Unverified Voracity Should Run The Option

Unverified Voracity Should Run The Option Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2016 at 12:26 PM


[Eric Upchurch]

The best quote. ESPN was offered full and frank access to a Wisconsin DBs meeting before the Ohio State game. This was kind of a questionable decision since ESPN published some takes on OSU's personnel that would seem to have a negative impact on Wisconsin's ability to use said takes. For example, Jim Leonhard's take on Curtis Samuel would seem ripe for Samuel to break tendency:

"You watch him, the thing that he gets guys on is if he kind of goes lazy in a route, don't believe it," Leonhard said. "He'll stem you. He's going to break hard as hell. Everything he's going to do, he's going to be patient at the top of routes. But if he starts just kind of bending into something, he's going opposite. Don't fall for the trap."

I almost always think coach secrecy is absurd paranoia but I was shocked Wisconsin let this get published, especially before the game even happened.

Anyway, at the end of the piece there is a quote directly relevant to your interests:

"You just have to communicate, which you've done a really good job of," he said. "Is that nearly as hard as Michigan last week? Michigan was something new every single snap. These guys are almost the complete opposite. You'll watch the game and be like, 'Damn, they did exactly what we saw.' We'll just have to see early recognizing the formations that they're going to be in, then we'll motion."

I can't tell you how many times during the Carr era that we'd be on the other end of that quote, with teams playing Michigan and then stating that M did exactly what they saw on film and nothing else. I love the alternative.

Meanwhile the other side of the ball just got the same makeover. I love that Michigan went out and got Defensive Jim Harbaugh in Don Brown. Michigan's gone from a very simple defense under Durkin to a blizzard of different looks. Craig Ross mentioned on WTKA that a Power 5 offensive coordinator told him that he spent most of BC week just trying to figure out what the hell Brown was doing.

Michigan is now an incredibly difficult opponent to prepare for on either side of the ball.


Brock Spack's best attribute is his mustache. This is a compliment.

Exit Darrell Hazell. Purdue pulled the trigger on their head coach after nine wins in 3.5 years, and is now on the Lowered Expectations dating scene. Everyone's got a list. Hammer and Rails has one, and here's a sad commentary on where they're at:

Name: Brady Hoke

Position: Oregon DC

Why?: Ya, Oregon isn’t very good right now. Hoke was up and down at Michigan. But, he has head coaching experience and is looking for another head coaching job. Getting back into the B1G isn’t easy, but this could be a chance for him as he could take over a Purdue program in shambles.

Chance: With how Oregon has looked this season, I don’t think we take a chance on him. But his head coaching experience in the B1G makes him appealing a little bit.

At least they're unenthused.

The candidates drawing the most mention seem to be WMU's PJ Fleck, former LSU HC Les Miles, and Illinois State HC Brock Spack. Fleck's probably going to get better offers this offseason and should wait on a less difficult opportunity; Miles is probably a real bad idea since by the time he'd have his players in he'd be close to retirement; Spack hasn't lit it up on the FCS level.

If those aren't the names, Purdue might repeat their Hazell move:

Hazell had been a head coach at Kent State for two years, but he was close to a "close your eyes and throw a dart at the OSU assistant roster" move. It would be uninspiring and very Purdue to replicate their failed process from last time.

Bill Connelly points out that Purdue's only successful coaching hires in the past 30 years have been relative outsiders, and he suggests a selection of creative offensive minds at smaller schools. He's correct. This is the pool Purdue should be selecting from. They need something weird to overcome their talent deficiencies, and they have the financial resources to grab a guy from Tulane or Air Force or wherever.

Personally, I would loathe playing a triple option version of Purdue—never schedule Air Force!—and co-sign this tweet from Jane Coaston:

Ken Niumatalolo may not be poachable after he turned down overtures from BYU last year, but if the problem there was BYU's reluctance to go flexbone Purdue might not have a shot. Connelly mentions Air Force's Troy Calhoun, who's won eight games a year two-thirds of the time at a service academy and gave Michigan all it wanted a few years back, and he seems like a good idea. Willie Fritz ran a deeply weird pistol triple option thing at Georgia State; I mentioned him offhandedly during the portion of Michigan's most recent coaching search where I threw out every candidate who was even vaguely plausible. He'd be a good idea.

In non-option options: Jeff Brohm at WKU has assembled Tiller-esque explosive offenses. I'd at least kick the tires on Chris Klieman, the third-year NDSU head coach who's kept Craig Bohl's train running without a hiccup.

For your sake, Purdue, don't close your eyes and grab a manball retread or an assistant who's operated with an embarrassment of riches. Look to someone scrabbling up from down below.

SLEEPER THOUGH. Charlie Strong.

Michigan assistants? Drevno and Fisch draw mention from Feldman in the Others Receiving Votes section of his list. While I think both guys are good coaches and will be HCs somewhere down the road, neither seems like a good fit for perpetually undermanned Purdue, and both guys can find themselves jobs less likely to end in termination. If Purdue's smart they won't focus on either guy; if either guy is smart they'd wait for something like Maryland or Cincinnati.

Another Endzone excerpt. The Postgame runs a piece from Bacon on Harbaugh's long-term prospects in Ann Arbor:

As one of Harbaugh's closest associates, attorney John Denniston, told me, "Jim doesn't like to recruit. He loves to recruit." If that sounds like hyperbole, you might consider the 22-state, 38-stop satellite tour, which Harbaugh described as "more fun than you can possibly imagine, like a pig in slop."

The only issue on that list that would seem to present a compelling reason for Harbaugh to leave is the health of Michigan's athletic department. When people on the book tour asked me to predict how long Harbaugh would coach Michigan, my answer was simple: It depends on his relationship with the next athletic director.

Quinn on Rahk. MAAR's development is probably the second-biggest key for Michigan this year behind that of Mo Wagner:

"For two years now, I've seen a great evolution in his game," Beilein said. "I want to see much more. He's capable of being a superior athlete."

