This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

Submitted by Seth on November 12th, 2014 at 12:05 PM

A man in my position cannot afford to be made to look ridikuhlis.

Ace: Brian and I did a segment on this week's podcast in which we each listed our top five most ridiculous games of the Hoke era. Not only were our bottom three picks entirely different, but between Twitter and the comments at least a dozen games that didn't make the cut were suggested as meriting inclusion, and... it was really hard to argue with a lot of them.

So let's try this again. List and explain your top five, perhaps mention a few dishonorable mentions, and feel free to explain your methodology—I'm intentionally leaving "ridiculous" open to interpretation.

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BiSB: I just drew up a quick list of candidates. There are 16 games on that list. I HATE ALL THE THINGS.

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Ace: Now remember that the very first game Hoke coached featured two Brandon Herron touchdowns and was called due to a biblical storm before the third quarter ended...

Even the wins, man. Even the wins.

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[After the jump: we discuss 60% of the games under Hoke]

Mailbag: Computer Predictions, Legends Patches, OSU Game Plan

Mailbag: Computer Predictions, Legends Patches, OSU Game Plan

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Norfleet?

NORFLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTT!!!!!!!!!!

-Andrew

I agree.

Season prediction by computers

I'm sure you've seen Brian Fremeau's FEI projections already. If I remember correctly, they had us at 8 wins last year...

This year it's 7 wins.  :(  To tell you the truth, there have been so many positive comments about Gardner, I was starting to get confirmation bias.  Your thoughts?

-Mike

Statistical preseason rankings are often lagging indicators since in an effort to be at all reflective of reality they have to not only take data from the previous year but the previous few. This means they predict what has happened before will happen again. Fremeau's Program FEI rankings look at the last five years. For Michigan that includes the entire Rodriguez era.

They are therefore useless in this case except insofar as the 2010 recruiting class is still with us. Or not with us, as the case may be. I don't put a ton of stock into computer projections, and in Michigan's specific case it's barely any.

Reading the Braden/Bryant tea leaves

What do you/MGoBlog staff think about Braden being shifted to back-up OT?

1. Braden couldn't pull or otherwise do the things they want from their their guards?

2. Bryant has proven himself as a potential starter/legit back-up?

3. Some of both,

4. Completely unclear

-Rod

I lean towards 1 with a bit of 3. It's clear they wanted Braden to be the guy, clear that Braden is a physical monster who demands you try to start him as soon as he's off a redshirt, and also clear that he's not really a guard. Or at least it became clear. Otherwise he would still be competing there, and Glasgow would be competing at center, and the possibility that Bryant's radiator goes out midseason would be covered by the prospect of playing Braden.

HOWEVA, I do think Bryant has legitimately emerged as an option. For one, chatter. For two, they moved Braden back outside, seemingly permanently.

Legends patches. Merph.

Devin-Funchess-Michigan-Wolverines-570x379[1]

19 coulda been a contendah

Brian-

As three more players get their numbers exchanged for Legends jerseys this year, I shake my head and pine for what #19 could have meant for Michigan fans in three years. My buddy's #10 jersey is now Just Another Brady. Are the jerseys taking away from the chance for new players to carve out their own place in Michigan history?

One man's solution: Assign Legends jerseys (and maybe even some retired numbers?) on one game a year. Homecoming is an obvious choice- the alumni presence will appreciate the old numbers more. Let the players assert, through the first half of the season, who deserves to wear a Legends number, and since it's only one game a year, they don't have to give up their own. Thoughts?

~Garbs

Yes, they are taking away the ability for players to carve out their own number legacy. I was looking forward to seeing #19 on the field and thinking about Funchess, having tight ends want the #19, having a Funchess patch on #19, etc. Now that's not happening. Funchess can annihilate TE receiving records and go zeroth in the NFL draft and no patch. Ditto Gallon: guy was #10, and now he's just the latest guy to wear #21 for one year. (I actually mind the Avery move less, since he's not likely to be a guy you remember forever and sigh about. Rewarding a senior captain who isn't an out-and-out star with the fancy patch is a good thing.)

While your suggestion is an upgrade on the current situation, they should just issue legends jerseys like normal numbers to incoming freshmen. Maybe hold them out and hand them out to promising sophomores—Jake Ryan getting 47 early in his sophomore year is much different than switching a guy burned into your head as some other number. But just hand them out to kids who want them when they show up.

Getting overly precious about numbers is blowing them up, as can be seen with the effectively-retired #1. Players should get numbers and never change those numbers, and I miss handlebar mustaches and gangrene.

Ohio State: what to do?

Hey Brian,

Now that you've looked at some of the OSU game (and I assume managed to stomach some of the run plays again as well), what are your impressions of Borges's second half game plan.

My feelings have been, after watching it a couple times, that the game plan wasn't nearly as much an issue as execution. While some of the play calls didn't lend when to Michigan's abilities, basic execution (such as the interior OL managing to make an effective double at the point of attack so Michigan could pick up a single yard) far out-weighed the possibly poor play calling aspects of the game. Even Lewan struggled to execute regularly in this game IMO.

Again, while I freely admit the game plan and play calling was far from perfect, as with most cases, I think 9 out of 10 times it's execution that is the issue more so than what most fans see as an OC screwing it up with play calling. IMO, if there is any issue, it was the offensive coaches not getting the players up to a point where they could execute fairly simple tasks regularly. What's your take on the situation.

Thanks,

Space Coyote

While execution was a major issue, Michigan had to know that was going to be a problem. The OL had been flailing since at least the Nebraska game. OSU had a front seven laden with players who were always going to overwhelm Michigan's interior line. So I was on-board with the three first-half running back carries. More than doubling that in the second half was foolish.

Also foolish: expecting that Ohio State would not cotton on to the fact that Denard could not throw. The third-down speed option was doomed since the free safety was plunging down at the slot. Meanwhile, Borges called a ton of pointless rollouts (remember that John Simon was out) that ended up as inaccurate passes as Gardner couldn't set his feet.

The argument about execution always gets my dander up, because you as a coordinator are responsible for putting your players in a position to succeed. Their ability to execute opens up some possibilities and closes off others, but—for instance—asking Denard Robinson to execute on naked bootlegs on which a player will always be in his face the instant he turns around is on you, the coordinator. You have to execute as well.

I think Borges's options were limited, but three things stand out:

  1. Refusing to run Gardner. He had three attempts. Michigan could have used the extra blocker on short yardage badly.
  2. Telegraphing second-half run plays with Robinson. You had to know that 19 of the 20 minutes at halftime were spent saying "DENARD CANNOT THROW".
  3. Incessant rollouts.

(And he got super lucky on Michigan's final drive of the first half, as he'd managed to turn a two minute drill into a 30 second drill in two plays… and then Denard stayed up.)

I've detailed why I think Borges's gameplans in three games in particular were atrocious (2011 Iowa, 2011 Michigan State, and 2012 Notre Dame) because they asked players to do things they weren't good, over and over again.

Borges's philosophy is about as opposed to Rodriguez's as can be, and that's fine. He has track records of very efficient offenses in his past. He will have them in the future. But his desire to do Borges things with players ill-suited to do them cost Michigan a couple games over the past couple years. The Ohio State game is probably not in that category… but it's debatable.

Upon Further Review: Pass Offense vs OSU

Upon Further Review: Pass Offense vs OSU

Submitted by Brian on August 25th, 2013 at 11:16 AM

11848112-mmmain[1]

