Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2014: Offense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2014 at 12:42 PM

FORMATION NOTES: MSU spent the entire game in their base 4-3 over aside from some passing downs in which they went to a 3-3-5.

MSU 3-3-5 m gun

Michigan was about as usual, with nothing particularly weird to call out.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Nothing unusual. Canteen got some more run than he has in the past.

[After THE JUMP: a very brief discussion and some charts.]


Unverified Voracity Gets A Major Award

Unverified Voracity Gets A Major Award Comment Count

Brian October 29th, 2014 at 4:44 PM

[ED: been slightly crazy around here recently, so UFR delayed. Look for both halves tomorrow. Not that they'll tell you anything you didn't already know.]


continuing this week's theme

The response. Brandon on the emails:

"I don't read blogs so I think it's nonsense. …  I'm here to get an award tonight, so I appreciate you showing up, but that's not why I'm here."

Would you describe this award as… major?

Also, from former CSG president Mike Proppe:

Doesn't seem to be working. You know it's bad when the Alumni association publishes  a piece titled "Alumni React to Lower Football Student Ticket Prices" and this is the nicest thing in it:

"If the students are not part of the Athletic tradition, then it becomes just a business and commercial venture."

It's nice because it says "if." Other choice excerpts:

"I come to Ann Arbor to remember the days that I lived there, that I went to games with friends, that I remembered cheering for MY team. If I wanted a corporate culture, I'd just go to an NFL game."

"The athletic department procedures have emptied the cupboard of alumni support over the last several years and it will take a significant change within the department to bolster the level of support and fervor that existed then."

"It's appalling that the students are the ones being seen as just one more "market" to be considered...without student support of the University, you will eventually lose alumni support."

The comments are another continual carpet-bombing, including this comment left by Steve Strinko:

Our 1974 Football team is being honored at Homecoming and we did get 1 complimentary ticket, however, I am bringing the allotted three guests at a cost of $75 per ticket. Seem crazy to pay $225 for my family to join me at this event. Oh well, the state of Michigan Athletics, or at least football.

Strinko was the starting MLB on the 1974 team.

This is from the alumni association! When you've lost the alumni association, who do you have left?

This was made a month ago. Sometimes marketing does help, because how did no one see this until 11W?

Ripped from the headlines.

Hope Brandon's taking this pass/fail.

It could have been much worse. In general, football games that feel like Michigan's latest outing aren't close. They are even less close than 35-11. Bill Connelly:


In the end, even with State's late touchdown, the final score of Michigan State 35, Michigan 11 was kind to the losing team. The Spartans doubled the Wolverines on a per-play basis (6.6 yards to 3.3) and more than doubled them up in total yardage (446 to 186). And the game was played at a snail's pace, too (125 total plays) -- even an average pace would have resulted in a Spartan win of 30-plus points.

Finally, a justification for being the slowest team in the country.

I…  I can say nothing. Here is an Indiana blog talking about football, and landing body blows.

I, an Indiana football fan, feel bad for you.

Welcome to the Big Ten Underworld, Wolverine fans. The days are long, the nights are filled with six-touchdown losses to Ohio State, and one in every 5-7 seasons ends in a post-Christmas bowl in Detroit. Your program is now on a comparable level to a partly-incapacitated Indiana.

Well, at least I…




If you are interested in Indiana football, though. Here's a terrific blog with weekly film breakdowns. From their take on the IU offense under Zander Diamont:

By my count, Diamont only kept it on a zone read one other time. Given the state of the quarterback position, I imagine Diamont was under fairly strict instructions to hand the ball off to Coleman early and often. Probably for the same reason, we also didn’t see Diamont running any speed option or QB draw. He looked mobile on a few rollouts and he did a decent job of running for his life when Sparty put him under pressure.

To sum it up, as we discussed last week, expecting anything out of Diamont in this game was unrealistic. If we define “expecting nothing” as expecting Diamont to account for zero yards rushing or passing, well…somehow Zander failed to meet expectations. In non-garbage time, Diamont threw for -2 yards and ran for –12. While the numbers are troubling, I was more concerned with the way he missed a number of somewhat simple throws. He missed all four of the 5-7-yard hitches/outs he attempted, and three of the four weren’t close. His two attempts to get the ball downfield to Wynn missed badly.

Punt John Punt, it's called. Never say I didn't do anything for you, Jamie.

THE SMOKING GUNNNNNN. I feel confident in asserting this gentleman has a beard, on his neck.

Something nice. Basketball will hold an open practice on Wednesday from 6 to 7. Not today. Next Wednesday.

