MGoRadio 3.3: When the Cat Person’s Away

MGoRadio 3.3: When the Cat Person’s Away

Submitted by Seth on September 22nd, 2017 at 7:07 PM

1 hour and 16 minutes

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This edition of MGoRadio was recorded before a live happy hour audience at HOMES Brewery in Ann Arbor. If your bar would like to host us on a week Michigan’s playing on the road, hit me up.

Special Guest: Rishi Narayan, co-owner of our presenting sponsors UGP & the Bo Store, won’t come on the podcast when it’s in his store, but put him somewhere he can get a beer and he makes Rich Rod jokes on the Gimmicky Top Five!

Special Brian Replacement: Brian is sick so Seth Fisher (Hi Mom!) sat in in his stead while Ace hosted.

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The Sponsors

We can do this because people support us. You should support them too so they’ll want to do it again next year! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be talking to ourselves.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad,, Human Element, DEO Bookkeeping, and Lantana Hummus

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Air Force After UFR: The Offense

starts at 1:00

Yeah now we’re worried about Speight. The not seeing his best receiver wide open problem is a new one to tack on to can’t throw a fade and inaccuracy issues. It may be pressure (that right tackle spot isn’t going to fix itself overnight). Positive: he looked kind of like this last year. Running game execution is what it is. Receiver execution is youth. Fanbase is going through growing pains with this team.

After UFR: The Defense

starts at 21:53

When can we give Winovich a shield? Offense designed to make you look foolish made Michigan’s defenders look like savants…except for that one play. Gary is probably equally good but for whatever reason Air Force chose to double him and live and die on whether they can beat Winovich. Good choice.

Gimmicky Top Five: Things We’d Do With MGoBlog While Brian’s Away

starts at 40:03

UGP & Bo Store co-founder—and MGoBlog’s longest-serving sponsor—Rishi Narayan sat in with Seth & Ace as we used the opportunity afforded by Brian’s absence to dream of what we’d do with the site without him. OMG Shirtless Draftageddons ahoy!

Purdue Preview

starts at 50:05

Louisville game was eye-opening; Mizzou has given up on breathing. We’re still pumping the breaks here. Microcosm of the Big Ten: lots of good running backs and linebackers, very weak on receivers, linemen, and safeties, project to get a lot better. Sindelar is the guy Michigan fans think Speight is. PLAY. ASSIGNMENT. FOOTBALL. Talk is cheap. 

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MUSIC:

YouTube changed up their policies so we're trying to stay away from copyrighted music on live broadcasts. If you or a friend made some good tunes and don't have a label out scrubbing for them we'd be happy to feature you.

This week it's The Champaign Saints, a local band who sent us their music (and had a four-name law firm in their signature because that’s how MGoBlog readers roll). Songs:

  • “Don’t Cost My Name”
  • “The Love Unconscious” because Devin Bush
  • “Ann Arbor Midnights”
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS

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If you’re having any problems with Podbean let us know.

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Air Force

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 22nd, 2017 at 10:04 AM

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gone [Upchurch]

Substitution/formation notes: As far as I could tell, coverage and return units featured the same personnel as they did against Cincinnati. The most noteworthy non-change was Donovan Peoples-Jones as punt returner—more on that after the jump.

Michigan’s formations were the same as they’ve been, but they brought pressure on punts and field goals infrequently. Earlier this week Chris Partridge said that they try to limit instances where they bring everything to keep the defense guessing. When Michigan doesn’t bring pressure on punt return, sometimes just one guy will release toward the shield, and even then he will sometimes stop and peel back before hitting the shield. On field goal defense, Michigan only brought pressure from one side and had Lavert Hill step to the line and hold on the other side. As close as the game was, Michigan decided not to gamble. Thanks to Donovan Peoples-Jones, that worked out.

[After THE JUMP: don’t have to bring the house when you take it to it]

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2017: Offense vs Air Force

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2017 at 4:37 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. Just recommended HomeSure Lending to a friend and it's weird that I have to say "you should know this guy sponsors us," because I actually would recommend Matt even if that was not the case because when we refi-ed our house I had quotes for various mortgage lengths very very quickly.  The deal was done in a flash.

But yeah like he does sponsor us, which is even better. It's nice to have sponsors you can actually recommend with a clear conscience, especially because they have never paid a dime to the Larry Culpepper guy.