HEY KIDS: This is an overview of all of Michigan's passing plays against OSU, which is an important data point for Devin Gardner. I'm not doing the run offense, because it was Denard doing Denard things and Rawls doing Rawls things and no one getting blocked ever—ie, not relevant, really.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 2 0 3 Nickel over Pass Hitch Gallon 7
A little longer than a quick pitch and catch as Gardner resets in the pocket and hits Gallon, who's covered pretty well. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O24 1 10 Pistol Diamond 3 0 2 Nickel over Pass Throwback screen Gallon 2
Backside DE forms up and threatens to bat the pass down; Gardner pumps and then lofts it. This takes a long time to develop and busts up the play's timing; Omameh(-0.5) and Schofield(-1) don't get blocks and Gallon has to dance to squeeze out anything. (CA, 3, screen)
O22 2 8 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass Out Gallon Inc
Gallon runs this well and gets a couple yards of separation; Gardner steps up and fires but a little wide and high. Gallon can only get one hand on it. Protection was good off a blitz, though they held seven guys in. Borderline MA/IN. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
O22 3 8 Shotgun double stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack N/A -8
Gardner is just about to step into this and throw when Washington comes around the back to strip/sack as Lewan(-3) gets beat clean. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, Lewan(-3). The worst thing is that Gallon was breaking open for a touchdown.
M17 1 10 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 even Pass Fly Gallon Inc
Max pro, two man route going deep. Gallon gets a step and Gardner fires it out there; the throw is absolutely perfect but the OSU safety reaches out and grabs Gallon by the back of the shoulder pads, slowing him a hair. Ball is now just past his oustretched fingertips. Outrageous no-call. (DO, 0, protection 2/2, refs -3)
M25 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout deep hitch Roundtree 75
M gets the edge easily and Gardner can survey; Michigan high-lows the corner, who sucks up on a Gallon hitch for about five. Roundtree behind is open; Gardner hits him. That's about 15 yards, then the safety who just almost got burned (CJ Barnett) takes a horrendous angle to Roundtree and turns it into a huge touchdown. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M30 1 10 I-Form twins 1 2 2 5-2 bear Pass PA comeback Roundtree 12
Good protection but no one's really going for the QB because of play action, I guess. Gardner steps up and has a very strange no-step throw that floats a bit. Either terrible mechanics or a great improvisation to get it over a DE in the throwing lane who endeavors to bat the pass down. Accurate, though, and Roundtree can turn it up for a first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M48 2 4 Offset I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass PA rollout Hitch Reynolds Inc
Counter PA to Kerridge does not hold the backside end because obviously. He gets out on the edge to harrass. Denard is underneath and covered. Gardner goes deeper to an also-covered Reynolds and misses, but Reynolds is off balance and may have stumbled out of his break or gotten interfered with. Can't tell and no replay. He probably should have gone to Kwiatkowski further inside but not possible with the pressure. So... I want to punt. (MA, 0, protection N/A, RPS -1)
M48 3 4 Shotgun double stack 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Cross Gallon 36 (Pen -15)
Initial protection is good but Smith(-1) doesn't perceive the late blitz coming and leaks out of the backfield; pocket opens up and Gardner steps forward just as the blitzer does. He's got little time but does have Gallon on a crossing route. It's time for an Uncannily Accurate Gardner Flick, which is off his back foot and has no impetus, but goes right to Gallon for big yards. (DO, 3, protection 1/2, Smith -1). It's wiped out by a dubious offensive PI on Roundtree. (Refs -3!)
M33 3 19 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Rollout Fly Dileo Inc
Another rollout; edge rusher gets too far inside and Smith chops him down well. Gardner has a lot of time and finds Dileo, but doesn't step into this one either, and that's bad. Dileo has two steps to the endzone and the throw is way short and inside. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +2). I may be harsh here because there's a shot of Gardner talking to Dileo that seems to be Dileo saying my bad just from the body language, but it really looked like a bomb into the endzone was six.
O25 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass TE jailbreak screen Kwiatkowski 6
Fake flare screen to Denard followed by a dumpoff inside to Kwiatkowski. Accurate, but Kwiatkowski got bumped off his route and away from his blockers and gets chopped down after a moderate gain. (CA, 3, screen)
O19 2 4 Shotgun double stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Dileo Inc (Pen +10)
Another delayed blitz bothers Gardner, who feels he can't step up in the pocket because a guy beat Omameh(-1) and can't step into the throw because there's a guy flying at Smith. Gardner has another back foot fling that's a bit wobbly and a little behind Dileo, but Dileo still gets both hands on it and drops it. (CA+, 3, protection ½, Omameh -1). Roughing the passer bails M out.
M13 1 10 Ace FB motion 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Corner Gallon Inc
Gallon's got himself a window here and Gardner just misses by throwing it too far downfield. Good protection. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M19 3 4 Shotgun double stack 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Scramble Gardner 4 +15 pen
A ton of time as OSU only rushes three. Finally flushed out, Gardner evades a charging LB and tiptoes down the sideline for the first down. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2). Late hit adds on; it seems like they actually shorted Gardner a couple yards here, FWIW.
M38 1 10 Ace FB motion 1 2 2 Nickel over Pass Sack N/A -9
More max pro two man route stuff. OSU using delayed blitzes to get pressure after M OL commit. On this one Williams(-1) refuses to pass his guy off as he goes upfield and lets a LB in unmolested. However, this blitz is both delayed and slow, so Gardner should be able to do something. He pumps, hesitates, and is lost. (TA, N/A, protection ½, williams -1, RPS -1... both deep guys bracketed)
M29 2 19 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Waggle drag Roundtree 5
Instant pressure as end man is thinking QB first. Gardner makes another awkward-looking but effective throw and Roundtree has a step on the LB, but a hard corner prevents any sort of large gain. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M34 3 14 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Sack Smith -9
Robinson at RB, releasing immediately, just brushes a LB blitzing. Smith(-2) doesn't get over to block that guy for some reason, and Gardner gets chased and sacked. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Smith -2)
M31 2 4 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Gallon 9
Gardner looks to Roundtree first and then goes to the other side of the field for a short hitch that Gallon turns into a comeback, evading tacklers and grabbing some YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M14 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 2 0 3 Nickel over Pass Post Gallon 30
A perfect downfield strike to Gallon, who is a shoestring tackle away from a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
M23 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Dileo 6
All hitches; Gardner finds the right one. Throw is a little bit off, so Dileo can't get YAC, but not quite MA territory. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M36 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass Out Gallon 8
OSU showing a three deep shell all the way so this is an easy pitch and catch. Gardner's throw is a little upfield and outside, safe, but if he didn't pull Gallon that far out he could have picked up the first. Still not quite an MA. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M8 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass PA hitch Gallon Inc (Pen +11)
OSU playing press and rolling safeties to the line for an aggressive look. Denard's looking for Gallon on a hitch and the ball ends up turfed in front of him... because Roby yanked Gallon all over the field before it got there. Looked like a good timing throw in the right spot without it. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)
M19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA sack N/A -15
Inverted veer look into a pop pass. OSU stunts and catches this play perfectly. LB immediately in Gardner's face with no hope of any one blocking the guy. Gardner spins away from that guy and starts scrambling, but fumbles as he gets banged from the side. (PR, N/A, protection 0/3, team -3, RPS -3)
M31 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass PA crosss Roundtree Inc
Max pro, two man route, Gardner does have Roundtree if he leads him to the sideline but throws it inside and upfield, which is dangerously close to an interception. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
M31 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Corner Gallon Inc
Gardner misses Roundtree wide, wide open on a dig and goes for Gallon on a corner route that is bracketed. He might have a tiny window but to get it over the guy sagging and there fast enough to beat the safety is a near-impossible task. The ball is a little late, too, and Bryant breaks it up. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
M31 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Hitch Gallon 10
Just a simple hitch; coverage is a step off; Gardner fortunate that the Buckeye CB stumbled because he put this too far upfield and if not for that he would have had a play on the ball. Gallon grabs it and gets the first down. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)
M41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Nickel even Pass Scramble Gardner 10 (Pen -10)
Schofield(-2) gets beat by an edge rusher and tackles the dude as he flies by, drawing a flag. Gardner gets flushed, notices a big lane, and takes off for near first down yardage that gets wiped out. (SCR, N/A, Protection 0/2, Schofield -2)
M31 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Improv Funchess Inc
Blitz overloads the M edge and gets two guys through. Not much the linemen can do about this, the blocking scheme just got beat. Gardner spins out and gets the edge, then decides to chuck it up across his body way downfield to Funchess. That's way short and inside. He had the corner easy and would have picked up maybe ten yards if he took off. Frustrating. (BR, 0, protection 0/2, team -2)
M31 2 20 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Rollout corner Dileo INT
Tough as he's a righty rolling to his left and can't get set here. He does have Dileo on a corner if he can get it to the sideline, but it's way, way inside and picked off (INX, 0, protection ½, team -1)

Let's get to it.

Okay.

