Unverified Voracity Asks For A Shovel

Unverified Voracity Asks For A Shovel

Submitted by Brian on March 2nd, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Fab Five. Wolverine Historian continues to feature Fab Five games that officially may not exist anymore:

The inside scoop. Seth Davis did one of those ask-coaches-off-the-record articles that always feature a mix of insight and bitchiness and make for quality reading. The take on Michigan (emphasis mine):

Michigan: The Wolverines are dangerous because they shoot the ball so well and stay within their sets, but they can also lay an egg because they rely so much on threes. You almost have to play small with them because they force you to. If you have a big man, it's hard to guard them because everybody will step out and score. I don't think Tim Hardaway Jr. is a tough kid. He just wants to shoot jumpers. If you have a dominant person inside, you can go right at them because they're not real big. Hardaway has not had the kind of year we were all expecting, but he has an uncanny ability to make threes late even when he's not shooting well. Trey Burke is the best guard in our league, and Jordan Morgan is much better offensively than he was last year. They don't scare you defensively. They'll get after you and compete, but you can run your stuff and score on them.

The section on Ohio State also mentions that they're "probably kicking themselves a little for not taking Trey Burke," and the Wisconsin bit is all about how terrible and awful and disrespectful they are.

Maybe this whole standards thing isn't a huge deal. Remember when some guy said that unconfirmed thing about Brandon saying that Michigan wasn't going to compete with the SEC for things and stuff and would have standard like things and everyone was all like boo boo boo we want to recruit Manninghams even if they like smoking pot, like, forever and ever?

Yeah, that was in the long long ago when Michigan was striking out late in the 2012 class and hadn't secured a top five 2013 class like two weeks into that recruiting cycle. But, like, you know who we lost out to for a couple important guys? Stanford. This Stanford:

Haskins points out that just because a guy plays football doesn't necessarily mean he's physically tough. From a mental side, Shaw maintains the Cardinal's rigorous academic requirements forces the program to get determined people. "To be honest, it's built in for us," he says. "We can look [at] the physical toughness when you watch a kid play, but we're also finding out about that stick-to-it-iveness when we're asking them to re-take tests, take AP courses and make tough decisions to try and get admitted here. That shows dedication, toughness and perseverance."

That's from a long Bruce Feldman piece on Stanford's ridiculous-not-just-for-Stanford recruiting. The Cardinal is proving that you can avoid the flakes and still bring in monster classes. Michigan seems to be doing the same, and as long as Notre Dame isn't swooping in on the guys they want they seem like they'll be able to maintain that over the long haul.

First one, then the other. I've been pining for Urban Meyer's shovel option for a while now. You know, this thing:

It seems like a natural fit for Michigan for multiple reasons: it's just power blocking, which Hoke loves. It forces the defensive end to either cheat down on the pitch or potentially let Denard outside. If Denard makes a bad decision the potential for disaster is low—either he is running around for a small loss (or gain!) because he kept or he's throwing an incomplete pass. The main issue is finding a tight end who can run it, but if Michigan's throwing Hopkins on the field as an H-back sort he's got the chops to make that a viable option.

Once you've got that in the book, you could add bells and whistles like a quick cover-two beater on the edge to give that corner a problem he can't fix:

shovel-sprint[1]

Michigan did run some run-plus-short-pass concepts like this last year…

…so this might be something to keep an eye on as Borges tries to get the most use out of Denard's legs in year two. Borges loves to add new stuff on the regular; it's 50-50 we see something like the above in 2012.

Speaking of Borges. He talks with Howard Griffith:

Money quote: "I don't want to have an offense with a name" because then people start running clinics on how to defend it.

Unintended consequences. The NCAA's recent adjustment of kickoff rules smacks of a public relations effort to assure people concerned about concussions that football is also concerned. The net impact of slightly changing 2% of a football game is going to be statistically zero when it comes to long term health outcomes, but it says to the world that the NCAA is Doing Something, so it passes.

It won't do much. It might not do anything since the NCAA made a change that seems counterproductive to its goals: it's changed kickoff touchbacks to the 25. This is supposed to encourage returners to take a knee. Instead it may encourage kicking teams to not put it in the endzone.

Florida State has one of the best kickoff specialists in the country, Dustin Hopkins. Last year his 29 touchbacks were a victory. This year some back of the envelope calculations by Tomahawk Nation suggest the Seminoles' optimal strategy on kickoffs from the 35 will be this:

LET'S RECAP - If FSU does indeed ask Hopkins to kick it just a little higher and a little shorter, we can realistically expect him to average the ball around the 2-3 yard line with a hangtime of around 4.6 seconds. This is enough time that the majority of the coverage team will be inside the 25 yard line, with the faster players being somewhere around the 20. One can expect first contact to be made somewhere inside the 15 yard line on average. If the return man dances or does not immediately run full speed after the catch, it could be even worse. It may be a common occurrence for many returns to fail to exceed the 10 yard line. That is epic.

85% of TN readers think that's the way to go. The NCAA probably just made kicking for a touchback a mistake. There's a good chance these new rules go the way of the Hated Clock Rules from about five years back.

Two options: idiot or fabulist. Good lord, Phil Birnbaum points out that the Berri study-type substance on NFL quarterback draft positions…

  1. Uses a regression to determine "expected" draft position instead of using, you know, draft position.
  2. Their regression on expected performance does show a correlation between draft position and performance, but it's not statistically significant, so they use that to say "there is no relationship between draft position and performance."
  3. Tom Brady alone accounts for 14% of the plays from quarterbacks drafted from 150-250.

David Berri is the worst statistician on the planet.

BONUS OHIO STATE SCHOLARSHIP SIGN UPDATE! With Jordan Whiting's transfer to Louisville the only scholarship business major on the team is a kicker.

Etc.: Another rat is poised to jump off Dooley's sinking ship. He's their recruiting coordinator and would be the seventh assistant to leave this offseason if he takes an equivalent position at Nebraska. Michigan NFL combine recap. Molk says things, people take offense, Molk seethes, repeat.

Dear Diary is Getting Commits in Pairs Again

Dear Diary is Getting Commits in Pairs Again

Submitted by Seth on February 3rd, 2012 at 8:16 AM

2012recruits

Between National Signing Day and the Superbowl, we are in the last little oasis of The Footballs before the other things take over again. Then comes the long months before little bits of spring trickle in. So let's with the footballs! The footballs last year! The footballs this year! The footballs in four years!

Maize_in_spartyland put a lot of time into using this year's success as a predictor for next year's strengths of schedule across the conference, including early 2012 projections for each team. Michigan's schedule is up there but Nebraska and Penn State seem to have the toughest roads ahead, not that you have any sympathy for either of them.

CRex continued (2002-2005) and then concluded his year-by-year study of Minimum Playoff Size, with 2006 through 2011. He's got a 5-team playoff for 2006 that doesn't include Michigan, which highlights the problem with doing this with hindsight (ie 17377589including the bowl results) instead of looking at the pre-bowl situation and saying "THIS would settle it."

