This Week's Obsession: Games that Gave You an Ulcer

This Week's Obsession: Games that Gave You an Ulcer Comment Count

Seth October 2nd, 2018 at 4:00 PM

Feel ya, BVS [Patrick Barron]

The Sponsor:

It’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. Nick is also a Podcaster—if you haven’t listened to it before, his podcast Finding True Wealth. One of his episodes he shared how he put together his own financial plan for 2018. It's good to know if you choose a CFP where he puts his own money.

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The Question: 

Games you remember watching in mortifying fear?

The Responses:

Ace: Before anyone protests, I suggested this because I have Cosmic Comeuppance For The Murderwolf Post, The Ulcer.

Seth: I wouldn't have suggested it because this game didn't for me. Even down 17-0 I figured Michigan would score the next 24 points.

Brian: I can no longer just assume those things. I also feel that ulcer games have to be wins? Is that crazy

Seth: There were a few minutes there when I wouldn't let Demorest's kid talk to me. That was it. The Michigan fans in that stadium were LOUD.

Ace: Yeah, I’ll be honest, I was pretty calm for this one.

Brian: Like the JT Was Short game wasn't an ulcer it was a crippling state of listlessness for months.

Ace: And yeah, ulcer games should be wins. The Horror is a disaster, Akron is an ulcer. Speaking of which, that game.

Seth: The Akron game was on Rosh Hashanah, and the second my brother and I left the stadium everything went alright. Sorry about doing that to everyone but we fixed it.

Brian: Well then how about most Northwestern games

Ace: Man this is gonna be a Lloyd-y list.

The Mathlete: The Halloween Minnesota game

Brian: You're supposed to win, Pat Fitzgerald's head keeps getting bigger, you're not even sure you want credit for the W afterwards. Mathlete, that is a superior choice. The Minnesota game featured Mitch Leidner getting extraordinarily lucky about five times and came down to a goal line stand after Minnesota frittered away two downs from the one.

David: Minnesota 2004 is another one for me. I kept thinking "We can't lose to Minnesota." But then we did...the next year.

Seth: UConn was an ulcer.

Ace: Thank you Desmond Morgan for keeping the damage limited to that. I’m not sure some of these Hoke-era wins count because they didn’t feel very inevitable, though. Like, at all.

Brian: I feel like there are two different categories here. One are games where you are dominating statistically but the scoreboard disagrees, and then there are games where the team is playing like inexplicable ass.

Seth: YES.

Brian: Or, in many cases, fairly explicable ass.

[After THE JUMP: Spleen]


This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis

This Week's Obsession: Ridikuhlis Comment Count

Seth 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.


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


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.


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


This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie

This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie Comment Count

Seth November 20th, 2013 at 8:58 AM


Peter Frampton:Michigan's offense::Let's stop this analogy right now.

It's nearing Thanksgiving; which means it's time to make pie! Who likes pie? Everyone likes pie! Unless it's a "why our offense sucks so much" pie. Alas, you have all been sampling lots of "Why our offense sucks so much" pie these last few weeks, and we've identified most of the ingredients in this suck pie. What we haven't done yet is say how much any one ingredient is contributing relative to any other. This seems important.

So, I'm going to give you a list of identified ingredients in this suck pie, and you're going to tell me--pie chart like (i.e. adds up to 100%)--how much each suck factor, in your estimated opinion, has gone into our pie:

  1. Fans demand Michigan Manliness. Thus putting the previous regime on not-firm ground and necessitating another transition and talk of MANBALL for stupid political reasons. Rosenberg/Snyder go here.
  2. Rich Rod! One OL in 2010 and his own suck pie of defense that necessitated another transition. GERG goes here. Zero RS juniors goes here.
  3. The Process. Which helped doom the 2011 offensive line class. "Just two OL, both of them fliers, in two classes!" goes here. "None of our tight ends are old enough to buy beer!" goes here. "We're stuck running high school blocking schemes because interior OL are too young!" goes here.
    If you believe this is a result of Nebraska's defense having a sudden aneurism of competence (hence all the blood), please answer #10 "Universe" on your cards. [Fuller]