A few things need to happen.

Abdur-Rahkman's jump shooting needs to improve. He raised his 3-point percentage from 29.3 percent (12-41) to a respectable 36.5 percent (31-85) from his freshman to sophomore year, but another jump could elevate Abdur-Rahkman among the best guards in the Big Ten.

His playmaking also needs to improve. Despite playing in 21 more games than LeVert last year, Abdur-Rahkman finished with 13 fewer assists for the season. His 3.7 assists per 100 possessions ranked below Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman. While his 27 turnovers in 1,001 minutes played were impressively meager, they also speak to a lack of facilitating for others.

Ian Boyd on OSU. This piece went up before the Wisconsin game and looks fairly prescient right now. It's SBN's Ian Boyd on certain flaws that OSU has demonstrated so far this year:

So if the Buckeye run game were stopped or slowed?

An opponent that knew how to line up against Urban Meyer’s arsenal of formations and variations on option run schemes would undoubtedly have a chance to force this particular team into some obvious passing situations.

The Buckeyes have had 40 TD drives so far this season and 14 of them (35%) required 10 plays or more. They’re very used to having to grind their way down the field with the run game and if you stopped up the works they’d be forced to rely more on their passing game.

Venturing back up to our handy chart, we notice that against the three toughest opponents on Ohio State’s schedule that Barrett threw 63 passes for 394 yards at 6.3 yards per attempt with five TDs and a sole INT. He’s been good at avoiding turnovers, though that may be partly due to simply not throwing many passes in the first place, but simply hasn’t been that threatening throwing the ball. If not for the four touchdown passes he threw to big Noah Brown in the red zone against Oklahoma, those numbers wouldn’t be too impressive either.

Barrett had a good second half against Wisconsin and managed to get OSU to 23 points in regulation. It was a struggle the whole way, though. Michigan's defense is another level up from Wisconsin's; that game gave me great hope that Michigan can turn the Game into a defensive slugfest.

Illinois week. The Illini probably won't be much of a challenge—they got outgained by Rutgers last week and Michigan is a whopping 35-point favorite. But it is an opportunity to point out Illini Board, which is a good Illinois blog/community. Their take on Rutgers:

Because this is just year one. The idea is 2019, with Michigan in Champaign, with the roster rebuilt, and that defense taking the ball away from the Wolverines and stopping them on fourth and one. I flipped the switch to rebuild mode last week, so watching this game in rebuild mode, it was great to see those plays from Milan and Watson. Bodes well for the future.

Remember the Minnesota game in 2008 when we outgained them something like 550-310 yet we lost because we kept turning the football over? That was a few months before I started the blog, but if I was blogging that fall, that game would have been my first “Turnovers Are Football” post. So many times, being on the wrong end of turnovers cost us.

And today, being on the right end delivered a win.

Lovie Smith is the most credible head coach they've had in a while, but it's going to take a long time to get out from underneath the Beckman denouement.

We've been there. Georgia lost to Vandy and their irritating athletic director hasn't crossed the line to get axed, so Get The Picture is feeling pretty gloomy:

It dawned on me leaving the stadium Saturday that one thing is really missing from Georgia football — it’s not fun to watch.  By that, I don’t mean losing sucks.  It does, of course.

What I mean is that watching a Georgia game feels like more of a chore these days than entertainment.

Man, did I write a column or two like that a few years back. It must be frustrating to be UGA and always be good but seemingly never be great—oh right, we know what that's like too. Throw in the fact that Ann Arbor and Athens are almost the same city and the UGA and Michigan fan bases are the most golf-apparel-friendly ones in the country and the parallels go deep between the two schools.

Anyway, this season is super fun and let's be sure to savor it.

Desmond Morgan gets into coaching. He's a GA at Wayne State:

Q: What are some of your responsibilities at Wayne State as a graduate assistant?

Morgan: One thing that’s been really interesting is that playing at Michigan, I was really used to the Division I level, where there’s resources and funding. There’s almost a paid position for everything.

At the Division II level, the resources are very limited. The money isn’t there. Something that I learned quick is that you’re not just a GA who helps an assistant. You do a bunch of other things on top of it.

Here, I spend 8 to 10 hours a week making sure highlight films are done on Friday nights, and we do all of the importing, editing and transcribing of the film. We help coaches with their daily responsibilities, like making copies, making sure meetings are set up to be run.

Juan Harris is single again again again again. The enormous IA DT decommitted from Indiana after three separate Iowa commitments. I can't wait to see where this rollercoaster goes. Hopefully back to Indiana twice more.

Etc.: The Big 12 probably isn't expanding because the TV networks will pay them not to. This might seem like a fiasco but could it actually be a bit of Machiavellian brilliance? What went wrong under Hazell other than everything. Nigel Hayes visited Gameday to protest not getting paid. Fred Jackson is the head coach at Ypsi High now. Indiana's struggles in the redzone dissected. The playoff looks all but set, so of course things will implode over the next month.

Brian Kelly Blames Things Dot Com. Recommend Go Iowa Awesome's weekly "Hybrid" column. Harbaugh eats a steak.


Unverified Voracity Embraces Expectations

Unverified Voracity Embraces Expectations Comment Count

Brian January 12th, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Not bad for year one. Michigan finishes tenth in Matt Hinton's final rankings.


But for an all-time fluke you can swap M and MSU. Jim Harbaugh can coach a bit.

Embrace expectations in year two. Michigan will not start next year outside the polls. It may start it inside the top five, if post-season top X lists are any indicator:

With a pile of starters returning and Jim freakin' Harbaugh as Michigan's coach, this is not a huge surprise. Michigan demolished Florida in the bowl game and that kind of thing tends to get you a big perception bump headed into next season. Half the time that's a mirage; Michigan will hope that theirs is legit.

