Dear Diary, Two-Man QB Depth Charts are Really Spooky!

Dear Diary, Two-Man QB Depth Charts are Really Spooky!

Submitted by Seth on November 2nd, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Can you guess what was wrong with Herb? Also the copyright to this at the end says "U.M.&M."

Of all the things to despise about the new divisions—like the MSU game being technically more important every year than Ohio State—at least let's admit there's one wonderful benefit: Michigan-Minnesota is back to every year.

The historians like this one because there were some major powers with some major players who went on or ended some major streaks back in the day. But with more than enough annual powers on the schedule these days, I kind of like having this one historically poignant yet presently non-stressful mid-year contest with the people who invented cooking the cheese inside the actual hamburger.

After yet another Hallow's Eve scare, a nice jug of hot cider and Minnesota's safeties are just the thing. Alas, it is not Jug Saturday yet, and there's some things from last week that we need to over again. Like what happens when you lose your 5-star quarterback?

DON'T MISS THESE:

You Get This One Chance. Why is it every time we've got like THE MAN under center, the minute he goes out it's terror central? Not just Denard against Nebraska but the crater drewhensonwhen Mallett departed, or the black hole that formed when Henne's arm was removed from its socket against Oregon in 2007, or the feeling in the pit of your stomach when that Buckeye Steinbrenner bought off Drew Henson (right). Enter oakapple, who goes back through recent history to show how the uber recruit tends to both work out and scare off competition. Whyfore wast thou oppos'd to class, bygone son of Forcier?

He hits on some good questions—like the handling of Gardner. But if he looked back further, to the deep recruiting of the time after Bo, he might have seen a different magic.

Gameboy went back over Michigan's 2012 opponents past to pull up percentages for how much better our defense fared against them than their average opponents. Michigan got blown out by Alabama about exactly the same way everyone else did, and we beat UMass the same way everyone else beat on UMass. As for the rest, the defensive performances have one other outlier in Air Force (we did marginally better than Mountain West teams) and otherwise stand as "omigod that was a tough defense" in the memories of everyone else. I fixed his charts to make them more legible so the descriptions may be a bit off.

[After the jump, more spooky things]

Opponent Watch: Week 9

Opponent Watch: Week 9

Submitted by Heiko on November 1st, 2012 at 6:46 PM

About Last Saturday:

Funny bone 9, Serious bone 23.

Upchurch

Denard suffered an ulnar nerve compression. [UPDATE: Mgoreader drbogue suggests that it is more likely classified as a traumatic neuropraxia of the ulnar nerve, and I think that's accurate. The following explanations still apply because tomato tomato. 90% of you just tuned out anyway.]

Whence the ulnar nerve? Brace yourself for the fancy artwork below. Please direct your attention to the stringy yellow thing.

As you can see, the ulnar nerve innervates the interosseous muscles that are primarily responsible for grip. It also innervates the skin covering the pinky and half of the ring finger. When the ulnar nerve gets injured, the symptoms therefore manifest as loss of strength and coordination while gripping and a tingly burning sensation in the pinky and ring finger.

How long does such an injury typically take to heal? The internet suggests anything from "immediately" to "weeks" depending on severity, i.e. I don't really know. UPDATE: I just found a journal article that says that if there is "compression of a sufficient magnitude to sever axons," recovery will require several weeks during which even normal physical stress on the nerve should be avoided. Yikes. Let's hope it's not that.

Why is it sometimes called a funny bone injury? Usually the ulnar nerve is compressed at the elbow. It gets banged into the humerus. Now if you look closely at the humerus ...

You can see that it is indeed a funny bone.

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Fee Fi Foe Film: Minnesota

Fee Fi Foe Film: Minnesota

Submitted by Ace on November 1st, 2012 at 10:01 AM

[Things got a little pushed back this week in part due to the basketball preview. FFFF is going up now, obviously, and the recruiting roundup is bumped to Friday. There will be a final basketball outlook piece this afternoon and I'll be covering the NMU game tonight.]


Just for you, Brian

Thanks to some DVR-related hijinks and the scarcity of Minnesota football torrents, this week I'm breaking down the Minnesota-Wisconsin matchup from two weekends ago, a game that ended in a 38-13 Wisconsin victory. This was the first start for true freshman Philip Nelson, who looked like a freshman but not an entirely overwhelmed one, and an awful game for the Gopher defense, which ceded 337 rushing yards on 6.2 ypc.

To the breakdown!