Denard:

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
2011 through MSU 13 66(12) 11(1) 34(1) 17 2 3 10 4 55%
2011 after MSU 9 77(9) 7 17 9 6(1) 5(2) 9 5 69%
Alabama 4 15(2) 1 4 3* - - 3(1) 1 71%
Air Force 1 14 3 2 1 - 2 1 - 75%
UMass 1 16(4) - 4 - 1 1 1 3 68%
Notre Dame 4 10(1) 2 4(1)* 2** 1 1 3 1 65%
Purdue 3 7(2) - 1(1) - 1 2 - - 73%
Illinois 3 6(2) - - 2 - - - - 78%
MSU 4 9(2) 3(1) 4 2* 1 5 2 - 48%
Nebraska 2 9(2) 1 1 - - - 1 1 90%

Bellomy:

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Nebraska 1 4(1) 2 7* 1* - 1 4 1 31%

And Gardner:

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Minnesota 3 7(1) 4 2(1) 2* 2 - 3 4 64%
Northwestern 4 16(2) 2 1 3* 2(1) 2(1) 2 5 75%
Iowa 3 16(4) - 2(1) 2 1 - 1 4 79%
Ohio State (pending) 3 11(1) 2 5* 2 1 - 3 2 62%
South Carolina 4 16(2) 2 8 3 4 - 2 2 55%

Like the South Carolina game, Gardner's accuracy let him down at points. This was mostly late, when Michigan was forced to abandon the run entirely with six minutes left in the game and Gardner was making deep throws outside the pocket by reason of rollout or pressure. It is rarely Gardner's mind that lets him down, but rather his feet. While his ability to get velocity and accuracy when he's not even stepping into throws is hugely useful in short-area flips, when his mechanics break down on deeper throws bad times result:

This was most apparent on the (eventually) game-ending interception, where a rollout to Gardner's left resulted in pressure and an awkward throw that sailed for days:

When Gardner does make a wrong read it usually results in a pass that's difficult to complete but not, say, a horrendous interception. In this one, he avoided serious mistakes entirely. This, however, was painful:

RUN THE BALL DEVIN

That was first and twenty and Gardner ended up trying to bomb it to Funchess way short and wide of the target. Runnnnn.

For 2013, it's all about getting set and throwing with good mechanics, because then this happens:

Gardner's relatively pedestrian numbers (11 of 20, ) are a bit harsh on his game. When you throw a perfect deep ball only for OSU's very crappy CJ Barnett to yank Gallon back the foot he needs to catch in stride, you have been robbed:

And when you have one of those little short-area flicks that turns into 36 yards but gets wiped out by a dubious penalty on the other side of the field, ditto:

That is the area where Gardner's ability to pull throws out of nowhere with terrible mechanics is a great asset. That broom-wielding chaos theory quarterback guru was probably like "whoah" about the guy, because when things break down he can get crazy throws off.

Receivers:

[Passes are rated by how tough they are to catch. 0 == impossible. 1 == wow he caught that, 2 == moderate difficulty, 3 == routine. The 0/X in all passes marked zero is implied.]

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Gardner           12 0/5 2/5 14/15
Roundtree 1     3/3   13 2/9 5/7 24/25
Gallon 4 0/1   7/7   16 3/7 7/12 41/43
J. Robinson           1 0/1 1/4 2/2
Dileo 2     1/2   5 2/5 4/4 14/15
Jackson           5   0/1 5/7
D. Robinson           1     4/4
Reynolds 1         2     3/3
                   
Kwiatkowski       1/1   1     4/4
Moore                  
Funchess 1         8 2/5 2/4 11/11
Williams                  
Hopkins             0/1    
Toussaint           1 0/2 1/2 5/5
Smith             0/1 1/2 9/9
Kerridge             0/1   1/1

Feast or famine here, as Gardner either put it right where it needed to be or missed completely. Except for the third-down drop by Dileo that was repaired by a roughing the passer, the wideouts did as expected.

This is every pass worth charting this year now, and you can see that Gallon, Funchess, and Dileo are extremely reliable options who drop balls rarely and have an excellent bail-out rate on tough throws. In years previous to this one a 20% hit rate on 1s would maybe be the best on the team; the three main returners were at 41%. That is somewhat mitigated by Gallon and Dileo's stature, which tends to move throws into harder categories. There are passes that are zeroes if thrown at them that would be 3s to Funchess. On the other hand, the percentage of balls marked uncatchable to Gallon is much lower than those to Roundtree and Funchess. Gallon's quickness means hitch after hitch is open, and it's easy to hit those. The stature, it gives and takes.

Upshot: Michigan returns a sure-handed and potentially prolific wide receiver corps, even without Darboh potentially emerging to replace Roundtree. Chesson and Reynolds should be able to at least keep Michigan even at the 'Tree spot, and then the Big One And Little Two should all improve, Funchess vastly.

Opponent Watch: Finale

Opponent Watch: Finale

Submitted by Heiko on December 14th, 2012 at 3:25 PM

No. 2 Alabama (12-1 overall, 8-1 SEC)

Last game: Beat Georgia 32-28 in the SEC Championship after Georgia futzed a last-second goal line play.

As frightening as: Rome, ca. 450 A.D. Currently idling between sacks. Fear level = 9 but waning.

Superlative: Best cry after a win.

If Michigan could play them now: The humanity would overwhelm.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them.

Bowl game: Will play No. 1 Notre Dame in a battle of which team Michigan fans want to cheer for less.

Prediction: It’s Notre Dame.

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Air Force (6-6 overall, 5-3 MWC)

Last game: Blown out by Fresno State 48-15. It’s like people know how to defend the triple option. Crazy.

As frightening as: Kryptonite. Ostensibly harmless, inert substance that glows green around Michigan players and makes them appear slow and weak. Fear level = 5.

Superlative: Most infuriating to root against due to nameplates bearing noble ideals.

If Michigan could play them now: Nobody needs that twice in one season.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scheduled them later, as in not right after Alabama.

Bowl game: Will play Rice in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Prediction: The ratings will be higher overseas.

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UMass (1-11, 1-7 MAC)

Last game: Lost to Central Michigan 42-41.

Mike Cox!: 17 carries, 66 yards, 1 TD.

As frightening as: A flap of a butterfly’s wings. Every once in a while it might trigger a tiny vortex that blows a nearby butterfly off course. In this case that other butterfly would be 1-11 Akron. Fear level = 0.

Superlative: Most likely to appear in highlight reels of other teams.

If Michigan could play them now: It would be a nice glamour photo shoot for Michigan’s tailbacks complete with dramatic lighting, airbrushing, and green space.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not scheduled them. This game didn’t do anything for Michigan other than show us that Denard can throw a pick-six to even the worst defenses.

Bowl game: There should be an anti-playoff to determine the worst team in Division I.

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No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0 overall)

Last game: Failed to lose to USC, 22-13.

As frightening as: MRSA. Fear level = 8.

Superlative: Most referees on payroll.

If Michigan could play them now: Michigan would probably find another way to lose again, which is fine. This year, as they say, is Not Ours.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Run the ball more, which sounds crazy now, but back then people had luxuries like ulnar nerves and tibias. This kind of thing worked.

Bowl game: Notre Dame is 60 minutes away from Returning to Glory. Agasp.

Prediction: Either way Ohio State won't end up No. 1 in the AP. 

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Purdue (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)

Last game: Won rivalry game against Indiana 56-35, fired coach.

Arithmetic: WALRUS minus STACHE equals MANATEE.

If Michigan could play them now: It would be a semifinal match for the title of “B1G Team with most season-altering injuries.” In the other bracket of this hypothetical tournament is Iowa, which has a bye because of its self-explanatory No. 1 seed.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Savored this win more.

Bowl game: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Oklahoma State.

Prediction: Oklahoma State is 7-5. All five of its losses have been to teams that were ranked at one point or another during the season; Purdue lost to Minnesota. In conference play, Oklahoma State beat TCU, No. 24 Iowa State, West Virginia, and No. 23 Texas Tech by multiple scores; in conference play, Purdue beat Indiana by multiple scores.

This should go real well.

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Illinois (2-10 overall, 0-8 B1G)

Last game: Could not overcome five-score deficit; lost to Northwestern.

As frightening as: Someone else’s septic leak. Schadenfreude level = 4. It’s been a few years since they last beat Michigan, so it’s difficult to relish their misery.

Superlative: Most likely to develop oropharyngeal malignancy.

If Michigan could play them now: Be careful what you wish for, or Jim Delany might put them in Michigan’s division so Michigan can play them year after year after year until Fresno State joins the B1G and they have to redo the thing again. Playing Illinois every year doesn’t seem so bad, though. I just wish they could go back to being interesting rather than sad.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Not injured Denard’s arm, since the arm issue would turn out to be kind of disastrous two games later. This is foreshadowing, for those of you who suffered from alcohol-induced retrograde amnesia after the OSU game and are now trying to piece the events of the season back together.

Bowl game: Ha. (By the way, what is with people typing “ha” over text or gchat? I normally have a two-“ha” minimum when I laugh electronically, unless I’m feeling derisive. Is being stingy with the “ha’s” a Michigan thing? I only ever notice this when communicating with people from Michigan.)

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Michigan State (6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G)

Last game: Beat Minnesota 26-10, avoided a losing record.

As frightening as: A rock.

Fear level = 5.

Superlative: Most likely to throw up on self en route to Disney World, ruining the trip for everyone.