The number one gentleman who needs to come through for Michigan to deliver. That would be one John O'Korn, likely starting quarterback. For months I've mentioned a steady drumbeat of chatter from inside the program that O'Korn was the best QB on the roster. Here's another manifestation of that from Ron Bellamy:

He said from his discussions with the Michigan coaches and the people in the program, John O'Korn "just lit up" the first team defense as the scout team QB everyday in practice. He said he was doing it against Lewis, Peppers, etc and the Michigan defensive coaches told him that O'Korn was going to be a flat out stud.

I'll try to stay calm and reasonable about these reports for the next eight months. And fail.

Let's go wherever, whenever. Harbaugh wants to have a week of spring practice in Florida. Specifically, at IMG, which has started a football program that attracts top recruits from around the country. A solid idea that will infuriate many: welcome to the offseason.

(Harbaugh wants to do it over spring break, naturally, to assuage any academics concerns you might have.)

I might watch it on mute just to see. Harbaugh is going to the state of the union thanks to a couple of congresspersons:

"For me he's the best of what the country should be and is," Dingell told MLive Monday night, pointing to his track record of hard work and teamwork.

Dingell, a Democrat, represents the 12th Congressional District, which includes the University of Michigan. She and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Republican from West Michigan, together agreed to bring Harbaugh and his wife Sarah as guests to the State of the Union on Tuesday.

Each congressperson can invite one guest, so Amash invited Harbaugh and Dingell invited Sarah Harbaugh. Dingell said Amash's office approached hers about hosting the Harbaughs, and she'd have invited him in the first place if she knew he was interested.

Well done… people… in congress?

Seriously, do I have to watch the State of the Union now? I mean, any of these things could happen:

  • President shouts out Michigan's football coach
  • Harbaugh is invited to give speech
  • Harbaugh is not invited to give speech, gives speech anyway
  • Harbaugh wears cleats
  • Harbaugh nails Joe Biden on a post route
  • Harbaugh signs Declaration of Independence, is told that is unnecessary these days, says he has improved document all the same
  • camera cuts to Harbaugh gobbling stadium foodstuffs not apparently on sale anywhere in the building

Gentry location. Zach Gentry could be a tight end. He could also be a quarterback. He did a little of the former in the bowl practices but he is not a tight end. Yet.

Gentry was one player who Harbaugh experimented with during bowl practices last month, moving the 6-foot-7, 230-pound true freshman from quarterback to tight end.

An athletic quarterback in high school, Gentry was asked by Harbaugh to give it a shot after the regular season ended. Gentry says he didn't hesitate.

"It was their (idea), but I've been flexible with it," Gentry said last week in Orlando. "Coach Harbaugh and (Jay Harbaugh) wanted to use my athleticism and see what happens. I've been doing it in practice, I think I've done a nice job with it.

"But I'm not sure, exactly, what's going on with my future (and what position I'll play)."

I imagine he'll compete in spring as a quarterback, because Michigan's got an open job. If he ends up clearly behind at least two other guys, tight end becomes a real long-term option. (As does a transfer, unfortunately.) If he's in the running, or even in the top three, you have let him stay at QB. The athleticism that makes him a good tight end prospect is something Harbaugh wants from his QBs—and last night Deshaun Watson made Alabama's defense look silly thanks in large part to his legs.

Rats, what is your opinion of this ship? Penn State lost DC John Shoop to Tennessee. Related: John Shoop ain't got no shame.

Less than two weeks after Bob Shoop told reporters he hoped Penn State would have him "forever and ever and ever," the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator is leaving the program for the same position at Tennessee.

PSU nearly lost him last year to LSU, whereupon Shoop was given a three-year, near-seven-figure deal. This year Tennessee offers 1.15 million and he's gone. All this further confirms that we should just pay the f-ing players before people in college football start literally drowning in money.

Anyway, the bleeding was and is not over: a few days later Penn State loses OL coach Herb Hand to the same position at Auburn. Today linebacker Troy Reeder announced he's transferring to Delaware after starting 11 games as a redshirt freshman. (Geno Lewis also grad-transferred to Oklahoma but that looks like a garden-variety playing time transfer.)

This all seems less than ideal for James Franklin, who has escaped serious scrutiny so far as Penn State digs out from under NCAA sanctions. Hand was dealt a… nevermind. Hand was put in an enormously difficult spot by those sanctions, which forced him to start two converted defensive linemen at guard. Then he lost the one good lineman he had to the draft last year; getting out makes sense for him.

I just wonder how hot seats get if Penn State's offense struggles again next year and their defense takes a half-step back without most of that defensive line. I'm guessing pretty hot.

Meanwhile in Big Ten teams losing defensive coordinators to SEC teams. Wisconsin's Dave Aranda headed down to LSU, causing Barry Alvarez to grouse about funding.

“The reason they can go up higher (in the SEC) is they’re not supporting as many sports,” Alvarez said. “It’s a difference in philosophy. The Big Ten is known for being more broad-based in its sports offerings. We are committed to supporting a broad-based athletic program. People may dismiss that, but it’s a real thing. They can sink more of their money into football."

At Get The Picture, a commenter points out the differences between Wisconsin and Georgia aren't significant:

What they have that we don’t: 3 rowing teams, wrestling, 2 hockey teams and men’s soccer.

What we have they they don’t (w/o looking to confirm): baseball, equestrian and gymnastics.

LSU is similar. They sponsor gymnastics, beach volleyball, and baseball; Wisconsin does not. Wisconsin sponsors hockey for both genders, wrestling, men's soccer, and rowing. Men's hockey makes money. Wisconsin's added expense for extra teams is more or less rowing—which mostly exists to be a cheap Title IX makeweight. Alvarez is full of it.

At least he's not alone?

…look at where some of the many other Big Ten coordinator hires came from this offseason: Louisiana-Lafayette (Minnesota, offense), Fordham (Penn State, offense), internally (Purdue and Illinois, offense), Northern Illinois (Rutgers, defense), Arkansas State (Maryland, offense) and even a coach who was out of football for a year (Purdue, defense). Maybe those moves will work out brilliantly, but they hardly bring the sizzle that Tennessee and LSU acquired.

