What Is: A Reach Block

What Is: A Reach Block Comment Count

Seth August 24th, 2016 at 12:00 PM

This is a new series I've begun to serve as an ad hoc glossary of specific football concepts/terminology that get thrown around in our articles. The plan is to discuss as they come up and then (probably forget to) link them when we're talking about this stuff down the road.


When an offensive lineman blocks a defensive player who's lined up playside of him. For example on this play Mason Cole is going to block this guy:


…on a play going to the right of him.  In other words this play is going to the defender's left, and it's Mason Cole's job is to be in the way of that defender going left.


There are lots of O-line technique videos out there but here's the simplest:

The reaching blocker takes a short (that's key) step at an angle toward the defender's opposite shoulder. That puts him in a stance sort of like that of an Olympic sprinter, so his next step can launch him across that defender and get your helmet across the defender's torso. Lock in that victory by putting the inside arm into the defender's outside number, and pivot around to seal. The key is quick feet and a wide stance to not get off-balance—remember the defender is also fighting.


Yuh huh. The lineman has a fraction of a second between when the ball is snapped and the defense starts to read the blocking to get around that guy, get leverage, and seal the dude being blocked before dude can put a stop to this. It is the hardest of blocks.

Coaches emphasize different talking points but the basics are a short first step toward the outside shoulder, get your arms into him and your head across to seal, all the while keeping your feet apart so don't get knocked off.

Back when (IU OL coach) Greg Frey was at Michigan under Rich Rod, Michigan would try this a handful of times a game, and Molk was better at this than just about anyone I've watched closely. In fact Brian had a Picture Pages in 2008 to show Molk getting a guy lined up outside the guard.


Michigan tried a bunch in 2007, when they were a zone stretch team. This had varying results: Jake Long and (former tight end) Adam Kraus could pull it off occasionally; Justin Boren, Jeremy Ciulla, Alex Mitchell and Reuben Riley were comically bad at it. Against FBS competition it takes a very agile player.

[After THE JUMP: running it, and defending it]


Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 7th, 2014 at 3:23 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan debuted a Stanford-esque formation on which the entire world lined up across the front:

Ace Errybody

This had three tight ends (Williams, Kerridge, and Erik Magnuson, usually) and Funchess. I called it "Ace Errybody" because I feel we've forgotten about Antoine Dodson's raconteur status.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL as per usual, with Magnuson donning 81 to moonlight as a blocking tight end. Bo Dever got some late run at WR, seemingly after Norfleet was injured. RB actually started out with Hayes and then mixed Smith in; when both Hayes and Smith ended up dinged Johnson got his shot.

[After THE JUMP: precisely calibrating how fast our Drake Johnson roll should be.]


Upon Further Review 2014: Defense Vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense Vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2014 at 3:54 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent almost every standard down in a 4-3 over with Ross as your SAM. Once Indiana managed to get Ross flipped way out to the sideline. He's the guy at the bottom of the screen here:

4-3 even stretched

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: No Henry, so lots of Wormley and lesser amounts of Godin. Gedeon made the odd appearance when Michigan went to a 3-3-5. Countess didn't play much… pretty sure only nickel packages.

The rest was as per usual.

[After THE JUMP: shortest UFR in a long time, because Indiana.]


Monday Presser 11-3-14: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser 11-3-14: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 3rd, 2014 at 6:01 PM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke found out from Brandon that he would be resigning on Friday
  • Hoke will have a meeting with Hackett “sooner than later”
  • Peppers is getting better but isn’t where he needs to be, and Hoke said he’d “…have something soon” on the situation. Read between the lines and it doesn’t look good for Peppers returning to the field this season
  • Erik Magnuson “could” stay at TE, but he’s also first in at LT, LG, or RT if needed
  • Hoke referred to a Devin Funchess toe injury when talking about Darboh getting increased opportunities, so if you’re reading this congratulations, the universe somehow hasn’t collapsed into itself yet!
  • Hoke isn’t worried about his job. He says if you worry about it then you get distracted from the job itself, and that he’s never been worried about employment