If Michigan could play them now: Maybe Michigan could have some fake audibles. Like, okay, you don’t want to play chess with Narduzzi, but wouldn’t it be fun to pretend like you are? “Alert alert alert!” = base play. “Blue 42! Blue 42!” = base play. “We’re going to throw it to Dileo!” = We’re going to throw it to Dileo.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Anticipated the most obvious fake punt situation ever, which has only become more obvious in hindsight.

Bowl game: B-dubs vs. TCU. Should be fun to watch actually.

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No. 16 Nebraska (10-3 overall, 7-2 B1G)

Last game: Lost 70-31 to Alabamasconsin.

As frightening as: A teenager who finally gets his license after failing twice. Fear level = 7, to others and self.

If Michigan could play them now: Oh if only.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: I hate them so much.

Bowl game: It’s more loathing than hate. It’s how you would feel about someone who you let copy your homework and then gets both of you in trouble.

Prediction: Nebraska plays Georgia. Good luck!

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

Minnesota (6-6 overall, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Lost to Michigan State 26-10.

As frightening as: Anything that can be described as “scrappy.” Fear level = 3.

Superlative: Best tire fire mitigation effort.

If Michigan could play them now: Same story, different day.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Prepared Devin Gardner to play quarterback a week earlier. This is purely a hindsight thing, though.

Bowl game: Ritual gopher slaughter at Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas vs. Texas Tech.

Prediction: The gods will be pleased.

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

All the better to play Monopoly with.

No. 20 Northwestern (9-3 overall, 5-3 B1G)

Last game: Managed to hold onto a five-score lead, beat Illinois 50-14.

As frightening as: Receiving an email with the subject line “Remove Me From This List!” Fear level = 7.

Superlative: Worst utilization of Kyle Prater.

If Michigan could play them now: I liked the screw-with-their-reads plan Mattison used late against Northwestern and Ohio State. Mattison knows how to play chess.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Michigan had a good game plan. Northwestern put up a good fight. Not much to change.

Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State.

Prediction: No idea actually. This will be a good match, oddly.

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

Iowa (4-8, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Lost to Nebraska 13-7. What a tease.

As frightening as: Nomads indigenous to the Great Plains who believe most bright colors to be evil and think the best cure for a gangrenous running back situation is to sacrifice linemen to a deity named AIRBHG. Recently discovered fire and a vertical passing game, no idea how to use either. Fear level = 3.

Superlative: Most unexpectedly overrated. People thought I was being harsh when I predicted Iowa to go 6-6.

If Michigan could play them now: It would just be sad.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Saved some of the game plan for Ohio State. This was the annual “We wasted the good surprise on you” game.

Bowl game: Iowa is a proud people who do not believe in bowl games.

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

Ohio State (12-0 overall, 8-0 B1G)

Last game: 1,000 newborns in the state of Ohio were named “Urban.”

As frightening as: VRSA. Fear level = 9.

Superlative: Worst thing ever.

If Michigan could play them now: By the end of the game, Braxton Miller will have sustained his tenth concussion (but still play anyway). Michigan will employ Denard and Devin in the same formation but hand it off to Vincent Smith anyway, because Ohio State would never expect it.

In hindsight, Michigan should have: Scored some points in the second half.

Bowl game: Gator Bowl vs. Florida, last year.

Dear Diary Gets Down to the Quantum Foam

Dear Diary Gets Down to the Quantum Foam

Submitted by Seth on November 30th, 2012 at 9:10 AM

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Zoltan ponders how the gradient potential of his latest punt lines up exactly with that of collateralized debt obligation investment products in the 2008 bubble, and if they are correlated, could this end prostate cancer and teach cats to play ping-pong?

Somewhere in the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster complex, about a Yottameter from the Great Attractor, on a wet, rocky satellite of a smallish yellow star on the belt of a medium-sized Virgo Complex galaxy, there was a football game. In the first half, despite the best efforts of their opponents, Michigan's offense gained enough yards to traverse the Hoover Dam; in the second half they barely made it the length of a 747.

Millions who witnessed a representation of this occurring on stacked LCD pixels went online to find the similarly sized (and metaphorical) grain of salt, or compare the offensive coordinator's brain to the like-massed Paramecium. They tore out hair follicles, pounded their couches to release thousands of silt and skin particles which had settled there, and angrily flicked the transistor gates deep within their electronic devices to exclaim how this loss hurt to their very DNA.

In the abstract, a loss to Ohio State, even if largely expected, was too horrible to countenance. And so the Diarists burned glucose deep into the night while sunfig5attempting to make sense of what was essentially the movement of a whole lot of atoms but to us a whole lot of matter. Zoom far enough in or out and you no longer have to see it.

The Micro. For the real quantum foam of the events in question, again I quote bronxblue

The whole gang was back, to give the OSU faithful one more opportunity to cheer on a myth, a delusion about its history that seems painfully obvious to everyone not wearing crimson and grey.

So between the first and second quarters of the final game the 2012 Buckeyes will play, a premature finale caused by Mr. Tressel’s behavior during his years in Columbus, the fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation, one of the biggest cheers of the day. … The narrative went, at least in some circles, that most schools would have done the same, that fans love to cheer on winners and that most of those players were completely above board and played fairly, won every game that season, and, let’s be honest, Miami was no saint either. The thinking went that this was a team that the school should be proud of, or at least should be able to recognize publicly.

…who is going to keep winning Diarist of the Week until such point as BlueSeoul comes back to game wrap (with pics). I sat high up in the student section where freshmen who were probably 7 years old for 2002 cheered louder than the alumni. One kid in a black longcoat who spent most of first half with cheap nacho cheese on his chin yelled "Fuck Michigan!" at us through it all. This is Ohio State in a nutshell: cartoon bad guys oblivious to how stupid they look.

ST3 boiled Inside the Box Score down to Borges quotes. On the boards, Profwoot narrowed it to the script. And caup took it to the O-Line coach. Hypothesis: the more you know about football the deeper down the coaching ranks you can find blame. Theory: the 2003 team would have been national champs if it wasn't for (student mgr) Jeff Levine. Damn you, Levine!

Shane Morris puts the game in perspective.

[After the JUMP, we zoom out far enough to see the Space Emperor's Mustache]

Unverified Voracity Picks From Hat

Unverified Voracity Picks From Hat

Submitted by Brian on November 27th, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Henson Locker 1Locker 4 (1)

Save these lockers. A few years ago Michigan redid the locker room. Where did the lockers go? Pretty much a warehouse:

We're a demolition company that does contract work for the university. A few years ago we got contracted for the locker room renovation and removed all the lockers. We were selling them for scrap metal and a UM fan almost killed us when he found out! We posted them on ebay and sold about 20 of them at $1000 each at that point.

We're getting busy (doing more UM jobs) and need to clear house on the remaining 20-30 lockers. They are full lockers, and we have working combinations for them as the university gave them to us to make taking them apart easier. We have a "letter of authenticity" which is a portion of our work contract signed by the athletic department asking us to remove them.

General numbers are going for $800-1000 and the big popular numbers for $1000-1500.

We run major shipments from here all the time and ship them in about 10 days anywhere in the USA via yellow trucking or UPS. We've been charging $200 to ship to a location with a loading dock and $250 to a residential address.

If you're interested, email [email protected].

Orson in Columbus. A must-read:

17. In summary: Ohio Stadium is brutal, gray, loud--yes, loud, by any standard--mean, cold, and constructed out of concrete bearing a few too many visible cracks for you to be totally comfortable seeing in a structure capable of holding over 100,000 people. (The ledge from the upper deck on the east and west sides had me hyperventilating.) There are grim bells, columns, and one jumbotron plastered onto the south endzone. The effect is that of a flatscreen slapped on the wall of a Roman gladiator's quarters, something very modern hanging on a wall bearing the scars of prehistoric combat.

18. Which, in cliche and reality, is totally what Michigan/ Ohio State is. I get that now after seeing it, because this is not about fun, glorious spite, or simple culture-clashes. Robots programmed this rivalry, and its only prime directives on either side is opposition. You may joke about other rivalries claiming to have been at war with Eastasia, but to either side, the war is eternal, and it is the other side that believes in obliteration of the self and will not stop chewing at the borders of the free nation of Oceania.

19. It feels old, and wears its own leather helmet while drinking scotch and staring at a gray sky. It had been a while since I'd been in the Midwest, and the thought initially filled me with a real and arbitrary sorrow. Driving through Columbus, there are all these lost things--cabbies that arrive on time, bland family restaurants with buffets and non-chain restaurant names, bells that ring in buildings ripped from a Wes Anderson movie's backlot--all these things that never existed where I'm from.

