One Frame At A Time: Appalachian State

One Frame At A Time: Appalachian State

Submitted by Ace on September 1st, 2014 at 2:19 PM


and thus ended a really stupid debate about jersey number deservedness

I keep trying to put words here but the GIF is just looping endlessly in the editor and I no longer feel words are really necessary.

Gleeful cackling, on the other hand, seems totally appropriate. The rest of the ASU game in GIFs, which I swear isn't entirely devoted to Devin Funchess, is after the jump.

[JUMP, but probably not over two defenders because that's really hard unless, well, you're Devin Funchess.]

The Story 2014: Memories Of Butter

The Story 2014: Memories Of Butter

Submitted by Brian on August 25th, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Previously: The Story 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. Preview 2013.

So I'm in Canada and I'm shopping for food and we're in the dairy isle and my friend laughs and says "no way." But yes, yes way. There is a margarine they are selling called Memories Of Butter.

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This is an acceptable name for something only if dairy cows have been obliterated by whichever flavor of apocalypse comes home to roost. In between shifts at the sludge plant you smear Memories of Butter on your protein cube and weep silently when the child who doesn't know any better asks you what it was like during the Before Time.

In a world where there is butter, this is literally the worst possible marketing. The butter is three feet away. Once moved to action by the memory of butter, you can reach out and acquire butter. Our operative theory was that it was badly mistranslated from French, or at least there was something lost in translation. What that could possibly be we do not know.

And so: Michigan football. There is no quote more Memories Of Butter than this Gerry DiNardo exclamation about Michigan finally getting rid of that Denard Robinson guy:

"When I saw them in the spring it was like a war at the line of scrimmage. It was what you imagine it looks like at Alabama and all the downhill teams. It changes your entire program. Just like the spread makes your defense soft, the West Coast offense makes your defense tough."

That comes from a Mark "Stretchgate" Snyder article that is almost as embarrassing as the article that will follow him around until he dies:

Every spring and fall, the network analysts would attend a practice, try to absorb the flavor and make nice about the impact of an offense they knew didn't fit.

Then they strolled into Ann Arbor this spring and had to check their GPS — or their mirror to see if they rolled back a decade.

This was Michigan playing smashmouth football, the game's nastiest, purest form.

Michigan finished 11th in the Big Ten in sack-adjusted rushing, ahead of only Purdue, and was last nationally in TFLs allowed. A tub of margarine may well have made the two-deep on Michigan's "smashmouth" offensive line. It would clearly be the Free Press's best reporter.

Michigan football is a white tub proclaiming to be a memory of a feeling. It is on the shelf next to things that still provide dat mouthfeel tho. For everyone reading this Michigan basketball has provided the craved-for combinations of hope, joy, and even eventual, forgivable disappointment. For myself and a goodly hunk of the people reading this, USA soccer has also filled that void. But when we cleared the NBA draft and the World Cup, the cliff loomed ahead.

The dread was palpable. Dread. Unprecedented, but true.

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

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How did we get here? Every year the fact that I declared 2005 the "Year Of Infinite Pain" becomes yet more ridiculous as we explore new avenues in not feeling real good about football, but I submit that 2013 was the worst football season I have ever experienced. 2005 just isn't even in the ballpark anymore; 2008 had an obvious explanation and novelty; 2010 was GERGtastic but man I can't get that mad at a season containing the 2010 Notre Dame game.

Why was 2013 the nadir? We've learned that it's worse—so much worse—to know that you have absolutely no chance to score points than to have absolutely no chance to prevent them. Ludicrous pointfests like 2010 Illinois and 2013 Ohio State are full of explosions, at the very least. Farting out a three-point loss with under 200 yards of offense is death on a field. There are tense, well-played defensive battles that are the football equivalent of pitcher's duels, and then there's 2013 Michigan: Don Kelly, the football team. (Except when they weren't.)

I kind of lost it as a result. By the end of the year I was giving up on UFRing anything and proclaiming that I was going to go bowling because the Big Lebowksi taught me how to sportsfan my best

The movie is a series of unfortunate events culminating in the death of Donny thanks to the bullheaded stupidity of Walter, who doesn't want to give up his fifteen dollars to some nihilists. That Donny dies as an indirect effect of that decision is the capper: your desires and actions are futile; you are subject to the random capricious whim of a universe that doesn't care about anything and if it was going to care about something it absolutely wouldn't be you. I don't have to spell the rest out for you. Sports!

…and I remember watching the bowl game in this state of obligation. Worthless, stupid obligation. We had gone from infatuation to a  bad 30-year-old marriage that will never end because no one can think of anything better to do.

In retrospect, all of that seems… on-point, actually. Semi-quitting and having public conniption fits at the folks who defended Borges looks like eminently defensible behavior, and that's coming from a guy who occasionally remembers certain actions in high school and has to quickly think of something else lest the eyerolling self-shame overwhelm.

This is where we are: when I got around to doing the Iowa UFR at the last possible moment, most people just asked "WHY?"

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

How do we get away from here?

Many of you aren't going to like my answer to this. It is: hold on to what we have and hope like hell. Transitions are awful. Michigan has suffered through two consecutive botched ones that left the roster in a state of strip-mined mid-majordom for the better part of a decade. The next one will either be run by Dave Brandon or an unknown person who has just arrived. With nothing approximating a terrific idea out there after Texas snapped up Charlie Strong, with zero reasonable, available Michigan Man™ options out there, the move appears to be to sit tight and hope.

And Brady Hoke does provide a good deal of hope. Seriously! His recruiting is bulletproof. He is the real William Carlos Williams. Michigan can suffer through the least tolerable season since the 1960s; he can lose three top-100 commits; Michigan State can win the Rose Bowl. None of this prevents him from locking down a class of consensus four-stars minus a kicker and an OL legacy. Save for the rare Skeeps suckerpunch or microfracture surgery, all of these players will arrive qualified and stick around until they've been definitively passed on the depth chart… and possibly beyond.

If these are the kind of positives that seem beneath This Is Michigan, well, yeah. This Is Michigan is fiction. This Is Michigan has rarely meant anything better than 9-3 since the 80s ended, and the program is now 1-5 against MSU and 2-11 against OSU since [insert year here]. They haven't had anything approximating a complete roster since 2006, and even that team was so desperately short on cornerbacks that Chris Graham spent much of Football Armageddon trying to cover a future first round pick WR.

This is were we're at: trying to figure out exactly which things we took for granted for 40 years are real assets and which are replaceable. For me, keeping guys around until they're good is not replacement-level performance—as much as I wish it was. And even if I think Hoke is set on 1997 Michigan as the endpoint of football as the sport mutates at breakneck speed around him, there are teams that make it work.

I just want something to work now. I just want something to sit on my tongue and dissolve into a salty heaven, like my father told me about in the long long ago. I may be of the mines and forever from the mines as we try to keep the engine that keeps us all alive running, but by God even a man of the mines has heard about grass, and the possibility of moving forward upon it for upwards of three yards at a time.

