i would find this more credible if it was about Tom Crean
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|10 hours 19 min ago||Talent vs. progress||
We have way better talent than Stanford '09, at least on paper. My feeling is that offsets the fact that Stanford '09 was already two full years into Harbaugh's system when they began their season. It's tough to predict how a relatively untalented but 3rd-year Harbaugh team compares to a relatively talented 1st-year Harbaugh team, but that where I use the prior year's record as an indicator. Coincidentally. . . both went 5-7.
I don't necessarily think we WILL go 8-5. But the fact that '09 Stanford was both wildly inconsistent AND competitive meant they probably could've gone anywhere between 6-7 and 10-3. So I think predicting the record will be an exercise in futility.
The expectation I want to set for next year isn't in the W-L record, but that competitiveness. We could lose half our games but no one will be able to take the field expecting to punch this team in the mouth.
|11 hours 7 min ago||Optimism||
It's a healthy thing. Probably unrealistic though.
The season I feel is closest to a precursor to what 2015 Michigan will look like is Stanford's 2009 season (link). They went 8-5 including a bowl loss, but they were competitive in every game (the largest loss margin was 10 points). They laid a few eggs but also upset a few ranked teams. Case in point:
1) In 2008, Stanford went 5-7. Michigan went 5-7 last season.
The fun part about '09 Stanford was that no game was out of reach. That was established from the get-go when Stanford upset USC in Harbaugh's first season. We will probably lose a few games due to growing pains but there won't be a sense of dread where losing to Michigan State or Ohio State will be a foregone conclusion. I highly doubt we'll be anything close to undefeated, but no one is safe.
|1 day 9 hours ago||Coaching vs. teaching||
"You can be an 'X's and O's guy' all you want, if your receiver isn't in a place, on time, consistently, then your X's and O's don't work."
At which point an X's and O's guy will point out what's wrong about the execution. . . and that's as far as it goes. What experience gives a guy is the ability to get inside the player's head, because he's been there already.
I don't know how good a teacher Fisch is and I'm sure he knows a lot about football, but I feel we may have given up a lot by not getting a dedicated WR coach. Hands-on experience gives you insight. That's how one can tell what's weighing on a kid's mind, or if he's maybe hiding an injury, or if he needs to invent a new technique or drill tailored to the individual. If all anyone can do is tell the difference between good and bad technique, that's all they'll say. That can work but it's notoriously inefficient; the results depend on the players' ability to figure it out. They may be OK, but this is how we taught QBs 2-3 years ago and CBs last year and both were total disasters. So, yeah, among an overall stellar coaching group, I'm a little leery about this one.
I wouldn't compare this to American Lit vs. British Lit; this is more like a trumpet player coaching a violin. The guy can easily tell if a note's in tune or not, if it's early or late, and what the music should sound like, but won't know the first thing about how to fix a bad habit except to say it's being done incorrectly.
|1 day 10 hours ago||Well||
The DBs were taught by a linebackers coach. That's not a knock on Manning; that was just a really dumb decision by Hoke. It was questioned constantly and Countess' struggles were very evident. They undid a lot of that press man stuff after ND shredded it. In hindsight it seems the guys best at it (Peppers, Lewis) were naturally good at it; meaning they weren't developed for squat.
The other position coaches I note that have had to start all over (RB, special teams) had complete dead weight before them as well in Ferrigno and Jackson. QB's different; Gardner's gone so Harbaugh's got a lot of pups regardless of who was QB coach before him. Don't hear so much "starting over" talk from the O-line, D-line, or linebackers. Funk under Nuss was allowed to coach up the O-line to about average, and Durkin picked up where Mattison left off.
I'm still scratching my head over who the hell's teaching the WRs and TEs, though. Fisch is kind of like Borges in that he's an X's and O's guy, and so is Jay. Neither of them are qualified to teach technique. The feature I've been really looking for is receivers (we got "passing game" even though Wheatley got his own feature).
|1 day 10 hours ago||It's SPRING yo||
Regarding the ugly throws, or the bad decisions, or the inability to run the ball. . .
It's spring. This is the time to be breaking bad habits and developing good ones. To their credit, a number of position coaches have stressed that they're throwing short-term results out in favor of daily progress (Baxter, Jackson, Wheatley).