He also put together a long review of Coaching the West Coast Quarterback, a book by one Al Borges and his brother Keith in 2002 while they were at Cal. If you're the kind of person who buys coaching books by your team's coordinators* there's one new one left at a reasonable price on Amazon. Or you could read the diary. Combined effort nets this man Diarist of the Weeks.

With NSD passed we really are into next year now. One last trip, then, into that which was 2011, courtesy of Eye of the Tiger, who after a bolded "But" with an ellipsis and its own line goes on to make a good point that V-Tech ended up looking eerily like Mississippi State 2010. The offense scored a few more points but wasn't as good as expected. The defense was WAY better than we dreamed. Brunette girls fixed the kicking problems (Misopogal: "We are awesome like that") and we all converted back to the church of…Time of Possession?!?

What I learned this season was that ToP may not matter in many cases, but it sure does when you're exactly the kind of team that has close to zero depth on defense.  Then you really should keep them off the field if you can.  Oregon can do the uptempo thing because they have lots and lots of depth on defense.  They may not be Alabama, but they have a legion of solid dudes they can substitute in and out, and that's exactly what they do. 

This makes sense. Let's recruit like 10 DL/LB this year so we don't have to … oh we did that. Carry on.

The Footballs, Recruiting is Perspective:

RJS1RJS2RJS3

RJS and the Temple of Zooms

Well you know how National Signing Day went down. In case you missed some of the lead-up, Ace interviewed 2012 commit Royce Jenkins-Stone, the No. 1 player in the home state according to Scout (but not Dantonio). And you figure he's run out of funny names for 2013 prospects, but there's still one (Florida OT) Laremy Tunsil to go along with a boring old electric 6'4 receiver from Jersey named Charlie. Six Zero turned the microphone around and interviewed the weirdly named Ace Anbender.

WolverineBlue took Scout's recruiting scoring system and tried to predict where Michigan would land. It's as of 1/24, so needs updating after we know what the OL are doing, but he's accurate as of this writing. WolverineLake went backwards in time, grabbed a bolded personality, and showed the Scout recruiting rankings are predictive but the margin for error is big enough to drive Wisconsin's offensive line through it.

The Basketballs:

So the plan this year was to lean on the front court while breaking in a new PG so he's not overwhelmed with responsibility an…hey, this freshman IS our offense:

Player Year FGM Assists Team FGM % Team FGM
Eric Turner 1981-82 163 120 696 40.70%
Trey Burke 2011-12 99 92 472 40.50%
Daniel Horton 2002-03 151 134 706 40.40%
Manny Harris 2007-08 159 86 709 34.60%
Jalen Rose 1991-92 206 135 1,014 33.60%
Gary Grant 1984-85 169 140 936 33.00%
Kevin Gaines 1999-'00 110 133 780 31.20%
Antoine Joubert 1983-84 118 102 867 25.40%
Dion Harris 2003-04 112 76 823 22.80%
Darius Morris 2009-10 52 84 732 18.60%

So Trey Burke is right there among the leaders for this metric.

Raoul goes on to compare him favorably against the best point guards in the country in how much of his team's offense is generated by the 1.

AC1997 has put together a fantastic and nice-looking study on Michigan's season to date. This is outdated post-Indiana but still very good and very relevant as it breaks the schedule into good wins, good losses, bad losses, and what various outcomes of what cometh would mean.

The Hockeys:

36kr6

Hey, what was up with our Power Play vs. Notre Dame eh? Yesman2221, our resident hockey guru other than that Cook guy, PP'ed Michigan's PP.

Etc. In the fall your blood is for beating Ohio. But in hockey/hoops season, you can put it all toward beating State. M Wolve with a list of places to donate. If your name is Zack Novak you are welcome to give directly at Breslin. A couple of Blockhams.

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Best of the Board

OH FATHER! M PULLS TWO SIGNING DAY SURPRISES

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Congrats to two new MGoDaddies who kept Michigan fans on edge for only a few hours before leaking their new sons' final college choices. Shortly after these announcements Mark Dantonio assured alumni he already had a solid verbal from the top 2030 prospect in the state. Further shout-outs to zohizzle101 for the recruit profiles you see above, and comment of the year from gajensen:

WE'RE GETTING COMMITS IN PAIRS AGAIN!!1!1!

I would also like to send out my deepest condolences to the Facebook friends of Florida Blue and Wolverine In a Bag. Once there were epic Youtube links, lolz pics from George Takei*, and breaking Michigan news—no more. As of now the baby has probably already taken over the profile pic and will be the subject of every update until at least 2016. In other M legacy recruits, Madonna's pushing her daughter to choose Michigan.

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*Damn you Takei, another hour of my life. Sigh. Urban Meyer in college:

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YOU'RE FOR THE G-MEN SUNDAY RIGHT? YOU'RE WHAT? HHHMMMMMMM.

baas_davidbaas2baas1

No Dave Baas, I'm not rooting for your team, and not just because the Giants' whites look like a certain group of unmentionables when your helmets are off. I'm sure the readers have some sort of deep-seated reasoning, or office squares, or deep knowledge about the Pats and Giants, but since the Lions have never sniffed such a thing in my lifetime, in Superbowls I root for whoever's got the most Michigan guys and/or fewest Buckeyes, with ties going to the most favoritists of M players, or guys who haven't won before. This year the Giants have Super Mario and David Baas of the Daves*, versus Tom Brady and Zoltan the Inconceivable. The former link there is 12 trivia about Brady. The latter is a link to a link to a Romanian Space Emperor/Epic Punter/Business Major doing Borat. For this, I wish him great success.

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*My senior year Michigan ran most of its plays up the middle behind an interior line made up entirely of guys named Dave. Since I didn't have access to a blog at the time I just tried to get my section to call them things like "Dave Petruziello of the Daves" or "Dave Pearson of the Daves."

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NO LEGS? NO VAK!

Zack-Novak-640x700novak

Indiana's comeback explained: Novak played most of the second half without his legs. Crean is looking into whether Zack should be suspended for this. MGoBoard is already photoshipping.

MGOBLOG: THE MAGAZINE RETURNS

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As Brian announced in a meta thread, we are bringing back "Hail to the Victors" this year, and for the first time producing it independently. Look for future updates on this as we use your support to prove we can afford to do it. There's still some time to submit your ideas of things you would pay for to help support the launch effort.

ACE: THE PODCAST

Ace's picture ++ imgres= listen.

ETC.

NFL's new rookie cap might drive more players to the NFL faster. Future Museday: how many 4- and 5-stars make it to NFL Contract #2. If you've caught yourself double-posting something and want us to erase your heinous, unforgiveable crime for all time, you can change the title to "Mods Please Delete," or you can invoke the Space Emperor (of Space).