A blast from the past. A USCHO poster has unearthed and scanned in a program from the 1983 Michigan Tech-Michigan series—the last time M traveled to Houghton.


Quite an artifact.


You may not be doing this right. I've seen a few different message board threads stating that Doug Karsch said that he's talked to two sources in the Brandon camp who are "bracing for a change"—same language in multiple places, so I thought it was pretty legit. So I wander over to 97.1's podcasts page and find that the only item posted today is…



Etc.: Brandon emails dramatically performed by Drew & Marc. HSR gets emails from everyone. Bring Your Champions! Berenson on Marek vs Wyshynski

John Gasaway on offensive rebounding and how you shouldn't totally ignore it in favor of transition D. Michigan is classified as a team that "de-emphasizes" OREBs, FWIW, and is not exhorted to crash the glass. Northwestern is.


Monday Presser 10-27-14: Greg Mattison

Monday Presser 10-27-14: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 28th, 2014 at 3:01 PM



Brady talked about the defensive line at the point of attack and stopping the running game. What things will you hone in on this week, because Indiana obviously runs it pretty well, too?

“State did a good job of bringing in an extra tackle, having two tight ends, and really in general they put a lot of beef out there. What happened is some of our kids didn’t hold the point like they wanted to and from that point on they ended up coming out onto our linebackers and it all has an effect [on[ down. We weren’t happy with how we played the run. We felt like that was something we’ve done most of they year and we had to do it this game. All that being said, you see how close you are because you’re right in it. We’re starting on the fifty yard line or starting wherever or doing whatever and you’re right in it until you give up the big play. And that’s bit us this year. That happened, and that’s me because I’m going to try any way I can to put your thumb in that hole, and whenever you do that there’s a chance of something happening and that happened here. Corner blitz and it was covered, it was covered, it was covered and then it wasn’t covered.

“The one that upset me more than anything was the goal line run down there in the first half. They came out- it was a good job by them. They came out in tempo. They hadn’t shown any tempo. I was looking to make a call and all of a sudden I look up and they’re on the line of scrimmage and that’s me, that’s not them. I felt really bad about that because our kids, they don’t deserve that. They work so hard. They really were into this game and they really wanted to show supposedly what kind of defense they are and not that.”


Brady was asked about what was left to accomplish this year just given the way things are and what’s left, maybe a bowl. When you talk to your guys about what’s left what are those [things you] focus [on]?

“Become as good as they can be. Go out every day and do what we started the season out to do, and that was one of the things we talked about watching the tape. We’re going to coach as hard or harder than we have all year and expect them to play as hard as they have and I still expect good things will happen for them and there’ll be no let down. That’s not the way our kids are, and it’s definitely not the way we are or I am and I have all the confidence in the world that our kids are going to come out and play their butts off because that’s who they are. We’ve got to go one game at a time.

“This next one is going to be, defensively, a real challenge. You’re going against a great running back. You saw what they did last year. They put some points up so this is the next one. This is a big test for our kids because you get all this not having success like you’ve worked to have and can you bounce back? Can you bounce back? And I believe they will. I really believe that this group will.”

[After THE JUMP: It’s a Joe Bolden/Jake Ryan/Delano Hill hype party and you’re all invited] 


Monday Presser 10-27-14: Doug Nussmeier

Monday Presser 10-27-14: Doug Nussmeier Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 28th, 2014 at 9:01 AM



You were really animated in the fourth when the touchdown was scored. What were the emotions like?

“I mean, the one touchdown we scored, that’s a big play in a four quarter game. We’re always talking about competing and challenging, don’t worry about the scoreboard, play. Just excited that our guys had a positive thing happen to them. They fought and struggled and it would have been easy to throw in the towel, so I wanted to let them know that we’re going to be there, we’re going to encourage them, [and] we’re going to coach them. When we need to correct things we’re going to correct things and when they do good things we’re going to reinforce that behavior.”


You said after the Notre Dame game seven weeks ago that the offense was still in its infancy. We’ve seen some growing, but why is this team still struggling to find offensive consistency and what’s it going to take to get that with the window on the season closing?

“Sure. A number of reasons, and we talk about it. Same story, and I know I sound like a broken record, but when you look at what we’ve done the number one thing is turnover margin. You cannot turn the ball over three times and expect to win football games. We’ve talked about it week in and week out. At times we’ve limited that but we haven’t completely eliminated it the way we need to, so it’s a focal point every day and  we talk about it and we do drills in practice to practice it. It’s something our kids understand. We’ve just got to get better at it.