If you've ever seen a pitcher try to throw a curve for the first time, or a musician learn a new piece of music -- hell, if you've practiced ANYTHING that takes more than a day to master, you'd understand. Even if it's something you've done before, if you're learning to do it a different way, you'll regress like crazy. That's why bad habits are so hard to break; it's so much easier to do it the old way. Hell, Baxter's teaching the kickers to kick all over again and he's not even letting them try to kick field goals because the ball's going all over the place. He's not panicking; it's by design.
I said the same thing last year when Nuss rolled out multiple TEs in the spring scrimmage. Now it turns out our offense was indeed bad, but that doesn't change anything. Spring is SUPPOSED to look bad. This is when they're tinkering, trying new things, fixing bad habits, and doing all sorts of things that'll prevent the effort from looking polished. Put away the damned polish; it's time for hammer & anvil, sparks and sweat. This is when you're beating the metal into shape. It's WAY too early for polish.
"Perfect practice makes perfect" is one of the stupidest pieces of advice I'd ever heard. It's completely wrong. You practice to get to perfect in an environment where the results don't matter. The spring game could be ugly, ugly, ugly. Let it.
|2 days 13 hours ago||Not likely||
Possible? Yes. Likely? I'd say no. Seeing Harbaugh so far I'd say the coordinators are out for each other's blood. This is a real competition, and that by itself will say all it needs to the players. Order is kind of irrelevant, really. If you're picked early there's pressure to live up to the hype. If you're picked late you should have a chip on your shoulder. There's no need to go out of one's way to mess with the players' heads.
P.S. Why would Drevno jump at the next QB. Once Durkin names his starter he's not going to take a luxury pick when there are other needs to address. If anything, once the other guy selects a player, that position group is probably safe from poaching for the next few picks.
|2 days 13 hours ago||If you're going to glean ANYTHING from this||
As others have already said in one form or another, this is just a case of game theory exposing talent disparity. An early pick just means one guy's playing much better than everyone else; it doesn't imply anything about the group. Late first pick for a group means little separation from the pack. Case in point, the very first pick (Peppers) was out of a deep group (secondary). Seems like there's little separation among the QBs; most likely they're all working through some issue or other (it's early).
|5 days 8 hours ago||Concepts||
Roughly put, everyone knows what a forest is, but Harbaugh's good at seeing the forest from the trees. These aren't a bunch of plays thrown into a pile; they work together to stress the defense. Opportunities are created by forcing the defense to account for something you're NOT doing in any given play. A QB spy is one less guy to play a gap. Bringing up with a safety leaves one less guy in coverage. Etc., etc. If defenses know what you're going to do, they have the advantage. If they don't, you have it.
In this case:
If I'm reading this right, the WR on the top of the screen is playing off the LoS so the guy just below him is the TE. Because he's a lineman the front 7 have to account for the gap between the RT and TE, but if the guy fakes the block and curls out into the flat on play action he's in acres of space. The defense HAS to account for the space. AND the gap! If the field safety covers then the WR is one-on-one with the CB. If it's a run and the SLB hesitates there's a lane. This isn't to say this can't be defended (there's an answer for everything), but making the defense think "what if" really puts stress on their assignments. There's like ten yards between the WR and TE and the D has to account for every inch of it.
This is, of course, Offense 101. Every OC wants a balanced offense that keeps defenses guessing. Here's where the ol' "execution" word makes its infamous apperance. I'd like to tweak that, not just to mess with jargon but to also address its limitation. Fairly or not, "execution" implies a play can succeed if you run it perfectly. That's not the case if the defense sees it coming, and MGoBlog goes 'round and 'round on this, in part because I think people talk past each other. So, the word I'd use is implementation. Execution is part of implementation. The play needs to make sense in context (scheme/playcalling), it needs to stress the defense (Xs and Os), it needs to be something the players can do (jimmies & joes), AND they need to do it (execution). You can draw up a play that's supposed to stress the defense, but if for some reason the defense can stop it out of their base (easy read, bad execution, etc.), it's not really a constraint.
|5 days 8 hours ago||Recipes vs. ingredients||
I don't think it'd change much. If the scheme is a meal, the plays are recipes and the players are ingredients. The core concepts will be the same regardless of who's QB.