Um, okay guys. It's tough to tell which is the more bizarre thing when it comes to the coaches' half of the All Big Ten teams announced yesterday:

  • Jake Ryan, honorable mention
  • Patrick Omameh, first-team

In past years I've usually given the coaches' list more credence than the media, but putting Omameh on there is a pretty definitive indication that no coach has come within 50 feet of an All Big Ten ballot this year. They should rename it "SID's team," except then people would think of deceased infants and be sad.

Taylor Lewan and Will Hagerup made first teams and won their OL/P of the year awards. To maintain this blog's tradition of ignoring officially sanctioned Big Ten names for things I will tell you that these are the Long-Hutchinson and Zoltan-Zoltan awards, and feel slightly better about everything.

Craig Roh was second team to the SIDs and Ryan did scrape his way to second-team according to the media. Jordan Kovacs was second team to the coaches, but not the media. In his stead: Daimion Stafford!

definitely not discussing Stafford blowing a coverage so badly Bo Pelini had an aneurysm; definitely not something that has come up time and again

Micah Hyde! Johnny Adams! Josh Johnson!

/eyes roll so far back in head they explode

Positive spin! Michigan was third in total defense in the league, a mere four yards behind Wisconsin. Their haul of All-Big Ten players consists of some scattered second-team nods. Meanwhile Ohio State was seventh and had six different defenders lock down first team nods on either the coaches or media lists.

Imagine what might happen when Michigan has talented dudes. Pretty pretty good I bet.

GHOLSTONWATCH. Second team media. Four sacks on the year.

Salty. Collectively, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett have bombed Hoke/Borges on twitter for the Denard/Devin thing and now they're all laying down the wood on the ABT choices:

That's not even the biggest stunner involving an Ohio State player. Buckeyes linebackerRyan Shazier did not make the first team, falling behind Michigan State's Max Bullough and Wisconsin's Chris Borland (Penn State's Michael Mauti is an understandable lock). There was talk of Shazier for Big Ten defensive player of the year after the way he blazed through the second half of the season. But that looks less likely now. (Unless the coaches want to engage in some serious trolling by naming Miller the offensive player of the year and Shazier defensive player of the year as second-teamers). Also bizarre: the coaches did not select Michigan's Jake Ryan for a first- or second-team spot. Ryan is undoubtedly one of the Big Ten's top four linebackers.

Fired up!

Quickly. One man's All Big Ten team, with the caveat that I didn't see much of Indiana or Penn State this year:

QB: Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (read too much of Ross Fulton pointing out Braxton Miller errors to give him the nod)
RB: LeVeon Bell, MSU (poor damn LeVeon Bell), Venric Mark, NW
WR: Allen Robinson, PSU, Kenny Bell, NU, Jared Abbrederis, UW
TE: CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa
OL: punt

DL: John Simon, Johnathan Hankins (OSU), Kawaan Short (PU), Eric Martin (NU)
LB: Jake Ryan (M), Max Bullough (MSU), Ryan Shazier (OSU)
DB: Jordan Kovacs(M), Isaiah Lewis(MSU), Darqueze Dennard (MSU), Bradley Roby(OSU)

Other thing I looked up. Michigan had just 41 punts this year, which was last in the Big Ten by ten. Also despite having the second-best gross average their net was only seventh:

Rank Name Punts Avg PuntRet RetYds Touchbacks NetAvg TotYds Natl
Rank
1 Illinois 73 41.92 26 157 2 39.22 3060 24
2 Michigan St. 69 42.62 22 211 5 38.12 2941 40
3 Northwestern 59 39.61 20 86 1 37.81 2337 42
4 Purdue 67 41.88 24 179 7 37.12 2806 52
5 Indiana 71 38.25 19 86 2 36.48 2716 67
5 Wisconsin 71 40.42 26 180 5 36.48 2870 67
7 Michigan 41 42.20 17 137 5 36.41 1730 72
8 Ohio St. 61 39.69 20 128 4 36.28 2421 74
9 Nebraska 53 41.74 21 241 3 36.06 2212 80
10 Minnesota 65 38.23 19 124 5 34.78 2485 100
11 Penn St. 51 37.35 11 108 2 34.45 1905 103
12 Iowa 68 37.34 22 97 5 34.44 2539 104

Those punt returns stats aren't that bad despite seeming like they were going to be a disaster at any particular point; looks like the high touchback rate was an issue.

Scottish Premier League this baby. Tom Izzo is concerned [freep] that the Big Ten regular season title is no longer going to be an important thing, as I think everybody is. It was a big, big deal for Michigan to claim a share last year.

Once you get to 14 teams, you're playing everyone once and then missing about half the league the second time around. Schedule imbalances will lessen the importance of the regular season unless you go to 22 or more conference games, which may not be feasible.

Alternative: 19 game conference schedule.

PHASE 1: round robin.
PHASE 2: line is drawn between 7th and 8th teams in the league. Mini-leagues subsequently play round-robin. Rutgers is relegated to the Big East every year.

PROS: Absolutely fair. Winner is undisputed. Makes Big Ten title a huge important deal. Final six games for teams that make upper half would be knock-down drag out brutal free-for-all for league title. Would give top teams impregnable schedule strength. You could televise the schedule draw with Ronaldo and Messi in suits.

CONS: May cost league NCAA bids if the best team in the bottom half can't get any marquee wins in the last six games or the worst team in the top half just gets blitzed. Bottom half is just kind of sadly playing out the string. Uncertainty about final three home games may impact ticket sales negatively. Extremely distant possibility that the 8th best team 13 games in can climb all the way to the top.

In conclusion, anything that amps up the value of the regular season is good. Play For Stuff.

Hokepoints: The Key Plays

Hokepoints: The Key Plays

Submitted by Seth on November 27th, 2012 at 8:57 AM

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Fuller

Last Saturday Michigan ran 51 offensive plays. Of those the Big Ten's best rushing quarterback ever participated in 19. Two of the sans-Robinson plays were on the goal line; here's how Michigan fared on the other 49:

Denard Plays Run% YPA YPA-Adj.* 1st half* 2nd half* In box
As QB 13 100.00% 9.7 6.1 11.8 1.1 6.9
As RB 6 33.33% 1.6 1.3 1.3 - 6.4
On Sideline 30 21.88% 4.2 2.1 1.2 3.1 7.1
Total 49 43.14% 5.4 3.0 3.7 2.5 7.0

Yards per attempt-adjusted (*) means I capped maximum gain or loss on a play at 20 yards so the outliers don't throw off the rest. It's not a quotable statistic but I think it provides a more accurate apples to apples comparison of the offense with Denard under center and without. It shows how Ohio State's defense seemed to have every part of Michigan's offense pretty much shut down except Denard running. Then they shut that down too.

Success rate is a thing they use at Football Outsiders at the start of their S&P+ calculations, and measures how much of the distance needed for a 1st down was achieved given the down. On 1st down you need to get 50% or more, on 2nd down 75% or more, on 3rd down or 4th down 100%. It doesn't account for the time of the game, so running for 8 yards on 1st and 10 from your own 25 with 75 seconds left in the half is considered "success" here. Here's the four quarters by success rating:

Denard 1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q Total
As QB 100% 100% 17% 0% 54%
As RB 50% 25% - - 33%
On Sideline 50% 13% 60% 27% 33%
Total 60% 38% 36% 25% 39%

For all the Borges carping from the 2nd half, Michigan's ability to get chunk yards with Denard's legs despite having to double Hankins and the entire world knowing what's coming was some Level 4 Rodriguez 2010 stuff. Then the bad guys did something at halftime to shut it down and it went to 2008 Rodriguez stuff and Denard Robinson's Big Ten career ended with 9 minutes left in the 4th quarter down 2 points.

A lot of folks have taken the "keying" quote to mean Meyer did something by alignment to take away what Michigan was doing until. I don't think this means what you think it means.

[See THE JUMP for a Picture Pages of the Keying]

Monday Presser Transcript 11-26-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 11-26-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 26th, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Bullets:

  • Sorry I didn't post a postgame presser transcript. I was too busy avoiding the internet, and no one said much anyway.
  • Devin Gardner's redshirt paperwork will be filed soon. Hoke expects him to get his fifth year.
  • Hoke will talk to Taylor Lewan about the NFL draft this week.
  • Bowl practice will not begin until the opponent is revealed.

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

file

“You guys didn’t get fed. Well, that’s poor.”

Makes us ornery.