  4. Hoke demands MANBALL! Only if you think there's an executive order from Hoke that forced Borges to use more "big"--ie TEs and FBs instead of WRs--formations and man-blocking.
  5. Borges can't cook fusion cuisine. Incoherent playcalling and gameplanning, players constantly put in bad positions and asked to do more than their skills suggest they're good at. RPS minuses go here.
  6. Dithered on MANBALL transition for Denard. Spent 2011 and 2012 trying to be all things; decision not to sacrifice those years to transition is costing us in 2013. "Older guys can't MANBALL" goes here.
  7. Dithering in 2013. Personnel switches, gimmick offenses, acts of desperation burned practice time, retarded player development, and contributed to snowballing effect. "Tackle over" goes here.
  8. Funk/OL and execution. Offensive linemen not doing the things that should reasonably be expected of them given their talent/experience levels. "Schofield is missing slide protections" goes here.
  9. Ferrigno/Jackson and execution. Backs and tight ends who can't block or run routes (if you think this is just on them being too young, that goes elsewhere; if you think Funchess ought to be able to crack down and Toussaint get under a guy by now it goes here)
  10. Bloodymindedness of Universe. IE anything else: Spain, Monkey Rodeo, MSU broke Devin, opponents are just that good, etc.

[After the jump, the lede, buried]


Hokepoints: Triangle of Doom

Hokepoints: Triangle of Doom Comment Count

Seth October 29th, 2013 at 9:48 AM


Brian mentioned a "triangle" route during the offensive UFR last week. I wanted to highlight that play, not just because I don't remember if we've covered what that means, but because it illustrates how the emergence of Funchess as a complementary deep threat to Gallon makes defenses do unsound (read: relatively easy to exploit) things.


A triangle is another passing concept for picking on zone, and works pretty well against different coverages. We've covered smash/high-low (which attacks the top and bottom of a zone simultaneously) and 4-verts (which gets guys to either side of a zone). A triangle is actually putting dudes to three sides of a zone. It's a slightly more complicated version of high-low, the triple-option version of it if you will.

Here's a play from the Indiana UFR. I want you to watch the bottom of the screen and how the Funchess, Gallon, and Toussaint routes work together:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide tight 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass TE out Butt Inc
IME Gardner blows this read presnap by going to the short side of the field. He's got three guys on the wide side and Toussaint's flare is going to be open as M runs a triangle there. Instead he's looking at the wheel/out combo M is running a lot this year. Both are covered; Gardner tries to fit a ball into Butt in a tiny window, LB breaks it up. (BR, 1, protection 1/1)

The left side is a high-low. The right side of the play, even though Gardner didn't go there, is the triangle we're looking at.


I don't know if Gallon's route was a deep curl or an out or flag or whatever; it doesn't matter. I drew curl just to make the picture smaller.

In this case Gallon and Toussaint are smashing the corner's Cover 2 zone, while Funchess's curl route keeps the SAM linebacker from interfering with that. The cornerback went with Gallon (from alignment it was obvious he was more worried about the deep part of his zone than anything underneath), and that left the SAM to deal with Funchess and Toussaint. He chose Funchess, and Toussaint's flare route was open.



Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian October 25th, 2013 at 3:19 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent every snap in their nickel. This was fairly typical.


That also shows what I called "shotgun triangle" for IU. Wynn is lined up in the backfield behind the QB, but it's shotgun depth, not pistol. Wynn would always motion out after a hand-wave from the QB; this was always a decoy.


Michigan did show a few okie packages. This is Okie two; I designate them by the number of safeties.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Boatloads. Avery went back to safety and spotted Gordon and Wilson from time to time. This led to a lot of Stribling and Lewis, as Michigan played every snap in their nickel. Countess and Taylor did not leave the field, IIRC.

At linebacker the usual Ross/Morgan/Bolden rotation saw Ben Gedeon join. The line was the usual profusion of bodies. Clark or Ojemudia was usually one end with one of Beyer/Ryan/CGordon the other. On the interior, Washington, Black, Wormley, Henry and Heitzman seemed to split snaps almost evenly. Glasgow also got in some.

[After THE JUMP: go go go go go go go go go go]


Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian October 24th, 2013 at 3:45 PM




THING NOTES: Torrent had no audio this week, so neither do the clips. Good news for people who get creeped out by the walrus lovemaking noises in the slow ones.

FORMATION NOTES: A note on nomenclature here: Indiana had a kind of weird system where they had a linebacker/safety type (6'1", 225) out over the slot.


That in itself isn't too weird against spread formations, but he still hung out over the slot when there was one in I-form twins packages and the like, and Indiana brought down a safety.


