Unverified Voracity Has Many Hues

Unverified Voracity Has Many Hues

Submitted by Brian on July 24th, 2015 at 12:55 PM

WHAT COLOR IS THIS MAN. Adidas released some uniformz for Nebraska that are as goofy as they usually are. I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about what color this person is.

Screen_Shot_2015-07-23_at_9.15.29_AM.0[1]

Look at this person's face. That's weird. I guess he's put eyeblack everywhere in an effort to look like a big and tough and maybe remind people of the Ultimate Warrior. You can see that at the edge of his face his skin tone goes back to the lighter shade of his nose.

Now look at this person's arms.

!!!

The Braxton move. If you've followed the first few rounds of Draftageddon you know that Ohio State is basically 1969 Ohio State again. So they've moved a guy who was on Heisman short lists last year as a QB to WR, just cuz:

Miller’s fallback plan has become a reality, as he told SI.com on Thursday night that he plans to start the 2015 season playing H-Back—a hybrid receiver position—for the Buckeyes. Miller hasn’t completely closed the door on playing quarterback, as he estimates that he’ll spend 80% of the time during training camp at receiver and 20% with the quarterbacks. But Miller said with more than two months until he’ll be completely healthy at quarterback, he’s approaching this season as primarily a wide receiver.

"H-back" means a different thing in Urban Meyer's offense than it does in Hoke or Harbaugh's. This is not Wyatt Shallman. This is Percy Harvin.

That does chop down on the "yes, but" Michigan fans are preparing after they saw Devin Gardner's somewhat amateurish attempt to play WR. Miller's going to be an option on a bunch of running plays and get targeted on screens. He is not going to be asked to track balls over his shoulder after lining up on a cornerback—at least not much. That makes his move depressingly plausible.

It also opens up the kind of trick plays you last saw eight-year-olds come up with at the family picnic. Dude.

I have an easy way to fix this. Nobody knows what a catch is anymore. I don't have to tell Lions fans this, of course. Michigan's also had their brushes with the gray area against Virginia Tech and Iowa. The NFL's attempt to fix things:

The problem here is that this is not an algorithm for determining if it is a catch. You need a function. This is an NFL function, FWIW.

function isitacatch(feet_down, touchy_feely_vars){

if (feet_down < 2)

     return false;

if (feet_down > 2)

     return true;

if (feet_down == 2)

     did the ball touch the ground? return false;
     did the receiver bobble the ball such that he had to re-catch it while out of bounds?
     return false;

return true;

}

College version is the same except you return false only on feet_down < 1 and check the touchy-feely on 1 or 2. Also I know you don't need the last if statement.

The VT and Iowa plays above should not have to go to extraordinarily long replays subject to announcer debate. Both of them touched the ground. You have one job as a receiver: don't let it touch the ground.

At some point you have accomplished that job. That point is currently determined by feelingsball instead of "you took another step," which is pretty close to definitive. Engineers should write these things, not lawyers.

Gary Andersen sipping tea. Wisconsin has shot down one of their top recruits:

Incoming freshman running back Jordan Stevenson was denied admission to the University of Wisconsin, according to a report by 247sports.com.

Stevenson, a four-star prospect who was considered one of the Badgers’ top recruits for the 2015 class, confirmed on Twitter that his recruitment is open to any Division I program.

“#Badgernation Thanks for all the love also all the support through all I have been through much love,” Stevenson tweeted.

That's a bizarre situation. Players do occasionally get rejected by the NCAA clearinghouse, but in those cases the player heads to JUCO. Stevenson is apparently trying to find a landing spot this fall. And when serious academic schools who are serious reject players for reasons other than "you are literally not eligible to play", they do it before, say, late July.

If Stevenson does end up on campus this fall (Arkansas?), Gary Andersen's shocking jump to Oregon State will look pretty justified. It's one thing to deny entry to a player. It's another to do it now, months after he signed a LOI.

The wave, 1984. They were super excited about new technology back in the day:

According to Wikipedia, Michigan brought the wave back from a game against Washington in 1983. A letter to the editor claimed that it stuck because

"There are three reasons why the wave caught on at Michigan Wolverine games: It gave the fans something to do when the team was leading its opponent by 40 points, it was thrilling and exciting to see 105,000 people in the stands moving and cheering, and Bo Schembechler asked us not to do it."

From Michigan it spread to the Tigers, and when the Tigers won the World Series that year it was on TV a ton. The rest is history.

Indiana, 1980. Not competitive.

Etc.: Roundtree gets a job at CSU-Pueblo with Jeff Hecklinski.