But if you're preparing a meal and one of your recipes calls for an ingredient you just don't have; it doesn't necessarily work if you go to "the next best thing". A great chef takes what's in the kitchen and doesn't mindlessly substitute but changes the recipes as needed. But the result still has to go together with everything else.
As for playcalls, that depends on what's working, not the plays per se. The limitations of a player shouldn't reflect on the playcalls but the expectations of the play. For example, you can probably get away with a play that assumes a DE can't beat Denard to the edge. The same play with Navarre is asking for trouble no matter how flat-footed the defense is. You can still run a bootleg but the countermeasure for a DE in pursuit can't just be, "run for it". The threat has to come from somewhere, such as a TE in the flat or a RB maintaining pitch distance. But if that's there and the opponent isn't defending it, run it with Navarre thirty effin' times if it keeps moving the chains.
TL;DR: Whoever winds up at QB, the QB runs will be there and Harbaugh will call them whenever they make sense. If there's any variation, I think it'll be not in the playcalls but the plays -- the expectations of the players depending on what they can and can't do.
|5 days 8 hours ago||Borges||
The indictment of Borges is that he'd call plays that were difficult for the offense and easy for the defense. For example, only bringing in Norfleet for a sweep, or tackle over. The O has to rep the play, it works for a while, but once it's on tape the D just sees the personnel or formation and is all over it.
In his defense, he also racked up some 40-point games with raw-as-a-slaughterhouse O-line; we often forget that. He'd just run out of tricks at the worst times and that got him fired. Nuss was consistently bad but that's because he was trying to rebuild the offense; I wouldn't trade Harbaugh for any other coach but I do wish in an alternate universe we could see what Nuss was going to make in 2-3 years.
Harbaugh's offenses, as I understand them, are difficult to learn but conceptually easy. The O-line will shift like crazy before the snap but that's to make the defense's job hard. Once the ball's snapped everyone should have simplified reads.
I'm OK with simple or sophisticated as long as it works.
|5 days 13 hours ago||Beat me to it||
First thing I thought: "Nick's the team doctor now?"
As for that guy who negged such an obvious and innocuous joke:
|5 days 13 hours ago||Um, yeah||
I feel no harm was done here but Jay probably needs to take it down a notch.
|6 days 8 hours ago||Yeah||
The talk & speculation I heard was an ankle sprain.
|6 days 8 hours ago||Really?||
After Concussiongate, that's what you think of the Michigan fanbase?
|6 days 14 hours ago||To be fair||
Funchess CALLED HIMSELF a "pretty boy", in the context that he was reluctant to block. And he was. That never changed. And at times it killed our offense.
The moral of the story is that there's always more to a person than a single narrative.
|1 week 8 hours ago||Hexadecimal?||
Why stop there? Let's go full base 36 with alphanumeric!
|1 week 8 hours ago||Stickers||
The thing about the stickers is that everyone's doing them now. I get that Bo did it, but in 2015 it feels more like chasing.
Not a fan of the jerseys either; it honors the past at the expense of giving the players a chance to build their own legacies. And when they don't play up to expectations, it's an invitation to attack them. I liked Kovacs as #32. Because he was making that number mean something to me. The job with #11 was already done. As for the practicality of bringing back numbers, I'm not in favor of retiring numbers in the first place. We only have two digits to work with and 85 roster spots FFS. Maybe in basketball but for football it was never a good idea.
Neither are huge changes to me, though. Just opinions and I'll watch either way. Just play ball, yo.
|1 week 10 hours ago||Cool||
I never see the recruiting picture as one recruit. That's not being negative on Rashan Gary in any way. He should do what's best for him, even if that includes visiting That Place.
What I expect is that Harbaugh and his staff will shape Michigan such that going to Michigan IS what's best for Rashan Gary, and other recruits. If they see that, as Harbaugh himself said, Michigan will NOT be hard sell.
|1 week 10 hours ago||Just my nature as an||
Just my nature as an engineer. Fill any holes with skepticism. It's not a knock on them.
