Neck Sharpies: Mitigating the Left Tackle (Reposted)

Neck Sharpies: Mitigating the Left Tackle (Reposted) Comment Count

Seth September 5th, 2018 at 2:30 PM

Something went wrong with my post yesterday so I'm putting it back up, sans the 200 or so comments that were all telling me what a jolly good fellow I am while remaining measured and positive about Michigan's coaches and players.

[Bryan Fuller]

I thought Runyan had a very bad game. He had a bad game because he didn't seem athletically or physically capable of winning blocks at this level of football.

What we don't need to do is bag on a guy who did all he could for Michigan. He seems to have taken this gig with full knowledge that he'd be drawing the disgust of Michigan fans away from whatever freshman who might have been in there instead. All kinds of people could have practiced harder, coached better, recruited more, cheated a bad and mostly ignored system, or waved magic wands while Runyan was doing the most he could with what he has, and saved him the embarrassment of a not-even-shaded standup DE who did this to him:

One little juke and Runyan doesn't have the arms or feet to do anything about it.

Bagging on the coaches is fair. They got us to the point where a 6'4" legacy recruit from the Brady Hoke is Falling Era has to be exposed against the toughest slate of edge players any team has faced in decades. It's hardly useful except to the kind of person who feels better by making other people feel worse, but if that's your bag, bag. A more useful question was "Why didn't the coaches gameplan around this weakness?" And the answer is they tried. In fact they did about as good of a job of it as they could.

What I did want to show this week is that Harbaugh almost certainly saw this same problem in practice because Michigan went into this game with a plan to mitigate the tackles. This is a thing you can only do so much of when it's both tackles and the defense has three All-Americans inside. Once the opponent has figured out what you're about, you go to counters that avoid the tackles, and then counters off that which avoid the tackles, until you're down two scores in the 4th quarter. Here's how Michigan tried to do it.

[After THE JUMP: The plan for avoiding LT]

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Good To Have That Bad Old Feeling Back

Good To Have That Bad Old Feeling Back Comment Count

Brian April 6th, 2018 at 2:37 PM

4/5/2018 – Michigan 3, Notre Dame 4 – 22-15-3, season over

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[Patrick Barron]

John Buccigross freaked out about it. So did Barry Melrose. So did I, when Michigan flung a puck across the slot and Tony Calderone ripped off one of his last trademark snap shots from the slot. This one was a one-timer. An ND defenseman screened the camera from the goal line so I flicked my eyes to the back of the net, where the net would soon bulge in reaction to Michigan's triumph.

Instead, nothing. Buccigross's register cracked glass as my heart sunk. I waited for a replay to see how Cale Morris had desperately flung some extremity or another at the puck and gotten lucky, so I could curse bloody fate.

The replay came, and it was even worse than that: Calderone had plunked Morris in the chest. On a cross-slot one-timer. Because Morris was already on the far post. What the &#*$. That's some Shawn Hunwick business from a guy a half-foot taller. So much for "Cale Morris is a system goaltender."

Half a period later, after the Pastujovs had gritted out a tying goal and overtime seemed inevitable, Michigan did not get a similar save. For ND to get a shot at all after they were apparently trying to run out the period with 16 seconds left deep in their own end is a team-wide thing, but the nature of that shot after Quinn Hughes kind of sort of tied up his man's stick was "mostly harmless."

But for some reason, Hayden Lavigne's attempt to reposition went about as poorly as Morris's went well. He pushed out of the crease vertically, opening up a gap that was less a five hole and more the Seven Nation Army video. The puck dinked his pad and slid to the back of the net.

Ah yes. That old feeling. The burnt, black dirt and grass.

---------------------------

And at least Michigan kind of deserved it? That's all I can say about this tournament format. I don't feel like this was an injustice. They blew a chance to correct various injustices past, for a given definition of "blew." Playing an even-ish game against a really good team and not winning it is… fine? Sort of?

I mean obviously black burnt dirt and grass, but if the difference in this game was having a .945 goalie versus a .910 goalie there can be no complaints to the persistently oafish hockey gods even if the thunderbolt came with five seconds left. From a fan satisfaction perspective I was in fact just happy to be here after one bid in five years, coming off a season in which the only thing keeping them from single-digit wins was, ironically, goaltending that exceeded expectations.

Restoring Michigan back to the juggernaut they were during the 15 prime Berenson years takes time. Michigan is ahead of schedule after the 14-4-1 tear to reach the Frozen Four, and they're back to recruiting like maniacs who want to play maniac hockey.