“The other thing is consistency in performance. We see week in and week out guys improve. The challenge we’ve had is getting all 11 guys at one time to be doing the right thing at the right time. You can see it compartmentalized a little bit and maybe you have one time here where this group does it right and this group doesn’t do theirs right, so it’s trying to get everybody on the same page. We’re still working to find the right answers.”


You played Shane Morris for a play instead of a series or not at all…

“Yeah, we were in a situation there towards the end of the game we told Devin, ‘Shane’s getting loose.’ We were in a situation where we didn’t know where the ball [would be] if we got it back at that point in time or not, so Shane went in for the play. We felt like Devin needed to finish the game being that he’s from Michigan and [it’s] his last time to play Michigan State so we put him back in the game.”

[After THE JUMP: Mind games before actual games]


Monday Presser 10-27-14: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser 10-27-14: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 27th, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Hoke presser 2


News bullets and other items:

  • Desmond Morgan will be redshirted, allowing him to return next season as fifth-year senior
  • Jabrill Peppers was removed from the depth chart and will not “travel” with the team, but has not been ruled out for the season
  • The stake thing, according to Hoke, was not meant to disrespect anyone. Hoke called Dantonio to apologize for it.
  • Devin Gardner will start against Indiana
  • The team’s goals are still out there (because the new goal is to take it one game at a time and beat Indiana)

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. Obviously we’re very disappointed in the outcome and the results last week. We came in as a team yesterday. We looked at it. We were critical constructively with each other about what we need to do. The opportunities that we had, because there were plenty of opportunities to make some plays on both sides and that's something that we weren’t very – executing the consistency with it, we need to be better. There's always a great emotion in a rivalry game. I think that always happens and we’re excited about the opportunity to have those rivalry games but win or lose you've got to move forward from them, and I think that's an important part for us with Indiana coming here for homecoming, with Tevin Coleman coming here as the leading rusher in the country. We have to play a lot better against the run defensively than we did the other day. One injury update: Desmond Morgan we're going to redshirt this year and then he'd be back as a fifth-year senior next year.

When you talk about consistency, you seem to hit a lot of the same themes each week. Is there something about the message to your team that isn't getting through?
“Well, I… one of the big things this week, which was a little different, was that we had seven drops and we haven't done that. We've caught the ball decently. When you look at it, and as you look at it as coaches, we're pretty much consistent on what is a drop and what's not but we had some opportunities. You move the chains, you have an opportunity to keep the flow going better. You also if you execute in those things you have a chance to change the mindset a little bit of how a guy calls defenses against you, and so those are the execution things that we've been pretty good [with]. Did we run the ball well enough? No. The offensive line was good enough, though, if we execute in some other areas.


On Saturday night you said you were going to think about what was going to happen with the starting quarterback. Have you made a determination there?
“Yeah, Devin will be our starter. I mean, Devin had some good throws the other day. Some of them we've got to come down with. And on the shovel pass, Justice gets knocked off. It's a timing play and so it looks like he flipped it to the linebacker, which is actually what happened, but we get knocked off on the shovel and so the timing of that. We've got to be better mechanically when we had the fumble. You get a fumble and then you fumble it right back. It was an opportunity that we had. But no, he'll be the starter.”

Talk about the run defense and what specifically has to get better team like Indiana that’s running the ball really well.

Well, first let's go back so last week. Not that I don't want to talk about Indiana, but we've got to do a better job at the point of attack, and that was a disappointing thing. There were some double teams that we've got to hold on to a little better so the linebackers can run. At the same point, we missed some tackles and opportunities there, so from that standpoint we need to play a lot better and the same thing for Indiana. Block schemes are block schemes and we've got to do a better job of playing those.

[After THE JUMP: I’m askin’ bout practice]


MGoPodcast 6.9: Seven Times Three

MGoPodcast 6.9: Seven Times Three

1 hour, 9 minutes.


[Eric Upchurch]


Amongst scattered references to actual football we chat about stakes and Hoke standing up for himself, or not.


Ace and I run down our top seven somewhat realistic candidates, with controversial Les Miles omission (or inclusion, depending on your point of view) after a rather lockstep top three.


We burn through the events in the league quickly and then get Jamie's top seven.


"Across 110th Street"
"Dracula's Wedding," Andre 3000
"Boxcar," Shovels & Rope


Scott Farkus Rules Everything Around Me

Scott Farkus Rules Everything Around Me Comment Count

Brian October 27th, 2014 at 12:05 PM

10/25/2014 – Michigan 11, Michigan State 35 – 3-5, 1-3 Big Ten


[Eric Upchurch]

Mark Dantonio is a crazy mofo. This is his great power: he can be offended at anything, forever. Mark Dantonio free-solos Mount Outrage every year. Michigan tried their damndest to not give him anything he could latch onto this time around, repeating the same praise over and over again until even the perpetually bored media noticed that this week's pablum was even more insipid than the usual business.