OFFENSE

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Very, very spread—before I stopped charting with the score 38-13 midway through the fourth, Minnesota had run exactly two offensive snaps from under center, one coming on a third-and-short.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Mostly zone read stuff for the Gophers, though they'll also mix in some gap blocking principles.

Hurry it up or grind it out? With a freshman QB, Minnesota wasn't going too high-tempo; this isn't unusual, as they currently plod along at 110th in the country in adjusted plays per game.

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Assuming Nelson sticks at quarterback, which is the plan, the Gopher QB provides a running threat but not a big-play threat; aside from a 17-yard scamper when he shockingly juked Chris Borland in space, Nelson averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and didn't get any yards that weren't provided by the blocking. I'll give him a 5; if quarterback-turned-receiver Marqueis Gray is forced into action, Michigan faces a much better athlete that probably merits an 8.

Dangerman: The aforementioned Gray is Minnesota's best athlete at any position. He's only got eight catches this season as a result of bouncing between receiver and quarterback, but he's the only Gopher who really poses a major matchup problem at 6'4", 245 lbs., with impressive athleticism. Nelson targeted Gray frequently against the Badgers, though their timing was often off; he's a big target and a nice safety valve to have on the outside.

Zook Factor: Nothing too egregious from Jerry Kill on this day, though after Minnesota's touchdown late in the third quarter, he attempted an onsides kick by lining up practically his entire kickoff team between the hashes—rather obvious, guys—instead of going for a surprise onsides kick. Wisconsin recovered with relative ease.

Hennechart: Nelson was most accurate when going up the seam off play-action, largely because those plays (one of which is detailed in the breakdown below) usually netted a wide-open receiver. When asked to read coverage or fit a pass into a small window, he struggled—not surprising for a freshman throwing his first career passes:

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Wisconsin 1 10 (2) 1 6* 2* 1 -- 1 -- 55%

Asterisks denote a BRX or INX—an especially bad read or inaccurate throw—and Nelson had one of each on his pair of interceptions; the first came on an ugly overthrow on a deep hitch that allowed a recovering defensive back to jump and grab, the second when he threw a slant into an unseen linebacker in underneath coverage.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown, including one of the better-blocked runs you'll ever see (by Wisconsin, of course)]

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-31-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 10-31-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 31st, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Bowlettes [Updated for clarity]:

  • Devin Gardner has been taking most of the snaps at QB this week. Denard is obviously limited during his recovery, but I think it's curious that Bellomy has gotten only "a couple," regardless of whether he's the No. 1 or No. 2 backup. You'd expect Gardner and Bellomy to split reps equally and compete for the top backup spot. Plausible explanation: Bellomy is also limited by some undisclosed injury. (I don't know for sure, but it's an educated guess.) Either way, it sounds like Gardner is the bona fide starting QB until Denard recovers.
  • As of now, Denard is expected back for Saturday. Hoke says the final call on the quarterback situation will be made just before game time. If you have been paying attention to Michigan's football program over the last season and a half, however, you have surmised that Michigan is highly unlikely to make this kind of decision just before game time. That decision will probably be made very soon if it has not been made already.
  • If the distribution of QB snaps (see above) and Michigan's track record for saying things that turn out not to be true (e.g. previous injury reports and recovery projections, most notably during the Nebraska game, "Michigan says Denard will return to the game in the second half ...") are any indication, I would guess the probability that Denard plays on Saturday is around 50%, maybe less. In the absence of real information though, anything is possible; I'm not optimistic, but I never am. 
  • Amara Darboh and Joe Reynolds have gotten the reps at receiver that Gardner is now missing.

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file

Opening remarks:

“Thought we came out yesterday and had a really good practice. That’s good to see. We didn’t play as well as we’d like to. I think everybody understands that, but I think we’ve moved forward and did a lot of things as a team very well. Competed very well. We’re pretty physical with each other, which is always a good thing. You don’t have guys feeling sorry for themselves, so the intensity level was good.”

Can you talk at all about the division of snaps at quarterback?

“You know, I couldn’t give you an exact number, to be honest with you. You know, Denard took some, Devin took a lot, and then Russell took a couple.”

Will Denard play on Saturday?

“We’re planning on it.”

Does he have any physical limitations?

“Not really. Not right now. He’s better. It’s not all the way cleared up yet, but it’s better.”

