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]

Hokepoints Empties the Bubble Drawer

Hokepoints Empties the Bubble Drawer

Submitted by Seth on December 3rd, 2013 at 3:34 PM

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[Fuller]

The best reason I've been able to come up with for how this Michigan team could put up that kind of yardage against Ohio State is that Ohio State's defensive players are—man, how do I say this without being a total jackass homer rival?—more prone to mental errors than your average Big Ten starters.

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I hereby dedicate this post In memory of the too-short MGoCareer of Heiko "Bubble Screen" Yang. Who needs doctor money anyway?

Another way to say it: the best and most representative player on that unit is Ryan Shazier, who is basically Jonas Mouton with five years of good coaching. Another way to say it: they're exactly as dumb as they are talented, and that's why a group of 5-stars are just an average defense. I am a total jackass homer rival.

The second-best reason, and the best you can say without coming off like a TJHR, is that which Borges himself apparently gave in the pre-game interview with Musberger: "We emptied the drawer." In other words, they finally ran all of those counters to the things they'd been doing all year.

There will be plenty of time in the months ahead to wonder why it took this long to throw paper, especially when that gamble came up just short (and the last play was a rock that OSU allegedly* RPS'ed) of paying off. For the moment, let's look at one of the "third" things they brought out for this game and what that did for the offense.

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* Ohio State's players threw out one of those heartbreaking quotes about being uber-prepared for what was coming, but the play also had Gallon about to break open.

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It's hard to argue Funchess isn't an "ideal" slot ninja, isn't it? [Upchurch]

The Bubble Package

Yards per attempt; attempts in parentheses:

Opponent Run Bubble Other Total YPP
MSU 2.0 (1) 8.0 (1)   5.0
Northwestern 5.3 (7) 5.7 (3)   5.4
Iowa 3.0 (5) 1.0 (2)   2.4
Ohio State 4.5 (4) 7.7 (3) 18.0 (1) 7.4
TOTALS 4.2 (17) 5.6 (9) 18.0 (1) 5.2

Michigan does the bubble differently than Rich Rod—he made it an automatic check against the slot defender getting too close to his running game—but both work under the same principle: keep your grubby SAM's hands away from my interior running game!

The Borges Bubble game debuted against Michigan State as a bubble screen(!) that got a remarkable-for-that-day eight yards, followed by a fake bubble (out of the shotgun) to inside zone that got unfortunately blown up by a double-a gap blitz. It really came out in the Northwestern game: ten plays for  5.4 YPP. Of those, three were the bubble screen, four were a fake to an inside zone, and three to an iso. Once it was on film, Iowa adapted but Michigan ran the same (basically) two things they had against the Wildcats. The result was 2.4 YPP on seven tries: 2 bubbles and 5 inside zones.

They run it out of different formations, usually with two tight ends opposite the bubble twins (20/27 plays I have charted were from the Ace twins twin TE or I-form twins). They do run other stuff from these formations but twins (two receivers to one side) with Gallon on the line and Funchess in the slot is a good sign the bubble game is in play.

It's a good fit for this team since it: A) de-emphasizes interior blocking by holding the SAM outside and letting his OL play 5-on-5; B) Utilizes the surprising multi-threats of Gallon (as a blocker) and Funchess (as a slot receiver), and C) Lets them get Derrick Green running downhill.

Rock

I don't have Iowa video but I can show you how they adapted. The first time Michigan ran it they threatened blitz with the SAM:

Threat

Then had that guy back out and attack Funchess. The idea was to lure Michigan into a screen if this was a check, and then blow it all to hell. Like I said, it's on tape. Fortunately Michigan doesn't run checks; they called run:

Real

Iowa got to play their base defense against that basic zone run, and the result was 5-ish yards. That is rock on rock: it's blockers versus the blocked until safeties arrive, however the SAM was kept away from the running game by the threat of Funchess. The thing is, up to then Michigan only had a rock and a scissors, so Iowa could spend all day in this defense, ceding 3-5 yards when Michigan ran it, and blowing up the bubble constraint.