Then they put a thing in a field.

Fueling Dantonio's never-ending rage at the concept of Michigan is unwise but probably irrelevant. If hate moved spaceships Dantonio would be scowling at little green men circling Alpha Centauri instead of East Lansing. Dantonio is still pissed off at something Mike Hart said seven years ago; a dumb stunt with a railroad spike is a power mushroom when you're already big and skrong.

On the other hand, apologizing after is a pretty good summation of where both programs are. Michigan got the pounding everyone expected and then said "sorry for spoiling for field sir" as they slinked back home. Scott Farkus threw a snowball in our face and we apologized to him for being in the way.

Putting a thing in a field and then woofing about it isn't poor sportsmanship. We should know what poor sportsmanship is: punchin' people. Trying to hurt people.  This series has seen plenty of that of late, on both sides. No one apologized after.

Apparently the standard for self-abasement has plummeted, though. So we get another statement. The latest in a never-ending series of PR gaffes. The chance anyone brings the spike thing up after the first round of LOL Michigan articles is zero, unless Michigan brings it up again. They of course do because Michigan refuses to learn Don Canham's first maxim—don't make a one-day story into a two-day story.

Thus more public emasculation for Brady Hoke. Dave Brandon seems to be deliberately trying to make his football coach look like the nation's most clueless goober. By the Maryland game he'll be wearing a beanie and a KICK ME sign. The crowning glory will be an Ohio Stadium weeping piteously at his imminent departure; Hoke will be dressed in nothing but a barrel and suspenders. The press conference afterwards will take place over a dunk tank.

I dunno man, I know this is some feelingsball right here but I can't help but think this is a big part of the problem. Hoke's response to the bullies asking him why he keeps hitting himself is "it's all in the statement." The team responds like their head coach. The man refuses to defend himself, either from his incompetent athletic director or his rivals laughing at him. The team gets plowed by the hint of adversity. Fight is almost totally absent.

When someone gets mad at your spike stunt, the correct answer is F--- YO COUCH. That is Dantonio's answer to everything. Would you like some baklava, Mark? F--- YO COUCH.


Michigan likes to talk about being a Big Boy. Before last year's Ohio State game Brandon said Michigan is "going back to hard-nosed, big-boy football." Whenever a journalist asks Hoke about the internet hordes clamoring for his head he says "it's a big-boy business."

You know who doesn't talk about being a big boy? Big boys*. People who talk about being a Big Boy wear short pants and ask their moms for a quarter so they can buy candy. Big boys don't look at yet another plate of crap and eat it with a sigh of disgust. At some point, big boys stand up for their dignity.

I don't see anything like that. I see the same mealy-mouthed coachspeak week after week, the same covering for his inept boss. Of course Dave Brandon's watching film with him. 

Maybe that makes him a "great guy," as per the last possible defense of Hoke. I don't see it. He may be a nice guy; "great" at least requires you to have as much backbone as Ralphie in A Christmas Story.

*[Except Big Boi, who is contractually obligated to say his name several times per minute as per the Rappist Identification Act Of 1985.]

[After THE JUMP: not much, honestly.]


Michigan Releases Stake Statement

Michigan Releases Stake Statement Comment Count

Ace October 26th, 2014 at 2:10 PM


This is a real thing.

October 26, 2014


Below is a statement from University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke:

“I want to publicly apologize to Coach Dantonio as well as the players and supporters of Michigan State for our act of poor sportsmanship displayed pre-game yesterday. I spoke with Mark earlier today and expressed to him that we meant no disrespect to his team. During our regular Friday night team meeting, one of the topics presented to motivate our team was a history lesson addressing commitment and teamwork in a tough environment. A tent stake was presented to the team as a symbol of this concept. The stake was brought into our locker room as a visual reminder, and one of our team leaders chose to take it out on the field. As the leader of our football program, I take full responsibility for the actions of our team. We believe in displaying a high level of respect at the University of Michigan and unfortunately that was not reflected by this action prior to kickoff.”

We're very sorry a thing meant to be driven into a field was driven into your field.


Punt-Counterpunt: Michigan State 2014

Punt-Counterpunt: Michigan State 2014 Comment Count

Brian October 25th, 2014 at 12:39 PM


[ED: Ken Walker will be playing the role of Nick Roumel this week.]