“Yeah. You know, we’re all real disappointed in the outcome down in Columbus obviously, but one thing I can tell you is we’re really proud of this senior class. Proud because of the leadership and the development of the program that they’ve helped and their commitment to the university, and proud of how they’ve continued to lay the foundation of what we want to be as a program. It was hard. It was disappointing for them to play their last game against Ohio and not be successful like we all want to, and that’s an expectation. But we’re proud of them and we’ll have one more opportunity with them. We’ll take that very seriously.”

MGoPodcast 4.12: Baffled

MGoPodcast 4.12: Baffled

[58 min.]

Topics!

 

Well, obviously. Yeah, we talk about it. Contractually obligated to you know. We end up talking about it three times in fact.

That again. WOO

That a third time. hardsell'd

Fourth and three. Coinflip, don't like running the thing you just scored a touchdown on right before halftime right after halftime.

The same story on defense. Hang in, can't quite do it, everyone's like "yeah I get that, good job anyway."

A Kovacs appreciation. Godspeed, man who gives up no long touchdowns.

Talking Big Ten with Jamiemac. Not really. I mean, we talk to him, mostly about the game and Nebraska-Iowa and Big Ten expansion and finally basketball, because we didn't want to leave everyone with more of a bad taste in their mouth that is necessary.

STAUSKAS. He is my basketball Norfleet.

DAN DAKICH + DORIS BURKE = AWESOME. I demand that this happens over and over again. GET A ROOM! ON MY TELEVISION!

Music. "Can't Change Me," Lydia Loveless. She is from Columbus, 20, and just put out an album in which she sounds like a 40-year-old alcoholic. Recommended all around. "The Big Three Killed My Baby," The White Stripes. There needs to be a politics version of "no homo." No polo? No polo.  

The usual links:

In The End, A Parlor Trick

In The End, A Parlor Trick

Submitted by Brian on November 26th, 2012 at 11:53 AM

11/24/2012 – Michigan 21, Ohio State 26 – 8-4, 6-2 Big Ten

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Bryan Fuller

In 1997, Michigan had a multidimensional weapon they'd take out of the garage for a couple dozen plays a game. His name was Charles Woodson, and I distinctly remember the disappointment that would wash over me 70% of the time he came in for an offense snap. This disappointment was because Woodson didn't get the ball. He ran a route, and something else happened.

Despite the disappointment, I got it. You can't just give the ball to the dynamic guy every time he comes in the game because if you do putting him in the game is tantamount to holding up a huge sign that says THIS IS THE PLAY WE ARE RUNNING. You can't flip up your hole cards before you bet.

Al Borges disagrees. If you've poked around the flaming wreckage of the Michigan internet in the aftermath of Saturday, you have undoubtedly heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth because of that. But the thing is so stark it has to be marveled at again: when Denard Robinson entered the game against Ohio State, every play but one was Denard Robinson doing something. Once it was fail to chip Ryan Shazier and try to get out for a screen; all other times it was run the ball, sometimes with a pitch included. The fakeout was a six-yard completion to Mike Kwiatkowski in the first quarter, and there ended any attempt at deception.

Devin Gardner was at quarterback for three of these plays. Michigan held up a sign that said RUN or PASS, and didn't even try the token fakeout where Robinson goes over the top when the safeties suck up. Gardner ran three times. Denard passed zero. Ohio State figured it out. Surprise!

Denard got a dozen snaps and watched from the sideline as Gardner tried to drive Michigan 70 yards for the win. There were six minutes left, and Michigan was reduced to throwing every down as a guy who might break the all-time rushing record for a quarterback watched.

What can you say? It's indefensible. It's a failure without any possible explanation. It caused legions of neutral observers to laugh or fume or sit slack-jawed as they watched it unfold. Sean McDonough was dumbfounded. Orson, in the stands, marveled. Twitter burst at the seams with furious mockery from people who don't care about Michigan but do hate to see Denard Robinson end his final Ohio State game on the bench, having averaged 11 yards a carry on ten attempts.

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

Here is a list of things Denard Robinson could have productively done on Saturday that did not necessarily involve him getting the ball.

  • Be a running back on the inverted veer.
  • Stand in a two-back set, then motion out a la Vincent Smith on a pre-emptive flare route.
  • Run a flare from the backfield
  • Line up in the slot and get a fake jet handoff, then run a wheel.
  • Line up in the slot, run a bubble.
  • Run a route you ignore but the defense cannot.
  • Fake a screen to him and screen to the other side.

There were ways to work around the fact that Denard can't block, primarily running your best play with your best two players. What can possibly be so hard about telling Denard "now you're the other guy on the play we run all the time"? Even if it's play action, it draws everyone. If he's on the field, one to three people are concerned with him, and if that's at the edge of the field that's as good as a block. It's a fantastic block. It is a much better block than most of the folk on Michigan's offensive line were capable of.

And nothing. Nothing. Here is a sign that says whether we are running or passing.

“They were a little bit predictable in the first half,” said Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. “You know, they put 16 (Robinson) back there, he was gonna run it. And they put 12 (Gardner) back there, they were gonna throw it. And after a while that became something that we keyed on.”

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

On the other side of the ball, things made sense. Ohio State's offense is a coherent whole that ruthlessly exploits every edge it can. Michigan spent the first couple drives unable to substitute as Ohio State went up-tempo. Afterwards they started running on right after the play; Michigan struggled to get set at times. When OSU slowed it down, they made a playcall after seeing how the defense lined up. They took every advantage the game gives them.

Once JT Floyd got turned around by Devin Smith on OSU's first drive, Michigan was faced with the prospect of repeating last year's festival of deep bombs or giving Floyd help. They chose the latter, and chose to contain Braxton Miller at all costs. To do this they had to give up two things: the underneath flats and the guy in the box that can be a free hitter.

The results: Miller was 14 of 18. Avery blew a deep corner route on a third and long early and there was the bomb. There ended downfield passing. Miller's other 12 completions averaged 9.8 yards a pop on a series of screens and quick throws in the soft outside section of the field. Carlos Hyde surged up the middle over and over again, picking up 146 yards on 26 carries with no Michigan player available to hit. Stat of the game: Will Campbell had ten assisted tackles.

The dispiriting thing is watching that and not being frustrated with anyone in particular when the other team moves the ball. There was no screaming some guy's name, no rolling your eyes and saying "come on make a tackle." When Michigan stopped them, it was a good play by someone. When they did not, it was because you can't play the wide receivers one on one so everyone's got a blocker.

Michigan was lucky not to give up 30 or 40 points. Ohio State is rickety. Botched snaps, penalties, and some heroic individual plays—Ryan checking Miller in space, Jibreel Black and Frank Clark combining to get Miller down on third and goal when Michigan had put four guys against three to the field—prevented that, but it was there. It will be there next year, and the year after, and the year after that. They will not be as rough as this outfit in its first year.

Michigan can only beat it by winning one-on-one matchups, lots of them. That's tough to do. Possible—see Stanford—but tough, and sometimes even if you're Stanford the Oregons of the world blitz you for 40.

image

Most of the time, actually.

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Fuller

One mistake is all it takes.

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

The Hoke hire was alarming to me (for about two weeks) because it seemed like waving a white flag and going back to the Carr era philosophy that had seen Michigan slip definitively behind Ohio State over the last six or seven years of Carr's career. In a lot of ways, those concerns have proved unfounded. Carr was a puntosaur; Hoke is amongst the most aggressive coaches in the country. Mattison is as modern as defensive coordinators come. Whatever his flaws, Borges is a far cry from DeBord. He wants to score, for one.

There are two ways in which those concerns have been true, one tiny, one large. The tiny one is the spread punt. You've seen the coverage, seen what everyone else is doing, heard me complain about it, etc. I asked Heiko to bring it up a couple times over the past few years, and we did get an answer of a sort as to why Michigan doesn't run it:

MGoFollowup: Were you aware that they could run a fake out of the spread punt formation?

“Sure. Yeah. They had done it before, right up the middle.”

MGoFollowup: What’s your opinion of the spread punt formation vs. the traditional punt formation?

“Uh, we don’t use it.”

MGoFollowup: Is there a rationale for that?

“I think, you know … I’m more comfortable with what we use. That’s the rationale.”

That is a dull, unthinking answer. Heiko shot it to me as soon as he transcribed it and it depressed both of us.

Here is where the comparison to Beilein goes. Beilein, who has discovered the alley-oop and ditched the 1-3-1 except when it wins a game against Pitt, and wiped out his coaching staff to start anew. Beilein took his comfort level and chucked it out the window. We all stand to benefit. In the wake of this loss, I hope the football staff takes a similarly stark look at itself.