Mailbag: Retaining Mattison, Coach Before AD, Hackett Long-Term, Braxton Transfer, Schlissel Concerns(?)

Mailbag: Retaining Mattison, Coach Before AD, Hackett Long-Term, Braxton Transfer, Schlissel Concerns(?)

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2014 at 11:23 AM

image1-bf91cf676c0b99f5[1]

Left: via Eric DeBoer. Right: ICE ICE BABY TOO COLD

Retaining Mattison?

Dear Brian,

It seems very clear that Hoke is gone at this point. Is there a scenario in which we could fire Hoke, but keep Mattison at DC? This is a top 25 team with a competent offense. I actually like Nuss too as I believe the playcalling has been good and Gardner just isn't executing, but he also seems as good as gone right?

-Anon

It's rare for assistant coaches to be kept on after a head coaching change. OSU kept Luke Fickell, but they've devolved his responsibility repeatedly and their defense is not up to par with their offense. You get the sense he's mostly around for recruiting. Other than that I can't recall a coordinator-level assistant who survived their head man getting axed.

Making an exception for Mattison depends on a lot of things. For one, is he pissed off enough that he just retires? Mattison's pressers have been feisty, full-throated defenses of Brady Hoke over the last couple months. It's clear Hoke commands seriously loyalty from him, and it was expected he'd be retiring in the somewhat near future anyway. He would take some convincing to stay, and making that pitch is a delicate thing I'm not sure certain targets *cough*HARBAUGH*cough* would be good at.

Meanwhile, there's the question of how good this defense actually is. Yeah, they're seventh nationally in yards per game and 12th in yards per play. They've also faced a selection of completely horrible offenses. Yards per play rankings of Michigan power 5 opponents, out of 128:

  • NORTHWESTERN: 125th
  • PENN STATE: 121st
  • UTAH: 89th
  • MINNESOTA: 68th
  • INDIANA: 57th, but most of that is w/ Sudfeld
  • RUTGERS: 50th
  • NOTRE DAME: 38th
  • MICHIGAN STATE: 12th

There are two teams in there that are better than average and if you take Indiana's QB situation into account (Indiana has averaged barely 200 yards a game since Diamont took over) there are three of the very worst teams in the country. #91 Maryland and… uh… #11 Ohio State are pending.

That plus Michigan's notoriously slow tempo means the advanced stats have a very different perspective on Michigan than raw ones. FEI has Michigan 35th(!) in the country, which is barely average in a schedule adjusted system. Michigan is 31st in S&P.

It's not hard to see why. They gave up 400 yards to Gary Nova, got plastered by David Cobb, and folded on the second drive in East Lansing against the one legitimately good offense they faced. The man press misstep was costly, and I don't have a lot of hope Michigan is going to throttle Ohio State.

So. Given that and the likelihood Mattison's going to call it quits sooner rather than later anyway, I wouldn't put a high priority on retaining him. It might be different if there was a guy on staff that looked like an heir apparent, but Mark Smith keeps getting bounced to other roles, Roy Manning is probably still too young, and Kurt Mallory was interviewing at I-AA schools last summer.

I don't see anyone sticking around after the transition except Manning, who's established himself a great recruiter and can go back to his natural LB spot. I still think Nussmeier's track record is an excellent one, especially in QB development, but it's going to be a hard sell to retain him after this year's performance.

[After the JUMP: AD hiring stuff, prez stuff.]

ESPN Report: Braxton Miller Out For Season (UPDATE: OSU Confirms)

ESPN Report: Braxton Miller Out For Season (UPDATE: OSU Confirms)

Submitted by Ace on August 19th, 2014 at 1:29 PM


[Fuller]

ESPN's Brett McMurphy is reporting that Ohio State's Braxton Miller, who multiple outlets confirmed reinjured his right (throwing) shoulder at practice yesterday afternoon, is out for the 2014 season.

NFL.com senior writer Gil Brandt said earlier today that OSU was "expecting" Miller to miss the season, and official word on the matter should come out later today. A Columbus television outlet confirms McMurphy's report, as well. Since last night, Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch—the first reporter to break news of the injury—filled in some details of how the injury occurred:

Neither a team spokesman nor coach Urban Meyer would confirm the news, but sources said that Miller, who had been considered a strong candidate for the Heisman Trophy, suffered the injury while throwing a routine pass. He was not hit, having been off-limits from contact since off-season shoulder surgery.

Miller underwent an MRI this morning, the details of which have yet to be released. There's still no official word from Ohio State.

Before anything else, let me express my deepest sympathies for Miller; he not only faces what appears to be a tough recovery—if he injured the shoulder without any contact, it's likely his injury suffered against Clemson in January never fully healed in the first place—but he's in a very tough spot regarding his pro future.