I designated IU formations  with that guy in the gray area (and no safety down) "nickel" since the defensive formation thing is more about what the O is looking at than personnel packages the opponent has in and I felt their slot LB was a Hybrid Space Player, but I understand if you think IU was just in a 4-3 all game.

As for Michigan, they did not do much exotic in terms of formations. A lot of shotgun 3-wide stuff, some ace, some I-Form, etc. A couple things: I've changed Funchess to a WR in my personnel set tracking, so if you see "shotgun 3-wide" with four WRs that's because Funchess is the TE-type-substance. Also, when there are only four skill position players that's because Michigan has brought in an extra offensive lineman. Tackle over was still employed but rather rare.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Hoo boy. First: QB and RB were pretty obvious, with Green getting more run than he has in some other games in the past. FB was about split between Kerridge and Houma.

WR was a ton of Gallon and Funchess. Dileo went out early with an injury, leaving Jeremy Jackson to pick up most of the slot snaps. Chesson got in a bit but has clearly ceded a lot of PT to Funchess; Reynolds got a few snaps.

TE was mostly Butt and Williams; Williams ceded snaps to a sixth OL and also Jordan Paskorz, who got in some good blocks in the middle of the game. Funchess also lined up at TE from time to time.

And the OL. Burzynski started, tore his ACL, was replaced by Bosch. Glasgow was the C. Lewan was the LT, Magnuson the RG, Schofield the RT, except when guys were flipping all over the place. This game's version of tackle over was almost always a 6 OL with Kalis reclaiming his RG spot and Lewan flanking someone else: Schofield on the left and Magnuson on the right. Much less likely to get your QB murdered.

I noted OL changes in the notes below. Anyone not mentioned is playing their usual position. Apologies for cutesy name shortenings, but you try writing "Burzynski" and "Magnuson" for 80 plays. (Schofield defies shortening.)

[After the JUMP: nuclear samba Gallon.]


Picture Pages: Whoops, Nope, Totally Packaged

Picture Pages: Whoops, Nope, Totally Packaged Comment Count

Brian October 24th, 2013 at 11:59 AM

So yeah, I concluded yesterday that the quick fire throw to Gallon in the second quarter was a presnap read, not a true packaged play, and then about two plays into the remainder of the UFR, Michigan runs the same thing with the cornerback showing blitz presnap and M runs it after he backs out. Timing: I do not have it.

To the screenshots!

It's first and ten; Michigan's trying to respond to Indiana drawing to within one and has first and ten on their own 23. Same setup as the last play: 3 wide, Gallon alone to the boundary, IU in their nickel-ish package. This time the corner is indicating blitz.


On the snap, though, he backs out. Gardner's checking on Gallon, seeing if he's got the hitch.


When it become clear that the CB is not coming, he changes his plan. Taylor Lewan has the same idea, as his initial reaction was to pick up the corner. He's flared out to do so, and now has to frantically try to get back into the play and block someone who's trying to defend what's actually occurring.


Which is a handoff.

Now: Lewan's flare has borked a couple of things. See 98 below? He is being doubled and will end up three yards downfield, where it is ideal for him to go in the eyes of the offense.


The other DT, though, is being single blocked by Glasgow and if he chooses can decide to go upfield of him to the outside, which he does. Glasgow locks him out and pushes him past the play; Toussaint has one lane straight up the middle. Bosch deals with a DE well, but there's no one for an ILB.


That's unfortunate, since a guy dealing with him is a big gain with the other LB on a pass drop he's convinced to take by Funchess releasing into the slot LB. Even if he doesn't take this the backwards direction of the other DT would make it difficult for him to get to the hole.

Lewan tries to recover; can't quite; Toussaint makes the guy miss, which gets him a decent gain before the shuffling backside end comes down from behind to tackle.


Five yards.



Items of Interest

Nope, totally packaged. Gardner's first option is the hitch in the event of a CB blitz, and he decides that it's not there, so he hands off. Post snap read determining run or pass is the Smart Football-approved definition of a packaged play. Packaged.

An old bugaboo. This harkens back to some oddities Michigan had in their plays like this a couple years ago. When they ran the inverted veer in 2011, Michigan would often block the guy they were supposedly optioning with the pulling guard, leaving Denard to beat a guy if Michigan was going to pick up anything. This happened not infrequently, but it seemed pretty weird that you'd run an option and not option anyone.