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. Number one, sorry I was late. I hate to keep you waiting. It was good to win last week. It's always good to win. That’s kind of redundant and obvious but for really how these guys of practice, how they prepare it's always good to be on the right side of the scoreboard when they do that. I thought when you look at how from both sides of the ball they played together it was truly a team win because we came over a little adversity. Defensively really thought guys played well up front. Tackles for loss I think we had 12 so the negative plays, that helped. Offensively 184 yards rushing, which is 5.3 I think it was per rush. Nice to see to be able to end the game to be able to possess the ball. They only had 53 or 54 defensive plays so opportunities weren't there because of time of possession. We did set up some short fields with the two fumble recoveries and that was very positive, but like anything else it's nice that you’re balanced and that's what we were but we've got another game on Saturday with Northwestern. We look forward to that. Came in and got some things done yesterday when you look at it more from a health standpoint but it's exciting to go to Chicago and play Northwestern.”


Has Erik Magnuson’s role change on an ongoing basis or was that something you did for one game because you were short?
“No, I think that something that we could stay with. Obviously it was we were short a little bit but he's a good athlete as far as a left tackle what he can do some things and I thought we put him in No. 81.”

Can you talk about the progression of your guards and how they’ve kind of gotten better as the year’s gone on?
“I think that’s- I think Kyle Kalis. A little concerned early in camp because he had a back issue that flared up and we were a little concerned about that but I think because a lot of it is his toughness and how he loves to play the game. I’ve been happy with him. He's going to get us a false start once a game it seems like, where we’ve got to do a better job and he's got to do a better job and he is, but the physicalness he’s played with has been good. I think Graham [Glasgow] over on the left side I think has been very good for us. I just think the development of all those guys has improved and Graham's played center a little bit at times.”

What is your reaction to Dave Brandon stepping down?
“Well, I think the one thing is I have a lot of respect for Dave and from a reaction standpoint he did a lot of good things for the University and now I'm really excited to work with Jim [Hackett].”

Have you met with Jim?
“I saw him after the game briefly. Just briefly.”

Did he talk to you about-
“No, it was just happy with the homecoming win, all that kind of stuff.”

Coaches are often tied to an AD. Does this make you any more concerned?
“You know, I've never been concerned about a job and I never will be because if I get concerned about a job then you get distracted from it. I threw brake drums on the assembly line for Dayton-Walther during the summer and I was never concerned because I knew I was going to outwork everybody. For this if I get distracted then I'm not being fair to those kids who haven't been distracted, so I've never, ever worried about employment.”

[After THE JUMP: bristling at player (under)development accusations and an ominous Peppers progress report you probably guessed weeks ago]


MGoPodcast 6.10: The Game Is Ova

MGoPodcast 6.10: The Game Is Ova

1 hour, 2 minutes.


[Eric Upchurch]


Hooray! What Dave did wrong, what the student leadership did right, and directions Michigan can take in the future to break away from the corporate NBA/NFL style atmosphere they've created in favor of something more old school/organic, with MLS a touchstone.


Talking about Jim Phillips and Joe Castiglione, as we've already run down the Michigan men.


We talk about what we can talk about after that game. The Drake for real?


Several BIG TENs this week. Wow.


"Die, All Right!," The Hives
"Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?," Ted Leo
"Bigmouth Strikes Again," The Smiths
"The Mariner's Revenge Song," The Decemberists
"The Old Account Was Settled Long Ago," Johnny Cash


This podcast about the year in pop music butts with the AV Club's editor and his mom is called "Anamomda," and thus endeth the competition for best podcast name ever.


One Frame At A Time: Indiana

One Frame At A Time: Indiana Comment Count

Ace November 3rd, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Drake Johnson, Ann Arbor native and dual-sport star at the unparalleled Pioneer High School, broke the century mark and scored two touchdowns on Saturday. His second trip to the end zone looked pretty dang cool:

Even cooler was seeing his mother, longtime M cheerleading coach Pam St. John, allowing herself a moment to admire the TD and let it all soak in:

This season—and Saturday's weather—may have turned warm hearts to icy stone, but that'll reverse the process in a hurry.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the Indiana game in GIFs.]