Miller could take a redshirt and come back in 2015, but there were already serious questions about whether he could be a quarterback at the NFL level; if his best chance to make it is at running back or wide receiver, he's lost a critical year of development and faces a difficult choice: come back to school and take another year of punishment as OSU's QB, or go pro despite coming off a season lost to injury. Here's hoping he fully recovers his past form; he's a truly spectacular player to watch, and college football will be worse off this year without him.

As for the on-field ramifications, Ohio State looks like they'll enter the season with a redshirt freshman starting in Miller's place:

If Miller misses time, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett currently leads redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones to be the next in at quarterback for Ohio State. Barrett redshirted in 2013 while recovering from a knee injury he suffered in his senior season of high school. Jones appeared in three games last season, completing 1/2 passes for 3 yards and rushing 17 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.

The Buckeyes must also replace RB Carlos Hyde, who rushed for over 1,500 yards in 2013, along with four starters on their offensive line. Their talent should allow them to contend for the Big Ten title anyway, especially if they can shore up their issues on defense under new co-DC Chris Ash, but this certainly hurts their chances at a national title run and likely makes Michigan State the frontrunner for the conference title.

UPDATE: Ohio State has released a statement confirming Miller will miss the 2014 season. Miller is on track to graduate in December; he plans to enroll in graduate school at OSU and return for the 2015 season.

Multiple Reports: Braxton Miller Injured, Season In Jeopardy

Multiple Reports: Braxton Miller Injured, Season In Jeopardy

Submitted by Ace on August 18th, 2014 at 10:03 PM


[Fuller]

Multiple outlets are reporting that Braxton Miller reinjured his shoulder in practice this evening, and it could cause him to miss the 2014 season. Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch first reported the news:

Ohio State senior quarterback Braxton Miller, considered by several polls to be among the preseason leaders to make a run at the Heisman Trophy, reinjured his right shoulder in practice this afternoon, sources told The Dispatch. The injury puts in jeopardy his playing status for the coming season.

An OSU spokesman would not confirm the news, and coach Urban Meyer could not be reached for comment.

Eleven Warriors reports that Miller left practice in a sling. Bucknuts claims a third source that says Miller was injured in today's practice. All are reporting that the injury is to Miller's right (throwing) shoulder, which he injured against Clemson in the Orange Bowl before undergoing surgery in February. Ohio State hasn't confirmed any of these reports thus far.

If Miller misses time, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett currently leads redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones to be the next in at quarterback for Ohio State. Barrett redshirted in 2013 while recovering from a knee injury he suffered in his senior season of high school. Jones appeared in three games last season, completing 1/2 passes for 3 yards and rushing 17 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.

This post will be updated when official word comes from Ohio State.

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Michael Citro

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Michael Citro

Submitted by Ace on August 18th, 2014 at 8:57 AM


The Buckeyes hope former 5-star Vonn Bell (#11), a sophomore, is an upgrade at safety.

While we're busy poring over every morsel of news coming out of Michigan's fall camp, the rest of the country is hard at work as well, and that includes our rivals in Columbus. To get a gauge on where Ohio State stands just a couple weeks away from their opener against Navy, I chatted with Eleven Warriors senior writer Michael Citro, who was kind enough to answer my questions about the Buckeye D-line hype, the team's biggest question marks, injury concerns, and more. (If you'd like to see 11W's season preview of Michigan, to which I made a few contributions, click here.)

First off, I have to ask—what the hell happened to the defense against Michigan?

Wait, what defense? Was defense played in that game?

Ohio State’s D had been leaky and suspect most of the season, and that only got worse after safety Christian Bryant’s injury at the end of the Wisconsin game. The front four (plus Ryan Shazier) was able to mask it for a while. The problems were systemic—bad communication aggravating an already passive zone concept. Against Michigan it was exacerbated by some poor tackling that we saw early in the season making an unwelcome return. If you let Devin Funchess jump over you, you're not form tackling. (You're welcome for me setting you up to run a gif or photo of it here.)


Thanks, Michael!

Along those lines (I assume), what changes do you expect to see on the defense now that Chris Ash is on the staff?

Ash, along with Meyer and Fickell, have instituted a more aggressive system with a philosophy of challenging every throw. You’ll see the cornerbacks pressing more as a result. Also, for no reason known to man, the cornerbacks and safeties met separately under the Everett Withers co-defensive coordinatorship. That has been changed and Kerry Coombs’ corners are meeting with Ash’s safeties and the entire defense is supposedly on the same page now. I’m optimistic, but we’ll see. I'm excited to see more Vonn Bell this year.