National Signing Day Presser Transcript: Coaching Assistants

National Signing Day Presser Transcript: Coaching Assistants

Submitted by Heiko on February 1st, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I was tasked by Brian with a couple specific MGoQuestions for coaching assistants following the press conference. Here are those answers and whatever else I could get. 

Darrell Funk

Can you assess your new offensive line recruits?

“These guys are tough. They can run, they can move, they’re going to be really good players. They’re great looking kids. Each one of them has a little different skill set, but they’re going to be a great line for the years to come. We’re really excited about that.”

Players’ bodies change a lot from when they’re in high school to college. What do you look for physically in recruits?

“Like I said, they’re each different. A few of them have to put on a few pounds. A couple of them are pretty much at weight. When you’re developing linemen that can come in, the biggest difference is the strength levels between them and the defensive linemen they’re going to block. I think these kids are advanced in that compared with some potential guys we were looking at because they are stronger and more physical. They’ve got some size to them, but every guy develops a little bit at his own pace.”

How excited are those guys to finally get here?

“Well they’re chumpin at the bit. Most of them have been commited for a while and just signing day seemed like forever to them. And now that’s here now, and now the next thing I’m going to hear is 'Gee, coach, when is June 24 going to come around?' Then they have a lot of chances to get stronger, hit the weight room -- they’re going to have an opportunity to play early. As coach always says, you can’t guarantee someone’s going to play right away, but if they’re better than the guys in front of them they’ll play. And they know that and we’ve talked about that, and the work that they do between today and June 24th when they come to school in the summer will go a long way.”

Are you allowed to communicate with them and advise them before they get on campus?

“As soon as they sign, which they have, now we can give them a weight workout. I can send them playbooks, I can send them different things. There are some strange rules whether they can come on campus and they can’t sit on meetings and different things -- we abide by the rules -- but for the most part I can be on the phone with them every night talking about our base power play and explaining things, and I will. I’m going to work hard with those four kids and give them every opportunity to come into camp and when we install the offense and they hear the terms it won’t be the first time they’ve heard it.”

Do you send them a playbook?

“We send them a version of it. The reason we couldn’t last year is because really until we went through the spring, we really didn’t know exactly -- we know what we’re going to run. We may tweak a couple things. I’ll send them a version, kind of an accelerated version, almost like cliff notes or something like that, so that they get pretty well versed before they come here.”

Are there any other offensive linemen you’re waiting on?

“Yeah, I think it’s important we talk about the guys that we have for today.”

MGoQuestion: Who of your current players on the roster would project to center?

“Well, we have guys who can play center. We wanted to recruit someone in this class that could play center. Guys could play center in this class … you could make some switches. I’ve got some flexibility with the guys I have, and we can find some replacements for David, and we have guys who have played a lot at the position.”

 

Mark Smith

MGoQuestion: What exact position does Mario Ojemudia project?

“At this time I would think he’s more of what you would consider a defensive lineman. He’s going to be more of a defensive end, kind of a Craig Roh position where sometimes he plays up, sometimes he drops. I won’t have much exposure to Mario until he gets here.”

MGoQuestion: Do any of the current commits project to weakside linebacker?

“Well of all those four guys you mentioned other than Mario, with Kaleb and Joe and Royce and James, they’re all going to play somewhere in the middle, meaning a Mike or Will-type linebacker. They’ll be one of those two positions at least to start out with. That’s where our need for depth and competition is most.”

MGoQuestion: What do you look for in a middle linebacker vs a weakside linebacker?

“Generally speaking the guy in the middle’s a little bit bigger. He’s going to have to take on blockers a little bit more, whereas the guy on the weakside, he’s protected more, and what I mean by that is he’s covered up by down linemen a little bit better, so maybe a smaller guy that runs a little bit better. But you know, what I want them both to be interchangeable. They should be able to play both positions to start out, and then you try to fit them in where they best fit in.”

 

Al Borges

MGoQuestion: Dennis Norfleet isn’t the prototypical back for the power running offense you talk about a lot. How do you envision using him?

“Well until he proves he can’t do that, we’ll give him a chance to do that. He’s coming in here kind of as an all-around player. He’ll return kicks, play offense, and we’ll see what he does. I’ve had little guys that you didn’t consider prototypes to be good backs. You say, ‘Well, maybe he can do it.’ As we go through it, we’ll test the waters and give everybody a chance to prove what they can do. He’s in that category, too, but he’s electric. He’s a touchdown scorer. You can’t get enough of those guys.”

MGoQuestion: Hoke said you guys didn’t really give him that hard of a look until yesterday. How long have you known about him?

“Well we’ve known about him, but because of the fluid nature of recruiting, you have things become available, and you say, okay, well, we got this, we have a kid that can score touchdowns, let’s take a good look at this kid and see how he fits. Everywhere I’ve been we’ve done that. Whether it’s last week, last couple days, something becomes available … you end up taking a guy who has a chance to help you in some way or some form.”

People have talked about this offense potentially shifting over the next couple years to something similar to what the Patriots run. What do you say to that?

“We do a little of the things the Patriots do. We have an empty package. Didn’t use it this year as much as I’ve used it before. We are very similar to the Patriots. We’ll line up in two back offense, we’ll line up in spread … the key to offense is not whether it’s the Patriots or the 49ers or whoevers. It’s being diverse enough to deal with all situations that arise in football. Having an offense that can accommodate all of those situations that’s geared to your personnel. That’s a nebulous answer, but that is the answer.”

Tight end is a position you like to use. Funchess and AJ Williams are pretty different  players. Do you envision using them differently?

“Possibly. There’s a skill set that you anticipate and there’s a skill set that you get. So when they get here, we’ll see how they fit into what we want to do with them. They’re both going to be tight ends, they’re both going to be coached to be pure tight ends, and we’ll see how that skill set fits with the rest of the group, and we’ll accommodate it.”

How do you like your depth at that position?

“I think we have plenty of guys. We just have to see how it shakes out. We have a couple kids in the spring that are still going to get a golden opportunity to prove they can do it. With the new guys coming in, we’ll see if they can break into the depth chart.”

 

Greg Mattison

MGoQuestion: Jeremy Clark and Willie Henry seem to be pretty under the radar recruits. How did you learn about them?

“Well Jeremy Clark was in our camp, and all it took was for a bunch of guys to watch him, they went, ‘Wow, this guy’s something special.’ And then the process that we talked about where the coach that recruited that area goes in there and meets the caoch and the coach just says the same things about them. You walk down the hall and you talk to the math teacher and the math teacher says this guy’s unbelievable. Now all of a sudden you say, you have all of this, and look what we saw on the field, and then it’s pretty easy. Willie Henry was the same kind of thing. There are some schools that coaches will not recommend very highly until they’re done with them. They’re going to make sure -- people, especially the ones that respect Michigan and respect coach Hoke, they’re not ever going to give you somebody they’re not willing to put their name on. When a coach like that says, ‘Yes this guy can play.’ Then you listen. So that’s the deal with that.”