Here's what this looked like when OSU defended it:

Same playcall as Iowa except since they knew it wasn't a check they didn't bother with fake SAM ("Star" in Buckeye terminology) blitz—just lined him up against Funchess. A screen is dead.

But watch Joey Bosa (#97 on the bottom of OSU's line) get way too upfield and try to knock down the screen pass that isn't coming, thus taking himself completely out of the play. He's matched against Lewan instead of Butt, though, so Michigan was probably going to get something out of that block anyway; you still don't want to make it so easy.

The middle linebacker (#14 Curtis Grant) compounded matters by Obi Ezeh-ing his way to the hole, which gave Kerridge enough time to arrive and pop in an advantageous position. Finally, the safety (#3 Corey "City in Pennsylvania" Brown) took a long time to read the play, backing out a few steps before setting up at the 1st down line. He might have been run through if the other safety (#4 C.J. Barnett) hadn't made his way over, got depth with a neat little athletic step, and helped stop it.

So rock on rock nets a big hole and big yards, because Ohio State's defenders are something-something box of rocks. But they're not the only talent-deficient guys on the field. Michigan's OL screwed up rock on the third bubble package play of the game:

That's inside zone. With the Star taken out by the bubble fake, everyone is blocked except the safety coming down (#3 Corey "a Jewish suburb west of Pittsburgh" Brown). And he was set up outside so if Mags and Glasgow can hold their downfield blocks this could bust huge. However Glasgow and Kalis didn't do a very good job on their exchange—or else the DT (#63 Michael Bennett) just did a great job fighting through it—and the Buckeye DT ends the play with a mouthful. Bennett was bent back when Glasgow released so my inclination here is to point at Kalis and call it ten-man football.

In the Iowa play I wish I had video of, that DE threw off Butt, and the middle linebacker, despite drawing Lewan, managed to attack quick enough to cut off escape until everyone else arrived, which didn't take long since Iowa's safeties were playing with their ears back. However Green's momentum vs the size of those guys got an extra two yards. Here his 240 lbs. are irrelevant against a wall like Bennett.

[After the jump: other things you can make your fist into]

Dear Diary Can't Name Ten Good Plays Against Iowa

Dear Diary Can't Name Ten Good Plays Against Iowa

Submitted by Seth on November 22nd, 2013 at 12:03 PM

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Drkboarder's genius.

This 'Merritt's Mention: How much punning has David Merritt had to put up with? Not enough that he balked at calling his fashion-brand-for-a-cause "Merit." The store donates a fifth of its revenues to college scholarships and educational enrichment programs, and he just opened one in Ann Arbor.

We Start Up Front. In 2009 Michigan started off pretty strong, including an encouraging win over Notre Dame. Maybe the shaky backfield got a little beat up for want of a safety or two but hey: Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Then it got worse. Then it got worser. Then it got awful. And then there were lots of diaries (myself among them) blaming attrition and poor recruiting on the old coaches and all sorts of things that could explain it other than "this is what will get our coaches fired."

So…offensive line diaries.

A Single Unified Theory of Offensive Lineptidute? Provided by Yeoman and bumped early last week, "Short Ride in a Broken-Down Machine" is the definitive study relating Michigan's offensive issues to young starters on the interior OL. As to the small correlation he had a great answer:

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At least we're reasonably sure that these problems are temporary. Even if things might get worse next year before they get better, having a pile of Bradens to choose from in 2015-'17 should mean a very good offensive line, unless the coaching is really that terrible.

Given those enormous differences in baseline levels of the various FBS teams it's amazing to me that we could see anything like 5-8% of a performance difference being credited to any one team demographic, especially when the difference is measured using an SOS-adjusted metric like Fremeau.

