. The issue is that actually planning to send the band, once you commit to it, is a good, popular idea and we all kinda thought he'd figured the cost to send them to Dallas because, you know, we figured a guy who ran a company and hired Hoke would not be retarded. If we're allowed to keep that underlying assumption in place, he has zero excuse to act all shocked and change his mind about it. It's not a money problem; the AD has a huge surplus. It's not a surprise, as the MMB has been to many bowl games. It's not any problem other than I some inexplicable I don't know what the hell is going on, like the Alabama drum major has compromising pictures of DB in a hotel room with a ruminant or something.
There was zero justifiable reason to cancel this plan. It's like parents scheduling a birthday party for a kid and then canceling it because never in their wildest dreams did they imagine a cake would -- zounds! -- cost money. No sane person would seriously argue a kid HAS to have a party, but gimme a goddamned break, what the hell did he expect? It's the 180 that's pure stupid, and that's why he's getting heat for it.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||And this. . .||
Is precisely why I don't like user-moderated forums.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||I agree there. . .||
. . . but I've also never been in a game quite like this. Traveling to East Lansing or Columbus was generally a drag, and Dallas is no paradise, but given the money's there and the contract's there and the team is traveling a long distance to play a very tough and high-profile opponent I daresay it's COMMON EFFIN' SENSE to bring the only group on the planet tasked with playing the University of Michigan fight song. This isn't some free vacation for the band; when I was in the band I wanted to go to away games to support the team. When Joe Pedoterno unilaterally nixed a trip to PSU we were pissed even though it gave us back our weekend.
This is Michigan, fergodsakes. We're not some damn FCS team scraping by; we've got a multi-million-dollar surplus and the band is the face of the university. You wanna talk money? What about showing all the fans in Texas and Alabama what the MMB is made of? What about giving the TV cameras more maize and blue uniforms to show? What about giving the team a sound, a piece of the crowd to rally around when Alabama starts attacking them? You have to be the worst bean-counter on the planet to not see the numerous upsides of bringing the band there.
Is DB really that unbelievably stupid?? He's the AD for the University of Michigan and doesn't understand what the band means to the school, the coaches or the team? Brady Hoke himself said he liked to listen to the band and he hired the guy!!
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Not be properly appreciated?||
By whom? You?
Who else should rally the team by playing "The Victors"? Suggestions?
|1 year 4 weeks ago||It's not a torn ACL||
|1 year 4 weeks ago||On "Etc."||
"At Oregon — like Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and so on — unless a play is really a disaster they simply run the next play and make corrections in the film room or after practice or before the next one, just as it is with a game. As Sam Snead once said, “practice is putting brains in your muscles,” and the up-tempo no-huddle makes practice all the more efficient at doing just that."
NO IT DOES NOT.
OK, the idea that no-huddle forces defenses to make less substitutions and adjustments is compelling, but now we're getting into BS territory here. If someone makes a mistake you don't correct it? Well then they'll just keep on doing that mistake until the mistake becomes second nature. Congrats; one of your players developed a bad habit because you were too busy to fix it when you had a chance.
Practice isn't doing something and then pointing out what went wrong in the tape room. OK, that happens to an extent, but only because the tape room is where you can do more in-depth instead of real-time analysis. It's when you're looking for more in-depth stuff. But a lot of practice is picking up on mistakes and correcting them BEFORE the muscle memory sets in. Letting guys do their things for two hours just to keep practices moving isn't necessarily efficient if the goal is to improve. Sure, having the whole team stand around isn't efficient either, but I presume that's why they have position coaches. If, say, a CB blows an assignment, you can pull him aside for the secondary coach to chat with him while the DC continues with the rest of the squad.
I smell some journalistic embellishment here.
|1 year 4 weeks ago||Ugh||
That pissed me off as well. . . until I saw the whole thing. He punched Lewan because Lewan grabbed his facemask and drove his head into the dirt. I got MOAR pissed off. Hoke should've yanked Lewan. MSU may be OK with being the bad guy, but I don't like a Michigan that tolerates its own thuggery.