This is a version of that old problem: Lewan flares out to block the corner when Michigan has a plan to deal with that. They're optioning him and they still block him, or would if he didn't back out into pass coverage. That leaves one of the ILBs free.

The rest of the line blocks it like they should if the corner blitz was coming; seems like someone on the OL made an adjustment to the blitz IU ostentatiously showed and backed out of.

A minor place. I don't want to make any grand conclusions from these two plays. A number of programs from the Okie State/WVU Hologorsen tree will build large chunks of their offense around packaged plays; Michigan has only dabbled in this department under Borges. They're still dabbling. The OL blocks this goofy because they are not on the same page as the play concept. If the guy making the line check understands that the corner is never a threat, this is a nice gain that doesn't require Toussaint to get his Hart on.

This isn't the first time they've tried these things—I remember pointing out a package to Smart Football a couple years ago. That didn't work, and it seemed like it got put on the shelf because the coaches weren't enthused with Denard's ability to read post-snap. Devin executed both of these; could they have been a test run for Michigan State?

Probably not, but here's hoping they've got something up their sleeve.

Bosch check. This was about par for Bosch's day. He got decent to good movement on his guys, probably better than Magnuson on average. Hopes were consistently tempered by the guy next to him, as when Lewan latched onto a dude he all but threw the dude into his teammates, ninjas-attacking-hero style. Indiana's terrible. He'll get a trial by fire next Saturday.

An accidental RPS. The other ILB's pass drop here is an interesting offshoot. He's reading Funchess and sees him release, and so goes to cover, as Funchess blocks (or attempts to block) IU's hybrid space player. That leaves the OL five on five in the box, which should be a profitable situation.

Every time a DE shuffles like this I want Gardner to pull, which is probably irrational. I don't think he should, but I have this visceral thing where it's like GO GIT EM, because is anyone in that position really keeping up with Gardner on the corner? I say no, especially when you've got Funchess bothering the slot LB. All DEs are shuffling and Gardner has beat them all around the edge. Sometimes there's help out there; that is the only thing that keeps these plays down.

Triple option? On this play it's asking a lot of him to read the corner and then come across the field to read the end, so the pull here is almost certainly not something that he has in the toolbox anyway. So, no, just a single option I think. The read option nature of the play does let you sort of option off two guys, though, except "optioning off" the corner is really just nerfing the corner blitz.


Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-22-13: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 10-22-13: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko October 24th, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Word of the day?

“Huh? Uh, let me think about that one.”

MGoPetulant: “Fake bubble.”

“… Okay. Questions.”

Will you keep the same five offensive linemen that you ended the game with?

“We’ll see. It’s going to be competitive, but those five guys did a pretty good job during the game. It’s going to get tougher. And we’re going to have to demonstrate some consistency. But if they can do that, they will be the five offensive linemen. But we’re not eliminating anybody. We still have some talented kids in the wings. We’re trying to keep this thing competitive. Do we want the five guys? Yes, we do. I’ll answer the question before you ask it. But that being said, we got to this point where we’re pretty functional now because we’ve kept it competitive. We don’t like doing it this way. We’d rather just have the same five from the beginning, but it hasn’t worked out that way.”

MGoQuestion: After looking at the film, did you think Kyle Bosch and Erik Magnuson an upgrade at the guard positions?

“I don’t know if they were an upgrade. They were an alternative, and they had a chance to prove what they can do. They didn’t do a bad job. Upgrade is a pretty strong word. I wouldn’t say that.”


Mailbag: Ceilings, D Mitigation Attempt Rejected, Lineman Buffer Zone

Mailbag: Ceilings, D Mitigation Attempt Rejected, Lineman Buffer Zone Comment Count

Brian October 23rd, 2013 at 3:42 PM

10370587676_72b4b73b35_z[1]Ceiling issues.

[ed: sent after PSU game. Eric Upchurch photo @ right.]

Something that has been gnawing at me for a while is what we have really  reached Hoke’s ceiling in terms of coaching? I wonder if only a generational player like Robinson was able to change that the past two years. I don’t doubt Hoke is a terrific person that will be able to recruit due to his personality, I just don’t know that there is depth regarding football strategy as well which is required to be elite. I otherwise just can’t explain such a discombobulated state going into a third year of a coaching staff even with a younger o-line.