Let's find a cow. Let's punch it until it excretes butter. We may later find out that punching a cow until it leaks is not the optimal way to do these things, but that's for later. Now is for building a society like idiots who have only read about it in books.

Mailbag: Turkmenistan, Safety Moves, Recruiting Feels, Toughness

Mailbag: Turkmenistan, Safety Moves, Recruiting Feels, Toughness

Submitted by Brian on August 21st, 2014 at 12:33 PM

I'm in Turkmenistan. Seriously.

Brian,

My name is Matan (Michigan '09) and I am a huge fan of MGoBlog.  I am currently driving 10,000 miles from London to Mongolia in a beat up little car as part of a for-charity roadtrip. 

A couple months ago (and two years ago), you posted a picture of the "Door to Hell" in Turkmenistan on the blog.  We figured we'd put the Michigan flag on it and claim it for the MGoBlog community. 

The second picture...well...when starring hell in the face, you might as well have some fun.

Go Blue!

-Matan

IMG_5722

IMG_2795

It's always nice when someone explains why we got that one hit from Turkmenistan. Papua New Guinea, you're next.

Hey Brian,

I am of the type that I really don't care about ANY info about the skill positions that is coming out of camp because it is pretty clear that this team will only go as far as the offensive line will take them. The chemistry issues on the team last season were well documented and some have been more specific and direct, that there were chemistry issues and a lack of cohesion on the O-Line. With that being said, is there any truth to this and may it be better for this team to have an entire O-Line with youth so that they collectively progress together?

Thanks, 
Ali

That's a bit of a stretch. I'd think that having an older guy next to you who could explain why you screwed up would accelerate the learning process for the younger folk. Where that kind of thing might pay off is a year or two down the road; this year it's just going to add to struggles.

I've dismissed "chemistry issues" as they may apply to last year's line, but there's two kinds of assertion in that bucket and I'd like to disavow one but not the other. The one I think is pretty unlikely to have had a major impact: Taylor Lewan supposedly being a jerk. At worst this slowed the ability of younger linemen to progress, and probably not much.

However, if by "chemistry issues" you mean the offensive linemen not having a good idea of what the guy next to him is going to do, I very much buy that as an explanation for why Michigan couldn't get yard one on the ground. So what I can offer is this: if the line remains stable through the year and reps the same offense throughout they will get better as we go, and possibly much better. Their relative youth should mean they improve faster than older players.

Meanwhile, moving guys around is going to be less of an issue if Michigan does focus on inside zone as their base play. Positional responsibilities are a lot closer in zone offenses—nobody pulls, everybody frequently executes doubles that send one or the other OL to the LB level depending on what the player in front of you does.

Unfortunately they're probably going to start as a pile of suck. Judge them by what their pile looks like at the end of the year. Maybe it'll be okay!

[After THE JUMP: safety moves, a guy who is not taking this mailbag as seriously as he should, recruiting feels]

Dear Diary is Banged Up, Could Have Used a Shirt

Dear Diary is Banged Up, Could Have Used a Shirt

Submitted by Seth on December 13th, 2013 at 10:56 AM

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This is how Brady Hoke sees an 'M'. [Upchurch]

Recruits: if you are reading this, do not believe the man in the red/crimson track suit telling you that criticism of Brady Hoke or his staff means Michigan is going to lose him anytime soon. Those are very bad men who are likely to have you downsized to Southern Alabama or regularly featured in photographs and articles that highlight how bad you are at tackling. You also should pay no attention to bloggers who suggest you should ride pine until 2016 and that your future coach needs to win X amount of games until then to even be his coach. Also I shouldn't be talking to you.

Fifth-year seniors >>>>>>> freshmen on special teams. That's why I strongly disagree with the conclusions of AC1997's assessment of this year's redshirting, while appreciating the hell out of the diary (quick read, too). The only one he's mad about is Da'Mario Jones, while Bosch and York are "questionable." I know we did this recently in a roundtable but my take is different:

  • Obviously play him: Smith, Butt, Gedeon. All were effective and needed.
  • Not mad but needed a shirt: Shane—we've discussed this. Green but you kind of have to play five-stars. Bosch but chances are good there's still two decent 2017 starting guards out of Samuelson, Dawson, and Mason Cole and other 2014/15 recruits.
    DSC_1760
    Me in 2017 is (probably) very upset about this. [Fuller]
  • Mad: The safeties and receivers and here's our big disagreement. Dymonte Thomas and Delano Hill are perfect examples of the reason we have a tag about burning redshirts on special teams. Jones & York—Mathlete keeps telling us that returning experience at receiver is a strong indicator of a good offense and vice versa, and unless a receiver has a massive talent lead on the DBs trying to cover him WR effectiveness is about route running and blocking and reps reps reps.
  • Pick ONE cursed freshman corner: Both Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling played, both were pretty good for freshmen, one was needed. Theory: Uber recruits tend to cast a shadow on recruiting their positions, so it's important to have good stocks ahead of them (see: Russell Bellomy/Shane Morris situation). Peppers doesn't fill a depth chart by himself, and if he really is Woodson reincarnate* he'll be gone to the NFL after winning the 2016 Heisman and then we're left with Whitley and Howard.**

At the risk of sounding like every NFL columnist who thinks every franchise needs to adopt the strategy of whichever team just won the Superbowl, the reason Michigan State and Wisconsin have been to Indianapolis twice apiece, despite recruiting classes that top out like our (mediocre-for-Michigan) 2011 haul, is because they redshirt almost everybody and keep them around.

It's a luxury of stable programs, and Michigan is still paying for not being one of those for the latter half of the 2000s. Denard would have been nice to have this year, obviously. How badly did you wish for Vincent Smith when the RBs were getting Gardner killed? How's Michigan's pass rush if you add fifth years from Roh and Campbell to it? Brandin Hawthorne could have let you put a shirt on Gedeon. Developed talent is good. Fifth year seniors are good. Leastways they're better than a marginal improvement in kickoff coverage for a team that rarely scores touchdowns.

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

*[Nobody is Woodson reincarnate. The thing about the greatest players in the history of the game is they don't grow on trees.]

** [I mean who wants 1998 Todd Howard starting? He's a true freshman. He's short. He doesn't know how to press yet. He's…he's right behind me isn't he?

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Nope, he's over there by Brian.]

That's not what I expected. Okay, reader. Zoom out, cock your head sideways, and tell me with just a glance what you think this diary was about:

thatonepost

Turnover analysis? A deep look inside offensive stats? An estimated timetable for improvement? Nope: try a "when do we fire this guy" post.