All in all, the more I see of that game the less I enjoy it, and not because MSU won. Both sides were dirty as all hell, trying to cripple each other, and that's just bad football. Bad for MSU, bad for Michigan. The refs should've shut that shit down, but both teams own their own dirt.
|1 year 6 weeks ago||Non-answers to non-questions||
The players were obviously coached to give non-answers to dumb questions. Reporters like these are scum, absolute scum -- the line of questioning is one I'm all too familiar with. If it's not chummy crap no one cares about ("What’s Will like off the field?"), they want the young players to say things so they can play up a scandal:
What areas can the team improve on in the next two weeks?
You talk about expectations for the position -- is it different for the corners?
Can you talk about some of the other corners you’re competing with?
What have you seen from Denard from your vantage point this spring? (Bear in mind they're asking a defensive back)
Which receiver gives you the most trouble in practice?
So there isn’t one guy that gets the better of you in practice and maybe ticks you off a little? You wouldn’t even say if there was, would you.
. . . and that's just one interview. Who the hell is being allowed to ask this shit?? They'll march down the roster for ten hours in the hopes of finding that one set of loose lips, and the more they're denied, the hungrier they get. I mean something as simple as "yeah, there was one play where JT got burned by Roy" and they'll be all up and headlines about how the camaraderie is cracking and "so-and-so doesn't get along with JT" and JT is about to drop out of Michigan or something. So the underclassmen are under VERY strict orders to not get cute with the media. Note the seniors have a little more leeway (guys like RVB were trusted to talk a little more openly towards the end of the season), while Borges and Mattison can basically say whatever they want.
It's not like I have inside knowledge, but that's exactly how I see their responses being coached. These answers indicate zero trust that the underclassmen can speak their minds to the media, and with good reason -- questions like these deserve zero trust. If anything, the whole damn thing was a farce and makes me want to stop living on this planet. Stop interviewing underclassmen forgodsakes; it's obvious what you're after and it's sickening to watch and HOKE IS ON TO YOUR BULLSHIT.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Movies||
Some movies I've enjoyed over the years include Charade (1963), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and The 39 Steps (1935). I was born in 1977. I don't mind the hate (I did post arguably irrelevant content that wasn't going to entertain everyone and hell, the Internet would troll the Bard himself were he alive today), but I think being born in the wrong decade isn't a good excuse for missing a classic.
Peter Graves also carried himself. His deadpan demeanor in the movie was a parody of his more serious roles in the old Mission: Impossible series, but I enjoyed his performance knowing nothing about his prior roles.
I didn't know about Elroy Hirsch, but it's interesting how everything always goes back to U-M athletics. There's apparently even an autobiographical movie about Hirsch, Crazylegs (1953), starring himself. I think we can safely give that one a pass, though.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Hoke's not stupid||
He knows his players are curious about what the media says about them, so despite what they say, some read the news and word gets around.
It's painfully obvious he's using the "assume anything you say will be read by everyone you know" rule. He could just talk in platitudes, but instead he's using the media in his own way.
If he wants Hopkins to know he's gained weight, this is one way of getting in his head.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Inspiration source|
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Desmond Morgan||
It was the best I could do.
Prolly not the most appropriate content for this blog, but if it gets a few laughs it'll be worth the downrate.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Meh||
The sense I got was, he's got bigger things to worry about.
I know sports media can get shamelessly vicious, but if you can't handle the pressure of a damn interview you're probably not made of the stuff that can handle a Big Televwelve O-line. Sure, the media should be more respectful, but if you're worried about Will in a situation like this it's gonna be a long season.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Not to knock actual experience. . .||
. . . but humans have passed down knowledge from generation to generation using words. Hoke doesn't teach "pad level" to his recruits by pointing here and there and grunting "ugh".
So, while I'd be the last person on Earth to claim I can properly execute getting off a block, I know what leverage is.
|1 year 7 weeks ago||There are multiple penalties on the field.||
Defense, 32 Campbells on the field. Five yard penalty.
Defense, copyright infringement. $500 million penalty and loss of blog.
/ This penalty brought to you by Campbell's
// The game is corporatist enough fergodsakes
|1 year 7 weeks ago||LOLWUT?||
"YOU try learning to do a thing that your brain is sure is going to break your spine."
Well, that's a good way to see it, I guess.
I dunno, maybe it's my physics major brain, but whenever I need any sort of leverage my first instinct is to "get low" and I've never played so much as a single down in pads. Otherwise you're angling some of your strength upwards and even pushing heavy furniture will "stand you up". Like with lifting heavy boxes, sure, if you try to use your back it's a great way to blow it out, but this is really about using your feet and legs to exert force horizontally.