I wonder what possible use a huddle is now. I've had this Smart Football post lying around for months, as I was going to make a post about it:

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that huddling is an archaism destined for the dustbin. I say it’s a slight exaggeration because there is a value to huddling, primarily when you have a great leader at quarterback as a huddle is an opportunity for him to show his leadership skills. But otherwise, it’s inherently inferior to going no-huddle. It’s slower, which is a problem both in games but also in practice where your offense gets fewer reps, and, maybe most importantly, the safety net of a huddle leads coaches to transform plays that can be communicated in just one or two words into multi-syllabic monstrosities.

The Patriots don't use it, Ohio State doesn't use it, Oregon lol huddle, etc. And I see Michigan get out of one with 15 seconds on the playclock having determined what they're going to do without getting information from the defense and with little time to change what they're doing. And I think about comfort, and how dangerous it is to slip into old habits just because they are old.

It feels like Michigan is on the wrong side of history here. After Rodriguez the spread offense is anathema. It's the one thing that keeps Nick Saban enraged at night, and it feels like Michigan's going to ignore it because Rich Rodriguez's defense couldn't stop a six-year-old child, instead of for any defensible rationale. I'm not sure that's going to cut it against Urban Meyer.

Highlights

OSU guy did this one but it's got all the important stuff:

A shorter but HQ reel from mgovideo:

Also pressers from Hoke and players.

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3_thumb

Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Well… this is close but since Jake Ryan saw something like 60 snaps instead of a dozen, his nine tackles two TFLs, sack, and impressive non-tackle of Braxton Miller get him the nod. One on one, he won his matchup. Now we just need five to six more of that guy.

Honorable Mention. Denard(obvious), Roy Roundtree (touchdown), Jeremy Gallon (six catches), possibly Will Campbell (ten assists!).

Epic Double Point Standings.

4: Jake Ryan (ND, Purdue, Illinois, OSU)
2: Denard Robinson (Air Force, UMass)
1.3: Jeremy Gallon(Alabama, 1/3 Minnesota), Drew Dileo (Michigan State, 1/3 Minnesota), Roy Roundtree (1/3 Minnesota, Northwestern)
1: Craig Roh(Nebraska), Devin Gardner(Iowa)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Obvious.

Honorable mention: Roy Roundtree uses one man-Dileo convoy to score 75-yard touchdown, Frank Clark levels Braxton Miller a couple times, Denard turns not much into 30 yards on Michigan's first snap.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

11/10/2012: Mattison baits Fitz, Kenny Demens decleats Northwestern, game over.
11/17/2012: Denard WOOPS Tanner Miller in Big House finale.
11/24/2012: Denard uses PHYSICS to score a touchdown

Offense

Rawls lacks YAC, so what's the point? Michigan ended up in fourth and three on their first drive of the third quarter after a one-yard Rawls carry, a six yard Denard carry, and a zero-yard Rawls carry. The third down attempt was pretty much stuffed but Rawls could not manufacture even one yard after contact, something that has been a pattern after he got everyone's hopes up by running over some Purdue safeties.

But the real killer was the first down play, when Michigan successfully blocked everyone and got Rawls the edge. One on one in space with cornerback Bradley Roby, Rawls ran straight into him and went down. One yard.

Rawls's five carries netted two yards. Since he started picking up non-garbage-time carries against Minnesota this brings him to 68 yards on 32 carries, 2.1 per carry. Yeah, the line has something to do with that and Rawls is getting goal-line carries, but since he's getting so many goal line carries because he's bouncing outside the tackles or going down on first contact I don't think that's much to hang your hat on.

Yeah, he'll probably get better as he ages but at this point it would be a shock if he ever ends up anything but a short-yardage back. Chalk another one up to the Fred Jackson Hyperbole Curse.

This is a reason I'm skeptical about Drake Johnson making an impact. Guys Jackson personally campaigns for have a poor track record.

Bad time to get beat for the first(?) time this year. Michigan's first drive ended with a blindside sack and fumble yielded by Taylor Lewan, which was like… that can happen? I think Alabama got a blindside sack in the first game; since then nothing. Bad time for a bad play.

This of course means that he will slide down draft boards and return. That's the ticket.

Devin flaws exposed. It was coming, and it came: against a more talented defense than Gardner had seen so far he was hesitant. His throws were off, mostly deep, and throw after throw was a second late. Against Iowa and Northwestern and Minnesota it didn't matter, but Ohio State's defense is a really good unit that implodes to yield long touchdowns twice a game; when they were not doing that they're pretty good about closing down space.

All that's understandable. Hopefully we see a more polished version in the bowl game and go into 2013 with some confidence under center.

The stuff they got. Ohio State is a defense that is good, and then explodes spectacularly, and that's what they did on the Roundtree touchdown, which was just CJ Barnett making a terrible play. Good for Gardner to recognize that coverage; not a huge credit to the play itself. And then Denard used science(!) to burst through two tacklers on the 67-yarder.

That play was a credit to Borges as it was pretty much exactly what OSU ran some last week, a fake veer that turns into an outside play with a convoy of blockers. Michigan ran it to good effect in the first half, and then died in the second half because OSU adjusted.

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"boy I hope this guy spends most of the second half on the bench" –nobody (Fuller)

Speaking of that play… find me the Michigan fan who was not in full FFFFFFUUUUUUUU mode the instant before after Michigan got the ball back with 1:30, ran for eight yards on first down, and then spent 30 seconds lining up. You can't even put it on Denard this time since there was the option to go to Gardner. Denard bailed them out of another hack job of a two-minute drill.

Rodriguez comparison point. That game was reminiscent of early Rodriguez offensive forays that worked fairly well for a half—think introducing MINOR RAGE against Penn State en route to 17-14 halftime lead—and then evaporated when the opponent took the fancy new stuff away and Michigan had no other way to move the ball. They came in with a couple things that worked, and then Ohio State said "we are not letting Denard run" and that was that.

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Fuller

Speaking of that concept… on the fourth and three to open the second half Michigan ran that same play again. The above picture is from the touchdown; on the stop, Barnum's guy shot outside and upfield, forcing a cutback, and Lewan didn't have an angle to get on an equally hard-charging Shazier. It's almost like they spent halftime preparing to stop it.

“My comment was, after I saw Denard Robinson sneak outta there for a long run, stop the quarterback run,” Meyer said. “That’s the input I had. Probably the same — I think 107,000 people said that as well.”

The most baffling thing… hmm. Not running your extremely fast guy who can actually throw the ball makes the top 20 of baffling decisions Saturday. What are you saving him for?

2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but for now Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:

  • Denard
  • WR Roy Roundtree
  • TE Mike Kwiatkowski
  • OL Taylor Lewan (probably), Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh

The likely replacements:

  • Devin
  • WR Amarah Darboh(?)
  • TE AJ Williams
  • OL Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant

Bryant is admittedly speculative; Fitzgerald Toussaint may not make it back. How do we feel about this? On the one hand, four new starters on the offensive line. On the other, the interior guys are probably going to be better even if they're young. Possibly a lot better. While Schofield isn't Lewan he was a solid pass protector this year and should be able to cope.

The most important thing is getting those tight ends in shape. Funchess was a crappy blocker this year; more alarmingly, AJ Williams was hardly better. I don't know much about OL technique but Williams has stood out as so spectacularly unrefined that even a layman like myself can look at him and think "that doesn't look right."

Defense

Story of the season. Defense hangs in against good offense as offense curls up and dies, putting them in bad spots time and again, eventually cracks a little, and fades late as exhaustion sets in. Ohio State neared 400 yards and put up 26 points but I'm not even a little mad at what happened. It was all so obvious.

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this was an actual tackle (Fuller)

Most impressive non-tackle of the season. Jake Ryan in space against Braxton Miller was a little different than Jake Ryan in space against most people, but he did hold Miller up long enough for the cavalry to rally. On the day, nine tackles, a TFL, and a number of "oh thank God you are large and fast" moments. All Big Ten, surely.

I am going to hit you very hard now. Frank Clark was the main beneficiary of multiple all-out blitzes Mattison sent on third down.

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Fuller

A couple of these threatened to send Miller out of the game or dislodge the ball; most other times Michigan didn't even bother to rush him.

2013 peek ahead. I'm drafting a "22 Tickets for Team 134" feature that'll tackle this in more detail, but Michigan loses the following folks after the bowl:

  • SDE Craig Roh
  • 3TECH Will Campbell
  • MLB Kenny Demens
  • CB JT Floyd
  • S Jordan Kovacs

Likely replacements:

  • SDE: Jibreel Black/Tom Strobel
  • 3TECH: Matt Godin/Chris Wormley
  • MLB: Effectively James Ross since the bet here is Morgan slides over.
  • CB: Blake Countess
  • S: Jarrod Wilson

That's a lot of youth, with Black the only upperclassman mentioned. It is at least highly-touted youth. Wormley was going to see the field as a freshman, Countess had a breakout freshman year before the injury that cost him 2012, James Ross is a summer in the weight room away from being awesome, and… well, Wilson is not going to be Kovacs.