FORMATION NOTES. Air Force runs a 3-4, but it's not like that. Whereas your conventional 3-4 has big guys who two-gap, Air Force has little guys. It's a one-gap 3-4, if you will.

vlcsnap-2017-09-18-20h41m28s490

The NT almost always shaded between the C and G in a one tech, with four linebackers in the traditional 3-4 umbrella. Sometimes head up with the same umbrella, and check those safeties on first and freakin' ten:

vlcsnap-2017-09-18-23h06m11s717

Now, there are a ton of very obvious ways in which this is not at all the 3-3-5 stack Michigan runs. Air Force doesn't stack their linebackers, for one. They rarely insert an OLB between their DEs as anything other than a twist blitz; Michigan is constantly making Furbush an extra DL. AF just about always shaded their NT instead of running a zero-tech, and they had a clear weakside and strongside end, with the strongside end basically a DT. Michigan's DEs have run identical techniques for the duration of the season. Also there is not a withdrawn MLB like Bush; instead two ILBs.

These are the ways in which Michigan's defense is not at all like Air Force's, which is a one-gap 3-4.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. The regular at QB and OL. Onwenu got pulled for the last three plays of the final drive, with Runyan coming in. Isaac was the starting RB and got the bulk of the work; Evans was pulled after his fumble until late, when Isaac went out with a minor injury. Mason one snap at FB, with the seniors going the rest of the way.

WR was Black, Crawford, and DPJ outside with cameos from Schoenle on running plays. That's getting into a major play tip zone, though Black's injury might change that. Perry got most of the run in the slot; McDoom had maybe a dozen snaps, and not all were jet stuff.

Tight end was the usual rotation of everyone, minus Wheatley. He had a ding that held him out. Also I might not have seen Eubanks? I don't think I saw Eubanks. Bunting is losing ground, BTW, to McKeon and Gentry.

[After THE JUMP: the bone! oh if only]

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 9-20-17: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 20th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

You’ve got to be pretty pleased through three games with the way your guys are playing.

“Three really unique challenges. Obviously Florida with their ability, and despite them having two top-notch players out they still have a lot of firepower and I thought we did a good job going into that environment for our first trip on the road. That was kind of the piece that I was most concerned about was young guys on the road for the first time, how were we gonna respond? Obviously things didn’t quite go our way in the beginning but stayed really even-keeled. Just kind of kept playing the game, stayed in the moment, and kept executing at what I thought was a very, very high level. We really kept the pressure on the quarterback, so that was week one.

“Cincinnati really did a good job with their rub routes. I don’t know if that’s the legal term but I think that’s what the offensive guys call it, rub routes. They did a good job with the screen game. I was unhappy with a couple of the blocks but the reality is those tunnel screens are tough and I gotta do a better job in making sure we’re ready to play those.

“And then flip your hat, and I really tip my hat to my guys: Tuesday and Wednesday we took 230 snaps of option football. The gameplan was called on the line of scrimmage because they’re a team that has certain formations where they’re going to run the triple and other formations where they’re not gonna run option football, so everything’s all on the line of scrimmage getting called and I think we had one error. That was pretty good.

“But three different, unique challenges. The piece that’s really stuck out to me through the first three games is we can run, now. We’re pretty fast, and we get off blocks and run to the football as well as any group I’ve been around. That’s kind of a good thing. Forget the scheme and all that nonsense. It’s when guys can get off blocks, run to the football, and one of the things that doesn’t go unnoticed, at least from my perspective, is I think we’ve tackled really, really well. Sometimes early in the year that’s not always the case, but it has been the case for us for the first three weeks.”

[There’s so much good stuff after THE JUMP, just click already]

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Air Force

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2017 at 3:45 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. Oh man yes I am still on that kick about advertising, which we try to do respectfully. HomeSure Lending supports our content and keeps us from going behind a paywall like the rest of sports media, at least that section of it dedicated to something other than clickbait. No autoplay videos, an advertising ratio of about 1:10 compared to TV, and Matt regularly buys people beer and food. So, yeah, man. A mortgage is basically one number, and Matt will get you that number super fast. It's either him or Larry Culpepper. CHOOSE YOUR FATE.

FORMATION NOTES. Michigan spent virtually the entire game in the stack. Most of the time they had Hudson aligned as the "pup" linebacker, as discussed in the game column.

vlcsnap-2017-09-18-21h56m38s601_thumb[3]

Hudson on the hash farthest back.

Michigan had been using their DEs in a five tech (IE, lined up outside the tackles) in their first two games. Here they moved them into "4i," which is shaded just inside the tackles. The wing players are Metellus and Kinnel, with the corners flanking Hudson.

Air Force is of course in the flexbone. I called the above look "flexbone tight" and this one "flexbone twin TE":

vlcsnap-2017-09-18-23h26m57s643_thumb

Michigan did not slide in response and a lot of Air Force's successful runs came by hammering doubles down on both Furbush and Gary, but more about that later.

When Air Force went three-wide Michigan responded with a more conventional-looking press with two high safeties—for a given definition of "high."