On the other hand, Mike Debord.

Meanwhile in literally drowning in money. Hoo boy this makes me furious:


Jim Delany wrecked the Big Ten by adding two makeweight east coast programs that make no sense, destroyed the basketball schedule, made it so Michigan plays half the league once in a decade, and gets rewarded for it because some dillweed in the league office figured out a way to exploit the dying cable monopoly for short-term gain. I mean, I guess that's how things go in a business, but then they turn around and try to justify amateurism.

Meanwhile, the bubble creaks ominously:

Old Dominion and the other 13 Conference USA schools will have to make do with about $500,000 less in television revenue next season.

League TV revenue is likely to fall by about half when new contracts with Fox Sports and the CBS Sports Network take effect on July 1, according to sources at three schools familiar with C-USA’s TV contract negotiations.

The Big Ten is up in a few years. They've got a lot more pull than CUSA, but this might not be the best time for a contract negotiation.

In other news, I now have massive respect for Dane Brugler. CBS analyst Dane Brugler tells Michael Spath that Jake Butt had a shot to be the top tight end in the draft and a second round pick if he came out and picks out—yep—DESMOND MORGAN as Michigan's top eligible player:

:…he was all over the field,” Brugler said. “He was a blitzer, a guy that could play in the middle but play in space. He has lateral range, played sideline to sideline, quick reactions, strings runs out to the perimeter.

“Morgan is a physical player, aggressive but also at the same time, smart. I think he has the best shot to go a bit higher than his teammates. As long as the medicals check out.”

Thank you, Dane Brugler. You and I can ride on the Desmond Morgan bandwagon all the way to the, er, fifth round. Saddle up.

Etc.: Nebraska loses DT Vincent Valentine to the draft. Rahk playing well. Jake Rudock in repose. Bryan Mone is ready to go. NYE was a massive bust for the CFP.

Don Brown defensive resources I haven't had the time to look at yet but will revisit when I do. Ditto Ian Boyd on running your slot receiver down the gut of the MSU defense or Smart Football touching on the same topic.


Neck Sharpies: Not Getting Even

Neck Sharpies: Not Getting Even Comment Count

Seth December 2nd, 2015 at 10:11 AM


This would not go over well.

After the injury to Ryan Glasgow Michigan has struggled to stop zone running. Indiana and Penn State tore the defense to shreds on stretch or outside zone, until Penn State decided the thing that got them two huge gains in three attempts wasn't worth using again (please keep James Franklin forever kthx). I drew that up last week and found Michigan was still trying to defend runs by shooting the DL upfield and dominating one-on-one matchups up front, as opposed to soundly preventing guards from releasing onto the linebackers.

With Urban Meyer, one of a few true masters of modern running attacks, doing the planning for the Game, we knew Michigan's defensive coaches would have to pull something out of our butts to stop it. Here's what we found in our butts:

Michigan broke out a 3-3-5 defense with an "even" front. Offensive coaches have different names for fronts but the basics are:

  • Under: NT on the center, shaded to strong. DT on a guard. (aka Weak, 50)
  • Over: NT on the center, shaded to weak. DT on a guard. (aka Strong)
  • Even: DL are lined up over guards, none over the center. (aka Split)
  • Okie: Center is covered, guards are not. (aka 30)
  • Bear: Center and guards all covered. (aka 46, Eagle, Double Eagle)

These can be split into "Odd" (under/over) and "Even" (Even, Okie, Bear). It is usual for just about any defense to come out in multiple fronts over the course of a game, though Bear and Okie are more rare than the other three.


Anyway that's what that means. By putting guys over the guards it makes it tougher for them to release to the next level. Michigan State used to love their even fronts back when Bullough was their best run defender, and that tells you something about the design of this defense. Tweaking your defense is about making life hard on your better players so things are easier for the rest of your players. "Even" makes life hard on the MLB, since that center is getting a free release unto him.

There's nothing 100% unsound about this defense. Depending on the offense's play, one LB is likely to get a center on him but the other is often a free hitter. If your LB eating the block is good at beating those consistently, or your free hitter is a ninja who sniffs out the play and attacks ferociously, or your unblocked guy is coached to play aggressively against an option you can defeat a basic run play regularly.

[After the JUMP, we totally can't]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2015 at 11:38 AM

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumb_th[3]Upon Further Review has a sponsor.

Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Thanksgiving? I'm trying not to accidentally have a war on Christmas here. Whichever Thanksgiving greeting you feel is appropriate appears in this space along with a reminder that Matt's good at making mortgages happen and a solid all-around dude, so if you're in the market you could do a lot worse.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.


[Eric Upchurch]

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.

Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.

Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.

[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]


Mailbag: Of The Half-Decade, Demonic Button, Clock Malfeasance, Staff Composition

Mailbag: Of The Half-Decade, Demonic Button, Clock Malfeasance, Staff Composition Comment Count

Brian November 17th, 2015 at 12:29 PM


[Bryan Fuller]

Of The Decade update

Hi Brian,

Back in 2010, you gave us your "of the decade" team.  If five years later, you had to make another one (with this year crucially being the last year to include players from the 2006 team), who would you put on it?   And how many players from this year's squad would be included?