In the cases of Durkin and Drevno, the parts of their careers where they had the most success were under HCs of the same mold -- Durkin under a defense-minded HC, Drevno under an offense-minded OC. So it's difficult to assess to what extent they contributed to the success. Brian conceded as much in his assistant coach MGoPodcast. Here is where I try harder to get some sort of read on how they think by watching the pressers, but Drevno and Durkin are almost as Ft. Schembechler as Harbaugh. Again, OK, it just means I don't have the info I want.
This isn't to say I have any WORRIES, per se. But neither do I feel it's safe to have expectations. If it doubt, assume that says more about me than them.
|1 week 12 hours ago||Baxter||
He has an incredible approach. No wonder the guy's so successful. I first started hearing him talk and I quickly thought, "Damn, this guy is good."
Harbaugh's results speak for themselves, but he's very Ft. Schembechler in interviews. That's OK; I just can't glean much substance from them. Baxter is Mattison-esque, except he might be even better than Mattison -- and I don't mean that as a knock on Mattison.
Harbaugh found one hell of a special teams coach. I'm still a bit reserved on the coordinators, but Wheatley has impressed me and Jackson & Baxter are phenomenal.
|1 week 5 days ago||Plus||
You can't exactly have the NT yell "I'm going HERE" right in front of the C, or they've just made things more complicated without any of the upside of surprise. I don't know if the line has a way of communicating their gap assignments to the linebackers or if the latter are expected to read the line, but if they can master it, it'll wreak havoc on opposing O-lines.
|1 week 5 days ago||Yep||
Anything IS possible. Harbaugh is known for experimenting, and said on public record he's allowing the players to try different positions. Canteen running a play at CB can mean anything from absolutely nothing to a full-blown switch.
That said, while I get you're using the term affectionately, I wouldn't call him a "mad scientist". I think Harbaugh would let a kicker play 3-tech IF the guy beat out everyone else. Granted that'd never happen, but reality would dictate that, is my point. That's how you get a 2-star FB taking over the MLB position. You don't close off possibilities just because that's how other people do it. It's not "thinking outside the box", nor is it "mad"; it's just not seeing the box at all. Try anything; let reality decide.
/ there is no spoon
|1 week 5 days ago||3-4 "small"||
This is what I call "3-4 small" as a concept, not to act like some kind of expert I'm not but to keep things simple in my own head. "3-4 small" is quite the misnomer (again, not an expert) because it's not like linemen ranging from 250-300 pounds are small, but my first reading of "3-4" was the conventional 2-gap scheme where the NT is a space-eating giant weighing well over 300 pounds (commonly 320 or more) whose main purpose is to hold ground against double-teams. But when I saw the 3-4 in action I noticed some teams didn't have that. The formation was 3-4 but it was a one-gap scheme where the D-line slanted and the SAM was lined up somewhere between inside the RT and outside the TE.
There's a blurring of the definition of "linemen" when you're looking at DEs and OLBs standing up at the LoS expecting to take on blockers. They may or may not have a hand on the ground but if you're standing only a couple feet from a huge brute trying to flatten you and your first step is forward (unless you're in a zone blitz), as far as I'm concerned you're a lineman. As such a lot of what people call 3-4 or 4-3 are as interchangeable or can even be a 5-2. Point is, who has their hand down isn't as important as the gap assignments.
So I really just think Michigan is sticking with a 4-3, 1-gap scheme but this "3-4" talk is really just tinkering with the ends, OLBs and alignments to mess with the offense's blocking assignments. Which is what a defense should be doing anyway. There are upsides to relentlessly drilling a single scheme, but it's also tougher to win matchups when the other guy knows exactly where you'll be and which direction you'll go.
|1 week 6 days ago||Nannies of Collegiate "Amateur" Athletics||
This strikes me as yet another case of the NCAA making decisions based on what they want to see people do, as opposed to what they should be allowed to do.
I can see why they did it, but I don't even think there should be a waiver, because I think the NCAA controlling transfers is sticking their nose too far in the first place. If a student wants to transfer that should be the end of the discussion from the athletic side. I wouldn't want to see it, but I see a lot of people do things I don't like. But unless they're actually hurting someone I realize I don't have a say in what they do.