Michigan had a four man front with Bryan Mone on two snaps. Oddly these were both first and tens; Air Force gained 1 and –3 yards.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. The back eight was nearly immutable. J'Marick Woods got one snap when Metellus was dinged up and Michigan rotated Watson, Hill, and Long through their two CB spots. The LBs, Kinnel, and Hudson did not depart for any reason aside the two Mone snaps on which Hudson left.

The line was mostly Winovich, Hurst, and Gary. Kemp got maybe a half-dozen snaps; Solomon spotted Hurst for a similar amount of time. I think there was one Reuben Jones snap, maybe a few. Mone got the aforementioned two snaps.

[After THE JUMP: the bone!]

Neck Sharpies: Air Force’s 50-Slant Defense

Neck Sharpies: Air Force’s 50-Slant Defense

Submitted by Seth on September 20th, 2017 at 11:54 AM

I thought Air Force had a very good defense. They weren’t big or super fast, but they were smart and sound—if a defense as a whole could get a nickname I’d call them Ol’ Eleven Kovacses.

Their gameplan was also brilliant. They knew Michigan wanted to run inside the tackles, get Speight some confidence, and get athletes out to the edge, so Air Force came in with a plan to jam up running lanes and make Michigan try to guess where the big hole would be. This is AF’s look on Michigan’s first running play:

image

They’re in base 3-4 personnel, with both ends lined up in 5-techniques (over the tackles’ shoulders), both OLBs in 7-techniques (over the TE or hypothetical TE’s shoulders) and one safety down at linebacker depth to react to Michigan putting a lineman (Ruiz) at tight end.

Now this is not Belicheck’s mother’s 3-4. That nose tackle was 5’11/260. He certainly wasn’t going to be two-gapping. Rather out of this setup Air Force’s plan was to have the nose attack almost like Brown’s 3-3-5 linebackers, appearing in any A or B gap on any given play and making life hard on Michigan’s inexperienced interior OL to figure out what to do with him.

If that all sounds familiar, it’s because you’re old, and it is:

That’s right: that sonovabitch Calhoun walked into Michigan Stadium and tried to run Bo Schembechler’s defense on us.

image

[After the JUMP: The 50 slant, and picking holes in it]

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Players

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 20th, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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[Upchurch]

Rashan Gary

How much do you go against Mason Cole in practice?

“Every day. Every day. Not a day I don’t see Mason.”

How much does that help you prepare for Saturday?

“Oh man, I feel like going into Big Ten play now, I’m not going to see a tackle like Mason. We’ve been going after it since spring ball; he’s been sharpening me and I’ve been sharpening him, so it’s just iron sharpening iron. I love going against him.”

What makes him so good?

“I don’t know, it’s weird. You’ve just got to see it for yourself. Sometimes on pass rush he’s patient. He’s not the aggressive type of offensive lineman that likes to put hands on you so sometimes you’ve got to wait and see what he’ll do but you can’t wait too long, so basically you’ve got to take the fight to him and his hands, he’s able to get your hands off of you and things like that. He’s just a great guy to go against. I can’t explain it, you’ve just got to watch his game.”

How often do you win those fights?

“I don’t know, you’ve got to ask him. He’ll get me, I get him a couple times, but it’s a great battle.”

[After THE JUMP: Gary on Devin Bush and what’s next for him, Mason Cole on communication, and McDoom on Quinn Nordin]

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-18-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 18th, 2017 at 5:00 PM

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[Upchurch]

Can you talk about what you get from Eddie McDoom on special teams and on offense?

“He’s been a contributor this year, last year. Fast, smart, fundamentally-sound football player.”

Purdue’s off to a good start. Can you talk about what you see out of them that has your attention?

“Yeah, the team’s done a tremendous job. Coaching staff would be an early favorite for coach of the year. They’re doing a nice job. The entire team is.”

With Mason Cole, to know that you’ve got a dependable left tackle with a starting streak and production, what kind of comfort does that give you as a coach?

“I would say he’s our most valuable offensive lineman.”

Does Quinn Nordin have sort of an unusual mentality for a kicker? Seems like a pretty confident and outspoken kid.

“Uh, no. I find nothing unusual about Quinn.”

WIth Rashan and Chase and those guys up front, did you see their presence and with Rashan especially, did you see him making impact plays in his first couple weeks here?

“Yes.”

What about him has stood out to you?

“Running to the football, playing physical, tackling very well. High effort, high talent.”

[Injury updates after THE JUMP]

Beet-Red And Nude

Beet-Red And Nude

Submitted by Brian on September 18th, 2017 at 12:35 PM

9/16/2017 – Michigan 29, Air Force 13 – 3-0

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also this happened [Eric Upchurch]

I have ceased being a person who gets seriously exercised about the shortcomings, real or imagined, of Michigan's coaching staff. I will get my grouse on when it's fourth and a half yard and Michigan punts, because if I tried to hold that in I would literally die. There's some stuff later in this post about giving the ball to the Hammering Panda on short yardage and how it's dumb and stupid not to. There will always be niggling details that grate.