The Of The Decade team from 2010 versus a hypothetical 2006-2015 team:

2001-2010 POSITION 2006-2015
John Navarre '03 QB Denard Robinson '10
Chris Perry '03 RB Mike Hart '06
Kevin Dudley '04 FB Joe Kerridge '14
Braylon Edwards, whenever WR Devin Funchess '13
Mario Manningham '07 WR Manningham
Steve Breaston '06 WR Breaston
Bennie Joppru '02 TE Jake Butt '15
Jake Long '07 OT Long
Steve Hutchinson '00 OG Steve Schilling '10
David Baas '04 C David Molk '11
Jon Goodwin '01 OG Michael Schofield '12
Jeff Backus '00 OT Taylor Lewan '11
Brandon Graham '09 DE Graham
Lamarr Woodley '06 DE Woodley
Alan Branch '06 DT Branch
Gabe Watson '05 DT Mike Martin '11
David Harris '06 LB Harris
Larry Foote '01 LB Jake Ryan '12
Victor Hobson '02 LB Desmond Morgan '15
Marlin Jackson '02 CB Jourdan Lewis '15
Leon Hall '06 CB Hall
Jamar Adams '07 S Jabrill Peppers '15
Julius Curry '00 S Jordan Kovacs '12
Garrett Rivas '06 K Rivas
Zoltan Mesko '09 P Mesko

I've got four guys on there from this year's team, three of whom I assume are pretty obvious. Without a true nickel spot on the Of The Decade team Peppers is a bit of an awkward fit, but I mean cumong man. If I expanded the team to have a nickel, which I will definitely do in the future, he'd be it and Jarrod Wilson would slide into his spot. So 5-ish.

Desmond Morgan, you ask? The pickings are not great at linebacker over the past decade. The only eligible guy from the backups on the '10 team is Shawn Crable, and while Crable was a freelance sower of havoc he's competing with Jake Ryan, not Morgan. Morgan is one of the most sneaky-good players in the recent history of the program (and I'm through most of the first half against Indiana and he is doing really well in tough situations).

This year's team would have even more spots if that defensive line wasn't rough to get on. That's four guys with long NFL careers and dominant senior years.

Hey Brian,

Beyond the interpretation problems, have you given any thought to the enforcement process for targeting calls?

Not exactly an analogous comparison, but a thought - treat targeting calls more as a yellow card than a red card. More to the point, don't throw guys out in the moment on these judgment calls - refer questionable hits to the referees' office, let them have a look at it during the week, and decide if a future suspension is warranted, The NFL reviews plays for fines all the time so I don't see how this is much different. You'd think time and centralization make the enforcement more thoughtful and consistent, and thereby allow coaches to better correct their players.

Inherent in this solution is separating targeting from a personal foul, so you can still throw a flag for 15 yards on outlawed hits without necessarily an ejection. You still get some bad PF calls/no calls, but we've always lived with those - egregious ejections not so much. If you wanted there could be an accumulation component, which is also like yellow cards, so if you have a guy dishing out repeated borderline hits it's an automatic suspension at some point. Seems to strike a much better balance and still emphasize safety.

Anyway, sorry this is long. Curious if you've had thoughts of your own on this.

-Mike in DC

If they do centralize the review process instead of delegating it to a varying selection of potential incompetents I think a lot of the inconsistencies go away. I don't think many of the targeting calls I've seen this year have been the kind of thing that you can't determine the legality of within a few minutes, and the immediate ejection does have the benefit of helping the team that suffered the hit.

I do like the yellow card idea, if implemented correctly. If something like the Bolden hit gets inexplicably upheld at least it can be adjudged a yellow card (or flagrant 1, take your pick) and he can stay in the game. In that case I would prefer that yellows don't clear for ten games or so.

But the real problem remains the utter inconsistency with which the rule is applied. A world in which the hit by Bolden is an ejection and the hit on Sypniewski against Rutgers is nothing is one in which we're just polishing turds. This targeting call was overturned:


Until that gets fixed the penalty is a worthless piece of security theater.

[After THE JUMP: pushing a hypothetical demonic button, finding Marques Slocum, clock malfeasance, staff composition]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian November 11th, 2015 at 2:55 PM

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumb_thUpon Further Review has a sponsor.

Matt says the Fed may raise rates pretty soon here, and a cursory googling confirms that some dude says there is a "very strong case" to do so. Lifehacker says this will make the "notoriously low rates" of recent years less notoriously low. If you're on the fence and hate pants, Matt can help. I need one more sentence to get past the logo.

He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: A few new things. I'm using "heavy" to denote lineups on which Michigan plays four true DL. Without Godin those are almost always both NTs with Henry and Wormley. This was 6-2 heavy:

6-2 heavy

For a period late in the first half Michigan ran a dime package on which the NT split out. This was a pass rush package without much pass rush and didn't return; I called it "3-2-6 dime split":

dime split

And Michigan has been running this one-high nickel package with eight guys in the box enough that I thought I should note it. This is "nickel even 8":

nickel even one high

It is frequent on passing downs that feature some run threat.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Injuries biting into the DL a bit now. Michigan was rotating Hurst and Glasgow until Glasgow went out, at which point Hurst had to go the rest of the way himself. I do think they bought him a little rest by inserting Henry at the nose. Wormley and Henry played most of the game as well; Godin got one snap shortly after Glasgow exited. He must be close, but not close enough.

RJS returned to buck. Ross spotted him in passing downs. I called those dime packages; YMMV. With Gedeon out Morgan and Bolden got all the ILB snaps.

Secondary saw a shift as Dymonte Thomas got significantly more time than he has before; I would say he displaced Delano Hill as the starter. Hill played a fair share as well, both in nickel and dime. Second corner rotation was as per usual with an edge to Clark in snaps. Brandon Watson saw maybe a half dozen snaps at nickelback as Michigan tried to save Peppers a bit.

[After THE JUMP: are you disappointed yeah kinda is that rational nah]


Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Sorry about the lateness of the UFRs this week. Finding all the video took forever.

HomeSure-Logo-NMLS-14_thumb_thumbUpon Further Review has a sponsor. We got a couple nice comments on the previous UFR in re: Matt.

I worked with Matt (aka HomeSure lending) and closed my refi last week. Everything went as planned and on schedule. He was easy to work with and there was good communication throughout. I've had other refi's that did not go as planned and caused wasted time for me or were chaotic. With Matt it went really well and I got a lower rate and now my monthly payment dropped and I'll pay it off in the same amount of years. …

Oh and one more thing. When I first called him, he talked me out of refinancing because he was honest and told me my current loan was better than what I was trying to do with him. Once the rates dropped he reconnected with me and that lead to the refi. He seemed really honest and truly trying to do what's right.