Deep, statistical analysis to answer rhetorical fan questions that have simple answers not requiring statistics (Michigan isn't firing Brady Hoke anytime soon): these are my readers tag activated. Really it's a case of bad title—what he's doing is comparing Hoke's coaching stops to those of the most successful coaches in recent history, concluding that Michigan needs to win 20 games in the next two seasons (and probably a national championship) to have his name placed among that pantheon. Expectations are probably around 17, with the fanbase getting mighty grumpy if that number dips below 16.

Your regular etc. LSA tackles (ha!) the defense, which straddled the B+/A- line all year until it faced Miller-Hyde without its middle linebackers.

[After the jump: a very meta board]

Dear Diary for Better or Worse

Dear Diary for Better or Worse

Submitted by Seth on December 6th, 2013 at 11:07 AM

One Play. I got really into this piece by Brhino where he went over Michigan football seasons going back to the "Year of Infinite Pain" (i.e. 2005) to point out games where one play may have meant the difference. Interesting way to reassess how we view the seasons. For example this year's team was a couple things going right away from 11-1 and a BCS bid (MSU would have still have won the Bo Division, with BCS eligibility riding on that), and a couple of things going wrong away from 4-8. I chart:

range

Bicking makes it cligger.

Quibble: I may be stretching "one play" too far, but Football Armageddon had that late hit out of bounds by Crable on 3rd and 15. OSU scored on that drive to go up 10. Who knows if Michigan can drive the ball the same as they did on the next possession. NFL win probability calculator says OSU was 79% to win if Crable doesn't make that hit, and 91% after the call. Fan brain says Michigan would have drove for the victory, beaten essentially the same Florida team they played the following year, and cured cancer.

Trend Lines. If you're into seeing how the rest of the Big Ten progressed on offense as this season did, dnak followed up last week's Michigan chart with some for the rest of the field. MSU is a young offense slowly growing up, Michigan's is one coached by insane people.

michiganmsu

Hypothesis: UConn was just a bad game and the coaches over-responded to it, putting themselves behind the 8-ball the rest of the season. I submit as a different model Penn State, which had more than a few personnel shortages but big talent in places and stuck with their scheme all year, seeing noticeable progression but no spikes until the last game.

Goals! The Corsi Charts have been shelved for the moment so MGoBlueline can do those goal analysis things I like much better anyway:

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Compher wins the faceoff, which is huge. Even more important, however, is that DeBlois is able to tie his man up. This allows a clean tap across from Compher to Guptill…

The OSU weekend's tallies at the link.

Charity. Tomorrow is Adopt-a-Shelter and both sites still could use some volunteers. K.o.k.Law had a tailgate at the house next door to MGoPatio, the cause being to fix up the house of an 11-year-old with a terrible illness.

Weeklies. Turnover Analysis talked about the Countess interception, which had a negative result of half a point. I still would have taken it; I think Furman stood there amazed for a second while OSU's receivers recovered, and if he hadn't he was in the exact right spot to make a key block. Turnover margin has been steadily climbing to the good since UConn, though the offense going into a shell to make that happen might have negated the good that's done. Inside the Box Score. Best and Worst talks about Ben Gedeon. LSA's usual stuff.

Etc. All-B1G team. Wallpaper with hoops schedule.

[Jump to learn an important lesson about swearing.]

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Submitted by Ace on July 29th, 2013 at 3:51 PM

If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.

George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter

As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.

George Campbell's commitment briefly turned the entire Michigan twittersphere into Robin and Brady Hoke into the proudest papa.


Mason Cole's Instagram also features ... are those tears, Coach?

It also attracted the attention of the CEO of Twitter, Michigan grad Dick Costolo.

Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]

Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.

Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?

I mean...

Wow, indeed.

Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):

What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get. He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?

All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.

Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.

Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reaching out to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.

Oh, and some other guy passed along his congratulations.

That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.

Hello there, potential überclass:

Not a bad start to the week, you guys.

[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]

Position Paper: Recruiting Early

Position Paper: Recruiting Early

Submitted by Brian on March 21st, 2012 at 10:59 AM

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Patrick Kugler, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton and Shane Morris

You may be aware that Michigan's off to a start unprecedented in the recruiting rankings era not only for them but for the Big Ten. Hints of this include relentless "Hello" posts on the front page, your strange desire to actually watch recruits' highlight reels, and Michigan State fans linking a post I wrote a while back scoffing at an MSU class that would beat Michigan four straight years.

The only other area school to rack up so many commitments so quickly is Penn State, which has piled their classes nearly full from time to time over the last decade. Even they haven't been as aggressive as Michigan. Three years ago they had 11 guys by the end of May and 15 by July. Michigan is sitting at 15 barely a month after the 2012 class signed. Their other notably quick-filling class was 2004, when they had 16 of 25 guys by August. Back then that was super quick; nowadays that would hardly raise an eyebrow.

Since Michigan's guys are almost without exception highly touted, this has caused mostly rejoicing in the Michigan fanbase. Rivals have responded with various binky-clutchings and hopeful narratives. There's also a certain portion of the Michigan fanbase that is concerned that Michigan is locking themselves in too quickly. They probably have an entire room full of various insurance contracts covering everything from dog attacks to the zombie apocalypse, but they exist. Occasionally they email me.

Here's a brief primer on why you should be happy Michigan has crammed its class full of four stars by mid-March. In retrospect this post is probably unnecessary.

This Is A Bad Idea Because Penn State Or Texas

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Early Texas commit Sergio Kindle can lift a car and plays in the NFL. Early Penn State commit Austin Hinton was a 6'2" offensive lineman. He does not play in the NFL.

The Penn State counterpoint is obvious: look at the profiles these guys have. Michigan has one recruit (Khalid Hill) who isn't on at least one of the early top 250/300s. They have enough four-star sorts to guarantee themselves a top 5 class already, on every service. Nine commits list an offer from Alabama, Ohio State, and/or Notre Dame, and that's without accounting for Shane Morris, who committed too early for heavy hitters to offer him, and the likelihood others would have picked up offers from the above if they weren't clawing their way into Michigan's class.

In contrast, a lot of Penn State's early guys were guys like Jed Hill*, Austin Hinton, and Dan Lawlor, low-to-mid three stars and saw their careers play out like they were that. PSU's '04 class saw just two four stars among the 15 who committed before their senior years, and most were barely that: Rivals gave 10 of them their lowest 3-star ranking or worse. It wasn't much different in '09. Three of the 16 early commits had four stars. They were outnumbered by guys who finished with two stars. This isn't a comparison.

Texas is. For years they've piled touted recruits like cordwood on their junior day and pursued some select out of state kids after locking up half or more of their class by this time every year. After falling on some hard times, they fired a bunch of coaches, brought in new blood, and took not one commit at their revamped junior day. A new day has dawned at Texas, which has only thirteen commits in mid-March.

Er.