The Invention Of Voting

The Invention Of Voting Comment Count

Brian November 3rd, 2014 at 10:31 AM

11/1/2014 – Michigan 34, Indiana 10 – 4-5, 2-3 Big Ten


This happened. The end. [Eric Upchurch]

Sometimes there's a game that does not have anything to say about it. This was that game. Michigan won 34-10, the same score they beat Miami (Not That Miami) by, and it felt a lot like a replay of that throwaway nonconference game.

The opposing offense wasn't going anywhere unless Michigan busted something. Michigan's running game alternated between frustrating lack of holes and lanes so open you could drive a truck through. The defensive backs could have spent the entire afternoon reading The Economist and sipping Kermit tea and nothing would have changed. Indiana had eight attempts. This game was almost literally none of their business.

Michigan thudded out to a 17-0 lead with the help of a couple fumbles that somehow benched Tevin Coleman, and then the game was over. Indiana turned a Gardner interception that ended up inside the Michigan ten into a doinked field goal. Thereupon a giant pig descended from the sky to proclaim the game state.


Brady Hoke knew it, so he ran the ball a couple times to end the first half instead of attempting to score.

I knew it, so I wasn't even a tiny bit peeved by that. Devin Gardner had just demonstrated the only way Indiana was going to get back in the game by not quite giftwrapping a pick six. Just before that Gardner had not quite giftwrapped another pick six. Michigan could have run the ball on every remaining down and won, and it was cold and I have to UFR these things. Run that clock down. Fine by me.

Everyone in the crowd knew it, so an awful lot of them left at halftime.


Non-student areas weren't a whole lot better. [Bryan Fuller]

At this point I'm not blaming anyone. It was cold, Michigan is playing for a berth in the kind of bowl where the gift bags include broken Swatches from 1985, and the game was already decided. I stayed because I write these columns and your soapbox is a little higher if you stayed like a True Fan™. I am enjoying the extra centimeter right now. Mighty fine view it's providing.


The game being what it was, about the only thing of interest over the weekend was a smattering of pissy comments from current and former players.

Desmond Howard decried Michigan's "mob mentality" on Gameday. Taylor Lewan called the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga a "moron" after Zuniga's appearance on BTN. Drew Dileo used air quotes around 'loyal' en route to stating that Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke weren't the problem—causing responders to respectfully ask what, then, the problem might be. Elliot Mealer referred to "the muggles that attend the University of Michigan" suddenly knowing something about the athletic department. Shane Morris provided a shout-out to the few students that made it to the end of the game and helpfully informed the ones who didn't that Michigan won.

It's like they went to bed and universal suffrage happened overnight.



A raucous scene, as a bill has just come up for vote. Enter AN ASSORTMENT OF LORDS.


Good heavens, what are they doing?


They seem to be voicing their opinions.


What-ever for?


Say, you, boy: what is all this ruckus?


The bill of attainder is up for vote; these are
final arguments before a decision is made.
Also, I don't think 'boy' is the preferred nomenclature.


You have the vote? What nonsense!


/frantically dips snuff


Disaster! Woe! Surely we will topple like saplings in a typhoon!


How long has… this been going on?


Approximately 600 years?






We assumed you knew.


Our doom is at hand! Flee! I'll die on the squash courts if I can make it!



/regains consciousness




/faints again

Michigan fans always had the vote; never before had they been pressed so hard as to think about using it. When there's an epic wait list you can find another team and the edifice doesn't notice. Not so much anymore.