That guy has had an account since 2009 in case you're worried about astroturfing. He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent a lot of the game like this, with Ross at the buck (standing to the bottom of the DL) and Peppers and Hill flanked outside of the two ILBs.

nickel even 4-4

This was an especially weird game to play Ross as the buck since otherwise you would have expected him to play a lot as a third linebacker. I just called this "nickel even" since Ross was functioning as a DL.

This was "quads inner bunch"; Peppers is about to do something almost awesome.

quads inner bunch

All else per usual.

PERSONNEL NOTES: No Godin, who was injured, so the rotation on the DL was circumscribed. Hurst and Glasgow rotated at the nose with scattered snaps on which both played; Charlton got snaps here and there, but Wormley and Henry had a heavy workload.

Ross bizarrely got most of the snaps at buck instead of Jenkins-Stone; he did not do well. Morgan didn't come off the field; it was mostly Bolden at the other LB spot but Gedeon got a little time; there were a few 4 LB sets.

Secondary was mostly the usual, with Thomas the primary dime back this week. Clark got most of the second CB playing time.

[After THE JUMP: flukes and… not flukes]


This Is Minnesota

This Is Minnesota Comment Count

Brian November 2nd, 2015 at 12:29 PM

10/31/2015 – Michigan 29, Minnesota 26 – 6-2, 3-1 Big Ten


[Patrick Barron]

ONE. We've got a radio show now so I've been listening to sports talk radio even when Sam and Ira aren't on. I do it to compare and maybe get better and maybe draw confidence from the fact that a lot of sports talk radio is outrageously bad. The parts that aren't are often outrageously robotic. WTKA has a bunch of NFL stuff now that they switched to CBS, and it's on when I go to and from our podcast on Sunday; sometimes I catch it on a Thursday.

Tom Brady was on. Jim Gray actually asked him a lot of pointed questions about the upcoming game against the Colts and whether he had a desire to rain unholy fire upon those bastards. Brady responded with the passion of an accountant. I would chalk this up to Brady's flat affect, but I've seen player after player descend into this anodyne non-existence. This is a a league that spent most of the offseason discussing the Ideal Gas Law, after all—even if they didn't know they were doing so. It's just a thing. Colleges teach it but it doesn't take all the way. The NFL perfects it, along with the slant.

TWO. Minnesota has not been good for literally 50 years. Their blips to the positive aren't even Illinois blips. Every decade Illinois will show up in a BCS-level game; the Minnesota coach with the best winning percentage since 1944 is one Glen Mason, who the Gophers fired so they could hire Tim Brewster.

THREE. In 2005 I was pretty mad after a weird game where the Michigan Stadium scoreboards fritzed out and Jim Herrmann called a blitz on which Prescott Burgess, a 230-pound linebacker, was tasked with two-gapping a 270-pound monster TE. When I get mad I tend to be mad about everything, but when Lawrence Maroney rushed out to midfield and planted the biggest damn Minnesota flag in existence I was just like "yeah, go ahead, you earned that."

Sixty-plus Gopher players stormed across that field to reclaim the Jug without considering decorum, sanity, or sportsmanship. Michigan had just lost a game mostly because they called a blitz so telegraphed that a petrified backup QB could check them into a 50-yard run and I had enough non-hate in my heart to genuinely enjoy the fervor with which the Gophers reclaimed Fielding Yost's 30-cent chunk of crockery.

FOUR. Last year the Little Brown Jug went on a tour of the state of Minnesota.


This was a good idea.

FIVE. Jerry Kill retired last week because he could no longer control the seizures his cancer had bestowed upon him. Jerry Kill talks like a NASCAR driver. He comes by his coachspeak honestly, and when Tracy Claeys was again thrust into a role he probably never thought he'd be in—Kill tends to buy and hold assistants until the end of time—he sounded 100% like Jerry Kill.

It was awkward. It was stilted. It was genuine as hell. He told his kids not to play with emotion because emotion evaporates but to play with passion because passion sticks and I was just like YOU MAY BE SAYING THIS LIKE TOM BRADY SAYS THINGS BUT I KNOW THAT FEEL.

SIX. Junior Hemingway, just shouting and weeping after the Sugar Bowl.

SEVEN. Jerry Kill.

EIGHT. Michigan won a football game that often doubled as an exercise in hilarious improbability. Michigan gave up a 52-yard touchdown after Jeremy Clark executed the platonic ideal of coverage against a corner route. With 19 seconds left in a football game, Minnesota spent 17 seconds on a series of elaborate motions on first and goal from the half-yard line.

Football is weird and terrible and sometimes it gets you to within a half-yard of a cathartic, wonderful victory and then says "nah." Sometimes when you're 2-and-a-billion after always being good your walk-on QB dials up a bunch of incredible throws and you go grab the Little Brown Jug with a newfound respect for its importance. Football, above all, is cruel.

NINE. If you are a Minnesota fan on a bitter Monday indeed, here is the equivalent of Lawrence Maroney planting a flag. It is Jon Falk, the recently retired and legendary Michigan equipment manager, welcoming his favorite 30-cent crockery back home.


It hurts, but that means something. That is a thing that is real. It is a reflection of Jerry Kill killing himself to be in this game and dying because he has to leave it.

TEN. I've always hated THIS IS MICHIGAN a bit because it reminds me of going to Penn State in 2006 and having their chintzy-ass scoreboards proclaim WE'RE PENN STATE… AND THEY'RE NOT. It's not necessarily as bad, but sometimes it tends to AND THEY'RE NOT. I'm not a huge fan of Michigan's excellently-executed James Earl Jones intro video this year because it claims a bunch of things that should be gestured at instead.