Meanwhile on Mack Brown's Wikipedia page

image

…five top five finishes in ten years once Brown's recruiting took hold in 2001 and no final ranking lower than #13 until the recent Davis/Gilbert implosion. If adopting Mack's deal with the devil means we'll get complacent and pay the piper in 11 years, tell me where to sign.

*[Googling for images of  PSU recruits past who did not work out reveals that Hill is now a BEEFCAKE model. I pass this long in the spirit of knowledge and an effort to increase female readership.]

We Don't Have Enough Information On These Guys

I asked all the guys who applied for Ace's job a question: "why do Michigan's recruits tend to slide when rankings are revised?" It was admittedly a bit of a trick question since the mention of Michigan implies that is relevant information; it's not.

I think only one person gave me the right answer, which is that touted recruits are expected to drop because they're already rated in the top 1% of high school football players. The threat of moving down is much greater than the potential to move up. As the year goes on, kids will show up at camps or blow up in their senior seasons and get placed above Michigan's current commits, and they'll fall for no other reason. When Ondre Pipkins surges to five-star status he slides every other recruit in the nation down a slot. That's why Scout is reasonable to give only their top 250 four stars right now when their entire 300 will have four at the end of the year—they're saying that the guys at the end are likely to slide off as unknowns or late bloomers leap ahead of them. On average, Michigan's committed recruits should see their rankings slide in the 10 months before next February.

That said, Texas recruiting class rankings the past ten years: #2, #3, #3, #5, #14, #5, #5, #20 (just 15 kids), #10, #15, #1. Texas's rankings have been depressed by relatively small sizes since they don't oversign—for example, when they finished #15 in 2003 they were second to Michigan in average star ranking*. If the Longhorns have seen their class rankings backslide because they're jumping the gun, it hasn't been by much. The on-field results didn't suffer until they encountered the kind of complacency bred by wild success.

Meanwhile, what are Michigan's coaches going to find out about Michigan's recruits before their senior seasons? Nothing. Recruits will go to a bunch of camps over the summer that college coaches can't attend and rankings will go up and down. There's one event at which coaches actually get new information about the guys they're recruiting: summer camp. The thing is, Michigan got most of the kids in the area into their camp last year. It's now more a tool for the subsequent class. Michigan had Kyle Bosch on campus a half-dozen times before he committed. They've got nothing new to learn until September.

*[That class: Burgess, Woodley, Crable, Hall, Long, Kraus, Jerome Jackson, Ryan Mundy, Brandent Englemon, and guys who didn't play. It finished #17 in the overall Rivals rankings, which is nuts. No one takes opportunity cost into account.]

Michigan Expects These Guys To Be Committed In February

A favorite of opponent fans. Decommits are increasing at about the same pace early commitments are and inevitably a guy or two is going to find that he fits better somewhere else. Last year Michigan lost commits from Caleb Stacey, Anthony Standifer, and Pharaoh Brown. Standifer was probably an academic thing since Notre Dame turned him down when he tried to commit a few months later.

In their place, Michigan signed air after a string of late recruitments went against them… and still lassoed a class somewhere between 5 and 10 in the country. If they experience the same attrition rate next year, they'll probably replace the departures with decent three-star sorts or better… and a class solidly top five. Decommits are more common, but they are not common.

Michigan's Going To Miss Out On Emerging Seniors

The most fun is when the person making these arguments makes this one back to back with the previous one. It's true that there's going to be a four star or two who emerges and gets snapped up by MSU or Iowa or something and goes on to be a thorn in Michigan's side. When you've got guys who you think are nationally elite already in your class, that's worth a shrug. Also, when someone falls out of the class or there's more attrition than expected, Michigan will have the room to take a Willie Henry or a Frank Clark or a Dennis Norfleet.

This Doesn't Matter Because Michigan's Decaying Old Staff Had The Worst Possible Transition To Its Kind-Of-Incompetent New Staff, Operated With No Upperclass Quarterbacks For Three Years, And Hired Greg Robinson

That's the ticket, Michigan State fans.

In Conclusion

Recruiting good players is good. I probably didn't need to write this post.

Mailbag: Tourney Prospects, OL Flipping, MANBALL Re-evaluating

Mailbag: Tourney Prospects, OL Flipping, MANBALL Re-evaluating

Submitted by Brian on March 6th, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Basketball: really as good as all that?

Via UMHoops

Now, it doesn't matter for the Big Ten regular season...it is what it is, we went 13-5, and earned a share of the title.  But what does it mean for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA?

Ask yourself this question when it comes to evaluating the Michigan season...was it a solid 13-5 or a weak 13-5?  Was it a 13-5 that with a few breaks was 15-3?  Or was it a 13-5 with a bunch of breaks that could have easily been 10-8?  Which of those is more representative of the basketball we saw this year?  Death from above in the two tournaments?

Northwestern looms.  Twice we played them.  Twice we went overtime with them. Could have lost both.  Didn't. Positives to be sure.  But who shows up come Friday? …

To me, happy we share the title.  Not convinced at this point we are as good as either of those other two teams.  Proud of the heart, proud of the overall result.  Concerned about the two tourneys.

Bluntly, Michigan was not as good as either of the two teams they tied with. You can see that in the efficiency margins:

                      W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Ohio St.         13-5   65.4    1.10    0.93    +0.17
2.  Michigan St.     13-5   62.5    1.08    0.92    +0.16
3.  Wisconsin        12-6   58.0    1.03    0.97    +0.06
4.  Michigan         13-5   58.9    1.06    1.01    +0.05
5.  Indiana          11-7   65.4    1.11    1.06    +0.05
6.  Purdue           10-8   64.0    1.10    1.09    +0.01
7.  Northwestern     8-10   61.0    1.08    1.12    -0.04
8.  Minnesota        6-12   62.6    1.00    1.04    -0.04
9.  Iowa             8-10   65.8    1.03    1.09    -0.06
10. Illinois         6-12   63.7    0.97    1.05    -0.08
11. Penn St.         4-14   62.3    0.97    1.10    -0.13
12. Nebraska         4-14   61.9    0.93    1.09    -0.16

Kenpom will confirm that for you: it has MSU and OSU #2 and #3 behind Kentucky with Michigan idling at 20.

Meanwhile, going 13-5 would not have netted Michigan a title in any other year since the Big Ten went back to 18 games. Most years they wouldn't even be within a game. There's no denying they were fortunate to end up where they are now. Michigan lost one close Big Ten game (@ Indiana, 73-71) and won four to six (NW x 2, MSU, Purdue, maybe Minnesota and OSU depending on how you feel about five-point games). You can grub grub grub about will to win and finding ways to win and winning is for winners; I don't buy that stuff.

In terms of efficiency margin and Kenpom rankings, Michigan is about where we'd hoped they'd be before the season: slightly improved despite the loss of Darius Morris, short of truly contending for a conference title. In terms of wins they're a three seed and a Big Ten champ.