The rubber really hits the pavement when he thought to compare teams to their historical norm, which is a quite elegant stand-in for expectations (including recruiting). Ultimately he found teams that have significant depth and start freshmen are just fine because the freshmen are just that good, but teams in Michigan's situation typically have very large systemic problems. Because fans tend to overstate, there's a reactionary tendency from the more rational among us to think "it's probably not as bad as it looks." Reality check: it's as bad as if we had Idaho's recruiting problems. Yeoman did throw some hope for next year in the comments:

(1) [OTs Do Matter Theory] The Bust Index for the entire line will improve from 75% to 65%, which would improve oFEI by about .06 and move us (all else being equal which of course it isn't) up about ten spots, or

(2) [OTs Don't Matter Theory] The Bust index for the interior will improve from 69% to 46%, which would improve oFEI by about .175 and move us up about about 20 spots.

He followed up with a Kalis-centric study that tracks every (non-juco) 5-star offensive lineman since 2003 and what contributions that player made in Year X. Findings are the good ones mostly started by Year 2, but that there's no cause to worry until they're not starting in Year 3. Actually the biggest thing to worry about is how few actually make good on their promise, not that Kalis hasn't yet. Diarist of the Month, this guy.

Third Down and Guh. The guy in the running with Yeoman is reshp1, who had a great OL diary two weeks ago, and this week decided to get into all those failed 3rd downs. It's UFR-long, so if you promise to read it (okay if you promise to skim through it) I'll share the money table here. Promise. PROMISE! You know what, fine, I'll put it after the jump, so you still have to click on something you lazy straw man of a dear diary reader.

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on November 21st, 2013 at 3:43 PM

TUBE NOTES: These are not tubes, but it's pretty much tubes.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan defended spread stuff exactly like Northwestern did, leaving in a 4-3 and sliding their linebackers to the slot receiver. Since Northwestern was in a spread all the time, this was what they did all the time.

4-3-even-slide 3

Cam Gordon over the first slot receiver, Morgan in the gray area over #3, Ross in the box.

When Northwestern went with two WRs to one side instead of three two LBs were in the box.

4-3-over-slot

Michigan only went to 4-3 stuff when Northwestern went into goal line business.

pistol fb goal line

Michigan kept two deep safeties most of the day, which was a change from Nebraska.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was Countess and Taylor at corner with Stribling the third guy when Michigan went to the nickel, which was a lot less frequent. Gordon and Avery got most of the snaps at safety, with Wilson rotating in on occasion and Furman getting one drive, IIRC. He did not chart.

Linebacker the usual. Morgan/Ross/Bolden rotation at ILB, Ryan and Cam Gordon at SAM.

On the line, Beyer and Wormley rotated at SDE, Ojemudia and Clark at WDE. Black, Washington, and Henry got almost all of the DT snaps, with Black again mostly at NT. Glasgow got a few snaps, and Charlton got DT snaps in the nickel package.

[After THE JUMP: infinite clips of Mike Trumpy running for two yards.]

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-19-13: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-19-13: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on November 21st, 2013 at 11:30 AM

The Borgias. Has anyone watched this show? Is it any good?

How much of the better running game was getting Derrick some snaps, and how much of it was coming up front?

“I think it was both. We gave them a chance to go. We had several plays we pushed the line of scrimmage really well. That’s been most of our issues, is we’ve just had trouble getting our backs started, but in this game there are very few times we got the ball and got clobbered. We came off of combination blocks. Some really fundamentally good-looking football plays almost through the whole game. Our issue this game was third down conversions. If we could have gotten third down conversions, we would have had a hell of a game. But that’s part of the game. It kept us from scoring more points.”

Opponent Watch: Week 12

Opponent Watch: Week 12

Submitted by BiSB on November 21st, 2013 at 10:03 AM

About last week:

It’s not your fault. Well, actually it might be partly your fault

Upcoming Opponents:

Iowa (6-4, 3-3 B1G)

Last Game: BYE

Recap: BYE means they didn’t play football.  So there isn’t much to recap. Instead, we can talk about Iowa basketball. The Hawkeyes are #25 in the Coaches Poll, and the first team out of the AP Poll. They haven’t exactly played a brutal schedule (UNC-Wilmington, Nebraska-Omaha, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and Abiline Christian), but they are 4-0. Aaron White is scoring 15.3 ppg on 71% shooting and grabbing 7.8 rpg, and Roy Devyn-Marble is averaging 15 per game with a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Oh crap, it’s still football season, isn’t it?