I dunno, do we have Will push around a car all day or something?
|1 year 7 weeks ago||Question||
When analysts gauge speed, are they actually comparing against some consistent benchmarks, or are they just watching a guy run a drill?
Few things are easier to deceive than human eyes. This is well-established. Even a veteran MLB hitter can get lulled by Jamie Moyer changeups into grounding out on an 82mph "fastball". Point is, even well-trained eyes that know what's coming can have their ability to gauge speed thrown off by as few as 3-4 pitches in the middle of a game. So, I'd be leery of any opinion made about a guy running an open-field drill after an offseason. Human vision adjusts too easily. Frankly, it's what the occipital lobe is wired to do; if your vision DOESN'T adjust then there is something seriously wrong with your brain.
The only real antidote is measuring against consistency. For example, everyone by now knows that Jordan Kovacs is a very consistent tackler in space. By his senior year we have a good enough sample of his work ethic and capability to use him as a measuring stick. If a freshman makes him miss with a slick move, now, I'll call that quick. It sounds subjective but it's actually the opposite.
Now if the analysts have done that, great, but unfortunately I don't see any context. I also don't know these analysts, so whether they're scientific about it or egomaniacal about it makes a huge difference on how I interpret something like "impressive young guy".
|1 year 8 weeks ago||Well, it has its strengths and weaknesses||
Everyone wants a line that's big AND fast, and if you had to pick between the two, big generally beats fast on the line. The reason why is the power running game. If your line loses to their line, then they can just go "hell with it". O-line forms a wedge and they just pound up the middle for 3-5 yards every down. A quick line might have an advantage against the passing game but the offense won't even need it. If you ever give your opponent the power running game, you lose.
So, with a smaller line, things get a little desperate. Desperate isn't hopeless, though. Smaller lines have held their own against larger lines -- don't get me wrong, they're always the underdog -- but you can compensate for small size somewhat with good swarming tactics (e.g., aggressive LB play at the gaps), weight shifting and quick stunts. If you just attack the blockers, you lose. But for example, two 250-pound guys will have a huge mass advantage over a 300-pound blocker. If the O-line sees it coming they'll just push the help out of the play (because one of the guys is sure to be angled away from the ball), so the key is to beat 'em with trickery & technique -- zone blitzes, stunts, etc. Double-teaming is the O-line's speciality, so you have to play well and keep them off-balance, and that's tough to do for 40+ plays. But it's been done. Basically attack the weak spots, which will invariably lead to a lot of weakside pursuits -- but as long as the ball carrier's still behind the LOS, well, that's what your speed is for.
|1 year 9 weeks ago||And now the X-factor||
Last time it was "playmakers" -- the guy who defies conventional roles, like the tight end with a wide receiver's speed or a defensive tackle who can force a pitch on a speed option. These will turn "rock" into "super-rock" or whateva to make even the correct decision turn out badly.
This time it's field position. Note the "Tampa 2 zone" assigns the "deep middle" to the MLB. This is why Tampa 2 is often associated with a smaller MLB with good speed, but it also makes clear why some defenses (like Michigan) are short-yardage, "bend don't break" defense and some offenses (like Air Raid) "can't score in the red zone".
Imagine that defense is set up at the 50-yard line. The wideouts are mixing up routes to keep the corners and safeties occupied. Then a guy like Odoms lines up in the slot position and tears up the field in a "post" route while the wideouts curl. Per the Tampa-2 scheme, the guy responsible for this route is a linebacker. A slotback against a MLB is a mismatch, especially with a run threat making the MLB read the inside blocking before backpedaling. The wideout curls mean the safeties are nowhere near the play. Slotback is one-on-one in open field with a non-DB -- no chance, free TD. Forcing the opponent to play away from its strengths is a key to winning. (There are defensive adjustments that lead to other, more efficient ways to break down the Tampa-2, but bear with me -- this is to illustrate a point.) It would take a "playmaker" MLB to prevent that, which is frankly why every Tampa-2 tries to scout just such a linebacker.