Guess the Score, Win Stuff: Mini Soda

Guess the Score, Win Stuff: Mini Soda

Submitted by Seth on October 31st, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Guessthescore2012Minnesota

Welcome Player 1. You have reached level four of our new regular MGoFeature, and the only one that gives you free stuff. Reminder of our ways:

  1. Wednesday mornings I put up a winnable prize that consists of a desirable good.
  2. You guess the final scores of this weekend's designated game (football or hoops, depending on the season), and put it in the comments. First person to post a particular score has it.
  3. If you got it right, we contact you. If not, go to (5)
  4. The desirable good arrives at the address you give us.
  5. Non-winners can acquire the same desirable good by trading currency for it.

About Last Week:

Nobody guessed that Denard would get hurt while driving for the lead, leading to a Russell Bellomy implosion and 9-23 loss. Which is good because if you predicted that I would have wanted to strangle you. Some guy correctly guessed we'd get just 95 yards. Bastard.

This Week's Game:

The Minnetonka Golden Showers vs. the Michigan Wolverines in a contest of footballing.

And the Prize:

Poster1

This. But remade with way more awesome. And it's a real, physical, goes on your wall poster.

Well since we've gone two weeks with nobody taking the under on Michigan's offense, the prize is this 11x17 poster celebrating the victory over Staee AND the anti-Corn t-shirt AND the MANBALL t-shirt. Nail it this time and you should have all of your stuff before the next home game.

3185_102517_49

About that poster. It's 11x17, which is kinda small, but it's printed in matte finish on thick cardboardy stuff. I can speak from personal experience that it looks AWESOME on the wall of a man cave. I'd like your thoughts on these things as we're considering offering full poster-sized posters for certain big wins.

Bonus: If you win, your score will be painted on the Little Brown Jug for posterity.

Bonus Again Again:

GUESS THE TOTAL YARDS (MICHIGAN's PLUS MINNESOTA's)

I've still got six of these left so let's keep going. If you're going to be around Ann Arbor at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 16, we have two free tickets to the premier of PERSEVERANCE-The Story of Billy Taylor.

BT-Head-OSU-Game-Focused_thumbBT-Color-Serious-w-Press-Box.bl014181_thumb

I thought I'd change it up a bit—this time it's total yardage.  Note: whether you've got our tickets or just wanna go, make sure you get to the Michigan Theater at least a half-hour early or risk losing the seat. Closest to the pin wins (tie goes to the over).

Notes: If you win the shirt and prefer another shirt, that's cool; pick an MGoShirt.

Rules: One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). If nobody gets the score, this week's prize carries over to the following week's. Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game (since I won't have time to pull them on gamedays). MGoEmployees and Moderators--anyone else with moderator privileges--are exempt from winning because you could change your timestamp. If you choose the score that Brian published in the official preview and it actually ends up the final score, well, that would be pretty amazing because Brian picks scores like 29-11 all the time.

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-30-12: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-30-12: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on October 30th, 2012 at 4:37 PM

file

“Sup?”

You had to be happy with how you were moving the ball in the first quarter until you got into the red zone …

“Yeah. We got in sync pretty good. We had three drives of ten plays or more. Mix of run and pass was pretty good. I felt like we were starting to really get into sync and it was unfortunate. We’re not doing a good job of finishing drives. That’s our main focus for this week, particularly in the red area. This is not the first time it’s happened.”

Seemed like some plays were there to be made in the red zone, though.

“Yeah. There were some opportunities. There’s some opportunities, but it’s -- we have to run the ball better in the red area, too. I have just found in my experience as a coordinator that the best red zone years we had are the years we were able to rush the football for a touchdown probably about 60% of the time or better. That’ll really improve. It gets increasingly more difficult to throw it down there, obviously, because of the condensed field.”

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-30-12: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-30-12: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Heiko on October 30th, 2012 at 2:10 PM

file

Opening remarks:

“Well obviously I’m disappointed. We’re disappointed as a defense. I don’t believe we played at the same progress or the same way that we have been playing as far as moving forward. And we’ve got some things we’ve got to get corrected and still work towards becoming a very good defense. There were times in that game where we did play, but as a whole, we needed to play better to win that football game.”

Do you feel like you took a step back?

“No I don’t think we took a step back. I think that was the first game where our lack of communication hurt us, and it always will. It wasn’t because of the noise. It wasn’t because of it being loud or anything like that. In a game where you’re playing against a high tempo team, you have to make sure everybody gets set. That’s everybody’s job out there. It won’t hurt you until it does, and it did. When you go at fast tempo, that’s one of the things they try to get done, and if you’re not a tremendous defense, then you all have to be exactly on the same page all the time, every player. If one guy isn’t or two guys aren’t, and they’re not hearing it or they’re not completely set on the check, then you’re going to find little cracks, and those cracks become big. That’s what disappointed me.”