After looking at his film and evaluating him for yourself, did you feel like he was underrated as a recruit?

“I don’t care about stars. And I really don’t. There are some five stars out there that I hope we play against. To me all I care is what we, our staff, when we look at the film and say yes he can play or no he can’t play. When we looked at this guy on film, we said, Wow, this is one that we want.’ I don’t care if he’s a five star, three star, or two star. Those are the kind of guys we want in this class.”

Borges Presser 12/30/2011

Borges Presser 12/30/2011

Submitted by Brian on December 30th, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Part of the Sugar Bowl swag is pre-transcribed press conferences.

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file

Michigan Offensive Coordinator Al Borges

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with our Michigan offensive press conference this morning. We're joined by Offensive Coordinator Al Borges. Coach, opening remarks.

COACH BORGES: This is actually my second trip to the Sugar Bowl. I had an opportunity in 2005 to come here, and ironically enough, we played Virginia Tech, which is kind of cool.

But I can tell you, I've been fortunate over the last few years of my career to go to several Bowl games, but the Sugar Bowl is without question at the top of the list with regard to hospitality, accommodations, the whole deal.

They just do a wonderful job. You can tell they've been here before. They know exactly what they're doing. I know our kids are enjoying this experience. The coaches, when they've had an opportunity outside our work schedule, to do things, we've had a great time so far.

And our preparations have gone real well. Back at Ann Arbor, a precursor to the Bowl game, the kids have practiced hard and stayed pretty focused and it's carried over these last couple of days of practice.

So we're looking forward to playing a really, really well-coached, tough football team in Virginia Tech, a team that I think deserves to be here, having the type of year they had and being the type of team that they are.

You know, Frank Beamer is a proven commodity in this business, and having an opportunity to coach against Bud Foster who coordinates the defense and does now and always has done a great job of coordinating his schemes and style of play that really presents some real issues for us offensively.

So it's going to be a great challenge for us. But we're looking forward to the challenge and having an opportunity to win 11 games, as great a tradition as Michigan has, I think it's only been done about five times. So our team is fired up and can't wait to get this thing underway.

 

Q. You talked about Foster. Is that something that you see as like somewhat of a challenge because he's so well respected and because you guys have a little bit of a history, at least?

Yeah. And, again, I don't have a lot of history other than one football game.

But just knowing Bud and knowing what they do and have an idea what they do. And he's like we have been offensively. Their defense is ever?evolving. They're a little different than the last time we played them, but still some of the base schemes are the same.

But he's a well-respected guy because he's done such a nice job and presents some problems for you. They have a nice pressure package when they need it. They play the run real well. All their numbers, statistically, would bear that out.

 

Q. How much of an advantage is it, if any, that they haven't faced a quarterback like Denard Robinson this year?

How much have they played a guy like Denard? I don't think they've played a guy like Denard.

 

Q. How much of an advantage is it for you?

I'm not sure. I'm not sure how to answer that question. Denard presents some problems. I don't think anybody would argue that.

The biggest thing with Denard is if Denard's throwing the ball well, which he's been doing of late, then he really adds a new… a whole different dimension to having to defend him, because with opportunities, he's going to run the ball well. He can do that.

You very seldom have slumps running the ball. But passing, you can go into some slumps. But he's been throwing the ball well lately.

And if we haven't lost any of our timing, which it doesn't appear at this point in our practices that we have, I think we'll be okay. But I think, like I said, they're going to have answers. They're not going to make any concessions to us, that's for sure. And we're going to have to deal with those as the game progresses.

I don't know if I answered your question or not, but...

 

Q. To the end of that question, to what extent does this game come down to identifying early what they're trying to do to him and reacting to it?

It's always huge, because within the first couple series, you'll have somewhat of an idea how they're going to go about defending you. And I have found here at Michigan, with Denard, more so than probably most the quarterbacks I've coached in the past, is everybody's got kind of a different solution to dealing with Denard's skill level.

So as a coach you have to identify what they're overdefending and then be able to make the adequate adjustments to take advantage of what they're defending less. Okay? And now it comes down to whether or not you can exploit that. Sometimes it's the passing game, like I said before.

And if they're giving you some opportunities in your passing game and you can take advantage of it, you can have a pretty good day. But if they make you play left-handed and you can't take advantage of it, then you could have a long day.

So I think it's huge, is figuring out how they're going to go about defending you and then being able to counterpunch.

[ED: remainder after the jump.]

Things That Happened

Things That Happened

Submitted by Brian on December 29th, 2011 at 12:22 PM

Hello!

The DL took a hit for the Sugar. Nate Brink is out, leaving I Don't Know behind RVB at strongside defensive end, and Will Heininger is "questionable" with a foot thing.  No one expects him to play. Heininger's absence would probably mean a start for Will Campbell and more playing time for Quinton Washington, plus a tired Mike Martin since he won't have anything approximating a plausible backup:

"(We have) two other seniors up front that are going to play their last college game and their last game for Michigan," Hoke said. "Sometimes, you’ve got to be an iron man."

The line is thin.

MonuMental dropped wallpaper. It's uncommonly gorgeous even for MonuMental.

michigan-football-wallpaper-2012-sugar-bowl-widescreen[1]

He also has a request for people who have enjoyed his work. Click through.

Denard got Sports Scienced. BIZANG

Virginia Tech's kicker got in jail. Like, jail-jail. I think I mentioned that already, but the new thing is VT's significant uncertainty at the spot:

Beamer said everyone made the trip except suspended place-kicker Cody Journell, who is facing a felony charge of entering a house with the intent to commit a felony. He spent six days in jail before being released this morning.

Beamer said senior Tyler Weiss will handle extra-point tries and field goals of less than 22 yards against Michigan, and senior Justin Myer will attempt longer kicks.

The Hokies have a guy who's deadly accurate from inside the five but can't get a 30-yarder over the bar. I look forward to seeing this strangely configured man.

The Big Ten and Pac 12 enjoyed a long, teary hug. Starting in 2017 the two conferences will have a scheduling alliance designed to "match teams of similar strength" in football, which is all that matters. The two leagues will also play in all other sports but in all other sports it's a matter of replacing one of your quality nonconference opponents with a Pac-12 school. Only in football does this make for real change.

While the move away from cupcake non-games is welcome, that was already on the docket as the Big Ten prepared to move to a nine-game conference schedule. That is now off the table:

The scheduling partnership means the Big Ten won't be moving from eight conference games to nine beginning in the 2017 season. The league had announced the increase in August.

"If it's not off the board, it's coming off the board," Delany said. "When this opportunity was raised, it's pretty much the understanding that it's in lieu of."