Do you think the defensive line will live up to the hype? There's obviously oodles of talent and pass-rushing ability, but they seemed to struggle a little against the run, something the advanced metrics indicate as well.

The defensive line should be very good, especially when Noah Spence returns from his suspension—and the players should stay fresher with the Larry Johnson Sr. plan of rotating more bodies into the game. The group is deep enough to handle a lot more rotating now and the players seem to be buying into the philosophy. Guys like Tyquan Lewis and Rashad Frazier (a Purdue transfer) are demanding playing time with their performances. Ohio State didn't handle broken play runs well in the latter stages of the season. I haven’t checked the metrics, but aside from Michigan State, it didn't seem like opposing tailbacks were that much of an issue. Nimble quarterbacks were much more of a problem and the linebackers were also pretty culpable there.

[Hit THE JUMP to learn about OSU's current injury situation, surprisingly shaky O-line outlook, which players they expect to break out this year, and more.]

Dangermen: The Best Players Michigan Will Play In 2014

Dangermen: The Best Players Michigan Will Play In 2014

Submitted by Ace on July 30th, 2014 at 2:55 PM


You certainly know the man on the left, but do you know who's making the play on the right?

A couple weeks ago, I took a look at the most dangerous position groups Michigan will face on the 2014 schedule. Today, it's time to take a look at the best players, and this time around I took a team-by-team approach. In order of their appearance on the schedule, here are the dangermen who will be the focus of Michigan's game-planning in each of their regular-season contests.

Appalachian State: QB Armanti Edwards.

He graduated four years ago, you say? On an NFL roster, even? Well... I don't care. It's still Armanti Edwards.

Notre Dame: OLB Jaylon Smith

Smith is one of those five-star recruits who immediately live up to the billing. He started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, finishing third on the team in tackles (67) and second in TFLs (6.5) while generally looking like the Irish's best linebacker despite being surrounded by players with a lot of experience. He'll have to be the linchpin of Notre Dame's defense this year as the team tries to replace starting inside linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calebrese, who weren't all that impressive to begin with, as well as defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. With a standard sophomore leap, Smith could be good enough that his development alone overcomes the considerable losses in Notre Dame's linebacker corps.

Miami (NTM): WR/RB Dawan Scott

There's admittedly a dearth of choices from a team that went 0-12 in 2013, but Scott was a bright spot on an otherwise dismal Miami offense. His 15 yard average on 28 receptions led the team by over three yards. Until this season, he was actually listed at running back, and his 231 yards on 37 carries last season was good for second on the team. He's also a dangerous return man when given the opportunity, though the RedHawks reduced his special teams contributions last year as his role in the offense expanded. Miami does everything they can to get the ball in his hands, and given what's around him, that's as good a plan as any.

"It's Dres Day!" (!!!)

Utah: WR Dres Anderson

Utah's quarterbacks struggled last year, but that didn't matter much when they threw it to Dres Anderson, who led all Pac-12 receivers with an astonishing 18.9 yards per catch in 2013. It certainly helps that he can take a zero-yard pass and turn it into a 54-yard touchdown. The California native brings some explosive West Coast shit, and woe be upon the opponent that forgets about him.

Minnesota: CB Eric Murray

I guess I must acknowledge that Seth made one of the better picks of Draftageddon when he grabbed Eric Murray in the 18th round. While stats for defensive backs are often misleading, this chart speaks volumes about Murray's ability to play on an island with the best of them:

Minnesota runs a ton of man coverage, and they can largely get away with it because Murray makes life far easier on the rest of the secondary. At 6'2", 200 pounds, he's got the size to match up with just about any receiver and hold up well against the run, too.

Rutgers: DT Darius Hamilton

Hamilton is the type of five-star who needed a little time to marinate before starting to reach his prodigious potential; after a very quiet freshman year in 2012, he broke through as a sophomore, leading the Scarlet Knights with 11.5 TFLs and chipping in 4.5 sacks from the interior. He's got an NFL future, and he pairs with sophomore linebacker Steve Longa to give Rutgers at least a little star power on their defense. There may be a lack of high quality players on the roster, but Hamilton would be a big-time contributor on any of the teams on this list.

Penn State: QB Christian Hackenberg

While there may be more proven, experienced stars on the Nittany Lions—OT Donovan Smith and LB Mike Hull come to mind—there's little question the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has the most talent of anybody on the Penn State roster. Hackenberg has all the tools to be a first-round NFL quarterback: size, arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence that belies his youth. The big question for this fall is how he'll deal with the loss of the outstanding Allen Robinson, who accounted for a massive 1432 of Hackenberg's 2955 passing yards last year. There may be a Henne-like step back for the sophomore signal-caller, at least numbers-wise, but with a great group of tight ends and that level of talent, he should be plenty impressive again this year.