I don't say this to bring anyone down. It's wonderful. For this team to accomplish what they have is fantastic, and at this point anything after winning a 3-14 matchup in the first round is gravy.

I do think they'll be a particularly vulnerable three, though, and won't be surprised to see them flame out in the second round*. I also won't let that damage the wonderful run they went on to erase a lot of bad streaks. From a logical perspective I get the "concern"; from an emotional perspective it went from 90% house money to 110% as soon as Buford hit that shot. The worst that happens is Michigan State fans say "see you weren't really a Big Ten champ." This will not prevent the banner from going up.

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

*[I'm not predicting that by any means. Michigan gave Duke all they wanted last year and a hypothetical second-round opponent will be much worse than the Blue Devils were last year. Beilein is a consistent outperformer when he reaches the tourney.

HOWEVA, I do loathe the prospect of drawing a couple of the current six-seeds in Jerry Palm's bracket. They are all dangerous mid-majors: UNLV, New Mexico, Wichita State, and St. Mary's. In Kenpom's eyes that's two teams better than Michigan (Wichita, New Mexico) and two who are a dozen or so spots worse (UNLV, St. Mary's).

You may remember the Dohrmann UCLA article mentioning the success of a couple transfers out of the program: that's basically UNLV. Chace Stanback is a 6'8" guy hitting 47% from three; Mike Moser is a 6'8" guy in the top ten in defensive rebounding with high usage and an inside-out game.

I find Palm's fives a lot more palatable: Louisville (#30 Kenpom), FSU (#28), SDSU (#51), and Creighton(#35). No matter what I expect a second-round nailbiter.]

The golden child's effect on the OL.

Brian or Ace or Anybody;

I am confused, when talking about o-line prospects in the 2012 or 2013 class, some say "Fox makes an ideal RT" or "LT-T is the prototype Left Tackle.". Is the fact that Shane "Obama circa 2008" Morris is a southpaw baked into the projections as to who plays where on the OL?  Wouldn't the proto LT be moved to RT for a lefty QB, or no?

Are you and your Bloggy ilk keeping this in mind, does it make a difference for a lefty qb?

Reid McCarthy

I don't think it matters much. Many players at Michigan and elsewhere have flipped from right to left tackle without a problem; when Morris becomes the starter Michigan will put their best pass protector at right tackle and he'll adjust over the course of an offseason. Jake Long switched from right to left after his first year as a starter; Mike Schofield was pressed into service as a left guard after practicing mostly at tackle and did fine.

There might be some slight issues if Morris is either in (because of Gardner injury) or out (because of a Morris injury) of the lineup unexpectedly. In that case you probably wouldn't want to screw up the line's performance by flipping them mid-game and will be exposing either Morris's or his backup's blind side to slightly worse protection. That's life.

Even if that happens it doesn't look like there's going to be a huge difference between the starting tackles at any point in the near future. Whoever the #2 guy is will have beaten out an array of 6'5"-6'7" blue chips. This is not going to be Jake Long opposite Rueben Riley. It's going to be Almost Jake Long opposite Decent Approximation Of Jake Long.

MANBALL concerns revisited.

63014404

I WANT YOU TO JOIN UP
ALL OF YOU
THAT WAS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE

Brian,

You have argued over the past several years that you think Michigan will be at a talent disadvantage compared to teams like Ohio and SEC oversigners like Alabama, so long as the status quo persists. You've also argued that, schematically, the best way to deal with this deficit is the spread offense. I am curious if you think Hoke (and Borges) can build an offense in their mold that can truly compete on the national stage. What do you think it will take in terms of recruiting and scheme to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? Do you think that we have the ability to recruit the offensive talent we need to contend for a national title? Or is it perhaps too early to tell?

Obviously an elite defense, which I think we are building, mitigates the need for an elite offense, but recent BCS title games have demonstrated that you can't rely on just defense to win that game. Ultimately I am asking what combination of scheme and talent you think we need to achieve in order to win the national championship.

All the best,
Michael

My concerns about Michigan's ceiling have been blown away by Hoke's early recruiting returns. If Michigan is bringing in top five classes consistently—Hoke's already two for two a month into his second class—and is approaching games with the controlled aggression that Hoke, Mattison, and Borges displayed in their first year, there is no reason they can't run a conventional offense and compete for national titles.

When you have a huge talent advantage or are Wisconsin you can line up and beat heads in: top ten FEI offenses* this year include Wisconsin, Stanford, and USC. Alabama was #11. All you need to replicate that is a ton of NFL guys on the line, an NFL quarterback, and some NFL skill guys. Check, check, well… we'll see.

I get the vibe from your email that you're a bit skeptical of Michigan's skill position recruiting. I think that's premature. Shane Morris is a Henne-level QB recruit. Michigan did pick up a consensus four-star in Amara Darboh at WR and came close to flipping Brionte Dunn; this year they've got a top 100 tight end (for now, anyway—Butt will probably fall into the 100-200 range as the year progresses) and seem to lead for a couple five-star types in Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell. If Hoke lands those guys Michigan's weak spot in the 2012 and 2013 classes is…

[PROCESSING]

[STILL PROCESSING]

…uh… cornerback? For now, anyway.

Even if one of those two guys escapes we're still 11 months from Signing Day; more targets will emerge. It seems like Michigan's going to be able to focus a lot of attention on any holes they have in the class come, oh, May.

My main concern with Michigan's scheme going forward is a potential over-reliance on a fullback. It seems like most pro-styles have moved to double TE sets. See this Chris Brown article on Alabama's very MANBALL, very NC-worthy offense. I hope that's where Michigan's going, too. Tight ends threaten defenses vertically in a way that fullbacks do not; they're better athletes, generally, and better targets for downfield passes. Fullbacks… eh.

I think this is also where Michigan's going. Their TE recruiting is massive—they're looking for a fifth in two years—and there's clear distinction between guys like Jake Butt and Khalid Hill, a 6'2", 230 pound guy designated a "U-back" or "move tight end" according to TomVH.

So, like, whatever. My beefs 14 months into the Hoke era are "that one punt against Illinois" and "taking a scholarship fullback." Oh, and the complete implosion of the offense in a couple games. But that's not a long term issue.

Hoke has dumped game-changer after game-changer on us since his hire to the point where the internet is making memes like this…

image

Ben Gedeon's visiting, you say?

…if we're feeling for a ceiling it's a bit hard to find right now. One will probably come, but there's no reason to go looking for it just yet.

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

*[I know FEI put up some weird results this year what with Navy and Miami in the top ten as well but it at least tries to account for strength of schedule and pace of play; FWIW, Stanford was 8th in total yardage, Wisconsin 14th, USC 21st, 'Bama 31st.

Also, as long as you're down here, how about Paul Chryst? I predict Wisconsin has a noticeable dropoff in his absence.]