Instead of playing Wisconsin and Penn State more Michigan will play some Pac-10 teams. Honestly, I'd rather skip this business and expand the conference schedule. I'd rather have a more balanced conference schedule and more frequently revisited rivalries with the rest of the league than games Michigan could schedule anyway.

ANTI-BONUS: This hurts Michigan and Ohio State more than anyone else since they are locked into that cross-divisional protected rivalry. The other contenders in the West have annual matchups against Purdue (Iowa), Indiana (MSU), and the post-apocalypse version of Penn State (Nebraska). Michigan gets OSU annually. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes' main division rival's permanent crossover is… Minnesota. At least the Badgers won't be able to duck any and all plausible nonconference opponents anymore.

So it's a push leaning to not good right now. It will will be a total fail if Michigan takes the opportunity to ditch the ND series. Survey says… probably not($):

While Brandon said he wouldn’t want to predict anything in the long term -- and he said 2017 is not considered long term in his view of football scheduling -- if the current schedule were to remain the same, the Irish will remain on the schedule.

That schedule would be eight Big Ten games, a home or away game with the Big Ten/Pac-12 agreement, a home or away game against Notre Dame and two non-conference home games.

“They like to play us and we like to play them so that game continues to be on our schedule,” Brandon said. “As it relates to the long term, who knows. The long term is pretty hard to predict with the constant changes in college football, but for now we intend to play Notre Dame and they are on our schedule and we’ll be playing them for the next few years anyway.”

If the ND game stays in place that will take Michigan's interesting nonconference games from one to two in 2017, but you can say goodbye to the idea of playing anyone from the ACC, Big 12, or SEC in the nonconference unless Jerry Jones is throwing money around like a sad old lonely man. And that was going to happen in 2017 anyway with a move to a nine-game conference schedule.

The Big Ten got a lot of credit for envisioneering a multifaceted solution to the dynamic problems of college athletics. I don't get it. Not to pick on the MZone, but, uh:

And just like that, the SEC's addition of Mizzou and Texas A&M seems so...quaint.  The Big East's addition of Boise State and...who again?... seems so 2011.  As Scott points out, the B1G and Pac-12 gain a lot of the upside of expansion (broader reach, new markets and recruiting areas( without actually expanding.  And with the conferences' TV deals with ESPN expiring in 2016, the BTN and the Pac-12 new network stand to make a financial killing.

This is far from an isolated opinion; check the link blizzard in the second paragraph of Get the Picture's analysis of the situation.

The SEC diluting its product with Mizzou and A&M was never a good idea to begin with. This lacks any huge, stupid downsides like the SEC deal, so there's that, but at its heart it's one football game a year. Just because the man with the eyebrows says something doesn't mean it's true.

Michigan hired a soccer coach. He's from Providence, he's turned a nothing program into a consistent NCAA participant, he's not Caleb Porter, but he seems like a pretty good idea. More details in the board thread.

Tigerdroppings got cited by a newspaper. Tennessee WR DeAnthony Arnett is leaving Tennessee after Charlie Baggett's exit to be closer to his ailing father. You're probably wondering if Michigan will take a look after grabbing Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh in the last few weeks. There is a wild card spot open since Bri'onte Dunn decided to stick with the Golden Bobcats.

Michigan would be foolish not to explore the possibility. If he doesn't get a waiver he'd be coming off his redshirt year with three to play when Roundtree and Stonum exit. He fills a hole on the roster after Michigan didn't take any WRs last year. If Michigan doesn't hop on him his most likely destination is MSU. Since he's a transfer he doesn't have to be crammed into the 28 available LOI slots. His stock has not dropped over the last year: Arnett had 24 catches as a freshman. His timeline matches up well with Michigan's needs and he's got talent. I would grab him and see if Michigan suffers the one or two extra departures that would allow them to take 28 on Signing Day anyway.

That's beside the point. This is the point:

Arnett caught 24 passes for 242 as a true freshman for the Volunteers last season, but several factors have prompted Arnett to ask for a release from Tennesse, according to fan site tigerdroppings.com.

That link leads to a C&P of the Rivals article on his decision to exit.

OH TE Sam Grant is seeing Michigan's main competition fill up a bit. Kyle Kalis teammate Sam Grant just picked up an Oklahoma offer, which had the potential to significantly complicate what looked like a straightforward decision to avoid the tire fire that is BC football for Michigan. That offer may have just fell by the wayside with AZ TE Taylor McNamara's commitment to the Sooners($). McNamara was briefly a Michigan target before he decided Ann Arbor was too far from home.

That gives OU two tight ends in the last week, but Grant is still planning on a visit in January.

Josh Garnett said something reasonable. This was it.

Michigan recruit Josh Garnett: 'I'm like Suh, but on offense'

NotSureIfSerious

Also not sure if serious. Wait… what?

Despite his pro-style roots, Borges didn't shun the spread. After resigning from Auburn in December 2007, Borges took the next year off, his first since starting coaching, and made visits to college teams like Mississippi State, Florida and Cal as well as to the NFL's Detroit Lions.

Then, in preparation for Michigan's season, he consulted with spread-offense practitioners like Temple coach Steve Addazio.

Steve Addazio is a spread offense practitioner like Jim Tressel is an honesty practitioner.

Multi-year scholarships got overriden, too. That PDF only had 48 objections to the multi-year scholarship option so I thought it was in the clear. It is not:

More than 75 schools are asking to override a plan approved in October to allow multiyear athletic scholarships rather than the one-year renewable awards schools currently provide.

That's disappointing but at least the world is being alerted to the asshat factory that is the Indiana State athletic department. If it goes to an override vote, 5/8ths of the membership would have to vote it down to eliminate it.

Someone made Central Michigan's stadium in Minecraft. Srs.

CMU was not in my top ten "schools most likely to create 1:1 replica of their stadium in Minecraft." BOOM:

  1. Georgia Tech
  2. Stanford
  3. Cal
  4. Michigan
  5. Rice
  6. UCLA
  7. Illinois
  8. Florida
  9. Washington State
  10. Notre Dame

Bowl lol continues. It's costing LSU and Alabama almost a million dollars to buy their band tickets for the SEC West title game. Clemson expects to eat 200k in losses for winning the ACC, too.

Michigan's uniforms were named the best in college football by, like, fashion people. WSJ:

Michigan: Of all the traditional uniforms, the Wolverines' maize-and-blue unis earned the highest marks from the panel. (Michigan also wore throwback uniforms this season that received mixed reviews, but our panel didn't evaluate them.)

American fashion designer Marc Ecko especially liked the color weight on the jersey, while graphic artist Josh Vanover praised the "bold, bright colors" and "clean" fonts.

But what really pushed Michigan to the top was its iconic winged helmet, which received near-universal praise for its creativity.

"Anyone that uses it, no matter what color you put it in, it's Michigan," said Anthony Coleman, the managing editor of the fashion and street culture blog SlamxHype. "You can use it, but realize that you're stealing from Michigan."