By Ken "Sky" Walker

October 25, 2014

I’m sure none of this column’s readers expected to see that by line again – I certainly didn’t. When Nick proposed that I might be a guest columnist at some point in the future, I believe my response was ‘I suppose that could be a possibility.’ Funny how a lukewarm response to a question posed this summer can lead to Nick telling me “I’m going on vacation, you’re writing ‘Punt’ next week.” And that this guest appearance should come for the Michigan/Michigan State game, during one of the worst periods in UM’s football history, well that’s just a bonus.

I’ve got to admit, I haven’t read a single PUNT/COUNTER PUNT since I stopped writing for it. Believe me, it’s been a blessing. The mess that Michigan football has become is heartbreaking. Even the initial Rich Rod season wasn’t this bad. There are so many empty seats in my section I’ve had plenty of room to stretch out nearly every game. My buddy Jim has been to one game this year.

This is a Michigan alumnus, who has on game day, driven from the Ohio–Pennsylvania border to almost every game for the last 25 years! You can hardly give away tickets these days. No long waiting lists now. Television and radio spots advertising game packages are just an embarrassment. And don’t get me started on the ‘Coke’ promotion. This is “Michigan Football”?!

Fact of the matter is, the athletic department has sold its soul to the devil, that devil being the almighty dollar. We’ve got a bunch of marketing guys running this program and all they seem to be concerned with is how much profit they can wring out of the fans. They’ve gotten totally focused on promoting the game day experience. I‘ve got news for you fellas, the game day experience starts on the field. The “Michigan brand” is winning football games. That is what matters above all else.

Alright, I’m done venting. There’s a game to be played in East Lansing (again) and the Wolverines have to find a way to win it. How we feel about the A.D., the coach or the quarterback doesn’t matter Saturday. As Michigan fans, we have to back our team no matter what.

While I doubt that even with two weeks prep, this coaching staff can scheme a winning game plan, here’s hoping they do. Because these repeated loses to the Spartans just suck. But as I have no interest in traveling up I-96 to see the game, maybe I’ll just play a round of golf and catch the second half. It’s supposed to be a great fall day – might as well enjoy some of it.



By Heiko "My Name Does Not Lend Itself To Nicknames" Yang

Hello, old Punt. Hope retirement has been treating you well. Don’t worry, I’m not completely devastated or anything to know that you haven’t been reading my work. Yeah man, it’s great to see you. I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING.


I HAD A DREAM -- excuse me. Sniff. Ahem. I had a dream last night that Michigan ran power to the left on its first play against MSU. Fitz Toussaint bounced outside and outran the defense 75 yards for a score. It was wonderful. And never mind the surrealism here -- do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had a happy dream about Michigan football? 2011. I started having nightmares in 2012, when I had a dream a few days before the Alabama game that Stephen Hopkins got tackled and exploded into a million bloody bits. It was gross, and I woke up feeling pretty strongly that football is too violent and we should stop playing it. All of my subsequent dreams have been similarly horrific.

Until last night, which is why I think today may be a good day. I’m not saying Michigan is going to win … but I’m saying there’s a chance.

Having a bye week was important. You know your team isn’t doing well when the bye week is the highlight of the season, but I think it was particularly positive for Michigan for several reasons: the wounded got a chance to heal, the shamed got a chance to hide, and there’s still no sign of ebola in Ann Arbor, which helps everything.

Most importantly the bye week was a chance for the team to reflect and reset. Michigan’s problem over the past couple of years has never been a lack of talent or toughness or whatever silly buzzword (“hunger”) people are throwing around these days. It’s a fundamental flaw in philosophy, which isn’t something you fix with more practice. You fix it by taking a break and realizing that you’ve been doing things that are fundamentally idiotic. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not expecting Brady Hoke to suddenly have an epiphany about offensive tempo or spread punting, which is why I don’t expect that he’ll be coaching here much longer. But I do hope that someone like Doug Nussmeier, who has experience with a variety of offensive styles, would take a little more ownership of his position and assert his expertise a little more. And I also hope that the players would be able to identify things they can do within the framework of the game plan to minimize the disadvantages inherent in the game plan. I don’t know if this kind of thinking has happened before, but a bye week before a rivalry game seems like a good time to start.

For the past few seasons Hoke has been captaining a ship that’s drifting towards imminent disaster. Short of outright mutiny, it’s going to take a lot of creativity from the crew to right the course. If the hurricane looming in the horizon doesn’t inspire some sort of change, then nothing will.

So should we all batten down the hatches to be safe? Absolutely.

But I’m saying there’s a chance.

Michigan 21, Michigan State 17