2013 will probably be just as good as this year, if not a little better, and then look out in 2014: the only projected starters to graduate after next year are Thomas Gordon and Quinton Washington. (Nickelback Courtney Avery also departs.) Washington will be replaced by a fully groomed Ondre Pipkins; Michigan has a few options to replace Gordon.

Miscellaneous

Fourth and three from the forty-eight. My thought at the time was that was a coinflip decision, statistically, and yup:

Stat Go4it Punt FG Att
Success Rate: 0.57 - 0.00
WP Success 0.61 0.56 0.67
WP Fail: 0.47 - 0.46
WP Total: 0.55 0.56 0.46
Break-Even: 0.64  

Those are NFL numbers, of course, and can't be taken as gospel. Whatever adjustment there is to the college game it's not going to push it into slam dunk territory either way. That decision is all about feel.

From my perspective that feel includes information like "interior line cannot block these guys" and I was more nervous than happy when Hoke went for it, but it's right on that line. OSU blew up the playcall, which was a fine playcall since it involved Denard having the ball, and Michigan gave it up. Oh well.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Since it's hard for people to get away from their base urges I prefer the guy who will be aggressive, even excessively so, since the vast majority of decisions to be aggressive will be correct, and even ones that seem weird like Saturday's are a push.

Yup. If you were wondering if the shirtsleeves would come off, nope:

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MANBALL (Fuller)

If it's sleeting I think the guy should put a jacket on just because it's hard to think when you get cold to your bones.

Just the right amount of shoving. Football games are at their best when there is harmless shoving on a half-dozen plays a game, and M-OSU delivers on this count.

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Fuller

This was immediately after Mike Jones became "that guy who got the dumb personal foul in the 2012 game" to Michigan fans, and never threatened to escalate past this business. They've done this for years now, and I approve.

Weekly Devin Gardner lookalike photo. Recycled from last week because Bryan didn't get a shot of it, but Devin definitely went Mr Burns after the long touchdown to Roundtree.

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Upchurch/Groening

I enjoy this being a thing.

Here

Inside The Box Score:

* The leading tackler was WLB Desmond Morgan with 11. Last week's leading tackler was also the WLB, James Ross III. I guess they are not kidding when they say there is an expectation for the position.
* Will Campbell had one of the craziest defensive stat lines I've ever seen: 0 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles.
* Jake Ryan was back making plays all over the field, 9 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, and 2 forced fumbles. On Thomas Gordon's sack, Ryan jumped on Gordon's back and tried to sack Gordon and the QB. It's been said of others, but I don't think it applies to anyone better than Jake Ryan, he plays like his hair's on fire.

Best And Worst:

Best:  MGoMeltdowns are awesome

So as is the custom around these parts, the traffic to the site after a loss follows the same trajectory as general internet traffic does whenever illicit pictures of some starlet are “leaked” to the the web totally-unexpectedly-but-right-before-my-new-movie-Crushed Blue Velvet Girlfriend 2-is-released.  For a graphical representation, here is a screenshot of the site about 4 minutes after the game ended

freakout

Click for full size

It will never approach RCMB or anything in the SEC not related to Vandy, but TWO redundant posts sarcastically “thanking” the coaches for losing the game, one out-and-out “Fire Borges” thread and one claiming he merely “sucked”, one thread already set for deletion, and about 1,100 posts in a game thread, 50% of them berating Al Borges and the team for a poor second half, is nothing to sneeze at.  Subsequent posts included petitions to fire Al Borges, a couple crying out for sanity, and one inferring a discussion about iCarly and Larry Hagman that felt appropriate for an 8th-grader’s “MySpace” profile.  Then Ace showed up with his usual quality summary and solid reasoning, which is like, Booo this man!

LSAClassOf2000 puts yardage for and against in a table.

Elsewhere

Figure you don't want to read crowing so right on to the other stuff…

Blog stuff. Hoover Street Rag:

In the end, I'm never going to understand this, I'm never going to understand them, I'm never going to understand that feeling.  Jim Tressel is honored during the first quarter break of the Michigan/Ohio State game for his 2002 National Championship season, and he is carried off the field by his players to a standing ovation at the Horseshoe.  Ohio proceeds to get its act together and win 26-21 to complete a perfect 12-0 season.  A season in which they are ineligible for a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions related to Jim Tressel's failure to report what he knew about illegal benefits being given to his players to his superiors.  A season in which they are ineligible for the B1G championship game next weekend because of the post-season sanctions.  But it doesn't matter, a standing ovation for what Tressel did, not how Tressel got caught.

Borges complaint section follows. Maize and Brew:

WHAT ARE YOU DOING RUNNING UP THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD WITH A RUNNING BACK BUILT LIKE A WATER BUG? WHY DID WE DO EXACTLY WHAT OHIO STATE WAS EXPECTING ON SECOND DOWN, AND THEN DO EXACTLY WHAT THEY EXPECTED ON THIRD DOWN AGAIN?! WE HAVE NOT ONE, BUT TWO EXTREMELY TALENTED AND MOBILE QBS, AND THESE ARE OUR PLAYS ON SHORT DOWNS?! WHERE ARE THE TRICK PLAYS TO ROBINSON AT TAILBACK?! ARGGGHHHHHH.

MVictors:

While Hoke never really talks about injuries, it’s not like there’s some gamesmanship required here—the bowl game is five weeks away.   And let’s say he was dinged up and couldn’t run the ball for some reason–toss him in the backfield as a decoy, no?  

Other than the lack of Denard down the stretch, the other frustration was how he was used in short yardage.   He showed no indication that he was ever going to pass it and really didn’t throw in warm-ups.    So if you aren’t going to have him throw it–at any point–then on short yardage put him in the backfield with Gardner and hand it or toss it to Denard, or fake it to #16 and have Gardner run it, or toss it to Gallon or ARGH.

After the 2001 Michigan State Spartan Bob game Lloyd Carr summed up how he felt about his team, when he said, “They deserve better.”  

MNB recap. M&GB recap. Sap's Decals. Maize and Blue Nation:

In the moments after the game, when I snapped this photo, the air was rich with the smell of marijuana, wafting down from the student section were people, from seemingly every direction flooded the field in a frenzy of drunken euphoria.

Between the Buckeye fans posing for photos in front of the team leaving the field with their heads hanging, and the idiots stupid enough to try and mix it up with Michigan players, it was all I could do to keep my composure and just walk away. I had to remember that I'm a credentialed media member and it's not my place to get involved. Just walk away. Props to the Michigan players for doing the same.

What a mess.

Papery stuff. Chantel Jennings scours instagram for Game photos. This one is from Channing Stribling:

Rothstein game story:

A week ago, the Wolverines appeared to have a devastating offense with two quarterbacks, including Denard Robinson, moving one of the most electrifying players in football all over the field. Not only did Michigan short-circuit on Saturday, the devastation was all their own unraveling.

"Yeah, we kind of knew what was coming when Denard was in and knew what was coming when [Gardner] was in," Ohio State defensive lineman Adolphus Washington said.

If Robinson was in the game, Michigan was going to run the ball without question. If Devin Gardner was in, there was a little bit more of a surprise, but more than likely the junior was going to throw the ball or try to.

Nowhere did this show up more than in the second half, when Ohio State adjusted to put nine players in the box when Robinson was in, essentially daring him to throw. Whether he couldn't or wouldn't, Robinson didn't. And that decision cost the Wolverines.

"Coach called the plays and we went with it," Robinson said.

I'll have to look at the fourth down to be sure but Robinson put it on himself after:

"I've got to come a little tighter and get outside a little more (there)," Robinson said after Michigan's 26-21 loss to Ohio State. "I made a bad read on the run, that's my fault."

Hoke as well:

"(Robinson) maybe should have been in a gap wider," Hoke said. "And, he had broken three (long plays) from that same run."

My initial take was that to do that he'd have to bounce into the backfield and the result may have been the same; I'll picture-page it.

Meinke on the end. Wojo gets in his WTF:

The play-calling went from scintillating to stubborn to baffling, and against a good defense, the quarterback combo of Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson was snapped in half. Gimmicky rotations are effective for a while, but in a game like this, in Urban Meyer's rivalry debut, lessons get delivered harshly.

"You know me, we want to run the football and we want to do a good job stopping the run," Brady Hoke said. "We didn't do either."

Nesbitt. Meinke column.