Monday Presser Transcript 10-29-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 10-29-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 29th, 2012 at 4:31 PM

Bullitts:

  • Be an organ donor. Beat Ohio. Save lives
  • Mario Ojemudia has a "thing" and "stuff." You think I'm making this up but I'm not.
  • Denard has a tingly thingamaling that has not completely resolved itself yet.

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Presser

"Sun came up on Sunday" / file

Opening remarks:

“I want to thank Wolverines for Life and the transplant center for all they do. To Tucker, who you heard from earlier. We’re glad to have you here and glad to be part of it. I know we have a couple guys who are pretty involved who were part of it. Thanks for that.

“As far as where we’re at right now football-wise, we need to do a better job from the perspective of a coaching standpoint, because it starts right there. It starts with me. We need to play better football. We need to play better in the red zone from an offensive standpoint. And part of that and most of that is you have to be able to run the football in the red zone. That’s an important place because in the throw game, it shrinks down there a little bit. Your verticalness of what you can do and being able to run the football is a big part of it. We didn’t do that well obviously the other night, but that’s something that will take a front seat and center during this week as we get ready to go to Minneapolis. It’s an important game for multiple reasons. Number one, it’s in our devision. It’s an opportunity that we get back out on the field, which we need to go to, and the Brown Jug is part of that great rivalry and tradition and trophy that we’d like to keep here in Ann Arbor.”

Opponent Watch: Week 8

Opponent Watch: Week 8

Submitted by Heiko on October 25th, 2012 at 7:17 PM

About Last Weekend:

Michigan State 10, Michigan 12

Apologies -- Spartyfreude is a little blurry. In any case, what are these people looking at? Oh I know. Anything but the scoreboard.

"You're good looking, and I'm good looking. We should be good looking together."

What TheOnlyColors and MaizeNBrew should do if they haven't done so already.

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The Road Ahead:

Nebraska (5-2 overall, 2-1 B1G)

Last game: Nebraska 29, Northwestern 28 (W)

Recap: When a team plays Northwestern, no deficit is too great to overcome. This is a fundamental law of football. With his team down 12 points in the fourth quarter, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez (27/39, 342 yards, 3 TD) led the Huskers offense on two 80-yard touchdown drives to eke out a win. The Wildcats had an opportunity near the end to regain the lead but, as they are wont to do, they missed a long field goal.

For Michigan, this wasn’t the ideal outcome. While Northwestern had a nice streak going and remains one of the B1G’s two bowl-eligible teams, it would have been preferable to contend at home with a hypothetical one-conference-loss Northwestern team for the division rather than go to Lincoln to play a critical tie-breaker (sort of) game against a one-conference-loss Nebraska. If Michigan loses this weekend it no longer controls its own destiny. But you knew that.

So let’s focus on why the Huskers were down 12 to the Wildcats in the first place. For one, they didn’t have much rhythm on offense until Martinez went pass-happy against Northwestern’s defense, which plays a 4-3-Gibson scheme. The run game never broke anything big with the longest run being 15 yards. Martinez and RB Ameer Abdullah both got nearly 20 carries a piece and averaged 4.5 ypc, though the Wildcats have a decent run defense, so that’s not a total surprise.

Defensively they did a good job against most aspects of Northwestern’s attack – they kept Trevor Siemian (15/35, 116 yards, 2 TD) to 3.3 ypa and almost limited the Wildcats otherwise effective run game to less than three yards per carry … had it not been for one spectacular bust that allowed an 80-yard TD run by Venric Mark (16 carries, 118 yards, 1 TD) from a triple-option handoff up the middle. That the Blackshirts linebackers busted an assignment is an understatement.

As a final note, Nebraska turned the ball over three times over the course of the game. They fumbled twice (the one at the end was maybe meaningless) on offense and had one epic puntmuffin, which led immediately to a Northwestern touchdown.

Huskers fans prefer to downplay these mistakes, particularly the ones on special teams, when projecting how their team will do against upcoming opponents. Against Michigan, though, they won't be able to afford to play sloppy no matter how many yards they end up racking up on offense.

This team is as frightening as: The Detroit Tigers. Brilliant when in a groove but somewhat subject to horrifying derailment. Fear level = 6 +/-2.