But. . . now try the same thing in the red zone. The wideouts run their routes. . . then stop. Odoms runs to the post. . . then gets there. Now all three receivers are about the same distance from the LOS with nowhere to go except kinda shifting back and forth hoping the QB will find them. There's nowhere to stretch the zones so the defensive backs don't need to range as much; the receivers can't get separation and there's safety help everywhere. You're not doing anything differently, but the field has neutralized your advantage. An "Air Raid" offense is notorious for piling up yards but if the wideout doesn't reach the end zone on the big play, the offense can stall completely. On the other hand, MANBALL works well in these situations (it doesn't require space to work) but in other cases basically plays with limited parts of field even when there's an awful lot of downfield pasture available. Quick Cover-2 defenders can maintain tight zones and move to the ball without fear of getting burned. The key to beating range-y defenders with MANBALL is to just blow them backwards with power, but now you can kinda see how scheme and personnel are so closely related. You can't blow back a Cover-2 secondary MANBALL style with an option QB and slotback. (I could go on but I've made my point and these counter-counter punches can get uber-complex very quickly.)
|1 year 10 weeks ago||Since when did they amp the band?||
I was in the band through '99 and they never, ever once amped us. That was all lung power, baby. You DON'T want to amp us because when we spread out over the field there's some sound lag from one end of the formation to the other as it is. (It's shorter than a second, but long enough to be obvious to even untrained ears.) If you take that into a mic and play that back you've more than DOUBLED the lag at which point the sound will just smear all over the stadium. We've played inside domes with disastrous results because you'll be still hearing the same notes up to 3 seconds later when we're already on a different part of the piece. To this day I hate domes.
The MMB faces the boxes when they play. The Big House is shaped like a shallow bowl, so before the expansion most of the sound was reflected up into the sky; the planes overhead probably heard us better than the people behind us. I wouldn't trade the Big House for any other but it's actually a gawdawful place for live music. The band compensates with some very rigidly drilled fundamentals that at least allows one section to get a "full sound" experience. (Once a year before the season started we'd practice in an emptied Big House and our goal was to make the sound so crisp you get three echoes despite almost nothing to reflect the sound efficiently.) What the expansion did is create an acoustic barrier (all that glass y'know) that reflects the sound to the rest of the stadium. I haven't heard the band since that was built, but I'd love to hear the difference.
When the band rehearses at Elbel Field the sound will ricochet off the nearby buildings and can be heard a half a mile away. You want to amp that?? We're the MMB for god's sake; we don't need no stinkin' amps.
|1 year 10 weeks ago||Not just that||
The orange-y yellow looks like gold without the metallic sheen. (Which makes sense, because gold is actually metallic orange.)
So, y'know, if we completely lacked school pride and didn't mind being confused with Notre Dame then I guess blue and orange will work, but I'd prefer otherwise.
|1 year 10 weeks ago||Profanity||
"the elder McCray (right) was a captain at OSU."
"The Oklahoma and Tennessee offers obviously stand out; despite the lack of an Ohio State offer, McCray was generating national attention when he decided to commit."
Watch your words, Ace. We don't use that kind of language 'round these parts.
|1 year 10 weeks ago||Soapbox Moment||
"Even as they were playing, I hated them. They invented being Terrelle Pryor. When we talk about how easy it is to root for Michigan's teams these days, the unstated subtext is always thank God they're nothing like Maurice Taylor.
"Yes yes: socioeconomic something something, The Wire, Bomani Jones and Jason Whitlock, etc. Doesn't change the fact that Denard Robinson is a joy and Taylor sulked around the court putting in just enough effort to get a B- while taking a bunch of money from a guy he'd been told to stay away from, then rolled his SUV with Mateen Cleaves in it."
Lemme indulge for a moment (I'll risk a downrate if I have to) and explain why this shit matters. The pressure on young athletes to compromise these days is downright staggering. While Hoke preaches family, other schools are throwing parties and hookers at their recruits -- and mind you, it's going to result in some recruiting losses. Frankly I'm amazed they're doing as well as they have, what with slimeheads like Tressel preaching one thing and doing another, confusing their moral compasses, making "image" a matter of appearances, teaching them to take the easy way out.
I detest it not only because it's unethical. I loathe it because when I was a teenager, I was an idiot. Like any other kid I dreamt of athletic success but in hindsight I'd say it's a good thing I'm a nobody. Seriously! Now that I know better, I shudder to think of how I might've wrecked my life if I had any sort of athletic ability schools were interested in.