Maryland also came in for praise for their whatever that was, as did Oregon, so this is not a panel of get-off-my-lawn types. Michigan does their thing so well they don't have to resort to goofy things they've done so far this year.

Basketball had a scare against Bradley. A second-half run finally broke open an uncomfortable game as Michigan put the nonconference schedule (mostly) to bed. Holding the Rope has a holistic overview. Jon Horford's lingering stress fracture forced McLimans on the floor and there were a fair number of "OH COME ON" shots made by the Braves as they isolationed their way to a barrage of shots Kobe Bryant would find difficult. Still… Bradley went out and got annihilated 90-51 by a very good Witchita State team yesterday and the Big Ten is terrifying.

Without Horford it is even more critical for Morgan and Smotrycz to stay out of foul trouble. That is not likely. Michigan cannot drop tonight's game against Penn State. There's zero room for error in the league this year and there is a bright line between 9-9—tourney lock—and 8-10. This game against PSU is just one of seven Michigan has left against teams ranked below them in Kenpom (#143 PSU x2, #69 NW, #122 Iowa, #126 Nebraska, #93 Arkansas).

INSANE SMOTRYCZ SHOOTING UPDATE: 22 of 38 from 3 (58%), fifth nationally in eFG%. Novak is 16th with his 64%/42% shooting.

Etc.: Michigan scores best comeback on Doctor Saturday's year-end list of said comebacks. The Rees fumble that greatly aided that comeback leads off the list of gaffes. Penn State tire fire claims Drake, McGloin, Paul Jones, forces Bolden to start against Houston. Penn State still has no coach.

Bowl Practice Presser Transcript 12-20-11: Al Borges

Bowl Practice Presser Transcript 12-20-11: Al Borges

Submitted by Heiko on December 20th, 2011 at 6:07 PM

Al Borges

from file

Have you been able to regain your focus for the bowl?

“Yeah, I think so. We’ve have five or six very spirited practices, and they haven’t been clumped together so much that the kids have gotten tired. We kind of have a philosophy with bowl practices that we’re not going to practice real long anyway, so yeah, I think they’re pretty good that way.”

You’ve talked about quarterbacks taking a year or so to be comfortable with your system. Was that last game with Denard as close as it’s going to get before next season?

“Yeah. He’s getting there. The last game -- the last couple games, really Illinois to a degree, too, other than a turnover or two … but yeah, I think he’s catching on. He’s doing pretty much what every quarterback I’ve had in the first year has done. He started a little slow. Again, I said this before, is our passing game is so different from what they’ve done. There were going to be pains because there always is. He’s starting to absorb the concepts and be able to understand what we want, and it’s showing up at the end more than it did earlier.”

Is there something specific you’re looking at with Denard in terms of development going into the bowl game?

“Same stuff as always. Fundamentals. Fundamentals and basic understanding of route structure, timing the routes, it’s always the same, and it’s always a work in progress in the first year, but we’re further -- much further now than we were when we started.”

(more after the jump)

Five Star Temptresses And Variance Hating

Five Star Temptresses And Variance Hating

Submitted by Brian on December 15th, 2011 at 12:53 PM

Two pretty much unrelated things in one post. I blame everything.

vince-young.new[1]

Vince Young; Garrett Gilbert

Cautionary tales?

A Braves and Birds post on the recent downfalls of Texas and Florida spurred responses from Blutarsky and Smart Football about the role of various schemes as your talent level waxes and wanes. The B&B theory:

…we can criticize [Texas] for not learning the lesson of the Vince Young era.  Apparently, the lesson that Brown took was “recruit five-star quarterbacks from Texas,” when he should have concluded “recruit quarterbacks who can run.”  In short, Texas was seduced by the prospect of a local five-star pocket passer and shifted their offense away from what worked for them when they were upsetting USC in the game of the decade.*

One can look at Florida and see the same mistake.  Urban Meyer has always won with mobile quarterbacks. … Nevertheless, Meyer was seduced by the same siren that causes Mack Brown to jump off the deck of his ship and swim to his doom.  He had a five-star pocket passer – John Brantley – living one hour from campus, so Meyer committed his post-Tebow Gators to Brantley.  Meanwhile, Meyer did not offer Denard Robinson a chance to play quarterback in Gainesville.

Brantley and Gilbert imploded, the team went with them, and the guys coordinating them left. Michael goes on to say this is a "cautionary tale" for Brady Hoke, whose most successful prior year was with Nate Davis. Davis is claimed to be mobile.

I'm not in agreement with his police work there. Hoke's offensive coordinator at Ball State was Stan Parrish, not Al Borges, and dubbing Nate Davis "mobile" is stretching the term. Davis averaged 3.7 non-sack carries per game in 2008, i.e. he had some scrambles and QB draws. For his part, Borges had great success with statue Ryan Lindley* (-57 rushing yards this year) at SDSU, Davis-ish scrambler Cade McNown (a couple hundred yards per year) at UCLA, and only-secretly-athletic Jason Campbell (30 rushing yards in 2004) at Auburn.

Michigan's long-term trajectory on offense should not expose them to the same problems Texas and Florida experienced. Hoke is a defensive guy who famously goes sans headset and Borges's successes have come with throwers at QB. That some of the throwers have been able to move a little doesn't make a difference. The offense is still not predicated on the QB's legs; instead the legs are a bonus that keeps some plays alive and gets you some yards on scrambles. In Michigan's case they are moving towards their OC's expertise, not away from it. (At least insofar as Greg Davis had any expertise. He and GERG should start a cover band.)

Variance: super teams hate it.

After passing through Get The Picture's digestive system the above post spurred Smart Football to offer some thoughts on the difference between a pro-style offense that is intent on putting up points and one that's intent on not blowing it:

For the truly elite-level recruiting teams, I think the agnosticism of pro-style treats them well because they basically recruit incredible players and then figure out the system and scheme later. Moreover, spread offenses, option offenses, and really any pass-first offense (including West Coast attacks of which I’d put Georgia in the category) require very good quarterback play. Alabama and LSU are basically designed to win in spite of their quarterbacks; Nick Saban does not want to return an all world defense with a bunch of five-star playmakers and lose because his QB was a junior and had some “growing pains”, which absolutely happens at every level. …

For everyone else having an identity and being somewhat contrarian helps a lot because it allows you to focus your recruiting on guys that can help you, and in many cases it means you don’t have to compete with some other teams for those guys. … Moreover, because you have a system with specific skills required, you can develop those skills. There are many examples, but think about how those Texas Tech teams under Leach always had four guys who could contribute and were open, even against the best Big 12 teams, because they’d worked on those skills every day for two years before they got in the game and had countless reps.