Michigan's great. I love Michigan. I love it all, though. I've been to Georgia and Auburn and Penn State and Ohio State and Minnesota and the feeling of college football is something else. Minnesota hasn't done anything Colin Cowherd would note for 50 years. You could maybe compare them to the Lions, who no one should ever be a fan of.


Except no. Tell me that doesn't matter. Tell me This Is Minnesota doesn't mean anything. We took the Jug and we mostly earned it and that matters to me. It matters to Jabrill Peppers and Jon Falk and Jim Harbaugh and Greg Dooley. It matters because it's college fucking football, and Minnesota means something.

To Michigan, it means the Jug. They got it back on Saturday by the skin of their teeth, and for a program that's had a bit of a rough go of late they'll take it any way they can get it.


Column inspired by Dr. Sap digging up a post-game Bo speech after the 1987 Jug game:

A half hour version that must be most of the game from WD:

Parking God has a more reasonable length reel:





Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jabrill Peppers had a 40 yard KO return, a 40 yard punt return, two PBUs, a near pick-six, a rushing touchdown, a reverse set up by everyone fretting about Peppers, a pass interference call drawn—Peppers played nearly 100 snaps and was instrumental in all three phases of the game.

#2 Maurice Hurst didn't actually pop up in the box score much but he was frequently in Leidner's grill; on the final stand he blew up the pass protection on the first play and was one of a few different Wolverines whipping their dudes up front. Actually in the box score: he had a critical TFL that forced Minnesota to kick a short field goal.

#3 Drake Johnson didn't get many carries but was by far the most effective runner Michigan had; other guys had lanes but didn't take advantage of them. Hoping to see more of him going forward.

Honorable mention: Chesson and Darboh both had nice days. Glasgow again contributed to mostly good run defense.

KFaTAotW Standings.

9: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern, #1 MSU), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern, #2 MSU, #1 Minnesota)
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
4: Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland, #2 Minnesota)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland),
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Willie Henry(#3 Utah, #3 MSU).
1: AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Jake Rudock(#3 Northwestern), Drake Johnson(#3 Minnesota)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Form a f-ing wall.

Honorable mention: Speight throws the go-ahead touchdown and then converts for two; Peppers has the ball in his hands.


Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.
MSU: the bit where they won until they didn't.
Minnesota: form a f-ing wall.


This week's worst thing ever.

Channing Stribling gets beat over the top for what seems like the game-winning touchdown, until it was not.

Honorable mention: Mitch Leidner hurling the ball downfield on throws that are very bad ideas only for those to be complete anyway. Rudock underthrows another deep ball by 20 yards.


Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT
MSU: Obvious.
Minnesota: The bit where the lost it until they didn't.

[After THE JUMP: fluky fluky fluky.]


Unverified Voracity Invents Numbers

Unverified Voracity Invents Numbers Comment Count

Brian October 21st, 2015 at 12:45 PM

Bye week, remember. UFRs are delayed as I take the annual breather from the grind. These might be a little later than usual (Thurs/Friday in non-Hoke-doom-spiral years), but it's on its way.


Henry was fierce Saturday [Eric Upchurch]

The difference. PFF grades the game:

–In a direct contrast to the Spartans’ signal caller, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock (-3.0) struggled once again. He brought his grade down to -20.9 on the year, and didn’t look great even when he was completing passes. On 3rd-and-9 with 5:42 left in the third quarter, he underthrew wide receiver Amara Darboh on a go route, turning a potential touchdown into a play where the receiver had to save the reception.

Ouch. Another PFF article notes that they have Rudock the 7th-worst quarterback nationally in their grading system.

The Michigan defense has been on another level this year, with standouts on the defensive line in Chris Wormley (+25.3) and Maurice Hurst (+25.8), at linebacker in Desmond Morgan (+17.0) and at cornerback with Jourdan Lewis (+16.7). Before the loss to Michigan State they had posted three straight shutouts and yet, with Jake Rudock’s (-20.9) struggles at quarterback, they find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff picture. Our seventh-lowest graded player at the system, he has graded positively just once all year.

I don't think he's been that bad—I'm guessing PFF is dumping all of the collective WR/QB issues on Rudock since they must be going over these games as quickly as possible given the sheer volume of work they've given themselves. But he has not been good. We can definitely say that.

Not much more to do here than shrug at Hoke's QB recruiting and ponder the future.

In other PFF grade things. Both DLs grade every high, as did Michigan's LB corps. Ben Gedeon's most extensive playing time to date resulted in a solid +3.4 just behind Morgan. That's good for next year, and possibly the rest of this year.

Henry led the way for M despite the personal foul; you can see the implied struggles of Michigan's tackles in the grades of Calhoun and McDowell. Both Lewis and Burbridge graded out positively, which pretty much.

Still. "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because of one glaring personnel deficiency" is a lot better than "Michigan is not going to the college football playoff because hahahahaha



what would that score even look like

they'd have to invent new numbers

they've already invented all of them


So we've got that going for us.

Finally PFF thing that doesn't really have anything to do with PFF. In the second article I learned that Utah State has a defensive end named "Kyler Fackrell" who I really wish played for BC.

Advanced stats. The Connelly box score is kind of amazing. Michigan and MSU had 13 possessions and on average Michigan had a 14-yard advantage in field position. That is a whopping 182 yards almost entirely due to special teams, and that's how you lead a team that's outgained you by 160 yards until that thing happened.

Another item of note: M brutalized the MSU ground game, which had a "success rate" of 23%. Michigan was at 40%; national average is 42%. MSU made up for it in the air.

Michigan's five man cover one pressures. M has been running a ton of man free blitzes this year. James Light with a comprehensive breakdown of them:


When you have the personnel to hold up in the secondary in man coverage, Cover 1 Rat is very tough on quarterbacks and offenses in general, which is why this is the favorite coverage of Alabama head coach Nick Saban, “Man free, rat in the hole is the best coverage involved, absolutely the best coverage involved. They can’t run the ball, the quarterback has to throw the ball outside, and he can’t make any easy throws like when you play zone.”