It feels like the train is coming. Once it is assembled and Michigan loses to Mercyhurst because their goalie makes a mole of saves, I will jump in the bathtub of bourbon and moan that the universe is a simulation created by Knute Rockne. Now I'll just enjoy feeling feelings about hockey again, and having a reason to mope around the house on a Friday with a yawning black pit of despair threatening to send me to my knees every 47.2 minutes.

Sports! Sports are fun!

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Neck Sharpies: The Sight Adjustment

Neck Sharpies: The Sight Adjustment Comment Count

Seth December 1st, 2017 at 9:46 AM

I realize there was a drive and a half afterwards, but for all purposes this was the end of The Game:

In the aftermath there’s been some Michigan fans saying that this wasn’t something the coaches should have put on O’Korn to do—that it was too complicated for a guy who’s already not good at reacting to what’s in front of him.

I don’t think that’s accurate. Option routes in general are complicated because they put more on receivers, but for the quarterback it’s less complicated than a West Coast tree. He’s still seeing the coverage and making a read, it’s just that he gets to stare at the same receiver the whole time instead of finding each guy where he’s supposed to be. Now, the Run and Shoot, or its cousin the Air Raid: those are complicated for quarterbacks because he’s got to read multiple option routes. That’s not what Michigan was asking O’Korn to do on this play.

I’ll explain. Two bad things happened for Michigan to create this disaster:

1. OHIO STATE DISGUISED THEIR COVERAGE

First, let’s go over what the announcing team said about it, since Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt did a good job of explaining what happened afterwards:

Ohio State switching coverage post-snap is half the story. They’re talking about the fact that Ohio State showed Cover 2 pre-snap and then ran a Cover 3 zone blitz, with the line slanting, the SAM blitzing, the weakside end dropping into the flat, and the WLB tasked with dropping into a deep 1/3rd zone.

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[After THE JUMP what O’Korn saw]

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Wisconsin 24, Michigan 10

Wisconsin 24, Michigan 10 Comment Count

Ace November 18th, 2017 at 4:20 PM


A somber scene as Brandon Peters was down on the field. [Patrick Barron]

Michigan led undefeated Wisconsin, 10-7, in the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium. Then Murphy's Law struck.

First, Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook shook off a shaky start to thread two inch-perfect throws to A.J. Taylor. The first victimized freshman Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who was on the field replacing injured starting corner Lavert Hill. The second was a touchdown up the seam to give the Badgers a 14-10 lead. Adding to the frustration, the drive only stayed alive due to a third-down pass interference call on Tyree Kinnel despite Hornibrook's throw hardly looking catchable.

Then disaster really struck. Facing third down on Michigan's ensuing possession, Brandon Peters took a hard hit from Andrew Van Ginkel, who stunted up the middle unblocked. Peters, who'd shaken off some huge hits in his last couple games, stayed down. As the team gathered around him, Peters took a cart off the field. According to MLive's Mike Mulholland, he was wheelchaired to the locker room, then transported to the hospital via ambulance. In postgame, Jim Harbaugh confirmed Peters has a head injury; he's expected to rejoin the team for the plane ride home.

That took the wind out of Michigan's sails. Wisconsin struck quickly, with a one-handed catch by Danny Davis setting up a 32-yard end-around touchdown for Kendric Pryor at the end of the third quarter. John O'Korn took over for Peters, and the offense never threatened to score. UW's Rafael Gaglianone eventually tagged on a field goal to provide the final margin.


A.J. Taylor's touchdown catch stood as the winning score. [Bryan Fuller]

Before it all fell apart, Michigan hadn't just scraped out a lead, but missed some opportunities to really put the Badgers on their heels. Wisconsin struck first when Nick Nelson picked up a punt off the bounce and worked his way past some poor coverage for a 50-yard touchdown. Peters had a chance to tie it up on the next series, but underthrew an open Zach Gentry, allowing Natrell Jamerson to recover for a pass breakup.

On Michigan's next drive, an apparent touchdown from Peters to Donovan Peoples-Jones was ruled incomplete, and despite replay showing that DPJ's left foot touched inbounds a fraction of a second before his right landed out, the call stood. On the very next play, Peters fumbled while scrambling for the end zone, and Michigan came up completely empty.