But I'm not going to freak out because Michigan's offense is struggling. If my mentions, or Ace's, or poor damn Nick Baumgardner's are any indication the Air Force game was HONEYMOON OVER for a healthy section of Michigan's fanbase. No doubt Sam and Ira have just completed four hours of radio where 75% of the callers were spittle-flecked, nude, and beet-red, proclaiming manifestoes about the personal embarrassment they were caused when Michigan could not score an offensive touchdown in the first 59 minutes of a game against a Mountain West team.

And... eh. I mean, nobody sane could disagree with propositions up to and including "this offense is butt and probably going to cost Michigan any chance of silverware." I wish the offense was not butt, too. In previous years I might be nude and beet-red, writing a manifesto about how I suffered personal embarrassment when Fitz Toussaint ran 27 times for 27 yards.

I am not. I'm going to see how this works out.

I'd like to think this is because I am so good at looking at football that I know that Michigan's problems under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke were clear, severe, and systemic coaching issues while Harbaugh's are not. To some extent this is probably true: Harbaugh has not switched his base defense midseason in a panic (twice!), or decided that "tackle over" was an offense instead of a gimmick, or continued inserting a quarterback without an ulnar nerve in the second half of an Ohio State game. The worst tactical issue he's had so far was the increasingly disappointing Pepcat package last year, which is a speeding ticket compared to the grand felonies perpetrated by Michigan's last two coaching staffs. Check that: three coaching staffs.

But I'm also extrapolating based on track record. There is an element of faith that Harbaugh engenders, because... uh... I mean, obviously? If you need numbers, here's Stanford, with Harbaugh in bold:

Team Year Record FEI S&P YPC YPA YPP
Stanford 2006 1-11 N/A 113 2.1 (118th) 6.3 N/A
Stanford 2007 4-8 61 83 3.0 (113th) 6 N/A
Stanford 2008 5-7 48 31 4.9 (20th) 6.4 (82nd) 59
Stanford 2009 8-5 1 6 5.2 (7th) 8.7 (7th) 9
Stanford 2010 12-1 5 3 5.2 (16th) 8.9 (10th) 13
Stanford 2011 11-2 6 8 5.3 (13th) 8.7 (7th) 6

Harbaugh embarked on a similar project at San Francisco. The 49ers were 25th in Football Outsider's DVOA fancystat the year before his arrival. They improved to 18th in year one and then had consecutive top ten years (fifth and eighth) before a dropoff in Harbaugh's final season under Jed York. That last season is the only one in Harbaugh's pre-Michigan coaching career where the offense isn't either taking a significant step forward or an elite or near-elite unit, and it's saddled with a bunch of confounding factors. (SF got hit with a blizzard of injuries that year, oh and the owner was trying to force out a guy who'd gone to three consecutive NFC Championship games because reasons.)

At Michigan he immediately took the dead thing that was the Brady Hoke offense and made it okay, leaping from 89th to 38th in S&P+. Last year plateaued largely because the starting QB inexplicably went in the tank in Iowa and then did something nasty to his shoulder.

If the late slide a year ago and early sputters from a team that lost seven starters is enough to overthrow Harbaugh's long career of mostly great offenses in your mind, please go away. Yes, there are problems. No, this isn't Lloyd Carr turning Tom Brady, David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, and four long-term NFL starters into the 60th-best offense in the country. Bitching about Harbaugh's offense makes no sense after two years of inventive game plans, plays I have to invent terms for after a decade of doing this, and mostly solid results despite Brady Hoke's abominable late offensive recruiting*.

This feels bad man. But put your damn clothes on and stick to not sports.

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

*[Deep breaths. Ready?

The only offensive recruit to even make it to year five from the 2013 class are Patrick Kugler and the fullbacks. De'Veon Smith and Jake Butt were productive and graduated. Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York, Jaron Dukes, Dan Samuelson, Wyatt Shallman, Chris Fox, David Dawson, Kyle Bosch, Shane Morris, and Derrick Green all burned out without making any impact.

Hoke's miserable 2014 class has Speight, the starting QB, Mason Cole, Ian Bunting, and nobody else even contributing. Moe Ways, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Freddy Canteen, Drake Harris are all gone or benched.

And literally the only offensive recruits Hoke left Harbaugh in the transition class were Alex Malzone, John Runyan Jr, and Grant Newsome. That is three recruiting years producing four starters.]

[After THE JUMP: but hey the defense though]