I don't agree with that premise. It looks like Hoke is bringing in a large number of NFL talents on both sides of the ball and if those guys do work out, the philosophy of the staff will be in line with what Michigan can do. Hoke is working with a decimated senior/redshirt junior class that provided his team Gardner, Ryan, Black, and zero other starters. The class after that one was constructed during the chaotic final days of the Rodriguez administration and suffered further when Hoke was given only three weeks to add ten guys.

There is no comparison between those two classes—which should be the heart of the team—and what Michigan will begin to have when the 2012 and 2013 classes, which have lost one of their 52 members so far.

This is not the ceiling. Michigan loses Quinton Washington, Courtney Avery, and Thomas Gordon after the year, and no one else from their two deep (if Cam Gordon is now the third-string SAM.) They bring in Jabrill Peppers and probably DaShawn Hand, either or both of whom could be generational players. They can go from a good defense to an elite one. On offense… I don't know, man. I'm on the Art Briles side of the fence

"We do not try to go to the body to set up the knockout shot," Briles said at a recent coaching clinic. "We try to score on every snap."

…and some of the stuff they've tried to do with personnel ill-suited to do it sets your teeth on edge. Once they have those guys in place, though, things should be smoother, if somewhat old fashioned.

This 8-4 lookin' Gator Bowl outfit is not the ceiling. The minimum reasonable expectation for that is "not able to beat Urban Meyer much."

[After THE JUMP: maybe the D wasn't that bad? (It was.) And linemen running amok.]


This Week's Obsession: The Brahma Defense

This Week's Obsession: The Brahma Defense Comment Count

Seth October 23rd, 2013 at 2:32 PM


On one hand it was freak plays against a freak offense. On the other hand it was a whole LOT of offense. On the other other hand Indiana is actually quite talented. On the other other other regression in pass rush. On the other other other they're consistently there to make plays. On the other other other other they consistently don't make those plays.

The Pantheon:

  • Vishnu Cook. Cannot be exactly defined. Known to be rather impatient with people who screw with his flowers.
  • Aci Parashaktibender. The personification of the divine power of creativity, particularly off the dribble.
  • Shiva Fisher. The destroyer who comes in both the form of a benevolent copy editor, and the fearsome form of a chartmonger.
  • Blue Indra South Bend. God of rain, thunderstorms, and snark, with hair and beard the color of flames.
  • Dheikovantari. God of medicine and that one constraint play he's always on about.
  • Coach Brhaspati. Guru of the gods.
  • Saramathleti. God of knowledge, music, arts, science, and overseer of vast spreadsheets wherein these things are contained.

The Question:

What is the essence of Michigan's 2013 defense, and how will it hold up against the remaining schedule?

Mathlete: For me, I see just one thing about this defense. They are a good defense. They are not a great defense, they are not a dominant defense, they are not a shut down defense, but definitely a good defense. They've had two awful halves (second half against Akron and second last weekend).

2 -Upchurch - IMG_4561
They are a good defense. They will never be a great defense. They are a Thomas Gordon defense. [Upchurch]

They've been put in some bad positions by the offense and haven't been able to bail them out a lot. But they haven't put the offense in a bad position yet this season. The only real deficits the offense has faced this year have come after defensive touchdowns or short fields induced by the offense.

I think Mattison has found the perfect positioning for the talent and the offense that Michigan has. Lacking real play makers he has put together a defense that has limited big plays against non-Indiana teams, forced teams to drive the field, convert third downs and go 10 plays without making a drive ending mistake. Most teams can't do that very times in a game. Nebraska, a healthy Northwestern and Ohio State probably can. Michigan State hasn't proven it can against an FBS team that isn't Indiana. Iowa may be able to, but probably not to a major degree. This works because this defense shouldn't be needed to win games. They aren't quite talented/experienced enough to do that without incurring major risk. Michigan's offense should be dynamic enough that a good defense forcing teams to beat them should get them to 9 wins, easily.

That's where the trouble came against Penn State, the offense didn't push the pedal enough and the defense wasn't quite good enough to push against the stacked deck. I am convinced that an offense that is aggressive, even with a few extra turnovers is the perfect compliment to this defense. We will struggle against the remaining opponents if that aggressiveness goes away because turnovers will still happen (that's football) but the defense is just not equipped yet to be the game-changing unit.

[Brian's complete lack of surprise, after the Jump]