So why does all this matter? OK, the selfish angle is that I want to root for a team without wanting to throw up, but no one cares about that. We can get into good feelings & chemistry and blah blah but we all know it's bullshit. Talent wins, and without wins a coach gets fired. So why does it really matter? Two things: Defining moments and magic. To today's sociopathic and materialistic American, these are words used by self-help books and cynical Disney producers because it means nothing to them. Why would it? You can't value a feeling you've never experienced. In contrast, note how many Michigan athletes continue to represent the University long after they leave. They don't do it for fame or money; they have plenty of both. It's because UofM was a part of their lives far more significant than just a career launch pad. If you followed Michigan's journey last year to the Sugar Bowl, or this team's journey to the Big Ten championship, you know what I'm talking about. These men will refer to themselves as "Michigan Men" as long as they live. Not to take credit away from one or the other, but were I a recruit the crap they went through would play just as much a role in bringing back Michigan as anything the coaches did. I want to be a part of a team that has my back when life's in the gutter, not some chimp-style tribe of mercs looking to dominate the pack until they move on to the next thing. I want banners I can point to as a bitter old fart and not croak to a bunch of whippersnappers, "Lemme tell you what they did to get that," in shame, but angrily yap, "Lemme tell you the crap they overcame to EARN that."
Michigan's hard-fought wins this year mean so much more to me than they would've if they did all the things that got schools like Alabama or Ohio State in trouble. . . or Michigan back in the Fab Five days. I don't just root for laundry and my heart can't feel for mercenaries. I don't care if I'm the last American who feels this way and the entire damn world winds up against me; this is the only way I know how to live and why my excitement for Michigan athletics is at an all-time high right now. These Wolverines are famous because they won, but to me they're memorable because of what they are.
So, that's my bit. These sorts of feelings are "naive" or "cheesy" or "stupid" or whatever these days, but I'm gonna enjoy this ride as long as it lasts.
|1 year 11 weeks ago||Problem with the Combine||
Obviously I rooted for Martin and Molk (though I'm surprised by Hemingway), but I've never been a fan of the Combine because it rewards all the wrong skills. It's one reason why Ryan Leaf got drafted #2 while Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round. Tom Brady was able to add strength and speed to his frame, but you can't give a Wazzu QB brains. I disagree with the fallacy that draft status has NO correlation with NFL performance. That said, there are exceptions, and I generally find the exceptions are due to too much attention to the wrong details -- including, but not limited to, the Combine.
It certainly helps that dudes who can play do well at the Combine, and I think that's what we see here with Martin. That said, a lot of "game speed" and "game strength" are really vision, leverage and decision-making. You could bench press 400 pounds, but if your balance and leverage are bad, you could by applying as little as half that strength on your opponent. Mike Martin generally doesn't make that mistake, making his Combine numbers lethal. You can run through some cones quickly, but cones don't move on their own. If a DL is constantly having to re-set his feet reacting to the play, "speed" really isn't even the right word anymore to describe just how slowly the lineman moves through the field. This in part could explain why Hemingway couldn't get separation -- he's got quickness but never had a knack for using it without the ball in his hands. I don't remember details but I get the feeling he was a "by the book" route runner, meaning he didn't try many moves on the guy covering him for fear the delay would disrupt Denard's timing. When the ball's already in his hands and there's no more timing to worry about, he's like, "Fark it, now I can do my Barry Sanders thing."
The book on Dontari Poe is that he's basically just a big mauler. Despite being a Combine freak he didn't really dominate on the field. He did require a double-team but a lack of quickness meant he could be controlled -- or just ridden out of the play. Martin didn't get as many reps as Poe, but he's a wrestler -- what muscles he does have will be very efficiently applied in oh so painful ways. On the other hand, he is short for an NFL tackle, so despite being stronger than many O-linemen he may have problems with leverage. The mistake here is that NFL scouts will say, "Well, you can develop Poe's quickness but you can't make Mike Martin grow any taller." That's hypothetically true ONLY if you assume every player out of college can be taught, and scouts really underrate work ethic. I don't know Poe, but my point isn't to pick on Poe so much as focus on how NFL scouts are often overly optimistic in that "he'll be perfect for me once I change him" way.
|1 year 11 weeks ago||I pondered that||
Denard's good, really good. But I don't know if he fits my "technical" definition of "playmaker" because as an option QB he's rather conventional -- he's small and quick with questionable throwing ability. My point is that within the context of this discussion Denard's not a "playmaker" in that he blows up the rock-paper-scissors game. You defend him like you'd defend any option QB -- contain the edge and make him beat you through the air. Weaker defenses had to bring up extra help at the expense of pass coverage, but good defenses generally got decent results going by the book.