/deep, resigned sigh

It’s hard to know what to make of Iowa based on a meta-review of their season. They have some solid performances, and a couple of clunkers. They played Ohio State even through three quarters, but struggled to put away Missouri State. They played one solid half against Sparty, and one ugly half against Sparty. They turned in a decent but ultimately doomed performance against Wisconsin (think MInnesota’s game against Michigan; low variance, but opponent’s rock > their rock). They beat Minnesota soundly, but went to overtime with Northwestern in the midst of Pat Fitzgerald’s neverending tumble into pouting insanity. All in all, their record is probably a fair representation of who they are: 6-4, 3-3 in conference. Solid team, hardly a world-beater. They are #39 in FEI, just behind Michigan’s #35.

Everything about this team is generic but pretty okay; Jake Rudock is completing almost exactly 60% of his passes for just under 7 YPA. They average a solid but unspectacular 4.5 YPC. They have scored 125 points in conference play and have surrendered 119 points. They are average. The problem, of course, is that right now Michigan is trying to find average, and no one really knows where they are in that search at any given moment.

The good news is that Iowa doesn’t do any of the stuff that should really scare Michigan’s defense. They tempo a little bit, but they don’t TEMPO tempo, ya know (shut up, Hypothetical Straw Man Iowa Fan… going no-huddle and snapping the ball with 6 seconds on the play clock doesn’t count as “tempo”). They don’t spread the field very much; they’re lining up more spread out these days, but the offense remains largely the same as in the past. They rely on running between the tackles and setting up screens and draws. They ain’t Indiana. The BAD news is that Iowa’s run defense remains good enough that Michigan will probably be staring at 2nd and 9-to-12 all day. This is going to be so much fun to watch. Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.

This team is as frightening as: A giant noodle wearing an alternate jersey.

Noodle Jersey

Fear Level = 7

Michigan should worry about: Those Iowa Tight Ends. We all know the history of the blitheringly open seam routes of recent Iowa games, and I worry about Joe Bolden’s pass drops and his ability to carry Jake Duzey or C.J. Fiedorewitz Fadorawicz Fodoravitz the older guy down the seam.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Statistically speaking, it is unlikely that we will have to watch THIS unwatchable game for nearly as long as we had to watch LAST week’s unwatchable game.

When they play Michigan: Proper eye protection is a must.

The Goggles

Next game: vs. Michigan

[AFTER THE JUMP: Like it matters]

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on November 20th, 2013 at 7:02 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Northwestern stuck to a 4-3 virtually the entire game, with pretty predictable rules as to how they would line up.

4-3-even-slide 2

When Michigan aligned its strength to the short side of the field and had twins, NW would slide the LBs and play an even front. They would slide the LBs to the twins and shift their line to the strength of the formation when M aligned with their strength to the field.

When Michigan presented Ace, they would play a 4-3 under.

nw-4-3-under

The primary exception to this was the redzone, where Northwestern played their safeties as extra LBs.

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Five yards off the LOS and coming on the snap is why those two Derrick Green carries from around the ten ended up losing yards. The first one was actually blocked quite well.

Note that the way NW aligned consistently invited the bubble fake run game, as their corners played off and the slot LB had to respect the bubble. With a safety over the top those two guys removed three players from the box and left Michigan with seven on seven blocking opportunities without having to use the threat of Gardner's legs. It will still work if teams play Michigan like this; if they don't Michigan will have to find something else.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, WR, and the OL were all as you would expect. Dileo seemed to return full strength in this one and this meant Jackson was removed. Paskorz got some early PT but it was Williams most of the way as inline blocky guy. The line remained Lewan/Bosch/Glasgow/Magnuson/Schofield save for some goal line plays on which Kalis game in at RG and weird stuff happened otherwise, like wing TE Taylor Lewan.

Running back was of course an overhaul, with Derrick Green getting the bulk of the work, De'Veon Smith becoming a 30% second, and Justice Hayes acting as a third down back sometimes. Joe Kerridge also got a few snaps as a running back in the shotgun on passes.