The ironic thing about all of this is it's actually the students—sorry, "muggles"—leading the way towards positive change. Brandon implements the worst possible version of general admission; Mike Proppe's CSG negotiates a more sensible arrangement that provides better seats to better fans. Brandon blames the new policy for the drop in attendance instead of prices; Bobby Dishell's CSG negotiates a 40% slashing of ticket prices. El-Kilani's petition laid out the case against Brandon concisely and far more authoritatively than any defenses mounted by the House of Lords, which generally amount to "nuh-uh, you don't know."

It is true that we don't know the face Brandon showed to the student-athletes. I do know that one day he got in front of his department and quizzed them as to who their customers were. The answer: "student-athletes." So he probably acted like a human to them.

That's not enough when he is a six-foot phallus to everyone else. You just don't know that unless you're outside the program, looking at a 150-dollar ticket that you could have had for 20 bucks, watching grim quasi-football that means nothing in the freezing cold. Bon Jovi is playing, for some reason.


Here's the thing. This is a large group of people. Every large group of people is basically a bell curve. Michigan has pushed the prices up to the point where they're going to hit the downside of that bell curve without serious change.

That's a disaster that cannot be allowed to happen. Maybe it won't be for the people in the program right now, or the people who have been through it. It is one for the people who are thinking about 30 years from now, who are thinking about what it's going to be like for their kids.

Michigan, the program, can do little to change the group of people. They will remain the same people. They can only change themselves to fit the people. Step one is firing the coach, because the crushing blow to season ticket sales that results from his retention is unacceptable. Also he is not good at coaching.

Step two is not being dicks to people outside the program. I know y'all learned it from Brandon. Unlearn it. The next AD is going to be just as fantastic to increasingly pampered student-athletes without being loathed by everyone else on the planet. The Al Bundy patrol talking down to a fanbase on the edge of deserting in droves is hilariously out of touch. Michigan revenue vs Michigan performance. QED.

It's time to stop interpreting "The Team The Team The Team" as a moat between 115 players and 113,000 fans. 

[After THE JUMP: hawt babes, and why are you trying to be a fey English twit]


Indiana Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Indiana Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 2nd, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Hoke wouldn’t take any questions about Dave Brandon; he said he’d address that on Monday
  • Hoke seemed pleased with the defense with the exception of two drives. He said the defense lost their intensity on Indiana’s last drive.
  • Hoke attributed Drake Johnson’s success in part to getting increased reps with the second unit after Derrick Green’s injury
  • Jake Butt will rejoin the team for the Northwestern game
  • Devin Gardner is slowly recovering from his ankle injury, though Hoke said it limits the designed runs they can use
  • Hoke chose to kill the clock at the end of the first half because they had just thrown an interception and didn’t want to put the defense in a bad position, and they were getting the ball to start the second half

Opening remarks:

“It was good to see the kids, as hard as they’ve worked – I see that weekly. Some of you believe that, some of you don't but what I can tell you it they work their tails off every time we go to practice. They work their tails off as a group. They really are accountable to each other and that's important and that's the way they came out and played. Obviously we got some good performances from some guys that haven't played as much but part of that is due because, talking about Drake [Johnson] probably as much as anybody, he's got a lot of second reps now since Derrick [Green] went out. So I think when you look at it from that side of that we've always thought he was talented but he took advantage of an opportunity and did a heckuva job.”

I was going to talk about Johnson and Darboh. They had 122 and 170 yards, respectively. Can you talk about Darboh and his receiving today?
“Yeah, you know, Amara played a little bit as it as a freshman, a true freshman, and then sat out all last year but I think the confidence, and again, for both of them being in a system for the first time and then learning a little bit of a different system– they both are very talented, we believe. They both work extremely hard and it's nice to see those kind of kids when they get rewarded because of the hard work and what they do and Amara, you know we have Devin [Funchess] on one side and Amara on the other, it maybe opens up some things a little better.”

[After THE JUMP: evaluating the defense, what’s left to play for, and a couple of comments from players]


Michigan 34, Indiana 10

Michigan 34, Indiana 10 Comment Count

Ace November 1st, 2014 at 7:15 PM

The pride of Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]

It's a new day. Sort of.