The young quarterback bounced back, though. Peters finally connected on a deep ball to Peoples-Jones, getting Michigan out to midfield, then made consecutive sharp throws to Chris Evans and Sean McKeon to set up a one-yard Ben Mason touchdown plunge. That knotted the score at seven heading into halftime.

After Devin Bush picked off Hornibrook to give the offense great field position, Quinn Nordin snapped his cold streak with a 39-yard field goal to give Michigan a short-lived 10-7 lead. Instead of compounding his prior error, Hornibrook morphed into Aaron Rodgers, and everything went terribly wrong in a hurry.

All other concerns at the moment are secondary to the health of Peters. If he can't recover in time to take on Ohio State next week, the odds stack even higher against Michigan unless Wilton Speight can make a remarkable comeback from his fractured vertebrae. As it stands, optimism for The Game is going to be hard to come by.

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Michigan State 14, Michigan 10

Michigan State 14, Michigan 10 Comment Count

Ace October 7th, 2017 at 11:53 PM


The final play. [Bryan Fuller]

Death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.

Michigan State's offense didn't look like it belonged in the same league as Michigan's defense, which forced eight three-and-outs, added a turnover on downs, and didn't allow a point after the 8:07 mark of the second quarter. By those numbers, you'd think the Wolverines would've won this game in a blowout.

But the offense, well, it all went wrong with the offense. They turned the ball over five times: a Ty Isaac fumble that killed any momentum from a promising start, a Sean McKeon fumble when they were driving at the end of the first half, and three John O'Korn interceptions. O'Korn's picks came on consecutive second-half possessions as rain fell from the sky in sheets; the coaches continued to call passes despite O'Korn's struggling and the receivers having a tough time hanging onto the ball.

That was it, really. State needed only one long touchdown drive and another on a short field to get the win while Michigan found new and demoralizing ways to shoot themselves in the foot.

After the game, the quarterback dismissed concerns about the playcalling and the weather, instead putting the loss on his own shoulders.

"I take full ownership for this loss," said John O'Korn. "You can't turn the ball over and expect to win and you can't give them great field position all game and expect to win."

"You've got to execute the plays that are called regardless of the conditions and we didn't do that tonight."

His head coach had a different take.

"Yeah, you can criticize that," Jim Harbaugh said about the playcalling. "We were trying to run the ball. We were trying to piece drives together."

It was a depressingly familiar script. Michigan State had the better, more cohesive gameplan, highlighted by their second touchdown, a gorgeous slip screen off a fake end-around that caught the entire defense on the wrong side of the field. Michigan's pass protection repeatedly broke down; Juwann Bushell-Beatty replaced Nolan Ulizio at right tackle midway through the game with little positive effect. The late-game plays didn't break the right way; MSU all but iced the game when Brian Lewerke dropped a third-down snap, frantically scrambled, and somehow rolled over two players to get the first down before touching the ground.

Another familiar sight—stupid Michigan State penalties—gave Michigan a final shot late, first when a holding call stopped the clock on MSU's final drive, then when senior linebacker Chris Frey committed an obvious late hit on Karan Higdon. Yet again, Michigan committed an unforced error. O'Korn found Eddie McDoom wide open around the MSU 30, only for the ball to clang off McDoom's hands. A couple plays later, O'Korn's Hail Mary heave hit the rain-soaked turf.

The bitter taste from this one is going to linger. Michigan could—should—be 3-0 against MSU under Harbaugh. Instead, they're 1-2. This time around, it was the struggling offense finally costing the team a game this season. Even if we knew that was coming this year, it won't sit well that it happened against the Spartans, especially given the preceding bye week and questionable playcalling.

It's going to be a long week for a lot of people.

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Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State

Goal-by-Goal Analysis: Penn State Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 7th, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#6 Penn State 6, #20 Michigan 1

1st period

Sturtz Goal

PSU 1 UM 0 EV 07:56 Assists: Richard & Smirnov

Nagelvoort’s standing to lock the post, which is perfectly acceptable and even favorable positioning-wise considering that open PSU skater drifting through the slot. Michigan loses a battle in the corner, and PSU now has possession of the puck near the net with a dangerous passing option open.

m psu thurs 1-1

Richard decides that he’ll drive the net himself, which makes little sense to me but proves effective in stirring up a scrum in front of the net. Nagelvoort butterflies and stops the initial shot, but he gives up a rebound.