Michigan State: S Kurtis Drummond

I'll let BiSB handle this one, since he would've inevitably chimed in anyway in the comments:

Along with Kurtis Drummond's 4 picks and 6 PBUs, he made 91 tackles from the free safety spot. That typically signals DOOM for a defense, so to put up those kinds of numbers in such a dominant defense is really impressive.

He doesn't just get to play center field, either; MSU's Cover 4 requires him to defend receivers in essentially single coverage all over the field, and he looks like a corner when he does so. He has great ball skills and can flip his hips and run with anyone in the league. That's him running stride-for-stride with Devin Smith.

Drummond is generally regarded as the top free safety prospect for the 2015 draft, which almost certainly will get him into the first round, perhaps even the top half. His play merits the hype.

Indiana: RB Tevin Coleman

I'm clearly getting lazy, because for the second time in a row, I'll let a big ol' blockquote do the explaining, this one from SBNation's Bill Connelly:

But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.

Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.

Short version: daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Indiana may miss Tre Roberson's running threat as a change-of-pace quarterback, but their running game is still in good shape with Coleman toting the rock.

Northwestern: RB Venric Mark

Yes, we (justifiably) made fun of Seth for making Mark the first running back off the board in Draftageddon, but when healthy he's one of the most versatile and explosive players in the conference. When he played 13 games in 2012, Mark rushed for 1366 yards on 6.0 YPC, chipped in 20 receptions out of the backfield, and took two punt returns to the house. He only managed 31 carries last year before a broken ankle cut his season short; if he's back to full strength, though, he'll be right behind Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah (and right with Coleman) in the conversation about who's the best back in the Big Ten.

Maryland: WR Stefon Diggs

Another star coming off a season-ending injury, Diggs was on the way to putting up some eye-popping numbers in 2013 before a broken leg ended his campaign after seven games. In that span, he caught 34 passes for 587 yards (17.2 YPC) while averaging nearly 6.5 yards on a handful of end-arounds and 23.4 yards on 12 kickoff returns. He's every bit the explosive playmaker he was billed to be as a highly touted recruit, and the solid depth and talent among Maryland's receivers makes it difficult for defenses to focus too much attention on him.

Ohio State: QB Braxton Miller

Well, yeah, it's hard to argue with the two-time reigning Big Ten MVP, even with all the stars along OSU's defensive line. Miller boasted a 24:7 TD-to-INT ratio, improved his completion percentage and passing yardage for the third straight season, and rushed for 1201 yards on 8.0 YPC when sacks are removed—and he even made strides in taking fewer sacks, too. While the loss of Carlos Hyde will hamper the Buckeye running game, they've got several talented replacements at running back, and the constant threat of Miller making something remarkable happen should keep Urban Meyer's offense quite dangerous indeed.

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41

Submitted by Ace on November 30th, 2013 at 4:24 PM

The lasting image of this game will be Devin Gardner, injured, spent, and devastated, flat on his back after his pass on the potential game-winning two-point conversion found Buckeye instead of Wolverine.

It's a shame, really, as Gardner gave one of great performances in the history of The Game today, leading a Michigan offensive explosion beyond anybody's wildest predictions. Gardner threw for 451 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for 34 yards and another score (above, Upchurch), and did all this despite clearly playing at less than 100%. The trio of running backs combined for 137 yards and another score on 24 carries; Al Borges, the offensive line, and the skill position players all had their best performances in over a month—603 total yards against the 13th-ranked defense in the country.

After Gardner lobbed a two-yard jump ball to Devin Funchess to make the score 42-41, Brady Hoke asked his seniors if they wanted to go for two and the win; Taylor Lewan said after the game that, to a man, the answer was yes. In a game that calls for cliché, they left it all on the field.


Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog

The Buckeyes did too, of course. The Michigan defense simply couldn't find a way to stop Braxton Miller (153 yards and three rushing TDs) and Carlos Hyde (226 yards and a score on 27 carries) on the ground; when OSU went to the air, they didn't hit often—Miller finished just 6/15 on the day—but when they did it went big, as Miller's six completions went for 133 yards and two more touchdowns. Missing safety Jarrod Wilson and weakside LB James Ross, not to mention focusing heavily on stopping the run, the defense repeatedly allowed big plays over the middle. By the time the Buckeyes got the ball with five minutes left and the game knotted at 35, the defense looked gassed and played like it, ceding a one-yard scoring plunge by Hyde to cap a six-play, 65-yard drive that featured exclusively runs.