[After THE JUMP: wherein we seem relatively happy with nine points in regulation.]

Wednesday Presser Transcript 11-20-13: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 11-20-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 20th, 2013 at 5:38 PM

Bullets:

  • Quinton Washington and Jibreel Black have been splitting snaps situationally. QWash could get more snaps against Iowa because of Iowa's offensive style.
  • Hoke is disappointed that Taylor Lewan wasn't an Outland Trophy finalist.
  • Justice Hayes's future is at slot receiver, but he'll do some spot duty as a third-down back.
  • The Borges transcript will be up tomorrow morning because I am forever delinquent.

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Opening remarks:

“Really good practice yesterday. The energy level, the execution of things was really good on both sides of the ball. I’m real proud of what the kicking game did last week. We need to do the same thing this week, only we want to see if we can get a little more out of the return game. Some of that was predicated by wind and everything else, but we though the kicking game was something that we wanted to improve. The young guys on that team have continued to improve. That’s helped us a lot in a lot of situations, but we’ve had a good week so far.”

Picture Pages: Devin Gardner's Near Interception Pity Party

Picture Pages: Devin Gardner's Near Interception Pity Party

Submitted by Brian on November 20th, 2013 at 1:06 PM

SITE NOTE: due to this taking longer than I wanted it to and triple OT, UFR will be in the evening today.

Devin Gardner threw many passes that hit Northwestern defenders on Saturday, a good number of them I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DROPPED THAT interceptions. There were moments when I was going over the game where it seemed like it wasn't really all that bad because of thing X or thing Y, and then moments where it was very, very bad. So I thought I'd pull this out of a larger UFR discussion and try to evaluate just what happened on the various passes on which Gardner's throws hit Northwestern players.

Normally I wouldn't put batted passes in here, but there were a few incidents where batted passes were the only thing separating Northwestern from yet another pass that hit them in the hands and was inexplicably dropped, so they are also added.

Category #1: Understandable Items

#1: Gardner gets a heavy rush due to a bad blitz pickup, escapes it, and tries to throw late to a covered Devin Funchess; ball gets batted down at the line.

throw-3

That's probably a PBU at worst, and he's under heavy duress.

#2: Michigan botches a freeze play when Northwestern jumps but does not cross the line. Gardner thinks he's got a free play and tries a back shoulder fade to Gallon that could be farther outside; it's a nice play by a DB who seems totally bailed out to come back to the ball and a poor one by Gallon not to break this off sooner once he perceives the DB is way over the top. The DB actually reads this obvious back shoulder opportunity before he does; he should be breaking back so that he gets to the ball before the DB.

throw-6throw-7throw-8

#3: Third down rollout on the next play sees no one open. Gardner tries to fit it in to Dileo anyway, and leaves it a little inside of where it should be. Gardner's about to be hammered and goes for it.

roll-1

This wasn't really close to an INT and you might as well try for the first down.

Category #2: Death-Defying Really Bad Ideas

#1: The first incident of this variety happens three minutes into the second quarter. Gardner drops back, pump-fakes a slant to Funchess, and then throws it.

throw-1

He does get pressure from another crappy slide protection on which Lewan ignores a DE, and unless Gallon is open deeper to the outside the best case scenario here is a sack if he does not throw the ball. That was the move.

#2: Gardner bobbles a snap on third and three and comes up firing a wheel route that NW jumps and is thinking pick six on; they blitzed and left Jake Butt screamingly wide open.

throw-2

The snap bobble takes Gardner's eyes off the defense and contributes here. Still: turrible.

#3: Michigan fortunate to have a slant batted down at the line as Northwestern undercuts whatever Gardner is looking at, in fact with two guys in Butt's case.

funch-slant

Gardner had Gallon as an option on the other side of the field.

[After the JUMP: another category, and evaluation.]

This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie

This Week's Obsession: Ingredients for Suck Pie

Submitted by Seth on November 20th, 2013 at 8:58 AM

humblepie

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.
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    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]