Defensively, Kile comes screaming in and goes right for Richard. Warren (whom the arrow is to the left of in the screen cap below) is also reaching ahead, apparently in an effort to knock the puck away. He soon realizes that he needs to cover the skater to his right.

m psu thurs 1-2

Nagelvoort’s body is turned away from the middle of the crease because of the way in which he attacked the initial shot. He has to rotate around to get square to the shooters to his left. With so many guys in the crease unmoved, the task in front of him is monumental. The key to the goal is the skater underneath the arrow in the screen cap below.

m psu thurs 1-3

I don’t understand why Shuart lets him skate into the slot unimpeded. It’s not like this is a skater who popped up out of nowhere; he’s been shadowing him since they were near the boards.

Sturtz gets to the loose puck an flips it up. The puck ends taking a strange path in, going up and rolling over Nagelvoort. Shuart then gives Sturtz a shot as guys jostle after the puck’s in, which…I don’t know. I don’t understand the lack of urgency and I don’t understand why he seemed to be so observant of what was going on behind and around the net but didn’t cover the skater right in front of him.

m psu thurs 1-4

[Hit THE JUMP to reset expectations]

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Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (2 OT)

Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (2 OT) Comment Count

Ace November 26th, 2016 at 4:34 PM


Short. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

I'm staring at my laptop and the sea of exultant Ohio State fans on the field below dancing to "Sweet Caroline" and I feel sick.

Sick that Michigan threw away multiple chances to win this game in regulation. Sick that a dozen little plays one way or the other change the outcome. Sick at that spot. That fucking spot.

Michigan should be playing for the Big Ten championship and a spot in the playoff next weekend. Instead, they will sit at home as either Ohio State or Penn State represents the East. That spot, that fucking spot, will stick in the collective Wolverine memory for much, much longer.

The Wolverines controlled most of this game. Wilton Speight battled back from his still-undisclosed injury to throw for 219 yards and two scores, an effort that would take its place in the pantheon of heroic rivalry performances had the outcome gone the other way. Speight's two interceptions, however, were turned into two Ohio State touchdowns, and that allowed the Buckeyes to keep it close enough to force overtime on a 23-yard Tyler Durbin field goal with one second left in regulation.

The defense, which had played a spectacular game, looked worn out in the first overtime period, ceding a JT Barrett touchdown run on the second play. Speight responded with a fourth-down touchdown to Amara Darboh. Michigan's ensuing possession ended with a field goal after a questionable non-call on a third-down pass to Perry, leaving the door open for Ohio State to win it.

Seemingly given new life, the defense forced an all-or-nothing fourth-and-one. Barrett kept it. The officials gave him a generous spot, and even though it appeared on replay that Barrett's right arm—the one holding the football—never reached the line to gain, that spot, that fucking spot, stood upon review.

In a not-so-alternate universe in which the men in charge of the game are competent, there are Muppets and joy and appreciation of one of the most dramatic football games in recent memory or perhaps ever and scrambling to finalize plans for next weekend. Alas, that fucking spot. Alas.

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Iowa 14, Michigan 13

Iowa 14, Michigan 13 Comment Count

Ace November 12th, 2016 at 11:54 PM

A Murphy's Law game.

Any number of individual plays could've changed the outcome. Most of the ones that come to mind involve Wilton Speight, who had his worst game of the year, then had injury added to insult at the end.

Speight wasn't alone in his struggles, however. Jehu Chesson missed a chance to bail his quarterback out, instead getting a third-down pass ripped from his hands by Manny Rugamba, costing the Wolverines a chance to put the game away. Khalid Hill missed an assignment that led to an early safety and lost a fumble returning the opening kickoff of the second half. Chris Evans was the only running back who could consistently get anything going. The playcalling, personnel usage, and late-game clock management will be nitpicked to death this week, and not without justification.

While the defense played well on the whole, they couldn't contain Akrum Wadley, who accounted for 167 yards on 28 touches. And, yes, there were multiple questionable calls by the notorious officiating crew led by John O'Neill.

"Not every little thing is going to go our team's way," said Jim Harbaugh. "To win, you've got to make it go your way. We didn't."

Michigan still has everything to play for, but they've lost all margin for error if they want to keep their Big Ten title and playoff dreams alive. Before they even get that far, though, they have to figure out what went wrong tonight. This game should not have been close, let alone a loss, but a number of underwhelming performances occurred in conjunction at the wrong time. There's no sugarcoating tonight.