Gardner was masterful in the two-minute drill, finding Funchess, then Drew Dileo twice, then Joe Reynolds, Justice Hayes, and Toussaint to move the Wolverines 82 yards before netting the final two and six points on the lob to Funchess. Michigan tried to free up a receiver on a rub route on the two-point conversion; the Buckeyes had it covered, though, and Gardner's hopeful throw landed in the arms of Tyvis Powell.

Michigan didn't just give Ohio State a fight—quite literally, in a couple instances (above, Fuller)—they played their part in an instant classic. Devin Gardner might've ended the game on his back; I'll remember all the times he got up before that, and what he did while he was standing, above all else.

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Johnny Ginter

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Johnny Ginter

Submitted by Ace on November 28th, 2013 at 2:33 PM


Carlos Hyde, human battering ram

First, on behalf of everyone here at MGoBlog, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving; this week is the perfect time to keep in mind all we have in life to be thankful for—and yes, I hope that goes outside of the spectrum of sports, for sanity's sake.

We've covered the X's and O's with Eleven Warriors' Ross Fulton; now it's time to cover the hate, and for that we welcome 11W's Johnny Ginter, a man whose passion for snark nearly equals his love of the Buckeyes. Johnny has been kind enough to answer a few questions about the state of the rivalry, his outlook for this weekend, and even a totally serious query about the OSU basketball team. If you'd like to hear my take on The Game, Johnny and his co-host Michael Citro had me on as the guest for this week's Eleven Dubcast, and you're encouraged to take a listen.

Before we proceed, remember that this is Hate Week, because Johnny certainly does; channel your outrage responsibly. Now, let the hate flow through you...

Because of our weekly Q&As for 11W, I know that you've had to sit through at least most of Michigan's season. First of all, I'm so sorry. This isn't a question. I just want to publicly apologize.

I really appreciate that, because I started this season as a 28 year old male in reasonably good health, and now I'm a diabetic 83 year old man in a coma from eating tainted paste.

With that out of the way, I'd like to hear an outsider's perspective on what's going on in Ann Arbor. What do you think the biggest issue has been to lead Michigan to this point?

The impending return of Sauron to Mordor? Truthfully I think part of the problem is that Michigan as an athletic department has a hard time negotiating college football in 2013. I think a lot of the decisions and choices that the Ohio State athletic department makes are kind of dumb and obvious from time to time, but it's undeniable that the Buckeyes have benefited from an aggressive self-marketing strategy. I don't see the same kind of things coming out of Michigan in terms of promotion that I see from Ohio State. [Ed-Ace: Johnny obviously isn't signed up to any U-M email lists.]

But really if I were to try and pin it down to just one thing, I think you guys are sometimes too patient, which is a nice way to say that you're cool with failure. Remember, Ohio State has a fanbase chomping at the bit to remove a defensive coordinator that has managed a side missing one of its best players, had a totally revamped defensive line at the beginning of the season, started the season with only four returning starters, and is still the 12 ranked defense in the country. That Michigan would even briefly allow the thought of keeping Al Borges to flutter through their minds is hilarious.

If you were running Michigan's program—and no, not intentionally running it into the ground—what would your next move be after this season ends?

Fire Al Borges immediately and bring in an offensive line specialist. Jim Bollman, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach is one of the most genuinely depressing sentences in the English language. His typical practice attire was white socks pulled up to his shins and a big goofy straw hat which reminded me of something someone would wear if they were trying to make a parody of an offensive line coach. It wasn't a great look, and his offensive lines typically underperformed or were just plain bad.

Enter Ed Warinner, and two years later Ohio State boasts possibly the best offensive line in the country (with much less heralded recruits). Michigan is still loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball, but that o-line is a gigantic domino that knocks everything over once it falls down. In a bad way, though.

As a Buckeye fan, what kind of balance would you like to see between Ohio State winning and Michigan being competitive? I imagine the joy of winning The Game has lost some of its luster over the past—oh lord—decade or so.

I was born in 1985, so my formative years were spent sitting angrily in front of the TV, arms crossed and teeth grinding as Michigan beat Cooper over and over and over. And the reason why I highly doubt any of you guys got sick of that is because John H. Cooper assembled some absolutely incredible teams that by all accounts should've won more than two goddamn games during his tenure.

So yes, I want Michigan to be good. I was at the 2006 game. It was an incredible celebration of football, of Woody and Bo, of everything that's fun about this rivalry. I was also at the 2004 game, which was just really, really funny. And ultimately, I want both of those things. I want the titanic matchups and underdog games where the underdog has a legitimate shot at winning, and I want Michigan to be good. The Game means less if one side (you) isn't holding up its end of the bargain on a consistent basis.