There was plenty to celebrate in the first Michigan game of the post-Brandon era. The Wolverines thoroughly dominated Indiana, more than doubling their total yardage and earning the team's first double-digit win since the Miami game.

Devin Gardner set a season high in passing yardage. Amara Darboh posted the best day of his career. So did Ann Arbor native Drake Johnson, who rushed for 122 yards and two scores in his first extended action at running back. The defense shut down the nation's leading rusher, IU's Tevin Coleman, and even forced a pair of turnovers.

There was plenty of bad that was familiar, too. Gardner tossed an ugly interception and narrowly avoided a pick-six when the game was still competitive. Brady Hoke bungled basic clock management at the end of the first half, robbing Michigan of a chance to score before the break. The Wolverines punted from the Indiana 43 on a fourth-and-short. And, of course, the entire game came with the caveat of facing an IU squad with a miserable defense and a depleted depth chart at quarterback.

Oh, and the announced attendance of 103,111 was met with a mixture of laughter and boos; perhaps the program sold that many tickets, but on a chilly afternoon in Ann Arbor, there certainly weren't that many seats filled.

Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog

On this day, though, the good should be the focus. With Jake Butt suspended for the game for a violation of team rules, reserve tight end Keith Heitzman was able to record his first career touchdown on an improvised shovel pass from Gardner (pictured above).

Injury also created opportunity in the backfield. With Derrick Green out for the season and De'Veon Smith in and out of the game with a dinged up ankle, Johnson got 16 carries—14 of them in the second half—and he salted away the game, playing kitty-corner from where he starred in high school at both football and track. Johnson, who'd seen mostly special teams duty in his time at Michigan, showed off that track-star speed by breaking multiple runs into the Indiana secondary.

Darboh broke the century mark on nine receptions, scoring from 12 yards on a hard-thrown post from Gardner to give Michgian a 17-0 lead that would stand as the halftime score. He and Devin Funchess combined to reel in 16 of Gardner's 22 completions; no other Wolverine had more than one.

The defense dominated an Indiana offense sorely missing injured quarterback Nate Sudfeld. They got some help from IU coach Kevin Wilson, as well. Wilson benched Tevin Coleman after he put the ball on the turf twice, losing the second on a recovery by freshman Bryan Mone. Indiana couldn't generate any offense without Coleman, who'd finish with a season-low 108 yards—must be nice—on 27 carries; his mark of four yards per carry was well below his season average of 8.8.

The Hoosiers also insisted on running much of their offense from the Wildcat, which Michigan had dead to rights for most of the game. Jake Ryan recorded 2.5 TFLs among his team-high 11 tackles; fellow linebacker Joe Bolden had two TFLs of his own as M repeatedly shot gaps into the IU backfield. Any hopes Indiana had of getting back into the game were dashed when Ryan Glasgow sacked IU QB Zander Diamont, stripped the ball, and came up with the recovery in the third quarter; Johnson got the corner for his first touchdown on the ensuing drive.

The final yardage read Michigan 404, Indiana 191.

Hoke refused to address questions about Dave Brandon's resignation in the aftermath of the game, and that felt right. Today was about the team on the field, and while the opponent wasn't a strong one, they were able to ignore this week's distractions and take care of business. That alone was an impressive feat.


Punt-Counterpunt: Indiana 2014

Punt-Counterpunt: Indiana 2014 Comment Count

Brian November 1st, 2014 at 12:16 PM


1975 Indiana was the last <100 k crowd


by Heiko “4AD” Yang

/adjusts tie

Dear President Schlissel and Interim Director Hackett, please consider as this my formal application to the position of Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Michigan.

First I would like to recognize and thank Dave Brandon for the tremendous work that he did during his tenure. Revolutionizing the Michigan Stadium experience was no small feat. If hired, I will appoint Special K to be Brandon’s personal DJ for life so that he may continue to enjoy the sounds of Saturday, everyday.