The former is what Ohio State did for years under Tressel, managing games with Krenzel and Boeckman and Zwick and Belissari and even most of the time with Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor. They massaged enough safe points out of their offense to let the reliably crushing D win games. Sometimes—usually against Michigan—they went full-throttle. This happened when they feared the opponent more than variance.

The latter is why hiring Paul Johnson was a good idea for Georgia Tech but would be a bad one for Georgia, why Leach is a great hire at Washington State, and how Rodriguez made West Virginia into a power with rag-tag recruiting classes and some duct tape.

Michigan was in the former camp, but after Bo they accomplished their goals less successfully than OSU. This goes back to the Mo era, when Michigan would show up for the game with three or four losses and inexplicably beat—often thump—John Cooper's national title contenders. To me, Michigan-OSU in the 90s will forever be a fourth quarter exchange between some ranting Buckeye fan and a snot-nosed teen version of yrs truly:

MAN ADVERTISING BEER ON HAT: You have four losses! We're ranked in the top five! We're a national title contender!
FUTURE BLOGGER: You were.

That was fun as far as it went but playing spoiler ain't no way to live. For Michigan to not be a second banana in the league they either had to

  • recruit and execute better
  • get an identity that allowed them to perform better than their recruiting rankings

Rodriguez was an attempt to do the latter. Hoke is an attempt to do the former, or at least he seems like it. Borges is a wildcard. Maybe he's content to ramp his offense down into Tressel/Lloydball territory once the defense is truly locked in, but maybe Michigan will morph into a team with an identity on offense, even if that identity is the Boise State and Stanford have used lately.

When to put the toys in the box

    There is a point at which it makes sense to trundle through games as safely as possible. That point is when you have the LSU/Alabama/OSU massive talent advantage over all comers. If Hoke's recruiting continues at the level it has, Michigan may achieve that. More realistically, a lack of oversigning and/or culture of rampant barely-punished extra benefits will leave them short of that, leave them in the same 8-10 range they usually inhabited under Carr.

    That will mean they'll have to have something to rely on on offense other than don't-screw-it-up-ball if they're going to be nationally relevant more often than they have been in the past 20 years.

    The early returns here are inconclusive since Borges is biding his time with Denard while recruiting Shane Morris. But they are encouraging, both when it comes to Hoke's game theory aggression and Borges's tendency to keep the pedal depressed when it makes sense to. Buried deep in his own territory up 17 against a Nebraska team that has struggled to move the ball, he'll run-run-punt; staked to a three point lead against Ohio State second down is for moving chains.

      Michigan's not going to be that super-talented dreadnaught year-in, year-out that allows them to play crushingly boring football and win. I don't think that's Hoke's plan; even if it is he's spent a lot of time learning about what happens when you don't have that as an option.

      *[Lindley's implosion this year—he's now 80th in passer rating—suggests Borges is a plus playcaller/schemer. SDSU returned much of their offensive line and has Ronnie Hillman; while their WR situation was bound to drag the numbers down it shouldn't have been that severe.]

      Funes the Manballious

      Funes the Manballious

      Submitted by Seth on December 1st, 2011 at 7:51 AM

      alborgesJorge%20Luis%20Borges%20small

      Borges/Borges

      "Without effort, he had learned English, French, Portuguese, Latin. I suspect, nevertheless, that he was not very capable of thought. To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details."

      ---Jorge Luis Borges, Funes, the Memorious

      The above reference is to a short story my 11th grade English teacher (Hi Mrs. Bruton!) would be very proud I remembered. In it a fictional JL Borges speaks of conversations with a young autistic savant named Funes. Funes is so mathematical he invented his own way of counting. Then he dies of congestion of the lungs. So it goes.

      The other pic is from an early M presser with Al Borges when he was asked how he would use Denard. There were contiguous details: You gotta use him. We'll think up some ways to utilize those legs. We're going to run our offense. The voice was sharp, mocking.

      And through the season the thoughts of the young Borges were realized:

      fritz

      The Fritz.

      denard-jet

      Denard Jet.

      They were ways, but not the way.

      We have all moved on from the last three years. We have t-shirts and memes and a competent defense and a win over Ohio and a new spiteful way of referring to our rival. Yet until Shane Morris is zipping DOs to myriad tight ends in the flat there is going to be a Godwin's Law*-ishness about discussing the offense that best fits the offensive personnel at Michigan because we fired the guys who invented it.

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

      * Technically it's a corollary.

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

      First a note that advanced users can skip: I'm using formation because each formation comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses selected by the guy calling the plays. Once the ball is snapped all hell breaks loose and it's way harder to judge decisions or coaching. Of the relevant formations, the I-form is great for running because you get two backs (one usually a lead blocker) immediately moving toward the line of scrimmage and your play's chosen point of attack, but not great for passing because either you're committing two eligible receivers and precious QB time to a run fake, or you're immediately showing pass when the RBs are bailing out of the QB's drop line. The Ace is basically I-form but you swap the FB for a WR or TE. It's a compromise formation, slightly better for passing, not great at either.

      Formation Plays YPA
      Shotgun 259 7.2
      I-Form 58 4.2
      Ace 36 11.4*
      Denard Jet 12 3.3
      Fritz 7 9.3
      Pro-Set 2 2.0
      The shotgun is the best for passing because the QB starts having completed his drop sequence, but bad for running because the RB is starting way in the backfield with no momentum. Unless you can run from it, lining up in the gun is an invitation for defenses to key on the pass.

      The shotgun's fundamental running flaws can be somewhat mitigated by: 1) Zone Blocking, which lets the runner scan for creases like a QB instead of hitting a certain spot ASAP, 2) Backs who can see and accelerate quickly into those gaps, 3) A run-threat QB who can keep the defense from teeing off the tailback, 4) Spreading receivers out so that their defenders are too far away to help the inside running game, and 5) Optioning and the threat thereof, e.g. Rich Rodriguez's zone read.

      These are kind of very specialized things to get, and you need like three or four of them just to get shotgun running on par with the natural advantages of I-form running. If you can run out of an I against eight in the box you are indefeatable; if you can run out of a shotgun AND your running QB can pass you are indefeatable. So it's not like the way is the only way. The reason your friendly bloggers are always yelping "shotgun! shotgun!" is because by the above rationale, a team with Molk, Toussaint, and Denard, and which used to have Rodriguez himself coaching them, should be pretty awesome at running from the shotgun, which is still the best passing formation.) /tutorial.

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

      *Yes, 11.4 YPA from the Ace. Some of the biggest plays were broken this year from that formation, along with a healthy diet of throwback screens to Gallon good for 20 yards a pop (that play also worked just as well out of the I and the Fritz, going to Smith). However you can see this was mostly a change-of-pace formation, and not a base offense. You can mentally put it with Denard Jet if you like. I believe it would not have been as effective if opponents weren't preparing for Denard in the Gun runs.