Which makes me angry. Which, ironically, makes the game mean more to me. So I have some feelings I need to sort through.

So... how's the basketball team looking this year? This is a completely serious question.

They're... okay? I mean, they're pretty much who we thought they were, minus LaQuinton Ross looking like butt. Defensively it's an excellent team with incredibly athletic guys like Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, Shannon Scott, and so on. I actually think the defensive rule changes favor Ohio State because Thad Matta is really adept at getting his teams to play at a high defensive level without fouling. Aaron Craft is still probably the best on the ball defender in the game right now, even with the new foul calling regime.

With that said, without Deshaun Thomas the Buckeyes are predictably struggling on offense. Thomas averaged close to 20 points per game last season, but the next leading scorer on the team was Aaron Craft (right, Upchurch), who was putting up half that. Right now nobody is putting up even 12 points a night for Ohio State, but they do have four guys in double digits per game.

And that's probably how it'll look for most of the season, but I'm cool with it. Thad Matta is really a brilliant player's coach who has never won fewer than 20 games through 13 seasons, and his teams usually struggle with some growing pains early before figuring things out in January or February. I expect that to be the same for '13-'14, and really my only hope is that Matta's back and leg stay manageable and he sticks around for a long, long time.

Okay, okay, I should probably ask for your prediction for this weekend's game. Are there any matchups out there that you see favoring Michigan, and how do you see the game playing out?

There aren't a lot of favorable matchups for Michigan, but if they can scheme to isolate Funchess on a linebacker like Perry or Grant or even a d-lineman dropping back in coverage, that could yield some positive results offensively. That might open up some things for Gardner to get some yards on the ground because there's no way in hell the Ohio State defensive line is giving up anything to Toussaint or Green.

But even if Michigan does manage to capitalize on some mistakes and score some points, you're going to need to score more than 35 to beat Ohio State, because they're going to put up at least that much. And please, don't tell me about Frank Clark and Jake Ryan. Mark Weisman averaged 5.2 yards per carry against you, and Carlos "El Guapo" Hyde is much, much better than Weisman. If Urban Meyer is so inclined he could just pound away with the dude a la 2007 and be done with it.

He won't though. Instead you're probably going to see a lot of the Pistol with Dontre Wilson and Hyde in the same backfield, with some goofy stuff involving the tight ends that you haven't seen all year thrown in. I firmly believe that Meyer has been holding back quite a bit offensively just for this game, and I'm really, really excited to see what he pulls out of his hat.

This will probably be a three quarter game, but as the three and outs start to pile up and as Ohio State begins to get longer and longer touchdown plays, the game will be put increasingly out of reach for the Wolverines.


Please?

Is there any part of you that's worried about a 1995-type scenario this weekend?

I'm writing this on Wednesday morning, so no. By Friday night I'll be at Defcon 1, so by then probably yes.

I still firmly believe that Ohio State is going to win, because they're better coached and have the better team. That should be enough for me to rest easy. But it's The Game, baby. Rest and rationality are for the weak.

Thank you to Johnny for not only taking the time to answer these questions, but providing me an enjoyable (seriously) forum each week to dicuss Michigan and interact with the good people at Eleven Warriors—well, at least the ones who don't insist on exclusively using the term 'scUM'.

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Ross Fulton

Vicious Electronic Questioning: 11W's Ross Fulton

Submitted by Ace on November 27th, 2013 at 2:29 PM

I hope you're all familiar with Ross Fulton of Eleven Warriors, who does an excellent job of breaking down the X's and O's for Ohio State and their opponents week in and week out. Ross was kind enough to answer a few scheme-centric questions about The Game, and he did so in more detail than I could've possibly asked for—his take on Michigan's offense alone is well worth your time.

Michigan's defense was surprisingly successful against OSU last year, give or take some pounding runs by Carlos Hyde and the bomb to Devin Smith. How do you see the Buckeyes attacking Michigan on Saturday, and do you expect to see any new wrinkles in the offense that we didn't see last year?

First, thanks for the opportunity to collaborate with MGoBlog, a site I have long read and enjoyed.

As to your question, Ohio State was able to gain yards against Michigan last season (the Buckeyes had nearly 400) but Michigan did a really nice job holding the Buckeyes to field goals in the red zone.

The new “wrinkles” you will see Saturday are the primary difference between the Ohio State offense of 2012 and 2013. Last season Braxton Miller was inconsistent as a passer and a decision maker on read/packaged games. As a result, the offense would devolve at times to the Miller and Carlos Hyde run show, even when defenses were cheating slot defenders or safeties against the run.