Fact of the matter is, there's nothing inherently good or moral about a player, any more than there's anything inherently good or moral about a person, because players are people. Some are good. Some are selfish. Some won't be affected because they feel loyal to their school. Some would happily be football mercenaries. Yeah, those guys will "abuse" the transfer waiver without a second thought. Don't like it? Deal. It's their life. Call me when one of them robs a bank or something. That the NCAA has a say in the first place is, well, very NCAA of them.
|2 weeks 14 hours ago||Inconsistent play||
McGary's streaky as hell. After he blew open his career with back-to-back double-doubles he did this against Memphis:
15 MP, 0/3 FG, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 6PF
. . . the dude missed everything and fouled out in 15 minutes.
He's been up and down. He'll be fine; life of a young star in the NBA is learning, having teams adjust to you, then adjusting to the adjustments, so this will happen. But OKC is kind of trying to juggle their injury-depleted frontcourt with McGary's inexperience. They want to bring him along slowly but they're forced to play him. Not that I think they're doing a great job managing his minutes, but I get the position they're in.
|2 weeks 5 days ago||Michigan||
I doubt Harbaugh's anywhere near a factor as much as Michigan itself. If anything, Harbaugh would've made this decision tougher, given how many Stanford (Stanford!!) players he put in the NFL.
At Michigan it's really not THAT rare. In terms of numbers they're definitely a minority, but on every UM team going way back there were probably at least a few who definitely work hard on the field but in the event they don't generate buzz among pro scouts, their first goal all along was to get a quality education. Which is why they went to Michigan. In this case we're hearing about it because he probably just couldn't keep up anymore and had to make a choice. Classes start to get very time-sucking at the upperclassmen levels; that's reality regardless of who's coach. If anything, and fully disclosing I'm speculating here, I'd wager the logic went like this:
1) My studies are taking an increasingly large chunk of time.
Anyway, we're not MIT or anything, but it does happen here. The sham the NCAA perpetuates is actually the implication that all schools are like Michigan. We're more the exception that proves the rule; when critics talk of the "worthless degree" they're usually not talking about us.
*I assume if he leaves the team he forfeits his scholarship
|2 weeks 6 days ago||Yeah||
I was gonna say, even a great year from a tailback, however you come by it we're looking at something like 1300+ yards regardless of what the QB's doing.
|2 weeks 6 days ago||Depends on if he can pick up the scheme||
DG was experienced when he was thrown into Nuss' scheme and that was a disaster.
So, I'm not putting much stock in his game experience. Nor do I think Harbaugh puts much value in it. He just needs bodies at QB to sort out. The one who can execute (ugh) the scheme will win out. At the very least, this guy puts added pressure on the others, and that's fine by me.
|2 weeks 6 days ago||It's up to Shane||
It's the Tom Brady situation all over again. For all the bluster about "QB competition", Devin Gardner's job was never in danger and Shane was always heir apparent. Now he finally faces real competition. And that's not a bad thing.
Shane has to decide who Shane is. Shane can be the next Tom Brady, having an epiphany by the threat of losing the job and going nuts with prep. Or he can give up and get out of town. This isn't a knock on him, or doubting him, or picking on him. It's just to say that Harbaugh is creating the best environment to push Shane to the limit of his talent, but the rest is up to Shane.
|2 weeks 6 days ago||"win now"||
I think Harbaugh is solving the QB situation with volume, and that's it. He knows from experience that many don't pan out. A 16:5 QB is nice but if he sets foot on this campus he'll be just another QB until Harbaugh decides otherwise.
That's not really disagreeing with you though. He'd have a head start in winning the job. What I actually disagree on is Harbaugh's "win now" mentality. Early reports are that he's completely dismantling the previous system, all the way down to letting players try out for other positions. When the dust settles I think the pieces won't move nearly as much as format would allow, but the extent of the project is such that I think he's willing to lose a few games early if it means sustained success down the road.
Which isn't to say he's giving up on any particular game; note Stanford's upset of USC his first year. But contrast his style to Borges, who basically treated the spread offense he inherited like a leaky boat until he ran out of duct tape.