Michigan ran into a team that was very, very good at hitting those tough outside throws and still had to eat a 75-yard fancy play coverage bust to give up 21.

The Raiders will double that respect. Harbaugh on the usual NFL rumors:

Harbaugh was asked Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches teleconference if it "bothers" him to hear his name tossed around in speculative circles with regard to other head coaching jobs.

His answer was simple.

"I won't comment on it, it's disrespectful to the game," he said. "I look at it as disrespectful."

I wouldn't run to the Har-bank with that since it's pretty much what he was saying last year when the 49ers were approaching the end of their season. This got headlined as "Jim Harbaugh says it's 'disrespectful' to mention his name for other coaching jobs," which is not quite what he said. To me he's saying, its disrespectful to the game to talk about taking other jobs when there is a season going on.

I don't think Harbaugh's leaving. He's definitely not leaving until he feels he's done right by Michigan. But if it should come to that a comment like the above is no more than a slightly more aggressive version of the usual deflection.

The cord cutting is coming ongoing. ESPN has started shedding high-priced talent as their six-bucks-from-every-granny-who-only-watches-Matlock model starts to implode. Now the cuts have gone wider:

Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN sports network, confronting rising programming costs and a loss of viewers, plans to eliminate as many as 350 positions, about 4.3 percent of its workforce, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

No, Stephen A. Smith won't be among them.

I hope the Big Ten enjoys this brief window in which the paltry Rutgers and Maryland fanbases are a net benefit to the bottom line—and only the bottom line—of the conference. It is not going to last much longer.

Louisville thing. It sounds not at all subtle.

A book, "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,"published this month by self-described former escort Katina Powell, 42, details nearly two dozen stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes and other students named for Louisville men's basketball head coach Rick Pitino's late brother-in-law. Powell, who first spoke to Indianapolis Business Journal Book Publishing, has said that McGee arranged the parties and paid her $10,000 for supplying dancers during the time period.

That is not a thing that you can reasonably say "I had no knowledge of X" about. If Rick Pitino was ignorant of five-digit payouts for dozens of sex parties that is also grounds for a firing. It should be obvious "lack of institutional control," but NCAA enforcement is a magic eight ball.

Very Harbaugh. One day after the MSU game he was at the White House. Obama:

He says Barack Obama watched Saturday's 27-23 loss to the Spartans and told the coach it "was a tough way to lose a football game."

Thanks, Obama.

Not yet please. Mike Spath talked to some NFL scouts and they are not blind.

At 5-10, 175 pounds, Lewis is smaller than ideal, but at least three scouts to have attended Michigan games this season told TheWolverine.com that the Detroit Cass Tech alumnus had earned a first-round grade from them.

"Some teams will shy away because they draft almost solely on physical traits but a kid like him, with that competitive fire, and an ability to make a play on the ball in the air, is really appealing," one of the observers noted.

Henry and Wormley are also attractive NFL prospects; the best shot Michigan has on offense is Jehu Chesson, if and when Chesson gets some polish. Hopefully they'll stick around for their senior seasons; if they do this epic defense will probably see a repeat next year.

Emo takes. The "Elsewhere" section in the game recap was abbreviated, but if you want to get some additional catharsis posts Andrew Kahn, the Hoover Street Rag and Holdin' The Rope have you. HTR:

A time-tested mantra I've found myself resorting to over my years of watching sports is a simple one, but resonant: Things happen.

Michigan completes a Hail Mary against Northwestern in 2012. Colorado completes a Hail Mary against Michigan in 1994. Yin and yang, a grand swinging pendulum of Fortune, karma, mindless spinning of a dimpled, brown prolate spheroid through wind and rain and snow and the sun's reaching rays in the Midwestern fall.

Would not have managed to go with "things" there. Good man.

Etc.: Brief Victor Viramontes video profile. Maize and Blue Nation on 100 Years of Moe's. Aubrey Dawkins was only recruited by Michigan and Dayton. Remember that this year. Accurate. Moritz Wagner is here, German. You can apparently vote TE commit Sean McKeon into the UA game.


Michigan State Postgame Presser: Players

Michigan State Postgame Presser: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 19th, 2015 at 9:00 AM



Jake Rudock and Desmond Morgan

Jake, kind of tough sledding for you guys out there offensively. Just talk about their defense and what they did.

“Obviously they’re a really good defense. They’ve shown that through a number of years now and this year. They work hard, well coached, and it’s [mumbles].”

Can you put into words losing that way?

DM: “I mean, it sucks. I don’t know if there’s any other way to put it. Obviously credit to them. They fought through the final whistle and played fought the entire game but yeah, it hurts.”

Desmond, obviously you guys knew how important to stop the run was. What did you guys do to take that away from them today?

“Just played. We didn’t really change anything up too much. You know, we knew that they had the ability to run the ball out of some personnels that normally indicated pass so we put in some things to address that but other than that we just played our base defense.”

It’s obviously a disappointing loss, but just given what you guys have shown this season is this something that you feel like is going to snag you the rest of the way or is this something that really can serve as motivation?

JR: “Can’t let it snag you. Just have to learn what we can learn from this game. Look and remember it’s one game. Obviously it’s very disappointing and hard to look at anything else right now but yeah, you’ve just got to keep fighting. Can’t let one loss lead to two.”

Is there any consolation knowing that it did come down to a fluky play, that you guys did play well enough to win this game?

JR: “As far as I’m concerned a loss is a loss regardless of what happens.”

Jake, any thoughts on maybe some missed opportunities? You had possession right before the half on their side of the field. Is this the type of game where you think about series that might have gone differently?

“Right now I can’t really address that. Obviously every series you want to go down and put points on the board, but that’s not going to happen. That’s not realistic football, so obviously we’ll see on film what we can improve on.”