I believe I am strongly qualified for this position because like Bo Schembechler, I am from Ohio. I was the “manager” of an intramural flag football team once, but I would like to highlight that I have never been the CEO of anything. I would relate well to students because I am currently a student. I would relate well to fans and alumni because I am not a dick.

My vision for the athletics department is comprehensive, but due to the lack of issues regarding any other sport, I will highlight only my plan for the football program:

To improve the game-day experience, I will fix the annoying half-second delay between the marching band’s live sound and the amplified sound. With Special K gone, the onus of playing Seven Nation Army will fall on the band, and it is awkward when people sitting near midfield don’t know which half-beat to wave their pompoms to. Also, I will make food available at the end of games. Postgame hotdogs improve morale and fan satisfaction by making wins feel better and losses hurt less.

To generate revenue in a way that doesn’t involve raising ticket prices, I will sell tickets after halftime to account for the people who either never showed up or decided to leave early. Those vacant seats will be available at a heavily discounted price, and this plan would have the additional benefit of increasing attendance and making the stadium look less empty during blowouts. I will also continue to sell food at the end of games (see above).

I have other qualifications that would be an asset to the athletic department given the current public relations climate. The University of Michigan has faced significant criticism recently regarding the health of student athletes. You will be comforted to know that I am well versed in the signs and symptoms of common medical conditions such as ebola and concussions. For everything else I have access to Wikipedia. With improved stadium Wi-Fi, no diagnoses will be missed, and I assure you that I will not hesitate to release medical statements on Twitter during waking hours.

I am aware that the football team may need a new head coach at the end of the season. While I cannot promise that I would be able to get Jim Harbaugh if such a change were to occur, I would like to suggest a coaching candidate that has been thus far overlooked: former offensive coordinator Al Borges. Coach Borges piloted some of the most exciting offenses at Michigan and put up record performances against Ohio State. Devin Gardner was briefly a Heisman candidate under his tutelage, and his regression after coach Borges’s dismissal is a testament to his coaching value. I strongly believe that I can use my established relationship with him to talk him out of retirement and then use my clout as athletic director to convince him to call more bubble screens.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing your response.


Michigan 24, Indiana 13 


By Nick RoUMel


That was a full-size Snickers bar, plus a kiss on the cheek from the slightly tipsy mom dressed as sexy Dennis Norfleet. It was biting that bobbing apple on the first try, winning the scratch-off, or getting that job. It was jubilation in the streets, celebrating the despot’s overthrow.

It was the Maizey-est, Blue-est, sweetest gift to kick off the Hallowe’en weekend ever. Sure, it cost $3,000,000. But … wow … thanks Uncle Mark. It was worth it.

What will Dave Brandon do now? Rumor has it he’ll lie low for a while, first to collect his golden parachute, then buy a football franchise to run with Matt Millen. Matt will cover personnel; Dave public relations (and toppings). Their team’s coach, of course, will be Brady Hoke - whom I hear is a great motivational speaker.

In the meantime, joyously sick from too many Hallowe’en treats, we battle with the hapless Hoosiers on Homecoming. Woe be the Hoosiers, whose offense is as dangerous as the extras in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. They should score about oh-say zero points, if not fewer.

When Michigan is on offense, expect most plays to be without turnovers, including some positive gains. Fans will be on the edge of their seats, tense from multiple 2nd and 8s, followed by 3rd and 7s, watching plays that look like a Family Circus cartoon:


But we fans won’t care. We’ll lustily cheer like it was Anthony Carter vs. Indiana in 1979. (This was not only the greatest play ever, but it was preceded by the greatest play to ever spark an NCAA rule change. As an added bonus, it caused then-Hoosier coach Lee Corso to ever hate Michigan):

We have no worries because we’re HAPPY (Brian - do NOT insert Pharrell’s “Happy” video here. I would lose so much faith in you. It would be like accidentally seeing Mark Dantonio pet a kitten, or something).

But we are happy. Like a Big House without an AD, or a pillowcase fat with candy. And it won’t even matter that this will be the most boring game in NCAA history.