Unverified Voracity Debates The Number Three

Unverified Voracity Debates The Number Three

Submitted by Brian on February 23rd, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Brief vacation note. I'll be limited Friday and Monday as I visit some friends. I don't think it'll be that noticeable Friday but it's likely there aren't going to be any major columns Monday or Tuesday. I won't be able to catch the hockey game since they're not on TV, but I will write something up on the Purdue game whenever I get a chance.

Northwestern. Via mgovideo:

Podcast. I guested on The Solid Verbal. They asked me if I could think of anything wrong with Brady Hoke and I came up empty. It's been a good 13 months.

Beilein recruiting vs. development. I'm not entirely clear on whether Dan Hanner's recruiting and coaching rankings have methodology gaps that would particularly affect John Beilien but the general idea is to evaluate a coach's recruiting on the ORtg of his freshmen and his development of players on the movement of that ORtg as the players age. Survey says:

Coach Team Tenure All Recruiting Development Overall
John Calipari Kentucky 3 10 1st 35th 1st
Thad Matta Ohio St. 8 10 3rd 12th 2nd
Bo Ryan Wisconsin 10 10 17th 2nd 3rd
Mike Krzyzewski Duke 10 10 4th 18th 4th
John Beilein Michigan 5 10 14th 8th 5th
Lorenzo Romar Washington 10 10 19th 4th 6th
Mike Montgomery California 4 6 25th 5th 7th
Bill Self Kansas 9 10 7th 21st 8th
Rick Barnes Texas 10 10 2nd 37th 9th
Jim Boeheim Syracuse 10 10 6th 29th 10th

There are some obvious holes in the evaluations here since they only take offense into account, they assume a guy like Burke's performance is all recruiting and no development when he's had on average a half-year of development by the end of his freshman year, etc. But they do make the case that Beilein's recruiting at Michigan has been horrendously underrated, especially since the defense is more than holding its own in this year's Big Ten. Throw it on the pile of evidence indicating Beilein has a great eye for players.

See also: Trey Burke, nation's #3 freshman according to CBS.

It might behoove us to move to a less three-mad offense. Emphasis on "might"—obviously there is something going on with Beilein's offense that works. But in Ken Pomeroy's ongoing quest to discredit defensive three point efficiency, he's doing collateral damage to offensive three point efficiency:

OFFENSIVE 3P%

DEFENSIVE 3P%

Oh dear. The defensive plot is just a random scattering of data, as has been discussed previously, but the offensive version isn’t much better. If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.

In contrast, two-point shooting correlates well. Pomeroy admits he doesn't know what the impact on strategy is, and neither do I. This could be an argument for Michigan to move its game inside the line, but it's not hard to see Michigan's #6 two-point shooting as a number that benefits greatly from Michigan's long-range bombing. As long as Michigan is going four-out, one-in they're going to have to take a lot of threes to stretch opponents into giving them decent opportunities from two.

Thirty-eight is way too many, though. Right now the Wildcats are obviously right with Michigan; in the future when McGary, Horford, Glenn Robinson, and Stauskas give M a huge size and athleticism advantage bombing it from the outside is asking to get upset. I wonder if we see Michigan cut back on the bombs in their new era of talent superiority.

gergdavis[1]greg-robinson-fail

Meet the new GERG? Iowa's new offensive coordinator:

If you were hoping that the Greg Davis rumors were nothing but smoke and disinformation, well, today is not your day. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, a gentleman who is about as well-connected to the Texas football program as Mack Brown himself, reported today that Greg Davis had accepted the Iowa offensive coordinator position.

Davis was run out of Texas on a rail after Colt McCoy graduated and the offense collapsed. Before that he'd told Vince Young to run around out there to good effect and transitioned to a pretty good McCoy-led passing spread, so this is not exactly hiring a guy whose only success in the past ten years was a one-year blip (Greg Robinson).

Still, a 61-year-old retread who cratered that much talent has Iowa fans shrugging. The consensus at BHGP is "decent"; if things go south this fall they'll turn quickly. Looks like Jacobi had to rewrite his headline after his initial take:

http://www.blackheartgoldpants.com/2012/2/22/2817320/greg-davis-hired-iowa-offensive-coordinator-goddammit

Also on the url of the above Prevail and Ride cartoon as uploaded to SBN:

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/962023/gergdavis.jpg

Mattison is probably not quaking at the hire.

Elsewhere in Iowa blogging. The High Porch Picnic evaluates Michigan's recent recruiting from an Iowa POV and is a bit bothered that Hoke and Ferentz seem to have a lot more overlap than the Hawkeyes did with the previous Michigan regime. If I was Iowa I'd be more concerned with Michigan's sudden relevance in Illinois, a place they've struggled in for the past five years.

This reminds me to elaborate on something I mentioned in passing on the Solid Verbal: the current configuration of offenses in the Big Ten footprint is advantage Michigan recruiting. The two schools who do the best job of competing on the trail, Notre Dame and Ohio State, are now spread offenses. The second tier run pro-styles. Michigan looks like it's in a phase where it's rarely going to lose a battle against the second tier; meanwhile they should have an advantage with certain recruits in hostile territory simply because their opponents won't have a good place to put them.

Michigan's in a good position to starve Michigan State and, to a lesser extent, Iowa of offensive talent while bolstering their class with a guy like Jake Butt who Ohio State might have been pursuing hotly if they were still running a Tressel offense.

Side note: the impressive thing about Hoke's progress in Illinois is beating out ND. Remember when going up against Notre Dame was totally pointless, especially in Illinois? Yeah. We'll see what happens with Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell; if Michigan lands them that will be a huge statement.

List o' jerkos. CBS's Eye on College Football lists the 30 BCS schools who voted to override the multi-year scholarship legislation and points out that their real desire is to avoid giving out multi-year scholarships themselves:

The motivation in Austin, Baton Rouge, Knoxville and Norman isn't that they can't hand out four-year scholarships, it's that they simply don't want to.

Of course, the legislation doesn't mean any school -- BCS, mid-major, or otherwise -- is required to offer multiple-year scholarships. But since that might put the schools that don't at a recruiting disadvantage against schools that do, the Texases (and USCs, and Alabamas) have tried to prevent anyone from offering them.

In short: because these schools don't want to promise their athletes a full four-year college education, they've decided the athletes at other schools shouldn't have the benefit of that promise, either.

But whatever, they failed. Wisconsin was the only Big Ten school to ask for an override. Their football team signed up with most of the rest of the conference in offering four-year rides, though, so why is unknown. IIRC, their hockey team has a bit of reputation for cutting kids loose. That might be it.

Now the Free Press won't exist for anyone else, either. Gannett hastens its own decline:

“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, [Gannett] president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.

The Free Press is a Gannett paper, so to get your Drew Sharp fix you'll have to start kicking in subscription dollars. I'm sure the line will be lengthy: Gannett projects they'll increase subscription revenues by 25%—$100 million per year. Think of all the press conference rehashes, trolling, and Mitch Albom columns about angels you'll be missing out on.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not going to steal Ace's recruiting roundup thunder entirely but just… holy hopping ham sandwiches:

The Levenberry family is looking for a paternal figure to guide son E.J.'s career. It's found him in Ann Arbor.