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This Week’s Obsession: Most Snakebit Player in Recent Memory

This Week’s Obsession: Most Snakebit Player in Recent Memory Comment Count

Seth April 21st, 2016 at 12:44 PM

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Melanie Maxwell/Ann Arbor.com

The Question:

What it says in the title duh. Note: other than Drake Johnson, who was obviously the inspiration for this.

The Responses:

Ace: Two years ago, it was hard to imagine Caris LeVert would make a list like this. After forcing John Beilein to burn his redshirt and contributing to the 2012-13 title game squad, he played an effective second banana to Nik Stauskas on a 2013-14 team that nearly made it back to the Final Four and set the (since surpassed) KenPom standard for offensive efficiency. The blueprint was there for LeVert to step into Stauskas’ role as a junior, play at or near an All-American level, lead a deep tourney run, and then face a difficult decision about whether to turn pro early.

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Lucy will let him get back on the court next time, Charlie Brown. [Bryan Fuller]

Instead, Michigan struggled out of the gate in 2014-15, suffering a few humiliating defeats as the team failed to gel around LeVert, who struggled to maintain his sophomore-year efficiency. As Michigan survived a last-second, game-tying attempt by Northwestern at Crisler in mid-January, LeVert went down clutching his foot while the rest of the team celebrated. On a seemingly innocuous play, he’d suffered a season-ending injury; without him, Michigan missed the postseason, and LeVert returned to try it again his senior year.

LeVert looked fantastic, putting up All-American-level numbers as the team’s centerpiece, and Michigan made it through non-conference play with a quality win over Texas and no bad losses. LeVert was poised to lead his team to a decent NCAA seed while cementing his standing as a first-round NBA prospect. Then, in the waning moments of the conference opener at Illinois, it happened again: LeVert stepped on a defender’s foot, rolled his ankle, and came up limping.

[Continue at THE JUMP even though you don’t want to, because you know you should, even if it’s painful. If you make it to the end there are 24 minutes of Denard highlights]

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Caris LeVert Shut Down For Season

Caris LeVert Shut Down For Season Comment Count

Ace March 1st, 2016 at 12:25 PM


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

While this news was beginning to feel inevitable, it is no less depressing: after missing 15 of the last 16 games with what's only been described as a lower leg injury, Caris LeVert has been shut down for the season, ending his college career. From the official release:

University of Michigan men's basketball head coach John Beilein announced today (Tuesday, March 1) senior co-captain Caris LeVert will sit out the remainder of the season to concentrate on his continued recovery after suffering a lower left leg injury at the end of December.

"After some prayer and talking it over with my family, Coach Beilein and the medical staff, we all feel it is best for me to concentrate on getting fully healthy," said LeVert. "There is still some discomfort that does not allow me to help this team the way I want."

"I am so thankful for what Coach Beilein, the assistants and the medical staff have done for me during my collegiate career and in particular while I have dealt with these injuries.

"U-M has provided me the chance to live my dream of playing college basketball and to earn a Michigan degree. There are really no words to express my gratitude for that as well as my love for all my teammates. I am so blessed to be part of this wonderful university and will forever represent the Maize and Blue."

"This has been a tough two months for Caris," said Beilein. "He has worked so hard to get back to this point, and Caris' long-term health is what is most important.

"Caris has been a pleasure to coach; he is a wonderful young man with a brilliant future. I am confident he will have a very successful professional career because his talent, attitude, quickness and versatility make every team better.

"He has always carried himself and handled these situations with such class and a level of maturity that is unmatched. This is not how he wanted to finish his career here; however, we know he can hold his head high for how he has represented this great university and our basketball program."

An unheralded recruit Beilein plucked from Ohio University, LeVert shed his redshirt to contribute to the 2013 Final Four squad and played an integral role in the 2014 Elite Eight team. After injuries cut short a disappointing junior year, LeVert began this season playing like a Wooden Award candidate, only for injury to strike again when he rolled his ankle in the waning moments of the Big Ten opener against Illinois. When LeVert briefly returned to the court against Purdue, he clearly wasn't close to 100%.

The program ran out of time to get LeVert healthy and incorporated back into the rotation while they fight for a tournament bid. While we won't see LeVert in a Michigan uniform again, he can now focus on getting back to 100% in time to convince the NBA that a lanky, athletic, sharpshooting wing is well worth the risk of a first-round pick.

Even though LeVert's college career ended far too soon, he left an indelible mark on the program. Here's hoping we see him fully healthy and reaching his prodigious potential in the NBA before too long.

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