Fast forward to this year. Miller and Hyde are still Urban Meyer and Tom Herman’s primary weapons. But Ohio State is far more effective at constraining the defense with the screen and pass game. This reflects Miller’s development, as well as the improvement in the wide receiver corps, led by Corey Brown.

Meyer and Herman’s preferred method of operating is coming out in the First Quarter and hitting the edge with screens and packaged hitches to Devin Smith (above), and then taking downfield shots off play action. For instance, one play I expect to see Saturday (and one that will probably get under Michigan fans’ craw) is a deep crossing route off inverted veer. It is very difficult for the play side safety to stay home when they see a pulling guard and the possibility of Miller or Hyde running the football. Also look for Ohio State to use Dontre Wilson as a decoy in the flat to open vertical routes.

Then, once they establish a lead Meyer and Herman like to return to the base run game. Assuming the weather cooperates, I would expect some variation of that formula Saturday.

Are there any personnel matchups when OSU is on offense that particularly delight/concern you?

To me, there is one schematic and one personnel matchup that will be interesting to watch. The first is between Meyer and Greg Mattison in the wide side flat. Against spread teams, Mattison generally walks his Sam linebacker out to the field and plays him in the gray area inside the slot receiver.

Meyer and Herman love attacking the wide side field when a team does this. They will do so not only with wide receiver screens, but also the outside run game. For instance, one method they use is to run jet sweep away from the play side blocking. Miller will read that backside linebacker and if he bites down, Miller gives on the jet sweep. The Buckeyes’ slot receiver simply has to seal the linebacker inside and the Buckeyes can get easy yards, either with Hyde or Wilson.

As a result, playing that role is a lot to ask of any defender, but I was very impressed with how Jake Ryan handled it last fall. But this is a chess match I will be watching.

In terms of personnel, I think that Ohio State has an advantage inside against Michigan’s undersized interior. The strongest part of the Buckeyes as a team is their offensive line. Look for Ohio State to run inside zone and power at the 3-technique bubble.

[Hit THE JUMP to read how Ross thinks OSU will attack Michigan defensively, his thoughts on what plagues the Michigan offense, and his prediction for The Game.]

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State

Submitted by Ace on November 21st, 2012 at 2:13 PM


Keep better contain than this, plz

In Columbus, Michigan faces their toughest test since the season opener against Alabama. An undefeated Ohio State squad awaits—can Michigan spoil their hopes for the Big Ten title BCS championship AP national title? After watching the Buckeyes struggle to put up points on Wisconsin, ultimately winning 21-14 in overtime, I think they've got a good shot. Let's go to the breakdown:

OFFENSE

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread, of course. Urban Meyer's run-heavy offense operates pretty much exclusively from the shotgun.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? OSU's rush offense is mostly zone-predicated though they'll throw in some gap blocking wrinkles, including one I'll cover in the play breakdown.

Hurry it up or grind it out? The Buckeyes rarely huddle, though they don't quite run Oregon pace either; you'll see the offense get to the line and then look over to the sideline for a playcall, much like Michigan did under Rich Rodriguez.

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): I probably don't need to tell you about Braxton Miller, who leads the Buckeyes with 1214 rushing yards on 207 carries and is second to Carlos Hyde (15) with 13 rushing TDs. While he doesn't have the straight-ahead speed of Denard or Taylor Martinez, he's got more power than either of those two and shows impressive vision. He gets a 9, with a bullet.

Dangerman: Yeah, it's Miller. The offense is based around the threat of his legs, especially on the edge, which opens up room both for the running backs on the interior and the downfield passing game.

Zook Factor: Urban Meyer didn't make any egregiously bad decisions in this game, so I'll note that Bret Bielema punted from the Ohio State 30-yard line(!!!) in the first half instead of kicking a 47-yard field goal or throwing on 4th-and-12. The punt, of course, went for a touchback, netting a whopping ten yards.

HenneChart: I'm making the tweak that Brian is strongly considering for next season and counting scrambles as a positive when calculating Downfield Success Rate; with Braxton Miller, it's certainly appropriate. Even with that adjustment, Miller did not have a great performance against Wisconsin:

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR DSR
Wisconsin -- 7 (2) 2 2 3 2 1 4 3 45%

A quick sanity check against Miller's final numbers: 10/18, 97 yards. With a couple throws by Miller that easily could've been intercepted, that sounds about right. Most of his throws came either off play-action or on designed rollouts, and most of the routes were of the short or intermediate variety. There were a couple attempted deep shots—again, off play-action—but nothing that connected.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]