Michigan should worry about: Limiting mistakes on the road at night. I think Brady Hoke and Al Borges have that down at the infuriating expense of offensive play calls that adjust intelligently to defensive scheme. This means that Michigan is just going to have to wait for the opponent to make mistakes on defense. I’m actually kind of okay with that in this case, because …

Michigan can sleep soundly about: I do not believe in Nebraska’s defense. Their most impressive performance to date has been against nobody. Serious. They’ve failed to hold any of their BCS opponents under 27 points. Maybe they did well against Wisconsin by holding Montee Ball to 90 yards rushing on 32 carries, but that was when the Badgers were going through an offensive crisis that resulted in the defenestration of their offensive line coach.

Maybe the Huskers have an okay secondary and a couple playmakers in the front seven, but that does not an Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine-busting defense make.

When they play Michigan: Michigan will try to win on the ground; Nebraska will try to win through the air. The Huskers have at least four viable receiving options in their receivers and tight ends, and it’s going to put a lot of pressure on the secondary to stick to their assignments, particularly if Raymon Taylor isn’t 100%. Plus, Michigan is overdue for giving up a big WTF play or two on defense. On the bright side, if the Huskers can’t do it, no one left on the schedule save Ohio State will be able to.

Next game: vs. No. 22 Michigan.

Opponent Watch: Week 7

Opponent Watch: Week 7

Submitted by Heiko on October 18th, 2012 at 6:09 PM

About Last Weekend:

Illinois 0, Michigan 45

Poetry.

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Michigan State (4-3 overall, 1-2 B1G)

Last game: Iowa 19, Michigan State 16 2OT (L)

Recap: That this game went into double overtime should have been an NCAA violation. If not the NCAA, then at least the FCC, because gratuitous ugliness is just as indecent as sex and four-letter words.

Ace has the breakdown in his weekly FFFF. If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a visual summary:

Sometimes humor is controversial. Thankfully, dinosaurs are not.

The highlight of the game was the botched call at the end of the first half where half the team is running off the field, then running back on, then the offensive line shuffles (because that’s helpful), and then a guy who isn’t even the quarterback attempts to spike the ball as time expires. 

The best part of the sequence is that Iowa’s defense is all like, LOL, and celebrates like they’re not down 10-3 with 20 yards of total offense or anything.

Your Quarterback Throws Like Denard*: Andrew Maxwell -- 12/31, 179 yards, 5.8 ypa, 1 INT.

BONUS Your Quarterback Throws Worse Than The Quarterback Who Throws Like Denard: James Vandenberg -- 19/36, 134 yards, 3.7 ypa, 1 INT.

This team is as frightening as: A large rock.

Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: Right now, with Michigan State’s playcalling as imaginative as a law school textbook and with how well Michigan is playing on defense, it’s hard to see the Spartans moving the ball much at all. Although Le’Veon Bell will probably convert a couple short third downs here and there and Maxwell will maybe complete a bomb or two to Keith Mumphery or Aaron Burbridge, the maddening 80-yard, 13-play drives probably won’t happen.

BUT.

The Wolverines defense has been so good despite not having super duper talent is partially due to their preparation. Like any smart coordinator, Greg Mattison coaches to tendencies. The problem with rivalry games is teams often break tendency (see 2011 Ohio State), especially if what they’ve been doing previously hasn’t been working (see 2011 Ohio State).

I wouldn’t be shocked if Michigan State comes out pretending to be Northwestern. If they're smart about it, they should.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Northwestern scored 21 points against Minnesota by pretending to be Michigan State.

When they play Michigan: If I were Michigan State, this is what I would do (on offense, because defensively they’ll be just fine):

  1. Stop sucking.
  2. Use a lot of four-wide, one-back sets and throw screens and quick passes. Pass on first down when Michigan is keying on the run. If anything, this mitigates Michigan State’s offensive line problems. “But Michigan defended the dink and dunk offense so well against Purdue!” That’s because Purdue never had a run game to threaten the middle of the defense. The Spartans, on the other hand, have …
  3. Le’Veon Bell. Get him going with counters and halfback draws. Illinois early success running against Michigan appeared to result from their offensive line screwing with the Wolverines’ keys. One of their biggest gainers on the ground was a halfback draw when the offensive line showed pass and fooled the linebackers into dropping into coverage. 
  4. Throw deep to Burbridge when he’s one-on-one with Raymon Taylor. I fear this will be a frustrating matchup for Michigan.
  5. Quarterback draw with Andrew Maxwell. It would be the most epic trolling of all time.

Next game: @ No. 24 Big Brother

*There was an MSU College Gameday sign a couple weeks ago that read: “Braxton Throws Like Denard.” This was supposed to be some sort of insult.

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