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

      Because nobody but a small nest of holdouts is going to say "we really should get a spread guy up in here," the great hope around the Arbor-y parts this year was that Young Borges the Savant would run what worked. Did Older Borges gain this perspective that Young Borges sought? This we must answer the MGoBlog way:

      Chart of formation tendencies (pass & run)

      Excised: Plays when the score differential >16, 4th quarters, plays inside the M or opponent's 3 yard line.

      Opponent Run% Plays Gun I-Form Ace DR Jet Fritz Pro
      Western Michigan 55.6% 27 70.4% 22.2% 7.4% - - -
      Notre Dame 42.9% 28 75.0% 25.0% - - - -
      Eastern Michigan 68.4% 38 84.2% 7.9% 7.9% - - -
      San Diego State 62.1% 29 82.8% 13.8% 3.4% - - -
      Minnesota 54.5% 22 68.2% 4.5% 9.1% - 18.2% -
      Northwestern 55.9% 59 76.3% 10.2% 6.8% 6.8% - -
      Michigan State 39.2% 51 88.2% 11.8% - - - -
      Purdue 60.0% 50 48.0% 22.0% 18.0% 4.0% 8.0% -
      Iowa 56.0% 50 46.0% 28.0% 18.0% 8.0% - -
      Illinois 70.0% 50 80.0% 14.0% 6.0% - - -
      Nebraska 64.3% 56 83.9% 7.1% 5.4% - - 3.6%
      Ohio State 70.2% 47 85.1% 4.3% 6.4% 4.3% - -
      Grand Total 58.8% 507 74.0% 14.0% 7.7% 2.4% 1.6% 0.4%

      The games where Michigan was 25% I-form were, as predicted, at the beginning of the season. The Fritz took its place against Minnesota and then it was all shotgun ru…

      hokelol[9]Okay so it was inexplicably becoming a team that passes 60% of the time in a trash tornado against MSU and then two game-plans which look absolutely identical. Because Purdue's defensive ends were pliant this worked brilliantly against Purdue as Borges called mannish plays to the end. The thing is for some odd reason he didn't stop I-forming the Purdue game away until it was the 4th quarter of the Iowa game.

      Here's a weird thing though: when I run the same numbers for '09 and '10, Rich Rod was way I-Form against Iowa as well. 20% I-form in fact, when he was 96% gun all other games combined. He did it both years, and only for Iowa. Is there some Lloyd-Ferentz pact to run substantially more I-forms versus each other every year?

      Anyway it went away. Illinois looks like an intermediary step but 7 of the 8 plays from the I were during that interminable 14-point lead after the defense had established itself as 2006-ian. Following that game it almost disappeared from 1st downs (chart in excessive charting area post-jump*). It's the same story just more dramatic. Red Zone is more so, as the I-form was largely abandoned in the red zone during relevant plays of the last three games of the season:

      Redzone

      So it is at this point where Funes the Manballious makes his impression on the young Borges, or vice versa, and the rational meets the abstract, and the result is sublime.

      Denard Scores

      Gregory Shamus|Getty

      Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-22-11: Al Borges

      Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-22-11: Al Borges

      Submitted by Heiko on November 22nd, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      Al Borges

      from file

      Have you noticed any difference in Brady this week at all?

      “Not really, no. I mean, it’s Ohio, so he’s fired up about that, but in terms of prep, no. It’s not just another game, but it is pretty much just the same preparation.”

      How has the focus been?

      “Well we haven’t practiced yet. We did a little bit Sunday, but it was off the charts. You can tell that there’s a little more pep in the step”

      Was last Saturday as complete a performance you’ve seen from Denard this year?

      “I think yeah, it would rank among one of the top ones. We’ve been encouraging him so much, and in this game particularly, to pull the ball down when guys aren’t open. And he did that, and it made a difference, so that helped us keep some drives alive. We’re going to continue to do that, but because the way they played their defense particularly … there were some opportunities to pull it down and run. He did [throw the ball], when there were open receivers … there were a couple throws that were a little ill-advised but for the most part he played a solid football game.”

      What do you think has kept him from scrambling previously?

      “Yeah, sometimes as a quarterback, and everyone I’ve had is like that -- they want to prove that they can throw the ball, but there’s a point where you have to use your skills. We talked about it before, I said, ‘You have to use your skills more. You have great skills. Let’s make these guys pay for some of this stuff.' He took it to heart. Here’s the delicate balance: you don’t want to turn down open receivers. If you start looking to run every time you drop back, you can’t pass the ball. You can’t do that. That has to be something that’s instinctive or just comes from a result from the receivers being covered. But you can’t drop back and say every play’s a quarterback draw and then if somebody’s open, throw it, and expect to have any sort of passing game. That’s absurd. I don’t care how good the running quarterback is. That being said, where does one start in the other end? But in this game we were a little more quarterback-is-going-to-be-the-check-down oriented. And we’re like that anyway.”

      (more after the jump.)

      Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Al Borges

      Tuesday Presser Transcript 11-15-11: Al Borges

      Submitted by Heiko on November 15th, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      Al Borges

      New photo. 

      In terms of Denard’s progress, what do you see on film that most people can’t see? “Well the issues with Denard, I think in the last game, were pretty much ball security deals. Other than that, he didn’t really throw the ball too bad. We didn’t throw the ball a lot with him, and he got hurt later in the game, so you didn’t see as much, but he’s managing the game pretty well. When he doesn’t get the yards, somebody else does. When nobody gets the yards, then we have issues, and that’s happened in a couple games -- those games we shouldn’t have lost. Denard’s growing in our offense. Nobody wants to hear that. I told them in the beginning, that I told him he’s not going to gain 1700 yards. We’re going to try and get somebody else involved. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that. There’s certain games he’s going to get more than he’s going to get in other games. As long as we’re getting productivity from our running game, if it isn’t him, that’s fine.”

      How has his role changed since the emergence of Fitz? “It hasn’t changed much at all, it’s just a matter of who’s getting the opportunities. Sometimes they’re taking Denard away. By taking him away -- if you watch the second play of the game it’s probably the best example. We ran a little misdirect divide zone, and he carried out the fade fake and three guys went with him, which gave Fitz an opportunity to run through a big cavity where there was nothing left but a corner or a safety, or I don’t remember what. People don’t understand the residual effects of Denard. Sometimes it’s not always him running for 200 yards, but him getting someone else to run for big yards. He helps in that respect.”

      Why has ball security been an issue? “Well a couple times we dangled it in the pocket. He was doing a good job with it for the most part. We dangled it in the pocket one time. We have to keep the ball inside the perimeter of your shoulders so that you naturally brace when you get hit. That’s one of them. And he got the ball away from his body one time when he was running. He’s been pretty good running the ball, taking good care of the ball. We got a couple close calls where I think the ground caused the fumble in a couple games, but that’s generally it. You usually fumble when you’re fundamentally bad. You don’t keep the ball with five points of pressure and it gets away from your body and somebody strips it.”

      (more after the jump)