E.J. Levenberry Jr. said this week that Michigan is the lead school for his services. The ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker prospect from Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton referenced Wolverines coach Brady Hoke as one of the primary reasons why.

"He kind of reminds me of my dad, the way he carries himself," Levenberry said.

Add Levenberry, Isaac, Treadwell, and O'Daniel—all players who Michigan reputedly leads for now—and that's nine Rivals 100 recruits, three guys who would be consensus five-stars if rankings hold, and a class that will compete for the best in the country. They'll probably lose at least one of those guys and rankings do not hold*; even so… good God.

*[Because there's not many places to go but down and as the year goes along recruiting analysts will turn up top flight talent they missed the first time around. See: Ondre Pipkins. Even if Rivals's opinion of Jake Butt doesn't change at all he's likely to slide 20-30 spots by Signing Day.]

Briefly. Ohio State fans are now the ones annoyed by the "spread can't work in B10 lol" meme propagated by hobos, people who think wrestling is real, and newspaper columnists—all the same people. They get bonus annoyance because Rich Rodriguez just "proved" this by having a quarterback run for 1700 yards. As I said: people who think wrestling is real.

So they're trying to dispel the Rodriguez stink:

Rodriguez largely failed to evolve his offense past the spread's origins.  Chris Brown, for instance, prophetically predicated at the beginning of Rodriguez's Michigan tenure that Rodriguez's passing game lacked the conceptual nature necessary to succeed as teams adapted to the spread's basic tenets.  Nor did Rodriguez (for the most part) diversiify his offense in the way an Oregon has to counteract things such as scrape exchanges.  Michigan never embraced plays such as the midline option, inverted veer, power or counter trey like others.  The upshot is that, while Michigan's offense was largely succesful once Denard Robinson was in place, it never hummed in the way Oregon's offense did (particularly against better teams) to overcome Michigan's defense or special team liabilities. 

That's not really true. Rodriguez adapted his system to use Lloyd's collection of tight ends, burned many defenses with plays specifically designed to blow up scrape exchanges, and eventually shelved large sections of the old playbook in favor of having Denard Robinson run QB isos and stretches, pairing those with "aigh he's open" moments when a Robinson run turned out to be a pass. The reason 31 points against Penn State and 28 with a missed chip shot field goal against Wisconsin were bad performances didn't have much to do with the offense.

Rodriguez's offense never reached the high-pitched hum of Oregon's because he never had a returning starter at quarterback and the only non-freshman was a breathtakingly green Denard Robinson. Also his tailbacks were pretty bad. If OSU fans are looking for narratives to combat hobos, "we'll have an assload of talent relative to Rodriguez" is your best bet.

Etc.: Tremendous has an even more detailed breakdown of Hoke's appearance at the Glazier Clinic. Rodger Sherman narrowly survived the Michigan-Northwestern game but the prognosis is grim. Michigan's off to a healthy lead in the name-based recruiting class derby but there's a "Zanquanarious Washington" out there—they will not win. Blue wall! You've already seen Luke Winn's decision to put us in SI's "magic eight" teams from which a national champion will come. That seems like a bad bet to me, but whatever. TTB interviews Jehu Chesson, who I will probably call "Jehuu Caulcrick" at some point during his career.

Coaching Clinic Notes: Brady Hoke

Coaching Clinic Notes: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Brian on February 22nd, 2012 at 3:31 PM

NOTE: it proved impossible to communicate what OL coaches were like without swearing more than I usually would in a post not about backboards in the immediate aftermath of last year's Wisconsin game. Keep children and the mad away from this post.

Faced with a difficult choice between seeing the head coach give his stump speech and talk about defensive line coaching and Al Borges talking about creating a play sheet and Michigan's passing concepts, I split the difference: one hour each. If I'd known I was going to get an excellent event recap from the Hoke presentation in my inbox that night I would have gone 100% Borges, but better to have it 3/4ths covered than half.

The emailer's notes follow. I was in the room for the first half of this and will interject some asides where appropriate; first a few general impressions from me.

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

no%20bread[1]world-of-shit[1]

loafs = bad; offensive line coaches, basically

My first exposure to the football coaching subculture was sometimes fascinating, sometimes boring, and full of swearing.

To a certain extent all football coaches emphasize the same things, and they tell you about these things every time. I get it: "loafs" are not tolerated. They are to you as scrubs are to TLC. [blank stares] I would like to move on from this because I have never tried to teach anyone and do not understand that without relentless consistency you do not get the results you want. Football coaches know you would like to move on but the relentless consistency is so ingrained in their nature that they can't help themselves.

Hoke was the most explicit example of this amongst the coaches I've seen over the past couple weeks. His presentation is on proper defensive line technique* and he says "I respect guys who just get into football and won't do all that philosophy stuff," he does a large section on philosophy stuff, and then sort of apologizes for it—only sort of because Hoke has a friendly bravado to him. Very few coaches can escape it.

Most of those guys are offensive line coaches. In a field of insane, profanity-prone sticklers for detail, OL coaches stand out. Collectively they have an air of weary acceptance. The best way to communicate this: a couple of the guys who presented in Grand Rapids have their own OL-specific clinic. Their logo is a mushroom because they're "kept in the dark and eat shit all day."

Funk was the first OL coach I took in so I didn't know how much of an exception he was. He may be the most businesslike individual I've ever perceived. No jokes, no swearing, just explanations.

What Funk shares with the other guys is an arcane language that's half signing, half jargon, half grunting, and I know that adds up to more than 100%. Jets consultant Jim McNally spent an hour talking about where a center's first step should be against a one-technique. He'd put his foot somewhere, say that was horseshit, put his foot somewhere else that you could just perceive was different, and tell you that this would prevent the motherfucker lined up across from you from putting you in a world of shit as long as you did six dozen other things right. But then some other motherfucker would put you in a world of shit some other way so you had to STEP [GRUNT] in this other particular way. A ballet eventually emerged in this quarter-full room as McNally scribbled his hieroglyphics on an overhead projector: step, grunt, swear. Step, grunt, swear. And so on.

So… yeah. Offensive line coaches.

*[Again it's worth mentioning here that Hoke is an outlier amongst head coaches. He still coaches a position. Meanwhile, he seems to have relatively little input on the coordinator-level duties. He is high and low and nowhere in between.]

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

hokesmug

Brady Hoke commands a room. I'd been in The Presence once before, when The UM Club of Ann Arbor invited me to be a panelist for their season kickoff Q&A. He started off with the same call and response he gives the team:

Hoke: YEAR
Team: 132
Hoke: CHAMPIONSHIPS
Team: 42

He then jovially mocks you for being meek little things and asks you to do it again. It's probably the oldest motivational/attention gathering technique in the history of man. He did it to the infinite coaches in the room by saying "GOOD EVENING" until the response was involved enough for him to continue. He does this with the team, obviously.