If I didn't limit my examples to Wolverines, a "playmaker" (in the "I can't rock-paper-scissors this" sense) option QB would be Tim Tebow. He was an option QB with the strength of a tight end. Without that he's a prototypical option QB with good speed (at least good enough to outrun any single down lineman and usually a good deal faster) and mediocre throwing ability. But his strength meant if you used a small (quick) linebacker or defensive back to chase him down he'd just barrel through your guy, usually with nothing but open field behind him. You also couldn't "hit him out of the game" like defenses would try with Denard. The fact that he was generally STRONGER than average FBS linebackers and FASTER than average FBS defensive backs means no single defender could take him down. . . which made Florida's spread option a nightmare. He racked up insane passing stats because it pretty much took an entire average FBS defense just to keep him from running into the end zone.
|1 year 11 weeks ago||And now, the X-factor||
I know this essay is deliberately concise to prevent information overload, but I figured I'd add the fun part.
The rock-paper-scissors game is why every team is on the lookout for "playmakers", in as many positions as possible. The "playmaker" is the freak athlete that transcends the conventional expectations of the position. When dealing within schemes and constraints, both OCs and DCs make broad but generally safe assumptions about expectations at each position. These assumptions are based on "matches" and "mismatches". For example, a defensive lineman covering a receiver on a zone blitz is a band-aid because any receiver is expected to be much quicker and faster -- that's a mismatch. A defensive lineman will eventually wrestle past a single blocker but "not right away", as that's a match. Assuming the play happens too quickly for that lineman to do anything meaningful, the OC basically writes off the guy and focuses on someone else. So when a nose tackle shoots past a playside block and forces a pitch on a speed option, the whole play blows up. Examples of playmakers:
Mike Martin: A nose tackle who forces the pitch on a speed option. Makes QBs get in teh car. You won't like him when he's angry. Basically, he forces OCs to double-team him, which severely limits their constraints. For example, consider the "read passing" scheme. The core concept is to spread the line ("neutralize line play") and let the play develop, but you don't "neutralize" a line with Mike Martin in it. He's strong enough to tear past his single block "right away" and fast enough to cause havoc in the backfield before the play develops. Worst case, the OC has to abandon the spread concept entirely and double-team him. Michigan's D had other weaknesses that were exploited but consider a single player forced some OCs to cover their playbooks with red ink.
Charles Woodson: Cover-2 is a common defensive scheme, and like all others, it assumes a CB single-covering a wideout is a mismatch. Manball defense scissors: "cover 2 man, meaning the cornerbacks are in man on WRs with safety help over the top. This takes the CBs out of run support but any pass deep is into double-coverage." Woodson basically eliminated the need for the "scissors" because he could single-cover any single deep threat, allowing the defense to "cheat" on his side of the field.
Braylon Edwards: The opposite of a playmaking CB is a playmaking WR, of course. If single-coverage is generally a mismatch that favors the offense, double coverage (of course) favors the defense. Enter the playmaking receiver, who can catch passes opposing DBs can only wave at. With pass interference being illegal (and jamming a playmaker not very smart) about the only thing the defense can do is hit the receiver after the catch and pray he drops the ball -- not a very attractive choice for a DC. They also tend to have breakaway ability so you have to double-cover ANYWAY (or every catch is potentially a TD) but this means the defense can play rock-paper-scissors perfectly and still be unable to stop the offense because you can never completely take away the choice to throw to a playmaking receiver.
Open to discussing other favorite playmakers and what they do to "rock-paper-scissors". . .
|1 year 11 weeks ago||Not for lack of interest||
I think the coaches got the recruits to really buy into what they're doing, and why not because it's real, but don't expect 100% of them to show up. Sometimes life just gets in the way.
Not trying to be negative here -- I think retention will be at its highest in years. I'm just saying, a lot can happen in two years and the one drawback of family-oriented people is that their career paths can get unpredictable because of their priorities. Best to just keep that in mind.