Over the course of the hour I took in he grabbed a half-dozen people out of the crowd to demonstrate certain things, told everyone to get up and actually get in a stance—this did not work well since the room was packed—and used a former Ball State player he called by a stereotypically defensive line nickname I forget as a proficient dummy. He got his points across, kept attention to him, and tossed off laugh lines with the casual air of a guy in complete control of a room. Which he was. As I noodled on my phone in certain other talks, Hoke's charisma became a more notable thing.

A couple days later eight four-star recruits would agree.

Now on to the email report.

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

HI Brian,

Last night I had the opportunity to hear Coach Hoke speak for 2 hours at a Glazier Clinic in Grand Rapids.  Hoke took the first five minutes to talk a little program philosophy and motivational stuff, he then launched into a very detailed 110 minute talk about D-Line rules/technique/drills/responsibilities.  I thought I would share some various bullets from the night.

Current Personnel

Roh move. Although already mentioned on the Blog, Craig Roh is definitely moving to the 5 tech! Coach hit on this a couple times while discussing drills.  Seemed to hint at Beyer and possibly Ryan moving to WDE?!  [Hint means he mentioned these guys as he was discussing WDE position...again nothing for sure, but just passing along info.]

[ED: I assume Ryan isn't moving to WDE. He probably gets mentioned amongst them because the SLB has a lot of responsibilities similar to the WDE. At the previous clinic Mattison mentioned that M has a defense in which the SLB and WDE essentially swap responsibilities that they ran 80 times last year. As always, SLB and WDE in the 4-3 under aren't that different. Also Ryan was a DE in the even-front nickel package last year.]

Campbell. Big Will came in for a little praise for his size and strength and it sounds like he is a "tremendous" individual, but Hoke didn't make you feel great about Will's chances to contribute at a high level.

Jake Ryan. Came in for some high praise as Coach Hoke called him "an unorthodox football player" and also said he will be a key to the success of the defense here at Michigan.  They showed the clip from the Sugar Bowl where Wilson tries to bounce at the goal line and runs 20 yards backwards then Ryan cleans up.

[ED:

This was one of two late-season plays on which Ryan's shocking upfield acceleration resulted in a big loss. A Taylor Martinez zone read keeper that ended up a TFL was the other.]

Hoke smiles and says, "That's just fun, isn't it?" Hoke went on to tell a story about a connection to the Ryan family and that Jake was interested in SDSU, but Hoke and his staff there never offered.  He then said something to the sound of, "times like this make you feel like a fool, glad we got him now!" 

Obviously. Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen came in for high praise as men who worked hard and set the tone as important Seniors on team #132.  RVB was credited as one of the smartest players on the team, Hoke then said, "Mike is really strong!"  That received a roar of laughs. (Quick side note:  Hoke is a great comedian and has a natural feel for comedic timing. [ED: It's true. He called a guy up to the front of the room to get in a stance, started adjusting him, and then asked if his feet were square. The demonstrator said "more or less"; Hoke repeated it in just the right way and got a roaring laugh from the room. Comedy without a punchline is hard.])

Hoke talked specifically about Martin not getting enough push earlier in the year and how, once he was attacking more, he was unblockable. 

Nathan Brink got a lot of love from Coach Hoke.  He said, "he is a limited athlete, but a tough sucker." Maybe he can add some valuable depth?

Desmond Morgan received some high praise.  However, every time they showed D-Line clips from game film, Des seemed to be out of place or getting killed! Coach Hoke talked about his smarts, strength, and instinct.

[ED: Morgan fared better in the clips from the Mattison session. I figure the bad bits are freshman being freshmen and they expect he'll be a lot better this year. Morgan will not go easily into the night what with the new kids around.]

Quinton Washington got some love from Coach.  He talked about his strength and good feet.  The only set back for Quinton is he is a "pincher bug!"  Meaning he doesn't get his hands inside and get extension.  With three D-Line coaches on staff, you have to get technique right or you will not see the field.  He said "we need Quinton to get this right before September 1st!"

Stories and Comments

0912 MICH2 PHOTO 3 SPORTS 1998
Photo By Frank Ordoñez/ SU's Donovan Mcnabb runs for a 11 yard gain that set up SU's first touchdown in the 1st quarter.

Cross is boss

The McNabb game. Coach Hoke talked about the 98' Syracuse game and mentioned that, "you guys know a guy by the name of Donovan McNabb?  He is just a little bit of good!" He went on to say, "I told Coach Carr that I take all responsibility for the loss."   Hoke talked about the fact that he didn't prepare his linemen properly and he let them down.  Some of this is coach speak, but he is so effectual with his speaking that I felt like he let me down too.  It was salt in the wounds man, salt in the wounds.

[ED: This was presented in the context of returning nine starters from the 1997 defense, which you may remember as pretty  good. Hoke was discussing the algorithm he has his players go through to get to the ball and how he thought his guys had it down after '97; now he teaches it every year without fail. Again we got back to coaches repeating everything for a reason.

nddf2[1]Hall. He talked about James Hall (right) as having the best hands he has ever seen.  He referenced this leading to a great NFL career, although he did mention that great speed/quickness helps!

Jabs. Hoke kept throwing out light hearted jabs at his assistants.  Gave you the feeling that these guys really like each other and work well together.

[ED: as I tweeted out, Borges was talking about how few people were in his clinic and Hoke was telling him "no one cares about offense" before they went on. In actuality both sessions were packed to the gills.]

T-Bone. I was surprised by how detailed he was in all the drills/technique portion.  One of his GAs from Ball State was in attendance, so he had "T-Bone" come up and be his personal dummy for the night.  Hoke repeatedly gave this guy huge shots on every demonstrated punch and extension.  T-Bone was tough, but by the end, he was grimacing each time.  I only include this to show how much Hoke is still a D-Line guy at heart.  He can't hold back and was working up a sweat demonstrating this.

[ED: T-Bone. Of course.]

Ohio. Following the clinic someone was asking him a question about the "Akron State Golden Bobcats" and this gentleman used the full given name of that said team.  Quickly Hoke corrected him and said, "You mean Ohio?" questioning which team the man meant.  I know it might seem played up with the whole "Ohio" thing, but that little interaction made me a bit more proud that he is our coach. 

Tremendous. Overall, there were 11 counts of "tremendous." 

I was very much on the fence about Coach Hoke until his introductory press conference.  Then I remained skeptical throughout the summer and even fall.  After getting to witness this talk on a Thursday night in February with a bunch of overweight D-Line coaches, I am thankful that he is our coach.  You can see why Mattison wanted to coach with him. 

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So that's Hoke.